Polity & Governance
- Centre is set to revive NATGRID, looking for CEO
- Cabinet approves Amended Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme for Textiles industry
Environment & Ecology
- MoU on the Conservation of Migratory Birds of Prey in Africa and Eurasia
- Cabinet approves construction of 69 bridges on Trilateral Highway in Myanmar
Science & Technology
- National Biotechnology Development Strategy 2015-2020 unveiled
- Navy successfully tests Barak 8 missile
Polity & Governance
Centre is set to revive NATGRID, looking for CEO
The Union government is set to make an aggressive effort to revive one of the most ambitious intelligence projects namely National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID).
Why it is in news?
- Recently, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) issued a circular to fill the post of CEO of NATGRID. The circular calls for applicants with a Masters in Electronics, IT or equivalent with an experience of working in the IT-related field for 25 years. Both serving as well as retired government officials can apply.
- The circular also says that if a private person is hired, his/her salary would be Rs. 10 lakh a month and if it’s a government servant, it will be his last drawn salary or the present salary.
- Multiple sources say the government will appoint a senior serving government official, in all likelihood one with an intelligence background, to head NATGRID, with a mandate to operationalise it as a federal counter-terrorism centre.
What is National Intelligence Grid or NATGRID?
- Conceived in the wake of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, the National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) is a centralised agency which stores sensitive personal information on citizens from almost two dozen agencies to be made available for counter-terror investigations.
- It is a counter terrorism measure that collects and collates a host of information from government databases including tax and bank account details, credit card transactions, visa and immigration records and itineraries of rail and air travel.
- The grid will provide an intelligence database that would have networked 21 sets of data sources to provide quick and secure access of information to about 10 intelligence and law-enforcement agencies including the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and R&AW.
In what ways it is different from NIA and NCTC:
The National Investigating Agency and the National Counter Terrorism Centre are two organisations established in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks of 2008.
- Unlike the NCTC and the NIA which are central organisations, the NATGRID is essentially a tool that enables security agencies to locate and obtain relevant information on terror suspects from pooled data of various organisations and services in the country.
- It will help identify, capture and prosecute terrorists and help pre-empt terrorist plots.
Criticisms of NATGRID:
- NATGRID faced opposition on charges of possible violations of privacy and leakage of confidential personal information.
- Its efficacy in preventing terror has also been questioned given that no state agency or police force has access to its database thus reducing chances of immediate, effective action.
- NATGRID claims to be protected by several structural and procedural safeguards and oversight mechanisms including that of external audits and technology safeguards.
[Courtesy: Hindu, Wiki]
Cabinet approves Amended Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme for Textiles industry
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the introduction of “Amended Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme (ATUFS)” in place of the existing Revised Restructured Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme (RR-TUFS),for technology upgradation of the textiles industry.
- The new scheme does not cover the spinning sector as there is excess capacity now.
The new scheme specifically targets:
- Employment generation and export by encouraging apparel and garment industry, which will provide employment to women in particular and increase India’s share in global exports.
- Promotion of Technical Textiles, a sunrise sector, for export and employment
- Promoting conversion of existing looms to better technology looms for improvement in quality and productivity
- Encouraging better quality in processing industry and checking need for import of fabrics by the garment sector.
Two broad categories under the new scheme:
- Apparel, Garment and Technical Textiles, where 15 percent subsidy would be provided on capital investment, subject to a ceiling of 30 crore rupees for entrepreneurs over a period of five years.
- Remaining sub-sectors would be eligible for subsidy at a rate of 10 percent, subject to a ceiling of Rs.20 crore on similar lines.
- The ATUFS is expected to attract Rs. 1 lakh crore investments in the next seven years (till 2021-2022).
- The ATUFS would ease the financial position for the industry and encourage investments.
- With the announcement of capital subsidy instead of the existing combination of interest subsidy and capital subsidy, the industry will get the assistance on time.
- The scheme will trigger growth and exports for the textile industry and it will aid the ‘Make in India’ initiative.
- The Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme for the textile industry was introduced in 1999 and Rs.21,347 crore has been provided as assistance between 1999 and 2015.
- A sum of Rs. 21,347 crore has been provided as assistance to the industry during 1999 – 2015. It has led to investments worth Rs. 2,71,480 crore, and created job opportunities for nearly 48 lakh people.
The scheme was earlier amended for continuation during the 12th Plan.
Environment & Ecology
MoU on the Conservation of Migratory Birds of Prey in Africa and Eurasia
The Union Cabinet has given its approval to sign Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) on the Conservation of Migratory Birds of Prey in Africa and Eurasia, also called the ‘Raptor MOU’ with the Convention on Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS).
- With the signing of this MOU, India will become the 54th signatory to the MOU.
About Raptor MoU:
- The Raptor MOU is an agreement under the Convention on Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS) came into effect on 1st November 2008.
- The Raptor MOU is an agreement under Article IV paragraph 4 of the CMS and is not legally binding.
- The MOU seeks willingness of the signatory Range States for working for conservation of the raptor species and their habitats.
- The Raptors MoU extends its coverage to 76 species of birds of prey out of which 46 species including vultures, falcons, eagles, owls, hawks, kites, harriers, etc. also occur in India.
- India’s neighbours- Pakistan and Nepal are also signatories to this MOU.
Advantages to India from Raptor MoU:
- The Raptor MOU is in conformity with the provisions of the India’s existing Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, wherein the birds have been accorded protection.
- From this MoU, India would gain domain knowledge which would be helpful in effectively managing the habitats of these Raptors, including concerted trans-boundary efforts for conservation through interaction with other range countries by signing of the MOU with the CMS.
