13, April 2018

  1. India-Myanmar-Thailand (IMT) Trilateral Highway

Source: PIB

Work on the 1,000 km-long India-Myanmar-Thailand (IMT) Trilateral Highway officially started with the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) signing an agreement with a joint-venture (JV) between Punj Lloyd and Varaha Infra to upgrade the Yagyi-Kalewa section of the India-Myanmar Friendship Road in Myanmar.

  • This is NHAI’s first international project agreement. The project has been funded by Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India and would be executed on EPC mode at a cost of Rs.1177 crores.

IMT Highway:

  • The 1,000 km India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway will run from Moreh in Manipur to Mae Sot in Thailand via Myanmar. The highway will facilitate easy movement of goods and people among the three countries.

Significance of the Highway:

  • Once completed, greater flows of trade and investment will take place along the route, stimulating the movement of goods and people, creating jobs, promoting tourism as well as raising the livelihoods of the peoples in the region.
  • First, it will help improve connectivity between India’s remote Northeastern part and Southeast Asia. For long, the lack of physical connectivity with Southeast Asia has been an Achilles’ heel in India’s “Act-East Policy.” The trilateral highway will improve India’s connectivity with Myanmar and Thailand, and in the future there are plans to connect it with pre-existing roads and take it all the way to Vietnam.
  • Secondly, with the construction of this road, which started as the India-Myanmar friendship road way back in 2001, the recent non-attendance by India at China’s Belt and Road Forum in Beijing seems to have injected a new measure of earnestness among Indian policy planners when it comes to executing such road projects.
  • Thirdly, Northeast India has been lagging behind other parts of the country when it comes to infrastructure. When completed, the IMT highway will also give easy access to the Northeastern states to the sea (via Myanmar).

NHAI:

  • The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is an autonomous agency of the Government of India, responsible for management of a network of over 70,000 km of National Highways in India. It is a nodal agency of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. The NHAI was created through the promulgation of the National Highways Authority of India Act, 1988. In February 1995, the Authority was formally made an autonomous body.

  1. Gram Swaraj Abhiyan

Source: PIB

Haryana government has decided to launch ‘Gram Swaraj Abhiyan’, an outreach campaign, in the state on the birth anniversary of Dr B R Ambedkar on April 14, which will continue till May 5.

Gram Swaraj Abhiyan:

  • “Gram Swaraj Abhiyan” will be organised starting from 14th April to 05th May, 2018.
  • The campaign, undertaken under the name of “Sabka Sath, Sabka Gaon, Sabka Vikas”, is to promote social harmony, spread awareness about pro-poor initiatives of government, reach out to poor households to enroll them as also to obtain their feedback on various welfare programmes.
  • As a special endeavour during the Gram Swaraj Abhiyan, saturation of eligible households/persons would be made under seven flagship pro-poor programmes in 21,058 identified villages.
  • The programmes covered are Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, Saubhagya, Ujala scheme, Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana and Mission Indradhanush.

  1. POCSO e-Box

Source: PIB

To equip the children with the information regarding the possible modes of protection/complaints, the National Council Of Educational Research And Training (NCERT) has published the information regarding Childline (1098) 24×7 Helpline for children and POCSO e-box on the back side of the front cover of all course books from Class 6 to Class 12.

POCSO e- Box:

  • Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO), e-Box, is an online complaint management system for easy and direct reporting of sexual offences against children and timely action against the offenders under the POCSO Act, 2012. E-Box is very simple to operate and will help to maintain the confidentiality of the complaint.

Background:

  • Sexual offences against children are rampant but only a small percentage gets reported. According to a study, about 53% of children surveyed, reported having faced one or the other form of sexual abuse in their lifetime. In most cases, the offender is a family member/near relative or an acquaintance. The child victim in such cases generally does not report these offences. Sexual abuse scars the psyche of the affected child for entire life. A child who is sexually abused has to face very serious consequences such as cognitive impairment, violent and risk behaviour including depression and anxiety. Feeling shame and guilt with poor interpersonal relationship & self esteem are other consequences of sexually abused children.

POCSO Act:

  • Being concerned about offences against children, the Government enacted POCSO Act, 2012 to protect them from offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography, while safeguarding the interest of the child at every stage of the judicial process.
  • This is achieved by incorporating child friendly mechanisms for reporting, recording of evidence, investigation and speedy trial of offences through designated Special Courts.
  • Any human being up to the age of 18 years is recognised as a child under the POCSO Act

  1. Aspirational District Programme – Niti Aayog

Source: PIB

Small Industries Development Bank of India (Sidbi) has charted a plan to promote micro enterprises in 115 aspirational districts across the country to contribute in their development.

