Daily Current Affairs

Prelims Prominence - December 23, 2017

Bilateral Issues

INDIA – MYANMAR signs MoU for Rakhine State’s development

  • India and Myanmar signed memorandum of understanding (MoU) aimed at developing Myanmar’s Rakhine state.
  • It was signed by Foreign secretary S Jaishankar and Myanmar’s deputy minister for social welfare, relief and resettlement U Soe Aung.

Enlighten about the MoU

  • This MoU is first government to government (G2G) agreement signed by Myanmar with a cooperation partner focussed on socio-economic development and livelihood initiatives in Rakhine State.
  • It is intended to help Myanmar to achieve its objective of restoration of normalcy in Rakhine State and enable return of displaced persons.
  • Under this MoU, India has proposed to take up projects to build prefabricated housing in Rakhine State to meet immediate needs of returning people and also in Chittagong in Bangladesh.


Requisitioning and Acquisition of Immovable Property (Amendment) Bill – 2017 Passed by Lok Sabha

  • The Lok Sabha has passed Requisitioning and Acquisition of Immovable Property (Amendment) Bill, 2017 to make it easier for government to acquire immovable property for “national security and defence purpose”.
  • The Bill amends the Requisitioning and Acquisition of Immovable Property Act, 1952 and changes rules for payment of compensation.

Enlighten about the Features of Bill

  • The bill seeks to amend a provision to allow Centre to re-issue the notice of acquisition in order to ensure that the property’s owner gets an opportunity to be heard.
  • Through it, government intends to pay fair and just compensation to land owner.
  • In cases where notice has been re-issued, property owner will be entitled to interest on compensation payable to them.
  • The re-issue of notice will not apply to cases where compensation has already been awarded and accepted by the claimants.
  • The bill will have retrospective effect from March 14, 1952, the date of the enactment of the Act.

Requisitioning and Acquisition of Immovable Property Act, 1952

  • The Act provides for central government to requisition immovable property or land for any public purpose such as defence, central government offices and residences.
  • Once the purpose for which property was requisitioned is over, Central Government must returned it back to owner in good condition as it was when possession was taken.
  • The central government may acquire such requisitioned property in two cases.
  • Firstly in case central government has constructed any work at such property and right to use such work is with government.
  • Secondly incase cost of restoring requisitioned property to original condition is excessive and owner refuses to accept property without being compensated for restoring property

Cabinet Decisions

India’s First National Rail and Transportation University To come up at Vadodara

  • The Union Cabinet has approved proposal of Ministry of Railways to set up first ever National Rail and Transport University (NRTU) in Vadodara to skill its human resources and build capability.
  • The University will be set up as Deemed to Be University under de novo category as per UGC (Institutions Deemed to be Universities) Regulations, 2016.
  • The first academic program is expected to be launched in July 2018.

Enlighten about it -

  • The Ministry of Railways will set up a not-for-profit Company under Section 8 of the Companies Act, 2013 as Managing Company of proposed university.
  • The company will provide financial and infrastructural support to the university and appoint Chancellor and Pro-Chancellor of the university.
  • Board of Management of the company will comprise of professionals and academics.
  • It will be independent of Managing Company with full autonomy to perform its academic and administrative responsibilities.
  • The funding of the new University will entirely come from Ministry of Railways.
  • It will set up on existing land and infrastructure at National Academy of Indian Railways (NAIR) at Vadodara, Gujarat.
  • In its full enrolment, it is expected to have 3000 full time students.
  • Indian Railways has embarked ambitious projects such as High Speed Trains (popularly known as bullet train) between Mumbai and Ahmedabad.
  • It will include massive infrastructure modernisation, Dedicated Freight Corridors (DFCs), highest focus on safety etc. For this, Indian Railways will require high level of proficiency and skills which will be provided by the University.


