GS III Topic: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.
Cabinet approves new Merchant Shipping Bill
The Cabinet has approved a new Merchant Shipping Bill by repealing the 58-year old law, a move that will promote ease of doing business, transparency and effective delivery of services.
- The Merchant Shipping Bill, 2016, is a revamped version of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958. It provides for repealing of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958, as well as the Coasting Vessels Act, 1838
- Provisions of the Bill are aimed at simplifying the law governing merchant shipping in India.
- The significant reforms that will follow enactment of the Bill include augmentation of Indian tonnage promotion/ development of coastal shipping in India, introduction of welfare measures for seafarers and registration of certain residuary category of vessels not covered under any statute.
- Also, the Coasting Vessels Act, 1838, an archaic legislation of the British era providing for registration of non-mechanically propelled vessels to a limited jurisdiction of Saurashtra and Kutch, is proposed to be repealed since provisions have been introduced in the Merchant Shipping Bill 2016 for registration of all vessels for the whole of India.
GS III topic- Disaster and disaster management.
Himalayan projects face flood risk- Swiss researcher
According to an analysis of Himalayan glaciers and their possible future impact on livelihoods in States adjoining the region, potential hydro power projects in the Himalayan region would need to factor in chances of increased floods from the formation of new lakes and the expansion of existing ones due to melting glaciers.
The results are part of a modelling study by Swiss researchers on the impact of climate change in the Himalayas.
Highlights of the study:
- 441 hydro-power projects spanning India, Nepal, Pakistan and China, that is, 66% of constructed and potential hydro power projects, are on possible Glacier Lake Outburst Floods (GLOF) tracks, which means they could be gorged with extra water from melting glaciers.
- Almost a third of these hydro power projects could experience GLOF discharges well above what these dams account for.
- Therefore if hydro-power projects were to be situated close to these glaciers, they would have to account for higher water flows. They might need extra design or safety features.
- There is a paucity of data regarding the health of Himalayan glaciers, and depending on their location within the Himalayan range, there were varying rates of glacial melt.
- In the Beas basin, six lakes in 1989 had increased to 33 in 2011, and in the Parvati Valley catchment area, there was an increase from 12 lakes (in 1989) to 77 lakes (in 2014). Most of the Himachal Pradesh lakes were relatively small or with a capacity of a million cubic metres, and only a few of them had a capacity larger than 10 million cubic metres of water.
- The findings come even as researchers note that global warming could cause glaciers to melt rapidly, which is already evident in an increase in the number of glacier-fed lakes in Himachal.
GS III Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
SEBI eases rules for angel funds
The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has liberalised norms for angel funds to invest in early-stage entities as part of its attempts to facilitate fund-raising for start-ups.
- In this regard, SEBI has decided to amend the SEBI (Alternative Investment Funds) Regulations, 2012.
- The regulator has increased the upper limit for number of angel investors from forty nine to two hundred.
- Angel Funds will also be allowed to invest in start-ups incorporated within five years instead of the earlier norm of three years.
- Reduction of the minimum investment amount from Rs.50 lakh to Rs.25 lakh.
- The lock-in requirements of investment made by angel funds in the venture capital undertaking has been reduced from three years to one year.
- Such funds have also been allowed to invest in overseas venture capital undertakings up to 25 per cent of their investible corpus in line with other Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs).
- This move was taken as part of its attempts to facilitate fund-raising for start-ups and help to boost investment in the early stages for start-ups in the country.
- It will benefit start-ups looking for raising venture funding not just for the money but for the other value addition.
- It will help start-ups raising money from a venture capital firm brings such as direction and mentorship from seasoned investors.
What is an Angel Investor?
Angel investor is an investor who provides financial backing for small startups or entrepreneurs. Angel investors are usually found among an entrepreneur’s family and friends. The capital they provide can be a one-time injection of seed money or ongoing support to carry the company through difficult times.
GS II Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.
NITI Aayog leads initiative to convert 100% Government – Citizen Transactions to the digital platform
The Government of India has constituted a Committee of Officers to enable 100% conversion of Government – Citizen Transactions to the digital platform. This is seen as a transformative attempt to weed out black money and corruption from public life. The committee is headed by NITI Aayog CEO Mr. Amitabh Kant.
- The Committee will identify and operationalize in the earliest possible time frame user-friendly digital payment options in all sectors of the economy. This is integral part of the Governments strategy to transform India into a cashless economy.
- The committee will also identify and access infrastructural and bottlenecks affecting the access and utility of digital payment options.
- To achieve expeditious movement into the cashless, digital payments economy across all States and sectors, it will engage regularly with Central Ministries, regulators, State governments, district administration, local bodies, trade and industry associations etc. to promote rapid adoption of digital payment systems.
- The committee aims to establish and monitor an implementation framework with strict timelines to ensure that nearly 80% of the transaction in India moves to the digital-only platform.
- The committee will also attempt to estimate costs involved in various digital payments options and oversee implementation of measures to make such transaction between Government and Citizens cheaper than cash transaction.
- An action plan on advocacy, awareness and handholding efforts among public, micro enterprises and other stakeholders will also be implemented by the committee.
- In this regard, the committee will organize training and capacity building of various states/UTs, Ministries/Departments of the Government of India, representatives of States/UTs, Trade and Industry Bodies as well as other stakeholders.
Air Sewa portal- a step towards convenient and hassle-free air travel
- Launched recently by Aviation ministry. It will be operated through an interactive web portal as well as through a mobile app for both android and iOS platforms.
