Press Information Bureau (PIB)- 08th Oct to 15th Oct, 2017

Current Affairs ONLY PIB weekly Notes for UPSC IAS Exam- 08th Oct to 15th Oct, 2017



Archive


Indian Navy Foils Piracy Attempt in Gulf OF Aden

{International Relations}


INS Trishul thwarts pirate attack on Indian ship in Gulf of Aden.

INS Trishul

  • The Indian Navy has been deploying a warship in the waters in and around the Gulf Of Aden since 2008 and has safely escorted hundreds of merchant vessels through these treacherous waters.
  • Indian ships are mandated to prevent piracy and are not mandated for regional law enforcement.
  • The actions taken by the ship are the rationale for the continued deployment of Indian ships for anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden.

Gulf of Aden

  • The Gulf of Aden is a gulf located in the Arabian Sea between Yemen, on the south coast of the Arabian Peninsula, and Somalia in the Horn of Africa.
  • Deepwater basin that forms a natural sea link between the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea. Named for the seaport of Aden, in southern Yemen, the gulf is situated between the coasts of Arabia and the Horn of Africa.
  • It shares its name with the port city of Aden in Yemen, which forms the northern shore of the gulf.
  • Historically, the Gulf of Aden was known as “The Gulf of Berbera”, named after the ancient Somali port city of Berbera on the south side of the gulf. However, as the city of Aden grew during the colonial era, the name of “Gulf of Aden” was popularised.
  • The waterway is part of the important Suez Canal shipping route between the Mediterranean Sea and the Arabian Sea in the Indian Ocean with 21,000 ships crossing the gulf annually.

Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan Scheme

{Education Policy}


Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan’ (PMGDISHA) to make 6 crore rural households digitally literate

PMGDISHA is expected to be one of the largest digital literacy programmes in the world. Under the scheme, 25 lakh candidates will be trained in the FY 2016-17; 275 lakh in the FY 2017-18; and 300 lakh in the FY 2018-19.

Key facts

  • Digitally literate persons would be able to operate computers/digital access devices (like tablets, smart phones, etc.), send and receive emails, browse internet, access Government Services, search for information, undertaking cashless transactions, etc. and hence use IT to actively participate in the process of nation building.
  • The implementation of the Scheme would be carried out under the overall supervision of Ministry of Electronics and IT in active collaboration with States/UTs through their designated State Implementing Agencies, District e-Governance Society (DeGS), etc.

Background

  • As per the 71st NSSO Survey on Education 2014, only 6% of rural households have a computer. This highlights that more than 15 crore rural households (@ 94% of 16.85 crore households) do not have computers and a significant number of these households are likely to be digitally illiterate.

As the thrust of the Government is on cashless transactions through mobile phones, the course content would also have emphasis on Digital Wallets, Mobile Banking, Unified Payments Interface (UPI), Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) and Aadhaar Enabled Payment System (AEPS), etc.


India Energy Forum by CERAWEEK

{Sustainable Development}


For the first time three day International conference being organized by CERAWEEK outside Houston in a regional format. The event is being hosted in collaboration with the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.

The Forum serves as a catalyst for the development of a sustainable and competitive energy sector in India. India’s energy requirements are enormous and the demand is growing but our resources are limited both in physical and financial terms.

Highlights

  • It is a long term imperative that these resources are exploited optimally. India is attracting significant attention from major overseas project developers, equipment suppliers and financiers.
  • The India Energy Forum by CERAWEEK is being led by Dr Daniel Yergin, one of the leading thinkers on oil and gas, and has brought together representatives of global and Indian oil and gas industry.

It is not only recognition of the potential of Indian oil and gas sector but also has two way benefits of closer engagement between the members of global hydrocarbon business community.


PM Modi launches ‘Intensified Mission Indradhanush’

{Health policy}


Aim:- Let no child suffer from any vaccine-preventable disease

Through the ‘Intensified Mission Indradhanush’ or IMI, the government aims to reach every child below the age of two years and pregnant women still uncovered under the routine immunisation programme.

