25, January 2017

1.Cabinet approves Interest waiver for the two months  Nov and Dec to National Bank for Agricultural and Rural Development (NABARD)

Source: PIB

Approval for interest waiver for the two months, for farmers accessing short term crop loans from Cooperative Banks.

  • The decision also provides for interest subvention to National Bank for Agricultural and Rural Development (NABARD) on additional refinance by NABARD to Cooperative Banks.
  • Farmers in the whole of India availing short term crop loans, from Cooperative Banks will be benefitted.
  • To implement the Interest Subvention Scheme (ISS) has already been utilised.

Interest Subvention Scheme (ISS):  

As per scheme , interest subvention would be available to NABARD for providing concessional refinance to RRBs and Cooperative Banks. by GoI.

  • The Government of India has, since 2006-07, been implementing the Interest Subvention Scheme under which short-term crop loans upto Rs.3 lakh are made available to the farmers at an interest rate of 7 percent per annum by the Public Sector. Banks, Regional Rural Banks and Cooperative Banks.
  • Farmers are provided with 3% interest subvention for short term crop loan upto Rs. 3 lakhs on prompt repayment of the loan. Thus, farmers have to effectively pay only 4% as interest for the said crop loan.

2.Rubber Soil Information System (RubSIS) for Rubber Growers

Source: PIB

Commerce & Industry Minister launched Rubber Soil Information System (RubSIS), an online system for recommending application of appropriate mix of fertilizers to the specific plantations of rubber growers depending upon their soil nature.

  • RubSIS, developed by Rubber Research Institute of India (RRII) under the Rubber Board in collaboration with three agencies viz Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management, Kerala, National Bureau of Soil Survey and Land Use Planning, ICAR and National Remote Sensing Center, ISRO, brings soil data to the fingerprints of rubber growers and recommends the optimum mix and quantities of chemical fertilizers that his holding requires.
  • It is a cost effective tool for sustainable &scientific management of rubber growing soils.
  • Apart from preventing indiscriminate use of chemical fertilizers and soil degradation, adoption of RubSIS will lead to reduction in the cost of production of rubber, increase in productivity and reduction in environmental pollution.
  • The scientific and user friendly online fertiliser recommendation system was launched Kottayam (Kerela), the largest rubber growing district of India which will be extended to the entire traditional rubber growing region i.e. the states of Kerela and Tamilnadu this year.

3.Varishtha Pension Bima Yojana – 2017

Source: PIB

Varishtha Pension Bima Yojana 2017 (VPBY 2017).

It is a part of Government’s commitment for financial inclusion and social security.

Scheme:

  • The scheme will be implemented through Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) during the current financial year to provide social security during old age and protect elderly persons aged 60 years and above against a future fall in their interest income due to uncertain market conditions.
  • The scheme will provide an assured pension based on a guaranteed rate of return of 8% per annum for ten years, with an option to opt for pension on a monthly / quarterly / halfyearly and annual basis.
  • The differential return, i.e., the difference between the return generated by LIC and the assured return of 8% per annum would be borne by Government of India as subsidy on an annual basis.
  • VPBY-2017 is proposed to be open for subscription for a period of one year from the date of launch.

4.Cabinet approves ratification of the Second Commitment Period of Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

Source: PIB

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister has given its approval to ratify the Second Commitment Period of the Kyoto Protocol on containing the emission of Green House Gases (GHGs).

  • The second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol was adopted in 2012.
  • So far, 75 countries have ratified the Second Commitment Period.

Key facts:

  • In view of the critical role played by India in securing international consensus on climate change issues, this decision further underlines India’s leadership in the comity of nations committed to global cause of environmental protection and climate justice.
  • Ratification of the Kyoto Protocol by India will encourage other developing countries also to undertake this exercise. Implementation of Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects under this commitment period in accordance with Sustainable Development priorities will attract some investments in India as well.
  • The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) seeks to stabilise Green House Gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would minimize interference with the climate system.
  • Recognizing that developed countries are principally responsible for the current high levels of Greenhouse Gas (GHGs) in the atmosphere, the Kyoto Protocol places commitments on developed nations to undertake mitigation targets and to provide financial resources and transfer of technology to the developing nations. Developing countries like India have no mandatory mitigation obligations or targets under the Kyoto Protocol.

Background:

The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in 1997 and the 1st commitment period was from 2008-2012.

