september to november 2017

POLITY AND CONSTITUTION ___________

 

  1. Centre Panel Recommendations on Hate Speech —
  • Brought into the statute by the UPA-II in 2009, Section 66A had empowered the police to make arrests over what the policemen, in terms of their subjective discretion, could construe as “offensive” or “menacing”.
  • An expert committee, constituted by the Centre after the Supreme Court struck down the controversial Section 66A of the Information Technology Act in 2015, has recommended that the Indian Penal Code, Code of Criminal Procedure and the IT Act be amended to introduce stringent provisions, specifying punishment, to deal with cases of hate speech and use of cyberspace to spread hatred and incitement.
  • The committee, headed by former Law Secretary and Lok Sabha Secretary General T K Viswanathan, submitted its report to the Union Home Ministry last week. Committee member Dr S Sivakumar, who is also a member of the Law Commission, told The Indian Express: “We decided there was no need to re-introduce Section 66A, but we need to strengthen the Indian Penal Code instead.” The committee’s recommendations include:

Prohibiting incitement to hatred

  • Amend IPC section 153 C to include in communication “spoken or written words, signs, visible representation, information, audio, video, or combination of both, transmitted, retransmitted through any telecommunication service, communication device or computer resource”.
  • Punishment:Up to two years or fine of Rs 5,000 or both.
  • Causing fear, alarm or provocation of violence in certain cases
  • By amending IPC section 505 A, punishment of any person or group of persons who intentionally, on grounds of religion, race, caste or community, gender, sexual orientation, place of birth, residence, language, disability or tribe, uses any means of communication to communicate.
  1. Punishment:Up to a year, or Rs 5000 or both.
  2. Amendment to Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973
  3. Add sections 25 B and 25 C — creating the post of a State Cyber Crime Coordinator and District Cyber Crime Cell, respectively.
  4. Amendment to IT Act, 2000
  5. Amendment to Section 78 allows a police officer not below the rank of Sub-Inspector to investigate any offence under this Act (report specifies young police officers, directly recruited as SIs, better equipped and trained to investigate cyber offences)
  6. The expert committee was constituted after the Supreme Court struck down Section 66A of the IT Act. Brought into the statute by the UPA-II in 2009, Section 66A had empowered the police to make arrests over what the policemen, in terms of their subjective discretion, could construe as “offensive” or “menacing” or for the purposes of causing annoyance, inconvenience, etc. It prescribed the punishment for sending messages through computer or any other communication device like a mobile phone or a tablet, and a conviction could fetch a maximum of three years in jail.
  7. Over the years, police invoked this provision to arrest a variety of people, including a cartoonist, professor, students and industrialists, more particularly when they posted contents against politicians. Many of these instances were cited in a batch of petitions filed in the court for getting the provision quashed.
  8. On March 24, 2015, the bench of Justices Rohinton F Nariman and J Chelameswar struck down the “open-ended and unconstitutionally vague” Section 66A, saying nothing short of quashing this law “in its entirety” could suffice since it “arbitrarily, excessively and disproportionately” invaded the right of free speech, right to dissent, right to know, and had a “chilling effect” on the constitutional mandates.
  9. “As Section 66A severely curtails information that may be sent on the Internet based on whether it is grossly offensive, annoying, inconvenient, etc, and being unrelated to any of the subject matters under Article 19(2) must, therefore, fall foul of Article 19(1)(a), and is declared as unconstitutional and void,” the bench ruled.
  10. This landmark ruling came in the matter of Shreya Singhal vs Union of India. Two women of Maharashtra were arrested for expressing displeasure at a bandh called by the Shiv Senain Mumbai after Bal Thackeray’s death in November 2012. The matter was taken up by lawyer Shreya Singhal.
  11. The expert committee, in its report, has stated that “representatives of the Ministry of Women and Child Development stressed upon re-introducing a renovated section 66A within the IT Act, incorporating suitable changes”. But, it goes onto say, other members of the committee advocated the line that with the IT Act being “commercial in nature”, it was important for an Act invoking punishment to amend the Indian Penal Code.
  12. In recommending specific changes in Sections 153 (C) and 505 (A), the committee said only that speech should be accounted as relevant which relates to “religion, race, caste, community, sex, gender, place of birth, residence and language.” The committee argues that online speech would be criminalised “only both, when it advocates hatred and causes the incitement of an offence”.
  13. The recommendations cover online hate speech and “re-sending (or re-tweeting/sharing)” of communication and raise questions if it is Section 66A in another form.
  14. Another member of the committee, Navjeet Wasan, a retired IPS officer and former Director General of the Bureau of Police Research and Development, said: “After Section 66A was struck down by the Supreme Court, we were concerned that while liberty is non-negotiable, what about those denigrating others through social media? Persons in towns, girls and boys experiencing harassment through online speech and messages on social media did not know what to do and how to protect themselves. We hope to be able to provide a framework of the system that would help taking on this crime and help them.”
  15. Sources close to the committee said the expert group relied heavily on rules as amended this year in Europe, and especially the experience in the UK. The committee has also cited the need for guidelines as issued in the UK, and do not exist in India. But it has urged extreme caution while acting on speech to balance competing interests and not thwart freedom of speech generally.
  16. Other members of the committee included Dr Gulshan Rai, National Cyber Security coordinator, and members of the Ministry of Home Affairs and legal experts. “This is not the final word. We have cited legislation from the developed world, from Australia, UK, EU etc, and we hope this begins the discussion,” Wasan said.

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  1. Inner Party Democracy ___

Unlike some countries like Germany and Portugal, India has no legal provision for enforcing internal democracy in a political party apart from few related provisions in section 29A of RPA & in Election Commission guidelines/// OVER THE YEARS — Related developments  The 170th report of the Law Commission (1999)· of India on reform of electoral laws focused on “Necessity of providing laws relating to internal democracy within parties.  The ARC’s 2008 Ethics and Governance report· talked about corruption due to high centralization.  A committee headed by the former Chief Justice· of India, M. N. Venkatachaliah, had drafted a bill to regulate the functioning of political parties      Arguments in Favour of Intra-Party Democracy  It helps party members to hold leaders accountable and· engage in policy decision processes meaningfully as it would bring in competition, participation and representation inside the party.  It may lead to dismantling of nepotism· & dynasty politics (affiliations based on family background, caste, religion etc.).  It would give space for dissent within the party reducing the possibility of formation of number of off shoots· of political parties.  It may promote transparency in handling party funds, thereby reducing influence of money and muscle· power.  It may cultivate a sense of ownership for local politicians in larger issues facing the nation as policy· decisions will involve deliberations and debate within party.

 

 

3. Law Panel on Tribunals ______ Suggests CJI-led body oversee appointments

In a strong message to the government that appointments to tribunals and their functioning should remain independent of the executive’s influence, the Law Commission of India has recommended that a Committee led by the Chief Justice of India should be in charge of the appointments of Chairman, Vice-Chairman and Judicial Members of the various central tribunals, which form a pillar of the country’s justice delivery system.

“While making the appointments to the Tribunal, it must be ensured that independence in working is maintained,” the report of the Commission, led by former Supreme Court judge, Justice (retired) B.S. Chauhan, said in its report to the government.

Specialised role

The tribunals perform an important and specialised role in justice mechanism. They take a load off the already over-burdened courts. They hear disputes related to the environment, armed forces, tax and administrative issues

The Commission has suggested a common nodal agency, possibly under the Law Ministry, to both monitor the working of the tribunals and to ensure uniformity in the appointment, tenure and service conditions for the Chairman, Vice-Chairman and members. As of now, tribunals function under the very government department which may be a litigant before them, and probably, against which they may have to pass orders.

Every order emanating from the tribunal or its appellate forum, wherever it exists, attains finality, the Commission recommended.

HC power to review

In a marked departure from its earlier stand, the Commission recommended the restoration of the High Courts’ power of judicial review over the decisions of the tribunals.

“The power of judicial review conferred on the High Courts is same as that of the Supreme Court, which is a basic feature of the Constitution and tinkered with only by amending of the Constitution,” the report said.

It said parties should be allowed to challenge a tribunal order before the Division Bench of the high court having territorial jurisdiction over the tribunal or its appellate forum. Presently, parties are deprived of an opportunity to move high courts concerned against the orders of some tribunals and have to move the Supreme Court directly.

The Commission, in this regard, specifically points to the case of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT). It recommended that in disputes in which the AFT has jurisdiction, “parties must have a right to approach the high court under Article 226 for the reason that a remedy under Article 136 is not by way of statutory appeal”. It, however, points out that the exact issue is pending for consideration before the Supreme Court.

The Commission said tribunals must have benches in different parts of the country so that people of every geographical area may have easy access to justice.

“Ideally, the benches of the tribunals should be located at all places where the high courts situate. In the event of exclusion of jurisdiction of all courts, it is essential to provide for an equally effective alternative mechanism even at grass root level. This could be ensured by providing State- level sittings looking to the quantum of work of a particular tribunal. Once that is done, the access to justice will stand ensured,” the Commission said.

It further noted that reappointment of chairman and others compromises the independence and fairness of the tribunal.

“One may be inclined to decide matters in a manner that would ensure their reappointment,” the report said.

In its report titled ‘Assessment of Statutory Frameworks of Tribunals in India’, submitted to the Law Ministry on Friday, the panel said, “though the disposal rate of the tribunals in comparison to the filing of cases per year had been remarkable — 94% — the pendency remains high”.

 

SC Collegium Proceedings in Public Domain The Supreme Court collegium seems to have finally given in to the mounting pressure for ensuring transparency in the process of appointment and transfer of Judges. For the first time ever, the Collegium has decided to place its decisions in the publi…

Read more at: http://www.livelaw.in/landmark-step-transparency-supreme-court-collegium-proceedings-now-public-domain/

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  1. Public Finance Management System_____

The Public Financial Management System (PFMS) after implemented on full scale will help Union Government to save a significant amount on interest cost…
It will allow the government to monitor and access the more than Rs.1 lakh crore of idle funds lying with it under various heads. Once government acce…
……..

  1. Law Commission Proposes Anti Torture Legislation ________________________

_____ The Law Commission seeks to plug a legal loophole

“Torture is a wound in the soul so painful that sometimes you can almost touch it, but it is also such intangible that there is no way to heal it”. The Supreme Court reproduced the words of Adriana P. Bartow in itsD.K. Basu judgment to explain the negative effect of torture on human dignity.

The Law Commission of India in its 273rd report has proposed a new anti-torture law, the Prevention of Torture Bill, 2017, which provides a wide definition to torture not confined to physical pain but also includes “inflicting injury, either intentionally or involuntarily, or even an attempt to cause such an injury, which will include physical, mental or psychological”.

The Commission has suggested India’s ratification of the UN Convention Against Torture. The proposed standalone anti-torture law directly makes the state responsible for any injury inflicted by its agents on citizens. Under it, the state shall not claim immunity from the actions of its officers or agents.

The recommendation of the Commission headed by former Supreme Court judge, Justice B.S. Chauhan, will allow human rights advocates to pressurise the government to recognise torture as a separate crime. So far, neither the Indian Penal Code nor the Code of Criminal Procedure specifically or comprehensively addresses custodial torture.

Though India had signed the UN Convention against Torture in 1997, it is yet to ratify it. Efforts to bring a standalone law against torture had lapsed. The National Human Rights Commission has been urging the government to recognise torture as a separate crime and codify punishment in a separate penal law.

Recently, while hearing a PIL filed by former Union Law Minister Ashwani Kumar, the Supreme Court had described torture as an instrument of “human degradation” used by the state. It was after the scathing remarks that the government had referred the question of a law on torture to the Law Commission.

The Commission has asked the government to ratify the UN convention to tide over the difficulties faced by the country in extraditing criminals. The draft Bill has recommended punishment for torture ranging from fine to life imprisonment. In case a person in police custody is found with injuries, it would be “presumed that those injuries have been inflicted by the police”.

The Bill proposes to give the courts the scope to decide a justiciable compensation for a victim, taking into consideration his or her social background, extent of injury or mental agony.

 

  1. Bureau of Indian Standards Act, 2016___

         The Bureau of Indian Standards Bill, 2015

 

  • The Bureau of Indian Standards Bill, 2015 was introduced in Lok Sabha by Mr. Ram Vilas Paswan, Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution on August 7, 2015.  The Bill replaces the Bureau of Indian Standards Act, 1986.  The Act establishes a Bureau for the purpose of standardization, marking and certification of articles and processes.  The Bill seeks to broaden its ambit, and allow the central government to make it mandatory for certain notified goods, articles, processes, etc, to carry the standard mark.
  • Ambit of the Bureau of Indian Standards:  Under the 1986 Act, standardization, marking and certification processes applied to certain articles and processes.  The Bill includes goods, services and systems.  A good, service, article, process and system have been defined in the Bill.
  • Establishment of the Bureau of Indian Standards:  The Bureau of Indian Standards will be a national body which will formulate, implement and certify certain standards of quality for goods, services, articles, processes and systems.  The Bureau will constitute technical committees of experts for the purpose of formulating such standards.  The Bill constitutes a Governing Council which would be responsible to look at the general superintendence, direction and management of the Bureau.
  • Certification of goods, services, articles, etc:  The Bureau would be a licensing authority for quality standards.  A person may apply to the Bureau for a license to use a standard mark, or a certificate of conformity, depending on the good, article, process, etc.  A license or certificate of conformity indicates that the item conforms to the Indian standard as set by the Bureau.  The Bureau will establish and maintain testing laboratories for quality assurance and conformity assessment of goods, articles, services, etc.
  • Certification of precious metals:  A hallmark will be used to certify precious metal articles including silver, gold, platinum, and palladium or their alloys.  A hallmark indicates a proportionate content of the precious metal in the article, as per the Indian standard.  Such articles will be sold in certified sales outlets.
  • Mandatory certification of certain goods: The Bill allows the central government to notify certain goods, articles, etc, which will need to compulsorily carry a standard mark.  Such goods or articles will be notified by the government if it thinks them to be necessary for: (i) public interest or for the protection of human, animal or plant health, (ii) safety of the environment, (iii) prevention of unfair trade practices, or (iv) national security.
  • Recall of goods, services, articles etc:  The Bureau may recall a good or article which is already out for sale or supply.  This will be done if the Bureau is convinced that the good or article does not conform to the requirement of a particular standard.
  • Penalties:  The penalty for improper use of the Indian standard mark will be a fine of up to five lakh rupees.  The Bill also prescribes penalties for: (i) the improper use of the standard mark by testing and marking centres, and (ii) manufacturing or selling goods and articles which do not carry a standard mark and have been mandated to do so, among others.  The Bill provides for compounding of offences punishable with fine except when a person has committed such an offence for the second time or if such an offence committed by him has been compounded earlier.
  • Offences by companies:  When a company commits an offence under the Bill, the persons responsible for or in charge of the company will be presumed to be guilty irrespective of whether the offence was committed without their knowledge, consent or connivance.
  • Appeals:  An appeal against an order regarding the granting of a license or certificate of conformity, or compounding of offences, may be made to the Director General of the Bureau.  A further appeal against the order of the Director General may then be made to the central government.

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7. Finance Commission

 Former Planning Commission Member N K Singh was on Monday appointed chairman of 15th Finance Commission, which among other things has been asked to look into the impact of GST on finances of both the Centre and states, said a government notification.

The other members of the commission, which is required to submit its report by October 2019, are former Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das and former Chief Economic Advisor Ashok Lahiri, Niti Aayog Member Ramesh Chand and Georgetown University professor Anoop Singh.

The commission will review the current status of the finance, deficit, debt levels, cash balances and fiscal discipline efforts of the Union and the states.

It will also recommend a fiscal consolidation road map for sound fiscal management.

As per Article 280 of the Constitution, the commission is required to make recommendations on the distribution of the net proceeds of taxes between the Centre and the states.

The commission also suggests the principles which should govern the grants in aid of the revenues of the states out of the Consolidated Fund of India.

 
As per the terms of reference, the panel will also “the impact of the GST, including payment of compensation for possible loss of revenues for 5 years, and abolition of a number of cesses, earmarking thereof for compensation and other structural reforms programme, on the finances of Centre and states”, said the notification.

 
Further, the commission will examine progress made in promoting ease of doing business by effecting related policy and regulatory changes and promoting labour intensive growth.

 
The new Finance Commission will cover five-year period commencing April 1, 2020.

 
The 14th Finance Commission was set up on January 2, 2013. Its recommendations cover the period from April 1, 2015 to March 31, 2020.

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8. Probity in Judiciary under Question ______ Urgent reform is required to restore the moral authority of the Supreme Court

On November 10, a five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court led by the Chief Justice of India, in a case concerning corruption arising out of certain judicial proceedings, declared that the Chief Justice is the master of the roster with the sole prerogative to determine which Bench of judges gets to hear which cases. That the Chief Justice, as the head of the judiciary, determines the roster is a platitude that pales in public significance to the critical role of the Chief Justice as the embodiment of moral authority of the entire judicial system. This moral authority suffered a fatal blow when the Chief Justice chose to reassert his own administrative powers in the face of allegations concerning the possible lack of probity of senior public functionaries. The situation demanded statesmanship — unfortunately the Court engaged in whataboutery, raising the spectre of contempt of court, only to drop it finally.

A criminal conspiracy

The genesis of this episode lies in the filing of petitions by Prasad Education Trust before the Supreme Court and Allahabad High Court. The trust operated a medical college whose permission to run certain courses had been declined. Justices Dipak Misra, Amitava Roy, P.C. Pant, A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud heard the parties and passed several orders in the Supreme Court; Justices Narayan Shukla and Virendra Kumar-II passed an interim order in Allahabad High Court.

A simultaneous investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) indicated a possible criminal conspiracy to ensure a favourable judicial order in this matter. According to its FIR, two persons managing the affairs of the trust, approached a retired judge of Allahabad and Odisha High Courts, Justice I.M. Quddusi, through Sudhir Giri of the Venkateshwara Medical College (part of Venkateshwara University, in whose case another judgment had been passed by Justice Dipak Misra in the Supreme Court). Quddusi recommended the filing of a petition before the Allahabad High Court, in which partial relief was granted.

Subsequently, when the matter again reached the Supreme Court, the FIR reveals that Quddusi and his associates assured the trust of getting the matter “settled” in the Supreme Court through “their contacts” and engaged Biswanath Agrawala, a resident of Bhubaneswar. Agrawala claimed “very close contact with senior relevant public functionaries” and demanded significant gratification for settling the case. Quddusi, Agrawala and four associates have now been arrested for offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act and the Indian Penal Code.

Since the FIR indicated an attempt to fix a judicial proceeding, the Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court requesting that a Special Investigation Team under a retired Chief Justice of India be set up. This request was made since it was apprehended that leaving the investigation to the CBI might mean allowing the government to influence judges who would be brought under investigation.

The merits of such a request are a distinct matter. However, propriety would plausibly demand that since the FIR pertained to a case where Justice Misra had been the presiding judge, as Chief Justice of India, he would not perform his default role of allocating Benches for determination of this case or exercise his prerogative of hearing the case himself. Doing so would imply that the Chief Justice would not be “like Caesar’s wife”, the puritanical standard of propriety the Court expects of public servants. The same principle would apply to any judge in the Supreme Court and Allahabad High Court who had earlier participated in the proceedings. Recusal would not be an admission of complicity; instead it would be an affirmation of the principle that justice not only be done but be seen to be done.

Diminishing propriety

Unfortunately, by allocating the matter to a Division Bench, the Chief Justice gave this principle a go-by. It is moot whether the Bench entrusted by the Chief Justice would ensure justice or not — the critical point is that such a Bench chosen by the Chief Justice was congenitally defective. This impropriety set off a chain of improper actions — filing of a second petition in the same matter, hearing of the second petition by Justice J. Chelameswar, the second-most senior judge of the Supreme Court, and an order by his Bench that the matter should be heard by five senior-most judges of the Court.

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To be certain, devoid of context, each of these actions is improper. But the impropriety in these actions is technical and not substantive. That it is the prerogative of the Chief Justice alone to list matters and constitute Benches is a convention based on long practice. However, when doing so would cast a shadow of doubt on the process of justice delivery itself, it is not only proper but also necessary that this task is performed by another judge. The Court cannot stand on formality and sacrifice substantive justice for a vacuous conception of prerogative power.

This episode of plausible administrative impropriety was unfortunately compounded by the Chief Justice constituting a five-judge Bench, including himself, to hear the matter on the judicial side. A resounding reiteration of the Chief Justice’s own powers to determine the roster, annulling the order of Justice Chelameswar and hearing supportive bystanders in the Court, were signs of a Court ignoring the need for justice to be seen to be done. Again, whether the right decision was reached or not is moot — a decision was reached in which the Chief Justice was unarguably judge in his own cause. That itself suffices to make this judgment bad in law.

Glasnost and perestroika

To blame one individual or another, or attribute motives for this episode would be to miss the wood for the trees. Instead, there are two structural issues of consequence to anyone who cares about judicial integrity. First, the cardinal principle that the Chief Justice of India is the master of the roster must be re-examined. Although there can scarcely be any argument against it as a tenet of judicial discipline, it would be naive to consider it an absolute principle of justice delivery.

In the U.K., Lord Chancellors had, for long, used the prerogative of Bench selection to serve partisan ends. As scholar Diana Woodhouse writes, Lord Halsbury wanted the power of trade unions reduced and selected Benches accordingly; Lord Hailsham chose Benches to constrict his colleague Lord Atkin’s ability to progressively interpret the law and Lord Loreburn’s cherry-picking of judges to reach favourable conclusions is well-known. The history of such abuse of prerogative led the U.K. to statutorily establish two leadership positions in the new Supreme Court — that of the President and the Deputy President, together with a professional registry and a Chief Executive. The unchecked power of the Chief Justice of India to constitute Benches must be similarly circumscribed. Doing so does not amount to mistrusting the Chief Justice, but rather being cognisant of changing demands of accountability.

Second, much has been said of the indiscipline demonstrated by Justice Chelameswar’s Bench in listing a case and determining the Bench that hears it. Discipline lies at the heart of judicial functioning — its complex rules on filing, unwritten conventions of seniority, expected decorum in courtroom seating are all critical components to ensure institutional discipline. But a single-minded reiteration of such formal norms appear perverse when confronted with a case where the personal probity of individuals in the judiciary is in doubt. If only to conclusively dispel such doubt, an independent investigation was warranted. This might well have been the logical conclusion of the technically improper order passed by Justice Chelameswar’s Bench listing the matter before the five senior-most judges.

For several senior members of the Bar to focus solely on this apparent impropriety while remaining blind to graver improprieties elsewhere and larger questions of probity is symptomatic of a legal fraternity that steadfastly refuses to practice the values it preaches to others. Closing ranks and taking refuge in hidebound norms of propriety is like playing the proverbial fiddle, while pretending that public confidence in the judiciary is a gift that will keep on giving.

Justice Kurian Joseph of the Supreme Court wrote in respect of judicial appointments that a ‘glasnost’ and ‘perestroika’ is required if the system is to regain public confidence. If the moral authority of the Chief Justice of India and the Supreme Court is to be restored, something similar is needed urgently. Otherwise the Supreme Court will soon be a far cry from the institution we all revere. Some might say, it already is.

 

 7 1.5. Program to Train Elected Women Representatives of Panchayati Raj Institutions_Trained EWRs will help connect people at the grassroots to the benefits of Government programmes: Smt Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

Trained women representatives will ensure greater accountability, honesty and transparency in the execution of the developmental projects: Panchayati Raj Minister 

A comprehensive module for capacity building of Elected Women Representatives (EWRs) of Panchayats and a training program for Trainers of women panchayat leaders across the country was launched by the Ministry of Women and Child Development in collaboration with the Ministry of Panchayati Raj today. The training program was launched at Ranchi, Jharkhand through a video conference, by the Minister of Women & Child Development, Smt Maneka Sanjay Gandhi in the presence of Minister of Rural Development & Panchayati Raj, Shri Narendra Singh Tomar in New Delhi today. The training program seeks to empower EWRs of panchayats by enhancing their capacity, capability and skill in governance and administration of villages.

Addressing the select women trainers/women sarpanches of Jharkhand at the video conference today, Smt Maneka Sanjay Gandhi said that inspite of 33% reservation for women in the panchayat bodies, the EWRs continue to remain ineffective since they do not have appropriate knowledge and skill to administer the village, and the show continues to be run by their husbands.

These women representatives will have to be trained in order to ensure that they take up the responsibility of all the tasks entrusted upon them on being elected, Smt Maneka Gandhi said. The Minister explained that it is due to this reason, the WCD Ministry has initiated this countrywide program of training the women sarpanches and other women representatives at the grassroots level in various areas like engineering (building of roads, drains, latrines etc.), finance, social development, education, health, and environment among others. Similarly, several new schemes have been launched by the Prime Minister , Shri Narendra Modi which bring benefit to the common man especially those in distress and the under privileged. The women sarpanches can be helpful in taking these schemes to the people at the grassroots level, the Minister said. These schemes include Fasal Beema Yojana, Pradhanmantri Awas Yojana, Suraksha Bima Yojana, Sukanya Samridhi Yojana, maternity benefits schemes among others. Apart from this, the training programme will help to raise these women to the next level of leadership , said Smt Maneka Gandhi.

The WCD Minister said that safety of women, education of the girl child, health of women, creation of assets under MGNREGA, immunization and ensuring nutrition through lakhs of Anganwadis of the country have become important issues at the grassroots level in which the women sarpanches can play a pivotal role in effective delivery. The Minster suggested that the women sarpanches should form a whatsapp group and share their good practices as well as assist one another in finding solutions to common problems.

Speaking on the occasion, the Union Minister for Panchayati Raj, Rural Development and Drinking Water and Sanitation, Shri Narendra Singh Tomar said that under the 14th Finance Commission, the Panchayats will get Rs 2 Lakh crore in 5 years as against the earlier amount of Rs 30,000 crore for the overall development of the villages. He underlined the  need for greater accountability, honesty and transparency in the execution of the developmental projects like building of roads, drainage system, toilets, farm ponds and dwelling units which he hoped will be ensured by the newly trained women representatives.

Shri Tomar laid stress on advance planning by the Gram Panchayats to free their villages from scourges of poverty and malnutrition. He said that women Sarpanches can form groups in the villages to spread social awareness on schemes like Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Pradhan Mantri Aawas Yojana, Immunisation, school enrolment, various insurance schemes for farmers and common man, benefits for pregnant women and BHIM App for cashless transaction. The training programme will lead to the empowerment of Women Sarpanches for the overall development of their villages and the country, explained the Panchayati Raj Minister.

The Chairperson, National Commission for Women, Smt Lalitha Kumaramangalam said that the training program will be closely monitored to ensure proper learning by the sarpanches and EWRs. Smt Lalitha Kumaramangalam also expressed hope that the EWRs will emerge as future leaders of the country.

In the first phase, 40 master trainers of Jharkhand will be trained at the State institute of Rural Development, Ranchi. In the second phase, approximately 3000 EWRs will be trained by these master trainers in the three districts of Simdega, Pakur and Chatra of Jharkhand.

Starting with Jharkhand, similar training programs will be organised in different states throughout the country with the help of National Institute of Rural Development, State Institutes of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Departments of the States to train EWRs throughout the county. There are currently around 13 lakhs EWRs in panchayats across the nation.

The module has been prepared by the National Commission for Women of the WCD Ministry in collaboration with TISS. The module contains training guidelines, timeline, implementation guidelines, training schedules and monitoring and evaluation. The training will be participatory with group discussions, brainstorming lectures, demonstrations, field visits, case studies, games, exercise, role play, small workshops and individual assignments. The module discusses various topics like ‘What is an ideal Panchayat’, composition of the Gram Panchayat, development schemes and programmes, resources of panchayats and their utilization, laws for protection of the vulnerable sections among others.

 

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 10. More Seats for Sikkim Assembly _______

Proposal to help Limboos, Tamangs

The Home Ministry has proposed an increase in the number of seats in the Sikkim Assembly from 32 to 40. The expansion will be the first since the State merged with India in 1975.

The seats are being increased to accommodate people from the Limboo and Tamang communities, notified as the Scheduled Tribes in Sikkim in January 2003.

Of the eight seats proposed to be increased, five will be reserved for Limboo and Tamangs.

Now, Sikkim has 12 seats reserved for Bhutias and Lepchas, two for the Scheduled Castes, one seat for the Sanghas and 17 general seats.

As per constitutional provisions, the total number of seats for STs should be in proportion to the population.

The seats for Bhutia and Lepchas are reserved not on the basis of them being a Scheduled Tribe, but as a sequel to a political agreement in 1973 between the Government of India, ex-Chogyal (King) of Sikkim and political parties.

A petition was moved in the Supreme Court that Limboo and Tamangs were not adequately represented in the Assembly and the apex court on January 4, 2016 directed the Home Ministry to take necessary action. A senior government official said a proposal has been sent to the Ministry of Law and Justice to amend the Representation of the People Act (RPA) for the purpose. As per the Delimitation Act, 2002, the number of seats in an Assembly of any State can only be readjusted on the basis of the first census conducted after 2026.

The Law ministry also said that the final order made by the Delimitation Commission could not have been challenged by any court but the special constitutional provision to Sikkim allows them to make the changes.

Mr. Chamling also said that “the existing specific reservation of 12 seats for Bhutia and Lepcha communities, and one seat for Sangha constituency, which are given to them on the basis of being Scheduled Tribes should not be disturbed or tinkered with.”

A resolution passed by the Sikkim Assembly in 2009 had generated apprehension in the minds of the indigenous Bhutia-Lepchas and the expansion of the assembly seats could dilute their political rights until there was a “proportionate increase” of seats.

As a way out, Mr. Chamling suggested that the entire State assembly be designated as “Scheduled Tribes.” The ministry of Tribal affairs opposed the move as the remaining communities like Thami, Chhetri, Sanyasi, Newar, Kirt Khambu Rai, Kirat Dewan, Sunuwar, Gurung, Mangar and Bhujel did not fulfil the criteria.

“There will be amendments to the Second Schedule to the RP Act, 1950, whereby total seats in Sikkim Legislative Assembly will be 40 in place of existing 32, reserving five seats for Limboo and Tamang, while retaining existing reservations for Bhutias, Lepchas, Scheduled Castes and Sanghas,” a draft proposal of the home ministry said.

The proposal also said that Section 5A of the RP Act, 1951 will be amended to provide “that in case of a seat reserved for Limboo and Tamang tribe, he is to be a member of Limboo and Tamang tribe specified in the Representation of Sikkim Subjects Act, 1974 and elector or an assembly constituency in the State.”

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INTERNATIONAL

 

 

  1. India-EU ___________________________

14 2.1.1. India-Italy ___________________________ India and Italy today inked an MoU for enhanced cooperation in the health sector by pooling in technical, scientific, financial and human resources to upgrade infrastructural resources, medical education and research in both countries.

Health Minister J P Nadda said both the countries share a rich relationship which has been enhanced by high-level visits.

The MoU recognises the potential for exchange in the health sector between the two countries, and the need to tap the capabilities and opportunities in a focused and comprehensive manner, an official statement issued by the health ministry said.

Nadda and his Italian counterpart Beatrice Lorenzin signed the MoU in the presence of senior officers from the health ministry and a high-level delegation from Italy.

“The objective of the MoU is to establish cooperation between the two countries in the field of health by pooling technical, scientific, financial and human resources with the ultimate goal of upgrading the quality and infrastructural resources involved in health care, medical education and training and research in both countries,” the statement said.

The main areas of cooperation include exchange and training of doctors and other health professionals, assistance in development of human resource and setting up of health care facilities and regulation of pharmaceuticals, medical devices and cosmetics, it said.

It also includes promotion of business development opportunities in pharmaceuticals, procurement of generic and essential drugs as well as health equipment, collaboration in prevention of non-communicable disease (NCD) and in the field of climate change impact on communicable diseases and vector borne diseases,

 

 

  1. Chabahar Port

The first phase of the Chabahar port on the Gulf of Oman was inaugurated today by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, opening a new strategic route connecting Iran, India and Afghanistan bypassing Pakistan, and reflecting growing convergence of interests among the three countries.

The port in the Sistan-Balochistan province on the energy-rich nation’s southern coast is easily accessible from India’s western coast and is increasingly seen as a counter to Pakistan’s Gwadar Port, which is being developed with Chinese investment and is located at distance of around 80 kms from Chabahar.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said Minister of State for Shipping Pon Radhakrishnan represented India at the inauguration ceremony of the Phase 1 of the Shahid Beheshti Port at Chabahar which was also attended by ambassadors and senior officials of the region.

An India-Iran-Afghanistan ministerial-level trilateral meeting on Chabahar also took place today on the sidelines of the event where the three countries resolved to work towards integrated development of connectivity infrastructure including ports, road and rail networks to open up greater opportunities for regional market access and integration of their economies.

The Chabahar port is being considered a gateway to golden opportunities for trade by India, Iran and Afghanistan with central Asian countries besides ramping up trade among the three countries in the wake of Pakistan denying transit access to New Delhi.

“The routes of the region should be connected on land, sea and air,” Rouhani said at the inauguration ceremony, according to his office.

India has been closely working with Afghanistan and Iran to create alternative, reliable access routes for trade.

Under the agreement signed between India and Iran in May last year, India is to equip and operate two berths in Chabahar Port Phase-I with capital investment of USD 85.21 million and annual revenue expenditure of USD 22.95 million on a 10-year lease.

The MEA, in a statement, said Radhakrishnan also represented India in the second India-Iran-Afghanistan ministerial-level trilateral meeting on Chabahar port in Chabahar today. Iran was represented by its Transport Minister Abbas Akhoundi and Afghanistan by its Trade and Commerce Minister Humayoon Rasaw.

In the meeting, the three countries assessed the progress in the development of the port and reiterated their commitment to complete and operationalise it at the earliest, which they felt would provide alternative access to landlocked Afghanistan to regional and global markets.

A joint statement issued after the meeting said the ministers also deliberated on trilateral pact relating to the mega connectivity project and expressed satisfaction on the completion of the ratification procedures by Afghanistan and India. They welcomed the steps taken by Iran to complete the ratification process.

In May 2016, India, Iran and Afghanistan had inked a pact which entailed establishment of Transit and Transport Corridor among the three countries using Chabahar Port as one of the regional hubs for sea transportation in Iran, besides multi- modal transport of goods and passengers across the three nations.

“The ministers discussed the next steps for full implementation of the agreement and moving towards its operationalisation. Towards this endeavour, it was decided to finalise protocols related to transport and transit, ports, customs procedures and consular affairs. It was also decided to convene an expert-level meeting of senior officials of the three countries at the earliest,” the joint statement said.

Reiterating the importance of Chabahar as a hub for regional economic connectivity and their commitment to work towards this objective, the ministers also commended the joint efforts of the three countries in the recent successful transit of wheat from India to Afghanistan through Chabahar.

“The ministers agreed that an integrated development of connectivity infrastructure including ports, road and rail networks would open up greater opportunities for regional market access and contribute towards the economic integration and benefit of the three countries and the region,” the statement said.

The ministers also agreed to organise a connectivity event involving all stakeholders at Chabahar at the earliest so as to increase awareness about the new opportunities offered by Chabahar Port.

The MEA said the meeting also commended the transit of first tranche of 1,10,000 tonnes of wheat from India to Afghanistan through the Chabahar Port.

It said Radhakrishnan expressed his positive appreciation to the Iranian side on the recent steps taken towards ratification by the Majlis of Iran on the Trilateral Transit and Trade Agreement signed in May 2016 between India, Iran and Afghanistan.

Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, Rouhani noted that transit is the best communication tool for nations, adding .

“the routes of the region should be connected on land, sea and air,” according to his office.

Ahead of the inauguration of the port, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj yesterday met her Iranian counterpart Javed Zarif in Tehran during which implementation of the Chabahar port project was discussed among other issues.

Swaraj made a stopover at Tehran on her return from Russian city of Sochi where she had attended the annual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).

Over a month ago, India had sent its first consignment of wheat to Afghanistan by sea through the Chabahar port, marking opening of the new transit route.

 

  1. India-Africa _________________________

Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi today said the bilateral trade between India and Africa will cross $100 billion mark in next two years, owing to improvement in the business environment in India and better connectivity across the African continent.

The bilateral trade between India and the African nations was recorded around $57 billion in 2015-16.

“Africa offers lucrative business opportunities for Indian micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) across diverse sec ..
he bilateral trade between India and the African nations was recorded around $57 billion in 2015-16.

“Africa offers lucrative business opportunities for Indian micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) across diverse sectors such as FMCG (fast moving consumer goods), mining and minerals, telecommunications, construction and others,” Naqvi said at a conference organised by Assocham.
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  1. Iran Nuclear Deal ____________________

When the Obama administration sold its Iran nuclear deal to Congress in 2015, one of its primary arguments was that the agreement was narrow. It lifted only nuclear sanctions. America, President Barack Obama told us, would remain a vigilant foe of Iran’s regional predations through sanctions and other means.

Thanks to stunning new reporting from Politico’s Josh Meyer, we can now assess these assertions and conclude that they are … well, “alternative facts.”

Meyer reports that while the U.S. and other great powers were negotiating a deal to bring transparency to Iran’s nuclear program, top officials in Obama’s government dismantled a campaign, known as Operation Cassandra, intended to undermine Hezbollah’s global drug trafficking and money laundering network.

A few months after the implementation of that bargain in January 2016, Operation Cassandra was ripped apart. Agents were reassigned. Leads and sources dried up. Bad guys got away.

Hezbollah is many things: a Lebanese political party, a militia and a Shiite religious movement. It is also an arm of Iranian foreign policy. Hezbollah shock troops fight alongside Iran’s Revolutionary Guard commanders in Syria and Iraq. Iran uses the group’s operatives for international terror attacks in Latin America. Hezbollah’s advanced arsenal is supplied by the Iranian state. Hezbollah’s drug trafficking provides the revenue it needs to spread mayhem. To curb that trafficking is to starve Iran’s primary proxy.

The Obama administration believed cracking down on Hezbollah’s trafficking would undermine nuclear negotiations. As David Asher, a former Pentagon illicit finance analyst and a key player in Operation Cassandra, told Meyer: “This was a policy decision, it was a systematic decision. They serially ripped apart this entire effort that was very well supported and resourced, and it was done from the top down.”

The details are troubling. One example involves Ali Fayad, whom DEA agents suspected was the Hezbollah operative who reported directly to Russian president Vladimir Putin as a weapons supplier in Iraq and Syria. In 2014 Fayad was arrested by Czech authorities. Meyer reports that even though Fayad was indicted by U.S. courts for planning the murder of U.S. officials, “top Obama administration officials declined to apply serious pressure on the Czech government to extradite him to the United States, even as Putin was lobbying aggressively against it.” Fayad eventually found his way back to Lebanon, and is believed today to be back at his old job, supplying Russian heavy weapons to Iranian-backed militants in Syria.

If the Trump administration had let Fayad slip through the net of law enforcement, that would be a five-alarm scandal. And yet for Obama this was part of a pattern. Obama never asked Syria’s neighbors to deny fly-over rights to Russian aircraft in 2015, which could have slowed or prevented Putin from establishing air bases in Syria that were used to bomb civilians and aid workers.

Russia established those air bases less than two months after the end of the Iran nuclear negotiations. The chief of Iran’s Quds Force, Qassem Suleimani, also saw the close of the nuclear talks as a green light. He was soon on a plane to Moscow to iron out the tactical alliance between Russia and Iran in Syria as Obama went about trying to persuade more than a third of Congress to support the nuclear bargain.

Obama officials reached for comment disputed elements of Meyer’s reporting. Kevin Lewis, a spokesman for Obama, pointed to some European arrests of Hezbollah operatives after the implementation of the nuclear deal. But Meyer says officials with Operation Cassandra noted that these suspects were nabbed after the Obama Justice Department shot down efforts to prosecute these operatives in U.S. courts.

A particularly cringe-inducing response came from a senior national security official who suggested, anonymously, to Meyer that agents in a DEA operation might unwittingly botch a CIA or Israeli intelligence operation within Hezbollah.

That’s doubtful, at least for the CIA. As the Los Angeles Times reported in 2011 the agency’s Beirut station, which tracked Hezbollah, was put out of business after most of its sources were arrested that year. It’s highly unlikely the agency would have been able to build up its source network in a few short years. What’s more, the CIA director for Obama’s second term, John Brennan, had openly discussed his view of trying to separate Hezbollah hardliners from Hezbollah moderates in Washington policy forums. The decision to go soft on Hezbollah looks entirely deliberate.

So was all of this worth it? We know what the West got out of the nuclear deal: a temporary suspension of Iran’s nuclear program and increased transparency into its stockpiles, enrichment facilities and laboratories. At the time the Obama administration told us that in exchange, the U.S. had to lift only the crippling nuclear sanctions against Iran. It turns out the price was much higher.

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  1. Catalonia’s Independence Referendum __

The Spanish region of Catalonia is set to hold a referendum on independence on October 1.

The single question facing voters, “Do you want Catalonia to become an independent state in the form of a republic?”, has generated many more.

Why does the referendum matter?

Catalonia, an area in northeastern Spain of 7.5 million people, accounts for 15 percent of Spain’s population and 20 percent of its economic output.

About 1.6 million people live in Barcelona, Catalonia’s capital, which is a major tourist destination.

Sunday’s vote will be the region’s second referendum on independence in three years.

The previous ballot, a non-binding vote in November 2014, returned an 80 percent result in favour of an independent Catalan state. However, less than half of the 5.4 million eligible voters participated.

The Spanish government rejected the Generalitat’s, Catalonia’s regional government, proposal to hold a binding ballot on the grounds that it was unconstitutional. They take the same position on Sunday’s vote.

Who voted and how?

Only Catalan residents of voting age are entitled to participate in the referendum.

Up to 85 percent are in favour of holding the referendum, according to a poll conducted by El Periodico de Catalunya, a regional daily newspaper.

However, only about 41 percent said they intend to vote “Yes” to independence when asked in June of this year by the Centre for Opinion Studies, the regional government’s polling body.

A number of pro-union Catalans are expected to boycott the vote, on the grounds that the referendum is illegal.

Lluis Orriols Galve, a professor of politics at the Carlos III University of Madrid, told Al Jazeera that, despite expected disruption from Spanish authorities, many will be able to take part in the vote.

“The government will have big difficulties stopping the referendum in the territory, the state simply cannot control the whole region, but they will try to prevent it taking place in key areas such as Barcelona,” he said.

Ada Colau Ballano, Barcelona’s mayor, has reached an agreement with the regional government to allow voting in the city, despite opposing independence herself.

Why independence? Or why not?

Catalonia has a distinct history, culture and language.

First referenced in the 12th century, a defined region of Catalonia had existed for more than 250 years before it joined Spain during the country’s formation in the 16th Century.

As such, identity plays a large role in the debate surrounding independence.

Under the military government of Francisco Franco, from 1939-1975, Catalan culture was suppressed.

Symbols of Catalan identity such as the castells, or human towers, were prohibited and parents were forced to choose Spanish names for their children.

The Catalan language (also spoken in Valencia and the Balearic islands) was also restricted, said Sergi Mainer, a lecturer in Catalan culture at the University of Edinburgh.

“With Franco Catalan was banned publicly, publishing was controlled under censorship, after the coming of democracy the only official language was Castilian,” he told Al Jazeera.

“There was repression everywhere in Spain, but extra repression was felt in Catalonia.”

However, support for independence among Catalans isn’t universal.

“It’s a false referendum and many think if there’s no legal guarantee then it’s better not to vote,” Jorge Amado, president of Catalunya Somos Todos, a pro-union organisation for Catalans living outside the region (who aren’t eligible to vote), told Al Jazeera.

“It’s a manipulation. Manipulation of history, of the media, and of the Catalan people to promote this sense that Catalonia can’t be united with Spain.”

Why now?

The push for full autonomy appears to have gathered pace in recent years, most notably since Spain’s 2008 debt crisis.

“In that moment, people in Catalonia demanded more self-government and control over what is done with their money,” said Orriols.

Pro-independence supporters claim Catalonia, which is one of Spain’s wealthiest regions, offers more financial support to Spain than it receives from the central government in Madrid.

Many view the region’s strong economy as an indicator that it would be viable as a sovereign state.

Following a ruling by Spain’s constitutional court in 2010, which stated there is no legal basis for recognising Catalonia as a nation, independence appears to have taken preference over reform for a portion of the region’s population.

“Because of past experience, instead of demanding state reform, they started to support independence,” Orriols said.

How is Spain reacting?

Spain’s constitutional court ordered a suspension of the referendum the day after it was announced, following an appeal from the Spanish government who claimed the plebiscite would breach the country’s constitution.

Spain’s 1978 constitution decrees that the country is indivisible, and grants the national government exclusive power to hold referendums.

A majority of Spaniards outside of Catalonia, about 70 percent, oppose the referendum, according to Orriols.

Mariano Rajoy, the Spanish prime minister, has labelled the plan an “intolerable act of disobedience” and pledged to do everything in his power to prevent the vote from occurring.

Spanish authorities have arrested at least 14 Catalan officials, including Josep Maria Jove, the regional government’s junior economy minister, in recent weeks.

Officials have also carried out a number of raids, entered local government offices and seized referendum campaign material, including some 10 million ballot papers.

“The government is fulfilling its obligation [to comply with the judicial ruling], and I have to say that we will continue to do so until the end,” Rajoy said in a statement on September 20.

Carles Puigdemont, Catalan’s president, accused Madrid of acting in a “totalitarian” manner, saying “we condemn and reject the anti-democratic and totalitarian actions of the Spanish state” in a televised address on September 21.

Spain’s monarch, King Felipe VI, has declared the Spanish constitution “will prevail” over any attempt to break the country apart.

What powers does Catalonia already have?

In 1931, when Spain became a republic, Catalonia was given greater political autonomy within the confines of the state.

However, by 1939 its powers had been revoked following the Nationalists’ victory in the Spanish Civil War.

Following Franco’s death in 1975, Catalan autonomy re-emerged and flourished.

In 1979 a new Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia was issued, which restored the Catalan parliament.

Elections for the 135-member body were held the following year, on March 20.

The region, which forms one of Spain’s 17 “autonomous communities”, has its own police force and powers over affairs such as education, healthcare and welfare.

There are also provisions in place to protect Catalan identity, including joint language status for Catalan and Castilian and a law that requires teachers, doctors and public sector employees to use the Catalan language in their places of work.

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  1. The Kurdish Independence Referendum__

An independence referendum for Iraqi Kurdistan was held on 25 September 2017, with preliminary results showing approximately 93.25 percent of votes cast in favour of independence. Despite reporting that the independence referendum would be non-binding, the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) characterised it as binding,[2][3][4] although they claimed that an affirmative result would trigger the start of state building and negotiations with Iraq rather than an immediate declaration of independence of Kurdistan.[5] The referendum’s legality was rejected by the federal government of Iraq.

It was originally planned to be held in 2014 amidst controversy and dispute between the regional and federal governments.[6]Calls for Kurdish independence had been going on for years, with an unofficial 2005 referendum resulting in 98% voting in favor of independence.[7] These longstanding calls gained impetus following the Northern Iraq offensive by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant during the Iraqi Civil War in which Baghdad-controlled forces abandoned some areas, which were then taken by the Peshmerga and controlled de facto by the Kurds.

The referendum was announced and delayed on several occasions[8][9] as Kurdish forces co-operated with the Iraqi central government for the liberation of Mosul,[10] but by April 2017, it was being seen as happening some time in 2017.[11] On 7 June 2017, Kurdish President Masoud Barzani held a meeting with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), and other ruling parties, where the independence referendum was confirmed to be held on 25 September 2017.

 

 

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  1. US Withdraws from UNESCO___________

The United States will withdraw from UNESCO at the end of next year, the State Department said Thursday, to stop accumulating unpaid dues and make a stand on what it said is anti-Israel bias at the U.N.’s educational, science and cultural organization.

In notifying UNESCO of the decision Thursday morning, the State Department said it would like to remain involved as a nonmember observer state. That will allow the United States to engage in debates and activities, though it will lose its right to vote on issues.

The withdrawal follows long-standing issues the U.S. has had with UNESCO and does not necessarily foreshadow a further retrenchment of U.S. engagement with the United Nations, where the Trump administration has been pushing to bring about structural and financial reforms.

“This is pragmatic, not a grander political signal,” said John McArthur, a fellow in the Global Economy and Development program at the Brookings Institution and an adviser to the United Nations Foundation.

The most immediate impact is that the U.S. will halt the arrears it has run up since it stopped funding the organization in 2011 to protest UNESCO’s admission of Palestine as a full member. By the end of this calendar year, the unpaid U.S. bill will amount to $550 million. With no sign that U.S. concerns would be addressed, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson decided to pull out after Dec. 31, 2018, when the unpaid balance will top $600 million.

State Department officials said they hope the withdrawal will  help push UNESCO to make changes that would satisfy Washington so the U.S. can resume full membership.

“It sends a strong message that we need to see fundamental reform in the organization, and it raises everyone’s awareness about continued anti-Israel bias,” said one official, speaking on condition of anonymity under department ground rules.

The United States helped found the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization after World War II, but has been at odds with it in recent years. State Department officials cited a 2012 decision not to expel Syria from its human rights committee after the civil war in that country began, and repeated resolutions that refer to Israel as an occupying power.

Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., said the last straw was when UNESCO this summer designated the old city of Hebron in the West Bank, with its Tomb of the Patriarchs, a Palestinian World Heritage site.

Calling UNESCO’s politicization a “chronic embarrassment,” Haley added, “Just as we said in 1984 when President Reagan withdrew from UNESCO, U.S. taxpayers should no longer be on the hook to pay for policies that are hostile to our values and make a mockery of justice and common sense.”

Haley said the United States will evaluate all U.N. agencies “through the same lens.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the decision to leave UNESCO “brave” and “moral.” Other Israeli officials, from both left and right, also praised the decision. Netanyahu said he had instructed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to prepare for Israel’s withdrawal as well.

“UNESCO has become a theater of the absurd because, instead of preserving history, it distorts it,” he said in a statement.

Irina Bokova, director-general of UNESCO, expressed “profound regret” over the decision.

“At the time when the fight against violent extremism calls for renewed investment in education, in dialogue among cultures to prevent hatred, it is deeply regrettable that the United States should withdraw from the United Nations leading these issues,” she said in a statement, calling it a “loss for multilateralism.”

The withdrawal marks another decision by the Trump administration to distance itself from the international community.

“The continued retrenchment of the U.S. administration from active participation in international diplomacy efforts and dialogue is deeply concerning to the scientific community,” said Rush Holt, head of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

UNESCO is perhaps best known for the World Heritage program, which helps maintain major cultural sites around the globe. But it runs a wide range of international programs. It trains Afghan police officers how to read and write, and is the only U.N. agency that has a program to teach the history of the Holocaust.

The withdrawal decision comes as UNESCO members are voting on a replacement for Bokova. Qatar’s Hamad bin Abdulaziz al-Kawari is leading France’s Audrey Azoulay and Egyptian hopeful Moushira Khattab in the first voting rounds. Israeli officials and American Jewish groups have expressed concerns about Kawari for what they have said is a record of fostering anti-Semitism.

UNESCO was established to help promote global cooperation around the flow of ideas, culture and information. UNESCO’s mission includes programs to improve access to education, preserve cultural heritage, improve gender equality and promote scientific advances and freedom of expression.

After the 1984 withdrawal, for what was described as pro-Soviet Union bias, the U.S. didn’t rejoin until 2002 when the George W. Bush administration said it wanted to emphasize a message of international cooperation. “America will participate fully in its mission to advance human rights, tolerance and learning,” Bush said at the time.

Tensions have returned in recent years. Israel recalled its ambassador to the Paris-based organization last year after some governments supported a resolution that denounced Israel’s policies on religious sites in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Bokova said the partnership between the United States and UNESCO “has never been so meaningful,” despite the withholding of U.S. funding.

“Together, we have worked to protect humanity’s shared cultural heritage in the face of terrorist attacks and to prevent violent extremism through education and media literacy,” she said.

She added: “The American poet, diplomat and Librarian of Congress, Archibald MacLeish, penned the lines that open UNESCO’s 1945 Constitution: ‘Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed.’ This vision has never been more relevant.”

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  1. Palestine Joins Interpol ____

 

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  1. . INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS __________

 UNSC Reform________________________The Security Council’s membership and working methods reflect a bygone era.  Though geopolitics have changed drastically, the Council has changed relatively little since 1945, when wartime victors crafted a Charter in their interest and awarded “permanent” veto-wielding Council seats for themselves.

Since 1993, the UN General Assembly has hotly debated Council reform but has not been able to reach agreement.  A handful of states aspire to “permanent” status for themselves, while many other countries reject such claims. This site posts information and documents about the reform process, including analysis of the state-of-play and statements by nations and negotiating blocs.  In the background section, we have posted GPF’s own policy paper on the problems, dynamics and options for truly Democratic Reform of the Security Council in additional to more general information about Security Council reform.

To enrich the current information, we offer a large archive on reform discussions in previous years.  These materials are divided into four sections. The Membership section looks at the addition of both permanent members and elected members.  Such changes require amendments to the UN Charter, a lengthy and onerous process. The section on Working Methods considers the procedures of the Council and the way it conducts its work.  Unlike membership changes, these reforms do not require Charter change and the Council itself can implement them. The section on the Veto looks closely at this key issue and whether it could (and should) be eliminated or curtailed. The Regional Representation section examines the arguments for and against supranational organizations, like the EU, as potential candidates for Council membership.

There are many general documents, articles and statements throughout the respective pages. Documents produced by the UN can be found on the UN Documents page and include the documents, reports, draft resolutions and official statements from the Council reform process.

The reform of the Council is part of the broader issue of UN Reform, to build a more effective and democratic global institution.  This includes the reform of other bodies like the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council, as well as improvement in the organization’s management and finance.

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10. Belt and Road Initiative __The $900bn question: What is the Belt and Road initiative?

It’s a confusing title but it could turn out to be the largest ever infrastructure project with close to a trillion dollars being invested across the globe

China is leading the effort to create the world’s largest economic platform.

More than 2,000 years ago, China’s imperial envoy Zhang Qian helped to establish the Silk Road, a network of trade routes that linked China to Central Asia and the Arab world. The name came from one of China’s most important exports—silk. And the road itself influenced the development of the entire region for hundreds of years.

In 2013, China’s president, Xi Jinping, proposed establishing a modern equivalent, creating a network of railways, roads, pipelines, and utility grids that would link China and Central Asia, West Asia, and parts of South Asia. This initiative, One Belt and One Road (OBOR), comprises more than physical connections. It aims to create the world’s largest platform for economic cooperation, including policy coordination, trade and financing collaboration, and social and cultural cooperation. Through open discussion, OBOR can create benefits for everyone.

The State Council authorized an OBOR action plan in 2015 with two main components: the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road (exhibit). The Silk Road Economic Belt is envisioned as three routes connecting China to Europe (via Central Asia), the Persian Gulf, the Mediterranean (through West Asia), and the Indian Ocean (via South Asia). The 21st Century Maritime Silk Road is planned to create connections among regional waterways. More than 60 countries, with a combined GDP of $21 trillion, have expressed interest in participating in the OBOR action plan.

 

The effort has already made some practical achievements. China has signed bilateral cooperation agreements related to the project with Hungary, Mongolia, Russia, Tajikistan, and Turkey. A number of projects are under way, including a train connection between eastern China and Iran that may be expanded to Europe. There are also new rail links with Laos and Thailand and high-speed-rail projects in Indonesia. China’s Ningbo Shipping Exchange is collaborating with the Baltic Exchange on a container index of rates between China and the Middle East, the Mediterranean, and Europe. More than 200 enterprises have signed cooperation agreements for projects along OBOR’s routes.

In 2014, China established the $40 billion Silk Road Fund to finance these initiatives, and it has made investments in several key projects. These projects are just the start as OBOR enters a new stage of more detailed and comprehensive development. This work will see the development of six major economic corridors, including the New Eurasian Land Bridge, China–Mongolia–Russia, China–Central Asia–Western Asia, Indo-China Peninsula, China–Pakistan, and Bangladesh–China–India–Myanmar. These corridors will be the sites of energy and industrial clusters and will be created through the use of rail, roads, waterways, air, pipelines, and information highways. By both connecting and enhancing the productivity of countries along the new Silk Road, China hopes the benefits of cooperation can be shared and that the circle of friendship will be strengthened and expanded.

China seeks to take the interests of all parties into account so as to generate mutual benefits, including environmental management and closer cultural exchanges. We wish to give full play to the comparative advantages of each country and promote all-around practical cooperation.

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11. ASEAN ______ASEAN | ONE VISION ONE IDENTITY ONE COMMUNITY

 

ASEAN  one vision one identity and one community

 

Asean leaders on Republic Day guest list as India pushes its Act East policy

The parade on Republic Day is expected to feature an Asean-India tableau, with artistes from member countries performing the Ramayan

Quadrilateral Meeting _______________Ahead of the Quadrilateral meeting, PM Modi must be cautious about bringing big powers into South Asia

By accepting an invitation to join the Japan-proposed, U.S.-endorsed plan for a “Quadrilateral” grouping including Australia to provide alternative debt financing for countries in the Indo-Pacific, India has taken a significant turn in its policy for the subcontinent. Explaining the need to invite other countries into what India has always fiercely guarded as its own turf, Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar was remarkably candid. “Our neighbours also feel more secure if there is another party in the room,” he said recently, giving examples of working with the U.S. on transmission lines in Nepal or with Japan on a liquefied natural gas pipeline in Sri Lanka. His words contain a tacit admission: that having India in the room is no longer comforting enough for our neighbours.

The Quad pivot?

As Prime Minister Narendra Modi heads to the East Asia summit in the Philippines next week, where the first ‘Quad’ meeting is likely to be held, it is necessary that India analyse the impact of this admission on all our relations. It would also serve as a useful exercise to understand why India has conceded it requires “other parties” in the neighbourhood, even as it seeks to counter the influence of China and its Belt and Road Initiative.

