LADIS – Least Available Depth Information System
Moving a step ahead towards ensuring optimum use of National Waterways, the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) has launched a new portal LADIS – Least Available Depth Information System.
LADIS and its significance:
Initially LAD information will be available for NW-1, NW-2, Indo-Bangladesh Protocol route and NW-3, along with the date of survey. The facility will be expanded to other NWs also.
LADIS will ensure that real-time data on least available depths is disseminated for ship/barge and cargo owners so that they can undertake transportation on NWs in a more planned way.
Details of LAD will be fed into the portal by respective surveyors and regional incharge deputed with IWAI survey vessels which constantly move on NWs.
IWAI has designed LADIS to facilitate the day to day operations of inland vessels plying on National Waterways and to avoid any hindrance in service and operation.
An assured depth of waterway is required for seamless movement of vessels. If real time information is made available regarding LADs in stretches of various NWs, it will help transporters by guiding them on the suitability of time of movement.
It will enhance credibility and efficiency of information sharing to achieve seamless operations on National Waterways, besides pre-empting problems that may occur during movement of vessels.
Pahari Dam Modernization Project
Pahari Dam modernization project was recently inaugurated by the PM.
About the project:
Pahari Dam is a water storage dam situated on Dhasan River in Jhansi district.
The Dhasan River is a right bank tributary of the Betwa River. The river originates in Madhya Pradesh.
The project will benefit farmers by reducing the water leakage from the dam and make more water available for the farmers.
President Ram Nath Kovind would be presenting the Tagore Award for Cultural Harmony to Rajkumar Singhajit Singh, Bangladesh cultural organisation Chhayanaut and Ram Sutar Vanji for the years 2014, 2015 and 2016 respectively.
About the Tagore award:
The annual award was instituted by the Government of India during the commemoration of 150th Birth Anniversary of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore.
The first Tagore Award was conferred on Pt. Ravi Shankar, the Indian Sitar Maestro in 2012 and second was conferred on Shri Zubin Mehta in 2013.
The award carries an amount of Rs. 1 crore, a citation in a scroll, a plaque as well as an exquisite traditional handicraft/ handloom item.
The award is open to all persons regardless of nationality, race, language, caste, creed or sex.
Awardees are selected by a jury headed by the Prime Minister of India.
Vande Bharat Express
Vande Bharat Express was recently flagged off by PM.
Vande Bharat Express:
It is India’s first indigenously built engineless semi-high speed train. Earlier, it was known by the name Train 18.
It runs between Delhi and Varanasi at a maximum speed of 160 kmph.
It has been built by the Integral Coach Factory, Chennai, in a record time of 20 months.
The train is a 100% ‘Make in India’ project and is claimed to be built at half the cost of a similar train set that is imported.
It is energy-efficient as its coaches will be fitted with LED lights. Coaches will have automatic doors and retractable footsteps.
It will be inter-connected with fully sealed gangways along with a GPS-based Passenger Information System. It is provided with Bio toilets.
Government liberalizes the e-Visa regime
The e-tourist visa, introduced in September 2014 with 46 countries, has now been made applicable for 166 countries. Recently, government made series of amendments in the e-visa regime, liberalising it further and making it more tourist friendly.
Important modifications made are highlighted as under:
Duration of stay in India of e-Tourist and e-Business Visas is maximum upto 1 Year with multiple entry subject to the stay stipulations.
Also, the existing restriction of allowing foreigner for a maximum of three times has also been removed.
Changes in e-Tourist Visa:
On e-Tourist Visa continuous stay during each visit shall not exceed 90 days in case of nationals of all countries who are eligible for grant of e-visa except nationals of USA, UK, Canada and Japan.
In case of nationals of USA, UK, Canada and Japan continuous stay during each visit shall not exceed 180 days.
In all cases no registration will be required.
Changes in e-Business Visa:
Continuous stay during each visit shall not exceed 180 days in case of nationals of all countries who are eligible for grant of e-visa.
No registration will be required if the stay is for a period of less than 180 days.
e-Visa is valid for entry through 2 (two) more designated Airports (Bhubaneswar and Port Blair) raising the total number of such airports to 28.
Attending Destination wedding under normal e-Tourist visa or Tourist visa- No separate category of Destination Wedding Visa
Foreign nationals who fall sick during their stay in India can now avail medical treatment without converting their visa into Medical Visa. This would take care of sudden medical emergencies.
Visa-on-Arrival facility extended to the nationals of the Republic of Korea.
Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial (Amendment) Bill, 2018
The Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial (Amendment) Bill, 2018 was recently passed in Lok Sabha.
The bill aims to address various deficiencies in the management of the National Memorial and to ensure that the Trust is an apolitical entity.
Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial Act, 1951 provided for the erection of a National Memorial in memory of those killed or wounded on April 13, 1919, in Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar.
The 1951 Act also provided for a Trust to manage the National Memorial. The Trust as per the 1951 Act included the Prime Minister, as Chairperson, (ii) the President of the Indian National Congress, (iii) the Minister in-charge of Culture, (iv) the Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, (v) the Governor of Punjab, (vi) the Chief Minister of Punjab, and (vii) three eminent persons nominated by the central government.
