Insights Daily Current Affairs, 17 Aug 2017

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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 17 Aug 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.

 

Melbourne named ‘World’s Most Liveable City’

melbourne

Melbourne has been named ‘The World’s Most Liveable City’ for the seventh consecutive year by the annual Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) Global Liveability Index.

 

Background:

The EIU’s Liveability Ranking assesses living conditions in 140 cities across the globe by assigning a rating across five broad categories.

  • The rating quantifies the challenges that might be presented to an individual’s lifestyle in any given location, and allows for direct comparison between locations.
  • Every city is assigned a rating of relative comfort for over 30 qualitative and quantitative factors across five broad categories – stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education and infrastructure.

 

Top five most liveable cities:

  • Melbourne
  • Vienna
  • Vancouver
  • Toronto
  • Adelaide, Calgary.

 

 

Key facts:

  • No Indian city was ranked in the top ten or bottom ten in the most liveable city ranking.
  • As per the survey, the least liveable city was Damascus at 140th place.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

Topic: Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc., geographical features and their location- changes in critical geographical features (including water-bodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.

 

Scientists discover new tectonic plate

 

Researchers have discovered a new tectonic plate off the coast of Ecuador. There were 56 plates; now, there are 57 — and researchers think there could be one more to find.

malpelo

About the new plate- Malpelo:

Scientists discovered the microplate — which they’ve dubbed “Malpelo” — while analyzing the movements of what they believed to be the convergence of a trio of plates. Researchers were studying the coming together of a major tectonic plate and two smaller plates. The edges of the Pacific lithospheric plate roughly form the Ring of Fire, a region of volcanic activity. Filling in the gaps between larger plates are smaller plates. Just west of the Galapagos Islands, the Pacific plate is met by Cocos and Nazca.

Evidence for the Malpelo plate came with the researchers’ identification of a diffuse plate boundary that runs from the Panama Transform Fault eastward to where the diffuse plate boundary intersects a deep oceanic trench just offshore of Ecuador and Colombia. A diffuse boundary is best described as a series of many small, hard-to-spot faults rather than a ridge or transform fault that sharply defines the boundary of two plates.

 

Sources: science daily.

 


 

Paper 2:

 

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

 

New Metro Rail Policy

 

The Union Cabinet has approved a new Metro Rail Policy that seeks to enable realization of growing metro rail aspirations of a large number of cities but in a responsible manner.

Cabinet-approves-new-metro-rail-policy

Highlights of the new policy:

Boost to private investments: The policy opens a big window for private investments across a range of metro operations making PPP component mandatory for availing central assistance for new metro projects. This has been done to meet the huge resource demand for capital intensive high capacity metro projects.

Last mile connectivity: In view of inadequate availability and even absence of last mile connectivity at present, the new policy seeks to ensure it focusing on a catchment area of five kms. on either side of metro stations requiring States to commit in project reports to provide necessary last mile connectivity through feeder services, Non-Motorised Transport infrastructure like walking and cycling pathways and introduction of para-transport facilities. States, proposing new metro projects will be required to indicate in project report the proposals and investments that would be made for such services.

Alternatives: Seeking to ensure that least cost mass transit mode is selected for public transport, the new policy mandates Alternate Analysis, requiring evaluation of other modes of mass transit like BRTS (Bus Rapid Transit System), Light Rail Transit, Tramways, Metro Rail and Regional Rail in terms of demand, capacity, cost and ease of implementation.

UMTA: Setting up of Urban Metropolitan Transport Authority (UMTA) has been made mandatory which is to prepare Comprehensive Mobility Plans for cities for ensuring complete multi-modal integration for optimal utilization of capacities.

Third party assessment: The Policy provides for rigorous assessment of new metro proposals and proposes an independent third party assessment by agencies to be identified by the Government like the Institute of Urban Transport and other such Centres of Excellence whose capacities would be augmented, as required in this regard.

TOD: Noting that urban mass transit projects should not merely be seen as urban transport projects but more as urban transformation projects, the new policy mandates Transit Oriented Development (TOD) to promote compact and dense urban development along metro corridors since TOD reduces travel distances besides enabling efficient land use in urban areas.

States’ role: Under the policy, States need to adopt innovative mechanisms like Value Capture Financing tools to mobilize resources for financing metro projects by capturing a share of increase in the asset values through ‘Betterment Levy’. States would also be required to enable low cost debt capital through issuance of corporate bonds for metro projects. The new policy empowers States to make rules and regulations and set up permanent Fare Fixation Authority for timely revision of fares.

