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08 April, 2020

66 Min Read

Paper Topics Subject
GS-I Jainism Art and Culture
GS-II DigiLocker as National Academic Depository (NAD)
'5 T plan' to fight coronavirus crisis in Delhi Governance
Cabinet approved 30% salary cut and MPLADS suspended Governance
Restrictions on Court Hearings Lawful Governance
GS-III National Highways Development Programme (NHDP)-Bharatmala Pariyojana
Fall in IHS Markit Economic Issues
Animals affected through COVID-19
PT Pointer World Health Day 2020
RBI relaxed the norms of State/UT to avail overdraft Economic Issues
Money laundering
Financial Intelligence Unit-India Economic Issues
Important GS Topics Smart City Mission Human Geography
GS-I : Art and Culture
Jainism

Jainism and Mahavir Jayanti

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-I- Religion

  • Mahavir Jayanti is one of the most auspicious festivals in the Jain community.
  • This day marks the birth of Vardhamana Mahavira, who was the 24th and the last Tirthankara who succeeded the 23rd Tirthankara, Parshvanatha.
  • According to Jain texts, Lord Mahavira was born on the 13th day of the bright half of the moon in the month of Chaitra.
    • As per the Gregorian calendar, Mahavir Jayanti is usually celebrated during the month of March or April. In 2020, Mahavir Jayanti was celebrated on 6th of April.
  • A procession is called with the idol of Lord Mahavira called the Rath Yatra.
  • Reciting stavans or Jain prayers, statues of the lord are given a ceremonial bath called abhisheka.

Lord Mahavira

  • Mahavir was born to King Siddhartha of Kundagrama and Queen Trishala, a Lichchhavi princess in the year 540 BC in the Vajji kingdom, identical with modern day Vaishali in Bihar.
  • Mahavira belonged to the Ikshvaku dynasty.
  • There are several historians who believe that he was born in a place called Ahalya bhumi and the land has not been plowed for hundreds of years by the family that owns it.
  • Lord Mahavir was named Vardhamana, which means “one who grows”.
  • He abandoned worldly life at the age of 30 and attained ‘kaivalya’ or omniscience at the age of 42.
  • Mahavira taught ahimsa (non-violence), Satya (truth), asteya (non-stealing), brahmacharya (chastity) and aparigraha (non-attachment) to his disciples and his teachings were called Jain Agamas.
  • Ordinary people were able to understand the teachings of Mahavira and his followers because they used Prakrit.
  • It is believed that the Mahavira passed away and attained moksha (liberation from the cycle of birth and death) at the age of 72 in 468 BC at a place called Pavapuri near modern Rajgir in Bihar.

 

Jainism

  • The word Jaina comes from the term Jina, meaning conqueror.
  • Tirthankara is a Sanskrit word meaning 'Ford maker', i.e., one who is able to ford the river, to cross beyond the perpetual flow of earthly life.
  • Jainism attaches utmost importance to ahimsa or non-violence.
  • It preaches 5 mahavratas (the 5 great vows):
    • Ahimsa (Non-violence)
    • Satya (Truth)
    • Asteya or Acharya (Non-stealing)
    • Aparigraha (Non-attachment/Non-possession)
    • Brahmacharya (Celibacy/Chastity)
  • Among these 5 teachings, the Brahmacharya (Celibacy/Chastity) was added by Mahavira.
  • The three jewels or Triratna of Jainism include
    • Samyak Darshana (right faith).
    • Samyak Gyana (right knowledge).
    • Samyak Charitra (right conduct).
  • Jainism is a religion of self-help.
    • There are no gods or spiritual beings that will help human beings.
    • It does not condemn the varna system.
  • In later times, it got divided into two sects:
    • Shvetambaras (white-clad) under Sthalabahu.
    • Digambaras (sky-clad) under the leadership of Bhadrabahu.
  • The important idea in Jainism is that the entire world is animated: even stones, rocks, and water have life.
  • Non-injury to living beings, especially to humans, animals, plants, and insects, is central to Jaina philosophy.
  • According to Jain teachings, the cycle of birth and rebirth is shaped through karma.
  • Asceticism and penance are required to free oneself from the cycle of karma and achieve the liberation of the soul.
  • The practice of Santhara is also a part of Jainism.
    • It is the ritual of fasting unto death. Swetambara Jains call it Santhara whereas Digambars call it Sallekhana.

yesJai Hind Jai Bharat

Source: Web/TH

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GS-II :
DigiLocker as National Academic Depository (NAD)

HRD Ministry has designated DigiLocker as National Academic Depository (NAD)

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II-Governance

DigiLocker, an online document wallet has been designated as the sole National Academic Depository (NAD) by the Ministry of Human Resource and Development (MHRD) to enable educational institutions to store digital copies of academic awards, mark sheets and certificates on the cloud-based service.

