Polity & Governance
- India’s Umang App, Aadhaar win awards at World Government Summit
- Don’t infringe our autonomy: Prasar Bharati to govt
Government Schemes & Policies
- Facilitation Workshop under Open Acreage Licensing Programme (OALP)
- Government extends anti-narcotics scheme for 3 more years
- Govt drops the idea of an India EV policy
Issues related to Health & Education
- Ramalingaswami Re-entry Fellowship Programme
- Yes Bank lists country’s first $600m MTN bond on IndiaINX
Bilateral & International Relations
- Venezuela, Libya lose UN vote for third time
Science & Technology
- Smart museums to give ‘virtual’ tours and 3D view of rare artifacts
Key Facts for Prelims
- India’s first radio festival
- India Pharma 2018 and India Medical Device 2018
- ‘Paschim Lehar’
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Polity & Governance
India’s Umang App, Aadhaar win awards at World Government Summit
India’s Aadhaar and Umang App have won awards at recently concluded 6th World Government Summit 2018 in Dubai.
- Umang App won in Best m-Government Service Award for Accessible Government Category and Aadhaar won in the Best Government Emerging Technologies Award.
All about UMANG App:
- The UMANG App was launched with an aim to make the government accessible on the mobile phone of the citizens.
- UMANG stands for ‘Unified Mobile Application for New-age Governance’ and is envisaged to make e-governance.
- Umang is an initiative to promote Digital India program.
- The app was developed by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and National e-Governance Division (NeGD).
Key features of UMANG App
- The UMANG App provides a unified approach where you can install one application to avail multiple government services.
- It contains 162 services of 33 departments or applications and 4 States.
- It is a single mobile app that have an access to 1200 services of various government offices from Centre, State and utility services.
- It provides all pan India e-Gov services like Aadhaar and Digilocker on one single platform.
- Whether one needs to pay utility bills, file income tax, book a gas cylinder, know about your Provident fund account or have Aadhaar related query, UMANG provides all these services.
Don’t infringe our autonomy: Prasar Bharati to govt
Public broadcaster Prasar Bharati (PB) has turned down a resolution moved by the Union ministry of information and broadcasting (I&B) to appoint a serving IAS officer to its board, and deferred its proposal to bring in professionals to head the news service units of Doordarshan and All India Radio.
- The Prasar Bharati Board refused to appoint a serving IAS officer as member (personnel) on grounds that the appointment would go against the norms laid down in The Prasar Bharati (Broadcasting Corporation of India) Act, 1990.
- The board concluded that accepting the resolutions moved by the ministry would “amount to infringing Prasar Bharati’s autonomy”.
The Prasar Bharati (Broadcasting Corporation of India) Act, 1990:
- As per the PB Act of 1990 the Prasar Bharati Board consists of a chairman, a CEO, two whole-time members for finance and personnel, six part-time members, heads of Doordarshan and All India Radio and one representative of the I&B ministry.
- The PB Act states that the President of India will appoint the Board members decided by a selection committee which is headed by the Vice President of India and includes the Chairman of the Press Council of India and a nominee of the President.
- The ministry does not have a direct role in appointment of the chairman and whole-time members of the Board. Even, there is no provision to have a serving bureaucrat on the board.
About Prasar Bharati:
- Prasar Bharati is a statutory autonomous body established under the Prasar Bharati Act and came into existence in 1997.
- It is the Public Service Broadcaster of the country.
- The objectives of public service broadcasting are achieved in terms of Prasar Bharati Act through All India Radio and Doordarshan.
Government Schemes & Policies
Facilitation Workshop under Open Acreage Licensing Programme (OALP)
To handhold and apprise the prospective investor community about the salient features of Hydrocarbon Exploration & Licensing Policy (HELP) framework and details about the ebidding process, the government of India successfully concluded a facilitation workshop under Open Acreage Licensing Programme (OALP) in Ahmedabad recently.
About Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OALP):
- Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OALP), a part of the government’s Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP), gives an option to a company looking for exploring hydrocarbons to select the exploration blocks on its own, without waiting for the formal bid round from the Government.
- The objective of OLAP is to increase India’s indigenous oil and gas production by maximising the potential of already discovered hydrocarbon resources in the country.
- OALP offers single license to explore conventional and unconventional oil and gas resources to propel investment in and provide operational flexibility to the investors.
- It is departure from the current licensing policy of government identifying the oil and gas blocks and then putting them on auction.
