12,January 2017

1.Two-day Digidhan Mela inaugurated in Guwahati

Source : PIB

The two-day Digidhan Mela is being organised with an aim to enable citizens and merchants to familiarize and adopt real time digital transactions.The Digidhan Mela will help motivate the common man towards cashless transactions.

On this occasion, “Toka Paisa” e-wallet was launched for initiative towards cashless economy. The Mela is being organized by the Government of Assam in collaboration with IT Department and NITI Aayog.

More than a hundred stalls have been set-up by various Government departments,
banks, mobile wallet operators and other vendors. The stalls have been set up to educate people about the cashless transactions and to help them undertake digital transactions.

2.DEFCOM – 2017

Source: PIB

A Curtain Raiser Ceremony for DEFCOM 2017 was held at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi wherein a Brochure on the theme, ‘Infrastructure and Skilled Human Resource for Digital Army’.

DEFCOM 2017, an annual seminar organised jointly by the Corps of Signals of Indian Army and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) is scheduled to be held on 23 and 24 March 2017 at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi.  DEFCOM is the most seminal forum for interaction between the officers of the Armed Forces, Indian Industry, Academia and R&D organisations on matters related to operational communication systems for the Army.

3.Air pollution a national problem – Report by GREENPEACE

Source : The Hindu

A new report released by  GREENPEACE  shows that over 90 per cent of the cities studied had pollution levels higher than the prescribed standards. The report ranked the cities based on the annual average of PM10, which are all particles less than 10 microns in diameter. These include the very harmful fine particles, PM2.5.

According to an analysis of 2015 data for 168 cities by Greenpeace India, 154 were found to have an average particulate matter level higher than the national standard. None of the cities studied had air quality matching the standard prescribed by the World Health Organisation.

  • Hasan in Karnataka came closest to the standard.

Top 5 :

               Delhi was found to be be the most polluted city, with the annual average for PM10 being 268 micrograms per cubic metre, or over four times the 60 micrograms/cubic metre limit prescribed in the National Ambient Air Quality Standards of the Central Pollution Control Board.

               Ghaziabad, Allahabad and Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh and Faridabad in Haryana followed closely, making for the worst five cities.

North vs South india’s air quality :

While air quality in North and Central India saw dangerous levels of particulate matter, South India appeared to have comparatively cleaner air. This is,” Due to the Himalayas and the cooler weather as well as big industrial clusters, the levels of pollution are higher in the North. Southern India has the benefit of the mixing of sea breeze”.

The main culprit

The uncontrolled burning of fossil fuels is the main cause of air pollution . A diesel-powered public transport system and power plant were to be blamed for the air pollution.


4.World Bank cuts India’s FY17 growth forecast to 7%

Source : The Hindu

The World Bank has lowered its growth forecast for India to 7 per cent from 7.6 per cent in 2016-17, citing a slowdown in consumption and manufacturing due to demonetisation and an ongoing decline in private investment and credit constraints due to impaired bank balance sheets.

Reasons for low growth rate are:

  • “Unexpected ‘demonetization’— the phasing out of large-denomination currency notes which were subsequently replaced with new ones—weighed on growth in the third quarter of FY2017,”
  • “Weak industrial production and manufacturing and services purchasing managers’ indexes (PMI), further suggest a setback to activity in the fourth quarter of FY2017.”
  • A retrenchment of private investment, reflecting excess capacity, corporate deleveraging, and credit constraints due to impaired commercial banks’ balance sheets, also had an adverse effect on activity,”

Four key reforms in India in 2016 could help growth rebound

  • the passage of the bankruptcy and insolvency code
  • the liberalisation of FDI norms across sectors
  • the passage of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Amendment Bill
  • the agreement between the government and the Reserve Bank of India on a monetary policy framework

The World Bank’s Global Economic Prospects January 2017 report added that the Indian economy is subsequently set to recover its growth momentum, with growth rising to 7.6 per cent in FY18 and further strengthening to 7.8 per cent in FY20.


5.Rain shadow south

Source : The Hindu

The failure of the northeast monsoon will impact the economy of southern India.
How  ?

The northeast monsoon — critical to the southern peninsula, particularly Tamil Nadu — has been a failure, with overall rainfall between October and December 45.2 per cent below normal. This is the worst since the 48.3 per cent deficit recorded in 2011.

