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Current Affairs Analysis

21st June 2016 Current Affairs Analysis

New Berthing Policy; Kaladan Project; Sunway Taihulight; Potassium Bromate; Diego Garcia; etc.
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
June 21, 2016

Contents

Polity & Governance

  • New Berthing Policy for Dry Bulk Cargo for Major Ports

Economy

  • It’s 100% FDI in most sectors, including defence

Environment & Ecology

  • Vermin tag arbitrary, welfare board tells Supreme Court

International Relations

  • MoU signed between IWAI and IPGPL on the Kaladan Multimodal Transit Transport Project
  • AYUSH set to get international treatment

Art & Culture

  • Excavation in Gujarat uncovers monastic cells

Science & Technology

  • New Chinese system named world’s top supercomputer
  • Use of potassium bromate as food add-on banned
  • New drugs fail to crack resistance

Also in News

  • Fishermen released from Diego Garcia
  • 30% jump in yoga practitioners across big cities: survey

 

Polity & Governance

New Berthing Policy for Dry Bulk Cargo for Major Ports

Ministry of Shipping has formulated a new Berthing Policy for Dry Bulk Cargo for all Major Ports which will come into effect from 20th August, 2016.

The objective of the new Berthing Policy is to:

  • Reduce berthing time and overall turnaround time of ships,
  • Drive higher cargo throughput using the available infrastructure in major ports and
  • Improve utilization of port assets and create additional capacity without any significant capital investment among others.

Key facts:

  • Dry bulk cargo currently makes up 26% of the cargo handled at the 12 major ports.
  • A dry bulk cargo barge is a barge designed to carry freight such as coal, finished steel or its ingredients, grain, sand or gravel, or similar materials.
  • India has 12 major ports — Kandla, Mumbai, JNPT, Marmugao, New Mangalore, Cochin, Chennai, Ennore, V O Chidambarnar, Visakhapatnam, Paradip and Kolkata (including Haldia) which handle approximately 61% of the country’s total cargo traffic. 
[Ref: PIB]

 

Economy

It’s 100% FDI in most sectors, including defence

The Union Government has announced what it termed a “radical liberalisation” of the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) regime by easing norms for a host of important sectors, including defence, civil aviation and pharmaceuticals, opening them up for complete foreign ownership.

  • The objective of the move is to provide major impetus to employment and job creation in India.
  • This is the second major reform after the last radical changes announced in November 2015.
  • Now most of the sectors would be under automatic approval route, except a small negative list. With these changes, India is now the most open economy in the world for FDI.

Highlights of the radical changes in FDI Policy regime:

Defence Sector:

  • In the defence sector, the government has permitted foreign investment beyond 49% under the government approval route, but done away with the condition of access to ‘state-of-the-art technology’.
  • The new FDI limit for defence sector has also been made applicable to manufacturing of small arms and ammunitions covered under the Arms Act 1959.

Single Brand Retail Trading: 

  • Entities undertaking single brand retail trading have been relaxed from local sourcing norms up to 3 years.
  • Entities engaged in of single brand retail trading of products having ‘state-of-art’ and ‘cutting edge’ technology have been relaxed from local sourcing norms up to 5 years.

Pharmaceutical Sector: 

  • 100% FDI under automatic route in Greenfield pharma, FDI up to 100% under government approval in Brownfield pharma and 74% FDI under automatic route in Brownfield pharmaceuticals.

Civil Aviation Sector:  

  • The government has also decided to allow 100 per cent FDI under automatic route in brownfield airport projects.
  • At present, 100% FDI is allowed under the automatic route in greenfield airport projects and 74% FDI in brownfield projects under the automatic route, while beyond 74% for brownfield projects is under government route.
  • In Scheduled Air Transport Service and regional Air Transport Service, it has now been decided to raise FDI limit to 100%.
  • For NRIs, 100% FDI will continue to be allowed under automatic route.

