Himalai Celebrating 20th-year celebration, on this eve Himalai extending helping hands to the UPSC-IAS Aspirants of June 2018.
Most important exam oriented Current Affairs Concepts:
1. Paris Agreement
The ultimate purpose of the Paris Agreement was to strengthen the global response to climate change by creating an international network of government bodies, all dedicated to lowering emissions. Syria and Nicaragua were the only countries who did not join the Agreement.
Those who did pledged to work towards a long-term goal of keeping the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, ideally aiming to limit the increase to 1.5°C. This level of temperature change may sound insignificant, but would, in fact, put massive strain on food production, clean water sources and energy production.
Paris Agreement: Essential Elements
The Paris Agreement builds upon the Convention and for the first time brings all nations into a common cause to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects, with enhanced support to assist developing countries to do so. As such, it charts a new course in the global climate effort.
The Paris Agreement central aim is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Additionally, the agreement aims to strengthen the ability of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change. To reach these ambitious goals, appropriate financial flows, a new technology framework and an enhanced capacity building framework will be put in place, thus supporting action by developing countries and the most vulnerable countries, in line with their own national objectives. The Agreement also provides for enhanced transparency of action and support through a more robust transparency framework. Further information on key aspects of the Agreement can be found here.
Nationally Determined Contributions
The Paris Agreement requires all Parties to put forward their best efforts through nationally determined contributions (NDCs) and to strengthen these efforts in the years ahead. This includes requirements that all Parties report regularly on their emissions and on their implementation efforts. Further information on NDCs can be found here. In 2018, Parties will take stock of the collective efforts in relation to progress towards the goal set in the Paris Agreement and to inform the preparation of NDCs.
There will also be a global stock take every 5 years to assess the collective progress towards achieving the purpose of the Agreement and to inform further individual actions by Parties.
Status of Ratification
The Paris Agreement entered into force on 4 November 2016, thirty days after the date on which at least 55 Parties to the Convention accounting in total for at least an estimated 55 % of the total global greenhouse gas emissions have deposited their instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession with the Depositary.
The Paris Agreement was a hard-fought achievement, developed with a loose-fitting framework so as to allow individual countries to develop their own climate strategies.
It was designed not to spook the world’s biggest polluters away from the table and to open a dialogue between nations on an international issue. And, while it was criticized for being too lax, it was a step towards a unified front against climate change.
China and India, countries that were initially assumed to be against such a climate deal, have become some of its more steadfast supporters – now more than ever, in contrast with the United States’ decision.
On June 1, 2017, United States President Donald Trump announced that the U.S. would cease all participation in the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change mitigation. Trump stated that “The Paris accord will undermine (the U.S.) economy,” and “puts (the U.S.) at a permanent disadvantage. During the presidential campaign, Trump had pledged to withdraw from the pact, saying a withdrawal would help American businesses and workers. Trump stated that the withdrawal would be in accordance with his America First policy.
In accordance with Article 28 of the Paris Agreement, the earliest possible effective withdrawal date by the United States cannot be before November 4, 2020, four years after the Agreement came into effect in the United States and one day after the election. The White House later clarified that the U.S. will abide by the four-year exit process. Until the withdrawal takes effect, the United States may be obligated to maintain its commitments under the Agreement, such as the requirement to continue reporting its emissions to the United Nations.
While celebrated by some members of the Republican Party, international reactions to the withdrawal were overwhelmingly negative from across the political spectrum, and the decision received substantial criticism from religious organizations, businesses, political leaders, environmentalists, and scientists and citizens from the United States and abroad.
Following Trump’s announcement, the governors of several U.S. states formed the United States Climate Alliance to continue to advance the objectives of the Paris Agreement despite the federal withdrawal. As at February 22, 2018, 16 states and Puerto Rico have joined the alliance. And similar commitments have also been expressed by other state governors, mayors, and businesses
2. Treasury Bills (T-Bills)
Treasury Bills are short term (up to one year) borrowing instruments of the Government of India which enable investors to park their short term surplus funds while reducing their market risk. They are auctioned by Reserve Bank of India at regular intervals and issued at a discount to face value.
