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Prime Minister to launch Accessible India Campaign for Physically disabled people n important aim of the society is to integrate persons with disabilities in the society so that they can actively participate in society and lead a normal life. Ideally, a disabled person should be able to commute between home, work place and other destinations with independence, convenience and safety. The more persons with disabilities are able to access physical facilities, the more they will be part of the social mainstream. With firm commitment of the government towards socio-economic transformation of the persons with disabilities there is an urgent need to create mass awareness for universal accessibility. DEPwD is also in the process of creating a mobile app, along with a web portal for crowd sourcing the requests regarding inaccessible places. With the app, downloaded on his/her mobile phone, any person would be able to click a photograph or video of an inaccessible public place (like a school, hospital, government office etc.) and upload the same to the Accessible India portal. The portal will process the request for access audit, financial sanction and final retrofitting of the building to make it completely accessible. The mobile app and portal will also seek engagement of big corporates and PSUs to partner in the campaign by offering their help to conduct access audit and for accessibility- conversion of the buildings/transport and websites. India is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD), Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, has formulated the Accessible India Campaign (Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan), as a nation-wide campaign for achieving universal accessibility for PwDs. The campaign targets three separate verticals for achieving universal accessibility namely the built up environment, transportation eco-system and information & communication eco-system. The campaign has ambitious targets with defined timelines and will use IT and social media for spreading awareness about the campaign and seeking commitment / engagement of various stakeholders. The Department has asked various State Govts. to identify about 50 to 100 public buildings in big cities and also identify citizen centric public websites, which if made fully accessible would have the highest impact on the lives of PwDs. Once identified, “Access Audit” of these buildings and websites will be conducted by professional agencies. As per the audit findings, retrofitting and conversion of buildings, transport and websites would be undertaken by various government departments. This will be supported by the Scheme of Implementation of Persons with Disabilities Act (SIPDA), an umbrella scheme run by the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD) for implementing various initiatives for social and economic empowerment of PwDs. Article 9 of UNCRPD casts an obligation on all the signatory governments to take appropriate measures to ensure to persons with disabilities access, on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment, to transportation, to information and communications, including information and communications technologies and systems, and to other facilities and services open or provided to the public, both in urban and in rural areas. Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities. Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act 1995 under Section 44, 45 and 46 also categorically provides for non-discrimination in participation, non-discrimination of the roads and built up environment. As per Section 46 of the PwD Act, the States are required to provide for : i) Ramps in public buildings ii) Provision of toilets for wheelchair users iii)Braille symbols and auditory signals in elevators or lifts iv) Ramps in hospitals, primary health centres and other rehabilitation centres. Article 9 – Accessibility of UNCRPD 1. To enable persons with disabilities to live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life, States Parties shall take appropriate measures to ensure to persons with disabilities access, on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment, to transportation, to information and communications, including information and communications technologies and systems, and to other facilities and services open or provided to the public, both in urban and in rural areas. These measures, which shall include the identification and elimination of obstacles and barriers to accessibility, shall apply to, inter alia: Buildings, roads, transportation and other indoor and outdoor facilities, including schools, housing, medical facilities and workplaces; Information, communications and other services, including electronic services and emergency services. 2. States Parties shall also take appropriate measures to: Develop, promulgate and monitor the implementation of minimum standards and guidelines for the accessibility of facilities and services open or provided to the public; Ensure that private entities that offer facilities and services which are open or provided to the public take into account all aspects of accessibility for persons with disabilities; Provide training for stakeholders on accessibility issues facing persons with disabilities; Provide in buildings and other facilities open to the public signage in Braille and in easy to read and understand forms; Provide forms of live assistance and intermediaries, including guides, readers and professional sign language interpreters, to facilitate accessibility to buildings and other facilities open to the public; Promote other appropriate forms of assistance and support to persons with disabilities to ensure their access to information; Promote access for persons with disabilities to new information and communications technologies and systems, including the Internet; Promote the design, development, production and distribution of accessible information and communications technologies and systems at an early stage, so that these technologies and systems become accessible at minimum cost.