  • University Grants Commission (UGC) will implement NAD as a permanent scheme within Digilocker. UGC will have to ensure that reports on various parameters such as registrations, academic award uploads, and verification completed are provided to MHRD.

Features of NAD

NAD will:

  • Operate in fully online mode
  • Allow lodging of Academic awards in a digital format, maintaining the integrity of access to the database and of the awards lodged in the database.
  • Allow students to retrieve their lodged academic awards at any time.
  • Allow employers and other person with prior approval of the concerned student to verify the authenticity of any academic award.
  • Maintain the authenticity, integrity and confidentiality of the database.

Stakeholders in NAD

  1. Students and other academic award holders
  2. Academic Institutions/Boards/Eligibility assessment bodies
  3. Verifying Entities i.e. banks, employer companies (domestic & overseas), Government entities, academic institutions/boards/eligibility assessment bodies (domestic and overseas) etc.
  4. Ministry of Human Resource Development/ University Grants Commission
  5. Depositories i.e. NSDL Database Management Limited (NDML) and CDSL Ventures Limited (CVL)

Services being offered by the NAD

The NAD shall:

  • Register Academic Institutions/Boards/Eligibility Assessment bodies
  • Register students based on Aadhaar / Unique NAD ID;
  • Register verification users;
  • Allow Academic Institutions/Boards/Eligibility Assessment bodies to upload the academic awards issued by them.
  • Allow Academic Institutions/Boards/Eligibility Assessment bodies to map/link the academic award to the NAD Accounts of Students concerned.
  • Allow students to view the academic awards linked to their respective account.
  • Allow students to download/print an authenticated copy of the academic award.
  • Allow verifying entities to verify the authenticity of the academic award (subject to prior student consent)

Benefits of NAD

For academic institutions

  • Permanent and safe record of keeping all academic awards issued;
  • No need for issuing duplicate academic awards, students can get it from NAD;
  • Effective deterrence to fake and forged paper certificates;
  • All academic awards verification needs can be addressed by NAD;
  • Efficient, effective and transparent administration.

For students

  • Immediate availability of academic awards upon upload by Academic Institution
  • Online, permanent record of academic awards
  • No risk of losing, spoiling, damaging the academic awards
  • Anytime, anywhere and convenient access to academic awards

For verification Users (Employer Companies, Banks etc.)

  • Online, quick and reliable verification of academic awards (with prior consent of the student concerned)
  • Access to authenticated copy of academic awards
  • No risk of fake and forged Certificates.
  • Reduction in cost, time and efforts for verification

 

About Digilocker: It is an Aadhaar-based cloud-based locker in which users can store electronic versions of important documents like birth certificates, voters ID cards, University documents, PAN cards, and more. It was launched by the Department of Electronics & Information Technology (DeitY) in 2015.
Background: Before this, NDML (NSDL Database Management Limited) and CVL (CDSL Ventures Limited) acted as the NAD, for a period of 3 years. The agreement between UGC, NDML and CVL ended in November 2019.

yesJai Hind Jai Bharat

Source: TH

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GS-II : Governance
'5 T plan' to fight coronavirus crisis in Delhi

'5 T plan' to fight coronavirus crisis in Delhi

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II-Governance

A 'five T plan' - testing, tracing, treatment, team work, and tracking and monitoring, to tackle Covid-19.

Chief Minister said along with these steps, the government is well prepared in dealing with up to 30,000 active cases in the city. Explaining each T, he said corona test will be the first step, under which the government will go for mass random tests. "If there is no testing, how will we know who is infected and who is not? We will do mass tests for coronavius like South Korea did." He said South Korea identified every single patient through mass tests.

 

The next step will be tracing,  after a person tested positive. "We will trace his/her movement. Their contacts will be asked for quarantine. Many people in Delhi were asked for self-quarantine. 

 

The Delhi government will make arrangements in hospitals, hotels, and even banquet halls to quarantine/isolate the patients. "We will have 8,000 beds in hospitals, 12,000 hotel rooms and 10,000 rooms at banquet halls and guesthouses.... The most serious -- those already suffering from other disease and above the age of 50 --- will be kept in hospitals while others will be accommodated elsewhere," Not just rooms but the government will need more ventilators, oxygen and other equipment. "We have made the calculations and are ready." The PPE kits were a major issue but the Centre has helped in this regard. Also, the Delhi government has asked for the kits from some companies. "We will get the kits directly from companies from the next week."

