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Insights Daily Current Events, 14 January 2016

Insights Daily Current Events, 14 January 2016

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Paper 3 Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

Sugar cess ceiling hiked to Rs 200/qtl after President nod to Bill

President Pranab Mukherjee has given his assent to the Sugar Cess (Amendment) Bill, 2015, raising the ceiling of the impost.

Background:

  • The bill was passed by Lok Sabha on December 15 but opposition members had joined ranks in the Rajya Sabha to oppose its consideration on December 23, the last day of the winter session.
  • The Bill was later declared a money bill. It has now become a law after the President’s nod as it was not returned by the Upper House to the Lok Sabha within 14 days of its consideration there, as required under the rules.

Highlights:

  • The new Bill amends the Sugar Cess Act, 1982 which provides for the imposition of a cess as an excise duty on the production of sugar.
  • The principal Act specifies the ceiling on the cess at 25 rupees per quintal under the Act. The Bill proposes to increase this ceiling to 200 rupees per quintal of sugar.
  • The cess was proposed to be increased in order to meet the government’s expenditure on interventions to ensure payment of dues to sugarcane farmers.

The rate of sugar cess is notified by the central government from time to time.

sources: the hindu, pib.

 

Paper 3 Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

EPFO bags National Award on e-Governance

The Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation has won the National Award on e-Governance 2015-16 for launching the Universal Account Number (UAN).

  • The EPFO won the gold award in the ‘innovative use of technology in e-governance’ category and it will get a cash prize of Rs 2 lakh.

 

About UAN:

  • The EPFO had launched UAN in July 2014. The UAN facility enables workers to transfer their provident fund deposits while switching jobs anywhere in India easily.
  • Through UAN, active employees are provided a universal number which can be linked to various provident fund account numbers provided to them while working in different organisations.
  • A single account number can be used through all of workers’ employments with various organisations. When a worker changes his job, he is required to inform his UAN to new employer and after the previous and present employments are linked to the number, the transfer process happens on its own.
  • Earlier, the worker had to apply for transfer of funds on change of job from one organisation to another. The portal also allows a worker view his provident fund balance on a real-time basis without going through the employer.
  • So far, 5.65 crore workers in 4.57 lakh organisations have been allocated UAN.

The Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation, a statutory body, is one of the largest social security organizations in India in terms of volume of financial transactions undertaken and number of covered beneficiaries. It works under the overall aegis of the Ministry of Labour and Employment.

sources: the hindu.

 

Paper 2 Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

Kerala becomes the first to achieve 100% literacy

Kerala has become the first Indian state to achieve 100% primary education. The Vice-President, Mohammad Hamid Ansari has officially declared the 100% primary education status achieved by Kerala.

  • This has been achieved through the primary education equivalency drive of the state literacy mission – Athulyam.

About Athulyam:

  • The programme was aimed at providing primary education people aged between 15 and 50 years. It was implemented in two stages.
  • The beneficiaries were identified through family registries prepared by anganwadis under the social justice department.
  • In the second phase of this Athulyam programme, the students who have not received primary education or who failed to get primary education due to several reasons were recognised and these students were provided classes to achieve the education.

The significance of education in Kerala is indicated by the state’s ranking as the most literate in the country. Schools and colleges are mostly administered by the government, private trusts, or individuals. Each school is associated with either the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE), the Central Board for Secondary Education (CBSE), Kerala State Education Board or the (NIOS).

sources: pib.

 

Paper 3 Topic: agricultural produce and issues and related constraints.

Centre clears new crop insurance scheme

The Union government has given its approval to the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana.

  • The scheme aims to reduce the premium rates to be paid by the farmers so as to enable more farmers avail insurance cover against crop loss on account of natural calamities.
  • The scheme will come into effect from the upcoming kharif season.

Details:

  • Under the new scheme, farmers will have to pay a uniform premium of 2% for all kharif crops and 1.5% for all rabi crops. For annual commercial and horticultural crops, farmers will have to pay a premium of 5 %. The remaining share of the premium, as in previous schemes, will continue to be borne equally by the Centre and the respective state governments.
  • Under PMFBY, there will no upper limit on government subsidy and even if balance premium is 90%, it will be borne by the government. Earlier, there was a provision of capping the premium rate which resulted in low claims being paid to farmers. This capping was done to limit government outgo on the premium subsidy. This capping has now been removed and farmers will get claim against full sum insured without any reduction.
  • Under the scheme, the use of technology will be encouraged to a great extent. Smart phones will be used to capture and upload data of crop cutting to reduce the delays in claim payment to farmers. Remote sensing will be used to reduce the number of crop cutting experiments.
  • The new Crop Insurance Scheme will also seek to address a long standing demand of farmers and provide farm level assessment for localised calamities including hailstorms, unseasonal rains, landslides and inundation.

This scheme will act like a “safety shield” for the farmers and will protect them against the vagaries of nature.

