Topic 1: The Smart Cities Mission
Context: As the deadline for completing the Smart Cities Mission approaches, the government has asked 20 of the worst performing cities — ones that have completed the fewest projects under the mission — to buck up.
What is the Smart Cities Mission?
- The Smart Cities Mission is an initiative of the Union Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry.
- It was launched in 2015.
- The Ministry selected 100 cities for the Mission.
- The projects were supposed to be completed within five years of the selection of the city, but in 2021 the Ministry changed the deadline of all cities to June 2023.
- Projects under the mission:
- The project proposals ranged from making certain stretches of roads more accessible and pedestrian-friendly to the more capital-intensive ones like laying water pipelines and constructing sewage treatment plants.
- All 100 cities have also constructed Integrated Command and Control Centres to monitor all security, emergency and civic services.
- Status of the projects
- Only around 20 cities are likely to meet the June deadline.
- Shillong has completed just one of its 18 proposed projects.
Basic infrastructural aspects of a Smart City:
- A sufficient supply of water
- Uninterruptible power supply
- Sanitation, which includes solid waste management, is important.
- Public transportation and efficient urban mobility
- Affordable housing, primarily for the poor
- Digitalization and strong IT connection
- E-government and public involvement
- Environmental sustainability and citizen safety, particularly for women, children, and the elderly
- Education and health
- Environmental and equitable development, to create a reproducible model that may serve as a model for other aspiring communities.
- It should be a long term programme, not only a five-year programme as most of the cities cannot perform the best within this time frame.
- To meet the city requirement, more projects should be identified.
- There are many smart cities whose drainage issue is not yet solved.
- Studies should be done on why a single project has not been completed in cities.
- For the mobilization of funds, more revenue should be generated through taxation.
- The fund transfer process should also be made accessible.
- All these cities should be secured by cyber security ensuring data security and encryption.
Topic 2: Foreign lawyers allowed to practice in India
Context: The Bar Council of India (BCI) has allowed foreign lawyers and law firms to practise in India.
- Current practice:
- According to the Advocates Act, advocates enrolled with the Bar Council alone are entitled to practise law in India.
- All others, such as a litigant, can appear only with the permission of the court, authority or person before whom the proceedings are pending.
- What is allowed?
- The notification allows foreign lawyers and law firms to register with BCI to practise in India if they are entitled to practise law in their home countries.
- They shall be allowed to practise transactional work /corporate work such as joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions, intellectual property matters, drafting of contracts and other related matters on a reciprocal basis.
- They can advise clients on foreign law and work on corporate transactions.
- What is not allowed?
- They cannot appear in court
- They cannot practise Indian law.
- They shall not be involved or permitted to do any work pertaining to the conveyancing of property, Title investigation or other similar works.
- Indian lawyers working with foreign law firms will also be subject to the same restriction of engaging only in non-litigious practice.
Topic 3: Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana
Context: The Members of Parliament (MPs) have adopted 3154 Gram Panchayats under the Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana (SAGY) from 2014-15 to 2022-23.
- Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana (SAGY) was launched in 2014.
- To translate the comprehensive vision of Mahatma Gandhi about an ideal Indian village into reality.
- To trigger processes which lead to a holistic development of the identified Gram Panchayats
- To substantially improve the standard of living and quality of life of all section of the population through –
- Improved basic amenities
- Higher productivity
- Enhanced human development
- Better livelihood opportunity
- Reduced disparities
- Access to right and entitlements
- Wider social mobilization
- Enriched social capital
- To generate models of local level development and effective local government which can motivate and inspire neighboring Gram Panchayats to learn and adapt
- Working of the scheme:
- Under SAGY, each Member of Parliament adopts a Gram Panchayat and guides its holistic progress giving importance for social development at par with infrastructure.
- However, they cannot choose their own village.
- The ‘Adarsh Grams’ are to become schools of local development and governance, inspiring other Gram Panchayats.
- By involving villagers and leveraging scientific tools, a village development plan is prepared under the leadership of Member of Parliament.
- They will develop activities considering the resources and requirements of that village.
- An increase in employment opportunities.
- A depletion in migration due to extreme distress.
- 100% documentation of birth and deaths with proper registration.
- An evolved alternative dispute resolution system granted by the communities.
- Social liberty from slavery, bonded labour, manual scavenging and child labour.
- Established social justice, harmony and peace among the communities.
- The functioning bodies can draw resources for this scheme from-
- Existing schemes, such as the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, Indira Awas Yojana, Backward Regions Grant Fund, etc.