The fourth T, he said, is teamwork. "No one can fight COVID-19 alone. All governments are working as a team. The people and government should also work as a team. Doctor and nurses are the most important part of the team." The opposition and ruling party are working together.

On the fifth T, tracking and monitoring, CM said he will personally track everything and ensure things fall in line. "I am personally monitoring the situation and the preparations. I am sure if we are well prepared, we will be able to win this fight against coronavirus."

Source: LiveMint

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GS-II : Governance
Cabinet approved 30% salary cut and MPLADS suspended

Cabinet approved 30% salary cut and MPLADS suspended

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II-Governance

 

Union Cabinet headed by Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi has approved an ordinance of 30% cut in the salaries of all Members of Parliament (MPs) for FY 20-21 and a two-year suspension (2020-21 and 2021-22) of the MP Local Area Development (MPLAD) scheme so that the amount saved can go to the Consolidated Fund of India to fight COVID-19. The Union Cabinet has approved an ordinance to amend the Salaries, Allowances and Pension of Members of Parliament Act, 1954. The saved amount will go to the Consolidated Fund of India to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

Key Points

  • 30% Salary Cut
    • It is applicable to all MPs, including the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers, for the financial year 2020-2021.
    • The President and Vice-President of India along with all the State Governors, have also decided on their own to take a 30% salary cut.
    • However, the amendment will only cut MPs’ salaries, not allowances or the pensions of ex-MPs.
    • According to the pay hike in 2018, each MP draws a monthly salary of ?1 lakh, ?70,000 as constituency allowance and ?60,000 for running office besides other perks.
  • Suspension of MPLADS
    • The amount saved from the scheme would be around ?8,000 crore and will be redirected to the Consolidation Fund.
    • Many MPs had already pledged to use their MPLADS funds for efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
    • 74 Rajya Sabha members had contributed a total of ?100 crore, and 265 Lok Sabha members had given a total of ?265 crore.
  • Currently, the Lok Sabha has 542 members while the Rajya Sabha has a strength of 245 members, including 12 nominated.
  • The comprehensive decision was taken to convey the message of social responsibility of the MPs.
  • Other Previous Measures
    • The employees of the central government have already given one day’s salary on their own. However, it is not clear if they will face a pay cut or not.
    • State government of Telangana had already announced salary cuts at all levels on 30th March.
    • Government has announced various other measures including the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana.
  • The salary cut has been supported throughout the country. However, the suspension of MPLADS has been criticised on the grounds that it is a disservice to the constituents and will undermine the role and functions of the MPs. It is the centralisation of funds which goes against federalism.

Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme

  • It was announced in December 1993 under the control of the Ministry of Rural Development. Later, in October 1994, it was transferred to the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.
  • Objectives:
    • To enable MPs to recommend works of developmental nature with emphasis on the creation of durable community assets based on the locally felt needs to be taken up in their Constituencies.
      • Lok Sabha Members can recommend works within their constituencies and elected Members of Rajya Sabha can recommend works within the State they are elected from.
      • Nominated Members of both the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha can recommend works anywhere in the country.
    • To create durable assets of national priorities viz. drinking water, primary education, public health, sanitation and roads, etc.
  • It is a Central Sector Scheme. The annual MPLADS fund entitlement per MP constituency is ?5 crore.

 

PT PICKUPS

Government Accounts

  • Consolidated Fund
    • It was constituted under Article 266 (1) of the Constitution of India.
    • It is made up of:
      • All revenues received by the Government by way of taxes (Income Tax, Central Excise, Customs and other receipts) and all non-tax revenues.
      • All loans raised by the Government by issue of Public notifications, treasury bills (internal debt) and from foreign governments and international institutions (external debt).
    • All government expenditures are incurred from this fund and no amount can be withdrawn from the Fund without authorization from the Parliament.
    • Each state can have its own Consolidated Fund of the state with similar provisions.
    • The Comptroller and Auditor General of India audits the fund and reports to the relevant legislatures on the management.
  • Contingency Fund
    • It was constituted under the Article 267 (1) of the Indian Constitution.
    • Its corpus is ?500 crores.
    • It is used for meeting unforeseen expenditure.
    • Each state can have its own Contingency Fund of the state with similar provisions.
  • Public Account
    • It was constituted under Article 266 (2) of the Indian Constitution.
    • The transactions under this account relate to debt other than those included in the Consolidated Fund of India.
    • The receipts under Public Account do not constitute normal receipts of Government hence Parliamentary authorization for payments is not required.
    • Every state can have their own similar accounts.

