GS Paper I- History and Geography of the World and Society.

Yuvraj Singh Launches UNICEF-ICC’s Adolescent Campaign.

Background-

  • Indian cricketer Yuvraj Singh will be promoting a UNICEF sports initiative for youngsters in South Asia, which will also have the ICC’s backing.
  • Yuvraj launched the “Power of Sports to Shape the Future of Adolescents” campaign in South Asia in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
  • Yuvraj was joined by under-19 players from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka who will compete in the ICC under-19 World Cup in New Zealand in January next year (2018).

Highlights Of The Development–

  • A panel discussion was followed by a friendly match between the players and the youth who attended the event which was jointly organised by UNICEF South Asia and the ICC.
  • Yuvraj said that there are 340 million adolescents in South Asia. When he observes the energy, passion and determination of these young people, he feels so much hope. While the challenges in this region are vast, his hope is that their energy can be harnessed to create a better tomorrow for all adolescents in South Asia.
  • ICC CEO David Richardson said the ICC under-19 World Cup will give young players the real flavour of international cricket.
  • He also added that their partnership with UNICEF is an important one and the commitment that place have shown to being part of the panel is a wonderful demonstration of that.

Sources- The Hindu.

GS Paper II- International Relations.

India And Cuba Sign MoU For Enhanced Cooperation In The Health Sector.

Background

  • India and Cuba signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for enhanced cooperation in the health sector on 6th December, 2017 in New Delhi.
  • Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare JP Nadda and Public Health Minister of Cuba Dr Roberto Tomas Morales Ojeda signed the MoU in the presence of senior officers from the Health Ministry and a high level delegation from Cuba.
  • JP Nadda stated that the relations between Cuba and India are historical and based on shared values of equality and justice, common aspirations and convergence of interests on global issues.

 

Highlights Of The Development-

  • Shri Nadda further stated that the MOU on cooperation in the field of health and medicine between India and Cuba is important for exchanges in the health sector and to develop institutional framework for cooperation in the health sector between the two countries.
  • Nadda said that one potential area is pharmaceutical and biotechnology. Cuba has made remarkable strides in the field of bio-technology and pharmaceuticals. India needs to encourage greater institutional collaborations for joint production of medicines on commercial basis.
  • Nadda also suggested that a Joint Working Group be formed for implementation of the MoU.
  • The objective of this MoU is to establish comprehensive inter-ministerial and inter-institutional cooperation between the two countries in the field of health sector.

Sources- The Statesman.

 

GS Paper III- Economic Development.

Govt Sets Up Panel To Address Non-Performing Assets (NPAs) In The Power Sector.

Background

  • The government has set up a high-level committee headed by NITI Aayog chief executive Amitabh Kant to address the problem of stressed assets in India’s power sector.
  • Non-performing assets (NPAs) in power generation accounted for around 5.9% of the banking sector’s total outstanding advances of Rs4.73 trillion, according to the second volume of the Economic Survey 2016-17 released in August, 2017.
  • Tackling the issues that afflict the so-called stranded power assets will provide much-needed relief for Indian banks weighed down by bad loans.
  • The committee has held its first meeting and comprises secretaries in the ministries of power, coal and department of financial services.

 

Highlights Of The Development-

  • A total of 34 coal-fuelled power projects, with an estimated debt of Rs1.77 trillion, have been reviewed by the government after being identified by the department of financial services. Issues faced by these projects include paucity of funds, lack of power-purchase agreements (PPAs), and absence of fuel security.
  • Experts say that PPAs hold the key to solving the problem of 60 gigawatts (GW) of stressed assets across fuel sources.
  • The weak financial health of the state-owned distribution utilities has led to slow progress in signing of long-term PPAs through competitive bidding, with only 1.4GW capacity tied up through long-term PPAs over the past three years.
  • Out of the 26GW capacity affected by lack of PPAs, about 60% of the capacity is operational and is exposed to volume and tariff risks in the short-term market. In addition, the thermal power capacity of 22GW is affected by tariff viability issues, including the imported coal-based capacity of 9GW and domestic coal-based capacity of 13GW.
  • Of India’s installed power generation capacity of 331,118 megawatts (MW), 58%, or around 193,426MW, is fuelled by coal. Gas-based and hydropower projects account for 25,150MW and 44,765MW, respectively.
  • Further, another 12GW gas-based capacity is affected by uncertainty over availability of domestic gas and lack of offtake for power generated using imported R-LNG (regasified liquefied natural gas).
  • Power minister Raj Kumar Singh has said there will be a rise in electricity demand. His rationale is that the recently launched Saubhagya programme, which aims to provide electricity connections to more than 40 million families by December 2018, will boost underutilized power plants.

Sources- Livemint.