- India Post Payments Bank will push financial inclusion: Sinha
- Richard Thaler wins 2017 Nobel Prize in economics
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- ‘BIMSTEC Disaster Management Exercise- 2017’ (BIMSTEC DMEx-2017)
- Projects worth Rs 700 crore sanctioned for Namami Gange programme
- SC bans sale of crackers in Delhi
Bilateral & International Relations
- Trump’s immigration plan may help Indians
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India Post Payments Bank will push financial inclusion: Sinha
Communications Minister Manoj Sinha on Monday said the government is working on establishing 650 branches for India Post Payments Bank to facilitate financial inclusion.
- To commemorate the National Postal Week (October 9-15), Government has announced two new offerings — International Tracked Packet Service and e-IPO (Indian Postal Order).
- Besides, revamped website of the India Post was launched which is made more user-friendly and informative to meet the need of customers in a better way.
e-IPO (Indian Postal Order)
- The Minister also launched e-IPO in the denominations of Rs. 10/-, Rs. 20/-, Rs. 50/- & Rs. 100 as a pilot project in Bihar, Delhi and Karnataka and in the next two months, the service will cover the entire country.
- e-IPO will be used for all purposes like fee payment for RTI/ educational institutions/ Court/ online registration for Cable Operators etc.
- Customer can purchase e-IPO online from one’s home or workplace, as per one’s convenience.
- This launch is a part of Digital India Initiative as the payment will be made through Debit Card/Credit Card/Net Banking.
International Tracked Packet Service
- International Tracked Packet Service is designed specially to meet the cross border requirements of e-Commerce sector in Asia-Pacific Region.
- At the beginning, the service will be available to 12 countries and gradually the whole world will be covered.
- This new service has many special features like affordable price, track & trace, volume discounts, pick up facility, compensation for loss or damage and, therefore, high value for money.
- During the function, commemorative stationery in the Post Card, Inland Letter and Envelope Category, each featuring five postal heritage buildings viz. Patna G.P.O, Delhi G.P.O, Mumbai G.P.O, Shimla G.P.O & Kolkata G.P.O. was also issued.
- For the first time, the stationery has been issued in multi-colour format.
About the India Post Payments Bank (IPPB)
- The India Post Payments Bank (IPPB) has been recently incorporated as a public sector company under the Department of Posts with 100% GOI equity.
- IPPB is offering Savings account up to a balance of Rs 1 Lakh, along with digitally enabled payments and remittance services of all kinds between individuals.
- In due course, IPPB will also provide current accounts and access to third party financial services like insurance, mutual funds, pension, credit products, forex, and more.
- IPPB will be headquartered in New Delhi and plans to launch 650 branches across the country by the next year.
- These 650 branches will be linked to rural post offices. [India has 154,000 post offices, of which 139,000 are rural post offices]
- The total corpus of the payments bank is of Rs 800 crore, which will have Rs 400-crore equity and Rs 400-crore grant.
- Its services will be available across the country through these 650 payments bank branches, linked post offices and alternative channels, riding on modern technology including mobiles, ATMs and simple digital payments.
- The payments bank, which will be run by a Chief Executive Officer, would be professionally managed and there would be a representation from various other government departments including the Department of Posts, Department of Expenditure, etc.
At present, the core banking network of post offices is more than that of the country’s largest lender State Bank of India (SBI).
The Universal Postal Union (UPU)
- UPU, established by the Treaty of Bern of 1874, is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) that coordinates postal policies among member nations, in addition to the worldwide postal system.
- The UPU contains four bodies consisting of the Congress, the Council of Administration (CA), the Postal Operations Council (POC) and the International Bureau (IB).
- It also oversees the Telematics and Express Mail Service (EMS) cooperatives.
- Each member agrees to the same terms for conducting international postal duties.
- The UPU’s headquarters are located in Bern, Switzerland.
World Post Day
- October 9th was first declared World Post Day at the 1969 UPU Congress in Tokyo, Japan.
- The purpose of World Post Day is to create awareness of the role of the postal sector in people’s and businesses’ everyday lives and its contribution to the social and economic development of countries.
National Postal Week
- India Post celebrates the National Postal Week every October from 9th to 15th October, starting with World Post Day which is celebrated each year on 9th October, the anniversary of the establishment of the Universal Postal Union (UPU) in 1874 in Berne.
- Department of Posts celebrates National Postal Week undertaking programme/ activities aimed at generating a broader awareness of its role and activities among the public and media on a national scale.
