Sangai-Festival-2017-ias
Current Affairs Analysis

22nd November 2017 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

Manipur Sangai Festival 2017; 1st North East Development Summit; Vasectomy Fortnight; What is Vasectomy? IMD World Talent rankings; 1st World Conference on Access to Medical Products and International Laws for Trade and Health; What is a Solar park? What is ‘Peace Clause’? Center of Excellence in Maritime and Ship Building (CEMS); Sagarmala port project; New Development Bank (NDB); India’s first woman physician: Rukhmabai; Swachh Iconic Places (SIP); A new Improved Samba Masuri (ISM); etc.
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
November 22, 2017

Contents

Polity & Governance

  • Manipur To Host 1st North East Development Summit

Issues related to Health & Education

  • Vasectomy Fortnight
  • India climbs 3 steps to 51 on IMD World Talent rankings
  • 1st World Conference on Access to Medical Products and International Laws for Trade and Health

Economy

  • India signs USD 100 million loan agreement with World Bank for Solar Parks Project
  • WTO: India resolute on food security
  • Center of Excellence in Maritime and Ship Building (CEMS) to come up in Mumbai and Vishakhapatnam

Bilateral & International Relations

  • Brics Bank approves $400 million loans for India, Russia

Indian History

  • 153rd birth anniversary of India’s first woman physician: Rukhmabai

Art & Culture

  • Manipur Sangai Festival 2017
  • 10 New Iconic sites identified under Swachh Iconic Places (SIP)

Science & Technology

  • CCMB-IIRR tie-up for low GI rice

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Polity & Governance

Manipur To Host 1st North East Development Summit

Manipur is hosting the first ever North East Development Summit (NEDS) 2017 in Imphal from November 21.

North-East-Development-Summit-2017-ias

Aim:

  • NEDS is aimed at “building confidence” and altering the “perception” among visiting delegates and investors.

Key facts:

  • India Foundation, a Delhi-based think tank, is organising the summit in collaboration with the Centre and Manipur government.
  • The summit seeks to boost trade and investment in the underdeveloped region. Various international finance agencies will lay down their plan for development in the region.
  • Key focus areas include (i) Trade& Investment, (ii) Connectivity& Infrastructure Development, (iii) Tourism Development in North-East India, (iv) Skill Development, Capacity Building and Entrepreneurship.

Why this summit is important?

  • North Eastern states have lot of potential which is still unexplored. There is a need to explore this unexplored potential for the development of the region and the development of the country as a whole.
  • The summit will contribute to the making of ‘New India’ and help explore the unexplored potential of the region.
[Ref: PIB]

 

Issues related to Health & Education

Vasectomy Fortnight

The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare observed Vasectomy Fortnight between November 21 and December 4 to raise awareness about male sterilization and to promote the participation of men in family planning.

Vasectomy-Fortnight-2017-iastoppers

What is Vasectomy?

  • Vasectomy is form of birth control for men where health care provider closes or blocks tubes that carry sperm
  • It is a procedure that makes a man permanently unable to get a woman pregnant
  • Vasectomy may be the safest, most effective kind of birth control. Only about 1 or 2 out of 1,000 couples get pregnant the first year after a vasectomy
  • A vasectomy is usually done in your doctor’s office or in an outpatient surgery centre. The operation takes about 30 minutes.

Vasectomy-Fortnight-2017-iastoppers2

About Vasectomy Fortnight:

  • All states/UTs across India will observe a dedicated ‘Vasectomy Fortnight’ from 21st November to 4th December 2017.
  • The Vasectomy Fortnight will be observed up to block level with focus on family planning service delivery along with information, education, communication and advocacy.
  • The theme for this was “Zimmedar Purush ki yehi hai Pehchan, Parivar Niyojan mein jo de Yogdaan”.
  • The Vasectomy Fortnight is observed up to the block level in two phases — Mobilization phase and Service Delivery phase.

Key facts:

  • World Vasectomy Day is observed worldwide on 17th November every year.
[Ref: PIB, India Today]

 

India climbs 3 steps to 51 on IMD World Talent rankings

The IMD global business school has released its annual IMD World Talent Ranking.

IMD-World-Talent-2017

  • India ranked 51st among 63 countries on the IMD Talent Rankings in terms of ability to attract, develop and retain talent. In previous rankings, India was ranked 54th.

