At present India with twenty one (21) nuclear power reactors, stands seventh (7) among thirty one (31) countries with nuclear power in terms of number of reactors and thirteenth (13) in terms of electricity generation.
The present nuclear power installed capacity of 5780 MW is expected to shortly increase to 6780 MW within this financial year with the start of commercial operation of Kudankulam Unit-2 (KKNPP-2) in accordance with stage-wise clearances of Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB).
This unit has already attained first criticality (start of controlled self sustaining nuclear fission chain reaction for the first time) on July 10, 2016. The installed capacity is expected to increase to 10080 MW by the year 2019 on progressive completion of projects under construction.
India has signed nuclear agreements for cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy with Russia, United States of America (USA), France, Australia, United Kingdom, Czech Republic, Republic of Korea, Kazakhstan, Argentina, Canada, Vietnam and Sri Lanka. India proposes to sign such an agreement with Japan in future.
Steel industry seeks extension of MIP :-
The steel industry has urged the Centre to continue the minimum import price (MIP) protection scheme to guard against increased imports, user-industries have started protesting against any extension of the scheme.
MIP for Steel Industry:-
The MIP scheme was introduced in February, 2016 for six months.Post-MIP, the industry has been able to marginally improve its viability after a prolonged period of subdued prices and eroded profit margins
While MIP cannot possibly be an all-encompassing framework for a complete turnaround of the Indian steel industry, it has provided a cushion against surging imports
The Indian steel industry does not see MIP as a perpetual protectionist step, but as a necessary temporary measure that will allow time for recovery.
The accelerating imports at predatory prices from three steel-surplus Asian countries(read China) has been a major concern for the domestic industry since 2014.
Steel imports, which had peaked in July 2015 registering a 114.6 per cent increase year-on-year, started to decline around November 2015 (when a provisional safeguard duty was imposed). Post-MIP it has dropped in range of 24.6 per cent and 43.1 per cent in the first quarter of the current fiscal.
Act East Policy
The Act East Policy (AEP) focuses on the extended neighbourhood in the Asia-Pacific region.
AEP provides an interface between India and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region.
The policy which was originally conceived as an economic initiative, has gained political, strategic and cultural dimensions.
On the domestic front, the Government has taken measures for time bound completion of critical infrastructure projects in the North Eastern Region (NER) relating to road, rail, inland water transport, power, airports and telecom connectivity.
Various Govt. Schemes to Boost Exports:-
(i) The Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS) :- It was introduced in the Foreign Trade Policy (FTP) 2015-20 with effect from April 1, 2015. MEIS aims to incentivize export of merchandise which is produced/ manufactured in India.
(ii) Interest Equalisation Scheme on Pre & Post Shipment Rupee Export Credit :- The rate of interest equalisation is 3% per annum.
(iii) Market Access Initiative (MAI) Scheme :- It is an Export Promotion Scheme envisaged to act as a catalyst to promote India’s exports on a sustained basis. The scheme provides assistance to Export Promotion Organizations/Trade Promotion Organizations/National Level Institutions/ Research Institutions /Universities /Laboratories, Exporters etc., for enhancement of exports through accessing new markets or through increasing the share in the existing markets.
(iv) Market Development Assistance (MDA) Scheme is under operation through the Department of Commerce to assist exporters for export promotion activities abroad, assist Export Promotion Councils(EPCs) to undertake export promotion activities for their product(s) and commodities and assist approved organizations/ trade bodies in undertaking exclusive non-recurring innovative activities connected with export promotion efforts for their members.
INDO-US Clean Energy Fund :-
India and the United States of America (USA) will be jointly working for the creation of US $ 20 million for US-India Energy Finance Initiatives, equally supported by the USA and India, which is expected to mobilize up to US $ 400 million to provide finances for clean and renewable electricity by 2020.
Four New Ports Proposed in Country (Can be important for Mapping purposes)
Enayam in Tamil Nadu,
Sagar in West Bengal,
Dugarajpatnam in Andhra Pradesh
Vadhawan in Maharashtra.
Generations and Journeys – Survey and Findings :- Poor saving habit
A survey by HSBC (Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited) named ‘Generations and Journeys’ observed that “a large number (47 per cent) of working age people in India have either not started saving for their retirement or have stopped or faced difficulties while saving for their future.”
The report also observed that 21 per cent of the working age population surveyed have not even started saving for retirement.
Household saving has two components—financial saving and physical saving.
Household financial savings consists of their savings in terms of financial assets like bank deposits, shares and debentures, etc.
Household physical saving consists of household construction, their possession of machinery and equipment and valuables, etc.
It is not clear from the published report of the HSBC Survey whether it refers only to the financial savings of the Indian labour force.
