IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains
Focus)- 25th October 2018
(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)
Centre sets up GoM on sexual harassment
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Social/Women issue; Polity
- The Centre established a Group of Ministers to recommend measures to effectively implement the law against sexual harassment at the workplace and to strengthen the legal and institutional framework in response to the #MeToo campaign.
- The GoM to come up with a comprehensive plan within three months and devise ways to ensure its time-bound implementation.
- Earlier, the Centre had set up a panel of legal luminaries, recommended by Ms. Gandhi on the lines of the Justice Verma Committee, to do the above task. (However, now that panel has been quietly junked and task is transferred to GoM)
Important Value Additions
What is “Groups of Ministers (GoMs)” in relation to Indian Polity?
- Group of Ministers (GoM) are ad hoc bodies or inter-Ministerial panel formed to give recommendations to the cabinet on certain emergent issues and critical problem areas.
- During the UPA regime (from past two decades), the institution of GoMs had become a viable and effective instrument of coordination among the ministries. Ministers heading the concerned ministries were inducted into the relevant GoMs and when the advice is crystallised they were disbanded.
- The system of GoMs was intended to operate as a single window clearance on crucial issues related to various ministries with the objective of expediting policy making and good governance.
Do you know?
Both Group of Ministers (GoMs) and Empowered GoMs (EGoMs) get appointed under the Government of India’s Transaction of Business Rules 1961, which at para 6 (4) provides that ‘Ad hoc Committees of Ministers including Group of Ministers may be appointed by the Cabinet, the Standing Committees of the Cabinet or by the Prime Minister for investigating and reporting to the Cabinet on such matters as may be specified, and, if so authorised by the Cabinet, Standing Committees of the Cabinet or the Prime Minister, for taking decisions on such matters.’
Panel on sustainable development goals
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Governance; Issues relating to development and management of Social services
- The Cabinet approved the setting up of a high-level steering committee chaired by the Chief Statistician of India and Secretary to the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation to review if India was on track to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
- The panel would decide if there was a need to “refine” indicators by reviewing the National Indicator Framework periodically.
- The committee would recommend measures to “mainstream” SDGs into ongoing national policies, programmes and strategic action plans to address the developmental challenges.
- The SDGs are a list of 17 goals, including elimination of poverty, ending hunger, ensuring provision of quality education, clean water and sanitation, that countries must achieve by 2030.
Indian Institutes of Skills: Skill development centres on PPP Model
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Skill development; Education, Human Resources development ; Government schemes and policies
- Government approves scheme for setting up Indian Institute of Skills
- The Centre has decided to set up skill development institutes on government land, in partnership with private players, across the country.
- The public-private partnership model will be adopted to set up the institutes — to be called the Indian Institutes of Skills — at select locations, based on demand and available infrastructure.
- The institutes are expected to help boost the global competitiveness of key industry sectors by providing high-quality skill training, applied research education and a direct and meaningful connection with the industry.
Do you know?
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi had laid foundation stone of the country’s first Indian Institute of Skills (IIS) in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh to make India the Skill Capital of the World.
About Indian Institute of Skills (IIS)
- The IIS is being opened by the Union Skill Development Ministry in partnership with the Institute of Technical Education, Singapore.
- The idea of IIS was conceptualised by PM Modi during his visit to Singapore’s Institute of Technical Education.
- Its primary objective is to empower India’s youth to be more employable and self-sustainable.
- The Union Skill Development Ministry has planned to set up six such institutes across country in coming years.
SC to ban sale of BS-IV vehicles from 2020
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Environmental concerns; Pollution
- The Supreme Court banned the sale and registration of motor vehicles conforming to the emission standard Bharat Stage-IV in the entire country from April 1, 2020.
- It said – ‘No compromise on public health’
- The country will have to shift to the cleaner Bharat- VI fuel from April 1, 2020.
About Bharat Stage (BS) emission norms
- BS norms are standards instituted by the government to regulate output of air pollutants from motor vehicles.
Do you know?
- The BS-IV norms have been enforced across the country since April 2017. In 2016, the Centre had announced that the country would skip the BS-V norms altogether and adopt BS-VI norms by 2020.
Centre’s nod for ₹7,522 cr. fisheries fund
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II and III – Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections; Infrastructure; Fisheries and Aquaculture
- The Centre has set up a ₹7,522-crore fund to create infrastructure facilities for the fisheries sector.
- The move is expected to boost annual fish production to 20 million tonnes by 2022-23 from the current production of 11.4 million tonnes.
Fisheries and Aquaculture Infrastructure Development Fund (FIDF)
- The establishment of the FIDF was approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs.
- National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), National Cooperatives Development Corporation (NCDC) and all scheduled Banks (hereinafter referred as Banks) shall be the nodal Loaning Entities.
- Creation of fisheries infrastructure facilities both in marine and inland fisheries sectors.
- To augment fish production to achieve its target of 15 million tonne by 2020 set under the Blue Revolution; and to achieve a sustainable growth of 8% -9% thereafter to reach the fish production to the level of about 20 MMT by 2022-23.