- Under it, Government will conduct auction of oil and gas blocks twice a year, with the first round being held in July 2017.
- The selection of oil blocks will be based on seismic and well data provided by Directorate-General of Hydrocarbons in National Data Repository which offers total of 160TB data of India’s 26 sedimentary basins.
- The OALP auction will be held under the overhauled exploration licensing policy, allowing pricing and marketing freedom to operators and shifts to a revenue sharing model.
About Hydrocarbon Exploration & Licensing Policy (HELP):
The Hydrocarbon Exploration & Licensing Policy (HELP) opens up India’ entire sedimentary basin for investment from domestic and foreign players under a simplified, transparent and investor -friendly fiscal and administrative regime.
Objectives of HELP:
- Enhance domestic oil and gas production
- Bring substantial investment
- Generate sizable employment
- Enhance transparency and
- Reduce administrative discretion
Four main elements of HELP:
- Uniform license for exploration and production of all forms of hydrocarbon.
- An open acreage policy.
- Easy to administer revenue sharing model.
- Marketing and pricing freedom for the crude oil and natural gas produced.
Key features of HELP:
- There will be a uniform licensing system which will cover all hydrocarbons, i.e. oil, gas, coal bed methane etc. under a single license and policy framework.
- Contracts will be based on “biddable revenue sharing”. Bidders will be required to quote revenue share in their bids and this will be a key parameter for selecting the winning bid. They will quote a different share at two levels of revenue called “lower revenue point” and “higher revenue point”. Revenue share for intermediate points will be calculated by linear interpolation. The bidder giving the highest net present value of revenue share to the Government, as per transparent methodology, will get the maximum marks under this parameter.
- An Open Acreage Licensing Policy will be implemented whereby a bidder may apply to the Government seeking exploration of any block not already covered by exploration. The Government will examine the Expression of Interest and justification. If it is suitable for award, Govt. will call for competitive bids after obtaining necessary environmental and other clearances. This will enable a faster coverage of the available geographical area.
- A concessional royalty regime will be implemented for deep water and ultra-deep water areas. These areas shall not have any royalty for the first seven years, and thereafter shall have a concessional royalty of 5% (in deep water areas) and 2% (in ultra-deep water areas). In shallow water areas, the royalty rates shall be reduced from 10% to 7.5%.
- The contractor will have freedom for pricing and marketing of gas produced in the domestic market on arms length basis. To safeguard the Government revenue, the Government’s share of profit will be calculated based on the higher of prevailing international crude price or actual price.
Significance of HELP:
- The new policy regime marks a generational shift and modernization of the oil and gas exploration policy.
- It is expected to stimulate new exploration activity for oil, gas and other hydrocarbons and eventually reduce import dependence.
- It is also expected to create substantial new job opportunities in the petroleum sector. The introduction of the concept of revenue sharing is a major step in the direction of “minimum government maximum governance”, as it will not be necessary for the Government to verify the costs incurred by the contractor.
- Marketing and pricing freedom will further simplify the process. These will remove the discretion in the hands of the Government, reduce disputes, avoid opportunities for corruption, reduce administrative delays and thus stimulate growth.
Government extends anti-narcotics scheme for 3 more years
Taking into consideration the 40 lakh drug addicts in the country, the Union government has extended the period of the ‘Assistance to States and UTs for Narcotics Control’ scheme for the three years i.e. from 2017-18 to 2019-20 -with an estimated budget of Rs 21 crore.
- The scheme was first launched on October 24, 2004 for a period of five and later extended twice in subsequent years.
About the ‘Assistance to States and UTs for Narcotics Control’ scheme:
- The scheme aims to combat illicit trafficking in drugs and psychotropic substance.
- The purpose of the scheme is to assist state governments and Union Territories which are contributing in controlling the inter-state and cross border drug trafficking.
- Financial assistance will be provided to all the anti- narcotics agencies for strengthening their enforcement capabilities to combat illicit trafficking in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.
- Financial assistance is also proposed to be provided for all capacity building activities, including training of personnel.
- The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) being the national nodal agencyfor drug administration will process the requests from state governments and UTs for financial assistance for improving their enforcement capabilities in dealing with the supply side of the drug menace.
About Narcotics Control Bureau:
The Narcotics Control Bureau is the apex coordinating agency.
- The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 which came into effect from the 14th November, 1985 made an express provision for constituting a Central Authority for the purpose of exercising the powers and functions of the Central Government under the Act.
