Polity & Governance
- First Meeting of EAC-PM
- Anupam Kher appointed as Chairman, FTII Pune
- Ministry of Women and Child Development celebrates International Day of the Girl Child
- Supreme Court criminalises sex with minor wife aged between 15 and 18 years
Government Schemes & Policies
- Cabinet approves SANKALP & STRIVE Schemes to boost Skill India Mission
- Telangana launches IoT, e-waste management policy
- India’s first Sewage Treatment Plant under Hybrid Annuity Mode to come up in Haridwar and Varanasi
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- Pondicherry Shark, Red Sea Torpedo and Tentacled Butterfly Ray may have become extinct, fear scientists
Bilateral & International Relations
- Cabinet approves MoU between SEBI and FSC, Gibraltar
- MoU between India and Belarus for Cooperation in the field of Vocational Education and Training
- MoC between India and Japan on the “Technical Intern Training Program (TITP)” approved
- Cabinet clears pact with Japan for setting up flexible, global LNG market
- Cabinet approves change of status for marine body IALA
Key Facts for Prelims
- 3rd International Yoga Conference
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Polity & Governance
First Meeting of EAC-PM
The first-ever meeting of newly-constituted Economic Advisory Council to Prime Minister (EAC-PM) was held at NITI Aayog, in New Delhi.
- It was chaired by Dr. Bibey Debroy, Member NITI Aayog.
What has been decided at the meeting?
- The meeting took stock of the current economic, fiscal and monetary policy environment and identified key issues that it would focus on.
- It identified major priorities for accelerating economic growth and employment over the next six months, with greater last mile connectivity.
- The EAC-PM identified ten themes around which Council Report will be structured in the coming months.
- The EAC-PM also developed Theme Groups led by its members, through consultative processes involving sectoral Ministries, States, experts, institutions, private sector and other key stakeholders.
- It also recognized for effective tracking of key economic parameters, through possible mechanisms for instituting Economy Track Monitor, using lead indicators and triggers for action, based on informed assessment and analysis.
Ten priority areas that the Council identified include:
- Economic growth
- Informal sector
- Fiscal policy
- Monetary policy
- Public expenditure
- Economic governance
- Social sector
- Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi constituted an Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister (EAC-PM).
- The five-member council consists of economists of high repute and eminence. Bibek Debroy, a member of the NITI Aayog has been appointed as the Chairman of the council.
- Ratan Watal, the Principal Advisor to Niti Aayog has been appointed as the secretary of the Council.
- Formation of EAC by PM Narendra Modi comes over three years after he assumed power.
- The last chairperson of the Council, when Manmohan Singh was the Prime Minister, was former Reserve Bank of India Governor C. Rangarajan.
About the Economic Advisory Council:
- The EAC-PM is an independent body which provides advice on economic issues to the government, specifically to the Prime Minister.
- The five-member council consists of economists of high repute and eminence.
Terms of reference of EAC
- EAC will analyse any issue, economic or otherwise, referred to it by prime minister and advising him thereon.
- It will also address issues of macroeconomic importance and present its views to the prime minister.
- Its advise can be either suo-motu or on reference from prime minister or anyone else.
- It can also attend any other task as may be desired by prime minister from time to time.
Anupam Kher appointed as Chairman, FTII Pune
Anupam Kher, veteran cine star, has been appointed as Chairman of Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune.
About Anupam Kher:
- Appeared in over 500 films and in more than 100 plays.
- Recipient of the Padma Shri in 2004 and the Padma Bhushan in 2016 for his contribution in the field of cinema and arts.
- Won many national and international awards.
- Won the ‘Filmfare Award for Best Performance in a Comic Role’ five times.
- Appeared in acclaimed international films such as the 2002 Golden Globe nominated Bend It Like Beckham, 2007 Golden Lion award-winning Lust, Caution and 2013 Oscar-winning Silver Linings Playbook.
- Authored the book ‘The Best Thing about You Is You’.
- Served as the Chairman of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).
- He was the Director of National School of Drama from 2001 to 2004.
About the FTII:
The Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) is an autonomous institute under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting of the Government of India and aided by the Central Government of India.
- It is situated on the premises of the erstwhile Prabhat Film Company in Pune.
- Since its inception in 1960, FTII has become India’s premier film and television institute, with its alumni becoming technicians, actors and directors in the film and television industry.