National award winning film ‘I Cannot Give You My Forest’ inspired by the issues of Niyamgiri Adivasis Nandan Saxena and Kavita Bahl’s film ‘I Cannot Give You My Forest’ is the story of Struggle for the survival of Adivasis in Niyamgiri. The film has won this year’s National award in the category of Best Environmental Film. The main theme of the film is an intimate poetic window into the lives of the Kondh, the original dwellers (Adivasis) of the forests of Niyamgiri in Odisha State. This film is about those peoples relationship with the forest. It highlights environmental issues and focus on struggle of tribals in day-today life. The Kondha are indigenous tribal groups of India. They live in Odisha, a state in eastern India. Their highest concentration is found in the blocks of Rayagada, Kashipur, Kalyansinghpur, Bissam cuttack and Muniguda. The Kondhas are believed to be from the Proto-Australoid ethnic group. Their native language is Kui, a Dravidian language written with the Oriya script. The Kondha are adept land dwellers exhibiting greater adaptability to the forest environment. However, due to development interventions in education, medical facilities, irrigation, plantation and so on, they are forced into the modern way of life in many ways. Their traditional life style, customary traits of economy political organization, norms, values and world view have been drastically changed over a long period. One sub-group of Kondhas is the Dongria Kondhas. They are called Dongria or dweller of donger and settle in higher altitudes due to their economic demands. They have a subsistence economy based on foraging, hunting & gathering but they now primarily depend on a subsistence agriculture i.e. shifting cultivation. The Dongrias commonly practice polygamy. By custom, marriage must cross clan boundaries (a form of incest taboo). The clan or “Puja” is exogamous, which means marriages are made outside the clan (yet still within the greater Dongoria population). The form of acquiring mate is often by capture or force or elopement. However, marriage by negotiation is also practiced. The Dongrias are great admirer of aesthetic romanticism. Their pantheon has both the common Hindu gods and their own. The gods and goddesses are always attributed to various natural phenomena, objects, trees, animals, etc. Vedanta Resources, a UK based mining company, is threatening the future of this tribe as their home the Niyamgiri Hill is rich in bauxite. The bauxite is also the reason there are so many perennial streams. The tribe’s plight is the subject of a Survival International short film narrated by actress Joanna Lumley. In 2010 India’s environment ministry ordered Vedanta Resources to halt a sixfold expansion of an aluminium refinery in Odisha. As part of its Demand Dignity campaign, in 2011 Amnesty International published a report concerning the rights of the Dongria Kondh. Vedanta has appealed against the ministerial decision, but the tribal leaders have promised to continue their struggle whatever the decision in a key hearing before India’s supreme court (in April 2012). In 2013 A three-member bench of the Supreme Court directed the village councils of Rayagada and Kalahandi to take a decision within three months on whether the project can go ahead after considering any claims of cultural, religious, community and individual rights that the forest dwellers of the region may have. The ruling linked the constitutional provision for the protection of Scheduled Tribes as enshrined in Article 224 with protection of religious rights under Articles 25 and 26 and the Forest Rights Act. After years of controversy and confusion, Vedanta’s project to mine bauxite on a forested hill considered sacred by an ancient tribe has been stopped by the Indian government.
UN Warns Air Pollution in Asia Pacific Has Rising Cost The United Nations Report says : The rising level of air borne pollution in Asia is extracting greater social and economic costs leading to millions of people dying prematurely each year. Globally some 7 million people a year die prematurely due to indoor and outdoor pollution with about 70 per cent of those deaths in the Asia Pacific. From forest fires with their smoky haze over South East Asia, to China’s smog-filled mega cites, to rural homes in South Asia choked by inefficient stoves, scientists say in Asia there are rising health and social costs from air borne particle pollution. The costs from air pollution are rising for millions across the region, with hundreds of cities facing pollution levels exceeding World Health Organization (WHO) safety standards. We know that well over 200 cities in Asia exceed WHO guidelines on PM2.5 emissions. Millions of people living in them exceeding WHO guidelines which is directly linked with basically chronic health problems. Emission rates from household fuel combustion should not exceed the following targets (ERTs) for particles with aerodynamic diameters of less than 2.5 µm (PM2.5) and carbon monoxide (CO), based on the values for kitchen volume, air exchange and duration of device use per day set out in Table R1.1 and which are assumed to be representative of conditions in low- and middle-income countries. Scientists warn that without significant steps, the number of premature deaths from air borne pollution will double by 2050. In South Asia, from Bangladesh to India and Pakistan, the toll to human life has been directly linked to people using stoves that burn solid cooking fuels, like wood or dung. Indoor pollution is a major contributor to health problems that compares to the pollution faced by urban communities with traffic borne smog. it’s not just a kind of respiratory problem, but it’s also a cardiovascular problem. it’s not just young children’s and women’s problem but across all age groups — men and women — everybody’s impacted — it makes it the top most public health environment concern. In India alone some 3.5 million deaths a year are attributable to household air pollution. But she adds India’s economic growth and rising incomes has led to more families to seek alternatives to solid fuels, such as liquid petroleum gas. Atmospheric brown clouds (ABCs) over mega cities from Bangkok, Japan, China and throughout India, also extract serious costs to communities. China is reported to be increasing investment to curb severe pollution in major cities, both the capital and regionally. But U.N. scientists say more must be done than merely punishing polluters. They say the challenge lies in ensuring there is the political will to enforce existing environmental laws and cooperate on cross border problems such as smoke haze and other atmospheric pollution. Air pollution in India It is quite a serious issue with the major sources being fuelwood and biomass burning, fuel adulteration, vehicle emission and traffic congestion. In autumn and winter months, large scale crop residue burning in agriculture fields – a low cost alternative to mechanical tilling – is a major source of smoke, smog and particulate pollution. The National Green Tribunal directed Delhi and its neighbouring States Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh to stop the age-old practice of straw burning recently. India has a low per capita emissions of greenhouse gases but the country as a whole is the third largest after China and the United States. A 2013 study on non-smokers has found that Indians have 30% lower lung function compared to Europeans. The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act was passed in 1981 to regulate air pollution and there have been some measurable improvements. However, the 2014 Environmental Performance Index ranked India 155 out of 178 countries.In which Air quailty is ranked 174 out of 178 countries.
