Daily Current Affairs

Prelims Prominence - October 13, 2017

Cyber Security

5th Global Conference on Cyber Space’

  • The Global Conference on Cyber Space (GCCS) 2017 is getting bigger and better.
  • The 5th edition, being hosted by India is to be inaugurated by the Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi on November 23, 2017.
  • For those who are not travelling to Delhi, about 800 locations around the world will be connected to GCCS 2017 through video conference and 2000 locations through webinars.
  • ‘Cyber4All’ will be the main theme of this largest ever event of its kind with four sub-themes - Cyber4InclusiveGrowth, Cyber4Digitalinclusion, Cyber4Security and Cyber4Diplomacy
  • There will be conferences, particularly on niche topics such as Blockchain technology, Internet of Things, Proliferation of Indic languages and Smart Cities. The rising ESDM sector in India, National Software Policy India, and Cyber Policy will be some of the key focus sessions.
  • A unique initiative at the 5th GCCS is the Global Cyber Challenge called Peace-a-thon.
  • The open challenge to computer wizards will be hosted by top Universities worldwide for competing in a Hackathon and an Appathon.

Waste Management

India’s first Sewage Treatment Plant under Hybrid Annuity Mode to come up in Haridwar and Varanasi

  • A tripartite agreement has been signed between National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) and the state level executing agencies Uttarakhand Pey Jal Nigam and Uttar Pradesh Jal Nigam, with concessionaires for setting up of India’s first Sewage Treatment Plants under Hybrid Annuity mode, at Haridwar and Varanasi.

Hybrid Annuity Model

  • The Government of India had accorded Cabinet approval to Hybrid Annuity-PPP model in January 2016 with 100% central sector funding.
  • Under this model, the development, operation and maintenance of the sewage treatment STPs will be undertaken by a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to be created by the winning bidder at the local level.
  • As per this model, 40% of the Capital cost quoted would be paid on completion of construction while the remaining 60% of the cost will be paid over the life of the project as annuities along with operation and maintenance cost (O&M) expenses.
  • One of the most important features of this model is that both the Annuity and O&M payments are linked to the performance of the STP.
  • This will ensure continued performance of the assets created due to better accountability, ownership and optimal performance.

Cabinet Decisions

Cabinet approves MoU between India and Belarus for Cooperation in the field of Vocational Education and Training

  • First time an MoU for cooperation in area of vocational education, training and skill development has been signed with Eurasian country.

The areas of cooperation are as under

  • The Belarusian side shall provide comprehensive transfer of know-how of emerging technologies, training and evaluation methodologies, content development for regular / distance learning / e-learning/training of master trainers, compCLcy building of the assessors in area of their compCLcy and network building & industry linkage.
  • Vocational education services for Indian citizens for skill development in the field of construction, electric-power production and distribution, manufacturing industry, trade, auto service and household goods repair and maintenance, transport, communication, hotels and restaurants as well as other fields being in high demand in India.
  • Retraining, up-skilling, internship for Vocational Education and Training managers, teachers and trainers of India by the Belarusian Side.
  • Advisory services in order to enhance planning, management and delivery of Vocational Education and Training and Skill Development.

Social/Economy Issues

India could provide basic annual income of Rs 2600 a year: IMF

The draft bill

  • In its ‘Fiscal Monitor – Tackling Inequality’, the IMF has discussed UBI.

IMF’s observations on the idea of providing a UBI:

  • IMF estimates India could provide a universal basic income (UBI) of Rs 2,600 a year to every person if it eliminates food and energy subsidies.
  • Even such a modest level of UBI will incur a fiscal cost of about 3% of GDP, but would outperform the public food distribution and fuel subsidies on three counts.
  • It will address the under coverage of the near 20% lower income groups in the PDS, address the issue of higher income groups cornering bigger subsidies and increase generosity benefits received by the lower income groups.
  • In case of fuel subsidies, the IMF simulation goes beyond budget subsidy of cost-price difference to the extent prices are “below efficient levels that would internalize the negative externalities associated with fossil fuel consumption”.
  • The flip side of this is that eliminating the wider subsidies would require a sharper increase in prices than the case when budget subsidies are removed.
  • The IMF cites a 2016 study that pegs the order of increase at gasoline (67%), diesel (69%), kerosene (10%), LPG (94%) and coal (455%).

International Organisations

Cabinet approves change of status for marine body IALA

  • Union Cabinet approved status change of International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (IALA) from Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) to Inter-Governmental Organization (IGO).
  • The move will bring IALA at par with International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and International Hydrographic Organisation (IHO).
  • Moreover, it will facilitate safe, economic and efficient movement of vessels.

