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PPP Investment Models: HAM, Swiss Challenge, Kelkar Committee

[op-ed snap] Easing the government’s infrastructure burden

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Need of reviving private sector investments in India in order to maintain the growth momentum


Context

Private sector participation declining

  1. The private sector contributed an estimated ₹20 trillion, or a third of India’s ₹60 trillion infrastructure investment, between fiscals 2008 and 2017
  2. However, it has declined sharply in recent years in terms of share of investment, from 37-38% to below 25% in fiscal 2018

Why such decline?

  1. As per the Crisil Infrastructure Yearbook 2018 released last month, over-investments in a couple of fiscals through 2012 backfired, leaving in their wake stalled projects and a mountain of stressed assets
  2. Six years on, private investment capacity is yet to recover meaningfully

No sector remains attractive

  1. While airports, ports and power transmission have robust engagement models, new investment activity is tepid
  2. In railways and urban infrastructure, private investments are negligible
  3. It’s down sharply at the state level as well
  4. National highways remain the only bright spot, where policy actions and the de-risked hybrid annuity model (HAM) have revived projects
  5. And the recent toll-operate-transfer (TOT) auction is a great example of asset monetization and crowding-in of private capital

Why private investments are important?

  1. India’s infrastructure investment spending needs to be ₹50 trillion between fiscals 2018 and 2022
  2. That would be ~5.1% of gross domestic product (GDP)
  3. Achieving this requires considerably more private sector contribution
  4. Private sector participation in infrastructure delivery helps deliver tangible benefits
  5. In highways, airports, ports and renewables, the private sector’s role has been landscape-altering
  6. The private sector has also delivered efficiently—both on project execution (where land and clearances have not been a constraint) as well as operations
  7. Besides, private participation enhances public accountability
  8. As consumers, we rarely hold public utilities to account for non-performance and resort to coping solutions
  9. Yet, when a public-private partnership (PPP) contract is awarded, we tend to demand better services right away
  10. PPPs bring back trust in public utilities that execute them, improve service delivery, bridge resource gaps, and help wean away dependence on unsustainable coping solutions which the poor can ill afford

Transformations required

  • Empower public institutions to drive transformation
  1. Public institutions, viz. city governments, power utilities, and bus transport corporations, barring a few, are incapacitated and need to be the epicentre of transformation efforts
  2. Capable creditworthy public institutions are an essential prerequisite to attract private investment
  3. Corporatized and empowered structure, adequate capital and ring-fenced finances, accrual accounting and effective audits, and transparent disclosure in these departments is the need of the hour
  • Prepare shovel-ready projects along PPP models, rewire contracting frameworks
  1. The government ought to build capacity to create a bankable pipeline of shovel-ready strategic projects worth $150 billion annually, with focus on sectors and line departments where this capacity is missing
  2. Expediting creation of a PPP think-tank institution as recommended by the Kelkar committee could help
  3. Besides, we should look beyond conventional build-operate-transfer models to annuity and investment-lite performance-contracting models
  4. This would require recalibrating risk-sharing, and reworking contracts with clear performance metrics and flexibility to handle changes and exits
  • Create supply-side enablers to deepen the infrastructure financing ecosystem
  1. Stalled projects need to be dealt with steadfastly to nurse private developers and financial institutions to health
  2. Building certainty and capacity to implement the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code will be crucial
  3. A concomitant and scaled up asset monetization of operational assets can attract global capital and help increase public spending and government support for greenfield PPPs
  4. Creating a diversified and resilient financing ecosystem to facilitate a shift from overreliance on bank-led financing remains a key work-in-progress facilitation
  5. Allied guarantee instruments to strengthen bond markets and expeditious deployment of capital under the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund are facilitations that can help

Way forward

  1. History has taught us that PPPs are no silver bullet
  2. Broad-basing private investment in infrastructure requires relentless commitment and holistic efforts from both the Centre and the states
  3. Revving the stalling private sector investments engine is crucial to sustain and accelerate the infrastructure build-up that India needs, aspires for, and deserves

