POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
NATURAL ECONOMIC ZONE (NEZ)
Entire Northeast region has a “Natural Economic Zone (NEZ)” and said that it would be his priority to nourish the NEZ and tap its potential for the benefit of the region.
Northeast region as India’s “capital of organic agriculture”
celebration held every year in the first week of December, in Nagaland
held at Naga Heritage Village, Kisama which is about 12 km from Kohima
All the tribes of Nagaland take part
aim of the festival is to revive and protect the rich culture of Nagaland and display its extravaganza and traditions
Festival is named after the hornbill, the globally respected bird and which is displayed in folklore in most of the state’s tribes.
INITIATIVES FOR NORTHEAST REGION
modern apparel and garment manufacturing centre would be set up immediately in the State capitals of Assam, Nagaland and Sikkim
Ishan Uday special scholarships for 10,000 students from the Northeast
Ishan Vikas scheme for facilitating exposure visits of 2000 students and 500 teachers of colleges in the region
NATIONAL LOK ADALAT
organised by the National Legal Service Authority (NALSA)
cases settled out of court include family disputes, matrimonial cases, motor accident claims, bank recoveries, petty criminal matters, revenue matters, disbursement of payment under the MGNREGA and other government welfare schemes.
T.S.R SUBRAMANIAN COMMITTEE
examine six laws administered by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change
six laws to be put under the scanner
Environment (Protection) Act, 1986
Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980
Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972
The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974
The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981
Indian Forest Act (IFA) of 1927.
GENETICALLY MODIFIED (GM) FOOD CROPS
Europe does not permit field trials and that the average Indian farm is of very small size (which could lead to severe adverse impact on biodiversity through gene-flow).
no independent expert agencies in the country
MAIN RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE COMMITTEE
Proposed new law, the Environment Laws (Management) Act (ELMA). The application for environmental clearances expects the applicant to be honest and truthful.
Setting up of special environment courts presided over by a session’s judge and higher penalties.
proposes to create new agencies, the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) at the national level and the State Environment Management Authority (SEMA) as the pivotal authorities to process applications for a one-window composite environmental clearance
NEMA and SEMA will replace the Central/State Pollution Control Board.
Takes away the role of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), which, under the proposed ELMA, will only be able to judicially review the decisions of the Appellate Boards.
Special environment courts shall dispose of cases expeditiously within six months. Aggrieved parties may approach an appellate board presided over by a retired High Court judge.
for linear projects, it is recommended that FRA needs amendment to consider removal of the condition of Gram Sabha approval
Forest and environmental clearances should time bound and streamlined.
Wildlife Management plans to be made mandatory;
The demarcation of eco sensitive zones to be enforced around all protected areas and
Proposed the banning of polythene bags and plastic bottles into protected areas.
Only environmental, rehabilitation and resettlement issues are captured in the public hearing.
“Only genuine local participation” is permitted.
creating an Environment Reconstruction Fund for facilitating research
Stillwell road’, as a trade route from Assam to China’s Yunnan province.
GLOBAL FINANCIAL INTEGRITY
non-profit, research and advocacy organization located in Washington, D.C
research on national and multilateral policies, safeguards, and agreements aimed at curtailing illicit financial flows and enhancing global development and security
ranked the country third globally
ANTI-HIJACKING (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2014
Brought by Beijing Protocol, 2010, of the UN body International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), which have been signed and ratified by India.
Stringent measures to deal with civilian aircraft being used as a weapon of mass destruction by terrorists as 9/11.
Powers to concerned agencies and security forces to immobilise an aircraft and allow the Indian Air Force to scramble its fighters to intercept a hijacked aircraft and force it to land.
A hostile plane could also be shot down if there was evidence that it could be used as a missile to hit a vital installation.
INDIA BANS IS
Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) or Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is a Sunni Islamist rebel group that controls territory in Iraq and Syria and also operates in eastern Libya, the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt, and other areas of the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia.
ORDINANCE TO AMEND LAND ACT
The Cabinet has amended the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013.
Amendments have now relaxed the requirements of consent and Social Impact Assessment survey for projects in the following areas:
Defence and defence production
Rural infrastructure (including rural electrification)
Social infrastructure projects including PPPs in which ownership rests with the government
Under the 2013 Act, compensations were hiked up to four times and twice the market value in rural areas and urban areas
Consent from 70 per cent of the affected land owners in case of their lands being acquired for a public private partnership (PPP) project. If the acquisition was meant for private companies, consent from 80 per cent of the affected owners was required.
WHAT DOES THE ORDINANCE MEAN?
Ordinance envisages projects in defence, rural housing and industrial corridors as exempt from seeking
80% approval from affected persons.
Private hospitals, educational institutions and hotels will be included under definition of public purpose, and exempt from SIA.
The Ordinance aims to make land acquisition easier for industries, as delays in approvals have restricted growth in industry and infrastructure, according to stakeholders.
Farmers’ compensation will remain the same — four times the market rate for urban areas, and twice for rural areas.
13 statutes that were previously exempted from the rigours of compensation have now been included.
Multi-crop land can be acquired for five purposes without consent of affected families: national security, defence, rural infrastructure, industrial corridors and social infrastructure.
ORDINANCE TO HIKE FDI IN INSURANCE TO 49%
Hike Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) cap in the insurance sector to 49 per cent from 26 per cent. The 49 per cent cap would include both FDI and foreign portfolio investments.
GIC is the sole national reinsurer.
COAL MINES (SPECIAL PROVISIONS) BILL 2015
The coal bill opens the sector for commercial mining and aims to facilitate the auction of over 200 cancelled coal blocks.
There will be a concrete arrangement of computerized auction of coal and mineral blocks. The auction of these blocks was being carried out through an e-auction process to transparency of the process.
The main purpose of the ordinances, which are now being replaced by the bill, was to overcome acute shortage of coal in core sectors and ensure energy security. They facilitated allocation of coal mines to steel, cement and power utilities which are vital for development.
Assuring states that their interests would be taken care of, Govt said upfront fees as well as their share in royalty payment would go to the states. However, Congress found fault with the government’s plan to let states having coal blocks alone to have the lion’s share of revenue generated by the their auction and demanded other states should also be given a slice of the cake.
Government entities including public sector units such as NTPC and State Electricity Boards, however, will not have to go through the auction route as a pool of coal mines will be reserved for allocations to them from the cancelled blocks.
The proceeds from the e-auction will go entirely to the state government where the coal mines are located including Jharkhand, Orrisa, West Bengal and Chhattisgarh.
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)
UNODC is a global leader in the fight against illicit drugs and international crime.
It is established in 1997 through a merger between the United Nations Drug Control Programme and the Centre for International Crime Prevention.
UNODC operates in all regions of the world through an extensive network of field offices
MAKING ‘MAKE IN INDI A’ HAPPEN
India must become a manufacturing powerhouse in order to gainfully employ its demographic dividend.
improve the ease of doing business in India are these —stop tax terrorism, improve infrastructure, reform labour laws, invest in skills development, make it easier to acquire land, implement Goods and Services Tax (GST) and fast track approvals.
FOR AN INDUSTRIAL POLICY
India must have a clear industrial policy that spells out priority sectors and how we will build competitive advantage in a way that is consistent with our obligations to the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Five priority industries:
Defence, because we are the world’s leading arms importer.
The second critical industry is electronics hardware. India imports $45 billion of mobile phones, computers and communications hardware; by 2020, this is projected to grow to $300 billion and exceed Our oil import bill.
The third industry is construction. India will invest a trillion dollars over the coming years in improving infrastructure.
The fourth is health care. India’s generic pharmaceutical industry is world class.
Finally, agro-industries. We are one of the largest agricultural nations.
GOOD GOVERNANCE DAY
THE RAJASTHAN PANCHAYATI RAJ (SECOND AMENDMENT), ORDINANCE 2014
As per the provision, any individual contesting the ZilaParishad or PanchayatSamiti polls should have a basic qualification of Class X,
while those aspiring to be elected to Panchayats as sarpanch should have passed Class VIII and
Anyone contesting the election for sarpanch in the scheduled area should have passed Class V.
FARM LOAN WAIVER HITS CREDIT FLOW
URBAN DEVELOPMENT- THE RIGHT TO CITY
The Right to the City campaign aims at making urban spaces more inclusive, keeping in mind the lakhs of migrants that move here from rural India every year. Half of the country’s population will call urban India home by 2025.
SUGAMYA BHARAT CAMPAIGN
Accessible India Campaign (Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan) is the nationwide campaign for achieving universal accessibility for all citizens including Persons with Disabilities, to be able to gain access and live independently
The Accessible India Campaign comprises of the following key components:-
Create Mass Awareness
Interventions (Technology solutions, Legal framework, Resource generation)
Leverage corporate sector efforts including CSR resources.
ORDINANCE TO AMEND LAW ON ARBITRATION
The Ordinance is aimed at making it mandatory for commercial disputes to be settled within nine months and also putting a cap on fee of arbitrator. The proposed amendments stipulate that the presiding officer of a commercial dispute will have to clear the case within nine months.
The arbitrator will be free to seek an extension from the High Court. But in case of further delays, the High Court will be free to debar the arbitrator from taking up fresh cases for a certain period.
INTELLIGENCE BUREAU REPORT 2014
A Intelligence Bureau report, “Concerted efforts by select foreign-funded NGOs to take down Indian
development projects”, in 2014 alleged that several foreign-funded environmental NGOs were targeting
development projects across the country.
According to report, the following categories of developmental projects have been opposed by NGOs.
Nuclear power plants.
Coal-Fired power plants (CFPPs).
Genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
Mega industrial projects (Posco and Vedanta).
Hydel projects (at Narmada Sagar and in Arunachal Pradesh) and
Extractive industries (oil, limestone) in the north-east.
SMART CARDS FOR UNORGANISED SECTOR WORKERS
Every worker in the unorganised sector may soon be issued a smart card with a unique identification number for accessing social schemes and benefits. It was launched in Gujarat.
The Gujarat launch (a card, “U-WIN ) was a pilot for launching the card in all States.
The proposal is all workers must get three things — health insurance, pension and disability assistance.
This card will allow workers to self-certify that they are unorganised sector workers, and get these
benefits through a portable card
The portable benefits card will be issued under the Unorganised Workers Social Security Act, 2008.
Unorganised Workers Social Security Act, 2008, Act provides for constitution of the National Social Security Advisory Board at the Central level, which is to recommend social security schemes, health and maternity benefits and pension schemes for unorganised workers
With the amendment, NRIs can exercise their voting rights, but have to fulfills two conditions.
Registered as a voter: NRIs have to be registered in electoral rolls of the constituency where they arelisted as residents before leaving India.
Physically present: Section 20A had required NRIs to be physically present in their respective
constituencies at the time of elections.
But ,now The Union government informed the Supreme Court that it had accepted Election Commission’s recommendation to allow NRIs to vote through e-ballot system or through proxy.
MINES AND MINERALS (DEVELOPMENT & REGULATION) AMENDMENT BILL 2015
The Bill amends the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957.
The new act, once in force, will add a new 4th schedule to include mining of bauxite, iron ore, limestone and manganese ore, now called notified minerals, under its purview
Primarily, the new bill seeks to introduce a regime of auction to grant prospecting licences, like for coal blocks. It proposes that there will no renewal of mining concessions, unlike the original act of 1957. But it proposes a licence for 50 years as against 30 now. The government has already identified 199 mines for auction. The new act will call for state governments to grant mining leases and prospecting licensecum- mining leases for notified and other minerals, with the central government’s approval, which will prescribe the terms and conditions for selection of bidders as also the procedure for auction.
The central government may also reserve some mines exclusively for some specific purposes, as also set the eligibility conditions for the same.
To plug another loophole that leads to arbitrariness, the central government will be permitted to increase the area allowed for mining, instead of granting additional leases. Presently, while 10 sq km is set as maximum limit for prospecting per lessee, a leeway is given to alter this.
The proposed legislation also calls for the setting up of a District Mineral Foundation where mining takes place that will address the grievances of the people affected by mining, with a contribution not exceeding a third of the royalty rate.
Another body, the National Mineral Exploration Trust, shall be appointed by the central government for regional and pan-India planning.
CITIZENSHIP (AMENDMENT) ORDINANCE, 2015
It amends the following provisions of the Indian Citizen Act, 1955:
At present one year continuous stay in India is mandatory for Indian Citizenship which is relaxed stating that if the Central Government is satisfied that special circumstances exist, it may, after recording such circumstances in writing, relax the period of twelve months specified upto a maximum of thirty days which may be in different breaks.
To enable for registration as Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) by a minor, whose parents are Indian
To enable for registration as Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) by a child or a grand-child or a great
grandchild of such a citizen.
To enable for registration as Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) by such spouse of a citizen of India or spouse of an OCI registered under Section 7A and whose marriage has been registered and subsisted for a continuous period of not less than two years immediately preceding the presentation of the application under this section.
In respect of existing PIO card holders central government may, by notification in Official Gazette,
specify a particular date from which all existing PIO card holders will be deemed to be OCI card holders.
MERGER OF THE PIO AND OCI SCHEMES
The amendments to the Citizenship Act will benefit PIOs and will give them benefits like life-long visa
and exemption from registering with the FRO/FRRO if their stay here exceeds six months.
The ordinance rolling PIO and OCI schemes into a single Indian Overseas Cardholder scheme will drop
the clause requiring foreigners married to Indian citizens to continuously stay in the country for a period
of one year before they can apply for Indian citizenship.
The amendment will allow foreigners breaks not exceeding 30 days, to travel abroad during the
mandatory one-year stay in India.
1,000 MW GRID-CONNECTED SOLAR PHOTOVOLTAIC POWER PROJECTS
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), , has approved the scheme for setting up of 1000 MW of Grid-Connected Solar PV Power Projects by Central Public Sector units (CPSUs) and other government organisations
These projects are to be established with VGF (viability gap fund) support of Rs.1,000 crore over a period of three years (2015-16 to 2017-18).
Organisations such as NTPC, NHPC, CIL, IREDA and Indian Railways, among others have agreed to set up solar plants
Centre has also proposed to establish 25 Solar Parks, each with a capacity of 500 MW and above with a target of over 20,000 MW of solar power installed capacity over a period of 5 years (2014-19).
PRESIDENTS VIEW ON ARTICLE 108
The President pointed out that he had “seen since 1952 till today only four times laws were passed by joint session”. A joint session of Parliament is not a “practicable solution” to resolve a legislative impasse.
The Hyderabad-Karnataka region comprises Bidar, Yadgir, Raichur, Koppal, Bellary and Gulbarga that that are in the present state of Karnataka. The Hyderabad-Karnataka region is the second largest arid region in India.
The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC), the apex consumer forum, has held that “no complaint by a person alleging deficiency in services rendered by the CPIO/PIO is maintainable before a Consumer Forum.”
MOTOR VEHICLE (AMENDMENT) BILL 2015 PASSED BY PARLIAMENT
The bill aims at bringing e-rickshaws and e-carts under the ambit of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1957 so that
they can ply on roads across the country.
Government will also make efforts to provide loans at three to four percent interest to people belonging
to SCs, STs and OBC for buying e-rickshaws.
Women and the physically handicapped will be given driving licenses for these..
SHANTA KUMAR COMMITTEE
Restructure, reorient and reform the Food Corporation of India (FCI).
FOR THE NATIONAL FOOD SECURITY ACT
To cut the public distribution system beneficiaries for subsidized foodgrains to 40 from 67 per cent
under the National Food Security Act.
The rationed grains to be priced at 50 per cent of the minimum support price paid to farmers.
Each beneficiary should be given 7 kg of grain instead of 5 kg under the Act, and cash transfers be
introduced in a phased manner.
It is estimated that this will reduce the foodgrain requirement under TPDS from 61.4 million tonnes to
about 40 million tonnes.
FCI has not been fulfilling its three key objectives in recent years:
Providing price support to farmers,
Delivering food through the PDS, and
Reducing volatility of food prices (and addressing food security) through public stockholding
HINDU WIFE’S RIGHT TO MAINTENANCE
The Law Commission submitted its 252nd Report on “Right of the Hindu Wife to Maintenance: A relook at Section 18 of the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956″ to the Law Ministry.
The Commission recommended that a new clause be inserted in the Act to state that in cases where the husband is unable to provide for his wife, on account of:
Renunciation of the world by entering any religious order or other similar reasons, the Hindu wife is
entitled to claim maintenance from members of the husband’s joint Hindu family.
INITIATIVES TOWARDS NORTH EAST PEOPLE- BEZBARUAH COMMITTEE
The Ministry accepted recommendations made by the Committee with regard to immediate measures,
Amending the Indian Penal Code, 1860 to insert provisions criminalising:
Promoting or using criminal violence against members of a race on grounds of their race or
place of origin
Words or actions intended to insult members of a particular race
Setting up a panel of lawyers by the Delhi Legal Service Authority for providing legal assistance to people
from the North East;
Education related measures, like a scholarship for students from the North East and Sports related measures, like identifying talented sports persons from the North East and arranging for their training.
Creating a computerised database of people from the North East
Establishing a North East Centre in Delhi which would be an autonomous institution responsible for the above-mentioned database, holding cultural performances, etc
TRIBAL COMMUNITIES AND ISSUES FACED BY THEM- XAXA COM
The report details the situation of tribal communities: Scheduled Tribes, de-notified tribes and particularly vulnerable tribal communities.
GOVERNANCE OF TRIBAL AREAS
The question of autonomy in scheduled areas has been set out in Schedules V and VI of the Constitution.
In Schedule V areas, the Tribes Advisory Council — a body with elected and community representatives from Scheduled Tribes — will advise the governor on matters of administration and governance in scheduled areas.
The deliberations of the Tribes Advisory Councils have been found to be tokenistic, and the councils
themselves filled with bureaucrats and ministers instead of representatives of tribal communities with
Even with the Autonomous Councils in the Schedule VI States, which have a more robust formal
autonomy, the committee finds that “there is a huge discrepancy between the formal rules guaranteeing autonomy and the informal workings of autonomy on the ground.”
RECOMMENDATIONS OF PROFESSOR XAXA COMMITTEE REPORT
Government/policy makers must understand the tribal economy before planning any intervention. Tribal economy is the best development model and needs to be replicated anywhere in the country.
Protection of bio-diversity rich mountains and forests (moratorium of mining in biodiversity rich
Use of renewable energy like solar and hydro through indigenous techniques Promote use of
traditional transportation system for possible distance coverage
Implementation of Scheduled Area provisions (PESA) in true spirit
De-scheduling of schedule area due to decline of tribal population to be abolished. Declare all tribal
populated areas as scheduled areas.
Language used for learning in schools not suitable for tribal children. Teachers are not familiar with tribal language, should be take care of.
Develop curriculum in all tribal languages till Standard/Class 7.
Protect and promote traditional herbal medicines through the community ownership
Ensure ownership of community over their own herbal treatment practices.
Train traditional healers with improved technology to ensure better healthcare in remote villages
Ensure all NT and DNT communities are included in census with dignity.
For social, economic and educational development one independent authority should be established at national and state level.
The High Level Committee to recommend the setting up of a cell “in order for the Governor to properly carry out the duties of the post vis-à-vis protection of the tribes”
CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS FOR SCHEDULED TRIBES
The Constitution of India, Article 366 (25) defines Schedule Tribes as “such tribes or tribal communities or part of our groups within such tribes or tribal communities as are deemed under Article 342 to the Schedule Tribes (ST) for the purposes of this Constitution”.
In Article 342, procedure to be followed for specification of Scheduled Tribes is prescribed. However, it does not contain the criterion for the specification of any community as Schedule Tribe. A well-established criterion being followed is based on certain attributes such as:
Geographical isolation: They live in cloister, exclusive remote and hills and forest areas.
Backwardness: Livelihood based on primitive agriculture, low cost closed economy based on low level of technology which leads to their poverty. They have a low level of literacy and health.
Distinctive culture, language and religion: They have developed their own distinctive culture, language and religion, community-wise.
Shyness of contact: They have marginal degree of contact with other cultures and people
MAKE IN NORTHEAST
The initiative will seek to promote exclusive Northeast expertise in areas like tea processing, organic farming, food processing, and wind power generation, AYUSH and wellness therapies like spas.
Assam has the highest contribution of less than 30 per cent (2013-14) closely followed by Sikkim, which is a leader in organic farming and tourism.
SARDAR PATEL URBAN HOUSING MISSION- HOUSING FOR ALL
Sardar Patel Urban Housing Mission’ will soon be launched to ensure housing for all by 2022 by building 30 million houses for the economically weaker sections and low income groups.
To be built through public-private-partnership, interest subsidy and increased flow of resources to the housing sector, these houses are also aimed at creating slum free cities across the country.
NITI AAYOG (Chart from the PDF directly of Jan)
PRESIDENT GIVES ASSENT TO SETTING UP OF NJAC
The bill, 124th amendment to the Constitution, grants Constitutional status to the NJAC and its
composition which will be headed by the Chief Justice of India.
The approved bill provides for the new Article 124A of the Constitution of India, which will define the composition of the JAC. Article 124B will identify its functions
Constitution of – NJAC—Six-member Commission had-
The CJI as chairperson , ex officio ,
Two senior most Supreme Court judges as members ,next to the CJI – ex officio,
The Union Minister of Law and Justice, ex-officio
Two eminent persons
(to be nominated by a committee consisting of the CJI, PM and the Leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha or where there is no such Leader of Opposition, then, the Leader of single largest Opposition Party in Lok Sabha), provided that of the two eminent persons, one person would be from the S C or ST or OBC or minority communities or a woman. The eminent persons shall be nominated for a period of three years and shall not be eligible for re-nomination.
Role of NJAC:
The NJAC is expected to usher in transparency in judicial appointments in the highest courts and end the highest judiciary’s two-decade-old grip over appointments of judges through the collegium system.
Under the present Collegium system, the CJI would consult the four senior most judges of the SC for Supreme Court appointments and two senior-most judges for high court appointments.
It would restore an equal role for the executive in higher judicial appointments.
Ensuring that the persons recommended are of ability and integrity
RIGHT TO VOTE FOR UNDERTRIALS
Right to vote is not a fundamental right or a constitutional right but is only a statutory right. Being a statutory right, the legislature can determine the terms on which the right to vote is to be enjoyed by the people of India subject to Articles 325 and 326 of the Constitution.
Section 62(5) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 governing the “right to vote”, stipulates that
no person shall vote in any election if they are confined in a prison “under a sentence of imprisonment
or transportation or otherwise” or are in the “lawful custody” of the police.
Chapter 43 of the Reference Handbook on the General Elections, 2014 also makes it clear that
“undertrial prisoners” are not eligible to vote, even if their names are on the electoral rolls.
India denies voting rights to not only individuals convicted of a crime and serving a sentence in prison,
but also to undertrials and even those in police custody.
The Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC) is the principal institution of the United States Chamber of Commerce handling all issues relating to intellectual property. The GIPC champions intellectual property (IP) rights as vital to creating jobs, saving lives, and advancing global economic growth.
In the 2015 GIPC Index, India ranked 29 out of the featured 30 countries
WORLD PRESS FREEDOM INDEX (WPFI)
World Press Freedom Index is produced by France based international nongovernmental organization Reporters Without Borders (RWB).
WPFI aims to promote and defends freedom of information and freedom of the press.
The WPFI ranks the performance of countries according to index calculated based upon various
parameters. Few important parameters are given below:
media pluralism and independence
respect for the safety and freedom of journalists and
The legislative, institutional and infrastructural environment in which the media operate
India was ranked 136 out of 180 nations;
To measure the extent of backwardness, researchers looked at five indicators:
Agricultural workers as a proportion of all workers
Female literacy rate
Access to electricity
Access to water and sanitation and
Access to banking
A Resilient City is one that has developed capacities to help absorb future shocks and stresses to its
social, economic, and technical systems and infrastructures so as to still be able to maintain essentially the same functions, structures, systems, and identity.”
“100 RESILIENT CITIES” (100RC) NETWORK
100RC, pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation, is dedicated to helping cities around the world become more resilient to the physical, social and economic challenges that are a growing part of the 21st century.
100 Resilient Cities takes the view that resilience enables cities
To evaluate their exposure to specific shocks and stresses,
To develop a proactive and integrated plan to address those challenges, and
To respond to them more effectively.
Resilience is about making cities better, for both the short and long term, for everyone.
CHRONIC STRESSES Weaken the fabric of a city on a day to day or cyclical basis. Examples of these stresses
include high unemployment; an overtaxed or inefficient public transportation system; endemic violence; and
chronic food and water shortages.
ACUTE SHOCKS are the sudden, sharp events that threaten a city, including earthquakes, floods, disease
outbreaks, and terrorist attacks.
Three Indian cities, Bengaluru, Chennai and Surat have made it to the 100 Resilient Cities (100RC)
project, run by the New Yorkbased nonprofit organisation Rockefeller Foundation.
The financial commitment for the project is $100 million. The cities would get funds to recruit the chief
resilience officer. Other than that, support would be in the form of tools, people and the network.
Two States and one Union Territory — Nagaland, Mizoram and Puducherry — have no women MLAs.
Four additional States — Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Telangana and Punjab — have women MLAs, but no women Ministers.
SPECIAL COMMERCIAL COURTS
Recommendations of Law commission in its 253rd report:
To set up special commercial courts for the speedy disposal of “high value commercial suits” and suggested “substantial” changes in the Civil Procedure Code.
Establishment of a commercial division in the High Courts to ensure speedy disposal of highvalue commercial suits.
A commercial appellate division will hear appeals on the orders and decrees of the commercial courts.
The Chief Justice will nominate judges with expertise and experience in commercial matters to the commercial and appellate courts.
All pending commercial disputes beyond the specified value will be transferred to the commercial division.
COMMERCIAL DIVISIONS BILL/ACT
The Commercial Divisions bill introduces a commercial division in every high court having original jurisdiction and commercial courts in such districts, as the Central government, in consultation with the concerned State government and Chief Justice of the concerned High Court, may establish.
The bill will define ‘commercial disputes’ so as to include ordinary transactions of merchants, bankers, financiers, joint ventures, partnerships, insurance companies and so on.
These specialised courts will resolve all “commercial” disputes of value of over Rs. 1 crore.
The Bill provides for a fast track mechanism with stringent timelines.
For the first time it introduces in the Indian system the concept of a case management conference wherein a procedural order is passed prior to trial, setting out a time table (including timebound oral arguments supplemented with written arguments) which has to be strictly adhered to.
The court is given wide powers to ensure that strict compliance is enforced. Moreover, the court, too, is mandated to deliver its judgment within a period of 90 days.
The Bill also makes mandatory the ‘cost follow the event’ regime, whereby, as a general rule, the party against whom the order/judgment is passed bears the entire cost of litigation, subject to exceptions where delaying parties, even if successful, have to bear part of the cost.
The Centre has asked all the schools and higher educational institutions to celebrate February 21 as
“Matrubhasha Divas” by organising daylong activities like group songs and essay competitions in Indian languages, with the UNESCO recently declaring it as International Mother Tongue Day.
Currently, five states — Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh and Himachal Pradesh — have anticonversion laws in place to prevent forced conversions. The laws do not ban conversions so long as they are voluntary.
PHARMA JAN SAMADHAN SCHEME
The Union Minister of Chemicals & Fertilizers launched ‘Pharma Jan Samadhan’ scheme.
It is a web enabled system for redressal of consumers’ grievances relating to pricing and availability of
It is created by National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA).
Pharma Jan Samadhan will provide consumers and others with an on-line facility to redress their
complaints relating to over-pricing of medicines, non-availability or shortage of medicines, sale of new
medicines without prior price approval of NPPA, and refusal of supply for sale of any medicine without
good and sufficient reason.
NPPA will initiate action on any complaint within 48 hrs of its receipt.
This phama-literacy initiative would create awareness among the people and would act as a deterrence
against black-marketing, spurious medicines, and inflated cost of drugs.
This step will empower the common man.
ATAL INNOVATION MISSION (AIM)
Finance minister announced the Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), in the NITI Aayog, with an initial fund of
Rs 150 crore for research and development.
AIM would draw upon national and international experiences to foster a culture of innovation, research
and development and scientific research in India.
AIM will be involving academicians, entrepreneurs and researchers.
PRICE STABILISATION FUND
The Department of Agriculture & Cooperation has approved the Price Stabilisation Fund (PSF) as a Central
Sector Scheme. The Price Stabilization Fund (500 Cr) will be managed centrally by a Price Stabilization Fund Management Committee (PSFMC) which will approve all proposals from State.
The objective of the PSF is to support market interventions for price control of perishable agri-horticultural
commodities during 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17.
Revolving fund: For this purpose, the States will set up a revolving fund to which Centre and State
will contribute equally (50:50).
Procurement of these commodities will be undertaken directly from farmers or farmers’ organizations at
farm gate/mandi and made available at a more reasonable price to the consumers.
Initially the fund is proposed to be used for onion and potato only.
The Government may have three types of agricultural policies to influence price behaviour, namely
production policies (influencing production), trade policies (export/import policy influences domestic
supplies) and direct price stabilisation policies such as buffer stocks, emergency reserves, price controls,
and prohibition of private trade.
URJA SANGAM 2015 – INDIA’S GLOBAL HYDROCARBON SUMMIT
Prime Minister inaugurated ‘UrjaSangam 2015’ at VigyanBhavan, New Delhi, which is India’s biggest
global hydrocarbon meet, aimed at shaping India’s energy security.
UrjaSangam aims to showcase India’s potential in the hydrocarbon sector to the world and create an
investor-friendly atmosphere, besides positioning India’s thought leadership by creating a new “Energy
Security” platform. On the global level, the summit aims to firm up cooperation agreements with key
PM urged all stakeholders to increase the domestic production of Oil and Gas to reduce import
dependence from 77 % to 67% by the year 2022.
The Prime Minister appealed to well-to-do sections of Indian society to voluntarily give up LPG subsidy,
so that the benefit of the same could be shared more widely with poorer sections of society.
CATTLE SLAUGHTER AND THE BAN ON BEEF
The bill amends Maharashtra Animal Preservation Act 1976 and bans slaughter of bulls and bullocks in the state.
However, this Act allows slaughter of water buffaloes, which provides carabeef that is generally considered as an inferior quality meat.
BHARAT RATNA FOR A B VAJPAYEE AND MADAN MOHAN MALVIYA
Former PM A B Vajpayee and late educationist Madan Mohan Malviya have been awarded Bharat Ratna.
It is country’s highest civilian award given to citizens for their exceptional work in the field of art, literature and science, and public service. In Dec’ 2011, govt had changed the criteria for including sportsperson for this award thus added category for performance of highest order in any field of human endeavour. The Prime Minister himself recommend this awrad to the President.
The recipient receives a Sanad (certificate) signed by the President and a medallion. It does not carry any monetary grant.
So far 45 people have been honoured with the Bharat Ratna since its inception (including Madan Mohan Malviya and A. B. Vajpayee). In February 2014, it was awarded to eminent scientist Prof C.N.R. Rao and cricketer Sachin Tendulkar.
Madan Mohan Malviya
o Born on 25 Dec’1861 and was an educationist and notable politician.
o He founded Asia’s largest residential university – Banaras Hindu University.
o Malviya was the President of the INC in 1909, 1918, 1932 and 1933.
o A staunch proponent of Hindu nationalism. Associated with right-wing Hindu Mahasabha.
o He died in 1946.
o Born on 25th Dec’ 1924.
o Elected to the LokSabha for 9 times and twice to the RajyaSabha.
o Cabinet Minister of External Affairs in Janta Government headed by Morarji Desai from 1977-79.
o First PM from outside the Congress party to serve a full five-year term.
o He is amongst the founder members of erstwhile Bharatiya Jana Sangh which later became
known as BJP in 1980.
o In 2009, he retired from active politics due to health concerns.
o Recently, Union government had announced to observe his birthday as Good Governance Day.
Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana
Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana is National Mission for Financial Inclusion. Its objective is to eradicate financial exclusion by covering all households in the country with banking facilities and having a bank account for each household.
Key Features of the Scheme
PMJDY has been launched in mission mode and its objective is to ensure access to financial services, namely, Banking/ Savings & Deposit Accounts, Remittance, Credit, Insurance, Pension in an affordable manner. Several key features of the scheme include:
Interest on deposit
Accidental insurance cover of Rupee One Lakh.
No minimum balance required
Life insurance cover of Rs.30,000/-
Easy Transfer of money across India
Further, the beneficiaries of Government Schemes would get Direct Benefit Transfer in these accounts; After satisfactory operation of the account for 6 months, an overdraft facility will be permitted; Access to Pension, insurance products.; Accidental Insurance Cover, RuPay Debit Card must be used at least once in 45 days; Overdraft facility upto Rs.5000/- is available in only one account per household, preferably lady of the household.
Digital India Programme
• Umbrella programme which includes the hitherto National Optical Fiber Network (NOFN) to connect 2,50,000 gram Panchayats by providing internet connectivity to all citizens.
• To be completed in phased manner by 2019.
• To be monitored by a Digital India committee comprised of several ministers.
• Contemplates creation of massive infrastructure to provide high-speed internet at the gram level, e-availability of major government services like health, education, security, justice, financial inclusion etc. thereby digitally empowering citizens.
• Will also ensure public answerability via a unique ID, e-Pramaan based on standard government applications and fully online delivery of services.
• Has capacity to create huge number of jobs.
• If implemented well, will be a great boost for the electronics industry in India and expectedly will see a fall in imports of electronics.
Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana
On the birth anniversary of Jayaprakash Narayan, PM Modi launched the Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana keeping his commitment, he made to the nation in his Independence Day speech. The scheme is properly and religiously implemented will revolutionize the village economies and culture. It encourages MPs or Sansads to identify and develop one village from their respective constituency as a model village by 2016 and two more by 2019. This will ensure development of 2500 villages. Here are some of the highlights of the Yojana:
• MPs are required to pick one village with a population of 3000-4000 in plains and 1000-3000 in hills within a month of the launch.
• MPs cannot pick villages which belong to themselves or their spouses.
• The scheme requires them to draft a village development plan, motivate inhabitants to participate in growth via different activities, identify gaps in funding and mobilising MPLAD funds to create additional resources specifically from CSR initiatives of various corporate houses, in areas of sanitation and water supply.
• The outcomes of the same should cover a wide spectrum of indicators like health, nutrition and education through organising and monitoring immunization drives, improving standard and quality of mid-day meal schemes, improving Aadhaar enrolment, setting up “smart schools” with IT-enabled classrooms and e-libraries, Panchayat infrastructure improvement under schemes such as MGNREGA and Backward Regions Grants Fund etc.
Social development and harmony should be encouraged through activities like identifying and celebrating a village day, a village song and also laying stress on alternate modes of dispute resolution.
• The scheme also has provisions to plug all gaps which were hitherto a mark of every government yojana. The implementation will be ensured by web-based monitoring and an initial 5-month review by an independent agency. District Collectors will carry ground-level surveys along with monthly review meetings to monitor progress . At the State-level too, Chief Secretaries will head empowered committee on the same and the Minister for Rural Development and Secretary, Rural Development, will chair two national-level committees to track the scheme
USTAD stands for Upgrading the Skills and Training in Traditional Arts/Crafts for Development Scheme. It was recently launched by Union Minister of Minority Affairs Dr. Najma Heptullah in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh in order to improve degrading conditions of world famous Banaras Saree weavers who belong to minority communities.
• The Scheme aims at upgrading Skills and Training of minority communities by preservation of traditional ancestral Arts and Crafts.
• It also envisages boosting the skill of craftsmen, weavers and artisans who are already engaged in the traditional ancestral work.
• Under the scheme, assistance will be provided to traditional artisans to sell their products in order to make them more compatible with modern markets.
• It is fully funded by Union Government and Union Ministry of Minority Affairs is nodal agency in implementing it.
Namami Gange Project
Namami Gange Project or Namami Ganga Yojana is an ambitious Union Government Project which integrates the efforts to clean and protect the Ganga river in a comprehensive manner. It its maiden budget, the governnment announced Rs. 2037 Crore towards this mission. The project is officially known as Integrated Ganga Conservation Mission project or ‘Namami Ganga Yojana’.
This project aims at Ganga Rejuvenation by combining the existing ongoing efforts and planning under it to create a concrete action plan for future.
Salient Project features
Over Rs. 20,000 crore has been sanctioned in 2014-2015 budget for the next 5 years.
Will cover 8 states, 47 towns & 12 rivers under the project.
Over 1,632 gram panchayats on the banks of Ganga to be made open defecation-free by 2022.
Several ministries are working with nodal Water Resources Ministry for this project includes – Environment, Urban Development , Shipping, Tourism & Rural Development Ministries.
Prime focus will be on involving people living on the river’s banks in this project.
Under the aegis of National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) & State Programme Management Groups (SPMGs) States and Urban Local Bodies and Panchayati Raj institutions will be involved in this project.
Setting river centric urban planning process to facilitate better citizen connects, through interventions at Ghats and River fronts.
Expansion of coverage of sewerage infrastructure in 118 urban habitations on banks of Ganga.
Enforcement of Ganga specific River Regulatory Zones.
Development of rational agricultural practices & efficient irrigation methods.
Setting Ganga Knowledge Centre.
Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana
Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY) is a proposed scheme by the Government of India which envisages connecting the irrigation system’s three crucial components – The Field application, water sources & distribution network for optimal usage.
In the recent budget 2014-15 over Rs. 1000 crore were allotted to rejuvenate irrigation sector.
The new irrigation scheme aims to cover un-irrigated 65 per cent of the total 142 million hectares of farm land.
It primly focuses on ‘end-to-end solution’ in irrigation supply chain by implementing the new programme in a “project mode” with decentralised state-level planning and execution.
PMKSY projects would be scrutinised by the State Level Project Screening Committee (SLPSC) and sanctioned by the State Level Sanctioning Committee, which is already set under Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana.
The state agriculture department would be the nodal agency for implementation of PMKSY projects with inter-ministerial National Steering Committee (NSC) for periodic review of the same.
The funds under PMKSY will be allocated only if state government has prepared the district irrigation plans and state irrigation plans.
PMKSY funds would be given to states as 75 per cent grant by the central government and the remaining 25 per cent share is to be borne by the state government. But, for the northeastern region and hilly states, the funding pattern would be 90:10.
PMKSY envisage interlinking of perennial rivers to avoid drought and floods situations.
Soli Health Card will be issues to farmers to know their soil contents for better production.
Strengthening of Krishi Vigyan Kendras or agriculture science centres in all the districts of the country to aid the farmers with new technology up gradation for irrigation.
Linkage of this scheme with the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Scheme to channelize the available work force to productive & value added work.
