Polity & Governance
- States will have to compete for central projects
- India Ranked 40th On World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index
- Government launches negotiable warehousing receipts in e-format
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- In a first, govt to run safety checks on 5,000 big dams
Bilateral & International Relations
- Fiji, Niger, Tuvalu join International Solar Alliance
Defence & Security Issues
- INS Tarasa commissioned into Indian Navy
Key Facts for Prelims
- Kandla Port renamed as Deendayal Port
- 27 September: World Tourism Day
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Polity & Governance
States will have to compete for central projects
The Centre has decided to adopt the so-called challenge method for awarding all projects to states so as to bring in speed, efficiency and transparency, besides putting an end to allocation of big projects on political consideration.
About the so- called challenge method:
- Under this method, prospective states will be rated on more than half-dozen parameters prescribed in the guidelines issued and the project will go to the state with the highest score on a scale of zero to 100.
- The challenge method for selecting the state as well as the site for the projects, which can be both brownfield and greenfield projects, will now be applicable across sectors such as aviation, roads, railways, health, education, IT, power and textiles.
- It will also be used for awarding all national events such as national games and youth festivals to states.
Significance of this method:
- The so-called challenge method is expected to spur competition among states and union territories both in terms of offering the best sites and committing resources in terms of land, utilities, infrastructure support and financial contribution, which in turn would encourage optimum utilisation of scarce resources and help in timely completion of projects.
- Awarding projects based on the challenge method will ensure due diligence is being done by all departments and states. This will also mean that gestation period for all these projects will come down significantly and there will be no major delays and this will give enough push to efficiency.
Why we need this method?
- The government is of the view that in many instances projects along with locations used to be announced in the Budget or as a development package while the formulation of the scheme, land selection and acquisition got done after the announcement. Such projects often face risk and results in delay in implementation along with cost and time overruns leading to suboptimal utilisation of scarce resources.
Hence there is a need to evolve an objective criterion for selection of sites for various projects.[Ref: Economic Times]
India Ranked 40th On World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index
India has been ranked as the 40th most competitive economy – slipping one place from last year’s ranking – on the World Economic Forum’s global competitiveness index.
- India has slipped by one position compared to 39th spot in 2016 GCI.
About Global Competitiveness Index (GCI)
The GCI released by the World Economic Forum (WEF) is one of the major studies which indicate how a country scores in the scale of global competitiveness.
- The index is calculated by aggregating indicators across 12 pillars in the report which covers both business and social indicators.
- These 12 pillars or indicators directly or indirectly impact the competitiveness of the country in the global arena.
- The GCI measures 12 pillars which include institutions, macro-economic environment, infrastructure, health and primary education, higher education and training, labour market efficiency, goods and market efficiency among others.
Highlights of the report:
- The list is topped by Switzerland. The US and Singapore are in the second and third places, respectively.
- Other countries in the top 10 are the Netherlands (4th rank), Germany (5), Hong Kong SAR (6), Sweden (7), United Kingdom (8), Japan (9) and Finland (10).
- Among the BRICS nations, China and Russia (38) are placed above India. South Africa and Brazil are placed at the 61st and 80th spots, respectively.
- In South Asia, India has garnered the highest ranking, followed by Bhutan (85th), Sri Lanka (85th), Nepal (88), Bangladesh (99) and Pakistan (115).
- India remains most competitive country in South Asia. It has improved across most pillars of competitiveness, particularly infrastructure (66th, up by 2), higher education and training (75th, up by 6), and technological readiness (107th, up by 3) reflecting recent public investments in these areas.
- The report has lauded India’s efforts in information and communications technology (ICT) sector as it can boost internet economy.
- The private sector still considers corruption to be the most problematic factor for doing business in India.
- The second biggest bottleneck is ‘access to financing’, followed by ‘tax rates’, ‘inadequate supply of infrastructure’, ‘poor work ethics in national labour force’ and ‘inadequately educated work force’, among others.