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pacific Island Nations

[op-ed snap] Raja Mandala: Battle for islands

Image result for pacific island countries china

Note4students

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

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Chinese influence among Pacific island nations and the need to counter it


Context

Importance of island nations

  1. At the dawn of the modern maritime age four centuries ago, control of critically-located islands became an important part of the rivalry between European powers in the Atlantic and the Indo-Pacific
  2. Islands helped the replenishment of supplies, positioning of troops and ammunition as well as for the host ship to do repair and maintenance
  3. Island dominance was the key to securing the sea lines of communication
  4. The Anglo-American maritime dominance over the last two centuries helped limit the contestation for the islands

Renewed focus on maritime nations

  1. Simultaneous developments last week in different corners of the Indo-Pacific — from the Maldives to Papua New Guinea — remind us of the renewed geopolitical importance of the island states
  2. Connecting these diverse developments is China’s push for greater influence in the Indo-Pacific and the belated resistance from rival powers — including India, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and the United States
  3. Today, the rise of China has pitchforked the island states back to the centre stage of major power politics

India-China rivalry in neighbourhood island nations

  1. Modi’s presence at the swearing-in of the new president of the Maldives, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, underlined the renewed warmth in the relations between India & the Maldives
  2. Under Solih’s predecessor, Abdulla Yameen, India’s relations with the Maldives rapidly deteriorated even as China’s influence began to rise
  3. The contestation between Delhi and Beijing in the Maldives inevitably got intertwined with the democratic struggle of the opposition parties to end Yameen’s autocracy
  4. The intersection of Sino-Indian rivalry with domestic politics has also come to the fore in neighbouring Sri Lanka
  5. Last month, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena dismissed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and installed the former president Mahinda Rajapaksa as the head of government
  6. Even before the rest of the world could absorb the meaning of Sirisena’s political coup, the Chinese ambassador in Colombo showed up at Rajapaksa’s office to congratulate him and convey the best wishes of President Xi
  7. India, the US and EU, in contrast, emphasised the importance of due constitutional process and letting parliament test which party had the majority

What do these developments point to?

  1. If China is widely seen as the loser — at least for the moment — from the elections in the Maldives, it was seen as a winner in Rajapaksa’s return to power
  2. During his decade-long rule of Sri Lanka (2004-15), Colombo seemed to steadily drift into China’s orbit
  3. Symbolising China’s new influence in Lanka were the strategic contracts it won to build the Colombo port city and the construction of a new port at Hambantota in the southern part of the island
  4. India, in turn, appeared to lose its historic primacy in the island state

Other cases of China’s raised intervention in island states

  1. Recently the island state of Papua New Guinea hosted the annual summit of the forum for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation
  2. How did the poorest member of the forum venture to host the summit that brings leaders from 20-odd countries
  3. Well, the Chinese and Australians have lent generous assistance
  4. As in the Maldives and Sri Lanka, the last few years have seen a spectacular rise in Chinese commercial and political presence in Papua New Guinea

US and Australia trying to counter China

  1. As speculation mounted that China might be in quest of a military base in Papua New Guinea, Australia and the US moved in and announced that they will fund the development of the port facilities in the Manus Island to the north-east of the main island
  2. Earlier this year, Canberra nudged Beijing out of a deal to build an undersea internet cable between Papua, Australia and the Solomon Islands
  3. Recently, Australia joined the US, Japan and New Zealand in unveiling a project to provide electricity to 70 per cent of the Papua New Guinea population by 2030
  4. Like Delhi in the Indian Ocean, Canberra and Wellington had underestimated the scale and speed of China’s power projection into their South Pacific neighbourhood
  5. So did the US, which failed to react in time to China’s push to gain control of the small rocks and islands of the South China Sea at the beginning of this decade

