Insights Daily Current Affairs, 28 Aug 2017

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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 28 Aug 2017


 

Paper 1:

 

Topic: Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India.

 

Nuakhai Juhar

 

Nuakhai Juhar was celebrated across Odisha on August 26.

nuakhai festival

About Nuakhai Juhar:

Nuakhai is the chief festival of Western Odisha. It is the harvest festival of Odisha wherein farmers are in possession of new rice of the season. They offer the first produce of their respective lands to Goddess Samaleswari and then consume it personally. It is one of the major festivals celebrated widely in the state.

 

Sources: pib.


 

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

 

Rural Games to take Place in Delhi

 

The first edition of Rural Games or Grameen Khel Mahotsav will kick-start from Delhi and will take place between 28th August to 3rd September, 2017.

 

About Grameen Khel Mahotsav:

The Rural Games will aim at popularising the indigenous games like wrestling, athletics etc. and will also have fun games like Matka Race, Tug of War for senior citizens to add the fun element in the games.

  • This festival will help participation of rural youth in large numbers in popular sports and encourage them to achieve excellence and adopt healthy life style.
  • These games are intended to act as a catalyst to promote sports in rural areas across the country. The main objective is to deepen the sports culture among the rural youth.

 

Sources: pib.

 


 

Paper 2:

 

Topic: Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

 

Niti Aayog favours simultaneous LS, assembly polls from 2024

 

The Niti Aayog has favoured conducting synchronised two-phase Lok Sabha and assembly elections from 2024 in “national interest”. All elections in India should happen in a free, fair and synchronised manner to ensure minimum “campaign mode” disruption to governance, the government think tank said in its report released recently.

 

NITI Aayog has proposed the following in this regard:

  • To implement this in the national interest, a focused group of stakeholders comprising constitutional and subject matter experts, think tanks, government officials and representatives of various political parties should be formed to work out appropriate implementation related details.
  • This may include drafting appropriate Constitution and statutory amendments, agreeing on a workable framework to facilitate transition to simultaneous elections, developing a stakeholder communication plan and various operational details.
  • It has made the Election Commission the nodal agency to look into the suggestion and set a “timeline” of March 2018 for this purpose.

 

Simultaneous elections is a good idea?

  • This will help save public money.
  • It will be a big relief for political parties that are always in campaign mode.
  • It will allow political parties to focus more on policy and governance.

 

Need for simultaneous elections:

  • Unnecessary expenditures: Elections are held all the time and continuous polls lead to a lot of expenditure. More than Rs1,100 crore was spent on the 2009 Lok Sabha polls and the expenditure had shot up to Rs4,000 crore in 2014.
  • Use of manpower: Also, over a crore government employees, including a large number of teachers, are involved in the electoral process. Thus, the continuous exercise causes maximum harm to the education sector.
  • Security concerns: Security forces also have to be diverted for the electoral work even as the country’s enemy keeps plotting against the nation and terrorism remains a strong threat.

 

Significance of this proposal:

The recommendation of the Aayog assumes significance as former president Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have pitched for simultaneous Lok Sabha and assembly polls. Mukherjee in his speech on the eve of this year’s Republic Day had favoured holding Lok Sabha and assembly elections together.

 

Way ahead:

The time is ripe for a constructive debate on electoral reforms and a return to the practice of the early decades after Independence when elections to the Lok Sabha and state assemblies were held simultaneously. It is for the Election Commission to take this exercise forward in consultation with political parties.

 

Sources: et.


 

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

Conflict of interest in appointment of GEAC members: Par panel

 

The department-related parliamentary standing committee on science and technology and environment and forest recently submitted its recommendations in its 301st report on ‘GM crop and its impact on environment’.

 

Observations made by the panel on GEAC:

  • The committee said, there is a conflict of interest in the appointment of some members of the country’s biotech regulator- GEAC- with two of the top three positions being held by bureaucrats of the environment ministry.
  • The committee expressed its concerns about the “ad hocism” in the constitution of the committee and also about the criteria adopted by the environment ministry for selection of the members of GEAC, their credentials, etc.
  • The panel said that “it would be in fitness of things if GEAC is headed by an expert from the field of biotechnology given the understanding of scientific data and analysis of research and its implication before coming to a conclusion in the matter.”

