Daily Current Affairs

Prelims Prominence - October 11, 2017

INDO –EU SUMMIT (analysis)

  • India –EU talks in a muddle
  • Disappointment at the Indo-EU Summit

Enlighten about it –

  • German ambassador is disappointed at the failure of the resumption of talks on the investment and free trade agreement
  • There is no decision to resume negotiations on free trade agreement despite the possibility being at hand
  • The EU leaders and PM Narendra Modi failed to take such a decision during the summit

Enlighten about BTIA

  • India and the European Commission (with a negotiating mandate from the European Council) initiated negotiations on a Free Trade Agreement (FTA)called the Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement(BTIA) in 2007
  • More than seven rounds of negotiations have been completed without reaching a Free Trade Agreement

Disappointment of the EU diplomats

  • Disappointment of the EU diplomats is a signal of the growing unhappiness among European diplomats over the long period it has taken to get talks on the BTIA

Environment & Ecology

Sale of Firecrackers in DELHI/NCR banned by Supreme Court citing ‘alarming air quality’

Enlighten about the SC order -

  • The Supreme Court reinstated the ban on sale of firecrackers in Delhi-NCR, saying that there was “direct evidence of deterioration of air quality at alarming levels” every year during Diwali on account of bursting of firecrackers.
  • It also suspends all licences that “permit sale of fireworks wholesale and retail within the territory of NCR”.
  • The court said that last year’s order was made after Diwali, hence there was no chance of testing its effect on air quality so far.
  • So, the order suspending the licences should be given one chance to test itself in order to find out as to whether there would be positive effect of this suspension.

Welfare Scheme : Report

Stand Up India plan slowing down : only 6 % of bank branches gave loans to SC/STs

What was decided (promised in the plan)

  • Every bank has been told that it will be your responsibility to ensure that wherever you have a branch, you have to give loans to two persons in the area —
  • a youth who is a Dalit or an Adivasi, and - a woman to help them start a new enterprise, new business
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi said this at the launch of the Stand Up India initiative in Noida on April 5, 2016

What is the ground reality

  • Records show that 17 months after this assurance, barely six percent of the 1.3 lakh bank branches have provided Stand Up India loans to Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe individuals
  • And less than 25 percent of the branches have provided loans to women in the general category
  • This is according to data on loans obtained from the Department of Financial Services, Ministry of Finance under an RTI application

What were the reasons?

Are banks unwilling to give loans to SC/ST individuals?

  • Four private banks and 15 of 42 regional rural banks (RRBs) have not provided a single Stand Up India loan to any SC individual
  • Five private banks – Axis Bank, Federal Bank, ICICI Bank, The Nainital Bank and Yes Bank – have not sanctioned a single such loan to any ST person
  • The total loan amount sanctioned across banks is Rs 8,803 crore — so far, only Rs 4,852 crore has been disbursed

Enlighten about StandUp India Scheme

  • The stated goal of Stand-up India, according to the government’s website, is to enable bank loans between Rs 10 lakh to Rs 1 crore to at least one SC or ST borrower and at least one woman per bank branch
  • This loan is provided to set up a “greenfield enterprise.”
  • The loan — repayable in seven years — is at the lowest applicable rate of the bank for its rating category

Bilateral Issues

India –Myanmar border – Panel to study gaps on the border

  • India-Myanmar border: Panel may not curb free movement within 16 km
  • Government panel set up to study gaps on the India-Myanmar border
  • It may suggest not to restrict free movement of Indian and Myanmarese citizens within 16 km of the border as allowed before
  • But will recommend strengthening border security to prevent infiltration
  • Also, the panel may suggest that Indians going and staying in Myanmar under the bilateral agreement may be allowed to stay for 72 hours, unlike 24 hours at present
  • India allows Myanmarese nationals to stay for 72 hours without a visa

Why this move –

  • It is a measure to upgrade security amid the mass exodus of Rohingyas from Myanmar

Enlighten about Free Movement Regime (FMR) –

  • The FMR permits the tribes residing along the border to travel 16 km across the boundary without visas

Government Schemes

Incorporation of skill development programme in higher education – by RAJASTHAN ( first state to do so)

  • Rajasthan became first state in the country to incorporate skill development programme in higher education.
  • In this regard, Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) in collaboration with state’s Department of College Education has prepared 16 courses for entrepreneurship and skill development for colleges in the state.

