Polity & Governance
- Cabinet approves extension of implementation of CCTNS Project by one year
- Cabinet approves closure of Mahatma Gandhi Pravasi Suraksha Yojana
- Rail regulator gets green light
Issues related to Health & Education
- India ranks 3rd in WADA doping charts
Environment & Ecology
- Mexico to put endangered vaquita porpoises in refuge
Bilateral & International Relations
- Cabinet approves MoU between India and Bangladesh for fairway development
- Cabinet approves agreement on Audio Visual Co-Production between India and Bangladesh
- Union Cabinet approves MoU between India and Australia in field of Health and Medicine
- India and the UK announce joint UK-India Fund
- Cabinet approves Collaboration Agreement to support the Belmont Forum Secretariat
- MoU between India and Bangladesh on passenger cruise services
- MoU between India and Bangladesh in the field of judicial sector cooperation
- Air Services Agreement between India and Georgia
Key Facts for Prelims
- Geotagging of assets created under RKVY
- National Maritime Day
- MP e-nagarpalika mobile app
- 2017 National conference on Communicating India
Polity & Governance
Cabinet approves extension of implementation of CCTNS Project by one year
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved the proposal of the Ministry of Home Affairs for extension of the implementation phase of the Crime and Criminals Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS) Project for another year beyond 31st March 2017.
- The extension would help in achieving the remaining objectives of the project comprehensively.
Impact of the CCTNS Project will lead to:
- Citizen portals in all states and Centre that will facilitate transparency and speed in police service delivery, online registration of complaints and reporting and search of missing persons and stolen goods in self-service mode.
- Pan-India search on complete National Crime and Criminal database that is accessible to the Investigating Officers throughout the country.
- Search facility will be available to Police in regional languages for improved inter-state tracking of criminal movement.
- Reliable network connectivity to all Police Stations in the country.
- National level crime analytics that will be published at, increased frequency to help policy and law makers in taking data backed timely actions and in making appropriate policy interventions.
- Integration with various e-Governance projects such as Aadhaar, National Population Register, Vaahan Project of the Ministry of Surface Transport, Passport Seva and National Emergency Response System Project thus increasing the synergies and benefit accrued from these individual systems. It will expedite various kinds of police verification requests and investigation.
- Advanced features such as biometric based identification, trend and pattern analytics etc. that will be incorporated to enhance hi-tech investigation capability.
What is CCTNS project?
- Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS) is a Mission Mode Project (MMP) under the National e-Governance Plan of Govt. of India.
- CCTNS is a project initiated in June 2009 which aims at creating a comprehensive and integrated system for enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of policing at the Police Station level.
- This will be done through adoption of principles of e-Governance, and creation of a nationwide networked infrastructure for evolution of IT-enabled state-of-the-art tracking system around “investigation of crime and detection of criminals”.
- The Project will interconnect about 15000 Police Stations and additional 5000 offices of supervisory police officers across the country and digitize data related to FIR registration, investigation and charge sheets in all Police Stations.
- It will not only automate Police functions at Police station and higher levels but will also create facilities and mechanism to provide public services like registration of online complaints, ascertaining the status of case registered at the police station, verification of persons etc.
- In 2015, an additional objective of establishing a basic platform for an Inter-operable Criminal Justice System (ICJS) was added to the Project.
- The Full implementation of the Project with all the new components would lead to a Central citizen portal having linkages with State level citizen portals that will provide a number of citizen friendly services like Police Verification for various purposes including passport verification, reporting a crime including cyber-crime and online tracking of the case progress etc.
- The project will enable National level crime analytics to be published at increased frequency, which will help the policy makers as well as lawmakers in taking appropriate and timely action, it will also enable Pan-India criminal/accused name search in the regional language for improved inter-state tracking of criminal movement.
- This would lead to development of a national database of crimes and criminals.
