9 PM Current Affairs Brief – January 1st, 2020

Finance Minister unveils ₹102 lakh crore national infrastructure plan

News:Finance Minister has released a report of task force on National Infrastructure on Pipeline(NIP) 2019-2025.

Facts:

About National Infrastructure on Pipeline(NIP) Task force:

  • The Central Government had constituted a task force to draw up a National Infrastructure Pipeline(NIP) from 2019-20 to 2024-25.
  • The Task Force has been chaired by the Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs,Ministry of Finance.
  • The task force has prepared a roadmap as it is estimated that India would need to spend $4.5 trillion on infrastructure by 2030 to sustain its growth rate.
  • Hence,the endeavour of the NIP is to make this happen in an efficient manner.

Key Highlights from the report:

  • The task force unveiled the National Infrastructure Pipeline(NIP) with projects worth ₹102-lakh crore.
  • The private companies will account for 22%-25% of the investments and the balance will come from the Centre and the states in equal proportions.
  • The projects have been classified under two broad categories namely economic infrastructure and social infrastructure for both ease of doing business and ease of living.
  • Under the projects,energy sectors make up the lion’s share of 24%, followed by roads(19%), urban development(16%) and the railways (13%).
  • The shares of rural and social infrastructure projects which includes health, education and drinking water is 8% and 3% respectively.

Significance of NIP:

  • Economy: A well planned NIP will enable more infrastructure projects, grow businesses, create jobs, improve ease of living and provide equitable access to infrastructure for all by making growth more inclusive.
  • Government: A well developed infrastructure enhances level of economic activity, creates additional fiscal space by improving revenue base of the government, and ensures quality of expenditure focused on productive areas.
  • Developers: It will provide better view of project supply, provides time to be better prepared for project bidding, reduces aggressive bids/ failure in project delivery, ensures enhanced access to sources of finance as a result of increased investor confidence.
  • Banks/financial institutions (F1s)/investors: It will build investor confidence as identified projects are likely to be better prepared, exposures less likely to suffer stress given active project monitoring, thereby less likelihood of NPAs.

One-fifth of country’s forests prone to fires:study

News:The Forest Survey of India(FSI) in its report State of the forest has talked about the forest fires in the country.

Facts:

Key takeaways from the report:

  • About 21.40% of forest cover in India is prone to fires with forests in the north-eastern region and central India being the most vulnerable.
  • The extremely fire prone areas account for 3.89% of total forest cover, very highly fire prone areas account for 6.01% and highly fire prone areas for 11.50%.Together,the three categories come to 21.40 % of forest cover.
  • The overall green cover has increased in the country but the forest cover in the north-east, particularly in Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland, has decreased.
  • The seven States of the north-eastern region accounted for about one-third of alerts in the country with Mizoram recording the highest number of fire alerts.
  • The reasons for forest fires are mostly man made particularly in cases where people visit forests and leave burning bidis, cigarette stubs or other inflammable materials.
  • However,in cases of natural reasons,the scientist pointed to the thunderstorms as the most likely cause.

Additional information:

About Forest fire:

  • The National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM) India defines forest fire as an unclosed and freely spreading fire that consumes the natural fuels.
  • Forest fires can be caused by both natural such as Lightning and anthropogenic factors such as negligent use of fire, shifting cultivation among others.

Initiatives taken to Control Forest fire:

National Master Plan for Forest Fire Control:The main objectives are:

  • To strengthen the organizations responsible for forest fire management
  • To coordinate international transfer of technology and training in the field of forest fire management
  • Creation of a strong database for: number of fires, area burnt, damage to flora and fauna, effect of fire on land and soil and measures taken
  • Assessment of ecological, social, and economic impact of fires
  • Strong national extension strategy for people’s awareness and their participation in forest fire management through Joint Forest Management and NGOs

Forest Fire Prevention and Management Scheme:In 2017, Intensification of Forest Management Scheme was revised and replaced as Forest Fire Prevention & Management Scheme.The main objectives of the scheme are as follows:

  • Minimise forest fire incidences and help in restoring productivity of forests in affected areas
  • Encourage partnership with forest fringe communities for forest protection
  • Prepare fire danger rating system and devise forest fire forecasting system

Pre Warning alert system:

  • Forest Survey of India(FSI) has developed Pre Warning Alert System.It gives alerts to state forest departments based on parameters like forest cover, forest types, climatic variables (temperature, rainfall) and recent fire incidents over the area.