About the rankings:

  • The annual IMD World Talent Ranking covers 63 countries and assessed methods countries adopted to attract and retain talent.
  • The rankings of countries are based on their performance in three main categories — investment and development, appeal, and readiness.

Highlights of IMD Talent Rankings

Performance of various countries:

IMD World Talent 2017 iastoppers

  • Switzerland topped list followed by Denmark, Belgium, Austria, Finland, Netherlands, Norway, Germany, Sweden and Luxembourg in top 10. Globally, Europe continues to dominate rankings being most competitive countries.
  • Leading Asian economies in rankings are Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan. They have cemented their global status as hubs of attracting and retaining highly-skilled workers though they trail Europe in this regard.
  • Among BRICS bloc, China was in lead with ranking of 40, followed by Russia (43) and South Africa (48). Brazil was ranked 52nd just after India.

Key note for India:

IMD World Talent 2017 ias

  • India was ranked 62nd (on investment and development), 43rd (appeal) and 29th (readiness) in three main categories.
  • As per the IMD rankings, India has not been successful in terms of investment in education as a percentage of GDP. It ranked among the bottom five countries in the world in this aspect.
  • Therefore, India needs to emphasise the education system as a key to prosperity.
  • It also needs to prevent brain drain by providing better opportunities to local talent.
  • India has potential to thrive in age of digital economy. Its labour growth provides necessary domestic talent pool.
[Ref: The Hindu, Indian Express]

 

1st World Conference on Access to Medical Products and International Laws for Trade and Health

The ‘1st World Conference on Access to Medical Products and International Laws for Trade and Health in the Context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’ was inaugurated in New Delhi.

World-Conference-on-Access-to-Medical-Products-iastoppers

Organizer:

  • The Conference was being organized by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare with the support of WHO Country Office for India and in partnership with Indian Society of International Law.

Aim:

  • The main aim of the conference was to exchange knowledge and expand understanding on contemporary issues in international trade laws and research and innovation for access to medical products to achieve SDG 2030 agenda.
[Ref: PIB]

 

Economy

India signs USD 100 million loan agreement with World Bank for Solar Parks Project

The Union government and the World Bank signed a guarantee agreement for USD 98 million and grant agreement for USD 2 million for the “Shared Infrastructure for Solar Parks Project.”

ias-toppers-solar-power-capacity-to-40000-mw

The project consists of two components-

  • Shared Infrastructure for Solar Parks (estimated total project cost of USD 100 million, including USD 75 million in International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) loan and USD 23 million in Clean Technology Fund (CTF) Loan) and
  • Technical assistance (USD 2 million in CTF Grant).

Objective of the project:

  • The objective of the project is to increase solar generation capacity through establishment of large-scale parks in the country.

Benefits of this project:

  • The project will help establish large-scale solar parks and support the government’s plan to install 100 Gigawatts (GW) of solar power out of a total renewable-energy target of 175 GW by 2022.

What is a Solar park?

The Solar Park is a concentrated zone of development of solar power generation projects.

  • As part of Solar park development, land required for development of Solar Power Projects with cumulative capacity generally 500 MW and above will be identified and acquired and various infrastructure like transmission system, water, road connectivity and communication network etc.  will be developed. 
  • The parks will be characterized by well-developed proper infra-structure where the risk & gestation period of the projects will be minimized.
  • At the state level, the solar park will enable the states to bring in significant investment from project developers in Solar Power sector, to meet its Solar Purchase Obligation (SPO) mandates and provide employment opportunities to local population.
  • The state will also be able to reduce its carbon footprint by avoiding emissions equivalent to the solar park’s generated capacity.

Government scheme:

  • Ministry of New and renewable Energy (MNRE) has drawn a scheme to set up number of solar parks across various states in the country, each with a capacity of Solar Projects generally above 500 MW.
  • The Scheme proposes to provide financial support by Government of India to establish solar parks with an aim to facilitate creation of infrastructure necessary for setting up new solar power projects in terms of allocation of land, transmission and evacuation lines, access roads, availability of water and others, in a focused manner.
  • Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI), a central public sector enterprises under MNRE, has been implementing various schemes to develop solar sector in the country. 
  • As per the policy, these solar parks will be developed in collaboration with the State Governments.
  • The implementation agency would be Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) on behalf of Government of India (GOI). 
  • SECI will handle funds to be made available under the scheme on behalf of GOI. The states shall designate a nodal agency for implementation of the solar park.
[Ref: PIB]

 

WTO: India resolute on food security

Food security and protection of low-income and resource-poor farmers are top priority items for India at the upcoming WTO’s Ministerial Conference.

iastoppers-food-security

  • India has decided not to agree to severe restrictions on its right to give price subsidies to farmers through the Minimum Support Price (MSP) to procure grains from them for food security purposes.

