28th November 2020

Portal for transgender persons

  • The ministry of social justice and empowerment on Wednesday launched a portal that will allow transgender persons to apply online for certification of their self-perceived gender identity.
  • Launched by Union minister Thawar Chand Gehlot, the portal will allow transgender persons to upload an affidavit declaring their gender identity, which will then become the basis for their identity certificates to be issued by the district magistrate.
  • One is expected to get an identity card within 30 days of the district authorities reviewing the application. 
  • Following the passage of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act 2019, the law allows for self-perceived identification by an applicant for an identity certificate.
  • Transgender persons who have already recorded a change in gender identity, prior to the enactment of the law, will not need to apply for a certificate of identity under the rules notified on September 25.
  • The portal will also enable them to register their grievances and help build a database of the community.
  • The ministry will also open shelter homes for trans people in each state. 
  • The first such home was inaugurated in Gujarat today and will offer shelter and skill training to those in need.


Ordinance to curb forcible or “dishonest” religious conversions

The Uttar Pradesh government approved a draft ordinance to curb forcible or “dishonest” religious conversions including those for the sake of marriage, which could land violators in jail for up to 10 years.

  • Under the proposed law, a marriage will be declared “null and void” if the conversion of a woman is solely for that purpose.
  • Those wishing to change their religion after marriage need to apply to the district magistrate, according to the draft ordinance which would become law after its promulgation by the state Governor.
  • The Prohibition of Unlawful Religious Conversion Ordinance, 2020, recommends 1-5 years imprisonment if an accused fails to prove that the conversion of the woman was not for marriage or by use of force, allurement etc.
  • The jail sentence for the offence would be 3-10 years if the woman is from the SC/ST community or is seen as part of mass conversion.
  • The notice period to the district magistrate for the religious conversion has been doubled to two months from a month in an earlier draft.


National Science Film Festival of India (NSFFI) 

  • National Science Film Festival of India (NSFFI) is a flagship event of Vigyan Prasar, Department of Science & Technology, Govt. of India.
  • The festival offers a unique platform to showcase the science films made by professionals, amateur and student filmmakers under various themes.
  • National Science Film Festival of India (NSFFI) aims to celebrate the science outreach through cinema. 
  • NSFFI is India’s first of its kind of film festival where documentaries and short films on popular science, technology, health & environmental issues are being screened.
  • It is a national level competition of science films being organised annually.
  • Vigyan Prasar, an autonomous agency under the Department of Science and Technology, Govt. of India.
  • The national science film festival 2020 is being jointly by organized Vigyan Prasar, and the Tripura State Council of Science and Technology, Govt. of Tripura.
  • It has been organizing this festival as a part of its science popularization endeavour.
  • The tenth edition of prestigious science film festival got off in a virtual mode.
  • These include films in Hindi, English, Urdu, Malayalam, Kashmiri, Bengali, Marathi, Punjabi and Tamil languages.


Desalination plant in Mumbai

  • Maharashtra announced the setting up of a desalination plant in Mumbai, becoming the fourth state in the country to experiment with the idea.
  • A desalination plant turns salt water into water that is fit to drink.
  • The most commonly used technology used for the process is reverse osmosis where an external pressure is applied to push solvents from an area of high-solute concentration to an area of low-solute concentration through a membrane.
  • The microscopic pores in the membranes allow water molecules through but leave salt and most other impurities behind, releasing clean water from the other side.
  • Desalination is an expensive way of generating drinking water as it requires a high amount of energy.
  • The other problem is the disposal of the by-product — highly concentrated brine — of the desalination process. 
  • While in most places brine is pumped back into the sea, there have been rising complaints that it ends up severely damaging the local ecology around the plant.
  • Worldwide, desalination is seen as one possible answer to stave off water crisis. 
  • These plants are mostly set up in areas that have access to sea water.
  • Desalination has largely been limited to affluent countries in the Middle East and has recently started making inroads in parts of the United States and Australia.
  • In India, Tamil Nadu has been the pioneer in using this technology, setting up two desalination plants near Chennai in 2010 and then 2013.
  • The other states that have proposed these plants are Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh.


