Insights Daily Current Affairs, 17 July 2017
Paper 3 Topic: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.
Govt. clears three export infra plans
The Centre – for the first time under a new scheme called Trade Infrastructure for Export Scheme (TIES) launched in March to address the infrastructure problem — has given its approval for three proposals.
- An Integrated Cargo Terminal (ICT) at the Imphal International Airport.
- Modernisation of infrastructure facility in Karnataka for marine exports.
- Construction of a new ‘Standard Design Factory’ building at Cochin Special Economic Zone (SEZ).
Status of export infrastructure in India:
According to a March 2016 report on ‘Export Infrastructure in India’ by the Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce, “deficient infrastructure and the manner in which infrastructure is being operated (in India) are the major obstacles to ensure competitiveness in manufacturing of goods and exports thereof.”
- It is estimated that the logistic cost in India is about 14% of the GDP whereas in advanced economies like the U.S. and the European Union, it is 8% and 10% of the GDP respectively. Owing to sub-optimal logistic capability, certain sectors dependent on logistics lose as much as 2% on sales return.
- An ASSOCHAM study conducted a few years ago shows that India runs against a disadvantage of about 11% of its trade due to deficient infrastructure.
Need for improvement:
It is estimated that India can save up to $50 billion if logistics costs are brought down from 14% to 9% of country’s GDP thereby making domestic goods more competitive in global markets.
The Scheme is focussed on addressing the needs of the exporters. The scheme replaces a centrally sponsored scheme — Assistance to States for creating Infrastructure for the Development and growth of Exports (ASIDE).
- The objective of the TIES is to enhance export competitiveness by bridging gaps in export infrastructure, creating focused export infrastructure and first-mile and last-mile connectivity.
- The Central and State Agencies, including Export Promotion Councils, Commodities Boards, SEZ Authorities and Apex Trade Bodies recognised under the EXIM policy of Government of India; are eligible for financial support under this scheme.
- The scheme would provide assistance for setting up and up-gradation of infrastructure projects with overwhelming export linkages like the Border Haats, Land customs stations, quality testing and certification labs, cold chains, trade promotion centres, dry ports, export warehousing and packaging, SEZs and ports/airports cargo terminuses.
- The TIES, which is being implemented from FY18 till FY20, has a budgetary allocation of Rs. 600 crore.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 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.
A looming threat
The results from a limited number of children tested, under the Revised National TB Control Programme, is worrying.
- About 5,500 of over 76,000 children tested in nine Indian cities have been diagnosed with tuberculosis.
- 9% of them with multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB).
- Many children tested positive for TB showed resistance to Rifampicin, a first-line drug.
What are MDR-TB & MDR/RR-TB?
MDR-TB is an abbreviation of Multi Drug Resistant TB and it is a specific type of drug resistant TB infection. It means that the TB bacteria that a person is infected with, are resistant to at least two of the most important TB drugs, isoniazid (INH) and rifampicin (RMP). If bacteria are resistant to certain TB drugs this means that the drugs won’t work. Other drugs then need to be taken by the person if they are to be cured.
What’s the concern?
Since the incidence of TB among children is a reflection of the prevalence of the disease in the community at large, the high prevalence of both drug-sensitive TB and drug-resistant TB in children from these nine cities is a grim reminder of the failure of the health-care system to diagnose the disease early enough in adults and start them on treatment.
What needs to be done?
A proactive approach to testing helps in early and correct diagnosis of all contacts and in cutting the transmission chain. In line with World Health Organisation guidelines, the RNTCP requires all household contacts, particularly children, of a newly diagnosed pulmonary TB patient to be tested and started on treatment if needed. Children below six years of age in the household of a newly diagnosed patient are required to be given the drug Isoniazid as a prophylactic even when they do not have the disease.
The government should take up contact screening more urgently. Using the Xpert molecular diagnostic test to screen children with TB is a positive step and should be welcomed, but all the diagnosed children should be guaranteed paediatric Fixed-dose combination (FDC) drugs. It would be unethical to deny them this lifeline.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 1 Topic: Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.
When too much is too little
The issue of food wastage is considered as an issue of national importance.
How wastage occurs?
Food wastage is sometimes linked to people’s behaviour. However, there are wastages which happen in any case due to food’s perishability and the absence of an effective distribution mechanism and legal framework.
How big is it?
Food is lost or wasted throughout the supply chain, from initial agricultural production to final household consumption. According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), “One third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted globally, which amounts to about 1.3 billion tons per year.” The losses represent “a waste of resources used in production such as land, water, energy and inputs, increasing the green gas emissions in vain”.
