12 – 13 , February 2017

1.Hunar Haat:
Source : Pib

  • The second edition of Hunar Haath has begun in New Delhi.
  • It is being organized by the Minority Affairs Ministry to encourage, promote and provide national and international market to master artisans/craftsmen belonging to the Minority communities from across the country.
  • Theme: “Craft Aur Cuisine Ka Sangam”.
  • “Hunar Haat” is being organized through National Minorities Development & Finance Corporation (NMDFC) under USTTAD (Upgrading the Skills & Training in Traditional Arts/Crafts for Development) scheme of Ministry of Minority Affairs.

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2.The World Radio Day – Feb 13th
Source : Pib

The World Radio Day is observed every year on 13th February to celebrate radio as the medium for entertainment, information and the mode for communication.

2017 Theme: “Radio is You”.

About World Radio Day
The UNESCO at its 36th General Assembly in 2011 had proclaimed 13th February as World Radio Day. It was subsequently adopted as an International Day by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). On this day in 1946, United Nations Radio had transmitted (broadcasted) its first call sign. The first WRD was officially celebrated in 2012.

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3.Government appoints Ajay Tyagi as new Sebi chief
Source : Pib

The Cabinet Committee on Appointments appointed Ajay Tyagi, an additional secretary in the finance ministry, as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI)

  • Tyagi is a 1984 batch Indian Administrative Service officer of the Himachal Pradesh cadre
  • He will serve as the SEBI chief for five years or until the age of 65, whichever is earlier
  • Tyagi, who will be the ninth SEBI chairman, will take over from U.K. Sinha, the second-longest serving chief of the capital markets regulator after D.R. Mehta

About Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI):

  • SEBI is the statutory regulator for the securities market in India established in 1988. It was given statutory powers through the SEBI Act, 1992.
  • Mandate: Protect the interests of investors in securities, promote the development of securities market and to regulate the securities market. SEBI has is responsive to needs of three groups, which constitute the market, issuers of securities, investors and market intermediaries.
  • It has three functions:
  1. quasi-legislative (drafts regulations in its legislative capacity),
  2. quasi-judicial (passes rulings and orders in its judicial capacity)
  3. quasi-executive (conducts investigation and enforcement action in its executive function).
  • Headquarters: Mumbai, Maharashtra.

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4.National Productivity Week
Source : Pib

The National Productivity Day i
s observed every year on February 12. Besides, February 12-18 is observed as National Productivity week throughout the country.

The main observance of day is organised by National Productivity Council (NPC) for encouraging all stakeholders in implementation of productivity tools and techniques with contemporary relevant themes.

2017 Theme of National Productivity Week: “From Waste to Profits-through Reduce, Recycle and Reuse”.

About National Productivity Council (NPC):

  • NPC is a national level autonomous organization under Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion, Ministry of Commerce & Industry to promote productivity culture in India.
  • It was established as a registered society on 12th February 1958 by the Government with aim to stimulate and promote productivity and quality consciousness across all sectors in the country.
  • It is a tri-partite non-profit organization (NGO) with equal representation from government, employers and workers’ organizations.
  • It also has representatives from technical and professional institutions including members from local productivity councils and chamber of commerce on its Governing Body.
  • It also implements the productivity promotion schemes of Government and carry out programmes of Tokyo based Asian Productivity Organization (APO), an inter-governmental body of which India is founder member.

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5.NBDC annual report: Maoist-hit areas saw 21% rise in IED blasts in 2016
Source: Indian express

Data collated by the National Bomb Data Centre (NBDC) of the National Security Guard

  • Although the government has cited surrenders by Maoist cadres to claim huge successes in areas affected by Left Wing Extremism (LWE), such areas saw a 21 per cent increase in bomb blast incidents in 2016 as compared to 2015
  • Casualties in such incidents went up by almost 60 per cent
  • In fact, 65 per cent of all IED blast casualties occurred in LWE-affected areas
  • The situation in such areas has remained as bad as ever as far as targeting of security forces and civilians through IED blasts are concerned

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6.Single-point military adviser soon
Source : The Hindu

The government is keen on appointing a single-point military adviser within the year to promote synergy among the Services

  • The government is also intent on creating theatre commands for greater interoperability within the Services, which is likely to be an “incremental step”
  • There is general consensus that it is high time India had its single-point military adviser and greater coordination among the three services
  • India had two adversaries who have managed to achieve this and it is not right for India to remain so
  • There are still some differences between the Services on the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS)
  • Other reforms: In addition to the CDS, the government is also looking at various other measures to bring in synergy between the Services
  • This includes set up theatre commands to integrate air, land and sea assets under one operational entity to improve efficiency as well as optimise resource utilisation
  • There is also the long pending issue of specialised commands for special operations, space and cyber domains

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7.Commerce Dept. special arm may drive foreign trade policy
Source: The Hindu

India’s foreign trade strategy and policy is currently being piloted predominantly by the Prime Minister’s Office and External Affairs Ministry