One reason is that as a growing economy with ambitious domestic targets, India’s own needs often clash with those of its neighbours. More connectivity will eventually mean more competition, whether it is for trade, water resources, or energy. Take, for example, the case of Bhutan, which is working, with India’s assistance, on its own goal of producing 10,000 MW of hydropower by 2020.

Even as Indian and Chinese troops were facing off at Doklam on land claimed by Bhutan, a very different sort of tension was claiming the attention of the government in Thimphu. The first indicator came on May 8, when in his budget speech at the National Assembly, the Bhutanese Finance Minister warned that the external debt is about 110% of GDP, of which a staggering 80.1% of GDP (or 155 billion Nu, or $2.34 billion) is made up by hydropower debt mainly to India. In April, the International Monetary Fund’s world economic outlook had already put Bhutan at the top of South Asia in terms of the highest debt per capita, second only to Japan in all of Asia for indebtedness. The budget figures attracted much criticism for the Bhutanese government, and opposition taunts that Bhutan could become the “Greece of South Asia” forced Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay to appoint a three-member committee. In a government order he said that said the negative media, public perception and “absence of strategy” could even affect the “larger and more important relationship between Bhutan and India.”

Among the committee’s findings were that Bhutan’s external hydropower debt financed by India at 9-10% rates was piling up, with the first interest and principal payments expected in 2018, and construction delays, mainly due to Indian construction issues, were taking the debt up higher. Above all, despite several pleas to the Ministries of External Affairs and Power, the Cross Border Trade of Electricity (CBTE) guidelines issued by India had not been revised, which put severe restrictions on Bhutanese companies selling power, and on allowing them access to the power exchange with Bangladesh.

In the Power Ministry’s reckoning, relations with Bhutan took a backseat to the fact that India already has a power surplus, and its new renewable energy targets come from solar and wind energy, not hydropower. Moreover, given falling prices for energy all around, India could not sustain the Bhutanese demand that power tariffs be revised upwards. Eventually, it wasn’t until early October that Mr. Jaishankar visited Thimphu and subsequently the visit last week of King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck began to address the problem that has been brewing for more than a year.

History of forgetting

Another problem is what one diplomat in the region calls ‘India’s big game hunting attitude’: “India chases its neighbours to cooperate on various projects and courts us assiduously, but once they have ‘bagged the game’, it forgets about us. As a result, crises grow until they can no longer be ignored, and the hunt begins again.” Over the past decade, since the defeat of the LTTE, India passed up offers to build the port in Hambantota, Colombo, and Kankesanthurai, despite Sri Lanka’s pressing need for infrastructure. At the time, given India’s crucial support in defeating the LTTE, Sri Lanka was considered “in the bag”. With the U.S. and other Western countries also taking strident positions over human rights issues and the reconciliation process, Chinese companies stepped in and won these projects, for which Sri Lanka recklessly took loans from China’s Exim bank.

New Delhi has changed its position on Hambantota several times, going from initial apathy, to disapproval of the Chinese interest, to scoffing at the viability of the project, to open alarm at the possibility of any Chinese PLA-Navy installation in Sri Lanka’s southern tip. Finally this year, upturning everything it has said, the government decided to bid for the Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport at Hambantota, a $205 million investment for the empty facility that sees an average of two flights a day. Even as a ‘listening post’, it is an expensive proposition, with some officials now suggesting a flight training school at Mattala to defray the cost. India is also hoping to win the bid to develop Trincomalee port with several projects. Clearly India is moving in now to build a counter to China in the neighbourhood, but it may be too little, too late and a little too expensive.

India has also been ambivalent on tackling political issues in its region, often trapped between the more interventionist approach of the U.S., which has openly championed concerns over ‘democratic values’ and human rights in Sri Lanka, Maldives and Bangladesh, and the approach of China, which is to turn a blind eye to all but business and strategic interests. In Nepal, India lost out to China when it allowed a five-month-long blockade at the border, calling for a more inclusive constitution to be implemented by Kathmandu — but in the case of Myanmar, it lost precious ground in Bangladesh when Mr. Modi refused to mention the Rohingya refugee situation during a visit to Nay Pyi Taw. In both cases, India reversed its stand, adding to the sense that it is unsure of its next steps when dealing with neighbours on political issues.

Multiple rivalries

Finally, it is important to note that while the government’s new plan to involve the U.S. and Japan in development projects in South Asia will yield the necessary finances, it will come at the cost of India’s leverage in its own backyard. India’s counter to China’s persistent demand for a diplomatic mission in Thimphu, for example, could be to help the U.S. set up a parallel mission there — but once those floodgates open, they will be hard to shut.

In Sri Lanka, the U.S. and Japan will now partner in India’s efforts to counter China’s influence, but whereas India objected to Chinese naval presence in the Indian Ocean, it will not be able to object to an increase in U.S. naval warships and Japanese presence there. Writing about Myanmar in a new book, India Turns East: International Engagement and US-China Rivalry, the former French diplomat Frédéric Grare says the emergence of new players like the U.S., Europe and Japan has only increased multiple regional rivalries in the region.“This does partly benefit India, who is no longer isolated vis-à-vis Beijing,” he concludes. “But New Delhi’s political profile has consequently diminished.”

Mr. Modi, who began his pitch for his “neighbourhood first” plan by inviting the neighbours to his swearing-in ceremony in 2014, must look before he leaps while inviting other powers, howsoever well-meaning, into the neighbourhood.

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  1. India-Sri Lanka_______________________

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13.Indian Jugde Re-elected at ICJ _________

The Prime Minister congratulated Justice Dalveer Bhandari in tweets and Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj and her team for “their untiring efforts that have led to India’s re-election to the ICJ,” also thanking members of the two UN chambers for their support. “Vande Matram – India wins election to the International Court of Justice. Jai Hind (sic),” Ms Swaraj tweeted.

  1. One-third of the ICJ’s 15-member bench, or five judges, is elected every three years for a nine-year term. Elections are held separately but simultaneously in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and the UN Security Council in New York. To win, a candidate needs to get a majority in both chambers.
  2. This is the first time since the ICJ, based in The Hague, Netherlands, was established in 1945 that there will be no British judge. “It is wrong to continue to take up the valuable time of the Security Council and the UN General Assembly with further rounds of election,” Britain’s Ambassador to the UN Matthew Rycroft said as he announced that Justice Greenwood was pulling out.
  3. Once the British candidate withdrew, both the UNGA and the security council formally voted to elect Justice Dalveer Bhandari, a former Supreme Court judge. He received 183 out of 193 votes in the General Assembly and all the 15 votes in the Security Council.
  4. Syed Akbaruddin, Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations, described Justice Dalveer Bhandari’s re-election as a “victory for emerging new India,” and an “acknowledgement that the world now needs to make space for an asserting India.”
  5. He told NDTV that huge diplomatic effort was made by the political leadership in India, with Ms Swaraj calling several world leaders. “There was a crucial meet before the vote. We put forward our view and stuck to it. It was apparent that vote will be in our favour. We are grateful that the UK judge recused and recognised that the Indian judge was doing good in UNGA,” Mr Akbaruddin said.
  6. Mr Rycroft congratulated Justice Dalveer Bhandari on being re-elected, saying, “If the UK could not win in this run-off, then we are pleased that it is a close friend like India that has done so instead. We will continue to cooperate closely with India, here in the United Nations and globally.”
  7. On November 9, the UNGA and Security Council members had elected judges to four of the five seats, with India and Britain competing for the fifth.  Repeatedly over 11 rounds, the UNGA, made up of 193 countries, voted overwhelmingly for  Dalveer Bhandari, while the 15-member Security Council voted 9 to 5 in favour of Britain, which is one of five permanent members of the security council. India is currently not a member.
  8. In all previous such contests, the candidate who got a majority in the General Assembly was eventually elected, but Britain was at one point seen to be pushing for a joint conference mechanism, never resorted to since the UN was established and only once before that.
  9. A joint conference would’ve involved picking three countries each from the the UNGA and the UNSC, which would then choose one candidate. Critics had warned that such a move would be “dirty politics”  and other members of the powerful UN Security Council were reportedly uneasy, aware of the long-term implications of a move to ignore the voice of the majority of the United Nations General Assembly.

 

_14. India-Singapore____________________India and Singapore exchanged documents on bilateral naval cooperation on Wednesday (Nov 29), reflecting deeper defence ties between the two countries amid mutual concerns about protecting critical sea lanes.

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, who is on a three-day visit to India, met with his Indian counterpart Nirmala Sitharaman under the Second Defence Ministers’ Dialogue. They later witnessed the exchange of the documents.

The India-Singapore Bilateral Agreement for Navy Cooperation was finalised during the talks. A joint statement noted that the agreement “will lead to increased cooperation in maritime security, joint exercises, temporary deployments from each other’s naval facilities and mutual logistics support”.

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  1. UN Partnership Fund ________________
    India has pledged an additional USD 100 million towards the UN partnership fund, significantly scaling up it support to sustainable development projects across the developing world.

The India–UN Development Partnership Fund was set up earlier this year as a partnership between India and the United Nations Office for South–South Cooperation (UNOSSC).

Anjani Kumar, Counsellor at the Permanent Mission of India to the UN, announced the multi-year contribution at the 2017 UN Pledging Conference for Development Activities yesterday.

This contribution would be in addition to USD 10.582 million India is contributing to various other UN programmes, Kumar said.

“I am happy to announce that India has now decided to significantly scale up the contribution to the fund through a multiyear contribution of USD 100 million,” Kumar said on behalf of India. “India believes that the UN should have the necessary resources to finance its activities, in an appropriate and balanced manner,” he said.

The first project from the fund is being executed in partnership with seven Pacific Island countries. The fund has since then identified 15 more projects, he noted. “Of the USD 5 million India contributed to the fund this year, USD 2 million would be utilised for reconstruction in Dominica and Antigua and Barbuda, which took a big hit from hurricanes,” he said.

Among major contributions include UNDP (USD 4.5 million), World Food Programme (USD 1.92

 

million Biennium 2017–18), United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Near East (USD 1.25 million), UN Women (USD 1 million) and United Nations Children’s Fund (USD 862, 000).

United Nations Population Fund (USD 5,00,000), United Nations Commission on Human Settlements Programme (USD 1,50,000), United Nations Environment Programme (USD 1,00,000), United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (USD 1,00,000) and Voluntary Fund for Technical Cooperation (USD 2,00,000) will also recieve funding.

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16. Global Conference on Cyber Space ____ Cybersecurity needs to be integrated in every aspect of policy and planning

India is one of the key players in the digital and knowledge-based economy, holding more than a 50% share of the world’s outsourcing market. Pioneering and technology-inspired programmes such as Aadhaar, MyGov, Government e-Market, DigiLocker, Bharat Net, Startup India, Skill India and Smart Cities are propelling India towards technological competence and transformation. India is already the third largest hub for technology-driven startups in the world and its Information and Communications Technology sector is estimated to reach the $225 billion landmark by 2020.

However, these achievements come with a problem: innovation in technology, enhanced connectivity, and increasing integration in commerce and governance also make India the fifth most vulnerable country in the world in terms of cybersecurity breaches, according to the Internal Security Threat Report of 2017 by Symantec. Till June 2017, 27,482 cybersecurity threats had been reported in the country, according to the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team’s report. As this is a 23% increase from 2014 figures, it coincides with rapid growth and innovation in the ICT sector.

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The good news, though, is that India recognises this. The second Global Cybersecurity Index, released by the International Telecommunication Union in July, which measured the commitment of nations to cybersecurity, found that India ranked 23 out of 165 nations.

Types of attacks

Of the cybersecurity attacks, Ransomware attacks have been the most common in the last few years (Ransomware is a type of software that threatens to publish a person’s data or block it unless a ransom is paid). Apart from WannaCry and Petya, other Ransomware attacks that made news globally were Locky, Cerber, Bucbi, SharkRaaS, CryptXXX and SamSam. The success of each of these inspired new attacks. The ransom demands also increased — the average mean ransom demand rose from $294 in 2015 to $1077 in 2016, according to Symantec.

In India, in May 2017, a data breach at the food delivery App, Zomato, led to personal information of about 17 million users being stolen and put for sale on the Darknet. The company had to negotiate with the hacker in order to get it taken down. Similarly, hackers stole data from 57 million Uber riders and drivers. Uber paid the hackers $100,000 to keep the data breach a secret.

While Windows operating systems were the most vulnerable to cyberattacks, a number of Android threats have been reported in the last couple of years, including potent crypto-ransomware attacks on Android devices. The attacks aren’t limited to mobile phones and e-Pads. All devices, including televisions that use Android, are also potentially vulnerable. In 2016, the first known Ransomware, named KeRanger, targeting Mac users was also reported. The Mirai botnet malware affected 2.5 million home router users and other Internet of Things devices. A number of viruses, malware and cryptoworms are also being developed in the JavaScript, which gives the attackers cross-platform options.

Taking action

Given the huge number of online users and continued efforts on affordable access, cybersecurity needs to be integrated in every aspect of policy and planning. At the 15th Asia Pacific Computer Emergency Response Team conference in Delhi, Minister for Electronics and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad highlighted the need for robust cybersecurity policies and frameworks. The government is keen to fund cybersecurity research. It announced that it will award a grant worth 5 crore to startups working on innovations in the field of cybersecurity.

India needs to quickly frame an appropriate and updated cybersecurity policy, create adequate infrastructure, and foster closer collaboration between all those involved to ensure a safe cyberspace. Minister of Communications Manoj Sinha said at the Global Conference on Cyberspace 2017 that there must be enhanced cooperation among nations and reaffirmed a global call to action for all United Nations member nations to not attack the core of the Internet even when in a state of war. This also clearly emphasises the fact that more than ever before, there is a need for a Geneva-like Convention to agree on some high-level recommendations among nations to keep the Internet safe, open, universal and interoperable.

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  1. Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2017_The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given its ex-post facto approval for the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between India and the USA for co-hosting the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) 2017 in India.

The MoU delineated the responsibilities, areas of co-operation including logistics and venue related requirements between the parties for smooth conduct of the Summit, informed ministry on Wednesday in New Delhi.

The GES-2017 provided excellent opportunity to entrepreneurs and investors to have meetings with global industry leaders, networking sessions, pitching competitions, strategic workshops and sector-specific programs for forging new collaborations. The Summit provided a forum to enhance economic opportunities to young entrepreneurs, especially women entrepreneurs and marginalized groups in the long run.

According to statement, the GES-2017 was held during 28-30 November, 2017 in Hyderabad. It was attended by more than 1500 registered delegates from 150 countries in addition to CEOs of MNCs, policy makers and Government officials.

A decision to host the Eighth Edition of the GES in 2017 in India was taken at the meeting between the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and the then US President Barack Obama on 7thJune, 2016 under the Joint Declaration. This was reiterated by the Prime Minister during his visit to the USA from 25-27 June 2017 and he invited Ms. Ivanka Trump, Adviser to the US President to lead the US delegation to the GES in India.

The GES is a pre-eminent forum for emerging entrepreneurs. The Summit provided opportunities for meeting with global industry leaders, networking of international entrepreneurs, innovators, investors. The summit also provided forum for pitching competition, strategic workshops and sector-programmes to help in creating new collaborations amongst entrepreneurs and Investors. The Summit provided for significantly increased economic opportunities for young entrepreneurs, especially, women entrepreneurs and start-ups.

» Govt to form committee to clear stalled port projects
» Govt extends mandatory jute packaging for foodgrains, sugar
» Cabinet gives ex-post facto nod to Indian position at WTO

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18. Islamic Alliance to Fight Terrorism ___

Saudi-led Islamic military alliance: counterterrorism or counter Iran?

A Saudi-formed Islamic counterterrorism alliance raises questions over whether it will work, what it will do and its ultimate goal. It appears to be aimed at Iran as much as at extremists.

Saudi Arabia’s powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Sunday convened the first summit of the Islamic Military Counterterrorism Alliance, with top defense officials from some 40 Muslim countries attending.

Saudi Arabia announced the alliance in December 2015 to fight “terrorism,” singling out the “Islamic State” (IS) as a disease tarnishing the name of Islam.

In opening remarks in Riyadh on Sunday, Prince Mohammed said the alliance would “work together to support the military, financial, intelligence and political efforts of every member state” to battle terrorism and extremist ideology.

“The biggest danger of this terrorism and extremism is the tarnishing of the reputation of our beloved religion. … We will not allow this to happen,” he said.

The alliance initially had 34 members, but now includes 41 countries, according to the Saudi government. It has taken no action so far. From the beginning, it was unclear what the alliance would do or whether it would be able to wield any real power.

Now that IS has been largely defeated in Syria and Iraq, those questions remain, as does the question of the alliance’s goals. The Saudis insist it is a work in progress.

Saudi Arabia leading the fight against extremism?

The United States has long urged Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries to take a more proactive role countering terrorism and extremist ideology.

For the young crown prince, who has consolidated control over the country, the alliance is a way to show himself as the Arab world’s leader at a time when the United States’ leadership in the region is in question.

“This alliance is a clear signal to the Arab-Islamic world that Saudi Arabia still wants to set the main agenda in regional policy and, of course, another instrument of containing Iran,” said Sebastian Sons, an associate fellow at the German Council of Foreign Relations.

Saudi Arabia is a member of the US-led coalition against IS, but its role has been marginal. It has instead become bogged down in a war in Yemen against Houthi rebels it says are backed by Iran. __________The Union Cabinet today approved India’s membership for European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), a move which will help it obtain funding in various areas including services and manufacturing.

Steps will be initiated by the Department of Economic Affairs to acquire the membership, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said after the Cabinet meeting.

The membership will increase the scope of cooperation between India and the multilateral institution through ..
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__20. Boosting Agri-Exports______________

: The government plans to come out with a policy to boost the exports of agricultural produce so that farmers get the best price and double their income by 2022.

“If they (farmers) produce something, they (should) get an access to global market and get better prices for that, and for that we will put in place a good policy framework very soon,” commerce minister Suresh Prabhu said at the 10th Agriculture Leadership Summit 2017 here today.

“We have the right to have access to global markets for our farm produce by removing all trade restrictive practices,” the minister added.

According to experts, the country’s agricultural sector has potential to double farm income and grow exports to $100 billion by 2022 from the present $34 billion.

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 ECONOMY_________________________

 

  1. Recapitalisation Plan for Banking Sector _

Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Urjit Patel said on Wednesday that the recapitalisation package for public sector banks will not only be linked to their capital requirements, but also on their reforms initiatives to ensure the funds are not used to sow the seeds of next “boom and bust cycle of lending”.

The central bank is working with the government to finalise the recapitalisation plan, which Patel termed as the “reform-and-recap package”.

The Department of Financial Services (DFS), a unit of the finance ministry, will soon release the details of the package, he added.

In October, finance minister Arun Jaitley had announced an unprecedented Rs2.11 trillion PSU bank recapitalisation plan to strengthen public sector banks. The plan includes recapitalisation bonds of Rs1.35 trillion.

Patel said the RBI is working with the government on the extent of funding to be raised by state-owned banks, and the amount of recapitalisation bonds to be placed on the banks’ balance sheets as the government’s equity contribution.

“recapitalisation bonds will be front-loaded for banks that have managed their balance sheet’s strength more prudently, and can use injected capital to lend besides providing for legacy asset losses,” Patel said in press briefing post the monetary policy meeting.

For other banks, the capital allocation will be based on their resolve and progress towards reform in a significant and time-bound manner. These include becoming “slim and trim” through simpler and better focussed business strategies, and also possibly the sale of non-core assets, Patel said.

According to analysts, the government will assign larger portion of the recapitalisation package to the stronger banks to push up the credit growth.

“Even as the government has shown its intent to help out banks with strong fundamentals, it is unlikely that it will leave out the weaker banks from the recapitalisation package completely. It is likely the government will assign larger portion of the recapitalisation package to the stronger banks, in order to drive up credit growth which is yet to show a sustainable improvement,” said Karthik Srinivasan, group head of financial sector ratings at Icra Ltd.

Public sector banks need capital to not only meet regulatory capital requirements under the Basel III norms but also for resolving stressed assets, which entails them to set aside funds in the form of provisions, and improve credit growth, according to analysts.

Currently, stressed loans in the banking system have risen over Rs10 trillion, while for October, the year-on year non-food credit growth was 6.6% as against 6.1% in September.

On 29 November, Press Trust of India, quoting officials in the know, had reported that the finance ministry is putting final touches to the recapitalisation bonds package and the DFS, in consultation with the RBI, has submitted proposals to the Department of Economic Affairs, which is working on the final structure.

2.      Ease of Doing Business: World Bank _____

·         From hunger to competitiveness: Where India ranked on key social, economic indices in 2017

·         On a majority of these indices, the country seems to have performed well, including the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings in which India leapfrogged 30 positions.

·         The Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) is a platform for programmes and initiatives to help new firms start and scale while working to create a global entrepreneurial ecosystem

Over the last 12 months, there has been a lot of talk, both in India and abroad, of how much progress the country has made. The base for most of this talk was India’s performance on the various global indices that measure a country’s standing on social and economic fronts.

On a majority of these indices, the country seems to have performed well, including the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings in which India leapfrogged 30 positions. That being said, it still has a long way to cover on some of the other indices.

Here’s a list of India’s performance in some of the major performance indices:

In the World Bank’s Ease of doing business rankings for 2018, India jumped 30 spots from its place last year and moved into the top 100 as the government came out with a slew of economic reforms.

India is also one of the 10 economies that improved the most in the areas measured by the World Bank, which ranks countries on business-friendliness, procedural ease, regulatory architecture and others.

> Global Entrepreneurship Index

India moved up one place to the 68th spot on the 2018 Global Entrepreneurship Index (GEI). The index featured 137 countries in all and the United States was ranked first on it.

The Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) is a platform for programmes and initiatives to help new firms start and scale while working to create a global entrepreneurial ecosystem. It ranks each country based on the GEI score, which indicates overall entrepreneurship attitude and potential.

> Human Development Index

While having performed decently on most of the financial indices, India’s performance on the Human Development Index wasn’t bad either, considering it improved its ranking by four spots.

The country is currently ranked 131 out of 188 countries on the HDI, thereby being classified in the ‘medium’ category, which is a significant improvement from the ‘low’ category India featured in back in the 1990s.

According to the HDI report, released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), improvement in India’s ranking shows the progress made by the nation in terms of life expectancy and mean years of schooling over the last two and a half decades.

The report estimates India’s life expectancy at birth at 68.3 years, whereas mean schooling years stood at 6.3 years.

The HDI, devised and launched in 1990, is an index that ranks countries based on four metrics pertaining to human development — life expectancy, expected years of schooling, mean years of schooling, and per capita income.

A country requires high scores in all the three broad indices — life expectancy, education and income — to score a higher HDI.

> Global Competitiveness Index

In 2017, India slipped one place from last year’s rankings to be ranked the 40th most competitive economy on the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index (GCI). The index was topped by Switzerland.

The Global Competitiveness Report, which ranks 137 economies across the world, stated that India’s score had improved across most pillars of competitiveness and the slip indicated that the Indian economy was stabilising from the big leap it took in the previous two years.

The GCI is prepared on the basis of national-level data from each country, covering 12 categories or pillars of competitiveness including institutions, infrastructure, macroeconomic environment, health and primary education, higher education and training, goods market efficiency, labour market efficiency, financial market development, technological readiness, market size, business sophistication and innovation.

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  1. Global Hunger Index

On the Global Hunger Index, India slipped three spots to rank 100 out of 119 countries, indicating a “serious” hunger problem, according to the 2017 International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) report.

According to the report, the country’s serious hunger level is driven by high levels of child malnutrition and underlines the need for stronger commitment to the social sector. However, even before the report came out, the Indian government had already launched the ‘undernourishment free India’ by 2022 campaign with a view of fighting malnutrition.

The plan shows stronger commitment and greater investments towards tackling malnutrition in the coming years, PK Joshi, IFPRI Director for South Asia, had said.

> Income Inequality

A number of studies were conducted in 2017 on income inequality across the globe, in which India recorded high levels of inequality with 55 percent of the country’s income being earned by only 10 percent of the population, according to the 2018 World Inequality report.

The report said that income inequality in the country had grown rapidly since the 1980s. In 1982, the share of the top one percent of our population in our national income was just 6.1 percent, but by 2013, this figure had increased to 21.7 percent.

Another study conducted by the World Inequality Lab stated that income inequality in India had reached historically high levels with the top 0.1 percent of the country’s earners increasing their total wealth by more than everyone in the bottom 50 percent combined.

The study also revealed that economic inequality is widespread in the country and has been growing substantially since the 1980s.

Renowned economists Lucas Chancel and Thomas Piketty have also claimed that India is currently seeing its highest income inequality since 1922 – the year the Income Tax Act was passed.

In their report titled, “Indian income inequality, 1922-2014, from British Raj to Billionaire Raj?”, they state that the top 1 percent of income earners contribute 22 percent of the total economy’s income as against the only 6 percent in the early 1980s period.

Income inequality is defined as the tax amount being paid by the top 1 percent of the highest income earners, or ‘billionaires’.

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4.National e-Governance Services Ltd (NeSL)

 

21 3.3. Information Utility ___________________ Last month, National e-Governance Services Ltd (NeSL) became India’s first information utility (IU) for bankruptcy cases under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code 2016. NeSL is owned by State Bank of India and Life Insurance Corporation Ltd., among others. Recently, the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) eased ownership norms for setting up such utilities.

What is an information utility?

Information utility is an information network which would store financial data like borrowings, default and security interests among others of firms. The utility would specialise in procuring, maintaining and providing/supplying financial information to businesses, financial institutions, adjudicating authority, insolvency professionals and other relevant stake holders.

Why is it important? How useful is it?

The objective behind information utilities is to provide high-quality, authenticated information about debts and defaults, as per the report of the Working Group on Information Utility published by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs. Information utilities are expected to play a key role as they allow storage of financial information of registered users and expeditiously process and verify information received. Moreover, the database and records maintained by them would help lenders in taking informed decisions about credit transactions. It would also make debtors cautious as credit information is available with the utility. More importantly, information available with the utility can be used as evidence in bankruptcy cases before the National Company Law Tribunal.

What are the rules governing these utilities?

Information utilities are governed by the Insolvency and Bankruptcy code 2016 and IBBI (Information Utilities) Regulations 2017. The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) overseas aspects such as registration and cancellation of these entities, their shareholding and governance among others. Recently, IBBI eased norms for information utilities, allowing Indian firms listed on stock exchanges to hold 100% in such firms. It also allowed individuals to hold 51% in the utility for a period of three years.

How will the utilities help stakeholders in the insolvency process?

Corporate lawyer Anant Merathia explains: Financial creditors (banks which provide loans to the company): It is mandatory for financial creditors to provide financial information to the information utility. When they initiate insolvency proceedings against the defaulting firm (known as corporate debtor), the utilities may help as they would act as a centralised platform for accessing data.

Operational Creditor (Suppliers of goods and services to the firm in question): Unlike financial creditors, it is optional for the operational creditor to provide financial information to the utility. While the idea behind information utility is to have a financial data repository, it has to be seen to what extent firms provide data with regard to dues owed to operational creditors and how the utility is going to help the operational creditors during insolvency process.

What are the key challenges for these utilities?

While the onus is on financial creditors, operational creditors and corporate debtors to provide the required information, procuring authentic information might be a challenge due to the sensitivity involved. There may also, be resistance in sharing information. Since it is a digital database, there is the risk of exposure to data piracy and data theft.

 

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  1. 6. SEBI Panel on Corporate Governance ____

A Securities and Exchange board of India (Sebi)-appointed panel has proposed more powers for independent directors, limiting chairmanship to non-executive directors, and called for a greater focus on transparency and disclosures to improve corporate governance.

The panel submitted its report on Thursday. The capital markets regulator will take a call on implementation, and has invited public comments till 4 November. The recommendations span areas such as the composition of the board, the make-up of board committees, treatment of subsidiaries, information sharing with promoters and related-party transactions, audit evaluations, and conduct of annual general meetings.

Click here for enlarge

For instance, the panel recommended that a listed company should have at least six directors on its board. Current Sebi regulations do not mandate a minimum number. The panel has suggested at least one independent director be a woman.

It also proposed that directors attend at least half the total board meetings held in a financial year. If they fail to do so, they would require shareholders’ nod for continuing.

Companies have asked to make public the relevant skills of directors, and the age of non-executive directors has been capped at 75 years.

In addition, the chairperson of a listed company will be a non-executive director to ensure that s/he is independent of the management.

An independent director cannot be in more than eight listed companies and a managing director can hold the post of an independent director in only three listed companies.

“The committee is wide ranging and has covered issues pertaining to independent directors, auditors, and information flow to improve governance in listed companies. In the current scenario, the information was flowing through informal channels and in a regulatory vacuum. The committee has proposed formal information channels under regulatory purview,” said Cyril Shroff, managing partner of Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas, and a panel member.

Currently, boards are required to meet every quarter to discuss the financials of the company. The committee has proposed to increase the number of meetings to five a year.

The fifth meeting will discuss, among other things, whether the company has a succession plan in place, an issue that cropped up after the recent boardroom battles at the Tata group and Infosys Ltd.

Other issues to would be discussed in the proposed fifth meeting include adherence to governance standards, board evaluation and strategies for the company. Every board meeting would require the presence of an independent director.

The committee has recommended that the number of independent directors on a company board be increased from 33% to 50%.

The minimum sitting fees of independent directors has been halved from the current Rs1 lakh per meeting as stipulated by the Companies Act 2013 to Rs50,000 for the top 100 companies by market capitalization.

Detailed reasons would need to be furnished when an independent director resigns. This is to ensure that they remain independent of the company management.

“The committee has addressed the issues around independent directors and has specified a proper mechanism for sharing information between promoters and the company as not all sharing of information is illegitimate,” said S. Raman, a former whole time member of Sebi.

An audit committee is being proposed with the mandate to look into utilization of funds infused by a listed entity into unlisted subsidiaries, including foreign subsidiaries in cases where the total investment is at least Rs100 crore or 10% of the asset size of the subsidiary.

The committee has also recommended that Sebi should have clear powers to act against auditors under the securities law.

For government companies, the committee has recommended that the board have final say on the appointment of independent directors and not the nodal ministry.

The panel has also proposed to tweak the definition of a “material” subsidiary to one whose net worth or income exceeds 10% (currently 20%) of the consolidated income, or net worth of the listed entity. This has been done to improve disclosure, since only the activities of material subsidiaries are disclosed to shareholders.

“Implementation of this report will require fundamental changes on multiple fronts. Companies will now have to engage more proactively, as well as closely with their independent directors,” said Neeraj Gupta, partner and leader (Risk Assurance Services), PwC India.

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  1. 7. State of Commodity Dependency 2016: UNCTAD______________ Without policy change, commodity-dependent developing countries risk falling short of achieving their sustainabledevelopment goals (SDGs) by 2030, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development(Unctad) economic affairs officer Stefan Csordas warned on Monday.

Unctad and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations have produced their third report in a series of biennial reports on themes and issues relevant to commodity dependent countries, with this year’s Commodities and Development Report 2017 focusing on the various linkages between the international commodity markets and economic growth and development. (Also watch attached Creamer Media video).

 

Speaking at the Industrial Development Corporation’s corporate office in Sandton, Csordas outlined how virtually all the countries of Africa were more than 60% dependent on primary commodities and that commodity dependence was on the increase worldwide.

He highlighted how volatility on international commodity markets unsettled growth and how price collapse created far-reaching growth and development disruption.

 

 

While at the macro level the fall of government revenues undermined fiscal balance and threatened the continuity of public developmental programmes, at the micro level the drop in the purchasing power of the most vulnerable segments of the population threatened their food security.

“It seems that commodity prices are not going to be increasing by much by 2030. The only exception is crude oil,” Csordas

Against the backdrop of commodity prices remaining relatively low, it was critically important for commodity countries to mitigate the risks associated with commodity dependence.

Among the many case studies on how countries have used or abused their resources is the stark contrast of the way Botswana made its diamond industry drive development and how Sierra Leone did the exact the opposite – and also how inequality increased in Zambia despite copper prices hitting their highest-ever levels.

Csordas emphasised the importance of inclusive growth and pointed to the example of Zambia’s copper boom doing nothing to reduce inequality and poverty.

It was absolutely essential for commodity countries to have resilient economies, which meant saving during commodity price windfalls and using that money to maintain development programmes throughout the periods of low commodity jolts.

It was also essential for economies to diversify horizontally and vertically, add value, expand linkages between the commodity sector and the national economy and invest in social protection, health and education.

As for good governance, that is a basic prerequisite for any country wanting the private sector investment.

Ultimately, the Unctad report said, structural transformation could come about through the successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda of Sustainable Development, of which the SDGs are the core.

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8. Edible Oil Import Govt raises import tax on edible oils to highest in a decade

Govt raises import tax on crude palm oil to 30%, while the duty on refined palm oil has been raised to 40% from 25% earlier as it tries to support local farmers

 

India has raised import tax on edible oil to the highest level in more than a decade, the government said in an order, as the world’s biggest importer of edible oils tries to support its farmers.

The duty increase will lift oilseed prices and their availability for crushing in the domestic market, helping the country in capping edible oil imports in the 2017/18 marketing year, which started on 1 November.

India doubled the import tax on crude palm oil to 30%, while the duty on refined palm oil has been raised to 40% from 25% earlier, the government said in its order, issued late on Friday.

The import tax on crude soyoil was increased to 30% from 17.5%, while on refined soyoil it was raised to 35% from 20%, it said.

Reuters exclusively reported about a government duty increase proposal this month.

Indian oilseed crushers were struggling to compete with cheap imports from Indonesia, Malaysia, Brazil and Argentina, reducing demand for local rapeseed and soybeans, even after steep fall in oilseed prices.

The second increase in import tax in less than three months will push up domestic edible oil prices and support prices of local oilseeds like soybean and rapeseed, said B.V. Mehta, executive director of the Solvent Extractors’ Association (SEA), a Mumbai-based trade body.

Soybean and rapeseed prices have been trading below the government-set price level in physical market, angering farmers.

India relies on imports for 70% of its edible oil consumption, up from 44% in 2001/02.

Even after the duty increase, India will need to import about 15.5 million tonnes of edible oils in 2017/18, down from earlier estimate of 15.9 million tonnes, but higher than last year’s 15 million tonnes, said Sandeep Bajoria, chief executive of the Sunvin group, a vegetable oil importer.

“The duty hike will have marginal impact on imports. India has to import due to huge demand,” Bajoria said.

The government also raised import duty on soybeans, canola oil and sunflower oil

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9. Boosting Silk Production — To increase silk production Govt has pumped Rs 690 crore: CSB

To counter China s growing silk production, the Government of India has pumped in Rs 690 crore in 24 districts in the North East region, Central Silk Board (CSB) chairman K M Hanumantharayappa said today.

“Under North East Region Textile Promotion Scheme (NERTPS), 24 projects worth Rs 690 crore is being implemented in NE states and of these, six are in Assam, one in Sikkim, two each in Meghalaya and Manipur and the rest in other states,” Hanumantharayappa told on his one day visit to the state.

He said the scheme is being implemented under two broad categories – the Integrated Sericulture Development Project (ISDP) and the Intensive Bivoltine Sericulture Development Project [IBSDP] covering Mulberry, Eri and Muga.

The scheme is aimed at a holistic development of sericulture in all its spheres from plantation development to production of fabrics with value addition at every stage of production chain.

“All four commercially exploited varieties of silk mulberry, muga, eri and tasar are produced in the North-east and this region contributes about 21 per cent of the total silk production in the country,” he said.

The Silk Board chairman also informed that the government has big plans as far as promotion of silk farming is concerned to meet the domestic demand and also at the same time to counter China s Silk production.

He also lauded the eri production which has reached 3,600 tonne in 2016-17 even as muga production was 141 tonne and production of mulberry silk stood at 45 tonne this year.

In Meghalaya, the Centre has funded a pilot mulberry project for three years worth Rs 29 crore at Thadlaskein in West Jaintia Hills district and also at the government farm at Laban.

The mulberry farms in Meghalaya are almost a 100 year old, first set up by the British in 1925 but their growth story after Independence is negligible and is a dying art at present.

Taking a cue from what the British did, the Centre has identified three districts in Meghalaya and an intensive awareness campaign will be launched to help draw back silkworm farmers to the trade.

“Before we started silk board, British had identified Shillong as a centre for rearing silkworms. We are implementing a Rs 29 crore 3 year n-to-n project in Mulbery production wherein nursery, land development, plantation, rearing tools, rearing house, irrigation for plantation, cocoon, product development, marketing and training for farmers,” he said.

The Integrated project for Eri, Mulbery and Muga is in West Jaintia Hills district, Williamnagar in East Garo Hills and Trikkikilla in West Garo Hills district, the Central Silk Board, chairman added. JOP RG KKB

 

 

  1. Bharatmala Project _________________

Modi govt approves mega Rs 7-lakh crore project to develop 83,000 km highways in 5 years
The government on Tuesday approved the biggest highway construction plan so far in the country, to develop approximately 83,677 km of roads at an investment of Rs 6.92 lakh crore by 2022. The highway construction programme is aimed at pushing economic activity and generating at least 14.2 crore man-days across the country over the next five years.

The programme includes the Bharatmala scheme, under which 34,800 km of highways would be constructed at the cost of Rs 5.35 lakh crore ..
 

 

11.  Hydropower Generation in India Challenges and Prospects ______________

12.  Hydro Power Potential of Northeast India and it’s Development

13.  China’s Water Diversion Is Not Responsible For Brahmaputra River

14. Kashmir: Pakistan and India race for Himalayan hydro power

 

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15.

SRISTI — SRISTI is a developmental voluntary organization aiming to  strengthen the creativity of/at/for grassroots communities ,including individual innovators. It supports eco-friendly solutions to local problems being scouted, spawned and spread by the Honey Bee Network for over 26 years. It also nurtures ecopreneurs engaged in conserving biodiversity, common property resources, cultural diversity and educational innovators. There are five pillars of Honey Bee Network which SRISTI is committed to backstop: Educational innovations by school and college teachers, students and other stakeholders; institutional innovations at community and other levels in managing resources, improving access of knowledge  rich-economically poor people to trigger self reliant development process; cultural creativity so that curiosity, collaboration, and compassion growth through art, literature and crafts etc., Technological innovations and traditional knowledge dealing with  human, animal, plant and ecosystem health, and policy reforms to generate frugal innovations for sustainable development at all levels, with specific reference to youth, children, women and elderly. You may read about various activities and social movement pursued to empower the creative and compassionate people, get involved in the movement, download honey Bee newsletter,  research papers and be a Bee, volunteer, contribute, and own up the only sky we have to share.

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  1. Ro-Ro Ferry Service Launched

‎Ro-Ro ferry is a small part of Sagarmala project of Central Government that aims to promote port-led development in the country harnessing India’s 7,500-km long coastline, 14,500-km of potentially navigable waterways and strategic location on key international maritime trade routes…

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  1. Sampoorna Bima Gram Yojana _Rural people to get affordable life insurance services-Manoj Sinha 

The Minister for Communications Shri Manoj Sinha today launched the Sampoorna Bima Gram (SBG) Yojana and an initiative for expansion of clientele base of Postal Life Insurance.  Talking to media after launching the schemes here, the Minister said that the vision of the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi to provide banking services through the postal network needs to be taken forward to provide affordable life insurance services to people living in rural areas of the country. He said that all villages under the Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana will be brought under its ambit.

The Minister said, under Sampoorna Bima Gram (SBG) Yojana, at least one village (having a minimum of 100 households) will be identified in each of the revenue districts of the country, wherein endeavour will be made to cover all households of that identified village with a minimum of one RPLI (Rural Postal Life Insurance) policy each.  Coverage of all households in the identified Sampoorna Bima Gram village is the primary objective of this scheme.

Shri Sinha said, under the scheme expansion of clientele base of PLI, it has now been decided that benefits of PLI will no more be confined to Government and semi-Government employees, but will also be available to professionals such as Doctors, Engineers, Management Consultants, Charted Accountants, Architects, Lawyers, Bankers etc. and to employees of listed companies of NSE (National Stock Exchange) and BSE (Bombay Stock Exchange).  The decision has been taken to enlarge the cover of social security and bring maximum number of people under the protection of Postal Life Insurance (PLI). He said that the postal policies have low premium and high bonus, unlike the Private ones.

The Minister added that the Government is committed to the cause of complete wellbeing of citizens of this country.  Expansion of clientele base of Postal Life Insurance (PLI) and ensuring coverage of Rural Postal Life Insurance (RPLI) to all households of Sampoorna Bima Gram villages in each district of the country is a step in that direction. These two major initiatives being undertaken by Department of Posts will serve as an instrument of securing lives of people as well as enhancing financial inclusion.

Postal Life Insurance (PLI), introduced in 1884, is one of the oldest life insurance schemes for benefit of Government and semi-Government employees.  Rural Postal Life Insurance (RPLI), introduced on March 24, 1995 on recommendations of Malhotra Committee, provides insurance cover to people residing in rural areas, especially weaker sections and women living in rural areas. Low Premium and High Bonus is the unique feature of PLI and RPLI schemes.  As on March 31, 2017, there were 46.8 lakh PLI and 146.8 lakh RPLI policies across the country.

The insurance industry in India has undergone transformational changes after liberalisation of the insurance sector in the year 2000, subsequent to setting up of the insurance regulator Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI).  In such a competitive scenario, it is felt that there is an urgent need for Postal Life Insurance (PLI) / Rural Postal Life Insurance (RPLI) to redefine itself.

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  1. Panel on Market Infrastructure Institutions — Regulator Sebitoday reorganised its committee on market infrastructure institutions that advises it on reviewing norms pertaining to stock exchanges, clearing corporations and depository participants.

The five member committee is chaired by R Gandhi, former Deputy Governor at Reserve Bank of India (RBI), according to latest update with Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi).

Other members are UTI AMC Managing Director Leo Puri; Gopal Naik, Dean, faculty at Indian Institute of Management Bangalore; G Anantharaman, former whole time member Sebi; and S Ravindran executive director at Sebi.

One of the major terms of reference of this committee is overall assessment of the existing MIIs’ framework and identify areas for review in the SECC (Stock Exchanges and Clearing Corporations) norms and depository participants regulations.

The committee is mandated to review regulations pertaining to Market Infrastructure Institutions (MIIs) and identify areas for continuous improvement of systems, procedures and practices and make recommendations thereof.

The panel would also be responsible for addressing suggestions received from public under the consultation process.

The board of Sebi in December 2009 had constituted a committee under the Chairmanship of Bimal Jalan, former RBI Governor, to examine issues arising from the ownership and governance of market infrastructure institutions.

Earlier in February this year, Sebi had issued a consultation paper to review the norms governing stock exchanges, clearing corporations and depositories in view of changing market dynamics. It had sought comments from public till March 31 in this regard. SP SBT

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19.. Bharat Net Project __________________ The government will on Monday start its second and final phase of BharatNet project with an outlay of around Rs 34,000 crore to provide high-speed broadband in all panchayats by March 2019, telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan said on Sunday.

Under the project, the government aims to connect 1.5 lakh panchayats through 10 lakh kilometres of additional optical fibre and give bandwidth to telecom players at nearly 75% cheaper price for broadband and Wi-Fi services in rural areas.

“We will tomorrow (Monday) launch phase 2 of BharatNet to connect 1.5 lakh gram panchayats with high-speed broadband by March 2019. Phase 1 of the project, under which 1 lakh GPs were to be connected, will be completed by the end of this year. We expect telecom operators to provide at least 2 megabit per second speed to rural households,” Sundararajan said.

Telecom minister Manoj Sinha, law and IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and human resource development minister Prakash Javadekar will launch the project on Monday.
The telecom ministry will sign agreements with seven states Maharashtra, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Jharkhand which will roll out the project on their own with partial funding from the central government.

 
“The total project cost of BharatNet is around Rs 45,000 crore, of which Rs 11,200 crore have been used for the first phase. After rural exchange rollout in the country when telecom services started, this is the biggest project involving domestically manufactured products for the entire project,” Sundararajan said.

 
She said around Rs 4.5 lakh crore value can be added to the national gross domestic product on completion of BharatNet phase 2 as a study has suggested that every 10% usage of Internet in India drives up GDP by 3.3%.

 

  1. The government estimates that the second phase of BharatNet will double the existing optical fibre footprint in the country and generate employment of 10 crore mandays during the rollout of the project.

 

 

 

  1. Gold Options on Multi Commodity Exchange ______________________________

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  1. Price Capping of Medical Devices

In a move that could bring relief to the medical device industry that’s been hit hard by price caps this year, the government may look at the middle ground of imposing a cap on the distributor and retailer margins.

The Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP) has asked medical device associations, healthcare industry bodies and relevant regulatory agencies to help it categorise the devices. The DoP secretary will hold a meeting on October 25 to fix trade margins, according to a letter ..

 

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  1. Linking Bank Lending Rates to External Benchmark___

committee set up by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Wednesday recommended linking bank lending rates to a market benchmark, in a bid to hasten monetary policy transmission as well improve transparency in rate setting by lenders.

The panel—headed by Janak Raj, principal adviser, monetary policy department—recommended that all floating rate loans advanced from April could be referenced to one of three external benchmarks.

The panel has suggested a risk-free curve involving rates on treasury bills, or certificate of deposits rates or the central bank’s policy repo rate.

RBI will take a final view on suggestions of the panel after taking into account public feedback received until 25 October.

The panel pulled up banks for “arbitrariness” in calculating the base rate and marginal cost of funds-linked lending rates (MCLR), two existing benchmarks to which retail lending rates such as car loan and home loan rates are fixed. The spreads charged over these internal benchmarks “has undermined the integrity of the interest rate setting process”, it said.

The panel suggested that lending rates should be reset once every quarter, from the current practice of once a year.

23 . Peer to Peer (P2P) Lending ___________ What is ‘Peer-To-Peer Lending (P2P)’

Peer-to-peer (P2P) lending is a method of debt financing that enables individuals to borrow and lend money without the use of an official financial institution as an intermediary. Peer-to-peer lending removes the middleman from the process, but it also involves more time, effort and risk than the general brick-and-mortar lending scenarios.

P2P lending is also known as social lending or crowdlending.

BREAKING DOWN ‘Peer-To-Peer Lending (P2P)’

Traditionally, individuals and small businesses who want a loan usually apply for one through the bank. The bank would run extensive financial checks on the applicant’s credit history to determine if the entity would qualify for a loan and if yes, determines the interest rate that will be charged on the loan. Individuals that want to avoid being charged high interest rates or that would otherwise be rejected for a loan application due to poor credit history, may opt for an alternative way of borrowing funds – peer-to-peer lending.

With peer-to-peer lending, borrowers take loans from individual investors who are willing to lend their own money for an agreed interest rate. The profile of a borrower is usually displayed on a peer-to-peer online platform where investors can assess these profiles to determine whether they would want to risk lending money to a borrower. A borrower might receive the full loan amount or only a portion of what he asked for from an investor. In the case of the latter, the remaining portion of the loan may be funded by one or more investors in the peer lending marketplace. In peer-to-peer lending, a loan may have multiple sources and monthly repayment has to be made to each of the individual sources.

P2P platforms connect borrowers to investors with attractive interest rates. For lenders, the loans generate income in the form of interest which can often exceed the interest amount that can be earned through savings vehicles, such as saving accounts and CDs. In addition, an investor is able to earn a higher return on his investment than he can get from the stock market through the interest payments he receives monthly from the borrower. On the other hand, P2P loans give borrowers access to financing that they may not have gotten approval for from standard financial intermediaries. Furthermore, a borrower gets a more favorable interest rate on her loan than one she would otherwise have gotten from a bank.

Securing P2P Loans

Peer-to-peer lending is a form of crowdfunding that offers personal unsecured loans to individuals and small businesses looking to take out student loans, commercial and real estate loans, payday loans, etc. Lenders that prefer secured loans will usually take as collateral, luxury assets such as watches, jewelry, and fine art. However, as with traditional lending contracts, it is possible that a borrower may default on a loan. Since investment in a peer loan is not secured by any government guarantee, lenders have the option of choosing who to give funds to and have the advantage of diversifying their available funds among different borrowers.

Peer-to-peer intermediaries are for-profit companies that provide the platform which pairs borrowers and individual lenders. Individuals and businesses that need funding for personal or commercial projects need to file an application with these intermediaries which will assess their credit risk, determine a credit rating, and apply an interest rate to their profiles. The monthly repayments are also made through the P2P intermediary which processes and forwards the payments to the lenders who invested in the loan.

Lending Club, the world’s largest P2P lending platform as of 2017, offers loans in the range of $1,000 to $35,000 to individuals, and $15,000 to $350,000 to businesses over fixed periods of 36 or 60 months. The interest rate charged for borrowed funds falls between 5.32% and 30.99%, depending on the loan grade or creditworthiness of the borrowing entity. Lending Club charges investors a fee equal to 1% of the amount of borrower payments received within 15 days of the due date of the loan. The borrower pays an origination fee that ranges from 1% to 5%, depending on the credit grade that the company assigns to him or her. Payments that bounce back are charged $15, and borrowers that are more than 15 days late on their scheduled payments are charged either 5% or $15, whichever is greater.

Because each state has its own regulations with regard to lending, peer-to-peer lending is not allowed everywhere. For example, Iowa, North Carolina, and New Mexico have constrained the ability to invest through peer-to-peer platforms. Investors and borrowers should, therefore, ensure to check whether their states permit P2P lending before registering with a P2P intermediary.

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24. Land Bank for Industrial Allocation _____ Conflicts across India as states create land banks for industry, investment

Up to 2.68 mn hectares of land have been set aside in land banks in the eight states

Bhasker Tripathi | IndiaSpend Last Updated at September 19, 2017 10:19 IST

 

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Tough task ahead for Odisha govt to take possession of Posco landLand acquisition act has made urban land costly: NITI AayogOdisha mulls direct land-buy model to cut acquisition time, boost industryWhy land ceilings hurt corporate investmentLand can be a multi-bagger investment

In June this year, about a hundred people from Nuagaon village near India’s east coast marched towards a wall that the Odisha government is building around a 1,700 hectare piece of land on the village’s periphery. The wall would mark the inclusion of the land–1,253 hectares of which is forest land and is under dispute–in the state government’s land bank, thereby restricting locals’ access to an area where they have traditionally harvested betel leaves, rice and fish.

Faced with heavy police deployment, the villagers turned back to consider a change of strategy. In 2011, they had successfully fought off South Korean steel giant POSCO’s plan to set up a steel plant on the same piece of land. No sooner had POSCO announced in March 2017 that it would return the land to the state government than the government announced it would put the land into a land bank–not return it to the villagers.

When the government began to wall off the contested land in May 2017, the simmering discontent erupted.

The face-off in Nuagaon village finds echoes in land conflicts brewing across the country. State governments are rushing to build land banks, using both private and common lands, in an effort to attract investment in manufacturing and infrastructure. Up to 2.68 million hectares of land–an area larger than the state of Meghalaya–have been set aside in land banks in the eight states that declare these statistics, data from state government websites show.

These are: Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh.

In several cases, this has been done at the cost of people’s rights: Delhi-based data journalism initiative Land Conflict Watch has documented four recent cases including Nuagaon that together involve more than 3,550 hectares of land and affect 258,000 people–more than the population of Nagaland. These conflicts have arisen because state governments have banked land that was allotted for industrial and infrastructure projects that were shelved due to local opposition. Instead of resolving the conflict, the states just locked the land away.

 

Recent Land Conflicts

 

Conflict District State Families Affected Area Affected (hectares)
Odisha Govt. has put forest land in their land bank which earlier belonged to the POSCO project Jagatsinghpur Odisha 700 1200
Chhatisgarh govt. has locked away a chunk of land which was acquired from people to build a steel plant Bastar Chattisgarh 2000 1700
Jharkhand govt. has sealed a chunk of forest land – where a firing range of India army was proposed – in their land bank Latehar Jharkhand 50000 32
Jharkhand govt. has earmarked gram sabha’s common land in their land bank. This land was a part of Koel-Karo dam project, which could not come up due to people’s protest Khunti Jharkhand 100 61

Source: Land Conflict Watch

 

Land rights activists say the idea of land banks is problematic in itself. “They steal land from villages and reverse long-needed land reforms,” Aseem Shrivastava, a Delhi-based ecological economist who co-authored Churning The Earth: The Making Of Global India, told IndiaSpend. And recent conflicts show that state governments’ methods of creating land banks have been questionable.

Why land banks

State governments began to “bank” land in the 1990s, particularly in the post-liberalisationperiod, Michael Levien, professor of sociology at Johns Hopkins University in the US, and author of the forthcoming Dispossession After Development: Land Grabs in Neoliberal India, told IndiaSpend in an email.

“From the point of view of the government, building land banks allows them to offer land to private investors right away, rather than having to wait for the lengthy process of land acquisition each time an investor wants land,” he said. “Investors also like to know that the land is acquired and available, and that they won’t run into political problems down the road.”

Making land readily available for economic activities sounds like a rational move. Scratch the surface, however, and a different picture emerges–of conflict, and denial of people’s rights.

 

Source: State government websites
Note:NA= Not Available in Public Domain

 

Banking disputed landthe case of Nuagaon

When POSCO signed an agreement with the Odisha government to set up a steel plant in Nuagaon and nearby villages in 2005, the 700 families affected were not enthused.

Mostly Dalits or Santhal tribals, the villagers wanted to continue to earn their livelihood from the forest, and did not believe that jobs or other compensation promised to them would improve their lives. A decade-long resistance including legal challenges followed, at the end of which POSCO shelved the project in 2015.

In March this year, POSCO offered to return the land to the state government.

The villagers rejoiced, but were soon faced with another claimant–the state government, which quickly moved to add this land to a land bank it has been building since 2007. The Industrial Development Corporation of Odisha (IDCO) started to wall off the 1,700 hectares near Nuagaon in late May. The wall will eventually fence off the nearby Dhinkia and Gobindpur villages too.

Most of these families have farmed beetle leaves for generations, which they sell to earn a livelihood. They have no other employable skills.

Over generations, the locals have developed a deep bond with the land and the forest, beyond merely as a source of employment and their only possession, Prashant Paikray, an activist who worked closely with families here during their fight against POSCO, told IndiaSpend, adding that it is often this attachment that fuels their fierce resistance to industrial projects.

The encounter with the police made Nuagaon residents take legal recourse. In July 2017, they filed a petition with the Kolkata bench of the National Green Tribunal.

“Odisha government cannot put this forest land into the land bank,” their counsel Ritwick Dutta told IndiaSpend, explaining that according to the Forest Conservation Act of 1980, the government is required to get forest ‘clearance’ or approval from the central environment ministry to use forest land for a non-forest purpose. However, there is no provision to obtain forest clearance for a ‘land bank’ under the Act, Dutta said.

The petition adds that under the Forest Rights Act of 2006, the government cannot change the use of forest land without recognising the land and forest rights of people living or dependent on it since generations.

The residents of Nuagaon, Dhinkia and Gobindpur villages have submitted applications to the state government to claim their land and forest rights, but these have gone unaddressed since 2011. “The government is violating Forest Rights Act by preventing communities’ access to their forest,” Shankar Pani, an independent lawyer based in Odisha, told IndiaSpend.

The state government counters that the land had already been diverted for a non-forest purpose and was being held by the Industrial Development Corporation of India. “[T]here is no question of settling forest rights now,” Debi Prasad, the former industries minister with the Odisha government who put the disputed 1,253 hectares into the land bank, told IndiaSpend.

Dutta argues that the Odisha government never issued a final order diverting this forest land for non-forest purpose, as state governments are required to do after the central environment ministry issues a ‘clearance.’

Conflict everywhere

Odisha’s land bank now comprises about 40,000 hectares. Most Indian states either already have sizeable land banks or are in the process of creating them–largely for industrial or infrastructure development–although only eight make details publicly available (See table 1).

Conflict arises when industrial or infrastructure projects are proposed on land that communities inhabit, earn livelihood from, or have customary rights over. Over 200 million Indians depend on forestland for basic living needs, while 118.9 million Indians practisefarming on 160 million hectares of land.

Land Conflict Watch has reported over 450 land conflicts so far, affecting more than 6 million people directly or indirectly. These include conflicts due to land acquisition by the state, violation of community rights over land, and opposition to industries such as mining and power generation and to infrastructure projects.

Often, communities do not want to part with their land, or their demands for compensation and rehabilitation are not adequately met. In some cases, the projects are shelved or cancelled and state governments take over the land.

“When [investment] proposals do not get fulfilled either due to lack of finance, on ground conflicts, regulatory failures or a combination of these, governments allocated the acquired land into land banks instead of repatriating it,” Kanchi Kohli, legal research director with the environment justice programme of Namati, a Washington DC-based global network of lawyers, told IndiaSpend.

Jharkhand’s clandestine move

Like Nuagaon in Odisha, a movement against land banks is building up in the Torpa block of Khunti district in Jharkhand. Members of gram sabhas (village councils) are holding meetings where they bring villagers’ land records to match with the land bank data available on the state revenue department’s website to check if the government has surreptitiously put any village common land into its land bank. Common lands are broadly understood as lands shared by all residents of a village and include grazing land, ponds and forests.

Their suspicion comes from the experience of Lohajimi, a village in Torpa, whose residents learnt in February this year that the state government had put about 60 hectares of their common land into its land bank. “The government didn’t even consult the gram sabha. This is a violation of PESA [Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas Act],” Rejan Gudia, a local activist from Lohajimi, told IndiaSpend.

PESA empowers village councils of scheduled areas–places primarily inhabited by tribespeople–to approve, reject or change the government programmes proposed in their regions. Khunti is a scheduled area.

So far, Jharkhand has banked about 40,468 hectares of land, 10% of which is in Khunti district’s Torpa block. Numerous calls and emails to Jharkhand government officials to ask under what provision Lohajimi’s land was put into a land bank went unanswered.