Source: TH

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GS-II : Governance
Restrictions on Court Hearings Lawful

Restrictions on Court Hearings Lawful

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II- Judiciary

Recently, the Supreme Court held that all restrictions imposed on people from entering, attending or taking part in court hearings are lawful in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

  • The court said these restrictions were in tune with the social distancing norms and best public health practices advocated to contain the Covid-19.

 

Duty vs Discretion: The apex court invoked its extraordinary Constitutional powers under Article 142 to step away from the convention of open court hearings. It further clarified that use of this extraordinary power was not a matter of discretion but of duty.

  • Convention vs Public Health: Although the open court system ensures transparency in administration of justice, scaling down of conventional operations was done to avoid congregation of a large number of people. The court made it clear that public health takes precedence over conventions.
  • Cooperation and Participation: The court said every individual and institution is expected to cooperate in the implementation of measures designed to reduce the transmission of the virus.
     
    • It also argued courts at all levels respond to the call of social distancing and ensure that court premises do not contribute to the spread of virus.
  • Covid-19 and Rule of Law: Access to justice is fundamental to preserve the rule of law in the democracy envisaged by the Constitution of India. In the absence of access to justice, people are unable to have their voice heard, exercise their rights, challenge discrimination or hold decision-makers accountable.
    • The challenges occasioned by the outbreak of Covid-19 have to be addressed while preserving the constitutional commitment to ensuring the delivery of and access to justice to those who seek it.

ICT and Delivery of Justice

  • Guidelines: The Supreme Court also issued the following guidelines to streamline the use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in effective delivery of Justice:
     
    • High Courts: The High Courts to decide the modalities for the use of videoconferencing technologies in their respective States.
    • District Courts: District courts in each State would adopt the mode of videoconferencing prescribed by the respective High Courts.
    • Helplines: Helplines to be set up to receive and rectify technical complaints.
  • The courts should make available video conferencing facilities for litigants who do not have it or appoint an amicus curiae (friend of the court).
  • Mutual Consent of Parties: The court said in no case shall evidence be recorded without the mutual consent of both the parties by videoconferencing.
  • Social Distancing: If it is necessary to record evidence in a courtroom, the presiding officer shall ensure the social distancing to be followed.

 

Article 142

  • It provides discretionary power to the Supreme Court as it states that the Supreme Court in the exercise of its jurisdiction may pass such decree or make such order as is necessary for doing complete justice in any cause or matter pending before it.
  • Constructive Application: In the early years of the evolution of Article 142, the general public and the lawyers both lauded the Supreme Court for its efforts to bring complete justice to various deprived sections of society or to protect the environment.
  • In the Union Carbide case, relating to the victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy, the Supreme Court placed itself above the laws made by the Parliament or the legislatures of the States by saying that, to do complete justice, it could even override the laws made by Parliament.
    • However, in the Supreme Court Bar Association v. Union of India, the Supreme Court stated that Article 142 could not be used to supplant the existing law, but only to supplement the law.
  • Cases of Judicial Overreach: In recent years, there have been several judgments of the Supreme Court wherein it has been foraying into areas which had long been forbidden to the judiciary by reason of the doctrine of ‘separation of powers’, which is part of the basic structure of the Constitution. One such example is:
    • The ban on the sale of alcohol along national and state highways: While the notification by the central government prohibited liquor stores along National Highways only, the Supreme Court put in place a ban on a distance of 500 metres by invoking Article 142.

Source: TH

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GS-III :
National Highways Development Programme (NHDP)-Bharatmala Pariyojana

NHAI achieved record 3,979 km highways construction

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III- Economy Infrastructure

National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has achieved the highest ever highway construction feat with an accomplishment of 3,979 km of national highways in the financial Year 2019-20.However, it has completed 88% of highway construction against the target of building 4,500 km highways in FY-20. In the FY 2018-19, NHAI constructed 3,380 km of National Highways.

Initiatives taken to accelerate the pace of highway construction:

-The government has initiated a highway development programme in 2015 namely Bharatmala Pariyojana, which includes development of about 65,000 km of NHs. Under Phase-I of the programme, the government has approved implementation of 34,800 km of national highways projects with an outlay of Rs 5.35 lakh crore in a period of five years i.e. 2017-18 to 2021-22.The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has been mandated to develop 27,500 km of NHs under Phase-I.
-Apart from above, the government has also revived stalled projects, streamlined land acquisition and acquisition of a major portion of land prior to inviting bids.
-Disputes resolution mechanism was revamped to avoid delays in completion of projects.

