The HINDU Notes – 08th May 2017(Daily News Paper Analysis)
📰 THE HINDU – CURRENT NOTE 08 May
⏳ Odisha to deploy six boat ambulances in cut-of areas
- The Odisha government will soon deploy six boat ambulances in four districts (Koraput, Malkangiri, Kalahandi and Kendrapara) where a sizeable population is surrounded by large water bodies such as rivers and dams.
- The move follows the launching of a mobile health unit, which will provide better healthcare facilities to over 20,000 villagers in 151 villages located across the Balimela reservoir in Malkangiri district.
- IIT Chennai is providing technical support to this project.
- Inhabitants comprise mostly scheduled caste and scheduled tribe communities.
- The State government also approved a proposal to upgrade 28 existing basic life support ambulances to advanced life support ambulances for their deployment in accident prone areas of the national highways and State highways.
⏳ Sunkesula barrage goes dry after four decades
- Lack of rainfall and severe drought in Kurnool district, lack of inflows from Tungabhadra river and scanty rainfall in Karnataka led to the drying up of Sunkesula barrage across Tungabhadra river, about 25 km from Kurnool.
- The Sunkesula barrage, has gone dry after a gap of four decades, portraying the severity of the drought and resulting in acute drinking water scarcity in the city.
⏳ CBI busts web of shell firms
- The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has unearthed multiple complex webs involving 339 shell companies, allegedly used to divert funds to the tune of Rs. 2,900 crore, as part of its probe into such cases over the last three years.
- CBI sources said the shell companies were being used by the suspects to divert loan funds meant for specified purposes, creating fake invoices, and ‘round-tripping’ of funds to evade taxes and generate black money.
- Round-tripping is sending money to tax havens abroad in the guise of payments for fake imports through shell companies and bringing back that money, showing it as “foreign investment”.
- The findings of the CBI are just a tip of the iceberg as these are only those cases where the agency has been able to find ‘legally tenable’ evidence of the money trail, cheating and diversion of funds to cheat the banks, said the sources not willing to be named.
- The murky activities have been exposed during the CBI probe into various loan fraud cases involving 28 public sector banks and a private bank, the sources said.
- The agency is also probing about 200 bank fraud cases involving funds of at least Rs. 30,000 crore, they said.
- The CBI is prosecuting these companies for corruption and scheduled offences associated with it.
- In addition, it will also refer these cases to other investigating agencies for action under various laws like the Companies Act,Prevention of Money Laundering Act, Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, Income Tax Act etc, the sources said.
⏳ Defence pay hike from May
- After a wait of about eight months, military personnel are likely to receive their revised pay recommended by the Seventh Pay Commission with arrears in May’s salary, say the general instructions issued by the three Services to their personnel.
- The Union Cabinet issued orders for implementing the recommendations for military personnel.
- The recommendations approved include extension of pay stages for junior commissioned officers ( JCO) and other ranks from 24 to 40 to prevent stagnation, increase in index of rationalisation for Colonels and Lieutenant-Colonels from 2.57 to 2.67 and extension of pay stages for Brigadiers by two.
- On the pension front, two recommendations approved are restoration of the percentage- based disability pension and an additional option for pension by pay fixation method in addition to the consolidation method, whichever is higher.
- However, some of the core anomalies raised by the services are yet to be addressed, top among them are Non-Functional Upgrade (NFU) and higher Military Service Pay (MSP) for JCOs.
- NFU entitles all officers of a batch who are not promoted to draw the salary and grade pay that the senior-most officer of their batch would get after a certain period.
- In a reference to that the instructions notes: “Pay comparison between defence services, all India services and Group A services must be understood in totality and explained to rank and file to dispel apprehensions about discrepancies.
- Japan is keen on collaborating with India on projects in Asia and Africa as a counter to China’s Belt and Road initiative (B&RI).
- India-Iran cooperation in the field of development of infrastructure and regional connectivity including the development of Chabahar Port is in line with the Tehran Declaration (2001) and the New Delhi Declaration (2003).
- Chabahar Port lies outside the Persian Gulf in Iran and will help in expanding maritime commerce in the region.
Advantages of Chabahar Port:
Following the Chabahar port development agreement with Iran, India will get access to Eastern transit Corridor to:
- Eastern part of Iran
- Afghanistan, which is a landlocked country
- CIS countries like Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan etc
- Alternative to North South Corridor (Access to Russia and North Baltic countries).
