Polity & Governance
- HRD Minister launches digital initiative- Smart India Hackathon
- Government rolls out Pradhan Mantri Yuva Yojana for entrepreneurs
- Improve ports, logistics to boost exports: WB
Bilateral & International Relations
- Delhi Declaration on Agrobiodiversity Management
- Competition Commission of India (CCI) selected to host ICN 2018 Annual Conference
- Protocol amending the DTAC between India and Japan comes into force
Key Facts for Prelims
- India’s first LNG-powered bus
- No More Tension App
- “Healthy India Initiative/Swastha Bharat-ek pehal”
- Donald Trump elected as 45th President of USA
Polity & Governance
HRD Minister launches digital initiative- Smart India Hackathon
The Union Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) has launched Smart India Hackathon 2017.
- It is the world’s largest digital national building initiative.
- It is joint initiative of All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), University Grants Commission (UGC), MyGov, NASSCOM, i4c, Rambhau Mhalgi Prabodhiniand Persistent Systems.
Aim of the initiative:
- The Hackathon aims to find digital solutions by harnessing creativity and technical expertise of over 30 lakh students from technology institutes in remotest parts of India.
- Through this initiative, HRD Ministry is keen to reach out to all technology institutions in the country and challenge students to offer innovative solutions to some of the daunting problems faced by our nation.
- Besides, it seeks to spark several institute-level hackathons countrywide and help build a funnel for ‘Startup India, Standup India’ campaign.
What will it do?
- It will find digital solutions to problems in the areas of education, health, water, power, agriculture, finance, urban & rural development, energy, aviation & shipping, transport, sanitation, law & justice, sports, skill development & entrepreneurship, textiles, tourism, defence etc.
- The initiative will help to institutionalize a model for harnessing the creativity and skills of youth for nation-building.
- The Hackathon will have nearly 500 problem statements in all and will be published on innovate.mygov.in. In the first set of 250 problem statements were unveiled.
Government rolls out Pradhan Mantri Yuva Yojana for entrepreneurs
The Union Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) has launched the Pradhan Mantri YUVA Yojana to boost up an ecosystem of entrepreneurship for young people.
Key features of the scheme:
- The scheme was launched for the time period of over five years (2016-17 to 2020-21) with a project cost of 499.94 crore rupees.
- It will offer entrepreneurship education and training to around 7 lakh students in 5 years through 3050 Institutes.
- It will also offer easy access to information and mentor network, credit and advocacy to build a way-out for the youngsters.
- The institutes under the Yojana include 2200 Institutes of Higher Learning (colleges, universities, and premier institutes), 300 schools, 500 ITIs and 50 Entrepreneurship Development Centres.
- These institutes will carry out the training through Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).
Improve ports, logistics to boost exports: WB
The World Bank has released a report titled ‘South Asia’s Turn: Policies to Boost Competitiveness and Create the Next Export Powerhouse’.
- In its report, the World Bank has suggested a set of policy actions in four sectors — agribusiness, apparel, electronics and automotive.
Important observations made by the report:
- With the right set of productivity-enhancing policies, South Asia, led by India, could more than triple its share in global markets of electronics and motor vehicles and come close to doubling its already significant market share in wearing apparel (excluding textiles and leather) by 2030.
- In the farm sector, passive and non-targeted subsidies (e.g. water, fertilisers and minimum support price) have encouraged farmers to continue to produce low value crops using low productivity and unsustainable techniques while restrictions on agricultural markets have constrained productive private investments in higher value food products.
- The electronics sector faces constraints such as underdeveloped clusters and poor trade logistics, while the apparel sector is facing difficulties to import man-made fibre, preventing upgrading and diversification.
- India remains behind on ‘global value chain’ capabilities including physical capital, human capital, institutions and logistics.
Policy actions suggested by the World Bank:
- India must frame policies to reduce farm subsidies and cut import tariffs on cars and take steps to improve ports and logistics to emerge as an export powerhouse.
- In order to enhance the business environment in the sector, the government needs to bring out reforms including reducing subsidies and promoting competition.
- The government needs to improve target subsidies so that only the poor farmers are benefited because passive and non-targeted subsidies are not encouraging farmers to adopt new technologies and (seed) varieties.
Electronics and automotive:
- The government should also consider gradually reducing tariffs on final cars, as the prevailing high import tariffs on the completely built units are slowing down diffusion of good practices.
- To become a significant player in electronics, India needs to facilitate the development of clusters (reducing transaction costs and facilitating access to large pools of skilled labour and services) and improve its trade logistics to enable the seamless import and export of hundreds of components.
- India needs to reform the duty drawback scheme to facilitate the import of fabrics for exports. The current system imposes delays that are unacceptable to global buyers, cutting Indian exporters from the increasingly important manmade fibre segment.
Bilateral & International Relations
Delhi Declaration on Agrobiodiversity Management
The first International Agrobiodiversity Congress (IAC) held in New Delhi has adopted New Delhi Declaration on Agrobiodiversity Management.
- In the declaration, 900 participants from 60 countries have urged researchers and policy-makers to strengthen and promote complementary conservation strategies to conserve and use agrobiodiversity.
Key features of the Declaration:
- Nations must accord top priority to the agrobiodiversity conservation and their sustainable use towards achieving targets of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) relating to poverty alleviation, food and nutritional security, good health, gender equity and partnership.
- Recognises importance of traditional knowledge on agrobiodiversity of farm women and men, pastoralists and other tribal and rural communities and also their role in its conservation and use for a food and climate resilient world.
- It calls upon nations to develop the necessary funding, legal and institutional mechanism to ensure and facilitate their continued active participation.
