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

India Congratulates China On Its Election As Vice-President Of FATF.

Background

  • India on 25th February, 2018 congratulated China on its election as vice-president of the global money laundering watchdog, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a development that comes on the back of news reports and speculation that a deal on giving China a larger role in the FATF had been reached, following which Beijing agreed to drop its objections to Pakistan being put under scrutiny by the body.
  • The Indian ministry of external affairs did not comment on whether a deal had been worked out at the FATF but analysts said given China’s track record of striking bargains for its vote in international organizations, it was possible that Beijing had done the same at the FATF plenary. That is—its election to the post of vice president at the FATF for dropping its objections to Pakistan being grey listed.

 

Highlights Of The Development-

  • On 23rd February, people familiar with the developments in New Delhi had said the FATF had in its plenary session on 23 February decided to put Pakistan back on the “grey list”, subjecting it to direct monitoring and intense scrutiny by the International Co-operation Review Group (ICRG) on terror financing, pending a further review in June, 2018.
  • This came after China and the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) led by Saudi Arabia withdrew their objections to Pakistan being placed on the list. China and the GCC deciding to go along with a US-sponsored motion at the Paris-based FATF, news reports said, followed diplomatic moves by India and the US.
  • According to a report, the Indian delegation at the FATF struck a deal with the Chinese team that related to support for a greater FATF role for Beijing in the future. China then dropped its objections paving the way for Pakistan to be “grey listed”—a move that is expected to impact heavily on Pakistan’s economy given that Islamabad will find it difficult to raise funds from international sources.
  • In the past, China, as a permanent UN Security Council member, has single-handedly blocked resolutions to get Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Maulana Masood Azhar, designated a terrorist, despite resolutions moved by India and the US.
  • China has also blocked India’s entry into the elite Nuclear Suppliers Group, despite appeals by India at the highest levels. Beijing has instead sought the establishment of criteria under which non signatories to the nuclear non proliferation treaty can be admitted—a move India sees as a ploy to get Pakistan admitted into the grouping as well.

Sources- Livemint.

 

GS Paper II- Governance.

IITs Set To Get 25 Per Cent Of Govt Loans For Higher Education Institutes.

Background

  • The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) will corner the largest chunk of loans on offer under the new funding model — Revitalising Infrastructure and Systems in Education (RISE) — for all centrally-run institutes, announced in the Union Budget this month (February, 2018).
  • Under RISE, all centrally-funded institutes (CFIs), including central universities, IITs, IIMs, NITs and IISERs, can borrow from a Rs 1,00,000 crore corpus over the next four years to expand and build new infrastructure. However, a quarter of this amount — Rs 25,000 crore — will be set aside exclusively for the 23 IITs.
  • The second largest share, Rs 20,000 crore, will be earmarked for central universities. While the National Institutes of Technology (NITs) can borrow up to Rs 11,300 crore, the new IIMs will get Rs 4,500 crore, & five IISERs Rs 5,000 crore.

Highlights Of The Development-

  • In addition to loans for infrastructure development, about Rs 9,000 crore will be available for building robust research ecosystems, like world-class laboratories, in CFIs.
  • With the introduction of RISE, all financing for infrastructure development at CFIs will be done through the Higher Education Funding Agency (HEFA), which was set up by the government as a Section 8 company (a company with charitable objectives) last year (2017) to mobilise funds from the market and offer 10-year loans to centrally-run institutes.
  • Till last year, CFIs in higher education, on an average, would get fixed Budget grants of Rs 10,000 crore every year for this purpose. According to government officials, the shift from grant assistance to loans would assure more funds, greater accountability and timely completion of projects.
  • In order to mobilise funds for the Rs 1,00,000 crore corpus, HEFA will need an equity of Rs 10,000 crore, of which Rs 8,500 crore will be provided by the government. The remaining equity will be provided by Canara Bank, which partnered with the government to set up HEFA, and other corporations.
  • The HRD Ministry will soon seek the Union Cabinet’s approval for providing the government’s share of the HEFA equity.
  • All the infrastructure and research projects sanctioned by HEFA are to be completed by December 2022. Sources said the funding agency will release money directly to the vendors or contractors on certification by the executing agency and the educational institute.
  • Loans taken from HEFA, under the RISE programme, must be paid back over 10 years. There will be different modes of loan repayment for different institutes, based on their internal revenue.

Sources- The Indian Express.

GS Paper III- Economic Development, Security.

PM Announces Rs 20,000 Cr Defence Industrial Corridor In Bundelkhand.

Background

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced that his government will establish an Rs 20,000-crore defence industrial production corridor in Bundelkhand—a region divided between Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh—that will generate 250,000 jobs and bring development to the region.
  • The government had earlier announced that it would develop two such corridors. The first of the two, announced by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his budget speech, is being built between Chennai and Bengaluru—connecting Kattupalli port, Chennai, Tiruchi, Coimbatore and Hosur.
  • The project, he said, would bring an investment of Rs 20,000 crore and generate employment avenues for 2.5 lakh people.

Highlights Of The Development-

  • The Prime Minister said that the decision to come with the defence production corridor to Uttar Pradesh was taken keeping in mind the developmental requirements of the Bundelkhand region. The corridor will link Agra, Aligarh, Lucknow, Kanpur, Jhansi and Chitrakoot.
  • PM Modi said that Uttar Pradesh had a vast potential for development, but needed policy, planning and performance. He lauded the efforts of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath for setting the state on the path to give a “super hit” performance.
  • The Prime Minister pointed out how air traffic in the state had grown by 30% in the past one year with just three international airports in Agra, Varanasi and Lucknow. He said that it was more than the national average and indicated a huge potential in the state for civil aviation. The Prime Minister said more airports will be initiated in multiple parts of the state. New airports will give it (the air traffic in Uttar Pradesh) an additional boost. The state is also home to the largest rail network, the PM said.
  • The Prime Minister said that the Centrally-sponsored farmers’ property scheme will reduce the wastage of crops-grains-fruits and vegetables as the government was also keen on modernising the entire supply chain and infrastructure for the agriculture and allied sectors to help in doubling farmers’ income by 2022.
  • He said the initiatives would help the state in particular because it is ranked number one in the country in production of foodgrains, wheat, sugarcane, milk, potato production. It is number two in terms of vegetable production and third in fruit production.
  • The Prime Minister also launched an integrated digital clearance system portal of the state government which aims to minimise human interface and faster procedures, cut red tape and delays and offer solutions to investors.

Sources- Sunday Guardian Live.