Polity & Governance
- NCRB celebrates its 33rd Inception Day
- IREDA & European Investment Bank sign Euro 150 million Loan Agreement for Renewable Energy Financing in India
- PNB fraud: RBI starts special audit of public sector banks
Bilateral & International Relations
- India, France sign military logistics support deal
- CP Trans-Pacific Partnership: 11 countries sign revised TPP trade pact without US
- The first ever Indo-French Knowledge Summit held in New Delhi
Defence & Security Issues
- India’s first coastal policing academy
Key Facts for Prelims
- ISA-ADB, NDB, GCF, AfDB and AIIB joint declarations of Financial partnership
- Samvedna 2018
- India wins award at ITB – Berlin
- National Legislators Conference
- Kinzhal missile System
- Sultan Azlan Shah Cup
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Polity & Governance
NCRB celebrates its 33rd Inception Day
National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) celebrated its 33rd Inception Day, on March 11, 2018.
- On this occasion, NCRB released “Citizen Services” Mobile APP.
About the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB):
- National Crime Records Bureau is an attached office of Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India.
- It was established in 1986 with a mandate to empower Indian Police with information technology solutions and criminal intelligence to enable them to enforce the law effectively.
- It was set up based on the recommendations of the National Police Commission (1977-1981) and the MHA’s Task force (1985).
- It was set up by merging the Directorate of Coordination and Police Computer (DCPC), Inter State Criminals Data Branch of CBI, Central Finger Print Bureau of CBI, and Statistical Branch of BPR&D.
- It is responsible for collecting and analysing crime data as defined by the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
- It facilitates Investigating Officers with updated IT tools and information in Investigation of Crimes.
- The MHA has entrusted NCRB with a renewed mandate for the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS) Project.
- NCRB has won Digital India Award 2016 for digitizing and uploading ‘Crime in India’ on Opensource Govt. Portal since 1967.
- NCRB has been training Indian and Foreign Police Officers from more than 20 countries since 1990 and till date more than 40,000 Police Officers have been trained.
- NCRB publishes 4 annual publications on Crime, Accidental Deaths & Suicides, Prison Statistics and Finger Prints. These publications serve as principal reference points on crime statistics not only police officers but also for criminologists, researchers, media and policy makers not only in India but abroad well.
- Various applications developed by NCRB include Crime & Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS), Finger Prints Science, ‘Vahan Samanvay’, ‘TALASH’, Mobile Apps Citizen Complaint, View FIR, Locater, Automated License Plate Reader and NCRB Publications of ‘Crime in India’, ‘Accidental Deaths & Suicides in India’ and ‘Prison Statistics India’.
IREDA & European Investment Bank sign Euro 150 million Loan Agreement for Renewable Energy Financing in India
Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) and European Investment Bank (EIB) have signed loan agreement for second line of credit (LoC) of Euro 150 million on non-sovereign basis for renewable energy financing in India.
- The line of credit is for tenure of 15 years including a grace period of 3 years, and it will be used for financing Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency projects in India.
- More than 1.1 million households are expected to benefit from clean energy produced with these funds.
Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency Ltd:
Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency Limited (IREDA) is a Mini Ratna (Category – I) Government of India Enterprise under the administrative control of Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE).
- IREDA is a Public Limited Government Company established as a Non-Banking Financial Institution in 1987.
- It is engaged in promoting, developing and extending financial assistance for setting up projects relating to new and renewable sources of energy and energy efficiency/conservation with the motto: “ENERGY FOR EVER”.
- To meet financing requirement, it has been raising resources from various bilateral and multilateral agencies, Masala bonds and domestic – taxable and tax-free bonds.
Main objectives of IREDA:
- To give financial support to specific projects and schemes for generating electricity and / or energy through new and renewable sources and conserving energy through energy efficiency.
- To maintain its position as a leading organization to provide efficient and effective financing in renewable energy and energy efficiency / conservation projects.
