26th Oct, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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‘Indian Aviation market’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: India will be the third largest aviation market globally a year sooner than was earlier predicted. It is now expected to be among the top three countries by 2024 from its current seventh position, according to global aviation body IATA.
In its latest 20-year forecast for the aviation industry, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) says that air passenger numbers worldwide could double to 8.2 billion in 2037.
Observations made in the report
- The biggest contribution in this growth will come from the Asia-Pacific region, which will account for half the total number of new passengers over the next 20 years.
- While China will climb up one spot to displace US as the world’s largest aviation market in the mid-2020s, India will take the third place by surpassing the U.K. around 2024,
- By 2037, India is expected to add 414 million passengers to its existing 572 million passengers
The other south-east Asian countries predicted to grow rapidly include Indonesia, likely to be the fourth largest by 2030 from its current ranking of 10th largest aviation market. Thailand, too, is expected to enter the top 10 markets in 2030.
‘Dead Sea’ (GS1: World Geography)
Issue: Flash floods unleashed by heavy rains swept away middle school students and teachers visiting hot springs near the Dead Sea on Thursday, killing 18 and injuring 35 as the torrent carried some for several kilometers
The low-lying Dead Sea area, part of the Jordan Valley, is prone to flash flooding when rain water rushes down from adjacent hills.
About Dead Sea
Dead Sea also called Salt Sea, landlocked salt lake between Israel and Jordan in southwestern Asia. Its eastern shore belongs to Jordan, and the southern half of its western shore belongs to Israel
The Dead Sea has the lowest elevation and is the lowest body of water on the surface of Earth. For several decades in the mid-20th century the standard value given for the surface level of the lake was some 1,300 feet (400 metres) below sea level. Beginning in the 1960s, however, Israel and Jordan began diverting much of the Jordan River’s flow and increased the use of the lake’s water itself for commercial purposes. The result of those activities was a precipitous drop in the Dead Sea’s water level. By the mid-2010s measurement of the lake level was more than 100 feet (some 30 metres) below the mid-20th-century figure—i.e., about 1,410 feet (430 metres) below sea level—but the lake continued to drop by about 3 feet (1 metre) annually.
The drop in the lake level in the late 20th and early 21st centuries changed the physical appearance of the Dead Sea.
‘Army reforms’ (GS3: Security)
Issue: The Army’s biggest reform exercise since independence to right-size the force and reduce mounting revenue expenditure is likely to see creation of new positions of a third Deputy Chief of Army Staff and a Director General of Strategic Communications, among other measures.
The Directorate of Strategic Communications, in addition to the existing Directorates of Military Operations and Military Intelligence, are likely to be moved under a new Deputy Chief of Army Staff
Other reforms that are being considered by the army
- The force is undertaking four studies for its overhaul.
- The four studies are for restructuring of Army Headquarters (HQ), restructuring which includes cutting down the strength, cadre review of officers and review of terms and conditions of Junior Commissioned Officers (JCOs) and Other Ranks (OR).
- Other big changes in the offing include having Integrated Battle Groups (IBGs); shifting the Director General Military Training in the Army HQ to the Army’s Training Command at Shimla; reorganizing several overlapping divisions at the Army HQ and rightsizing the force over the next 6-8 years.
The focus of the reforms is holistic integration to enhance the operational and functional efficiency, optimize budget expenditure, facilitate force modernization and address aspirations
‘Central Bureau investigation (CBI)’ (GS2: Statutory bodies)
Issue: The Supreme Court on Friday ordered the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) to conduct an inquiry into the allegations against CBI director Alok Verma under the supervision of retired Supreme Court judge A.K. Patnaik.
The court also asked the serving joint director of CBI, Nageshwar Rao, to submit in a sealed cover a list of all decisions taken by him between 23 October and today, including those concerning transfers and change of investigating officers.
Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) is an apex Indian governmental body created in 1964 to address governmental corruption. In 2003, the Parliament enacted a law conferring statutory status on the CVC. It has the status of an autonomous body, free of control from any executive authority, charged with monitoring all vigilance activity under the Central Government of India, advising various authorities in central Government organizations in planning, executing, reviewing and reforming their vigilance work.
It was set up by the Government of India Resolution on 11 February 1964, on the recommendations of the Committee on Prevention of Corruption, headed by Shri K. Santhanam Committee, to advise and guide Central Government agencies in the field of vigilance
The Annual Report of the CVC not only gives the details of the work done by it but also brings out the system failures which leads to corruption in various Departments/Organisations, system improvements, various preventive measures and cases in which the Commission’s advises were ignored etc.
