Daily Current Affairs, 13th & 14th July 2018
Topic: Issues related to women.
Failure to educate girls could cost world $30 trillion a year
Context: World Bank has said that Failing to let girls finish their education could cost the world as much as $30 trillion in lost earnings and productivity annually.
Present gap: About 132 million girls worldwide aged 6 to 17 do not attend school, while fewer than two-thirds of those in low-income nations finish primary school, and only a third finish lower secondary school.
Need for education:
- Women who have completed secondary education are more likely to work and earn on average nearly twiceas much as those with no schooling.
- If every girl in the world finished 12 years of quality education, lifetime earnings for women could increase by $15 trillion to $30 trillion every year.
- Other positive impactsof completing secondary school education for girls include a reduction in child marriage, lower fertility rates in countries with high population growth, and reduced child mortality and malnutrition.
- Also, women who have completed secondary education are at lesser risk of suffering violenceat the hands of their partners and have children who are less likely to be malnourished and themselves are more likely to go to school.
This report is more proof that we cannot afford to delay investing in girls. We cannot keep letting gender inequality get in the way of global progress. While we do need to ensure that of course all girls complete primary school, that is not enough.
- For Prelims: Nothing much.
- For Mains: Women Education- need, significance, challenges and efforts by governments.
Topic: Issues related to women.
Section 497 of the IPC
Context: Opposing a plea which called for the Section 497 of the IPC to be scrapped, the Centre recently told the Supreme Court that adultery must remain a punishable offence to protect the sanctity of marriage.
What is Section 497?
Section 497 of the 158-year-old IPC says, “Whoever has sexual intercourse with a person who is and whom he knows or has reason to believe to be the wife of another man, without the consent or connivance of that man, such sexual intercourse not amounting to the offence of rape, is guilty of the offence of adultery, and shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years, or with fine, or with both. In such case the wife shall not be punishable as an abettor.”
Why Section 497 should not be scrapped?
- The provisions of law, under challenge in the present writ, have been specifically created by the legislature in its wisdom, to protect and safeguard the sanctity of marriage, keeping in mind the unique structure and culture of the Indian society.
- Striking down Section 497 which provides for punishment only to a man for having extra-marital sexual ties with the wife of another man, will destroy the institution of marriage.
- Striking down section 497 of IPC and Section 198(2) of the CrPC will prove to be detrimental to the intrinsic Indian ethoswhich gives paramount importance to the institution and sanctity of marriage.
- The apex court had earlier on three separate occasions, in 1954, 1985 and 1988, upheld the constitutionality of Section 497.
- A plea has been filed in the Supreme Court which called for the Section 497 of the IPC to be scrapped, contending it does not treat men and women equally. It contended that Section 497 was “prima facie unconstitutional on the grounds that it discriminates against men and violates Article 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution”.
- The plea also said the provision also indirectly discriminated against womenby holding an erroneous presumption that they are the property of men.
- The petitioner had also challenged Section 198(2) of CrPC, which deals with the prosecution for offences against marriages.
Many countries have decriminalised adultery. IPC is the creation of England when they ruled over India for nearly 200 years and it is they who inserted Section 497 as a penal offence. What is more surprising is that England itself has decriminalised adultery and does not treat it as a criminal offence!
It is high time that this law is revisited even in India and amended to meet the present circumstances. Either both of them should be punishable or no one. It cannot be anybody’s case that the man alone should be sent behind bars for committing adultery while the woman be held just not liable at all and allowed to escape unpunished and unchecked.
Facts for Prelims:
Justice Malimath Committee report on reforms in the criminal justice system had suggested making section 497 gender-neutral.
- For Prelims: Justice Malimath Committee, Section 497 and 198.
- For Mains: What is Adultery, Section 497- need for revisit.
Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA)
Context: Dr. TCA Raghavan is the new Director General (DG) of Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA).
Appointment: He was selected by Governing Body and Governing Council of ICWA headed by Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu.
What is ICWA?
It was established in 1943 by group of Indian intellectuals as think tank. It was established as non-official, non-political and non-profit organisation under Registration of Societies Act 1860.
- It was declared institution of national importanceby Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA), 2001 enacted by Parliament.
- The Vice President of India is the ex-officio President of ICWA, while the Minister of External Affairs is its Vice-President.
