Daily Current Affairs and MCQs for UPSC - September 08, 2020 (The Hindu, Economic Times, PIB)

Letter of Undertaking issued by IREDA, PFC & REC in lieu of Bank Guarantees for Earnest Money Deposit (EMD)

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.


Context

Shri R K Singh, the Minister for New & Renewable Energy and Power has approved a proposal for acceptance of Letter of Undertaking issued by IREDA, PFC & REC in lieu of Bank Guarantees for Earnest Money Deposit (EMD) by SECI, NTPC and NHPC in the case of tenders/biddings for developing Renewable Energy (RE) projects in the country.

About Payment on Order instrument

  • 'Payment on Order instrument’ means Letter of Undertaking from Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency Limited (IREDA) or Power Finance Corporation Limited (PFC) or REC Limited (REC) [the three non-banking financial institutions under Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE)/ Ministry of Power (MoP)], to pay in case situation of default of RE power generator in terms of tender conditions and /or Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) arises. Such Letter(s) will have same effect as that of a Bank Guarantee issued by any public sector bank.
  • Such "Payment on Order instrument" would have terms and conditions similar to that of any Bank Guarantee given by any public sector bank and would promise to pay the Procurer on demand within stipulated time.

About the Highlights

  • RE power generators can seek such Letters(s) by offering due security to the above mentioned three non-banking financial institutions (IREDA, PFC & REC).
  • The communication further mentions, “the above decisions may be treated as amendments to the respective Standard Bidding Guidelines (SBG) (solar/ wind) and notified accordingly.”
  • The three non-banking financial institutions – IREDA or PFC or REC may issue such Letter(s) of Undertaking/ ‘Payment on Order instrument’ to pay as per their policy, on merits and after due diligence.
  • This decision of the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy will go a long way in ensuring Ease of Doing Business in RE sector as the developers will now have one more option in fulfilling the tender requirement.

Source: PIB.

Trial run on new river route connecting Bangladesh with Tripura starts

Focus: GS2.

Topic: India and its neighbourhood- relations.


Context

  • The Ministry of Shipping has directed all major ports to procure or charter tug boats which are only made in India.
  • All procurements being done by major ports will now need to be carried out as per the revised Make in India Order.
Background
  • Shipping Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said, it is a step towards bolstering the revival of Indian Ship building and a big move towards AatmaNirbhar Shipping in AatmaNirbhar Bharat.
  • He said, the government will try to create an ecosystem for shipbuilding, ship repair, ship recycling and flagging in India. 

About the Highlights

  • The Ministry is aiming to promote Indian shipbuilding industry and also have discussion with some leading countries for Make in India shipbuilding.
  • This decision of the Government will be a big move towards realizing Make in India in shipbuilding.
  • The Ministry will to set up a Standing Specifications Committee under Managing Director, Indian Ports Association and comprising representatives from Cochin Ship Yard Limited, Shipping Corporation of India, Indian Register of Shipping and Director General of Shipping.
  • The committee will shortlist around five types of tugs and prepare a Approved Standardized Tug Design and Specifications.

Source: AIR News.

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RBI revises PSL guidelines; Bank loans to start-ups to get priority sector tag

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.


Context

  • Reserve Bank of India has revised Priority Sector Lending guidelines.
  • RBI said the move is aimed at addressing regional disparities in the flow of priority sector credit.

Background

  • In the revised guidelines, higher weightage have been assigned to incremental priority sector credit in identified districts where priority sector credit flow is comparatively low.
  • Bank finance to start-ups up to 50 crore rupees, loans to farmers for installation of solar power plants for solarisation of grid connected agriculture pumps and loans for setting up Compressed Bio Gas plants have been included as fresh categories eligible for finance under priority sector.

