Polity & Governance
- India lauded for Red Line Campaign on antibiotics
- India planning ‘yoga’ visa
- ‘79% of women in North India have experienced sexual abuse’
- Hybrid annuity model for highways draws positive bids
- SEBI tightens P-note norms
- India and Slovenia have signed Protocol amending the India-Slovenia Double Taxation Avoidance Convention.
Environment & Ecology
- Cyclone Roanu drops anchor off AP
Art & Culture
- Culture Minister inaugurates exhibition to mark 125th birth anniversary of Frontier Gandhi
- 500-year-old ‘mud’ palace to get a makeover
Science & Technology
- Intelligent Operations Centre and Mobile APP Monitor for Smart Presidents Estate
Polity & Governance
India lauded for Red Line Campaign on antibiotics
In its final report on tackling drug resistant infection released recently, the global Review on Antimicrobial Resistance has appreciated that India’s idea of putting a red line on antibiotic packages to curb their over-the-counter sale is now being cited as a model that can be used globally to counter the rising threat of superbugs.
- The global Review on Antimicrobial Resistance was commissioned by UK Prime Minister David Cameron in 2014 and chaired by economist Jim O’Neill.
Highlights of the report:
- The report notes that common labelling standards of this type could become a condition of sale of antibiotics around the world.
- The report stresses that convincing people to stop using antibiotics would not be effective unless people recognise antibiotics.
- The report says laws prevent sale of antibiotics and other antimicrobials over-the-counter, but these may be weakly enforced in some countries and non-existent in many.
- It says 20-30 per cent of antibiotics are consumed without prescription in south and east Europe, and up to 100 per cent in parts of Africa.
About India’s Red Line campaign:
- Launched in February 2016, India’s Red Line campaign began marking prescription-only antibiotics with a red line to curb their irrational use and create awareness on the dangers of taking antibiotics without being prescribed.
- The move is aimed at discouraging unnecessary prescription and over-the-counter sale of antibiotics causing drug resistance for several critical diseases including TB, malaria, urinary tract infection and even HIV.
India planning ‘yoga’ visa
The Union government is planning to introduce a new category of visa to promote yoga, to help make India the world destination for yoga enthusiasts.
- The government is planning a ‘yoga’ visa ahead of the 2nd International Day of Yoga on June 21.
- Currently, there are 18 types of visas which include diplomatic, mountaineering, employment, tourist, medical, student, research and conference, among others.
- Last year, the government accorded special status to yoga by categorising its promotion as a charitable activity, giving its promoters tax exemption benefits.
About International Day of Yoga:
- On India’s request, the United Nations had designated June 21 as the International Day of Yoga in 2014.
- The announcement came after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech at the U.N. General Assembly the same year.
‘79% of women in North India have experienced sexual abuse’
According to a survey, 79% of women in North India have experienced sexual abuse.
- Action Aid — a global charity, has commissioned a poll by YouGov, which interviewed women across the globe from countries like Brazil, India, Thailand and the United Kingdom.
Highlights of the survey:
- According to the survey, 40% of women interviewed said they had experienced at least one of these forms of abuse — being groped in public transport or bus stops; getting stared at or being called names; being stalked or followed; or being sexually molested.
- According to the survey, in North India, 89% of women said they had experienced harassment of some sort, with 50% having experienced unwelcome physical contact of a sexual nature.
- In Britain, 43% of women polled said they felt at risk of harassment on city streets and 36% felt at risk when travelling on public transport.
Hybrid annuity model for highways draws positive bids
According to a report published by ratings agency ICRA, the Hybrid Annuity Model (HAM) for awarding highway contracts introduced by the Indian government last year, is beginning to find some traction after an initial lukewarm response from infrastructure players.
Reasons for good response:
An aggressive promotion of the model by the NHAI (National Highways Authority of India) through awareness campaigns to lenders and developers has yielded positive results.
About Hybrid Annuity Model:
- Under the Hybrid Annuity Model (HAM), the government will invest 40% of the construction cost for building highways and the balance will come from the private developer.
- The government will invest money in five equal installments based on the targeted completion of the road project.
- The private developer will recover his investment from the government by receiving annuity payments over a period of 15 years.
- Under this model, the highway toll tax will be collected by the government unlike the build, operate and transfer (BOT) toll model where the private sector collects it. So, there is no revenue or traffic risk on the part of the developer.
Significance of the Model:
- All major stakeholders in the PPP arrangement – the Authority, lender and the developer, concessionaire would have an increased comfort level resulting in revival of the sector through renewed interest of private developers/investors in highway projects.