- ICWA is devoted exclusively for the study of international relations and foreign affairs. Vice President of India is its ex-officio President.
- It had conducted historic international conferences like Asian Relations Conference in 1947 under leadership Sarojini Naidu and United Nations and New World Order in 1994.
For Prelims: ICWA- composition and functions.
Topic: Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.
India pips France to become world’s 6th largest economy
Context: India has now become world’s sixth-largest economy, pushing past France, according to the updated World Bank figures for 2017.
Large economies: The US remains the world’s largest economy followed by China, Japan, Germany and Britain.
India is reclaiming its place as a growth leader after a short slowdown. Just in the last decade, India has doubled the size of its economy outpacing that of France. While India’s GDP has risen by an average 8.3% over the decade, that of France’s actually declined by 0.01%. To add more perspective, in the past 10 years India’s GDP grew by 116.3% while France witnessed a 2.8% decline in GDP. Certainly, this tells us that India is gaining economic size consistently and is emerging as one of the powerhouses.
Why this position may not be significant?
When compared with $2.582 trillion for France, India’s GDP stood at $2.597 trillion at 2017 end. However, India has an estimated per capita income of $7,060 while France has $43,720, some six times more than that of India. India ranks at the 123th position when it comes to per capita income at PPP while France ranks at the 25th position. An average Indian is far poorer than the average Frenchman if one uses this yardstick.
The size of the economy is linked to the size of geography, its population, and workforce. India has a population of 1.34 billion while France has 67 million. If one talks about the prosperity of the people in an economy, PPP is the right metric to look at. One reason why India has a much lower PPP compared with France is the difference in population (per capita is the total size of the economy divided by the total number of people in that country).
Challenges ahead for India:
Employment scenario in the country is disturbing. Almost 80% of all Indians rely on the informal sector to make a living — a large chunk of them are still dependent on farming, the contribution of which to the economy has shrunk from 50% at the time of independence to 15-16% now.
- Output hasn’t increased but farming still constitutes one of the largest areas of employment. That’s one reason why the poor remain poor and live in distress. Even today, India doesn’t have solid payroll data but the unemployment rate is believed to be quite high. China, UK, and Germany have a 3-4% unemployment rate while France has close to a nine percent rate.
- Till recently, India was home to the largest number of poor in the world but it got rid of the dubious title. Nigeria has about 87 million people in extreme poverty, compared with India’s 73 million.
In April earlier this year, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) projected India to grow at 7.4% in 2018 and 7.8% in 2019, leaving its nearest rival China behind respectively at 6.6 and 6.4% in the two years. However, while debating a course correction, India will have to repair its fault lines even as it gains economic muscle.
- For Prelims: Large economies.
- For Mains: Real growth Vs Growth w.r.t size, reforms necessary to propel the growth engine.
Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology.
First-Ever Colour X-Ray On A Human
Context: New Zealand scientists have performed the first-ever 3-D, colour X-ray on a human, using a technique that promises to improve the field of medical diagnostics.
- The technique used is known as Medipix. The technology is developed by CERN.
- It works like a camera detecting and counting individual sub-atomic particles as they collide with pixels while its shutter is open. This allows for high-resolution, high-contrast pictures.
- The machine’s “small pixels and accurate energy resolution meant that this new imaging tool is able to get images that no other imaging tool can achieve. The images very clearly show the difference between bone, muscle and cartilage, but also the position and size of cancerous tumours, for example.
CERN is the world’s largest nuclear and particle physics laboratory, where scientists and engineers are probing the fundamental structure of the Universe by using the most sophisticated scientific instruments and advanced computing systems. CERN is based in Geneva on the French-Swiss border. Presently CERN has 22 member states, four associate member states, and the observer status is given to four states and three International Organizations.
For Prelims: First-Ever Colour X-Ray On A Human, Medipix, CERN.
Topic: Conservation related issues.
Context: As per the latest studies, climate change is threatening the Nilgiri tahr. It is estimated that the endangered wild goat could lose approximately 60% of its habitat, starting from the 2030s.
There are only around 2,500 tahrs left in the wild and their population — “small and isolated, making them vulnerable to local extinction” — shows a “decreasing” trend, as per the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Nilgiri Tahr- Key facts:
- IUCN status-
- It is listed in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972.
- Endemic to the Nilgiri Hills and the southern portion of the Western Ghatsin the states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala in Southern India.
