Insights Daily Current Affairs, 08 March 2017

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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 08 March 2017


 

Paper 1 Topic: Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.

 

Nari Shakti Puraskars

 

Nari Shakti Puraskars 2016 will be presented by the President on the eve of International Women’s Day.

 

About Nari Shakti Puraskars:

To acknowledge Women’s achievements, the Government of India confers Nari Shakti Puraskars on eminent women and institutions in recognition of their service towards the cause of women empowerment. The Nari Shakti Awards were initiated in the year 1999.

  • The awards recognize the efforts made by women & institutions in rendering distinguished services for the cause of women, especially vulnerable and marginalized women.
  • The Ministry of Women and Child Development announces these national level awards for eminent women, organisations and institutions.
  • The Nari Shakti Puraskar carries a cash award of Rs.1 Lakh and a certificate for individuals and institutions.

 

Eligibility:

The Puraskars are open to all Indian Institutions, organisations and individuals. The WCD Ministry invites nominations from the State Governments, Union Territory Administrations, concerned Central Ministries/Departments, Non-Governmental Organisations, Universities/ Institutions, private and public sector undertakings (PSUs) working for empowerment of women. However, in exceptional cases, the Selection Committee may also, suo moto, recommend a person or institution for the award, with justification.

 

Selection process:

A Screening Committee to scrutinize and short list the nominations received for the Awards and a Selection Committee constituted for the purpose considers the achievements of organizations and individuals nominated or recommended for the Puraskars by the prescribed authority. The outstanding contributions in the field are of primary consideration in identifying the recipients of Puraskars.

The final selections of the Awardees are made by the National Selection Committee which takes into account the recommendations of the Screening Committee. The National Selection Committee may at its discretion also consider individuals other than those recommended by the State Governments/Central Ministries.

Sources: pib.


 

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

 

Workshop on Arsenic problem in ground water and its remediation in Ganga Basin held 

 

Workshop on Arsenic problem in ground water and its remediation in Ganga Basin was recently held. It was chaired by Union Minister of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Shri Uma Bharti. It was organized by Central Ground Water Board (CGWB).

  • There is an urgent need to start a nationwide movement to make people aware about the arsenic problem. The government has underlined the need to make people aware about the negative impact of Arsenic in Ganga basin area. It has also proposed to prepare an exhaustive work plan to meet the challenges posed by presence of arsenic in ground water on the basis of the outcome of this workshop.

 

Arsenic in groundwater:

Arsenic in ground water is a geogenic contaminant i.e. caused by natural geologic processes. Arsenic-containing groundwater in Ganga River basin is hosted by the sediments deposited by the rivers during the late Quaternary or Holocene age (<12 thousand years). Incidence of high arsenic in groundwater reported from various parts of the country, particularly in the Ganga- plains is a serious threat to the health of human being.

  • Over the last three decades numerous measures have been initiated which includes alternate arrangement for supply of arsenic free water to the affected populace and providing arsenic removal plants. Arsenic occurrences in ground water in these areas is highly sporadic in nature and all the sources in these areas are not necessarily contaminated.
  • Technological options to combat arsenic menace, in groundwater, to ensure supply of arsenic free water, in the affected areas can be in-situ remediation of arsenic from aquifer system, ex-situ remediation of arsenic from tapped groundwater by arsenic removal technologies, use of surface water source as an alternative to the contaminated groundwater source, tapping alternate safe aquifers for supply of arsenic free groundwater or combination of above techniques.

 

What has the government done in this regard?

The government is tapping alternate safe aquifers, for supply of arsenic free groundwater in many areas on a local scale; however, this approach would require extensive studies and analysis for mapping of groundwater availability, freshwater reserves and to examine mobilization of arsenic in the aquifer, both on spatial and temporal scale, due to forcing perturbation.

  • Under the National Aquifer mapping programme (NAQUIM) of CGWB special attention has been given to this aspect and water wells have been constructed tapping arsenic free aquifers using state of the art technology in parts of Ballia and Ghazipur districts of Uttar Pradesh”.
  • However, the growing arsenic occurrences demands a systematic translation of success stories of one place/region to another and formulating a comprehensive plan to mitigate the arsenic problem through a wider consultation process.

Sources: pib.


