News snippet

News 1: Space economy may touch $13 bn by 2025

News 2: Nobel prize for Economics

News 3: Pakistan to take part in closing ceremony of SCO anti-terror exercise

News 4: Emergency helicopter medical service soon – Sanjeevani

News 5: How to strengthen decentralised governance

News 6: Iran’s minority Kurds

News 7: Mahakal temple in Ujjain

Other Important News:

  1. Friendship Benches
  2. Tlawmngaihna – MIzo Way of Life

  3. Global Food security platform

News 1: Space economy may touch $13 bn by 2025


Background

  • The Indian space economy is set to reach $13 billion by 2025, according to a joint report prepared by EY and the Indian Space Association (ISpA), an apex industry association of space and satellite firms in the country.
  • The satellite services and application segment would form the largest share of the space economy accounting for 36% of the ecosystem by 2025.

Space sector reforms and India’s role

  • The global space economy is currently valued at about USD 360 billion.
  • Despite being among a few spacefaring nations in the world, India accounts for only about 2% of the space economy.
  • Globally, private sector companies have revolutionized the space sector by reducing costs and turnaround time, with innovation and advanced technology.

Problem of private sector in India

  • In India however, players within the private space industry have been limited to being vendors or suppliers to the government’s space program. 
  • Promoting the private sector will enable the Indian space program to remain cost competitive within the global space market, and thus create several jobs in the space and other related sectors.
  • Hon’ble Prime Minister strongly believes that the optimal utilization of space technologies can revolutionize delivery of governance services and boost developmental efforts.

Guiding Principles of Reforms

  • Enable and promote private enterprises to carry out independent space activities by enabling ease of business through single-window mechanisms, with predictable timelines.
  • Open up ISRO Infrastructure and Technologies
  • Facilities pertaining to testing, tracking and telemetry, launch-pads, and laboratories, created by ISRO to enable the private space industry to climb the value chain.
  • Inspire Youngsters and dreamers. Encouraging students to pursue a career in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM).
  • Public sector to focus on research and development work
  • Public sector laboratories in the space sector will focus on research and development, while manufacturing and commercial activities will be done by business entities, across both, the public and private sector.
  • Transfer of developed and already mature technologies/ platforms to the private sector through Transfer of Technology mechanisms.
  • Demand-driven approach for development of space assets

News 2: Nobel prize for Economics


Background

  • Former U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke, who put his academic expertise on the Great Depression to work reviving the American economy after the 2007-2008 financial crisis, won the Nobel Prize in economic sciences along with two other U.S.-based economists for their research into the fallout from bank failures.
  • Mr. Bernanke was recognised along with Douglas W. Diamond and Philip H. Dybvig.
  • The Nobel panel at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm said the trio’s research had shown “why avoiding bank collapses is vital.

Work on banks

  • With their findings in the early 1980s, the laureates laid the foundations for regulating financial markets, the panel said.
  • “Financial crises and depressions are kind of the worst thing that can happen to the economy,” said John Hassler of the Committee for the Prize in Economic Sciences.
  • Mr. Bernanke, 68, who was Fed chair from early 2006 to early 2014 and is now with the Brookings Institution in Washington, examined the Great Depression of the 1930s, showing the danger of bank runs — when panicked people withdraw their savings — and how bank collapses led to widespread economic devastation.
  • Mr. Diamond, 68, based at the University of Chicago, and Mr. Dybvig, 67, who is at Washington University in St. Louis, showed how government guarantees on deposits can prevent a spiraling of financial crises.

Danger of bank runs

  • As per their research, if banks collapses, whether it is possible to manage without banks and how society can improve the stability of the banking system?
  • It also ponders about if banks fail, why can’t new ones be immediately established and the reason behind long lasting consequences.
  • There is a conflict as savers want instant access to their money in case of unexpected outlays, while businesses and homeowners need to know they will not be forced to repay their loans prematurely.
  • This lays out a fundamental problem that makes banks and money volatile and vulnerable to shocks sometimes.
  • For example, when people were unable to withdraw their money from a few rural banks in China earlier this year, they witnessed bank runs.
  • A bank run may happen where many savers try to withdraw their money at once, which can lead to a bank’s collapse.

Banks and its mechanisms

  • Both Diamond and Dybvig worked together to develop theoretical models explaining why banks exist, how their role in society makes them vulnerable to rumours about their impending collapse, and how society can lessen this vulnerability.
  • These insights “form the foundation of modern bank regulation.”
  • The model captures the central mechanisms of banking, as well as its weaknesses. It is based upon households saving some of their income, as well as needing to be able to withdraw their money when they wish.
  • That this does not happen at the same time for every household allows for money to be invested into projects that need financing. They argue, therefore, that banks emerge as natural intermediaries that help ease liquidity.
  • But with massive financial crises that have been witnessed in history, particularly in the US, it is often discussed how banks need to be more careful about assessing the loans they give out, or how bailing out banks in crisis might turn out to be.