About Convention of Migratory Species (CMS):
- The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals – more commonly abbreviated to just the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) or the Bonn Convention-aims to conserve terrestrial, marine and avian migratory species throughout their range.
- It is an intergovernmental treaty, concluded under the aegis of the United Nations Environment Programme, concerned with the conservation of wildlife and habitats on a global scale.
- Since the Convention’s entry into force, its membership has grown steadily to include over 100 Parties from Africa, Central and South America, Asia, Europe and Oceania.
- The Convention was signed in 1979 in Bad Godesberg, a suburb of Bonn (hence the name) in Germany, and entered into force in 1983.
- The CMS is the only global and UN-based intergovernmental organization established exclusively for the conservation and management of terrestrial, aquatic and avian migratory species throughout their range.
- India had become a party to the CMS since 1st November 1983.
[Courtesy: PIB, Wiki]
Cabinet approves construction of 69 bridges on Trilateral Highway in Myanmar
The Union Cabinet has approved the construction of 69 Bridges including Approach Roads on the Tamu-Kyigone-Kalewa (TKK) road section of the Trilateral Highway in Myanmar at a cost of Rs 371.58 crore.
- The project will be implemented in Engineering Procuring and Construction (EPC) mode through Project Management Consultant (PMC).
- The project is envisaged to be completed by mid-2019.
- During the visit of Prime Minister to Myanmar in the year 2012, it was agreed, at the request of Government of Myanmar, to undertake construction of 71 bridges in the Tamu – Kyigone – Kalewa (TKK) road section of the Trilateral Highway.
- The Government of Myanmar has started work on constructing two bridges, on its own, as these bridges needed urgent attention.
- As a result, construction of the balance 69 bridges will be undertaken under Government of India’s assistance.
Significance of the Project:
- This will impart all weather usability to the TKK road section, which is also part of the route for the proposed Imphal-Mandalay bus service.
- It will improve connectivity between India and Myanmar and facilitate movement of goods and traffic.
What is EPC?
- EPC stands for Engineering, Procurement, and Construction and is a prominent form of contracting agreement in the construction industry.
- The engineering and construction contractor will carry out the detailed engineering design of the project, procure all the equipment and materials necessary, and then construct to deliver a functioning facility or asset to their clients.
- Companies that deliver EPC Projects are commonly referred to as EPC Contractors.
Science & Technology
National Biotechnology Development Strategy 2015-2020 unveiled
The Union government has unveiled the National Biotechnology Development Strategy, 2015-20 to establish India as a world-class bio-manufacturing hub.
- The NBDS is the result of consultations over the past two years with more than 300 stakeholders, including scientists, educators, policy-makers, industry, voluntary and non-governmental organisations, regulators and international experts.
- The NBDS, by 2020, expects to launch four missions in healthcare, food and nutrition, clean energy and education; create a technology development and translation network across India with global partnership, including five new clusters, 40 biotech incubators, 150 technical transfer organisations and 20 bio-connect centres.
Prospects of biotechnology sector in India:
- The Department of Biotechnology, by harnessing the power of Big Data and promoting the manufacturing of laboratory equipment, expects biotechnology to be at the foundation of a $100-billion industry by 2025, rising from the current $7-$10 billion.
- The government expects this growth to be largely led by industry and it will play the role of facilitator, in terms of attracting quality manpower and putting in place competent regulatory processes.
What is Big Data?
Big data is a term that describes a massive volume of both structured and unstructured data that is so large it is difficult to process using traditional database and software techniques.
- The term big data, especially when used by vendors, may refer to the technology (which includes tools and processes) that an organization requires handling the large amounts of data and storage facilities.
- In most enterprise scenarios, the volume of data is too big or it moves too fast or it exceeds current processing capacity. Despite these problems, big data has the potential to help companies improve operations and make faster, more intelligent decisions.
- Banking and retail have been early adopters of Big Data-based strategies. Increasingly, other industries are utilizing Big Data like that from sensors embedded in their products to determine how they are actually used in the real world.
- In healthcare, clinical data can be reviewed treatment decisions based on big data algorithms that work on aggregate individual data sets to detect nuances in subpopulations that are so rare that they are not readily apparent in small samples.
[Courtesy: Hindu, Wiki]
Navy successfully tests Barak 8 missile
Indian Navy has successfully test-fired a long range surface-to-air missile (LR SAM) jointly developed with Israel from its warship in its maiden attempt joining a select group of countries which has such an anti-air warfare capability for their navies.
- In a quantum jump for the country’s air defence prowess, the Barak 8 missile fired by the Indian Navy from its warship INS Kolkata on the Western Seaboard successfully intercepted an aerial target at extended ranges.
- The missile has a range of nearly 70 km.
- Only a small club of countries including the US, France, Britain and Israel possess such a capability.
- Barak-8 is designed to defend naval vessels against incoming missiles, planes and drones.
- Apart from the missile, the system includes a Multi Functional Surveillance and Threat Alert Radar (MF STAR) for detection, tracking and guidance of the missile.
- The firing trial of the LR-SAM has been jointly carried out by the Indian Navy, DRDO and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).
- Israel made MF-STAR radar system is capable of simultaneously tracking hundreds of airborne targets to a range of more than 250 KM.
- DRDL, Hyderabad, a DRDO Lab, has jointly developed this missile in collaboration with Israel Aerospace Industries. The LR-SAM has been manufactured by M/s Bharat Dynamics Limited.
- The missile along with the MF STAR would provide these ships the capability to neutralise aerial threats at extended ranges.