Key facts

  • The special drive will focus on improving immunization coverage in select districts and cities to ensure full immunization to more than 90% by December 2018.
  • The achievement of full immunisation under Mission Indradhanush to at least 90% coverage was to be achieved by 2020 earlier. With the launch of IMI, achievement of the target has now been advanced.
  • The programme in order to make all efforts to reduce maternal and child mortality.

Intensified Mission Indradhanush

  • Intensified Mission Indradhanush will have inter-ministerial and inter-departmental coordination, action-based review mechanism and intensified monitoring and accountability framework for effective implementation of targeted rapid interventions to improve the routine immunization coverage.
  • IMI is supported by 11 other ministries and departments, such as Ministry of Women and Child Development, Panchayati Raj, Ministry of Urban Development, Ministry of Youth Affairs among others.
  • The convergence of ground level workers of various departments like ASHA, ANMs, Anganwadi workers, Zila preraks under National Urban Livelihood Mission (NULM), self-help groups will be ensured for better coordination and effective implementation of the programme.
  • Intensified Mission Indradhanush would be closely monitored at the district, state and central level at regular intervals. Further, it would be reviewed by the Cabinet Secretary at the National level and will continue to be monitored at the highest level under a special initiative ‘Proactive Governance and Timely Implementation (PRAGATI)’.
  • These plans are reviewed from state to central level with an aim to reach 90% coverage by December 2018.

Further, it would be reviewed by the Cabinet Secretary at the National level and will continue to be monitored at the highest level under a special initiative ‘Proactive Governance and Timely Implementation (PRAGATI)’. 


Annual Dilli Seminar – ‘India and South East Asia Maritime Trade, Expedition and Civilisation Linkages’ 

{International Relations}


Indian Naval Academy (INA), Ezhimala is all set to conduct the fourth edition of the prestigious annual Dilli seminar on 12th and 13th of October 2017.

Theme for this year’s seminar is India and Southeast Asia – Maritime Trade, Expedition and Civilisation Linkages’. 

 It is aimed to explore and elucidate the impact of historic maritime trade that existed between India and Southeast Asian countries on their society, religion, spirituality, art, architecture, language, literature, administration and other areas of civilization.

 Key points

  • INA conducts the annual Dilli seminar on elements and issues of maritime history and heritage of the nation to help the young officers and cadets keep an eye on future developments in the maritime domain with a strong foundation of the past
  • The papers presented in the seminar would deliberate and analyse the impact of the historical maritime connections on the present, to extrapolate the future.

The Dilliseries of seminar has always been an intellectually stimulating experience for all participants especially the young cadets and the 2017 edition promises to be equally informative, especially considering the growing significance of Southeast Asian countries in the present socio-economic, geographical and political situation.


First ever Conference of Partner NGOs of WCD Ministry held in New Delhi today 

{Women’s Empowerment}


 Objective

  • The conference aimed at sensitizing them about the various schemes of WCD Ministry and to give them an opportunity to share their experiences and insights.
  • NGOs play a very vital role since a large numbers of schemes, programmes and policies of the government, which are being implemented at the ground level with the help of NGOs.

Key points

  • The Ministry of Women and Child Development has taken up several new initiatives like One Stop Centres, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, Women Helpline, National Policy for Women, Bill against Trafficking, National Alliance against Child Abuseamongst many such others, the Minister explained.
  • Beti Bachao Beti Padhao has shown a tremendous successsince 104 out of 161 BBBP districts have shown an increasing trend in Sex Ratio at Birth.
  • The Minister also assured that an online facility will soon be created for the NGOs in the field of women and children to enable them to lodge their complaints or highlight their issues.
  • NGOs have been playing an important role in rehabilitation of trafficked women.

The conference was based on the following broad themes

  • Violence Against WomenPrevention and Facilitating Access to Justice
  • National Policy for WomenPolicy Interventions for Gender Parity
  • Trafficking of Women and ChildrenRole of State Institutions
  • Cyber Crime and ChildrenPrevention and Harm Reduction
  • Implementation of JJ ActStructural Challenges and Mainstreaming of Children

The expected outcome of the Conference is

  • to ascertain the existing problems and drawbacks in the present set up of delivery system at the grass roots level;
  • to develop ways for constructive policy formulation and programme implementationby assessing the lessons discussed during the conference;
  • to increase engagement of these organizations for advocacy on women empowerment and child safety and security.

