Government Schemes & Policies
- Parliament passes Indian Institute of Petroleum and Energy Bill, 2017
- Bill to criminalise instant triple talaq introduced in Lok Sabha
- Andhra Pradesh Fiber Grid Project
Issues related to Health & Education
- 25th National Children’s Science Congress held in Gujarat
- India’s NPAs are the fifth highest in the world: CARE Ratings report
- Govt eyes 100% electric public transport through FAME II
- Tamil Nadu signs Rs 20,000 crore pact with WB to develop irrigation systems
- Livestock Disease Forewarning –Mobile Application (LDF-Mobile App)
Science & Technology
- ISRO and NASA Collaboration
Key Facts for Prelims
- Kabul-Mumbai cargo service on
- 2018 World Economic League Table
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Government Schemes & Policies
Parliament passes Indian Institute of Petroleum and Energy Bill, 2017
The Parliament has passed The Indian Institute of Petroleum and Energy (IIPE) Bill, 2017 after it was adopted by Rajya Sabha.
- Lok Sabha already had passed the bill in August 2017.
Highlights of the IIPE Bill, 2017:
Institution of national importance:
- The Bill establishes the Indian Institute of Petroleum and Energy at Vishakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh.
- It declares the Institute as an institution of national importance.
- The Institute aims to provide high quality education and research focussing on the themes of petroleum, hydrocarbons and energy.
Authorities of the Institute:
- The key authorities of the Institute are as follows: (i) the General Council; (ii) the Board of Governors; (iii) the Senate; and (iv) any other authorities declared by the statutes.
Composition and powers of the Board of Governors:
The Board of Governors will comprise 13 members including:
- The President (to be appointed by the central government);
- The Director of the Institute;
- Two persons from the Board of Directors of companies that contribute to the Institute’s endowment fund (to be nominated by the central government);
- Five eminent experts in the field of petroleum technology and energy; and
- Two professors of the Institute.
Powers of the Board of Governors include:
- instituting courses of study and laying down standards of proficiency and other academic distinctions;
- considering proposals for taking loans for the Institute;
- creating academic, administrative, technical and other posts; and
- fixing fees and other charges.
Composition and powers of the General Council:
The Council will comprise up to 20 members including the:
- Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas (Chairman);
- Chairman, Indian Oil Corporation Limited;
- Secretary, Oil Industry Development Board; and
- Principal Advisor (Energy), NITI Aayog.
The powers of the Council include:
- reviewing the broad policies and programmes of the Institute;
- advising the Board with respect to new technologies in the domain of energy and hydrocarbon development; and
- suggesting improvements in fiscal management of the Institute.
Appointment of the Director:
- The Director of the Institute will be appointed by the central government.
- The Director will be the principal academic and executive officer of the Institute.
- The Institute will be required to maintain a fund which will be credited with the funds that it receives from the central government, fees and money received from any other sources (grants and gifts).
- The accounts of the Institute shall be audited by the Comptroller and Auditor- General of India.
Settlement of disputes:
- Any dispute arising out of a contract between the Institute and any of its employees will be referred to an internally constituted Tribunal of Arbitration.
- The Tribunal will consist of: (i) one member appointed by the Institute; (ii) one member nominated by the employee; and (iii) an umpire appointed by the Visitor (President of India).
- The decision of the Tribunal of Arbitration will be considered final. In case of any dispute between the Institute and the central government, the decision of the central government will be considered final.
Bill to criminalise instant triple talaq introduced in Lok Sabha
The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights of Marriage) Bill, 2017, which makes instant triple talaq (or ‘talaq-e-biddat’) illegal and void was introduced in the Lok Sabha.
- The Supreme Court had termed the practice of instant triple talaq unconstitutional while considering a petition to that effect. The then CJI J S Khehar had directed the government to bring in a legislation in this regard.
Highlights of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017:
- The bill makes instant triple talaq or talaq-e-biddat in any form — spoken, in writing or by electronic means such as email, SMS and WhatsApp — “illegal and void”.
- The proposed law seeks to make triple talaq a punishable offence and describes the practice as against “constitutional morality” and “gender equity”.
- Anyone who pronounces instant divorce “shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and a fine”
- As per the provisions of the Bill, the husband could also be fined and the quantum of fine would be decided by the magistrate hearing the case.
- The proposed law will be applicable only to instant triple talaq and will empower the victim to approach a magistrate seeking “subsistence allowance” for herself and minor children. The woman can also seek the custody of her minor children from the magistrate who will take a final call on the issue.
- The draft bill also envisages entitling divorcee Muslim women for maintenance.
Opposition of the bill:
- Several Muslim clerics and Muslim organisations have opposed the Bill, terming the government’s stand as “uncalled for interference” in the personal laws of the community.
- The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) opposed the legislation holding it against the Sharia law and may potentially destroy families if made into a law.
- Some civil society organizations have questioned criminalising a practice. Some Muslim women have also claimed that such a bill would hamper chances of conciliation between the husband and wife.
Andhra Pradesh Fiber Grid Project
The Andhra Pradesh Fiber Grid Project was inaugurated by the President Ram Nath Kovind.