⏳ ADB eyes Delhi as regional hub
- The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has operationally started working to create several regional hubs including New Delhi as one for South Asia, the bank’s President Takehiko Nakao said.
- Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, India’s Governor to the ADB, had earlier urged the multilateral lender to establish a hub in New Delhi, so that it could expedite lending to development projects across the region.
- Observing that the “time required to approve a proposal as well as the time lag between approval and disbursement of loans can be further reduced,” Mr. Jaitley had stressed that speedier financing would help lend an edge to the ADB.
- The ADB, given its objective of combating poverty, also needed to sharpen its focus on affordable renewable energy, and in the urban development context, both drinking water and sanitation, Mr. Jaitley said.
- “The major challenges remain in the realm of user charges and financial sustainability of urban bodies,” he observed, adding that the bank could leverage its expertise to promote models that would focus on these challenges.
- Mr. Jaitley also exhorted the lender to step up its support for climate resilient agriculture and social infrastructure including health and education.
- Mr. Nakao told reporters that the ADB had approved a new procurement framework as part of its efforts to reform the speed of procurement and project implementation.
- India, is a founding member of the ADB and its fourth-largest shareholder.
- The bank’s current portfolio of financing in the country includes 87 sovereign loans totalling $13.2 billion.
Asian Development Bank (ADB)
⏳ All you need to know about FATCA: Deadline, procedure and details
- The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) is a United States federal law that requires United States persons, including U.S. citizens who live outside the United States, to report their financial accounts held outside of the U.S., and requires foreign financial institutions to report to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) about their U.S. clients.
- India had signed an agreement with the U.S. on July 9, 2015 which enables automatic exchange of financial information between India and the U.S.
- The agreement provides that Indian Financial Institutions will provide the necessary information to the Indian tax authority i.e. Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), which information will then be transmitted to the U.S. automatically in the case of FATCA.
- The agreement came into effect on August 31, 2015.
- The compliance is needed for bank accounts, mutual fund, national pension scheme and other such transactions.
⏳ Where energy is waiting to be tapped
- Today, wind and solar energy account for 7% of the country’s electricity production – small still, but firmly set to grow, by at least ten percentage points in the next five years.
- Coal, on the other hand, while still being the dominant player, is on the back foot. Apart from being a source of pollution and global warming, it is also a water guzzler.
- Newer materials such as perovskites that can replace silicon are showing up, giving solar panels more bang for the buck; the cost of offshore wind is falling dramatically so as to open up literally new areas – the seas.
- But solar is a daytime source, wind is seasonal, and both are on-off energy generators.
- Even with the advances in storage technology, these two sources cannot replace coal completely.
- The search for clean energy has not stopped with wind and solar. A phalanx of sources is waiting to be tapped into.
- Some-like Helium 3 from the moon-are on the very edge of science. But there are others that are not so far away.
- Fuel cells are devices that split the hydrogen atoms into protons and electrons and get the electrons to flow through a circuit – flow of electrons is electricity.
- Smaller fuel cells can be used in vehicles and in applications such as powering telecom towers.
- Larger fuel cells, or stacks of them, can used for electricity for the grid.
- French company, Alstom, has just come up with a fuel cell-powered passenger train.
- The rise of hydrogen is impeded only by the cost of the gas, but the cost is expected to decline when demand, and production, increase.
- There are three subsets of this 24×7 energy source – waves (including up-down bob of the water surface), tides and underwater currents. A few commercial scale projects have come up, but there are dozens of pilots.
- There are many tricks to steal energy from the oceans. For instance, the Swansea Bay project, U.K., is to build a U-shaped wall – or, breakwater – on the coast where there is a tide, with the mouth open to the sea and place an array of turbines along the mouth.Water comes in when the tide flows and goes out when it ebbs – it turns the turbines both times.
- Another U.K. company, AIM-listed Atlantis Resources, places ‘underwater windmills’ on the sea bed – the turbines are turned by the flow of currents.
- Atlantis Resources has an agreement with Gujarat State Power Corporation to build a 250 MW tidal energy project.
- Energy from fusion of sub-atomic particles at near room temperatures has received a pep ever since an Italian engineer calledAndrea Rossi came up in 2011 with a device that he claimed produces more energy than it consumes.
- His ‘E-Cat’, which is a small box with a pinch of nickel, hydrogen and lithium, has rejuvenated the cold fusion talk.
