Polity & Governance
- Telecom regulator TRAI backs Net neutrality
- Skill India partners with Airbnb to Upskill Hospitality Entrepreneurs
Government Schemes & Policies
- SAUBHAGYA Scheme launched in Manipur
Issues related to Health & Education
- Health Ministry and ICMR launch India Hypertension Management Initiative (IHMI)
- Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2017 in Hyderabad
Bilateral & International Relations
- Meeting of Asia and Pacific Decade for Persons with Disabilities
- IMO assembly elects Georgia’s representative as vice president
- Chabahar phase one to be opened by Iran President
Key Facts for Prelims
- Russia To Help India Set Up National Crisis Management Centre
- Third ‘Distinguished Indologist’ award
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Polity & Governance
Telecom regulator TRAI backs Net neutrality
What is Net Neutrality?
Net Neutrality is the internet’s guiding principle: It preserves our right to communicate freely online.
- Net Neutrality means an internet that enables and protects free speech.
- It means that ISPs should provide us with open networks — and shouldn’t block or discriminate against any applications or content that ride over those networks.
- Just as your phone company shouldn’t decide who you call and what you say on that call, your ISP shouldn’t interfere with the content you view or post online.
- Without Net Neutrality, cable and phone companies could carve the internet into fast and slow lanes.
- An ISP could slow down its competitors’ content or block political opinions it disagreed with. ISPs could charge extra fees to the few content companies that could afford to pay for preferential treatment — relegating everyone else to a slower tier of service. This would destroy the open internet.
Why in news?
- India’s telecom regulator, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), came out in strong support of Net neutrality in a series of recommendations following a long process of consultations on the issue.
- The recommendations assume international significance in the heated globe-spanning debate, with the United States’ Federal Communications Commission expected to remove existing guidelines ensuring net neutrality come December.
- TRAI upholds basic principle of net neutrality by keeping Internet open and prohibits any Internet service providers (ISPs) from discrimination on basis of content by either blocking, throttling or fast-laning any websites, apps or web services.
- The internet use should be facilitated in such manner that it advances free speech rights of citizens, by ensuring plurality and diversity of views, opinions and ideas.
- It also restrains ISPs from entering into pacts with any person which discriminates on content, protocol or user equipment.
- It excludes specialised services and content delivery networks (CDNs) from scope of any rules on net neutrality.
- It does not define specialised services and leaves it to DoT to identify these services.
- It also calls for keeping Internet of Things (IoT) within purview of non-discriminatory restriction with the exception of critical services.
- It exempt CDNs from the scope of net neutrality rules arguing that CDNs add efficiency to network by reducing latency, mitigating congestion and freeing up network capacity for other purposes. CDNs are layer in Internet networks which are outside public Internet and are used by content generators to store their data at suitable geographical locations.
- Telecom and ISPs should deploy “reasonable” traffic management practices from time to time. It calls for setting up multi-stakeholder body to monitor and investigate whether ISPs are adhering to rules.
- The body will be led by industry and comprise members representing different telecom and ISPs, large and small content providers, representatives from research, academia, civil society organisations and consumer bodies.
Skill India partners with Airbnb to Upskill Hospitality Entrepreneurs
A tripartite MoU was signed between Tourism and Hospitality Sector Skill Council (THSC) and National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) with Airbnb, the world’s leading community-driven hospitality company.
- The MoU was signed in line with Government’s endeavor to promote entreprenuership under Government’s Skill India Programme.
- It will also provide hospitality skills training to hospitality micro-entrepreneurs in India.
- The MoU aims to empower more citizens, including those in underserved areas and rural to join alternate accommodation sector and pursue new livelihood opportunities by sharing their homes.
- It will establish occupation standards and competency matrices for job roles and develop courses for hospitality entrepreneurs offering homestay and facilities and local experiences for travellers.
- Through this partnership, Airbnb, NSDC and THSC will work together to create an accredited skill development module for hospitality entrepreneurs offering homestay facilities, unique accommodations and local experiences.
- Airbnb will support Skill India Mission by creating 50,000 hospitality entrepreneurs in India.
About National Skill Development Corporation India (NSDC)
The NSDC is a one-of-its-kind, Public Private Partnership (PPP) model in India, under the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE).
- It aims to promote skill development by catalyzing creation of large, quality and for-profit vocational institutions.
- NSDC is the implementation arm of Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship.
- A not-for-profit company set up by the Ministry of Finance, under Section 25 of the Companies Act, it has an equity base of Rs.10 crore, of which the Government of India holds for 49%, while the private sector has the balance 51%.
- NSDC provides funding to build scalable and profitable vocational training initiatives.
- Its mandate is also to enable support system which focuses on quality assurance, information systems and train the trainer academies either directly or through partnerships.
