Polity & Governance
- Centre pushing for reforms in Urban Planning across the country
- Centre frames new Transit-Oriented Development policy
- RBI sets up panel to review cyber threats
- SEBI to tighten algorithmic trading rules
Environment & Ecology
- Panel submits report on Tiruvannamalai project
Bilateral & International Relations
- 4th India CLMV Business Conclave
Key Facts for Prelims
- India’s first Integrated Heliport
- World’s first 5G IT baseband unit
- Meghalaya’s root bridge nominated for NIF award
- Unified Command to check left wing extremism
- 75th meeting of Central Wakf Council
Polity & Governance
Centre pushing for reforms in Urban Planning across the country
Ministry of Urban Development has evolved a new reform matrix to enable State and City Governments to implement the projects over next three years.
- The ministry will discuss a set of reforms with States and Union Territories at a ‘National Workshop on Urban Development’.
- Minister of Urban Development M Venkaiah Naidu will chair the deliberations on the reforms and six other new initiatives that promote these reforms since huge private sector investment is envisaged under five of these initiatives.
- The concerned Group of Secretaries in their report on urban sector have recommended that “After a review of the schemes over the years, the Group felt that instead of an incremental approach, the time has come for ushering in transformational reforms in Governance, Planning and Finance”.
Major reforms recommended by the Group of Secretaries:
- Instead of the present practice of verifying first and approving later, it has been recommended that trust needs to be reposed in the citizens and approvals may be accorded first and to be verified later, inverting the model of verifying first and approving later which is resulting in huge delays.
- This ‘Trust and Verify’ approach has been recommended in respect of Permissions for building construction, Change of title in municipal records (mutation) and birth and death registration, involving the largest number of physical interactions between city governments and citizens.
- The Group quoting a study by McKinsey noted that over 90% of the land records in the country are unclear and land market distortions and unclear land titles are costing the country 1.30% of GDP per year and accordingly recommended enactment of Land Titling Laws and their implementation in a specific time frame.
- Quoting investment bank Goldman Sachs report, the group of secretaries noted that a bureaucracy that is based on merit rather than seniority could add nearly a percentage point annually to the country’s per capita GDP growth.
- It also expressed concern over shortage of qualified technical staff and managerial supervisors in urban local bodies preventing innovation, the Group recommended induction of professionals in city governments by encouraging lateral induction and filling top positions in cities (Commissioners and Heads of Finance and Revenue) through open competition.
Centre frames new Transit-Oriented Development policy
The Union Urban Development Ministry has formulated ‘National Transit Oriented Development (TOD) Policy’ to address the challenges of urbanisation.
Aim of the policy:
- The policy framework aims to promote living close to mass urban transit corridors like the Metros, monorail and bus rapid transit (BRT) corridors.
- Under the new Metro policy, TOD has been made mandatory and also an essential reform under the green urban mobility scheme and given priority for receiving central assistance.
- Under it, States/UTs are required to incorporate TOD in their master plans and development plans of cities besides identifying ‘influence zones’ from transit corridors for tapping revenue streams.
- The central TOD policy will help the states to develop an in-depth understanding of the symptoms and causes of the challenges currently faced by Indian cities.
- Besides, urban design and planning in the form of TOD, is being incentivised by the ministry under two more initiatives viz., Metro policy and green urban mobility scheme.
- Development or redevelopment in TOD zone will be incentivised by providing significantly higher floor area ratio (FAR). It will enable vertical construction that is required to address shortage of land availability.
- It also promotes integration of land use planning with transportation and infrastructure development to avoid long distance travel in cities through compact development.
- The policy will be financed by channelising a part of increases in property values resulting from investments in transit corridors through betterment levies and value capture financing tools.
- Increased private sector participation will result in economic development and employment generation.
- The Union Government already has notified the TOD policy in early 2015, however, there was no clarity on the process for management of open spaces, various sanctions, parking space, water requirement, etc.
- TOD at present is being taken up Ahmedabad, Karkardooma in Delhi, Nagpur, Naya Raipur and Navi Mumbai.
- It is significant in the context that over 300 km of Metro lines being operational in seven cities. Another 600 kms of metro line projects are under construction in 12 cities and over 500 km projects under consideration.
- The Union Government also has supported bus rapid transit system (BRTS) projects in 12 cities which are under different stages of progress. Eight more cities are set to take up BRT projects. Mass rail transit system of 380 km length is also being taken up in Delhi.
RBI sets up panel to review cyber threats
The Reserve Bank of India has set up an inter-disciplinary standing committee on cyber security to review the threats inherent in the existing and emerging technology.
- The 11-member committee will also study adoption of various security standards and protocols, interface with stakeholders and suggest appropriate policy interventions to strengthen cyber security and resilience.
- The committee is headed by Meena Hemchandra, executive director, RBI.
- The committee can co-opt more experts and also operate through a framework of sub-committees to examine specific issues.
Based on the recommendations of the Expert Panel on Cyber Security and Information Technology Examination, the RBI had issued guidelines to banks in June last year mandating cyber security preparedness to tackle cyber risks.
Since then banks have taken several steps to strengthen their defences, but the diverse and ingenious nature of cyber-attacks necessitates an ongoing review of the cyber security landscape and emerging threats.
Even the statement on Developmental and Regulatory Policies also was issued along with the Sixth Bi-monthly Monetary Policy Statement, 2016-17 proposing constitution of inter-disciplinary Standing Committee on Cyber Security.[Ref: LiveMint]
SEBI to tighten algorithmic trading rules
The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) is planning to further tighten the regulations for algorithmic trading to minimise instances of misuse of such systems.
