April 24th 2017, Current Affairs

April 24th Current Affairs

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GS II: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes

3rd meeting of Governing Council of NITI Aayog convened by PM

  • 40% increase in overall fund alloction to the States.
  • Plans to change budget presentation date . By the time the funds are trickled down at individual level, the season is already over and monsoon arrives.
  • Discussions have begun on hosting National and State elections simultaneously.
  • NITI Aayog is working on a 15 year long term vision, 7 year medium term vision and 3 year short term vision.
  • States being asked to consider changing the financial year from March-April to Jan-Dec.

About NITI Aayog:

Full Form: National Institution for Transforming India

Established by Cabinet Resolution on 01st January 2015. Supersedes Planning Commission.

Objectives:

  1. Develop a shared vision of national priorities for both Union and State govts to provide impetus to.
  2. Foster Cooperative Federalism through structured support initiatives and mechanisms.
  3. Formulate credible plans at village level and aggregate these progressively at higher levels of government.
  4. National security is kept in mind while formulating economic strategy for areas specifically referred to it.
  5. Pay special attention to those sections of the society not benefiting adequately by economic progress.
  6. To design long term policy and strategy and monitor them and gain feedback for making innovative improvements.
  7. Provide advice and encourage partnerships with stakeholders.
  8. Involve entrepreneurs, practitioners, experts from communities for creating a knowledge support system.
  9. Offer a platform for dispute resolution.
  10. Focus on technology upgradation to enable scheme implementation.

Organisational Framework:

  1. Chairman: Prime Minster
  2. Governing Council of Chief Ministers of States and Lt. Governors of Union Territories.
  3. Regional Council to address specific issues affecting more than one state. Convened and chaired by PM and comprising of Chief Ministers of States and Lt. Governors of Union Territories.
  4. Special invitees (experts, specialists, practitioners etc.) nominated by PM
  5. Vice – Chairperson: Appointed by PM
  6. Members: Full time
  7. Part Time Members: Max of 2 from leading universities or research instutions. Change on rotational basis. Are treated as Ex – Officio.
  8. Ex – Officio members: Max 4 Union Council of Ministers nominated by PM.
  9. CEO: In the rank of Secretary to Govt. of India appointed by PM for a fixed tenure.

Difference between erstwhile Planning Commission & NITI Aayog

  1. NITI does not formulate plans. Acts as an advisory body, an evaluator of the effectiveness of the implentation of the plans. Planning Commission (PC) formulated and monitored as well.
  2. NITI does not allocate funds to states which was done by erstwhile PC.
  3. NITI has a governing council of Chief Ministers with PM as chair. The highlight is cooperative federalism. Greater participation of states to be seen which was not so in Planning Commission. State approached PC once a year to get the budget approved.
  4. NITI has special focus on areas of national security (Eg. those affected by Left Wing Extremism, Maoist ridden areas etc) for which Regional Council has been formed.
  5. NITI offers a platform for dispute resolution.
  6. NITI designs plans from village level whereas PC had a top – down approach.
  7. NITI is more proactive and encourages the use of State of the Art technology for implementing schemes and acts as a resource centre for effective governance
  8. NITI has participation of part time members, specialists and invitees by the PM.

Source: The Hindu, NITI Aayog website

GS II: Indian Economy & Issues relating to planning, mobilisation of resources, growth, development and employment.

Bad Bank a.k.a Public Sector Asset Rehabilitation Agency (PARA)

Terms to be familiar with:

NPA: If the EMI of a loan is not paid back by the borrower consecutively for 3 months this loan becomes non performing and is called a non performing asset or an NPA.

Restructured Advances: To avoid a borrower defaulting on payments of the loan, banks restructure or reschedule the loan and extend the payment period with smaller installment amounts.

Write Off: A write off occurs upon the realization that an asset no longer can be converted into cash, can provide no further use to a business, or has no market value.

