Polity & Governance
- I&B Ministry frames New Print Media Advertisement policy
- NRDC Inks Technology Commercialization Agreement for Ayush-82
- NITI Aayog concerned over total FDI ban in tobacco
- UN plans to end AIDS threat by 2030
- 46 lakh lives lost on Indian roads last year- “Road Accidents in India 2015” report
- Safety body mooted to put the brakes on road accidents
- Rajan calls for global coordination to tackle spill-over economic effects
- DMIC states asked to mull options to 5 gas-fired plants
Environment & Ecology
- ‘Revered’ nilgai turns farmers’ enemy
- Ken-Betwa project, a threat to wildlife?
Defence & Security Issues
- Google Street View denied security nod
- Exercise Malabar – 2016
Polity & Governance
I&B Ministry frames New Print Media Advertisement policy
With a view to bring transparency and equity in release of Government advertisements in print media, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has framed a New Print Media Advertisement Policy for Directorate of Advertising & Visual Publicity (DAVP).
- The policy focuses on streamlining release of Government advertisements and to also promote equity and fairness among various categories of newspapers/periodicals.
Highlights of the policy:
New Marking System:
- This will be the first time that the Government has introduced a New Marking System for newspapers to incentivize Newspapers who have better professional standing and get their circulation verified by ABC/ RNI.
Advertisements of Educational Institutions:
- While the framework innervates all categories of Newspapers, the policy also incentivizes big category newspapers which are willing to publish the advertisements of Educational Institutions at DAVP rates by giving additional business of 50% in volume terms as compared to those which are not willing to accept.
Advertisements of PSUs and Autonomous bodies:
- The policy mentions that PSUs and Autonomous bodies may issue the advertisements directly at DAVP rates to newspapers empanelled with DAVP.
- However, they all have to follow the criterions laid down by DAVP for release of all classified and display advertisements in different categories of newspapers viz. small, medium & big, Bureaucracy Today has learnt.
Relaxation to some categories of newspapers:
- The policy also refers to relaxation in empanelment procedure to provide special encouragement for Regional language/Dialects small and medium newspapers, Mass circulated newspapers, newspapers in North Eastern states, Jammu & Kashmir and Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
- The policy also emphasizes that DAVP shall make efforts to release more social messages and related advertisements which are not date specific to periodicals.
Classification of the newspapers:
- The policy has classified Newspaper/Journals into three categories namely
- Small (<25,000 copies per publishing day),
- Medium (25,001-75,000 copies per publishing day) and
- Big (>75,000 copies per publishing day).
Rate structure for payment:
- The policy stipulates that the rate structure for payment against advertisements released by DAVP will be as per recommendations of the Rate Structure Committee.
Circulation Verification Procedure:
- The policy framework includes circulation verification Procedure for empanelment of Newspapers/Journals with DAVP.
Multi-Editions of a newspaper:
- The policy also stipulates the empanelment procedure for Multi-Editions of a newspaper.
- It states that, as per the PRB Act whenever copies of one edition of a newspaper are printed from more than one centre and if the content of newspaper is different they would be treated as different editions.
- Each edition of a newspaper is required to have a separate RNI registration number and RNI shall treat each edition as separate entity while verifying the circulation.
- Directorate of Advertising & Visual Publicity (DAVP) is the nodal agency of the Government of India for advertising on behalf of various Ministries/Departments/PSUs/Autonomous organizations which are funded by the Government.
NRDC Inks Technology Commercialization Agreement for Ayush-82
In order to promote and encourage an anti-diabetic drug Ayush-82, the National Research Development Corporation, an Enterprise of the Department of Scientific & Industrial Research, Ministry of Science & Technology, Govt. of India, New Delhi and M/s Chaturbhuj Pharmaceutical Co, Haridwar have entered into License Agreement today.
- National Research Development Corporation has so far licensed 13 Ayurvedic technologies developed by Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences (CCRAS) to more than 33 companies in India.
What is Diabetes mellitus?
- Diabetes mellitus is a group of metabolic diseases marked by high level of blood glucose resulting from defects in insulin production, insulin action or both.
- An anti-diabetic drug developed by Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences (CCRAS) is a combination of known and tested hypoglycemic drugs.
- Its clinical studies have been done extensively.
