Insights Daily Current Affairs, 31 Aug 2017
Topic: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
Atal Pension Yojana (APY) surges ahead with 62 lakh enrolment
The Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) through its ‘One Nation One Pension’ Mobilization Campaign has sourced approximately 3.07 lakh APY accounts which led to a total of 62 lakh enrolments under the Atal Pension Yojana (APY) as on date. This campaign was organized all over the country by PFRDA from 2nd August to 19th August 2017 in association with the APY Service Provider Banks.
- The objective of PFRDA is to cover the maximum possible population uncovered by any pension scheme under the APY scheme so that India as a nation can move from a pension less to a pensioned society and the citizens can live a life of dignity in their vulnerable years.
The Atal Pension Yojana became operational from June 1, 2015 and is available to all the citizens of India in the age group of 18-40 years.
- Under the scheme, a subscriber would receive a minimum guaranteed pension of Rs 1,000 to Rs 5,000 per month, depending upon his contribution, from the age of 60 years.
- The same pension would be paid to the spouse of the subscriber and on the demise of both the subscriber and the spouse, the accumulated pension wealth is returned to the nominee.
- The Central Government would also co-contribute 50% of the total contribution or Rs. 1000 per annum, whichever is lower, to each eligible subscriber account, for a period of 5 years, that is, from 2015-16 to 2019-20, to those who join the NPS before 31st December, 2015 and who are not members of any statutory social security scheme and who are not Income Tax payers.
Topic: India and its neighbourhood- relations.
Cabinet approves MoU with Myanmar for the Conservation of Pagodas at Bagan
The Union Cabinet has approved the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Myanmar for the conservation of earthquake-damaged pagodas at Bagan, Myanmar.
Significance of this MoU:
- Implementation of the project will further strengthen India’s enduring ties in culture and religion with Myanmar.
- It will also generate immense goodwill for India among the people of Myanmar due to the religious significance as well as the touristic significance of the project.
- It will also contribute to India’s development partnership with Myanmar.
- It will be an opportunity to showcase India’s expertise in the restoration and conservation of monuments not only to the people of Myanmar but also to the tourists from other countries.
Bagan in central Burma is one of the world’s greatest archeological sites. The Ayeyarwady (Irrawaddy) River drifts past its northern and western sides. From the 9th to 13th centuries, the city was the capital of the Pagan Kingdom, the first kingdom that unified the regions that would later constitute modern Myanmar. During the kingdom’s height between the 11th and 13th centuries, over 10,000 Buddhist temples, pagodas and monasteries were constructed in the Bagan plains alone.
Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
MoU between India and Brazil for cooperation in the fields of Zebu Cattle Genomics and Assisted Reproductive Technologies
The Union Cabinet was recently apprised of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between India and Brazil for cooperation in the fields of Zebu Cattle Genomics and Assisted Reproductive Technologies. The MoU was signed in October, 2016.
Highlights of the MoU:
- The MoU aims to strengthen the existing friendly relations between India and Brazil and promote development of Genomics and Assistant Reproductive Technologies (ARTs) in Cattle through joint activities to be implemented through mutually agreed procedures.
- An implementation committee shall be created with an equal number of representatives of each party for the purpose of regularly determining the activities and developing work plans and subsequently their evaluation.
- It will be done through joint projects in the fields of Productivity Improvement of cattle and buffaloes, for the purpose of broadening the existing knowledge base on sustainable dairy development and institutional strengthening.
The MoU would promote and facilitate scientific cooperation and setting up of genomic selection programme in Zebu Cattle through:
- Application of genomic in Zebu Cattle and their crosses and buffaloes.
- Application of assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) in cattle and buffaloes.
- Capacity building in genomic and assisted reproductive technology.
- Related research and development in Genomics and ART in accordance with the respective laws and regulations of the two countries and is covered.
