Polity & Governance
- Online Analytical Tool to monitor foreign contributions under FCRA launched
- Centre forms Cauvery Management Authority to address water-sharing dispute
Government Schemes & Policies
- 5 lakh affordable houses sanctioned for urban poor under PMAY(urban)
- India’s manufacturing PMI eases in May
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- MoES introduces new forecast model to give accurate prediction
Bilateral & International Relations
- Shangri-La Dialogue
Science & Technology
- India tastes only partial success in Ramjet test
- Foundation laid for India’s First Advanced Forensic Lab in Chandigarh dedicated to women related cases
Key Facts for Prelims
- Cochin Shipyard, Kerala govt ink pact to build marine ambulances
- RIMPAC 2018
- 3 Indian digital payment apps launched in Singapore
For IASToppers Current Affairs Analysis Archive, Click Here
Polity & Governance
Online Analytical Tool to monitor foreign contributions under FCRA launched
The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) launched an Online Analytical Tool to facilitate closer monitoring of flow and utilisation of foreign contributions received by various organisations registered or permitted under Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010.
Key Features of web-based tool:
- The web-based tool will help to effectively monitor hundreds of thousands of transactions undertaken by such organisations and help stakeholders in Government to better regulate acceptance and utilisation of foreign contributions.
- It enables decision-makers in various Government Departments to scrutinise source of foreign funds and their actual use in India. It will give them capacity to take evidence-based and data-driven decisions regarding compliance of provisions of FCRA, 2010.
- It has analytical features to conduct big data mining and data exploration. Its dashboard has been integrated with bank accounts of FCRA-registered entities through Public Financial Management System (PFMS) for updation of transactional data on a real-time basis.
Origins of the FCRA:
- The original Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act was enacted in 1976 by the Indira Gandhi-led government during the Emergency.
- It prohibits electoral candidates, political parties, judges, MPs and even cartoonists from accepting foreign contributions.
- As the inclusion of ‘cartoonists’ under its ambit suggests, the intent was to clamp down on political dissent.
- The given for the law was to curb foreign interference in domestic politics.
- The FCRA was aimed at preventing political parties from accepting contributions from foreign sources.
About Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act 2010:
- The FCRA 2010 provides for regulation of acceptance of foreign funds/foreign hospitality by certain individuals, associations, organisations and companies. It ensures that such contributions or hospitality is not being utilised for activities detrimental to the national interest.
Currently, around 10,000 FCRA-registered NGOs are operating in country.
Differences between FCRA 1976 and 2010:
- First, FCRA registration under the earlier law was permanent, but under the new one, it expired after five years, and had to be renewed afresh.
- One may recall that earlier this year, 11,319 NGOs lost their FCRA licences without the government having to either examine their records or suspend their registrations individually — their licences simply expired as the deadline for renewal passed.
- Second, the new law put a restriction (50 per cent) on the proportion of foreign funds that could be used for administrative expenses, thereby allowing the government to control how a civil society organisation (CSO) spends its money.
- Third, the 1976 law was primarily aimed at political parties, the new law set the stage for shifting the focus to “organisations of a political nature”.
- The FCRA Rules, 2011, framed by the United Progressive Alliance government, has served the NDA well as a manual on how to target inconvenient NGOs, especially those working on governance accountability.
- It helpfully enumerates the kind of organisation that could be targeted under the FCRA as “an organisation of a political nature”.
- Ex- trade unions, students’ unions, workers’ unions, youth forums, women’s wing of a political party … which habitually engages itself in or employs common methods of political action like ‘bandh’ or ‘hartal’, ‘rasta roko’, ‘rail roko’ or ‘jail bharo’ in support of public causes”.
- There are approximately 25,000 active organisations registered under FCRA, 2010. Such organisations have received foreign contributions worth Rs.18,065 crores from foreign donors for various social, cultural, economic, educational and religious activities in 2016-17. Each FCRA-NGO conducts multiple financial transactions in receiving and spending foreign contribution.
Centre forms Cauvery Management Authority to address water-sharing dispute
Following directions from Supreme Court, the Central Government has constituted the Cauvery Water Management Authority (CMA) to address the dispute over sharing of river water among Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Puducherry.