- The portal will include a mechanism for grievance redressal, backoffice operations for grievance handling, flight status/schedule information, airport Information and FAQs.
- Users will have an option to check the flight status and schedule between any of airports. Flights can be searched on the basis of flight number or for all flights to a particular airport.
- Airport Information will display basic weather information and connecting flight details from the airport. Airport information will include basic details and contact information regarding airport services like wheel Chair, transport/parking, rest and relax, Wifi services etc.
GS III Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.
Railways may soon get an advanced system, called “Tri-Netra”, on its trains which will help reduce train accidents by keeping a record of the track maintenance and will also provide better visibility during foggy days. The concept of TRI-NETRA was developed by Development Cell under the guidance of Member Mechanical, Railway Board by observing the use the technology employed by fighter aircrafts to see through clouds and operate in pitch darkness and the technology used by naval ships in mapping the ocean floor and navigating in the night.
Tri-Netra stands for “terrain imaging for diesel drivers infrared, enhanced optical and radar assisted system”. The system provides a locomotive pilot a clear view of up to one kilometre on a straight track, even during inclement weather. This helps in maintaining high speed in poor visibility and avoid delay in arrivals.
- TRI-NETRA system is made up of high-resolution optical video camera, high sensitivity infra-red video camera and additionally a radar-based terrain mapping system. These three components of the system act as three eyes (Tri-Netra) of the Locomotive Pilot.
- TRI-NETRA is designed to “see” the terrain ahead of the running locomotive during inclement weather by combining the images captured by the three sub-systems and to create a composite video image which shall be displayed in front of the Loco Pilot on a computer monitor.
Significance of this development:
During fog, heavy rain and also during night, the locomotive pilots face serious challenges in looking out ahead to spot any obstruction on the track such as vehicles which get stuck while crossing the track or trees or boulders which have fallen across the track etc. Because of the heavy momentum of the running train, the train driver has to always adjust the speed of the train such that he or she can stop the train on visually seeing the obstruction. In fair weather and in daytime, this is not a problem since train driver has a clear view of the track ahead. But in poor visibility, he has to reduce the speed suitably so that the brakes can be applied in time to stop the train without hitting the obstructions.
Important Facts for Prelims
India hosts World Robot Olympiad for the first time
India hosted the 13th edition of the World Robot Olympiad on the sidelines of trade fair in New Delhi. It has been organised by National Council of Science Museums (NCSM), Ministry of Culture in collaboration with the India STEM Foundation (ISF).
- The three-day international championship aims to find innovative solutions using robotics technology to reduce, manage and recycle waste.
- The theme of the event is ‘Rap the Scrap’ selected in line with Union Government’s Swachh Bharat Mission.
About World Robot Olympiad
- It is a global robotics competition that seeks to bring together young minds from across the world to develop their creativity and problem solving skills through challenging and educational robotics competition.
- It was formally established in 2003 and was for the first time held in 2004 in Singapore. Japan, Singapore, China and South Korea are considered the founding countries of the competition. Note: The 12th edition of World Robot Olympiad was held in Doha, Qatar in November 2015.
International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women
The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (IDEVAW) is observed every year across the world on 25 November. Observance of this day seeks to
- raise awareness about violence against women and girls, end the violence against the women.
- Show that prevention is possible against violence of women.
2016 Theme: “Orange the World – raise funds to end violence against women”. The orange colour in the theme symbolizes a better future to women and girls all over the globe without the pervasive human rights violation which affects 1 in 3 women and girls all over the globe.
Airtel launches India’s first Payments Bank service in Rajasthan
Airtel Payments Bank Limited or Airtel Bank became the first payments bank in the country to launch live banking services in Rajasthan.
- Airtel retail outlets across Rajasthan will act as banking points. They offer a range of basic, convenient banking services as per Payments Bank guidelines issued by RBI.
- Customers can open bank accounts by using Aadhaar based e-KYC. Airtel subscriber’s mobile number will function as a bank account number.
- The bank will accept deposits not exceeding Rs 1 lakh. It cannot perform lending activities, except while giving loans to its employees on approval of the board.
- It intends to give an interest rate of 7.25% per annum on deposits in savings accounts. It will be offering customers the convenience of cashless purchase of goods/services using their bank accounts/wallets, contributing to of financial inclusion and banking for all.
- Though payment banks are allowed to issue debit card facility, but Airtel Payments Bank will be not offering this facility right now.
- The Constitution Day in India, also known as Samvidhan Divas, is celebrated on 26th of November every year to spread the importance of the constitution and thoughts and ideas of Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar.
- On this day in 1949, the Constituent Assembly of India adopted the Constitution of India, which went into effect on 26 January 1950.
- The Government of India declared 26 November as Constitution Day in honour of Dr.B.R. Ambedkar who is known as the Father of Constitution of India.
- Constitution Day will work as a catalyst and the day will also promote to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life and to have compassion for living creatures.
International Press Freedom Award:
- Indian journalist Malini Subramaniam has been conferred with the International Press Freedom Award for her reporting from the Naxal-infested Bastar area. She is one of the four journalists felicitated by the annual award for their commitment to a free press.
- International Press Freedom Awards honor journalists or their publications around the world who show courage in defending press freedom despite facing attacks, threats, or imprisonment.
- Established in 1991, the awards are administered by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), an independent, non-governmental organization based in New York City. In addition to recognizing individuals, the organization seeks to focus local and international media coverage on countries where violations of press freedom are particularly serious.