23rd November 2020

Safai Mitra Suraksha Challenge

  • Recently, the Union Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs has launched the Safai Mitra Suraksha Challenge.
  • It aims to ensure that no life of any sewer or septic tank cleaner is ever lost again owing to the issue of ‘hazardous cleaning.
  • It is in line with Prime Minister’s vision who has always placed the safety and dignity of sanitation workers at the core of the Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban (SBM-U).
  • The challenge has been launched in 243 cities to mechanize all sewer and septic tank cleaning operations by 30th April 2021.
  • The challenge will focus extensively on creating citizen awareness on this critical issue along with infrastructure creation for mechanized cleaning and capacity building of workforce.
  • The Government of India is committed to ensure that no person needs to enter a sewer or septic tank, unless absolutely unavoidable in the interest of greater public hygiene.
  • The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act (2013) and various judgements of the Supreme Court expressly prohibit hazardous cleaning i.e. manual entry into a septic tank or sewer without protective gear and observing operating procedures.
  • India still continues to witness over hundred deaths per year due to manual scavenging.



  • The Prime Minister of India,  Narendra Modi, and the Prime Minister of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, Xavier Bettel, held the first-ever India-Luxembourg Virtual Summit. 
  • Both countries have friendly relation of over more than seven decades since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1948.
  • During the Summit, both parties agreed for enhanced cooperation in areas of trade, finance, steel, space, ICT, innovation, manufacturing, automotive, sustainable development, including through renewable energy, and the fight against climate change. 
  • Prime Minister welcomed Luxembourg’s announcement to join the International Solar Alliance (ISA), and invited it to join the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI).
  • Luxembourg is a founding member of the EU. 
  • In this context, the two leaders exchanged views on further strengthening India EU relations including forward movement on India EU trade agreements and investment agreements.
  • The Luxembourg Prime Minister conveyed the intention of Luxembourg to join the International Solar Alliance. 
  • Mr Modi invited Luxembourg to join the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure.
  • The leaders looked forward to the 17th Joint Economic Commission between India and the Belgium-Luxembourg Economic Union to review the economic and trade relations.
  • Three agreements were signed coinciding with the Summit. The agreements were:
    • MoU between India International Exchange (India INX) and Luxembourg Stock Exchange
    • MoU between State Bank of India and Luxembourg Stock Exchange
    • MoU between Invest India and Luxinnovation


Vatayan Lifetime Achievement Award at a virtual ceremony

    • Union Education Minister Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ was conferred with the Vatayan Lifetime Achievement Award at a virtual ceremony.  
  • Dr. Amish Tripathi, renowned writer, Director of the Nehru Center, London was the special guest on the occasion. 
  • This award is the another in the list of many other national and international awards and honours conferred to the Minister for writing, poetry and other literary works. 
  • Shri Pokhriyal has earlier received several awards in the field of literature and administration including Sahitya Bharati Award by the then Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Sahitya Gaurav Samman by Former President Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Bharat Gaurav Samman, Good Governance Award by Dubai Government, outstanding Achievement Award by Global Organization of Person of Indian Origin by Mauritius, awarded in Ukraine in the area of environmental protection, among others. 
  • Shri Nishank is also honoured with “Himal Gaurav Samman” by Nepal
  • The German version ‘nureinWunsch” of Shri Nishank’s story collection ‘Just a Desire’, is published in Afro Asian Institute, Hamburg. 
  • His ‘Sparsh Ganga’ initiative was included in Mauritius school curriculum. 
  • He is actively associated with various Social activities such as unique drive of `Swaran Ganga. 
  • Shri Pokhriyal has also organised Cultural Programmes worldwide as a Minister of Culture in Uttar Pradesh.
  • Vatayan International Awards given by the Vatayan-UK organization in London, honours poets, writers and artists for their exemplary work in their respective fields. 
  • Earlier many eminent personalities like Prasoon Joshi, Javed Akhtar have been awarded the Vatayan Awards for their literary contribution.
  • The programme was broadcast live on the Facebook of Vaishvik Hindi Parivar, eminent Hindi scholars, artists and media personnel from around the world, were present.


India and Bhutan will virtually launch RuPay Card phase-2

  • Prime Ministers of India and Bhutan will virtually launch RuPay Card phase-2 in Bhutan in November, 2020.
  • The two Prime Ministers had jointly launched phase-1 of the project during Indian PM’s visit to Bhutan in August 2019.
  • The implementation of phase-1 of RuPay cards in Bhutan has enabled Indian visitors in Bhutan to access ATMs and points of sale terminals across Bhutan. 
  • The phase-2 will now allow Bhutanese cardholders to access RuPay network in India.