- It is the State animal of Tamil Nadu.
- Currently, the only populations with more than 300 individuals are in Eravikulam National Park and in the Grass Hills in Anamalai.
Facts for Prelims:
- Drawing inspiration from the highly-successful ‘Amma’ canteens in Tamil Nadu, the Andhra Pradesh government has launched its own ‘Anna’ canteens across the state.
- The intention behind launching these canteens is to tackle hunger in urban areas. The canteens will offer breakfast, lunch and dinner at Rs 5 a meal.
In need of a practical plan: on judicial appointments
The Indian Judicial System is one of the oldest legal systems in the world today. It is part of the inheritance India received from the British after more than 200 years of their Colonial rule. The framework of the current legal system has been laid down by the Indian Constitution and the judicial system derives its powers from it.
There are various levels of judiciary in India—different types of courts, each with varying powers depending on the tier and jurisdiction bestowed upon them. They form a hierarchy of importance, in line with the order of courts in which they sit, with the Supreme Court of India at the top, followed by High Courts of respective states with District Judges sitting in District Courts and Magistrates of Second Class and Civil Judge (Junior Division) at the bottom.
Streamline the present examination process for the lower judiciary:
Recruitment to the lower judiciary has been under public scrutiny due to its failure to fill almost a quarter (23%) of vacancies that persist. The recruitment process of district judges is now the subject matter of a public interest litigation filed in the Supreme Court.
The matter has now come to a standstill given opposition by States to a centralised selection mechanism for judges.
This is not the first time that the Supreme Court has tried to streamline the examination process for the lower judiciary. In Malik Mazhar v. U.P. Public Service Commission (2008), it highlighted the importance of a prescribed time-schedule for judicial service examinations and laid down stage-wise time lines for lower judicial appointments — for civil judges (junior division) and district judges (direct recruitment) in 321 days and 183 days, respectively. An examination cycle is calculated from the date of notification to the last date for joining.
However, such a benchmark has three problems.
- First, the rationale behind arriving at this timelineis unclear.
- Second, it is an inaccurate benchmark to measure performanceas it does not consider different sanctioned strengths and State resources in conducting such exams.
- Third, strict adherenceto such timelines affects aspirants.
No coherent rationale: ‘one-size-fit-all’ timeline:
A clear timeline does ensure greater accountability. However, the Supreme Court offers no substantial justification for determining these timelines. From the order, it appears that these were based on suggestions from States and the amicus curiae in the case. With no clear, scientific principle or methodology offered, it ends up being a ‘one-size-fit-all’ timeline, which forces a comparison of States that are not similarly placed. This leads to the second issue.
A report by the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy on ‘Ranking Lower Court Appointments’ collated publicly available data on recruitment cycles undertaken by States (2007-2017).
The study covered direct recruitment of district judges and civil judges (junior division) and measured the performance of States in terms of the number of days taken (‘timeliness’) to complete a cycle, and the percentage of vacancies potentially filled.
But this timeline applies uniformly to States, regardless of sanctioned strengths. The timeliness measure in the report, when compared with data on sanctioned strengths in the lower judiciary, illustrates why this benchmark is inappropriate in measuring State performance.
To elaborate, States with lesser sanctioned strengths also see lower numbers of applicants and have a natural advantage in adhering to the timeline. Take the case of Himachal Pradesh and Maharashtra for example.
For civil judges, Himachal Pradesh and Maharashtra have a sanctioned strength of 62 and 1,118, respectively. Both must finish their recruitment cycles within 321 days. The study found that while Himachal could complete its cycle within an average of 178 days, it took 443 days for Maharashtra.
When benchmarked against the prescribed timeline, Himachal performs better than Maharashtra, but the comparison is unfair, given the wide variance in sanctioned strengths, and, therefore, the number of applicants.
The study also showed that of the top five jurisdictions on the timeliness metric for civil judges, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh (States) and Puducherry (Union Territory) have a sanctioned strength below 70. These States are quickest in completing recruitment cycles.
Evidently, the sanctioned strength influences the timeliness of the recruitment process.
Logistical difficulties: structural and functional capacities of States:
Clearly, this court-stipulated timeline does not account for the structural and functional capacities of States. While one assumes there is greater capacity in larger States, there is no reason to persist with this assumption without empirical verification.