  • At Doha in 2012, the amendments to Kyoto Protocol for the 2nd commitment period (the Doha Amendment) were successfully adopted for the period 2013- 2020.
  • Developed countries have already started implementing their commitments under the ‘opt-in’ provisions of the Doha Amendment.
  • India has always emphasized the importance of climate actions by developed country Parties in the pre-2020 period. Besides, it has advocated climate actions based on the principles and provisions of the Convention, such as the principle of Equity and Common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities (CBDR & RC).

5.Cabinet approves a New Scheme for promotion of Rural Housing in the country

Source: PIB

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister has approved a new scheme for promotion of Rural Housing in the country.

  • The Government would provide interest subsidy under the scheme.
  • Interest subsidy would be available to every rural household who is not covered under the Pradhan Mantri Aawas Yojana (Grameen), PMAY(G).

Key facts:

  • The scheme would enable people in rural areas to construct new houses or add to their existing pucca houses to improve their dwelling units. The beneficiary who takes a loan under the scheme would be provided interest subsidy for loan amount upto Rs. 2 Lakhs.
  • National Housing Bank would implement the scheme.
  • The Government would provide net present value of the interest subsidy of 3 percent to the National Housing Bank upfront which will, in turn, pass it to the Primary Lending Institutions (Scheduled Commercial Banks, NBFCs etc.). As a result the equated monthly installment (EMI) for the beneficiary would be reduced.

Under the scheme, the Government would also take necessary steps for proper convergence with PMAY-G including technical support to beneficiary through existing arrangements.

The new scheme is expected to improve housing stock in the rural areas, as well as create employment opportunities in rural housing sector.

6.LCA (TEJAS) and AEW&C will Fly-Past for first time at RD Parade -2017

Source: PIB

The Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas and Airborne Early Warning & Control System (AEW&C) developed by DRDO will fly-past for the first time during the Republic Day Parade 2017.

Representing India’s stride in indigenous Defence Technologies, the DRDO contingent this year consists of the 155 mm/52 Calibre Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) and Arudhra- the Medium Power Radar.

  1. Tejas: developed by by Aeronautical Development Agency : It is a light-weight and multirole four plus generation tactical fighter aircraft which can carry laser guided bombs and modern missiles to cause extreme damage to the target.
    • Tejas has been inducted into 45th Squadron of Indian Air Force. It is a move towards self-reliance in ‘Air Power’ requirement of the nation.
  2. The Airborne Early Warning & Control System (AEW&C) is an ‘Eye in the Sky’. It is a force multiplier, developed by DRDO for IAF with Centre for Air Borne Systems (CABS) as nodal agency.
  • AEW&C system consists of multiple sensors for Surveillance and Signal Intelligence. It helps in Air Defence operations and is capable of communicating using VHF, UHF, C-Band and SATCOM links for Network Centric Operations.
  • Induction of AEW&C into services will make the country self-reliant and position India in top five countries having this capability.
  1. The Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) is an indigenous weapon system developed by DRDO ATAGS has excellent accuracy, consistency, mobility, reliability and automation and is capable of achieving 47 plus km rang.
  2. Medium Power RadarArudhra has been indigenously developed by Electronics and Radar Development Establishment (LRDE) as nodal agency of DRDO.
  • Arudhra is the first indigenous rotating active phased array multi-function radar with Digital Beam forming technology.
  • The radar covers 360 degree in azimuth and is capable of performing volumetric surveillance to detect and track aerial targets up to 400 km in range and 30 km altitude. This radar can survive intense ECM environment and electromagnetic interference.
  • It is integrated with modern identification of Friend or Foe system to recognize enemy targets and is transportable by road, rail and Air.

7.US President Donald Trump signs executive order to pull US out of TPP

Source: Indian Express

US President Donald Trump signed an executive order to formally pull US out of the negotiating process of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a mega trade deal of 12 Pacific Rim countries.

  • TPP was one of the major international trade initiatives of his predecessor Barack Obama aimed to set trade rules for the 21st century and bind US allies against growing Chinese economic clout.
  • During the Presidential election campaign, Trump had vowed to withdraw the US from the TPP which he argued was harmful to American workers and manufacturing.

Why is Donald Trump pulling out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership?

  • TPP and the North American Free Trade Agreement — that he says have drained U.S. jobs and destroyed its industrial heartlands.
  • Promised to replace the deal with “fair bilateral trade deals that bring jobs and industry back onto American shores”.
  • It is a critic of multi-national trade agreements such as TPP, claiming that the deals put business interests before American jobs.

About Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP):

  • The TPP is a trade agreement under negotiation among 12 Pacific Rim nations accounting for 40% of the world economy.
  • It was promoted by US and signed by 12 countries in 2015.
  • 12 members are Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, US and Vietnam. India was not part of TPP. Two major economies in the region – China and South Korea – are not part of the TPP.
  • The aimed to ease the flow of goods, services and investments among member countries and set trade rules for 21st century especially on labour standards, environmental issues, origin criteria and intellectual property.
  • The mega trade deal was considered as counterweight to growing global economic clout of China, the largest economy in the Pacific Rim.
  • That the TPP would compete with existing and proposed free trade arrangements in Asia and pose a challenge to the economic unity between the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) states since some of them are members of the TPP and, moreover, the ASEAN itself is involved in negotiating a large trade agreement – the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership or the RCEP. The RCEP involves negotiations between 16 countries – the 10 members of the ASEAN and six regional partners (India, Japan, China, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand).

TPP impact on india:

  • As TPP includes other developing countries, it is expected that the trade disciplines and standards will be implemented in these countries other than non-TPP members, affecting India’s trade once TPP gets implemented. The potential impact of TPP on India will be on three fronts, namely:(a) trade diversion; (b) drop in FDI; and (c) geopolitical exclusion.
  • It might have led to market share losses for certain categories of India’s exports due to preference erosion. It could have indirectly impacted exports in several industrial sectors such as textiles, leather, clothing, plastics, cotton and yarn. Even India’s pharmaceutical sector might had suffered due to higher standards compared WTO norms, including on IPR and ever-greening of patents.

Implications for India:

Walking out from TPP threatens the US strategy of rebalancing Asia, which amounted to India-Japan-US security cooperation. This will force India — where US anchored its Asia-Pacific policy — to rethink its Look East Initiative.

  • India was not part of the TPP, but it has been an important instrument of realpolitik for Washington and New Delhi as they sought to counter the rise of an assertive China without hurting their economic equations with the country. In the rebalancing of its resources in Asia-Pacific, the US saw India’s role as the “lynchpin” of the strategy.
  • The US’ “Pivot to Asia” and India’s “Act East” policies conflate. Washington sees India as having a greater role in providing security and stability in the region. The two strategies have been shaping the security order in the region as India was reinvigorating its ties with Asian powers like Japan and Australia that has rattled China greatly.
  • Now, India should not be complacent because of the current uncertainty surrounding TPP. We must fully understand the implications of the various TPP disciplines and how we should strategise ourselves in response to the very many ways they can impact us.

Way ahead:

What happens to TPP after U.S. withdrawal, to suggest that the United States would essentially be excluding itself from Asia’s ongoing economic integration and passing the torch of free trade to China.

8.Pakistan tests 2,200-km range surface-to-surface missile

Source: The Hindu

Pakistan conducted the first flight test of long range surface-to-surface ballistic missile Ababeel.

  • It claimed that the missile has the capability to carry nuclear warheads and engage multiple targets with high precision, defeating the enemy’s hostile radars.
  • The test was successful and that the missile has a maximum range of 2,200 Km. The missile is capable of delivering multiple warheads, using Multiple Independent Re-entry Vehicle (MIRV) technology.

Babur-3 test:

  • Pakistan had conducted a test-firing of submarine-launched cruise missile “Babur-3”, having a range of 450 Km
  • In an obvious reference to India, officials said a second strike capability gives Pakistan the option of a ‘measured response’ to nuclear strategies and postures being adopted in the neighbourhood.
  • Babur-3 is a sea-based variant of cruise missile Babur-2, which was successfully tested in December.
  • Babur 3 It incorporates state-of-the-art technology, including under water controlled propulsion and advanced guidance and navigation features, duly augmented by Global Navigation, Terrain and Scene Matching System.
  • It also features terrain-hugging and sea-skimming flight capabilities that will enable it evade hostile radars

National Bravery Awards to childrens

  • Reminding the children about the significance of the day – 23rd January, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s birth anniversary – the Prime Minister urged the children to read as much as possible, and especially read biographies of leaders, sportspersons and other people who have done great deeds in their lives
  • Bravery is a state of mind; a healthy body helps, but the prime moving force is the mind. Therefore, he added, need to make the mind strong. The children to ensure that the adulation and fame that they are getting, should not become an obstacle to their future progress.

The National Bravery Award Scheme was initiated by the ICCW – Indian Council for Child Welfare – to give due recognition to the children who distinguish themselves by performing outstanding deeds of bravery and meritorious service and to inspire other children to emulate their examples.

 



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