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Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 05 November 2019


Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 05 November 2019


 

Table of contents:

 

GS Paper 2:

  1. Skills Build Platform.
  2. Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
  3. Agreement on Reciprocal Logistics Support (ARLS).

 

GS Paper 3:

  1. NBFC liquidity norms.
  2. Navic.

 

Facts for prelims:

  1. ICEDASH and ATITHI for improved customs clearance.
  2. Polypedates bengalensis.

 


 

GS Paper 2:

 

Topics Covered:

Development processes and the development industry the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders

 

Skills Build Platform

 

What to study?

For Prelims and mains: Key features and significance of the programme.

 

Context: Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship launches Skills Build platform in Collaboration with IBM.

 

Key facts:

  • Launched by Directorate General of Training (DGT), under the aegis of Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE).
  • As part of the programme, a two-year advanced diploma in IT, networking and cloud computing, co-created and designed by IBM, will be offered at the Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) & National Skill Training Institutes (NSTIs).
  • The platform will be extended to train ITI & NSTI faculty on building skills in Artificial Intelligence (AI).

 

Significance of the programme:

  • The digital platform will provide a personal assessment of the cognitive capabilities and personality via MyInnerGenius to the students.
  • They will then learn foundational knowledge about digital technologies, as well as professional skills such as resume-writing, problem solving and communication.
  • Students will also receive recommendations on role-based education for specific jobs that include technical and professional learning. 
  • This initiative is part of IBM’s global commitment to create a job-ready workforce and to build the next generation of skills needed for new collar careers.

 

Sources: pib.


Topics Covered:

Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

 

Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)

 

What to study?

For Prelims: Key features of RCEP.

For Mains: Why India refused to sign?

 

Context: In the recently held Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Summit in Thailand, India decided not to finalize the RCEP trade deal.

India has expressed its concerns over lowering and elimination of tariffs on products from other countries, as it would negatively affect the domestic agricultural and industrial sector.

Why India didn’t sign?

  1. Domestic industry and dairy farmers had strong reservations about the trade pact.
  2. India’s trade deficit with the RCEP nations is $105 billion, of which China alone accounts for $54 billion.
  3. The worry is also over Chinese manufactured goods and dairy products from New Zealand flooding Indian markets, hurting domestic interests.
  4. The trade agreement was also seen as being detrimental to the government’s Make in India initiative. 
    India was looking for specific rules of origin to ensure the trade pact wasn’t abused by non-partner countries and an auto-trigger mechanism to protect it from a surge in imports. 
    Ecommerce and trade remedies were among other key areas of concern that failed to find satisfactory redressal.
  5. India was also worried about keeping 2014 as the base year for tariff reductions. 

 

Why Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) called for signing of RCEP?

Trade within RCEP nations would increase. And India can leverage advantage in areas such as ICT, IT- enabled services, healthcare and education services.

It also provides an opportunity for India to tap large and vibrant economies and increase its exports. As the RCEP progresses and favourable tariffs and Rules of Origin (ROOs) kick in, India could become a major hub for coordinating regional value chains through itself.

India could serve not only as a major market for final markets but also as a base for third-country exports, primarily to West Asia, Africa and Europe.

 

Why farmers were opposed to this?

Trade tariffs: Farmers fear that the RCEP will permanently bring down import duties on most agricultural commodities to zero which will lead to countries looking to dump their agricultural produce in India which would lead to a drastic drop in prices.

This will aggravate the agrarian crisis even as the input prices in India are heavily taxed and farmers are not given profitable prices, resulting in substantial losses and farmer debts.

The dairy sector and plantations sector are going to be hit very hard. It is because New Zealand and Australia being part of RCEP will invariably lead to the dumping of their dairy products into India.

The southeast Asian countries have larger and cheaper production of plantation crops like rubber, coconut, palm oil as compared to India and opening up of the markets will lead to a large inflow of these products given their price competitiveness.

The IPR clauses are likely to seriously impinge on farmers’ seed freedoms. Seed companies will get more powers to protect their Intellectual Property Rights, and farmers would be criminalized when they save and exchange seeds.

India’s food sovereignty would be at stake. Opening up of the markets will lead to dependence on foreign imports. Any differences in the future might impact the food import supply.

 

What is the RCEP?

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership is a free trade agreement originally devised to consist of 16 countries across the Asia-Pacific region. The pact looks to drop tariffs and duties between the members so that goods and services can flow freely between them.

At the RCEP’s administrative core is ASEAN: an intergovernmental grouping of 10 Southeast Asian countries – Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. It was proposed that the ASEAN bloc will be joined with six dialogue partners: China, Japan, India, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


Topics Covered:

Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

 

Agreement on Reciprocal Logistics Support (ARLS)

 

What to study?

For Prelims and mains: Key features, need for and significance of ARLS.

 

Context: India and Russia are finalising a defence agreement that will simplify interoperability and enable military platforms to receive support and supplies across bases in both nations- Agreement on Reciprocal Logistics Support (ARLS).

 

What is Agreement on Reciprocal Logistics Support (ARLS)?

It is an arrangement that will allow access to India and Russia, to each other’s military facilities for supplies and fuel, expanding the logistics support and operational turnaround of the Indian military.

 

Benefits and mutual significance:

  1. This will be beneficial for the Indian Navy, which has a large number of Russian origin ships, that will get access to Russian ports for supplies and refueling. It would be crucial for joint exercises.
  2. The air force too will benefit by finding it easier to deploy aircraft for the same purpose.
  3. This access will also be for ports in the Russian part of the Arctic, allowing access to energy resources there.
  4. Russia, on the other hand, will be able to access Indian ports and air bases.
  5. Russia has also assured India access to energy resources in the vast Arctic region.

