Insights Daily Current Affairs, 24 April 2017
Insights Daily Current Affairs, 24 April 2017
Paper 2 Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
Plenary Meeting of the Development Committee (DC) and IMFC of the World Bank Group and the IMF
Plenary Meeting of the Development Committee (DC) of the World Bank Group and the IMF and the Restricted Session of the International Monetary and Finance Committee (IMFC) were recently held in Washington D.C.
- The meetings comprised of discussion sessions on the ‘Forward Look’ exercise carried-out by the World Bank focusing on ‘A Vision for the World Bank Group in 2030 – Progress and Challenges’, Progress Report on the Shareholding Review and a paper on ‘A Stronger World Bank Group for All’.
- The discussions also centred on the global economic outlook, the resource base and governance framework of IMF and the importance of inclusiveness in terms of distribution of the benefits from global integration.
- Indian finance minister Arun Jaitley participated in the meetings. He called for renewing the commitment to reach a decision on Selective Capital Increase (SCI) and General Capital Increase (GCI) by Annual Meetings 2017 in line with the 2015 Lima roadmap.
The IMF Board of Governors is advised by two ministerial committees, the International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC) and the Development Committee.
The IMFC has 24 members, drawn from the pool of 187 governors. Its structure mirrors that of the Executive Board and its 24 constituencies. As such, the IMFC represents all the member countries of the Fund.
- The IMFC meets twice a year, during the Spring and Annual Meetings. The Committee discusses matters of common concern affecting the global economy and also advises the IMF on the direction its work.
- At the end of the Meetings, the Committee issues a joint communiqué summarizing its views. These communiqués provide guidance for the IMF’s work program during the six months leading up to the next Spring or Annual Meetings. There is no formal voting at the IMFC, which operates by consensus.
The Development Committee is a joint committee, tasked with advising the Boards of Governors of the IMF and the World Bank on issues related to economic development in emerging and developing countries. The committee has 24 members (usually ministers of finance or development). It represents the full membership of the IMF and the World Bank and mainly serves as a forum for building intergovernmental consensus on critical development issues.
Paper 2 Topic: India and its neighbourhood- relations.
A step forward for Indo-Bangla ties
The Tripura government has commenced the land acquisition process for the construction of India-Bangladesh Friendship Bridge over river Feni that demarcates boundaries between the two countries in south Tripura.
- The process for acquiring land for a four-lane approach road and a connecting road on Indian side in southern Tripura has also begun.
- Government of India is bearing the entire burden of expenditure towards the construction of the 150-metre bridge which will connect Sabroom of India and Ramgarh in Bangladesh.
- Rehabilitation package is ready to compensate people who would be dislodged for construction purposes.
- The bridge would facilitate implementation of a protocol India earlier signed with Bangladesh to use Chittagong sea port as a ‘port of call’. The port is 72 kilometre away from Sabroom.
- India is also expanding rail network up to Sabroom to handle cargo consignments that would arrivefrom Chittagong port. Ultimate connectivity plan is to benefit Tripura and other landlocked northeastern States with international and domestic shipments using the sea port.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.
Soon, underwater tunnels will connect Howrah with Kolkata
The construction of the first underwater metro tunnel in the country deep under the bed of the Hooghly river has begun.
- Two tunnels will be built. By the end of July, two tunnels running parallel will connect the twin cities of Howrah and Kolkata located on either side of the Hooghly.
- The tunnels are being dug at a depth of 30 metres below the earth’s surface and 13 metres below the riverbed.
- The twin tunnels, about 520 metres long, are crucial to the much-awaited ₹ 8,900 core East West Metro project that will connect Salt Lake Sector V in the eastern part of Kolkata to the Howrah Maidan across the river.
- Of the 16.6 km East West Metro route, 5.8 km is on an elevated corridor and 10.8 km will run underground. The 520-metre tunnels under the river are part of the 10.8 km underground stretch.
- The diameter of the two tunnels running across the river is 5.5 metres and the distance between the two tunnels will vary at different places — 16.1 metres under the river, 18 metres at the Howrah station, and 13 metres at the Howrah Maidan (from where tunnelling started in May 2016).
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
Centre mulls nodal body for transport
The Union government is planning to establish a single unified transport ministry by merging the Ministries of Aviation, Railways, Surface Transport and Shipping so as to ensure greater ease of doing business and boost India’s trade. In this regard, inter-ministerial discussions have already started discussions for establishing a ‘Logistics and Integrated Transport Board’ as a nodal body at the central level for all transport-related matters across modes.
- The Board is likely to be chaired by a Union Cabinet Minister or a Secretary to Government of India.
- It will include top officials from other Ministries concerned such as Finance, Commerce & Industry, External Affairs and Home, as well as senior representatives from the Indian industry and legal experts, especially to address competition aspects.
- The aim, however, is to gradually set up a single unified transport ministry by merging the ministries of Aviation, Railways, Surface Transport and Shipping to ensure greater ease of doing business and boost India’s internal and external trade. It is also in line with the NDA government’s slogan of ‘minimum government and maximum governance’.
Need for a single ministry:
Nearly all of the 100 largest economies, all of the OECD countries, and all of India’s emerging market ‘peers,’ the BRICS countries, have a Ministry of Transport or similar integrated equivalent rather than the collection of mode-specific ministries found in India. Some of these consolidated national agencies are also combined with the Ministry (or equivalent) of communication, a categorisation reminiscent of India’s early post-independence structure.
