Insights Daily Current Affairs, 13 September 2017
Topic: Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.
Bengaluru Named Among World’s Top 25 High-Tech Cities
Bengaluru has emerged among the top 25 high-tech cities of the world, according to research firm 2thinknow that specializes in analyzing innovative cities. Bengaluru stands at number 19, climbing rapidly from the 49th spot it was at last year.
Research firm 2thinknow ranked 85 cities keeping 10 factors in mind: number of patents filed per capita, startups, tech venture capitalists, ranking in other innovation datasets, and level of smartphone use.
Performance of cities:
- Bengaluru’s rise in ranks has been due to the influx of IT companies and the city’s growing population of digital natives.
- San Francisco, the ‘Silicon Valley’, is at No. 1 spot. New York comes behind the Silicon Valley.
- Beijing and Shanghai rank higher than Bengaluru this year, occupying 16th and 17th spots, respectively.
- London, a city with more startups and programmers than any city in the world, is listed at No. 3. Los Angeles is at No. 4. Ranked number 5 is the city of future, Seoul.
- Taipei in Taiwan, Boston in Massachusetts, Singapore, Toronto and Chicago make the top 10.
Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Cabinet approves introduction of the Payment of Gratuity (Amendment) Bill, 2017 in the Parliament
The Union Cabinet has given its approval for introduction of the Payment of Gratuity (Amendment) Bill, 2017 in the Parliament.
- The move aims at providing social security to workmen after retirement, whether it is because of rules of superannuation, or physical disablement or impairment of vital parts of the body.
- The Amendment will increase the maximum limit of gratuity of employees, in the private sector and in Public Sector Undertakings/ Autonomous Organizations under Government who are not covered under CCS (Pension) Rules, at par with Central Government employees.
The present upper ceiling on gratuity amount under the Act is Rs. 10 Lakh. The provisions for Central Government employees under Central Civil Services (Pension) Rules, 1972 with regard to gratuity are also similar. Before implementation of 7th Central Pay Commission, the ceiling under CCS (Pension) Rules, 1972 was Rs. 10 Lakh. However, with implementation of 7th Central Pay Commission, in case of Government servants, the ceiling now is Rs. 20 Lakhs effective from 1.1.2016.
Therefore, considering the inflation and wage increase even in case of employees engaged in private sector, the Government is of the view that the entitlement of gratuity should be revised for employees who are covered under the Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972. Accordingly, the Government initiated the process for amendment to Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972.
The Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972:
The Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972 applies to establishments employing 10 or more persons. The main purpose for enacting this Act is to provide social security to workmen after retirement, whether retirement is a result of the rules of superannuation, or physical disablement or impairment of vital part of the body. Therefore, the Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972 is an important social security legislation to wage earning population in industries, factories and establishments.
Topic: India and its neighbourhood- relations.
Chennai-Vladivostok sea route to make it near East
Aiming to put in place a key maritime route connecting India with Northeast Asia and Western Pacific region Delhi is contemplating to put in place a major connectivity initiative — direct shipping link between Chennai and Vladivostok amid China’s ambitious Maritime Silk Route (MSR) connecting Asia with Africa.
- This proposed maritime route which could be transformed into a corridor could juxtapose with Indo-Japan Pacific to Indian Ocean Corridor amid Beijing’s OBOR of which MSR is a part – virtually connecting entire SE Asia through road, shipping and rail links.
- This shipping link would enable to transfer cargo between Chennai and Vladivostok in 24 days in comparison to over 40 days currently taken to transport goods from India to Far East Russia via Europe, according to experts on the subject.
India was the first country to establish a resident Consulate in Vladivostok in 1992. Current engagement of India with the region is limited to isolated pockets such as the Irkut Corporation in Irkutsk where the Mig and Sukhoi aircraft are built and over USD 6 billion worth of investments by ONGC Videsh Limited in the Sakhalin 1 project.
- The region has a wealth of natural resources such as land, timber, mineral and other resources like tin, gold, diamonds and oil and natural gas. The Russian government has announced several initiatives to attract investments in the region, including an agricultural SEZ, the Vladivostok Free Port Project and also invites participation in the timber industry , mining of the huge mineral resources (coal & diamonds) and precious metal deposits (gold, platinum, tin and tungsten).
- Opportunities for collaboration for Indian companies include in such sectors as agriculture, mining, port development and infrastructure, diamond processing, agro-processing.