Way forward

  1. The unfolding contestation for influence in the island states of the Indo-Pacific has just begun
  2. It is unlikely to end any time soon — for one setback in the Maldives or Papua does not diminish China’s growing weight in the Indo-Pacific or its determination to project power far beyond its shores
  3. Unlike the European colonial powers, which could easily prevail over natives of the strategic island territories, today’s major powers have to deal with the more complex domestic politics of the island nations
  4. The ruling regimes in these islands have agency and the capacity to play one power against the other
  5. That promises to make the battle for the islands a prolonged and exciting political spectacle in the Indo-Pacific

Judicial Appointments Conundrum Post-NJAC Verdict

[op-ed snap] Criteria for the courts: on the appointment of judges

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Polity | Structure, organization & functioning of the Executive & the Judiciary

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Debate regarding opacity of collegium system and need for a more transparent and constitutional value centred process


Context

Appointments in judiciary

  1. On November 2, four new judges were elevated to the Supreme Court
  2. But neither the Collegium’s discussions on the appointees, as published on the court’s website, nor the popular discourse on the persons chosen concern themselves with a discussion on the records of these judges
  3. We are left with little idea, for instance, on what broad constitutional philosophy these judges espouse, what their approach to constitutional interpretation might be, and on how they might view the general role of the higher judiciary
  4. Contrary to what some might believe, engaging with a judge’s outlook to the Constitution isn’t necessarily inimical to judicial autonomy

Why a knowledge of judges background is essential?

  1. Judicial review gains its legitimacy from the Constitution
  2. Given that judges are unelected officials, its continuing legitimacy might be at stake if we deem it undemocratic to so much as wonder what the constitutional philosophy of a nominee might be
  3. As things stand, the procedure adopted in appointing judges is seen as entirely divorced from the ordinary constraints of a democracy
  4. This wasn’t quite how the Constituent Assembly saw things
  5. The framers believed that the judiciary was integral to the social revolution that the Constitution was meant to usher in

Constitutional provisions

  1. The Constitution comprises a number of special clauses
  2. It provides for, among other things, a fixed tenure for judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts
  3. It also ensures that salaries and allowances of judges are charged directly to the Consolidated Fund of India
  4. The constitution confers powers on the courts to punish for contempt of themselves
  5. It ensures that judges can only be removed through a process of parliamentary impeachment

Executive still given an important role

  1. The framers of the constitution always believed that the power to appoint judges must vest with the executive
  2. Accordingly, the Constitution provides, in broad terms, that judges to the Supreme Court would be appointed by the President in consultation with the Chief Justice of India (CJI) and such other judges that he deems fit

Judiciary resisting executive interference

  1. Through a series of rulings, the Supreme Court replaced the consultative method prescribed by the Constitution with one that gave the CJI and his four senior-most colleagues (the “Collegium”) primacy in selecting candidates
  2. This system has proved to be notoriously opaque
  3. Efforts to replace it with a National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) came up a cropper after the court struck down the 99th constitutional amendment, in Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association v. Union of India (2015)
  4. The primacy enjoyed by the collegium in making appointments to the higher judiciary, the court declared, was a part of the Constitution’s basic structure

Reasoning for appointments are weak

  1. Only the concerns over the relative seniority of these judges and the extent of State-wise representation kindled the collegium’s attention while making recommendations
  2. The candidates’ merit was also considered
  3. But given that the criteria for selection are entirely unknown, what merit means remains ambiguous, at best
  4. In any event, the general constitutional values of a nominee have never been seen as a benchmark to review merit
  5. The publication of the collegium’s decisions has shown us that the collegium’s workings are mysterious and undemocratic

The government is also not pushing for reforms

  1. For the most part, the government is happy with this arrangement
  2. It clears some recommendations with alacrity while holding back, often for months on end, others comprising nominees that it deems uncomfortable