Significance of notification:
- This would help to solve the long running conflict on distribution of Cauvery waters.
- It will make the management of Cauvery water scientific.
- In February, 2018 judgement, the Supreme Court had directed centre to form the CMA within six weeks. In the same verdict, the court had also increased Karnataka’s share in Cauvery Water marginally.
About Cauvery Water Management Authority (CMA):
The newly constituted Cauvery Water Management Authority (CMA) has been created as per the Cauvery Management Scheme earlier framed by Centre and approved by Supreme Court.
Composition and Powers of CMA:
- The authority will comprise a chairman, a secretary and eight members. Out of the eight members, two will be full time, while two will be part time members from centre’s side.
- Rest four will be part time members from states. The main mandate of the CMA will be to secure implementation and compliance of the Supreme Court’s order in relation to “storage, apportionment, regulation and control of Cauvery waters”.
- CMA will also advise the states to take suitable measures to improve water use efficiency. It will do so by promoting use of micro-irrigation, change in cropping patterns, improved farm practices and development of command areas.
- The CMA will also prepare an annual report covering its activities during the preceding year.
Role of Central Government
- The central government will provide help in implementation of the modified award in case of any of the state /UT parties (Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka and Puducherry) do not cooperate in implementing the decision or direction of the tribunal.
- Initially, centre will contribute Rs. 2 crore for the functioning of the authority.
Cauvery Water Regulation Committee:
- Along with CMA, the government has also established Cauvery Water Regulation Committee that shall give effect to the decision of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal as modified by the Supreme Court order.
- This committee will meet every 10 days during months of June and October when the south-west and north-east monsoon set in and again after the monsoon has set in.
About river Cauvery:
- Cauvery River rises on Brahmagiri Hill of the Western Ghats in south-western Karnataka state. It flows in a south-easterly direction for 475 miles through the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
- Before emptying into the Bay of Bengal south of Cuddalore, Tamil Nadu, the river breaks into a large number of distributaries forming a wide delta called the “garden of southern India.” The river is important for its irrigation canal projects.
- In the upper course, at the Krishnaraja Sagara, the Kaveri is joined by two tributaries, the Hemavati and Lakshmantirtha, where a dam was constructed for irrigation.
- Upon entering Tamil Nadu, the Kaveri continues through a series of twisted wild gorges until it reaches Hogenakal Falls. There the Mettur Dam was construted for irrigation and hydel power.
- Its main tributaries are the Kabani (Kabbani), Amaravati, Noyil, and Bhavani rivers.
Government Schemes & Policies
1.5 lakh affordable houses sanctioned for urban poor under PMAY(urban)
The Union Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs has approved construction of another 1.5 lakh affordable houses under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) for benefit of urban poor.
- Decision in this regard was taken at 34th meeting of Central Sanctioning and Monitoring Committee. It approved investment of Rs 7,227 crore with Central assistance of Rs 2,209 crore.
- Of the 1.5 lakh sanctioned affordable houses, Andhra Pradesh tops the list of houses with 56,512 units, followed by Uttar Pradesh (26,060), Madhya Pradesh (17,920), Jharkhand (14,526) and Maharashtra (13,506).
- With this, cumulative houses under PMAY(U) would be 47,52,751 houses.
- Since the launch of the scheme in 2015, over 45 lakh affordable houses have been approved for construction from 2015 to 2018.
The Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) Programme launched by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (MoHUPA), in Mission mode envisions provision of Housing for All by 2022, when the Nation completes 75 years of its Independence.
- The Mission seeks to address the housing requirement of urban poor including slum dwellers through following programme verticals:
- Slum rehabilitation of Slum Dwellers with participation of private developers using land as a resource.
- Promotion of Affordable Housing for weaker section through credit linked subsidy.
- Affordable Housing in Partnership with Public & Private sectors.
- Subsidy for beneficiary-led individual house construction /enhancement.
India’s manufacturing PMI eases in May
India’s manufacturing sector activity eased in May as new work orders rose at a weaker pace, while rising inflationary pressures might prompt the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to hike interest rates, says a monthly survey.
- The Nikkei India Manufacturing PMI fell to 51.2 in May of 2018 from 51.6 in the preceding month and below market consensus of 51.5.