What is ‘Peace Clause’?

  • Currently, an interim mechanism called the ‘Peace Clause’ is in place, as per which WTO members had agreed not to challenge developing nations at the WTO Dispute Settlement Mechanism if they breached the cap of the product-specific domestic support (which is 10% of the value of production).
  • The ‘Peace Clause’ is available to developing nations, including India, till a permanent solution is found to public stockholding for food security purposes.

What is ‘Peace Clause’ iastoppers

Why is it difficult to invoke?

  • The ‘Peace Clause’ is difficult to invoke even in its current form because prior to using it, the country concerned will have to first admit that it ‘is breaching’ or ‘is about to breach’ the ceiling entitlement to give product-specific domestic support.
  • Also, the ‘Peace Clause’ can be used only for public stockholding programmes that have been in existence on the date at which it was agreed upon at the Bali Ministerial Conference in December 2013, and not for new programmes on public stockholding for food security purposes.

Three roadblocks:

The prospects of an agreement on a permanent solution are not that bright due to three roadblocks.

  • First, the U.S. has not been engaging actively on the matter till recently, and if the U.S. does not give its nod, it will be difficult to arrive at a decision.
  • Second, the European Union has tried to link the permanent solution with outcomes including stringent disciplines on domestic support given by developing nations.
  • Lastly, most WTO members are of the opinion that there should be a commitment on prohibition of exports from public stockholding saying such exports would be trade-distorting.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Center of Excellence in Maritime and Ship Building (CEMS) to come up in Mumbai and Vishakhapatnam

A world class Center of Excellence in Maritime and Ship Building (CEMS) is being set up by Ministry of Shipping in collaboration with Siemens and Indian Register of Shipping (IRS) under the Ministry’s flagship Sagarmala Programme.

Center-of-Excellence-in-Maritime-and-Ship-Building-iastoppers

  • CEMS will have campuses at Vishakhapatnam and Mumbai.

Objectives of setting up CEMS:

  • CEMS is being set up to meet the domestic skill requirement in ship design, manufacturing, operating and maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO).
  • CEMS will provide industry-relevant skill development, equip students with employable engineering and technical skills in the port and maritime sector and contribute to the Government of India’s ambitious Sagarmala programme.
  • It also adds to the Make in India and Skill India efforts in the maritime sector.
  • CEMS will provide skilled manpower to make vessels for inland waterways, ships, fishing boats and other ancillary manufacturing sectors.

About Sagarmala port project:

ias-toppers-Sagarmala

  • The Sagarmala project seeks to develop a string of ports around India’s coast.
  • The objective of this initiative is to promote “Port-led development” along India’s 7500 km long coastline.
  • The Union Ministry of Shipping has been appointed as the nodal ministry for this initiative.
  • The project aims to develop access to new development regions with intermodal solutions and promotion of the optimum modal split, enhanced connectivity with main economic centres and beyond through expansion of rail, inland water, coastal and road services.
  • It also aims at simplifying procedures used at ports for cargo movement and promotes usage of electronic channels for information exchange leading to quick, efficient, hassle-free and seamless cargo movement.
  • It also strives to ensure sustainable development of the population living in the Coastal Economic Zone (CEZ).
  • The project, envisaging port-led development, targets to provide one crore employment, direct employment to 40 lakh persons and indirect employment to 60 lakh persons.
[Ref: PIB]

 

Bilateral & International Relations

Brics Bank approves $400 million loans for India, Russia

The Shanghai-based Brics New Development Bank (NDB) has approved two infrastructure and sustainable development projects in India and Russia with loans of $400 million.

Brics Bank approves $400 million loans for India, Russia

  • The loans will be used to rehabilitate the Indira Gandhi canal system in India and to build a toll transport corridor connecting Ufa city centre to the M-5 federal highway in Russia.

