India, Morocco sign MoU to enhance cooperation in MSME Sector

The MoU was signed during the bilateral meeting between India and Morocco. Alka Arora, Joint Secretary in the Ministry of MSME, led the official delegation along with CMD NSIC to Morocco and held bilateral meetings with Othman El Ferdaous, Secretary of State in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Trade and Digital Economy of Morocco.

PM Modi, Cochin International Airport honoured with UN Champions of the Earth Award 2018

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was on September 26, 2018 awarded with the prestigious UN Champions of the Earth Award 2018, the highest environmental honour of the United Nations. 

The UN Environment jointly awarded PM Narendra Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron in the Policy Leadership category for their efforts regarding the creation of the International Solar Alliance. 

PM Modi was also acknowledged for his unprecedented pledge to eliminate all single use plastic in India by 2022.

Other awardees

This year, the Champions of the Earth Award recognised six of the world’s most outstanding environmental changemakers for their combination of bold, innovative, and tireless efforts to tackle some of the most urgent environmental issues.

The other winners of the 2018 Champions of the Earth Awards are:

Awardees Recognition
Cochin International Airport, Kerala The Cochin International Airport was awarded for Entrepreneurial Vision, for its leadership in the use of sustainable energy. This world’s first fully solar-powered airport proves that green business is good business.
Joan Carling, an activist from the Cordillera, Philippines She was recognised with the Lifetime Achievement Award for her work as one of the world’s most prominent defenders of environmental and indigenous rights. Carling has been at the forefront of the conflict for land and the environment for more than 20 years.
Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods These Plant-based food alternative providers were jointly recognised in the Science and Innovation Category for their revolutionary development of a popular, plant-based alternative to beef, and for their efforts to educate consumers about environmentally conscious alternatives.
China’s Zhejiang’s Green Rural Revival Programme The programme was awarded for Inspiration and Action for the transformation of a once heavily polluted area of rivers and streams in East China’s Zhejiang province.

The Awards will be presented to them during the Champions of the Earth Gala in New York City, on the sidelines of the 73rd UN General Assembly. The gala will be hosted by actor and environmental activist Alec Baldwin and UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador Dia Mirza. 

Champions of the Earth Award 

• The Champions of the Earth award, the UN’s highest environmental recognition, was founded in 2005.

• The award celebrates exceptional figures from the public and private sectors and from civil society, whose actions have had a transformative positive impact on the environment. 

• The award also recognises the efforts for promoting new areas of levels of cooperation on environmental action.

• The past laureates include – Afroz Shah, who led the world’s largest beach cleanup (2016), Rwandan President Paul Kagame (2016), former US Vice-President Al Gore (2007), Ocean Cleanup CEO Boyan Slat (2014), scientist-explorer Bertrand Piccard, and developer of Google Earth Brian McClendon (2013).

President clears ordinance to set up a board of eminent personalities to run MCI

President Ram Nath Kovind on September 26, 2018 gave his assent to promulgate an ordinance that seeks to establish a committee to run the Medical Council of India, until Parliament passes legislation to replace the body with a new commission.

The presidential assent came after the Union Cabinet cleared the ordinance on the same day. The information was shared by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley after the cabinet meeting in New Delhi.

Jaitley said that since the term of the elected body of the Medical Commission of India is slated to end soon, a need was felt to appoint a committee comprising professionals of great eminence to run its affairs.  Hence, the ordinance supersedes the MCI and the powers of the council have been vested in a Board of Governors (BoG).

Composition of the Board

The Board of Governors who would run the MCI will include Niti Aayog member VK Paul, AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria, PGIMER’s Director Jagat Ram, BM Gangadhar of NIMHANS Bengaluru and AIIMS Professor Nikhil Tandon. and doctors S Venkatesh and Balram Bhargava.

The Director General health services S Venkatesh and Director General ICMR Balram Bhargava will be the ex-officio members of the board.

