Insights Daily Current Affairs, 07 March 2017

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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 07 March 2017


 

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

 

13th Executive Committee Meeting of the International Smart Grid Action Network (ISGAN) inaugurated

 

The Ministry of Power, Government of India is hosting the 13th Executive Committee (ExCo) Meeting of the International Smart Grid Action Network (ISGAN) at POWERGRID Corporate Center, Gurugram. This is the first ever Executive Committee Meeting of ISGAN being held in India.

  • Smart Grid implementation in India would get a boost from deliverables obtained through decisions and actions taken in 13th ISGAN ExCo Meeting as ISGAN aims to improve the understanding of smart grid technologies, practices and promote adoption of related enabling government policies.
  • The dynamic knowledge sharing, technical assistance and project coordination and periodic ISGAN reports on progress and projects being undertaken in the field of Smart Grids across the world would also be helpful in suitable deployment of Smart Grid technologies in India.
  • A total of 36 representatives from 18 countries namely Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, Norway, Russia, South Africa, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, US and UAE are participating in this event.

 

What is ISGAN?

ISGAN is an agreement under International Energy Agency (IEA) and consists of representatives from 25 countries across the globe.

  • India is one of the founding Member of ISGAN and Joint Secretary (Distribution), Ministry of Power, is the member representative of India.
  • ISGAN creates a mechanism for multilateral government-to-government collaboration to advance the development and deployment of smarter electric grid technologies, practices and systems.
  • ISGAN facilitates dynamic knowledge sharing, technical assistance, and project coordination, where appropriate. ISGAN participants report periodically on progress and projects to the Ministers of the Clean Energy Ministerial, in addition to satisfying all IEA Implementing Agreement reporting requirements.
  • Membership in ISGAN is voluntary, and currently includes Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, European Commission, Finland, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States.
  • Consistent with the IEA Framework for International Energy Technology Co-Operation, ISGAN is open to governments of IEA Member as well as non-Member countries, upon invitation of the ISGAN Executive Committee.
  • Though the primary focus is on government-to-government cooperation, ISGAN is also open to entities designated by participating governments, and select private sector and industry associations and international organizations.

 

Background:
ISGAN was launched as the International Smart Grid Action Network at the first Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM), a meeting of energy and environment ministers and stakeholders from 23 countries and the European Union held in Washington, D.C on July 19 and 20, 2010. The CEM focuses on high-level attention and commitment to concrete steps—both policies and programs—that accelerate the global transition to clean energy. The Ministerial was an outgrowth of the agreement at the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate (MEF) in L’Aquila, Italy in July 2009, where countries agreed to collaborate on advancing clean energy technologies.

 

Significance of smart grids:

ISGAN recognizes that robust, reliable, and smart electric grids play a key role in enabling greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions through the management of electricity demand, integration of growing supplies of both utility-scale and distributed, small-scale renewable energy systems, accommodation of an increasing number of electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, improvement of operational efficiency, and application of energy efficient technologies to their full potential.

Smart Grids also enable better utilization of existing electricity generation assets, thereby creating opportunities to forgo the addition of new long-lived, high emissions fossil fuel plants. In coordination with the International Energy Agency (IEA) and others, ISGAN seeks to improve understanding of the potential for Smart Grid technologies to enable reductions in GHG emissions and energy use at country, regional, and global levels. It focuses high-level government attention on the promise of Smart Grid to achieve such reductions as well as the challenges to accelerating their deployment.

Sources: pib.


 

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

 

Definitive Agreement on Oil Storage and Management between Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserve Ltd (ISPRL) and Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) of UAE

 

The Union Cabinet has given its ex-post facto approval for signing of the Definitive Agreement on Oil Storage and Management between Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserve Ltd (ISPRL) and Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) of UAE.

 

Key facts:

  • According to the Agreement, the ADNOC will fill up 0.81 MMT or 5,860,000 million barrels of crude oil at ISPRL storage facility at Mangalore, Karnataka.
  • Out of the crude stored, some part will be used for commercial purpose of ADNOC, while a major part will be purely for strategic purposes. The signing of the Agreement will augment India’s energy security.
  • India and UAE are strategic partners. The investment by ADNOC is a major investment from UAE under the High Level Task Force on Investment (HLTFI) and the first investment by UAE in India in the energy sector.

