Insights Daily Current Affairs, 29 April 2017
Paper 2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Over 21 lakh LED Street Lights installed across India under Street Light National Programme
Under the Government of India’s Street Lighting National Programme (SLNP) over 21 lakh conventional street lights have been replaced with LED street lights across the country.
- The installation of LED street lights has resulted in Annual energy savings of 295 million unit kWh, avoided capacity of over 73 MW and reduction of 2.3 lakh tonnes of CO2 annually.
- Rajasthan had the highest replacement of LED bulbs.
Under Street Light National Programme (SLNP), Government aims to replace 1.34 crore conventional street lights with energy efficient LED lights.
- The project has been implemented across 23 states and union territories. Energy Efficiency Services Limited, a Public Energy Services Company under the administration of Ministry of Power, Government of India (GoI) is the implementing agency for SLNP.
- EESL also undertakes social audits in all states post the completion of the project.
What you need to know about EESL?
Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) is a joint venture of NTPC Limited, Power Finance Corporation, Rural Electrification Corporation and POWERGRID, Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) was set up under Ministry of Power (India) to facilitate implementation of energy efficiency projects.
Paper 3 Topic: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.
60% work on Kundli-Palwal e-way over
The government has informed that 60% of the work on the 135-km Eastern Peripheral Expressway, being constructed from Kundli to Palwal, has already been completed. Efforts are being made to complete its construction by August.
What you need to know about the Eastern Peripheral Expressway?
This is the first access-controlled expressway being constructed at a cost of Rs. 4,418 crore.
- After its completion, vehicles would not have to enter Delhi for mutual transit to the States of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, and Jammu and Kashmir.
- The Eastern Peripheral Expressway would pass through Baghpat, Ghaziabad, Gautambuddh Nagar and Faridabad.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cyber security; money-laundering and its prevention.
Money laundering may be made criminal offence
The Central government is considering a proposal to make money laundering a separate criminal offence to be investigated by the Enforcement Directorate, irrespective of a probe by other agencies.
- The Special Investigation Team (SIT) on black money has also been of the view that money laundering investigations by the Enforcement Directorate should be allowed without any dependence on registration of cases by other police agencies under the legal provisions listed in the schedule of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
What necessitates this move?
Under the current arrangement in India, the fate of money laundering cases depends on that of the probe and prosecutions in predicate offences pursued by primary agencies. Such restrictions on money laundering investigations on several occasions cause impediments in taking the cases to their logical conclusion. Classifying it as a criminal offence will facilitate quick action against those indulging in money laundering.
Practice in developed countries:
Money laundering in itself has been defined as a criminal offence in several countries. There are also separate legislations for dealing with funds generated through activities like drug trafficking or terror financing.
- The United States has very stringent laws to check money laundering.
- In the United Kingdom, police have to prove predicate offence through circumstantial evidence, linking it to the funds generated and laundered. Wherever money laundering is treated as a stand-alone crime, U.K. agencies are not required to wait for the outcome of investigations into the predicate offence.
- Also, they are not supposed to prove that the funds are proceeds of a particular offence. Based on enough circumstantial evidence, they have to just establish that the proceeds had a criminal origin.
To classify this as a criminal offence, the government will have to bring about several amendments to the PMLA, including the current definition of the “proceeds of crime” that is right now dependent upon the predicate offences as listed in the Act’s schedule.
What does ED do?
Directorate of Enforcement is a specialized financial investigation agency under the Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance, Government of India, which enforces the following laws:
- Foreign Exchange Management Act,1999 (FEMA) – A Civil Law, with officers empowered to conduct investigations into suspected contraventions of the Foreign Exchange Laws and Regulations, adjudicate, contraventions, and impose penalties on those adjudged to have contravened the law.
- Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA) – A Criminal Law, with the officers empowered to conduct investigations to trace assets derived out of the proceeds of crime, to provisionally attach/ confiscate the same, and to arrest and prosecute the offenders found to be involved in Money Laundering.
What is PMLA 2002?
Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted to prevent money-laundering and to provide for confiscation of property derived from money-laundering.