- The project also termed as Triple Play2 Services aims at providing affordable high-speed internet service to every household in the state at a nominal rate.
About the Fiber Grid Project:
- The project is in partnership with the government of India and the private sector.
- The project is being implemented by the Andhra Pradesh State Fibernet Limited (APSFL), which has now become the largest state government-owned telecommunication company in the country.
- It will provide internet speeds of 10 Mbps for all households and 1-10 Gbps for all institutions by 2018.
- The AP Fibre Grid was conceptualised to provide high-speed internet service to every household in the state at a nominal rate.
- The project, when completed by 2019, will cover over one crore households, 50,000 schools and educational institutions, all government offices, over 5,000 government hospitals and health centres and all panchayat offices.
- APSFL will provide three services at tariffs starting as low as `149 for 5 GB data, along with 250-odd TV channels and a free telephone connection.
- The project includes broadband of 15 Mbps to households and 100 Mbps to 1 Gbps connection to government offices and corporates, IPTV offerings 250-odd channels and free telephone connection with no rentals and calls fee within fibre grid network.
- The fibre grid will also offer services like video-conferencing and movies on demand. The district command control centres, all public CCTVs, the AP State Wide Area Network will be integrated into the grid.
Significance of the project:
- The project is expected boost digital literacy and skill development in the state, and provide citizen services on digital platform to every household.
- It also expected to facilitate setting up BPOs or call centres in rural areas.
- It will enable citizens to expand their circle of knowledge and make quality healthcare and diagnosis available even in distant areas.
Issues related to Health & Education
25th National Children’s Science Congress held in Gujarat
The 25th edition of National Children Science Congress (NCSC-2017) was held at Gandhinagar, Gujarat.
- The theme of the five-day Congress this was ‘Science and Innovation for Sustainable Development’ with the special focus on persons with disabilities.
About National Children’s Science Congress (NCSC):
- NCSC is a nationwide Science Communication programme started in the year 1993.
- It is a flagship programme of National Council for Science and Technology Communication (NCSTC), Department of Science and Technology, Government of India organised nationally by NCSTC-Network, New Delhi.
The primary objective of the Children’s Science Congress is
- to make a forum available to children of the age-group of 10-17 years, both from formal school system as well as from out of school,
- to exhibit their creativity and innovativeness and more particularly their ability to solve a societal problem experienced locally using the method of science.
- The NCSC is ideal and innovative programme for children to inspire, empower and expand their minds to world.
- It encourages a sense of discovery.
- It emboldens the participants to question many aspects of our progress and development and express their findings in their vernacular.
India’s NPAs are the fifth highest in the world: CARE Ratings report
According to recently released list by credit rating agency CARE Ratings, India ranks fifth in a list of countries with the worst non-performing asset ratios.
Highlights of the report:
- The 9.85% ratio of bad loans in banks has put India in the group of those nations that have very high nonperforming assets (NPAs).
- Portugal, Italy, Ireland and Greece – four of the PIIGS nations that suffered the most in the Eurozone sovereign debt crisis – are the only countries with higher stressed loans than India.
- Spain, the fifth of the PIIGS nations, has a non-performing asset ratio of 5.28%, significantly lower than India’s 9.85%.
- China, Germany, Japan and the United States had NPAs of between 1% and 2%.
- Indian banks, especially the public sector ones, have suffered for the last several years with stressed and non-performing loans – which refer to loans the banks have little hope to recover from the borrower. This has hurt the banks’ financial health, even as the Centre and the Reserve Bank of India have taken several measures in the past two years to counter the problem.
- According to economists, while the bad loan problem in India is serious, the economy has the advantage of being a higher growth economy, which puts it in a better position related to the other high-NPA countries in Europe.
Govt eyes 100% electric public transport through FAME II
The Centre is targeting a fully electric fleet for country’s public transport, including buses, taxis and auto-rickshaws under the second phase of FAME India scheme.
- This move is mainly aimed at reducing pollution in the country.
- The pilot phase or phase I of the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric vehicles in India (FAME India) was launched by the government in 2015, which expires on March 31, 2018. Thereafter, the phase II will be launched.
What is FAME India scheme?
- With an aim to promote eco-friendly vehicles, the government had launched the FAME India scheme in 2015 offering incentives on electric and hybrid vehicles of up to Rs 29,000 for bikes and Rs 1.38 lakh for cars.
- FAME India – Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric vehicles in India – is a part of the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan.
- The scheme envisages Rs 795 crore support in the first two fiscals starting with the current year.
- It is being administered by the Heavy Industries Ministry.
Tamil Nadu signs Rs 20,000 crore pact with WB to develop irrigation systems
The Union government and Tamil Nadu have signed an agreement with the World Bank for a $318 million (₹20,378 crore) loan towards Tamil Nadu Irrigated Agriculture Modernization Project.
About Tamil Nadu Irrigated Agriculture Modernization Project:
- The project aims to promote climate-resilient agriculture technologies, improve water management practices, and increase market opportunities for small and marginal farmers.
