Insights Daily Current Affairs, 04 May 2017

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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 04 May 2017


 

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

 

Policy for providing preference to domestically manufactured iron & steel products in government procurement

 

The Union Cabinet has approved the policy for providing preference to domestically manufactured iron & steel products on Government procurement.

  • This policy seeks to accomplish the PM’s vision of ‘Make in India’ with objective of nation building and encourage domestic manufacturing.

steel

What you need to know about the new policy?

  • The policy mandates to provide preference to Domestically Manufactured Iron & Steel Products (DMI&SP), in Government Procurement.
  • The policy is applicable on all government tenders where price bid is yet to be opened.
  • The policy provides a minimum value addition of 15% in notified steel products which are covered under preferential procurement.
  • In order to provide flexibility, Ministry of Steel may review specified steel products and the minimum value addition criterion.
  • While implementing who shall provide the policy, it poses trust on each domestic manufacturer who shall provide self-certification to the procuring Government agency declaring that the iron & steel products are domestically manufactured in terms of the domestic value addition prescribed.
  • It shall not normally be the responsibility of procuring agency to verify the correctness of the claim. In few cases, the onus of demonstrating the correctness-of the same shall be on the bidder when asked to do so.
  • In case any manufacturer is aggrieved, a grievance redressal committee set up under the Ministry of Steel shall dispose of the complaint in a time bound manner, in four weeks.
  • There are provisions in the policy for waivers to all such procurements, where specific grades of steel are not manufactured in the country, or the quantities as per the demand of the project cannot be met through domestic sources.

 

Significance of this policy:

The policy is envisaged to promote growth and development of domestic steel Industry and reduce the inclination to use, low quality low cost imported steel in Government funded projects.

 

Sources: pib.


 

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

 

National Steel Policy 2017

 

The Union Cabinet has given its approval for National Steel Policy (NSP) 2017. The new Steel Policy enshrines the long term vision of the Government to give impetus to the steel sector.  It seeks to enhance domestic steel consumption and ensure high quality steel production and create a technologically advanced and globally competitive steel industry.

steel2017

 

Background:

Steel is one of the most important products in the modern world and forms the backbone to any industrial economy. India being one of the fastest growing economies in the world, and steel finding its extensive application right from construction, infrastructure, power, aerospace and industrial machinery to consumer products, the sector is of strategic importance to the country. The Indian steel sector has grown exponentially over the past few years to be the third largest producer of steel globally, contributing to about 2% of the country’s GDP and employing about 5 lakh people directly and about 20 lakh people indirectly. Untapped potential with a strong policy support becomes the ideal platform for growth.

 

Highlights of the policy:

  • The New Steel Policy, 2017 aspires to achieve 300MT of steel-making capacity by 2030. This would translate into additional investment of Rs. 10 lakh Crore by 2030-31.
  • The Policy seeks to increase consumption of steel and major segments are infrastructure, automobiles and housing. New Steel Policy seeks to increase per capita steel consumption to the level of 160 Kgs by 2030 from existing level of around 60 Kg.
  • Potential of MSME steel sector has been recognised. Policy stipulates that adoption of energy efficient technologies in the MSME steel sector will be encouraged to improve the overall productivity & reduce energy intensity.
  • Steel Ministry will facilitate R&D in the sector through the establishment of Steel Research and Technology Mission of India (SRTMI). The initiative is aimed to spearhead R&D of national importance in iron & steel sector utilizing tripartite synergy amongst industry, national R&D laboratories and academic institutes.
  • Ministry through policy measures will ensure availability of raw materials like Iron ore, Coking coal and non-coking coal, Natural gas etc. at competitive rates.

 

Way ahead:

With the roll out of the National Steel Policy-2017, it is envisaged that the industry will be steered in creating an environment for promoting domestic steel and thereby ensuring a scenario where production meets the anticipated pace of growth in consumption, through a technologically advanced and globally competitive steel industry. This will be facilitated by Ministry of Steel, in coordination with relevant Ministries, as may be required.

 

Sources: pib.


 

Paper 3 Topic: Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices; Public Distribution System objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security; Technology missions; economics of animal-rearing.

 

New Central Sector Scheme – SAMPADA

 

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for re-structuring the schemes of the Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MoFPI) under new Central Sector Scheme – SAMPADA (Scheme for Agro-Marine Processing and Development of Agro-Processing Clusters) for the period 2016-20 coterminous with the 14th Finance Commission cycle.

 

sampada

Background:

Food Processing Sector has emerged as an important segment of the Indian economy in terms of its contribution to GDP, employment and investment. During 2015-16, the sector constituted as much as 9.1 and 8.6% of GVA in Manufacturing and Agriculture sector respectively.