More importantly, there is no methodological justification in prescribing a uniform timeline without accounting for different capacities in States.
The 120th Law Commission of India report on Manpower Planning in Judiciary, 1987, contained significant suggestions for reducing pendency and, for the first time, suggested a judge strength fixation formula. It suggested that the judge-population ratio in India be increased immediately from the then ratio of 10 judges to 50 judges per million.
Nearly 2.8 crore cases are pending in the district and subordinate courts across the country and there are only 16,874 judges to try them — that’s around 1,540 cases per judge.
Another issue is Gender gap in Judiciary, only 28% of lower judiciary judges in the country are women, a first-of-its-kind study by Delhi-based Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy has revealed.
The lack of gender diversity is not limited to the lower judiciary. The Supreme Court has only seen six women judges in its six decades of existence, and currently has one woman judge out of 25 judges.
In the 24 High Courts across the country, just over 10% judges are women.
The issue of vacancies and pending cases are ingrained with not just one problem but many. They are:
- Lack of judicial reforms.
- Lack of political will to reform judiciary in the aftermath of NJAC.
- Lack of proper management of judiciary by judicial officers.
- Lack of coordination between political executive and judiciary in finding common solution.
- Lack of consensus between executive and judiciary to find a common mechanism to appoint judges.
Conclusion: For present “Examination process for the Lower Judiciary”:
Finally, the prescribed timeline does not register potential problems for candidates. If the timeline is strictly implemented, aspiring candidates will find it impossible to appear for examinations in multiple States, potentially harming the career opportunities of candidates who are otherwise eligible for judicial service in multiple States.
While the idea of a definite timeline is undisputedly a good one, it should be flexible to suit the administrative and resource capacities of different States.
The Malik Mazhar guidelines could have easily ensured this by prescribing a standard which could be subject to State modifications rather than making them fixed. Currently, States can deviate from this timeline only by making an application to the Supreme Court. This curbs their flexibility.
Further, and more importantly, the court needs to adopt a more data-driven, methodological basis for such a timeline.
In a country like India where “JUSTICE” is the core principle of our constitution we cannot afford to deny justice to the people by not addressing the problems with the judiciary.
As the saying goes Justice delayed is Justice denied, government should stand by judiciary in helping to solve all the problems and find quick solution by providing sufficient structural resources needed.
Topic: population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.
Swachh Survekshan Grameen 2018
Context: Union Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation (MDWS) has launched Swachh Survekshan Grameen 2018 (SSG 2018).
About Swachh Survekshan Grameen:
SSG is a rural cleanliness survey to rank all states and districts on basis of qualitative and quantitative evaluation.
The objective of SSG 2018 is to undertake ranking of states and districts on basis of their performance attained on key quantitative and qualitative Swachh Bharat Mission-Grameen (SBM-G) parameters. The rankings will be based on taking into account set of comprehensive cleanliness parameters.
The criteria of SSG-2018 include survey of public places, citizens’ perspective of cleanliness, their recommendations and data from SBM-G. As part of it, 6,980 villages in 698 districts across India will be covered. It will cover total 34,000 public places namely schools, anganwadis, public health centres, haat/bazaars/religious places in these villages.
- The SSG 2018 will assign 65% weightage to findings and outcome and 35% to service level parameters to be obtained from Integrated Management Information System (IMIS) of the MDWS.
- The weights to different elements of SSG are direct observation of sanitation in public places (30%), citizen’s feedback on sanitation parameters (35%), service level progress on sanitation progress in the country as per SBMG-MIS (35%).
The SSG 2018 will be conducted by independent survey agency in all districts from 1st to 31st August 2018. It will also take feedback from over 50 lakh citizens on SBM related issues through direct interaction as well as online feedback. The top performing states and districts are expected to be awarded on 2nd October 2018.
- For Prelims: SSG Survey- criteria.
- For Mains: SSG- significance.
Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR)
Context: NCPCR has come up with a model fee regulatory framework for unaided private schools.
NCPCR has been receiving reports that children were being harassed by school administrations and that they considered committing suicide over the fee hike issue.
- The framework is for private unaided schools – which are 23% of the total schools in India and cater to 36% of the total population of children attending school.
- The framework is a model document that may be recommended to states where the fee regulation mechanism does not work effectively.
