Daily Current Affairs

Prelims Prominence - December 28, 2017

Ministry Of Heavy Industries & Public Enterprises

Government push for Electric Vehicles
10 Cities selected for pilot project of Multi-Modal Electric Public Transport under FAME India

  • The Minister of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises Shri Anant Geete has announced today that the Government is providing Rs 437 crore subsidy to 11 cities under FAME India, for launching electric buses, taxis and three-wheelers.
  • The cities include Delhi, Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Jaipur, Mumbai, Lucknow, Hyderabad, Indore and Kolkata, plus two cities – Jammu and Guwahati under special category.
  • The nine big cities in the list will be given subsidy for 40 buses each while Jammu and Guwahati will get for 15 buses each.
  • Subsidy for taxis will be given to Ahmedabad ( 20 taxis), Bangalore (100 taxis), Indore ( 50 taxis) and Kolkata (200 taxis) – based on their demand.
  • Bangalore will get subsidy for 500 three wheelers, Indore for 200 and Ahmedabad for 20. This comes to a total of 390 buses, 370 taxis and 720 three wheelers.
  • This announcement has been made during the second half of December, when the Department of Heavy Industry is observing “Swachhata Pakhawada” under Clean India Mission.

Enlighten about FAME India Scheme –

  • The Department of Heavy Industry is the Department which is administering the scheme “Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric and Hybrid Vehciles in India”, popularly known as FAME India scheme since 01st April 2015.
  • The present effort is a significant boost to electric mobility with the aim to roll out a number of electric buses, electric three-wheelers and electric shared cabs for multi-modal public transport.

North-East Development

NHAD and other projects

  • The budget line of Viable Gap Funding for Air Services in the North Eastern Region has been transferred from Ministry of DoNER to Ministry of Civil Aviation.
  • In principle, approval for an amount of Rs.90 crore has been granted by Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance to the proposed ‘Hill Area Development Programme’ (HADP).
  • The Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region has been assigned the function of coordinating the efforts of the Government for development of the North Eastern Region.
  • The measures taken by the Ministry supplement the efforts of concerned Ministries and State Governments and, inter alia, includes coordinating with Central Ministries/Departments for ensuring enhanced and efficient utilization of their respective annual earmarked allocation for the Region, providing gap funding for infrastructure projects, skill development and capacity building and livelihood programmes.
  • As the regional planning body for the region, North Eastern Council (NEC) has been taking up several infrastructure and social sector projects deemed to be of critical importance for socio-economic development of the region.
  • Non-Lapsable Central Pool of Resources (NLCPR) scheme, supported by 10% Gross Budgetary Support (GBS) of non-exempted Ministries/Departments, is also in place to ensure speedy development of social and economic infrastructure in the NER.

Department of Space

Development of Space Science

Year wise details of innovative projects undertaken in the last three years are as below:

  • 2014-15 Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM): Launched on September 24, 2014, has made ISRO, the fourth Space agency in the world to reach Mars orbit. Initially designed for six months, MOM is still continuing and sending important data for scientific studies.
  • 2015-16 AstroSat: Launched on September 28, 2015, is a unique satellite providing common platform for simultaneous multi-wavelength observations of celestial sources. It has completed more than two years and performing.
  • 2016-17 RLV-TD: It was successfully flight tested on May 23, 2016. It is the most technologically challenging endeavors of ISRO towards developing essential technologies for a fully reusable launch vehicle to enable low cost access to space.
  • 2016-17 ScramJet: The first experimental mission of ISRO's Scramjet engine towards the realisation of an Air Breathing Propulsion System was successfully conducted on August 28, 2016. Future Reusable launch vehicle together with Air Breathing propulsion system will bring down the cost of access to space far low.
  • ISRO has worked out a 3 year action plan, 7 year strategy and 15 year long term vision for Space Programme, under four vertical, namely, (i) Space transportation system, (ii) Space infrastructure, (iii) Space applications, (iv) Capacity building.
  • International cooperation is a part of India's space programme since its inception. In the past, ISRO has developed Meghatropiques and SARAL satellites in cooperation with French space agency CNES. Currently ISRO and NASA are working jointly on NISAR (NASA ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar) project.
  • Bilateral cooperation with foreign countries/institutions in the field of space science and research helps in analysis of data, identification of key areas for future missions and utilisation of space and ground based resources.
  • Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has taken several measures to promote scientific research by the Indian scientists especially the youth, which include:

a. ISRO Space Science Promotion Scheme (ISRO-SSPS) intended towards supporting and strengthening of research in space science in universities.
b. ISRO's Sponsored Research (RESPOND) Programme involves academic institutions for joint research to meet specific requirements in area of space technology, space science and space applications.
c. Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (lIST), Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) and National Atmospheric Research laboratory (NARL) established under Department of Space encourages young researchers to undertake research in space science and technology.
d. Space Technology Cell was set up by ISRO at premiere institutions like IIT Bombay, IIT Kanpur, IIT Kharagpur, IIT Madras, IISc Bangalore and University of Pune to carry out research activities in the areas of space technology and applications.