- Another big concern for India is the disconnect between its innovative strength (29) and its technological readiness (up 3 to 107): as long as this gap remains large, India will not be able to fully leverage its technological strengths across the wider economy.
Government launches negotiable warehousing receipts in e-format
The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution launched web portal of Warehousing Development and Regulatory Authority (WDRA) & Electronic Negotiable Warehouse Receipt (e-NWR) System under Digital India mission.
What are Negotiable Warehouse Receipts (NWRs)?
NWRs are documents issued by warehouses to depositors against commodities deposited in warehouses for which warehouse is bailee.
- They are transferred by endorsement and delivery i.e. either original depositor or holder in due course (transferee) can claim commodities from warehouse.
- NWRs can be traded, sold, swapped and used as collateral to support borrowing or loans from banks.
- These receipts were made negotiable under Warehouse (Development and Regulation) Act, 2007 and are regulated by Warehousing Development and Regulatory Authority (WDRA).
Significance of e-NWR:
- e-NWR will have no chances of any tempering, mutilation, fudging, loss or damage and also no possibility of any multiple financing.
- It will not only facilitate an easy pledge financing by banks and other financial institutions but also smooth trading on various trading centres like commodity exchanges, electronic National Agriculture Markets (e-NAM) and other electronic platforms.
- e-NWR will also help to save expenditure in logistics as stocks could be traded through multiple buyers without physical movement and can be even split for partial transfer or withdrawal.
Significance of these initiatives:
- Initiatives like WDRA and e-NWR aim at simplifying Warehouse Registration Rules, digitizing entire process of registration, monitoring and surveillance as well as creation and management of NWRs in electronic form through two repositories.
- These initiatives will revolutionise marketing of agricultural commodities and help farmers realize better price for their produce which will be step towards doubling farmers’ income by 2022.
- The whole purpose of simplifying processes and moving towards online system will enhance WDRA’s regulatory functions and bring greater fiduciary trust among banks, depositors and trade on e-NWR system.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
In a first, govt to run safety checks on 5,000 big dams
For the first time, the Centre is planning to conduct a ‘break analysis’ of 5,247 large dams across the country, and put in place an emergency action plan, especially for the 196 that are over 100 years old.
- Of these 196 dams, 72 are in the southern states and Maharashtra.
What is Break analysis?
- Break analysis is the examination of dams to identify potential failures that may result in an uncontrolled release of water. It involves the characterisation of threats to public safety that a dam poses.
Need of immediate repair:
- There are two safety issues: the risk of breach and floods, and the decreasing ability to hold as much water as the original capacity (which means less live storage and per capita availability of water). These concerns make maintenance more critical for dams, though not all are in a dilapidated condition or in need of immediate repair.
- In October 1987, the Centre had constituted the National Committee on Dam Safety (NCDS), which was tasked with overseeing dam safety and suggesting improvements. The committee, headed by the Central Water Commission chairman, met 37 times and has been instrumental in the maintenance of dams.
- A project called DRIP (Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Programme) is under way. DRIP, which was started in April 2012 and has been working with five state governments (Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha) and two agencies (Damodar Valley Corporation in Jharkhand and Uttarakhand Jal Vidyut Nigam Ltd), was conceived with an estimated budget of Rs 2,100 crore.
- The government has already drafted a ‘dam safety bill’, currently being reworked by the NITI Aayog.
Bilateral & International Relations
Fiji, Niger, Tuvalu join International Solar Alliance
Fiji, Niger and Tuvalu have deposited instrument of ratification of the Framework Agreement of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) in the recently held 5th meeting of International Steering Committee (ISC) of the ISA.
- Till date 40 countries have signed and 11 countries have ratified the Framework Agreement of the ISA.
- With ratifications by 15 countries, the ISA will become a treaty based inter-governmental international organization.