 

What you need to know about the scheme?

SAMPADA is an umbrella scheme incorporating ongoing schemes of the Ministry like Mega Food Parks, Integrated Cold Chain and Value Addition Infrastructure, Food Safety and Quality Assurance Infrastructure, etc. and also new schemes like Infrastructure for Agro-processing Clusters, Creation of Backward and Forward Linkages, Creation / Expansion of Food Processing & Preservation Capacities. The objective of SAMPADA is to supplement agriculture, modernize processing and decrease agri-waste.

The SAMPADA is a comprehensive package to give a renewed thrust to the food processing sector in the country. It includes new schemes of Infrastructure for Agro-processing Clusters, Creation of Backward and Forward Linkages and Creation / Expansion of Food Processing & Preservation Capacities aim at development of modern infrastructure to encourage entrepreneurs to set up food processing units based on cluster approach, provide effective and seamless backward and forward integration for processed food industry by plugging gaps in supply chain and creation of processing and preservation capacities and modernization/ expansion of existing food processing units.

 

Expected outcomes of the scheme:

The implementation of SAMPADA will result in creation of modern infrastructure with efficient supply chain management from farm gate to retail outlet. It will not only provide a big boost to the growth of food processing sector in the country but also help in providing better prices to farmers and is a big step towards doubling of farmers’ income. It will create huge employment opportunities especially in the rural areas. It will also help in reducing wastage of agricultural produce, increasing the processing level, availability of safe and convenient processed foods at affordable price to consumers and enhancing the export of the processed foods.

 

Sources: pib.


 

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

 

Package to resolve NPAs gets Cabinet nod

 

The government has cleared a package to resolve the persistent rise in non-performing assets that is plaguing public sector banks and denting credit growth.

  • The package includes an ordinance to amend the Banking Regulation Act of 1949 to empower the Reserve Bank of India to take more actions to check bad loans.

 

Need for reforms:

Bad loans in the Indian banking system have gone up sharply in the last one year. According to Reserve Bank of India data, gross NPA, as a percentage of gross advances went up to 9.1% in September 2016 from 5.1% in September 2015. During the same period, stressed assets (which is gross NPA plus standard restructured advances and write-offs), moved up from 11.3% to 12.3% and some estimates suggested it had doubled since 2013.

 

Share of public sector banks:

Public sector banks share a disproportionate burden of this stress. Stressed assets in some of the public sector banks have approached or exceeded 20%. Some estimates suggest the total stress in the Indian banking system is about Rs. 14 lakh crore.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 3 Topic: indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

 

BrahMos missile achieves rare feat

 

The Army recently carried out a successful test of the advanced BrahMos Block III Land Attack Cruise Missile (LACM) in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

  • This is the fifth consecutive time when the Block-III version of BrahMos LACM has been successfully launched and hit the land-based target in “top-attack” mode, an incredible feat not achieved by any other weapon system of its genre.
  • These tests were carried out in full operational land-to-land configurations from Mobile Autonomous Launchers (MAL) at full-range.

 

brahmos

What you need to know about BrahMos?

BrahMos is a product of joint collaboration between India and Russia and is capable of being launched from land, sea, sub-sea and air against surface and sea-based targets.

  • The range of the supersonic missile was initially capped at 290 km as per the obligations of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).
  • Since India’s entry into the club, the range has been extended to 450 km and the plan is to increase it to 600km.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

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

 

Patna HC sets aside ban on ENA

 

The Patna High Court has set aside the Bihar government’s decision to ban production of Extra Neutral Alcohol (ENA) by several distillery and liquor companies in the State.

 

ena

What’s the issue?

After imposing total prohibition last year in April, the government on January 24 this year issued a notification saying the licences of ENA manufacturers would not be renewed. However, a petition was filed in the court challenging the notification. The petitioners submitted they had been given the licence to produce ENA, also known as industrial alcohol, after the government imposed total prohibition through its notification dated October 2, 2016.

 

What has the court said?

The court observed that the government had no right to ban production of ENA as it is used in various other industries apart from making liquor.

The court said: “The State does not have legislative competence to deal with the subject of alcohol unfit for human consumption. We see no reason to hold the provisions of Sections 13, 23 and 24(1) of the Prohibition Act as unconstitutional or ultra vires, as in the light of the declaration with respect to including ENA within the definition of Intoxicant to be not permissible, the applicability of these provisions to alcohol unfit for human consumption does not arise now.”  

