Polity & Governance
- Online APAR for Indian Trade Service SPARROW-ITS Launched
- World Bank to provide USD 36 million loan for Himachal Pradesh
- Third Governing Council meeting of DAY-NULM
- ‘Preventive detention no quick fix’
- PNB gets ADB’s first tranche for solar rooftop fund of $100 million
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- Environment ministry committee approved Kuno Palpur in Madhya Pradesh as second home for Asiatic lions
Bilateral & International Relations
- Plan for Indian SEZs in Bangladesh hits bump
Science & Technology
- Ministry of Earth Sciences to launch ‘Deep Ocean Mission’ by January 2018
Key Facts for Prelims
- India is no longer the fastest-growing economy
- Hindi Sevi Samman Awards
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Polity & Governance
Online APAR for Indian Trade Service SPARROW-ITS Launched
The Commerce Ministry launched an online system for annual performance appraisal report – SPARROW-ITS (Smart Performance Appraisal Report Recording Online Window) – for trade service officers.
- SPARROW-ITS would enable the Indian Trade Service (ITS) officers to fill their performance report online for the year 2016-17 onwards.
Who will be benefited?
- The 150 officers of ITS would be benefited by timely promotions and all other benefits dependent upon the evaluation of their reports.
About the new system:
- The annual performance appraisal reports (APARs) would be generated and transmitted online to the concerned officers for filling up of the self appraisal.
- The officer can then submit the self appraisal online through Digitally Signed Signature or through e-sign.
- The subsequent processes of reporting and reviewing would also be done online by the reporting and reviewing officer.
- Timelines have been drawn up for each stage of the process.
Objective behind this system:
The idea to switch over from manual to online system is:
- To ensure ready access of APAR dossier by the authorised users,
- Preventing loss of APARs in transition,
- Address the issues of ante-dating,
- Remarks recorded by the reporting authorities without dates.
World Bank to provide USD 36 million loan for Himachal Pradesh
The World Bank will extend a loan of USD 36 million to improve the efficiency of public expenditure management and tax administration in Himachal Pradesh.
- In this regard, an agreement was signed between the Department of Economic Affairs on behalf of the Government of India and the World Bank.
About the programme:
- The programme is expected to contribute to enhancing efficiency of key departments, improving budget credibility, strengthening systems and procedures to improve fiscal discipline.
- The programme, whose duration is 5 years, is also expected to improve revenue administration to increase fiscal space and targeted organisational reforms including human resource.
- The programme focuses on the priority areas identified by the state government, which were articulated in various stakeholder workshops during Program preparation.
- The programme size is USD 45 million, of which USD 36 million will be financed by the Bank and the remaining amount will be funded out of state budget.
Third Governing Council meeting of DAY-NULM
The Minister of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation Shri M.Venkaiah Naidu chaired the third Governing Council meeting of the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana- National Urban Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NULM) to deliberate upon the steps to further strengthen the Mission at different levels.
What has been decided to strengthen the mission?
- Enhance financial provisions for differently-abled. Training Providers shall be incentivized for training differently-abled and undertaking job outreach activities for them.
- The employment generated during 2016-17 is 155% more than the previous year. The physical progress of the other components has also shown a significant increase in 2016-17.
- Below poverty line (BPL) population shall now be able to avail conveyance charges while participating in skill training programmes under the Mission.
- Uniforms shall also be provided to all beneficiaries undergoing skill training.
- In view of non-availability of suitable land in the metros for construction of shelters near to the concentration of homeless, it was decided to allow State/UTs to hire buildings and refurbish them suitably for running of shelters till the permanent shelters are constructed.
- For expediting faster setting up of shelters, it was also decided to seek land, for construction, from PSUs including Railways, encourage CSR support, rope in reputed social organizations to run DAY-NULM shelters and co-opt shelters being run by them under DAY-NULM and provide for management cost.
- Since the goal of shelters is not only to provide a space for living, but also to provide a conducive environment to the homeless so that they can achieve their potential, it was decided to ensure access to skill training programmes by organizing special screening and mobilization camps for the shelter inmates.