About the highlights

  • Priority sector loans refer to loans that banks need to mandatorily lend to economically weaker sections of the society.
  • Also, the targets prescribed for “small and marginal farmers” and “weaker sections” are being increased in a phased manner, the RBI said.
  • The RBI also said loan limits for renewable energy have been increased under the revised guidelines.
  • For improvement of health infrastructure, credit limit for health infrastructure (including those under ‘Ayushman Bharat’) has been doubled, the RBI said.

Source: AIR News.

India now got world’s 2nd largest road network

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.


Context

  • India has now the second largest road network in the world being fuelled by the tremendous growth in construction of expressways and highways.
  • Road, Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari said this while addressing the 60th annual convention of SIAM through video conference.

Background

  • The current rate of road building per day has averaged to 30 Kilometre a day, with the highest being 40 Kilometre per day of highways.
  • Mr Gadkari expressed confidence over achieving Road safety targets in near future.
  • He said, the automobile industry has progressed a lot in that direction.

About the Highlights

  • The Minister noted that vehicle manufacturers have implemented regulations crucial to vehicle safety such as crash norms, airbags, seat belt reminder and reverse parking assist.
  • These regulations have brought the auto industry in India at par with the global auto industry.

Source: AIR News.

Act of God

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.


Context

  • The Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown imposed across the globe to contain the spread of the virus has resulted in major disruptions in economic activity.
  • Businesses are looking towards a legal provision — the force majeure or “Act of God” clause that has its origins in the Napoleonic Code — to cut losses.
Background
  • This week, attributing the shortfall in GST collections to disruptions due to Covid-19, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the economy is facing an Act-of-God-like situation.
  • On February 19, The Finance Ministry had issued an office memorandum inviting attention to the force majeure clause (FMC) in the 2017 Manual for Procurement of Goods issued by the Department of Expenditure clarifying that the pandemic “should be considered a case of natural calamity and FMC may be invoked, wherever considered appropriate”.

About Force Majeure Clause

  • The law of contracts is built around a fundamental norm that the parties must perform the contract.
  • When a party fails to perform its part of the contract, the loss to the other party is made good.
  • However, the law carves out exceptions when performance of the contract becomes impossible to the parties.
  • A force majeure clause is one such exception that releases the party of its obligations to an extent when events beyond their control take place and leave them unable to perform their part of the contract.
  • FMC is a clause that is present in most commercial contracts and is a carefully drafted legal arrangement in the event of a crisis.
  • When the clause is triggered, parties can decide to break from their obligations temporarily or permanently without necessarily breaching the contract.
  • Companies in such situations use the clause as a safe exit route, sometimes in opportunistic ways, without having to incur the penalty of breaching the contract.
  • Generally, an “Act of God” is understood to include only natural unforeseen circumstances, whereas force majeure is wider in its ambit and includes both naturally occurring events and events that occur due to human intervention. However, both concepts elicit the same consequences in law.

Source: Indian Express.

Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu calls for well-strategized collective action to ensure well-being of young children

Focus: GS2.

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources, issues relating to poverty and hunger.


Context

  • Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu called for a well-strategized collective action on multiple fronts to ensure well-being of young children for India to take full advantage of demographic dividend.
  • Releasing ‘The State of Young Child in India’ report, a comprehensive account of the challenges related to early child development in India, Mr Naidu said, child development should be the foundation of our development architecture. 

Background

  • Underlining the importance of ensuring healthy, happy, caring and playful early years for children for their holistic development, he observed that adequate nutrition and positive caring environment at home play an important role in a child’s development.
  • Mr Naidu pointed out that the years from birth until the age of five were critical.

About the report

  • The Vice President said, for healthy development, children should grow up in an environment where their emotional, social, educational and other needs are fully met.
  • He said, educated and healthy people with a good foundation in the early years contribute to the financial and social wealth of their societies.
  • Pointing out that poor nutrition hampers physical as well as intellectual development of children, Mr Naidu said it would make them vulnerable to illness and affect their performance in school.
  • He said, there is a need to understand the crucial importance of this aspect of national development and take effective steps to ensure all children have a healthy start to their lives.
  • Quoting from the report, the Vice President said that of the 159 million children aged below 6 years in India, 21 per cent are undernourished, 36 per cent are underweight and 38 per cent do not receive full immunization.
  • He said, these figures underline the crucial importance to invest in early childhood for realizing the full potential in later years.