Ministry of Road Transport & Highways to implement Value Engineering Programme

{Transport}


Objective

The objective of the programme is to use innovative technology, materials and equipment to reduce the cost of projects and make them more environment friendly, while simultaneously ensuring that the roads or bridges and other assets get constructed much faster, are structurally stronger and more durable.  The Value Engineering Programme is expected to

  • increase speed of construction,
  • reduce construction cost,
  • increase asset durability and
  • improve aesthetics and safety.

The Ministry had constituted a National Panel of Experts (NPE) last year, for approving  proposals pertaining to deployment of

(a) new/innovative/alternative materials,

(b) new/innovative/alternative technologies and

(c) new/innovative/alternative equipment in the highway sector.


Union Home Minister to inaugurate First BIMSTEC Disaster Management Exercise

{Disaster Management} 


In news

 The First ‘BIMSTEC Disaster Management Exercise- 2017’ (BIMSTEC DMEx-2017) will be conducted by the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) as the lead agency next week from October 10-13, 2017 in Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR).

When was this decided?

 At the 17th BIMSTEC Senior Officials Meeting held in Kathmandu, Nepal on February 7, 2017, it was decided that India would organize the first annual Disaster Management Exercise for the region.

 

This Exercise will be a platform for sharing Best Practices on all aspects of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), strengthening regional response and coordination for Disaster Management among the BIMSTEC member countries.

Objectives

 The main focus of the BIMSTEC DMEx-2017 will be on testing the region’s preparedness and resilience towards effective activation of inter-Governmental interaction/dialogue/agreements for immediate deployment of regional resources for disaster response

Benefits

  • It will help create synergy and synchronize efforts to institutionalize regional cooperation among the member countries.
  • The exercise will help strengthen the effective utilization of the Search & Rescue Teams for Disaster Relief & Emergency Response, including Emergency Rapid Assessment Teams and Management of mass casualties especially in situations involving breakdown of infrastructure and communication.

The BIMSTEC region is home to around 1.5 billion people, constituting around 22% of the global population with a combined GDP of US $2.7 trillion economy.

Majority of the BIMSTEC countries are situated in the South Asian Region (SAR), prone to natural disasters such as floods, cyclones, earthquakes, avalanches and drought.

BIMSTEC 

The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) is a regional organization comprising seven Member States lying in the littoral and adjacent areas of the Bay of Bengal constituting a contiguous regional unity.

This sub-regional organization came into being on 6 June 1997 through the Bangkok Declaration.

It constitutes seven Member States: five deriving from South Asia, including Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and two from Southeast Asia, including Myanmar and Thailand.

Objectives of BIMSTEC

As stated in the Declaration of BIMSTEC, its objectives are

  • To create an enabling environment for rapid economic development through identification and implementation of specific cooperation projects in the sectors of trade, investment and industry, technology, human recourse development, tourism, agriculture, energy, and infrastructure and transportation.
  • To accelerate the economic growth and social progress in the sub-region through joint endeavors in a spirit of equality and partnership.
  • To promote active collaboration and mutual assistance on matters of common interest in the economic, social, technical and scientific fields.
  • To provide assistance to each other in the form of training and research facilities in the educational, professional and technical spheres.
  • To cooperate more effectively in joint efforts that are supportive of and complementary to national development plans of Member States which result in tangible benefits to the people in raising their living standards, including generating employment and improving transportation and communication infrastructure.
  • To maintain close and beneficial cooperation with existing international and regional organizations with similar aims and purposes.
  • To cooperate in projects that can be dealt with most productively on a sub-regional basis and make best use of available synergies among BIMSTEC member countries. 

Countries geological formations and Hazards

  • Majority of the BIMSTEC countries are exposed to a variety of hazards due to the geo-climatic characteristics of the region.
  • These hazards range from avalanches and earthquakes to glacial lake outburst floods (GLOF) in the Himalayas in the North, droughts and floods in the Plains, and cyclones that originate in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea.
  • Importantly, many countries in the region share common geological formations and river basins, and natural hazards frequently transcend national boundaries.
  • According to a UN ESCAP report, in the year 2015, Asia-Pacific continued to be the world’s most disaster prone region.

