Government Schemes & Policies
- Cabinet approves new skill development scheme for textile sector
- Lok Sabha passes Immovable Property (Amendment) Bill
- World Bank provides loans of $125 m for STRIVE project
Issues related to Health & Education
- India’s first National Rail and Transportation University at Vadodara
- Pare Hydroelectric Plant: Pact singed for additional funding
- Indian Railways plans to make all stations 100% LED lit by March 31, 2018
Bilateral & International Relations
- India to lead reform process of Kimberley Certification Scheme
- India, Sri Lanka complete 2nd phase of joint oceanographic survey
Key Facts for Prelims
- Naseem-Al-Bahr 2017
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Government Schemes & Policies
Cabinet approves new skill development scheme for textile sector
The Union Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved a new skill development scheme – Scheme for Capacity Building in Textiles Sector (SCBTS).
About the scheme:
The Scheme for Capacity Building in Textiles Sector (SCBTS) will have National Skill Qualification Framework (NSQF) compliant training courses with funding norms as per the common norms notified by Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship.
- The scheme covers the textile sector’s entire value chain excluding spinning and weaving in the organised sector, from 2017-18 to 2019-20 at an outlay of Rs 1,300 crore.
- The objectives of the scheme are to provide demand driven, placement oriented skilling programme to incentivise the efforts of the industry in creating jobs in the organised textile and related sectors.
- The scheme aims to promote skilling and skill up-gradation in the traditional sectors through respective sectoral divisions/organisations of Ministry of Textiles; and to provide livelihood to all sections of the society across the country.
- The skilling programmes would be implemented through textile Industry /Units, reputed training institutions and Institutions of Ministry of Textiles /State Governments having placement tie-ups with textile industry/units.
- The scheme will be implemented for the benefit of all sections of the society across the country including rural, remote, LWE affected, North East, J&K by imparting skills in the identified job roles.
- Preference will be given to various social groups, SC, ST, differently abled, minorities and other vulnerable groups.
- Around 10 lakh people are expected to be skilled and certified in various segments of textile sector through the scheme, including about one lakh in traditional sectors.
[Ref: PIB, Indian Express]
Lok Sabha passes Immovable Property (Amendment) Bill
The Lok Sabha has passed Requisitioning and Acquisition of Immovable Property (Amendment) Bill, 2017 to make it easier for government to acquire immovable property for “national security and defence purpose”.
Highlights of the Bill:
- The Requisitioning and Acquisition of Immovable Property (Amendment) Bill 2017 amends the original 1952 Act to allow the Centre to reissue the acquisition notice in case the property’s owner wants to be given a hearing.
- As per the amendment, the compensation rates that will be payable will be fixed at the date of publication of the first notice in addition to an interest.
- The amended bill is aimed at addressing cases where the property owner is able, after prolonged litigation, to get the acquisition notice quashed in the court so as to be given a hearing.
- The amended bill provides that the government need not pay compensation at the current market rate as is applicable on the date of issuing the fresh notice.
Significance of the bill:
- The amendment to the Requisitioning and Acquisition of Immovable Property Act, 1952 has been done in the interest of the security of the nation. It will help corrupt elements from taking undue advantage by misusing the litigation process.
Critical analysis of the bill:
Some Parliamentarians objected the bill on following grounds:
- Whether the House has the powers to make legislation with retrospective effect from 1952.
- The bill should mention “only in national interest” so as to prevent misuse. If defence production is privatised for any reason, land should not be acquired for private companies.
- The bill is not in the interest of poorer land-owners who will get only 6% interest instead of the actual value of the land.
About Requisitioning and Acquisition of Immovable Property Act, 1952:
- The Act provides for central government to requisition immovable property or land for any public purpose such as defence, central government offices and residences.
- Once the purpose for which property was requisitioned is over, Central Government must return it back to owner in good condition as it was when possession was taken.
- The central government may acquire such requisitioned property in two cases:
Firstly, in case central government has constructed any work at such property and right to use such work is with government.
Secondly, in case cost of restoring requisitioned property to original condition is excessive and owner refuses to accept property without being compensated for restoring property.[Ref: The Hindu, Indian Express, PRSIndia]
World Bank provides loans of $125 m for STRIVE project
What is STRIVE project?
- The Skill Strengthening for Industrial Value Enhancement (STRIVE) project is an outcome focused scheme marking shift in government’s implementation strategy in vocational education and training from inputs to results.
- STRIVE will focus to improve on the quality and the market relevance of vocational training provided in ITIs and strengthen the apprenticeship programme through industry-cluster approach.
Why in news?
