Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 24 June 2019
Relevant articles from PIB:
What to study?
For prelims and mains: CSCs- establishments, need, functioning and significance.
Context: NSIC signs MoU with Commom Service Centres– eGovernance Services India for enhancing new offerings for the MSME sector.
What are CSCs?
Common Services Centers (CSCs) are a strategic cornerstone of the Digital India programme. They are the access points for delivery of various electronic services to villages in India, thereby contributing to a digitally and financially inclusive society.
They are multiple-services-single-point model for providing facilities for multiple transactions at a single geographical location. They are the access points for delivery of essential public utility services, social welfare schemes, healthcare, financial, education and agriculture services, apart from host of B2C services to citizens in rural and remote areas of the country.
CSCs enable the three vision areas of the Digital India programme:
- Digital infrastructure as a core utility to every citizen.
- Governance and services on demand.
- Digital empowerment of citizens.
Significance of CSCs:
CSCs are more than service delivery points in rural India. They are positioned as change agents, promoting rural entrepreneurship and building rural capacities and livelihoods. They are enablers of community participation and collective action for engendering social change through a bottom-up approach with key focus on the rural citizen.
- The CSC project, which forms a strategic component of the National eGovernance Plan was approved by the Government in May 2006, as part of its commitment in the National Common Minimum Programme to introduce e-governance on a massive scale.
- It is also one of the approved projects under the Integrated Mission Mode Projects of the National eGovernance Plan.
CSC 2.0 Scheme:
Based on the assessment of CSC scheme, the Government launched the CSC 2.0 scheme in 2015 to expand the outreach of CSCs to all Gram Panchayats across the country. Under CSC 2.0 scheme, at least one CSC will be set up in each of the 2.5 lakh GPs across the country by 2019. CSCs functioning under the existing scheme will also be strengthened and integrated with additional 1.5 lakh CSCs across the country.
Relevant articles from various news sources:
- Issues related to infrastructure and roadways.
What to study?
For prelims and mains: key features, need for and significance of NFI.
Context: In its bid to bring transparency in the road-freight marketplace, Gurgaon-based tech-enabled logistics start-up Rivigo has launched National Freight Index (NFI) that will provide live freight rates for different lanes and vehicles across the country.
- This first-of-its-kind barometer of the road freight market in India is based on a Rivigo rate exchange.
- NFI gives a live spot rate on over 7 million lane and vehicle type combinations in the country.
- NFI offers an aggregated picture of both live rates and historical trends of spot price movements in the road freight industry.
- The index is represented in two main forms: In terms of actual freight rates condensed to INR per ton-km and in terms of relative movement with respect to a base month.
- Both the index and the exchange are based on Rivigo’s machine learning and economics powered pricing algorithms, which are continuously improving on accuracy.
- The rates on the exchange and index are computed using millions of data points from historical transactions, current market dynamics, micro market insights and other factors – with the ultimate purpose of giving a fair and precise representation of the state of the spot market in the country.
Significance and the need for NFI:
- In the existing logistics market structure, there are high inefficiencies due to information asymmetry, which leads to a great loss of value.
- NFI will enable unrestricted access and sharing of freight rate information. This will bring transparency in the market and propel the logistics sector towards efficiencies and growth.
The Indian road freight market for 2018 is estimated to be in the range of USD 150-160 billion. About USD 130-140 billion of this is the Full Truck Load (FTL) market. Within this, Rivigo estimates that the spot freight market is about USD 110-130 billion and is growing at 9%-10% per year.
Sources: the Hindu.
- Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.
What to study?
For Prelims: FATF, Grey list, G7.
For Mains: What is Grey list and Black list, how are countries in the list affected?
Context: Saudi Arabia has become the first Arab country to be granted full membership of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) following the group’s annual general meeting in the US.
- The kingdom’s accession came as the global money laundering watchdog celebrated the 30th anniversary of its first meeting held in Paris in 1989.
- Saudi Arabia had received an invitation from the FATF at the beginning of 2015 to join as an “observer member“.
What is it? The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is an inter-governmental body established in 1989 on the initiative of the G7. It is a “policy-making body” which works to generate the necessary political will to bring about national legislative and regulatory reforms in various areas. The FATF Secretariat is housed at the OECD headquarters in Paris.
Objectives: The objectives of the FATF are to set standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.
Functions: The FATF monitors the progress of its members in implementing necessary measures, reviews money laundering and terrorist financing techniques and counter-measures and promotes the adoption and implementation of appropriate measures globally. In collaboration with other international stakeholders, the FATF works to identify national-level vulnerabilities with the aim of protecting the international financial system from misuse.
