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06 June Current Affairs

Cabinet committees

In News:

The Government reconstituted eight key cabinet committees under the Transaction of Business Rules.

Details:

The Cabinet Committee are organizations which are instrumental in reducing the workload of the Cabinet. These committees are extra-constitutional in nature and are nowhere mentioned in the Constitution.

Types and Composition of Cabinet Committees:

Standing Cabinet Committee: These are permanent in nature with a specific job. The Cabinet Ministers are called its ‘members’ while the people without the rank of Cabinet Committee are called ‘special invitees’.

Ad-hoc Cabinet Committee: These are temporary in nature and are formed time to time to deal with specific tasks.

Composition: The composition of a Cabinet Committee varies from 3 to 8 people. Even Ministers who are not the part of the Cabinet can be added to a Cabinet Committee. Usually, each cabinet committee has at least one Cabinet Minister. The members of the Cabinet Committee can be from both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.

Source: The Hindu

Economic Census

In News:

The 7th Economic Census -2019 is being conducted by MoSPI to provide disaggregated information on various operational and structural aspects of all establishments in the country.

Details:

Implementing agency: MoSPI has partnered with Common Service Centres, CSC e-Governance Services India Limited, a Special Purpose Vehicle under the MEITY as the implementing agency.

About Economic Censuses:

Launched in 1976 as a plan scheme.

Coverage: All entrepreneurial units in the country which are involved in any economic activities of either agricultural or non-agricultural sector which are engaged in production and/or distribution of goods and/or services not for the sole purpose of own consumption.

Objective: It provides detailed information on operational and other characteristics such as number of establishments, number of persons employed, source of finance, type of ownership etc.

Significance: This information used for micro level/ decentralized planning and to assess contribution of various sectors of the economy in the gross domestic product (GDP).

Total Six Economic Censuses (EC) have been conducted till date. First one was conducted in 1977 by CSO.

Source: The Hindu

2nd Global Disability Summit at Buenos Aires

In News:

2nd Global Disability Summit is being held at Buenos Aires, Argentina.

About the Summit:

The objectives of the summit is to deliberate on issues across the world concerning empowerment and inclusion of Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) and to work out a mechanism for enabling them to live an independent and dignified life.

The first-ever Global Disability Summit was held at London, United Kingdom (UK) in 2018. It was hosted by UK Department for International Development (UK DFID), along with the co-hosts International Disability Alliance (IDA) and Government of Kenya.

Mandate: The Global leaders attending the summit express their commitments towards eliminating stigma and discrimination against PwDs and to work towards promoting inclusive education, economic empowerment, technology and innovation in assistive devices, data desegregation etc. for them.

Mains Question: OUR UNDERSTANDING OF DISABILITY MUST EXPAND TO INCLUDE PEOPLE WITH INVISIBLE DISABILITIES. EXAMINE.

Gujarat launches India’s first trading programme to combat particulate air pollution

In News:

Gujarat has launched India’s first trading programme to combat particulate air pollution-the emission trading scheme (ETS)

– on World Environment Day 2019, which has air pollution as its theme.

Key features of the programme:

It is a market-based system where the government sets a cap on emissions and allows industries to buy and sell permits to stay below the cap.

Being initiated in Surat by the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB).

Gujarat programme is the first in the world to regulate particulate air pollution.

How it works?

Under the cap and trade system, the regulator first defines the total mass of pollution that can be put into the air over a defined period by all factories put together.

Then, a set of permits is created, each of which allows a certain amount of pollution, and the total is equal to the cap.

These permits are the quantity that is bought and sold. Each factory is allocated a share of these permits (this could be equal or based on size or some other rule).

After this, plants can trade permits with each other, just like any other commodity on the National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange Limited (NCDEX).

Significance and benefits:

The reason for trading is that in a cap and trade market, the regulator will measure pollution over a period of time and industries must own enough permits to cover their total emissions.