- Employment opportunities to over 9.40 lakh fishers/fishermen/fisherfolk and other entrepreneurs in fishing and allied activities.
- To attract private investment in creation and management of fisheries infrastructure facilities.
- Adoption of new technologies.
Do you know?
Under FIDF, loan lending will be over a period of five years from 2018-19 to 2022-23 and maximum repayment will be over a period of 12 years inclusive of moratorium of two years on repayment of principal.
Israel, India sign $777 mn missile deal
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II and III – International relations; India and the world; Defence
- India and Israel has signed a $777 mn deal
- Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) to supply additional Barak-8 Long Range Surface to Air Missile (LRSAM) systems for seven warships of the Indian Navy.
- The LRSAM can intercept aerial targets up to a range of 80 km. It is being co-developed by the DRDO in India and IAI, and will be manufactured by Bharat Dynamics Limited.
TOPIC:General studies 3
- Defence and security
- Science and technology; Indigenisation of technologies
At digital war
- Indian Prime minister has a vision of a Digital Armed Force. Importance of dominating the cyber space is increasing.
- He also emphasised on the role of the services in encouraging the development of domestic capabilities.
Progress in cyber space
- The government has sanctioned the raising of a cyber agency that will steer the planning and conduct of cyber warfare in the military.
- Once the doctrine has matured, the cyber agency will be expanded to a much-needed cyber command.
- Building domestic capability for the manufacture of sophisticated weapons and equipment is a major challenge.
- Despite Indian products being available, a concerted effort to use indigenous solutions is conspicuously absent, with the Army being the most laggard in this regard.
A case study
- The existence of the PRISM programme, under which the United States National Security Agency (NSA) collected data from internet communications.
- Leaked documents showed the very close involvement of US technology companies like Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, Facebook and Apple in the programme.
- According to the documents, the NSA was collecting data directly from the servers of US service providers.
- Further revelations, disclosed by The Guardian showed that Microsoft had actively helped the NSA to circumvent its own encryption of web chats.
- America is not the only country that uses these practices.
- A recent Bloomberg report pointed out that China’s intelligence services had ordered subcontractors in China to plant malicious chips in Supermicro server motherboards bound for the US.
- Many countries have moved to restrict foreign products from use in critical networks. Examples of such ban are China and US banning each other’s products.
- India seems to be unaware of the vulnerabilities that exist in our critical networks due to foreign hardware and software.
Hardware and software in Indian armed forces
- Despite Huawei being probed for hacking a BSNL network in 2014, over 60 per cent of software and hardware being used by BSNL is sourced from either Huawei or ZTE.
- Even Australia, with a billion lesser population than India, has banned Huawei from supplying equipment for 5G mobile network, citing national security risks.
- The Air Force Network (AFNET) was launched in 2010. Present on that occasion was the Cisco country head because his company was a major supplier of equipment for AFNET.
- The army’s latest communication backbone, Network for Spectrum (NFS), also uses Cisco equipment.
- The Indian Army mostly uses the Microsoft Windows operating system on its official computers.
- Windows is an outstanding system but is a closed-source software owned by a company that is bound by US laws and historically tied to the American intelligence community.
- India is a prime target for American spying; in the overall list of countries targeted by PRISM, India stood at the fifth place.
An indigenous experiment: BOSS
- In 2015, the Northern Command of the army decided to adopt the Bharat Operating System Solutions (BOSS) for all its official computers.
- BOSS is an indigenously developed open-source system by the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC).
- CDAC is the R&D organisation of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.
- At the start, there were many teething problems. The user-friendliness of Windows could not be replicated and re-training of a generation that had grown up with Windows was not easy.
- They were convinced that national security cannot be subordinated to the ease of making a PowerPoint presentation.
- Three years later, the army is still debating the merits of BOSS, and the arguments are still centred on simplicity of usage, not security of networks.
- Instead of supporting BOSS, there is a push to return to Windows.
- Despite the clear dangers in cyber space, we remain inexorably tied to past practices and show little desire to make changes that are essential to protect our national interests.
- The Indian military should take the lead in indigenising its IT infrastructure.
- A policy decision to indigenise our cyber space will have greater and more far reaching national security implications.
Connecting the dots:
- To win the cyber space face-offs, India should indigenise the IT infrastructure of the military, soon. Comment.
TOPIC:General studies 3
- Indian economy
- Banking and NBFCs
Liquidity squeeze hurts NBFCs
- Recently, shares of non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) have witnessed a steep fall in recent weeks after concerns over whether they can successfully meet their short-term dues.
- Housing finance companies (HFCs) in particular were worst affected.
- The current crisis began with the default of Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services (IL&F) on several of its dues last month.
- The Union government subsequently decided to step in and assure lenders to the company that their money would be paid back safely without any default.
DO you know?
- A Non-Banking Financial Company (NBFC) is a company registered under the Companies Act, 1956 engaged in the business of loans and advances, acquisition of shares/stocks/bonds/debentures/securities issued by Government or local authority or other business institutions.