- FTII is a member of the International Liaison Centre of Schools of Cinema and Television (CILECT), an organisation of the world’s leading schools of film and television.
- The FTII is registered under Societies’ Registration Act of 1860.
- The Society is headed by a President, who also functions as the Chairman of the Governing Council, the Academic Council and the Standing Finance Committee.
- The Governing Council is constituted by election from among the members of the Society. The Governing Council is the apex body of the FTII and is responsible for making all major policy decisions of the Institute.
Ministry of Women and Child Development celebrates International Day of the Girl Child
The International Day of the Girl Child is observed on October 11 every year across world to recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world.
- The 2017 theme of the day is ‘EmPOWER girls: Before, during and after conflict’.
- It aims to end humanitarian emergencies especially gender-based violence in which girls are more likely to be subjected to sexual and physical violence, child marriage, exploitation and trafficking.
- The International Day of Girl Child (IDGC) was instituted by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) by adopting Resolution moved by Canada in December 2011. It also calls for empowerment and improved rights of the world’s 1.1 billion girls.
Issues related to girl child:
- Child marriage is one of the most pressing issues facing the girl worldwide as an estimated one in three girls are married before they are 18, one in seven before they turn 15. There are 700 million women alive today who were married before 18 to men much older than themselves.
- Female genital mutilation is another problem that UNICEF estimates has affected 130 million girls worldwide.
- Sexual assault is another issue tackled by International Day of the Girl as up to 50% of all sexual assaults target girls under 16-years-old.
Supreme Court criminalises sex with minor wife aged between 15 and 18 years
The Supreme Court have criminalised sex with minor wife aged between 15 and 18 years, citing the exception in the rape law was arbitrary and was violative of the Constitution.
About the present judgement:
- Girls who are married off by their families can file rape charges against their husbands from now, as the Supreme Court ruled sex with underage wives as a crime.
- Order allows married girls between 15 and 18 years of age to sue their husbands provided one year has not lapsed since the nonconsensual sexual act. Sex with wives below 15 years of age is already treated as rape under law in India.
- Sex with wives below 15 years of age is already treated as rape under law in India.
- The court, however, refrained from dealing with the issue of marital rape of a woman aged above 18.
Judgement in contradiction to Section 375
- Section 375 of the IPC, which defines the offence of rape, has an exception clause that says intercourse or sexual act by a man with his wife, not below 15 years, is not rape. However, the age of consent is 18 years.
- Almost every statute in India recognises that a girl below 18 years of age is a child and it is for this reason that the law penalises sexual intercourse with a girl who is below 18 years of age.
- Unfortunately, by virtue of Exception 2 to Section 375 (Rape Law) of the IPC, if a girl child between 15 and 18 years of age is married, her husband can have non-consensual sexual intercourse with her, without being penalised under the IPC, only because she is married to him and for no other reason.
- The apex court said the exception is violative of Article 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution.
- The age of marriage was 18 in all laws and the exception given in the rape law under the IPC is “capricious, arbitrary and violates the rights of a girl child”.
Government Schemes & Policies
Cabinet approves SANKALP & STRIVE Schemes to boost Skill India Mission
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has approved two new World Bank supported schemes:
- Skills Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion (SANKALP) and
- Skill Strengthening for Industrial Value Enhancement (STRIVE).
About SANKALP and STRIVE:
- SANKALP is Rs 4,455 crore Centrally sponsored scheme including Rs. 3,300 crore loan support from World Bank
- STRIVE is a Rs. 2,200 crore – central sector scheme, with half of the scheme outlay as World bank loan assistance.
- SANKALP and STRIVE are schemes focused of marking shift in government’s implementation strategy in vocational education and training from inputs to results.
- STRIVE will incentivise ITIs to improve overall performance including apprenticeship by involving SMEs, business association and industry clusters, SANKALP envisages setting up of trainers and assessors academies with self-sustainable models.
- SANKALP aims at enhancement of inclusion of marginalized communities including women, Scheduled Castes (SCs), Schedule Tribes (STs) and Persons with Disabilities (PWD) to provide skill training opportunities to the underprivileged and marginalised section of the society.
- The schemes aim to develop a robust mechanism for delivering quality skill development training by strengthening institutions such as State Skill Development Missions (SSDMs), National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), Sector Skill Councils (SSCs), ITIs and National Skill Development Agency (NSDA) etc.