- Gram panchayat’s revenue
- Central and State Finance Commission Grants
- The Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme
- Corporate Social Responsibility funds
- The functioning bodies can draw resources for this scheme from-
Topic 4: ATL Sarthi and Atal Innovation Mission
Context: Atal Innovation Mission – NITI Aayog launches ATL Sarthi
What is ATL Sarthi?
- It is a comprehensive self-monitoring framework to strengthen the ever-growing ecosystem of Atal Tinkering Labs (ATL).
- ATL Sarthi will enable the ATLs to be efficient and effective.
- The initiative has four pillars:
- a self-reporting dashboard known as ‘MyATL Dashboard’
- Compliance SOPs for schools to ensure financial and non-financial compliances,
- on-ground enablement of ATLs in collaboration with relevant local authorities through Cluster-based Approach and
- providing ownership to schools to analyze their performance through Performance-Enablement (PE) Matrix.
What is Atal Innovation Mission?
- NITI Aayog’s Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) was established in 2016.
- To encourage a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship across the country.
- Provides a forum for multiple parties to collaborate and provides collaboration opportunities.
- To serve as an umbrella organization that encompasses and oversees the country’s whole innovation ecosystem.
- Initiatives of AIM
- Atal Tinkering Labs – at school level
- Atal Incubation Centres – An ecosystem of Startups and Entrepreneurs
- Atal Community Innovation Centres – serving Unserved and Under-Served regions of India
- Atal New India Challenges – Product and Service Innovations with National Impact
- ARISE ANIC challenges – to stimulate startup/ MSME industry innovation
- Mentor of Change (Mentorship and Partnerships – with Public, Private sector, NGOs, Academia, Institutions)
Atal Tinkering Labs
- To foster a creative attitude among high school students across the country.
- What is taught under this?
- design thinking,
- critical thinking,
- computational thinking,
- digital manufacturing,
- collaboration, and
- other 21st-century skills.
- Grant-in-aid of up to Rs 20,00,000/- is awarded to schools selected for setting up the ATL system.
- It will allow India to establish itself as a worldwide hub for world-class innovation.
Topic 5: The McMahon Line
Context: Two United States Senators have introduced a bipartisan resolution reiterating that the US recognises the McMahon Line as the international boundary between China and India in Arunachal Pradesh.
- The resolution reaffirms India’s well-known and established position that Arunachal Pradesh, which China calls ‘South Tibet’, is an integral part of India.
What is the McMahon Line?
- The McMahon Line serves as the de facto boundary between China and India in the Eastern Sector.
- It specifically represents the boundary between Arunachal Pradesh and Tibet, from Bhutan in the west to Myanmar in the east.
- China’s claimes:
- China has historically disputed the boundary and claims the state of Arunachal Pradesh as part of the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR).
- When was it drawn?
- The McMahon Line was drawn during the Simla Convention of 1914, officially described as the Convention Between Great Britain, China, and Tibet.
- The McMahon Line delimited the respective spheres of influence of Tibet and Northeast India and Northern Myanmar.
- The Simla Convention:
- The border in this region was undefined prior to the signing of the convention.
- The convention attempted to settle the question of Tibet’s sovereignty and avoid further territorial disputes in the region.
- The treaty divided the Buddhist region into “Outer Tibet” and “Inner Tibet”:
- Outer Tibet would remain in the hands of the Tibetan Government at Lhasa under Chinese suzerainty, though China was not allowed to interfere in its affairs.
- Inner Tibet would be under the direct jurisdiction of the newly formed Republic of China.
- It also determined the border between China proper and Tibet as well as Tibet and British India.
- While a draft convention was agreed upon by all three countries on April 27, 1914, China immediately repudiated it.
- The final convention was only signed by McMahon on behalf of the British government and Shatra on behalf of Lhasa.
- China did not consent to the convention, arguing that Tibet had no independent authority to enter into international agreements.
How was the border between British India and China decided?
- The 890-km border from the corner of Bhutan to the Isu Razi Pass on the Burma border was drawn largely along the crest of the Himalayas, following the “highest watershed principle”.
- This principle, considered to be the most logical way of drawing borders in mountainous regions by the British, basically drew the border along the highest ridge between two river plains.
- Tawang, which would have been a part of Tibet had this principle been uniformly implemented, was included in British India due to its proximity to the Assam Valley.
Status of the McMahon line since 1914
- During the 1962 Sino-Indian War, China was able to quickly overpower India and make deep inroads into Indian territory across the McMahon Line.
- However, its forces retreated to pre-war positions after the unilateral ceasefire was announced.
