08&09, October 2017

IAF’s first three women fighter pilot may fly MiG-21 Bisons

  • The first three women fighter pilots of the country are likely to fly the MiG-21 Bison jets, one of the potent combat aircraft in the IAF’s armoury.
  • The three women pilots — Avani Chaturvedi, Bhawana Kanth and Mohana Singh are set to script history next month when they will fly military jets after completing a strenuous training programme within three weeks.
  • The three women were commissioned as flying officers in July last year, less than a year after the government decided to open the fighter stream for women on an experimental basis.

1.Indian Navy Foils Piracy Attempt in Gulf OF Aden

Source: PIB

INS Trishul thwarts pirate attack on Indian ship in Gulf of Aden

  • An Indian warship, stealth frigate INS Trishul, thwarted a piracy attempt on a merchant vessel Jag Amar in a swift operation by deploying an armed helicopter and marine commandos in the Gulf of Aden.
  • INS Trishul closed the boat for investigation and launched her integral helicopter to investigate. The skiff was carrying items identified as piracy triggers and some small arms with ammunition. Marine commandos boarded the pirate boat and neutralised all piracy triggers in accordance with Standard Operating Procedures.
  • The merchant vessel Jag Amar with all 26 Indian crew is safe and is continuing her passage. The skiff and her crew were released.


  • The Indian Navy has been deploying a warship in the waters in and around the Gulf Of Aden since 2008 and has safely escorted hundreds of merchant vessels through these treacherous waters.
  • Indian ships are mandated to prevent piracy and are not mandated for regional law enforcement.
  • The actions taken by the ship are the rationale for the continued deployment of Indian ships for anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden.

Gulf of Aden:

  • The Gulf of Aden is a gulf located in the Arabian Sea between Yemen, on the south coast of the Arabian Peninsula, and Somalia in the Horn of Africa.
  • In the northwest, it connects with the Red Sea through the Bab-el-Mandeb strait, which is more than 20 miles (32 kilometres) wide.
  • It shares its name with the port city of Aden in Yemen, which forms the northern shore of the gulf.
  • Historically, the Gulf of Aden was known as “The Gulf of Berbera”, named after the ancient Somali port city of Berbera on the south side of the gulf. However, as the city of Aden grew during the colonial era, the name of “Gulf of Aden” was popularised.
  • The waterway is part of the important Suez Canal shipping route between the Mediterranean Sea and the Arabian Sea in the Indian Ocean with 21,000 ships crossing the gulf annually.

2.Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan Scheme

Source: PIB

Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan’ (PMGDISHA) to make 6 crore rural households digitally literate

The outlay for this project is Rs.2,351.38 crore to usher in digital literacy in rural India by March,.2019. This is in line with the announcement made by Finance Minister in the Union Budget 2016-17.

Key facts:

  • Digitally literate persons would be able to operate computers/digital access devices (like tablets, smart phones, etc.), send and receive emails, browse internet, access Government Services, search for information, undertaking cashless transactions, etc. and hence use IT to actively participate in the process of nation building.
  • The implementation of the Scheme would be carried out under the overall supervision of Ministry of Electronics and IT in active collaboration with States/UTs through their designated State Implementing Agencies, District e-Governance Society (DeGS), etc.


  • As per the 71st NSSO Survey on Education 2014, only 6% of rural households have a computer. This highlights that more than 15 crore rural households (@ 94% of 16.85 crore households) do not have computers and a significant number of these households are likely to be digitally illiterate.
  • The PMGDISHA being initiated under Digital India Programme would cover 6 crore households in rural areas to make them digitally literate. This would empower the citizens by providing them access to information, knowledge and skills for operating computers / digital access devices.
  • As the thrust of the Government is on cashless transactions through mobile phones, the course content would also have emphasis on Digital Wallets, Mobile Banking, Unified Payments Interface (UPI), Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) and Aadhaar Enabled Payment System (AEPS), etc.

3.India Energy Forum by CERAWEEK

Source: PIB

The Forum serves as a catalyst for the development of a sustainable and competitive energy sector in India. India’s energy requirements are enormous and the demand is growing but our resources are limited both in physical and financial terms.

