Daily Current Affairs

Prelims Prominence - November 30, 2017

Government Schemes

SAUBHAGYA Scheme

Launched in Manipur

  • The Union Ministry of Power launched Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana (SAUBHAGYA) in Manipur.
  • Total of approximately 1.75 lakh households (1.62 lakh rural households and 0.13 lakh urban households) of Manipur are proposed to be included under scheme.
  • Union Government will provide the required financial assistance for strengthening and improvement of infrastructure in the power sector in Manipur.

Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana (SAUBHAGYA)

  • The Union Ministry of Power launched had Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana –“Saubhagya” in September 2017 with an aim to achieve universal household electrification in all parts of country by providing last mile electricity connectivity to all rural and urban households.
  • Under the scheme, government will provide free electricity to all households identified under Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC) data 2011.
  • The Rural Electrification Corporation Limited (REC) is nodal agency for operationalisation of scheme throughout country.
  • For easy & accelerated implementation of Scheme, modern technology will be used for household survey by using Mobile App.
  • Gram Panchayat/Public institutions in rural areas will be authorised to collect application forms along with complete documentation, distribute bills and collect revenue in consultation with Panchayat Raj Institutions (PRIs) and Urban Local Bodies (ULBs).
  • Electricity connections will be given to APL families for Rs 500, which will be payable in 10 equal monthly instalments.
  • The BPL cardholders will get free electricity connections.

Economy

National Anti – Profiteering Authority

  • Badri Narain Sharma appointed as Chairman of National Anti-Profiteering Authority
  • The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) has appointed senior bureaucrat Badri Narain Sharma as Chairman of National Anti-Profiteering Authority (NAA) under Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime.
  • Sharma is 1985 batch IAS officer of Rajasthan cadre.
  • Prior to this appointment, he was additional secretary in Department of Revenue, Finance Ministry.

Enlighten about it -

  • The Union Cabinet in November 2017 had approved setting up of five-member NAA, mandated to ensure that the benefits of GST rate reduction is passed on to consumers.
  • The anti-profiteering framework under new indirect tax regime consists of NAA at top level, standing committee, screening committees in every state and Directorate General of Safeguards (DGS) in Central Board of Excise & Customs (CBEC).

How anti-profiteering mechanism works?

  • As per structure of anti-profiteering mechanism in GST regime, complaints of local nature will be first sent to state-level screening committee, while those of national level will be marked for standing committee.
  • If complaints have merit, respective committees will refer cases for further investigation to Directorate General of Safeguards.
  • The DG Safeguards will generally take about three months to complete investigation and send the report to NAA.
  • If NAA finds that company has not passed on GST benefits, it will either direct entity to pass on benefits to consumers or if beneficiary cannot be identified, it will ask company to transfer amount to ‘consumer welfare fund’ within specified timeline.

Bilateral Relations

India & UK to sign MoU in Urban Transport Sector

  • India and United Kingdom (UK) will soon sign Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in urban transport sector for cooperation in policy planning, technology transfer and institutional organisation.
  • The draft of MoU was finalised by Union Minister of Road Transport & Highways Nitin Gadkari and Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport of UK in London.

Enlighten about MoU

  • The draft MoU seeks to facilitate cooperation in transport sector between both countries and enable sharing of expertize and latest technology to promote efficient mobility solutions.
  • It seeks to usher in policy reforms that can transform transport sector through improved customer service and data analysis and better use of Information Technology (IT) systems.
  • The MoU will also help in promoting digital transactions and induction of high capacity diesel and electric vehicles (EVs) in India.
  • It will also establish the terms on which such assistance can be provided.

Background

  • Both countries had finalized bilateral cooperation arrangements between Transport for London (TFL) and Indian Ministry of Road Transport & Highways in May 2017 to cover a wide range of transport mobility solutions and associated activities in urban environment.

Telecommunication

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India upholds net neutrality

  • Net neutrality means that telecom service providers must treat all internet traffic equally, without any regard to the type, origin or destination of the content or the means of its transmission.
  • Proponents of net neutrality hold that all traffic on internet should be treated equally i.e. service providers should allow access to all content without favouring any particular product or website.