Lohajimi had previously been the epicentre of a three-decade movement that began in 1973 against the 700 megawatt Koel-Karo Dam proposed by the Bihar government (Jharkhand was then a part of Bihar). Lohajimi was one of the 132 villages that the dam would submerge.

Eight people died here in 2001 when police opened fire during a related protest. The government withdrew the project in 2003, and residents observe February 2 as Martyrdom Day every year. “The 60 hectares of land from Lohajimi that the government has banked was the part of the land where the dam was proposed,” Gudia said.

“Now the government is using land banks as another tool to acquire the same land,” another activist who did not want to be named told IndiaSpend.

Old v. new law in Chhattisgarh

In addition to common lands, land banks have violated laws protecting private land too, particularly in cases where land from cancelled projects has been diverted into land banks.

One such example is from Lohandiguda region in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar district. In 2007, the Chhattisgarh government acquired 1,765 hectares of land from some 2,000 families, mostly farmers, living in 10 villages in Lohandiguda. The land was acquired for Tata Steel to set up a steel plant.

Villagers alleged some of this land was acquired forcefully, and continuing opposition forced Tata Steel to withdraw in August 2016, blaming a breakdown of law and order in the region.

A few days later, the Chhattisgarh State Industrial Development Corporation (CSIDC) added this land to its land bank, swelling the reserve to 5,665 hectares. “The land is with the corporation. Papers are being prepared [to bank the land],” confirmed Alok Trivedi, General Manager of the Land Allotment and Land Bank Division in CSIDC.

Sudiep Srivastava, an activist-lawyer who splits his time between Chhattisgarh and Delhi, told IndiaSpend that legally, the Chhattisgarh government cannot include the land acquired for Tata Steel in its land bank until the government has re-acquired it from the people. Srivastava has filed a petition in the Chhattisgarh High Court demanding that land acquisition be quashed and the land returned to the people.

Srivastava explained that according to the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act (LARRA) of 2013, acquisition lapses if land was acquired under the older 1894 statute and the acquired land is unutilised for more than five years. The government can set up a new project on the same land but it must reacquire it from the people by following the provisions of the new land acquisition law. These provisions include conducting public hearings and obtaining affected persons’ consent.

For one decade, when it was unclear whether the Tata Steel project would go through, Lohandiguda farmers were in a limbo. None got the jobs they were promised; most were not rehabilitated; and although many families continued to live on the contested land, they could not sell their crops to cooperative societies or avail of farmer benefit programmesbecause the land was no longer in their name.

The situation got some political attention in August 2017 when Rahul Gandhi, vice-president of the Indian National Congress, during a tour of Bastar, accused the Chhattisgarh government of lying to the people.

New Indian law

The new land acquisition law gives land banks a freer hand. If land acquired under this law is unutilised for more than five years, the state government can put it in its land bank or give it back to the people it was acquired from.

The latter part has an interesting history. An analysis by Policy Research Studies, a research group for members of parliament, shows that the first draft of the LARRA Act prepared in 2011 had no option of returning unutilised land to the people, and allowed state governments to bank it instead.

That faced strident opposition from activist bodies including the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM). “Our joint effort forced the government to add that the land could go back to people also,” Madhuresh Kumar, national convener of NAPM, told IndiaSpend, adding, “At least it provides legal backing to land losers who want to claim their unutilised land.”

Under the new law, if a state government acquires land for “public purpose”, which includes defence projects and housing for the poor, it does not need the consent of those who will lose their land. In contrast, the consent of 80% of the land owners affected is required for private projects and of 70% if the project is a public-private partnership.

The law does not prevent the government from acquiring land for a “public purpose” and later handing it over to a private player. “This would be a way to entirely circumvent the greater procedural requirements for private and public-private-partnership projects under LARRA,” Levien added.

Indeed, state governments are “breaking all kinds of laws” in order to acquire land to give it to industry or to put it in land banks, NC Saxena, a former bureaucrat who headed various committees on land rights, told IndiaSpend.

Saxena said keeping land fallow for long durations is a bad idea. “But land banks become a necessity because the current land laws are complex with lengthy land acquisition processes that the governments do not want to get stuck,” he said.

The new land acquisition law was supposed to resolve at least some of this complexity and shorten the procedures, but, as Saxena said, those goals have not been met and violations abound.

Shrivastava, the ecological economist, said each case of transfer into land banks should be investigated. “There is not even a single good study of this phenomenon by our social scientists,” he said, adding that investigation would undoubtedly unearth more scams.

Christopher Udry, a professor of economics at Yale University, says land banks should be created in such a way that they benefit landowners. Since 1981, he has studied rural economics and land rights in Ghana, a West African country the size of Uttar Pradesh, where 80% of the land is held by customary land owners, mainly families, clans and traditional authorities.

Udry proposes building land banks on the lines of traditional banks where people deposit their money–people could deposit their land and earn from it. “One can think of this as interest on the deposit,” Udry told IndiaSpend in an email. The managers of these land banks would let out the deposited land for commercial or development activities. “Payments could be structured in such a way that those willing to commit to longer terms receive higher payments,” Udry said, adding that the tenure of the deposit would be decided locally.

Experts would differ over whether this would work in India.

Meanwhile, the wall is fast approaching the Dhinkia and Gobindpur villages in Odisha, and communities are gearing up for a new battle.

 

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  1. Project Chaman . ___________ The nature of horticulture crops is such that it is not easy to make assessment of their production. These crops, especially vegetables are grown in small plots, fields or in the back of the houses, do not have single harvesting in most of the cases which makes their assessment difficult. Many horticulture crops have multiple pickings in a single season. Similarly many fruit trees are scattered, which do not count for assessment.

    In view of above difficulties several research studies were taken up by agricultural scientists in the past. Recently Department of Agriculture, Cooperation & Farmers Welfare has launched a new project called CHAMAN. Under this project sound methodology for estimation of Horticulture crops is being developed and implemented on pilot basis using Sample Survey methodology and Remote Sensing technology.

    Indian Agricultural Statistics Research Institute (IASRI) has developed a Sample Survey methodology which is now being implemented on pilot basis in 5 states for estimation of area & production in respect of major horticulture crops under the project CHAMAN.

    Simultaneously under CHAMAN, another project for area and production assessment of seven major horticulture crops through Remote Sensing, is being carried out by Mahalanobis National Crop Forecast Centre (MNCFC). Besides estimation of crops, MNCFC is carrying out several developmental studies and is also conducting some research studies for precision farming and developing signatures for horticulture crops like vegetables, being grown in smaller plots, for their assessment.

    This information was given by the Minister of State for Agriculture & Farmers Welfare Shri Parshottam Rupala in Lok Sabha today.  _________

 

 

 

  1. Nobel Prize in Economics_____________ A Nobel Prize for a Behavioral Economics Pioneer: Are there Lessons for (Utility) Regulation?

Richard Thaler has won the Nobel Prize in Economics, by undermining the “rational actor” assumption central to economics.  He proved that humans’ economic decisions are afflicted by systematic biases. His discoveries have direct application to utility regulation.

Less interested in economists’ formulas than in humans’ quirks, a young Thaler began keeping “The List”:  examples of decisions—including economists’ decisions—that were economically irrational.  Then, inspired by the groundbreaking work of psychologists Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman, Thaler spent decades proving that people have consistent, predictable biases that distort decision-making.  Thaler describes his work superbly in Misbehaving:  The Making of Behavioral Economics (2015).  The book is both autobiography and economic history, because Thaler’s career made economic history.

Thaler also wrote, with Cass Sunstein, the great book Nudge:  Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness (2008), whose applications to utility regulation I discussed in a prior essay.   Kahneman himself won the Economics Nobel in 2002, a prize Tversky would have shared had he lived.  Kahneman detailed his discoveries in his masterpiece, Thinking Fast and Slow (2011); the entire subject was recently retold for popular readership by Michael Lewis in The Undoing Project:  A Friendship that Changed Our Minds (2017).

Reading these four books causes one to ask:  Might the biases discovered by these intellectual eminences affect utility regulation?  (I use “bias” not in the conventional sense of having a closed mind, or a predisposition to favor one side of a debate, but rather in the Thalerian sense of having a propensity to make decisions based on irrelevant factors.)   Among the many bias-types discovered by Kahneman, Tversky and Thaler, consider these three.

Anchoring:  Are decisions affected by irrelevancies?  Experimenters rigged a wheel of fortune so that it always stopped on 10 or 65.  Two separate groups of students were told to watch the wheel spin, write down the resulting number; then guess the percentage of African nations in the United Nations.  For the group whose wheel stopped at 10, the average answer was 25%.  For the group whose wheel stopped at 65. the average answer as 45%.  (Thinking Fast and Slow at 119.)  The wheel’s number was the anchor; the anchor influenced the guess.  Real world implication?    “If you consider how much you should pay for a house, you will be influenced by the asking price.”  Id. at 122.

When a company proposes a $75 million rate increase, that number becomes the anchor.  Then when the Commission allows an increase of $40 million, its press release says, “We saved customers $35 million.”  The anchor influenced the case, the outcome, and the explanation.  The anchored question was:  “Has the company justified a $75 million increase?”  The right question is:  “What should it cost to supply this service territory?”

To avoid anchoring—to get the estimate right—one first must detect the anchor, then reduce its influence.  Both steps require a clear head:  “People adjust less (stay closer to the anchor) when their mental resources are depleted, either because their memory is loaded with digits or because they are slightly drunk.”  Thinking Fast and Slow at 121-122.

Halo effect:  You work for a charitable organization.  At a party you meet John, whom you find very amicable. You like John, so you put him on your list of possible donors.  But amicability does not equal generosity.  You’ve experienced the halo effect, because you associated amicability with generosity—without a speck of data to support the association.  You viewed the relationship between amicability and generosity as “simpler and more coherent than the real thing.”  Thinking Fast and Slow at 82.

Electricity is awesome, literally:  Flip a switch, 500 miles away a puff of smoke appears, your light goes on.  Also awesome is utility financing.  Tasked with financing new generation and transmission, the CFO somehow coaxes $2 billion from diverse lenders and shareholders.  Does our awe of technology and finance, our respect for the CEO’s engineering expertise, cause us to think well of a utility’s rate case request?  Anyone who dismisses this tendency is likely underestimating the halo effect.  “The sequence in which we observe characteristics of a person … matters … because the halo effect increases the weight of first impressions, sometimes to the point that subsequent information is mostly wasted.”  Id.  Rather than deny the halo effect, we should acknowledge it—then mitigate it.  We can mitigate it by seeking independent sources of information; and, as in good police procedure, prevent these sources from coordinating their testimony.  Id.

Narrow framing:    A major media holding company owned 23 publications, each run by a separate executive.  In a joint meeting, Thaler asked each one:  If you had a chance to make an investment, one which had a 50% chance of making a profit of $2 million and 50% chance of losing $1 million, would you do it?  Twenty of the 23 said no:  As one executive explained, success would get him “a pat on the back and a bonus equal to three months income,” while failure could get him fired.  The holding company CEO saw it differently:  If all 23 made the investments, there would be, based on the probabilities, a total gain of $11.5 million.  The problem was narrow framing:  The holding company’s compensation practices caused each executive to focus only on her situation rather than the total company situation.  See Misbehaving at 188.

Are there situations in utility regulation—on the seller or the buyer side—where each individual action (or inaction) makes sense to the actor, but the combination of actions or actions does not?  If so, we suffer from narrow framing.  Narrow framing also occurs when we base a decision only on the arguments and evidence presented by opposing parties, rather than asking “What would I need to know before I formed an opinion about [this particular issue]?”,  Thinking Fast and Slow at 86, and then acquiring all that necessary information.

*  *  *

Economists initially objected to these discoveries, arguing that rational people cannot be irrational.  Tversky responded succinctly:  “A theory of vision cannot be faulted for predicting optical illusions.  Similarly, a descriptive theory of choice cannot be rejected on the grounds that it predicts ‘irrational behavior’ if the behavior in question is, in fact, observed.”  The Undoing Project at 286.  Thaler got on his colleagues’ nerves, because he used facts and logic to expose looseness in conventional assumptions.  A critic of his profession, he is making it better.

I invite readers to send me examples of how inadvertent biases—as defined here—affect regulatory decision-making.  Like Thaler and his colleagues, together we can advance our knowledge and improve our profession.

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  1. 27. Abu Dhabi to Invest in NIIF’s Master Fund ______________________________________ National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) of India on Monday said it had signed an investment agreement worth $1 billion with a wholly owned unit of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA).

As part of the partnership agreement, ADIA will become the first institutional investor in NIIF’s Master Fund and a shareholder in National Investment and Infrastructure Ltd, NIIF’s investment management company, NIIF said in a press statement.

“This agreement marks the culmination of an extensive process of collaboration with ADIA to develop an investment structure that is attractive to international investors, while remaining closely aligned with NIIF’s objectives,” said NIIF chief executive officer Sujoy Bose.

NIIF was set up in 2015 as an investment vehicle for funding commercially viable greenfield, brownfield and stalled projects in the infrastructure sector.

NIIF will invest in areas such as energy, transportation, housing, water, waste management and other infrastructure-related sectors in India.

The corpus of the fund is proposed to be around Rs40,000 crore, with the government investing 49% and the rest to be raised from third-party investors such as sovereign wealth funds, insurance and pension funds, endowments etc.

“NIIF is set to play an important role in facilitating the flow of foreign capital into India’s infrastructure sector. As a long-standing investor in India and in infrastructure globally, ADIA welcomes the opportunity to be the first to partner with NIIF in a platform that is sure to be of interest to other long-term institutional investors,” said Khadem AlRemeithi, executive director of the real estate and infrastructure department at ADIA.

ADIA has been an active investor in the Indian infrastructure space. In October 2015, ADIA led a $265 million investment in Sumant Sinha’s renewable energy company ReNew Power Ventures along with existing investors.

In July, The Economic Times had reported that ADIA was in talks to acquire a 49% stake in infrastructure firm GMR Infrastructure’s Hyderabad airport.

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  1. Start-Up Sangam Initiative___ Shri Dharmendra Pradhan launches Start-up Programmes for entrepreneurs in Oil and Gas sector 

Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Shri Dharmendra Pradhan has said that it is important to develop new business models, marketing plans, technology and innovations in the sector. For the same, the oil and gas PSUs have setup venture capital funds to encourage start-ups based on innovative ideas in the energy sector.  Speaking at the launch function of Start-up programme for entrepreneurs in oil and gas sector here today, he said the initiative will change the status of the youth of our country from job seeker to that of job provider as envisaged by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. Shri Pradhan said the business partnership between the start-ups and the PSUs of Petroleum Ministry will create a new benchmark for growth and job creation as India has a huge potential for investment of over USD 300 bn in the energy sector in the next ten years.

 

He said, start-ups in the oil and gas sector are not short-term investments, but a long-term commitment. There are a wide variety of opportunities that present a wide spectrum of options for launching start-up initiatives. The Minister said the government is committed to provide clean energy to every household of the country and in the last 15 months 3 crore LPG connections have been provided under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY). He said in the next 15 months, a target of providing more than 4 crore electricity connections has been set under the Saubhagya Scheme. He called upon the oil PSUs to take advantage of the emerging technologies in the oil sector with the help of the youth to match the international standards.

 

CEO, Niti Ayog, Shri Amitabh Kant, Secretary DIPP Shri Ramesh Abhishek, Secretary, PNG Shri K. D Tripathi, Academicians, Chiefs of Oil and Gas PSUs and young entrepreneur were also present on the occasion.

 

Backing the spirit of innovation, 10 public sector undertakings under the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, including the IOCL, ONGC, EIL, OIL, NRL, BPCL, HPCL, GAIL and MRPL, have created a corpus of Rs. 320 crore to support start-up initiatives.

 

Since the launch of the scheme by the PSUs, there has been a constant flow of applications and some extremely innovative ideas have come through. The Start- up ideas have been received from a varying age group (from a fresh engineering graduate to a 70-year-old entrepreneur) from across the country.

 

The 10 oil PSUs have together selected nearly 30 start-up projects for support in the first round of the scheme. Some of the many innovative projects that have made it after rigorous evaluation include:

 

  • Electronic leak detector for detecting body and bung leak of LPG cylinders
  • Self – sustaining low-maintenances toilets, or eco-toilets
  • Multiuse Fuel from Agricultural Waste Biomass
  • Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) for underwater inspections
  • Converting waste plastics to high value petroleum fuels
  • Solar Stove- Revolutionary Day and Night Indoor Solar Cooktop System for all lifestyles

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  1. Saathi Scheme _____________________ Ministries of Power & Textiles join hands under new initiative SAATHI (Sustainable and Accelerated Adoption of efficient Textile technologies to Help small Industries)

    EESL to provide energy efficient Powerlooms equipment to small and medium units at no upfront cost 

Ministries of Power  and Textiles have joined hands under a new initiative SAATHI (Sustainable and Accelerated Adoption of efficient Textile technologies to Help small Industries). Under this initiative, Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), a public sector entity under the administrative control of Ministry of Power, would procure energy efficient Powerlooms, motors and Rapier kits in bulk and provide them to the small and medium Powerloom units at no upfront cost.

The SAATHI initiative of the Government will be jointly implemented by EESL and the office of the Textile Commissioner on a pan-India basis. To kick start the implementation, cluster wise demonstration projects and workshops will be organized in key clusters such as Erode, Surat, Ichalkaranji, etc.

The use of these efficient equipment would result in energy savings and cost savings to the unit owner and he would repay in installments to EESL over a 4 to 5 year period.  This is the aggregation, bulk procurement and financing model that EESL has successfully deployed in several sectors like LED bulbs, Smart Meters and Electric Vehicles.  The unit owner neither has to allocate any upfront capital cost to procure these equipment nor does it have to allocate additional expenditure for repayment as the repayments to EESL are made from the savings that accrue as a result of higher efficiency equipments and cost savings.  The aggregation of demand and bulk procurement will also lead to reduction in capital cost, benefits of which will be passed on to the Powerloom units so that their repayment amount and period would reduce.

The Powerloom sector in India is predominantly an unorganized sector and has a large number of micro and small units which produce 57 percent of the total cloth in the country.  There are 24.86 lakhs Powerloom units in this country, most of whom use obsolete technology.  With a view to upgrading the technology, the Government of India has been implementing the INSITU upgradation of  plain Powerlooms as part of Power Tex India under which plain Powerlooms are attached with process control equipment leading to higher productivity, better quality and more than 50 percent additional value realisation.  So far 1.70 lakhs plain Powerlooms have been upgraded under the scheme, with a total Government of India subsidy of Rs. 186 crores.

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30.

India share of global market capitalization narrows gap with GDP share

Although market capitalization has risen, valuations remain expensive in the absence of a meaningful recovery in corporate earnings

Fundraising via IPOs was in full swing this year, taking the total number of listed entities on the Indian bourses higher. Photo: Graphic: Mint

In 2017, India’s share of global market capitalization edged up after staying relatively flat for the past three years. The climb was on the back of a stellar showing by Indian equities, with key benchmark indices scaling new highs.

Consequently, India’s share of world market capitalization has inched up by 57 basis points (bps) to 2.93% from a year ago. One basis point is 0.01%.

This also narrows the gap with share of gross domestic product (GDP) to the smallest in five years.

A gush of domestic liquidity, especially after demonetisation, was among the key drivers of improved stock market sentiment.

Lower interest rates on products such as fixed deposits and a dismal performance by other asset classes such as gold and realty accelerated the shift to financial savings.

Fund-raising via initial public offers (IPOs) was in full swing this year, taking the total number of listed entities on the Indian bourses higher.

Indian companies garnered around Rs67,000 crore via this route. This gave a push to market capitalization as well.

Of the total market capitalization as of 26 December, IPOs contributed 3.5%, which is much higher than the 2016 figure of 2.17%, according to primary market tracker Prime Database.

While the stock market is chugging along, the situation on the GDP growth front is a bit different.

India’s contribution to world GDP has been constantly rising since 2014, but the improvement from a year ago has been a meagre 8 bps.

With the 1 July implementation of the goods and service tax (GST), which came close on the heels of demonetisation, hitting business confidence, overall growth was affected.

Small and medium enterprises operating in unorganized sectors were the worst affected. Also, global peers are growing at a faster pace than India.

“Euro zone is now recovering; Japan and the US too are growing at a higher rate. US Federal Reserve hiking rates and European Central Bank rolling back stimulus indicates that these economies are confident of their growth,” Madan Sabnavis, chief economist at Care Ratings, said. “IMF (International Monetary Fund) projects world economy to grow from 3.2% to 3.6% in FY17-18, whereas it foresees India’s GDP growth slowing down to 6.7% from 7.1% in FY17-18, which is a sharp contrast. Expectations are that India’s GDP growth is likely to come down further since GST will require a couple of months to stabilize.”

A note of caution is necessary on the stock market front.

Although market capitalization has risen, valuations remain expensive in the absence of a meaningful recovery in corporate earnings.

If earnings don’t show signs of picking up in the coming quarters, valuations may come under pressure.

 

__ 24 3.1. Boosting Agri-Exports______________

dent
: The government plans to come out with a policy to boost the exports of agricultural produce so that farmers get the best price and double their income by 2022.

“If they (farmers) produce something, they (should) get an access to global market and get better prices for that, and for that we will put in place a good policy framework very soon,” commerce minister Suresh Prabhu said at the 10th Agriculture Leadership Summit 2017 here today.

“We have the right to have access to global markets for our farm produce by removing all trade restrictive practices,” the minister added.

According to experts, the country’s agricultural sector has potential to double farm income and grow exports to $100 billion by 2022 from the present $34 billion.

 

___24 3.2. Fishery Sector in India _______________

ndian fisheries and aquaculture is an important sector of food production, providing nutritional security to the food basket, contributing to the agricultural exports and engaging about fourteen million people in different activities. With diverse resources ranging from deep seas to lakes in the mountains and more than 10% of the global biodiversity in terms of fish and shellfish species, the country has shown continuous and sustained increments in fish production since independence. Constituting about 6.3% of the global fish production, the sector contributes to 1.1% of the GDP and 5.15% of the agricultural GDP. The total fish production of 10.07 million metric tonnes presently has nearly 65% contribution from the inland sector and nearly the same from culture fisheries. Paradigm shifts in terms of increasing contributions from inland sector and further from aquaculture are significations over the years. With high growth rates, the different facets of marine fisheries, coastal aquaculture, inland fisheries, freshwater aquaculture, coldwater fisheries to food, health, economy, exports, employment and tourism of the country.

Development Agencies (FFDAs) and 39 Brackishwater Fish Farms Development Agencies (BFDAs) for promoting freshwater and coastal aquaculture. The annual carp seed production is to the tune of 25 billion and that of shrimp about 12 billion, with increasing diversification in the recent past. Along with food fish culture, ornamental fish culture and high value fish farming are gaining importance in the recent past. With over 2.4 lakh fishing crafts operating in the coast, six major fishing harbours, 62 minor fishing harbours and 1511 landing centres are functioning to cater to the needs of over 3.9 million fisherfolk.

Fish and fish products have presently emerged as the largest group in agricultural exports of India, with 10.51 lakh tonnes in terms of quantity and Rs.33,442 crores in value.
This accounts for around 10% of the total exports of the country and nearly 20% of the agricultural exports. More than 50 different types of fish and shellfish products are exported to 75 countries around the world.

Indian Fisheries
 Global position 3rd in Fisheries 2nd in Aquaculture
 Contribution of Fisheries to GDP (%) 1.07
 Contribution to Agril. GDP (%) 5.15
 Per capita fish availability (Kg.) 9.0
 Annual Export earnings (Rs. In Crore) 33,441.61
 Employment in sector (million) 14.0

 

Resources
 Coastline 8129 kms
 Exclusive Economic Zone 2.02 million sq. km
 Continental Shelf 0.506 million sq. km
 Rivers and Canals 1,91,024 km
 Reservoirs 3.15 million ha
 Ponds and Tanks 2.35 million ha
 Oxbow lakes and derelict waters 1.3 million ha
 Brackishwaters 1.24 million ha
 Estuaries 0.29 million ha

 

Some Facts
 Present fish Production 6.4 mmt
 Inland 3.4 mmt
 Marine 3.0 mmt
 Potential fish production 8.4 mmt
 Fish seed production 21,000 million fry
 Hatcheries 1,070
 FFDA 422
 BFDA 39

 

  1. Seed Industry __________________The agricultural sector is highly dependent on the availability and quality of seeds for a productive harvest. Therefore, in order to increase the quantity and quality of produce, efforts are made to introduce enhanced varieties of seeds with the help of advance technology and modern agricultural methods. In India, agriculture is the dominant occupation, which secures abundant opportunities for seeds market in the region. According to IMARC Group’s latest report titled, “Seed Industry in India: Market Trends, Structure, Growth, Key Players and Forecast 2018-2023”, the Indian seeds market reached a value of more than US$ 4 Billion in 2017, exhibiting a CAGR of around 17% during 2010-2017.

The Indian seed market has witnessed a major restructuring as a result of the implementation of some progressive policies by the government. Seed Development, 1988 and National Seed Policy, 2002 have helped in strengthening the Indian seed industry in the areas of R&D, product development, supply chain management and quality assurance. Owing to this, India has emerged as the fifth largest seed market across the globe. Moreover, the active participation of both, public and private sectors has also played a vital role in laying a strong foundation of the industry. This includes launching initiatives to promote the use of hybrid seeds among the farmers who had earlier used outmoded open pollinated varieties. Some other growth-inducing forces, such as growth in income levels, commercialization of agriculture, patent protection systems and intellectual rights over plant varieties, have given a great push to the market. Owing to these factors, the Indian seeds market is further expected to grow at a CAGR of more than 15% during 2018–2023, reaching a value of more than US$ 7 Billion by 2023.

The report has segmented the market on the basis of type. Currently, grain seeds represent the largest seed type, accounting for more than a half of the total seed production. Other major seed types include oil seeds, vegetable seeds and fruit seeds. An analysis of the market is provided on the basis of regions. The major regions covered in the report are North India, West India, South India and East India. Amongst these, North India represents the largest producer, accounting for around a third of the total market share. The report has also analysed the competitive landscape of the market and provides the profiles of the key players operative in it.

This report provides a deep insight into the Indian seeds market covering all its essential aspects. This ranges from macro overview of the market to micro details of the industry performance, key market drivers and challenges, recent trends, market forecast, SWOT analysis, Porter’s five forces analysis, value chain analysis, etc. This report is a must-read for entrepreneurs, researchers, consultants, investors, business strategists, and all those who have any kind of stake or are planning to foray into the Indian seeds industry in any manner.

 

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36.. Open Access in Electricity______Recently, the Union ministry of power advised the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) to set up a committee to look into issues related to open access and brought out a consultation paper based on the committee’s findings. Open access is one of the key measures to bring about competition in electricity, whereby large consumers have access to the transmission and distribution (T&D) network to obtain electricity from suppliers other than the local distribution company (discom). Open access was expected to encourage investment by private players in electricity supply. Unfortunately, the success of open access has been very limited in spite of numerous attempts to facilitate it. This initiative by the power ministry should be taken as an opportunity to examine the basics of open access and re-conceptualize it, if necessary.

Instead of being an avenue to allow large consumers choice of supplier on a sustained basis, open access has become a way to allow such consumers to move back and forth between the discom and the market as and when they want. Not only is this phenomenon unfair to discoms, it also does not allow competitive suppliers to develop a stable customer base, defeating the purpose of open access. The current approach to open access may relieve, to some extent, the burden of cross-subsidization that falls on large consumers, by allowing them access to the market to get lower prices when they can. The high degree of cross-subsidization certainly needs to be addressed, but tariff rationalization is a political problem and, therefore, is best solved at the political level. Trying to bring about this change through open access is unlikely to succeed, as past experience shows.

The term “open access” itself is a misnomer for consumer choice, muddling the discussion. Open access to the T&D network is required by generators and suppliers, but not by consumers. Consumers need only to shop around for the best deal from competitive suppliers, and it should be the responsibility of the suppliers to obtain access so that the power can be transferred to consumers. Therefore, open access requests should only come from suppliers, not consumers. This distinction may help resolve another issue. For effective competition, open access to the T&D network by suppliers can and should be of any duration—short, medium or long term—so that they can assemble the most efficient mix of resources to serve their customers. However, as discussed later, exercise of choice by a consumer should not be a short-term transaction. Further, while open access is a prerequisite for choice, consumer choice is about more than open access. Choice also requires well-defined rules that govern the relationship between the discom and the consumer exercising choice, defining the rights and responsibilities of each. Not enough attention has been paid to these rules in state regulations.

The first step in re-conceptualizing open access is to recognize that service to consumers exercising choice is a distinct service, and not an extension of regulated supply. Large consumers should not be able to treat the discom as a mothership to which they can return whenever market prices rise. In addition, consumers exercising choice should be required to get all their electricity from the supplier of their choice, not just part of it, otherwise the discom has to handle all the variability of load, and that increases the discom’s planning burden and cost, and is unfair.

Open access for end-consumers should not be a short-term option. Discom tariffs are regulated and fixed for the entire year and thus represent an average over the year. Even an efficient discom will have tariffs that are above the prevailing market price at some times and below it at other times. If a very large consumer is able to cherry-pick the periods when it can get supply from the market, it would result in higher and higher costs for the discom. These additional costs would have to be borne by non-open-access consumers, many of whom are small consumers. Furthermore, unlike other markets, because its tariff is regulated and fixed, the discom cannot compete with another supplier by making a counter-offer to retain a consumer.

In states in the US that have allowed choice of supplier, similar concerns have been raised about giving excessive flexibility to consumers to move back and forth between the market and discom service, because discoms find it difficult and expensive to hedge against the risks posed by these swings in load. In those cases, restrictions have been placed on the time that has to elapse before a consumer can either leave a regulated service or return to it—usually 6-12 months. In India, because regulated tariffs are fixed for a year, similar time limits of 6-12 months should be placed to address the problem of frequent shifting. There should be no restrictions on switching between competitive suppliers.

It is possible that a large consumer may be dropped by its retail supplier for reasons beyond the control of the consumer; for example, bankruptcy of the supplier, or its inability or unwillingness to supply. In such cases, while the consumer shops for an alternative supplier, there should be short-term service priced to compensate the discom for its cost.

It is time to move beyond efforts to increase the volume of open access transactions by tinkering with how various open access charges are calculated. Instead, the initiative by the power ministry should be taken as an opportunity to re-conceptualize open access along the lines discussed here, so that its objectives are achieved.

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  1. National Anti-Profiteering Authority_ Cabinet approves the establishment of the National Anti-profiteering Authority under GST 

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given its approval for the creation of the posts of Chairman and Technical Members of the National Anti-profiteering Authority (NAA) under GST, following up immediately on yesterday’s sharp reduction in the GST rates of a large number of items of mass consumption.This paves the way for the immediate establishment of this apex body, which is mandated to ensure that the benefits of the reduction in GST rates on goods or services are passed on to the ultimate consumers by way of a reduction in prices.

The establishment of the NAA, to be headed by a senior officer of the level of Secretary to the Government of India with four Technical Members from the Centre and/or the States, is one more measure aimed at reassuring consumers that Government is fully committed to take all possible steps to ensure the benefits of implementation of GST in terms of lower prices of the goods and services reach them.

It may be recalled that effective from midnight of 14th November, 2017 the GST rate has been slashed from 28% to 18% on goods falling under 178 headings. There are now only 50 items which attract the GST rate of 28%. Likewise, a large number of items have witnessed a reduction in GST rates from 18% to 12% and so on and some goods have been completely exempt from GST.

The “anti-profiteering” measures enshrined in the GST law provide an institutional mechanism to ensure that the full benefits of input tax credits and reduced GST rates on supply of goods or services flow to the consumers. This institutional framework comprises the NAA, a Standing Committee, Screening Committees in every State and the Directorate General of Safeguards in the Central Board of Excise & Customs (CBEC).

Affected consumers who feel the benefit of commensurate reduction in prices is not being passed on when they purchase any goods or services may apply for relief to the Screening Committee in the particular State. However, in case the incident of profiteering relates to an item of mass impact with ‘All India’ ramification, the application may be directly made to the Standing Committee. After forming a prima facie view that there is an element of profiteering, the Standing Committee shall refer the matter for detailed investigation to the Director General of Safeguards, CBEC, which shall report its findings to the NAA.

In the event the NAA confirms there is a necessity to apply anti-profiteering measures, it has the authority to order the supplier / business concerned to reduce its prices or return the undue benefit availed by it along with interest to the recipient of the goods or services. If the undue benefit cannot be passed on to the recipient, it can be ordered to be deposited in the Consumer Welfare Fund. In extreme cases, the NAA can impose a penalty on the defaulting business entity and even order the cancellation of its registration under GST.

The constitution of the NAA shall bolster confidence of consumers as they reap the benefits of the recent reduction in GST rates, in particular, and of GST, in general.

 

  1. TRAI Recommendations for the Telecom Sector

Telecom Commission on Tuesday accepted recommendations by the industry regulator to ease current spectrum holding caps, smoothening the way for consolidation triggered by Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd’s September 2016 launch.

The commission, the highest decision-making body at the department of telecommunications, approved raising the overall spectrum cap per operator in a telecom circle, or zone, to 35% from the current limit of 25%.

It suggested scrapping the current intra-band cap on operators that limited them to hold only up to 50% spectrum in a single band in a circle, said a person present at a meeting of the commission on condition of anonymity.

The commission also accepted the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s suggestion to set a cap of 50% on the combined spectrum holding in the sub-l GHz bands (700MHz, 800MHz and 900MHz bands) in a circle, the person said.

Under current provisions, an operator can hold up to 25% of the total spectrum assigned across all bands in a circle and 50% of total spectrum within a given band in a circle. The country is divided into 23 telecom circles.

The proposals need to be approved by the cabinet. If they receive cabinet approval, Vodafone India Ltd and Idea Cellular Ltd, which propose to merge, will not have to surrender spectrum in seven circles where they would have breached the caps as a combined entity.

This would also mean Mukesh Ambani’s Jio could look to buy the rest of the spectrum owned by his brother Anil Ambani’s Reliance Communications Ltd (RCom), especially in the coveted 800MHz band.

Under current spectrum holding norms, if Jio were to buy all of RCom’s spectrum in the 800MHz band, it would breach caps across 11 out of the 23 telecom circles. The hurdles faced by Vodafone-Idea and Jio would be cleared if the proposals are accepted by the cabinet.

“This would ease the merger process for Vodafone and Idea and also make it easier for Reliance Jio to acquire spectrum from Reliance Communications in the sub-1 GHz band. The possibility of additional spectrum offers an opportunity for operators to improve service quality,” said Mahesh Uppal, director of the communications consulting firm ComFirst.

A slew of telecom mergers and acquisitions, including the planned union of Vodafone and Idea, have followed the entry of Jio with free voice and data services that disrupted the industry. RCom plans to sell its wireless business assets by the end of March. Bharti Airtel Ltd has acquired the Tata group’s wireless assets virtually for free.

Last month, Jio said it would buy a majority of the wireless assets of Reliance Communications, which include 122.4MHz of 4G spectrum in the 800/900/1,800/2,100MHz bands.

“Even after the Jio deal, RCom is left with almost 50MHz spectrum in the 800MHz band,” a person aware of the details said on condition of anonymity.

Whether other companies, including Airtel, will also look to buy the residual spectrum left with RCom remains to be seen. “RCom would have to come back to the players and tell us what spectrum is left in which circle; only then we can take a call depending on the feasibility,” said another person with direct knowledge of the matter.

While an increase in spectrum caps is good news, it will also mean that telcos may stay clear of any spectrum auctions in the future.

“With the kind of data consumption that we have seen, operators would need additional spectrum, but we do not see a spectrum auction happening in the next 9-12 months as the companies are still optimizing spectrum portfolio. We would want to see the consumption of data after penetrating into deeper pockets of India. Spectrum need will come after more and more people come to 4G as they will consume data and they would need higher speed,” said Rajan Mathews, director general at telecom lobby group Cellular Operator Association of India.

When contacted, Airtel, Idea Cellular and RCom declined to comment. A quey emailed to Jio was not answered.

“Vodafone welcomes Telecom Commission’s acceptance of TRAI’s recommendation for a higher cap on spectrum holdings… This will benefit customers, government and industry,” Vodafone said.

 

_Net Neutrality _____________

Spectrum Relaxation ______________

41. Relaxation on Bilateral Transfer Pricing Policy_________________________________ I-T department to allow APAs, MAPs with trade partners

In a move that could further improve India’s ease of doing business rankings, the Income Tax Department on Monday issued a clarification saying that it would allow mutual agreement procedures (MAPs) and advance pricing agreements (APAs) with all countries, abandoning a stance that disallowed such agreements with major trade partners like France, Germany, Italy, Singapore and South Korea.

India’s previously held stance was, if treaties with a particular country did not contain a ‘corresponding adjustment’ clause, then the Indian revenue department would not enter into bilateral advance pricing agreements or mutual agreement procedures with those countries. In other words, any transfer pricing disputes would be settled through domestic litigation instead of bilateral arbitration.

It has now agreed to entertain such APAs and MAPs, regardless of whether that clause was in the agreement or not. APAs are meant to settle potential disputes in advance, while MAPs lay out the procedure to settle a dispute once it has happened.

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  • 42.. White Paper on Data Protection Framework ______________________________________ The Committee of Experts on a Data Protection Framework for India (Chair: Justice B. N. Srikrishna) released a white paper on November 27, 2017.  The Committee was constituted in August 2017 to examine issues related to data protection, recommend methods to address them, and draft a data protection law.  The objective was to ensure growth of the digital economy while keeping personal data of citizens secure and protected.  The Committee sought comments on certain questions raised by it till December 31, 2017.  It will draft a law for data protection in India based on the feedback it receives.
  • Principles:  The Committee suggested that a framework to protect data in the country should be based on seven principles: (i) law should be flexible to take into account changing technologies, (ii) law must apply to both government and private sector entities, (iii) consent should be genuine, informed, and meaningful, (iv) processing of data should be minimal and only for the purpose for which it is sought, (v) entities controlling the data should be accountable for any data processing, (vi) enforcement of the data protection framework should be by a high-powered statutory authority, and (vii) penalties should be adequate to discourage any wrongful acts.

Scope and exemptions under the framework

  • Applicability:  The Committee observed that countries can enforce laws within their jurisdiction.  However, a single act of data processing could take place across different countries and jurisdictions.  Some of the questions asked by the Committee relate to: (i) territorial applicability of the law, (ii) extent to which the law should apply outside India, and (iii) measures that should be included in the law to ensure compliance by foreign entities.
  • Definition of personal data:  The Committee noted that it is important to define what constitutes personal information.  This is critical to determine the extent to which privacy of information will be guaranteed under a data protection law.  It sought comments on some questions which relate to: (i) what kind of information qualifies as personal data, (ii) should the definition focus on whether a person can be identified based on the data, and (iii) treatment of sensitive personal data.  Sensitive data is related to intimate matters where there is a higher expectation of privacy (e.g., caste, religion, and sexual orientation).
  • Exemptions:  The Committee noted that entities under the data protection framework may be exempt from certain obligations (e.g., certain actions taken by the state).  It sought comments on the categories of exemptions that should be included under the law, and the basic safeguards that should be ensured when processing data in these categories.

Grounds for data processing, obligation on entities and rights of individuals

  • Consent:  The Committee noted that consent is treated as one of the grounds for processing personal data.  However, consent is often not informed or meaningful.  In this context, it sought comments on the conditions that determine valid consent.  Further, it noted that one in three internet users across the world is a child under the age of 18.  A data protection law must sufficiently protect their interests, while considering their vulnerability, and exposure to risks online.
  • Purpose of collection:  The Committee discussed the principle where personal data must be collected for a specified purpose, and such data should not be processed for any other purpose.  Further, a related principle requires that personal data be erased once the purpose for collecting it has been met.
  • Participation rights:  The Committee noted that one of the principles of data protection is that a person whose data is being processed should be able to influence the processing.  This includes the right to confirm, access, and rectify the data.  The Committee observed that regulations of the European Union have recognised other rights such as the right to object to data processing.  Incorporation of such rights in the Indian law requires further assessment.  It also noted that the right to be forgotten has emerged as a contentious issue in data protection laws.

Regulation and enforcement

  • Enforcement models:  The Committee noted that once the provisions of the law are formalised, enforcement mechanisms must be structured to ensure compliance.  In this context, it sought comments on the enforcement tools to be used for: (i) code of conduct, (ii) breach of personal data, (iii) categorisation of different data controllers, and (iv) creation of a separate data protection authority.  The authority may be responsible for: (i) monitoring, enforcement and investigation, (ii) setting standards, and (iii) generating awareness.
  • Penalty and compensation:  The Committee discussed penalties for offences under the proposed law, and the authority which should have the power to hear and adjudicate complaints.  Further, it noted that awarding compensation to an individual who has incurred a loss or damage due to the data controller’s failure is an important remedy to be specified under the law.

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  1. Coastal Economic Zone_______ Setting up of Coastal Economic Zones

The National Perspective plan of the Sagarmala Programme has identified two maritime clusters for development, one in Tamil Nadu and other in Gujarat.  Fourteen Coastal Economic Zones(CEZ) have been identified along the coastline of the country in the National Perspective Plan of the Sagarmala Programme. These CEZs are aimed at promoting development of port-proximate industrial clusters, encourage port-led development, reduction of logistics cost and time for movement of EXIM and domestic cargo and enhance the global competitiveness of Indian manufacturing sector. The details of the CEZs identified under Sagarmala Programmeare as under:-

 

CEZ State Linkage Port Potential Industries
CEZ-1  

Gujarat

Kandla, Mundra Petrochemicals, Cement, Furniture
CEZ-2 Pipavav, Sikka Apparel, Automotive
CEZ-3 Dahej, Hazira Marine clusters
CEZ-4 Maharashtra

Goa

JNPT, Mumbai Power, Electronics, Apparel
CEZ-5 Dighi, Jaigarh, Mormugao Refining, Steel, Food processing
CEZ-6 Karnataka New Mangalore Petrochemicals
CEZ-7 Kerala Cochin Furniture
CEZ-8  

 

 

Tamil Nadu

VOCPT

(Tuticorin)

Apparel, Refining
CEZ-9 Karaikal Leather processing, Power
CEZ-10 Chennai, Kamarajar (Ennore) and Katupalli Steel, Petrochemicals, Electronics, Shipbuilding
CEZ-11 Andhra Pradesh Krishnapatnam Electronics
CEZ-12 Vizag, Kakinada Food processing, Petrochemicals, Cement, Apparel
CEZ-13 Odisha Paradip, Dhamra Petrochemicals, Marine processing
CEZ-14 West Bengal Kolkata, Haldia Leather processing

 

This information was given by the Minister of State for Shipping,  Shri Mansukh L. Mandaviya in a  written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha today.

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44.. Garment Sector

Introduction

India’s textiles sector is one of the oldest industries in Indian economy dating back several centuries. Even today, textiles sector is one of the largest contributors to India’s exports with approximately 13 per cent of total exports. The textiles industry is also labour intensive and is one of the largest employers. The textile industry has two broad segments. First, the unorganised sector consists of handloom, handicrafts and sericulture, which are operated on a small scale and through traditional tools and methods. The second is the organised sector consisting of spinning, apparel and garments segment which apply modern machinery and techniques such as economies of scale.

The textile industry employs about 45 million people directly and 20 million people indirectly. India’s overall textile exports during FY 2015-16 stood at US$ 40 billion.

The Indian textiles industry is extremely varied, with the hand-spun and hand-woven textiles sectors at one end of the spectrum, while the capital intensive sophisticated mills sector at the other end of the spectrum. The decentralised power looms/ hosiery and knitting sector form the largest component of the textiles sector. The close linkage of the textile industry to agriculture (for raw materials such as cotton) and the ancient culture and traditions of the country in terms of textiles make the Indian textiles sector unique in comparison to the industries of other countries. The Indian textile industry has the capacity to produce a wide variety of products suitable to different market segments, both within India and across the world.

Market Size

The Indian textiles industry, currently estimated at around US$ 120 billion, is expected to reach US$ 230 billion by 2020. The Indian Textile Industry contributes approximately 2 per cent to India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), 10 per cent of manufacturing production and 14 per cent to overall Index of Industrial Production (IIP).

Indian khadi products sales increased by 33 per cent year-on-year to Rs 2,005 crore (US$ 311.31 million) in 2016-17 and is expected to exceed Rs 5,000 crore (US$ 776.33 million) sales target for 2018-19, as per the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC).

The production of cotton in India is estimated to increase by 9.3 per cent year-on-year to reach 37.7 million bales in FY 2017-18. The total area under cultivation of cotton in India is expected to increase by 7 per cent to 11.3 million hectares in 2017-18, on account of expectations of better returns from rising prices and improved crop yields during the year 2016-17.

Indian exports of locally made retail and lifestyle products grew at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10 per cent from 2013 to 2016, mainly led by bedding bath and home decor products and textiles.#

Investment

The textiles sector has witnessed a spurt in investment during the last five years. The industry (including dyed and printed) attracted Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) worth US$ 2.68 billion during April 2000 to September 2017.

Some of the major investments in the Indian textiles industry are as follows:

  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), Government of India has approved a new skill development scheme named ‘Scheme for Capacity Building in Textile Sector (SCBTS)’ with an outlay of Rs 1,300 crore (US$ 202.9 million) from 2017-18 to 2019-20.
  • Future Group is planning to open 80 new stores under its affordable fashion format, Fashion at Big Bazaar (FBB), and is targeting sales of 230 million units of garments by March 2018, which is expected to grow to 800 million units by 2021.
  • Raymond has partnered with Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) to sell Khadi-marked readymade garments and fabric in KVIC and Raymond outlets across India.
  • Max Fashion, a part of Dubai based Landmark Group, plans to expand its sales network to 400 stores in 120 cities by investing Rs 400 crore (US$ 60 million) in the next 4 years.

Government Initiatives

The Indian government has come up with a number of export promotion policies for the textiles sector. It has also allowed 100 per cent FDI in the Indian textiles sector under the automatic route.

Initiative will be taken into consideration by Government of India.

  • The Union Ministry of Textiles, Government of India, along with Energy Efficiency Services Ltd (EESL), has launched a technology upgradation scheme called SAATHI (Sustainable and Accelerated Adoption of Efficient Textile Technologies to Help Small Industries) for reviving the powerloom sector of India.
  • The Government has planned to connect as many as 5 crore (50 million) village women to charkha (spinning wheel) in next 5 years with a view to provide them employment and promote khadi and also, they inaugurated 60 khadi outlets which were renovated and re-launched during the completion of KVIC s 60th anniversary and a khadi outlet.
  • The Textiles Ministry will organise ‘Hastkala Sahyog Shivirs’ in 421 handloom-handicrafts clusters across the country which will benefit over 1.2 lakh weavers and artisans.
  • The Gujarat government’s decision to extend its textile policy by a year is set. It is believes to attract Rs 5,000 crore (US$ 50 billion) of more investment in sectors across the value chain. The government estimates addition till now of a million units of spindle capacity in the spinning sector and setting up of over 1,000 units in technical textiles.

Some of initiatives taken by the government to further promote the industry are as under:

  • The Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) has revised rates for incentives under the Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS) for two subsectors of Textiles Industry – Readymade garments and Made ups – from 2 per cent to 4 per cent.
  • The Government of India plans to introduce a mega package for the powerloom sector, which will include social welfare schemes, insurance cover, cluster development, and upgradation of obsolete looms, along with tax benefits and marketing support, which is expected to improve the status of power loom weavers in the country.

Road Ahead

The future for the Indian textile industry looks promising, buoyed by both strong domestic consumption as well as export demand. With consumerism and disposable income on the rise, the retail sector has experienced a rapid growth in the past decade with the entry of several international players like Marks & Spencer, Guess and Next into the Indian market.

High economic growth has resulted in higher disposable income. This has led to rise in demand for products creating a huge domestic market. The domestic market for apparel and lifestyle products, currently estimated at US$ 85 billion, is expected to reach US$ 160 billion by 2025.

The Indian cotton textile industry is expected to showcase a stable growth in FY2017-18, supported by stable input prices, healthy capacity utilisation and steady domestic demand*.

Exchange Rate Used: INR 1 = US$ 0.015 as of January 4, 2018.

References: Ministry of Textiles, Indian Textile Journal, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, Press Information Bureau, Union Budget 2017-18

 

 

 

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45.

 National Power Portal (NPP)a Centralized Platform for Collation and Dissemination of Indian Power Sector Information

NPP to be a single point interface for all Power Sector Apps launched previously by the Ministry 

 

NPP is a centralised system for Indian Power Sector which facilitates online data capture/ input (daily, monthly, annually) from generation, transmission and distribution utilities in the country and disseminate Power Sector Information (operational, capacity, demand, supply, consumption etc.) through various analysed reports, graphs, statistics for generation, transmission and distribution at all India, region, state level for central, state and private sector.

The NPP Dashboard has been designed and developed to disseminate analyzed information about the sector through GIS enabled navigation and visualization chart windows on capacity, generation, transmission, distribution at national, state, DISCOM, town, feeder level and scheme based funding to states. The system also facilitates various types of statutory reports required to be published regularly.The Dashboard would also act as the single point interface for all Power Sector Apps launched previously by the Ministry, like TARANG, UJALA, VIDYUT PRAVAH, GARV, URJA, MERIT.

NPP is integrated with associated systems of Central Electricity Authority (CEA), Power Finance Corporation (PFC), Rural Electrification Corporation (REC) and other major utilities and would serve as single authentic source of power sector information to apex bodies, utilities for the purpose of analysis, planning, monitoring as well as for public users. The system is available 24×7 and ensures effective and timely collection of data. It standardized data parameters and formats for seamless exchange of data between NPP and respective systems at utilities.

The stakeholders of NPP are Ministry of Power (MoP), CEA, PFC for Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS), REC for Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana(DDUGJY), other power sector utilities in government as well as private sector, Apex Bodies, other government organizations and public users. The Nodal Agency for implementation of NPP and its operational control is CEA. The systemhas been conceptualized, designed and developed by National Informatics Centre (NIC).

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  1. Global Wealth Reports — Around the world, there was a new billionaire every two days in 2017.

That’s according to a report published Monday by the global charity Oxfam. The goal of the report, which is called “Reward Work, Not Wealth,” is to call attention to wealth inequality.

There are 2,043 dollar billionaires in the world, the report finds.

The growth in wealth of the world’s billionaires is eye-popping: Wealth of billionaires increased by $762 billion in 2017 — a sum which is enough to end extreme poverty around the world seven times over, the report says.

And 82 percent of the total wealth created wealth went to the top 1 percent while the bottom 50 percent of individuals saw no increase in their wealth at all.

Oxfam used data from Forbes and the Credit Suisse Global Wealth datebook for its calculations. Wealth is calculated as an individual’s assets minus debts.

A mere 42 of the world’s wealthiest people have the same amount of wealth as the bottom 3.7 billion people, according to new data from Credit Suisse, which the report highlights.

And in the United States, the three richest people — Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Warren Buffett — have more wealth than half the population of the US combined. That’s according to a November report from from the progressive Washington, D.C.-based think tank Institute for Policy Studies, which the Oxfam study also points to.

Jeff Bezos is the world’s richest person  

 

Of particular note, nine out of 10 of the billionaires are men.

It’s nearly impossible for workers to catch up with the world’s wealthiest. To highlight the disparity, Oxfam makes the following comparison: Zara founder Amancio Ortega made $1.59 billion in share dividends in 2016. Stefan Perssin, the son of the founder of H&M, made $805 million in share dividends in 2016. A woman named Anju in Bangladesh, who sews clothes 12 hours a day for export, makes just over $900 a year. Zara and H&M often have the clothes they sell made in Bangladesh.

Such extreme levels of wealth inequality must be fixed, according to one of the richest people in the world, Warren Buffett. The investor and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway is currently worth almost $92 billion, according to Forbes.

“The real problem, in my view, is — this has been — the prosperity has been unbelievable for the extremely rich people,” says Buffett on PBS Newshour in June, speaking about the U.S. economy. “This has been a prosperity that’s been disproportionately rewarding to the people on top.

“The economy is doing well, but all Americans aren’t doing well,” says Buffett.

Automation and digitization of the workforce is leaving workers behind in the United States, says Buffett.

“That’s the problem that has to be addressed, because when you have something that’s good for society, but terribly harmful for given individuals, we have got to make sure those individuals are taken care of.”

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 47. RKVY-Raftaar Farmers’ development scheme gets a three-year extension

 

In a bid to incentivise States to increase allocations for agriculture and allied sectors the, Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs on Wednesday approved the continuation of Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) for three years — 2017-18 to 2019-20 —renaming it as Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana-Remunerative Approaches for Agriculture and Allied sector Rejuvenation (RKVY-RAFTAAR).

“The financial allocation of the scheme will be ₹15,722 crore with the objective of making farming a remunerative economic activity through strengthening the farmer’s effort, risk mitigation and promoting agri-business entrepreneurship,” an official release said.

The RKVY-RAFTAAR funds would be provided to States as 60:40 grants between Centre and States (90:10 for North-Eastern States and Himalayan States).

Under the revamped scheme, about 50 per cent of the annual outlay will be provided for setting up infrastructure and assets, 30 per cent for value addition-linked production projects and 20 per cent of the outlay will be flexi-funds.

“States can use this (flexi-funds) for supporting projects as per the local needs,” the release added.

In addition, about 20 per cent of the annual outlay would be provided for implementing special sub-schemes of national priorities under RKVY-RAFTAAR.

Also, 10 per cent of the annual outlay would be provided for innovation and agri-entrepreneur development through creating end-to-end solution, skill development and financial support for setting up the agri-enterprise.

“The scheme will incentivise States in enhancing more allocation to agriculture and allied sectors. This will also strengthen farmers’ efforts through creation of agriculture infrastructure that helps in supply of quality inputs, market facilities, etc,” the official statement said.

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_ 48. Draft Norms for Drones

Govt unveils draft norms for drones, proposes unique IDs

Drones for civilian use will require a unique identification number as well as radio frequency tags, according to the civil aviation ministry as it today unveiled draft norms for the unmanned aircraft systems.

The regulations, once finalised, would permit commercial use of drones in the country, Civil Aviation Secretary R N Choubey said.

Drones would require unique identification numbers while nano drones, those weighing below 250 grams, would be exempt from seeking one-time approval, including the unique number requirement, as per the final draft rules prepared by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

“We are making the rules very very user friendly,” Choubey told reporters here.

Noting that the draft norms have been prepared after extensive consultations internally, he said the final and formal Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) for drones is expected to be in place by December-end.

Various restrictions have been proposed to ensure that drones are used only for valid purposes and there would be ‘no drone zones’.

“All drones are proposed to be operated in visual line of sight, during day time only and below 200 feet,” the ministry said in a release.

Drones have been classified into five categories, with those weighing up to 250 gram described as ‘nano’.

Those weighing more than 250 gram and up to 2 kilogram would be classified as ‘micro’ while ‘mini’ would be those having weight of over 2 kilogram and less than or equal to 25 kilogram.

‘Small’ drones would be those weighing up to 150 kilogram and above that threshold would be classified as ‘large’.

Drones would be issued unique identification numbers and those falling in the mini category would need to comply with remote pilot approval requirement.

Besides “RFID/SIM”, drones should have return to home option and anti-collision lights, as per the draft rules.

RFID (radio frequency identification) is used for the identification purpose electronically.

Apart from barring these drones to be operated within 5 kilometre of an airport, they would be restricted from “within 50 kilometre from international border and beyond 500 metre (horizontal) into sea along the coastline”.

Drones would not be allowed within “5 kilometre radius from Vijay Chowk (in national capital)” and also from a mobile platform such as a moving vehicle, ship or aircraft.

Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju expressed hope that the draft norms would encourage genuine and “discourage nefarious activities”.

Currently, aircraft rules do not cover use of drones as well as their sale and purchase. Aviation regulator DGCA had in October 2014 restricted the use of drones and unmanned aircraft system by civilians.

The draft norms would be put up for public consultations for a month. RAM MKJ

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  1. Geographical Indication _______

Geographical Indications

What is a geographical indication?

A geographical indication (GI) is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin. In order to function as a GI, a sign must identify a product as originating in a given place. In addition, the qualities, characteristics or reputation of the product should be essentially due to the place of origin. Since the qualities depend on the geographical place of production, there is a clear link between the product and its original place of production.

 What rights does a geographical indication provide?

A geographical indication right enables those who have the right to use the indication to prevent its use by a third party whose product does not conform to the applicable standards. For example, in the jurisdictions in which the Darjeeling geographical indication is protected, producers of Darjeeling tea can exclude use of the term “Darjeeling” for tea not grown in their tea gardens or not produced according to the standards set out in the code of practice for the geographical indication.

However, a protected geographical indication does not enable the holder to prevent someone from making a product using the same techniques as those set out in the standards for that indication. Protection for a geographical indication is usually obtained by acquiring a right over the sign that constitutes the indication.

 For what type of products can geographical indications be used?

Geographical indications are typically used for agricultural products, foodstuffs, wine and spirit drinks, handicrafts, and industrial products.

 How are geographical indications protected?

 

There are three main ways to protect a geographical indication:

  • so-called sui generissystems (i.e. special regimes of protection);
  • using collectiveor certification marks; and
  • methods focusing on business practices, including administrative product approval schemes.

These approaches involve differences with respect to important questions, such as the conditions for protection or the scope of protection. On the other hand, two of the modes of protection — namely sui generis systems and collective or certification mark systems — share some common features, such as the fact that they set up rights for collective use by those who comply with defined standards.

Broadly speaking geographical indications are protected in different countries and regional systems through a wide variety of approaches and often using a combination of two or more of the approaches outlined above. These approaches have been developed in accordance with different legal traditions and within a framework of individual historical and economic conditions.

