Polity & Governance
- Cabinet approves revision of ethanol price
- SC says jails are overcrowded by 150 %, laments plight of inmates
Environment & Ecology
- India to eliminate use of HFC-23 by 2030
Bilateral & International Relations
- Russia, India to set up network of irradiation centres
- Cabinet approves MoU between Exim Bank and the New Development Bank (NDB)
Key Facts for Prelims
- 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature
- Women of India Festival 2016
- IIM at Jammu
Polity & Governance
Cabinet approves revision of ethanol price
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved the mechanism for revision of ethanol price for supply to Public Sector Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) to carry out the Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) Programme.
- The revised administered price will facilitate OMCs to carry out the Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) Programme for the next sugar season 2016-17.
The new mechanism will be in the following manner:
- For the next sugar season 2016-17 during ethanol supply period from 1st December, 2016 to 30th November, 2017, the administered price of ethanol for the EBP Programme will be Rs.39/- per litre.
- Additionally, charges will be paid to the ethanol suppliers as per actuals in case of Excise Duty and VAT/GST and transportation charges as decided by OMCs.
- If the need arises to increase/reduce the retail selling price of Petrol by Public Sector OMCs, then such increase/reduction would proportionately factor in the requirement of maintaining the fixed cost of purchase of ethanol during the ethanol supply year.
- The prices of ethanol will be reviewed and suitably revised by Government at any time during the ethanol supply period that is from 1st December, 2016 to 30th November, 2017 depending upon the prevailing economic situation and other relevant factors.
- The Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) Programme was launched by the Central Government in 2003 to promote the use of alternative and environment friendly fuels.
- It was intervention sought to reduce import dependency for energy requirements and environment friendly measure to reduce vehicular pollution.
- However, since 2006, OMCs were not able to meet required quantity of ethanol demand against the tenders floated by them. The various constraints for it were like State Specific issues, Supplier related issues including Pricing issues of ethanol.
- In order to augment the supply of ethanol, a new mechanism for pricing of ethanol was placed in where Government decided delivered price of ethanol at OMC depots. The decision has helped in significantly improving the supply of ethanol.
SC says jails are overcrowded by 150 %, laments plight of inmates
In its judgment on a suo motu Public Interest Litigation (PIL), the Supreme Court has expressed concern over the pathetic condition of jails in the country.
- The court has also blamed Delhi and other state governments for paying “little or no attention” to the fundamental rights of under trials and convicts.
Key observations made by the court:
- Prisons are crammed with inmates by over one and a half times the permissible limit.
- “Fundamental rights and human rights of people, however they may be placed, cannot be ignored only because of their adverse circumstances.”
- It was “unfortunate that in spite of directions by the Court, the prison authorities have not been able to take any effective steps for reducing overcrowding in jails”.
- According to official data, two of every three persons incarcerated in India have not yet been convicted of any crime.
- The number of convicts in jails grew by 1.4% from 2012 to 2013, but the number of undertrials shot up by 9.3% during the period.
- Men make up more than 90% of all prison inmates. Nearly 2,000 children of women inmates live behind bars, 80% of those women being undertrials.
- Undertrials are younger than convicts — nearly half are under the age of 30 and over 70% have not completed school.
Inability of the government:
- Authorities have defied repeated orders of the Supreme Court to draw a “viable” plan of action to de-congest jails.
- Instead, prison authorities have banked on ad hoc proposals like the construction of additional barracks or jails, and these proposals have no time limits for implementation.
- The Ministry of Women and Child Development is yet to frame a Manual for Juveniles in Custody under the recently amended Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.
- The court has ordered the Ministry of Home Affairs to receive and collate plans of action for de-congesting jails from the various States and Union Territories in the next six months.
- Moreover, the SC directed the government to prepare a viable Plan of Action within the next six months and hand it over to the apex court by March 31, 2017.
Environment & Ecology
India to eliminate use of HFC-23 by 2030
Taking the lead on tackling climate change, India said it will eliminate the use of HFC-23, a greenhouse gas that harms the ozone layer, by 2030.
- The announcement came at a meeting of parties to the Montreal Protocol at Kigali in Rwanda where final negotiations are taking place to substantially reduce the use of HFCs (hydrofluorocarbons) by 2030.
- Indian companies will not be compensated for the costs involved in ensuring that these gases are not released.
Implications of the move:
- The move will potentially check emissions of HFC-23 equivalent to 100 million tonnes of CO2 over the next 15 years.
- With this domestic legislation to control the emissions of HFC-23, India is sending a strong signal to the world that it is serious about the climate change issue.
- With this move, India has also told the world that it will control emissions of HFC-23 on its own—without any financial support from developed countries.
What is HFC-23?
- HFC-23, a potent greenhouse gas with global warming potential of 14,800 times more than that of CO2, is a by-product of HCFC-22, which is used in industrial refrigeration.
What is Montreal Protocol?
- The Montreal Protocol is an international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production of numerous substances that are responsible for ozone depletion.
- It came into force in 1989.
- It is aimed at reducing the production and consumption of ozone depleting substances in order to protect the earth’s fragile ozone layer.
Bilateral & International Relations
Russia, India to set up network of irradiation centres
Russia and India signed an agreement to set up a network of integrated infrastructure for irradiation centres for food products.
- An agreement was signed by the United Innovation Corporation (UIC), a subsidiary of Rosatom, and the Indian Agricultural Association Hindustan Agro Co-Op Limited.
