Polity & Governance
- ‘Skill councils have conflict of interests’
- Start-up firms may get idle land from PSUs
Bilateral & International Relations
- Expedite work on Kishanganga Project: PMO directs power ministry and J&K government
- Cabinet approves cooperation between Indian and Japan on Railway Safety
Science & Technology
- Large Hadron Collider restarts for 2017 run
Key Facts for Prelims
- Vidya-Veerta Abhiyan
- “Southern Sojourn” and “Southern Jewels”
- ‘Second-tallest’ flag post comes up in Kolhapur
- P. shifts fiscal year
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Polity & Governance
‘Skill councils have conflict of interests’
The Government may soon review the public report of Sharda Prasad committee, that suggested the challenges in vocational education and training system of the country and convergence, synergy and rationalization of sector skill councils (SSCs).
- The committee has advised the skill development ministry to drastically reduce the number SSCs from 40 to around 20 by merging identical sector councils and curtail their powers of assessment of skill training centers.
- It is because these SSCs are overlapping in nature, and were unnecessarily floated without giving proper thought, making it difficult to manage a large number of them.
What are SSCs?
- Sector Skill Councils are set up as autonomous industry-led bodies by National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC).
- They create Occupational Standards and Qualification bodies, develop competency framework, conduct Train the Trainer Programs, conduct skill gap studies and Assess and Certify trainees on the curriculum aligned to National Occupational Standards developed by them.
- Till date, the NSDC Board has approved proposals for 38 Sector Skill Councils. There are approximately 450 Corporate Representatives in the Governing Councils of these SSCs.
Start-up firms may get idle land from PSUs
The Heavy Industries Ministry is deliberating on a proposal to use large tract of unutilised land owned by central public sector companies, which government plans to divest or sell, as ready-to-move-in industrial space for start-up companies.
What’s the idea?
- The idea is to “create a landscape for ready-to-move-in businesses” so that start-up companies do not have to face hurdles for setting up business and they can start work “immediately on the business opportunity without lag.
How will this help start-ups?
- Various companies under the government of India are sitting over huge tracts of land. Instead of transferring land to other public sector units and state governments, it could be utilised to create industrial space for start-up companies.
- These lands will be readily available to companies looking to set up quickly. Land acquisition is one of the biggest problems for the enterprises.
Bilateral & International Relations
Expedite work on Kishanganga Project: PMO directs power ministry and J&K government
Notwithstanding Pakistan’s challenge to Jammu and Kashmir’s 330 mw Kishanganga hydro-electric project, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has directed the power ministry and the J&K government to expedite work on the two major Kishanganga transmission lines that are to be commissioned along with the first unit of the crucial project.
- Two transmission lines — the Kishanganga-Amargarh and the Amargarh-Wagoora lines — are to be commissioned by the power ministry.
Dispute over Kishanganga project:
- Pakistan has been consistently objecting to the Kishanganga hydro-electric project which is to be completed by India in three units of 110MW each, the first of which is set to be commissioned in the coming months.
- Last month, India had put on hold a World Bank-facilitated initiative for water secretary-level talks with Pakistan in Washington, owing to differences of opinion on technical issues on the Indus river hydro-projects like Kishanganga.
- In January, Pakistan had reportedly asked India to suspend the ongoing construction of the Kishanganga project and asked the World Bank to set up a court of arbitration to mediate the dispute over the Indus Waters Treaty between India and Pakistan.
About Kishanganga Hydroelectric Plant:
- The Kishanganga Hydroelectric Plant is an $864 million dam which is part of a run-of-the-river hydroelectric scheme that is designed to divert water from the Kishanganga River to a power plant in the Jhelum River basin.
- It is located 5 km north of Bandipore in Jammu and Kashmir, India and will have an installed capacity of 330 MW.
- Construction on the project began in 2007 and is expected to be complete in 2016.
- Construction on the dam was temporarily halted by the Hague’s Permanent Court of Arbitration in October 2011 due to Pakistan’s protest of its effect on the flow of the Kishanganga River (called the Neelum River in Pakistan).
- In February 2013, the Hague ruled that India could divert a minimum amount of water for power generation.
Cabinet approves cooperation between Indian and Japan on Railway Safety
The Union Cabinet, presided by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave its ex-post facto approval to the signing the Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) with Japan on Railway Safety.