Shramev Jayate (Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay Shramev Jayate Karyakram)
The scheme is aimed at creating conducive environment for industrial development and doing business with ease. At least four crore laborers are expected to benefit from this scheme. Several initiatives were taken by the Government under the scheme.
A dedicated Shram Suvidha Portal which would allot Labour Identification Number (LIN) to nearly 6 lakhs units and allow them to file online compliance for 16 out of 44 labour laws.
National Ayush Mission
Government has permitted the launching of National Ayush Mission (NAM) to attend to the gaps in health services in vulnerable and far-flung parts of the country. The judgment to launch the NAM was taken in a meeting of the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Via the AYUSH Mission (Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy), the Govt. is looking forward to address gaps in health services by backing the attempts of state governments for delivering Ayush health services and education in the country, mainly in vulnerable and remote areas. The Mission will assist in improving the Ayush education via improvement in the number of advanced educational institutions and deliver improved access to Ayush services via growth in number of Ayush hospitals and dispensaries. The mission will also assist sustained accessibility of quality raw material for Ayush systems of medicine and advance accessibility of quality drugs via growth in number of pharmacies and drug laboratories.
Vanbandhu Kalyan Yojana
Vanbandhu Kalyan Yojana has been launched on pilot basis in only 1 block in each of the 10 states viz. Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Telangana, Orissa, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Gujarat. The overall objective of the scheme is to raise the level of Tribals by focusing on the below:
• Provision of a better living standard and quality of life
• Improving access to and quality of education
• Generating resources for long-term and sustainable growth
• Bridging infrastructural gaps
• Protection of tribal culture and heritage
Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana
This is a General Insurance Scheme which provides an insurance cover at a minimal annual premium for death or disability of the person due to accidents.
• The risk coverage of the scheme for accidental death or full disability is Rs. 2 lakhs and for partial disability is Rs. 1 lakh.
• Anyone who falls in the age-bracket of 18-70 years can avail the benefit of this scheme and get enrolled.
• He should have a bank account linked with his Aadhaar card. He/she has to fill a simple form before June 1, every year and also declare the name of his nominee. The people who subscribe have to renew it every year or give instructions of auto-debit to bank every year to avoid hassles. The annual premium is a meagre amount of Rs. 12. This is comparatively very reasonable as similar insurance in private sector would have a premium of Rs. 100, as per experts. The payments will be automatically debuted from the subscriber’s account annually.
• It will be offered by all the public-sector insurance companies like New India Assurance Company, National Insurance Company, United India Insurance Company, The Oriental Insurance Company etc. These will operate by tie-ups with respective banks.
• Other ministries of government will also contribute to the scheme for different categories of beneficiaries with from Public Welfare Fund created from unclaimed money or their budget. The common publicity expenditure will be taken care of by the government.
The scheme which promises to bring affordable insurance cover to many individuals who were far from insurance net might not bring much cheer to middle class as the cover is inadequate.
Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana
This is a Life Insurance scheme which guarantees cover of Rs. 2 lakhs in case of natural or accidental death. Anybody who has an Aadhaar number with a linked bank account and falls in the age- bracket of 18-50 years can enrol for the same.
• The annual premium for the scheme is Rs. 330 which has to be automatically debited from the subscriber’s bank account. Anyone can either renew the scheme annually or opt for the long-term provision in which case the amount will be automatically deducted.
• The scheme will be majorly implemented by Life Insurance Corporation of India. Other insurers can also join if willing.
Atal Pension Yojana
Atal Pension Yojana would gradually replace the Swavalamban Scheme which did not cover many people due to ambiguities in benefits after 60. Also, latter did not have minimum guaranteed pension provision. The main attraction of Atal Pension Yojana is that it guarantees a minimum pension amount at the age of 60, to subscribers which will vary from Rs. 1000 per month; Rs. 2000 per month; Rs. 3000 per month; Rs. 4000 per month and Rs. 5000 per month depending upon their contributions.
• The minimum age of joining APY is 18 years and maximum age is 40 years.
• The minimum period of contribution by subscriber is 20 years or more.
• The Central Government will contribute 50% of the subscriber’s contribution or Rs. 1000 per annum for a period of 5 years. This provision is for people who are non-tax payers and join NPS before 31stDecember, 2015.
Atal Pension Yojana will become operational from 1st June, 2015. Anybody who has attained the desired age and has an Aadhaar number along with a linked bank account can enrol for the scheme. Government will undertake all expenses incurred during promotional and development activities done to incentivise people to join the scheme.
Self Employment and Talent Utilization (SETU) Scheme
SETU or Self Employment and Talent Utilization Scheme is a techno-financial, incubation and facilitation programme to give support and encouragement to young start-ups and other selfemployment technology-intensive ideas. An allocation of Rs. 1000 Crore has been made for SETU Scheme. This amount will initially rest with the NITI Aayog. It will involve setting up of incubation centres and enhance skill development. It aims to create around 100,000 jobs through start-ups.
Shramev Jayate (Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay Shramev Jayate Karyakram)
Shramev Jayate program aimed at creating conducive environment for industrial development and ease of doing business through introduction of several labour reforms. This program was launched to support the ‘Make in India’ campaign of India for encouragement of manufacturing sector, thus felt need to bring labour reforms. This program targets to benefit at least four crore labourers. Schemes launched under Shramev Jayate Programs are:
Shram Suvidha Portal:
Developed by Ministry Labour & Employment to create a conducive environment for industrial development. The main features of this Portal are:
Allocation Unique labour identification number (LIN) to labour to facilitate online registration.
The compliances would be reportable in Single Harmonized Form which will make it simple and easy for those filing such forms.
Filing of self-certified and simplified Single Online Return by the industry.
Labour inspector can upload inspection report within 72 hours.
This portal will help timely redressal of grievances.
Above features will bring ease in compliance of provisions related to labour and will be a step forward in promoting the ease of doing business. Under this it is proposed to allot LIN to all these 6-7 lakh units.
Labour Inspection scheme:
A transparent Labour Inspection scheme is being developed to bring in transparency in labour inspection. The following features of the inspection scheme are:
Inspection list will also contain serious matters regarding employee.
A computerized list of inspections will be generated randomly.
Complaints based inspections will be determined centrally after examination based on data and evidence.
Provision of Emergency List of serious cases in specific circumstances.
AMENDMENTS TO THE PREVENTION OF CORRUPTION ACT, 1988
The Union Cabinet gave its approval to amend the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.The proposed amendments would fill in perceived gaps in the domestic anti-corruption law and also help in meeting the country’s obligations under the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) more effectively.
The proposed amendments are mainly aimed at laying down more stringent measures to tackle corruption as follows:
Providing for more stringent punishment for the offences of bribery, both for the bribe giver and the bribe taker.
Penal provisions being enhanced from minimum 6 months to 3 years and from maximum 5 years to 7 years (The seven year imprisonment brings corruption to the heinous crime category).
To contain gain of benefits from profits of corruption, the powers of attachment are proposed to be conferred upon the trial Court (Special Judge) instead of the District Court.
The ambit of the existing Act will be enhanced to make commercial entities liable for inducement of public servants. Under the present law, only individuals are liable.
The proposed amendment bill also provides for issue of guidelines to commercial organisations to prevent persons associated with them from bribing a public servant.
The average trial period of cases under PC Act in the last 4 years has been above 8 years. It is proposed to ensure speedy trial by providing a trial completion within 2 years.
Intentional enriching by public servants will be construed as criminal misconduct and possession of disproportionate assets as proof of such illicit enrichment.
Non-monetary gratification has been covered within the definition of the word gratification.
By way of explanation 2 to section 7(2), the obligation of a public servant has been explicitly delineated such that the public servant deters from violating a statutory duty or any set of rules, government policies, executive instructions and procedures.
It is also proposed to extend the protection of prior sanction for prosecution to public servants who cease to hold office due to retirement, resignation etc.Further, prior sanction for inquiry and investigation shall be required from the Lokpal or Lokayukta, as the case may be, for investigation of offences relatable to recommendations made or decision taken by a public servant in discharge of official functions or duties.
REAL ESTATE (REGULATION AND DEVELOPMENT) BILL
SOME MAJOR POINTS OF THIS BILL
Real Estate Regulatory Authority will be formed for every state/UT which will mandate and regulate the rules pertaining to real estate transactions.
The Bill provides for mandatory registration of all projects with the Real Estate Regulatory Authority in each State. Real estate agents who intend to sell any plot, apartment or building should also register themselves with this authority
It makes mandatory the disclosure of all information for registered projects like details of promoters, layout plan, land status, schedule of execution and status of various approvals
The Bill seeks to make property brokers accountable as they have also been made punishable for noncompliance of the orders of Regulatory Authority and Appellate Tribunals to be set under the law.
50% of the money received from the buyer needs to be deposited in a bank; solely for the purpose of construction alone. Any ‘major’ changes to the original design and construction plan of the project needs approval from atleast2/3rd of all allottees of the project.
It seeks to enforce the contract between the developer and buyer and act as a fast track mechanism to settle disputes.
NATIONAL AGRICULTURE INSURANCE SCHEME(NAIS)
The Government introduced in 1999-2000, a new scheme titled “National Agricultural Insurance Scheme” (NAIS) or “Rashtriya Krishi Bima Yojana” (RKBY).NAIS envisages coverage of all food crops (cereals and pulses), oilseeds, horticultural and commercial crops. It covers all farmers, both loanees and non-loanees, under the scheme.
NAIS operates on the basis of:
Area approach- defined areas for each notified crop for widespread calamities.
On individual basis- for localized calamities such as hailstorms, landslides, cyclones and floods.
GREENPRINT FOR SUSTAINABILITY AND ECOLOGICAL RESTORATION
Some critical points for action in executing the plan for “Green India” are discussed below:
Refocus the relevant laws
Remodel the federal structure
Restructure the Indian Forest Service (IFS).
There is the matter of financial independence
Some attention needs to be paid to wildlife and heritage towns
Developing wildlife tourism.
SECTION 499 AND 500 OF THE INDIAN PENAL CODE
Section 499 and 500 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, pertaining to criminal defamation.
Section 499 defines the offence ‘defamation’.
Section 500. (Punishment for defamation): Whoever defames another shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.
As the law stands, defamation is both a civil wrong and a criminal offence. In a civil action, a person may be sued for monetary compensation while a criminal wrong can invite imprisonment up to two years.
The constitutionality of these provisions has been challenged in the Supreme Court and the court has issued notice to the government.
The Hindu had in 2003 filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court challenging the vires of Section 499, inter alia on grounds that it violated the freedom of press guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a).
The petitions contend that Sections 499 and 500 of the IPC travel beyond the restrictions enshrined in Article 19(2), thus constricting free speech beyond reasonable limits.
Under Article 19(2), free speech can be curtailed only by way of reasonable restrictions. Such a restriction must not be arbitrary or excessive, and the impairment of freedom must be ‘as little as possible’. But criminal prosecution in India can be incredibly harassing and intimidating, and have a chilling effect, thus being an ‘unreasonable’ restriction.
WHAT IS A SMART CITY?
A city equipped with basic infrastructure to give a decent quality of life, a clean and sustainable environment of some smart solutions.
Assured water and electricity supply, sanitation and solid waste management, efficient urban mobility and public transport, robust IT connectivity, e-governance & citizen participation, safety & security of citizens.
Public information, grievance redressal, electronic service delivery, citizens’ engagement, waste to energy compost, 100% treatment of waste water, smart meters & management, monitoring water quality, renewable source of energy, efficient energy & green building, smart parking, intelligent traffic management system.
THE ATAL MISSION FOR REJUVENATION AND URBAN TRANSFORMATION (AMRUT)
The Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) of 500 cities, which replaces the
Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission, with outlays of Rs. 50,000 crore.
AMRUT, which seeks to lay a foundation to enable cities and towns to eventually grow into smart cities, will be implemented in 500 locations with a population of one lakh and above.
Assistance from the centre for AMRUT will amount to 50 percent of project cost for cities and towns with a population of up to a million and one-third of the project cost for those with a population of above a million. Central assistance will be released in three instalments in the ratio of 20:40:40 based on achievements.
AMRUT will focus on ensuring basic infrastructure services such as water supply, sewerage, storm water drains, transport and development of green spaces and parks with special provision for meeting the needs of children.
Implementation will be linked to promotion of urban reforms such as e-governance, setting up of professional municipal cadre, devolving funds and functions to urban local bodies, review of building bye-laws, improvement in assessment and collection of municipal taxes, credit rating of urban local bodies, energy and water audit and citizen-centric urban planning.
RENEWABLE ENERGY SECTOR
The Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) decision to grant special status to the renewable energy sector, among others, under priority sector lending, is expected to accrue large benefits for the sector. Renewable Energy has come under priority sector lending along with medium enterprises and social infrastructure.
It will help government to achieve 100 GW of green energy target by 2022.
This will boost investments from the SME sector in renewable space as finance will be available at a competitive rate.
The move will help SMEs to grow and expand their manufacturing capacity as they would become competitive
Now commercial banks need to extend loans of up to a limit of Rs.15 crore to borrowers for setting up solar based power generators, biomass based power generators, wind mills, micro-hydel plants and for non-conventional energy based public utilities such as street lighting systems and remote village electrification.
For individual households, the loan limit will be Rs.10 lakh per borrower.
STEM refers to science, technology, engineering and mathematics. STEM talents are in great demand in
workplaces today. However, according to various studies, it’s a demand that is not being adequately met
by the current education system.
In its ‘Analysis of Talent Supply and Demand’ report 2014, NASSCOM says, “The country is churning out a
number of engineers every year, but only 21 per cent of the total engineering graduates are
One of the reasons for poor development of STEM skills is the lack of linkage between education and
industry. Exposure to industry would enable students to acquire these skills as part of their natural
learning process. In the Indian scenario, such opportunities are scarce for college students
It has been established the world over that 80 per cent of the fastest growing occupations require STEM
China, India and Brazil are the largest producers of STEM graduates, in that order, together accounting
for 88 per cent of STEM graduates.
E-TOURIST VISA ( Ministry of Home Affairs)
The “Tourist Visa on Arrival-Electronic Travel Authorization (TvoA-ETA)” scheme, which was launched in 2014 to
facilitate short duration visits by travellers from as many as 44 countries, has now been renamed “e-Tourist Visa”
to clarify that it is not an on-arrival scheme.
The name of the scheme [TVoA-ETA] is creating confusion among tourists, who are under the impression that the
visa is being granted on arrival.
UNION CABINET APPROVES AMENDMENTS TO THE WHISTLE BLOWERS
PROTECTION ACT, 2011
The amendments incorporate necessary provisions aimed at strengthening safeguards against
disclosures which may prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of the country, security of the
State, scientific or economic interest of the State etc.
Safeguards have also been provided in respect of such disclosures which have been exempted under
section 8(1) of the RTI Act, 2005.
Whistle-Blowers Act 2011
Definition: Whistle blowing is the act of disclosing information by an employee or a stakeholder on
illegal or unethical conduct within an organisation. This mechanism was established in 2004 through a
government notification, which was issued on the direction of Supreme Court after the murder of
SatyendraDubey, a whistleblower.
In 2007, the second ARC recommended that a law be passed to shield informants from retribution.
India is also a signatory to the UN Convention against Corruption, which includes provisions for
protecting whistle blowers.
Features of The Act
1. The Act provides that any public servant or any other person including an NGO may make a public
interest disclosure to a Competent Authority(which can then conduct an inquiry and recommend
appropriate action against the guilty to head of the organization), notwithstanding anything
contained in the provisions of the Official Secrets Act, 1923 in Public interest.
2. The Competent Authority under the Act include
o The PM/CM for Ministers
o Chairman/ Speaker of legislature for MPs/MLAs
o High Court in relation to any subordinate judge
o Central/State Vigilance Commissions/other designated authority, for employees of Central &
State Government organizations
o Appropriate CA to be designated for Armed Forces/ forces charged with the maintenance of
public order/ any intelligence organisation or any person connected with the
telecommunication systems for these organisations.
3. CA may seek assistance of the CBI/ police authorities/ any other authority to carry out inquiries
under the Act. For the purpose of inquiries, CA shall have all the powers of a civil court.
4. Directions of CA are binding. Public authority to act on recommendations of CA within 3 months
(max. 6 months) or record reasons in writing for disagreement, else pay penalty up to 30,000 rupees
for non-compliance with CA directions.
5. The Special Protection Group (SPG) has been kept out of the ambit of act. The demand to include
higher judiciary (Judges of Supreme Court and High Courts) has been rejected.
6. It ensures confidentiality and penalizes any public official that reveals a complainant’s identity,
without proper approval, with up to three years imprisonment and a fine of up to 50,000 rupee.
PARLIAMENT PASSES INDIA-BANGLADESH LAND BOUNDARY AGREEMENT
The SC in Berubari case 1960 held that the power of Parliament to diminish the area of state (under Art 3) does not cover cession of Indian Territory to a foreign country. Hence, Indian Territory can be ceded to a foreign state only by amending the Constitution under Article 368.
119th Constitutional Amendment Bill –
In line with the Berubari judgement, the Government of India came up with the 119th Constitutional
Amendment Bill as it requires ceding part of Indian Territory to Bangladesh. It involves exchange of land
in 111 Indian enclaves in Bangladesh and 51 Bangladeshi enclaves on Indian soil. Indian enclaves in
Bangladesh are spread over 17,149 acres, while Bangladesh enclaves in India are located in 7,110 acres
of land, implying that India will have to cecede some part of its territory.
Since it provides for exchange of territories in the States of Assam, West Bengal, Meghalaya, and
Tripura, the bill amends paragraph relating to the territories of Assam, West Bengal, Meghalaya, and
Tripura in the First Schedule of the Constitution
UN PUBLIC SERVICE AWARD
Nadia, which was declared as the first “open defecation free”district in country, has won the United
Nations Public Service Award 2015 in the category of improving delivery of public services.
Nadia has earned praise for making available toilets for all under the programme “Sabar Shouchagar.
Other Districts -While Hooghly and Burdwan districts have bagged the second and third positions,
Jaisalmer in Rajasthan also features in the top 10 list of open defecation free districts.
UNDERTRIAL REVIEW COMMITTEE
BLACK MONEY BILL
The Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets (Imposition of Tax) Bill, 2015, popularly known as black money bill was passed by Parliament.
NEW BENAMI TRANSACTION (PROHIBITION) BILL, 2015
WHAT IS A ‘BENAMI’ TRANSACTION?
A transaction is considered benami (literally ‘nameless’ or ‘without a name’) when the consideration for a property that is transferred to a person or is held by him/her is paid by another person.
OBJECTIVE OF BILL:
To curb the generation of black money inside the country
The Bill seeks to amend the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 1988 and act as a major avenue for
blocking generation and holding of black money in the form of benami property, especially in real estate
The bill defined benami transaction as an arrangement where:
o The property is held by a person on behalf of another person who has paid for it
o The property has been bought in a fictitious name
o The owner of the property is not aware of or denies knowledge of such ownership.
These provisions, however, were not to apply to any transaction entered into by an individual in the
name of his mother, father, spouse, brother or sister.
It Provides for attachment and confiscation of benami properties and imposes fine with imprisonment.
With regards to penalties for benami transactions, the bill proposed a maximum punishment of two
It provided for the aggrieved party to move an Appellate Tribunal for the purpose and again the High
Court within 120 days of the tribunal’s order
CURB ON GOVERNMENT ADVERTISEMENTS
The court held that the photos of only three constitutional authorities – Prime Minister, President and Chief Justice of India – can be used in such ads. But for that too, the personal approval of these three authorities need to be got before publication.
EUTHANASIA: RIGHT TO LIFE VS RIGHT TO DIE
MEANING OF EUTHANASIA
The word euthanasia, originated in Greece, literary means a good death but in this context it means mercy Euthanasia encompasses various dimensions, from active (introducing something to cause death) to passive (withholding treatment or supportive measures); voluntary (consent) to involuntary (consent from guardian) and physician assisted (where physician’s prescribe the medicine and patient or the third party administers the medication to cause death).
Request for premature ending of life has contributed to the debate about the role of such practices in
contemporary health care. This debate cuts across complex and dynamic aspects such as legal, ethical, human rights, religious, economic, social and cultural aspects of the civilised society.killing.
SUPREME COURT GUIDELINES ON EUTHANASIA
Active euthanasia: Administering of lethal injection to snuff out life is illegal in India
Passive euthanasia: Withdrawing life support, treatment or nutrition that would allow a person to live,
was legalised by way of SC guidelines in 2011.
Parents, spouse, close kin, “next friend” can decide, in best interests of the patient, to discontinue life
support. The decision must be approved by a HC.
In dealing with such a plea,
Chief Justice of High Court must create a Bench of at least 2 judges to reach a decision.
Bench must nominate three reputed doctors.
A copy of the doctors’s panel report must be provided to close kin and State govt. Only then can
verdict be reached.
DEENDAYAL UPADHYAYA GRAM JYOTI YOJANA
This scheme will enable to initiate much awaited reforms in the rural areas. The earlier scheme for rural electrification viz. Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana (RGGVY) has been subsumed in the new scheme as its rural electrification component.
The major components of the scheme are:
Feeder separation. Rural feeder segregation is the separation of technical infrastructure of agriculture consumers from non-agriculture consumers.
Strengthening of sub-transmission and distribution network.
Metering at all levels (input points, feeders and distribution transformers).
Micro grid and off grid distribution network & Rural electrification.
BUDGETARY SUPPORT AND FUNDING MECHANISM
Grant portion of the Scheme is 60% for other than special category States (up to 75% on achievement of prescribed milestones) and 85% for special category States (up to 90% on achievement of prescribed
The milestones for the additional grant are: timely completion of the scheme, reduction in AT&C losses as per trajectory and upfront release of subsidy by State govt.
All North Eastern States including Sikkim, Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand are included in special category States.
Rural Electrification Corporation (REC) is the Nodal Agency for operationalization of this Scheme.
SCHEMES FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
The Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) has been implementing two special schemes for women namely Mahila Udyam Nidhi which is an exclusive scheme for providing equity to women entrepreneurs and the Mahila Vikas Nidhi which offers developmental assistance for pursuit of income generating activities to women.
THREE SOCIAL SECURITY SCHEMES LAUNCHED
The Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched three schemes — the Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana (PMJJBY), the Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana (PMSBY) and the Atal Pension Yojana (APY).
These initiatives are aimed at providing a universal social security net that will be linked to individual
user’s bank accounts.
The schemes — two insurance products and one pension product — are targeted especially to the
unorganised sector and economically weaker population but others can enroll themselves as well.
Renewable one year life cover of
Rs. 2 lakh
cover of Rs. 2
Focus on the unorganised
A fixed minimum pension of
Rs 1,000 to Rs 5,000 per
month starting at the age of
60 years, depending on the
All savings bank account holders
in the age group of 18-50 years.
All savings bank account
holders in the age
group of 18-70 years.
All savings bank account
holders in the age group of 18-
Rs. 330 per annum per
Rs. 12 per annum per
From Rs 42 to Rs 210 per month
for entry at the age of 18 years
Pension Fund Regulatory andDevelopment Authority (PFRDA)
RASHTRIYA RAJMARG ZILA SANJOYOKTA PARIYOJNA
After Bharat Mala and Sagar Mala— aimed at improving road connectivity in border areas and coastal
regions respectively — the government has now cleared plans to connect 100 of the 676 district
headquarters in the country with world-class highways.
The Rashtriya Rajmarg Zila Sanjoyokta Pariyojna entails development of 6,600 km of highways at an
estimated cost of about Rs 60,000 crore
NAMAMI GANGE PROGRAMME
The Union Cabinet approved the flagship “Namami Gange” Program which integrates the efforts to clean and protect the Ganga river in a comprehensive manner. The program will cover 12 rivers ( not just river Ganga) in 8 States.
‘NamamiGange’ will focus on pollution abatement interventions namely Interception, diversion & treatment of wastewater flowing through the open drains through bio-remediation / appropriate in-situ treatment / use of innovative technologies / sewage treatment plants (STPs) / effluent treatment plant (ETPs);
The program would be implemented by the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), and its state counterpart organizations i.e., State Program Management Groups (SPMGs). NMCG will also establish field offices wherever necessary. In order to improve implementation, a three-tier mechanism has been proposed for project monitoring comprising of
o High level task force chaired by Cabinet Secretary assisted by NMCG at national level,
o State level committee chaired by Chief Secretary assisted by SPMG at state level, and
o District level committee chaired by the District Magistrate.
Namami Gange Programme stresses on improved coordination mechanisms between the various
Ministries/Agencies of the central and state governments.
In an attempt to bolster enforcement the Centre also plans to establish a 4-battalion Ganga Eco-Task Force, a Territorial Army unit, apart from contemplating on a legislation that aims to check pollution and protect the river.
The government is focusing on involving people living on the banks of the river to attain sustainable
States and grassroots institutions such as Urban Local Bodies and Panchayati Raj institutions will be involved by implementing agency National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) and its state counterparts, State Programme Management Groups (SPMGs)
Centre will take over 100% funding of various activities/ projects under this program.
Taking a leaf from the unsatisfactory results of earlier Ganga Action Plans, the Centre now plans to
provide for operation & maintenance of the assets for a minimum 10 year period, and adopt a
PPP/SPV approach for pollution hotspots.
The program has a budget outlay of Rs. 20,000 crore for the next 5 years. This is a significant fourfold increase over the expenditure in the past 30 years (GoI has incurred an overall expenditure of
approximately Rs. 4000 crore on this task since 1985).
GLOBAL PEACE INDEX 2015
The Global Peace Index for 2015, released by nonprofit Institute for Economics and Peace, ranked 162 nations around the globe based on 22 indicators that includes military spending, homicide rates and deaths from conflict, civil disobedience and terrorism etc.
India ranks a lowly 143rd on a global peace index, lagging way behind the likes of Bhutan (18), Nepal (62), Sri Lanka (114) and Bangladesh (84). Pakistan is ranked at 154, while Afghanistan at 160.
Iceland has emerged as the most peaceful nation in the world. Six out of the top 10 most peaceful
countries were European, with Denmark and Austria holding the second and third. US is also ranked at a lowly 94 scoring badly in terms of militarisation, homicides and fear of violence. China is ranked 124.
BIBEK DEBROY COMMITTEE REPORT ON RESTRUCTURING OF RAILWAYS
The Bibek Debroy committee report on the restructuring of Indian Railways lays down a five-year roadmap to evolve a statutory rail regulator, scrap the Rail Budget and make room for more players in an “open access” regime which turns the Railways into just another train-service provider in the country.
Committee’s recommendations are based on three pillars: commercial accounting, changes in HR and an independent regulator.
The report envisages the creation of a Railway Ministry eventually with at least three Secretary-level officers (“not attached with the Railway Board”) to lay down policy for the rail sector, not just of Railways alone that “should ensure competition…encourage private entry and private investments.”
The report makes the existence of an independent, quasi-judicial Railway Regulatory Authority of India a prerequisite for reforms like un-bundling and restructuring of Railways. It will be up to the Regulator to decide technical standards, set freight rates and resolve disputes. The Regulator can recommend fare revisions but these will not be binding on the Railway Ministry.
The Regulator will work under the policy framed by the Ministry, while the present Railway Board will become a board of Indian Railways — the government-run operator — alone. The Board itself might be pruned to having only five secretary-level officers from the present seven.
The Rail Budget should cease to exist after 5 years and the government should take the entire burden of social cost borne by Railways by way of subsidy.
The first five years will see preparatory work: migration to a commercial accounting system (to figure out the social cost burden) in two years; uniform induction system of all new Human Resource; and devolution of powers to General Managers, Divisional Railway Managers and Station Managers.
It recommended separation of railway track construction, train operations, and rolling-stock production units under different entities to enable open access.
The Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation Limited (DFCCL) should be made autonomous and separated from Indian Railways so that it gives non-discriminatory access to both Indian Railways and private operators. The Committee does not recommend privatization of Indian Railways. It does, however endorse private entry… with the proviso of an independent regulator. The committee recommended commercial accounting as without it is difficult to know the rate of return on the projects.
GREENHOUSE GASES: INDIA FOURTH BIGGEST EMITTER
As the global community gears up for the crucial Paris climate summit, the World Resources
Institute (WRI) — a global research organization — has come out with its latest analyses of the countrywise emissions of climate-damaging greenhouse gases.
Six of the top 10 emitters are developing countries.
o China ranks first, contributing 25% of global emissions, making it the top emitter.
o The US and EU are the 2nd and 3rd largest emitters.
o India despite being the 4th largest carbon emitter continues to be far behind the other three
top big emitters in terms of per capita emission.
ANDHRA GOVERNMENT TO SET UP KRISHI CABINET
Chief Minister unveiled his plan to formulate a ‘Krishi cabinet’ with a group of ministers headed by him
to give more thrust on agriculture. With this, Andhra Pradesh is set to become third state
after Bihar and Madhya Pradesh to have the Krishi cabinet in the country.
The State has taken the lead in introducing a separate budget exclusively for agriculture in 2015-16. The Krishi cabinet will meet every month and take stock of the flow of funds for agriculture and the allied activities and implementation of the major plans pertained to these areas on a fast track.The Krishi cabinet would also aim at mitigating rural poverty by ensuring agriculture a profitable activity through the mission on primary sector.
INCREASING PULSE PRODUCTION IN INDIA
Pulses in India are grown on about 25 mha of land, largely rain-fed, with only 16 % under irrigation.
Production hovers between 18-20 MMT. Pulses need much less water and are nitrogen fixing, so they do not need much chemical fertiliser. India produced 101 MMT of rice from about 43 mha, almost 60 % of which is irrigated. The key point in the case of rice is that it needs high doses of water for irrigation, roughly 3,000-5,000 litres per kg of rice, depending on where it is being grown. Further, 40-50 % of irrigation water goes back to groundwater with much higher nitrate content, polluting potable water. This percolated water has to be lifted time and again through highly subsidised power.
Nai Roshan Scheme
*The Minister of Minority Affairs recently said that the government has been successfully implementing the “Nai Roshni” Scheme for Leadership Development of Minority Women from 2012-13.
*The scheme aims to empower and instill confidence among minority women by providing knowledge, tools and techniques for interacting with Government systems, Banks and other institutions at all levels.
*The scheme is implemented through Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). The scheme is implemented with the involvement of the Gram Panchayat at village level and Local Urban bodies at the District level.
1. Swarajya Se Surajya: Saal Ek Shuruwaat Anek
Ministry of Information and Broadcasting
Nurturing of team India through the emphasis on co-operative and competitive federalism
Unprecedented 10% increase in the devolution of funds to states
More funds to be passed on through reforms in Auction process of coal and other minerals
NITI Aayog constituted for National development through genuine Centre-State partnership
National Judicial appointments Commission
Expenditure management Commission to rationalize Government expenses
Bio-metric attendance rolled out for Government employees; resulting in higher productivity and responsiveness
Record Parliamentary Efficiency—Number of sittings highest in a decade and 47 bills passed (highest in 6 years)
2. ‘Sarve Santu Niramayah’
Health Assurance to All – Mission Indradhanush
Vaccination cover against 7 deadly disease;
More than 89 lakh children to be covered by 2020
35 lakh already immunized
3. Our Daughters – Our Pride’
Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana
Under this scheme a saving account can be opened by the parent or legal guardian of a girl child of less than 10 years of age (born on or after: 02-December-2003; For FY 2014-15) with a minimum deposit of ₹ 1,000/- in any post office or authorised branches of commercial bank.
—For the FY 2015-16, Government of India has declared an interest rate of 9.2 per cent on SSY scheme. It was 9.1% for FY 2014-2015; yearly compounded.—this is tax exempted.
—The account will remain operative for 21 years from the date of opening of the account or till marriage of the girl child.
—Partial withdrawal up to 50 per cent of the account balance is allowed, only once after the girl child completes age of 18 years, for the purpose of financing her higher education.
—Per girl child only single account is allowed. Parents can open this account for maximum two girl child. In the event of birth of twin girls in 2nd birth or birth of 3 girl child’s in 1st birth itself, this facility will be extended to third child.
—Minimum deposit amount for this account is ₹ 1,000/- and maximum is Rs.1,50,000/- per year. And also money to be deposited for 14 years in this account
—Passbook facility is available for the Sukanya Samriddhi Account
—From the FY 2015-16, the interest earned in this account will be exempted from taxes.
43 lakh accounts opened in post offices with a total deposit of Rs 562 crore
4. Su-Shasan’ – Transparent and Corruption-free Government
Free Allotment and auction related
Spectrum Allocation—Most successful ever-yielding Rs. 1.09 lakh crores
Mines Act modernized replacing the discretionary mechanism with a transparent and competitive auction process
LED bulbs—74% reduction in the prices (rs 310 to Rs. 82) due to transparent procurement
Coal Auction and allotment—3.35 lakh crores mobilized from 67 blocks (out of 204 cancelled blocks) over the lifespan of mines.
All proceeds in Coal auction and allocation goes to the Coal Bearing states—West bengal; Odisha; Jharkhand; Chattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh
5. Dharti ki Dharohar—
Leaving behind a better Planet (environment Sustainablity)
Rs 38, ooo crores to be transferred to states for afforestation under the CAMPA Law
Campa—Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority
GOI has also allocated funds to protect 5- endangered species of the nation:—
1. Dugong (sea cow),
2. Gangetic Dolphin,
3. Great Indian Bustard,
4. Manipur Brow Antler Deer (Sangai) and
5. Wild Water Buffalo
In due course, others will be taken up as well
The number of tigers increased to 2226
27% increase in the population of Asiatic Lions in Gir
30% subsidy to 2-3-4 wheeler electric commercial vehicles
All environmental clearances to be made online.
6. Swacch Bharat
A nation-wide people-driven movement initiated
Over 58 lakh toilets build in 2014-15
Target to build 6.6 Crore toilets by 2019—support for building individual toilets increased to Rs 12, 000 for BPL households
All schools across the country to have toilets within one year—4.2 toilets in all
In April, 2015 Nadia became the first district in India to become Defacation-free
Nadia district could achieve this feat due to its collaborative effort with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and World Bank aimed at construction of toilets across the district.
Incidentally, in order to eliminate open defecation from the rural landscape of the state, the Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee formally launched the Mission Nirmal Bangla (MNB) on 30 April 2015 and declared the day as Nirmal Bangla Diwas to mark the occasion.
The mission is akin to the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) in its objectives which was launched on 2 October 2014— with the objective of ensuring cleanliness in all the 4041 statutory cities and towns of the country by 2 October 2019 which marks the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
Banko Bikano—Bikaner government Open Defecation Scheme. Bikaner builds the largest number of toilets in 2014-15 overcoming all odds like water scarcity and size. It also took the overall sanitation coverage to 80% in just 2 years. Bikaner also has the highest number of Open Defecation Free (ODF) panchayats in Rajasthan. Thus out of 219 Gram Panchayats, 180 are now ODF. –All of these were just achieved in just two years under a special sanitation programme, Banko Bikano (brave and beautiful) supported by the Ministry of Water and Sanitation programme of the World Bank.
—In 2011, the sanitation coverage in the district the second largest in Rajasthan and fourth largest in the country was just 20% which has now touched to 80%.
7. Annadata Sukhi Bhava’ – Farmers’ Welfare
Relief to farmers affected by natural calamities
Compensation against crop-damage increased by 50%
Eligibility for receiving support lowered from 50% to 33%
Grain quality norms relaxed for procurement
Strong Positions at Global WTO negotiations—Securing our farmers’ long term interests
Farm Credit target raised to rs 8.5 lakh crores ensuring convenient access to loans at concessional rates
Use of Mobile governance in agriculture given a fillip with more than 550 crore SMS sent to about 1 crore farmers as advisories and information.
Loans restructured—and re-scheduled for the affected farmers
Actively working with States to Create a Unified National Agriculture Market for a better deal for farmers
Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) launched to promote Organic Farming
Various steps taken to empower sugarcane farmers—250% increase in the ethanol blending and increase of Import Duty
8. Saksham Bharat
Education and Skills Development—
Dedicated ministry for the skill development created
National Skill Mission and National Skill Development Policy
Skill Certification given Academic Equivalence under School to Skill Programme
76 lakh youth provided Skill Training
Saksham –or Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Empowerment of Adolescent Boys (2014)
Aims at all-round development of Adolescent Boys and make them self-reliant, gender-sensitive and aware citizens, when they grow up.
It cover all adolescent boys (both school going and out of school) in the age-group of 11 to 18 years subdivided into two categories, viz. 11-14 & 14–18 years.
Sabla—Or Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Empowerment of Adolescent Girls (2010)
Empowering adolescent girls (Age) of 11–18 years with focus on out-of-school girls by improvement in their nutritional and health status and upgrading various skills like home skills, life skills and vocational skills.
Implemented in 205 districts across the country in a pilot basis
It is being implemented using the platform of Integrated Child Development Services Scheme. The scheme has two major components namely nutrition and non-nutrition component.
Nutrition is being given in the form of Take Home Ration or Hot Cooked Meal for 11 to14 years out of school girls and 14 to18 years to All AGs, out of school and in school girls.
In the Non Nutrition component, the out of school Adolescent Girls 11 to18 years are being provided IFA supplementation, Health check-up and Referral services, Nutrition and Health Education, Counselling and guidance on family welfare, Adolescent Reproductive Sexual Health (ARSH), child care practices and Life Skill Education and vocational training. A sum of Rs. 650 crores including Rs. 65 crore for North Eastern Areas has been allocated for Sabla for 2013-14.
Merged Nutrition Programme for Adolescent Girls (NPAG) and Kishori Shakti Yojana (KSY).
To give an added impetus to watershed development in the country, a new programme called “Neeranchal” with an initial outlay of ` 2,142 crores in the current financial year.
Pashmina Promotion Programme (P-3) and a programme for the development of other crafts of Jammu & Kashmir is also to be started. For this a sum of Rs. 50 crores is set aside
10. Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission
Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission will be launched to deliver integrated project based infrastructure in the rural areas.
The scheme will also include development of economic activities and skill development.
The preferred mode of delivery would be through PPPs while using various scheme funds.
It is based on the example of Gujarat that has demonstrated successfully the Rurban development model of urbanization of the rural areas, through which people living in the rural areas can get efficient civic infrastructure and associate services.
11. One Rank One Pension Scheme
One pension scheme for all military personnel in the current session of the Parliament.
This is a scheme which will ensure that the soldiers of the same rank and also the same length of service will get the same pension, irrespective of their retirement date.
In simple words, it requires equal pension for those who retired in one particular year; as those who retires in another year at the same position, and for the same duration of services rendered. Also the difference in pension of present and past pensioners in the same rank occurs on account of the number of increments earned by the defence personnel in that rank.
Till now there were no such rules; While every pay commission bumps the salaries of government servants, pensions of ex-servicemen remain the same.
