29 & 30, January 2017

Classical ‘Yaman’ raga at 68th Beating Retreat

The 68th Beating Retreat ceremony had something different to offer audiences — Yaman, a heptatonic raga was infused into the centuries-old military tradition.

  • Sixteen military bands, eight pipes and drums bands from regimental centres, eight pipes and drums bands from various battalions, state police and Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) bands, and the Navy and Air Force bands performed to a packed house.
  • President Pranab Mukherjee, whose tenure ends later this year, greeted the audience from his buggy.
  • A Subedar J P James composition, this was a departure from poet Vanshidhar Shukla’s popular Qadam Qadam badhaye ja — the regimental quick march of Subhash Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army — which has played for many years now.

INSAT-3DR to map farm fires in Haryana, Punjab

INSAT-3DR works in tandem with INSAT-3D, operational since 2014, in sending raw data and high-resolution images, zoomed up to 1 kilometre near the earth’s surface, every 15 minutes.

The IMD shares information relayed by these satellites with international agencies like the US-based National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Indian Navy launches search to procure 57 carrier-borne fighter jets

The  aircraft are “intended as day-and-night capable, all-weather, multi-role, deck-based combat aircraft which can be used for air defence, air-to-surface operations, buddy refuelling, reconnaissance etc from IN aircraft carriers.

At present, the Navy operates 45 MIG-29K jets, which from time-to-time face serviceability issues. Currently, six planes are compatible for aircraft carrier flying.

Currently, six planes are compatible for aircraft carrier flying.

  1. They are Rafale (Dassault, France),
  2. F-18 Super Hornet (Boeing, US),
  3. MIG-29K (Russia),
  4. F-35B and F-35C (Lockheed Martin, US) and
  5. Gripen (Saab, Sweden).
  6. While F-18, Rafale and MIG-29K are twin engine jets, the remaining three have single engine.

1.India Post gets payments bank licence

Source: The Hindu

India Post has received payments bank licence from the Reserve Bank of India to start roll-out of banking operations commercially under the permit.

  • India Post has received payments bank licence.
  • The service will be launched as per schedule,” a Department of Posts official.
  • India Post Payments Bank is the third entity to receive payments bank permit after Bharti Airtel and Paytm.

Key facts:

  • Payments banks can accept deposits up to Rs. 1 lakh per account from individuals and small businesses.
  • The new model allows mobile firms, supermarket chains and others to cater to banking requirements of individuals and small businesses.
  • It will be set up as a differentiated bank and will confine its activities to acceptance of demand deposits, remittance services, Internet banking and Direct benefit Transfer
  • Doorstep Banking.

India post payment bank:

  • IPPB aims to give every Indian access to efficient banking services.
  • Incorporated as a Public Sector Bank under the Department of Posts with 100% GOI equity, IPPB has launched on January 30th, 2017 in Ranchi and Raipur with the objective of being present in all corners of India by the end of the year.

Payment Bank:

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the Guidelines for Licensing of Payments Banks.

Payment banks are non-full service banks, whose main objective is to accelerate financial inclusion. These banks have to use the word ‘Payment Bank’ in its name which will differentiate it from other banks

Key features of the Payments Banks guidelines are:

The objectives of setting up of payments banks will be to further financial inclusion by providing

  1. Small savings accounts and
  2. Payments/remittance services to migrant labour workforce, low income households, small businesses, other unorganised sector entities and other users.

