CURRENT AFFAIRS


4th Sep, 2020

 

India-Bangladesh Inland Waterways

 

The trial run on a new river route from Daudkandi in Bangladesh to Sonamura in Tripura started recently. 

Distance covered will be 93 km through river Gumti or Gomati.

The route will connect Tripura with Bangladesh using the inland waterways for the first time.

It will greatly enhance connectivity between Bangladesh and the North Eastern states of India boosting bilateral trade with Bangladesh.

The opening of the new route follows the signing of the 2nd addendum to the Protocol for Inland Water Trade & Transit (PIWTT) in May 2020 which opened two new routes. 

The PIWTT was signed between India and Bangladesh in 1972 to connect the two countries through inland waterways.


 

Coal Gasification and Liquefaction webinar held

 

The Union Coal Ministry organised a webinar on Coal Gasification and Liquefaction recently.

India aims for 100 million tonnes (MT) coal gasification by 2030 with investments worth over Rs. 4 lakh crores, said Pralhad Joshi, Union Minister of Coal and Mines.

For encouraging use of clean sources of fuel, the government has provided for a concession of 20% on revenue share of coal used for gasification. 

This will boost production of synthetic natural gas, energy fuel, and urea for fertilisers and production of other chemicals.

For development of Surface Coal Gasification in India, a Steering Committee has been constituted under the chairmanship of Dr. V.K. Saraswat, Member, NITI Aayog comprising members from the Ministry of Coal.

CIL has also planned to set up at least 3 gasification plants (besides Dankuni) on BOO basis (Build-Own-Operate) through global tendering and has signed an MOU with GAIL for marketing synthetic natural gas.

Coal gasification 

It is the process of producing syngas—a mixture consisting primarily of carbon monoxide, hydrogen, carbon dioxide, natural gas, and water vapour —from coal and water, air and/or oxygen.

Coal liquefaction 

It is a process of converting coal into liquid hydrocarbons: liquid fuels and petrochemicals. 


 

Protests Against Farm Ordinances 

 

Recently, the Punjab Assembly passed a resolution and rejected the Centre’s recent farm ordinances and the proposed Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2020.

The ordinances include:

Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020

Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, 2020

Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020.

These ordinances are expected to allow free movement of agricultural produce between states and let the farmers decide to whom they want to sell their crops.

The Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2020 centralizes the power sector through establishment of Electricity Contract Enforcement Authority.

Recognition of franchisees and sub- licensees under the Bill might open the sector to private players.

 

Punjab’s Stand:

Entry 14 of List II of the Constitution comprises agriculture as the subject of the states.

Therefore, the three ordinances passed by the Centre are against the Constitution of India.

These ordinances are a direct encroachment upon the functions of the states and against the spirit of cooperative federalism enshrined in the Constitution.

Article 246 adopts a threefold distribution of legislative power between the Union and the states.

The subject-wise distribution of this power is given in the three lists of the Seventh Schedule of the constitution:

List-I- the Union List

List-II- the State List

List-III- the Concurrent List


 

SC Decision on UGC Guidelines on Conduct of Examinations

 

The Supreme Court ruled that the states are empowered under the Disaster Management Act, 2005 (DM Act) to override University Grants Commission (UGC) exam guidelines in order to protect human lives amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

It held that universities and other institutions of higher education will have to conduct the final-year exams and cannot promote students on the basis of internal assessment or other criteria.

In case of a disaster, the priority of all authorities under the DM Act is to immediately combat the disaster and contain it to save human life. 

In future, if any State found it impossible to conduct the exams by the deadline given by UGC and wanted to postpone them, it could apply to the UGC.

The States and universities cannot dismiss UGC guidelines as being merely advisory.

SC rejected the argument that compelling attendance by holding physical examination is a violation of the ‘Right to Life’ under Article 21.


 

Foundation Day of AREAS

 

On the 6th Foundation Day (27th August 2020) of the Association of Renewable Energy

Agencies of States (AREAS), the government has launched a website and telephone directory for AREAS.

AREAS

Agenda Behind AREAS: State Nodal Agencies (SNAs) for Renewable Energy (RE) interact and learn from each other’s experiences and also share their best practices and knowledge regarding technologies and schemes/programmes.

Members: The Union Minister for New & Renewable Energy (NRE) is the Patron of the Association and Secretary, MNRE is the ex-officio President of the Association. All SNAs are members of the Association.

Formation: It got registered under Society Registration Act, 1860 on 27th August 2014.


 

NIDHI-EIR program launched 

 

A brochure featuring Entrepreneurs in Residence (EIR) was recently launched. 

Launched under: National Initiative for Developing and Harnessing Innovations (NIDHI) programme. 

Concerned department: Department of Science & Technology (DST) Secretary.

The brochure details what the EIRs are working on and some highlights about them. 

It is also meant to be a directory of all EIRs. 

NIDHI supports aspiring entrepreneurs for pursuing a promising technology business idea over a period up to 18 months with a subsistence grant up to Rs 30000 per month with a maximum cap for total support of Rs 3.6 lakh to each EIR over a maximum of 18 months.

The NIDHI-EIR programme provides tremendous opportunities for innovative entrepreneurs to expand their networks and get critical feedback on their ventures in order to promote their entrepreneurial career goals and aspirations.


 

Eighth East Asia Summit Economic Ministers’ Meeting

 

Recently, the 8th East Asia Summit Economic Ministers’ Meeting (EAS-EMM) was held virtually. 

Attended by: 10 ASEAN members and eight other nations, including India, the USA, and China.

The importance of strengthening regional supply chains to make them resilient in times of Covid-19 pandemic and to increase economic growth was highlighted. 

Any trade-restrictive emergency measures put in place to address the impact of Covid-19 must be consistent with the WTO rules. 

They must not create unnecessary barriers to trade. 

Support for the necessary reforms in the WTO was also discussed.

Facilitating the essential movement of people across borders.

Commitment to facilitate supply chain connectivity and inclusion of essential goods. 

Harness the opportunities of the digital economy to overcome the challenges posed by restricted movement.

 

East Asia Summit

It was established in 2005. 

It is a forum of 18 regional leaders for strategic dialogue and cooperation on the key political, security, and economic challenges facing the Indo-Pacific region.

India is one of the founding members of the East Asia Summit.

Membership: ASEAN members and 8 other countries namely Australia, China, Japan, India, New Zealand, South Korea, Russia and USA.

It is an ASEAN-centred forum so it can only be chaired by an ASEAN member.

ASEAN members: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.


 

MEDBOT

Indian Railways has developed a remote-controlled medical trolley named ‘MEDBOT’ to help deliver food and medicines to COVID-19 patients.

It is providing service in the Central Hospital of the Diesel Rail Engine Factory of Indian Railways.


 

Indra 2020 

It is a bilateral naval exercise India and Russia.

It is to be held in the Andaman Sea close to the Strait of Malacca instead of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). 

It will be the first bilateral naval exercise since all such engagements were suspended due to Covid-19 pandemic.

The Strait of Malacca connects Indian Ocean to the South China Sea. 

It is also a prominent trade route between East Asia and West Asia-Europe.


 






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