Animal Husbandry: 

  • The government has removed the requirement of ‘controlled conditions’ for FDI in animal husbandry, pisciculture, aquaculture and apiculture.
  • At present, 100 per cent FDI in these activities is allowed under the automatic route under controlled conditions.

Food Products manufactured/produced in India: 

  • 100% FDI under government approval route has been approved.
  • It will include trading in food products including through e-commerce, in respect of food products manufactured or produced in India.

Broadcasting Carriage Services: 

  • 100% FDI allowed under automatic route for Teleports, Direct to Home, Cable Networks and Mobile TV.
  • Moreover, infusion of FDI beyond 49% in a company not seeking permission from Ministry will result in change in the ownership pattern.

Private Security Agencies: 

  • FDI up to 49% is now permitted under automatic route in this sector and FDI beyond 49% and up to 74% would be permitted with government approval route.

Establishment of branch office, liaison office or project office: 

  • No approval from Reserve Bank of India or separate security clearance would be required in cases where FIPB approval or license/permission by the concerned Ministry has already been granted. 

IASToppers- 21st June 2016

[Ref: Hindu, Indian Express]

 

Environment & Ecology

Vermin tag arbitrary, welfare board tells Supreme Court

The Animal Welfare Board of India has termed the government’s step declaring nilgais, monkeys and wild boar as vermin, an “arbitrary” decision.

  • In this regard, the Supreme Court has asked animal rights organisations to make representations before the Centre.

Background:

  • The board questioned the notification of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change declaring these animals as vermin for one year in Bihar, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

About the Animal Welfare Board of India:

The Animal Welfare Board of India is a statutory advisory body on Animal Welfare Laws and promotes animal welfare in the country.

  • Established in 1962 under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, the Animal Welfare Board of India was started under the stewardship of Late Smt. Rukmini Devi Arundale, well known humanitarian.
  • Its works include providing grants to Animal Welfare Organizations and advising the Government of India on animal welfare issues.
  • The Board was initially within the jurisdiction of the Government of India’s Ministry of Food and Agriculture. In 1990, the subject of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was transferred to the Ministry of Environment and Forests, where it now resides.
  • The Board consists of 28 Members. The term of office of Members is for a period of 3 years.
[Ref: Hindu, Wiki]

 

International Relations

MoU signed between IWAI and IPGPL on the Kaladan Multimodal Transit Transport Project

Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed between Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) and India Ports Global Private Limited (IPGPL) on the Kaladan Multimodal Transit Transport Project (KMTTP).

  • IPGPL was asked to partner IWAI in the Kaladan project as a sub-Project Development Consultant (PDC).
  • This was suggested mainly to use and develop the capabilities of IPGPL which has been created for a specialized purpose, completing the implementation of Kaladan project within the scheduled timeframe of April 2019 and to provide relief to IWAI whose responsibilities have increased manifold due to declaration of 106 new National Waterways and implementing the ambitious ‘Jal Marg Vikas” project.

About the Kaladan Multimodal Transit Transport Project:

  • The Kaladan Multimodal Transit Transport Project (KMTTP) in Myanmar was conceptualized and is being administered by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) with a view to facilitate connectivity between the mainland and the North Eastern States of the country through maritime shipping, inland waterways and roads of Myanmar.
  • The link between North Eastern States of India and Myanmar will pave the way for enhanced trade & commerce across the border and enable cultural and social integration at the regional level.

Background:

  • MEA had appointed Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) as the Project Development Consultant (PDC) for the implementation of the Port & Inland Water Transport (IWT) component of the Kaladan Project in 2009.

About IPGPL:

  • India Ports Global Private Limited (IPGPL) has been established as a Joint Venture between Kandla Port Trust and Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust for the purpose of development of ports overseas.
[Ref: PIB]

 

International Relations

AYUSH set to get international treatment

To boost its international campaign to popularise yoga, the Ministry of External Affairs will send out groups of AYUSH experts to help set up departments of AYUSH in the leading universities of the member countries of the U.N.

