Insights Daily Current Affairs, 21 April 2017
Paper 2 Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.
Legal Aid and Empowerment initiatives
Three key legal aid and empowerment initiatives of the Department of Justice were recently launched. These initiatives are aimed at fulfilling the department’s core mandate of enhancing ‘access to justice’ for the poor and vulnerable communities, including making accessible quality and effective legal aid for them.
Following initiatives were launched:
Pro bono legal Services:
The ‘Pro bono legal services’ initiative is a web based platform, through which interested lawyers can register themselves to volunteer pro bono services for the underprivileged litigants, who are unable to afford it.
- The Department of Justice has launched the online application for this initiative on its website doj.gov.in. Through this online portal, litigants from marginalised communities (including members of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, women, children, senior citizens, persons with low income and persons with disabilities) can also apply for legal aid and advice from the pro bono lawyers.
- This is aimed at fulfilling the mandate of quality legal aid for all.
Tele Law: Mainstreaming Legal Aid through Common Service Centre:
Through this initiative, the Department of Justice and NALSA are partnering with CSC- E- Governance Service Limited for mainstreaming legal aid to the marginalized communities through the Common Service Centers (CSCs). This initiative is aimed at facilitating delivery of legal advice through an expert panel of lawyers – stationed at the State Legal Services Authorities (SLSA). The project would connect lawyers with clients through video conferencing facilities at CSCs, operated by para legal volunteers. For this purpose, this initiative would also play a pivotal role in empowering 1000 women para legal volunteers.
- Using CSCs for mainstreaming legal aid services for the marginalized at the panchayat levels would ensure that legal aid reaches populations which remained untouched due to geographical challenges and/or lack of infrastructure.
- The project would be launched across 1800 panchayats in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, North Eastern States and Jammu & Kashmir.
District Facilitation Centre to reduce pendency: Engagement of Nyaya Mitra:
Nyaya Mitra scheme is aimed at reducing pendency of cases across selected districts, with special focus on those pending for more than 10 years.
- Functionalized through a retired judicial or executive officer (with legal experience) designated as the ‘Nyaya Mitra’, the project would be operated out of District Facilitation Centres, housed in CSCs.
- Nyaya Mitra’s responsibilities would include among others assistance to litigants who are suffering due to delay in investigations or trial, by actively identifying such cases through the National Judicial Data Grid, providing legal advice and connecting litigants to DLSA, CSC Tele Law, other government agencies and civil society organisations. He/she shall also refer the marginalized applicants to Lok Adalats for dispute resolution and render assistance towards prison reforms within the district, in coordination with the district judiciary and other stakeholders.
- This initiative would be launched in 227 districts including 27 districts from North East and Jammu & Kashmir and 200 districts from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Odisha, Gujarat, West Bengal etc. and would be operated out of CSCs.
Paper 3 Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
Government of India to issue Sovereign Gold Bonds 2017-18
Government of India, in consultation with the Reserve Bank of India, has decided to issue Sovereign Gold Bonds 2017-18 – Series I.
- The Bonds will be sold through banks, Stock Holding Corporation of India Limited (SHCIL), designated post offices and recognised stock exchanges viz., National Stock Exchange of India Limited and Bombay Stock Exchange.
Key features of the bond:
- Issuance: To be issued by Reserve Bank India on behalf of the Government of India.
- Eligibility: The Bonds will be restricted for sale to resident Indian entities including individuals, HUFs, Trusts, Universities and Charitable Institutions.
- Denomination: The Bonds will be denominated in multiples of gram(s) of gold with a basic unit of 1 gram.
- Tenor: The tenor of the Bond will be for a period of 8 years with exit option from 5th year to be exercised on the interest payment dates.
- Minimum size: Minimum permissible investment will be 1 gram of gold.
- Maximum limit: The maximum amount subscribed by an entity will not be more than 500 grams per person per fiscal year (April-March). A self-declaration to this effect will be obtained.
- Interest rate: The investors will be compensated at a fixed rate of 2.50% per annum payable semi-annually on the nominal value.
- Collateral: Bonds can be used as collateral for loans. The loan-to-value (LTV) ratio is to be set equal to ordinary gold loan mandated by the Reserve Bank from time to time.
- Tradability: Bonds will be tradable on stock exchanges within a fortnight of the issuance on a date as notified by the RBI.
Paper 3 Topic: Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.
Anti-dumping duty likely on hydrogen peroxide
Government is planning to impose anti-dumping duty of up to $118 per tonne on import of hydrogen peroxide used by industries in applications such as corrosion control and paper bleaching from six countries.
- The move is aimed at guarding domestic players from cheap imports of ‘hydrogen peroxide’ from Bangladesh, Taiwan, Korea, Indonesia, Pakistan and Thailand.
- Hydrogen peroxide is a colourless liquid, slightly more viscous than water.
- Hydrogen peroxide is the simplest peroxide.
- It is used as an oxidizer, bleaching agent and disinfectant. It is also used as ripening agent.
- Concentrated hydrogen peroxide, or “high-test peroxide”, is a reactive oxygen species and has been used as a propellant in rocketry.
- Hydrogen peroxide is unstable and slowly decomposes in the presence of base or a catalyst. Because of its instability, hydrogen peroxide is typically stored with a stabilizer in a weakly acidic solution.
- Hydrogen peroxide is found in biological systems including the human body. Enzymes that use or decompose hydrogen peroxide are classified as peroxidases.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
Logistics pact with U.S. ‘almost done’
India is all set to notify the operationalising of the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) with the U.S.
- The notification includes designating the points of contact for the U.S. military to work with and setting up a common account for payments. The U.S., which has similar agreements with several countries, has already notified the details.
