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24th August Current Affairs

Sree Narayana Guru

(GS-I: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times)

In News:

Sree Narayana Guru Jayanti.(167th birth anniversary of Sree Narayan Guru)

Who was he?

Sree Narayana Guru was a catalyst and leader who reformed the oppressive caste system that prevailed in society at the time.

He was born in 1856 in Chempazhanthy, a village near Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.

Belong to the Ezhava caste, Narayan Guru had experienced discrimination from the upper caste of society.

His philosophy always advocated social equality, education for all, and spiritual enlightenment.

Significant Contribution for Society:

He gave the famous slogan “One Caste, One Religion, One God for All” (Oru Jathi, Oru Matham, Oru Daivam, Manushyanu).

In 1888, Narayana Guru consecrated the first temple of Lord Shiva, where an idol was ordinated by a non-brahmin in Aruvippuram village of Kerala.

His step sparked off the anti-caste revolution against the upper-caste Brahmin communities.

In one temple he consecrated at Kalavancode, he kept mirrors instead of idols. This symbolised his message that the divine was within each individual.

In 1903, he established the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam (SNDP) as the founder and president.

He had set up more than 40 temples across the state as an act of protest to permit lower caste people to enter temples.

Contribution to National Movement:

He was in the forefront of the movement for universal temple entry and against the societal ills like the social discrimination of untouchables.

He provided the impetus for Vaikom agitation which was aimed at temple entry in Travancore for the lower castes.

He captured the essence of Indianness in his poems which highlighted the unity that lies beneath the world’s apparent diversity.

Philosophy of Sree Narayana Guru:

Sree Narayana Guru became one of the greatest proponents and re-evaluators of Advaita Vedanta, the principle of non-duality put forward by Adi Shankara.

In 1913, he founded the Advaita Ashram at Aluva. This was an important event in his spiritual quest.

This Ashram was dedicated to a great principle – Om Sahodaryam Sarvatra (all men are equal in the eyes of God).

 Literary Works:

He wrote various books in different languages. Few of them are: Advaitha Deepika, Asrama, Thevarappathinkangal, Brahmavidya Panchakam etc.

 Relevance of His Philosophy:

Sree Narayana Guru’s philosophy of Universal Oneness has special relevance in the contemporary global context where in the social fabric of many countries and communities are being eroded by hatred, violence, bigotry, sectarianism and other divisive tendencies.

Ubharte Sitaare Fund

(GS-III: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation)

In News:

Finance minister has launched Rs 250 crore worth Alternative Investment Fund for export-oriented micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

Objective of the fund:

To Identify Indian enterprises with potential advantages by way of technology, products or processes along with export potential, but which are currently underperforming or unable to tap their latent potential to grow.

The main purpose is to encourage MSMEs as they are vital to the economy in terms of creating jobs, fostering innovations and reviving the economy.

Type of fund:

Ubharte sitaare fund is a type of Alternative investment fund.

Key features of the scheme:

The Fund has been set up by Exim Bank and SIDBI (Small Industries Development Bank of India).

The fund is a mix of structured support, both financial and advisory services.

It will also have a Greenshoe Option of Rs 250 crore.

The Fund covers potential companies, across various sectors such as pharma, auto components, engineering solutions, agriculture, and software etc.

Significance of this programme:

It identifies Indian companies that have the potential to be future champions in the domestic arena while catering to global demands.

Enabling MSME to expand their ventures will drive the overall economy, as they make up for about 45 per cent of the country’s total manufacturing output, 40 percent of exports, and almost 30 per cent of the national GDP.

This will also give a boost to sector specific growth like ‘ONE DISTRICT ONE PRODUCT’ in Uttar Pradesh.

What is an Alternative Investment Fund (AIF)?

Alternative Investment Fund comprises pooled investment funds which invest in venture capital, private equity, hedge funds, managed futures etc.

In simpler terms, an AIF refers to an investment which differs from conventional investment avenues such as stocks, debt securities, etc.

AIF does not include funds covered under the SEBI (Mutual Funds) Regulations, 1996, SEBI (Collective Investment Schemes) Regulations, 1999 or any other regulations of the Board to regulate fund management activities.