- Diabetes may lead to serious complications in multiple organ systems. The use of this cost effective drug would help millions of people suffering from Diabetes.
NITI Aayog concerned over total FDI ban in tobacco
The proposal of the department of industrial policy and promotion (DIPP) to completely ban foreign direct investment (FDI) in the tobacco sector has run into rough weather as NITI Aayog has raised certain issues on the plan.
- However, the proposal has got the support of the finance ministry.
- The DIPP is expected to soon hold discussions with the department of commerce and NITI Aayog on the issue.
- At present, FDI is permitted in technology collaboration in any form, including licensing for franchise, trademark, brand name and management contract in the tobacco sector.
- However, it is prohibited in manufacturing of cigars, cigarettes of tobacco and tobacco substitutes.
- It is also mandatory for all tobacco products to carry larger pictorial warnings covering 85 per cent of the packaging space.
- The DIPP has proposed to even ban FDI in licensing for franchise, trademark, brand name and management contract in the sector.
- It would eventually mean that FDI would be totally banned in the tobacco segment in any form.
Implications of the total ban:
- According to a source, the ban would eliminate the possibility of indirect flow of overseas funds to the tobacco sector, even through foreign technology collaboration including licensing for franchise, trademark and brand name.
Significance of the move:
- The move also assumes significance as India is signatory to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, under which it has the responsibility of reducing consumption of tobacco products.
- Apart from NITI Aayog, major cigarette manufactures including Godfrey Philips have raised serious concerns over this move.
UN plans to end AIDS threat by 2030
At a recently held high-level meeting on HIV/AIDS at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), India reiterated his commitment to fast track progress on ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030.
- At the meeting, member states adopted a new political declaration, including time-bound global targets to be reached over the next five years and end the epidemic as a public health threat by 2030.
- The world has achieved Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 6 — which was to halt and reverse the AIDS epidemic by 2015.
India’s five-point strategy:
At the meeting, India has proposed a five-point strategy to end AIDS. The five-point strategy includes:
- Adoption of the fast track target — reaching 90% of all people in need with HIV treatment
- Increase investments
- Ensure access to affordable medicines and commodity security; committed to maintain the TRIPS flexibilities
- Creating an inclusive society that values every human life
- Global solidarity
India- leading partner in the global fight against AIDS:
- India is proud of being one of the leading partners in the global fight against AIDS epidemic. These remarkable successes would not have been possible without access to affordable medicines.
- The low cost generic medicines produced by the Indian pharmaceutical industry have been instrumental in scaling up access to HIV treatment not only in India but in other parts of the world.
- More than 80% of the antiretroviral drugs used globally are supplied by the Indian pharmaceutical industry.
1.46 lakh lives lost on Indian roads last year- “Road Accidents in India 2015” report
An official report, released by Union Road Transport and Highways Ministry, said 1.46 lakh people were killed in road accidents in India in 2015 — an increase of 5 % from 2014.
- A majority (54.1 per cent) of those killed in 2015 were in the age group of 15-34.
- Thirteen States, including Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Uttar Pradesh, accounted for the highest number of accidents.
- Among cities, while Mumbai had the highest number of accidents (23,468), Delhi saw the most number of such deaths (1,622).
- According to the report, drivers’ fault was responsible for 77.1 % of the accidents, deaths and injuries, mainly because of overspeeding.
Safety body mooted to put the brakes on road accidents
Alarmed by the rising road accidents, the Road Transport and Highways Ministry has sent a Cabinet note for setting up a National Road Safety and Traffic Management Board to advise the government on road safety standards and guidelines.
- The Road Transport Ministry never had an advisory body of experts to lay down standards and oversee activities related to road safety.
- The body is likely to be chaired by a former Road Transport Secretary.
- The Centre has decided to form the proposed board through an executive order after it failed to push the Road Safety Bill owing to the logjam in Parliament.
- The proposed body will have a permanent office and five or six members with expertise in road engineering, road safety, automobile manufacturing, traffic and trauma care.
A member of the S. Sundar Committee on road safety and traffic management, which in 2007 mooted the idea of setting up a Road Safety Board has raised a concern that setting up a road safety body through an executive order makes it toothless.[Ref: Hindu]
Rajan calls for global coordination to tackle spill-over economic effects
RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan has urged greater co-ordination among countries to tackle spill-over effects.
