Government Schemes & Policies
- Nagaland, 3 Union Territories sign MOU to join UDAY scheme
- Logistics Sector granted Infrastructure Status
- 21st November: World Fisheries Day
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- Nations prepare road-map for ‘Talanoa Dialogue’ at Bonn climate negotiations
- M-STRiPES: An app to get tiger numbers right
Bilateral & International Relations
- India’s Dalveer Bhandari wins ICJ election
Defence & Security Issues
- India-Myanmar Bilateral Army Exercise (IMBAX)
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Government Schemes & Policies
Nagaland, 3 Union Territories sign MOU to join UDAY scheme
Nagaland, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, and Daman and Diu have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Government of India, under Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana (UDAY) scheme.
- However, these State/UTs have joined only for operational improvement and shall not undergo financial restructuring/issue of bonds under the scheme.
- Thus, till date, 27 States and four Union Territories have joined UDAY scheme.
- An overall net benefit of approximately Rs. 551 crores, Rs. 18 crores, Rs. 13 crores and Rs. 10 crores respectively would accrue to the State of Nagaland and UTs of Andaman and Nicobar, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, and Daman and Diu.
Significance of the MoUs
- These MoUs will pave way for improving operational efficiency of Electricity Departments or DISCOM of these State/UTs.
- These State/UTs will get the benefit by way of cheaper funds for capital expenditure, reduction in Transmission losses, interventions in energy efficiency, etc. during the period of turnaround.
- Reduced levels of AT&C losses would mean lesser cost per unit of electricity to consumers. Further, an operationally healthy DISCOM/Electricity Department would be in a position to supply more power.
About UDAY scheme:
The Power Ministry had launched UDAY (Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana) on November 20, 2015.
- The scheme is expected to help discoms save around Rs 1.8 lakh crore in the next three years. The cumulative debt of discoms is Rs 4.37 lakh crore.
- The UDAY scheme is aimed at bringing ailing power distribution companies (discoms) to a state of operational efficiency, with state governments taking over up to 75% of their respective discoms’ debt and issuing sovereign bonds to pay back the lenders.
- UDAY is an effort to make these DISCOMs financially and operationally healthy, to be able to supply adequate power at affordable rates, and enable the Governments to make efforts towards 100% Village electrification and 24X7 Power For All.
- It envisages to reduce interest burden, cost of power and AT&C losses. Consequently, DISCOM would become sustainable to supply adequate and reliable power enabling 24×7 power supply.
- UDAY has inbuilt incentives encouraging State Governments to voluntarily restructure their debts.
- UDAY also provides for measures that will reduce the cost of power generation, which would ultimately benefit consumers.
Logistics Sector granted Infrastructure Status
The Union government has granted infrastructure status to the logistics sector, enabling the industry to access cheaper finances.
Need for Infrastructure status:
- The need for integrated Logistics sector development has been felt for quite some time in view of the fact that the logistics cost in India is very high compared to developed countries. High logistics cost reduces the competitiveness of Indian goods both in domestic as well as export market.
- Development of logistics would give a boost to both domestic and external demand thereby encouraging manufacturing and ‘job creation’. This will in turn be instrumental in improving country’s GDP.
What is the definition of ‘logistics infrastructure’?
The government has defined “logistics infrastructure” to include
- A multimodal logistics Park comprising an Inland Container Depot (ICD) with a minimum investment of Rs50 crore and minimum area of 10 acre,
- A cold chain facility with a minimum investment of Rs15 crore and minimum area of 20,000 sq. ft and
- A warehousing facility with a minimum investment of Rs25 crore and a minimum area of 100,000 sq ft.
By getting infrastructure status, what advantages the logistics sector will get?
- Infrastructure status will enable the Logistics Sector to avail infrastructure lending at easier terms with enhanced limits, access to larger amounts of funds as External Commercial Borrowings (ECB), access to longer tenor funds from insurance companies and pension funds and be eligible to borrow from India Infrastructure Financing Company Limited (IIFCL).
- Infrastructure status for cold chains and warehousing facilities will provide a big boost to attracting private investment in this sector.