Change needed:
 India’s future trade (policy) model should have the Commerce Department at the helm, supported by ministries including External Affairs and Finance.Also a ‘transformed’ Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) should be the apex body for all trade promotion activities for the country

Trade Service:
 Report makes a strong case for a higher profile for the Indian Trade Service (ITS) in matters of trade policies & systems.At present, the officials belonging to the Indian Administrative Service, Foreign Service and Revenue Service evidently have a relatively superior role over ITS cadre regarding decisions on crucial trade policy matters

DGFT:
A transformed DGFT should be made accountable for all trade promotion activities for India — providing services such as trade representation in foreign countries, research & development, market intelligence, business matchmaking services as well as public relations, advertising and marketing services

Recruit professionals:
 Noting that the DGFT needs to re-skill its resources to be successful, future recruitment should focus on professionals with experience and qualifications in trade and commerce from reputed institutions

Background:

  • The report comes at a time when India’s goods exports have not yet recovered fully from the impact of a prolonged contraction from December 2014 to May 2016, as well as the government’s demonetisation exercise early November.
  • India is currently ranked 130 out of 190 countries in the ease of doing business; and particularly on the parameter of ‘trading across borders’ currently ranked at a dismal 143.
  • It also comes in the backdrop of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) stating in December 2016 that “… the number of new trade-restrictive measures being introduced (by WTO Member countries) remains worryingly high given continuing global economic uncertainty and the WTO’s downward revision of its trade forecasts”.

About DGFT :

  • Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) organisation is an attached office of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and is headed by Director General of Foreign Trade.
  • From its inception till 1991, when liberalization in the economic policies of the Government took place, it has been essentially involved in the regulation and promotion of foreign trade through regulation.
  • Keeping in line with liberalization and globalization and the overall objective of increasing of exports, DGFT has since been assigned the role of “facilitator”. The shift was from prohibition and control of imports/exports to promotion and facilitation of exports/imports, keeping in view the interests of the country.
  • It is responsible for formulating and implementing the Foreign Trade Policy with the main objective of promoting India’s exports.

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8. 2nd PSB Recapitalisation plan on the anvil
Source : The Hindu

The Union Government is planning to come out with ‘Indradhanush 2.0’, a comprehensive plan for recapitalisation of public sector lenders.

Indradhanush 2.0 will be finalised by Reserve Bank of India (RBI) after completion of Asset Quality Review (AQR) which is likely to be completed by end of March 2017.

It aims to clean up the balance sheets of PSBs to ensure banks remain solvent and fully comply with global capital adequacy norms, Basel-III. Besides, revised programme of capitalisation will be also issued as part of it.

Background

  • The RBI had embarked on the AQR exercise from December 2015 and had set a deadline of March 2017 to complete the exercise.
  • As part of it, RBI had asked banks to recognise some top defaulting accounts as non-performing assets (NPAs) and make adequate provisions for them.
  • Under ‘Indradhanush’ roadmap announced in 2015, the Union Government had announced an infusion of Rs. 70,000 crore in state-run banks over four years.
  • Banks also were allowed to raise a further Rs. 1.1 lakh crore from the markets to meet their capital requirement in line with global risk norms, Basel-III.
  • In line with the plan, PSBs were given Rs. 25,000 crore in 2015-16, and a similar amount was earmarked for the current fiscal 2016-17. Besides, Rs. 10,000 crore each will be infused in 2017-18 and 2018-19.

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9.Green drive on blue waters — solar power lights up naval vessel
Source : The Hindu

  • INS Sarvekshak is a naval survey vessel.
  • This warship of the Navy has turned to the sun to generate a share of its on-board power.
  • This ship has innovatively deployed the zero-maintenance solar power system, capable of generating 5.4KW electricity, by customising and installing ‘razor-thin, flexible’ solar panels on the canopy of its telescopic (retractable) helicopter deck.

Challenges

  • Rigid, glass-topped solar panels are unsuitable in the humid, salty marine environment, as they cannot withstand high wind speeds.
  • They were found to be unfit for fitment on ships and they needed to be stationary for the sensors to receive sunlight.
  • Conventional, fume-emitting batteries posed a further challenge, as they are not advisable over turbulent seas

Innovative Deployment

  • Given these constraints, the team then decided on the ‘light weight, extra-thin and flexible panels that would not break’.
  • These panels have been imported from the U.S. through a local vendor.
  • These panels have a maintenance free life for 24 years while the no-fume solid electrolyte batteries have a guaranteed life of 20 years.

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10.Government plans merger of commodity boards
Source : The Hindu

The Commerce Ministry is planning merger of the commodity boards and set up an umbrella organisation in order to improve production and exports of plantation crops like tea, coffee and spices.

Why merge?

 Some of these boards were set up way back in 1940s and their merger could help in harmonising their activities and in turn, enhance the quality and boost exports.

The five commodity boards, under the Ministry of Commerce, are responsible for production, development and export of tea, coffee, rubber, spices and tobacco.

