January 1,2019

GS Article – 2 : Important committees
December 27, 2018
January 2,2019
January 2, 2019

Current Affairs for Engineering Service Exam 2020

 Topics list:

  1. National and International Issues on
    1. Economic Development
    2. Social Development
    3. Industrial Development
  2. Energy and Environment
    1. Energy
    2. Environment
  3. Information and Communication Technology
    1. Technology
    2. Application
  1. General Knowledge

Topic 1:Economic development

FDI in e-commerce

The Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion recently issued a clarification to the existing rules pertaining to Foreign Direct Investment in e-commerce companies.

Key Facts:

  • Vendors that have any stake owned by an e-commerce company cannot sell their products on that e-commerce company’s portal.
  • Any vendor who purchases 25% or more of its inventory from an e-commerce group company will be considered to be controlled by that e-commerce company, and thereby barred from selling on its portal.
  • The provision seeks to deny control by the marketplace entity over vendors.
  • E-commerce firm will not be allowed to influence the price of a product sold on its portal by giving incentives to particular vendors.

Who will be affected?

  • The main players to be affected will be group companies and affiliates of the biggest e-commerce platforms, Amazon and Flipkart.
  • The provision that bars companies — in which e-commerce firms have a stake — from selling on their portals will hurt startups as well,
  • Customers who could not moe avial extra discounts and the advance delivery of products
  • Small vendors will not be as affected because most of them do not purchase more than 25% of their inventory from a single source and so they will be allowed to sell their items on the e-commerce platforms.

Read more at: The Hindu

Topic 1:Social development

Scheme for Promoton of Academic and Research Collaboration (SPARC)

The Ministry of Human Resource Development has introduced the Scheme for Promotion of Academic and Research Collaboration (SPARC).

The Scheme:

  • It facilitates academic and research collaborations between Indian Institutions and top leading Universities of the world.
  • The scheme aims to support around 600 joint research proposals and will have a major impact in providing the best international expertise to address major national problems.
  • Expose Indian academicians to the best collaborators abroad, provide Indian students an opportunity to work in the world class laboratories, develop strong bilateral relationships in research, and improve the international ranking of Indian Institutions.

Read more at: PIB

Topic 1:Industrial development

Promotion of GI products

Geographical Indications (GIs) are registered as per the provisions of the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration & Protection) Act, 1999. As on 24.12.2018, 330 GIs have been registered.

The promotion:

  • Participation in trade fairs and other events to promote and create awareness on GIs and increase the sales of GI products.
  • Promotion of GIs through social media, involving State governments and Union Territory administration and other relevant organizations for facilitation of GI producers.

Importance of GI tag:

  1. When a product is given GI status, its price increases in international market (because consumers in first world prefer such “exotic” items)
  2. It boosts exports.
  3. It can boost tourism.
  4. The poor farmers/artisans from the given region have to face less competition from fake guys selling bogus products.
  5. IT indirectly leads to sustainable Development

GI Tag V/S Trademark

GI

Trademark

Product comes from a particular place/region. Product comes from a particular enterprise/company.
Right is enjoyed by a community / association of producers.=community right. Right enjoyed by only one person/company=individual right.
Given for “Goods” (physical stuff.) Can be goods (mobile, PC etc) or service (e.g.music, spa etc.).

Read more at: PIB

Export Promotion Council

Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) has recently established an Export Promotion Cell.

The council:

  • The council will comprise of senior officials and members from M/o MSME, Commerce, MSME Export Promotion Councils, Export Development Authorities, Commodity Boards, and other bodies.
  • It aims to create a sustainable ecosystem for entire MSME development.
  • Evaluate readiness of MSMEs to export their products and services
  • Recognize areas where improvements are required in order to be able to export effectively and efficiently
  • Integration of MSME into global value chain.

An action plan:

  • Target of USD 100 billion of exports from India by 2020
  • Evaluate readiness of MSMEs to export their products and services
  • Recognize areas where improvements are required in order to be able to export effectively and efficiently.
  • Integration of MSMEs into Global Value Chain.

Read more at: PIB

Topic 2 : Environment

Coastal Regulation Zone Notification 2018

The Union Cabinet  has approved the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification, 2018 which seeks to replace the existing CRZ Notification of 2011.

Salient Features:

  • Floor Space Index (FSI)-to de-freeze the same and permit FSI for construction projects, as prevailing on the date of the new Notification.
  • No Development Zone Reduced for densely populated areas.
  1. CRZ-III A – These are densely populated rural areas with a population density of 2161 per square kilometre as per 2011 Census. Such areas shall have a No Development Zone (NDZ) of 50 meters from the HTL as against 200 meters from the High Tide Line stipulated in the CRZ Notification, 2011. The reduction is made on the ground that densely populated areas have similar characteristics as urban areas.
  2. CRZ-III B – Rural areas with population density of below 2161 per square kilometre as per 2011 Census. Such areas shall continue to have an NDZ of 200 meters from the HTL.
  • Temporary tourism facilities such as shacks, toilet blocks, change rooms, drinking water facilities etc. have now been permitted in Beaches.
  • The procedure for CRZ clearances has been streamlined.
  1. Only such projects/activities, which are located in the CRZ-I (Ecologically Sensitive Areas) and CRZ IV (area covered between Low Tide Line and 12 Nautical Miles seaward) shall be dealt with for CRZ clearance by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
  2. The powers for clearances with respect to CRZ-II and III have been delegated at the State level with necessary guidance.
  • No Development Zone (NDZ) of 20 meters has been stipulated for all Islands
  • Pollution abatement-to address pollution in Coastal areas treatment facilities have been made permissible activities in CRZ-I B area subject to necessary safeguards.

