Daily Current Affairs

Prelims Prominence - December 22, 2017

Cabinet Decisions

Cabinet approves "Scheme for Capacity Building in Textiles Sector (SCBTS)" for the period from 2017-18 to 2019-20

  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for a new skill development scheme covering the entire value chain of the textile sector excluding Spinning & Weaving in organized Sector, titled "Scheme for Capacity Building in Textile Sector (SCBTS)" from 2017-18 to 2019-20 with an outlay of Rs. 1300 crore.
  • The scheme will have National Skill Qualification Framework (NSQF) compliant training courses with funding norms as per the Common Norms notified by Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE).
  • The objectives of the scheme are to provide demand driven, placement oriented skilling programme to incentivize the efforts of the industry in creating jobs in the organized textile and related sectors; to promote skilling and skill up-gradation in the traditional sectors through respective Sectoral Divisions/organizations of Ministry of Textiles; and to provide livelihood to all sections of the society across the country.
  • The scheme will be implemented for the benefit of all sections of the society across the country including rural, remote, LWE affected, North East, J&K by imparting skills in the identified job roles.
  • Preference will be given to various social groups, SC, ST, differently abled, minorities and other vulnerable groups.
  • Under previous scheme of skill development implemented by the Ministry of Textiles in the XII Plan period, more than 10 lakh people have been trained of which more than 70% were women.
  • Considering that the apparel industry, a major segment to be covered under the scheme, employs majorly women (about 70%), the trend is likely to be continued in the new scheme.
  • 10 lakh people are expected to be skilled and certified in various segments of Textile Sector through the scheme, out of which 1 lakh will be in traditional sectors.

Background:

  • The Integrated Skill Development Scheme (ISDS) was introduced by Ministry of Textiles as a pilot scheme in the last two years of XI Five Year Plan with an outlay of Rs. 272 crore, including Rs. 229 crore as Government contribution with a physical target to train 2.56 lakh persons.
  • The scheme was scaled up as main phase during the 12th FYP with an allocation of Rs. 1,900 crore to train 15 lakh persons.
  • ISDS addresses the critical gap of skilled manpower in textile industry through industry-oriented training programmes.
  • It is implemented through three components where major thrust is given to PPP mode where a forged partnership has been developed with the industry in establishing a demand driven skilling ecosystem.

Rural Development

Darpan Launched For Financial Inclusion Of Rural Population

  • The Minister of Communications Shri Manoj Sinha today launched DARPAN – “Digital Advancement of Rural Post Office for A New India” Project to improve the quality of service, add value to services and achieve “financial inclusion” of un-banked rural population.
  • The goal of the IT modernization project with an outlay of Rs. 1400 Crore is to provide a low power technology solution to each Branch Postmaster (BPM) which will enable each of approximately 1.29 Lakhs Branch Post Offices (BOs) to improve the level of services being offered to rural customers across all the states
  • The “DARPAN”projectwith the aim of financial inclusion to rural population and it is targeted to complete the project by March, 2018.
  • The Project shall increase the rural reach of the Department of Posts and enable BOs to increase traffic of all financial remittances, savings accounts, Rural Postal Life Insurance, and Cash Certificates; improve mail operations processes by allowing for automated booking and delivery of accountable article; increase revenue using retail post business; provide third party applications; and make disbursements for social security schemes such as MGNREGS.

The IT modernization project intends to achieve the following:

  • Wider reach to the Indian populace through more customer interaction channels Better customer service
  • Growth through new lines of business
  • IT enablement of business processes and support functions

Report

Increase in ceasefire violations by 230 %

  • According to government, there was a 230% increase in ceasefire violations along the Line of Control (LoC) this year compared with the 2016 figure

Enlighten about it -

  • The 740-km LoC is under the operational control of the Army and 192 km of the International Border in Jammu is manned by the Border Security Force
  • The truce between India and Pakistan along the IB, the LoC and the Actual Ground Position Line in Jammu and Kashmir came into force in November 2003
  • The government also released data on the impact of demonetisation on terror incidents
  • Terror incidents showed an increase in Jammu and Kashmir in 2017 in comparison with last year

Bills

e – way bill

  • Starting February 1, all inter-State movement of goods worth over Rs. 50,000 will be tracked with the introduction of the e-way bill system under the GST regime

Enlighten about e-way Bill -

  • It is an electronically generated document which is required to be generated for the movements of goods
  • All consignments moving more than 10 km from their origin will require prior registration and generation of an e-way bill through the GST Network
  • It will be valid for varying durations depending on the distance travelled

