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Current Affairs Analysis

19th October 2016 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

Zero Defect, Zero Effect (ZED) scheme; National SC/ST Hub; Regional Connectivity; SAFAR; 10th India-United States Trade Policy Forum (TPF); INS Tihayu; IOC Athletes’ commission; etc.
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
October 19, 2016

Contents

Polity & Governance

  • Zero Defect, Zero Effect (ZED) scheme
  • National SC/ST Hub
  • Centre’s regional connectivity proposal may face turbulence

Environment & Ecology

  • Delhi’s air quality very poor: SAFAR

Bilateral & International Relations

  • India-Myanmar sign three pacts
  • 10th India and United States Trade Policy Forum

Defence & Security Issues

  • INS Tihayu commissioned

Science & Technology

  • NPL Scientists produce electricity from water without using energy

Key Facts for Prelims

  • IOC Athletes’ commission
  • BP Plc gets licence in India

Polity & Governance

Zero Defect, Zero Effect (ZED) scheme

Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently launched the Zero Defect, Zero Effect (ZED) scheme for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).

iastoppers-zero-defect-zero-effect-zed-scheme

What is Zero Defect, Zero Effect (ZED) scheme?

  • The ZED Maturity Assessment Model has been conceived and structured to offer graded benchmark levels of an organisation’s performance through a set of standard enabler and outcome parameters focusing on quality and environmental performances.
  • ZED Scheme aims to rate and handhold all MSMEs to deliver top quality products using clean technology.
  • It will have sector-specific parameters for each industry.
  • MSME sector is crucial for the economic progress of India and this scheme will help to match global quality control standards.

Significance of the scheme:

  • ZED Scheme is meant to raise quality levels in unregulated MSME sector which is engine of growth for Indian economy. MSME sector drives almost 38% of nation’s GDP and around employs 110 million employees.
  • The scheme will be cornerstone of the Central Government’s flagship Make in India programme, which is aimed at turning India into a global manufacturing hub, generating jobs, boosting growth and increase incomes.

Background:

  • The slogan of Zero Defect, Zero Effect (ZED) was first mentioned by PM Narendra Modi in his Independence Day speech in 2014. It was given for producing high quality manufacturing products with a minimal negative impact on environment.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

National SC/ST Hub

Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently launched the National SC/ST (Schedule Castes/Schedule Tribes) Hub, which provides support to entrepreneurs from the community.

iastoppers-national-sc_st-hub

Key features of the SC/ST Hub:

  • The objective of the SC/ST Hub is to provide professional support to entrepreneurs from the SC/ST.
  • It also seeks to promote enterprise culture and entrepreneurship among the SC/ST population and to enable them to participate more effectively in public procurement.
  • It will work towards strengthening market access/linkage, capacity building, monitoring, sharing industry-best practices and leveraging financial support schemes.
  • It will also enable central public sector enterprises to fulfill the procurement target set by the government.
  • It will have an initial outlay of Rs 490 crore.
[The Hindu]

 

Centre’s regional connectivity proposal may face turbulence

The government’s plans to boost regional air connectivity could face legal obstacles.

iastoppers-regional-air-connectivity

Who opposes?

  • Leading domestic airlines have opposed the proposal to charge a levy on flights on major routes to fund subsidies for regional flights and are likely to challenge it in the courts.

Why they are opposing?

  • Major airlines have termed the proposed regional connectivity levy as “illegal” and “in contravention to the Constitution of India.
  • According to them, the government is not empowered to levy a tax on airlines to fund the regional connectivity scheme under the Aircraft Act of 1934.

Their arguments:

According to leading domestic airlines,

  • A levy in the nature of tax can only be levied having regard to the provisions contained in the Article 265 of the Constitution of India i.e. by authority of law. Therefore, the draft rules as published ultra vires the Constitution of India and is illegal.
  • Imposition of a regional connectivity levy would require amendment to the Aircraft Act, 1934 and not the rule.
  • Besides, Section 5(2) (ab) of the Aircraft Act of 1934 does empower the Centre to make rules for economic regulation of air services but it doesn’t authorise it “to introduce a levy in the nature of tax on air services.”

What has been proposed in the regional connectivity scheme?

  • As a part of its proposed regional connectivity scheme, the Union Civil Aviation Ministry had mooted amendments to the Aircraft Rules of 1937 in August to set up a regional connectivity fund to subsidise the losses of airlines that wanted to fly on regional routes.
  • The fund was proposed to be financed by a levy on domestic flights along with contribution from states and credit proceeds from other sources.
  • Passengers will be able to fly to unserved and underserved airports for a fare of Rs 2,500 an hour, under the scheme.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Environment & Ecology

Delhi’s air quality very poor: SAFAR

As per System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), national capital New Delhi’s air quality was recorded in the ‘very poor’ category.

iastoppers-air-quality

  • The average (24-hour rolling) of PM2.5 and PM10, suspended respirable pollutants, were recorded as 120.8 and 248 micrograms per cubic metre as against safe limits of 60 and 100.

Effects of poor air quality:

  • The poor air quality may lead to respiratory problems, irritation to eyes and skin, blurring of vision and headache.

What are the reasons?

  • The major reasons for the poor air quality may due to the favourable cold weather conditions coupled with very light wind, vehicular pollution and farm fires in neighbouring states of Punjab, Haryana.

What is SAFAR?

