Polity & Governance
- Indo German Agreement on Namami Gange Signed
- HC upholds legal provision against foreign tax havens
- India, South Korea sign pact for developing ports
- World output faces risk of 3.9 % drop by 2021
Environment & Ecology
- Cabinet nod to adopt statute of SAWEN to check wildlife crimes
- Cabinet nod for India-UAE MoU to prevent human trafficking
Defence & Security Issues
- Akash Missile Test Fired For Second Consecutive Day
Science & Technology
- India ranks 44 in 2016 Global Connectivity Index
- Proposals on Biology of childhood under nutrition invited by DBT
Polity & Governance
Indo German Agreement on Namami Gange Signed
India and Germany have signed an Implementation Agreement for Ganga Rejuvenation under the Namami Gange Programme.
- Government of Germany, with its vast experiences in cleaning and rejuvenating European rivers such as Rhine, Elbe and Danube, was keen to join hands for collaboration with Government of India.
- The agreement was signed between the ministry of water resources and Ganga rejuvenation of India and the German International Cooperation (GIZ) of Germany under the ‘Namami Ganga’– a flagship programme of the government with a renewed impetus to decrease river pollution and conserve the country’s national river.
- The agreement will adopt wherever possible, the river basin management strategies of the European rivers Rhine and Danube to rejuvenate the river Ganga.
- Though initial actions will be focussed on the stretch of the river in Uttarakhand, it will later be expanded to other Ganga states.
- The project will closely cooperate with other national and international initiatives, including Indo-German bilateral projects like Support to National Urban Sanitation Policy (SNUSP) and Sustainable Environment-friendly Industrial Production (SEIP).
Objective of the agreement:
- The objective of the agreement is to enable responsible stakeholders at national and state level to apply integrated river basin management approach for the rejuvenation of the river Ganga.
- This will be based on Indo-German knowledge exchange and practical experience on strategic river basin management issues, effective data management system and public engagement.
About Namami Gange Programme:
‘Namami Gange’ Programme, is a flagship programme of Government of India with a renewed impetus to decrease river pollution and conserve the revered river ‘Ganga’.
- The Union government approved “Namami Gange” Program in May 2015.
- In this connection, the Indian Government solicited support from various countries to rejuvenate the Ganga.
- The program would be implemented by the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), and its state counterpart organizations i.e., State Program Management Groups (SPMGs).
- Among other things, the programme will focus on pollution abatement interventions namely Interception, diversion & treatment of wastewater flowing through the open drains through bio-remediation / appropriate in-situ treatment / use of innovative technologies.
- Under this programme, the focus of the Government is to involve people living on the banks of the river to attain sustainable results.
- The programme also focuses on involving the States and grassroots level institutions such as Urban Local Bodies and Panchayati Raj Institutions in implementation.
[Ref: PIB, Hindu]
HC upholds legal provision against foreign tax havens
The Madras High Court has upheld the Constitutional validity of Section 94A(1) of the Income Tax Act, 1961 which empowers the government to declare any country, with which it lacks effective exchange of information, a ‘notified jurisdictional area.’
- Section 94A(1) was inserted into the Act in 2011 through an amendment.
- The court has noted that the insertion of Section 94A(1) did not amount to disrespecting international bilateral treaties to avoid double taxation.
Significance of the verdict:
- The verdict is being seen as a major boost to the Centre’s efforts to prevent infusion of black money through shell companies in foreign tax havens.
India, South Korea sign pact for developing ports
India and South Korea have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for cooperation and mutual assistance in development of ports.
- The MoU is expected to help both countries to encourage and facilitate development of ports, port-related industries and maritime relationship.
- It will also enhance cooperation in the tasks of sharing of technology, experiences in the fields of port development and operation, exchange of information on construction, building, engineering and related aspects in the field of port development, among others.
World output faces risk of 3.9 % drop by 2021
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said in its latest Global Financial Stability Report that the decline in oil prices has helped countries such as India improve their external positions, but low commodity prices have kept risks elevated in emerging market economies.
Context of the report:
- The financial stability report assesses the risks faced by the global financial system and the current edition surveys the issues that surfaced since October 2015.
Highlights of the report:
- According to the report, the spill-over effects of the growing uncertainty about China’s economy and setbacks to growth and confidence in advanced economies are other factors undermining global financial stability.
- “These developments tightened financial conditions, reduced risk appetite, raised credit risks and stymied balance sheet repair,” the IMF said in the report.
- The report warns that global output could decline 3.9 per cent by 2021 if action isn’t taken to address the risks faced by the financial system.
- The main message of this report is that additional measures are needed to deliver a more balanced and potent policy mix for improving the growth and inflation outlook and securing financial stability. In the absence of such measures, market turmoil may recur. However, if timely measures are taken, world output could expand by 1.7%, relative to the baseline, by 2018.
Environment & Ecology
Cabinet nod to adopt statute of SAWEN to check wildlife crimes
The Union cabinet has given its formal approval for adopting the Statute of the South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network (SAWEN).
