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Current Affairs Analysis

15th December 2017 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

11th Ministerial Conference (MC11) of the WTO; Section 126 (1) (b) of The Representation of the People Act, 1951; India BPO Promotion Scheme (IBPS); North East BPO Promotion Scheme (NEBPS); What is Sakhi scheme? What is Cochlear implant? CSR Summit for Pioneering Cochlear Implant Surgery; Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR); What is ADIP scheme? ATL Community Day; Atal Tinkering Lab Community Drive Initiative; Atal Tinkering Labs; Atal Innovation Mission; ‘Peace Clause’; ECO-NIWAS; 14th December: Energy Conservation Day; National Energy Conservation Awards; Morocco; Plants that can glow; EKUVERIN Exercise 2017; etc.
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
December 15, 2017

Contents

Polity & Governance

  • Violation of Section 126 (1) (b) of The Representation of the People Act, 1951

Government Schemes & Policies

  • BPO Promotion Schemes put small towns on Global Digital Map
  • Sakhi: One stop centres in strengthening multi sectoral response to violence

Issues related to Health & Education

  • CSR Summit for Pioneering Cochlear Implant Surgery
  • NITI Aayog launches ATL Community Day

Economy

  • WTO Buenos Aires meet ends with no consensus on key issues

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

  • ECO-NIWAS launched on Energy Conservation Day

Bilateral & International Relations

  • India and Morocco sign MoU for enhanced cooperation in healthcare

Defence & Security Issues

  • EKUVERIN Exercise 2017

Science & Technology

  • MIT scientists create plants that can glow

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Polity & Governance

Violation of Section 126 (1) (b) of The Representation of the People Act, 1951

The Election Commission issued a show cause notice to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for “prima facie” violating the provisions of the election law and the model code by giving interviews to TV channels in Gujarat where the final phase of polls is due.

Rahul-Gandhi-tv-interview

What the Section 126 (1) (b) of The Representation of the People Act, 1951 says?

  • The Section 126 (I) (b) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 prohibits display to the public of any ‘election matter’, inter-alia, on TV, during period of 48 hours ending with hour fixed for conclusion of poll.

About Model Code of Conduct (MCC):

  • Model Code of Conduct are the guidelines issued by the Election Commission of India for conduct of political parties and candidates during elections mainly with respect to speeches, polling day, polling booths, election manifestos, processions and general conduct.
  • The aim of these Model Code of Conduct is to ensure free and fair elections.
  • The Model Code of Conduct comes into force immediately on announcement of the election schedule by the commission. The Code remains in force till the end of the electoral process.
  • The code does not have any specific statutory basis. It has only a persuasive effect.
  • It contains what is known as “rules of electoral morality”. But this lack of statutory backing does not prevent the Commission from enforcing it.
  • The Commission issued the code for the first time in 1971 (5th Election) and revised it from time to time.
[Ref: PIB]

 

Government Schemes & Policies

BPO Promotion Schemes put small towns on Global Digital Map

The government has so far allotted over 35,000 out of 48,300 seats under India BPO promotion scheme that aims to put smaller towns on the global digital map, and is likely to meet the full target in six months.

India-BPO-Promotion-Scheme--iastoppers

About India BPO Promotion Scheme (IBPS):

  • IBPS was envisaged under Digital India Programme.

Aim:

  • IBPS aims to incentivize establishment of 48,300 seats in respect of BPO/ITES operations across the country [excluding certain Cities and the States in North East Region (NER)]. 
  • It is distributed among each State in proportion of State’s population with an outlay of Rs. 493 Crore.

Salient Features of the scheme:

  • Financial Support: Up to 50% of expenditure incurred on BPO/ITES operations towards capital expenditure (CAPEX) and/or operational expenditure (OPEX) on admissible items, subject to an upper ceiling of 1 Lakh/Seat in the form of Viability Gap Funding (VGF).
  • Under the IBPS, the quantum of financial support shall be determined through an open bid system, subject to overall ceiling of Rs. 1 lakh per seat.
  • Special incentives toward employment of women & specially enabled persons.
  • Incentive for generating employment beyond target & wider dispersal within state including rural areas.
  • Encouragement for local entrepreneurs.
  • Special consideration for Hilly states of HP, J&K and UK.

Significance of the scheme:

  • This scheme has potential to create employment opportunities of around 1.5 lakh direct jobs considering three shift operations. It may also create good number of indirect jobs.
  • IBPS would help in capacity building in smaller cities in terms of infra & manpower and would become basis for next wave of IT/ITES led growth. 

iastoppers-India-BPO-Promotion-Scheme

About North East BPO Promotion Scheme (NEBPS):

  • The North East BPO Promotion Scheme (NEBPS), envisaged under Digital India Programme , seeks to incentivize establishment of 5,000 seats in respect of BPO/ITES operations in North East Region (NER).
  • It offers to create employment opportunities for about 15,000 persons considering three shifts BPO/ITES operations.
  • The NEBPS is to be implemented in all the eight (8) States of NER viz. Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, and Tripura.