Location of Fiji:
Location of Niger:
Location of Tuvalu:
About International Solar Alliance:
ISA was launched, on the sidelines of COP-21, at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in November, 2015 by Modi and French President Francois Hollande.
- The alliance, headquartered in India, aims to bring together countries situated between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn which receive abundant sunshine for around 300 days a year.
- ISA aims to invite solar rich 121 countries located fully or partly between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn to join the alliance.
- International Steering Committee was establishment under the mandate of the Paris Declaration of ISA to provide the guidance and direction to establish the ISA.
- It will function from the Gurgaon, Haryana based National Institute of Solar Energy (NISE).
- India has offered a contribution of Rs 175 crore for creating ISA corpus fund and for meeting the cost of ISA secretariat for initial five years.
- Alliance seeks to share common platform to reduce the cost of finance and technology that is needed to deploy solar power widely.
- Alliance would pursue cooperation in training, building institutions, regulatory issues, common standards, and investment including joint ventures.
Defence & Security Issues
INS Tarasa commissioned into Indian Navy
INS Tarasa, a Water Jet Fast Attack Craft (WJFAC) was recently commissioned into the Indian Navy.
About INS Tarasa:
- INS Tarasa is the fourth and last of the follow-on Water Jet FAC’s built by the Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE), Kolkata.
- INS Tarasa has been named after the picturesque island in the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago in Bay of Bengal.
- The ship is an ideal platform for missions like coastal and off-shore surveillance, EEZ Patrol, law enforcement as well as non-military missions such as Search and Rescue, Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief.
- This is the second ship of the Indian Navy to be named INS Tarasa. The first INS Tarasa was in service of the Navy from 1999 to 2014. She was gifted to Seychelles Coast Guard as a symbol of India’s partnership with friendly maritime nation in IOR.
- The new INS Tarasa will be based at Mumbai under the operational control of Western Naval Command.
- The ship is of proven design, has good endurance, low draught, high speed and manoeuvrability, thus making her most suited for her primary role of extended coastal and offshore surveillance and patrol.
- WJFACs are ideally suited and used for interception of fast-moving surface craft. INS Tarasa is fourth and last of follow-on WJFAC’s indegenously built GRSE, Kolkata.
- The first two ships of class INS Tarmugli and INS Tihayu were commissioned in 2016 and are based at Visakhapatnam. The third ship INS Tillanchang was commissioned earlier in March 2017 at Karwar, Gujarat.
Key Facts for Prelims
Kandla Port renamed as Deendayal Port
- The Ministry of Shipping has issued a notification renaming Kandla Port Trust as Deendayal Port Trust with effect from 25th of September, 2017.
- As per the Ministry’s notification, the Central Government, in exercise of powers conferred on it under Indian Ports Act, 1908, made the amendment to replace “Kandla” with “Deendayal”.
- The name was changed as part of yearlong centenary celebrations of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay, who had stood for uplift of poor and weaker sections of society.
- Kandla Port, located on the Gulf of Kutch in Gujarat, is one of the twelve major ports in the country.
- It is the largest port of India in terms of volume of cargo handled (around 100 million tons freight).
- It was constructed in 1950s as main seaport to serve in western India, alternative to Karachi port which came under Pakistan’s control after partition.
- In March 2016, Kandla Port had created history by becoming first Major Port in the country to cross 100 million tons freight handling capacity.
27 September: World Tourism Day
- World Tourism Day 2017 was observed across the world on 27 September 2017.
- The theme of the World Tourism Day 2017 is: ‘sustainable tourism – a tool for development’.
- In India, to mark this day, President Ram Nath Kovind gave away National Tourism Awards and also launched Incredible India 2.0 Campaign in New Delhi.
- The first World Tourism Day was celebrated in 1980 after decision made by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) General Assembly in 1979.
- This date was chosen as on that day in 1970, the Statutes of the UNWTO were adopted. The adoption of these Statutes is considered a milestone in global tourism.