In October 2016, 22 districts of Karnataka were declared drought hit. As 2016 drew to a close, South India’s combined reservoir levels were 22 percentage points less than the average water availability over the past 10 years. The situation has serious implications for crops like paddy and coconut and will impact milk and sugar production, especially in Karnataka.

Implications :

  • accentuate inter-state river disputes, especially the sharing of Cauvery waters.
  • sowing figures from South India do not portend well. The shortfall will also impact livelihoods and have repercussions on the mechanisms to deal with crop failure.
  • less than a third of the drought hit areas in Karnataka have been covered by the Pradhan Mantri Gram Fasal Bima Yojana.

The northeast monsoon is considered a fringe player in the agro-climate story. But imperatives of the economy and the needs to secure people’s livelihoods require a rethinking on that front.


6.Hope Island is a graveyard for Olive Ridleys

Source : The Hindu

Issue ?

               Carcasses of Olive Ridley turtles are washing ashore on Hope Island’s beaches here, indicating that the breeding cycle of the endangered species has been dealt a severe blow this year by mechanised fishing boats.

“Owners of mechanised boats are not taking precautions to protect the turtles. Most of them are crushed under the boats and succumb to injuries,”

The turtles, which are protected under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, commence their journey from the Indian Ocean during their mating season in October and November. When they reach the Bay of Bengal, the females lay eggs on the beaches. Even as the destination for a majority is Gahirmatha in Odisha, the sandy stretches of Hope Island of the Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary have turned into a breeding area for a few hundred turtles every year.

Things to look at :

The Fisheries Department tried to encourage the mechanised boat owners to fit a Turtle Excluder Device (TED) to their trawl nets to allow the animals to pass, 10 years ago. Of the 422 boats, few have opted for the device due to lack of sensitisation. “The device is not available in the open market,”

7.NITI Aayog projects 8% growth rate

Source :The Hindu

NITI Aayog has estimated a growth rate of 8% for 2016-17 as per a ‘cautiously optimistic’ prognosis it has laid out in the appraisal document for the Twelfth Five-Year Plan, flagging the lack of reforms in land acquisition, labour and simplification of administrative procedures as impediments to growth.

The review, however, does not take into account the impact of demonetisation.

 The 12th Plan is the last five-year Plan and from 2017-18, the Centre would adopt a three-year action plan and a fifteen-year vision document.

Stating that a large number of reforms by the present government over the past two years created a ‘strong foundation’ for such a growth trajectory, the government think-tank said caution was essential as reforms in areas such as skill development, infrastructure, labour laws and land acquisition are far from complete.

NITI Aayog stated that much needed to be done to spell out tax laws clearly so that future investors can assess their liabilities with reasonable certainty.

“Urgent attention” was needed for simplification of regulatory cum administrative procedures “or what has come to be popularly referred to as ease of doing business,” it said.

A key lacuna in the Indian growth story has been slow growth of manufacturers in general and labour-intensive manufacturing in particular. Sectors in which India lags behind are electronics, food processing, leather, and textiles and garments.


8.Kenya for enhanced ties with India

Source : The Hindu

Kenya  staked claim for Africa to a seat at the proposed expanded UN Security Council, even as it supported India’s campaign for U.N. reform.

Strengthening India-Kenya ties on the multilateral front, Mr. Kenyatta invited India to engage more intensely at COMESA (Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa) and intensify multilateral cooperation and sought investment in the agriculture, security and health sectors of Kenya Reciprocating, India invited Kenya to participate in the International Solar Alliance..

Both sides sealed an agreement

  • on a Line of Credit of $100 million for agricultural mechanisation.
  • agreed to enhance cooperation in areas of maritime surveillance & maritime security,
  • sharing of white shipping information and joint hydrographic surveys.
  • also reviewed progress on the prestigious Rift Valley Textiles Factory (RIVATEX) which is being upgraded at present under a US $29.95 million.

India has also invited Kenya to participate in exhibitions like Aero-India and DEFEXPO. A joint statement issued during the visit announced a number of security-related measures including the likely meeting of Joint Working Group on Defense and Maritime Cooperation.



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