Daily Current Affairs

Prelims Prominence - January 17, 2018

Bilateral Relations

PM Modi, Israeli PM Netanyahu dedicate iCreate to the nation

  • located on the outskirts of Ahmedabad.
  • iCreate is an independent Centre created with the objective of facilitating entrepreneurship through a blend of creativity, innovation, engineering, product design and leveraging emerging technologies to deal with major issues such as food security, water, connectivity, cybersecurity, IT and electronics, energy, bio-medical equipment and devices etc.
  • iCreate aims to develop an ecosystem in India to generate quality entrepreneurs.
  • The Prime Minister said that the Government is working to make the entire system innovation-friendly, so that intent can generate ideas; ideas lead to innovation; and innovation helps create a New India.


Haj subsidies to be phased out

  • Union Minister for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi on Tuesday announced that the Centre would phase out subsidies for the annual Haj pilgrimage.
  • The Centre’s decision followed a 2012 Supreme Court order asking that subsidies for the Haj be phased out by 2022 and the money saved (around ₹450 crore annually) diverted to more welfare-oriented activities.
  • This decision was taken based on the recommendations of Afzal Amanullah Committee and May 2012 Supreme Court order.
  • Government’s Haj subsidy mainly included cheaper airfare and central assistance to pilgrims to reach specially-designed Haj departure terminals at airports.

Now onwards, proceeds from Haj subsidy will be used for educational empowerment and welfare of girls from minority communities.

Enlighten about Afzal Amanullah committee

  • Afzal Amanullah committee to suggest framework for new Haj policy for 2018-22.
  • It had submitted its report in October 2017.
  • The committee had recommended for gradual withdrawal of Haj subsidy.
  • It also had recommended to allow older Muslim women to travel to haj without male guardians.

Haj without Mehram

  • Earlier Union Government had allowed Muslim women above age of 45 to go on Haj without male company, in a group of at least four.
  • Earlier, women were not allowed to travel without ‘Mehram’ (husband or a male first blood relation as guardian).

Ministry of Defence

Defence Industry Development Meet
Focus on indigenization, import substitution and technology infusion.

  • The Department of Defence Production, Ministry of Defence is organising a two-day ‘Defence Industry Development Meet’ at Chennai from January 18, 2018.
  • The objective of the Meet is to forge new partnerships with private industry with the aim to achieve self-reliance in defence production under the overarching ‘Make in India’ initiative of the Government.
  • The event is part of the Ministry’s initiative to encourage and facilitate participation of private industries especially MSMEs in Defence manufacturing

Defence Acquisition Council (DAC)
DAC simplifies procedure to develop defence equipment through Indian Industry Clears procurements of assault rifles and carbines worth Rs 3,547 crore

  • The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), chaired by Raksha Mantri Smt Nirmala Sitharaman, met today and simplified ‘Make II’ procedure, which prescribes guidelines to be followed to develop and manufacture defence equipment through Indian Industry.
  • The DAC also cleared procurement of 72,400 assault rifles and 93,895 carbines on fast track basis for Rs 3,547 crore to enable the Defence Forces to meet their immediate requirement for the troops deployed on the borders.

Enlighten about the changes in MAKE II

  • To encourage participation of private sector in defence design and production and to give a boost to ‘Make in India’ programme, the Council today introduced significant changes in the ‘Make II’ category of the Defence Procurement Procedure.
  • Considering that no government funding is involved in ‘Make II’ project, the DAC simplified the procedure to make it industry friendly, with minimal government control.
  • The salient aspects of the revised procedure will now allow Ministry of Defence to accept suo-motu proposals from the industry and also allows start-ups to develop equipment for Indian Armed Forces.
  • The minimum qualification criteria to participate in ‘Make II’ projects has also been relaxed by removing conditions related to credit rating and reducing financial net worth criteria.
  • As per the earlier ‘Make II’ procedure, only two vendors were shortlisted to develop prototype equipment.
  • Now, all vendors meeting the relaxed eligibility criteria will be allowed to participate in the prototype development process.
  • The vendor will not be required to submit Detailed Project Report. After accord of approval of the ‘Make II’ project by the council, all clearances will be accorded at Service HQ (SHQ) level.

