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Insights Daily Current Events, 11 February 2015

Insights Daily Current Events, 11 February 2015

Increasing the Authorised Share Capital of the National Minorities Development and Finance Corporation

The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister, recently, gave its approval for increasing the Authorised Share Capital of the National Minorities Development and Finance Corporation (NMDFC), a Central Sector Public Enterprise (CPSE) under Government of India in the Ministry of Minority Affairs from Rs. 1500 crore to Rs. 3000 crore.

Why was it necessary?

Central Government has exhausted its contribution of (65 percent) by paying share of Rs.975 crore. Hence it is essential that the Authorized Share Capital of the Corporation is enhanced so that the earmarked Central contribution could be released to NMDFC for implementing its schemes for the development of minorities at the lowest rungs of poverty pyramid.

Other approvals:

  • Approval was also given to revise the shareholding pattern from 65:26:9 to 73:26:1 among the Centre, States/Union Territories and Individuals/Institutions respectively.
  • Approval was also given for restructuring of the NMFDC’s business model.

Benefits:

  • The decision will enlarge the quantum of funds available for economic activities, better coverage and enhanced outreach.
  • Enhancement of share capital would expand its ambit of coverage and increase disbursement of funds to larger sections of the economically deprived minority population.
  • The target of NMDFC for the year 2014-15 is to cover 97000 beneficiaries.

NMDFC:

NMDFC was constituted on 30th September 1994 as a non-profit making company under Section 25 of the Companies Act, 1956. The administrative control of NMDFC is vested with the Ministry of Minority Affairs.

What is does?

The NMDFC provides loans at concessional interest rates for self-employment and economic development activities to backward sections of minority communities namely, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and Parsis having family income upto Rs. 1,03,000/- in urban areas and Rs. 81,000/- in rural areas.

“Jains” have been notified as a minority community recently in 2014, and became eligible to be covered under the schemes of NMDFC.

Sources: PIB.

 

National Voter Service Portal (NVSP)

The National Voter Service Portal (NVSP) was launched on 25th January 2015 on the occasion of National Voters’ Day. It provides single window services to electors.

Various services being offered through NVSP are:

  • Search the name in Electoral List.
  • Apply on line in English/ Hindi Language for new registration.
  • Apply online for corrections, if any.
  • User can view details of his Polling booth, Assembly Constituency and Parliamentary constituency.
  • User can get the contact details of Booth Level officer, Electoral Registration Officer and other Election officer.
  • Users can feed Aadhaar Number for attaching it with Election Photo Identity Card (EPIC) data
  • Users can get link to CEO offices websites
  • Users can view audio visual short films to get educated about election processes.
  • Audio Visual scripts are also available for getting to know about the polling processes.
  • Users can watch a short educational film on Electronic Voting Machine(EVM)

Year 2015 has been marked for “easy registration and easy correction” During this year, ECI will endeavour to put in efforts in providing all possible support services to electors with the help of IT tools. NVSP is one of them.

Sources: PIB.

 

HADR Exercise

HARD exercise was recently conducted in the Lakshadweep islands.

What is it?

It is a large scale Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) exercise involving more than 20 ships from the Western and Eastern Fleet and various aircraft of the Indian Navy.

The Exercise involves setting up medical camps, provision of food, shelter from the elements, restoration of basic facilities and limited restoration work till the situation stabilised. This Exercise will further underscore the nation’s capabilities in being the ‘first responder’ in the region during times of humanitarian crises.

Sources: PIB.

 

 

Facebook launches Internet.org in India

Facebook has announced a tie-up with Reliance Communications to launch Internet.org in India.

What is Internet.org?

  • It is a service that the social media giant says helps affordable Internet access. It is a Facebook led initiative envisaged about a year-and-a-half back with six other founding partners, including Samsung and Qualcomm.

What it does?

  • The tie-up gives subscribers of the Reliance Communications who have Internet-enabled handsets free access to 38 Websites – a mix of news, music, education, weather and health sites.
  • The list includes Facebook, Wikipedia, and Reliance Astrology. The lone search option available is Microsoft’s Bing. They can be accessed via an Android app.
  • For the time being, the service has gone live in Maharashtra, Gujarat, A.P., T.N. and Kerala. The pan-India launch is planned in three months.

This partnership will not only accelerate internet penetration In India, it will also open new socioeconomic opportunities to users in fields like education, information and commerce.