UN ESCAP

  • The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) is the regional development arm of the United Nations for the Asia-Pacific region
  • Established in 1947 with its headquarters in Bangkok, Thailand.
  • ESCAP provides a forum for its member States to promote regional cooperation and collective action in pursuit of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals, assisting countries to achieve shared economic growth and social equity.

The region’s greatest challenges by providing results oriented projects, technical assistance and capacity building to member States in the following areas:

  • Macroeconomic Policy, Poverty Reduction and Financing for Development
  • Trade, Investment and Innovation
  • Transport
  • Environment and Development
  • Information and Communications Technology and Disaster Risk Reduction
  • Social Development
  • Statistics
  • Subregional activities for development
  • Energy

ESCAP is committed to a resilient Asia and the Pacific founded on shared prosperity, social equity and sustainability


Namami Gange Programme

{Environment}


In news

National Mission for Clean Ganga has approved eight projects worth Rs. 700 crore, out of which four pertain to sewage management in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal, three are related to treatment of drains through bio-remediation and one of inventorization and surveillance of river Ganga.

Namami Gange Programme in brief

  • Namami Gange programme was launched as a mission to achieve the target of cleaning river Ganga in an effective manner with the unceasing involvement of all stakeholders, especially five major Ganga basin States – Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar and West Bengal.
  • The programme envisages: River Surface Cleaning, Sewerage Treatment Infrastructure, River Front Development, Bio-Diversity, Afforestation and Public Awareness.
  • The program would be implemented by the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), and its state counterpart organizations i.e., State Program Management Groups (SPMGs).
  • In order to improve implementation, a three-tier mechanism has been proposed for project monitoring comprising of a) High level task force chaired by Cabinet Secretary assisted by NMCG at national level, b) State level committee chaired by Chief Secretary assisted by SPMG at state level and c) District level committee chaired by the District Magistrate.
  • The program emphasizes on improved coordination mechanisms between various Ministries/Agencies of Central and State governments.

India Water Week

{Environment}


 Contexthttps://screenshots.firefoxusercontent.com/images/8428cc0c-4409-4d6d-b418-98d8b87a8e27.png

The issue of water is becoming still more critical in view of climate change and related environmental concerns. Better and more efficient use of water is a challenge for Indian agriculture and industry alike. It requires us to set new benchmarks in both our villages and in the cities we build.

Key points 

  • The government has involved all stakeholders including decision makers, politicians, researchers and entrepreneurs of water resources from India as well as abroad to discuss strategies for managing the demands and supplies in the right manner.
    • The first event was organised in New Delhi in 2012 and the theme was ‘Water, Energy and Food Security: Call for Solutions’.
    • Fourth India Water week 2016: Water for All: Striving Together
    • The India Water Week 2017: Water and Energy for Inclusive Growth

Exhibition

  • There will also be an exhibition running in parallel supporting the theme and showcasing the technologies, latest developments and solutions available for the areas in, water and energy.

Advantages

  • Business firms will have the opportunity of direct interactions with thousands of potential clients, highly qualified visitors including decision makers, enormous PR and promotional opportunities, joint ventures, expanding their business in the rapidly growing Indian water market and to increase brand visibility/image.
  • The exhibition will provide a unique networking opportunity to the exhibitors for displaying their products and services to the practising water resource professionals from participating countries.

Facts

80 per cent of water in India is used by agriculture and only 15 per cent by industry.

In India, 40 billion litres of waste water is produced every day.


PFRDA rolls-out Aadhar Powered Digital on Boarding into APY through eNPS platform for wider reach

{Economic Policy} {Digitalization}


 In news

Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) has embarked upon several digital friendly steps for extension of the benefits of APY to the citizens of India.

Highlights

Under this channel a complete end to end digital environment for subscription is enabled without submission of physical form at the convenience of the customer without visiting bank or post office.