  • Apart from Iraq, Colombia and the Reunion Island, the first phase of the project will include twelve other countries.
  • Each group of experts will have teachers, practitioners and demonstrators, who will train a first generation of teachers and students of AYUSH in these countries.

Background:

  • Indian missions have been working to increase the footprint of AYUSH in the host countries and the AYUSH troops visiting these countries will follow the pattern of the yoga teachers that ICCR has been sending to the Indian missions.
  • In line with the new scheme, the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) and Indian missions abroad had reached out to foreign governments to host the AYUSH experts. The initiative found quick response from Iraq, Colombia and Reunion Island, which will soon be hosting AYUSH experts. The project aims at imparting skills to the local population so that they can include AYUSH in their educational institutes and societies.

About the Ministry of AYUSH:

The Ministry of AYUSH was formed in 2014 to ensure the optimal development and propagation of AYUSH systems of health care.

  • Earlier it was known as the Department of Indian System of Medicine and Homeopathy (ISM&H) which was created in 1995 and renamed as Department of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) in 2003, with focused attention for development of Education and Research in Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy.
[Ref: Hindu]

 

Art & Culture

Excavation in Gujarat uncovers monastic cells

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has unearthed structures resembling a Buddhist monastery in Vadnagar city of Gujarat.

  • The latest excavation revealed structures resembling monastic cells.
  • However, only further excavation at the site would help establish whether the structures were part of a monastery or were secular in nature.
  • According to ASI, the aim has been to establish the town, situated in Mehsana district, as an important centre from the point of view of Buddhism, especially as it is mentioned in the written accounts of Chinese traveller Hiuen Tsang.
[Ref: Hindu]

 

Science & Technology

New Chinese system named world’s top supercomputer

A new Chinese computer system called Sunway TaihuLight that can make 93 quadrillions calculations per second has claimed the top spot on the list of the world’s most powerful supercomputers.

  • Titan, a Cray X40 system installed at the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory, is now at the third position, with 17.59 quadrillions of calculations per second.
  • The latest list marks the first time since the inception of the TOP500 that the U.S. is not home to the largest number of systems.
  • With a surge in industrial and research installations registered over the last few years, China leads with 167 systems and the U.S. is second with 165.

Sunway TaihuLight vs Tianhe-2:

  • The Sunway TaihuLight displaced Tianhe-2, an Intel-based Chinese supercomputer that has claimed the top 1 spot on the past six TOP500 lists.
  • The Sunway TaihuLight is built entirely using processors designed and made in China whereas Tianhe-2 was built using US-made Intel processors.
  • Sunway TaihuLight is twice as fast and three times as efficient as Tianhe-2, which posted a performance of 33.86 quadrillions of calculations per second.
[Ref: Hindu]

 

Use of potassium bromate as food add-on banned

The government has banned the use of potassium bromate as a food additive following a Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) study that found its presence in bread caused cancer.

Background:

  • A CSE study had found that 84% of 38 commonly available brands of pre-packaged breads, including pav and buns, tested positive for potassium bromate and potassium iodate. The two food additives are banned in many countries and are listed as “hazardous” to public health.
  • According to the CSE, potassium bromate typically increases dough strength, leads to higher rising and gives uniform finish to baked products. Potassium iodate is a flour treatment agent.

What is potassium bromate?

  • Potassium bromate, or simply called bromate, is an oxidiser used to strengthen dough and enhance its elasticity. This helps bake uniform and whitened bread.

Its usage:

  • It is added to wheat flour to strengthen the dough and to allow it to rise higher. It bleaches the dough and increases its elasticity by making tiny bubbles that help the bread rise.
  • However, the real problem arises when bromate flour isn’t baked for long enough or at a high enough temperature, or if too much potassium bromate is added in the first place.

Its popularity:

  • Potassium bromate is cheaper and more widely available than other food additives, and gives a better end-product.
  • In a low-margin, high-volume and perishable food product like bread, cost and end-product does matter.

