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Prelims Booster

25th August – Prelims Booster

Dedicated Freight Corporation of India Limited

It is expected that Western Corridor of the Dedicated Freight Corridor – connecting Dadri in Uttar Pradesh to Jawaharlal Nehru Port (JNPT) in Mumbai and Eastern Corridor starting from Sahnewal near Ludhiana (Punjab) to terminate at Dankuni in West Bengal shall be completed by December, 2021.

Details –

  • Dedicated Freight Corridors (DFC) is one of the largest rail infrastructure projects undertaken by the Government of India. The overall cost is pegged at Rs 81,459 crores.
  • DFCCIL has been set up as a special purpose vehicle to undertake planning, development, mobilisation of financial resources, construction, maintenance and operation of Dedicated Freight Corridors.
  • In the first phase the organisation is constructing the Western DFC (1504 Route km) and Eastern DFC (1856 route km) spanning a total length of 3360 route km.

About Dedicated Freight Corridor –

  • The Dedicated Freight Corridor, touted as one of the biggest infrastructure projects in the country, is a 3,360 km stretch consisting of the Eastern and Western corridors.
  • The Eastern corridor, which is being funded by the World Bank, will run from Ludhiana in Punjab to Dankuni near Kolkata, traversing Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand.
  • The centre, built at Prayagraj, will be the ‘nerve-centre’ of the over 1,800 km-long eastern (DFR) and will be used as a one-stop shop for controlling and monitoring rail systems, including train operations and the power supply system.
  • The project will eventually be linked to the Western DFC to form four hubs known as India’s Golden Quadrilateral including Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata.
  • The Western Corridor of the Dedicated Freight Corridor – connects Dadri in Uttar Pradesh to Jawaharlal Nehru Port (JNPT) in Mumbai

Newly approved freight corridors –

  • East-West Dedicated Freight Corridor, 2,000 km-long from Kolkata to Mumbai
  • North-South Dedicated Freight Corridor, 2,173 km long from Delhi to Chennai
  • East Coast Dedicated Freight Corridor, 1,100 km long from Kharagpur to Vijayawada
  • South-West Dedicated Freight Corridor, 890 km-long from Chennai to Goa, this DFC goes through Bangalore-Chennai Industrial Corridor promoted by Japan & India and as a part of Bangalore-Mumbai Economic corridor promoted by UK & India.

About Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India –

  • The DFCCIL is a corporation run by the Ministry of Railways (India) to undertake planning & development, mobilisation of financial resources and construction, maintenance and operation of the Dedicated Freight Corridors.
  • DFCC has been registered as a company under the Companies Act 1956 in the year 2006.

National Council for Transgender Persons

In exercise of the powers conferred by section 16 of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019, the Central Government has constituted a National Council for Transgender Persons.

Structure –

  • The Union Minister of Social Justice & Empowerment will be Chairperson (ex-officio) and Union Minister of State for Social Justice & Empowerment will be Vice-Chairperson (ex-officio).
  • The other members of the Council include representatives of various Ministries/Departments, five representatives of transgender community, representatives of NHRC and NCW, representatives of State Governments and UTs and experts representing NGOs.
  • A Member of National Council, other than ex officio member, shall hold office for a term of three years from the date of his nomination.

Functions –

The National Council shall perform the following functions, namely—

  • to advise the Central Government on the formulation of policies, programmes, legislation and projects with respect to transgender persons;
  • to monitor and evaluate the impact of policies and programmes designed for achieving equality and full participation of transgender persons;
  • to review and coordinate the activities of all the departments of Government and other Governmental and non-Governmental Organisations which are dealing with matters relating to transgender persons;
  • to redress the grievances of transgender persons; and
  • to perform such other functions as may be prescribed by the Central Government.

BIS standard for drinking water supply

The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has prepared a draft standard for the supply system of piped drinking water and has invited comments from water utilities, including the Delhi Jal Board (DJB), on it.

Labelled ‘Drinking water supply quality management system — requirements for piped drinking water supply service’, the draft has been prepared by the BIS’ Public Drinking Water Supply Services Sectional Committee. It outlines the process of water supply, from raw water sources to household taps, and has been developed keeping in view the Centre’s Jal Jeevan Mission for providing safe and adequate drinking water to all rural households by 2024 through tap connections.

What does the draft say?

  • The draft outlines the requirements for a water supplier or a water utility on how they should establish, operate, maintain and improve their piped drinking water supply service.
  • The process begins with identification of a water source, which can either be groundwater or surface water sources such as rivers, streams or reservoirs. It doesn’t mention how water utilities should treat the water, but states that the process should be planned in such a manner that after treatment the drinking water should conform to the Indian Standard (IS) 10500 developed by the BIS.
  • The IS 10500 outlines the acceptable limit of various substances in drinking water, including heavy metals such as arsenic, and other parameters like the pH value of water, its turbidity, the total dissolved solids in it, and the colour and odour.
  • The draft standard also contains guidelines for top management of the water utility, in terms of accountability and customer focus, establishing a quality policy for their service, monitoring the quality of water released to people, and conducting a water audit.