- It was decided to remove the observance of expenditure ceiling of Mission Management costs at State Level. However, the expenditure would continue to be monitored at National Level within the prescribed ceiling. It will help the States in positioning and training of requisite manpower for better implementation of the mission.
- It was decided to increase the salary of Community Organisers from Rs.10,000 to Rs.15,000 per month.
- Further it was decided to authorize the state to further enhance it according to the subsequent revision of minimum wages.
About National Urban Livelihoods Mission (NULM):
NULM was launched by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (MHUPA), Government of India in 23rd September, 2013 by replacing the existing Swarna Jayanti Shahari Rozgar Yojana (SJSRY).
- The Mission is aimed at providing shelter equipped with essential services to the urban homeless in a phased manner.
- In addition, the Mission would also address livelihood concerns of the urban street vendors.
- In the 12th Five Year Plan, NULM will be implemented in all districts headquarter towns (irrespective of population) and all other towns with population of 1 lakh or more as per Census 2011.
- At present 790 cities are under NULM. However, other towns may be allowed in exceptional cases on request of the States.
- The primary target of NULM is the urban poor, including the urban homeless.
Sharing of funding:
- Funding will be shared between the Centre and the States in the ratio of 75:25.
- For North Eastern and Special Category States (Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura, Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand), this ratio will be 90:10.
Focus area of NULM:
- Organizing urban poor in Self Help Groups (SHGs)
- Creating opportunities for skill development for urban poor leading to market based employment
- Helping urban poor to set up self-employment ventures by ensuring easy access to credit.
Integration in Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana:
- The Union Government has decided to integrate both National Urban Livelihoods Mission (Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation) and National Rural Livelihoods Mission (Ministry of Rural Development) to converge into a single scheme called Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana (DAY) in 2016-17.
‘Preventive detention no quick fix’
The Supreme Court has warned against the indiscriminate use of the law against bootleggers, dacoits and goondas to push people into preventive custody.
- The Supreme Court bench strongly disapproved of the decision of the Telangana government to describe a seller of spurious seeds as a ‘goonda’ to keep him behind bars.
Important observations made by the court:
- Preventive detention cannot be resorted to when sufficient remedies are available under the general laws of the land for any omission or commission under such laws.
- The order of preventive detention, though based on the subjective satisfaction of the detaining authority, is nonetheless a serious matter, affecting the life and liberty of the citizen under Articles 14, 19, 21 and 22 of the Constitution.
- The power being statutory in nature, its exercise has to be within the limitations of the statute, and must be exercised for the purpose the power is conferred.
- If the power is misused, or abused for collateral purposes, and is based on grounds beyond the statute, takes into consideration extraneous or irrelevant materials, it will stand vitiated as being in colourable exercise of power.
What is Preventive detention?
Preventive detention is action taken beforehand to prevent possible commitment of crime. While Punitive detention is punishment for illegal acts done.
- Preventive detention thus is action taken on grounds of suspicion that some wrong actions may be done by the person concerned.
- Preventive detention can however be made only on four grounds.
The grounds for Preventive detention are—
- security of state,
- maintenance of public order,
- maintenance of supplies and essential services and defence,
- foreign affairs or security of India.
- A person may be detained without trial only on any or some of the above grounds.
- A detainee under preventive detention can have no right of personal liberty guaranteed by Article 19 or Article 21.
Article 22 and Preventive Detention:
- The Article 22 (3) of the Indian constitution provides that, if a person is arrested or detained under a law providing for preventive detention, then the protection against arrest and detention under Article 22 (1) and 22 (2) shall not be available.
PNB gets ADB’s first tranche for solar rooftop fund of $100 million
State-owned Punjab National Bank (PNB) has received $100 million (about Rs645 crore) as the first tranche of the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) multi-million dollar funding for installation of rooftop solar systems in India.
- The $100 million loan agreement signed between the ADB and PNB is backed by a guarantee from the central government.
