12, October 2017

Pondicherry Shark, Red Sea Torpedo and Tentacled Butterfly Ray may have become extinct, fear scientists.

  1. India’s first Sewage Treatment Plant under Hybrid Annuity Mode to come up in Haridwar and Varanasi

Source: PIB

A tripartite agreement has been signed between National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) and the state level executing agencies Uttarakhand Pey Jal Nigam and Uttar Pradesh Jal Nigam, with concessionaires for setting up of India’s first Sewage Treatment Plants under Hybrid Annuity mode, at Haridwar and Varanasi.

  • The agreement is a major step forward in realizing the dream of Nirmal Ganga as it is the first time ever in India that Hybrid Annuity-based PPP mode is being applied in sewerage sector.
  • Under this agreement the maintenance of the project will be the responsibility of the concessionaire for which there will be performance based phased manner of payment. This would ensure continued performance of the sewage infrastructure assets created due to better accountability, ownership and optimal performance.

 What you need to know about the Hybrid Annuity Model?

  • The Government of India had accorded Cabinet approval to Hybrid Annuity-PPP model in January 2016 with 100% central sector funding.
  • Under this model, the development, operation and maintenance of the sewage treatment STPs will be undertaken by a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to be created by the winning bidder at the local level. As per this model, 40% of the Capital cost quoted would be paid on completion of construction while the remaining 60% of the cost will be paid over the life of the project as annuities along with operation and maintenance cost (O&M) expenses.
  • One of the most important features of this model is that both the Annuity and O&M payments are linked to the performance of the STP. This will ensure continued performance of the assets created due to better accountability, ownership and optimal performance.

  1. Cabinet approves change of status for marine body IALA

Source: PIB

Union Cabinet has given its approval for International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (IALA) to change its status from Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) to Inter-Governmental Organization (IGO).

  • The move will facilitate “to foster the safe, economic and efficient movement of vessels”. It will bring IALA at par with International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and International Hydrographic Organisation (IHO).

IALA:

  • The IALA, having headquarters at St. Germainen Laye (France) was established in 1957 under French law. It is governed by a General Assembly having 83 National members, with its Council as the executive body.
  • The IALA council consists of 24 National Members and India is one of the council members represented through the Directorate General of Lighthouses and Lightships (DGLL), Ministry of Shipping.
  • DGLL establishes and maintains Aids to Navigation in general waters along coast of India including A&N and Lakshadweep group of islands, as per Lighthouse Act 1927.

  1. Cabinet approves MoU between India and Belarus for Cooperation in the field of Vocational Education and Training

Source: PIB

Cabinet approves MoU between India and Belarus for Cooperation in the field of Vocational Education and Training

  • The Union Cabinet has given its ex-post facto approval for a Memorandum of Understanding between India and Belarus for cooperation in the field of Vocational Education and Training (VET).
  • This is for the first time an MoU for cooperation in area of vocational education, training and skill development has been signed with Eurasian country.

Significance of this MoU:

  • Belarus has a large concentration of industries, mainly into manufacturing and heavy industries, which draw their strength from available skilled manpower and a highly developed skill training system. The transfer of knowledge of their skilling methodology will immensely help in our initiatives like “Make in India” and “Skill India”.
  • This MoU would pave the way for systematic transfer of their expertise and knowhow in skilling the manpower specially in manufacturing sector.

The areas of cooperation are as under:

  • The Belarusian side shall provide comprehensive transfer of know-how of emerging technologies, training and evaluation methodologies, content development for regular / distance learning / e-learning/training of master trainers, competency building of the assessors in area of their competency and network building & industry linkage.
  • Vocational education services for Indian citizens for skill development in the field of construction, electric-power production and distribution, manufacturing industry, trade, auto service and household goods repair and maintenance, transport, communication, hotels and restaurants as well as other fields being in high demand in India.
  • Retraining, up-skilling, internship for Vocational   Education   and   Training managers, teachers and trainers of India by the Belarusian Side.
  • Advisory services in order to enhance planning, management and delivery of Vocational Education and Training and Skill Development.

