Polity & Governance
- Ministry of WCD seeks suggestions issues related to civil aspects of “International Child removal”
Government Schemes & Policies
- Guidelines for Planning and Implementation of Family Participatory Care
- NPCI receives final nod from RBI to function as Bharat Bill Payment Central Unit
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- Delhi Metro first to become 100% ‘green’
Bilateral & International Relations
- BRICS nations sign Taxation Cooperation Memorandum
Defence & Security Issues
- India’s first unmanned tank Muntra
Science & Technology
- India among top nations with potential for digital payments’: Digital Evolution Index
- China produces gas from ‘flammable ice’ under South China Sea
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Polity & Governance
Ministry of WCD seeks suggestions issues related to civil aspects of “International Child removal”
The ministry for women and child development has put out in the public domain a “concept note” on issues related to civil aspects of International Child Removal.
- A multi member committee led Chairmanship Justice Rajesh Bindal, Judge Punjab and Haryana High Court was set-up in February to study all aspects of the matter pertaining to Hague Convention on Child Abduction in detail and make its recommendation.
- Before it gives the final report, the Committee has sought suggestions on the concept note and the various concerns raised.
- The report of the committee once ready will steer further deliberations of the WCD ministry to recommend to the government of India on whether India should ratify the Hague convention and if it does how to ensure that the rights of the parents and child are not compromised in any way.
Why should India have a Child Abduction law?
With the rise in trans-national marriages and complexities involved in modern day relationships, the protection of rights of parents and children involved has become a critical issue of National and International importance.
- The instances of an Indian citizen marrying an NRI or a person of Indian origin having citizenship of a foreign nation, popularly referred to as ‘transnational marriages’ are frequent and in abundance. However, many a times, it so happens that the spouses fall apart and the marriage breaks down irretrievably. In many such cases, the spouses return to the net of their families/extended families in India, seeking mental comfort for themselves and their children. However, such instances often land such estranged spouse in a situation of being perceived as abductors of their children in light of The Hague convention provisions.
- In another situation where both the spouses may be Indians, residing in India, one of the spouses may move out of India along with the child born out of such wedlock after breakdown of marriage. In such situation, the issue of getting the child back from the foreign land assumes importance, in the process of redressing the grievance of the left behind spouse. In such cases, the signatory countries of the Hague convention can avail access to the Central authorities of the other contracting states to resolve such issues.
- Another factor that deserves consideration, is that many a times, on account of the broken marriages, often the complaint of child abduction is alleged against each other by the estranged spouse, to settle their personal scores.
About the Hague Abduction Convention:
The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction or Hague Abduction Convention is a multilateral treaty developed by the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH).
- It provides an expeditious method to return a child internationally abducted by a parent from one-member country to another.
- The Convention was entered into force between the signatories on 1 December 1983.
- The Convention was drafted to ensure the prompt return of children who have been abducted from their country of habitual residence or wrongfully retained in a contracting state not their country of habitual residence.
- The primary intention of the Convention is to preserve whatever status quo child custody arrangement existed immediately before an alleged wrongful removal or retention thereby deterring a parent from crossing international boundaries in search of a more sympathetic court.
- The Convention applies only to children under the age of 16.
- 94 states are party to the convention. In 2016, Philippines acceded to the convention.
Government Schemes & Policies
Guidelines for Planning and Implementation of Family Participatory Care
The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has released Operational Guidelines for Planning and Implementation of Family Participatory Care (FPC) for improving newborn health.
- The guidelines are for all stakeholders involved in the process of planning and delivering newborn care.
- They will serve as a guiding document for those intending to introduce FPC in their facility as an integral part of facility based newborn care.
What is Family Participatory Care (FPC)?
- FPC has emerged as an important concept of health care as it provides partnership between health care staff and families in care of sick newborns admitted in the Special Newborn Care Units (SNCU).
- Under it, the capacities of parents-attendants are built in newborn care through a structured training programme (training guide and audio-visual module).
Need for FPC:
- Sick and newborn are highly vulnerable and require careful nurturing in order to survive the neonatal period and first year of life.
- In the recent years, it was realized that if parents are trained, during the stay of their babies in the hospital, to provide supportive care to their newborns, it will help in not only to improve survival of the babies after discharge but also cater psycho-social and developmental needs of the newborn.
Key Operational Guidelines:
- The Operational Guidelines provides details of infrastructure, training, role of health care providers and steps in the operationalization of FPC in the newborn care unit.