 

Background:

Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) was first constituted on May 28, 1990 and it was last re- constituted on March 11, 2013 for a period of three years. Subsequently, with the approval of the competent authority, the tenure of the committee has been extended till re-constitution of the new committee.

  • The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) is the apex body constituted in the Ministry of Environment and Forests under ‘Rules for Manufacture, Use, Import, Export and Storage of Hazardous Microorganisms/Genetically Engineered Organisms or Cells 1989’, under the Environment Protection Act, 1986.
  • The GEAC is also responsible for approval of proposals relating to release of genetically engineered organisms and products into the environment including experimen­tal field trials (Biosafety Research Level trial-I and II known as BRL-I and BRL-II).

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

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

 

Serious Fraud Investigation Office has powers to arrest

 

The provision under the Companies Act, 2013 which provides powers of arrest to the SFIO has been notified. The Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) now has powers to arrest people for violations of companies law.

 

Key facts:

  • The director as well as additional or assistant director level officials at the SFIO can arrest a person if they believe he or she is guilty of any offence with regard to the case being probed. The reason for arrest should be recorded in writing.
  • In case of an arrest being made by additional director or assistant director, the prior written approval of the director SFIO shall be obtained.
  • The SFIO director would be the competent authority for all decisions pertaining to arrest.
  • The arrest of a person in connection with a government or a foreign company under investigation can be made by the SFIO only “with prior written approval of the central government”. Besides, such arrest should be intimated to the managing director or the person in-charge of the affairs of the government company.
  • In case the person arrested is the managing director or person in-charge of a government company, then the secretary of the administrative ministry concerned should be intimated by the arresting officer.

Image result for About SFIO

About SFIO:

The Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) is a fraud investigating agency. It is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India. The SFIO is involved in major fraud probes and is the co-ordinating agency with the Income Tax and CBI.

  • It is a multi-disciplinary organization having experts from financial sector, capital market, accountancy, forensic audit, taxation, law, information technology, company law, customs and investigation.
  • These experts have been taken from various organizations like banks, Securities and Exchange Board of India, Comptroller and Auditor General and concerned organizations and departments of the Government.
  • The Government approved setting up of this organization on 9 January 2003 on the basis of the recommendations made by the Naresh Chandra Committee which was set up by the Government on 21 August 2002 on corporate governance.

 

Sources: et.


 

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.

Uttar Pradesh joins PM Narendra Modi’s Government e-Market portal

 

Uttar Pradesh has joined central Government’s e-Market portal. It will now be making all its procurements of goods and services through the central portal.

Image result for Government e-Market portal

About GeM:

It aims to ensure that public procurement of goods and services in India worth more than Rs. 5 lakh crore annually is carried out through the online platform for transparency and to eliminate corruption.

  • It aims to transform the way in which procurement of goods and services is done by the Government Ministries/Departments, PSUs, autonomous bodies etc.
  • DGS&D with technical support of NeGD (MeitY) has developed GeM portal for procurement of both Products & Services.
  • GeM is a completely paperless, cashless and system driven e-market place that enables procurement of common use goods and services with minimal human interface.

 

Sources: et.


 

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.

 

Spice Digital gets RBI licence to operate under BBPS

 

Spice Digital Limited (SDL) has received the final licence from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), allowing the company to process bill payments as a Bharat Bill Payment Operating Unit (BBPOU) in the Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS).

Image result for About BBPS:

About BBPS:

The Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS) is an RBI conceptualised system driven by National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI). It is a one-stop payment platform for all bills, providing an interoperable and accessible “Anytime Anywhere” bill payment service to customers across the country with certainty, reliability and safety of transactions.

Payments through BBPS may be made using cash, transfer cheques and electronic modes. Bill aggregators and banks, who will function as operating units, will carry out these transactions for the customers.

 

NPCI:

National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) is an umbrella organization for all retail payments system in India. It was set up with the guidance and support of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and Indian Banks’ Association (IBA). NPCI has ten promoter banks.

 

Sources: the hindu.