Nonetheless, the alternative investment funds have to register with SEBI.

What is a greenshoe option?

It is an over-allotment option. In the context of an initial public offering (IPO), it is a provision in an underwriting agreement that grants the underwriter the right to sell investors more shares than initially planned by the issuer if the demand for a security issue proves higher than expected.

What is a smog tower?

(GS-III: Conservation and pollution related issues)

In News:

The smog towers are being installed in Delhi on the lines of China, which has experimented with this technology in its capital Beijing and other cities.

The Delhi government will study the impact of smog towers on pollution and could add more such structures across the national capital.

What is a smog tower?

Smog towers are structures designed to work as large-scale air purifiers. They are fitted with multiple layers of air filters and fans at the base to suck the air.

After the polluted air enters the smog tower, it is purified by the multiple layers before being re-circulated into the atmosphere.

Need for:

Delhi was the most polluted capital city in the world in 2020 for the third consecutive year, according to a report by a Swiss group (released in March this year) that ranked cities based on their air quality measured in terms of the levels of ultrafine particulate matter (PM 2.5) that can enter the organs and cause lasting damage.

Background:

Following high pollution levels in the national capital, the Supreme Court had in November 2019 asked the Centre and the Delhi government to come up with a road map on installing smog towers in the national capital region (NCR) to combat air pollution.

Reasons behind high pollution levels?

Construction work, industrial and vehicular pollution — in and around the city.

The situation is aggravated at the start of winter by smoke from stubble-burning in northwestern states, coupled with unfavourable meteorological conditions, such as calm winds, low temperatures, and fewer sunny days.

Measures taken to control pollution:

Persuading farmers in Punjab and Haryana to use mechanical alternatives to stubble-burning.

Closure of thermal power stations in Delhi.

Making industries use piped natural gas.

Control measures taken under the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) when pollution levels spike.

National Monetisation Pipeline(NMP)

(GS-III: Infrastructure related issues)

In News:

The Centre launched the National Monetisation pipeline (NMP) in an effort to list out the government’s infrastructure assets to be sold over the next four-years.

Key features:

The four-year National Monetisation Pipeline (NMP) will unlock value in brownfield projects by engaging the private sector, transferring to them the rights but not the ownership in projects.

Components: Roads, railways and power sector assets will comprise over 66 per cent of the total estimated value of the assets to be monetised, with the balance coming from sectors including telecom, mining, aviation, ports, natural gas and petroleum product pipelines, warehouses and stadiums.

Objective of the programme:

To unlock the value of investments in brownfield public sector assets by tapping institutional and long-term capital, which can thereafter be leveraged for public investments.

To enable ‘Infrastructure Creation through Monetisation’ wherein the public and private sector collaborate, each excelling in their core areas of competence, so as to deliver socio-economic growth.

The Framework:

Currently, only assets of central government line ministries and CPSEs in infrastructure sectors have been included.

Monetization through disinvestment and monetization of non-core assets have not been included in the NMP.

The framework for monetisation of core asset monetisation has three key imperatives:

Estimated Potential:

Considering that infrastructure creation is inextricably linked to monetisation, the period for NMP is co-terminus with the balance period under National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP) i.e for FY 2022-2025.

NMP is indicatively valued at Rs 6.0 lakh crore for 4 years.

Significance of the scheme:

Asset Monetisation needs to be viewed not just as a funding mechanism, but as an overall paradigm shift in infrastructure operations, augmentation and maintenance considering the private sector’s resource efficiencies and its ability to dynamically adapt to the evolving global and economic reality.

Such new models will enable not just financial and strategic investors but also common people to participate in this asset class thereby opening new avenues for investment.

Hence, the NMP document is a critical step towards making India’s Infrastructure truly world class.

Challenges to NMP:

  • Lack of identifiable revenue streams in various assets.
  • Level of capacity utilisation in gas and petroleum pipeline networks.
  • Dispute resolution mechanism.
  • Regulated tariffs in power sector assets.
  • Low interest among investors in national highways below four lanes.
  • The lack of independent sectoral regulators.