Key Highlights

• A bill to replace the Council with a National Medical Commission is pending in Parliament. The National Medical Commission is expected to replace the Medical Council of India as the top medical education regulator in the country.

• In March 2018, the Union Cabinet had made amendments to the National Medical Commission Bill after considering recommendations made by a Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare.

• The bill proposes setting up of four autonomous boards to oversee undergraduate and post-graduate courses, assess and accredit medical institutes and register practitioners under the National Medical Commission.

• The bill also proposes a common entrance exam and licentiate exams that all medical graduates will have to clear to get practicing licences.

• The bill was sent to the Parliamentary Standing Committee following protests by the medical fraternity across the country on the grounds that it would lead to more corruption in the medical field.

The Background

The Supreme Court of India had in May 2016 directed the centre to set up an oversight committee with the authority to oversee all statutory functions of MCI till the new legislation comes in, following allegations of corruption against MCI office bearers and probes into opaque accreditation to medical colleges.

Several MCI members have been accused of taking bribes to fast-track accreditation.

In 2017, another oversight committee was set up with the approval of the top court after expiry of the one year term of the first panel.

In July 2018, the committee resigned citing instances of ‘non-compliance of their instructions by MCI’.

Union Cabinet approves National Digital Communications Policy 2018

The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on September 26, 2018 approved the National Digital Communications Policy 2018 (NDCP-2018), the new telecom policy of the country.

The cabinet also accorded approval to the re-designation of the Telecom Commission as the “Digital Communications Commission”.

National Digital Communications Policy 2018 (NDCP-2018)
The NDCP-2018 envisions supporting India’s transition to a digitally empowered economy and society by fulfilling the information and communications needs of citizens and enterprises by establishing a resilient and affordable digital communications infrastructure and services.

This customer focused and application driven policy will lead to new ideas and innovations after the launch of advanced technology such as 5G, IOT, and M2M which will govern the telecom sector.

Objectives of the policy

Provide universal broadband connectivity at 50 Mbps to every citizen

Provide 1 Gbps connectivity to all Gram Panchayats by 2020 and 10 Gbps by 2022

Ensure connectivity to all uncovered areas

Attract investments of USD 100 billion in the Digital Communications Sector

Train 1 million manpower for building New Age Skill

Expand IoT ecosystem to 5 billion connected devices

Establish a comprehensive data protection regime for digital communications that safeguards the privacy, autonomy and choice of individuals

Facilitate India’s effective participation in the global digital economy

Enforce accountability through appropriate institutional mechanisms

Secure digital communications infrastructure and services

Strategy

Establishment of a National Digital Grid by creating a National Fibre Authority

Establishing Common Service Ducts and utility corridors in all new city and highway road projects

Creation of a collaborative institutional mechanism between Centre, States and Local Bodies for common rights of way, standardisation of costs and timelines

Removal of barriers to approvals

Facilitating development of Open Access Next Generation Networks

The end product

The National Digital Communications Policy will at end result in:

Broadband for all

Creation of four million additional jobs in the Digital Communications sector

Enhance the contribution of the Digital Communications sector to 8 percent of India’s GDP from around 6 percent in 2017

Propel India to the Top 50 Nations in the ICT Development Index of ITU from 134 in 2017

Enhance India’s contribution to Global Value Chains

Ensure Digital Sovereignty

The government targets to achieve these objectives by 2022.

What led to the formation of the new telecom policy?

• At present, the world is witnessing an era of modern technological advancements in the Telecom Sector such as 5G, Internet of Things (loT), Machine to machine (M2M) communication, etc.

• Considering this transformation, the government felt a need to introduce a policy for the Indian Telecom Sector which can form the main pillar of Digital India by addressing emerging opportunities.

• Accordingly, the National Digital Communications Policy 2018 was formulated in place of the existing National Telecom Policy 2012.

