Table of Contents:
A. GS1 Related:
B. GS2 Related:
D. GS4 Related
Useful News Articles
A. GS1 Related
Nothing here today folks!
B. GS2 Related
Topic: India and Hungary
Category: International Relations
- Hungary has offered to “incentivise” Indian companies that might leave the U.K. as the European Union (EU) is unlikely to subsidise U.K.-based international companies for long in the wake of the Brexit referendum
- The Hungarian minister is the first Foreign Minister from an EU member-country to visit India, after the U.K. voted infavour of leaving the grouping
- Hungary, the Minister said, supports faster reform of the EU as the headquarters of the regional grouping in Brussels has come to be associated with bureaucratic dominance. “EU’s decision is often biased in favour of the dominant members. Hungary believes that a strong EU is possible only when members become strong. Hungary will do everything to strengthen its economic ties with India and to restart the EU-India trade talks”
- The visit of the Minister is significant as it comes days after Hungary supported India’s candidature at the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)
- Hungary is one of the major countries affected by the Brexit referendum as nearly one lakh Hungarian workers, facing an uncertain future in the U.K., may return home seeking new jobs. Hungary’s quest for finding Indian investment is partly influenced by the need to meet the challenge of Brexit
- Hungary has chosen to energise cooperation with India in 2016 as the year also marks the 60th anniversary of the Hungarian uprising of 1956 when India’s diplomatic intervention saved lives. “We will recognise those Indians who supported anti-communist uprising in Hungary,” the minister said
- The Centre gave its ‘in-principle’ approval to set up the country’s 13th major port at Enayam, near Colachel in Tamil Nadu
- A special purpose vehicle (SPV) will be formed for the development of port that will act as a major gateway container port for cargo and become a trans-shipment hub for East-West trade route, according to a statement from the Shipping Ministry. The initial investment for the SPV will come from three major ports in Tamil Nadu — V. O. Chidambaranar Port Trust, Chennai Port Trust and Kamarajar Port Limited
- The new port at Enayam will also reduce the logistics cost for exporters and importers in south India who currently depend on trans-shipment in Colombo or other ports leading to additional port handling charges, it said
- India has 12 major ports at present — Kandla, Mumbai, JNPT, Marmugao, New Managlore, Cochin, Chennai, Ennore, V.O. Chidambarnar, Visakhapatnam, Paradip and Kolkata (including Haldia).
C. GS3 Related
- During a meeting chaired by the Finance Minister the Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC) said: “On the issue of maturity of concessional swaps of 2013 against FCNR deposits during September-December 2016, FSDC noted the steps taken by RBI to suitably address the issue and its consequences”
- According to RBI data, banks had raised about $34 billion through FCNR (B) deposits in 2013, most of which are due this year. In 2013 the rupee was at an all-time low of 68.85 against the dollar and the central bank had asked commercial banks to raise the foreign currency deposits to shore up reserves
- The RBI estimates that the immediate effect of the maturity of these deposits would be an outflow of about $20 billion
- Service sector activity slowed to a seven-month low in June as new orders declined, according to a private sector survey
- The Nikkei/Markit India Services Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) came in at 50.3 in June compared to 51 in May. A reading above 50 indicates expansion while one below 50 implies a contraction. While new orders slowed down in the services sector, experts believe that India stands to benefit from Brexit over the medium term as trade between the U.K. and EU is likely to take a hit due to the referendum
- Since launching in 2011, NASA’s Juno spacecraft has been cruising toward the biggest planet in the solar system. On Monday, Juno performed a nail-biting move that placed it into orbit around Jupiter to explore its cloud-covered atmosphere and interior makeup
- 8 billion km
- That’s the total distance travelled from launch to arrival. Juno’s journey wasn’t a straight shot. Because the rocket that carried Juno wasn’t powerful enough to boost it directly to Jupiter, it took a longer route. It looped around the inner solar system and then swung by Earth, using our planet as a gravity slingshot to hurtle toward the outer solar system
- 5,000 km
- That’s how close Juno will fly to Jupiter’s cloud tops. It’ll pass over the poles 37 times during the mission on a path that avoids the most intense radiation.
- 48 minutes, 19 seconds
- That’s the time it took for radio signals from Jupiter to reach Earth. During the encounter, Juno fired its main engine for about a half hour to slow down. By the time ground controllers receive word, the engine burn was completed, placing Juno in orbit
- 20 months
- That’s how long the mission will last. Because Juno is in a harsh radiation environment, its delicate electronics are housed in a special titanium vault. Eventually, Juno will succumb to the intense radiation and will be commanded to plunge into Jupiter’s atmosphere to avoid any collision with the planet’s moons.