 

Background:

To ensure energy security, the Government of India had decided to set up 5 million metric tons (MMT) of strategic crude oil storages at three locations namely, Visakhapatnam, Mangalore and Padur (near Udupi). These strategic storages would be in addition to the existing storages of crude oil and petroleum products with the oil companies and would serve as a cushion during any external supply disruptions.

The construction of the Strategic Crude Oil Storage facilities is being managed by Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserves Limited (ISPRL), a Special Purpose Vehicle, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Oil Industry Development Board (OIDB) under the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas. Engineers India Limited (EIL) is taken as the Project Management Consultant for all three projects.

The crude oil storages are constructed in underground rock caverns and are located on the East and West coast of India. Crude oil from these caverns can be supplied to the Indian Refineries either through pipelines or through a combination of pipelines and ships. Underground rock caverns are considered the safest means of storing hydrocarbons.

Sources: pib.


 

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

 

Cabinet approves MoU between India and the United Nations Entity of Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women (UN-Women)

 

Union Cabinet has approved the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and the United Nations Entity of Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women).

 

Key facts:

  • The proposal seeks to provide technical support to the Ministry of Panchayati Raj in strengthening capacities of governance institutions including Panchayati Raj Institutions(PRIs) to better leverage opportunities created for gender equality through legislation, policies and programmes.
  • The parties agree that engendering the initiatives of MoPR, including capacity development efforts, will be of mutual benefit, and will further their shared mission of good governance, gender equality and women’s empowerment.
  • In the long run, it will enable an improvement in the status of rural women in India, as well as contribute to meeting India’s commitment to the Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the Beijing Platform for Action and the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • The proposed MoU will facilitate the achievement of time-bound results in the implementation of specific activities identified jointly by MoPR and UN Women within the broader framework for cooperation under the United Nations Development Assistance Framework ((UNDAF). This MoU would thus facilitate operationalizing this important partnership.
  • Activities under this MoU will be implemented at the district and sub-district level in six States i.e. Andhra Pradesh, Telengana, Odisha, Karnataka, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.

 

About UN Women: The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women:

UN Women is the UN entity dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. UN Women was established to accelerate progress on meeting their needs worldwide.

In July 2010, the United Nations General Assembly created UN Women, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. In doing so, UN Member States took an historic step in accelerating the Organization’s goals on gender equality and the empowerment of women. The creation of UN Women came about as part of the UN reform agenda, bringing together resources and mandates for greater impact.

 

It merges and builds on the important work of four previously distinct parts of the UN system, which focused exclusively on gender equality and women’s empowerment:

  • Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW).
  • International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW).
  • Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women (OSAGI).
  • United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM).

 

The main roles of UN Women are:

  • To support inter-governmental bodies, such as the Commission on the Status of Women, in their formulation of policies, global standards and norms.
  • To help Member States to implement these standards, standing ready to provide suitable technical and financial support to those countries that request it, and to forge effective partnerships with civil society.
  • To hold the UN system accountable for its own commitments on gender equality, including regular monitoring of system-wide progress.

Sources: pib.


 

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

 

Cabinet approves India’s accession to the Customs Convention on International Transport of Goods under cover of TIR Carnets (TIR Convention)

 

The Union Cabinet has given its approval for India’s accession to the Customs Convention on International Transport of Goods under cover of TIR Carnets (TIR Convention) and for completion of necessary procedures for ratification, for its entry into force.

 

How will this help India?