About Zebu cattle:
Zebu, sometimes known as indicine cattle or humped cattle, is a species or subspecies of domestic cattle originating in the Indian subcontinent. Zebu are characterised by a fatty hump on their shoulders, a large dewlap, and sometimes drooping ears. They are well adapted to withstanding high temperatures, and are farmed throughout the tropical countries, both as pure zebu and as hybrids with taurine cattle, the other main type of domestic cattle. Zebu are used as draught oxen, dairy cattle, and beef cattle, as well as for byproducts such as hides and dung for fuel and manure. In 1999, researchers at Texas A&M University successfully cloned a zebu.
Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
India-Israel Industrial R&D and Technological Innovation Fund
The Union Cabinet has approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Israel on “India-Israel Industrial R&D and Technological Innovation Fund (I4F)”. The MoU was concluded in July, 2017.
- The MoU envisages promotion of bilateral Industrial R&D and Innovation cooperation in the fields of science and technology by extending support to joint projects for innovative or technology-driven new or improved products, services or processes.
- Such projects will lead to affordable technological innovations in focus areas of mutual interest such as water, agriculture, energy and digital technologies. Institutional support in building up consortia including private industry, enterprises and R&D institutions from India and Israel will be enabled through these collaborative projects.
- India and Israel will make an contribution of four million US Dollars each for the Fund, both equivalent amount, annually for five years.
- The Innovation Fund will be governed by a joint Board which will consist of four members from each country.
Benefits of this MoU:
- The activities supported by the Joint Fund would increase the techno-economic collaboration between the two countries by investing in jointly developed technology projects and collaborations based on technological innovation.
- It would leverage the complementary strengths of Israel and India to encourage Israel-Indian joint projects that capitalize on both the national and global marketplace.
- It would provide a comprehensive set of support tools to encourage joint projects that convert “know-how” into “show-how”.
- It is expected that this will foster and strengthen the eco-system of innovation and techno-entrepreneurship in India and will contribute directly to the Start-up India programme.
Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
China forced to abandon plan to enlarge BRICS in face of resistance from India, others
China has aborted its attempt to create a permanent BRICS Plus feature and invite other countries to join in following resistance from the other members of the five-nation grouping, including India, who apprehend dilution of BRICS’s goals if other counties, including Beijing’s close allies, are brought in.
China has been campaigning for the creation of a permanent BRICS Plus arrangement to enable non-BRICS countries to play an active role. BRICS had started off with four members and Beijing was instrumental in bringing in South Africa at a later stage. Critics say China wants to expand the BRICS mechanism as a means to garner wider influence for itself.
BRICS is the acronym for an association of five major emerging national economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
- Originally the first four were grouped as “BRIC”, before the induction of South Africa in 2010. The BRICS members are all leading developing or newly industrialized countries, but they are distinguished by their large, sometimes fast-growing economies and significant influence on regional affairs; all five are G-20 members.
- Since 2009, the BRICS nations have met annually at formal summits. China will host the 9th BRICS summit in Xiamen in September 2017.
Significance of the BRICS countries:
The five BRICS countries represent over 3.6 billion people, or about 40% of the world population; all five members are in the top 25 of the world by population, and four are in the top 10. The five nations have a combined nominal GDP of US$16.6 trillion, equivalent to approximately 22% of the gross world product, combined GDP (PPP) of around US$37 trillion and an estimated US$4 trillion in combined foreign reserves.
Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.
ISRO to launch new navigation satellite IRNSS-1H
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is all set to launch a new navigation satellite on August 31. IRNSS-1H will replace IRNSS-1A which failed due to deficiencies in three atomic clocks that are crucial in providing positional information to users on earth.
- IRNSS-1H will be launched on board ISRO’s PSLV-C39 The new satellite will expand the existing seven satellites of NavIC constellation.
What is a navigation satellite?
A satellite navigation is based on a network of satellites that transmit radio signals to determine the geospatial location of the receivers with high accuracy. The satellite systems can be used for providing position, navigation or for tracking the position of something fitted with a receiver.
The Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) provides two types of services:
- Standard Positioning Service: Available to all users.
- Restricted service: Encrypted service available only to authorised users such as for defence forces.
What is India’s navigation satellite system?
India’s Rs 1420-crore satellite system called the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System: Navigation with Indian Constellation (IRNSS: NavIC) consists of seven satellites in orbit but two others have been used as substitutes. One of the substitutes is the IRNSS-1H.
The IRNSS programme is similar to the United States’ Global Positioning System (GPS), which has 24 satellites. Other similar programmes are Glonass, Galileo, and BeiDou systems of Russia, Europe and China.
What are the uses of navigation satellites?
NavIC is useful for fishermen to reach the potential fishing area. They can also get alert messages about bad weather conditions, high waves or when they approach international maritime boundary line. These services are provided through a software application on a smartphone.
- NavIC is useful for merchant ships for navigation and for search and rescue operations.
- In the road transport sector, NavIC helps commuters to traverse distances and also enable transport operators to track their vehicles.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.
STPs to be constructed under Hybrid Annuity Model
In the first-of-its-kind success, the creation and maintenance of sewage treatment infrastructure under Hybrid Annuity based PPP model has taken off, with NMCG awarding work to private sector for construction and maintenance of Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) in two major cities in Ganga river basin – Varanasi and Haridwar. The awarded projects would ensure that no untreated sewage waste water goes into river Ganga.
Hybrid Annuity based PPP model has been adopted for the first time in the country in sewage management sector. Such a model has earlier been adopted successfully in highway sector only.
What you need to know about the Hybrid Annuity Model?
The Government of India had accorded Cabinet approval to Hybrid Annuity-PPP model in January 2016 with 100% central sector funding.
- Under this model, the development, operation and maintenance of the sewage treatment STPs will be undertaken by a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to be created by the winning bidder at the local level. As per this model, 40% of the Capital cost quoted would be paid on completion of construction while the remaining 60% of the cost will be paid over the life of the project as annuities along with operation and maintenance cost (O&M) expenses.
- One of the most important features of this model is that both the Annuity and O&M payments are linked to the performance of the STP. This will ensure continued performance of the assets created due to better accountability, ownership and optimal performance.
Topic: Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate.
Ministry of Defence approves first phase of reforms in The Armed Forces
In a first ever exercise after Independence, the Ministry of Defence in consultation with the Indian Army has decided to reform the Indian Army in a planned manner. These decisions were approved by the Defence Minister Shri Arun Jaitley after an extensive consultation with all stakeholders.
- The purpose of reforms is to enhance combat capability and also optimize and rebalance defence expenditure of Indian Army.
The Ministry of Defence had constituted a Committee of Experts under the Chairmanship of Lt Gen (Retd) DB Shekatkar with a mandate to recommend measures for enhancing of Combat Capability & Rebalancing Defence Expenditure of the Armed Forces with an aim to increase “teeth to tail ratio”. The Committee of experts had submitted its report to the Ministry in December, 2016, which was considered by the Ministry of Defence.
Major reforms concerning the following have been approved:
Optimisation of Signals Establishments to include Radio Monitoring Companies, Corps Air Support Signal Regiments, Air Formation Signal Regiments, Composite Signal Regiments and merger of Corps Operating and Engineering Signal Regiments.
Restructuring of repair echelons in the Army to include Base Workshops, Advance Base Workshops and Static/Station Workshops in the field Army.
Redeployment of Ordnance echelons to include Vehicle Depots, Ordnance Depots and Central Ordnance Depots apart from streamlining inventory control mechanisms.
Others: Better utilization of Supply and Transport echelons and Animal Transport units. Closure of Military Farms and Army postal establishments in peace locations. Enhancement in standards for recruitment of clerical staff and drivers in the Army. Improving the efficiency of the National Cadet Corps.