Any hike in the pension scheme will thus automatically be passed to the past pensioners
Implication of such a scheme– The launch of this scheme is expected to push up the defence expenditure of the Centre’s defense payments by a record 40%; and posing fresh challenges to keep the Centre’s fiscal deficit within the budgetary target of 4.1 % of the GDP.
Why it is being demanded—
—Civilian employees retire at 60; while military personnel retire much earlier based on ranks when family liability is maximum and also second option for career is impossible
–Most of the officers retire at early 50’s,
—Terms and conditions of military service is much tougher than civilian employees
—Soldiers undergo hardships postings; with risk of life and restriction towards fundamental rights
—Successive pay commissions have widened the gap between veterans who have retired earlier and those who retire late
**Till now, the scheme is yet to be rolled out.
13. Education Schemes of the GOI
(a) Swayam—Leveraging Mass open online courses to enable Mass Online Education
Study Webs of Active –Learning for Young Aspiring Minds
Programme of the Ministry of Human resources, GOI
At least one crore students are expected to benefit in 2 to 3 years through this initiative
All courses would be offered free of cost under this programme however fees would be levied in case learner requires certificate.
Professors of centrally funded institutions like IITs, IIMs, central universities will offer online courses , with the collaboration of foreign Universities as well
Subjects offered– engineering education, social science, energy, management, basic sciences.
(b) Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya for Teacher’s training programme—
Launched to raise the quality of training
(c) UDAAN—Scheme dedicated to the development of Girl Child Education
UDAAN is an initiative by CBSE to enable disadvantaged girl students to transit from school to post-school professional education specially in Science and Mathematics
support 1000 disadvantaged girls per year and provide them free online resources in Class XI and Class XII
Selection based on merit and economic criterion
Those selected will be provided tablets that have preloaded content, in addition to regular tutorials, assessments and study materials, along with regular tracking, monitoring and feedback forms to parents.
(d) National e-Library—National access to educational material
(e) GIAN—Global initiative of Academic Network
Bringing eminent faculty from across the globe to teach in India and augment teacher-student interation
Avenues for possible collaborative research
(f) Five New IITs and Six New IIMS to be set with a number of Institutes specialized in different fields and Four New AIIMS in India
(g) National Scholarship Portal—Single platform for students to avail the Central government Schemes
(h) Pradhan Manntri Vidyalaya Karyakram—Student loans will be enabled under this programme
scholarship for differently-abled children by AICTE, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India that aims to award 1000 scholarships per annum to differently abled students to pursue technical education based on merit in the qualifying examination to pursue technical education
The scholarship amount under the scheme is Rs 30,000 or tuition fees and Rs 2,000 per month for contingency allowance for 10 months.
(j) Pandit Din Dayal Upadhyay Grammen Kaushal Yojana—Youth Employment scheme
TO provide on-the-job training
It was launched by on 25 September 2014 by Union Minsters Nitin Gadkari and Venkaiah Naidu on the occasion of 98th birth anniversary of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay. It aims to target youth, under the age group of 18–35 years
To train 10 lakh rural youth in 3 years
(k) Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana—
Plan outlay of rs 1500 cr
skill training of youth (flagship programme) to be implemented by the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship through the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC). The scheme will cover 24 lakh persons.
Skill training would be done based on the National Skill Qualification Framework (NSQF) and industry led standards.
Under the scheme, a monetary reward is given to trainees on assessment and certification by third party assessment bodies. The average monetary reward would be around Rs.8000 per trainee
Training would include soft skills, personal grooming, behavioral change for cleanliness, good work ethics.
Skill training Development Management System (SDMS) would be put in place to verify and record details of all training centres a certain quality of training locations and xcourses.
Biometric system and video recording of the training process
robust Grievance Redressal mechanism would be put in place to address grievances
PETITION IN SUPREME COURT ON CRIMINAL DEFAMATION
Petitioners feel that criminal defamation (sec 499 and 500 of IPC) stifled freedom of speech and expression under Article 19 (1) of the Constitution, even if the speech made was truthful and meant to foster public debate of matters in the public domain
The penal sections were misused by those in power to settle political scores
The state has no compelling interest in restricting free speech under Article 19(1) between or among private persons. Free speech restrictions under Article 19(2) must necessarily originate from compelling state interest, not private interest.
Sections 123, 125 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, ought to be considered exhaustive of the reasonable restrictions imposed on a political speech during elections.
GOVERNMENT’S ARGUMENTS IN FAVOUR OF DEFAMATION
The Centre had refuted the petitioners by denying that criminal defamation had a chilling effect on free speech. It maintained that a person would be charged for criminal defamation only if his speech had neither social utility nor added to the value of public discourse and debate.
The government argued that that the law is part of the state’s “compelling interest” to protect the dignity and reputation of citizens.
Sections 499 and 500 are constitutionally saved and they are to be read as reasonable restrictions on an individual’s right to free speech. Article 19 (2) uses the word ‘defamation’ in the context of reasonable restriction. Therefore, it is clear that the Constitution-makers have sanctified usage of Sections 499 & 500.
The government said that since there was no mechanism to censor Internet from within, online maligning could be countered only by continuing with defamation as a criminal offence.
The government said that in India, citizens are unlikely to have enough liquidity to pay damages for civil defamation and hence criminal defamation is necessary.
Criminal defamation should not be allowed to be an instrument in the hands of the state, especially when the Code of Criminal Procedure gives public servants an unfair advantage by allowing the state’s prosecutors to stand in for them when they claim to have been defamed by the media or political opponents.
GOVERNMENT LAUNCHES DIGITAL INDIA PROGRAMME
In an order to create participative, transparent and responsive government, the much ambitious ‘Digital India’ programme was launched. The Digital India programme aims at transforming the country into a digitallyempowered knowledge economy. It is an umbrella programme that covers multiple Government Ministries and Departments, coordinated by the Department of Electronics & Information Technology (DeitY).
NINE PILLARS OF DIGITAL INDIA
1. Broadband Highways
This covers three sub components, namely Broadband for All Rural, Broadband for All Urban and
National Information Infrastructure.
o Under Broadband for All Rural, 250000 village Panchayats would be covered by December’ 2016.
o Under Broadband for All Urban, Virtual Network Operators would be leveraged for service
delivery and communication infrastructure in new urban development and buildings would be mandated.
o National Information Infrastructure would integrate the networks like SWAN, NKN and NOFN along with cloud enabled National and State Data Centres.
2. Universal Access to Mobile Connectivity
3. Public Internet Access Programme
The two sub components of Public Internet Access Programme are Common Service Centres and Post Offices as multi-service centres.
oCommon Service Centres would be strengthened and its number would be increased from
approximately 135,000 operational at present to 250,000 i.e. one CSC in each Gram Panchayat. CSCs would be made viable, multi-functional end-points for delivery of government and business services.
O A total of 150,000 Post Offices are proposed to be converted into multi service centres.
4. e-Governance – Reforming Government through Technology
The guiding principles for reforming government through technology are- Form simplification and
field reduction; Online applications and tracking of their status ; Mandatory use of online repositories e.g. school certificates, voter ID cards, etc.
Electronic Databases – all databases and information should be electronic and not manual.
Workflow Automation Inside Government – The workflow inside government agencies should be automated to enable efficient government processes and to allow visibility of these processes to the citizens.
Public Grievance Redressal – IT should be used to automate, respond and analyze data to identify and resolve persistent problems. These would be largely process improvements.
5. e-Kranti (NeGP 2.0) – Electronic delivery of services
There are 31 Mission Mode Projects under different stages of e-governance project lifecycle.
Further, 10 new MMPs have been added to e-Kranti by the Apex Committee on NeGP
Technology for Education – e-Education: Free wifi will be provided in all secondary and higher secondary schools (totalling around 250,000 schools). A programme on digital literacy would be taken up at the national level. MOOCs –Massive Online Open Courses shall be leveraged for e- Education.
Technology for Health – e-Healthcare: E-Healthcare would cover online medical consultation, online medical records, online medicine supply, pan-India exchange for patient information.
Technology for Farmers: This would facilitate farmers to get real time price information, online ordering of inputs and online cash, loan and relief payment with mobile banking.
Technology for Security: Mobile based emergency services and disaster related services would be provided to citizens on real time basis so as to take precautionary measures well in time.
Technology for Financial Inclusion : Financial Inclusion shall be strengthened using Mobile Banking, Micro-ATM program and CSCs/ Post Offices.
Technology for Justice: Interoperable Criminal Justice System shall be strengthened by leveraging e- Courts, e-Police, e-Jails and e-Prosecution.
Technology for Planning: National GIS Mission Mode Project would be implemented to facilitate GIS based decision making for project planning, conceptualization, design and development.
Technology for Cyber Security: National Cyber Security Co-ordination Center would be set up to ensure safe and secure cyber-space within the country.
6. Information for All
Government to pro-actively engage via social media and web based platforms to inform citizens.
o MyGov.in has already been launched as a medium to exchange ideas/ suggestions with
Government. It will facilitate 2-way communication between citizens and government.
7. Electronics Manufacturing – Target NET ZERO Imports
8. IT for Jobs
1 Crore students from smaller towns & villages will be trained for IT sector jobs over 5 years.
BPOs would be set up in every north-eastern state to facilitate ICT enabled growth in these states.
3 lakh service delivery agents would be skill trained to run viable businesses delivering IT services.
9. Early Harvest Programmes
IT Platform for Messages: A Mass Messaging Application has been developed by DeitY that will cover elected representatives and all Government employees.
Biometric attendance: It will cover all Central Government. Offices in Delhi.
Wi-Fi in All Universities
Public Wi-fi hotspots: Cities with population of over 1 million and tourist centres would be provided with wi-fi hotspots to promote digital cities. The scheme would be implemented by DoT and MoUD.
National Portal for Lost & Found children: This would facilitate real time information gathering and sharing on the lost and found children and would go a long way to check crime and improve timely
response. Recently the Khoya Paya Portal was launched.
Digital locker is a dedicated personal storage space for e-documents as well as Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) of e-documents issued by government departments. The system will have an e-sign facility, which can be used to sign stored documents. Each locker is linked to the resident’s Aadhar number.
The entire programme is designed as a top-down model. There is no idea of how it would be
implemented on the ground to be successful. For example, Broadband highways, now called BharatNet, is supposed to connect up to gram panchayat, but laying fiber optic cables is the least of the challenges here.
NATIONAL AGRICULTURAL MARKET E- PLATFORM
Recently, the government has approved the creation of a National Agriculture Market (NAM) online trading portal which will allow farmers and traders to sell their produce to buyers anywhere in the country. This virtual marketplace will allow a farmer from, say, in Madhya Pradesh to sell his chana to a dal miller in Delhi who may be willing to pay a higher price. The miller, too, benefits by virtue of not
having to be physically present or being forced to depend on traders in that APMC area.
Small Farmers Agribusiness Consortium (SFAC) has been designated as the lead agency for developing the NAM e-platform. While buyers can log into the platform from homes or offices anywhere in India, the transactions will, however, be recorded as having been conducted through the mandi where the seller would normally bring his produce. The APMC concerned will, therefore, continue to earn the mandi fee on the transaction even if it does not happen in that particular market yard.
The APMC-regulated mandis will, in fact, gain through the significant increase in turnover volumes likely from more buyers bidding for produce.
INDIA INSTALLS ITS FIRST EARTHQUAKE EARLY WARNING SYSTEM IN
All sensors system that warn of earthquakes are based on the detection of P and S waves generated during an earthquake. The P wave, which is harmless and travels faster than the S wave, is detected by the sensors for advance warning.
Countries with such systems include Mexico, Japan, and the United States, where the most advanced system is California’s state-run Shake Alert.
WORLD BANK REPORT: MGNREGA BECOMES WORLD’S LARGEST PUBLIC WORKS PROGRAMME
According to the recently released World Bank Group’s report titled as “The State of Social Safety Nets 2015,” MGNREGA has been ranked as the world’s largest public works programme.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE REPORT
1. Around 182 million beneficiaries (15 % of India’s population) are provided social security by MGNREGA (under Ministry of Rural Development).
2. The Mid-day meal scheme, under the Ministry of Human Resource Development, reaches out to 105 million beneficiaries which make it the biggest school feeding programme.
3. The Janani Suraksha Yojna, under the National Rural Health Mission, has around 78 million beneficiaries and is the top-most social security programme in terms of conditional cash transfers. (Conditional cash transfers involve transfer of money only when the persons meet the certain criteria).
4. Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (IGNOAPS), launched by the Ministry of Rural Development, is the second largest social security progamme in the world for unconditional cash transfer.
5. The world’s top five largest social safety net programmes are all from the middle-income countries.
Besides India, the other three countries are China, South Africa and Ethiopia.
IRDA SUGGESTIONS TO IMPROVE HEALTH INSURANCE FRAMEWORK
Understanding the pulse of insurance buyers, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) has suggested some new proposals to improve the Indian health insurance framework. These are:
1. Entry age-based pricing
2. Premiums linked to CPI
3. Wellness and prevention-based incentives
4. Long-term insurance and health savings accounts
INTEGRATED POWER DEVELOPMENT SCHEME (IPDS)
The IPDS announced in the Union Budget 2014-15 envisages strengthening of sub-transmission network, Metering, Customer Care Services, provisioning of solar panels and the completion of the ongoing works of Restructured Accelerated Power Development and completion of the Reforms Programme (RAPDRP).
Power Finance corporation is the nodal agency for operationalisation of this scheme.
TAX ADMINISTRATION AND REFORM COMMISSION (TARC) 3RD REPORT
To check black money and to broaden the taxpayer base.
Banking cash transaction tax (BCTT) – Proposed levying of banking transaction tax on withdrawal of cash beyond a specified limit in a day to check black money. BCTT was introduced in June, 2005, to track unaccounted money and trace its source and destination, but was withdrawn in April, 2009.
Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT) – Proposed reintroduction of fringe benefits tax. FBT was introduced in 2005-06 as a tax paid by employers on employee benefits that do not form part of the salary.
Taxing farmers with large land holdings- Against a tax free limit of Rs.5 lakh on agricultural income, farmers having income above much higher threshold income, such as Rs.50 lakh, could be taxed.
Against amnesty schemes: Taxpayers keep waiting for amnesty schemes to be announced and take
Advantage of these schemes to build their capital.
encourage unorganised retailers to pay tax dues voluntarily
improve SMEs tax compliance
Number of income taxpayers should be doubled, from slightly more than three crore to six crore in three years.
Wealth tax base could be increased by including intangible financial assets in the base while considerably raising the threshold and decreasing the wealth tax rate.
TRADE RECEIVABLES DISCOUNTING SYSTEM (TREDS):
To make it easier and faster for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to get their dues.
An exchange driven trading mechanism that could end the agony of lakhs of Small and Medium Enterprises which face endless delays in receiving payments for their supplies to bigger companies.
MSME sellers, corporate buyers and financiers — both banks and non-bank (NBFC factors) — will be direct participants in the TReDS.
The Trade Receivables Discounting System (TReDS) should have a minimum paid up equity capital of Rs
25 crore and non-promoters would not hold over 10 per cent of the equity capital of TReDS.
ASHOK LAHIRI COMMITTEE
Interact with trade and industry on tax related issues on a regular basis and ascertain areas where clarity in tax laws is required.
The committee will give recommendations to the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) and the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) for issuance of appropriate clarifications by way of circulars, instructions on tax issues, it added
The government relaxed the FDI policy for construction sector by easing exit norms and reducing built-up area and capital needs
Provisions of new policy:
A 100 per cent FDI will now be permitted under the automatic route and this gives them the liberty to invest in all real estate classes.
The new policy has done away with the three-year lock-in period for repatriation of investment
Under the new policy, the minimum floor area requirement has been reduced to 20,000 square metres from 50,000 square metres earlier.
It also brought down the minimum capital requirement to $5 million from $10 million.
For affordable homes, the government has exempted the conditions of minimum floor area and capital requirement if an investee/joint venture companies commit at least 30 per cent of the total project cost for low-cost housing.
SITUATION OF AGRICULTURAL HOUSEHOLDS:
The NSSO defined an agricultural household as one in which at least one member was self-employed in agriculture (even if part-time) and which produced at least Rs 3,000 worth of agricultural produce in a year.
Less than two hectares of land.
farm household makes less than Rs. 6,500 a month from all sources of income
58 per cent of rural households are agricultural households
Over half of all agricultural households are in debt
Private traders dominate the procurement space
NEW GST BILL
The Constitution (122nd Amendment) Bill, 2014 was introduced in LokSabha on December 19, 2014.
Power to impose GST: The Bill amends the Constitution to empower Parliament and state legislatures to make laws with respect to goods and services tax.
Integrated GST: The Bill inserts a new Article in the Constitution to empower only the centre to levy and collect GST on supplies in the course of inter-state trade or commerce. The tax collected would be divided between the centre and the states.
GST Council: The Bill creates a GST Council consisting of the union finance minister, the minister of state for revenue and finance ministers of all states. The GST Council shall make recommendations on the goods and services that will be subjected to and exempted from GST, the rates including floor rates with bands, model GST law, special provision to special status states, etc. Decisions will be made by at least three fourth majority, with the centre having one third of the vote and the states two-thirds.
Additional Tax on supply of goods: An additional tax (not to exceed 1%) on the supply of goods in the course of inter-state trade or commerce would be levied and collected by the centre. Such additional tax shall be assigned to the states for two years, or as recommended by the GST Council.
Compensation to states: Parliament may, by law, provide for compensation to states for revenue losses arising out of the implementation of the GST, on the GST Council’s recommendations. This would be for a period up to five years.
Goods exempt: Alcoholic liquor is exempted from the purview of the GST. Further, the GST Council is to decide when GST would be levied on petroleum crude, high speed diesel, motor spirit(petrol), natural gas, and aviation turbine fuel.
Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) proposed a new set of norms for listing and trading of municipal bonds on stock exchanges. Such municipal bonds are also known as ‘muni bonds’.
To help in the Government’s ‘smart cities’ programme.
To help channelise household savings and provide a new investment avenue.
Bonds issued by municipalities having good financial track record would be a good alternative
investment opportunity for conservative investors
a non-cooperative borrower is a defaulter who deliberately stonewalls legitimate efforts of the lenders to recover their dues.
Waterways in India: There are 5 national waterways has been created by an Act of Parliament and they are-
I. Ganga-Bhagirathi-Hooghly river system (Allahabad-Haldia-1620 km) in National Waterway-1
II. River Brahmaputra (Dhubri-Sadiya-891 km) in National Waterway-2.
III. West Coast Canal (Kottapuram-Kollam) along with Udyogmandal and Champakara Canals-(205 km) in National Waterway-3.
IV. Kakinada-Puducherry canals along with Godavari and Krishna rivers (1078 km) in National Waterway-4.
V. East Coast Canal integrated with Brahmani river and Mahanadi delta rivers (588 km) in National
GDR (GLOBAL DEPOSITORY RECEIPT)
GDR is a popular financial instrument used by listed companies in India, as also in many other countries, to raise funds denominated mostly in US dollar or euros.
GDRs are typically bank certificates issued in more than one country for shares of a company, which are held by a foreign branch of an international bank. While shares trade on a domestic stock exchange, which happens to be in India in the present case, they can be offered for sale globally through the empanelled bank branches.
GDR ROUTE UNDER SCANNER IN BLACK MONEY PROBE
Regulatory and other agencies suspect that GDR route is being used for bringing back suspected illicit funds stashed abroad.
The capital markets regulator SEBI has come across quite a few cases where GDR (Global Depository Receipt) route could have been used for round-tripping of funds in the name of capital-raising activities of listed companies from abroad.
Rounding tripping of funds has been a major route for those laundering black money. It typically involves an entity transferring an asset or funds, in the name of a business deal, with an agreement to buy it back.
Besides GDRs, the regulatory and other agencies are already probing the suspected misuse of stock markets within India to evade taxes and launder money through trading in companies that mostly exist on paper.
United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) on twenty nine Jan 2015 published global Investment Trend Monitor Report. The report provides the worldwide investments trend in 2014 and prospects of world investments in 2015.
FALL IN CRUDE OIL PRICE
REASONS FOR THE FALL OF GLOBAL OIL PRICES
The main importer of Oil such as China has cut down its oil import by a huge margin thus bringing a huge fall in the demands of the global oil supply.
America has become the world’s largest oil producer. Though it does not export crude oil, it now imports much less, creating a lot of spare supply.
The Saudis and their Gulf allies have decided not to sacrifice their own market share to restore the price. They could curb production sharply, but the main benefits would go to countries they detest such as Iran and Russia.
The inability, or unwillingness rather, of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which accounts for about 40 per cent of global oil output, to cut production to match the demand is a major factor.
The central statistics office (CSO) has come out with a new series of national accounts with 2011-12 as base year for computing economic growth rate (GDP). In January 2010, the base year had been fixed as 2004-05.
A World Bank report has challenged the conventional understanding of India’s inequality. The report, “Addressing inequality in South Asia,” has found that the probability of a poor person moving out of poverty in India in 2014 was as good as that in the U.S.
According to the definition of the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN): “Impact investments are investments made into companies, organizations, and funds with the intention to generate a measurable, beneficial social or environmental impact alongside a financial return”.
Impact investing is a subset of socially responsible investing, but while the socially responsible investing encompasses avoidance of harm, impact investing actively seeks to make a positive impact.
Impact investing is a global phenomenon and has recently received policy attention at the highest level in G8 countries with the formation of the Social Impact Taskforce and setting up of national advisory boards.
Social impact investments have been picking up pace in India, expanding from the microfinance and financial inclusion space to other sectors such as access to renewable energy, affordable healthcare and education, water and sanitation, lowcost housing, agriculture and nonagriculture livelihoods, and vocational training.
With proper impact investment, it is possible to leverage a large chunk of money from private capital, and encourage more people to take up social initiatives.
CHANGES MADE IN METHODOLOGY OF GDP CALCULATION
The Central Statistical Office will measure gross domestic product (GDP) by the gross value added (GVA) method – a way of calculating GDP at basic prices instead of at factor cost.
Definition (GDP): The monetary value of all the finished goods and services produced within a country’s borders in a specific time period.
CHANGES MADE IN GDP CALCULATION
Change in base year from 2004-05 to 2011-12.
Using market prices instead of factor costs to make the GDP computations.
Data for the new GDP series will now be collected from 5 lakh companies (MCA21data base).
GDPMP = GDPF C + INDIRECT TAXES –SUBSIDIES
For arriving at the new gross value added (GVA) at basic prices, production taxes, such as property tax,
are added and subsidies are subtracted from GDP at factor cost.
GDP at market prices makes adjustment for any subsidy or indirect tax — to arrive at GDP at market
price, indirect taxes are added while subsidies are subtracted from GVA at basic price.
Finally, inflation needs to be adjusted to arrive at GDP at constant market prices.
NEW CRITERIA FOR CAPITAL INFUSION INTO PUBLIC SECTOR BANKS
The centre has adopted new criterion for capital infusion in public sector banks. On the basis of new criteria, the Centre has selected nine public sector banks (PSBs) for infusing Rs. 6,990 crore. The new criterion rewards only efficient banks
Efficiency of the bank is determined based on the two parameters:
The weighted average of return on assets (ROA) for all PSBs for last three years. Banks above the average have been selected for the equity infusion.
The second parameter used for selecting the banks for capital infusion is return on equity (ROE)for the last financial year. Banks with above average ROE have been rewarded.
RETURN ON ASSET (ROA) – AFTER TAX
Return on Assets (ROA) is a profitability ratio which indicates the net profit (net income) generated on total assets. It is computed by dividing net income by average total assets.
ROA = (Net Income after tax / Total assets (or Average Total assets))*100
RETURN ON EQUITY (ROE)- AFTER TAX
Return on Equity (ROE) is a ratio relating net profit (net income) to shareholders’ equity. Here the equity refers to share capital reserves and surplus of the bank.
ROA = Profit after tax/(Total equity + Total equity at the end of previous year)/2}*100
14TH FINANCE COMMISSION REPORT – RECOMMENDATIONS
Horizontal devolution means transfer of finance between states.
The panel has assigned 7.5 per cent weight to forest cover for interse determination of the shares of taxes to the states, while population carries 17.5 per cent weight, demographic change 10 percent, income distance 50 and area 15 per cent weight.
With the addition of the new criterion, Uttar Pradesh is the biggest loser followed by Bihar.
Devolution to states: States’ share in net proceeds from tax collections be 42% — a huge jump from 32% recommend by the 13th Finance Commission, and the largest change ever in the percentage of devolution
Resource transfer: Tax devolution be the primary route resource transfer to states
Grants: It has recommended distribution of grants to States for local bodies using 2011 population data with weight of 90 per cent and area with weight of 10 per cent.
Grants to States are divided into twogrant to duly constituted gram panchayats and grant to duly
constituted municipal bodies
Types of grants: A basic grant and a performance grant — the ratio of basic to performance grant be 90:10, with respect to panchayats; and 80:20 in the case of municipalities
Post-devolution revenue deficit grants: The Commission assessed the revenue and expenditure of the States for the 2015-20 period and has projected the deficit for each State after taking into account its share in Central taxes. It has recommended a grant of over rupees 1.94 lakh crore to meet the deficit of 11 States.
Delinking of schemes: Eight centrally sponsored schemes (CSSes) will be delinked from support from the Centre; warious CSSes will now see a change in sharing pattern, with states sharing a higher fiscal responsibility
Cooperative federalism: There are recommendations on cooperative federalism, GST, fiscal consolidation road map, pricing of public utilities and PSUs, too.
Set up an independent council to undertake assessment of fiscal policy implications of Budget proposals.
Replace existing FRBM Act with a debt ceiling & fiscal responsibility law.
Wind up National Investment Fund and maintain all disinvestment receipts in the consolidated fund.
Amend electricity Act to provide for penalties for delay in payment of subsidies by state governments.
Steps for states to augment revenues, such as property tax reforms and issuance of municipal bonds suggested.
Set up autonomous and independent GST compensation fund.
NATIONAL MINORITIES DEVELOPMENT AND FINANCE CORPORATION(NMDFC)
NMDFC is Central Sector Public Enterprise (CPSE) under the aegis of Union Ministry of Minority Affairs. It was constituted in 1994 as a nonprofit making company under Section 25 of the Companies Act, 1956.
The Union Cabinet gave its approval for increasing the Authorised Share Capital of the National Minorities Development and Finance Corporation (NMDFC), from Rs. 1500 crore to Rs. 3000 crore. Approval was also given to revise the shareholding pattern from 65:26:9 to 73:26:1 among the Centre, States/Union Territories and Individuals/Institutions respectively. Also, approval was also given for restructuring of the NMFDC’s business model.
The Central Statistics Office (CSO), Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation has revised the Base Year of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) from 2010=100 to 2012=100 & WPI Base Year is 2004-05. Negative WPI inflation reflects falling cost of production in the economy since 65% weightage is attributed to manufactured products in WPI.
GROWTH IN EXPORT OF AGRI PRODUCTS SLIDES
Decline in commodity prices,
glut in global markets, and
Import ban by several countries recent ban by Saudi Arabia and the EU
High production levels in other countries and domestic issues like quality
THE NEW MONETARY POLICY FRAMEWORK AGREEMENT
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE AGREEMENTS
The following shall be the target:
The reserve Bank will aim to bring inflation 6 per cent by January 2016.
The target for financial year 2016-17 and subsequent years shall be 4 percent with a band of ±2 per cent.
The Governor, in his absence the Deputy Governor in charge of monetary policy, shall determine the Policy Rate, as well as any other monetary measures, to achieve the target.
Operating procedure of monetary policy:
The reserve bank shall publish the operating Target(s) and establish an operating procedure of monetary
policy through which the operating target will be achieved, any change in the operating targets(s) and the operating procedure in response to evolving macro-financial conditions shall also be published.
Once every six months , the reserve bank shall publish a document explaining
Source of inflation
Forecasts of inflation for the period between six to eighteen months from the date of the publication of the document
Flexible inflation target
The reserve Bank shall be seen to have failed to meet the target if inflation is
More than six per cent for three consecutive quarters for the financial year and all subsequent years.
Less than 2 per cent for three consecutive quarters in 2016-17 and all subsequent years.
Failure to maintain target: If the reserve bank fails to meet the target it shall set out in a report to the central government
The reasons for its failure to achieve the target.
Remedial actions proposed to be taken by the reserve bank; and
An estimate of the time period within which the target would be achieved pursuant to timely implementation of proposed remedial actions.
Any dispute regarding the interpretation or implementation of agreement shall be resolved through a meeting between the governor and the central government
Inflation targeting is a monetary policy strategy used by central banks for maintaining prices at a certain level or within a specific range. Using methods such as interest rate changes, this could help guide inflation to a targeted level or range.
This policy is designed to assure price stability.
Under inflation targeting, the RBI will target a fixed rate of Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation
MONETARY POLICY COMMITTEE (MPC):
To give effect to the agreement, the government will amend the RBI Act. Before amending the Act, there needs to be agreement between the government and the central bank about the composition of the committee.
There are two competing proposals to establish a monetary policy committee, one from an external panel appointed by the Finance Ministry and another from the RBI.
RBI panel’s key proposals: Five-member committee
Chairman: RBI Governor
Vice Chairman: Deputy Governor in charge of monetary policy
Executive Director in charge of monetary policy
Two external members picked by RBI Governor and Deputy Governor
Each member has one vote
No veto power for Chairman
Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission proposals: Seven-member panel
1 executive member of RBI board
3 external members picked by the government
2 external members picked by the government in consultation with RBI Governor
Government representative to attend meetings but would not vote
RBI Governor would get power to override panel but would need to issue public statement detailing the reasons
Each member has one vote
PRIORITY SECTOR LENDING (PSL)
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has widened the scope of priority sector lending. The following categories have been included in its ambit.
Health care and drinking water facilities
Other recommendations of the RBI’s panel
The target for lending to the redefined priority sector is retained uniformly at 40 per cent of adjusted net bank credit (ANBC) or credit equivalent of off-balance sheet exposure (CEOBE), whichever is higher, for all scheduled commercial banks.
All foreign banks (irrespective of number of branches they have) may be brought on a par with domestic banks and the same target/sub-targets may be made applicable to them.
It suggested foreign banks with 20 and above branches may be given time up to March, 2018, in
terms of extant guidelines and submit their revised action plans.
Other foreign banks, that is, with less than 20 branches, may be given time up to March, 2020, to comply with the revised targets as per action plans submitted by them and approved by the RBI.
The target for lending to agriculture has been retained at 18 per cent of ANBC. But a sub-target of 8 per cent of ANBC has been recommended for small and marginal farmers to be achieved in a phased manner
Priority Sector Lending -Priority Sector Lending are small value loans to farmers for agriculture and allied activities, micro and small enterprises, poor people for housing, students for education and other low income groups and weaker sections. Priority Sectors are those sectors of the economy which may not get timely and adequate credit in the absence of this special dispensation.
Micro and Small Enterprises
Education (educational loans granted to individuals by banks)
State sponsored organizations for Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes
Consumption loans (under the consumption credit scheme for weaker sections)
Loans to the software industry (having credit limit not exceeding Rs 1 crore from the banking system)
Overdrafts extended by banks up to Rs.5,000 in PMJDY accounts will be eligible for classification under priority sector advances .
Domestic banks, both the public and private sectors have to lend 40 % of their net bank credit(NBC), to the priority sector as defined by RBI, foreign banks have to lend 32% of their NBC to the priority sector.
Domestic banks have to lend 18 % of NBC to agriculture and 10 % of the NBC has to be to the weaker section. However, foreign banks have to lend 10 % of NBC to the small-scale industries and 12 % of their NBC as export credit
RUPEE 1 NOTE RELEASED
After a gap of over 20 years, Re 1 note has been released. The note was released at Shrinathji temple in Nathdwara, Rajasthan, on March 6 by Finance Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi.
In November 1994, printing of Re 1 note was stopped mainly due to higher cost and for freeing capacity to print currency notes of higher denomination.
Printing of Rs 2 and Rs 5 notes too were discontinued in 1995. Since then, only coins have been issued for these denominations.
The RBI said the note will bear Ashoka Pillar symbol in the window without words ‘SatyamevJayate,’ and carry a hidden numeral in the centre while hidden word Bharat (in Hindi) will be on the right hand side of the note.
The re-launched one rupee notes will be made up of 100 per cent cotton rag content.
It will weigh 90 grams per square metre and have thickness of 110 microns.
One rupee currency notes will be printed by the Government of India.
The note will carry bilingual signature of Finance Secretary.
Other currency notes in India bear the signature of RBI governor.
The surrounding design of the new note will consist of the picture of Sagar Samart– the oil exploration
STEP ANNOUNCED IN THE BUDGET
To curb gold imports and monetise large idle stocks of the precious metal, Finance Minister announced three schemes:
A gold monetisation scheme
A sovereign gold bond
Redeemable gold bonds which will carry a fixed rate of interest.
A gold monetisation scheme
The new scheme will allow the depositors of gold to earn interest in their metal accounts, and jewellers to obtain loans in their metal account. Banks/other dealers would also be able to monetise this gold.
A sovereign gold bond
The bonds will carry a fixed rate of interest and also be redeemable in cash in terms of the face value of the gold, at the time of redemption by the holder of the bond.
The government would commence work on developing an Indian Gold Coin, which will carry the Ashok Chakra on its face.
The coin would help reduce the demand for coins minted outside India and also help to recycle the gold available in the country
The government also kept the import duty on gold unchanged at 10 per cent
ASIAN DEVELOPMENT BANK (ADB)
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is a regional development bank established on 22 August 1966 which is headquartered in Metro Manila, Philippines, to facilitate economic development in Asia.
The ADB was modeled closely on the World Bank, and has a similar weighted voting system where votes are distributed in proportion with members’ capital subscriptions.
At present, Japan holds the largest proportion of shares at 15.67%. The United States holds 15.56%, China holds 6.47%, India holds 6.36%, and Australia holds 5.81%.
Objective: To facilitate economic development of countries in Asia. It also aims for an Asia and Pacific free from poverty.
Currently, it has 67 members – of which 48 are from within Asia and the Pacific and 19 outside.
ADB was modeled closely on the World Bank, and has a similar weighted voting system where votes are distributed in proportion with member’s capital subscriptions.
Funding: ADB raises funds
Through bond issues on the world’s capital markets.
Earnings from its lending operations, and the repayment of loans.
RUPAY DEBIT CARD
The rail ministry launched a new debit card service for ticket bookings by passengers.
The RuPay pre-paid card service has been developed by Indian Railways Tourism and Catering (IRCTC)
along with Union Bank of India (UBI) and the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).
RuPay is India’s domestic card payment gateway network develop on the lines of Visa and Master Card
and provides an alternative system for banks to provide debit card service.
Railways will not charge any transaction charge for the first five transactions on every card every month done on IRCTC for purchase of tickets for the first six months. For every subsequent transaction post the free usage, customer will be charged Rs 10 per transaction.
One can have the card with a loading limit of Rs.10,000 with partial KYC detail or Rs.50,000 loading limit with full KYC.
WHY ARE CRUDE OIL PRICES DECLINING SINCE JUNE 2014?
The oil price is partly determined by actual supply and demand, and partly by expectation. OPEC’s decisions shape expectations; if it curbs supply sharply, it can send prices spiking.
The remarkable fall in global oil prices is continuing because of a mismatch in demand and supply. Demand is down because of Eurozone’s economic stagnation, Japan slipping into recession and China’s slowdown. Output, on the other hand, is rising on account of the U.S. shale boom, revival of Libya’s oil production, and continuous increase in production in Iraq and OPEC’s decision of not cutting down the production.
Increase in US Shale gas production
Present turmoil in Iraq and Libya
OPEC unwilling to cut the production
Decrease in Demand
DOMESTIC IMPLICATIONS OF OIL
Since the Government has seized the chance and deregulated diesel prices, the subsidy burden will ease, helping to lower the fiscal deficit. Funds saved from reduction in subsidy can be diverted to infrastructure creation, social welfare programs.
Improvement in macro fundamentals [inflation and the fiscal deficit and the current account balance] will, at the margin, increase the space for macro [monetary and fiscal] policies for RBI to boost growth.
The spare cash from fuel cost savings, howsoever small, should increase consumer discretionary spending.
Higher consumption adds to corporate incomes. Abating input costs too will widen profit margins for businesses. As balance sheets start improving, companies will be better placed to start new projects or revive stalled ones, generate new jobs and growth.
Diesel prices have a direct bearing on prices of essential commodities, as it is the preferred fuel for the transport sector. So inflation will also reduce. Also, as the cost of production decreases, the exports will become more competitive,which will help in raising the exports.
The direct impact of this fall will be on upstream oil companies such as ONGC and Oil India that will now see their share of the subsidy burden going down.
Companies that use crude or crude derivatives as inputs, such as manufacturers of plastic products, synthetic textiles, tyres and paints, will see profit margins expanding due to lower input costs.
Indian investors and companies hold a lot of stakes in countries like Nigeria, Russia and the Gulf, which are facing the downside of this oil price decrease. Indian investment in these countries would be at risk.
Also, the inward remittances from these countries to India are adversely affected as the Gulf countries may downsize their foreign labor force. Further investment (FDI, FII) coming from these countries will also reduce, as there is huge fall in oil revenue earned by these countries.
Decreasing oil prices will adversely impact the oil economies like Saudi Arabia, Iran, Qatar, and Russia resulting in decreasing exports to such countries. Being the sixth largest exporter of petroleum products, India’s revenue from this sector will also decrease. E.g. the recent decline in share prices of Bharti Airtel and Bajaj Auto.
Govt. is hoping to give new licenses for oil and gas explorations. Now, it will be increasingly difficult to attract risk capital into oil and gas exploration. This is because most oil companies have pared down their exploration budgets.
Environmental Impacts: Lower price of fuel shifts focus away from renewable green technologies. Due to this, purchase of vehicles as well as use of vehicles will increase which will create environmental, health problems such as increased pollution, environmental degradation, global warming and wastage of resources.
Why the prices of petroleum and diesel in India have not been reduced proportionately to that of reduced global crude prices?
In spite of decrease in crude oil price more than 50%, the prices of petroleum and diesel have not been reduced proportionally because of following reasons.
Indian government raised excise duty 4 times to reduce its fiscal deficit. This extra raised money will be utilized for funding welfare schemes, infrastructure projects.
Subsidies were reduced to zero on Diesel and Diesel is deregulated like petrol.
FOREIGN TRADE POLICY (2015-2020)
The government unveiled a five-year plan for lifting India’s exports to $900 billion by 2019-20 while giving a
boost to the Make in India initiative.
The government aims to raise India’s share in world exports from 2% to 3.5% by 2020.