 

Significance of this decision:

The verdict meant that investment to the tune of Rs. 100 crore had been safeguarded.

 

Background:

The Extra Neutral alcohol or ENA is a high distillated alcohol without any impurities and others destinated to be used in the high cosmetic industry, perfumeries as well as for the production of alcoholic beverages such as whisky, vodka, gin, cane, liqueurs and alcoholic fruit beverages and aperitifs.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources, issues relating to poverty and hunger.

 

NITI Aayog for less teaching, more research

 

NITI Aayog has proposed reforms to ensure that investments in research better translate to more products and bolster “innovation and development”.

research

Background:

The NITI Aayog suggestions stem from a three-year vision document that outlines targets and goals the Ministries — from railways to environment — ought to achieve by 2020.

 

What’s proposed?

  • It has recommended that faculty at “world class” institutions prioritise research and be allowed to “reduce their teaching responsibility,” if required.
  • Such universities also ought to be allowed to recruit research staff from abroad and be encouraged to compete for research projects from industry.
  • The so-called ‘world class universities’ are part of a government-outlined plan to raise funding for 10 public and 10 private universities and mould them into institutions that rank among the world’s best.
  • The names of these institutions are expected to be made public later this year.

 

Other proposals by NITI Aayog:

  • The NITI Aayog also pitches for a new ‘National Science, Technology and Innovation Foundation’ headed by a distinguished scientist. This will coordinate with science and technology departments, ministries, governments and private sector bodies and deliberate on national issues and recommend interventions. Such an organisation will review progress of projects every six months and propose “course corrections” for achieving these goals.
  • It also proposes a database of all existing schemes related to science and technology across ministries and departments. This will have information on the coordinating ministry, its objectives and available funds. Its key purpose would be to avoid “duplication of efforts, reduce approval times, increase accountability and collaboration between entities and measured outcomes.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

Facts for Prelims:

 

Cabinet approves Vijayawada Airport as International Airport:

  • The Union Cabinet has given its approval for the declaration of Vijayawada Airport as International Airport, as per the provisions of Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014.
  • Declaration of an airport as International Airport depends upon traffic potential and demand from airlines for operation of international flights.

 

Urea manufacturing Plant in Malaysia:

  • The Union Cabinet has given its ex-post facto approval to the signing of Memorandum of Understanding with Malaysia on development of a Urea and Ammonia manufacturing plant in Malaysia with off take to India and/or off take of existing surplus Urea from Malaysia to India.
  • The project is expected to cost US$ 2.1 billion with capacity to produce 2.4 million tonnes of Urea and 1.35 million tonnes of Ammonia per annum and dedicated supplying to Indian market.
  • The signing of MoU will ensure consistent supply of Urea and Ammonia to cater the need of the country at a lower price, if agreed to by both the participants.

 

World Press Freedom Day:

  • The United Nations General Assembly declared May 3 to be World Press Freedom Day or just World Press Day to raise awareness of the importance of freedom of the press.
  • This was also to remind governments of their duty to respect and uphold the right to freedom of expression enshrined under Article 19 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and marking the anniversary of the Declaration of Windhoek a statement of free press principles put together by African newspaper journalists in 1991.
  • World Press Freedom Day was first organized by the United Nations General Assembly in 1993 in an effort to reflect upon press freedom in the world.
  • This day acts as a reminder of the importance of a free press in a functioning and safe society and serves to commemorate the journalists who have lost their lives in support of free press.
  • UNESCO marks World Press Freedom Day by conferring the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize on a deserving individual, organisation or institution that has made an outstanding contribution to the defence and/or promotion of press freedom anywhere in the world, especially when this has been achieved in the face of danger.
  • Theme 2017: “Critical Minds for Critical Times: Media’s role in advancing peaceful, just and inclusive societies”.

 

Chenab to get tallest rail bridge:

  • The world’s highest railway bridge that is expected to be 35 metres taller than Paris’ Eiffel Tower will be built in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • The massive arch-shaped structure, being constructed at a cost of around Rs. 1,100 crore, will use over 24,000 tonnes of steel and will rise 359 m above the river bed.
  • Designed to withstand wind speeds of up to 260 km per hour, the 1.315-km- long “engineering marvel” will connect Bakkal (Katra) and Kauri (Srinagar).
  • The bridge forms a crucial link in the 111-km stretch between Katra and Banihal, which is part of the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla rail link project.
  • The bridge will be made of 63-mm thick special blast-proof steel as the region is prone to frequent terror attacks. Its concrete pillars will be designed to withstand explosions.
  • Slated to be completed by 2019, it is expected to become a tourist attraction.