Factories who find it very expensive to reduce pollution, will seek to buy more permits. Those who can easily reduce pollution are encouraged to do so because then they have excess permits to sell.

Eventually, after buying and selling by plants that find it cheap to cut pollution and those for whom it is expensive, most pollution is taken care of. Whatever the final allocation, the total number of permits does not change so the total pollution is still equal to the predefined cap. And yet the costs to industry are decreased.

Current practice and issues associated:

Under existing regulations, every industry has to meet a certain maximum concentration of pollutants when it is operating. They are tested occasionally and manually (one or two times a year). However, there is widespread non-compliance across India. This is partly because penalties are rarely applied, in large part because they involve punishments such as closing down the entire plant which is not necessarily appropriate for small violations.

Source: Down to Earth

IRENA report ‘Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2018’

In News:

International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has released a report titled ‘Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2018’.

Details:

For the study, IRENA analysed eight major solar PV markets from 2010 to 2018. These countries include China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US.

Key findings:

India is now the lowest-cost producer of solar power globally. total installed costs of utility-scale solar PV in India is as low as $793 per kilowatt (kW) in 2018 which is 27 per cent lower than for projects commissioned in 2017. Costs have dropped by 80 per cent in India.

Canada has the highest cost at $2,427 per kW.

Renewable energy sources have witnessed cost decline globally.

Reasons behind the low cost:

India has high solar potential that leads to improved asset utilization.

The country imports majority of hardware for installation from China which is cheaper and helps cut the cost by a huge margin.

As the cost of land and labor is cheaper than the rest of the world, it also contributes to low-cost production of solar power in India.

About IRENA:

It is an intergovernmental organisation mandated to facilitate cooperation, advance knowledge, and promote the adoption and sustainable use of renewable energy.

It is the first international organisation to focus exclusively on renewable energy, addressing needs in both industrialized and developing countries.

It was founded in 2009 & its statute entered into force on 8 July 2010 and is headquartered in Masdar City, Abu Dhabi.

IRENA is an official United Nations observer.

Source: Down to Earth

Fiscal Performance Index (FPI) launched by CII

In News:

Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has launched a Fiscal Performance Index (FPI) to assess state and central budgets.

Components of CII:

The Index incorporates qualitative assessments of revenue expenditure, capital expenditure, revenues, fiscal prudence and the level of public debt.

Key findings:

The CII has used this index to analyse state and central budgets from 2004-05 to 2016-17.

The study found that despite improvement a reduction in the fiscal deficit between FY13 and FY18, the overall performance of the budget has been remained steady with improvements only in FY16 and FY17.

This is largely due to moderation in the revenue, capital expenditure and and net tax revenues indices.

The analysis also shows that the combine performance of all state budgets has improved despite worsening of fiscal deficit numbers because of improvements in revenue and capital expenditure indices.

The study also points out that relatively high income states including Gujarat, Haryana and Maharashtra which are presumed to have good fiscal health because of low fiscal deficit to GDP ratio do not perform well on the composite FPI because of poor expenditure and revenue quality compared to other states.

Other states including, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have done well on the FPI because of their good performance in revenue and capital expenditure indices.

Need for FPI:

A single criterion such as the ‘fiscal deficit to GDP ratio’ does not tell us anything about the quality of the Budget. Hence, the Government should use multiple indicators to measure the quality of Budgets at the Central and the State levels rather than a single indicator.

Way ahead- recommendations from CII:

the government should attempt to broaden the tax base, increase investments in education and healthcare as well as maintenance of assets and well as increase investments in infrastructure, affordable housing and encourage public sector undertakings to also increase capital expenditure by limiting dividends to the government.

Source: The Hindu

Rule 49MA

In News:

The Election Commission may “revisit” the rule for prosecution of a voter for making a false complaint of malfunction of an electronic voting machine or a voter verifiable paper audit trail machine- Rule 49MA.

