Polity & Governance
- Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban Launches Smart Star-Rating for Garbage Free Cities
- Government names nine cities for smart makeover
Government Schemes & Policies
- Over 130 babies born in 4 years of ‘Jiyo Parsi’ scheme
- ‘Bharat Ke Veer’ anthem unveiled
- Mauritius largest source of FDI in India, says RBI
- Centre to declare 2018 as ‘national year of millets’
- RBI, government may extend deadline for banks to switch to Ind AS
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- Mangalajodi Ecotourism Trust wins prestigious UNWTO Award
- Mercedes unveils India’s first, locally made BS-VI car
- India plans automated ocean pollution observation
Key Facts for Prelims
- Coast Guard patrol vessel Vijaya
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Polity & Governance
Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban Launches Smart Star-Rating for Garbage Free Cities
Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has launched the ‘Protocol for Star Rating of Garbage-Free Cities’ in Goa.
About the star rating initiative:
- The star-rating initiative, developed by the Swachh Bharat Mission – Urban will be rating cities on a 7-star rating system based on multiple cleanliness indicators for solid waste management.
Following are some of the cleanliness indicators:
The cleanliness indicators would include:
- Door to door collection
- Bulk generator compliance
- Source segregation
- Scientific processing of waste
- Scientific land filling
- Plastic waste management
- Construction and demolition management
- Dump remediation & citizen grievance redressal system.
Vision statement of the star-rating protocol states that
- All cities achieve “Garbage Free” status wherein at any point of time in the day,
- No garbage or litter is found in any public, commercial or residential locations (including storm drains and water bodies) in the city (except in litter bins or transfer stations);
- 100% of waste generated is scientifically managed;
- All legacy waste has been remediated and city is scientifically managing its municipal solid waste, plastic waste and construction & demolition waste.
- Additionally, there must be a steady reduction in the waste generated by the city and visible beautification of the city to achieve a clean & aesthetically pleasing city”.
How are cities given rating?
- Cities can be rated as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 7 star based on their compliance with the protocol conditions specified for each of the rating.
- Further city should be ODF (Open Defecation Free) before it could be given rating of 3 star or above. While cities may self-declare themselves as 1-star, 2-star or 4-star, MoHUA will carry out an additional verification through an independent third party to certify cities as 3-star, 5-star or 7-star. Cities will need to get recertified themselves every year to retain their star-status.
Significance of the initiative:
- The most significant feature of the rating protocol is that it provides stakeholders with a single metric to rate a city’s cleanliness, rather than separately evaluating multiple factors which contribute to a city’s overall cleanliness and garbage free status.
- The distinctive feature of Star Rating System will be that many cities can have higher stars as compared to only one city can be “Cleanest city” under Swachh Survekshan.
Government names nine cities for smart makeover
The Union government has announced a new batch of 9 smart cities under Smart City Mission.
- With the addition of these 9 smart cities in the fourth round, the total cities picked up under Smart City Mission have reached 99.
The nine cities include:
- Uttar Pradesh –Moradabad, Bareilly and Saharanpur,
- Bihar Sharif (Bihar),
- Silvassa (Dadra and Nagar Havelli),
- Erode (Tamil Nadu),
- Daman and Diu,
- Itanagar (Arunachal Pradesh) and
- Kavaratti (Lakshadweep).
Silvasa topped the list of winners in this round.
About Smart City Mission:
The Smart City Mission is flagship scheme of Union Government that will cover 100 cities and its duration is five years (2015-16 to 2019-20).
- The focus of mission is on sustainable and inclusive development and set examples which can be replicated in other parts of the city and other cities of the country.
- Bottom-up approach has been the key planning principle under Smart City Mission.
- Under the scheme, each city will get Rs.500 crore (Rs. 100 crore per year) from the Centre for implementing various projects.
- Centre is going to spent Rs. 48,000 crore over five years. States will contribute matching fund of Rs. 48,000 crore from their internal resources or through market borrowing and through private sector.
- The implementation of the Mission at the City level will be done by a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) created for the purpose.
- The SPV will plan, appraise, approve, release funds, implement, manage, operate, monitor and evaluate the Smart City development projects.
- Each smart city will have a SPV which will be headed by a full time CEO and have nominees of Central Government, State Government and ULB on its Board.
- The selection of the cities was based on scores of cities for carrying out urban reforms in areas including sanitation and governance.
- Cities that score highest were picked for the project, to be implemented over a 10-year period.
