7th Feb, 2019-IAS Current Affairs
‘MPLADS’ (GS2: Government policies for development in various sectors)
Issue: Government through the Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation continuously emphasizes on timely completion of works under MPLADS scheme
About the scheme
The Members of Parliament Local Area Development Division is entrusted with the responsibility of implementation of Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS). Under the scheme, each MP has the choice to suggest to the District Collector for works to the tune of Rs.5 Crores per annum to be taken up in his/her constituency.
The Rajya Sabha Members of Parliament can recommend works in one or more districts in the State from where he/she has been elected.
The Nominated Members of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha may select any one or more Districts from any one State in the Country for implementation of their choice of work under the scheme. The Ministry has issued the guidelines on MPLADS Scheme including implementation and monitoring of the scheme. The Department has initiated all necessary steps to ensure that the scheme is successfully implemented in the field.
International Financial Services Centres (IFSCs) (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved establishment of a unified authority for regulating all financial services in International Financial Services Centres (IFSCs) in India through International Financial Services Centres Authority Bill, 2019.
What is an IFSC?
An IFSC caters to customers outside the jurisdiction of the domestic economy. Such centres deal with flows of finance, financial products and services across borders. London, New York and Singapore can be counted as global financial centres. Many emerging IFSCs around the world, such as Shanghai and Dubai, are aspiring to play a global role in the years to come. An expert panel headed by former World Bank economist Percy Mistry submitted a report on making Mumbai an international financial centre in 2007. However, the global financial crisis that unfolded in 2008 made countries including India cautious about rapidly opening up their financial sectors.
Services provided by an IFSC
- Fund-raising services for individuals, corporations and governments
- Asset management and global portfolio diversification undertaken by pension funds, insurance companies and mutual funds
- Wealth management
- Global tax management and cross-border tax liability optimization, which provides a business opportunity for financial intermediaries, accountants and law firms.
- Global and regional corporate treasury management operations that involve fund-raising, liquidity investment and management and asset-liability matching
- Risk management operations such as insurance and reinsurance
- Merger and acquisition activities among trans-national corporations
Requirements of an IFSC
IFSCs such as Dubai International Financial Centre and Shanghai International Financial Centre, which are located within SEZs, have six key building blocks:
—Rational legal regulatory framework
—Sustainable local economy
—Stable political environment
—Good quality of life
‘Traditional medicines in India’ (GS2: Issues related to Health)
Issue: The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approvedMemorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Brazil on cooperationin the field of Traditional Systems of Medicine and Homoeopathy.
Medicinal plants in India
Plants have medicinal value too along with ornamental purpose. Indians and Chinese have been using plants as medicines to treat wounds and pacify the inflammation. The ancient science of Ayurveda and Yoga relies heavily on these plants to treat major conditions, from pain management to weight management and everything in between.
Some of the medicinal plants in India used since many ages:
- Aloe vera
Extremely easy to grow, aloe vera is India’s most favorite and a succulent plant that is low-on-maintenance and easy-to-grow! The plant is a trusted remedy for Indians to treat skin inflammation, breakouts, and burns. Its juice is well-known to boost a weak immune system. It is believed to be full of oxidants, which help the body to fight free radicals and stay fit as well as young
Tulsi or Holy Basil is called ‘Elixir of Life’ in Ayurveda in India and well known medicinal plant. It has been proved that Tulsi clears away the pollutants within the ten miles of its radius. Besides, Tulsi tea in India is very effective in treating common cold and flu. The plant also features in NASA list of air-purifying plants. Its leaves can treat digestive issues and are also believed to have anti-cancer properties.
Mint tea helps you stay calm and if you are insomniac, mint tea can help you feel composed and have a sound sleep. Its fragrance is believed to keep the mosquitoes away. It is very beneficial in treating cold, cough, and diarrhea.
Lemongrass’ therapeutic effect is widely known. Drink lemongrass tea to relieve a sore throat and menstrual pain. If you have trouble sleeping, drinking lemongrass tea before sleeping can help you get rid of insomnia and stress. Lemongrass is also helpful in pain management and has anti-pyretic properties.
The ridged leaves of the plant are edible and you can boil them in water to make ajwain tea to cure your upset stomach
‘RashtriyaKamdhenuAayog’ (GS2: Government policies and programmes for development in various sectors)
Issue: The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the proposal for establishment of RashtriyaKamdhenuAayog for Conservation protection and development of cows and their progeny.
Impact of this programme
- The setting up of RashtriyaKamdhenuAayog will lead to conservation, protection and development of cattle population in the country including development and conservation of indigenous breeds.
- It will result in increased growth of livestock sector which is more inclusive, benefitting women, and small and marginal farmers.
- The RashtriyaKamdhenuAayog will work in collaboration with Veterinary, Animal Sciences or Agriculture University or departments or organizations of the Central/State Government engaged in the task of research in the field of breeding and rearing of cow, organic manure, biogas etc.
