Daily Current Affairs

Prelims Prominence - November 10, 2017

Disaster Management

Facebook launches Disaster Maps in India for better response to disasters

  • The social networking giant Facebook Inc. has rolled out Disaster Maps for India in a bid to help communities recover and rebuild faster in aftermath of natural disasters.
  • It was launched at Facebook’s first Disaster Response Summit in India along with National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) to improve disaster response and disaster management in India.
  • Government has claimed that India will be first country to partner with Facebook on disaster response.
  • Facebook will initially join hands with NDMA and SEEDS (Sustainable Environment and Ecological Development Society) in India to share data about its users with them in times of disasters.
  • Globally Facebook has partnered with organizations like Red Cross for such initiative.

What’s the need

  • According to UN Development Programme (UNDP) data, India is third-worst affected country by natural disasters like floods, earthquakes, cyclones, drought and landslides.
  • Moreover, response time during and after these crises is often slow and it takes significant time and resources to understand where help is needed most.
  • Facebook has 2 billion-plus users globally and its users in India have crossed 240 million mark, making it largest audience country for social media company.

Disaster Maps

  • Disaster Maps, powered by Facebook’s technology and intensive research will help to address this critical gap in information (data) that government organizations face when responding to crisis or disasters.
  • It was introduced globally in June 2017.
  • It aims to help communities across country recover and rebuild from natural disasters faster by sharing critical pieces of data sets with humanitarian agencies in timely manner.
  • It provides multiple types of maps during disaster response efforts, which include aggregated location information chosen by people to share with Facebook.
  • This helps NGOs and relief agencies get precise location of people affected by disaster so they can determine where resources like food, water and medical supplies are needed.

So far, Facebook researchers have built three kinds of maps.

Location density maps:

  • They show location of people before, during and after disaster.
  • This information can be compared to historical records, like population estimates based on satellite images.
  • Comparing these data sets can help response organizations understand areas impacted by a natural disaster.

Movement maps:

  • These illustrate patterns of movement between different neighbourhoods or cities overperiod of several hours.
  • By understanding these patterns, disaster response organizations can better predict where resources will be needed, gain insight into patterns of evacuation or predict where traffic will be most congested.

Safety Check:

  • These maps are based on locations where Facebook community uses Safety Check to notify their friends and family that they are safe during disaster.
  • Using this de-identified data in aggregate, it will show where more or fewer people check in safe, which may help to understand where people are most vulnerable and where help is needed.

ASK-DIV (Disaster Information Volunteers) scheme

  • Facebook is also supporting pilot of ASK-DIV (Disaster Information Volunteers) scheme with SEEDS.
  • Under it, SEEDS will establish a network of trained volunteers to provide real-time, first-hand information on disasters in their local communities.
  • It will provide supplementary information to inform relief efforts through Facebook Workplace platform.
  • The programme will be piloted in two disaster-prone States — Assam and Uttarakhand.

Infrastructure Development

Government to adopt land-pooling method for airport expansion

Need for Land pooling

  • Currently airports across country are facing high passenger traffic growth and will further grow in future.
  • Most of current functional airports are located in congested parts of cities with no scope for growth and reach saturation point even after being expanded for lack of land availability.
  • Land acquisition in fully constructed areas around airports is very difficult causing severe capacity constraint for expansion of infrastructure at various airports.
  • So Government is looking at land-pooling method as alternative to land acquisition for developing airport infrastructure.

Land Pooling

  • Under land pooling mechanism, group of land-owners pool their land and hand it over to government agency for development of infrastructure projects.
  • After the development of land, the agency redistributes the land after deducting some portion as compensation towards infrastructure costs.
  • Generally, people who part with their land parcels get 60-70% of their holdings back after infrastructure is developed on it.
  • This is done to develop potential infrastructure to reduce the load on the existing congested and saturated areas.
  • This method already has been used in Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.

Banking Sector

RBI release new outsourcing norms for NBFCs

New directions are as follows:

  • Non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) cannot outsource core management functions like internal audit, strategic and compliance functions for know your customer (KYC) norms, sanction of loans and management of investment portfolio.
  • Access to customer information by staff of the service provider shall be on ‘need to know’ basis i.e., limited to those areas where the information is required in order to perform the outsourced function.
  • NBFCs also have been asked to constitute a grievance redressal machinery with the name and contact details of the redressal officer displayed prominently at their branches.
  • It shall be clearly indicated that NBFCs’ grievance redressal machinery will also deal with the issue relating to services provided by the outsourced agency.
  • NBFCs would also be responsible for making currency transaction reports and suspicious transactions reports to the financial intelligence unit for activities carried out by the service providers.

Enlighten about NBFCs:

What are they?

  • Non-bank financial companies (NBFCs) are financial institutions that provide banking services without meeting the legal definition of a bank, i.e. one that does not hold a banking license.

