Insights Daily Current Affairs, 25 September 2017

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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 25 September 2017


 

Paper 2:

 

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

 

Bharat ke Kaushalzaade

 

Rural Skills Division, Ministry of Rural Development has organized ‘Bharat ke Kaushalzaade’, an event honouring beneficiaries of its key skilling programmes, on the eve of Antyodaya Diwas 2017.

The event aims to celebrate and honour beneficiaries from both of MoRD’s flagship skill development programmes i.e. Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana (DDU-GKY) and Rural Self Employment Training Institutes (RSETI).

 

‘Kaushal Panjee’:

The event also witnessed the mobilization platform launch, branded ‘Kaushal Panjee’ (Skill Register).

  • It aims to be citizen centric end-to-end solution to aid mobilization of candidates for RSETIs and DDU-GKY.
  • It facilitates mobilization of candidates through Self Help Group members, Gram Panchayat Functionaries, Block Officials, CSCs and directly by the candidate.
  • RSETIs and DDU-GKY Partners can access the Kaushal Panjee to connect with the mobilized rural youth.
  • Kaushal Panjee is connected to the Social Economic Caste Census (SECC 2011) which will help the States plan and target their mobilizations based on the socio-economic profile of households in their State.

 

About DDU GKY:

The Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) announced the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana (DDU-GKY) Antyodaya Diwas, on 25th September 2014. DDU-GKY is a part of the National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM), tasked with the dual objectives of adding diversity to the incomes of rural poor families and cater to the career aspirations of rural youth.

DDU-GKY is uniquely focused on rural youth between the ages of 15 and 35 years from poor families. As a part of the Skill India campaign, it plays an instrumental role in supporting the social and economic programs of the government like the Make In India, Digital India, Smart Cities and Start-Up India, Stand-Up India campaigns.

 

Sources: pib.


 

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

 

Govt launches ‘Pradhan Mantri LPG Panchayat’ to boost PMUY

LPG yojana

The Central government has launched a country-wide LPG Panchayat as a backup to the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana to distribute LPG connections among the rural areas where conventional fuel is used for domestic purposes.

 

About LPG Panchayat:

The LPG Panchayat is an interactive communication platform aimed at educating rural LPG users about proper safety precautions to be taken while using LPG, its benefit to the environment, its effect on women empowerment and health.

  • With this, the government aims to reach the doorsteps of poor and under-privileged women to educate them about the safety and efficiency, health benefits, positive impact on environment, economic development and empowerment on usage of LPG connections.
  • One lakh LPG Panchayats would be activated across the country under the scheme during the next one and a half years. The idea of this platform is to trigger a discussion through sharing of personal experiences on the benefits of use of clean fuel compared to traditional fuels like cowdung.
  • The agenda would also include safe practices, quality of service provided by distributors and availability of refill cylinders.

 

About the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana:

Under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, Rs.8,000 crore has been earmarked for providing 50 million LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) connections to poor households.

  • Under the scheme, an adult woman member of a below poverty line family identified through the Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) is given a deposit-free LPG connection with financial assistance of Rs 1,600 per connection by the Centre.
  • Eligible households will be identified in consultation with state governments and Union territories.
  • The scheme will be implemented over the next three years.
  • The scheme is being implemented by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

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

 

Karnataka govt invokes ESMA against garbage contractors

govt launches esma on garbage contractors.

The Karnataka government has invoked the Essential Services Maintenance Act against garbage contractors and sanitation workers employed under them following complaints that they were not discharging their duties. The law has been invoked for a year to ensure that waste is removed from the city.

 

Background:

The garbage problem has turned worse in Bengaluru recently as the contractors have allegedly stopped removing the waste, causing a huge pileup that has left many important places stinking and brought the city civic body Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike in the line of fire.

 

About ESMA:

The Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) is an act of Parliament of India. It is a central law.

