Daily Current Affairs

Prelims Prominence - September 14, 2017

National Day

The National Hindi Divas – 14 Sep.

  • Observed on 14 September
  • Particularly in Hindi speaking regions of India and other countries with Hindi speaking population.

Aim -

  • To propagate Hindi language and its cultural heritage and values.
  • To promote Hindi as matra bhasha (mother tongue) of India and show its importance as a language in country and world at large.

Enlighten about Hindi Divas

  • It is celebrated to mark adaptation of Hindi language as the offcial language of India by the Constituent Assembly of India on 14 September 1949.
  • The decision of using Hindi as offcial language was ratified by Constitution of India which came into effect on 26 January 1950.
  • Under the Article 343 of Indian Constitution, Hindi written in Devanagri script was adopted as the official language.
  • But presently, there are 2 official languages: Hindi and English

Bilateral Relations

2nd edition of – INDIA-AFGHANISTAN Strategic Partnership Council

Where –

  • Held in New Delhi

Chaired by –

  • The meeting was co-chaired by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani.

Enlighten about the meeting –

  • Both countries exchanged four pacts in areas of health, transport (motor vehicles agreement), space and new development partnership.

Enlighten about the takeaways -

  • The Council discussed a range of bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest and shared understanding and convergence of views on them.
  • They agreed to strengthen security cooperation between the two countries.

Peace and reconciliation process:

  • Indian reiterated its support for an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process.
  • India also agreed to extend further assistance for the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces in fighting terrorism, organized crime, tracking of narcotics and money laundering.

Connectivity:

  • Development of Chahbahar Port in trilateral cooperation with Iran is being expedited.
  • Both sides stressed on need to make regional Transit and Trade Agreement more inclusive and comprehensive by expanding it both northwards and southwards to connect South Asia with Central Asia.

Developmental Projects:

  • Both sides agreed to take up 116 High Impact Community Development Projects to be implemented in 31 provinces ofAfghanistan, including in areas of education, health, agriculture, drinking water, renewable energy, food control, and administrative infrastructure.

Trade and investment:

  • Both sides agreed to identify products and measures to enhance bilateral trade, including direct trade in gemstones, pharmaceuticals, and agri-products.
  • India announced liberalization of visa measures for Afghan nationals, including decision to grant upto 5 year multiple entry business visa.

Regular meetings:

  • They agreed to have regular meetings of the Joint Working Groups, including to monitor implementation of the decisions taken.
  • They also agreed to hold 3rd meeting of Strategic Partnership Council in Kabul on mutually convenient dates in 2018.

Enlighten about The India-Afghanistan Partnership Council

  • It was established according to the Strategic Partnership Agreement signed between both countries in 2011.
  • The council is supposed to meet annually.
  • The first meeting was held in May 2012.
  • Later it was delayed due to elections in India and Afghanistan, as well as other REASONS

Economy

2017 Global Financial Centres Index (GFCI) – topped by LONDON

  • London has topped in the GFCI among 92 nancial centres released by the Z/Yen and China Development Institute.
  • India’s financial capital Mumbai was ranked at 60th position, up by three positions compared to previous edition.

Enlighten about Global Financial Centres Index

  • The index is ranking of the competitiveness of financial centres based on aggregate of indices from five key areas:
  • 1. Business environment,
    2. Financial sector development,
    3. Infrastructure factors,
    4. Human capital,
    5. Reputation and general factors.

  • It is published twice a year.
  • It is widely quoted as a source for ranking financial centres.

Some more details -

  • London and New York remain in first and second places.
  • Hong Kong has moved just ahead of Singapore.
  • Tokyo remains in fifth.
  • The index shows that London is globe’s most attractive financial centre despite Britain’s looming departure from the European Union.

Environment & Ecology

Indian sedimentary basins – Survey Projected approved by CCEA

  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved survey project to acquire 48,243 Line Kilometer (LKM) 2D seismic data for appraisal of Indian sedimentary basins where limited data is available.

Sedimentary basin

  • It is a low area in the Earth’s crust, of tectonic origin, in which sediments accumulate.
  • It can range from as small as hundreds of meters to large parts of ocean basins.
  • India has total 26 sedimentary basins covering area of 3.14 Million Sq Km (MSK) spread over onland, shallow water and deep water.
  • 48% of total sedimentary basin area (about 1.502 MSK) does not have adequate geo-scientic data.

Enlighten about the project -

  • The project will be implemented by Oil India Limited (OIL) and Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC). Under it, survey work will be carried out in 24 States.
  • OIL will conduct survey in North-Eastern States, while ONGC will cover remaining area.
  • The entire project is likely to be completed by 2019-20.
  • After appraisal of these sedimentary basins, blocks will be offered for further exploration and production activities based on prospectivity of area.
  • It will help in increasing the investments in domestic production of oil and gas and generate direct and indirect employment.