Quick facts:

  • India now becomes the sixth destination for Internet.org.
  • The service has already been launched in Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Colombia and Ghana.

However, critics say that the Internet.org model violates most definitions of net neutrality, as it provides access to a limited menu of services claiming to be the Internet — being based on a cable TV model — rather than providing actual access to the Internet at a low cost.

Net neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers and governments should treat all data on the Internet equally, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, site, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or mode of communication.
There are no laws enforcing net neutrality in India.

Sources: The Hindu, TRAI, Wiki.

 

Keynes Prize for Amartya Sen

Nobel laureate Amartya Sen has won the newly instituted Charleston-EFG John Maynard Keynes Prize.

  • He was chosen for this award for his ground-breaking work that has profound impact on the formation of development policy worldwide and outstanding contribution to society.
  • Amartya Sen is regarded as one of the foremost thinkers in the field of famine, poverty, social choice and welfare economics.
  • Professor Sen has done ground-breaking work that has been academically influential and had a profound impact on the formation of development policy worldwide.
  • He has also won Bharat Ratna Award in 1999.

About Keynes Prize:

  • It is an international award, instituted in the memory and spirit of British Economist John Maynard Keynes’ work, life and legacy.
  • The aim of this prize is to honour individuals from around the world who continue to embody Keynes’ extraordinary attributes.

Sources: The Hindu, charleston.org.uk.

 

ICICI Bank launches digital service ‘Pockets’

ICICI Bank recently launched the first digital bank in the country, ‘Pockets’, on a mobile phone.

Who can use it?

  • It can be used by anyone, including those who are not ICICI Bank customers. To avail this service e-wallet application should be downloaded and it can be funded from any bank account.

This wallet uses a virtual Visa card, which enables the users to transact on any website or mobile application in India. Physical card option is also available.

Benefits:

  • The wallet allows users to instantly send money to any e-mail id, mobile number, friends on Facebook and bank account.
  • The users can pay bills, recharge mobiles, book movie tickets, order food, send physical and e-gifts, split and share expenses with friends by using this e-wallet.
  • Users can choose to add a zero-balance savings account to the wallet, which will allow them to earn interest on their idle money.

The limit for transaction is of worth Rs.10,000, if it is not linked to a savings account of ICICI Bank.

A sharp increase in use of smartphones has led to a sudden surge in mobile banking transactions — almost four times in a year in value terms.

Sources: The Hindu.

 

 

Tamil Province charges Colombo with genocide

Sri Lanka’s Northern Provincial Council (NPC) recently passed a strongly worded resolution accusing successive governments in the island nation of committing ‘genocide’ against Tamils.

  • The resolution sought to give an overview of the evidence demonstrating successive Sri Lankan governments’ genocide against Tamils and appealed to the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights to probe the claim and recommend appropriate prosecution.
  • It has also urged the U.S. to take a strong position on Sri Lanka at the upcoming Human Rights Council session in Geneva.
  • The U.N. special rapporteur is due to submit a report on a U.S.-sponsored “war crimes investigations” in the upcoming Geneva session.

India’s stand:

India has traditionally opposed any international investigation into war crimes in Sri Lanka, a position that led to India abstaining from the U.S.-backed resolution at the UNHRC in March 2014.

 

UNHRC:

The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and for addressing situations of human rights violations and make recommendations on them. It meets at the UN Office at Geneva.

  • The Council is made up of 47 United Nations Member States which are elected by the UN General Assembly.
  • The Human Rights Council replaced the former United Nations Commission on Human Rights and is a subsidiary body of the UN General Assembly. The General Assembly established the UNHRC by adopting a resolution on 15 March 2006, in order to replace the previous CHR, which had been heavily criticised for allowing countries with poor human rights records to be members.
  • The council works closely with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and engages the United Nations’ special procedures.
  • The Human Rights Council also works with the UN Special Procedures established by the former Commission on Human Rights and now assumed by the Council. These are made up of special rapporteurs, special representatives, independent experts and working groups that monitor, examine, advise and publicly report on thematic issues or human rights situations in specific countries.
  • The members of the General Assembly elect the members who occupy the UNHRC’s 47 seats. The term of each seat is three years, and no member may occupy a seat for more than two consecutive terms.
  • The General Assembly can suspend the rights and privileges of any Council member that it decides has persistently committed gross and systematic violations of human rights during its term of membership. The suspension process requires a two-thirds majority vote by the General Assembly.

