Polity & Governance
- Govt plans ‘Indradhanush 2.0’ for recapitalisation of public sector banks
- Karnataka quota law for promotion invalid, says Supreme Court
- Centre aims to invest ₹2,200 cr. in electronic technology start-ups
- Commerce ministry plans merger of commodity boards
Bilateral & International Relations
- India plans to host counter-radicalisation conference with ASEAN
Defence & Security Issues
- India Successfully Test-Fires Interceptor Missile
Key Facts for Prelims
- India’s first ship to use solar energy on board
- World Radio Day 2017
- India’s first indigenously developed jet engine
- New bird species Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush found in Nepal
- First National Women’s Parliament
Polity & Governance
Govt plans ‘Indradhanush 2.0’ for recapitalisation of public sector banks
The Union Government is planning to come out with ‘Indradhanush 2.0’, a comprehensive plan for recapitalisation of public sector lenders.
- Indradhanush 2.0 will be finalised by Reserve Bank of India (RBI) after completion of Asset Quality Review (AQR) which is likely to be completed by end of March 2017.
- It aims to clean up the balance sheets of PSBs to ensure banks remain solvent and fully comply with global capital adequacy norms, Basel-III. Besides, revised programme of capitalisation will be also issued as part of it.
- The RBI had embarked on the AQR exercise from December 2015 and had set a deadline of March 2017 to complete the exercise. As part of it, RBI had asked banks to recognise some top defaulting accounts as non-performing assets (NPAs) and make adequate provisions for them.
About Indradhanush Mission:
- Under Indradhanush roadmap announced in 2015, the government had announced to infuse Rs 70,000 crore in state-run banks over four years while they will have to raise a further Rs 1.1 lakh crore from the markets to meet their capital requirement in line with global risk norms, known as Basel-III.
- The mission includes the seven key reforms of appointments, board of bureau, capitalisation, de-stressing, empowerment, framework of accountability and governance reforms.
- In line with the plan, public sector banks were given Rs 25,000 crore in 2015-16, and similar amount has been earmarked for the current fiscal. Besides, Rs 10,000 crore each would be infused in 2017-18 and 2018-19.
Karnataka quota law for promotion invalid, says Supreme Court
The Supreme Court, in its latest verdict, has set aside provisions of the ‘Karnataka Determination of Seniority of the Government Servants Promoted on the Basis of Reservation (to the posts in the civil services of the State) Act’, 2002, which did away with ‘catch up’ rule and provided consequential seniority to persons belonging to Schedule Castes and Schedule Tribes in promotion.
What’s the issue?
The Act envisages grant of consequential seniority to the government servants belonging to Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes promoted under reservation policy.
The petitioners before the high court had urged that, due to this policy, SC/ST candidates got promotion early and on account of consequential seniority, percentage of SC/ST candidates was much higher than the permitted percentage and all top positions were likely to be filled up by SC/ST candidates without general merit candidates getting to higher positions. But the high court held the Act valid.
What is catch up rule?
- ‘Catch up’ rule means that if a senior candidate of general category is promoted after SC/ST candidates, he would regain his seniority in promotion over the juniors promoted ahead of him under the reserved vacancies.
What has court observed?
The court has observed that
- In order to provide reservation in promotions, the states must first determine whether the criteria of ‘inadequacy of representation’, ‘backwardness’ and ‘overall efficiency’ are fulfilled.
- The provisions of the Act are ultra vires to Articles 14 (right to equality) and 16 (equality of opportunity in Government service) of the Constitution.
- Under the 85th amendment to the Constitution, liberty has been given to states to give reservation in promotion with consequential seniority under Article 16(4A), if warranted under the criteria’s of ‘backwardness, ‘inadequacy of representation’ and ‘overall efficiency’.
- Thus, it is clear that exercise for determining ‘inadequacy of representation’, ‘backwardness’ and ‘overall efficiency’, is a must for exercise of power under Article 16(4A).
- Mere fact that there is no proportionate representation in promotional posts for SCs and STs is not by itself enough to grant consequential seniority to promotees who are otherwise junior and thereby denying seniority to those who are given promotion later on account of reservation policy.
Centre aims to invest ₹2,200 cr. in electronic technology start-ups
The Union Government is targeting an investment of about Rs. 2,200 crore in start-ups working on new technologies in the electronic sector under the Electronics Development Fund (EDF) by 2019.
- This investment aims at creating an eco-system to make India a global hub for electronics manufacturing.
- Earlier, Government had approved Rs.681 crore as seed capital for building a total corpus of over Rs 6,800 crore under the EDF meant to support entrepreneurship and innovation in electronics and IT.
Electronics Development Fund (EDF) is the ‘mother fund’ or ‘fund of funds’ that will contribute to various funds for those who invest the money in companies for creation of intellectual property rights (IPR) in the field of electronics and IT.
- It works with venture capitalists to create funds, known as ‘daughter funds,’ which provide risk capital to companies developing new technologies in the area of nano-electronics, electronics and IT.
- It will help attract angel funds, venture funds and seed funds towards research & development (R&D) and innovation in the specified areas.
- It will also help to create a battery of Fund Managers and Daughter funds who will be seeking good start-ups (potential winners) and selecting them based on professional considerations.
- The fund is an attempt to develop the electronics system design and manufacturing sector in the country to achieve “net zero imports” by 2020.
