14th August, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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‘Ease of Living Index’ (GS3: Infrastructure)
Issue: Three cities of Maharashtra – Pune, Navi Mumbai and Greater Mumbai – are the most livable places in the country, according to the ranking of 111 cities on the Ease of Living Index released by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs
Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, which have a number of big cities, found no representation in the top 10.
About the initiative
The Ease of Living Index is an initiative of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs to help cities assess their liveability vis-a-vis global and national benchmarks and encourage cities to move towards an ‘outcome-based’ approach to urban planning and management. Cities were ranked on four factors – institutions and governance, social infrastructure (education/health), economic factors and physical infrastructure.
Significance of such an index
- The Ease of Living assessment standards are linked to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and will provide a strong impetus to India’s effort for systematic tracking progress of SDGs in the urban areas.
- Ushers competition between states to improve urban infrastructure
- Various programmes such as Smart Cities, ATAL mission progress can be monitored through such an index
‘Global Liveability Index (GLI)’ (Facts that could be asked in Prelims)
Issue: Vienna has dislodged Melbourne for the first time at the top of the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Liveability Index, strengthening the Austrian capital’s claim to being the world’s most pleasant city to live in.
Vienna and Melbourne scored maximum points in the healthcare, education and infrastructure categories. But while Melbourne extended its lead in the culture and environment component, that was outweighed by Vienna’s improved stability ranking.
The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) publishes an annual Global Liveability Ranking, which ranks 140 cities for their urban quality of life based on assessments of stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education and infrastructure
The EIU also publishes a Worldwide Cost of Living Survey that compares the cost of living in a range of global cities
The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) is a British business within the Economist Group providing forecasting and advisory services through research and analysis, such as monthly country reports, five-year country economic forecasts, country risk service reports, and industry reports
‘Internal complaints committee (ICC)’ (GS2: Issues related to Human resources)
Issue: In order to ensure better implementation of the law against sexual harassment at workplace, the Centre has made it mandatory for companies to disclose whether they have constituted an internal complaints committee (ICC) to probe such allegations.
The Corporate Affairs Ministry has amended the Companies (Accounts) Rules, 2014, governed by the Companies Act, 2013, mandating the disclosure.
What does the new amendment entail?
The new clause says that the report will have to contain “a statement that the Company has complied with provisions relating to the constitution of Internal Complaints Committee under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.”
About the act
- Under the Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act, it is mandatory for any organisation with 10 or more employees to constitute an ICC. An employer who doesn’t do so could face a fine of up to Rs. 50,000.
- An ICC should consist of a presiding officer, who is a woman employee at a senior level in the same organisation, at least two employees “preferably committed to the cause of women”, and a member from an NGO or a person “familiar with issues relating to sexual harassment.”
- The committee would have powers similar to those of a civil court and would have to complete its inquiry within 90 days.
‘Iran-China ties’ (GS2: International Relations)
Issue: Iran’s state-run news agency IRNA has reported that China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), the world’s third-largest oil and gas firm, has replaced Total, the French energy giant, in the South Pars 11 project.
About the South pars 11 project
South Pars is the world’s single largest natural gas field, which is being developed in several phases. In 2017, Total acquired a 50.1% stake in the South Pars 11 project, following the 2015 sanctions-easing Iran nuclear deal.
CNPC held a 30% stake, while the rest was allocated to Iran’s Petropars Ltd. But after its withdrawal from the Iran atomic deal in May, Washington gave foreign firms 90 to 180 days limit to scrap their businesses from Iran. It warned that non-compliance would entail “secondary sanctions”, which would bar dissenting firms from doing business in the United States.
Significance of this move
This new acquisition can become another flash point between USA and China having ramifications not just for their bilateral ties but also for a stable order
‘Retail Inflation’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: Retail inflation eased to a nine-month low of 4.17% in July as food inflation cooled to its lowest level since July 2017, according to official data released
What the data shows?
- Inflation based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) slowed from the 4.92% pace set in June.
- Within the index, food category inflation was 1.73% in July, easing from 3.11% in June. The other significant slowdown in prices was in the pan and tobacco category, which saw growth of 6.34%, down from 8.05% in June.
- Growth in the fuel and light category accelerated to 7.96% in July, from 7.22% in June. Growth in the clothing and footwear category slowed to 5.28%, from 5.6% in the preceding month.
‘Air pollution and Health’ (GS2: Issues related to Health)
Issue: If India were to achieve its own air quality standards, life expectancy would increase by more than one year on an average, says the 16-page report published by an university. This number would increase to four years if India were to meet the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) norms.