What are the required  procedures? For Payment bank by Banking regulation act 1949 RBI

  1. Eligible promoters: Existing non-bank Pre-paid Payment Instrument (PPI) issuers; and other entities such as individuals / professionals; Non-Banking Finance Companies (NBFCs), corporate Business Correspondents(BCs) and others.
  2. Capital requirement : The minimum paid-up equity capital for payments banks shall be Rs. 100 crore. The payments bank should have a leverage ratio of not less than 3 per cent,e., its outside liabilities should not exceed 33.33 times its net worth (paid-up capital and reserves).
  3. Promoter’s contribution: The promoter’s minimum initial contribution to the paid-up equity capital of such payments bank shall at least be 40 per cent for the first five years from the commencement of its business.
  4. Foreign shareholding: The foreign shareholding in the payments bank would be as per the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) policy for private sector banks as amended from time to time.
  5. Deployment of funds :
  • The payments bank cannot undertake lending activities.
  • Apart from amounts maintained as Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) with the Reserve Bank on its outside demand and time liabilities, it will be required to invest minimum 75 per cent of its “demand deposit balances”
  • Statutory Liquidity Ratio(SLR) eligible Government securities/treasury bills with maturity up to one year and hold maximum 25 per cent in current and time/fixed deposits with other scheduled commercial banks for operational purposes and liquidity management.
  1. Scopes of activities of Payment Banks
  • Payments banks will mainly deal in remittance services and accept deposits of up to Rs 1 lakh.
  • They will not lend to customers and will have to deploy their funds in government papers and bank deposits.
  • The promoter’s minimum initial contribution to equity capital will have to be at least 40% for the first five years.
  • They can accept demand deposits.
  • Payments bank will initially be restricted to holding a maximum balance of Rs. 100,000 per individual customer.
  • They can issue ATM/debit cards but not credit cards.
  • They can carry out payments and remittance services through various channels.
  • Distribution of non-risk sharing simple financial products like mutual fund units and insurance products, etc. is allowed.

2.National Film Heritage Mission

  • Ministry of Information and Broadcasting is committed to safeguarding the country’s filmic and non-filmic heritage and is taking all necessary steps to preserve films and non-filmic material for posterity as per global standards.
  • This is a one-of-its-kind project in the world, wherein the Government is spending huge amount of money towards the aspect of film preservation, in order to make rich filmic heritage available for the future generations to come.
  • NFAI’s initiative of digitization of non-filmic material. Secretary said, “this is a step in the direction of Government’s Digital India initiative, wherein non-filmic heritage of the country would be digitized, restored and made available to the people at large.
  • NFHM is the prestigious mission of Government of India, for preservation, conservation, digitization and restoration of rich cinematic heritage of the country.

National Film Archive of India (NFAI) is the nodal organization for the implementation of this project.

2.FinMin may aid rail safety fund

Source: The Hindu

The corpus will be used to improve tracks and for bridge rehabilitation work

The Finance Ministry has agreed to contribute partially to a new dedicated railway safety fund in the upcoming Budget to be presented on February 1.

  • Train derailments have increased to a six-year high of 74 till January 23 this year compared to 65 in 2015-16 and this may prompt the Railways to bring back a cess on railway tickets to fund safety efforts.

Key facts:

  • The Railways had asked for ‘Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh’ to be set up based on the recommendations of a high-level safety review committee under former chairman Atomic Energy Commission Dr. Anil Kakodkar.
  • The dedicated rail safety fund is proposed to be utilised for track improvement, bridge rehabilitation work, rolling stock replacement, human resource development, improved inspection system and safety work at level-crossings, among other things.
  • The Railway Ministry had requested the Finance Ministry to create a ‘non-lapsable’ safety fund named ‘Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh’ over five years.
  • However, the Finance Ministry is likely to grant a fresh infusion of only Rs. 5,000 crore in the upcoming financial year out of the initial proposed corpus of Rs. 20,000 crore. About Rs. 10,000 crore will likely be earmarked from the Central Road Fund (CRF) that is collected by levying a cess on diesel and petrol at present for safety-related work.

It have to bring back a cess on rail tickets to finance its share of Rail Safety Fund or look to fund it from non-budgetary resources.

4.Odisha rejects panel on Mahanadi

Source: The Hindu

The Odisha government has rejected the Centre’s negotiation committee on Mahanadi river water dispute with Chhattisgarh.

