August 2019

Daily Current Affairs (22-08-19)


Related Topics: Educational Reforms, Government Policies and Interventions

Why in News

Union Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) launched the world’s biggest project for teacher training of its kind called National Initiative for School Heads’ and Teachers’ Holistic Advancements (NISHTHA).

Need for Training

  • Teachers hold a pivotal position in society and help build character in students.
  • Teachers in the present day are expected to be aware of the provisions regarding Gender, The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
  • The teachers are the powerhouse of the nation and they must be of the highest quality.


The integrated training will motivate and equip teachers to encourage and foster critical thinking in students, handle diverse situations and act as first-level counsellors.

Who will be part of NISHTA?

  • This integrated programme aims to build the capacities of around 42 lakh participants covering all teachers and Heads of the school at the elementary level in all government school, faculty members of states councils of Educational Research and Training and other educational departments.
  • The 33120 Key Resource Persons (KRPs) and State Resource Persons (SRP) identified by State and UTs will be conducting training directly.
  • These KRPs will in turn be trained by 120 National Resource Persons identified from NCERT, CBSE, National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration (NIEPA), KVS, NVS, and NGOs.

Training Modules

Standardized training modules are developed at national level for all States and UTs. However, States and UTs can contextualize the training modules and use their own material and resource persons also, keeping in view the core topics and expected outcomes of NISHTHA.

First Level Counsellors

The programme seeks to train all heads and teachers as first level counsellors to be alert and responsive to the needs of the students, in addition to promoting joyful learning and taking special care of the requirements of special children.


  • The programme has been integrated with technology to ensure smooth facilitation, availability of digital content and technology enabled teaching methods to support the teachers.
  • A Mobile App and Learning Management System (LMS) based on MOODLE (Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment) have been developed by NCERT.

Post Training Interventions

  • In order to ensure sustainable impact on classroom transactions, the programme is embedded with post training interventions including provision of mentoring.
  • After the completion of KRP training, National Resource Persons will regularly be in touch with KRPs through WhatsApp/Facebook groups etc and will form Quality Circles that will work to share ideas, challenges and their solutions and best practices.
  • This will help in building pedagogical skills and connecting with peers, thereby leading to improvement in learning outcomes of the students.
[Sources: PIB, All India Radio]



Related Topics: Environment & Biodiversity, Geology


  • A team of Indian and French researchers have concluded that the hot arid desert of Kutch was once a humid sub-tropical forest with a variety of birds, freshwater fish and possibly giraffes and rhinos.
  • Their conclusions are based on the discovery of a tranche of vertebrate fossils from nearly 14 million years ago in a geological time period known as the Miocene.
  • The fossils, consisting mostly of ribs, and parts of teeth and bones, were unearthed from Palasava village of Rapar taluk in Kutch, Gujarat.

Transformation from a ‘Forest’ to a ‘Desert’

  • The fossil finds suggest that a rich diversity of fauna and flora sustained in warm, humid/wet, tropical to sub-tropical environmental conditions during the Middle Miocene (about 14 million years ago).
  • The bulk of fossils unearthed in Kutch have so far been mainly marine organisms, due to their proximity to the Arabian Sea.
  • Geological changes eventually closed off the salt-flats’ connection to the sea and the region turned into a large lake, eventually becoming salty wetlands.


  • The findings point to clues on how mammals dispersed between Africa and the Indian subcontinent when part of India was in the Gondwanaland supercontinent that existed nearly 300 million years ago.
  • The findings showed Kutch to be a potential treasure trove of mammal fossils with possible continuity to vertebrate fossils in the Siwalik, spanning Pakistan to Nepal.

About Miocene

  • The Miocene is the first geological epoch of the Neogene Period and extends from about 23.03 to 5.333 million years ago (Ma).
  • The Miocene is preceded by the Oligocene of the Paleogene Period and is followed by the Pliocene.

[Source: The Hindu]



Related Topics: Indian Economy, Foreign Portfolio Investor (FPI)


  • Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has simplified the compliance and operational requirements for foreign portfolio investors (FPIs), to make the regulatory framework more investor friendly.
  • The key focus of the proposed regulations is to simplify and rationalise the existing regulatory framework for foreign portfolio investors in terms of easing the operational constraints and compliance requirements.


SEBI decisions came at a time when the domestic market has been witnessing strong foreign outflows, which exceeded Rs 21,000 crore during July and August.

Key Highlights

  • To simplify the registration process and to bring about ease in compliance requirements for FPIs, the broad based eligibility criteria for institutional foreign investors has been done away with. At present, for a fund to be categorised as broad based, it needs to have at least 200 investors.
  • FPIs will be classified into two categories instead of three, while the requirements for issuance and subscription of offshore derivative instruments (ODIs) will be rationalised.
  • FPIs will be permitted off-market transfer of securities which are unlisted, suspended or illiquid, to a domestic or foreign investor.
  • Central banks that are not members of BIS (Bank of International Settlement) will be eligible for FPI registration.
  • Registration for Multiple Investment Manager (MIM) structures has been simplified.
  • Know Your Client (KYC) requirements for foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) have been simplified.
  • Entities established in the IFSC (International Financial Services Centre) would be deemed to have met the jurisdiction criteria for FPIs. This is expected to be a big booster for the financial centre in the GIFT City.

