PM awarded the 2018 Seoul Peace Prize
Topic: Awards and Honours
In news: The Seoul Peace Prize Committee has decided to confer the 2018 Seoul Peace Prize on Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, in recognition of his dedication to improving international cooperation, raising global economic growth, accelerating the Human Development of the people of India by fostering economic growth in the world’s fastest growing large economy and furthering the development of democracy through anti-corruption and social integration efforts.
More on the topic:
- The Committee lauded PM’s initiatives to make the government cleaner through anti-corruption measures and demonetization.
- The Committee also credited Prime Minister for his contribution towards regional and global peace through a proactive foreign policy with countries around the world and the ‘Act East Policy.’
- Prime Minister Modi is the fourteenth recipient of this award.
About Seoul Peace Prize:
- The Seoul Peace Prize was established in 1990 as a biennial recognition with monetary award to commemorate the success of the 24th Summer Olympic Games held in Seoul, Korea, an event in which 160 nations from across the world took part, creating harmony and friendship.
- The Seoul Peace Prize was established to reflect the wishes of the Korean people and to crystallize their desire for everlasting peace on earth. The nominating group consists of 300 Korean nationals, and 800 internationals. The awardee receives a diploma, a plaque and honorarium of US$200,000.
Priority is for public health, says court
Topic: Polity and Governance
In news: The Supreme Court on Tuesday refrained from imposing a complete ban on firecrackers, even while emphasising that the right to health of millions is far more important than averting an economic loss to the firecracker industry.
More on the Topic:
- The court acknowledged that the State actually suffered an equal, if not greater, economic loss if a hazardous industry or bursting of crackers ended up causing a rash of ailments in the community.
- The firecracker industry, strongly backed by the Tamil Nadu government, had argued that there was no definite study to show that bursting of crackers worsened the air quality during festivals such as Deepavali. They argued that a ban will harm the employees who are working in the fire work industry.
- The judgment said though the right to health was part of the fundamental right to life under Article 21 and assumed “greater importance,” the “endeavour” of the court right now was to strive for a balance between the right to public health and the right to occupation of the industry.
About Article 21:
- Article 21 reads that “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to a procedure established by law”.
- This right has been held to be the heart of the Constitution, the most organic and progressive provision in our living constitution, the foundation of our laws.
- In Sunil Batra v. Delhi Administration[ii], the Supreme Court reiterated with the approval the above observations and held that the “right to life” included the right to lead a healthy life so as to enjoy all faculties of the human body in their prime conditions.
- It would even include the right to protection of a person’s tradition, culture, heritage and all that gives meaning to a man’s life. It includes the right to live in peace, to sleep in peace and the right to repose and health.
- In Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India[iii], the Supreme Court gave a new dimension to Art. 21 and held that the right to live the right to live is not merely a physical right but includes within its ambit the right to live with human dignity.
CAG questions RBI’s role as NPA crisis was brewing
Topic: Indian Economy
In news: Comptroller and Auditor General of India questioned the role of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) during the time when the banks were “going berserk with their lending”, leading to the high levels of NPA.
The NPA Problem:
- Non-performing assets (NPAs) are a key concern for banks in India. They are the best indicator of the health of the banking industry.
- Public sector banks have displayed excellent performance and have beaten the performance of private sector banks in financial operations. However, the only problem of these banks is the increasing level of nonperforming assets, year by year.
- On the contrary, the NPAs of private sector banks have shown a decline. A reduction in NPAs shows that banks have strengthened their credit appraisal processes over the years. The increase in NPAs shows the necessity of provisions, which bring down the overall profitability of banks.
- Therefore to improve the efficiency and profitability of banks, NPAs need to be reduced and controlled. A high degree of NPAs suggests high probability of a large number of credit defaults that affect the profitability and liquidity of banks.
- Under the circumstances, the role of credit rating agencies also needs to be relooked at and brainstormed over. We need to devise a way forward to ensure that rating agencies put forth an improved mechanism to keep a check.
CAG of India
- The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India is an authority, established by Article 148 of the Constitution of India, which audits all receipts and expenditure of the Government of India and the state governments, including those of bodies and authorities substantially financed by the government.
- The CAG is also the external auditor of Government-owned corporations and conducts supplementary audit of government companies, i.e., any non-banking/ non-insurance company in which Union Government has an equity share of at least 51 per cent or subsidiary companies of existing government companies.
- The reports of the CAG are taken into consideration by the Public Accounts Committees (PACs) and Committees on Public Undertakings (COPUs), which are special committees in the Parliament of India and the state legislatures.
- The CAG is also the head of the Indian Audit and Accounts Department, the affairs of which are managed by officers of Indian Audit and Accounts Service.
BRICS Nations on Environmental Cooperation
Topic: Organisations in News
IN NEWS: The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its ex-post facto approval for Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed among the BRICS Nations on Environmental Cooperation.
More on the Topic:
- The MoU will enable establishment and promotion of closer and long-term, cooperation between the BRICS countries in the field of environment protection and management of natural resources on the basis of equity, reciprocity and mutual benefits, taking into account the applicable Jaws find legal provisions in each country.
- The MoU acknowledges the responsibility of the BRICS nations, an association of the five major economies of the world i.e. Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa comprising of more than 40% of the population of the world, towards the protection, preservation and sustainability of the Environment.
- The Memorandum of Understanding is expected to bring in the latest technologies and best practices suited for bringing about better environment protection, better conservation, and better management of climate change and wildlife protection/conservation.