98% of the Earth’s water is saltwater, found in seas and oceans. The other 2% is freshwater, for use by homes, farms and industry, but 40% of people cannot access it. Some people have to travel miles to find freshwater.  Desalination technology provides solution. The most advanced and efficient system is reverse osmosis.

Osmosis is a physical phenomenon by which two liquids, in different concentrations, separated by a semi-permeable membrane, come into contact and tend to even themselves out. The liquid with the lower concentration crosses the membrane toward that with highest concentration.

This process is inverted in reverse osmosis. We take in seawater, a highly concentrated solution, and force it through the membrane by adding pressure. On the other side, we obtain salt-free water, while back on the first side the remaining water still holds the salt the membrane prevented from passing through.

Reverse osmosis process

In reverse osmosis desalination, water is taken from the sea and receives a first treatment to eliminate impurities, oil, seaweed, rubbish, and so on. Once free of organic substances, the saltwater can be subjected to reverse osmosis. After the filtering, we have two streams: one brine and the other freshwater. The brine solution is diluted before being returned to the sea, avoiding high concentrations of salt which could harm the ecosystem. The freshwater passes through a remineralization and chlorination process, after which it is stored in tanks and then sent to the distribution network for consumption.

Reverse osmosis is not only the most advanced desalination system in the world today, it is the most efficient and beneficial for the planet: it generates up to four-and-a half-times fewer greenhouse gas emissions than all other technologies, it doesn’t harm the marine environment, and it’s able to recover a large part of the energy used in the process.

The product water of the desalination process is generally water with less than 500 mg/1 dissolved solids, which is suitable for most domestic, industrial, and agricultural uses.

A by-product of desalination is brine. Brine is a concentrated salt solution (with more than 35 000 mg/1 dissolved solids) that must be disposed of, generally by discharge into deep saline aquifers or surface waters with a higher salt content. Brine can also be diluted with treated effluent and disposed of by spraying on golf courses and/or other open space areas.



The government is using eVIN – Electronic Vaccine Intelligence Network in association with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to identify primary beneficiaries and vaccine distribution networks.

  • E-VIN is an indigenously developed technology that digitizes vaccine stocks and monitors the temperature of the cold chain through a smartphone application.
  • It was first launched across 12 states in 2015 to support better vaccine logistics management at cold chain points.
  • It supports the central government’s Universal Immunization Programme by providing real-time information on vaccine stocks and flows, and storage temperatures across all cold chain points across states and UTs.
  • eVIN combines state-of-the-art technology, a strong IT infrastructure and trained human resource to enable real-time monitoring of stock and storage temperature of the vaccines kept in multiple locations across the country.
  • At present, 23,507 cold chain points across 585 districts of 22 States and 2 UTs routinely use the eVIN technology for efficient vaccine logistics management.



  • All fixed to mobile calls will be dialed with the prefix ‘0’ from January 15, 2021, said the Ministry of Communications.
  • “With the consideration of TRAI Recommendation on ‘Ensuring Adequate Numbering Resources for Fixed Line and Mobile Services’ Department of Telecommunications has taken the decision of implementing the following: All Fixed to Mobile calls will be dialed with prefix ‘0’ from 15th January, 2021.
  • There will be no change in dialing plan from fixed to fixed, mobile to fixed and mobile to mobile calls. 
  • Suitable announcement will be made for the same. 
  • This announcement shall be played whenever a subscriber dials a fixed to mobile call without prefixing ‘0’. 
  • All fixed line subscribers will be provided with ‘0’ dialing facility,” read a press statement from the Ministry of Communications.
  • According to the statement, A total of approximately 2539 million numbering series is expected to be generated from the above. 
  • This will free up sufficient numbering resources for future use. 
  • With the freeing up of sufficient numbering resources, more number of connections can be added in future which will be beneficial to the mobile customers at large.
  • The above changes have been done in order to have minimum inconvenience to the subscribers and freeing up essential numbering resources, the statement added.


