Insights Daily Current Affairs, 06 April 2018
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.
Context: The annual targets set under POSHAN Abhiyaan beginning 2017-18 are as under:
- Prevent and reduce stunting in children (0-6years): By 6% @ 2% p.a.
- Prevent and reduce under-nutrition (underweight prevalence) in children (0-6 years): By 6% @ 2% p.a.
- Reduce the prevalence of anemia among young Children(6-59 months): By 9% @ 3% p.a.
- Reduce the prevalence of anemia among Women and Adolescent Girls in the age group of 15-49 years: By 9% @ 3% p.a.
- Reduce Low Birth Weight (LBW): By 6% @ 2% p.a.
About POSHAN Abhiyaan:
POSHAN Abhiyaan was launched on International Women’s day (March 8) in 2018 to boost nutrition among children and women.
- The Abhiyaan targets to reduce stunting, under-nutrition, anemia (among young children, women and adolescent girls) and reduce low birth weight by 2%, 2%, 3% and 2% per annum respectively.
- The target of the mission is to bring down stunting among children in the age group 0-6 years from 38.4% to 25% by 2022.
- For Prelims: POSHAN Abhiyaan and targets under the scheme.
- For Mains: Schemes for the welfare of weaker sections of the society.
Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.
International Energy Forum
Context: India is hosting the 16thInternational Energy Forum (IEF) Ministerial Meeting in New Delhi.
About the IEF Ministerial meeting:
- The IEF Ministerial meetings are informal dialogues, at both the political and technical levels, aimed to improve policy and investment decisions, and through increased knowledge and experience sharing.
- The biennial IEF Ministerial Meetings are the world’s largest gathering of Energy Ministers who engage in a dialogue on global energy issues.
The International Energy Forum (IEF) is an inter-governmental arrangement set up in 1991. It is based in Riyadh.
Functions: It serves as a neutral facilitator of informal, open, informed and continuing global energy dialogue among its members comprising of energy producing and energy consuming states, including transit countries.
Members: There are 72 membercountries of IEF, including India, covering all six continents, which are signatories to the Charter of the IEF. Its membership accounts for 90% of global supply and demand for oil and gas.
- The Executive Board (EB) set up in 2002 comprising of 31 designated representatives of Ministers of the member states comprise the governing board of IEF.
- It meets twice a year.
- International Energy Agency (IEA) and Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) are non-voting members of the Executive Board.
- The EB is chaired by the Host State of the next biennial Ministerial Meeting. Currently, India is the Chair of the Executive Board of IEF.
Key facts for Prelims:
- By virtue of being among the top 11 largest consumers of oil and gas (India is presently 4th), India has been the Permanent Member of the Executive Board since its set-up in 2002.
- India had earlier hosted the 5th IEF Ministerial in 1996 at Goa.
Need for international platforms:
Energy security continues to top the political agenda for energy importing as well as exporting countries, for industrialized as well as developing economies. This time of heightened energy consciousness is also a time of uncertainties and increasing interdependencies among nations.
This has prompted some to re-think fundamental policies. And the policy tuning of one country to meet new challenges and to reduce its particular energy uncertainties can in itself exacerbate uncertainties or create new ones for others. Not least considering the interrelationship between energy, environment and economic development. As well as the links between energy and geopolitics. Global producer-consumer dialogue acquires increasing importance as nations revisit and modify established policies, and shape new ones, in their quest for energy security.
The world will need more and cleaner energy, used in a more efficient way, accessible and affordable to a larger share of the world’s population. The political challenge lies in operationalizing this energy imperative in a fair and sustainable way. Through national policies as well as in bilateral, regional and wider global co-operation.
- For Prelims: IEF, ministerial meeting.
- For Mains: Energy security and the need for international cooperation.
Topic: Infrastructure- airways.
UDAN – RCS
Context: Pathankot gets Operationalized as the 21st airport under UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik) – RCS (Regional Connectivity Scheme).
Udan is a market-based policy intervention that builds on similar programmes in the US, Canada and Australia. It is also consistent with universal service approaches established for other network-based services such as railways and telecom.
