Glance News – 27.10.2017

Important Days – Current affairs

  1. 71ST Infantry Day Celebrations

Background:

Infantry celebrates 27 October each year as the Infantry Day to commemorate the first Infantry action post independence. In response to the threat posed to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our Nation, on this day in 1947, the leading elements of the Indian Army from 1st Battalion of the SIKH Regiment, air landed at Srinagar.

This bold action by the Indian Army and resolve displayed by the Infantrymen reversed the tide of events and thwarted the nefarious designs of Pakistani Raiders aided by the Pakistan Army.

Rashtriya Ekta Diwas (National Unity Day)

The Government observes 31st October all over the country as a day of special occasion, to foster and reinforce the Government’s dedication to preserve and strengthen unity, integrity and security of our nation, by celebrating it as Rashtriya Ekta Diwas to commemorate the birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, one of the founding fathers of the Republic of India.

Rashtriya Ekta Diwas (National Unity Day) was introduced by the Government of India and inaugurated by Indian Prime MinisterNarendra Modi in 2014. The intent is to pay tribute to Vallabhbhai Patel, who was instrumental in keeping India united.

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Paper2 : Aspects of Governance, Ease of doing business

The Union Finance Minister, Shri Arun Jaitley launches the mandatory use of Public Finance Management System (PFMS) for all Central Sector Schemes; States that PFMS would ensure that the benefits of the various Government Schemes reach to the last mile; Hopes that soon PFMS will progress towards a Government wide Integrated Financial Management System (GIFMIS) – as a comprehensive Payment, Receipt and Accounting System.

Background: Public Financial Management System (PFMS) initially started as a Plan scheme named CPSMS of the Planning Commission in 2008-09 as a pilot in four States of Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Punjab and Mizoram for four Flagship schemes e.g. MGNREGS, NRHM, SSA and PMGSY. After the initial phase of establishing a network across Ministries / Departments, it has been decided to undertake National rollout of CPSMS (PFMS) to link the financial networks of Central, State Governments and the agencies of State Governments. The scheme was included in 12th Plan initiative of Planning Commission and Ministry of Finance.

Modules developed /under development by PFMS for stakeholders as per the Union Cabinet above mandate are as under:
I.Fund Flow Monitoring
(a) Agency registration
(b) Expenditure management and fund utilisation through PFMS EAT module
(c) Accounting Module for registered agencies
(d) Treasury Interface
(e) PFMS-PRI fund flow and utilization interface
(f) Mechanism for State Governments towards fund tracking for State schemes
(g) Monitoring of Externally Aided Projects (EAP):
II. Direct Benefit Transfer DBT modules
(a) PAO to beneficiaries (b) Agency to beneficiaries (c) State treasuries to beneficiaries
III. Interfaces for Banking
(a) CBS (b) India Post (c) RBI (d) NABARD & Cooperative Banks

Paper2 &3 – Policies; Science and Technology

The identity Puzzle

The law commission submitted a draft bill – DNA based Technology (Use and Regulation)Bill, 2017.

Pupose of the Bill: To appropriate legal mechanisms with regard to identifying missin persons, victims of disasters etc., the DNA bill seeks to regulate human DNA profiling and establishes standard procedures for DNA testing.

Salient Features:

  1. It includes the constitution of statutory body called DNA profiling board or DNA data bank.
  2. The board features a framework of guidelines for training police and other investigating agencies dealing with DNA related matters.
  3. Also includes giving advice on all ethical and human rights issues relating to DNA testing in consonance within international guidelines. It will recommend research and development activities in DNA testing and related issues.

Violators of the provisions will be liable for punishment of imprisonment which may extend up tp three years and also fine which may extend upto 2 lakh rupees.

Paper 3: Paper 3: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc

‘India has to spend ₹50 lakh cr on infra’

India would need to spend about ₹50 lakh crore between fiscal 2018 and 2022 to build its infrastructure in a sustainable manner, rating agency Crisil said.

India will see close to ₹3,000 crore investment per day in infrastructure sector, and 56% more than the ₹37 lakh crore projected spend between fiscals 2013 and 2017.

Situation:

  • Investments by the private sector and states are likely to remain subdued in the near term.
  • The takeover of distribution utility losses under the Ujjwal Discom Assurance Yojana (UDAY) and the recent agri-loan waivers have further strained state finances.
  • Irrational bidding exuberance
  • Poorly structured contracts with inappropriate risk allocation
  • Over reliance on bank-led financing leading to deeply indebted developers and gargantuan stressed assets in banking.
  • inappropriate risk allocation

Measures:

  • To resolve the issue of non-performing assets NPAs
  • To revive stalled projects
  • To facilitate easier exits
  • Front-ending of bankable projects
  • Comprehensive retooling of public-private partnership frameworks – introduce calibrated public-private partnership (PPP) models such as hybrid annuity and toll-operate-transfer in highway
  • Deepening of the infrastructure financing ecosystem.

CRISIL launched the CRISIL InfraInvex, India’s first investability index that tracks, measures and assesses the development, maturity and investment attractiveness of infrastructure sectors, along with the CRISIL Infrastructure Yearbook 2017, a first-of-its-kind annual publication.

