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Prelims Booster

19th May – Prelims Booster

AMPHAN

The Very Severe Cyclonic Storm ‘AMPHAN’ (pronounced as UM-PUN) over central parts of South Bay of Bengal moved northwards with a speed of 9 mph over central parts of South Bay of Bengal near Paradip (Odisha), 1080 km south-southwest of Digha (West Bengal) and 1200 km south-southwest of Khepupara (Bangladesh).

About Cyclones –

  • Cyclones originate and intensify over warm tropical oceans.
  • These are ferocious storms that originate over oceans in tropical areas and move over to the coastal areas causing violent winds, very heavy rainfall, and storm outpourings.
  • They are known as – Cyclones in the Indian Ocean; Hurricanes in the Atlantic; Typhoons in the Western Pacific and the South China Sea, and; Willy-willies in Western Australia.

Formation of a cyclone –

  • The energy that strengthens the cyclonic storm comes from the condensation process in the towering cumulonimbus clouds, surrounding the centre of the storm.
  • With an uninterrupted supply of moisture from the sea, the storm is again strengthened.
  • On reaching the terrestrial region the moisture supply is cut off and the storm dissipates.
  • The place where a tropical cyclone cuts the coast is called the landfall of the cyclone.
  • Eye – A mature tropical cyclone is characterised by the strong spirally circulating wind around the centre which is called the eye. The eye is an area with calm weather descending air. It is characterised by light winds and clear skies.

National Migrant Information System

Government of India has allowed the movement of migrant workers by buses and ‘Shramik’ special trains to enable them to travel to their native places.

About National Migrant Information System –

  • In order to capture the information regarding movement of migrants and facilitate the smooth movement of stranded persons across States, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has developed an online Dashboard – National Migrant Information System (NMIS).
  • The online portal would maintain a central repository on migrant workers and help in speedy inter-State communication/co-ordination to facilitate their smooth movement to native places. It has additional advantages like contact tracing, which may be useful in overall COVID-19 response work.
  • The key data pertaining to the persons migrating has been standardised for uploading such as name, age, mobile no., originating and destination district, date of travel etc., which States are already collecting.
  • States will be able to visualise how many people are going out from where and how many are reaching destination States.The mobile numbers of people can be used for contact tracing and movement monitoring during COVID-19.

National Crisis Management Committee

A meeting of the National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC), chaired by the Cabinet Secretary was held recently to review the preparations for the impending cyclone over the Bay of Bengal.

About National Crisis Management Committee –

  • At the national level, Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) and National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) are the key committees involved in the top-level decision-making with respect to Disaster Management (DM). 
  • It deals with major crisis which have serious or national ramifications.
  • Oversee the Command, Control and Coordination of the disaster response.
  • Give direction to the Crisis Management Group (CMG) as deemed necessary.
  • Composition – Cabinet Secretary (Chairperson); Secretaries of Ministries / Departments and agencies with specific Disaster management responsibilities.

Pradhan Mantri Ujjawala Yojana

On the occasion of completing four years, Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas interacted with over 1500 beneficiaries, Gas distributors and OMC officers of the Pradhan Mantri Ujjawala Yojana.

About Pradhan Mantri Ujjawala Yojana –

  • The Scheme aims to provide free LPG connections to Women from BPL Households by providing financial support of Rs 1600 for each new LPG connection.
  • The identification of eligible BPL families will be made in consultation with the State Governments and the Union Territories based on the socio-economic and caste census data.
  • It aims to address serious health hazards associated with cooking based on fossil fuels. Non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer and Indoor air pollution causing acute respiratory illnesses in young children is addressed through this scheme.

Technology Development Board

Technology Development Board is proactively supporting the efforts of the scientists, technologists, entrepreneurs, and industrialists towards preventing and containing the spread of the COVID19 pandemic by providing financial support for commercialisation of these technologies.

About Technology Development Board –

  • The Government of India constituted the Technology Development Board (TDB) in September 1996, under the Technology Development Board Act, 1995, as a statutory body, to promote development and commercialisation of indigenous technology and adaptation of imported technology for wider application. The board consists of 11 Board members.
  • The TDB is the first organisation of its kind within the government framework with the sole objective of commercialising the fruit of indigenous research. The Board plays a pro-active role by encouraging enterprises to take up technology oriented products
  • Functions – It facilitates interaction between industry, scientists, technocrats and specialists; fosters and innovation culture through contract and cooperative research between industry and institutions, and ; provides an interface with financial institutions and commercial banks for leveraging funds.
  • The Fund has been receiving grants from the Government of India out of the cess collections from the industrial concerns under the provisions of the Research and Development Cess Act, 1986, as amended in 1995.

