22, November 2016

1.India becomes Associate Member of CERN, Geneva

Source: PIB

India and European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) signed an agreement making India an Associate Member State of CERN.

CERN:

  • CERN is the world’s largest nuclear and particle physics laboratory, where scientists and engineers are probing the fundamental structure of the Universe by using the most sophisticated scientific instruments and advanced computing systems.
  • CERN is based in Geneva on the French-Swiss border.
  • Presently CERN has 22 member states, four associate member states, and the observer status is given to four states and three International Organizations.
  • Becoming Associate Member of CERN will enhance participation of young scientists and engineers in various CERN projects and bring back knowledge for deployment in the domestic programmes. It will also open opportunities for Indian industries to participate directly in the CERN project.

Background

In September 2016, CERN Council adopted a resolution upgrading India’s position as associate member from earlier ‘observer’ status. Prior to it, in 2015 the Union Cabinet had given its nod to the proposal for India’s officially entry to CERN.

Earlier because of the observer status India was allowed to attend council meetings and to receive council documents but was not allowed to take part in the decision-making procedures of the organisation

2.Objectives of New Energy Policy

Source: PIB

  • The National Energy Policy (NEP) aims to chart the way forward to meet the Government’s bold announcements in the energy domain.
  • The four key objectives of the new energy policy are access at affordable prices, improved energy security and independence, greater sustainability and economic growth.
  • The policy is being discussed by NITI Aayog with different stake holders.
  • This was stated by Shri Piyush Goyal, Union Minister of State (IC) for the Ministry of Power, Coal, New and Renewable Energy and Mines.

The Minister further stated in the reply that NEP builds on the achievements of the earlier omnibus energy policy – the Integrated Energy Policy (IEP), and sets the new agenda consistent with the redefined role of emerging developments in the energy world. There is a need to support the trends which usher in efficiency by a pro-active policy.

Targets of Government implements:

  • The Minister further stated that all the Census villages are planned to be electrified by 2019, and universal electrification is to be achieved, with 24×7 electricity by 2022.
  • Our INDCs target at reduction of emissions intensity by 33%-35% by 2030,
  • Achievin a 175 GW renewable energy capacity by 2022, and share of non-fossil fuel based installed capacity in the electricity mix is aimed at above 40% by 2030.

3.Concessions and Benefits under Trade Agreements

Source: PIB

The tariff concessions being granted to Asia Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA) member States, on Margin of Preference basis, under the fourth round of exchange of tariff concessions, includes certain tariff lines relating to railway locomotives, nuclear plants, fissile material and aircraft.

APTA

  • The APTA (formerly the Bangkok Agreement) is an Agreement signed since 1975.
  • Three Rounds of tariff concessions have already been exchanged among the member countries till 2003.
  • The current membership of APTA consists of six countries, namely, Bangladesh, China, India, Lao PDR, Republic of Korea, and Sri Lanka.

Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)

India is part of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) which is a proposed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) amongst sixteen countries consisting of ten ASEAN member states and their six Free Trade Partners namely India, Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand and Republic of Korea.

  • The RCEP is intended to facilitate and thereby increase goods and services trade as well as investment flows amongst the participating countries.
  • India has stressed on the need for parallelism between the negotiations on goods and services.
  • The negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) have been concluded but the agreement is not yet ratified for implementation by the participating countries.
  • India is not part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.

Promote project:

  • In order to protect the interest of the local manufacturing(domestic industry), the FTAs provide for maintaining sensitive/negative lists of items on which limited or no tariff concessions are granted under the agreement.
  • In addition, in case of a surge in imports and injury to the domestic industry, a country is allowed to take recourse to the measures such as anti-dumping and safeguards.

4.FCI to double the wheat offer for the Open Market Sale

Source: PIB

The wholesale and retail price wheat data in Delhi has shown an increase recently. However, the wheat prices in Delhi have started coming down now. On 21st November 2016 wholesale price is Rs. 22.75/kg and retail is Rs.24/kg.

