18 , April 2018


The government has launched DARPAN-Postal Life Insurance App. The App will help in collection of premium for postal life insurance and rural postal life insurance policies at branch post offices anywhere in India, with online updation of the policies.

DARPAN project: With a view to achieve total digitisation of postal operations in the country, the department has launched Digital Advancement of Rural Post office for a new India (DARPAN) Project, which aims at connecting all one lakh 29 thousand Rural Branch Post Offices.

1.Global IT Challenge for Youth with Disabilities (GITC), 2018
Source: PIB

  • “Global IT Challenge for Youth with Disabilities (GITC), 2018” will be held in New Delhi during 8thto 11th November, 2018.
  • A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in this regard was signed between Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD), Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and Rehabilitation International Korea.
  • GITC is being held every year in Asia- Pacific region and such events were held in the past in countries like Korea, China, Thailand, Vietnam etc.
  • This competition is amongst four categories of disabilities namely, Physical, Visual, Hearing and Intellectual.
  • India is co-hosting the event along with Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of Korea and its organising partners namely Rehabilitation International Korea and LG Group.

2.  7-star rating under Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban)
Source: PIB

  • The 1st regional workshop on star rating of garbage- free cities, organized by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) in collaboration with the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) was held in Delhi.
  • The day -long workshop was attended by over 250 Urban Local Body (ULB) officials, including Mayors and Commissioners, from New Delhi, Jammu & Kashmir, Haryana and neighbouring ULBs of Uttar Pradesh.
  • The Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban) focuses on two key objectives- eradication of open defecation and 100% scientific solid waste management (SWM) across all 4041 statutory towns and cities.
  • To continue the momentum on scientific management of solid waste and motivate cities to achieve more cleanliness, the Star-Rating Protocol of Garbage Free Cities was launched by MoHUA on January 2018.
  • The 7-star rating is innovatively designed on a SMART (Single metric, Measurable, Achievable, Rigorous verification and Targeted towards outcomes) approach – making it the first-of-its kind rating tool for assessing cleanliness of cities and towns in India.
  • The system, based on 12 parameters, builds on the spirit of healthy competition among cities and the aspirations of cities to progress towards higher standards of “Swachhata” and its sustainability.

Key Features :

  • SINGLE METRIC – Rating criteria encapsulates all components of MSWM as well as plastic waste, waste in drains and water bodies
  • MEASURABLE – Criteria under each star rating has measurable parameters (e.g.% of HHs covered by D2D collection, % of waste processed, etc.)
  • ACHIEVABLE – Each criteria and associated parameter has been devised to ensure that it is realistically achievable by cities.
  • RIGOROUS VERIFICATION – Robust 2-step verification mechanism of both self-declaration and third party verification. Cities rated 1, 2 and 4-star must carry out self-assessment and self-verification, while 3-star, 5-star and 7-star cities will need to be certified through an independent third party. Moreover, a city should be ODF before going for 3-star and above certification.
  • TARGETED TOWARDS OUTCOMES – Based on verifiable outcomes rather than inputs and processes (e.g. remediation of dumpsites, regular sweeping, collection of user charges, etc.)

Strengths of star rating protocol:

  • Outcome-based tool rather than process based, hence will enable institutionalization of good practices such as source segregation, scientific waste processing, penalties & spot fines for littering, and compliance of bulk waste generators, etc.
  • Designed to enable cities to gradually evolve into a model (7-star) city, with progressive improvements in their overall cleanliness.
  • At the 7-star level, 3R components of 3R (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) incorporated.

3.Law Commission for simultaneous polls
Source: The Hindu

A draft white paper released by the Law Commission of India on Tuesday recommends holding of simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and the Assemblies, possibly in 2019, the election could be held in phases.

In the first phase, it says, elections to the legislatures which are scheduled to go for polls synchronous with the Lok Sabha in 2019 could be held together

The rest of the States could go to elections in proximity with the Lok Sabha elections of 2024

Anti-defection law:

It even suggests the relaxation of the “rigours” of the anti-defection law in the Tenth Schedule to prevent a stalemate in the Lok Sabha or Assemblies in case of a hung Parliament or Assembly

The panel says that in case of mid-term elections, the new Lok Sabha or Assembly would only serve the remainder of the term of the previous Lok Sabha/Assembly and not a fresh term of five years

Mid-term elections:

In case of mid-term elections, the new Lok Sabha or Assembly would only serve the remainder of the term of the previous Lok Sabha/Assembly and not a fresh term of five years

Prime Minister/Chief Minister should be “elected” to lead by the full House like the Lok Sabha Speaker

The parties which introduce the no-confidence motion should simultaneously give a suggestion for an alternative government.

Constitutional amendments:

Simultaneous elections may be restored in the nation by amending the Constitution, Representation of the People Act of 1951 and the Rules of Procedure of the Lok Sabha and Assemblies.

