Insights Daily Current Affairs, 28 February 2017

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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 28 February 2017


 

Paper 2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

 

Ministry of UD wants States and Cities to go beyond taking small steps for rapid urban transformation

 

Ministry of Urban Development has evolved a new reform matrix to enable State and City Governments go beyond the present incrementalism of taking small steps towards implementing transformational reforms over the next three years, for a turn around in urban governance, planning and finance. These include five major transformational reforms to be implemented  based on report of Group of Secretaries.

 

Background:

The concerned Group of Secretaries in their report on urban sector have recommended that “After a review of the schemes over the years, the Group felt that instead of an incremental approach, the time has come for ushering in transformational reforms in Governance, Planning and Finance”.

 

Major reforms recommended by the Group of Secretaries are:

Moving to a Trust and Verify Approach: Instead of the present practice of verifying first and approving later, it has been recommended that trust needs to be reposed in the citizens and approvals may be accorded first and to be verified later, inverting the model of verifying first and approving later which is resulting in huge delays. This ‘Trust and Verify’ approach has been recommended in respect of Permissions for building construction, change of title in municipal records (mutation) and Birth and Death registration, involving the largest number of physical interactions between city governments and citizens.

Formulating Land Titling Laws: The Group quoting a study by McKinsey noted that over 90% of the land records in the country are unclear and land market distortions and unclear land titles are costing the country 1.30% of GDP per year and accordingly recommended enactment of Land Titling Laws and their implementation in a specific time frame.

Credit Rating of Urban Local Bodies.

Value Capture Financing: Noting that the total revenues of the municipal sector accounts for only 0.75% of the country’s GDP as against 6% for South Africa, 5% for Brazil and 4.50% for Poland, the Group recommended Municipal Bonds further to Credit Rating of ULBs and Value Capture Finance tools for meeting the capital expenditure needs of cities.

Improving Professionalism of ULBs: Quoting investment bank Goldman Sachs report, the Group of Secretaries noted that a bureaucracy that is based on merit rather than seniority could add nearly a percentage point annually to the country’s per capita GDP growth. It also expressed concern over shortage of qualified technical staff and managerial supervisors in ULBs preventing innovation, the Group recommended induction of professionals in city governments by encouraging lateral induction and filling top positions in cities (Commissioners and Heads of Finance and Revenue) through open competition.

 

Way ahead:

To incentivize, implementation of these five transformational reforms, the Ministry of Urban Development has proposed to increase Reform Incentive Fund from Rs.500 cr during 2017-18 to over Rs.3,000 cr per year over the next three years of implementation period. Cities will be ranked based on performance under each reform category for providing reform incentive. Rs.400 cr was distributed during 2016-17 for those who pursued reforms indicated in AMRUT Guidelines.

Ministry will also discuss with States and UTs new initiatives viz., Transit Oriented Development Policy, Metro Policy, Green Urban Mobility Scheme, Livability Index for Cities, Value Capture Policy and Fecal Sludge Management Policy.

Sources: pib.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.

 

75th meeting of Central Wakf Council

 

75th meeting of Central Wakf Council was recently held in New Delhi. The meeting was chaired by the Union Minister of State for Minority Affairs (Independent Charge) & Parliamentary Affairs Shri Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.

  • Various obstacles in development of wakf properties and utilisation of these properties for welfare of the society were discussed during the meeting.
  • Efforts of the central government to ensure that all the wakf boards and their records across the country are made digital were also highlighted during the meeting.

 

About Central Wakf Council:

Central Wakf Council, India is an Indian statutory body established in 1964 by the Government of India under Wakf Act, 1954 for the purpose of advising it on matters pertaining to working of the State Wakf Boards and proper administration of the Wakfs in the country.

  • The Council is headed by a Chairperson, who is the Union Minister in charge of Wakfs and there are maximum 20 other members, appointed by Government of India as stipulated in the Wakf Act.

 

What is Wakf?

Wakf is a permanent dedication of movable or immovable properties for religious, pious or charitable purposes as recognized by Muslim Law, given by philanthropists. The grant is known as mushrut-ul-khidmat, while a person making such dedication is known as Wakf.

Sources: pib.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

 

CLMV conclave

 

4th India – CLMV (Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam) Business Conclave was recently held in Jaipur. India’s trade with the CLMV countries has grown from USD 1.5 bn to more than USD 10 bn in the last 10 years.

  • During the conference, government and business community of CLMV countries were invited to actively partner in India’s initiative to strengthen manufacturing capacities.

 

About CLMV:

Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam collectively, is the third largest economy in ASEAN, followed by Indonesia and Thailand.  Due to close proximity, India is looking to boost trade and investment with the CLMV region as part of the ‘Act East’ policy announced by the Prime Minister during the 12th India – ASEAN Summit in 2013.