The data from the National Accounts reveal that in 2014-15, Indian households saved about 19.1 per cent of the of the Gross domestic product, of which their physical savings consisted of 11.4 percentage points and financial savings consisted of 7.7 percentage points, indicating that Indian households save more in physical form than in financial assets.
The Survey conducted by the National Sample Survey Office during January-December 2013 on Household Assets and Liabilities revealed that about 82.2 per cent of the rural households and 81.1 per cent of the urban households reported possession of bullion and ornaments.
The strong bullion preference of Indian households, along with the generally high inflation and inadequate access to banking and financial channels that prevailed during the last decade, to a great extent, explained the saving behavior of Indian households.
Issues Raised by India in WTO
A declaration was adopted at the Tenth Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO), held in Nairobi, Kenya, from 15 to 19 December 2015.
It comprises six Ministerial Decisions on agriculture, cotton and issues related to least-developed countries (LDCs). These cover an agricultural Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM) for developing countries, public stockholding for food security purposes, a commitment to abolish export subsidies for farm exports and measures related to cotton.
The Ministerial Decision relating to Cotton does not prohibit subsidies to the cotton sector and India can continue to provide domestic support to cotton, as per the existing WTO rules and commitments. The Ministerial Decision relating to export competition stipulates that export subsidies to the cotton sector will be eliminated by developed countries immediately and by developing countries with effect from 1 January 2017. Presently export subsidies can be provided by only a few members, mainly developed countries, who had been giving such subsidies and had scheduled the same following the Uruguay Round of trade negotiations. India was not giving such subsidies and had not scheduled them and therefore, does not have such an entitlement. The elimination of export subsidies by developed countries will help the cotton industry in developing countries, including India, to become more competitive.
India negotiated a Ministerial Decision which recognizes that developing countries will have the right to have recourse to an agricultural Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM) as envisaged in the mandate of the Doha round of trade negotiations.
Negotiations on the SSM will be held in dedicated sessions and the WTO General Council has to regularly review the progress. The SSM is intended to help developing countries protect their agriculture sector from the effects of import surges.
Impact of MES to China
Apart from ongoing internal assessments, there are studies available which basically postulate on the possible implications of China being granted Market Economy Status(MES).
The WTO did not distinguish between non-market economy and market economies before 1955, when the second paragraph of the addendum to article VI of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) was introduced.
The addendum acknowledges that non-market economy policies can introduce price distortions. These distortions can render price comparability between the normal value, determined as the domestic price of a certain good in the export country, and the export price of that same good applied by the exporters of that same country, impossible.
The accurate comparability of these two values is fundamental for calculating the dumping margin and determining applicable dumping duties. The addendum therefore allows importing countries to take into account alternative methodologies if comparing of domestic prices of the exporting country is inappropriate.
The addendum’s alternative approach can be used by any importing country that can prove the exporting country complies with the definition of a Non-Market Economy under the addendum.
The main implication of NME status in anti-dumping proceedings is the possibility to use other methodologies to determine the normal value of the good, instead of using domestic prices to compute the dumping margin.
In general, NME methodologies to calculate normal value have proven to lead to higher anti-dumping duties. In view of these higher duties, and the fact that China faces the highest number of anti-dumping investigations, obtaining earlier recognition of Market Economy Status (MES) has been one of the country’s major foreign policy objectives since 2003.
India also has a large number of anti-dumping investigations against China. Out of the 131 measures in force, 87 measures are against China.
In these investigations, in several cases, China has been considered a Non Market Economy (NME) on account of significant direct or indirect state control in the enterprise or in major operation, raw material and utility supplies, provision of land and transfer of erstwhile State controlled old plants and production units at nominal prices thereby affecting the cost and prices of the goods and services.
Our investigating authorities treat certain Chinese industries, on a case to case basis, as operating under market conditions for the purpose of arriving at the normal values. If China is treated as having a Market Economy Status then the cost and prices of the Chinese Producers would have to be accepted across board, for determination of the normal values and dumping margins.
Under Section 15 of the Chinese WTO Accession Protocol, China can be treated as a non-market economy (NME) in anti-dumping proceedings if Chinese firms cannot prove that they operate under market economy conditions.
China has argued that, according to Section 15(d) of the WTO Accession Protocol, the Section 15 provision allowing for NME methodology expires after 11 December 2016, resulting in a legal obligation to grant MES to China after that date. This interpretation of the section remains highly controversial.
Several countries have granted earlier recognition of MES to China, mainly as a condition for negotiating free trade agreements (FTA) with China.
In addition to India, the main countries which still consider China an NME are the US, Canada, Japan and the European Union (EU).
Bio-Toilets Developed by DRDO
The bacteria from Antarctica are components of anaerobic microbial consortium that is used for seeding (inoculation) of bio-digesters.
