No funds’ for Central scholarship for SC/STs, Nitish govt raises aid for OBC-EBC students
At a time when Bihar’s ruling coalition is trying to sharpen its caste strategy to take on the BJP’s Hindutva agenda, it has raised the annual scholarship amount for students from Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and Extremely Backward Classes (EBCs) pursuing professional courses from Rs 90,000 to Rs 4 lakh from the 2023-’24 financial year. Fully funded by the Bihar government, it will replace a similar Central government scheme and will be known as the “CM OBC/EBC Post-entrance Scholarship Scheme”.
As part of its latest move, the government has also decided that students whose annual family income is less than Rs 3 lakh, as against Rs 2.5 lakh earlier, will be eligible to apply for the scholarship. The Department of Education will be the nodal agency for the implementation of the scheme that applies to students in Class 12 to those pursuing Master’s degrees or professional and technical courses such as management and engineering in government or private institutions in the state. Only those with Bihar domicile can apply for the aid.
India and Ukraine Chamber of Commerce to be set up
An India-Ukraine Chamber of Commerce will be established in the upcoming months in an effort to strengthen commercial ties. The Chamber will work to increase opportunities for investment and cooperation in industries including infrastructure and power with the help of the Ukrainian government.
The Ukrainian Embassy in India reports that in 2021, bilateral trade between India and Ukraine totaled $3.45 billion.
Ukraine sold fertilisers and vegetable oils worth $2.49 billion to India, but it also received $961.2 billion worth of commodities from that country.
Pakistan becomes largest recipient of ADB funded programmes in 2022
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) Annual Report 2022 revealed that Pakistan received loans of $5.58 billion, making it the largest recipient of ADB-funded programs/projects in the year 2022. Out of the total lending, Pakistan received concessional funding of $2.67 billion from the bank, highlighting the dire economic situation in the country. This significant lending reflects the severity of the economic crisis in Pakistan, which has been compounded by political and geopolitical uncertainties.
The ADB report cited extreme floods in Pakistan that damaged over one-third of the Kharif (summer) seasonal cropping area, curtailing food supply and driving up prices. Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, drought and flash floods worsened food insecurity and contributed to soaring prices of staple items, impacting the entire population. To address this crisis, the ADB committed $3.7 billion from the programme in 2022, including essential food assistance for those in need, especially women and girls, in Afghanistan (using UN systems), Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.
Ministry of Health plans to launch 100 Food Streets Nationwide
The Union Health Ministry and the Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs have made a noteworthy and inventive decision to urge states and Union Territories to establish 100 food streets in 100 districts throughout the country. This pilot project is intended to serve as a model for other streets to follow and promote hygienic and safe food practices.
The objective of this initiative is to encourage food businesses and community members to adopt safe and healthy food practices, ultimately leading to a decrease in foodborne illnesses and an enhancement in overall health outcomes.
The one-of-a-kind project will be executed through the National Health Mission (NHM), in collaboration with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, and with technical assistance from FSSAI. To address significant gaps, financial support in the amount of Rs.1 crore per food street/district will be provided to the States/Union Territories. 100 such food streets will be established in 100 districts throughout the country, with a standardized branding of the food streets in compliance with FSSAI guidelines. This support will be given under the National Health Mission (NHM) in the ratio of 60:40 or 90:10.
Central Government notified the Animal Birth Control Rules, 2023
The Central government has recently issued the Animal Birth Control Rules, 2023, which are designed to comply with the guidelines set by the Supreme Court in a writ petition involving the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) and the People for Elimination of Stray Troubles. The Supreme Court had issued several orders emphasizing that the relocation of dogs was not permissible.
The rules mandate the implementation of Animal Birth Control programmes for stray dogs by local bodies, municipalities, municipal corporations, and panchayats.
Effective implementation of the rules can help reduce the stray dog population and address animal welfare issues.
Municipal corporations must jointly implement the Animal Birth Control and Anti Rabies Programmes.
CBSE ready to introduce AI and coding from Classes 6 to 8
The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), as part of the New Education Policy (NEP) 2020, has made the decision to include coding and artificial intelligence (AI) in the curriculum for Classes 6 to 8. This move recognizes the importance of mathematics and computational thinking in preparing students for future careers in AI, machine learning, and data science.
Ghana becomes first country to approve Oxford malaria vaccine for children
Ghana has made history by becoming the first country to approve a highly effective malaria vaccine developed by scientists at the University of Oxford in the UK. The vaccine, called R21/Matrix-M, has exceeded the World Health Organization’s target of 75% efficacy, making it a significant milestone in the fight against malaria.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 619,000 people died from malaria in 2021, with the vast majority of the deaths being children in sub-Saharan Africa.
In Ghana, where malaria is endemic and perennial, an estimated 5.3 million cases and 12,500 deaths were recorded in 2021. The R21/Matrix-M vaccine, which has shown promising results in clinical trials, could be a game-changer in reducing the burden of malaria in Ghana and other sub-Saharan African countries.
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