Cabinet approves closure of Mahatma Gandhi Pravasi Suraksha Yojana
The Union Cabinet has approved closure of the Mahatma Gandhi Pravasi Suraksha Yojana (MGPSY) which was set up in 2012 to address the social security-related issues of the Emigration Check Required (ECR)-category workers going abroad for employment to ECR countries.
Reason for closure:
- The subscription under the MGPSY was very low and no new subscription was received for more than a year.
- Closure of the scheme will, therefore, obviate the avoidable recurring administrative and record-keeping expenditure.
About the scheme:
- Mahatma Gandhi Pravasi Suraksha Yojana is a special social security scheme which includes Pension and Life Insurance, introduced by Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs for the overseas Indian workers in possession of Emigration Check Required (ECR) passports.
- It is a voluntary scheme designed to help workers to meet their three financial needs:
- Saving for retirement,
- Saving for their return and resettlement, and
- Providing free life insurance offering coverage for death from natural causes.
Rail regulator gets green light
The Centre has cleared the decks for setting up an independent rail regulator, named Rail Development Authority (RDA).
- RDA will be based in Delhi with an initial corpus of Rs. 50 crore and will be set up through an executive order.
- The RDA will act within the parameters of the Railway Act, 1989 and only make recommendations to the Ministry which will take a final call on passenger and freight fares.
Functions of RDA:
- The Authority’s primary functions will be to recommend tariff “commensurate with costs,” frame principles for social service obligation, and ensure a level playing field for stakeholders by suggesting policies for private investment.
- It will also fix efficiency standards and resolve disputes related to future concession agreements.
- It will also collect, analyse and disseminate information and statistics concerning the rail sector.
Composition of RDA:
- The Authority will have a Chairman and three members with a fixed term of five years and will be allowed to engage experts from various fields. “The RDA will be an independent body with separate budget. The independence is ensured through separate budget, appointment and removal process,” the statement added.
- The Chairman and members of the Authority will be appointed by a Search and Selection Committee headed by the Cabinet Secretary with members including the Railway Board Chairman, Department of Personnel and Training Secretary and Chairman of any regulatory body of the Central Government nominated by the Cabinet Secretary.
Significance of this move:
- The move will improve the services offered to passengers, provide comfort to investors in the rail sector and will enhance transparency and accountability.
- Keeping rail fares within affordable limits has led to cross-subsidisation as the goods fares have increased considerably more than the passenger fares in the past. Now, the regulator should be the final authority in determining the fares instead of making recommendations.
The need for a regulator has been emphasised by various committees, including the Dr. Bibek Debroy Committee on Mobilisation of Resources for Major Railway Projects and Restructuring of Railway Ministry in 2015, the National Transport Development Policy Committee (NTDPC) in 2014 and Expert Group under the Chairmanship of Dr. Rakesh Mohan in 2001.
Problems with Indian Railways:
- At present, the rail tariffs were set by the Union government and were mostly based on political considerations especially in passenger segment.
- As per provisional estimate, Railways losses had touched over Rs 30,000 crore in 2015-16 in the passenger segment due to sharp increases in input costs and no proportionate increase in fares over the same period.
- Moreover, keeping rail fares within affordable limits has led to cross-subsidisation as the goods fares have increased considerably more than the passenger fares in the past.
- The fare structure had distorted in the Railways network as the passenger fares are subsidised by goods fares which has led to increase in the freight tariffs, resulting in diversion to road sector.
Issues related to Health & Education
India ranks 3rd in WADA doping charts
India was ranked third for the third year in a row in a doping violation report published by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) for 2015.
- In 2015, 117 Indian athletes were punished after testing positive for banned substances.
- India followed the Russian Federation (176) and Italy (129), the same position as in the reports of 2013 and 2014.
- The chart was prepared by WADA after compiling information of analytical findings and sanctions rendered till January 31, 2017 by various accredited anti-doping bodies.
- It was the first set of Anti-Doping Rule Violation statistics under the revised WADA Code and third such report in its history since 2013.
What is ADRV?