Best IAS And KAS Coaching Centre In Bangalore PM Modi unveils historic Startup Action Plan The PM unveiled the historic Startup Action Plan.It was on the occasion of India’s 69th Independence Day that Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the Startup India initiative. It is focused on to restrict role of States in policy domain and to get rid of “license raj” and hindrances like in land permissions, foreign investment proposal, environmental clearances. It was organized by Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP). A startup is an entity that is headquartered in India which was opened less than five years ago and have an annual turnover less than ₹25 crore (US$3.7 million). Highlights of the action Plan: 1.Compliance regime based on self certification : Startups shall be allowed to self-certify compliance with labour and environment laws . No inspection will be conducted for three years. In case of environment laws, startups under ‘white’ category would be able to self certify compliance. 2.Startup India hub : Will be single-point of contact and hand-holding. 3.Simplifying the startup process : A startup will be to able to set up by just filling up a short form through a mobile app and online portal that will be launched in April. 4.Patent protection : The government will make IPR procedure transparent for stratups. Patent applications of the startups shall be fast tracked for examination and disposal. 80% in patent registration fee. 5.Panel of facilitators to provide legal support and assist in filing of patent application: Facilitators shall provide assistance for startups in filing and disposal of patent applications related to patents, trademarks and design under relevant Acts. Government shall bear the entire fees of the facilitators for any number of patents, trademarks or designs that a startup may file. 6.Relaxed norms of public procurement for startups: Startups (in the manufacturing sector) shall be exempted from the criteria of prior ‘experience/turnover’ without any relaxation in quality standards or technical parameters. 7.Faster exits for startups : To make it easier for startups to exit, provision for fast-tracking closure of businesses have been included in ‘The insolvency and Bankrupcy Bill 2015’. Startups with simple debt structures may be wound up within a period of 90 days from making of an application for winding up on a fast-track basis. 8.Funds of funds with a corpus of Rs 10, 000 crore: To provide funding support for development and growth of innovation driven enterprises, Government will set up a fund with an initial corpus of Rs 2, 500 crore and a total corpus of Rs 10, 000 crore over a period of 4 years. 9.Credit Guarantee Fund : To catalyse entrepreneurship through credit to innovators across all sections of society, credit guarantee mechanism through National Credit Guarantee Trust Company/SIDBI shall be rolled out with a budgetary corpus of Rs 500 cr per year for the next four years. 10.Exemption from Capital Gains Tax: Exemptions shall be given in case capital gains are invested in the fund of funds recognised by the government. In addition, existing capital gain tax exemption for investment in newly formed MSMEs by individuals shall be extended to all startups. (Generally, long-term capital gains are charged to tax @ 20% (plus surcharge and cess as applicable) 11.Tax exemption for startups: To promote growth of startups, profit of startups, set up after April 1, 2016, shall be exempted from income-tax for a period of three years. 12.Tax exemption on investments above Fair Market Value : In line with the exemption available to venture capital funds to invest in startups above fair market value (FMV), investments made by incubators above FMV shall also be exempted. 13.Startup fests : For showcasing innovation and providing a collaboration platform 14.Entrepreneurship promotion via Establishment of sector specific incubators Establishment of 500 tinkering labs with 3D printers in universities Pre-incubation training to potential entrepreneurs Strengthening of existing incubation facilities Seed funding to high growth startups 15.Innovation promotion via: Atal Innovation Mission Institution of innovation awards (three per state/UT) and three national level Providing support to State Innovation councils for awareness creation and organising state level workshops/conferences Launch of Grand Innovation Challenge Awards for finding low cost solution to India’s pressing and intractable problems 16.Setting up of 35 new incubators in institutions : Funding support of 40% (subject to a maximum of Rs 10 crore) shall be provided by central government for establishment of new incubators in existing institutions for which 40% funding by the respective state government and 20% funding by the private sector has been committed. 