Insights Daily Current Affairs, 10 May 2018
Topic: urbanization, their problems and their remedies.
Madhya Pradesh Gets India’s First Smart Cities Control Centre
Context: In a major step towards realising the centre’s smart city mission (SCM), the Madhya Pradesh government on Tuesday launched the country’s first Integrated Control and Command Centre (ICCC) for all seven smart cities of the state in Bhopal.
About the ICCC:
- ICCC is a cloud-based Universal Internet of Things (UIoT) platform developed by Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE). It can run multiple city command centre operations through its multi-efficiency capabilities.
- ICCC would integrate a multitude of citizens’ services applications and sensors running across selected cities of Madhya Pradesh. It would enable the authorities to monitor the status of various smart civic amenities in real-time through the sensors connected to it.
- The GPS sensors installed in public transport buses, dial 100 vehicles, 108 ambulance services, smart poles, smart lights, traffic management cameras, public bike sharing, solid waste management, meteorological department updates, smart maps etc. would be linked to this centre, enabling the authorities to monitor the status of the civic amenities in real-time.
Facts for Prelims:
Bhopal, Indore, Ujjain, Gwalior, Jabalpur, Satna, and Sagar are the seven smart cities under Smart City Mission in Madhya Pradesh.
About Smart City mission- Key facts:
Under the scheme that was launched in 2014, around 100 cities in the country will be developed.
Selection of cities: The selection is based on the scores cities get for carrying out urban reforms in areas including sanitation and governance. Cities that score the highest will be picked for the project, to be implemented over a 10-year period.
Development: These cities will be developed to have basic infrastructure through assured water and power supply, sanitation and solid waste management, efficient urban mobility and public transport, IT connectivity, e-governance and citizen participation. Bottom-up approach has been the key planning principle under Smart City Mission.
Funding: Under the scheme, each city will get Rs 500 crore from the Centre for implementing various projects. An equal amount, on matching basis, will have to be contributed by the state or urban local bodies. The mission will provide central funding of Rs 48,000 crore to the selected cities.
Implementation: The implementation of the Mission at the City level will be done by a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) created for the purpose. The SPV will plan, appraise, approve, release funds, implement, manage, operate, monitor and evaluate the Smart City development projects. Each smart city will have a SPV which will be headed by a full time CEO and have nominees of Central Government, State Government and ULB on its Board.
- For Prelims: Features of Smart cities mission.
- For Mains: Significance of ICCC and smart cities mission.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.
Context: The Fifteenth Finance Commission has constituted an Advisory Council to advise and assist the Commission.
The role and functions of the Advisory Council will be:
- To advise the Commission on any issue or subject related to the Terms of Reference (ToR) of the Commission, which may be of relevance.
- To assist in the preparation of any paper or research study which would enhance the Commission’s understanding on the issues containing in its ToR.
- To help in broadening the Commission’s ambit and understanding to seek best national and international practices on matters pertaining to fiscal devolution and improving the quality and reach and enforcement of its recommendations.
About the Finance Commission:
What is a Finance Commission?
It is a body set up under Article 280 of the Constitution. Its primary job is to recommend measures and methods on how revenues need to be distributed between the Centre and states.
Composition of Finance Commission:
The Constitution provides that Finance Commission shall consist of a Chairman and four other members to be appointed by President. The Chairman or members are eligible for reappointment. The Constitution authorizes Parliament to make provisions related to qualifications, conditions of service of members or powers of Finance Commission. So Parliament enacted Finance Commission Act in 1951 to determine provisions related to qualifications or disqualifications, conditions of service or miscellaneous powers to perform functions provided under constitution.
The Chairman shall have vast experience in Public affairs and other four members shall be selected among persons who a) have qualifications as par with a judge of HC, b) has special knowledge of Finance and Accounts of govt, c) have vast experience in financial matters and d) have special knowledge of economics.
Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
Directorate General of Trade Remedies (DGTR)
Context: The Government of India has carried out an Amendment to the Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules, 1961 substituting “Directorate General of Trade Remedies” in place of “Directorate General of Anti-Dumping and Allied Duties” in Department of Commerce.
- The DGTR will function as an attached office of Department of Commerce. The recommendation of DGTR for imposition of Anti-dumping, countervailing & Safeguard duties would be considered by the Department of Revenue.
- The DGTR will be a professionally integrated organisation with multi-spectrum skill sets emanating from officers drawn from different services and specialisations.
Need for a unified umbrella authority:
Presently, the trade defence mechanism in India lacks optimality and takes more than a year to complete proceedings in cases pertaining to unfair trade practices. Currently, the Directorate General of Anti-dumping and Allied Duties (DGAD) deals with anti-dumping and CVD cases, Directorate General of Safeguards (DGS) deals with safeguard measures and DGFT deals with quantitative restriction (QR) safeguards.