FTP to be aligned to Make in India, Digital India and Skills India initiatives.
FTP2015-20 introduces two new schemes, namely “Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS)” and “Services Exports from India Scheme (SEIS)”.
There would be no conditionality attached to any scrips issued under these schemes.
The MEIS will be targeted for export of specified goods to specified markets and SEIS is meant for export of notified services in place of a plethora of schemes earlier.
The MEIS has replaced five existing schemes: Focus Products Scheme, Market-linked Focus Products Scheme, Focus Market Scheme, Agriculture Infrastructure Incentive Scrips and Vishesh Krishi Grameen Udyog Yojana (VKGUY).
On the other hand, SEIS has replaced the existing Served From India Scheme (SFIS).
SEIS available to “Service Providers located in India” as against the existing Served Form India Scheme available to “Indian Service Providers”
The rates of rewards under MEIS will now range from 2 per cent to 5 per cent, from the 2-7 per cent range earlier. On the other hand, under SEIS these will be from 3 per cent to 5 per cent, from the 5-10 per cent range earlier.
All scrips issued under MEIS and SEIS and the goods imported against these scrips will be fully transferable. This means that scrips issued under export from India schemes can now be used for payment of customs duty for import of goods, payment of excise duty on domestic procurement of inputs or goods, and payment of service tax.
The FTP also introduced a concept of import appraisal mechanism which will be done on a quarterly basis by the commerce department.
In order to give a boost to exports from SEZs, government has now decided to extend benefits of both the reward schemes (MEIS and SEIS) to units located in SEZs.
BOOST TO “MAKE IN INDIA”: Reduced Export Obligation (EO) for domestic procurement under EPCG scheme:
The normal export obligation has been reduced to 75%, in order to promote domestic capital goods manufacturing industry.
Higher level of rewards under MEIS for export items with high domestic content and value addition.
The terminology of existing status holder categories modified to One, Two, Three, Four and Five Star Export House.
The criteria for measuring export performance meant for recognition of status holder have been changed from Indian Rupees to US dollar earnings. Further, apart from export performance of current year, only two previous years will be considered as against the previous three years under the erstwhile FTP; and
Manufacturer status holders shall be entitled to self-certify ‘Certificate of Origin’.
Trade Facilitation and Ease of doing Business
Development of an online procedure to upload digitally signed documents by Chartered Accountant/Company Secretary/Cost Accountant.
One of the major objectives of new FTP is to move towards paperless working in 24×7 environment.
Creation of importer/exporter profile to eliminate repeated submission of copies of permanent records/documents (e.g. IEC, Manufacturing License, RCMC, PAN etc.) with each application; and
Online facility for filing of TED refunds.
Online inter-ministerial consultations.
Considering the strategic significance of small and medium scale enterprise in the manufacturing sector and in employment generation, ‘MSME clusters’ 108 have been identified for focused interventions to boost exports. Accordingly, ‘Niryat Bandhu Scheme’ has been galvanized and repositioned to achieve the objectives of ‘Skill India’. Outreach activities will be organized in a structured way at these clusters with the help of EPCs and other willing “Industry Partners” and “Knowledge Partners”.
The new policy provides greater predictability because it would not be changed frequently while the focus on building ‘Brand India’, through different sets of incentives for merchandise and services exports, would help Indian exports become competitive in the world market. However, at least six months of transition period should have given so that the exporters could adjust to the new framework. Further, the interest subvention scheme has also not materialized. This will impact adversely on the exports of engineering goods to some extent.
DENA BANK, LIC SIGN MOU
State-run lender Dena Bank signed agreement with LIC to provide insurance cover to its savings account holders under the Prime Minister’s Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana (PMJBY) scheme.
Under the Memorandum of Understanding, LIC will give a life cover of Rs 2 lakh in case of death of the insured person at a nominal premium of Rs 330 per annum.
Account holders in the age group of 18 to 50 years can avail of the product.
The scheme will come into effect from June 1, 2015.
The bank customers can join the scheme between June 1, 2015 to May 31, 2016.
It is a very important step towards meeting the government financial inclusion plan.
This will increase the insurance penetration.
ELECTRONIC MONEY ORDER
Electronic Money Order is an electronic format of traditional MOs, which enables payment at doorstep, drastically cutting down physical transmission. It was introduced in October 2008.
The iMO system provides instant money order service for amounts ranging from Rs.1,000 to Rs.50,000.
GEOGRAPHICAL INDICATION (GI TAG)
Kerala’s sumptuous Nendran Banana and Karnataka’s Bangalore Rose Onion have got geographical indication (GI Tag) registrations from the Geographical Indications Registry, Chennai.
ChengazhikodanNendran Banana, also known Chengazhikode Banana, is among the most popular traditional fruits cultivated in Thrissur district, Kerala.
The Bangalore Rose Onion grown in Bangalore and its surrounding areas is famous for its high pungency compared to other varieties.
Geographical indication (GI) refers to any indication that identifies the goods as originating from a particular place, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristic of the goods is essentially attributable to its geographical origin.
Eighty two Weavers Co-operative Societies in Coimbatore, Tiruppur and Erode districts have been certified as authorised dealers of KovaiKora cotton, which has been given the Geographical Indication by the GI Registry.
KovaiKora cotton is a blend of silk and cotton and Kora another product that is found more in the Sirumugai area. People belonging to the Devanga community are involved mostly in weaving KovaiKora cotton saris and they are the pioneers also in making the product.
The juicy Nagpur orange, the famous tribal Warli art, Dharmavaram saris and Kerala’s Kaipad rice have been cleared for inclusion in Geographical Indications (GI) registry in the country.
Geographical indication tag for ‘Madurai Malli’: This is the first GI tag given to a flower in Tamil Nadu. This is the second GI tag for Madurai after ‘Madurai Sungudi’ and the second for jasmine flower after ‘Mysore Malli.’
A bond is a debt instrument with which an entity raises money from investors. The bond issuer gets capital while the investors receive fixed income in the form of interest. When the bond matures, the money is repaid.
A green bond is very similar. The only difference is that the issuer of a green bond publicly states that capital is being raised to fund ‘green’ projects, which typically include those relating to renewable energy, emission reductions and so on.
Yes Bank and Export-Import Bank of India (Exim Bank) recently tasted success launching what are called ‘green bonds,’ a relatively new way to finance renewable energy projects. In March, the Exim Bank of India issued a five-year $500 million green bond, which is India’s first dollar-denominated green bond.
MARGINAL COST-LINKED BASE RATE
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will encourage banks to move in a time-bound manner to marginal cost of funds-based determination of their Base Rate. Base Rate is the minimum rate below which banks are not permitted to lend.
For monetary transmission to occur, lending rates have to be sensitive to the policy rate. With the introduction of the Base Rate on July 1, 2010, banks could set their actual lending rates on loans and advances with reference to the Base Rate.
At present, banks are following different methodologies in computing their Base Rates — on the basis of average cost of funds, marginal cost of funds or blended cost of funds (liabilities). However, Base Rate based on marginal cost of funds should be more sensitive to changes in the policy rates. Hence, the RBI is pushing banks to adopt marginal cost of funds-based determination of their Base Rate.
Bank concern: To calculate their cost of funds on the basis of marginal costs, (rather than the present average costs), banks have pointed out that there are deficiencies in India’s financial structure that make such calculation difficult except over the medium term.
RBI’S FOREX RESERVES CLIMB TO AN ALL-TIME HIGH
OTHER WAYS OF INCREASING FOREX-
Funding from the various organizations like International Bank for Reconstruction and Development
(IBRD), Asian Development Bank (ADB) etc.
HOW MUCH FOREX RESERVES IS SAID TO BE SUFFICIENT FOR INDIA?
Reserve should be able to provide import cover for at least three months.
Reserve should provide at least 50% of the external debt and 100% of short term debt.
Average reserve holding to short term debt during a year should be a minimum of one. This ratio is also
known as Guidotti Rule.
COMPONENTS OF FOREX
The components of India’s foreign exchange reserves are foreign currency assets (FCA), gold, special drawing Rights (SDR) and reserve tranche position (RTP) in the IMF.Foreign Currency Assets (FCA) is the biggest component of the Forex reserves.
a. Foreign Currency Assets
Foreign currency assets expressed in US dollar terms include the effect of appreciation/depreciation of non-US currencies (such as Euro, Sterling, Yen etc.) held in reserves.
b. Special Drawing Rights
Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) are supplementary foreign exchange reserve assets defined and maintained by the International Monetary Fund. It was created in 1969 to supplement a shortfall of preferred foreign exchange reserve assets, namely gold and the US dollar, the SDR’s value is defined by a weighted currency basket of four major currencies: the Euro, the US dollar, the British pound, and the Japanese yen.
c. Reserve Tranche Position
The primary means of financing the International Monetary Fund is through members’ quotas. Each member of the IMF is assigned a quota, part of which is payable in SDRs or specified usable currencies (“reserve assets”), and part in the member’s own currency. The difference between a member’s quota and the IMF’s holdings of its currency is a country’s Reserve Tranche Position (RTP).Reserve Tranche Position is accounted among a country’s Foreign Exchange Reserves.
WHAT IS ‘HYBRID ANNUITY’ MODEL?
The new hybrid model is a mix of the EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) and the BOT models. In the annuity mode, the concessionaire gets a fixed and more importantly assured payment from the government.
Assured return: This assured return frees the concessionaire’s dependency on the toll collected on the highway. The government shoulders the responsibility of revenue collection.
Further, the government will pay 40 per cent of the project cost to the concessionaire during the construction phase in five equal installments of 8 per cent each.
Land: The government will provide 90 per cent of land and the related environment and forest clearance (earlier 80 per cent).
Operation and Maintenance: The balance of 60 per cent needs to come from the concessionaire. Operation and maintenance of the toll road also rests with the concessionaire.
The Prime Minister recently launched the Pradhan Mantri MUDRA (Micro Units Development and Refinance Agency) Yojana.
Micro Finance is an economic development tool whose objective is to assist the poor to work their way out of poverty. It covers a range of services which include, in addition to the provision of credit, many other services such as savings, insurance, money transfers, counseling etc.
The players in the Micro Finance sector can be qualified as falling into 3 main groups:
1) The SHG-Bank linkage model started by NABARD,
2) The Non-Banking Finance companies and
3) Others including Trusts, Societies etc.
The government proposes to set up a Micro Units Development and Refinance Agency (MUDRA) Bank through a statutory enactment.
This Bank would be responsible for regulating and refinancing all Micro-finance Institutions (MFI) which are in the business of lending to micro/small business entities engaged in manufacturing, trading and services activities.
The Bank would partner with state level/regional level co-ordinators to provide finance to Last Mile Financer of small/micro business enterprises.
A sum of Rs 20,000 crores would be allocated to the MUDRA Bank from the money available from shortfalls of Priority Sector Lending for creating a Refinance Fund to provide refinance to the Last Mill Financers.
Another Rs 3,000 crore would be provided to the MUDRA Bank from the budget to create a Credit
Guarantee corpus for guaranteeing loans being provided to the micro enterprises.
The bank will use at least 65 per cent of its funds for lending to micro enterprises run by members of scheduled castes and tribes.
The MUDRA Bank would primarily be responsible for:
Laying down policy guidelines for micro/small enterprise financing business.
Registration and Regulating of MFI entities.
Accreditation /rating of MFI entities.
Laying down responsible financing practices to ward off over indebtedness and ensure proper client protection principles and methods of recovery.
Development of standardised set of covenants governing last mile lending to micro enterprises.
Promoting right technology solutions for the last mile.
Formulating and running a Credit Guarantee scheme for providing guarantees to the loans/portfolios which are being extended to micro enterprises.
Support development & promotional activities in the sector.
Creating a good architecture of Last Mile Credit Delivery to micro businesses under the scheme of Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana.
Since the enactment for MUDRA is likely to take some time, it is proposed to initiate MUDRA as a unit of SIDBI (SIDBI also functions as a Nodal/ Implementing Agency to various ministries of Government of India viz., Ministry of MSME, Ministry of Textiles, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Ministry of Food Processing and Industry, etc) to benefit from SIDBI’s initiatives and expertise.
Products and Offerings
The primary product of MUDRA will be refinance for lending to micro businesses / units under the aegis of the Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana.
The initial products and schemes under this umbrella have already been created and the interventions have been named ‘Shishu’, ‘Kishor’ and ‘Tarun’ to signify the stage of growth / development and funding needs of the beneficiary micro unit / entrepreneur as also provide a reference point for the next phase of graduation / growth for the entrepreneur to aspire for:
Shishu: covering loans upto Rs. 50,000/-
Kishor: covering loans above Rs. 50,000/- and upto Rs. 5 lakh
Tarun: covering loans above Rs. 5 lakh and upto Rs. 10 lakh
DOES INDIA NEED A STRATEGIC OIL STORAGE PROJECT?
The Government, through Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserves Limited (ISPRL), is setting up Strategic Crude Oil Reserves with storage capacity of 5.33 Million Metric Tonnes (MMT) at three locations viz. Visakhapatnam(2015) (storage capacity: 1.33 MMT), Manglalore(2016) (storage capacity: 1.5 MMT) and Padur(2016) (storage capacity:2.5 MMT) to enhance the energy security of the county
UNDERGROUND ROCK CAVERNS
Underground rock caverns are considered the safest means of storing hydrocarbons.
The crude oil storages are in underground rock caverns and are located on the east and west coasts so that they are readily accessible to the refining sector
INTERNAL OMBUDSMAN IN BANKS
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has advised all public sector banks and some private and foreign banks to appoint an internal ombudsman to improve their customer service and to ensure that customer complaints in banks get resolved fast.
The internal ombudsman would be designated Chief Customer Service Officer (CCSO).
RBI has also made it clear that the CCSO should not have worked in the bank in which he/she is
appointed as CCSO
INVESTMENTS BY OVERSEAS INDIANS
Investments by non-resident Indians (NRIs), overseas citizens of India (OCIs) and persons of Indian origin (PIOs) will now be treated as domestic investment. They will not be allowed to repatriate the money overseas.
From now onwards, for foreign investment purposes, the definitions of OCIs and PIOs are being merged with that of NRIs and NRI investment will be treated as domestic investment.
Till now, investments by NRIs in only the aviation industry were excluded from the FDI limit of 49%; NRIs were permitted full ownership in the sector.
increase foreign investments
Domestic companies can attract investments from overseas Indians
greater inflow of foreign exchange remittance
would mean permanent FDI
India named veteran banker K.V. Kamath to be the first President of the New Development Bank, popular as the BRICS bank. The bank will be based in Shanghai. After a five-year term at the helm by an Indian, the President’s post would by turn go to a Brazilian and then to a Russian.
WHAT IS BRICS BANK?
In July 2014, the BRICS countries agreed to set up a development bank, whose purpose, according to its articles, is to “mobilise resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects” not just in BRICS countries but also in other emerging economies. It seeks to do so by supporting public and private projects through loans, guarantees and equity.
The bank will begin with a subscribed capital of $50 billion, divided equally between its five founders, with an initial total of $10 billion put in cash over the next seven years and $40 billion in guarantees.
The group has also agreed to a$100 billion currency exchange reserve, which member-countries can tap during balance of payment problems.
China, the biggest foreign exchange reserve-holder amongst them, will contribute the major portion of the currency pool. Brazil, India and Russia will contribute $18 billion each while South Africa will chip in with $5 billion.
CAPITAL ACCOUNT CONVERTIBILITY
Capital account convertibility means the freedom to convert rupees into foreign currency and back for capital transactions.
Freedom to convert local financial assets into foreign ones at market-determined exchange rates.
India has current account convertibility but not capital account convertibility.
BENEFITS OF CAPITAL ACCOUNT CONVERTIBILITY
The primary benefits that India is likely to reap from full capital account convertibility are stronger capital flows into domestic projects.
Lower borrowing costs for firms
Currency diversification benefits for businesses and investors.
Leads to free exchange of currency at lower rates and an unrestricted mobility of capital.
NEGATIVE IMPACT OF CAPITAL ACCOUNT CONVERTIBILITY
It could destabilise an economy due to massive capital flows in and out of the country.
Impact of 2008-9 financial crises in Indian economy was minimum due to restriction in capital account convertibility.
LESSON FROM ASIAN FINANCIAL CRISIS
Lessons from the Asian financial crisis of 1998 suggest three pre-requisites for a developing country to benefit from full convertibility:
A comfortable current account balance,
Low external debt and
A strong banking system that is resilient to global contagion.
None of these conditions exist in India today
INVESTMENT VIA P-NOTES
P-Notes, mostly used by overseas HNIs (High Net Worth Individuals), hedge funds and other foreign institutions, allow such investors to invest in Indian markets through registered Foreign Institutional Investors (FIIs).
WHAT ARE PARTICIPATORY NOTES?
Participatory Notes or P-Notes are financial instruments issued by foreign institutional investors to investors and hedge funds who wish to invest in Indian stock markets. These are also called offshore derivative instruments.
WHO GETS P-NOTES?
P-Notes are issued to real investors on the basis of stocks purchased by the FII. The registered FII looks after all the transactions, which appear as proprietary trades in its books.
Predatory pricing (also undercutting) is a pricing strategy where a product or service is set at a very low price, intending to drive competitors out of the market, or create barriers to entry for potential new competitors.
FDI IN INDIA
Foreign direct investment in India grew by about 40 per cent year-on-year to Rs 1.76 lakh crore in 2014-15. In 2013-14, the country had attracted Rs 1.26 lakh crore FDI. There is an increase of about 40 per cent (in FDI) over the previous year.
According to the data of Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) the top 10 sectors that receive maximum foreign investment include services, automobiles, telecommunication, computer software and hardware and pharmaceuticals.
India attracts maximum FDI from Mauritius, Singapore, the Netherlands, Japan, and the US.
Healthy inflow of foreign investments into the country helped India’s balance of payments (BoP) situation.
NATIONAL OPTICAL FIBRE NETWORK (NOFN) INITIATIVE(BHARAT NET)
RECOMMENDATIONS OF COMMITTEE
J Satyanarayana-led committee has recommended following points to fast-track NOFN initiative.
The report stresses on involvement of States, besides private players, for speedier implementation of the project that has fallen far behind its planned schedule.
Bringing in States would also increase inflow of funds into the project.
The committee has proposed to rename the project as BharatNet, which is to be completed by
December 2017 at an estimated cost of Rs 72,778 crore.
NATIONAL PHARMACEUTICAL PRICING AUTHORITY (NPPA)
Drug price regulator NPPA has fixed prices of 30 formulation packs, including drugs used to treat various diseases such as tuberculosis, diabetes, asthma and antibiotics.
NPPA has already fixed the ceiling prices in respect of 521 formulations out of 680 till date which comes under the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM).
The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) is a government regulatory agency that controls the prices of pharmaceutical drugs in India. Authority works under Department of Chemicals and Petrochemicals, Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers.
The NPPA was formed in 29 August 1997.
It has been given powers to implement and enforce the Drugs Price Control Order (DPCO), 1995/2013.
It can also fund studies regarding pricing of drugs.
It also has the task to monitor drug shortages and take appropriate actions to rectify it.
It also has to collect and maintain data regarding the import and export of drugs, market shares of
pharmaceutical companies and their profits.
It also handles legal disputes that arise out of policies created by it.
It advices the Government of India in matters of drug policies and pricing.
INDIA NUCLEAR INSURANCE POOL LAUNCHED
General Insurance Corporation of India (GIC ) and 11 other non-life insurers have formed the India Nuclear Insurance Pool.
It will have a capacity of Rs. 1,500 crore.
New India Assurance will issue the policy and deal with management of cover to the operators and
suppliers, on behalf of all direct insurance companies participating in the pool.
This pool will be the 27thsuch market pool globally.
Difference between Harbour and Port
Harbour: A harbour is a partially enclosed area in the sea, for example, a creek, an estuary, or a sea-inlet providing shelter to the sailing ships.
Port: A port is that place on the coast, with docks, wharves and berthing facilities, where cargo in large quantities is received from oceanic routes and sent to the interior of the country through land routes and vice-versa.
The Ministry of Shipping has proposed to create a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), which would focus on providing efficient evacuation systems in Major Ports and improving connectivity.
The SPV focusing on Port Connectivity will fit into the ambitious Sagarmala Programme of the Government, which aims at promoting port-led direct and indirect development and to provide the infrastructure to evacuate goods from ports quickly and efficiently.
“Sagar Mala” is a strategic, customer-oriented initiative of Government of India to evolve a model of port led development whereby India’s long coastline will become the gateway of India’s prosperity.
It envisages transforming the existing Ports into modern world class Ports on the one hand and
developing new world class Ports, based on the requirement, on the other hand.
Sagar Mala aims to develop Ports, hinterland and efficient evacuation systems through road, rail, inland and coastal waterways resulting in Ports becoming the drivers of economic activity in coastal areas.
It envisages the growth of coastal and inland shipping as a major mode of transport for carriage of goods and people along the coastal and riverine economic centers.
As an outcome, the Sagar Mala would integrate the hinterland projects of Industrial and Freight
Corridors with the maritime developments to offer efficient and seamless transport for both EXIM and domestic sectors thereby reducing logistics costs for the customer and making exports more
The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister has given its ‘in-principle’ approval for the concept and institutional framework of the Sagar Mala Project.
KEY COMPONENTS OF SAGAR MALA
Sagar Mala is being envisioned as an integrated infrastructure cum policy initiative that will provide a three pronged approach for development of India’s Maritime Sector focusing on port-development, port-led development and inland/coastal shipping supported by enabling policies, institutional framework and funding mechanism to ensure inclusive growth. Therefore, from development perspective, the Sagar Mala concept has three key deliverables enlisted below:
Port Modernization: Transform existing ports into world-class ports by modernization of port
infrastructure and existing systems. Also ensure inter-agency coordination for synergistic development at both major and minor ports
Efficient Evacuation Systems: Develop efficient rail, road and coastal / IWT networks to the hinterland and promote Inland / Coastal shipping as a most preferred mode of transportation
Coastal Economic Development: Encourage coastal economic activity in coastal regions by:
o Development of Coastal Economic Zones (CEZ), port based SEZs / FTWZs, captive ancillary industries; and Promotion of coastal tourism
These three outcomes will in turn be supported by enabling policies, robust institutional structure and appropriate financing & funding mechanism to ensure inclusive growth.
INITIATIVES UNDER SAGAR MALA
In order to achieve the three key deliverables, the two broad initiatives that will drive Sagar Mala are:
Development of Coastal Economic Regions (CER)
Policy initiatives to promote coastal shipping and seamless operations in Ports
NEW ROAD FINANCING MODELS:
The government has given the go-ahead to the Bharat Mala project aimed at developing 5,600 km of new roads in border areas at an estimated cost of Rs 56,000 crore. Another 4,700 km of roads to connect religious and tourism centres and to enhance connectivity in backward areas is expected to come up at an estimated cost of Rs 44,000 crore. Besides this, world-class highways will be developed to connect 100 of the 676 district headquarters in the country
REGIONAL COMPREHENSIVE ECONOMIC PARTNERSHIP (RCEP)
RCEP – COMPOSITION AND OBJECTIVE
Started in May 2013, RCEP comprises the 10 economies of the ASEAN region—Brunei, Cambodia,
Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam—and six of its free trade partners—Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.
The grouping envisages regional economic integration, leading to the creation of the largest regional trading bloc in the world, accounting for nearly 45% of the world’s population with a combined gross domestic product of $21.3 trillion.
The regional economic pact aims to cover trade in goods and services, investment, economic and
technical cooperation, competition and intellectual property.
WHAT IS THE ADDIS ABABA SUMMIT ALL ABOUT?
At the UN’s Third Financing for Development conference, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, world leaders will look for ways to pay for the ambitious and costly sustainable development goals (SDGs), which include ending poverty and achieving food security in every corner of the globe by 2030.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE MAIN ITEMS ON THE AGENDA?
Raising new development finance through domestic resource mobilisation, mainly by increasing tax collection, private finance, and international public finance.
Improving international tax cooperation. Some countries are pushing for a global tax body, arguing that it would help the poorest nations earn more through tax revenues.
Reducing illicit financial flows by 2030, with a view to eventually eliminating them. Campaigners have long noted that such illicit flows coupled with aggressive tax avoidance, repatriation of profits and debt repayments are depriving developing nations of much-needed resource.
Pushing to bridge the global infrastructure gap – including $1trn to $1.5trn annual gap in developing countries.
Setting out a new social compact to provide “fiscally sustainable and nationally appropriate social
protection systems and measures for all”.
Financing for low-carbon and climate resilient development. The draft outcome document says: “Public and private investments in innovations and clean technologies will be needed, while keeping in mind that new technologies will not substitute for efforts to reduce waste or efficiently use natural
SEBI CONCERNS ABOUT FORWARD CONTRACTS
Difference between Forward and Futures Contracts
Under the Forward Contracts (Regulation) Act, 1952, which regulates commodity trading in India, a forward contract is a contract for the actual delivery of goods. On the other hand, a futures contract is one where the buyer can settle the contract in cash as well.
SEBI’s concern stems from two facts:
o One, unlike futures contracts, forward contracts are not standardised;
o Two, there’s greater counterparty risk associated with forward contracts.
Thus, the prime concern of SEBI is that a forward contract is not a standardized contract with complete counterparty risk guarantee, even though it is being traded on the exchange platform. Such an instrument is not allowed in the securities market and SEBI does not want to start regulating commodities with such grey areas.
Forward contracts were introduced in the commodity market last year, but they are not permitted in stock market.
Globally, the bulk of the forward contracts in commodities happen outside the exchange platform. Only futures and options are traded on leading commodity exchanges.
Currently, the National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange Ltd (NCDEX) and the National Multi-Commodity Exchange of India Ltd (NMCE) offer forward trading in various commodities. While NMCE recently launched forward contracts in rubber, NCDEX has a basket of more than 25 commodities for forward trades. Multi-Commodity Exchange of India Ltd (MCX) currently does not offer forward contracts.
INDIA-US PACT ON EXCHANGE OF TAX DATA
India and US have signed an agreement to implement the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), which will allow automatic exchange of tax information between the two countries starting September 30.
The agreement makes it obligatory on the part of the two nations to exchange information on offshore accounts of each other’s citizens in their respective territories.
Under FATCA, foreign financial institutions in the U.S. will have to provide information about Indian account holders to the U.S. government’s Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which will forward the information to the Indian government.
The Indian government will provide similar information to the IRS. For example, the State Bank of India will have to provide information regarding the investments by any U.S. citizen, even NRIs, to the Indian revenue authorities in a prescribed format regularly. The Indian government will then forward that information to the IRS.
TRADE FACILITATION COUNCIL
In a bid to follow a bottom-up approach to boost exports and rationalize non-essential imports at a time when foreign shipments have been contracting for five months in a row, the government has decided to constitute a trade facilitation council involving the state governments and will urge them to frame their own trade policies.
The move is aimed at achieving the $900 billion exports target by 2019-20.
The Commerce Ministry is also working with the states to prepare a list of infrastructure projects, which would ensure full potential of growth in exports. It is also working on other measures including dissegregation of exports data state-wise. The foreign trade policy (2015-20) released by the ministry in April also talked about mainstreaming trade by involving state governments.
Seeking to involve states for promoting exports, the Commerce Ministry had asked them to appoint commissioners and prepare export strategy. As many as 21 states have appointed export commissioners while 14 states including Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat have framed strategies for outward shipments.
The trade facilitation council will be headed by commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman and will have representation from state industry ministers and secretaries.
The Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics (DGCI&S), under the Ministry of Commerce, is an official organisation for collection, compilation and dissemination of India’s trade statistics and commercial information.
REVISED DRAFT INDIAN FINANCIAL CODE
Indian Financial Code (IFC)
The IFC is intended to create a single unified and internally consistent law replacing a large part of the existing Indian legal framework for governance of the financial sector.
Several of the over 60 laws are outdated; there have been dramatic changes in the global financial architecture since the original laws were written, and many of the developments in finance (and the emergence of new instruments) sometimes fall between regulators (or across them), resulting in conflict.
The Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission (FSLRC) headed by retired Supreme Court judge B.N. Srikrishna, was constituted in March 2011 to study possible reforms in the financial sector. The commission, in its report submitted in March 2013, suggested a merger of multiple financial regulatory agencies into one overarching authority that would have oversight over the capital market, insurance sector, pension funds and commodities futures trading, except the RBI.
The first draft of the IFC report submitted by FSLRC proposed to give the RBI governor the right to overrule the monetary policy committee’s decisions.
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE FIRST AND REVISED DRAFTS
The first IFC draft proposed that in “exceptional and unusual circumstances”, if the central bank
governor disagrees with a decision taken at a meeting of the monetary policy committee, the governor will have the right to supersede such a decision. However, the revised draft IFC has withdrawn this clause. Instead, it says, “in the event of a tie amongst the members of the monetary policy committee, the Reserve Bank chairperson will have a second and casting vote”.
While the old draft proposed that two members be appointed by the government in consultation with the RBI apart from three that it can appoint, the new draft proposes that the government can appoint four members of its own while the RBI governor can nominate an employee of the central bank to the committee. The other member in the committee apart from the RBI governor will be an executive member of RBI. The central government has to appoint its share of four members drawn from candidates short-listed by a selection committee. Members of the MPC—scheduled to meet once every two months—will serve for four years and enjoy privileges equivalent to those provided to an executive member of the RBI board. Each member will have one vote and the decisions of the MPC will be carried by majority. The draft says that each member will have to submit a line justifying their vote and that the decisions of the MPC will be binding on RBI.
Also, the revised draft IFC says inflation target for each financial year will be determined in terms of the Consumer Price Index by the central government in consultation with RBI every three years. If the inflation target is not met, then RBI must explain and initiate remedial actions and set out a time period within which the inflation target would be achieved. In the monetary policy framework agreed by the government and RBI released in February, it was decided that RBI would try to contain consumer price inflation within 6% by January 2016 and within 4% with a band of 2 percentage points for all subsequent years.
The draft also proposes to dilute the powers of the proposed FSAT that will replace the existing
Securities Appellate tribunal and hear appeals against RBI and other regulators. FSAT will not be able to set aside any regulations but can only hear appeals filed by institutions challenging the regulator’s order.
The earlier version of the draft IFC had given the tribunal powers to set aside any regulation and instruct a regulator to issue a new order. However, the revised code retains the provision wherein decisions taken by RBI against banks can be questioned in the tribunal. So far, only decisions taken by the Securities and Exchange Board of India and more recently, by the Insurance Regulatory and
Development Authority of India, can be appealed against in SAT.
NATIONAL PENSION SYSTEM
HOW NPS WORKS?
NPS is a defined contribution pension plan that needs one to keep contributing till 60 years of age.
The minimum contribution to the pension (or Tier I account) is Rs.6000.
Investments are market-linked and one can choose any of the three funds currently on offer—
government securities fund, fixed-income instruments other than government securities fund and equity fund.
Maximum equity exposure is 50% and only through the index funds.
At 60 years of age, one can have up to 60% of this money and buy an annuity product, it offers pension, with the rest.
For early exits from NPS before 60 years of age, one will have to use 80% of the accumulated corpus to buy an annuity.
However, one can also make a partial withdrawal up to 25% of the contributions after 10 years of being in the scheme for specific purposes.
While the Tier I account is basic, the Tier-II account works like a savings account to offer liquidity.
CAN NRI ’S INVEST IN NPS?
The Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) recently sought clarification on the eligibility of NRIs to invest in the NPS.
While NRIs were always allowed to invest in NPS but it wasn’t a stated item under the Fema (Foreign Exchange Management Act) guidelines.
However, the RBI (Reserve Bank of India) has clarified that NRIs can invest in NPS.
An NRI can invest in NPS through a rupee denominated non-resident (external) rupee (NRE) account or non-resident ordinary rupee (NRO) account or local sources.
Given that almost all banks in India work as distributors (called “points of presence” or PoP) for NPS, one can approach his bank to open an NPS account.
According to the PFRDA, know-your-customer (KYC) process done by bank will suffice to open an NPS account.
Once the account is open one will get a permanent retirement account number and his NPS account becomes completely portable.
1. Project Mausam by Ministry of Culture
Implemented by Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA), New Delhi as the nodal coordinating agency with support of Archeological Survey of India and National Museum as associate bodies
Showcase a Transnational Mixed Route (including Natural and Cultural Heritage) on the World Heritage List has been well appreciated during the Project Launch by India at the 38th World Heritage Session at Doha, Qatar on 20th June, 2014.
The endeavour of Project ‘Mausam’is to position itself at two levels:
At the macro level, it aims to re-connect and re-establish communications between countries of the Indian Ocean world, which would lead to an enhanced understanding of cultural values and concerns;
At the micro level, the focus is on understanding national cultures in their regional maritime milieu.
2. PRASAD & HRIDAY Scheme
Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spirituality Augmentation Drive/PRASAD (MoTourism)
Features • 12 cities have been included under the PRASAD scheme: – Amaravati (Andhra Pradesh), – Gaya(Bihar), – Dwaraka(Gujarat), – Amritsar(Punjab), – Ajmer(Rajasthan), – Kanchipuram(Tamil Nadu), – Vellankani(Tamil Nadu), – Puri(Odisha), – Varanasi(Uttar Prasesh), – Mathura(Uttar Pradesh), – Kedarnath (Uttarakhand) and – Kamakhya (Assam)
A Mission Directorate has been established to implement the PRASAD scheme in the Ministry of Tourism . Budget provision of INR 15.60 crore has been made in Revised Estimates 2014-2015
The Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY) (MoUrban Dev)
This scheme is focused on preserving and revitalising the unique character of heritage cities in India
12 cities have been identified by the Ministry of Urban Development in the first phase: – Amaravati(Andhra Pradesh); – Gaya (Bihar); – Dwarka (Gujarat), – Badami(Karnataka); – Puri (Odisha), – Amritsar (Punjab); – Ajmer(Rajasthan); Kanchipuram (Tamil Nadu); – Vellankani(Tamil Nadu); – Warangal (Telangana); – Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh); and – Mathura (Uttar Pradesh).
(Bold one is common in both)
Rich heritage and cultural history are the basis on which these cities have been selected.
HRIDAY aims to bring together the following elements: – Urban Planning – Economic Growth – Heritage Conservation
Focus of HRIDAY is on: – Cleanliness – Livelihood – Skills – Safety – Security – Accessibility – Faster Service Delivery
New technologies will be added such as Wi-FI and CCTV surveillance and provision for heritage walks
The duration of the scheme is 3 years starting from December 2014, funding around 500 Cr.
Each city will prepare the heritage management plan outlining heritage resources and develop policies for guiding conservation, restoration, future use and development
Facilities for women and senior citizens, accessibility and last mile connectivity, conservation of areas and documentation of heritage sites are some of the focus areas of HRIDAY and PRASAD
The Centre has identified five areas for the Kyoto-Varanasi partnership, based on which the Japanese will extend
their expertise to help rejuvenate the holy city. These include:
Solid-liquid waste management
Developing the Buddhist tourist circuit in and around Varanasi
Industry-university interface and
Setting up of a convention centre on public-private partnership basis for giving a fillip to the cultural
activities in the city.
3. National Culture Fund (NCF) (MoCulture)
The Union Minister of State for Culture recently said that a large number of projects, both in the form of tangible projects like restoration, conservation of old ASI monuments, provision of Tourist Amenities at the historical sites; and intangible projects like capacity building of artisans, training programmes, books publications , cultural events , etc. have been undertaken through the National Culture Fund (NCF) of Ministry of Culture.
The National Culture Fund was established by the Government of India (Ministry of Culture) as trust under the Charitable Endowments Act, 1890, in 1996.
The contributions to NCF are made by the corporate houses (NTPC, ONGC,SAIL , HUDCO , REC , Apeejay Group etc ) to undertake development of Tangible & Intangible heritage on a project mode basis.
NCF’s primary mandate is to establish & nurture Public Private Partnerships in the field of heritage and mobilize resources for the restoration, conservation, protection and development of India’s rich, natural , tangible and intangible heritage
Accepts private institutions and individuals as equal partners of the government in the management of the cultural heritage of India. All contributions to NCF are given 100% tax exemption under Section 80 G (2) of the Income Tax Act of 1961.
The NCF is accountable to each donor in respect of funds donated. The funds can be donated either in Indian currency or any foreign convertible currency
4. Adarsh Smarak Yojana (MoCulture)
The Ministry of Culture has chosen Hampi and 24 other monuments in the country to be granted ‘Adarsha Smaraks’ tag on basis of highest number of tourists visiting.
Places included are-
Virupaksha Temple @ Pattadkal in Karnataka is a temple of Lord Shiva which will be covered in the scheme. Krishnadevaraya, one of the famous kings of the Vijayanagara Empire was a major patron of this temple.
Sun Temple at Konark, Odhisa has been the coveted with Adarsh Monument tag by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). It is a 13th century temple of Odisha, built by Narasimhadeva I of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty. It is also known as Black Pagoda. It’s a World Heritage Site.
Hazarduari Palace in Murshidabad district of West Bengal
Vaishali-Kolhua in Bihar
Rang Ghar in Sibsagar (Sivasagar) district of Assam.
It includes monuments like Taj Mahal, Khajuraho, Qutab Minar and Red Fort which have highest number of tourists visiting them.
ASI provides amenities of international standards like washrooms, drinking water, signs, cafeteria, audiovisual centres, Wi-Fi connectivity, interpretation centres and encroachment-free areas around these monuments
5. Buddhist Circuit (MoTourism)
Three Buddhist Circuits have been identified by the Ministry of Tourism in the country to be developed with the help of Central Government/State Government/Private Stake Holders. These include the following:-
Circuit 1: The Dharmayatra or the Sacred Circuit
This will be a 5 to 7 days circuit and will include visits to Gaya (Bodhgaya), Varanasi (Sarnath), Kushinagar, Piparva (Kapilvastu) with a day trip to Lumbini in Nepal.