- The inclusion of “Logistics Sector” in the Harmonized Master List of Infrastructure Sub-sectors was considered in the 14th Institutional Mechanism (IM) Meeting held in a recent past.
- In 2017, India’s logistics performance improved from 54 to 35 under World Bank Logistics Performance Index (LPI).
- The government expects the Indian logistics sector to grow to $360 billion by 2032 from the current $115 billion.
21st November: World Fisheries Day
World Fisheries day was celebrated across the world on 21 November 2017.
Why on 21st November?
- On 21st November 1997, the working fishermen and women representing World Forum of Fish Harvesters & Fish Workers from 18 countries met at New Delhi and established the World Fisheries Forum (WFF) advocating for a global mandate of sustainable fishing practices and policies. To commemorate this occasion, every year 21st November is celebrated all over the world as World Fisheries Day.
Aim of the day:
- The day aims to highlight the critical importance of water to human lives and the lives it sustains, both in and out of water.
- It aims to address issues and problems resulting in the depletion of fish stocks and move towards finding solutions.
Significance of the day
- Fish is a significant part of the diets of people around the world, particularly those living near water bodies.
- A number of traditional societies and communities solely depend on the occupation of fishing to run their families.
- This is why a majority of human settlements, whether small villages or big cities, are situated in close proximity to water bodies.
- Water is an important source of fish and aquatic protein.
According to a recent United Nations study, more than two-thirds of the world’s fisheries have been overfished or are fully harvested and more than one third are in a state of decline because of factors such as the loss of essential fish habitats, pollution and global warming.
Cause behind depletion of fishes in water bodies
- The proximity of human dwelling has had an adverse effect on the fish population. Run-offs and domestic and industrial activities have led to severe coastal pollution.
- This has resulted in depletion of fish stocks in the immediate vicinity, forcing the fishermen to fish farther away from their traditional grounds.
- Overfishing and mechanization has also had a massive effect on the fish population. Their number has gone down majorly due to factory vessels, bottom trawling and other means of unsustainable fishing methods.
World Fisheries day celebrations in India:
- In India, it is being celebrated for the fourth consecutive year.
- Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying & Fisheries, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare is celebrating the day.
- This year’s theme is “2022 Ka Hai Sapna Kisan Ki Aay Ho Dugna – Sankalp Se Siddhi”.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
Nations prepare road-map for ‘Talanoa Dialogue’ at Bonn climate negotiations
The UN climate conference (COP23), commenced in Bonn, Germany, concluded with countries putting in place a road-map for ‘Talanoa Dialogue’.
- The Conference also made progress on framing rules for implementing 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change and brought rich nations on board on their pre-2020 commitments as demanded by developing nations.
What is ‘Talanoa Dialogue’?
‘Talanoa Dialogue’ is a year-long process to assess countries’ progress on climate actions.
- Talanoa is a traditional approach used in Fiji and other Pacific islands to engage in an inclusive, participatory and transparent dialogue to resolve differences without putting any blame on any one.
- As per COP23 decision, it has been structured around three questions to arrive at answers with consensus: Where are we? Where do we want to go? How do we get there?
- The dialogue will be conducted in a manner that promotes enhanced ambition.
- It will help parties to UNFCCC review their actions and discuss way forward in terms of raising ambitions before 2020.
- It will consider efforts of Parties on mitigation action and financial and technical support, as appropriate, as one of its elements, in the pre-2020 period under 1997 Kyoto Protocol.
M-STRiPES: An app to get tiger numbers right
In the forthcoming All-India Tiger Estimation, to be taken up in December-January, the authorities plan to eliminate the process of manual recording of signs of the carnivore and other habitat details.
- Instead, an app named M-STRiPES (Monitoring System For Tigers-Intensive Protection and Ecological Status) will be used for the first time.
- M-STRiPES was developed by the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun.
- Though the app has already been in place in some national parks, its usage and application has been made mandatory only now, for the fourth All-India Tiger Estimation.
Key features of M-STRiPES:
- It is a free app that will be made available to staff participating in the tiger census exercise, and they will feed in their observation during the carnivore sign survey and transect marking.
- Details such as pellet density, vegetation status and human disturbance, if any, will also be recorded.