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National Highways Development Programme (NHDP)

National Highways Development Programme (NHDP) was launched in 1998 with the objective of developing roads of international standards which facilitate smooth flow of traffic. It envisages creation of roads with enhanced safety features, better riding surface, grade separator and other salient features. National Highways constitute only 2% of the total road length in the country but carry 40% of the total traffic.

NHDP is being implemented by National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), an organisation under the aegis of Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways. The programme is being implemented in the following seven phases;

  • Phase I: Phase I consists of Golden Quadrilateral network comprising a total length of 5,846 km which connects the four major cities of Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai & Kolkata and 981 km of North-South and East-West corridor .NS-EW corridor connects Srinagar in the north to Kanyakumari in the south and Silchar in the east to Porbandar in the west. Phase I also includes improving connectivity to ports.
  • Phase II: Phase II covers 6,161 km of the NS-EW corridor (The total NS-EW corridor consists of 7,142 km) and 486 km of other NHs.
  • Phase III: Four-laning of 12,109 km of high density national highways connecting state capitals and places of economic, commercial and tourist importance.
  • Phase IV: Upgradation of 20,000 km of single-lane roads to two-lane standards with paved shoulders.
  • Phase V: Six-laning of 6,500 km of four-laned highways.
  • Phase VI: Construction of 1,000 km of expressways connecting major commercial and industrial townships.
  • Phase VII: Construction of ring roads, by-passes, underpasses, flyovers, etc. comprising 700 km of road network

About NHAI:

Establishment– 1995

Administrative control– Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH)

Chairman– Dr. Sukhbir Singh Sandhu

Bharatmala Pariyojana

The Government of India launched “Bharatmala Pariyojana”, a new umbrella program for the highways sector that focuses on optimizing the efficiency of road traffic movement across the country by bridging critical infrastructure gaps. The project covering a whopping 34800 km of the road would be completed in a phased manner.

The Bharatmala Pariyojana was announced i, the Minister of Road Transport and Highways of India with an aim to improve the road network in the country. The budget for the scheme will be managed by the cess collected on petrol and diesel and the tax collected at toll booths, apart from the budgetary support provided by the Government.

The components of Bharatmala Pariyojana are

  1. Development of Economic corridors – 9,000 Kms
  2. Inter-corridor & feeder roads – 6,000 Kms
  3. Improving the efficiency of National Corridors – 5,000 Kms
  4. Border & International connectivity roads – 2,000 Kms
  5. Coastal & port connectivity roads – 2,000 Kms
  6. Expressways – 800 Kms
  7. Balance of NHDP works – 10000 Kms

The Bharatmala project envisions to improve the efficiency of the National Corridor including the Golden-Quadrilateral and North, South –East West corridor by decongesting the choke points through the construction of elevated corridors, bypasses, ring roads, lane expansion and logistics parks at identified points. 

The project plan includes the construction of Border Roads of strategic importance along international boundaries and International Connectivity roads to promote trade with Myanmar, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal.

The programme has identified around 26,200 km of Economic Corridors or routes that have heavy freight traffic. The programme has planned to develop the identified Economic Corridors with heavy freight traffic, end to end to ensure seamless, speedy travel and uniformity in standards. Feeder Corridors will be developed so as to address the infrastructure asymmetry that exists in many places.

All projects implemented under Bharatmala are to be technically, financially and economically appraised by an empowered Project Appraisal &Technical Scrutiny Committee to be set up in National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH).

Features of Bharatmala Pariyojana

The scheme was initiated with an aim to improve road traffic and improve trade through road transportation. Some other key features of the Bharatmala Pariyojana include:

  1. The main aim was to improve the quality of roads in order to bring in a wave of development in every corner of the country.
  2. Construction of new roads is another important feature for the announcement for this scheme. 
  3. The Government plans to finish the construction of all the roads, under this scheme, within a time span of five years.
  4. Since the fund provided by the Government may not be sufficient for the construction of roads, hence the Ministry relies on various other sources for the completion of this project.
  5. The project aims to construct multiple roads and for proper executive of the project, the Ministry has decided to divide the project into various categories for proper construction of the roads. 

Objectives

  • Optimizing efficiency of the movement of goods and people across the country.
  • Generating large number of direct and indirect employment opportunities in the construction & infrastructure sector and also as part of the enhanced economic activity resulting from better road connectivity across the country.
  • Connecting 550 Districts in the country through NH linkages.