Circuit 2: Extended Dharmayatra or Extended Sacred Circuit or Retracing Buddha’s Footsteps
This will be a 10 to 15 day circuit and will include visits to Bodhgaya (Nalanda, Rajgir, Barabar caves, Pragbodhi Hill, Gaya), Patna (Vaishali, Lauriya Nandangarh, Lauriya Areraj, Kesariya, Patna Museum), Varanasi (Sarnath), Kushinagar, Piparva (Kapilvastu, Shravasti, Sankisa) with a day trip to Lumbini in Nepal
Circuit 3: Buddhist Heritage Trails (State Circuits)
i. Jammu and Kashmir – Ladakh, Srinagar (Harwan, Parihaspora) and Jammu (Ambaran).
ii. Himachal Pradesh – Dharamshala, Spiti, Kinnaur and Lahaul.
iii. Punjab – Sanghon.
iv. Haryana – Jind (Assan), Yamunanagar(Sugh).
v. Maharashtra -Aurangabad (Ajanta, Ellora, Pithalkora Caves), Pune (Karla Caves), Mumbai (Kanheri Caves), Pune (Bhaja Caves) and Nashik (Pandavleni Caves).
vi. Andhra Pradesh – Amravati, Nagarjunakonda, Vizag (Borra Caves, Salihundum Caves).
vii. Madhya Pradesh – Sanchi, Satdhara, Andher, Sonari, Murulkurd.
viii. Odisha (Dhauli, Ratnagiri, Lalitgiri, Udaygiri, Langudi, Khandagiri).
ix. Chhattisgarh – Sirpur.
x. West Bengal – Kolkata (Indian Museum)
xi. Sikkim – Rumtek, Enchay and other Monasteries.
xii. Arunachal Pradesh –Tawang and Bomdila.
6.Swadesh Darshan and Prasad Scheme (MoTourism)
Swadesh Darshan for Integrated Development of Tourist Circuits around Specific Themes, with budget of 600 Cr. For 2015-16.
National Mission on Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Augmentation Drive (PRASAD) to beautify and improve the amenities and infrastructure at pilgrimage centres of all faiths.
Under Swadesh Darshan, the following five circuits have been identified for development:
North East Circuit (Bhalukpong – Bomdila-Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh)
Buddhist Circuit (Cultural Centre, Bodhgaya)
Coastal Circuit (Kakinada –Hope Island- Konaseema as World Coastal & Eco Tourism Circuit (Phase–I ) in Andhra Pradesh )
7.Rakhigari: The biggest Harappan Site
Rakhigarhi (Hisar district) is the biggest Harappan Civilization site with more than 2000 Harappan sites exists in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Recently 2 more mounds were unearthed in Rakhigarhi, which adds to the already present 7 mounds increase the total area to over 350 Hectares, and making it the biggest Harappan Civilization site.
Earlier order of size, the biggest Harappan sites were:
o Mohenjo-daro (around 300 Hec, in Pak),
o Harappa (Pak),
o Ganweriwala (Pak),
o Rakhigarhi (Ind),
o Dhoavira (Ind).
The excavated grave had terracotta pots as funerary objects arranged placed around the head of the deceased, which suggest a believe in life after death; Clay toys; Mud pots;
8.International Yoga Day
International Yoga Day, also known as Yoga Day in some places, June 21, was declared as the International Day of Yoga by the United Nations General Assembly on December 11, 2014 with 175 Nations joining as Co-Sponsors and proposal was done within 90 days.
From the perspective of yoga, the Summer Solstice marks the transition to Dakshinayana. The first full moon after Summer Solstice is known as Guru Poornima. Lord Shiva, the first yoga practitioner (Adi Yogi) is said to have begun imparting the knowledge of yoga to the rest of mankind on this day and became the first guru (Adi Guru). Dakshinayana is also considered a time when there is natural support for those pursuing spiritual practices
Event held in 192 countries with help of Indian Mission & Yoga Centre.
Guiness World Records for Largest number of Participant in a Yoga lesson at Single Venue (Rajpath) & Most of nationalities in Yoga as require minimum of 50, 84 countries participant at Rajpath.
9.Gandhi Peace Prize for 2014
India’s space agency — Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has been selected for the Gandhi Peace Prize for the year 2014. Launched Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) and at a very cost effective price of 450 crore rupees.
10.The First National Tribal Festival –VANAJ-2015
SCIENCE CONGRESS LAUDS ‘FEATS’ OF ANCIENT INDIA
The Indian Science Congress made history with a symposium on “Ancient Sciences through Sanskrit” that included a paper on the existence of interplanetary aircraft in India around 9,000 years ago, references to “cosmic connection” and a phenomenon explained as “fusion of science and spirituality due to inter-penetration law”.
In the Sulbha Sutra written in 800 BCE, Baudhayan wrote the geometric formula now famously known as Pythagoras theorem. It was written by Baudhayan 300 years before Pythagoras.
Sulbha Sutrawas also the first to crack the pi ratio.
EXCAVATION AT HARAPPAN SITE REVEALS HOUSE PLAN
Excavation conducted by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) at the late-Harappan site of Chandayan in Uttar Pradesh has, for the first time, revealed the plan of a house on the Ganga-Yamuna doab, with its mud walls, four successive floor levels and post-holes.
The rock paintings in the Marayur-Chinnar forest belt of Kerala, the second largest concentration of cave paintings in south India, are at high risk of degeneration.
Over 50 caves, situated in the forest belt, are believed to be of the prehistoric period.
The Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs is organising a weeklong First National Tribal Festival, ‘Vanaj 2015, which has a host of activities lined up to showcase the culture of tribal people from across the country.
Sacred Groves are patches of natural or near-natural vegetation, dedicated by local communities to their
ancestral spirits or deities.
The states particularly, rich in abundance of groves are Kerala, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Meghalaya, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu.
THE INSTALLED SACRED GROVES INCLUDES
PROMINENT SACRED GROOVES
SARNA: Sarna is the term used to refer to sacred groves in the Chotanagpur plateau (Jharkhand) and
Chhattisgarh. It is the religious centre of the community within the village ecosystem, where the village
RAJBHANSHIS: The Rajbanshis are from Vaishnav community and worships Lord Krishna. They have
great respect for Bamboo, as the flute of Lord Krishna is also madeup of bamboo, that’s why the
Rajbanshi sacred groves have bamboo trees. Bowl folk songs, explains the importance of bamboo in
UMANGLAI: these are the sacred groves of Manipur. Major tribal dance of Manipur includes LaiHaraoba,
Shim lam and ThangTa dances.
BHARAT KE RANG’
‘Bharat ke rang’, a programme of cultural performances of Northeastern states in collaboration with Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan. Artists from Manipur, Assam and Meghalaya performed folk and tribal dances in this programme.
KABUI AND DHOL CHOLAM DANCE’ OF MANIPUR
The Kabuis, inhabiting the western hill ranges of Manipur. During the GangNgai festival, the Kabuis perform a series of dances in different stylized forms, accompanied by the sound of heavy drums and highpitched songs.
The boys wield sharp weapons (daos) in their hands and move around in circles along with girls dressed in traditional costumes.
The Shim Lam Dance and the Kit Lam Dance are some of dances of the Kabui Nagas. The Shim Lamdance is also known as the Fly Dance.
BIHU DANCE OF ASSAM
Performed by both young men and women,
Characterized by brisk dance steps, rapid hand movement, and a rhythmic swaying of the hips in order to represent youthful passion.
The most important and colourful of the three Bihu festival is the spring festival “Bohag Bihu” or Rangali Bihu celebrated in the middle of April. The three Bihus/Festivals includes Bohag (spring) and Magh (winter) Bihu and Kati (autumn) Bihu.
BASANTA RASS (TERMED AS DANCE DRAMA OF MANIPUR)
The Basant Raas Lila, the epitome of Manipur classical dance reveals the sublime and transcendental love of Krishna and Radha and the Gopis devotion to the lord.
GHANTU’ FOLK DANCE OF SIKKIM
The Ghantu dance is Sikkimese folk dance patronised by the Gurung community. This ancient folk dance form depicts the colourful lifestyle of the people of the land and is performed by young girls in traditional costumes & headgear and is full of fun and vigour.
The Ghantunach or dance festival takes place in the month of Magh Panchami in Magh (towards the end of January) and ends on Baisakh Purnima which fall around in the end of April or the beginning of May.
Hey wear typical Ghantu dress which comprises the traditional Gurung dress, jewellery and special
INDIA’S ‘PARROT LADY’
India’s ‘Parrot Lady’ is to return home, after Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper handed over to his counterpart, NarendraModi, the 800-year-old Indian sandstone sculpture of a woman holding a parrot.
The sculpture dates back to the 12th century. It was returned in accordance with the 1970 UNESCO Convention.
The Parrot Lady is what is known as a naayika, or heroine. She is voluptuous, scantily clad, posed in a manner that is a tad saucy, and has a parrot on her back. She is just one of many erotic stone ladies that were created to adorn the Khajuraho temples.
A World Bank report — Mind Society and Behaviour — describes an impressive set of results when behavioural aspects are integrated into development policies.
RIGHT TO DIE:
Silicosis is a chronic lung disease caused by breathing in tiny bits of silica dust. Silica is the second most common mineral in the earth’s crust. It is a major component of sand, rock, and mineral ores like quartz.
October 10 marks the World and European Day against the Death Penalty
SOCIAL JUSTICE BENCH
The Supreme Court set up a special Bench, called the Social Justice Bench, comprising two judges devoted to the delivery of speedy justice in a range of social issues related to the downtrodden and socially marginalized groups.
The purpose behind constituting the new Bench was to streamline cases highlighting social issues before one court and thus facilitate the Supreme Court’s monitoring and review of the government’s action in such cases.
RISE IN GLOBAL INEQUALITY
The latest International Labour Organisation report on real wages notes that there is continuing deceleration in the growth of global real wages and discriminatory pay gaps based on gender and nationality that could sharpen household income inequalities.
AN INCREASE IN WAGES WOULD IMPACT ON
The cost of production,
Competitiveness of firms.
At the macro-level, wage stagnation also feeds into a decrease in domestic consumption, investment and exports.
The ILO was founded in 1919, in the wake of a destructive war, to pursue a vision based on the premise that universal, lasting peace can be established only if it is based on social justice.
The ILO became the first specialized agency of the UN in 1946.
The main aims of the ILO are to promote rights at work, encourage decent employment opportunities, enhance social protection and strengthen dialogue on work-related issues.
Scientists were aware that a gene known as HLA-B*57 in a person acted as a protection against the HIV virus. The new study finds that the virus has adapted to the gene, which therefore no longer offers protection
Japanese encephalitis is a viral fever that affects the brain and is considered extremely dangerous for children, and it also has a high “mortality and morbidity rate”. Caused by the bite of Culex tritaeniorhynchus mosquito, symptoms of Japanese encephalitis include sudden onset of fever, vomiting, headache, neck stiffness, and seizures.
IMR has fallen faster in rural areas than in urban areas. Among metro cities, Chennai has the lowest IMR; Among States, Kerala has by far the best; the next best States, Delhi and Maharashtra, have IMRs that are twice that of Kerala.
The World Health Organization guideline value for fluoride is 1.5 mg per litre, with a target of between 0.8 and 1.2 mg per litre to maximise benefits and minimise harmful effects Fluoride contamination affects the teeth and bones and long-term excessive exposure causes abdominal pain, excessive saliva, nausea, vomiting, seizures and muscle spasms. National Programme for Prevention and Control of Fluorosis in 2008-09. In 2013-14, the programme was brought under the National Rural Health Mission, which has so far covered 111 districts.
ACTION PLAN FOR DIARRHEA AND PNEUMONIA
The Centre will soon launch an action plan against diarrhoea and pneumonia in four States. The aim is to end preventable child deaths from these two by 2025.
The four States where the India Action Plan for Diarrhoea and Pneumonia will be rolled out — Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Rajasthan — account for half of under-five mortality in the country which stands at 62 deaths per 1,000 live births nationally.
The action plan is a follow-up of the Global Action Plan for Diarrhoea and Pneumonia that was launched by WHO and UNICEF in April 2013 which aims to reduce pneumonia mortality to less than 3 per 1,000 live births, diarrhoea deaths to less than 1 per 1,000 live births, reduce incidence of severe pneumonia and diarrhoea by 75 per cent compared to 2010 levels and reduce by 40 per cent the global number who are stunted as compared to 2010 levels by 2025.
Health and Family Welfare Minister launched “Mission Indradhanush,” which will aim to cover all those children by 2020 who had not been vaccinated, or were partially vaccinated, against seven vaccine-preventable diseases — diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, polio, tuberculosis, measles and hepatitis B. The Ministry identified 201 high-focus districts in the country in the first phase.
A fact-finding team that probed the death of 16 women at a sterilisation camp in Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh, in November has ruled out the presence of zinc phosphide in the medicine as the only cause of the deaths.
In Kerala, the proportion of couples effectively protected by family planning methods is the highest in India.
Reasons for the dramatic fall in birth rates is mainly attributed to the following,
Access to health services
Social welfare measures
The public distribution system
Nutritional security and poverty alleviation.
A GLOBAL BURDEN OF DISEASE STUDY 2013
According to the report, ischemic heart disease was the number one cause of death in India in 2013. The other leading causes (in descending order) were lower respiratory track infections, tuberculosis, neonatal encephalitis, preterm birth complications, diarrhoea, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), suicide, and finally road injuries.
INDIA TO REACH REPLACEMENT LEVELS OF FERTILITY BY 2020
The Total Fertility Rate – the average number of children that will be born to a woman during her lifetime – in eight States has fallen below two children per woman.
Just nine States – all of them in the north and east, except for Gujarat – haven’t yet reached replacements levels of 2.1, below which populations begin to decline.
West Bengal now has India’s lowest fertility, with the southern States, Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab and
Among backward States, Odisha too has reduced its fertility to 2.1.
Demographic transition (DT) refers to the transition from high birth and death rates to low birth and death rates as a country develops from a pre-industrial to an industrialized economic system
HEALTH AS FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS
RAISING PUBLIC HEALTH EXPENDITURE TO 2.5% OF GDP
The draft endorses that to achieve the millennium development goals we require an increase in public health expenditure from 4 to 5 per cent of the GDP
40% of this expenditure will be borne by the central government.
The government will raise resources by creating a health cess on the lines of the education cess. Special commodity taxes may be imposed on tobacco, alcohol, extractive industries etc
COMPOSITION OF BLOOD:
Blood is composed of cells suspended in a liquid-like substance called plasma. Suspended in the plasma are three types of cells:
Red blood cells carry oxygen
White blood cells fight infection
Platelets stop bleeding in injuries
Blood contains red blood cells, floating in fluid called plasma. Red blood cells carry on their surface a set of markers with which the plasma interacts. This compatibility or cross-talk between the cell and the plasma is what makes each blood type special. The markers on the cell are determined by a master type called H, out of which are generated types A, B, AB and AO.
BOMBAY BLOOD GROUP:
The h/h blood group, also known as Oh or the Bombay blood group, is a rare blood type. This blood phenotype was first discovered in Bombay by Dr. Y. M. Bhende in 1952.The hh type (Bombay type people) can accept only from other hh type, and also can receive only from the hh types. This makes the Bombay Blood types a very special and rare category of people.
Interbreeding of two malaria mosquito species in the West African country of Mali has resulted in a “super mosquito” hybrid that is resistant to insecticide-treated bed nets. “It’s ‘super’ with respect to its ability to survive exposure to the insecticides on treated bed nets.
Anopheles gambiae, a major malaria vector, is interbreeding with isolated pockets of another malaria mosquito, Acoluzzii.
Entomologists initially considered them as the “M and S forms” of Anopheles gambiae. They are now recognised as separate species.
The research “provides convincing evidence indicating that a man-made change in the environment — the introduction of insecticides — has altered the evolutionary relationship between two species
The World Health Organization has approved giving a groundbreaking meningitis vaccine, which does not have to be stored in fridges or iceboxes, to babies across Africa. WHO’s approval means the vaccine meets international safety and quality standards and can be used in children under a year old. It also paves the way for UN agencies to purchase the vaccine for use in routine immunization programmes.
MenAfriVac was developed by MVP — a partnership between WHO and Path, a non-profit global health group and is manufactured by the Serum Institute of India.
Meningitis is an acute inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinalcord, known as the Meningitis.
Meningitis can be life-threatening because of the inflammation’s proximity to the brain and spinal cord.
Symptoms: headache and neck stiffness associated with fever, confusion or altered consciousness, vomiting, and an inability to tolerate light (photophobia) or loud noises (phonophobia).
Causes: Most infections are due to viruses, with bacteria, fungi, and protozoa being the next most common causes.
Treatments: Antibiotics are used for treatment. The type of antibiotic depends on the bacteria which caused the infection. Vaccination is also widely used for prevention.
Swine flu (swine influenza) is a respiratory disease caused by viruses (influenza viruses) that infect the respiratory tract of pigs, resulting in nasal secretions, a barking cough, decreased appetite, and listless behavior. Swine flu viruses may mutate (change) so that they are easily transmissible among humans.
The 2009 swine flu outbreak (pandemic) was due to infection with the H1N1 virus and was first observed in Mexico
Rajasthan, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh are the worst-hit States.
Causes/means of spread: Swine flu is contagious. When people who have it cough or sneeze, they spray tiny drops of the virus into the air. If anyone come in contact with these drops or touch a surface (such as a doorknob or sink) that an infected person has recently touched, one can catch H1N1 swine flu.
Symptoms: Symptoms of swine flu in humans are similar to most influenza infections: fever (100 F or greater), cough, nasal secretions, fatigue, and headache.
VENTURE CAPITAL FUNDS FOR SCHEDULED CASTE
The Government of India has launched this ‘Venture Capital Fund for Scheduled Castes’ with initial capital of Rs. 200 crore.
THE OBJECTIVES OF THE VENTURE FUND ARE AS FOLLOWS:
It is a Social Sector Initiative to be implemented nationally in order to promote entrepreneurship amongst the SCs who are oriented towards innovation and growth technologies.
To provide concessional finance to the SC entrepreneurs, who will create wealth and value for society and at the same time will promote profitable businesses. The assets so created will also create forward/ backward linkage. It will further create chain effect in the locality.
To increase financial inclusion for SC entrepreneurs and to motivate them for further growth of SC communities.
To develop SC entrepreneurs economically.
To enhance direct and indirect employment generation for SC population in India
GREEN BUSINESS SCHEME
NSFDC’s ‘Green Business Scheme’ for providing financial assistance has been launched keeping into the concern for the climate change.
Under this Scheme, loan for unit cost upto Rs.1 lakh at concessional rate of interest will be provided to
Scheduled Castes for activities such as e-rickshaw, Solar Pump and Solar energy powered implements, poly house etc.
BETI BACHAO-BETI PADHAO’ SCHEME & ‘SUKANYA SAMRUDDHI ACCOUNT
MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS: INDIA’S ACHIEVEMENT
Population below the poverty line, India has already achieved the target of reducing poverty by half.
On education indicators, the county has already achieved gender parity in primary school enrollment and according to the report it is likely to reach parity in secondary and tertiary education by 2015.
India is also set to achieve the goal of reducing hunger by half and reduce maternal mortality by three quarters.
The country has successfully managed to control the spread of deadly diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.
It has also creased the forest cover and has halved the proportion of population without access to clean drinking water.
INDIRA GANDHI MATRITVA SAHYOG YOJANA (IGMSY)
In 2010, the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD) launched the Indira Gandhi MatritvaSahyogYojana (IGMSY) to address this critical situation. Leveraging the Integrated Child Development
Scheme’s (ICDS) platform, the programme was piloted in 53 districts across the country.
Benefits from scheme:
The IGMSY provides partial wage compensation to pregnant and lactating women in order to promote rest and healthy feeding practices, as well as increase utilisation of healthcare services.
Under the scheme, all pregnant women of 19 years and above, except those employed by the government (Central or State) or Public Sector Undertakings, for the first two live births were entitled to Rs. 4,000 per live birth, in three instalments.
The scheme is conditional on timely registration, complete vaccination, attending counseling sessions and exclusive breastfeeding of the child.
In September 2013, the IGMSY cash incentive was increased from Rs. 4,000 to Rs. 6,000 to comply with the minimum maternity entitlement provision of the National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013. The MWCD announced a proposed scale up of the IGMSY to 200 additional ‘high burden’ districts in 2015-16.
PM launched the first indigenously developed and manufactured Rotavirus vaccine (Rotavac).
EXTENT AND IMPACT OF ROTAVIRUS IN INDIA
Each year, diarrhoea caused by rotavirus results up to 10 lakh hospitalizations and kills nearly 80 thousand children under the age of 5 years.
Besides causing emotional stress to the affected families, it also pushes many Indian families below the poverty line and also imposes significant economic burden on the country.
HOW VACCINE DEVELOPED
Rotavac’s development took 25 years. The vaccine has been developed under an innovative public-private partnership model.
It was developed by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech.
It involved partnership between the Ministry of Science and Technology, the institutions of the US Government, various government institutions and NGOs in India, supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Virus which causes severe diarrhea
Fever, nausea, and vomiting, watery diarrhea.
Rotavirus transmitted through contact with contaminated hands, surfaces and objects, and
possibly by the respiratory route.
It is highly contagious.
According to WHO treatment should include oral rehydration and zinc supplementation as a
two-pronged treatment of acute diarrhoea.
SOCIAL SECURITY NET
There is a conscious push towards spreading the social security net, especially retirement pension coverage, using the Jan Dhan platform.
The Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojna which will offer accident cover of Rs.2 lakh at a premium of just Rs.12 per year and
Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti BimaYojana which will offer life cover of Rs.2 lakh at a
premium of just Rs.330 per annum are commendable plans that will take social security to
the poor who need it the most.
The govt. flagged the PradhanMantri Gram SinchaiYojna aimed at ‘per drop more crop’ and ParamparagatKrishiVikasYojna (organic farming) as the two most important progammes in the farm sector to enhance productivity and production. It announced an allocation of Rs. 5,300 crore for microirrigation, watershed development and the “sinchaiyojna’’ and Rs. 300 crore for organic farming.
Prime Minister Modi had recently launched the Soil Health Card Scheme from Suratgarh in Rajasthan.
Recognising that agriculture incomes were under stress, Mr. Jaitley announced that a Unified National
Agriculture Market would be set up to increase farmers’ incomes with an “incidental’’ advantage of moderating increase in prices which has been the bane of many a government. “While farmers are no longer in the clutches of traders, his produce does not command the best national price,’’ he observed.
“Farm credit has been raised by Rs. 50,000 crore to Rs. 8.5 lakh crore for 2015-16, which he expects banks to surpass.
However, funding for the UPA flagship programmes of RashtriyaKrishiVikasYojna has been reduced and the National Food Security Mission, Extension programme and crop insurance schemes have been ignored.
‘AAPKI BETI HUMARI BETI’SCHEME:
Haryana CM ManoharLalKhattar has launched a scheme for girl child- ‘AapkiBeti HumariBeti’ on March 8, 2015. It has been launched with an aim to overcome the problem of decline in child sex ratio in Haryana.
CHANGES IN JUVENILE LAW
The Union Cabinet has approved the introduction of Amendment to the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill 2014.
The proposed new law gives the Juvenile Justice Board the power to assess whether the perpetrator of a heinous crime aged between 16 and 18, had acted as a ‘child’ or as an ‘adult.’
The board will be assisted in this process by psychologists and social experts.
Since this assessment will take place by the Board which will have psychologists and social experts, it will ensure that the rights of the juvenile are duly protected if he has committed the crime as a child.
The trial of the case will accordingly take place as a juvenile or as an adult on the basis of this assessment.
The cabinet also approved introduction of a contentious new provision in the bill that debars juveniles who have been convicted under the adult system from contesting elections and doing government jobs.
FIGHT AGAINST LEPROSY
Leprosy is a chronic, infectious disease involving the skin and nerves of infected individuals. Leprosy is caused by a slow-growing type of bacteria called Mycobacterium leprae (M. leprae).
Leprosy is also known as Hansen’s disease, after the scientist who discovered M. leprae in 1873.
The disease is characterised by long incubation period generally 5-7 years and is classified as paucibacillary or multi-bacillary, depending on the bacillary load.
Leprosy is a leading cause of permanent physical disability.
Those affected by the disease continue to face social stigma and discrimination.
NATIONAL E-HEALTH AUTHORITY (NEHA)
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare proposes to set up a National e-Health authority responsible for
development of an integrated health information system in India.
The authority will have one chairman and four full-time members.
It will be responsible for formulation of policies, strategies and implementation of plan blueprint of the National e-Health Policy / Strategy.
It will be responsible for the plan’s implementation by both public and private service providers.
The authority will establish a network of different institutions to promote e-Health and tele-medicine and lay down data management, privacy and security policies and also standards and guidelines in accordance with statutory provisions.
INDIA RANKED 101 IN SOCIAL PROGRESS INDEX(SPI)
The SPI was launched in 2013 and is based on 52 indicators of countries’ social and environmental
performance. It includes no economic indicators and measures outcomes. SPI has three main domains viz.
Basic Human Needs: Nutrition and Basic Medical Care ,Water and Sanitation, Shelter.
Foundations of Wellbeing: Ecosystem Sustainability, Access to Information and Communications,
Health and Wellness, Access to Basic Knowledge.
Opportunity: Access to Advanced Education, Personal Rights, Tolerance(women, minorities) and Inclusion.
ACID ATTACK: VICTIMS MUST GET FULL TREATMENT, SAYS SC
The Supreme Court made it mandatory for private hospitals across the country to provide full and free medical treatment to the victims. The order said the term “treatment” included reconstructive surgery, free medicines, bed, rehabilitation and aftercare.
The Bench was interpreting Section 357C of the Criminal Procedure Code, inserted in Feb. 2013, to deal with the issue of cost of treatment of acid-attack victims.
In 2014, there has been 300% rise in the incidents of acid attack, totaling 309 in 2014 across the country. UP tops the list of incidents of acid attack, followed by MP and Delhi.
KYASANUR FOREST DISEASE(KFD)
KFD is caused by the Kyasanur Forest Disease Virus (KFDV). The virus was identified in 1957 when it was isolated from a sick monkey from the Kyasanur Forest in Karnataka.
Rodents, shrews, and monkeys are common hosts for KFDV after being bitten by an infected tick, KFDV can cause epizootics with high fatality in primates
Transmission to humans may occur after a tick bite or contact with an infected animal, most importantly a sick or recently dead monkey. No person-to-person transmission has been described.
After an incubation period of 3-8 days, the symptoms of KFD begin suddenly with chills, fever, and headache. Severe muscle pain with vomiting, gastrointestinal symptoms and bleeding problems may occur 3-4 days after initial symptom onset.
Patients may experience abnormally low blood pressure, and low platelet, red blood cell, and white blood cell counts.
There is no specific treatment for KFD, but early hospitalisation and supportive therapy is important.
Supportive therapy includes the maintenance of hydration and the usual precautions for patients with bleeding disorders.
APPRAISAL OF REVISED NATIONAL TUBERCULOSIS CONTROL PROGRAMME
The Joint Monitoring Mission 2015 has found many flaws with the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP) and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in their inability to handle the Multi-Drug Resistant – Tuberculosis (MDR-TB) crisis in the country.
RECOMMENDATIONS AND WAY FORWARD
While private doctors treat patients with daily dosing, the RNTCP follows a thrice weekly strategy, hence the need is to “accelerate implementation of the transition to daily dosing.”
It wants the Ministry to develop e-Nikshay, an advanced version to the existing Nikshay system for notifying TB patients.
With the cost of treating a person with TB going up to 39% of the household’s annual expenditure, the report has recommended that the Ministry of Health minimises the out-of-pocket expenditure by families by “supporting the cost of TB testing and providing free drugs.”
It also wants the government to exempt TB diagnostics and drugs from taxation, considering TB as a public health emergency.
The JMM has recommended that the government should establish a “state-of-art TB surveillance
system for capturing all TB cases, public and privately-treated.
The government has a proposal to codify the Central labour law architecture by merging all 44 Central legislations into four codes on labour laws — one each on wages, industrial relations, social security and safety & welfare.
CABINET CLEARS AMENDMENTS IN CHILD LABOUR LAW
While prohibiting employment of children below the age of 14 in all occupations and processes, the Centre made two exceptions by letting them work in family enterprises and in the audio-visual entertainment industry (except the circus), provided their school education is not affected.
Amendment introduces new term “adolescents” for children between 14 and 18 years of age and bars their employment in hazardous industries. Current law allows employment of children above 14 years in hazardous occupation and processes.
Parents and guardians will not be penalised for the first offence but, for a second offence, they would be fined up to Rs 20,000. This is a change from the earlier position where parents or guardians were liable to get the same punishment as employers for permitting a child to work in contravention of the Act.
To create a deterrent, the offence of employing any child or adolescent by an employer has been made cognizable.
WORLD EDUCATION FORUM 2015
The World Education Forum (WEF) was held in South Korea’s port city of Incheon. It adopted Declaration for future education development goals.
Earlier forum was held in Dakar in 2000, six goals were agreed upon, the most significant being that by 2015, each child would get access to primary education and no child would be out of school. Fifteen years later, we’re still miles away from achieving those goals
IAP HEALTHPHONE PROGRAMME
· The IAP HealthPhone Programme has been launched by the Indian Academy of Pediatrics (IAP) in partnership with the Ministry of Women and Child Development, UNICEF and supported by Vodafone India.
· The IAP HealthPhone programme is the world’s largest digital mass education programme for
addressing the malnutrition in women and children. · The IAP HealthPhone is a public-partnership initiative that leverages the increasing penetration of mobile phones in the country to educate over 6 million girls and women between 13 and 35 years of age and their families on better health and nutrition practices by 2018.
· The programme will achieve its objectives by widely promoting and distributing four re-edited videos from the Poshan (nutritional videos) series, jointly produced by MoWCD and UNICEF in 18 Indian languages. The Poshan videos address issues of status of women, the care of pregnant women and children under two, breastfeeding and the importance of balanced diet, health and simple changes in nutritional care practices that can notably enhance nutritiona levels.
As next step, IAP HealthPhone partners will also equip ASHAs and ANMs with a HealthPhone microSD card, containing a library of videos, to enable them to share health and nutrition knowledge with women, families and the communities they serve.
JAL KRANTI ABHIYAN
· Union Minister of State for Water Resources and River Development launched the Jal Kranti Abhiyan 2015-2016. The Jal Kranti Abhiyan will be celebrated across the country during 2015-16 with an aim to consolidate water conservation and management using a “holistic and integrated” approach.
· The main thrust of Jal Kranti is to recover receding underground water table, river-basin planning and irrigation water management, conservation and rejuvenation of traditional resources and save water.
· The chief component under the campaign is the Jal Gram Yojana, whereby one village facing acute water scarcity would be selected from each of the 672 districts in the country. The scheme will identify and train a cadre of local water professionals, preferably women panchayat members, to be called “Jal Mitra” who will create mass awareness about water problems.
· The scheme also provides for a “Sujalam Card” which will provide annual status/information about the quality of drinking water available for a Jal Gram.
MSG, is a glutamate, or salt of glutamic acid, a “non-essential” amino acid, which means it is produced by the body, and thus not required in our diet. In its pure form, MSG is a white crystalline powder. Among different varieties of glutamate, sodium glutamate is the most soluble and the easiest to crystallize.
MSG is a naturally occurring salt in tomatoes, Parmesan cheese, potatoes, mushrooms, soybeans and seaweed. But today, instead of extracting and crystallising MSG from seaweed broth or other natural foods, MSG is produced by fermentation of starch, sugar beets, sugar cane or molasses in laboratories.
MSG is a neurotransmitter — transporting messages from one nerve cell to another. Because it is said to enhance flavours, some scientists believe it “excites nerve endings” and exhibits “neuro-excitatory properties”, that is the ability to stimulate neurons. In the few cases of excessive stimulation, this can result in killing or damaging of nerve cells. Which is why some people consider MSG to induce headaches at best and Alzheimers at worst.
The FDA considers addition of MSG to foods to be “generally recognised as safe”. And yet, when MSG is added in foods, the FDA insists it be listed on the label. This is because over the years, specially since the 1960s, FDA has received many complaints of adverse reactions to foods containing MSG. These reactions — known as MSG Symptom Complex, or Chinese Restaurant Syndrome — include headaches, flushing, sweating, facial pressure, numbness, tingling or burning in the face/neck, heart palpitations, chest pain, nausea and weakness.
In the 1990s, the FDA asked independent scientific group Federation of American Societies for
Experimental Biology (FASEB) to examine the safety of MSG. The report concluded that MSG is safe. The FASEB identified some transient and mild symptoms, such as headache, numbness, flushing, tingling, palpitations, and drowsiness that may occur in some sensitive individuals who consume 3 grams or more of MSG without food. “However, a typical serving of a food with added MSG contains less than 0.5 grams of MSG. Consuming more than 3 grams of MSG without food at one time is unlikely,” says the FDA website.
RECOGNITION OF PRIOR LEARNING (RPL) SCHEME
Across construction sites dotting five states — Haryana, Telangana, Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Delhi — a novel scheme is underway to certify the skills acquired by workers in the unorganised sectors through traditional, non-formal learning channels. Under RPL, a target to certify an estimated 10 lakh workers has been set.
INCREASING NUMBER OF DAYS WORK UNDER MGNREGS
The rural development ministry, which oversees the MGNREGA, has moved a Cabinet note to increase the number of promised work-days under the scheme to 150 days in areas declared to be drought affected by the respective state governments.
The spectre of drought has led to a perceptible change, with the government coming to realise
MGNREGA’s value in mitigating distress situations and providing a basic minimum level of sustenance to the rural poor.
This fact was also acknowledged in a recent observation by the World Bank on MGNREGS as an effective substitute for lack of crop and weather insurance in India.
The new government has also launched steps to improve the scheme’s implementation through:
o More regular monitoring and scientific planning of works.
o Correcting MGNREGA’s biggest weakness — poor quality of assets — by introducing systems for measuring outcomes of works based on defined physical and financial parameters.
o Addressing the problem of delays in wage payments via mobile monitoring systems and SMS alerts to defaulting field personnel.
INDIA’S GREATEST ARCHITECT CHARLES CORREA
With the passing away of Charles Correa, often called “India’s greatest architect”, the country has lost a genius of urban planning.
He was the chief architect of Navi Mumbai, considered among the largest urban spaces in the world housing over two million people.
He pioneered some unique concepts in urban development and affordable housing that, if adopted widely, could change the landscape of the poorest townships of not just India but much of the Third World.
It was Mr. Correa who founded the Urban Design Research Institute in Bombay in 1984.
In India, Mr. Correa is famous for the Gandhi Smarak in Ahmedabad, Kala Kendra (Goa), National Crafts Museum (New Delhi), Bharat Bhavan (Bhopal), and Jawahar Kala Kendra (Jaipur).
He is the recipient of Padmashri (1972) and Padma Vibushan(2006).
NEW MANUAL SCAVENGING LAW PROVING INADEQUATE TO END THE
Maharashtra, with 63,713, tops the list with the largest number of manual scavenger households,
followed by MP, UP, Tripura and Karnataka, as per Census data.
Features Of The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act 2013
1. It also seeks to expand the definition of manual scavengers.
2. Every unsanitary latrine is to be demolished or converted into sanitary latrines within 9 months of coming of the law.
3. Falls under residual powers under the Union list (Entry 97).
4. National Commission for Safai karmachari is the implementing authority.
5. Rehabilitation of estimated 2 lakh manual scavengers with one-time cash assistance, Rs 3,000 per month during training for other livelihood options, concessional loans for at least one member of the family and financial assistance for building a house.
6. It also fixes the responsibility on local governments for ensuring sanitary community toilets.
7. It seeks to more strict punishment for employing manual scavengers with a fine of Rs 50,000 or/and
imprisonment up to a year. While the practice of hazardous cleaning of sewers and septic tanks will attract a fine of Rs 2 lakh and up to 2 years of imprisonment.
NATIONAL SKILL DEVELOPMENT AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP POLICY 2015
The policy would have four thrust areas. It addresses key obstacles to skilling, including low aspirational value, lack of integration with formal education, lack of focus on outcomes, low quality of training infrastructure and trainers.
It also seeks to connect entrepreneurs to mentors, incubators and credit markets; foster innovation and entrepreneurial culture; improve ease of doing business; and focus on social entrepreneurship.
Equity is also a focus of the Policy, which targets skilling opportunities for socially/geographically
marginalised and disadvantaged groups. Skill development and entrepreneurship programmes for
women are a specific focus of the Policy.
A MUCH NEEDED AMENDMENT TO COUNTER RACIST REMARK
The Union Ministry of Home Affairs has decided to amend the Indian Penal Code to make “racial discrimination” a non-bailable criminal offence. It is in the process of finalising a comprehensive Bill for insertion of new Sections 153C and 509A in the IPC.
Under the amended law, any word, sign or gesture insulting the race of a person will be punishable with a three-year prison term. Any word, gesture, written statement or activity aimed at discriminating against the race of a person or promoting violence against a particular race will invite a prison term of five years.
GROWING INEQUALITY IN INDIA
However, one group of people says that there is nothing to be worried about India’s growing inequality.
This is the normal progression of economic development. A set of expanding industries located in an urban area induces further development of economic activity throughout its zone of influence. For some years, this generates increasingly large differentials in income and development, but after reaching a maximum level, inequality begins to decline, in the manner of an inverted ‘U’, what we call as the Kuznets Curve. This is what we know as John F. Kennedy’s memorable phrase, “a rising tide lifts all boats”.
PAM RAJPUT COMMITTEE ON IMPROVING STATUS OF WOMEN
It wants the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) to be repealed, gay sex decriminalized, and at least 50 % reservation for women at all levels of legislature, right up to the Parliament.
GOVERNMENT TO INTRODUCE SC/ST ATROCITIES BILL 2014 IN MONSOON
SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989
SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill 2014
Forcing an SC or ST individual to vote or not
vote for a particular candidate in a manner
that is against the law is an offence under the
Wrongfully occupying land belonging to SCs or
STs is an offence under the Act.
Assaulting or sexual exploiting an SC or ST
woman is an offence under the Act.
The Bill adds that impeding certain activities related to voting will also be considered an offence.
The Bill defines ‘wrongful’ in this context, which was not done under the Act.
The Bill adds that: (a) intentionally touching an SC or ST woman in a sexual manner without her consent, or (b) using words, acts or gestures of a sexual nature, or (c) dedicating an SC or ST women as a devadasi to a temple, or any similar practice will also be considered an offence.
Role Of Public Servants
The Act specifies that a non SC or ST public servant
who neglects his duties relating to SCs or STs shall
be punishable with imprisonment for a term of six
months to one year.
The Bill specifies these duties, including: (a) registering a complaint or FIR, (b) reading out information given orally, before taking the signature of the informant and giving a
copy of this information to the informant, etc
Role Of Courts
Under the Act, a Court of Session at the district
level is deemed a Special Court to provide
speedy trials for offences.
A Special Public Prosecutor is appointed to
conduct cases in this court.
The Bill substitutes this provision and specifies that an Exclusive Special Court must be established at the district level to try offences under the Bill, and ensure that cases are disposed of within two months.
Appeals of these courts shall lie with the high court, and must be disposed of within three months.
the Bill adds some new features also which are:
New offences added under the Bill include: (a) garlanding with footwear, (b) compelling to dispose or carry human or animal carcasses, or do manual scavenging, (c) abusing SCs or STs by caste name in public, (d) causing physical harm on the allegation of practicing witchcraft, and (e) imposing or threatening a social or economic boycott.