Enlighten about IALA

  • In its 12th session held in La Coruna, Spain in May 2014, IALA General Assembly had adopted resolution stating its firm belief that status of IALA from NGO to IGO will best facilitate lALA’s aims in 21st century

International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (IALA)

  • The IALA is an inter-governmental organization for collecting and providing nautical expertise and advice.
  • It was established in 1957 under French law and has headquarters at St. Germainen Laye (France).
  • It is governed by a General Assembly having 83 National members, with its Council as the executive body.
  • The IALA council consists of 24 National Members including India which is represented through Directorate General of Lighthouses and Lightships (DGLL), Ministry of Shipping. DGLL establishes and maintains Aids to Navigation in general waters along coast of India including Lakshadweep and Andaman & Nicobar group of islands, as per Lighthouse Act 1927.

Cabinet Decisions/ Bilateral Relations

Cabinet approves MoC between India and Japan to establish Liquid, Flexible and Global LNG Market

  • The Union Cabinet approved signing of Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) between India and Japan on establishing a liquid, flexible and global Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Market.
  • The MoC provides framework to cooperate in facilitating flexibility in LNG contracts, explore possibilities of cooperation in establishing reliable LNG spot price indices reflecting true LNG demand and supply and abolition of Destination Restriction Clause.
  • The MoC aims to promote bilateral relationship between India and Japan in the energy sector.
  • It also seeks to contribute to the diversification of gas supplies for India to strengthen energy security and provide more competitive prices for consumers.

Enlighten about it -

  • India and Japan are major consumers of energy in world.
  • In LNG sector, Japan is world’s largest importer and India is 4th largest importer.
  • Under the Japan-India Energy Partnership Initiative signed in January 2016, both countries had agreed to work together in promoting well-functioning energy markets and affirmed to promote a transparent and diversified LNG market through relaxation of Destination Restriction Clause.

International Day

October 11: International Day of the Girl Child

  • The International Day of the Girl Child is observed on October 11 every year across world to recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world.
  • Observance of the day seeks to increase awareness of gender inequality faced by girls worldwide based upon their gender and supports more opportunity for girls.
  • This year it was sixth edition of this day after it was observed for first time in 2012.
  • The 2017 theme of the day is ‘EmPOWER girls: Before, during and after conflict’.
  • It aims to end humanitarian emergencies especially gender-based violence in which girls are more likely to be subjected to sexual and physical violence, child marriage, exploitation and trafficking.

Textile Sector

44th Indian Handicrafts and Gifts-Delhi Fair inaugurated in New Delhi

  • The 44th edition of Indian Handicrafts and Gifts (IHGF)-Delhi Fair was held at India Expo Centre and Mart on outskirts of Delhi in Greater Noida.
  • It was organised by Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts (EPCH) and was inaugurated by Union Textiles Minister Smriti Irani.

Enlighten about it –

  • The five-day B2B IHGF Fair was biggest platform in National Capital Region (NCR) for promotion of handicrafts business.
  • It will showcase nearly three thousand exhibitors under 14 product categories.
  • More than 100 countries including US, UK, Russia, France, Germany, Italy, Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Japan and Korea are participating in the fair.

IHGF Delhi Fair

  • IHGF is amongst Asia’s largest gifts & handicrafts fair, held biannually (Spring & Autumn edition).
  • It is organised by Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts (EPCH). IHGF Autumn Fair has been hallmark for growth of the Indian handicrafts sector for over 23 years

Index Report

Global Hunger Index 2017: India ranks 100th among 119 nations

  • India ranked 100th position among 119 countries on Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2017 report released by Washington-based International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  • This year slipped by three positions as compared to 97th rank in 2016 GHI.

Global Hunger Index (GHI)

  • GHI is multidimensional measure that describes state of hunger situation on regional, national and global level.
  • It is published annually by International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) since 2006.
  • It ranks countries on a 0 to 100-point scale calculated by taking into account four indicator parameters. Zero means best score (no hunger) and 100 is worst.
  • The four parameters are (i) Undernourished population (1/3rd weight), (ii) Child wasting (1/6th weight), (iii) Child stunting (1/6th weight) and (iii) Infant mortality rate (1/3rd weight).
  • In this case stunting means deficiency in height in relation to age, reflects chronic undernutrition and wasting means low weight in relation to a child’s height, reflects acute undernutrition.