The need for an independent commission

  1. What we need today is a more sustained discussion on the nature and workings of a body that can potentially replace the collegium
  2. Such a body must be independent of the executive, but, at the same time, must be subject to greater transparency and accountability
  3. This commission must also partake within it a facility for its members to have forthright discussions over the constitutional philosophies that a judge must possess

Way forward

  1. If we fail to bring these issues to the forefront, the rigours of democracy will never permeate into the judiciary
  2. And we will only be further undermining public trust in the credibility of the judicial review

 

Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

Explained: Why CBI needs consent

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Internal Security | Various Security forces & agencies & their mandate

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Everything about CBI

Mains level: Issues surrounding CBI and its mandate.


News

Background

  1. Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal governments withdrew “general consent” to the CBI for investigating cases in their respective states.
  2. The state governments said they had lost faith in the CBI in the backdrop of its internal turmoil marked by the open war among the agency’s top officers.
  3. They have also alleged that the Centre is using the CBI to unfairly target Opposition parties.

General Consent

  1. Unlike the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is governed by its own NIA Act and has jurisdiction across the country, the CBI is governed by the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act.
  2. This makes consent of a state government mandatory for conducting investigation in that state.
  3. There are two kinds of consent: case-specific and general.
  4. Given that the CBI has jurisdiction only over central government departments and employees, it can investigate a case involving state government employees or a violent crime in a given state only after that state government gives its consent.

When is Consent needed?

  1. General consent is normally given to help the CBI seamlessly conduct its investigation into cases of corruption against central government employees in the concerned state. Almost all states have given such consent.
  2. Otherwise, the CBI would require consent in every case.
  3. For example, if it wanted to investigate a bribery charge against a Western Railway clerk in Mumbai, it would have to apply for consent with the Maharashtra government before registering a case against him.

What does withdrawal mean?

  1. It means the CBI will not be able to register any fresh case involving a central government official or a private person stationed in these two states without getting case-specific consent.
  2. Withdrawal of consent simply means that CBI officers will lose all powers of a police officer as soon as they enter the state unless the state government has allowed them.

Under what provision has general consent been withdrawn?

  1. Section 6 of the Act says, nothing contained in Section 5 shall be deemed to enable any member of the Delhi Special Police Establishment to exercise powers and jurisdiction in any area in a State, not being a Union Territory or Railway, area, without the consent of the Government of that State.
  2. In exercise of power conferred by Section 6 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946 (Central Act No 25 of 1946), the government can withdraw the general consent to exercise the powers and jurisdiction.

Is it the first time a state government has withdrawn consent?

  1. Over the years, several states have done so, including Sikkim, Nagaland, Chhattisgarh and Karnataka — which stands out as an example.
  2. In 1998, the Janata Dal-led government had withdrawn general consent.
  3. In 1999, the S M Krishna-led government took over and did not revoke earlier order.
  4. The CBI had to virtually close down its office.
  5. It had to seek permission of the state government for every case and every search it conducted on central government employees.

Does that mean that the CBI can no longer probe any case in the two states?

  1. The CBI would still have the power to investigate old cases registered when general consent existed.
  2. Also, cases registered anywhere else in the country, but involving people stationed in Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal would allow CBI’s jurisdiction to extend to these states.
  3. There is ambiguity on whether the agency can carry out a search in either of the two states in connection with an old case without the consent of the state government.

Legal Remedies for CBI

  1. The CBI can always get a search warrant from a local court in the state and conduct searches.
  2. In case the search requires a surprise element, there is CrPC Section 166, which allows a police officer of one jurisdiction to ask an officer of another to carry out searches on his behalf.
  3. And if the first officer feels that the searches by the latter may lead to loss of evidence, the section allows the first officer to conduct searches himself after giving a notice to the latter.

What happens in Fresh Cases?