- Juno carries a suite of nine instruments to explore Jupiter from its interior to its atmosphere. It will map Jupiter’s gravity and magnetic fields and track how much water is in the atmosphere. Its colour camera dubbed JunoCam will snap close-ups of Jupiter’s swirling clouds, polar regions and shimmering southern and northern lights
- Three massive solar wings extend from Juno, making it the most distant solar-powered spacecraft. The panels can generate 500 watts of electricity, enough to power the instruments
D. GS4 Related
E. Important Editorials: A Quick Glance
Topic: Pollution Control
- Do big cars really cause less pollution than small ones, as the Attorney Generalsaid in the Supreme Court? Fact is there is no way to ascertain that, simply because car manufacturers do not share the emissions profile of their vehicles
- Moreover, technology treatments that allow certain big cars to be cleaner than their smaller compatriots aren’t available here because they require ultra-low-sulphur diesel that isn’t yet commercially available in the country
- A big diesel car could have reduced nitrous oxide emissions than a small car if it employed specific exhaust treatment technologies. Cars equipped with Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) module cost about €100 (Rs. 7,500) more than those with Exhaust Gas Recovery (EGR) and nitrogen trap. All new cars in Europe were equipped with filters
- But SCR, which is scheduled to become mandatory for the forthcoming Euro 6 norms in 2020, and even EGR are presumed to be effective only if they use diesel that has sulphur content less than 50 parts per million. Oil companies in India have yet to put in infrastructure to produce such diesel
- Diesel engines, now globally castigated for being a source of nitrous oxides and particulate matter and believed to aggravate several lung diseases, can vary in the quantity of particulate matter they emit
- As of today, diesel engine cars in India are only required to ensure that they emit no more than 0.025 gm/km of particulate matter if they are “small” and 0.06 gm/km if they are “big” or 2000 cc-and-above and only if they are registered in the 13 Indian cities bound by the Bharat Stage-4 norms
- The same cars are allowed to emit roughly 10 times more nitrous oxide emissions, again depending on the weight class. This underlines the paradox of pollution by diesel engines. The way a diesel engine burns its fuel is more efficient compared to a petrol engine
- While this could mean less particulate matter, it correspondingly raises nitrous oxide levels. Conversely, trying to rein in nitrous oxides will compromise fuel-use efficiency and increase particulate matter emissions
- Volkswagen, Mercedes and Toyota cars are equipped with particulate filters abroad. But they are not available in their Indian versions
- On July 1, Tejas, India’s indigenously built Light Combat Aircraft, took off from an IAF facility in Bengaluru
- Manas Bihari Verma, the retired Programme Director of the Tejas LCA project from the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) made the following observations:
- Verma recalled the initial hiccups in the ambitious project and the reasons why it took so long — 33 years — for them to “Make in India”
- “It was Pokhran-II nuclear test in May 1998 which delayed the Light Combat Air-craft (LCA) Tejas project, as the U.S., Germany and other countries put an immediate embargo on import of about 50 critical components for the aircraft,” said Dr.Verma. “Later we produced all these components indigenously to make Tejas a fully indigenous fighter aircraft,” he added
- “Tejas took as much time as any other LCA being built by an advanced country would take to fly in the sky. In 1994, the project got the go-ahead from the government and on January 4, 2001, it took its first test sortie. Any developed country needs seven years to complete such projects
- “But, yes, it should have been inducted into the Air Force by 2008-09. What went wrong I cannot say. There may be some obscurantist forces who wanted to delay the project to import some foreign aircraft,” he said
- Verma said Tejas could prove a milestone in India’s defence system. “Tejas cannot be outdated, but updated like other advanced fighter planes such as F-16s. From its design to fabrication of structure to software to ground test rigs, all are cent per cent indigenous,” he said
Topic: Disability Rights
- Progressive legislation and enabling administrative orders constitute the policy framework under which the government deals with the rights of persons with disabilities and seeks to provide them equal opportunities. However, it is only when tested in practice that the real efficacy of the policy is known
- Recent court verdicts suggest that the implementation of measures conferring rights on the people with disabilities is still far from adequate. This is in spite of statutory reservation in jobs and other measures formulated with great care. The Supreme Court’s recent verdict, declaring illegal two office memoranda of 1997 and 2005 on the manner in which reservation of seats for the disabled should be handled, is the latest instance of the government’s policy approach being exposed as inadequate
- Though the verdict in Rajeev Kumar Gupta and Others v. Union of India arose out of a specific grievance that the disabled were denied the benefits of reservation in Group A and Group B posts in the PrasarBharati Corporation, it is applicable across the entire spectrum of public employment in the two categories