- The objective of the Scheme is to make flying affordable for the masses, to promote tourism, increase employment and promote balanced regional growth. It also intends to put life into un-served and under-served airports.
- It offers viability gap funding to operators to fly smaller aircraft to such airports with a commitment to price tickets for at least half of the seats at ₹2,500 for an hour-long flight.
Need for schemes like Udan:
- There are as many as 398 “unserved” airports which have no commercial flights and 18 “under-served” airports host less than seven flights per week.
- Besides, a major reason for the poor regional air connectivity in India is that airlines do not find it lucrative to operate from small cities. The government has tried to address this concern by an adroit combination of subsidies and fare caps.
Significance of the scheme:
Providing regional air connectivity is an important policy goal for the government. Such services deliver a host of benefits by fulfilling latent consumer demand for convenient travel, making businesses and trade more efficient, unlocking India’s tourism potential, enabling fast medical service and promoting national integration.
Moreover, building connections to tier-2 and tier-3 cities also generates powerful network effects with many regional passengers transferring on to the national aviation network between tier-1cities. The Udan (Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik) programme is designed to jump start the regional aviation market by improving the profitability of under-developed regional routes. It will strengthen the overall aviation network at a modest market-discovered price.
- For Prelims: UDAN.
- For Mains: Need for regional integration- challenges and solutions.
National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF)
Context: The government’s National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) is in talks with private equity firm Everstone Group for a tie-up to manage its Green Growth Equity Fund (GGEF).
- The Green Growth Equity Fund will be the second investment platform to be set up by NIIF.
- GGEF, which will invest in renewable energy assets, is a joint venture between NIIF and the UK government.
- GGEF would be managed by a third-party investment manager, selected by NIIF Limited and the UK government through an efficient and robust screening and selection process.
- NIIF was set up in 2015 as an investment vehicle for funding commercially viable greenfield, brownfield and stalled projects in the infrastructure sector.
- NIIF will invest in areas such as energy, transportation, housing, water, waste management and other infrastructure-related sectors in India.
- The corpus of the fund is proposed to be around Rs40,000 crore, with the government investing 49% and the rest to be raised from third-party investors such as sovereign wealth funds, insurance and pension funds, endowments etc.
- NIIF’s strategy includes anchoring equity, quasi-equity and debt funds in partnership with investors targeting investments across the relevant sectors in India.
For Prelims and Mains: NIIF and its significance.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: IPR related issues.
BIS Act 2016
Context: A Parliamentary Consultative Committee recently reviewed the activities of Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) and laid emphasis on easy redressal mechanism of complaints, mandatory certification, enhancing consumer confidence through publicity and various other interactive measures. It also stressed on the effective implementation of the provisions of new BIS Act 2016.
BIS Act 2016:
Bureau of Indian standards (BIS) Act 2016 which was notified on 22nd March, 2016, came into force with effect from 12th October, 2017. Parliament had in March 2016 passed the law to replace the BIS Act of 1986.
Highlights of the act:
National standards body: The Act establishes the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) as the National Standards Body of India.
Compulsory certification: The Act has enabling provisions for the Government to bring under compulsory certification regime any goods or article of any scheduled industry, process, system or service which it considers necessary in the public interest or for the protection of human, animal or plant health, safety of the environment, or prevention of unfair trade practices, or national security.
Hallmarking: Enabling provisions have also been made for making hallmarking of the precious metal articles mandatory.
Simplified conformity: The new Act also allows multiple type of simplified conformity assessment schemes including self-declaration of conformity against a standard which will give simplified options to manufacturers to adhere to the standards and get certificate of conformity.
Authority for verification: The Act enables the Central Government to appoint any authority/agency, in addition to the BIS, to verify the conformity of products and services to a standard and issue certificate of conformity.
Repair or recall: There is also a provision for repair or recall, including product liability of the products bearing Standard Mark but not conforming to the relevant Indian Standard.
- The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) is the national Standards Body of India working under the aegis of Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution.
- It is established by the Bureau of Indian Standards Act, 1986.