National

Centre moves SC against fixed term for police chiefs

  • The Union government has filed an interlocutory application in the Supreme Court to amend a 2006 order of the court that is being used by the States to appoint “favourites” as Directors-General of Police.

Enlighten about the issue –

  • A 2006 court order ensured a two-year fixed term for the DGPs.
  • The court issued the order for a fixed two-year term for the DGPs after Prakash Singh, former DGP of Uttar Pradesh, filed a petition on police reforms.
  • However, some States are misusing the order and appointing officers about to retire, giving them a fixed term of two years, irrespective of the superannuation date.
  • Most of the time these appointments are done for political gains as the officer will be obliged to return favours. The implementation of the order is not monitored effectively.
  • The All India Services Act, 1951, bars any officer from remaining in office after retirement, unless cleared by the Centre.
  • The Home Ministry is the cadre-controlling authority for IPS officers, and the Supreme Court order is being increasingly misused by the States to appoint officers close to the regime.

Need for fixed tenure

  • Transfers are often used as instruments of reward and punishment, with officials being frequently transferred on the whims and caprices as well as the personal needs of local politicians and other vested interests.
  • Officers, especially those in the All India Services, serving in state governments, have no stability or security of tenure./

Agriculture

Fund to help milk co-ops expand capacity

  • The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development will soon get going on a Rs 8,000-crore fund that the finance minister announced in this year’s budget to support the dairy sector.
  • Under the Dairy Processing and Infrastructure Development Fund, Nabard is the nodal agency to finance projects over a period of three years.

Enlighten about the fund –

  • After Operation Flood which ended in 1990, this is the biggest dairy development programme.
  • It will surely help small dairy cooperatives in states like Punjab, Haryana and Bihar where there is huge scope of expansion.
  • The fund would help dairy cooperative in setting up modern milk processing infrastructure, expanding product portfolio and ensuring optimum value for their products.

Significance of this move:

  • NABARD targets to sanction proposals to create new milk processing capacity of 27 million litres per day in the cooperative sector this year.
  • With this investment, the milk processing capacity (in the cooperative sector) would increase from the current 66 million litres per day to 92.6 million litres per day.
  • Further, the bulk milk-chilling capacity would go up from 48 million litres per day to 63 million litres.

Background

  • The dairy processing infrastructure of cooperatives needs modernisation and capacity enhancement, and with most cooperatives sharing their profits with milk producers, they need support.

Enlighten about NABARD

  • It is an apex development and specialized bank established on 12 July 1982 by an act by the parliament of India.
  • Its main focus is to uplift rural India by increasing the credit flow for elevation of agriculture & rural non farm sector.
  • It was established based on the recommendations of the Committee set up by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) under the chairmanship of Shri B. shivaraman.
  • It replaced the Agricultural Credit Department (ACD) and Rural Planning and Credit Cell (RPCC) of Reserve Bank of India, and Agricultural Refinance and Development Corporation (ARDC).
  • It has been accredited with “matters concerning policy, planning and operations in the field of credit for agriculture and other economic activities in rural areas in India”.

Important functions of NABARD

  • It Serves as an apex financing agency for the institutions providing investment and production credit for promoting the various developmental activities in rural areas.
  • It takes measures towards institution building for improving absorptive capacity of the credit delivery system, including monitoring, formulation of rehabilitation schemes, restructuring of credit institutions, training of personnel, etc.
  • It regulates the cooperative banks and the RRB’s, and manages talent acquisition through IBPS CWE.
  • NABARD is also known for its ‘SHG Bank Linkage Programme’ which encourages India’s banks to lend to SHGs.

Environment

LiDAR devices to monitor air pollution

  • The Central Pollution Control Board is planning to use advanced LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) devices to vertically monitor the air quality of Delhi-NCR.
  • The agency is currently focusing on strengthening its surface-level monitoring network, however, in ‘later stages’, vertical monitoring will also be taken up.

