Polity & Governance
- Special courts to try politicians, Centre informs SC
Government Schemes & Policies
- OEMs require govt nod to supply e-buses under FAME
- ‘World Economic Situation and Prospects 2018’ report
- India in talks with ASEAN to extend IMT highway up to Vietnam
- India’s first EMC is coming to Andhra Pradesh
- Two Crucial Bridges in Eastern Arunachal Pradesh inaugurated
Bilateral & International Relations
- India to host AIIB annual meeting
- India, Australia hold first ‘2+2 dialogue’ on strategic, defence ties
- The reason behind an exploding meteoroid before reaching Earth revealed
Art & Culture
- Second UNWTO/UNESCO World Conference on Tourism and Culture
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Polity & Governance
Special courts to try politicians, Centre informs SC
The Centre informed the Supreme Court that it has decided to set up 12 special courts to deal exclusively with criminal cases against lawmakers and politicians.
- The move is aimed to end the inordinate delay in the prosecution of politicians in criminal cases.
Need for such courts:
- In 2014, as many as 1,581 lawmakers – that is, Members of Parliament (MPs) and members of legislative assemblies (MLAs) – were facing prosecution in a mind-boggling 13,500 cases. The numbers would only have increased since. Ten cases were later dropped due to death of the politicians named in the cases.
- Moreover, there are several high-profile cases against leaders from almost all political parties—regional and national where investigations have dragged on for years and those facing trial have evaded prison.
- Disposing of 1,581 criminal cases involving political persons within a time frame of one year as directed by the SC is the aim as well as the objective of the scheme.
- Twelve special courts for a period of one year” shall be set up to dispose of cases against politicians.
- Among 12, two special courts would handle cases against 228 MPs and the other 10 would be set up in 10 states — Andhra, Bihar, Karnataka, Kerala, MP, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, UP and Bengal—where the number of MLAs booked for criminal acts is more than 65.
Implications of the decision:
- The Centre’s decision could be a setback to politicians who, despite facing serious charges, have remained members of Parliament and state assemblies due to time consumed in trials. Such cases will fall in the purview of special courts and their fate will be decided expeditiously.
Government Schemes & Policies
OEMs require govt nod to supply e-buses under FAME
Government has made mandatory for Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to seek approval from Department of Heavy Industry (DHI) before accepting any proposal to supply electric buses for availing incentives under the FAME India scheme.
- The move is aimed at facilitating smooth roll out and management of demand incentives for e-buses under FAME.
- After DHI gives the nod, OEMs become eligible for the incentives under the scheme.
What is FAME India scheme?
- With an aim to promote eco-friendly vehicles, the government had launched the FAME India scheme in 2015 offering incentives on electric and hybrid vehicles of up to Rs 29,000 for bikes and Rs 1.38 lakh for cars.
- FAME India – Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric vehicles in India – is a part of the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan.
- The scheme envisages Rs 795 crore support in the first two fiscals starting with the current year.
- It is being administered by the Heavy Industries Ministry.
About National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP) 2020
- NEMMP aims to achieve national fuel security by promoting hybrid and electric vehicles in country.
- It has set ambitious target of 6-7 million sales of hybrid and electric vehicles year on year from 2020 onwards.
‘World Economic Situation and Prospects 2018’ report
The World Economic Situation and Prospects (WESP) 2018 report was recently released.
- The report was unveiled by United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA).
Highlights of the report:
- At the global level, growth is expected to remain steady at 3% in 2018 and 2019.
- Overall, economic outlook for South Asia is seen largely favourable and steady for the short term, notwithstanding significant medium-term challenges.
- The world economy also faces longer-term challenges – increasing economic diversification, reducing inequality, supporting long-term investment and tackling institutional deficiencies.
- Few least developed countries (LDCs) are expected to reach the Sustainable Development Goal target for GDP growth of at least 7 per cent in the near term.
- Environmental sustainability Preliminary estimates suggest that the level of CO2 emissions increased in 2017.
