Polity & Governance
- Centre plans to set up Board of Internal Trade
- RBI’s move to ease definition of bank branches
- 250 agri markets integrated with online platform surpassing target: Minister
- Adoption of GST poised to boost India’s medium-term growth: IMF
Environment & Ecology
- Maharashtra has largest green building footprint
- President of India inaugurates first edition of World Sustainable Development Summit
Bilateral & International Relations
- India seeks greater pharma market access in Japan
Key Facts for Prelims
- Polythene Free Zones
- ‘Rani ki Vav’- Cleanest Iconic Place
- 2016 Nobel Peace Prize
- Sustainable Development Leadership Award
Polity & Governance
Centre plans to set up Board of Internal Trade
The Commerce and Industry Ministry is planning to set up a Board of Internal Trade to address all the issues pertaining to domestic trade.
- The board was initially proposed by the Confederation of All India Traders.
Why India need such board?
- In a large and diverse market like India, internal trade has several issues that will need special attention.
- The government, through such a Board, will benefit from getting alerts about the problems being faced by the domestic industry.
Who will monitor the board and Why?
- The board will be set up under a single ministry — the Commerce and Industry Ministry.
- This is necessary as currently internal trade comes under the ambit of multiple ministries leading to delays in addressing their issues.
RBI’s move to ease definition of bank branches
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Internal Working Group (IWG) on Rationalisation of Branch Authorisation Policy has proposed easing bank branch norms.
- It was chaired by Lily Vadera.
- It has proposed to relax norms that a bank branch has to follow, like a building, number of employees etc. to facilitate financial inclusion.
- Bank branches including those manned by business correspondents providing minimum 4 hours of service for 5 days a week, should be allowed to be treated as a full-service branch.
- Any other fixed point unit of the bank not complying with minimum working period should be considered a ‘part-time banking outlet’.
- A part-time banking outlet can be opened in any centre. It will be counted in for computing requirement of having 25% branches in rural areas.
- Redefined the un-banked rural centre (URC) as a rural (tier V and VI) centre that does not have a core banking solution-enabled ‘banking outlet.’
Implications if recommendations be accepted:
- The acceptance of recommendations will significantly help to reduce costs for a bank while for opening branches in un-banked rural centres.
- It will further help to enhance financial inclusion by taking idea of bank as an outlet that delivers basic banking services.
- Banks, even without traditional branches, can use technology to offer services in areas that so far had no access.
250 agri markets integrated with online platform surpassing target: Minister
The Centre has integrated 250 regulated agricultural markets across 10 States to the online trading platform for agriculture produce, e-NAM, surpassing the target of 200 set for the period.
- Commodities worth ₹421 crore have already been traded on the platform and more than 1,60,000 farmers and 46,888 traders have got themselves registered.
What was the target?
- The Agriculture Ministry had set a target of connecting all 585 mandis to the e-platform by March 2018.
National Agriculture Market (NAM) is a pan-India electronic trading portal which networks the existing APMC mandis to create a unified national market for agricultural commodities.
- This e-platform aims to provide more options to farmers to sell their produce and is part of implementation of the roadmap for doubling income of the farmers by 2022.
- National Agriculture Market (NAM) has been incorporated by the Department of Agriculture & Cooperation.
- About 69 agricultural and horticultural commodities, including fruits and vegetables are notified for trading on the e-NAM platform.
Adoption of GST poised to boost India’s medium-term growth: IMF
International Monetary Fund (IMF) has, in its latest Asia Pacific regional economic update, said the adoption of goods and services tax is poised to boost India’s medium-term growth.
IMF’s key observations:
- Over the medium term, a number of Asian economies stand to benefit from a demographic dividend, as the working-age population in some economies like India and Indonesia continues to grow, potentially helping sustain strong potential growth.
- In India, monsoon rainfall coming in at normal levels bodes well for agriculture and, along with a decennial rise in government employee salaries, will underpin the ongoing recovery in domestic demand.
- Further progress on reforms will boost sentiment, and the incipient recovery of private investment is expected to help broaden the sources of growth amid gradual fiscal consolidation and broadly neutral monetary policy.
- India’s growth has continued to benefit from the large improvement in the terms of trade, positive policy actions, including implementation of key structural reforms, gradual reduction of supply-side constraints, and a rebound in confidence.
- Consumption growth has remained strong and activity in core industrial sectors has picked up. Government consumption is set to continue to support growth in 2016.
Environment & Ecology
Maharashtra has largest green building footprint
As many as 1,124 green buildings from Maharashtra have been registered with the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC), taking the State to the top position in green building footprints in the country.
- The significant contribution by Maharashtra takes India’s registered green building footprint to 3.86 billion square feet, the second best globally after the United States.
- According to the recent data on state-wise green buildings released by IGBC, a part of CII, Maharashtra is followed by Tamil Nadu (355), Karnataka (354), Uttar Pradesh (351), Telangana (253), Delhi (197) and Haryana (194).