Impacts of food wastage:
Food wastage has multiple socio-economic and environmental impacts.
- On hunger: In a country like India, not only is food scarce for many poor families, it is a luxury for many others. India ranked 97th among 118 countries in the Global Hunger Index for 2016. Though hunger cannot be tackled directly by preventing food wastage, a substantial amount of food that is wasted in our country can feed many hungry people.
- Loss of resources: The wastage of food entails loss of considerable amount of resources in the form of inputs used during production. For example, 25% of fresh water and nearly 300 million barrels of oil used to produce food are ultimately wasted.
- Environmental impact: The increasing wastage also results in land degradation by about 45%, mainly due to deforestation, unsustainable agricultural practices, and excessive groundwater extraction. Wastage results in national economic loss. To put a monetary value to the loss in terms of wastage, India loses Rs. 58,000 crore every year.
- The energy spent over wasted food results in 3.3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide production every year. Decay also leads to harmful emission of other gases in the atmosphere; for instance, decaying of rice produces methane. Food waste emissions have a major impact on climate change and result in greater carbon footprint.
What needs to be done?
Looking at the scale of problems, it is wise to frame a comprehensive strategy by combining the efforts of the government and private sectors and civil society. The government can create a time-bound task force under Niti Aayog, with experts from different sectors, to frame a national policy to tackle this gigantic issue, which can recommend the legal framework to support initiatives to reduce food loss and waste.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
IBBI notifies rules for bankruptcy probe
The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI), which is implementing the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), has notified the regulations for inspection and investigation of service providers registered with it.
- With this, the IBBI now has powers to start probes against service providers registered with it without intimating them. Insolvency professional agencies, professionals, entities and information utilities are considered as service providers under the Code.
- As per the regulations, the investigation authority has to serve a notice intimating the entity concerned about the probe at least ten days in advance. However, the requirement could be done away with on grounds such as apprehensions that the records of the particular service provider might be destroyed before the probe starts.
- Among others, the investigating authority has powers to seize records of the service provider being probed through a court order. The investigating authority can be one officer or a team of officers of the IBBI.
The Code, which provides for a market-determined and time-bound resolution of insolvency proceedings, became operational in December 2016. It offers a market determined, time bound mechanism for orderly resolution of insolvency, wherever possible, and orderly exit, wherever required. The Code envisages an ecosystem comprising National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT), National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), Debt Recovery Appellate Tribunal (DRAT), Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT), Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (Board), Information Utilities (IUs), Insolvency Professionals (IPs), Insolvency Professional Agencies (IPAs) and Insolvency Professional Entities (IPEs) for implementation of the Code.
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.
Govt. panel to study cow derivatives
The government has set up a 19-member panel to carry out what it says will be scientifically validated research on cow derivatives including its urine, and their benefits.
- The committee will select projects that can help scientifically validate the benefits of panchgavya — the concoction of cow dung, cow urine, milk, curd and ghee — in various spheres such as nutrition, health and agriculture.
- The government has given the project the acronym SVAROP, which stands for Scientific Validation and Research on Panchagavya, and says it is a “national programme” that’s being conducted by the Department of Science and Technology, Department of Biotechnology, and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) of the Ministry of Science and Technology in collaboration with IIT-Delhi.
- This multi-disciplinary programme will involve participation of other related ministries, government departments, academic institutions, research laboratories, voluntary organisations and others to carry out research and development and also build capacities, and cover five thematic areas including scientific validation of uniqueness of indigenous cows.
- It will cover “scientific validation of ‘panchagavya’ for medicines and health, scientific validation of ‘panchagavya’ and its products for agriculture applications, scientific validation of ‘panchagavya’ for food and nutrition.
Sources: the hindu.
Facts for Prelims:
Institutions in news- ICAR:
The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) is celebrating its 89thh foundation day.
The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) is an autonomous body responsible for co-ordinating agricultural education and research in India. It reports to the Department of Agricultural Research and Education, Ministry of Agriculture. The Union Minister of Agriculture serves as its president. It is the largest network of agricultural research and education institutes in the world.
Institutions in news- NCDC:
National Cooperative Development Corporation has released Rs.28771.31 crore in the year 2014-17 compared to Rs.15143.76 crore in the year 2011-14.
National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC) was established by an Act of Parliament in 1963 as a statutory Corporation under Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare. It has many regional centres to provide the financial assistance to Cooperatives/Societies/Federations.