Polity & Governance
- Cabinet approves ‘Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan’
- SC dismisses TN’s review plea on remission power
- Arunachal Becomes First NE State to Implement e-Cabinet
- CBDT signs four ‘Advance Pricing Agreements’ today
Bilateral & International Relations
- Annual Maritime Power Conference – 2017
- India will host the first meeting of national security advisers of BIMSTEC countries
Science & Technology
- E-pills that can monitor patient health in the offing
Key Facts for Prelims
- China becomes world’s largest Solar Energy Producer
Polity & Governance
Cabinet approves ‘Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan’
The Union Cabinet has approved ‘Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan’ (PMGDISHA) to make 6 crore rural households digitally literate by March 2019.
- PMGDISHA is expected to be one of the largest digital literacy programmes in the world.
How will the programme be implemented?
- Under the scheme, 25 lakh candidates will be trained in the FY 2016-17; 275 lakh in the FY 2017-18; and 300 lakh in the FY 2018-19.
- To ensure equitable geographical reach, each of the 250,000 Gram Panchayats would be expected to register an average of 200-300 candidates.
- The implementation of the Scheme would be carried out under the overall supervision of Ministry of Electronics and IT in active collaboration with States/UTs through their designated State Implementing Agencies, District e-Governance Society (DeGS), etc.
As per the 71st NSSO Survey on Education 2014, only 6% of rural households have a computer. This highlights that more than 15 crore rural households (@ 94% of 16.85 crore households) do not have computers and a significant number of these households are likely to be digitally illiterate.
Significance of the programme:
- The PMGDISHA being initiated under Digital India Programme would cover 6 crore households in rural areas to make them digitally literate.
- This would empower the citizens by providing them access to information, knowledge and skills for operating computers / digital access devices.
SC dismisses TN’s review plea on remission power
The Supreme Court has dismissed a review petition filed by the Tamil Nadu government against a 2015 Constitution Bench judgment that a State government has no suo motu power to remit sentences of persons convicted under a Central law and cases investigated by a Central agency like the CBI.
- The verdict was based on a challenge by the Centre to Tamil Nadu’s move to remit the life sentence of seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.
In 2015, the judgment had held that the Centre, and not the State government, would have “primacy” in deciding whether persons convicted in matters of the CBI or a Central agency should be released or not on remission.
Section 435 (2) of the Cr.PC:
- Interpreting Section 435 (2) of the Cr.PC, the court had held that the word ‘consultation’ meant ‘concurrence’.
- This meant that the Tamil Nadu government should have got the prior consent of the Centre before issuing its February 19, 2014 order to remit the life sentence of seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi case.
Arunachal Becomes First NE State to Implement e-Cabinet
Arunachal Pradesh has become the first state in the northeast to implement e-Cabinet solution for the state cabinet members.
- Using this system, state cabinet members can access the cabinet notes before the meeting.
- It is being implemented by the state department of Information Technology and Communication.
- Entire business of the Cabinet can be conducted using the e-Cabinet solution.
- It will help ministers prepare for cabinet meetings, conduct them and review minutes, entirely without paper.
- The e-Cabinet solution will provide remote access to the ministers to view Cabinet notes and at the same it will be circulated in advance for proper analysis and feedback.
- The system has a multi-user secure solution that keeps relevant information organised and updated in real time, giving a clear overview of each item under discussion to ministers.
- Once Arunachal Pradesh adopts the e-Cabinet system fully, the average length of the cabinet meetings will go down from 4-5 hours to just 30-90 minutes and the government can also eliminate the need to print and deliver thousands of pages of documents.
CBDT signs four ‘Advance Pricing Agreements’ today
The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has announced signing of four more unilateral Advance Pricing Agreements (APAs).
- With this, the total number of APAs entered into by the CBDT has reached 130. This includes eight bilateral APAs and 122 Unilateral APAs.
- The four APAs signed pertain to the manufacturing, financial and Information Technology sectors of the economy.
- The international transactions covered in these agreements include contract manufacturing, IT enabled services and software development services.
- In the current financial year, a total of 66 APAs (five bilateral APAs and 61 unilateral APAs) have already been entered into.
About the APA Scheme:
The APA Scheme was introduced in the Income-tax Act in 2012 and the Rollback provisions were introduced in 2014.
- The Scheme endeavours to provide certainty to taxpayers in the domain of transfer pricing by specifying the methods of pricing and determining the arm’s length price of international transactions in advance for a maximum period of five future years.
- Further, the taxpayer has the option to roll-back the APA for four preceding years.
- Since its inception, the APA scheme has attracted tremendous interest among Multinational Enterprises (MNEs) and more than 700 applications (both unilateral and bilateral) have been filed in just four years.