Background:

  • Belarus is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe bordered by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest.

  1. SANKALP & STRIVE Schemes to boost Skill India Mission

Source: PIB

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved two new World Bank supported schemes of Rs. 6,655 crore – Skills Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion (SANKALP) and Skill Strengthening for Industrial Value Enhancement (STRIVE).

SANKALP and STRIVE:

  • SANKALP is Rs 4,455 crore Centrally sponsored scheme including Rs. 3,300 crore loan support from World Bank whereas STRIVE is a Rs. 2,200 crore – central sector scheme, with half of the scheme outlay as World bank loan assistance.
  • SANKALP and STRIVE are outcome focused schemes marking shift in government’s implementation strategy in vocational education and training from inputs to results.
  • SANKALP will provide market relevant training to 3.5 crore youth. STRIVE will focus to improve on the quality and the market relevance of vocational training provided in ITIs and strengthen the apprenticeship programme through industry-cluster approach.

Benefits of these schemes:

  • The schemes shall provide the required impetus to the National Skill Development Mission, 2015 and its various sub missions. The schemes are aligned to flagship Government of India programs such as Make in India and Swachhta Abhiyan and aim at developing globally competitive workforce for domestic and overseas requirements.

  1. India could provide universal basic income of Rs 2,600 a year: IMF

Source: The Hindu

In its ‘Fiscal Monitor – Tackling Inequality’, the IMF has discussed UBI, “a proposal that has been widely debated recently and is being tested in several countries”, devoting extensive space to its case for India.

IMF’s observations on the idea of providing a UBI:

  • IMF estimates India could provide a universal basic income (UBI) of Rs 2,600 a year to every person if it eliminates food and energy subsidies.
  • Even such a modest level of UBI will incur a fiscal cost of about 3% of GDP, but would outperform the public food distribution and fuel subsidies on three counts.
  • It will address the under coverage of the near 20% lower income groups in the PDS, address the issue of higher income groups cornering bigger subsidies and increase generosity benefits received by the lower income groups.
  • In case of fuel subsidies, the IMF simulation goes beyond budget subsidy of cost-price difference to the extent prices are “below efficient levels that would internalize the negative externalities associated with fossil fuel consumption”.
  • The flip side of this is that eliminating the wider subsidies would require a sharper increase in prices than the case when budget subsidies are removed. The IMF cites a 2016 study that pegs the order of increase at gasoline (67%), diesel (69%), kerosene (10%), LPG (94%) and coal (455%).

What is UBI?

A basic income is an income unconditionally granted to all on an individual basis, without means test or work requirement.

Why UBI is needed?

  • Can address poverty and inequality more effectively.
  • Address income uncertainty due to impact of tech on jobs.
  • Help garner support for unpopular structural reforms.

Arguments against UBI:

  • Unnecessary benefits to higher income groups.
  • High fiscal costs crowding out other spending.
  • Discourages labour supply.

  1. International Day of the Girl Child

Source: The Hindu

The International Day of the Girl Child was celebrated by countries across the world on October 11.

  • This year the theme of the International Day of the Girl is ‘EmPOWER girls: Before, during and after conflict’ in humanitarian emergencies gender-based violence increases which means girls are more likely to be subjected to sexual and physical violence, child marriage, exploitation and trafficking.

Background:

  • The United Nations established the day to bring attention to the needs and difficulties that girls face around the world. It also calls for empowerment and improved rights of the world’s 1.1 billion girls. Since 2012, 11 October has been marked as the International Day of the Girl.

Issues and challenges:

  • Child marriage is one of the most pressing issues facing the girl worldwide as an estimated one in three girls are married before they are 18, one in seven before they turn 15. There are 700 million women alive today who were married before 18 to men much older than themselves.
  • Female genital mutilation is another problem that UNICEF estimates has affected 130 million girls worldwide.
  • Sexual assault is another issue tackled by International Day of the Girl as up to 50% of all sexual assaults target girls under 16-years-old.



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