- NSDC acts as a catalyst in skill development by providing funding to enterprises, companies and organisations that provide skill training.
- It will also develop appropriate models to enhance, support and coordinate private sector initiatives.
- The differentiated focus on 21 sectors under NSDC’s purview and its understanding of their viability will make every sector attractive to private investment.
The main objectives of the NSDC are to:
- To contribute significantly (40%) to the overall target of skilling/up-skilling 400 million people in India by 2022, mainly by fostering private sector initiatives in skill development programmes and to provide funding.
- Upgrade skills to international standards through significant industry involvement and develop necessary frameworks for standards, curriculum and quality assurance
- Enhance, support and coordinate private sector initiatives for skill development through appropriate Public-Private Partnership (PPP) models; strive for significant operational and financial involvement from the private sector
- Play the role of a “market-maker” by bringing financing, particularly in sectors where market mechanisms are ineffective or missing
- Prioritize initiatives that can have a multiplier or catalytic effect as opposed to one-off impact.
About Tourism and Hospitality Skill Council (THSC):
- THSC is a Not – for – Profit Organization, registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860.
- The Tourism and Hospitality Skill Council (THSC) is promoted by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) with inclusive representation of the Government, Industry, Industry Associations and Training Institutes across India, with financial support by National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC).
- THSC is mandated to create a robust and sustainable eco-system for skill development in the industry.
- THSC caters to all the sub sectors of the Industry, namely, Hotels, Tour Operators, Food Service Restaurants, Facilities Management and Cruise Liners.
Government Schemes & Policies
SAUBHAGYA Scheme launched in Manipur
The Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana (SAUBHAGYA) has been launched in Manipur.
- A total of approximately 1.75 lakh households (1.62 lakh rural households and 0.13 lakh urban households) of Manipur are proposed to be included under the Scheme.
About Saubhagya scheme:
In September 2017, Ministry of Power has launched a new scheme called Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana – “Saubhagya” – to ensure electrification of all willing households in the country in rural as well as urban areas.
- Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana aims to provide last mile electricity connectivity to all rural and urban households.
- Under the scheme, government will provide free electricity to all households identified under Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC) data 2011.
- Electricity connections will be given to APL families for Rs 500, which will be payable in 10 equal monthly instalments. The BPL cardholders will get free electricity connections.
- The total outlay of scheme is Rs. 16, 320 crore while Gross Budgetary Support (GBS) is Rs. 12,320 crore. The Central Government will provide largely funds for the Scheme to all States/UTs.
- The States and Union Territories are required to complete works of household electrification by 31st of December 2018.
- The Rural Electrification Corporation Limited (REC) will be nodal agency for operationalisation of scheme throughout country.
- Gram Panchayat/Public institutions in rural areas will be authorised to collect application forms along with complete documentation, distribute bills and collect revenue in consultation with Panchayat Raj Institutions (PRIs) and Urban Local Bodies (ULBs).
Expected outcome of Scheme:
- Better health services
- Improvement education services
- Increased economic activities and jobs
- Improved quality of life especially for women
- Enhanced connectivity through radio, television, mobiles, etc.
- Environmental upgradation by substitution of Kerosene for lighting purposes
Issues related to Health & Education
Health Ministry and ICMR launch India Hypertension Management Initiative (IHMI)
The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) had launched India Hypertension Management Initiative (IHMI).
- The IHMI aims to reduce disability and death related to cardiovascular disease (CVD), the leading cause of death in India.
- It also aims to strengthen CVD component of Health Ministry’s National Program for Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases and Stroke (NPCDCS).
About India Hypertension Management Initiative (IHMI):
The IHMI is collaborative project of ICMR, MoHFW, World Health Organization (WHO), State Governments and Resolve to Save Lives initiative of Vital Strategies.
- Its primary goal is to reduce morbidity and mortality due to CVDs, by improving control of high blood pressure, which is leading risk factor for CVDs among adults in India.
- The IHMI focuses on five essential components of scalable treatment of hypertension.
- It will also focus on strengthening hypertension management and monitoring at primary health care level, within existing healthcare system.
- It is aligned with WHO’s Global HEARTS Initiative and National Guidelines.
- It will support adoption of standardized simplified treatment plans for managing high blood pressure, ensure regular and uninterrupted supply of quality-assured medications, and patient-centred services that reduce barriers to treatment adherence.
- It will also focus on data on hypertension to improve it through streamlined monitoring systems and lessons learned and practice-based evidence that will inform further interventions to improve cardiovascular care.
- IHMI will be progressively rolled out in 25 districts in first two years across districts selected by MoHFW for expansion of active screening and intensification of treatment activities for hypertension.
Hypertension in India:
- Around 200 million adults in India have high blood pressure, yet control rates for the condition remain low.