- To increase IREDA`s share in the renewable energy sector by way of innovative financing.
- Improvement in the efficiency of services provided to customers through continual improvement of systems, processes and resources.
- To strive to be competitive institution through customer satisfaction.
About the European Investment Bank (EIB):
- The EIB is the European Union’s non-profit long-term lending institution.
- Established in 1958, the EIB is a publicly owned international financial institution and its shareholders are the EU member states. Thus, the member states set the bank’s broad policy goals and oversee the two independent decision-making bodies—the board of governors and the board of directors.
- It is the world’s largest international public lending institution.
- The EIB is the majority shareholder of the European Investment Fund (EIF), which provides funding to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) through venture capital and risk finance instruments.
- It is also engaged in multilateral financing and works closely with other EU institutions to implement EU policy.
- More than 90% of its activity is in Europe but it is also big investor globally.
- EIB’s activities focus on four priority areas including innovation and skills, access to finance for infrastructure, smaller businesses and climate & environment.
- The EIB has previously provided €450 million for construction of the new Lucknow Metro.
PNB fraud: RBI starts special audit of public sector banks
Rattled by a spate of banking frauds, RBI has initiated special audit of State-owned lenders with focus on trade financing activities, especially relating to issuance of letters of undertaking (LoUs) by them.
- In addition, the RBI has asked all banks for details of the LoUs they had issued, including the amounts outstanding, and whether the banks had pre-approved credit limits or kept enough cash on margin before issuing the guarantees.
What is Letters of undertaking (LoU)?
- Technically, Letter of Undertaking is a bank guarantee under which a bank allows its customer to raise money from another Indian bank’s foreign branch in the form of short-term credit.
- The loan is used to make payment to the customer’s offshore suppliers in foreign currency.
- The overseas bank usually lends to the importer based on the LoU issued by the importer’s bank.
Who gets an LoU?
- LoUs are used by a bank’s customer to avail short-term credit in a foreign country. These transactions are not retail in nature and are mostly used by businesses for import of goods.
- The borrower uses her existing credit relationship with a bank in India to avail the required credit outside the country.
How does it work?
- Let’s say you are a customer of an Indian bank and you require a short-term credit in a foreign country to import something. You can approach the foreign exchange department of your bank and ask for an LoU. In return, the bank would ask you for a collateral or a guarantee, which could be in the form of fixed deposits or other assets. This could even be 100% or even more of the credit sought, depending on your relationship with the bank. If your bank is convinced, it will issue an LoU, which when given to an overseas branch of another Indian bank would result in release of the amount in foreign currency. This amount does not come in to your account directly; it goes to a specific bank account of your banker back home. It is called Nostro account. You can then decide in whose favour the payment needs to be done.
Benefits of LoUs:
- LoUs are important instruments that allow those in the import trade to transact their business. As an importer in India cannot simply buy dollars and send it abroad to make payments to his supplier, various instruments such as LoUs and Letters of Credit are required to carry out the transaction.
- LoUs, which are essentially a form of guarantee, have come to be a far cheaper and convenient way for importer to raise credit.
- The overseas bank lending to the borrower based on the LoU earns interest on the amount, the bank issuing the LoU gets a fee and the borrower gets a credit facility at a place where she may not have banking relationships.
- Moreover, interest rates in India are higher compared to international benchmark rates. So the effective outgo on interest for the borrower is also beneficial.
- If the collateral is in the form of a fixed deposit, there is further gain on the interest earned, while the bank also gets some funds to use.
Bilateral & International Relations
India, France sign military logistics support deal
A reciprocal logistics support deal has been signed between the respective armed forces of India and France.
About the deal:
- The deal will facilitate the French and Indian armed forces to receive logistical support, supplies and services from each other during authorised port visits, joint exercises, joint training, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts.
- The deal, which is similar to the logistical support pact with the US, is an indicator of the strategic depth and maturity in defence ties between the two countries.
