Insights Daily Current Affairs, 27 October 2017
GS2 Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
First BIMSTEC Task Force on Traditional Medicine meeting held in New Delhi
The first-ever meeting of BIMSTEC Task Force on Traditional Medicine (BITFM) was held at Parvasi Bhartiya Kendra in New Delhi
- It was organized by Union Ministry of AYUSH
- India being a major stakeholder in the field of Traditional Medicine plays an important role in influencing the policies and strategies related to the Traditional Medicine in the BIMSTEC Forum
- Implementation of Strategies of BIMSTEC Task Force on Traditional Medicines
- Identification of priority areas in traditional medicine for technical and research collaboration among member states
- Regional Strategy for protection of Genetic Resource associated with Traditional Medicine Knowledge and Intellectual Property Rights
- Human Resource Development and Capacity Building among the BIMSTEC Member States
- New Initiative, proposals and programmes for cooperation on Traditional Medicine among the BIMSTEC Task Force on Traditional Medicine.
Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) is international organisation involving a group of countries in the South Asia and South East Asia namely, Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, .Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal.
GS3 Topic: Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate
Bi-annual Naval Commanders’ Conference
Hon’ble Raksha Mantri complimented all personnel of the Indian Navy for securing the maritime interests of the nation.
- Regular deployment of ships, submarines and aircraft in all directions (South China Sea, Sea of Japan, Persian Gulf, the Atlantic Ocean and Australia shores)
- Deter piracy attempts off the Gulf of Aden.
- Participation in a number of bilateral exercises
- Success of the Exercise MALABAR with the US and the Japanese Navy.
- Lead taken by Indian Navy in indigenisation and self-reliance.
- Engagement with the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) littorals to build their capacities and enhance their capabilities through practical training of Naval personnel on regular basis
Issues to be addressed:
- Indian Navy is facing shortfalls in ship-borne multi-role helicopters, conventional submarines and mine counter measure vessels, which need urgent redressal.
- Govt and Industry should encourage development of equipment and systems in India and to reduce import dependence in the Defence sector.
- Goa Maritime Conclave -Institutionalising a full-fledged regional-forum to help find collective solutions to matters maritime in the IOR and facilitate projection of India’s and Indian Navy’s strategic and operational vision to a wider regional and global audience through
- MILAN 2018 at Port Blair early next year would be an excellent forum to get the littoral Navies on a common platform to discuss regional maritime issues and security challenges.
Indian Ocean Region (IOR):
The IOR, a large maritime area that extends from coastal Africa through the Middle East and South Asia and on to Australia, is a major conduit for global trade, a littoral zone of developing powers.
Indian Navy – to be strong at sea, and be ever ready and vigilant to counter any challenges in the maritime domain.Maritime interests of a nation have a vital relationship with its economic growth and these shall be protected at all costs by ensuring a strong and credible Indian Navy.
GS3 Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
International Conference on Consumer Protection
PM inaugurates International Conference on Consumer Protection for East, South and South-East Asian Countries with the theme of “Empowering Consumers in New Markets” in New Delhi
- International Conference on Consumer Protection is being organised by the Department of Consumer Affairs, Government of India in association with UNCTAD.
- This is the first time an international conference on consumer protection is being organised by India for 22 countries from East, South and South-East Asia which account for a majority of the global consumers and share common challenges and experiences.
New Consumer Protection Bill:
- Main Objective is to Protect the rights of the consumers.
- It will replace the Consumer Protection Act of 1986 by incorporating the amended 2015 UN guidelines on consumer protection.
- It proposes to have Consumer Dispute Redressal Commissions, which will be set up at the district, state and national levels
- Central Consumer Protection Authority with executive powers will be constituted for quick remedial action.
- New BIS Act with specific emphasis on Hallmarking Scheme for ornaments.
- Provision of high quality ICT infrastructure at affordable prices
- Consumer safety from hazardous goods, complete disclosure of all information for guidance of consumers
- Regulations against identity theft and provision for data privacy protection.
- crack down on misleading advertisements
Some Measures Taken:
- Increased competition among companies due to the GST will lead to moderation in prices and this will directly benefit poor and middle class consumers.
- Bureau of Indian Standard Act – commodity or service is brought under compulsory certification. The Act has provisions to order recall of substandard products from the market.
- Ujala scheme – use of energy-efficient LED bulbs has not just brought down their prices but also helped save Rs. 20,000 crore in electricity bills
- Jan Aushadhi Pariyojna – affordable medicines to people, brought down prices of life-saving heart stent implants as well as knee implants
- “Give it up’ campaign under which more than one crore beneficiaries surrendered their LPG subsidy. The saved subsidy amount have been used to give free gas connections to 3 crore households
- Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) Scheme transferred transferring the money directly into the beneficiaries’ prevented leakage of more than Rs. 57,000 crores.
- Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act has been enacted to protect home buyers and the government is working to achieve the target of housing for all by 2022.
United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) was established in 1964. UNCTAD is the principal organ of the United Nations General Assembly dealing with trade, investment, and development issues. The primary objective of UNCTAD is to formulate policies relating to all aspects of development including trade, aid, transport, finance and technology. The conference ordinarily meets once in four years; the permanent secretariat is in Geneva.
Source: the hindu
GS3 Topic: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc
India has to spend 50 lakh crore on infra – CRISIL
Infrastructure investment in India is estimated to have risen to Rs 37 lakh crore or 5.6% of GDP between fiscals 2013 and 2017. India needs to spend at least Rs 50 lakh crore between over the next five years or close to Rs 3000 crore a day to build its infrastructure sustainably.
- Investments by the private sector and states are likely to remain subdued in the near term.
- Weak project preparation
- Poorly structured contracts with inappropriate risk allocation
- Irrational bidding exuberance
- Over reliance on bank-led financing leading to deeply indebted developers and gargantuan stressed assets in banking.
- The takeover of distribution utility losses under the Ujjwal Discom Assurance Yojana (UDAY) and the recent agri-loan waivers have further strained state finances.
Measures to be taken:
- To resolve the issue of non-performing assets NPAs
- To revive stalled projects
- To facilitate easier exits
- Front-ending of bankable projects
- Comprehensive retooling of public-private partnership frameworks – introduce calibrated public-private partnership (PPP) models such as hybrid annuity and toll-operate-transfer in highway
- Deepening of the infrastructure financing ecosystem.
- Crisil launched it infrastructure investability index that tracks, measures and assesses the development, maturity and investment attractiveness of infrastructure sectors.
- The index is based on four parameters – policy direction, institutional strength and regulatory maturity, financial sustainability, and implementation ease.
- Being an ascending scale, a score of 1 reflects least investment attractiveness and maturity, and a score of 10 highest investment attractiveness and maturity.
- The Crisil InfraInvex scores for 2017 show that the power transmission sector in India is the most attractive to invest in currently, followed by roads & highways, and renewable energy. The urban sector, which is the least attractive right now.
Source: the hindu, economic times
GS2 Topic: India and its neighborhood- relations.
India, Sri Lanka ink housing project deal in Hambantota
Sri Lanka signed an agreement with India to build 1,200 houses in the southern port city- Hambantota. Of the 1,200 houses to be built, 600 will be constructed in the Southern Province, while the remaining would be built across Sri Lanka, through one model village in each of the country’s 25 districts.
The coastal city of Hambantota gained strategic significance after President Rajapaksa built a massive port and an airport with huge Chinese loans. In July this year, his successor government sold a majority stake of the port to China to service an outstanding $8-billion debt it owes China, fanning concerns of countries with competing strategic interests, particularly India and the U.S. Local residents protested the selling of “national assets to foreign entities” leading to violent clashes.
- Hambantota is right in the middle of vital energy supply lines in the Indian Ocean, connecting the Middle East and East Asia
- The signing of the MoU in Hambantota assumes significance not only in its timing, but also in taking India’s housing project to the Sinhala-majority Southern Province.
- India has been taking steps to protect itself in the Indian Ocean by allying itself with the United States and Japan in a clear bid to counter growing Chinese influence
Hambantota is the main town in Hambantota District, Southern Province, Sri Lanka. This underdeveloped area was hit hard by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and is underwent a number of major development projects including the construction of a new sea port and international airport.
Source: the hindu
GS2 Topic: India and its neighborhood- relations.
Do Not Deny Food To The Poor Due To Absence Of Aadhaar Says Center To States
As per the National Food Security Act, the States have been given time till December to link Aadhaar with ration cards. However the deadline for mandatory linking of Aadhaar for benefits of government schemes would be extended till March 31 next for those who do not have the biometric identification number. So far, 82% of the ration cards have been seeded with Aadhaar.
The instruction was issued this week to all the States, after an 11-year-old Jharkhand girl allegedly died of starvation recently after she was denied PDS rations.
- Union Food Ministry clarified that deletion from the ration card database could happen only after a proper verification of the ration card holder establishes “beyond reasonable doubt” that an entry pertaining to the said ration card holder is not genuine.
- Until Aadhaar is assigned to the beneficiary, subsidised foodgrains will have to be given on production of ration card, enrolment slip and other stipulated documents.
- Even in the case of failure of biometric authentication due to a glitch or poor biometric quality, the beneficiary will have to be given the benefits on production of Aadhaar card along with the ration card.
- The States and the Union Territories will have to provide Aadhaar enrolment facilities to those without Aadhaar and link their Aadhaar numbers with ration cards
Source: the hindu
GS3 Topic: Security and related issues
RUSSIAN TEAM IN VIZAG TO INSPECT DAMAGED SUBMARINE
A Russian technical team is in Vizag for a joint investigation into the mysterious damage suffered by INS Chakra, the nuclear submarine leased to India in 2011,
- Russia had leased the submarine to India for a 10-year period in 2011. There has been a speculation that the submarine met with an accident while negotiating the narrow channel to enter the harbour.