 

Sources: The Hindu, UN.org.

 

A one-way trip to the Red Planet

660 people out of 2,00,000 are remaining for the “Mars One” project. They now face a more stringent astronaut selection process. Those who make the final cut earn a seat on the Mars One mission, a one-way trip to the Red Planet.

About the Mission:

It is a project aimed at establishing a permanent human settlement on Mars.

  • The mission is being carried out by ‘Mars One’, a non-profit organisation based in the Netherlands that has put forward conceptual plans to establish a permanent human colony on Mars.
  • The mission plans to initially send four astronauts on a one-way trip to Mars where they would spend the rest of their lives building the first permanent human settlement.
  • The Mars One mission plan consists of cargo missions and unmanned preparation of a habitable settlement, followed by human landings. In the coming years, a demonstration mission, communication satellites, two rovers and several cargo missions will be sent to Mars. These missions will set up the outpost where the human crew will live and work.
  • The mission design takes into account the expansion of the human colony where a new crew will arrive every two years.
  • Mars One will select and train the human crew for permanent settlement.
  • Mars One has received a variety of criticism, mostly relating to medical, technical and financial feasibility.

 

Sources: The Hindu, www.mars-one.com/.

 

 

 

Mock Questions:

1)Consider the following statements regarding National Minorities Development and Finance Corporation (NMDFC):

  1. It is a Central Sector Public Enterprise (CPSE) whose administrative control is vested with the Ministry of Minority Affairs.
  2. The NMDFC provides loans at concessional interest rates for self-employment and economic development activities to backward sections of minority communities only.
  3. Jain community is not eligible to be covered under the schemes of NMDFC.

Which of the above statements are true?

a)Only 1.

b)Only 1 & 3.

c)Only 1 & 2.

d)All of the above.

 

2)Consider the following regarding the recently launched National Voter Service Portal (NVSP):

  1. Under this NRIs can cast e votes.
  2. Under this voters can now apply online for new registration.
  3. Under this electors can also register cases with the Election Commission of India.

Which of the above statements are true?

a)Only 2.

b)Only 2 & 3.

c)Only 1 & 2.

d)All of the above.

 

3)”HADR” exercise is

a)A large scale Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief exercise by the Indian Navy.

b)The rescue operation conducted under by the Indian Navy in Andhra Pradesh and Odisha during Cyclone Hudhud.

c)The operation conducted by the Indian Navy in which it deployed two warships, which supplied more than 2000 tonnes of fresh water to the city of Male over a period of 10 days.

d)A joint Indo US military exercise.

 

4)Consider the following statements regarding the recently launched internet.org initiative:

  1. It is a Facebook led initiative that provides affordable Internet access.
  2. Facebook has announced a tie-up with Reliance Communications to launch Internet.org in India.
  3. India now becomes the 4th destination for Internet.org.
  4. There are no laws enforcing net neutrality in India.

Which of the above statements are true?

a)Only 1, 2 & 4.

b)Only 2 & 3.

c)Only 1 & 2.

d)All of the above.

 

5)Consider the following statement about Amartya Sen:

  • He is the first recipient of Charleston-EFG John Maynard Keynes Prize.
  • He has also won Bharat Ratna Award in 1999.
  • He is also a Nobel laureate.

Which of the above statements are true?

a)Only 1.

b)Only 2 & 3.

c)Only 1 & 2.

d)All of the above.

 

6)Consider the following statements regarding digital service ‘Pockets’:

  1. It is the first digital bank, available on a mobile phone, in the country.
  2. It was launched by ICICI bank.

Which of the above statements are true?

a)Only 1.

b)Only 2.

c)Both 1 & 2.

d)None of the above.

 

7)Consider the following statements regarding UNHRC:

  1. The Council is made up of 47 United Nations Member States which are elected by the UN General Assembly.
  2. It is a successor to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights
  3. The term of each member is Five years, and no member may occupy a seat for more than two consecutive terms.

Which of the above statements are true?

a)Only 2.

b)Only 2 & 3.

c)Only 1 & 2.

d)All of the above.

 

8)Consider the following regarding “Mars One” Mission:

  1. It is a project aimed at establishing a permanent human settlement on Mars.
  2. It involves only one-way trip to the planet.
  3. The mission is being carried out by NASA.

Which of the above statements are true?

a)Only 1.

b)Only 2 & 3.

c)Only 1 & 2.

d)All of the above.

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