Background:

BPOs in small towns or even rural areas may help India retain its cost arbitrage – many BPOs have already migrated its voice processes to cheaper countries.

[Ref: PIB, Economic Times, MEITY]

 

Sakhi: One stop centres in strengthening multi sectoral response to violence

The Union Ministry of Women and Child Development has inaugurated a National Workshop on Role of Sakhi One Stop Centres in Strengthening Multi Sectoral Response to Violence in New Delhi.

One stop centres sakhi iastoppers

  • The conference provides platform to understand, discuss and deliberate on strengthening the multisector response to address violence against women through the Sakhi One Stop Centres across the country.

Participants:

  • Around 400 Sakhi- One Stop Centre Functionaries and nodal officials from State Department of Women and Child Development from 33 States/UTs across the country, are participating in the workshop.

What is Sakhi scheme?

Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD) has formulated a Centrally Sponsored One Stop Centre Scheme, popularly known as Sakhi scheme for setting up One Stop Centre.

Sakhi-scheme-iastoppers

  • It is a sub-scheme of Umbrella Scheme for National Mission for Empowerment of women including Indira Gandhi Mattritav Sahyaog Yojana.
  • The Sakhi scheme is being implemented since 1st April 2015.
  • The scheme aims to facilitate access to an integrated range of services including medical aid, police assistance, legal aid/case management, psychosocial counselling, and temporary support services to women affected by violence.
  • Under the scheme, it has been envisaged that One Stop Centres (OSC) would be set up across the country in a phased manner.
  • The One Stop Centre will provide support and assistance to women affected by violence, both in private and public spaces.
[Ref: PIB]

 

Issues related to Health & Education

CSR Summit for Pioneering Cochlear Implant Surgery

What is Cochlear implant?

Cochlear Implant is an electronic device having two parts (External and Internal). Internal part is surgically implanted in the skull (Cochlear) by ENT surgeons.

Cochlear-Implants-chinese-ias

  • Post-operative rehabilitation is undertaken by Audiologist and speech language pathologist and special educator of Hearing Impaired.
  • Parent have very important role in stimulating child to learn speech and language at home and maintain the external part (Processor).

COCHLEAR-IMPLANT (1) iastoppers

The cochlear implant technology may help children who:

  • Have severe to profound hearing loss in both ears.
  • Receive little or no benefit from hearing aids.
  • No Development Delay or Mental Retardation.

cochlear-implant

Why in news?

  • Recently, a CSR Summit for Pioneering Cochlear Implant Surgery was inaugurated under the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) of Airport Authority of India (AAI) through Artificial Limbs Manufacturing Corporation of India (ALIMCO).

Significance of this summit:

  • This major CSR initiative of AAI will help the children to completely overcome their hearing disability, thereby enabling them to hear and speak coherently and making them fully independent to lead a normal and productive life.
  • This effort will not only bring these underprivileged children to the mainstream of life but will also contribute to national economy.

Cochlear Implants in India:

  • An estimate shows that around 35,000 children need Cochlear Implant annually in India.
  • Government of India has made provision to sponsor 500 numbers under the ADIP Scheme which is minuscule in comparison to actual requirement.
  • Till date more than 1000 number of Cochlear Implant Surgeries have been successfully conducted in the country under the ADIP Government of India and CSR funds.

What is Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)?

  • Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) acknowledges the corporation’s duty that the corporation owes to the community within which it operates. It regards the community as an equal stakeholder.

CSR in India:

  • Today, CSR in India has gone beyond merely ‘Charity and Donations’.
  • As per provision of Company Act 2013, it is now mandatory for all companies to contribute 2% of their 3-year average annual net profit on their CSR activities as mentioned in Schedule VII of the acts with effect from April, 2014.
  • Further added in Scheduled VII there is provision of aids and appliances to Divyangjans under ‘Promoting Health and Care including preventive health care’.

Scope of CSR:

  • Activities undertaken by corporates under their CSR obligation could prove a game changer for providing sustainable development in Social Sector.
  • Disability sector is one of the area which needs to be addressed for inclusive growth of the society and CSR provide the huge opportunity to serve the persons with disabilities that fall under vulnerable section of society.

What is ADIP scheme?

The Assistance to Disabled persons for purchasing / fitting of aids / appliances (ADIP) scheme is one of the major initiative of the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, Govt. of India.