- There are 10 core infrastructure elements to be undertaken under Smart City Mission viz. adequate water supply; assured electricity supply; efficient urban mobility and public transport; sanitation, including solid waste management; affordable housing, especially for the poor; robust IT connectivity and digitalization; good governance, especially e-Governance and citizen participation; sustainable environment; safety and security of citizens, particularly women, children and the elderly; and health and education.
Government Schemes & Policies
Over 130 babies born in 4 years of ‘Jiyo Parsi’ scheme
Since the government launched the Jiyo Parsi scheme in 2013 to address the Parsi community’s declining population, over 130 babies were born.
- The information was furnished by the Parzor Foundation which is implementing the scheme along with the Union minority affairs ministry.
Reasons for decline in Parsi population in India:
The population of Parsis plunged from 1.14 lakh in 1941 to 57,264 in 2011.
- The sharp decline in the birth rate in the community — located mainly in Maharashtra’s Mumbai and parts of Gujarat – is attributed to socio-psychological reasons.
- These include Parsis having late or non-marriages, its members marrying with people outside the community and also many couples not willing to have babies.
About Jiyo Parsi scheme:
- Declining population of parsi community in India is a matter of concern. Therefore, “Jiyo Parsi Publicity Phase-1” was initiated in 2013 for containing the declining trend of population of the Parsi community and reverse it to bring their population above the threshold level.
- It is a 100 per cent central sector scheme.
- The main objective of the “Jiyo Parsi” scheme is to reverse the declining trend of Parsi population by adopting a scientific protocol and structured interventions, stabilize their population and increase the population of Parsis in India.
- The scheme has two components: Medical Assistance and Advocacy/Counselling.
‘Bharat Ke Veer’ anthem unveiled
Home Minister Rajnath Singh launched an official anthem for “Bharat Ke Veer”, an initiative with a corpus fund to help the families of paramilitary troopers killed in the line of duty.
- The anthem, sung and composed by singer Kailash Kher.
About Bharat ke Veer:
- Bharat ke Veer is a web portal and mobile application.
- The portal and application is an IT based platform to enable willing donors to contribute towards the family of a braveheart who have sacrificed their life in line of duty.
- The platform is technically supported by National Informatics Centre (NIC) and powered by State Bank of India (SBI).
- The amount so donated through it will be credited to the account of ‘Next of Kin’ of those Central Armed Police Force or Central Para Military Force soldiers.
- To ensure maximum coverage, a cap of Rs. 15 lakh is imposed on donation and donors will be alerted if amount exceeds, so they can choose to divert part of the donation to another account or the corpus.
- Bharat Ke Veer corpus will be managed by a committee made up of eminent persons of repute and senior Government officials.
- The committee will decide to disbursement of fund equitably to braveheart’s family on need basis.
Mauritius largest source of FDI in India, says RBI
Recently the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has released ‘Census on Foreign Liabilities and Assets of Indian Direct Investment Companies 2016-17’.
- As per the census, Mauritius was the highest source of India’s Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), followed by the US and UK in 2016-17.
- The census yields comprehensive information on the market value of foreign liabilities and assets of Indian companies arising on account of FDI, ODI and other investments.
- It is important to note that changes in outstanding asset/liabilities would be different from flows recorded in the balance of payments (BoP) during a year, as the former would also include valuation changes due to price and exchange rate movements.
Highlights of the census report:
- Mauritius was the largest source of FDI in India (21.8 percent share at market value), followed by the USA, the UK, Singapore and Japan.
- Singapore (19.7 percent) was the major FDI destination, followed by the Netherlands, Mauritius, and the USA.
- According to the data, manufacturing sector accounted for nearly half of the total FDI at market prices.
- Information and communication services, and financial and insurance activities were the other major sectors that attracted FDI.
- Ninety-six percent of the responding companies were unlisted in March 2017 and most of them had received only inward FDI; unlisted companies had a higher share of FDI equity capital vis-à-vis listed companies.
Centre to declare 2018 as ‘national year of millets’
Nutrient-rich millets have got a boost with the Union government deciding to declare 2018 as the ‘national year of millets’.
- This decision has been taken following a request by Karnataka, which is the country’s leader in the millet sector.
- Earlier in November 2017, India had forwarded proposal to United Nations (UN) for declaring year 2018 as ‘International Year of Millets’.
- Observation of Year of Millets will help in promotion of production and consumption of millets will substantially contribute in fight against targeted hunger and mitigate effect of climate change in long run.
- Popularizing millets will also benefit future generations of farmers as well as consumers.