- In presence of this provision, the Government of India constituted the Narcotics Control Bureau on the 17th of March, 1986.
- The Director General of NCB is an officer of the Indian Police Service (IPS) or the Indian Revenue Service (IRS).
- The Narcotics Control Bureau is also represented on the Economic Intelligence Council.
- NCB is affiliated to Home Ministry, which was made responsible for administering The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985.
Need to curb the drug menace:
- According to the latest assessments, there are approximately 40 lakh drug addicts in India but the actual figure may be still higher.
- The most common drugs of abuse are ‘ganja’, ‘hashish’, ‘opium’ and ‘heroin’. The abuse of pharmaceutical preparations like ‘buprenorphine’, codeine based cough syrups and painkillers like ‘proxivon’ has also assumed serious proportions.
- In certain regions of the country, drug abuse has already become a severe social-economic problem affecting the vulnerable age groups, the official said.
It is, therefore, essential that the state governments and UTs are aware of the drug related problems in their states and UTs and address them in an effective manner before they assume epidemic proportions, another official said.
- The strategies would include both supply reduction and demand reduction. Supply reduction would include enforcement activities while demand reduction would involve rehabilitation and de-addiction measures.
[Ref: PIB, Economic Times]
Govt drops the idea of an India EV policy
The Union government has decided against formulating an electric vehicle (EV) policy in an apparent U-turn from its position so far, providing a breather to many carmakers that are unprepared for an abrupt shift to the clean-fuel technology.
- Meanwhile, the existing FAME (incentive) scheme may continue for another two years.
Reasons for drop:
- Implementing an EV policy package would need huge investments and with empty coffers, it is not possible for the government. So, the idea is left to the open market, manufacturers and the consumers.
- The government’s decision to have an EV policy had created uncertainty in the automobile industry for the past year, although several companies had outlined their strategies for EVs or lobbied the government to drop the idea.
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.
- Electric vehicle sales are low in India because of few available models and a lack of charging infrastructure.
- To overcome some of the problems for electric vehicles, NITI Aayog, along with Colorado-based Rocky Mountain Institute, in their 2017 report on the future of shared, electric and connected mobility future in India, had suggested setting up “a manufacturer consortium for batteries, common components, and platforms to develop battery cell technologies and packs and to procure common components for Indian original equipment manufacturers”.
- The report said that adoption of electric and shared vehicles could help India save $60 billion in diesel and petrol, along with cutting down as much as 1 gigatonne of carbon emissions by 2030.
Issues related to Health & Education
Ramalingaswami Re-entry Fellowship Programme
Department of Biotechnology had recently organized a conclave meeting to celebrate the achievements and revisit the journey of the Ramalingaswami Re-entry Fellowship Programme over the years.
- The 8th Conclave was organized by National Institute of Plant Genome Research (NIPGR).
About the Programme:
- The Ramalingaswami Re-entry Fellowship was conceived in the year 2006-07 with the idea of encouraging scientists (Indian Nationals) working outside the country and would like to return to the home country to pursue their research interests in Modern Biology, Biotechnology, Life Sciences and other related areas.
- The principal aim of the scheme is to improve the country’s human resource capacity in life sciences, modern biology and biotechnology research – both in terms of development, translation and diffusion by means of attracting young scientists settled abroad.
- He was an Indian medical scientist. His pioneering research on nutrition got him elected to the National Academy of Sciences, Russian Academy of Medical Sciences and the Royal Society of London.
- He was regarded a teacher of international repute in the areas of nutritional deficiency.
- He has been honoured with Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award by Council of Scientific and Industrial Research in 1967 and Padma Shri in 1969, Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan by Government of India.
Yes Bank lists country’s first $600m MTN bond on IndiaINX
Private sector lender, Yes Bank has listed USD 600 million bond issued under its maiden USD 1 billion MTN programme, on Global Securities Market (GSM) of India INX.
- India INX is the country’s first international exchange, located at International Financial Services Centre, GIFT City in Gujarat.
- The MTN (medium term note) bonds issuance received an overwhelming response from international investors.
- The bond is also listed on London Stock Exchange International Securities Market (LSE ISM) and Singapore Exchange Securities Trading Limited (SGX).
- The bank will use the proceeds to fund the bank’s IFSC Banking Unit (IBU) in Gift City and expand IBU’s rapidly growing business opportunities.