Signicance

  • The appraisal of all unappraised areas is considered an important task to launch future Exploration and Production (E&P) activities.
  • Data acquisition will provide initial insight into basins and help in planning future E&P activities.

Cabinet Decisions

Payment of Gratuity (Amendment) Bill, 2017

  • The Union Cabinet has given approved introduction of the Payment of Gratuity (Amendment) Bill, 2017 in the Parliament.
  • The Bill seeks to amend Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972.
  • The Amendment will increase maximum limit of gratuity of employees, in Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs)/Autonomous Organizations under Government and in private sector who are not covered under Central Civil Services (Pension) Rules, 1972, at par with Central Government employees.

Background

MoU between –

  • The Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972 is an important social security legislation to wage earning population in industries, factories and establishments.
  • It was enacted to provide social security to workmen after retirement, whether retirement is result of rules of superannuation, or physical disablement or impairment of vital body part.
  • It applies to establishments employing 10 or more persons.
  • The present upper ceiling on gratuity amount under Act was Rs. 10 Lakh.
  • The provisions for Union Government employees under CCS (Pension) Rules, 1972 with regard to gratuity are also similar.
  • Before implementation of 7th Central Pay Commission, ceiling under CCS (Pension) Rules was Rs. 10 Lakh. However, withimplementation of 7th Central Pay Commission from January 2-016, the gratuity ceiling was increased to Rs. 20 Lakhs

National

Formation of Separate tower infrastructure company – owned by BSNL

  • Approved by Union Cabinet

What

  • Proposal for hiving off mobile tower assets of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) into a separate tower infrastructure company, fully owned by BSNL.

Signicance

  • The Cabinet approval authorizes BSNL to monetize its telecom tower infrastructure with formation of separate subsidiary company.
  • Independent, dedicated tower company of BSNL with a focused approach will help to increase BSNL’s external tenancies and generate higher revenue for new company.

Tower Infrastructure Company

  • The tower infrastructure company owns passive infrastructure assets (tower structure, Diesel Generator sets, power interface unit, battery units, airconditioning etc) and leases it to telecom service providers.
  • It enables telecom companies to achieve economies of scale and reduce capital investment costs for providing mobile services.
  • It helps them to minimize duplication of investments and economize on costs of Operation and Maintenance (O&M), thereby improving PROFITABILITY

National Security

Sir Creek is very important for national security: Nirmala Sitharaman

  • Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman recently said that Sir Creek, located on the Gujarat border with Pakistan, is a “very important place” for national security, particularly Gujarat’s security
  • The demarcation of the 96 km strip of water in the Rann of Kutch marshlands was one of the factors that contributed to the 1965 India-Pakistan war
  • India and Pakistan have discussed about the land boundary in the Sir Creek area and also delimitation of International Maritime Boundary between India and Pakistan. They have expressed their desire to find an amicable solution of the Sir Creek issue through sustained and result- oriented dialogue.

What you need to know about Sir Creek –

  • Sir Creek is a 96-km strip of water disputed between India and Pakistan in the Rann of Kutch marshlands.
  • Originally named Ban Ganga, Sir Creek is named after a British representative.
  • The Creek opens up in the Arabian Sea and roughly divides the Kutch region of Gujarat from the Sindh Province of Pakistan.

Know about the dispute

  • The dispute lies in the interpretation of the maritime boundary line between Kutch and Sindh.
  • Before India’s independence, the provincial region was a part of the Bombay Presidency of British India.
  • But after India’s independence in 1947, Sindh became a part of Pakistan while Kutch remained a part of India.
  • Pakistan claims the entire creek as per paragraphs 9 and 10 of the Bombay Government Resolution of 1914 signed between then the Government of Sindh and Rao Maharaj of Kutch.
  • The resolution, which demarcated the boundaries between the two territories, included the creek as part of Sindh, thus setting the boundary as the eastern flank of the creek popularly known as Green Line.
  • But India claims that the boundary lies mid-channel as depicted in another map drawn in 1925, and implemented by the installation of mid-channel pillars back in 1924.

Importance of Sir Creek –

  • Sir Creek’s core importance is fishing resources.
  • Sir Creek is considered to be among the largest fishing grounds in Asia.
  • Another vital reason for two countries locking horns over this creek is the possible presence of great oil and gas concentration under the sea, which are currently unexploited

Bilateral Issues

Open to talks on reopening Nathu la for Kailash pilgrims – China

  • China on Tuesday indicated that it is ready to continue communication with India over reopening Nathu La in Sikkim to facilitate the Kailash Mansarovar pilgrimage
  • The route was closed in June following tension over the Doklam standoff.
  • The Sikkim route to Mansarovar was opened in 2015
  • Regarding sharing hydrological data with India on the Brahmaputra and Sutlej rivers, China said that it was not possible as data stations in Tibet were being upgraded.