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09 March Current Affairs

National Mission on Transformative Mobility and Battery Storage

In News:

The Union Cabinet has approved setting up of a National Mission on Transformative Mobility and Battery Storage.

About National Mission on Transformative Mobility and Storage:

The Mission will have an Inter-Ministerial Steering Committee chaired by Chief Executive Officer (CEO), NITI Aayog to promote clean, connected, shared, sustainable and holistic mobility initiatives.

The Mission will also launch the Phased Manufacturing Programmes (PMP) for Batteries and for Electric Vehicle components.

The mission will finalise and implement strategies for transformative mobility and Phased Manufacturing Programmes (PMP) for electric vehicles, their components and batteries.

The Mission will have a ‘Make in India’ strategy for EV components as well as battery technologies.

Significance:

The mission will drive mobility solutions that will bring in significant benefits to the industry, economy and country. These solutions will help improve air quality in cities along with reducing India’s oil import dependence and enhance the uptake of renewable energy and storage solutions.

The mission will also lay down the strategy and roadmap which will enable India to leverage upon its size and scale to develop a competitive domestic manufacturing ecosystem for electric mobility.

The actions in this regard will benefit all citizens as the aim is to promote ‘Ease of Living’ and enhance the quality of life of our citizens and also provide employment opportunities through ‘Make-in-India’ across a range of skill sets.

India Cooling Action Plan (ICAP)

In News:

India Cooling Action Plan Launched.

Significance:

India is the first country in world to develop such a document (ICAP), which addresses cooling requirement across sectors and lists out actions which can help reduce the cooling demand.

The overarching goal is to provide sustainable cooling and thermal comfort for all while securing environmental and socio-economic benefits for the society.

The goals emerging from the suggested interventions stated in ICAP are:

  • Reduction of cooling demand across sectors by 20% to 25 % by year 2037-38.
  • Reduction of refrigerant demand by 25% to 30% by year 2037-38.
  • Reduction of cooling energy requirements by 25% to 40% by year 2037-38.
  • Training and certification of 100,000 servicing sector technicians by the year 2022-23, in synergy with Skill India Mission.
  • Recognize “cooling and related areas” as a thrust area of research under the national S&T Programme.

The broad objectives of the India Cooling Action Plan include:

Assessment of cooling requirements across sectors in next 20 years and the associated refrigerant demand and energy use.

Map the technologies available to cater the cooling requirement including passive interventions, refrigerant-based technologies and alternative technologies such as not-in-kind technologies.

Suggest interventions in each sector to provide for sustainable cooling and thermal comfort for all.

Focus on skilling of RAC service technicians.

Develop an R&D innovation ecosystem for indigenous development of alternative technologies.

The following benefits would accrue to society over and above the environmental benefits:

  • Thermal comfort for all – provision for cooling for EWS and LIG housing.
  • Sustainable cooling – low GHG emissions related to cooling.
  • Doubling Farmers Income – better cold chain infrastructure – better value of products to farmers, less wastage of produce.
  • Skilled workforce for better livelihoods and environmental protection.
  • Make in India – domestic manufacturing of air-conditioning and related cooling equipment’s.
  • Robust R&D on alternative cooling technologies – to provide the push to innovation in a cooling sector.

Monster Salary Index Report

In News:

Monster Salary Index survey has been released. The survey is titled ‘Women of India Inc’.

Details:

It was prepared by Monster India in collaboration with Paycheck.in with IIM-Ahmedabad as a research partner.

Important findings:

Women in India earn 19% less than their male counterparts and 60% working women in India feel that discrimination at work.

The median gross hourly salary for men was Rs 242.49—earned Rs 46.19—more in comparison to women who earned Rs 196.3 in 2018.

Sector-wise, IT/ITES services show 26 per cent pay gap in favour of men, followed by manufacturing sector, where men earned 24 per cent more than women.

In healthcare, caring services, and social work men earn 21% more than women, while Banking and Insurance is the only industry where men earn just 2% more.

Around 47% of women felt that the most notable form of discrimination is perception that women are less serious about work once they are married.

About 46% women feel that maternity leads to a perception that they will quit and the same percentage of women also believe that there is a notion that women can’t put the same number of hours as men.

Way ahead:

The narrowing of the gender pay gap by just one percent is not just a cause for concern, but a reminder to genuinely introspect if we are doing enough. It becomes pivotal to galvanize forces across corporates and industries to work towards gender pay parity.

Source: The Hindu

Guidelines For White Label ATMs

In News:

The Reserve Bank Of India (RBI) has come up with a review of operations of White Label ATMs (WLAs) in the country.

As per the new guidelines, it has been decided to allow:

The WLA Operators to buy wholesale cash, above a threshold of 1 lakh pieces (and in multiples thereof) of any denomination, directly from the Reserve Bank (Issue Offices) and Currency Chests against full payment.