Enlighten about the incorporation

  • Under the project, 12 certificates and 4 diploma courses will be run and each college will be required to choose five courses.
  • 94 colleges have already joined the project and 5656 students have registered themselves in it.
  • By next session, more than 10 thousand students will be enrolled in the programmes.
  • Under it, practical training of the students pursuing the skill development courses will be done in different government departments

Report

India ranks 8th in 2017 Valuable Nation Brand List

  • According to Brand Finance’s recently released Nation Brands 2017 report, India was ranked 8th out of 100 countries on a list of most valuable nation brands.
  • This year India slipped by one spot compared to 7th rank in 2016 and ceded its previous spot to Canada.

Facts regarding this
Top 10 Valuable Nation brands are

  • United States (1st), China (2nd), Germany (3rd), Japan (4th), United Kingdom (5th), France (6th), Canada (7th), India (8th), Italy (9th) and South Korea (10th).
  • In terms of valuation, India’s National Brand Value in 2017 is $2.04 trillion, down by 1% from last year’s $2.06 trillion.
  • However, India’s brand rating has improved from ‘AA-‘ to ‘AA’.
  • Despite rating improvement, India has not feature in list of 10 best performing nation brands which is topped by Iceland topped.
  • Asian nation brands are seeing a boom as Western countries stagnate.
  • China is fastest growing nation brand and has seen a record rise of $3.1 trillion. However, China’s nation brand value is half of that of the United States.

Valuable Nation Brand List
Top 10 Valuable Nation brands are

  • World’s most valuable nation list released as part Nation Brands report by Brand Finance measures strength and value of nation brands of 100 leading countries.
  • Its method is based on royalty relief mechanism employed to value the world’s largest companies.
  • The valuation is based on 5 year forecasts of sales of all brands in each nation and follows a complex process in which Gross domestic product (GDP) is used as a proxy for total revenues.

National

India Water Week inaugurated by President

  • President Ram Nath Kovind inaugurated 5th edition of India Water Week (IWW)

Theme -

  • “Water and Energy for Inclusive Growth” in New Delhi.
  • About 1500 delegates from India and 13 other countries will attend five day international event.
  • The event will showcase technologies and solutions available for areas under deliberation of the meet.
  • The event will have many major components like water, food and energy security – essential requirement for sustainable development, water for inclusive growth, water and society and sustainable energy development – Key for all round economic growth.

Enlighten about it –

  • Government is organising India Water Week since 2012 as an annual international event on order to establish an international event focused on water resources of India.
  • The first event was organised in New Delhi in 2012 with theme ‘Water, Energy and Food Security: Call for Solutions’.
  • So far, four editions of India Water Week have been organised in 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016.
  • The recommendations and action points emerged during earlier events of India Water Week have been sent to all concerned Ministries of Central Government as well as all state governments for their appropriate implementation.

Infrastructure Development

MoRTH to promote new technologies in highway projects

  • The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) has decided to implement “Value Engineering Program” to promote use of new technologies, materials and equipment in highways projects executed either under Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode or public funding mode.

Value Engineering Program

  • The objective of programme is to use innovative technology, materials and equipment to reduce cost of projects and make them more environment friendly.
  • It also aims to ensure that roads or bridges and other assets get constructed much faster, are structurally stronger and more durable.

National Panel of Experts (NPE)

  • The MoRTH also has reconstituted nine-member National Panel of Experts (NPE) for approving proposals for use of new technologies, material and equipment in highway sector.
  • The reconstituted panel will be chaired by SR Tambe, former Secretary, PWD Maharashtra and co-chaired by Prof Ravi Sinha, IIT Mumbai.

Terms of Reference of NPE

  • The NPE will examine all technical matters involving new technologies, materials and equipment referred to it by concerned Engineers or contractors.
  • It will also resolve technical issues which arise as result of difference in view between engineers and contractors regarding implementation of new and innovative technologies, materials and equipment.
  • It will also decide about need for field trials of any new or innovative technology, materials, equipment before its adoption and also finalize associated design approaches, construction methodologies as well as relevant specifications, guidelines, code so that contractor may use proposed new, alternative materials, technologies, equipment in project highway.

Defence

1 TS Ships Visit Penang, Malaysia

  • IN Ships Tir, Sujata, Sudarshini, Shardul and ICGS Sarathi are visiting Penang, Malaysia from 08 to 12 Oct 17.
  • The visit is aimed to expose the trainees to the conduct of IN warship in foreign waters, port familiarisation and foster ‘bridges of friendship’ between the two countries.
  • The ships belong to the First Training Squadron of the Indian Navy functioning under the Southern Naval Command, headquartered at Kochi and comprises six indigenously built ships, namely, Indian Naval Ships Tir, Sujata, Shardul, Indian Coast Guard Ship Sarathi and two Sail Training Ships, viz, INS Sudarshini and INS Tarangini