- Growth in output, new orders and employment softened while business sentiment dropped from the previous month’s nine-month high.
- Also, purchasing activity declined for the first time in seven months, albeit only fractionally.
- Amid reports of greater demand from the international markets Indian manufacturers reported the strongest gain in new exports order since February.
- On the price front, a build-up of inflationary pressures re-emerged with input cost and output charge inflation rates at the strongest since February, due to the upswing in global oil prices.
What is Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI)
- PMI is an indicator of business activity-both in the manufacturing and services sectors.
- It is a survey-based measure that asks respondents about changes in their perception of some key business variables from month before.
- PMI is usually released at start of month, much before most of official data on industrial output, manufacturing and GDP growth is made available. It is, therefore, considered a good leading indicator of economic activity.
- Manufacturing growth measured by PMI is considered good indicator of industrial output.
- It is calculated separately for manufacturing and services sectors and then composite index is constructed.
- The PMI also gives an indication of corporate earnings and is closely watched by investors as well as the bond markets. A good reading enhances the attractiveness of an economy vis-a- vis another competing economy.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
MoES introduces new forecast model to give accurate prediction
The Ministry of Earth Science (MoES) has launched a new system to generate more accurate and area specific forecast of extreme weather events including rains, heat wave and cold wave.
About Ensemble Prediction Systems (EPS):
- The new EPS system has been developed by three bodies under Ministry of Earth Sciences viz. Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF) and Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology.
- The most salient feature of new EPS is its high resolution for short-medium range weather forecasts. Under the new system, the area of spatial resolution (currently 23 km grid scale) will come down to 12 km. This would help sending out district level warning and forecast extreme weather events as before as five days.
- In its calculations, the system will use a newly procured 8 petaflops high-power computing system. The system was recently procured for Rs. 450 crore.
Significance of EPS:
- The new Ensemble Prediction System (EPS) has been touted as best available model after such a system available in Europe.
- The new system will generate more accurate and better area specific forecast of extreme weather events in comparison to current models by quantifying the uncertainties in the weather forecast.
- The probabilistic forecasts of severe weather events at 12 km grid scale would greatly help the disaster management authorities and other users in making better emergency response decisions.
- The accurate weather forecasts would help farmers to damage crops and also support administration to take disasters prevention steps beforehand.
Bilateral & International Relations
Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered the keynote address at the Shangri-La Dialogue (SLD) in Singapore, the first time an Indian prime minister spoke at the SLD since its inaugural edition in 2002.
- The SLD has, over the years, evolved into a key strategic gathering of the Asia-Pacific region.
Highlights of the PM’s Shangri-La Dialogue address:
Singapore is our springboard to ASEAN:
- Singapore, for centuries has been a gateway for India to the broader east. We have a growing political, economic and defence ties with each Southeast Asian country.
India and China must work together:
- With trade between both the countries growing, Indo-China cooperation is expanding. We have displayed maturity and wisdom in managing issues and ensuring a peaceful border. There is growing intersection in our international presence.
Global transit routes must be peaceful
- The Indian Ocean has shaped much of India’s history. It now holds the key to our future. The ocean carries 90 per cent of India’s trade and energy sources. It is also the lifeline of global commerce. India’s vision for the Indo-Pacific region is a positive one and it has many elements.
- India stands for a free, open, inclusive Indo-Pacific region, which embraces us all in a common pursuit of progress and prosperity. It includes all nations in this geography as also others beyond who have a stake in it.
Globalisation key to development
- This is a world of inter-dependent fortunes and failures. No nation can shape and secure it on its own. It is a world that summons us to rise above divisions and competition to work together.
Equal access as a right
- The Prime Minister also called for equal access as a right under international law to the use of common spaces on sea and in the air that would require freedom of navigation, unimpeded commerce and peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with international law.
Science & Technology
India tastes only partial success in Ramjet test
The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully carried out maiden flight test new surface-to-air missile powered by Solid Fuel Ducted Ramjet (SFDR) propulsion Technology.
- The test also successfully demonstrated technology of nozzle less booster for first time in the country.
