GS Paper I- History and Geography of the World and Society.
World’s Largest Solar Park Shakti Sthala Launched In Karnataka.
- The Karnataka government on 1st March, 2018 inaugurated the first phase of a 2,000 megawatts (MW) solar park in the drought-prone Pavagada region of Tumkur district, about 180km from Bengaluru.
- The first phase of the Rs16,500 crore park called “Shakti Sthala” will generate 600MW, while the balance 1,400MW is expected to be commissioned by the end of this year (2018), the government said in a statement.
- The solar project, touted as the largest in the world, is spread over 13,000 acres and five villages. It is part of the “Karnataka Solar Policy 2014-2021” which aims to decrease dependence on traditional power sources and move to environmentally friendly ones to meet the growing power needs of the state.
Highlights Of The Development-
- The park ties in with the centre’s scheme to generate 100 gigawatts (GW) of solar power by 2020.
- The land for the solar park has been taken on a 25-year lease by the government from around 2,300 farmers, and in return, they are paid an annual rental of Rs21,000 per acre, with scope for a 5% increase every two years.
- The move was intended to curb the mass migration of people from the region which has been declared drought-hit in 54 of the last 60 years.
- Development and economic growth of a nation occurs when its people become partners in the development process, Siddaramaiah said in a statement. He said the state was the third-largest renewable energy producer in the country and has set a target of sourcing at least 20% from renewable sources in the future.
- The park’s development was initiated with the creation of the Karnataka Solar Power Development Corp. Ltd (KSPDCL) in March 2015 as a joint venture between Karnataka Renewable Energy Development Ltd (KREDL) and Solar Energy Corp. of India (SECI).
- NTPC Ltd pulled out of the project a month ago (January, 2018) saying it was unable to supply procured power at the agreed cost. The move left the state government looking for fresh bids. Other setbacks include the postponing of auctions for 1,200MW capacity and legal complications with another 860MW.
- KSPDCL uses the “plug and play” model, under which it acquires and develops land as blocks for solar power generation, embedded with the required government approvals, and gives it out to solar power developers (SPDs) through auctions.
- Karnataka, which continues to face power shortage, increased its capacity from 14,030MW in 2012-13 to 23,379MW in January this year, through all sources including hydel, thermal, nuclear and biomass.
GS Paper II- International Relations.
Canadian Minister Launches Maple Assist App.
- Maple Assist Inc. has launched the Maple Assist App, a groundbreaking mobile application designed to be a one-stop shop for all Indian students need to know about studying in Canada.
- Developed in India, the Maple Assist App is supported by four leading colleges from Ontario, Durham College, Fanshawe College, Georgian College and St. Clair College.
- It is expected to reach out to over 100,000 international students desirous of studying in Canada, hailing from countries like India, China, Philippines, Japan, Brazil and Mexico.
Highlights Of The Development-
- The Maple Assist App was launched by Navdeep Bains, Canada’s Minister for Innovation, Science and Economic Development. The new venture is also supported by Scotia Bank, Air Canada, HDFC Credila, and the Indo-Canadian Business Chamber (ICBC).
- Keynote speeches at the launch were given by Kevin Weaver the Vice-President of International, Workforce Development and Partnerships at Georgian College, and Mark Herringer, Dean of International Education at Durham College. They were both enthusiastic about joining this pioneering service.
- As Weaver remarked, the App would help connect the right students to the right programmes at the right colleges in Canada.
- Those present included Arun Pandeya, Country Head, Air Canada, Nadira Hamid, CEO of ICBC, and Hitesh Parashar, Country Sales Manager for HDFC Credila. The High Commission of Canada in India was represented by Anuj Bhasin, Trade Commissioner for Education, and Terrie Romano, Counsellor (Economic Affairs-Ontario).
- Vinay Chaudhry, Founder, CEO and the driving force behind Maple Assist shared that as an international student himself in Canada, he had experienced the stress of studying abroad and trying to settle into college life.
- He said that the Maple Assist app would provide all the information necessary for a stress-free, enjoyable journey for prospective Canadian students worldwide, right at their fingertips. The Maple Assist app is expected to partner with many more Canadian colleges and universities in coming years.
- This hold true for the students who have used the beta release of the App. Ananta Bhatt from Mumbai, pursuing Software and Information System Testing, has said that all information is provided on the Maple Assist App.
GS Paper III- Economic Development.
Cabinet Approves Establishment Of National Financial Reporting Authority.
- The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the proposal for establishment of National Financial Reporting Authority (NFRA) and creation of one post of Chairperson, three posts of full-time Members and one post of Secretary for NFRA.
- The decision aims at establishment of NFRA as an independent regulator for the auditing profession which is one of the key changes brought in by the Companies Act, 2013. The inclusion of the provision in the Act was on the specific recommendations of the Standing Committee on Finance (in its 21st report).
Highlights Of The Development-
- The decision is expected to result in improved foreign/domestic investments, enhancement of economic growth, supporting the globalisation of business by meeting international practices, and assist in further development of audit profession.
- The jurisdiction of NFRA for investigation of Chartered Accountants and their firms under section 132 of the Act would extend to listed companies and large unlisted public companies, the thresholds for which shall be prescribed in the Rules.
- The Central Government can also refer such other entities for investigation where public interest would be involved.
- The inherent regulatory role of ICAI as provided for in the Chartered Accountants Act, 1949 shall continue in respect of its members in general and specifically with respect to audits pertaining to private limited companies, and public unlisted companies below the threshold limit to be notified in the rules.
- The Quality Review Board (QRB) will also continue quality audit in respect of private limited companies, public unlisted companies below prescribed threshold and also with respect to audit of those companies that may be delegated to QRB by NFRA. Further, ICAI shall continue to play its advisory role with respect to accounting and auditing standards and policies by making its recommendations to NFRA.
- The need for establishing NFRA has arisen on account of the need felt across various jurisdictions in the world, in the wake of accounting scams, to establish independent regulators, independent from those it regulates, for enforcement of auditing standards and ensuring the quality of audits to strengthen the independence of audit firms, quality of audits and, therefore, enhance investor and public confidence in financial disclosures of companies.