28th August, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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‘Drone policy’ (GS2: Government policies for development in various sectors)
Issue: The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) issued the finalized guidelines for commercial use of drones, or remotely operated aircraft
What the regulation says?
- This move will allow private operators across sectors such as agriculture, health and disaster relief and sectors such as photography, security, surveillance, etc to use drones. However, the regulator clearly disallowed delivery of payload by drones for now, which means they cannot be used by e-commerce companies or online food platforms for delivery of food or goods.
- As per the regulations, to be effective from December 1, all civilian drone operations will be restricted only during day time and flying will be restricted within visual line of sight which usually would be 450 metres. Except nano drones and those owned by National Technical Research Organisation and central intelligence agencies, the rest would be registered and issued Unique Identification Number.
- The norms prevent drones from flying around certain restricted locations such as airports, near international border, near coast line, state secretariat complexes. Further, they cannot operate in strategic locations, vital and military installations
Concerns with the present regulations
- Disallows its use by E-Commerce companies
- The guidelines in the current form prohibit flying of drones that are not in the operator’s visual line of sight that restrict various applications such as carriage of goods or passengers.
The registration of the drones, permission to fly will be done digitally through the ‘digital sky platform’, connected to local police, which will implement “no permission, no take off”.
‘Satya S Tripathi’ (GS2: Important international institutions)
Issue: Development and environment expert Satya S Tripathi has been appointed an assistant Secretary-General and will head the UN Environment Programme’s New York office.
Tripathi is now the third Indian at the senior levels of the UN hierarchy. He has served the UN for 20 years in “Europe, Asia and Africa on strategic assignments in sustainable development, human rights, democratic governance and legal affairs
About SS Tripathi
Tripathi has been the Senior Adviser on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the UNEP since 2017. A development economist and lawyer with over 35 years of experience, one of his key roles at the UN was as the UN Recovery Coordinator for the $7 billion post-tsunami and post-conflict recovery efforts in Aceh and Nias in Indonesia. He also chaired the Committees on Laws and Treaties for the UN-mediated Cyprus unification talks in 2004.
At the New York office of UNEP, Tripathi’s duties will include supporting development, coordination and implementation of system-wide strategies on environment for the UN and catalyzing transformative change” throughout the UN “to integrate the environmental dimension of peace, security and sustainable development
‘Exports’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: Union Minister of Commerce & Industry and Civil Aviation chaired a meeting of different exports stakeholders and Commerce Ministry officers to discuss a strategy for revitalizing India’s exports and doubling the country’s exports by 2025
Need for high exports
Exports create jobs, bring in foreign exchange and validate India’s international competitiveness.
Current challenges in increasing the exports from India
- Uncertainty of global trade
- Rigid approach of banks affecting availability of credit
- High logistics cost
- Productivity standards and qualities.
Steps taken to increase the exports in India
- Union Cabinet has approved the proposal of Department of Commerce to give focused attention to 12 identified Champion Services Sectors for promoting their development, and realizing their potential.
- Special strategy is being prepared for the services sector in order to achieve broad-based growth instead of the existing pre-dominance of IT-ITeS, diversification of services exports across geographical territories
- sensitization of the States to formulate new structures
- policies and action plans for services sector
- promotion of India as a services hub
- India had acceded to WTO’s TFA (Trade Facilitation Agreement) in April, 2016 and action plan containing specific activities to further ease out the bottlenecks to trade has been prepared.
- Electronic bank realization certificate (eBRC) system has been shared with 14 State Governments for quick tax refunds and MoU signed with GST Network for integration of e-BRC with GSTN.
- Commodity and territory specific strategy is also being prepared for items like gems and jewellery, leather, textile & apparel, engineering sector, electronics, chemicals and petrochemicals, pharma, agri and allied products and marine products.
- Territory specific strategy will cover North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Europe, North East Asia, ASEAN, South Asia, Latin America, Africa and WANA, Australia, New Zealand, and CIS.
