7, October 2016

1.Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos

The Nobel Peace Prize for 2016 has been awarded to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos for his efforts to end his country’s 50-year civil war.

Mr Santos negotiated a peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) guerrilla group but the peace deal was rejected by a narrow majority of Colombians when it was put to referendum.

The award should also be seen as a tribute to the Colombian people who, despite great hardships and abuses, have not given up hope of a just peace, and to all the parties who have contributed to the peace process,” said a statement by the Norwegian Nobel Committee.

2.Heritage Infrastructure projects worth Rs. 350 cr approved

Source: PIB

India is blessed with tangible and intangible heritage assets and it consists of 32 World Heritage Sites, both cultural and natural, recognized by UNESCO. He said that India ranks 5th in the world and 2nd in Asia, in terms of number of World Heritage Sites.

HRIDAY (Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana) scheme was launched by the Government in 2014 for heritage/ tourism oriented urban development.

HRIDAY:( Ministry of Urban Development)

The scheme aims to preserve and revitalise soul of the heritage city.

The Scheme is being implemented in 12 identified Cities namely, Ajmer, Amaravati, Amritsar, Badami, Dwarka, Gaya, Kanchipuram, Mathura, Puri, Varanasi, Velankanni and Warangal.

The Scheme supports development of core heritage infrastructure projects which shall include revitalization of urban infrastructure for areas around heritage assets identified / approved by the Ministry of Culture. These initiatives shall include development of water supply, sanitation, drainage, waste management, approach roads, footpaths, street lights, tourist conveniences, electricity wiring, landscaping and such citizen services.

3.India to host 2016 Asian Ministerial Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction

SOURCE: PIB

  • India is hosting the 2016 Asian Ministerial Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction (AMCDRR) from November 3 to 5, 2016 in New Delhi. This will be second time India hosting AMCDRR.
  • The conference will be hosted by Union Government in collaboration with the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR).
  • It will be first AMCDRR after advent of Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRRR) which was adopted at 3rd UN World Conference in Sendai, Japan in March, 2015.
  • India by hosting AMCDRR re-affirms its commitment to the cause of Disaster Risk Reduction. It will also set the direction of Sendai Framework implementation in the region.

The aim of the conference is to transform the commitments of governments and stakeholders during the Sendai Conference into national and local action. AMCDRR 2016 will focus on consultation, collaboration and partnership with governments and stakeholders to mainstream Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) in the region.

 It will adopt the ‘Asian Regional Plan for Implementation of the Sendai Framework’ endorsed by the Asian countries.  In this conference, senior-level delegations from Asian countries, representatives of UN bodies and Disaster Management experts will participate.

4.250 markets Connected to e-NAM Platform- Ministry of Agriculture

SOURCE: PIB

e-NAM will significantly contribute towards enhancing the farmer’s income

A total number of 585 markets are targeted to be integrated in first phase with e-NAM by March 2018, out of which 400 markets will be integrated by March 2017.

  • National Agriculture Market (NAM) is a pan-India electronic trading portal which networks the existing APMC mandis to create a unified national market for agricultural commodities.
  • The NAM Portal provides a single window service for all APMC related information and services. This includes commodity arrivals & prices, buy & sell trade offers, provision to respond to trade offers, among other services. While material flow (agriculture produce) continue to happen through mandis, an online market reduces transaction costs and information asymmetry.
  • NAM addresses these challenges by creating a unified market through online trading platform, both, at State and National level and promotes uniformity, streamlining of procedures across the integrated markets, removes information asymmetry between buyers and sellers and promotes real time price discovery, based on actual demand and supply, promotes transparency in auction process, and access to a nationwide market for the farmer, with prices commensurate with quality of his produce and online payment and availability of better quality produce and at more reasonable prices to the consumer.

5.RBI panel moots easing bank branch norms

Source: The Hindu

An internal working group set up by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has proposed to relax bank branch norms by suggesting that branches, including those manned by business correspondents that provide minimum 4 hours of service for 5 days a week, be allowed to be treated as a full-service branch.