- The court ruled that limiting the disabled quota to posts filled through direct recruitment in the two groups is in contravention of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995; also, that the disabled quota will extend to promotions. It directed that vacancies among posts identified for the disabled must be filled through reservation, regardless of the mode of recruitment — be it promotion or direct recruitment. The ruling has significantly enhanced the scope for the disabled to gain employment in the higher echelons
- In October 2013, in Union of India v. National Federation of the Blind, the court had noted the “alarming reality” that the disabled were out of jobs not because their disability came in the way, but rather due to “social and practical barriers”. Even then, the court had noted that some provisions of the 2005 office memorandum were inconsistent with the 1995 Act. However, the government is yet to modify it suitably. In the latest ruling, a Division Bench has said it is disheartening to note the admittedly low numbers of persons with disabilities — much below the 3 per cent earmarked for them — in government employment years after the enactment
- It is time the Centre evolved a more inclusivepolicy that is in full conformity with its legal obligations. If necessary, the draft Bill of 2014 could be revamped after wider consultation with stakeholders. The ultimate objective should be to render justice to the country’s estimated 2.68 crore disabled people
- In yet another remarkable achievement, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Juno spacecraft has successfully entered the orbit around Jupiter without being knocked down by the planet’s intense magnetic field and radiation
- That the spacecraft, which had travelled 2.8 billion km since its launch on August 5, 2011, passed through a spot that was originally planned for, when it came closest to the planet, provides a measure of the level of success of the mission. Juno, with a diameter of 11.5 ft, is not the first spacecraft to enter into orbit around Jupiter. But unlike its predecessor, the Galileo spacecraft that explored the planet between 1995 and 2003, Juno will study Jupiter much more thoroughly given the array of nine scientific instruments that it carries on board
- The most important difference between the two missions is Juno’s ability to see below the dense cloud cover of Jupiter; only a probe of Galileo entered the planet’s atmosphere. Getting as close as 5,000 km from the cloudtops and being able to see through the clouds will make it possible for Juno’s camera, Junocam, to take close-up photos of the poles and other points of interest. The main objectives of the mission are to understand the origin and evolution of Jupiter, to find out if the planet, like Earth, has a solid rocky core, to uncover the source of its intense magnetic field, to measure water and ammonia in deep atmosphere, and to observe the auroras
- Though the nine instruments will be turned on by the end of the week, the first full set of observations will not take place before the end of August when the spacecraft comes close to Jupiter on its first orbit; science experiments will begin in full earnest in mid-October when it gets into a 14-day orbit
- Juno will orbit the planet from pole-to-pole, minimising the amount of radiation exposure, but the orbit will ultimately shift due to Jupiter’s intense gravitational field, making the spacecraft pass through more intense regions of radiation
- Though shielded by a titanium vault, the radiation from Jupiter will slowly but surely compromise the instruments by the time it finishes its mission in February 2018
- But before this happens, scientists expect to collect enough information to further our understanding of how the giant planet was formed some 4.5 billion years ago, and of the origins of the solar system. The amount of water it contains and the nature of its core will provide clues about where the planet formed early in the system’s life span
- After orbiting the planet 37 times and returning invaluable scientific information, Juno will incinerate in Jupiter’s atmosphere in early 2018 as the Galileo spacecraft did
Topic: Federal Relations
- The demise of IsakChishiSwu, Chairman of the Naga rebel outfit, National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah), and President of the outfit’s ‘government’, the Government of the People’s Republic of Nagaland (GPRN), is a great loss to the Nagas, particularly to those in Nagaland
- Swu belonged to the Sumi (Sema) Naga tribe of Zunheboto district, Nagaland. He started his career of a rebel in the Naga National Council (NNC) under AngamiZapuPhizo holding different important positions. He left the NNC in 1980 disagreeing with the signing of the Shillong Accord by the outfit with the Government of India and formed the NSCN with ThuingalengMuivah, a Tangkhul Naga from Ukhrul district of Manipur, and S.S. Khaplang, a Naga from Myanmar. In 1988 the NSCN split into two factions, the NSCN(I-M) led by Swu and Mr. Muivah, and the NSCN(K) led by Mr. Khaplang. Swu represented the sober, humane and clean face of the Nagas as well as of the NSCN(I-M)
- In his final days, Swu’s last wish was to die a man whose dreams are realised. Thus came the hurried signing of the accord which came to be known as ‘the Framework Agreement’ on August 3 last year. The question is whether the contents of the Framework Agreement (still hidden from the public) will remain the same after his departure. No one except a few from the rebel outfit and some from the Government of India could tell. No one, however, may ever tell