- The schemes shall support universalization of National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF) including National Quality Assurance Framework (NQAF) across the skill development schemes of central and state governments thus ensuring standardization in skill delivery, content and training output.
- The schemes shall provide the required impetus to the National Skill Development Mission, 2015 and its various sub missions.
- The schemes are aligned to flagship Government of India programs such as Make in India and Swachhta Abhiyan and aim at developing globally competitive workforce for domestic and overseas requirements.
Need for such schemes:
- There has been a long felt need for a national architecture for promoting convergence, ensuring effective governance and regulation of skill training and catalysing industry efforts in vocational training space.
- The two schemes shall address this need by setting up national bodies for accreditation & certification which shall regulate accreditation and certification in both long and short term Vocational Education and Training (VET).
- The architecture shall help, for the first time in the history of vocational education in India, to converge the efforts of various central, state and private sector institutions thereby avoiding duplication of activities and bringing about uniformity in vocational training thus, creating better impact.
Telangana launches IoT, e-waste management policy
The Telangana government has announced two new policies focussing on Internet of things and e-waste, which are part of the 10 major focus areas of the state’s IT policy launched last year.
About E waste policy:
E-Waste generation in India is rising at an alarming annual rate of 25%, with Hyderabad currently recording 25,000 MT per annum, the 6th largest generator in the country.
- The state’s e-waste policy calls for earmarking industrial space or sheds for dismantling and recycling e-waste in existing and upcoming industrial parks, estates and industrial clusters.
- The government aims to promote management of ewaste through collaborations with bulk consumers of electronic products, major industry organisations and other stakeholders.
- The government would also provide incentives to boost refurbishing and recycling centres. A subsidy of Rs 1 crore will be provided for a minimum investment of Rs 5 crore for the first five recyclers and refurbishers.
- Apart from that, it also plans to give 25% subsidy on lease rentals for every company for the first three years of operation and provide Rs 1,000 as training subsidy per person every month for 1,000 people.
- With this, the government aims to provide employment for 50,000 people in five years.
About IoT policy:
- The IoT policy is designed to attract Rs 10,000 crore worth of investments and the creation of five clusters each in three districts.
- The IoT policy is focussed on developing smart city solutions, medicalhealth IoT, smart logistics and agri-tech.
- These will be propelled by TWorks, a hardware prototyping centre being developed by the state government.
- The centre will partner with corporates and laboratories to access testing tools and other prototyping equipment specific to IoT.
India’s first Sewage Treatment Plant under Hybrid Annuity Mode to come up in Haridwar and Varanasi
The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) signed an agreement with Uttarakhand Pey Jal Nigam and Uttar Pradesh Jal Nigam and private players for setting up India’s first sewage treatment plants (STPs) in Haridwar and Varanasi under hybrid annuity mode.
- These were the first two agreements with private sector companies to build STPs under an innovative PPP called hybrid-annuity payment model that the government formulated with the help of the International Finance Corporation (IFC).
- The agreement is a major step forward in realising the dream of nirmal Ganga (clean Ganga) as it is the first time in India that Hybrid Annuity-based PPP mode is being applied in sewerage sector.
- The projects would ensure that untreated sewage does not flow into the Ganga river, thus giving a boost to India’s flagship Namami Gange program.
- Under this agreement the maintenance of the project will be the responsibility of the concessionaire for which there will be performance based phased manner of payment. This would ensure continued performance of the sewage infrastructure assets created due to better accountability, ownership and optimal performance.
Hybrid Annuity model (HAM):
- In financial terminology hybrid annuity means that payment is made in a fixed amount for a considerable period and then in a variable amount in the remaining period. This hybrid type of payment method is attached under the HAM.
- In India as per HAM design, the government will contribute to 40% of the project cost in the first five years through annual payments (annuity).
- The remaining payment will be made on the basis of the assets created and the performance of the developer. Whereas the remaining 60% is paid as variable annuity amount after the completion of the project depending upon the value of assets created.
Significance of the Model:
- All major stakeholders in the PPP arrangement – the Authority, lender and the developer, concessionaire would have an increased comfort level resulting in revival of the sector through renewed interest of private developers/investors in highway projects.
- It will bring relief thereby to citizens / travellers in the area of a respective project.