The bill market is a sub-market of the money market in India. There are two types of bills viz. Treasury Bills and commercial bills. While Treasury Bills or T-Bills are issued by the Central Government; Commercial Bills are issued by financial institutions. Contents Types of Treasury Bills. Treasury Bills are basically instruments for short term (maturities less than one year) borrowing by the Central Government. Treasury Bills were first issued in India in 1917. At present, the active T-Bills are 91-days T-Bills, 182-day T-Bills and 364-days T-Bills.
The 91 day T-Bills are issued on weekly auction basis while 182 day T-Bill auction is held on Wednesday preceding Non-reporting Friday and 364 day T-Bill auction on Wednesday preceding the Reporting Friday. In 1997, the Government had also introduced the 14-day intermediate treasury bills. Auctions of T-Bills are conducted by RBI.
T-Bills are issued on discount to face value.While the holder gets the face value on maturity. The return on T-Bills is the difference between the issue price and face value. Thus, return on T-Bills depends upon auctions. When the liquidity position in the economy is tight, returns are higher and vice versa. Individuals, Firms, Trusts, Institutions and banks can purchase T-Bills. The commercial and cooperative banks use T-Bills for fulfilling their SLR requirements. Advantages of Treasury BillsObjective of issuing T-Bills is to fulfill the short term money borrowing needs of the government.
T-bills have an advantage over the other bills such as:
Zero Risk weight age associated with them. They are issued by the government and sovereign papers have zero risk assigned to them, High liquidity because 91 days and 36 days are short term maturity. The secondary market of T-Bills is very active so they have a higher degree of tradability. Treasury Bills are issued only by the central government in India. The State governments do not issue any treasury bills. Interest on the treasury bills is determined by market forces. Treasury bills are available for a minimum amount of Rs. 25,000 and in multiples of Rs. 25,000.
3. Polavaram Project
Polavaram Project is a multi-purpose irrigation project which has been accorded national project status by the union government. This dam across the Godavari River is under construction located in West Godavari District and East Godavari District in Andhra Pradesh state and its reservoir spreads in parts of Chhattisgarh and Odisha States also ’National River-Linking Project, which works under the aegis of the Indian Ministry of Water Resources, was designed to overcome the deficit in water in the country.
As a part of this plan, surplus water from the Himalayan Rivers is to be transferred to the peninsular rivers of India. This exercise, with a combined network of 30 river-links and a total length of 14,900 kilometers (9,300 mi) at an estimated cost of US$120 billion (in 1999), would be the largest ever infrastructure project in the world. In this project’s case, the Godavari river basinis considered as a surplus one, while the Krishna River basin is considered to be a deficit one. As of 2008, 644 tmcft of underutilized water from Godavari River flowed into the Bengal. But as of 2017 over 3000 tmcft are drained unutilized into Bay of Bengal. Based on the estimated water requirements in 2025, the Study recommended that sizeable surplus water was to be transferred from the Godavari River basin to the Krishna River basin.
In July 1941, the first conceptual proposal for the project came from the erstwhile Presidency. Later Diwan Bahadur L. Venkatakrishna Iyer, then chief engineer in the Presidency’s irrigation department, made the first survey of the project site and made a definitive proposal for a reservoir at Polavaram. Sri Iyer not only visional cultivation of 350,000 acres (140,000 ha) over two crop seasons through this project, but also planned for a 40 megawatt hydroelectric plant within the project.
The entire project was estimated to cost about ₹65 million (US$1.0 million). The old final designs of Polavaram dam was planned at full reservoir level (FRL) 208 ft MSL (Mean Sea Level) with 836 tmcft gross storage capacity and 150 MW hydroelectric plant. By 1946–47, the estimated cost rose to ₹1.29 billion. It was named the “Ramapada Sagar Project” since the backwaters of the reservoir would touch the Lord Rama temple at Bhadrachalam. In the old finalized project design by Dr. K.L. Rao, the right bank canal of Polavaram project was extended to south of Krishna River to serve irrigation needs in old Guntur district by envisaging aqueduct across the Krishna River.