About the Highlights

  • Referring to several comprehensive policies and flagship programmes like the ICDS and India’s conscious efforts to meet international commitments like the UN Convention on Rights of the Child, UNCRC, he said the challenges are still huge and need to be addressed.
  • Shri Naidu said it is important for all stakeholders, including the government, policy makers and civil society organizations to intensify their efforts in ensuring the well-being of the young child through better policies and effective programmatic interventions.
  • Maintaining that the children are our future, the Vice President said, we should take care of them. He emphasised the need for uplift of the last man in the true spirit of Antyodaya as espoused by Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay.
  • The report has been prepared by Mobile Creches a policy advocacy organisation which works with the underprivileged children across India.  
  • Appreciating the report, Mr Naidu said that such reports help in policy formulation by developing greater understanding of the shortcomings and urgent needs of the children.

Source: AIR News.

Teacher’s Day

Focus: GS1.                                 

Topic: Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues.


Context

  • The President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, has greeted teachers across the country on the eve of Teachers’ Day.
  • In a message, the President has said, "with great pleasure, I extend my heartfelt greetings and felicitations to teachers throughout the country. We celebrate the Teachers’ Dayon the birth anniversary of one of the greatest teachers of modern times and my illustrious predecessor, Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan.

About Teachers Day

  • In India, Teachers’ Day is celebrated annually on September 5 to mark the birthday of the country’s former President, scholar, philosopher and Bharat Ratna awardee, Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, who was born on this day in 1888.
  • The significance of this day is ever-evolving, including taking lessons from life and making your experiences the teachers you needed to shape you into who you become.
  • For school students, the day also means getting roses, chocolates, gifts including handmade cards to profess their affection for their favourite teachers.
  • For senior students, Teacher’s day is one of role reversal and celebration.

About Dr Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan

  • Dr Radhakrishnan was the first Vice President of India (1952–1962) and went on to become the second President of India (1962-1967).
  • He was born in the erstwhile Madras Presidency near the Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu border.
  • Being a bright student, he completed his education by winning scholarships, despite lack of finances.
  • After completing his MA in Philosophy in 1908, Dr Radhakrishnan taught the subject at Madras Presidency College.
  • He then held the post of Vice-Chancellor of Andhra University from 1931 to 1936, followed by Vice-Chancellor of Banaras Hindu University (BHU) in 1939, succeeding Madan Mohan Malviya.
  • He was knighted in 1931, and was awarded the Bharat Ratna -- the highest civilian award in India in 1954.
  • He was made an honorary member of the British Royal Order of Merit in 1963.
  • The story behind Teachers’ Day goes that when Dr Radhakrishan took the office of the second President of India in 1962, his students approached him to seek permission to celebrate September 5 as a special day.
  • Dr Radhakrishnan instead made a request of them to observe September 5 as Teachers’ Day, to recognise the contribution of teachers to the society.

Source: Indian Express.

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Test your Knowledge

  1. Consider the following statements wrt National Institute of Tribal Research:
  1. The National Institute of Research in Tribal Health (NIRTH), Jabalpur is one of the 30 health research institutes working under the aegis of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
  2. It is under the Ministry of Tribal Affairs.
  3. The new National Institute of Tribal Research should also have an educational wing to educate students on tribal development and tribal art & culture.

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

      A. 1 and 2 only
      B. 2 and 3 only
      C. 1 and 3 only
      D. AOTA

Solution: B

2. Consider the following:

  • It is under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.


The International Day of Charity is observed in order to commemorate the anniversary of the passing away of:

      A. Nelson Mandela
      B. Mother Teresa
      C. Jawaharlal Nehru
      D. Gandhiji

Solution: B

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