Geographical tags in news

  1. the “Gulbarga Tur Dal” could receive the Geographical Indication (GI) tag, giving Kalaburagi district, often called the “Red Gram Bowl” of Karnataka,  a feather in its cap. “The tur dal grown here has a unique aroma and taste, which is lacking in tur dal grown in rest of the country or even the world.  The variety grown here takes less time to cook as well when compared to tur dal grown elsewhere.
  2. Indian breed black winged chicken, Kadaknath- A tug of war regarding the Geographical Indication (GI) tag rights of the Indian breed black winged chicken, Kadaknath, has broke out and the row has taken a serious turn after two BJP-ruled states Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh demanded claims to the prized bird. Madhya Pradesh had filed an application with the Geographical Indication (GI) registry office in Chennai in 2012 (Application No 378) claiming that Kadaknath originated from Jhabua district. — But, competition ensued immediately after Jhabua district found out that Chhattisgarh had also filed for a Geographical Indication (GI) tag for the same chicken, as Dantewada has been reportedly successful breeding of the bird.  In general there are a lot of formats to be considered before awarding the tag and they have applied under the breed preservation and conservation section.

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  1. Global Financial Development Report __

Strong regional and global integration have been central to countries’ rapid growth and reduced poverty. Few economic sectors can better illustrate integration’s potential benefits—and its significant risks—than the banking sector.

The period prior to the 2008 global financial crisis was characterised by a significant increase in financial globalisation, which coincided with dramatic increases in bank sizes. This was manifested both in a rise in cross-border lending and in the growing participation of foreign banks around the world, especially in developing countries. These trends resulted in: additional capital and liquidity; efficiency improvements through technological advancements and competition; and, eventually, greater financial development.

However, when the crisis hit, it also vividly demonstrated how international banks can transmit shocks across the globe. It became clear that systems in place to manage the risks associated with financial globalisation were seriously flawed. The results were devastating to economies and to people, halting progress in the fight against poverty, affecting their incomes, health, and prospects for years to come.

Not surprisingly, the crisis resulted in a re-evaluation of global banking, with some observers noting that it was partly responsible for its viral transmission across borders. There were indications that risk calculations were often confined to slices of financial activity, frequently overlooking systemic risk, and focusing on specific instruments. There were also concerns about global systemically important banks which were deemed too big and too connected to fail.

As the world economy slowly recovered, a backlash against globalisation led many developing countries to clamp down on the activities of international banks. Yet, according to the new World Bank Global Financial Development Report (GFDR) 2017/2018: Bankers without Borders, policymakers should carefully consider their stance toward international banks, as these institutions can inject the capital, expertise, and technologies needed for broad-based and equitable growth that reduces poverty.

The report outlines policy measures developing countries can take to reap the benefits of international banking, including vigorously enforcing property and contractual rights, guaranteeing strong supervision of banks, and upgrading their credit registries to enhance information sharing. This work is essential if countries are to fully recover from the crisis, and if they aspire to reach the very ambitious sustainable development goals, which seek to help all nations protect people and the planet, while leaving no one behind.

This GFDR, the fourth in a series, contributes to the financial sector policy debates regarding international banking. It builds on novel data, surveys, research, and wide-ranging country experience, with an emphasis on emerging markets and developing economies.

Three critically important areas of focus in international banking were emphasised, representing new trends, opportunities, and challenges for market participants, policymakers, and regulators.

First, South-South banking is on the rise and international banking is more regionalised. Globally, bank lending is procyclical, increasing during booms and falling during downturns. But in developing countries, the lending pattern of international banks is significantly less procyclical compared to domestic counterparts. However, regionalisation in the South limits risk-sharing and implies a larger exposure of an economy to shocks within the region. South-South banks may also bring increased risks stemming from more lax regulation in their home countries and could amplify credit booms in host countries.

 

Second, there is a shift towards alternative sources of funding. Large firms in developing countries increased their use of capital markets in the wake of the crisis. In developing countries, these firms also switched toward domestic banks and away from international banks. While alternatives need to be recognised, the important role of banks remains for the majority of firms in developing countries.

 

Finally, there is an influence of technology—fintech—on international banking. It’s likely to reshape competition in global finance as it will increase the speed and reduce the cost of global payments and transfers, financial inclusion, and cross-border banking. Technology can remove the need for a third party to clear and settle payments. Risks include the misuse of personal data, difficulties identifying customers, electronic fraud, facilitating illicit transactions, the need for consumer protection, and the lack of safety nets.  The key challenge here will be to regulate and monitor the development of the industry without overregulation.

Countries that remain open can continue to benefit from global flows of funds, knowledge, and opportunity—but the regulatory space is complex and, at times, daunting to navigate. Encouraging the right type of foreign bank presence or forms of capital flows—without causing distortions—is challenging but critical. Efforts to address these areas of work need to involve extensive cross-border coordination with regulatory bodies and international financial institutions, and through South-South exchanges.

This report can help contribute answers to some of the most vital questions regarding international banking (e.g. addressing growth, poverty, shared prosperity, the stability of the financial system), with an aim to inform the debate that is taking place among policymakers—and to provide tailored solutions to some of the more critical development challenges.

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51.

the global Financial Secrecy Index (FSI) 2018

 report has published a study conducted by the Tax Justice Network in conjunction with Transparency International, a global coalition against corruption.

A total of 112 ‘Secrecy Jurisdictions’ were sampled – a term alternate to the more widely used term tax havens – use secrecy to attract illicit and illegitimate or abusive financial flows, a release available to the Ghana News Agency said.

It said Ghana scored more than average in ownership registration, integrity of tax and financial regulation, international standards and cooperation but performed abysmally under legal entity transparency, which entails public company ownership, public company accounts, country-by-country reporting, corporate tax disclosure and legal entity identifier, scoring “exceptionally secretive.”

The report is puzzled that government is positioning to re-establish an International Financial Services Centre (IFSC), a secrecy jurisdiction, knowing it failed in its quest to become one a decade ago.

It said beyond the dangers of IFSCs in facilitating money laundering and other illicit financial flows it added the ability of the central bank to effectively regulate the financial system was questionable.

The report said given the secretive nature of IFSC and the inability of government and Parliament to pass the Right to Information Bill – to access reliable and timely information – in addition to the failure of the Central Bank to carry out a rigorous impact assessment on how the economy fared when the Barclays Bank Ghana Limited (BBGL) was granted offshore banking license, leave much to be desired.

Topping the list is Switzerland, followed by US, Cayman Islands, Hong Kong, Singapore, Luxembourg, Germany, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates and Guernsey, in the first 10 ranking.

Kenya occupies the 27 position, Liberia 38, Mauritius 49, South Africa 50, Tanzania 75, Botswana 103 and the Gambia ranking 106, as part of the African showing in the global league.

The report estimates $21 to $32 trillion of private financial wealth is located, untaxed or lightly taxed, in secrecy jurisdictions around the world.

It said illicit cross-border financial flows have been estimated at $1-$1.6 trillion per year, dwarfing the $135 billion or so in global foreign aid noting African countries alone since the 1970s have jointly lost over $1 trillion in capital flight, while combined external debts are less than $200 billion.

So Africa is a major net creditor to the world – but its assets are in the hands of a wealthy élite, protected by offshore secrecy; while the debts are shouldered by broad African populations making all poor and rich countries like Greece, Italy and Portugal, for example, suffering state loot via offshore secrecy.

It said a global industry has evolved involving the world’s biggest banks, law practices, accounting firms and specialist providers who design and market secretive offshore structures for their tax- and law-dodging clients.

The report said in providing secrecy, the offshore world corrupts and distorts markets and investments, shaping them in ways that have nothing to do with efficiency.

“The secrecy world creates a criminogenic hothouse for multiple evils including fraud, tax cheating, escape from financial regulations, embezzlement, insider dealing, bribery, money laundering, and plenty more. It provides multiple ways for insiders to extract wealth at the expense of societies, creating political impunity and undermining the healthy ‘no taxation without representation’ bargain that has underpinned the growth of accountable modern nation states. Many poorer countries, deprived of tax and haemorrhaging capital into secrecy jurisdictions, rely on foreign aid handouts,” it said.

The edifice of global financial secrecy has been weakened by advocacy and as mandated by the G20 countries for Organisation for Economic Cooperation Development (OECD)to fashion modalities – but it remains fully alive and hugely destructive. Despite what you may have read in the media, Swiss banking secrecy is far from dead. Without sustained political pressure from millions of people, the momentum could be lost.

The only realistic way to address these problems comprehensively is to tackle the menace directly by confronting offshore secrecy and the global infrastructure that creates it, the report said.

 

 

Also read —   Public Utilities Services ______________

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  1. Audit of Aviation Sector in India _______

The UN aviation watchdog ICAO has concluded its audit of the country’s aviation sector and according to preliminary feedback it was “satisfied” with the regulatory mechanism, the government said today.

A five-member audit team of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) was in India between November 6 and November 16 as part of its universal safety oversight audit programme.

The team appraised six different areas, including personnel licencing, airworthiness, operations, legislation and organisation.

The team members visited Chennai, Mumbai and that Civil Aviation Training College in Allahabad to inspect implementation of safety procedures laid down by the ICAO and India’s aviation regulatory body Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

“As per preliminary feedback, the audit team was satisfied with the safety system put in place by the safety regulator,” according to a statement issued by the Ministry of Civil Aviation.

The audit involved verification of response provided by the DGCA to certain protocol questions sent by the ICAO.
The ICAO audit carries a lot of weight globally and is crucial for India’s aviation sector, which has emerged as one of the fastest growing domestic aviation markets in the world.

To ensure that global aviation safety measures are complied with, the ICAO regularly carries out the universal safety oversight audit of its member states.

After an audit in 2012, the ICAO had placed India in its list of 13 worst-performing nations. Subsequently, a similar exercise carried out in 2014 by the US regulator Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) downgraded India’s aviation safety ranking, bringing it below Pakistan and on par with countries such as Ghana, Barbados and Bangladesh.

As a result, Indian airlines were not allowed to add new routes to the US or sign commercial agreements with US airlines during this period.

The rating was restored to the top category in 2015, when India reportedly scored better than the global average in airworthiness, air navigation services, operations and licensing.

 

 

 

  1. Value Engineering Programme ______ Ministry of Road Transport & Highways to implement Value Engineering Programme to promote use of new technologies, materials and equipment in highways projects

    Reconstitutes National Panel of Experts to resolve technical issues regarding use of new technology/ materials/equipment 

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, has decided to implement a “Value Engineering Program” to promote the use of new technologies, materials, and equipment in highways projects executed either under PPP mode or public funding mode. The objective of the programme is to use innovative technology, materials and equipment to reduce the cost of projects and make them more environment friendly, while simultaneously ensuring that the roads or bridges and other assets get constructed much faster, are structurally stronger and more durable.  The Value Engineering Programme is expected to

  • increase speed of construction,
  • reduce construction cost,
  • increase asset durability and
  • improve aesthetics and safety.

The Ministry had constituted a National Panel of Experts (NPE) last year, for approving  proposals pertaining to deployment of (a) new/innovative/alternative materials, (b) new/innovative/alternative technologies and (c) new/innovative/alternative equipment in the highway sector. This panel has been reconstituted last week to include the following members :

Sl.No. Name of Experts
1.   Shri        S.R.     Tambe,      Ex.     Secretary               PWD,Maharashtra Chairman
2. Prof. Ravi Sinha, IIT Mumbai Co-Chairman
3. Prof. A. Veeraraghavan, IIT Chennai Member
4. Dr. Sunil Bose, Deputy Director CRRI Member
5. Prof. K.S. Reddy, IIT Kharagpur Member
6. Shri S.K. Dharmadhikari Member
7. Dr. Prakash W. Kaskhedikar Member
8. Chief Engineer — S&R (Bridge) Member Secretary for Bridge works
9. Chief Engineer — S&R (Road) Member Secretary for Road works

 

The NPE will examine all technical matters involving the new technologies, materials and equipment referred to it by the concerned Engineers or concessionaires/ contractors. The NPE will also resolve the technical issues which arise as a result of difference in view between engineers and concessionaires/contractors regarding implementation of the new and innovative technologies, materials and equipment. In addition, it  will also decide about the need for field trials of any new or innovative technology/materials/ equipment before its adoption, and  finalize associated design approaches, construction methodologies/sequences as well as the relevant specifications/codes/ guidelines so that the contractor may use the proposed new/alternative materials/technologies/ equipment in project highway.

 

54.

 Logistic Sector Gets Infrastructure Status — The government has given infrastructure status to logistics sector, covering cold chain and warehousing facilities, a move that is likely to attract more funding at competitive rates for these segments.

The government has been working on ways to attract more investments into transport and logistics as part of efforts to bolster infrastructure development in the country.

Amending the existing framework, a notification issued by the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) has widened the category of infrastructure sub-sectors to “transport and logistics” from the earlier sub-head of “transport”.

Having the infrastructure status would help the logistics sector get credit at competitive rates and on a long-term basis as rising logistics cost impacts global competitiveness of exporters.

Logistics costs of exports are very high in India and due to this, Indian goods are less competitive in global markets.

The definition of logistics includes industrial parks, warehouses, cold storages and transportation.

According to the notification, logistics infrastructure includes “Multimodal Logistics Park comprising Inland Container Depot (ICD) with minimum investment of Rs 50 crore and minimum area of 10 acre”.

Further, a cold chain facility having an investment of at least Rs 15 crore as well as warehousing facility with investment of minimum Rs 25 crore would come under logistics infrastructure. In both cases, the facilities should also have a minimum required area.

As part of the changes in the classification, the DEA — which comes under the finance ministry — has updated the ‘Harmonised Master List of Infrastructure Sub-sectors’.

Besides transport and logistics, the list comprises energy, water and sanitation, communication, social and commercial infrastructure.

Roads and bridges, ports, shipyards, inland waterways, airport, railway track, tunnels, viaducts, terminal infrastructure including stations and adjoining commercial infrastructure are all part of the transport and logistics classification.

Urban public transport and logistics infrastructure are also part of it. NKD RAM SA

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SECURITY

  1. Urban Terror________________________ The sniper attack by a “lone wolf”, which took a heavy toll of innocent lives at a Sunday night country music concert in Las Vegas, has been described as the deadliest shoot-out in modern US history. This happened in the richest and most powerful democracy in the world on the heels of similar attacks carried out by small groups of terrorists in London. The change in the pattern of global urban terrorist attacks is clearly discernible. Instead of large groups of trained and armed terrorists attacking targets selected by their masters, we see lone wolf attackers targeting large gatherings.

As a former internal security professional, I am struck by the contrast in the reactions to such attacks by the political leadership, public, police and media in the US and those in our own country. The US president, after expressing grief, profusely thanked the Las Vegas Police for their “miraculous response” to the attack, and extolled their “exemplary professionalism”. Police agencies, local and federal, were on the same page. The electronic media was not overreacting or speculating. The people on the streets of the city that never sleeps were quiet, not indulging in rumour mongering or spreading panic. There was no politicking, blame games or mudslinging.

A comparison of these reactions to those witnessed after the last major terrorist attack in India — Mumbai, 26/11 — is not out of place. Mumbai Police, one of the finest metropolitan police forces in the country, was taken by surprise and was ill-prepared to respond to such an attack. It reached out to the Indian Navy which had helicopter-borne commandos, who did fly around but did not engage the attackers. The NSG (Black Cat) Commandos who flew out from Delhi reached Mumbai in about eight long hours, and could locate the attackers and neutralise them but not before 166 innocent persons including four Mumbai Police bravehearts were killed. About the role of certain sections of the electronic media, the less said the better. The blame game over intelligence and police failure went on and on. A committee was constituted to go into the lapses and some progress has been made in training and equipping the Maharashtra and Mumbai Police with their own commandos.

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  1. Comprehensive Integrated Border Management System (CIBMS) _____________ On September 30, 2017, Border Security Force (BSF) personnel detected a cross-border tunnel in the forest area of Damala nullah in Jammu’s Arnia sub-sector. The tunnel, reportedly 14 feet long, three feet high and 2.5 feet wide, was designed to facilitate the easy infiltration of terrorists from Pakistan into India. This was the second such tunnel discovered in the Jammu sector along the India-Pakistan international boundary during 2017 and the fifth since 2012. The four other tunnels discovered were in Ramgarh sub-sector (February 2017), Allah Mai de Kothe, R S Pura Sector (March 2016), Pallanwala sector (August 2014), and Shakkergarh area (July 2012).1Besides tunnels, the Jammu sector has also witnessed quite a few instances of successful infiltration by terrorists during the past couple of years as a prelude to attacks on strategic installations — prominent among these being the Pathankot and Uri terrorist attacks in 2016. These incidents have not only raised serious concerns about the efficacy of the existing border security system in thwarting such breaches but also a consequent demand for the deployment of high-tech border surveillance equipment by the BSF.

The use of high-tech solutions for border security was being considered by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) since 2012 when it released an Expression of Interest (EoI) for a Comprehensive Integrated Border Management System (CIBMS). In 2014, the BSF also submitted a detailed report on CIBMS to the MHA, but no decision was taken to implement the system until January 2016. The trigger for implementing the CIBMS was the Pathankot terrorist attack, which took place on the intervening night of January 1-2, 2016,2 and the subsequent warning by the division bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court that if no decision to protect the India-Pakistan border were taken by February 16, 2016, stern action would be taken against the officials of the MHA.3

Following the High Court’s intervention, the Union Home Secretary convened a meeting on January 29, 2016 and sanctioned the implementation of CIBMS through two pilot projects. The aim of the pilot projects was to test the CIBMS on various parameters such as requirement of manpower, user friendliness, technical training, repair and maintenance. At present, the CIBMS is being implemented along two stretches in the Jammu sector of the India-Pakistan border. The two stretches were selected for their difficult terrain characterised by several cross-border streams and dense growth of elephant grass. The fact that several intruders were arrested with large consignments of heroin and fake Indian currency notes in these stretches highlights their vulnerability. A cross-border tunnel had also been discovered in one of the selected stretches. On March 22, 2016, the BSF issued a request for proposal inviting technological solutions for the CIBMS.4

That the MHA is keen on finding high-tech solutions to secure the border is further reinforced by its March 29, 2017 decision to constitute a high-level committee on Security and Border Protection under the chairmanship of Madhukar Gupta, a former Home Secretary. Besides finding gaps in the fencing and other vulnerabilities along the India-Pakistan border and strengthening manpower, the committee was explicitly tasked to recommend technological solutions to secure the international border.5 To facilitate the task, two directors from the Indian Institute for Technology (IIT) were included in the committee. The Committee submitted its Report on March 14, 2017.

Existing System of Border Guarding

The emphasis on the use of high-tech gadgets for border security is not new. The need for effective technical means to prevent infiltration along the India-Pakistan border first arose during the 1980s when Punjab was in the grip by militancy and numerous incidents of infiltration by Sikh militants were observed. At that time, the BSF was provided with night surveillance capabilities such as Passive Night Vision Goggles (PNG), Night Weapon Sights (NWS), Hand Held Search Lights (HHSL), Hand Held Deep Search Metal Detectors (HHMD), etc. In subsequent years, as cross-border threats increased and the BSF embarked on a modernisation process, the organisation acquired more sophisticated devices such as Hand Held Thermal Imagery (HHTI) systems, Long Range Reconnaissance Observation Systems (LORROS), Battle Field Surveillance Radars (BFSR), etc.6These equipment proved to be game changers and force multipliers by enhancing the detection capabilities of BSF personnel and resulted in many apprehensions.

Despite these successes, sustained and successful attempts by infiltrators in breaching the international border continued, which, in turn, compelled the BSF to review the effectiveness of the existing electronic surveillance systems. An in-depth assessment of the existing border management system revealed that it suffered from a number of shortcomings which hampered effective functioning. Some of the shortcomings highlighted were: a) the high-tech equipment being used did not provide all-round security and did not work in adverse climatic conditions; b) significant gaps remained at rivers and nullahs running along the fences; c) being manpower intensive, the system was not effective in providing rest and relief to BSF troops; and, d) it is not an integrated system and therefore failed to provide a common operating picture at all levels.7 Given these shortcomings, the BSF argued that a new, efficient and high-tech surveillance system for border guarding is urgently required to prevent infiltration by terrorists and smugglers.

The CIBMS

The CIBMS is touted as a more robust and integrated system that is capable of addressing the gaps in the present system of border security by seamlessly integrating human resources, weapons, and high-tech surveillance equipment. It has three main components: a) new high-tech surveillance devices such as sensors, detectors, cameras, ground-based radar systems, micro-aerostats, lasers as well as existing equipment for round-the-clock surveillance of the international border; b) an efficient and dedicated communication network including fibre optic cables and satellite communication for transmitting data gathered by these diverse high-tech surveillance and detection devices; and c) a command and control centre to which the data will be transmitted in order to apprise the senior commanders about the happenings on the ground and thus providing a composite picture of the international border. A composite picture would help senior commanders analyse and classify the threat and mobilise resources accordingly to assist the field commander in his response. The purpose of the CIBMS is to eventually replace manual surveillance/patrolling of the international borders by electronic surveillance and organising the BSF personnel into quick reaction teams to enhance their detection and interception capabilities. Other factors such as power back up, training of the BSF personnel in handling the sophisticated equipment, and maintenance of the equipment are incorporated into the CIBMS project.8

The use of high-tech equipment as an integrated instrument for border security has been experimented in various countries. Many, including the United States, have tried high-tech solutions for securing their borders, but with mixed results. In this context, a review of the Secure Border Initiative net (SBI net) of the United States provides a clearer picture of the likely problems that the BSF might face while implementing the CIBMS.

The SBInet Programme

Following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) launched the Secure Border Initiative (SBI) in November 2005 and described it “as a departure from the traditional ways of thinking about border security”.9 In April 2006, the DHS launched the high-tech component of the Secure Border Initiative-network called SBInet. SBInet was to comprise of “surveillance technologies, such as sensors, cameras, and radars, as well as command, control, communications, and intelligence (C3I) technologies, including software and hardware to produce a Common Operating Picture (COP).”10 SBInet was implemented as a pilot project along two stretches of the US-Mexico border spanning 53 miles in the Tucson sector. The projects were operationalised in February and August 2010 in Tucson and Ajo respectively.

But the programme did not prove to be a success story in border surveillance. In 2010, the DHS conducted an assessment of the SBInet programme to evaluate its viability and cost effectiveness based on inputs from field agents at the border, quantitative and science-based analysis of alternatives, and scientific analysis of in-house experts.11 The assessment brought out a number of lacunae. It revealed that the system suffered numerous technical glitches such as a large number of false alarms, line of sight constraints, unreliable information transmission, and equipment malfunction. The programme also suffered from shoddy testing and missed deadlines. Based on the assessment, the DHS concluded that the SBInet programme was not viable and cost effective as it had resulted in tremendous cost escalation to the tune of US$ 1.4 billion. It further stated that the programme did not and could not provide a single technological solution to border security. In light of the poor assessment report, the SBInet was finally shelved on January 14, 2017.

It is noteworthy that SBInet was not the first high-tech border surveillance programme to have failed. Between 1997 and 2006, the US Department of Justice and the DHS had spent US$ 439 million on two electronic surveillance projects — the Integrated Surveillance Intelligence System (ISIS) and its successor American Shield Initiative — only to abandon them because of system failures.12 The assessment reports of those two programmes had similarly stated that 90 per cent of the sensor alerts were ‘false alarms’. Only two per cent of sensor alerts along the Mexican border resulted in apprehension, while along the Canadian border the figure was less than one per cent.13Like SBInet, these surveillance programmes were touted as force multipliers, but border patrol could not quantify the force multiplication benefits. Besides its many flaws, the ISIS was severely undermanned, especially in monitoring the output of the surveillance system.14

Criticisms of SBInet and parallels with the CIBMS

One of the criticisms levelled against the SBInet programme was that while the DHS was clear that it wanted a technical infrastructure that would complement the two other components, i.e., tactical infrastructure (border fence) and personnel, it was vague about the kind of electronic surveillance system it was seeking. So, instead of formulating well defined objectives and providing clear specifications, the DHS asked prospective contractors to create their own vision for the project. The DHS also failed to specify performance metrics to judge the final product.15

In the case of the CIBMS, a similar dependence on vendors for designing a suitable surveillance system can be observed. Thus, the BSF’s request for proposal advertised on March 22, 2016 clearly states that, based on the information provided by the BSF, bidders must arrive at their own conclusions about the solution needed to meet the requirements projected. Bidders were also asked to quote their own prices for the products they were offering.16 This clearly demonstrates that the BSF does not have the required technical expertise to offer clear guidelines to the vendors so that they can provide suitable products. This fact is further evidenced by media reports that the two attempts at testing the system were stalled due to technical mismatch and budgetary projections. It has also been alleged that because of lack of technical knowledge and market research, the BSF decided to waive off 50 per cent of the scores for critical requirements in order to accommodate vendors quoting low prices, thereby compromising surveillance capabilities.17

Another criticism of the SBInet was that the Custom Border Patrol (CBP) had claimed that its own officers were capable of managing the SBInet from command and control centres. In reality, they did not have the required expertise and handed over electronic surveillance to the contractors with little direction or oversight. Various reports highlighted the department’s over-reliance on contractors not only for carrying out departmental functions but also to oversee the management and outsourcing of these projects. In short, there were no systems in place to “oversee and assess contractor performance and effectively control cost and schedule.”18

In the case of India, it is widely accepted that the operation and maintenance of the existing sophisticated equipment remain a problem. At present, many of the high-tech surveillance devices deployed by the BSF are not optimally utilised because the required technical expertise is not uniformly available among the force’s personnel. Furthermore, the exorbitant cost of the electronic devices and the lack of easy availability of spare parts act as a deterrent against their use.19 As regards the establishment of a command and control centre, it is to be seen whether BSF officials have the required competence to manage it. Even if the control centres are manned by BSF officials, centralised decision making could hamper timely and effective response on the ground given that detection and interception of infiltrators at the border require a quick response which is achieved only through a decentralised decision making process. Besides the lack of technical expertise, erratic power supply and adverse climatic and terrain conditions in the border areas could potentially undermine the functioning of the sophisticated system.

The Arizona Border Surveillance Technology Plan

Learning from the failures of the SBInet programme, the CBP launched the Arizona Border Surveillance Technology Plan (ATP) in 2011 in the form of two pilot projects at Nogales and Douglas in Arizona. The focus of the ATP is on the following: a) technology that meets the needs of local border conditions; b) a multi-year effort to make it cost effective; c) a mix of fixed and mobile technology; and d) the use of non-developmental, that is pre-existing and tested, technology.20While issuing the RFP, the CBP also clearly stated that the “sensor should be able to detect a single, walking, average size adult, and provide sufficient high resolution video of that adult at a range up to 7.5 miles in daylight and darkness.”21 The project is being implemented by Elbit System of America at a cost of US$ 145 million.

Conclusion

Technical solutions are necessary to augment and complement the traditional methods of border guarding. They not only enhance the surveillance and detection capabilities of the border guarding forces but also improve the impact of the border guarding personnel against infiltration and trans-border crimes. However, caution must be exercised while advocating the use of high-tech and high-cost electronic devices for border security. The experiences of countries such as the United States that have employed high-tech devices demonstrate that not only are the costs of such devices prohibitive but that they also fail to provide a comprehensive solution to border security problems. Instead of high-cost and innovative technological solutions that require extensive technical expertise, a judicious mix of properly trained manpower and affordable and tested technology is likely to yield better results.

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  1. Digital Police Portal under CCTNS ___various organs of Criminal Justice System including Police, Courts & Prisons, to be linked with CCTNS database: Shri Rajnath Singh 

The Union Home Minister Shri Rajnath Singh has said the Ministry of Home Affairs will undertake steps to integrate the various organs of the Criminal Justice System such as the Police, Courts, Prisons, Prosecution, Forensic Laboratories, Finger Prints and Juvenile Homes with the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network & Systems (CCTNS) database. Launching the Digital Police Portal under the CCTNS project here today, he said this Interoperable Criminal Justice System (ICJS) will be a useful resource for all stakeholders including the policy makers.

Shri Rajnath Singh said the Digital Police Portal will enable citizens to register FIRs online and the portal will initially offer seven Public Delivery Services in 34 States & UTs, like Person and Address Verification e.g. of employees, tenants, nurses etc, permission for hosting Public Events, Lost & Found Articles and Vehicle theft etc. Besides, the portal will enable restricted access to law enforcement agencies on topics such as Antecedent Verification and make assessment of FIRs.

Shri Rajnath Singh said at present out of the 15,398 Police Stations under the CCTNS project, 14,284 Police Stations are using CCTNS software. Out of these 14,284 Police Stations, 100% FIRs are being generated under this software in 13,775 Police Stations. The Union Home Minister said the pace of implementation of the CCTNS project is satisfactory in all States. He said that out of 15,398 Police Stations across the country, connectivity is enabled at 13,439 Police Stations. Out of 36 States/UTs, 35 States/UTs are sharing CCTNS database containing seven crore records that includes 2.5 crore FIRs, he added. Shri Rajnath Singh said the MHA has released Rs.1,450 crores, out of which Rs. 1,086 crores has been spent by States/UTs.

The Union Home Minister said the CCTNS portal will provide investigator the complete record history of any criminal from anywhere across the country. He said the software offers Google-type Advance Search engine and analytical reports. Shri Rajnath Singh said the portal offers 11 kinds of search and 44 types of reports. Recently, the software was used to trace few mentally challenged women from Tamil Nadu in Uttarakhand and reunited with their families, he added.

Ministers of State for Home Affairs, Shri Hansraj Gangaram Ahir and Shri Kiren Rijiju, besides Director, Intelligence Bureau, Shri Rajiv Jain, DGs of CAPFs and Senior Officers of MHA and NIC were present during the function.

Speaking on the occasion, the Union Home Secretary Shri Rajiv Mehrishi said the CCTNS portal will form the backbone of the Criminal Justice System and this database will be subsequently linked with the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MORTH) database on vehicle registrations.

Addressing the gathering, the OSD, MHA, Shri Rajiv Gauba said the CCTNS portal will be a huge game changer, force multiplier and revolutionize the way Police works in the country. He laid stress on the data accuracy and completeness of the database to make it a success.

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4. Free Movement Regime with Myanmar __ Govt reviews pact with Myanmar on free movement along border

A large number of Rohingya Mulisms have fled Myanmar and are seeking refuge in India following a crackdown by the military in Rakhine province.

The ministry of home affairs (MHA) is reviewing the impact of a bilateral agreement with Myanmar, which allows free movement of people from the two countries within 16km of the Indo-Myanmar border.

The move comes against the backdrop of a large number of Rohingya Muslims fleeing Myanmar and seeking refuge following a crackdown by the military in the Rakhine province.

A visa-free movement regime (FMR) exists in the four states along the Indo-Myanmar border, under which people from both countries can stay for up to 72 hours in the area with effective and valid permits issued by the designated authorities on either side.

“Several border exit points were also visited (in the four) states. Meetings with the respective state chief secretaries, police chief commissioners and unites of Assam Rifles were also held,” the official said, adding that the visit was part of decision taken by home minister Rajnath in June to carry out a review of the border situation.

In a statement issued by the ministry of home affairs, Rajnath Singh was quoted as saying that militants and criminals were misusing the free movement regime.

“This regime has been in place keeping in view the traditional social relations among the border people.

It helps genuine people living in the close proximity of the border. However, it is misused by militants and criminals who smuggle weapons, narcotics, contraband goods and Fake Indian Currency Notes (FICN),” the statement said.

It went on to add “With fast improving security situation in this region, militants are denied hideouts here and some of them have relocated themselves across the border. Taking advantage of the free-movement regime occasionally they enter India, commit crimes and escape to their relatively safer hide-outs,”

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5.

Creation of Space, Cyber and Special Operations Commands ___________________ Five years after they were first proposed by the Armed Forces, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is expecting the three new tri-service agencies in the field of cyber warfare, space and special operations to be raised shortly. Their formation was announced by the MoD in July this year, and the proposal is with the government for approval. “The new Defence Minister is also keen on seeing them through, and we are just awaiting requisite approvals from the Law Ministry and other government departments,” said an official source.

According to sources, the proposals for the three new formations — Defence Cyber Agency, Defence Space Agency and a Special Operations Division — are with other ministries for approval as the resources for them have to come from “accretion and not under save-and-raise”. The approvals are expected “within a couple of months”, said sources, after which these agencies, to be headed by officers of the rank of Major General and equivalent in the Navy and Indian Air Force, will be raised.

The cyber and space agencies will be based out of Delhi, for close coordination with their civilian counterparts, while the Special Operations Division will be based outside the national capital. The Special Operations Division will have components of the Special Forces of the Army, Navy and IAF, and will be equipped and trained together for various external contingencies. The Army currently has Special Forces battalions, Navy has Marine Commandos (Marcos) and IAF has Garud. This division, which will be based at a location which already has training infrastructure, will have two SF battalions at its core, along with teams from Marcos and Garud, sources explained.

Working in close coordination with the National Cyber Security Advisor, the Defence Cyber Agency will be have over 1,000 personnel. These experts will be distributed to various formations of the Army, Navy and IAF, and will focus on non-civilian cyber issues, including safeguarding critical infrastructure.

The Defence Space Agency will have over 200 personnel, who will work closely with ISRO and DRDO for better utilisation and integration of space resources. This includes information sharing from individual satellites, and surveillance from other satellites which can then be shared with the concerned defence service.

In 2012, the Chiefs of Staff Committee had recommended creation of three joint commands — in the areas of cyber, space and special operations — due to their increased relevance in modern warfare. The new joint military doctrine, released earlier this year, also underscores the need to prepare the defence forces for the “emerging triad” of space, cyberspace and special operations for future combat. But it was only in July this year that the Defence Secretary apprised the Unified Commanders Conference that the Defence Cyber & Space Agencies and Special Operations Division would soon become a reality.

While the 2012 proposal envisaged commands to be headed by army commander equivalents, the current proposal is only for agencies to be headed by Major Generals. Sources said the agencies may eventually be upgraded to commands, after they have stabilised in their functioning. As per the 2012 proposal, a Navy officer was to head the cyber warfare command, an IAF commander was to be at the helm of space command and an Army officer would head the Special Forces command. It is expected that the same arrangement for division of agencies between the three services will continue even now.

 

 

 

  1. Integrated Check Posts _______________

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  1. What is INS Kiltan?

INS Kiltan is India’s first major warship to have a superstructure of carbon fibre composite material resulting in improved stealth features, lower top weight and maintenance costs. INS Kiltan is an indigenously-built anti-submarine warfare stealth corvette that will be commissioned into the Indian Navy by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman at the Naval Dockyard today. This is the third of the four Kamorta-class corvettes being built under Project 28. The ship derives its name from one of the islands in Aminidivi group of the strategically located Lakshadweep and Minicoy group of islands. Designed by the Indian Navy’s in-house organisation Directorate of Naval Design and built by Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers (GRSE) in Kolkata, INS Kiltan portrays the growing capability of the Indian Navy, a release by the Ministry of Defence said.

INS Kiltan is the latest indigenous warship after Shivalik Class, Kolkata Class and sister ships INS Kamorta and INS Kadmatt to have joined the Indian Navy’s arsenal wherein a plethora of weapons and sensors have been integrated to provide a “common operational picture”.

INS Kiltan is India’s first major warship to have a superstructure of carbon fibre composite material resulting in improved stealth features, lower top weight and maintenance costs, the Indian Navy statement added. The ship hosts a predominantly indigenous cutting-edge weapons and sensors suite which includes heavyweight torpedoes, ASW rockets, 76 mm caliber Medium Range gun and two multi-barrel 30 mm guns as close-in-weapon system (CIWS) with dedicated fire control systems, missile decoy rockets (Chaff), advanced ESM (Electronic Support Measure) system, most advanced bow mounted sonar and air surveillance radar Revathi, it said.

The ship in the future would also be installed with short range SAM system and carry an integral ASW helicopter, it added. The ship also boasts of the proud legacy of the erstwhile Petya Class ship of same name ‘Kiltan (P79)’ built in the USSR, which had actively participated as Task Force Commander in the ‘Operation Trident’ during the 1971 Indo-Pak war, the statement added.

 

 

 

  1. Island Development Agency ___________ The IDA was set up on June 1 this year following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s review meeting for the development of islands
  • Its first meeting is held recently
  • Decision: Ten islands Smith, Ross, Aves, Long and Little Andaman in Andaman & Nicobar and Minicoy, Bangaram, Suheli, Cherium and Tinnakara in Lakshadweep have been identified for development in the first phase.
  • the vision includes developing India’s maritime economy while preserving the natural eco-system and addressing the security concerns. He emphasized upon the need for sustainable development of Islands with people’s participation.

 

 

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9.. Enhancing Security of Bay of Bengal ____

_ 47 4.3. Brahmos __________________________ The Indian Ministry of Defense’s (MoD) research arm, the Defense Research Development Organization (DRDO), is expected to test fire an extended-range supersonic BrahMos cruise missile by the end of 2018, according to Indian government officials quoted by local media outlets last week.

The Indian Air Force (IAF) will test fire the extended-range air-launched variant of the BrahMos, designated BrahMos-ER, from a Sukhoi Su-30 MKI multirole air superiority fighter jet. The new missile will purportedly be capable of hitting targets at a distance of up to 800 kilometers.

In March 2017, DRDO for the first time test fired a BrahMos-ER missile with a “much higher range than the current range of 290 km,” the Indian Ministry of Defense cryptically noted.  Estimates put the range of the tested missile at 400-600 kilometers. Increasing the missiles’ range became possible after India joined the Missile Technology Control Regime in June 2016.

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The new 800-kilometer range BrahMoS-ER could be an indication that India will deploy the BrahMos as part of the air component of its nuclear triad. Analysts believe that the BrahMos can be modified into a nuclear-capable missile. The Indian MoD until now has not publicly confirmed that it is seeking a nuclear capability for the supersonic cruise missile.

The IAF last test fired an air-launched BrahMos-A supersonic cruise missile from a Sukhoi Su-30 MKI in December 2017. Two IAF Su-30 MKI fighter jets so far been converted to fire the 2.5-ton supersonic air-to-surface cruise missile. The IAF plans to retrofit up to 40 Su-30 MKI’s to carry and launch the BrahMos-A.

Upgrades to the aircraft include a reinforced undercarriage next to a number of mechanical, electrical and software upgrades. In order to carry nuclear-tipped BrahMos missiles, the Su-30 MKI would also need to be retrofitted with hardened electronic circuitry to withstand the electromagnetic pulses of a nuclear blast.

Each Su-30 MKI can only carry one missile in a transport launch canister. Around 50 Su-30MKI aircraft will undergo upgrades by the early 2020s.“The Sukhoi has a range of 3,600 km. Arming it with an 800-km range missile will increase its reach tremendously, and even more, considering the option of midair refuelling,” an Indian government official told the Hindustan Times.

The BrahMos, a joint venture between India’s Defense Research Development Organization and Russian rocket design bureau NPO Mashinostroyeniya, “operates on a so-called fire and forget principle and can be dropped from 500 to 14,000 meters (1,640 to 46,000 feet),” I explained elsewhere.

“The missile’s terminal altitude is as low as ten meters. (The ship-launched anti-ship version of the BrahMos can fly 3-4 meters above the sea to avoid detection.) The BrahMos is capable of traveling at speeds of up to Mach 3.0, making it one of the world’s fastest cruise missiles.”

The land-launched and sea-launched variants of the BrahMos are already in service with the Indian Army and Navy. The IAF’s air-launched variant is expected to become operational by the end of 2018.

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10.. Sampriti 2017 ______________________Joint Indo-Bangladesh Training Exercise SAMPRITI 2017, which is being conducted at Counter Insurgency & Jungle Warfare School, Vairengte in Mizoram culminated today with a validation exercise.

It is the seventh such exercise in the SAMPRITI series.  The exercise has been aimed to strengthen and broaden the aspects of interoperability and cooperation between the Indian and Bangladesh Armies. The 13-day long field training exercise commenced on 06 November 2017, which was culminated with a validation exercise on November 15-16. It was conducted in a progressive manner wherein the participants initially familiarised themselves with each other’s organisational structure and tactical drills. Subsequently, the training advanced to various joint tactical exercises by the two Armies.

Scenario of terrorists hiding in a village was painted for the validation exercise. It had commenced with joint briefings by the company commanders of both the Armies. Based on which troops established a cordon of the village. Validation Exercise finally culminated with a daring raid in the jungle terrain to neutralise the terrorists. A spectacular demonstration on room intervention drills was also conducted jointly by Indian and Bangladesh Army troops.

The final exercise was reviewed by Major General Md Moshfequr Rahman of the Bangladesh Army and Major General M S Ghura of the Indian Army. The combined exercise was an unprecedented success. Besides promoting understanding and interoperability between the two Armies, it further helped in strengthening bilateral ties. 

Joint Indo-Bangladesh Training Exercise SAMPRITI 2017, which is being conducted at Counter Insurgency & Jungle Warfare School, Vairengte in Mizoram culminated today with a validation exercise.

It is the seventh such exercise in the SAMPRITI series.  The exercise has been aimed to strengthen and broaden the aspects of interoperability and cooperation between the Indian and Bangladesh Armies. The 13-day long field training exercise commenced on 06 November 2017, which was culminated with a validation exercise on November 15-16. It was conducted in a progressive manner wherein the participants initially familiarised themselves with each other’s organisational structure and tactical drills. Subsequently, the training advanced to various joint tactical exercises by the two Armies.

Scenario of terrorists hiding in a village was painted for the validation exercise. It had commenced with joint briefings by the company commanders of both the Armies. Based on which troops established a cordon of the village. Validation Exercise finally culminated with a daring raid in the jungle terrain to neutralise the terrorists. A spectacular demonstration on room intervention drills was also conducted jointly by Indian and Bangladesh Army troops.

The final exercise was reviewed by Major General Md Moshfequr Rahman of the Bangladesh Army and Major General M S Ghura of the Indian Army. The combined exercise was an unprecedented success. Besides promoting understanding and interoperability between the two Armies, it further helped in strengthening bilateral ties. 

 

_ 11. NIRBHAY Supersonic Cruise Missile _____ NEW DELHI: India on Tuesday successfully flight-tested its indigenous Nirbhay (the fearless) land-attack cruise missile, which can deliver nuclear warheads to a strike range of 1,000-km, after a string of failures since March 2013.
The development is significant because the armed forces have long been demanding nuclear land-attack cruise missiles (LACMs), with ranges over 1,000-km and versatile enough to be fired from land, air and sea.

Often brandished as India’s answer to the famed American Tomahawk missiles, as also an effective counter to Pakistan’s Babur LACM, the Nirbhay had been in the making for a decade without much success till now.

The sub-sonic missile, designed to carry a 300-kg nuclear warhead, had failed during its first test in March 2013. Though the second test in October 2014 was a partial success, the third and fourth tests in October 2015 and December 2016 also flopped, leading to talk that the project may have to be scrapped.

But the fifth test on Tuesday, at 11.20 am from the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur off Odisha coast, was dubbed a “complete success” by DRDO. “The flight test achieved all mission objectives completely from lift-off till the final splash. The missile majestically cruised for 50 minutes, achieving the range of 647-km,” said an official.

Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman, on her part, expressed “optimism”, saying the successful trial would take India into “the select league of nations that possesses this complex technology of sub-sonic cruise missile capability”.

A series of successful tests of this ground-launched version of Nirbhay will pave the way for its induction into the armed forces, though its sea-based variant capable of being fired from nuclear-powered submarines will be the real game-changer.
Ballistic missiles like the Agni follow a parabolic trajectory, leaving and re-entering the earth’s atmosphere before hitting their targets. Cruise missiles like Nirbhay, in turn, are designed to fly at low-altitudes, almost hugging the terrain, to evade enemy radars and missile defence systems.

 
“Nirbhay has the capability to loiter and cruise at Mach 0.7 at altitudes as low as 100-metre,” said the official. After an initial blast off with a solid-propellant booster rocket engine to gain speed and altitude, Nirbhay deploys its smallish wings and tail fins in the second-stage to thereafter fly like an unmanned aircraft. It’s designed to be highly maneuverable with “loitering capabilities” to first identify and then hit the intended target with precision.

 
The supersonic BrahMos missiles, produced jointly with Russia, have already been inducted into the armed forces. But the BrahMos, which flies almost three times the speed of sound at Mach 2.8, is meant to carry only conventional warheads and currently has a strike range of only 290-km.

 
At least three tests of the extended range (450-km) BrahMos have been conducted after India joined the 34-nation Missile Technology Control Regime(MTCR) in June 2016. India, of course, has come a long way in developing nuclear-capable ballistic missiles like the Agni series, which have strike ranges from 700-km to over 5,000-km.

 

  1. International Multilateral Maritime Search and Rescue Exercise ______________________The 2017 International Multilateral Maritime Search and Rescue Exercise (IMMSAREX) was held in Bangladesh from November 26 to 28 2017. The exercise … Chief of the Naval Staff Sunil Lanba has embarked on a two-day visit to Bangladesh to participate in an International Multilateral Maritime Search and Rescue Exercise (IMMSAREX) being from November 26 to November 28 under the aegis of Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS).

IONS, an initiative which was started by Indian Navy in 2008, has 23 member countries and nine observer countries. This year the chair of IONS is Bangladesh. As a result, this is its first ever operational exercise called ‘IMMSAREX’, under the IONS Charter.

The exercise will be inaugurated by Prime Minister of Bangladesh on November 27, 2017 in Cox Bazar, Bangladesh.

Indian Naval Ship – Ranvir, Sahyadri, Gharial and Sukanya – along with one Maritime Patrol Aircraft P-8I will be participating in the exercise.

In addition to the conduct of the exercise, an ‘Extraordinary Conclave of Chiefs (ECoC)’ meeting of IONS is also scheduled on November 28, 2017, at Cox Bazar, which would also be attended by the Chiefs of the Navy of all member countries.

The ECoC would deliberate upon activities being undertaken by IONS in-addition to reviewing the progress made by three IONS Working Group (IWG) namely ‘HADR’, ‘Maritime Security’ & ‘Information Exchange and Interoperability’.

Apart from this, the Navy Chief will also be holding widespread consultations to boost bilateral naval ties with Bangladesh even as he will seek to explore new opportunities in naval cooperation.

Lanba will also hold bilateral discussions with Chief of the Naval Staff, Bangladesh Navy on November 27, 2017, and other participating ‘Chiefs of Navy/ Head of Maritime Agencies’.

“Indian Navy regularly interacts with Bangladesh Navy through the medium of ‘Staff Talks’ and other interactions, which include operational interactions including Port Visits, Passage Exercises, Training, Shipbuilding Cooperation besides regular participation by Indian Navy serving and retired officers in Victory Day Celebrations, held in Bangladesh to commemorate ‘Liberation War’ of 1971,” stated a press release issued by the Indian Navy.

The CNS during his visit to Bangladesh would also be gifting ‘War Memorabilia’ for ‘Liberation War Museum’ of Bangladesh. © GKToday

 

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 ENVIRONMENT______________________1. Pesticide Poisoning _____________

Maharashtra assembly to debate report on Vidarbha farm deaths

SIT probe report on deaths of 40 farmers in Vidarbha during July-September will be made public during Maharashtra assembly’s winter session starting on 11 December

  • he report of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) appointed by the Maharashtra government to investigate the deaths of cotton farmers and farm workers in Vidarbha during July-September will be made public only during the upcoming wintersession of the state legislature beginning 11 December in Nagpur, a senior agriculture department official said.
  • The report was submitted to the state agriculture department last week.
  • “Since this is an important issue which mainly concerns cotton farming in Vidarbha, the report deserves to be debated in the House,” said the agriculture department official who did not want to be named.
  • Another government official, one of the seven members of the SIT, who requested anonymity, said the report “did not exonerate the pesticide manufacturing companies and their ground level distributors”.
  • “It would not be proper to reveal more at this stage but we have not certainly given a clean chit to the pesticide manufacturers and their ground level associates. We have heard out all stakeholders including the manufacturers and it is now up to the government to take appropriate action,” said the member.
  • At least 40 cotton farmers and farm labourers died in Vidarbha, 21 of them in Yavatmal district alone which accounts for the largest area, 4.7 lakh hectares, under cotton cultivation in India, during July-September period due to pesticide poisoning.
  • The SIT headed by Amaravati divisional commissioner Piyush Singh was formed on 13 October and given three weeks to submit its report. It came under intense pressure from farm activists and NGOs (non-governmental organizations) as well as pesticide manufacturers who separately made their submissions.
  • Farm activists, non-profit organizations, politicians, supporters of organic farming and environmentalists held pesticide companies as well as the genetically modified (GM) Bollgard II cotton seeds and an “illegally sold and planted” variant of GM cotton seeds with herbicide tolerant traits primarily responsible for the deaths. Some, like the Delhi-based non-profit Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture (ASHA), have demanded that the Maharashtra government revoke the licences of all those pesticide manufacturers whose products have been found responsible for the poisoning cases.
  • But the Crop Care Federation of India (CCFI), the apex trade body of the crop protection industry, and some individual pesticide manufacturers also met the SIT and argued against drawing conclusions against the pesticide industry without scientific data that linked all 40 deaths and cases of poisoning to the spraying of pesticides. In fact, the CCFI has ruled out any “causal link between pesticide application and the alleged deaths”.
  • Kishore Tiwari, Vidarbha-based farm activist and chairman of a state government-appointed special task force to address the agrarian crisis, has countered the CCFI argument, saying the trade body was merely protecting the commercial interests of pesticide manufacturers. Tiwari, who made a representation to the SIT, said pesticides, GM cotton and the illegally-sold herbicide tolerant seeds were solely responsible for the deaths and that the CCFI had tried to mislead the investigation by arguing otherwise. When the SIT was formed, activists including Tiwari had objected to its composition saying all the seven members represented various agencies of the government and that there were no farmers’ representatives on it.

2. Disaster-Related Displacement in India __ No country for the internally displaced, especially if it is India

Nearly 2.8 million people in India were displaced last year due to disasters and conflicts linked to identity and ethnicity. Combined with poorly planned urbanisation, environmental degradation, climate change and geological hazards, India’s overall exposure to hazards makes the country most at risk of displacement related to disasters in South Asia.

There’s no country for the internally displaced, it appears, particularly if the country is India. A report by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) ranks us third behind China and The Philippines among countries most affected by displacement related to natural disasters in 2016. In this period, India saw 448,000 new displacements owing to conflict and violence. Also, close to 2,400,000 people were displaced due to natural disasters. “In recent years, displacement has mainly been associated with flood and storm events, although approximately 68% of India is prone to drought, 60% is vulnerable to earthquakes and 75 % of the country’s coastline is prone to cyclones and tsunamis,” the report said.

One in three of India’s population stay in poverty and substandard housing with less resources to cope, particularly in disaster-prone areas. Combined with poorly planned urbanisation, environmental degradation, climate change and geological hazards, India’s overall exposure to hazards makes the country most at risk of displacement related to disasters in South Asia.

Projects implemented as part of India’s development and industrialisation since independence have been made possible by the acquisition of land and the eviction and displacement of tens of millions, to build dams, mines and industrial plants.

For a long time, the issue of compensation and rehabilitation of persons displaced by development projects has generated a lot of sound and fury in India. Those affected are told about where they’ll be relocated without taking them into confidence. The displaced are offered land and monetary compensation. But the land is often arid and most times the compensation packages are inadequate. Many of those uprooted by the controversial Sardar Sarovar Dam built over the Narmada, for instance, which displaced an estimated 350,000 people in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra since its inception in 1984, are still waiting for reasonable rehabilitation.

Another big reason for displacement in the country is violence emanating from secessionist and identity-based movements and riots sparked by caste and religious tensions. But those displaced due to political strife within India, what the UN calls Internally Displaced People (IDPs), are not even on the State’s radar. Forced physical dislocation leads to several problems for IDPs: Harassment by police and officials of states where they have migrated to; exploitation by local contractors who force them to accept lower wages; no access to schools for their children and no health services for the family. Migration leads to disruption of cultural and community ties. Women and children — the most vulnerable of the population — fight the challenges of violence and threats of trafficking. Unfortunately, we still don’t have a legal framework to deal with IDPs. India has neither signed the 1951 UN refugee convention nor does its 1967 protocol allow the UN high commissioner for refugees — which works with IDPs — access to camps. Without a central law, the IDPs end up being a nowhere people seeking shelter and succour. It’s time the country listened to their voices.

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3. Pollution Related Death______________ Over a quarter of all fatalities in 2015 were in country: study.

With 2.51 million deaths in 2015, India has been ranked No. 1 in pollutionrelated deaths, according to a report by The Lancet Commission on pollution and health. China recorded the second highest number of such deaths (1.8 million). India accounted for about 28 per cent of an estimated nine million pollution linked deaths worldwide in 2015.

The Lancet Commission on pollution and health is a two-year project in which more than 40 international health and environmental authors led by environmental scientist Philip Landrigan were involve.

 

 

At 6.5 million premature deaths globally, air pollutionwas the leading cause of deaths in 2015. Among the world’s 10 most populous countries that year, the largest increase in numbers of pollution related deaths were seen in India and Bangladesh. But the absolute number of air pollution deaths in Bangladesh was only 0.2 million.

With 1.58 million, China had the second-highest number of air pollution deaths after India (1.81 million). But the number of water pollution deaths in China was only about 34,000, compared to 0.64 million in the case of India.

Nearly 25% of all deaths in India in 2015 were caused by pollution; Pakistan, China, Bangladesh, and Kenya too reported that one in four deaths were caused by pollution.

In the case of air pollution, the number of deaths in India from ambient air pollution was 1.09 million, while deaths from household air pollution from solid fuels were 0.97 million. In the case of water pollution, 0.5 million deaths were caused by unsafe water source, while unsafe sanitation caused 0.32 million deaths.

 

The results were published in The Lancet.

Several cities in India and China recorded average annual concentrations of particulate matter PM2·5 pollution of greater than 100 μg/m³, and more than 50% of global deaths due to ambient air pollution in 2015 occurred in India and China.

Deaths from air pollution were a result of diseases such as heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Pollution has been responsible for the most non-communicable disease deaths. “In 2015, all forms of pollution combined were responsible for 21% of all deaths from cardiovascular disease, 26% of deaths due to ischaemic heart disease, 23% due to stroke, 51% to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and 43% due to lung cancer,” says the report.

“Pollution is responsible for more deaths than a high-sodium diet (4·1 million), obesity (4·0 million), alcohol (2·3 million), road accidents (1·4 million), or child and maternal malnutrition (1·4 million). Pollution was also responsible for three times as many deaths as AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined,” it says.

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_4. Outcome of PAT Scheme _______ Union Power Minister Launches “PAT“ Scheme under NMEEE Energy Intensive Industries to Benefit by Trading ESCerts Energy Saving of 6.6 million tonnes oil equivalent by 2014-15

 

 

In line with the energy conservation and efficiency policies of the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) under the Ministry of Power, the Honorable Union Minister of Power, Shri Sushilkumar Shinde, today launched the Perform, Achieve and Trade (PAT) scheme under the National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency (NMEEE). Union Minister of state for Power, Shri K.C.Venugopal and Power Secretory, Shri P. Uma Shankar were also present at the inaugural function held at Dr. D. S. Kothari Auditorium, DRDO HQ Bhawan, New Delhi.

 

The launch of PAT scheme added another feather in the cap of BEE , along with other ongoing popular schemes. The Government of India notified the targets under the Energy Conservation Act, 2001 for 478 industrial units in India on 30th March, 2012. These targets are to be achieved by the units up to 2014-15.

 

The Ministry of Power and the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) have been in the vanguard of promoting the efficient use of energy and its conservation. This is further supplemented by the National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency (NMEEE) which is one of the missions under  the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC). The PAT Mechanism is one of the initiatives under NMEEE programme. It is a market based mechanism to further accelerate as well as incentivize energy efficiency in the large energy-intensive industries. The scheme provides the option to trade any additional certified energy savings with other designated consumers to comply with the Specific Energy Consumption reduction targets. The Energy Savings Certificates (ESCerts) so issued will be tradable on special trading platforms to be created in the two power exchanges — Indian Energy Exchange and Power Exchange India.

The function was attended by senior executives of industries, energy auditors , eminent persons and senior government officials.

 

Speaking on the occasion, Shri Sushilkumar Shinde said, “The PAT scheme is a unique and innovative programme with no precedence anywhere else in the world. PAT would become a valuable model for other countries to adopt for their own energy efficiency programmes with a business perspective. In particular, developing countries would have a proven framework to study and incorporate, with the knowledge that emerging economies can achieve energy savings in a cost-effective way that boosts economic growth. It is expected to bring a transformational change in energy efficiency through energy intensive industries.”

The Hon. Minister of State for Power, Shri K.C. Venu Gopal, said, “Today, we are gathered here to witness the start of one of our country’s most promising energy efficiency initiatives. This also has very strong climate change mitigation co-benefits. For the coming years, we look forward to an active participation from both currently notified DCs, and from units that are going to be included in the subsequent PAT cycles.”

 

According to Shri P. Uma Shankar, Secretary, Ministry of Power, “The design of PAT is the result of extensive consultations, which have contributed to its robustness and simplicity.  Upon implementation of the first cycle of PAT, it is expected to help our country save energy to the tune of approximately 6.6 million tonnes of oil equivalent by the end of 2014-15.”

Shri Shinde appreciated that the programme covers energy conversion chain from generation to the end use by industry. He further emphasized that at a time when growth stories are punctuated with increased constraints of energy resource availability and emissions released to atmosphere from the usage of such resources, promotion of energy efficiency comes as a first choice. In the global energy discourse, there is an emerging argument that energy efficiency should be treated as a resource as it gives the same outcome as any other energy resource and that too at a lower cost most of the time.

 

During the function, Shri Shinde also launched a book on PAT that covers a brief summary of Designated Consumers’(DC) Energy consumption and target fixation under PAT rules. This book has been designed to help the DCs to understand the do’s and don’ts related to the PAT scheme.

 

Apart from the book, PATNET was also launched at the function. PATNET will enable the designated consumer to fill all the formats related to PAT including Energy return in electronic form, which further accelerates the communication of DCs with BEE.