  • It was established to ensure the delivery of certain services, which if obstructed would affect the normal life of the people. These include services like public transport (bus services), health services (doctors and hospitals).
  • Although it is a very powerful law, its execution rests entirely on the discretion of the State government. Each state in the union of India, hence has a separate state Essential Services Maintenance Act with slight variations from the central law in its provisions. This freedom is accorded by the central law itself.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

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

 

The lowdown on the petrol pricing policy

lowdown on petrol pricing

Amid protests against the recent spike in petrol and diesel prices, the government has ruled out the possibility of an end to the recently introduced policy of revising fuel prices daily.

 

Background:

Since June 16 this year, petrol and diesel prices across the country have been revised on a daily basis, against the previous policy of revising prices every fortnight. By opting for daily pricing, India has joined advanced countries like the United States and others which follow the practice.

 

How did it come about?

The daily pricing policy is in line with the government’s efforts over the years to deregulate the pricing of essential fuels. The prices of petrol and diesel were first deregulated in 2010 and 2014 respectively, bringing in the practice of fortnightly revision of prices.

 

What’s good about the new policy?

The new daily pricing policy, the government argues, will now allow oil marketing companies to price their products even better, that is, in accordance with their fluctuating input costs. The oil companies need not wait a fortnight to change prices, and it is believed that this would allow them to quickly pass on the benefit of lower crude oil prices to retail customers. Also, daily price revisions will reduce the risk of huge revisions in prices, which is more common under the fortnightly pricing policy.

 

Why is it being opposed?

The daily pricing policy has been blamed in recent weeks for the sharp increase in petrol and diesel prices. Fuel prices fell in the initial days after the implementation of the new policy, but have seen a sharp acceleration ever since. The price of petrol in metro cities like Delhi and Kolkata, for instance, has risen by more than ₹5 since the introduction of daily pricing. The government has blamed supply constraints due to floods in the United States for the present rise in prices. A wider criticism, however, is that domestic fuel prices have also failed to match the drastic fall in international crude oil prices over the last few years. The surprising divergence in the cost of crude oil and domestic fuel prices has caused a lot of anger.

 

What can be done now?

Taxes are the main culprit stopping petrol and diesel prices from reflecting the fall in international crude oil prices. About half the retail price paid by consumers for petrol and diesel goes towards paying the excise duty and the value added tax imposed on them. These taxes increase the price at which oil companies can profitably sell essential fuels to consumers, thus restricting supply and keeping prices high.

  • One option is to reduce VAT on petroleum products. But, for this, states have to forgo their share of the Centre’s revenue from fuel taxes. 42% of the Central tax receipts from petrol go to the States.
  • Another option is to bring petrol and diesel under the GST to lower the tax burden. This will help bring down their prices, but only when it is combined with better competition in the oil sector. Otherwise, lower taxes will merely improve the profits of oil companies without any of the benefits, whether it is lower crude oil prices or any other fall in input costs, being passed on to consumers.

 

Way ahead:

What is being missed is the fact that fuel prices are determined by market forces, not costs. So lower crude oil prices need not necessarily lead to lower fuel prices. Costs only determine the profits of oil companies, whose operating margins have naturally improved since deregulation.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 3:

 

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

 

Graded Surveillance Measure

 

More than 900 companies are being monitored under the Graded Surveillance Measure, designed by market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).

 

What is the Graded Surveillance Measure?

SEBI introduced the measure to keep a tab on securities that witness an abnormal price rise that is not commensurate with financial health and fundamentals of the company such as earnings, book value, price to earnings ratio among others.

 

Why did SEBI bring in the measure?

The underlying principle behind the graded surveillance framework is to alert and protect investors trading in a security, which is seeing abnormal price movements. SEBI may put shares of companies under the measure for suspected price rigging or under the ambit of ‘shell companies’. The measure would provide a heads up to market participants that they need to be extra cautious and diligent while dealing in such securities put under surveillance.

 

How the Graded Surveillance Measure works?

Once a firm is identified for surveillance it goes through six stages with corresponding surveillance actions and the restrictions on trading in those securities gets higher progressively.

In the first stage the securities are put in the trade-to-trade segment (meaning no speculative trading is allowed and delivery of shares and payment of consideration amount are mandatory). A maximum of 5% movement in share price is allowed.