 

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

 

Jal Kranti Abhiyan

 

National conference on Jal Kranti Abhiyan was recently held in Delhi. Participating in the conference representatives from water user associations, NGOs and other agencies gave useful suggestions to make Jal Kranti Abhiyan a success.

  • The daylong conference was organized by Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation as part of Jal Kranti Abhiyan. About 700 participants representing various stakeholder groups such as farmers, Panchayat members, officials, NGOs and students attended the conference.

 

About Jal Kranti Abhiyan:

Jal Kranti Abhiyan was launched on June 05, 2015 to consolidate water conservation and management in the country through a holistic and integrated approach involving all stakeholders making it a mass movement.

  • One of the main objectives of the Jal Kranti Abhiyan is “strengthening grass root involvement of all stakeholders including Panchayati Raj institutions and local bodies for Participatory Irrigation Management.”
  • There are four important components of Jal Kranti Abhiyan viz. Jal Gram Yojana, Development of Model Command Area, Pollution Abatement and Mass Awareness Programme.
  • Under Jal Gram Yojana two water stressed villages in each district of the country are to be selected and a comprehensive water security plan is formulated to achieve water security for these villages. So far 726 such villages have been identified against the total target of 828. Integrated Water Security Plan for 180 Villages have been prepared and 61 of them have been approved.

Sources: pib.


 

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

 

Bridge across River Narmada at Bharuch inaugurated

 

In a major relief for people travelling on the Vadodara- Surat section of NH-8 (New NH-48), a new four lane, Extradosed Bridge across river Narmada at Bharuch was recently dedicated to the nation.

Bharuch

Key facts:

  • The 1.4 km ‘Extradose’ cable stayed bridge is the longest in India and the second such bridge in the country after Nivedita Setu over Hooghly.
  • The bridge is 20.8 metres wide, with 14.5 metre carriageway and 3 metre footpath. It is supported on 9 Pylons of 36 meter height on pile foundation of 1.5 metre diameter. The bridge will be lit by more than 400 LED lights.
  • The bridge is part of National Highways Authority of India’s project for six laning of Ahmedabad-Mumbai section of NH-8 (Total length of 6.745 Km between km.192.00 to km.198.745.) in Baruch district of the state of Gujarat.
  • This section of NH 8 will have State of the Art Highway Traffic Management System (HTMS), Variable Message Sign Boards, Median Plantation, Traffic Aid Post, Medical Aid Post, RFID and Smart Card Swapping enabled infrastructure at the Toll Plaza and Theme Lighting on the main bridge.

Sources: pib.


 

Paper 3 Topic: Government Budgeting.

 

FM releases the Revised General Financial Rules (GFR) 2017

 

The Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley recently released the Revised General Financial Rules (GFRs) – 2017.

  • The Revised GFR -2017 aims to provide a framework within which an organization manages its business in a financially prudent manner without compromising its flexibility to deal with varied situations.
  • The new GFRs 2017 will enable an improved, efficient and effective framework of fiscal management while providing the necessary flexibility to facilitate timely delivery of services.

 

What are GFRs?

The GFRs are rules and orders dealing with matters involving public finances. General Financial Rules were issued for the first time in 1947 bringing together in one place all existing orders and instructions pertaining to financial matters. These have subsequently been modified and issued as GFRs 1963 and GFRs 2005.

Sources: pib.


 

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

 

High level delegation to USA to promote India’s new Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP) at CERA Week 2017

 

A high level delegation led by Minister of State (I/C) for Petroleum and Natural Gas, Shri Dharmendra Pradhan had organized a promotion event for India’s new Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP) at CERA Week 2017 in Houston, World’s energy capital on 6thMarch 2017.

  • The aim was to encourage active global participation in upcoming investment opportunities in India which has one of the world’s fast growing oil and gas industry.
  • The promotion event was participated by global energy leaders, government dignitaries, policy makers, innovators and industry professionals.

 

About HELP:

The Hydrocarbon Exploration & Licensing Policy (HELP) opens up India’ entire sedimentary basin for investment from domestic and foreign players under a simplified, transparent and investor -friendly fiscal and administrative regime.

  • The new policy aims to provide Investors a ready access to huge amount of seismic data available in National Data Repository (NDR), flexibility to carve out exploration acreages through an open acreage licensing process and increased operational autonomy through a new revenue sharing model.
  • The National Data Repository (NDR) manifested through an open acreage licensing (OAL) process will be a key facilitator by providing seamless access to India’s entire E&P data process through a digital medium to all investors with the objective of harnessing the potential of India’s large basinal area.

