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[pib] Asian Development Bank (ADB) and India sign $150 Million Loan to Improve Regional Connectivity

Note4Students

Mains Paper2: IR | Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

The following things are important from UPSC perspective:

Prelims: ADB

Mains level: Infrastructural Development


News

Context

  • The ADB and lndia signed a $150 Million Loan to finance continued improvements to road connectivity and efficiency of the International Trade Corridor in West Bengal and North-Eastern Region of lndia.

Particulars of the Trade Corridor

  1. Approved in 2014, the program aims to expand about 500 kilometers of roads in lndia’s North Bengal and North-Eastern Region.
  2. The Program is an important initiative in Regional Connectivity aimed at increasing domestic and regional trade through North Bengal-North East Region International Trade corridor by upgrading key roads.
  3. The Project will reduce transaction costs along the targeted cross-border corridors substantially, creating economies of scale and commercial prosperity.
  4. This will enable efficient and safe transport within lndia and regionally with other SASEC member countries.
  5. It will give a boost to lndia’s efforts to promote regional connectivity in the South Asia.

Asian Development Bank (ADB)

  1. The ADB is a regional development bank established on 19 December 1966 which is headquartered in Philippines.
  2. ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty.
  3. The bank admits the members of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP).
  4. The ADB was modeled closely on the World Bank, and has a similar weighted voting system where votes are distributed in proportion with members’ capital subscriptions.
  5. In 2017, ADB operations totalled $32.2 billion, including $11.9 billion in co-financing.
  6. The president has a term of office lasting five years, and may be reelected.
  7. Traditionally, and because Japan is one of the largest shareholders of the bank, the president has always been Japanese.
  8. ADB is an official United Nations Observer.

[pib] Incorporation of Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) through a complete online system

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: RUN-LLP

Mains level: E-governance initiatives to facilitate EODB.


News

Context

  1. With the initiatives launched by Ministry of Corporate Affairs, one can start business by incorporating a company through an on-line process without visiting any Government office.
  2. This was achieved in January, 2016 by establishing Central Registry Centre (CRC) for on-line incorporation of the company and reserving its unique name.
  3. Two on-line forms that were introduced for the purpose are Simplified Proforma for Incorporating Company Electronically (SPICe) and Reserve Unique Name (RUN).

What is a Limited Liability Company?

  1. A limited liability company is a corporate structure whereby the members of the company are not personally liable for the company’s debts or liabilities.
  2. They are hybrid entities that combine the characteristics of a corporation and a partnership or sole proprietorship.
  3. In these the liability of each partner is limited to his share as written in the agreement.

RUN-LLP (Reserve Unique Name – Limited Liability Partnership)

  1. The Ministry of Corporate Affairs has contributed significantly towards ‘Ease of Doing Business’ in the country with a new initiative.
  2. A company can now be incorporated in less than two days along with allotment of PAN, TAN, DIN and Unique Name through the online process.
  3. It has launched process re-engineering by making incorporation of Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) through a complete online system.
  4. It is web service titled RUN-LLP (Reserve Unique Name – Limited Liability Partnership).
  5. Name can be allotted to LLP through an e-form titled “FiLiP (Form for incorporation of Limited Liability Partnership).
Digital India Initiatives

Odisha to launch State Food Security Scheme

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Agriculture | Public Distribution System – objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: SFSS

Mains level: Food Security in India


News

Odisha Scheme for NFSA Left-outs

  1. The Odisha will launch its own State Food Security Scheme (SFSS) which would be totally funded by the state government.
  2. Over 18 lakh poor and eligible people left out under National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA) will receive their quota of 5 kg of rice at the rate of Rupee 1 per kg .

State Food Security Scheme (SFSS)

  1. The state government decided to launch its own food security scheme after the Centre did not respond to Odisha government’s request to add additional 25 lakh poor people under the NFSA.
  2. 25 lakh beneficiaries will be provided with cheap rice under the SFSS.
  3. A total of 3,26,41,800 beneficiaries were included in the NFSA as per the 2011 census.
  4. Over 73 per cent of the target for SFSS has been achieved by September 30 and rest will be covered by the second week of October.
  5. The state government on October 2, 2008 had launched the cheap rice scheme in Odisha where beneficiaries were given rice at the rate of Rs 2 per kg.
  6. Later in 2013, the price of cheap rice was reduced to Rupee 1 a kg for people living below poverty line.
Food Procurement and Distribution – PDS & NFSA, Shanta Kumar Committee, FCI restructuring, Buffer stock, etc.

Need for a national drug policy to fight menace

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Internal Security | Linkages of organized crime with terrorism

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: Punjab’s drug problem, its role in fuelling separatist movement and ways to resolve it


News

Debate over Opium

  1. Debate over legalizing cultivation, sale and consumption of opium is pulling up gears in Punjab.
  2. The issue is in line with legalization on sale of marijuana in US.
  3. Punjab CM said there was need for a national drug policy to fight the drug menace.