- According to the draft regulations, if a school violates the norms provided in the uniform fee framework, the respective government can bar the school from taking new admissions for the next academic year or impose fine equivalent to 10% of the total revenue generated by the school or society or trust in the preceding year.
- A 10% yearly cap on fee hike in private, unaided schools.
- Set up a district fee regulatory authority in states to monitor school fee increases.
- The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) was set up in March 2007 under the Commission for Protection of Child Rights Act, 2005.
- It works under the administrative control of the Ministry of Women & Child Development.
- The Child is defined as a person in the 0 to 18 years age group.
- The Commission’s Mandate is to ensure that all Laws, Policies, Programmes, and Administrative Mechanisms are in consonance with the Child Rights perspective as enshrined in the Constitution of India and also the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
- For Prelims: NCPCR- Statutory status and mandate of the commission.
- For Mains: Protection of vulnerable section of the society, need for regulation of fees.
Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Social Media Hub
Context: The Supreme Court has taken a strong note of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry’s decision to set up a social media hub for monitoring online data and said that it will be like creating a surveillance state. These observations were made by the court based on a petition filed.
Concerns over the proposed Social media hub:
- The petition alleged that though the stated aim of the project was to enable the government to understand the impact of social media campaigns on welfare schemes and improve the reach of such campaigns, the project had two aspects — “mass surveillance apparatus that aims at collecting and analysing huge volumes of data, and profiling people based on that” and “utilising this data to predict the mood of people online and issue responses, including those targeted at individuals or groups”.
- The social media analytical tool is expected to ‘listen’ to conversations on all major digital channels, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Tumblr, as well as blogs and news channels.
- Therefore, the petition contended that “such intrusive action on the part of the government, is not only without the authority of law, but also infringes fundamental right to freedom of speech under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution.” The move is violative of Articles 14, 19(1)(a) and 21.
What is Social media communication hub?
The hub proposes to monitor social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and even email) handles at the very local level in multiple languages to carry out “sentiment analysis”, track down the influence-making social media users and to categorise the conversations on social media into positive, negative and neutral sections.
It also aimed to track real time the way social media receives news on government’s schemes and announcements and also political events.
This information would help the government in formulating policies, schemes or rectify any flaws in their implementation at the ground level so that the ultimate beneficiary who is the common man is benefited and has a direct way to communicate any complaints regarding the same to the Government.
Social media managers:
As per the proposal, the project is meant to strengthen the social media division and recruit social media managers to be deployed in 712 districts of the country. Each district will have one social media manager who will be entrusted with the tasks of keeping a close eye on the regional and local media, collecting data of regional media and of local events, providing content for social media and supporting media units at the regional level for social media publicity.
Role of social media managers:
These social media managers will also monitor local editions of newspapers, local cable channels, local audio channels (FM) and key local social media handles for important local developments. They will make a daily analysis report incorporating local sentiments to be sent to region head in the PIB as well as the media hub (command centre).
The proposal to set up such a hub had turned controversial, as many called it an indirect measure to “snoop” on and influence voters.
- For Prelims: Social Media Hub- features and concerns, Social media managers- roles.
- For Mains: Controversy surrounding the proposed Social Media Hub.
Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology.
MeerKAT radio telescope
Context: South Africa has unveiled MeerKAT- a super radio telescope, a first phase of what will be the world’s largest telescope in a project to try to unravel the secrets of the universe. The telescope was inaugurated in the remote South African town of Carnarvon.
- MeerKAT is a followup to the KAT 7 (Karoo Array Telescope), built in the vast semi-desert Karoo region north of Cape Town to demonstrate South Africa’s ability to host the SKA. It will be the biggest radio telescope of its kind in the southern hemisphere.
- Built at a cost of 4.4 billion rand, MeerKAT will be incorporated into the complex Square Kilometre Array (SKA)instrument, which when fully operational in the late 2020s would be the world’s biggest and most powerful radio telescope.
- MeerKAT will address some of the key science questions in modern astrophysics – how did galaxies form, how are they evolving, how did we come to be here.
The SKA Project:
- The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project is an international effort to build the world’s largest radio telescope, with eventually over a square kilometre (one million square metres) of collecting area.
- The SKA will eventually use thousands of dishes and up to a million low-frequency antennas that will enable astronomers to monitor the sky in unprecedented detail and survey the entire sky much faster than any system currently in existence.