  1. Withdrawal of consent will only bar the CBI from registering a case within the jurisdiction of Andhra and Bengal.
  2. The CBI could still file cases in Delhi and continue to probe people inside the two states.
  3. An October 2018, order of the Delhi HC made it clear that the agency can probe anyone in a state that has withdrawn “general consent” if the case is not registered in that state.
  4. The order was given with regard to a case of corruption in Chhattisgarh, which also gives consent on a case-to-case basis.
  5. The court ordered that the CBI could probe the case without prior consent of the Chhattisgarh government since it was registered in Delhi.

Mere out of fear of Political Misuse

  1. If a state government believes that the ruling party’s ministers or members could be targeted by CBI on orders of the Centre, and that withdrawal of general consent would protect them.
  2. This is a wrong assumption.
  3. CBI could still register cases in Delhi which would require some part of the offence being connected with Delhi and still arrest and prosecute ministers or MPs.
  4. The only people it will protect are small central government employees.

Back2Basics

Central Bureau of Investigations

Please navigate to this page for further readings on CBI:

Central Bureau of Investigation: Composition, Functions

Child Rights – POSCO, Child Labour Laws, NAPC, etc.

Literacy levels in rural India suffer due to migration, finds UNESCO study

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the UNESCO Global Education Monitoring Report 2019

Mains level: Ill effects of migration on Literacy


News

Seasonal Migration hits Literacy

  1. Literacy levels in rural households of India dip with seasonal migration, the UNESCO global education monitoring report 2019 has observed while bringing out the educational challenges thrown up by migration.
  2. In India, 10.7 million children aged 6 to 14 lived in rural households with a seasonal migrant in 2013.
  3. About 28% of youth aged 15 to 19 in these households were illiterate or had not completed primary school, compared to 18% of the cohort overall says the report.
  4. About 80% of seasonal migrant children in seven cities lacked access to education near work sites, and 40% are likely to end up in work rather than education, experiencing abuse and exploitation.

Inter-State Migration

  1. Inter-State migration rates have doubled between 2001 and 2011.
  2. An estimated 9 million migrated between States annually from 2011 to 2016.
  3. It also warns of the negative impact on education for children who are left behind as their parents migrate.

Construction labors: The worst hit

  1. The report says that the construction sector absorbs the majority of short-term migrants.
  2. A survey in Punjab state of 3,000 brick kiln workers in 2015-16 found that 60% were inter-State migrants.
  3. Between 65% and 80% of all children aged five to 14 living at the kilns worked there seven to nine hours per day.
  4. About 77% of kiln workers reported lack of access to early childhood or primary education for their children.

Addressing the issue

  1. The report, however, acknowledges that India has taken steps to address the issue.
  2. The Right to Education Act in 2009 made it mandatory for local authorities to admit migrant children.
  3. National-level guidelines were issued, allowing for flexible admission of children, providing transport and volunteers to support with mobile education.
  4. The policies were attempted to create seasonal hostels and aiming to improve coordination between sending and receiving districts and states.

At State Level

  1. The report says some State governments have also taken steps for migrant children’s education.
  2. It, however, observes that most interventions are focused on keeping children in home communities instead of actively addressing the challenges faced by those who are already on the move.
  3. The report also talks of a failed initiative in Rajasthan
  4. A pilot programme used on brick kiln sites from 2010-2011 in Rajasthan to track the progress of out-of-school children did not improve learning in any substantial way.
  5. Teachers on the sites cited culture, language, lifestyle, cleanliness and clothing as major barriers between them and the kiln labour community.
  6. Teacher and student absenteeism were rampant.

Urban Challenges yet Unaddressed

  1. The report sees the growth of slums and informal settlements where schools are often scarce due to migration as a challenge.
  2. 18% of the students displaced by a riverfront project in Ahmedabad dropped out and an additional 11% had lower attendance.
  3. The report shows there is only one urban planner for every 1, 00,000 people in India, while there are 38 for every 1, 00,000 in the United Kingdom.

