Daily Current Affairs

Prelims Prominence - October 27, 2017

Banking Sector

Recapitalisation of bank

Experts on bank recapitalisation plan of the government

  • According to some experts, the government’s mega bank recapitalisation plan is likely to push up its debt levels, repayment obligations and bond yields
  • Rating agencies are likely to see the Rs 1.35 lakh crore recap bond as credit positive for banks but credit negative for the government as the debt to GDP ratio rises
  • The debt to GDP ratio is already very high for India as against similar BBB-rated countries

Level of debt to GDP ratio

  • India’s debt-GDP ratio was 67.9 per cent in 2016-17
  • NK Singh panel had proposed bringing it down to 40 per cent for Central govt and 20 per cent for state governments by 2022-23

RBI on recapitalisation bonds

  • The RBI will have to decide whether these bonds qualify as banks statutory liquidity ratio (SLR) — which is the portion of deposits (currently 19.5 per cent) to be parked in government securities
  • If the RBI allows SLR status, it will have a significant impact on the demand for normal government bonds

Digital India

Legal protection for digital payments

  • The Home Ministry has asked banks and e-wallet firms to furnish details of the extent of financial fraud reported in the past one year as digital transactions picked up post demonetization.
  • The use of mobile wallets and online transactions has spiked since then.
  • The Ministry convened a high-level committee to understand the extent of technological misuse and financial frauds committed through digital means.
  • The Centre is planning to bring changes to the law to check frauds in the financial sector.

What does the data say?

  • Representational data available with the RBI show that the value of prepaid payment instruments increased from Rs. 1,320 crore in November 2016 to Rs. 2,760 crore in September 2017.
  • By an estimate of security agencies, nearly 10,000 fraud transactions are being reported every month through e-wallet platforms.
  • Pre-demonetisation, the figure stood at 4,000.
  • Approximately 45 lakh cybersecurity attacks were observed in the past three years.
  • Information reported to, and tracked by, the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) shows an increase in cybersecurity incidents.

Economy

New Policy for e-commerce by the Union Government

  • The Union government is working on a new policy to expand the footprint of the Indian e-commerce sector to tap potential markets outside the country, including Africa and Southeast Asia.
  • This is part of efforts to achieve the target of making India a trillion-dollar digital economy in the next seven years.

There will be two aspects to it:

  • It will focus on expansion within India, and the other on global expansion.

The e-commerce economy

  • The e-commerce economy is currently pegged at $30 billion, and the government expects it to grow at $150 billion by 2024-25.
  • E-commerce is set to grow 19-fold in generating employment.
  • The digital economy in the country was forecast to generate employment for about 30 million people by 2024-25 which is double than the current scenario.
  • While electronics, telecom and IT/ITeS sector will be the top three contributors, e-commerce is expected to create jobs for 6 million people.

Steps taken by the government to push digital economy

  • The government is also working on a strategy to make India a hub for data analytics, cloud computing and financial technology, besides encouraging development of Internet of Things, to push the digital economy.
  • The national programme for developing 5 lakh resources for data analytics and AI [Artificial Intelligence] will be formulated and approved by the end of this year.
  • The draft for the Data Protection Act is likely to be ready by December 2017 which will provide a policy framework on digital economy, including social media.
  • The government will also ready a security framework for mobile devices and the mobile application ecosystem by March 2018.

India – EU free trade agreement

  • Free Trade agreement won’t be scaled down
  • India and the European Union are not considering a scaled-down version of the Free Trade Agreement between them
  • An early harvest scheme [to identify a limited number of areas pending the conclusion of FTA talks] is not being considered

Early Harvest scheme

  • Early harvest scheme is a precursor to a free trade agreement (FTA) between two trading partners
  • This is to help the two trading countries to identify certain products for tariff liberalization pending the conclusion of FTA negotiation
  • It is primarily a confidence-building measure

Energy Sector

Start-up Programmes for entrepreneurs in Oil and Gas sector

  • Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Skill Development and Entrepreneurship launched new Start-up Programmes for entrepreneurs in Oil and Gas sector and said that it is important to develop new business models, marketing plans, technology and innovations in the sector.

Steps Taken:

  • Oil and gas PSUs have setup venture capital funds to encourage start-ups based on innovative ideas in the energy sector.
  • 10 public sector undertakings under the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, including the IOCL, ONGC, EIL, OIL, NRL, BPCL, HPCL, GAIL and MRPL, have created a corpus of Rs. 320 crore to support start-up initiatives.

The 10 oil PSUs have together selected nearly 30 start-up projects for support in the first round of the scheme which include

  • Electronic leak detector for detecting body and bung leak of LPG cylinders
  • Self – sustaining low-maintenances toilets, or eco-toilets
  • Multi use Fuel from Agricultural Waste Biomass
  • Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) for underwater inspections
  • Converting waste plastics to high value petroleum fuels
  • Solar Stove- Revolutionary Day and Night Indoor Solar Cooktop System for all lifestyles

Significance:

  • It will change the status of the youth of our country from job seeker to that of job provider.
  • There has been a constant flow of applications and some extremely innovative ideas from a varying age group (from a fresh engineering graduate to a 70-year-old entrepreneur) from across the country.
  • Business partnership between the start-ups and the PSUs of Petroleum Ministry will create a new benchmark for growth and job creation

Science & Tech

Ichthyosaur fossil discovered for first time in India

  • Scientists in India have discovered a 152 million-year-old fossil of an Ichthyosaur – an extinct marine reptile – in the western state of Gujarat.