- Cold fusion, as low energy nuclear reaction is commonly called, is not yet established science, but there is too much happening for it to be unreal.
- It has been at the heart of a huge technical and commercial controversy.
- While Mr. Rossi has kept the workings of his machine secret, a group of scientists were able to replicate it in a now-famous experiment carried out in 2014 in Lugano, Switzerland, and found it working, though they said they did not know how. Later, a respected Russian scientist, Alexander Parkhimov, repeated the experiment and reported success.
- Alongside, a few companies in the U.S. have long been labouring over different forms of cold fusion.
⏳ Converting Martian soil into concrete
- A new form of concrete made using Martian or lunar soil and animal proteins may allow future astronauts to build colonies on Mars and the Moon, according to Stanford and NASA scientists.
- To establish settlements on the Moon or Mars, humans would need thousands of tonnes of concrete to survive.
- Both Mars and the Moon are bombarded constantly with both lethal radiation and micrometeorites that would quickly punch holes into any ordinary structure.
- However, since it is nearly impossible to ship such quantities of cement from Earth to Mars, the best way forward would be to start making it in space.
- The protein from bovine blood is a fairly cheap by-product of slaughterhouses, and it is known to become very gluey when mixed with soil.
⏳ Morocco goes all out to save its iconic monkey
- Barbary macaque monkey, the only species of macaque outside Asia, which lives on leaves and fruits and can weigh up to 20 kg, was once found throughout North Africa and parts of Europe.
- But having disappeared from Libya and Tunisia, it is now restricted to the mountainous regions of Algeria and Morocco’s northern Rif region.
- Another semi-wild population of about 200 individuals in Gibraltar are the only free-ranging monkeys in Europe.
- Today, the only native primate north of the Sahara, apart from humans, is in danger of extinction, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
- Conservationists blame illegal poaching, tourists who feed the monkeys and overexploitation of the cedar and oak forests that form the species’ natural habitat.
- In response, Morocco has launched a campaign to save the species – monitoring and making a census of the species in the Rif and raising awareness among locals so that they actively help rescue it.
- By propelling the GSAT-9 ‘South Asia satellite’, India has reaffirmed the Indian Space Research Organization’s logical ability, yet the informing is maybe more geopolitical than geospatial.
- India has most likely picked up goodwill over the subcontinent through the motion, and the minute was perfectly caught by the videoconference that took after the dispatch, demonstrating all SAARC pioneers (except for Pakistan’s) as one on one screen as they talked about the advantages they would get in correspondence, telemedicine, meteorological estimating and broadcasting.
- The Belt and Road Initiative is a foundation system that each SAARC country other than India has marked on to.
- At long last, by proceeding with the venture in spite of Pakistan’s choice to haul out, the Modi government is flagging that it will proceed with its arrangements for the area — ‘SAARC short one’ — if vital.
- This vision was managed a minor blow as of late when Bhutan hauled out of the ‘smaller than usual SAARC’ elective arrangement of an engine vehicles understanding for BBIN (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India Nepal), yet the administration’s steadiness demonstrates it won’t be dissuaded by the undeniable local requirements of the SAARC gathering.
- The ordinance enabling the RBI to act on bad loans must be accompanied by wider reform.
- The Centre has empowered the Reserve Bank of India to get banks to take tougher steps, including insolvency and bankruptcy proceedings against defaulters, to address the growing volume of bad loans on their books.
- An ordinance to amend the Banking Regulation Act of 1949 has been issued to quell doubts whether the existing provisions allowed the RBI to direct banks to deal with specific stressed assets.
- The RBI has also been vested with the power to form oversight committees wherever it deems fit. Currently such committees exist only for loans brought into a scheme for sustainable structuring of stressed assets, also known as S4A.
Some reforms taken till now
- In 2015, the Prime Minister launched a Gyan Sangam conclave with bankers, and an Indradhanush road map to revitalise public sector banks.
- Last year, a Banks Board Bureau was set up to recommend the appointment of top bosses at banks and help them develop strategies and plan raising of capital.
Need to do further reforms
- If the government wants to see a spurt in investment and job-creation, it needs to do more than just pin its hopes on new oversight committees.
- It must amend the anti-corruption law as has been promised for a while now, and accept the need to fix the policy-level stress affecting sectors such as telecom, power and highways.