Insights Daily Current Affairs, 29 November 2017
GS Paper 2:
Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC)
A tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was recently signed between National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) and Tourism and Hospitality Sector Skill Council (THSC) with Airbnb, the world’s leading community-driven hospitality company. The MoU will provide hospitality skills training to hospitality micro-entrepreneurs in India.
- Building on Airbnb’s commitment to support Skill India Mission by creating 50,000 hospitality entrepreneurs in India, the MoU signed aims to empower more citizens, including those in rural and underserved areas to join the ‘alternate accommodation’ sector and pursue new livelihood opportunities by sharing their homes.
- The signing of MoU is in line with the Government’s endeavor to promote entreprenuership under the Government’s Skill India Programme. NSDC is the implementation arm of Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship.
What is it? The National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) is a one-of-its-kind, Public Private Partnership (PPP) model in India, under the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE). A not-for-profit company set up by the Ministry of Finance, under Section 25 of the Companies Act, it has an equity base of Rs.10 crore, of which the Government of India holds for 49%, while the private sector has the balance 51%.
It aims to promote skill development by catalyzing creation of large, quality and for-profit vocational institutions.
Functions: NSDC provides funding to build scalable and profitable vocational training initiatives. Its mandate is also to enable support system which focuses on quality assurance, information systems and train the trainer academies either directly or through partnerships. NSDC acts as a catalyst in skill development by providing funding to enterprises, companies and organisations that provide skill training. It will also develop appropriate models to enhance, support and coordinate private sector initiatives.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
India Hypertension Management Initiative (IHMI)
Context: India Hypertension Management Initiative (IHMI) was recently launched.
What is it?
The India Hypertension Management Initiative (IHMI) is a collaborative project of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), State Governments, World Health Organization (WHO), and Resolve to Save Lives initiative of Vital Strategies.
The IHMI aims to reduce disability and death related to cardiovascular disease (CVD), the leading cause of death in India, by improving the control of high blood pressure (hypertension), reducing salt consumption and eliminating artificial trans-fats, leading risk factors for CVD.
The IHMI is focused on five essential components of scalable treatment of hypertension. It will support the adoption of standardized simplified treatment plans for managing high blood pressure, ensure the regular and uninterrupted supply of quality-assured medications, task sharing so health workers who are accessible to patients can distribute medications already prescribed by the medical officer, and patient-centered services that reduce the barriers to treatment adherence.
Around 200 million adults in India have high blood pressure, yet control rates for the condition remain low. Studies suggest that in rural areas in India, only one quarter of people with hypertension are aware of their condition, and only around 10% have their blood pressure controlled. In urban areas, around 40% of people with hypertension are aware of their condition, and only around 20% have their blood pressure controlled.
Creating awareness about NCDs is vital as it is a silent disease. There is urgent need to raise awareness about NCDs amongst families regarding packaged food and processed foods with excessive salt and trans-fat.
Topic: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
Meeting of Asia and Pacific Decade for Persons with Disabilities
The High Level Inter-Governmental Mid-Point review meeting of Asia and Pacific Decade for Persons with Disabilities, 2013-2022 is being held in Beijing. A number of countries in the Asia-Pacific region are participating and will finalise a Declaration which will address the gaps and challenges in empowerment and inclusion of persons with disabilities.
The main objective of the meeting is to review the progress made by the member States during the Decade at the mid-point in 2017 with regard to Incheon Strategy ‘to make the right real’ for persons with disabilities in Asia and Pacific.
Another objective of the meeting is to discuss the future policy action for building disabilities-inclusive societies in the region, bearing in mind the synergies between the Incheon Strategy and 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
What is Incheon strategy?
The Incheon Strategy to “Make the Right Real” for Persons with Disabilities in Asia and the Pacific provides the Asian and Pacific region, and the world, with the first set of regionally agreed disability-inclusive development goals.
The Incheon Strategy goals cover a range of development areas from poverty reduction and employment to political participation, accessibility, social protection, education, gender equality, disaster risk reduction, data collection, CRPD ratification and international cooperation. To ensure that the 10 goals are successfully met, the Strategy identifies 27 targets as well as 62 related indicators for monitoring and evaluating the implementation of the 10 goals. These targets and indicators are essential for developing practical implementation strategies, ensuring success and identifying areas where significant challenges remain.