During the first cycle of PAT scheme i.e. from 2012-13 to 2014-15, eight energy intensive sectors such as Thermal Power plants, Iron & Steel, Cement, Fertilizer, Aluminum, Textile, Pulp & Paper, Chlor-alkali have been included. There are about 478 numbers of Designated Consumers in these 8 sectors and they account for about 165 million tonnes oil equivalent of energy consumption annually.

The scheme is unique in many ways, particularly from a developing-country’s perspective since it creates a market for energy efficiency through tradable certificates, called Energy Saving Certificate (ESCerts) by allowing them to be used for meeting energy reduction targets. These certificates can be issued by any of the 478 industries who are able to exceed their respective notified target, the value of the certificate being the excess achievement, more than the target set. The beneficiary industry can trade this certificate with any of the other entities (of the 478) that is unable to meet its target. Buying ESCerts has been allowed as sufficient fulfillment of compliance requirement without any penal action.

 

The PAT scheme has the makings of becoming a benchmark for design and implementation of policies and measures. It also highlights an innovative approach of introducing market-based instruments within a regulatory framework to encourage compliance. Successful implementation of the scheme could serve as a model for addressing upcoming challenges in a transparent and economically efficient manner.

  1.  _______

5. CO2 in Atmosphere Hits Record High: UN_ Concentration of CO2 in at “Globally averaged concentrations of CO2 reached 403.3 parts per million in 2016, up from 400.00 ppm in 2015.”

The concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere has hit a new high, the UN said on Monday, warning that drastic action is needed to achieve targets set by the Paris climate agreement.

“Concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere surged at a record-breaking speed in 2016,” the World Meteorological Organization said.

“Globally averaged concentrations of CO2 reached 403.3 parts per million in 2016, up from 400.00 ppm in 2015 because of a combination of human activities and a strong El Nino event,” it said. The Greenhouse Gas Bulletin, the UN weather agency’s annual flagship report, tracks the continent of dangerous gasses in atmosphere in the post-industrial era (since 1750).

The report also said that the last time Earth experienced similar CO2 concentration rates was three to five million years ago, when the sea level was up to 20 metres (66 feet) higher than now.

“Without rapid cuts in CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions, we will be heading for dangerous temperature increases by the end of this century, well above the target set by the Paris climate change agreement,” WMO chief Petteri Taalas said in a statement.

The historic agreement approved by 196 countries two years ago is facing renewed pressure following U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to quit the accord. But nations are set to press on with the task of implementing it at climate talks in Bonn next week.

“The numbers don’t lie. We are still emitting far too much and this needs to be reversed,” the head of UN Environment Erik Solheim said in a statement, reacting to the new report.

“What we need now is global political will and a new sense of urgency.”

The Greenhouse Gas Bulletin tracks concentrations of gasses in the atmosphere, rather than emissions with data compiled from a monitoring station in Mauna Loa, Hawaii.

 mosphere hits record high: UN

6. Illegal Sand Mining_________ Illegal Sand Mining: Steps taken by Government of India

According to the Geological Survey of India (GSI), riverbed mining causes several alterations to the physical characteristics of both a river and riverbed. These can severely impact the ecological equilibrium of a river and damage plants, animals and riparian habitats. The GSI has issued guidelines to address the massive damage that riverbed mining can cause, including lowering the groundwater table in a floodplain. Excessive pumping out of groundwater during sand mining, especially in abandoned channels, generally results in depletion of groundwater resources causing severe scarcity and affecting irrigation and potable water availability.

In February 2012, the Supreme Court of India ruled that approval under the 2006 Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) notification is needed for all sand mining and gravel collection activities, even if the area being mined is less than 5 hectares (12.5 acres). It also made some critical observations related to environmental impacts of sand mining. Then in May of 2012, the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) issued an order mandating compliance with the Supreme Court’s February 2012 judgment and directing that permissions be sought for all mining activities. These permissions must come from the respective State Environment Impact Assessment Authorities (SEIAA) constituted under the 2006 EIA notification.

Some of the key features of illegal sand mining are:

1. Sand was being dredged illegally and operations were claimed to be carried out non-stop 24 hours a day all the year round including during monsoons.
2. Round-the-clock operations were facilitated by mechanical dredgers and suction pumps which were deemed to be illegal.
3. Several mangrove forests had been destroyed by illegal construction of storage docks, roads and other infrastructure to facilitate easy removal, storage and transfer of sand from the river. This made Mumbai and the neighbouring regions more vulnerable to floods.
4. Local people were denied a voice in the matter. Despite opposition from several Panchayats (local governments), dredging operations were still carried out with impunity because a mafia controlled the trade and many involved were either close relatives or friends of local politicians.
5. The livelihoods of local fishermen were being threatened by the sand barges which often destroyed their nets. Yet the fishermen claimed that no one was willing to register an official complaint. They were instead threatened and intimidated against making a fuss about such incidents.
6. Many institutional processes to promote consultation with various stakeholders were short circuited when consultations were sometimes deliberately scheduled at times that were inconvenient to the villagers. For e.g. in a village, that was predominantly Muslim, consultation meetings were scheduled on Friday afternoons. Since religious commitments took precedence, most villagers could not attend the consultations. This was then construed to be a lack of participation and decisions were made on their behalf.

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) issued a restraint order against all sand mining activity being carried out across the country without environmental clearance. The order was passed in the light of the recent controversy surrounding the suspension of IAS officer posted as sub divisional magistrate (SDM) in Greater Noida in Gautam Buddh Nagar in Uttar Pradesh after she cracked down on the mining mafia. While passing the order, NGT reaffirmed the Supreme Court’s order  last year which banned any kind of mining of minor minerals, including sand, without environmental clearance from the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests.

A bench comprising justices Swatenter Kumar, U D Salvi, S N Hussain, and experts, D K Agarwal and Ranjan Chatterjee on Monday said that removal of minerals from river beds is posing a serious threat to the flow of rivers, survival of forests upon river banks and most seriously to the environment of river banks, especially those of the Yamuna, Ganga, Chambal, Gaumti and Revati rivers.

Some examples of steps taken by Kerala government to control illegal sand mining

• A round-the-clock complaint cell has been set up at the Collectorate Control Room for the public to register complaints regarding illegal sand-mining in the district. The cell will function for registering complaints. Appropriate directions will be given by the Additional District Magistrate (ADM) to revenue squads formed to check the illegal practice.
• Tahsildars have been asked to conduct raids, seize vehicles that engage in the illegal activity and bring them to the notice of District Collector.
• The Circle Inspector/Sub Inspector have been asked to take necessary steps to control the illegal activity by conducting raids as per the information received from the control cell.
• It has been asked to take the custody of the sand seized and sell it as per government rates. The Deputy Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) Thiruvananthapuram City and the Superintendent of Police (Rural) have been requested to provide armed police protection for providing protection to revenue squads.

Guidelines to control degradation given by Geographical survey of India

Following geo-scientific considerations are suggested to be taken into account for sand/ gravel mining:-

1. Abandoned stream channels on terrace and inactive floodplains may be preferred rather than active channels and their deltas and floodplains. Replenishment of ground water has to be ensured if excessive pumping out of water is required during mining.
2. Stream should not be diverted to form inactive channel,
3. Mining below subterranean water level should be avoided as a safeguard against environmental contamination and over exploitation of resources,
4. Large rivers and streams whose periodic sediment replenishment capacity are larger, may be preferred than smaller rivers,
5. Segments of braided river system should be used preferably falling within the lateral migration area of the river regime that enhances the feasibility of sediment replenishment,
6. Mining at the concave side of the river channel should be avoided to prevent bank erosion. Similarly meandering segment of a river should be selected for mining in such a way as to avoid natural eroding banks and to promote mining on naturally building (aggrading) meander components,
7. Scraping of sediment bars above the water flow level in the lean period may be preferred for sustainable mining,
8. It is to be noted that the environmental issues related to mining of minerals including riverbed sand mining should clearly state the size of mine leasehold area, mine lease period, mine plan and mine closure plan, along with mine reclamation and rehabilitation strategies, depth of mining and period of mining operations, particularly in case of river bed mining.
9. The Piedmont Zone (Bhabbar area) particularly in the Himalayan foothills, where riverbed material is mined. This sandy- gravelly track constitutes excellent conduits and holds the greater potential for ground water recharge. Mining in such areas should be preferred in locations selected away from the channel bank stretches. Areas where channel banks are not well defined, particularly in the braided river system, midstream areas should be selected for mining of riverbed materials for minimizing adverse effects on flow regime and instream habitat..
10. Mining of gravelly sand from the riverbed should be restricted to a maximum depth of 3m from the surface. For surface mining operations beyond this depth of 3m (10 feet), it is imperative to adopt quarrying in a systematic bench- like disposition, which is generally not feasible in riverbed mining. Hence, for safety and sustainability restriction of mining of riverbed material to maximum depth of 3m.is recommended.
11. Mining of riverbed material should also take cognizance of the location of the active channel bank. It should be located sufficiently away, preferably more than 3m away (inwards), from such river banks to minimize effects on river bank erosion and avoid consequent channel migration.
12. Continued riverbed material mining in a given segment of the river will induce seasonal scouring and intensify the erosion activity within the channel. This will have an adverse effect not only within the mining area but also both in upstream and downstream of the river course. Hazardous effects of such scouring and enhanced erosion due to riverbed mining should be evaluated periodically and avoided for sustainable mining activities.
13. Mineral processing in case of riverbed mining of the sandy gravelly material may consist of simple washing to remove clay and silty area. It may involve crushing, grinding and separation of valueless rock fragments from the desirable material. The volume of such waste material may range from 10 to 90%. Therefore, such huge quantities of mine wastes should be dumped into artificially created/ mined – out pits. Where such tailings / waste materials are very fine grained, they may act as a source of dust when dry. Therefore, such disposal of wastes should be properly stabilized and vegetated to prevent their erosion by winds,
14. Identification of river stretches and their demarcation for mining must be completed prior to mining for sustainable development.
15. The mined out pits should be backfilled where warranted and area should be suitably landscaped to prevent environmental degradation.
16. Mining generally has a huge impact on the irrigation and drinking water resources.

These attributes should be clearly evaluated for short-term as well as long-term remediation.

Thus, finally stated that miners can and should enrich rather than deplete the biodiversity as a corollary to their intervention in the ecology of their area of activity.

__________

 

 

  1. Guideline for Ground Water Usages by Industry

___ New guidelines for industries on groundwater use?

_______ New guidelines proposed by the Centre on groundwater usage by industries

The water ministry has proposed new guidelines for groundwater use according to which industries, mining and infrastructure dewatering projects—whether existing or new— will need to obtain a no-objection certificate (NOC) for extracting groundwater. The draft rules also propose to levy a new water conservation fee based on the quantum of groundwater extracted. The objective of the new guidelines is to manage groundwater properly. As per experts, however, the proposed guidelines will seriously dilute the present rules and don’t seem to have any scientific basis.

States allowed to lay water and optical fibre lines in forests

The National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) has delegated powers to the chief wildlife wardens of all states to grant permission in their respective forest spheres for laying water and optical fibre lines. The move has been made to reduce delays in projects such as drinking water supply, particularly in water scarce areas. However, similar projects going through national parks, sanctuaries and tiger reserves would need clearance from the state board of wildlife which will then send the details of clearance to the NBWL.

NHRC notice to Maharashtra government over farmers’ death due to pesticide poisoning

Following the death of 18 farmers in Maharashtra’s Yavatmal district from inhaling pesticides, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has sent notices to the state government and the agriculture ministry. As per the NHRC, most farmers in the country are not literate about the safe use of agricultural products and it is the duty of government agencies to make them aware of the right method of spraying pesticides. The commission has also ordered the state government to provide free treatment to those farmers still suffering from the infection.

NGT gets strict with Delhi government over rainwater harvesting

Once again the Delhi government has been rapped by the National Green Tribunal for not filing a status report on rainwater harvesting systems installed at government buildings, bridges and flyovers and whether they are functional or not. The NGT has said this was the last warning granted to the state government and in case of non-compliance of tribunal’s orders, the secretary concerned would be summoned. A week’s time has been given to the Delhi government to file the status report.

Ganga revival: NGT seeks status report

The National Green Tribunal has sought status report of compliance steps taken towards the revival of the Ganga river stretch between Gomukh and Unnao from the Centre as well as the Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand governments. A few months ago, the green panel had passed several directions for Ganga clean up which included declaring an area of 100 metres from the edge of the river between Haridwar and Unnao as a ‘no development zone’ and prohibiting dumping of waste within 500 metres from the river. The tribunal has also sought the course of action proposed in relation to phase-II from Kanpur to the UP border.

  1. _____________________
  2. Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals EU Funds CITES, UNODC and CMS Collaboration on Wildlife

Conservation The European Union has signed a €17.2m Euro agreement with three UN institutions – the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) and the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) – to support implementation of targets under the Sustainable Development Goal on life on land (SDG 15) in African and Indian Ocean countries.

The three UN entities will use the EU’s contribution for a project that fights poaching and wildlife trafficking throughout Eastern and Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean. On the occasion of the signing, the Director-General of the UN Office at Nairobi, Sahle-Work Zewde, highlighted that, “Providing technical assistance to Member States as they strive to achieve the bold targets of the sustainable development goals is a challenge of scale,” noting that SDG 15 (life on land) is no exception and that the EU funding would “ensure that the children of Africa will be able to witness the magnificent diversity its land has to offer.”

SDG target 15.7 calls for “urgent action to end poaching and trafficking of protected species of flora and fauna and address both demand and supply of illegal wildlife products,” while target 15.c seeks enhanced “global support for efforts to combat poaching and trafficking of protected species.”

The initiative aims to build on the various strengths and experiences of each agency in protecting wildlife across borders.

The project will support CITES, through its MIKE (Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants) Programme, to undertake efforts to reduce illegal wildlife killings in protected areas located in transboundary ecosystems. At the national and regional levels, UNODC will strengthen its Container Control Programme and enhance the capacity of criminal justice systems under the Global Programme for Combating Wildlife and Forest Crime. For its part, CMS will support and strengthen governance and collaborative management across transboundary conservation areas.

Speaking on the partnership, Stefano Dejak, the European Union Ambassador to Kenya, said the initiative aims to build on the various strengths and experiences of each agency in protecting wildlife across borders.

_______________________________

  1. 9. National Wildlife Action Plan and Secure Himalaya Environment Minister Inaugurates Global Wildlife Programme; Releases National Wildlife Action Plan 2017-2031 

Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Dr. Harsh Vardhan has appealed to the fraternity of wildlife experts and scientists to deliberate on various wildlife-related laws with a modern and scientific outlook. “If you can blend science and technology to the cause of wildlife, it will produce a drastic difference to the outcome of the Conference”, the Minister said. Inaugurating the Global Wildlife Programme here today, Dr. Harsh Vardhan emphasised that modern technology must be used to counter poachers and wildlife crimes. He pointed out that the effort has always been to resolve all issues related to wildlife in a harmonious manner. The Minister said that India has the largest participation of people living in the forests towards conservation efforts. Referring to the National Wildlife Action Plan released today, Dr. Harsh Vardhan said that the NWAP has been made landscape-based, rather than sanctuary, or national park-based. The Minister urged the students to become strong ‘Eco-messengers’ in the society.

Two documents – India’s National Wildlife Action Plan (NWAP) for the period 2017-2031 and Secure Himalaya were released on the occasion. The Plan focuses on preservation of genetic diversity and sustainable development. The NWAP has five components, 17 themes, 103 conservation actions and 250 projects. The five components are – strengthening and promoting the integrated management of wildlife and their habitats; adaptation to climate change and promoting integrated sustainable management of aquatic biodiversity in India; promoting eco-tourism, nature education and participatory management; strengthening wildlife research and monitoring of development of human resources in wildlife conservation and enabling policies and resources for conservation of wildlife in India. The Plan will help to mainstream wildlife conservation in development planning processes.

Addressing the gathering, Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri Ajay Narayan Jha pointed out that the Conference will provide a platform to build strategic partnerships between all the 19 nations and enable India to strengthen its enforcement mechanism to control wildlife trafficking. Shri Jha also said that the nations will learn from each other on strengthening peoples’ participation. The Environment Secretary emphasised that some new action issues have been considered in the Third National Wildlife Action Plan. These issues include – climate change and wildlife, wildlife health, inland, coastal and marine conservation and wildlife conflict mitigation.

Some of the issues that will be discussed during the Conference are – leveraging partnerships to promote shared benefits on public-private partnerships and opportunities in wildlife-based tourism that help promote wildlife conservation; inclusive growth infrastructure for wildlife conservation and ways to mitigate impacts of infrastructure in wildlife and innovative approaches to engage people in wildlife conservation.

Senior Biodiversity specialist, Global Environment Facility (GCF), Dr. Jaime Cavelier, Country Director, UNDP-India, Ms. Marina Walter also addressed the gathering. Director General, Forest & Special Secretary in Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Dr. Siddhanta Das gave the welcome address, while IG, Forest, Shri Soumitra Dasgupta delivered the vote of thanks. An Indian Forest Service officer, Shri Sujoy Bannerjee gave a Live performance of the theme song. Students and teachers from various schools, and representatives of NGOs were among those present in the gathering.

Earlier in the day, the delegates from GWP countries visited Rajghat memorial to pay tributes to the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi.

In another programme held earlier today at National Zoological Park to celebrate Gandhi Jayanti and Wildlife Week, 2017, around three hundred students from various schools of National Capital Region (NCR) participated.

*****

  1. ______________________________

55 5.9.1. National Wildlife Action Plan (NWAP) – for India unveiled the third National Wildlife Action Plan for 2017-2031 on Monday spelling out the future road map for wildlife conservation.

The third action plan comes after the first plan in 1983 and second from 2002 till 2016. The third National Wildlife Action Plan is unique as this is the first time India has recognised the concerns relating to climate change impact on wildlife and stressed on integrating actions that need to be taken for its mitigation and adaptation into wildlife management planning processes.

The plan was unveiled by environment minister Dr Harsh Vardhan on the inaugural day of the Global Wildlife Programme (GWP) conference on Monday. The GWP, initiated in 2015, is a World-Bank led partnership of 19 countries to promote the conservation and sustainable development by combating trafficking in wildlife. The four-day conference will give India an opportunity to get acquainted with best practices on the management of ..
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11 Secure Himalaya ______________________

.12. Water Management Committee Set Up in North-East Govt sets up committee for water management in north-east

Panel, headed by Niti Aayog’s Rajiv Kumar, to evolve strategy on hydropower, farming, water transport and fighting floods in north-east India

  1. With the aim of helping India’s flood-ravaged north-east, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government has set up a high-level committee to evolve a strategy for management of the region’s water resources.
  2. “The committee will facilitate optimising benefits of appropriate water management in the form of hydro-electric power, agriculture, bio-diversity conservation, reduced flood damage erosion, inland water transport, forestry, fishery and eco-tourism,” the government said in a statement on Wednesday.
  3. With one of the focus areas being hydropower, the strategy will also help establish first-user rights to the waters of the Brahmaputra. This comes in the backdrop of Japan joining hands with India to aggressively develop infrastructure projects in India’s north-eastern states.
  4. With the ministry of development of north-eastern region (DoNER) serving as the coordinating point, the committee will submit its report as well as a plan of action by June next year. This will involve dovetailing central and state government schemes across departments and autonomous bodies.
  5. The committee’s formation comes against the backdrop of floods that have brought life to a standstill in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur.
  6. According to data released by the Assam State Disaster Management Authority, 2017 has been the worst of the last four years in terms of floods. The committee will be headed by Rajiv Kumar, vice-chairman of NITI Aayog, the federal policy think tank, and will include secretaries from the ministries of DoNER, power, water resources, river development and Ganga rejuvenation, National Disaster Management Authority, departments of border management and space and the chief secretaries of all the eight states of the region.
  7. The committee follows the flood assessment in August by Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with the chief ministers of Assam, Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh.
  8. “The meeting noted that the optimum management of water resources is a cross-cutting task which requires multi-sectoral interventions and concerted strategy, including management of catchment areas in upper reaches involving concerned central ministries and state governments,” the statement said.
  9. The Brahmaputra, a trans-boundary river and among the mightiest in Asia, is unstable in its entire stretch in Assam except for a few places. India and China have joined issue over the diversion of the Brahmaputra river, which originates in Tibet.
  • “The Brahmaputra and Barak river systems, which account for one-third of India’s run-off, are highly prone to floods. Brahmaputra is one of the largest river systems in the world and causes considerable distress and costs to the region through frequent flooding and erosion,” the statement added.
  1. India has been pushing to establish prior user rights on rivers that originate in China in an effort to fast-track projects in the northeast.
  2. According to the United Nations, the cross-border annual aggregate flow of the Brahmaputra river system is 165.4bcm (billion cubic metres), which is greater than the combined trans-boundary flow of the three key rivers—Mekong, Salween and Irrawady—that run from the Tibetan plateau to South-East Asia.
  3. The committee’s terms of reference also include identification of gaps in the existing mechanisms and arrangements for water resource management, and suggesting policy interventions.
  4. India initiated an action plan to accelerate hydroelectric projects in Arunachal Pradesh, a key element of a multi-pronged strategy, Mint reported on 20 November 2013. This also involves prioritizing the construction of storage projects as a fallback option.
  5. As part of the strategy that is also being viewed as an attempt to contain China, an India-Japan Coordination Forum for Development of North East has been set up to focus on strategic projects such as connectivity and road network development, electricity and disaster management.

_____________________________

13. Rapid Warming of Arabian Sea ________ Rapid warming of Arabian sea among causes of 3-fold rise in erratic rain in central India: Weather experts

Context

  1. The rain furythat lashed Maharashtra, West Bengal, Bihar and Assam this monsoon, which displaced lives of lakhs of people, could be the new ‘normal’, according to a study.
  2. Scientists have recorded a three-fold rise in such erratic rainfall over central India 

What are the reasons for the increase in rainfall?

  1. Rapid warming of the Arabian Sea.
    • Due to excess warming, there is significant amount of moisture available in the atmosphere.
    • This moisture then gets transported by strong surges of westerly windsover to the Indian mainland during the monsoon, resulting in widespread and heavy rainfall over central India.
  2. Human activities in the post-industrialisation periodhave triggered an exponential rise in greenhouse gas emissions and pollutants.
  3. Frequency of events such as El Nino, the abnormal warming of central and east-central Pacific Ocean, are driving forces for the warming of Arabian Sea in recent decades
  4. The number of cyclonesoriginating from the Arabian Sea has increased.
  5. THE rain fury that lashed Maharashtra, West Bengal, Bihar and Assam this monsoon, which displaced lives of lakhs of people, could be the new ‘normal’, according to a study. Scientists have recorded a three-fold rise in such erratic rainfall over central India — from Gujarat in the west up to Assam in the Northeast — and suggested that such rainfall events are going to be far more frequent in the coming years. They have attributed it mainly to the rapid warming of the Arabian Sea.
  6. According to the study, 13 more incidents like these are noticed with the passing of each decade, thus making floods an annual affair for the people in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Assam.
  7. As part of this joint study, researchers, led by Roxy Mathew Koll from the Pune-based Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), along with experts from IIT-Bombay and University of Maryland, USA, have tracked this rising trend during the 1950-2015 period. Their study found widespread extreme heavy rainfall (150mm or more) over a span of more than 5 lakh sq km area along central India.
  8. Statistics from the International Disaster Data Base show that close to 70,000 people lost their lives and another 8 crore people were rendered homeless in the 268 events of heavy rain, flash floods, torrential rain or landslides recorded over central India in the last six decades.
  9. Sea warming has been noted along the north of the Arabian Sea — the Indo-Pak region — and along regions in the northwest closer to the Gulf. Koll said, “Due to excess warming, there is significant amount of moisture available in the atmosphere. This moisture then gets transported by strong surges of westerly winds over to the Indian mainland during the monsoon, resulting in widespread and heavy rainfall over central India.”
  10. Human activities in the post-industrialisation period have triggered an exponential rise in greenhouse gas emissions and pollutants. In addition, frequency of events such as El Nino, the abnormal warming of central and east-central Pacific Ocean, have been nailed to be the driving forces for the warming of Arabian Sea in recent decades. Incidentally, the number of cyclones originating from the Arabian Sea has increased.
  11. “Its impact on India has been mainly the change brought in the rainfall duration and amounts,” Raghu Murtugudde, senior researcher from University of Maryland, told The Indian Express in an email reply. “On one hand, coastal and peninsular India has experienced rainfall deficits and for the last three years consecutive years, some parts of Karnataka and Maharashtra have remained dry. On the other hand, the Northwest is getting flooded far too often, and this trend is seen extending to the Northeast.”
  12. “All this simply indicates that pre-monsoon heat and humidity have increased, and it has the most severe impact on farmers, preparing their land for the monsoon season.”
  13. Unlike what was believed earlier — that depressions formed in the Bay of Bengal are responsible for most heavy rainfall between June and September over India — this study has painted a different picture. Researchers at IIT found that Arabian Sea holds as high as 36 per cent moisture, followed by land evaporation contributing up to 29 per cent, while at 26 per, moisture pumped in by Bay of Bengal contributes the lowest.

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14.

56 5.12. Emission Norms for Power Plants in India  – India’s coal-based power sector may seek to avoid compliance with the strict emission norms that are due to take effect next month, according to a new analysis by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), a New Delhi-based think tank.

The norms were put in place by the environment ministry in December 2015, just before the Paris summit on climate change to reduce air pollution and water usage by the thermal power producers.

Emissions by the thermal power sector are significant in India, the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases after the US and China. About 58% of the installed power generation capacity of 331,117.58 megawatt (MW) is fuelled by coal.

The new norms had tightened emissions of particulate matter (PM), sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, mercury and reduced water usage by coal-fuelled thermal power plants from December 2017.

According to CSE, of the total emissions from the industrial sector, the power sector alone contributes 60% of the PM (particulate matter), 45% of sulphur dioxide, 30% of nitrogen oxides and 80% of mercury emissions.

“Though the industry was given two years to comply, there has been very little progress so far. The norms come into effect from December 2017, but the CEA (central electricity authority) is now recommending that plants be given another five years—which means the deadline should be extended from 2017 to 2022—to comply with the new norms,” said CSE in a statement.

CSE has recommended to the environment ministry and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), India’s top pollution watchdog, not to accept the fresh timelines proposed by power ministry and the CEA.

“We have not taken any decision to amend the December 2015 notification till now. But ministry is not expected to toe a hard line for its implementation….We may give the sector some time to comply with standards,” a top official of the Union environment ministry said on condition of anonymity.

“We have given our comments and then the matter is under discussion with the ministry of environment and forests,” said minister of state for power and new and renewable energy Raj Kumar Singh at a press conference.

15.

Turtle Sanctuary in Allahabad _________ In order to protect the rich aquatic biodiversity of river Ganga from escalating anthropogenic pressures, development of a Turtle sanctuary in Allahabad along with a River Biodiversity Park at Sangam have been approved under Namami Gange programme.

The project at an estimated cost of Rs 1.34 crore would include development of River Biodiversity Park at Sangam (confluence of Ganga, Yamuna and mythical Sarasvati), establishment of a Turtle Rearing Centre (Permanent nursery at Triveni Pushp and makeshift annual hatcheries) and awareness about the importance of river Ganga and imperativeness of its conservation has been approved.

This project will provide much needed platform to make the visitors aware of their place in the ecosystem, their roles and responsibilities, improve their understanding of the complexity of co-existence with the environment and help generate awareness for reducing the impact of human activities on critical natural resources. The task of dissipating knowledge about river Ganga will be taken up ardently in this project, which is 100% centrally funded.

The sustenance of more than 2000 aquatic species including threatened gharials, dolphins and turtles in river Ganga exemplifies the rich biodiversity of this lifeline to over 40 per cent of the country’s population. Rivers Ganga and Yamuna at Allahabad are home to some of the most endangered fauna like turtles (Batagur kachuga, Batagur dhongoka, Nilssonia gangetica, Chitra indica, Hardella thurjii etc.), the National Aquatic Animal – Gangetic dolphin (Platanista gangetica), the Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus) and numerous migratory and resident birds.

. Ichthyosaur Fossil Discovered ____Scientists in India have discovered a 152 million-year-old fossil of an ichthyosaur – an extinct marine reptile – in the western state of Gujarat.

This is the first time an ichthyosaur fossil has been discovered in India.

The fossil was found inside rocks from the Mesozoic Era, which ran between 252 and 66 million years ago, in the Kutch desert.

Prof Guntupalli VR Prasad, who led the study, said the 5.5m (18ft) specimen was almost complete.

Only parts of the skull and tail bones were found to be missing.

The findings have been published in the Plos One science journal.

“This is a remarkable discovery not only because it is the first Jurassic ichthyosaur record from India, but also it throws light on the evolution and diversity of ichthyosaurs in the Indo-Madagascan region and India’s biological connectivity with other continents in the Jurassic,” Mr Prasad said.

The team, which comprised scientists from India and Germany, believes the newly discovered specimen can be identified with Ophthalmosauridae, a family of ichthyosaurs that lived in the oceans between 165 and 90 million years ago.

 

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  1. New Guidelines on Compensatory Afforestation ___________________________

 

Home » Politics

States violate compensatory afforestation guidelines

An analysis of 2,479 compensatory afforestation plantations in 10 states shows over 70% of these have been done on forest land in violation of Forest Conservation Act

More than 70% of compensatory afforestation (CA) across 10 States was done on forest land instead of non-forest land, which is a clear violation of guidelines under the Forest Conservation (FC) Act 1980, said an analysis released on Tuesday.

According to norms under the FC Act, compensatory afforestation must be undertaken on non-forest land in the same district as the diverted forest. Under the FC Act 1980, forest land may be diverted for non-forestry purposes like dams, mining and other industrial projects. But in lieu of the forest land diverted, CA is carried out on non-forest land.

The study was released by Community Forest Rights-Learning and Advocacy (CFR-LA), an advocacy group consisting of grassroots organizations, researchers and academicians from several Indian states, at a national consultation on Compensatory Afforestation and Rights of Forest-Dwelling Communities in the national capital.

“An analysis of 2,479 CA plantations in 10 states from the e-greenwatch website of the ministry of environment, forest and climate change (MoEFCC) shows that over 70% of these have been set up on forest land instead of non-forest land. This is in violation of the guidelines issued under the Forest (Conservation) Act, which states that CA must be undertaken on non-forest land in the same district as the diverted forest,” the study said.

An official statement from CFR-LA said that another study shows that in a sample of 52 compensatory afforestation plantations in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha, “all the plantations were taken up on community forest land vested in the Gram Sabhas by the Forest Rights Act, without the permission of Gram Sabhas”.

“Out of the 52 villages, the forest department sought the consent of the Gram Sabhas in only 2 villages, thereby completely violating the Forest Rights Act (FRA),” the study added.

The study further stated that the forest department used fencing and guards to deny access to rights holding forest dwellers and tribals in areas taken up for plantations, illegally dispossessing them in violation of FRA and the Prevention of Atrocities Act.

It also alleged that forest departments have overwhelmingly favoured commercial timber species, with teak and eucalyptus forming one quarter of the species planted.

“These plantations have often been undertaken after clearing natural forest, and have affected the livelihood and nutritional security of women,” it added.

Meanwhile, at the consultation, the participants discussed in detail the Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAF) Act and called for repealing of the Act or amendments to it to ensure its compliance with the Forest Rights Act (FRA) 2006.

Participants also raised concerns about the new guideline released by the union environment ministry for creating land banks for compensatory afforestation including degraded forest and revenue forests stating that would have an adverse impact on the rights of tribals and forest dwellers.

The CAF Act, which seeks to facilitate the distribution of over Rs42,000 crore among all states for afforestation purposes, was passed by Parliament last year.

The participants demanded that all CA funds must be transferred to the Gram Sabhas empowered to govern and conserve forests, and that all CA activities must be done with their free, prior and informed consent. They also demanded that those who have been illegally evicted and/or relocated for CA plantations must be given back their land and resources and compensated.

 

Centre’s new guidelines on compensatory afforestation ignore communities’ concerns

 

On November 8, 2017, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) issued guidelines, specifying criteria for suitability and identification of land bank for compensatory afforestation. The guidelines coincide with a public hearing on land grabbing of forest dwellers in the name of compensatory afforestation, organised just a day before, in Bhubaneswar.

The Forest (Conservation) Act of 1980 requires that afforestation is carried out in compensation for forest land diverted for non-forestry uses. Compensatory afforestation can be done over an equivalent area of non-forest land or over degraded forest twice in extent of the area being diverted, if non-forestland is not available. The guidelines reiterate that “zudpi jungle/chhote/bade jhar ka jungle/jungle-jhari land/civil and soyam lands” will also be considered as non-forest land for compensatory afforestation purposes.

Will the guidelines address compensatory afforestation issues?

The latest guidelines note that “in many cases a substantial portion of the land identified for compensatory afforestation already contain vegetation of varying density. Creation of compensatory afforestation will not fully compensate the loss of trees as there will not be enough space for the requisite number of plants to be planted.” Instead of outrightly rejecting such lands, the Ministry has suggested that at least 1,000 plants per hectare (ha) should be planted on the identified non-forest lands. The guidelines, almost in the same breath, also provide relaxation to the criteria by stating that in case planting 1,000 plants per ha is not possible on non-forest land; the balance number of plantations can be done on degraded forests.

“The guidelines have tried to address the mounting challenge of land scarcity for compensatory afforestation. However, they have fallen short of clarifying the minimum threshold for undertaking plantations on non-forest land. Nevertheless, various forest ecosystems in India have different natural tree densities. Putting a general criterion of 1,000 plants per ha (or difference between 1,000 and existing tree stock) raises more questions than it answers,” says Ajay Kumar Saxena from Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment.

An encouraging aspect is the emphasis on activities such as soil and moisture conservation and regeneration cleaning to ensure maintenance of plantations for a period of seven to 10 years. Poor survival rate of plantations raised under compensatory afforestation has raised serious questions about their effectiveness.  In fact, India’s growing stock has been steadily reducing over the years, despite the staggering extent of forestland brought under plantations exceeding 19 million ha during 2003 to 2014, according to MoEF&CC’s estimates. “The emphasis on specifying a time period for maintenance of plantations is a welcome move. It would have been better if the guidelines had also specified a certain percentage of compensatory afforestation funds to be set aside exclusively for this purpose,” Saxena continues.

The guidelines have also directed the constitution of state-level committees under the chairmanship of the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests to expedite the creation of land bank for compensatory afforestation. The Committee will comprise the Chief Wildlife Warden of the State and representatives of the revenue department. The eligibility criteria for such land has been expanded to include degraded forests with crown density (relation of the area of crown canopy of a forest to the land area) of up to 40 per cent, areas falling in wildlife corridors and around Protected Areas, and eco-sensitive zones that are under the direct administrative control of the forest department. Additionally, land in the catchment areas of water bodies and habitats of rare, threatened and endangered flora and fauna can also be added to the land bank.

Compromising community forest rights

The land identified for compensatory afforestation is required to be notified as Reserved Forests under the Indian Forest Act of 1927. While the forest department’s jurisdiction would extend over new lands through this process, tribal dispossession of lands in the name of compensatory afforestation could increase, as is already happening in several parts of the country. Cases of violation of the Forest Rights Act of 2006 (FRA), which have been reported, are likely to be exacerbated by these guidelines.

On November 7, 2017, a day before the guidelines were issued, a public hearing saw community testimonies on forced plantations on the individual and community lands of forest dwellers. Community members from nine districts of Odisha attended the hearing.

Rebathi Juang from Rangamatia village of Keonjhar district shared how Tata Steel and the forest department had fenced the village’s community forests and installed three boards: two for iron and manganese mines and one for plantations. The plantations have not only been done on forests claimed as Community Forest Resource (CFR) but also on lands, including Rebathi’s, over which titles for individual forest rights (IFR) of cultivation had been issued. Similarly, the IFR lands of the Kutia Kondh community in Burlubaru and Paikpada villages in Kandhamal district had also been planted with teak by the forest department.

In Chhattisgarh, too, at least ten villages from Baloda Bazar have been reportedly facing the challenge of diversion of their community forests for compensatory afforestation plantation and fencing by the forest department. In 2015, these villages had filed for CFR claims over the lands, which are now being faced. The title deeds are yet to be issued.

“With the FRA in force, an estimated 40 million ha of forestlands are claimable as CFRs. This applies particularly to zupti jungle, chote/bade jhar ke jungle, jungle-jhari land, and civil/soyam lands with extensive community rights recorded in them. Treating these as non-forest lands in violation of the Supreme Court’s order and requiring that these be converted into a land bank for compensatory afforestation is criminal and must be challenged,” says Madhu Sarin, a forest rights activist. “Once the lands are identified and included into the land bank for compensatory afforestation, it will be yet another reason used to reject the claims approved by the concerned Gram Sabhas,” says C R Bijoy, another forest rights activist.

The absence of community representation in the committees to be constituted for the identification of the land bank is also a matter of concern. “At the very least, MoTA at the central level and Tribal Welfare Departments at the state level need to be represented in these committees for compensatory afforestation land banks,” Sarin adds.

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 18. Bamboo is no Longer a Tree_Bamboo ceases to be a tree, freed of Forest Act

To boost cultivation in non-forest areas

After 90 years, the bamboo has legally ceased to be a tree with the government, on Thursday, amending the Indian Forest Act and axing the bamboo — taxonomically a grass — from a list of plants that also included palms, skumps, brush-wood and canes.

In doing so, said Union Environment Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan, the government hoped to promote cultivation of bamboo in non-forest areas to achieve the “twin objectives” of increasing the income of farmers and also increasing the green cover of the country. Bamboo grown in the forest areas would continue to be governed by the provisions of the Indian Forest Act.

‘Required permits’

For several years now, the classification of the bambooas a tree meant that it couldn’t be easily ferried across State borders. It also required permits from village councils and couldn’t be cultivated in non-forest areas.

“This will now create a viable option for cultivation in 12.6 million hectares of cultivable waste land. It will encourage farmers and other individuals to take up plantation/block plantation of suitable bamboo species on degraded land, in addition to plantation on agricultural land and other private lands under the agro-forestry mission,” the Minister added in a press statement.

Experts hail move

The amendment was cleared as an ordinance and is therefore yet to get parliamentary backing. However experts welcomed it saying that it removed ambiguity on the status of bamboo and also brought it in harmony with the related Forest Rights Act. “Tribals have a right to forest produce but its earlier classification posed problems,” said environmental lawyer, Ritwick Datta.

The current demand of bamboo in India is estimated at 28 million tonnes. Though the country has 19% share of the world’s area under bamboo cultivation, its market share in the sector is only 6%. At present, it imports timber and allied products, such as pulp, paper, and furniture. The amendment will help in addressing some of these issues, besides meeting the demand from domestic production, the press note added.

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 19.. Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) ++++The Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) is an annual publication by Germanwatch and Climate Action Network Europe. It evaluates the climate protection performance of 58 countries, responsible for over 90% of global energy-related CO2 emissions. CCPI 2013 publication covers CO2 emissions from the fossil fuels, except emissions from the shipping industry. Following CCPI 2013 publication may include emissions from deforestation, agriculture and waste. 50% of the evaluation is based on emissions trend, 30% on emissions level and 20% on national and international climate policy assessments made by more than 200 experts. The most recent results (published December 2014) illustrate that efforts are still insufficient to prevent dangerous climate change. Thus, no country received rankings one to three in the results for 2015 although Denmark which topped the list was praised for its efforts

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20 Day after PM speaks about Climate Change at Davos, India ranks 177 out of 180 in environmental performance index

The report, relased on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland, comes a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke about the importance of tackling climate change at the summit.

A biennial report by Yale and Columbia Universities has ranked India among the bottom five countries on the Environmental Performance Index 2018, plummeting 36 points from 141 in 2016.

The report, relased on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland, comes a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke about the importance of tackling climate change at the summit.

PTI reported that while India is at the bottom of the list in the environmental health category, it ranks 178 out of 180 as far as air quality is concerned.

Its overall low ranking — 177 among 180 countries — was linked to poor performance in the environment health policy and deaths due to air pollution categories.

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  1. Sulphur Dioxide Emissions in India ______

India becoming world’s top sulphur dioxide emitter: Study

India’s emissions of the air pollutant sulphur dioxide increased by 50 per cent since 2007, while China’s fell by 75 per cent, claims a study which found that India is yet to implement emission controls like its neighbour.

The study led by researchers at the University of Maryland in the US suggests that India is becoming, if it is not already, the world’s top sulphur dioxide emitter.

Sulphur dioxide is an air pollutant that causes acid rain, haze and many health-related probl .. India’s emissions of the air pollutant sulphur dioxide increased by 50 per cent since 2007, while China’s fell by 75 per cent, claims a study which found that India is yet to implement emission controls like its neighbour.

The study led by researchers at the University of Maryland in the US suggests that India is becoming, if it is not already, the world’s top sulphur dioxide emitter.

Sulphur dioxide is an air pollutant that causes acid rain, haze and many health-related probl ..
 

  1. UN Emission Gap Report 2017__________ The goal of the Paris Agreement on climate change, as agreed at the Conference of the Parties in 2015, is to keep global temperature rise this century to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. It also calls for efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The UN Environment Emissions Gap Report 2017 presents an assessment of current national mitigation efforts and the ambitions countries have presented in their Nationally Determined Contributions, which form the foundation of the Paris Agreement.

The report has been prepared by an international team of leading scientists, assessing all available information. The governments of countries mentioned specifically in the report have been invited to comment on the specific assessment findings; independent experts have also been invited to review the different chapters.

What’s new in this year’s report?

Negative emission technologies assessed in the reportUpdate on global greenhouse gas emissions
This year, the Emissions Gap Report includes an assessment of the emissions associated with the Nationally Determined Contributions and current policies of each of the G20 members, including the European Union. This is in addition to presenting an update on global greenhouse gas emissions and national actions to meet the earlier Cancun pledges.

Exploring “negative emission technologies”
This year’s report explores removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as an additional way to mitigate climate change, over and above conventional abatement strategies.

Figure ES1. Global greenhouse gas emissions for the top six emitting countries and regions (excluding land use, land use change and forestry), and international transport emissions and land use, land use change and forestry emission.

An analysis of global carbon dioxide emissions from energy and industry

Global greenhouse gas emissions per region/Global CO2emissions per region from fossil-fuel use and cement productionThe Report includes a new systematic assessment of how various economic sectors can reduce their climate-warming emissions, focusing on the potential eductions from the wide application of already-known and cost-effective technologies.

The role of short-lived climate pollutants

The report describes the opportunities offered by limiting emissions of the so-called short-lived climate pollutants. Reductions of these pollutants will limit the rate of short-term warming, and when sustained and combined with reductions in carbon dioxide emissions, they help to limit long-term warming, which is the ultimate aim of closing the emissions gap.

Phasing out coal

This year’s report includes a detailed assessment of global developments in the coal sector. This also examines the options and barriers for a gradual coal phase

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23 . Delhi Smog _________________________reasons -pollutants and solutions

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  1. Ban on Polluting Fuels ________________

56 5.8. Bonn Climate Change Conference _______ After wrangling through the night, the 23rd conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change wrapped up early Saturday with modest accomplishments, paving the way to complete by next year the rules that will set the Paris agreement in motion.

Delegates wrapping up before dawn congratulated themselves on another year of saving the process, if not the planet, and called on countries to be more ambitious in tackling emissions.

“Climate change is a global challenge. The Paris agreement has sped up the historic global momentum for dealing with climate change, and that momentum is not reversible,” said China’s lead negotiator, Xie Zhenhua.

The conference resolved a handful of issues dear to vulnerable nations, but the most thorny decisions were kicked to 2018. Here’s a look at what got resolved in Bonn, and what to look for in the year ahead.

Big issues still not resolved

No major decisions were expected from this 23rd Conference of the Parties, known as COP23. The goal for this meeting had always been that countries would begin drafting rules and processes for translating the ambitious goals of the Paris agreement into action.

Under the 2015 Paris agreement, nearly 200 nations submitted individual pledges to curb their greenhouse-gas emissions and wealthy countries promised to deliver aid — amounting to at least $100 billion per year by 2020 — to help poor countries develop clean energy and build resilience to disasters.

Negotiators said they had made some progress expanding the fine print of that agreement, particularly in refining rules that will help verify whether countries are actually reducing emissions as promised. But countries still have to finalize a rule book that will govern a much larger climate discussion in 2018, when countries will formally gauge how much progress they have made in reducing emissions to date. That rule book will have to be completed by next year’s climate conference in Katowice, Poland.

The United States is playing nice. Mostly.

After President Trump announced in June that America would withdraw from the Paris agreement by 2020, many feared his administration would play a spoiler role in this year’s climate talks. That didn’t happen.

White House officials in Bonn did draw the ire of climate advocates when they staged a forum promoting fossil fuels and nuclear power. But, behind the scenes, a team of career State Department negotiators showed up to work with other countries on the details of international policy.

 

 

Those negotiators pushed hard for China, India and other developing countries to be as transparent as possible in verifying their emissions reductions. But they also beat back proposals from poor countries that insisted that rich nations should offer a fuller accounting of the climate aid they are providing. That move angered a number of developing countries, particularly since Mr. Trump has said the United States will no longer contribute to the Green Climate Fund for global warming assistance.

Island leaders were disappointed

Fiji was the official host of this year’s talks and organizers did their best to transform the conference hall in this German city into something resembling a tropical Pacific island. But the leaders of islands and other vulnerable countries said they were disappointed that wealthy nations had opposed sweeping steps to compensate countries already threatened by climate change.

Negotiators did create a technical expert group to discuss the issue, known as “loss and damage,” which island leaders said they welcomed. Other island leaders said they were pleased that more programs to promote insurance coverage on islands were cropping up. But those on the front lines of disasters said they were getting tired of delays on what they need most: money.

“This means life or death for us,” said Tommy Remengesau, the president of Palau, an archipelago in the Pacific. Helping islands and others hit by weather extremes, he said, “is a moral question, and it requires a moral answer.”

Coal cast a shadow over the talks

The world is still wrestling with its reliance on the dirtiest of all fossil fuels. On Monday, midway through the talks, scientists reported that global carbon dioxide emissions would most likely rise in 2017 after a three-year plateau, in part because of a rebound in Chinese coal consumption.

Climate Change Is Complex. We’ve Got Answers to Your Questions.

We know. Global warming is daunting. So here’s a place to start: 17 often-asked questions with some straightforward answers.

 

And not just in China: An hour’s drive from the conference, Germany is expanding mining operations for lignite coal.

Still, there are signs that the global coal boom is coming to an end. The International Energy Agency issued a report declaring that coal’s “boom years” are over, as more and more countries start shifting to cleaner sources of electricity, including natural gas, wind, and solar. On Thursday, 19 countries vowed to phase out their coal use by 2030, though it was largely a symbolic gesture because those countries were already getting rid of coal.

The world is still far from its climate goals

Under the Paris agreement, nations vowed to limit the rise in global temperatures since the industrial revolution to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

Everyone at the Bonn talks conceded that nations were still way off course from that goal. Current pledges for constraining greenhouse gases put the world on pace for 3 degrees Celsius of warming or more, a drastic change that would reshape coastlines, put many populated islands underwater and usher in a new era of deadly heat waves, floods and droughts.

GRAPHIC

Here’s How Far the World Is From Meeting Its Climate Goals

Two years after countries signed a landmark climate agreement in Paris, the world remains far off course from preventing drastic global warming in the decades ahead.

 OPEN GRAPHIC

 

Despite this, very few countries announced new initiatives to speed up emissions cuts. Some had hoped that China would announce a major cap-and-trade program for its emissions, but that was delayed. Environmentalists pressed Chancellor Angela Merkel to set a timetable for phasing out Germany’s coal use, but she simply announced that she was holding “tough discussions” as she sought to form a new government.

Instead, most countries will wait until the next few years before discussing how to ratchet up their efforts. The wheels of diplomacy turn slowly.

 

25._______________________Permaculture is a system of agricultural and social design principles centered around simulating or directly utilizing the patterns and features observed in natural ecosystems

 

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SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY____________

  1. Nobel in Chemistry______ 2017 NobelPrize in ChemistryThe Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2017 was awarded to Jacques Dubochet, Joachim Frank and Richard Henderson “for developing cryo-electron microscopy for the high-resolution structure determination of biomolecules in solution”. _____________

 

 

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  1. Nobel Prize in Physics____ 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics. The Nobel Prize in Physics2017 was divided, one half awarded to Rainer Weiss, the other half jointly to Barry C. Barish and Kip S. Thorne “for decisive contributions to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves”. _____________

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  1. Nobel Prize in Medicine ___ The most recent Nobel prizewas announced by Karolinska Institute on October 2, 2017 and has been awarded to three Americans – Jeffrey Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael Young – for their discoveries of molecular mechanisms controlling the circadian rhythm. ____________-

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  1. USFDA Approves Gene Therapy ________ The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved Luxturna (voretigene neparvovec-rzyl), a new gene therapy, to treat children and adult patients with an inherited form of vision loss that may result in blindness. Luxturna is the first directly administered gene therapy approved in the U.S. that targets a disease caused by mutations in a specific gene.

“Today’s approval marks another first in the field of gene therapy — both in how the therapy works and in expanding the use of gene therapy beyond the treatment of cancer to the treatment of vision loss — and this milestone reinforces the potential of this breakthrough approach in treating a wide-range of challenging diseases. The culmination of decades of research has resulted in three gene therapy approvals this year for patients with serious and rare diseases. I believe gene therapy will become a mainstay in treating, and maybe curing, many of our most devastating and intractable illnesses,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. “We’re at a turning point when it comes to this novel form of therapy and at the FDA, we’re focused on establishing the right policy framework to capitalize on this scientific opening. Next year, we’ll begin issuing a suite of disease-specific guidance documents on the development of specific gene therapy products to lay out modern and more efficient parameters — including new clinical measures — for the evaluation and review of gene therapy for different high-priority diseases where the platform is being targeted.”

Luxturna is approved for the treatment of patients with confirmed biallelic RPE65 mutation-associated retinal dystrophy that leads to vision loss and may cause complete blindness in certain patients.

Hereditary retinal dystrophies are a broad group of genetic retinal disorders that are associated with progressive visual dysfunction and are caused by mutations in any one of more than 220 different genes. Biallelic RPE65 mutation-associated retinal dystrophy affects approximately 1,000 to 2,000 patients in the U.S. Biallelic mutation carriers have a mutation (not necessarily the same mutation) in both copies of a particular gene (a paternal and a maternal mutation). The RPE65 gene provides instructions for making an enzyme (a protein that facilitates chemical reactions) that is essential for normal vision. Mutations in the RPE65 gene lead to reduced or absent levels of RPE65 activity, blocking the visual cycle and resulting in impaired vision. Individuals with biallelic RPE65 mutation-associated retinal dystrophy experience progressive deterioration of vision over time. This loss of vision, often during childhood or adolescence, ultimately progresses to complete blindness.

Luxturna works by delivering a normal copy of the RPE65 gene directly to retinal cells. These retinal cells then produce the normal protein that converts light to an electrical signal in the retina to restore patient’s vision loss. Luxturna uses a naturally occurring adeno-associated virus, which has been modified using recombinant DNA techniques, as a vehicle to deliver the normal human RPE65 gene to the retinal cells to restore vision.

“The approval of Luxturna further opens the door to the potential of gene therapies,” said Peter Marks, M.D., Ph.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER). “Patients with biallelic RPE65 mutation-associated retinal dystrophy now have a chance for improved vision, where little hope previously existed.”

Luxturna should be given only to patients who have viable retinal cells as determined by the treating physician(s). Treatment with Luxturna must be done separately in each eye on separate days, with at least six days between surgical procedures. It is administered via subretinal injection by a surgeon experienced in performing intraocular surgery. Patients should be treated with a short course of oral prednisone to limit the potential immune reaction to Luxturna.

The safety and efficacy of Luxturna were established in a clinical development program with a total of 41 patients between the ages of 4 and 44 years. All participants had confirmed biallelic RPE65 mutations. The primary evidence of efficacy of Luxturna was based on a Phase 3 study with 31 participants by measuring the change from baseline to one year in a subject’s ability to navigate an obstacle course at various light levels. The group of patients that received Luxturna demonstrated significant improvements in their ability to complete the obstacle course at low light levels as compared to the control group.

The most common adverse reactions from treatment with Luxturna included eye redness (conjunctival hyperemia), cataract, increased intraocular pressure and retinal tear.

The FDA granted this application Priority Review and Breakthrough Therapydesignations. Luxturna also received Orphan Drug designation, which provides incentives to assist and encourage the development of drugs for rare diseases.

The sponsor is receiving a Rare Pediatric Disease Priority Review Voucher under a program intended to encourage development of new drugs and biologics for the prevention and treatment of rare pediatric diseases. A voucher can be redeemed by a sponsor at a later date to receive Priority Review of a subsequent marketing application for a different product. This is the 13th rare pediatric disease priority review voucher issued by the FDA since the program began.

To further evaluate the long-term safety, the manufacturer plans to conduct a post-marketing observational study involving patients treated with Luxturna.

The FDA granted approval of Luxturna to Spark Therapeutics Inc.

The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines, and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.

 

  1. Embryo Transfer Technology ___________ Embryo Transfer Technology, a promising revolution in Bovine breeding 

Embryo transfer technology (ETT) has revolutionized the breeding strategies in Bovines as a tool to optimize the genetic improvement in cattle.

Department of Animal husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries in co-operation with 12 States has undertaken a Mass Embryo Transfer programme in Indigenous Breeds under the scheme, National Mission on Bovine Productivity. It has been planned to carry out 440 embryo transfers during October 2-10, 2017 throughout the country. The programme is implemented with the objective of conservation and development of indigenous breeds under Rashtriya Gokul Mission.

Through the use of ETT, (i) a farmer can get a 5-6 fold increase in number of offsprings , (ii) the calves so born will be of high genetic merit and (iii) the offsprings born will be free from diseases.

The programme has been initiated in 12 ETT centres across the country from 2nd October and will continue till 10th October 2017. Under this programme, embryos of higher genetic merit indigenous bovines are being transferred in to surrogate cows. Embryos of Indigenous breeds such as Sahiwal, Gir, Red Sindhi, Ongole, Deoni and Vechur have been proposed to be transferred under this programme. On first day of ET programme held on 2nd October, 35 Nos. of embryos were transferred in to recipients. Remaining will be transferred on different days till 10th of October 2017.

The technology now being taken up to the doorstep of the farmers will result in rapid propogation of high genetic merit indigenous cattle.

 

 6.. Space Activities Bill, 2017_____________ A Bill pending before the Parliament is to encourage both the public and private sectors to participate in the space programme.

A Bill pending before the Parliament is to encourage both the public and private sectors to participate in the space programme.

What is it?

It is a proposed Bill to promote and regulate the space activities of India. The new Bill encourages the participation of non-governmental/private sector agencies in space activities in India under the guidance and authorisation of the government through the Department of Space.

According to the draft, as few start-up companies in India have shown interest in space systems activities and as space activities need participation from private sector agencies, “there is an urgent need for a legal environment for orderly performance and growth of space sector.”

When, where, who?

The draft was posted on the website of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on November 21, 2017.

Why has it been posted?

The Bill seeks comments on the draft from stakeholders and the public. ISRO has given a month’s time to read the 20-page draft and send comments.

What does the Bill propose?

  • The provisions of this Act shall apply to every citizen of India and to all sectors engaged in any space activity in India or outside India
  • A non-transferable licence shall be provided by the Central Government to any person carrying out commercial space activity
  • The Central Government will formulate the appropriate mechanism for licencing, eligibility criteria, and fees for licence.
  • The government will maintain a register of all space objects (any object launched or intended to be launched around the earth) and develop more space activity plans for the country
  • It will provide professional and technical support for commercial space activity and regulate the procedures for conduct and operation of space activity
  • It will ensure safety requirements and supervise the conduct of every space activity of India and investigate any incident or accident in connection with the operation of a space activity.
  • It will share details about the pricing of products created by space activity and technology with any person or any agency in a prescribed manner.
  • If any person undertakes any commercial space activity without authorisation they shall be punished with imprisonment up to 3 years or fined more than ₹1 crore or both.

 

_ 7. Scoping Report on Antimicrobial Resistance in India _______________________________Invisible threat of antimicrobial resistance

The impact of pathogen resistance even to last-resort antibiotics can be alarming. This calls for a multi-disciplinary response

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) has emerged as a global public health concern as antibiotics are becoming inefficient against a wide range of pathogenic bacteria. Rampant usage of antibiotics for human and veterinary purposes has resulted in the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria (ARB) in the guts of humans and animals, which are subsequently released in to the environment.

AMR poses big challenges to treating common infectious diseases, resulting in prolonged infection, disability and death. Without effective antimicrobials, to check and treat infections, medical procedures such as organ transplantation, chemotherapy, diabetes management and major surgeries become high-risk affairs. Not only this situation becomes a public health issue but it also threatens to undermine the achievement of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

In India, factors such as high consumption of a broad spectrum of antibiotics, antibiotic fixed-dose combinations and antibiotic consumption in animal food contribute to AMR. India and China are the largest producers of antibiotics and contributes for 80 per cent of total antibiotics production globally. In India, effluents generated from these industries are treated as per the pharmaceutical wastewater discharge guidelines prescribed by the Central Pollution Control Board.

Unfortunately, the current standards do not include antibiotic residues, and they are not monitored in the pharmaceutical industry effluents. There is no consensus guidelines on the antibiotic residue discharge limits in industrial waste even outside India.

What goes out

In 2015, European Union adopted a ‘watch list’ of potential priority substances, including pharmaceuticals products that need to be monitored in the wastewater before releasing in to the environment to determine their environmental risk. The existing good manufacturing practices (GMP) under the WHO (2016) framework is, however, restricted to drug safety and does not include environmental safeguards. GMP covers all aspects of production, from raw materials, premises, and equipment to the training and personal hygiene of the staff.

The uncontrolled discharge of untreated urban waste is another major source for AMR in many low and middle income countries. Here, large proportions of the wastewater from hospitals, communities and urban runoff is discharged untreated or partially treated and finally ends up in rivers, lakes and seas.