What is blacklist and grey list?
FATF maintains two different lists of countries: those that have deficiencies in their AML/CTF regimes, but they commit to an action plan to address these loopholes, and those that do not end up doing enough. The former is commonly known as grey list and latter as blacklist.
Once a country is blacklisted, FATF calls on other countries to apply enhanced due diligence and counter measures, increasing the cost of doing business with the country and in some cases severing it altogether.
Sources: the Hindu.
- Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.
What to study?
For prelims and mains: Removal of High Court judges- procedure, constitutional provisions, issues associated and the need for relevant judicial reforms.
Context: Months after an in-house panel found an Allahabad High Court judge, Justice S.N. Shukla, guilty of misconduct, Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to initiate a motion for his removal.
Removal of Judges:
Article 124(4) and the Judges Inquiry Act 1968 determine the procedure of removal of the judges:
- A motion of impeachment addressed to the President is to be signed by at least 100 members of the Lok Sabha or 50 members of the Rajya Sabha and then delivered to the Speaker of Lok Sabha or the Chairman of Rajya Sabha.
- The motion is to be investigated by a Committee of 3 judges of the Supreme Court and a distinguished jurist.
- If the Committee finds the judge guilty of misbehavior or that he suffers from incapacity, the motion along with the report of the committee is taken up for consideration in the House where motion was moved.
- The judge is then removed by the requisite majority, i.e. majority of total and 2/3 of its members present and voting.
- A member of the higher judiciary, which means the Judges and Chief Justices of the Supreme Court of India and the state High Courts, can be removed from service only through the process of impeachment under Article 124 (4) of the Constitution.
- A judge is removable from his office, only on the grounds of proved misbehavior or incapacity.
- Parliament is empowered to regulate the procedure for the investigation and proof of such misbehavior or incapacity.
- A judge may be removed from his office only by an order of the president.
Issues present and the need for reforms:
- Method pursued by the legislature in the Act of 1968 falls abysmally short of the mark as the same makes judges susceptible to a political process of voting which may or may not impeach judges despite a 3-member committee holding the Judge guilty. Such an event is a travesty of natural justice as there is propensity for a ‘guilty’ judge to be let off on the whims of a political process of voting.
- Entire process concerns of a possibility of harming judicial independence. This stems from a possibility of Judges being harassed to toe the ideology of a party in majority or face their wrath in an impending motion of impeachment.
- The words “misbehaviour” or “incapacity” have neither been defined nor clarified in the Constitution.
- The process of removing a judge is too elaborate and somewhat cumbersome.
Sources: the Hindu.
Facts for Prelims:
DD Distributes Free Dish Set Top Boxes in J&K:
Context: Country’s national broadcaster Doordarshan has distributed Free Dish Set Top Boxes in Jammu and Kashmir. This Set Top Boxes will be provided free of cost and the audience will be able to view 100 channels for free in the state.
DD Free Dish is the biggest direct-to-home (DTH) operator in the country with 3.5 crore connections.
Odisha flood hazard atlas:
Context: Odisha has come out with a unique flood hazard atlas on the basis of historic flood inundation captured through satellite imagery over the period from 2001 to 2018, which is expected to help the State manage floods more efficiently.
Background: Vast areas of the State are inundated when there is flooding every year in major rivers, namely, the Mahanadi, Brahmani, Baitarani, Subarnarekha and Rushikulya. Some of the rivers like, the Vamsadhara and Budhabalanga, also cause flash floods due to instant run-off from their hilly catchments.
Centrally-controlled Air Traffic Flow Management (C-AFTM) system:
Context: Airports Authority of India (AAI) is working towards the implementation of a Centrally-controlled Air Traffic Flow Management (C-AFTM) system across country’s airspace and major airports, particularly those with high traffic density, in its bid to cut travel time for fliers.
What is it?
The new system would integrate data from airlines, airports and air-traffic agencies and inform airlines about the time planes will be parked at the destination airport well before departure.
The system is primarily meant to address the balancing of capacity against the demand to achieve optimum utilization of the major resources such as airport, airspace and aircraft at every Indian airport where there is a capacity constraint.
Device to trap ocean plastic relaunches:
A floating device designed to catch plastic waste has been redeployed in a second attempt to clean up an island of trash swirling in the Pacific Ocean between California and Hawaii.
It is part of the Ocean Cleanup Project.
Ocean currents concentrate plastic in five areas in the world: the subtropical gyres, also known as the world’s “ocean garbage patches”.
The Ocean Cleanup is a non-profit organization, developing advanced technologies to rid the world’s oceans of plastic.