 

The key features of HELP are:

  • Single, uniform license for extraction and exploration for all types of hydrocarbon prospects.
  • Open acreage licensing (OAL) which will permit investors to carve out interested blocks and submit Expression of Interest (EoI), which will be subsequently given through bi-annual bid rounds.
  • Simple and easy to administer Revenue Sharing Model.
  • Full marketing freedom and free pricing for crude oil and natural gas.
  • Exploration allowed during entire contract period.
  • Zero royalty rates for deep water & ultra-deep water blocks for first 7 years.
  • Equal weightage to work program and fiscal share.
  • No oil cess.
  • Custom duty exemption.

 

Background:

Markit is a week of panel discussions and presentations in the world’s energy capital, Houston, among top executives and policymakers from around the globe. The theme at CERAWeek, which runs from March 6-10, focuses on the changing market at a time of turbulence and uncertainty as higher prices start a tentative financial recovery after a hugely difficult 2016 for energy businesses.

  • The program provides comprehensive insight into the global and regional energy future by addressing key issues—from markets and geopolitics to technology, project costs, energy and the environment, finance, operational excellence and cyber risks.
  • 2017 marks the 36th anniversary of this influential event, ranked among the top five “corporate leader” conferences in the world.

Sources: pib.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies. 

 

CAG to undertake audit of demonetisation fallout

 

The Comptroller and Auditor General of India will soon begin an audit of various aspects of demonetisation announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 8 last year.

  • By this measure, the Centre had withdrawn ₹1,000 and ₹500 notes from circulation.

 

Demonetisation per se is a banking and money supply issue and as such, outside the CAG’s audit jurisdiction. How will CAG proceed ahead?

Though demonetisation is outside CAG’s jurisdiction, the CAG is well within its rights to seek audit of fiscal impact of demonetisation, largely its impact on tax revenues. That way the issue gets linked with the public exchequer.

  • There are other linkages of demonetisation with the public exchequer that will also be covered by the audit. This would be “expenditure on printing of notes, RBI dividend to the Consolidated Fund, etc.”
  • The huge amount of data generated by banks and the Income-Tax Department in the wake of demonetisation would also be covered.
  • This banking transaction data and the follow-up by the Revenue Department can also be subjected to CAG audit. Audit can look into various risks, such as errors and omissions in identifying the potential tax evaders, failures to pursue the identified suspects, selective and arbitrary pursuance of leads and consequences thereof.

CAG:

  • The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India is an authority, established by the Constitution of India under article 148.
  • CAG audits all receipts and expenditure of the Government of India and the state governments, including those of bodies and authorities substantially financed by the government.
  • The CAG is also the external auditor of Government-owned corporations and conducts supplementary audit of government companies, i.e., any non-banking/ non-insurance company in which the state and Union governments have an equity share of at least 51% or subsidiary companies of existing government companies.
  • The reports of the CAG are taken into consideration by the Public Accounts Committees (PACs) and Committees on Public Undertakings (COPUs), which are special committees in the Parliament of India and the state legislatures.
  • The CAG enjoys the same status as a judge of Supreme Court of India in Indian order of precedence.
  • Appointment: CAG is appointed by the President of India following a recommendation by the Prime Minister. On appointment, he/she has to make an oath or affirmation before the President of India.
  • Removal: The CAG can be removed only on an address from both house of parliament on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity. The CAG vacates the office on attaining the age of 65 years age even without completing the 6 years term.

Sources: the hindu.


 

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

 

Commonwealth card mooted

 

Commonwealth nations could consider a scheme similar to the Business Travel Card scheme, used across the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, as a means of promoting intra-Commonwealth trade and investment.

  • This was proposed by the chairman of the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council, ahead of the inaugural Meeting of Commonwealth Trade Ministers in London on March 9-10, convened by the CWEIC, and the Commonwealth Secretariat.

 

Background:

Under the APEC scheme, which includes 19 fully participating countries, including Australia, Hong Kong, Russia and Singapore, business travellers are able to apply for five-year-long, short-term, multiple-entry permits to other member states, freeing them from the need to apply for visas every time they travel.