The ESCAP secretariat is mandated to report every three years until the end of the Decade in 2022, on progress in the implementation of the Ministerial Declaration and the Incheon Strategy.
The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) is the regional development arm of the United Nations for the Asia-Pacific region.
- Made up of 53 Member States and 9 Associate Members, with a geographical scope that stretches from Turkey in the west to the Pacific island nation of Kiribati in the east, and from the Russian Federation in the north to New Zealand in the south, the region is home to 4.1 billion people, or two thirds of the world’s population. This makes ESCAP the most comprehensive of the United Nations five regional commissions, and the largest United Nations body serving the Asia-Pacific region with over 600 staff.
- Established in 1947 with its headquarters in Bangkok, Thailand, ESCAP works to overcome some of the region’s greatest challenges by providing results oriented projects, technical assistance and capacity building to member States.
Topic: India and its neighbourhood- relations.
Context: Iran is all set to inaugurate the first phase of the Chabahar port development project. The first phase of work on Chabahar port has been completed. The development assumes significance since India’s outreach through Iran is taking place at a time the Donald Trump administration is planning to corner Tehran through diplomatic and economic means.
Where is Chabahar port?
Iran’s Chabahar port is located on the Gulf of Oman and is the only oceanic port of the country. The port gives access to the energy-rich Persian Gulf nations’ southern coast and India can bypass Pakistan with the Chabahar port becoming functional.
Why Chabahar port is crucial for India?
- The first and foremost significance of the Chabahar port is the fact that India can bypass Pakistan in transporting goods to Afghanistan. Chabahar port will boost India’s access to Iran, the key gateway to the International North-South Transport Corridor that has sea, rail and road routes between India, Russia, Iran, Europe and Central Asia.
- Chabahar port will be beneficial to India in countering Chinese presence in the Arabian Sea which China is trying to ensure by helping Pakistan develop the Gwadar port. Gwadar port is less than 400 km from Chabahar by road and 100 km by sea.
- With Chabahar port being developed and operated by India, Iran also becomes a military ally to India. Chabahar could be used in case China decides to flex its navy muscles by stationing ships in Gwadar port to reckon its upper hand in the Indian Ocean, Persian Gulf and Middle East.
- With Chabahar port becoming functional, there will be a significant boost in the import of iron ore, sugar and rice to India. The import cost of oil to India will also see a considerable decline. India has already increased its crude purchase from Iran since the West imposed ban on Iran was lifted.
- Chabahar port will ensure in the establishment of a politically sustainable connectivity between India and Afghanistan. This is will, in turn, lead to better economic ties between the two countries.
- From a diplomatic perspective, Chabahar port could be used as a point from where humanitarian operations could be coordinated.
The inauguration of the port will effectively pave the way for India to carry forward the next phase of construction and development of two berths for its use, particularly for trade with Afghanistan. Next, the government, which has committed $500 million to the port project, will develop a free-trade area around the port, and finally will complete the loop with a $1.6-billion railway line to Zahedan.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.
International Maritime Organization
Georgia’s Permanent Representative to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has been elected as the Vice President of the IMO Assembly. Tamar Beruchashvili, who also is Georgia’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom, was elected to the role at the recently held Assembly’s 30th session.
The International Maritime Organization – is the United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships.
- It has 171 Member States and three Associate Members.
- The IMO’s primary purpose is to develop and maintain a comprehensive regulatory framework for shipping and its remit today includes safety, environmental concerns, legal matters, technical co-operation, maritime security and the efficiency of shipping.
- IMO is governed by an assembly of members and is financially administered by a council of members elected from the assembly.
- The IMO’s structure comprises the Assembly, the Council, the Maritime Safety Committee, the Marine Environment Protection Committee, the Legal Committee, the Technical Cooperation Committee, and the secretariat, headed by a Secretary-General.
The IMO Council acts as the IMO’s Governing Body. It has a crucial role to play in deciding various matters in relation to the global shipping industry, including its work programme strategy and budget.
- Members of the Council consist of 40 member states, elected by its Assembly including 10 members in category A with the largest interest in providing international shipping services; 10 members in category B with the largest interest in international seaborne trade and 20 members in category C with special interests in maritime transport or navigation.
- India has been one of the earliest members of the IMO, having ratified its Convention and joined it as a member-state in the year 1959.