- After NSCN(I-M) and NSCN(K) more factions like NSCN(K-K), NSCN (Reformation), NSCN (Unification), etc. sprang up. The faction, NSCN (K-K), led by KholeKonyak, a Konyak Naga from Mon district and KitoviZhimomi, a Sumi Naga of Zunheboto district, merged not long ago into the NSCN(I-M)
- Many Nagas have questioned the NSCN(I-M)’s mandate to negotiate the Nagas’ destiny with the Government of India. Swu’s departure may complicate the matter further. What would be the fallout on the festering demand for Eastern [Frontier] Nagaland State is a big worry. Will the rebel outfit with a new chairman be able to unite different rebel factions and command respect and trust of different Naga civil society groups? It may not be acceptable to a large section of Nagas to consign the legacy of Phizo and the struggles of his NNC — from the days of Naga Club through the visit of the Simon Commission to India to the 1951 Naga plebiscite — into oblivion
- The Government of India’s approach towards Northeast India would be healthier if it was based on a policy framed for holistic development of the region as a unit as against meek responses to claims or demands of different warring ethnic groups. The Northeast is home to more than 500 ethnic groups whose identities, customs, cultures and aspirations are dissimilar. Looking for solutions to problems on ethnic lines is a sure way to breed problems of greater complexity
- A comprehensive plan with flexibility that is prepared on the ground in broad consultation with stakeholders for development of the region is the need of the hour. There can be no denying the fact that the region is still backward in many respects vis-à-vis other regions of the country and suffers many serious disadvantages. The region, wrongly or rightly, feels neglected, and abandoned to the periphery of national consciousness
- If the Centre devises any package, it should be comprehensive, based on a vision and a policy framework that encompasses the entire Northeast and not one or a few ethnic groups. India is a big and powerful country; its government should not act or appear to act under duress. It should, however, be considerate, compassionate and benevolent
- The government, however, seems lost on how to deal with the region and is happy to leave it heavily militarised with police and Army officers in control backed by the much decried, inhuman Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act
- Indian politicians as well as the bureaucracy seem gripped by a fear psychosis when it comes to issues of the Northeast. The shadow of China looms large. The Northeast needs a body of thinkers and policymakers who would identify the problems confronting the region and dissect them for wholesome and lasting solutions. Appropriate institutions should be built and special facilities, if need be, should be provided to implement their decisions
- Last month the leaders of North East Democratic Alliance demanded greater empowerment of the North Eastern Council and the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) and appealed to the Prime Minister to institutionalise budgetary provisions so that 10 per cent of the fund of the Non-Lapsable Central Pool of Resources is mandatorily deposited with the Ministry of DoNER. In fact these institutions should be so redesigned and empowered as to be the pivots for all-round and speedy development of the region on a par with the rest of the country
- In absence of connectivity, inter-regional as well as intra-regional, through all-weather roads, rail and air; facilities for intensive skill development training; demilitarisation of the region through neutralisation of the militant outfits through honest, open, transparent and comprehensive dialogues; and mechanisms to check and control drug trafficking, gun-running and money laundering in and through the region, all talk of an ‘Act East’ policy via the Northeast would be a big farce
- The transition of the policy from the erstwhile ‘Look East’ policy to the present ‘Act East’ policy without any positive activities, developments and achievements on the ground took almost a quarter of a century. Blind pouring of money alone will not integrate the Northeast into the mainstream. The region will remain a boiling pot until the time the Government of India looks seriously, sincerely and with an open mind towards the Northeast to develop it as an integral part of the nation
- The successful induction of the first two Tejas light combat aircraft (LCA) on July 1 into the IAF, pending final operational clearance, provides the appropriate backdrop to the recent announcement of the government to allow 100 per cent FDI in the defence sector.
- This policy announcement is being heralded as the fillip that India’s moribund military indigenisation effort needs and that very soon Make in India will gain robust traction. However, this is an arduous path. India’s many institutional deficiencies may make this highly desirable goal more elusive than imagined
- The 100 per cent ceiling comes with many caveats and procedural constraints ensured that the initiative was not very successful in attracting foreign capital
- The Tejas success, which is to be commended, is illustrative of the mindset that has crippled India’s indigenous defence industry for decades. The LCA programme wherein India would design and build its own combat aircraft dates back to 1985. Yet, the reality is that it took 31 years for the first two aircraft to be inducted, albeit in a sub-optimal manner, and it merits notice that both the engine and the primary radar are imported
- Could the Tejas have been completed sooner had the 100 per cent FDI route been adopted earlier? And the related question is: Will the current 100 per cent ceiling make that much-needed difference?