 

About CWEIC:

CWEIC is a membership organisation with a small secretariat supported by an Advisory Board comprising Government and business leaders from across the Commonwealth.

  • The purpose of the Council is to promote trade and investment by facilitating engagement between Government and the private sector throughout the Commonwealth.
  • CWEIC is a values based organisation reflecting the commitments of the Commonwealth Charter. Central to CWEIC’s work is the understanding that businesses require a set of values under which trade and investment can take place; transparency; good governance; respect for the rule of law; enforceable physical and intellectual property rights; equal opportunities and a diverse workforce and an overarching understanding that financial probity from government and the private sector is key to a flourishing business environment.
  • CWEIC is the apex organisation representing private sector businesses within the Commonwealth and is the only institution with a remit to promote intra-Commonwealth trade and investment.
  • The CWEIC is also responsible for organising the Commonwealth Business Forum alongside the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

Sources: the hindu.


 

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

 

Commonwealth unveils initiative to stamp out domestic violence

 

The Commonwealth is launching an initiative to help member states tackle domestic violence, which it said remained a “stubborn stain” on communities, disproportionately impacting women.

  • The programme, which is being launched on Women’s Day, will continue through till 2018, when there is expected to be an accord on ending domestic violence in the Commonwealth.

 

Key facts:

  • The “Peace in the home” programme will include toolkits to help governments across the Commonwealth involve multiple agencies — such as schools, doctors and hospitals, as well as government — and law enforcement agencies to work together effectively, and will help countries highlight and share details of initiatives that had been particularly successful at dealing with domestic violence.
  • There will also be a mentoring programme for women, and an initiative to address the issue of violence around elections and politics.
  • The Commonwealth initiative will build a coalition of governments, businesses, human rights institutions, civil society and individual citizens to choral efforts to address domestic violence.
  • An initiative to map the economic cost of domestic violence in Commonwealth countries, as well as focus on strengthening laws protecting women and girls across the group will also be launched.

 

Background:

According to the UN estimates one in three women has suffered from in one form or another domestic violence.

Sources: the hindu.


 

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.

 

India first in bribery rate, says global NGO

 

The Global Corruption Barometer for the Asia Pacific Region was released recently by Transparency International (TI) – an anti-corruption global civil society organisation.

 

How was the survey carried out?

  • For its report – People and Corruption: Asia Pacific, part of the Global Corruption Barometer series, TI spoke to nearly 22,000 people in these countries about their recent experiences with corruption.
  • For the purpose of this survey, TI concentrated on bribes paid for procuring six key public services viz public schools, public hospitals, official documents (such as identification card, voters card), public utility services, the police and courts.

 

Highlights:

  • India had the highest bribery rate among the 16 Asia Pacific countries. Nearly seven in 10 Indians who had accessed public services had paid a bribe.
  • Japan has the least bribery rate, where only 0.2% of the respondents reported paying a bribe.
  • India was followed closely by Vietnam where around two thirds (65%) had paid a bribe when accessing public services.
  • Across the Asia Pacific region, just 22% of the respondents thought that corruption had decreased while 40% of the respondents (41% in India) were of the option that it was on the rise. In mainland China, 73% of the respondents felt that the level of corruption had worsened. This was the highest of any country surveyed.
  • 38% of the poorest people surveyed said they paid a bribe either for access to a service or for quicker delivery. In some countries like India, Pakistan and Thailand, it was the poorer section who had to bear the brunt of corruption and pay a bribe.
  • Nearly 73% of those who paid a bribe in India were from the poorer section of society, in Pakistan and Thailand this percentage was 64% and 46% respectively.
  • Surprisingly a reverse trend was found in some countries – such as China, where the richer sections were more likely to pay a bribe – perhaps to get a quicker or better quality of service.
  • In India, respondents reported the highest bribery incident in procuring government healthcare services and even identification related documents. Nearly 59% of the respondents had paid a bribe for such services. Bribes paid for education were next on the list with 58% having reported doing so.

 

Way ahead for India:

As many states in India, already have in place the ‘Right to Public Services Act’ cutting across a number of services, which require that services be delivered within a stipulated time period, the survey results point out the need for further improvement.