So far APY is available for subscription through Banks, BCs and through internet banking. Now, APY is available on eNPS platform and any eligible Indian citizen can enroll through the APY@eNPS channel by visiting www.enps.nsdl.com. The customers of the Bank can visit eNPS portal and submit Aadhaar/ Bank Name and Savings Bank Account Number to join the scheme. The benefits of APY@eNPS are:

  • Paperless registration
  • No need for visiting Bank Branch.
  • Online enrollment can be made 24*7 at the customer’s convenience.
  • No Need for having internet banking Id.

A Joint Declaration of Intent was signed between Ministry of Railways and Germany for feasibility study.

{International Relations} {Development and Employment}


 In news

The current Joint Declaration of Intent is intended to deepen the cooperation, more specifically towards the achievement in the priority area of Semi High Speed Rail: the upgrading of current passenger services to SHS (Semi High Speed) upto 200 kmph on the Chennai-Kazipet corridor (643 km).

The Project is envisaged to consist of three phases to be carried out over a 22 month period with the objectives to provide :

  • Phase 1: Definition of three demand-based Upgrade scenarios for the corridor
  • Phase 2: Selection of the preferred Upgrade scenario for SHS on the corridor, based on analysis of respective operations and economic-financial impact.
  • Phase 3: For preferred scenario, Reference design and technical Tender document:
  1. Development of Reference design for technical solution on preferred  Upgrade scenario.
  2. Procurement concept for Construction works and Railway Systems.
  3. Concept and Requirements for construction Phasing under railway  Operations.
  4. Preparation of technical tender documents for preferred Scenario usable for Design & Build tendering.
  5. Development of recommendations on the implications for a larger SHS program for India.
  6. Possible financing options for the implementation of the corridor.

Protocol on cooperation in Rail sector was signed between both sides in May, 2016 in Germany, with following priority areas.

a)    Concepts for increasing the design and the actually driven speeds;

b)  Concepts for increasing the capacity of railway lines in passenger and goods transport;

c)  Concepts for improving operational safety to avoid incidents and accidents;

d)  Concepts for reducing operational costs, in particular by means of energy efficient railway operations;

e) Concepts for the cooperation between education and training facilities in India and Germany with the objective of enhancing the railway know how;

f)  Supporting the expansion of the high speed and semi high speed network;

g)  Joint development of user oriented standards and norms for India with the participation of the competent regulatory authorities;

h)   Concepts for speed raising on longer stretches for multiple traffic;

i)     Concepts for station redevelopment on modern lines.


Paryatan Parv

{Indian diaspora}


The soul of ‘Paryatan Parv- Dekho Apna Desh’ is spreading its wings and enticing overseas Indian Community to come and see ‘Bharat- Apna Desh.https://screenshots.firefoxusercontent.com/images/a5acc3df-6f83-49ce-83e7-39e7680dc0f2.png

Objective

It aims of drawing attention on the benefits of tourism, showcasing the cultural diversity of the country and reinforcing the principle of “Tourism for All”.

Key Points

  • Ministry of Tourism has launched the ParyatanParv ”  celebrations
  • The programme is being organised by the Ministry of Tourism, in collaboration with other Central Ministries, State Governments and stakeholders
  • The feastival will also have cultural performances, crafts bazaar, food court showcasing folk and classical dance and music, handicrafts and handlooms and cuisine from all the states.
  • Ministry of External Affairs through Indian Missions Abroad has formulated a well-structured plan to promote Indian tourism to Persons of Indian Origin residing abroad.

Components of Paryatan Parv

Dekho Apna Desh

This program is designed to encourage Indians to explore their own country. It will include blog competitions, video, photograph and painting competitions. The prime focus is on promoting travel to North Eastern State and Jammu & Kashmir.

Tourism For All

This component is designed to promote tourism events at sites in all the states, nation-wide. The event is designed to encourage people’s participation. Exhibitions showcasing handlooms, handicrafts, cuisine and culture; cultural programmes such as including theatre, dance and music will be organized at all the sites.

Tourism and Governance

Interactive workshops and sessions will be organized with the stakeholders on various themes like “Innovation in tourism”, “Inducting ex-servicemen as service providers for Taxi Operations, “Developing Rural Tourism in locations near established destinations”, “Skill development in tourism sector” etc.

Outreach Programmes

Union Ministry of External Affairs would be organizing outreach programmes in the overseas markets through the Indian Missions with the aim of encouraging people to visit India. It will primarily lay its focus on Persons of Indian Origin who have never visited India.