- It does not include any institution whose principal business is that of agriculture activity, industrial activity, purchase or sale of any goods or providing any services and activities related to immovable property.
- A non-banking institution which is a company and has principal business of receiving deposits under any scheme or arrangement in one lump sum or in instalments by way of contributions or in any other manner, is also a non-banking financial company (Residuary non-banking company).
- NBFCs lend and make investments and hence their activities are similar to that of banks; however there are a few differences as given below:
- NBFC cannot accept demand deposits;
- NBFCs do not form part of the payment and settlement system and cannot issue cheques drawn on itself;
- Deposit insurance facility of Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation is not available to depositors of NBFCs, unlike in case of banks.
- For more about NBFCs frequently asked questions on NBFCs
How did they get into trouble?
- Many NBFCs use short-term loans borrowed from the money market to extend long-term loans to their customers.
- This leads to a mismatch in the duration of their assets and liabilities and exposes NBFCs to the substantial risk of being unable to pay back their lenders on time.
- NBFCs usually resort to rolling over, or refinancing, their old short-term debt with new short-term debt to compensate for the mismatch in duration.
- But even though NBFCs usually manage to roll over their short-term debt smoothly, there are times when they may fail to do so.
- Such risk is high particularly during times of crisis when lenders are affected by fear.
- In such cases, they may have to resort to sale of their assets at distress prices to meet their dues.
- This can turn a liquidity crisis into a more serious solvency crisis, wherein the total value of the assets of a company falls below the value of its total liabilities.
- Further, NBFCs also face the risk of having to pay higher interest rates each time they refinance their short-term debt.
- As interest rates rise across the globe, equity investors believe that the cost of borrowing of NBFCs will rise and affect their profit margins.
- Investors may be pricing in the prospect of falling profits for NBFCs in the coming quarters.
- It is hoped that banks will offer a helping hand to NBFCs to meet their short-term dues to lenders like mutual funds.
- Many further believe that a widespread financial panic may not be on the cards as the government will act as a lender of last resort. Such bailouts create the risk of moral hazard in the wider financial system.
- NBFCs, for instance, may continue to borrow short-term to extend long-term loans to their customers because they expect the government to bail them out if they get into trouble.
- In fact, some believe that financial institutions in general have traditionally resorted to borrowing short-term to finance long-term loans simply because there is an implicit guarantee extended by the government.
- As the cost of borrowing funds rises, NBFCs may have to settle for lower profits unless they find a way to pass the burden of higher rates on to borrowers.
Connecting the dots:
- What are NBFCs? Explain their role in stability of Indian economy.
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
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Q.1) Consider the following statements with regard to Group of Ministers (GoMs):
- GoMs are ad hoc bodies formed to give recommendations to the cabinet on certain emergent issues and critical problem areas.
- GoMs get appointed under the Government of India’s Transaction of Business Rules 1961.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
Q.2) The United Nations General Assembly formally adopted the “universal, integrated and transformative” 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Identify the correct goals
- Gender Inequality
- Affordable and clean energy
- Combat desertification
- End of nuclear energy
- Clean water and sanitation
- Food security
Select the correct code
- 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6
- 2, 3, 5 and 6
- 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6
- 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5
Q.3) With regard to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) consider the following statements:
- These are also known as “Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”.
- The SDGs build on the principles agreed upon in entitled “The Future We Want”.
Which of the above statements is/are correct?
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
Q.4) National Skill development Fund and National Skill development Corporation have been set up by
- Ministry of Finance
- Ministry of Skill development
- Ministry of Commerce
- Ministry of MSME
Q.5) Which of the following can reduce the Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect?
- Use of light-colored concrete and white roofs.
- Planting trees in cities.
- Implementation of Bharat Stage VI.
- Implementation of Energy Conservation Building Code
Select the correct answer using the codes given below.
- 1, 2 and 4 only
- 2, 3 and 4 only
- 1, 3 and 4 only
- All the above
Q.6) Which of the following emissions get regulated under Bharat stage VI?
- Carbon dioxide
- Hydro carbons
- Nitrogen oxides
- Particulate Matter
Select the correct answer using the code given below:
- 1, 2, 3 and 4
- 1 and 4
- 1, 2 and 3
- 2, 3 and 4
Q.7) Consider the following statements with regard to Bharat stage emission standards (BSES)
- The standards and the timeline for implementation are set by Central Pollution Control Board
- India will be skipping BS-V and directly move to BS-VI from BS-IV
Which of the following statements is/are correct?
- 1 Only
- 2 Only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Q.8) Long Range Surface to Air Missile recently handed over to Indian Navy is
- Jointly covered by India and Russia
- Jointly covered by India and Japan
- Jointly covered by India and USA
- Jointly covered by India and Israel
An ‘anti-national’ regulation
A city terrorised out of character
At digital war
The Allahabad in Prayagraj
Why arms control is doomed to failure
How to successfully set a minimum wage in India
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