About the New Development Bank:

The New Development Bank (NDB), formerly referred to as the BRICS Development Bank, is a multilateral development bank operated by the BRICS states (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).

IASToppers-18th May 2016-NDB_Stacked

  • The bank is headquartered in Shanghai, China.
  • The first regional office of the NDB will be opened in Johannesburg, South Africa.
  • The New Development Bank was agreed to by BRICS leaders at the 5th BRICS summit held in Durban, South Africa in 2013. The bank, with authorized capital of $100 billion, started work in 2015.
  • Unlike the World Bank, which assigns votes based on capital share, in the New Development Bank each participant country will be assigned one vote, and none of the countries will have veto power.
  • The goal of the bank is to fund infrastructure projects in emerging economies for sustainable development.
  • The New Development Bank will mobilise resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS and other emerging economies and developing countries, to supplement existing efforts of multilateral and regional financial institutions for global growth and development.
  • The establishment of the Bank will help India and other signatory countries to raise and avail resources for their infrastructure and sustainable development projects.
[Ref: Live Mint, Economic Times]

 

Indian History

153rd birth anniversary of India’s first woman physician: Rukhmabai

Google Doodle on 22 November 2017 honoured Rukhmabai Raut, the first Indian woman to practice medicine in colonial India, on her 153rd birth anniversary.

Rukhmabai Raut iastoppers

About Rukhmabai Raut:

  • Rukhmabai was born in Bombay in 1864, to a woman who had herself suffered because of the custom of child marriage.
  • She was also a victim of child marriage. She was married off at the age of 11 to Dadaji Bhikaji, however she continued to stay with her mother.
  • She refused to move in with her husband stating that a woman cannot be compelled to stay in a wedlock when she is not interested.
  • This Dadaji vs Rukhmabai case triggered a debate in both England and India. The verdict went in favour of Dadaji and the court ordered Rukhmabai to live with her husband or face six months imprisonment. Rukhmabai chose imprisonment over Dadaji.
  • This verdict was overruled by Queen Victoria which prompted the government to bring in the Age of Consent Act, 1891.
  • She wrote numerous letters in the newspapers under the pseudonym ‘A Hindu Lady’, winning the support of many and when she expressed a wish to study medicine, a fund was created to support her travel and study in England at the London School of Medicine in 1889.
  • She continued her work for reform, publishing a pamphlet ‘Purdah-the need for its abolition’.
  • She breathed her last in 1955, at the age of 91.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Art & Culture

Manipur Sangai Festival 2017

Sangai Festival is an annual cultural extravaganza in Manipur.

Sangai-Festival-2017-iastoppers

About the festival:

  • The festival is labelled as the grandest festival of the State today and helps promote Manipur as a world class tourism destination.
  • Every edition of the festival showcases the tourism potential of the state in the field of Arts & Culture, Handloom, Handicrafts, Indigenous Sports, Cuisine, Music and Adventure sports of the state etc.
  • The festival will reflect the State’s proud cultural heritage and the love for art which is inherent amongst various tribes inhabiting the State of Manipur.

History of the festival:

  • Every year the Government of Manipur, headed by the Tourism Department, celebrates the Sangai Festival. The ten-day long festival lasts from 21st to 30th of November.
  • The ‘Festival’ is named after the State animal, Sangai, the brow-antlered deer found only in Manipur.
  • Celebrated over the past few years with the name of Tourism Festival, since 2010 the Manipur Tourism Festival has been renamed as the Sangai Festival.

Celebrations at the Manipur Sangai Festival 2017:

Manipuri-Ras_Leela_8_1280x800
Manipuri Ras Leela
  • The State’s classical dance form, ‘Ras Leela’ is quite famous all over the world for its distinctiveness from any other dance forms in India. The Ras Leela will form an important part of the dance performances at the Manipur Sangai Festival 2017.
  • Besides the various other folk dance performances like the Kabui Naga dance, Bamboo dance, Maibi dance, Lai Haraoba dance, Khamba Thoibi dance which will be showcased at the festival.
  • Indigenous sports will also be a major highlight of the State’s biggest tourism festival this year.
  • Manipur’s famous martial arts- Thang Ta (a combination Spear & Sword skills), Yubi-Lakpi (a game played with greased coconut like rugby), Mukna Kangjei (a game that combines hockey and wrestling), and Sagol Kangjei- Modern Polo (believed to have evolved in Manipur) will all form part of the festival.
  • The traditional boat race, Hiyang-HirenTanaba is a power packed event.
  • Events outside Imphal includes trekking climbing to highest peak of the state, Mount Iso.
[Ref: PIB]