In India high antibiotic resistance rates were reported among bacteria that commonly cause infections in the community and healthcare facilities, according to the scoping report on Antimicrobial Resistance in India commissioned by the Department of Biotechnology. The Indian Researcher has found prevalence of methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections has gone up from an estimated 29 per cent in 2012 to 47 per cent in 2014. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) AMR surveillance network recently reported that resistance to the broad-spectrum antibiotics fluoroquinolones and third generation cephalosporin was more than 70 per cent in Acinetobacter baumannii, Escherichia coli, and Klebsiellapneumoniae, and more than 50 per cent in Pseudomonas aeruginosabacteria isolated from blood stream infection.

Without exception, all classes of antibiotics have been reported for resistance in at least some of the pathogens they have been intended to treat. The emergence and spread of resistance mechanisms to last-resort antibiotics, such as carbapenems, therefore pose a major threat for infection control and treatment worldwide.

Given the complex nature of the ABR problem, no individual nation has the capacity to address this problem independently. In 2015, a global action plan (GAP) on AMR was developed by the WHO, the Food and Agricultural Organization and the World Organization for Animal Health. In India, a national action plan focuses on six priority areas — awareness and understanding through education, communication and training, strengthening knowledge and evidence through surveillance, infection prevention and control, optimised antimicrobial use in health, animals and food, AMR-related research and innovation and strengthened leadership and commitment at international, and national.

It also highlights the need for the integrated approach in multiple sectors such as human health, animal husbandry, agriculture and environment in consideration of the “One-Health” approach to overcome the AMR issues. The health ministry has identified AMR as one of the top 10 priorities for the ministry’s collaborative work with WHO, which is highlighted in the National Health Policy 2017.

The Government has increasingly recognised the challenges pertaining to antibiotic resistance, and started to take actions across many sectors. The challenge to AMR researchers is to study AMR transmission mechanisms among humans, animals and environment containing AMR spread through scrupulous hospital health practices and develop smart and early diagnostic methods.

 

  1. Aditya L1 __________________________ The Aditya-1 mission was conceived as a 400kg class satellite carrying one payload, the Visible Emission Line Coronagraph (VELC) and was planned to launch in a 800 km low earth orbit. A Satellite placed in the halo orbit around the Lagrangian point 1 (L1) of the Sun-Earth system

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  1. Most Ancient Spiral Galaxy Found _____Scientists have discovered the most ancient spiral galaxy in the universe that existed almost 11 billion years ago.

The spiral galaxy could provide insights into the early cosmos, believe scientists.

The galaxy, known as A1689B11, existed just 2.6 billion years after the Big Bang, when the universe was only one-fifth of its present age.

Researchers used a powerful technique that combines gravitational lensing with the Near-infrared Integral Field Spectrograph (NIFS) on the Gemini North telescope in Hawai’i to verify the vintage and spiral nature of the galaxy.

Gravitational lenses are nature’s largest telescopes, created by massive clusters composed of thousands of galaxies and dark matter.

The cluster bends and magnifies the light of galaxies behind it in a manner similar to an ordinary lens, but on a much larger scale.

“This technique allows us to study ancient galaxies in high resolution with unprecedented detail,” said Tiantian Yuan from ANU.

“We are able to look 11 billion years back in time and directly witness the formation of the first, primitive spiral arms of a galaxy,” said Yuan, who led the research team.

“Studying ancient spirals like A1689B11 is a key to unlocking the mystery of how and when the Hubble sequence emerges,” said Renyue Cen from Princeton University in the US.

“Spiral galaxies are exceptionally rare in the early universe, and this discovery opens the door to investigating how galaxies transition from highly chaotic, turbulent discs to tranquil, thin discs like those of our own Milky Way galaxy,” said Cen.

“This galaxy is forming stars 20 times faster than galaxies today ? as fast as other young galaxies of similar masses in the early universe,” he said.

“However, unlike other galaxies of the same epoch, A1689B11 has a very cool and thin disc, rotating calmly with surprisingly little turbulence. This type of spiral galaxy has never been seen before at this early epoch of the universe,” said Cen.

 

 10  New Parasitic Plant Discovered_________ Parasitic plant found in Nagaland has no chlorophyll of its own, survives by stealing food from its host

Scientists have discovered a new species of parasitic flowering plant that has no chlorophyll, and survives by feeding on another species of plant that does (chlorophyll helps a plant make its own food using sunlight).

The species, named Gleadovia konyakianorum, in honour of the Konyak tribe of Nagas, was identified during a botanical exploration earlier this year near Tobu town of Mon district in eastern Nagaland.

“It is a holoparasite [complete parasite] that derives its entire nutritional requirement from the host plant, which is a Strobilanthes species. The plant was found in the semi-evergreen forest at an altitude of 1,500-1,600 metres,” said Dilip Kumar Roy, a scientist with the Botanical Survey of India (BSI).

Along with Mr. Roy, two others – N Odoyo, also from the BSI, and a Russian scientist, Leonid V. Averyanov – have published the details of the newly discovered species in the journal Phytotaxa.

Though it is has no chlorophyll, the plant has a vascular system and extracts its nutrition from the host plant with the help of a haustorium, the scientists said. A haustorium is a specialised structure with which plant parasites attach themselves to the tissue of host plants and derive nutrition.

Gleadovia konyakianorum is a root parasite that grows up to 10 cm in height, and bears white, tubular flowers. Interestingly, this is only the fourth species from the genus Gleadovia to be found in the world. The other three are Gleadovia banerjiana (discovered in Manipur), Gleadovia mupinense (found in China) and Gleadovia ruborum (discovered in Uttarakhand and also reported from China).

The white flowering parasite was found in a group of 15-20 plants, and since the species hasn’t been reported anywhere else, scientists have described its status as ‘data deficient’ as per the International Union forConservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species Criteria.

“Parasitic plants are often referred to as curious plants as they steal their entire nutritional requirement from the host. Not only are they rare but they are crucial evolutionary links in the plant kingdom that attest to Darwin’s theory of survival of the fittest,” said Rajib Gogoi, a scientist from BSI’s central national herbarium.

Plant parasites are differentiated as stem and root parasites. Common stem parasites found in India are Loranthus sp, on Mango trees, and Cuscuta reflexa, a climber. Among the root parasites are Sapria himalayana, a rare holoparasitic flowering plant found in Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya.

 

 

  1. Price Capping of Medical Devices ______ In a move that could bring relief to the medical device industry that’s been hit hard by price caps this year, the government may look at the middle ground of imposing a cap on the distributor and retailer margins.

    The Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP) has asked medical device associations, healthcare industry bodies and relevant regulatory agencies to help it categorise the devices. The DoP secretary will hold a meeting on October 25 to fix trade margins,

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SOCIAL & health_____________________________

  1. Double Burden of Malnutrition in India __ Malnutrition in India has always been synonymous with under-nutrition. Not anymore. Data from the latest round of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) shows that obesity among adults is nearly as big a problem in the country as under-nutrition. Even as under-nutrition continues to remain extraordinarily high in the poorer parts of the country, obesity has reached endemic levels in some of the richer parts of the country, the survey of over 6 lakh households conducted in 2015-16 shows.

When the previous round of NFHS was conducted in 2005-06, the proportion of underweight men and women in the country was found to be nearly three times the proportion of overweight men and women, respectively. The latest survey shows that the proportion of overweight women in India at 20.7% is only 2 percentage points lower than the proportion of underweight women. The trend among men is similar, with nearly one in five men overweight today.

While the proportion of underweight adults has fallen over the past decade, the proportion of overweight adults has shot up sharply. Individuals who have a body mass index, or BMI, of 25 or more are considered overweight while those with a BMI less than 18.5 are considered underweight. Women seem to be affected more by both forms of malnutrition compared to men. More women than men are obese, and more women than men are underweight, the data shows.

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  1. Childhood Obesity ____________________

 

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3.                    Therapeutic Food _ Debate over ‘therapeutic food’: can it solve the malnutrition problem?

  1. The Union Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) issued a notification to states and Union Territories at the end of August, clarifying that “use of ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) for management of malnutrition is not an accepted policy of the Government of India”, and asked that this advice “be strictly complied with”.
  2. The concept of therapeutic food has long been a subject of debate in India. The Global Hunger Index report 2017 put India at number 100 in a list of 119 countries, and the National Family Health Survey-4 (2015-16) found 35.7% children aged less than five years were underweight, and 38.4% were stunted. The need for combating malnutrition is evident — however, to what extent can therapeutic food do this job?
  3. What is ready-to-use therapeutic food?
    Ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF), also referred to as energy dense nutritious food (EDNF), is a medical intervention to improve the nutrition intake of children suffering from Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM). RUTF is a packaged paste of peanuts, oil, sugar, vitamins, milk powder and mineral supplements, which contains 520-550 kilocalories of energy per 100 g. Additional ingredients may include nuts, legumes, grains and sweeteners to improve the taste. The paste is given to children aged between six months and six years, usually after a doctor’s prescription. Each packet of the paste costs Rs 25 and has a shelf life of two years. A child can be given three packets daily for a month.
  4. RUTF use is common in Africa, where the incidence of malnutrition among children is high. In India, the global collaborative Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement has tied up with Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand to promote therapeutic food as a solution to malnourishment. Pilot projects to treat SAM children with RUTF have been undertaken in all three states and in Bihar.
  5. How does the Indian government view RUTF?
    On August 28, the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) wrote to states and UTs that “Enough evidence is not available for use of RUTF vis-à-vis other interventions for the management of SAM. Concerns have also been raised that the use of RUTF may replace nutritional best practices and family foods that children would normally be eating, impacting negatively on continued breastfeeding in children older than six months…”
  6. Earlier on August 18, Union Health Minister Jagat Prakash Naddawrote to Nutrition Advocacy in Public Interest (NAPI), a nutrition think tank, that a SAM Alliance formed under the Department of Biotechnology, Indian Council of Medical Research and the Health Ministry to assess the benefits of RUTF had found that therapeutic food was only “temporarily helpful in nutritional rehabilitation”. Nadda stressed that “RUTF may not benefit a common household in developing appropriate food habits for children against home augmented food.”
  7. The Health Ministry had, in fact, stressed as early as in 2009 that the use of RUTF was not an accepted policy of the government. And in 2013, the Centre had asked Jharkhand to stop distributing RUTF to malnourished kids.
  8. Following the August 28 WCD Ministry notification, Maharashtra halted the tendering process to procure RUTF for 83,120 SAM children at a cost of Rs 32.66 crore. But the state WCD Department, which had intended to launch RUTF in anganwadis, wrote to the Centre, asking it to reconsider its assessment of therapeutic food. The debate, in essence, is over concerns whether RUTF would be efficacious and beneficial in a country like India, with its varying food habits and high incidence of malnutrition.
  9. But haven’t the benefits of RUTF been demonstrated in studies?
    A smallscale study in Mumbai’s Sion Hospital put RUTF’s efficacy at 65-70 per cent. The hospital runs a Nutrition Rehabilitation and Training Centre, which receives 30 children every day with nutrition deficiency. “We have treated children aged six months and above with multi-nutrient paste (RUTF). Children who have consumed it regularly have come out of SAM,” Dr Alka Jadhav, Head of the Paediatrics department, said. She carried out a similar study in Jawhar, a region in the tribal Palghar district, which is infamous for its high malnutrition rates, and reached the same results.
  10. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) supports community-based management along with RUTF. In 2013, a UNICEF report observed that if properly used, “RUTF is safe, cost-effective, and has saved hundreds of thousands of children’s lives.” UNICEF data show around 20 million children worldwide suffer from SAM, of which 10-15 per cent received treatment through RUTF.
  11. The UNICEF has expanded its supplier base to reduce the cost of RUTF. India is one of 16 countries where local manufacturers have been given UNICEF accreditation — two manufacturers have so far been empanelled. Research in The Lancet found malnourished children ran a nine times higher risk of death than normal children; the UNICEF report said RUTF contains all nutrients needed for the recovery of such SAM children.
  12. What are the other concerns about RUTF?
    Cost is a major concern. RUTF is a medical intervention, and at Rs 25 per packet, a single child’s treatment with three RUTF doses a day will cost Rs 2,250 a month. Given that well over a third of all children aged under five years are stunted or underweight, the implementation of an RUTF regime will impose a massive financial burden on the government.
  13. A small study by Janarth Adivasi Vikas Sanstha in tribal Nandurbar district showed that children who were given RUTF found it too heavy to eat anything else afterward. Also, once RUTF was stopped, children often slipped back into malnutrition. There is no largescale study of post-RUTF treated children in India so far, but health activists say it cannot be a permanent solution. A Cochrane study from 2013 argued that the benefits of RUTF needed more intensive research — “RUTF may improve recovery slightly, but we do not know whether RUTF improves relapse, death or weight gain as the quality of evidence was very low”, the study said.
  14. So where is this situation headed now?
    The Health Ministry is working to develop guidelines and a toolkit for early childhood development that would encourage frontline workers to counsel families on nutrition and feeding practices. The Ministry’s SAM Alliance research observed that management of SAM children “involves family-centric approach instead of food-centric approach”. Handholding of families of SAM children is essential for optimal childcare practices, along with adequate hygiene and sanitation.
  15. Pradip Prabhu, who moved Bombay High Court in August against the Maharashtra government’s decision to initiate RUTF, said rural and tribal families can only consume traditional food, and children must not be driven away from hot cooked meals. “Dependence on therapeutic food cannot be permanent. Children will stop consuming home cooked meals if anganwadis regularly give SAM kids RUTF,” Prabhu said.
  16. Activists from Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), who have questioned the implementation of RUTF, said not all children given RUTF emerge out of malnutrition. “A more holistic solution is needed, which includes counselling on breastfeeding and family planning to ensure low birth weight babies are not born, and proper functioning of anganwadis so that at least regular meals are provided to children,” said Latika Rajput of the NBA.

 

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  1. Significant reductions in mortality from pneumonia, diarrhoea, neonatal infections and birth asphyxia 

One Million Children Saved ____________ One million children saved, says a new study published in the Lancet 

India has avoided about 1 million (10 lakh) deaths of children under age five since 2005, owing to the significant reductions in mortality from pneumonia, diarrhoea, neonatal infections and birth asphyxia/trauma, measles and tetanus, according to study published in the latest issue of The Lancet.The ‘India’s Million Death Study’, implemented by the Registrar General of India,is the first study to directly quantify changes in cause-specific child deaths in India, nationally and sub-nationally, from 2000-15 among randomly selected homes.

The study further illustrates that the conditions prioritized under the National Health Mission had the greatest declines. Pneumonia and diarrhea mortality fell by over 60% (most of the decline due to effective treatment), mortality from birth-related breathing and trauma during delivery fell by 66% (most of the decline due to more births occurring in hospital), and measles and tetanus mortality fell by 90% (mostly due to special immunization campaigns against each). The study states that mortality rate (per 1000 live births) fell in neonates from 45 in 2000 to 27 in 2015 (3.3% annual decline) and 1-59 month mortality rate fell from 45.2 in 2000 to 19.6 in 2015 (5.4% annual decline). Further, amongst 1-59 months, pneumonia fell by 63%, diarrhoea fell by 66% and measles fell by more than 90%. These declines were greater in girls, indicating that India has, remarkably, equal numbers of girls and boys dying, a significant improvement from just a few years ago.Pneumonia and diarrhoea mortality rates for 1-59 months declined substantially between 2010 and 2015 at an average of 8-10 % annual decline nationally and more so in the rural areas and poorer states.

The Million Death Study builds on the SRS by directly monitoring the causes of death in over 1.3 million (13 lakh) homes. Since 2001, about 900 staff interviewed about 100,000 (1 lakh) living members in all homes who had a child die (about 53,000 deaths in the first month of life and 42,000 at 1-59 months)every six months and completed a simple two-page form with a local language half-page narrative describing the deceased’s symptoms and treatments. The records have been digitized and each one uniformly coded for cause of death independently by two of about 400 trained physicians, using World Health Organization approved procedures. This is a direct study based on face-to-face interviews with families, and is not based on modeling or projections from small samples.

The results signify that the strategic approach of the Health Ministry has started yielding dividends and the efforts of focusing on low performing States is paying off.

 

 

5. Global Hunger Index _________________ India stood at 97th position in last year’s rankings.

India has a “serious” hunger problem and ranks 100th out of 119 countries on the global hunger index — behind North Korea, Bangladesh and Iraq but ahead of Pakistan, according to a report.

The country’s serious hunger level is driven by high child malnutrition and underlines need for stronger commitment to the social sector, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) said in its report.

India stood at 97th position in last year’s rankings.

“India is ranked 100th out of 119 countries, and has the third highest score in all of Asia — only Afghanistan and Pakistan are ranked worse,” IFPRI said in a statement.

“At 31.4, India’s 2017 GHI (Global Hunger Index) score is at the high end of the ‘serious’ category, and is one of the main factors pushing South Asia to the category of worst performing region on the GHI this year, followed closely by Africa South of the Sahara,” it added.

As per the report, India ranks below many of its neighbouring countries such as China (29th rank), Nepal (72), Myanmar (77), Sri Lank (84) and Bangladesh (88). It is ahead of Pakistan (106) and Afghanistan (107).

North Korea ranks 93rd while Iraq is at 78th position.

The GHI, now in its 12th year, ranks countries based on four key indicators — undernourishment, child mortality, child wasting and child stunting.

The report ranked 119 countries in the developing world, nearly half of which have ‘extremely alarming,’ ‘alarming’ or ’serious’ hunger levels.

“India’s high ranking on the Global Hunger Index [GHI] again this year brings to the fore the disturbing reality of the country’s stubbornly high proportions of malnourished children,” the statement said.

IFPRI pointed out that more than one-fifth of Indian children under five weigh too little for their height and over a third are too short for their age.

“Even with the massive scale up of national nutrition-focused programmes in India, drought and structural deficiencies have left large number of poor in India at risk of malnourishment in 2017,” said P.K. Joshi, IFPRI Director for South Asia.

However, he said that the on-going efforts are expected to make significant changes in improving the existing situation.

Mr. Joshi appreciated that India has developed and launched an action plan on ‘undernourishment free India’ by 2022. The plan shows stronger commitment and greater investments in tackling malnutrition in the coming years.

“As of 2015-16, more than a fifth [21%] of children in India suffer from wasting [low weight for height] — up from 20% in 2005-2006,” IFPRI said.

Only three other countries in this year’s GHI — Djibouti, Sri Lanka and South Sudan — show child wasting above 20%. India’s child wasting rate has not shown any substantial improvement over the past 25 years.

However, India has made considerable improvement in reducing its child stunting rate, down 29% since 2000, but even that progress leaves India with a relatively high stunting rate of 38.4.

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5. Public Health Cadre ___ The case for a public health cadre A service, on the lines of the IAS, will improve India’s health-care delivery

The idea of having dedicated personnel for public health management goes back to 1959 when advocated by the Mudaliar Committee, which observed that “personnel dealing with problems of health and welfare should have a comprehensive and wide outlook and rich experience of administration at the state level”.

It was echoed too, in 1973, by the Kartar Singh Committee, which said that “doctors with no formal training in infectious disease control, surveillance systems, data management, community health related problems, and lacking in leadership and communication skills, with no exposure to rural environments and their social dynamics, nor having been trained to manage a facility or draw up budget estimates, were ill-equipped and misfits to work in public facilities”.

It was also felt that “the medical education that [a doctor] receives has hardly any relevance to the conditions in which he would be required to work, either in the state-run health programme or even in private practice… since medical education is based almost entirely on the western model, and where he is more suitable for the conditions that prevail in western countries than in his own.”

The 12th Five Year Plan and the National Health Policy, 2017 have also strongly advocated establishing a public health management cadre to improve the quality of health services by having dedicated, trained and exclusive personnel to run public health facilities.

Ground zero

Tamil Nadu took the lead in this and there has been a discernible difference in the way health delivery is done there vis-à-vis Uttar Pradesh. For example, in U.P., even in a tertiary hospital, according to media reports, simple record keeping of oxygen cylinders is not followed.

Recently, Odisha, with the support of the Public Health Foundation of India, has notified the establishment of a public health cadre in the hope of ensuring vast improvement in the delivery of health care. Despite the creation of a public health cadre finding mention in various reports and Plan documents, such a service at the all-India level has still to translate itself into reality any time soon due to a series of complex factors.

Why have such a cadre? The idea is on the lines of the civil service — of having dedicated, professionally trained personnel to address the specific and complex needs of the Indian health-care delivery system which is grappling with issues such as a lack of standardisation, financial management, appropriate health functionaries and competencies including technical expertise, logistics management, and social determinants of health and leadership. Doctors with clinical qualifications and even with vast experience are unable to address all these challenges, thereby hampering the quality of our public health-care system. Now, doctors recruited by the States and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (through the Union Public Service Commission) are to implement multiple, complex and large public health programmes besides applying fundamental management techniques. In most places, this is neither structured nor of any quality. In the absence of a public health cadre in most States, even an anaesthetist or an ophthalmologist with hardly any public health knowledge and its principles is required to implement reproductive and child health or a malaria control programme. Further, at the Ministry level, the highest post may be held by a person with no formal training in the principles of public health to guide and advise the country on public health issues.

With a public health cadre in place, we will have personnel who can apply the principles of public health management to avoid mistakes such as one that led to the tragedy in Uttar Pradesh as well as deliver quality services. This will definitely improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the Indian health system. With quality and a scientific implementation of public health programmes, the poor will also stand to benefit as this will reduce their out-of-pocket expenditure and dependence on prohibitively expensive private health care. In the process, we will also be saving the precious resources of specialists from other branches by deploying them in areas where they are definitely needed.

The way forward

Such an exclusive department of public health at both the levels of the Ministry and the States will help in developing the recruitment, training, implementation and monitoring of public health management cadre. Doctors recruited under this cadre may be trained in public health management on the lines of the civil service with compulsory posting for two-three years at public health facilities. Filling the post of director general in the Health Ministry from this cadre with similar arrangements at the State level including the posts of mission directors will go a long way in improving planning and providing much-needed public health leadership. Financial support for establishing the cadre is also to be provisioned by the Central government under the Health Ministry’s budget.

Lastly, another benefit will be the freeing up of bureaucrats and their utilisation in other much needed places.

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7. Index for Tracking Performance of Hospitals Niti, HealthMin launch index to assess performance of district hospitals

Under this framework, ranks would be generated on an online portal with no manual entries and minimal additional work for states.

With an aim to assess the performance of district hospitals based on their outcomes, the Centre’s think-tank Niti Aayog, in a joint-exercise with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, has launched an index focusing primarily on outputs, including for the first time feedback from the patients.

“Despite large funds being allocated to district hospitals and their critical role in healthcare provision, there is no comprehensive system to assess their performance based on outcomes. To address this lacuna, Niti Aayog, today (Friday), launched a framework to track the performance of district hospitals across all States/UTs  focusing primarily on outputs and outcomes,” an official statement said, adding that nearly 700 hospitals would be a part of this exercise.

Under this framework, ranks would be generated on an online portal with no manual entries and minimal additional work for states. Data will be validated before getting displayed on the online portal in the form of hospital rankings.

“This framework for ranking district hospitals, with focus on achieving key health outcomes, is expected to foster a competitive spirit amongst district hospitals and states in addition to in fostering a culture of cooperation by way of sharing of good practices. Further, it will help identify facilities which need focus and those that need to be incentivised by the state governments,” the statement said.

Niti Aayog already ranks states based on social sector indices such as health services, education, and clean water. In December, Niti Aayog had launched a performance index on outcomes of health services that was expected to push the states to improve their systems for these services.

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  1. Passive Euthanasia ___________________ The term “passive euthanasia” used by the Supreme Court in its verdict on Aruna Shanbaug’s case is defined as the withdrawal of medical treatment with the deliberate intention to hasten a terminally ill-patient’s death.

    Various medical and legal dictionaries say passive euthanasia is the act of hastening the death of a terminally-ill patient by altering some form of support and letting nature take its course.

    Passive euthanasia can involve turning off respirators, halting medications, discontinuing food and water so the patient dies because of dehydration or starvation.

    Passive euthanasia can include giving the patient large doses of morphine to control pain in spite of the likelihood that the painkiller can cause fatal respiratory problems.

    Active euthanasia involves helping the patient to die on the basis of a request by either the patient of those close to him or her, usually direct family members.

A well-known example of active euthanasia is the death of a terminally ill Michigan patient on September 17, 1998. On that date, Dr. Jack Kevorkian videotaped himself administering a lethal medication to Thomas Youk, 52, who suffered with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

CBS broadcast the videotape on 60 Minutes less than a week later. Authorities subsequently charged Kevorkian with first-degree premeditated murder, criminal assistance of a suicide, and delivery of a controlled substance for administering lethal medication to a terminally ill man.

  1. There was no dispute that the dose was administered at the request of Youk, nor any dispute that Youk was terminally ill. A jury found Kevorkian guilty of second-degree murder in 1999. He was sent to prison.

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9. Sex with a Minor Wife Amounts to Rape _ Exception clause to the heinous offence of rape allows a man to have sex with his wife who is not aged below 15.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday held that sexual intercourse by a man with his wife, who is below 18 years of age, is rape.

A girl child below the age of 18 cannot be treated as a commodity having no say over her body or someone who has no right to deny sexual intercourse to her husband, the Supreme Court held.

“Human rights of a girl child are very much alive and kicking whether she is married or not and deserve recognition and acceptance,” a Bench of Justices Madan B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta observed.

Separate judgments

The two judges wrote separate judgments totalling 127 pages. The court read down Exception 2 to Section 375 (rape) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which allowed the husband of a girl child — between 15 and 18 years of age — blanket liberty and freedom to have non-consensual sexual intercourse with her. Her willingness or consent was of no concern. The husband in such cases was not punished for rape.

 

The exception had remained an anomaly because Section 375 itself mandated that sex with a girl below 18 years of age, with or without her consent, was statutory rape. An unmarried girl child can prosecute her rapist, but a married girl child aged between 15 and 18 could not even do that, Justice Lokur said, pointing out the injustice.

“A child remains a child whether she is described as a street child or a surrendered child or an abandoned child or an adopted child. Similarly, a child remains a child whether she is a married child or an unmarried child or a divorced child or a separated or widowed child. At this stage we are reminded of Shakespeare’s eternal view that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet — so also with the status of a child, despite any prefix,” Justice Lokur wrote.

The court, however, refrained from dealing with the issue of marital rape of a woman aged above 18.

With this judgment, considered by experts as trigger to declaring child marriage void ab initio, the court ended the decades-old disparity between Exception 2 to Section 375 IPC and other child protection laws.

These include the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act of 2006, Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act and Juvenile Justice Act, all which define a “child” as someone who is below 18 years of age.

The court held that the exception clause to rape, carved out in the IPC, created an unnecessary and artificial distinction between a married girl child and an unmarried girl child. The clause took away the right of a girl child to bodily integrity and reproductive choice. It had even the effect of turning a blind eye to trafficking of the minor girl children in the guise of marriage.

What is the conflict between IPC 375 and POCSO Act.? “Almost every statute in India recognises that a girl below 18 years of age is a child and it is for this reason that the law penalises sexual intercourse with a girl who is below 18 years of age. Unfortunately, by virtue of Exception 2 to Section 375 of the IPC, if a girl child between 15 and 18 years of age is married, her husband can have non-consensual sexual intercourse with her, without being penalised under the IPC, only because she is married to him and for no other reason,” the apex court explained the discrimination shown to a ‘married’ girl child.

The apex court held that the exception clause will henceforth be “meaningfully” read as: “Sexual intercourse or sexual acts by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under 18 years of age, is not rape.”

The court, however, refrained from dealing with the issue of marital rape of a woman above 18 years of age.

Few prosecutions

Justice Gupta, in a separate judgment, dealt with the abysmally low number of prosecutions and annulments of marriage filed under Prohibition of Child Marriage Act (PCMA).

“I am not oblivious to the harsh reality that most of the child brides are even below the age of 15 years. There is a practice in many parts of the country where children, both girls and boys, are married off, even before they attain puberty. They are innocent children, who do not even understand what marriage is,” Justice Gupta wrote.

 

Though child marriage is prohibited, it is not automatically void under India’s civil laws. The court criticised the fact that PCMA makes child marriage only voidable, that is, the burden is placed on the child bride to approach a court to declare her marriage a nullity. She has to do this within two years of attaining majority, that is by the time she is 20 years old. If not, the marriage continues.

Govt. pulled up

The court slammed the government for trying to “somehow legitimise” the exception clause. Instead of attempting to effectively implement and enforce the anti-child marriage law, the government diluted it by creating artificial distinctions The government had urged the court not to tinker with the exception clause as it was introduced keeping in view the age-old traditions and evolving social norms. The government had argued that the “practice of child marriage cannot be wished away and, therefore, legislature in its wisdom has thought it fit not to criminalise the consummation of such child marriages”.

Countering this, the court said the exception clause “statutorily cancels a girl child’s right to decline sexual intercourse with her husband.”

“Union of India cannot be oblivious to the existence of the trauma faced by a girl child who is married between 15 and 18 years of age or to the three pro-child statutes and other human rights obligations… The government tried to somehow legitimise child marriage,” Justice Lokur shot back.

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10.  Sex Ratio Increase: Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP) Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao led to improvement in sex ratio at birth’

The WCD ministry now plans to extend this programme all the districts of the country. The senior official was comparing 2016-2017 figures with those of 2015-2016.

The government on Friday claimed that there has been an improvement in sex ratio at birth in 104 districts selected for the Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao (BBBP) scheme, which aims at checking female infanticide and educating the girl child. “An increasing trend in Sex Ratio at Birth (SRB) is visible in 104 districts, 119 districts have reported progress in registration of pregnancies in the first trimester and 146 districts have shown improvement in institutional deliveries,” Secretary, Women and Child Development (WCD) Ministry, R K Shrivastava told reporters.

The WCD ministry now plans to extend this programme all the districts of the country. The senior official was comparing 2016-2017 figures with those of 2015-2016. The data for the above three parameters is derived from health ministry’s Health Management Information System (HIMS).

The BBBP scheme is one of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet projects and was launched by him in January, 2015 in Panipat, Haryana. It focuses on districts with the worst child sex ratio (CSR) as per the 2011 Census.

The goal of the programme is to address the issue of decline in child sex ratio in critical districts through an awareness campaign as well as multi-sectoral interventions, which include registration of pregnancies in first trimester, increased institutional deliveries, and prohibition of sex-determination. Of the 161 selected districts, the top five districts that showed improvement in sex ratio at birth (SRB) in 2016-2017 as compared to the previous year were Dibang Valley (761 to 1176); Lakshwadeep (832 to 955); Hamirpur, Himachal Pradesh (849 to 943); Kadapa, Andhra Pradesh (500-594) and Pulwama, Jammu and Kashmir (949-1018).

The five districts that have shown the sharpest decline during the same time period are Saiha, Mizoram (1022-898), Nicobar (948-839), Shopian, J&K (1062-959), Bandipore, J&K (964-885) and Ghaziabad (977-908). SRB is the number of girls born for every 1,000 boys and is recorded at birth. This data is collected annually. CSR is recorded for a population in the age group of 0 to 6 years and is collected once in 10 years. It is primarily influenced by SRB and mortality in early childhood.

Haryana, which has the worst child sex ratio according to the 2011 census (834 girls for every 1000 boys against the national average of 918), has shown improvement in sex ratio at birth in 18 of the total 20 districts selected in the state for the programme. The other two districts have shown a decline, according to Joint Secretary, WCD, K Moses Chalai. “Ten years of SRB is equal to CSR. So naturally, if SRB improves it will result in an improved CSR. While we can’t compare CSR with SRB we have seen that broadly SRB for two years is on an improving trend and above the CSR of 2011,” Moses Chalai told reporters.

In Rajasthan, of the total 40 districts selected, 10 have recorded an improvement in sex ratio at birth and in Punjab 14 out of total 20 districts have shown an upward trend, according to Moses.

In Uttar Pradesh, 21 districts were selected for BBBP and 15 have shown an improvement in sex ratio at birth. Five have shown a decline and the remaining one district has been “stable”.

 

 

  1. WHO Guidelines on Responding to Child Sex Abuse

Responding to children and adolescents who have been sexually abused

WHO publishes new guidelines

19 October 2017 Millions of children and adolescents across the globe are subjected to sexual abuse, including sexual assault or rape. A 2011 study estimates that 18% of girls, and 8% of boys worldwide have experienced sexual abuse. This abuse is a major public health problem and a grave violation of human rights. Health care providers have an important role in identifying abuse and providing child or adolescent-centred care to disclosure of abuse. They also have an important role in connecting survivors to other services that they may need.

 

For the first time, WHO has published guidelines to help (primarily) front-line healthcare providers give high-quality, compassionate, and respectful care to children and adolescents (up to age 18) who have or may have experienced sexual abuse, including sexual assault or rape.

 

About the guidelines

The new WHO Clinical Guidelines for responding to children and adolescents who have been sexually abused are grounded in human rights standards and ethical principles. They recommend that healthcare providers put the best interests of children and adolescents first by assessing and promoting their safety; ensuring confidentiality and privacy; offering choices in provision of care; respecting their autonomy and wishes; and addressing the specific needs of boys and girls with additional vulnerabilities, such as LGBTI adolescents, children and adolescents with disabilities, and those from low socio-economic groups and indigenous populations, and ensuring provision of care to them without discrimination.

Consequences of sexual abuse

UNICEF/Noorani

Girls and boys who experience abuse often face a number of short and long term negative consequences for their mental, physical, sexual, and reproductive health and well-being. Boys and girls who are sexually abused face higher risks of lifetime diagnoses of post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, externalizing symptoms, sleep disorders, and having thoughts of suicide and self-harm. They are more likely to engage in unsafe-sex, abuse of drugs and misuse of alcohol, placing them at higher risk for STIs and HIV and for other negative health outcomes that last into adulthood. For girls there is also increased risk of pregnancy and gynaecological disorders.

Adolescents and children at the centre

The new guidelines address an important gap in providing quality and trauma-informed care to survivors by placing emphasis on the safety, wishes, autonomy of children and adolescents.

Health care providers are recommended to:

  1. Provide first line support that is child or adolescent-centred and gender sensitive in response to disclosure of sexual abuse.
  2. Minimize additional trauma and distress while taking medical history, conducting the examination and documenting the findings.
  3. Offer HIV post-exposure prophylaxis and adherence support to those who have been raped and who present within 72 hours.
  4. Offer emergency contraception to girls who have been raped and who present within 120 hours/ 5 days.
  5. Consider STI presumptive treatment or prophylaxis in settings where laboratory testing is not feasible.
  6. Offer Hepatitis B and HPV vaccination as per national guidance.
  7. Consider cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) with a trauma focus for those have PTSD symptoms and diagnosis and where safe and appropriate to do so involve at least 1 non-offending caregiver.
  8. Where required to report child sexual abuse to designated authorities, health care providers should inform the child or adolescent and their non-offending caregivers about the obligation to report the abuse and the limits of confidentiality before interviewing them.

Helping countries worldwide

The new guidelines will assist WHO Member States to ensure the health and wellbeing of children and adolescents and implement the Global Plan of Action on strengthening the health systems response to violence against women and girls and against children, endorsed by the World Health Assembly in May 2016.

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12. Global Gender Gap Report 2017 ______ Moves to 108th place, behind neighbours China and Bangladesh, primarily due to less participation of women in the economy and low wages.

India slipped 21 places on the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Gender Gap index to 108, behind neighbours China and Bangladesh, primarily due to less participation of women in the economy and low wages.

Moreover, India’s latest ranking is 10 notches lower than its reading in 2006 when the WEF started measuring the gender gap.

According to the WEF Global Gender Gap Report 2017, India has closed 67% of its gender gap, less than many of its international peers, and some of its neighbours like Bangladesh ranked 47th while China was placed at 100th.

Globally also, this year’s story is a bleak one. For the first time since the WEF began measuring the gap across four pillars — health, education, the workplace and political representation — the global gap has actually widened.

“A decade of slow but steady progress on improving parity between the sexes came to a halt in 2017, with the global gender gap widening for the first time since the WEF’s Global Gender Gap Report was first published in 2006,” it said.

The findings in this year’s report, published today, showed that an overall 68% of the global gender gap has been closed. This is a slight deterioration from 2016 when the gap closed was 68.3%.

At the current rate of progress, the global gender gap will take 100 years to bridge, compared to 83 last year.

The case is worse in terms of workplace gender divide, which the report estimates will take 217 years to close.

On a positive note, however, a number of countries are bucking the dismal global trend as over one-half of all 144 countries measured this year have seen their score improve in the past 12 months, the report noted.

At the top of the Global Gender Gap Index is Iceland. The country has closed nearly 88% of its gap. It has been the world’s most gender-equal country for nine years.

Others in the top 10 include Norway (2nd), Finland (3rd), Rwanda (4) and Sweden (5), Nicaragua (6) and Slovenia (7), Ireland (8), New Zealand (9) and the Philippines (10).

India’s greatest challenges lie in the economic participation and opportunity pillar where the country is ranked 139 as well as health and survival pillar where the country is ranked 141, the WEF said.

The report attributed much of India’s decline in position on the overall Global Gender Gap Index to a widening of its gender gaps in political empowerment as well as healthy life expectancy and basic literacy.

“With more than 50 years having passed since the inauguration of the nation’s first female prime minister in 1966, maintaining its global top 20 ranking on the political empowerment sub-index will require India to make progress on this dimension with a new generation of female political leadership,” the report said.

Moreover, the scale of India’s gender gap in women’s share among legislators, senior officials and managers as well as professional and technical workers highlights that continued efforts will be needed to achieve parity in economic opportunity and participation.

In India, the workplace gender gap is reinforced by extremely low participation of women in the economy (136 out of the total 144 countries covered) and low wages for those who work (136th ranking for estimated earned income), the WEF said, adding that “on average, 66% of women’s work in India is unpaid, compared to 12% of men’s“.

On a positive note, India succeeded in fully closing its primary and secondary education enrolment gender gaps for the second year running and for the first time has nearly closed its tertiary education gender gap. However, it continues to rank fourth-lowest in the world on health and survival, remaining the world’s least-improved country on this sub-index over the past decade, the WEF stated.

“Competitiveness on a national and on a business level will be decided more than ever before by the innovative capacity of a country or a company. Those will succeed best who understand to integrate women as an important force into their talent pool,” said Klaus Schwab, founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum (WEF).

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13. India State Level Disease Burden ReportBurden of disease shifts to non-communicable ailments

 _Shift from infectious diseases spurred by unhealthy diets, pollution, high blood pressure

The ‘India State Level Disease Burden’ report, prepared as part of the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) Study 2016, and published in Lancet, has found that every State in India has a higher burden from non-communicable diseases and injuries than from infectious diseases. The study used multiple data sources to map State-level disease burden from 333 disease conditions and injuries, and 83 risk factors for each State from 1990 to 2016. It was released by Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu here on Tuesday.

“The contribution of non-communicable diseases to health loss — fuelled by unhealthy diets, high blood pressure, and blood sugar — has doubled in India over the past two decades. Air pollution and tobacco smoking continue to be major contributors to health loss. However, the extent of these risk factors varies considerably across the States of India,” said Dr. K. Srinath Reddy, president of the Public Health Foundation of India, one of the partners of the India State-level Disease Burden Initiative (ISDBI).

The estimates are based on analysis of all identifiable epidemiological data from India over 25 years. The report, which provides the first comprehensive set of state-level disease burden data, risk factors estimates, and trends for each state in India, is expected to inform health planning with a view toward reducing health inequalities among States.

Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, director-general ICMR and Secretary, Health Research, Government of India, who closely guided the work of the ISDBI, said: “The effort was to produce an open-access, public good knowledge base, which has the potential of making fundamental and long-term contributions to improving health in every state of the country, through provision of the best possible composite trends of disease burden and risk factors for policy makers to utilise in their decision making.”

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14. Private health care _________________

Ensure transparency and ethical practices in hospital affairs rather than victimising well-meaning doctors

Private healthcare in India is in the eye of a storm following a series of scandals. The latest is a well known private hospital handing over a dead infant who was thereafter discovered to be still alive. As is to be expected, States are raising the regulatory ante. West Bengal has instituted a regulatory commission and Karnataka has amended and strengthened its 2007 regulation. The union health ministry has written to all States asking them to adopt its 2010 framework, which many have not till now.

Private healthcare is fighting back. Doctors in Karnataka organised public protests and changes were made in the final legislation removing the provision for imprisonment as a punishment. Corporate hospitals are saying we don’t make all that much — 10 per cent return on capital employed, just enough to plough back something.

Private equity funds which were rushing in to invest in Indian healthcare are now having second thoughts. There is something wrong when costly private healthcare becomes the flavour of the season for investment in a poor country where public health service is totally inadequate.

Cuts that hurt

If leading corporate hospitals charging very high rates are making just about enough, where is the money going? A critical clue is provided by the income tax department which unearthed in Bengaluru a widespread practice of doctors and diagnostic laboratories in league to fleece patients. Reportedly, doctors get a referral fee of 35 per cent for MRI tests and 20 per cent for CT scans and other diagnostic tests.

A few months ago the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority imposed price ceilings on stents and knee replacements which brought down their costs to patients by over half.

Regulation of private healthcare, when it is the mainstay, is a must. But India is notorious for bureaucratic and rent-seeking regulation. Also, doctors must take critical judgement calls, sometimes at short notice. Even the best doctors with enormous experience make mistakes. The system can hardly work if they begin to play safe.

For regulation to work, it has to have a light touch, be quick with findings and give the benefit of doubt where due. The regulatory body has to be high-powered, politically independent and represent all sections of stakeholders, particularly patients and NGOs active in the field.

The regulator should insist on transparency — hospitals clearly publicising their rates for standard treatments and procedures. Also, there should be normative rates for different types of hospitals as not all private hospitals are posh or located in costly cities.

Health insurance companies, through third party administrators, have approved rates for procedures but the problem is patients invariably pay extra for expenses not approved by TPAs.

Hospitals should publicise standard packages and rationale for additional charges levied recorded. The regulator should get regular data on the percentage of deviation from standard packages. For example, hospital A can report that in December 15 per cent of the patients paid 10 per cent more than the cost of packages. The regulator can then investigate the outliers.

Check commissions
Doctors are the anchors of the healthcare system and most societies hold doctors in high esteem. Conversely, unethical practices cannot be widespread without the active participation of doctors. The foremost job of regulators is to ensure that doctors are not paid commissions for referring patients to diagnostic centres or bringing them to hospitals.

Many hospitals pay a commission to consultants on the bills run up by patients who are under their supervision. While inducements offered by pharma companies are easier to track and prevent, commissions paid by diagnostic centres and hospitals are more difficult to track. The code of ethics of the Medical Council of India for professionals disallows this but it seems a dead letter.

One way in which hospitals can avoid paying commission to consultants is not to have outside consultants, engage them full time and pay them a salary. Narayana Health has only full time consultants. Its charges are at the lower end of the range for Bengaluru corporate hospitals and it sticks to the declared rates for standard treatments and procedures.

There is a sound economic logic for frowning upon the payment of commission to doctors. It creates adverse incentives. The more a doctor recommends diagnostic tests or that a patient should be kept longer in the ICU, the more he earns.

In fact, there is an inherent dilemma with for profit healthcare. It is legitimate for a private hospital to maximise revenue and profit but that implies having a system which seeks to maximise patient expenditure. That is why societies with well run public health services have more disciplined private healthcare providers.

Information asymmetry

But even then another dilemma remains: how to pick and choose between different private providers. In healthcare there is an asymmetry of information. The patient does not know which provider or procedure is good for him. Takshashila Institution suggests an independent Patient Protection Service with one of its officers posted in each hospital with 150-300 beds. Across the world religious and secular nonprofit hospitals carry a big healthcare load. They seek to function professionally, relying mostly on philanthropy to meet their deficits. But storm clouds are gathering over some of them in India.

The Catholic Health Association of India (CHAI), India’s largest non-government network with nearly 2,000 hospitals, is facing multiple challenges. Getting global funding is becoming difficult as the economy booms and India is no longer seen as very poor.

The central government’s policy on foreign funding for NGOs is another hurdle. Plus, retaining the unique pool of motivated doctors and nurses is getting difficult with corporate hospitals making better offers. The association feels it has to seek out social entrepreneurs who do not look for just profit.

“The healthcare scenario is changing” and it is important “for us to look at new ways of generating funds, look for the right investors,” says CHAI director general Mathew Abraham.

 

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  1. India Youth Development Index and Report 2017_

Union Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports (Independent Charge) Col. Rajyavardhan Rathore here today released the India Youth Development Index and Report 2017.  The objective of constructing the India Youth Development Index (YDI) 2017 is to track the trends in Youth Development across the States. The Index enables recognizing the high and low performing states, identifies the weak domains and informs the policy makers the priority areas of intervention for youth development in the states.

 

The Rajiv Gandhi National Institute of Youth Development (RGNIYD), Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu, an Institute of National Importance has come out with Youth Development Index and Report 2017. This is a pioneering attempt made by the Institute in 2010 which it followed up with the India Youth Development Index in 2017.

 

Constructing Youth Development Index for the year 2017 was done using the latest definition of youth as used in National Youth Policy – 2014 (India) and World Youth Development Report of Commonwealth (15 – 29 years) as well as using the Commonwealth Indicators in order to facilitate Global comparison.

 

In the India Youth Development Index 2017, the first five dimensions are retained same as that of Global YDI. The indicators and weights have been modified based on the availability of data at sub-national level and the importance of the indicators in explaining Youth Development with the aim of capturing the multidimensional properties that indicate progress in youth development at the sub-national level i.e., state level. Global YDI is different from YDI constructed for India in one unique way; YDI for India adds a new domain, social inclusion, to assess the inclusiveness of societal progress as structural inequalities persist in Indian society. This construction helps to identify the gaps that require intensification of policy intervention.

 

This report is of immense value to enable comparisons across geographical areas and categories, as human development index has done in comparing the development situation across regions, nations and localities. The index also measures the achievements made besides serving as an advocacy tool for youth development and facilitates to identify priority areas for development of Policy and Interventions.

 

As an effective decision – support tool, the YDI-2017 will enable the policy makers track the national and the regional progress as well setbacks in youth development policies, planning, priority identification and implementation strategies. Besides providing insights to suggest alternatives and options, it also aids in judicious allocation of resources.

Key facts

  • The index has been developed by the Rajiv Gandhi National Institute of Youth Development (RGNIYD) in Tamil Nadu.
  • The objective of constructing the India Youth Development Index (YDI) 2017 is to track the trends in Youth Development across the States.
  • For constructing Youth Development Index for the year 2017, the latest definition of youth (15-29 years) as used in India’s National Youth Policy – 2014 and World Youth Development Report of Commonwealth has been taken into consideration.
  • In the India Youth Development Index 2017, the first five dimensions are retained same as that of Global YDI.  Global YDI is different from YDI constructed for India; YDI for India adds a new domain, social inclusion.
  • The YDI-2017 will enable the policy maker’s track the national and the regional progress as well setbacks in youth development policies, planning, priority identification and implementation strategies. Besides providing insights to suggest alternatives and options, it also aids in the judicious allocation of resources.

 

  1. National Rural Drinking Water Programme

 

The aim and objective of National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) is to provide every rural person with adequate safe water for drinking, cooking and other basic domestic needs on a sustainable basis, with a minimum water quality standard, which should be conveniently accessible at all times and in all situations. Achieving this aim and objective is a continuous process.

 

In the 12th Five Year Plan period, under the NRDWP, the Ministry is giving special emphasis on piped water supply in rural habitations. States are being asked to plan for coverage of habitations with piped water supply through stand posts or household connections. In addition to the fact that this shall reduce the drudgery and time taken in the collection of water, it shall also facilitate in tackling the problem of drinking water quality in the habitations affected with water issues. In addition, to accelerate the setting up piped water supply systems in rural areas in States where such coverage is low, the Ministry has proposed a project with World Bank support in parts of Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh which focuses on setting up piped water supply systems. At the beginning of Bharat Nirman Phase I, as on 1.4.2005, it was targeted to cover 55,067 uncovered, 3,31,604 slipped back and 2,16,968 quality affected habitations with adequate safe drinking water supply. Against this, as reported by the States on the online Integrated Management Information System (IMIS) of Ministry of Drinking Water & Sanitation, as on 15.8.2013, 55,193 uncovered, 8,33,304 partially covered/slipped back and 1,52,371 quality affected habitations have been covered. This includes newly identified Uncovered, Slipped-back, partially covered habitations and Quality affected habitations.

 

The reasons for not fully achieving the targets of coverage of habitations include high capital costs of large multi-village schemes to bring water from distant safe sources, time taken for planning, designing, sanctioning, procuring, execution and commissioning of such schemes, slipping back of habitations to partially covered status due to drying up of drinking water sources; lowering of ground water table; drinking water sources becoming contaminated due to natural and man-made causes; water supply systems outliving their life; systems working below rated capacities; poor operation and management of systems; increase in population and emergence of new habitations, procurement issues, etc.

 

To assist in addressing the above issues, the Government of India provides financial and technical assistance to States under the NRDWP, to supplement their efforts to provide adequate safe drinking water to the rural population. In 2013-14, Rs. 11000 crore has been allocated under the NRDWP. In order to achieve the targets under NRDWP, the State Governments are vested with powers to plan, approve and implement drinking water supply schemes. The State Governments, in consultation with the Central Ministry, prepare Annual Action Plans (AAP) each year, to implement rural water supply schemes to cover partially covered and quality affected habitations and for other activities.

 

To ensure sustainability of functioning of rural water supply schemes, the States have to adopt improved Operation & Maintenance (O&M) methods for their better working and to control leakages. Up to 15% of funds allocated to States under NRDWP can be utilised for O&M. To ensure the sustainability of drinking water sources, the State can utilise 10% of their allocation. To ensure supply of safe drinking water, 5% of national allocation is earmarked for allocation to States with chemical contamination affected habitations and areas reporting Japanese Encephalitis and Acute Encephalitis cases (JE/AES). Further, 67% of funds allocated to States can be utilised for coverage of water quality affected habitations. To facilitate water quality testing, a separate Water Quality Monitoring & Surveillance Component with 3% of NRDWP allocation has been created to strengthen water quality testing practices in States. To incentivise States to involve the Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRI) in the planning, operation and management for drinking water supply schemes, a Management Devolution Index has been formulated to measure the extent of devolution of powers made by States to the PRIs with respect to Funds, Functions and Functionaries in regard to drinking water supply. 10% of funds under NRDWP are kept for allocation to States on the basis of their MDI scores. The Ministry has set up a robust web-based monitoring mechanism at the central level to monitor the implementation of water supply schemes under the NRDWP in the States.

National Rural Drinking Water Programme NRDWP

Under the National Rural Drinking Water Programme NRDWP, various mechanisms have been put in place to monitor the activities at different levels. The State Governments are required to prepare and discuss with the Central Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, an Annual Action Plan to implement various components and activities of the NRDWP. Every year, the States have to mark the habitations targeted for coverage and provide details of works, schemes and activities being taken up, on the on-line Integrated Management Information System (IMIS) of the Ministry. The physical and the financial progress being made by States have to be reported on a monthly basis on the IMIS. The Ministry monitors the information provided regularly, and States which are lagging behind in the implementation of the programme, both in terms of physical achievements and financial expenditure, are advised to take appropriate corrective measures. Senior Officers, Area Officers and Technical Officers of the Ministry tour the States to assess the progress in the implementation of the Programme. The Ministry also conducts meetings of the Secretaries in charge of rural water supply, regional review meetings, video-conferences, etc. through which implementation of NRDWP is monitored. Assessment of achievements is done through periodic evaluations of the programme by the Ministry and the Planning Commission.

 

The deficiencies which have been noticed in the implementation of the National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) in some States include the non-achievement of annual targets of coverage of rural habitations, especially quality affected habitations, and the inadequate utilization of central funds in time resulting in high unspent balances.

 

The reasons for some States being unable to spend the available funds under NRDWP fully and in time include delays in procurement processes, taking up multi-village schemes that require 2-3 years for completion thus delaying expenditure, delays in preparatory activities, long time taken for completion of legal formalities including obtaining various clearances, delayed release of funds to implementing authorities etc.

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  1. 18. Creation of National Testing Agency____Cabinet approves Creation of National Testing Agency (NTA) to conduct entrance examinations for higher educational institutions

 

The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved creation of National Testing Agency (NTA) as a Society registered under the Indian Societies Registration Act, 1860, and as an autonomous and self-sustained premier testing organization to conduct entrance examinations for higher educational institutions.

 

 

 

Features:

 

  • The NTA would initially conduct those entrance examinations which are currently being conducted by the CBSE.

 

  • Other examinations will be taken up gradually after NTA is fully geared up.

 

  • The entrance examinations will be conducted in online mode at least twice a year, thereby giving adequate opportunity to candidates to bring out their best.

 

  • In order to serve the requirements of the rural students, it would locate the centres at sub-district/district level and as far as possible would undertake hands-on training to the students.

 

 

 

Constitution:

 

  • NTA will be chaired by an eminent educationist appointed by MHRD.

 

  • The CEO will be the Director General to be appointed by the Government.

 

  • There will be a Board of Governors comprising members from user institutions.

 

  • The Director General will be assisted by 9 verticals headed by academicians/ experts.

 

 

 

Finances:

 

NTA will be given a one-time grant of Rs.25 crore from the Government of India to start its operation in the first year. Thereafter, it will be financially self-sustainable.

 

Impact:

 

Establishment of NTA will benefit about 40 lakh students appearing in various entrance examinations. It will relieve CBSE, AICTE and other agencies from responsibility of conducting these entrance examinations, and also bring in high reliability, standardized difficulty level for assessing the aptitude, intelligence and problem solving abilities of the students.

 

 

 

Background:

 

 

 

In view of the need to have a specialized body in India like the most advanced countries, the Finance Minister in the Budget speech of 2017-18 had announced setting up of a National Testing Agency (NTA) as an autonomous and self-sustained premier testing organization to conduct all entrance examinations for higher educational institutions.

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  1. Mission For Protection And Empowerment For Women________________________National Mission for Empowerment of Women (NMEW) is an initiative of the Government of India (GOI) for empowering women holistically. It is conceived as an umbrella mission with a mandate to strengthen inter-sectoral convergence and facilitate the process of coordinating all the women’s welfare and socio economic development programmes across ministries and departments.

 

 

 

The salient features of the National Mission for Empowerment of Women (NMEW) are:

 

 

 

  1. To ensure economic empowerment of women.

 

  1. To ensure that violence against women is eliminated progressively.

 

  1. To ensure social empowerment of women with emphasis on health and education.

 

  1. To oversee gender mainstreaming of programmes, policies, institutional arrangements and processes of participating Ministries, Institutions and Organizations.

 

  1. To undertake awareness generation as well as advocacy activities to fuel demand for benefits under various schemes and programmes and create, if required, structures at district, tehsil and village level with the involvement of Panchayats for their fulfillment.

 

 

 

 

 

The National Mission Authority (NMA) comprises of the following:

 

 

 

  1. Hon’ble Prime Minister

 

  1. Minister of Finance

 

III.             Minister of Human Resource Development

 

  1. Minister of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation

 

  1. Minister of Rural Development

 

  1. Minister of Panchayati Raj

 

VII.          Minister of Agriculture & Cooperation

 

VIII.       Minister of Health & Family Welfare

 

  1. Minister of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises

 

  1. Minister of Law & Justice

 

  1. Minister of Environment & Forests

 

XII.          Minister of Labour& Employment

 

XIII.       Minister of Social Justice & Empowerment

 

XIV.       Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission

 

  1. MOS(IC), M/o. WCD.

 

XVI.       Chairperson, National Commission of Women

 

XVII.    Two Chief Ministers

 

XVIII.    Five Civil Society Members.

 

 

 

The Mission does not involve direct delivery of benefits to individual beneficiaries. Funds have been released for the pilot project in Pali district in Rajasthan as well as for setting up SRCWs in different States.

 

The total funds earmarked for the duration 2010-15 is Rs 14134.53 lakhs. The BE for the year 2012-13 is Rs 2500.00 lakhs while the RE for the year 2012-13 is Rs 1100.00 lakhs.

 

23 State Resource Centres for Women (SRCW) have been established under State Mission Authority (SMA) in different States/UTs.

 

This was stated by Smt. Krishna Tirath, Minister for Women and Child Development, in a written reply to the Lok Sabha today.

—————————————————————————–

20.Global Education Monitoring Report __

Developed by an independent team and published by UNESCO, the EFA Global Monitoring Report published from 2002-2015, aimed to sustain commitment towards Education for All. It published 12 Reports from 2002 until 2015, and was then renamed, and relaunched under a new mandate as the Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report, UNESCO, whose principal role is to monitor progress towards the education targets in the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. It has been replaced by the Global Education Monitoring Report

Background[edit]

In April 2000 more than 1,100 participants from 164 countries gathered in Dakar, Senegal, for the World Education Forum.

 

The participants, ranging from teachers to prime ministers, academics to policymakers, non-governmental bodies to the heads of major international organizations, adopted the 2000-word Dakar Framework for Action, Education for All: Meeting Our Collective Commitments

 

About the EFA Global Monitoring Report[edit]

The Education for All Global Monitoring Report was the prime instrument to assess progress towards achieving the six ‘Dakar’ EFA goals to which over 160 countries committed themselves in 2000. It tracked progress, identifies policy reforms and best practice in all areas relating to EFA, draws attention to emerging challenges and promotes international cooperation in favour of education.

 

The publication was targeted at decision-makers at the national and international level, and more broadly, at all those engaged in promoting the right to quality education – teachers, civil society groups, NGOs, researchers and the international community.