Bilateral & International Relations
Annual Maritime Power Conference – 2017
The National Maritime Foundation is conducting its Annual Maritime Power Conference-2017 at New Delhi.
- The theme for the conference is ‘The Blue Economy: Concept, Constituents and Development’.
- This conference aims to add to the understanding of the discourse on Blue Economy and intends to discuss its constituents in an attempt to develop a common understanding of the concept.
What is Blue Economy?
- The Blue Economy encompasses various traditional marine sectors such as fisheries and aquaculture, shipping, port infrastructure, ship building and repair, island development, seabed exploration, hydrocarbon extraction and marine tourism industry.
There are also many emerging sectors such as marine renewable energy, deep seabed mining, salt water desalination, marine bio-technology and provisioning specialized Information and Communications Technologies services for the marine industry.
How can we harness the potential of the blue economy?
- In order to fully harness the potential of the blue economy, India needs to envision the seas and oceans as development spaces.
- This involves an integrated approach towards oceanic resources comprising marine spatial planning and integrated coastal zone management.
About National Maritime Foundation:
- The National Maritime Foundation was established in 2005 to provide a common platform for discourse between maritime-related institutions, organizations and disciplines, within the country and abroad.
- The Foundation conducts independent academic research and provides policy-relevant recommendations to advance the nation’s maritime goals.
- As a part of its charter, NMF endeavours to foster maritime awareness on contemporary issues through academic engagements and towards this end, the Foundation organises an Annual Maritime Power Conference (AMPC).
During the International Fleet Review, 2016, the Hon’ble Prime Minister recalled India’s vision for the Indian Ocean through ‘SAGAR’ (meaning ocean), which stands for ‘Security and Growth for All in the Region’.[Ref: PIB]
India will host the first meeting of national security advisers of BIMSTEC countries
India will host the first meeting of national security advisers of BIMSTEC countries in the coming months to coordinate action against terrorism, extremism and radicalization.
- This was decided at a recent BIMSTEC meet in Kathmandu ahead of the fourth Summit of the grouping to be held in Nepal this year.
The importance of BIMSTEC was highlighted during the BRICS-BIMSTEC Outreach Summit held at Goa in October 2016. In this summit, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had expressed his desire to promote BIMSTEC and assured full cooperation it needs to move on.
The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) is a regional organization comprising seven Member States lying in the littoral and adjacent areas of the Bay of Bengal constituting a contiguous regional unity.
- It came into being in 1997 through the Bangkok Declaration.
- It constitutes seven Member States: Five deriving from South Asia: [Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka] and Two from Southeast Asia: [Myanmar and Thailand].
- The main objective of BIMSTEC is technological and economic cooperation among South Asian and South East Asian countries along the coast of the Bay of Bengal.
- The headquarters of BIMSTEC is in Dhaka.
- Unlike many other regional groupings, BIMSTEC is a sector-driven cooperative organization. Starting with six sectors—including trade, technology, energy, transport, tourism and fisheries—for sectoral cooperation in the late 1997, it expanded to embrace nine more sectors—including agriculture, public health, poverty alleviation, counter-terrorism, environment, culture, people to people contact and climate change—in 2008.
Science & Technology
E-pills that can monitor patient health in the offing
Researchers from MIT have developed a small battery that runs on stomach acids and is capable of powering e-pills to monitor patient health.
How does it operate?
- The small system can generate enough power to run small sensors or drug delivery devices that can reside in the gastrointestinal tract for extended periods of time.
- Researchers took inspiration from a very simple type of voltaic cell known as a lemon battery, which consists of two electrodes – often a galvanised nail and a copper penny – stuck in a lemon.
- The citric acid in the lemon carries a small electric current between the two electrodes.
- To replicate that strategy, the researchers attached zinc and copper electrodes to the surface of their ingestible sensor.
- The zinc emits ions into the acid in the stomach to power the voltaic circuit, generating enough energy to power a commercial temperature sensor and a 900-megahertz transmitter.
Significance of the new battery:
- It offers a safer and lower-cost alternative to the traditional batteries used to power such devices.
- It can also help in manufacturing new generation of electronic ingestible pills that could enable novel ways of monitoring patient health and treating disease.
Key Facts for Prelims
China becomes world’s largest Solar Energy Producer
- According to a new report from the China’s energy administration, China has become the world’s largest producer of solar energy.
- China nearly doubled its capacity for solar power in 2016, but it still has a very low per-capita rate for solar power use.
- China’s photovoltaic (PV) capacity reached to 77.42 GW in 2016.
- China claims that 11% of its energy use comes from renewable supplies such as solar and wind power.
- China also leads the world in wind-powered energy.
- It has surpassed Germany, former global solar-power leader which has produced 40.78GW solar energy in November 2016.
- India’s PV capacity has reached to 9 GW in 2016.