- The tight regulations aim to curb the instances of flash crashes that have happened overseas and also in India few times.
What is Algorithmic trading?
- Algorithmic trading in financial markets refers to transaction orders generated by using advanced mathematical models that involves automated execution of trade.
- It uses mathematical models and software codes to make transaction decisions on exchanges and execute them at high speed.
- This technology-driven trading enables traders to take advantage of any profit making opportunities arising in the market much before a human trader can even spot them.
- At present, on the National Stock Exchange (NSE), algorithm trades accounts close to 16% of all trades. On the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), it was 8.56% in January 2017.
Why India needed such rules?
- India is one of the few countries in the world to regulate algorithmic trading. Flash crash results in extremely rapid decline in the price of one or more commodities or securities caused by algorithmic trading. It can result in the loss and recovery of billions of dollars in a matter of minutes and seconds.
- Many countries and regulators, including the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) are debating on this issue for many years, but only India had been able to come out with proper regulations.
Environment & Ecology
Panel submits report on Tiruvannamalai project
A two-member expert committee which went into the Tiruvannamalai Girivalam Path Widening Project has submitted its report to the National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) Southern Bench.
Highlights of the committee report:
- In its report, the committee indicated that the flora and fauna in the area may not be affected much by the project.
- The Highways Department shall undertake maintenance of the odais/channels leading to the receiving water bodies lying within 20m on either side of the road as part of the project cost.
- As for the feasibility of earmarking a portion of the existing road for movement of emergency vehicles, the report says 5m wide on the left side of the road on stretches 2, 3 and 4 could be dedicated exclusively for the two-way movement of emergency vehicles.
- The committee has recommended that the Highways Department may be permitted to undertake its work with various conditions in all stretches of the project.
About the project:
- The Girivalam is the path taken by devotees of the famed Arulmigu Arunachaleswarar Temple in Tiruvannamalai district in Tamil Nadu.
- Implemented at a cost of Rs.65 crore, the widening project is creating a lane of 7 to 10 m width for pedestrians/pilgrims who take up circumambulation of the holy hill by walk.
Bilateral & International Relations
4th India CLMV Business Conclave
4th India – CLMV (Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam) Business Conclave was recently held in Jaipur.
- During the conference, government and business community of CLMV countries were invited to actively partner in India’s initiative to strengthen manufacturing capacities.
- Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam collectively, is the third largest economy in ASEAN, followed by Indonesia and Thailand.
India and CLMV countries:
- Due to close proximity, India is looking to boost trade and investment with the CLMV region as part of the ‘Act East’ policy announced by the Prime Minister during the 12th India – ASEAN Summit in 2013.
- India’s trade with the CLMV countries has grown from USD 1.5 bn to more than USD 10 bn in the last 10 years.
- The CLMV conclave is an annual feature which provides an opportunity for Indian business leaders to interact with government and business stakeholders representing the four countries.
- The conclave facilitates to create and provide a platform for the decision makers from CLMV countries to interact with a range of Indian business companies involved in trading, manufacturing, processing, engineering, consultancy, construction etc.
Key Facts for Prelims
India’s first Integrated Heliport
- India’s first integrated heliport was inaugurated at Rohini in North Delhi.
- This heliport has been developed by Pawan Hans Limited.
- It will play an important role in providing various helicopter services ranging from offshore transport, connecting remote & inaccessible Islands of Andaman & Nicobar and Lakshadweep besides promoting heli-tourism in India.
- It will also be used for operating services for disaster management, emergency medical services, law and order surveillance as well as a centre for the skill development of pilots and engineers.
- It will reduce congestion at the Delhi Airport, which currently handles about 40 to 50 helicopter arrivals and departures on an average per day besides the large-scale fixed-wing operations
World’s first 5G IT baseband unit
- Chinese smartphone manufacturer ZTE unveiled its new Gigabit Phone, a next generation 5G IT baseband unit (BBU) with Intel Corporation at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, Spain.
- It is world’s first software defined networking/network function virtualisation (SDN/NFV) technology based 5G RAN solution.
Meghalaya’s root bridge nominated for NIF award
- Meghalaya’s root-bridge has been nominated for the prestigious National Innovation Foundation award for grassroots innovations and outstanding traditional knowledge.
- It is a community-driven innovation by forest dwellers especially Khasi and Jaintia peoples of the mountainous terrain along the southern part of the Shillong Plateau.
- These bridges are handmade from the aerial roots of Rubber Trees (Ficus elastica), that are made to grow through betel tree trunks which have been placed across rivers and streams until the roots attach themselves to the other side.
- The growing bridge is stabilized using sticks, stones, and other objects. This process can take up to 15 years to complete.
Unified Command to check left wing extremism
- The Kerala state government has constituted a Unified Command under the Chief Minister as suggested by the Union Government to contain the spread of left wing extremism in the State.
- It will meet at least once in six months or as required. It was constituted as per suggestion given by the Union government.
- Its task is to effectively deal with LWE and to focus on the operation against its sympathisers.
- It will also serve as forum to review the development activities in the LWE affected areas in the State.
75th meeting of Central Wakf Council
- 75th meeting of Central Wakf Council was recently held in New Delhi.
- The meeting was chaired by the Union Minister of State for Minority Affairs (Independent Charge) & Parliamentary Affairs Shri Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.
- Various obstacles in development of wakf properties and utilisation of these properties for welfare of the society were discussed during the meeting.
- Efforts of the central government to ensure that all the wakf boards and their records across the country are made digital were also highlighted during the meeting.