October 2019

Daily Current Affairs (24-10-19)

 PRADHAN MANTRI INNOVATIVE LEARNING PROGRAMME-DHRUV

Related Topics: Government Schemes & Initiatives, Innovation

News

Vice President of India attended the valedictory function of Pradhan Mantri Innovative Learning Programme-DHRUV and felicitated the meritorious students selected for the programme.

What is DHRUV?

  • The programme was launched by Union Human Resource Development Minister at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) campus in Bengaluru on October 10, 2019.
  • It is a unique initiative of the Ministry of Human Resources Development.
  • The objective of the program would be to allow talented students to realize their full potential and contribute to society.

Benefits to Students

  • It will identify and encourage talented children to enrich their skills and knowledge.
  • In centres of excellence across the country, gifted children will be mentored and nurtured by renowned experts in different areas, so that they can reach their full potential.
  • It will act as a platform to explore the talent of outshining and meritorious students, and help them achieve excellence in their specific areas of interest may it be science, performing arts, creative writing, etc.
  • It is expected that many of the students selected will reach the highest levels in their chosen fields and bring laurels to their community, State and Nation.

DHRUV TARA

  • The programme ‘DHRUV’ is named after the ‘Pole Star’ and every student will be called as ‘DHRUV TARA’.
  • The students will thus both shine through their achievements and light a path for others to follow.

First batch of DHRUV programme

  • The first batch of ‘DHRUV’ consisted of 60 students, 30 of who are exceptionally talented in Science and 30 of who are outstanding performing artists.
  • To begin with, two arease. Science and Performing Arts were covered.
  • A 14 days programme was organized for these students in which the science and performing arts students were separated into two groups.
  • The 60 students came from across the country.
  • The students have been broadly chosen from classes 9 to 12, from all schools including government and private.
  • This is only the first phase of the programme and will be expanded gradually to other fields like creative writing.

Significance

  • The programmes like DHRUV will make India a better place for innovation.
  • The new innovators will be helpful for the Nation to achieve the target of 5 Trillion Dollar economy in stipulated time.
[Source: PIB]

 

MERGER OF BSNL AND MTNL

Related Topics: Mergers and Acquisitions, Telecom Sector

News

  • Union Cabinet approved a package worth nearly ₹70,000 crore in an effort to revive the state-owned telecommunication companies Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telecom Nigam Ltd (MTNL).
  • The Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister also gave an in-principle nod for the merger of the two entities.
  • Both the companies are reeling under the pressure of mounting losses and increasing competition in the sector.
  • MTNL provides telephony services in Delhi and Mumbai, while BSNL is present in the rest of the circles in the country.

Package approved by the Cabinet

Administrative allotment of spectrum for 4G services to BSNL and MTNL

  • The Spectrum will be funded by the Government of India by capital infusion in these PSUs at a value of Rs 20,140 Cr.
  • In addition, the GST amount of Rs 3,674 Cr to this spectrum value will also be borne by the Government of India through Budgetary resources.
  • By using this spectrum allotment, BSNL and MTNL will be able to deliver 4G services, compete in the market and provide high speed data using their vast network including in rural areas.

Debt restructuring by raising of bonds with sovereign guarantee

  • BSNL and MTNL will raise long-term bonds of Rs 15,000 Cr for which sovereign guarantee will be provided by the Government of India (GoI).
  • With the said resources, BSNL and MTNL will restructure their existing debt and also partly meet CAPEX, OPEX and other requirements.

Reducing employee costs

  • BSNL and MTNL will offer Voluntary Retirement to their employees, aged 50 years and above through attractive Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS), the cost of which will be borne by the Government of India through budgetary support.
  • The ex-gratia component of VRS is expected to entail an additional Rs 17,169 crore, and the details of the scheme will be finalised by the two companies shortly.
  • BSNL and MTNL put together have employee base of around 90 lakh employees (1.68 lakh and 22,000), and around 50 per cent of the total employees are eligible for the VRS.

Monetisation of assets

The two companies will monetise their assets worth Rs 38,000 crore so as to raise resources for retiring debt, servicing of bonds, network upgradation, expansion and meeting the operational fund requirements.

In-principle approval of merger of BSNL & MTNL

  • An immediate merger will not be feasible, given that MTNL is a listed entity.
  • Till the time the process is completed, MTNL will work as a subsidiary of BSNL.

Current Financial Position

Significance

  • BSNL and MTNL are strategic assets of India.
  • They are most cooperative in situations of natural calamities and disasters.
  • The entire Army network is managed by BSNL.
  • Most of the bank networks are also managed by BSNL.
  • They are neither being closed or disinvested or hived off to a third party. By merger, the government intends to make these companies competitive and bring in professionalism.

Background

  • The revival package for the two PSUs comes at a time when the telecom sector is facing financial stress due to stiff competition and reduction in tariffs.
  • The competition in the mobile segment, high employee costs and absence of 4G services (except in a few circles for BSNL) in the data-centric telecom market has progressively eroded the competitive strength of BSNL and MTNL.
  • BSNL has been reporting losses continuously since 2009-10. The loss is estimated to surge to Rs 14,202 crore in 2018-19, according to information presented in Parliament.

[Source: PIB, The Hindu, Indian Express]

 

GUIDELINES FOR GRANTING AUTHORIZATION TO MARKET TRANSPORTATION FUELS

Related Topics: Government Policies & Interventions, Ease of Doing Business

News

  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) chaired by Prime Minister has approved the Review of Guidelines for Granting Authorization to market Transportation Fuels.
  • This marks a major reform of the guidelines for marketing of petrol and diesel.