  • The Convention will help Indian traders to have access to fast, easy, reliable and hassle free international system for movement of goods by road or multi- modal means across the territories of other contracting parties.
  • By joining the convention, the need for inspection of goods at intermediate borders as well as physical escorts en route shall be obviated due to reciprocal recognition of Customs controls. Customs clearance can take place at internal Customs locations thereby avoiding clearances at Border Crossing Points and ports that may often be congested.
  • Movement under the TIR can be allowed by checking only the seals and the external conditions of the load compartment or the container thereby reducing border delays, transport and transaction costs thereby leading to increased competitiveness and growth for the trade and transport sectors.
  • Compliance with the Convention shall ensure enhanced security in the supply chain as only approved transporters and vehicles are allowed to operate in terms of the Convention. As the TIR Carnet represents a guarantee for Customs duties and taxes and traffic in transit, there is no need for payment of such taxes and duties en route.
  • The TIR carnet also serves as a Customs declaration, and hence it precludes the need to file multiple declarations satisfying national laws of the different transiting countries.
  • The TIR Convention can be an instrument for movement of goods along the International “North-South” Transport (INSTC) Corridor and would be helpful in boosting trade with the Central Asian Republics and other Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), particularly using ports in Iran like the Chabahar port.
  • The proposal does not result in any direct financial implication for the Government of India as it pertains to India’s accession to an international convention.

 

Background:

The Customs Convention on International Transport of Goods under cover of TIR Carnets, 1975 (TIR Convention), is an international transit system under the auspices of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) to facilitate the seamless movement of goods within and amongst the Parties to the Convention. At present there are 70 parties to the Convention, including the European Union.

  • The 1975 convention replaced the TIR Convention of 1959, which itself replaced the 1949 TIR Agreement between a number of European countries.
  • The TIR system not only covers customs transit by road but a combination is possible with other modes of transport (e.g., rail, inland waterway, and even maritime transport), as long as at least one part of the total transport is made by road.

Sources: pib.


 

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

 

Two insolvency professional entities gets IBBI recognition

 

The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) has given recognition to two insolvency professional entities- IRR Insolvency Professionals Pvt Ltd and AAA Insolvency Professionals LLP.

  • The Insolvency Professionals (IPs) are registered and regulated by the IBBI. They have a critical role in transactions under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (Code). The Code and regulations made there under provide for strengthening their capacity on a continuous basis.

 

Background:
A limited liability partnership, a registered partnership firm or a company may be recognised by the IBBI as an IPE if (a) a majority of the partners of the limited liability partnership or registered partnership firm are registered as insolvency professionals (IPs); or (b) a majority of the whole-time directors of the company are registered as insolvency professionals, as the case may be. An IPE is jointly and severally liable for all acts or omissions of its partners or directors as IPs committed during such partnership or directorship.

 

The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016:

It is considered as the biggest economic reform next only to GST. It offers a market determined, time bound mechanism for orderly resolution of insolvency, wherever possible, and orderly exit, wherever required. The Code envisages an ecosystem comprising National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT), National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), Debt Recovery Appellate Tribunal (DRAT), Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT), Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (Board), Information Utilities (IUs), Insolvency Professionals (IPs), Insolvency Professional Agencies (IPAs) and Insolvency Professional Entities (IPEs) for implementation of the Code.

The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India was established on October 1, 2016 in accordance with the provisions of The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016. It provides a market-determined and time bound mechanism for orderly resolution of insolvency, wherever possible, and orderly exit, wherever required.

Sources: pib.


 

Paper 3 Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights. 

 

Trade Mark Rules 2017

 

The Trade Mark Rules, 2017 have been notified by the government. These Rules, which replace the erstwhile Trade Mark Rules 2002, will streamline and simplify the processing of Trade Mark applications.

 

Some salient features of the revamped Rules are as follows:

  • Number of Trade Mark (TM) Forms have been reduced from 74 to 8.
  • To promote e-filing of TM applications, the fee for online filing has been kept at 10% lower than that for physical filing.
  • Based on stakeholders feedback, the fees for Individuals, Start-ups and Small Enterprises have been reduced from that proposed in the draft Rules – i.e. only Rs 4,500 as against Rs 8,000 for e-filing of TM applications proposed at the draft stage.
  • Modalities for determination of well-known trademarks have been laid out for the first time.
  • The provisions relating to expedited processing of an application for registration of a trade mark have been extended right upto registration stage (hitherto, it was only upto examination stage).
  • Over all fees have been rationalized by reducing the number of entries in Schedule I from 88 to just 23.
  • Modalities for service of documents from applicants to the Registry and vice-versa through electronic means have been introduced to expedite the process; e-mail has been made an essential part of address for service to be provided by the applicant or any party to the proceedings so that the office communication may be sent through email.
  • Hearing through video conferencing has been introduced.
  • Number of adjournments in opposition proceedings has been restricted to a maximum of two by each party, which will help dispose off matters in time.
  • Procedures relating to registration as Registered User of trademarks have also been simplified.