ADIP-scheme-iastoppers

  • This scheme is implemented to assist the needy disabled person in procuring durable, sophisticated and scientifically manufactured, modern, standard aids and appliances to promote physical, social, psychological rehabilitation of Persons with Disabilities by reducing the effects of disabilities and at the same time enhance their economic potential.
  • Assistive devices are given to PwDs with an aim to improve their independent functioning, and to arrest the extent of disability and occurrence of secondary disability.
  • The scheme is implemented through implementing agencies such as the NGOs, National Institutes under this Ministry and ALIMCO (a PSU).
  • The aids and appliances supplied under the Scheme shall conform to BIS specifications to the extent possible.

ADIP-scheme-iastoppers2

[Ref: PIB, Disabilityaffairs.gov.in]

 

NITI Aayog launches ATL Community Day

NITI Aayog’s Atal Innovation Mission has decided to celebrate Atal Tinkering Lab’s Community Day on December 15th.

ATL-Community-Day-iastoppers

About the ATL Community Day:

  • The day will mark the Atal Tinkering Lab Community Drive Initiative in which 25 young Mentors will engage with more than 200 students who are not enrolled in the formal education system.
  • These mentors will visit four locations in New Delhi to conduct brief sessions with children from various NGOs, on how innovations can help resolve the problems in the communities.

About Atal Tinkering Lab Community Drive Initiative:

  • The initiative is aimed at maximizing impact of Atal Tinkering Labs by extending innovation to children in community who do not have access to formal educational institutions.
  • Its purpose is to provide these children with same educational tools as the students in Atal Tinkering Labs to enable them to become problem solvers.
  • The NGOs participating in it include organizations working with disabled children, street and working children, and girls from the weaker sections of society.

About Atal Tinkering Labs:

Atal Tinkering Lab Initiative for Young Innovators

  • Atal Tinkering Labs are meant to be non-prescriptive by nature, and mentors are expected to be enablers rather than instructors.
  • More than 900 Atal Tinkering Labs have been established across the country as a part of the Atal Innovation Mission.
  • They are dedicated works spaces where students from Class 6th to Class 12th learn innovation skills and develop ideas that will go on to transform India.

About Atal Innovation Mission:

Atal-Innovation-Lab-1 iastoppers

  • NITI Aayog’s Atal Innovation Mission is among one of the flagship programs of the Government to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in the country and to set up the Atal Tinkering Labs across the country.
  • It aims to give substantial boost to the innovation ecosystem and to catalyze the entrepreneurial spirit in the country.
  • It prime objective is to provide an innovation promotion platform involving academics, researchers and entrepreneurs, drawing upon national and international experiences to foster a culture of innovation in India.
  • It will also promote a network of world-class innovation hubs, Start-up businesses and other self-employment activities, particularly in technology driven areas.
[Ref: PIB]

 

Economy

WTO Buenos Aires meet ends with no consensus on key issues

The 11th ministerial conference (MC11) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) ended without any substantial outcome as consensus eluded the 164-member body.

WTO-Buenos-Aires-indiaatwto-iastoppers2

  • The meeting ended in stalemate after U.S. criticism and member country vetoes, raising questions about the body’s ability to govern increasingly disputed global trade.

India’s achievements at MC11:

WTO-Buenos-Aires-indiaatwto-iastoppers

  • The outcome of the conference was a positive one for India as the country was able to secure the interests of its farmers as well food security for the poor.
  • India was successful stopping any of the new issues like investment facilitation and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) from entering the ambit of the WTO.
  • India became the second largest proponent of issues after the EU as it submitted proposals on six issues — public stock-holding, special safeguards mechanism, domestic regulation, domestic support, trade facilitation in services, and eCommerce.
  • India has managed to score a diplomatic win at MC11 by ensuring there is no dilution in the peace clause extending protection to all minimum support price (MSP) programmes for foodgrains, no commitments to curb fisheries subsidies and no fast-tracking of e-commerce talks.

India’s-achievements-at-MC11-iastoppers2

What is ‘Peace Clause’?

  • Currently, an interim mechanism called the ‘Peace Clause’ is in place, as per which WTO members had agreed not to challenge developing nations at the WTO Dispute Settlement Mechanism if they breached the cap of the product-specific domestic support (which is 10% of the value of production).
  • The ‘Peace Clause’ is available to developing nations, including India, till a permanent solution is found to public stockholding for food security purposes.

What is ‘Peace Clause’ iastoppers

Why is it difficult to invoke?

