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Insights Daily Current Events, 03 July 2015

Insights Daily Current Events, 03 July 2015

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India is now a $2-trillion economy

According to a recently released World Bank report, India’s GDP has crossed the $2-trillion mark in 2014 and at present stands at $2.067 trillion. After taking 60 years to reach the $1-trillion mark, India has added the next trillion in just seven years.

What else the report says?

  • Going by income, India is still in the lower middle income category.
  • India’s gross national income per person has risen to $1,610, which converts to Rs 1,01,430 by present exchange rate.
  • India is among the world the fastest growing economies this year.
  • Despite its increase in per capita gross national income (GNI), India has remained in the ‘lower middle income’ category ($1,046-$4,125).
  • The report also shows that India would become an ‘upper middle income’ country ($4,126-$12,735) in 2026. This will put it in the category China occupies now. But, it will take India till 2039 to reach the ‘upper middle income’ level, at the assumed growth rate.

The World Bank’s data on gross national income per capita show Bangladesh, Kenya, Myanmar, Tajikistan, Mongolia, Paraguay, Argentina, Hungary, the Seychelles and Venezuela have shifted their income categories for the better. For example, Bangladesh, Kenya, Myanmar, and Tajikistan are now ‘middle income’ countries from being ‘low income’ nations.

GNI (Gross national income) is the sum of value added by all resident producers plus any product taxes (less subsidies) not included in the valuation of output plus net receipts of primary income (compensation of employees and property income) from abroad.

Sources: The Hindu.

 

World Food Prize Awarded for Enhanced Food Security

Fazle Hasan Abed of Bangladesh has been awarded the 2015 World Food Prize.

  • This prize honors Fazle’s unparalleled achievement in building the unique, integrated development organization BRAC, which is headquartered in Bangladesh and operates programs in 10 other countries around the globe. It is said to be the world’s largest NGO.

About BRAC:

  • The organization, originally known as Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee, was created as a temporary relief organization to help the country recover from the 1970 typhoon that killed about 500,000 people and the subsequent war fought in 1971 to win independence from Pakistan. Bangladesh was once listed as the second poorest country in the world.
  • BRAC has grown into one of the world’s largest nongovernmental organizations focused on alleviating poverty — estimated to have helped more than 150 million people out of poverty in Africa and Asia and is expanding efforts to 10 additional countries.

About the World Food Prize:

The World Food Prize was created by Nobel laureate Norman Borlaug in 1986 to recognize scientists and others who have improved the quality and availability of food. Norman Borlaug is also known as the father of the green revolution.

  • The award carries a monetary reward of 250,000 dollars. The foundation that awards the $250,000 prize is based in Des Moines, Iowa.
  • Since 1987, there have been 40 individuals who have won the World Food Prize and they come from a broad array of specialisations, from presidents to seed scientists and irrigation pioneers.
  • So far, seven Indians have won this award.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.

 

ED attaches land in U.S. in loan fraud case

In the first such action, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has attached 1,280 acres of land in the U.S. in connection with one of the biggest bank loan frauds in this country.

  • This land in California, USA, belongs to Zoom Developers Pvt Ltd and Vijay Chaudhary.
  • Chaudhary, who is allegedly absconding, had taken loans totalling Rs 2,200 crore from various banks for realty projects in Europe. However, no project was ever undertaken and the money was allegedly siphoned off by Mr. Chaudhary.
  • The unprecedented move to attach the land in California worth Rs. 1,000 crore was initiated by the ED’s Ahmedabad zonal unit.

About the Enforcement Directorate:

Enforcement Directorate, established in the year 1956, is a law enforcement agency and economic intelligence agency responsible for enforcing economic laws and fighting economic crime in India.

  • It is a specialized financial investigation agency under the Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance, Government of India, which enforces Foreign Exchange Management Act,1999 (FEMA) and Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA) laws.

Other functions of the directorate include:

  • To collect, develop and disseminate intelligence relating to violations of FEMA, 1999, the intelligence inputs are received from various sources such as Central and State Intelligence agencies, complaints etc.
  • To investigate suspected violations of the provisions of the FEMA, 1999 relating to activities such as “hawala” foreign exchange racketeering, non-realization of export proceeds, non-repatriation of foreign exchange and other forms of violations under FEMA, 1999.
  • To adjudicate cases of violations of the erstwhile FERA, 1973 and FEMA, 1999.
  • To realize penalties imposed on conclusion of adjudication proceedings.
  • To handle adjudication, appeals and prosecution cases under the erstwhile FERA, 1973
  • To process and recommend cases for preventive detention under the Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act (COFEPOSA)
  • To undertake survey, search, seizure, arrest, prosecution action etc. against offender of PMLA offence.
  • To provide and seek mutual legal assistance to/from contracting states in respect of attachment/confiscation of proceeds of crime as well as in respect of transfer of accused persons under PMLA.

Sources: The Hindu, ED.

 

Parliamentary committee recommends doubling of MPs’ salary

A parliamentary committee has recommended a steep hike in the salaries and allowances of Members of Parliament. This recommendation was made by the Joint Committee on Salaries and Allowances of Members of Parliament and is headed by BJP MP Yogi Adityanath.