TRAI Recommendations

  • Prohibits Discrimination: It upholds basic principle of net neutrality by keeping Internet open and prohibits any Internet service providers (ISPs) from discrimination on basis of content by either blocking, throttling or fast-laning any websites, apps or web services.
  • Protection of rights of citizens: The internet use should be facilitated in such manner that it advances free speech rights of citizens, by ensuring plurality and diversity of views, opinions and ideas. It also restrains ISPs from entering into pacts with any person which discriminates on content, protocol or user equipment.
  • Exemptions: It excludes specialised services and content delivery networks (CDNs) from scope of any rules on net neutrality. It does not define specialised services and leaves it to DoT to identify these services. It also calls for keeping Internet of Things (IoT) within purview of non-discriminatory restriction with the exception of critical services.
  • It exempt CDNs from the scope of net neutrality rules arguing that CDNs add efficiency to network by reducing latency, mitigating congestion and freeing up network capacity for other purposes.
  • CDNs are layer in Internet networks which are outside public Internet and are used by content generators to store their data at suitable geographical locations.
  • Setting up Multi-stakeholder body: Telecom and ISPs should deploy “reasonable” traffic management practices from time to time. It calls for setting up multi-stakeholder body to monitor and investigate whether ISPs are adhering to rules.
  • The body will be led by industry and comprise members representing different telecom and ISPs, large and small content providers, representatives from research, academia, civil society organisations and consumer bodies.

Significance

  • TRAI’s recommendations follow consultation process that lasted for 1 year, after Department of Telecommunications (DoT) sought TRAI’s views on issue in March 2016 to finalise a viewpoint on net neutrality.
  • These recommendations will now be vetted by DoT and after its approval, changes with effect to licence agreements of telecom firms will be made to accommodate net neutrality.
  • TRAI’s proposal to adhere net neutrality comes days after US Federal Communication Commission (FCC) had announced repealing of 2015 laws that aimed at upholding this broad principle of net neutrality.

Concerns over Consultation process

  • However, Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) said the suggestion to form a committee to review and decide on network management violations is “unnecessarily bureaucratic”, and not in keeping with “light touch regulation or the ease of doing business”.
  • The DoT is already well positioned to investigate any violation of license conditions and it already has all the necessary enforcement mechanisms in place.
  • Hence, such a heavy-handed approach is not necessary, as is now being proposed by TRAI.

International Summits

China hosts Inter-Governmental Meeting of Asia and Pacific Decade for Persons with Disabilities

  • The High Level Inter-Governmental Mid-Point review meeting of Asia and Pacific Decade for Persons with Disabilities, 2013-2022 was held in Beijing, China.
  • A number of countries in the Asia-Pacific region had participated in it. Indian delegation was led by Union Minister of Social Justice & Empowerment Thaawarchand Gehlot.

Enlighten about the meeting -

  • The meeting was organised by United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) in cooperation with China Disabled Persons’ Federation (CDPF).
  • Its main objective was to review progress made by member States during Decade at mid-point in 2017 with regard to Incheon Strategy to make right real for persons with disabilities in Asia and Pacific.
  • It also discussed future policy action for building disabilities-inclusive societies in region, bearing in mind synergies between 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Incheon Strategy.
  • It also finalised declaration to address gaps and challenges in empowerment and inclusion of persons with disabilities.

Incheon strategy

  • The Incheon Strategy provides Asian and Pacific region and world with first set of regionally agreed disability-inclusive development goals.
  • It has been developed over more than two years of consultations with governments and civil society stakeholders.
  • The Incheon Strategy builds on UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and Biwako Millennium Framework for Action (BMF) and Biwako Plus Five towards an Inclusive, Barrier-free and Rights-based Society for Persons with Disabilities in Asia and Pacific. It comprises 10 goals, 27 targets and 62 indicators.
  • The Incheon Strategy enables Asian and Pacific region to track progress towards improving quality of life, and fulfilment of rights of region’s 650 million persons with disabilities, most of whom live in poverty.
  • The UNESCAP secretariat is mandated to report progress in implementation of Incheon Strategy every three years until end of Decade in 2022.

About ESCAP

  • The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) is the regional development arm of the United Nations for the Asia-Pacific region.
  • Made up of 53 Member States and 9 Associate Members, with a geographical scope that stretches from Turkey in the west to the Pacific island nation of Kiribati in the east, and from the Russian Federation in the north to New Zealand in the south, the region is home to 4.1 billion people, or two thirds of the world’s population.
  • This makes ESCAP the most comprehensive of the United Nations five regional commissions, and the largest United Nations body serving the Asia-Pacific region with over 600 staff.
  • Established in 1947 with its headquarters in Bangkok, Thailand, ESCAP works to overcome some of the region’s greatest challenges by providing results oriented projects, technical assistance and capacity building to member States.