About Floor Space Index:

  • FSI means the ratio between the area of a covered floor (Built up Area) to the area of that plot (land) on which a building stands. This numeric value indicates the total amount of area (on all floors) you can build upon a plot.

Read more at: The Hindu

Topic 2 : Energy

Power Sector Linkage Policy – SHAKTI

The Scheme for Harnessing and Allocating Koyala (Coal) Transparently in India (SHAKTI), 2017 was issued by Ministry of Coal on 22.05.2017.

The Policy:

  • Objective: To auction long-term coal linkages to power companies.
  • This policy will award fuel supply agreements to coal plants already holding letters of assurance (LoAs). It is issued to new consumers on being approved by the appropriate authority, based on recommendation of a committee constituted Specific terms & conditions of the LOA to be complied with within a stipulated time period for being eligible to enter into FSA for commencing coal supply.
  • Thermal plants holding LoAs will be eligible to sign fuel supply pacts under the new policy after ensuring that all the conditions are met.
  • Coal linkages would be awarded to state-owned power distribution companies (discoms). These, in turn, would assign linkages to 

a)  State or central power generation companies via allocation, and 

b) Private units through auction.

  • The independent power producers (IPPs) participating in the auction will bid for discounts on the existing tariff and this would be adjusted from the gross coal bills.
  • Power plants will have to give discount on their tariffs to get linkages. This could lead to under-recovery by the units, but it is still better than no fuel supply.

Benefits of the policy:

  • It will ensure adequate supply of fuel to power plants, which are awaiting fuel supply.
  • It will help power producers ensure fuel supplies in a coordinated manner.
  • It is expected to reduce power costs to consumers.
  • It will cut down on the use of imported coal.
  • Fuel supply pact will help banks exposed to the power sector to cut down on NPAs.

Read more at: PIB

Promoting Use of Compressed Bio Gas as Alternative Green Transport Fuel

Government is promoting the use of Compressed Bio Gas (CBG) as an alternative green transport fuel, which is purified and compressed biogas, produced through a process of anaerobic decomposition from various waste/ biomass sources including Municipal solid waste.

Key Facts:

  • Sustainable Alternative Towards Affordable Transportation i.e. ‘SATAT’ initiative, Public Sector Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) and GAIL have invited Expression of interest (EOI) to procure CBG from potential entrepreneurs for establishment of 5000 CBG plants across the country.
  • The Government has taken many steps including re-introduction of administered price mechanism, opening  of alternate route for ethanol production, Regular Interaction with States, IDR Act Amendment, Interest Subvention scheme namely – “Scheme for augmenting and enhancing ethanol production capacity”.
  • The  first 2G ethanol bio-refinery to be set up by Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited in Bathinda, Punjab
  • The Government has notified National Policy on Biofuels-2018 under which Department of Agriculture, Cooperation & Farmers Welfare under Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare has been entrusted with the task of production of plant materials through Nurseries and plantations for biofuels in coordination with other Ministries.

Advantages:

  • It causes lesser corrosion and wear to the body of engine
  • It is environmentally benign due to lower emissions of carbon and particulate matter per equivalent distance travelled; and being lighter than air
  • It is safer in case there is a spill.

Read more at: PIB

Topic 3 : ICT

SWAYAM Platform

SWAYAM is a programme initiated by Government of India and designed to achieve the three cardinal principles of Education Policy viz., access, equity and quality.

The Programme:

  • The objective of this effort is to take the best teaching learning resources to all, including the most disadvantaged.
  • SWAYAM seeks to bridge the digital divide for students who have hitherto remained untouched by the digital revolution and have not been able to join the mainstream of the knowledge economy.
  • This is done through an indigenous developed IT platform that facilitates hosting of all the courses, taught in classrooms from 9th class till post-graduation to be accessed by anyone, anywhere at any time.
  • All the courses are interactive, prepared by the best teachers in the country and are available, free of cost to the residents in India.
  • The courses hosted on SWAYAM are in 4 quadrants – (1) video lecture, (2) specially prepared reading material that can be downloaded/printed (3) self-assessment tests through tests and quizzes and (4) an online discussion forum for clearing the doubts.
  • SWAYAM platform is indigenously developed by Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) and All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) with the help of Microsoft and
  • It would be ultimately capable of hosting 2000 courses and 80000 hours of learning: covering school, under-graduate, post-graduate, engineering, law and other professional courses.
  • More than 1600 plus courses available on SWAYAM Platform.

Read more at: PIB

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