Highlights of Bharatmala Pariyojana

  • It calls for improvement in efficiency of existing corridors through development of Multimodal Logistics Parks and elimination of choke points.
  • It enhances focus on improving connectivity in North East and leveraging synergies with Inland Waterways.
    • North East Economic corridor enhancing connectivity to state capitals and key towns.
    • Multimodal freight movement via 7 Waterway terminals on River Brahmaputra – Dhubri, Silghat, Biswanath Ghat, Neamati, Dibrugarh, Sengajan, Oriyamgh.
  • It emphasis on the use of technology & scientific planning for project preparation and asset monitoring.
  • It calls for seamless connectivity with neighboring countries:
    • 24 Integrated check posts (ICPs) identified
    • Transit through Bangladesh to improve North East connectivity
    • Integrating Bangladesh – Bhutan – Nepal and Myanmar – Thailand corridors which will make NorthEast hub of East Asia
  • Satellite mapping of corridors to identify upgradation requirements

Challenges of Bharatmala Project

The Bharatmala project was announced in 2017 and was targetted to get completed by 2022. However, the latest reports suggest that the project currently is nowhere close to completion because of the increased land cost and the increase in the estimated budget for the project. 

The Central Government is now looking in for more investments from funds collected from the market and any other private investment. If the estimated budget is not met, then the Government intends to auction completed highway projects or even look for foreign debts and bond markets.  

Bharatmala Route

The government will mobilize resources for Bharatmala through four different routes:

  • Market borrowings
  • Central road fund
  • Monetizing government-owned road assets
  • Budgetary allocation

Of the total amount, Rs. 2 Lakh Crore are to be raised as debt from market borrowings, while Rs. 1 Lakh crore will be used from the accrued money in Central Road Fund and toll collections by NHAI.

This project will help in the economic growth of the country by increasing the corridors from 6 to 50. The Central Government, with the Bharatmala Project intent to increase trade, improve the condition of the National Highways and improve the network of roads in the country.

Source: TH/Gov Web

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GS-III : Economic Issues
Fall in IHS Markit

Fall in IHS Markit

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III- Economy Data

The IHS Markit India Services Business Activity Index (i.e Service Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI)) was at 49.3 in March, down from February’s 85-month high of 57.5.

Important

  • The Index is compiled by IHS Markit for more than 40 economies worldwide. IHS Markit is a global leader in information, analytics and solutions for the major industries and markets that drive economies worldwide.
  • The fall implies contraction in India’s services sector activity during March basically due to COVID-19.
    • The COVID-19 pandemic has reduced demand, particularly in overseas markets. Nationwide store closures and prohibition to leave the house weighed heavily on the services economy.
    • In PMI parlance, a print above 50 means expansion, while a score below that denotes contraction.
  • The Composite PMI Output Index that maps both the manufacturing and services sector also fell to 50.6 in March, down 7 points from February’s 57.6.
    • This signals a sharp slowdown in private sector output growth and brought an abrupt end to the recent strong upward-moving expansion trend.

Purchasing Managers' Index

  • PMI is an index of the prevailing direction of economic trends in the manufacturing and service sectors.
  • It consists of a diffusion index that summarizes whether market conditions, as viewed by purchasing managers, are expanding, staying the same, or contracting.
  • The purpose of the PMI is to provide information about current and future business conditions to company decision makers, analysts, and investors.
  • It is different from the Index of Industrial Production (IIP), which also gauges the level of activity in the economy.

Index of Industrial Production

  • The Index of Industrial Production (IIP) is an index which details out the growth of various sectors in an economy such as mineral mining, electricity, manufacturing, etc.
  • It is compiled and published monthly by the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO), Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.
  • The Base Year of the Index of Eight Core Industries has been revised from the year 2004-05 to 2011-12 from April, 2017.
    • The eight core industries comprise 40.27% of the weight of items included in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP).
    • The eight Core Industries in decreasing order of their weightage: Refinery Products> Electricity> Steel> Coal> Crude Oil> Natural Gas> Cement> Fertilizers.

Difference between PMI and IIP

  • IIP covers the broader industrial sector compared to PMI.
    • Index of Industrial Production (IIP) measures growth in the industrial sector.
    • IIP shows the change in production volume in major industrial sub sectors like manufacturing, mining and electricity.
    • Similarly, the IIP also gives use based (capital goods, consumer goods etc) trends in industrial production.
  • PMI is more dynamic compared to a standard industrial production index.
    • The PMI senses dynamic trends because of the variable it uses for the construction of the index compared to volume based production indicators like the IIP.
    • For example, new orders under PMI show growth oriented positive trends and not just volume of past production that can be traced in an ordinary Index of Industrial Production.