  • According to the Odisha government, the committee is not in accordance with the provisions of Sec 4(1) of the Inter-State Rover Water Dispute Act of 1956 and its composition is arbitrary.

Key facts:

The provisions of the ISRWD Act of 1965 put responsibility on the central government to negotiate after receiving complaints and in this regard the principle of federal relations mandated that the constitutional functionaries namely the prime minister or Union minister for water resources conduct negotiations with the chief ministers of the riparian states rather than appointing a committee headed by an officer of the subordinate office namely Central Water Commission.

Mahanadi water dispute between Odisha and Chhattisgarh

  • The 850km length of the Mahanadi river is divided almost equally between Chhattisgarh, where it born, and downstream Odisha. Last year Odisha government opposed barrages that Chhattisgarh has been constructing.
  • Odisha government alleges that these barrages are meant to feed industrial projects and will block the flow of water into Odisha whose dependence on the river is greater. Chhattisgarh has denied this allegation pointing out that much of the river in Odisha flows untapped and straight into the sea.

Tributaries: Seonath River: The Seonath River is the longest tributary of Mahanadi

Left: Seonath, Mand, Ib, Hasdeo

Right: Ong, Jonk, Telen

Bhargavi, Bhramani, Daya, Devi, Hasdeo, Ib, Jonk, Kuakhai, Kushabhadra, Mand, Ong, Pairi, Shivnath, Sondur, Surubalijora, Tel, Telen river.

The major tributaries of River Mahanadi are Hadso and Tel rivers, The Tel River flows in Sonpur District of Orissa. Tel is the second largest river of Orissa. The Hadso river is an important tributary of Mahanadi River, flowing in Madhya Pradesh.

5.CCS among top 100 think tanks

Source: The Hindu

Global Go To Think Tank Index Report 2016 released annually by the Lauder Institute of Pennsylvania University, US

ORF emerges top Indian think tank in Asia  China, India, Japan and the Republic of Korea category, ranks 5th out of 90. There are 29 Indian think tanks among the list of 90.

1.The Centre for Civil Society (CCS) has been ranked among the top 100 think tanks globally, while nine other Indian institutes figured among the top 175 for the year 2016.

2.The CCS is ranked 80 which is one lower than last year’s rank.

3.The CCS is a pioneering organisation in India in liberal thinking, National Institute for Public Finance and Policy and a scholar associated with the institute.

  • CCS took initiatives on the rights of individuals and on the concept of freedom. In India we are gradually learning the importance of freedom and CCS has been an extremely important part of that journey
  1. Indian think tanks in the top 200 are Institute of Defence and Security Analysis (IDSA) at 105, Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) at 110.
  2. Chatham House, U.K. was declared the top think tank of the world while Brookings Institution of U.S. retained the position as the top think tank worldwide in U.S. and Non-U.S. category.
  3. In terms of numbers, the U.S. has 1,835 think tanks, the highest globally, followed by China with 435, and the United Kingdom has 288. India stands in 4th position with 280 think tanks.

6.HRD Ministry proposes to set up National Research Foundation

Source: Indian Express

Ministry sources said the National Research Foundation (NRF) will leverage more resources from the industry to support 500 collaborative research projects between Indian institutions and universities abroad.

  • In addition to its own seed grant, will leverage more resources from the industry to support 500 collaborative research projects between Indian institutions such as IITs, NITs, IISERs and reputed universities abroad.

Key facts:

India lags way behind internationally in terms of its spending on research.

  • The country spends just 0.85 per cent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on research as opposed to China which spends 2.10 per cent, USA 2.74 per cent, Japan 3.58 per cent and Israel, which contributes 4.11 per of its GDP to this cause.
  • The NRF will work with Science and Engineering Research Board and Indian Council of Medical Research and finance some of their research. It will also help the IMPRINT programme, which is facing financial problems at this moment.
  • As a result, only four patents are filed per million population in India. China files 396 patents per million people, South Korea files 2,962 and Japan files 2,250 patents. “NRF will be an umbrella body which will establish research priorities and provide 50 per cent of the funds required for research projects that fit the bill.
  • IMPRINT is a single window mechanism for funding India-specific research across IITs and other prestigious institutes, which was launched by the ministry with much fanfare last year.

