IASToppers 16th July 2016
Current Affairs Analysis

16th July 2016 Current Affairs Analysis

'Happiness Department'; "India Skills Competition"; Census 2011; Darjeeling Tea; Nalanda Mahavihara; etc.
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
July 16, 2016

Contents

Polity & Governance

  • Madhya Pradesh becomes first state to have ‘Happiness Department’
  • President Pranab Mukherjee inaugurated the first edition of “India Skills Competition”
  • Census 2011 records rise in literacy among disabled

Economy

  • India slips on business optimism index: survey
  • Darjeeling growers seek halt to Nepal tea imports

International Relations

  • HRD Ministry signs ADDENDUM X to MoU with Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute (SICI)

Defence & Security Issues

  • Indian warships visit Malaysia’s Port Kelang

Art & Culture

  • Archaeological Site of Nalanda Mahavihara (Nalanda University) Gets Inscribed in World Heritage List

Also in News

  • 15th July: National Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Day

 

Polity & Governance

Madhya Pradesh becomes first state to have ‘Happiness Department’

Madhya Pradesh became the first state in the country to set up ‘Happiness Department’.

Key facts:

  • The department will work to ensure “happiness in the lives of common people” on the lines of Bhutan.
  • A panel of experts will be formed in the newly-constituted department which will give suggestions to ensure happiness in the lives of the people.
  • The department will identify and define parameters that make people happy, coordinate among various departments, recommend policy changes and formulate an action plan to “increase the level of happiness and satisfaction”.
  • The department will take feedback from people on the happiness parameters at regular intervals, publish survey reports and carry out research to improve the existing parameters.

Bhutan’s ‘Gross National Happiness (GNH):

Bhutan_Gross_National_Happiness

  • Since 1971, Bhutan has rejected GDP as the only way to measure progress.
  • In its place, it has championed a new approach to development, which measures prosperity through formal principles of gross national happiness (GNH) and the spiritual, physical, social and environmental health of its citizens and natural environment.

About World Happiness Report:

  • The World Happiness Report is a measure of happiness published by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network.
  • The report takes into account the GDP per capita, life expectancy, social support and freedom to make life choices as indicators of happiness.
  • In the World Happiness Report 2016, India was ranked 118th in the list, down one slot from last year on the index.
[Ref: ToI, Wiki]

 

President Pranab Mukherjee inaugurated the first edition of “India Skills Competition”

President Pranab Mukherjee inaugurated the first edition of “India Skills Competition” on the occasion of World Youth Skills Day.

  • The occasion also marks the first anniversary of Prime Minister’s Skill India mission which aims to train over 40 crore youth in India in different skills by 2022.

About the competition:

  • ‘India Skills’ is a national competition organised by Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship and National Skill Development Corporation.
  • The competition is organized to select the best talent who will lead India at the biennial World Skills International Competition, scheduled in Abu Dhabi, Dubai in 2017.

Background:

  • At the last event organised at Sao Paulo, Brazil, in August 2015, a team of 29 candidates participated in 27 skills and won 8 medallions of excellence for India.
[Ref: PIB]

 

Census 2011 records rise in literacy among disabled

New numbers released from Census 2011 show that more than half of the total disabled population in India are now literate.

Key facts:

  • The literacy rate among the disabled has increased from 49.3% in 2001 to 54.5% in 2011. However, this is significantly lower than the overall literacy level of India which stands at 74%.
  • Both rural and urban areas saw an increase of around four percentage points in literacy rate of the disabled.
  • Among the urban disabled, 68% are literate while the number stands at 49% for disabled in the rural areas.
  • The difference between literacy rate of males and females is wider in rural areas — 72% of disabled males and 61% of disabled females in urban areas are literate, a difference of nine percentage points.
  • But in rural areas, the difference stands at 20 percentage points, as 58% of disabled males and only 38% of disabled females are literate.
[Ref: Hindu]

 

Economy

India slips on business optimism index: survey

According to the Grant Thornton International Business Report (IBR), India slipped to the third position on the scale of global business optimism, during April-June, after remaining on top globally for the two preceding quarters.

