Daily Current Affairs

Prelims Prominence - June 29, 2018

Enlighten about HECI vs UGC

Science and Technology

First government blockchain centre to be set up in Hyderabad Use to secure land records in Telangana through blockchain technology The banking sector has already started using blockchain technology

  • The Centre is considering a proposal to set up a Centre of Excellence for blockchain technology in Hyderabad to drive innovation.

Agencies Involved

  • The proposal has been submitted by C-DAC Hyderabad, along with the Institute for Development and Research in Banking Technology (IDRBT) and Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute (VJTI), Mumbai.
  • The Centre of Excellence, proposed to come up at C-DAC’s Hyderabad unit, will be the first one by the government for blockchain technology
  • The planning is to use blockchain to digitise and secure land records for Telangana.
  • IT firms such as Infosys, TCS, Wipro and Cognizant had made significant investments in blockchain technology, while banks had already started using the technology, he added.

Enlighten about the blockchain technology

  • A blockchain is a continuously growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked and secured using cryptography.
  • Each block typically contains a cryptographic hash of the previous block,a timestamp, and transaction data.
  • By design, a blockchain is resistant to modification of the data.
  • It is "an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way".
  • For use as a distributed ledger, a blockchain is typically managed by a peer-to-peer network collectively adhering to a protocol for inter-node communication and validating new blocks.
  • Once recorded, the data in any given block cannot be altered retroactively without alteration of all subsequent blocks, which requires consensus of the network majority.
  • Blockchains are secure by design and exemplify a distributed computing system with high Byzantine fault tolerance.
  • Decentralized consensus has therefore been achieved with a blockchain.
  • This makes blockchains potentially suitable for the recording of events, medical records, and other records management activities, such as identity management, transaction processing, documenting provenance, food traceability and voting.

Economy

Plenary meeting of The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) – Paris (France)

WHAT

  • The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) once again put Pakistan on its Grey List of countries involved in providing monetary assistance to terrorism and related causes for failing to curb terror financing on its soil.
  • This will be second time Pakistan has been grey listed by FATF
  • First time it was placed in the list for three years from 2012 to 2015.

What would be the Impact of Grey-listing

  • It will endanger Pakistan’s handful of remaining banking links to outside world, causing financial difficulties to its fragile economy.
  • It will further shrink Pakistan’s economy and make it harder to meet its mounting foreign financing needs, including potential future borrowings from International Monetary Fund (IMF).
  • It will lead to downgrading of Pakistan’s debt ratings by international banking and credit rating agencies
  • It will also suspend international funds and aid to Pakistan such as Coalition Support Funds (CSF), money which US owes to Pakistan for military operations.
  • It will also impacts its imports and exports, widening its existing huge current account deficit (CAD).

Enlighten about Financial Action Task Force (FATF)

  • FATF is an inter‐governmental policy making body that aims to establish international standards for combating money laundering and terrorist financing.
  • It was established in 1989 during the G7 Summit in Paris (France) to combat the growing problem of money laundering.
  • It comprises over 39 member countries including India.
  • FATF Secretariat is housed at headquarters of OECD in Paris, France.
  • Initially, FATF was only dealing with developing policies to combat money laundering. But in 2001 its purpose was expanded to act against terrorism financing.
  • FATF sets standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to integrity of international financial system.
  • FATF Sets international standards to combat money laundering and terrorist Financing.

Government Schemes

Solar Charkha Mission

  • Launched by President Ram Nath Kovind

Enlighten about the mission

  • The government will disburse subsidy of Rs 550 crore to thousands of artisans, generating employment in rural areas.
  • It was launched during the event of Udyam Sangam (National MSME Conclave) on the occasion of World MSME Day (observed on 27 June).

Enlighten about the Ministry involved

  • Ministry of Micro Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) will cover 50 clusters across the country including in the Northeast and each cluster will employ 400 to 2,000 artisans.
  • Its ultimate aim is to generate employment in rural areas and contribute to the green economy.
  • It also aims at linking five crore women across the country to the initiative.

Infrastructure Development

Two new Strategic Petroleum Reserves (SPR) Chandikhol in Odisha and Padur in Karnataka

  • Approved by the The Union Cabinet

WHAT

  • Establishment of additional 6.5 Million Metric Tonne (MMT) Strategic Petroleum Reserves (SPR) facilities at Chandikhol in Odisha and Padur in Karnataka.
  • It also approved construction of dedicated SPMs (Single Point Mooring) for the two SPRs.