Significance of this move:

With farmers having been required to pay a premium share of as high as 15% in several areas in the country, there has been a long-standing discussion on the need to bring down these rates. The Centre’s move to bring down and cap these interest rates is being viewed as a major government policy outreach towards the farmers.

Increased financial burden:

With the new scheme, the Centre’s financial liability is estimated to go up to Rs 5,700 crore. As the Centre’s financial liability goes up, the bill of the states where the scheme gets implemented will also go up correspondingly.

sources: the hindu, pib.

 

Paper 3 Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

Digital dividends not spreading rapidly, says World Bank

The World Bank recently published its annual World Development Report (WDR) 2016. The 2016 WDR issue titled “Digital Dividends,” noted that almost 1.063 billion Indians were offline even though India ranked among the top five nations in terms of the total number of Internet users, along with China, the U.S., Japan and Brazil.

Other important observations made by the report:

  • With 60% of the world’s population still offline, institutional and regulatory barriers to efficiency are exacerbating the problem of low and unevenly distributed “digital dividends” from growing Internet penetration across countries.
  • With the advent of big data, which includes the likes of India’s Aadhaar unique identity project, secret snooping by governments can be for legitimate law enforcement reasons, but sometimes violates laws and rights.
  • 57% of Indians believe private information on the Internet is very secure, but only 18% of French and 16% of German respondents do.
  • With nearly 20% of the world’s population unable to read and write, the spread of digital technologies alone is unlikely to spell the end of the global knowledge divide. Yet, there were numerous examples worldwide of success stories where the power of the Internet had been leveraged to improve, for example, the delivery of public services.
  • The Bank’s report has also outlined several cases of NGOs partnering with the Indian government and such digital citizen engagement led to success with projects such as “I Change My City,” “I Paid A Bribe,” and the “Karnataka BVS.”
  • The report also notes that India, along with Ethiopia and Zimbabwe, has the greatest restrictions on service trade.
  • The report also asks India to have an appropriate business environment, which shapes how firms adopt and use technology.

sources: the hindu.

 

Paper 3 Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

Satellite technology to help NHAI monitor highway projects

NHAI has signed Memorandum of Understanding with National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) under Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and North East Centre for Technology Application and Research (NECTAR) for use of spatial technology for monitoring and managing National Highways.

Background:

NHAI: NHAI has been entrusted with National Highways Development Project (NHDP), along with other projects for development, maintenance and management of National Highways across the country. To accomplish this mandate, it is required to use advanced and multiple technologies to expedite project preparation, monitor construction progress, operation and maintenance and optimal management of its assets.

NRSC: National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC), a part of ISRO, is the focal point for distribution of remote sensing satellite data products in India. The NRSC supplies satellite data products acquired by Indian Satellites (ISRO) and also by the foreign satellite product companies. ISRO is the nodal agency appointed by Govt. of India for Space Technology.

NECTAR: North East Centre for Technology Application and Research (NECTAR), Department of Science and Technology uses Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) for acquiring aerial images for infrastructure planning.

Significance of this MoU:

  • The use of satellite data and geospatial technology will be useful in providing inputs in highway and infrastructure projects for preparation of DPR, prefeasibility status in new alignment, upgrade/road widening, monitoring of road segments under construction and Road Asset Management System.
  • The use and benefits of unmanned aerial vehicle technology will be useful in monitoring, construction progress, Road Asset Management, feasibility report and DPR preparation, immediate assessment and remedy of problematic spots etc.

sources: pib.

 

Paper 2 Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

India to join the International Energy Agency – Ocean Energy Systems

The Union Cabinet has given its approval for India to become a member country of the International Energy Agency – Ocean Energy Systems (IEA-OES) by signing the Implementing Agreement (IA).

  • The nodal agency for the membership would be Earth System Science Organisation – National Institute of Ocean Technology (ESSO-NIOT) under the Ministry of Earth Sciences.

Benefits:

  • By becoming a member of the IEA-OES, India will have access to advanced R&D teams and technologies across the world.
  • India will partner in developing test protocols along with other countries.
  • This will help in testing Indian prototypes as per international requirements and norms.
  • Joint cooperative programs with institutes of member countries could be taken up.
  • India’s own research projects with specific targets can also be taken up in conjunction with other countries.

About the IEA:

The IEA is an inter-governmental organization with a broad role of promoting alternate energy sources (including renewable energy), rational energy policies and multinational energy technology co¬operation.

  • It was established in 1974 as per framework of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.
  • It has 29 member countries and acts as energy policy advisor to all the member countries.
  • The Agency’s mandate has broadened to focus on the “3Es” of effectual energy policy: energy security, economic development, and environmental protection.

Ocean Energy Systems: The OES, launched in 2001, is an intergovernmental collaboration between countries, which operates under framework established by the International Energy Agency. This initiative is to advance research, development and demonstration of technologies to harness energy from all forms of ocean renewable resources, as well as for other uses, such as desalination etc. through international cooperation and information exchange.

sources: pib.