Background:

The Supreme Court, in April 2029, sought a response from the Election Commission on a plea seeking abolition of a provision in election rules that provides for prosecution of an elector if a complaint alleging malfunctioning of EVMs and VVPATs turns out to be false.

What is rule 49MA?

Rule 49MA is mentioned under ‘The Conduct of Elections Rules’ .

Under the rule, where printer for paper trail is used, if an elector after having recorded his vote under rule 49M alleges that the paper slip generated by the printer has shown the name or symbol of a candidate other than the one he voted for, the presiding officer shall obtain a written declaration from the elector as to the allegation, after warning the elector about the consequence of making a false declaration.

The rules outline that if after investigation, the allegation of EVM malfunctioning is found to be false or incorrect, then the complainant can be prosecuted under Section 177 of the Indian Penal Code for “furnishing false information”.

In such a case, a jail term of six months or a fine of Rs 1,000 or both is guaranteed.

Arguments against Rule 49MA:

It is unconstitutional as it criminalises reporting of malfunctioning of Electronic Voting Machines and Voter Verified Paper Audit Trails.

The obligation of proving an allegation cannot be on the voter when machines used for voting showed ‘arbitrary deviant behaviour’.

Putting the responsibility on the elector in cases of arbitrary deviant behaviour of machines used in the election process, infringes upon a citizen’s right to freedom of expression under the Constitution.

When an elector is asked to cast test vote as prescribed under Rule 49MA, he may not be able to reproduce the same result which he was complaining about, one more time in a sequence, because of the pre-programmed deviant behaviour of the electronic machines.

Therefore,  holding an elector accountable for deviant behaviours of EVMs and VVPATs could deter them from coming forth and making any complaint, which is essential for improving the process.

Since only an elector could be a witness to the secrecy of his vote cast, it would violate Article 20(3) of the Constitution which says that no person accused of an offence shall be compelled to be a witness against himself.

Source: The Hindu

BrahMos

The Anti-ship version of supersonic cruise missile BrahMos was test fired from the launch complex-3 of Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur in Odisha.

The name BrahMos is formed from names of two riverse. Indian river Brahmaputraand the Moskva River of Russia.

Manufactured at BrahMos Aerospace Limited which is a joint venture between India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Russia’s NPO Mashinostroyenia (NPOM).

The medium-range ramjet supersonic cruise missile has a strike range of about 290 km.

The BrahMos is the fastest cruise missile of its class in the world.

Kharga Prahar

It is a major training exercise conducted by the Indian Army.

The latest edition was undertaken in plains of Punjab by various units and formations of Army’s Kharga Corps.

II Corps is a corps of the Indian Army, based in Ambala and known as Kharga Corps.

Confetti

it’s a first interactive game show Launched by Facebook in India.

It will air from Wednesday to Sunday on Facebook Watch, Facebook’s dedicated video platform.

The participants stand a chance to win Rs.3 lakh as cash prize everyday on challenge of answering pop culture trivia questions.

It seeks to enable its users to engage better and bring communities together around exceptional, interactive video experiences on Facebook.

The interactive game was first launched in the United States (US) and is already available in other parts of the world the UK, Mexico, Canada, Vietnam, Philippines and Thailand.

Facebook Watch: It is Facebook’s video-on-demand service. It was globally rolled out by the social networking giant in 2018, in an attempt to take on its rival YouTube. It allows users to enjoy videos from different genres in their personalised Watch Feed (carries recent videos collection from pages followed).

Indian Navy Environment Conservation Roadmap (INECR)

The Navy is pressing ahead with its eco-friendly programme, the Indian Navy Environment Conservation Roadmap (INECR).

INECR that comprises specific action plans covering the gamut of operations, maintenance, administration, infrastructure and community living.

The road map envisions ‘reduction in energy consumption’ and ‘diversification of energy supply’ as the key result areas.

Under the INECR, numerous policies aimed at reduction of energy consumption and environment sustenance have been formulated and disseminated to all ships, as well as shore establishments.

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