CURRENT AFFAIRS 30th Dec 2017

1 . EEPC  India’s  e-catalogue  launched
  •  EEPC India’s e-catalogue has been launched recently.
  • This is a major digital drive under the aegis of EEPC India for promoting the country’s engineering exports through the ‘Brand India’ initiative, reaching major export destinations through digital technologies.
  • The e-catalogue covers four major sectors:-(1) Medical devices     (2) Textile machinery and accessories  (3) Electrical machinery equipment  (4) Pumps and valves

What  is  EEPC ( Engineering Exports Promotion Council )?

EEPC India , set up in 1955, is the premier trade and investment promotion organization . It is sponsored by the Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Government of India and caters to the Indian engineering sector. As an advisory body it actively contributes to the policies of Government of India and acts as an interface between the engineering industry and the Government.

 

2 . More  than  24 Cr.  released  to  States/UTs  in  Ujjawala  Scheme during  the  current  year
  •  Ujjawala  is a Comprehensive Scheme for Prevention of Trafficking and Rescue,Rehabilitation and Re-Integration of Victims of Trafficking for Commercial Sexual Exploitation.
  • It is effective from 1st April, 2016.

BACKGROUND

1. Trafficking of women and children for commercial sexual exploitation is an organized crime that violates basic human rights. India has emerged as a source, destination and transit for both in-country and cross border trafficking. The problem of trafficking
of women and children for commercial sexual exploitation is especially challenging due to its myriad complexities and variation.

2. A multi sectoral approach is needed which will undertake preventive measures to arrest trafficking especially in vulnerable areas and sections of population; and to enable rescue, rehabilitation and reintegration of the trafficked victims.

OBJECTIVE OF THE SCHEME

1 .  To prevent trafficking of women and children for commercial sexual exploitation through social mobilization and involvement of local communities, awareness generation programmes, generate public discourse through workshops/seminars and such events and any other innovative activity.

2 .  To facilitate rescue of victims from the place of their exploitation and place them in safe custody.

3 .  To provide rehabilitation services both immediate and long-term to the victims by providing basic amenities/needs such as shelter, food, clothing, medical treatment including counselling, legal aid and guidance and vocational training.

4 .  To facilitate reintegration of the victims into the family and society at large

5 .  To facilitate repatriation of cross-border victims to their country of origin.

TARGET GROUP/BENEFICIARIES

1 .  Women and children who are vulnerable to trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation.
2 . Women and children who are victims of trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation.

IMPLEMENTING AGENCIES

The implementing agencies can be the Social Welfare/Women and Child Welfare Department of State Government, Women‟s Development Corporations, Women‟s Development Centres, Urban Local Bodies, reputed Public/Private Trust or Voluntary Organizations.

THE COMPONENTS OF SCHEME AND PATTERN OF ASSISTANCE

The Scheme has the following main components:-

1. PREVENTION

2. RESCUE

3. REHABILITATION

4. RE-INTEGRATION

5. REPATRIATION

 

3 . Government  Cautions  People  Against  Risks  in  Investing  in Virtual ‘Currencies’
  • The Ministry of Finance has cautioned people against risks in investing in virtual ‘currencies’.
  • There has been a phenomenal increase in recent times in the price of Virtual ‘Currencies’ (VCs) including Bitcoin, in India and globally.
  • The VCs don’t have any intrinsic value and are not backed by any kind of assets.
  • The price of Bitcoin and other VCs therefore is entirely a matter of mere speculation resulting in spurt and volatility in their prices.
  • There is a real and heightened risk of investment bubble of the type seen in ponzi schemes which can result in sudden and prolonged crash exposing investors, especially retail consumers losing their hard-earned money.
  • Consumers need to be alert and extremely cautious as to avoid getting trapped in such Ponzi schemes.
  • VCs are stored in digital/electronic format, making them vulnerable to hacking, loss of password, malware attack etc. which may also result in permanent loss of money.
  • As transactions of VCs are encrypted they are also likely being used to carry out illegal/subversive activities, such as, terror-funding, smuggling, drug trafficking and other money-laundering Acts.
  • VCs are not backed by Government fiat.
  • These are also not legal tender. Hence, VCs are not currencies.
  • These are also being described as ‘Coins’. There is however no physical attribute to these coins.
  • Therefore, Virtual ‘Currencies’ (VCs) are neither currencies nor coins.
  • The Government or Reserve Bank of India has not authorised any VCs as a medium of exchange.
  • Further, the Government or any other regulator in India has not given license to any agency for working as exchange or any other kind of intermediary for any VC.
  • Persons dealing in them must consider these facts and beware of the risks involved in dealing in VCs.