Major recommendations:

  • The committee has sought doubling of the salary of MPs from the existing Rs. 50,000 per month, increasing the pension of ex-MPs from Rs. 20,000 to Rs. 35,000, and doubling the daily allowance of members when Parliament is in session, from Rs. 2,000 to Rs. 4,000.
  • It has also sought facilities for companions in place of spouses, as many MPs are single. Currently, companions and spouses are only entitled to second class tickets.
  • The panel has also recommended that ex-MPs be permitted to travel economy class by air five times a year. Sitting MPs are allowed to fly executive class around three dozen times a year.
  • Since MPs rank higher than the Cabinet Secretary in protocol, the panel suggested their privileges should match their status and also include healthcare benefits for married children of MPs.

About the Joint Committee on Salaries and Allowances of Members of Parliament:

  • It consists of five members from the Rajya Sabha nominated by the Chairman and ten members from the Lok Sabha nominated by the Speaker.
  • The members of the Joint Committee elect its Chairperson.
  • The Joint Committee is a Standing Committee of Parliament and a member of that Committee holds office as such member for one year from the date of his nomination.
  • The Committee determines its own rules of procedure.

Sources: The Hindu, LS.

 

Indian-American named World Agriculture Prize laureate

Indian-American professor R Paul Singh has been named as the 2015 Global Confederation for Higher Education Associations for Agriculture and Life Sciences World Agriculture Prize laureate.

  • The award was announced at the annual GCHERA conference, held last week at the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik, Jounieh, Lebanon.
  • The award will be formally presented on September 20, during a ceremony at Nanjing Agricultural University, Jiangsu Province, China.
  • R Paul Singh is known for niche research areas of agricultural sector such as freezing preservation, energy conservation, post-harvest technology and mass transfer in food processing.
  • Under a NASA contract, his research group has created food- processing equipment for a manned mission to Mars. He had also contributed in establishing and evaluating food-engineering programs at various institutions throughout the world including in Brazil, Portugal, Peru and Thailand.

About the World Agriculture Prize:

The World Agriculture Prize will be awarded to an academic/faculty member from a higher education institution working in the disciplines relating to the agricultural and life sciences – including but not limited to agriculture, forestry, natural resources, food, bio based products, bioenergy, rural development and the environment. Such disciplines are inclusive of both the natural and social sciences.

  • The World Agriculture Prize will be awarded in recognition of the academic/faculty member’s life time achievements.
  • The Prize aims to encourage the global development of the mission of higher education institutions in education, research and innovation in the agricultural and life sciences by recognizing the distinguished contribution of an individual to this mission.
  • The Prize was proposed by Nanjing Agricultural University (NAU) on 20 October 2012 on the occasion of the 110th anniversary of Nanjing Agricultural University and was established by the Global Confederation of Higher Education Associations for the Agricultural and Life Sciences (GCHERA) Board on 28 October 2012.
  • Nanjing Agricultural University generously sponsors the GCHERA World Agriculture Prize. The prize will be 50,000 USD.

Sources: TOI, gchera.

 

National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship 2015

The Union Cabinet recently gave its approval for the India’s first integrated National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship 2015.

  • The Policy acknowledges the need for an effective roadmap for promotion of entrepreneurship as the key to a successful skills strategy.
  • The previous National Policy on Skill Development was formulated by the Ministry of Labour and Employment in 2009 and provided for a review after five years to align the policy framework with emerging national and international trends.

Details:

  • The Vision of the Policy is “to create an ecosystem of empowerment by Skilling on a large Scale at Speed with high Standards and to promote a culture of innovation based entrepreneurship which can generate wealth and employment so as to ensure Sustainable livelihoods for all citizens in the country”.
  • To achieve this Vision, the Policy has four thrust areas. It addresses key obstacles to skilling, including low aspirational value, lack of integration with formal education, lack of focus on outcomes, low quality of training infrastructure and trainers, etc.
  • The Policy seeks to align supply and demand for skills by bridging existing skill gaps, promoting industry engagement, operationalising a quality assurance framework, leverage technology and promoting greater opportunities for apprenticeship training.
  • Equity is also a focus of the Policy, which targets skilling opportunities for socially/geographically marginalised and disadvantaged groups.
  • Skill development and entrepreneurship programmes for women are a specific focus of the Policy.
  • In the entrepreneurship domain, the Policy seeks to educate and equip potential entrepreneurs, both within and outside the formal education system.
  • It also seeks to connect entrepreneurs to mentors, incubators and credit markets, foster innovation and entrepreneurial culture, improve ease of doing business and promote a focus on social entrepreneurship.

Sources: PIB.

 

National Skill Development Mission

The Union Cabinet has given its approval for the institutional framework for the National Skill Development Mission in keeping with the commitment made during the Budget Speech for 2015-16.

About the National Skill Development Mission:

The National Skill Development Mission aims to provide a strong institutional framework at the Centre and States for implementation of skilling activities in the country.

