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Evening News Digest: 20 November 2018

PM inaugurates Kundli-Manesar Section of Western Peripheral Expressway

Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Kundli-Manesar section of the Western Peripheral Expressway on 19th Nov. He also inaugurated the 3.2-kilometre long Escorts Mujesar-Ballabhgarh corridor of the Delhi Metro. Mr Modi also laid the foundation stone for Vishwakarma Kaushal Vishwa Vidyalaya.

Western Peripheral Expressway

The Western Peripheral Expressway also known as KMP expressway is expected to divert more than 50 thousand heavy vehicles away from Delhi. The 136-kilometre long six-lane expressway which has been built at a cost of over 6 thousand 400 crore rupees will not only ease the burden of heavy traffic using Delhi as the transit point but also provide the high-speed link between northern and southern districts of Haryana. 

Vehicles going from North India using the expressway can go to Western and Southern parts without entering Delhi. Commuting will be easier for over 2 lakh people after the opening of the Escorts Mujesar-Ballabhgarh corridor of the Delhi Metro. 

PM launches Ease of Doing Business Grand Challenge

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 19, 2018 launched the Ease of Doing Business grand challenge on resolving seven identified ease of doing business problems with the use of cutting-edge technologies.

Ease of Doing Business Ranking

The Doing Business Ranking is an annual assessment conducted by the World Bank that measures aspects of regulation affecting 10 areas of the life of a business, evaluating 190 countries on 10 specific indicators.

The scores are based on the measures implemented by the Government departments, however, they also reflect the experience of industry users that is counted in the rankings.

The 10 indicators include starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property, getting credit, protecting minority interests, paying taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts and resolving insolvency.

EODB Challenge

The grand challenge seeks to invite innovative ideas from individuals, startups or other enterprises to implement artificial intelligence, Big Data Analytics, Internet of Things (IoT), Blockchain and other cutting-edge technologies for re-engineering related Government processes to eliminate physical interface, improve service delivery, enhance transparency and reduce cost and time.

The top 3 teams for each problem statement would be awarded cash prizes worth Rs 1 lakh, Rs 2 lakh and Rs 3 lakh respectively.

India’s Rank

In the World Bank's Doing Business Report (DBR, 2019) released on October 31, 2018 India recorded a jump of 23 positions from 100 in 2017 to 77 in 2018, among a total of 190 countries.

Civil Aviation Ministry launches AirSewa 2.0

Union Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu and Minister of State for Civil Aviation, Jayant Sinha on November 19, 2018 launched the upgraded version of AirSewa 2.0 web portal and mobile app in New Delhi.

Highlights of the AirSewa 2.0

The major improvements in the upgraded version of the web portal include features such as secure sign-up and log-in with social media, chatbot for travellers support, improved grievance management including social media grievances.

It will allow flyers to register their complaints through social media using the hashtag 'AirSewa'.

It will provide all the required information about flights operating from various airports across the country including real-time flight status and details of flight schedule.

It will provide all services and facilities including assistance to the disabled or unaccompanied minor that are available at the airports in India.

AirSewa 1.0

The Ministry of Civil Aviation launched AirSewa web portal and mobile app in November 2016 to address this need. The AirSewa 1.0 was received well, with around 30,000 app downloads and around 75,000 web portal hits since its launch. 

SEZ Policy Report Submitted to Commerce Minister

The Baba Kalyani led committee constituted by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry to study the existing SEZ policy of India submitted its report to Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu, in New Delhi on November 19, 2018.

Highlights of the report:

The Committee’s chairman, Baba Kalyani, while submitting the report to the Commerce Minister said that if India is going to become a USD 5 trillion economy by 2025 then the current environment of manufacturing competitiveness and services has to undergo a basic paradigm shift.

The report notes that the success seen by services sectors like IT and ITES has to be promoted in other services sector like health care, financial services, legal, repair and design services.

The Union Government has set the target of creating 100 million jobs and achieving 25 per cent of GDP from the manufacturing sector by 2022, as a part of its flagship ‘Make in India’ programme.

The Government also plans to increase manufacturing value to USD 1.2 trillion by 2025. 

While these are ambitious plans to propel India into a growth trajectory, it requires an evaluation of existing policy frameworks to catalyse manufacturing sector growth. 

At the same time, the policy needs to be compiled with the relevant WTO regulations.

Baba Kalyani Committee

In June 2018, the Union Commerce Ministry set up a committee headed by Bharat Forge chairman Baba Kalyani to make its special economic zone (SEZ) policy compatible with World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules after the US challenged India’s export subsidy programme at the multilateral trade body.

