Insights Daily Current Affairs, 17 April 2018

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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 17 April 2018


 

Paper 2:

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

 

Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB)

Context: India’s downstream oil and gas regulator Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) is set to take up the role of the market regulator for the natural gas sector, when the planned natural gas trading hub comes into being, much on the lines of the capital markets regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).

 

Need for a natural gas trading platform:

The plan to establishing a natural gas trading platform is part of a larger effort by the government to build a vibrant and transparent gas market in India. The idea is to create an ecosystem where the competing buyers would be able to buy gas from competing sellers and transport the same from gas source to the place of their requirement by getting a non-discriminatory access to the pipeline capacity. This end-to-end solution would reduce customer risk and enhance customer confidence on gas as an alternate fuel and feed.

 

What needs to be done?

The Government has envisaged ushering into a gas-based economy by increasing the share of natural gas in the primary energy mix of the country from current level of about 6% to 15% by 2030.

The thrust now should be on increasing the availability of natural gas by enhancing the domestic production, encouraging the import of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), completion of national pipeline grid and speedier roll out of City Gas Distribution network in the country.

 

PNGRB:

  • The Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) was constituted under The Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board Act, 2006.
  • The Act provide for the establishment of Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board to protect the interests of consumers and entities engaged in specified activities relating to petroleum, petroleum products and natural gas and to promote competitive markets and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
  • The board has also been mandated to regulate the refining, processing, storage, transportation, distribution, marketing and sale of petroleum, petroleum products and natural gas excluding production of crude oil and natural gas so as and to ensure uninterrupted and adequate supply of petroleum, petroleum products and natural gas in all parts of the country.

 

Facts for Prelims:

The world’s biggest natural gas hub is the Henry Hub in the US state of Louisiana. Gas delivered at this point is the basis of most US natural gas futures.

 

What’s important?

  • For Prelims: PNGRB and its functions.
  • For Mains: Need for a natural gas trading platform.

 

Sources: the hindu.


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

 

Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts (EPCH)

Context: 7th edition of Home Expo India 2018 was recently organized by EPCH at India Expo Centre and Mart, Greater Noida. The fair is a three segmented categories show comprising Housewares, Textiles and Furniture under one roof at the same time making it a One-Stop Expo for every visitor.

 

About EPCH:

  • Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts (EPCH) under the aegis of Development Commissioner (Handicrafts), Ministry of Textiles, Government of India is a non-profit organization, established under the EXIM policy of Government of India in the year 1986-87.
  • The objective is to promote, support, protect, maintain and increase the export of handicrafts.

 

Functions of the council:

  • It is an apex body of handicrafts exporters for promotion of exports of Handicrafts from country.
  • The Council has created necessary infrastructure as well as marketing and information facilities, which are availed both by the members exporters and importers.
  • The Council is engaged in promotion of handicrafts from India and project India’s image abroad as a reliable supplier of high quality handicrafts.

 

Composition of the council:

The Council is run and managed by team of professionals headed by Executive Director. The Committee of Administration consists of eminent exporters, professionals. The Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts has a rarest distinction of being considered as MODEL COUNCIL that is self-sustaining and where all the promotional activities are self-financed.

 

VRIKSH:

  • ” VRIKSH ” is a program by EPCH which is totally based on the timber legality assessment and verification standard for verification of legality and legal origin of wood and wooden products. It is intended for entities who want to accurately track and make claims about the legal origin and transport of their products.
  • The VRIKSH standard conforms to all major compliance requirements including the new CITES notification.
  • To fulfil the obligation, the Vriksh shipment certificate, issued exclusively by EPCH is mandatory to go along with all shipments of two Dalbergia’s species (Rosewood and Sheesham) products.

 

What’s important?

  • For Prelims: EPCH and Vriksh initiative.
  • For Mains: Need for promotion of Indian handicrafts and its significance.

 

Sources: pib.


Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

 

Weisbaden conference

Context: Wiesbaden Conference 2018 was recently held in India. Representatives from the 39 countries, as well as experts from the UNSC 1540 Committee and UN Office for Disarmament Affairs in New York, participated in the conference.

  • The conference provides an opportunity to participants to share experiences on their export control systems and to identify legal and technical assistance, action plans and challenges in the national implementation of UNSC 1540.

 

Key facts:

  • The title of the Conference is ‘Securing Global Supply Chains through Government-Industry Partnerships towards Effective Implementation of UNSC Resolution 1540’.
  • The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in cooperation with Germany and the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) hosted the conference.
  • Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) was the industry partner for the event.

 

About Weisbaden process:

The Wiesbaden Process was initiated by the Government of Germany in 2012 to strengthen the implementation of UNSC 1540 through Government-Industry partnerships.

 

UN Security Council Resolution 1540:

The UN Security Council Resolution 1540 (2004) establishes legally binding obligations on all States to adopt and enforce appropriate and effective measures to prevent the proliferation to non-State actors of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and their delivery systems. It requires, therefore that States implement appropriate and effective measures to prevent non-state actors such as terrorists, from obtaining access to weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

 

The resolution includes three primary obligations:

  • All States are prohibited from providing any form of support to non-state actors seeking to acquire weapons of mass destruction, related materials, or their means of delivery.
  • All States must adopt and enforce laws criminalizing the possession and acquisition of such items by non-state actors, as well as efforts to assist or finance their acquisition.
  • All States must adopt and enforce domestic controls over nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, their means of delivery, and related materials, in order to prevent their proliferation.