Need for National Policy

  1. A comprehensive formula was needed at the Central level to effectively check drug abuse.
  2. States like Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan were growing opium, for which they were finding a lucrative market in Punjab.
  3. A foolproof mechanism was needed to wipe out the scourge of drugs.
  4. One State growing drugs, especially opium, and another not doing so was leading to an unacceptable situation in the country.
  5. The national policy could address the need for cultivation of drugs needed for the pharmaceutical industry.

Assam launches wage compensation scheme for pregnant women in tea garden districts

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Wage Compensation Scheme

Mains level: The initiative seeks to address high MMR among plantation labourers of Assam.


News

Wage Compensation Scheme for Pregnant Women

  1. Assam govt. has launched the Wage Compensation Scheme for Pregnant Women in tea gardens of the state.
  2. Under the scheme, each pregnant woman in tea gardens will get a sum of Rs 12,000 so that she can take better care of herself and her unborn baby without compromising the livelihood of her family.
  3. This initiative will be able to considerably bring down the mortality rate among the pregnant women of the tea community of the state.
  4. The high Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) among pregnant women in the tea garden areas due to anaemia and other diseases has been a major cause of concern.
  5. The pregnant women labourers in the tea gardens have to work through their pregnancy till the time of delivery due to crop cycle.
  6. All temporary, permanent or non-workers living within the tea garden areas will be eligible for the scheme.

Compensation Plans under the scheme

  1. As per the scheme, the first installment of Rs 2,000 will be provided during the Ante-Natal Check-up (ANC) registration within the first trimester.
  2. Second installment of Rs 4000 will be credited during the sixth month of the pregnancy and the third installment of Rs 3000 during delivery at a government-approved health institution.
  3. The fourth installment of Rs 3,000 will be credited during the sixth week post-delivery.
  4. Those who did not get Rs 2,500 which was deposited to eight lakh newly opened bank accounts in the tea garden areas will receive Rs 5,000 in December.
  5. Another Rs 2,500 will also be given to those who received a similar amount earlier.
Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

59 plant species in IUCN threat categories

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: IUCN Red List

Mains level: Conservation of rare plant species


News

Indian Study with IUCN criteria

  1. Recently, scientists identified the threat status of 59 Indian plant species based on criteria used by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
  2. Funding agencies consider the threat status of species provided in IUCN’s Red List to sponsor research and conservation activities to save them.
  3. The study initiated in 2012 to assign threat status to select plants, is published in Current Science Journal.

Most Indian species remain neglected

  1. Around 2,700 plant species in India are at risk but very few have been assessed by the IUCN.
  2. To bridge this gap Scientists from Lucknow and from several institutes prioritized 59 plant species that are at risk of “elimination” if the threat levels they face are not assessed soon.
  3. The threat levels of some plants have been altered as a result; for instance the palm Bentinckia nicobarica is currently listed as endangered.
  4. The study also generated data on 38 species that have never been assessed by the IUCN.

Back2Basics

IUCN Red List

  1. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species founded in 1964, has evolved to become the world’s most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of biological species.
  2. It uses a set of criteria to evaluate the extinction risk of thousands of all species and subspecies.
  3. A series of Regional Red Lists are produced by countries or organizations, which assess the risk of extinction to species within a political management unit.
  4. The IUCN aims to have the category of every species re-evaluated every five years if possible, or at least every ten years.
  5. For plants, the 1997 Red List is the most important source.
  6. The formally stated goals of the Red List are-
  • to provide scientifically based information on the status of species and subspecies at a global level,
  • to draw attention to the magnitude and importance of threatened biodiversity,
  • to influence national and international policy and decision-making, and
  • to provide information to guide actions to conserve biological diversity.

Red List Categories of IUCN

[op-ed snap] Raja Mandala: The Gulf in foreign policy

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional & global groupings & agreements involving India &/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Gulf Cooperation Council, Middle East Strategic Alliance

Mains level: Scrapping of Iran nuclear deal and its impact on India’s economy as well as foreign policy


Context

India’s gulf policy

  1. India didn’t do the annual engagement at the UN with the leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council, whose members are Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates
  2.  It’s a pity since the confrontation between the Gulf Arabs and Iran is one of the top international security issues on the table at the UN this year
  3. It is also the most important emerging regional security challenge for India

Developments at UN

  1. There is deep opposition in the Arab countries of the Gulf to President Barack Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran and key sections of the region have welcomed Trump’s decision to discard the deal
  2. The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and ministers from eight Arab nations met at UN to discuss the future of the deal
  3. The Arab side included the six countries of the GCC as well as those of Egypt and Jordan
  4. The ministers had “productive discussions” on setting up what is to be known as the Middle East Strategic Alliance to promote security and stability in the region
  5. The putative alliance is being termed as the “Arab NATO”
  6. This new organisation, likely to be launched in January, is expected to reinforce the expansive new regime of US sanctions against Iran that are to go into effect next month

Questioning India’s gulf policy

  1. A question being raised is: Why Delhi tilts towards Tehran, when so many of India’s interests — including trade, energy, expatriate remittances, and counter-terror cooperation — are so heavily to tied to the Gulf Arabs
  2. Delhi, which denounces Pakistan’s destabilisation of the Subcontinent at every opportunity, never utters a word about Iran’s effort to undermine the regional political order in the Arab world

What should India do?