Financial viability: Seeking to ensure financial viability of metro projects, the new Metro Rail Policy requires the States to clearly indicate in the project report the measures to be taken for commercial/property development at stations and on other urban land and for other means of maximum non-fare revenue generation through advertisements, lease of space etc., backed by statutory support. States are also required to commit to accord all required permissions and approvals.

 

The policy envisages private sector participation in O & M of metro services in different ways. These include:

  1. Cost plus fee contract: Private operator is paid a monthly/annual payment for O&M of system. This can have a fixed and variable component depending on the quality of service. Operational and revenue risk is borne by the owner.
  2. Gross Cost Contract: Private operator is paid a fixed sum for the duration of the contract. Operator to bear the O&M risk while the owner bears the revenue risk.
  3. Net Cost Contract: Operator collects the complete revenue generated for the services provided. If revenue generation is below the O&M cost, the owner may agree to compensate.

 

Sources: pib.


 

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

 

Corpus fund for Secondary and Higher education

 

The Union Cabinet has accorded its approval for creation of a non-lapsable pool in the Public Account for secondary and higher, education known as “Madhyamik and Uchchtar Shiksha Kosh” (MUSK) into which all proceeds of “Secondary and Higher Education Cess” will be credited.

 

Key facts:

  • Administration and maintenance of the above pool will be done by Ministry of Human Resource Development.
  • The MUSK would be maintained as a Reserve Fund in the non-interest bearing section of the Public Accounts of India.
  • The funds arising from the MUSK would be utilized for schemes in the education sector which would be available for the benefit of students of secondary and higher education, all over the country.

 

Background:

The purpose of levying cess for secondary and higher education is to provide adequate resources for secondary and higher education. During the 10th Plan, an education cess of 2% on all central taxes was imposed to make available additional resources for basic    education/elementary education to augment the existing budgetary resources. A need was felt to give a similar fillip to the effort of the Central Government in universalizing access to secondary education and expanding the reach of the higher education sector.  Therefore, the Finance Minister, in his budget speech of 2007 proposed an additional cess of 1% on central taxes for secondary and higher education.

A cess imposed by the central government is a tax on tax, levied by the government for a specific purpose.

 

Sources: pib.


 

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

Cabinet approves MoU between India and Sweden on IPRs

 

The Union Cabinet has given its approval to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Sweden on cooperation in the field of Intellectual Property (IPRs).

  • The MoU establishes a wide ranging and flexible mechanism through which both countries can exchange best practices and work together on training programs and technical exchanges to raise awareness on IPRs and better protect intellectual property rights.

mou

Significance of this MoU:

  • The MoU will enable India to exchange experiences in the innovation and IP ecosystems that will substantially benefit entrepreneurs, investors and businesses on both sides.
  • The exchange of best practices between the two countries will lead to improved protection and awareness about India’s range of Intellectual creations which are as diverse as its-people.
  • It will be a landmark step forward in India’s journey towards becoming a major player in global Innovation and will further the objectives of National IPR Policy, 2016.

 

As per the MoU, a Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) with members from both sides will be formed to decide cooperation activities to be taken in following areas:

  • Exchange of best practices, experiences and knowledge on IP awareness among the public, businesses and educational institutions of both countries.
  • Collaboration in training programmes, exchange of experts, technical exchanges and outreach activities.
  • Exchange and dissemination of best practices, experiences and knowledge on IP with the industry, universities, R & D organisations and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) through participation in programs and events in the matter, organized singly or jointly by the Parties.
  • Exchange of information and best practices for disposal of applications for patents, trademarks, industrial designs, copyrights and Geographical Indications, as also the protection, enforcement and use of IP rights.
  • Cooperation in the development of automation and implementation of modernization projects, new documentation and information systems in IP and procedures for management of IP.
  • Cooperation to understand how Traditional Knowledge is protected; and the exchange of best practices, including traditional knowledge related databases and awareness raising of existing IP systems.
  • Exchange of information and best practices regarding Intellectual Property law infringements in the digital environment, especially regarding Copyright issues.
  • Other cooperation activities as may he decided by the Parties with mutual understanding.

 

Sources: pib.


 

Paper 3:

 

Topic: Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country, different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers.

 

Long Term Irrigation Fund

 

Cabinet has approved raising Extra Budgetary Resources upto Rs. 9020 crore for Long Term Irrigation Fund during the year 2017-18.

 

About LTIF:

To cater to the large fund requirement and ensure completion of the projects, the Union Finance Minister, during his Budget speech 2016-17, announced creation of dedicated Long Term Irrigation Fund (LTIF) in NABARD with an initial corpus of Rs. 20,000 crore for funding of Central and State share for the identified ongoing projects under PMKSY (AIBP and CAD).

