02, June 2017

1.PM Modi meets President Putin at the 18th Annual India Russia Summit, at St. Petersburg

Source: PIB

18th Annual India Russia Summit at St. Petersburg

Prime Minister Modi recalled his first visit to St. Petersburg as Chief Minister of Gujarat in 2001. He said ties between India and Russia span the spectrum from Culture to Defence (Sanskriti se Suraksha).

India, Russia unveil joint statement to boost economic and trade relations

  • The Prime Minister described the St. Petersburg Declaration, as a benchmark of stability in a turbulent, interdependent and interconnected world.
  • India’s participation as a guest country in SPIEF and it would further deepen economic cooperation between the two nations.
  • Energy cooperation as one of the cornerstones of the relationship between India and Russia, and noted that this cooperation in the nuclear, hydrocarbon, and renewable energy sectors. (the agreement of Units 5 and 6 of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant).
  • Emphasized the role of the private sector in enhancing trade and commerical ties between the two countries, adding that India and Russia are close to achieving the target of 30 billion US dollars worth of investment by 2025.
  • Speaking on the theme of connectivity, the Prime Minister mentioned cooperation between the two countries in the International North South Transport Corridor. Among other initiatives, the Prime Minister mentioned the “bridge to innovation” to promote startups and entrepreneurship, and the forthcoming commencement of discussions on a Free Trade Agreement with the Eurasian Economic Union.
  • Underlining the time-tested strategic dimension of the India Russia relationship, the Prime Minister mentioned the forthcoming first Tri-services exercise – INDRA 2017, between the two countries. Defence production Joint Ventures for the production of Kamov 226 helicopters and frigates were also mentioned. The Prime Minister welcomed Russia’s unconditional support to India on the issue of cross border terrorism.

KNPP

The two units of the plant, with capacity to produce 1000 MW of electricity each, will significantly boost the country’s nuclear power generation. Total power generation from six reactors of KNPP will be 6,000 MW.

  • Unit 1 of the Kudankulam NPP was put into commercial operation in December 2014, and Unit 2, – in late March of this year. Units 3 and 4 of the Kudankulam NPP are under construction. The nominal capacity of Units 1 and 2 is 2000 MW. Unit 1produced over 13 million units of power by January 26 this year.
  • In October 2015, a joint statement between Modi and Putin promised the signing of a General Framework Agreement on the nuclear units by December 2016. After an inter-ministerial group cleared the project, it was sent to the Prime Minister’s Office for approval. But, officials said, the Credit Protocol, or a line of credit that Russia was to provide, proved to be a hurdle.
  • KKNPP was the outcome of an inter-governmental agreement between the erstwhile Soviet Union and India in 1988. It is the single largest nuclear power station in India, situated in Koodankulam in the Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu. Construction on the plant began on 31 March 2002. The reactors are pressurised water reactor of Russian design, model VVER-1000/V-412 referred also as AES-92.
  • The Kudankulam NPP fully meets the requirements of regulations and technical standards of Russia, IAEA and is certified for compliance with the requirements of the European association of operating organizations (European Utility Requirements (EUR), according to Russian officials. KNPP is regarded one of the safest in the world with all post-Fukushima safety requirements being implemented and functioning successfully. The NPP is also protected from natural and technlogical disasters, including earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes even plane crash.

2.Beti Bachao Beti Padhao: Information for All 

Source: PIB

It has come to the notice of Ministry of Women & Child Development (MWCD), Government of India that certain unauthorized sites/organizations/ NGOs/individuals are distributing illegal forms in the name of cash incentive under Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Scheme.

What are the Issues?

  • The scheme has no provision for individual CASH TRANSFER COMPONENT by Government of India.
  • Beti Bachao Beti Padhao scheme focuses on challenging mindsets and deep rooted patriarchy in the societal system, strict enforcement of PC&PNDT Act, advancing education of the girl child: focus is on issues of women empowerment on a life cycle continuum. It is not a DBT (Direct Benefit Transfer) scheme.

Illegal activity 

  • The Ministry of Women & Child Development has taken up this matter with the State Government Authorities where this illegal activity has taken place namely, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal.
  • The warning has been broadcast several times by this Ministry on print media as well as electronic media to this effect. The Ministry had advised that no personal details should be shared in this regard and no one should subscribe to such fraudulent scheme.
  • However, still some people are falling prey to such frauds and paying money or disclose personal details in name of such non-existent benefit being falsely offered in the name of BBBP scheme. The general public is therefore, once again advised not to fall prey into this fake and fraudulent information.

3.INAM-Pro + : The Web Platform for Sale and Purchase of Construction Material and Service

Source: PIB

The Minister of Road Transport & Highways and Shipping Shri Nitin Gadkari launched INAM-Pro +. INAM-Pro+ is an upgraded version of INAM-Pro, the web portal designed by National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd (NHIDCL) and launched by the Ministry two years back as a common platform to bring cement buyers and sellers together.