In this regard, the National Transport Development Policy Committee, chaired by Rakesh Mohan had recommended setting up of a single unified ministry with a clear mandate to deliver a multi-modal transport system that contributes to the country’s larger development goals including economic growth, expansion of employment, geographic expansion of opportunities, environmental sustainability, and energy security.
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.
Tiangong-2: China’s first cargo spacecraft docks with orbiting space lab
China’s first cargo spacecraft-Tianzhou-1 cargo resupply spacecraft, docked successfully with the Tiangong-2 space lab recently, marking a major step towards Beijing’s goal of establishing a permanently manned space station by 2022.
The Tiangong-2 space laboratory, or Heavenly Palace 2, was home to two astronauts for a month last October in China’s longest ever manned space mission.
- The cargo spacecraft mission provides an “important technological basis” to build a Chinese space station. It can reportedly carry six tonnes of goods, two tonnes of fuel and can fly unmanned for three months.
- It is part of China’s plan to establish a manned space station around 2022. It is placed at 380 kilometres above Earth.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices; Public Distribution System objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security; Technology missions; economics of animal-rearing.
New guidelines for inland fisheries
The Union government has issued guidelines for the States on framing a Bill on inland fisheries and aquaculture, amid mounting concern over the pollution and encroachment of waterbodies in Kerala and the long- standing demand to protect the traditional rights and livelihood security of inland fishers.
- The guidelines were issued by the Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries (DADF) under the Union Ministry of Agriculture to address the inadequacies in the existing regulations by States.
- According to the guidelines, encroachment or reclamation of rivers, lakes and wetlands and pollution of water sources is to be treated as a punishable offence. Dumping of solid waste in lakes, wetlands and lagoons has also been recommended for punishment.
- The guidelines propose regulations on the use of fishing craft and gear to protect commercially important fish species from exploitation.
- States have been asked to notify protected areas and fishing holidays in waterbodies during the fish breeding season and ensure safe passage for migration of fish brooders to wetlands.
- The Centre has also instructed States to consider aquaculture on a par with agriculture and ensure uniform incentives, tax benefits and concessional tariffs for both sectors.
- Certification of fish seed and fish feed, disease monitoring and control and curbs on exotic species and destructive fishing practices are other provisions recommended for inclusion in the Bill.
- A participatory approach with the involvement of NGOs and self help groups has been mooted to ensure sustainability of inland fisheries.
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.
Material tougher, more conductive than copper developed
Researchers have developed thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness about 50 times higher than copper films, currently being used in electronics.
How was it prepared?
Tough nano-architectured conductive textile are made by capillary splicing of Carbon nanotubes.
- Beginning with catalyst deposited on a silicon oxide substrate, vertically aligned carbon nanotubes were synthesised via chemical vapour deposition in the form of parallel lines of 5 micrometre wide, 10 micrometre in length, and 20-60 micrometre in heights.
Aligned carbon nanotube sheets are suitable for a wide range of application spanning from the micro to the macro-scales. The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics, including biological and structural health monitoring sensors.
Facts for Prelims:
3D-printing conquers glass:
- Scientists have developed a novel way to 3D-print objects using glass, an advance that could be used to make very small optical components for complex computers.
- The process is known as Stereolithography. Stereolithography is a form of 3D-printing technology used for creating models, prototypes, patterns and production parts in a layer by layer fashion using photopolymerisation, a process by which light causes chains of molecules to link, forming polymers.
- The material, which remains a liquid, is washed out in a solvent bath, leaving only the desired cured structure. The polymer still mixed in this glass structure is subsequently removed by heating.
Engaging Asia arbitration summit:
- The summit was recently held in New Delhi.
- The Summit brings together lawyers and corporates from participating countries to discuss Asia’s potential in driving worldwide growth in commercial arbitration.
- It provides participants an opportunity to discuss the surge in arbitration in Asia, especially among economic powers such as India and China, and Southeast Asia.
- The Summit presents a platform for the international arbitration community to engage with policy makers and share experiences in best practices. It also provides ample opportunity to network on the sidelines with leading arbitration lawyers and corporate counsels.
‘Mother of all marches’ in Venezuela:
- The Mother of All Marches, also known as the Mother of All Protests, was a day of protests held on 19 April 2017 in Venezuela against their president Nicolas Maduro and the chavist regime.
- The protests began after the Supreme Tribunal of Justice dissolved the National Assembly and took over its legislative powers, on 29 March, 2017, in what was called a self-coup.
Panchayati Raj Diwas:
- National Panchayati Raj Day is the national day of India celebrated by Ministry of Panchayati Raj on 24 April annually.
- This date marks a defining moment in the history of decentralization of political power to the grassroots level.
- The Constitution (73rd Amendment) Act, 1992 that came into force with effect from 24th April, 1993 has institutionalized Panchayati Raj through the village, Intermediate and District level Panchayats.
India becomes no 2 LPG importer:
- India has replaced Japan as world’s number two importer of liquefied petroleum gas or LPG.
- Japan recorded a drop of 3.2% in LPG imports during the period under review to 10.6 million tonnes.
- China continues to occupy numero uno position as world’s largest LPG importer.