India:

According to the report,

  • India continues to top the chart on expectations of revenue increases.
  • Companies in India were mainly concerned about the delays in key reforms like the goods and services tax, non-resolution of tax disputes and the banking sector’s performance.
  • Growth in employment expectations dropped to the second position during this period from top rank in the previous quarter.
  • The rank on optimism further slipped to fourth in terms of profitability expectations.
  • While the business confidence in India has weakened, there is a rise in optimism on the export front. However, red tape continued to hamper growth and ranked India as number two on the issue.
  • Research and development continue to be an area of concern.

Global:

According to the report,

  • On the global front, there is a rise in the proportion of businesses worldwide expecting increased revenue over the coming 12 months. However, growth in global export expectations continues to be slow, indicating that revenue is dependent on domestic consumer spending power.
  • Consumer spending is now under threat from increased political instability, recovering oil prices and reduced plans to offer pay increases.
[Ref: Hindu]

 

Darjeeling growers seek halt to Nepal tea imports

Imports of ‘deceptively similar-looking’ teas from neighbouring Nepal are threatening Darjeeling’s tea industry and growers have urged the Centre to take steps to stop low-cost imports.

  • The commodity imported under the Indo-Nepal Free Trade Agreement is sold in the domestic market affecting both demand and the price of Darjeeling tea, which is reeling under the impact of climate change and high labour costs.

320px-Darjeeling_Oolong_Tea

Key Concerns:

Low-priced tea prom Nepal:

  • Teas, imported from Nepal were low-priced as tea is cultivated mostly in the unorganised sector and wages are 50 % lower. Because of this, Darjeeling’s tea industry and growers are suffering financial losses.
  • Also this affects the tea and tourism industry which act as the backbone of the economy in this region. The tea estates employ 60,000 workers on a permanent basis and 40,000 seasonally. The plantation area houses over four lakhs which is about half of the hill population.

Declining crop:

  • Declining crop is another source of concern for the industry. Pressure from overseas buyers has forced the tea-garden owners to shun the use of chemicals and adopt organic farming. About 54 % of the crop is now organic. But the absence of chemical plant boosters and the ageing tea-bushes (some almost 100 years old) also result in a lower crop.

Climate change:

  • It is climate change, which is affecting the fortunes of the Darjeeling tea industry the most. Unpredictable weather has affected production for the last five years.
  • Climate change is also affecting the quality of tea and although the brew still retains its unique muscatel flavour, prices have been low in the export and domestic market.

Wages and Labour problem:

  • Wages (constituting 60 % of the total product cost) were high and the industry was also witnessing a labour shortage. The tea workers were migrating to other sectors.
[Ref: Hindu]

 

International Relations

HRD Ministry signs ADDENDUM X to MoU with Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute (SICI)

Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India and Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute (SICI) have signed an ADDENDUM X to the Memorandum of Understanding providing for the details of Programme of Co-operation.

About Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute:

  • Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute, a bi-national organization, was created by a joint announcement of Governments of India and the Government of Canada in 1968.
  • It was set up to promote understanding between India and Canada through facilitation of academic exchange between the two countries.
  • The membership of SICI has expanded from the original 4(four) founding members to 35(thirty-five) Canadian Universities and 54 (fifty-four) Indian Institutions.
  • Indian Institutions include some of the Indian Institutes of Management(IIMs), Indian Institute of Technology(IITs), National Law Schools, National Museum Institute, apex bodies& institutions of research and premier Central and State universities.
[Ref: PIB]

 

Defence & Security Issues

Indian warships visit Malaysia’s Port Kelang

In a bid to bolster India’s bilateral military relations with Malaysia and demonstrating India’s operational reach, three Indian warships arrived at Malaysia’s Port Kelang in Malaysia, as part of a deployment to the South China Sea and Western Pacific.

