Government e Marketplace (GeM)
Paper 2 - ease of governance & paper 4 - Transparency
- GeM is an online platform for public procurement in India.
- The initiative was launched on August 9, 2016 by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India with the objective to create an open and transparent procurement platform for government buyers.
- The platform is owned by GeM SPV (Special Purpose Vehicle) which is a 100 per cent Government-owned, non-profit company under the Ministry of Commerce and Industries, Government of India.
- GeM is a contactless, paperless and cashless online marketplace that replaced the Directorate General of Supplies and Disposals (DGS&D) in 2016.
- GeM has brought in the visibility and transparency in public procurement.
- The portal has transformed public procurement in India by driving its three pillars, namely, inclusion, usability and transparency and efficiency and cost savings.
Why in News?
- Indian Medicines Pharmaceutical Corporation Limited (IMPCL), the public sector manufacturing unit of the Ministry of AYUSH will be selling its products online on Government e-Market (GeM) portal.
- With this decision of GeM, the Ayurvedic and Unani medicines of IMPCL will figure on the GeM portal to hundreds of government sector buyers, at prices finalised by Ministry of Finance, Department of Expenditure.
- This will facilitate quick procurement of these medicines by Central/State Government institutions for their healthcare programmes.
- Thus, this tie-up between GeM & IMPCL also helps to streamline the procurement and distribution of Ayurvedic and Unani medicines by State Units.
- The thousands of patients and other clients who visit Government AYUSH hospitals every day will be majorly benefitted because of this increased availability of such medicines even in far-flung Ayush Hospitals and Clinics.
Source: PIB + https://gem.gov.in/ + Wikipedia
War in Yemen
GS paper 2- International Relation
- The Houthis, in their 2004 conflict against the government, accused Saudi Arabia of pressuring Yemeni President “Ali Abdullah Saleh” to crack down on their community and of funding him with $25 billion USD. of Saleh,
- The Houthi–Saudi Arabian conflict is an ongoing armed conflict between the royal Saudi armed forces and Yemeni Houthi forces that has been taking place in the Arabian Peninsula, including the southern Saudi regions of Asir, Jizan, and Najran, and northern Yemeni governorates of Saada, AL-Jawf, and Hajjah, since the onset of the Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen in 2015. Over the course of the conflict the Houthis have carried out attacks on military bases and outposts in Saudi Arabia.
Why in News?
- President Joe Biden end the U.S.’s support for Saudi Arabia’s six year long war on Yemen.
- He halted weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, appointed a Special Envoy for Yemen, and removed the Shia Houthi rebels, who control the north western parts of the Arab country, from the list of foreign terrorist organisations.
How Yemen crisis may affect India
- One of India’s most important shipping routes passes through the Gulf of Aden, accounting for imports of $50 billion and exports of $60 billion every year, according to the shipping ministry.
- The route is so important that the Indian Navy has maintained a presence in the Gulf of Aden since 2008 to protect Indian vessels and the Indian crew of ships flying the flags of other countries.
- The situation in Yemen may lead to one less country supporting India at the UN and less trade and interaction with the region further unrest in Yemen could impact the movement of shipping given that country’s strategic location abutting the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea.
- There are also reports that the people of Indian origin are living in fear because of the turmoil and fighting.
- An escalation of the conflict in Yemen could also lead to unrest in southern Omani province of Dhofar as some of the tribes involved in the fighting straddle the border between the two countries.
- Yemen is home to some 80,000 to 1,00,000 people of Indian origin, descendants of communities from Gujarat and Kerala who settled there in the 19th century when the region was ruled by the British. These people are now Yemeni citizens.
HISTORY OF INDIA AND YEMEN
- India and Yemen have deep rooted trade relations and people-to-people contact going back several centuries. When the region, then known as Aden, became part of the British empire in 1839, it was governed by the Bombay Presidency. A garrison of 2,000 Indian soldiers was deployed in Aden as part of efforts to guard the southern entrance to the Red Sea.
- Indian nationals, including Hindus, Muslims and Parsis, have lived in Aden since the mid-1880s. Many traders became Yemeni citizens and Dhirubhai Ambani, the founder of the Reliance Group, began his business career in Aden.When the British withdrew from Aden in 1967, many Indians returned to India but a large number of members of the Bohra, Khoja and Kachchi communities stayed behind and became Yemeni citizens.