- ADRV is a doping offence committed by an athlete or athlete support person, resulting in certain consequences or sanctions. It is derived from adverse analytical findings (AAFs) (known as ‘positive’ results).
India related facts:
- The number of dope offenders from India has been increasing in the last three years. India had 91 and 96 Anti-doping Rule Violations (ADRVs) in 2013 and 2014 respectively.
- Of the 117 Indian offenders of 2015, two were non-analytical ADRVs case. Out of the remaining 115 analytical ADRVs, 78 are committed by male athletes and 37 were female.
- Among individual sports, weightlifting has reported highest positive doping tests with a whopping 56 Indian lifters (32 male and 24 female) punished for doping.
- Athletics contributed second highest number of dope offenders with 21 (14 male and 7 female), followed by boxing (8), wrestling (8), cycling (4), kabaddi (4), aquatics (3), powerlifting (3), Judo (2), wushu (2), rowing, hockey (1), football (1) , bodybuilding (1) and street and ball hockey (1).
About World Anti-Doping Agency:
- WADA is global Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) that aims at harmonizing anti-doping regulations in all sports and countries.
- It is collective initiative led by the International Olympic Committee.
- It was established in 1999 in Lausanne Switzerland under so called Declaration of Lausanne to coordinate, promote and monitor the fight against drugs in sports. Its headquarters is in Montreal, Canada.
Environment & Ecology
Mexico to put endangered vaquita porpoises in refuge
In a bid to save the world’s smallest species of porpoise from extinction, the Mexican government has announced plans to place some of them in a temporary refuge. The plan would be carried out with the help of international organisations.
- The plan is controversial with conservationists, some of whom say the vaquita is not an animal that can thrive in captivity.
What are Porpoises?
- Porpoises are among the smallest members of the cetacean family (whales, porpoises and dolphins).
- They are only distant relatives of dolphins (they last had a common ancestor roughly 15 million years ago).
- There are only seven species of porpoise; the most popular being the widely distributed harbour porpoise.
About Vaquita Marina porpoise:
- The vaquita is the world’s smallest cetacean. Its name means “little cow” in Spanish.
- A dark ring around the eyes is its most striking feature, along with a proportionally large dorsal fin.
- The vaquita is unique among the porpoises as it is the only species of that family found in warm waters, and the size of the dorsal fin is believed to be an adaptation to that, allowing for extra body heat to dissipate.
- Vaquita only live in the northern Gulf of California, the Sea of Cortez, Mexico.
- Like many other species of porpoise, vaquita tend to be shy and elusive, avoiding boats when approached. They are most commonly sighted in shallow waters up to 50 metres deep.
- It is classified as critically endangered by the IUCN.
Bilateral & International Relations
Cabinet approves MoU between India and Bangladesh for fairway development
The Union Cabinet has approved MoU between India and Bangladesh for fairway development of Ashuganj-Zakiganj stretch of Kushiyara river and Sirajganj-Daikhawa stretch of Jamuna river in the Indo-Bangladesh protocol route by undertaking necessary dredging jointly by the two countries.
Benefits of this MoU:
- The MoU will considerably reduce the logistics cost of cargo movement to North Eastern India. It will also reduce the congestion through the Siliguri Chicken’s Neck corridor.
About Kushiyara River:
- The Kushiyara River is a distributary river in Bangladesh and Assam, India.
- It forms on the India–Bangladesh border as a branch of the Barak River, when the Barak separates into the Kushiyara and Surma.
- The waters of the Kushiyara thus originate in the state of Nagaland in India and pick up tributaries from Manipur, Mizoram and Assam.
- The Kushiyara rejoins with the Surma at Markuli in Ajmiriganj upazila and flows south upto Bhairab Bazar receiving the name Kalni. The Kalni meets with the Dhanu, a branch of the Surma and renamed as the meghna.
About Jamuna River:
- The Jamuna River is the main distributary channel of the Brahmaputra River as it flows from India to Bangladesh.