- India has inked Financing Agreement with World Bank for International Development Association (IDA) Credit of US $125 million (equivalent) for Skills Strengthening for Industrial Value Enhancement Operation (STRIVE) Project.
Objective of project
- To improve access to quality and market-driven vocational training and apprenticeships. The closing date for the project is 30th November, 2022.
Result areas for project include
- Improved Teaching and Learning
- Improved and Broadened Apprenticeship Training.
- Improved Performance of Industrial Training Institutes.
- Increased Capacities of State Governments to Support Industrial Training Institutes and Apprenticeship Training.
About International Development Association (IDA):
The International Development Association (IDA) is the part of the World Bank that helps the world’s poorest countries.
- Overseen by 173 shareholder nations, IDA aims to reduce poverty by providing loans (called “credits”) and grants for programs that boost economic growth, reduce inequalities, and improve people’s living conditions.
- IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 771 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa, and is the single largest source of donor funds for basic social services in these countries.
IDA and IBRD:
- IDA complements the World Bank’s original lending arm—the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD).
- IBRD was established to function as a self-sustaining business and provides loans and advice to middle-income and credit-worthy poor countries.
- IBRD and IDA share the same staff and headquarters and evaluate projects with the same rigorous standards.
Functions of the IDA:
- IDA lends money on concessional terms. This means that IDA credits have a zero or very low interest charge and repayments are stretched over 25 to 40 years, including a 5- to 10-year grace period. IDA also provides grants to countries at risk of debt distress.
- In addition to concessional loans and grants, IDA provides significant levels of debt relief through the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative and the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI).
Issues related to Health & Education
India’s first National Rail and Transportation University at Vadodara
The Union Cabinet has approved proposal of Ministry of Railways to set up first ever National Rail and Transport University (NRTU) in Vadodara to skill its human resources and build capability.
- The University will be set up as Deemed to Be University under de novo category as per UGC (Institutions Deemed to be Universities) Regulations, 2016.
- The Ministry of Railways will set up a not-for-profit Company under Section 8 of the Companies Act, 2013 as Managing Company of proposed university.
- The company will provide financial and infrastructural support to the university and appoint Chancellor and Pro-Chancellor of the university.
- Board of Management of the company will comprise of professionals and academics. It will be independent of Managing Company with full autonomy to perform its academic and administrative responsibilities.
- The funding of the new University will entirely come from Ministry of Railways.
Need for such university:
Indian Railways has embarked ambitious projects such as High Speed Trains (popularly known as bullet train) between Mumbai and Ahmedabad. It will include massive infrastructure modernisation, Dedicated Freight Corridors (DFCs), highest focus on safety etc.
- Indian Railways will require high level of proficiency and skills.
- Further, factors such as unprecedented growth in the transportation sector in India, increased requirement of qualified manpower and upgradation of skills and capability required to drive the transformation of Indian Railways have necessitated a world-class training hub.
- This university will support ‘Startup India’ and ‘Skill India’ by channeling technology and delivering knowhow, and foster entrepreneurship, generating large scale employment opportunities.
- This will help for transformation of railway and transportation sector and enable faster movement of people and goods.
- It will have ‘Centres of Excellence’ showcasing high-end, niche technology like High Speed Train.
Pare Hydroelectric Plant: Pact singed for additional funding
A Loan agreement and a Guarantee agreement for providing additional funding of Euro 20 million has been signed for the project ‘Pare Hydroelectric Plant’ under Indo-German Bilateral Development Cooperation.
About the Pare Hydroelectric project:
The Pare Hydro Electric Project (2 x 55 MW) is planned as a run-of-the-river scheme on the Dikrong River in the Papumpare District of Arunachal Pradesh.
- The broad objective of the project is generation of hydroelectric power for socio-economic development of the North Eastern Region.
- The purpose of the project is efficient and ecological friendly generation of electric power. This will contribute to the economic efficient generation of power, growth in the North East region and protection of global climate.
About Dikrong River:
The Dikrong is one of the major north bank tributaries of the river Brahmaputra, which originates from the lesser Himalayan ranges in Arunachal Pradesh.
- A number of rivulets join the river Dikrong on its left and right banks before it outfalls into the Brahmaputra in Assam.
- The total length of river Dikrong is 145 kilometer. It flows through the hilly region of Arunachal Pradesh for a distance of about 113 kilometer and remaining 32 kilometers it flows through the plains of Assam.
- The river may be divided into two main reaches on the basis of topography, river gradient and the confluence of important rivers. These reaches are (i) The reach from the source to Harmutty. (ii) The reach from Harmutty to outfall of the Dikrong into the Brahmaputra.