More about the programme
The creation of Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog for the conservation, protection and development of cows and their progeny will provide the policy framework and direction to the cow conservation and development programmes in the country and for ensuring proper implementation of laws with respect to the welfare of cows. It is in pursuance of the announcement of setting up of the Aayog in the Union Budget 2019-20.
“Broadcasting Infrastructure and Network Development” (GS2: Government policies for development in various sectors)
Issue: The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs Chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave its approval to the Proposal of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting regarding PrasarBharati’s “Broadcasting Infrastructure and Network Development” scheme at a cost of Rs.1054.52 crore for 3 years from 2017-18 to 2019-20
About the scheme
- Provisions have been kept for modernisation of existing equipment/facilities in studios which are essential to sustain the ongoing activities and also for High Definition Television (HDTV) transmitters at Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata.
- Out of Rs. 1054.52 Crore, an amount of Rs. 435.04 Crore is approved for the continuing schemes of All India Radio and an amount of Rs 619.48 Crore is approved for the schemes of Doordarshan. The continuing schemes of AIR and Doordarshan are at different stages of implementation and are scheduled to be completed in phases.
- The cabinet also approved the launch of DD ArunPrabha Channel from Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh to fulfil the aspirations of people of North East Region.
- For All India Radio, the Scheme provides for FM expansion at 206 places, digitalisation of studios at 127 places are envisaged. FM expansion programme will benefit 13% additional population of the country to listen the AIR programmes
About Prasar Bharati
Prasar Bharati is India’s largest public broadcasting agency. It is a statutory autonomous body set up by an Act of Parliament and comprises the Doordarshan Television Network and All India Radio, which were earlier media units of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. The Parliament of India passed the Prasar Bharati Act to grant this autonomy in 1990, but it was not enacted until 15 September 1997
The primary duty of the Corporation is to organise and conduct public broadcasting services intended to inform, educate and entertain the public and to ensure a balanced development of broadcasting on radio and television.
The Corporation shall, in the discharge of its functions, be guided by the following objectives, namely:
- Upholding the unity and integrity of the country and the values enshrined in the Constitution.
- Safeguarding the citizen’s right to be informed freely, truthfully and objectively on all matters of public interest, national or international, and presenting a fair and balanced flow of information including contrasting views without advocating any opinion or ideology of its own.
- Paying special attention to the fields of education and spread of literacy, agriculture, rural development, environment, health and family welfare and science and technology.
- Providing adequate coverage to the diverse cultures and languages of the various regions of the country by broadcasting appropriate programmes.
- Providing adequate coverage to sports and games so as to encourage healthy competition and the spirit of sportsmanship.
- Providing appropriate programmes keeping in view the special needs of the youth.
- Informing and stimulating the national consciousness in regard to the status and problems of women and paying special attention to the upliftment of women.
- Promoting social justice and combating exploitation, inequality and such evils as untouchability and advancing the welfare of the weaker sections of the society
- Safeguarding the rights of the working classes and advancing their welfare.
- Serving the rural and weaker sections of the people and those residing in border regions, backward or remote areas.
- Providing suitable programmes keeping in view the special needs of the minorities and tribal communities.
- Taking special steps to protect the interests of children, the blind, the aged, the handicapped and other vulnerable sections of the people.
- Promoting national integration by broadcasting in a manner that facilitates communication in the languages in India; and facilitating the distribution of regional broadcasting services in every State in the languages of that State.
- Providing comprehensive broadcast coverage through the choice of appropriate technology and the best utilization of the broadcast frequencies available and ensuring high quality reception.
- Promoting research and development activities in order to ensure that radio broadcast and television broadcast technology are constantly updated.
‘Natural gas in India’ (GS3: Energy)
Issue: Indian government has in recent time taken a variety of steps to increase the production and also use of natural gas to support its economy
Some of the measures taken include:
The major policy initiatives taken by the Government during the last about four years to enhance production include, finalisation of Hydrocarbon Exploration & Licensing Policy (HELP) and Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OALP), formulation of Discovered Small Field Policy (DSF), survey of un-appraised area of sedimentary basins, setting up of National Data Repository, policy framework for exploration and exploitation of unconventional hydrocarbons, streamlining of production contracts and fiscal incentives, etc.
What is Natural gas?
Natural gas is a naturally occurring hydrocarbon gas mixture consisting primarily of methane, but commonly including varying amounts of other higher alkanes, and sometimes a small percentage of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, hydrogen sulfide, or helium.
It is formed when layers of decomposing plant and animal matter are exposed to intense heat and pressure under the surface of the Earth over millions of years. The energy that the plants originally obtained from the sun is stored in the form of chemical bonds in the gas
Natural gas is found in deep underground rock formations or associated with other hydrocarbon reservoirs in coal beds and as methane clathrates. Petroleum is another resource and fossil fuel found in close proximity to and with natural gas. Most natural gas were created over time by two mechanisms: biogenic and thermogenic. Biogenic gas is created by methanogenic organisms in marshes, bogs, landfills, and shallow sediments. Deeper in the earth, at greater temperature and pressure, thermogenic gas is created from buried organic material
‘Temperature’ (GS3: Climate change)
Issue: Earth’s global surface temperatures in 2018 were the fourth warmest since 1880 and the planet will warm further, especially since greenhouse gas emissions are continuing to rise, NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported
Globally, 2018’s temperatures ranked behind those of 2016, 2017 and 2015. The past five years are, collectively, the warmest years in modern records. Since 1880s, the average global surface temperature has risen about 1°C. This warming has been driven largely by increased carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere – caused by human activities.
Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) on expected lines changed its policy stance to ‘neutral’ from ‘calibrated tightening’ in its meeting on Thursday and also slashed repo rate by 25 bps.
Consequently, the reverse repo rate under the liquidity adjustment facility or LAF stands adjusted to 6.0 percent, and the marginal standing facility (MSF) rate and the Bank Rate to 6.5 percent.
What is MPC?
The Monetary Policy Committee of India is responsible for fixing the benchmark interest rate in India. The meetings of the Monetary Policy Committee are held at least 4 times a year and it publishes its decisions after each such meeting.
The committee comprises six members – three officials of the Reserve Bank of India and three external members nominated by the Government of India. They need to observe a “silent period” seven days before and after the rate decision for “utmost confidentiality”. The Governor of Reserve Bank of India is the chairperson ex officio of the committee. Decisions are taken by majority with the Governor having the casting vote in case of a tie. The current mandate of the committee is to maintain 4% annual inflation until March 31, 2021 with an upper tolerance of 6% and a lower tolerance of 2%
The committee was created in 2016 to bring transparency and accountability in fixing India’s Monetary Policy. The monetary policy are published after every meeting with each member explaining his opinions. The committee is answerable to the Government of India if the inflation exceeds the range prescribed for three consecutive months
What is Repo rate?
Technically, a repo is also known as “Repurchasing Option”. It is a contract in which banks provide eligible securities such as Treasury Bills to the RBI while availing overnight loans with a commitment to buy them back at a predetermined price. The interest rate charged on repo transactions is called repo rate.
What is Marginal Standing facility (MSF)?
Marginal Standing Facility is a liquidity support arrangement provided by RBI to commercial banks if the latter doesn’t have the required eligible securities above the SLR limit.
The MSF was introduced by the RBI in its monetary policy for 2011-12 after successfully test firing it from December 2010 onwards.
Under MSF, a bank can borrow one-day loans from the RBI, even if it doesn’t have any eligible securities excess of its SLR requirement (maintains only the SLR). This means that the bank can’t borrow under the repo facility.
‘Gateway of India’ (GS1: Indian History)
Issue: The Maharashtra government has initiated a plan to clean, restore and beautify the iconic Gateway of India in South Mumbai.
About the monument
The Gateway of India is an arch monument built during the 20th century. The iconic structure, which overlooks the Arabian Sea, was erected to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary at Apollo Bunder to Mumbai.
‘Mirabhai Chanu’ (Facts that can be asked in Prelims)
Issue: World champion Indian weightlifter Saikhom Mirabai Chanu Thursday notched up a gold medal at the EGAT Cup in Thailand
The 24-year-old Manipuri lifted 82kg in snatch and 110kg in clean and jerk to finish on top of the podium after recovering from the injury, which required extensive physiotherapy.
‘Deposit schemes’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the official amendments to an Act that classifies any deposit scheme not registered with the government as an offence and bans it, the government announced.
About the proposed bill
The amendments will further strengthen the Bill in its objective to effectively tackle the menace of illicit deposit-taking activities, and prevent such schemes from duping poor and gullible people of their hard-earned savings. Among the provisions is one that bans deposit takers from promoting, operating, issuing advertisements or accepting deposits in any unregulated scheme.
The Bill creates three different types of offences: (i) running of unregulated deposit schemes, (ii) fraudulent default in regulated deposit schemes, and (iii) wrongful inducement in relation to unregulated deposit schemes.
The government said the Bill provides for “severe punishment and heavy pecuniary fines” to act as a deterrent.
‘Royal rice’ (GS3: Indian agriculture)
Issue: Rajamudi, a traditional red rice variety of Old Mysore region, which was patronised by the “royals” (and hence the nomenclature), will join the league of Basmati and get a Geographical Indication (GI) tag in recognition of its unique qualities.
What is GI tag?
Geographical Indications of Goods are defined as that aspect of industrial property which refer to the geographical indication referring to a country or to a place situated therein as being the country or place of origin of that product. Typically, such a name conveys an assurance of quality and distinctiveness which is essentially attributable to the fact of its origin in that defined geographical locality, region or country. Under Articles 1 (2) and 10 of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, geographical indications are covered as an element of IPRs. They are also covered under Articles 22 to 24 of the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement, which was part of the Agreements concluding the Uruguay Round of GATT negotiations.
India, as a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), enacted the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration & Protection) Act, 1999 has come into force with effect from 15th September 2003.