Report:

The panel, according to the report, recommended that for banks to open such outlets they should meet the 25 per cent norm of opening banking outlets in un-banked rural centres. It has redefined the un-banked rural centre (URC) as a “rural (tier 5 and 6) centre that does not have a core banking solution-enabled ‘banking outlet.

With a view to incentivising the opening of banking outlets in North-Eastern States, Sikkim and in Extremism Affected Districts, a banking outlet or a part-time banking outlet opened in any of these States/notified districts, will be treated as a banking outlet or part-time banking outlet in an unbanked rural centre.

A part-time banking outlet opened in any centre will be counted in for computing compliance with the 25 per cent branch opening norm.

6.LIC, pension funds must invest in start-ups: DIPP Secretary

Source: The Hindu

In order to boost start-ups, the government would consider a slew of policies that could, among other things, enable pension funds as well as insurance firms such as LIC to invest in start-ups, according to Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP).

Start up:

Startup India is a flagship initiative of the Government of India, intended to build a strong eco-system for nurturing innovation and Startups in the country that will drive sustainable economic growth and generate large scale employment opportunities. The Government through this initiative aims to empower Startups to grow through innovation and design.

In order for a “Startup” to be considered eligible, the Startup should

  • supported by a recommendation (with regard to innovative), in a format specified by DIPP

SIDBI’s Start-up interventions

Startup Action Plan announced on January 16, 2016, envisaged establishment of Fund of Funds for Startups (FFS) was envisaged.

  • Corpus is Rs.10,000 crore to be managed by SIDBI.

The Standup India initiative is also aimed at promoting entrepreneurship among SCs/STs, women communities. Rural India’s version of Startup India was named the Deen Dayal Upadhyay Swaniyojan Yojana.

7.Adoption of GST poised to boost India’s medium-term growth: IMF

Source: The Hindu

IMF’s latest Asia Pacific regional economic update

  • India has shown that progress on reforms could ignite business investment (including already strong FDI inflows), further boosting domestic demand
  • The adoption of goods and services tax is poised to boost the country’s medium—term growth
  • Greater labour market flexibility and product market competition remain essential to create jobs and raise growth
  • Priorities also include effective implementation of the new corporate debt restructuring mechanisms.

India’s GDP growth:

The IMF said India’s GDP growth is projected at 7.6 per cent in both 2016/17 fiscal year (ending in March 2017) and 2017/18 fiscal year, up 0.1 percentage point relative to the April 2016 World Economic Outlook, a survey conducted and published by the IMF.

India growth:

  • Monsoon rainfall coming in at normal levels bodes well for agriculture and, along with a decennial rise in government employee salaries, will underpin the ongoing recovery in domestic demand.
  • Further progress on reforms will boost sentiment, and the incipient recovery of private investment is expected to help broaden the sources of growth amid gradual fiscal consolidation and broadly neutral monetary policy.
  • The IMF said India’s growth has continued to benefit from the large improvement in the terms of trade, positive policy actions, including implementation of key structural reforms, gradual reduction of supply-side constraints, and a rebound in confidence.
  • Consumption growth has remained strong and activity in core industrial sectors has picked up. Government consumption is set to continue to support growth in 2016.
  • According to the report, in China, GDP growth is projected to remain relatively strong in the near term, helped by the fiscal stimulus on infrastructure spending. Overall, growth is projected to be 6.6 per cent in 2016 and 6.2 per cent in 2017 (0.1 percentage point higher for 2016 relative to the April 2016 WEO), reflecting fiscal stimulus and credit support.

8.GM mustard may be stalled indefinitely

Source: The Hindu

  • Even though GM mustard may have been declared safe by a government sub-committee, it may yet remain in the can for an indefinite period
  • Centre’s preliminary clearance to GM mustard, named Dhara Mustard Hybrid-11 (DMH-11), contravenes a 2013 report by a Supreme Court-appointed technical expert committee. This committee had said that herbicide-tolerant crops ought not be permitted in India.
  • One of the genes in DMH-11 contains a gene called ‘bar’ that confers herbicide tolerance . This makes plants resistant to a class of weedicide containing the chemical Glufosinate.
  • Critics say glufosinate is toxic and makes farmers dependent on certain brands of crop chemicals.