- The project is likely to rehabilitate and modernise about 4,800 irrigation tanks and 477 check dams, spread across 66 sub-basins, in delivering bulk water to irrigation systems.
- The funds will be utilised as part of a comprehensive project involving agriculture, horticulture, fisheries, agricultural marketing and other allied sectors. This will help water from rivers, tanks and wells reach remote areas in the state.
Significance of Tamil Nadu Irrigated Agriculture Modernization Project:
- Tamil Nadu, being a water-stressed state, continues to experience shortages which are expected to further exacerbate in the future. Rehabilitating and modernising irrigation tanks will improve the reliability and availability of irrigation water for farming communities, making them less prone to climatic hazards.
- About five lakh farmers, mostly small and marginal, are expected to benefit from improved tank irrigation systems.
- More than 1.6 lakh hectares of currently partially irrigated land will come into full irrigation under this project.
- The project will support farmers improve the efficiency of water used in farming, diversify into high value crops, and produce crops that are resilient to the increasing threats of climate change.
- By helping farmers access modern technologies, linking them to markets, and providing postharvest management support, the project will enable them to shift from a mono crop paddy system to mixed cropping including high-value crops (fruits, vegetables, and spices), pulses, oilseeds, and millets.
- The project will support smallholder producers adopt new conservation technologies such as the system of rice intensification (SRI) and sustainable sugar initiative (SSI). They reduce average water usage by 35% and increase yields by 22% per hectare.
- The project is expected to increase the yield of rice, maize, and pulses by 18-20%.
- Paddy is the dominant crop occupying 34% of total cropped areas in Tamil Nadu.
Livestock Disease Forewarning –Mobile Application (LDF-Mobile App)
Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare has launched Livestock Disease Forewarning –Mobile Application (LDF-Mobile App).
About LDF-Mobile App:
- The LDF – Mobile App was developed by ICAR- National Institute of Veterinary Epidemiology and Disease Informatics (ICAR – NIVEDI), Bengaluru.
- ICAR-NIVEDI has been providing monthly livestock disease alerts to the state and central animal husbandry departments. ICAR-NIVEDI used this Monthly Bulletin system to send out early warning.
- Apart from early warning, the app will also provide information about clinical samples for the diagnosis in case of the epidemic so that immediate action in case of the epidemic.
- This app will be beneficial for the consumers and stakeholders engaged in disease control programmes.
Science & Technology
ISRO and NASA Collaboration
ISRO and NASA are jointly working on the NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) mission to co-develop and launch a dual frequency (L&S band) synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellite by 2021.
- The satellite will be the world’s most expensive earth-imaging satellite till date, costing around $1.5 billion.
- It aims to study global environmental change and natural disasters.
- ISRO and NASA have a framework agreement for cooperation in the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes signed in 2008.
- Under this framework agreement, ISRO and NASA have executed an implementing arrangement for cooperation in NISAR mission, which is valid until 2034 and provides scope for joint activities on science & applications of NISAR data after the launch.
About the NISAR mission:
- NISAR is a dual frequency (L & S Band) Radar Imaging Satellite.
- It will be the first radar imaging satellite to use dual frequency.
- It is planned to be used for remote sensing to observe and understand natural processes of the Earth.
- The satellite is planned to be launched into a Sun-synchronous dawn to dusk orbitand ISRO will also be responsible for the in-orbit operations.
- It is designed to observe and take measurements of some of the planet’s most complex processes, including ecosystem disturbances, natural hazards such as earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes and landslides.
Usage of the L and S band microwave data:
The L and S band microwave data obtained from this satellite will be useful for variety of applications, which include
- Natural resources mapping & monitoring;
- Estimating agricultural biomass over full duration of crop cycle;
- Assessing soil moisture;
- Monitoring of floods and oil slicks;
- Coastal erosion, coastline changes and variation of winds in coastal waters;
- Assessment of mangroves; surface deformation studies and others.
Significance of the mission:
- The mission will establish a general pathway for future joint missions between ISRO and NASA for Mars exploration. It will also further strengthen the Indo-US ties.
Key Facts for Prelims
Kabul-Mumbai cargo service on
- India and Afghanistan have launched an air freight corridor service connecting Kabul with Mumbai.
- The air corridor marks an important bilateral development as it comes as Afghanistan joined Pakistan and China in a trilateral talk in Beijing which marked Kabul’s opening up to Islamabad.
- This development has assumed significance at backdrop of Pakistan’s denial to use its land for trade between India and Afghanistan.
- The air freight corridor is expected to boost export of fresh fruits and medicinal plants from Afghanistan.
- It will be used by private sector in Afghanistan to increase its exports to vast Indian market by air with minimum costs.
- It will also enable the traders to circumvent the obstacles posed by Pakistan in the land route.
2018 World Economic League Table
- According to recently released report titled 2018 World Economic League Table, India is set to overtake the United Kingdom and France to become the world’s fifth largest economy in 2018.
- The report was released by Centre for Economics and Business Research, an economics consultancy based in Britain.
- India currently ranked seventh will become the world’s fifth largest economy in 2018 in US dollar terms and further move to third spot by 2032.