- PMLA and the Rules notified there under came into force with effect from July 1, 2005.
- The Act and Rules notified thereunder impose obligation on banking companies, financial institutions and intermediaries to verify identity of clients, maintain records and furnish information.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
Campaign sends 596 dropouts to school
Altogether 596 students who had dropped out of school have returned for admissions to them in Tripura under a special campaign by the State’s School Education Department and the Centre’s Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA). The campaign was carried out in all eight districts of the State.
Tripura had an alarming rate of school drop-outs at the height of insurgency, when scores of schools became non-functional, mainly in the hilly areas. Most had left school in Classes VIII or IX mainly due to family reasons. The majority of school drop-outs are girls.
The scheme was launched in March, 2009 with the objective to enhance access to secondary education and to improve its quality. It is envisaged to achieve an enrolment rate of 75% from 52.26% in 2005-06 at secondary stage of implementation of the scheme by providing a secondary school within a reasonable distance of any habitation.
- The other objectives include improving quality of education imparted at secondary level through making all secondary schools conform to prescribed norms, removing gender, socio-economic and disability barriers, providing universal access to secondary level education by 2017, i.e., by the end of 12th Five Year Plan and achieving universal retention by 2020.
- Important quality interventions provided under the scheme are: (i) appointment of additional teachers to reduce PTR to 30:1, (ii) focus on Science, Math and English education, (iii) In-service training of teachers, (iv) science laboratories, (v) ICT enabled education, (vi) curriculum reforms; and (vii) teaching learning reforms.
- Important equity interventions provided in the scheme are: (i) special focus in micro planning (ii) preference to Ashram schools for upgradation (iii) preference to areas with concentration of SC/ST/Minority for opening of schools (iv) special enrolment drive for the weaker section (v) more female teachers in schools; and (vi) separate toilet blocks for girls.
- Implementation mechanism of the Scheme: The scheme is being implemented by the State government societies established for implementation of the scheme. The central share is released to the implementing agency directly. The applicable State share is also released to the implementing agency by the respective State Governments.
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.
A safer alternative to lithium-ion batteries
Researchers at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) developed the nickel-zinc (Ni-Zn) batteries in which a three-dimensional Zn “sponge” replaces the powdered zinc anode, or positively charged electrode, traditionally used.
Previous zinc-based rechargeable suffer from a major drawback: Repeated cycles of charging and discharging cause zinc atoms to pile up on one of the electrodes. That causes the growth of “dendrites,” tiny zinc spears that can pierce other parts of the battery, causing it to short-circuit and fail.
Benefits of Ni-Zn batteries:
With 3D Zn, the battery provides an energy content and rechargeability that rival lithium-ion batteries while avoiding the safety issues that continue to plague lithium. Zinc-nickel battery provides nearly the same electrical jolt, but not the fire risk of Li-ion cells.
With the benefits of rechargeability, the 3D Zn sponge is ready to be deployed within the entire family of Zn-based alkaline batteries across the civilian and military sectors.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
India to seal pact with Russia-led grouping
India is set to formalize a free trade agreement with the Eurasian Economic Union, clearing the decks for negotiations on deepening trade relations with the five former Soviet republics.
- The joint statement on the FTA is likely to be issued during the upcoming Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at St. Petersburg.
About Eurasian Economic Union:
The Eurasian Economic Union comprises Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.
- A treaty aiming for the establishment of the union was signed on 29 May 2014 and came into force on 1 January 2015.
- The Eurasian Economic Union has an integrated single market of 183 million people and a gross domestic product of over 4 trillion U.S. dollars (PPP).
- The union introduces the free movement of goods, capital, services and people and provides for common policies in macroeconomic sphere, transport, industry and agriculture, energy, foreign trade and investment, customs, technical regulation, competition and antitrust regulation.
- Trade between India and the five Eurasian countries stands at about $11 billion.
Significance of this pact:
The Eurasian market could open up new export opportunities in medical tourism, IT and IT-enabled services, besides traditional sectors like spices, marine products, coir and rubber.
Sources: the hindu.