- The LCA apart, two other recent revelations provide the context for the FDI challenge. The Indian Army is the second largest in the world and yet for decades on end, India has been less than successful in designing and manufacturing its own rifle. What has been produced — the INSAS (Indian Small Arms System) — is sub-optimal
- Currently, the army is reportedly facing a massive shortage, including that of ammunition and bullet-proof vests. Consequently, India is one of the largest importers of military inventory. Over the next decade, India will allocate over $ 200 billion towards acquisition and modernisation. A truly competent and nimble policy making body would be able to prioritise and attracting investment
- But the sad reality is that the Indian defence leadership is clueless about how best to invest such a large sum of money over a decade with foreign participation and add tangible capacity to the military in a sustainable manner. What is missing is the holistic institutional integrity and multi-ministry competence that can envisage a national systems-engineering equivalent
- Thus, the 100 per cent FDI ceiling in defence, while being welcome, will have to be preceded by some very rigorous introspection about existing inadequacies. The holy grail of indigenisation can be attained only if the vast resources of the Defence Research and Development Organisation and Defence PSUs are dis-aggregated and re-cast on the lines of successful models that exist in countries such as Israel. A DRDO-centred, incremental approach will not succeed
- PM Modi needs to mobilise young entrepreneurial Indians to undertake cutting-edge defence research. Concurrently, with defence budgets likely to shrink in real terms, there is an urgent need to create a cadre, within the ministry of defence, equipped for such onerous responsibilities
- Global population was around 1.6 billion in 1900 — today it is around 7.2 billion and growing. Recent estimates on population growth predict a global population of 9.6 billion in 2050 and 10.9 billion in 2100. Unlike Europe and North America, where only three to four per cent of the population is engaged in agriculture, around 47 per cent of India’s population is dependent upon agriculture. Even if India continues to do well in the services sector and the manufacturing sector picks up, it is expected that around 2030 when India overtakes China as the world’s most populated country, nearly 42 per cent of India’s population will still be predominantly dependent on agriculture. The prosperity of this sector is therefore of critical importance to India
- Budget 2016 contained significant additional allocation of funds for agriculture and rural sector development. An explicit desire has been projected to double farmers’ incomes by 2020, and areas identified for investments such as irrigation, soil health, rural connectivity and better terms for crop insurance
- However, a major area of intervention — more productive varieties of food crops — has not been included. In order to meet the challenge of doubling farmers’ income, we need low-input, high-output agriculture. Achieving this goal will require incisive policy decisions for improved farm level management and use of science and technology for crop improvement. This area has been neglected and farmers still use crop varieties which require chemical protection against diseases and insects
- India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, said “everything can wait but not agriculture”. Independent India invested heavily in dams, both for power generation and for bringing large areas under irrigation. This had a positive impact on food production. But by the 1960s India faced a serious deficit of food grains. The situation was saved by the introduction of more productive dwarf varieties of wheat and rice which brought about the “Green Revolution” in Asia
- Dwarf wheat and rice were bred by the international research institutes — the CIMMYT in Mexico and IRRI in Philippines, respectively. The high yielding varieties of rice developed during the last few decades have excellent grain quality and are resistant to several diseases and insects. One of the varieties, IR 36, became the most widely grown crop variety during the 1970s and 1980s. It was grown on 25 million acres of rice land worldwide. No other variety of rice or any other food crop has been grown that widely. IR 64 has all the desirable features of IR 36 but in addition has very palatable grain quality. It replaced IR 36 during the 1990s and beyond. Numerous parents were used for developing these varieties. Rice breeding at the IRRI and wheat breeding by Noble Laureate Norman Borlaug was carried with public support and plant breeding products were shared freely
- Meanwhile, breakthroughs in molecular biology and biotechnology have led to the development of new techniques for crop improvement such as molecular marker assisted selection (MAS) and genetic engineering (GE). These technologies have made a huge impact on crop improvement. Genetic engineering, particularly, has made it possible to meet breeding objectives that were not possible to meet through conventional breeding methods. GE crops are now grown in 28 countries. In 2015 the area planted to GE crops reached 180 million hectares. Unfortunately, there are concerns amongst the general public about the safety of foods produced through genetic engineering. Foods produced through GE technologies have been consumed for the last 15 years and no adverse effects on human health have been detected. Scientific academies of the UK, France and US have declared that GE foods are safe to eat
- At the University of Delhi, scientists have been working on mustard breeding. Their focus has been on the development of hybrids for higher yield potential and better quality of oil and meal. Another area of focus has been breeding for resistance to diseases so that the crop can be grown without chemical protection. The research group has employed conventional as well as GE approaches. Their work is an excellent example of low-input, high-output agriculture. The first mustard hybrid based on a GE method of pollination control was developed in 2002. In many replicated trials, it has outperformed true breeding varieties by as much as 20 per cent. Unfortunately, up to now, it is still awaiting biosafety clearance and cannot be planted for commercial production
- For a country which imported around Rs 65,000 crore worth of edible oils in 2015, it is an awful loss of opportunity. The GE technology used by Delhi University scientists for developing mustard hybrid is the same as used for producing hybrids in rapeseed, a sister crop of mustard. Rapeseed hybrids have been grown in Canada since 1996 and after that in the US and Australia. Millions of tons of rapeseed oil and meal have been consumed around the world. No harmful effects have ever been reported or published. In spite of this evidence from rapeseed hybrids, University of Delhi scientists have conducted extensive biosafety studies with transgenic mustard hybrid with support from the Department of Biotechnology
- Release of the first transgenic mustard hybrid has been delayed by almost 10-12 years. The case of this hybrid is currently being reviewed by the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) in the ministry of environment and forests for commercial release. Anti-GE activists may filibuster the proceedings of the GEAC and may even approach the courts for a stay order. In view of the importance of S&T in increasing crop productivity, it is hoped that the decisions taken by the GEAC will be based on scientific evidence and the final release will not be postponed. We must continue to use new breakthroughs in science and technology for achieving the goal of low-input, high-output agriculture which is a pre-requisite for doubling farmers’ income
The Union Cabinet has approved the Interest Subvention Scheme for farmers for the year 2016-17. The Government has earmarked a sum of Rs. 18,276 Crore for this purpose. This will help farmers getting short term crop loan payable within one year up to Rs. 3 lakhs at only 4% per annum.
