08_Ichthyosaurus-ias
Image Credit: National Geographic
Current Affairs Analysis

26th October 2017 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

Fossil of Jurassic era’s ‘fish lizard’; Ichthyosaur; Integrity Index; Central Vigilance Commission (CVC); Potential of e-commerce; Start-up Programmes for entrepreneurs in Oil and Gas sector; BharatMala Pariyojana; Asian Development Bank (ADB); Ban on use of petcoke to fight air pollution; Passport Index; Indian Navy’s New mission-based deployment plan; New tool to improve Indian monsoon forecast; First Meeting of BIMSTEC Task Force on Traditional Medicine; etc.
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
October 27, 2017

Contents

Polity & Governance

  • CVC to develop Integrity Index of 25 Organizations

Government Schemes & Policies

  • Centre to aid offshore e-commerce play
  • Petroleum ministry launches Start-up Programmes for entrepreneurs in Oil and Gas sector

Economy

  • All About BharatMala Pariyojana
  • ADB to extend $300 mn loan for fiscal reforms in West Bengal

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

  • SC asks UP, Rajasthan, Haryana to ban use of petcoke to fight air pollution
  • Fossil of Jurassic era’s ‘fish lizard’, a sea-dwelling reptile, found in Kutch

Bilateral & International Relations

  • Singapore has the most powerful passport

Defence & Security Issues

  • Navy to implement new plan for warships in Indian Ocean region

Science & Technology

  • New tool to improve Indian monsoon forecast developed

Key Facts for Prelims

  • Singapore caps car numbers
  • First Meeting of BIMSTEC Task Force on Traditional Medicine

For IASToppers Current Affairs Analysis Archive, Click Here

Polity & Governance

CVC to develop Integrity Index of 25 Organizations

The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) has decided to develop Integrity Index of 25 Government Organizations in line with its broader strategy and emphasis on preventive vigilance.

Integrity-Index-iastoppers-cvc

  • The index will be for bench-marking internal processes and controls within organisation as well as management of relationships and expectations of outside stakeholders.

The main objectives for which the Integrity Index is to be established are:

  • Define what constitutes Integrity of Public Organizations
  • Identify the different factors of Integrity and their inter-linkages
  • Create an objective and reliable tool that can measure the performance of organizations along these above factors
  • Validate the findings over a period of time to improve upon the robustness of the tool that measures Integrity
  • Create an internal and external ecosystem that promotes working with Integrity where public organizations lead the way.

Why Integrity Index?

  • It will bring out annual rankings/ scores of Public Sector Banks/ Public Sector Undertakings (PSBs/PSUs) and Financial Institutions/Departments/Ministries of Government of India.
  • These rankings and scores will be based on essential drivers of vigilance with long term efficiency, sustainability and profitability of public organizations.
  • It will promote working with Integrity in public organizations.

CVC-Integrity-Index-ias

How to create Integrity Index?

  • The CVC is working on Research-based approach for creating an integrity index which will help various organizations.
  • IIM-Ahmedabad has been engaged to develop the Integrity Index and 25 other organizations have been selected for development of the Integrity Index.
  • Initially 25 organizations have been selected for development of the index. Subsequently, it will be extended to all other CPSUs and organizations of Central Government.

About CVC:

Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) is an apex Indian governmental body created in 1964 to address governmental corruption.

ias-toppers-central-vigilance-commission

  • It has the status of an autonomous body, free of control from any executive authority.
  • It is charged with monitoring all vigilance activity under the Central Government of India, advising various authorities in central Government organizations in planning, executing, reviewing and reforming their vigilance work.
  • It was set up by the Government in February,1964 on the recommendations of the Committee on Prevention of Corruption, headed by Shri K. Santhanam, to advise and guide Central Government agencies in the field of vigilance.
  • It submits its report to the President of India.
  • CVC is advisory body.

Members:

  • The Commission shall consist of:
  1. A Central Vigilance Commissioner – Chairperson;
  2. Not more than two Vigilance Commissioners – Members;

Appointment:

  • The Central Vigilance Commissioner and the Vigilance Commissioners shall be appointed by the President on recommendation of a Committee consisting of the Prime Minister (Chairperson), the Minister of Home Affairs (Member) and the Leader of the Opposition in the House of the People (Member).
  • Their term is 4 years or 65 years, whichever is earlier.