 


 

Paper 3:

 

Topic: Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.

 

Govt notifies changes in Banking Regulation Act

 

The government has notified the Banking Regulation (Amendment) Act under which it can authorise the RBI to issue directions to banks to initiate insolvency resolution process to recover bad loans.

 

Background:

The banking sector is saddled with non-performing assets (NPAs) of over Rs. 8 lakh crore, of which Rs. 6 lakh crore is with public sector banks (PSBs). To deal with this, Parliament had approved the Act, which replaced an ordinance in this regard.

The government in May had promulgated an ordinance authorising the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to issue directions to banks to initiate insolvency resolution process under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016. Following the ordinance, the RBI had identified 12 accounts each having more than Rs. 5,000 crore of outstanding loans and accounting for 25% of total NPAs of banks for immediate referral for resolution under the bankruptcy law.

 

Highlights of the Banking Regulation (Amendment) Bill:

  • The Banking Regulation (Amendment) Bill 2017 will amend The Banking Regulation Act 1949, giving the government power to authorise the Reserve Bank of India to issue directions to banks in order to initiate insolvency resolution in case of a default.
  • Under the provisions of the Bill, the government can also authorise the RBI to issue directions to banks with regard to resolution of stressed assets and allow it to name one or more committees to provide them with advice in order to do so.
  • The Bill will also give RBI the authority to refer NPA cases to the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board.
  • The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code provides for a time-bound resolution of defaults and stressed assets, either by restructuring a loan or liquidating the borrower’s assets.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

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.

 

Niti Aayog pitches to remove agriculture from Essential Commodities Act

 

Premier think-tank NITI Aayog has pitched for completely removing agriculture commodities from the Essential Commodities Act, and a shift towards organised trading wherein lower number of traders with enough capital will dominate the market.

 

Benefits of this move:

  • This will reduce handling costs, bring economies of scale, reduce prices and increase returns for farmers.
  • This will also lead to organised trading, improve scale and logistics benefit and bring about more capital into trade with handful of big traders competing with each other.

 

Background:

With frequent changes in rules and stock limits, traders have no reason to invest in better storage infrastructure. Also, stock limits curtail the functioning of food processing industries which need to maintain large stocks of underlying commodity to run their operations smoothly. In such a situation, large scale private investments are unlikely to flow into food processing and cold storage facilities which are essential for ensuring framers get better remuneration for their crops.

 

Way ahead:

The idea has been discussed at the highest level of the government and the Centre is likely to reach out to states for such an enabling provision after full consultation with the ministry of consumer affairs.

 

Sources: et.


 

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

 

NITI Aayog suggests waste to energy plants to clean up solid

 

The NITI Aayog has suggested setting up an authority which will take up installation of waste to energy plants in public-private partnership (PPP) mode to clean up municipal solid waste, which, it said, has become a “serious threat” to public health.

  • The Aayog made the recommendations in its Three Year Action Agenda, 2017-18 to 2019-20, released recently.

 

Need for waste management:

Rapidly rising prosperity has resulted in generation of vast volumes of solid waste in the cities. But, Cities have been “slow to develop effective ways” to dispose municipal waste. The mountains of waste, which can now be seen in nearly all cities, have become a serious public health threat.

 

Proposed authority:

  • Such an authority can be called Waste to Energy Corporation of India (WECI) and placed under the housing and urban affairs ministry.
  • The WECI may set up world class waste to energy plants through PPP mode across the country.
  • The authority can play a “key role in fast-tracking coverage” of waste to energy plants across 100 smart cities by 2019.

 

Way ahead:

As per the 2011 census, 377 million people living in 7,935 urban centres generate 1,70,000 tonnes of municipal solid waste daily. Urban local bodies spend about Rs 500 to Rs 1,500 per tonne on solid waste management. Out of this, about 60-70% is spent on the collection of waste and 20-30% on transportation but almost nothing on its treatment and disposal. The NITI Aayog said Waste to Energy is the best option to tackle the problem.

 

Sources: et.


 

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

 

Why does the 2022 target for rooftop solar seem ambitious?