The Union Cabinet has approved signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Mauritius.
The MoU will help to establish a framework for cooperation between the National Development Unit, Prime Minister’s Office of the Republic of Mauritius and the Ministry of Rural Development of the Republic of India in the sphere of rural development. The MoU will encourage cooperation in the field of rural development and capacity building on the basis of equality and mutual benefit between both countries.
Under the MoU, a Joint Committee on Cooperation on Rural Development will be established which will meet alternatively in both countries on mutually agreed dates. The MoU will come into effect from the date of its signature.
The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has has given its approval for signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Mozambique on Drug demand reduction and prevention of illicit trafficking in narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and precursor chemicals and related matters.
The MoU is aimed to enhance mutual cooperation between the two countries in combating illicit trafficking in Narcotic drugs, Psychotropic substances and their precursors through exchange of information, expertise and capacity building
The Union Cabinet has approved a long-term contract by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Mozambique for import of pulses either through the private channels or Government-to-Government (G2G) sales through State Agencies nominated by the two countries.
The MoU aims at promoting the production of Pigeon Peas/Tur and other pulses in Mozambique by encouraging progressive increase in the trading of these pulses. The MOU includes targets for exports of Tur and other pulses from Mozambique to India for five financial years and aims at doubling the trade from 100,000 tonnes in 2016-17 to 200,000 tonnes is 2020-21
The Union Cabinet has approved a National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme. The Scheme has an outlay of Rs. 10,000 crore with a target of 50 lakh apprentices to be trained by 2019-20.
The Scheme would be implemented by Director General of Training (DGT) under Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE). It provides for incentivizing employers to engage apprentices. 25% of the total stipend payable to an apprentice would be shared with employers directly by Government of India. It is for the first time a scheme has been designed to offer financial incentives to employers to engage apprentices. In addition, it also supports basic training, which is an essential component of apprenticeship training. 50% of the total expenditure incurred on providing basic training would be supported by Government of India.
The Scheme will catalyze the entire apprenticeship ecosystem in the country and it will offer a win-win situation for all stakeholders. It is expected to become one of the most powerful skill-delivery vehicle in the country.
The Union Cabinet has approved signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Tanzania in the field of Traditional Systems of Medicine and Homeopathy.
The MoU will provide structured frame work for the cooperation between the two countries for the promotion and propagation of Indian Traditional Systems of Medicine & Homeopathy in Tanzania.
There is no additional financial implications involved. The financial resources necessary to conduct research, training courses, conferences / meetings will be met from the existing allocated budget and existing plan schemes of Ministry of AYUSH.
Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has today released The Draft Telecom Consumers Protection (Tenth Amendment) Regulations, 2016 for public consultation inviting comments of the Stakeholders.
The present regulatory regime governed by TCPR-2012 allows Telecom Service Providers to offer data services in the form of Special Tariff Voucher(STV) either exclusively or in combination of other tariff items with a maximum permitted validity of 90 days. Requests have been received in TRAI seeking longer validity for data-packs (i.e. Special Tariff Vouchers with only data benefits) primarily to address the concern of marginal consumers of wireless Internet who prefer lower denomination data packs with longer validity.