Removal:

  • The Central Vigilance Commissioner or any Vigilance Commissioner can be removed from his office only by order of the President on the ground of proved misbehavior or incapacity after the Supreme Court, on a reference made to it by the President, has, on inquiry, reported that the Central Vigilance Commissioner or any Vigilance Commissioner, as the case may be, ought to be removed.
[Ref: PIB, Wiki]

 

Government Schemes & Policies

Centre to aid offshore e-commerce play

The Union government is working on a new policy to expand the footprint of the Indian e-commerce sector to tap potential markets outside the country, including Africa and Southeast Asia.

e-commerce-iastoppers-india

  • This is part of efforts to achieve the target of making India a trillion-dollar digital economy in the next seven years.

What’s the plan?

  • A policy framework will be two aspects to it — one will focus on expansion within India, and the other on global expansion.

Efforts being made by the government:

  • Currently, the Ministry is looking at tapping markets such as Southeast Asia, West Asia, SAARC countries such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, the Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, and BRICS partners (Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa).
  • The government is also working on a strategy to make India a hub for data analytics, cloud computing and financial technology, besides encouraging development of Internet of Things, to push the digital economy.
  • The Draft Data Protection Act is likely to be ready by December 2017, will provide a policy framework on digital economy, including social media.
  • The government will also ready a security framework for mobile devices and the mobile application ecosystem by March 2018.

Potential of e-commerce

  • The e-commerce economy is currently pegged at $30 billion, and the government expects it to grow at $150 billion by 2024-25.
  • The digital economy in the country was forecast to generate employment for about 30 million people by 2024-25, “which is double than the current scenario”.
  • e-commerce is set to grow 19-fold in generating employment.
  • While electronics, telecom and IT/ITeS sector will be the top three contributors with 8.9 million, 8.8 million and 6.5 million jobs, respectively, e-commerce is expected to create jobs for 6 million people.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Petroleum ministry launches Start-up Programmes for entrepreneurs in Oil and Gas sector

Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas launched new Start-up Sangam Programmes for entrepreneurs in Oil and Gas sector.

new-Start-up-Sangam-Programmes-iastoppers

  • The move is aimed to develop new business models, marketing plans, technology and innovations in the sector.

Key facts:

new Start-up Sangam iastoppers

  • For the same, 10 oil and gas PSUs have setup Rs. 320-crore venture capital fund to encourage start-ups based on innovative ideas in the energy sector.
  • The corpus was created by contributions from India Oil Corporation (IOL), ONGC, Engineers India, Oil India, Numaligarh Refinery, Bharat Petroleum Corporation (BPCL), Hindustan Petroleum Corporation (HP), GAIL), Balmer Lawrie and Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals.
  • The 10 oil PSUs have together selected nearly 30 start-up projects for support in the first round of the scheme which include:
  1. Electronic leak detector for detecting body and bung leak of LPG cylinders
  2. Self – sustaining low-maintenances toilets, or eco-toilets
  3. Multiuse Fuel from Agricultural Waste Biomass
  4. Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) for underwater inspections
  5. Converting waste plastics to high value petroleum fuels
  6. Solar Stove- Revolutionary Day and Night Indoor Solar Cooktop System for all lifestyles

Significance of the move:

  • It will change the status of the youth of our country from job seeker to that of job provider.
  • Business partnership between the start-ups and the PSUs of Petroleum Ministry will create a new benchmark for growth and job creation.
  • Start-ups in the oil and gas sector are not short-term investments, but a long-term commitment.
[Ref: PIB]

 

Economy

All About BharatMala Pariyojana

Check our Mind Map section on this topic.

 

ADB to extend $300 mn loan for fiscal reforms in West Bengal

The Asian Development Bank and the Government of India signed a $300 million loan to continue a series of fiscal reforms in the State of West Bengal to improve the quality of public service delivery.

ias-toppers-asian-development-bank

About the Program:

  • The Second West Bengal Development Finance Program targets a further increase in public investment through reduction of unproductive expenditure, and savings from efficiencies in revenue collections.
  • The Program will also carry forward reforms such as linking medium term expenditure plans to actual budgets, supported by strengthening internal audit system, and enhancements in the integrated financial management system (IFMS).
  • Other activities under the program include improved tax monitoring and continued support for information technology systems in strengthening tax and land administration.
  • The new Program will not only target public investment but would also support private investments more directly by creating an infrastructure facility to support project preparation, development, and appraisal, with emphasis on public-private partnerships in health and education.
  • It also seeks to simplify the registration and licensing procedure for micro, small and medium enterprises.

