Insights Daily Current Events, 25 May 2016
Paper 2 Topic: Development processes and the development industry the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders.
India signs $100 mn loan agreement with World Bank
Indian government has signed a $ 100 million loan agreement with multilateral lending agency World Bank for Karnataka Urban Water Supply Modernisation Project.
- The project aims to provide access to a continuous piped water supply in various cities in Karnataka and strengthen the service delivery arrangements at the city level.
- Karnataka Urban Infrastructure Development & Finance Corporation (KUIDFC) is the implementing agency for the project.
- The project will have four broad components – capital investment programme, institution building, technical assistance for sector development and project management.
- It will be implemented over a period of six years.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 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.
Tribunal pulls up SEBI for lack of uniformity in penalising players
A recent order by the Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT) has brought to the fore the issue of lack of uniformity in actions taken by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) in similar offences by different market participants.
The order came based on an appeal filed by Almondz Global Securities Ltd. The company had alleged that SEBI has imposed stricter penalties while similar offences by other entities saw a much lenient penal action by SEBI officials. SAT has quashed the remaining punishment against the merchant banker after highlighting this fact.
Securities Appellate Tribunal is a statutory body established under the provisions of Section 15K of the Securities and Exchange Board of India Act, 1992 to hear and dispose of appeals against orders passed by the Securities and Exchange Board of India or by an adjudicating officer under the Act and to exercise jurisdiction, powers and authority conferred on the Tribunal by or under this Act or any other law for the time being in force. It covers the whole of India.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
Indian Ocean Rim nations to boost cooperation on SEZs
India and several other nations bordering the Indian Ocean have decided to evolve a regional mechanism for cooperation on Special Economic Zones (SEZ) – or duty-free enclaves with tax holidays — to boost exports.
- This was decided at the recently held first-of-its-kind meeting between SEZ authorities from Indian Ocean Rim (IOR) nations at Chabahar, Iran. Notably, Chabahar houses a Free Trade Zone (FTZ) – a synonym for SEZs.
- The meeting comes at a time of global economic and trade slowdown and attempts are being made by countries to boost growth through trade.
The Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), formerly known as the Indian Ocean Rim Initiative and Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC), is an international organisation consisting of coastal states bordering the Indian Ocean.
- The IORA is a regional forum, tripartite in nature, bringing together representatives of Government, Business and Academia, for promoting co-operation and closer interaction among them.
- It is based on the principles of Open Regionalism for strengthening Economic Cooperation particularly on Trade Facilitation and Investment, Promotion as well as Social Development of the region.
- The Coordinating Secretariat of IORA is located at Ebene, Mauritius.
- The organisation was first established as Indian Ocean Rim Initiative in Mauritius on March 1995 and formally launched in 1997 by the conclusion of a multilateral treaty known as the Charter of the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Co-operation.
- The Association comprises 20 member states and 7 dialogue partners, the Indian Ocean Tourism Organisation and the Indian Ocean Research Group has observer status.
Objectives of IORA:
- To promote sustainable growth and balanced development of the region and member states.
- To focus on those areas of economic cooperation which provide maximum opportunities for development, shared interest and mutual benefits.
- To promote liberalisation, remove impediments and lower barriers towards a freer and enhanced flow of goods, services, investment, and technology within the Indian Ocean rim.
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.
ISRO to test rocket that takes its fuel from air
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is planning to test an air-breathing propulsion system, which aims to capitalise on the oxygen in the atmosphere instead of liquefied oxygen while in flight.
Generally, vehicles used to launch satellites into space use combustion of propellants with oxidiser and fuel. However, the new Air breathing propulsion system aims to use oxygen present in the atmosphere up to 50 km from the earth’s surface to burn the fuel stored in the rocket.
- This system would help in reducing the lift-off mass of the vehicle since liquefied oxygen need not be carried on board the vehicle.
- This would also help increasing the efficiency of the rocket and also make it cost-effective.
- It would also complement ISRO’s aim to develop a reusable launch vehicle, which would have longer flight duration.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
Potassium bromate in same cancer class as coffee
According to a report by the Centre for Science and Environment, 84% of 34 bread types sold in India contain potassium bromate, a carcinogen. Potassium bromate is the chemical additive widely prevalent in bread and refined flour.