- The Minister in charge of the Ministry or Department having administrative control of the BIS is the ex-officio President of the BIS.
- As a corporate body, it has 25 members drawn from Central or State Governments, industry, scientific and research institutions, and consumer organisations.
- It also works as WTO-TBT enquiry point for India.
For Prelims: BIS, BIS Act.
Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT.
RBI bars banks from dealing with virtual currencies
Context: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has asked banks to stop providing service to any entity dealing with virtual currencies, with immediate effect. It has also asked regulated entities that are already providing such services to exit the relationship within three months.
Widely seen as a disruption for the traditional banking and financial institutions, cryptocurrencies have gained significant traction over the last half a decade, at the same time creating a regulatory nightmare for banking regulators across the globe. At present, there are around 969 cryptocurrencies in existence across the globe, with a total market capitalisation close to 116 Billion USD.
What are virtual/ cryptocurrencies?
Founded as a peer-to-peer electronic payment system, cryptocurrencies enable transfer of money between parties, without going through a banking system. These digital payment systems are based on cryptographic proof of the chain of transactions, deriving their name, Cryptocurrency. These employ cryptographic algorithms and functions to ensure anonymity (privacy) of the users (who are identified by an alphanumeric public key), security of the transactions and integrity of the payment systems.
- Despite numerous advantages and user friendly processes, cryptocurrencies have their own set of associated risks in the form of volatility in valuation, lack of liquidity, security and many more.
- Cryptocurrencies are being denounced in many countries because of their use in grey and black markets. There are two sets of interconnected risks; one being to the growth and expansion of these platforms in the uncertain policy environment, and the other being the risks these platforms pose to the users and the security of the state.
- They also have the potential use for Illicit Trade and Criminal Activities and can be used for Terror Financing.
- They also have the Potential for Tax Evasion.
Regulation of these currencies:
The acceptability of cryptocurrencies as a legal instrument currently varies from country to country; while some are in the process of formulating laws and measures, others are yet to respond to this disruptive change. The burgeoning use of cryptocurrencies in terror financing, ransomwares, illicit drugs or arms trade and cybercrime has also raised red flags among the security and law enforcement agencies. They may well have the potential to displace the existing financial systems which enable electronic flow of money across different political boundaries.
Sources: the hindu.
Facts for Prelims:
- What is it? Samta Diwas is the celebration of birth anniversary of nationalist politician Babu Jagjivan Ram.
- When is it? It is celebrated on April 5. 2018 marks his 111th birth anniversary.
- Significance of the day: The day emphasizes on bringing about equality among all spheres of the society.
- About Babu Jagjivan Ram: His beliefs were of great significance in the past era as there was predominance of multi layered society. He focused on the harsh rules of the society and pressed for the abolishment of this society. His 50 years as a MP is a world record. He took part in India’s independence struggle and was founder member of the All India Depressed Classes League, an organisation dedicated to attaining equality for untouchables. He had also led the rural labour movement.
UTTAM APP for Coal Quality Monitoring:
Context: The government has launched UTTAM App for Coal Quality Monitoring.
- UTTAM stands for – Unlocking Transparency by Third Party Assessment of Mined Coal.
- The Ministry of Coal and Coal India Limited (CIL) has developed the App.
- It aims to provide an App for all citizens and coal consumers to monitor the process of Third Party Sampling of coal across CIL subsidiaries.
- UTTAM App ensures accountability, transparency, effectiveness and efficiency in coal ecosystem. It provides a platform for monitoring of sampling and coal dispatches.
National Maritime Day:
- Context: April 5 is celebrated as the National Maritime Day in India every year.
- Why April 5? It was on this day 99 years ago in 1919 when the country’s navigation history set sail with SS Loyalty, the first ship of the Scindia Steam Navigation Company Ltd started for the United Kingdom from Mumbai (then British Bombay).
- Theme: In 2018, the theme of the occasion is ‘Indian Shipping – An Ocean of opportunity’.
- Varuna award: An award called Varuna is conferred to those who have made an outstanding contribution to the Indian maritime sector on this day.