Other key highlights of the draft –

  • The document also states that the concept of district metering area (DMA) should be adopted where possible. DMA is a concept for controlling leakages in the water network, which is essentially divided into a number of sectors, called the DMAs, and where flow meters are installed to detect leaks.
  • The draft also mentions that water should be sampled at the treatment plant every four hours against quality parameters. In the distribution system, the sampling should be done every eight hours at the water reservoirs. Random sampling should also be done at household levels.

Superapps

Tata Group is planning to launch an all-in-one super app soon.

What are super apps?

  • A super app is a platform developed by a company offering various services under one umbrella. For example, China’s WeChat, which started out as a messaging app, expanded into payments, cabs, shopping, food ordering, cab services to become a super app.
  • A physical world comparison of a super app would be a mall, which allows retail space to various brands and shops across businesses and verticals.

Who makes super apps?

Typically, companies that have a slew of services and products to offer tend to consolidate these offerings into a super app.

Concerns –

  • The very concept of a conglomerate trying to keep a customer within its own ecosystem for most services they might require increases the possibility of a monopoly.
  • This is in addition to concerns of privacy in cases where a super app has onboarded third-party service providers.
  • Experts pointed out that data collected by the master app could then be used to train machines in artificial intelligence and predict consumer behaviour even more accurately.

Hawala System

Recently, India has arrested a Chinese businessman for cheating and living in India on a forged Indian passport and facilitating Hawala transactions in India.

What is ‘Hawala System’?

  • In Hawala, a client in country A (e.g. Rahman in USA) hands over a sum of money to a Hawaladar (USA) and requests that the equivalent amount (usually in the currency of the receiving country) be sent to a designated recipient in country B (Hamid in India).
  • The sending broker relays all the necessary information concerning the transaction to a counterpart broker in country B, either through telephone, facsimile, or email. At this stage of the process, a “collection code” is agreed upon between the two brokers. The broker in country A will then communicate this code to the client, who, in turn, will relay it to the designated recipient in country B.
  • The broker in country B will give the money to the recipient upon presentation of the collection code. If the sending client is also the recipient, he would have to present the code to the counterpart broker, upon arriving in country B before the money could be released to him.

In many cases, the payment will be made by the counterpart broker to the designated recipient within hours after the request to remit money was placed by the client in country A. The income of the broker from the transaction may come from charging a commission of 0.25% to 1.25% of the amount involved or from disparities in currency exchange rates.

Why Hawala is attractive?

  • The Hawala system is advantageous for all the elements involved in the transaction. For users, the charges levied are very low by the hawala operator. A formal remitter charges the sender approximately 10-20% of the total amount transferred whereas a hawaladar will typically charge 0.25%-1.5% commission.
  • Hawala reaches to remote locations. Formal remitters provide service to larger population centres while hawala provides better and responsive services to large population centres as well as remote areas of the world.
  • Hawala transmits money more quickly than other formal systems. Transfers initiated by formal remittance agencies typically take days or weeks, whereas hawala transactions are conducted within hours with even home pick-up and delivery services.
  • Hawala has very simple identification procedures to receive or transmit the system. Recipients must present identification when receiving transfers at a formal agency, whereas hawala only requires an anonymous code for the receipt of funds.

Tracking and following money travelling through hawala is the most challenging proposition for national and international agencies involved in counter terrorism financing efforts. In addition, money launderers are drawn to hawala for the unparalleled confidentiality that they offer, allowing them to conduct transactions in near anonymity.

Why Hawala thrives in India?

  • India does not have appropriate provisions to deal with hawala since the repeal of Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA). In fact, India has among the weakest Foreign Exchange Management Act, (FEMA) 1999, hawala is only a civil offence and persons violating its provisions are penalised with fine up to three times the amount detected in a contravention. This is a grossly inadequate deterrence to terrorists indulging in hawala for their sustenance and operation.
  • Criminals find it difficult to use formal channels due to strict foreign-exchange laws, transaction reporting requirements and the banking industry’s diligence policy. Therefore, large proportion of the illegal money is laundered through Hawala or Hundi.
  • The hawala market is linked with entrenched national and international gangs. These gangs have made inroads into the socio – political system of the country because of which the law enforcers sometimes are hamstrung in prosecuting the Hawaladars, especially the big players. (Example – Hassan Ali case)
  • Hawala is also linked to criminal activities. Former director of Criminal Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has stated, “Hawala has become a channel for drugs trade, arms trade, human trafficking, and legalising kickbacks.” While India’s formal money transfer system and banking sector is well regulated, the informal sector goes unattended and unaddressed.

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