The 2018 amendment bill removes the President of the Indian National Congress as a Trustee.
It clarifies that when there is no Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, the leader of the single largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha will be the Trustee.
The 1951 act provided that the three eminent persons nominated by the central government will have a term of five years and will be eligible for re-nomination. The 2018 bill added a clause to allow the central government to terminate the term of a nominated trustee before the expiry of his term without assigning any reason.
India has revoked the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status of Pakistan (bestowed in 1996) and warned of more measures in response to its support for terrorist groups targeting India.
Most Favoured Nation is a treatment accorded to a trade partner to ensure non-discriminatory trade between two countries vis-a-vis other trade partners.
The importance of MFN is shown in the fact that it is the first clause in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). Under WTO rules, a member country cannot discriminate between its trade partners. If a special status is granted to a trade partner, it must be extended to all members of the WTO.
MFN at the same time allows some exemptions as well:
Right to engage in Free Trade Agreements: This means members can participate in regional trade agreements or free trade agreements where there is discrimination between member countries and non-member countries.
Members can give developing countries special and differential treatment like greater market access. This special concession are in different forms like reduced tariff rates from developing country imports, concessions that allows developing countries to give subsidies to their production sectors etc.
All these exceptions are subjected to strict conditions.
What are the pros of MFN?
MFN status is extremely gainful to developing countries. The clear upsides are access to a wider market for trade goods, reduced cost of export items owing to highly reduced tariffs and trade barriers. These essentially lead to more competitive trade.
MFN also cuts down bureaucratic hurdles and various kinds of tariffs are set at par for all imports. It then increases demands for the goods and giving a boost to the economy and export sector.
It also heals the negative impact caused to the economy due to trade protectionism. This irks the domestic industry.
A country that grants MFN on imports will have its imports provided by the most efficient supplier. This may not be the case if tariffs differ by country.
Granting MFN has domestic benefits: having one set of tariffs for all countries simplifies the rules and makes them more transparent. It also lessens the frustrating problem of having to establish rules of origin to determine which country’s part of the product (that may contain parts from all over the world) must be attributed to for customs purpose.
As MFN clause promotes non-discrimination among countries, they also tend to promote the objective of free trade in general.
What are the disadvantages of MFN?
The main disadvantage is that the country has to give the same treatment to all other trade partners who are members of the WTO. This translates into a price war and vulnerability of the domestic industry as a result. The country is not able to protect domestic industry from the cheaper imports and in this price war, some domestic players have to face heavy losses or growth restrictions.
What does revoking MFN mean?
Revoking it means India can levy whatever import tariffs it wants. India can now make it very expensive for Pakistan to export its goods or services to India.
Will this hurt Pakistan?
So far, India has only revoked the MFN status. It has not altered the import duties on Pakistan. However, if it does hike them, then this will likely have an impact on that country.
What is the State of MFN Status Between India and Pakistan?
India had granted MFN status to Pakistan in 1996, a year after the formation of WTO. But Pakistan hasn’t accorded MFN status to India till now.
Source: The Hindu
NASA’s Mars Rover Opportunity Concludes a 15-Year Mission
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced that its Mars Mission, Opportunity has come to an end.
This marked the conclusion of the 15-year saga. The decision to end the mission was made after all the efforts to restore contact with the Opportunity Mars rover didn’t yield desired results.
Why the NASA lost the contact with Opportunity?
A historic global dust storm reached the location of the Opportunity rover on Mars. The storm darkened the skies and cut off of the rover’s solar power. All the efforts of NASA to restore the rover did not yield positive results.
Things worsened with the onset of the winter at the location of the Opportunity rover. The reduced sunlight and colder temperatures during winter made it unlikely for the recovery of the Opportunity rover.
About the Mission:
Opportunity was the second of the twin Mars Exploration Rovers to land on Mars in January 2004.
It landed 90 days after its twin rover Spirit landed. Spirit landed at Gusev Crater and Opportunity landed on the opposite side of Mars at Meridiani Planum.
NASA expected 90-day lifetimes for the rovers. Both Opportunity and Spirit far exceeded their expected lifetime.
Spirit’s mission ended in May 2011 after travelling eight kilometres and Opportunity had logged 45 kilometres before losing contact in June 2018.
First District Cooling System of India to come up in Amaravati:
India’s First District cooling system will come up in Amravati, capital of the Andhra Pradesh.
District cooling systems produce chilled water, steam or hot water at a central plant and then pipe that energy out (either underground or over rooftops) to buildings for air conditioning, space heating and water heating. As a result, these buildings don’t require their own chillers, air conditioners, boilers or furnaces.
They are considered to be highly efficient to address each of the challenges like high Capital and operating costs, reliability, flexibility and environmental sustainability while meeting their comfort and process cooling and heating needs.
District cooling uses only 50% of primary energy consumption for cooling urban building n compared to other cooling systems. This also reduces carbon emissions.
Source: The Hindu