The operators to source cash from any scheduled bank, including Cooperative Banks and Regional Rural Banks.

The operators to offer bill payment and Interoperable Cash Deposit services, subject to technical feasibility and certification by National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).

The display advertisements pertaining to non-financial products / services anywhere within the WLA premises, including the WLA screen, except the main signboard. However, it shall be ensured that the advertisements running on the screen disappear once the customer commences a transaction.

Banks to issue co-branded ATM cards in partnership with the authorised WLA Operators and may extend the benefit of ‘on-us’ transactions to their WLAs as well.

All guidelines, safeguards, standards and control measures applicable to banks relating to currency handling, and cyber-security framework for ATMs, shall also be applicable to the WLA Operators.

What is White label-ATM?

Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) set up, owned and operated by non-bank entities are called “White Label ATMs” (WLAs). They provide the banking services to the customers of banks in India, based on the cards (debit/credit/prepaid) issued by banks.

What was the need to allow non-bank entities for setting up of WLAs?

Keeping the fact in view that banks won’t be able to provide their ATM facilities in each and every place, non-bank entities were allowed by the RBI to set up White Label ATMs. This was done to increase the geographical spread of ATMs and enhance the customer service.

Key facts related:

Non-bank entities shall commence setting up and operating WLAs only after it has been authorised to do so by the RBI under the Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007.

Taking over of ATMs operated by banks would not be permitted. Entities may ensure to draw a strategic plan for installation of such WLAs based on the criteria set during authorization. White Label ATM Operators (WLAO) may also indicate the value added services it proposes to offer at the WLA while seeking authorisation.

WLAO is permitted to have more than one Sponsor Bank. All the transactions of WLAs serviced by this Sponsor Bank would be settled through it.

Cash Management at the WLAs will be the responsibility of the Sponsor Bank, who may if required, make necessary arrangements with other banks for servicing cash requirements at various places.

WLAO may establish connectivity with any of the authorised ATM Network Operators/ Card Payment Network Operators and ensure that the settlement of all the transactions at the WLAs shall be done only in the books of the Sponsor Bank through the ATM Network Operators/ Card Payment Network Operators with whom the WLAO has established connectivity.

Maintenance and servicing of the WLAs shall be the sole responsibility of the WLAO.

In addition to cash dispensing, ATMs / WLAs may offer many other services / facilities to customers. Some of these services include:

  • Account Information.
  • Cash Deposit (not permitted at WLAs).
  • Regular Bills Payment (not permitted at WLAs).
  • Purchase of Re-load Vouchers for Mobiles (not permitted at WLAs).
  • Mini / Short Statement Generation.
  • PIN change.
  • Request for Cheque Book.

Source: The Hindu

India’s Official Secrets Act, its history and use

In News:

Attorney-General’s request for “criminal action” against those responsible for making “stolen documents” on the Rafale deal public, has brought the Official Secrets Act into focus.

About Official Secrets Act:

The law meant for ensuring secrecy and confidentiality in governance, mostly on national security and espionage issues.

The Indian Official Secrets Act, 1904 was enacted during the time of Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India from 1899 to 1905.

One of the main purposes of the Act was to muzzle the voice of nationalist publications.

The Indian Official Secrets Act (Act No XIX of 1923) replaced the earlier Act, and was extended to all matters of secrecy and confidentiality in governance in the country.

Ambit of the Act:

The secrecy law broadly deals with two aspects — spying or espionage, which is dealt with in Section 3 of the Act, and disclosure of other secret information of the government, which is dealt with in Section 5. The secret information can be any official code, password, sketch, plan, model, article, note, document or information.

Need for review:

Since the classification of secret information is so broad, it is argued that the colonial law is in direct conflict with the Right to Information Act.

Under Section 5, both the person communicating the information, and the person receiving the information, can be punished by the prosecuting agency.

The SARC report states that as the OSA’s background is the colonial climate of mistrust of people and the primacy of public officials in dealing with the citizens, it created a culture of secrecy.

Another contentious issue with the law is that its Section 5, which deals with potential breaches of national security, is often misinterpreted. The Section makes it a punishable offence to share information that may help an enemy state. The Section comes in handy to book journalists when they publicise information that may cause embarrassment to the government or the armed forces.

Source: Indian Express

Idukki’s Marayoor Jaggery gets GI tag

In News:

The Marayoor Jaggery, the traditional and handmade product from Idukki district of Kerala, has received the Geographical Indication (GI) tag from the Central Government.

Details:

The Jaggery is produced in Marayoor, a town in Idukki district of Kerala. It is made from sugarcane and no chemicals are added during the manufacturing process.

It is not produced in modern factories or using modern equipment. It is prepared in sheds located on the sugarcane farm.

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