Insights Daily Current Affairs, 21 September 2016
Paper 2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Govt announces 27 more cities in second round
The government has selected 27 new smart cities in the latest round of ‘Smart City Challenge’ competition.
- The 27 smart cities announced are from 12 States including 5 from Maharashtra, 4 each from Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, 3 from Uttar Pradesh and 2 each from Punjab and Rajasthan. Nagaland and Sikkim have made it to the smart city list for the first time.
- Amritsar has topped the list. Eight other cities of pilgrim and tourism importance that made to the third list of smart cities are ; Ujjain, Tirupati, Agra, Nashik, Madurai, Thanjavur, Ajmer and Varanasi.
- With this the number of cities selected under Smart City Mission for financing implementation of smart city plans has gone up to 60.
- With this announcement, implementation of smart city plans is now spread over 27 States and UTs.
- 9 States/UTs still to enter implementation phase are; Uttarakhand, J & K, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Puducherry, Lakshadweep, Daman & Diu and Dadra, Nagar & Haveli.
- The new 27 smart cities have proposed an investment of Rs.66,883 cr under smart city plans including Rs.42,524 cr under Area Based Development.
- The cities have proposed another Rs.11,379 cr for technology based Pan-city solutions that benefits all the citizens of respective cities.
- With this, the total investment proposed by the 60 cities selected so far has gone up to Rs.1,44,742 cr.
The Smart Cities mission was launched in June 2015 with the government releasing the guidelines and mission statement for the 100 Smart Cities project.
- Under this programme, the government 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.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 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.
India successfully test fires long range surface-to-air missile
India has successfully test-fired the Barak-8 long-range surface-to-air nuclear-capable ballistic missile, jointly developed with Israel, from a defence test facility off the Odisha coast.
About the missile:
- LRSAM is also called Barak 8 missile in Israel which in Hebrew language means Lightning.
- The missile configuration is same for both LRSAM/MRSAM.
- For the LRSAM, DRDO has designed and developed Dual Pulse Propulsion System and other safe arm mechanisms for Solid Propulsion system.
- It has the ability to hit targets within radii of 70 km to 90 km.
- The missile is designed to defend against any type of airborne threat including aircraft, helicopters, anti-ship missiles, and UAVs as well as cruise missiles and combat jets.
- Both maritime and land-based versions of the system exist.
The LRSAM programme consists of Missiles, MFSTAR (Radar), Weapon Control System, Vertical Launcher unit and Two- way data link.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.
Moody’s sees slower pace of new bad loans
According to a report released by Moody’s Investors Service, India’s banking system is moving past the worst of its asset quality slump.
- This outlook is based on the company’s analysis of five key factors—operating environment, asset risk and capital (stable), funding and liquidity, profitability and government support.
Highlights of the report:
- According to the report, while the stock of impaired loans may still increase during the horizon of this outlook, the pace of new impaired loan formation should be lower than what it has been over the last few years.
- While the operating environment for Indian banks is supported by a stabilising economy, the asset quality indicator still remains a problem but the picture is getting better on account, according to the report.
- However, asset quality will remain a negative driver of the credit profiles of most rated Indian banks. But, the pace of deterioration in asset quality over the next 12-18 months should be lower than what was seen over the last five years.
- The ratings outlook on 11 of the banks is positive, reflecting the global rating agency’s positive outlook on the sovereign rating and the high degree of government support that could be expected for the banks, if needed.
Moody’s baseline scenario assumes headline GDP growth of 7.4 per cent over the next two years compared with 7.3 per cent in 2015, with key drivers being a favourable monsoon season, ongoing public investment, and continued growth in foreign direct investment.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
National wastewater reuse policy sought
According to the PwC report on “Closing the water loop, reuse of treated wastewater in urban India”, India needs a national wastewater reuse policy to help address the “perennial concern” of urban water stress by mandating targets and laying out legislative, regulatory and financial measures to hit those targets.
- The suggestion for such a policy comes against the backdrop of the PwC report highlighting “water stress to be a perennial concern’’ in most Indian cities.
Why a policy in this regard is necessary?
The country is expected to add approximately 404 million new urban dwellers between now and 2050. This rapid urban growth will be linked with higher industrial output and greater energy demand thus adding to the urban water stress.
Hence, sound policy and regulatory interventions by the Central and State Governments are a prerequisite for the launching of innovative reuse projects.
- Institutionalising the reuse of treated wastewater could go a long way in helping utilities to address this challenge in an effective manner.
- Like other infrastructure sub-sectors in India, the wastewater sector would also have to be driven by government initiatives and implementation models would be designed around these initiatives.
- The PwC study suggested that the Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Water Resources should work together to define quality norms for different grades of industrial water. This would help standardise the design of reuse systems nationwide.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
India slips 10 notches in World Economic Freedom Index 2016
The Economic Freedom of the World: 2016 Annual Report has been released worldwide by the Centre for Civil Society, a public policy think tank, along with Canada’s Fraser Institute.
- The report measures the degree of economic freedom in countries in five broad areas based on 2014 data – size of government: expenditure, taxes and enterprises; legal structure and security of property rights; access to sound money; freedom to trade internationally and regulation of credit, labour, and business.
- Hong Kong topped the index, followed by Singapore and New Zealand among 159 countries.
- India has been ranked 112th. India has slipped 10 positions and ranks behind Bhutan (78), Nepal (108) and Sri Lanka (111) but stood higher than China (113), Bangladesh (121) and Pakistan (133).
- India has fared badly in all categories i.e. legal system and property rights (86), sound money (130), freedom to trade internationally (144) and regulation (132) except the size of the government (8),” as per the report.
- The 10 lowest-ranked countries are Iran, Algeria, Chad, Guinea, Angola, Central African Republic, Argentina, Republic of Congo, Libya and lastly Venezuela.
- Other notable countries include the United States (16), Germany (30), Japan (40), France (57) and Russia (102).
- In the top quartile, the average income of the poorest 10% was $11,283, compared with $1,080 in the bottom quartile in 2014. Interestingly, the average income of the poorest 10% in the most economically free nations was twice the average per capita income in the least free nations, says the report.
- Life expectancy was 80.4 years in the top quartile compared with 64 years in the bottom quartile, while political and civil liberties were also considerably higher in economically free nations.
Significance of economic freedom index:
The economic freedom index of a country is directly proportional to the freedom and opportunities available to its citizens. People living in countries with high levels of economic freedom enjoy greater prosperity, more political and civil liberties, and longer lives. On the contrary, countries at the lower levels of freedom index tend to suppress its citizens’ freedom and rights.
Sources: the hindu.