The bank has tied up with Common Service Centre (CSC) to meet this objective.

Transformation of Aspirational Districts Programme:

  • Transformation of Aspirational Districts’ was launched in January with an aim to quickly and effectively transform some of the most underdeveloped districts in the country.
  • ‘Transformation of Aspirational Districts’ initiative aims to remove this heterogeneity through a mass movement to quickly and effectively transform these districts.

Implementation strategy:

  • The broad contours of the programme are Convergence (of Central & State Schemes), Collaboration (of Central, State level ‘Prabhari’ Officers & District Collectors), and Competition among districts driven by a mass Movement.
  • This will converge the central and state schemes, collaborate central, state and district collectors to strengthen these districts by identifying the low-hanging fruits for immediate improvement, measure progress and then rank the district by getting the data on a real-time basis.

Selection of backward districts:

  • The 115 districts, including 35 affected by left-wing extremism, were selected on parameters like deprivation (extent of landless households), health & nutrition (institutional delivery, stunting of children and wasting in children), education (elementary dropout rate and adverse pupil-teacher ratio) and infrastructure (un-electrified homes, lack of toilets, villages not connected by road and lack of drinking water)

Significance of the scheme:

  • With states as the main drivers, this program will focus on the strength of each district, identify low-hanging fruits for immediate improvement, measure progress, and rank districts.
  • Under the programme, identified districts are prodded and encouraged to first catch-up with the best district within their state, and subsequently aspire to become one of the best in the country, by competing with, and learning from others.

Need for the development of backward districts:

  • India cannot grow at a high rate on a long run until these districts catch up, whatever high are the GDP number, it has no meaning until the benefit of growth percolates down to very basic level. Ensuring progress in areas facing the most severe challenges and improving conditions in remote and rural regions are prerequisites for India to reach the next stage of its economic and human development.
  • Through its massive scale and innovative use of data, the aspirational districts programme (ADP) will help India move towards its goals.

  1. Economic freedom index

Source: The Hindu

The Heritage Foundation has released its Index of Economic Freedom report 2017.

The Heritage Foundation is an American conservative public policy think-tank based in Washington.

The index:

Economic freedom is measured based on 12 quantitative and qualitative factors, grouped into four broad categories, or pillars, of economic freedom:

  • Rule of Law (property rights, government integrity, judicial effectiveness).
  • Government Size (government spending, tax burden, fiscal health).
  • Regulatory Efficiency (business freedom, labor freedom, monetary freedom).
  • Open Markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom).
  • Each of the ten economic freedoms within these categories is graded on a scale of 0 to 100. A country’s overall score is derived by averaging these ten economic freedoms, with equal weight being given to each.

Highlights of the report:

  • India’s economic freedom score is 54.5, making its economy the 130th freest in the 2018 Index. In 2017, India with a score of 52.6 points was ranked at 143 among 180 countries.
  • India is ranked 30th among 43 countries in the Asia-Pacific region, and its overall score is below the regional and world averages.
  • China is ranked 111 and Pakistan is now at 131 position.

India’s performance:

  • India is developing into an open-market economy. However, traces of its past autocratic policies still remain. Economic liberalisation measures, including industrial deregulation, privatisation of state-owned enterprises and reduced controls on foreign trade and investment, that began in the early 1990s, accelerated growth.
  • More recently, the government reformed one of its more opaque operational practices to make the auctioning of rights to exploit state-owned resour ces more transparent.

Challenges:

  • Corruption, underdeveloped infrastructure, a restrictive and burdensome regulatory environment, and poor financial and budget management continue to undermine overall development.
  • The judiciary is independent, but the Indian courts are understaffed and lack the technology necessary to clear an enormous backlog. Although officials are often caught accepting bribes, a great deal of corruption goes unnoticed and unpunished.
  • Non-tariff barriers significantly impede trade. The government’s openness to foreign investment is below average. State-owned institutions dominate the financial sector, and foreign participation is limited. In public-sector banks, troubled assets account for about 10% of total assets.

Economic freedom

  • Economic freedom is the fundamental right of every human to control his or her own labor and property. In an economically free society, individuals are free to work, produce, consume, and invest in any way they please. In economically free societies, governments allow labor, capital, and goods to move freely, and refrain from coercion or constraint of liberty beyond the extent necessary to protect and maintain liberty itself.

Benefits of economic freedom

  • Economic freedom brings greater prosperity. The Index of Economic Freedom documents the positive relationship between economic freedom and a variety of positive social and economic goals. The ideals of economic freedom are strongly associated with healthier societies, cleaner environments, greater per capita wealth, human development, democracy, and poverty elimination.



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