 

CLMV conclave:

The CLMV conclave is an annual feature which provides an opportunity for Indian business leaders to interact with government and business stakeholders representing the four countries. The conclave facilitates to create and provide a platform for the decision makers from CLMV countries to interact with a range of Indian business companies involved in trading, manufacturing, processing, engineering, consultancy, construction etc.

 

clmv countries

Sources: pib.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

 

Ministry of UD to push dense urban growth along mass transit corridors for better living experience

 

To effectively address the emerging urbanization challenges, the Ministry of Urban Development has come out with a multi-pronged policy framework to promote living close to mass urban transit corridors.

  • The Ministry has formulated a ‘National Transit Oriented Development Policy’ which will be discussed with the States and Union Territories.

 

Key facts:

This new initiative seeks to promote ‘Transit Oriented Development (TOD)’ which enables people to live within walking or cycling distance from transit corridors like the Metros, Monorail and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridors, currently being taken up on a large scale.  

  • This policy seeks to enhance the depth of understanding of States and UTs on TOD as a viable solution to many of the challenges like haphazard urban growth and sprawl, mobility, rapidly rising private vehicles on roads, pollution, housing choices etc.
  • This new urban design and planning in the form of TOD, is being incentivesed by the Ministry under two more initiatives viz., Metro Policy and Green Urban Mobility Scheme which also will be discussed with States and UTS for taking them on board.

 

About ToD:

TOD Policy also aims at inclusive development by ensuring mixed neighbourhood development in the form of a range of housing choices including affordable housing and ensuring spaces for street vendors.

  • States and UTs will be required to incorporate TOD in the Master Plans and Development Plans of cities besides identifying ‘Influence Zones’ from transit corridors for tapping revenue streams.
  • Under TOD, city densification will be promoted along mass transit corridors through vertical construction by substantially enhancing FARs (Floor Area Ratio) backed by  promotion of Non-motorised Transport Infrastructure for walking and cycling to transport stations, development of street networks in the influence zone of transit corridors, multi-modal integration, effective first and last mile connectivity through feeder services to enable people access public transit in 5 to 10 minutes  from home and work places.
  • Dense living along transit corridors besides resulting in enhanced living and travel experience, will also improve ridership of mass transit systems. If properly executed, TOD could emerge as a means of financing mass transit project, for which the demand is growing.
  • TOD promotes integration of land use planning with transportation and infrastructure development to avoid long distance travel in cities through compact development as against the present pattern of unplanned and haphazard urban growth.

Sources: pib.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.

 

SEBI to tighten algo trading rules

 

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) plans to further tighten the regulations for algorithmic trading to minimise instances of misuse of such systems that can be used to execute complex trading strategies at a very high speed.

 

What is algorithmic trading?

Algorithmic trading refers to the use of software programmes to execute trading strategies at a much faster pace. On the National Stock Exchange (NSE), algo trades accounted for close to 16% of all trades. On the BSE, it was 8.56% in January.

 

Need for strengthening of rules:

India was one of the few countries in the world to regulate algorithmic trading — popularly called algo trading. SEBI is looking to further strengthen the norms so that instances of flash crashes that have happened overseas, and also in India a few times, could be minimised.

 

Background:

While many countries and regulators, including the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO), have been debating on this issue for many years, only India had been able to come out with proper regulations. 

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 3 Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

 

Panel submits report on Tiruvannamalai project

 

A two-member expert committee which went into the Tiruvannamalai Girivalam Path Widening Project has submitted its report to the National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) Southern Bench.

 

Key facts:

  • In its report, the committee indicated that the flora and fauna in the area may not be affected much by the project. It further said that the Highways Department shall undertake maintenance of the odais/channels leading to the receiving water bodies lying within 20m on either side of the road as part of the project cost.
  • As for the feasibility of earmarking a portion of the existing road for movement of emergency vehicles, the report says 5m wide on the left side of the road on stretches 2, 3 and 4 could be dedicated exclusively for the two-way movement of emergency vehicles.
  • The committee has recommended that the Highways Department may be permitted to undertake its work with various conditions in all stretches of the project.

 

About the project:

The Girivalam is the path taken by devotees of the famed Arulmigu Arunachaleswarar Temple in Tiruvannamalai district in Tamil Nadu. Implemented at a cost of Rs.65 crore, the widening project is creating a lane of 7 to 10 m width for pedestrians/pilgrims who take up circumambulation of the holy hill by walk.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Facts for Prelims

 

Country’s first Antyodaya Express:

  • Minister of Railways recently flagged off Country’s first Antyodaya Express running between Ernakulam – Howrah.
  • Antyodaya Express: It is a long-distance, fully unreserved, super-fast train service for the common man. It will operate on dense routes.