News 3: Pakistan to take part in closing ceremony of SCO anti-terror exercise


Background

  • Pakistan has been invited to the closing ceremony of the ongoing Joint Anti-Terror Exercise (JATE) within the ambit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) being hosted by India.
  • The National Security Guard (NSG) is hosting the multinational JATE “Manesar Anti-Terror 2022”, under the framework of the SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) at the NSG Manesar Garrison.
  • The exercise is aimed at exchanging expertise, best practices and build synergy between the Counter Terrorism Forces of the SCO RATS member countries to enhance capabilities for conducting anti-terrorist operations and countering other security threats collectively, the NSG said in a statement.

Joint Anti-Terror Exercise (JATE)

  • JATE is an annual counter terrorist exercise held within the framework of the SCO RATS.

Shanghai Cooperation Organization

  • SCO is a permanent intergovernmental international organization, established in 2001, and aims to maintain peace, security and stability in the region.
  • Prior to creation of SCO in 2001, Shanghai Five was there which included the members China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan
  • Headquarter: Beijing
  • Members: China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan,Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India, Pakistan.
  • India and Pakistan became members in 2017.
  • In September 2021, it was announced Iran will become a full-time member.
  • Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure – Shanghai Cooperation Organization (RATS-SCO): RATS is a permanent body of the SCO and is intended to facilitate coordination and interaction between the SCO member states in the fight against terrorism, extremism and separatism.

 


News 4: Emergency helicopter medical service soon – Sanjeevani


Background

  • Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia said the Union government would draw up a national plan for helicopter emergency medical services and a pilot project towards it would soon be launched at the AIIMS, Rishikesh.
  • Under the pilot project “Sanjeevani”, a helicopter would be deployed in the next few weeks to provide emergency medical services at the AIIMS.
  • The helicopter will have a service cover of 150-km radius and will be able to provide emergency evacuation within 20 minutes.
  • This project will help the government in drafting the national policy, the Minister said, speaking at the fourth Heli-India summit in Srinagar.

Fractional ownership

  • The Minister also unveiled the guidelines for a new initiative called “fractional ownership” aimed at promoting ownership of helicopters.
  • Under the initiative, multiple owners share the cost of acquisition and operation of an aircraft in return for rights to use them for a specified number of hours or days in a year

News 5: How to strengthen decentralised governance


Background

  • Its been 30 years since the 73rd amendment, which envisages a three tier Panchayat Raj System at the village, intermediate and district levels, was tabled in Parliament.
  • Democratic decentralisation is barely alive in India.
  • Over 25 years after the 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments (they mandated the establishment of panchayats and municipalities as elected local governments) devolved a range of powers and responsibilities and made them accountable to the people for their implementation, very little and actual progress has been made in this direction.
  • Local governments remain hamstrung and ineffective; mere agents to do the bidding of higher level governments.
  • Democracy has not been enhanced in spite of about 32 lakh peoples’ representatives being elected to them every five years, with great expectation and fanfare.

The ground report

  • Devolution, envisioned by the Constitution, is not mere delegation. It implies that precisely defined governance functions are formally assigned by law to local governments, backed by adequate transfer of a basket of financial grants and tax handles, and they are given staff so that they have the necessary wherewithal to carry out their responsibilities.
  • Above all, local governments are to report primarily to their voters, and not so much to higher level departments.
  • The Constitution mandates that panchayats and municipalities shall be elected every five years and enjoins States to devolve functions and responsibilities to them through law. This is regarded as a design weakness, but on closer look, is not one.
  • Given diverse habitation patterns, political and social history, it makes sense to mandate States to assign functions to local governments.
  • A study for the Fourteenth Finance Commission by the Centre for Policy Research, shows that all States have formally devolved powers with respect to five core functions of water supply, sanitation, roads and communication, streetlight provision and the management of community assets to the gram panchayats.

Key issues

  • The constraint lies in the design of funding streams that transfer money to local governments.
  • First, the volume of money set apart for them is inadequate to meet their basic requirements.
  • Second, much of the money given is inflexible; even in the case of untied grants mandated by the Union and State Finance Commissions, their use is constrained through the imposition of several conditions.
  • Third, there is little investment in enabling and strengthening local governments to raise their own taxes and user charges.
  • Fourth, local governments do not have the staff to perform even basic tasks. Furthermore, as most staff are hired by higher level departments and placed with local governments on deputation, they do not feel responsible to the latter; they function as part of a vertically integrated departmental system.
  • If these structural problems were not bad enough, in violation of the constitutional mandate of five yearly elections to local governments, States have often postponed them.
  • In 2005, when the Gujarat government postponed the Ahmedabad corporation elections, a Supreme Court constitutional bench held that under no circumstances can such postponements be allowed.