Indore continues to top Swachh Survekshan among cities having ten lakh plus population

News:Union Minister for Housing and Urban Affairs has announced the results of the first (April-June) and second (July- September) quarters of Swachh Survekshan League 2020.

Facts:

About Swachh Survekshan League 2020:

  • Swachh Survekshan 2020 League was launched by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs in 2019.
  • The aim of the survey is to sustain the on-ground performance of cities along with continuous monitoring of service level performance in cleanliness.
  • The Swachh Survekshan 2020 League is being conducted in 3 quarters namely the April- June, July – September and the October- December 2019.
  • The performance of cities in the League 2020 is crucial to their ranking in Swachh Survekshan 2020 due to the 25% weightage of the quarterly assessments to be included in the annual survey in January 2020.

Key takeaways from the survey:

Cities with a population of 10 lakh and above:

  • Indore from Madhya Pradesh has been ranked first in both quarters.
  • Bhopal got second and Surat in Gujarat third spot in the first Quarter.
  • In the second quarter,Rajkot in Gujarat was at the 2nd spot while Navi Mumbai was at third.

Cities with a population of 1 lakh and above:

  • Jamshedpur in Jharkhand has been ranked first in both quarters.
  • New Delhi Municipal Council and Khargone in Madhya Pradesh got the second and third spot in the first quarter in this category.
  • In the Second quarter,Chandrapur in Maharashtra and Khargone got the second and third spot.

Maharashtra-Karnataka Belgaum tension flares again: How did it start, where does it stand?

News:Recently,the bus services between Kolhapur and Belgaum were suspended after the decades-old border dispute related to Belgaum between Maharashtra and Karnataka flared up again.

Facts:

About the Belgaum dispute:

  • The dispute between Maharashtra and Karnataka over Belgaum and other border areas is a longstanding issue between the two states.
  • The erstwhile Bombay Presidency had included the present-day Karnataka districts of Bijapur, Belgaum, Dharwar and Uttara-Kannada (previously North Kanara).
  • In 1948,the Belgaum municipality requested that the district having a predominantly Marathi-speaking population be incorporated into the proposed Maharashtra state.
  • However,the States Reorganisation Act of 1956 which divided states on linguistic and administrative lines made Belgaum a part of the then Mysore State(which was renamed Karnataka in 1973).

Mahajan Commission:

  • The Maharashtra government contested the inclusion of Belgaum in Karnataka and lodged a protest with the Central Government in September 1957.
  • This led to the formation of the Mahajan Commission under former Chief Justice Mehr Chand Mahajan in October 1966.
  • The commission recommended that 264 villages be transferred to Maharashtra and that Belgaum and 247 villages remain with Karnataka.
  • However, Maharashtra rejected the report and continues to claim over 865 villages along the border as well as Belgaum city which are currently part of Karnataka.

Labour Ministry mulls ‘Santusht’ portal in Jan for speedy resolution of grievances

News:Ministry of Labour has planned to launch a portal named ‘Santusht’.

Facts:

About the Santusht Portal:

  • The portal aims for speedy redressal of worker as well as employer grievances and ensuring effective implementation of labour laws at the grassroot level.
  • The portal would monitor all services provided by retirement fund body Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) and health insurance and services provider Employees State Insurance Corporation(ESIC) to formal sector workers.
  • The portal would also help the labour ministry to assess the performance of officials, which would be given due weightage at the time of their appraisals, transfers and postings.
  • Hence,the portal is envisaged to ensure transparency, accountability and effective implementation of labour laws.

India commences world’s largest ever vaccination programme to control FMD & Brucellosis in 2019

News:Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry & Dairying is implementing several programmes in the fisheries, animal husbandry and dairy sector.

Facts:

About National Animal Disease Control Programme for FMD and Brucellosis:

  • National Animal Disease Control Programme for Foot and Mouth Disease and Brucellosis is a 100% centrally funded programme.
  • It aims to control Foot and Mouth Disease and Brucellosis by 2025 with vaccination and eventual eradication by 2030.