- Studies suggest that in rural areas in India, only one quarter of people with hypertension are aware of their condition, and only around 10% have their blood pressure controlled.
- In urban areas, around 40% of people with hypertension are aware of their condition, and only around 20% have their blood pressure controlled.
Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2017 in Hyderabad
The 8th edition of the Global Entrepreneurship summit (GES) was recently held in Hyderabad.
- It was jointly inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump’s advisor and daughter Ivanka Trump.
- It was hosted by NITI Aayog in partnership with US government.
- The summit was attended by 1,500 entrepreneurs from 170 countries.
- The theme for 2017 GES is “Women First, Prosperity for All”.
About the Global Entrepreneurship summit (GES):
- Organised annually since 2010, GES is preeminent annual entrepreneurship gathering that convenes over one thousand emerging entrepreneurs, investors, and supporters from around the world.
- This is the first time GES is being held in South Asia.
- The event underscores the broad and enduring partnership with India.
- The four primary focus areas of GES 2017 are Digital Economy and Financial Technology, Health Care and Life Sciences, Energy and Infrastructure, and Media and Entertainment.
Bilateral & International Relations
Meeting of Asia and Pacific Decade for Persons with Disabilities
The High Level Inter-Governmental Mid-Point review meeting of Asia and Pacific Decade for Persons with Disabilities, 2013-2022 was held in Beijing, China.
- A number of countries in the Asia-Pacific region are participating and will finalise a Declaration which will address the gaps and challenges in empowerment and inclusion of persons with disabilities.
- The meeting was organised by United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) in cooperation with China Disabled Persons’ Federation (CDPF).
Objectives of the meeting:
- The main objective of the meeting is to review the progress made by the member States during the Decade at the mid-point in 2017 with regard to Incheon Strategy ‘to make the right real’ for persons with disabilities in Asia and Pacific.
- Another objective of the meeting is to discuss the future policy action for building disabilities-inclusive societies in the region, bearing in mind the synergies between the Incheon Strategy and 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
What is Incheon strategy?
The Incheon Strategy provides Asian and Pacific region and world with first set of regionally agreed disability-inclusive development goals.
- It has been developed over more than two years of consultations with governments and civil society stakeholders.
- The Incheon Strategy builds on UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and Biwako Millennium Framework for Action (BMF) and Biwako Plus Five towards an Inclusive, Barrier-free and Rights-based Society for Persons with Disabilities in Asia and Pacific.
- The Incheon Strategy enables Asian and Pacific region to track progress towards improving quality of life, and fulfilment of rights of region’s 650 million persons with disabilities, most of whom live in poverty.
- The UNESCAP secretariat is mandated to report progress in implementation of Incheon Strategy every three years until end of Decade in 2022.
- It comprises 10 goals, 27 targets and 62 indicators. To ensure that the 10 goals are successfully met, the Strategy identifies 27 targets as well as 62 related indicators for monitoring and evaluating the implementation of the 10 goals.
- The Incheon Strategy goals cover a range of development areas from poverty reduction and employment to political participation, accessibility, social protection, education, gender equality, disaster risk reduction, data collection, CRPD ratification and international cooperation.
The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP or ESCAP) is the regional development arm of the United Nations for the Asia-Pacific region.
- It is one of the five regional commissions of the United Nations Economic and Social Council, under the administrative direction of the United Nations headquarters.
- It is located in Bangkok, Thailand.
- It was established in 1947 (then as the UN Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East, ECAFE) to encourage economic cooperation among its member states. The name was changed to the current in 1974.
- ESCAP has 53 member States and nine Associate members. As well as countries in Asia and the Pacific, it includes France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States.
- ESCAP’s regional focus is managing globalization through programs in environmentally sustainable development, trade, and human rights.
IMO assembly elects Georgia’s representative as vice president
Georgia’s Permanent Representative to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), Tamar Beruchashvili has been elected as the Vice President of the IMO Assembly.
- She is also Georgia’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom.
- The assembly meets once every two years and is the highest tribune for the international maritime community.
About International Maritime Organization (IMO):
The International Maritime Organization (IMO), known as the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organization (IMCO) until 1982, is a specialised agency of the United Nations responsible for regulating shipping.
- The IMO was established in Geneva in 1948 and came into force ten years later, meeting for the first time in 1959.
- Headquartered in London, United Kingdom, the IMO has 171 Member States and three Associate Members.
- The IMO’s primary purpose is to develop and maintain a comprehensive regulatory framework for shipping and its remit today includes safety, environmental concerns, legal matters, technical co-operation, maritime security and the efficiency of shipping.
- IMO is governed by an assembly of members and is financially administered by a council of members elected from the assembly.
- The IMO’s structure comprises the Assembly, the Council, the Maritime Safety Committee, the Marine Environment Protection Committee, the Legal Committee, the Technical Cooperation Committee, and the secretariat, headed by a Secretary-General.