- The defensive missile flew in its intended trajectory at speed of Mach 3 (thrice the speed of sound) and met all mission objectives.
About SFDR technology:
- SFDR technology is jointly developed by India and Russia.
- It will help both India’s surface-to-air and air-to-air missiles to perform better and enhance their strike range, making them more lethal.
- With it, India can have fastest long-range missiles in two categories, providing full-fledged and multi-layered aerial protection from hostile attacks.
- Its successful use in missiles will mark India’s entry into select club of nations that use next-generation missile technology against maneuvering targets, compromising effectiveness of conventional missiles.
SFDR vs. Conventional Missiles:
SFDR is propulsion technology different than that of conventional solid fuelled or liquid fuelled missiles.
- Present lot of conventional missiles uses booster or sustainer configuration with solid or liquid propellants, which have limitations against maneuvering target. This is because terminal stage of conventional missiles cannot provide enough energy to maintain their speed in order to hit targets.
- SDFR technology removes this drawback by exceptionally enhancing endgame maneuverability of missile at terminal stage when its seeker is locked onto target.
Foundation laid for India’s First Advanced Forensic Lab in Chandigarh dedicated to women related cases
Foundation of Sakhi Suraksha Advanced DNA Forensic Laboratory was laid in the campus of Central Forensic Science Lab (CFSL), Chandigarh.
- It is India’s first advanced forensic lab dedicated for crimes related to women for timely deliver justice.
- The advanced lab in par with international standards will contribute to address gap in forensic DNA analysis of pending sexual assault cases in the country.
- The lab has been set up as model forensic lab and will be replicated in other parts of the country.
- 5 more such advanced forensic labs will come up in Mumbai, Chennai, Guwahati, Pune and Bhopal in the next 3 months bringing total minimum annual handling capacity of labs to 50000 cases.
- The labs in Chennai and Mumbai will be set up with funds from Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) while remaining 3 labs would be set up with funds by Ministry of Home Affairs.
Units of Sakhi Suraksha Advanced DNA Forensic Laboratory:
In Sakhi Suraksha Advanced DNA Forensic Laboratory, four units are to be established to address cases related to women:
- Sexual Assault and Homicide Unit
- Paternity Unit
- Human Identification Unit
- Mitochondrial Unit
Apart from Homicide and Sexual Assault and Unit, other three units are interlinked. They will work to examine cases related to crime against women.
- It will be help in solving cases related to criminal paternity, gender selection and child swapping in hospitals.
Human Identification Unit:
- It will play important role to solve cases of missing person or children.
- It will conduct mitochondrial DNA analysis in cases where regular Nuclear DNA analysis is not possible such as in case of highly degraded samples. It can also be used to better explore family relationships.
- Forensic science plays a vital role in the criminal justice delivery system by providing investigators with scientifically based information through the analysis of physical evidence.
- With increasing reports of crime against women such as sexual assault, foeticide, homicide etc. there is an increasing demand for better scientific analysis of physical evidence.
- Scrutiny by Hon’ble courts demands more admissible, accurate and powerful forensic proof for human individualisation.
Key Facts for Prelims
Cochin Shipyard, Kerala govt ink pact to build marine ambulances
- Cochin Shipyard Ltd (CSL) signed agreement with Kerala government to construct three marine ambulances for state fisheries department.
- These three vessels will be designed by CSL at its in-house design department. These vessels will be able to complement two patients and will have a total crew capacity of seven, including paramedical staff.
- They will also have various paramedical facilities like examination and nursing room, medical beds, refrigerator, mortuary freezer and medical lockers.
- Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC-2018), the world’s largest international maritime warfare exercise will see participation of 26 countries, including India.
- The exercise will be held from June 27 to August 2, 2018 in and around Hawaiian Islands and Southern California.
- The theme for this year’s RIMPAC exercise is “Capable, Adaptive, Partners.” Four countries Brazil, Israel, Sri Lanka and Vietnamare are participating for first time.
3 Indian digital payment apps launched in Singapore
- At ‘Business, Innovation and Community Event’ held in Singapore, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched three Indian mobile payment applications BHIM, RuPay and UPI enabled remittance app of SBI in Singapore aimed at internationalisation of the country’s digital payment platforms.