Insights Daily Current Affairs, 06 July 2017

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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 06 July 2017


 

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.

 

MERIT app

 

The government has launched the ‘MERIT app (Merit Order Despatch of Electricity for Rejuvenation of Income and Transparency)’ and the e-bidding portal for providing e-Bidding solution to States to select Independent Power Producers (IPPs) for procurement of power by transferring their domestic coal under the scheme of flexibility in utilization of domestic coal.

merit

 

Key facts:

  • The web portal and mobile app for Merit Order Despatch of Electricity (MERIT) have been developed in association with POSOCO.
  • The app displays extensive array of information regarding the merit order such as daily state-wise marginal variable costs of all generators, daily source-wise power purchases of respective states/UTs with source-wise fixed and variable costs, energy volumes and purchase prices.
  • The app also gives information regarding reasons for deviation from merit order such as must run conditions, transmission constraints etc.
  • The app and the web portal would result in optimum utilization of Coal which would save the consumer close to Rs. 20,000 crores five years down the line.

 

The advantages of MERIT app are as follows:

  • Empowerment of the Consumer and participative governance.
  • Transparent information dissemination pertaining to marginal variable cost and source wise purchase of electricity.
  • Promotes economy and efficiency in operations.
  • Helps understand the utility portfolio and its complexity.
  • Optimization of the power procurement costs.
  • Facilitates renewable integration and handling of the variability and uncertainty of renewables.
  • Indication of supply side reliability and adequacy.
  • The flexibility in utilization of domestic coal scheme envisages transferring coal to more efficient IPPs generating stations, leading to lower generation costs and ultimately lesser cost of electricity for the consumers.

 

Background:

The merit order stack is a common approach to the problem of minimizing the sum of generators’ operating costs while honoring the operational constraints of the available generation to supply the demand in a secure and reliable manner. The Tariff Policy, 2016 provides that the States/DISCOMs shall follow merit order for procurement of power and there should be uniformity in merit order mechanism. The adherence to merit order optimizes the power procurement cost and benefits both utility and ultimate consumer.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 1 Topic: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

 

PM’s gifts to PM Benjamin Netanyahu

 

The Prime Minister Narendra Modi presented Prime Minister of Israel Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu replicas of 2 sets of relics from Kerala that are regarded as key artifacts in the long Jewish history in India.

pm gift to benjamin

What you need to know about these artefacts?

They comprise two different sets of copper plates that are believed to have been inscribed in 9-10th century C.E.

  • The first set of copper plates is a cherished relic for the Cochini Jews in India. It is regarded as a charter describing the grant of hereditary royal privileges and prerogatives by the Hindu King, Cheraman Perumal (often identified as Bhaskara Ravi Varma) to the Jewish leader Joseph Rabban. According to traditional Jewish accounts, Joseph Rabban was later crowned as the Prince of Shingli, a place in or equated with Cranganore. Cranganore is where Jews enjoyed religious and cultural autonomy for centuries, before they moved to Cochin and other places in Malabar. Local Jews once placed in each coffin a handful of earth from Shingli/Cranganore that was remembered as a holy place & a “second Jerusalem”. The replica of these plates was made possible with the cooperation of the Paradesi Synagogue in Mattancherry, Kochi.
  • The second set of copper plates is believed to be the earliest documentation of the history of Jewish trade with India. These plates describe the grant of land and tax privileges by the local Hindu ruler to a church and oversight of trade in Kollam to West Asian and Indian trading associations. West Asian association included Muslims, Christians, Zoroastrians, as also a group of Jews who signed in Judeo-Persian and possibly also in Arabic and Pahlavi (Middle Persian). The plates bear their signatures that appear to have been cut into the plates by a local workman unfamiliar with the script. The replica of these plates was made possible with the cooperation of Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church in Thiruvalla, Kerala.

 

Sources: pib.


 

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

 

BRICS ‘Beijing Declaration On Education’ Adopted For More Academic Cooperation

 

BRICS ministers of education and assigned representatives have adopted ‘Beijing Declaration on Education’ in a recently held 5th meeting of BRICS Ministers of education at Beijing.

javadekar-at-brics-education-ministers-meeting

About Beijing Declaration on Education:

  • According to the declaration, members states – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – are committed to the UN Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG4)-Education 2030 which aims to “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all” that was set within The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
  • The declaration reiterated support for the BRICS Network University (NU) to collaborate in the fields of education, research and innovation. It also encouraged universities to participate in the BRICS University League.
  • With the Beijing declaration, BRICS member states also decided to increase cultural cooperation through language education and multilingualism to promote mutual understanding of the history and culture of BRICS member states and to undertake initiatives to promote professionalization of academics in higher education through the BRICS Network University as a focus of future education development.
  • The declaration emphasises to encourage more teachers and educational administrators to learn from experience of other countries in improving teacher quality and performance, and promoting the development of education through international exchanges.
  • It was also decided to strengthen cooperation in the field of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET), share ideas and experiences in the development of vocational educators, and develop projects that are of common interests to BRICS Member States.
  • The declaration also encouraged to expand the number of scholarship opportunities to students across BRICS Member States.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