‘Common carrier capacity for natural gas’ (GS3: Infrastructure)
Issue: The Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas & Skill Development & Entrepreneurship Shri Dharmendra Pradhan launched an online portal for enabling easy, efficient and transparent booking of Common carrier capacity for natural gas transmission services under GAIL’s pipelines. It would be a first step to facilitate gas trading on hub or exchange traded platform in India.
About the portal
- The portal is a transparent, market-friendly component in the gas trading system.
- Gas is a price sensitive commodity and its marketing in a transparent manner is essential.
- The portal will enable the new entities to utilize the GAIL’s infrastructure in procuring the gas in a cost-effective manner.
- The portal will act as a milestone in expansion of gas marketing, without human interface, through digital means.
GAIL (India) Ltd was incorporated in August 1984 as a Central Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) under the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas (MoP&NG). The company was initially given the responsibility of construction, operation & maintenance of the Hazira – Vijaypur -Jagdishpur (HVJ) pipeline Project. It was one of the largest cross-country natural gas pipeline projects in the world. Originally this 1800 Km long pipeline was built at a cost of Rs 1700 Crores and it laid the foundation for development of market for natural Gas in India.
The Government permitted GAIL to market Propane in the country during the year1993-94.
During the year 1995-96, two propane recovery plants at Vijaipur were commissioned to optimize various components of natural gas.
During the year 1997-98, the Government of India acknowledged GAIL’s ‘Excellent’ track record and potential to become a global giant, by granting the Navratna status, thereby entrusting greater autonomy to the Company.
‘Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY)’ (GS2: Issues related to Health)
Issue: A Memorandum of Understanding(MoU) was signed between the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) and National Health Agency (NHA) here today, to provide capacity building for Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana(PMJAY)
Motive behind this MoU
To ensure effective rollout and continued quality implementation of PMJAY
NSDC will ensure quality training of Arogyamitra through its network of Skill Development Centres functioning under PMKVY and Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendras(PMKK).
National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) is an Indian not-for-profit company set up to address the need for providing skilled manpower across various industry sectors. It was founded in 2009 by the Ministry of Finance, and is currently under the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Government of India.
It is estimated that by 2022 India will need an additional 104 million people in the workforce with a further 298 million requiring upgrade in training. To address this NSDC has started skill development initiatives in North East India, with a target of training 240,000 people in 2017-18.
NSDC has also partnered with Amazon’s “meri saheli” initiative to improve the digital literacy of women. Together with Google India, it has launched a program to train people on mobile development, via a 100-hour course to be delivered though partner agencies.
NSDC also signed collaboration with the Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs to train people within CSR, corporate governance, business innovation, e-governance and other skills. Other partners include the Adani Foundation, Uber and Maruti.
‘Climate change’ (GS3: Environmental pollution)
Issue: The Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) is considering a ₹79-crore proposal to study the impact of climate change on Kerala.
The project has been proposed by the National Institute of Science Communication and Information Resources (NISCAIR) under the Council of Scientific Industrial Research (CSIR).
About the project
The project, spread over a period of three years, will assess the impact of climate change on agriculture (including plantation crops and spices); fisheries (marine and inland); industries; health; transport — vehicular and inland water transports; tourism; biodiversity; forestry; and landslips. The research initiative will specifically assess the dynamics of riverine discharge and saline water incursion under the climate change scenario.
The project proposal stated that researchers will study the atmospheric chemistry related to climate change and monsoonal variations from Kerala’s perspective and develop large-scale forecasting and modeling of the various parameters using high-power computer simulation tools.
‘Asian Games 2018’ (Facts that could be asked in Prelims)
Issue: Gold eluded India as both the Indian men’s and women’s compound archery teams settled for silver medals at the 18th Asian Games after going down to powerhouse Korea in the finals
Other medals won recently include:
Olympic medallist P.V. Sindhu yet again finished second-best in a major final but grabbed a historic individual silver medal at the Asian Games after losing the women’s singles title clash to world number one Tai Tzu-Ying
‘Indus Water Treaty’ (GS2: India-Pakistan bilateral relations)
Issue: India and Pakistan will resume their talks on various aspects of the Indus Waters Treaty, the first bilateral engagement since Imran Khan took office as Prime Minister.