The project presently under construction is scaled down to FRL 150 feet (46 m) MSL. The project cost estimate in 2004 stood at ₹86.21 billion. In 1980, then Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh T. Anjaiah laid the foundation stone for the project to fulfill the stipulations of Godavari Water Disputes Tribunal agreement. The project is stalled till YSR Reddy in 2004 the then chief minister of AP took the project to work. YSR got the required permissions for the projects before he died. for polavaram project, Site clearance was obtained from the Centre on 19 September 2005, environmental clearance on 25 October 2005, R & R clearance on 17 April 2007, wildlife sanctuary clearance on 19 Sept 2008, forest clearance on 26 Dec 26 2008 and technical advisory committee clearance on 20 January 2009.
Progress of polavaram hit road block post YSR death. Later, Polavaram project is declared as national project through AP special re-org act in 2014.It was made a “national project” by AP reorganization act 2014. With an eager BJP in tow, Naidu has pushed the project to its last leg — concrete work of the dam, the main component of the project, is under way.
The dam could not be taken up for construction during the last century on techno economical grounds. The proposed dam site at Polavaram is located where the river emerges from the last range of the Eastern Ghats into plains covered with deep alluvial sandy strata. At Polavaram, the river width is about 1500 m. In view of large depth of excavation which is more than 30 m deep, to reach hard rock at this dam site, the dam project was not found economical to take up. However a lucrative alternate site is feasible located in upstream of Polavaram site where the river passes through deep gorges of Papi hill range. The width of river is about 300 m only in the rocky gorge stretch.
Thirty years back, this alternative was found technologically challenging task to connect the reservoir with the irrigation canals via tunnels across the area. Also costly underground hydro electric station is mandated compared to river bed based hydro electric station. When the project was actually taken up in the year 2004, the old finalized designs at Polavaram site are adopted without re-examining the latest cost of upstream alternate site in view of state of the art construction technology of tunnels and underground hydro electric station. The progress up to the year 2012 in construction of dam structures and the hydro electric station is almost nil. The alternate site located in the gorge stretch is still worth of re-examination to reduce the ever-increasing cost of Polavaram dam.
The spillway and non-overflow dam are founded on Khondalite bed rock in Polavaram Project. Khondalites, which are feldspar-rich, often contain soft graphite, hard garnet, etc. in addition to other minerals. Khondalites are highly weathered and hence unsuitable at dam site.
CHAMAN is being implemented National Crop Forecast Centre using remote sensing technology. This sector provides nutrient rich crops to the people and better remunerative prices to the farmers thereby augmenting their income. It also provides higher employment opportunities in the primary, secondary and tertiary sectors. Thus it has gained significant prominence in the recent years. It is a matter of pride that India is the Second largest producer of Vegetables and Fruits in the world and is First in the production of Banana, Mango, Lime and Lemon, Papaya and Okra.
CHAMAN is a pioneer project in which remote sensing technique is being used for strategic development of horticulture sector as also to increase the farmers’ income. It gives methodology for preparing reliable estimates of horticulture crops. The income of farmers will increase by growing selected crops in the high suitable areas identified under CHAMAN in the current Jhum /waste lands. Besides this, the Post-Harvest damages of farmers would be significantly reduced by creation of desired Post Harvest Infrastructures like cold storages etc. thereby increasing their income. In addition the Geo-Spatial Studies like crop intensification, orchard rejuvenation and aqua-horticulture would further help the farmers’ to grow their horticultural crops in a profitable manner which will help doubling their income.
The waste land/ jhum land areas identified for one crop in one district each of North Eastern States, under site suitability studies would be utilized by the State Governments to take up the projects of development of these areas on priority. On completion of this Project, the Geo-Spatial Studies would be conducted in all major states of the country.
In this project, the methodology developed for seven important horticulture crops would be made operational in all the States. The remote sensing technology would be extended to other horticulture crops in future.
5. The Competition Commission of India 2002
The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has been set up under the provisions of the Competitions Act, 2002 to prevent practices having appreciable adverse effect on competition; to promote and sustain competition in markets; to protect the interest of consumers; and to ensure freedom of trade carried on by other participants in markets in India.
Information has been received in the Commission from diverse sectors of the economy including infrastructure, public sector, hi-tech, real estate etc. In cases, where the matter has ‘prima-facie’ found to be in violation of the Competition Act, 2002, reference has been sent to the Director General (DG), CCI to investigate the matter. On receipt of the report of the DG, the Commission has proceeded to pass Orders u/s 27 of the Competition Act or close the matter u/s 26 (6) of the Act.