 

10 New Iconic sites identified under Swachh Iconic Places (SIP)

A two-day National Consultation of Swachh Iconic Places (SIP) was recently held at New Delhi.

iastoppers-Swachh-Bharat-Mission

  • Representatives from 20 Iconic Sites including central and State officials, representatives of iconic places and Corporate and development partners including World Bank took part in the consultations.

About the Swachh Iconic Places:

  • The Swachh Iconic Places is an initiative under the Swachh Bharat Mission.
  • It is a special clean-up initiative focused on select iconic heritage, spiritual and cultural places in the country.

Implementation

  • The initiative is being coordinated by the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation in association with the Ministry of Urban Development, Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Tourism and the concerned State governments and more importantly, Public Sector and Private companies as partners.

Phase I coverage of iconic places

Under Phase 1 of this initiative, the following iconic places are being covered for an intensive clean up.

Swachh-Iconic-Places-phase-1-iastoppers

  1. Vaishno Devi, Jammu and Kashmir
  2. Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Maharashtra
  3. Taj Mahal, Uttar Pradesh
  4. Tirupati Temple, Andhra Pradesh
  5. Golden Temple, Punjab
  6. Manikarnika Ghat, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
  7. Ajmer Sharif Dargah, Rajasthan
  8. Meenakshi Temple, Tamil Nadu
  9. Kamakhya Temple, Assam
  10. Jagannath Puri, Odisha

Phase II coverage of iconic places

The Phase II of Swachh Iconic Places initiative is to cover the following.

Swachh-Iconic-Places-phase-2-iastoppers

  1. Gangotri
  2. Yamunotri
  3. Mahakaleshwar Temple, Ujjain
  4. Char Minar, Hyderabad
  5. Church and Convent of St. Francis of Assissi, Goa
  6. Adi Shankaracharya’s abode Kaladi in Ernakulam
  7. Gomateshwar in Shravanbelgola
  8. Baijnath Dham, Devghar
  9. Gaya Tirth in Bihar
  10. Somnath temple in Gujarat.
[Ref: PIB]

 

Science & Technology

CCMB-IIRR tie-up for low GI rice

The researchers from Hyderabad-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) on Monday have announced a new Improved Samba Masuri (ISM) rice variety with low Glycemic Index (GI).

Improved-Samba-Masuri-(ISM)-iastoppers

About the new ISM:

  • The new ISM has the lowest Glycemic Index (GI) at 50.9 among all major rice varieties, which is an improvement over the 52.9 GI of earlier Samba Masuri variety.
  • The traditional Samba Masuri rice is commonly called Sona Masuri and Kurnool Masuri and has very low resistance to BB, a pest disease for which there is no chemical solution yet.
  • The molecular breeding of ISM was done in CCMB and traditional rice breeding at the rice research institute.

Which Indian states are growing ISM?

  • The ISM has been grown in 1.3 lakh hectares in 7 states including Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

Significance of the new ISM variety of rice:

  • The new variety has twin advantages of being resistant to Bacterial Blight (BB) and at the same time also beneficial to the overall health of the body.
  • According to researchers, at present 40 per cent of the normal Samba Masuri crop is being lost due to Bacterial Blight. However, the new ISM variety of rice will significantly reduce this crop loss, which eventually would lead to reduced prices of rice and increased profit margins for farmers and traders.
  • The new variety is not a transgenic one, thus improving yield. It is not at all genetically modified (GM).
  • It also has shown better yield and fine grain type, enhancing its market potential and profit for farmers. It is also resistant to bacteria blight.

Benefit of Rice with low GI:

  • Rice with low GI is considered suitable for people with diabetics.
  • Consumption of food with low GI results in slow release of glucose into the bloodstream reducing the ill-effects of diabetes.

Background:

  • The traditional Samba Masuri rice is commonly called Sona Masuri and Kurnool Masuri and has very low resistance to BB, a pest disease for which there is no chemical solution yet.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

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