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Bharat Stage VI Norms

Paper: General Studies 3

Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

Why in the news?

The Ministry of Road Transport & Highways has issued notification no GSR 547(E) dated 1st August 2019, exempting the armoured and other specialised vehicles of Indian armed forces and paramilitary forces from the new stringent vehicular emission norms (BS-VI) which are set to take effect from 1st April, 2020. The Ministry has also granted exemption to these vehicles from BS-IV compliance.

What are Bharat Stage VI norms?

  • The Bharat Stage emission standards are standards instituted by the government to regulate the output of air pollutants from motor vehicles from internal combustion engine equipment, including motor vehicles. India has been following European (Euro) emission norms, although with a time lag of five years. 
  • The BS IV norms had been enforced across the country since April 2017. In 2016, the Centre had announced that the country would skip the BS-V norms altogether and adopt BS-VI norms by 2020. Implementation of the intermediate BS-V standard was originally scheduled for 2019.
  • The main difference in standards between the existing BS-IV and the new BS-VI auto fuel norms is the presence of sulphur. The BS-VI fuel is estimated to bring around an 80 per cent reduction of sulphur, from 50 parts per million to 10 ppm. According to analysts, the emission of NOx (nitrogen oxides) from diesel cars is also expected to come down by nearly 70 per cent and 25 per cent from cars with petrol engines.

 

Skills Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion (SANKALP)

Paper: General Studies 3

Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

Why in the news?

Minister of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship today reviewed the Ministry’s World Bank loan assisted “Skills Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion (SANKALP)” programme at the first Program Governance Board Meeting, which is the apex body for governance of the scheme.

What is the SANKALP programme?

  • Skills Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion (SANKALP) project aims to implement the mandate of the National Skill Development Mission (NSDM). It is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme.
  • The project will be implemented in mission mode through World Bank support and is aligned with the overall objectives of the NSDM. The main objectives of the project include strengthening institutional mechanisms at both national and state levels, building a pool of quality trainers and assessors, creating convergence among all skill training activities at the state level, establishing robust monitoring and evaluation system for skill training programs, providing access to skill training opportunities to the disadvantaged sections and most importantly supplement the Make in India initiative by catering to the skill requirements in relevant manufacturing sectors. 
  • SANKALP is an outcome oriented project supported by World Bank. The project will focus on the overall skilling ecosystem covering both Central (MSDE, NSDA and NSDC) and State agencies, and outcomes will be measured through Disbursement Linked Indicators (DLIs) agreed between MSDE and the Bank. A DLI verification protocol has also been established to measure DLIs on a periodic basis.
  • Under SANKALP four key result areas have been identified viz: (i) Institutional Strengthening; (ii) Quality Assurance; (iii) Inclusion; and (iv) Expanding Skills through PPPs. The results shall be achieved in time bound manner by utilizing the project funding of $675 Mn (Rs. 4455 crore). 
  • The project is funded by three major parts: (i) World Bank loan assistance of $ 500Mn (Rs. 3300 crore) under Program for Results (PforR) instrument which includes Program funding and Technical Assistance (TA); (ii) States’ contribution $100 Million (Rs. 660 crore); and (iii) Industry contribution of $75 Million (Rs. 495 crore)
  • The SANKALP program consists of four objectives: (i) Strengthened institutional mechanisms at National and State levels to guide planning, delivery and monitoring of market relevant training; (ii) Improved Quality and Market Relevance of SD programs; (iii) Improved access to and completion of skills training for female trainees and other disadvantaged groups; and (iv) Expanding skills training through private-public partnerships (PPPs). 

 

 

Pashmina

Paper: General Studies 3

Topic: economics of animal-rearing

Why in the news?

Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has published an Indian Standard for identification, marking and labelling of Pashmina products to certify its purity. 

About Pashmina

  • The Changthangi or Pashmina goat, is a special breed of goat indigenous to the high altitude regions of Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir. They are raised for ultra-fine cashmere wool, known as Pashmina once woven. The Textiles are handspun and were first woven in Kashmir. The Changthangi goat grows a thick, warn undercoat which is the source of Kashmir Pashmina wool – the world’s finest cashmere measuring between 12-15 microns in fiber thickness.
  • These goats are generally domesticated and reared by nomadic communities called the Changpa in the Changthang region of Greater Ladakh. The Changthangi goats have revitalized the economy of Changthang, Leh and Ladakh region.
  • The nomadic Pashmina herders live in the hostile and tough terrain of Changthang and are solely dependent on Pashmina for their livelihood. At present, there are 2400 families rearing 2.5 lakh goats. This initiative of hallmarking Pashmina will protect the interests of these families, motivate the younger generation to continue in this profession as well as encourage more families to take up this occupation.
  • Ladakh produces 50 MT of the finest grade of Pashmina in the world (12-15 microns) and this initiative will provide further impetus towards value addition of Pashmina in Ladakh.  Ministry of Textiles is processing a proposal for funding of Rs. 20 crore for a de-hairing plant for Leh which along with this initiative will lead to progress in the Pashmina sector in Ladakh.

 

Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2019

Paper: General Studies 3

Topic: Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security.

Why in the news?

Rajya Sabha passed the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2019.

What are the key amendments in the  UAPA Amendment Bill, 2019?

  • Who may commit terrorism: Under the Act, the central government may designate an organisation as a terrorist organisation if it: (i) commits or participates in acts of terrorism, (ii) prepares for terrorism, (iii) promotes terrorism, or (iv) is otherwise involved in terrorism.  The Bill also empowers the government to designate individuals as terrorists on the same grounds.  
  • Approval for seizure of property by NIA: Under the Act, an investigating officer is required to obtain the prior approval of the Director General of Police to seize properties that may be connected with terrorism.  The Bill adds that if the investigation is conducted by an officer of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), the approval of the Director General of NIA would be required for seizure of such property.  
  • Investigation by NIA: Under the Act, investigation of cases may be conducted by officers of the rank of Deputy Superintendent or Assistant Commissioner of Police or above.  The Bill additionally empowers the officers of the NIA, of the rank of Inspector or above, to investigate cases.
  • Insertion to schedule of treaties: The Act defines terrorist acts to include acts committed within the scope of any of the treaties listed in a schedule to the Act.  The Schedule lists nine treaties, including the Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings (1997), and the Convention against Taking of Hostages (1979).  The Bill adds another treaty to the list. This is the International Convention for Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (2005).