Source: TH

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GS-III :
Animals affected through COVID-19

Animals affected through COVID-19

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III-Health

Owing to a recent news report on a Tiger being infected with Covid-19 in New York (Bronx Zoo), the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has issued an advisory regarding the containing and management of Covid-19 in National Parks/Sanctuaries/Tiger Reserves.

  • Also, a tiger in Pench Tiger Reserve (Madhya Pradesh) has died due to respiratory illness. The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) is investigating whether the tiger should be tested for the novel coronavirus disease.
  • However, swabs from the throat and nose to test for rhinotracheitis, a viral infection that afflicts cats and causes respiratory illness were collected.

Important

  • Spread of Infection from humans to animals
    • The Bronx Zoo case suggests that a zoo employee spread the virus to the tiger.
    • The virus came from an animal source and mutated; humans have since been infecting humans. Thus, it is theoretically possible for the virus to mutate again to survive in certain species after being transmitted by humans.
  • Advisory by the MInistry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change
    • It has asked all Chief Wildlife Wardens (CWLWs) of all States/UTs to take immediate preventive measures to stop the transmission and spread of the virus from humans to animals and vice versa, in National Parks/Sanctuaries and Tiger Reserves.
    • The CWLW is the statutory authority under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 who heads the Wildlife Wing of a State Forest Department and exercises complete administrative control over Protected Areas (PAs) within a state.
  • Guidelines issued by the NTCA and CZA
    • Both the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) and the NTCA have issued guidelines that require zoos to be on the “highest alert” and monitor animals on closed-circuit cameras 24/7 for “abnormal behaviour and symptoms.”
    • The CZA has also directed zookeepers to approach sick animals wearing personal protective equipment and isolate and quarantine them.

Central Zoo Authority

  • The CZA is a statutory body whose main objective is to enforce minimum standards and norms for upkeep and health care of animals in Indian zoos. It was established in 1992.
  • Zoos are regulated as per the provisions of Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and are guided by the National Zoo Policy, 1998.

National Tiger Conservation Authority

  • NTCA is a statutory body under the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change.
  • It was established in December, 2005 following the recommendations of the Tiger Task Force.
  • It was constituted under enabling provisions of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, and amended in 2006, for strengthening tiger conservation, as per powers and functions assigned to it .

Pench Tiger Reserve

  • Pench Tiger Reserve, Seoni (Madhya Pradesh) is one of the major Protected Areas of Satpura-Maikal ranges of the Central Highlands. It was included in the Project Tiger in 1992-93.
  • It is among the sites notified as Important Bird Areas of India.
    • The IBA is a programme of Birdlife International which aims to identify, monitor and protect a global network of IBAs for conservation of the world’s birds and associated diversity.
  • It has a contiguous forest cover with Kanha Tiger Reserve and Pench Tiger Reserve (Maharashtra).
  • The area of the Pench Tiger Reserve and the surrounding area is the real story area of Rudyard Kipling's famous "The Jungle Book".
  • The forests found in Pench Tiger Reserve are divided into three parts: southern tropical wet dry forest, southern tropical dry deciduous teak forest and southern tropical dry deciduous mixed forest.
  • The major Carnivores are Tiger, leopard, wild cat, wild dog, hyena, jackal, fox, wolf, weasel, among the vegetarian species, Gaur, Nilgai, Sambar, Chital, Chasinga, Chinkara, Wild Pig etc. are prominent.
  • There are a lot of migratory birds seen in the cold season. Among the migratory birds, Ruddy shelduck, Pintail, Whistling Teal and Vegtel etc are prominent.

Source: TH

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GS-III :
World Health Day 2020

Important Days

World Health Day 2020: April 7

World Health Day is observed annually on April 7, under the sponsorship of the World Health Organization (WHO), to spread about equal healthcare facilities worldwide, the importance of Health and Wellness and to kill myths around Health.

Theme of the year 2020: Support nurses and midwives.

The theme celebrates the work of nurses and midwives and reminds world leaders of the critical role they play in keeping the world healthy.

Key Points:

i.The WHO designated 2020 as International Year of Nurse and Midwife in honour of the 200th birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale and this year highlights the current status of nursing around the world.
ii.On this day, WHO launched the first-ever State of the World’s Nursing report 2020.
iii.WHO held the First World Health Assembly in 1948 and the Assembly decided to celebrate April 7 of each year, with effect from 1950, as the World Health Day.