Need for the Reform

  • The existing policy for granting authorization to market transportation fuels had not undergone any changes for the last 17 years since 2002.
  • It has now been revised to bring it in line with the changing market dynamics and with a view to encourage investment from private players, including foreign players, in this sector.

Salient features

  • Non-oil companies can also invest in the retail sector, regardless of whether they have prior investments in the oil and gas sector.
  • The entities seeking authorisation will need a minimum net worth of ₹250 crore vis-à-vis the current requirement of ₹2,000 crore of prior investments in the sector.
  • The entities seeking market authorisation for petrol and diesel are allowed to apply for retail and bulk authorisation separately or both.
  • The companies have been given flexibility in setting up a joint venture or subsidiary for market authorization.
  • The newly authorised entities will have to install facilities to market at least one new generation fuel such as CNG, LNG, biofuels, electric charging, within three years of the outlet being operationalised.
  • The authorised entities are required to set up minimum 5% of the total retail outlets in the notified remote areas within 5 years of grant of authorisation.

Impact

  • More private players, including Foreign players, are expected to invest in retail fuel marketing leading to better competition and better services for consumers
  • The new entities will bring in latest technology for marketing of fuels and also encourage digital payments at the ROs.
  • It will boost direct and indirect employment in the sector.
  • Entities will also encourage employment of women and ex-servicemen at the retail outlets.
  • The new Policy will give a fillip to ‘Ease of Doing Business’, with transparent policy guidelines.
[Source: PIB, The Hindu]

 

FACTS OF THE DAY

MoU BETWEEN INDIA AND ST. VINCENT & THE GRENADINES
  • Union Cabinet has given ex post-facto approval to the proposed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and St. Vincent & the Grenadines on cooperation in the field of Traditional Systems of Medicine.
  • The MoU will provide a framework for cooperation between the countries for the promotion of traditional systems of medicines and will mutually benefit the two countries in the said field.
  • Activities mentioned in the MoU will boost the importance of AYUSH Systems of Medicine in St. Vincent & the Grenadines.
  • As a consequence of the MoU, exchange of experts for training of the practitioners and scientists undertaking collaborative research in Traditional Systems of Medicine are expected to lead to new innovations in drug development and practice of Traditional Medicine.
MoU BETWEEN INDIA AND KUWAIT
  • Union Cabinet has approved the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for capacity building and strengthening the accounting, financial and audit knowledge base in Kuwait.
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) and Kuwait Accountants and Auditors Association (KAAA) will work together to hold and conduct technical events, seminars and conferences in Kuwait for the benefit of both organizations’ members and development of their professional expertise.
  • CAI and KAAA shall work together for establishing possible cooperation in respect of Corporate Governance, technical research and advice, quality assurance, forensic accounting, issues concerning Small and Medium-sized Practices (SMPs), Islamic Finance, Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and other subjects of mutual interest
  • AAA and ICAI will collaborate to offer short-term professional courses in the domain of accounting, finance and audit in Kuwait for Kuwaiti nationals and members of the ICAI.
  • The aim of the MoU is to work together to develop a mutually beneficial relationship for the best interest of ICAI members, students and their organizations.
VT-NMD (Narendra Modi Devendra)
  • VT-NMD (Narendra Modi Devendra), India’s first experimental aircraft received the permit for a flight test from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
  • The aviation regulatory body has given a conditional permit to first fly for 10 hours out of the required 40, below 10,000 ft.
  • Amol Yadav, a former Jet Airways and now Spicejet pilot, developed the 6-seater aircraft over six years on his terrace in Kandivali.
  • He first displayed the aircraft at the Make in India week in 2016 after which it was parked in a hangar at Dhule airport.
  • Yadav through his Thrust Aircraft Private Ltd has already signed a ₹35,000 crore deal with the Maharashtra government to build over 1,300 aircraft (19-seater) in multiple phases.
SKILLS DELIVERY PLATFORM KERALA (SDPK)
  • Kerala Chief Minister has launched the Skills Delivery Platform Kerala, a project to link engineering colleges with the industry through tele presence network, with an aim to enhance their skill sets and employability.
  • This state- of-the-art technology enabled learning platform will connect 150 Hi-Tech classrooms in the Engineering colleges in the State of Kerala and shall impart skill training to around 50,000 students every year.
  • This skill database which will have the students profile will help industries to conduct placement drive for fresh Engineering graduates.
  • Through SDPK, skills training will be given in emerging areas like Blockchain and Internet of Things.
  • The platform brings together the students to interact with domain experts and industry leaders in an immersive, interactive, virtual classroom.
  • Coconics, the laptop developed by the new public-private company, will be used for this platform.
  • The platform was launched as part of the government’s aim to change the old practices in the engineering education sector using modern technology.
  • This will channelise the students’ interests towards the industry, which will be able to conduct courses to impart skill sets, which they require in these institutions.
  • The Kerala State IT Infrasturcture Limited, Additional Skill Acquisition Programme (ASAP), ICT Academy, and the APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University are working together for the programme.
UNITED NATIONS DAY
  • UN Day marks the anniversary of the entry into force of the UN Charter in 1945.
  • With the ratification of this founding document by the majority of its signatories, including the five permanent members of the Security Council, the United Nations officially came into being.
  • 24 October has been celebrated as United Nations Day since 1948.
  • The United Nations was founded in 1945 to support collective action to realize peace, development and human rights for all.

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