Stressed Assets = Gross NPA + Standard Restructured Advances + Write Offs

  • Total Stressed Assets in the Indian Banking system: Rs. 14 Lakh Crores
  • In the wake of the rise of indebtedness in the telecom sector over and above this figure, the RBI has directed banks to increase their Standard Asset Provisioning i.e. banks will have to set aside a higher capital to be deposited with RBI.
  • Highest burden on Public Sector banks.
  • To counter this, the Economic Survey 2016 – 17 has suggested setting up of PARA (Public Sector Asset Rehabilitation Agency) on the lines similar to the private sector’s Asset Reconstruction Companies (ARC’s).
  • ARC basically buys the bad loans from the bank at a lower rate and tries to recover the amount by itself. They raise the money to buy these stressed assets by issuing security receipts to QIB’s  (Qualified Institutional Borrowers).
  • In India, getting this capital to buy the stressed assets poses as the biggest challenge.
  • RBI Dy. Governor Viral Acharya has suggested two options:
    • PAMC – Private Asset Management Company
      • For loans that are recoverable within short to medium term.
      • Ideal for textiles and telecom.
    • NAMC – National Asset Management Company
      • For economically unviable assets from short term to medium term.
      • Industries facing excess capacity which fails to meet utilisation any time soon.
      • Eg: Power
  • The idea was created, achieved and popularised by Korean Asset Management Corporation in 1997.

Source: The Hindu, Investopedia

GS II: Indian Economy & Issues relating to planning, mobilisation of resources, growth, development and employment.

Plans to boost gold export.

  • Jewellery manufacturing in India is at least 2000 years old.
  • 12 out of every 14 diamonds sold are polished or cut in India.
  • By value, India’s market share in 60% and by volume it is 90%.
  • Govt aims to boost its share in the jewellery exports by more than 50% which is currently dominated by manufacturers from Italy, Turkey, Germany & Hong Kong.
  • Global demand, dominated by U.S., leans towards fashion jewellery unlike the Indian preferences for heavily fabricated ones.
  • Hence skill development to design light weight, low cost fashion jewellery needs to by addressed followed by development of infrastructure (machines for large scale production of lightweight jewellery for 7 to 10 karat).
  • Various export promotion measures are being undertaken to boost sales internationally. Eg: setting up a jewellery park in Mumbai, gold craft and design institute at Udupi to reskill workers and promote skill development.

Source: The Hindu

GS II: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability.

GS III: Infrastructure – Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc

‘Logistics & Integrated Transport Board’ proposed.

  • Nodal body proposed for aviation, railways, surface transport and waterways.
  • Will initially work on inter-ministerial coordination to facilitate an efficient multi-modal transport system.
  • Aim is to set up a unified transport ministry to boost internal and external trade and ease of doing business.
  • Will reduce the number of several departments and committees and hence reduce red – tapism.
  • Will be chaired by a Union Cabinet Minister or Secretary to the Government.
  • Will have involvement of important ministries such as Finance, Commerce & Trade, External Affairs.
  • National Transport Development Policy Committee chaired by Rakesh Mohan states that nearly all of the 100 major economies, all of OECD countries and BRICS nations have an integrated Ministry of Transport.
  • In some cases, Ministry of Communications have been merged as well, a category reminescent of India’s post-independence structure.
  • Plans to build more than 35 multi-modal logistics parks by investing more than Rs. 50,000 crores.

This comes at the wake of India’s accession to the UN TIR Convention

About Convention on International Transport of Goods Under Cover of TIR Carnets (TIR Convention)

  • is a multi lateral treaty which removes the need for physical escorts and checks at intermediate borders.
  • Eases congestion at Border Crossing Points.
  • Reduces delays, transportation and costs. Only seal and external conditions of the compartment will be checked.
  • Enhanced security since only approved transporters and vehicles are allowed to operate within the Convention.
  • would be helpful in boosting trade with International “North-South” Transport (INSTC) Corridor and  the Central Asian Republics and other Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), particularly using ports in Iran like the Chabahar port.
    The proposal does not result in any direct financial implication for the Government of India as it pertains to India’s accession to an international convention.

Source: The Hindu, PIB

GS II: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India an/or affecting India’s interests

Fin Min disappointed over delay in quota reforms at the IMF.

  • The 15th GRQ (General Review of Quota) has been pushed to 2019.
  • Currently India’s share of the total quota at the IMF is 2.76%.
  • An increase would mean that India will have more say in the IMF.
  • Also it will reflect the economic realities  specifically with regard to the increasing prowess of developing nations.

Source: The Hindu

GS II: Statutory, Regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies

Slew of reform measures at SEBI.

Under the new chairmanship of Ajay Tyagi, SEBI will see an overhaul of reforms:

  • Strict regulations on Participatory Notes (P – Notes)

What are P-Notes? P-Notes or Participatory Notes are Overseas Derivative Instruments that have Indian stocks as their underlying assets. They allow foreign investors to buy stocks listed on Indian exchanges without being registered. The instrument gained popularity as FIIs, to avoid the formalities of registering and to remain anonymous, started betting on stocks through this route .

