Today’s News Updates – 20 January 2018

Accessible India Campaign

In a path breaking initiative to empower Persons with Disabilities, 100 Accessible websites of various State Governments/UTs under Accessible India Campaign have been launched.

What are accessible websites?

Accessible Websites are those websites into which Persons with Disabilities can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the Web, and that they can contribute to the Web.


The Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan) initiated a “Website Accessibility Project” for State Government/Union Territories under Accessible India Campaign through ERNET India, an autonomous scientific society under the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeitY), to make total 917 websites accessible and providing funds for the same. Now 100 accessible websites are made accessible under the project.

About Accessible India Campaign:

What is it? Accessible India Campaign (AIC) is the nationwide flagship campaign of the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD), Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.

Aim: The aim of the Campaign is to make a barrier free and conducive environment for Divyangjans all over the country. The campaign has the vision to build an inclusive society in which equal opportunities are provided for the growth and development of Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) so that they can lead productive, safe and dignified lives.

Implementation: For creating universal accessibility for Persons with Disabilities, the campaign has been divided into three verticals: Built Environment; Transport and Information & Communication Technology (ICT) ecosystem.

The Built Environment Accessibility component of Accessible India Campaign entails following targets:

Completing accessibility audit of at least 25-50 most important government buildings in 50 cities and making them fully accessible by the end of this year.
Making 50% of all the government buildings of NCT and all the State capitals fully accessible by December 2018.
Completing accessibility audit of 50% of government buildings and making them fully accessible in 10 most important cities/towns of States not covered in targets (i) and (ii) by December 2019.

Facts for Prelims:

Accessible India Campaign is in line with the Article 9 of UNCRPD(UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities) to which India is a signatory since 2007.

Australia Group

India was recently admitted as the 43rd member of the Australia Group, an informal bloc of countries that keeps a tight control over exports of substances used in the making of chemical weapons.

Significance of this development:

With its admission into the Australia Group, India is now part of three of the four key export control groups in the world. This includes the Missile Technology Control Regime—an informal and voluntary partnership among 35 countries that regulates trade in sensitive equipment and technologies to ensure there is no proliferation of missile and unmanned aerial vehicle technology capable of carrying payloads above 500kg for more than 300km. Last month, India joined the Wassenaar Arrangement, which is also an informal grouping of 42 countries, exercising control over the export of dual-use goods and technologies.

The only export control group that India is not a part of is the elite Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), which controls the export of sensitive nuclear technologies and equipment, with the aim of preventing nuclear weapons’ proliferation.

The Australia Group:

The Australia Group works to counter the spread of materials, equipment and technologies that could contribute to the development or acquisition of chemical and biological weapons (CBW) by states or terrorist groups. It was established in 1985.

Financial Sector Assessment Program

The two main Reports of the 2017 India Financial Sector Assessment Programme (FSAP) – the Financial System Stability Assessment (FSSA) and Financial Sector Assessment (FSA), were recently released by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. Last FSAP for India was conducted in 2011-12.

The Report providing ‘Detailed Assessment of Observance—Basel Core Principles for Effective Banking Supervision’ has been released by the IMF and the World Bank and the Report providing ‘Detailed Assessment of Observance of Clearing Corporation of India Limited (CCIL) Central Counter Party (CCP) and Trade Repository (TR)’, was released by the World Bank.

Highlights of the report:

The FSAP report acknowledges many efforts by Indian authorities like tackling Non-Performing Assets (NPAs), recent recapitalization measures for banks and introduction of special resolution regime, formalization of National Pension System (NPS) and making the pension sector regulator statutory, passing of Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code and setting up of Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI), to name a few.

It appreciates initiatives such as ‘no frills’ account (under Jan Dhan Yojana), promoting digitization, introduction of unique biometric identification number (AADHAR), currency exchange initiative etc. It also recognizes the improved inter-agency co-operation since the establishment of Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC), supported by its Sub-Committee and four technical groups and progress in setting up of Financial Data Management Centre (FDMC).

About Financial Sector Assessment Program (FSAP):

The Financial Sector Assessment Program (FSAP), established in 1999, is a comprehensive and in-depth assessment of a country’s financial sector. It is a joint program of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

FSAPs analyze the resilience of the financial sector, the quality of the regulatory and supervisory framework, and the capacity to manage and resolve financial crises. Based on its findings, FSAPs produce recommendations of a micro- and macro-prudential nature, tailored to country-specific circumstances.

The FSAP follows a three-pronged approach when looking at the country’s financial sector:

The soundness of a financial system versus its vulnerabilities and risks that increase the likelihood or potential severity of financial sector crises.
A country’s developmental needs in terms of infrastructure, institutions and markets.
A country’s compliance with the observance of selected financial sector standards and codes.


NASA has announced new tests are underway for the Kilopower project, a program designed to create small nuclear power sources to fuel further space exploration. A prototype, which was created by NASA and the Department of Energy, has completed non-nuclear tests and is now running with a real reactor core at a facility in Nevada.

About Kilopower:

What is it? The Kilopower project is a near-term technology effort to develop preliminary concepts and technologies that could be used for an affordable fission nuclear power system to enable long-duration stays on planetary surfaces.

Goal: The principal goal of the project is to sufficiently develop and test nuclear power system technologies by 2018 so fission power can be a viable option for NASA decision makers to consider when making their informed selection of exploration surface systems.

Significance: Kilopower tackles a few different problems in spacecraft design: existing nuclear power systems rely on a fuel we’ve essentially run out of, solar power becomes increasingly feeble the further from the sun the spacecraft goes, and more complicated space activities—like those involving humans—would require significantly stronger power supplies than current projects.

Benefits: The technology could power habitats and life-support systems, enable astronauts to mine resources, recharge rovers and run processing equipment to transform resources such as ice on the planet into oxygen, water and fuel. It could also potentially augment electrically powered spacecraft propulsion systems on missions to the outer planets.

National Disaster Response Force (NDRF)

The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) celebrated its 13th Raising Day on January 19th, 2018.

An MoU was also signed in between NDRF and NSDC. Besides, a co-operation with Facebook took place during the programme. The highlights of the cooprtaion with facebook includes targeted geographical messaging, disaster information volunteers and community capacity building.

About NDRF:

The Disaster Management Act has made the statutory provisions for constitution of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) for the purpose of specialized response to natural and man-made disasters.


Two national calamities in quick succession in the form of Orissa Super Cyclone (1999) and Gujarat Earthquake (2001) brought about the realization of the need of having a specialist response mechanism at National Level to effectively respond to disasters. This realization led to the enactment of the DM Act on 26 Dec 2005.


Specialized response during disasters.
Proactive deployment during impending disaster situations.
Acquire and continually upgrade its own training and skills.
Liaison, Reconnaissance, Rehearsals and Mock Drills.
Impart basic and operational level training to State Response Forces (Police, Civil Defence and Home Guards).
Community Capacity Building Programme.
Organize Public Awareness Campaigns.

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