- It urges policy-makers and researchers to initiate, strengthen, and promote complementary conservation strategies to conserve and use agrobiodiversity.
- It must include wild relatives of crop to ensure a continuum between in situ, ex situ and on farm conservation strategies to combat food and nutrition insecurity as well as adverse effects of land degradation, climate change and biodiversity loss.
- Researchers must employ modern technologies including, but not limited to, space, genomic, computational and nano-technologies for characterization, evaluation and trait discovery using genetic resources.
- Their aim should be to achieve equality, efficiency, economy and environmental security in agricultural production systems and landscapes.
- It reemphasizes the necessity of global exchange of plant, animal, aquatic microbial and insect genetic resources for food and agriculture to meet the ever-growing food and nutritional needs of each country.
- Countries need to harmonise their multiple legal systems and prioritize the improvement of their phytosanitary capacities to facilitate safe transfer of genetic resources using latest technologies and trans-boundary partnerships.
- It suggests developing and implementing an agrobiodiversity index to help monitor conservation and use of agrobiodiversity.
Competition Commission of India (CCI) selected to host ICN 2018 Annual Conference
Recognising the growing stature of Competition Commission of India (CCI) in the world, International Competition Network (ICN) has accepted the proposal and decided that Competition Commission of India would host the 2018 ICN Annual Conference.
- This will be held at Delhi in March –April 2018.
- By virtue of this event, CCI has also been inducted as an ex-officio member of the steering group member of the ICN for a period of 3 years.
About International Competition Network:
- International Competition Network (ICN) is an international body comprising 132 members from 120 competition jurisdictions exclusively devoted to international competition enforcement.
- ICN provides competition authorities with a specialised yet informal platform for addressing practical competition concerns, sharing experiences and adopting international best practices.
- Its members are national competition authorities and NGA (Non-governmental Advisers) which include reputed law firms, eminent persons, and think tanks of international repute.
- The ICN holds an Annual Conference which is hosted by a member competition agency. The last such Conference was hosted by Competition Commission of Singapore in April 2016 and Portuguese Competition Authority is hosting the next conference in May 2017.
- CCI is a member of the ICN since 2003.
About the Competition Commission of India:
Competition Commission of India (CCI) is a body of the Government of India responsible for enforcing The Competition Act, 2002 throughout India and to prevent activities that have an adverse effect on competition in India.
- CCI consists of a Chairperson and 6 Members appointed by the Central Government.
- It is the duty of the Commission to:
- Eliminate practices having adverse effect on competition,
- Promote and sustain competition,
- Protect the interests of consumers and
- Ensure freedom of trade in the markets of India.
- The Commission is also required to give opinion on competition issues on a reference received from a statutory authority established under any law and to undertake competition advocacy, create public awareness and impart training on competition issues.
Protocol amending the DTAC between India and Japan comes into force
A protocol amending the Double Taxation Avoidance Convention (DTAC) signed between India and Japan came into force on 29 October 2016 on completion of procedural requirements by both the countries.
- The amendment aims to promote transparency and cooperation between the two countries.
- The DTAC pact for avoidance of double taxation and prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income was signed on 11 December 2015.
About the Protocol:
- It provides for internationally accepted standards for effective exchange of information on tax matters including bank information and information without domestic tax interest.
- It states that the information received from Japan in respect of a resident of India can be shared with other law enforcement agencies with authorization of the Competent Authority of Japan and vice versa.
- It also provides for exemption of interest income from taxation in the source country with respect to debt-claims insured by the Government or Government owned financial institutions.
- It inserts a new article on assistance in collection of taxes. Here on, both India and Japan shall assist each other in the collection of revenue claims.
- The existing DTAC was signed earlier on 7 March 1989 and notified on 1 March 1990. It was amended later on 24 February 2006.
Key Facts for Prelims
India’s first LNG-powered bus
- India’s first liquefied natural gas-driven bus was launched in Kerala.
- It has been a joint effort of Petronet LNG Limited (PLL), Indian Oil Corporation Ltd and Tata Motors Ltd to introduce LNG as a fuel in commercial vehicles in the state capital.
- The LNG-driven bus was rolled out as part of the Centre’s plans to use LNG, considered to be a cleaner and safer fuel which emits 50 per cent less carbon, for mass transportation.
No More Tension App
- It is stress management mobile application recently launched by the government.
- It helps users to manage stress.
- It will help users to manage stress and will also provide information regarding stress, symptoms and its management.
- The application will allow user to measure their stress level and learn various techniques like yoga and meditation to reduce stress from their lives.
“Healthy India Initiative/Swastha Bharat-ek pehal”
- It is a quarterly magazine launched recently by the government.
- It will cater to health related information and will raise awareness about healthy living.
- The magazine will cover different aspect of health: women and child health, elderly health, seasonal ailments, daily nutritional needs, safe medication practices, home remedies healthy living and many more.
- The magazine will be made available at all the government facilities up to the sub-centre and will be available free of cost.
- The current issue is in Hindi and English and the next version will be available in 13 other languages.
Donald Trump elected as 45th President of USA
- Republican Party candidate Donald Trump was elected as 45th President of United States of America (USA).
- In the 2016 Presidential elections, Donald Trump gained 48% of the votes and 279 votes in the Electoral College to defeat Democrat Party opponent Hillary Clinton who gained 47% votes.
- Donald Trump will be the first President of USA without political experience since Dwight D. Eisenhower (34th President).
- Besides, he will oldest first term President of USA.
- He will succeed Barack Obama and is scheduled to take office as the President of the USA on 20 January 2017.