Enlighten about LIDAR

  • LIDAR, which stands for Light Detection and Ranging, is a remote sensing method that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure ranges (variable distances) to the Earth.
  • These light pulses—combined with other data recorded by the airborne system— generate precise, three-dimensional information about the shape of the Earth and its surface characteristics.
  • Two types of LIDAR are topographic and bathymetric.
  • Topographic LIDAR typically uses a near-infrared laser to map the land, while bathymetric lidar uses water-penetrating green light to also measure seafloor and riverbed elevations.
  • LIDAR systems allow scientists and mapping professionals to examine both natural and manmade environments with accuracy, precision, and flexibility.
  • Scientists are using LIDAR also to produce more accurate shoreline maps, make digital elevation models for use in geographic information systems, to assist in emergency response operations, and in many other applications.

Blue Flag Pilot Project
For beach cleaning and development

  • The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has launched pilot project ‘Blue Flag’ to develop and enhance standards of cleanliness on beaches.
  • This information was given by Minister of State (MoS) in MoEFCC, Dr. Mahesh Sharma, in reply to a written question in Lok Sabha.

Enlighten about it -

  • The ‘Blue Flag’ is a certification by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) that a beach, Marina or sustainable boating tourism operator, meets its stringent standards.
  • Its purpose is to enhance standards of cleanliness, upkeep and basic amenities at beaches.
  • Under the pilot project, each of coastal state/UT was requested to identify and nominate a beach, which is to be funded through ongoing Integrated Coastal Management Programme (ICMP).
  • Till date, all the coastal states have nominated pilot beaches in their receptive territories including Goa. However, formal nominations are awaited from coastal UTs viz., Daman & Diu, Puducherry, Lakshadweep and Andaman & Nicobar.

Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE)

  • The FEE is a non-governmental, non-profit organisation promoting sustainable development through environmental education.
  • It was established in 1981. It is Headquartered at Copenhagen, Denmark.
  • It is active through five programmes; Eco-Schools, Blue Flag, Young Reporters for Environment (YRE), Green Key and Learning about Forests (LEAF).

Economy

NGOs to open account in designated banks integrated with PMFS
Directed by MHA

  • The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has directed all NGOs, individuals and business entities receiving foreign funds to open accounts in any of 32 designated banks, including one foreign, within a month.
  • The MHA order comes in exercise of the powers conferred under Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA), 2010.

Enlighten about it -

  • These accounts opened in 32 designated banks will be integrated with central government’s Public Financial Management System (PFMS).
  • Its purpose is to provide higher level of transparency and hassle-free reporting compliance.

Public Financial Management System (PFMS)

  • The PFMS is an end-to-end solution for processing payments, tracking, monitoring, accounting, reconciliation and reporting.
  • It functions under the Controller General of Accounts in the Ministry of Finance.
  • It provides financial management platform for all plan schemes, database of all recipient agencies, integration with core banking solution of banks handling plan funds.
  • It also provides integration with state treasuries and efficient and effective tracking of fund flow to lowest level of implementation for plan scheme of government.
  • It also provides information across on fund utilisation leading to better monitoring, review and decision support system to enhance public accountability in the implementation of plan schemes.

Ministry of Corporate Affairs

Condonation of Delay Scheme

  • The Union Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) is going to roll out Condonation of Delay Scheme to provide a three-month window for defaulting companies and their director to submit their annual filings.
  • It will be operational from January 1 to March 31, 2018.
  • It is expected to come as a relief for disqualified directors and only bona fide directors will benefit from the proposed scheme.

Enlighten about it -

  • The MCA had struck off more than 2 lakh companies and disqualified 3 lakh directors of such companies that had failed to file financial statements or annual returns for continuous period of three financial years from 2013-16 as part of ongoing exercise of cleaning up Corporate sector and crackdown on shell companies and on illicit fund flows.

Condonation of Delay Scheme

  • The scheme will be operational for period of three months only. During this period, DIN (Director Identification Number) of disqualified directors will be re-activated temporarily to facilitate Directors of defaulting companies to file all overdue annual returns.
  • If Director of defaulting company fails to utilise scheme and regularise compliance after the end of the three month window period, his DIN will be deactivate and he will be disqualified for period of 5 years.

Annual returns

  • All registered companies in India are required to file annual return with MCA each year. Under the Companies Act, 2013, Directors of Companies which have defaulted in filing annual return continuously for period of 3 years are liable for disqualification. On disqualification, Director of such companies will be unable to incorporate new company or act as Director of an existing company for a period of three years.