Polity & Governance
- Plenary of the North Eastern Council
- SEBI targets participatory note norms
- IWAI holds Road Show in Guwahati
Bilateral & International Relations
- 29th May: International Day of UN Peacekeepers
- India and Fiji Inks Agreement on Defence Cooperation
Defence & Security Issues
- More Akash systems for Army
Key Facts for Prelims
- Dailong village in Manipur declared Biodiversity Heritage Site
- Cyclone Mora
- Aeronautical Test Range (ATR) of DRDO
- A fish that can father a near clone of itself
- UGC App to fight ragging
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Polity & Governance
Plenary of the North Eastern Council
Plenary of the North Eastern Council was recently held under the chairmanship of Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) Dr. Jitendra Singh.
About North Eastern Council:
In 1971, the Indian Central government set up the North Eastern Council by an Act of Parliament.
- The eight States of North East India viz. Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim, are members of the council, with their respective Chief Ministers and Governors representing them.
- Sikkim was added to the council in the year 2002.
- The headquarters of the council is situated in Shillong.
- It functions under the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region of the (Government of India).
- The Council is an advisory body and may discuss any matter in which the North Eastern States have a common interest and advise the Central Government as to the action to be taken on any such matter.
- This was done so as to take care of the economic and social planning of these states, as well as to provide mediation in the event of inter-State disputes.
SEBI targets participatory note norms
The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) proposed tighter regulations for participatory notes (p-notes), that are open to abuse as they hide the identity of the real investor.
- SEBI has proposed a regulatory fee of $1,000 valid for three years on a foreign portfolio investor (FPI) for every subscriber to its overseas derivative instrument. The fees were aimed at encouraging registration of FPIs.
- It also barred the use of such instrument for speculative purposes.
- It has also proposed to prohibit ODIs from being issued against derivatives for speculative purposes. Currently, ODIs are issued against derivatives along with equity and debt.
- A large number of investors also deal in both cash and derivatives, but don’t use derivatives for hedging purpose.
- According to experts, the ban on derivative trades without underlying equity could impact nearly a third of ODI subscribers, who currently deal only in derivatives.
- According to experts, the average ticket size of a p-note investor is around $20-25 million and there are about 1,500 ODI subscribers. The regulatory fee could make p-notes costly for this class of investors.
What are P-notes?
P-notes, or Off-shore Derivatives Instruments (ODIs), allow foreign investors to take exposure to Indian stocks without registering with SEBI.
- These instruments are issued by foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) registered with SEBI.
- They allow foreign investors to buy stocks listed on Indian exchanges without being registered.
- The instrument gained popularity as FIIs, to avoid the formalities of registering and to remain anonymous, started betting on stocks through this route.
- Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Credit Suisse are among the biggest P-note issuers on the Indian market.
What are govt & regulator’s concerns?
- The primary reason why P-Notes are worrying is because of the anonymous nature of the instrument as these investors could be beyond the reach of Indian regulators.
- Further, there is a view that it is being used in money laundering with wealthy Indians, like the promoters of companies, using it to bring back unaccounted funds and to manipulate their stock prices.
IWAI holds Road Show in Guwahati
The Inland Waterways Authority of India recently organized a road show in association with the Ministry Of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) in Guwahati.
- The objective of the road show is to brainstorm on the major issues linked with developing the rivers of the North East as viable and sustainable means for cargo and passenger transportation.
Proposed NE waterways:
Of the 106 new National Waterways that were notified in April 2016 under the National Waterways Act, 2016, 19 are in the North East.
- These among others include NW- 16 (river Barak), NW- 95 (river Subansiri), NW- 39 (river Ganol), NW- 93 (river Simsang), NW- 101 (river Tizu and Zungki), NW- 31 (Dhansiri), NW- 62 (river Lohit), NW- 106 (river Umngot), NW- 18 (river Beki).
- The Government of India is making constant endeavours to promote waterways as a more cost effective, economically viable and environment friendly mode of transport in the country. In this context, a lot of work has already been carried out to develop IWT in the North East Region.
- Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) is the statutory body in charge of the waterways in India.
- Its headquarters is located in Noida, UP.
- Its main function is to build the necessary required infrastructure in these waterways, surveying the economic feasibility of new projects and also administration and regulation.
Bilateral & International Relations
29th May: International Day of UN Peacekeepers
The International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers 2017 was observed on 29 May 2017 with the theme “Investing in Peace around the world”.
- The Day offers a chance to pay tribute to the uniformed and civilians personnel’s invaluable contribution to the work of the Organization.
- The Day also honours more than 3500 peacekeepers who have lost their lives serving under the UN flag since 1948, including 117 in the year 2016.
- The International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers was so designated by United Nations General Assembly Resolution, on 11 December 2002. The day was first celebrated in 2003.
About UN Peacekeeping:
United Nations Peacekeeping was created in 1948.
- Its first mission involved the establishment of the UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), which served to observe and maintain ceasefire during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.