6. National Investment And Infrastructure Fund (NIIF)
The Government of India is pleased to take note that the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) has made its First investment today. NIIF has partnered with DP World to create an investment platform for ports, terminals, transportation and logistics businesses in India. The platform will invest in opportunities in the ports sector, and beyond sea ports into areas such as river ports and transportation, freight corridors, port-led special economic zones, inland container terminals, and logistics infrastructure including cold storage.
The first close of the NIIF Master Fund took place on October, 16, 2017 with contributions from a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) and four Domestic Institutional Investors (DIIs), viz., HDFC Group, ICICI Bank, Kotak Mahindra Life and Axis Bank.
An India-UK Green Growth Equity Fund (GGEF) is also being set-up under the fund of funds vertical of NIIF, and shall have anchor commitments of GBP 120 million each from Government of India (through NIIF) and Government of UK.NIIF, set-up to function as a major platform in India for attracting foreign investments, has made good progress.
The NIIF is being operationalized by establishing three Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs) under the SEBI Regulations. The proposed corpus of NIIF is Rs. 40,000 Crores (around USD 6 Billion). GOI’s contribution to the AIFs under the NIIF scheme shall be 49% of the total commitment. NIIF has mandate to solicit equity participation from strategic anchor partners.
7. Bureau of Indian standards (BIS) Act 2016
A new Bureau of Indian standards (BIS) Act 2016 establishes the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) as the National Standards Body of India. The Act has enabling provisions for the Government to bring under compulsory certification regime any goods or article of any scheduled industry, process, system or service which it considers necessary in the public interest or for the protection of human, animal or plant health, safety of the environment, or prevention of unfair trade practices, or national security. Enabling provisions have also been made for making hallmarking of the precious metal articles mandatory.
The new Act also allows multiple type of simplified conformity assessment schemes including self-declaration of conformity against a standard which will give simplified options to manufacturers to adhere to the standards and get certificate of conformity. The Act enables the Central Government to appoint any authority/agency, in addition to the BIS, to verify the conformity of products and services to a standard and issue certificate of conformity. Further, there is provision for repair or recall, including product liability of the products bearing Standard Mark but not conforming to the relevant Indian Standard.
8. Initial Coin Offering (ICO)
An unregulated means by which funds are raised for a new crypto currency venture. An Initial Coins Offering (ICO) is used by startups to bypass the rigorous and regulated capital-raising process required by venture capitalists or banks. In an ICO campaign, a percentage of the crypto currency is sold to early backers of the project in exchange for legal tender or other crypto currencies, but usually for Bitcoin. Also called an Initial Public Coin Offering (IPCO).
9. Blue Flag-17
A 45 member contingent of the Indian Air Force participated in exercise ‘Blue Flag-17’. Blue Flag is a bi-annual multilateral exercise which aims to strengthen military cooperation amongst participating nations. Indian Air Force is participating with the C-130J special operations aircraft along with Gard commandos. The exercise would provide a platform for sharing of knowledge, combat experience and in improving operational capability of the participating nations. The exercise is being conducted at Uvda Air Force Base in Israel from 02-16 Nov 17.
10. Special Banking Arrangement (SBA)
Government is making available fertilizers, namely Urea and 21 grades of P&K fertilizers to farmers at subsidized prices through fertilizer manufacturers/importers. For making funds available to the fertilizer companies against their subsidy claims, Ministry of Finance had approved SBA for an amount of Rs. 10,000 crore with Government interest liability limited to G-Sec rate. Accordingly, an SBA was worked out with SBI for an amount of Rs. 10,000 crore to meet the outstanding subsidy claims of fertilizer companies. The loan together with Government interest thereon has been repaid from BE 2017-18 within the sanctioned budget.
Under the SBA, a total loan of Rs. 9,969 crore for settlement of outstanding subsidy bills with SBI was raised by the Government. The loan amount along with interest liability on the part of Government amounting to Rs. 80.90 crore were paid to SBI.
SBA for an amount of Rs. 10,000 crore for the year 2016-17 has already been implemented/ operationalized to overcome the liquidity problems of the fertilizer companies.