Commerce ministry plans merger of commodity boards
To boost production and promote exports of plantation crops like tea, coffee and spices, the commerce ministry is planning to bring the commodity boards under one umbrella.
Rationale behind the plan:
Some of these boards were set up way back in 1940s and their merger could help in harmonising their activities and in turn, enhance the quality and boost exports. Besides, one board will provide better services.
The five commodity boards, under the ministry of commerce, are responsible for production, development and export of tea, coffee, rubber, spices and tobacco.
- The Coffee Board is a statutory organisation constituted under the Coffee Act, 1942.
- The Rubber Board was constituted under the Rubber Act, 1947.
- The Tea Board was set up on 1st April, 1954 under the Tea Act, 1953.
- The Tobacco Board was constituted in January, 1976.
- The Spices Board was formed in February, 1987.
Bilateral & International Relations
India plans to host counter-radicalisation conference with ASEAN
India plans to host a conference with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to share experiences and ideas on prevention of radicalisation.
- The event is likely to be held in October, 2017.
- The conference will provide common platform to countries for sharing experiences and ideas on prevention of radicalisation amid rise of Islamic State and other extremist ideologies
- India will also share its experience and also benefit from that of ASEAN countries, especially Malaysia. Besides, more countries may be also invited as observers depending on the interest.
- UAE will one of such country as it has expertise in deradicalisation that was one of the key areas of discussions during the recent India-UAE bilateral interactions.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a regional organisation comprising ten Southeast Asian states which promotes intergovernmental cooperation and facilitates economic integration amongst its members.
- It came into existence on August 8, 1967 after ASEAN declaration (also known as Bangkok declaration).
- Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Philippines and Thailand were founder countries.
- Later 5 more countries Brunei Darussalam, Lao PDR, Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam were added.
- Its headquarters is in Jakarta, Indonesia.
- Its principal aims are
- To accelerate economic growth, social progress, and sociocultural evolution among its members.
- To protect of regional stability and the provision of a mechanism for member countries to resolve differences peacefully.
Defence & Security Issues
India Successfully Test-Fires Interceptor Missile
India has successfully conducted a test of its indigenously designed ballistic missile defense system on Abdul Kalam Island off the coast of Odisha in the Bay of Bengal.
- The homegrown anti-ballistic missile, dubbed Prithvi Defence Vehicle (PDV), travels at supersonic speed.
- It is capable of destroying targets at a high altitude of more than 120 km in the exo-atmospheric region.
- Prithvi Defence Vehicle is the interceptor indigenously developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
- Prithvi Defence Vehicle interceptor missile is capable of killing an incoming missile with a strike range of around 2,000 km outside the earth’s atmosphere.
- India is the fifth nation in the world to have a robust Ballistic Missile Defence system. Other countries are US, Russia, Israel and China.
Key Facts for Prelims
India’s first ship to use solar energy on board
- Indian Navy’s survey vessel INS Sarvekshak became the first naval ship to go green by installing a solar power system on board.
- With this, Sarvekshak has become the first ship in India, perhaps first in the world, to use solar energy on board.
- It has innovatively deployed the zero-maintenance solar power system, capable of generating 5.4KW electricity and replacing the ship’s traditional 4.4KW emergency diesel alternator.
- The solar power generating system has been installed by customising and installing ‘razor-thin, flexible’ solar panels on the canopy of its telescopic (retractable) helicopter deck.
World Radio Day 2017
- The World Radio Day is observed every year on 13th February to celebrate radio as the medium for entertainment, information and the mode for communication.
- The theme for the 2017 edition of World Radio Day is “Radio is You.”
- After originally proposed by the Kingdom of Spain, UNESCO in its 36th General Conference proclaimed World Radio Day on November 3, 2011. Later, it was adopted as an International Day by the United Nations General Assembly.
- 13 February is the anniversary of the day the United Nations established United Nations Radio in 1946.
- Last year, the UNESCO’s theme for World Radio Day is “Radio in Times of Emergency and Disaster”.
India’s first indigenously developed jet engine
- Intech DMLS Limited has launched the country’s first indigenously developed jet engine series under the brand name Poeir Jets.
- With this, India has become the first country in Asia and only the fourth country after the US, Europe and Israel to indigenously develop such an engine in the private space.
- The company established in 2012 and has its headquarters in Bengaluru specialises in metal 3D printing provider and metal additive manufacturing.
New bird species Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush found in Nepal
- A new species of birds has been discovered in the high mountainous region of Nepal, bringing the total number of avian species in the Himalayan country to 866.
- A Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush (Monticola saxitilis) was first seen last year near the Shey monastery within the Shey-Phoksundo National Park.
- Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush is considered an autumn passage migrant bird species in Pakistan and India.
- Rock thrushes are medium-sized songbirds, mostly insectivorous or omnivorous and fall under the genus of chats.
First National Women’s Parliament
- Aiming to empower women, Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly has organized the country’s first National Women’s Parliament in Amravati.
- The three-day event will see 10,000 higher secondary girls connecting with 401 women legislators, 91 women Members of Parliament and 300 social and corporate women leaders of India and overseas.
- The event, which is being organised by the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly in association with MIT School of Government, is aimed at igniting and strengthening the sense of social responsibility among women of India.
- The NWP belongs to women from all walks of life, cutting across caste, creed, religion, and boundaries.
- It will provide girl students access to women leaders who have made their mark in various walks of life.
- The views of experts and speakers on women empowerment will be documented, which can be used in policy-making.