Key facts:

  • More than 700 construction companies have used INAM-Pro during the last two years.
  • With 37 Cement companies registered on it, the portal facilitated comparison of price, availability of materials etc. and made it very convenient for the prospective buyers to procure cement at reasonable rates in a transparent manner. This reduced the time and effort in preparation of proposals and bid submissions, and helped increase efficiency in procurement of construction materials as one could place orders, obtain price quotes and track them in swift manner on this portal
  • The publicly visible prices have promoted transparency and enhanced ease of doing business. The companies registered on INAM-Pro have a committed supply of 27 million metric tons of cement at a price restricted by predefined ceiling values.
  • INAM-Pro has thus been successful in matching demand with supply, cutting down delays by timely supply of material and providing for online payments, mitigating cost overruns due to price hedging through ceiling price mechanism which allows maximum increment of 10% Year on Year basis and promoting transparency in the market due to publicly visible Prices.
  • INAM-Pro has been highly acclaimed by the construction industry and IT sector and has also been recognized and listed in the Book-on-Innovations “New Beginning” released by Hon’ble PM on the Civil Services Day.

Launching INAM-Pro +, that this portal is very effective in facilitating efficient and transparent procurement of construction material and service. Government organizations, PSUs and other organizations in the sector to make use of this portal.

4.Prestigious APQN Quality Award to NAAC for International Co-operation in Quality Assurance

Source: PIB

  • National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) of India has received prestigious International Award of Asia Pacific Quality Network (APQN) titled “APQN Quality Award 2017 for International Co-operation in Quality Assurance.”
  • APQN Quality Award are among the most prestigious International Awards in quality assurance of higher education.
  • The Conferring of APQN’s International co-operation in QA award to NAAC is recognition of NAAC’s continued efforts as facilitator of quality culture and co-operation within and outside Asia-Pacific region.

5.Press Note on Zika Virus Disease

Source: PIB

Cases of vector borne disease (VBD), mainly Dengue and Chikungunya were noticed in the State of Gujarat during post monsoon period last year. The State Government had accordingly planned fever surveillance, vector surveillance and intense vector control activity.

  • One of the blood samples collected during laboratory surveillance during this period from Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation limits tested positive for Zika virus. This sample was retested at National Institute of Virology, Pune and was further confirmed through positive RT-PCR test and virus sequencing at National Institute of Virology, Pune on 3rd January, 2017.
  • This sample was from a 34-year-old female patient admitted to hospital with complaints of fever following delivery of a healthy baby. She had no travel history to any Zika affected country.

India’s response to Zika Virus Disease outbreak

  • Following the Declaration of Zika virus disease as a Public Health emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) in February,2016, Government has been taking adequate steps to prevent, detect and respond to the situation. The notification for Zika being a PHEIC was withdrawn by WHO on 18th November, 2016. However, India continues to maintain high vigilance and surveillance on the issue.
  • National Guidelines and Action Plan (with scenario based approach) on Zika virus disease have been prepared and shared with the States to prevent outbreak of Zika virus disease and containment of spread in case of any outbreak.
  • An Inter – Ministerial Task Force has been set up under Chairmanship of Secretary (Health & FW) with Secretary (Bio – Technology), Secretary (Department of Health Research) as members.
  • Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) is tracking for clustering of acute febrile illness in the community.
  • In addition to National Institute of Virology, Pune, and NCDC, Delhi, 25 laboratories have been strengthened by Indian Council of Medical Research for laboratory diagnosis.
  • The Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK) is monitoring microcephaly from 55 sentinel sites. As of now, no increase in number of cases / clustering of microcephaly has been reported from these centers.

“Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram

A health initiative “Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram” was launched by UPA Government in February 2013. It is technically called ‘Child Health Screening and Early Intervention Services’.

This programme has been launched under National Rural Health Mission initiated by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, therefore, aims at early detection and management of the 4Ds prevalent in children.

These are

  1. Defects at Birth
  2. Diseases in Children
  3. Deficiency conditions
  4. Developmental Delays including Disabilities.

The initiative is to provide comprehensive healthcare and improve the quality of life of children through early detection of birth defects, diseases, deficiencies, development delays including disability.

  • Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram aims at screening over 27 Crore children from 0 to 18 years for 4 Ds -Defects at birth, Diseases, De­ficiencies and Development Delays including Disabilities. Children diagnosed with illnesses shall receive follow up including surgeries at tertiary level, free-of-cost under NRHM.

Zika virus:

  • Zika virus disease is caused by a virus transmitted primarily by Aedes mosquitoes.
  • People with Zika virus disease can have symptoms including mild fever, skin rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise or headache. These symptoms normally last for 2-7 days.
  • There is scientific consensus that Zika virus is a cause of microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome. Links to other neurological complications are also being investigated.