  • It is a long term imperative that these resources are exploited optimally. India is attracting significant attention from major overseas project developers, equipment suppliers and financiers.
  • The India Energy Forum by CERAWEEK is being led by Dr Daniel Yergin, one of the leading thinkers on oil and gas, and has brought together representatives of global and Indian oil and gas industry. It is not only recognition of the potential of Indian oil and gas sector but also has two way benefits of closer engagement between the members of global hydrocarbon business community.

Key facts:

  • It is a long term imperative that these resources are exploited optimally. India is attracting significant attention from major overseas project developers, equipment suppliers and financiers. However, there remain difficult issues to be resolved before these projects become a reality. The Forum tries to bring, Government institutions, policy makers, and multi-national agencies in an attempt to identify and resolve problems, which impede the development of projects in India.
  • The Forum serves as an independent advocate of the industry promoting practical solutions to problems affecting project development and finance in India.
  • The Forum works with companies and Government (Centre and States) to achieve consensus on such issues as regulatory structures and policies and the role of public organizations. In addition, the Forum works closely with multilateral and domestic companies and agencies to ensure that their products and services are responsive to the needs of the project development in India.

4.PM Modi launches ‘Intensified Mission Indradhanush’

Source: PIB

Through the ‘Intensified Mission Indradhanush’ or IMI, the government aims to reach every child below the age of two years and pregnant women still uncovered under the routine immunisation programme.

Key facts:

  • Through this programme, Government of India aims to reach each and every child under two years of age and all those pregnant women who have been left uncovered under the routine immunisation programme.
  • The special drive will focus on improving immunization coverage in select districts and cities to ensure full immunization to more than 90% by December 2018.
  • The achievement of full immunisation under Mission Indradhanush to at least 90% coverage was to be achieved by 2020 earlier. With the launch of IMI, achievement of the target has now been advanced.
  • The programme in order to make all efforts to reduce maternal and child mortality.

Intensified Mission Indradhanush

  • Intensified Mission Indradhanush will have inter-ministerial and inter-departmental coordination, action-based review mechanism and intensified monitoring and accountability framework for effective implementation of targeted rapid interventions to improve the routine immunization coverage.
  • IMI is supported by 11 other ministries and departments, such as Ministry of Women and Child Development, Panchayati Raj, Ministry of Urban Development, Ministry of Youth Affairs among others.
  • The convergence of ground level workers of various departments like ASHA, ANMs, Anganwadi workers, Zila preraks under National Urban Livelihood Mission (NULM), self-help groups will be ensured for better coordination and effective implementation of the programme.
  • Intensified Mission Indradhanush would be closely monitored at the district, state and central level at regular intervals. Further, it would be reviewed by the Cabinet Secretary at the National level and will continue to be monitored at the highest level under a special initiative ‘Proactive Governance and Timely Implementation (PRAGATI)’.
  • These plans are reviewed from state to central level with an aim to reach 90% coverage by December 2018.

5.2017 Nobel Prize for Economics

Source: Indian Express

  • The Nobel Prize for Economics was on Monday awarded to Richard H Thaler. Thaler is professor at the University of Chicago for his “contribution to behavioural economics”.
  • Born 1945 in East Orange, Professor Thaler has been awarded the Nobel Prize for his work on integrating economics with psychology. In a statement, issued, the The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said that the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences, in memory of Alfred Nobel 2017, has been awared to Richard H Thaler for having incorporated psychologically realistic assumptions into analyses of economic decision-making.
  • By exploring the consequences of limited rationality, social preferences, and lack of self-control, he has shown how these human traits systematically affect individual decisions as well as market outcomes.

6.Why do we need external benchmarks while pricing loans?

Source: The Hindu

An internal Study Group constituted by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has recommended that banks should set interest rates based on an external benchmark and not as per internal benchmarks as is the practice now.

What is the need for external benchmarks?