  • The ‘Peace Clause’ is difficult to invoke even in its current form because prior to using it, the country concerned will have to first admit that it ‘is breaching’ or ‘is about to breach’ the ceiling entitlement to give product-specific domestic support.
  • Also, the ‘Peace Clause’ can be used only for public stockholding programmes that have been in existence on the date at which it was agreed upon at the Bali Ministerial Conference in December 2013, and not for new programmes on public stockholding for food security purposes.
[Ref: The Hindu, Economic Times, Indian Express, Live Mint]

 

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

ECO-NIWAS launched on Energy Conservation Day

On the occasion of Energy Conservation Day (14th December), the President of India unveiled the interactive online portal, ECO-NIWAS (Energy COnservation – New Indian Way for Affordable & Sustainable homes) for increasing awareness to build sustainable and energy efficient homes in the country.

ECO-NIWAS-iastoppers

14th December: Energy Conservation Day

  • The Energy Conservation Day is organized on 14th December each year by Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), under Ministry of Power.
  • The day is organized with an aim to demonstrate India’s achievements in energy efficiency and conservation, while working for its ambition of holistic development as part of the nation’s overall effort towards climate change mitigation.

National Energy Conservation Awards:

  • As part of its awareness outreach, Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) recognizes and encourages endeavours of industries in reducing energy consumption by felicitating them with National Energy Conservation Awards.

National-Energy-Conservation-Awards-iastoppers

National Painting Competition on Energy Conservation:

  • BEE also awards prizes to the national winners of the annual National Painting Competition on Energy Conservation.
[Ref: PIB]

 

Bilateral & International Relations

India and Morocco sign MoU for enhanced cooperation in healthcare

India and Morocco signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for enhanced cooperation in the health sector.

India Morocco sign MoU iastoppers

Main areas of cooperation under MoU:

  • Communicable Diseases.
  • Maternal, child and neonatal health.
  • Hospital twinning for exchange of good practices.
  • Drug Regulation and Pharmaceutical quality control.
  • Training in administration and management of health services and Hospitals
  • Non-communicable diseases (NCDs), including child cardiovascular diseases and cancer;

Another MoU:

  • Besides, another MoU was signed between Jawaharlal Institute of Post Graduate Medical Education and Research (JIPMER), Puducherry and Marrakech Mohamed VI University Hospital, Morocco. Under it, both Institutes agreed to collaborate in field of telemedicine.

Location of Morocco:

Morocco map ias

[Ref: PIB]

 

Defence & Security Issues

EKUVERIN Exercise 2017

The eighth edition of India, Maldives bilateral EKUVERIN Exercise 2017 began at Belagavi, Karnataka.

EKUVERIN-2017-iastoppers

Key facts:

  • Starting 2009, Indian Army and the Maldives National Defence Force have been holding Exercise Ekuverin, meaning ‘friends’ in the Maldivian language, in their countries on alternate years.
  • The seventh edition of the exercise was held at Kadhdhoo, Lammu Atoll, Maldives in December, 2016.
  • The aim of the exercise is to conduct military training with emphasis on amphibious & counter insurgency/ counter terrorism operations with a view to enhance interoperability between the two armies.
  • The focus of the exercise is to acquaint both armies with each other’s operating procedures in the backdrop of a counter-insurgency or counter-terrorist operations in an urban or semi-urban environment under the United Nations (UN) Charter.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Science & Technology

MIT scientists create plants that can glow

Scientists from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), US have found a novel way to induce plants to give off dim light by embedding specialised nanoparticles into their leaves.

Plants-that-can-glow-iastoppers

  • The purpose of this experiment was to make plant function as a desk lamp, powered by the energy metabolism of the plant itself and not by electricity connection.

About the novel technique:

  • To create the glowing plants, scientists has used to luciferase, an enzyme that gives fireflies their glow. Luciferase acts on molecule called luciferin, causing it to emit light.
  • Moreover, they had used another molecule called co-enzyme A which helps process along by removing reaction by-product that can inhibit luciferase activity.
  • They had packaged each of these three components into silica nanoparticle carrier about 10 nanometres in diameter to carry luciferase. They also used slightly larger particles of the polymers PLGA and chitosan to carry luciferin and coenzyme A, respectively.

How did it possible?

  • To get the particles into plant leaves, the researchers first suspended the particles in a solution. Plants were immersed in the solution and then exposed to high pressure, allowing the particles to enter the leaves through tiny pores called stomata.
  • Particles releasing luciferin and coenzyme A were designed to accumulate in the extracellular space of the mesophyll, an inner layer of the leaf, while the smaller particles carrying luciferase enter the cells that make up the mesophyll.
  • The particles gradually release luciferin, which then enters the plant cells, where luciferase performs the chemical reaction that makes luciferin glow.

Utility

  • This technology could also be used to provide low- intensity indoor lighting, or to transform trees into self- powered streetlights.
  • The technology could also be used to provide lights bright enough to illuminate a workspace or even an entire street, as well as low-intensity indoor lighting. It is considered as major step towards using plants to illuminate the workspace.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

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