Significance of green building footprint for India:
- With the 3.86 billion square feet of green building footprint across the country, India has managed CO2 reduction by 50 million tons, ensured energy saving worth 50,000 GW per hour and water savings to 170 gigalitres.
IGBC has set an ambitious target to facilitate 10 billion sq. ft. of registered green building footprint by 2022.
- To realise its target of expanding green buildings footprints in India, IGBC, during the 14th edition of Green Building Congress 2016, will be adding six more rating systems which will have specific IGBC green building guidelines for every type of building, as well as infrastructure project in the country.
- These include IGBC EB rating, which facilitates conversion of existing building into green building.
- Presently, there are 14 IGBC green building rating systems.
About Indian Green Building Council:
- The Indian Green Building Council, part of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), was formed in 2001.
- The vision of the council is to enable a sustainable built environment for all and facilitate India to be one of the global leaders in the sustainable built environment by 2025.
- The council offers a wide array of services, which include developing new green building rating programmes, certification services and green building training programmes.
- The council also organises Green Building Congress, its annual flagship event on green buildings.
- The council is committee-based, member-driven and consensus-focused.
What is Green Building?
- Green building (also known as green construction or sustainable building) refers to both a structure and the using of processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building’s life-cycle: from siting to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, and demolition.
- Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a set of rating systems for the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of green buildings which was Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council.
President of India inaugurates first edition of World Sustainable Development Summit
President Pranab Mukherjee inaugurated the first edition of World Sustainable Development Summit (WSDS) at Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi.
- The summit was organised by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) with the theme Beyond 2015: People, Planet and Progress.
- The summit also hosted events like World CEO Sustainability Summit, Thematic Tracks, Media Colloquium, Youth Leaders and Greenovation Exhibition.
- The first DSDS was organised in 2005.
- WSDS has replaced TERI’s earlier called Delhi Sustainable Development Summit (DSDS).
- It underscored need for businesses and private sector to take lead in poverty reduction and to ensure rapid and sustained adoption of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
- It had brought together Nobel laureates, decision-makers political leaders from around the world to deliberate on issues related to sustainable development.
- The aim of the summit is to provide various stakeholders a single platform in order to provide long-term solutions for the benefit of the global community.
Bilateral & International Relations
India seeks greater pharma market access in Japan
India is seeking greater market access for the domestic pharmaceuticals sector in the Japanese market as India’s share in the Japanese drug market continued to be below par.
- It was announced by Union Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in seminar on promoting India’s exports to Japan under India-Japan CEPA (Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement) in New Delhi.
Why India seeks greater Pharma market access in Japan?
- India’s strength in pharma sector is well established. Share of India in the Japanese drug market continued to be low. It is limited mostly to active pharmaceutical ingredients (API).
- Japanese pharmaceutical market offers a huge untapped potential for Indian pharma industry. This is coupled with the decision of Japanese Government towards attaining an 80% share of generic medicines by 2018.
- This will provide an opportunity for the generic drug industry of India. Thus, it will be win-win situation for both countries as there is demand for generic medicines in Japan and India has capability to meet this demand.
Key Facts for Prelims
Polythene Free Zones
All Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) protected historical monuments and archaeological sites have declared polythene-free zones.
Union Ministry of Culture has issued an advisory to all State Governments/UTs to support ASI in keeping monuments polythene free up to 300 meters from protected boundaries.
‘Rani ki Vav’- Cleanest Iconic Place
- Union Ministry of Culture has declared Rani ki Vav (Gujarat), a 900-year-old World Heritage Site as the cleanest iconic place (among top 25 Adarsh Monuments) in the country.
- Rani ki Vav was presented with the “Cleanest Iconic Place” Award at the Indian Sanitation Conference (INDOSAN) 2016.
- ASI had ranked these 25 Adarsh Monuments on the basis of Cleanliness parameters such as amenities like toilets, Polythene Free Zone, green lawns, disabilities access, signage for awareness, drinking water and provision for garbage bins etc.
- Rani ki Vav was built in the 11th century AD as a memorial to a king by Queen Udaymat. It is located in Patan district of Gujarat. It was added as part of the UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2014.
Sustainable Development Leadership Award
Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Chamling was honoured with prestigious Sustainable Development Leadership Award of the ‘The Energy and Resources Institute’ (TERI) during “World Sustainable Development Summit”.
The award bestowed upon him in recognition of his vision and leadership in environment and sustainable development that made Sikkim India’s first into a fully organic state.
Sikkim is only state in India that has attained the official status of fully organic state in January 2016 announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
2016 Nobel Peace Prize
The 2016 Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.
- He was selected for the prestigious award by the Norwegian Nobel Committee for his resolute efforts to bring the more than 50-year-long civil war of Colombia to an end.
- The civil war in Colombia is one of the longest civil wars in modern times and the sole remaining armed conflict in the Americas.
Juan Manuel Santos’ contributions:
- Manuel Santos had initiated the negotiations with the guerrilla (rebel) group Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). These negotiations had culminated into a peace agreement between the Colombian government and the FARC guerrillas. However, in October 2016, the peace deal was rejected by a narrow majority by the Colombians when it was put to referendum.