Ibrahim Mohamed Solih wins Maldives Presidential Election 2018: In Detail

Opposition candidate, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, on September 24, 2018 won the Maldives Presidential Election 2018, defeating incumbent President Yameen Abdul Gayoom, who will stay on in the presidency until his term ends on November 17, 2018.

Ibrahim Mohammad Solih is a consensus candidate of the joint opposition, which includes the Maldivian Democratic Party, the Jumhooree Party, the Adhaalat Party and former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s own faction of the Progressive Party. 

As per the results announced by Maldives’ National Elections Commission, Solih fetched 58.3 percent of the votes or 134616 ballots, compared to 41.5 percent or 96142 votes secured by Abdul Gayoom of Progressive Party of Maldives.

Solih will be sworn in as President on November 17, 2018 and his term is expected to continue until 2023. Solih will be only the sixth President in the country’s five-decade old electoral history.

Crisis in Maldives 

• In October 2008, a popular opposition movement instigated by a coalition of parties challenged the power of incumbent leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom (half-brother of Yameen Abdul Gayoom), forcing him to hold the Maldives’ first multiparty presidential vote.

• In the country’s first free elections, Mohamed Nasheed, backed by a coalition of opposition parties, defeated Gayoom in a runoff and became the Maldives’ first freely elected president in 2008. Two years later, the international watchdog Freedom House listed the country as an electoral democracy for the first time.

• However, in 2012, Nasheed was forced to resign from the office following a police mutiny and a political turmoil in the country better known for its exotic honeymoon resorts.

• It was Yameen Abdul Gayoom’s election as President in 2013 that ended the political turmoil. However, this trouble only intensified under Yameen.

• Recently in February 2018, Yameen declared a 45-day state of emergency in the country, ordering security forces into the Supreme Court and got former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom arrested. On his orders, Maldives police arrested Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and another Supreme Court judge Ali Hameed.

• He had pulled Maldives out of the Commonwealth in 2016 and fostered closer ties with China and Saudi Arabia over traditional allies India and the United Kingdom.

Maldives and its relations with China and India
Maldives, an island country, has been caught in a geopolitical struggle between China, India and the West. As soon as the results were declared, messages of congratulations from major countries including the United States and India among others began to pour in; however, China has not yet reacted to the outcome of the election.
China’s strong influence on Maldives
China and the Maldives have been enjoying friendly relations for many years now. China has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on infrastructure projects in the Maldives.

In September 2014, China’s president Xi Jinping visited the Maldives and a deal was finalised with a Chinese firm to upgrade its international airport, which is located on Hulhule, a separate island near the capital Male.

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Only two months after Xi’s visit, Maldives signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Beijing in support of Xi’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in December 2014.

China also undertook to build a 1.4-kilometer bridge linking Hulhule with Male which was completed on August 30, 2018.

India and Maldives
Maldives, home to around 22000 Indians, is of strategic importance to India and its growing proximity with China is a cause of concern for New Delhi.

Under the rule of Mohamed Nasheed, Maldives fostered close relations with India. However, India was effectively sidelined under the rule of Yameen Abdul Gayoom. All these years India had been feeling the heat.

Even when Yameen toppled the judicial system by jailing Supreme Court judges and his half-brother and former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom in February 2018, India played a waiting game. At times, India seemed almost ineffectual or helpless. Yameen even demanded to cut visas for Indian workers.

What does Solih’s election imply for India?

Ibrahim Mohamed Solih is related to Mohamed Nasheed through his wife, who is the first cousin of Nasheed. Solih and Nasheed are considered as brothers in terms of Maldivian politics. As Nasheed, Solih seems to be pro-Indian unlike Yameen Abdul Gayoom, under whose reign, China outpaced India.

Even during his door-to-door campaign, Solih promised that he would repair relations with the neighbours and India First foreign policy would be reinstated.

Who is Ibrahim Mohamed Solih?

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• Ibrahim Mohamed Solih is popularly known as Ibu Solih.

• Born in 1964 in Hinnavaru, Lhaviyani Atoll, Solih is a democracy activist well known for his reform efforts.