  • For years now, the government has been doing the heavy lifting in terms of infrastructure However, having only the public investment cylinder firing is not good enough. Accelerating private sector investments is an essential complementarity, and the other cylinder that needs to fire.
  • The CRISIL Infrastructure Yearbook 2017 underlines this aspect, and says India needs to spend at least Rs 50 lakh crore between fiscals 2018 and 2022 to build out its infrastructure sustainably.

Paper2: India and its neighbourhood relations

India, Sri Lanka ink housing project deal in Hambantota

Sri Lanka signed an agreement with India to build 1,200 houses in the southern port city- Hambantota. Of the 1,200 houses to be built, 600 will be constructed in the Southern Province, while the remaining would be built across Sri Lanka, through one model village in each of the country’s 25 districts.

Background:

The coastal city of Hambantota gained strategic significance after President Rajapaksa built a massive port and an airport with huge Chinese loans. In July this year, his successor government sold a majority stake of the port to China to service an outstanding $8-billion debt it owes China, fanning concerns of countries with competing strategic interests, particularly India and the U.S. Local residents protested the selling of “national assets to foreign entities” leading to violent clashes.

Significance:

  • Hambantota is right in the middle of vital energy supply lines in the Indian Ocean, connecting the Middle East and East Asia
  • The signing of the MoU in Hambantota assumes significance not only in its timing, but also in taking India’s housing project to the Sinhala-majority Southern Province.
  • India has been taking steps to protect itself in the Indian Ocean by allying itself with the United States and Japan in a clear bid to counter growing Chinese influence

Hambantota:

Hambantota is the main town in Hambantota District, Southern Province, Sri Lanka. This underdeveloped area was hit hard by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and is underwent a number of major development projects including the construction of a new sea port and international airport.

 Glance news:

  1. Taylors rule: In economics, a Taylor ruleis a reduced form approximation of the responsiveness of the nominal interest rate, as set by the central bank, to changes in inflation, output, or other economic conditions
    • It was proposed by American economist John Taylor as a tool to conduct rules-based monetary policy. The Taylor rule is often proposed as a solution to the problem of discretion involved in the framing of monetary policy due to the influence of political populism. It provides a formula to determine how much a central bank should target an increase or decrease in interest rates depending on the economy’s health.
  2. The Indian passport has fared poorly at the 75th position in a global ranking, which saw an Asian country, Singapore, ranking at first position for the first time.
  3. The Passport Index’ Global Passport Power Rank 2017 ranks India, according to its passport’s total visa-free score, below countries like Mali, Madagascar, Gabon, and Comoros, which all had a visa-free score of 52. India, according to the index, has a visa-free score of 51.
  4. But, how does the index, developed by global financial advisory firm Arton Capital, work and why does India fare so poorly? The ranking is based on an analysis of the access various passports have to countries around the world, with a passport’s “visa-free score” representing the number of countries its holder can visit visa-free or with visa on arrival.
  5. In India’s case, 24 countries allow its passport holders visa-free entry and 27 provide visa on arrival.This comparitively low number has led to the Indian passport’s low ranking.
  6. The bottom five nations on the list are Afghanistan, which ranked 94th with a visa-free score of 22; Pakistan and Iraq both at 93 with a score of 26; Syria at 92 with a score of 29; and Somalia 91 with a score of 34.
  7. In our immediate neighbourhood, India fared better than Bangladesh (ranked at 90 with a score of 35), Nepal and Sri Lanka (both ranked at 89 with a score of 36), Bhutan (ranked at 76 with a score of 50), Myanmar (ranked at 84 with a score of 41), and, as mentioned above, Pakistan.
  8. Our northern neighbour China came in at rank 67 with a visa-free score of 60.
  9. Singapore’s passport has been announced as the most powerful in the world as it secured the top spot in the index’ most powerful ranking with a visa-free score of 159.
  10. This is the first time an Asian country has been announced as having the most powerful passport, according to the Passport Index.
  11. The index says that Singapore passport holders enjoy visa-free access to 173 countries.
  12. The ranking has come after Paraguay eased its visa requirement for Singaporean passport holders.
  13. Germany and Sweden ranked second and third, with a score of 158 and 157, respectively.
  14. The passports of 193 United Nations member countries and six territories were considered.
  15. Historically, the top 10 most powerful passports in the world tend to be European, with Germany in the lead for the past two years, according to a press release issued on October 25.
  16. Since early 2017, the top position was shared with Singapore, which was steadily moving up the ranks.
  17. Other Asian passports in the top 20 include those of South Korea, Japan, and Malaysia.
  18. On the other hand, the United States passport has fallen in the ranking since President Donald Trump took office, according to the index.
  19. Turkey and the Central African Republic revoked their visa-free status to US passport holders, recently.
  20. Singapore was also fourth this year in the Visa Restrictions Index, another ranking of travel freedom, which uses a different method of calculating how “powerful” a passport is.

Sources Courtesy: [PIB;HINDU;Business Standard;Economic Times]

 

 

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