Intra-state e-way bill system

  • A few States have already imposed their own requirements for such bills since the GST roll-out in July
  • And all States have to implement the bill system for capturing intra-State trade by June 1
  • Therefore, a fully integrated tracking system for all taxable goods can be expected only then

Bone of contention -

  • This poses an interim headache for firms operating across States
  • As they will now face differing compliance requirements for inter-State trade and intra-State trade, depending on when individual States launch their own e-way bill systems (Note: Inter-State movement of goods was also tracked under the VAT (value-added tax) regime, but intra-State transactions were not)

Relaxation for some products

  • Over 150 items of common use, including LPG cylinders, vegetables, foodgrain and jewellery, will be exempt from such transport permits
  • Goods moved on non-motorised conveyance, such as carts, have been left out

Issue related to low GST collection

  • After a monthly Rs. 90,000 crore-plus inflow in the GST’s first three months, revenue in October plummeted to just over Rs. 83,000 crore
  • With States claiming a revenue shortfall of about Rs. 40,000 crore so far under the GST, the Centre, which has to fill that gap, is also feeling the stress

Winter Session Of Parliament

Bills to be tables in the winter session

1. The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2016

  • It seeks to amend the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 by incorporating clauses to introduce third-party insurance, enhance road safety, and develop a framework for regulating taxi aggregators like Ola, Uber, and Meru
  • The Bill proposes to set a ceiling for third party insurance in case of an accident
  • The Bill caps liability at Rs.10 lakh in the case of fatalities, and Rs.5 lakh for grievous injuries
  • A solatium fund is to be instituted to compensate victims of hit-and-run accidents

2. The Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance (FRDI) Bill

  • The FRDI Bill is aimed at insuring the money of a bank’s depositors in case the bank would have to be liquidated
  • The FRDI Bill proposes the setting up of a Resolution Corporation, “whose direction and management vests with the Board, subject to the terms and conditions of the Act”
  • A ‘Corporation Insurance Fund’ is the financial vehicle which will be used to garner insurance inflows
  • The bail-in clause has emerged as the major bone of contention with depositors
  • This gives banks the authority to issue securities in lieu of the money deposited

The Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill, 2017

  • This Bill seeks to assimilate the Indian diaspora into the democratic process by allowing them to cast their votes through postal or e-ballots
  • If the Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill, 2017 is passed by Parliament, it has the potential to make a tangible difference in electoral politics
  • This is because parties would also have to accommodate the interests of NRIs, which may be far removed from those of their compatriots

The Constitution (123rd Amendment) Bill, 2017

  • It is being re-introduced after factoring in the changes recommended by the Upper House
  • The basic objective of the law is to institute the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC)
  • Its functioning would be analogous to that of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) and the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes
  • The Constitution grants NCSC the jurisdiction to investigate complaints regarding discrimination against backward castes and Anglo-Indians
  • The Bill will create a constitutionally mandated body to look into the complaints of educationally and economically backward classes
  • The body will have the power of a civil court in dealing with complaints brought before it

The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017

  • This law would make the practice of triple talaq a criminal offense
  • Triple talaq is a practice by which a Muslim man can arbitrarily divorce his wife by repeating the word talaq (divorce) three times
  • The Supreme Court had termed triple ‘un-Islamic’ in August

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016

  • The bill seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955 and grant citizenship to illegal migrants, especially those from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, and are of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian extraction
  • The law defines an illegal migrant as a foreigner who enters the country without valid travel documents or one who overstays his visit
  • A foreigner who has been residing in the country for the past six years or has been in government service for that duration of time will qualify for citizenship, as opposed to the old law which required 11 years of domicile to prove naturalization
  • This clause is waived for individuals of the aforementioned religions who are persecuted in their countries

The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016

  • The Rights of Transgender Persons Bill, 2014, was introduced as a Private Member’s Bill in 2014
  • The 2016 version of the legislation identifies transgenders as being “partly female or male, or a combination of female and male; or neither female nor male”
  • This definition which draws a clinical caricature is a departure from the intention of the original Bill to cleanse society of the stigma it placed on transgenders
  • The anti-discriminatory clauses of the Bill are extended to education, healthcare, and social security
  • Transgenders will also be provided rescue, protection, and rehabilitation
  • Educational institutions have been directed to adopt an inclusive approach that is gender-neutral

Bilateral Exercise

Oceanographic Survey
India – Sri Lanka completed 2nd phase of it

  • Indian Navy in collaboration with Sri Lankan counterpart has successfully completed second phase of joint oceanographic survey conducted off the South Western Coast of Sri Lanka.
  • The Indian side has handed over the survey charts to the Commander of the Sri Lankan Navy.
  • The survey had commenced in October with the arrival of Indian Naval Ship Sutlej in Sri Lanka.