Corruption Challenges – Lokpal, POCA, etc

Corruption no longer among top 3 hurdles to doing business in India

Note4Students

Mains Paper3: Indian Economy | Effects of liberalization on the economy

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims: Ease of Doing Business

Mains level: Improvement of EoDB in India


News

Corruption not a barrier to EoDB

  1. The perception among U.K. businesses that corruption is a major barrier in doing business in India has halved.
  2. This is justified according to the latest edition of the U.K. India Business Council’s Ease of Doing Business report compared with what it was in 2015.

Halved since 2015

  1. There has been a considerable year-on-year fall in the number of companies that viewed ‘corruption’ as a major barrier – from 34% in 2016 to 25% in 2017.
  2. It has halved since 2015, where it stood at 51%.
  3. This decline shows a major improvement, indicating that the current government’s efforts to mitigate corruption appear to be delivering tangible and much-desired results.
  4. Corruption is no longer considered a ‘top-three’ barrier compared to those not currently active in India.

What made such steadfast progress?

  1. The report noted that initiative such as Aadhaar, electronic submission of government documents, acceptance of electronic signatures, and the push to file taxes online.
  2. This all have reduced face-to-face interactions where corruption is most likely to take place.
  3. The extent of digitalization, however, varies markedly across sectors, as does corruption, with those engaging in infrastructure projects still reporting significant issues relating to corruption.

Other Issues Cited

  1. Taxation issues and Price Points overtook ‘corruption’ as major barriers identified by 36% and 29% of respondents, respectively, the report said.
  2. The proportion of respondents identifying ‘taxation issues’ was 3% lower in 2018 than 2017.
  3. To this the report suggests that businesses may be starting to adjust to the GST.
  4. The key issue for those outside India is increasingly market demand for their products and services relative to government and bureaucracy-related barriers.

Innovations in Sciences, IT, Computers, Robotics and Nanotechnology

[pib] World’s standard definition of kilogram now redefined

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Everything about Kilogram and Weighing system, Planck’s constant

Mains level: Read the attached story.


News

Redefining Kilogram

  1. CGPM is the highest international body of the world for accurate and precise measurements and comprises of 60 countries including India and 42 Associate Members.
  2. The 26th meeting of the General Conference on Weights and Measures (CGPM) was held during November 13-16 2018 at Palais des Congréss, Versailles, France.
  3. In the meeting, the members have voted for the redefinition of 130 years old “Le grand K – the SI unit of kg” in terms of the fundamental Planck’s constant (h).
  4. The new definitions will come into force on 20 May 2019.

How will this take place?

  1. The International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM), the main executive body of CGPM has the responsibility of defining the International System of Units (SI).
  2. This revision of the SI is the culmination of many years of intensive scientific cooperation between the National Metrology Institutes (The national Physical Laboratory for India) and the BIPM.
  3. The dissemination of SI units for the welfare of society and industries in the country is the responsibility of Legal Metrology, Department of Consumer Affairs, GoI.

International prototype of kilogram (IPK)

  1. The International prototype of kilogram (IPK) is kept at the BIPM, Paris and serves as the international standard of kilogram.
  2. It is made of 90% platinum and 10% iridium and is a cylinder of 39 mm diameter and 39 mm height.
  3. Replicas of the IPK are made of the same material and used at BIPM as reference or working standards and national prototype of kilogram (NPK), kept at different National Metrology Institutes (NMIs).
  4. NPK-57, kept at CSIR- National Physical Laboratory, is sent periodically to BIPM for calibration.
  5. NPK further is being utilized through transfer standards of mass to provide unbroken chain of traceability for dissemination of mass through Legal Metrology to the user industries, calibration laboratories etc.
  6. The precise and accurate measurements help country in the production of international quality products and help commerce through elimination of the technical barrier to trade.