- The jobs outlook looks poor, as made evident from the official data from a handful of sectors. Apart from spelling out the government’s initiatives on allowing shops to remain open 24×7 and the smart initiatives in the textiles policy—this allows freeing up low-paid workers from the clutches of the EPFO and also provide them with fixed-term employment—The PM spoke of theRs1.3 lakh crore disbursed through the Micro Units Development & Refinance Agency (Mudra) to nearly 3.5 crore entrepreneurs in FY16 and said that the jobs created by them do not get reflected in the official labour statistics
- Though the Mudra numbers look high, they broadly correlate with the official RBI data as well. The Mudra data show that, of the Rs1.3 lakh crore, around R87,000 crore was disbursed by banks including regional rural ones. RBI data on bank credit shows an additional Rs47,600 crore given to micro and small enterprises under the priority sector window in FY16. Another R62,500 crore was given out to ‘weaker sections’ under the priority sector window and could, theoretically, be covered by Mudra, though we don’t know for certain; there are several other such categories under RBI’s priority sector advances window
- Of the 3.5 crore Mudra entrepreneurs, 1.25 crore are new entrepreneurs who have been given a loan of a little under R50,000 each—these are the barbers and the washer men that the prime minister spoke of, while coining the phrase ‘personal sector’ to describe them. If each one of these entrepreneurs creates one job, that’s1.25 crore new jobs, apart from the entrepreneurs themselves—ditto for the 2.25 crore older entrepreneurs
- On their own, with such small capital—across all 3.5 crore entrepreneurs, the average loan disbursed in FY16 was Rs38,000—the jobs are clearly unviable; but if they are combined with an agriculture or temporary construction job, they may just be viable
- On the other hand, they could just degenerate into another loan mela, with banks adding to their NPAs in the years to come. A more detailed analysis of the impact ofMudra in creating sustainable employment, both by government as well as by individual researchers, is clearly needed
- An above average monsoon will go some way in replenishing depleted reservoirs and aquifers. Farm production may go up, and the rural economy is slated to benefit. This is good news but it does not detract from the overall crisis affecting Indian agriculture — the over-use of water
- Agriculture is the biggest consumer of water resources. Industry and consumers come a distant second and third. India’s skewed water politics has led to an over-use of groundwater. To put this in perspective, while only 4 per cent of farmed land in Maharashtra is under sugarcane, it consumes 71.5 per cent of the State’s irrigated water, including wells. The State is the second-highest producer of sugarcane after Uttar Pradesh
- Why do farmers persist with sugarcane when they can shift to drought-tolerant crops when the going gets tough? The danger is that no one seems to be communicating the adverse effects of long-term climate change to them. A medium to long-term state specific policy needs to be articulated, given the changing agro-climatic landscape. A World Bank report titled ‘Water in India’ paints a doomsday scenario in this regard
- The report observes that between 2020 and 2050, the supply-demand gap for water will increase from roughly 200 per cent (in 2020) to almost 1200 per cent in 2050. To put this in reverse, the availability of water in 2020 is projected to be 50 per cent of demand and in 2050 it will be less than 9 per cent. The problem with a good monsoon is that it doesn’t allow us to practice what we preach
- As parched fields get water after successive droughts, farmers are likely to throw caution to the winds and invest in even more water-intensive crops. But the rains, however good, will eventually cease. Ponds, dams, aquifers, wells, streams and rivers will not be recharged to the extent that they have been depleted
- Aquifers can take hundreds of years to fill up and recharge slowly with water from snowmelt and rains. Water-intensive farming is likely to continue. But a drought situation may recur and the same stories of farmer distress and demand for more government action will do the rounds
- The answer is not to stop farmers from planting their preferred crops. The focus instead should be on conservation, and it is here that science and technology can help. Irrigation networks should be linked to an extensive network of drip irrigation infrastructure (to gradually replace flood irrigation)
- Farmers can be incentivised to do this and shown how this can result in water savings of 40-50 per cent, while simultaneously increasing farm yields by up to a third. New methods of agriculture should be encouraged, including the use of hybrid and biotech seeds that are engineered to be more drought, saline and pest resistant
- As less water-intensive farming takes root, more water will be available for use at homes and groundwater depletion will be minimised. Women will need to walk considerably less to fetch water. Even in drought-prone regions, new biotech seeds and water management technologies can ensure that farmers can move to multiple crop yields
- Several countries have developed technologies to suit their agro-climatic conditions. Indonesia grows drought-tolerant sugarcane while in the US, drought-tolerant maize is grown commercially. If other countries can take steps to cope with climate change and drought, why can’t India do the same?
- The Government needs to encourage new crop technologies for robust strains of wheat, rice, sugarcane and corn that need less water, thrive in semi-arid conditions, resist pests and withstand the vagaries of climate change
- The Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) should co-develop technologies with non-government funded bodies around the world that deal with climate change, and create a sustainable impact for farmers
- Recently, ICAR announced that it will develop drought-tolerant sugarcane for India. While this announcement is laudable, in view of the current regulatory scenario in India it might take more than 10 years before farmers can benefit from this technology
- The time for us to take the monsoons for granted is over
- Should the banking regulator, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), also exercise oversight over Asset Reconstruction Companies (ARCs), which purchase, manage and redeploy stressed financial assets?
- A Bill that seeks to amend the Sarfaesi Act, 2002, so as to provide unfettered regulation of ARCs by the RBI, is now being reviewed by a joint parliamentary committee.