Cabinet approves MoC between India and Japan

{International Relations}


In news

The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the signing of “Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC)” between India and Japan on the “Technical Intern Training Program (TITP)”. 

Key Points

  • This MoC is expected to be signed during the forthcoming visit of Hon’ble Minister for Skill Development & Entrepreneurship during October, 16-18, 2017 at Tokyo.
  • The Technical Intern Training Program (TITP) is an ambitious program to send Indian technical interns to Japan for on the job training for a period of three to five years.
  • It is expected that the MoC will pave the way for bilateral cooperation between the two countries in the area of skill development.

(MoC) between India and Japan on establishing a liquid, flexible and global LNG Market.

The MoC will promote bilateral relationship between India and Japan in the energy sector. It will contribute to the diversification of gas supplies for India. This will strengthen our energy security and lead to more competitive prices for consumers.

Background

India and Japan are major consumers of energy in the world.

In the LNG sector, Japan is the world’s largest importer and India is the 4th largest importer.

Under the Japan-India Energy Partnership Initiative signed in January 2016, the two sides had agreed to work together in promoting well-functioning energy markets and affirmed to promote a transparent and diversified Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) market through the relaxation of Destination Restriction Clause.


Cabinet approves MoU between India and Belarus for Cooperation in the field of Vocational Education and Training 

{International Relations} {Education Policy}


In news

This is for the first time MoU for cooperation in area of vocational education, training and skill development has been signed with Eurasian country.

Why?

Belarus has a large concentration of industries, mainly into manufacturing and heavy industries, which draw their strength from available skilled manpower and a highly developed skill training system.

The transfer of knowledge of their skilling methodology will immensely help in our initiatives like “Make in India” and “Skill India”. 

The areas of cooperation are as under:

  • The Belarusian side shall provide comprehensive transfer of know-how of emerging technologies, training and evaluation methodologies, content development for regular / distance learning / e-learning/training of master trainers, competency building of the assessors in area of their competency and network building & industry linkage;
  • Vocational education services for Indian citizens for skill development in the field of construction, electric-power production and distribution, manufacturing industry, trade, auto service and household goods repair and maintenance, transport, communication, hotels and restaurants as well as other fields being in high demand in India;
  • Retraining, up-skilling,    internship   for   Vocational   Education   and   Training managers, teachers and trainers of India by the Belarusian Side;
  • Advisory services in order to enhance planning, management and delivery of Vocational Education and Training and Skill Development.

Major impact

  • The MoU would bring in Belarus experience and expertise for overall improvement in skill eco system of the country.
  • Implementation of proposal includes innovation and improvement in the existing vocational education and skill development through Research and Development in the field.

Cabinet approves SANKALP & STRIVE Schemes to boost Skill India Mission 

{Development and Employment}


The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has approved two new World Bank supported schemes of Rs. 6,655 crore – Skills Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion (SANKALP) and Skill Strengthening for Industrial Value Enhancement (STRIVE).

Skills Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion (SANKALP) aimed at providing market relevant training to youths across the country.

Skill Strengthening for Industrial Value Enhancement (STRIVE) aimed at improving the quality and the market relevance of vocational training provided in ITIs.

Highlights of these projects

  • The project will also strengthen the apprenticeship programme through industry-cluster approach.
  • Both Schemes are under the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship and supported by World Bank loan assistance.
  • The two schemes will help in setting up national body for vocational education – Vocational Education and Training (VET).
  • VET shall regulate accreditation and certification in both long and short term thereby bringing about uniformity in vocational training.
  • SANKALP is a centrally sponsored scheme and STRIVE is a central sector scheme.

India’s first Sewage Treatment Plant under Hybrid Annuity Mode to come up in Haridwar and Varanasi 

{Public Policy}


Hybrid Annuity mode (HAM)

HAM’s a hybrid — a mix of the EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) and BOT (build, operate, transfer) models. Under the EPC model, NHAI pays private players to lay roads.