What is spill-over effects?
- In economically globalized world, each country is dependent on the other economy in some of the way, in such situations a slight change in the economy or state of one country may lead to change into the economy of other countries.
- The spill-over effect came in limelight during Euro crisis after the subprime crises.
- The former IMF chief economist has been critical of ‘ultra-low’ monetary policies adopted among some countries in the developed world.
- Their decisions to keep interest rates low to support growth and re-inflate their economies have impacted emerging market economies.
- He cited the example of Brexit, which is the possibility that Britain will withdraw from the European Union. The country will hold an in-out referendum on its EU membership on June 23.
DMIC states asked to mull options to 5 gas-fired plants
The Centre has asked three states along the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) to consider using land allotted for five gas-based power plants to set up “industrial areas” or renewable energy projects following the non-availability of gas.
- The gas-fired projects, each with capacity of 1,000-1,200 MW, were to come up in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat as part of the corridor.
- The structuring and implementation of these projects is pending since long due to the lack of availability of domestic gas. Hence, the project(s) seem(s) to have become non-viable.”
- The Centre and the DMIC Development Corporation (DMICDC) — the nodal agency for implementation of the DMIC — have therefore suggested that the three states and the government-owned NTPC (working on some of these projects) explore alternate uses for the land after obtaining the necessary approvals.
- Gas-based generating projects in the country were facing a deficit in the availability of domestic gas and most of the gas-based power plants were operating at a very low Plant Load Factor.
- Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) is a mega infra-structure project of USD 90 billion with the financial & technical aids from Japan, covering an overall length of 1483 KMs between the political capital and the business capital of India, i.e. Delhi and Mumbai.
- The project aims to develop an environmentally sustainable, long lasting and technological advanced infrastructure utilizing cutting age Japanese technologies and to create world class manufacturing and investment destinations in this region.
- The corridor would pass through the six States – U.P, NCR of Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra.
- It’s end terminals would be at Dadri in the National Capital Region of Delhi and Jawaharlal Nehru Port near Mumbai.
- Distribution of length of the corridor indicates that Rajasthan (39) and Gujarat (38%) together constitute 77% of the total length of the alignment of freight corridor.
Environment & Ecology
‘Revered’ nilgai turns farmers’ enemy
In past three days, about 200 nilgai have been shot dead in Bihar’s Mokama district. The request of eliminating nilgai was cleared by Ministry of Environment and Forest in December last year.
- The crop-raiding species is found on acres of agricultural fields in riverine areas of the Ganga and Gandak basins.
- The step has been taken after farmers of almost 12 districts, including Buxar, Bhagalpur and Sasaram, demanded action to ‘neutralize’ the nilgai in the area that were rampaging the fields.
- The nilgai is a species of antelope and has been declared ‘vermin’ in 2015 by Bihar’s Board of Wildlife.
- Union ministry of environment, forest and climate change (MoEFCC), in June 2015, asked states to send proposals to declare wild animals verminfor specified period in a given area.
What is vermin?
- Vermin are pests or nuisance animals, especially those that threaten human society by spreading diseases or destroying crops and livestock.
Provisions in the law:
- If any wild animal poses a danger to human life or property (including standing crops on any land), or is so disabled or diseased as to be beyond recovery, the law allows for it to be hunted.
- Using these provisions, any animal listed in Schedule I-IV can be put in Schedule V for a specific period, declaring it as vermin, allowing its killing.
- Schedule V include animals like the common crow, fruit bats, mice and rats.
- The nilgai or blue bull is the largest Asian antelope and is endemic to the Indian subcontinent.
- Typically, tame, the nilgai may appear timid and cautious if harassed or alarmed.
- Herbivores, nilgai prefer grasses and herbs, though woody plants are commonly eaten in the dry tropical forests of India.
- Major populations occur in the Terai lowlands in the foothills of the Himalayas (northern India), but the antelope is sparsely found in Nepal and Pakistan and is extinct in Bangladesh.
- The nilgai is categorised as Least Concern by the IUCN.
- The nilgai has been associated with Indian culture since the Vedic period (1500–500 BCE). Hindus revere the nilgai as sacred and associate it with the cow, the mother animal in Hinduism, through its name and loosely similar physical features.
Ken-Betwa project, a threat to wildlife?