The court shall presume that the accused was aware of the caste or tribal identity of the victim if the accused had personal knowledge of the victim or his family, unless the contrary is proved.
The Bill adds a chapter on the rights of victims and witness. It shall be the duty of the state to make arrangements for the protection of victims, their dependents and witnesses. The state government shall specify a scheme to ensure the implementation of rights of victims and witnesses.
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY /ENVIRONMENT
NASA’s High Altitude Venus Operational Concept (HAVOC) mission aims to explore the atmosphere of Venus instead of exploring the surface.
NASA plans to send solar-powered airships to explore Venus’ atmosphere and to eventually establish a permanent human colony in a floating cloud city above the Earth’s nearest planetary neighbor.
A helium-filled, solar-powered airship would explore the planet’s atmosphere.
Major part of pollution comes from land-based run off, oil spills, nutrients and pesticides from agriculture, wastewater, industrial effluent, untreated sewage and others.
Among the four major types of marine pollution — chemical pollution, nutrient pollution, marine debris pollution and air pollution, chemical and nutrient pollution play major role to obstruct the role of corals.
Pesticides containing persistent organic pollutant (POPs), hydrocarbons from oil tankers and heavy metals from industrial (mining, dredging) effluent cause major threat to corals.
Toxic chemicals like POPs and PAHs can destroy or damage reef communities by affecting coral’s reproduction and growth and can be bio-magnified to a critical level for the higher level animals of the
food chain making them vulnerable to this process.
Heavy metals such as copper and zinc have been linked to reduced fertilisation, fecundity and growth in adult corals.
Nutrients discharged in form of fertilisers, waste feed and other materials from aquaculture and agriculture into coastal waters which lead to the bloom of nuisance algae (eutrophication) and subsequent oxygen depletion plays a major hindrance in coral growth.
In terms of tsunami research several models were developed in which scenarios were created which will help in predicting the time of tsunami wave arrivals, their heights and inundation along the east and west coast of India in case of earthquakes occurrence in the two subduction zones in Markran, south of Pakistan in the west and Andaman and Nicobar and Sumatra in the east, identified to be sources of tsunami generation.
Next generation unmanned aerial vehicle Rustum2, which is capable of operating at an altitude of 30,000 feet and 24-hour endurance with a payload of 350 kg.
The UAV would be used for defence operations, including reconnaissance and target identification
Panchi, the wheeled version of the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) Nishant, capable of taking off from and landing on small airstrips. Panchi was designed and developed by the Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE), a Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) facility at Bengaluru.
Nishant, which has an underbelly airbag, is launched by a catapult, and lands with the help of an onboard parachute. Panchi has all the surveillance capabilities of Nishant, but it can stay in the air longer because it does not have to carry the airbag and the parachute systems of the other. It is also a light vehicle with its body made of composites, and has a high degree of stealth because it has a low radar cross-section signature
The Adaptation Fund set up in 2001 was to be financed by a share of money from the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).
Wind energy accounts for 70 per cent of the installed capacity at 22.1 GW followed by biomass power-4.2 per cent, small hydro power-3.9 GW and solar power 2.8 GW.
The 12th five year plan has projected 33 per cent installed capacity of power in 2030 from renewable energy sources. India has ambitious plans to scale up renewable energy to 165 MW, of this solar energy will be 100 GW by 2019-20. It has proposed 25 solar parks in India and 100,000 solar pumps for irrigation and drinking water.
THIRTY METRE TELESCOPE (TMT) PROJECT
The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) is a ground-based large segmented mirror reflecting telescope under construction on Mauna Kea in Hawaii. The telescope is designed for observations from near-ultraviolet to midinfrared (0.31 to 28 μmwavelengths).
In addition, its adaptive optics system will help correct for image blur caused by the atmosphere of the Earth, helping it to reach the potential of such a large mirror.
India will gain the technology to manufacture fine aspherical mirror segments from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). This technology will form the basis of the next generation of spy satellites
NASA’s Orion spacecraft is built to take humans farther than they’ve ever gone before. Orion will serve as the exploration vehicle that will carry the crew to space, provide emergency abort capability, sustain the crew during the space travel, and provide safe re-entry from deep space return velocities.
The satellite with 48 transponders, the largest ever carried by a communication spacecraft built by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), was injected into the intended Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO).
GSLV MARK III
The vehicle envisages multi-mission launch capability for GTO, LEO, Polar and intermediate circular orbits. GSLV-Mk III is designed to be a three stage vehicle, with 42.4 m tall with a lift off weight of 630 tonnes. First stage comprises two identical S200 Large Solid Booster (LSB) with 200 tonne solid propellant, that are strapped on to the second stage, the L110 re-startable liquid stage. The third stage is the C25 LOX/LH2 cryo stage.
Also known as LVM3/CARE, the suborbital experimental mission was intended to test the vehicle’s performance during the critical atmospheric phase of its flight and this carried a passive (non-functional) cryogenic upper stage.
The payload for this maiden launch was the Crew Module Atmospheric Reentry Experiment (CARE), which demonstrated the crew capsule which ISRO has been developing for its manned programme. The primary objective of CARE’s mission was to validate the reentry and recovery of the prototype spacecraft.
In its ‘Freedom on the Net 2014’ report released on Thursday, Freedom House, an independent US-based watchdog group, ranked the countries on 21 categories under three broad heads — obstacles to access, limits on content and violations of individuals’ rights. India is only “partly free” with a rank of 30 out of 65 countries in Internet freedom.
PLUTO-BOUND SPACECRAFT ENDS HIBERNATION TO START MISSION
After nine years and a journey of 4.8 billion km, NASA’s New Horizons robotic probe awoke from hibernation to begin an unprecedented mission to study the icy dwarf planet Pluto and sibling worlds in its Kuiper Belt home.
FIRST ‘GREEN DIESEL’-POWERED FLIGHT
Renewable Diesel, often called “green diesel” or “second generation diesel,” refers to petrodiesel-like fuels derived from biological sources that are chemically not esters and thus distinct from biodiesel. Renewable diesel is chemically the same as petrodiesel, but it is made of recently living biomass.
Biodiesel is produced using a transesterification process, “reacting vegetable oils or animal fats catalytically with a short-chained aliphatic alcohol (typically methanol or ethanol).” Glycerol is a by-product of this transesterification process.
A Boeing aircraft has completed the world’s first flight using ‘green diesel’, a sustainable biofuel made from vegetable oils, waste cooking oil and animal fats.
A recent report “Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation, update 2014”, by WHO and UNICEF, estimates that about 597 million people in India resort to open defecation, the highest in the world.
The technology, which uses bacteria to treat waste, was originally developed by the Defence Research Development Establishment (DRDE), Gwalior, to meet the sanitation requirements of soldiers serving in the high altitudes of Ladakh and Siachen.
The system is built to operate from minus 20 degrees to plus 50 degrees and is highly customisable as per the requirements and local conditions. The best feature is that it totally does away with manual scavenging and is low on maintenance and installation cost
MICROPLASTIC POLLUTION ENDANGERING MARINE LIFE
Microplastic particles, measuring less than 5mm in size, have been accumulating in the oceans since the 1960s and are now the most abundant form of solid-waste pollution on Earth.
Using the lugworm as an indicator species, found that worms feeding in highly contaminated ocean sediment ate less and had lower energy levels.
First time that ingesting microplastics can transfer pollutants and additives to worms, reducing health and biodiversity.
Lugworms are common invertebrates found widely found across the north Atlantic, living in burrows in the sand of beaches. They eat sand particles, digesting any micro–organisms and nutrients and passing the sand as waste through their tail, leaving a distinctive trail or “cast” on the beach. The worm can make up about 30 per cent of the biomass of an average sandy beach, making it an important source of food for wading birds and flatfish.
The “earthworms of the sea”, lugworms provide another important ecosystem service by turning over large volumes of sand, replenishing organic material and oxygenating the upper layers to keep the sediment healthy for other animals and microorganisms.
TAJ: THE POLLUTANTS CAUSING DISCOLOURATION IDENTIFIED
Particulate carbon and fine dust particles that are deposited on the marble are responsible for its browning.
Carbon is of two types — black carbon and light absorbing organic carbon or brown carbon. Both organic carbon and dust particles have the ability to preferentially absorb light in the blue region of the spectrum. The absorption of blue light by these pollutants in turn gives the marble surface a brown hue.
There is one group of organic carbon which absorbs light in the blue region of the spectrum and this is called brown carbon. Discolouration is because of what is happening to reflectance, and reflectance is in turn influenced by these particles.
It is the presence of haematite in the dust that is responsible for the brown hue. If haematite is not present in the dust then the dust would be only scattering in nature. Haematite is the ingredient that absorbs the blue wavelength of the spectrum.
Critically endangered ape species that lives only in the rainforests of southern China’s Hainan Island.
Hainan is China’s smallest and southernmost province, an island of rainforests, mountains and sandy beaches in the South China Sea.
NASA’s planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft, which is carrying out a new mission has made its first exoplanet discovery — a ‘super-Earth’ located 180 light-years from Earth.
An exoplanet or extra solar planet is a planet that does not orbit the Sun and instead orbits a different star, stellar remnant, or brown dwarf. More than 1800 exoplanets have been discovered.
First new garlic variety Agrifound Parvati-2 recommended for cultivation in Jammu & Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh.
It is tolerant to stemphylium blight, purple blotch and environmental stress conditions. Right season for planting in hills is August-September.
Japanese space explorer was launched on a six-year roundtrip journey to blow a crater in a remote asteroid and collect samples from inside in hopes of gathering clues to the origin of earth.
The explorer is expected to reach the asteroid in 2018 and spend about 18 months studying it before returning in 2020.
The Glonass satellites’ designs have undergone several upgrades, with the latest version being Glonass-K.
The Glonass-K marks a substantial improvement over the previous Glonass-M second-generation satellites, having a longer lifespan and better accuracy.
INTEGRATED MONITORING OF TERRORISM (I-MOT)
A software Terrorist Information System, now called Integrated Monitoring of Terrorism (i-MOT), has been developed by the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) to have a mechanism for creation and maintenance of a centralized data base on terrorist incidents including terrorist financing cases.
IMPACTS ON MARINE LIFE DUE TO OIL SPILL
Ingestion: The ingestion of the oil by the seabirds and sea mammals causes Kidney Failure, dehydration and other metabolic disorders.
Furs: The furs of the marine animals are affected badly.
Plumage: The most important impact of the oil spills on the sea organisms is on the plumage of the birds
Photosynthesis: The oil floats on the top of the water and this reduces the penetration of sunlight in the sea water.
NATIONAL GREEN TRIBUNAL (NGT)
A customised low-cost combination phone and tablet computer called ‘GreenPHABLET powered by the GreenSIM’ was launched by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT).
The GreenPHABLET will allow information to be precisely targeted to individual smallholder farmers. This will help farmers purchase inputs at lower price, get a better price for their produce, and link them to markets, thus putting them on the path to prosperity.
The GreenSIM is a special SIM card that can be used with any mobile phone. The GreenSIM was created under partnership between ICRISAT, mobile phone service provider Airtel, and the IFFCO (Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative) Kisan Sanchar Limited (IKSL).
‘White-Fi’ technology that uses the unused spectrum in frequencies used for broadcasting of television signals, and is likely to offer solution to tackle the problem of last mile broadband connectivity in the country.
PLANT PROTECTION CODE
Plant Protection Code (PPC) is a set of guidelines for regulating the chemical inputs in tea cultivation. The aim is to make Indian tea a safe and healthy drink.
Coral bleaching is the loss of intracellular endosymbionts (Symbiodinium, also known as zooxanthellae) through either expulsion or loss of algal pigmentation. When corals are stressed by changes in conditions such as temperature, light, or nutrients, they expel the symbiotic algae living in their tissues, causing them to turn completely white.
A number of biotic and abiotic factors that lead to coral bleaching are listed below
Increased (most commonly), or reduced water temperatures: The warm water prompts algae inside the coral to leave, which starves coral and turns it white.
Oxygen starvation caused by an increase in zooplankton levels as a result of overfishing.
Increased solar irradiance (Photosynthetically Active Radiation and ultraviolet band light).
Changes in water chemistry (in particular acidification).
Increased sedimentation (due to silt runoff).
Changes in salinity.
Tropical forests absorb 1.4 billion metric tonnes of carbon dioxide out of a total global absorption of 2.5 billion more than what is absorbed by forests in Canada, Siberia and other northern regions, called boreal forests
INDIA-BASED NEUTRINO OBSERVATORY (INO)
Neutrinos are one of the fundamental particles which make up the universe. Neutrinos are similar to the electron, with one crucial difference: neutrinos do not carry electric charge.
Tiny electrically neutral particles
cannot be broken into further smaller pieces
Chargeless and are almost massless
second most abundant particle in the universe after photon
The INO is set to come up on the hills near Thevaram in Theni district and will have a 50,000-tonne magnetic detector to study neutrinos that are significant in particle physics.
SPACE PIONEER AWARD
India’s Mars Orbiter programme team has won the 2015 Space Pioneer Award in the science and engineering category from the US based National Space Society (NSS).
iRIDS (Intelligent Red Light Violation Identification System), developed by the Centre for Development of
Advanced Computing (C-DAC), is a state-of-the-art device that captures images and videos of red light violations with the help of vehicle sensors, cameras, and controller hardware installed at busy road intersections.
Prime Minister launched a scheme for Light Emitting Diode (LED) bulbs distribution under the Domestic Efficient Lighting Programme (DELP) in Delhi.
GORUMARA NATIONAL PARK
Gorumara National Park (WB), one of the smallest national parks in India, has turned out be a safe haven for butterflies.
Species of butterflies
1. The Bicolour Cupid -Schedule I the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972
2. The Malayan Nawab- Schedule I the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972
3. The Witch- Schedule II the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972
4. The Branded Young Fly- Schedule II the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972
WILDLIFE PROTECTION ACT, 1972
The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted for protection of plants and animal species. The Act provides for the protection of wild animals, birds and plants; and for matters connected therewith or ancillary or incidental thereto. It extends to the whole of India, except the State of Jammu and Kashmir which has its own wildlife act.
It has six schedules which give varying degrees of protection.
• Schedule I and part II of Schedule II provide absolute protection – offences under these are prescribed the highest penalties.
• Species listed in Schedule III and Schedule IV are also protected, but the penalties are much lower.
• Schedule V includes the animals which may be hunted.
• The plants in Schedule VI are prohibited from cultivation and planting.
The Goldilocks region is an area of space in which a planet is just the right distance from its home star so that its surface is neither too hot nor too cold.
To be considered habitable, exoplanets must orbit within a distance of their stars in which liquid water can exist on the planet’s surface, receiving about as much sunlight as Earth.
Forest owlet, a critically endangered species, has been sighted in Madhya Pradesh’s Betul district.
CHARACTERISTICS OF FOREST OWLET
Critically endangered species.
Small bird (23 cm – length).
Endemic to central Indian forests was said to be extinct in the wild but was rediscovered in 1997.
Distribution: Central Indian forests.
BLACK-HEADED SQUIRREL MONKEYS
The black squirrel monkey (Saimirivanzolinii), also known as the blackish squirrel monkey or black-headed squirrel monkey, is a small New World primate, endemic to the central Amazon in Brazil.
The black-headed squirrel monkey is a distinct species found in South America. The scientists from the University of California — Los Angeles (UCLA) in the US and six other countries used genetic and statistical analysis to find that.
This group of monkeys split from its sister group, called Saimiriustus, about 500,000 years ago.
It formed a group called Saimiriboliviensis approximately 1.3 million years ago.
Beagle 2 is a British landing spacecraft that formed part of the European Space Agency’s 2003 Mars
India now has 70 per cent of the tiger population in the world with the latest assessment estimating 2,226 big cats, up 30 per cent from 1,706 in 2010, show preliminary estimates in “Status of Tigers in India, 2014.”
The largest increase is recorded in the Western Ghats Landscape complex — Kerala, Karnataka, Goa and Tamil Nadu — with 776 tigers (up from 402 in 2006).
The Mudumalai-Bandipur-Nagarahole-Wayanad complex holds the world’s single largest tiger population currently estimated at over 570 tigers (in 11,000 sq.km of habitat).
Goa now has a persistent tiger presence with three to five animals.
Uttarakhand with 340 tigers is second only to Karnataka, which has 406.
The Periyar Tiger Reserve spread over 925 sq.km. in Kerala, bagged the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) biennial award for encouraging local public participation in managing the reserve.
SOLAR DYNAMICS OBSERVATORY (SDO)
The Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) is a NASA mission which has been observing the Sun since
2010. Launched on February 11, 2010, the observatory is part of the Living With a Star (LWS) program.
The goal of the SDO is
To understand the influence of the Sun on the Earth and near-Earth space by studying the solar atmosphere on small scales of space and time and in many wavelengths simultaneously.
During its five—year mission, it will examine the sun’s magnetic field and also provide a better understanding of the role the sun plays in Earth’s atmospheric chemistry and climate.
Penghu 1 is a fossil jaw belonging to an extinct homin in species of the genus Homo from Taiwan that
is Pleistocene in age. The fossil was recovered sometime before 2008 by fishermen working in the Penghu Channel – between the Penghu Islands and mainland Taiwan.
Ceres is a dwarf planet located in the asteroid belt, which lies between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. It was originally classified as a true planet in the 1800s, then demoted to an asteroid and finally in 2006 promoted again as a “dwarf planet” — a status it now shares with Pluto. At 950 km diameter Ceres is the smallest known dwarf planet, but the largest object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft has sent back a picture of Ceres taken from a distance of 237,000 km.
Dawn will enter into Ceres’ orbit on March 6 to capture detailed images and measure variations in reflected light to get insights into the planet’s surface composition.
Dawn will be the first spacecraft to visit any dwarf planet
Agni-V is an intercontinental ballistic missile developed by the Defence Research and Development
Organisation (DRDO) of India. Agni-V is capable of delivering a 1.1 nuclear warhead over a distance of 5,000 km and the range of missile can cover most parts of China and Europe. Inter- Continental Ballistic Missile and the first canister trial done.
The new compound, christened CASPOL, is a water-based, ready-to-coat, and easy-to-use flame-proof coating.
It has flame-retardant and thermal-control properties.
It can be applied on walls, clothes, paper, thatched roofs, wood, and other materials.
The new compound contains no toxic materials and is eco-friendly.
A litre of Caspol can coat 1.5 sq meter of surface with a thickness of 500 micron, which is practically
adequate for fire protection and thermal insulation.
It is developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to protect the fuel tanks of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle.
Scientists at the Centre for Medicinal Plants Research, Arya Vaidya Sala, Kottakkal, have reported the discovery of a rare plant species from the Dhoni hills in Palakkad district. Named Chlorophytumpalghatense, after the place of discovery.
NEAR FIELD COMMUNICATION
What it is: It is a technology which enables smart phones and other devices to establish radio communication with each other by touching them together or bringing them into proximity.
NFC standards are based on existing radio-frequency identification (RFID) standards.
Distance between the objects which are communicating: 10 cm (3.9 in) or less
USES: contactless payments, social networking to share data with each other such as phone number, images etc., Identity cards, access tokens.
K. KASTURIRANGAN PANEL’S REPORT ON CONSERVATION OF THE WESTERN GHATS
There should be a complete ban on mining, quarrying, sand mining, thermal power plants, big township projects in ESA (37% of Western Ghats)
All other infrastructure and development projects/schemes should be subject to environment clearance under EIA Notification 2006.
The villages falling under ESA will be involved in decision making on the future projects. All projects will require prior-informed consent and no objection from the Gram Sabha of the village.
To promote sustainable agriculture, it recommends a focused programme to incentivize growers in the Western Ghats to move towards organic cultivation.
All tourism hotspots in the Ecologically Sensitive Area should be monitored for compliance with environmental conditions and development restrictions and assessed in terms of impact.
CRITICISMS OF THE K. KASTURIRANGANPANELS REPORT
The entire report was based on satellite images, which had little resemblance to ground realities.
The proposal to declare 37 percent of the Western Ghats as ESA has raised fears of relocation among local communities, although the report only recommends banning activities such as mining and thermal plants in these areas.
Critic says that Kasturirangan Committee permitted mining and quarrying in 63 per cent area (as only 63% area is under ESA) which will open the ecologically sensitive areas of Western Ghats to mindless exploitation which would seriously hazard ecology.
According to Madhav Gadgil, Kasturirangan report on Western Ghats replaced the pro-people and pronature attitude of the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel report with an autocratic approach in terms of development and ecological conservation
India’s first ‘air quality’ Mobile App, SAFARAir, was launched at the Indian Institute of Tropical
Meteorology in Pune. The application, developed by scientists at IITM, will enable citizens to check their city’s air quality in real time. The first mobile application service in India to provide a current and advanced forecast for air quality.
CENTRE FOR SCIENCE AND ENVIRONMENT’S (CSE) GREEN RATING PROJECT
India’s first ever environmental rating of coalbased power plants finds the sector’s performance to be way below global benchmarks.
IMPORTANT FINDINGS OF REPORT
Average CO2 emission was 1.08 kg/kWh, 14 per cent higher than China’s.
India’s thermal power plants are estimated to withdraw around 22 billion cubic metre of water, which is over half of India’s domestic water need.
Fly ash disposal remains a major problem. Presently, only about 50-60per cent of the 170 million odd tonne of fly ash generated by the sector is “utilised”; the remaining is dumped into poorly designed and maintained ash ponds.
Ash slurry, which has toxic heavy metals, was found in river and reservoirs of 20 plants.
A sinkhole is a depression or hole in the ground caused by some form of collapse of the surface layer. Sinkholes usually form in soils characterised by rocks of gypsum or dolomite or limestone which melt in water available in the sub surface channels, leading to a sudden collapse.
HUMAN ACTIVITIES THAT LEADS TO SINKHOLES FORMATION
Overexploitation of groundwater: The intensity of drawing ground water through a string of agriculture
borewells was high in the vicinity of the river, where there were a number of sweet lime orchards.
No recharge of the water table in the absence of good rains
Diverting surface water from a large area and concentrating it in a single point
Artificially creating ponds of surface water Drilling new water wells
AN ALTERNATIVE TO SYRINGES FOR DRUG DELIVERY
Scientists at the Indian Institute of Science have successfully tested an alternative to syringes for drug delivery. They have designed a capsule loaded with medicine that is triggered by microshock waves.
HOW IT WORKS
The researchers designed tiny biocapsules made of a polymer (spermidinedextran sulfate or Sper–DS).
The capsules are so small that 10 of the biggest ones could be placed in a length of one millimetre.
The capsules are loaded with either insulin or the antibiotic ciprofloxacin.
They are then placed on the infection site — for instance, external diabetic wounds — and are triggered by microshock waves produced by a handheld machine.
Infections by bacteria such as Staphylococcus (cause of foot infections that people living with diabetes are susceptible to) are lethal as they form a biofilm around the protein in the cell. The shock waves tear this biofilm and aid the treatment
NEW DELHI SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT SUMMIT
The 15th Sustainable Development Summit was held at Delhi. The summit was organised by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) with its theme being Sustainable Development Goals and Dealing with Climate Change.
The international development agenda ahead of the UN summit on Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) was discussed and the members formulated ideas to promote sustainable growth and prosperity globally.
Environmental issues like climate change, global warming, environmental pollution and find ways to prevent environmental degradation was discussed.
Issues like the mitigation in energy supply sector, generating financing for projects focusing on sustainable and holistic growth, educating the youth about sustainable development were also raised during the summit.
SUSTAINABLE ENERGY FOR ALL (SE4ALL)
Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) is a global initiative co-chaired by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and World Bank President Jim Kim.
SE4ALL seeks to achieve, by 2030, universal access to electricity and modern cooking fuels, a doubling in the rate of improvement of energy efficiency and a doubling of the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.
Current proposals for the post2015 Sustainable Development Goals also include a goal on energy to “Ensure access to affordable, reliable and sustainable energy for all” that is closely related to the SE4ALL objectives.
INCREASE IN FOREST COVER
A study conducted by the Forest Survey of India points out the increase of 5,871 sq km forest cover in India.
In West Bengal’s forest cover has increased by 3,810 sq km, followed by Odisha where increase in forest cover has been 1,444 km and Kerala where the increase has been about 622 sq km.
REASONS FOR THE INCREASE IN COVER
The participation of the local people
Coppice growth (dense growth of small tress).
Afforestation inside the forests.
Growth of commercial plantations and shade trees in tea gardens.
Britain became the first country to allow a “threeparent” IVF technique which doctors say will prevent some inherited incurable diseases.
The treatment is known as “threeparent” in vitro fertilisation (IVF) because the babies, born from genetically modified embryos, would have DNA from a mother, a father and from a female donor.
Mitochondrial DNA (mDNA) is passed through the mother and mitochondrial diseases cause symptoms ranging from poor vision to diabetes and muscle wasting.
WHAT ARE MITOCHONDRIA?
Mitochondria are tiny organelles found in almost every cell in the body.
They are known as the “powerhouse of the cell.”
They are responsible for creating more than 90 percent of cellular energy.
They are necessary in the body to sustain life and support growth.
They are composed of tiny packages of enzymes that turn nutrients into cellular energy.
Mitochondrial failure causes cell injury that leads to cell death. When multiple organ cells die there is organ failure.
WHAT IS MITOCHONDRIAL DISEASE?
Mitochondrial disease is a chronic, genetic disorder that occurs when the mitochondria of the cell fail to produce enough energy for cell or organ function.
Mitochondrial diseases are sometimes (about 15% of the time) caused by mutations in the mitochondrial DNA (mDNA) that affect mitochondrial function.
Mitochondrial DNA: Mitochondrial DNA is separate from DNA found in the cell nucleus and does not affect human characteristics such as hair or eye colour, appearance or personality traits
SUPERIOR WATER FILTER
The membrane is produced by mixing two polymers — poly (vinylidene fluoride) (PVDF) and poly(methyl
methacrylate) (PMMA) .
To improve efficiency and to kill the bacteria, they mixed silver, titanium dioxide and carbon nanotubes to the PVDFPMMA mixture. The three nanoparticles serve two important purposes.
First, the nanoparticles promote PVDF crystallisation at a much faster rate. As a result of faster
crystallisation, defective crystals are developed.
The second advantage of silver, titanium dioxide and carbon nanotubes that are embedded on membrane is their ability to kill E. coli bacteria. Silver leaches in water and when the ions soreleased kill the bacteria by destroying the integrity of the cell and by damaging the cell proteins
and terminating the DNA replication.
Titanium dioxide also kills the bacteria. Though its antibacterial property is best in the presence of
UV light, the present study did not use UV light.
Carbon nanotubes kill the bacteria through direct physical contact — the roughness of the
nanotubes kills the bacteria.
Spectrum means a band of frequencies of electromagnetic waves also called as radio waves. Electromagnetic
waves range from extremely low frequency to gamma rays. This includes radio waves used for communication and broadcasting purposes including satellite communications, visible region light, infrared and ultraviolet rays, Xrays and gamma rays.
Radio waves are used for communication and broadcasting. For example, FM transmissions use the frequencies from 88MHz to 108 MHz, satellite communications use 4000-6000 MHz and 11000-14000 MHz generally and so on. Mobile service providers also use the radio waves normally in the range of 900-1800
Two operators cannot use the same frequency in the same region as there will be interference between each other and both the services will get affected.
Same frequencies can be used at two different places separated by sufficient distance so that there will not be any interference. This is called space diversity.
The number of voice channels that can be supported depends on the bandwidth of the frequency spectrum allocated. Higher the bandwidth, more the number of channels that can be accommodated.
This radio frequency spectrum is a limited resource and different services are allocated different frequencies.
NATIONAL DEWORMING INITIATIVE
Aim: To protect more than 24 crore children in the ages of 1-19 years from intestinal worms.
PARASITIC INTESTINAL WORMS (SOIL TRANSMITTED HELMINTHS) INFECTION:
There are three types of soil transmitted helminths that infect people: round worm, whip worm and hookworms.
Parasitic worms in small children interfere with nutrient uptake. As a result they can cause severe complications for them resulting in anemia, micronutrient deficiencies.
Infections of heavy intensity impair physical growth and cognitive development.
It may lead to poor school performance, cognitive development and absenteeism in children.
Treatment: Albendazole tablets
On National Deworming Day on 10th February 2015.
R V SAMUDRARATNAKAR
What it is:
It is a Geological Survey of India (GSI)’s state of the art research ship.
It will search for gas hydrates below the seabed off the east coast and off Kanyakumari.
The ship is equipped with high-end technologically advanced instruments needed for geological, geophysical and geochemical explorations in the offshore areas.
RV Samudra Ratnakar is fitted to perform seabed mapping, deepwater mineral exploration and geoscientific explorations, such as multichannel seismic survey, gravity survey, magnetic survey, deep sea imaging within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of India, as well as international waters.
How it finds gas hydrates: It sends high-energy sound waves deep into the seabed and recording the waves that echo back through hundreds of hydro phones (which detect the echos) laid on the surface of the sea.
Natural gas hydrates are solids that form from a combination of water and one or more hydrocarbon (methane, ethane, propane, etc.) or nonhydrocarbon gases. In physical appearance, gas hydrates resemble packed snow or ice. In a gas hydrate, the gas molecules are caged within a crystal structure composed of water molecules.
Marine shelf sediments.
In deep lake sediments (e.g.Lake Baikal).
In the polar permafrost regions.
The amount of methane potentially trapped in natural methane hydrate deposits may be significant
(1015 to 1017 cubic metres), which makes them of major interest as a potential energy resource
SOIL HEALTH CARD SCHEME
Under the scheme farmers will be given Soil health cards which provide them with information about soils and the kind of crops to be grown in various regions, amount and type of fertilizer to be used.
100 mobile testing laboratories across India
Central Government provides assistance to State Governments for setting up Soil Testing Laboratories for issuing Soil Health Cards to farmers.
Aim: checking unbalanced use of fertilizers and improving farm productivity.
Target: 14 crore soil health cards to be issued next in 3 years.
Indian Institute of Soil Science, Bhopal, a research institute of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), has developed Mridaparikshak, a MINILAB that can determine soil health.
It has a soil test kit to provide soil testing service at farmers’ doorsteps.
Mridaparikshak determines all the important soil parameters i.e. soil pH, EC, organic carbon, available nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, sulphur and micronutrients like zinc, boron and iron.
It also provides crop and soil specific fertilizer recommendations directly to farmer’s mobile through SMS.
It is highly compatible with soil health card.
It can be operated by young educated farmers/rural youths (11-12Pass) with short training.
JAN AUSHADHI SCHEME
What it is:
It is a scheme of government of India. In this less priced quality unbranded generic medicines will be made
available through Jan Aushadhi stores which are less priced but are of same and equivalent quality, efficacy and safety as compared to branded generic medicines.
The Bureau of Pharma Public Sector Undertakings of India (BPPI) under Department of Pharmaceuticals, Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers has been selling quality generic medicines at affordable prices in the name of Jan Aushadhi medicines since 2008. The scheme is being revisited by expanding medicines basket.
Objective: The aim of this scheme is to make available quality medicines at affordable prices for all, especially the poor and the disadvantaged.
eBiz portal is a government to business (G2B) portal to improve India’s ranking in the ease of doing business.
The eBiz platform, make service delivery more efficient by changing approach from being department-centric to customer-centric as a single window portal.
eBiz is one of the integrated services projects and part of the 27 Mission Mode Projects (MMPs) under the National EGovernance Plan (NEGP) of the Government of India.
Mars One is a notforprofit organization based in the Netherlands that has put forward plans to land the first humans onto Mars and establish a permanent human colony there by 2025
INDIA HOME TO 18% OF RAPTORS
THE PRESENCE OF RAPTORS IN THE WILD SERVES AS A
Barometer for ecological health.
Important ecological role by keeping the balance.
Controls the population of rodents and other small mammals
IUCN RED LIST
Among these raptors, the Indian Whitebacked Vulture, the Long Billed Vulture, the Slender Billed Vulture, the Red headed Vulture and the Forest Owlet are in the ‘critically endangered’ category.
The Egyptian Vulture and the Saker are in the ‘endangered’ list of the International Union for
Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) ‘Red List.
SCOPE 1, 2 AND 3 EMISSIONS TYPES
At the very basic level, carbon emissions are classified into Direct and Indirect emissions. The Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG Protocol) defines them as follows:
Direct GHG emissions are emissions from sources that are owned or controlled by the reporting entity.
Indirect GHG emissions are emissions that are a consequence of the activities of the reporting entity, but occur at sources owned or controlled by another entity.
These direct and indirect emissions are further categorized into three broad scopes, based on sources of emissions, that help establish conceivably emissions reduction goals— Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions type.
Scope 1: All direct GHG emissions.
Scope 2: Indirect GHG emissions from consumption of purchased electricity, heat or steam.
Scope 3: Other indirect emissions, such as the extraction and production of purchased materials and fuels, transportrelated activities in vehicles not owned or controlled by the reporting entity, electricity-related activities (e.g. T&D losses) not covered in Scope 2, outsourced activities, waste disposal, etc.
OCEAN AS CARBON SINK
Oceans are at present CO2 sinks, and represent the largest active carbon sink on Earth, absorbing more than a quarter of the carbon dioxide that humans put into the air. On longer timescales they may be both sources and sinks.
The atmospheric CO2 enters the ocean through steady exchange at surface. This is a physico-chemical process. The difference in partial pressure of the CO2between seawater and air facilitate gaseous exchange. The diffusion takes place until the partial pressures across the air-water interface are equilibrated.
Microscopic photosynthetic phytoplankton utilizes CO2 during photosynthesis. The biological pump transfers carbon dioxide from the surface of the ocean to the deep sea.
CO2 reacts with seawater to form dissolved inorganic carbon, dissolved free Carbon dioxide .Carbonic Acid, Bicarbonate and Carbonate.
The pH of seawater is regulated by the bicarbonate and carbonate concentrations.
Marine organisms combine calcium and carbonate ions in the calcification process and manufacture calcareous material. As the organisms die, the skeletal material sinks and buried in sediments.
A carbon sink is a natural or artificial reservoir that accumulates and stores some carbon-containing chemical compound for an indefinite period. The process by which carbon sinks remove carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere is known as carbon sequestration.
THREE NEW CORALS REEFS FOUND ON THE SINDHUDURG COAST
The Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) has found three new records of coral reef on the Sindhudurg coast near Malvan of Maharashtra during a recent survey.
Three new coral reefs namely Goniatsreasp, Poritessp and Turbinariasp have been found in the survey conducted by ZSI (Zoological Survey of India).
Unlike the reefs found in other parts of the country — Gulf of Mannar, Gulf of Kutch, Lakshadweep and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands — those in Malvan are still unbleached.
This is a value-added attraction and it would boost tourism in the area and adventure tourism would grow further in its surrounding areas.
RHINO’S POPULATION IS RISING IN WEST BENGAL
West Bengal is now home to the second highest population of the one-horned rhinoceros in the country after Assam, with the number growing to 250 in the State.
The Jaldapara National Park in the State has nearly 200 of these endangered animals and the Gorumara National Park, 50.
Jaldapara now has the second highest population of them after the Kaziranga National Park in Assam, which has over 2,000.
Rhino population has a skewed male-female ratio — 2:1.4 in Gorumara.
Reason of Poaching: Illegal rhino horn trade has been the main problem facing managers of the rhino-protected areas of Assam. Some other parts like nails, skins have very high value in Asian traditional medicinal market.
EXTENT OF RHINO’S IN INDIA:
Northern Uttar Pradesh, northernBihar, northern Bengal, and in the Brahmaputra Valley of Assam.
Kaziranga National Park, Pobitora in Marigaon district and Orang National Park in Darrang district of Assam account almost 95% of the total wild one horned rhino in the world.
NEW BUTTERFLY SPECIES
Wildlife enthusiasts have found the Malayan Green Banded Peacock (Papiliopalinurus), a beautiful specimen found in South East Asia, for the first time in India.
The butterfly is found in southern Myanmar and peninsular Thailand south-eastward into Borneo and the Philippines.
While there are about 600 known species of butterflies in West Bengal, India is home to about 1,500 species of butterflies.
West Bengal is probably the only State which is home to a wide variety of peacock butterflies such as the rare Krishna Peacock, Blue Peacock, the relatively common Paris Peacock, Common Peacock and Common Banded Peacock.
The only other Peacock butterfly found in the country is Buddha Peacock or Malabar Banded Peacock, which is endemic to south India.
PRAGATI (PRO-ACTIVE GOVERNANCE AND TIMELY IMPLEMENTATION)
This is a platform which aimed at addressing common man’s grievances, and simultaneously monitoring and reviewing important programmes and projects of the Government of India as well as projects flagged by State Governments.
Multi-purpose and multi-modal platform
Unique integrating and interactive platform
This platform will fulfill three objectives – : Grievance Redressal, Programme Implementation and Project Monitoring. This is an IT-based redressal and monitoring system.
It uniquely bundles three latest technologies: Digital data management, video-conferencing and geospatial technology.
With this, the Prime Minister is able to discuss the issues with the concerned Central and State officials with full information and latest visuals of the ground level situation.
AWACS (AIRBORNE WARNING AND CONTROL SYSTEMS)
Government approved the development of 2 indigenous Airborne Warning and Control Systems
(AWACS) (based on the A-330 aircraft) by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
Currently, the DRDO is developing two smaller Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C), scheduled to be delivered this year.
Three AWACS already stand operationalised in the Indian Air Force (IAF).
It is described as an eye-in-the-sky.
It can detect incoming fighter jets and missiles.
It can keep an eye on troop’s movement across the border.
It enables military commanders to take quicker decisions to counter the enemy’s military activities on time.
THREE IMMEDIATE SUPPORT VESSELS (ISVS) COMMISSIONED IN NAVY
The second batch of ISVs – IN ISV T38, IN ISV T39 and IN ISV T40 were commissioned. Now the Eastern
Naval Command has its full complement of six ISVs.
This project of making 6 ISVs was a joint collaboration between Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), the ship builders and the Navy.
USES OF ISVS
The ISVs are armed with Heavy Machine Guns (HMGs) and are fitted with state-of-the-art radar and navigation equipment.
These ships are capable of carrying out day and night surveillance.
They can be used for rapid insertions and extraction of MARCOS (Marine Commandos) for military intervention.
Supersonic speed (1.2 Mach to 1.4 Mach)
Beyond Visual Range (Up to 110 km depends on the altitude at the time of launching)
Can be launched from different altitudes
STOCKHOLM WATER PRIZE
Eminent environment activist Rajendra Singh (known as waterman of India), has been conferred the prestigious Stockholm Water Prize.