Richard Thaler wins 2017 Nobel Prize in economics
The 2017 Nobel Prize in economics was awarded to Richard H. Thaler ”for his contributions to behavioural economics.”
- His research was on how human traits systematically affect individual decisions as well as market outcomes.
What is behavioural economics?
- Behavioural economics incorporates the study of psychology into the analysis of the decision-making behind an economic outcome, such as the factors leading up to a consumer buying one product instead of another.
- It looks at the impacts of social, psychological and emotional factors in making decisions about money that aren’t in a person’s best interest.
- Unlike the field of classical economics, in which decision-making is entirely based on cold-headed logic, behavioural economics allows for irrational behaviour and attempts to understand why this may be the case.
- The concept can be applied in miniature to individual situations, or more broadly to encompass the wider actions of a society or trends in financial markets.
Example of behavioural economics
- Brexit is one example of how behavioural economics can be useful.
Where can the behavioural economics be used?
- The theory is particularly useful for companies and marketers looking to increase sales by encouraging changes in behaviour by consumers.
- It can also be used for the purposes of setting public policy.
About Dr. Richard H. Thaler
- Thaler is a Professor of Behavioral Science and Economics at University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
- He is the co-author (with Cass R. Sunstein) of the ‘Nudge’ (2008) in which the concepts of behavioral economics are used to tackle many of society’s major problems.
- Tahler works emphasise that economic agents are human and economic models have to incorporate that.
Contributions of Dr. Richard H. Thaler:
- Thaler has incorporated psychologically realistic assumptions into analyses of economic decision-making.
- By exploring the consequences of limited rationality, social preferences, and lack of self-control, he has shown how these human traits systematically affect individual decisions as well as market outcomes.
- His empirical findings and theoretical insights have been instrumental in creating the new and rapidly expanding field of behavioural economics, which has had a profound impact on many areas of economic research and policy.
- The winner will be awarded with 9-million-kronor ($1.1-million) prize.
- In 2016 Oliver Hart and Bengt Holmström shared the prize for their contributions to contract theory.
- Indian economist Amartya Sen won the Nobel in 1998 for his contributions to welfare economics.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
‘BIMSTEC Disaster Management Exercise- 2017’ (BIMSTEC DMEx-2017)
The Union Home Minister Shri Rajnath Singh inaugurated the First ‘BIMSTEC Disaster Management Exercise- 2017’ (BIMSTEC DMEx-2017) in New Delhi, India.
- The Exercise will be conducted by the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) as the lead agency.
- 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.
Purpose of BIMSTEC DMEx-2017:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 main exercise will comprise of Table Top Exercise (TTX), Field Training Exercise (FTX) and After Action Review (AAR).
- 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.
- It came into being in 1997 through the Bangkok Declaration.
- It constitutes seven Member States: Five deriving from South Asia: [Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka] and Two from Southeast Asia: [Myanmar and Thailand].
- The main objective of BIMSTEC is technological and economic cooperation among South Asian and South East Asian countries along the coast of the Bay of Bengal.
- The headquarters of BIMSTEC is in Dhaka.
- Unlike many other regional groupings, BIMSTEC is a sector-driven cooperative organization. Starting with six sectors—including trade, technology, energy, transport, tourism and fisheries—for sectoral cooperation in the late 1997, it expanded to embrace nine more sectors—including agriculture, public health, poverty alleviation, counter-terrorism, environment, culture, people to people contact and climate change—in 2008.
Projects worth Rs 700 crore sanctioned for Namami Gange programme
The National Mission for Clean Ganga has approved eight projects worth over Rs 700 crore in the northern belt of the country to take forward the ambitious Namami Gange programme.
Details of Projects
- Out of eight projects, 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.
About National Mission for Clean Ganga:
National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) was registered as a society on 12th August 2011 under the Societies Registration Act 1860.
- It acted as implementation arm of National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) which was constituted under the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act (EPA), 1986. NGRBA has since been dissolved with effect from the 7th October 2016, consequent to constitution of National Council for Rejuvenation, Protection and Management of River Ganga (referred as National Ganga Council).
- It now works under the control of Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation.
- Its aim is to clean Ganga and its tributaries in a comprehensive manner.
- NMCG has a two tier management structure and comprises of Governing Council and Executive Committee. Both of them are headed by Director General, NMCG. Executive Committee has been authorized to accord approval for all projects up to Rs.1000 crore.
- Similar to structure at national level, State Programme Management Groups (SPMGs) acts as implementing arm of State Ganga Committees.