All about Millets:
- Millet is a common term that categorize small-seeded grasses termed as ‘Nutri-Cereals’ or ‘Dryland-Cereals’.
- These nutri-cereals are sorghum, pearl millet, ragi, small millet, foxtail millet, proso millet, barnyard millet, kodo millet and other millets.
- Millet is an important staple cereal crop for millions of dryland farmers across Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.
Benefits of Millets:
- Millets are smart food and good for consumers, farmers and planet multiple and has untapped uses such as food, feed, biofuels and brewing.
- Millets offer nutrition, income and livelihood for farmers even in difficult times.
- They can be used in various forms such as food, feed, fodder, biofuels and brewing.
- They are nutritionally superior to wheat & rice as they have higher levels of protein with more balanced amino acid profile, crude fiber & minerals such as Iron, Zinc, and Phosphorous.
- They can offer nutritional security and act as a shield against nutritional deficiency, especially among children and women.
- Some major deficiencies such as anaemia (iron deficiency), B-complex vitamin deficiency, pellagra (niacin deficiency) can be dealt easily with intake of less expensive but nutritionally rich millets.
- Millets can also help tackle health challenges such as obesity, diabetes and lifestyle problems as they are gluten free, have a low glycemic index and are high in dietary fibre and antioxidants.
- Moreover, in times of climate change, they will be the last crop standing and will be a good risk management strategy for resource-poor marginal farmers.
- As per the government, Millets are Smart Food as they are ‘Good for You, Good for the Farmer and Good for the Planet’.
RBI, government may extend deadline for banks to switch to Ind AS
The government and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) may postpone the implementation of new accounting standards for banks.
- Because of the legislative changes and additional capital requirements the process would entail.
- The implementation of Ind AS for public sector banks requires an amendment to the Banking Regulation Act.
- The schedule in BR Act relating to financial statement disclosures needs to be changed to the IndAS format.
- Banks and non-banking financial companies are due to switch to Indian Accounting Standards (IndAS) from 1 April 2018. They currently follow Indian generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) standards. Other corporate entities started complying with IndAS with effect from 1 April 2016.
- Section 29 of the BR Act deals with the accounts and balance sheets of public sector banks.
- Private sector banks are covered by the Companies Act, which is based on the new accounting standards.
What is Ind AS or Indian Accounting Standards?
IndAS or Indian Accounting Standards govern the accounting and recording of financial transactions as well as the presentation of statements such as profit and loss account and balance sheet of a company.
- Ind AS was issued by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) in 2015.
- IndAS guidelines have been framed according to International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).
- Implementation of the new accounting standards is likely to impact bad-loan provisions for banks.
- For long, there has been a heated debate about Indian companies moving to the globally accepted International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) for their accounts.
- But firms have resisted this shift, stating that this will lead too many changes in the capture and reporting of their numbers.
- Ind AS has been evolved as a compromise formula that tries to harmonise Indian accounting rules with the IFRS.
Significance of Ind AS:
- Ind AS will not just change the way companies present their numbers, but may also bump up or knock down the profits/losses of firms.
- Ind AS advocates the ‘fair value’ method of accounting.
- The new Ind AS also promises clearer disclosures to investors in certain cases.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
Mangalajodi Ecotourism Trust wins prestigious UNWTO Award
Situated on the banks of Chilika Lake in Odisha, Mangalajodi Ecotourism Trust has won the prestigious United Nations World Tourism Organisation Awards at the 14th UNWTO Awards ceremony held in Madrid, Spain.
- The trust was honoured with the coveted award for “Innovation in Tourism Enterprise”.
- The award was given in recognition of Mangalajodi’s business model that is both economically viable and environmentally sustainable based on principles of community ownership and Eco Tourism.
About Mangalajodi Ecotourism Trust:
- Mangalajodi Ecotourism Trust is a community owned and managed venture promoted by RBS Foundation India and Indian Grameen Services.
- The villagers of Mangalajodi were once associated with poaching of birds near Chilika Lake but now they stand as true defenders of wildlife in the region. The change was mainly due to a coordinated effort in implementing an awareness campaign on importance of preserving natural species and benefits associated with wildlife tourism.
- The change has soared numbers of birds from 2000 (during peak unsustainable hunting) to over three lakh in the region.
- Other visible impacts this change has resulted in increasing revenue through ecotourism, sharp fall in poaching incidents and increasing support of villagers.
- The relevance of the award is further amplified as United Nations (UN) General Assembly recently adopted 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism.