- The DGTR will bring DGAD, DGS and Safeguards (QR) functions of DGFT into its fold by merging them into one single national entity. This provides comprehensive and swift trade defence mechanism in India.
- The creation of DGTR will also provide a level playing field to the domestic industry. In the last three years, India initiated more than 130 anti-dumping/countervailing duty/safeguard cases to deal with the rising incidences of unfair trade practices and to provide a level playing field to the domestic industry.
Functions of DGTR:
DGTR will deal with Anti-dumping, CVD and Safeguard measures. It will also provide trade defence support to our domestic industry and exporters in dealing with increasing instances of trade remedy investigations instituted against them by other countries.
- For Prelims: About DGTR.
- For Mains: Need for comprehensive and swift trade defence mechanism in India.
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.
Senior Citizen draft Bill
Context: The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has drafted the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizen Draft Bill, 2018, that will amend the 2007 version of the legislation to expand its scope and provide for more stringent penalties.
Key provisions in the Bill:
- The Bill enhances the jail term for those found abandoning or abusing their parents, 60 years or older, to six months from the existing three months.
- The Bill expands the definition of children, which currently refers to only biological children and grandchildren, to include daughter-in-law and son-in-law and also adopted/step-children.
- It extends the definition of maintenance beyond provision of food, clothing, housing, health care to include “safety and security” of the parent.
- As per the Bill, senior citizens can also approach a Maintenance Tribunal in case their children neglect or refuse to maintain them. In such cases, the draft Bill states that the Tribunal can order the children or, in case the person is childless, the relative to pay a monthly maintenance to the senior citizen. The amount would be decided by taking into account the standard of living of the senior citizen and the financial situation of both the parties.
- The Bill proposes to make monthly maintenance amount variable as people who earn more, can afford to shell out a higher amount for the upkeep of their parents.
- The Bill also introduces a punitive measure of up to one month imprisonment in case the monthly allowance remains unpaid.
- Currently, various government and private schemes for insurance/health, housing and travel, have varied cut-off age for offering benefits meant for senior citizens. The Bill mandates the uniform age across schemes should be 60 years.
- The Bill will require the government to establish and run at least one Senior Citizen Care Home in every district in the country.
- As per the Bill, if parents transfer property to their children on the condition that they take care of them, and this clause is breached, the transfer of property will be deemed to be “made by fraud or coercion or under undue influence” and a tribunal can order it to be transferred back to the parent.
Elderly as a resource:
The elderly should be seen as a blessing, not a burden. The elderly are becoming the fastest growing, but underutilized resource available to humanity. Rather than putting them aside, physically (and mentally), to be cared for separately, they should be integrated into the lives of communities where they can make a substantial contribution to improving social conditions. The benefits of turning the ‘problem’ of the elderly into a ‘solution’ for other social problems is being demonstrated in several countries.
The elderly are the fastest growing, underutilized resource that humanity has to address many other problems. Re-integration of the elderly into communities may save humanity from mindlessly changing into a technology-driven ‘Industry 4.0’ which futurists are projecting: an economy of robots producing things for each other. Investing a little to engage the elderly in communities can improve the health and well-being of the elderly. It can also improve the health and well-being of communities.
- For Prelims: Key provisions of the Bill.
- For Mains: Welfare schemes for the protection of the elderly in the country.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests.
Iran nuclear deal
Context: US President Donald Trump has announced he is pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal. He described the agreement as “decaying and rotting”.
The agreement, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), has been on the rocks since Trump’s election, and the resulting climate of uncertainty spooked many large firms from doing business in Iran, thus diminishing the economic incentives that drew Iran to the agreement in the first place.
What is the iran nuclear deal?
- Iran agreed to rein in its nuclear programme in a 2015 deal struck with the US, UK, Russia, China, France and Germany.
- Under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA) Tehran agreed to significantly cut its stores of centrifuges, enriched uranium and heavy-water, all key components for nuclear weapons.
- The JCPOA established the Joint Commission, with the negotiating parties all represented, to monitor implementation of the agreement.
Why did Iran agree to the deal?
It had been hit with devastating economic sanctions by the United Nations, United States and the European Union that are estimated to have cost it tens of billions of pounds a year in lost oil export revenues. Billions in overseas assets had also been frozen.
Why is US pulling out of the deal?
Trump and opponents to the deal say it is flawed because it gives Iran access to billions of dollars but does not address Iran’s support for groups the U.S. considers terrorists, like Hamas and Hezbollah. They note it also doesn’t curb Iran’s development of ballistic missiles and that the deal phases out by 2030. They say Iran has lied about its nuclear program in the past.
What about the other countries involved?
- The agreement was signed by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council: The United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia and China, plus Germany — and Iran. The deal was also enshrined in a UN Security Council resolution, incorporating it into international law.
- Some of the US’ closest allies, the UK, France and Germany, issued a statement expressing “regret and concern” about the decision, emphasizing Iran’s compliance with the deal and their “continuing commitment” to the deal. The leaders of those countries failed in their attempts to convince Trump to preserve the deal.
