Government Schemes & Policies
- Pradhan Mantri Ujwala Yojana Launched in Telangana
- Govt extends FAME scheme by 6 months
Bilateral & International Relations
- India will work with China on OPECs “Asian Premium” issue
- United Nations launches UN Road Safety Trust Fund
Defence & Security Issues
- Prevention of Money Laundering Act will need more changes
Key Facts for Prelims
- Babur cruise missile
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Government Schemes & Policies
Pradhan Mantri Ujwala Yojana Launched in Telangana
Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) was launched in the state of Telangana on the birth anniversary of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar.
About Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana:
Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana aims to provide five crore LPG connections to women in Below Poverty Line (BPL) households over the next three financial years, at a cost of Rs. 8,000 crore.
- The scheme is being implemented by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.
- It is first social welfare scheme implemented by Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.
- The scheme will be partially funded from the savings accruing to the government from LPG users who gave up their subsidy as part of the Give It Up programme.
- The new users who receive LPG connections under the scheme will not have to pay the security deposit, while the Rs. 1,600 administrative costs, cost of pressure regulator booklet and safety hose will be borne by the government.
- The households will be selected using the socio-economic and caste census data. Consumers will have the option to purchase gas stove and refills on EMI.
Some of the objectives of the scheme are:
- Empowering women and protecting their health.
- Reducing the serious health hazards associated with cooking based on fossil fuel.
- Reducing the number of deaths in India due to unclean cooking fuel.
- Preventing young children from significant number of acute respiratory illnesses caused due to indoor air pollution by burning the fossil fuel.
Why should we opt for LPG?
- About 75 crore Indians, especially women and girls, are exposed to severe household air pollution (HAP) from the use of solid fuels such as biomass, dung cakes and coal for cooking.
- A report from the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare places HAP as the second leading risk factor contributing to India’s disease burden.
- According to the World Health Organization, solid fuel use is responsible for about 13% of all mortality and morbidity in India (measured as Disability-Adjusted Life Years), and causes about 40% of all pulmonary disorders, nearly 30% of cataract incidences, and over 20% each of ischemic heart disease, lung cancer and lower respiratory infection.
Govt extends FAME scheme by 6 months
The government has decided to extend the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid) and Electric Vehicles (FAME) scheme by six months until 30 September 2018, or till the time the second phase of the scheme is approved by it.
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.
Bilateral & International Relations
India will work with China on OPECs “Asian Premium” issue
India is planning to coordinate with China and other Asian countries to voice against the “Asian Premium” being charged by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
- Soon, the countries will chalk out the strategy that would result in getting better price from OPEC countries.
What is Asian premium?
Asian Premium is the extra charge being collected by OPEC countries from Asian countries when selling oil.
- The premium is determined in large part by the official selling prices (OSPs) set by Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, and Kuwait, which supply about 15 percent of the world’s crude among them.
- They set differential prices against benchmarks on a monthly basis, adjusting them to account for regional variations.
Why countries are against Asian premium?
- India, which sources 85% of its crude oil supplies from OPEC member countries, wants producers to offer discounts rather than charge a premium, as today it has become buyer’s market.
- The direction of crude flow from West Asia has now shifted to Asia. Besides, with OPEC deciding not to reduce production, there is a tilt in the demand-supply balance.
- Earlier, crude flow was from West Asia to North America and the pricing also depended on the market. Now, with the shale revolution, the flow has shifted to Asia.
- If crude is received at a fair price without paying Asian Premium, gross refining margins will improve and it will result in competitively priced petroleum products.
- The removal of discriminatory Asian Premium will allow poor Asian countries including India to provide energy to people who have been deprived of energy so far.
- India has emphasized implementation of ‘Responsible and Reasonable Pricing’ by oil producing countries, given importance of Asian markets for OPEC, particularly fast growing energy markets in the region as they are reliable and continued customer.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is a group of oil-producing nations that was first established in Baghdad, Iraq, in 1961.
- OPEC is one of the most powerful international organizations in the world and was a major player in the shift towards state control over natural resources. It has a massive impact on oil production and price around the world.
- Before OPEC was formed, the oil market was dominated by a group of multinational companies. The formation of OPEC was a major act of sovereignty by the founding nations, and it helped ensure that private companies could not unilaterally cut prices throughout the world.
- Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela are the founding Members of the Organization.
- Today, OPEC is comprised of 13 members. They are:
- Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (six in the Middle East)
- Algeria, Angola, Gabon, Libya, Nigeria (five in Africa)
- Ecuador and Venezuela (two in South America)
United Nations launches UN Road Safety Trust Fund
United Nations has launched UN Road Safety Trust Fund to improve road safety worldwide to save lives and prevent the loss of opportunity associated with road accidents.
- UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) is secretariat for the trust fund.
About United Nations Road Safety Trust Fund:
The fund aims to accelerate progress in improving global road safety by bridging gaps in mobilization of resources for effective action at all levels.
- It will mobilize resources from governments, intergovernmental or non-governmental organizations (NGOs), private sector, philanthropic organizations and individuals.
- It will support efforts along five pillars of Global Plan for Decade of Action for Road Safety (2011-20), which include improved safety of road infrastructure and broader transport networks; strengthened road safety management capacities; enhanced safety of vehicles; improved behaviour of road users and improved post-crash care.
- The fund will serve as catalyst for much-needed progress towards road safety targets of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
- SDG targets 3.6 and 11.2 aim to halve number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents and provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems as well as improve road safety for all.
- The fund has potential to galvanise global efforts to address road safety situation, building on progress made and experience gained over Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020.
- It is estimated that every $1,500 contributed to the Fund could save one life, prevent 10 serious injuries and leverage $51,000 towards investments in road safety.
About Resolution on road safety:
- The UN General Assembly (UNGA) also adopted resolution on road safety, sponsored by Russia.
- It calls for host of measures to prevent road accidents and to minimising resulting damage.
- It has urged adoption of policies and measures to implement vehicle safety regulations to ensure that all new motor vehicles meet applicable minimum regulations for protection of occupants and other road users, with seat belts, airbags and active safety systems fitted as standard equipment.
SDG goal related to road safety:
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by United Nations Member States in 2015, contains targets on road safety in two of its 17 Sustainable Development Goals:
- Sustainable Development Goal 3: “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages”.
- Target 3.6: By 2020, halve the number of global deaths from road traffic accidents.
- Sustainable Development Goal 11: “Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”.
Defence & Security Issues
Prevention of Money Laundering Act will need more changes
India will have to make money laundering an explicitly standalone offence to upgrade its compliance ahead of the on-site mutual evaluation by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which is due in November-December 2020.
What’s the issue?
- As per FATF recommendations, money laundering should be made a standalone offence. However, despite several amendments, the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) remains a predicate-offence-oriented law. This means a case under the Act depends on the fate of cases pursued by primary agencies such as the CBI, the Income Tax Department or the police.
- FATF had undertaken mutual evaluation of India in 2010 when the body expressed satisfaction with the measures taken by the country.
- However, in its report, the FATF highlighted a number of lacunae in the then extant legislation, for which it suggested changes.
About Financial Action Task Force (FATF):
- FATF is an inter‐governmental policy making body with ministerial mandate to establish international standards for combating money laundering and terrorist financing.
- The FATF was created in 1989 at the behest of the G7, and is headquartered In Paris.
- Its objectives are to set standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to integrity of international financial system.
- The FATF monitors the progress of its members in implementing necessary measures, reviews money laundering and terrorist financing techniques and counter-measures, and promotes the adoption and implementation of appropriate measures globally.
- In collaboration with other international stakeholders, the FATF works to identify national-level vulnerabilities with the aim of protecting the international financial system from misuse.
- A large number of international organizations participate in the FATF as observers, each of which has some involvement in anti-money laundering activities.
- Organizations such as Interpol, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and World Bank are observers.
- Initially it was only dealing with developing policies to combat money laundering. But in 2001 its purpose was expanded to act against terrorism financing.
- Currently, it comprises two regional organisations (the EU and the Gulf Co-operation Council) and 35 member jurisdictions, including India, UK, US, China and the European Commission.
Key Facts for Prelims
Babur cruise missile
- Pakistan has successfully test fired an enhanced version of indigenously-built Babur cruise missile.
- ‘Babur Weapon System-1 (B)’ is a low-flying, terrain-hugging missile, which carries certain stealth features and is capable of carrying various types of warheads. It can deliver conventional and non-conventional weapons with a range of 700 kilometres.
- It incorporates advanced aerodynamics and avionics that can strike targets both at land and sea with high accuracy.
- It is equipped with the Terrain Contour Matching (TERCOM) and all time Digital Scene Matching and Area Co-relation (DSMAC) technologies, which enable it to engage in various types of targets with pinpoint accuracy even in the absence of GPS navigation.
What is Cruise Missile?
- It is an unmanned self-propelled (till the time of impact) guided missile.
- It flies within the earth’s atmosphere and use jet engine technology to propel itself and fly during its major portion of its flight path at approximately constant speed.
- It is designed to deliver a large warhead over long distances with high precision.
- Modern cruise missiles are self-navigating and are capable of travelling at supersonic or high subsonic speeds and are able to fly on non-ballistic, extremely low-altitude trajectory.