Enlighten about the survey -

  • The aim of the joint survey was to update all navigational charts covering the southern Sri Lankan waters with the latest hydrographic data.
  • The survey was extended to depth contour of 200 m from coastline, ranging from Colombo to Galle.
  • The move is expected to benefit international shipping traffic passing along southern coast of Sri Lanka and will pave way for blue economy.
  • It is also expected to enhance level of navigational safety of all ships visiting Sri Lanka.

Enlighten about the background -

  • The first phase of the joint survey was conducted from March to May 2017 and the third phase is scheduled to be carried out next year. It was undertaken by Indian Naval ship INS Darshak, which is an indigenously designed and constructed vessel fitted with the latest state of the art survey equipment.
  • The task in first phase also included imparting of extensive training to the Sri Lankan Navy personnel who were embarked onboard ship to assist in capacity building of Sri Lankan Navy’s Hydrographic Department. he third phase is expected to be undertaken in 2018.

Bills

Centre Road Fund (Amendment) Bill – 2017
Passed by Lok Sabha

  • The Lok Sabha has unanimously passed Central Road Fund (Amendment) Bill, 2017.
  • The Bill seeks to amend the Central Road Fund (CRF) Act, 2000.
  • The CRF Act regulates Central Road Fund (CRF) into which cess levied and collected on high speed petrol and diesel is credited for development of national and state highways.

Enlighten about Central Road Fund (CRF)

  • CRF was established to fund development and maintenance of National Highways, State Highways and Rural roads by the Government.
  • In order to mobilise the fund, the CRF Act has proposed to levy and collect cess on petrol and high speed diesel oil.
  • The fund is utilised for development and maintenance of National highways, State Highways, Rural roads and also road overbridges, under bridges and other safety features at unmanned Railway Crossings.

Enlighten about the Features of the Bill

  • The Bill seeks to allocate share of this cess towards development of inland waterways.
  • The Bill defines national waterways as those under National Waterways Act, 2016.
  • Currently, 111 waterways are specified under this Act.
  • Utilization of fund: The Bill provides that in addition to utilization of this fund for various road projects, it will also be used for the development and maintenance of national waterways.
  • Power of central government: The Bill expands power of central government for administering the fund for the purpose of investment decisions for national waterways as well.
  • Allocation of cess: The Bill decreases allocation of cess towards development and maintenance of national highways from 41.5% to 39%.
  • It allocates 2.5% of cess towards development and maintenance of national waterways.

Companies amendment Bill, 2017
Passed by Parliament

  • The Parliament has passed Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2017 to strengthen corporate governance standards, initiate strict action against defaulting companies and help improve ease of doing business in the country,
  • The bill provides for more than 40 amendments to Companies Act, 2013.
  • It will help in simplifying procedures, make compliance easy and take stringent action against defaulting companies.

Enlighten about the Features of Bill

  • Group company structure and compliance procedures: The bill has changed definitions relating to ‘holding company’, ‘subsidiary company’, ‘associate company’.
  • It will have impact on group company structure and compliance procedures.
  • Compliance procedures and approval mechanism: It enhances scope of compliance procedures and approval mechanism of Related Party Transaction of related parties.
  • Shares on private placement basis: It amends this provision in parent Act. It will have impact on both – private companies and public companies.
  • Maintenance of Register of significant beneficial owners in a company: The bill adds this new provision. Besides, changes provisions relating to board meetings and shareholders’ meetings, based on operational and compliance issues faced by the corporates.
  • Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR): The amendment to CSR provisions are particularly related to its applicability and constitution of CSR. It takes into account the interpretational and operational issues.
  • Resident Director and Independent Director: It provides for clarity in applicability and role of Resident Director and Independent Director. Further it elaborated ‘Pecuniary relationship’ in relation to independent directors.
  • Loans to Directors: The bill substitutes entire section relating to ‘Loans to Directors’ under the Companies Act, 2013. It introduces certain checks and balances by way of approval process and for enabling ‘loans to directors’, in certain cases.
  • Managerial Remuneration: It liberalises provision related to Managerial Remuneration. It replaces requirement of Central Government approval by requirement of approval of shareholders, secured creditors and non-convertible debenture holders, as the case maybe.
  • Auditors Report: It mandates requirement that Statutory Auditor of company to report in its Auditors Report on compliance of provisions of managerial remuneration and whether remuneration paid to any director is in excess of prescribed limits.