Meghalaya Integrated Transport Project (MITP)

  • The Government of India, the Government of Meghalaya and the World Bank has signed a $120-million project to improve and modernize the transport sector of Meghalaya. 
  • This will help Meghalaya to harness its vast growth potential for high-value agriculture and tourism. 
  • The $120 million loans from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), has a maturity of 14 years including a grace period of six years. 
  • The International Bank of Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) is a development bank administered by the World Bank.
  • The Meghalaya Integrated Transport Project (MITP) will improve about 300 km of strategic road segments and stand-alone bridges by using innovative, climate-resilient, and nature-based solutions.
  • The segments will serve major agriculture areas, important tourist destinations, small-scale industries, major towns and underserved populations by linking them to markets, health and education centres, and national and international corridors.
  • It will also support innovative solutions such as precast bridges to reduce both time and cost of construction.
  • This operation will also support the state’s government “Restart Meghalaya Mission” to revive and boost development activities affected due to COVID-19 pandemic.
  • It will help restore transport services for the movement of agricultural produce, improve access to health facilities during COVID-19 type medical emergencies, benefit about 500,000 inhabitants, and generate direct employment of about 8 million person-days.



  • The Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) has been accepted as a component of the World Wide Radio Navigation System (WWRNS) for operation in the Indian Ocean Region by the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
  • This will enable merchant vessels to use IRNSS for obtaining position information similar to GPS and GLONASS to assist in the navigation of ships in ocean waters within the area covered by 50°N latitude, 55°E longitude, 5°S latitude and 110°E longitude.
  • IRNSS is an independent regional navigation satellite system developed by India. 
  • It is designed to provide accurate position information service to assist in the navigation of ships in Indian Ocean waters.
  • India has become the fourth country in the world to have its independent regional navigation satellite system recognised by the IMO as a part of the WWRNS. 
  • The other three countries that have its navigation systems recognised by the IMO are the US, Russia and China.


Awaas Diwas

  • Rural Development Minister  Narendra Singh Tomar virtually interacted with Rural Development Ministers and officials of the States on the occasion of “Awaas Diwas” celebration. 
  • During the interaction, Mr  Tomar mentioned that Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana -Gramin is not only credited with the task of providing houses to beneficiaries, but it also serves in protecting the dignity of the households.

Awaas Diwas is not just a day to celebrate a scheme, but a day to connect with crores of rural households, who have been greatly benefited by this scheme.

  • The Rural Housing Scheme, Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana – Gramin (PMAY-G) was launched by the  Prime Minister Narendra Modi  on 20th of November 2016 at Agra, Uttar Pradesh. 
  • To commemorate the launch of PMAY-G, which aims to provide “Housing for All” by 2022, it was decided to celebrate 20th November every year as Awaas Diwas.
  • The program envisages the completion of 2.95 crore  houses with all basic amenities by the year 2022. 
  • In the first phase of the scheme  from 2016-17 to 2018-19, a target for construction of one crore pucca houses were set. 
  • In the second  phase of the scheme starting from 2019-20 to 2021-22, the target of construction of the remaining 1.95 crore houses has been set.  
  • So far 1.75 Crore PMAY-G houses have been sanctioned and 1.20 crore houses have been completed against the allocated cumulative target of 2.26 crore houses


Seismic Survey Campaign by Oil India Limited

  • Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister inaugurated the Seismic Survey Campaign by Oil India Limited.
  • The survey under the Open Acreage Licensing Policy, OALP, will be undertaken in 5 blocks of 8 districts of Odisha in the Mahanadi basin and nearby areas.
  • Declaring the campaign open through virtual mode, Union Minister said that the commercial production of oil and gas from the Mahanadi basin will be a game changer in the socio-economic development of Odisha.
  • Mahanadi basin would emerge as an established and important hydrocarbon reserve in the oil map of India.


Micro Irrigation Fund

  • Micro Irrigation Fund with a corpus of Rs. 5000 crore created with NABARD was operationalised in 2019-20. 
  • The objective of the Fund is to facilitate the States in availing an interest subvented loan for expanding coverage of Micro Irrigation by taking up special and innovative projects and also for incentivising micro irrigation beyond the provisions available under PMKSY-Per Drop More Crop to encourage farmers to install micro irrigation systems.
  • Steering Committee of MIF has approved projects for loan of Rs.  3971.31 crore comprising  Rs. 764.13 crore for Gujarat, Rs. 1357.93 crore for Tamil Nadu, Rs. 616.13 crore for Andhra Pradesh, Rs. 276.55 crore for West Bengal,  Rs.790.94 crore for Haryana Rs. 150.00 crore for Punjab and Rs. 15.63 crore for Uttarakhand. 
  • NABARD released loan of Rs 659.70 crore to Haryana, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat. Thereby a total amount of Rs. 1754.60 crore  has been released so far, comprising Rs.  616.13 crore to   Andhra Pradesh, Rs. 937.47 crore to Tamil  Nadu, Rs. 21.57 crore to Haryana  and Rs. 179.43 crore to Gujarat.
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