- It will bring relief thereby to citizens / travellers in the area of a respective project.
- It will facilitate uplifting the socio-economic condition of the entire nation due to increased connectivity across the length and breadth of the country leading to enhanced economic activity.
- The move will speed up the construction of roads in the country by renewing interest of private developers in highway projects as the risk will be distributed between the government and the private players.
- It is a fairly sensible risk-sharing model because it requires the private sector to focus on areas which bring in efficiency mainly in capital cost, project completion time and quality.
- This model will also bring in long-term infrastructure funds like pension funds into the sector.
- This model is also expected to double the speed of highway construction in the country as the government will no longer will be dependent on its limited financial resources and the expertise of private sector will be utilised to operate and maintain the roads.
SEBI tightens P-note norms
Capital market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has tightened rules on issue of participatory notes (P-notes).
- The move is aimed to bring in more transparency and curb misuse of the investment route used by foreign investors not registered in India.
- The tightening follows concerns raised by a Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigations Team (SIT) on black money.
New Rules proposed by SEBI:
- To set a better handle on the ultimate beneficiary of P-note, SEBI has said Indian know your customer (KYC) or anti-money laundering rules (AML) will be applicable to P-note holders. Earlier, a P-note holder had to adhere to KYC or AML norms of just their home jurisdiction.
- SEBI has also issued curbs on transferability of P-notes between two foreign investors. It has also increased the frequency of reporting by P-note issuers.
- SEBI also made it mandatory for the top 500 listed companies to have a policy for declaring dividends to investors.
- In a relief to stock exchanges, SEBI also did away with the requirement of transferring a quarter of their profits towards settlement guarantee funds (SGFs). SEBI also said it will issue a consultation paper seeking changes to the Infrastructure Investment Trusts (InVIT) regulations.
- SEBI board also approved changes to consent rules to provide more clarity to its officers in approaching such cases. The regulator also proposed changes to the SEBI Act to provide its officer more discretion to impose appropriate penalties on wrongdoers. The need for the change occurred after the Supreme Court in the matter of Roofit Industries had asked SEBI to levy maximum monetary penalties and not use discretion.
What is P-notes?
- P-notes, or off-shore derivatives instruments (ODIs), allow foreign investors to take exposure to Indian stocks without registering with SEBI.
- These instruments are issued by foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) registered with SEBI.
- Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Credit Suisse are among the biggest P-note issuers on the Indian market.
Currently, around 10 per cent of foreign flows are through the P-note route.
Implications of the new rules:
- The new rules could make P-notes costly for investors, which could impact flows coming into India.
- It will ensure more transparency in KYC and all related transactions.
- At present, it is not mandatory under any regulations for companies to declare dividends or to even have a policy, although a handful of companies have voluntary formulated a policy for doling out dividends. Now, SEBI’s dividend disclosure policy will provide more certainty to investors and to some extent takes away the power of Indian promoters to distribute dividend depending on their personal needs for money.
India and Slovenia have signed Protocol amending the India-Slovenia Double Taxation Avoidance Convention.
India and Slovenia have signed a Protocol amending the existing Convention and Protocol between the two countries for avoidance of double taxation and prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income.
- The Protocol will broaden the scope of the existing framework of exchange of tax related information which will help curb tax evasion and tax avoidance between the two countries and will also enable mutual assistance in collection of taxes.
Environment & Ecology
Cyclone Roanu drops anchor off AP
Cyclonic storm Roanu, which lay centred 80 km southeast of Machilipatnam, Andhra Pradesh is likely to move along the Andhra Pradesh coast and, thereafter, north-eastwards.
- The India Meteorological Department has issued “orange” warning (cyclone warning) to the Andhra Pradesh and Odisha coasts, and “yellow” warning (cyclone alert) to the West Bengal coast.
- Five teams of the National Disaster Response Force, comprising 100 personnel each, are in a state of preparedness in the Krishna, East Godavari and Visakhapatnam districts.
About Cyclonic Storm Roanu:
Cyclonic Storm Roanu is an active tropical cyclone in the Bay of Bengal currently affecting the eastern coast of India.
- It is the first tropical cyclone of the annual cyclone season.
- Roanu originated from a low pressure area that formed south of Sri Lanka.
- It gradually drifted north and intensified into a cyclonic storm.
- Roanu also brought torrential rainfall to the Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh and is currently affecting Odisha and West Bengal.
How are the Weather Warnings categorised?
Weather Warnings are presented in three categories:
STATUS YELLOW – Weather Alert – Be Aware
- The concept behind YELLOW level weather alerts is to notify those who are at risk because of their location and/or activity, and to allow them to take preventative action.