Observations made in the report
The group’s recommendations include improving emissions monitoring by better aligning incentives of auditors, providing regulators with real-time data on polluters’ emissions, applying monetary charges for excess emissions, providing the public with information about polluters, and using markets to reduce abatement costs and pollution.
‘Kerala Floods’ (GS3: Disaster and disaster management)
Issue: Rains have let up in Kerala, leaving a trail of death and destruction, as the state’s residents and expats, politicians and bureaucrats come together to provide relief and help with rebuilding.
Incessant rains, particularly in its central and northern parts, have wreaked havoc in Kerala, leading to 37 deaths and over 100,000 displacements according to government figures.
Official estimates of the loss
Nearly 20,000 houses were destroyed and about 10,000km of public roads damaged, he added. Officially, the preliminary loss is pegged at about ₹8,316 crore, the worst damage in South India after the 2015 Chennai floods.
Reasons which exacerbated the flood situation further
- Extreme rainfall events and unplanned urbanization have become a ready recipe for recurring disasters like the one in Kerala.
- The disproportionate impact is due to rampant filling of lakes and wetlands, quarrying, deforestation and other unsustainable land use changes
‘Next Generation Offshore Patrol Vessels (NGOPVs)’(Facts that could be asked in Prelims)
Issue: The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) chaired by Raksha Mantri Smt Nirmala accorded approval for the procurement of six indigenously designed and manufactured Next Generation Offshore Patrol Vessels (NGOPVs) for the Indian Navy at an approximate cost of Rs. 4941 crore.
Significance of (NGOPVs)
The NGOPVs will be built in indigenous shipyards and will be fitted with state-of-the-art sensor suite with increased endurance. These platforms will strengthen maritime security by undertaking a multitude of operational roles both in blue water and littorals. These include seaward defence, protection of offshore assets, maritime interdiction operations and search & seizure operations, surveillance missions, mine warfare, anti-piracy missions, counter infiltration operations, anti-poaching/trafficking operations, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and search and rescue missions.
‘Ground water resources’ (GS3: Conservation of Environment)
Issue: To address the problem of depleting ground water resources, Central Public Works Department (CPWD) had decided for storage of the rain water and artificial recharge of the ground water by providing rain water harvesting systems in its campuses and works to conserve and use the rain water and augment ground water resources to save it from further depletion.
CPWD played a pioneering role in promoting adoption of the Rain water harvesting/artificial recharge to ground water in the country. CPWD has so far provided about 1100 rain water harvesting systems in different locations/ areas under its jurisdiction in the country.
CPWD comes under the administrative authority of Ministry of Housing and Urban affairs
‘North East Circuit: Imphal & Khongjom’ (GS2: Government policies for development in various sectors)
Issue: Dr. Najma A. Heptulla, Hon’ble Governor of Manipur will be inaugurating the project “Development of North East Circuit: Imphal & Khongjom” implemented under the Swadesh Darshan Scheme of Ministry of Tourism
About the scheme
Swadesh Darshan scheme is one of the flagship scheme of Ministry of tourism for development of thematic circuits in the country in a planned and prioritised manner. The scheme was launched in 2014 -15 and as on date the Ministry has sanctioned 70 projects for Rs.5708.88 Crore to 29 States and UTs under the Scheme. 30 projects / major components of these projects are expected to be completed this year.
About the Imphal & Khongjom project
The project covers two sites i.e. Kangla Fort and Khongjom. Kangla Fort is one of the most important historic and archaeological site of Manipur located in the heart of the Imphal city. It served as the seat of Manipur’s power till 1891. Kangla has a special place in the hearts and minds of the people of Manipur. The old Govindajee Temple, outer and inner moat and other relics are perfect reflections of the rich art and architectural heritage of Manipur.
Khongjom is the place where the last war of resistance of Anglo Manipur War of 1891 was fought
Some statistics about growth of tourism in India
The Ministry is carrying out an array of activities for development and promotion of tourism in the region. The efforts of Ministry have shown positive results and the Foreign tourist arrivals in the region has shown an upward trend over the years. The region received a total of 1.69 lakh foreign tourist visits during 2017 as against 1.45 lakh in 2016 registering a growth of 16.7% over 2016. The Domestic Tourist Visits reached to 95.47 lakhs in the year 2017 against 77.71 lakhs registering impressive double digit growth of 22.8% over 2016. The increased number of tourists in turn has created better employment opportunity for the local population in the region.
Other initiatives taken include
A number of facilities like Tourist Facilitation Centres, Interpretation Centres, better last mile connectivity, heliports, wayside amenities region, SEL Shows, Eco Log Huts, Rope Way, Golf Course, theme parks etc. are being developed up in the region under the above schemes to enhance the experience of tourists when they visit the region.