- Russia meanwhile said the deal was “new confirmation of Washington’s incompetence,” and underscored that the US, not Iran, is now technically in violation of the deal.
What happens next?
Experts believe that, should Iran choose to resume the enrichment of uranium, it could build a bomb within about a year. The sanctions, meanwhile, could take months to go into effect as the US government develops guidance for companies and banks.
- For Prelims: Highlights of the deal.
- For Mains: Significance of the deal, impact of the latest developments on developing countries.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: indigenization of technology and developing new technology.
Atal Tinkering Marathon
What is it? It is a six month long nationwide challenge across six different thematic areas, namely, clean energy, water resources, waste management, healthcare, smart mobility and agri-tech. It is being organized by Atal Tinkering Labs of the Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) of NITI Aayog.
Why in news? Top 30 innovations have been selected from among 100 innovations shortlisted. These top 30 innovations have been identified from 20 different States and Union territories from across India.
What are ATLs?
With a vision to ‘Cultivate one Million children in India as Neoteric Innovators’, Atal Innovation Mission is establishing Atal Tinkering Laboratories (ATLs) in schools across India.
Objective: The objective of this scheme is to foster curiosity, creativity and imagination in young minds; and inculcate skills such as design mindset, computational thinking, adaptive learning, physical computing etc.
Financial Support: AIM will provide grant-in-aid that includes a one-time establishment cost of Rs. 10 lakh and operational expenses of Rs. 10 lakh for a maximum period of 5 years to each ATL.
Eligibility: Schools (minimum Grade VI – X) managed by Government, local body or private trusts/society can set up ATL.
Significance of ATLs:
Atal Tinkering Labs have evolved as epicenters for imparting these ‘skills of the future’ through practical applications based onself-learning.
Bridging a crucial social divide, Atal Tinkering Labs provide equal opportunity to all children across the spectrum by working at the grassroot level, introducing children to the world of innovation and tinkering.
Need for such labs:
- As the world grapples with evolving technologies, a new set of skills have gained popular acceptance and have come to be in high demand. For India to contribute significantly during this age of raid technological advancement, there is an urgent need to empower our youth with these ‘skills of the future’.
- Equipped with modern technologies to help navigate and impart crucial skills in the age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the ATLs are at the vanguard of the promoting scientific temper and an entrepreneurial spirit in children today.
- For Prelims: AIM, ATLs and their key features.
- For Mains: Need for innovation and efforts by government in this regard.
Topic: Infrastructure- roadways and energy.
Green licence plates for e-vehicles
Context: The government has approved distinctive green licence plates for electric vehicles to encourage people to use electric vehicles. Such vehicles will be fitted with green licence plates bearing numbers in white fonts for private cars and yellow font for taxis.
Significance of the move: The measure is aimed at promoting e-vehicle’s use and the government is considering exemption from permits for such vehicles. The purpose behind distinctive number plates is their easy identification for preferential treatment in parking, free entry in congested zones besides other proposed benefits like concessional toll.
Types of number plates:
- India, currently, has four kinds of number plates – white licence plates with numbers on black font for private cars, yellow plates with fonts in black for commercial vehicles, black plates with yellow font letters for self-driven rental vehicles and blue plates with white font letters for Embassies and High Commissions.
- Army vehicles, on the other hand, follow a different registration system given by the defence ministry, while vehicles of the President and governors have red licence plates with the national emblem.
- The Government started Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric vehicles (FAME) scheme which provides incentives for purchasing electric vehicle.
- It is a part of the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan. The scheme envisages Rs 795 crore support in the first two fiscals starting with the current year.
- It is being administered by the Heavy Industries Ministry.
Mainstreaming electric vehicles will require an overhaul of the country’s energy and transport infrastructure. For example, EV charging stations will have to be set up on a war footing, and electricity generation will have to improve significantly even as its piggybacks on the push for solar energy. EV technology (especially the battery) will have to become much cheaper before it can perform well in a price-sensitive market like India.
With the onus of being the second-largest populated country in the world, India has a lot of reasons to rejoice over the bright outlook of the adoption of electric vehicles in India. NITI Aayog said in a recent report that can cut its energy demand by 64% and carbon emissions by 37% by making its passenger mobility shared, electric, and connected. The concept not only helps India to fulfil its renewable energy goals but also assists it in other facets like the ‘Make in India’ vision.
The Indian automobile industry is the sixth-largest in the world and accounts for a whopping 22% of the country’s total manufacturing output. The large-scale adoption of electric vehicles can play an important role in increasing the share of manufacturing in India’s GDP from the current 15% to 25% by 2022.
Sources: the hindu.
Facts for Prelims:
Context: India has sent Bangladesh its second relief consignment under Operation Insaniyat to help tens of thousands of displaced Rohingya Muslims who fled Myanmar into Bangladesh following military crackdown in the country.