Source: BBC & Hindustan Times
8- phase West Bengal Elections
Paper 2 - Election Reforms
Why in News?
- The Election Commission of India (ECI) announced an unprecedented eight-phase election schedule for the 294-seat West Bengal Assembly starting from March 27 2021 and going on till April 29 2021. About 7,32,94,980 electors will exercise their franchise across 1,01,916 polling booths.
- Interestingly, several districts in Bengal such as South 24 Parganas, North 24 Parganas, East Midnapore, West Midnapore and others will go for polling in multiple parts, a rare phenomenon in Bengal’s history.
Advantages of Elections in multiple phases
- More phases mean better and adequate distribution of adequate central forces with utmost importance on maintaining law and order situation.
The EC sent 125 companies of CAPF to the state for confidence-building measures and the political parties had to make a submission to ensure a violence-free election.
- To stop the movement of anti-social elements from the same district, the election in several districts will be held in two to three parts especially in sensitive areas in a particular district and in constituencies where poll violence is most probable.
Challenges for the commission
- As poll campaigning will go on in one part of the state and polling in another part, inter-state and inter-district borders will remain open.
This will pose the risk of anti-social elements from other districts entering a poll-bound district.
- According to the poll panel, such a prolonged election schedule was required due to-
- The buffer for movement of security forces and
- An increased number of polling stations keeping in mind the Covid-19 protocols.
Source: The Indian Express + The Hindu
INSTC - The International North–South Transport Corridor
Paper 2 : International Relation
- The International North–South Transport Corridor (INSTC) is a 7,200-km-long multi-mode network of ship, rail and road route for moving freight between India, Iran, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Russia, Central Asia and Europe via ship, rail and road. The objective of the corridor is to increase trade connectivity between major cities such as Mumbai Moscow, Tehran, Baku, Bandar Abbas, Astrakhan, Bandar Anzali, etc. and is to reduce costs in terms of time and money over the traditional route currently being used.
Why in News?
- India wants Chabahar port to be included in the 13- nation International North South Transport Corridor that extends from India to Russia, and expand INSTC membership by including Afghanistan and Uzbekistan.
- Pitching for Chabahar in the INSTC which goes via Iran’s biggest port Bandar Abbas, the land route via Kabul and Tashkent would form the INSTC’s “Eastern corridor” would maximise its potential.
President Joe Biden end the U.S.’s support for Saudi Arabia’s six year long war on Yemen. this will help India to improve ties with Iran now.
Source: The Hindu + PIB + Wikipedia
GS Paper 3 - Science & Tech
Where to use: Question related to ‘Challenges related to information. Broadcasting services’
- An over-the-top (OTT) media service is a streaming media service offered directly to viewers via the Internet. OTT bypasses cable, broadcast, and satellite television platforms, the companies that traditionally act as a controller or distributor of such content.
- It has also been used to describe no-carrier cellphones, where all communications are charged as data.
- The term is most synonymous with subscription-based video-on-demand (SVoD) services that offer access to film and television content. OTT also encompasses a wave of "skinny" television services that offer access to live streams of linear specialty channels, similar to a traditional satellite or cable TV provider, but streamed over the public Internet, rather than a closed, private network with proprietary equipment such as set-top boxes.
- Over-the-top services are typically accessed via websites on personal computers, as well as via apps on mobile devices (such as smartphones and tablets), digital media players (including video game consoles), or televisions with integrated Smart TV platforms.
Problems associated with OTT platforms-
- The display of unethical, religiously inadequate and pornographic content that promotes disrespect to the country, objectifies women, engages children in criminal activities and somewhere promotes terrorism, so the platforms shall be regulated, censored or licensed and the vulgar and legally restricted content shall be removed.
- The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has clarified that over-the-top(OTT)platforms will not have to register with the government, and no government nominee will be present in the self-regulatory body.
On Feb 5 2021 , the govt announced the new Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021, which introduced a 3-tier redressal mechanism for OTT platforms:
- Tier 1- A grievance cell
- Tier 2- A self-regulatory body of the OTT platforms
- Tier 3- An inter- ministerial panel to look into complaints if they are not resolved at the first two levels.