- The MoC was signed in February 2017.
- The MoC also provide a platform for Indian Railways to interact and share the latest development and knowledge in the railway sector.
Key highlights of the MoC:
- Track Safety
- Latest technology related to railway track safety
- Rolling stock safety
- Any other relevant railway safety matter jointly determined by both the sides within the scope of the MoC with consideration for major railway accident preventions based on the analysis of accident causes.
Cooperation under the MoC will involve:
- Dispatch of experts
- Training of core staff in Japan
- Sharing of information and best practices
- Facilitating the participation of other institutions, organization and ministries, including contribution of National Traffic Safety and Environmental Laboratory of Japan to Research Design and Standards Organisation, Ministry of Railway, Government of India (RDSO), subject to their respective national laws and regulations where appropriate and possible.
Science & Technology
Large Hadron Collider restarts for 2017 run
The world’s largest and most powerful particle smasher Large Hadron Collider (LHC) has restarted circulating beams of protons for the first time this year, following a 17-week-long extended technical stop.
- Each year, the machines shut down over the winter break to enable technicians and engineers to perform essential repairs and upgrades, but this year the stop was scheduled to run longer, allowing more complex work to take place.
- Work this year included the replacement of a superconducting magnet in the LHC, the installation of a new beam dump in the Super Proton Synchrotron (SPS) and a massive cable removal campaign.
- Among other things, these upgrades will allow the collider to reach a higher integrated luminosity — the higher the luminosity, the more data the experiments can gather to allow them to observe rare processes.
About Large Hadron Collider:
The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the world’s largest and most powerful particle collider, most complex experimental facility ever built, and the largest single machine in the world.
- It was built by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) between 1998 and 2008 in collaboration with over 10,000 scientists and engineers from over 100 countries, as well as hundreds of universities and laboratories.
- The LHC is based at the European particle physics laboratory CERN, near Geneva in Switzerland.
- The aim of the LHC is to allow physicists to test the predictions of different theories of particle physics, including measuring the properties of the Higgs boson and searching for the large family of new particles predicted by supersymmetric theories, as well as other unsolved questions of physics.
- The collider has four crossing points, around which are positioned seven detectors, each designed for certain kinds of research.
- The LHC’s computing grid is a world record holder.
Key Facts for Prelims
- The Ministry of HRD has launched “Vidya, Veerta Abhiyan” to encourage varsities to display portraits of Param Veer Chakra-decorated soldiers.
- Universities and educational institutions across country will soon have a “wall of heroes”, depicting portraits of soldiers who showed extraordinary courage in defending the nation.
- The idea of having a wall of martyrs in universities was first proposed by a group of ex-servicemen who said portraits of martyrs and tanks used in wars should be put on display in the campus to instill sense of “nationalism” and “patriotism” among the students.
“Southern Sojourn” and “Southern Jewels”
- The Indian Railway PSU, Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Ltd (IRCTC) has decided to start two new circuits of their flagship luxury train Maharajas’ Express, this year.
- These two new trips have been named as “Southern Sojourn” and “Southern Jewels” which will cover prominent destinations in West and South India.
- The Southern Sojourn will cover Goa, Hampi, Mysore, Ernakulam, Kumarakom and Trivandrum.
- The Southern Jewels will cover Chettinad, Mahabalipuram, Mysore, Hampi and Goa.
‘Second-tallest’ flag post comes up in Kolhapur
- 300-foot flag post, said to be the country’s second-tallest, was recently inaugurated at Kolhapur in western Maharashtra.
- Kolhapur Street Beautification Project (KSBP), a trust, has installed this flag post.
- The 360-foot flag post inaugurated on March 6 at Attari on Indo-Pak border is said to be the tallest in the country.
M.P. shifts fiscal year
- Madhya Pradesh will be the first State to switch to the January-December financial year from the present April-March cycle.
- The change will mean the financial year will coincide with the calendar year.
- Reports suggest that any change or shift of the financial year will require amendments to different statues and tax law during the transition period, like tax assessment year, changes in infrastructure and more.
- The move is based on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s idea of shifting the financial year to January-December from the existing April-March period.
- The idea was put forward by the Prime Minister during the NITI Aayog’s governing council meet in Delhi on 23 April 2017.