Its harmful effects:

  • Potassium bromate is said to cause renal tubular tumours (adenomas and carcinomas) thyroid follicular tumours peritoneal mesotheliomas in laboratory animals.
  • Also, long-term carcinogenicity studies and in vivo and in vitro mutagenicity studies showed that potassium bromate was a “genotoxic carcinogen” or a chemical agent that damaged genetic information, causing mutations.

Ban on Potassium bromate:

  • A 1982 study in Japan stated that potassium bromate causes cancer. Following this, many countries including Japan, UK, China and Australia banned this compound.
  • The European Union, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Canada, Brazil, Peru and Columbia have also banned the use of potassium bromate as a flour treatment agent.
  • The EU has banned potassium iodate as well.

Its usage in India:

  • India and the US continue to allow use of potassium bromate in permissible limits.
  • India allows use of potassium bromate and/or iodate up to 50 ppm on flour mass basis, while the US allows it up to 75 ppm and manufacturers must list the ingredient on food labels.
  • 84% of 34 bread types sold in India contain potassium bromate.

Alternatives to Potassium bromate:

  • Ascorbic acid or Vitamin-C is considered a healthy alternative to potassium bromate.
  • Glucose oxidase is another option approved by FSSAI in 2015.
  • Other food improvers and flour treatment agents approved by law include ammonium persulphate, ammonium chloride and amylases.
[Ref: Hindu, LiveMint]

 

New drugs fail to crack resistance

Two new drug combinations, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for their efficacy in treating infections resistant to even third-generation antibiotics — carbapenems — have been found to have limited efficacy in India.

Background:

  • Two combination drugs — ceftazidime/avibactum and ceftolozane/tazobactum approved by FDA in February 2015 and December 2014 respectively — on samples collected from various hospitals from across the country.
  • The drugs were given to CMC to check the response to them in India, as part of a global efficacy study before they are launched in the market.

Why are these two drug combinations not effective for India?

  • These two combination drugs may add valuable options for treating bacterial infections in North America and European countries where KPC is the predominant mechanism of resistance.
  • In India, NDM-1 followed by Oxa-48-like carbapenemase is the common resistance mechanism. Therefore, these drugs may not help in the Indian setting.
[Ref: Hindu]

 

Also in News

Fishermen released from Diego Garcia

Nineteen fishermen who were arrested by the British Navy in Diego Garcia Island have been released.

Where is Diego Garcia Island located?

Diego Garcia is an atoll located south of the equator in the central Indian Ocean.

Diago Gracia

  • The atoll is located 1,796 km south-southwest of the southern tip of India (at Kanyakumari).
  • Diego Garcia lies at the southernmost tip of the Chagos-Laccadive Ridge, a vast submarine mountain range, top of coral reefs, atolls, and islands comprising Lakshadweep, The Maldives, and the Chagos Archipelago.
  • Diego Garcia is the largest of the 60 small islands comprising the Chagos Archipelago.
  • It is a British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT). As of March 2015, Diego Garcia is the only inhabited island of the BIOT; the population is composed of military personnel and supporting contractors.
[Ref: Hindu, Wiki]

 

30% jump in yoga practitioners across big cities: survey

According to a survey-cum-analysis released by ASSOCHAM, the number of yoga practitioners has increased by up to 30% across all metros in India.

Key findings of the survey:

  • According to the survey, students, stressed-out young professionals, CEOs and retired people have embraced yoga in large numbers and gymnasiums across metros have seen a spurt in the number of members willing to practice yoga for health and spiritual development.
  • Most of them are inspired by the celebrities endorsing it and the media attention that yoga has garnered.
  • Majority of the surveyed gym trainers said the number of female clients had gone up by 50 per cent after they started conducting yoga sessions at their gyms.
  • According to the survey, yoga has grown in India from an ancient spiritual practice to big business and premium lifestyle, considering that there are an estimated four crore yoga practitioners across the country spending about Rs 1,000 crore on designer yoga-wear, mats, towels, luxury retreats, thereby promoting the fitness industry.
[Ref: Hindu]

 

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