- It will facilitate uplifting the socio-economic condition of the entire nation due to increased connectivity across the length and breadth of the country leading to enhanced economic activity.
- The move will speed up the construction of roads in the country by renewing interest of private developers in highway projects as the risk will be distributed between the government and the private players.
- It is a fairly sensible risk-sharing model because it requires the private sector to focus on areas which bring in efficiency mainly in capital cost, project completion time and quality.
- This model will also bring in long-term infrastructure funds like pension funds into the sector.
- This model is also expected to double the speed of highway construction in the country as the government will no longer will be dependent on its limited financial resources and the expertise of private sector will be utilised to operate and maintain the roads.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
Pondicherry Shark, Red Sea Torpedo and Tentacled Butterfly Ray may have become extinct, fear scientists
Three marine species, the Pondicherry Shark, the Red Sea Torpedo and the Tentacled Butterfly Ray might have become possibly extinct in the oceanic waters of the Arabian Seas Region (ASR) since no evidence of its existence has surfaced in the last three decades.
- Scientists are also worried about the possible disappearance of other species from the region even before they were known to science.
First status report:
- The first ever assessment of the conservation status of sharks, rays, and chimaeras (collectively called chondrichthyans) in the region has left the scientists grim-faced as 78 of the 153 species revived were found fighting for survival.
- The Guitar fish found in coastal waters of Kerala and Tamil Nadu and the Ganges Shark found in Arabian Sea were classified as Critically Endangered, among others.
- The assessment also revealed that 27 species were Near Threatened and 19 others were of least conservation concerns. It was also known that less was known about 29 to evaluate their risk of extinction.
- By-catch was found to be the biggest threat to the majority of chondrichthyan fishes besides the “pressure from artisanal and industrial fisheries.”
- Also, increasing decline in the extent and quality of habitat as a result of coastal development and other anthropogenic disturbances, particularly for those critical habitats that many species depend on coral reefs, mangroves, sea grasses pose a serious threat to the survival of many species.
- India, which banned the exploitation and trade of 10 species of sharks and rays, had in 2015 banned the export and import of shark fins of all species.
About the Arabian Seas Region (ASR):
- The ASR covers the waters of the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea, Sea of Oman, and the Gulf.
- The region is also bordered by 20 countries including India, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Israel and Pakistan.
Bilateral & International Relations
Cabinet approves MoU between SEBI and FSC, Gibraltar
The Union Cabinet has given its approval for signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and Financial Services Commission (FSC), Gibraltar for mutual co-operation and technical assistance.
- The MoU is likely to promote further development of economic links and cooperation between the two regulators.
- It aims at creating conditions for an effective development of securities markets in the two countries.
- It would also contribute towards strengthening the information sharing framework between the two signatories.
- It is expected to add value to overseas mutual cooperation and regulation activities of SEBI and FSC, Gibraltar.
- Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory located on the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula.
- It shares its northern border with Spain.
- In May 2016 a report by the World Health Organization showed that Gibraltar had the worst air quality in any British territory.
MoU between India and Belarus for Cooperation in the field of Vocational Education and Training
The Union Cabinet has given its ex-post facto approval for a Memorandum of Understanding between India and Belarus for cooperation in the field of Vocational Education and Training (VET).
- This is for the first time an MoU for cooperation in area of vocational education, training and skill development has been signed with Eurasian country.
Highlights of the MoU:
- The MoU will be implemented through establishing institutional partnerships between Republican Institute for Vocational Education (RIPO), an apex institution for development of Belarusian vocational education system and Directorate General of Training in VET delivery & its sustainability.
- Belarus will provide comprehensive transfer of know-how of emerging technologies, training and evaluation methodologies, content development for training of master trainers, competency building of the assessors.
- Belarus will also provide vocational education services for Indian citizens for skill development in the field of construction, electric-power production, manufacturing, trade, auto service and household goods repair, transport, communication, hotels and restaurants.
- Retraining, up-skilling, internship for teachers and trainers of India will be conducted by the Belarusian Side apart from advisory services to enhance planning, management and delivery of Vocational Education.
- The financial arrangement for the co-operative activities undertaken under the MoU will be mutually agreed upon by both the parties.
Significance of this MoU:
Belarus has a large concentration of industries, mainly into manufacturing and heavy industries, which draw their strength from available skilled manpower and a highly developed skill training system.