Enlighten about The SPR

  • The SPR facilities at Chandikhol and Padur will be underground rockcaverns.
  • They will have capacities of 4 MMT and 2.5 MMT respectively.
  • These facilities will provide an additional supply of about 12 days of petroleum reserves and is expected to augment India’s energy security.
  • They will be built up project under Public Private Partnership (PPP) model to reduce budgetary support of Government of India.
  • The terms and conditions of such PPP participation will be determined by Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas in consultation with Ministry of Finance

Enlighten about the statics of SPR in India (Phase I )

  • Under phase I of SPR programme the government has built three underground crude oil storage facilities (Strategic Petroleum Reserves) with total capacity of 5.33 MMT capacity at Vishakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh, storage capacity of 1.33 million tonnes), Mangalore (Karnataka, 1.5 million tonnes) and Padur (Kerala, 2.5 million tonnes) to provide energy security of 10 days of consumption in response to external supply disruptions.
  • They are maintained by Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserves Ltd (ISPRL), a special purpose vehicle (SPV), which is wholly owned subsidiary of Oil Industry Development Board (OIDB) under Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas.

Enlighten about the statics of SPR in India (Phase I )

  • Under phase I of SPR programme the government has built three underground crude oil storage facilities (Strategic Petroleum Reserves) with total capacity of 5.33 MMT capacity at Vishakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh, storage capacity of 1.33 million tonnes), Mangalore (Karnataka, 1.5 million tonnes) and Padur (Kerala, 2.5 million tonnes) to provide energy security of 10 days of consumption in response to external supply disruptions.
  • They are maintained by Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserves Ltd (ISPRL), a special purpose vehicle (SPV), which is wholly owned subsidiary of Oil Industry Development Board (OIDB) under Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas.

Important Personalities

Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis’s 125th birth anniversary

  • He was awarded the Padma Vibhushan by the Government of India for his stastical work, and his contribution to India's second five year plan.
  • An applied statistician and scientist Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis' 125th anniversary and in honour of this occasion Google has dedicated its today's doodle
  • He was born on 29 June 1893 in West Bengal and graduated from King's College, Cambridge.

Enlighten about Mr Mahalanobis

  • He is known for his pioneering work in statistics and is most often remembered by the "Mahalanobis distance", a way of measurement used in population studies and was one of the members of the first Planning Commission of India.
  • He was also awarded one of the highest civilian awards, the Padma Vibhushan by the Government of India.
  • India's second five year plan (1956-1961) which laid heavy emphasis on the development of the public sector and rapid industrialization also followed the Mr Mahalanobis model which emphasizes the importance of building a strong domestic consumption goods sector, which was crucial to the nascent Indian economy and had a lasting impact on the nation's development.
  • He also taught at Presidency College (Kolkata) where, in 1931, he was responsible for founding the Indian Statistical Institute.
  • He further laid the foundations of Indian statistical system through the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) and the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO)
  • Mr Mahalanobis, a man of diverse scientific interests combined other disciplines like anthropology, economics, physics to develop better approaches in the field of population studies, consumption and crop yields. Later on, he collaborated with both top economists and mathematicians from around the world.

Index/Report

India moves up a spot to 35th on real estate transparency index Report suggests that India is one of the 10 countries that have registered maximum improvement in transparency in real estate over the last two years

  • India has moved up just one spot in the global real estate transparency index from 36 in 2016 to 35 in 2018, despite the implementation of the Real Estate (Regulation And Development) Act or RERA, according to a report by real estate advisory firm Jones Lang LaSalle Inc. (JLL).
  • RERA was implemented in May 2016 to bring accountability and transparency into the sector.
  • However, unlike a few states such as Maharashtra and Karnataka, several states have been slow in its implementation.
  • The countries in the top 30 ranks have been defined as transparent markets, while those in the top 10 are categorized as highly transparent, according to the report that comes out every two years.
  • The UK, Australia, the US, France and Canada are the top five countries.
  • Since 2014, India has moved up by five spots from 40th in the global real estate transparency index.

Factors of measuring the index

  • The index measures transparency based on factors such as data availability, authenticity and accuracy; governance of public agencies as well as stakeholders of the realty sector; transaction processes and costs associated with those; and the regulatory and legal environment
  • Improved market fundamentals, policy reforms and liberalization of foreign direct investment into realty sector and retail and strengthening of information in public domain were main influencers, along with digitization of property records and assigning industry status to affordable housing
  • The report also pointed out that a rise in private equity (PE) investments over the last four years is an indicator of the growing confidence large PE funds have in the Indian market.
  • PE investment in Indian realty has grown every year from $2.2 billion in 2014 to $6.3 billion in 2017, according to the report.

Ranking will improve in future (if)

  • The country’s ranking is likely to improve further in GRETI 2020 mainly on the back of the comprehensive implementation of RERA in all states of India, introduction of insurance policies for land title, pseudo-ownership of properties weeded out through ‘Benami Transactions Act’ and the sector aligning itself well with goods and services tax regime

Sources – LiveMint , The Hindu , Indian Express