- Its unique configuration will give the SKA unrivalled scope in observations, largely exceeding the image resolution quality of the Hubble Space Telescope. It will also have the ability to image huge areas of sky in parallel a feat which no survey telescope has ever achieved on this scale with this level of sensitivity.
- Both South Africa’s Karoo region and Western Australia’s Murchison Shire were chosen as co-hosting locations for many scientific and technical reasons, from the atmospherics above the desert sites, through to the radio quietness, which comes from being some of the most remote locations on Earth.
- Whilst 10 member countries are the cornerstone of the SKA, around 100 organisations across about 20 countries are participating in the design and development of the SKA.
For Prelims and Mains: SKA and MeerKAT- objectives and key features.
Topic: Infrastructure- roadways.
Context: The 354-km Purvanchal Expressway project, the country’s longest, is on stream with the Uttar Pradesh government awarding the eight packages of the project to five companies — PNC Infratech Limited, Gayatri Projects, GR Infra, Oriental Structural Engineering and Apco Infra.
About Purvanchal Expressway:
- The project, which will connect Lucknow with Ghazipur, will start from Chand Sarai area near NH-56 in Lucknow and is estimated to cost around Rs 23,000 crore.
- It will also be connected to Varanasi through a separate link road.
- Once completed, the Purvanchal Expressway will provide uninterrupted connectivity to 9 districts of Lucknow, Ghazipur, Amethi, Ajamgarh, Faizabad, Barabanki, Mau, Ambedkar Nagar and Sultanpur.
- It would provide seamless access to the national capital Delhi via the 302-km long Lucknow-Agra expressway and the 165-km Agra-Greater Noida Yamuna Expressway.
- The Project is being implemented on Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) Mode.
- With the Construction of Purvanchal Expressway, accelerated convenient mode of Transportation shall be available between the Eastern boundary of the State and the National Capital via State capital through other similar Expressways in the State viz. ‘Agra to Lucknow Expressway’ and ‘Yamuna Expressway’.
- Being an Access Controlled Expressway, it would provide benefits like fuel saving, time saving and Control in Pollution level, along with reduction in accidents.
- The areas covered by this Expressway would be benefited in Social & Economical way. The agriculture, commerce, tourism and other industrial development will also get a fillip.
- Industrial Training Institutes, Educational Institutes, Medical Institutes, New Townships and other various Commercial set ups shall be developed, especially near the Expressway areas, which will result into more opportunities for employment in the region. The overall social/economic development in the state will get a boost.
- The proposed Expressway will prove to be a catalyst for development of the region and State.
- The proposed Purvanchal Expressway getting connected with existing Agra-Lucknow Expressway shall become a vast Industrial Corridor connecting Eastern boundary to Western boundary of the state which will result into overall development of the state.
What is EPC model?
- EPC is a model of contract between the government and private sector players for public infrastructure building. Under this system, the entire project is funded by the government.
- The EPC entails the contractor build the project by designing, installing and procuring necessary labour and land to construct the infrastructure, either directly or by subcontracting.
- Under EPC model the contractor is legally responsible to complete the project under some fixed predetermined timeline and may also involve scope for penalty in case of time overrun.
- Under EPC, all the clearances, land acquisition and regulatory norms have to be completed by the government itself.
- For Prelims: Purvanchal Expressway- Districts covered.
- For Mains: Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) Mode, need for Expressways and their significance.
Facts for Prelims:
Shwet Ashwa Drass Expedition:
What is it? Shwet Ashwa is the elite motorcycle display team of the Corps of Military Police.
Why in News? It has commenced a motorcycle expedition from Bengaluru to Drass as a tribute to the soldiers who laid down their lives during the Kargil war.
India a stakeholder in Korean peace: Modi
South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s visits to India and Singapore underscore his “New Southern Policy” (NSP),which gives priority to deepening bilateral relations with the ASEAN economies and India.
India and Korea have signed agreements covering a broad spectrum of areas, including Internet of Things (IOT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data and anti-dumping. A joint statement on the Early Harvest Package of the Upgraded Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) was exchanged.
The objective of the joint statement was to “facilitate ongoing negotiations on upgrading the India-Korea CEPA by identifying key areas for trade liberalisation”.
They signed 11 pacts to expand business ties and more than double bilateral trade to $50 billion by 2030.