Environmentalists have raised concerns over the Ken-Betwa River linking project.
- According to the environmentalists, this ambitious project to link Ken and Betwa rivers has become a stage for a unique man-animal conflict.
- They warn that such a dam will submerge at least 4,000 hectares of Madhya Pradesh’s Panna tiger reserve, whose tigers were almost lost to poaching in 2009 and have only recently been partially replenished.
- They allege that most districts in Madhya Pradesh will not actually get the promised water.
- There are vultures in the region, whose nests will be threatened by the height of the dam.
Views of the proponents of the project:
- Proponents of the project, led by the Union Water Ministry, say that the proposed Daudhan dam and the 2.5 km canal — the key structures of the project — that will transfer surplus water from the Uttar Pradesh section of the Ken to the Betwa in Madhya Pradesh are critical to irrigate nearly 7,00,000 hectares in drought-ravaged Bundelkhand.
- Since the project involves clearing forest land, affects endangered animals and involves relocating some farmers, it requires multi-pronged environmental clearance by the Ministry of Environment Forests and Climate Change.
- The National Board for Wildlife has constituted a committee of experts, which includes ecologists, hydrologists, representatives from the Water Ministry, and tiger conservationists to study the impact on wildlife.
- Their go-ahead is essential for the environmental impact assessment and forest clearance by the Madhya Pradesh government.
- These authorities have given an ‘in-principle’ clearance but funds for the project — Rs. 9,000 crore — won’t be cleared by the Union Cabinet unless all the clearances are in order.
About river Ken:
- The Ken is the last tributary of the Yamuna before it joins the Ganga — 87% of it lies in Madhya Pradesh and 12% in Uttar Pradesh.
About river Betwa:
- The Betwa is an interstate river that rises in Raisen district of Madhya Pradesh — 68% of it lies in that state before it flows towards Jhansi district in Uttar Pradesh. This too is a tributary of the Yamuna.
About the proposed river linking project:
- Under the proposed river linking project, the Betwa river in Uttar Pradesh, which flows into the Yamuna, will receive surplus water from the river Ken that originates in Uttar Pradesh and then runs south across Madhya Pradesh.
- The Davdhan dam is to be built on the Ken near its source.
- The project envisages construction of a dam across river Ken in Madhya Pradesh for various purposes like irrigation, hydropower generation and supply of drinking water.
- The reason why the Ken-Betwa link was the first to get off the ground is that it is the shortest.
Defence & Security Issues
Google Street View denied security nod
India has declined to give security clearance to the Google’s Street View service.
- The rejection came after a detailed analysis by security agencies and defence forces which feel that allowing Google to cover India would compromise country’s security interest.
What is Street View service?
The Street View service allows users to have a panoramic view of places in cities, as they would look in real life.
- Under Street View service, Google’s plans to put Indian cities, tourists spots, hills and rivers in an application in which one can explore through 360-degree, panoramic and street level imagery.
- The Internet giant uses cars and bikes fitted with cameras to collect 360-degree images of a place.
- It was launched in 2007 in several cities in the US and has since expanded to include cities and rural areas worldwide.
- Streets with Street View imagery available are shown as blue lines on Google Maps.
- Street View service was initially permitted for a few locations in India.
- Google had an experimental basis launched Street View in some of the tourist sites like Taj Mahal, Red Fort, Qutub Minar, Varanasi river bank, Nalanda University, Mysore Palace, Thanjavur temple, Chinnaswamy stadium besides others in partnership with the Archaeological Society of India.
Exercise Malabar – 2016
In consonance with India’s ‘Act East Policy’ and growing relations among India, US and Japan, Indian Navy ships Satpura, Sahyadri, Shakti and Kirch are participating in the 20th edition of Ex MALABAR-16 with the US Navy (USN) and Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF).
- The primary aim of this exercise is to increase interoperability amongst the three navies and develop common understanding of procedures for Maritime Security Operations.
- The exercise will support maritime security in the Indo-Pacific region, and benefit the global maritime community.
- Indian Navy and USN have regularly conducted the annual bilateral exercise named ‘MALABAR’ since 1992.
- Since 2007, MALABAR has been held alternatively off India and in the Western Pacific.
- The 19th edition of the exercise, Ex MALABAR-15, was conducted off Chennai and included participation by the JMSDF.