The Commission shall consist of:
- A Central Vigilance Commissioner – Chairperson;
- Not more than two Vigilance Commissioners – Members;
The current Central Vigilance Commissioner is Shri K V Chowdary and Vigilance Commissioners are Dr. Tejendra Mohan Bhasin and Shri Sharad kumar
The Central Vigilance Commissioner and the Vigilance Commissioners shall be appointed by the President on recommendation of a Committee consisting of the Prime Minister (Chairperson), the Minister of Home Affairs (Member) and the Leader of the Opposition in the House of the People.
The Central Vigilance Commissioner or any Vigilance Commissioner can be removed from his office only by order of the President on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity after the Supreme Court, on a reference made to it by the President, has, on inquiry, reported that the Central Vigilance Commissioner or any Vigilance Commissioner, as the case may be, ought to be removed. The President may suspend from office, and if deem necessary prohibit also from attending the office during inquiry, the Central Vigilance Commissioner or any Vigilance Commissioner in respect of whom a reference has been made to the Supreme Court until the President has passed orders on receipt of the report of the Supreme Court on such reference. The President may, by order, remove from office the Central Vigilance Commissioner or any Vigilance Commissioner if the Central Vigilance Commissioner or such Vigilance Commissioner, as the case may be:
- is adjudged an insolvent; or
- has been convicted of an offence which, in the opinion of the Central Government, involves moral turpitude; or
- engages during his term of office in any paid employment outside the duties of his office; or
- is, in the opinion of the President, unfit to continue in office by reason of infirmity of mind or body; or
- has acquired such financial or other interest as is likely to affect prejudicially his functions as a Central Vigilance Commissioner or a Vigilance Commissioner
‘E-mobility’ (GS3: Infrastructure)
Issue: An electric-vehicle revolution is gaining ground in India. The South Asian nation is home to about 1.5 million battery-powered, three-wheeled rickshaws – a fleet bigger than the total number of electric passenger cars sold in China since 2011.
As many as 11,000 new e-rickshaws hit the streets every month, and annual sales are expected to increase about 9 percent by 2021
About the industry
Three-wheeled vehicles make up a $1.5 billion market, and manufacturers of electric versions include Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. and Kinetic Engineering Ltd., along with smaller outfits that assemble parts imported from China.
India is the world’s fourth-largest auto market, but previous attempts to boost private electric-car ownership flopped. The government likely scaled back because it fears disrupting an industry that contributes about 7 percent of the total gross domestic product
Actions taken by the government to promote e-mobility
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration now is pivoting toward promoting EVs in public transportation and fleet operations – primarily, two- and three-wheelers, taxis and buses. The Ministry of Finance is finalizing a plan to spend about 40 billion rupees ($600 million) in the next five years to improve the nation’s charging infrastructure and subsidize e-buses.
Challenges faced by E-vehicles
- One hindrance to the potential growth of EVs is the lack of charging and battery-swapping stations nationwide. India had about 425 publicly available charging points at the end of last year. By 2022, government and private efforts are expected to boost that to an estimated 2,800 charging points
- Another hindrance is the lack of bank financing for traditional rickshaw drivers, who typically earn low incomes
‘Formal jobs’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: India’s latest payroll data extrapolated from the Employees Provident Fund Organization (EPFO) shows 9.1 million people left formal jobs between September 2017 and August 2018 and of those who left only 1.85 million came back to jobs.
Possible reason for leaving formal jobs could be because of several reasons, including retirement and retrenchment. This is, however, the first time since payroll data was made public in May 2018 that the government has disclosed the number of people who came back to formal jobs after quitting previously. The government data shows that for every nine people who left formal jobs, nearly two came back to the formal job sector.
The EPFO has emerged as a key indicator of formal job creation in India for the Union government
The Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (abbreviated to EPFO), is an Organization tasked to assist the Central Board of Trustees, a statutory body formed by the Employees’ Provident Fund and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952 and is under the administrative control of the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Government of India.
EPFO assists the Central Board in administering a compulsory contributory Provident Fund Scheme, a Pension Scheme and an Insurance Scheme for the workforce engaged in the organized sector in India. It is also the nodal agency for implementing Bilateral Social Security Agreements with other countries on a reciprocal basis. The schemes cover Indian workers as well as International workers (for countries with which bilateral agreements have been signed. As of now 17 Social Security Agreements are operational). It is one of the largest social security organisations in India in terms of the number of covered beneficiaries and the volume of financial transactions undertaken. The EPFO’s apex decision making body is the Central Board of Trustees (CBT).
The total assets under management are more than ₹8.5 lakh crore (US$128 billion) as of 18 March 2016.
On 1 October 2014, Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi launched Universal Account Number for Employees covered by EPFO to enable PF number portability
‘Inequality’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: Inequality can hurt our economies, societies, and even our bodies. In a new article in the Scientific American, Robert M. Sapolsky of Stanford University draws on several medical studies to show just how inequality is hurting health outcomes.