Downside of centralization

  • Successive Union governments have made a big noise about local involvement in a host of centrally designed programmes, but this does not constitute devolution.
  • Indeed, the current Union government has further centralised service delivery by using technology, and panchayats are nothing more than front offices for several Union government programmes.
  • Sadly, except for a few champions of decentralisation in politics and civil society, people do not distinguish the level of government that is tasked with the responsibility of delivering local services. Therefore, there is no outrage when the local government is shortchanged; citizens may even welcome it.

On corruption

  • Doubtless, criminal elements and contractors are attracted to local government elections, tempted by the large sums of money now flowing to them. They win elections through bribing voters and striking deals with different groups.
  • Furthermore, higher officers posted at the behest of Members of Legislative Assemblies, often on payment of bribes, extract bribes from local governments for plan clearances, approving estimates and payments.
  • Thus, a market chain of corruption operates, involving a partnership between elected representatives and officials at all levels.
  • Yet, there is no evidence to show that corruption has increased due to decentralisation.
  • Decentralised corruption tends to get exposed faster than national or State-level corruption.
  • People erroneously perceive higher corruption at the local level, simply because it is more visible.

Reforms

  • To curb these tendencies, first, gram sabhas and wards committees in urban areas have to be revitalised.
  • The constitutional definition of a gram sabha is that it is an association of voters. Because of our erroneous belief that the word ‘sabha’ means ‘meeting’, we try to regulate how grama sabha meetings are held and pretend that we are strengthening democracy.
  • Consultations with the grama sabha could be organised through smaller discussions where everybody can really participate.
  • Even new systems of Short Message Services, or social media groups could be used for facilitating discussions between members of a grama sabha.
  • Second, local government organisational structures have to be strengthened.
  • Panchayats are burdened with a huge amount of work that other departments thrust on them, without being compensated for the extra administrative costs.
  • Local governments must be enabled to hold State departments accountable and to provide quality, corruption free service to them, through service-level agreements.
  • Third, we cannot have accountable GPs, without local taxation.
  • Local governments are reluctant to collect property taxes and user charges fully.
  • They are happy to implement top-down programmes because they know that if they collect taxes, their voters will never forgive them for misusing their funds.
  • The connection between tax payment and higher accountability is well known, but we wish to ignore these lessons.

News 6: Iran’s minority Kurds


Background

  • Nationwide protests over the death of a young Iranian Kurdish woman in the custody of Iran’s morality police have been at their most intense in the northwestern areas where the majority of the country’s 10 million Kurds live.
  • The demonstrations began in reaction to the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini and then spread to every one of Iran’s 31 provinces.
  • Here are some facts about Iran’s Kurds, part of a community that is spread across several Middle East countries and one of the world’s largest people without a state.

History

  • Minority Kurds, mainly Sunni Muslims in Shi’ite-dominated Iran, speak a language related to Farsi and live mostly in a mountainous region straddling the borders of Armenia, Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey.
  • Kurdish nationalism stirred in the 1890s when the Ottoman Empire was on its last legs.
  • The 1920 Treaty of Sevres, which imposed a settlement and colonial carve-up of Turkey after World War One, promised Kurds independence.
  • Three years later, Turkish leader Kemal Ataturk tore up that accord.
  • The Treaty of Lausanne, ratified in 1924, divided the Kurds among the new nations of the Middle East.
  • Kurdish separatism in Iran first bubbled to the surface with the 1946 Republic of Mahabad, a Soviet-backed state stretching over Iran’s border with Turkey and Iraq. It lasted one year before the central government wrested back control.
  • Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution touched off bloodshed in its Kurdistan region with heavy clashes between the Shi’ite revolutionaries and the Kurdish Party of Iranian Kurdistan (KDPI) which fought for independence.
  • Kurdish claims have oscillated between full-on separatism and autonomy within a multi-ethnic Iranian state, spanning a wide political spectrum from left-leaning secularism to right-wing Islamist thought.

Society

  • With 8 million to 10 million Kurds living in Iran, Tehran fears pressure for secession will grow among a minority with a long history of struggle for its political rights.
  • Rights groups say Kurds, who form about 10 percent of the population, along with other religious and ethnic minorities face discrimination under Iran’s Shi’ite clerical establishment.

Between 25 and 35 million Kurds inhabit a mountainous region straddling the borders of Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Iran and Armenia. They make up the fourth-largest ethnic group in the Middle East, but they have never obtained a permanent nation state.