Benefits of the use of this app:
All these years, data pertaining to carnivore signs, pellets and status of habitat was manually recorded in the prescribed format on a paper by the field staff, but this exercise was prone to errors.
- With the availability of M-STRiPES, human error will be eliminated
- The use of the app would ensure a more robust estimate.
- Before the introduction of M-STRiPES, Bandipur Tiger Reserve, Karnataka had Hejje or Pugmark, an Andrioid-based app, while BRT started with Huli. The GIS-based app will give real-time data on forest habitats besides providing live update of monitoring and patrolling activities.
But the nationwide introduction of M-STRiPES paves the way for greater standardisation and elimination of inconsistencies in data interpretation.
About All-India Tiger Estimation:
The national tiger estimates are conducted once in four years, with the first conducted in 2006.
- That exercise pegged the tiger count at 1,411, with the statistical lower limit pegged at 1,165 and the upper limit, 1,657. In 2010, the count changed to 1,706, with 1,520 being the lower limit and 1,909 the upper limit.
- The Western Ghat landscape, comprising Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Goa, accounted for 776 tigers in 2014, with the Bandipur-Nagarahole-Mudumalai-Wayanad complex harbouring 570 tigers — reckoned to be the world’s single largest tiger population in a landscape.
- The last nationwide assessment, held in 2014, pegged the tiger figures across the country at 2,226. Karnataka alone was home to 400 tigers, a bulk of them in Bandipur and Nagarahole.
[Ref: The Hindu]
Bilateral & International Relations
India’s Dalveer Bhandari wins ICJ election
India’s nominee Dalveer Bhandari was re-elected to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
- Bhandari received 183-193 votes in the General Assembly and secured all the 15 votes in the Security Council.
- The election was being held to fill up the last seat at the international court.
- Bhandari and Britain’s Christopher Greenwood were locked in a neck-to-neck fight for re-election to the ICJ. However, in a dramatic turn of events Britain withdrew its candidate from the race, thus paving the way for Bhandari’s re- election to the prestigious court.
- This is the first time since the ICJ was established in 1945 that there will be no British judge in the ICJ.
About International Court of Justice:
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations (UN).
- It was established in June 1945 by the Charter of the United Nations and began work in April 1946.
- The seat of the Court is at the Peace Palace in The Hague (Netherlands).
- Of the six principal organs of the United Nations, it is the only one not located in New York (United States of America).
- Its official languages are English and French.
- The Court is composed of 15 judges, who are elected for terms of office of nine years by the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council. It is assisted by a Registry, its administrative organ.
- The 15 judges of the Court are distributed as per the regions: three from Africa, two from Latin America and Caribbean, three from Asia, five from Western Europe and other states and two from Eastern Europe.
Role of the court:
- The Court’s role is to settle, in accordance with international law, legal disputes submitted to it by States and to give advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by authorized United Nations organs and specialized agencies.
Qualifications of ICJ judges:
- A judge should have a high moral character.
- A judge should fit to the qualifications of appointment of highest judicial officers as prescribed by their respective states or
- A judge should be a juriconsult of recognized competence in international law.
- As stated in the UN Charter, all 193 UN members are automatically parties to the Court’s statute. Non-UN members may also become parties to the Court’s statute.
- Once a state is a party to the Court’s statute, it is entitled to participate in cases before the Court.
- However, being a party to the statute does not automatically give the Court jurisdiction over disputes involving those parties.
Nature of judgements:
- Its judgments have binding force and are without appeal for the parties concerned.
Defence & Security Issues
India-Myanmar Bilateral Army Exercise (IMBAX)
A six-day India-Myanmar Bilateral Army Exercise (IMBAX) began at the Joint Warfare Centre at Umroi Cantonment, about 25 km from Shillong, capital of Meghalaya.
- The week-long army warfare exercise is the first-ever one to be held in India.
- It is aimed at building and promoting closer relations with armies of the neighbouring countries.
- The exercise will aim to enable the participants of Myanmar Army with requisite knowledge and skills to meet the evolving challenges of peacekeeping operations in accordance with principles, policies and guidelines of the United Nations.
- In fact, the exercise has been specially designed by the Indian Peace Keeping Centre, known as the Centre for UN Peace Keeping, New Delhi.