Observations made in the study
- Widening gap between the rich and the poor has resulted in greater health and social problems. One study shows that as inequality has increased in OECD countries, a combined health index, which captures life expectancy, infant mortality and a range of other health issues, has become worse.
- Poverty in itself hurts health, poverty among plenty (inequality) hurts health more. A broad range of research has shown that life in societies with disparities between rich and poor creates constant social and psychological stress for the poor that grinds down human bodies and brains.
- For instance, studies have shown that inequality-induced stress affects the prefrontal cortex of the brain, critical for long-term planning and impulse control. This makes people more impulsive and less likely to choose long-term health over immediate pleasure.
- Another common effect of stress is chronic inflammation in the human body which damages molecules and increases the risks of heart diseases. Stress by social circumstances can also have more deep-rooted effects by affecting human DNA, fraying chromosomes and causing premature aging.
‘Startups’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: Bengaluru has the third highest number of startups in the world after Silicon Valley and London, according to IT industry body Nasscom’s 2018 report titled ‘Indian Start-Up Ecosystem’.
Observations made in the report
- The report further stated that India continues to hold its position of being the third biggest startup ecosystem in the world behind USA and UK. A total of 1,200 startups emerged in 2018 alone, taking the number to well over 7,000.
- The report also highlighted that the number of Unicorns in India had risen to 18 with eight companies adding itself into the list. Unicorns are privately funded companies with a valuation of over $1 billion. Udaan, Oyo, Swiggy, PayTM Mall, Zomato, Freshworks, Policybazaar and Byju’s are the new entrants in the billion-dollar category.
- However, Nasscom noted that funding at the seed stage is in decline
- The report noted that there was also a rise in cross-border startups. Collaborations among a number of countries, including Israel, France, Australia, among others, has seen 400 cross-border startups set up.
Startup India is a flagship initiative launched by the Government of India on 16th January, 2016 to build a strong eco-system for nurturing innovation and startups in the country which will drive economic growth and generate large scale employment opportunities. The Government through this initiative aims to empower startups to grow through innovation and design.
The Standup India scheme was launched on 5th April, 2016 to facilitate bank loans from Scheduled Commercial Banks (SCBs) between Rs.10 lakh to Rs.1 Crore to at least one Scheduled Caste (SC) or Scheduled Tribe (ST) and one woman per bank branch for setting up a greenfield enterprise in trading, services or manufacturing sector. The scheme is expected to benefit at least 2.5 lakh borrowers.
Each enterprise will provide jobs depending on the nature of its operation.
The salient features of Startup India are as follows:
- Simplification and Handholding
- Simple Compliance Regime for startups based on Self certification
- Launch of Mobile app and Portal for compliance and information exchange
- Startup India Hub to handhold startups during various phases of their development
- Legal support and fast-tracking patent examination at reduced
- Relaxed norms of public procurement for startups
- Faster exit for startups
- Funding support and Incentives
- Providing funding support through a Fund of Funds with a corpus of Rupees 10,000 crore
- Credit guarantee fund for startups
- Tax exemption on capital gains invested in Fund of Funds
- Tax exemption to startups for 3 years
iii. Industry-Academia Partnership and Incubation
- Organizing Startup Fests to showcase innovations and providing collaboration platforms
- Launch of Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) with Self –Employment and Talent Utilization (SETU) Program of NITI Aayog
- Harnessing private sector expertise for setting up incubators
- Setting up of 7 new research parks modeled on the Research Park at IIT Madras
- Launching of innovation focused programs for students.
- Annual Incubator Grand Challenge to promote good practices among incubators.
- Credit Guarantee Fund
The initiative provides for creating a credit guarantee fund for startups through Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) with a Corpus of Rs.500 crore per year for the next four years.
With this Action Plan the Government intends to accelerate spreading of the startup movement:
- From digital/technology sector to a wide array of sectors including agriculture, manufacturing, social sector, healthcare, education, etc.; and
- From existing tier 1 cities to tier 2 and tier 3 cities including semi-urban and rural areas.
‘Commonwealth award’ (Facts that could be asked in Prelims)
Issue: India wins Commonwealth Association for Public Administration and Management Award, 2018
The Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG), Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions is an institutional member of Commonwealth Association for Public Administration and Management (CAPAM) which is a non-profit association representing an international network of over 1100 senior public servants, Heads of Government, leading academics and researchers located in over 50 different countries across the Commonwealth.
About the award
The CAPAM Awards celebrate the spirit of innovation in the public service by recognizing organizations that have made significant contributions to improve governance and services in the public sector.
The initiative entitled “Unnayan Banka- Reinventing Education Using Technology of Banka District, State of Bihar has been awarded under the Category “Innovation Incubation”. “Unnayan Banka” is an initiative which envisages “Quality education for all’ especially for those at the bottom of the Pyramid, using latest technologies. It’s a holistic model of overall development of youths from Education to Employability.