The last meeting of the Pakistan-India Permanent Indus Commission was held in New Delhi in March, during which both sides had shared details of the water flow and the quantum of water being used under the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty.
The session is also expected to discuss ways and means for the timely and smooth sharing of hydrological data on shared rivers.
About Indus water treaty
Indus Waters Treaty, treaty, signed on September 19, 1960, between India and Pakistan and brokered by the World Bank. The treaty fixed and delimited the rights and obligations of both countries concerning the use of the waters of the Indus River system.
The Indus River rises in the southwestern Tibet Autonomous Region of China and flows through the disputed Kashmir region and then into Pakistan to drain into the Arabian Sea. It is joined by numerous tributaries, notably those of the eastern Punjab Plain—the Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas, and Sutlej rivers.
The treaty gave the waters of the western rivers—the Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab—to Pakistan and those of the eastern rivers—the Ravi, Beas, and Sutlej—to India. It also provided for the funding and building of dams, link canals, barrages, and tube wells—notably the Tarbela Dam on the Indus River and the Mangla Dam on the Jhelum River. These helped provide water to Pakistan in the amounts that it had previously received from the rivers now assigned to India’s exclusive use. Much of the financing was contributed by member countries of the World Bank. The treaty required the creation of a Permanent Indus Commission, with a commissioner from each country, in order to maintain a channel for communication and to try to resolve questions about implementation of the treaty. In addition, a mechanism for resolving disputes was provided.
Numerous disputes were peacefully settled over the years through the Permanent Indus Commission. In a significant challenge to the treaty, in 2017 India completed the building of the Kishanganga dam in Kashmir and continued work on the Ratle hydroelectric power station on the Chenab River despite Pakistan’s objections and amid ongoing negotiations with the World Bank over whether the designs of those projects violated the terms of the treaty.
‘Rohingya issue’ (GS2: International issues)
Issue: Myanmar’s military carried out mass killings and gang rapes of Muslim Rohingya with “genocidal intent”, and the commander-in-chief and five generals should be prosecuted for the gravest crimes under international law, United Nations investigators have reported
A report by investigators was the first time the United Nations has explicitly called for Myanmar officials to face genocide charges over their campaign against the Rohingya, and is likely to deepen the country’s isolation.
Suggestions by the investigating committee
The investigators called for the U.N. Security Council to impose an arms embargo on Myanmar, subject its officials to targeted sanctions and set up an ad hoc tribunal to try suspects or refer them to the International Criminal Court in the Hague.
The U.N. investigators blamed Myanmar’s de facto civilian leader, Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, for failing to use her “moral authority” to protect civilians.
Who are Rohingyas?
Rohingya are an ethnic group, largely comprising Muslims, who predominantly live in the Western Myanmar province of Rakhine. They speak a dialect of Bengali, as opposed to the commonly spoken Burmese language.
Though they have been living in the South East Asian country for generations, Myanmar considers them as persons who migrated to their land during the Colonial rule. So, it has not granted Rohingyas full citizenship. According the 1982 Burmese citizenship law, a Rohingya (or any ethnic minority) is eligible for citizenship only if he/she provides proof that his/her ancestors have lived in the country prior to 1823. Else, they are classified as “resident foreigners” or as “associate citizens” (even if one of the parent is a Myanmar citizen).
Since they are not citizens, they are not entitled to be part of civil service. Their movements are also restricted within the Rakhine state.
Myanmar state, which was ruled by the military junta until 2011, has been accused of ethnic cleansing in Rakhine by the United Nations. It deported thousands of Rohingya to Bangladesh in the seventies and the citizenship law was also enacted by the junta. Things changed little for the Rohingya even after the political reforms in 2011 that eventually led to the first general elections in 2015, as the democratically-elected government-headed by President Htin Kyaw has been unwilling to grant citizenship.
What prompted the Rohingyas issue to flare up in recent times?
