Insights Daily Current Affairs, 23 September 2016
Paper 2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Enhanced support under Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS)
In the backdrop of the continued challenging global environment being faced by Indian exporters, Department of Commerce has extended support to certain new products and enhanced the rate of incentives for certain other specified products under the Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS).
2901 additional products falling under different product categories have been added. These include items in the following areas:
- Many items of traditional medicines like Ashwagandha herbs and its extracts, other herbs, extracts of different items.
- Certain marine products, sea feed items.
- Onion dried, processed cereal products and other value added items of plastics, lather articles, suitcases etc
- Industrial products under different categories, including engineering goods, fabrics, garments, chemicals, ceramics, glass products, leather goods, newspapers, periodicals, silk items, made ups, wool products, tubes, pipes etc.
Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS) under Foreign Trade Policy of India (FTP 2015-20) is one of the two schemes introduced in Foreign Trade Policy of India 2015-20, as a part of Exports from India Scheme.
Objective of Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS) as per Indian Foreign Trade Policy 2015-20 (FTP 2015-20) is to offset infrastructural inefficiencies and associated costs involved in export of goods/products, which are produced/manufactured in India, especially those having high export intensity, employment potential and thereby enhancing India’s export competitiveness.
Paper 3 Topic: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.
Ministry of Shipping Proposes New Model Concession Agreement for Port Sector
The Ministry of Shipping has proposed a new Model Concession Agreement (MCA) for the Port Sector.
- The proposed MCA will replace the existing Model Concession Agreement which came into existence in January, 2008.
- The proposed MCA has taken into account the suggestions provided in various reports by Member Planning Commission (2010), Indian Ports Association (IPA-2015) and Kelkar Committee Report (2015).
The objectives of the revised Model Concession Agreement are following:
- More equitable allocation of project risks.
- Provisions to handle unforeseen circumstances.
- Removing ambiguity in existing provisions.
- To attract more private sector investment.
The salient changes proposed in the Revised Model Concession Agreements are:
- Change in equity holding to provide exit route.
- Providing for refinancing provision in MCA.
- Amendment in Definition of “Change of Law”.
- Provision for mid-term review of concession.
- Approval of Discounts on Ceiling Rates for the Purpose of Recovery of Revenue share.
- Improved Utilization of Project Assets and Higher Productivity.
- Grievance Redressal System.
- Provision for Additional Land, Utilities & Services.
- Replacement of “Actual project Cost” with “Approved Project Cost.
Paper 2 Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
Terror-sponsor Pakistan backs LeT, JeM: U.S. Bill
A new bill has been moved in the U.S House of Representatives in the wake of the terrorist attack on an Army base in Uri in Jammu and Kashmir.
- The ‘‘Pakistan State Sponsor of Terrorism Designation Act of 2016” designates Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism. It calls on the U.S. administration to provide a report on whether or not Pakistan qualifies as such under various U.S. laws.
- The bill underlines multiple facts that the members think make Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism.
- The bill lists Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) involvement in supporting terrorism in Afghanistan and quotes the Department of State’s 2016 Country Reports on Terrorism that “Pakistan has not taken sufficient action against groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), which continued to cooperate, train, organise, and fundraise in Pakistan.”
- The bill says the Government of Pakistan, and the ISI in particular, provides support and a safe haven to groups designated as foreign terrorist organizations by the U.S.
- The bill also cites a 2012 NATO report that indicated that the Afghan Taliban is directly assisted by the Pakistani security services and noted that ‘‘Pakistan’s manipulation of the Taliban senior leadership continues [unabated]’’.
The bill envisages a two-step process towards designating Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism. If enacted into law, it will require the administration to submit to Congress a report within 90 days, determining whether Government of Pakistan, including any agents or instrumentalities “committed, conspired to commit, attempted, aided, or abetted any such act” referred in the bill.