India related facts:
- India’s economy is likely to expand by 7.2 per cent in 2018 and go up further to 7.4 per cent in the following year on the back of strong private consumption, public investment and the ongoing structural reforms.
- The report has projected India with a positive outlook despite the slowdown in 2017 and the lasting effects of demonetisation.
- Though the credit growth is restrained despite monetary easing, however bank recapitalisation and the Indian Bankruptcy Code (IBC) have the potential to revive credit growth.
About United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA):
UN DESA is part of the United Nations Secretariat.
- It is responsible for the follow-up to major United Nations Summits and Conferences.
- Specifically, UN DESA is tasked with supporting deliberations in two major UN charter bodies: the UN General Assembly and UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), including ECOSOC’s subsidiary bodies.
- It assists countries around the world in agenda-setting and decision-making with the goal of meeting their economic, social and environmental challenges and promoting development for all.
- It supports international cooperation to promote sustainable development for all, having as a foundation the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as adopted by the UN General Assembly on 25 September 2015.
- It is also a member of the United Nations Development Group.
India in talks with ASEAN to extend IMT highway up to Vietnam
India and ASEAN countries are holding consultations on the extension of the 1,360 km India-Myanmar-Thailand (IMT) – from Moreh in India to Mae-Sot in Thailand — to Laos, Cambodia and to Vietnam.
- As per proposals from India, the highway could be extended to Vietnam via Laos and Cambodia.
Significance of this expansion:
- This expansion has a tremendous potential in terms of incremental GDP. This connectivity can generate annually, an estimated $70 billion in incremental GDP and 20 million in incremental aggregate employment by 2025.
- Connecting India with the South eastern countries through a network of road will create jobs, market for crops grown in hilly regions of the Northeast which will also help growers in getting better price for their produce.
About IMT highway:
- The India–Myanmar–Thailand Trilateral Highway is a highway under construction under India’s Look East policy that will connect Moreh, India with Mae Sot, Thailand via Myanmar.
- The road is expected to boost trade and commerce in the ASEAN–India Free Trade Area, as well as with the rest of Southeast Asia.
- The project was recently in news as it already missed its first deadline in 2015 and India has consistently faced difficulty in implementing its projects in Myanmar.
- The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), has 10 member nations — Indonesia, Malaysia, The Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Cambodia.
India’s first EMC is coming to Andhra Pradesh
India’s first Electronic Manufacturing Cluster (EMC) will be coming to Andhra Pradesh.
About the EMC:
- The EMC, coming up at an estimated cost of `104 crore, will generate more than 50,000 jobs, directly or indirectly.
- An EMC is designed and developed for providing facilities and amenities for manufacturing mobiles and allied products.
- The Government of India, through the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeiTY), had announced in 2012 about setting up an EMC in India, with grant-in-aid for establishing such clusters.
- In 2015, the Andhra Pradesh government announced the first exclusive mobile and electronic manufacturing cluster in the new capital, Amaravati.
- A Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) called Sri Venkateswara Mobiles and Electronics Manufacturing Hub Private Limited was formed.
- Three major Indian mobile manufacturers – Celkon, Karbonn and Lava have come forward to establish their units in the EMC.
Two Crucial Bridges in Eastern Arunachal Pradesh inaugurated
Two crucial bridges were inaugurated in Eastern Arunachal Pradesh.
- The bridges have been built by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO).
- They will provide round the year connectivity to the strategic Dibang valley bordering China.
Two Bridges include:
- It is a 140-metre long-bridge on Roing-Koronu-Paya road, which is a part of Trans Arunachal Highway.
- The completion of the Injupani Bridge will provide an uninterrupted access between Roing & Tezu, both important district HQs in Arunachal Pradesh.
- It is 300-metre long pre-stressed concrete balanced cantilever bridge over the Eze river at Roing in Arunachal Pradesh.
- The completion of the Eze bridge has come as a boon for the people of the area, especially those of Dibang Valley district, as the district remained cut off from the rest of the country during the monsoons each year.