Using a Kibble Balance

  1. Kibble balance is a self-calibrating electromechanical balance and provides the measurements of mass, traceable in terms of electrical parameters and provides linkage of macroscopic mass to the Planck constant (h).
  2. NPL-UK, NIST-USA,NRC- Canada, PTB-Germany etc. have successfully developed Kibble balance for 1 kg with an uncertainty of measurement in order of 10-8.
  3. The advantages of Kibble balance would be that the NPK need not to be sent to BIPM for calibrations and the accuracy and stability of Kibble balance is very high.
  4. This is very important where low weights with high accuracies are essential, for example in pharmaceuticals and biotechnologies.

Making a truly Universal System

  1. After the kilogram’s definition is changed officially- on 20th May, 2019, also known as World Metrology Day- most people will never notice the difference.
  2. It would not change baking ingredients on a kitchen scale, or even have an effect on the tons of goods shipped globally every day.
  3. For astronomers calculating the movements of stars and galaxies or for pharmacologists trying to define doses of medications sown to the molecule, the new standard of measurement could change the way they work.
  4. The metric system was intended to be rational, universal set of units “for all people, for all time”.
  5. The SI unit will finally be truly universal system, free of any human artifacts.

Supplement this newscard with:

How much is a kilogram? Here comes a new way to measure it

Digital India Initiatives

[pib] AirSewa 2.0

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways, etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  AirSewa 2.0

Mains level:  Addressing passengers grievances in aviation sector


News

  • The Ministry of Civil Aviation has launched the upgraded version of AirSewa 2.0 web portal and mobile app.

AirSewa 2.0

  1. A need was felt for development of an upgraded version of AirSewa to provide a superior user experience with enhanced functionalities.
  2. Major improvements include features such as secure sign-up and log-in with social media, chatbot for travellers support, improved grievance management including social media grievances, real-time flight status and details flight schedule.
  3. The upgrade and improved version of AirSewa operates through an interactive web portal as well as through a mobile app for both android and iOS platforms.

Features of the Portal

  1. It will offer passengers a convenient and hassle-free air travel experience.
  2. The web portal and application will help to capture air travellers’ feedback for policy interventions.
  3. The focus is on improving the quality of services so that passengers who are travelling have a safe and comfortable experience.

Addressing Passenger’s Grievances

  1. Air passengers face issues like flight delays, problem in refunds, long queues, inadequate facilities at airports and complaints of lost baggage.
  2. The Ministry launched AirSewa web portal and mobile app in November 2016 to address this need.
  3. The AirSewa 1.0 was received well, with around 30,000 app downloads and around 75,000 web portal hits since its launch.
  4. It has helped significant number of air passengers to get their concerns resolved with 92 % closure rate for grievance solutions.
  5. In addition to grievance redressal, AirSewa also provides real-time flight status and flight schedules.

[pib] PM launches Ease of Doing Business Grand Challenge

Note4Students

Mains Paper3: Indian Economy | Issues relating growth and development.

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims: Ease of Doing Business Grand Challenge

Mains level: Steps taken to improve EoDB


News

  • The PM has launched the Ease of Doing Business Grand Challenge.

EoDB Grand Challenge

  1. The objective of this challenge is to invite innovative ideas based on Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Big Data Analytics, Blockchain and other cutting edge technology to reform Government processes.
  2. The aim is to make India a 5 trillion dollar economy in the shortest possible time.
  3. The platform for the Grand Challenge is the Startup India Portal.

Improving EoDB in India

  1. India’s EoDB rank has improved by 65 spots in past few years.
  2. India now ranks first in South Asia, and is just some steps away from the Top 50 target.
  3. The Prime Minister said that the Union Government has laid stress on Policy Driven Governance and Predictable Transparent Policies. He said
  4. In the last four years, more than 1400 archaic laws have been repealed.
  5. Dramatic reductions have been achieved in areas such as time taken for resolution of commercial disputes, and time taken for clearing imported goods.
  6. Organizations such as IMF and Moody’s appear confident and optimistic about India’s future.