- The MoU shall facilitate exchange of experiences, best practices and technical knowhow through both public and private sectors among the participating BRICS nations and shall contribute to sustainable development, protection and preservation of Environment.
- The Memorandum of Understanding also provides the possibility to have projects in areas of mutual interest.
- BRICS is the acronym coined for an association of five major emerging national economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
- Originally the first four were grouped as “BRIC” (or “the BRICs”), before the induction of South Africa in 2010.
- The BRICS members are known for their significant influence on regional affairs; all are members of G20.Since 2009, the BRICS nations have met annually at formal summits.
- Bilateral relations among BRICS nations have mainly been conducted on the basis of non-interference, equality, and mutual benefit.
National Monitoring Framework on Sustainable Development Goals
Topic: Social Justice
In news: The Union Cabinet approved the constitution of a High Level Steering Committee for periodically reviewing and refining the National Indicator Framework (NIF) for monitoring of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with associated targets.
More on the topic:
- The High Level Steering Committee will be chaired by Chief Statistician of India and Secretary, Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI), with the Secretaries of data source Ministriesand NITI Aayogas members and Secretaries of other related Ministries as special invitees, with function of reviewing of National Indicator Framework including refinement of the indicators from time to time.
Millennium Development Goals:
- At the Millennium Summit held in 2000 at the UN Headquarters in New York, eight development goals known as the ‘Millennium Development Goals’ (MDGs) were adopted, which formed the blueprint for countries to pursue their national development strategies from 2000 to 2015.
- The MDGscomprised eight Goals and addressed various development issues. The MDGs targets were unevenly achieved across the countries and a need was felt to start fresh discussions to assess the usefulness of the MDGs and to explore possible successor to guide development cooperation in the world beyond 2015.
- The UN General Assemblyin its 70thSession considered and adopted the Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs) for the next 15 years.
- The 17 SDGs came into force with effect from 1stJanuary, 2016.Though not legally binding, the SDGs have become de facto international obligations and have potential to reorient domestic spending priorities of the countries during the next fifteen years.
- Countries are expected to take ownership and establish a national framework for achieving these Goals. Implementation and success will rely on countries’ own sustainable development policies, plans and programmes.
- Countries would be responsible for follow-up and review at the national level, with regard to the progress made in implementing the Goals and targets. Actions at the national level to monitor progress under SDGs will require quality, accessible and timely data.
Fisheries and Aquaculture Infrastructure Development Fund (FIDF)
Topic: Indian Economy
In news: The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by the Prime Minister has given its approval for creation of special Fisheries and Aquaculture Infrastructure Development Fund (FIDF).
More on the Topic:
- FIDF would provide concessional finance to State Governments / UTs and State entities, cooperatives, individuals and entrepreneurs etc., for taking up of the identified investment activities of fisheries development.
- Under FIDF, loan lending will be over a period of five years from 2018-19 to 2022-23 and maximum repayment will be over a period of 12 years inclusive of moratorium of two years on repayment of principal.
- The approval entails an estimated fund size of Rs.7,522 crore, comprising Rs.5,266.40 crore to be raised by the Nodal Loaning Entities (NLEs), Rs. 1,316.6 crore beneficiaries contribution and Rs.939.48 crore budgetary support from the Government of India.
- National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), National Cooperatives Development Corporation (NCDC) and all scheduled Banks (hereinafter referred as Banks) shall be the nodal Loaning Entities.
Benefits of Creation of the Fund:
- Creation of fisheries infrastructure facilities both in marine and Inland fisheries sectors.
- To augment fish production to achieve its target of 15 million tonne by 2020 set under the Blue Revolution; and to achieve a sustainable growth of 8% -9% thereafter to reach the fish production to the level of about 20 MMT by 2022-23.
- Employment opportunities to over 9.40 lakh fishers/fishermen/fisherfolk and other entrepreneurs in fishing and allied activities.
- To attract private investment in creation and management of fisheries infrastructure facilities.
- Adoption of new technologies.
The International Conference on Status and Protection of Coral Reefs (STAPCOR – 2018)
Topic: Environment and Ecology
In news:The International Conference on Status and Protection of Coral Reefs (STAPCOR – 2018) with the theme “Reef for Life” was inaugurated by the Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climat at Bangaram coral Island of Union Territory of Lakshadweep.
- The Administration, U.T. of Lakshadweep had organized two STAPCOR Conferences in 1998 and 2008 in support of the deliberations as International Year of the Reefs in 1997 and 2008. The hosting of STAPCOR–2018 is in commemoration with the third International Year of the Reef (IYOR 2018).
- The International Year of the Reef-2018 is designed to raise awareness about the importance of, and the threats to, coral reefs and associated ecosystem. It further draws plans to promote partnerships between governments, the private sector, academia and civil society, and share information on best practices for the sustainable coral reef management.
Importance of Coral Reef:
- Coral reefs are treasure troves of the world seas. No other ecosystem on Earth is as valued for their aesthetics and biodiversity as coral reefs, which are currently facing severe threat of depletion of great consequences for their immensely rich biodiversity.
- Status of world reefs indicates that it has lost more than half of their coral cover over the last two decades due to direct or indirect anthropogenic pressures associated with climate-change mediated bleaching that is increasing to huger dimensions to become “one of the great tragedies of the modern world.
- Protection of coral reefs in our marine environment is possible only through a “collective will” to curtailing the rate of progression of global warming, as alongside it requires field-level implementations of science-based policies with a view with a view to conserving the biodiversity and ecosystem benefits.