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

 

Parliamentary secretaries’ appointment set aside

 

The Punjab and Haryana High Court have set aside the appointment of four MLAs as chief parliamentary secretaries. However, the court, on the request of the Haryana government, put a stay on the implementation of the decision for three weeks.

 

What’s the issue?

Four MLAs were appointed as chief parliamentary secretaries in the Haryana government in July 2015. A petition was filed challenging the appointents.

  • The petition contended that under the constitution there was no provision for the post of chief parliamentary secretaries and their appointment. Besides being unconstitutional, it was a burden on the State exchequer and the taxpayer.
  • The State government contested the plea saying that chief parliamentary secretaries were appointed to assist Ministers in public interest in view of their varied duties.

 

Who is a parliamentary secretary?

A Parliament Secretary is similar to a Minister of State who assists a Minister in his or her duties.

 

Constitutional provisions:

Experts argue that the post of parliamentary secretary is in contradiction to Article 164 (1A) of the Constitution which provides for limiting the number of Ministers in the State Cabinets to 15% of the total number of members of the State Legislative Assembly. But, the number of Cabinet Ministers in Delhi cannot exceed 10% of the total 70 seats — that is seven — as per Article 239AA of Constitution.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

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

 

Selection of ECs must be transparent, SC tells Centre

 

The Supreme Court has posed several pointed questions to the Centre regarding the lack of proper procedure for appointment of Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners. The issue came up to the court based on a petition seeking a direction to the Centre to constitute a “neutral and independent selection committee” to recommend names for the post of Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners.

supreme-court

Background:

The plea alleged that the Centre’s practice in appointing the member of Election Commission was discriminatory and violative of law, which obligate executive/legislature to make law for ensuring a fair, just and transparent selection process for election commission.

It also argued that the practice of appointing the member to the Election Commission without making law for a fair, just and transparent process of selection by constituting an independent and neutral collegium/selection committee to recommend the name, is in violation of Article 14 and 324(2) of the Constitution of India and is in vogue continuously since adoption of the Constitution.

 

Important observations made by the court:

  • Accepting the fact that outstanding people who maintained neutrality have been appointed so far, the court said there was a lack of procedure which parliament was ought to have laid down.
  • The court asked why parliament could not enact law to install an independent collegium for selecting ECs as that would be a legitimate expectation to maintain neutrality free from executive’s clutches.

 

What are the demands?

  • The plea has sought a direction to Centre “to make law for ensuring a fair, just and transparent process of selection by constituting a neutral and independent collegium/ selection committee to recommend the name for the appointment of member to the election commission.”
  • It also sought direction to the Centre for constituting “an interim neutral and independent collegium/selection committee to recommend the names for the appointment on the vacant post of members to the Election Commission”.

 

Current practice:

Currently, the Prime Minister and his council of ministers decide who will be election commissioner. On their advise, the President then appoints the commissioner.

 

Sources: the hindu.


Facts for Prelims:

 

Maitree 2017:

  • A 14-day joint military training exercise between India and Thailand started in Himachal Pradesh. The aim of this exercise is to build and promote closer relations while exchanging skills and experiences between the two armies.
  • Exercise Maitree 2017 is a continuation of a series of joint exercises between the Indian Army and the Royal Thailand Army. The previous edition of the exercise was held at Krabi in Thailand in 2016.

 

TERI ranked second among world’s climate think tanks:

  • International Centre for Climate Governance (ICCG), an international body which focuses on climate policies, has ranked The Energy Resources Institute (TERI) among the top think tanks in the world.
  • TERI was ranked under the category ‘2016 Top Climate Think Tanks in the Rest of the World–Absolute Global Rankings’ during ICCG’s 23rd annual conference of the European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists (EAERE) in Athens in Greece.
  • The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) is a leading think tank dedicated to conducting research for sustainable development of India and the Global South. TERI was established in 1974 as an information centre on energy issues. However, over the following decades, it made a mark as a research institute, whose policy and technology solutions transformed people’s lives and the environment.

 

Nasr:

Pakistan has successfully test-fired short-range surface-to-surface ballistic missile ‘Nasr’. ‘Nasr’ is a high-precision weapon system with the ability to be deployed quickly. It has a range of 60-70 Km.