He uses a modern version of the ancient Indian technique of rainwater harvesting.
It involves building low-level banks of earth to hold back the flow of water in the wet season and allow water to seep into the ground for future use.
STOCKHOLM WATER PRIZE
The Stockholm Water Prize is a global award founded in 1991 and presented annually by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) to an individual, organisation or institution for outstanding waterrelated achievements.
The Stockholm Water Prize Laureate receives USD 150,000 and a specially designed sculpture.
DIGILOCKER (launch by the Department of Electronics and Information Technology, under the Ministry of Communications and IT)
DigiLocker, the digital locker system launched by the government to securely store documents online, has received good response since its beta launch last month. The locker can be accessed by individuals, using their number.
It is a dedicated personal storage space, linked to each resident’s Aadhaar number.
DigiLocker can be used to securely store e-documents as well as store Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) link of e-documents issued by various issuer departments.
It has an e-Sign facility which is provided as part of DigiLocker system can be used to digitally sign edocuments.
The users can store their documents such as insurance, medical reports, PAN card, passport, marriage certificate, school certificate and other documents in the digital format.
10MB of free space in the locker to securely store resident documents and store links (URI) of Govt. department or agency issued e-documents. The storage space allocation will be increased to 1GB in subsequent release.
RECYCLE THE BULB
A compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) is a fluorescent lamp designed to replace an incandescent lamp.
Compared to general-service incandescent lamps giving the same amount of visible light, CFLs use one-fifth to one-third the electric power, and last eight to fifteen times longer.
A CFL has a higher purchase price than an incandescent lamp, but can save over five times its purchase price in electricity costs over the lamp’s lifetime.
Like all fluorescent lamps, CFLs contain toxic mercury which complicates their disposal.
SOLAR POWER STATION IN SPACE
Space Solar Power gathers energy from sunlight in space and transmits it wirelessly to Earth. Space solar power can solve our energy and greenhouse gas emissions problems. The solar energy available in space is literally billions of times greater than we use today.
ADVANTAGES OF SPACE SOLAR POWER
Unlike oil, gas, ethanol, and coal plants, space solar power does not emit greenhouse gases.
Unlike terrestrial solar and wind power plants, space solar power is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in huge quantities. It works regardless of cloud cover, daylight, or wind speed.
Space solar power will provide true energy independence for the nations that develop it, eliminating a major source of national competition for limited Earth-based energy resources.
Space solar power can be exported to virtually any place in the world, and its energy can be converted for local needs — such as manufacture of methanol for use in places like rural India where there are no electric power grids. Space solar power can also be used for desalination of sea water.
CLIMATE CHANGE MATTER NOT UNDER NGTJURISDICTION
The Ministry of Environment and Forest has told National Green Tribunal that it does not have the
jurisdiction to hear matters relating to climate change as it was covered under international protocols.
According to Section 14 of the NGT Act, the Tribunal has the jurisdiction over all civil cases where a substantial question relating to environment is involved. Such questions arise out of implementation of enactments specified in Schedule 1 of the Act. The seven enactments specified in Schedule 1 to the NGT Act are –
The Water Act,
The Water Cess Act,
The Forest (Conservation) Act,
The Air (Preventon and Control of Pollution Act) ,
The Environment Protection Act,
Public Liability Insurance Act and
The Biological Diversity Act.
SENDAI FRAMEWORK FOR DISASTER RISK REDUCTION
The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (2015-2030) was an outcome of the 2015 conference held in Sendai, Japan. The Sendai Framework sets four specific priorities for action:
Understanding disaster risk;
Strengthening disaster risk governance to manage disaster risk;
Investing in disaster risk reduction for resilience;
Enhancing disaster preparedness for effective response, and to “Build Back Better” in recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction.
To support the assessment of global progress in achieving the outcome and goal of the Sendai Framework, seven global targets have been agreed:
Substantially reduce global disaster mortality by 2030, aiming to lower average per 100,000 global mortality between 2020-2030 compared to 2005-2015;
Substantially reduce the number of affected people globally by 2030, aiming to lower the average global figure per 100,000 between 2020-2030 compared to 2005-2015;
Reduce direct disaster economic loss in relation to global gross domestic product by 2030;
Substantially reduce disaster damage to critical infrastructure and disruption of basic services, among them health and educational facilities, including through developing their resilience by 2030;
Substantially increase the number of countries with national and local disaster risk reduction strategies by 2020;
Substantially enhance international cooperation to developing countries through adequate and
sustainable support to complement their national actions for implementation of the framework by 2030;
Substantially increase the availability of and access to multi-hazard early warning systems and disaster risk information and assessments to the people by 2030.
HYOGO FRAMEWORK FOR ACTION
The Hyogo Framework for Action (2005–2015) was an outcome of the 2005 conference held in Kobe, Japan. The
HFA, which ran from 2005 to 2015, set five specific priorities for action:
Making disaster risk reduction a priority;
Improving risk information and early warning;
Building a culture of safety and resilience;
Reducing the risks in key sectors;
Strengthening preparedness for response.
MARS ORBITER MISSION (MOM)
The Mars Orbiter completed half a year around the Red Planet on 24th March .The orbiter has been designed for six months of work.
MOM will go through a 15-day “blackout” or eclipsed period from June 8 to 22. Communication with earth will be snapped as sun will block the planet from Mars and MOM.
During this period, the orbiter must take its own decisions in an autonomous mode and will consume more fuel. How much longer it will last and with how much fuel will be left will depend on this phase.
The Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) Mars Orbiter Mission was extended for another six months to further explore the Red Planet and its atmosphere.
As the 1,340 kg Mars Orbiter has sufficient fuel (37 kg) to last longer than it was intended earlier, its mission has been extended for another six months.
The Defence Acquisition Council has approved the ‘Maitri’ project for the co-development of a Short Range Surface-to-Air Missile (SR-SAM) by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) with MBDA of France.
The project has been in the works since 2007 to meet the requirements of the Army and the Air Force.
KEY ISSUES WITH RENEWABLE POWER GENERATION
Regional Concentration of Renewable Energy Potential
Insufficiency and High cost of Evacuation Infrastructure
Low Penetration of Renewables for Urban and Industrial Applications
Policy Interventions to Incentivize Creation of Financeable Business Models for Off-grid Renewable Sector
12TH PLAN STRATEGY FOR RENEWABLE ENERGY
1. Off-grid Renewable Energy for rural applications
2. Grid interaction and grid parity to be achieved.
3. National Bioenergy Mission(NBM)
Successful model in Bihar: Off grid renewable models based on biomass.
Attract investment to make the mission sustainable.
4. National Biomass Cook Stove programme(NBCSP)
Leveraging PPP in exploring a range of technology deployments, biomass processing, and delivery models.
5. National Bioenergy Corp of India
It should be established to implement NBM and NBCSP.
6. Renewable Energy Development Fund
To address financing constraints for grid connected as well as the off-grid applications of renewable, REDF should be set aside
BARRIERS TO HYDROPOWER DEVELOPMENT
Land Acquisition and Safeguard Issues
Lack of Enabling Infrastructure
SOLAR POWER INITIATIVES
JN National Solar Mission: A part of NAPCC, it aims to generate 20 GW solar electricity by 2022 in 3 phases. The new government at the centre has revised the target to 100 GW from 20 GW.
Ultra Mega Green Solar Power Project: Plan to install world’s largest solar plant with 4 GW capacity near Sambhar lake, Rajasthan by 2010.
Clean Energy Fund: To encourage private solar companies by reducing custom duty on solar panels by 5% and exempting excise duty on SPV.
Renewable Energy Certificate
70% Subsidy on installation of SPV power plant in NE States and 30% in other regions.
100% FDI allowed for renewable energy generation, distribution, and manufacturing projects.
Desert Power India
Salijeepali in Andhra: 1st village where entire electrification was done with solar power.
Solar Pond at Bhuj in Kutchh
The “grid” amounts to the networks that carry electricity from the plants where it is generated to consumers.
The grid includes wires, substations, transformers, switches and much more. Much in the way that a “smart” phone these days means a phone with a computer in it, smart grid means “computerizing” the electric utility grid. It includes adding two-way digital communication technology to devices associated with the grid. Each device on the network can be given sensors to gather data (power meters, voltage sensors, fault detectors, etc.), plus two-way digital communication between the device in the field and the utility’s network operations center. A key feature of the smart grid is automation technology that lets the utility adjust and control each individual device or millions of devices from a central location.
HIGH LEVEL EXPERT GROUP ON UNIVERSAL HEALTH COVERAGE
The High Level Expert Group (HLEG) was set up by the Planning Commission to define a comprehensive strategy for health for the Twelfth Five Year Plan. The main recommendations of the HLEG are:
Health Financing and Financial Protection:
o Government should increase public expenditure on health from the current 1.2% of GDP to at least 3% of GDP by 2022.
Expenditures on primary healthcare should account for at least 70 per cent of all healthcare expenditure.
General taxation should be used as the principal source of healthcare financing, not levying sector specific taxes.
Specific purpose transfers should be introduced to equalize the levels of per capita public spending on health across different states.
Access to Medicines, Vaccines and Technology:
o Price controls and price regulation, especially on essential drugs, should be enforced.
o The Essential Drugs List should be revised and expanded, and rational use of drugs ensured.
o Public sector should be strengthened to protect the capacity of domestic drug and vaccines industry to meet national needs.
o Safeguards provided by Indian patents law and the TRIPS Agreement against the country’s ability to produce essential drugs should be protected.
Human Resources for Health:
o Institutes of Family Welfare should be strengthened.
o Regional Faculty Development Centers should be selectively developed to enhance the availability of adequately trained faculty and faculty-sharing across institutions.
o District Health Knowledge Institutes, a dedicated training system for Community Health Workers, State Health Science Universities and a National Council for Human Resources in Health (NCHRH) should be established.
Health Service Norms:
o A National Health Package should be developed that offers, as part of the entitlement of every citizen, essential health services at different levels of the healthcare delivery system.
o Equitable access to health facilities in urban areas by rationalizing services and focusing particularly on the health needs of the urban poor.
Management and Institutional Reforms:
o All India and State level Public Health Service Cadres and a specialized State level Health Systems Management Cadre should be introduced in order to give greater attention to Public Health.
o The establishment of a National Health Regulatory and Development Authority, National Drug Regulatory and Development Authority, and National Health Promotion and Protection Trust
(NHPPT) is also recommended.
Community Participation and Citizen Engagement:
o Existing Village Health Committees should be transformed into participatory Health Councils.
Gender and Health:
o There is a need to improve access to health services for women, girls and other vulnerable genders which goes beyond the maternal and child health.
NATIONAL HEALTH MISSION
After the success of the National Rural health Mission, the National Health Mission (NHM) was announced in
2012 covering all the villages and towns in the country. The National Health mission has two sub-missions:
1. National Rural Health Mission
2. National Urban Health Mission
The core principles of NHM are:
Achieving Quality Standards
Continuum of Care
RASHTRIYA SWASTHYA BIMA YOJANA (RSBY)
The ‘Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana’ (RSBY), introduced in 2007, was designed to meet the health insurance needs of the poor.
RSBY provides for ‘cash-less’, smart card based health insurance cover of `30,000 per annum to each enrolled family, comprising up to five individuals.
The beneficiary family pays only `30 per annum as registration/renewal fee.
The scheme covers hospitalisation expenses (Out-patient expenses are not covered), including maternity benefit, and pre-existing diseases.
A transportation cost of `100 per visit is also paid.
RSBY was originally limited to Below Poverty Line (BPL) families but was later extended to building and other construction workers, MGNREGA beneficiaries, street vendors, beedi workers, and domestic workers.
Key feature of RSBY is that it provides for private health service providers to be included in the system, if they meet certain standards and agree to provide cash-less treatment which is reimbursed by the insurance company.
The shortcomings of RSBY noted so far include high transaction costs due to insurance intermediaries, inability to control provider induced demand, and lack of coverage for primary health and out-patient care.
The RSBY also does not take into account state specific variations in disease profiles and health needs.
Hidden hunger is also known as micronutrient deficiency. It is a form of under nutrition that occurs when intake or absorption of Vitamins, Proteins and Mineral is too low to sustain good health and development in children & normal physical and mental functions in adults.
Food fortification and Bio-fortification
Food fortification or enrichment is the process of adding micronutrients (essential trace elements and vitamins) to food. Addition of micronutrients to staples and condiments can prevent large-scale deficiency diseases.
Biofortification is the idea of breeding crops to increase their nutritional value. This can be done either through conventional selective breeding, or through genetic engineering.
Biofortification differs from ordinary fortification as it focuses on making plant foods more nutritious as the plants are growing, rather than having nutrients added to the foods when they are being processed.
TAX ON FAT
A fat tax is a tax or surcharge that is placed upon fattening food, beverages or on overweight individuals. It aims to discourage unhealthy diets and offset the economic costs of obesity.
Numerous studies suggest that as the price of a food decreases, obesity of population increases and also eating behavior may be more responsive to price increases than to nutritional education.
A European Commission report found that specific taxes on sugar, salt or fat do cause reductions in consumption but higher taxes may also merely encourage consumers to go for cheaper products.
However, there is also evidence that obese individuals are less responsive to changes in the price of food than normal-weight individuals.
A lot of people argue that the government has no right in imposing a tax like this one on its people however to tackle obesity and related diseases such taxation is required.
However this must be done with care, because a carelessly chosen food tax can have surprising and perverse effects.
For example, In October 2011, Denmark introduced a fat tax on butter, milk, cheese, pizza, meat, oil and processed food. In November 2012, the Danish Tax Ministry abolished the fat tax stating that it failed to change Danes’ eating habits, and encouraged cross border trading, put Danish jobs at risk and had been a bureaucratic nightmare for producers and outlets. The proposed sugar tax plans were also scrapped.
The precise impact of “fat taxes” on the competitiveness of the agriculture and food sector still needs to be studied in detail and the ways to tackle its negative impacts.
TO PROMOTE ECO-TOURISM
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal approved release of Gharials in Sutlej and Beas rives in the state to promote eco-tourism.
Initially 10 Gharials would be released in the Harike Wildlife Sanctuary as a part of ‘Gharial Recovery Action Plan”.
Gharial (Gavialisgangeticus), once found in the Indian subcontinent in plenty, is now the most endangered large animal.
Historical records reveal that Gharial, one of the three crocodilian species found in India, was present in Indus River system, including Beas and Sutlej rivers, indicating healthy river system
It has been listed in Schedule I of Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and as “Critically Endangered” in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Endangered Species in 2007.
NATIONAL AIR QUALITY INDEX (AQI)
The government launched the National Air Quality Index (AQI) that will put out real time data about the level of pollutants in the air and inform people about the possible impacts on health.
Initially it will be launched for 10 cities. The aim was to eventually deploy the index in all cities with a population of over one million.
The AQI is a global standard.
The central agencies have taken into account eight pollutants: PM2.5, PM10, nitrogen oxides, Sulphur dioxide, ozone, carbon monoxide, ammonia and lead while calculating and releasing the AQI.
It will have ‘one number, one colour and one description’ to inform the public about air quality in a
simple and easily understandable format.
The red colour in the rain was caused by the presence of spores of a European species of green microalgae, Trentepohlia annulata that was reported previously only from Austria —a Central European country.
Blood rain is nothing but a mechanism employed by this alga to disperse its spores (similar to plant seeds) to a very large area at once, so that algae can quickly colonize a large area.
The introduction of Alga in India happened through clouds over ocean — a phenomenon of intercontinental species dispersal previously reported for bacteria and fungi, but first time for alga.
Blood rain in India: Since 1896, reports have been coming in of sporadic instances of red coloured rain over parts of Kerala and Sri Lanka. The latest one was in 2013 over Kerala.
The chestnut-breasted partridge (Arborophilamandellii) is a species of partridge endemic to the eastern Himalayas north of the Brahmaputra, and is known from Bhutan, West Bengal (Darjeeling only), Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh, north-east India, Nepal Himalaya and southeast Tibet.
This bird has been classified as Vulnerable by ICUN.
THREE NEW TIGER RESERVE:
National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has given in-principle approval for creation of reserves in Ratapani in Madhya Pradesh, Sunabeda in Odisha and Guru Ghasidas in Chhattisgarh.
The Odisha government claimed that the number of big cats in the State would be around 60.However, NCTA report put the number of tigers 28 .The State has three tiger reserves — Similipal, Satakosia and Sunabeda.
NATIONAL TIGER CONSERVATION AUTHORITY (NTCA)
The Government of India had launched “Project Tiger” on 1st April 1973 to promote conservation of the tiger. Project Tiger has been the largest species conservation initiative of its kind in the world.
Project Tiger is an ongoing Centrally Sponsored Scheme of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change providing central assistance to the tiger States for tiger conservation in designated tiger reserves.
The National Tiger Conservation Authority was established in December 2005 following a recommendation of the Tiger Task Force.
The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) is a statutory body of the Ministry, with an overarching supervisory / coordination role, performing functions as provided in the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
Abscission is the shedding of various parts of an organism, such as a plant dropping a leaf, fruit, flower, or seed.In the process of leaf abscission, plants periodically shed their leaves. Leaf abscission involves a number of biochemical and physical changes that are largely controlled by plant hormones.
RAJAJI NATIONAL PARK
Why in news: The Union government has given the nod to a proposal to grant the Rajaji National Park in Uttarakhand the status of a tiger reserve. This is the second tiger reserve in the State after the Corbett Tiger Reserve.
It lies in the Shivaliks.
It will be the second tiger reserve in the State after the Corbett Tiger Reserve.
The Park is at the northwestern limit of distribution for both elephants and tigers in India, and has the
largest population of elephants in Uttarakhand.
The new tiger reserve is expected to bring in more tourists and boost the economy of the State.
Named after C. Rajagopalachari(Rajaji)
Uttarakhand, the State with the second highest tiger population after Karnataka.
Indian Navy’s 1ststealth destroyer, INS Visakhapatnam, designed indigenously and fitted with advanced features was launched, boosting the maritime force’s firepower capability.
The indigenously designed stealth destroyer will have state-of-the-art weapons, sensors, an advance
Action Information System, in Integrated Platform Management system, sophisticated Power
Distribution System and a host of other advanced features.
Supersonic surface-to-surface missile system: The system enables the ship to engage shore- based and naval surface targets at long range, making it a lethal platform for strike against enemy targets.
Air defence capability: This will protect it from enemy aircraft and anti-ship cruise missiles.
Four 30mm rapid-fire guns will provide the ship with close-in-defence capability, while an MR gun will enable her to provide effective naval gunfire support.
Anti-submarine capability: Indigenously developed twin tube torpedo launchers and rocket launchers will enhance the ship’s anti-submarine capability.
The vessel has indigenous component of over 70 per cent.
The vessel is expected to be commissioned in the Navy in 2018.
This project is in line with the ‘Make in India policy’ of the Government.
The vessel is follow-on of P15A Kolkata-class destroyers with enhanced features.
What it is: Areal time, online monitoring system for monitoring implementation of various ongoing projects including Rail Budget proposals.
The software is currently being used by Cabinet Secretariat, PMO and other Ministries for monitoring progress implementation of various programmes and follow-up of meetings.
This portal will mainly focus on Budget Review, Board Meetings, Zonal Railway Review, Infrastructure Targets and Project Implementation Review.
It can also be used for coordination by respective directorates, zonal and divisional level officials in Indian Railways.
It has been developed by and National Informatics Centre (NIC).
The software has been developed to make it a highly interactive web-based, user-friendly and customised system.
Maglev (derived from magnetic levitation) is a transport method that uses magnetic levitation to move vehicles without touching the ground (10 cm above the ground).
With maglev, a vehicle travels using magnets to create both lift and propulsion, thereby reducing friction and allowing higher speeds.
Only two commercial maglev transport systems are in operation in the world. 1. Shanghai’s Transrapid system 2. Japan’s relatively low-speed HSST “Linimo” line.
STATUE OF UNITY
STATUE OF UNITY (FEATURES)
Monument of Vallabhbhai Patel
Location: Sadhu Bet island on the Narmada near Vadodara
Height: 182 metres
Surrounded with a man-made lake spread across 12 km of area.
Would be the world’s tallest statue.
UN REPORT ON E-WASTE (GLOBAL E-WASTE MONITOR 2014)
ndia is the fifth biggest producer of e-waste in the world (1.7 million tonnes) after U.S., China, Japan and Germany.
INCINERATOR TECHNOLOGY FOR PRODUCING REFUSE DERIVED FUEL (RDF)
Why in news: National Green Tribunal (NGT), New Delhi, has permitted the States, including Karnataka, to use incinerator technology for producing Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF), commonly known as waste-to-energy.
Incineration is a waste treatment process that involves the combustion of organic substances contained in waste materials.
Incineration of waste materials converts the waste into ash, flue gas, and heat.
Heat generated by incineration can be used to generate electric power.
The gases, flue gases are first treated for eradication of pollutants before going in to atmosphere.
Incinerators reduce the solid mass of the original waste by 95–96%.
CONCERNS/ ARGUMENTS AGAINST INCINERATION
The highly toxic fly ash, dioxin and furan emissions may cause adverse health effect for local residents.
Incinerators emit varying levels of heavy metals such asvanadium, manganese, chromium, nickel, arsenic, mercury, lead, and cadmium, which can be toxic at very minute levels.
The reusable, recyclable waste destroyed in this process which has adverse impact on communities which are involved in recycling industries.
NGT ORDER TO MINIMIZE CONCERNS
No waste could be directly put into the incinerators or for power generation, except the specifically permitted.
Only those wastes that are found unrecyclable after segregation should be put into the incinerators.
The tribunal emphasised that it was not putting any absolute restriction on RDF being used as power generation fuel, but first effort should be made for composting of wet waste.
The States are free to use RDF for generating fuel with due care and caution by framing necessary guidelines.
The Central Pollution Control Board and the Ministry of Environment and Forests were directed to prescribe specific guidelines for emissions from incinerators.
REFUSE DERIVED FUEL (RDF)
Refuse-derived fuel (RDF) or solid recovered fuel/ specified recovered fuel (SRF) is a fuel produced by shredding and dehydrating solid waste (MSW) with a Waste converter technology.
RDF consists largely of combustible components of municipal waste such as plastics and biodegradable waste.
RDF is extracted from municipal solid waste using a mix of mechanical and/or biological treatment methods.
The production of RDF may involve the following steps:
APPLICATIONS OF RDF
Used alongside traditional sources of fuel in coal power plants
Cement kiln industry
Can also be fed into plasma arc gasification modules, pyrolysis plants and where the RDF is capable of being combusted cleanly or in compliance with the Kyoto Protocol.
A team of scientists from four research institutions in Kerala have reported the discovery of a rare species of plant from the Palakkad gap region of the Western Ghats. Several species of the Oldenlandia family are widely used in Ayurveda for preparation of formulations such as Chyawanaprasam.
Based on IUCN criteria, the researchers have classified Oldenlandia dineshii as an endangered species.
In a bid to reduce man-animal conflict in Assam, bio-fences are proposed to be set up replacing electric fences, to ward off straying elephants.
TELANGANA CRAB SPIDER (THOMISUS TELANGANENSIS)
Telangana now has a spider named after it — Telangana crab spider (Thomisus telanganensis). The spiders, named Thomisus telanganensis, also resemble crabs and are called “crab spiders”. They are also known as “flower spiders” as they lie in wait for prey on flowering plants.
They are important to the ecosystem as they act as bio-controlling agents to keep the insect population under control. They are usually found in plants, shrubs, grasses, flowering plants, leaf litter and sometimes under stones.
Pterocarpussantalinus, with the common names Red Sanders, is a species of Pterocarpus endemic to the southern Eastern Ghats mountain range of South India.
Red Sanders has a highly restrictive distribution in the South Eastern portion of Indian peninsula to which it is endemic. The Palakonda and Seshachalam hill ranges of Cuddapah-Chittoor districts of the State of Andhra Pradesh are its principal geographical range.
Red sanders has been classified as endangered in the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List and included in Appendix-II of Convention on International trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
Used mainly to make aphrodisiac drugs and musical instruments and furniture.
Red-sanders or red sandal wood has lot of demand in International market including China, Japan and Gulf countries and there is large scale smuggling of this precious wood from AP.
GENETIC PROFILING OF INDIAN MACKEREL
The Indian Mackerel — Rastrelliger kanagurta — is an important food fish commonly consumed in South and Southeast Asian countries. The fish is commonly found in warm shallow waters along the coasts of the Indian and West Pacific oceans, and their surrounding seas.
The Indian Mackerel shares the same genetic profile except those caught from Andaman waters.
The fishes collected from Andaman waters were found to be genetically distinctive from those caught from the Indian mainland. However, there was little genetic differentiation between the fish caught from across India.
The genetic profiling was carried out by researchers of the Central Marine Fish Research Institute (CMFRI), Kochi and the National Bureau of Fish Genetic Research (NBFGR), Kochi regional centre.
The genetic profiling of the species is essential to assess the stock, evolve fisheries management methods including the preservation of genetic diversity and sustainability of the regional fisheries.
Sea cucumbers are marine animals of the class Holothuroidea. They are used in fresh or dried form in various
cuisines. In some cultural contexts the sea cucumber is thought to have medicinal value.
Sea cucumbers, endangered species protected under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
Sea cucumbers played a vital role in the marine ecological system, as they eat nutrients from the sea bed and bring it to the surface, thus helpingin availability of the nutrients to other organisms.
Nearly 200 species of sea cucumbers are found in the coral reef colonies in India, of which 20 species were found in the Gulf of Mannar and Palk Bay regions in the State.
Out of the 20, two were over-exploited and were exported in large number to Singapore from where they were distributed to Taiwan, China and Japan, where they are considered delicacies. Normally, the sea cucumbers are found in inter-tidal regions of the coast, along the sea grass and coral reef colonies
EMISSIONS FROM BIOMASS BURNING CROSS THE HIMALAYAS
The organic acids present in the aerosols serve as a unique fingerprint in identifying the source of pollution. In this case, the dicarboxylic acids served as a fingerprint.
Though dicarboxylic acids can be produced by biomass burning, vehicular exhausts and cooking (primary source), as well as atmospheric photooxidation (secondary source), the researchers were able to pinpoint the source as biomass burning.
Levoglucosan is a specific marker of biomass burning — it is “produced through the pyrolysis of cellulose during the combustion process,”. Another unique marker of biomass burning is the water-soluble potassium. Both the markers showed strong positive correlation with dicarboxylic acids thereby confirming biomass burning as the source of pollution.
Though the pollutants were found to reach the northern slopes of the Himalayas during all the seasons pre-monsoon, monsoon, post-monsoon and winter seasons — the amount of aerosol found peaked during pre-monsoon. This, according to them, is one more indicator of biomass burning as the source.
Agricultural burning and forest fires along the southern Himalayan foothills and the Indo-Gangetic Plain reach a high during the pre-monsoon period. That probably is the reason why the amount of biomass burning marker found peaked during the pre-monsoon time.
Dhanush is a variant of the surface-to-surface/ship-to-ship Prithvi III missile, which has been developed for the Indian Navy.
Dhanush missile is capable of carrying conventional as well as nuclear payload of 500 to 1,000 kg and hit both land and sea-based targets s in the range of 350 km.
The single-stage, liquid-propelled Dhanush having 350 km range has already been inducted into the armed forces and is one of the five missiles developed by Defence Research and Development
Organisation (DRDO) under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP).
GUT BACTERIA PRODUCE KEY BRAIN CHEMICAL
Production of a key chemical, deficiency of which is linked to various diseases and disorders such as depression and anxiety, depends largely on a group of approximately 20 bacteria in the gut.
Certain bacteria in the gut are important for the production of serotonin, which is well known as a brain neurotransmitter.
Serotonin is an important neurotransmitter and hormone that is involved in a variety of biological processes. The finding that gut microbes modulate serotonin levels raises the interesting prospect of using them to drive changes in biology
The saiga is a critically endangered antelope that originally inhabited a vast area of the Eurasian steppezone. Mostly concentrated in the steppe land of Kazakhstan, neighbouring Russia and Mongolia.
Why in News: In May 2015 large numbers of saiga began to die from a mysterious epizootic1 illness suspected to be pasteurellosis. Herd fatality is 100% once infected, with an estimated 40% of the species’ total population already dead.
More than 120,000 carcasses had been found as of late May, while the estimated total population was only 250,000
THE INDIAN PANGOLIN
The Indian pangolin, thick-tailed pangolin is an endangered pangolin found in the plains and hills of India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan.
It is a mammal. It is an insectivore that feeds on ants and termites. It can curl itself into a ball as a form of self-defence against predators such as the tiger
InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) In March 2016,
NASA will send this unique Mars lander to explore the Red Planet’s deep interior to find clues about how all rocky planets, including the Earth, formed and evolved.
The lander InSight will be the first mission devoted to understand the interior structure of the Red Planet.
LION CENSUS IN GIR
This is the only wild population of Asiatic lions in the world and IUCN has categorised the species as endagered.
The members of the Maldhari community living next to the forest area had been of great assistance to the Forest Department in their conservation efforts.
Definition: A heat wave refers to a prolonged period of hot weather, which may be accompanied by high humidity. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) defines a heat wave as five or more consecutive days in which the average daily maximum temperature is exceeded by at least 5°C, the normal period being 1961-1990.
REASONS FOR HEAT WAVE
A heat wave occurs when a system of high atmospheric pressure moves into an area. In such a highpressure system, air from upper levels of our atmosphere is pulled toward the ground, where it becomes compressed and increases in temperature.
This high concentration of pressure makes it difficult for other weather systems to move into the area, which is why a heat wave can last for several days or weeks. The longer the system stays in an area, the hotter the area becomes.
The high-pressure inhibits winds, making them faint to nonexistent. Because the high-pressure system also prevents clouds from entering the region, sunlight can become punishing, heating up the system even more.
The combination of all of these factors come together to create the exceptionally hot temperatures we call a heat wave.
New Horizons is a NASA space probe launched to study the dwarf planet Pluto, its moons and one or two other Kuiper belt objects. The spacecraft is scheduled to pass through the Pluto system on July 14, 2015 and will map the dwarf planet, its five known moon’s surface and search for a ring system.
NASA probe, New Horizons, passed Neptune’s orbit, nearly 25 years after Voyager 2 spacecraft executed the first-ever flyby of faraway Neptune and its icy moon Triton.
Pluto has five known moons — Charon, Hydra, Nix, Kerberos and Styx.
THE KUIPER BELT
The Kuiper belt sometimes called the Edgeworth–Kuiper belt, is a region of the Solar beyond the planets, extending from the orbit of Neptune (at 30 AU) to approximately 50 AU from the Sun.
The astronomical unit (AU) is a unit of length, roughly the distance from the Earth to the Sun.
India is home to 48 of the 250 known species of bumblebees, the only pollinators of vegetation in high-altitude regions.
Bumblebees are generally found on altitudes of 2,000-15,000 feet along the entire Himalayas, from Jammu & Kashmir to Nagaland.
WHITLEY AWARDS (Green Oscars)
The Whitley Awards are made annually by the Whitley Fund for Nature (WFN) to recognise and
celebrate effective national and regional conservation leaders across the globe.
Dr Ananda Kumar his work using innovative communication systems to enable human-elephant coexistence in southern India
Dr Pramod Patil his work to protect the iconic great Indian bustard in the Thar Desert
MESSENGER (MERCURY SURFACE, SPACE ENVIRONMENT, GEOCHEMISTRY, AND
RANGING) SPACECRAFT- Launched in 2011
MESSENGER (a backronym of MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging, and a
reference to the mythological messenger, Mercury) was a robotic NASA spacecraft which orbited the planet Mercury between 2011 and 2015
FINDINGS OF MISSION
Its objective was to study Mercury’s chemical composition, geology, and magnetic field.
Unexpectedly high concentrations of magnesium and calcium found on Mercury
Mercury’s magnetic field is offset far to the north of the planet’s center
visual evidence of past volcanic activity on the surface of Mercury
Both water ice and organic compounds in permanently shadowed craters in Mercury’s north pole
MESSENGER was able to take highly detailed close-up photographs of ice-filled craters and other landforms at Mercury’s north pole.
What it is: Astrosat is India’s first dedicated astronomy satellite and is scheduled to launch on board the PSLV in October 2015.
It is a multi-wavelength astronomy mission and will scan the sky (simultaneously) in most of the
frequency spectra from ultraviolet to optical and low- and high-energy X-ray bands.
It will study distant stars, galaxies, black holes and other cosmic objects.
It will be will operate for 5 years.
It will have special focus on the following
Will provide useful data for the country’s astronomy community.
Would be of immense benefit to our scientists, who have depended on inputs from other agencies and sources like the Hubble [US-European space telescope].
Studies of periodic and non-periodic variability of X-ray sources.
It will put India in an elite orbit with the U.S., Europe, Russia and Japan.
MULTI-OBJECT TRACKING RADAR (MOTR)
India has joined the select group of countries (US, Israel, Japan and Canada) that have rare and the latest technologies for tracking multiple objects moving in space with the help of a highly-sophisticated radar.
It can track 10 different objects simultaneously with a range of nearly 1,000 km while the existing radars have a range of 300 to 400 km.
As of now, only one object is tracked throughout the launch process with the available radars. But now with this new technology even burnt-out debris in phase one and two of a rocket launch can be tracked with the latest technology.
Uses and Benefits
It will help in keeping a watch on ISRO’s space assets on a daily basis.
The radar would be used along with the existing six small radars available at SHAR (SatishDhawan Space Centre) for ensuring precision in rocket launches.
The equipment would be very useful during minor deviations in the trajectory of a just-launched vehicle, as immediate remedial measures could be taken.
It is a new, miniature weather-forecasting satellite which will predict the genesis of cyclones in the oceans.
It is developed by Ahmedabad-based Space Applications Centre (SAC) — an arm of ISRO.
This satellite is expected to take over some of the functions of OCEANSAT-2, a satellite that had accurately predicted the landfall of cyclone Phailin on the Orissa coast in October 2013.
It will measure the wind speed and it’s direction over the ocean.
It can predict the formation of cyclones, about 4-5 days in advance.
The data generated by this mini-satellite will be used by NASA, EUMETSAT (European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites) and NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).
Expected Life : five years
Indigenously developed (by DRDO)
Air to air
beyond visual range air-to-air
capable of engaging targets at varying range and altitudes allowing for engagement of both short-range targets (up to 20 km) and long-range targets (up to 80 km)
It’s on-board electronic counter-measures jam radar signals from enemy radar, making tracking of the missile difficult.
maximum speed is Mach 4
Expected to be inducted by 2016 after a few more tests
Why in news: Recently opened for tourists after 1962 Indo-China war.
It was closed after Indo-China war because of its proximity to the India-China border.
Features of Valley
Near Indo-China border.
Falls under the Gangotri National Park in Uttarkashi district.
At 11,600 feet, the valley is a cold desert.
Earlier (before 1962) it was an important trade route
Animals found: Snow leopard, Himalayan blue sheep, Musk dear.
Reasons of the Dust Storm
According to Metrological department the Dust Storm was caused by:
A movement of spiral winds over northwest Rajasthan.
A high pressure gradient and heat.
West Rajasthan becomes prone to such dust storms as it enters into the pre-monsoon season.
Akash is a medium-range mobile surface-to-air missile defense system. An Air Force variant of Akash has already been inducted.
Each regiment of Akash consists of six launchers with each launcher having three missiles
Capable of targeting a multitude of aerial threats up to a range of 25 km.
Can simultaneously engage multiple targets in all weather conditions.
Has a large operational envelope from a low altitude of 30 metres to a maximum of up to 20 km.
Can target Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in addition to helicopters and fighter planes.
This is designed for high mobility and can be quickly moved to any operational theatres based on necessity.
BRAHMOS LAND-ATTACK CRUISE MISSILE
Why in news: The land-to-land configuration of BrahMos Block-III version (advanced version of BrahMos) was test launched successfully from a Mobile Autonomous Launcher (MAL) for its full-range of 290 km.
Supersonic cruise missile: Mach 2.8 speed
Is capable of being launched from land, sea, sub—sea and air against sea and land targets.
The air version of the BrahMos is being readied for flight trials soon on Indian Air Force’s Su-30 MKI strike fighter
Jointly developed by India and Russia.
What is cruise missile: A cruise missile is a guided missile, the major portion of whose flight path to its target (a land-based or sea-based target) is conducted at approximately constant velocity. It has high precision and can fly on a non-ballistic, extremely low-altitude trajectory.
INS SARDAR PATEL COMMISSIONED IN INDIAN NAVY
A strategically important new Naval base — INS Sardar Patel — was commissioned in Porbandar.
Gravitational waves are ripples in the fabric of space-time produced by violent events such as the
collision of two black holes or by cores of supernova explosions.
They are produced by accelerating masses, just the same as accelerating charged particles produce radio waves (e.g. electrons in antennas).
Among other things, studying gravitational waves can tell us more about the nature of gravity.
LIGO(Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory)
LIGO is a large-scale physics experiment aiming to directly detect gravitational waves.
This detector recently underwent upgradation which would make it ten times more sensitive, which, in turn, would provide a 1000-fold increase in the number of astrophysical candidates for gravitational wave signals.
REAL-TIME IDENTIFICATION OF ALGAL BLOOMS
A group of ocean scientists from the Centre for Marine Living Resources (CMLRE), Kochi, claimed to have perfected the algorithm for identification of the algal bloom.
How: By identification of Noctiluca scintillans in Arabian sea using a satellite-based remote sensing technique.
Noctiluca scintillans, commonly known as the Sea Sparkle, is a free-living non-parasiticmarine-dwelling species that exhibits bioluminescence when disturbed (popularly known as mareel).
N. scintillans is a heterotroph (non-photosynthetic) that engulfs by phagocytosis food which includes plankton, diatoms, other dinoflagellates, fish eggs and bacteria
GREAT INDIAN BUSTARD
Once widely spotted across 11 States, the Great Indian Bustard is currently listed under the category of Critically Endangered birds, in the 2013 ‘Threatened Bird’ list by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
The change of land use from grassland to farmland has been a major threat since it has shrunk the bird’s habitat.
The erosion of its habitat is a major threat to the bird’s survival.
Poaching is another key problem.
It is the State Bird of Rajasthan
Thar Desert is the only landscape in the world that provides viable breeding population to GIBs.
Thousands of windmills around the Desert National Park are posing a serious threat to the GIB.
Why in News: Windmills spell doom for the Great Indian Bustard
AUTOMATIC IDENTIFICATION SYSTEM (PROPRIETARY) TRANSPONDERS
The project — Automatic Identification System (proprietary) Transponders — will track small fishing
vessels (below 20 metre) and up to a distance of 50 kms from the coastline.