 

Administration of trade marks in India:

The Trade Marks Registry was established in India in 1940 and presently it administers the Trade Marks Act, 1999 and the rules made thereunder. It acts as a resource and information Centre and is a facilitator in matters relating to trademarks in the country.

  • The objective of the Trade Marks Act, 1999 is to register trademarks applied for in the country and to provide for better protection of trademark for goods and services and also to prevent fraudulent use of the mark.
  • The main function of the Registry is to register trademarks which qualify for registration as per provisions of the Trade Marks Act and Rules, and to maintain the Register of trademarks.
  • After accession to the Madrid Protocol, a treaty under the Madrid System for international registration of trademarks, the Trade Marks Registry also functions as an office of origin in respect of applications made by Indian entrepreneurs for international registration of their trademarks and as an office of the designated Contracting party in respect of international registrations in which India has been designated for protection of the relevant trademarks.
  • Apart from the above, the Registry has to discharge various other functions like offering preliminary advice as to registrability; causing a search to be made for issue a certificate under Section 45(1) of the Copyright Act, 1957 to the effect that no trademark identical with or deceptively similar to such artist work as sought to be registered as a copyright has been registered as a trademark; providing public information and guidance to the public on the subject; providing information to various government agencies including Police, Central Excise personnel, Public Grievance Redressal, maintenance of top class IP library, the production of annual statistical report, production of official Trade Marks Journal in electronic form and submit an Annual Report to Parliament.
  • The Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks heads the TRADE MARKS Registry offices and functions as the Registrar of TRADE MARKS. He, from time to time, assigns functions of the Registrar to other officers appointed by the Central Government and such officers also function as Registrar in respect of matters assigned to them.

 

What is a trademark?

Trade mark means a mark capable of being represented graphically and which is capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one person from those of others and may include shape of goods, their packaging and combination of colours.

Sources: pib.


 

Paper 3 Topic: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

 

Cabinet approves Revised Cost Estimate-I of Koteshwar Hydro Electric Project in Uttarakhand

 

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved the Revised Cost Estimate-I of 400 MW Koteshwar Hydro Electric Project (HEP) in Uttarakhand at an estimated completion cost of Rs.2,717.35 crore.

  • The project is being implemented by Tehri Hydro Development Corporation (THDC) India Limited.
  • In addition to additional generating capacity of 400 MW of peaking power it will regulate releases from Tehri Reservoir for irrigation and drinking water supply.

 

Background:

The Project has already been commissioned fully in March, 2012. Only balance works are to be done which are not linked with operation of the Plant but essential for safety and completion of the project.

 

About the project:

Koteshwar Hydro-Electric Project (400 MW), located 22 km downstream of Tehri, is an integral part of Tehri Power Complex comprising of Tehri Dam & HPP (1000 MW), Tehri PSP (1000MW) and Koteshwar HEP (400MW) to develop Hydro-electric potential of river Bhagirathi. It will facilitate the functioning of Tehri Power Complex as a major peaking station in Northern grid as reservoir created by Koteshwar Dam having a live storage capacity of 35.0 MCM will function as lower (balancing) reservoir for Tehri PSP. This project is also regulating water releases from Tehri reservoir for irrigation purpose.

Sources: pib.


 

Paper 3 Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

 

NIIF in talks with two sovereign funds

 

The National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) has begun talks with two sovereign wealth funds to become the first investors to come on board, following the recent signing of a government commitment to infuse ₹20,000 crore into the fund.

  • The NIIF plans to leverage the Centre’s financing – equivalent to $3 billion – to invest a far higher amount in infrastructure firms and projects, in partnership with global, long-term investors eyeing infrastructure assets, and fund managers that could create dedicated infra sector funds.