• Solih is one of the founding members of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), a party started by journalist-turned-leader Nasheed who went on to become the President of the Maldives after winning the 2008 election. 

• He was first elected to the Parliament in 1994 at the age of 30.

• He became the leader of MDP’s Parliamentary Group in 2011, after the infamous coup that led to the removal of Nasheed.

• For most of his political career as a lawmaker since 1994, he has maintained a low-profile until he began campaigning in the run-up to Presidential elections recently. 

• Representing Lhaviyani Atoll in the Maldivian Parliament, Solih became MDP’s presidential candidate after its other top figures were jailed or exiled by Yameen’s government.

Vice president M. Venkaiah Naidu inaugurated Smart City Expo India-2018

i. Vice president M. Venkaiah Naidu inaugurated Smart City Expo India-2018 in Jaipur.  He stressed the need for water harvesting. According to the Vice President, Smart Vision, Smart execution and smart Implementation are essential to develop smart cities and no city can become smart without the participation of the public. 

ii. The object of this three days long expo is to have discussions among different experts and groups to utilize benefits of new technology, town planning, capacity management, challenges before socio-economic development and development of networking in the Smart City sector. Near about 6000 delegates from MNC’s of different countries, researchers, CEO’s of different Smart cities, Mayors and corporates are participating in the expo. 

Cabinet approves National Digital Communications Policy

i. The cabinet has approved the new telecom policy, now named National Digital Communications Policy (NDCP) 2018, which aims to attract USD 100 billion investment and create 4 million jobs in the sector by 2022.  According to the draft of the policy, NDCP is focused on increasing high-speed broadband penetration, with use of modern technologies like 5G and optical fibres across the country at affordable rates.

ii. The draft promised to rationalise levies such as spectrum charges to rejuvenate debt-ridden telecom sector, the proposed new telecom policy seeks to provide broadband access to all with 50 megabit per second speed, 5G services and create 40 lakh new jobs by 2022.

Aadhaar Linking Must For PAN and Filing Income Tax Returns

i. The Supreme Court declared the Centre’s flagship Aadhaar scheme as Constitutionally valid. The Supreme Court ruled that linking the Aadhaar card to PAN card is mandatory and is needed for filing income tax returns. The apex court, however, said Aadhaar is not mandatory for opening bank accounts and linking with existing accounts. 

ii. The Supreme Court also struck down Section 57 of the Aadhaar Act that allowed private companies to avail Aadhaar data. Calling the section unconstitutional, the court asserted that private companies cannot insist on having Aadhaar number of customers. Aadhaar authentication records cannot be stored beyond six months, striking down the current rule of five years.

Useful Info-

Chairman, UIDAI- J. Satyanarayana 

CEO, UIDAI- Dr. Ajay Bhushan Pandey 

Supreme Court Allows Live Streaming Of Cases of Constitutional importance

i. The Supreme Court agreed to live-streaming and video recording of court proceedings, saying “sunlight is the best disinfectant”. The Supreme Court allowed live streaming of cases of Constitutional importance that take place in the Court of the Chief Justice of India.

ii. The bench said that they want to implement the concept of ‘open court’ in a bid to decongest the court. As per the court the public had a “right to know” what happens inside the courtroom. The decision came on the back of a clutch of petitions filed by senior lawyer Indira Jaisingh, law student Snehil Tripathi and NGO Centre For Accountability and Systemic Change. 

UN Declared Nelson Mandela Decade Of Peace 2019-2028

i. Unanimously adopting a political declaration at the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit, nearly 100 Heads of State and Government, Ministers, Member States and representatives of civil society  committed to redoubling efforts to build a just, peaceful, prosperous, inclusive and fair world, as they paid tribute to the late South African President’s (1994-99) celebrated qualities and service to humanity.

ii. Recognizing the period from 2019 to 2028 as the Nelson Mandela Decade of Peace, the Declaration saluted Mr Mandela for his humility, forgiveness and compassion, acknowledging as well his contribution to the struggle for democracy and the promotion of a culture of peace throughout the world.

