13, May 2017

  1. Officials from Arctic nations to meet amid drilling concerns

Source: The Hindu

High-level officials from the world’s eight Arctic nations are meeting in Alaska amid concerns about the future of the sensitive region after United States President Donald Trump called for more oil drilling and development.

No formal discussions were set in Alaska on key issues such as climate change, development and drilling. But those issues will provide a backdrop as the chairmanship of the council passes from the US to Finland.

Arctic Council

  • The Arctic Council is an advisory body that promotes cooperation among member nations and indigenous groups. Its focus is on sustainable development and environmental protection of the Arctic.
  • It does not make policy or allocate resources, and its decisions must be unanimous. In terms of being a reflection of a nation’s priorities, it can only go so far since all eight have to agree to the same thing.

Member council:

  • Eight member countries constitute the council: Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States as these are the eight countries with sovereignty over the lands within the Arctic Circle.
  • Observer status is open to non-Arctic states approved by the Council at the Ministerial Meetings that occur once every two years. Observers have no voting rights in the Council. Presently, there are 12 observer states including India and China.

  1. Northern Zonal Council meeting

Source: The Hindu

The 28th meeting of the Northern Zonal Council consisting of the States of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan, National Capital Territory of Delhi and Union Territory of Chandigarh was recently held at Chandigarh under the Chairmanship of Shri Rajnath Singh, Union Home Minister.

The Zonal Council discussed and deliberated upon 18 items of common interest among the member states. The major items discussed were ‘Need for fiscal and infrastructural harmony in Northern States; Joint efforts for export of fruits, flowers and vegetables from the States; Sharing of Water of various rivers of the region and also hydropower among States.

zonal councils

Zonal councils have been established by the Parliament to promote interstate cooperation and coordination. They are statutory bodies established under the States Reorganisation Act 1956 and not constitutional bodies. They are only deliberative and advisory bodies.

5 five Zonal councils:

  • The Northern Zonal Council, comprising the States of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan, National Capital Territory of Delhi and Union Territory of Chandigarh.
  • The Central Zonal Council, comprising the States of Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
  • The Eastern Zonal Council, comprising the States of Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, and West Bengal.
  • The Western Zonal Council, comprising the States of Goa, Gujarat, Maharashtra and the Union Territories of Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli.
  • The Southern Zonal Council, comprising the States of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and the Union Territory of Puducherry.
  • The North Eastern States i.e. (i) Assam (ii) Arunachal Pradesh (iii) Manipur (iv) Tripura (v) Mizoram (vi) Meghalaya (vii) Sikkim and (viii) Nagaland are not included in the Zonal Councils and their special problems are looked after by the North Eastern Council, set up under the North Eastern Council Act, 1972.

Composition:

  • Chairman – The Union Home Minister is the Chairman of each of these Councils.
  • Vice Chairman – The Chief Ministers of the States included in each zone act as Vice-Chairman of the Zonal Council for that zone by rotation, each holding office for a period of one year at a time.
  • Members- Chief Minister and two other Ministers as nominated by the Governor from each of the States and two members from Union Territories included in the zone.
  • Advisers- One person nominated by the Planning Commission (which has been replaced by NITI Ayog now) for each of the Zonal Councils, Chief Secretaries and another officer/Development Commissioner nominated by each of the States included in the Zone.
  • Union Ministers are also invited to participate in the meetings of Zonal Councils depending upon necessity.

Objectives of Zonal Councils

  • Bringing out national integration.
  • Arresting the growth of acute State consciousness, regionalism, linguism and particularistic tendencies.
  • Enabling the Centre and the States to co-operate and exchange ideas and experiences.
  • Establishing a climate of co-operation amongst the States for successful and speedy execution of development projects.

  1. New series WPI, IIP released with base year 2011-12

Source: The Hindu

The government has released the new series of WPI and IIP with new base year of 2011-12, a long pending demand of the economists and experts.

Need for the new base year:

The Central Statistics Office (CSO), Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, revises the base year of the macroeconomic indicators, as a regular exercise, to capture structural changes in the economy and improve the quality and representativeness of the indices. Revisions in the IIP are necessitated to maintain representativeness of the items and producing entities and also address issues relating to continuous flow of production data. In the past, such changes were effected at the time of a revision in the base year.

New IIP series drops calculator, gutka, adds surgical devices

  • The government has launched a new series of Index of Industrial Production (IIP) with a base year 2011-12 with an aim to map economic activities more accurately. Currently, the IIP is calculated on base year of 2004-05. The new IIP base year aligns with the base year of other macroeconomic indicators such as the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
  • The IIP gives a broad outlook on output of various types of goods like basic, consumer and capital ones, which helps in gauging the level of etc.

Below are the key changes made in the IIP:

  1. The new series has a total of 809 items in the manufacturing sector in the item basket (405 item groups). The 2004-05 series had 620 items (397 item groups).
  2. A total of 149 new items like steroids and hormonal preparations, cement clinkers, medical/surgical accessories, pre-fabricated concrete blocks and refined palm oil have been added while 124 items such as biaxially oriented polypropylene (BOPP) films, calculators, colour TV picture tubes, gutka have been deleted.
  3. The new series will include data on electricity generation from renewable sources too.
  4. For capital goods, the data in the new series will now be captured in terms of ‘work in progress‘ to better represent the growth of capital goods and to avoid reporting of production figures in bulk after the completion of production.
  5. The use-based classification has been re-framed by replacing ‘basic goods’ with ‘primary goods’ and introducing a new ‘infrastructure/construction goods’ category.
  6. There has been an increase in number of factories in panel for reporting data. The closed factories have been removed.

  1. Measures announced by the Government to curb the menace of online Child Sexual Abuse Material

Source: PIB

Based on the consultations of the Inter-Ministerial Committee, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology(MEITY) in collaboration with Ministry of Women and Child Development has issued immediate interim measures to curb the menace of Online Child Sexual Abuse Material.

MEITY has issued this Order under Section 79(2) (c) of the Information Technology Act 2000 to curb online child sexual abuse material (CSAM).

Background:

  • The Ministry of Women and Child Development has been making several efforts to deal with the problem of online Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM).
  • In a major step, a stakeholder Consultation was held last year on this issue wherein it was decided that the Ministry will establish a National Alliance against Online Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation, focusing primarily on the online content.
  • Subsequent to this decision, an Inter-Ministerial Committee(IMC) was constituted on request of the WCD Ministry. The IMC includes MHA, MEITY, Ministry of Law, Ministry of External Affairs and Department of Telecom.

Way ahead:

  • Under this order, the Internet Service Providers(ISPs) shall be required to adopt and implement the Internet Watch Foundation(IWF) Resources by 31st July 2017. This foundation maintains a dynamic global list of websites and URLs which contain CSAM. Implementation of IWF Resources will result in the relevant content being blocked/removed on an ongoing basis.
  • This is an interim measure till the IMC puts in place a centralized mechanism to monitor online CSAM. The Order of MEITY also reiterates that the ISPs will continue to observe due diligence requirements described under the IT Act for removing and disabling any content which is in violation of the extant rules and regulations.



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