The Kurds are one of the indigenous peoples of the Mesopotamian plains and the highlands in what are now south-eastern Turkey, north-eastern Syria, northern Iraq, north-western Iran and south-western Armenia.


News 8: Mahakal temple in Ujjain


Background

  • Elaborate arrangements have been made for the inauguration of the first phase of Ujjain’s Mahakaleshwar temple expansion — Mahakal Lok Corridor — by Prime Minister.
  • From large TV screens for the live telecast of the event to oil lamps across the railings of the 600-metre-long Hari Phatak bridge that leads to the Mahakaleshwar temple, Ujjain is all decked up for the big event.
  • The project — Mahakal Maharaj Mandir Parisar Vistar Yojna — is a comprehensive development plan for expansion, beautification and decongestion of the temple premises.
  • The first phase of the project entails development of Mahakal Lok Corridor with a visitor plaza having two entrances — Nandi Dwaar and Pinaki Dwaar. 

Why does the Mahakal temple in Ujjain hold a high significance in Hinduism?

  • Puranas say that Lord Shiva pierced the world as an endless pillar of light, called the jyotirlinga. There are 12 jyotirlinga sites in India, considered a manifestation of Shiva.
  • Besides Mahakal, these include Somnath and Nageshwar in Gujarat, Mallikarjuna in Andhra Pradesh, Omkareshwar in Madhya Pradesh, Kedarnath in Uttarakhand, Bhimashankar, Triyambakeshwar and Grishneshwar in Maharashtra, Viswanath at Varanasi, Baidyanath in Jharkhand, and Rameshwar in Tamil Nadu.
  • Mahakal is the only jyotirlinga facing the south, while all the other jyotirlingas face east. This is because the direction of death is believed to be the south. In fact, people worship Mahakaleshwar to prevent an untimely death.

Mentions of Mahakal temple

  • The Mahakal temple finds a mention in several ancient Indian poetic texts. In the early part of the Meghadutam (Purva Megha) composed in the 4th century, Kalidasa gives a description of the Mahakal temple.
  • It is described as one with a stone foundation, with the ceiling on wooden pillars. There would be no shikharas or spires on the temples prior to the Gupta period.

Ujjain

  • The city of Ujjain was also one of the primary centres of learning for Hindu scriptures, called Avantika in the 6th and 7th centuries BC. Later, astronomers and mathematicians such as Brahmagupta and Bhaskaracharya made Ujjain their home.
  • Also, as per the Surya Siddhanta, one of the earliest available texts on Indian astronomy dating back to the 4th century, Ujjain is geographically situated at a spot where the zero meridian of longitude and the Tropic of Cancer intersect.
  • In keeping with this theory, many of Ujjain temples are in some way connected to time and space, and the main Shiva temple is dedicated to Mahakal, the lord of time.
  • In the 18th century, an observatory was built here by Maharaja Jai Singh II, known as the Vedh Shala or Jantar Mantar, comprising 13 architectural instruments to measure astronomical phenomena.
  • It is said that during the medieval period, Islamic rulers gave donations to priests for offering prayers here.
  • In the 13th century, the temple complex was destroyed by Turk ruler Shams-ud-din Iltutmish during his raid on Ujjain.
  • The present five-storeyed structure was built by the Maratha general Ranoji Shinde in1734, in the Bhumija, Chalukya and Maratha styles of architecture. A century later, its marble walkways were restored by the Scindias.

Other Important News


Friendship benches

  1. It is a joint project by the World Health Organization (WHO) and Qatar on World Mental Health Day (10th October)
  2. The ground-breaking Friendship Benches project was first initiated in Zimbabwe with the support of WHO

Tlawmngaihna – Mizoram’s harmonious approach to life

  1. Tlawmngaihna is a code of conduct.
  2. At the very basic level, it means being honest, kind and helpful to others.
  3. But on a larger level, it’s about being selfless. You are putting community over self.
  4. It’s this spirit of helping others that played a part during the famine in the Mizo Hills in 1958-60.
  5. When Mizos received little to no support from the Indian government, they shared anything and everything they had with one another for survival.
  6. “In Mizo, there is a saying, ‘sem sem dam dam, ei bil thi thi’ (those who hoard will perish but who share will live).
  7. This code of conduct also helped them survive during the COVID pandemic too

Global Food security platform

  1. International Finance Corp has launched the Global Food Security Platform (the Platform), to support the private sector for sustainable production and delivery of food stocks to countries affected by food instability.
  2. International financial institution (est. in 1956 as a private sector arm of World Bank Group) that offers investment, advisory, and asset management services to encourage private sector development in developing countries.
  3. It is a member of the World Bank Group and is headquartered in Washington, USA.

 

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