Useful Info- 

Nelson Mandela International Day- July 18

UN Headquarters- New York, US

Finance Ministry Launched Mobile App  “Jan Dhan Darshak”

i. Department of Financial Services (DFS), Ministry of Finance and National Informatics Centre  (NIC) have jointly developed a mobile app called Jan Dhan Darshak as a part of financial inclusion (FI) initiative. This app will act as a guide for the common people in locating a financial service touch point at a given location in the country.

ii. While over 5 lakh FI touch points (Bank branches, ATMs, Post Offices) have been mapped on this App, approx. 1.35 lakh Bank Mitras would be on-boarded by 01.12.2018. Phone number of bank branches are available in the app, with the facility of call button for integrated dialing. 

Useful Info-

The NIC was established in 1976.

Present Director General of NIC- Neeta Verma

Japan Landed Rovers On Asteroid In Historic Mission

i. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) landed a pair of rovers on an asteroid, marking the world’s first moving, robotic observation of an asteroid surface. The two rovers Hayabusa2 managed to land on the asteroid are expected to take advantage of the low gravity and jump around the surface, reaching heights of up to 15 meters. 

ii. The small compact MINERVA-II1(MIcro Nano Experimental Robot Vehicle for Asteroid, the second generation) rovers separated from the Hayabusa2 spacecraft. The MINERVA-II 1 consists of two rovers, Rover-1A and Rover-1B. The Hayabusa2 probe was launched in December 2014 to explore the surface of the asteroid known as Ryugu. If all goes well, the Hayabusa2 will return to earth with soil and rock samples in 2020, 

DAC approves procurement of one thousand engines for T-72 tanks

i. The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) has approved procurement of 1,000 engines for fitment in T-72 tanks of the Army at an approximate cost of over 2,300 crore rupees. According to the Defence Ministry, the engines will enhance mobility, agility and acceleration of T-72 tanks making them more versatile and effective in the battlefield.

ii. Post-transfer of technology, most of these engines will be manufactured by Ordnance Factories Board. The DAC has also approved several amendments to Defence Procurement Procedure 2016, the manual governing the defence procurements.

Useful Info-

DAC was set up in 2001.

DAC Chairperson- Union Defence Minister (Current Chairperson- Mrs. Nirmala Sitharaman)

Finland Topped In ‘Human Capital’ Score, India Ranked 158th 

i. India ranks 158th in the world for its investments in education and healthcare, according to the first-ever scientific study ranking countries for their levels of human capital. The nation is placed behind Sudan (ranked 157th) and ahead of Namibia (ranked 159th) in the list. 

ii. The study, published in journal The Lancet, says that India is ranked at 158 out of 195 countries, an improvement from its position of 162 in 1990. The U.S. is ranked 27th, while China is at 44th and Pakistan at 164th.

Useful Info-

Finland topped the list, followed by Iceland and Denmark.

Mukesh Ambani Toped Barclays Hurun Rich List For 7th Time In A Row

i. Billionaire Mukesh Ambani, chairman of India’s second-most valued firm ‘Reliance Industries’, has topped the ‘Barclays Hurun India Rich List 2018’ for the seventh consecutive year, with the total net worth of INR 371,000 crore. Barclays Hurun India Rich List 2018, a compilation of the individuals in India having a net worth of INR 1,000 crore or more, featured 831 Indians compared to 617 last year.

ii. Mr Ambani is followed by London-based S.P. Hinduja, with the net worth of INR 1,59,000 crore; and L.N. Mittal, with a net worth of INR 1,14,500 crore. Azim Premji, with the wealth of INR 96,100 crore, is fourth in the list. The cumulative wealth of the 831 individuals featured in the list stood at $719 billion, amounting to a quarter of India’s GDP of $2,848 billion.

 

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