- Within 30 days after the first report, the Secretary of State will be required to submit another report explaining whether any of these acts constitutes support for international terrorism and “a determination that the Government of Pakistan is a state sponsor of terrorism.”
- If the administration decides not to designate Pakistan as state sponsor of terrorism, it will have to give “a detailed justification.”
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary Ministries and Departments of the Government; pressure groups and formal/informal associations and their role in the Polity.
Management board an ideal option to end Cauvery impasse: CWC chief
The Supreme Court has directed the Centre to constitute a Cauvery Water Management Board.
What is the Cauvery Management Board?
The Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal mandated the establishment of the Cauvery Management Board to ensure implementation of and compliance with its 2007 final order on the sharing of the river waters, mainly between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, but also with Kerala and Puducherry. The board is a permanent body under the Union Ministry of Water Resources.
Who will be part of the Board?
According to the rules, the Centre will appoint the chairman and all the members of the management board. Members will include an Irrigation Engineer and an agricultural expert and two other representatives from the Centre, who will be appointed by the Ministry of Water resources and Ministry of agriculture. Also all four Cauvery states – Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Pondicherry will have their representatives on the board.
What is the purpose of the Board?
Once the Board is set up, all the Cauvery reservoirs in Karnataka will come under the control of the board and the state will lose its rights over the management of water. The Board will take decisions on water usage and distribution. The Board will also see to it that states ensure proper hydraulic structures at relevant sites. It will determine the amount of water to be received by the states.
Who will handle the reservoirs?
The important reservoirs will be handled by the concerned states as per guidelines issued by the Cauvery Water Management Board to meet the requirements of various states.
How will the Board react during bad monsoons?
The Board will ensure adequate storage by the end of May each year during good years. This will help during delays in the onset of monsoons. In case of consecutive bad years, the Board will handle the issue appropriately by distributing water in a planned manner with minimum distress.
Who will bear the expenses?
The expenses of the board will be borne by all the member states. The expenses of the member representing a state will be borne by the respective state. The cost of installations, constructions or maintenance of hydrological systems shall be borne by the concerned states.
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.
IIT-M’s cheap solution to make brackish water potable
IIT-M has come up with an idea to convert brackish water into drinking water at about 12 paisa per litre right on the kitchen table by using a potential difference of just 1.8 volts.
How this was made possible?
The researchers used a stack of tissue paper and carbonised it at high temperature to make graphene. Graphite electrodes were then coated with the graphene produced in the lab.
- When the electrodes are dipped into brackish water and 1.8 volt potential is applied to the electrodes, the sodium and chloride ions move towards respective electrodes and get adsorbed.
- In about five minutes, the brackish water turns into potable water with less than 500 parts per million (ppm) of sodium chloride, which is less than the permissible limit for drinking water.
- To render the graphene porous, silica precursors were added to the graphene and removed subsequently. The removal of silica makes the graphene porous while retaining its structural integrity.
Sources: the hindu.
Facts for Prelims
- ‘In-Residence’ programme: Eminent artists Shri Paresh Maity and his wife, Smt. Jayasri Burman have commenced their stay in Rashtrapati Bhavan as Artists In-Residence. They will be in residence for 10 days. The ‘In-Residence’ programme in Rashtrapati Bhavan was launched by the President of India on December 11, 2013 with the aim of providing writers and artists an opportunity to stay in Rashtrapati Bhavan and be a part of the life of Rashtrapati Bhavan. The Programme seeks to provide an environment which will inspire creative thinking and rejuvenate artistic impulses. It is intended to honour and recognize eminent and established artists and writers as well as encourage young upcoming talent from different parts of the country.
- World’s largest solar power plant: The ‘world’s largest solar power plant’ with an installed capacity of 648 MW has been commissioned at Kamudhi in Ramanathapuram district of Tamil Nadu. It is set up by Adani Group. The plant comprises 3.8 lakh foundations, 25 lakh solar modules, 27,000m of structure, 576 inverters, 154 transformers and 6,000km length of cables.