 

4 .  400  schemes  from  56  Ministries/ Departments  are  being implemented  under  DBT  Scheme
  • Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) is Government’s major reform initiative to re-engineer the existing delivery processes, ensuring better and timely delivery of benefits using Information & Communication Technology (ICT).
  • As on date, 400 schemes from 56 Ministries/ Departments are being implemented under DBT.

Direct Benefit Transfer Scheme

Direct Benefit Transfer or DBT is an attempt to change the mechanism of transferring subsidies launched by Government of India on 1 January 2013. This program aims to transfer subsidies directly to the people through their bank accounts. It is hoped that crediting subsidies into bank accounts will reduce leakages, delays, etc

Aim of the Scheme

The primary aim of this Direct Benefit Transfer program is to bring transparency and terminate pilferage from distribution of funds sponsored by Central Government of India. In DBT, benefit or subsidy will be directly transferred to citizens living below poverty line.

Platform for routing DBT

Central Plan Scheme Monitoring System (CPSMS), being implemented by the Office of Controller General of Accounts, will act as the common platform for routing DBT. CPSMS can be used for the preparation of beneficiary list, digitally signing the same and processing of payments in the bank accounts of the beneficiary using the Aadhaar Payment Bridge of NPCI.

 

5 . 2017- a significant  year  for  Northeast
  •  Northeast in the year 2017 witnessed some of the landmark developmental initiatives.
  • The 90-year-old “Indian Forest Act of 1927”, which was a legacy of the British Raj, was amended as a result of which “Bamboo”, which was defined as a “Tree” under the Indian Forest Act of 1927, was changed, thereby doing away with the requirement of obtaining a permit for felling of bamboo for economic use. This will open new avenues of job generation and entrepreneurship by allowing bamboo cultivation and bamboo use by non-farmers on non-forest land.
  • 100% funding by Central Government for projects in the NER, which were earlier being undertaken on the basis of Centre-State sharing in the ratio of 90:10.
  • Dedication of 60 Mega-watt Hydro-Power Project in Mizoram, thus making Mizoram a power-surplus State of India.
  • North-Eastern Region set an example for the rest of India by being the first to introduce “Venture Capital Fund” from the Ministry of Development of North-Eastern Region (DoNER) for young Start-ups and entrepreneurs who choose to invest in the region.

 

6 . Lok  Sabha  amends  bankruptcy  law
  • The Lok Sabha on Friday passed the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Bill 2017, paving the way for tightening loopholes in the existing code and making the resolution process more effective.
  • The bill replaces an ordinance that was brought in last month seeking to bar wilful defaulters, defaulters whose dues had been classified as non-performing assets (NPAs) for more than a year, and all related entities of these firms from participating in the resolution process.

About the Bill

  • The bill has diluted some of the stringent provisions of the ordinance and seeks to strike a balance in the trade-off between punishing wilful defaulters and ensuring a more effective insolvency process.
  • The bill allows defaulting promoters to be part of the debt resolution process, provided they repay the dues in a month to make their loan account operational and the resolution happens within the overall time frame specified in the code.
  • This will help promoters who had submitted resolution plans before the ordinance barred them from taking part in the resolution process of companies.
  • The bill also allows asset reconstruction companies, alternative investment funds (AIFs) such as private equity funds and banks to participate in the bidding process.
  • Many of these entities acquire distressed assets and the classification of these assets as NPAs would have disqualified them from the bidding process.
  • Similarly, banks opting to convert their debt into equity under the Reserve Bank of India’s scheme for sustainable structuring of stressed assets would have inadvertently become promoters of these insolvent companies and thereby been barred from the resolution process.The amendments aim to correct these anomalies.
  • The bill has also sought to bring any individual who was in control of the NPA under the ambit of the insolvency code. It lays out that the individual insolvency law will be implemented in phases. It also allows guarantors of insolvent firms to bid for other firms under the insolvency process.

Background

The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code was enacted in 2016 to find a time-bound resolution for ailing and sick firms, either through closure or revival, while protecting the interests of creditors. A successful completion of the resolution process was expected to aid in reducing rising bad loans in the banking system.