- Member organizations of the UN organizational family may observe the proceedings of the IMO. Observer status is granted to qualified non-governmental organizations.
- The IMO Council has a crucial role to play in deciding various matters in relation to the global shipping industry, including its work programme strategy and budget.
- Members of the Council consist of 40 member states, elected by its Assembly including 10 members in category A with the largest interest in providing international shipping services; 10 members in category B with the largest interest in international seaborne trade and 20 members in category C with special interests in maritime transport or navigation.
India and IMO:
- India has been one of the earliest members of the IMO, having ratified its Convention and joined it as a member-state in the year 1959.
Chabahar phase one to be opened by Iran President
Iran has completed the first phase of work on the strategically located Chabahar port, making it suitable for handling large container ships.
- Now, Iran is all set to inaugurate the first phase of the Chabahar port development project.
- The development assumes significance since India’s outreach through Iran is taking place at a time the Donald Trump administration is planning to corner Tehran through diplomatic and economic means.
- India has already completed the Zaranj-Delaram highway in Afghanistan, which would facilitate the trade to Kabul, and eventually beyond, to Central Asia.
- At present, India is using the port’s existing commercial route to transport to send more than 1.1 million tonnes of wheat to Afghanistan; the first consignment of 15,000 tonnes from Kandla port came to Zaranj via Chabahar on November 11.
Where is Chabahar port located?
The port of Chabahar is located on the Makran coast of Sistan and Baluchistan Province, next to the Gulf of Oman and at the mouth of Strait of Hormuz.
- It is the only Iranian port with direct access to the Indian Ocean.
- Being close to Afghanistan and the Central Asian countries of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan etc., it has been termed the “Golden Gate” to these land-locked countries.
- The Chabahar port was partially developed by India in the 1990s.
Why Chabahar Port is crucial for India?
- The first and foremost significance of the Chabahar port is the fact that India can bypass Pakistan in transporting goods to Afghanistan.
- Chabahar port will boost India’s access to Iran, the key gateway to the International North-South Transport Corridor that has sea, rail and road routes between India, Russia, Iran, Europe and Central Asia.
- Chabahar port will be beneficial to India in countering Chinese presence in the Arabian Sea which China is trying to ensure by helping Pakistan develop the Gwadar port. Gwadar port is less than 400 km from Chabahar by road and 100 km by sea.
- With Chabahar port being developed and operated by India, Iran also becomes a military ally to India. Chabahar could be used in case China decides to flex its navy muscles by stationing ships in Gwadar port to reckon its upper hand in the Indian Ocean, Persian Gulf and Middle East.
- With Chabahar port becoming functional, there will be a significant boost in the import of iron ore, sugar and rice to India. The import cost of oil to India will also see a considerable decline. India has already increased its crude purchase from Iran since the West imposed ban on Iran was lifted.
- Chabahar port will ensure in the establishment of a politically sustainable connectivity between India and Afghanistan. This is will, in turn, lead to better economic ties between the two countries.
- The use of Chabahar port is seen as a major boost to India’s efforts to connect with Central Asia and Russia, and it could facilitate Indian imports of iron ore, sugar and rice as well as crude oil from Iran.
- From a diplomatic perspective, Chabahar port could be used as a point from where humanitarian operations could be coordinated.
- The Zaranj-Delaram road constructed by India in 2009 can give access to Afghanistan’s Garland Highway, setting up road access to four major cities in Afghanistan – Herat, Kandahar, Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif.
Key Facts for Prelims
Russia To Help India Set Up National Crisis Management Centre
- Russia has agreed to assist India to set up National Crisis Management Centre (NCMC) in the country to handle disaster and other emergency situations.
- This was agreed during a meeting between Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Russian Minister for Emergency Situations Vladimir Puchkov in Moscow.
Third ‘Distinguished Indologist’ award
President Ram Nath Kovind conferred the third Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) distinguished Indologist Award on Professor Hiroshi Marui of Japan.
Contributions of Hiroshi Marui:
- Professor Hiroshi Marui has spent over 40 years working on Indian philosophy and Buddhist Studies.
- His many acclaimed publications and research papers are considered final authority on several subjects the world over.
- Marui has made significant contribution to propagate Indology amongst the youth in Japan.
About the award:
- The annual ‘Distinguished Indologist’ Award has been instituted by ICCR to recognize eminent Indologists working abroad who have made outstanding contribution to the study/teaching/research of India’s philosophy, thought, history, art, culture, languages, literature, civilization, society etc.
- The Award amount is US$ 20000/-.
- The first ‘Distinguished Indologist’ Award was presented to Prof. Heinrich Freiherr Von Stietencron of Germany in 2015.
- Yu Long Yu of China was awarded in 2016.