News: The IT systems of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) have been down over the past week, sending Aadhaar holders into a tizzy as deadlines loom to link their UIDAI identity details with their Employees’ Provident Fund accounts and the Income Tax Department’s Permanent Account Number (PAN).
Aadhaar is a 12-digit unique identity number that can be obtained voluntarily by citizens of India, non-residents passport holders of India and resident foreign nationals who have spent over 182 days in twelve months immediately preceding the date of application for enrollment, based on their biometric and demographic data.
The data is collected by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), a statutory authority established in January 2009 by the government of India, under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, following the provisions of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and other Subsidies, benefits and services) Act, 2016.
Aadhaar is the world’s largest biometric ID system. World Bank Chief Economist Paul Romer described Aadhaar as “the most sophisticated ID programme in the world”.
Considered a proof of residence and not a proof of citizenship, Aadhaar does not itself grant any rights to domicile in India.
In June 2017, the Home Ministry clarified that Aadhaar is not a valid identification document for Indians travelling to Nepal and Bhutan.
Despite the validity of Aadhaar being challenged in the court, the central government has pushed citizens to link their Aadhaar numbers with a host of services, including mobile sim cards, bank accounts, the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation, and a large number of welfare schemes including but not limited to the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, the Public Distribution System, and old age pensions.
2. PM CARES
News: The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Union government if it can immediately release money from the PM-Cares Fund for the education of children who have been orphaned or have lost legal guardians or either of their parents during the COVID-19 pandemic.
About PM CARES Fund:
The Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund (PM CARES Fund) was created on 27 March 2020, following the COVID-19 pandemic in India.
The stated purpose of the fund is for combating, and containment and relief efforts against the coronavirus outbreak and similar pandemic like situations in the future.
Although the documentation for the constitution of the fund has not been made public, the Government of India has stated that the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, is the chairman of the fund, and that trustees include the Minister of Defence, Rajnath Singh; Minister of Home Affairs, Amit Shah, and Minister of Finance, Nirmala Sitharaman, in the Government of India.
The total amount of funds donated and the names of donors have not been publicly disclosed, and the fund is privately audited.
The Government of India has initially claimed that the fund is a private fund, and denied that the PM CARES Fund is a public fund for the purposes of transparency laws such as the Right to Information Act 2005, even though the Fund uses government infrastructure and the national emblem of the Government of India.
The Government of India announced that it would be setting aside a 15-year old policy of declining foreign aid in cases of disasters and calamities, in order to accept foreign donations to the PM CARES Fund. The Fund has since received pledges of support from a number of foreign entities and persons, including Russia’s State-owned defence exports company Rosoboron export.
3. SAMBHAR SALT LAKE
News: The world famous Sambhar Salt Lake in Rajasthan, which is constantly shrinking with the degradation of soil and water quality and a decline in the population of migratory birds, needs a faster restoration for conservation of its wetland and salt brine worth $300 million, an expert study on the lake’s ecology.
The lake, situated 80 km south-west of Jaipur, is the country’s largest inland saline water body which attracts thousands of migratory birds every year.
The death of more than 20,000 birds belonging to about 10 species which migrate annually to the lake had made international headlines in 2019.
The birds foraging in the Sambhar marshlands had died due to avian botulism.
About Sambhar Salt Lake:
The Sambhar Salt Lake, India’s largest inland salt lake, is located 80 km (50 mi) southwest of the city of Jaipur and 64 km (40 mi) northeast of Ajmer, Rajasthan. It surrounds the historical Sambhar Lake Town.
The lake receives water from six rivers: Mantha, Rupangarh, Khari, Khandela, Medtha and Samod.
The lake is an extensive saline wetland, with water depth fluctuating from as few as 60 centimetres (24 in) during the dry season to about 3 meters (10 ft) at the end of the monsoon season.
4. NANDI HILLS
News: New Tourism Minister of Karnataka has proposed that the Nandi Hills in Chickballapur district be developed on a public-private partnership model. At a meeting, Minister B.S. Anand Singh said Nandi Hills is a beautiful spot and the PPP model will be implemented to develop it.
About Nandi Hill:
Nandi Hills is an ancient hill fortress built by Ganga Dynasty and later enlarged and strengthened by Tipu Sultan in southern India, in the Chikkaballapur district of Karnataka state.
It is 10 km from Chickballapur town and approximately 60 km from Bengaluru.
The hills are near the town Nandi. In traditional belief, the hills are the origin of the Arkavathy river, Ponnaiyar River, Palar River, Papagni and Penna River.
During the Chola period, Nandi Hills was called Anandagiri meaning The Hill of Happiness. It is also perhaps called Nandi Hills because the hills resemble a sleeping bull.
5. DRONE RULES 2021
News: The Civil Aviation Ministry has notified the Drone Rules, 2021, under which the weight of a fully loaded unmanned aircraft system has been increased from 300 kg to 500 kg to include heavy payload-carrying craft for use in the logistics and transportation sectors. The rules will also cover drone taxis.
The key features of these rules include the development of drone corridors for cargo deliveries. An unmanned aircraft systems promotion council will be set up to facilitate a business-friendly regulatory regime.
The new Drone Rules will tremendously help start-ups and our youth working in this sector. It will open up new possibilities for innovation & business. It will help leverage India’s strengths in innovation, technology & engineering to make India a drone hub.
The rules were aimed at simplifying the procedures and reducing compliance burden for drone operation.
It would enable start-ups and small and medium enterprises to create innovative-use cases and applications in various sectors such as e-commerce, agriculture, mining, healthcare, emergency response and logistics.
Under the new rules, no security clearance will be required before any registration or licence issuance for drones. The number of forms or permissions has been reduced from 25 to just five. No pilot licence will be required for operating nano drones and micro drones for non-commercial use.
The Director General or an entity authorised by it, on the recommendation of the Quality Council of India or an authorised testing entity, will issue a type certificate for drones. No type certificate, unique identification number, prior permission and remote pilot licence will be needed for research and development entities.
The import of drones will be regulated by the Directorate General of Foreign Trade. There will be no restriction on foreign ownership in Indian drone companies.
Importing and manufacturing drones purely for exports are now exempt from type certification and unique identification number. Manufacturers and importers will be able to generate their drones’ unique identification number on the Digital Sky Platform through the self-certification route.
The online registration of all drones will happen through the Digital Sky Platform.
An interactive airspace map with green, yellow, and red zones will be displayed on the Digital Sky Platform. The yellow zone has been reduced from 45 km to 12 km from the airport perimeter. No permission will be required for operating a drone in the green zones and up to 200 feet in the area between eight and 12 km from the airport perimeter.
Safety features like ‘no permission-no take-off’, real-time tracking beacon, geo-fencing, etc., will have to be notified soon. A minimum six-month lead time will be given for compliance.
A remote pilot licence holder enlisted on the Digital Sky Platform will only be allowed to operate a drone covered under the Rules. The training and examination will be conducted by an authorised drone school. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation will prescribe the training requirements, oversee the schools and provide pilot licences online.
Carriage of arms, ammunition, explosives and military stores and so on on drones has been prohibited.
No person shall carry dangerous goods on unmanned aircraft unless such operation is in compliance with the Aircraft (Carriage of Dangerous Goods) Rules, 2003.
Any accident involving drones should be reported within 48 hours. The maximum penalty for violations had been reduced to ₹1 lakh.