 

The government has set itself a target of 100 GW of solar power by 2022, of which 60 GW is to come from utilities and 40 GW from rooftop solar installations. While the 60 GW target seems achievable, the country is lagging behind on the target set for rooftop solar.

th28BUROOFTOP SOLAR

What is rooftop solar?

Rooftop solar installations — as opposed to large-scale solar power generation plants — can be installed on the roofs of buildings. As such, they fall under two brackets: commercial and residential. This simply has to do with whether the solar panels are being installed on top of commercial buildings or residential complexes.

 

What are the benefits?

Rooftop solar provides companies and residential areas the option of an alternative source of electricity to that provided by the grid. While the main benefit of this is to the environment, since it reduces the dependence on fossil-fuel generated electricity, solar power can also augment the grid supply in places where it is erratic.

Rooftop solar also has the great benefit of being able to provide electricity to those areas that are not yet connected to the grid — remote locations and areas where the terrain makes it difficult to set up power stations and lay power lines.

 

What is the potential for rooftop solar in India?

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has pegged the market potential for rooftop solar at 124 GW. However, only 1,247 MW of capacity had been installed as of December 31, 2016. That is a little more than 3% of the target for 2022, and 1% of the potential.

 

Why is it not being adopted widely?

  • One of the major problems with rooftop solar — and what affects solar energy generation in general — is the variability in supply. Not only can the efficiency of the solar panels vary on any given day depending on how bright the sunlight is, but the solar panels also produce no electricity during the night. Arguably, night is when off-grid locations most need alternative sources of electricity.
  • Storage is one solution. Storage technology for electricity, however, is still underdeveloped and storage solutions are expensive. So, while some companies will be able to afford storage solutions for the solar energy they produce, most residential customers will find the cost of installing both rooftop solar panels and storage facilities prohibitive. Residential areas also come with the associated issues of use restrictions of the roof — if the roof is being used for solar generation, then it cannot be used for anything else.
  • Another major reason why rooftop solar is not becoming popular is that the current electricity tariff structure renders it an unviable option. Many states have adopted a net metering policy, which allows disaggregated power producers to sell excess electricity to the grid. However, the subsidised tariffs charged to residential customers undermine the economic viability of installing rooftop solar panels. The potential profit simply does not outweigh the costs.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

Topic: Disaster and disaster management.

 

Ocean forecasting system unveiled

 

The Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) of the Ministry of Earth Sciences inaugurated the Ocean Forecasting System for Comoros, Madagascar, and Mozambique at the third Ministerial Meeting of Regional Integrated Multi-Hazard Early Warning System for Asia and Africa (RIMES), held recently at Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.

 

Key facts:

  • The ocean forecast and early warming information on high wave, currents, winds, tides, sub-surface ocean conditions cater to users like fishermen, coastal population, tourism sector, coastal defence officials, marine police, port authorities, research institutions and offshore industries of these countries. These ocean services are aimed towards safety at the sea.
  • The system would offer oil spill advisory services, high wave alerts, port warnings, forecast along the ship routes in addition to tsunami and storm surge warnings and help in search and rescue operations.
  • The INCOIS has already been providing these operational services to the Maldives, Sri Lanka and Seychelles.

 

Benefits for India:

  • The Ocean Forecast System developed for the Indian Ocean countries and the real-time data from their territories also help to improve the ocean forecast and early warning system for the Indian coast too.
  • Wave surge and coastal flooding that occurred from July 28 to August 3 in 2016 along Kerala and West Bengal were well predicted and real-time data from Seychelles were highly beneficial for predicting these incidents, as many of these remotely forced waves originated from the southern and western Indian Ocean.

 

Background:

The ocean forecast and early warning services were most essential for safe navigation and operations at sea and the blue economic growth of many of these Indian Ocean rim countries and island nations.

 

About RIMES:

The Regional Integrated Multi-Hazard Early Warning System for Africa and Asia (RIMES) is an international and intergovernmental institution, owned and managed by its Member States, for the generation and application of early warning information. RIMES provides regional early warning services and builds capacity of its Member States in the end-to-end early warning of tsunami and hydro-meteorological hazards.

 

Sources: the hindu.