About ADB:

  • The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is a regional development bank established on 19 December 1966.
  • It is headquartered in the Ortigas Center located in Mandaluyong, Metro Manila, Philippines.
  • The bank admits the members of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP, formerly the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East or ECAFE) and non-regional developed countries.
  • ADB has been modelled closely on the World Bank.
  • ADB is an official United Nations Observer.

Functions of ADB:

  • Provides loans and equity investments to its Developing Member Countries (DMCs)
  • Provides technical assistance for the planning and execution of development projects and programs and for advisory services
  • Promotes and facilitates investment of public and private capital for development
  • Assists in coordinating development policies and plans of its DMCs
[Ref: The Hindu, ADB]

 

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

SC asks UP, Rajasthan, Haryana to ban use of petcoke to fight air pollution

The Supreme Court directed the governments of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan to ban the use of pet coke and furnace oil in the industries in a bid to reduce air pollution in Delhi and National Capital Region.

pet-coke-and-furnace-oil-iastoppers

  • The court was hearing a PIL filed in 1985 by environmentalist M.C. Mehta who had raised the issue of air pollution in the Delhi-NCR.

SC order:

  • The SC bench made it clear that it would ban the use of petcoke and furnace oil in the three states from 1 November if the respective governments did not prohibit their use in the industries by then.
  • It slapped a fine of Rs2 lakh on union environment ministry for not finalising pollution emission standards for industries using petcoke and furnace oil in the national capital region (NCR), asked the three states to ban the use of these pollution causing materials.

Key facts:

  • Pet coke and furnace oil has been already banned in Delhi since 1996 as they have been blamed for releasing deadly sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NO) fumes into air and polluting air.

Background:

  • SC order comes in response to recommendations of Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) which in its 72nd report had identified these two fuels as major source of pollution in NCR.
  • EPCA had found that Pet coke emissions are estimated at 72,000 ppm and that from furnace oil at 23,000 ppm.
  • Earlier, the court was told about the ill-effects of pet coke and furnace oil used in the industries on ambient air and it was said that emissions from such units were highly toxic as these discharged high sulphur content.
[Ref: Live Mint, Economic Times]

 

Fossil of Jurassic era’s ‘fish lizard’, a sea-dwelling reptile, found in Kutch

Indian scientists have discovered an almost fully preserved fossil of a Jurassic age sea-dwelling reptile known as the ‘fish lizard’ from a village in Gujarat’s Kutch district.

ichthyosaur-fossil-ias

Background:

  • It’s the second significant fossil discovery in India this year. Earlier, scientists had announced the discovery of the oldest plant fossil in India, a red algae from the Chitrakoot region in Madhya Pradesh, believed to be 1.6 billion years old.

About the discovery:

  • The fossil (5.5 m) was found inside rocks from the Mesozoic Era, which ran between 252 and 66 million years ago, in the Kutch desert.
  • Specimen can be identified with Ophthalmosauridae, a family of ichthyosaurs that lived in the oceans between 165 and 90 million years ago.
  • Examination of the teeth of the fossil suggests that it was a top-tier predator in its ecosystem.

Significance of this discovery:

  • Fully preserved fossils are rare and the Gujarat find gives experts a chance to study the remains in detail.
  • The discovery adds to the knowledge of ichthyosaur from the southern continents.
  • This also throws light on the evolution and diversity of ichthyosaurs in the Indo-Madagascan region of the former Gondwanaland and India’s biological connectivity with other continents in the Jurassic.
  • It also shows India’s biological connectivity with other continents in Jurassic.
  • It may also give information in marine connection between India and South America about 150 million years ago.

About Ichthyosaur

08_Ichthyosaurus-ias

  • Ichthyosaur is a combination of two Greek words meaning fish and lizard, a name the reptile gets because of its fish-like appearance.
  • Ichthyosaurs were large reptiles that lived at the same time as dinosaurs.
  • They were often misidentified as swimming dinosaurs and they first appeared in early Triassic period.
  • It was noted for its sharp, robust teeth.
  • It became extinct before dinosaurs, dying out in early part of late Cretaceous period.
  • While many ichthyosaur fossils have been found in North America and Europe, the fossil record in the Southern Hemisphere has mostly been limited to South America and Australia.
[Ref: The Hindu, Hindustan Times]

 

Bilateral & International Relations

Singapore has the most powerful passport

According to recently released Passport Index, Singapore now has the world’s most powerful passport with its citizens able to travel to the greatest number of countries visa free.

Singapore passport iastoppers

  • With this, for the first time ever, an Asian country has the most powerful passport in the world.

