Insights Daily Current Affairs, 13 July 2017

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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 13 July 2017


 

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

 

CPWD reminded of challenges ahead as it turns 163

 

The public sector construction major, Central Public Works Department (CPWD) turned 163 on July 12th, 2017. On this occasion, it was reminded of the challenges ahead and the need to innovate to retain its primacy.

cpwd

About CPWD:

CPWD came into existence in July, 1854 when Lord Dalhousie established a central agency for execution of public works and set up Ajmer Provincial Division. It is housed under the Ministry of Urban Development.

  • Through the professional expertise in disciplines including Architecture, Engineering, Project Management coupled with comprehensive experience in building construction and maintenance CPWD has been serving the nation for last 162 years and has executed priority of works in difficult and demanding geographical and climatic conditions.
  • It is headed by DG who is also the Principal Technical Advisor to the Government of India. The regions and sub-regions are headed by Special DGs and Additional DGs respectively, while the zones in all state capitals (except a few) are headed by Chief Engineers.
  • CPWD has PAN India presence and has ability to undertake construction of complex projects even in difficult terrain and maintenance in post construction stage.
  • CPWD had been involved in construction of stadiums and other infrastructure requirements for Asian Games 1982 and Commonwealth Games 2010.

 

CPWD consists of three wings in execution field:

  • B&R (Buildings and Roads).
  • E&M (Electrical and Mechanical).

Sources: pib.


 

Paper 2 Topic: India and its neighbourhood- relations.

 

Cabinet approves SASEC Road Connectivity Investment Program

 

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by the Prime Minister has given its approval for upgradation and widening of 65 kms of Imphal-Moreh Section of NH-39 in Manipur. The project is being developed with ADB’s loan assistance under the South Asian Sub-Regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) Road Connectivity Investment Program.

  • The project corridor is also a part of the Asian Highway No. 01 (AH01) and acts as India’s Gateway to the East. Thus trade, commerce and tourism in the region will get a boost.

sasec

 

About SASEC:

Established in 2001, the SASEC program is a project-based partnership to promote regional prosperity by improving cross-border connectivity, boosting trade among member countries and strengthening regional economic cooperation.

  • ADB is the secretariat and lead financier of the SASEC program, which to date has supported a total of 46 projects worth $9.17 billion in transport, trade facilitation, energy and information and communications technology (ICT).
  • The SASEC OP, endorsed in June 2016 by the SASEC member countries, is SASEC’s first comprehensive long-term plan to promote greater economic cooperation among the member countries in the areas of transport, trade facilitation, energy, and economic corridor development.
  • Bringing regional cooperation to a higher level, the SASEC OP plans to extend physical linkages not only within SASEC but also with East and Southeast Asia by the next decade.

 

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.

 

Various Railways initiatives launched

 

Following new railway initiatives were recently launched:

  • RAIL CLOUD PROJECT.
  • NIVARAN-Grievance Portal (First IT Application on Rail Cloud).
  • Cashless treatment Scheme in Emergency (CTSE) Scheme and Handing over of 1st CTSE Card.

RailCloud

RailCloud:

Rail Cloud works on popular Cloud Computing system. Most Important works are done through Cloud Computing. Cloud Computing is the emerging technology for faster and on demand commensurate deployment of Server resources which result in reduced cost. It is developed by rail PSU RailTel.

 

Potential benefits to Railways after implementation of RailCloud are:

  • Faster and on-demand deployment of application.
  • Optimum use of Servers and storage.
  • Utilization of existing infrastructure as part of Cloud.
  • Rapid scalability and elasticity.
  • IT Security enhancement and Standardization.
  • Cost reduction.
  • Better user experience.

 

NIVARAN-Grievance Portal:

‘NIVARAN-Grievance Portal’ is the first IT application to be launched on the RailCloud. It is the platform for resolution of service related grievances of serving and former railway employees. The existing application was hosted on a conventional server; it has been made cloud-ready and being migrated as the first cloud application of Indian Railways. It will save significant revenue and at the same time user experience will also improve.

 

Cashless treatment Scheme in Emergency (CTSE):

To provide immediate care to its retired employees in ‘Golden Hour’ Railway Board has decided to roll out a “Cashless treatment Scheme in Emergency’ (CTSE), in empanelled hospitals, for retired employees and their dependent family members. A web based system of communication between private hospitals and railway authorities has been developed wherein identity of the beneficiary shall be established using biometrics stored in Aadhar (UIDAI) server, eligibility shall be determined using Railway Data Base and emergency shall be verified by Railway Medical Officer based on private hospital’s clinical report. The whole system is online and even the bill processing shall be online. This scheme shall provide help and succor to the retired railway employees at the time of need and at the same time will have a morale boosting effect on the serving employees.

 

Sources: pib.


 

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

 

ISARC in Varanasi

 

The Union Cabinet has approved the establishment of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), South Asia Regional Center (ISARC) at campus of National Seed Research and Training Center (NSRTC) in Varanasi.

introduction-of-seed-production

  • Under the proposal, a Centre of Excellence in Rice Value Addition (CERVA) will be set up in Varanasi. This will include a modern and sophisticated laboratory with capacity to determine quality and status of heavy metals in grain and straw. The Centre will also undertake capacity building exercises for stakeholders across the rice value chain.
  • This Center will be the first international Center in the eastern India and it will play a major role in harnessing and sustaining rice production in the region. It is expected to be a boon for food production and skill development in the eastern India and similar ecologies in other South Asian and African countries.

