The Union Cabinet has approved Submission of India's second Biennial Update Report (BUR) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change towards fulfillment of the reporting obligation under the Convention.
The scope of BUR is to provide an update to India's first BUR to UNFCCC. The BUR contains five major components — National Circumstances; National Greenhouse Gas Inventory; Mitigation Actions; Finance, Technology and Capacity Building Needs and Support Received and Domestic Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) arrangements.
A summary of India's national GHG inventory of 2014 is provided in the table below:
CO2 equivalent (Gg)
Industrial Process and Product Use
Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF)**
TOTAL without LULUCF
TOTAL with LULUCF
**negative emission value implies sink action i.e. net carbon removal from the atmosphere
* 1 Gigagram (Gg) = 109 grams; Greenhouse gases are converted to CO2 equivalents (CO2e or CO2eq) using their respective Global Warming Potentials.
Submission of India's Second BUR will fulfill the obligation of India to furnish information regarding implementation of the Convention, being a Party.
India is a Party to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The Convention, in accordance with its Article 4.1 and 12.1, enjoins upon all Parties, both developed country Parties and developing country Parties to furnish information, in the form of a National Communication regarding implementation of the Convention.
Key words: UNFCCC-BUR, Climate Change, Paris Accord
National Commission for Homoeopathy, Bill, 2018
The Union Cabinet has approved the draft National Commission for Homoeopathy, Bill, 2018, which seeks to replace the existing regulator Central Council for Homoeopathy (CCH) with a new body to ensure transparency.
· The draft bill provides for the constitution of a National Commission with three autonomous boards entrusted with conducting overall education of Homoeopathy by Homoeopathy Education Board.
· The Board of assessment and rating to assess and grant permission to educational institutions of Homoeopathy and Board of ethics and registration of practitioners of Homoeopathy to maintain National Register and ethical issues relating to practice are under the National Commission for Homoeopathy.
· It also proposes a common entrance exam and an exit exam which all graduates will have to clear to get practicing licenses.
· Further, a teacher's eligibility test has been proposed to assess the standard of teachers before appointment and promotions.
· It further aims at bringing reforms in the medical education of Homoeopathy in lines with the National Medical Commission proposed for setting up for Allopathy system of medicine.
Key words: CCH, National Commission for Homoeopathy, Bill, 2018
National Commission for Indian Systems of Medicine
The Cabinet approved the draft National Commission for Indian Systems of Medicine (NCIM) Bill, 2018, which seeks to replace the existing regulator Central Council for Indian Medicine (CCIM) with a new body to ensure transparency.
· The draft bill provides for the constitution of a National Commission with four autonomous boards entrusted with conducting overall education of Ayurveda, under Board of Ayurveda and Unani, Siddha &Sowarigpa under Board of Unaini, Siddha and Sowarigpa.
· There are two common Boards namely, Board of assessment and rating to assess and grant permission to educational institutions of Indian systems of Medicine and Board of ethics and registration of practitioners of Indian systems of medicine to maintain National Register and ethical issues relating to practice under the National Commission for Indian Medicine.
· It also proposes a common entrance exam and an exit exam, which all graduates will have to clear to get practicing licenses.
· Further, a teacher's eligibility test has been proposed in the Bill to assess the standard of teachers before appointment and promotions.
· The draft bill is aimed at bringing reforms in the medical education of Indian medicine sector in lines with the National Medical Commission proposed for setting up for Allopathy system of medicine.
· The proposed regulatory structure will enable transparency and accountability for protecting the interest of the general public. The NCIM will promote availability of affordable healthcare services in all parts of the country.
Key words: National Commission for Indian Systems of Medicine, NCIM, Medical Education
Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification, 2018
The Union Cabinet has approved the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification, 2018.
The proposed CRZ Notification, 2018 will lead to enhanced activities in the coastal regions thereby promoting economic growth while also respecting the conservation principles of coastal regions. It will not only result in significant employment generation but also to better life and add value to the economy of India. The new notification is expected to rejuvenate the coastal areas while reducing their vulnerabilities.
Allowing FSI as per current norms in CRZ areas:
As per CRZ, 2011 Notification, for CRZ-II (Urban) areas, Floor Space Index (FSI) or the Floor Area Ratio (FAR) had been frozen as per 1991 Development Control Regulation (DCR) levels. In the CRZ, 2018 Notification, it has been decided to de-freeze the same and permit FSI for construction projects, as prevailing on the date of the new Notification. This will enable redevelopment of these areas to meet the emerging needs.