[Sources: The Hindu, Economic Times]



Related Topics: Environment & Biodiversity, Natural Disasters, Gadgil Report


The Unsustainable factor of ‘Kerala Model’ is discussed in this article, published in ‘The Hindu’ newspaper.


  • In 2018, Kerala was overwhelmed by an unprecedented flooding combined with landslides which caused many deaths.
  • What was new compared to the times of equally high rainfall in the early part of the last century was the flooding due to inept dam management and the vulnerability of the terrain induced by the pattern of land use.
  • In 2019, it is the landslides that have caused most deaths which points to the role of uncontrolled economic expansion.

What is ‘Kerala Model’?

  • The Kerala model of development is characterised by achievements in social indicators such as literacy, life expectancy, infant mortality and birth rate and by “striking performance in raising living standards and in providing access to basic facilities”.
  • The achievements of Kerala in social indicators are comparable even to those of the advanced countries.
  • Based on the pertinent observation of Amartya Sen, the state seemed to have attained high social development at a relatively low level of income by comparison to the rest of India.

Why it is Unsustainable?

  • The foremost criticism of the model is the inability to meet the employment aspirations of the people, pushing them to live under authoritarian regimes overseas.
  • The laudable public provision of health and education has been financed by borrowing.
  • Kerala has the highest per capita public debt among States, implying that the present generation is passing on the bill for our own maintenance to future generations.
  • Kerala has not done so well when viewed through the lens of gender justice.
  • High levels of female education have not led to an equally high participation of women in the labour force or in governance, even though they participate equally in elections.
  • The main drawback of the Kerala model of development, which relies on remittances for its apparent prosperity, is its failure to strengthen the base of the economy, particularly industry.
  • The whole process of redistribution and social progress will be jeopardised once the remittances are discontinued.
  • The key factor retarding the industrial development appears to be labour agitation, which was acclaimed as the determining factor in the redistribution process.

Recent Natural Calamities

  • Two consecutive years of a natural calamity exacerbated by human action are a revelation that the Kerala Model has run its course.
  • The extraordinary events that the state witnessed this year range from fountains sprouting out of the earth due to the hitherto unknown ‘water piping’ to constructed structures shifting, physical phenomena not yet widely understood.
  • There has been overbuilding in Kerala, with absentee owners having invested in luxury houses they do not always occupy.
  • As a result poorer households are crowded out of safe locations on the plains to precarious ones on the hills.
  • Wherever landslides happened, there were granite quarries on the other side of the hill, according to government data on damages and a recent mapping of Kerala’s granite quarries.

Failure of Public Policy

  • Public policy has failed miserably to regulate land use including rampant quarrying, which destabilises the earth’s surface, with political patronage.
  • In 2015, Kerala State government did away with environmental clearance for quarries in existence for three years.
  • In 2017, the state government relaxed the rules for quarrying further.
  • It also weakened the provisions of the legislation governing conversion of agricultural land into construction sites.
  • The rice paddies had both produced food and served as gargantuan sinks for rainwater.
  • Kerala’s political class, irrespective of their ideologies, have responded to commercial interests over the welfare of ordinary people.

Way Forward

  • There is no certainty that the remittances will continue forever and thus timely action should be taken to make use of the remittances to strengthen the economic base.
  • The people of Kerala need to acknowledge that their consumption pattern must change as it has adversely impacted the natural environment, the consequences of which have begun to hurt them.
  • Any developmental activities like construction of roads and buildings in ecological sensitive areas of the state should be accompanied with remedial measures for slope stabilisation.
  • Mining should be conducted for construction activities, but the authorities should ensure that it does not affect the environment.
  • Kerala should involve local communities and rebuild itself in a sustainable manner, recreating not only the lost man-made capital, but also its “natural, human and social capital”.
  • Government should consider implementing the provisions of Gadgil Committee report which discuss ecological problems of Western Ghats.

[Source: The Hindu]



  • On 22 August 2019, United Nations is observing the first ever ‘International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief’ with an aim to honour victims and survivors of heinous acts who often remain forgotten.
  • The Appointments Committee of Cabinet (ACC) headed by Prime Minister has approved appointment of Rajiv Gauba, as India’s new Cabinet Secretary with tenure of two years. The Cabinet Secretariat functions directly under the Prime Minister. The administrative head of the Secretariat is the Cabinet Secretary who is also the ex-officio Chairman of the Civil Services Board.
  • After the success of the Chandigarh leg, Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju and former India football captain Baichung Bhutia flagged off the Delhi leg of Op-Blue Freedom. This is an initiative in which a group of armed forces veterans train sports enthusiasts in survival training and self-defence. Op-Blue Freedom is a nation-wide adaptive scuba diving programme for people with disabilities as well as the able bodied.
  • Madhya Pradesh para swimmer Satendra Singh Lohia has become the first Asian swimmer to cross the Catalina Channel of America. Stretching between Santa Catalina Island and Los Angeles in California, the Catalina Channel is 21 miles long.
  • Maharashtra’s Tribal Development Department in association with the Pace Educational Trust launched an academic programme “Super 50”. The programme will mentor 50 most meritorious tribal students from the State and prepare them for engineering and medical exams.



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