What is Medium-term note (MTN)?
- A Medium-Term Note (MTN) is a corporate debt instrument that usually matures in five to 10 years.
- A corporate MTN can be continuously offered by a company to investors through a dealer with investors being able to choose from differing maturities.
Benefits of Medium Term Notes:
- MTNs offer investors an option between traditionally short-term and long-term investments. This can be ideal for situations where the investor’s goals fall into a time frame beyond those offered by certain municipal bonds or short-term bank notes without having to commit to the long-term note options. Businesses can benefit from MTNs based on their ability to provide a consistent cash flow from investors. Additionally, businesses can choose to offer MTNs with or without call options.
Bilateral & International Relations
Venezuela, Libya lose UN vote for third time
Venezuela and Libya have been suspended from voting in the UN General Assembly for the third time in three years because of millions of dollars in unpaid dues to the world body.
- Venezuela is mired in an economic and political crisis and Libya has two rival governments, each backed by an array of militias.
- Venezuela must pay a minimum of USD 25,200,296 to restore its voting rights and Libya must pay at least USD 6,594,842.
Voting in the UN General Assembly:
- Voting in the General Assembly on important questions, namely, recommendations on peace and security, budgetary concerns, and the election, admission, suspension or expulsion of members is by a two-thirds majority of those present and voting. Other questions are decided by a straightforward majority.
- Each member country has one vote.
- Apart from approval of budgetary matters, including adoption of a scale of assessment, Assembly resolutions are not binding on the members.
- The Assembly may make recommendations on any matters within the scope of the UN, except matters of peace and security under Security Council consideration.
- The one state, one vote power structure potentially allows states comprising just five percent of the world population to pass a resolution by a two-thirds vote.
Location of Venezuela:
- Venezuela is a federal republic located on the northern coast of South America.
- It is bordered by Colombia on the west, Brazil on the south, Guyana on the east, the Dutch Caribbean ABC islands to the north and the islands of Trinidad and Tobago to the north-east.
Location of Libya:
- Libya is a sovereign state in the Maghreb region of North Africa, bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west.
Science & Technology
Smart museums to give ‘virtual’ tours and 3D view of rare artifacts
A team of experts of Centre for Development for Advanced Computing (C-DAC), Pune has developed a software named “Jatan” and “Darshak” that are set to revolutionise museum experience.
- The objective of the software is to make a digital imprint of all the objects preserved in museums.
- It will help researchers, curators and also people interested in the field.
Using this software, a digital base of more than one lakh museum artifacts has been created, so far, thereby promising better preservation.
- It is a mobile-based application. It is aimed at improving the museum visit experience among the differently-abled.
- It allows real-time museum visitors gather all details about objects or artifacts simply by scanning a QR code placed near the object.
About Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC):
- C-DAC is the premier R&D organization of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) for carrying out R&D in IT, Electronics and associated areas.
Key Facts for Prelims
India’s first radio festival
- India’s first radio festival was held at the UNESCO House in New Delhi to mark World Radio Day (February 13).
- It was organised by International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT) in partnership with United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
- The event touched on the 2018’s theme of World Radio Day – sports and radio – and traced the journey of creativity, music and social changes on the radio.
- IAWRT is global organization of women in broadcasting industry.
- It was established in 1949 by professional women working in electronic and allied media.
- Its mission is to strengthen initiatives towards ensuring women’s views and values are integral part of programming and advance impact of women in media.
It is in consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
- It also organizes conferences, implements projects and undertakes activities, collaborates with and media organizations.
- It is managed by international board, which oversees funding initiatives for a number of local chapters and member activities.
India Pharma 2018 and India Medical Device 2018
- India Pharma 2018 and India Medical Device 2018, India’s biggest Annual Conference on Pharma Industry and Medical Devices, has begun at Bengaluru.
- Theme of the event is ‘Affordable, Quality Healthcare’.
- The event is being organized by Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP), Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers, in collaboration with Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).
- It is a tri-service maritime exercise, being held off India’s western coast with an aim to build interoperability between Indian Navy, Indian Army, Indian Air Force and Coast Guard.
- The objective of the exercise is to build interoperability.
- This exercise includes participation of a large number of ships, submarines and aircraft from the Western Naval Command of the Indian Navy.
- This exercise includes participation of large number of ships, submarines and aircraft from Western Naval Command of Indian Navy and units from Eastern Naval Command, Indian Army, Air Force and Coast Guard.