Sources: the hindu.
GS Paper 3:
Topic: growth, development and employment.
GES 2017 in Hyderabad
The 8th edition of the Global Entrepreneurship summit (GES) was recently held in Hyderabad. It was hosted by NITI Aayog in partnership with US government. The summit was attended by 1,500 entrepreneurs from 170 countries.
GES 2017 Theme:
“Women First, Prosperity for All”.
About the summit:
The summit organised annually since 2010, is the preeminent annual entrepreneurship gathering that convenes over one thousand emerging entrepreneurs, investors, and supporters from around the world.
This year marks the first GES held in South Asia, and the event underscores the broad and enduring partnership with India. The summit will focus on four key industry sectors: Energy and Infrastructure, Healthcare and Life Sciences, Financial Technology and Digital Economy, and Media and Entertainment.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Infrastructure: Energy.
The Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana (SAUBHAGYA) has been launched in Manipur. A total of approximately 1.75 lakh households (1.62 lakh rural households and 0.13 lakh urban households) of Manipur are proposed to be included under the Scheme.
About Saubhagya Scheme:
The scheme called Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana –“Saubhagya” was launched in September 2017 to ensure electrification of all willing households in the country in rural as well as urban areas.
- The total outlay of the project is Rs. 16, 320 crore while the Gross Budgetary Support (GBS) is Rs. 12,320 crore.
- The States and Union Territories are required to complete the works of household electrification by the 31st of December 2018.
- The beneficiaries for free electricity connections would be identified using Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC) 2011 data. However, un-electrified households not covered under the SECC data would also be provided electricity connections under the scheme on payment of Rs. 500 which shall be recovered by DISCOMs in 10 instalments through electricity bill.
- The Rural Electrification Corporation Limited (REC) will remain the nodal agency for the operationalisation of the scheme throughout the country.
The expected outcome of the Scheme is as follows:
- Environmental upgradation by substitution of Kerosene for lighting purposes.
- Improvement education services.
- Better health services.
- Enhanced connectivity through radio, television, mobiles, etc.
- Increased economic activities and jobs.
- Improved quality of life especially for women.
Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has come out in strong support of Net neutrality in a series of recommendations following a long process of consultations on the issue.
The recommendations assume international significance in the heated globe-spanning debate, with the United States’ Federal Communications Commission expected to remove existing guidelines ensuring net neutrality come December.
Highlights of the recommendations made by the TRAI:
- Amplify licensing terms” to provide “explicit restrictions on any sort of discrimination in Internet access based on the content being accessed, the protocols being used or the user equipment being deployed”.
- Internet service providers (ISP) should be restricted “from entering into any agreement, arrangement or contract” that would have the effect of discriminatory treatment — in this case, any form of restriction or interference in the treatment of content, including practices like blocking, degrading, slowing down or granting preferential speeds or treatment to any content.
- Internet access services should be governed by a principle that restricts any form of discrimination or interference in the treatment of content. However, the scope of the provisions only applies “specifically to Internet Access Services, which are generally available to the public.”
- Specialised services — which are “optimized for specific content, protocols or user equipment where optimization is necessary to meet the quality of service requirements” should be exempt from the principles of discriminatory treatment.
- Trai has also brought in Internet of Things (IoT) enabled services also under the ambit of these restrictions, with a caveat that critical IoT services, identified by Department of Telecom (DoT) and coming under specialised services, will be automatically exempt.
- If a telecom operator is implementing any traffic management practice — whenever it happens — TRAI has recommended these instances to be openly declared and even intimated to users directly getting impacted by such restrictions, whatever their cause.
- A multi-stakeholder body to monitor and investigate violations should be formed, comprising members from different categories of service or videos, content providers, research and academia, civil society organisations and consumer representatives.
So, what is Net neutrality?
Net neutrality is an interpretive concept. The term was coined by Tim Wu — an American lawyer and presently a professor at the Columbia University. He views the notion of Net neutrality as signifying an Internet that does not favour any one application over another. In other words, the idea is to ensure that Internet service providers do not discriminate content by either charging a fee for acting as its carrier or by incorporating any technical qualifications.
Proponents of the principle of net neutrality hold that all traffic on the Internet should be treated equally or in other words, service providers such as Airtel should allow access to all content without favouring any particular product or website.
Sources: the hindu.