Skill India

Skill India partners with Airbnb to Upskill Hospitality Entrepreneurs

  • A tripartite MoU was signed between Tourism and Hospitality Sector Skill Council (THSC) and National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) with Airbnb, the world’s leading community-driven hospitality company.
  • The MoU was signed in line with Government’s endeavor to promote entreprenuership under Government’s Skill India Programme.
  • It will also provide hospitality skills training to hospitality micro-entrepreneurs in India.

Enlighten about the MoU

  • The MoU aims to empower more citizens, including those in underserved areas and rural to join alternate accommodation sector and pursue new livelihood opportunities by sharing their homes.
  • It will establish occupation standards and compCLcy matrices for job roles and develop courses for hospitality entrepreneurs offering homestay and facilities and local experiences for travellers.
  • It will create standards for certification and accreditation as per requirements and global benchmarks of Tourism and Hospitality industry for hospitality entrepreneurs offering homestay facilities.
  • It will set framework for long-term Council-Industry partnership and strengthen Skilled Labour Pool required by Tourism and Hospitality industry.

Health Sector

Health Ministry and ICMR launch India Hypertension Management Initiative

  • The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) had launched India Hypertension Management Initiative (IHMI).
  • The IHMI aims to reduce disability and death related to cardiovascular disease (CVD), the leading cause of death in India.
  • It also aims to strengthen CVD component of Health Ministry’s National Program for Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases and Stroke (NPCDCS).

India Hypertension Management Initiative (IHMI)

  • The IHMI is collaborative project of ICMR, MoHFW, World Health Organization (WHO), State Governments and Resolve to Save Lives initiative of Vital Strategies.
  • Its primary goal is to reduce morbidity and mortality due to CVDs, by improving control of high blood pressure, which is leading risk factor for CVDs among adults in India.
  • The IHMI focuses on five essential components of scalable treatment of hypertension.
  • It will also focus on strengthening hypertension management and monitoring at primary health care level, within existing healthcare system.
  • It is aligned with WHO’s Global HEARTS Initiative and National Guidelines.
  • It will support adoption of standardized simplified treatment plans for managing high blood pressure, ensure regular and uninterrupted supply of quality-assured medications, and patient-centred services that reduce barriers to treatment adherence.
  • It will also focus on data on hypertension to improve it through streamlined monitoring systems and lessons learned and practice-based evidence that will inform further interventions to improve cardiovascular care.
  • IHMI will be progressively rolled out in 25 districts in first two years across districts selected by MoHFW for expansion of active screening and intensification of treatment activities for hypertension

International Organisation

International Maritime Organization

  • Georgia’s Permanent Representative to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has been elected as the Vice President of the IMO Assembly.
  • Tamar Beruchashvili, who also is Georgia’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom, was elected to the role at the recently held Assembly’s 30th session.

Enlighten about IMO

  • The International Maritime Organization – is the United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships.
  • It has 171 Member States and three Associate Members.
  • The IMO’s primary purpose is to develop and maintain a comprehensive regulatory framework for shipping and its remit today includes safety, environmental concerns, legal matters, technical co-operation, maritime security and the efficiency of shipping.
  • IMO is governed by an assembly of members and is financially administered by a council of members elected from the assembly.
  • The IMO’s structure comprises the Assembly, the Council, the Maritime Safety Committee, the Marine Environment Protection Committee, the Legal Committee, the Technical Cooperation Committee, and the secretariat, headed by a Secretary-General.

IMO council

  • The IMO Council acts as the IMO’s Governing Body.
  • It has a crucial role to play in deciding various matters in relation to the global shipping industry, including its work programme strategy and budget.
  • Members of the Council consist of 40 member states, elected by its Assembly including 10 members in category A with the largest interest in providing international shipping services; 10 members in category B with the largest interest in international seaborne trade and 20 members in category C with special interests in maritime transport or navigation.
  • India has been one of the earliest members of the IMO, having ratified its Convention and joined it as a member-state in the year 1959.