Topic 6: Sika Deer
Context: 1,400-year religious protection of sika deer in Japan have made them genetically unique
- Nara has a long history and connection with sika deer, with classic Japanese poems about the deer being composed there 1,200 years ago.
- These deer are revered in this area as the messengers of the (Shinto) gods in Kasugataisha Shrine.
- Deer are still considered sacred creatures by the people of Nara.
- These are designated as national natural treasures.
- About the sika deer:
- The sika deer is also known as the Northern spotted deer or the Japanese deer.
- It is a species of deer native to much of East Asia.
- It is now uncommon in other parts of East Asia except in Japan, where the species is overabundant.
- Sika deer are found in the temperate and subtropical forests of eastern Asia
- The followers of Shintoism believe that spiritual powers exist in the natural world.
- Shinto revolves around supernatural entities called the kami.
- The kami are believed to inhabit all things, including forces of nature and prominent landscape locations.
- Shintoism believes that even a stone is supposed to have life.
- Effectively, it believes in what we today call ‘sustainable development’.
- Since Shinto believes in a live and let live approach people did not have a problem in living alongside sika deer.
- Threats to sika deer:
- Expansion in Japan’s human population
- Excessive hunting
Topic 7: Sufi Dialogue
Context: A Sufi Samvad (Sufi Dialogue) programme was launched by a political party as a means of reaching out to the Muslim community.
- It is a year-long programme.
- It will end with a big meeting set to be addressed by Prime Minister of India.
- The idea of the programme is to go among the Muslim community, bring to their notice the fact that the government had worked for all, irrespective of caste, creed or community.
- Most of the programmes will be aimed at Muslim-majority areas and districts where there are up to 20% or more Muslim population.
- Sneh Milan:
- Another programme being launched is the “sneh milan” goodwill meeting with Muslim community members, with the slogan “one nation, one DNA”.
Topic 8: Eurasian otter
Context: The first photographic record of Eurasian otter has indicated that some stretches of the Neeru remain unpolluted.
The Neeru river:
- The Neeru is a tributary of the Chenab river.
- These stretches comprise stony beds and narrow valleys.
- Neeru river originates from the Sonabain Glacier in Bhaderwah of Jammu and Kashmir.
- It flows through Bhaderwah valley and joins river Chenab at Pul Doda.
- The Gupt Ganga temple of Bhaderwah is located on the bank of this river.
The Eurasian Otter
- The Eurasian otter is a semiaquatic mammal native to Eurasia.
- The Eurasian otter has one of the widest distributions of all palaearctic mammals.
- Its range covers parts of three continents:
- Asia and
- In India, it occurs in northern, northeast and southern India.
- Formerly widely distributed in Japan, it is now believed to be extinct there.
- The Eurasian otter lives in a wide variety of aquatic habitats, including highland and lowland lakes, rivers, streams, marshes, swamp forests and coastal areas.
- In the Indian sub-continent, Eurasian otters occur in cold hill and mountain streams.
- Major Threats:
- Habitat destruction due to developmental activities.
- Decrease in prey species due to acidification of rivers and lakes.
- Coastal populations are vulnerable to oil spills.
- Inland populations are vulnerable to organic pollution by nitrate fertilizers, untreated sewage, or farm slurry.
- Traps designed to kill other species, especially underwater cages constructed to drown muskrats.
- Conservation status:
- IUCN : Near threatened
- Indian Wildlife Protection Act : Schedule II
- CITES : Appendix I
Topic 9: The Willow project
Context: The United States formally approved a vast oil drilling project in Alaska, also known as the Willow
What is the Willow Project?
- Willow Project is a massive and decades long oil drilling venture on Alaska’s North Slope in the National Petroleum Reserve, which is owned by the federal government of US.
- The area where the project is planned holds up to 600 million barrels of oil.
- That oil would take years to reach the market since the project has yet to be constructed.
- The project would generate enough oil to release 9.2 million metric tons of planet-warming carbon pollution a year.
- The project could destroy habitat for native species and alter the migration patterns of animals including caribou.
Topic 10: Domestic Systematically Important Banks
Context: The failure of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank in the US raises questions on the safety of depositors’ wealth everywhere but such failures are unlikely in the Indian system.
What is the basis for the confidence in the resilience of Indian banks?
- Domestic banks have a different balance sheet structure.
- In India we don’t have a system where deposits are withdrawn in bulk quantities.
- Household savings constitute a major part of bank deposits in India.
- This is different from the US, where a large portion of bank deposits are from corporates.
- A large chunk of Indian deposits is with public sector banks, and most of the rest is with very strong private sector lenders such as HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, and Axis Bank.