CP Trans-Pacific Partnership: 11 countries sign revised TPP trade pact without US
Recently, 11 Pacific Rim countries have formally entered into Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership or CP TPP or TPP11 in Santiago, Chile.
What is CPTPP?
CPTPP is revised version of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) proposed by US, that was finalized after US withdrew from it.
- The CPTPP, also dubbed the TPP-11, was negotiated by Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
- The combined population of these countries exceeds 500 million people and together their economies account for 13% of global gross domestic product (GDP). With US, it would have represented 40%.
- It will be world’s third largest trade bloc after European Union (EU) and North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
- It will come into effect 60 days after six of the 11 member countries ratify the agreement domestically.
- It eliminates some requirements of original TPP demanded by US, including rules to ramp up intellectual property protection of pharmaceuticals.
How is it different from TPP?
- With the exclusion of the US, the CPTPP is putting on hold 20 provisions even as it incorporates the original TPP text by reference.
- Out of which, 11 of the suspended clauses are related to intellectual property (IP) originally inserted at the demand of US negotiators.
- The other nine involve areas like investment, financial services, copyright, telecommunication and government procurement.
CPTPP Vs. RCEP
- The 16-nation Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) covers nearly 3.5 billion people and account for a third of the world’s gross domestic product.
- The RCEP was conceived in 2012. If approved, the free trade agreement will be the largest trade bloc in terms of population. The RCEP countries make up 46% of the global population and are worth 24% of global GDP.
- RCEP seeks to bring into its fold China, Japan, India, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand and Asean countries. Seven of them are also CPTPP members, namely Australia, Brunei, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, New Zealand and Vietnam.
- The TTP agreement was originally conceived as counterbalance to China’s increasing economic influence in the region. But after US withdrawal, remaining 11 countries had decided to forge ahead regardless and finalized the agreement in January 2018.
The first ever Indo-French Knowledge Summit held in New Delhi
The first Indo-French Knowledge Summit for university, scientific and technology cooperation was successfully held in New Delhi.
- The two-day summit was organized by the French Embassy in India and co-hosted by Ministry of Human Resource Development.
- The Knowledge Summit is the First Franco-Indian Summit for university, scientific and technology cooperation.
Objective of the summit:
- The summit’s broader objective was to design roadmap of Franco-India cooperation for next five years, in collaboration with companies.
- It offered common platform for common goal to increase student mobility, enlarge R&D collaborations and link campuses to companies by focusing on employability.
- More than 350 people from nearly 80 Indian Institutions and 70 French Institutions along with key enterprises participated in summit.
- It also had received support of Ministry of Science and Technology, Campus France and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).
Outcomes of the summit:
- The summit ended with landmark agreement on mutual recognition of educational qualifications between two countries and record 15 other MoUs between universities and research institutions on joint initiatives and partnerships.
Franco-Indian Education Trust:
- A Franco-Indian Education Trust was also unveiled at the closing session of the summit. It will be funded by the Indian industry and French Companies in India to offer educational scholarships and merit based financial support to Indian students.
Defence & Security Issues
India’s first coastal policing academy
India’s first national coastal policing academy, National Academy of Coastal Policing (NACP) to train police forces in effectively safeguarding country’s shoreline will start functioning from April 2018.
- It will be launched from campus of Gujarat’s Fisheries Research Centre located in coastal Okha town in Devbhumi Dwarka district of Gujarat.
Key facts about the academy:
- The first-of-its-kind national coastal policing academy will be created and run by multi-agency team of paramilitary and defence forces to sharpen response and skills of marine forces of multiple states which have sea lines.
What will this academy do?
- It will train police personnel and other security agencies staff in maritime laws, seamanship, boat work, navigation, weapons handling, usage of sea guidance and surveillance gadgets and survival skills for long haul operations on sea or during distress times when they may get stranded in these territorial waters running up to 12 nautical miles from shore.
- The Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD) will pilot establishment and running of academy.