IMPRINT programme: HRD Ministry(IMPacting Research INnovation and Technology)

IMPRINT is the first of its kind MHRD supported Pan-IIT + IISc joint initiative to address the major science and engineering challenges that India must address and champion to enable, empower and embolden the nation for inclusive growth and self-reliance.

This novel initiative with twofold mandate is aimed at:

  • Developing new engineering education policy
  • Creating a road map to pursue engineering challenges

IMPRINT provides the overarching vision that guides research into areas that are predominantly socially relevant.

7.India to focus on BIMSTEC after hurdles from Pakistan

Bimstec Headquarters is situated in Dhaka, Bangladesh

Source: Economic Times

India has decided to focus on strengthening the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) amid Pakistan’s continued intransigence in blocking key anti-terror and connectivity initiatives under the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation or SAARC.

Nepal, as the BIMSTEC chair, is scheduled to host the group’s summit this year, the first since the new government in India assumed office in May 2014.


  • India as the biggest country in the BIMSTEC is giving special attention to the grouping in the 20th year of its creation. The grouping, which does not include Pakistan, could serve as an alternative to SAARC to give countries in South Asia a new direction.
  • The BIMSTEC is also a bridge between South Asia and Southeast Asia. The two Southeast Asian countries in the grouping, Myanmar and Thailand, have a crucial place for India’s ambitious connectivity plans for northeastern region.
  • Myanmar is only Southeast Asian country India has a land boundary with. An India-Myanmar-Thailand highway is one of the key projects that figures in a big way in the government’s Act East (earlier Look East) policy.
  • With the India-Pakistan bickering coming in way of a smooth functioning of the Saarc, groupings such as BIMSTEC can take forward the concept of regional cooperation in a different manner.

BIMSTEC: ‘Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation’ (BIMSTEC)

  • Though BIMSTEC is a Bay of Bengal camp, two land-locked states — Nepal and Bhutan — are also part of the seven member-group. Five of them are from South Asia — India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka — and two from South East Asia — Myanmar and Thailand.
  • The BIMSTEC region is home to around 1.5 billion people which constitute around 22% of the global population. The region has a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of $2.7 trillion. In the last five years, BIMSTEC member states have been able to sustain an average 6.5% economic growth trajectory despite global financial meltdown.
  • Principles: The cooperation within BIMSTEC will be based on respect for the principle of sovereign equality, territorial integrity, political independence, non-interference in internal affairs, peaceful co-existence and mutual benefit.
  • This cooperation within BIMSTEC will constitute an addition to, and not be a substitute for, bilateral, regional or multilateral cooperation involving the member states.

Priority sectors of the BIMSTEC grouping

BIMSTEC covers 14 priority sectors. Each country leads one or more area in a voluntary manner. India leads two — counter terrorism and transnational crime, telecommunication and transport. The other key sectors are trade and investment, technology, energy, tourism, fisheries, agriculture, cultural cooperation, environment and disaster management, public health, people-to-people contact, poverty alleviation, etc.

Objectives of BIMSTEC:

  • To create an enabling environment for rapid economic development through identification and implementation of specific cooperation projects in the sectors.
  • To accelerate the economic growth and social progress in the sub-region through joint endeavors in a spirit of equality and partnership.
  • To promote active collaboration and mutual assistance on matters of common interest in the economic, social, technical and scientific fields.
  • To provide assistance to each other in the form of training and research facilities in the educational, professional and technical spheres.
  • To cooperate in projects that can be dealt with most productively on a sub-regional basis and make best use of available synergies among BIMSTEC member countries.

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