- With this, India will become member of SAWEN, a regional inter-governmental body in combating wildlife crime in the region and beyond.
- By becoming member of SAWEN, India will strengthen its ties with the member countries for controlling the trans-boundary wildlife crimes through coordination, communication, collaboration, cooperation and capacity building in the region.
About SAWEN :
SAWEN is regional inter-governmental wildlife law enforcement support body launched in 2011 in Bhutan.
- It is a regional network comprises eight countries in South Asia–Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
- It aims at working collectively as a strong regional inter-governmental body to combat wildlife crime by attainting common mutual goals and approaches for combating illegal trade in the region.
Significance of SAWEN:
- The South Asia region is very vulnerable to illegal traffic and wildlife crimes due to presence of precious biodiversity and large markets as well as traffic routes for wildlife products in the region.
- The collaboration in harmonising as well as enforcing the wildlife protection in the region is considered very important for effective conservation of biodiversity.
Benefits to India:
- The SAWEN will also strengthen institutional responses to combat wildlife crime by promoting research and information sharing, training and capacity building, technical support, sharing experiences and outreach and to encourage member countries to prepare and implement their national action plans in curbing wildlife crime.
Cabinet nod for India-UAE MoU to prevent human trafficking
The Union Cabinet has given its approval for signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between India and United Arab Emirate to prevent human trafficking.
- Under this MoU a joint task force with representatives from both sides would be constituted to monitor its implementation.
- It will ensure taking preventive measures that would eliminate human trafficking in women and children and in protecting the rights of victims of trafficking.
- Anti-trafficking cells and task forces will work on both sides to prevent human trafficking. Police and other concerned authorities will work in close cooperation and exchange information which can be used to interdict human traffickers.
- The repatriation of victims would be done as expeditiously as possible and the home country will undertake the safe and effective re-integration of the victims.
Significance of this MoU:
- This MoU will strengthen the bonds of friendship between the two countries and increase bilateral cooperation on issues of prevention, rescue, recovery and repatriation related to human trafficking, especially of women and children, expeditiously.
- The MoU will strengthen cooperation to prevent all forms of human trafficking and ensure speedy investigation and prosecution of traffickers and organised crime syndicates in either country.
Defence & Security Issues
Akash Missile Test Fired For Second Consecutive Day
India’s indigenously developed surface-to-air Akash missile was recently test fired from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur near Balasore in Odisha.
About Akash missile:
- Akash is a medium range surface-to-air anti-aircraft defence systemdeveloped by the DRDO as part of the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme.
- Akash is powered by Ramjet-rocket propulsion system, which renders thrust for the missile to intercept the target at supersonic speed without any retardation.
- Akash missile has a strike range of 25 km and can carry warhead of 60 kg.
- It can fly at supersonic speed ranging from Mach 2.8 to 3.5 and can engage aerial targets up to a range of approximately 25 km.
Science & Technology
India ranks 44 in 2016 Global Connectivity Index
Recently announced, Global Connectivity Index report sheds light on various global improvements in the field of internet connectivity.
- The report is announced by Huawei during the Global Analyst Summit 2016 in Shenzhen, China.
- In terms of numbers, United States, Singapore and Sweden top the rankings.
- India with a GCI score of 30 ranks number 44 in the report, and is seen as starter in the world of ICT deployment.
Analysis of India’s performance:
- The report notes that India may not have ranked well, but the situation might change rapidly in 2017.
- The Indian Government’s Digital India initiative is driving growth, and improved broadband penetration.
- The report says the initiative will enable last mile connectivity, bringing many people online for the first time, and enables a whole new opportunity for telecom operators.
About Global Connectivity Index (GCI):
- The 2016 Global Connectivity Index (GCI) is a study that benchmarks where a country stands within its journey to connectivity.
- This was the third Global Connectivity Index report announced by the Chinese multinational networking and telecommunications equipment and services company Huawei.
- The GCI findings are sourced from 50 countries that, in total account for 90% of global GDP and 78% of the global population, on investment and deployment of Information and Communications Technology (ICT).
Proposals on Biology of childhood under nutrition invited by DBT
The department of Biotechnology (DBT) of the union Ministry of Science and Technology has called for proposals on Biology of childhood undernutrition and healthy growth with an emphasis on linear growth retardation.
- The DBT has called for research and development proposals in thematic areas such as measuring under nutrition, especially biomarkers and functional correlates, genetic and epigenetic influences on healthy growth, endocrine influences facilitating linear growth, nutrition requirements and dietary composition for healthy growth among others.
- This call for proposals is intended to enhance our understanding to facilitate healthy growth in children at the population level.
- Proposals can be submitted by clinicians, scientists, inter-disciplinary groups working in recognised R&D institutions. The proposals can be submitted online on the DBT website by May 6.
Why need for proposals?
- Childhood under nutrition is a major national concern, which needs urgent remedies to optimise our human resource development.
- Under nutrition, especially linear growth retardation, probably occurs through several inter-related or independent mechanisms. However, the precise biological or pathogenic pathways are unknown and require optimization for designing of public health intervention packages.