The project will be implemented by the Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries under the Agriculture Ministry.
At present, there is a system in place for tracking vessels above 20-m in length, but there is no such
facility for boats below that length.
o India’s long coastline poses a variety of security concerns that include landing of arms and
explosives at isolated spots on the coast, infiltration/exfiltration of anti-national elements, use of
sea and offshore islands for criminal activities and smuggling of consumer and intermediate
goods through sea routes
o The absence of physical barriers on the coast and presence of vital industrial and defence
installations in such zones further enhances the vulnerability of these areas.
Sakaar is Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) Augmented Reality (AR) application designed for Andriod devices.
It consists of 3D models of MOM, RISAT, rockets (PSLV, GSLV Mk-III); videos of INSAT 3D-predicting cyclones, GSLV D5/Cryo, Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) orbit insertion, launch video of MOM, 360 degree animated view of MOM; Anaglyph of Mars surface.
AUGMENTED REALITY TECHNOLOGY
Augmented Reality is a live direct view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented (or supplemented) by computer-generated 3D models, animations, videos etc.
It enhances user’s current perception of reality.
The AR requires three elements – Android device with back camera, AR application and AR markers.
WORLD’S THINNEST LIGHT BULB CREATED
Researchers have created the world’s thinnest light bulb using graphene (an atomically thin and perfectly crystalline form of carbon) as a filament (In incandescent light bulb tungsten used as filament).
FEATURES AND APPLICATIONS
After current is passed through filament it heats up to over 2,500° C and produces exceptionally bright light.
This graphene light is low cost with a relatively simple structure.
Can also be integrated into chips which will pave the way towards the realisation of atomically flexible, thin and transparent displays.
Can be used as broadband light emitter
The ability for the super-thin material to produce light is seen as a key step to create super-thin
computer and TV screens.
Graphene is composed of carbon atoms linked in a hexagonal lattice.
About 200 times stronger than steel
Better conductor compared to Copper
What is Philae: It is a robotic European Space Agency lander that accompaniedthe Rosetta spacecraft until it landed on comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, more than ten years after departing Earth. On 12 November 2014, the probe achieved the first-ever soft landing on a comet nucleus.
Why in News: On 15 November 2014, Philae entered safe mode, or hibernation, after its batteries ran down due to reduced sunlight and an off-nominal spacecraft orientation at its unplanned landing site. Mission controllers hoped that additional sunlight on the solar panels by August 2015 might be sufficient to reboot the lander. On 13 June 2015, Philae began communicating with Rosetta again.
What is Rosetta: Mothership (spacecraft) orbiting Comet 67P. Philae communicates with Rosetta which sends the received data to the earth.
GOALS OF THE MISSION
To focus on elemental, isotopic, molecular and mineralogical composition of the cometary material
The characterization of physical properties of the surface and subsurface material
The large-scale structure and the magnetic and plasma environment of the nucleus
The mission seeks to unlock the long-held secrets of comets — primordial clusters of ice and dust that scientists believe may reveal how the Solar System was formed.
KHOYA-PAYA WEB PORTAL TO TRACK MISSING CHILDREN LAUNCHED
‘Khoya-Paya’, is a web portal for citizens to report children sighted as abandoned, lost or with suspicious person. It has been developed by the Ministry of Women and Child Development and the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY).
CSIR SUCCEEDS IN WHOLE GENOME SEQUENCING OF HOLY BASIL (TULSI)
CSIR-Central Institute of Medicinal & Aromatic Plants (CSIR-CIMAP), has published whole genome sequence of Tulsi.
Other names: Ocimum sanctum, the wonder plant ‘Holy basil’
SIGNIFICANCE OF TULSI
Worshipped for over more than 3000 years through the sacred traditions of Hindu culture
o It used in several systems of traditional medicine, including Ayurveda, Greek, Roman, Siddha, and
o It is used in the preparations to cure various diseases like bronchitis, bronchial asthma, malaria,
diarrhea, dysentery, skin diseases, arthritis, painful eye diseases, chronic fever, insect bite.
o It has also been described to possess anti-fertility, anti-cancer, anti-diabetic, anti-fungal, antimicrobial, hepatoprotective, cardioprotective, anti-emetic, anti-spasmodic, analgesic, adaptogenic and diaphoretic actions.
Also known as the wide sawfish
It is found in shallow tropical and subtropical waters in coastal parts of the Atlantic, including
The maiden indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant was undocked on completion of structural work.
Largest aircraft carrier after induction
The successful completion puts India in the elite group of four nations – the US, Russia, the UK and France – in the world capable of designing and constructing aircraft carriers.
DANDELI ELEPHANT RESERVE
Karnataka, which boasts of the highest number of elephants in India has got a second elephant reserve the Dandeli Elephant Reserve under Project Elephant.
MAMMALIAN FAUNA OF INDIA
Extinct mammals: Cheetah, Banteng, Sumatran Rhinoceros and Javan Rhinoceros
Critically Endangered: pygmy hog, Malabar civet, large rock rat and kondana rat etc
Endangered: Chinese Pangolin, fishing cat, Gangetic dolphin, golden langur, hispid hare etc.
WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY
World Environment Day (WED) is celebrated every year on 5 June to raise global awareness to take positive environmental action to protect nature and the planet Earth.
It is run by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
The theme for 2015 is ‘Seven Billion Dreams; One Planet; Consume with Care’.
SONGBIRD TURNS VICTIM OF HUNTING
Recent studies by the U.K.’s BirdLife International and its India partner, Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) India, have shown that one of Eurasia’s most abundant bird species, yellow-breasted bunting, has declined by 90%.
A research paper recently published in the journal Conservation Biology suggests that unsustainable
rates of hunting, principally in China, have contributed to the catastrophic loss of numbers.
Yellow-breasted bunting was once distributed over vast areas of Europe and Asia. In India, it is reported as a winter visitor, mainly in the north-east, in West Bengal, and also in the Terai region of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Here it is found from early October till April, in small to large flocks of up to 200.
Origin: East- Central Arabian Sea
The storm continued to track northwestwards for a while, before turning westwards (towards oman) and weakening due to moderate to high wind shear and land interaction. Thus, it haven’t affected Gujarat much.
MAHARASHTRA DECLARED BLUE MORMON AS STATE BUTTERFLY
Maharashtra has become the first State in the country to have a ‘State butterfly.’
The Blue Mormon is a large, swallowtail butterfly found primarily in Sri Lanka and India, mainly restricted to the Western Ghats of Maharashtra, South India and coastal belts. It may occasionally be spotted in the Maharashtrian mainland between Vidarbha and Western Maharashtra.
ARUNACHAL PRADESH’S STATE SOIL HEALTH MISSION
The programme aims at proper documentation of soil health and preparation of soil map.
To make Arunachal Pradesh a hundred per cent organic state
Burning coal for power and heat a major source of mercury.
Mercury is contained in many products, including: batteries, measuring devices, such as thermometers and barometers, electric switches and relays in equipment, lamps (including some types of light bulbs), dental amalgam (for dental fillings), skin-lightening products and other cosmetics, pharmaceuticals.
Mercury is considered by WHO as one of the top ten chemicals or groups of chemicals of major public health concern.
Exposure to mercury – even small amounts – may cause serious health problems, and is a threat to the development of the child in utero and early in life.
Mercury may have toxic effects on the nervous, digestive and immune systems, and on lungs, kidneys, skin and eyes.
Skin rashes and dermatitis; mood swings; memory loss; mental disturbances; and muscle weakness
Symptoms include these: tremors; emotional changes (e.g., mood swings, irritability, nervousness, excessive shyness); insomnia; neuromuscular changes (such as weakness, muscle atrophy, twitching); headaches; disturbances in sensations; changes in nerve responses; performance deficits on tests of cognitive function. At higher exposures there may be kidney effects, respiratory failure and death.
Ex-workers of the thermometer-manufacturing unit of Hindustan Unilever Ltd. (HUL) in Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu have been demanding justice.
MINAMATA CONVENTION ON MERCURY
The Convention obliges government Parties to take a range of actions, including addressing mercury emissions to air and to phasing-out certain mercury-containing products.
KALPAKKAM FAST BREEDER REACTOR TO BE COMMISSIONED SOON
The 500-MWe Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) at Kalpakkam is getting ready to be commissioned in September.
It will signal India’s triumphant entry into the second stage of its three-stage nuclear power programme.
Fuel: plutonium-uranium oxide
Coolant: liquid sodium
What is FBR: A reactor, which produce more fuel than it consumes. India’s FBRs will produce xxx while generating power.
Current status: The PFBR construction had been completed and equipment energised. The agency is
awaiting clearance from the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) for sodium charging, fuel loading,
reactor criticality and then stepping up power generation.
Who build reactors: Bharatiya Nabikhiya Vidyut Nigam Limited (BHAVINI), a public sector undertaking of the Department of Atomic Energy.
STAGE 1: PRESSURISED HEAVY WATER REACTOR
In this natural uranium fuelled pressurised heavy water reactors (PHWR) produce electricity while generating plutonium-239 as by-product.
STAGE II – FAST BREEDER REACTOR
In the second stage, fast breeder reactors (FBRs) would use a mixed oxide (MOX) fuel made from plutonium-239, recovered by reprocessing spent fuel from the first stage, and natural uranium.
In the second stage, fast breeder reactors (FBRs) would use a mixed oxide (MOX) fuel made from plutonium-239, recovered by reprocessing spent fuel from the first stage, and natural uranium.
In FBRs, plutonium-239 undergoes fission to produce energy, while the uranium-238 present in the mixed oxide fuel transmutes to additional plutonium-239.
Thus, the Stage II FBRs are designed to “breed” more fuel than they consume.
STAGE III – THORIUM BASED REACTORS
A Stage III reactor or an advanced nuclear power system involves a self-sustaining series of thorium-232-uranium-233 fuelled reactors.
This would be a thermal breeder reactor, which in principle can be refueled after its initial fuel charge using only naturally occurring thorium.
RASHTRIYA AVISHKAR ABHIYAN
Aim: to inculcate a spirit of inquiry, creativity and love for Science and Mathematics in school children.
Developed by the Ministry of Human Resource Development
It seeks to Develop Scientific Temper Among School Children,
To encourage students to learn sciences beyond the classrooms.
Under Rashtriya Avishkar Abhiyan, government schools will be mentored by Institutes like IITs/ IIMs/
IISERs and other Central Universities and reputed organisations through innovative programmes, student exchanges, demonstrations, student visits, etc. to develop a natural sense of passion towards learning of Science and Maths.
ISRO SUCCESSFULLY LAUNCHED 5 UK SATELLITES
Launched by 44.4 metre tall Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle PSLV-C28
o UK’s three identical optical earth observation satellites
o A Micro and a Nano satellite from UK
AKASH AIR DEFENCE MISSILE SYSTEM
The Akash SAM (surface to air missile ) system can employ multiple air targets while operating in fully autonomous mode.
The Akash system protects a moving procession of vehicles using an electronic counter countermeasures (ECCM) system.
Can be launched from static or mobile platforms
Can handle multiple targets and destroy maneuvering targets, such as unmanned aerial vehicles, fighter aircraft, cruise missiles and missiles launched from helicopters.
The missile is capable of destroying aircraft within the range from 30km to 35km and at altitudes up to 18,000m (medium range surface to air missile system)
The system provides air defence missile coverage for an area of 2,000 km².
Can carry conventional and nuclear warheads.
Can operate in all weather conditions.
Developed under the integrated guided-missile development programme (IGMDP).
Built by India’s state-owned Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO)
SAARC SATELLITE EXPECTED TO BE LAUNCHED IN DECEMBER 2016
SAARC Satellite is a proposed communication-cum-meteorology satellite by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for the SAARC region.
Will have twelve ‘Ku’ transponders
It will have the capability to interconnect all these eight countries. Interconnection will be like
o Hot contact for the political level
o MEA interconnection
o Disaster monitoring constellation
o Meteorological data decimination
GPS-AIDED GEO AUGMENTED NAVIGATION (GAGAN) SYSTEM
Government launched the GPS-Aided Geo Augmented Navigation (GAGAN) system thereby joining a
select league comprising the US, Europe Union (EU) and Japan which have similar systems. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Airports Authority of India (AAI) developed the system.
FEATURES AND SIGNIFICANCE
Gagan works by augmenting and relaying data from GPS satellites with the help of two augmentation satellites and 15 earth-based reference stations.
GAGAN system corrects any anomalies in the position data and gives accurate routes, landing guidance and time saving information to the pilots.
The system also bridges the gap in the coverage areas of the European Union’s European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) and Japan’s Multi-functional Satellite Augmentation System (MSAS).
The system would be available for the member states of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).
It will be able to help pilots to navigate in the Indian airspace by an accuracy of 3 m. This will be helpful for landing aircraft in tough weather and terrain like Mangalore and Leh airports.
Some more benefits are
o Improved efficiency,
o Direct routes,
o Increased fuel savings,
o Significant cost savings because of the withdrawal of ground aids and reduced workload of flight crew and air traffic controllers and Accurate guidance for planning shorter routes and safer landing patterns is expected to provide the aviation sector cost-saving options.
ATAL INNOVATION MISSION (AIM)
NITI Aayog has constituted an Expert Committee to work out the detailed contours of Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) and Self-Employment & Talent Utilisation (SETU).
WHAT IS AIM
AIM is an Innovation Promotion Platform in the NITI Aayog, involving academics, entrepreneurs and
researchers and draw upon national and international experiences to foster a culture of innovation, R&D and scientific research in India.
The platform will also promote a network of world-class innovation hubs and grand challenges for India.
It has an initial fund of 150 crore for R&D announced in this year’s budget.
It will provide funds to a network of institutions to conduct research on innovations that can improve economic growth and job creation.
It has replaced the National Innovation Council, a significant difference between the two will be the powers to disburse funds.
WHAT IS SETU
The Government has established a mechanism to be known as SETU (Self-Employment and Talent Utilisation) under NITI Aayog. SETU will be a Techno-Financial, Incubation and Facilitation Programme to support all aspects of start-up businesses, and other self-employment activities, particularly in technology-driven area
Indo-Israeli surface-to-air missile
Being developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation and Israel Aerospace Industries for the Navy over the last five years.
An Army version is being ground tested and an Air Force variant is in the works, both as medium-range or MR-SAMs.
Designed to defend against any type of airborne threat including aircraft, helicopters, anti-ship missiles, and UAVs as well as cruise missiles and combat jets
The radar system provides 360 degree coverage and the missiles can take down an incoming missile as close as 500 meters away from the ship.
Maximum speed Mach 2
GREEN CLIMATE FUND
The $100-billion Green Climate Fund (GCF) will soon become operational in India and the process of accrediting organisations, which can access the funds, is going on.
WHAT IS GCF?
The GCF is a fund within the framework of the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) founded as a mechanism to redistribute money from the developed to the developing world, in order to assist the developing countries in adaptation and mitigation practices to counter climate change.
It aims ‘to make a significant and ambitious contribution to the global efforts towards attaining the goals set by the international community to combat climate change.’
It was formally established by a UNFCCC decision in Durban, South Africa in December 2011.
The groundwork for GCF was laid in the earlier, non-binding ‘Copenhagen Accord’ of 2009.
OBJECTIVE OF GCF
The objective of the GCF is to raise $100 billion per year in climate financing by 2020. The GCF will support projects, programmes, policies and other activities in developing country Parties.
However, disputes remain as to whether the funding target will be based on public sources, or whether leveraged private finance will be counted towards the total. Only a fraction of this sum has been pledged so far, mostly to cover start-up costs.
It will be headquartered in Songdo (Incheon), South Korea and will have an independent GCF secretariat. It will have a board comprising 24-members called the GCF Board, composed of equal number of members from developing and developed countries.
KASTURIRANGAN REPORT ON WESTERN GHATS
The government has said that as per the Kasturirangan report, commercial mining and polluting industries would be strictly banned in areas identified as eco sensitive zones.
The Kasturirangan panel has sought to balance the two concerns of development and environment protection.
The Kasturirangan panel was set up to study the Gadgil committee report on the Western Ghats.
The Gadgil panel report had faced unanimous opposition from state governments for recommending that almost three-fourth of the hills, including plantations, cultivated lands and large habitations, be turned into a restricted development zone.
The Kasturirangan report seeks to bring just 37% of the Western Ghats under the Ecologically Sensitive Area (ESA) zones — down from the 64% suggested by the Gadgil report.
Recommended prohibition on development activities and commercial activities like mining, thermal power plants, polluting industries and large housing plans in Ecologically Sensitive Area (ESA) zones.
The villages falling under ESA will be involved in decision making on the future projects. All projects will require prior-informed consent and no-objection from the gram sabha (village council) of the village.
A complete ban on mining activity in this zone and current mining activities should be phased out within five years.
It has not recommended a ban on hydroelectric projects in the zone, but put a regime of stricter
clearances for dams and other projects.
For dams, it has demanded an uninterrupted ecological flow of at least 30% level of the rivers flow. Also, not more than 50% of the river basin should be affected affected at any time.
It has also favoured a new authority to regulate the region’s development and economic growth.
INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM ON ANTARCTIC EARTH SCIENCES
Goa hosted the 12th International Symposium on Antarctic Earth Sciences (ISAES), from July 13 to 17.
India currently has two permanent stations, Maitri and Bharati, in Antarctica. The first Indian station, Dakshin Gangotri, located on shelf ice is now buried and lost.
NATIONAL RENEWABLE ENERGY FUND
ARTIFICIAL BREEDING OF GREAT INDIAN BUSTARD
Under an integrated collaborative effort, the Union ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change
(MoEFCC) along with the state governments of Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra will soon undertake an artificial breeding programme for the Great Indian Bustard (GIB).
To boost the population of the species as it is critically endangered species currently. Lack of protection and rampant hunting have been the main reasons for the decline in its population.
The operations to artificially breed GIBs will commence next year and take place across the three states.
Great Indian bustard
A large bird with a horizontal body and long bare legs giving it an ostrich like appearance.
This bird is among the heaviest of the flying birds.
As few as 250 individuals were estimated in 2011.
Now found in central India, western India and eastern Pakistan
Habitat: Arid and semi-arid grasslands, open country with thorn scrub, tall grass interspersed with cultivation. It avoids irrigated areas.
INDIA AND WORLD / INTERNATIONAL
Meaning “The Youth”, or “The Youngsters”, is an Islamist terrorist group based in Somalia. Al-Shabaab describes itself as waging jihad against “enemies of Islam”, and is engaged in combat against the TFG (Transitional Federal Govt.) and the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM).
MALDIVES JOINS SILK ROAD PROJECT
The Maldives has joined China’s 21st Century Maritime Silk Road project, becoming the second nation in India’s backyard after Sri Lanka to sign up for the multi-billion infrastructure scheme floated by Beijing to firm-up its influence in the region.
The Chinese hope to revive a maritime route that would start from its Fujian province, cross the Malacca Straits and transit through the Indian Ocean via India, Sri Lanka, Maldives, and Nairobi in Kenya. It would finally cross the Mediterranean via the Suez Canal to terminate at Venice. Venice would also be end of the New Silk Route a land corridor that would start in Xian in China and travel through Central Asia, before entering Europe.
INDIAN OCEAN ZONE OF PEACE (IOZOP):
U.N. General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution 2832 (XXVI) declaring the Indian Ocean as a zone of peace, and which has called upon the great powers not to allow an escalation and an expansion of military presence in the Indian Ocean.
CHINA READIES SEA-BASED NUCLEAR DETERRENT AGAINST U.S.
INDIA, GERMANY INK GREEN ENERGY PACT
The Green Energy Corridor Project is an upcoming project which aims at synchronising electricity produced from renewable sources, such as solar and wind, with conventional power stations in the grid
Inter State: To be developed by State utilities
Intra State: To be developed by Power Grid Corporation of India (PGCIL)
Germany, who has expertise in making smart grids that integrate renewable energy into national grid, will be assisting India in this project. Germany has promised provide developmental and technical assistance of €1 billion for the project.
Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) alternatively referred to as the Pakistani Taliban, is an umbrella organization of various Islamist militant groups based in the northwestern Federally Administered Tribal Areas along the Afghan border in Pakistan. Most, but not all, Pakistani Taliban groups coalesce under the TTP. On 16 December 2014, 9 members of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) conducted a terrorist attack on the Army Public School in the Pakistani city of Peshawar
Britain will broaden its military footprint in West Asia with the establishment of a permanent military base at the Mina Salman Port in Bahrain
India’s low ranking among BRICS countries in the “economic impact” sub-index. Affordability is India’s biggest concern as the cost of broadband access in the country is greater than in countries in the neighbourhood such as Bangladesh.
INDIA- BANGLADESH LAND BOUNDARY DISPUTE
It was an agreement signed on May 16, 1974, soon after the independence of Bangladesh, to find a solution to the complex nature of border demarcation. The borders of the Indian States of Assam, West Bengal, Meghalaya and Tripura will be affected by this exchange of territory. There are 111 Indian enclaves in Bangladesh; India has 51 Bangladeshi enclaves
The Constitution (119th Amendment) Bill, 2013 was introduced in the Rajya Sabha on December 18, 2013. The Bill amends the First Schedule of the Constitution to give effect to an agreement entered into by India and Bangladesh.
The India-Bangladesh Agreement was signed in 1974, but was not ratified as it involved transfer of territory which required a Constitutional Amendment.
15TH INDIA-RUSSIA ANNUAL SUMMIT
India and Russia on 11 December 2014 signed 20 agreements during the 15th India-Russia Annual Summit held in New Delhi. The agreements signed included eight agreements between government entities and 12 between private enterprises.
Druzhba-Dosti vision statement
Russian oil giant ROSNEFT and Russia’s state-owned Rosatom for Nuclear energy.
The Golden Triangle is a region in Northern Thailand, Laos and Myanmar that is infamously known as a production region of drugs.
The Golden Crescent is the name given to Asia’s principal area of illicit opium production, located at the crossroads of Central, South, and Western Asia. This space overlaps three nations, Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan.
PALESTINE TO JOIN INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Palestine will join the International Criminal Court (ICC) on April 1, 2015.
NEPAL TO JOIN SILK ROAD ECONOMIC BELT
Nepal formally signed a four-point document endorsing the Silk Road Economic Belt for connecting Asia with Europe along a land corridor, with China as its hub. Nepal and China “have agreed to revive the old Silk Road that runs from Lhasa to Kathmandu to Patna”.
13THPRAVASI BHARATIYA DIWAS
PravasiBharatiya Divas (PBD) is celebrated on 9th January every year to mark the contribution of Overseas Indian community in the development of India. External Affairs and Overseas Indian Affairs Minister inaugurated the Youth PravasiBharatiya Divas in Gandhinagar, as a precursor to the main Pravasi Bharatiya Divas. The minister cited the importance of three ‘Cs’ in bringing about synergy among Indians worldwide: Come, Connect, and Contribute.
The 13th edition of PBD marked the 100th year of Mahatma Gandhi’s return to India from South Africa.
The chief guest of the 13th PBD was Guyana President Donald Ramotar. The theme of 2015 PBD was Bharat kojano and Bharat komano.
VISIT OF US PRESIDENT
The breakthrough on the nuclear deal – 10 years after the agreement was negotiated and six years after it was signed – paves the way for American companies to set up civil nuclear reactors, which India hopes will contribute to its energy security.
Both the leaders claimed to have broken the logjam over the Indo-US nuclear deal – after overcoming key hurdles related to the liability of suppliers of nuclear reactors in the event of an accident and tracking of fuel supplied by the US.
A nuclear risk management fund, worth Rs 1,500 crore, will be created to cover operators and suppliers. This will be led by five Indian public-sector insurance firms, which will together contribute Rs 750 crore to the pool (the rest will be provided by the government).
India also won U.S. assurances of support for its membership in four nuclear regimes: the Nuclear Suppliers Group, Wassenaar Arrangement, Australian Group and the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).
INDIA, U.S. SIGN THREE MOUS ON SMART CITIES
India and United States signed three Memoranda of Understandings (MoUs) to give a boost to the Centre’s flagship ‘smart cities’ scheme.
The U.S. has agreed to partner with Indian in developing three smart cities in Allahabad, Ajmer, and Visakhapatnam.
As per the pacts, the U.S. will assist the cities in project planning, infrastructure development, feasibility studies and capacity building.
Ansar Allah (“Supporters of God”), more commonly known as the Houthis , are a Zaidi Shia group operating in Yemen. The group takes its name from Hussein Badreddin alHouthi, who launched an insurgency in 2004. Houthis’ rebellion began in September 2014, when they advanced on the capital and seized control of much of Yemen.
RUSSIA-INDIA-CHINA (RIC) GROUPING
The Russia India China (RIC) summit 2015 was held in Beijing. The statement calls for a security architecture in Asia that must be “open, inclusive, indivisible and transparent”.
Groups claiming allegiance to IS control the coastal cities of Sirte and Darna, and have a presence in at least three other locales, including Tripoli and Benghazi, the birthplace of Libya’s 2011 uprising
The Kokangpeople are an ethnic group of Burma .They are Mandarinspeaking Han Chinese living in Kokang, administered as Kokang Special Region.
PERSONS WITH ALBINISM
Albinism is a hereditary genetic condition which causes a total absence of pigmentation in the skin, hair and eyes. It affects one Tanzanian in 1,400, often as a result of inbreeding.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights harshly condemned the murder and mutilation of a toddler with albinism in Tanzania.
Body parts of persons with albinism are used for witchcraft in the country.
Attacks on people with albinism, which are often motivated by the use of body parts for witchcraft rituals, had claimed the lives of at least 75 people since 2000.
Body parts of people with albinism sell for around $600 in Tanzania, with an entire corpse fetching $75,000, according to the UN.
SCO: RUSSIA TO PUSH FOR INDIA’S FULL MEMBERSHIP
The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation or SCO or Shanghai Pact is a Eurasian political, economic and military organisation which was founded in 2001 in Shanghai by the leaders of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
These countries, except for Uzbekistan, had been members of the Shanghai Five, founded in 1996; after the inclusion of Uzbekistan in 2001, the members renamed the organisation.
PRIME MINISTER VISIT OF INDIA OCEAN COUNTRIES
India seeks a future for Indian Ocean that lives up to the name of ‘SAGAR — Security and Growth for All in the Region’.
Given that the Indian Ocean channels carry two-thirds of the world’s oil shipments, a third of the bulk cargo and half of all container traffic, the region’s strategic significance is unquestionable. Also to counter china’s presence in Indian Ocean require strategic relation with our extended neighbourhood
INDIA AND MAURITIUS RELATIONS
Mauritius celebrates its National Day on March 12 as a mark of respect to Mahatma Gandhi, who began his Dandi march on this day in 1930.
An India-built naval patrol vessel ‘Barracuda’ for Mauritius was commissioned by Prime Minister NarendraModi who said it will make the Indian Ocean “more safer and secure.
INDIA AND SEYCHELLES RELATIONS
Seychelles is a part of the Pan African e-Network project between India and the African Union.
Apart from its strategic location on international sea lanes of communication, Seychelles is a leader among SIDS group (Small Island Developing States) which has multifold areas of convergence with India.
Assumption Island, which India leased from Seychelles, has been voted multiple times of having the best beach in the world.
‘Dakshinayan’ is a step in the right direction to secure and generate confidence in India’s extended neighbourhood and the success of the Seychelles trip spells good omen for Indian efforts in connecting dots, with no string (of pearls) attached
INDIAN OCEAN RIM ASSOCIATION (IORA)
The Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), formerly known as the Indian Ocean Rim Initiative and Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC), is an international organisation consisting of coastal states bordering the Indian Ocean.
It is based on the principles of Open Regionalism for strengthening Economic Cooperation particularly on Trade Facilitation and Investment, Promotion as well as Social Development of the region. The Coordinating Secretariat of IORA is located at Ebene, Mauritius.
The objectives of IORA are as follows:
To promote sustainable growth and balanced development of the region and member states
To focus on those areas of economic cooperation which provide maximum opportunities for development, shared interest and mutual benefits
To promote liberalisation, remove impediments and lower barriers towards a freer and enhanced flow of goods, services, investment, and technology within the Indian Ocean rim.
The Association comprises 20 member states and six dialogue partners.
WHO ARE THE HOUTHIS?
The Houthis are followers of the Shia Zaidi sect, the faith of around a third of Yemen’s population.
Officially known as Ansarallah (the partisans of God), the group began as a movement preaching
tolerance and peace in the Zaidi stronghold of North Yemen in the early 1990s.
The group launched an insurgency in 2004 against the then ruler Ali Abdullah Saleh that lasted till 2010.
They participated in the 2011 Arab Spring inspired revolution in Yemen that replaced Saleh with
Abdrahbu Mansour Hadi.
Saudi Arabia, spearheaded a coalition of nine Arab states, began carrying out airstrikes in neighbouring Yemen on 25 March 2015, heralding the start of a military intervention in Yemen, codenamed Operation Decisive Storm. The airstrikes that followed have transformed Yemen into another arena for the regional struggle between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
‘Operation Rahat’, a rescue operation to evacuate civilians stuck in strife-torn Yemen.
The Indian government spared no efforts in evacuating Indians from Yemen as fighting raged between the Houthi rebels and the Yemen government supported by aerial bombardment from the Saudi-led coalition.
IRAN, WORLD POWERS REACH NUCLEAR ACCORD
Iran and the P-5+1 grouping of Security Council members and Germany reached an important
breakthrough, as they agreed on the “framework for a draft plan of action” that would be ready by June
30th this year.
The plan of action states clearly the number of enrichment plants and centrifuges Iran will have access
to, as well as the verification needed by the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency, while outlining in
what stages financial sanctions would be lifted from Iran.
ACCORDING TO THE DRAFT AGREEMENT, THE FOLLOWING STEPS WILL BE TAKEN BY BOTH
Iran will reduce the number of installed centrifuges by two-thirds
Bring uranium stocks down from 10,000 kg to 300 kg LEU (low-enriched uranium) and
Turn its nuclear facility in Fordow into an R&D facility for 15 years.
All the excess stockpile and nuclear parts will be kept at an IAEA-monitored location.
The U.N., the U.S. and the EU will withdraw all sanctions that have crippled the Iranian economy for
ASIAN INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT BANK (AIIB)
The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is an international financial institution proposed by the
government of China.
The purpose of the multilateral development bank is to provide finance to infrastructure projects in
the Asia region.
AIIB is regarded by some as a rival for the IMF, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB),
which are regarded as dominated by developed countries like the United States.
AIIB was formally inaugurated in Beijing on October 21, 2014 with 21 founding-members including
China, India, Pakistan, Singapore and Vietnam.
India is the second largest shareholder of the bank after China.
AIIB will have a subscribed capital of $50 billion, which will eventually rise to $100 billion. In comparison,
the subscribed capital of the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) are $223 billion and
$165 billion respectively.
CHINA’S ‘ONE BELT ONE ROAD’ INITIATIVE
One Belt, One Road also known as the Belt and Road Initiative; is a Chinese framework for organizing
multinational economic development through two component plans, the land-based “Silk Road
Economic Belt” (SREB) and ocean going “Maritime Silk Road” (MSR).
The “belt and road” have two components—the Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB) that would be
established along the Eurasian land corridor from the Pacific coast to the Baltic Sea, and the 21st
century Maritime Silk Road (MSR).
The SREB focuses on bringing together China, Central Asia, Russia and Europe (the Baltic); linking
China with the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean Sea through Central Asia and West Asia; and
connecting China with Southeast Asia, South Asia and the Indian Ocean.
The 21st-Century MSR, in turn is designed to go from China’s coast to Europe through the South
China Sea and the Indian Ocean in one route, and from China’s coast through the South China Sea
to the South Pacific in the other.
SHAPING TERRORIST ORGANIZATIONAL NETWORK EFFICACY(STONE)
The University of Maryland’s Laboratory for Computational Cultural Dynamics has developed a
programme titled STONE or Shaping Terrorist Organizational Network Efficacy.
The programme uses a combination of network analysis tools, unique properties of individuals in the
network, and “big data” analytics to identify the most critical nodes in a network.
It also finds out how networks adjust to the removal of a node or nodes.
STONE has so far been applied to open-source data on Hamas, Hezbollah, al-Qaeda and LeT. Using past
instances when leaders of terrorist organisations were replaced, one of STONE’s top three predictions
has been to accurately pinpoint the successor to a removed terrorist in over 80 per cent of the cases.
INDIA AND IRAN MOU ON CHABAHAR
Chabahar port is located in Sistan-Balochistan Province on Iran’s southeastern coast and is of great strategic utility for India which will get sea-land access route to Afghanistan bypassing Pakistan. The portis seen as aa possible counter-balance to Gwadar port in Pakistan, which is now operated entirely by China.
From Chahbahar port using the existing Iranian road network, a link up to Zaranj in Afghanistan and then using the Zaranj-Delaram road constructed by India in 2009, access to Afghanistan’s Garland Highway can be made.
INDIA AND MONGOLIA RELATIONS
To rediscover the shared cultural heritage, both Prime Ministers agreed to initiate a joint translation
project of “Holy Tripitaka” into Mongolian language.
INDIA AND SOUTH KOREA RELATIONS
Prime minister said South Korea is the second country (after Japan) with which India will have a
diplomatic and security dialogue in 2+2 format, referring to a bilateral dialogue process involving the
foreign and defence ministers of the two sides.
GCC SUMMIT 2015
The Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf , known as the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), is a regional intergovernmental political and economic union consisting of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.
The GCC has been holding two summits annually since 1999. The formal summit is held in December on a rotating basis and has a formal agenda. It lasts one or two days depending on the discussions of the issues on the agenda.
The second summit, held in May in Saudi Arabia, is equally important, but it has no formal agenda and discussions are open among the leaders. It usually lasts one day.
The GCC summit 2015 was held in Riyadh on 5 May.
The summit came at a crucial time for the six-nation GCC, with a Saudi-led coalition bombing (Decisive Storm Operation) rebels in Yemen, concerns over the rise of Islamist militants and regional worries over a potential final nuclear deal with Iran.
French President Francois Hollande was the first Western head of state to attend a summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
President Barack Obama met with representatives from all six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries – at Camp David Summit on 14 May 2015 to assuage Gulf Arab fears about both current nuclear negotiations between Iran and a United States-led international coalition and Tehran’s destabilizing activities in the Middle East.
INDIA AND VIETNAM: DEFENCE COOPERATION
During visit of the Vietnamese Minister for National Defence, India and Vietnam signed a Joint Vision Statement on Defence Cooperation for the period 2015-2020.
A MoU on cooperation between the Coast Guards of the two countries was also signed.
The two sides discussed wide ranging issues concerning defence cooperation, including cooperation in the area of maritime security.
Both sides reiterated their commitment to further enhancing the ongoing defence engagements
between the two sides for mutual benefit.
The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has mooted a proposal for a ground station in Vietnam.
Bilateral naval exercise SIMBEX-15 between India and Singapore commenced on 23 May 2015 in Singapore.
This exercise was aimed at strengthening bilateral ties and enhancing inter-operability between navies of the two friendly nations.
Indian side participation: INS Satpura (indigenously built missile stealth frigate), INS Kamorta (the latest and indigenous Anti Submarine Warfare Corvette) and Long Range Maritime Reconnaissance Anti-Submarine (LRMRASW) aircraft P 8I.
PRIME MINISTER’S VISIT TO CHINA
The “sister-city” relationships between Hyderabad and Qingdao and Aurangabad and Dunhuang
2015 and 2016 have been designated ‘Visit India’ and ‘Visit China’ years respectively
Setting up consulates in Chengdu and Chennai,
Building ties between India and yoga colleges in Kunming and Yunnan.
A MoU between Doordarshan and China’s state-run CCTV.
Memorandum of Understanding between ICCR and Fudan University for establishment of centre for Gandhian studies
Prime Minister announced that India has decided to “extend electronic tourist visas to Chinese
INDO – FRENCH NAVAL EXERCISE VARUNA 2015
Fourteenth (14th) edition of Indo-French naval exercise (VARUNA) concluded off Goa. The ten day long exercise commenced on 23 April 2015 and included both a harbour and sea phase.
SCO SUMMIT 2015
THE 15th Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit was held in Ufa, Russia on July 2015. India and Pakistan were accepted as full members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).India, which has had an observer status for the past 10 years, will technically become a member by next year after completion of certain procedures.
The SCO currently has China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan as members.
SIGNIFICANCE OF INDIA’S MEMBERSHIP
It opens up trade, energy and transit routes between Russia and China that pass through Central Asia, that were hitherto closed to India.
Iran’s observer status will ensure the SCO serves as a platform for India to discuss trade through the Iranian ports of Bandar Abbas and Chabahar, and link them to the Russian proposal for a North-South Transport Corridor.
The security grouping provides a platform for India and Pakistan to discuss bilateral issues.
With Russia and China taking the lead, the SCO could even prove a guarantor for projects such as the TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) and IPI (Iran-Pakistan-India) pipelines that India has held off on security concerns.
The SCO summit will provide a valuable interface to engage with Afghanistan’s neighbours
The SCO is an important counter-balance to India’s perceived tilt towards the U.S. and its allies on security issues.
BRICS SUMMIT 2015
The 7th BRICS summit was held in Ufa, Russia on July 2015. The theme of the summit was “Partnership: A powerful factor for global development’, with a firm emphasis on economic cooperation.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi proposed a 10-point initiative calling it ‘Das Kadam: Ten Steps for the Future. The proposed initiatives for the BRICS include a trade fair, a Railway Research Centre, cooperation among supreme audit institutions, a Digital Initiative and an Agricultural Research Centre.
RUSSIA’S NEW NAVAL DOCTRINE
The Russians unveiled their new naval doctrine on board the frigate Admiral Gorshkov, and in the presence of President Vladimir Putin.
Moscow’s naval doctrine that singles out China as its core partner in the Pacific, signaling Moscow and Beijing’s push towards countering the Japan backed “Asia Pivot” of the United States.
OBAMA’S ‘ASIA PIVOT’
Military activity in the Pacific has been accelerating following President Barack Obama’s “Asia Pivot” or “Rebalance” doctrine, which has led Washington to position 60 per cent of its forces in the Pacific. In Beijing, the “Asia Pivot” doctrine is seen as a China-containment policy.
PRIME MINISTER CENTRAL ASIA VISIT:
Prime Minister visited to the five Central Asian States — Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. All central Asian countries are very rich in energy resources
EURASIAN ECONOMIC UNION
The Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU or EEU) is an economic union of states located primarily in
northern Eurasia. A treaty aiming for the establishment of the EEU was signed on 29 May 2014 by the leaders of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia, and came into force on 1 January 2015.
Member states Acceding state- Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia
PRIME MINISTER TO VISIT PAKISTAN