 

About NIIF:

The National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) was proposed in Union Budget 2015. In the last week of December, the government has set up this Rs. 40000 crore fund to provide long term capital for infrastructure projects.

  • The objective of NIIF is to maximise economic impact through infrastructure development in viable projects both greenfield and brownfield, including stalled projects, mainly in the core infra sector.
  • NIIF has been structured as a fund of funds and set up as Category II Alternate Investment Fund (AIF) under the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) Regulations.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora. 

 

Donald Trump signs ‘Muslim Ban 2.0’ order

 

The Donald Trump administration has issued a new executive order, temporarily banning travel from six Muslim-majority countries to the U.S., after an earlier order ran foul of the country’s judiciary.

 

Key facts:

  • The new executive order bans travel from six countries — Sudan, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen, leaving out Iraq that was also in the list of barred countries in the January order.
  • In an attempt to pass the next round of inevitable judicial scrutiny, current visa and green card holders from these countries will not be affected by this order.
  • The new order will not come into effect until March 16, in contrast with the earlier order that was effective immediately, leading to confusion at airports and leaving many people in transit stranded.
  • The order notes there will be a 90-day ban on the issuance of new visas for citizens of these six countries, and nation’s refugee program will be suspended for 120 days. While the temporary ban is in place for 90 days, the U.S. administration will review the security measures in place to prevent potential threats from gaining a U.S. visa.
  • The order said each of the six countries was a “state sponsor of terrorism, has been significantly compromised by terrorist organisations or contains active conflict zones.” The order gives country-wise details justifying the inclusion of each and also explains the exclusion of Iraq. Iraq presents a special case. Portions of Iraq remain combat zones, but the country’s commitment to combat ISIS justify different treatment for Iraq.
  • In justification of the order, the administration said people who entered the U.S on visas or as refugees from these countries have “proved to be threats to national security.” The Attorney-General has reported to me that more than 300 persons who entered the U.S. as refugees are currently subjects of counter-terrorism investigations by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI).

Sources: the hindu.


 

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

 

Centre launches survey on Gangetic dolphins

 

The Centre has launched the first ever across-the-river survey in the Ganga to determine the population of aquatic life, including that of the endangered Gangetic dolphin.

 

Key facts:

  • The survey will create a baseline scientific data for the government to take suitable measures to improve quality of the river water.
  • The first leg of the census was launched on March 1 from Narora in Uttar Pradesh to Bijnor (covering distance of nearly 165 km) to establish the number of the national aquatic animal.
  • A study to figure out fish species composition in the 2525 km-long river has been also been kick started from Harshil in Uttarakhand.
  • The survey is being conducted through Wildlife Institute of India (WII), an autonomous institution of Environment and Forest Ministry, under Namami Gange programme.
  • The study will find out stretches where dolphin is habitating, what are the conditions there and the level of threat the long-snouted species is facing in a particular belt.
  • Apart from number of dolphins, number of ghariyals and turtles in the river will also be ascertained.
  • Besides populace count, the study will help know distribution pattern of aquatic life in the river, extent of threat level they are facing and their habitat conditions.

 

About Gangetic Dolphins:

The Ganges River dolphin, or susu, inhabits the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna and Karnaphuli-Sangu river systems of Nepal, India, and Bangladesh. This vast area has been altered by the construction of more than 50 dams and other irrigation-related projects, with dire consequences for the river dolphins. It is classified as endangered by the IUCN.

  • This dolphin is among the four “obligate” freshwater dolphins – the other three are the baiji now likely extinct from the Yangtze river in China, the bhulan of the Indus in Pakistan and the boto of the Amazon River in Latin America. Although there are several species of marine dolphins whose ranges include some freshwater habitats, these four species live only in rivers and lakes.
  • Being a mammal, the Ganges River dolphin cannot breathe in the water and must surface every 30-120 seconds. Because of the sound it produces when breathing, the animal is popularly referred to as the ‘Susu’.

Sources: the hindu.