Commerce Minister Releases Report on Industrial Park Rating System

The Union Commerce Minister, Suresh Prabhu on November 19, 2018 released a report on Industrial Park Rating System. The report was prepared by the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP) under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

Highlights of the report:

The Ministry has undertaken the exercise of studying infrastructure across states and in 3354 industrial clusters in order to assess the quality of infrastructure in industrial parks, to ensure that India moves into the top 50 countries in Ease of Doing Business.
The database includes 3000 parks and all the industrial parks will be rated on the following 4 points: 

1. Internal infrastructure

2. External infrastructure

3. Business services and facilities

4. Environment and safety management

To optimise resource utilisation and enhance the efficiency of the manufacturing sector, the DIPP has launched the Industrial Information System (IIS), a GIS-enabled database of industrial areas and clusters across the country in May 2017. 

The portal serves as a one-stop solution to the free and easy accessibility of all industrial information including availability of raw material – agriculture, horticulture, minerals, natural resources, distance from key logistic nodes, layers of terrain and urban infrastructure.
The portal has been actively used by the State Governments and Industrial Development Corporations over the last one year and they have nominated over 200 parks for assessment along the above parameters.  

World’s standard definition of kilogram, Second & Metre redefined

Metrologists and policy-makers from 60 countries around the world have unanimously agreed to change the definition of four units of measurement.

At a meeting 16 Nov at the General Conference on Weights and Measures (CGPM) in Versailles, France, delegates voted to redefine the International System of Units (SI), changing the world’s definition of the kilogram, the ampere, the kelvin and the mole. The changes will now come into force on 20 May 2019.

SI Units:

There are seven base units of the SI: the second, metre, kilogram, ampere, kelvin, mole and candela.  Some have long been based on physical constants.

The metre, for example, has been defined since 1983 as the length of the path travelled by light in vacuum during a time interval of 1/299 792 458 seconds. But the four that metrologists today agreed to redefine were previously based on something – i.e. an object, experiment or phenomenon — meaning that its value is not universal.

New Definition of Kilogram

The biggest change will be to the kilogram, which is currently set by a 143-year-old platinum alloy cylinder, dubbed “Le Grand K” housed in the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM) in Paris. The kilogram will now be defined in terms of the Planck constant, h, which has been measured with extraordinary precision in recent years. Its agreed value will be set as 6.626 070 15 × 10–34 kg m2 s–1.

Maldives cabinet approves to rejoin Commonwealth

The Maldives cabinet has approved to rejoin the Commonwealth, two years after withdrawing from the 53-nation grouping. New President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih made the announcement on 19 Nov, saying that the proposal will be sent to Parliament for ratification.

Maldives left the Commonwealth during former President Abdulla Yameen's administration in October 2016, amid mounting pressure over corruption and deteriorating human rights.

Nari Sashaktikaran Sankalp Abhiyan launched by UP Chief Minister

In Uttar Pradesh, Nari Sashaktikaran Sankalp Abhiyan or Women Empowerment campaign will be launched by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in Lucknow on 19 Nov.

The month-long campaign is aimed to empower women in the state through various programmes.

It includes many issues like education, self-employment, health, cleanliness, nutrition. 

RBI decided set up expert panel to look into issues on capital surplus

The RBI board on 19 Nov decided to set up a high-powered committee to examine issues related to surplus capital of Rs 9.69 lakh crore with the central bank and advised it to consider a scheme for restructuring stressed assets in the MSME sector.

The Board for Financial Supervision (BFS) of the RBI would examine the issues concerning the banks health under Prompt Corrective Action (PCA) framework and the Economic Capital Framework - ECF of RBI.

On the capital framework issue, RBI will form an expert panel to study if RBI has surplus reserves and whether the same should be transferred to the government. The Reserve Bank and the Finance Ministry will decide the committee’s composition.

To provide relief to the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises -- which employ 12 crore people -- the board advised the bank to consider a scheme for "restructuring of stressed standard assets" of borrowers with aggregate credit facilities of up to Rs. 25 crore, the RBI said. Under this, MSMEs in financial difficulties will get concessions from the bank.

The board, while deciding to retain the CRAR (Capital to Risk (Weighted) Assets Ratio) at 9 percent, agreed to extend the transition period for implementing the last tranche of 0.625 percent under the Capital Conservation Buffer (CCB), by one year, i.e., up to March 31, 2020.

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