- The transfer of knowledge of their skilling methodology will immensely help in our initiatives like “Make in India” and “Skill India”.
- It will pave the way for systematic transfer of their expertise and knowhow in skilling the manpower specially in manufacturing sector.
Location of Belarus:
- Belarus is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe bordered by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest.
MoC between India and Japan on the “Technical Intern Training Program (TITP)” approved
The Union Cabinet has approved the signing of Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) between India and Japan on the Technical Intern Training Program (TITP).
- The Technical Intern Training Program (TITP) is an ambitious program to send Indian technical interns to Japan for on the job training for a period of three to five years.
- It is expected that the MoC will pave the way for bilateral cooperation between the two countries in the area of skill development.
- India will send three lakh youth to Japan for on-job training for 3-5 years as part of the government’s skill development programme.
- Japan will bear the financial cost of the skill training of Indian technical interns
- These youth will work in the Japanese ecosystem and get employment opportunities there along with accommodation facility.
- The selection of the youth will be done in a transparent manner according to Japanese requirements.
Cabinet clears pact with Japan for setting up flexible, global LNG market
The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the signing of the Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) between India and Japan on establishing a liquid, flexible and global LNG Market.
- The MoC will promote bilateral relationship between India and Japan in the energy sector. It will contribute to the diversification of gas supplies for India. This will strengthen our energy security and lead to more competitive prices for consumers.
- The MoC provides a framework to cooperate in facilitating flexibility in LNG contracts, abolition of Destination Restriction Clause and also explore possibilities of cooperation in establishing reliable LNG spot price indices reflecting true LNG demand and supply.
- Supplies can be swapped between India and Japan from sources that are closer to each country, thereby helping the two countries save on transportation cost.
- This means that India can offer its share of supplies from Australia to Japan and in turn take the latter’s share of supplies from Qatar.
- MoC will pave way for such agreements in the future. At present, there is no such agreement.
- It will contribute to the diversification of gas supplies for India and also strengthen the energy security and lead to more competitive prices for consumers.
- India and Japan are major consumers of energy in the world.
- In the LNG sector, Japan is the world’s largest importer and India is the 4th largest importer.
- Under the Japan-India Energy Partnership Initiative signed in January 2016, the two sides had agreed to work together in promoting well-functioning energy markets and affirmed to promote a transparent and diversified Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) market through the relaxation of Destination Restriction Clause.
Cabinet approves change of status for marine body IALA
The Union Cabinet has given its approval for International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (IALA) to change its status from Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) to Inter-Governmental Organization (IGO).
Significance of this move:
- The move will facilitate to foster the safe, economic and efficient movement of vessels.
- It will bring IALA at par with International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and International Hydrographic Organisation (IHO).
- In its 12th session held in La Coruna, Spain in 2014, International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (IALA) General Assembly adopted a resolution stating its firm belief that the status of IALA from NGO to IGO will best facilitate lALA’s aims in the 21st century.
- The IALA is an inter-governmental organization for collecting and providing nautical expertise and advice.
- The IALA, having headquarters at St. Germainen Laye (France) was established in 1957 under French law.
- It is governed by a General Assembly having 83 National members, with its Council as the executive body.
- The IALA council consists of 24 National Members and India is one of the council members represented through the Directorate General of Lighthouses and Lightships (DGLL), Ministry of Shipping.
- DGLL establishes and maintains Aids to Navigation in general waters along coast of India including A&N and Lakshadweep group of islands, as per Lighthouse Act 1927.
Difference between NGO and IGO:
- Intergovernmental Organization (IGO) is a structure based on a formal instrument of agreement between nations.
- Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) is an organization that operates independently from any government though it may receive funding from a government but operates without oversight or representation from that government.
- The biggest difference between IGOs and NGOs is that IGOs are within the government scope.
- An example of an IGO is the United Nations. Examples of NGOs include Oxfam and Greenpeace.
Key Facts for Prelims
3rd International Yoga Conference
- Recently, the third International Conference on Yoga was inaugurated in New Delhi.
- The theme of the conference this year is ‘Yoga for Wellness.’
- The two-day conference is being organized by Ministry of AYUSH as a part of commemorating the celebration of 21 June as International Day of Yoga declared by the United Nations.
- The last two International conferences on the themes of ‘Yoga for Holistic Health’ and ‘Yoga for Body and Beyond’ were organized in 2015 and 2016 respectively.