About Chilika Lagoon:
- Chilika Lagoon is the largest coastal lagoon in Indiaand the second largest lagoon in the world after the New Caledonian barrier reef in New Caledonia.
- Asia’s largest brackish water lagoon It is Asia’s largest salt-water lagoonand is separated from the Bay of Bengal by a sandy ridge.
- Covers an area more than 1100 sq km along the east coast of India in the state of Odisha.
- The water spread area of the Lagoon varies between 1165 to 906 sq.km during the monsoon and summer respectively.
- A 32 km long, narrow, outer channel connects the lagoon to the Bay of Bengal.
- Chilika Lagoon lies in the districts of Puri, Khurda and Ganjam of Odisha State along the eastern coast of India.
- It is well connected to the Chennai and Kolkata through National Highway No 5, and the Chennai Kolkata rail line passes along the western bank of the Lagoon Balugaon, with Balugaon, Chilika and Rambha being the main stations along the Western shoreline of the lagoon.
- It is the largest wintering ground for migratory waterfowl found anywhere on the Indian sub-continent.
- It is one of the hotspot of biodiversity in the country, and some rare, vulnerable and endangered species listed in the IUCN Red List of threatened Animals inhabit in the lagoon for at least part of their life cycle.
- On account of its rich bio-diversity and ecological significance, Chilika was designated as the 1st “Ramsar Site” of India.
- The Nalaban Islandwithin the lagoon is notified as a Bird Sanctuary under Wildlife (Protection) Act, the National Wetlands, mangroves and coral reefs Committee of Ministry of Environment & Forests, Government of India, have also identified the lagoon as a priority site for conservation and management.
About World Tourism Organization (UNWTO):
UNWTO is the United Nations agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism.
Functions of UNWTO:
- As the leading international organization in the field of tourism, UNWTO promotes tourism as a driver of economic growth, inclusive development and environmental sustainability and offers leadership and support to the sector in advancing knowledge and tourism policies worldwide.
- UNWTO encourages the implementation of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, to maximize tourism’s socio-economic contribution while minimizing its possible negative impacts.
- It is also committed to promoting tourism as an instrument in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), geared towards reducing poverty and fostering sustainable development worldwide.
- UNWTO generates market knowledge, promotes competitive and sustainable tourism policies and instruments, fosters tourism education and training, and works to make tourism an effective tool for development through technical assistance projects in over 100 countries around the world.
Members of UNWTO:
- UNWTO’s membership includes 158 countries, 6 Associate Members and over 500 Affiliate Members representing the private sector, educational institutions, tourism associations and local tourism authorities.
Mercedes unveils India’s first, locally made BS-VI car
German auto major Mercedes-Benz unveiled a BS-VI-compliant S-Class produced at its Pune facility, more than two years ahead of the government deadline of April 2020 for switching to new emission norms.
- The government in a move to fight the growing pollution, had in October 2016 decided to skip one stage and migrate to BS-VI directly from BS-IV from April 2020.
- At present, all new vehicles being registered are BS- IV-emission compliant.
Significance of this launch:
- The introduction of the country’s first BS-VI vehicles is a significant milestone.
- This launch will pave the way for other manufacturers to introduce their vehicles which are compliant with new emission regulations.
- This will further accelerate adoption of cleaner vehicles and thereby achieve the objective of cleaner air.
- The introduction of the new fuel emission norms will drastically reduce pollution and help India advance to better technologies used globally.
India plans automated ocean pollution observation
India is all set to have its own automated ocean pollution observation system this year.
- The new ocean data acquisition system called automated moorings will be the first of its kind in India.
- The system will become functional by April this year and the cost of the project is estimated to be at Rs. 100 crore.
Need for such system:
- There are reports that the water is becoming anoxic and it could change the marine system. Anoxic waters are areas of sea water that are depleted of dissolved oxygen.
What is automated moorings?
- Automated moorings is an automated ocean pollution observation system which will help keep a tab on ocean pollution levels apart from offering insights on how the marine system is changing.
Advantages of automated moorings:
- The system will do away with the present practice of collecting water samples from sea and studying their pollution levels thereafter.
- It will also provide data that will help scientists to understand how the marine system is changing.
Key Facts for Prelims
Coast Guard patrol vessel Vijaya
- The second offshore patrol vessel (OPV), named Vijaya, built by the Larsen and Toubro Shipyard has been launched.
- The indigenously built vessel ‘Vijaya’, equipped with state-of art radar, navigational and communication system.
- It will be utilised for day and night patrol and surveillance, anti-terrorist, anti-smuggling operations and coastal security.