- The move is retrograde and makes absolutely no sense. Regulation of ARCs by the banking regulator would amount to a fundamental conflict of interest
- The regulator can well “direct” that ARCs absorb non-performing assets (NPAs) at a higher price than they are actually worth, which would be perverse window-dressing. And the Bill does provide elaborate powers to the RBI to change and remove the management of ARCs, even on flimsy grounds like “public interest,” and issue directives on the fees and expenses to be charged. What is worse, orders on ARCs may be appealed before an Appellate Authority, to consist of “such officer or committee of officers” of the RBI!
- Note that in the financial sector, an independent tribunal, the Securities Appellate Tribunal hears appeals against orders of Sebi, Irdai and PFRDA, and the Justice Srikrishna-headed Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission specifically recommended that appeals against RBI orders be taken up by SAT.
- In any case, the business of stressed asset recovery is very different from the business of banking and it is not global practice for banking regulators to also regulate ARCs and have a dual role
- ARCs do not take deposits, and retail customers cannot invest in security receipts issued by ARCs. What is needed is speedy turnaround and redeployment of stressed assets going by the letter and spirit of the new Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016
The judges of the subordinate courts in Telangana, who went on a mass casual leave, have decided to join duty on Wednesday. A unanimous resolution to this effect was adopted at an extraordinary general body meeting of the Telangana Judges Association held on Tuesday.The judges went on leave en masse in support of the agitating advocates who were demanding withdrawal of the provisional list of judicial officers hailing from Andhra Pradesh but allocated to Telangana, and for bifurcation of the High Court as per the provisions of the A.P. Reorganisation Act.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday held the railway administration liable for the tragic deaths of 19 youths who fatally hit a foot-over bridge while travelling on the roof of an express train, which failed to stop even after the incident.
A Bench of Chief Justice T.S. Thakur and Justice U.U Lalit ordered the government to pay Rs. 5 lakh compensation to each of the families of the dead, while dismissing the Railways’ plea to be absolved of liability.
Mainstream political parties and separatist groups on Tuesday expressed outrage over the multiple blasts in Saudi Arabia on Monday, with voices opposing the Islamic State growing louder.
The foreign minister of Maldives said she quits on Tuesday because she opposed the government’s use of capital punishment, which the government of the Maldives adopted in May.
Indian financial markets will experience limited impact from Britain exiting the European Union (EU), according to Moody’s Investors Service.
Factors such as subdued global demand, weak rural incomes, higher food inflation and high leverage for some large corporates are likely to have a more immediate effect on the economy, according to Moody’s
(Exports to the U.K. and the rest of the European Union account for 0.4 per cent and 1.7 per cent of India’s GDP respectively)
Domestic banks will need a whopping $90 billion capital to meet the Basel-III norms which will be fully implemented by the March 2016, rating agency Fitch said on Tuesday.
Public sector banks will needs 80 per cent of the estimated capital, Fitch said.
“The capital needs have come down due to weak loan growth, but they are onerous for the banks, given weak asset quality and internal capital generation,” it said in a statement. Out of the total capital requirement, more than 50 per cent has to be met via core equity and the rest largely via Additional Tier-1 (AT1) debt capital instruments.
Ministries of Chemical and Fertilizer and New and Renewable Energy will come out with the draft policies for manufacturing of coal-based urea and second generation ethanol in three weeks. Earlier the country faced shortage of coal but now there is surplus coal and urea plant based on gas from coal could easily be set up. Coal based urea production technology for producing urea was common in South Africa, China, USA etc countries and once India started manufacturing, farmers will get a huge relief.
The government is planning to take up ethanol blending in petrol to 22.5 per cent and in diesel to 15 per cent.
F. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn:
- The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995
- NASA’s Juno
- Pokhran II
- Tejas LCA
- North Eastern Council
- Marker Assisted Selection
- Genetic Engineering
- The SARFAESI Act
- Basel III Norms
G. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂
Question 1: Which of the following philosophers gave the theory of Dialectical Materialism to the world?
a) Karl Marx
b) Ralph Waldo Emerson
c) Jeremy Bentham
d) Friedrich Hegel
Question 2: Which of the following statements is/are correct?
a) 1 only
b) 2 only
c) Both 1 and 2
d) Neither 1 nor 2
Question 3: Which of the following statements is/are correct?
- Jupiter consists mainly of hydrogen
- Jupiter has over 60 moons
- Jupiter takes about 12 earth years to go around the sun
a) 1 only
b) 2 and 3 only
c) 1,2 and 3
d) All the Above
Question 4: Which of the following statements is/are correct?
- The North Eastern Council is a statutory body
- The North Eastern Council is the regional planning body for the North Eastern Region
a) 1 only
b) 2 only
c) Both 1 and 2
d) Neither 1 nor 2
Question 5: Which of the following statements is/are correct?
- Pokhran II tested both fission and fusion bombs
- Pokhran II resulted in a variety of sanctions against India by a number of major states, including Japan and the United States.
a) 1 only
b) 2 only
c) Both 1 and 2
d) Neither 1 nor 2
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