STRIVE PROJECT India signs $125 Million Financing Agreement with World Bank

  • India has inked Financing Agreement with World Bank for International Development Association (IDA) Credit of US $125 million (equivalent) for Skills Strengthening for Industrial Value Enhancement Operation (STRIVE) Project.
  • The objective of project is to improve access to quality and market-driven vocational training and apprenticeships. The closing date for the project is 30th November, 2022.
  • The STRIVE Project will focus to improve on quality and the market relevance of vocational training provided in ITIs and also strengthen the apprenticeship programme through industry-cluster approach.

Result areas for project include

  • Improved Teaching and Learning
  • Improved and Broadened Apprenticeship Training.
  • Improved Performance of Industrial Training Institutes.
  • Increased Capacities of State Governments to Support Industrial Training Institutes and Apprenticeship Training.


Kimberley Process

  • The KP Plenary Session is being held at Brisbane, Australia.
  • In one of the landmark decisions favoring India’s leading position in Diamonds globally, India was appointed as the Kimberly Process (KP) Vice Chair for 2018 & Chair for 2019 in the last plenary held in Dubai in November, 2016. The EU will be KP Chair for 2018.

Enlighten About Kimberley process:

  • The Kimberley Process is an international certification scheme that regulates trade in rough diamonds.
  • It aims to prevent the flow of conflict diamonds, while helping to protect legitimate trade in rough diamonds.
  • The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) outlines the rules that govern the trade in rough diamonds.
  • The KPCS has developed a set of minimum requirements that each participant must meet.
  • The KP is not, strictly speaking, an international organisation: it has no permanent offices or permanent staff.
  • It relies on the contributions – under the principle of ‘burden-sharing’ – of participants, supported by industry and civil society observers.
  • Neither can the KP be considered as an international agreement from a legal perspective, as it is implemented through the national legislations of its participants.
  • Conflict diamonds – “Conflict Diamonds” means rough diamonds used by rebel movements or their allies to finance conflict aimed at undermining legitimate governments.
  • It is also described in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions.

Know about the process/ who involved –

  • The Kimberley Process (KP) is open to all countries that are willing and able to implement its requirements.
  • The KP has 54 participants, representing 81 countries, with the European Union and its Member States counting as a single participant.
  • KP members account for approximately 99.8% of the global production of rough diamonds.
  • In addition, the World Diamond Council, representing the international diamond industry, and civil society organisations, such as Partnership-Africa Canada, participate in the KP and have played a major role since its outset.

How it works

  • The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) imposes extensive requirements on its members to enable them to certify shipments of rough diamonds as ‘conflict-free’ and prevent conflict diamonds from entering the legitimate trade.
  • Under the terms of the KPCS, participating states must meet ‘minimum requirements’ and must put in place national legislation and institutions; export, import and internal controls; and also commit to transparency and the exchange of statistical data.
  • Participants can only legally trade with other participants who have also met the minimum requirements of the scheme, and international shipments of rough diamonds must be accompanied by a KP certificate guaranteeing that they are conflict-free.

Textile Sector

Scheme for Capacity Building in Textile Sector (SCBTS)

  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs 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.

Enlighten about it –

  • 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 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.
  • The skilling programmes would be implemented through textile Industry /Units, reputed training institutions and Institutions of Ministry of Textiles /State Governments having placement tie-ups with textile industry/units.

Bilateral Agreements

Pare Hydroelectric Plant

  • A Loan agreement and a Guarantee agreement for providing additional funding of Euro 20 million has been signed for the project ‘Pare Hydroelectric Plant’ under Indo-German Bilateral Development Cooperation.

Enlighten about the Pare Hydroelectric project:

  • The Pare Hydro Electric Project (2 x 55 MW) is planned as a run-of-the-river scheme on the Dikrong River in the Papumpare District of Arunachal Pradesh.
  • The broad objective of the project is generation of hydroelectric power for socio-economic development of the North Eastern Region.
  • The purpose of the project is efficient and ecological friendly generation of electric power.
  • This will contribute to the economic efficient generation of power, growth in the North East region and protection of global climate.


National Highways Investment Promotion Cell

  • The National Highways Authority of India has created a National Highways Investment Promotion Cell (NHIPC) for attracting domestic and foreign investment for highways projects.