  • At the state level, anti-corruption policies must be focussed on catering to the poor. Uniform best practices for state levl lokayuktas must be agreed upon and any overlaps with other law enforcement agencies must be resolved at the earliest.
  • At the national level, India needs to urgently align its foreign bribery laws with its UNCAC (United Nations Convention against Corruption) obligations. Signing OECD anti-bribery commission is key in this process. The legal infrastructure for public procurement in India falls under the remit of the General Financial Rules.
  • TI recommends that a national procurement law that incorporates international best practices including debarment, appeal processes and a review processes be enacted. This will substantially reduce fraud in public contracting which will in turn affect the quality of public service delivery. For grand corruption, a key step would be to set up effective enabling regulations and institutions for the LokPal.
  • 63% of the respondents in India felt that they as individuals had the power to fight corruption. Across the region, people thought that reporting corruption (22%) followed by refusing to pay bribes (21%) were most effective. Over a half of the respondents from India were positive about the government’s efforts to combat bribery.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Facts for Prelims

 

FOIN 2017:

  • 3rd Festival of Innovation (FOIN) was recently held in President’s house.
  • The Festival of Innovation (FOIN) is a unique initiative of the Office of the President of India to recognise, respect and reward grassroots innovations and foster a supportive ecosystem. Hosted in the month of March at The President’s House, the FOIN has become a national celebration of creativity and innovation at and for grassroots.
  • In sync with the policies of the government of India, FOIN will provide a window to the creative and innovative solutions for social development through grassroots innovations, student ideas and other technologies for agriculture, rural development, sanitation, health, women and child development, biotechnology and medical innovation for grassroots.

 

Al Nagah-Ii 2017: 

  • Second edition of the joint exercise between the Indian and Oman Armies has begun with the Opening Ceremony at Bakloh, Himachal Pradesh. The previous edition of the Exercise was held at Muscat, Oman in 2015.
  • The aim of this exercise is to acquaint both forces with each other’s operating procedures, improve the interoperability in conducting joint operations in the backdrop of counter insurgency/ counter terrorism environment as also to enhance the existing military relationship between the Indian Army and the Royal Army of Oman.

 

National Awards for Innovation in Educational Administration:

  • The National Awards for Innovation in Educational Administration were recently presented to the participants in New Delhi.
  • The Awards have been instituted by the National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA), New Delhi.
  • The main objective of the programme is to recognize innovative ideas and practices adopted by district and block level education officers for effective management of the educational administrative system at district and block levels, and ensuring institutional development and performance at school level.

 

Surya Kiran – XI:

  • Indo – Nepal Joint Military Exercise Surya Kiran – XI has commenced at Pithoragarh.
  • In this 14 days exercise, Nepal Army is being represented by the officers and troops of the elite DURGA BAKSH Battalion while the EKTA SHAKTI Battalion of The Punjab Regiment is participating on behalf of the Indian Army.
  • This is eleventh such battalion level exercise between the two countries aimed at training of troops in counter insurgency operations in mountainous terrain.
  • It formally incorporates issues related to humanitarian assistance and disaster management (HADR) and will help enhance defence co-operation and military relations between the two countries.

 

PAU develops country’s first Bt cotton varieties:   

  • Punjab Agricultural University has successfully developed the country’s first Bt cotton varieties.
  • The ICAR has identified three varieties, namely PAU Bt 1, F1861 and RS 2013, for cultivation in Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan. It is a cheaper alternative to Bt cotton hybrid seed.

 

IISc among world’s best 10 varsities:   

  • The Indian Institute of Science (IISc.) has been ranked in the top 10 of Times Higher Education’s (THE) Best Small Universities-2017 global rankings that looks only at universities with fewer than 5,000 students.
  • At rank 8, IISc. is the only Indian university in the list of 20, and is also the second-highest ranked Asian University.
  • The list is topped by California Institute of Technology (Caltech). In the world university ranking, however, it sits in the range of 201-250 when compared with larger universities also.
  • IISc, a public university for scientific research and higher education, was established in 1909 with active support from Jamsetji Tata and Sir Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV, the Maharaja of Mysore.
  • In 2015-16, it became the first Indian institute to be ranked among the top 100 in THE World University Rankings for engineering and technology at 99th position.
  • The Times Higher Education World University Rankings was founded in 2004 by the U.K.-based Times Higher Education (THE) magazine. It provides the definitive list of the world’s best universities, evaluated across teaching, research, international outlook, reputation and more.