- The OTT platforms will have to self-classify content into five age – based categories – U (Universal), U/A 7+, U/A 13+, U/A 16+ and A (Adult). Platforms will be required implement parental locks for content classified as U/A 13+ or higher and reliable age verification mechanisms for content classified as A”.
Source: The hindu
SAFAR - System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research
Paper 3 - Environment and Ecology
- Under the plan scheme “Metropolitan Advisories for Cities for Sports, Tourism (Metropolitan Air Quality and Weather Services), Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), Govt. of India, has introduced a major national initiative, "System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research" known as "SAFAR"
- It provides location specific information on air quality in near real time for greater metropolitan cities of India and its forecast 1-3 days in advance for the first time in India.
- It has been combined with the early warning system on weather parameters.
- The SAFAR system is developed by Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune, along with ESSO partner institutions namely India Meteorological Department (IMD) and National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF).
- To increase awareness among general public regarding the air quality in their city well in advance so that appropriate mitigation measures and systematic action can be taken up for betterment of air quality and related health issues.
- It engineers awareness drive by educating public, prompting self-mitigation and also to help develop mitigation strategies for policy makers.
SAFAR envisages a research-based management system where strategies of air pollution mitigation go hand in hand with nation’s economic development to target a win-win scenario.
6) Production Linked Incentive scheme
GS Paper 3: Export Promotion (EPZ & SEZ)
- Production-Linked Incentive or PLI scheme is a scheme that aims to give companies incentives on incremental sales (over FY 2019-20) from products manufactured in domestic units.
- The scheme invites foreign companies to set up units in India, however, it also aims to encourage local companies to set up or expand existing manufacturing units and also to generate more employment and cut down the country's reliance on imports from other countries.
Background of PLI Scheme
- As a part of the National Policy on Electronics, on April 1, 2020, the IT Ministry had notified a scheme which would give incentives of 4-6% to electronics companies which manufacture mobile phones and other electronic components such as transistors, diodes, thyristors, resistors, capacitors and nano-electronic components such as micro electromechanical systems.
- According to the scheme, companies that make mobile phones which sell for INR 15,000 or more will receive an incentive of up to 6 per cent on incremental sales of all such mobile phones made in India.
- The scheme has also expanded to ten other sectors namely food processing, telecom, electronics, textiles, specialty steel, automobiles and auto components, solar photo-voltaic modules and white goods such as air conditioners and LEDs.
Why in News?
- The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi addressed a webinar on Production Linked Incentives scheme organized by Department for Promotion of Industry and International Trade and NITI Aayog through video conference.
Highlights of the conference-
- 13 sectors have been brought under Production Linked Incentives for the first time.
- With PLI in auto and pharma, there will be very less foreign dependence related to auto parts, medical equipment and raw materials of medicines.
- The energy sector will be modernized in the country with the help of Advanced Cell Batteries, Solar PV modules and Specialty Steel.
- Similarly, the PLI for the textile and food processing sector will benefit the entire agriculture sector.
- In the financial year 2021-2022 budget, a provision of about 2 lakh crore rupees has been made for schemes related to the PLI scheme. An average of 5 % of production is given as incentive.
- This means that PLI schemes will lead to production worth $ 520 billion in India in the next five years. It is also estimated that sectors for which the PLI scheme has been created will witness doubling of the workforce.
- Recently approved PLI schemes in IT hardware and Telecom equipment manufacturing will lead to tremendous increase in production and domestic value addition.
- IT hardware is estimated to achieve 3 trillion rupees worth production in 4 years and domestic value addition is expected to rise from current 5-10 percent to 20-25 percent in 5 years.
- Similarly telecom equipment manufacturing will witness an increase of about 2.5 lakh crore rupees in 5 years. India should be in a position to export worth 2 lakh crore from this, said the Prime Minister.
- In the Pharma sector, more than 15 thousand crore rupees investment is expected in next 5-6 years under PLI leading to 3 lakh crore in pharma sale and export increase worth 2 lakh crore.
- The PLI Scheme would make a major impact to the country's MSMEs ecosystem by creating the anchor units in every sector that will need a new supplier base across the entire value chain.
- The industry should join and take advantage of the PLI scheme.