Topic: Food processing and related industries in India- scope and significance, location, upstream and downstream requirements, supply chain management.
“Dairy Processing & Infrastructure Development Fund”
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved a Dairy Processing & Infrastructure Development Fund” (DIDF) with an outlay of Rs 10,881 crore during the period from 2017-18 to 2028-29.
The major activities of DIDF:
The project will focus on building an efficient milk procurement system by setting up of chilling infrastructure & installation of electronic milk adulteration testing equipment, creation/modernization/expansion of processing infrastructure and manufacturing faculties for Value Added Products for the Milk Unions/ Milk Producer Companies.
Management of DIDF:
The project will be implemented by National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) and National Dairy Development Cooperation (NCDC) directly through the End Borrowers such as Milk Unions, State Dairy Federations, Multi-state Milk Cooperatives, Milk Producer Companies and NDDB subsidiaries meeting the eligibility criteria under the project.
- An Implementation and Monitoring Cell (IMC) located at NDDB, Anand, will manage the implementation and monitoring of day-to-day project activities.
- The end borrowers will get the loan @ 6.5% per annum. The period of repayment will be 10 years with initial two years moratorium.
- The respective State Government will be the guarantor of loan repayment. Also for the project sanctioned if the end user is not able to contribute its share; State Government will contribute the same.
Benefits from DIDF:
With this investment, 95,00,000 farmers in about 50,000 villages would be benefitted. Additional Milk processing capacity of 126 lakh litre per day, milk drying capacity of 210 MT per day, milk chilling capacity of 140 lakh litre per day, installation of 28000 Bulk Milk Coolers (BMCs) along with electronic milk adulteration testing equipment and value added products manufacturing capacity of 59.78 lakh litre per day of milk equivalent shall be created.
Employment Generation Potential:
The implementation of DIDF scheme will generate direct and indirect employment opportunities for skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled manpower.
- Direct employment opportunities for about 40,000 people will be created under the scheme through project activities like expansion & modernisation of existing milk processing facilities, setting up of new processing plants, establishment of manufacturing facilities for value added products and setting up of Bulk Milk Coolers (BMCs) at village level.
- About 2 lakh indirect employment opportunities will be created on account of expansion of milk and milk product marketing operations from existing Tier I, II & III to Tier IV, V & VI cities/towns etc. This will lead to deployment of more marketing staff by Milk Cooperatives, appointment of distributors and opening of additional milk booths/retail outlets in urban/rural locations.
- With the increase in milk procurement operations of the Milk Cooperatives, there would be generation of additional manpower employment for supervision of increased milk procurement operations, transportation of milk from villages to processing units, and increased input delivery services like Artificial Insemination (AI) services, Veterinary Services, etc.
Topic: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.
Cabinet approves survey of Un-appraised Areas of Sedimentary Basins of India
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has given its approval for a significant project to acquire 48,243 Line Kilometer (LKM) 2D seismic data for appraisal of Indian sedimentary basins where limited data is available. The project will help in increasing the investments in domestic production of oil and gas.
- The project will be implemented by NOCs, i.e. Oil India Limited (OIL) and Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC). OIL will conduct survey in North – Eastern States while remaining area will be covered by ONGC. Survey work will be carried out in 24 States.
- Total estimated cost of the entire project is Rs. 2932.99 crore spread over five years. Initially National Oil Companies (NOCs) are meeting the fund requirement from their own sources, which will be reimbursed by the Government.
- Entire project is likely to be completed by 2019-20. Directorate General of Hydrocarbons is monitoring the project and reviewing the progress on monthly basis.
- Project involves engagement of large number of workers at local level where work is to be executed. This is likely to generate direct as well as indirect employment for about 11,000 people in the form of skilled and unskilled workers and suppliers for support services.
India has 26 sedimentary basins covering an area of 3.14 Million Sq Km spread over onland, shallow water and deep water. An area of about 1.502 Million Sq. Km i.e. 48% of total sedimentary basin area does not have adequate geo-scientific data. As a base to launch future Exploration and Production (E&P) activities, appraisal of all unappraised areas has been considered an important task. The preparatory work started in 2015-16 and actual survey work started in 2016-17 and more than 9100 LKM 2D seismic data has been acquired till July, 2017.