- Following this, food regulator FSSAI said it has decided to remove potassium bromate from the list of permitted additives.
A 1982 study in Japan stated that potassium bromate causes cancer. Following this, many countries including Japan, UK, China and Australian banned this compound.
What is Potassium Bromate and how it works?
It is added to wheat flour to strengthen the dough and to allow it to rise higher. It bleaches the dough and increases its elasticity by making tiny bubbles that help the bread rise.
- However, the real problem arises when bromate flour isn’t baked for long enough or at a high enough temperature, or if too much potassium bromate is added in the first place.
- The chemical is said to cause renal tubular tumours (adenomas and carcinomas) thyroid follicular tumours peritoneal mesotheliomas in laboratory animals.
- Also, long-term carcinogenicity studies and in vivo and in vitro mutagenicity studies showed that potassium bromate was a “genotoxic carcinogen” or a chemical agent that damaged genetic information, causing mutations.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Lucknow, Warangal among 13 smart cities announced by govt.
The Union government has announced the names of 13 more cities that will be developed under the Centre’s “Smart City Mission.”
- These cities were chosen from the 23 that failed to get representation in the first round of a competition held in January, and participated in the “fast-track competition.”
- Lucknow tops the list, followed by Warangal in Telangana and Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh.
- With this, the investment proposed by 33 cities under the smart city plans is now Rs. 80,789 crore.
Smart cities mission:
The Smart Cities mission was launched in June 2015 with the government releasing the guidelines and mission statement for the 100 Smart Cities project. It will provide central funding of Rs 50,802 crore to the selected cities for improving their infrastructure and service delivery through application of better technology and e-governance.
- States and Urban local Bodies (ULBs) will play a key supportive role in the development of Smart Cities. Smart leadership and vision at this level and ability to act decisively will be important factors determining the success of the Mission.
According to mission guidelines, the total State and Central financial assistance for each smart city would be Rs. 1,000 crore. The central government will grant every winning city a sum of Rs. 500 crore as overall cache of start-up funds and the State governments will provide an additional Rs. 500 crore.
- The Central government has created an outside agency named Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), which will be headed by a CEO, and will be given powers to “execute” the proposed developments and projects.
- The professionally managed SPV will be empowered to execute the smart city projects in a timely and cost-effective manner while ensuring that the quality of the outcomes is benchmarked against global standards.
What are smart cities?
A ‘smart city’ is an urban region that is highly advanced in terms of overall infrastructure, sustainable real estate, communications and market viability. It is a city where information technology is the principal infrastructure and the basis for providing essential services to residents. There are many technological platforms involved, including but not limited to automated sensor networks and data centres.
The core infrastructure in a smart city would include:
- Adequate water supply.
- Assured electricity supply.
- Sanitation, including solid waste management.
- Efficient urban mobility and public transport.
- Affordable housing, especially for the poor.
- Robust IT connectivity and digitalization.
- Good governance, especially e-Governance and citizen participation.
- Sustainable environment.
- Safety and security of citizens, particularly women, children and the elderly.
- Health and education.
Sources: the hindu.
Facts for Prelims:
- Andhra Pradesh is all set to become the state with highest solar capacity in the country. A total capacity of 4,000 MW, the highest in the country, with Rs.225.5 crore has already been sanctioned. A total of 33 solar parks have been commissioned across the country under the Centre’s scheme for the development of solar parks and ultra mega solar power projects. Under this scheme, it is proposed to set up at least 25 solar parks and ultra mega solar power projects targeting over 20,000 MW of solar power installed capacity within a span of five years starting from 2014-15.
- Odisha governor has promulgated an ordinance for the mandatory use of Odia in all official communication. It empowers the state government to formulate laws to implement Odisha Official Language Act, 1954. Article 345 of the Indian Constitution deals with the official language of a state. It empowers state legislature to adopt ‘any one or more of the languages in use in the State or Hindi as the language or languages to be used for all or any of the official purposes’ of the concerned State.