About Nationwide Artificial Insemination Programme(NAIP):

  • The Nationwide Artificial Insemination Programme was launched in September,2019 by the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry & Dairying.
  • It is a campaign mode genetic upgradation program covering all breeds of bovines to enhance the milk production using low cost breeding technology for improving genetic merit of milch animals with high quality seed.
  • The aim of the program is to inseminate over 1 crore bovines in 6 months & ear-tag them with ‘PashuAadhaar’ which is a unique identification provided to the animals so as to enable the Government to identify and track the animals.
  • Under NAIP, more than 11 lakhs Artificial Insemination(AI) has been done as on 31st December,2019.

About Quality Milk Programme:

  • The Quality Milk Programme was launched in the year 2019 by Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry & Dairying.
  • The programme aims to achieve Global(Codex) standards for domestic consumption of milk and ensuring traceability & increasing share of milk and milk products in world exports.

80th Session of Indian History Congress

News:The 80th session of the Indian History Congress(IHC) was held at Kannur,Kerala between 28th and 30th December 2019.

Facts:

About Indian History Congress(IHC):

  • Indian History Congress(IHC) was founded in 1935.It is the largest association of professional historians in South Asia.
  • The first session of Indian History Congress(IHC) took place in Bharat Itihas Sanshodhak Mandal, Poona in 1935.
  • The main objective of IHC is to (a)regulate the standard of works of history produced in India (b) promote impartial and substantive history and (c)commit to a fair and scientific history, devoid of bias and politics.
  • The IHC has passed significant resolutions regarding the protection of monuments of historical importance and the role the government and Archaeological Survey of India should play in their preservation.

Addition Information:

About Bharat Itihas Sanshodhak Mandal:

  • Bharat Itihas Sanshodhak Mandal is an Indian institute providing resources and training for historical researchers.It is located at Pune in Maharashtra state.
  • The institute was founded in 1910 by the veteran Indian historian Vishwanath Kashinath Rajwade and Sardar K. C. Mehendale.

Telangana Industrial Health Clinic to spread wings

News:The Telangana Industrial Health Clinic Ltd, an initiative of the Telangana State government has decided to extend its services at pan India level.

Facts:

About Telangana Industrial Health Clinic Ltd:

  • Telangana Industrial Health Clinic Ltd was established in 2018 as a fintech Non-Banking Finance Company(NBFC).
  • It is a diagnostic and curative initiative for Micro and Small Manufacturing Enterprises (MSMEs) from slipping into sickness.

Objectives:

  • Prevent the incipient sickness in micro and small manufacturing enterprises(MSEs)
  • Perform service offerings for Revival, Restructuring and Rehabilitation of MSEs
  • Promote investments in manufacturing MSEs in clusters across the State
  • Prepare the MSEs to participate in the Equity markets to achieve next growth levels.

Funding:

  • It is promoted by State Government of Telangana and anchored by Telangana Industrial Development Corporation(TSIDC).
  • It has been established with a corpus of Rs.100 Crores fund with an initial contribution of Rs.10 cr from State Government of Telangana, a Rs.50 cr from Government of India and the rest through Equity holding from MSEs, Banks and Financial Institutions among others.

Current account deficit improves to 0.9% of GDP in July-September quarter, says RBI

News:According to Reserve Bank of India data,India’s current account deficit (CAD) has narrowed to 0.9% of GDP($ 6.3 billion).

Facts:

  • The contraction in the current account deficit(CAD) was primarily on account of a lower trade deficit at USD 38.1 billion as compared to USD $50 billion a year ago.
  • The private transfer receipts mainly representing remittances by Indians employed overseas has increased to $ 21.9 billion increasing by 5.2% from their level a year ago.
  • However,economists have claimed that the improvement in current account deficit was not sustainable.
  • This is because the trade deficit is lower primarily because imports have fallen at a faster rate than exports due to weak manufacturing activity and lower imports of raw materials and capital goods.

About Current Account Deficit:

  • The current account measures the flow of goods, services and investments into and out of the country.
  • There is a deficit in Current Account if the value of the goods and services imported exceeds the value of those exported.

Current Account Deficit = Trade gap + Net current transfers + Net income abroad

Trade Gap= Exports – Imports

Significance of Current account Deficit:

  • Current account balance measures the external strength or weakness of an economy.
  • A current account surplus implies the country is a net lender to the rest of the world while a current account deficit indicates it is a net borrower.
  • For the Current Account Deficit in India, crude oil and gold imports are the primary reasons behind high CAD.
  • The Current Account Deficit could be reduced in India by boosting exports and curbing non-essential imports such as gold, mobiles and electronics.
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