 

Sources: the Hindu.

 


GS Paper 3:

 

Topics Covered:

Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.

 

NBFC liquidity norms

 

What to study?

For Prelims: about the new norms.

For Mains: Need for and significance of these norms.

 

Context: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has introduced ‘liquidity management framework’ for Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs).

The guidelines are applicable to all non deposit-taking NBFCs with an asset size of ₹100 crore and above, systemically important Core Investment Companies and all deposit-taking NBFCs irrespective of their asset size.

 

Why this was necessary?

This has come following liquidity crunch among some NBFCs in meeting their recent repayment obligations after the collapse of the Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services (IL&FS) group.

This was necessary to strengthen their asset-liability management following the liquidity crisis faced by these firms in the past year.

 

What’s changed?

Specific cap on negative asset liability mismatches for particular liquidity buckets.

NBFCs are mandated to maintain liquidity coverage ratios (LCR). LCR will promote resilience of NBFCs to potential liquidity disruptions by ensuring that they have sufficient High Quality Liquid Assets (HQLA) to survive any acute liquidity stress scenario lasting for 30 days.

Net cumulative mismatches for 1-7 days, 8-14 days, and 15-30 days shall not exceed 10%, 10% and 20% of the cumulative cash outflows in the respective time buckets.

NBFCs should monitor their cumulative mismatches [running total] across all other time buckets up to one year by establishing internal prudential limits with the approval of the board.

Binding: The LCR requirement will be binding on NBFCs from December 1, 2020, with the minimum HQLAs to be held being 50% of the LCR, progressively reaching up to the required level of 100% by December 1, 2024.

Exemption LCR norms: Core Investment Companies, Type 1 NBFC-NDs, Non-Operating Financial Holding Companies and Standalone Primary Dealers.

 

Who is to blame for the non-bank lending sector crisis?

NBFC crisis is being held up as one of the culprits of the current slowdown.

There is a near consensus that this crisis was triggered by the collapse of Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services Ltd (IL&FS) and the unfolding of the problems of Dewan Housing Finance Corporation Ltd (DHFL).

Besides, Raising capital adequacy limits and liquidity margins for NBFCs might have tempered their profitability and hurt their valuations.

 

Facts for prelims:

High Quality Liquid Assets (HQLAs) mean liquid assets that can be readily sold or immediately converted into cash at little or no loss of value, or used as collateral to obtain funds in a range of stress scenarios. 

Type I – NBFC-ND (non-deposit taking) entities are those which do not accept public funds and do not have customer interface and do not intend to engage in such activities.

LCR refers to the proportion of highly liquid assets held by companies to ensure their ongoing ability to meet short-term obligations.

 

Sources: the Hindu.

 


Topics covered:

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.

Indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

 

Navic

 

What to study?

For Prelims: Navic and its key features.

For Mains: Significance, applications and potential of Navic.

 

Context: Antrix, the commercial arm of ISRO has recently floated two separate tenders to identify industries that can develop dedicated NavIC-based hardware and systems.

 

What is NAVIC?

Navigation with Indian Constellation (NavIC) is an independent regional navigation satellite system designed to provide position information in the Indian region and 1500 km around the Indian mainland.

 

Services provided:

IRNSS would provide two types of services, namely Standard Positioning Services available to all users and Restricted Services provided to authorised users.

 

Its applications include:

  1. Terrestrial, Aerial and Marine Navigation.
  2. Disaster Management.
  3. Vehicle tracking and fleet management.
  4. Integration with mobile phones.
  5. Precise Timing.
  6. Mapping and Geodetic data capture.
  7. Terrestrial navigation aid for hikers and travellers.
  8. Visual and voice navigation for drivers.

 

How many satellites does NAVIC consist of? 

It is a regional system and so its constellation will consist of seven satellites. Three of these will be geostationary over the Indian Ocean, i.e., they will appear to be stationary in the sky over the region, and four will be geosynchronous – appearing at the same point in the sky at the same time every day. This configuration ensures each satellite is being tracked by at least one of fourteen ground stations at any given point of time, with a high chance of most of them being visible from any point in India.

 

Why it is necessary to have indigenous global navigation system?

Having a global navigation system bolsters the ability of a nation to serve as a net security provider, especially through the guarantee of such assurance policies. It can also play a significant role in relief efforts post disasters such as the tsunami in the Indian Ocean region in 2004 and the Pakistan-India earthquake in 2005.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


 

Facts for prelims:

 

ICEDASH and ATITHI for improved customs clearance:

Two new IT Initiatives – ICEDASH and ATITHI have been launched for improved monitoring and pace of customs clearance of imported goods and facilitating arriving international passengers.

  1. ICEDASH is an Ease of Doing Business monitoring dashboard of the Indian Customs helping the public see the daily Customs clearance times of import cargo at various ports and airports.
  2. ATITHI app will facilitate hassle-free and faster clearance by Customs at the airports and enhance the experience of international tourists and other visitors at the airports. 

 

Polypedates bengalensis:

  • It is a newly discovered frog species from West Bengal.
  • Also known as the Brown Blotched Bengal Tree Frog
  • It belongs to the genus Polypedates. There are 25 other Polypedates species round the world. Polypedates bengalensis is the 26th.
  • The frog’s body colour is yellowish-brown to greenish-brown.