- It also addresses various aspects of attitudes, infrastructural modifications and practice that will help in establishing FPC at SNCU.
- It also includes sensitization of State and District Managers on FPC, prioritization of SNCUs for initiating FPC, making required infrastructural enhancement in SNCU, creating family participatory care environment in SNCU.
- It also seeks to ensure availability of supplies for parents-attendants, role of healthcare providers for FPC implementation, training of SNCU staff for SNCU and institutional support for FPC.
- The guidelines will be shared with the states for implementation to further improve the quality of care provided in the SNCUs across the country.
- Under National Health Mission (NHM), more than 700 state of the art SNCU have been established across the country to provide 24 X 7 comprehensive care to the newborns by dedicated trained staff.
NPCI receives final nod from RBI to function as Bharat Bill Payment Central Unit
National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), the umbrella organisation for all retail payment systems, has received a final nod from the Reserve Bank of India to function as the Bharat Bill Payment Central Unit (BBPCU) and operate the Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS).
- The final clearance from RBI comes almost a year after NPCI launched the BBPS pilot project to make payment of utility bills easier.
- The total number of Bharat Bill Payment Operating Units certified by NPCI now stands at 24. The certified units include 10 private sector banks, 3 public sector banks (Bank of Baroda, Union Bank of India and Indian Overseas Bank), five cooperative banks and six non-bank biller aggregators.
About Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS):
The Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS) is an RBI conceptualised system driven by National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).
- BBPS is an integrated bill payment system offering interoperable and accessible bill payment service to customers through a network of agents, enabling multiple payment modes and providing instant confirmation of payment.
- The BBPS initiative aims to provide a major push to digital payments as it is a big step forward in formalizing the bill payment system in the country.
- Under the BBPS framework, a customer will be able to pay several bills such as electricity, telephone, water, gas, and DTH television at a single location—physical or electronic—and receive instant confirmation once the payment is made. Nearly 45 crore bills are permitted under BBPS.
- Payments through BBPS can be made using cash, transfer cheques and electronic modes.
- Bill aggregators and banks, who will function as operating units, will carry out these transactions for the customers.
- At present the bulk of transactions on BBPS are of electricity bills. It contributes to about 180 million bills per month out of which only 10% is digital.
About the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI):
- NPCI is an umbrella organization for all retail payments system in India.
- Founded in 2008, NPCI is a not-for-profit organisation registered under the Companies Act 2013.
- It aims to allow all Indian citizens to have unrestricted access to e-payment services.
- It was set up with the guidance and support of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and Indian Banks’ Association (IBA). NPCI has ten promoter banks.
- It has been promoted by the country’s central bank, the Reserve Bank of India.
- Its recent work of developing Unified Payments Interface aims to move India to a cashless society with only digital transactions.
- It has successfully completed the development of a domestic card payment network called RuPay, reducing the dependency on international card schemes.
[Ref: The Hindu]
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
Delhi Metro first to become 100% ‘green’
Delhi Metro has become the only completely ‘green’ Metro system in the world for adhering to green building norms for its residential colonies.
- Delhi Metro has secured the platinum rating for adherence to green building norms for its 10 residential colonies from the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC).
- The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) had earlier received the green certificates for its Phase-3 stations, depots, and sub-stations.
- In 2008, DMRC was the first railway project in the world to be registered by the United Nations under the CDM, enabling it to claim carbon credits.
- In 2015, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) had registered DMRC as the world’s first transport sector project under the Program of Activities (PoA), making it the managing entity for all other Metros of India.
About Indian Green Building Council:
- The Indian Green Building Council, part of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), was formed in 2001.
- The vision of the council is to enable a sustainable built environment for all and facilitate India to be one of the global leaders in the sustainable built environment by 2025.
- The council offers a wide array of services, which include developing new green building rating programmes, certification services and green building training programmes.
- The council also organises Green Building Congress, its annual flagship event on green buildings.
- The council is committee-based, member-driven and consensus-focused.
What is Green Building?
- Green building (also known as green construction or sustainable building) refers to both a structure and the using of processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building’s life-cycle: from siting to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, and demolition.
- Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a set of rating systems for the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of green buildings which was Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council.
Bilateral & International Relations
BRICS nations sign Taxation Cooperation Memorandum
Tax authorities of the five BRICS countries signed, BRICS Taxation Cooperation Memorandum, a landmark document to establish a mechanism for taxation cooperation.