- This is the first tranche loan of the $500 million multi-tranche finance facility Solar Rooftop Investment Programme (SRIP) approved by the ADB in 2016.
- As much as $330 million of this funding will come from the ADB’s ordinary capital resources and $170 million from the multi-donor Clean Technology Fund (CTF). The first tranche loan comes from CTF.
About Solar Rooftop Investment Programme (SRIP):
- The entire cost of SRIP is estimated at $1 billion, inclusive of ADB $500 million funding, and it aims to install solar rooftop system of around 1 gigawatt (GW) capacity in India.
- This will contribute to the climate change goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by about 11 million tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent over the typical 25-year lifetime of rooftop solar systems.
- The programme will contribute to Indian government’s plans to increase solar power generation capacity and also help it meet the carbon emission reduction target in line with its commitment at the recent global climate change agreement.
- The project is suitably aligned with the goals of the Indian government to increase country’s solar rooftop capacity by 40GW by 2022.
Use of the funding:
- PNB will deploy this fund as loan to various developers and end users to install large solar rooftop systems on industrial and commercial buildings throughout India.
- India’s solar rooftop market is expanding fast with an estimated total capacity potential of 124GW.
- With a sharp drop in the price of solar panels, India has a huge potential to expand its use of solar rooftop technologies.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
Environment ministry committee approved Kuno Palpur in Madhya Pradesh as second home for Asiatic lions
An environment ministry’s expert committee has approved Kuno Palpur in Madhya Pradesh as the second home for Asiatic lions found only in Gir national park.
- But the Gujarat government will not share lions unless 33 studies as mandated by international wildlife watchdog IUCN is completed.
- Translocation of lions from Gir to Kuno Palpur has been a bitter issue between the two states for more than a decade.
- In 1993, WII conducted a study to identify the best area for translocation of lions and they found Kuno-Palpur in Sheopur district, nearly 140 kms from Gwalior, most suitable. In this light, a proposal was mooted to translocate a few of the Gir lions to MP in 2000.
- Wildlife activist filed a public interest petition in the apex court in 2006 and sought translocation of Gir lions to MP.
- In April 2013, the apex court in a judgment directed that the lions be translocated to Kuno-Palpur in MP.
What are the concerns?
- As Asiatic lions exist only in Gir sanctuary, experts have often expressed apprehensions that high rate of inbreeding and less genetic diversity could make them susceptible to epidemics and make them extinct.
Bilateral & International Relations
Plan for Indian SEZs in Bangladesh hits bump
India’s plan to step up investments in Bangladesh by setting up three mega Special Economic Zones (SEZ) exclusively for Indian companies in the latter’s territory has hit a major hurdle.
What are the constraints?
- Constraints include inadequate infrastructure and lack of uninterrupted power supply” at Mongla, Bheramara and Mirsarai – the sites in Bangladesh for the proposed Indian SEZs.
- Moreover, there are ambiguity and uncertainty regarding incentives offered by the Bangladesh Government to develop the SEZs.
- India and Bangladesh had inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in June 2015 — during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Bangladesh — for cooperation on establishing Indian SEZs in Bangladesh.
- The plan was to develop Indian SEZs at Mirsarai (1,005 acres), Bheramara (about 480 acres) and Mongla (200 acres).
- The construction of these SEZs and Indian investment in the zones were to be facilitated through concessional Line of Credit extended by India to Bangladesh.
- The Centre had promised to address the concerns of India Inc. by taking them up with the Bangladesh Government in near future and asked Indian companies not to reject Bangladesh’s offer of land and other incentives to build Indian SEZs there.
Science & Technology
Ministry of Earth Sciences to launch ‘Deep Ocean Mission’ by January 2018
Three decades after it started a mission to search for metal resources on sea beds, the Ministry of Earth Sciences on Tuesday announced its next venture, the Deep Ocean Mission, slated to begin in January 2018.
- This will improve India’s position in ocean research field.