  • Corpus would be raised by way of budgetary resources and market borrowings to fund fast tracking of implementation of incomplete major & medium irrigation projects.

 

About PMKSY:

PMKSY has been conceived amalgamating ongoing schemes viz. Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP) of the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation (MoWR,RD&GR), Integrated Watershed Management Programme (IWMP) of Department of Land Resources (DoLR) and the On Farm Water Management (OFWM) of Department of Agriculture and Cooperation (DAC).

  • The scheme will be implemented by Ministries of Agriculture, Water Resources and Rural Development.
  • The major objective of PMKSY is to achieve convergence of investments in irrigation at the field level, expand cultivable area under assured irrigation, improve on-farm water use efficiency to reduce wastage of water and enhance the adoption of precision-irrigation and other water saving technologies (More crop per drop).

 

Sources: pib.


 

Topic: Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country, different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers.

 

North Koel Reservoir Project

 

The Union Cabinet has given its approval to the proposal to complete the balance works of the North Koel Reservoir Project in Jharkhand and Bihar at an estimated expenditure of Rs.1622.27 crore to be incurred during three financial years from the start of the project.

  • The Cabinet also approved storage of water in dam restricted at lower level than envisaged earlier to reduce the submergence and to protect Betla National Park and Palamau Tiger Reserve.

 

About the North Koel Reservoir Project:

The project is situated on North Koel river which is a tributary of Sone river finally joining the river Ganga. The North Koel Reservoir is located in the most backward tribal areas in Palamau and Garhwa districts of Jharkhand State.

  • The construction was originally started in the year 1972 and continued till 1993 when it was stopped by the Forest Department, Govt. of Bihar. Since then, the work on dam is at a standstill.
  • The project aims to provide irrigation to 111,521 hectares of land annually in the most backward and drought prone areas of Palamu & Garhwa districts in Jharkhand and Aurangabad & Gaya districts in Bihar.

 

Key facts for Prelims:

North Koel river rises on Ranchi plateau and flows through Jharkhand. It joins the Sone a few miles north-west of Haidarnagar.

  • The North Koel, along with its tributaries, meanders through the northern part of Betla National Park.
  • The principal tributaries are the Auranga and the Amanat.

 

Sources: pib.


 

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

 

India signs Global Environment Facility (GEF) Grant Agreement

 

A Grant Agreement from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) of the World Bank of USD 24.64 million for “Ecosystem Service Improvement Project” was recently signed between India and the World Bank. The size of Project is USD 24.64 million which entirely will be financed by the World Bank out of its GEF Trust Fund.

 

About Ecosystem Service Improvement Project:

Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) will implement the Project in the States of Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh through Indian Council of Forestry Research & Education under the National Mission for Green India.

  • The objective of the Project is to strengthen the institutional capacity of the Departments of Forestry and Community Organisations to enhance forest ecosystem services and improve the livelihoods of forest dependent communities in Central Indian Highlands.

 

Mitigation measures under the project include:

  • Using only approved and safe bio-control agents and following release and documentation protocols.
  • Avoiding using general bio-control agents; use host-specific ones for targeted species.
  • Promoting use of bio-fertilizers and bio-pesticides.
  • Ensuring that legitimate users are not denied access to resources as a result of declaration.
  • Establishing village level participatory monitoring protocols and social audit arrangements for the project.
  • Creating village level household beneficiary lists and identifying the most poor, farthest, marginal, and backward beneficiaries.
  • Ensuring convergence for alternative employment or income for landless livestock owners during common property resources (CPR) restoration.

 

Sources: pib.


 

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

 

MOUs signed for distribution of Energy Efficient appliances

 

Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), under the Ministry of Power, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) under the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas (MoPNG) for distribution of energy efficient appliances under the flagship Unnat Jeevan by Affordable LEDs and appliances for All (UJALA) scheme.

  • According to the agreement, Oil Marketing Companies- IOCL, BPCL and HPCL will take up distribution of LED Bulbs, LED Tubelights and energy efficient Fans from select retail outlets across the country.

 

About UJALA scheme:

The main objective of the scheme is to promote efficient lighting, enhance awareness on using efficient equipment which reduce electricity bills and help preserve environment.

  • The scheme is being implemented by Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), a joint venture of PSUs under the Union Ministry of Power.
  • The scheme will not only help reduce consumers their electricity bills but also contribute to the energy security of India.
  • The scheme is being monitored in a transparent manner through a national dashboard (delp.in).
  • The distribution of LED bulbs will happen through DISCOM offices, DISCOM bill collection centres, designated EESL kiosks, Weekly haat markets, etc.

 

Sources: pib.