Data acquisition is important as it helps in giving the initial insight into the basins and helps in planning the future E&P activities. It will be useful in deciding the focus areas of the exploration activities in the country and on the basis of this primary data, E&P companies would take up further exploration activities in the acreages allocated to them.
Topic: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.
Hiving off mobile tower assets of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited into a separate company, fully owned by BSNL
The Union Cabinet has given its approval for hiving off mobile tower assets of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) into a separate company, fully owned by BSNL.
- This approval authorizes BSNL to monetize its telecom tower infrastructure with the formation of a separate subsidiary company.
- An independent, dedicated tower company of BSNL with a focused approach will lead to increasing of external tenancies and consequentially higher revenue for the new company.
- There are around 4,42,000 mobile towers in the country out of which more than 66,000 mobile tower are of BSNL.
Different business models in the telecom industry:
Besides the captive model in BSNL and MTNL where the service provider owns their passive infrastructure also, there are three different business models within the telecom tower industry:- companies created by hiving off the tower assets portfolios of service providers into subsidiaries, companies established as independent joint venture entities by service providers jointly and companies promoted by specific service providers but established as independent entities with the promoter being the anchor tenant for the tower company.
The telecom tower industry has emerged as an independent business to harness the potential for sharing of infrastructure. The business model arose from the need to achieve economies of scale and to reduce capital investment costs for providing mobile services. The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) policy allows sharing of passive infrastructure i.e. the tower structure, Diesel Generator sets, battery units, power interface unit, air-conditioning etc., which has facilitated the growth of the telecom infrastructure industry.
A tower infrastructure company essentially owns the passive infrastructure asset and leases it to telecom service providers enabling them to minimize duplication of investments and economize on costs of Operation and Maintenance (O&M), thereby improving profitability.
Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
“Wood is Good” Campaign
The government has launched “Wood is Good” Campaign under the Partnership for Land Use Science (Forest-Plus), a partnership between USAID and India’s environment ministry.
- The idea is to promote wood as a climate-friendly resource and a substitute to materials like plastic and steel because it is carbon neutral unlike the others while leave a carbon footprint in their production.
The Partnership for Land Use Science (Forest-Plus) is a joint programme by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) to strengthen capacity for REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) implementation in India. The programme brings together experts from India and the United States to develop technologies, tools and methods of forest management to meet the technical challenges of managing forests for the health of ecosystem, carbon stocks, biodiversity and livelihood.
Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.
NASA’s Cassini completes last flyby of Saturn’s moon Titan
NASA’s Cassini has completed a final, distant flyby of Saturns’s giant moon Titan. This distant encounter is referred to informally as “the goodbye kiss” by mission engineers, because it provides a gravitational nudge that sends the spacecraft toward its dramatic ending in Saturn’s upper atmosphere.
- With this, the spacecraft’s mission is all set to when it enters the planet’s atmosphere and disintegrates. In its final hours, Cassini will relay as much data as it can back to Earth before it dies. NASA hopes the data collected from the final descent will allow scientists to understand more about the planet’s atmosphere and interior.
Launched in 1997, the Cassini mission — a cooperation between NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency — has sent back thousands of stunning images and made numerous discoveries about the ringed planet and its moons.
About Cassini Mission:
Cassini–Huygens is an unmanned spacecraft sent to the planet Saturn. Cassini is the fourth space probe to visit Saturn and the first to enter orbit. Its design includes a Saturn orbiter and a lander for the moon Titan. The lander, called Huygens, landed on Titan in 2005. The spacecraft was launched on October 15, 1997. This was the first landing ever accomplished in the outer Solar System.
- Determine the three-dimensional structure and dynamic behavior of the rings of Saturn.
- Determine the composition of the satellite surfaces and the geological history of each object.
- Determine the nature and origin of the dark material on Iapetus’s leading hemisphere.
- Measure the three-dimensional structure and dynamic behavior of the magnetosphere.
- Study the dynamic behavior of Saturn’s atmosphere at cloud level.
- Study the time variability of Titan’s clouds and hazes.
- Characterize Titan’s surface on a regional scale.
What has it discovered?
The probe has been crucial to findings that Saturn’s moons are among the most hospitable places in the Solar System for potentially supporting life. Recently, Nasa also announced that Cassini had detected chemical reactions happening below the icy surface of Enceladus, suggesting life is possible there. The mission also found that the moon Titan contains many earth-like features such as wind, rain and seas.