2017 GHI Highlights

  • India Related Facts: In 2017 GHI, India scored 31.4 and was placed in high end of “serious” category.
  • India low ranking also influences South Asia’s regional score as three quarters of South Asia’s population reside in India.
  • India’s neighbours ranking are Nepal (72), Myanmar (77), Bangladesh (88), Sri Lanka (84) and China (29)—except Pakistan (106) and Afghanistan (107). Even North Korea (93) and Iraq (78) fared better in hunger parameters and GHI rankings,
  • More than 20% of Indian children under the age of five have lower weight in relation to their height and about 33% are too short in relation to their age.
  • Despite India being world’s second largest food producer it has second highest under-nourished population in the world.
  • Africa hasworst score: The Central African Republic (CAR) has the highest GHI score and has been categorised as “extremely alarming”.
  • It is followed by Chad, Sierra Leone, Madagascar and Zambia.

Social Issues

Sex with wife below 18 years is rape – Supreme Court

SC Judgement

  • The Supreme Court has criminalized sexual intercourse by a husband with his wife who is under 18 years of age
  • The decision applies to all faiths

Contradictory provisions

  • Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code--15 years, is not rape
  • However, the age of consent is 18 years

SC statement regarding this

  • SC Judges read down this exception arguing that it was inconsistent with other statutes dealing with children such as The Prohibition of Prevention of Child Marriage Act (PCMA), Juvenile Justice Act and The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
  • It was also contrary to the philosophy and ethos of Article 15(3) , Article 21 of the Constitution and our commitments in international conventions and to the philosophy behind some statutes, the bodily integrity of the girl child and her reproductive choice
  • Child marriages not only violated human rights, it also affects the health of the child
  • SC also pointed to the need for amending PCMA as a lot of child trafficking is taking place under the garb of marriage including child marriage

Will previous cases of child marriages/rape be reconsidered?

  • The judgment will have “prospective effect” meaning it will not apply to past cases
  • Cognizance of such offenses can be taken only in accordance with the provisions of section 198(6) of the Criminal Procedure Code
  • The provision says that court shall not take cognizance of an offense under Section 376 IPC “if more than one year has elapsed from the date of commission of the offense”

Statistics related to Child marriages/rape

  • The National Family Health Survey-4, 2015-2016 found that at the time of carrying out the survey in 2014, amongst women in the age group of 20-24 years, almost 26.8% women were married before they attained the age of 18 years
  • This means more than one out of 4 marriages was of a girl child
  • A report based on the 2011 Census reveals a shocking aspect that girls below the age of 18 years are subjected to three times more marital rape as compared to the grown-up women


GST rates on oil exploration & production - reduced by centre

Oil exploration and production under GST regime

  • Setting the stage for inclusion of some of the petroleum products in the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime, the government has reduced GST rates for exploration and production sector
  • This is to reduce the cascading effect arising on account of non-inclusion of petrol, diesel, aviation turbine fuel, natural gas and crude oil

Skill India

SKILL Development – CCEA approves two WORLD BANK Backed Schemes

Approval of Schemes by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs(CCEA)

  • The schemes are aimed to set up national bodies for accreditation and certification which shall regulate accreditation and certification in both long- and short-term Vocational Education and Training

Particulars of the Schemes

  • Skills Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion (SANKALP) is a Rs 4,455-crore centrally sponsored scheme, including Rs 3,300 crore loan support from WB
  • Skill Strengthening for Industrial Value Enhancement (STRIVE) is a Rs 2,200-crore central sector scheme, with half of the scheme outlay as WB loan assistance

STRIVE scheme

  • STRIVE scheme will incentivize ITIs to improve overall performance including apprenticeship by involving SMEs (Small Scale Enterprises), business association and industry clusters.
  • It will develop robust mechanism for delivering quality skill development training by strengthening institutions- National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), State Skill Development Missions (SSDMs), Sector Skill Councils, ITIs and National Skill Development Agency (NSDA) etc.
  • It will support universalization of National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF) including National Quality Assurance Framework (NQAF) across skill development schemes.
  • It will provide required push to National Skill Development Mission 2015 and its various sub missions. It is also aligned to flagship Government programs such as Make in India and Swachhta Abhiyan.

SANKALP scheme

  • SANKALP scheme envisages setting up of Trainers and Assessors academies with self-sustainable models.
  • Over 50 such academies are to be set up in priority sectors. It will leverage institutions for training trainers in both long and short term VET thereby bringing about convergence.
  • Additional trainer academies will also be set up.
  • It will focus on greater decentralization in skill planning by institutional strengthening at State level which includes setting up of SSDMs and allow states to come up with State and District level Skill Development Plans (SSDPDSDP).