  • SAFAR was introduced by Union Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) for greater metropolitan cities of India to provide location specific information on air quality in near real time.
  • It was developed by Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune along with India Meteorological Department (IMD) and National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF).
  • The main objective of SAFAR project is to increase awareness among general public regarding the air quality.
  • The purpose awareness for general public is to take appropriate mitigation measures and systematic action for betterment of air quality and related health issues.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Bilateral & International Relations

India-Myanmar sign three pacts

India and Myanmar have signed three agreements on co-operation in banking, insurance and power sectors.

iastoppers-aung-san-suu-kyi
State Counsellor of Myanmar Aung San Suu Kyi
  • Keeping in view the sensitivity of each other’s strategic interests, the two nations also agreed for close security coordination in border areas.
  • The MoUs were signed during State Counsellor of Myanmar Aung San Suu Kyi’s three day visit to India.

Three agreements include:  

  1. MoU on Banking Supervision between RBI and Central Bank of Myanmar.
  2. MoU on Cooperation in the field of Power Sector: India has also offered to enhance power supply from Moreh in Manipur to Tamu in Myanmar.
  3. The MoU was signed between Financial Regulatory Department of Myanmar and Insurance Institute of India for designing an academic and professional building programme for insurance industry of Myanmar.

Other agreements:

  • Besides, the two countries also agreed to enhance engagement in several areas like to develop a mutually beneficial arrangement for trade in pulses.
  • India also said that the Archaeological Survey of India will soon begin work on restoring two old temples and inscriptions of King Mindon and King Baygyidaw in Bodh Gaya.
[Ref: LiveMint]

 

10th India and United States Trade Policy Forum

10th India-United States Trade Policy Forum (TPF) meetings are being held at New Delhi.

iastoppers-trade-policy-forum

Key facts:

  • These meetings aim to increase the bilateral interaction between the two countries and increase the momentum on resolving trade concerns.
  • Under TPF there would be technical level discussions on issues concerning with Agriculture, Services and Goods, IPR and Manufacturing.

Significance of TPF:

  • The TPF provides the venue for evaluating progress that has been made on trade and investment issues between the US and India at the ministerial level.
  • It is the premier bilateral forum for the discussion and resolution of trade and investment issues between the US and India.
  • It will allow the United States and India to advance on-going bilateral efforts to expand trade and investment through forward-looking policy initiatives that can benefit our manufacturers, workers, innovators, service providers, farmers, and ranchers.
  • Discussions in the TPF are generally organized around key issue areas, including intellectual property, opening investment in manufacturing, agriculture, and services.

Background:

  • The bilateral commercial ties between the United States and India are growing stronger as reflected by increased bilateral trade in Goods and Services of $109 billion and highest ever FDI inflows in 2015-16.
  • The bilateral cooperation under TPF has resulted in resolving several market access issues and cooperation in services, manufacturing and IPR. India is looking forward to maintain the momentum further in the current TPF.
[Ref: PIB]

 

Defence & Security Issues

INS Tihayu commissioned

iastoppers-ins-tihayu

  • Indian Navy has commissioned INS Tihayu, a Car Nicobar Class water jet fast attack craft (WJFAC).
  • It is the sixth WJFAC Car Nicobar Class vessel to be commissioned and allotted to the Eastern Fleet of the Indian Navy.
  • It is an improved version of the earlier vessels. It has been fitted with three water jet propulsion systems, powered by marine diesel engines generating 2720 KW of power.
  • It also has been loaded with an indigenously-built 30 mm CRN gun, an assorted variant of machine guns and shoulder-launched IGLA surface to air missile.
  • The WJFAC are high-speed offshore patrol vessels. They are the first water jet propelled vessels of the Indian Navy. They are designed as a cost-effective platform for patrol, anti-piracy and rescue operations in India’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Science & Technology

NPL Scientists produce electricity from water without using energy

In a major breakthrough, scientists at Delhi’s National Physical Laboratory (NPL) have developed a novel way of producing electricity from water at room temperature without using any power or chemicals.

iastoppers-national-physical-laboratory

What has been used?

  • The scientists used nanoporous magnesium ferrite to split water into hydronium (H3O) and hydroxide (OH) ions and used silver and zinc as electrodes to make a cell that produces electricity.
  • Magnesium ferrite is made as an oxygen-deficient material and has plenty of oxygen vacancies. To further enhance the activity of magnesium ferrite, about 20% of magnesium is replaced with lithium.

How does it work?

  • As magnesium has high affinity for hydroxide, it spontaneously splits water into hydroxide and hydronium ions. The H3O ions get trapped inside the nanopores of magnesium ferrite and generate an electric field.
  • The substitution of lithium at magnesium site increases the sensitivity of magnesium ferrite. This is helpful in dissociating water at room temperature as the electrons get trapped in the oxygen deficient sites.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Key Facts for Prelims

IOC Athletes’ commission

iastoppers-saina-nehwal

  • Indian sportsperson, star shuttler Saina Nehwal has been appointed as a member of the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Athletes’ Commission.
  • The IOC Athletes’ Commission is a body of sportspersons maintained by the IOC for the purpose of representing athletes.
  • It was established in 1981 and its creation was codified by the IOC in Rule 21 of the Olympic Charter.
  • The athletes commission works as a consultative body and act as link between active athletes and the IOC.
  • It makes recommendations to the IOC’s executive bodies. Its chair serves as a member of the IOC Executive Board.
  • It meets once or twice a year, and also organises an Athletes’ Forum once every two years.
  • The Athletes’ Commission of IOC is chaired by Angela Ruggiero. It comprises nine vice presidents and 10 other members.

 

BP Plc gets licence in India

iastoppers-bp-plc

  • Union government has formally granted a licence to BP Plc to set up 3,500 petrol pumps in India, making it the 10th company to enter the lucrative fuel retailing sector.
  • BP plc is Europe’s third-biggest oil company,
  • It is a British multinational oil and gas company headquartered in London, England.
  • It was formerly known as British Petroleum.
  • It is one of the world’s seven oil and gas supermajors.

 

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