Service HQ level -

  • To hand-hold industry and start-ups, SHQs will now setup project facilitation teams to act as the primary interface between the SHQ and the industry during the design and development stage.
  • These teams would provide technical inputs, trial infrastructure and other facilities as required by the vendor.
  • Even if a single individual or firm offers innovative solutions, the SHQ will now have the option to accept and process the vendor’s development initiative.
  • SHQs will be allowed to hire domain experts/consultants from private sector to increase outreach and enhance awareness among the industry.

NITI Aayog

Global Initiative on Academic Network GIAN
The first course on Sustainable Urban Planning using Remote Sensing and GIS

  • The First Global Initiative on Academic Network GIAN course on Sustainable Urban planning using remote sensing and Geographic Information System, GIS has been launched at Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur’s outreach center in NOIDA

Implementing bodies

  • This course is being conducted under the Global Initiative on Academic Network (GIAN) Program of the Ministry of Human Resource Development and actively supported by NITI Aayog and Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.

Objective -

  • This course aims to give participants state-of-the-art remote sensing and GIS skills which will allow them to rise to the challenge of managing the rapidly changing urban environment of Indian cities.
  • Focus will be on issues such as water resource management, water pollution and strategic emplacements for water treatment facilities.
  • This course is expected to contribute significantly to build trained manpower for the Smart Cities Mission launched by the Government on 25th June 2015 with an objective to promote sustainable and inclusive cities that provide core infrastructure and give a decent quality of life to its citizens, a clean and sustainable environment and application of ‘Smart’ Solutions.

Global Initiative on Academic Network (GIAN)

  • Scheme of HRD Ministry
  • To boost the quality of the country’s higher education through international collaboration.
  • Its objective is to increase footfalls of reputed international faculty to Indian academic institutes and thereby bring in international academic excellence in India’s higher education institutions.
  • It facilitates participation of high quality international academicians for delivering short-term courses and programs in Indian institutions.

Ministry of Commerce & Industry

MoU between Department of Commerce and CII Development of Logistics sector - modernizing the Logistics sector in India and bring it at par with the global best.

  • Development of integrated Logistics sector in the country and to fulfil this a MoU has been signed between the Department of Commerce and Confederation of Indian Industry
  • The Government has decided to reduce the Logistics cost in the country from the present 14% of GDP to less than 10% by 2022.

Action Plan

  • A concerted effort in collaboration with Central line Ministries as well as State Governments has been initiated for simplifying the regulatory processes in both domestic and EXIM logistics.
  • Comprehensive action plan to reduce the cost of EXIM and domestic Logistics in the country by making it more efficient through easing of processes, induction of Information Technology and co-ordinated enhancement of Logistics infrastructure in the country.
  • The Government has recently granted infrastructure status to a number of Logistics activities, which shall enable them to avail cheaper and long term commercial loans.
  • Work has also been initiated on an integrated Logistics portal that will be a transactional e-marketplace connecting buyers with logistics service providers with all the Government agencies such as Customs, PGAs, Port Community Systems, Sea and Air Port terminals, Shipping lines, Railways etc.
  • In order to establish linkages with the Government agencies, industry and academia, for developing a detailed action plan, Logistics division has planned to enter into formal partnership with all the stakeholders

Infrastructure Development

Inauguration of HPCL Rajasthan Refinery Ltd (HRRL)

  • In Rajasthan’s Barmer district
  • It is first oil refinery to be set up in Rajasthan
  • Joint venture between Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) and the Rajasthan government
  • HPCL owns 74% stake in the project, while the state government owns 26%.
  • It is expected to be operational in 4 years (2022-23) at a cost of Rs 43000 crores.

Sources- thehindu,pib,livemint,et