Basic features of the existing PPP models

  1. The Build Operate and Transfer (BOT) Annuity Model

Under BOT annuity, a developer builds the highway, operates it for a specified duration and transfers it back to the government. The government starts payment to the developer after the launch of commercial operation of the project. Payment will be made on a six month basis.

  1. BOT Toll Model

In this toll based BOT model, a road developer constructs the road and he is allowed to recover his investment through toll collection. This toll collection will be over a period of nearly 30 years in most cases. There is no government payment to the developer as he earns his money invested from tolls.

  1. Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) Model

Under this model, the cost is completely borne by the government. Government invites bids for engineering knowledge from the private players.  Procurement of raw material and construction costs are met by the government. The private sector’s participation is minimum and is limited to the provision of engineering expertise. A difficulty of the model is that financial is the high financial burden for the government

Why is it important?

  • HAM arose out of a need to have a better financial mechanism for road development.
  • Also, if the compensation structure didn’t involve a fixed compensation (such as annuity), developers had to take on the entire risk of low passenger traffic
  • HAM is a good trade-off, spreading the risk between developers and the Government.
  • Here, the government pitches in to finance 40 per cent of the project cost — a sort of viability-gap funding.
  • This helps cut the overall debt and improves project returns. The annuity payment structure means that the developers aren’t taking ‘traffic risk’.
  • From the Government’s perspective, it gets an opportunity to flag off road projects by investing a portion of the project cost.
  • While it does take the traffic risk, it also earns better social returns by way of access and convenience to daily commuters.

Cabinet approves change of status for marine body IALA

{Internal Security}


In news

Union Cabinet has given its approval for International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (IALA) to change its status from Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) to Inter-Governmental Organization (IGO).

The move will facilitate “to foster the safe, economic and efficient movement of vessels”. It will bring IALA at par with International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and International Hydrographic Organisation (IHO).

IALA

  • The IALA, having headquarters at St. Germainen Laye (France) was established in 1957 under French law. It is governed by a General Assembly having 83 National members, with its Council as the executive body.
  • The IALA council consists of 24 National Members and India is one of the council members represented through the Directorate General of Lighthouses and Lightships (DGLL), Ministry of Shipping.
  • DGLL establishes and maintains Aids to Navigation in general waters along coast of India including A&N and Lakshadweep group of islands, as per Lighthouse Act 1927.

Launch of Mobile Health App `MedWatch’ By the Indian Air Force 

{Health policy}


In news

On the occasion of its 85th anniversary, the Indian Air Force has launched an innovative mobile health App named `MedWatch‘ in keeping with the Prime Minister’s vision of ‘Digital India’.

Key points

  • ‘MedWatch’, available on the IAF’s AFCEL network, comprises a host of features that will provide authentic health information to all IAF personnel.
  • A Reminder Tool to enable timely immunization for the children of all Air Warriors is an important component of the App. This will directly enable ‘Mission Indradhanush’ of the Govt of India.
  • ‘MedWatch’, the first mobile health app in the three Armed Services, was launched by Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa PVSM AVSM YSM VM ADC, Chief of the Air Staff, during the Air Force Commanders’ Conference at New Delhi on 11 Oct 17.

Sampoorna Bima Gram (SBG) Yojana

{Public Policy}


In news

The Minister for Communications Shri Manoj Sinha today launched the Sampoorna Bima Gram (SBG) Yojana and an initiative for expansion of clientele base of Postal Life Insurance.

  • In a bid to provide affordable life insurance services to people, particularly those living in rural areas of the country, the government launched SBG and expanded the coverage of Postal Life Insurance (PLI).
  • Under SBG at least one village (having a minimum of 100 households) will be identified in each of the revenue districts of the country, wherein endeavour will be made to cover all households of that identified village with a minimum of one RPLI (Rural Postal Life Insurance)policy each.
  • Coverage of all households in the identified Sampoorna Bima Gram village is the primary objective of this scheme.
  • The benefits of PLI will no more be confined to government and semi-government employees only, but will also be available to professionals such asdoctors, engineers, management consultants, chartered accountants, architects, lawyers, bankers etc. and to the employees of listed companies of NSE (National Stock Exchange) and BSE (Bombay Stock Exchange).
  • The decision has been taken to enlarge the cover of social security and bring the maximum number of people under the protection of Postal Life Insurance (PLI).