Lakshmi Vilas Bank (LVB) merger with DBS Bank India Ltd (DBIL)

  • The government approved merger of crisis-ridden Lakshmi Vilas Bank (LVB) with DBS Bank India Ltd (DBIL) and removed restrictions on withdrawal of deposits by depositors.
  • The Union Cabinet has approved the merger of the LVB with DBS Bank India Limited, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar told reporters, adding the decision will provide comfort to 20 lakh depositors and protect the services of 4,000 employees.
  • “Cabinet approves Scheme of Amalgamation of Lakshmi Vilas Bank with DBS Bank India Limited; with these there will no further restrictions on the depositors regarding withdrawal of their deposits,” the official spokesperson said in a tweet.
  • The minister said that those responsible for deteriorating financial health of the LVB would be penalised.
  • The government had earlier on November 17 on the advice of the RBI imposed a 30-day moratorium on the crisis-ridden LVB restricting cash withdrawal at Rs 25,000 per depositor.
  • The RBI simultaneously placed in public domain a draft scheme of amalgamation of LVB with DBIL, a banking company incorporated in India under Companies Act, 2013, and having its Registered Office at New Delhi.
  • The Reserve Bank had also superseded the board of the LVB and appointed T N Manoharan, former non-executive chairman of Canara Bank, as administrator of the bank for 30 days.
  • LVB is the second private sector bank after Yes Bank which has run into rough weather during this year. 
  • In March, capital-starved Yes Bank was placed under a moratorium. 
  • The government rescued Yes Bank by asking state-run State Bank of India to infuse Rs 7,250 crore and take 45 per cent stake in the bank.


FDI in Telecom

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved the FDI proposal for acquisition of 12.32 per cent of equity share capital, on a fully diluted basis, of ATC Telecom Infrastructure Pvt Ltd by ATC Asia Pacific PTE Ltd.

  • The acquisition is being done as a result of exercise of option by Tata Tele Services Ltd (TTSL) and Tata Sons Pvt Ltd (TSPL).
  • This share purchase would lead to foreign direct investment inflow of ₹2,480.92 crore, a government statement said.
  • With this approval, the cumulative FDI of ATC Asia Pacific PTE Ltd (ATC Singapore) into ATC Telecom Infrastructure Pvt Ltd (ATC India) will be ₹5,417.2 crore in financial years 2018-19 to 2020-21.
  • ATC Telecom Infrastructure Pvt Ltd is engaged in the business of providing passive telecom infrastructure services to telecom operators, pursuant to various approvals granted to it by Department of Telecommunications. 
  • The company has existing FDI approval up to 86.36 per cent and with this approval, it will rise to 98.68 per cent, on a fully diluted basis.
  • The inflow of foreign investment to India will spur economic growth; as well as foster innovation, the government release said.


NIIF- National Investment and Infrastructure Fund

  • The Union approved an equity infusion by the government of Rs. 6,000 crores in NIIF- National Investment and Infrastructure Fund over the course of two years.
  • The Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Prakash Javadekar during a media briefing informed that the cabinet has taken a significant decision of capital infusion in NIIF.
  • The Union Minister also informed that under NIIF, two firms, NIIF Infrastructure Finance Limited (NIIF-FL) and Aseem Infrastructure Finance Limited- AIFL will be responsible for mobilizing the funds.
  • The Aseem Infrastructure Finance Limited will be financing under construction brown field and green field projects with less than a year of operations.
  • AIFL is AA rated company while NIIF-FL is AAA-rated. 
  • The NIIF debt platform will be putting in Rs. 7,000 crores equity while through global bond bank markets Rs. 1 lakh crore will be mobilized to make Rs. 1.1 lakh crore available for the infrastructure projects in the first tranche.
  • The central government whose investment will go into the strategic opportunities fund of NIIF has allocated Rs. 2,000 crores for the current fiscal.
  • However, as per the statement, in view of the unprecedented financial situation as well as the availability of limited fiscal space because of the pandemic, the proposed amount can be distributed only if there are demand and readiness for debt raising.
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