 

International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda: April 7

The International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda is observed every year on April 7, since 2004 to commemorate the murder of more than 1 million people, majorly consist of Tutsi, Twa & moderate Hutu- group of African Great lakes region & others who opposed the genocide in Rwanda and also to reflect on the suffering of those who survived. This year marks its 26th anniversary.
Key Points

i.The Tutsi were systematically killed in the space of 100 days, from April 7 to the middle of July 1994.
ii.The United Nations(UN) General Assembly adopted a resolution on December 23, 2003 to establish the International Reflection Day on the 1994 genocide in Rwanda on April 7 so as to remember the lost lives & reaffirm its commitment to initiatives to prevent all future atrocities.
iii.In January 2018, the General assembly adopted the resolution to amend the name of the day.
iv.Every year, on or around that date, the UN organizes events at its Headquarters(New York) and at UN offices around the world but this year it has been postponed due to COVID-19.
v.Rwanda has two public holidays- April 7 for Kwibuka (remembrance) & July 4 for liberation.

Source: TH

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GS-III : Economic Issues
RBI relaxed the norms of State/UT to avail overdraft

RBI relaxed the norms of State/UT to avail overdraft

On April 7, 2020 The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has decided to increase the number of days that a State/UT can continue to overdraft to 21 working days from the current stipulation of 14 working days as they are facing cash flow mismatches due to coronavirus.
Key Points

i.In addition, the number of days that a State/UT can overdraft in a quarter has also been increased to 50 working days from the current stipulation of 36 working days, while all other stipulations remain unchanged.
ii.The new arrangement is effective  immediately and is valid until September 30, 2020.
iii.It has also increased the Ways and Means Advances (WMA) limit by 30% from the existing limit (Rs 1.20 lakh crore) for all States/UTs which was effective from April 1, 2020 & is valid till September 30, 2020.

Source: TH

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GS-III :
Money laundering

Money laundering

  • It is the concealing or disguising the identity of illegally obtained proceeds so that they appear to have originated from legitimate sources.

Round Tripping of Funds

  • Round tripping refers to money that leaves the country through various channels and makes its way back into the country often as foreign investment.
  • This mostly involves black money and is allegedly often used for stock price manipulation.

Prevention of Money-Laundering Act

  • Prevention of Money-Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002 deals with money laundering and has three main objectives :
    • To prevent and control money laundering.
    • To provide for confiscation and seizure of property obtained from laundered money.
    • To deal with any other issue connected with money-laundering in India.
  • Under the PMLA Act, the Enforcement Directorate is empowered to conduct a Money Laundering investigation.
  • PMLA (Amendment) Act, 2012
    • Adds the concept of ‘reporting entity’ which includes a banking company, financial institution, intermediary etc.
    • It prescribes obligation of banking companies, financial institutions and intermediaries for
      • Verification and maintenance of records of the identity of all its clients and also of all transactions.
      • Furnishing information of such transactions in prescribed form to the Financial Intelligence Unit-India (FIU-IND).
        • It empowers the Director of FIU-IND to impose fine on banking company, financial institution or intermediary if they or any of its officers fails to comply with the provisions of the Act as indicated above.
    • PMLA, 2002 levied a fine up to Rs 5 lakh, but the amendment act has removed this upper limit.
    • It has provided for provisional attachment and confiscation of property of any person involved in such activities.

 

Source: Web

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GS-III : Economic Issues
Financial Intelligence Unit-India

Financial Intelligence Unit-India

FIU-IND is a central, national agency responsible for receiving, processing, analyzing and disseminating information relating to suspect financial transactions to enforcement agencies and foreign FIUs.

It was set up in 2004.

It is an independent body reporting directly to the Economic Intelligence Council (EIC) headed by the Finance Minister.

Source: Web

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GS-I : Human Geography
Smart City Mission

Smart City Mission

  • It is an innovative initiative under the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Government of India to drive economic growth and improve the quality of life of people by enabling local development and harnessing technology as a means to create smart outcomes for citizens.
  • Objective: To promote cities that provide core infrastructure and give a decent quality of life to its citizens, a clean and sustainable environment and application of Smart Solutions.
  • Focus: On sustainable and inclusive development and to look at compact areas, create a replicable model which will act like a lighthouse to other aspiring cities.
  • Strategy:
     
    • Pan-city initiative in which at least one Smart Solution is applied city-wide.
    • Develop areas step-by-step with the help of these three models:
      • Retrofitting.
      • Redevelopment.
      • Greenfield.
  • Coverage and Duration: The Mission covers 100 cities for the duration of five years starting from the financial year (FY) 2015-16 to 2019-20.
  • Financing: It is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme.

Source: Web

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