  • The Mission will have a three-tiered, high powered decision making structure. At its apex, the Mission’s Governing Council, chaired by the Prime Minister, will provide overall guidance and policy direction. The Steering Committee, chaired by Minister in Charge of Skill Development, will review the Mission’s activities in line with the direction set by the Governing Council. The Mission Directorate, with Secretary, Skill Development as Mission Director, will ensure implementation, coordination and convergence of skilling activities across Central Ministries/Departments and State Governments.
  • The Mission will also run select sub-missions in high priority areas.
  • The National Skill Development Agency (NSDA), the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) and the Directorate of Training will function under the overall guidance of the Mission.
  • The Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) provides a natural home for the Mission, organically linking all three decisions making levels and facilitating linkages to all Central Ministries/Departments and State Governments.

Sources: PIB.

 

Review of the Sagarmala initiative

Union Minister of Shipping, Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari, recently chaired a review meeting of the Sagarmala initiative. Various developments under the initiative were reviewed.

Sagarmala Initiative:

The Sagarmala project seeks to develop a string of ports around India’s coast. The objective of this initiative is to promote “Port-led development” along India’s 7500 km long coastline.

  • It aims to develop access to new development regions with intermodal solutions and promotion of the optimum modal split, enhanced connectivity with main economic centres and beyond through expansion of rail, inland water, coastal and road services.
  • The Union Ministry of Shipping has been appointed as the nodal ministry for this initiative.

The Sagarmala initiative will address challenges by focusing on three pillars of development, namely:

  1. Supporting and enabling Port-led Development through appropriate policy and institutional interventions and providing for an institutional framework for ensuring inter-agency and ministries/departments/states’ collaboration for integrated development,
  2. Port Infrastructure Enhancement, including modernization and setting up of new ports, and
  3. Efficient Evacuation to and from hinterland.

Details:

  • In addition to strengthening port and evacuation infrastructure, it also aims at simplifying procedures used at ports for cargo movement and promotes usage of electronic channels for information exchange leading to quick, efficient, hassle-free and seamless cargo movement.
  • The Sagarmala initiative would also strive to ensure sustainable development of the population living in the Coastal Economic Zone (CEZ). This would be done by synergising and coordinating with State Governments and line Ministries of Central Government through their existing schemes and programmes such as those related to community and rural development, tribal development and employment generation, fisheries, skill development, tourism promotion etc.
  • A National Sagarmala Apex Committee (NSAC) is envisaged for overall policy guidance and high level coordination, and to review various aspects of planning and implementation of the plan and projects. The NSAC shall be chaired by the Minister incharge of Shipping, with Cabinet Ministers from stakeholder Ministries and Chief Ministers/Ministers incharge of ports of maritime states as members.

Sources: PIB.

 

Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yoiana (PMKSY)

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has given its approval to the “Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana” (PMKSY).

About the Scheme:

It is a central scheme that aims at providing irrigation facilities to every village in the country by converging ongoing irrigation schemes implemented by various ministries.

  • Under the project, a dynamic annual fund allocation methodology, which mandates states to allot more funds to irrigation sectors for becoming eligible to access funds under this scheme, is also being considered.
  • The Scheme also intends to focus on ‘end-to-end solution’ in irrigation supply chain by implementing the new programme in a “project mode” with decentralised state-level planning and execution.
  • It will have an outlay of Rs. 50,000 crore over a period of five years (2015-16 to 2019-20). The allocation for the current financial year is Rs. 5300 crore.
  • The programme architecture of PMKSY aims at a ‘decentralized State level planning and execution’ structure, in order to allow States to draw up a District Irrigation Plan (DIP) and a State Irrigation Plan (SIP).
  • DIP will have holistic developmental perspective of the district outlining medium to long term developmental plans integrating three components namely, water sources, distribution network and water use application of the district to be prepared at two levels – the block and the district. All structures created under the schemes will be geotagged.
  • The programme will be supervised and monitored at the national level by an Inter-Ministerial National Steering Committee (NSC) under the Chairmanship of the Prime Minister with Union Ministers of all concerned Ministries.
  • A National Executive Committee (NEC) will be constituted under the Chairmanship of the Vice Chairman, NITI Aayog to oversee programme implementation, allocation of resources, inter ministerial coordination, monitoring and performance assessment, addressing administrative issues etc.
  • At the state level the scheme will be administered by a State Level Sanctioning Committee (SLSC) to be Chaired by the Chief Secretary of the respective States. The committee will have all authority to sanction the project and also monitor the progress of the scheme.
  • At the district level there will be a district level implementation committee for ensuring last mile coordination at the field level.
  • It is expected that PMKSY will provide convergence to existing schemes of water management, thus bringing efficiency to the use of water.
  • The state agriculture department would be the nodal agency for implementation of PMKSY projects.
  • A state will become eligible to access PMKSY funds only if it has prepared the district irrigation plans and state irrigation plans and sustained an increasing expenditure trend in irrigation sector in state plan.
  • PMKSY funds would be given to states as 75% grant by the central government and the remaining 25% share is to be borne by the state government. For northeastern region and hilly states, the funding pattern would be 90:10.

Sources: PIB.

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