Environment

Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Project
Gets Environmental clearance

  • The Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) of Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has accorded environmental clearance for Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Project (KLIP) in Telangana.
  • The project is to build at estimated to cost about Rs. 80,499.7 crore and proposed to be completed in three years.
  • It is the costliest irrigation project to be taken up by any state in the country.

Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Project (KLIP)

  • The KLIP envisages construction of barrage across Godavari River after the confluence by its tributary Pranahita near Madigadda village in Telangana’s Karimnagar district.
  • It is redesigned version of Pranahitha-Chevella Lift Irrigation Scheme, proposed in 2007 by the undivided Andhra Pradesh Government.
  • The KLIP aims to divert 180 TMC of water for providing irrigation facility in 7.38 lakh hectares covering seven districts of Adilabad, Nizamabad, Karimnagar, Medak, Warangal, Nalgonda and Rangareddy districts.
  • It also proposes to stabilise existing command area of 7.62 lakh hectares. It will also provide drinking water facility for Hyderabad and Secunderabad.
  • Under the KLIP, two more barrages between Medigadda and Sripada Yellampally are proposed to be constructed apart from Medigadda barrage.
  • The project will have canal system of about 1,832 km. The 81 km long tunnel built between Yellampally barrage and Mallannasagar reservoir under this project will be the longest tunnel to carry water in Asia after completion.

NITI Aayog

Methanol Economy Fund
To be set up by NITI Aayog

  • The National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog is planning to set up Methanol Economy Fund worth Rs 4,000-5,000 crore to promote production and use of the clean fuel.
  • The fund will be utilized for generation of cheaper, safer and pollution free methanol fuel by converting high ash content coal and stranded gas assets into methanol.

Enlighten about it –

  • The Niti Aayog has planned has planned to set up production plants.
  • It expects that two plants can be commissioned in the next 3-4 years.
  • The first coal-based methanol plant will be set up in West Bengal by world’s largest coal miner Coal India Ltd (CIL).
  • The government think tank is also proposing road map to achieve its target of increasing penetration of methanol as alternative fuel to petrol and diesel.
  • The roadmap will be applicable from January 2018.
  • Under it, NITI Aayog proposes ramping up facilities to convert Coal, Stranded Gas and Biomass to methanol.
  • NITI Aayog is also working on converting certain diesel-powered rail engines to work on methanol.
  • It also has planned to ensure that boats and ships used in inland waterways initiative are also run on methanol.

Methanol

  • Methanol can be used as energy producing fuel, transportation fuel and cooking fuel.
  • It will help in cutting down India’s oil import bill by estimated 20% over next few years.
  • It is simplest alcohol and does not have carbon-carbon bond and therefore does not emit particulate matter (PM) which causes pollution.
  • It can be easily produced from renewable sources which include forest residue, bio waste generated from houses, agriculture waste, biodegradable waste from other sources.
  • Unlike CNG, using methanol as transportation fuel requires minimal inexpensive alteration in vehicle engines so that they work as methanol engines.
  • China is currently world’s largest producer of methanol. India’s current installed capacity of methanol production is 0.47 million tonne and total domestic production is 0.2 million tonne.
  • The total methanol consumption of country was 1.8 million tonne in 2016.

Defence

HAMESHA VIJAYEE
Southern Command’s exercise in Rajasthan

  • The Southern Command of Indian Army conducted major army exercise called ‘Hamesha Vijayee’ in deserts of Rajasthan from December 16 to 22, 2017.
  • The purpose of the exercise was to evaluate capability of armed forces to strike deep into enemy territory in an integrated air-land battle.
  • The Southern Command (hearquaters Pune) undertakes such exercises at regular intervals to ensure high degree of battle readiness as well as validation of operational plans using modern weapons and equipment.

Renewable Energy

Indian Railways plans to make all stations 100% LED lit by March - 2018

  • The Union Ministry of Railways in an eco-friendly measure to reduce power consumption, has planned to make all stations 100% LED lit by March 2018.
  • Under this initiative, the national transporter will provide 100% LED lighting for energy needs in railway staff colonies, stations and platforms.

Enlighten about it –

  • Till November 2017, about 3,500 railway stations have already been provided with 100% LED lights.
  • About 20 lakh such lights were installed. The national transporter also aims at providing these lights on all coaches and EMUs (Electric Multiple Units).
  • Moreover, the lights in 1300 non-AC second-class and 3-tier sleeper coaches have been fully converted to LED.
  • The Indian Railways has also issued directives to Zonal Railways to provide LED light fittings to residential quarters.