- The focus of the industry should be on creating Best Quality Goods for the country and the world.
- Industry should innovate according to the needs of the fast changing world, increase our participation in R&D, upgrading the manpower skills and use of new technology.
Source: PIB + Wikipedia
Solid Fuel Ducted Ramjet Technology
Paper 3- Science & Tech - Space Science
Why in News?
- Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully carried out a flight demonstration based on Solid Fuel Ducted Ramjet (SFDR) technology from Integrated Test Range Chandipur off the coast of Odisha at around 1030 hrs on March 05, 2021.
- All the subsystems, including the booster motor and nozzle-less motor, performed as expected. During the test, many new technologies were proven, including Solid Fuel based Ducted Ramjet technology.
What is Solid Fuel Ducted Ramjet (SFDR)
- It’s development started in 2013 and envisaged a five-year deadline to begin actual demonstrations and is being developed primarily by the Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL) and Research Centre Imarat (RCI) in Hyderabad.
- It is a missile propulsion system . The project aims to develop critical technologies required in the propulsion systems of future Indian long range air-to-air missiles.
- High Energy Material Research Laboratory (HEMRL) developed the nozzle-less booster while the ramjet engine is being developed with Russian assistance. Ground-based testing of the missile started in 2017.
- Successful demonstration of Solid Fuel based Ducted Ramjet technology has provided DRDO with a technological advantage which will enable it to develop long range air-to-air missiles.
- At present, such technology is available only with a handful of countries in the world.
- During the test, air launch scenario was simulated using a booster motor.
- Subsequently, the nozzle-less booster accelerated it to the required Mach number for Ramjet operation.
Source: PIB + Wikipedia
Competition Commission of India
GS Paper 2: Governance & GS Paper 3: Disinvestment, Industrial Competition, FDI
- Competition Commission of India is a statutory body of the Government of India responsible for enforcing The Competition Act, 2002 and promoting competition throughout India and to prevent activities that have an appreciable adverse effect on competition in India. It was established on 14 October 2003. It became fully functional in May 2009.
- The Competition Act, 2002 was enacted by the Parliament of India and governs Indian competition law. It replaced the archaic The Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act, 1969.
- The Competition Act, 2002 was amended by the Competition (Amendment) Act, 2007 and again by the Competition (Amendment) Act, 2009.
- The Act establishes a Commission which is duty bound to protect the interests of free and fair competition (including the process of competition), and as a consequence, protect the interests of consumers. Broadly, the Commission's duty is:-
- To prohibit the agreements or practices that have or are likely to have an appreciable adverse effect on competition in a market in India, (horizontal and vertical agreements / conduct);
- To prohibit the abuse of dominance in a market;
- To prohibit acquisitions, mergers, amalgamations etc. between enterprises which have or are likely to have an appreciable adverse effect on competition in market(s) in India.
Why in News?
- The Competition Commission of India (CCI) organised the Sixth National Conference on Economics of Competition Law through virtual mode.
Keynotes of the conference
- The disinvestment and privatisation programme, would free valuable financial resources, creating fiscal space for the government for its priority capital expenditure both physical and social infrastructure while also generating enhanced competition.
- Competitive markets and democratic governments, are complementary and needed to interact in a manner that maximised the larger public interest.
- Competition policy is critical for economic framework as markets are imperfect.
Source: PIB + CCI Web Site + Wikipedia
Set up of 12 MT integrated steel plant in Kendrapada district, Odisha
Paper 3: Industry & FDI - Iron and steel Industry
Why in News?
- Steel major ArcelorMittal-Nippon Steel India and Odisha Government signed an MoU on 4th March, 2021 for setting up a 12 MT integrated steel plant in Kendrapada district of Odisha with an investment of Rupees 50000 crore which is being seen as a new wave of economic development and employment generation in Odisha and will give boost to Purvodaya and Aatmanirbhar Bharat.
- Mission Purvodaya in steel sector is launched to drive growth of eastern India to make it an integrated steel hub through setting up a steel cluster and greenfield capacity addition. The mission is in line with Hon’ble Prime Minister’s vision of Purvodaya for driving growth of eastern India, and will contribute to achieving National Steel Policy’s envisioned capacity of 300 MTPA by 2030.