Arogyapacha (Trichopus zeylanicus):
Context: Scientists from the University of Kerala have decoded the genetic make-up of Arogyapacha (Trichopus zeylanicus), a highly potent medicinal plant endemic to the Agasthya hills.
This ‘miracle plant’ is known for its traditional use by the Kani tribal community to combat fatigue.
Studies have also proved its varied spectrum of pharmacological properties such as anti-oxidant, aphrodisiac, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, anti-tumour, anti-ulcer, anti-hyperlipidemic, hepatoprotective and anti-diabetic.
Saudi launches residency scheme to boost revenue:
Saudi Arabia has launched a new special residency scheme aimed at luring wealthy expats as it seeks to boost non-oil revenue.
The scheme offers a permanent residency for 800,000 riyals ($213,000) and a one-year renewable residency costing 100,000 riyals ($27,000), according to the online portal for registrations.
The scheme will allow expats to do business without a Saudi sponsor, buy property and sponsor visas for relatives.
Nepalese nationals require visa to enter India via Pak, China:
Context: Nepalese nationals must hold a Indian visa if they are entering India from Pakistan, China, Hong Kong and Macau, according to a notice issued by the Nepalese Embassy in New Delhi. Similarly, Nepalese nationals travelling to Gulf countries, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain and Lebanon, are required to acquire a ‘no objection certificate’ from the respective Nepalese Embassies.
Summaries of important Editorials:
A stable planet: on World Population Prospects 2019 report:
Context: As per the report, India is projected to become the most populous country by 2027 surpassing China, and host 1.64 billion people by 2050; the world as a whole could be home to 8.5 billion people in just over a decade from now, and the number could go up to 9.7 billion by mid-century.
New challenges for India:
India will have a vast number of young people and insufficient natural resources left for exploitation.
At the national level, achieving a reduction in fertility rates in States such as Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh — which are high as per Sample Registration System data — is a challenge for India as it seeks to stabilise population growth.
Need of the hour:
Stabilise population numbers by raising the quality of life of people, and achieve sustainable development that will not destroy the environment.
State governments must singularly focus on improving education and health access for women, both of which will help them be gainfully employed.
A growing population of older adults is a certainty, and it opens up prospects for employment in many new services catering to them.
Urban facilities have to be reimagined, with an emphasis on access to good, affordable housing and mobility.
The progress in poverty reduction, greater equality, better nutrition, universal education and health care, needs state support and strong civil society institutions.
Making agriculture remunerative and keeping food prices stable are crucial to ensure nutrition for all.
Why South Asia must cooperate?
Significance of South Asia:
Covers only about 3.5% of the world’s land surface area but hosts a fourth of its population, making it a region of significant importance for international development.
- It is one of the world’s least integrated regions.
- Intra-regional trade is a meagre 5% of the total trade these countries do globally, while intra-regional investment is less than 1% of the region’s overall global investment.
- South Asia’s average GDP per capita is only about 9.64% of the global average. Accounting for more than 30% of the world’s poor, the region faces myriad economic and environmental challenges.
- While the countries share a host of common development challenges, economic cooperation remains less than adequate.
- Most South Asian countries have made good progress in ending extreme poverty, but they face persistent challenges to goals related to industry, innovation and infrastructure, zero hunger, gender equality, education, sustainable cities and communities and decent work and economic growth. Most of South Asia continues to be vulnerable to climate change and climate-induced natural disasters.
- The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), the platform for regional economic cooperation in this region, has become moribund and remains unsuccessful in promoting regional economic cooperation.
What needs to be done?
- A regional strategic approach to tackle common development challenges can bring enormous benefits to South Asia. SDGs related to energy, biodiversity, infrastructure, climate resilience and capacity development are transnational, and here policy harmonisation can play a pivotal role in reducing duplication and increasing efficiency.
- To address institutional and infrastructural deficits, South Asian countries need deeper regional cooperation.
- On financing the SDGs in South Asia, countries can work towards increasing the flow of intra-regional FDI. The private sector too can play a vital role in resource mobilisation.
While A few noteworthy regional initiatives such as the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) and the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) Initiative have been undertaken to bring the countries closer together, economically and socially, there is scope for much more. For a region with common development challenges of inequality, poverty, weak governance and poor infrastructure, a shared vision of attaining the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provides enormous opportunities for cooperation, collaboration, and convergence (3C).
If the countries of South Asia, the fastest growing region of the world, can come to a common understanding on regional integration and cooperation in achieving the SDGs, it can unleash a powerful synergistic force that can finally make South Asia converge. A convergence towards achieving a common socio-economic agenda gives hope that no one in South Asia will be left behind in the journey towards eradicating poverty and enduring dignity to all.