It is misused for routing black money from abroad.

  • Easier for banks and financial institutions to get shares of companies they have exposure to by way of conversion of loan into equity.
  • Review the long pending investigations and cases. Place an internal guidance note for dealing with quasi – judicial cases.
  • Allow mutual funds investments through e-wallets.
  • Allow options trading in commodity derivatives.
  • Relaxed rules for registration of foreign investors and
  • granting common license to brokers for dealing in equity and commodities.

Source: The Hindu, Economic Times

GS II: Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

Amendment planned to pin 60 to qualify as senior citizen.

  • To address anomalies in extending benefits to the elderly, an amendment will be brought to the Maintenance & Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 by the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment.
  • Currently the Act defines a senior as a citizen who has attained the age of “60 and above”.
  • Many government agencies manipulate the “and above” clause by adopting different age criteria and extending different benefits.
  • With this amendment, all benefits will be accrued to a senior citizen irrespective of the age above 60.

Source: The Hindu

GS II:Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India an/or affecting India’s interests

BCIM Corridor Meet on April 25-26

:bcim

Image Source: Twitter

Source: The Hindu

What is BCIM?

  • Conceived in 1999 in Kunming as the Kunming Initiative, the capital of Chinese Yunnan province.
  • Is 2,800 km long K2K route (Kunming-Ruili-Bhamo-Lashio-Mandalay-Tamu-Imphal-Sylhet-Dhaka-Kolkata) which was part of the erstwhile historic silk route.
  • According to an initial estimate, the total cost of BCIM-EC projects will be about $22 billion.
  • China devised this zone as all three markets of China, South-East Asia and Asia met at this point.
  • The area is rich in natural resources but poor in development of infrastructure and is characterised by poverty.
  • The common features was seen as the basis of forming a sub – regional grouping that could have cooperation in terms of economic, technological, energy and cultural advancements thus boosting growth.
  • The first ever Joint Study Group meeting on BCIM-EC was held in Kunming in Dec 2013.
  • The last meeting of the BCIM was held in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh in December 2014.
  • India’s enthusiasm plunged slightly after the implementation of CPEC.
  • Important for India:
    • Useful in implementing the Act East policy.
    • Develop the North East Region.
    • Improve ties with Bangladesh.

thus hitting multiple birds with one stone.

NOTE: Not to be confused with BIMSTEC.

Source: The Diplomat

GS II:Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India an/or affecting India’s interests

Australia requests agreement from India similar to LEMOA

What is LEMOA?

  • Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement between India & U.S.
  • LEMOA gives access, to both countries, to designated military facilities on either side for the purpose of refuelling and replenishment.
  • India and the U.S. already hold large number of joint exercises during which payments are done each time, which is a long and tedious process.
  • The agreement will primarily cover four areas — port calls, joint exercises, training and Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief.
  • Any other requirement has to be agreed upon by both sides on a case-by-case basis.

India has stalled giving any affirmation to Australia stating that it is currently waiting for the LEMOA signed with the U.S. to be fully functional and judge the merits and demerits of the same before signing similar agreements with other countries.

The request comes in the wake of China’s increasing presence in the Pacific.

Source: The Hindu

GS III: Linkages between development and spread of extremism

Manipur set to face fuel crisis

  • Kangleipak Communist Party People’s War Group might cut off oil supply to the state by hjacking the oil tankers from Assam.
  • The party is named after Manipur’s ancient name Kangleipak.
  • Has been fighting for sovreignty since 1980’s.
  • Has been banned by the Government of India under section 35 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 for ‘waging war’ against the Indian State.
  • Ambushing of oil by United Naga Council 4 months ago led to black marketing and adulteration of oil.

Source: The Hindu

Prelims: General Science

GS III: Science & Technology – developments and their applications in everyday life

Scientists can now 3D Print Glass objects

  • What is sterelithography?
    • A form of 3D printing technology used for creating models, prototypes, patterns and production parts layer-by-layer using photopolymerisation.
  • What is photopolymerisation?
    • A process by which light causes chains of molecules to link, thus forming polymers.
    • The polymer is later removed room the glass object by heating it.
  • Applications:
    • Will be useful in next generation computer processors.
    • Used to create complex structures from very small optical components.

Source: The Hindu

 

 

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