 

Whilst the report had an annual agenda for reporting progress on each of the six EFA goals, each edition also adopted a theme, chosen because of its importance to the EFA process. As of 1 January 2016, the EFA Global Monitoring Report became the Global Education Monitoring Report (GEM Report), with a new mandate to monitor the new sustainable development goal on education (SDG 4). [2]

 

Aims and audience[edit]

The Education for All Global Monitoring Report aimed to inform education and aid policy through analysis of the challenges facing countries. While the prime audience consists of decision-makers such as ministers, policymakers, parliamentarians and education planners, other groups such as civil society, teachers, non-governmental organizations, university researchers and the media.are important.

 

Data[edit]

The ‘UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), based in Montreal, played the leading role in providing data for the report on students, teachers, school performance, adult literacy and education expenditure.

 

The institute collects data from over 200 countries and territories, but serious limitations in data coverage make it difficult to monitor certain aspects of Education for All, from public financing to education. To improve and accelerate data collection, UIS is helping governments to strengthen their own systems and analysis capacities. The report also draws on data from national household surveys, specially commissioned studies and other sources.

 

The report published quality-assured data, compiled so that statistics are comparable for the majority of countries, using the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED). Not all countries use the same classification systems, however, which lead to discrepancies between national data and those published internationally.

 

Differences also stemmed from national population estimates. To calculate several indicators, UIS uses estimates from the United Nations Population Division, which can differ from those published by individual countries. More generally, the quality assurance process entailed a time lag between the collection (and often the publication) of data by national governments and their release by UIS for use in this and other reports. Where possible, the report identified discrepancies and data gaps.

 

Funding and organization[edit]

The publication was funded in the majority by multilateral and bilateral agencies, and benefited from the expertise of an international Advisory Board. During its annual meeting, the Board discussed the scope and contents of the Report underway and provides advice on its future development.

 

Each Report was developed over a 12 to 18-month period. It drew on scholarship and expertise from governments, NGOs, bilateral and multilateral agencies, UNESCO institutes and research institutions. Research Papers commissioned for each Report are available on the website.

 

The final version of the Report was submitted to the Director-General of UNESCO on an annual basis and considered by the High-Level Group on Education for All, comprising 24 members, including government ministers, representatives of donor organizations, UN agencies and non-governmental organizations. Its role, as stated in the Dakar Framework for Action (paragraph 19), was to sustain and accelerate the political momentum created at the World Education Forum.

 

The Report is translated into the UN and other languages so that its messages and findings may be shared.

——————————————————

 

  1. Sub-Schemes Under ICDS__________

=====================================

22. Moscow Declaration________ Declaration

Over 120 national delegations participating in the Conference adopted the “Moscow Declaration to End TB” on 17 November.

The aim of the First WHO Global Ministerial Conference on Ending TB in the Sustainable Development Era: A Multisectoral Response is to accelerate the response to meet the targets agreed under the End TB Strategy and Sustainable Development Goals, through increased national and global commitments. It also aims to inform the first UN General Assembly High-Level Meeting on TB in 2018.

The development of the ministerial declaration was led by the Russian Federation beginning in early 2017, and was guided in its framing by the Conference Steering Committee and Partners Group. It involved partner and public consultations followed by a series of consultations with Member States. The Declaration addresses the top four outcome areas of the Conference, and spells out, under each area, commitments from Member States and calls for action at global and regional levels on the part of WHO and a wide range of partners.

 

 

  1. 73 8. CULTURE __________________________

74 8.1. Paika Rebellion______________________ Bhubaneswar: Odisha government on Monday urged the Centre for immediate release of the commemorative postage stamp on Paika Rebellion.

In a letter to Union Minister of Communications, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today sought urgent measures for the release of the postage stamp.

“As Odisha is celebrating the bi-centenary of Paika Rebellion in a grand manner, the State government had earlier given a proposal to the Union Government to release a commemorative postage stamp in the memory of the historical revolt,” Patnaik wrote.

Also Read: Naveen demands First War of Independence tag for Paika Rebellion

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Official sources said, the culture department has already submitted the proposed stamp design along with write-ups in English and Hindi to the Chief Post Master General, Odisha circle.

The Chief Secretary had also written to the Department of Posts, Government of India for the release of the commemorative postage stamp on Paika Rebellion.

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  1. World Monuments Fund Names 25 At-Risk Cultural Sites At a press conference at its offices in the Empire State Building today, the World Monuments Fund named 25 cultural heritage sites spanning 30 countries that it is placing on its 2018 World Monuments Watch list, meaning that they are currently threatened by conflict, climate change, or other dangers.

The sites, which include storm-ravaged areas in the Caribbean, the Gulf, and Mexico, and the Souk in Aleppo, Syria, which has been damaged in the country’s ongoing civil war, will be the focus of advocacy and preservation work by the WMF and partner organizations.

Also on the 2018 Watch, which is published every two years, are what the organization has termed Alabama Civil Rights Sites, little-known landmarks of the civil rights movement, like churches, homes, and other community spaces, in the state.

“Social importance has been embedded in the Watch, but I think the Alabama Civil Rights sites represent the first example of something that really is about a profound social movement,” Lisa Ackerman, the executive vice president and chief operating officer of the WMF, said. “This is a historic opportunity for us to demonstrate that these sites are as significant as any of the sites that have been on the Watch in the past that might have been there more purely for their architectural significance.”

Sites that receive support from the WMF typically have architectural or cultural significance, while also often having symbolic value for their locations or groups associated with them. “If you let an anchor of the community go,” Ackerman said, “you risk so much more to the local residents.”

The full list of site follows below.

  1. Disaster Sites of the Caribbean, the Gulf, and Mexico
    2. Government House, St. John’s, Antigua and Barbuda
    3. Sirius Building, Millers Point, Sydney, Australia
    4. Ramal Talca-Constitución, Talca Province, Chile
    5. Grand Theater, Prince Kung’s Mansion, Beijing, China
    6. Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue, Alexandria, Egypt
    7. Takiyyat of al-Gulshani, Cairo, Egypt
    8. Potager du Roi, Versailles, France
    9. Post-Independence Architecture of Delhi, India
    10. Al-Hadba’ Minaret, Mosul, Iraq
    11. Lifta, Jerusalem, Israel
    12. Amatrice, Italy
    13. Kagawa Prefectural Gymnasium, Takamatsu, Kagawa Prefecture, Japan
    14. Jewish Quarter of Essaouira, Morocco
    15. Sukur Cultural Landscape, Madagali Local Government Area, Nigeria
    16. Historic Karachi, Pakistan
    17. Cerro de Oro, Cañete Valley, Peru
    18. Tebaida Leonesa, El Bierzo, León, Spain
    19. Souk of Aleppo, Aleppo, Syria
    20. Chao Phraya River, Bangkok, Thailand
    21. Blackpool Piers, Blackpool, United Kingdom
    22. Buffalo Central Terminal, Buffalo, New York, United States
    23. Alabama Civil Rights Sites, Alabama, United States
    24. Old City of Ta’izz, Ta’izz, Yemen
    25. Matobo Hills Cultural Landscape, Matobo, Matabeleland South, Zimbabwe

 ___________________________

  1. Adopt A Heritage Scheme _____________ Seven shortlisted companies given ‘Letters of Intent’ for 14 monuments under ‘Adopt a Heritage Scheme’ of M/O Tourism 

 

 

Seven shortlisted companies were given ‘Letters of Intent’ for fourteen monuments under ‘Adopt a Heritage Scheme’ of Ministry of Tourism at the closing ceremony of ‘Paryatan Parv’ at Rajpath Lawns, New Delhi yesterday. These companies will be the future ‘Monument Mitras’ who would associate pride with their CSR activities.

The Inter-Ministerial Oversight and Vision Committee members appreciated the positive response received from reputed organisations in the Initial phase, wherein Fifty Seven (57) responses have been recorded and fourteen (14) monuments have been opted through seven (7) Expression Of Interest(s). After detailed scrutiny, the following companies ranging from hospitality industry, travel industry and banking industry were shortlisted for vision biding for final selection of Monument Mitras:

  1. SBI Foundationshortlisted for the adoption of –

o        Jantar Mantar, Delhi.

  1. TK International Limitedshortlisted for the adoption of –

o        Sun Temple, Konark

o        Raja Rani Temple, Bhubaneshwar

o        Ratnagiri Monuments, Jajpur, Odisha

  1. Yatra Online Pvt. Limitedshortlisted for the adoption of:

o        Hampi, Karnataka

o        Leh Palace, Jammu & Kashmir

o        Qutub Minar, Delhi

o        Ajanta Caves, Maharashtra

  1. Travel Corporation of India Ltd.shortlisted for the adoption of:

o        Mattancherry Palace Museum, Kochi

o        Safdarjung Tomb, Delhi

  1. Adventure Tour Operator Association of Indiashortlisted for the adoption of :

o        Gangotri Temple Area and Trail to Gaumukh

o        Mt. StokKangri, Laddakh, Jammu and Kashmir

  1. Special Holidays Travel Pvt. Ltd. (With) Rotary Club of Delhishortlisted for the adoption of Agrasen ki Baoli, Delhi
  2. NBCCshortlisted for the adoption of Purana Quila, Delhi.

The ‘Adopt a Heritage Scheme’ of Ministry of Tourism was launched on World Tourism Day i.e. 27th September, 2017 by the President of India.  Thereafter, Ministry of Tourism invited Private Sector Companies, Public Sector Companies and Corporate individuals to adopt the sites and to take up the responsibility for making our heritage and tourism more sustainable through conservation and development. This scheme is a unique endeavour of Ministry of Tourism in close collaboration with Ministry of Culture and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) which envisages developing monuments, heritage and tourist sites across India and making them tourist friendly to enhance their tourism potential and cultural importance, in a planned and phased manner.

India is renowned across the World for its rich and diverse cultural and natural heritage. Adopt a Heritage /Apni Dharohar Apni Pehchan Project is a unique endeavour of Ministry of Tourism in close collaboration with Ministry of Culture and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) which envisages developing monuments, heritage and tourist sites across India and making them tourist friendly to enhance their tourism potential and cultural importance, in a planned and phased manner.

The project primarily focuses on development and maintenance of world-class tourist infrastructure and amenities which includes basic civic amenities and advanced amenities like Cleanliness, Public Conveniences, Ease of access, secure environment, illumination and night viewing facilities for an overall inclusive tourist experience that will result in more footfall from both domestic and foreign tourists.

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  1. International Dialogue on Civilisation___ International Conference on Dialogue of Civilizations – IV

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), Ministry of Culture, Government of India, in collaboration with National Geographic Society is hosting an international conference on “Dialogue of Civilizations – IV” from 8th – 15th October, 2017 at Delhi, Gandhinagar and Dholavira.  This conference is fourth in this series of ‘dialogues’ initiated by National Geographic Society in 2013 with an objective to encourage scholarly and public discourse about the five ancient, literate civilizations of the world, i.e. Egypt, Mesopotamia, South Asia, China and Mesoamerica and how the study of the past can share our present and future towards the right direction.  The first conference of this series was inaugurated in Guatemala in 2013 followed by Turkey in 2014 and China in 2015.  The present conference is the fourth in this series, with the final dialogue planned in Egypt.

 

The inaugural function of the conference held at 4.30 PM on 8.10.2017 at the Banquet Hall, The Ashok, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi. Dr. Mahesh Sharma, Hon’ble Minister of State (Independent Charge), Ministry of Culture & Minister of State for Environment, Forest & Climate Change will inaugurate the opening ceremony in the presence of Smt. Rashmi Verma, Secretary (Culture & Tourism), Dr. Alexander Moen, Vice President, Explorer Programs, National Geographic Society, Smt. Usha Sharma, Director General, Archaeological Survey of India and Prof. Monica Smith, Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, Los Angeles.

 

The inaugural function was followed by a lecture by Prof. B.B. Lal, Padma Bhushan awardee on ‘Harappan Civilization’, which introduced the earliest civilization of South Asia to the scholars working on other ancient civilizations and others.  The lecture of Prof. B.B. Lal traced the Harappan Civilization and its history of discovery, and highlighting on town planning, agriculture and animal husbandry, art objects, crafts, trade, both internal and external, script, disposal of dead, religion, political set up.  He gave a brief account of all these aspects.

 

Besides, Prof. Lal also briefed on some of the new breaking news, and some unique features which are not found from other parts of the world.  For example, he highlighted on the earliest ploughed field from Kalibangan in Rajasthan; evidence of earliest datable earthquake from Kalibangan (Rajasthan); earliest dockyard of the world which was found at Lothal (Gujarat); unique water management system that have been found at Dholavira (Gujarat).

 

Prof. Lal also talked about the evolution of Harappan Civilization and traced its history to the indigenous cultures only and not from any external influences.  Prof. Lal tried to emphasize on the authorship of the Harappan civilization and he presented evidences related to, and while stating this he concludes that it is high time that the Aryan Invasion Theory has to be written off.  He also traces the legacy of the civilization and quotes many of the customs and traditions of modern times having its roots to the Harappan civilization.

 

This lecture was followed by a Panel Discussion moderated by Dr. B.R. Mani, Director General, National Museum, Delhi. The panel discussion was attended by Prof. B.B. Lal (Harappan Civilization), Dr. Francisco Estrada-Belli (Mayan Civilization), Prof. Augusta McMohan (Mesopotamian Civilization), Dr. Anna Latifa-Mourad (Egyptian Civilization) and Prof. Xinwei Li (Chinese Civilization). In the panel discussion, various aspects of five civilizations were  discussed and the common aspects and commonality were addressed.

 

 

5.Global Education Monitoring Report __

Developed by an independent team and published by UNESCO, the EFA Global Monitoring Report published from 2002-2015, aimed to sustain commitment towards Education for All. It published 12 Reports from 2002 until 2015, and was then renamed, and relaunched under a new mandate as the Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report, UNESCO, whose principal role is to monitor progress towards the education targets in the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. It has been replaced by the Global Education Monitoring Report

Background[edit]

In April 2000 more than 1,100 participants from 164 countries gathered in Dakar, Senegal, for the World Education Forum.

 

The participants, ranging from teachers to prime ministers, academics to policymakers, non-governmental bodies to the heads of major international organizations, adopted the 2000-word Dakar Framework for Action, Education for All: Meeting Our Collective Commitments

 

About the EFA Global Monitoring Report[edit]

The Education for All Global Monitoring Report was the prime instrument to assess progress towards achieving the six ‘Dakar’ EFA goals to which over 160 countries committed themselves in 2000. It tracked progress, identifies policy reforms and best practice in all areas relating to EFA, draws attention to emerging challenges and promotes international cooperation in favour of education.

 

The publication was targeted at decision-makers at the national and international level, and more broadly, at all those engaged in promoting the right to quality education – teachers, civil society groups, NGOs, researchers and the international community.

 

Whilst the report had an annual agenda for reporting progress on each of the six EFA goals, each edition also adopted a theme, chosen because of its importance to the EFA process. As of 1 January 2016, the EFA Global Monitoring Report became the Global Education Monitoring Report (GEM Report), with a new mandate to monitor the new sustainable development goal on education (SDG 4). [2]

 

Aims and audience[edit]

The Education for All Global Monitoring Report aimed to inform education and aid policy through analysis of the challenges facing countries. While the prime audience consists of decision-makers such as ministers, policymakers, parliamentarians and education planners, other groups such as civil society, teachers, non-governmental organizations, university researchers and the media.are important.

 

Data[edit]

The ‘UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), based in Montreal, played the leading role in providing data for the report on students, teachers, school performance, adult literacy and education expenditure.

 

The institute collects data from over 200 countries and territories, but serious limitations in data coverage make it difficult to monitor certain aspects of Education for All, from public financing to education. To improve and accelerate data collection, UIS is helping governments to strengthen their own systems and analysis capacities. The report also draws on data from national household surveys, specially commissioned studies and other sources.

 

The report published quality-assured data, compiled so that statistics are comparable for the majority of countries, using the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED). Not all countries use the same classification systems, however, which lead to discrepancies between national data and those published internationally.

 

Differences also stemmed from national population estimates. To calculate several indicators, UIS uses estimates from the United Nations Population Division, which can differ from those published by individual countries. More generally, the quality assurance process entailed a time lag between the collection (and often the publication) of data by national governments and their release by UIS for use in this and other reports. Where possible, the report identified discrepancies and data gaps.

 

Funding and organization[edit]

The publication was funded in the majority by multilateral and bilateral agencies, and benefited from the expertise of an international Advisory Board. During its annual meeting, the Board discussed the scope and contents of the Report underway and provides advice on its future development.

 

Each Report was developed over a 12 to 18-month period. It drew on scholarship and expertise from governments, NGOs, bilateral and multilateral agencies, UNESCO institutes and research institutions. Research Papers commissioned for each Report are available on the website.

 

The final version of the Report was submitted to the Director-General of UNESCO on an annual basis and considered by the High-Level Group on Education for All, comprising 24 members, including government ministers, representatives of donor organizations, UN agencies and non-governmental organizations. Its role, as stated in the Dakar Framework for Action (paragraph 19), was to sustain and accelerate the political momentum created at the World Education Forum.

 

The Report is translated into the UN and other languages so that its messages and findings may be shared.

——————————————————

 

  1. Sub-Schemes Under ICDS__________

———————————————————————————————–

 

 

 ETHICS_

.Ethics of Death Penalty ______________ Introduction to capital punishment

Capital punishment is the practice of executing someone as punishment for a specific crime after a proper legal trial.

It can only be used by a state, so when non-state organisations speak of having ‘executed’ a person they have actually committed a murder.

It is usually only used as a punishment for particularly serious types of murder, but in some countries treason, types of fraud, adultery and rape are capital crimes.

The phrase ‘capital punishment’ comes from the Latin word for the head. A ‘corporal’ punishment, such as flogging, takes its name from the Latin word for the body.

Capital punishment is used in many countries around the world. According to Amnesty International as at May 2012, 141 countries have abolished the death penalty either in law on in practice. Source: Amnesty

In 2008, there was a growing reluctance among those countries that do retain the death penalty to use it in practice. In 2008, only 25 out of 59 countries that retain the death penalty carried out executions.

Amnesty International, March 2009

China executes the most people per year overall, with an estimated figure of 1,718 in 2008. Amnesty International also states that in 2008 Iran executed at least 346 people, the USA 111, Saudi Arabia 102 and Pakistan 36.

Details of which countries are abolitionist and which are retentionist can be found on the Amnesty website.

In China, at least 1,718 people were executed and at least 7,003 people were known to have been sentenced to death in 2008. These figures represent minimum estimates – real figures are undoubtedly higher. However, the continued refusal by the Chinese authorities to release public information on the use of the death penalty means that in China the death penalty remains shrouded in secrecy.

Amnesty International, March 2009

There is now steadily increasing support for abolishing capital punishment.

On 18 December 2008, the United Nations adopted resolution 63/168, which is a reaffirmation of its call for a moratorium on the use of the death penalty (62/149) passed in December the previous year. The resolution calls for states to freeze executions with a view to eventual abolition.

The World Coalition against the Death Penalty was created in Rome in 2002, and 10th October 2006 was World Day against the Death Penalty.

Retribution

First a reminder of the basic argument behind retribution and punishment:

  • all guilty people deserve to be punished
  • only guilty people deserve to be punished
  • guilty people deserve to be punished in proportion to the severity of their crime

This argument states that real justice requires people to suffer for their wrongdoing, and to suffer in a way appropriate for the crime. Each criminal should get what their crime deserves and in the case of a murderer what their crime deserves is death.

The measure of punishment in a given case must depend upon the atrocity of the crime, the conduct of the criminal and the defenceless and unprotected state of the victim.

Imposition of appropriate punishment is the manner in which the courts respond to the society’s cry for justice against the criminals.

Justice demands that courts should impose punishment befitting the crime so that the courts reflect public abhorrence of the crime.

Justices A.S. Anand and N.P. Singh, Supreme Court of India, in the case of Dhananjoy Chatterjee

Many people find that this argument fits with their inherent sense of justice.

It’s often supported with the argument “An eye for an eye”. But to argue like that demonstrates a complete misunderstanding of what that Old Testament phrase actually means. In fact the Old Testament meaning of “an eye for an eye” is that only the guilty should be punished, and they should punished neither too leniently or too severely.

The arguments against retribution

  • Capital punishment is vengeancerather than retribution and, as such, is a morally dubious concept
  • The anticipatory suffering of the criminal, who may be kept on death row for many years, makes the punishment more severe than just depriving the criminal of life
    • That’s certainly true in the USA, but delay is not an inherent feature of capital punishment; some countries execute people within days of sentencing them to death

Some people are prepared to argue against retribution as a concept, even when applied fairly.

Top

Deterrence

Capital punishment is often justified with the argument that by executing convicted murderers, we will deter would-be murderers from killing people.

The arguments against deterrence

  • The statistical evidence doesn’t confirm that deterrence works (but it doesn’t show that deterrence doesn’t work either)
  • Some of those executed may not have been capable of being deterred because of mental illness or defect
  • Some capital crimes are committed in such an emotional state that the perpetrator did not think about the possible consequences
  • No-one knows whether the death penalty deters more than life imprisonment

Deterrence is most effective when the punishment happens soon after the crime – to make an analogy, a child learns not to put their finger in the fire, because the consequence is instant pain.

The more the legal process distances the punishment from the crime – either in time, or certainty – the less effective a deterrent the punishment will probably be.

Cardinal Avery Dulles has pointed out another problem with the deterrence argument.

Executions, especially where they are painful, humiliating, and public, may create a sense of horror that would prevent others from being tempted to commit similar crimes…

…In our day death is usually administered in private by relatively painless means, such as injections of drugs, and to that extent it may be less effective as a deterrent. Sociological evidence on the deterrent effect of the death penalty as currently practiced is ambiguous, conflicting, and far from probative.

Avery Cardinal Dulles, Catholicism and Capital Punishment, First Things 2001

Some proponents of capital punishment argue that capital punishment is beneficial even if it has no deterrent effect.

If we execute murderers and there is in fact no deterrent effect, we have killed a bunch of murderers. If we fail to execute murderers, and doing so would in fact have deterred other murders, we have allowed the killing of a bunch of innocent victims. I would much rather risk the former. This, to me, is not a tough call.

John McAdams: Marquette University, Department of Political Science

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Rehabilitation

Of course capital punishment doesn’t rehabilitate the prisoner and return them to society. But there are many examples of persons condemned to death taking the opportunity of the time before execution to repent, express remorse, and very often experience profound spiritual rehabilitation.

Thomas Aquinas noted that by accepting the punishment of death, the offender was able to expiate his evil deeds and so escape punishment in the next life.

This is not an argument in favour of capital punishment, but it demonstrates that the death penalty can lead to some forms of rehabilitation.

Top

Prevention of re-offending

It is undeniable that those who are executed cannot commit further crimes.

Many people don’t think that this is sufficient justification for taking human life, and argue that there are other ways to ensure the offenders do not re-offend, such as imprisonment for life without possibility of parole.

Although there have been cases of persons escaping from prison and killing again, these are extremely rare.

But some people don’t believe that life imprisonment without parole protects society adequately. The offender may no longer be a danger to the public, but he remains a danger to prison staff and other inmates. Execution would remove that danger.

Top

Closure and vindication

It is often argued that the death penalty provides closure for victims’ families.

This is a rather flimsy argument, because every family reacts differently. As some families do not feel that another death will provide closure, the argument doesn’t provide a justification for capital punishment as a whole.

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Incentive to help police

Plea bargaining is used in most countries. It’s the process through which a criminal gets a reduced sentence in exchange for providing help to the police.

Where the possible sentence is death, the prisoner has the strongest possible incentive to try to get their sentence reduced, even to life imprisonment without possibility of parole, and it’s argued that capital punishment therefore gives a useful tool to the police.

This is a very feeble justification for capital punishment, and is rather similar to arguments that torture is justified because it would be a useful police tool.

 

A Japanese argument

This is a rather quirky argument, and not normally put forward.

Japan uses the death penalty sparingly, executing approximately 3 prisoners per year.

A unique justification for keeping capital punishment has been put forward by some Japanese psychologists who argue that it has an important psychological part to play in the life of the Japanese, who live under severe stress and pressure in the workplace.

The argument goes that the death penalty reinforces the belief that bad things happen to those who deserve it. This reinforces the contrary belief; that good things will happen to those who are ‘good’.

In this way, the existence of capital punishment provides a psychological release from conformity and overwork by reinforcing the hope that there will be a reward in due time.

Oddly, this argument seems to be backed up by Japanese public opinion. Those who are in favour currently comprise 81% of the population, or that is the official statistic. Nonetheless there is also a small but increasingly vociferous abolitionist movement in Japan.

From an ethical point of view this is the totally consequentialist argument that if executing a few people will lead to an aggregate increase in happiness then that is a good thing.

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 MISCELLANEOUS _____

  1. Meenakshi Temple Gets ‘Cleanest Iconic Place’Tag______________ The famed Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple in Madurai has been adjudged the best ‘Swachh Iconic Place’ (clean place) in India. Ten spots were identified by the Central government as part of the ‘Swachh Iconic Places’ initiative earlier this year.

The Madurai City Corporation is also set to receive a special award from the Centre as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.

District Collector K. Veera Raghava Rao and Corporation Commissioner S. Aneesh Sekhar will receive the award on October 2 from Uma Bharti, the Union Minister for Drinking Water and Sanitation.

As part of the recognition as Swachh Iconic Place, a project has been conceived to clean the periphery of the temple, according to Mr. Aneesh Sekhar. It is in the early stages and is slated to be completed by March 2018. The project is estimated to cost ₹11.65 crore and has been sponsored by Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd as part of its corporate social responsibility (CSR) activity.

“We have been awarded for the swift progress that has been made until now. We are proud that we have been chosen among the 10 iconic places,” he added.

The Madurai Corporation has placed several bins at the distance of 50 metres along the Chithirai streets.

Ambitious target

There are 25 e-toilets and 15 water ATMs for tourists to use. There are two road sweepers and battery-operated vehicles specifically purchased to clean this stretch.

The target before March 2018 would be to make Chithirai, Masi, Avani Moola Streets and Veli Streets – the four concentric squares around the temple – 100% plastic-free, according to the Commissioner.

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  1. Paryatan Parv _____________________ Paryatan Parv- Festival of Festivals 14th Day Of Paryatan Parv Celebrated Across The Country 

Tourism itself is all about celebration and Paryatan Parv celebrates tourism across the country during the festive season. Paryatan Parv, the festival of festivals enters the Diwali week. The festive atmosphere all across the country adds colour and light to the already existing flavours of Paryatan Parv.

In India, celebration is a many coloured palette that has no comparison elsewhere in the world. Simply because we, as a nation are more a calendar of joyous colours than mere dates. Life here is more like a Ferris wheel of festivals. Every fortnight or month marks a new festival, every state has its own celebration and every season is devoted to new festivities. It feels like the entire country lives in anticipation and preparation. All year long.

Festivals are an integral part of the rich Indian culture, some celebrated to rejoice the harvest, some to religious faith and believe, some   simply to celebrate happiness. Tourism and festivals go hand in hand, festivals are core tourism product to entice tourists to coincide their visit to the country. Festival of Diwali (Festival of Lights) is now known to the world. Similarly, whether its Holi –the Festival of Colour or the Dessert Festival of Rajasthan amongst many more, these festivals have found a place in the itineraries of travelers from across the globe. Festival of Tourism has brought the entire country into a festive mood.

Day 14 of Paryatan Parv

The day fourteen started with a cycle rally organized at Amritsar by State Government of Punjab in association with India Tourism Delhi. Other events organized in Amritsar were a guided heritage walk, crafts mela and a cultural evening at Govindgarh fort.

The State Government of Gujarat has organized various events across the state like exhibition on Tourism Destinations of Gujarat at River Front and Kankaria, Ahmadabad and Porbandar, Exhibition on Wildlife at  Dwarka and Somnath, Exhibition on Beach tourism at Saputara. State Government of Uttarakhand has organized Dev Deepawali at the Ghats of Haridwar.

An event to mark Return of Sri Ram to Ayodhya and Deepawali was organized by the State Government of Uttar Pradesh. State Government of Kerala has organized Essay & Painting Competitions at Wayanad District. District level cultural programme was organized at West Champaran District by Ministry of Youth Affairs through NYKS.

India Tourism Offices in association with IHMs has organized various activities like Sensitization programmes, Nukkad Natak, Heritage walks, Workshops for local public and stakeholders at locations across the country.

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_3. Nobel Prize in Literature: Kazuo Ishiguro Kazuo Ishiguro wins the Nobel prize in literature 2017

The British author behind books including Man Booker winner The Remains of the Day takes the award for his ‘novels of great emotional force’ The British author Kazuo Ishiguro said he was both honoured and “taken completely by surprise” after he was named this year’s winner of the 2017 Nobel prize in literature, even initially wondering if the announcement was a case of “fake news”.

Ishiguro, author of novels including The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go, was praised by the Swedish Academy for novels which “uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world” and were driven by a “great emotional force”.

Despite being among those tipped for the prize, whose previous winners include Seamus Heaney, Toni Morrison, Doris Lessing and Pablo Neruda, Ishiguro told the Guardian he had been completely unprepared for the announcement and had even doubted at first if it was true.

“You’d think someone would tell me first but none of us had heard anything,” said Ishiguro, who had been sitting at his kitchen table at home in Golders Green in London about to have brunch, when he got the call from his agent.

 

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 4. Nobel Peace Prize 2017 Awarded to ICAN – An anti-nuclear weapons group won the Nobel Peace Prize. The timing couldn’t be better.

ICAN, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, explained.

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  1. Climate Change Policy ______________ The 2017 Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), an international advocacy group that helped bring about the landmark 2017 United Nations nuclear weapons ban treaty.

“The organization is receiving the award for its work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and for its ground-breaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons,” the Norwegian Nobel Committee, which awards the prize, said in a press statement.

In a Facebook statement accepting the award, ICAN wrote, “This prize is a tribute to the tireless efforts of many millions of campaigners and concerned citizens worldwide who, ever since the dawn of the atomic age, have loudly protested nuclear weapons, insisting that they can serve no legitimate purpose and must be forever banished from the face of our earth.”

“By harnessing the power of the people, we have worked to bring an end to the most destructive weapon ever created — the only weapon that poses an existential threat to all humanity,” the statement continued.

But coming just one month after North Korea detonated its most powerful nuclear bomb yet, and just a few days before President Donald Trump is expected to decertify the Iran nuclear deal, potentially destroying the international accord and prompting Iran to restart its nuclear program, the award has struck many as absurd. After all, what good is a treaty banning nuclear weapons if it hasn’t actually been able to, you know, ban nuclear weapons?

What follows is a brief guide to what the group has actually accomplished — and what it hasn’t.

ICAN is part of a much longer tradition of anti-nuclear activism

ICAN is a coalition of nongovernmental organizations from more than 100 different countries all working together to eradicate nuclear weapons from the face of the earth. The group, which today is based in Geneva, Switzerland, was founded by another group of anti-nuclear activists, the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War.

That group — which itself won a Nobel Peace Prize back in 1985 — was a joint project launched by physicians from the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War whose mission was to “[spread] authoritative information” and “[create] an awareness of the catastrophic consequences of atomic warfare.” In 2007, they decided to launch a new campaign specifically aimed at bringing about an international treaty banning and eventually abolishing nuclear weapons around the globe — and thus, ICAN was born.

As ICAN explains, the founders modeled their new organization on the International Campaign to Ban Landmines — a group that a decade earlier had worked to bring about an international treaty banning the use of anti-personnel land mines globally. The idea was to bring together like-minded activists and NGOs to try to do something similar with nuclear weapons.

And they succeeded: On July 7, 2017, after two rounds of negotiations, the United Nations General Assembly conference that was in charge of the negotiations adopted the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons by a vote of 122 to 1, with one abstention. The Netherlands was the only country involved in the conference to vote against the treaty, while Singapore abstained from the vote.

The legally binding treaty “prohibits a full range of nuclear-weapon-related activities, such as undertaking to develop, test, produce, manufacture, acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, as well as the use or threat of use of these weapons.”

But the United States, the United Kingdom, and France — all countries with nuclear weapons — were not involved in the conference that negotiated the treaty, and they immediately issued a joint statement vowing that they “do not intend to sign, ratify or ever become party” to the treaty.

A number of other countries rejected the conference (and the treaty) as well — including North Korea. (Iran did participate, and voted in favor of the treaty.)

International treaties are not super effective. But they’re not meaningless, either.

Just because there’s an international treaty banning nuclear weapons does not mean that nuclear weapons have gone away, or will anytime soon. That’s mainly because the treaty only applies to the countries that sign and ratify it. Want to keep the nuclear weapons you already have? Want to develop new nuclear weapons? Just don’t sign or ratify the treaty.

And if you did sign it but decide later on that you want to develop nuclear weapons after all, you can simply withdraw from the treaty.

But that doesn’t mean the treaty is totally meaningless. The main rationale for such a treaty is to help create international norms — standards of acceptable behavior — against the use or possession of nuclear weapons. Having nearly two-thirds of the world’s countries sign on to a treaty banning nuclear weapons sends a powerful message to the rest of the world.

And the more countries that sign on to the treaty, the louder that message gets.

That’s what ICAN is working on now. “Our focus now is on persuading nations to sign and ratify it, and then to work for its full implementation,” the group says on its website.

Celebrating a group for its efforts to ban nuclear weapons at a time when the threat from nuclear weapons feels higher than it has since the end of the Cold War may seem like a farce. But what better time could there be to highlight the catastrophic threat nuclear weapons pose?

As ICAN stated in its acceptance message, “This award shines a needed light on the path the ban treaty provides towards a world free of nuclear weapons. Before it is too late, we must take that path.”

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  1. Delamanid- New TB Drug ____ Perturbed by the increasing number of multi-drug resistant (MDR) and extensive drug resistant (XDR) tuberculosis cases in India, the health ministry has approved the use of a new drug in the treatment of such cases.

The technical group on tuberculosis in the ministry of health has given approval to Delamanid, which is in its phase 3 clinical trials.

“We are losing a lot of patients to XDR and MDR tuberculosis. We need more than one drug for treating patients in the backdrop of increasing drug resistance in patients. Delmanid proved to be a good alternative. We will initially conduct a trial with this drug on over 400 patients in a controlled manner,” said Jagdish Prasad, director general of health services in the ministry.

“Currently, around 50% of patients don’t respond to tuberculosis treatment. Delamanid has proved effective in many clinical trials in South Africa and Japan. Taking a cue from this, we are expecting that over 70-80% patients will respond to tuberculosis treatment,” he said.

The bactericidal drug (that kills Tuberculosis bacteria) will be included in the Revised National TB Control Program (RNTCP) from this month in parallel to Bedaquiline, another therapy.

“The government may not replace Bedaquiline with Delamanid because there is always a need for alternative drugs for combating tuberculosis. Both the drugs will be used in parallel. Those who are given Bedaquiline will not be given Delamanid and vice versa,” said Prasad.

Bedaquiline was launched by the ministry of health in 2016 and is currently available for patients in five cities—Mumbai, Delhi, Guwahati, Chennai and Ahmedabad.

“Though both Delamanid and Bedaquiline are in phase 3 trials but globally the research results have been promising. In fact, in India we are planning to conduct clinical trials by combining both the drugs for the benefit of patients. This has never been explored anywhere in the world,” said Soumya Swaminathan, director general of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and secretary, department of health research. “We are also planning to cut short the tuberculosis treatment from one year to six months.”

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  1. Unesco Award for Srirangam Temple ___

Its conservation project competed with those from nine countries

The massive renovation and restoration effort at the Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple in Srirangam, executed through the public-private partnership model, has won the UNESCO Asia Pacific Award of Merit 2017 for cultural heritage conservation.

 

The temple bagged one of the four Awards of Merit from a jury comprising nine international conservation experts, which considered conservation projects from 10 countries in the Asia Pacific region.

 

The renovation of the temple began in June 2014 at the behest of former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, who was elected from the Srirangam constituency back in 2011. The massive project was executed in phases, at a cost of about ₹25 crore, with contributions from the government as well as donors. The kumbabishekam was performed in two stages — in September and November 2015.

 

The temple, considered the foremost of the 108 divyadesams, is situated on an islet between the Cauvery and the Coleroon rivers. It has seven prakaras and 21 towers, including the majestic 236-feet-high rajagopuram.

 

The renovation of the temple involved painstaking work by experienced sthapathis, under the guidance of experts in archaeology for over a year.

 

“The old grandeur of the temple has been restored. About 60,000 tonnes of construction waste/debris was removed during the renovation. The hundred-pillar and thousand-pillar mandapams and various other mandapams, some of which were out of the public view for long, have been restored, as were several sculptures in the numerous sub-shrines. It is very satisfying that the hard work has been recognised,” said an elated P. Jayaraman, joint commissioner of the temple, even as the temple’s employees burst crackers in front of the rajagopuram to celebrate the occasion on Wednesday evening.

 

Words of praise from the UNESCO jury came as music to the ears of the temple authorities, especially in view of the criticism of the renovation project from a group of people, who have also taken the issue to the court.

 

“The project has revealed the original fabric of the shrines, water bodies and landscape within the temple’s four inner enclosures, which were once obscured under layers of inappropriate modern additions and tons of debris. Employing traditional construction materials and techniques, the restoration work was carried out in an authentic manner by local craftspeople in accordance with ancient building principles and rites. The temple today attracts great attention among its devotees and supporters, whose renewed sense of pride and custodianship will ensure its long-term sustainability,” commented the jury.

 

“This is an example of how government-private partnership can work and complete the work in record time. It has also proved that restoration can be done without the use of cement or any modern tiles, which can be replicated. In temples, it is also about restoration and not [just] renovation,” said Venu Srinivasan, chairman of the Board of Trustees of the temple.

 

The second phase of renovation of damaged portions of the temple ramparts is set to begin soon. A few other conservation works are also on the anvil inside the temple, officials said.

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8. Chennai in UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network List ______ The world body recognises the city’s rich musical tradition.

It’s a feature Chennai has always flaunted with pride. And now, it has got international recognition. The city has been included in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network for its rich musical tradition.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, congratulating the city: “Chennai’s contribution to our rich culture is precious. This is a proud moment for India.”

A total of 64 cities from 44 countries have joined the UNESCO Creative Cities Network, the organisation’s website said.

“They join a network at the frontline of UNESCO’s efforts to foster innovation and creativity as key drivers for a more sustainable and inclusive urban development,” it stated.

Gastronomy, music, crafts and folk art, media arts, design, film and literature are the seven fields of creativity highlighted by the network, which now has a total of 180 cities in 72 countries.

Jaipur and Varanasi are the other Indian cities that feature on the list.

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  1. Saubhagya Portal _______________ Shri R.K. Singh launches ‘Saubhagya’ Web-Portal – a Platform for Monitoring Universal Household Electrification

    Saubhagya Web-portal has wider scope for ensuring transparency and accelerating household electrification in rural as well as urban areas in the country 

Power Minister directs NTPC to mix Crop Residue with Coal, upto 10%, for all its Thermal Power Plants to reduce its burning and hence Air Pollution

 

Shri R.K. Singh, Minister of State (IC) for Power and New & Renewable Energy, launched the Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana – ‘Saubhagya’ Web Portal here today. The portal can be accessed at http://saubhagya.gov.in.

 

Addressing the media during the event, Shri Singh said that the Saubhagya Dashboard is a platform for monitoring household electrification progress, which would disseminate information on Household Electrification Status (State, District, village-wise), Household Progress on live basis, State-wise Target vs Achievement, Monthly Electrification Progress, etc.

 

The Minister said that achieving electrification of 4 crore households is a big challenge, nevertheless the Government is committed to achieve this target by December 2018, with the cooperation of all the States. This would, in turn, bring about a huge improvement in the Quality of Life of the Citizens of India. The Government is bringing a change in the Power ecosystem in the Country by pushing towards mandatory metering of all new electrical connections through pre-paid or smart meters. This would make paying of electricity bills viable for the poor, reduce power losses and increase compliance in paying electricity bills, Shri Singh said.

 

Talking about the Saubhagya Portal, the Minister said that through this online platform every State would feed in the current status of progress of electrification works, hence enabling the creation of a system of accountability for the State utility/ DISCOM and help in increasing their viability. Further, Seven States including Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Mizoram, Nagaland, Chhattisgarh and Assam have given their requirements to the Power Ministry for funds under the Saubhagya Scheme, which would be released soon for aiding the respective electrification works, Shri Singh added.

 

The Saubhagya web-portal has a feature on village electrification camps and in line with that, DISCOMs will organize camps in villages/cluster of villages for facilitating on-the-spot filling up of application forms and to complete requisite documentation to expedite release of electricity connections to households, Shri Singh informed. Further, all States have been asked to announce the schedules of the village camps to be held and hence create awareness among the people about the one-stop facility for getting electricity connections.

 

DISCOMs/ State Power Department will also adopt the innovative mechanism through dedicated web-portal/Mobile App for collection/consolidation of data in electronic form including collection of application form for obtaining electricity connections. The details of consumers viz., Name and Mobile number/Bank account/Driving License/Voter ID etc., as available, would be collected by the DISCOMs.

 

On the sidelines of the Saubhagya Web portal launch, Shri Singh also informed that the Ministry has directed NTPC to mix straw/ crop residue pellets with coal, upto 10%, for power generation in all of its Thermal Power Plants. This step would reduce crop residue burning in agriculture dominated States like Punjab, Haryana etc. and hence reduce air pollution that is currently being experienced. The Minister further said that this step would give the farmers a monetary return of Rs. 5500/ tonne of crop residue and hence create a market for it. The infrastructure for sourcing the crop residue from farmers is being set up and NTPC would soon be issuing tenders in this regard. The Ministry is in talks with all State Governments to make this step mandatory for all the Thermal Power Plants in their jurisdiction, Shri Singh added.

 

BACKGROUND OF SAUBHAGYA SCHEME

 

‘Saubhagya’ scheme was launched by Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi on 25th September, 2017 with an outlay of Rs. 16,320 Crores including Budgetary Support of Rs. 12,320 Crores. Under Saubhagya scheme, all willing households in rural areas and poor families in urban areas are given free electricity connections. There are around 4 Crore un-electrified households in the country and they are targeted for providing electricity connections by December 2018.

 

Till recently, the focus of electrification has been on village electrification through creation of village electricity infrastructure for all households and providing free electricity connections to poor household families in rural areas. Now, Saubhagya has come into existence for providing free electricity connections to all households (both APL and poor families) in rural areas and poor families in urban areas.

 

Rural Electrification Corporation Limited (REC) is the Nodal Agency for the operationalization of the scheme throughout the country. Union Ministry of Power with the support of the States is taking all concerted efforts to fulfill the dream of Hon’ble Prime Minister of seeing Electrified, Bright and Vibrant India with all households having access to electricity connections.

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  1. Ladakh Renewable Energy Initiative __Ladakh Renewable Energy Development Agency(LREDA) is a renewable energy initiative in Ladakh, a mountainous region of India in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. It has been called “the largest off-grid renewable energy project in the world.”[1]

The Himalayan mountains make it difficult to connect the Ladakh region to the main national grid.[2][3] Historically most electricity was created using diesel generators.[2] However, Ladakh has been called the “roof of the world” with abundant sunlight and clear air making it unusually suitable for solar energy technologies.[1][4] LREDA was founded in 2000 by the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council that “studied and advised the local government to harness solar energy in the mountainous region.”[5] In 2012, Jigmet Takpa, director of LREDA said, “Diesel is highly polluting and its cost is extremely high. In the next five years, the whole of Ladakh will be electrified by hydro, solar or geothermal generated renewable power.”[5]

LREDA has a number of initiatives including the Ladakh Renewable Energy Initiative Project (LREI), an off-grid renewable energy development program establish in 2011, which sought to install over the next three years: “11 micro-hydro projects with a total capacity of 11.2 MW, 125 solar-photovoltaic power plants of varying capacities, solar water heaters for 40% of the building in Leh, 3000 solar greenhouses, 4500 solar cookers, solar driers, solar passive housing projects and ground based heat pumping for space heating.”[2]

In 2013, LREDA was awarded the Renewtech India Excellence Award.[6] LREDA also conferred with UNDP GEF’s Award 2013, securing first position in capacity addition of solar water heating systems during the year 2013
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UMANG App ________UMANG or Unified Mobile Application for New-age Governance is an app launched by the Government of India to provide access to various government services at one place. Launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modiin November last year, UMANG app is a common platform for various government services such as gas booking, Aadhaar, crop insurance, EPF and National Pension System.

The app was launched with the provisions of 43 government departments that grants access to 150+ services and has a target to reach 200 departments granting access to 1200+ services by December 2019. Currently, the app has 172 services from 36 states and central government departments and four states.

According to SpiceDigital—the company that has developed the app—the availability of the app in 12 regional languages in addition to English makes it user-friendly and relevant to tier II, III cities and the rural areas, thus widening the scope and exposure of the app. UMANG has a dedicated Customer Support for user convenience from 8 am to 8 pm for all days of the week. The 12 regional languages in which the app is available are Hindi, Assamese, Gujarati, Bengali, Kannada, Odia, Punjabi, Malayalam, Marathi, Tamil, Telegu, and Urdu.

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12. India Road Assessment Programme ____To promote five-star smart roads in the country

FedEx Express has decided to support a road safety programme, India Road Assessment Programme (IndiaRAP), which will focus on lowering accidents.

IndiaRAP teams have so far undertaken the star rating assessment of over 10,000km of roads across various States in India.

The International Road Assessment Programme (IRAP), which will be hosted by Asian Institute of Transport Development (AITD), will build on a series of road assessment programmes that have already been undertaken by IndiaRAP.

IndiaRAP will seek to eliminate one- and two-star roads that are unsafe to become a leader in promoting the design and construction of five-star smart roads in the country, said Rob Mclerney, CEO, IRAP, an NGO that has developed the rating tool.

There are some low-cost solutions that help prevent crashes on highways such as red and white reflective strips that cost one dollar. IRAP is one of the many tools that can be used to identify high-risk areas from an accident perspective.

Every additional star improves road safety by halving the number and severity of road accidents, according to McLearney, who encouraged the use of IRAP tools. China, which started the rating of over 100,000 km of roads in 2015, has embarked on upgrading the rating of its roads, apart from helping others, according to IRAP.

Child safety

FedEx Express, which has Safety Above All as a core motive, runs several road safety programmes globally, including a child pedestrian safety programme. This programme has been conducted in over 250 US cities and nine countries including India. In India, it has covered almost 2,750 schools schools since 2007, said Hemant Pimplikar, Managing Director, Sales, FedEx-India.

Fedex has 1,000 motorised vehicles in India and uses road and driver safety as one of the parameters while deciding the routes to be taken by its drivers, said Pimplikar.

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  1. Nivesh Bandhu _“Nivesh Bandhu” An Investor Facilitation Portal to be Launched during World Food India 2017 

 

Union Minister of Food Processing Industries, Smt. Harsimrat Kaur Badal chaired the Press Conference detailing about the activities to be undertaken in the World Food India 2017 Expo, here today. As India gets ready to host its biggest food event aiming to transform the food economy and double farmers’ income, Smt. Badal gave a glimpse of the magnitude of the event to media in an interactive session. Minister of State for Food Processing Industries, Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti also graced the occasion with her presence.

 

Speaking on the occasion, Smt. Harsimrat Kaur Badal said World Food India is a mega event which would showcase the entire value chain in the food sector. 160 Global CEOs will come under one roof. Globally & Nationally it is one of the biggest event. This event is expected to generate Rs. 65000 Crore worth of investment and 10 lakh jobs. She also said that this event will take the varied flavours of India to the world and showcase the healthy multigrain ‘khichadi’ to the visitors.There has not been any mega event before of this scale where FDI commitment has got crystallized even before the start of the event. “We have a vision of transforming Indian food economy and doubling farmer’s income by bringing latest technologies evolution and best practices into the system in keeping with the vision articulated by Honourable Prime Minister” said the Minister. “We are working towards easing the process of doing business for Global and Domestic industry players as well as bringing in new talent to achieve India’s greatest potential in the coming years” she said.

 

As global and Indian food companies prepare to explore business opportunities in India at World Food India 2017, MoFPI and FSSAI, the apex Regulatory body for Food Safety in India announced a powerful new tool called ‘the Food Regulatory Portal.’ Planned as a single interface for food businesses to cater to both domestic operations and food imports, this portal would be a game changer for effective and transparent implementation of the food safety laws in the country. Aiming to create an enabling environment for businesses to operate, the portal is strategically aligned with Government’s mission of One Nation, One Food Law. Smt Badal said that FSSAI’s Food Regulatory portal will be a step forward in that direction and she congratulated FSSAI for implementing it.  She also said that during World Food India 2017, an Investor Facilitation Portal “Nivesh Bandhu” will be launched to assist investors to make informed investment decisions. “India is ready with open arms to welcome global food companies” said Smt Badal. The portal would provide information on Central and State Governments’ investor friendly policies, agro-producing clusters, infrastructure, and potential areas of investment in the food processing sector.

 

Smt Badal also appealed to each individual to take a pledge – ‘NO WASTE ON MY PLATE’- to make India Food Secure. Minister of State for Food Processing Industries, Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti said that after World Food India a good response from investor community is expected in Food Processing Sector. More than 40 countries have committed FDI in Food Processing Sector till now. This is the first time such Exhibition on Food Processing is happening in India.

Spelling out more details of the upcoming three day event, Minister Smt Badal informed that the mega convention is scheduled to be inaugurated by Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi on 3rd November 2017. Mr Maris Kucinskis, Prime Minister of Latvia & Mr Serzh Sargsyan, President of Armenia will also be addressing the Inaugural Session. President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind will address the Valedictory Session on 5th November 2017.

World Food India 2017 will provide global businesses a platform to explore Indian market across the value chain in food processing and food retail, to bring together global & Indian leaders across the food value chain and Showcase the strengths of India in the Food processing & allied sectors; Connect domestic and international businesses for possible partnerships and Facilitate collaboration, investment flow and encourage sourcing from India.

Exclusive CEOs roundtables have been scheduled with Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi, Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs Shri Arun Jaitley and Minister of Commerce and Industry Shri Suresh Prabhu with CEOs of leading global & Indian food processing companies. Illustrative list of Industry Captains participating in World Food India from across the globe and India includes  Mr Paul Bulcke , Chairman of the Board of Directors, Nestle, Mr Pieter Boone, Chief Operating Officer & CEO, Metro Cash and Carry, Mr Brian J McNamara, CEO, GSK Consumer Healthcare, Ms. Amanda Sourry, President, Food Unilever; Mr.Sharafuddin Sharaf, Al – Sharaf Group; Mr.Yusuff Ali, Managing Director, LuLu Group, Mr Kishore Biyani, CEO, Future Group; Mr Krish Iyer, CEO, Walmart India; Mr Amit Agrawal, CEO, Amazon, India to name a few. A total of 60 Global CEOs including Asia Pacific (APAC) leadership of leading companies will be interacting with leading CEOs from 100+ top Indian food processing leaders. Over 1000 m B2B meetings are expected to take place over three days.

World Food India 2017 has received tremendous response globally, attracting participation from more than 40 countries, 27 state governments including all the North-Eastern states. Germany, Denmark, and Japan are the partner countries for the event while Italy and Netherlands are the focus countries.

International Ministerial & business delegations with 200+ members from 15 countries will take part in B2B/B2G meetings. The mega event would also host 8 sectoral conferences, 2 plenary sessions on “India the preferred destination” with the Finance Minister of India as the Guest of Honour and one on “One Nation, one food law- an enabling regulatory environment for investment in the food sector” in association with the Food Standards and Safety Authority of India. In addition, there are 20 State sessions and 6 country sessions. 7 sectoral publications would be released at the event.

 

A massive exhibition spread over 40,000 sq mtrs in the verdant C- Hexagon lawns of India Gate is expected to attract significant footfalls. More than 800 global companies representing 22 Countries & domestic companies will be exhibiting. Special focus on Farmer Producer Organizations & Women Entrepreneurs will connect them to corporates – international & Indian- increasing opportunities for sourcing & business.

Ministry of Food Processing Industries’ Theme Pavilion provides an exciting view of India’s offering to the world in terms of products, a geo mapping of produce availability and mega food parks, through multiple technologies like Virtual & Augmented reality.

A special feature of the Event is the “Food Street” – a lively vibrant zone, that will showcase Indian and foreign cuisines using Indian ingredients, flavours and fragrances, specially curated by Chef Sanjeev Kapoor. The Food Street is a unique concept that would act as a platform for guests to learn about the globalisation of Indian food through interactive chef talks and demonstrations, experience the traditional flavours as well as modern fusion food and give the attendees a wholesome experience about the diverse uniqueness that Indian food offers.

The event is supported by Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Development of North East Region, Ministry of External Affairs and Ministry of Civil Aviation.

 

_ 82 10.6. Deen Dayal Sparsh Yojana Deen Dayal SPARSH Yojana launched to promote philately-Manoj Sinha 

Minister of Communications Shri Manoj Sinha today launched a Pan India scholarship program for school children called Deen Dayal SPARSH Yojana to increase the reach of Philately. Under the scheme of SPARSH (Scholarship for Promotion of Aptitude & Research in Stamps as a Hobby), it is proposed to award annual scholarships to children of Standard VI to IX having good academic record and also pursuing Philately as a hobby through a competitive selection process in all postal circles. Briefing the media after the launch of the scheme, Shri Sinha said that under the scheme, it is proposed to award 920 scholarships to students pursuing Philately as a hobby.  Every Postal Circle will select a maximum of 40 scholarships representing 10 students each from Standard VI, VII, VIII & IX. The amount of Scholarship will be Rs. 6000/- per annum @ Rs. 500/- per month.

 

The Minister said that to avail this scholarship, a child must be a student of a recognized school within India and the concerned school should have a Philately Club and the candidate should be a member of the Club. In case the school Philately Club hasn’t been established a student having his own Philately Deposit Account will also be considered. Every prospective school, which participates in the competition, would be assigned a Philately mentor to be chosen from amongst the renowned Philatelists. The Philately mentor would help in formation of the School level Philately Club, providing guidance to young and aspiring Philatelists on how to pursue the hobby and also helping the aspiring Philatelists on their Philately Projects etc.

 

Shri Sinha said that selections under the Deen Dayal SPARSH scheme would be made based on the evaluation of Project work on Philately & performance in Philately Quiz conducted by the Circles. The details of the Scheme will be available on the website at www.postagestamps.gov.in and www.indiapost.gov.in

 

Philately is the hobby of collection and study of Postage stamps. It also entails the collection, appreciation and research activities on stamps and other related philatelic products. The hobby of collecting Stamps includes seeking, locating, acquiring, organizing, cataloguing, displaying, storing, and maintaining the stamps or related products on thematic areas. Philately is called the king of hobbies because Stamp collection as a hobby has lot of educational benefits – it teaches a lot about the socio economic political reality of the period in which the stamp is issued or the theme on which it is issued.

 

 

Benchmark Prime Lending Rate (BPLR) paves way for base rate system

 

The Reserve Bank introduced the Base Rate system with effect from July 1, 2010, which replaced the Benchmark Prime Lending Rate (BPLR) system. The Base Rate includes all those elements of the lending rate that are common across all categories of borrowers. Banks are allowed to determine their actual lending rates on loans and advances with reference to the Base Rate and by including such other customer specific charges as considered appropriate. All categories of loans are required to be priced only with reference to the Base Rate. The Base Rate system is applicable for all new loans and for those old loans that come up for renewal. Since the Base Rate is the minimum rate for all loans, banks are not permitted to resort to any lending below the Base Rate. Banks are required to review the Base Rate at least once in a quarter.

 

With the introduction of the Base Rate system, the Reserve Bank rationalised the reporting format for scheduled commercial banks (SCBs) and introduced a new reporting format. Accordingly, data on lending rates of SCBs have undergone some changes for the quarter ended September 2010 onwards. First, banks are now advised to report interest rate range for the entire business contracted as against the earlier system of reporting interest rate range excluding 5 per cent of business contracted at extreme rates on either side. Second, data on interest rate for cash credit have also been added.

 

Based on the revised reporting system, Tables 1 to 6 have been recast. Table 1 provides the bank-group wise consolidated data on the range of actual lending rates of advances other than export credit. Table 2 presents bank-group wise range of median actual lending interest rates on advances other than export credit. Table 3 presents bank-group wise range of actual lending rates on Rupee export credit. Table 4 provides bank-group wise range of median interest rates on Rupee export credit. Table 5 provides bank group-wise Base Rates and their median. Table 6A presents actual lending rates of individual banks on advances other than export credit. Table 6B provides actual lending rates of individual banks on export credit (pre-shipment), while Table 6C presents actual lending rates of individual banks on export credit (post-shipment).

 

Two additional Tables (7 and 8) on weighted average lending rate (WALR) of banks have been introduced from February 21, 2014. Table 7 provides bank group-wise data on WALR on outstanding rupee loans from the quarter ended March 2012. The share of outstanding credit of each bank as at the end of the relevant quarter in the respective bank group’s outstanding total credit/outstanding aggregate credit of SCBs has been used as the weight for computing WALR at bank group level/SCBs’ level. Table 8 presents bank group-wise data on WALR on fresh rupee loans sanctioned from the quarter ended March 2013. The share of fresh credit sanctioned by each bank during the last month of the quarter in the respective bank group’s sanctioned total credit/sanctioned aggregate credit of SCBs has been used as the weight for computing WALR at bank group level/SCBs’ level.

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Rohingya crisis: Saudi Arabia stays silent

Rohingya crisis: Saudi Arabia stays silent on growing humanitarian disaster despite oil interests and historic ties

Burma’s Muslims fled persecution in 1960s and found sanctuary under protection of King Faisal. This time, the Gulf superpower has been far less forthcoming with offers of aid

1K

The Independent Online

When Rohingya Muslims fled persecution and slaughter in Burma in past decades, tens of thousands found refuge in Saudi Arabia, home to Islam’s holiest sites. This time around, Muslim leaders from the Persian Gulf to Pakistan have offered little more than condemnation and urgently needed humanitarian aid.

The lack of a stronger response by Muslim-majority countries partly comes down to their lucrative business interests in South East Asia, experts say. Much of the Middle East is also buckling under its own refugee crisis sparked by years of upheaval in SyriaIraqYemen and Afghanistan.