- The Border Security Force (BSF), Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard (ICG) will form core to run academy. The BSF will also provide security to campus.
- Indian Navy an ICG will help design training curriculum, provide skilled trainers and ensure access to jetties and boats for trainees of academy.
- Gujarat government will provide two interceptor boats stationed at Okha to academy. It will have faculty from Indian Navy, ICG and BSF.
Significance of the academy:
India has a vast coastline of 7,516 kms touching 13 states and union territories (UTs). It also has around 1,197 islands.
- There is no institute in the country that trains marine or coastal police forces in these subjects in a professional manner. That is why the academy will be first-ever and the best practises of various agencies like the navy, the BSF and the Coast Guard will be borrowed by it for teaching purposes.
- Also, the academy was specially required since India faced its major sea-borne terror attack in November 2008 in Mumbai.
Key Facts for Prelims
ISA-ADB, NDB, GCF, AfDB and AIIB joint declarations of Financial partnership
- The International Solar Alliance (ISA)-African Development Bank (AfDb), the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), Green climate fund (GCF) and the New Development Bank (NDB) signed Joint financial partnership Declarations.
- The International Energy Agency (IEA) signed a Joint partnership Declaration with the ISA to deepen their cooperation in support of Renewable Energy.
- The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) also signed a Joint Partnership Declaration.
Samvedna 2018, the first multilateral Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) exercise of Indian Air Force (IAF) in association with South Asian Region nations was held off the coast of Kerala.
- The multilateral exercise was spearheaded by IAF and conducted by Southern Air Command (SAC) and involved representatives from air forces of Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and UAE.
- It is the first composite HADR Air exercise in the South Asian region and would be focused on practicing Air Force centric HADR solutions in a Multi-national cooperative Disaster Management environment.
- It is aimed at setting up a scenario of pre and post Tsunami disaster requirements and guide participants to work out Air Force Centric HADR solutions.
- ‘Samvedna’ means ‘Empathy’ and will ensure better understanding and sharing of response procedures between a number of friendly neighbouring nations.
India wins award at ITB – Berlin
India won Best Exhibitor Award at ITB–Berlin World Tourist Meet convened at Berlin, Germany.
- India’s Incredible India (Ministry of Tourism) presented short film named “Yogi of the Racetrack” in the meet.
About ITB Berlin:
- The ITB Berlin (Internationale Tourismus-Börse Berlin) is world’s largest tourism trade fair.
- It is represented by companies from tourism sector including hotels, tourist boards, tour operators, system providers, airlines and car rental companies.
- The fair takes place annually in March at Messe Berlin and always has official partner country.
- The fair in 2018 represented by the German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.
National Legislators Conference
- National Legislators Conference was recently inaugurated at the Central Hall of Parliament House.
- Hosted by Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, the conference is based on the theme “We for development”.
- It is being attended by Members of Parliament and state Assemblies.
- The motive of the conference is to bring MPs and MLAs on a single platform where ideas and plans for development can be exchanged.
Kinzhal missile System
- The Russian Aerospace Forces have conducted the first successful test firing of the air-launched Kinzhal (Dagger) hypersonic missile.
- Kinzhal is claimed to be a strategic air-to-surface strike missile.
- The missile is claimed to have maneuverable flight characteristics not typically seen in hypersonic, solid fuel missiles.
- The missile is reported to have a range of 1,200 miles (approximately 2,000 kilometers).
- It is equipped with high-precision aeroballistic missiles supporting air strikes without entering enemy’s air defence zone. It can overcome air-defence systems.
Sultan Azlan Shah Cup
- Australia won 27th edition of the Sultan Azlan Shah cup 2018 for record 10th time.
- Azlan Shah Hockey Tournament is an annual international men’s field hockey tournament held in Malaysia.
- It has been named after 9th king of Malaysia and ‘Father of Malaysian Hockey’ Sultan Azlan Shah also avid fan of field hockey.