Muslim militants in Myanmar staged a coordinated attack on 30 police posts and an army base in Rakhine state on August 25, 2017. The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA)
The “clearance operations” to root out ARSA launched by the Myanmar military has once again affected the lives of Rohingya, many of whom have been living in relief camps since 2012. Reports of villages being torched, civilian deaths, and Rohingya youths being picked up for interrogation have followed the militant attack.
‘Insolvency and Bankruptcy code’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: As the deadline set by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) for resolution of stressed assets ended Monday, lenders have decided to refer 20 of at least 32 NPA accounts to bankruptcy courts. For the remaining 12 NPA accounts, lenders will either restructure the debt or initiate sale proceedings
On 12 February, RBI had set a 180-day timeline starting 1 March for resolving large corporate loan defaults, failing which banks have to refer these cases for insolvency proceedings.
About Insolvency and Bankruptcy code
The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (IBC) is the bankruptcy law of India which seeks to consolidate the existing framework by creating a single law for insolvency and bankruptcy. The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2015 was introduced in Lok Sabha in December 2015. It was passed by Lok Sabha on 5 May 2016
The Code received the assent of the President of India on 28 May 2016.
Features of the bill
- Insolvency Resolution: The Code outlines separate insolvency resolution processes for individuals, companies and partnership firms. The process may be initiated by either the debtor or the creditors. A maximum time limit, for completion of the insolvency resolution process,has been set for corporates and individuals. For companies, the process will have to be completed in 180 days, which may be extended by 90 days, if a majority of the creditors agree. For start-ups (other than partnership firms), small companies and other companies (with asset less than Rs. 1 crore), resolution process would be completed within 90 days of initiation of request which may be extended by 45 days
- Insolvency regulator: The Code establishes the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India, to oversee the insolvency proceedings in the country and regulate the entities registered under it. The Board will have 10 members, including representatives from the Ministries of Finance and Law, and the Reserve Bank of India
- Insolvency professionals: The insolvency process will be managed by licensed professionals. These professionals will also control the assets of the debtor during the insolvency process
- Bankruptcy and Insolvency Adjudicator: The Code proposes two separate tribunals to oversee the process of insolvency resolution, for individuals and companies: (i) the National Company Law Tribunal for Companies and Limited Liability Partnership firms; and (ii) the Debt Recovery Tribunal for individuals and partnerships
The Bill prohibits certain persons from submitting a resolution plan in case of defaults. These include: (i) wilful defaulters, (ii) promoters or management of the company if it has an outstanding non-performing debt for over a year, and (iii) disqualified directors, among others. Further, it bars the sale of property of a defaulter to such persons during liquidation
‘Self-driving cars’ (GS3: Science)
Issue: Toyota Motor Corp will invest $500 million in Uber Technologies Inc to jointly work on developing self-driving cars
Toyota, one of the world’s largest carmakers, and Uber , the leading ride-hailing service, are widely seen as lagging the competition in developing self-driving cars.
About the partnership
The investment values Uber at $72 billion, matching the valuation Uber received in a deal with Alphabet Inc self-driving unit Waymo this year. Uber will combine its autonomous driving system with Toyota’s Guardian technology, which offers automated safety features such as lane-keeping but does not enable a vehicle to drive completely autonomously.
‘Coastal flooding’ (GS3: Disaster management policy)
Issue: Excess rains triggered the tragic floods in Kerala but there could be another threat: coastal flooding. Across the world, climate change is causing sea levels to rise which makes coastal areas such as Kerala vulnerable to flooding and other extreme events.
Warning signs include:
- The rising temperatures in the Arabian sea has made states such as Kerala and Karnataka increasingly vulnerable to cyclones
- As per the study, under a scenario of moderate greenhouse gas emissions, permanent flooding could reduce global real GDP by an average of 0.19% in present value terms and economic welfare by 0.24% as people move to places with less attractive amenities.
- A report by the non-profit First Street Foundation says housing values in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut dropped $6.7 billion from 2005 to 2017 due to flooding related to rise in sea level.