- The Ministry of Earth Sciences confirmed the participation of seven premier science agencies including NIO, ISRO and DRDO in the venture.
- A FGM (First Generation Mine-site) with an area of 18,000 sq km has been identified. Latest technologies for extraction of metals from the minerals have also been developed.
- Besides identifying the mineral resource and developing technologies for mining and extraction, the programme has also resulted in high impact research as well as manpower development.
- Detailed environmental data has been collected for compliance with International Seabed Authorities requirements. This is required as the mining activity on large scale should not adversely affect the coast of other countries in the neighbourhood.
- India is one of the few countries to have conducted environmental impact assessment of experimental mining in the deep sea.
- The program on poly metallic nodules was initiated at CSIR-NIO with the collection of the first nodule sample from Arabian Sea on board the first research vessel Gaveshani on January 26,1981.
- India was the first country in the world to have been given the pioneer area for exploration of deep-sea mineral, namely, polymetallic nodules in the Central Indian Ocean Basin in 1987.
- This was based on the extensive surveys carried out by the scientists of CSIR-NIO, on several research ships leading to the allocation of an area of 150,000 sq km to the country with exclusive rights under the UN Law of the sea.
- Subsequently, Environment Impact Assessment studies for nodule mining by CSIR-NIO, development of metal extraction process by CSIR-National Metallurgical Laboratory, Jamshedpur and CSIR- Institute for Minerals and Metals Technology, Bhubaneswar and development of mining technology by National Institute of Ocean Technology, Chennai, have been taken up under the national program on Polymetallic nodules funded by Ministry of Earth Sciences.
- Based on the resource evaluation, India has now retained an area of 75,000 sq km with an estimated resource of about 100 million tons of strategic metals such Copper,Nickel, Cobalt besides Manganese and Iron.
What are Polymetallic Nodules?
- Polymetallic nodules (PMN) are also known as manganese nodules.
- They are potato-shaped, largely porous nodules found in abundance carpeting the sea floor in the deep sea of the world oceans.
Polymetallic Nodules contain:
- Besides manganese and iron, they contain nickel, copper, cobalt, lead, molybdenum, cadmium, vanadium, titanium.
- Of these metals nickel, cobalt and copper are considered to be of economic and strategic importance.
The International Seabed Authority (ISA) is an autonomous international organization established under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
- ISA governs non-living resources of the seabed lying in international waters.
- It was established to organize, regulate and control all mineral-related activities in the international seabed area beyond the limits of national jurisdiction, an area underlying most of the world’s oceans.
Key Facts for Prelims
- Unable to run due to cash-crunch, the Maharashtra government has shut down the State Institution of Education Technology, popularly known as Balchitravani.
- Balchitravani was set up by the Maharashtra government, under the instructions and funding of Central government, in 1984 to bolster children’s education.
- Balchitravani has been producing audio-visual educational programs for students and teachers.
- Doordarshan used to broadcast its programs regularly without charging fees. Till now Balchitravani has produced more than 6000 audio-visuals.
- However, in 2002, Central government decided to stop its funding and asked the state to fund it. State in 2003 expressed its inability to fund the organisation.
India is no longer the fastest-growing economy
- India’s latest quarterly GDP growth has slowed sharply to 6.1 per cent from 7 per cent the previous quarter, clocking the slowest growth rate in two years.
- As a result, India has lost its coveted title of fastest growing economy in the world, falling behind China, which posted GDP growth of 6.9 percent for the first quarter in 2017.
- The latest GDP numbers were dragged down heavily by a slowdown in construction, manufacturing and trade services sectors.
- The GDP numbers were based on the new 2011-12 base year recently adopted for data including the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) and Wholesale Price Index (WPI).
Hindi Sevi Samman Awards
- The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee presented the Hindi Sevi Samman Awards for the year 2015 at a function held at Rashtrapati Bhavan.
- These Awards were instituted by Central Hindi Institute, Agra in 1989.
- The scholars received awards in 12 different categories for their contribution in the field of Hindi language and literature.