Postal Life Insurance (PLI)

  • PLI, introduced in 1884, is one of the oldest life insurance schemes for benefit of government and semi-government employees.
  • In the beginning, the upper limit of life insurance was only Rs 4000, which has now increased to Rs 50 lakh.
  • It covers employees of Central and state governments, Central and state public sector undertakings, universities, government-aided educational institutions, nationalized banks, local bodies, autonomous bodies, joint ventures having a minimum of 10% Govt./PSU stake, credit co-operative societies etc.
  • PLI also extends the facility of insurance to the officers and staff of the Defence services and para-military
  • Apart from single insurance policies, Postal Life Insurance also manages a group insurance scheme for the extra departmental employees (Gramin Dak Sevaks) of the Department of Posts.

PLI offers 6 types of plans

  • Whole Life Assurance (SURAKSHA)
  • Convertible Whole Life Assurance (SUVIDHA)
  • Endowment Assurance (SANTOSH)
  • Anticipated Endowment Assurance (SUMANGAL)
  • Joint Life Assurance (YUGAL SURAKSHA)
  • Children Policy (BAL JEEVAN BIMA)

Rural Postal Life Insurance (RPLI)

  • On the other hand, Rural Postal Life Insurance (RPLI), introduced on March 24, 1995 on the recommendations of the Malhotra Committeeprovides insurance cover to people residing in rural areas, especially weaker sections and women living in rural areas.
  • Low premium and high bonus is the unique feature of PLI and RPLI schemes.
  • As on March 31, 2017, there were 46.8 lakh PLI and 146.8 lakh RPLI policies across the country.

Deep Dharohar 

{Art & Culture} 


In news 

Dr. Mahesh Sharma, Minister of State (Independent charge) for Culture inaugurated “Deep Dharohar” organized by the Ministry of Culture here today.

 

The festival was inaugurated by the lighting of 1000 diyas by the participating artists and artisans and children from organisations like the CCRT, SAPNA Prayas and Kailash Satyarthi’s foundation, to the beat of pakhawajs, nagadas, dhols etc.

Key points 

  • With an aim to revive the lost classical and folk traditions of the festival Diwali and promote and conserve India’s diverse heritage, the Ministry of Culture on Friday organised here an event “Deep Dharohar”.
  • During the event, the minister also released a book titled “Living Traditions, Tribal and Folk Paintings of India”, published under the matrix of “Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat” by the Cultural Mapping team of the Ministry of Culture and CCRT.
  • With around 50 stalls, the festival is showcasing the rich repository of red, grey and black ware potters, reed (sikki) artisans, rural sculptors, Madhubani, Gond, Phad and Pattachitra art, lacquer workers, bell-metal and bamboo artisans.
  • A group of 100 artisans chosen by the Zonal Cultural Centres and knowledge partners from seven regions of the country are interfacing with organisations like the Asian Heritage Foundation, INTACH’s Intangible Cultural Heritage team, Dastkaari Haat Samiti, Centre for New Perspectives, TRIFED etc. for creative collaboration in creating sustainable livelihood hubs/clusters.

Mitra Shakti 2017

{International Relations} {Internal Security}


 In news 

The fifth India-Sri Lanka Joint Training Exercise MITRA SHAKTI 2017 started with a grand Opening Ceremony conducted at Aundh Military Station, Pune and will last on October 25, 2017.

Key Facts 

  • The Mitra Shakti series of exercises has been one of key defence cooperation initiatvies between the two countries since 2013.
  • The exercise is taking place at a time when the region faces evolving security dynamics.
  • The 4th edition had taken place in Sri Lanka last year.
  • The training module will include weapons training, basic military tactics and complex battle strategies.
  • The exercise is based on Counter Terrorist Operations and an Infantry company from both the countries is participating in the same.

Why it is important for India?

The training exercise is considered an important effort in India’s response to China’s growing influence in South Asia and the Indian Ocean region.

The India – Sri Lanka joint training exercise MITRA SHAKTI 2017 in its fifth edition will send a strong signal to the world that both India and Sri Lanka understand the emerging threat of terrorism and stand shoulder to shoulder in countering this menace.


 

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