- In India, the approach of the regulator has generally been that depositors’ money should be protected at any cost.
- The best example is the rescue of Yes Bank where a lot of liquidity support was provided.
What are domestic systemically important banks (D-SIB)?
- Due to the way the D-SIBs become completely enmeshed in cross-jurisdictional activities, their complex financial structures, and the lack of other alternatives, they are considered systematically important.
- A failure of any of these banks can lead to systemic and significant disruption to essential economic services across the country and can cause an economic panic.
- The government is expected to bail out these banks in times of economic distress to prevent widespread harm.
- D-SIBs follow a different set of regulations in relation to systemic risks and moral hazard issues.
- SIBs are perceived as banks that are ‘Too Big To Fail (TBTF)’, due to which these banks enjoy certain advantages in the funding markets.
- Additional Common Equity:
- The additional Common Equity Tier 1 (CET1) requirement for D-SIBs became fully effective from 2019.
- The additional CET1 requirement was in addition to the capital conservation buffer.
- It means that these banks have to earmark additional capital and provisions to safeguard their operations.
How are D-SIBs determined?
- Since 2015, the RBI has been releasing the list of all D-SIBs.
- In order to be listed as a D-SIB, a bank needs to have assets that exceed 2 percent of the national GDP.
- The banks are then further classified on the level of their importance across the five buckets.
- Recently RBI has classified SBI, ICICI Bank, and HDFC Bank as D-SIBs.
- ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank are in bucket one while SBI falls in bucket three, with bucket five representing the most important D-SIBs.
Global Systematically Important Banks:
- The Basel, Switzerland-based Financial Stability Board in consultation with the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS) and Swiss national authorities has given a list of global systemically important banks (G-SIBs).
- There are 30 G-SIBs currently.
- No Indian bank is on the list.
The Basel accord:
- Basel is a city in Switzerland.
- It is the headquarters of Bureau of International Settlement (BIS), which fosters co-operation among central banks with a common goal of financial stability and common standards of banking regulations.
- Currently there are 28 member nations including India.
- Basel guidelines refer to broad supervisory standards formulated by this group of central banks – called the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS).
- The set of agreement by the BCBS, which mainly focuses on risks to banks and the financial system are called Basel accord.
- The purpose of the accord is to ensure that financial institutions have enough capital on account to meet obligations and absorb unexpected losses.
- Basel I
- In 1988, BCBS introduced capital measurement system called Basel capital accord, also called as Basel 1.
- It focused almost entirely on credit risk.
- It defined capital and structure of risk weights for banks.
- The minimum capital requirement was fixed at 8% of risk weighted assets (RWA).
- RWA means assets with different risk profiles.
- For example, an asset backed by collateral would carry lesser risks as compared to personal loans, which have no collateral.
- India adopted Basel 1 guidelines in 1999.
- Basel II
- In 2004, Basel II guidelines were published which were refined and reformed versions of Basel I accord.
- The guidelines were based on three parameters/pillars:
- Capital Adequacy Requirements: Banks should maintain a minimum capital adequacy requirement of 8% of risk assets
- Supervisory Review: Banks were needed to develop and use better risk management techniques in monitoring and managing all the three types of risks that a bank faces, viz. credit, market and operational risks
- Market Discipline: This need increased disclosure requirements.
- Banks need to mandatorily disclose their CAR, risk exposure, etc to the central bank.
- Basel II norms in India and overseas are yet to be fully implemented.
- Basel III
- In 2010, Basel III guidelines were released.
- These guidelines were introduced in response to the financial crisis of 2008.
- Basel III norms aim at making most banking activities such as their trading book activities more capital-intensive.
- The guidelines aim to promote a more resilient banking system by focusing on four vital banking parameters:
- funding and
Topic 11: MQ-9 Reaper drone
Context: The US military said its MQ-9 Reaper drone crashed into the Black Sea after a Russian Su-27 fighter jet damaged its propeller.
What is the MQ-9 Reaper drone?
- It is a remotely piloted drone.
- It can reach up to 50,000 feet for more than 27 hours, gathering intelligence with cameras, sensors and radars.
- It can also carry precision strikes.
|Black SeaThe Black Sea is a mediterranean sea of the Atlantic Ocean lying between Europe and Asi.Countries surrounding Black sea:Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Russia, Turkey, and Ukraine.The Black Sea ultimately drains into the Mediterranean Sea, via the Turkish Straits and the Aegean Sea. The Bosporus strait connects it to the small Sea of Marmara.To the north, the Black Sea is connected to the Sea of Azov by the Kerch Strait.|