Densely populated rural areas to be afforded greater opportunity for development:
For CRZ-III (Rural) areas, two separate categories have now been stipulated as below:
(a) CRZ-III A - These are densely populated rural areas with a population density of 2161 per square kilometre as per 2011 Census.
Such areas shall have a No Development Zone (NDZ) of 50 meters from the HTL as against 200 meters from the High Tide Line stipulated in the CRZ Notification, 2011 since such areas have similar characteristics as urban areas.
(b) CRZ-III B - Rural areas with population density of below 2161 per square kilometre as per 2011 Census.
Such areas shall continue to have an NDZ of 200 meters from the HTL.
Tourism infrastructure for basic amenities to be promoted:
Temporary tourism facilities such as shacks, toilet blocks, change rooms, drinking water facilities etc. have now been permitted in Beaches. Such temporary tourism facilities are also now permissible in the "No Development Zone" (NDZ) of the CRZ-III areas as per the Notification. However, a minimum distance of 10 m from HTL should be maintained for setting up of such facilities.
CRZ Clearances streamlined:
The procedure for CRZ clearances has been streamlined. Only such projects/activities, which are located in the CRZ-I (Ecologically Sensitive Areas) and CRZ IV (area covered between Low Tide Line and 12 Nautical Miles seaward) shall be dealt with for CRZ clearance by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. The powers for clearances with respect to CRZ-II and III have been delegated at the State level with necessary guidance.
A No Development Zone (NDZ) of 20 meters has been stipulated for all Islands:
For islands close to the main land coast and for all Backwater Islands in the main land, in wake of space limitations and unique geography of such regions, bringing uniformity in treatment of such regions, NDZ of 20 m has been stipulated.
All Ecologically Sensitive Areas have been accorded special importance:
Specific guidelines related to their conservation and management plans have been drawn up as a part of the CRZ Notification.
Pollution abatement has been accorded special focus:
In order to address pollution in Coastal areas treatment facilities have been made permissible activities in CRZ-I B area subject to necessary safeguards.
Key words: CRZ, Shailesh Nayak Committee, Tourism, Livelihood
The Union Cabinet has approved the Gaganyaan Programme with demonstration of Indian Human Spaceflight capability to low earth orbit for a mission duration ranging from one orbital period to a maximum of seven days.
A human rated GSLV Mk-lll will be used to carry the orbital module which will have necessary provisions for sustaining a 3-member crew for the duration of the mission.
The total fund requirement for the Gaganyaan Programme is within Rs.10,000 crore and includes cost of technology development, flight hardware realization and essential infrastructure elements. Two unmanned flights and one manned flight will be undertaken as part of Gaganyaan Programme.
· Gaganyaan Programme will establish a broader framework for collaboration between ISRO, academia, industry, national agencies and other scientific organizations.
· It will allow pooling in of diverse technological and industrial capabilities and enable broader participation in research opportunities and technology development benefitting large number of students and researchers.
· The flight system realization will be through Industry.
· It is expected to generate employment and train human resources in advanced technologies.
· It will inspire large number of young students to take up science and technology careers for national development.
· Gaganyaan Programme is a national effort and will involve the participation of the Industry, Academia and National Agencies spread across the length and breadth of the country.
· The programme is expected to spur research and development within the country in niche science and technology domains.
· Huge potential for technology spinoffs in areas such as medicine, agriculture, industrial safety, pollution, waste management, water and food resource management etc.
· Human spaceflight programme will provide a unique micro-gravity platform in space for conducting experiments and test bed for future technologies.
· The programme is expected to give impetus to economic activities within the country in terms of employment generation, human resource development and enhanced industrial capabilities.
· Human Spaceflight capability will enable India to participate as a collaborating partner in future Global space exploration initiatives with long term national benefits.
ISRO has completed the development of launch vehicle GSLV Mk-lll which has the necessary payload capability to launch a 3-member crew module in low earth orbit. ISRO has also tested the crew escape system which is an essential technology for human space flight. The aerodynamic characterization of crew module has been completed as part of GSLV Mk-lll X mission flight. Elements of life support system and Space suit also have been realized and tested. In addition, the orbital & re-entry mission and recovery operations have been flight demonstrated in Space Capsule Re-entry experiment (SRE) mission. ISRO has developed and demonstrated most of the baseline technologies essential for undertaking human spaceflight mission. Globally also, there is a renewed interest in undertaking manned exploration initiatives.