17.Setting up of 7 new research parks modeled on the research park at IIT Madras: Government shall set up seven new research parks – six in IITs, one in IISc with an initial investment of Rs 100 crore each. These parks shall enable companies with a research focus to set up base and leverage the expertise of academic/research institution. 18.Promote entrepreneurship in biotechnology: Five new bio clusters, 50 new bio incubators, 150 technology transfer offices and 20 bio connect offices will be established. 19.Innovation focused programmes for students : Innovation core program shall be initiated to target school kids with an outreach to 10 lakh innovations from five lakh schools. A Grand Challenge Program (National Initiative for Developing and Harnessing Innovations) to support and award Rs 10 lakhs to 20 student innovations from Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development Centres. Uchhattar Avishkar Yojana has earmarked Rs 250 crore per annum towards fostering ‘very high quality’ research amongst IIT students.
India re-elected as Member of International Maritime Council India has been re-elected unopposed to the Council of the International Maritime Organization [IMO] under Category “B” at the 29th session of the Assembly of the IMO held in London. The 29th Session of the IMO Assembly is being held at IMO Headquarters London . The International Maritime Organization [IMO] is a specialised agency of the United Nations responsible for regulating shipping. The IMO was established in Geneva in 1948. Headquartered in London, United Kingdom, the IMO has 171 Member States and three Associate Members. The IMO’s primary purpose is to develop and maintain a comprehensive regulatory framework for shipping and its remit today includes safety, environmental concerns, legal matters, technical co-operation, maritime security and the efficiency of shipping. India’s overseas seaborne EXIM trade, which is presently about 600 million tonnes per annum, is expected to be quadrupled to about 2, 200 million tons by the year 2020. In value terms, the commensurate figures thereof are in the region of US$ 900 billion and US$ 2100 billion respectively. India ranks amongst the top twenty ship owning countries of the world in terms of Gross Tonnage as well as Deadweight. Gross tonnage (often abbreviated as GT, G.T. or gt) is a unitless index related to a ship’s overall internal volume. IMO is supported by a permanent secretariat of employees who are representative of the organization’s members. To become a member of the IMO, a state ratifies a multilateral treaty known as the Convention on the International Maritime Organization. As of 2015, there are 171 member states of the IMO, which includes 170 of the UN members and the Cook Islands. The first state to ratify the convention was the United Kingdom in 1949. The Organization consists of an Assembly, a Council and five main Committees: The Maritime Safety Committee; The Marine Environment Protection Committee; The Legal Committee; the Technical Co-operation Committee and the Facilitation Committee. A number of Sub-Committees support the work of the main technical committees. India has been one of the earliest members of the IMO, having ratified its Convention and joined it as a member-state in the year 1959. India has had the privilege of being elected to and serving the Council of the IMO, ever since it started functioning, and till date, except for two years for the period 1983-1984. IMO Council plays a crucial role to play in deciding various important matters within the mandate of the IMO, in relation to the global shipping industry, including its work program strategy and budget. The IMO Council consists of 40 member countries who are elected by the IMO Assembly. India has acceded to/ratified about 32 of the Conventions/Protocols adopted by the IMO and 6 of them are under consideration for the purpose, during the year 2015. India has also been playing a leading role in actively participating in and taking pro-active measures to counter threats from sea-borne piracy. It may also be recalled that vulnerable areas were defined as High Risk Area (HRA), characterized by piracy attacks and / or hijackings and in 2008, the HRA line in the Indian Ocean region was designated at 65 degrees East longitude which was quite far away from India’s West Coast. The issue of the restoration of the said HRA geographical coordinate from its existing position of 78 degrees East longitude to 65 degrees East longitude. This is one of the most significant triumphs for India in the maritime sector on the global stage, in the past several years now, vindicating India’s reasoned stance and persistently persuasive soft skills in the matter. This will result in huge savings for India’s EXIM trade and consumers on account of reduced insurance premium and consequently freight costs. It will improve safety of fishermen and fishing boats, and will also improve the security along India’s coastline.
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