. Sikkim’s clean villages make it the kingdom of Swachh
Article delineates achievements under Swachh Bharat Mission
- Sikkim and Himachal Pradesh have the maximum percentage of villages that are ‘Open Defecation Free’ according to the criteria of the Swachh Bharat Mission
- The total number of districts declared ODF in the country stand at 23.
- Kerala leads in household toilet coverage, three cities from Karnataka find place in the new list
Parameters for assessing the performance
For purposes of assessing performance, the Swachh Bharat Mission considers
- individual household latrine coverage
- ODF (Open Defecation Free)
The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation defines ODF as “the termination of faecal-oral transmission, defined by no visible faeces found in the environment/village and every household as well as public/community institution using safe technology option for disposal of faeces.”
. Union Cabinet approves ratification of climate deal
Union Cabinet has approved the ratification of Paris agreement. It will be done on October 2nd 2016
Conditions for Paris pact to come to force
- The pact will come into force after it is ratified by at least 55 countries that account for 55 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions
- Present situation: Although 61 countries have ratified the agreement till now, India’s move to ratify it will bring the total emissions to 51.89 per cent
China & US have signed
China and the US – responsible for around 40 per cent of the world’s carbon emissions – have already jointly ratified the Paris climate change deal
. To revive an old friendship
The Russian Embassy announced that their first-ever joint military exercises with Pakistan, that were initially to be held in the sensitive Gilgit-Baltistan area this week, would be shifted with due respect to Indian sensitivities
The Russia-Pakistan joint exercises raise many questions.
- Why is India’s time-tested strategic partner engaging with Pakistan at this juncture?
- Is there a shift in Russian geostrategy and linkage with China that is impacting Moscow’s relations with India?
- Have India’s own foreign policy shifts and new relations set off a reaction in Russia?
Russia is concerned about the Chinese dominating Russian markets, exploiting Russian resources, and not backing Russian security concerns. China is enticing countries, including Russia, with its One Belt, One Road plan that will develop huge new linkages and develop trade routes. Pakistan is a satellite state for China. Russia has concerns about Central Asia vis-à-vis China and Pakistan.
What India needs to do?
In these circumstances, India has to rebuild on its strengths and common concerns with the Russians. They have to revitalise their earlier agreement on sharing intelligence for a joint strategy on terrorism. If India is concerned with state-sponsored terrorism from Pakistan, Russia is concerned with the backing that states are directly or indirectly giving to terror groups in West Asia and Central Asia.
- India will have to be more forthright in condemning states that on the pretext of regime change or local geopolitics are allowing the growth of terror groups in West Asia.
Russia had proposed a Russia-India-China (RIC) forum. India is hesitant about this because of the unresolved issues with China. This has not moved ahead like the BRICS has. Our argument should be, if China can have compromises and contradictions with the U.S., then why not with India? India can use some creative means to build an RIC alliance.
. India’s climate future at stake
India has decided to ratify Paris agreement. Author makes a point that India has shown haste in ratifying the agreement considering that European Union and a number of other developed nations have not yet ratified the agreement.
India’s position at G20
India had resolutely opposed any reference in the final communiqué to a definite timeline of ratification of the agreement.
Reason given: India was not ready yet in terms of domestic actions that are required for us to ratify or at least commit to ratify within 2016
Author states that centre should have resorted to widespread consultations with state governments, local self-governments in urban and rural areas
Why a relook is warranted wrt India’s INDC (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions)?
India is not bound to convert all of the INDCs that it has submitted to the final Nationally Determined Contributions that would be written into the treaty.
- That such a reconsideration is merited is clear from the emerging consensus among climate scientists that the 1.5°C “aspirational” target is unachievable while even 2°C will be very difficult.
Such goals can therefore only be achieved by turning the pressure on countries like India, since it is we (and several other smaller developing countries) who have yet to build for the future and erase our development deficits, and it is we who will need the flexibility of continued greenhouse gas to achieve these goals
Ratification & NSG
Instead of reconsidering INDCs, the government has been keener to link the ratification of the Paris Agreement to membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). After the Seoul meeting of the NSG, India had stated that it had hoped for membership of the NSG to take forward the process of ratifying the agreement but it has not worked.