- After the notification, the U.S. is expected to formally ratify the agreement which will then operationalise the pact.
India and the U.S. concluded the logistics agreement, the first of the three foundational agreements between the two nations, last August. However, its implementation has been delayed, as India was unable to streamline administrative procedures to enable its operationalisation.
The LEMOA pact:
LEMOA stands for Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA), a tweaked India-specific version of the Logistics Support Agreement (LSA), which the U.S. has with several countries it has close military to military cooperation. It is also one of the three foundational agreements — as referred to by the U.S.
- LEMOA gives access, to both countries, to designated military facilities on either side for the purpose of refuelling and replenishment. India and the U.S. already hold large number of joint exercises during which payments are done each time, which is a long and tedious process.
- Under the new agreement, a mechanism will be instituted for book-keeping and payments and officials, who will act as nodal points of contact, will be designated on both sides.
- The agreement will primarily cover four areas — port calls, joint exercises, training and Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief. Any other requirement has to be agreed upon by both sides on a case-by-case basis.
- However, this is not a basing agreement. There will be no basing of the U.S. troops or assets on Indian soil. This is purely a logistical agreement.
What are the foundational agreements for?
They are meant to build basic ground work and promote interoperability between militaries by creating common standards and systems. They also guide sale and transfer of high-end technologies.
Other foundational agreements:
The other foundational agreements are the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) and the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geospatial Information and Services Cooperation (BECA).
The COMCASA and BECA enable technology transfer and seamless communication between the military systems of the two countries.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
‘U.S. must support Paris accord’
The nodal climate agency of the United Nations, the UNFCCC, is seeking alternative sources of funding, in the face of likely budget cuts by the United States.
The U.S. government recently postponed a meeting to decide whether to remain in the Paris Agreement. The U.S. government’s budget proposal which aimed at slashing funds for the Global Climate Change Initiative could lead to a reduction of 20% of funding towards the UNFCCC’s operational costs.
About the Paris agreement:
The Paris Agreement is ambitious in several respects. It resolves to hold global temperature rise to “well below 2 degrees Celsius” above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts towards a 1.5 degrees C temperature limit.
- This ambitious goal is complemented by a binding obligation to submit mitigation contributions every five years and to pursue domestic measures to achieve them. For every five-year cycle, states must put forward contributions more ambitious than their last.
- To ensure delivery, the agreement puts in place a robust transparency framework. States will provide information on the implementation of their contributions, which is then subject to a technical expert review process. In addition, the agreement envisages a “global stocktake” every five years to assess collective progress towards long-term goals.
- Significantly, the global stocktake will also take into account “equity” — thus paving the way for conversation on burden-sharing between nations.
- The agreement puts in place strong top-down elements that are expected to discipline self-determination and enhance ambition. The agreement also recognises the fact that the global temperature goal must be achieved in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication.
- The Paris agreement presses countries as far as they could on differentiation and finance. The agreement includes a provision requiring developed countries to send $100 billion annually to their developing counterparts beginning in 2020. This figure is expected to increase with time.
Sources: the hindu.
Facts for Prelims:
Civil Services Day:
- The Civil Services Day is organized on 21st April every year, when civil servants re-dedicate themselves to the cause of the citizens and renew their commitment to public service.
- This day coincides with the date on which SardarVallabhbhai Patel had addressed the first batch of probationers at the All India Administrative Service Training School at Metcalfe House, New Delhi in 1947.
GMR Hyderabad Airport gets carbon neutrality certificate:
- The GMR Hyderabad International Airport Limited has received the Carbon Neutrality (Level 3+) Certificate from the Airports Council International (ACI).
- The certification comes under ACI’s Airport Car Accreditation Programme that is the industry standard for assessment of an airport’s efforts to manage and reduce carbon emissions. The programme was launched in June, 2009 and comprises four levels.
- Airports Council International (ACI) is the only global trade representative of the world’s airport authorities. Established in 1991, ACI represents airports’ interests with governments and international organizations, develops standards, policies and recommended practices for airports, and it provides information and training opportunities to raise the standards around the world.
For the First Time, UNESCO’s Peace Prize Goes to a Mayor:
- A Unesco jury has awarded the organization’s prestigious ‘peace prize’ to the mayor of Lampedusa, the Italian island which gained fame as a hotspot for migrant arrivals.
- Mayor Giusi Nicolini was awarded the prize together with French NGO SOS Mediterrannee, for their work in saving the lives of refugees and migrants and for welcoming them with dignity.
- The peace prize, also known as the Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize, named after the first president of Ivory Coast, has been awarded by Unesco each year since 1989, to recognize individuals and groups who “safeguard, maintain, and seek peace”.
After Mars, ISRO decides it’s time to probe Venus:
- The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has invited scientists to suggest studies for a potential orbiter mission to Venus – somewhat similar to the one that landed in Mars in 2013.
- ISRO plans to send a spacecraft that will initially go around Venus in an elliptical orbit before getting closer to the ‘Yellow Planet’. It will carry instruments weighing 175 kg and using 500W of power.
- Venus, the second planet from the Sun, comes closest to Earth roughly every 583 days, or about 19 months.
- Venus, our closest planetary neighbour, is similar to Earth in many aspects. However, it takes only 225 days to revolve around the Sun. Secondly, the surface is very hot due to nearness to the Sun.
- Ever since the then USSR sent the Venera mission to Venus in February 1961, there have been close to 30 missions to the planet, the last one being Japan’s Akatsuki in 2010. These comprised orbiters, landers, atmospheric probes and fly-bys.
- The erstwhile Soviet Union tops the list with 16 Veneras and two Vegas. The US had Mariner, Pioneer and Magellan missions.