 

Benefits from ISARC:

The Centre will help in utilizing the rich biodiversity of India to develop special rice varieties. This will help India to achieve higher per hectare yields and improved nutritional contents. India’s food and nutritional security issues will also be addressed. The Centre will support in adopting value chain based production system in the country. This will reduce wastage, add value and generate higher income for the farmers. The farmers in Eastern India will benefit in particular, besides those in South Asian and African countries.

 

Sources: pib.


 

Paper 2 Topic: India and its neighbourhood- relations.

 

Cabinet approves interpretative notes between India, Bangladesh

 

The Union Cabinet has given its approval for the Joint Interpretative Notes (JIN) on the agreement between India and Bangladesh for the promotion and protection of investments between the two countries.

  • The JIN includes interpretative notes to be jointly adopted for many clauses, including, the definition of investor and investment, exclusion of taxation measures, Fair and Equitable Treatment (FET), National Treatment (NT) and Most Favoured Nation (MFN) treatment, expropriation, essential security interests and settlement of disputes between an investor and a contracting party.

interpretative notes

Significance of the JIN:

  • Joint Interpretative Statements play an important supplementary role in strengthening the investment treaty regime. With increasing Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) disputes, issuance of such statements was likely to have strong persuasive value before tribunals.
  • The JIN would impart clarity to the interpretation of the existing agreement between India and Bangladesh for the Promotion and Protection of Investments (BIPA).

 

Sources: pib.


 

Paper 2 Topic: India and its neighbourhood- relations.

 

China sends PLA unit to man overseas base

 

China has dispatched People’s Liberation Army (PLA) personnel to man its first overseas military base at Djibouti in the strategic Indian Ocean region, a move likely to spark concerns in the U.S.

overseas base

Base at Djibouti:

The establishment of the PLA Djibouti base was a decision made by the two countries after friendly negotiations, and accords with the common interest of the people from both sides. The base is aimed at ensuring China’s performance of missions, such as escorting, peace-keeping and humanitarian aid in Africa and West Asia.

The base will also conduct overseas tasks, including military cooperation, joint exercises, evacuating and protecting overseas Chinese and emergency rescue, as well as jointly maintaining security of international strategic seaways.

 

Why is US worried?

  • Base at Djibouti is close to Camp Lemonnier. Established after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Camp Lemonnier is home to 4,000 personnel. Some are involved in highly secretive missions.
  • Strategists worry that a naval port so close to Camp Lemonnier could provide a front-row seat to the staging ground for U.S. counterterrorism operations in the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa.
  • The base, which is run by the Navy and abuts Djibouti’s international airport, is the only permanent U.S. military installation in Africa.

 

About Dijbouti:

Djibouti, officially the Republic of Djibouti, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is bordered by Eritrea in the north, Ethiopia in the west and south, and Somalia in the southeast. The remainder of the border is formed by the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden at the east.

 

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.

 

Bitcoin trade may come under SEBI

 

The government is considering the introduction of a regulatory regime for virtual or crypto currencies, such as Bitcoin, that would enable the levy of the Goods and Services Tax on their sale.

  • The new regime may possibly bring their trading under the oversight of the stock market regulator, Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).

bitcoin

Benefits of regulation of these currencies:

Proper regulation of these currencies will “promote” a formal tax base, while keeping a tab on their use for illegal activities such as money laundering, terror funding and drug trafficking.

 

What are cryptocurrencies?

Crypto-currency that is planned to be brought under the regulatory regime is a digital currency which allows transacting parties to remain anonymous while confirming that the transaction is a valid one. It is not owned or controlled by any institution – governments or private.

There are multiple such currencies — bitcoin, ethereum, ripple are some of the popular ones. Currently, they are neither illegal nor legal in India.

 

Need for regulation:

Cryptocurrencies have gained popularity in the last few years. Currently, they are neither illegal nor legal in many countries including India. The market cap for all crypto-currencies has just crossed $100 billion, with most of the increase coming in the past few months. On April 1, 2017, the total market cap was just over $25 billion, representing a 300% rise in just over 60 days. One bitcoin today is worth as much as 60 grams of gold.

 

Why banning cryptocurrencies altogether is not a good idea:

Banning will give a clear message that all related activities are illegal and will disincetivise those interested in taking speculative risks. It will also impede tax collection on gains made in such activities and that regulating the currency instead would signal a boost to blockchain technology, encourage the development of a supervision ecosystem (that tracks legal activities and may also assist in tracking illegal activities) and promote a formal tax base.

 

Concerns associated with this move:

However, the government is wary that regulation will provide legitimacy to “what is currently ambiguous,” and may lead to further rise in its valuation and end up contributing “to the investment bubble”.

 

Sources: the hindu.


Facts for Prelims:

 

Theatre Olympics:

  • India will host 8th Edition of Theatre Olympics ‘The Biggest Theatre Celebration of the World’ from February 17 – April 08, 2018.
  • The Theatre Olympics, being held in India for the first time, is being organised by National School of Drama, under the aegis of Ministry of Culture.
  • The Theatre Olympics was established in 1993 in Delphi, Greece, as the first international theatre festival. With the tagline ‘Crossing Millennia’, this is an initiative to connect the cultural past with the present and future, bringing the richness and diversity of theatre heritage to the experiments and research of contemporary theatre. The first country to host the Theatre Olympics was Greece in 1995