  1. The Coffee Board: A statutory organisation constituted under the Coffee Act, 1942.
  2. Similarly, the Rubber Board was constituted under the Rubber Act, 1947.
  3. Tea Board was set up on 1st April, 1954 under the Tea Act, 1953.
  4. The Tobacco Board was constituted in January, 1976, while the Spices Board was formed in February, 1987.

Background:

  • These crops play an important role in the economic growth as they contribute in the country’s exports and also create huge employment for people.
  • But dip in global demand and prices have impacted shipments of some of these commodities.
  • In December 2016, exports of tea and tobacco recorded positive growth, while shipments of coffee and spices grew by 15 per cent and about 3 per cent, respectively.
  • Agri-products account for over 10 per cent of the country’s total exports.

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11.India’s own interceptor missile soars high
Source : The Hindu

India successfully test-fired what is hailed as a gen-next state-of-the-art interceptor missile from a defence base off Odisha coast recently, achieving a significant milestone in its ongoing Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) programme.

  • The homegrown anti-ballistic missile, dubbed Prithvi Defence Vehicle (PDV), travels at supersonic speed and is capable of destroying targets at a high altitude of more than 120 km in the exo-atmospheric region.
  • Prithvi Defence Vehicle is the interceptor indigenously developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
  • Prithvi Defence Vehicle interceptor missile is capable of killing an incoming missile with a strike range of around 2,000 km outside the earth’s atmosphere.
  • India is the fifth nation in the world to have a robust Ballistic Missile Defence system. Other countries are US, Russia, Israel and China.

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12.Multi-role chopper model to be unveiled at Aero India expo
Source : The Hindu

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) will reveal the mock-up of India’s first indigenous multi-role helicopter at the Aero India exhibition beginning in Bengaluru next week.

Multi-role helicopter

  • It is planned as a twin-engine helicopter in the 10-tonne category, capable of flying at a height of 15,000 feet, and with a range of 500 km. It can perform several tasks, including counter-insurgency operations, casualty evacuation and combat search and rescue.
  • The medium-category helicopter is sought after by the services, and such helicopters have so far been imported

Production on demand

HAL is expected to put up the initial design before the services for their response, and the “design and development will commence based on a firm demand from the Army and the Air Force.”

Other helicopters

HAL is building the 5.5-tonne Advanced Light Helicopter Dhruv, which is operational in large numbers. The Light Combat Helicopter is in an advanced stage of induction and a Light Utility Helicopter is under development

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13.Conference on counter-radicalisation with ASEAN
Source : The Hindu

India is planning to host a conference on counter-radicalisation with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in October 2017.

  • It will provide common platform to countries for sharing experiences and ideas on prevention of radicalisation amid rise of Islamic State and other extremist ideologies.
  • This conference will also help participating countries to learn from each other’s best practices on promoting deradicalisation.
  • It will mainly deal with the growing IS threat and make effort to counter radicalisation and misuse of religion by groups and countries for inciting hatred and terrorism
  • India will also share its experience and also benefit from that of ASEAN countries, especially Malaysia.
  • Besides, more countries may be also invited as observers depending on the interest.
  • UAE will one of such country as it has expertise in deradicalisation that was one of the key areas of discussions during the recent India-UAE bilateral interactions.

 About Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN):

  • ASEAN is a group of 10 South Asian nations is a regional organisation comprising that aims to promote intergovernmental cooperation and facilitates economic integration amongst its members. It came into existence on August 8, 1967 after ASEAN declaration (also known as Bangkok declaration).
  • Motto: “One Vision, One Identity, One Community”.
  • Headquarters: Jakarta, Indonesia.
  • 10 Members: Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Philippines and Thailand were founder countries. Later 5 more countries Brunei Darussalam, Lao PDR, Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam were added. Cambodia was the last entrant added in the group in 1999.
  • Principal aims: (i) Accelerating economic growth, social progress, and sociocultural evolution among its members, (ii) Protection of regional stability and the provision of a mechanism for member countries to resolve differences peacefully.

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14.Union Government plans to invest Rs.2,200 crore in electronic technology start-ups
Source : The Hindu

The Union Government is targeting an investment of about Rs. 2,200 crore in start-ups working on new technologies in the electronic sector under the Electronics Development Fund (EDF) by 2019.

This investment aims at creating an eco-system to make India a global hub for electronics manufacturing. Earlier, Government had approved Rs.681 crore as seed capital for building a total corpus of over Rs 6,800 crore under the EDF meant to support entrepreneurship and innovation in electronics and IT.
About Electronics Development Fund (EDF) :

  • EDF is the mother fund or fund of funds that will contribute to various funds for those who invest the money in companies for creation of intellectual property rights (IPR) in the field of electronics and IT.
  • It works with venture capitalists to create funds, known as ‘daughter funds,’ which provide risk capital to companies developing new technologies in the area of nano-electronics, electronics and IT.
  • It will help attract angel funds, venture funds and seed funds towards research & development (R&D) and innovation in the specified areas.
  • It will also help to create a battery of Fund Managers and Daughter funds who will be seeking good start-ups (potential winners) and selecting them based on professional considerations.

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