- UN Peacekeeping maintains three basic principles:
- Consent of the parties,
- Impartiality and non-use of Force except in self-defence and
- Defence of the mandate.
- The UN Peacekeepers are led by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DKPO).
- There are currently 17 UN peace operations deployed on four continents.
- UN Peacekeepers are from diverse backgrounds, from areas all around the world. They include police, military and civilian personnel. They are often referred to as Blue Berets or Blue Helmets because of their light blue berets or helmets.
- The UN Peacekeeping Force won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1988.
- The United Nations Charter gives the United Nations Security Council the power and responsibility to take collective action to maintain international peace and security. For this reason, the international community usually looks to the Security Council to authorize peacekeeping operations.
India and Fiji Inks Agreement on Defence Cooperation
- India has inked Memorandum of Understanding on defence cooperation with Fiji.
- MoU on defence cooperation envisaging several areas of cooperation including in defence industry, military training and humanitarian assistance & disaster management was signed.
- Earlier this month, the Union Cabinet had approved MoU between India and Australia on cooperation in combating International Terrorism and Transnational Organised Crime.
Defence & Security Issues
More Akash systems for Army
The Defence Ministry has decided to cancel the Army’s global contest for Short Range Surface to Air Missile (SR-SAM) systems and instead procure two additional regiments of the indigenously developed Akash missile systems.
- The decision was taken at a recently held meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) chaired by Defence Minister Arun Jaitley.
About Akash Missile:
The Akash missile is India’s first indigenously designed, developed and produced air defence surface-to-air missile system.
- Akash is a supersonic short range surface-to-air missile capable of neutralising aerial threats.
- The asset of this missile system is its capability to neutralise multiple aerial targets coming from different directions at the same time.
- The maximum range of this missile is 25 kilometres and can neutralise targets at a maximum altitude of 20 kilometres. It is meant for neutralising medium range air targets flying at low or medium height.
- An Akash missile regiment has six launchers with three missiles each.
- This defence system consists of surveillance and tracking radars, control centres and ground support systems.
- This all-weather missile system can work from both static and mobile platforms.
- Akash is a result of 96% indigenisation, with the design being developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation and built by Bharat Dynamics Limited along with the involvement of Bharat Electronics Limited.
Key Facts for Prelims
Dailong village in Manipur declared Biodiversity Heritage Site
- The Manipur government has declared Dailong village of Tamenglong district as a Biodiversity Heritage Site of the state.
- Dialong village, covering an area of 11.35 sq km, has been declared as Biodiversity Heritage Site under Section 37(1) of Biological Diversity Act, 2002.
- The declaration was made after the recommendation of Manipur Biodiversity Board.
- A deep depression in the Bay of Bengal has been declared intensified into a tropical cyclone named Mora.
- This is second cyclone in the Bay of Bengal after Maarutha, which helped bring in the Monsoon earlier by a week over Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
- The tropical Cyclone Mora is likely to hit Bangladesh coast in next 24 hours and expected to cause heavy rains in West Bengal and North East Indian states.
- It may also help to pull monsoon faster over mainland.
Aeronautical Test Range (ATR) of DRDO
- Defence Minister Arun Jaitley has inaugurated the newly built Aeronautical Test Range (ATR) of the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) at Chitradurga in Karnataka.
- Aeronautical Test Range (ATR) is the first of its kind range that has been set up by the Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE), one of the premier laboratories of the DRDO.
- ADE works on a range of UAVs (unmanned air vehicles).
- It is aimed at creating conditions for research, which will in turn develop the type of human resource in the country required in the field of aeronautical testing.
- The range will cater to the needs of DRDO for testing of indigenously developed aeronautical systems.
- The ATR is the first of its kind range in the country exclusively meant to conduct flight-tests of indigenous unmanned and manned aircrafts, developed by the DRDO.
A fish that can father a near clone of itself
- Scientists have discovered a fish carrying genes only from its father in the nucleus of its cells.
- This is the first documented instance in vertebrates of a father producing a near clone of itself through sexual reproduction — a rare phenomenon called androgenesis.
- These genes are found in a type of fish called Squalius alburnoides. They are thought to have arisen from hybridisation between females of one species, Squalius pyrenaicus, and males of another species, now extinct, that belonged to a group of fish called Anaecypris.
- To sustain its population, Squalius alburnoides mates with several other closely related species belonging to the Squalius lineage.
- These fishes normally inhabits rivers in Portugal or Spain.
UGC App to fight ragging
- Human Resources Development Minister Prakash Javadekar has launched an Anti-Ragging Mobile App of the University Grants Commission (UGC) to help students register complaints against the menace of ragging in the country.
- Previously, students were required to visit the website to register a complaint against ragging.
- The new app will facilitate students to register a complaint against ragging instantaneously.
- The complaint will be sent to the concerned authorities for timely action and the action will be initiated immediately.
- As the records indicate that timely action had resulted in the decrease of ragging instances in campuses. This app is aimed at giving a feel of security to students.