It is expected that flow of imported wheat from the ports, due to the reduced import duty of 10% from 25%, will meet the needs of the market and the private sector, as transportation picks up.

Open Market Sale Scheme (Domestic)

  • In addition to maintaining buffer stocks and for making a provision for meeting the requirement of the TPDS and other Welfare Schemes, FCI on the instructions from the Government sells wheat at predetermined prices in the open market from time to time to enhance the supply of wheat especially during the lean season and thereby to moderate the open market prices especially in the deficit regions.
  • Wheat and Rice are also allocated to State Govts. for retail sale through non-PDS Channels under OMSS.

5.Pension Scheme Contribution

Source: PIB

A new Scheme “Pradhan Mantri Rojgar Protsahan Yojana” has been announced in the Budget for 2016-17 with the objective of promoting employment generation and an allocation of Rs. 1000 crores has been made.

The scheme is being implemented by the Ministry of Labour and Employment in 2016-17.

Scheme:

The PMRPY scheme is targeted for workers earning wages upto Rs. 15,000/- per month.

  • For the purpose of the scheme, a new employee is one who has not been working elsewhere on a regular basis prior to 1st April, 2016 and has a new Aadhaar seeded Universal Account Number (UAN) on or after 01.04.2016.
  • Under the scheme employers would be provided an incentive for enhancing employment where the 8.33% EPS contribution made by the employer will be paid by Government of India in respect of new employment from August, 2016 onwards.

6.India ranks 20th on Climate Change Performance Index

Source: Business Standard

CCPI underlined that countries like India are making “great efforts” in the fields of renewables and energy efficiency

India has been ranked 20th on Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) 2017.

The Climate Change Performance Index 2015- A comparison of the 58 top CO2 emitting nations:

  • The CCPI is an instrument designed to enhance transparency in international climate politics.
  • It is list of countries doing the most to combat climate change.
  • It aims to put social and political pressure on those countries which have, up until now, failed to take ambitious action on climate protection.
  • The index evaluates and compares the climate protection performance of 58 countries on the basis of standardised criteria.
  • These 58 countries together are responsible for about 90% of global energy-related CO2 emissions.

Highlights:

With the historic Paris Agreement having recently entered into force, the latest CCPI confirms a boost for renewable energy and positive developments in energy efficiency.

Positive trends are seen as well among emerging economies of G20 like India (rank 20), Argentina (36) and Brazil (40), which all improved their ranking.

All countries are now expected to put forward national emissions reduction plans, and the G20 countries have to take a leading role in doing so by 2018.

Among the countries with lower per-capita emissions, India, China and Brazil all have high growth rates, while emissions are generally decreasing in the EU and in some of its member states in particular.

7.India successfully test-fires twin trial of Prithvi-II missile

Source: The Hindu

India today successfully test-fired its indigenously developed nuclear capable Prithvi-II missile twice in quick succession as part of a user trial by the army from a test range at Chandipur in Odisha.

  • During the test, two Prithvi-II missiles in salvo mode were successfully test-fired in quick succession from mobile launcher from launch complex-3 of the Integrated Test Range (ITR).
  • Earlier, similar twin trial was conducted by Indian Army in October 2009 from the same base where both tests were successful.

Prithvi-II missile

  • Prithvi-II is the first missile to be indigenously developed by the DRDO under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme.
  • Range: It is surface-to-surface medium range ballistic missile with strike range of 350 km.
  • Warheads: It is capable of carrying 500 kg to 1000 kg of conventional as well as nuclear warheads.
  • Fuel and stages: It is single-stage liquid-fuelled. It uses advanced inertial guidance system along with manoeuvring trajectory to hit its target precisely.
  • It already has been inducted into India’s armed forces in 2003. Variants: Prithvi-I for the Indian Army, Prithvi-II for the Indian Air Force, and Dhanush Missile for Indian Navy.


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