CL Enlightens About NHIPC:

  • The cell will focus on engaging with global institution investors, construction companies, developers and fund managers for building investor participation in road infrastructure projects.
  • The NHIPC will be working in close co-ordination with various connected Ministries and Departments of Government of India, State Governments, Apex Business Chambers like CII, FICCI, ASSOCHAM, and InvestIndia etc.
  • NHIPC will also work in close co-ordination with Foreign Embassies and Missions in India and Indian Embassies and Missions situated in foreign countries.


Representation Of People Act

  • The Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill of 2017 has been introduced by the government in the Parliament.

CL Enlightens About the Bill

  • The Bill proposes to allow non-resident Indians (NRIs) to emerge as a decisive force in the country’s electoral politics on their own terms.
  • The amendment paves the way to remove an “unreasonable restriction” posed by Section 20A of the Representation of the People Act, which requires overseas electors to be physically present in their electoral constituencies to cast their votes.
  • Section 20A of the Act provides for registration and inclusion of overseas electors in the electoral rolls.
  • The Registration of Electors Rules, 1960 provide for overseas electors to register themselves in the electoral rolls of their respective constituencies on the basis of self-attested copies of their passport and valid visa, and exercise their franchise in person on production of the original passport at the time of voting at the specified polling booth.
  • Thus, the rules demand for the physical presence of overseas electors in their respective polling stations in India on the day of polling.
  • This causes hardship to the overseas electors. This amendment proposes facilitating an external mode of voting, that is, voting by proxy, whereby such electors can exercise their franchise from their places of residence abroad.

National Service Scheme

  • The President Shri Ram Nath Kovind recently presented National Service Scheme Awards 2016-17.

CL Enlightens NSS Awards:

  • The objective of NSS Awards is to recognize and reward outstanding contributions towards voluntary community service made by the Universities/ Senior Secondary (+2) Councils, NSS Units/ Programme Officers and NSS Volunteers, with a view to further promote NSS.

About National Service Scheme (NSS):

  • NSS is a Centrally Sector Scheme.
  • The Scheme was launched in the year 1969 with the primary objective of developing the personality and character of the student youth through voluntary community service.
  • The ideological orientation of the NSS is inspired by the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi. Very appropriately, the motto of NSS is “NOT ME, BUT YOU”

Programme Structure

  • NSS is being implemented in Senior Secondary Schools, Colleges and Universities.
  • The design of the NSS envisages that each educational institution covered under the Scheme has at least one NSS unit comprising of normally 100 student volunteers, led by a teacher designated as Programme Officer (PO).
  • Each NSS unit adopts a village or slum for taking up its activities.

Nature of Activities under NSS

  • Briefly, the NSS volunteers work on issues of social relevance, which keep evolving in response to the needs of the community, through regular and special camping activities.
  • Such issues include (i) literacy and education, (ii) health, family welfare and nutrition, (iii) environment conservation, (iv) social service programmes, (v) programmes for empowerment of women, (vi) programmes connected with economic development activities, (vii) rescue and relief during calamities, etc.


Date Sharing

  • In a move aimed at combating black money stashed abroad, India has signed an agreement with Switzerland that would allow automatic sharing of tax- related information from January 1 next year.

CL Enlightens:

  • So far, India had to ask Switzerland for specific bits of information by proving that a valid inquiry was on against the account holder.
  • The Swiss could delay or deny the information altogether.
  • A joint declaration for the implementation of Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI) was signed last month between the two sides here and it provided that both countries would start collecting data in accordance with the global standards in 2018 and exchange it from 2019 onwards.
  • The AEOI conforms to a norm set by global economic body the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) for tax transparency.
  • While Switzerland has conformed to the global standards on automatic exchange of information with the signing of the declaration, India, on its part, has promised to safeguard the confidentiality of the data

Digital India

Darpan Project

  • DARPAN – “Digital Advancement of Rural Post Office for A New India” Project has been launched to improve the quality of service, add value to services and achieve “financial inclusion” of un-banked rural population.

CL Enlightens

  • This IT modernization project 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.
  • So far, 43,171 Branch Post Offices have migrated under the “DARPAN”project with 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.