About the BRO:
Works under Ministry of Defence, the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) is one of the premier road construction agencies of the country.
- It develops and maintains road networks in India’s border areas and friendly neighbouring countries.
- It is staffed by officers and troops drawn from the Indian Army’s Corps of Engineers, Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, Army Service Corps, Military Police and army personnel on extra regimental employment.
- Officers from the Border Roads Engineering Service and personnel from the General Reserve Engineer Force (GREF) form the parent cadre of the Border Roads Organisation.
- Currently, the organisation maintains operations in twenty-one states, one UT (Andaman and Nicobar Islands), and neighbouring countries such as Afghanistan, Bhutan, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka.
- The BRO operates and maintains over 32,885 kilometres of roads and about 12,200 meters of permanent bridges in the country.
Bilateral & International Relations
India to host AIIB annual meeting
The 3rd Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) will take place in Mumbai on 25th and 26th June 2018.
- The theme of this year’s meeting would be “Mobilizing Finance for Infrastructure: Innovation and Collaboration”.
- The Annual Meeting is set to host over 80 delegates from all AIIB Member countries.
The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is an international financial institution that aims to support the building of infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific region.
- It has 57 member states.
- It was proposed as an initiative as well as hosted by the government of China.
- It was founded in October, 2014, and will have its headquarters in Beijing.
- Its goals are also to boost economic development in the region, create wealth, prove infrastructure, and promote regional cooperation and partnership.
- China is the largest shareholder with 26.06% voting shares. India is the second largest shareholder with 7.5% voting shares followed by Russia (5.93%) and Germany (4.5%).
- The value of AIIB’s authorized capital amounts to $100 billion, with almost $30 billion invested by China.
- The bank expects to lend $10 billion to $15 billion a year for the first five years of its operations, beginning in the second quarter of 2016.
India, Australia hold first ‘2+2 dialogue’ on strategic, defence ties
India and Australia reviewed all aspects of bilateral ties during the inaugural ‘2+2 dialogue’ model which includes the foreign and defense secretaries of both sides.
Need for ‘open’ Asia-Pacific zone:
- Both sides agreed that a free, open, prosperous and inclusive Indo-Pacific region serves the long-term interests of all countries in the region and of the world at large.
India and “2+2” dialogues:
- India has a “2+2” dialogue with very few countries—Japan and South Korea being two examples.
- New Delhi and Washington are slated to hold a “2+2” dialogue between their ministers of foreign affairs and defence and secretaries of state and defence early next year.
India-Australia bilateral relations:
- India and Australia share warm bilateral relations based on shared democratic values and pluralism.
- There is a growing convergence of strategic perspectives between the two countries.
- India and Australia were two members of the four-nation “quad” of major democracies in the Indo-Pacific region —also regarded as the possible nucleus of a probable new security architecture in Asia.
- India conducts the Malabar naval exercises with the US and last year it was expanded to include Japan. Australia—which was part of the Malabar exercises in 2007—could rejoin the drill next year.
Geostrategic term “Indo-Pacific”:
- The exchanges come as the geostrategic term “Indo-Pacific” as opposed to “Asia-Pacific” has been gaining currency, thanks to increased use by US administration officials to refer to a large swathe of sea and land stretching from the US Pacific coast to Australia and beyond to India.
- More recently, US President Donald Trump referred to the term several times when he spoke to a group of business representatives from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) grouping in Da Nang in Vietnam.
About Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC):
- Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is a forum for 21 Pacific Rim member economies that promotes free trade throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
- It was established in 1989 in response to the growing interdependence of Asia-Pacific economies and the advent of regional trade blocs in other parts of the world.
What Does APEC Do?
- APEC ensures that goods, services, investment and people move easily across borders.
- Members facilitate this trade through faster customs procedures at borders; more favorable business climates behind the border; and aligning regulations and standards across the region.