6.Inauguration of MITS Mega Food Park at Rayagada, Odisha. (Financial Regulator- NABARD)

Source: PIB

The first Mega Food Park in the state of Odisha M/s MITS Mega Food Park Pvt. Ltd. at Rayagada has been inaugurated today the 1st June, 2017 by Smt. Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Hon’ble Minister of Food Processing Industries. This is the 7th Mega Food Park operationalized in the last 3 years by the present government.

Key facts:

  • Ministry of Food Processing Industries is focusing on boosting the food processing industry so that agriculture sector grows exponentially and become a major contributor to doubling the farmer’s income and ‘Make In India’ initiative of the government.
  • To give a major boost to the food processing sector by adding value and reducing food wastage at each stage of the supply chain with particular focus on perishables, Ministry of Food Processing Industries is implementing Mega Food Park Scheme in the country.
  • Mega Food Parks create modern infrastructure facilities for food processing along the value chain from farm to market with strong forward and backward linkages through a cluster based approach.
  • Common facilities and enabling infrastructure is created at Central Processing Centre and facilities for primary processing and storage is created near the farm in the form of Primary Processing Centers (PPCs) and Collection Centers (CCs).
  • Under the Scheme, Government of India provides financial assistance upto Rs. 50.00 Crore per Mega Food Park project.

Food and agro–based processing units and cold chain infrastructure have been brought under the ambit of Priority Sector Lending (PSL) to provide additional credit for food processing activities and infrastructure thereby, boosting food processing, reducing wastage, create employment and increasing farmers’ income.

SAMPADA Scheme

  • Present government is fully committed to providing an environment that is smooth, transparent and easy for investors wanting to start an enterprise in India and in a bid to make India a resilient food economy and the Food Factory of the World the government has made Food Processing a major thrust area of ‘Make in India’.

SAMPADA (Scheme for Agro-Marine Processing and Development of Agro-Processing Clusters) for the period 2016-20 coterminous with the 14th Finance Commission cycle.

The objective of SAMPADA is to supplement agriculture, modernize processing and decrease agri-waste.

  • SAMPADA is an umbrella scheme incorporating ongoing schemes of the Ministry like Mega Food Parks, Integrated Cold Chain and Value Addition Infrastructure, Food Safety and Quality Assurance Infrastructure, etc. and also new schemes like Infrastructure for Agro-processing Clusters, Creation of Backward and Forward Linkages, Creation / Expansion of Food Processing & Preservation Capacities.
  • The SAMPADA is a comprehensive package to give a renewed thrust to the food processing sector in the country. It includes new schemes of Infrastructure for Agro-processing Clusters, Creation of Backward and Forward Linkages and Creation / Expansion of Food Processing & Preservation Capacities aim at development of modern infrastructure to encourage entrepreneurs to set up food processing units based on cluster approach, provide effective and seamless backward and forward integration for processed food industry by plugging gaps in supply chain and creation of processing and preservation capacities and modernization/ expansion of existing food processing units.

7.India’s environment organisations blast Trump’s Paris deal decision

Source: The Hindu

Environmental organisations in India have condemned U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to pull his country out of the Paris Climate accord.

With the U.S. president’s latest assault on the global fight against climate change, meeting the objectives of the Paris Agreement will become an uphill task.

Background:

  • The Paris Agreement is to prevent an increase in the global average temperature, and keep it well below 2°C. The Agreement, considered a landmark move forward, was adopted on December 12, 2015 by 195 Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), replacing its predecessor Kyoto Protocol. The Agreement was finally ratified on November 4, 2016.

US withdrawal from Paris Agreement:

  • The Paris climate agreement gives undue advantage to India and China at the cost of U.S. interests, President Donald Trump said on Thursday, announcing America’s withdrawal from the pact.
  • “For example, under the agreement, China will be able to increase these emissions by a staggering number of years — 13. They can do whatever they want for 13 years. Not us. India makes its participation contingent on receiving billions and billions and billions of dollars in foreign aid from developed countries.

Second largest polluter

  • The U.S. is not only the largest historical emitter of greenhouse gases, but also one the major current emitters. Without the active and ambitious contribution from the U.S., any action to combat climate change under the Paris Agreement will be insufficient by a huge margin.
  • The U.S. is responsible for 21% of the current carbon stock in the atmosphere. It is currently the second largest polluter in the world, and has the highest per capita emissions.
  • Under its climate action plan, the U.S. had pledged to reduce its emissions by 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025. On the 1990 baseline, the U.S. will cut emissions by 13-15% by 2025 and 23-27% by 2030. In comparison, the EU-28 will reduce 40% below 1990 levels by 2030.
  • In its federal budget, the U.S. has announced that there will be no further funding to IPCC and UNFCCC. It has also vowed not to fulfill its support commitment of $2 billion to the Green Climate Fund (GCF).
  • This is not the first time that U.S. is opting out of an international climate agreement. It pulled out of the Kyoto Protocol saying that emerging economies do not have quantified emission targets.