  1. Delhi must deal with the rapidly changing situation in the Gulf region, whose economic and political salience for India is not matched by any other sub-region in the world
  2. Delhi is practical enough to find ways to avoid the effect of America’s Iran sanctions on the Indian economy
  3. But India’s approach appears bereft of realism when it comes to dealing with the conflict between Gulf Arabs and Iran
  4. As storm clouds gather in the Gulf, Delhi can’t afford to ignore the deepening Arab fears about Iran and their expectations for a measure of political understanding from India
Foreign Policy Watch: India-Middle East

[op-ed snap] Up in the air — on stubble burning

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: The problem of smog in Delhi and how to deal with it


Context

Stubble burning in North India

  1. The onset of the winter season has come to be associated with toxic atmospheric pollution in north India
  2. While road dust and pollution from heavy vehicles are primarily responsible for the noxious pall that sets on Delhi and other urban centres, the burning of paddy stubble by farmers to clear their fields for the next crop is considered to be responsible for 20% of the smog
  3. Why stubble burning? The rising cost of labour nudged farmers to adopt mechanised equipment that, while efficient, left behind much longer stalks of paddy than what the traditional practice of removing them by hand did

Reasons for air pollution in Delhi

  1. 80% of the atmospheric pollution in Delhi in winter draws from sources other than burning stubble
  2. Given Delhi’s geography, low wind speeds and a spike in local pollution (from vehicles, biomass burning, firecrackers, etc.) raise the particulate matter count dramatically during winter

Government plan to reduce pollution

  1. Under directions from the Supreme Court-constituted Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority or EPCA, the Centre is partnering with Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to provide farmers with a range of mechanised implements to clear their fields of paddy crop residue to prepare for sowing wheat
  2. There is a 50% subsidy to farmers, and a 75% waiver to cooperative societies, agencies that rent out equipment, farmers’ interest groups or gram panchayats to buy such machines
  3. Equipment such as Happy Seeder, paddy straw choppers and Zero Till Drill will be bought under the scheme

Concerns of farmers

  1. Many farmers, particularly those with land holdings of less than 5 acres, remain sceptical of the efficiency of these machines
  2. Among their concerns is whether these machines will affect productivity
  3. They are worried that there could be damage to the soil

Way Forward

  1. Just making technological tools available may not be enough
  2. There needs to be a proactive engagement to both persuade and reassure farmers
  3. The greater availability of machines and the zero-tolerance policy need to be seen as works in progress to derive lessons on how to refine the crop-clearing process in an ecologically sound manner
Air Pollution

[op-ed snap] Rescuing IL&FS

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Mobilization of resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Too big to fail institutions and their risk of failing


Context

IL&FS in problem

  1. The Centre has decided to supersede the Board of Directors of the troubled Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services (IL&FS)
  2. By explicitly stating its intent to “ensure that needed liquidity is arranged for IL&FS from the financial system”, the Centre has sent out an unambiguous message to the markets that it will not allow the company to fail
  3. A lot of the turbulence witnessed in the debt and stock markets could have been avoided had the government acted earlier

Rescue plan for the company

  1. Any rescue plan for the beleaguered company obviously had to begin with replacing the existing management that was responsible for mismanaging its affairs
  2. Which lender or shareholder would commit to extending support to the company when it was defaulting regularly and the same set of people responsible for the mismanagement continued to be in charge?
  3. Against this backdrop, a change in management and the appointment of experienced people should lend confidence to lenders and investors

Importance of IL&FS

  1. The company is listed as “systemically important” by the Reserve Bank of India, and with over ₹1,15,000 crore of assets and ₹91,000 crore of debt, it is too big to fail
  2. The interlinkages between IL&FS and other financial sector entities such as banks, mutual funds and infrastructure players are too strong and the company would have taken them all down with it if it were allowed to fail

Reasons for failure

  1. The problem appears to be one of liquidity and not solvency
  2. It is a classic case of over-leveraging and an asset-liability mismatch caused by funding projects of 20-25 years payback period with relatively short-term funds of 8-10 years

Need of long term lending

  1. There is a felt need for long-term finance sources for infrastructure projects
  2. The LIC and some insurance companies are the only domestic sources and they too do not lend beyond 10 to 12 years
  3. The Centre and the RBI should look at ways to deepen the debt markets where infrastructure players can borrow long-term
  4. It also needs to be analysed how a company listed as “systemically important” managed to fly under the radar with misgovernance
NPA Crisis