What does that mean?

  • That means the approximately 3.4 million holders of Singaporean passports can now travel to 159 countries either without a visa at all, or can have one issued on arrival.

About the index:

  • Passport Index ranks passports worldwide based on the cross-border access a holder has.
  • It was developed by Canada-based global consultancy Arton Capital.

Highlights of the study:

  • Germany came in second place, while Sweden and South Korea tied for third.
  • The U.S. passport was in sixth place, alongside Malaysia, Ireland and Canada.
  • Afghanistan came bottom of the list with visa-free access to just 22 countries.
  • India, which was listed 78th last year, has improved its ranking, figuring at 75th position with a visa-free score of 51.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Defence & Security Issues

Navy to implement new plan for warships in Indian Ocean region

The Indian Navy approved a new mission-based deployment plan that involves deploying mission-ready ships and aircraft along critical sea lanes of communications in the Indian Ocean region.

Navy new mission-based deployment plan iastoppers

  • The plan aims to effectively counter China’s growing presence in the strategically key waters.

About the new mission-based deployment plan:

  • Under the new plan, the Indian Navy has been deploying its warships in the Indian Ocean.
  • These ships are being deployed always ready to meet any eventuality across the spectrum of operations ranging from acts of maritime terrorism and piracy to Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief (HADR) missions.
  • These deployments are aimed at maintaining 24/7 and round the year (vigil) with ships being sustained and turned around on station.
  • The deployments are supposed to be maintained round-the-clock.
  • The areas where these ships and corvettes and surveillance aircraft are being deployed include the Malacca Strait, Andaman Sea, North Andaman Sea, including Bangladesh and Myanmar, Lakshadweep islands and the Maldives, besides Madagascar and the Persian Gulf.
  • These vessels are being used to monitor increased Chinese presence in these areas.

New transition cycle:

The change in the concept to mission-based deployment has necessitated a change in the methods used to sustain and support ships by the Navy.

  • Accordingly, the Indian Navy has approved a new transition cycle for ships from maintenance periods to operational deployments that allows for a focused and gradual transition of ships from periods of maintenance layoffs to full scale operations.
[Ref: Economic Times, Indian Express]

 

Science & Technology

New tool to improve Indian monsoon forecast developed

Scientists from US have developed a new tool for objectively defining the onset and demise of the Indian Summer Monsoon (ISM) —a colossal weather system that affects millions of people annually.

New-tool-to-improve-Indian-monsoon-forecast-iastoppers

Key facts:

  • They have developed a method that uses rainfall rates to mark the span of the Indian Summer Monsoon (ISM) at any given location throughout the affected region.
  • The new system, which ties the onset of the monsoon to location-specific rainfall thresholds, can work to allay that frustration.

Why we need a new method?

  • For generations, scientists have struggled to produce a model for reliably defining the duration of the monsoon.
  • Even, no existing system has allowed researchers to reliably define the parameters of the season at this fine a scale.
  • The lack of a clear, granular and objective benchmark for ISM onset and demise for all areas of the country has been a long-time source of consternation for people.
  • Many rhythms of Indian political and agricultural life can be destabilised by dubious or false claims of monsoon onset.
  • Current weather forecasting and monitoring protocols focus attention on monsoon onset at one location, specifically in Kerala, and extrapolate for rest of region.
  • Up until now, regional meteorological departments have relied on their own ad hoc criteria for determining ISM onset, which can often lead to contradicting claims.

Significance of the new method:

  • The new method will allow officials and researchers throughout the country to define the monsoon season using a standardised system that, through rigorous testing, has been shown to capture ISM evolution comprehensively.
[Ref: The Hindu, Economic Times]

 

Key Facts for Prelims

Singapore caps car numbers

Singapore caps car numbers iastoppers

  • Singapore, one of the most expensive places in the world to buy a vehicle, will freeze the number of private cars on its roads for at least two years, a rare move in Asia where many cities are increasingly gridlocked.
  • It applies to private cars and motorcycles, but not to goods vehicles and buses.

 

First Meeting of BIMSTEC Task Force on Traditional Medicine

iastoppers-BIMSTEC-Task-Force-on-Traditional-Medicine

  • The first Meeting of BIMSTEC Task Force on Traditional Medicine (BITFM) was held at New Delhi.
  • It was organized by the Ministry of AYUSH.
  • India being a major stake holder in the field of Traditional Medicine plays an important role in influencing the policies and strategies related to the Traditional Medicine in the BIMSTEC Forum.

 

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