Enlighten about it

  • The fossil (5.5 m) was found inside rocks from the Mesozoic Era, which ran between 252 and 66 million years ago, in the Kutch desert.
  • Specimen can be identified with Ophthalmosauridae, a family of ichthyosaurs that lived in the oceans between 165 and 90 million years ago.
  • Examination of the teeth of the fossil suggests that it was a top-tier predator in its ecosystem

Ichthyosaur:

  • Often misidentified as “swimming dinosaurs”, they first appeared in the early Triassic period.
  • The name means fish-lizard, although the creature has been classified as a reptile since the mid-19th Century
  • The creature was noted for its sharp, robust teeth.
  • Ichthyosaurs became extinct before the dinosaurs, dying out in the early part of the late Cretaceous period

World Ranking

Global Passport Power Rank 2017: India ranks 75

  • India’s passport was ranked 75th among 94 countries in recently released Global Passport Power Rank 2017. India was ranked three notches better than its previous ranking.
  • According to this index, Singapore has world’s most powerful passport, making it first Asian country to top it. Singapore is followed by Germany, Sweden and South Korea.

Facts regarding this

  • In this edition of index, Singapore’s passport scored visa-free score of 159.It means that approximately 3.4 million holders of Singaporean passports can now travel to 159 countries either without visa or can have one issued on arrival.
  • Historically, top 10 most powerful passports in world were mostly European, with Germany having lead

Environment

Singapore caps car numbers

  • Singapore, one of the most expensive places in the world to buy a vehicle, will freeze the number of private cars on its roads for at least two years, a rare move in Asia where many cities are increasingly gridlocked.
  • It applies to private cars and motorcycles, but not to goods vehicles and buses.

Defence

Indian Navy approves new mission-based deployment plan

  • Indian Navy has approved new mission-based deployment plan for deploying mission-ready ships and aircraft along critical sea lanes of communications and choke points in Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
  • It was discussed in the ongoing naval commanders’ conference.

New mission-based Deployment Plan

  • Under this mission-based deployment plan, Indian Navy’s 14-15 ships will be deployed year-round in region to meet any eventuality across spectrum of operations ranging from acts of maritime terrorism and piracy to Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief (HADR) missions.
  • These deployments are aimed at maintaining 24/7 and round the year vigil with ships being sustained and turned around on station.
  • The areas where these ships and corvettes and surveillance aircraft are being deployed include the Malacca Strait, North Andaman Sea, Andaman Sea including Bangladesh and Myanmar, Lakshadweep islands and Maldives, besides Madagascar and Persian Gulf.
  • These vessels will monitor increased Chinese presence in these areas.

New transition cycle

  • It will allow for focused and gradual transition of ships from periods of maintenance layoffs to full-scale operations.
  • It focuses efforts of operational commanders on training and safety inspections of ships before deployment

Regional Organisations

First BIMSTEC Task Force on Traditional Medicine meeting held in New Delhi

  • The first-ever meeting of BIMSTEC Task Force on Traditional Medicine (BITFM) was held at Parvasi Bhartiya Kendra in New Delhi.
  • It was organized by Union Ministry of AYUSH.

Enlighten about it

  • The Meeting discussed important agendas such as implementation of strategies of BITFM, priority areas for technical and research collaboration among member states on traditional medicine.
  • It also discussed regional strategy on protection of Genetic Resource associated with traditional medicine knowledge and intellectual property rights, human resource development and capacity building among BIMSTEC States.
  • It also discussed new initiatives, proposals and programmes for cooperation on traditional medicine among BITFM

About the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC):

  • It is a regional organization comprising 7 Member States lying in the littoral and adjacent areas of the Bay of Bengal constituting a contiguous regional unity.
  • This sub-regional organization came into being on 6 June 1997 through the Bangkok Declaration.
  • It constitutes seven Member States: five deriving from South Asia, including Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and two from Southeast Asia, including Myanmar and Thailand.
  • Initially, the economic bloc was formed with four Member States with the acronym 'BIST-EC' (Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and Thailand Economic Cooperation).
  • Following the inclusion of Myanmar on 22 December 1997 during a special Ministerial Meeting in Bangkok, the Group was renamed 'BIMST-EC' (Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand Economic Cooperation).
  • With the admission of Nepal and Bhutan at the 6th Ministerial Meeting (February 2004, Thailand), the name of the grouping was changed to 'Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation' (BIMSTEC).

Vigilance Awareness Week

  • The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) has decided that this year's Vigilance Awareness Week to be observed from 30th October to 4th November, 2017 with theme “My Vision-Corruption Free India”