India: A key stakeholder in Korean peace:
Modi made an oblique reference to North Korea’s linkages with Pakistan and hinted that this is a reason why India is a stakeholder in the peace process.
There is a proliferation linkage between North-East Asia and South Asia are a matter of concern to India. Therefore, India is also a stakeholder in the peace process. India highlighted that it will do their part to ensure peace.
India has been pressing for a probe into North’s nuclear links with Pakistan and demanding that those responsible for it be held accountable.
Meanwhile, South Korea appraised India about the prospect of denuclearisation of Korean Peninsula. Modi, in turn, credited Moon for South Korea’s peace breakthrough with North Korea and offered India’s support in taking that forward.
Bilateral and Commercial relations:
Trade, at $20 billion, is a fraction of the potential, given that India and South Korea are Asia’s third and fourth largest economies.
South Korea’s open market policies found resonance with India’s economic liberalization, and its ‘look east policy’ and ‘act east policy’. The relations has become truly multidimensional, spurred by a significant convergence of interests, mutual goodwill and high level exchanges
Economic engagement constitutes the core of our relations. South Korea is an economic powerhouse and has advanced technology in many sectors. India should have to leverage this.
The agreements signed between the two countries included pacts for speeding up negotiations to upgrade a‘comprehensive economic partnership agreement’ that was signed in 2009.
The two sides also wanted to step up their cooperation in health care, railways, artificial intelligence telecommunications and cyber security. More Korean companies will have to invest in India so that the foundation for mutual prosperity can be further expanded.
Bilateral trade rose by nearly a quarter to $20.8 billion in the year ending 31 March, with $16.4 billion of that in favour of South Korea. Korean majors like Samsung, LG, Hyundai and Kia have invested over $5 billion in India.
- Korea and India formally opened a new Samsung factory on the outskirts of Delhi which the company called the world’s biggest mobile phone manufacturing plant.
Capacity Building programmes:
The two countries also agreed to explore tripartite partnership for development in third countries, beginning with capacity building programmes in Afghanistan.
India already has close ties with Afghanistan and is helping to rebuild the war-ravaged country and recently New Delhi and Beijing had decided to work in this area in Afghanistan.
India and S. Korea: Vision Document to Boosting strategic cooperation:
The two sides also released a vision document articulating ways to boost their strategic cooperation and reaffirming convergence of their views in dealing with maritime conflicts, in a clear reference to China’s expansionist behaviour in critical sea lanes.
The vision document said the India and S. Korea also reaffirmed that terrorism cannot be justified on any grounds and sought coordinated regional and global efforts to tackle it.
The Korean side also supported India’s bid to become a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
Referring to disputes in the maritime sphere, the vision document said both Modi and Moon recognised the link between prosperity and security and reaffirmed the importance of freedom of navigation, overflight and unimpeded lawful commerce.
We supported initiatives for peaceful resolution of conflict through dialogue, underlying the centrality of sovereignty and territorial integrity, in accordance with the universally-recognised principles of international law.
South Korea and India will enhance military exchanges, training and experience-sharing, and research and development including innovative technologies for mutual benefit.
Both also agreed to encourage their defence industries to intensify cooperation in this regard.
The vision statement read, in a reference to discussions on encouraging Korean defence manufacturers to “Make in India”, one of whom, Hanhwa Techwin, has partnered with Larsen and Toubro to produce K-9 Vajra artillery guns for the Indian Army at a factory near Pune.
The bilateral vision document also committed to building a “peaceful, stable, secure, free, open, inclusive and rules-based region,” incorporating President Moon slogan of “3Ps: People, Prosperity and Peace”.
There is an urgent need to strengthen economic partnership. As a trade war unfolds between US and China, Delhi and Seoul need to liberalise their own bilateral trade relations.
The two sides also need to focus on expanding bilateral security and defence cooperation and working together with other countries to promote a stable Asian balance of power system.
Delhi and Seoul should focus on building flexible middle power coalitions in Asia to limit the impact of the current volatility in the relations between US and China.
The business community of both countries must leverage opportunities arising from complementarities between the two economies to enhance investment, to promote joint ventures, and to work towards the goal of raising bilateral trade to $50 billion by 2030″.
At a time when U.S. foreign policy is capricious and unpredictable, and China’s is making purposeful moves towards global domination, it is important that the South Korea-India partnership grows and consolidates, to contribute to stability in the region