  • The Study Group has found that the present loan pricing regime, that is, the marginal cost of fund based lending rate (MCLR) or the base rate under the previous regime were both calculated based on banks’ internal factors such as cost of funds.
  • They are insensitive to changes in the policy interest rate or repo rate.
  • Analyses by the group suggested that banks deviated in an ad hoc manner from the specified methodologies for calculating the base rate and the MCLR to either inflate the base rate or prevent the base rate from falling in line with the cost of funds.

What external benchmarks are available?

  • The study group has cited 13 possible candidates as external benchmarks: the weighted average call rate (WACR), collateralised borrowing and lending obligation (CBLO) rate, market repo rate, 14-day term repo rate, G-sec yields, T-Bill rate, certificates of deposit (CD) rate, Mumbai interbank outright rate (MIBOR), Mumbai inter-bank forward offer rate (MIFOR), overnight index swap (OIS) rate, Financial Benchmark India Ltd. (FBIL) CD rates, FBIL T-Bill rates and the Reserve Bank’s policy repo rate.
  • The report also said that no instrument in India met all the requirements of an ideal benchmark.
  • However, the group shortlisted 3 candidates from these 13 — one of which could be selected by RBI as external benchmarks after receiving feedback from all stakeholders. The Study Group is of the view that the T-Bill rate, the CD rate and the RBI’s policy repo rate are better suited than other interest rates to serve the role of an external benchmark.

From when will the external benchmark come into effect?

  • The Study Group has recommended that all floating rate loans extended beginning April 1, 2018 could be referenced to one of the three external benchmarks selected by RBI.
  • The report said banks may be advised to migrate all existing loans to the new benchmark without any conversion fee or any other charges for switchover on mutually agreed terms within one year from the introduction of the external benchmark, i.e., by end-March 2019.

What will the spread be?

  • The Study Group was of the view that the decision on the spread over the external benchmark should be left to the commercial judgment of banks. However, the spread fixed at the time of sanction of loans to all borrowers, including corporates, should remain fixed all through the term of the loan, unless there is a clear credit event necessitating a change in the spread.

What is the reset clause?

  • The group suggested quarterly interest rate resets as opposed to a one-year reset as practised now for improvement in monetary transmission.

Will deposits also be linked to the external benchmark?

  • The report said banks may be encouraged to accept deposits, especially bulk deposits at floating rates linked directly to one of the three external benchmarks.
  • The new State Bank of India chairman Rajnish Kumar has already expressed the need to move deposits rates to an external benchmark, in case loan prices are based on such benchmarks.

6.China swears by 1890 border treaty with Britain

Source: The Hindu

China Asks India To Abide By ‘Historic’ Border Treaty, ‘Face The Facts’

  • China wants India to abide by the provisions of the 1890 UK-China treaty which it claims demarcated the Sikkim sector of the India-China border.

Key facts:

  • The ministry did not directly name the 1890 Britain-China treaty which Beijing often referred to during the Dokalam standoff stating that it has defined the Sikkim section of the boundary with Tibet, therefore the border in that area has been settled.
  • Minister visited the Nathu La area on the India-China border and interacted with Army and Indo-Tibetan Border Police officials. Nathu La is the last post separating the border between the Sikkim on the Indian side and Tibet on the Chinese side.
  • Of the 3,488km India-China border which stretches from Jammu and Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh, a 220km section falls in Sikkim. The two sides have so far held 19 rounds of Special Representatives’ talks to resolve the dispute.
  • The Doklam standoff began on 16 June over the PLA’s plans to build a road in the area claimed by Bhutan after which Indian troops intervened to stop the construction as it posed a security risk to the ‘Chicken’s Neck’—the narrow corridor connecting India with its northeastern states. China, which earlier opened the Nathu La route for Indian pilgrims to visit Kailash and Manasarovar, closed it after the Doklam standoff and is yet to reopen it.
  • While the 1890 Sikkim-Tibet treaty backs China’s claims on the trijunction being located farther south at Mount Gipmochi – which Beijing uses to claim 89 sq km in the Doklam plateau – India has only affirmed this treaty insofar as “the basis of alignment” of the India-China border in Sikkim, based on watershed, and not the treaty’s other aspects.


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