The consortium is composed of bacteria belonging to four groups, which work in sequential manner. The Antarctic bacteria which are cold active (work in wide temperature range) constitute the first two groups, i.e. hydrolytic & acidogenic. Cow dung, being abundantly available at low cost, has been used for multiplication of bacteria used in the bio-digester.
The cow dung is used only during multiplication of bacteria in the inoculums generation facility, which is a closed system. Once it is consumed by the bacteria and converted into a form that does not have any fly attractant property and rather detract them. Final bacteria fed into the bio-digester do not have any unpleasant odour and get washed away in the bio-digester within few days. At present, no additional measures are required to prevent them.
The Government has established a Protected Area (PA) Network (730 PAs including 103 National Parks, 535 Wildlife Sanctuaries, 26 Community Reserves, and 66 Conservation Reserves in different biogeographic regions) towards conservation of threatened (including endangered and vulnerable) species, which primarily covers habitats of threatened megafauna, such as tiger, rhino, elephant, etc.
Biological Diversity Act, 2002, was enacted to ensure protection of threatened species and their habitats. Under the provisions of Section 38 of the National Biodiversity Act, 2002, the species which are on the verge of extinction or likely to become extinct in near future as threatened species, are notified.
The Centrally Sponsored Scheme ‘Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats’ has been modified in 2008-09 by including a new component namely ‘Recovery of Endangered Species’ and 17 species have been identified for recovery viz. Snow Leopard, Bustard (including Floricans), River Dolphin, Hangul, Nilgiri Tahr, Marine Turtles, Dugong & Coral reefs, Edible Nest Swiftlet, Asian Wild Buffalo, Nicobar Megapode, Manipur Brow-antlered Deer, Vultures, Malabar Civet, Indian Rhinoceros, Asiatic Lion, Swamp Deer and Jerdon’s Courser.
The Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 has been enacted for protection of wild animals, birds and plants against hunting and commercial exploitation. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has been empowered under the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 to apprehend and prosecute wildlife offenders. The Wildlife Crime Control Bureau has been set up for control of poaching and illegal trade in wildlife and its products.
Amendment in Section 309 and 377 of IPC-Decrminalizing suicide
The Law Commission of India, in its 210th Report: “Humanization and Decriminalization of Attempt to Suicide” had recommended that Section 309 (attempt to commit suicide) of IPC needs to be effaced from the statute book.
A draft amendment is presently under examination in the Ministry. As regards Section 377 of IPC, it is stated that pursuant to Curative Petition (Civil) 88-102 of 2014 before the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court referred the matter to a Five Judges Bench and as such the matter is currently sub-judice.
Amendments in the Criminal Justice System is a continuous process in order to make the laws in sync with social changes. The amendments in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) are carried out from time to time based on the recommendations of the Law Commission of India, various Court judgments and the reports of any other committees specially constituted for the purpose.
India’s Indc Targets
Under its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDCs), India has indicated that it will achieve about 40 percent cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel based energy resources by 2030 with the help of transfer of technology and low cost international finance including from Green Climate Fund (GCF). The contributions under INDC have to be achieved by 2030.
India has set renewable power deployment target of 175 GW by the year 2022, which includes 100 GW from solar and 60 GW from wind energy.
Pradhan Mantri Rojgar Protsahan Yojana
A new scheme “Pradhan Mantri Rojgar Protsahan Yojana”(PMRPY) has been announced in the Budget for 2016-17 with the objective of promoting employment generation and an allocation of Rs. 1000 crores has been made.
The scheme is being implemented by the Ministry of Labour and Employment in 2016-17. Under the scheme employers would be provided an incentive for enhancing employment by reimbursement of the 8.33% EPS contribution made by the employer in respect of new employment.
The PMRPY scheme is targeted for workers earning wages upto Rs. 15,000/- per month. Publicity and awareness campaign is an integral component of the PMRPY scheme for encouraging employers including Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to avail benefits.
Buddhist remains unearthed in A.P.
Buddhist remains on a mound called ‘Ernamma Pallu Dibba’ were unearthed in Krishna district.
These remains, basing on the style of art and architecture are datable to the 3rd Century AD — i.e., Ikshwaku times.
The inscription issued by Upasika Bodhisiri, wife of a mariner, mentioned that she built a stone-pillared pavilion at Ghantasala for the benefit of the devotees visiting the mahastupa
Amendments to the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961
The maternity benefit Act 1961 protects the employment of women during the time of her maternity and entitles her of a ‘maternity benefit’ – i.e. full paid absence from work – to take care for her child. The act is applicable to all establishments employing 10 or more persons. The amendments will help 1.8 million (approx.) women workforce in organised sector.
The amendments to Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 are as follows:
• Increase Maternity Benefit from 12 weeks to 26 weeks for two surviving children and 12 weeks for more than two children.