 

Implementation:

UNSCR 1540 requires all states to adopt and enforce laws that will ensure implementation of the obligations laid down in the WMD treaties, especially with a view to prevent proliferation to non-state actors. It does not create very specific legal obligations for those states that are not party to existing WMD treaties, because it only requires them to take ‘measures’ against proliferation of WMDs and their means of delivery.

 

Opposition:

Many states in the non-aligned movement have criticised resolution 1540 for being cumbersome and ill-adapted to their situations, an attempt by the US to co-opt others into its war on terror, interference by the UN in states’ national sovereignty and a drain on resources that could better be used on problems that are of more direct local relevance.

 

Facts for Prelims:

Wiesbaden is the city, capital of state Hesse in central Germany. It is situated on the right bank of Rhine River and on the foot of Taunus Mountains.

 

What’s important?

  • For Prelims: Weisbaden conference and UNSC Resolution 1540.
  • For Mains: UNSCR 1540 and its significance.

 

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 3:

Topic: Infrastructure.

 

PMGSY

Context: A parliamentary panel has found discrepancies including diversion of funds, issuing tenders prior to technical sanctions, incomplete projects, preference to certain villages etc. in the implementation of the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna (PMGSY) — a flagship programme of the Central government to provide rural last mile connectivity. The panel also found that some states had deviated from the prescribed procedures. Consequently eligible habitations were either left out or wrongly shown as connected.

 

About PMGSY:

  • PMGSY was launched on 25th December 2000 as a fully funded Centrally Sponsored Scheme to provide all weather road connectivity in rural areas of the country.
  • The programme’s target is to connect the 178,184 habitations identified as unconnected when the programme was launched. The present government has set an accelerated goal of achieving this target by 2019, ahead of the initial timeline of 2022.
  • For most intensive Integrated Action Plan (IAP) blocks as identified by Ministry of Home Affairs the unconnected habitations with population of100 and above (as per 2001 Census) are eligible to be covered under PMGSY.

 

The aim was to provide roads to all villages:

  • With a population of 1000 persons and above by 2003.
  • With a population of 500 persons and above by 2007.
  • In hill states, tribal and desert area villages with a population of 500 persons and above by 2003.
  • In hill states, tribal and desert area villages with a population of 250 persons and above by 2007.

 

Background:

Rural Road Connectivity is not only a key component of Rural Development by promoting access to economic and social services and thereby generating increased agricultural incomes and productive employment opportunities in India, it is also as a result, a key ingredient in ensuring sustainable poverty reduction. Notwithstanding the efforts made, over the years, at the State and Central levels, through different Programmes, many Habitations in the country are still not connected by All-weather roads.

 

Sources: pib.


Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

 

Commonwealth innovation index

Context: A new Commonwealth Innovation Index has been launched as part of a new Commonwealth Innovation Hub on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) being held in London.

 

About the index:

  • The index has been created in partnership with the United Nations World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and its annual Global Innovation Index (GII).
  • It is aimed at providing a tool that allows member states, organisations and citizens to benchmark themselves against 53 countries of the Commonwealth, with the new innovation hub offering a dedicated online space for Commonwealth countries to showcase what they have to offer and share with other members.

 

Performance of countries:

  • India is ranked 10th.
  • Bangladesh has been ranked 24th.
  • The index is topped by the UK, Singapore and Canada.

 

About GII:

The Global Innovation Index (GII), co-published by World-Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Cornell University and INSEAD with CII as a Knowledge Partner since inception, has been ranking world economies including India since 2007 according to their innovation capabilities and outcomes using 82 indicators among a host of other important parameters.

 

What’s important?

For Prelims and Mains: Commonwealth Innovation Index and Global Innovation Index.

 

Sources: et.


Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

 

Commonwealth Innovation Fund

 

Context: A new Commonwealth Innovation fund has been launched on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) being held in London.

 

About the Commonwealth Innovation Fund:

  • The Global Innovation Fund (GIF) will work as the delivery partner to host a new Commonwealth Innovation Fund (CIF), which will use GIFs existing due diligence processes for sourcing, evaluating and investing to generate a high-quality portfolio of enterprises that are aligned with the Commonwealth Secretariats priorities.
  • The GIF will manage the fund and its investments, which will be targeted at innovative projects across Commonwealth countries that “save and improve lives”.
  • The new partnership aims to provide financing for incubating and accelerating impact-oriented ideas and innovations within the Commonwealth countries.
  • It is a $200 million venture capital firm that invests in social innovations that aim to improve lives and opportunities in the developing world through the use of grants and risk capital.

 

About the Global Innovation fund:

  • The Global Innovation Fund is a non-profit innovation fund headquartered in London with an office in Washington D.C. that invests in the development, rigorous testing, and scaling of innovations targeted at improving the lives of the world’s poorest people.

GIF is a unique hybrid investment fund that supports the piloting, rigorous testing, and scaling of innovations targeted at improving the lives of the poorest people in developing countries.

 

 

What’s important?

For Prelims and Mains: CIF and GIF.

 

Sources: the hindu.