- Linking the ratification to the difficulties of NSG membership, points to a lack of perspective in judging the long-term priorities for the Indian people
. No option but to talk
In the light of recent Uri attack and its aftermath, author stresses that India should not resort to reactionary policies
The international response
States with India: Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan. These international powers have sided with India and opted out of SAARC summit. Other countries have still not voiced their opinion as they are either not entirely convinced of who was behind the attack in Uri or are generally wary of what the diplomatic and military escalation will lead to.
Author states that,
- Both the countries are nuclear powers now and if other international powers join in the war of words, the escalation might gradually lead to a full blown war
- Terror groups also understand that a nuclear war is a possibility. They are of opinion that if world is not listening to their terror acts, it will certainly listen to the noise of an impending war and do something about the Kashmir issue
Author says that,
- Disputes between India & Pakistan will be solved over a long-term duration with no instant solution.
- Scrapping MFN status and Indus water treaty are not going to help India and at the most provide only short-term gains
- Pakistan should not allow any terror group to operate from inside its territory
Author concludes by saying that negotiation is the only answer. War is not going to solve anything. Both the governments should stop playing to jingoism and start building mutual trust and peace through confidence building measures.
. Centre to wind up Hindustan cables
The Cabinet has given its nod for a strategic sale of sick public sector firm Bharat Pumps and Compressors, and for the closure of Hindustan Cables that has stopped output since 2003
Closing of non-strategic PSUs
The department of public enterprises (DPE) under the ministry of heavy industries and public enterprises has asked ministries to close non-strategic PSUs that have no specific hope for revival in a time-bound manner
- As per its guidelines, public sector firms were to be categorised into strategic or non-strategic and ministries were to prescribe their revival or restructuring strategies. The department has stressed that the Centre has decided on an uniform policy for offering voluntary retirement to workers of firms that can’t be revived and modalities for disposing off their assets
- The guidelines prescribe that leasehold land would be dealt as per the terms of the lease and freehold land would be offered in following order of priority, to central government departments, central government bodies and public sector enterprises, state government departments and state government bodies or public sector firms
- In case such entities are not interested in taking the land of a PSU that is being wound up, for six months, then the land would be auctioned so that it can be put to productive use.
Government has approved an outlay of more than Rs.4,800 crore to pay statutory dues to these firms’ employees and creditors
- The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), chaired by PM has approved a proposal to provide a non-Plan loan to the Allahabad-based public sector unit (PSU) Bharat Pumps and Compressors Limited
Reason for closure
There is no production activity in the company since January 2003. With the present time bound closure of the company, the valuable assets of the company will be available for other optimum utilization
- The cabinet approved the closure of Hindustan Cables by offering a golden handshake to its employees and a Rs.305 crore one-time settlement to a consortium of its lenders led by State Bank of India
What is golden handshake?
It is a payment given to someone who is made redundant or retires early
. Government nod to link IT systems of CBEC with GST network
Articles discusses about the newly approved project Saksham
What is project Saksham?
Saksham will integrate integrate tax systems of the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) with the Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN) for a smooth roll out of the new indirect tax regime from April 1, 2017
- Cost: Project cleared by Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) will cost around Rs. 2256 Crore over seven years
Set up in 2008, the IT system of the CBEC will not be sufficient to cater to the increased workload expected under the GST regime. The Saksham project would step up the department’s technological capabilities in line with the GSTN.
- The project will help in implementation of GST, extension of the Indian Customs Single Window Interface for Facilitating Trade (SWIFT) and other taxpayer-friendly initiatives under Digital India and ease of doing business of the CBEC
- This IT infrastructure is also urgently required for continuation of CBEC’s e-services in Customs, central excise and service tax, implementation of taxpayer services such as scanned document upload facility, extension of Indian Customs SWIFT initiative and integration with government initiatives such as e-nivesh and e-sign