• 12 weeks Maternity Benefit to a ‘Commissioning mother’ and ‘Adopting mother’.
• Facilitate ‘Work from home’. • Mandatory provision of Creche in respect of establishment having 50 or more employees.
• Maternal care to the Child during early childhood – crucial for growth and development of the child.
• The 44th, 45th and 46th Indian Labour Conference recommended enhancement of Maternity Benefits to 24 weeks.
• Ministry of Women & Child Development proposed to enhance Maternity Benefit to 8 months.
• In Tripartite consultations, all stake holders, in general supported the amendment proposal.
Technology Acquisition and Development Fund
To provide funding support to SMEs for the acquisition and development of clean and green technology.
The Scheme is applicable to all existing and new Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) including those in the National Investment and Manufacturing Zones (NIMZs) in respect of their investments made after notification of the Scheme.
‘State of ICT in Asia and the Pacific 2016: Uncovering the Widening Broadband Divide’.
The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), in its report, has placed India at 39th position in terms of fixed broadband adoption among Asia Pacific countries. The report is named- ‘State of ICT in Asia and the Pacific 2016: Uncovering the Widening Broadband Divide’.
According to the report, 1.3% of population in India subscribed to fixed broadband service in 2015.
Fixed broadband penetration in Asia and the Pacific is even below the world’s average of 11.2 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants in 2015.
India ranks lower than countries such as Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in fixed broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants in ESCAP countries in 2015.
U.S. set to hand over Internet’s naming system to ICANN
The U.S. will give up its power fully to Los Angeles-based ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), a non-profit organisation.The terms of the change were agreed upon in 2014, but it was not until now that the U.S. said it was finally satisfied that ICANN was ready to make the change.
DNS:The Domain Naming System, DNS, is one of the Internet’s most important components. It pairs the easy-to-remember web addresses with their relevant servers. Without DNS, one would only be able to access websites by typing in its IP address.
Internet Corporation Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN):
ICANN is the global body that oversees operation and administration of the Internet domain name system. It was formed in 1998.It is a not-for-profit partnership of people from all over the world dedicated to keeping the Internet secure, stable and interoperable. It promotes competition and develops policy on the Internet’s unique identifiers.
ICANN doesn’t control content on the Internet. It cannot stop spam and it doesn’t deal with access to the Internet. But through its coordination role of the Internet’s naming system, it does have an important impact on the expansion and evolution of the Internet.
It is responsible for coordinating the maintenance and methodologies of several databases, with unique identifiers, related to the namespaces of the Internet – and thereby, ensuring the network’s stable and secure operation.
ICANN is governed by an internationally diverse Board of Directors overseeing the policy development process. ICANN’s President directs an international staff, working from three continents, who ensure that ICANN meets its operational commitment to the Internet community.
Global Innovation Index: India moves up to 66th rank this year
The annual index — released by WIPO, Cornell University, and the multi-nation business graduate school INSEAD — has been ranking world economies since 2007 according to their innovation capabilities using more than 80 indicators, including education, R&D, patent filings, knowledge and technology inputs and institutions.
India scored a major improvement in its Global Innovation Index ranking this year, moving up to the 66th place from 81 in 2015. India’s better performance in the latest index readings was due to its strengths in tertiary education, software exports, corporate R&D and market sophistication.
The report said India was starting to excel in ICT and creative goods exports, setting a good example of how policy was improving the innovation environment.
In the infrastructure indicator, India has stayed put in the 87th rank, not having progressed in the use of information technology.
Overall, Switzerland emerged as the global leader followed by Sweden, the UK, the US and Finland. Switzerland had ranked first in the 2015 index as well.
ICHR plans encyclopedia of village folklore from across India
ICHR is planning a mammoth encyclopedia of Indian villages complete with its heroes, myth, ballads and history as well as histories of princely states.This initiative aims to connect people better with the oral and folk traditions.
Along with this, ICHR is also planning to conduct a study of the princely States of modern India and studies to fill the gaps between the Harappan civilisation and the 6 century BC. The idea behind doing the history of princely states is to showcase their contribution and how Indian culture was protected by them.
According to historians, the present generations are gradually delinking themselves from their cultural heritage. Hence, they think it’s their responsibility to collect, preserve and transmit this knowledge of history for the generations to come.
The students of history will be taken as apprentices, as barefoot historians, and will be encouraged to collect information of the villages around them. For these projects, the ICHR would seek part funding by corporate houses.
Tirot Sing’s Contribution to Freedom Struggle
Tirot Sing was one of the greatest freedom fighters to hail from the northeast. In the attempt to prevent the Khasi Hills from falling into colonial hands, Tirot Sing, a Khasi chief, had raised the battle cry against the invasive British forces on April 4, 1829, but was eventually captured and defeated. He died in captivity in Dhaka in 1835.