What they can’t do?

  • These institutions typically are restricted from taking deposits from the public depending on the jurisdiction. Nonetheless, operations of these institutions are often still covered under a country’s banking regulations.
  • NBFC cannot accept demand deposits.
  • NBFCs do not form part of the payment and settlement system and cannot issue cheques drawn on itself.
  • Deposit insurance facility of Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation is not available to depositors of NBFCs, unlike in case of banks.

Who supervises them?

  • The Reserve Bank of India is entrusted with the responsibility of regulating and supervising the Non-Banking Financial Companies by virtue of powers vested under Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934.

Economy

RBI simplified the FEMA norms to attract foreign investments

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has simplified the Foreign Exchange Management (Transfer or Issue of Security by a Person Resident outside India) Regulations, by putting all the 93 amendments under one notification, a move that will significantly make it easier for foreign investors to invest in the country.
  • The Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), introduced in 1999, was amended 93 times.
  • Guide to investors

The Notification by RBI

  • The new notification combines two regulations on foreign investments
  • One which is popularly called investment in an Indian company or a partnership, or in a limited liability partnership, or FEMA 20,
  • The other FEMA 24, which is investment in a partnership firm.
  • Another significant change is the introduction of a late submission fee that could allow an investor to regularise any contravention due to non-reporting, by paying the fee.

What would be the impact

  • It is going to impact in a very big manner because 60-70% of the contravention cases which RBI receives are due to delays in reporting.
  • In addition, any transfer of investment from non-resident Indians to any non-residents has been brought under the automatic route, subject to reporting.

Foreign Exchange Management Act

  • The Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999 (FEMA) is an Act of the Parliament of India “to consolidate and amend the law relating to foreign exchange with the objective of facilitating external trade and payments and for promoting the orderly development and maintenance of foreign exchange market in India”.
  • It replaces the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act (FERA). This act seeks to make offenses related to foreign exchange civil offenses. It extends to the whole of India.
  • It enabled a new foreign exchange management regime consistent with the emerging framework of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). It also paved way to Prevention of Money Laundering Act 2002, which was effected from 1 July 2005.

Environment

Developed , Developing nations lock horns on pre – 2020 action

  • Developing countries want to get this included in the formal agenda of discussions
  • Almost every developing country grouping — the G-77, which is the largest negotiating group with over 130 countries, the African group, the Arab group, the ALBA and AILAC group of Latin American and Caribbean countries, and the small island states — supported the demand

What is ‘pre-2020 action’?

  • The ‘pre-2020 action’ refers to the obligations of the developed countries under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol that has still three more years to run
  • The Paris Agreement, finalized in 2015, is essentially a successor treaty for the post-2020 world

Kyoto Protocol timeline and obligations

  • The Kyoto Protocol had put the responsibility of reducing emissions only on a small group of rich and developed countries
  • These countries had to achieve targeted cuts in the period 2005 and 2012
  • Later, in the Doha climate conference, amendments to the Kyoto Protocol extended its mandate till 2020 with fresh targets for these countries
  • The Doha Amendments, as they came to be called, have still not become operational as adequate number of countries have not yet ratified it

ALBA Group of countries

  • ALBA or ALBA-TCP is an intergovernmental organization based on the idea of the social, political and economic integration of the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean
  • It was formally known as the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America or the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America – Peoples’ Trade Treaty
  • Founded initially by Cuba and Venezuela in 2004, it is associated with socialist and social democratic governments wishing to consolidate regional economic integration based on a vision of social welfare, bartering and mutual economic aid
  • The eleven member countries are Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Cuba, Dominica, Ecuador, Grenada, Nicaragua, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Venezuela
  • ALBA nations may conduct trade using a virtual regional currency known as the SUCRE.
  • The name “Bolivarian” refers to the ideology of Simón Bolívar, the 19th-century South American independence leader born in Caracas who wanted Hispanic America to unite as a single “Great Nation”

AILAC Group of countries

  • The Independent Association of Latin America and the Caribbean is a group of eight countries that share interests and positions on climate change
  • Its main objective is to generate coordinated, ambitious positions and contribute to the balance in the multilateral negotiations on climate change with a coherent vision for sustainable development that is responsible to the environment and future generations
  • AILAC was established as a formal negotiating group under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in December 2012, during the Conference of the Parties in Doha, Qatar
  • AILAC comprises the following countries: Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay, Peru

Eateries near sanctuaries under scanner

  • Unscientific disposal of food waste by resorts and hotels on the periphery of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries has come under the scanner of the Forest Department.
  • This has been identified as one of the major factors that attract carnivores such as tigers and leopards into human landscape.
  • Though the carnivores do not get lured by the food spill, they are attracted by prey animals like wild boars that feed on the leftover.