In the second stage, in addition to the trade-to-trade segment, the buyer of the security has to put 100% of trade value as additional surveillance deposit. The deposit would be retained by the exchanges for a period of five months and refunded in a phased manner.

In the third stage, trading is permitted only once a week ie every Monday, apart from the buyer putting 100% of the trade value as additional surveillance deposit.

In the fourth stage, trading would be allowed once a week and the surveillance deposit increases to 200% of the trade value.

In the fifth stage, trading would be permitted only once a month (first Monday of the month) with additional deposit of 200%.

In the sixth and final stage, there are maximum restrictions. Trading is permitted only once a month at this stage, with no upward movement allowed in price. Also, the additional surveillance deposit would be 200%.

 

Will securities remain permanently in the Graded Surveillance list?

There would a quarterly review of securities. Based on criteria, the securities would be moved from a higher stage to a lower stage in a sequential manner.

 

How would these measures affect small investors?

The challenge for the small investors is that these announcements are often made at very short notice and implemented from the next day itself thus giving those who have already entered the stock less than adequate time to exit it. There is also potentially another risk. For example, even if time is given, the stock might crash next day on the news, triggering the lower price circuit and leaving no exit opportunity.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

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

 

Japan to fund mass rapid transit systems in Gujarat, Haryana

Japan to fund mass rapid transit system

Funds from a Japanese government loan will soon be utilised for the first time in the $100 billion, Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) project. So far, the mega-project was being developed only with the Indian government’s financial assistance.

  • A soft loan (with concessional conditions) to the tune of $4.5 billion to be extended by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), will shortly be utilised to develop two Mass Rapid Transit Systems (MRTS) — one each in Gujarat and Haryana — that will be part of the DMIC.

 

About DMIC:

Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor is a mega infra-structure project of USD 90 billion with the financial & technical aids from Japan, covering an overall length of 1483 KMs between the political capital and the business capital of India, i.e. Delhi and Mumbai. A MoU in this regard was signed in 2006.

  • The project would include six mega investment regions of 200 square kilometres each and will run through six states Delhi, Western Uttar Pradesh, Southern Haryana, Eastern Rajasthan, Eastern Gujarat, and Western Maharashtra.
  • The project aims to develop an environmentally sustainable, long lasting and technological advanced infrastructure utilizing cutting age Japanese technologies and to create world class manufacturing and investment destinations in this region.

 

Sources: the hindu.


Topic: Disaster and disaster management.

 

Multi-Agency Exercise ‘Pralay Sahayam’

 

A multi-agency exercise was recently conducted on the banks of Hussain Sagar Lake as the final event of ‘Pralay Sahayam’ in Hyderabad.

  • The event demonstrated efforts of all central and state agencies, National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) and the Armed Forces towards jointly tackling an urban flooding scenario in Hyderabad.

 

Key facts:

  • The exercise brought out the role and function of the State Emergency Operations in coordinating conduct of the joint operations.
  • The exercise emphasized the significance of early warning systems of agencies like Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) and Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS).
  • The exercise culminated with a static display which demonstrated the efficient and functional layout of a relief and rehabilitation camp for the displaced persons.

 

About NDRF:

The Disaster Management Act has made the statutory provisions for constitution of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) for the purpose of specialized response to natural and man-made disasters.

 

Background:

Two national calamities in quick succession in the form of Orissa Super Cyclone (1999) and Gujarat Earthquake (2001) brought about the realization of the need of having a specialist response mechanism at National Level to effectively respond to disasters. This realization led to the enactment of the DM Act on 26 Dec 2005.

 

ROLE AND MANDATE OF NDRF:

  • Specialized response during disasters.
  • Proactive deployment during impending disaster situations.
  • Acquire and continually upgrade its own training and skills.
  • Liaison, Reconnaissance, Rehearsals and Mock Drills.
  • Impart basic and operational level training to State Response Forces (Police, Civil Defence and Home Guards).
  • Community Capacity Building Programme.
  • Organize Public Awareness Campaigns.

 

Sources: pib.