- APEC works to help all residents of the Asia-Pacific participate in the growing economy. For example, APEC projects provide digital skills training for rural communities and help indigenous women export their products abroad.
- Recognizing the impacts of climate change, APEC members also implement initiatives to increase energy efficiency and promote sustainable management of forest and marine resources.
- The forum adapts to allow members to deal with important new challenges to the region’s economic well-being. This includes ensuring disaster resilience, planning for pandemics, and addressing terrorism.
[Ref: The Hindu, Live Mint, APEC]
The reason behind an exploding meteoroid before reaching Earth revealed
In the latest breakthrough research, the reason behind the explosion of Meteor before reaching the earth has unleashed.
- The study further revealed that our atmosphere is a better shield from meteoroids than previously thought.
Why meteoroids explode before reaching Earth?
- According to a study, when a meteor rushes towards Earth at enormous speed, the high-pressure air starts filling into its seeps, pores and cracks which exerts pressure on its wall leading to its detonation.
- There is a big gradient between high-pressure air in front of the meteor and the vacuum of air behind it. If the air can move through the passages in the meteorite, it can easily get inside and blow off pieces.
Significance of this findings:
- Researchers always knew that meteoroids often blew up before they reach the Earth’s surface, but they did not know why.
- The researchers used a unique computer code to find the solution to a perplexing situation. This new code allowed the researchers to push air into the meteoroid and let it percolate, which lowered the strength of the meteoroid significantly, even if it had been moderately strong to begin with.
- While this mechanism may protect Earth’s inhabitants from small meteoroids, large ones likely would not be bothered by it.
- As per the researchers, the explosion of meteoroid brought in energy which is comparable to a small nuclear weapon.
- Iron meteoroids are much smaller and denser, and even relatively small ones tend to reach the surface.
Art & Culture
Second UNWTO/UNESCO World Conference on Tourism and Culture
The Second UNWTO/UNESCO World Conference on Tourism and Culture is being held in Muscat, Sultanate of Oman.
- Indian delegation led by Union Culture Minister will attend the conference.
- This Conference is a sequel to the First UNWTO/UNESCO World Conference on Tourism and Culture, held in Siem Reap, Cambodia in February 2015.
About the second conference:
- The conference will bring together, for the second time, Ministers of Tourism and Ministers of Culture as well as private sector stakeholders and experts.
- To build and strengthen partnerships between the Tourism and Culture sectors and enhance their role in the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
- The Conference will address a wide range of topics, including governance models, tourism development and protection of cultural heritage, culture and tourism in urban development and creativity, and exploring cultural landscape in tourism as a vehicle for sustainable development in destinations worldwide.
- It will provide the platform to reflect upon the Siem Reap Declaration that pledged to explore the synergies of the tourism and culture sectors to work in harmony for sustainable development.
- The United Nations has declared 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, thereby offering a unique opportunity to explore and highlight tourism’s potential to help transform the world into a place of prosperity and wellbeing for all. In this context, the second UNWTO/UNESCO World Conference on Tourism and Culture features prominently as one of the official events on the calendar of activities of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.
About World Tourism Organization (UNWTO):
UNWTO is the United Nations agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism.
Functions of UNWTO:
- As the leading international organization in the field of tourism, UNWTO promotes tourism as a driver of economic growth, inclusive development and environmental sustainability and offers leadership and support to the sector in advancing knowledge and tourism policies worldwide.
- UNWTO encourages the implementation of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, to maximize tourism’s socio-economic contribution while minimizing its possible negative impacts.
- It is also committed to promoting tourism as an instrument in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), geared towards reducing poverty and fostering sustainable development worldwide.
- UNWTO generates market knowledge, promotes competitive and sustainable tourism policies and instruments, fosters tourism education and training, and works to make tourism an effective tool for development through technical assistance projects in over 100 countries around the world.
Members of UNWTO:
- UNWTO’s membership includes 158 countries, 6 Associate Members and over 500 Affiliate Members representing the private sector, educational institutions, tourism associations and local tourism authorities.