- The agreement will be implemented through a Joint Venture and aims to set up 25 integrated irradiation centres.
- In the first phase, seven centres will be set up in Maharashtra, which will begin with the upgradation of the current centre at Rahuri in Ahmednagar district.
- The 7 centres are likely to be established in Sindhurg, Satara, Solapur, JNPT, Jalana, Napur and Pune in the first phase.
- UIC will be a technology partner and will help set up the irradiation centres in India.
Significance of the Agreement:
- The agreement for the first time paves the way for establishment of network of integrated infrastructure irradiation centres in India to reduce agricultural losses.
- These irradiation centres will help in treatment of perishable food items to improve shelf life and cut post-harvest losses.
- It will further increase basket perishable items for irradiation process on a commercial scale ranging from flowers to fish.
- It will expand India-Russia cooperation in civil nuclear energy.
Cabinet approves MoU between Exim Bank and the New Development Bank (NDB)
The Union Cabinet has given its approval for signing of a MoU on General Cooperation with New Development Bank (NDB) or BRICS Bank and Export Import Bank of India (EXIM Bank).
- The MoU will be through the BRICS Interbank Cooperation Mechanism.
- The MoU will help enhance trade and economic relations among the BRICS countries.
- However, there is no financial implication involved with signing of the MoU.
- This MoU is a non-binding umbrella agreement.
- The participating institutions from the BRICS nations will be benefitted by this MoU.
Aim of the agreement:
- The MoU aims at establishing a cooperation framework in accordance with the national laws and regulations.
- Besides it also seeks for skills transfer and knowledge sharing amongst the signatories.
Need of the MoU:
- The establishment of the New Development Bank reflects the close relations among the BRICS countries and provides a powerful instrument for increasing their economic cooperation among them.
- The signing of MoU is necessary keeping in view the strategic relevance of cooperation for sustainable development and inclusive economic growth among BRICS countries.
- It also reflects cooperation extended by the BRICS members in various forms for promoting and facilitating trade of goods and services as well as investments in mutual projects.
- Five banks from the BRIC nations had established the BRICS Interbank Co-operation Mechanism to enhance trade and economic relations amongst the BRIC countries, and enterprises.
- The BRICS Interbank Co-operation Mechanism now proposes to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on General Co-operation with the New Development Bank.
About the Export Import Bank of India:
Export-Import Bank of India is the premier export finance institution of the country.
- It commenced operations in 1982 under the Export-Import Bank of India Act 1981.
- Government of India launched the institution with a mandate to not just enhance exports from India, but also to integrate the country’s foreign trade and investment with the overall economic growth.
- Like other Export Credit Agencies in the world, Exim Bank of India commenced its operations as a purveyor of export credit.
- Gradually, it has evolved into an institution that plays a major role in partnering Indian industries, particularly the Small and Medium Enterprises through a wide range of products and services offered at all stages of the business cycle, starting from import of technology and export product development to export production, export marketing, pre-shipment and post-shipment and overseas investment.
About the New Development Bank:
The New Development Bank (NDB), formerly referred to as the BRICS Development Bank, is a multilateral development bank operated by the BRICS states (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).
- The bank is headquartered in Shanghai, China.
- The first regional office of the NDB will be opened in Johannesburg, South Africa.
- Its first President is Kundapur Vaman Kamath.
- The New Development Bank was agreed to by BRICS leaders at the 5th BRICS summit held in Durban, South Africa in 2013. The bank, with authorized capital of $100 billion, started work last year.
- Unlike the World Bank, which assigns votes based on capital share, in the New Development Bank each participant country will be assigned one vote, and none of the countries will have veto power.
- The New Development Bank will mobilise resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS and other emerging economies and developing countries, to supplement existing efforts of multilateral and regional financial institutions for global growth and development.
- The establishment of the Bank will help India and other signatory countries to raise and avail resources for their infrastructure and sustainable development projects.
Key Facts for Prelims
2016 Nobel Prize for Literature
- The 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded to American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan.
- He was selected for “creating new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”
- He is the first musician to win the award.
Women of India Festival 2016
- The unique ‘Women of India Festival 2016’ of organic products by women was inaugurated at Dilli Haat, New Delhi.
- It is being organised and sponsored by the Union Ministry of Women & Child Development.
- The Festival will offer on sale the biggest selection of organic products ranging from food, fabrics and furniture to wellness, personal care and solar products.
- The Festival is also intended to highlight the health and environmental advantages of organic goods, provide a platform for women engaged in this economy and encourage the development of sustainable and easily accessible sales outlets for organic producers from remote areas.
- It celebrates and promotes women entrepreneurs from across India. This initiative is a move to benefit women entrepreneurs, and also actively promote organic food and products.
IIM at Jammu
- The Union Cabinet approved the establishment and operationalisation of the IIM in Jammu.
- The Cabinet also approved the formation of an IIM Jammu Society under the Societies Registration Act, 1860.
- IIM Jammu will be run and managed by the Society with a Board of Governors (BOGs) to be constituted by the Central government. It will be responsible for the establishment and operationalisation of the institute.
- At present, there are 19 IIMs.
- The latest 6 IIMs that were started in 2015 are located in Amritsar, Sirmaur, Nagpur, Bodhgaya, Sambalpur and Vishakhapatnam.