16, February 2018

Paschim Lehar:

  • ‘Paschim Lehar’, a tri-service maritime exercise, is being held off India’s western coast.
  • The objective of the exercise is to build interoperability. This exercise includes participation of a large number of ships, submarines and aircraft from the Western Naval Command of the Indian Navy. Units from Eastern Naval Command, Indian Army, Indian Air Force and the Coast Guard are also participating to build interoperability.

India’s Umang App, Aadhaar win awards at World Government Summit:

  • India’s Aadhaar programme was recognised as the world’s largest biometric enabled identification programme at the recently concluded World Government Summit 2018 in Dubai.
  • Umang app was named winner of the Best M-Government Service Award for the Accessible Government category. The application provides users a unified platform that combines government departments and services, facilitating transactions for citizens.

Delhi hosts India’s first radio festival:

  • India’s first radio festival was recently held in Delhi. The festival was organised by the International Association of Women in Radio and Television, in collaboration with UNESCO. The event touched on the 2018’s theme of World Radio Day – sports and radio – and traced the journey of creativity, music and social changes on the radio.
  • IAWRT is a global organization formed by professional women working in electronic and allied media with a mission to strengthen initiatives towards ensuring women’s views and values are integral part of programming and to advance the impact of women in media. IAWRT organizes conferences, implements projects undertakes activities collaborates with and media organizations. It is in consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). IAWRT is managed by international board, which oversees funding initiatives for a number of local chapters and member activities.

  1. Govt drops the idea of an India EV policy

Source: The Hindu

The government has decided against formulating an electric vehicle (EV) policy in an apparent U-turn from its position so far, providing a breather to many carmakers that are unprepared for an abrupt shift to the clean-fuel technology. The existing FAME (incentive) scheme may continue for another two years.

Background:

The government’s decision to have an EV policy had created uncertainty in the automobile industry for the past year, although several companies had outlined their strategies for EVs or lobbied the government to drop the idea.

FAME India scheme:

  • With an aim to promote eco-friendly vehicles, the government had launched the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles in India (FAME-India) scheme in 2015.
  • The FAME India Scheme is aimed at incentivising all vehicle segments, including two-wheelers, three wheeler auto, passenger four-wheeler vehicle, light commercial vehicles and buses. The scheme covers hybrid and electric technologies like a strong hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles.
  • FAME India – Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric vehicles in India – is a part of the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan. The scheme envisages Rs 795 crore support in the first two fiscals. It is being administered by the Heavy Industries Ministry.

Way ahead:

Electric vehicles (EVs) seem to be gaining in prominence as part of the renewable energy zeitgeist. However, mainstreaming electric vehicles will require an overhaul of the country’s energy and transport infrastructure. For example, EV charging stations will have to be set up on a war footing, and electricity generation will have to improve significantly even as its piggybacks on the push for solar energy. EV technology (especially the battery) will have to become much cheaper before it can perform well in a price-sensitive market like India.

  1. Anti-Narcotics Scheme

Source: The Hindu

The ‘Assistance to States and UTs for Narcotics Control’ scheme has been extended by the Centre for a further period of 3 years -from 2017-18 to 2019-20 -with an estimated budget of Rs 21 crore.

About the scheme:

  • The scheme aims to combat illicit trafficking in drugs and psychotropic substance. The purpose of the scheme is to assist state governments and Union Territories which are contributing in controlling the inter-state and cross border drug trafficking.
  • Financial assistance will be provided to all the anti- narcotics agencies for strengthening their enforcement capabilities to combat illicit trafficking in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances. Financial assistance is also proposed to be provided for all capacity building activities, including training of personnel.
  • The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) being the national nodal agency for drug administration will process the requests from state governments and UTs for financial assistance for improving their enforcement capabilities in dealing with the supply side of the drug menace.

Way ahead:

  • Estimates suggest that there are 40 lakh drug addicts in the country. The most common drugs of abuse are ‘ganja’, ‘hashish’, ‘opium’ and ‘heroin’. The abuse of pharmaceutical preparations like ‘buprenorphine’, codeine based cough syrups and painkillers like ‘proxivon’ has also assumed serious proportions. In certain regions of the country, drug abuse has already become a severe social-economic problem affecting the vulnerable age groups.
  • It is, therefore, essential that the state governments and UTs are aware of the drug-related problems in their states and UTs and address them in an effective manner before they assume epidemic proportions. The strategies would include both supply reduction and demand reduction. Supply reduction would include enforcement activities while demand reduction would involve rehabilitation and de-addiction measures.

  1. Open Acreage Licensing Programme (OALP)

Source: The Hindu

To handhold and apprise the prospective investor community about the salient features of Hydrocarbon Exploration & Licensing Policy(HELP) framework and details about the ebidding process, the government of India successfully concluded a facilitation workshop under Open Acreage Licensing Programme (OALP) in Ahmedabad recently.

Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OALP):

  • The OALP, a part of the government’s Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP), gives exploration companies the option to select the exploration blocks on their own, without having to wait for the formal bid round from the Government. The company then submits an application to the government, which puts that block up for bid. The new policy will open up 2.8 million square kilometres of sedimentary basins for exploration and eventual production.

Hydrocarbon Exploration & Licensing Policy (HELP):

  • The Hydrocarbon Exploration & Licensing Policy (HELP) opens up India’ entire sedimentary basin for investment from domestic and foreign players under a simplified, transparent and investor -friendly fiscal and administrative regime.
  • The new policy aims to provide Investors a ready access to huge amount of seismic data available in National Data Repository (NDR), flexibility to carve out exploration acreages through an open acreage licensing process and increased operational autonomy through a new revenue sharing model.
  • The National Data Repository (NDR) manifested through an open acreage licensing (OAL) process will be a key facilitator by providing seamless access to India’s entire E&P data process through a digital medium to all investors with the objective of harnessing the potential of India’s large basinal area.

Way ahead:

  • Open Acreage Licensing Policy and the National Data Repository together are a significant and welcome step towards opening up the hydrocarbon exploration and production industry in India. By placing greater discretion in the hands of explorers and operators, the Licensing Policy attempts to address a major drawback in the New Exploration Licensing Policy, which forced energy explorers to bid for blocks chosen by the government. Such initiatives help India attract enough investment to meet the government’s objective of reducing oil imports by 10% by 2022.
  • There’s a compelling opportunity for gas, which India must seize to reduce import dependency and shift to a lower carbon trajectory. HELP is more about gas than oil. While the overall thrust is positive, concerns regarding the contractual regime and gas pricing formula remain, and will need to be addressed.

  1. Prasar Bharati

Source: The Hindu

Public broadcaster Prasar Bharati (PB) has turned down a resolution moved by the Union ministry of information and broadcasting (I&B) to appoint a serving IAS officer to its board, and deferred its proposal to bring in professionals to head the news service units of Doordarshan and All India Radio.

Why?

  • The board refused to appoint a serving IAS officer as member (personnel) on grounds that the appointment would go against the norms laid down in The Prasar Bharati (Broadcasting Corporation of India) Act, 1990. The broadcaster concluded that accepting the resolutions moved by the ministry would “amount to infringing Prasar Bharati’s autonomy”.

What the law says?

  • As per the PB Act of 1990 the Prasar Bharati Board consists of a chairman, a CEO, two whole-time members for finance and personnel, six part-time members, heads of Doordarshan and All India Radio and one representative of the I&B ministry. There is no provision to have a serving bureaucrat on the board.
  • The PB Act states that the President of India will appoint the Board members decided by a selection committee which is headed by the Vice President of India and includes the Chairman of the Press Council of India and a nominee of the President. The ministry does not have a direct role in appointment of the chairman and whole-time members of the Board.

Prasar Bharati:

  • Prasar Bharati is a statutory autonomous body established under the Prasar Bharati Act and came into existence in November 1997. It is the Public Service Broadcaster of the country. The objectives of public service broadcasting are achieved in terms of Prasar Bharati Act through All India Radio and Doordarshan.

Way forward:

  • India is in dire need of broadcast autonomy, especially in the form of a truly autonomous, even if state-assisted, public service broadcaster. This was a promise made by Nehru to Parliament in 1948. But, it is yet to be redeemed. The post-Emergency 1977-78 broadcast autonomy committee, in its report “Akash Bharati”, presented a blueprint for autonomy.
  • Despite brave efforts to make something of it, Prasar Bharati (PB) has not lived up to its charter. PB “needs to be adequately empowered and enabled” with independent professionals and financial self-reliance to “unleash its creative forces” beyond the market as a true voice of India, its ethos, culture and aspirations in order to become a genuine public broadcaster rather than remain a “government broadcaster”.

  1. Smart museums to give ‘virtual’ tours and 3D view of rare artifacts

Source: The Hindu

Centre for Development for Advanced Computing (C-DAC), Pune, has developed a software named “Jatan” and “Darshak” that are set to revolutionise museum experience.

About Jatan:

  • The objective of the software is to make a digital imprint of all the objects preserved in museums. It will help researchers, curators and also people interested in the field.

About Darshak:

  • It is a mobile-based application. It is aimed at improving the museum visit experience among the differently-abled. It allows real-time museum visitors gather all details about objects or artifacts simply by scanning a QR code placed near the object.

C- DAC:

  • Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) is the premier R&D organization of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) for carrying out R&D in IT, Electronics and associated areas.



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