- Sources say nuclear reactor on INS Chakra is intact; Russia not fully convinced of Indian findings. Damage to the submarine was not very serious, and did not impact the nuclear reactor, because it was all contained to the outer hull.
- INS Chakra is a Russia-made, nuclear-propelled, hunter-killer submarine.
- The Akula class submarine is an SSN, and is to provide escort to INS Arihant, the indigenously constructed ballistic missile submarine that would carry nuclear missiles.
- INS Chakra has been taken on lease from Russia for 10 years to provide the Navy the opportunity to train personnel and operate such nuclear-powered vessels.
India is already engaged in negotiations for the second nuclear submarine from Russia, which could join service when INS Chakra returns after its 10-year lease.
Source: the hindu
GS2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Rajasthan passes bill increasing OBC quota to 26%
With the Rajasthan Special Backward Classes Act 2015, the state government had moved the five castes from OBC into a separate Special Backward Castes category. The Rajasthan High Court last year struck down five per cent reservation for these castes provided through The Rajasthan Special Backward Classes Act, 2015, pointing out flaws in the government’s process of granting reservation. Following an agitation by Gujjars, the Bharatiya Janata Party government had assured them that the revised OBC quota would be split to grant 5% quota to the “most backward classes.
- The reservation in Rajasthan now stands at 54 per cent defying the set ceiling of 50 per cent by the Supreme Court.
- The Bill created a new “most backward” category within the OBCs for providing the quota benefit to Gujjars and four other nomadic communities.
- The Backward Classes (Reservation of Seats in Educational Institutions in the State and of Appointment and Posts in Services under the State) Bill, 2017, has provided 5% reservation to the Gujjar, Banjara, Gadia-Lohar, Raika and Gadariya communities
- State debates in favour of the Bill saying that the reservation had been enhanced in proportion to the increase in the State’s OBC population, which was “legally permissible”.
Source: the hindu
Facts for Prelims:
- India’s passport was ranked 75th among 94 countries in recently released Global Passport Power Rank 2017. Singapore has world’s most powerful passport, making it first Asian country to top it. Singapore is followed by Germany, Sweden and South Korea.
- The Global Passport Power Rank is released by Canada based global financial advisory firm Arton Capital.
- It has become most popular interactive online tool to display, sort and rank world’s passports.
- The index ranks national passports by cross-border access they bring, assigning visa-free score according to number of countries passport holder can visit visa-free or with visa on arrival.
- Special Centre for Disaster Research was inaugurated at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) by Ministry of state for home affairs
- An ancient human skull discovered in Papua New Guinea likely belonged to the world’s oldest-known tsunami victim. The partially preserved Aitape Skull was discovered in 1929 from the northern coast of the Pacific nation. This work reinforces a growing recognition that tsunamis have had a significant influence on coastal populations throughout Pacific prehistory.
- Scientists from Florida State University, US – have developed new tool for objectively defining onset and demise of Indian Summer Monsoon (ISM) . The new method uses rainfall rates to mark span of ISM at any given location. The new system ties onset of monsoon to location-specific rainfall thresholds and can work to clear confusion and frustration due to lack of clear, granular and objective benchmark for ISM onset and demise for all areas of country.
- Vigilance Awareness Week to be observed from 30th October to 4th November, 2017 with theme “My Vision-Corruption Free India”.
- Purpose of observing Vigilance Awareness Week is to educate the public at large about the corruption related practices and also educating them how to report about it.
- Activities to be conducted within the organisation include taking of Integrity Pledge by all employees, distribution of pamphlets/handouts on preventive vigilance activities, whistle blower mechanism and other anti-corruption measures, conducting workshops and sensitization programmes for employees and other stake holders on policies/procedures of the organization and preventive vigilance measures
- “Awareness Gram Sabhas” are being organized for dissemination of awareness in Gram Panchayats (in rural and semi-urban areas) to sensitise citizens on the ill-effects of corruption.
- A new feature is the establishment of ‘Integrity Clubs’ in schools and colleges as children are the future assets of the country and it is important to cultivate moral values in them.
- In a major boost to coastal shipping, the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) has received Rs 25 crore from the government for development of coastal berth and another Rs 50 crore to the Karwar port in Karnataka under the Coastal Berth Scheme of its flagship Sagarmala project.
- Sagar Mala project is a strategic and customer-oriented initiative of the Government of India to modernize India’s Ports so that port-led development can be augmented and coastlines can be developed to contribute in India’s growth.
- The Coastal Berth Scheme aims to provide financial support to ports or state governments for the creation of infrastructure for movement of cargo and passenger by sea or national waterways.