More than 500,000 people — roughly half the Rohingya Muslim population in Burma — have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh over the past year, mostly in the last month. The United Nationshuman rights chief has described Burma’s military crackdown and allied Buddhist mob attacks as “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”

Saudi Arabia is already home to around a quarter-million Burmese people who took refuge in the kingdom under the late King Faisal in the 1960s. The kingdom pledged $15 million in aid to the Rohingya this week.

As the world’s biggest oil exporter, Saudi Arabia competes with Russia to be China’s top crude supplier. Expanding its footprint there requires Burma’s help.

A recently opened pipeline running through Burma, also known as Burma, carries oil from Arab countries and the Caucuses to China’s landlocked Yunnan Province. The 771-kilometre (479-mile) pipeline starts at the Bay of Bengal in western Burma’s Rakhine state, from where most of the Rohingya have been forced out.

In 2011, a subsidiary of state oil giant Saudi Aramco and PetroChina, an arm of China’s state-owned CNPC, signed a deal to supply China’s southwestern Yunnan Province with up to 200,000 barrels per day of crude oil, just under half of the pipeline’s capacity.

Saudi Aramco did not immediately respond to a request for comment on shipments through the pipeline.

“One could argue that Saudi Arabia is less likely to be outspoken on this (Rohingya) issue because it actually relies on the Burmese government to protect the physical security of the pipeline,” said Bo Kong, a senior associate at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies who has written about China’s global petroleum policy.

The pipeline became operational in April following years of delays. It allows tankers to bypass the Strait of Malacca, cutting typical voyages by about seven days. A natural gas pipeline from Burma’s Shwe gas field runs alongside it.

Daniel Wagner, founder of consulting firm Country Risk Solutions, said Saudi Arabia is moving ahead with its economic and political agenda in Burma and Southeast Asia, yet can still “claim to have stood the moral high-ground” by previously taking in refugees and providing financial aid.

“The important point is that natural gas and oil flows through Rakhine state,” he said.

Muslim-majority countries have been increasingly promising aid as the number of refugees swells in Bangladesh.

Azerbaijan, which also appears to be exporting crude to China through the pipeline, has ordered 100 tonnes of humanitarian aid to be dispatched.

Turkey, which like Iran jostles with Saudi Arabia to be the Islamic world’s centre of influence, has mobilised millions of meals for refugees in Bangladesh and vowed to maintain a refugee camp there. It has also provided clothing, part of more than 150 tonnes of humanitarian aid supplied overall.

Iran, Saudi Arabia’s regional rival, has sent at least 40 tonnes of aid. Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei recently took a swipe at other Muslim countries with business interests in Burma, urging them to ramp up pressure on the government there.

“There are tens of Muslim countries and governments, some of whom have financial and economic transactions with them,” he said. “If we sit somewhere and engage in condemnations, what is the use of this?”

Images of burnt Muslim villages in Burma and of traumatised and often barefoot Rohingya women, children and elderly crossing into Bangladesh sparked protests in several Muslim countries.

A large rally was held to denounce the crisis in Indonesia, which is working to boost bilateral trade with Burma to $1 billion a year.

In Pakistan’s largest city of Karachi, tens of thousands protested. Lawmaker Farhatullah Babar of the Pakistan People’s Party has pushed his government to suspend or at least slow the implementation of defence agreements worth hundreds of millions of dollars with Myanmar.

He told the Associated Press that an official responded to his request by saying Pakistan is pressing Burma through diplomatic channels to stop the violence.

“Pakistan should not be seen as strengthening a regime that is using weapons against its own people,” Babar said. He declined to elaborate on the details of the defence agreements.

A report by IHS Jane’s in February said Burma two years ago bought 16 JF-17 Thunder aircraft, co-developed by Pakistan and China. The defence weekly said Burma is now in advanced negotiations with Pakistan for licensed production of the fighter jet’s advanced third-generation variant.

The 57-nation Organisation of Islamic Cooperation held an emergency session on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York this week to discuss the crisis.

The organisation, headquartered in Saudi Arabia, issued a lengthy statement earlier this month expressing “grave concern” over the exodus of Rohingya. But unless its member states take tougher action on their own, there is little the OIC can do to pressure Burma’s government.

Jason von Meding, a specialist in disaster response at the University of Newcastle in Australia, said religious differences are not the only reason Rohingya are being forced out.

No candy with cigarettes

Shops can’t sell both tobacco, candy: Centre

In an effort to deter children from getting addicted to tobacco, the Union Health Ministry has written to all states to develop mechanisms to ensure that shops which sell tobacco should not sell non-tobacco products like chocolates, candies or biscuits.

The ministry has emphasized that retail stores selling tobacco products should obtain licences, and such a condition should include the fact that they cannot sell any non-tobacco products.

a letter written by Arun Kumar Jha, Economic Adviser, National Health Mission (NHM) to chief secretaries of all states, says, “Regulation of tobacco products can be made more effective with the development of a mechanism to provide permission/authorization through Municipal Authority to the retail shops who are selling tobacco products.”

It further states, “It would also be appropriate to make a condition/provision in the authorization that shops authorized for selling tobacco products, cannot sell any non-tobacco products such as toffees, candies, chips, biscuits, soft drinks, etc, which are essentially meant for non-user, especially children.”

Experts believe that such an action will prevent shrewd marketing of tobacco to kids. “This order is a big blow to the marketing tactics of most tobacco companies from targetting kids. Many cigarette companies manufacture biscuits, chocolates, and many vendors store cigarettes along with such products popular among kids,” s

The Great Green Wall Sahel-Sahara project

The Great Green Wall
Sahel-Sahara project aims to combat land degradation

The Great Green Wall is not actually a wall . . . or entirely green, but it does sound pretty great.

In Africa, scientists are hard at work restoring land once rich with biodiversity and vegetation. Eleven countries in the Sahel-Sahara region—Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, Chad, Niger, Nigeria, Mali, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, and Senegal—have joined to combat land degradation and restore native plant life to the landscape.

In recent years, northern Africa has seen the quality of arable land decline significantly due to climate change and poor land management. Uniting under the banner of the “Great Green Wall” initiative, national and regional leaders hope to reverse this trend. The bulk of the work on the ground was originally slated to be concentrated along a stretch of land from Djibouti, Djibouti, in the east to Dakar, Senegal, in the west—an expanse 15 kilometers (9 miles) wide and 7,775 kilometers (4,831 miles) long. The project has since expanded to include countries in both northern and western Africa.

Land degradation typically stems from both human-related and natural factors; overfarming, overgrazing, climate change, and extreme weather are the most common causes. Beyond affecting land and the natural environment, land degradation poses serious threats to agricultural productivity, food security, and quality of life. Nowhere is this issue more urgent than in sub-Saharan Africa, where an estimated 500 million people live on land undergoing desertification, the most extreme form of land degradation.

Jean-Marc Sinnassamy is a senior environmental specialist with the Global Environment Facility (GEF). He helps manage a program developed under the Great Green Wall initiative with countries in the Sahel and West Africa. The GEF has been with the initiative since the beginning, helping to convene country leaders at the headquarters of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Bonn, Germany, in February 2011. The World Bank and other organizations focused on global development and the environment provide financial and technical support.

For Sinnassamy, the partnership represents a unique opportunity to work across the region with a solid political base.

“Here, we saw political leaders, heads of state, ministers in different countries wanting to work on common environmental issues and wanting to tackle land degradation issues together,” he says. “. . . For us, this is a political blessing. We have to respond to this demand, and we have to capitalize on that.”

Integrated Landscape Approach

Beyond the project’s strong political foundation, its carefully crafted approach brings environmental benefits both locally and globally. The initiative uses an “integrated landscape approach” that allows each country to address land degradation, climate change adaptation and mitigation, biodiversity, and forestry within its local context.

“In this case, working to combat land degradation is the best way to address both very local issues and improve the global environment,” Sinnassamy says. “We are working with the land, which is the basis of livelihood in these communities. We are working with people to improve soil quality, which improves crop yield and in turn agricultural production and the overall quality of life in the community. These very local benefits are also a way to generate global benefits for water, land, and nature.”

In the end, Sinnassamy hopes the region as a whole will be composed of a “mosaic of landscapes” that increases biodiversity and maintains native flora as part of agricultural land. Each participating country has its own individual goals, which include reducing erosion, diversifying income, increasing crop yield, and improving soil fertility.

While trees and forests are only part of the focus of the Great Green Wall initiative, many in the media have cast the project as solely a tree-planting project and an attempt to halt the southward expansion of the Sahara Desert.

Sinnassamy is quick to point out two faults in this perception. The first is that the Great Green Wall initiative is much more nuanced than simply planting a belt of trees across the continent.

“Behind the name or the brand ‘Great Green Wall,’ different people see different things. Some people saw just a stripe of trees from east to west, but that has never been our vision,” he says. “In Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso . . . natural regeneration managed by farmers has yielded great results. We want to replicate and scale up these achievements across the region. It’s very possible to restore trees to a landscape and to restore agroforestry practices without planting any trees. This is also a sustainable way of regenerating agroforestry and parkland.”

The second misperception Sinnassamy points to is that the Sahara Desert is not, in fact, expanding.

“We are not fighting the desert,” he says. “In the majority of the areas we are working in these 11 countries, the desert is not advancing. The [Sahara] Desert is a very stable ecosystem. Of course, there are some areas on the margins—for instance in Senegal, Mauritania, and Nigeria—where there are some sand movements. But from a geographic perspective, over time the desert has been relatively stable in this area.”

What Will It Take to ‘Build the Wall’?

Having spent the better part of a year planning, strategizing, and building partnerships with agencies on the ground, the Great Green Wall initiative is beginning to report positive early results. The project’s $2 billion budget, stemming largely from World Bank co-financing and partnerships fostered by the African Union, ensures participating countries will have the means to see the project through to the end.

Examples of success include more than 50,000 acres of trees planted in Senegal. Most of these are the acacia species Senegalia senegal, which has economic value for the commodity it produces, gum arabic. (Gum arabic is primarily used as a food additive.) A small portion of the trees are also fruit-bearing, which, when mature, will help combat the high levels of malnutrition in the country’s rural interior.

Even more dramatic is the project’s potential social impact. The BBC reports that the improvements in land quality and economic opportunity in Mali may help curb terrorism in the country, where famine and poverty have exacerbated a spike in political and religious extremism.

set–7

set 7 2017 final answers

PAPER: I

 

  1. Consider the following statements with reference to the vacation of seat by Member of Parliament:
  2. If a person if chosen to be a member of both the houses of parliament he must vacate his seat in one of the two houses, as may be prescribed by Parliament by law but constitution has not prescribed any time limit.
  3. The House may declare a seat vacant if the member in question absents himself from all meetings of the House for a period of 60 days without permission of the House.
  4. A member may resign his seat by writing addressed to the president.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  • 1,2 and 3
  • 1 and 2
  • 1 and 3
  • 1 only

If you are elected to both Houses of Parliament but have not taken your seat in either House, you should give, notice in writing signed by you and delivered to the Secretary to the Election Commission, within ten days from the date or the later of the dates of such election, intimating in which of the Houses you wish to serve. Your seat in the other House will then become vacant.

 

If elections were not simultaneous then later joined house remains

  1. Glacier calving a recent phenomenon, it refers to?
  2. Reduced Albedo value
  3. Breaking off
  4. Endangering sea life in arctic
  5. Glaciers slowing down global warming

 

  1. Which of the following is/are true?
  2. Quasi-biennial oscillation(QBO) is a feature of stratosphere in tropical latitudes.
  3. Troposphere is the most dense.
  4. Commercialairliners  cruise at altitudes of 9–12 km (30,000–39,000 ft) in temperate latitudes (in the lower reaches of the stratosphere)to  optimize fuel burn
  5. The border of the troposphere and stratosphere, thetropopause, is marked by where this inversion begins,
  6. only 1 ,2 and 3
  7. only 2 and 3
  8. only 1 and 2
  9. all of the above

 

  1. Which of the following is/are true regarding INS VIKRANT?
  2. INS VIKRANT is India’s first aircraft carrier.
  3. It is being manufactured at Cochin.

Code:

  • only 2
  • All of these
  • Neither 1 nor 2
  • only 1

 

  1. Match the List-I and the List-Il and select the correct answer using the code given below the lists:

 List-I                                          List-II

(Harappan Settlement)        (River)

  1. Mohenjo-daro 1. Indus
  2. Rupar 2. Ghaggar
  3. Kalibangan 3. Sutlej
  4. Harappa 4. Ravi

Codes:

ABC D

  • 1 3 2 4
  • 2 4 1 3
  • 1 4 2 3
  • 2 3 1 4

 

  1. Which of the following statements are true with regard to tropical monsoon climate?
  2. Temperature range from C in the hot season to about C in the cool season.
  3. Annual rainfall varies greatly.
  4. It consists of three main season i.e. cool dry season and hot wet season.

Select the correct answer from the given codes:

  • 1 and 2
  • 2 and 3
  • 2 and 3
  • 1,2 and 3

 

  1. Consider the following statements:
  2. The inhabitants of Harappa grew and used cotton
  3. The inhabitants of Harappa had no knowledge of copper and bronze
  4. The standard Harappan seals were made of clay.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  • 1 only
  • 1 and 2 only
  • 2 and 3 only
  • 1, 2 and 3

 

  1. Consider the following statements-
  2. The committee on Public Accounts examines the report of the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India before it is presented before each House of Parliament.
  3. The President of India causes the reports of the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India to be laid before each House of Parliament.
  4. After the annual Financial Statement is presented before the Lok Sabha, the Committee on Public Accounts examines the estimates.

Which of the statements given above is/ are correct?

  • 1,2 and 3
  • 1 and 2 only
  • 1 only
  • 2 only

 

  1. Consider the following with regards to FRBM related debate in India.

Which of the following IS NOT correct ? “.

  1. Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM)Committee is headed by Shri N.K. Singh
  2. FRBMCommittee has set Fiscal deficit target at 2.5% to be achieved by 2023.
  3. Rising indebtedness of states and centre is at the heart of debate.
  • only 1
  • only 2
  • All of these
  • only 1 & 2

 

  1. Which of the following is/are true?
  2. Karman line, lies at analtitudeof 100 kilometers (62 mi) above the Earth‘s sea level.
  3. It commonly represents the boundary line between theEarth’s atmosphereand outer space .
  4. only 1
  5. only 2
  6. Both 1 and 2
  7. neither 1 nor 2

 

  1. Consider the following statements with reference to the Isotherms.
  2. The line drawn on maps joining the places of equal temperature reduces to sea level.
  3. Isohyets is a line on a map connecting points having the same amount of rainfall in a given period..
  4. The isotherm is more regular in the northern hemisphere.

Which of the given statements is/are correct?

  • 1 only
  • 1 and 2
  • 1, 2 and 3
  • 2 only
  1. Which one of the following is produced during the formation of Photochemical smog?
  2. Hydrocarbons
  3. Nitrogen Oxides
  4. Ozone
  5. Methane

 

  1. The power of 10 was among others the focus of state of world population report, 2016 focus was……………….
  • girls
  1. children
  2. women
  3. refugees

 

  1. National Green Tribunals are?
  2. Tribunal shall not be bound by the procedure laid down under the Code of Civil Procedure
  3. To reduce burden on courts
  4. They are in line with requirements of ART- 21 of constitution
  5. It has four places for sittings and are autonomous

Correct Codes are:

  • 1, 3,
  • 1,2,3,4
  • 1, 3,4,
  • 1,2, 4

 

  1. Dispute at Scarborough shoal is between which of the following ……..
  • Japan & Russia
  • India and Srilanka
  • China & Philippines
  • China and Taiwan

 

  1. Which of the following is wrong?
  2. India’s sugar production is expected to fall up to 20% this year.
  3. Indian government has allowed duty free import of raw sugar.
  4. Raw sugar is different from refined sugar, later being consumption grade.
  5. duty free import of raw sugar has great economic value for sugar mills in uttarPradesh

located far from ports they stand to gain nothing

  1. What are Brahmanas?
    • Detailed treatises on agricultural practices and methods
    • Texts on sacrificial rituals
    • Guidelines for the rulers for organizing administration
    • Commentaries appended to the Aranyakas dealing with philosophical questions

 

  1. Which of the following is/are rue?
  2. GLONASS system belongs to Russia & ISRO has a data sharing collaboration with it.
  3. BeiDouNavigation Satellite System is a Chinese satellite navigation system.

Code:

  • 1only
  • 2 only
  • Both 1 and 2
  • neither 1 nor 2

 

  1. Which of the following statements is/are false?
  2. India’s major ports are equally distributed between east and west coast.
  3. Kandla port handles the largest volume of cargo.
  4. Murmagao port on west coast is famous for iron-ore exports.
  5. Tuticorin Port is an artificial deep-sea harbor on western coast.

Codes:

  • 1 & 3 only
  • 2 & 3 only
  • 3 only
  • 4 only

E – all are correct

  1. Which of the following statements is wrong is wrong,
  • Silappadikaram was written by Jain poet- Ilango Adigal during the pandya period
  • Manimekalai is one of the greatest epics of tamil literature
  • Rathas of mamallapuram were made by pallavas who were contemporaries of harsha.
  • Pallavaarchitecture are modeled on the Buddhist viharas and chaitya halls  similar to rock-cut caves of Ajanta  and Ellora .

Silappadikaram was written by  Jain poet- Ilango Adigal during the chera period during the 3rd century

 

  1. Which of the following statements is/are true?
  2. Bureau of pharma PSUs of India (BPPI) the nodal implementation agency for janaushadi stores.
  3. Drugs and Cosmetics Act will make it mandatory for doctors to prescribe generic drugs.
  4. Generic drugs’ share of the market, 80 per cent at present (20 per cent is accounted for by branded and patented drugs), is expected to go up to 90 per cent in the next three years.

Code:

  • 1 and 2 only
  • 2 and 3 only
  • Both 1 and 2
  • All of these

 

  1. Consider the following statements:

The ‘State’ under Article 12 of the Indian Constitution includes-

  1. The Government and Parliament of India.
  2. The Government and legislature of the states
  3. Local authorities or other authorities within the territories of India or under the control of Government of India.

Which of the statements given above are correct?

  • 1, 2 and 3
  • 1 and 2 only
  • 2 and 3 only
  • 1 and 3 only

 

  1. Match List-I with List-Il and select the correct answer using the code given below the lists-

List-I                                                                          List-II

(Schedule of Constitution of India)              (Contents)

(a) Ninth Schedule                  1. Provisions regarding Panchayat Raj Institutions.

(b) Tenth Schedule                  2. Provisions regarding land reforms legislations.

(c) Eleventh Schedule             3. Provisions regarding administration of tribal areas in the states of Assam,

Meghalaya and Mizoram.

(d) Sixth Schedule                    4. Provisions regarding the distribution of powers between the Centre and States.

  1. Provisions regarding the disqualification on ground of defection

Codes:

A B C D

  • 3 1 4 2
  • 2 5 1 3
  • 3 5 1 2
  • 2 1 4 3

 

  1. Who deciphered the Brahmi script?
  • John F. Fleet
  • James Princep
  • Alexander Cunningham
  • John Marshall

 

 

 

  1. 25. Match List-I with List-ll and select the correct answer using the code given below the lists:

List-I                                                 List-II

(A) Home Rule Movement   1. Lord Cornwallis

(B) Vernacular Press Act      2. M. G. Ranade

(C) Policy of Subsidiary         3. B.G. Tilak Alliance

(D) Poona Sarvajanik Sabha 4. Lord Wellesley

  1. Lord Lytton

Codes:

A B C D

  • 2 4 1 3
  • 3 5 4 2
  • 2 5 4 3
  • 3 4 1 2

 

  1. Consider the following–
  2. The Andhra Pradesh high court rejectedGovernment of Indias establishment of a sub-quota of 4.5% for minorities within the existing 27% reservation for Other Backward Classes.
  3. The Supreme Court, in its 16 November 1992 judgment in theIndra Sawhney case, ruled that reservations in promotions areunconstitutional, but allowed its continuation for 5 years as a special case.
  4. Four amendments i.e. 77th, 81st, 82nd and 85th tried to overrule the judgement in Indira Sawhney case .
  5. The Supreme Court upheld these four amendments but stipulated that compelling necessity data needs to be the basis of reservations in promotions in M Nagaraj & Others vs. Union of India & Others.

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

  • 1,2,3
  • 2and 3 only
  • 1,3 and 4
  • All the above

 

  1. Which one of the following can be considered valid ?
  2. If laws are made to give effect to the Directive Principles over Fundamental Rights, they shall not be invalid on the grounds that they take away the Fundamental Rights
  3. 2. In case of a conflict between Fundamental Rights and DPSP’s, if the DPSP aims at promoting larger interest of the society, the courts shall have to uphold the case in favor of the DPSP.The Directive Principles, though not justifiable, are fundamental in the governance of the country. It shall be the duty of the Stateto apply these principles in making law

3 The Directive Principles, though not justifiable, are fundamental in the governance of the country. It shall be the duty of the State to apply these principles in making law

  1. Keshavananda bharti judgment, 1973 held that Right to Property did not pertain to the basic structure of the Constitution and gave sanctity to 9th schedule, 44th amendment reduced to merely a legal right.

Select the correct answer using the code give below-

  • 1,2,3,4,
  • 1,2 and 3
  • 1, 2, and 4
  • 1 and 4

 

  1. Who among the following was both a social reformer and freedom fighter?
  2. Dayanand Saraswati
  3. Gopal hari deshmukh
  4. Justice ranade
  5. Jyotiba phule
  6. Which of the following is the focus behind proposed changes in India’s coastal zone law?
  7. Increasing tourism
  8. Better safety
  9. More fishing
  10. Increase earnings from fishing

 

 

  1. Which is/are the provisions in the Indian constitution which is/are not true?
  2. Nikkei- tokyo.
  3. Hang seng – Hong Kong.
  4. FTSE- 100—London
  5. Dow jones – new york

Select the correct answer using the code given below

  • 1 only
  • 3 only
  • 2 only
  • All of these

 

  1. Which are financial powers enjoyed by governor?
  2. All the demands for grants are presented before the state legislature on the recommendation of the Governor.
  3. He is in charge of Contingency Fund of the State and can make advances out of it to meet unforeseen expenditure.
  4. The Supplementary grants, if any, are presented before the state legislature on the recommendation of the Governor.
  5. He can order the reduction of salaries and allowances of the state civil servants during the President’s rule in the state.

Codes-

  • 1 and 4
  • 2, 3 and 4
  • 1,2, and 3
  • 1,2,3,4

 

  1. Assertion (A): The prime minister office assists the prime minister in the discharge of the responsibilities as the head of Union Government.

Reason(R): It is generally not concerned with the cabinet cases.

  • Both A and R is true and R is the correct explanation of A.
  • Both A and R is and R is not the correct explanation of A.
  • (c)A is true but R is false
  • A is false but R is true

 

  1. RBI is supposed to___
  • Be autonomous in function
  • Work in harmony with govt
  • A and b both correct
  • None of these

 

  1. Which of the following statements is correct about Satyagraha Movement?-
  • It was started by Mahatma Gandhi
  • It objects was to offer peaceful resistance to cruel & unjust laws.
  • Sunday, the April 6, 1919 was observed as Satyagraha
  • All of the above

Satyagraha Movement also known as rowlatt satyagraha

 

  1. Consider the following statements regarding Justice Mahadev Govind Ranade –
  2. The member of theBombay legislative council
  3. Founder of thePrarthana Samaj
  4. The founders of theWidow Marriage Association in 1861.

Codes –

  • 1 and 2
  • 2 only
  • 1 only
  • All of these

Prarthana Samaj was founded by Dr Atmaram Pandurang in 1867 when Keshab Chandra Sen visited Maharashtra

  1. Who among the following could not become president at the surat session of the Indian National Congress, because surat was his hometown?
  • Lala Lajpat Roy
  • Aurobindo ghose
  • Gopal Krishna Gokhale
  • Bal gangadhar Tilak

 

  1. Citizenship act 1955 says Indian citizenship can be acquired by_
  2. Children born of Indian citizen abroad (citizenship by descent)
  3. Person born in India on or after 15 august 1947. (Citizenship by birth)
  4. Women who is, or has been married to a citizen of India. (Citizenship by registration)

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

  1. 1,2,3
  2. 1 & 3 only
  3. 1 & 2 only
  4. 3 only

 

  1. Assertion (A) — an accused cannot be compelled to undergo deception detection tests (DDT) such as polygraph, narco-analysis and brain-mapping.

Reason (R) – the extracted information cannot be used as evidence during the trial stage.

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

  • Both A and R is true and R is the correct explanation of A.
  • Both A and R is true and R is not the correct explanation of A.
  • A is true but R is false
  • A is false but R is true

 

  1. Who amongst the following was referred to as the prince of workers and jewel of India” by tilak on his death?
  • Vivekananda
  • Gokhale
  • Ferozshah mehta
  • N. Banerjee

 

  1. “Which of the following is wrong “__?
  2. Base or benchmark Rate” is a banking term
  3. Bell weather is a term used to refer to most prominent movers and shakers in stock market or trendsetter
  4. Earning guidance is a practice in adherence to GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles)
  5. Adjustment facility is related to liquidity.

Code:

  1. 1 only
  2. 1 & 3 only
  3. 1 , 2 & 4only
  4. None of these

 

  1. Consider the following statements regarding CVC –
  2. This anti corruption body was established in 1964 on the recommendation of Santhanam committee
  3. It consists of the Central vigilance commissioners as chairperson and not more than three vigilance commissioners.
  4. The central vigilance commissioner & other vigilance commissioners are appointed by president on the recommendation of a three member committee comprising the PM (as chairperson) , the minister of law & justice and the leader of opposition of Lok Sabha.

Select the correct code-

  • 1, 2, 3
  • 1 & 2
  • 1 only
  • 2 only

 

  1. Who amongst the following was the first sultan of Tughalaq dynasty?
    1. Firuz Tughalaq
    2. Muhamad – Bin -Tughalaq
    3. Ghiasu-ud-din Tughalaq
    4. Nasir-ud-din Muhammad shah

 

  1. Consider the following statements-
  2. Central information commission is constitutional body.
  3. CIC includes a chairman (Called Chief Information commissioner) and 12 other members (called information commissioners)
  4. The chief information commissioner and information commissioners are appointed by president of India on the recommendation of a three member selection committee having PM as chairperson, leader of opposition of Lok Sabha and a union cabinet minister nominated by the president.

Select the correct code-

  • 1,2,3
  • None
  • 1 only
  • 2 only

 

  1. Which of the following is wrong?
  • Nagpur is known as orange city.
  • Orange in India is grown at 1500 metres from sea level
  • Jahawar in Maharashtra is known as small Nagpur.
  • India does not have exportable surplus oranges.

 

  1. Which among the following produces the two-thirds of the total bamboo produce in India?
  • North east
  • South India
  • Terai
  • Himachal and Kashmir

 

  1. Consider the following statements-
  2. Water stored in earthenware cools because water oozing out of the pores evaporates.
  3. During summer, we feel comfortable under a fan because it sets the air in motion, thereby increasing the evaporation of sweat.
  4. Scalding with steam is more severe than scalding by boiling water because steam contains more energy than boiling water.

Which of the above statements is incorrectly stated?

  • Only 1
  • Only 2
  • Only 3
  • None of the above

 

  1. Which of the following is not a Constitutional body:
  2. National commission for scheduled tribes
  3. National Commission for Minority
  4. National Commission for women
  5. Planning Commission

 

  1. What is not true about Simon Commission?
  • there was no Indian member in the Commission
  • Muslim League opposed it
  • It arrived in India in 1928
  • Its recommendations were published in 1931

Only one part ofleague opposed it , majority supported it

 

  1. Which of the following is false about SDR _
  • it is An international type of monetary reserve currency, created by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 1969
  • SDRs are an artificial currency used by the IMF and are defined as a “basket of national currencies
  • IMF uses SDRs for internal accounting purposes and to augment liquidity
  • It is real currency

 

  1. Which one of the following is not found on Mars—–
    • Sand dunes
    • Polar ice caps
    • Extinct volcanoes
    • H2O rich atmosphere

 

  1. Consider the following statements-
  2. Congress session a 3 day tamasha was spoken in 19th century.
  3. W. C Banerjee was twice the president of congress
  4. During Simon commission visit j l Nehru was president
  5. Tolstoy farm is located in Johannesburg.

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

  1. None of these
  2. Only 2 ,3
  3. 1 ,2 , 3 and 4
  4. 1 and 2

 

  1. Consider the following events-
  2. Lucknow Pact.
  3. Promulgation of Vernacular Press Act.
  4. Establishment of Arya Samaj.
  5. Partition of Bengal.

Which one of the following is the correct chronological sequence of the events given above?

  • 3, 4, 2 and 1
  • 1,2,4 and 3
  • 3,2,4 and 1
  • 1,4,2 and 3

 

  1. The King Kanishka held a great Buddhist Council under whose president ship?
    • Asvaghosha
    • Sangharaksha
    • Nagasena
    • Vasu Mitra

 

  1. What is temperature inversion?
  1. A phenomenon in which the atmospheric temperature decreases with height.
  2. A phenomenon in which the atmospheric temperature increases with height.
  3. A phenomenon in which the normal increases in atmosphere temperature with height switches to temperature decreasing with height in a thin atmospheric layer.
  4. A phenomenon in which the normal decrease in atmospheric temperature with height switches to temperature increasing with height in a thin atmospheric layer.

 

  1. What are environment ethics?
  2. The ethics employed while discussing environmental issues.
  3. Individuals, corporation and governments should handle environmental matters from ethics point of view.
  4. Environmental aspects are taken into account while tackling any ethical question.
  5. Individuals, corporations and governments assume responsibility to look into the likely consequences of their actions and activities and prevent any adverse from deliberate or ill-considered actions.

 

  1. Consider the following statements regarding leaded petrol?
  2. Leaded petrol contains a substance known astetraethyl leador TEL.
  3. TEL, a compound of lead in liquid form originally added to petrol to increase itsoctane rating .
  4. A side effect of adding TEL is that a layer of lead compounds forms on the valve faces of the engine, retarding wear.

Select the correct answer:

  1. 1 and 2
  2. 2 and 3
  3. 1,2 and 3
  4. only 1

 

  1. Before Abhijnanasakuntalam, which of the following two plays were composed by Kalidasa?
  2. Vikramorvasiyam
  3. Malavikagnimitra
  4. Swapnavasavadatta
  5. Kadambari

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

  • 1 and 2
  • 1 and 3
  • 1 and 4
  • 3 and 4

 

  1. At which one of the following places was Akbar formally seated on the Mughal throne after the accidental death of his father Humayun?
  • Kabul
  • Lahore
  • Kalanaur
  • Sarhind

 

  1. Consider the following statements about Civil Liability for Nuclear damage Act.
  2. In case of any accident, the burden of compensation will rest on the operator of the nuclear plant.
  3. The operator’s claim from the nuclear plant supplier shall in no case exceed the actual amount of compensation paid by him up to the date of filing such claim.
  4. Ordinary citizens will be free to file tort claims for damages thus exposing suppliers to unlimited liability in the event of an accident.

Which of the following statement(s) is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 1 and 2
  3. 1 and 3
  4. 1,2 and 3

 

  1. The Chemical that contributes to the destruction of ozone layer of the earth’s surface is:
  2. Sulphur dioxide
  3. Mercury
  4. Chlorofluoro carbons
  5. Carbon mo

Ground-level or “bad” ozone is not emitted directly into the air, but is created by chemical reactions between oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC) in the presence of sunlight. Emissions from industrial facilities and electric utilities, motor vehicle exhaust, gasoline vapors, and chemical solvents are some of the major sources of NOx and VOC

 

 

  1. What are the possible limitations to India in mitigating global warming at present and in the immediate future?
  2. Appropriate alternate technologies are not sufficiently available
  3. India cannot invest heavily in research and development.
  4. Creating jobs and making growth faster.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 1 & 2 only
  3. 1 and 3
  4. 1,2 and 3

 

  1. Consider the following:
  2. Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency Limited (IREDA) is a Mini Ratna under the administrative control of Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE).
  3. GARV is related to rural electrification.
  4. Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) functions under the power ministry.

Choose the correct statements:

  1. 1 and 3 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 1 and 2
  4. All of these

GARV is a website and a mobile application developed by the Rural ElectrificationCorporation (REC) of India to provide real time data of the electrification work of 600 000 villages in the country.

 

 

  1. Which of the following has contributed most to Global Warming?
  2. Energy production
  3. Industrial Processes
  4. Deforestation
  5. overconsumption

 

  1. Match List-I with List-It and select the correct answer from the codes given below:

list I                                             list II

  1. Tidal energy 1. Thar Desert
  2. Wave energy 2. Gulf of Khambat
  3. Solar energy 3. Muplandal-Perungudi, near Kanva Kumari
  4. Wind energy 4. Vzhinjam, thiruvananthapuram

Codes:

A B  C  D

  1. 2 4  1  3
  2. 4  2  1  3
  3. 2  4  3  1
  4. 4 2  3  1

 

  1. Identify the correct decreasing order of constituents in the atmosphere (in terms of percentage by volume of dry air)
    1. Nitrogen, Oxygen, Argon, Ozone
    2. Nitrogen, Oxygen, Carbon dioxide, Ozone
    3. Nitrogen, Carbon dioxide, Ozone, Argon
    4. Nitrogen, Carbon dioxide, Argon, Ozone

 

  1. Consider the following statements:
  2. Calcutta, Bombay and Madras Universities were established after the 1857 war of independence.
  3. Spending 1 lakh rupees every year on education was the outcome of charter act of 1833.
  4. Debate on whether money should be spent on oriental or European education was finally settled by lord Auckland.

Which of the above statement is correct?

  1. 1 & 2 only
  2. 2 & 3 only
  3. 1 and 3
  4. All of these

Lord Auckland, who succeeded Bentnick as the Governor General also continued encouragement for the promotion of English learning by opening English colleges in Dacca, Patna, Benaras, Allahabad, Agra, Delhi and Barielly.

 

 

  1. Consider the following statement?
  2. India’s shale gas, potential is far from established.
  3. Globally shale gas exploration is technologically unreliable.

Which of the above statements is/are right?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. neither 1 nor 2

 

  1. Which of the statement is incorrect?
  1. India has about 14,500 km of navigable waterways
  2. Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) has raised Rs 340 crore through its maiden bond issue from the market
  3. The National Waterways Act, 2016 was recently enacted to amend the Inland Waterways Authority of India Act, 1985.
  4. Initially 8 waterways will be developed out of a total 105 on different rivers under the said act.

 

total 111 on different rivers

 

  1. Consider the following Statements:
  2. Dunes are necessarily a desert feature.
  3. Erg is a desert feature.

Which of the above statements is/are incorrect?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Deserts occupy one-third area of earth

  1. Before taking employment under Aurangzeb, Mir jumla was in whose service?
    • Abdullah Qutb Shah of Golconda
    • Adil Shah of Bijapur
    • Nizam-ul-mulk of Ahmednagar
    • Raja Jaswant Singh of Jodhpur

 

  1. Progress of Nations is an annual scorecard of, :
  2. The UNICEF.
  3. The social health of nations.

III. Measuring fulfillment of minimum human needs

Which is/are correct?

  1. Only I and III
  2. Only II and III
  3. Both I and II
  4. All of these

 

  1. Consider the following statement regarding Right to information:
  2. It ensures, transparency with executive legislature with judiciary an exception, being answerable to the citizen.
  3. Information includes opinion, advice, email, memos etc.
  4. Right to information first time debated by Supreme court in State of U.P. vs Raj Narain (1975) case.

Which one of the following statement is/are correct?

  1. 1,2
  2. 2,3
  3. 1,3
  4. all of these

 

  1. Consider the following statement:
  2. Kalinga award is given by Orissa govt.
  3. Kalidas samman is awarded for contribution in the fields of Classical Music,Classical Dance, Theatre andPlastic Arts .
  4. Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize is given by ministry of culture.

Which one of the following statement is/are correct?

  1. 1,2
  2. 2,3
  3. 1,3
  4. all of these

Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize—CSIR// only statement 2 is right//  E option

  1. Consider the following statement:
  2. Under Article 161 President have the power to grant pardon, suspend, remit or commute sentences in all cases where the sentence is death?
  3. Legislative Assembly of state has the power to request the president to consider a mercy petition.

Which one of the following statement is/are correct?

  1. Only 1
  2. Only 2
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

 

  1. Consider the following statement regarding Citizen Grievance Redressal Bill-
  2. It will go beyond the delivery mechanism laws.
  3. It will ensure an appropriate decentralized and citizen friendly approach.
  4. It will look into complaints of violation of the citizen charter.

Which one of the following statement is/are correct?

  1. 1, 2
  2. 2, 3
  3. 1, 3
  4. All the above

 

  1. Consider the following countries:
  2. Brazil 2. Indonesia
  3. Japan 4. Russia

What is the descending order the size of the following countries population wise?

  • 1,2,4,3
  • 2,3,1,4
  • 2,1,4,3
  • 1,2,3,4

 

  1. Consider the following statements:
  2. Femur is the longest bone in the Human Body.
  3. Cholera is a disease caused by bacteria.
  4. Athlete’s foot’ is a disease caused by Virus.

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

  1. 1 and 2
  2. 2 and 3
  3. 1,3 and 4
  4. 1 ,2 and 3

Athlete’s foot is caused by a number of different fungi.

 

  1. With respect to article 356, consider the following –
  2. Emergency so declared must be approved by the Parliament within a period of two months and during this period state assembly remains under suspended animation.
  3. It is imposed for an initial period of six months and can last for a maximum period of three years with repeated parliamentary approval every six months.
  4. If the emergency has to be extended for more than three years, it can be done by aconstitutional amendment, as has happened inPunjab and Jammu and Kashmir.

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

  • 1 and 2 only
  • 1 only
  • 2 only
  • all

 

  1. Match List I with List-II and select the correct answer using the codes given below the Lists:

             List-I                                          List-II

  1. al-beruni 1. Gita govinda
  2. Chand Bardai 2. upanishads
  3. Jayadeva 3. Prithviraj raso
  4. dara shukoh  4. Tarikh Al-Hind

Codes-

                             A B C D

  • 3 2 4 1
  • 4 3 1 2
  • 2 3 4 1
  • 2 3 1 4

 

  1. Jotiba Phule was given the title of Mahatma for his work for…..
  • The cause of the oppressed
  • Promotion of widow remarriage
  • Promotion of girl’s education
  • Condemning the superstitions and rituals of orthodox Hinduism

 

  1. Which of the following is wrong regarding drug delivery mechanism?
  • Neural drug delivery systems do not allow the rate of growth factor release to be regulated over time
  • Thin-film drug deliveryuses a dissolving film or oral drug strip to administer drugs via absorption in the mouth
  • Ultrasonic drug deliveryor acoustic drug delivery is the use of ultrasound to enhance the transport of molecules into or through biological tissue
  • Drug carrieris any substrate used in the process of drug delivery

 

 

Neural drug delivery   systems do not allow the rate of growth factor release to be regulated over time

 

  1. Which one of the following is the correct chronological sequence?
    • Battle of Chanderi—Battle of Ghagra—Battle of Chausa—Battle of Dourah
    • Battle of Chanderi- Battle of Dourah–Battle of Ghagra—Battle of Chausa
    • Battle of Ghagra-Battle of Chanderi-Battle of Dourah-Battle of Chausa
    • Battle of Ghagra-Battle of Chanderi-Battle of Chausa-Battle of Dourah

Battle of Dourah 1532 took place between Humayun-Afghans  // Battle of chausha 1539 took place between Humayun-Afghans

 Choice E /// Battle of Chanderi –1528 // Battle of Ghagra –1529

 

  1. Which of the following is/are provisions related to special care of the weaker section of people particularly SC and ST?
  2. Article 16
  3. Article 339 (2)
  4. Article 330

Select the correct code-

  • 1, 2, 3
  • 2 and 3
  • 1 only
  • 2 only
  1. Reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the House // e executive power of the Union shall extend to the giving of directions to a State as to the drawing up and execution of schemes specified in the direction to be essential for the welfare of the Scheduled Tribes in the State
  2. Consider the following statements:
  3. The Jaina texts refer repeatedly to trade and commerce.
  4. The earliest “Buddhist” texts were written in the “Prakrit” and “Jaina” texts were written in “PaW’.

Which among of the following statements are correct?

  • 1 and 2
  • 1 only
  • 2 only
  • None

 

  1. Consider the following statement:
  2. Akbar prohibited sati-the immolation of widow on husband’s pyre
  3. Akbar discouraged child marriage and encouraged widow remarriage among the Hindus

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  • 1 only
  • 2 only
  • Both 1 and 2
  • neither 1 nor 2

 

  1. The salim chisti dargah was constructed by.
    • Akbar
    • Alauddin Khilji
    • Malik kafur
    • Balban
  1. The constitution guarantees freedom of speech and expression but this freedom is subject to reasonable restriction, which is/are-
  2. Action must be in conformity with the current-standards of behavior or propriety.
  3. Must not violate another man’s right of speech and expression.
  4. Must not seek votes at an election on the ground of the timidities is religion in a secular state.

Select the correct code-

  • 1, 2, 3
  • 1 and 2
  • 1 only
  • 2 only

 

  1. Match List-I with List-Il and select the correct answer using the code given below the lists:

List-I (Disease)                        List-II ( Types of Disease )

  1. Hemophilia 1. Deficiency disease
  2. Diabetes 2. Genetic disease
  3. Rickets 3. Hormonal disease
  4. Ringworm 4. Fungal Infection

Codes:

A B C D

  1. 2 3 4 1
  2. 2 3 1 4
  3. 3 2 1 4
  4. 3 2 4 1

 

  1. Consider the following statements about the post-Aurangzeb Mughal period:
  2. Farrukhsiyar owed his elevation to the throne to Zulfiqar Khan and Imad-ul Mulk
  3. Aurangzeb had left a will to partition Mughal Empire among his’ three surviving sons after his death
  4. Muhammad Shah was supported by Nizam-ul-Mulk of the Deccan.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  • 1 and 2 only
  • 2 and 3 only
  • 3 only
  • 1, 2 and 3

 

  1. In the context of India’s relations with China relations with China, consider the following:
  2. China’s war with India
  3. Dalai lama’s departure from Tibet
  4. Bandung Conference
  5. Panchsheel Agreement

Which one of the following is the correct chronological sequence of the above events?

  • 2-3-4-1
  • 4-1-2-3
  • 2-1-4-3
  • 4-3-2-1

 

  1. At present we are at which stage of Basel application ?
  • Basel i
  • Basel ii
  • Basel iii
  • Basel iv

 

  1. The Preamble of the Constitution of India was based on the ‘Objectives Resolution’ introduced in the Constituent Assembly in its first Session in December, 1946 and was adopted in January, 1947.

Who among the following moved the ‘Objective Resolution’?

  • N. Rau
  • R. Ambedkar
  • Jawaharlal Nehru
  • Rajendra Prasad

 

  1. Which of the following statements is/ are true?
  2. Snooker and billiards are similar games with difference in number of balls.
  3. Caddie term is connected to polo

Code:

  • 1 only
  • 2 only
  • Both 1 and 2
  • Neither 1 nor 2

 

  1. Which of the following statements is/are true?
  2. The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 Permits trying of juveniles between the ages of 16 and 18 years as adults for heinous offences
  3. It provides for Establishment of Child Welfare Committees (CWC) along with Juvenile Justice Boards (JJB) in each district
  • 2 only
  • Both 1 and 2
  • Neither 1 nor 2
  • 1 only

 

  1. As per the 2015 figure the public debt as percentage as a GDP, which is the correct descending order
  2. US, India, Pakistan, China
  3. India, US, Pak, China
  4. s, India, China , Pak
  5. Pak, china, Us, India

 

  1. Precision agriculture is doing the right thing at the right time of using common tool such as planters, fertilizers applicators, harvesters & whatever else might be needed. In this context, which technology comes handy?
    1. GPS
    2. GPRS
    3. Bluetooth
    4. CDMA

 

  1. Which of the following statements is/are true?
  2. Air defence system SPYDER is being deployed on western front
  3. Spyder deployment was delayed because special trucks for the purpose were not available.

Code:

  • 1 only
  • 2 only
  • Both 1 and 2
  • Neither 1 nor 2

 

  1. Wanderings beyond 3 seas was a famous book written by?
  2. Althanasius nikitin
  3. Abdul razzaq
  4. Malik jayashi
  5. Vinod Chopra

 

  1. Which of the following is/are true?
  2. Economic history of India was written by Rudar palme dutt.
  3. India’s GDP was first estimated in 1876
  4. Economic planning for India was written by m visvesvaraya.

Code:

  • All of these
  • only 2 & 3
  • only 1 and 2
  • only 1

 

  1. Who of the following does not fit the removal process , which is otherwise similar for all others–
  • CAG (Comptroller and auditor general of India.
  • Attorney General of India
  • CEC ( chief election commissioner )
  • judges

LARR Act, 2015 ( key amendements )

The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Bill, 2015, popularly known as Land bill, as amended .

Here are the six important facts you need to know.

 

1 The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Bill, 2015 seeks to Amend the Act of 2013 (LARR Act, 2013).


2 The Bill creates five special categories of land use: 1. defence, 2. rural infrastructure, 3. affordable housing, 4. industrial corridors, and 5. infrastructure projects including Public Private Partnership (PPP) projects where the central government owns the land


3 The Bill exempts the five categories from provisions of the LARR Act, 2013 which requires the consent of 80 per cent of land ownersto be obtained for private projects and that of 70 per cent of land owners for PPP projects.


4 EXEMPTIONS – The Bill allows exemption for projects in these five categories from requiring Social Impact Assessment be done to identify those affected and from the restrictions on the acquisition of irrigated multi-cropped land imposed by LARR Act 2013.


5 The Bill brings provisions for compensation, rehabilitation, and resettlement under other related Acts such as the National Highways Act and the Railways Act in consonance with the LARR Act.


6 The Bill makes acquisition of land for private companies as mentioned in LARR Act, 2013 to a more inclusive acquisition for ‘private entities’. A private entity could include companies, corporations and nonprofit organisations.

Transgender bill fails to incorporate spirit of NALSA

Transgender bill fails to incorporate spirit of NALSA verdict, community fears denial of rights

At Koovagam, in the Villupuram district of Tamil Nadu, in April 2016, Jaya, a young transwoman reminisces about Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) member, Tiruchi Siva’s attempt to move a private member’s bill — the Rights of Transgender Persons Bill, 2014 — was successful as the Rajya Sabha unanimously passed it by voice vote. His was the first private member Bill to be passed in 45 years. Jaya calls it the Tiruchi Siva Bill, and notes that while she came out to her parents and friends in 2005 when she was 14, it took another ten years for her community to come out. Data from the Avahan III programme (Swasti Health Resource Centre) indicates that, on an average, individuals identify themselves as transgenders at the age of 14 years while being able to come out to their circle only at the average age of 18 years.

 

 

In August 2016, the Central government introduced the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016 in Lok Sabha. However, this was a much more diluted version of the 2014 bill. If passed, it would reverse all the gains for dignity and equal rights that the community has collectively championed for in the past several decades.

Bill a retreat on NALSA  obligations

The bill imperils several of the rights guaranteed by the Supreme Court’s verdict in 2014 in the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) vs Union of India case. In the NALSA judgment, the bench, consisting of justices KS Radhakrishnan and AK Sikri, broke down the heteronormative, binary gender constructs of ‘man’ and ‘woman’ that is deeply ingrained in Indian law, and affirmed that the constitutional rights and freedoms of the transgender community are absolute.

The path-breaking verdict recognised a spectrum of different gender identities, as well as provided very sound rationale for upholding the rights of the community. It stated that “[…]the gender to which a person belongs is to be determined by the person concerned“, thus, recognising the right to personal identity, autonomy, and self-determination under Article 21 (the right to life) of the Indian Constitution. Irrespective of medical, legal or surgical intervention, the court also secured the rights of gender expression by every transgender person, under Article 19 (1) (a) — the freedom of speech and expression. Lastly, the court stated that all transgender persons shall have the right to equality and equal protection under Articles 14, 15 and 16 by prohibiting discrimination on the ground of gender identity.

By giving equal legal status to transgender persons established on fundamental legal principles of international human rights, the NALSA judgment secured for the third gender to enjoy “full moral citizenship” and the right to dignity, while at the same time, opening the doors for the legislature to codify these substantial legal principles into law. The Tiruchi Siva Bill of 2014 did this immensely well. It proposed two percent horizontal reservation for transgenders in education and employment and sought affirmative actions in the present system due to their historical struggle with violation of rights and social entitlements. A survey conducted by Swasti Health Resource Centre for Avahan III programme shows that on an average 27 percent of the transgenders have reported facing at least one form of violence in six months.

The bill also suggested special statutory commissions on the lines of an OBC, SC (Scheduled Caste) or women commissions for a more comprehensive protection of the community’s interests. Along with this, the bill upheld the requirement of legal aid, medical help and special fast-track courts for them. None of these provisions have a found a way in the Transgender Bill of 2016.

Most importantly, however, is the issue of self-identification of transgender persons. The Tiruchi Siva Bill was based on the NALSA judgment that upheld the right of any person to identify as female, male or a third gender irrespective of medical intervention, including gender change surgery. The 2016 bill, however, conflates gender and biological sex, thereby, blurring the distinct difference between a social construct and an inherent anatomical characteristic, and is in contravention to the guiding definition of transgender in the NALSA verdict –

Transgender [TG] is generally described as an umbrella term for persons whose gender identity, gender expression or behaviour does not conform to their biological sex. TG may also take in persons who do not identify with their sex assigned at birth, which include hijras/eunuchs who, in this writ petition, describe themselves as ‘third gender’, and they do not identify as either male or female […] Resultantly, the term ‘transgender’, in contemporary usage, has become an umbrella term that is used to describe a wide range of identities and experiences, including but not limited to pre-operative, post-operative and non-operative transsexual people, who strongly identify with the gender opposite to their biological sex; male and female.”

The definition in the 2016 Bill is also based on a binary and heteronormative exposition of gender. Section 4 of the Bill reads – “Neither wholly female nor wholly male; or a combination of female or male; or neither female nor male; and whose sense of gender does not match with the gender assigned to that person at the time of birth, and includes transmen and transwomen, persons with [themselves] inter-sex variations and gender-queers.” This definition is limiting and exclusionary – again, a blatant contravention of the NALSA judgment.

In addition to this, while the 2016 Bill provides for the right to perceived gender identity, it also makes it mandatory for every such transgender person to apply to a District Screening Committee, comprising the Chief Medical Officer (CMO), the District Social Welfare Officer, a psychologist or psychiatrist, a representative of the transgender community and an officer of the relevant government. This Committee would conduct an inquiry and ‘certify’ transgender identities for applicants. This is a gross violation of human rights and constitutional principles that a supra-constitutional body would determine the identity of transgender people. Involving a CMO for screening also means that the members of the third gender would be subject to arbitrary medical examinations and allied humiliation and that this would be sanctioned by the state.

The bill seeks to bring under its purview illegal acts of trafficking of gender nonconforming children and begging. However, it does not do so on sound logic. It operates in a void when proposing these clauses. Section 19 states that “Whoever,— (a) compels or entices a transgender person to indulge in the act of begging or other similar forms of forced or bonded labour other than any compulsory service for public purposes imposed by Government […] shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months but which may extend to two years and with fine. The bill attempts to dismantle the age-old tradition of begging that hijras engage in for livelihood, by criminalising the person who coerces young transgender persons to take up begging. But it does so without determining other feasible livelihood options or reservations for transgenders.

 State of transgenders today

Today only 25 percent transgenders have found formal employment in mainstream society, 32 percent meet their survival needs through begging and an astonishing 67 percent through sex work. At least 20 percent are involved in both.

It must be understood that begging is an activity that has resulted from structural inequalities, due to a disbalance of education and employment opportunities. This may be used by the agencies of the State, like law enforcement and the police to criminalise transgender people, and subject them to further violence and stigma. This is a dangerous proposition as transgenders are often driven away from home, and find refuge in fictional families or Jamats – having a spurious legal provision like this can take away entire support systems of gender nonconforming youths who have nowhere to go. A whopping 74 percent of the transgender persons have had to leave home and their birth families because of being transgender and having faced violence and abuse, often leading to having little or no contact with them nor receiving any kind of support — financial nor emotional.

Section 13 states — “No transgender person shall be separated from parents or immediate family on the ground of being a transgender, except on an order of a competent court, in the interest of such person […] (3) Where any parent or a member of his immediate family is unable to take care of a transgender, the competent court shall by an order direct such person to be placed in rehabilitation centre.” This provision completely takes away the right of fictional families of transgender youth, many of whom run away from home or are driven out when they come out to their immediate families; and subjects gender nonconforming youth to the arbitrariness of courts and judges. It also coerces upon the youth the option of a rehabilitation centre by way of legal procedure, without explaining the need for such a provision in the first place.

A case study — from Social Action and Rehabilitation Association (SARA), Theni (Tamil Nadu), a community organisation for and managed by transwomen — where a 14-year-old gender nonconforming child ran away from home and came to the house of a transgender member to seek refuge. His parents informed the police, who in turn beat up all the members in the house and took the child away to his parents. When the child was produced before the district magistrate, he upheld the best interests of the child doctrine and stated that he may reside with whoever he chooses. The child chose the transgender gharana, and now lives with them. This was an unusual case from the field, where the judiciary ruled in favour of the transgenders and defended them from police and structural abuse. Another case from a community organisation called Salem Thirunangaigal Nala Sangam (STNS) in Salem (Tamil Nadu) faced charges of kidnapping when a child came to them for psychological support, and his parents found out. Members of STNS have also faced widespread police abuse since this incident occurred in December 2015.

Lastly, it does not provide an adequate definition of discrimination towards transgenders, which is necessary when public spaces — jobs, education, and the aspect of having families — is being opened out for them. It also does not align other laws that are based on binary gender identities to the transgender community — the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence (PWDVA), 2005, Sexual Harassment (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) at Workplace, 2013, the clauses on rape and sexual assault in the Indian Penal Code, 1860, the relaxing of gender barriers in laws that determine marriage — none of these have been brought at par with the NALSA judgment that expounds these rights under the right to life under the Constitution. At least 12 percent of TGs have reported sexual assault or facing violence due to their gender.

Most importantly, the bill of 2016 does not provide specific provisions for transgender health care — the Tiruchi Siva Bill mentioned free SRS surgery and allied medical treatment for transgenders. Findings have reflected that while on an average 79 percent transgenders have undergone SRS of which only 23 percent were able to undergo it in a formal medical facility, while the rest underwent the informal process called Nirvaan which is both unhygienic and dangerous. Their hurdles varied across availability of services, its affordability, and accessibility to the individuals. Societal stigma and dynamics within the community also played a major role.

For transgender persons like Jaya, who are trapped between the aspect of acceptance, justice and politics, this tug of war between the two bills marks another struggle — perhaps a longer and more grueling one over legalese and legality. One can only hope that the community’s interests are understood and the principles of human rights are respected.

 

CAMPA- e-green watch

About CAMPA

With a cover of 23% of Geographical area of the country, forest in India comprise of a number of diverse forest types and reserved areas designated as National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries. In India, forest meet the livelihood needs of people living in and adjoining the forests in about 1, 73,000 villages. Forests also act as carbon sinks and regulators of water regime.

Many development and industrial projects such as erection of dams, mining, and construction of industries or roads require diversion of forest land. Any project proponent, government or private must apply for forest clearance from Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), before the conversion of land take place. This proposal is to be submitted through the concerned forest department of the state government. If clearance is given, then compensation for the lost forest land is also to be decided by the ministry and the regulators.

Due to certain discrepancies in the implementation of compensatory afforestation, some NGOs had approached The Hon’ble Supreme Court for relief. The Hon’ble Supreme Court on 10th July 2009 issued orders that there will be a Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) as National Advisory Council under the chairmanship of the Union Minister of Environment & Forests for monitoring, technical assistance and evaluation of compensatory afforestation activities.

Objectives of CAMPA

Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) are meant to promote afforestation and regeneration activities as a way of compensating for forest land diverted to non-forest uses.

National CAMPA Advisory Council has been established as per orders of The Hon’ble Supreme Court with the following mandate:

  • Lay down broad guidelines for State CAMPA.
  • Facilitate scientific, technological and other assistance that may be required by State CAMPA.
  • Make recommendations to State CAMPA based on a review of their plans and programmes.
  • Provide a mechanism to State CAMPA to resolve issues of an inter-state or Centre-State character.

State CAMPA

The Hon’ble Supreme Court also approved the guidelines prepared by the MoEF for utilizing CAMPA funds by an agency to be constituted in the states and to be known as The State CAMPA.

Some of the important points in the guidelines are highlighted here:

  • The State CAMPA would presently receive funds collected from user agencies towards compensatory afforestation, additional compensatory afforestation, penal compensatory afforestation, Net Present Value (NPV) and all other amounts recovered from such agencies under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 and presently lying with the Adhoc CAMPA.
  • The State CAMPA would administer the amount received from the Adhoc CAMPA and utilize the funds collected for undertaking compensatory afforestation, assisted natural regeneration, conservation and protection of forests, infrastructure development, wildlife conservation and protection and other related activities and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
  • State CAMPA would provide an integrated framework for utilizing multiple sources of funding and activities relating to protection and management of forests and wildlife. Its prime task would be regenerating natural forests and building up the institution engaged in this work in the State Forest Department including training of the forest officials of various levels with an emphasis on training of the staff at cutting edge level (forest range level). In short, the department would be modernized to protect and regenerate the forests and wildlife habitat.

The guidelines also talk about establishment of an independent system for concurrent monitoring and evaluation of the works implemented in the States utilizing the funds available.

In sum, the prime task of State CAMPA would be regenerating natural forests and building up the institution engaged in this task in the State Forest Department.

CURRENT AFFAIRS FOR IAS PRELIMINARY & MAINS EXAM