Malaysian visit

  • The three vessels INS Sahyadri, INS Shakti and INS Kirch are on a four-day visit.
  • This four-day visit is demonstration of India’s ‘Act East’ policy and Indian Navy’s increasing footprint and operational reach.
  • The current visit seeks to enhance maritime cooperation between the Indian Navy and the Royal Malaysian Navy.

Background:

  • The Indian Navy has been a regular participant at the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition (LIMA) in Malaysia. The last visit by an IN ship Malaysia was in May 2015, when INS Saryu berthed at Penang.
[Ref: PIB, BS]

 

Art & Culture

Archaeological Site of Nalanda Mahavihara (Nalanda University) Gets Inscribed in World Heritage List

UNESCO has declared Bihar’s much awaited ancient site – the ruins of Nalanda Mahavihara – a World Heritage Site.

  • With the inclusion of Nalanda, this would be the second UNESCO Heritage Site in BIhar after Mahabodhi temple in Bodh Gaya.

Background:

  • Last year, the ruins of Nalanda university was inspected by an expert team from the Paris-based International Council of Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), which also held talks with senior Bihar government officials in pursuance of the bid to get a UNESCO World Heritage tag for the ancient site.
  • The Ministry of Culture through the ASI had sent an over “200-page-long” nomination dossier on January last year.
  • However, there was a doubt whether Nalanda would be declared a heritage site by UNESCO as allegedly there were several flaws in the submitted dossier.

About Nalanda:

IASToppers 16th July 2016

Nalanda was an acclaimed Mahavihara, a large Buddhist monastery in the ancient kingdom of Magadha (modern-day Bihar) in India.

  • The site is located about 95 kilometres southeast of Patna near the town of Bihar Sharif, and was a centre of learning from the fifth century CE to c. 1200 CE.
  • Nalanda flourished under the patronage of the Gupta Empire in the 5th and 6th centuries and later under Harsha, the emperor of Kannauj.
  • At its peak, the school attracted scholars and students from near and far with some travelling all the way from Tibet, China, Korea, and Central Asia. Archaeological evidence also notes contact with the Shailendra dynasty of Indonesia, one of whose kings built a monastery in the complex.
  • Much of our knowledge of Nalanda comes from the writings of pilgrim monks from East Asia such as Xuanzang and Yijing who travelled to the Mahavihara in the 7th century.
  • All students at Nalanda studied Mahayana as well as the texts of the eighteen (Hinayana) sects of Buddhism. Their curriculum also included other subjects such as the Vedas, logic, Sanskrit grammar, medicine and Samkhya.
  • Nalanda was very likely ransacked and destroyed by an army of the Muslim Mamluk Dynasty under Bakhtiyar Khilji in c. 1200 CE.
  • Nalanda is now a notable tourist destination and a part of the Buddhist tourism circuit.

About UNESCO World Heritage Site:

A World Heritage Site is a place (such as a building, city, complex, desert, forest, island, lake, monument, or mountain) that is listed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as being of special cultural or physical significance.

  • The list is maintained by the international World Heritage Programme administered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, composed of 21 UNESCO member states which are elected by the General Assembly.
  • Each World Heritage Site remains part of the legal territory of the state wherein the site is located and UNESCO considers it in the interest of the international community to preserve each site.
  • The List of recorded sites on the World Heritage now stands at 981 which include both cultural and natural wonders.
  • According to the sites ranked by country, Italy is home to the greatest number of World Heritage Sites with 51 sites, followed by China (48), Spain (44), France (41), Germany (40), Mexico (33), and India (32).
[Ref: ToI, Wiki]

 

Also in News

15th July: National Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Day

The nation observes the 15th of July every year as ‘National Plastic Surgery Day’ to increase awareness about plastic surgery.

  • Reconstructive surgery is the surgery done on abnormal organs to offer the forms and functions of the organs like Congenital Defects, Limb Trauma, Burn and burn defects, Cancer surgery, Maxillofacial surgery, Post Traumatic defects, Micro surgery etc.
[Ref: Hindu]

 

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