- It is implicit that YELLOW level weather alerts are for weather conditions that do not pose an immediate threat to the general population, but only to those exposed to risk by nature of their location and/or activity.
STATUS ORANGE – Weather Warning – Be Prepared
- This category of ORANGE level weather warnings is for weather conditions which have the capacity to impact significantly on people in the affected areas.
- The issue of an Orange level weather warning implies that all recipients in the affected areas should prepare themselves in an appropriate way for the anticipated conditions.
STATUS RED – Severe Weather Warning – Take Action
- The issue of RED level severe weather warnings should be a comparatively rare event and implies that recipients take action to protect themselves and/or their properties; this could be by moving their families out of the danger zone temporarily; by staying indoors; or by other specific actions aimed at mitigating the effects of the weather conditions.
Art & Culture
Culture Minister inaugurates exhibition to mark 125th birth anniversary of Frontier Gandhi
Culture Minister Dr Mahesh Sharma has inaugurated the exhibition ‘Frontier Gandhi and the Indian Freedom Movement’ to commemorate the 125th birth anniversary of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan in New Delhi.
About Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan:
Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan (1890-1988) is better remembered in India as Frontier Gandhi, and in Pakistan as Bacha Khan.
- He was a Pashtun independence activist against the rule of the British Raj.
- He was a political and spiritual leader known for his nonviolent opposition, and a lifelong pacifist and devout Muslim.
- A close friend of Mohandas Gandhi, Bacha Khan was nicknamed the “Frontier Gandhi” in British India.
- Bacha Khan founded the Khudai Khidmatgar(“Servants of God”) movement in 1929, whose success triggered a harsh crackdown by the British Empire against him and his supporters, and they suffered some of the most severe repression of the Indian independence movement.
- Badshah Khan strongly opposed the All-India Muslim League’s demand for the partition of India.
- When the Indian National Congress declared its acceptance of the partition plan without consulting the Khudai Khidmatgar leaders, he felt very sad and told the Congress “you have thrown us to the wolves.
- After partition, Badshah Khan pledged allegiance to Pakistan and demanded an autonomous “Pashtunistan” administrative unit within the country, but he was frequently arrested by the Pakistani government between 1948 and 1954.
500-year-old ‘mud’ palace to get a makeover
The restoration of a part of the 500-year-old ‘mud’ palace in Sural village, about 30 km from Udupi, Karnataka will be completed soon.
- Its restoration was taken up three years ago by the Nirmiti Kendra at a cost of Rs. 1.6 crore, funded by the Department of Archaeology, Museums and Heritage, under the Ministry of Kannada and Culture.
Features of the palace:
- One unique feature of the palace is that it has no foundation.
- Hopea-wood, jack-wood and wild jack-wood were used in its construction. Wooden pillars support the roof, using the inter-locking method. Not a single nail was used.
- The palace, which belongs to the House of Tulu Jain Tholahars, the Jain chieftains, who ruled parts of Udupi district, is said to be have been built in 1511.
- The Tholahars were prominent till 1691 as per a copper plate inscription of Queen Madanadevi Tholaharti.
- They ruled from Sural for 400 years and co-operated with the Alupa and Vijayanagara dynasties.
Science & Technology
Intelligent Operations Centre and Mobile APP Monitor for Smart Presidents Estate
President Pranab Mukherjee has inaugurated the intelligent operations centre (IOC) and launched a mobile application, ‘Monitor’, aimed at turning the President’s Estate into a smart township.
The Smart President’s Estate technology solution will result in rationalisation through monitoring, education, better coordination and management.
- The IOC is a software solution designed by IBM which helps collect and make sense of the rich data streaming in from several sources within the Estate to provide intelligent insights.
- It offers integrated data visualization, near real-time collaboration and deep analytics that will help agencies prepare for problems, coordinate and manage response efforts and enhance efficiency of services.
About the mobile application, ‘Monitor’:
The “Monitor” mobile application is a Residents collaboration tool of the Intelligent Operation Center.
- This will help residents and domain (Energy, Water, Horticulture, Waste and Security) supervisors to collaborate in a smarter way for their observations.
- It will enable residents to report issues such as broken street lights, electricity failure, water wastage etc. and check resolution status using their mobile devices.
- This mobile application will allow residents to report these issues using their mobile devices in the Estate on a real time basis.
- These reported observations can be used to provide enough details such as location coordinates, address etc to concerned departments. This will help the residents of the Estate become more socially responsible, aware and collaborative.