- It was signed at the fifth meeting of BRICS Heads of Tax Authorities.
- It is the bloc’s first document that elevates taxation cooperation to the institutional level.
- The authorities also agreed to cooperate on taxation information exchange, improve consultation procedures efficiency, boost taxation capacities and plan paths for coordination of taxation policies and tax collection.
Defence & Security Issues
India’s first unmanned tank Muntra
The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has developed India’s first unmanned tank- Muntra.
- Though developed and tested for the Army, paramilitary has expressed interest to use them at Naxal-hit areas.
About the Muntra:
- Muntra, the unmanned tank, has three variants
- Muntra-S: for unmanned surveillance missions
- Muntra-M: for detecting mines
- Muntra-N: for reconnaissance in areas with nuclear and bio threats
- The vehicle has been tested and validated under dusty desert conditions where temperatures touched 52 C.
- It has surveillance radar, an integrated camera along with laser range finder which can be used to spy on ground target 15km away – may be a crawling men or heavy vehicles.
Science & Technology
India among top nations with potential for digital payments’: Digital Evolution Index
India has emerged strong, exhibiting a high potential in terms of digital payments and has been categorised under the “break out” segment among 60 countries, according to the Digital Evolution Index 2017.
What is break out segment?
- The ‘break out’ segment refers to countries that have relatively lower absolute levels of digital advancement, yet remain poised for growth and are attractive to investors by virtue of their potential.
About the index:
- The Digital Evolution Index 2017 was unveiled by the Fletcher School at Tufts University in partnership with Mastercard.
- The Index is a comprehensive research that tracks the progress countries have made in developing their digital economies and integrating connectivity into the lives of billions.
- The Index measures four key drivers – supply, consumer demand, institutional environment, and innovation.
- With nearly half of the world’s population online, the research maps the development of 60 countries, demonstrating their competitiveness and market potential for further digital economic growth.
As per the index,
- India has been experiencing rapid strides of progress with an evolving payments landscape, catalysed by the government’s demonetisation decision.
- The government’s endeavour to boost the acceptance infrastructure coupled with a host of other economic reforms have further hastened the momentum for the country’s journey towards a cashless society.
- Adoption of digital payments has also witnessed a massive growth with a shift in behaviour change as more people adopt digital payments in daily life.
- With new players foraying into the market and an entire gamut of solutions for alternate payments, the India payment ecosystem is growing each day.
China produces gas from ‘flammable ice’ under South China Sea
In an experimental project in the South China Sea (SCS), China has successfully produced natural gas from methane hydrate, also known as “flammable ice”.
- Methane hydrate has been identified as a potential new gas source for China, with the South China Sea thought to contain some of the world’s most promising flammable ice deposits.
- India, Canada and US are also believed to be looking at hydrates as an alternative energy source.
What is flammable ice?
Flammable ice (also known as methane hydrate or methane clathrates) consists of methane trapped within water crystals.
- It is the world’s largest natural gas resource is trapped beneath permafrost and ocean sediment where low temperature and moderate pressure combine to trap methane in this specific way.
- Despite the low temperature, these hydrates are flammable. By lowering the pressure or raising the temperature, the hydrates break down into water and methane – a lot of methane. One cubic metre of the compound releases about 160 cubic metres of gas, making it a highly energy-intensive fuel.
- Many countries including the US and Japan are working on how to tap those reserves, but mining and extracting are extremely difficult.
- Accessing the power of this flammable ice has been difficult, for two reasons.
- First, these reserves are often distributed over a large area rather than concentrated in one spot as oil or natural gas reserves often are.
- The bigger problem, however, is that, true to their moniker as flammable ice, methane hydrates are unstable and potentially explosive. Drilling into the seafloor could destabilize the methane ice crystals and cause explosions, spewing vast troves of methane into the atmosphere, where it is a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide (CO2).
Significance of the flammable ice:
- Methane hydrates are thought to have the potential to be a revolutionary energy source that could be key to future energy needs – likely the world’s last great source of carbon-based fuel.
- Vast deposits exist basically underneath all oceans around the globe, especially on the edge of continental shelves. Countries are scrambling for a way to make the extraction safe and profitable.
- Any exploitation of the reserves must be done with the utmost care because of environmental concerns.
- The potential threat is that methane can escape, which would have serious consequences for global warming. It is a gas that has a much higher potential to impact climate change than carbon dioxide.