Indian Railways plans to make all stations 100% LED lit by March 31, 2018
In an eco-friendly measure to cut power consumption, the Indian Railways has planned to make all railway stations 100 per cent LED lit by the end of current financial year by March 31, 2018.
Indian Railways’ energy efficiency drives:
- The Indian railways was actively working to provide 100 per cent LED lighting for energy needs in railway staff colonies, stations and platforms.
- The Railways has also issued directives to Zonal Railways to provide LED light fittings to residential quarters.
Significance of this initiative:
- It is a huge initiative to provide energy efficient lighting which will eventually greatly help in the conservation of environment as well.
- The initiative will reduce consumption by about 10 per cent of the total energy being utilised for its non-traction uses, conserving about 240 million units of electricity, which will save the Railways about Rs 180 crore annually.
Bilateral & International Relations
India to lead reform process of Kimberley Certification Scheme
In one of a landmark decisions favoring India’s leading position in Diamonds globally, India has been selected as the Chair of the Ad Hoc Committee on Review & Reforms to look into various issues pertaining to the Kimberley Process (KP) Certification Scheme.
- The KP Plenary Session is being held at Brisbane, Australia.
- India was appointed as the Kimberly Process (KP) Vice Chair for 2018 & Chair for 2019 in the last plenary held in Dubai in November, 2016.
- The EU will be KP Chair for 2018.
What is the Kimberley Process (KP)?
The Kimberley Process (KP) is an international certification scheme that regulates trade in rough diamonds.
- It aims to prevent the flow of conflict diamonds, while helping to protect legitimate trade in rough diamonds.
- The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) outlines the rules that govern the trade in rough diamonds.
- The KPCS has developed a set of minimum requirements that each participant must meet.
- The KP is not, strictly speaking, an international organisation: it has no permanent offices or permanent staff. It relies on the contributions – under the principle of ‘burden-sharing’ – of participants, supported by industry and civil society observers.
- Neither can the KP be considered as an international agreement from a legal perspective, as it is implemented through the national legislations of its participants.
Who is involved in the Kimberley Process (KP)?
- The Kimberley Process (KP) participants are states and regional economic integration organizations that are eligible to trade in rough diamonds.
- There are 54 participants representing 81 countries, with the European Community counting as a single participant.
- The participants include all major rough diamond producing, exporting and importing countries.
- The diamond industry, through the World Diamond Council, and civil society groups (Global witness, Partnership Africa Canada) are also integral parts of the KP.
- These organisations have been involved since the start and continue to contribute to its effective implementation and monitoring.
How the Kimberley Process works?
- The Kimberley Process (KP) is a binding agreement that imposes extensive requirements on every participant.
- The visible evidence of this commitment is The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) that both safeguards the shipment of ‘rough diamonds’ and certifies them as conflict free.
- Under the terms of the KPCS participants must:
What are conflict diamonds?
- Conflict diamonds, also known as ‘blood’ diamonds, are rough diamonds used by rebel movements or their allies to finance armed conflicts aimed at undermining legitimate governments.
About Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC):
- The Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) was set up by the Ministry of Commerce and industry, Government of India (GoI) in 1966.
- It was one of several Export Promotion Councils (EPCs) launched by the Indian Government, to boost the country’s export thrust, when India’s post-Independence economy began making forays in the international markets.
- Since 1998, the GJEPC has been granted autonomous status.
- The GJEPC is the apex body of the gems & jewellery industry and today it represents over 6,000 exporters in the sector.
India, Sri Lanka complete 2nd phase of joint oceanographic survey
The Indian Navy in collaboration with its Sri Lankan counterpart has successfully completed the second phase of the joint oceanographic survey conducted off the South Western Coast of Sri Lanka.
The aim of the joint survey is to update all the navigational charts covering the southern Sri Lankan waters with the latest hydrographic data.
- Indian navy has been working with its Sri Lankan counterpart to secure smooth navigation in Indian Ocean and the survey is part of the effort.
- The joint survey has updated all the navigational charts covering the southern Sri Lankan waters with the latest hydrographic data.
- The survey extended to a depth contour of 200 m from the coastline, ranging from capital city Colombo to southern city of Galle.
- The move will benefit the international shipping traffic passing the southern coast of Sri Lanka and will pave the way for blue economy.
Key Facts for Prelims
- The 11th edition of Naseem-Al-Bahr (also called ‘Sea Breeze’) 2017 Naval exercise between India and Oman was held at Said Bin Sultan Naval Base, Wudam in Oman.
- The first exercise Indian Navy with Royal Navy of Oman was conducted in 1993 and this year marks 24 years of Indian Navy -Royal Navy of Oman bilateral exercises.