Domestic Defence Procurement

The government would make a separate budgetary provision for domestic defence procurements and bring out a negative import list for weapons and military platforms, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced recently.

Changes introduced –

  • The government will notify a list of weapons and platforms not allowed for import. They will have to be bought in India. Every year, this list will be increased as the capacity to make weapons that meet the necessary standards grows. Indigenisation of some imported spares will also be given priority.
  • While some of the state of the art weapons required by the Services would be met through imports, some that were produced in the country and met the standards have to be procured locally only. The negative list would be worked out in consultation with the Department of Military Affairs headed by the Chief of the Defence Staff.
  • The limit for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in defence through the automatic route has been raised from 49% to 74%. Earlier, 100% FDI was allowed on a case by case basis.
  • There will be corporatisation of the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) for autonomy, efficiency and accountability. It would not be privatised but it would eventually be listed on the stock market to improve transparency.

Draft Defence Procurement Procedure 2020 –

  • Indigenous Content (IC) stipulated in various categories of procurement has been increased by about 10% to support the ‘Make in India’ initiative.
  • Leasing has been introduced as a new category for acquisition in addition to existing ‘Buy’ & ‘Make’ categories to substitute huge initial capital outlays with periodical rental payments. Here, the lessor can be both Indian as well as global.
  • New Category (Buy Global – Manufacture in India) has been introduced with minimum 50% indigenous content on cost basis of total contract value.
  • There is also long-term product support — which would be three to five years after the warranty period is over.
  • A price variation clause” has been introduced that will be applicable to all cases where the total cost of contract is more than Rs 1,000 crore and the delivery schedule exceeds 60 months.

Northern Theatre Command

The proposed Northern theatre command along the border with China should also have a small Navy element in it as some of the naval systems are useful there, said the Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat.

What is a ‘theatre command’?

  • A theatre command is an organisational structure designed to control all military assets in a theatre of war to achieve military effects.
  • A joint command is called a ‘theatre command’ in military parlance (of army, air force and navy).
  • It places the resources of all forces at the command of a senior military commander.
  • For example a ‘theatre command’ in the North will integrate components of the IAF and the Army, and also have component of the Navy integrated with it.
  • At present, the only joint command is learnt to be in Andaman and Nicobar islands.
  • Kargil Review Committee, Shekatkar Committee have lamented on compartmentalised planning against external and internal threats with some ‘jointness’ envisaged at the highest levels. To combat disjointed and fragmented execution at the operational and lower levels, a theatre command becomes necessary.

FRBM Act

The Centre has agreed to demands from States to hike their borrowing limits from 3% to 5% of their GDP in light of the COVID-19 crisis, but on the condition that they implement specific reforms.

Details –

  • State governments have been given more fiscal room in the current crisis with the hiking of their borrowing limits from 3% to 5% of Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP), which is particularly important as GSDPs are likely to contract, further shrinking possible borrowing at a time when States are at the frontline of containment and relief operations.
  • However, the hiked limits will be conditional on States implementing reforms related to ration portability, ease of doing business, power distribution, and urban local bodies.

What is FRBM Act?

  • Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Act was enacted by Parliament in 2003 to progressively cut fiscal deficit to 3 percent levels by 2008.
  • Fiscal deficit is when the government’s expenditure outgrows its revenues. Controlling fiscal deficit, thus meant, controlling the government’s wasteful expenditure.
  • Thus, the FRBM Act put limits on the fiscal and revenue deficit of the country by setting targets for both. These targets were to be monitored through the year by setting mid-year targets.
  • The government was to provide make a medium-term fiscal policy statement, fiscal policy strategy statement and macro-economic framework statement to Parliament.

Escape Clause –

‘Escape clause’ generally refers to a contract provision that specifies the conditions under which a party can be freed from an obligation. The escape clause under the FRBM (Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management) Act details a set of events in which the Central government can deviate from fiscal deficit targets. In 2018, the FRBM Act was amended to specify three conditions upon which the escape clause can be invoked.

  • First, over-riding considerations of national security, acts of war, and calamities of national proportion and collapse of agriculture severely affecting farm output and incomes.
  • Second, far-reaching structural reforms in the economy with unanticipated fiscal implications.
  • Three, a sharp decline in real output growth of at least 3 percentage points below the average for the previous four quarters. The FRBM amendments also mentioned that the deviation from the stipulated fiscal deficit target must not exceed 0.5 percentage points in a year.

However, these relaxations (escape clause) is not applicable for the states. Hence, the states have to rely on the consent of the Union Government to breach the limits of fiscal deficit which is pegged at 3% for them.

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