MICS CURRENT AFFAIRS 4th April 2018

1 . Government targets to increase India’s share of Foreign Tourist Arrivals

The move to float a new policy, which will replace the one in place since 2002, is in line with the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government’s aim to make tourism a major driver of economic growth. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint

Government targets to increase India’s share of Foreign Tourist Arrivals to 1% in world’s International tourist arrivals by 2020 and 2% by 2025.

Present share

The share of India’s Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) in world’s International Tourist Arrivals during 2016 was 0.71%, whereas the share of India’s International Tourist Arrivals (which includes Foreign Tourist Arrivals and arrival of Non Resident Nationals) in world’s International Tourist Arrivals during 2016 was 1.18%.

Initiatives taken by Government to increase share

Ministry of Tourism has two flagship schemes viz. Swadesh Darshan – Integrated Development of Theme Based Tourist Circuits, and PRASHAD – Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual, Heritage Augmentation Drive for creation of tourism infrastructure and thereby generating pro-tourism culture in the people.

Ministry has launched Social Awareness Media Campaigns with the objective of sensitizing stakeholders in the tourism industry as well as the general public about the importance of good conduct and behavior towards tourists and to reinforce the spirit of ‘Atithi devo Bhava’.

 

2 . Cabinet approves closure of loss making Burn Standard Company Limited 

The Union Cabinet has approved the closure of Burn Standard Company Ltd (BSCL) – a Central Public Sector Enterprise (CPSE) under Ministry of Railways.

Reason

This decision has been taken in view of the continuous poor physical and financial performance of the company for more than 10 years despite financial assistance and other support provided by government, and low probability of its revival in the future. This measure will save public funds, which are currently being used for loss making BSCL, and can be used for other developmental work.

Government will provide one-time grant of Rs. 417.10 crore towards severance package and for clearing the current liabilities of the company. In addition, outstanding loan of Rs. 35 crore given to the company by Government of India (Ministry of Railways) shall be written off. 508 employees of BSCL will benefit from Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS).

Background

Burn Standard Company Limited was incorporated in 1976 following nationalization and amalgamation of Burn and Company and Indian Standard Wagon Company Limited under Department of Heavy Industries (DHI). The Company was referred to Board of Industrial and Financial Reconstruction (BIFR) in 1994 and was declared sick in the year 1995. The company continues to be a sick company since then. The administrative control of the company was transferred from DHI to Ministry of Railways on 15/09/2010, as approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs. The company is engaged in the manufacturing and repair of wagons and production of steel.

 

3 . Pratyush and Mihir

Ministry of Earth Sciences has augmented the High-Performance Computing (HPC) System at a total cost of Rs.438.9 Cr. The systems are installed at two sites Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune and National Center for Medium Range Weather Forecast (NCMRWF), Noida with computing capacities of 4 peta flops and 2.8 peta flops, respectively.

The Two High Performance Computing (HPC) Systems Pratyush and Mihir installed at IITM, Pune and NCMRWF, Noida respectively have a total computing capacity of 6.8 peta flops. After the current augmentation, the total HPC capacity of the ministry has gone up to 8.0 Peta Flops.

The Ministry HPC system with a combined capacity of 8.0 Peta Flops is now placed at the 4th position after Japan, UK and USA for dedicated HPC resources for weather/climate community.

Indian Monsoon is one of the most complex coupled climate systems of the world. The geographic location of India, surrounded with tall mountains and oceans make the system more difficult to simulate and predict. The HPC system is being used for the advanced dynamical prediction systems which are now being used for Seasonal prediction (mainly for SW monsoon season of June to September); Extended range prediction (for next 20 days) and Short range prediction (up to 8 days). The HPC system is also being used for generating probabilistic forecasts for extreme weather.

These high resolution models will be used for prediction of cyclones and other severe weather events with more accuracy and lead time.

 

4 . Cabinet approves rightsizing the Competition Commission of India 

The Union Cabinet  has given its approval for rightsizing the Competition Commission of India (CCI) from One Chairperson and Six Members (totalling seven) to One Chairperson and Three Members (totalling four) by not filling the existing vacancies of two Members and one more additional vacancy, which is expected in September, 2018 when one of the present incumbents will complete his term.

Benefits

The proposal is expected to result in reduction of three Posts of Members of the Commission in pursuance of the Governments objective of “Minimum Government – Maximum Governance”.

Reason behind the decision

As part of the Governments objective of easing the mergers and amalgamation process in the country, the Ministry had revised de minimis levels in 2017, which have been made applicable for all forms of combinations and the methodology for computing assets and turnover of the target involved in such combinations, has been spelt out. This has led to reduction in the notices that enterprises are mandated to submit to the Commission, while entering into combinations, thereby reducing the load on the Commission.

Background

Section 8(1) of the Competition Act, 2002 (the Act) provides that the Commission shall consist of a Chairperson and not less than two and not more than six Members. Presently, the Chairperson and four Members are in position.

An initial limit of one Chairperson and not more than ten Members was provided in the Act, keeping in view the requirement of creating a Principal Bench, other Additional Bench or Mergers Bench, comprising at least two Members each, in places as notified by the Central Government.

In the Competition (Amendment) Act, 2007 (39 of 2007), Section 22 of the Act was amended removing the provision for creation of Benches. In the same Amendment Act, while the Competition Appellate Tribunal comprising one Chairperson and two Members was created, the size of the Commission itself was not commensurately reduced and was kept at one Chairperson and not less than two but not more than six Members.

The Commission has been functioning as a collegium right from its inception. In several major jurisdictions such as in Japan, USA and U.K. Competition Authorities are of a similar size.

 

5 . Cabinet approves the Protection of Human Rights (Amendments) Bill, 2018

The Union Cabinet has given its approval to the Protection of Human Rights (Amendments) Bill, 2018 for better protection and promotion of human rights in the country.

Salient Features

1 . It proposes to include “National Commission for Protection of Child Rights” as deemed Member of the Commission;
2 . It proposes to add a woman Member in the composition of the Commission;
3 . It proposes to enlarge the scope of eligibility and scope of selection of Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission as well as the State Human Rights Commission; and
4 . It proposes to incorporate a mechanism to look after the cases of human rights violation in the Union Territories.
5 . It proposes to amend the term of office of Chairperson and Members of National Human Rights Commission and State Human Rights Commission to make it in consonance with the terms of Chairperson and Members of other Commissions.

Benefits

The Amendment will strengthen the Human Rights Institutions of India further for effective discharge of their mandates, roles and responsibilities. Moreover, the amended Act will be in perfect sync with the agreed global standards and benchmarks towards ensuring the rights relating to life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual in the country.

Background

The amendment to the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 will make National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) more compliant with the Paris Principle concerning its autonomy, independence, pluralism and wide-ranging functions in order to effectively protect and promote human rights.