Law Commission of India:

  • Law Commission of India is an executive body established by an order of the Government of India. Its major function is to work for legal reform. Its membership primarily comprises legal experts, who are entrusted a mandate by the Government.
  • The Commission is established for a fixed tenure and works as an advisory body to the Ministry of Law and Justice
  • The first Law Commission was established during the British Raj era in 1834 by the Charter Act of 1833. After that, three more Commissions were established in pre-independent India. The first Law Commission of independent India was established in 1955 for a three-year term.
  • Justice Balbir Singh Chauhan, a former judge of the Supreme Court was appointed Chairman of the 21st Law Commission

4.Bharat-22 ETF may eye Rs. 10,000 cr.
Source: The Hindu

The Finance Ministry may come out with a Rs. 10,000-crore follow-on fund offer of the Bharat-22 exchange traded fund (ETF) as it looks to dilute stake in Coal India to meet the minimum public holding norm

The Ministry is keen to take the ETF route to sell off government shares held through SUUTI in private firms — ITC, Axis Bank and L&T,

  • The government, in November, introduced Bharat-22 ETF comprising shares of 22 firms, including PSUs, public sector banks, ITC, Axis Bank and L&T
  • The fund had garnered bids to the tune of Rs. 32,000 crore, although the government retained only Rs. 14,500 crore

Exchange traded fund (ETF):

  • Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) are mutual funds listed and traded on stock exchanges like shares
  • The ETF simply copies an index and endeavors to accurately reflect its performance
  • In an ETF, one can buy and sell units at a prevailing market price on a real-time basis during market hours
  • There are four types of ETFs already available — Equity ETFs, Debt ETFs, Commodity ETFs and Overseas Equity ETFs
  • The Bharat 22 ETF to be offered now allows the Government to park its holdings in selected PSUs in an ETF and raise disinvestment money from investors at one go
  • It tracks the specially made S&P BSE Bharat 22 Index, managed by Asia Index Private Limited
  • This index is made up of 22 PSU stocks and with a few private sector companies

5.No deficit of currency, more being printed: RBI
Source: The Hindu

Amid the cash shortage reported from several parts of the country, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has assured that there is sufficient cash in the central bank’s vaults and in current chests, adding that the situation is being monitored closely.

The central bank also said printing of notes has been ramped up in all the four security note presses and steps are been taken to move currency to areas that are witnessing unusually large cash withdrawals

Shortage due to logistic issues:

The central bank said the shortage may be felt in some pockets largely due to logistical issues of replenishing ATMs frequently and as recalibration of ATMs is still underway.

6.‘India expected to grow at 7.4% in 2018’
Source: The Hindu

India is expected to grow at 7.4% in 2018 and 7.8% in 2019, leaving its nearest rival China behind respectively at 6.6% and 6.4% in the two years, the IMF said.

World Economic Outlook report by IMF:

  • IMF foresees China to trail behind at 6.6%; reforms such as GST to help reduce internal trade barriers
  • With the short-term firming of growth driven by a recovery from the transitory effects of the currency exchange initiative and implementation of the national goods and services tax, and supported by strong private consumption growth
  • India has made progress on structural reforms in the recent past, including through the implementation of the GST, which will help reduce internal barriers to trade, increase efficiency and improve tax compliance.
  • While the medium-term growth outlook for India is strong, an important challenge is to enhance inclusiveness
  • India’s high public debt and recent failure to achieve the budget’s deficit target, calls for continued fiscal consolidation into the medium term to further strengthen fiscal policy credibility

7.Corporate debt, a drag on investment
Source: The Hindu

Policy action needed to tackle balance sheet vulnerabilities that pose a risk: IMF

The corporate debt overhang and associated banking sector credit quality concerns exert a drag on investment in India, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on Tuesday, in an apparent reference to the PNB scam involving diamantaire Nirav ModiR 

  • Balance sheet vulnerabilities pose a downside risk to medium-term growth prospects in many emerging market economies, requiring policy action
  • Recapitalization should be part of a broader package of financial reforms to improve the governance of public sector banks, and banks’ debt recovery mechanisms should be further enhanced 

Moreover, given that sudden repricing of term premiums remains a distinct possibility and that portfolio shifts could occur, it is important to mitigate rollover risk by avoiding excessive reliance on short-term borrowing.

8.India, Sweden agree upon ‘win-win’ joint action plan
Source: The Hindu

  • After a hectic day of bilateral parleys here, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Swedish counterpart, Stefan Löfven, on Tuesday agreed upon a joint action plan (JAP) for both countries to take forward a wide range of initiatives in defence, trade and investment, counterterrorism, renewable energy, smart cities, women’s skill development, space and science and healthcare.
  • Characterising the JAP as a win-win partnership for New Delhi and Stockholm, Mr. Modi underscored the critical role of the defence sector and security initiatives as a pillar of the bilateral relationship.
  • The bilateral summit here was additionally significant for the opportunity it afforded both sides to discuss Sweden’s interest in proposing the Saab Group’s Gripen-E single-engine jet fighter for the Indian Air Force, as a Request for Information had been issued earlier this month to Stockholm.
  • On counterterrorism, Mr. Modi and Mr. Löfven emphasised that the global counterterrorism legal framework should be regularly updated to address the changing threat of terrorism with strength.
  • Innovation was front and centre in the bilateral summit today, with a separate discussion focused entirely on this area, and the outcome being a joint declaration on a Sweden-India Innovation Partnership for a Sustainable Future, which built upon the joint statement between the two Prime Ministers in Mumbai in 2016.
  • The Swedish government will kick-start the Innovation Partnership by providing up to 50 million Swedish kronor (over $59 million) for innovation cooperation in the field of smart cities and sustainability.

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