- The Director General (DG) of NMCG is a Additional Secretary in Government of India.
- For effective implementation of the projects under the overall supervision of NMCG, the State Level Program Management Groups (SPMGs) are, also headed by senior officers of the concerned States.
SC bans sale of crackers in Delhi
In a bid to test whether a Deepavali without firecrackers this year will have a “positive effect” on the health of citizens and a steadily deteriorating air quality, the Supreme Court has suspended the sale of firecrackers in Delhi and NCR till November 1, 2017.
Is there any connection of firecrackers with pollution in Delhi?
- There are evidences of deterioration of air quality at alarming levels in Delhi.
- Burning of these firecrackers during Deepavali in 2016 had shot up particulate matter (PM) levels by three times, making Delhi the worst city in the world, insofar as air pollution is concerned.
- Direct and immediate cause thereof was burning of crackers during Deepavali.
Arguments against the SC order:
Few experts see court’s decision to re-impose a ban on the sale of firecrackers in Delhi and surrounding towns till November 1 as extreme, unjustified and, perhaps, inadequately thought move.
- To begin with, the ban is on the sale of firecrackers, not their use. So those who already have firecrackers, or, presumably, are able to obtain them from outside Delhi would be free to let them off.
- Equally importantly, the Supreme Court decision only applies to Delhi and nearby towns. The rest of India is exempt. For now Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad are not of equal concern.
- Also, has the court considered what this will do to the firecracker industry and, more importantly, to the livelihood of thousands of shopkeepers and traders, many of whom are small roadside vendors or corner shops? It could very well bankrupt and impoverish them.
- This raises the moral question: Is the court right to experiment with Diwali? Firecrackers do create an environmental and health hazard. For those with asthma and other breathing problems, this can be very serious. Therefore, the case for controlling and restricting is undeniable. But the Supreme Court has gone further and attempted a ban.
- The problem of firecrackers in Delhi has been around for decades. That’s ample time for the Court to have devised a more thoughtful response than a last minute arbitrary ban.
What can be done?
- It could have imposed a stricter timeframe, reducing the 10 pm limit to 9 or even 8 pm.
- It could have asked the government to stage firework displays in a handful of strategic locations, broadcast by TV channels, so people can do without their own. London does this on New Year’s Eve.
- Finally, it could have asked the government to pay for those who suffer from firecracker displays to leave the city for 48 hours and add the cost as an additional tax on firecrackers.
- However, a total ban on firecrackers’ sale in Delhi NCR is too “radical a step” and a graded, gradual approach to a complete ban should be adopted — would be effective from November 1.
Bilateral & International Relations
Trump’s immigration plan may help Indians
U.S. President Donald Trump has proposed a merit-based immigration system that could benefit highly-skilled Indian workers (especially those from the IT sector) but prevents them from sponsoring their extended families.
- However, the new policies would badly impact those thousands of Indian-Americans who want to bring in their family members to the U.S. particularly their aged parents.
Need for new immigration policy
- Decades of low-skilled immigration has suppressed wages, fuelled unemployment and strained federal resources.
- The US administration proposes to establish a merit-based immigration system that protects US workers and taxpayers, and ending chain migration, to promote financial success and assimilation for newcomers.
- Without these reforms, the Trump Administration believes that illegal immigration and chain migration, which severely and unfairly burden American taxpayers, will continue without end.
- Arguing for a merit-based immigration system, Trump told the Congress that the current immigration system does not serve the national interest as it prioritises extended family-based chain migration over skills-based immigration.
New Point-Based System
- Trump proposed ending extended-family chain migration by limiting family-based green cards to spouses and minor children and replace it with a merit-based system that prioritises skills and economic contributions over family connections.
- Establishing a new point-based system for awarding the green cards (lawful permanent residents) based on factors that allow individuals to successfully assimilate and support themselves financially; eliminate the diversity visa lottery and limit the number of refugees to prevent the abuse of the US Refugee Admissions Programme.
- Trump also proposed to increase the number of officials involved in enforcement, hiring an additional 10,000 Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officers and 1,000 attorneys, 370 immigration judges and 300 federal prosecutors.
“Dreamers” to be shelved out
- Trump had earlier announced plans to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programme that had provided two-year work permits to the dreamers (who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children) that Trump called “unconstitutional”.
- The Trump administration’s wish list also includes the funding of a controversial border wall along the US-Mexico border and a crackdown on unaccompanied minors entering the country.