Key words: Gaganyaan, Manned Space Flight, ISRO
Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012
Why in News
The government approved amendments to the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012, to bring punishments for sexual assaults on boys on a par with those against girls.
· It includes the provision of death penalty when the child is under 12 years and when a penetrative sexual assault is committed by a relative.
· The Union Cabinet approved changes to Section 6 of the POCSO Act, which deals with punishments for aggravated penetrative sexual assault, enhancing the punishment of 10 years to life imprisonment and 20 years to imprisonment for remainder of a person’s natural life or with death.
· This category of offence includes assault on a child under the age of 12 years, gang rape, assault on a mentally or physically challenged child or one that is committed by a relative or a custodian of a child.
· The government has also amended the definition of aggravated penetrative sexual assault to include an offence that causes the death of a child. The minimum punishment for penetrative sexual assault has been increased from seven years in jail to 10 years.
According to National Crime Record Bureau data as many as 94.6% of total crimes under the POCSO Act as well as Section 376 are committed either by relatives or acquaintances.
Following the outrage over the gang rape of a minor girl at Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir, the government had brought an ordinance in April and followed it up by passing a Bill in Parliament during the monsoon session to amend the Indian Penal Code.
· The changes included death penalty for gang rape of a girl under 12 years and 20 years in jail or death penalty for rape of a girl under 12 years.
· Provisions were also added to provide imprisonment for the rest of one’s natural life for gang rape of a girl under 16 years, while rape of a girl in the same age bracket would be punishable with jail of minimum 20 years upto life imprisonment.
However, the absence of these changes to POCSO Act , 2012, which deals with sexual crimes against both girls and boys, meant that same offences committed against boys carried lighter punishments. The Present changes will address these anomalies.
Key words: POCSO Act 2012, Child Abuse, Child Pornography
India will support Bhutan’s development needs by providing Rs 4,500 crore, Prime Minister announced
· India will provide Rs 4,500 crore for Bhutan’s 12th five-year plan. This contribution will be processed according to Bhutan’s preferences and necessities.
· Bhutan remains one of the key recipients of development assistance from India.
· India provided Rs 4,500 crore for the 11th five year plan that lasted between 2013 and 2018.
· To share the benefit of the South Asian Satellite, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is moving ahead with plans to set up a ground station in Bhutan that will help in telemedicine, disaster relief and climate trends.
Key words: India-Bhutan, South Asian Satellite, Development Cooperation
Trends and Progress of Banks in 2017-18
Why in news
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) releaed its annual ‘Trends and Progress of Banking in 2017-18’ report.
· In the report, it pointed out to the revival in credit growth in the first half of current financial year, and said, overall improvement in the health of the banks is on the cards.
What the report says?
· Credit to industry — which constitutes the major share in the aggregate — has picked up steam after depressed conditions in the previous year.
· These developments augur well for the banks and other financial intermediaries in the economy as they struggle to regain the momentum lost in the preceding six years.
· Regarding banks under the prompt corrective action framework, the report said those lenders have shown improvement in the share of current and savings account deposits and increased recoveries from NPAs, while reducing riskiness of assets.
· The balance sheet expansion of commercial banks between 2012-13 and 2017-18 had been slow due to an increase in stressed assets but during the first half of the FY19 growth returned to the balance sheet bolstered by recovery in loan books.
· The central bank reiterated its stand that relaxing capital requirements was not in the best interests of the economy as current levels of provisions maintained by banks may not be enough to cover expected losses.
· While gross NPA ratio of public sector banks reached 14.6% in 2017-18, there was a significant decline in fresh slippages across bank groups during the first half of 2018-19.
Keywords: Trends and Progress of Banking in 2017-18, NPA, PCA
Decline in NPAs
Why in news?
According to the latest Finance Ministry data, various initiatives taken by the government have yielded results, with the bad loans of public sector banks declining by over ₹23,000 crore from a peak of ₹9.62 lakh crore in March 2018.
· At the same time, public sector banks (PSBs) have also made a record recovery of ₹60,726 crore in the first half of the current financial year, which is more than double the amount recovered in the corresponding period last year.
· Non-NPA accounts overdue by 31 to 90 days (Special Mention Accounts 1 & 2) of PSBs have declined by 61% over five successive quarters — from ₹2.25 lakh crore as of June 2017 to ₹0.87 lakh crore in September 2018.
Keywords – bad loans of PSBs, Ministry of Finane data.