- National and International Issues on
- Economic Development
- Social Development
- Industrial Development
- Energy and Environment
- Information and Communication Technology
Topic 1:Economic development
India is 11th biggest holder of US T-bills
Indian holdings of US Treasuries touched a record high of $148.6 billion in January.
- New Delhi racing past Saudi Arabia as a buyer of the planet’s safest financial asset in the first month of the year.
- There has been an increase in forex currency assets, which has prompted such actionInvestments in UST can be due to safe haven preference compared to other central banks.
- The Reserve Bank will continue to allocate more of the foreign currency assets to UST as the US economy also appears to be becoming stronger.
- Rising UST yields lower its attractiveness, which might see the central bank slow its purchases in the year ahead
Read more at: ET
Privatisation of PSBs
Former NITI Aayog vice chairman Arvind Panagariya has made a strong case for privatisation of public sector banks with the exception of SBI.
- Mainly, predominance of scandals and NPAs in PSBs highlight the need for privatisation of PSBs.
- Efficiency and productivity too demand that the government relinquish its control of the large number of banks whose market valuation has dwindled despite the fact that they hold the bulk of the deposits.
- There is a continuous pressure on the government finances on account of the weak performance of the banks.
- Privatisation would reduce the drain on the exchequer and the money saved could be used for developmental schemes and programmes of the government.
Read more at: The Hindu
Topic 1:Social development
Payment of Gratuity (Amendment) Bill, 2017
Parliament has passed the Payment of Gratuity (Amendment) Bill, 2017.
- The 2017 Bill empowers the central government to (i) notify the period of maternity leave eligible for qualifying as continuous service; and (ii) determine the amount of gratuity available to employees.
- The Bill removes the reference to 12 weeks in the 1972 Act and empowers the central government to notify the maximum maternity leave.
- Under the Act, the maximum amount of gratuity payable to an employee cannot exceed Rs 10 lakh. The Bill removes the existing ceiling and states that the ceiling may be notified by the central government.
Read more at: PIB
Topic 1:Industrial development
South India’s largest milk dairy at the foothills of Nandi Hills
The largest milk dairy in south India is slated to commence production on a 14-acre plot at Nandi Cross.
- Kolar-Chickballapur Cooperative Milk Union Ltd. (Kochimul) will be inaugurated by Chief Minister and is expected to give a fillip to milk production and processing in the drought-prone districts of Kolar and Chickballapur.
- The dairy can process five lakh litres of milk per day — or, about half the daily procurement from Kochimul — using machinery from Japan, Sweden and Australia.Apart from this, the dairy will be producing 10 tonnes each of butter and paneer, and four tonnes of ghee daily. Officials said more than 50 sweets, that use Nandini milk, can also be produced.
- As value addition can yield better profit, the factory can lead to better prices for farmers
Read more at: The Hindu
Topic 2 : Energy
China draws up plans to promote standardisation in electric vehicles
China said it will work to improve levels of standardisation in its electric vehicle industry – a sector it is aggressively promoting to help combat smog and to position the country as a leading car-making giant in the future
- The standardisation efforts will focus on recharging, battery design and fuel consumption
- China will also work to promote its own standards and benchmarks for electric and plug-in electric vehicles overseas, taking advantage of economies of scale to become a global leader in standardisation
- Some local governments have even set different requirements to restrict firms from other regions from accessing their markets.
Read more at:ET
Topic 3 : ICT
Universal Robots focuses on SMEs
Universal Robots, the world’s largest manufacturer and supplier of collaborative robot, or cobot, arms, is focusing on small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to grow its business in India
- There is huge demand from the SME sector
- Big companies are installing cobots but what is exciting over the last two years is that small companies are also [able to] afford cobots which are paying back in one or two years.
Read more at:The Hindu
India, US to reopen talks on Comcasa
India has agreed to reopen talks with the US on a pact that will allow high-end secured communication equipment to be installed on platforms being sold to India, signalling a willingness to revisit previously-held security apprehensions.
- US technical team will be visiting India next month to brief New Delhi on this pact, which is called the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (Comcasa). It was earlier referred to as the Cismoa (Communication & Information on Security Memorandum of Agreement
- The decision to resume conversations was taken after the joint visit of the defence secretary and foreign secretary to the US earlier this month to set up the 2+2 dialogue between the foreign and defence ministers of both countries.
- LSA gave both militaries access to each other’s bases, Comcasa would allow them to be the same communication network.
- Logistics Security Agreement (LSA) which eventually got signed with some modifications and a new name — Lemoa (Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement).
- India has had to depend on commercially available less secure systems on, otherwise, high-end platforms like C-130Js and the P8I maritime surveillance aircraft, among others
Read more at: ET
India ranks 67th in fixed line, 109th in mobile broadband speed
India ranked 67th for fixed broadband and 109th for mobile internet speeds in February, according to internet speed testing analysis firm Ookla.
- India is ranked 67th for fixed broadband
- 109th for mobile internet speeds in February.
- global average mobile broadband download speed was 22.16 mbps in February.
- The country captured the second slot in terms of showing most improvement in mobile data speeds
- India’s neighbour China was ranked 26th with average mobile broadband download speed of 33.96 mbps, Sri Lanka 82nd, Pakistan 92nd, Bangladesh 115th and Nepal 118th.
- Norway at pole position in the world for mobile internet with an average download speed of 62.07 Mbps.
- Singapore takes the top spot for fixed broadband with a 161.53 Mbps average download.
Read more at:ET