9.Non-communicable diseases killed more Indians in 2015

Source: The Hindu

  • In 2015, India, like other developed countries, had more number of deaths caused by non-communicable diseases.
  • In the case of males, deaths due to non-communicable diseases (3.6 million) were more than double that were caused by communicable diseases (1.5 million), while it was nearly double in females (2.7 million due to non-communicable diseases and nearly 1.4 million deaths due to communicable diseases).
  • Cardiovascular diseases were the leading cause of death in both sexes in India — 1.6 million in males and 1.1 million in females.
  • The next biggest cause of deaths was chronic respiratory diseases — 0.68 million in males and 0.5 million in females.

Leading risk factors:

  • For both sexes, the leading risk factors are high systolic blood pressure, fasting plasma glucose, ambient particulate matter, household air pollution, and unsafe water.
  • Smoking is a bigger risk factor for Indians than even cholesterol and iron deficiency. Childhood under-nutrition and lack of whole grains figure in list.
  • Iron-deficiency anaemia is the leading cause of years lived with disability in the case of India, followed by lower back and neck pain, sense organ diseases, and depression.

Slower reduction in MMR

Along with Nepal and Bhutan, India has registered a slower reduction in maternal mortality rate (MMR). MMR was reduced by a little over 50 per cent in 25 years (1990 to 2015), from over 130,000 deaths in 1990 to nearly 64,000 deaths in 2015.

10.New frog species discovered in Australia

Source: The Hindu

A new frog species, which closely resembles the Graceful tree frog (Litoria Gracilenta), was discovered in Australia’s largest virgin forest in Queensland.

11.India-Sri Lanka economic pact by 2016-end

Source: The Hindu

Both India & Sri Lanka have decided to conclude an enhanced bilateral economic partnership and also the existing FTA by the end of this year to allow the free flow of services, investments and technology which Closer economic ties can especially boost India’s five southern States.

Sri Lanka has suggested the creation of a larger special zone of economic cooperation around the Bay of Bengal. It would takes on board Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia in addition to BIMSTEC countries. BIMSTEC stands for Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation and its members are Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal.

Sri Lanka is negotiating FTA with Singapore, while India already has comprehensive economic partnership pact with the latter. So there is scope for a trilateral arrangement to boost the three economies.

China and Srilanka ties:

Categorically denied there was any military engagement involved in its negotiations with China for its ‘One Road, One Belt’ initiative.

Negotiating an FTA with China under its OBOR initiative as it is necessary to make the Chinese investments in the country realise their full potential.

12.Global growth to stay weak: IMF

Source: The Hindu

The International Monetary Fund maintained its forecast for weak global growth and warned that further stagnation will fuel more populist sentiment against trade and immigration that would stifle activity, productivity and innovation.

In the latest update of its World Economic Outlook by IMF.

The  IMF said that a drop in U.S. growth for 2016 due to a weak first-half performance would be offset by strengthening in Japan, Germany, Russia, India and some other emerging markets.

India’s growth will improve slightly to 7.6 per cent in both years.

Database: Use this database to find data on national accounts, inflation, unemployment rates, balance of payments, fiscal indicators, trade for countries and country groups (aggregates), and commodity prices whose data are reported by the IMF.

13.750 kg sea cucumbers seized

Source: The Hindu

In a huge haul, Forest Department personnel seized 750 kg of sea cucumbers, protected under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

Sea cucumber:

Sea cucumbers are echinoderms, marine animals with cylindrical shape living on the ocean floor.

There are more than 1,700 species distributed across the world but more in Asia Pacific region.

In India, they are protected as Schedule I species under the Wildlife Protection Act and fishing them from sea bottom is banned.

Since sea cucumbers are not banned in the neighbouring countries, smugglers transport processed ones either by sea or road from where they are sent especially to far eastern countries where there is a greater demand.

 

 



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