- The Jamuna flows south and joins the Padma River, near Goalundo Ghat, before meeting the Meghna River near Chandpur.
- It then flows into the Bay of Bengal as the Meghna River.
Cabinet approves agreement on Audio Visual Co-Production between India and Bangladesh
The Union Cabinet has approved the agreement on Audio Visual Co-Production India and Bangladesh.
- So far, India has entered into audio-visual co-production agreements with Italy, Germany, United Kingdom, France, New Zealand, Brazil, Poland, Canada, Spain, China and the Republic of Korea.
Salient features of the Agreement:
- It will cover co-production of films, animations and documentary films.
- An audio-visual co-production made under it, will be entitled to all the benefits which may be accorded to any national audio-visual work by both countries in accordance with their respective laws and regulations.
- It will lead to exchange of art and culture among the two countries and create goodwill and better understanding among the peoples of both the countries.
- Facilitate utilization of Indian locales for shooting, thus raising the prospect of India as a preferred film shooting destination across the globe.
- Audio-visual Co-productions will provide an opportunity to create and showcase our soft power.
- It will lead to generation of employment among artistic, technical as well as non-technical personnel including post-production and its marketing, thus adding to the GDP of both the countries.
Union Cabinet approves MoU between India and Australia in field of Health and Medicine
The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the MoU between India and Australia on cooperation in the field of Health and Medicine.
- The MoU will involve cooperation through joint initiatives in the Health Sector and strengthen bilateral ties between India and Australia.
The main areas of cooperation include the following:
- Communicable diseases such as Malaria and TB;
- Mental Health and Non-Communicable Diseases;
- Anti-Microbial Resistance and responding to public health emergencies;
- Regulation of Pharmaceuticals,vaccines and medical devices;
- Digital Health;
- Tobacco Control; and
- Any other area of cooperation decided mutually between the two countries.
India and the UK announce joint UK-India Fund
India and the UK have announced the launch of an Early Market Engagement for the joint UK-India Fund, namely a Green Growth Equity Fund which aims to leverage private sector investment from the City of London to invest in green infrastructure projects in India.
- Both governments have reaffirmed their commitment to anchor invest up to £120 million each (i.e. totally £ 240 million) in the joint fund which will be established under the NIIF framework.
- To begin with, the fund aims to raise around £500 million, with the potential to unlock much more in future.
About Green Growth Equity Fund:
The Green Growth Equity Fund will be a sub-fund of National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF).
- The Green Growth Equity Fund, promoted jointly by India and the UK, aims to leverage private sector investment to finance investments in the green infrastructure space in India.
- The GoI (through NIIF) and the UK government have committed to anchor-invest up to £120 million each in the joint Fund which aims to raise around £500m, and has the potential to unlock much more in future.
- A secondary benefit will be to attract investors based in the City of London into the Fund and/or its investee companies.
- The Fund will invest in mid to large-sized companies in the green infrastructure space in India. It will pursue a strategy of acquiring a mix of minority and majority stakes (when it is essential to align interests and professionalize governance).
- GGEF would be managed by a third-party investment manager, selected by NIIF Limited and the UK government through an efficient and robust screening and selection process.
- At the same time, both partners will keep a watchful oversight on fund expenses and manager incentives, targeted to be kept at optimal levels to ensure best possible returns to investors.
Cabinet approves Collaboration Agreement to support the Belmont Forum Secretariat
The Union Cabinet has given its approval for signing of the Collaborative Agreement with French National Research Agency (ANR), France.
- The MoU will be signed for supporting the Belmont Forum Secretariat from January, 2015 to December, 2017 at a total estimated expenditure of 40,000 Euros.
- The Cabinet also approved continued financial support to Belmont Forum Secretariat beyond 2017.
About Belmont Forum:
- Belmont Forum is a high level group of the world’s major and emerging funders of global environmental change research and international science councils. It was established in 2009.
- It aims to accelerate delivery of the environmental research needed to remove critical barriers to sustainability by aligning and mobilizing international resources.
