GS Paper I- History and Geography of the World and Society.
India Slips To 42nd Place On EIU Democracy Index; US At 21st.
- India has slipped to 42nd place on an annual Global Democracy Index amid “rise of conservative religious ideologies” and increase in vigilantism and violence against minorities as well as other dissenting voices.
- While Norway has again topped the list, followed by Iceland and Sweden, compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), India has moved down from 32nd place last year and remains classified among “flawed democracies”.
- The index ranks 165 independent states and two territories on the basis of five categories: electoral process and pluralism, civil liberties, the functioning of government, political participation and political culture. The list has been divided into four broad categories—full democracy, flawed democracy, hybrid regime and authoritarian regime.
Highlights Of The Development-
- The US (ranked 21), Japan, Italy, France, Israel, Singapore, and Hong Kong have also been named among ‘flawed democracies’. The EIU is the research and analysis division of the UK- based media behemoth The Economist Group. Created in 1946, the EIU describes itself as having over 70 years of experience in helping businesses, financial firms and governments to understand how the world is changing and how that creates opportunities to be seized and risks to be managed.
- The top three positions on the list are occupied by Nordic countries—Norway, Iceland and Sweden. New Zealand is at fourth and Denmark at fifth place, while others in top ten include Ireland, Canada, Australia, Finland and Switzerland.
- Only top 19 countries have been classified as ‘full democracies’, while the hybrid regimes include Pakistan (110th), Bangladesh (92nd), Nepal (94th) and Bhutan (99th). Those named as ‘authoritarian regimes’ include China (139th), Myanmar (120th), Russia (135th) and Vietnam (140th). North Korea is ranked the lowest at 167th, while Syria is a notch better at 166th place.
- Top-ranked Norway has been given an overall score of 9.87 with perfect-ten scores for electoral process and pluralism; political participation; and political culture. India’s overall score has fallen to 7.23 points, even as it scored well on electoral process and pluralism (9.17). It has not managed to score so well on other four parameters—political culture, functioning of government, political participation and civil liberties.
- This year’s report which also measured the state of media freedom around the world noted that in India, media is ‘partially free’. Moreover, journalists are at risk from government, military and non-state actors and radical groups, and the threat of violence has a chilling effect on media coverage.
GS Paper II- International Relations.
CSL Inks MoU With Russian Firm To Develop Specialized Vessels For Inland And Coastal Shipping.
- The Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL) and a Russia-based firm have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to collaborate and engage in design, development and execution of contemporary state-of-the-art vessels for inland and coastal waterways in the country.
- CSL Chairman and Managing Director Madhu S Nair and President of United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC) Alexey Rakhmanov inked the MoU in the presence of Union Transport, Highways and Shipping Minister in New Delhi on 1st February, 2018.
- CSL and USC will collaborate for development of high-speed vessels, river-sea cargo vessels, passenger vessels, dredgers, and other watercrafts for inland waterways and coastal shipping.
Highlights Of The Development-
- The MoU will give a push to the governments Make-in-India programme as also its plans to develop eco-friendly and economic transportation along Indias inland waterways and coastal shipping routes under “SAGARMALA” project.
- Once the infrastructure for water based transport was in place there will be a demand for different kinds of specialised vessels in the near and medium term.
- The MoU is an effort to get ready to cater to this demand, the release said.
- Speaking on the occasion, Gadkari said there was a huge potential in inland waterways, cruise tourism and RO-RO transportation in the country.
- This collaboration would certainly bring in the much needed product as well as market innovation while harnessing newer technologies, he added.
- USC, a Joint Stock company is the largest shipbuilding holding in Russia incorporating about 40 enterprises including shipyards, with more than 300 years of experience, which have been key contributors to the growth of inland waterways in Russia, the release said.
- CSL, a Mini Ratna company under the Ministry of Shipping, is the largest shipbuilding and repair facility in the country.
GS Paper III- Economic Development.
Union Government Launches GeM 3.0; Announces National Sellers On-Boarding Campaign.
- Government e Marketplace (GeM), has been envisaged by Government of India as the National Procurement Portal of India. GeM is coming up with a scaled up third version.
- The GeM 2.0 was launched as a pilot in August 2016 and its success led to this massive transformation program – GeM 3.0 which would offer standardised and enriched catalogue management, powerful search engine, real time price comparison, template-based Bid and RA creation, demand aggregation, e-EMD, e-PBG, user rating, advanced MIS and analytics and more.
- Some of the notable enhancements in the 3.0 version:
Market Based generic requirements across all government agencies, Standardisation of specifications of both products and services enabling empirical price comparability, Completely transparent transactions across all ranges, Generic standards established through universal service levels and cost comparison enabled etc.
Highlights Of The Development-
- Coinciding with the migration to the 3.0 version, National Sellers On-boarding Campaign has been launched to train sellers/ service providers for transition from GeM 2.0 to GeM 3.0. All MoU signed 20 State Capitals will be trained by GeM MSP trainers along with Business Groups – CII, ASSOCHAM and PHDCII. Senior Officers from GeM will visit these states to facilitate the transition.
- More than 200 people were trained and supported in registering during the walk-in Training cum Registration Centre organised on 27th and 28th January in GeM Office (Delhi) from 10am to 6pm. The officers of GeM and training team guided the sellers in registration on the new portal and listing of products. The GeM Contact Centre is also fully functioning during to handle any queries from the sellers.
- Commenting on the campaign, R.S. Chauhan, CEO, GeM said that redefining purchase/procurement; enhanced GeM 3.0 platform, delivered and to be operated by Intellect Design Arena Ltd – Managed Services Provider (MSP) and its consortium partners will further the Digital India vision of transparency, openness and fairness. GeM 3.0 has undergone a digital transformation with superior technology and ability to scale from the previous version. This will bring together many sellers and service providers for products and services across the country under one roof, truly making it a digital tool of empowerment and entrepreneurship.
- This initiative gives a huge uplift for growth of MSME’s, manufacturers & service providers. As Digital India aims to bring in maximum transparency by minimising Government’s human transactional interface, the launch of the Sellers On-boarding Campaign will streamline the procurement of goods and services making it an easy, go-to portal for sellers and service providers.