8.SC order enhances rights of landlords

Source: The Hindu

A landlord can continue eviction proceedings against his tenant even after taking possession of the disputed building from the latter, the Supreme Court has held.

“Merely because the landlords have taken possession on the basis of an order for eviction granted on one ground, that does not mean that the surviving grounds have become non-est (is a defence in contract law that allows a signing party to escape performance of an agreement),”  SC

 SC enhances rights of landlords

  • The court was deciding on the interplay between Section 11(4)(iii) and Section 11(4)(iv) of the Kerala Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act, 1965. The judgment was based on a 23-year-old rent dispute case based in Vadakara district in Kerala.
  • Under Section 11 (4) (iii), a tenant can be evicted on the ground that he has other buildings in the same city which would suit the purposes, residential or official, for which he is using the disputed rental building.
  • Under Section 11 (4) (iv), the landlord can seek the eviction of his tenant for the purpose of demolition or reconstruction of the rental building. In the present case, the local rent control court allowed the plea for eviction on the ground of demolition and reconstruction but not on the fact that his tenant was in possession of another building in the same place.
  • The landlord successfully moved the First Appellate Authority for relief also under Section 11 (4) (iii). The tenants moved the Kerala High Court, which held that a landlord cannot continue to seek eviction on various grounds after he has already been granted relief under one, that is under Section 11 (4) (iv) for the purpose of demolition and reconstruction.

9.What is ‘efficient market theory’ in finance?

Source: The Hindu

  • A theory of financial markets that states that asset prices fully reflect all available information in the market.
  • Since, according to the theory, assets are priced to perfection, investors will not be able to exploit discrepancies between price and intrinsic value to earn abnormal profits.
  • Consequently, it should be impossible for investors to earn returns that beat the market, except by assuming higher investment risk.
  • The theory was proposed by American economist and Nobel laureate Eugene Fama in 1970. It has come under criticism lately for ignoring irrationality among investors that can cause wide gaps between price and value for a long time.

10.What is ‘debt monetisation’ in Economics?

Source: The Hindu

  • A term that refers to the purchase of government bonds by the central bank to finance the spending needs of the government.
  • Since the central bank creates fresh money to purchase these bonds in the open market, debt monetisation leads to an increase in total money supply.
  • This, in turn, can lead to higher prices in the economy, which the central bank can counter by selling the bonds that it owns out in the open market. Such bond sales help in sucking excess money out of the economy, thus helping in the control of rising prices.

Definition of monetisation

Monetisation refers to the conversion of an object into money, which means that it is generally accepted as a medium of exchange. Metals are monetised as coins once they are standardised in weight and accepted as money.

Government debt can also be monetised, which occurs when a government replaces its interest-bearing debt with money.

Here is how the process of debt monetisation works.

  • When a government spends in excess of its tax revenue it must borrow from the public. The public purchases this debt because it pays an attractive interest rate. If the government has a significant amount of debt outstanding, it may choose to purchase its own debt with newly printed currency. The government has thereby replaced its interest-bearing debt with money, and has thus monetised part of its debt.
  • Inflation is an unfortunate consequence of debt monetisation. The public was willing to hold the government’s debt as part of its investment portfolio because the debt paid an attractive interest rate, but the same is not true for the newly printed money.
  • A consequence of purchasing debt with money is that now the supply of money exceeds its demand. An attempt to purchase goods and assets with this excess money supply will drive up prices, thus generating inflation. Indeed, debt monetisation to finance a deficit is referred to as inflationary financing of the deficit.

11.Odisha to have first automatic coastal warning for disasters in India

Source: The Hindu

Odisha can warn the vast population residing along its 480 km-long coast by pressing a single button from a control room in the State capital in the event of the occurrence of natural disasters like a tsunami or a cyclone.

  • The State government is all set to commission the ambitious Early Warning Dissemination System (EWDS) that would enable loud sirens go off simultaneously from towers at 122 locations by July.
  • Odisha is the first State in India to have developed an automatic public address system that can be activated along its entire coast. Neighbouring Andhra Pradesh is also building up such capability to face natural calamities.

Project

  • The EWDS comprises of technologies like Satellite-Based Mobile Data Voice Terminals (SBMDVT), Digital Mobile Radio (DMR), Mass Messaging System (MMS) and Universal Communication Interface (UCI) for inter-operability among different communication technologies.
  • The project, which is being implemented with assistance from the World Bank, will have towers in 22 blocks under six coastal districts such as Balasore, Bhadrak, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Puri and Ganjam at an estimated cost of ₹ 82 crore.



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