- It provides an opportunity to identify study and deliver international environmental research priorities through transnational research collaboration between natural and social scientists.
- Members include India, Australia, Brazil, Canada, European Commission, France, Germany, Japan, Netherland, South Africa, UK and US etc. India is represented by the Union Ministry of Earth Science (MoES) since 2012.
- It is hosted by one of the Belmont forum member on rotational basis. ANR, France is hosting the Secretariat from January, 2015 to December, 2017.
- Expenditure for hosting the Secretariat is borne by Belmont Forum member countries in kind or cash contribution.
Significance of the Agreement:
- The signing of the MoU will help to maintain a certain degree of continuity in the operations of the Belmont Forum and also help in smooth coordination of the activities of it.
- Indian scientific community will ultimately benefit from this agreement as India already is participating in four Collaborative Research Actions (CRAs) of the Forum.
MoU between India and Bangladesh on passenger cruise services
- The Union Cabinet has approved MoU on passenger cruise services on the coastal and protocol routes between India and Bangladesh.
- It will facilitate starting a regular movement of passengers and tourists in water crafts between the two countries.
- The MoU will promote people to people (P2P) contact and cooperation between the both countries in respect of economic, social and cultural advancement.
- It will also generate employment opportunities for the people of both neighbouring countries.
MoU between India and Bangladesh in the field of judicial sector cooperation
- The Union Cabinet has approved MoU between India and Bangladesh in the field of judicial sector cooperation.
- It aims at developing, promoting and strengthening mutual cooperation between judiciaries of the two countries.
- It will also facilitate promoting mutual interaction among judges and officials at various levels of judiciary through exchange visits, training and academic programmes.
- It will also encourage mutual exchange of information on latest developments in field of law and justice.
- It will enable exchange of knowledge in infrastructure and information technology (IT) in this field.
Air Services Agreement between India and Georgia
- The Union Cabinet has approved the signing of the Air Services Agreement (ASA) between India and Georgia.
- The Agreement is based on latest International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) template keeping in view of developments in Civil Aviation sector.
- Its objective is to improve the air connectivity between the two countries. Presently there is no ASA between both countries.
- ASA is the basic legal framework for any air operation between the two countries.
Key Facts for Prelims
Geotagging of assets created under RKVY
- The government has proposed to prepare inventory of the assets created in the last one decade (2007-2017) under RKVY through Geotagging technique.
- National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC), wing of Indian Space Research Organisation is providing technical support to RKVY division and has come up with a detailed procedure for the same.
- The institute is involved in preparation of the required app, imparting training to the states etc.
- The trained officers at the field level will take the photographs (with details of latitude, longtude, year of creation etc.) of the assets and upload on to the Bhuvan-RKVY platform of NRSC.
National Maritime Day
- 54th National Maritime Day was observed on April 5th.
- It was first celebrated on April 5, 1964.
- In India, April 5 is marked as the National Maritime Day commemorating the first voyage of the SS Loyalty, the first ship of Scindia Steam Navigation Company towards United Kingdom on this day in 1919.
MP e-nagarpalika mobile app
- Madhya Pradesh government has launched ‘MP e-nagarpalika’ mobile application to provide various municipal services online.
- The app will offer 378 services like online payment of property tax, birth/ marriage/death certificates, building permission etc.
- It will also register complaints related to water, garbage, streetlights etc. It also has online payment gateway.
- The mobile app was launched as part of Rs 225-crore ‘e-nagarpalika’ project, under which all municipal services will be made available online on a unified web platform.
2017 National conference on Communicating India
- The 2017 National conference on Communicating India was held in New Delhi.
- It was organized by the Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF) in collaboration with the India Media Centre, University of Westminster, London, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library and Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC) with the association of Prasar Bharati.
- The three main themes of the conference were ‘Telling India’s story to the world’, ‘Communicating via Journalism’ and ‘Dialogue with Diaspora’.