National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF)
- National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) is a fund created by the Government of India for enhancing infrastructure financing in the country.
- This is different from the National Investment Fund.
- The NIIF will be established as one or more Alternate Investment Funds (AIF) under the SEBI Regulations.
- NIIF would have full autonomy for project selection.
- NIIF would formulate guidelines and would follow due processes for selection criteria for AMCs (Asset Management Company’s) and Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs) / Financial Institutions (FIs).
National Investment Fund
- The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on 27th January 2005 had approved the constitution of a National Investment Fund (NIF).
- The Purpose of the fund was to receive disinvestment proceeds of central public-sector enterprises and to invest the same to generate earnings without depleting the corpus.
- The earnings of the Fund were to be used for selected Central social welfare Schemes. This fund was kept outside the consolidated fund of India.
UN MSME Day
- The General Assembly, in 2017, recognizing the need to improve small business access to microfinance and credit, decided to designate 27 June as Micro-, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Day. The goal is to encourage member states to facilitate observance of the day by increasing awareness and actions to support small business.
- The resolution was introduced by the delegation of Argentina, co-sponsored by 54 member states and adopted without a vote by the 193-member General Assembly on 6 April 2017.
- Micro-, small and medium sized enterprises are vital in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, in particular in promoting innovation, creativity and decent work for all.
- Efforts to enhance access to finance for SMEs across key sectors of national economies are an important element of implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). SDG targets 8.3 and 9.3 call for enhancing the access of SMEs to financial services. In addition, SMEs are an important element in the implementation of SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth) and SDG 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure).
World Solar Bank
- The International Solar Alliance (ISA) plans to approach multilateral development banks (MDBs) such as Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) to create a special purpose vehicle (SPV) to specifically finance solar projects. This SPV aimed at financing $150 billion would become a World Solar Bank.
- The proposal for a World Solar Bank comes against the backdrop of ISA’s mission to undertake joint efforts required to reduce the cost of finance and the cost of technology. It needs to mobilize more than $1,000 billion of investments by 2030 for massive deployment of solar energy and pave the way for future technologies.
- The ISA is not only expected to spur innovation in the RE space but also help make India a technological hub with independent manufacturing capabilities of RE equipment like solar panels, rather than being dependent on imports, through initiatives like ‘Make in India’. India’s Ministry of External Affairs is expected to play a role in “marrying Indian tech and finance capabilities with specific projects around the world”.
- India announced a goal of obtaining 40% of its electricity from non-fossil fuels by 2030 at the Paris climate change summit. It is close to achieving 20 GW grid connected solar power generation capacity this fiscal year (2018), in pursuit of achieving its target of 100 GW by 2022.
- The Mesoamerican Reef is an underwater wonder world in the coast of Belize.
- It is second in size only to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
- The Caribbean reef was named to the prestigious World Heritage List in 1996.
- It was placed on endangered status in 2009 because of Belize’s plans to allow oil exploration nearby.
- The reef’s survival was considered to be at risk for years.
- It may now be removed from UNESCO’s list of threatened World Heritage Sites due to the efforts of activists and the Belizean government.
Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN 21)
- It is the global renewable energy policy multi-stakeholder network that connects a wide range of key actors.
- REN21 was launched in June 2004 as an outcome of the International Conference for Renewable Energies in Bonn, Germany.
- The REN21 Secretariat is based at UN Environment in Paris, France, and is a registered non-profit association under German law.
- The organisation has more than 60 members and with its governance structure consists of the Bureau, the Steering Committee and REN21 Members.
Asset Reconstruction Company (ARC)
- It is a specialized financial institution that buys the NPAs or bad assets from banks and financial institutions so that the latter can clean up their balance sheets.
- The Securitization and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest (SARFAESI) Act, 2002; enacted in December 2002 provides the legal basis for the setting up ARCs in India.
- The SARFAESI Act helps the reconstruction of bad assets without the intervention of courts.
- Currently, there are 24 ARCs, which are registered with the RBI.
- It is a law enforcement agency and economic intelligence agency responsible for enforcing economic laws and fighting economic crime in India.
- It is part of the Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance.
- The prime objective of the Enforcement Directorate is the enforcement of two key Acts- the Foreign Exchange Management Act 1999 (FEMA) and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act 2002 (PMLA).
- Other objectives are primarily linked to checking money laundering in India.
- It comprises officers of the Indian Revenue Service, Indian Police Service and the Indian Administrative Service.
- The origin of this Directorate goes back to 1 May 1956, when an ‘Enforcement Unit’ was formed, in Department of Economic Affairs, for handling Exchange Control Laws violations under Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, 1947. In the year 1957, this Unit was renamed as ‘Enforcement Directorate’.
- In a goodwill gesture, Seychelles has gifted a pair of giant Aldabra tortoise to India. The pair will be kept at Hyderabad Zoo.
- The Aldabra Giant Tortoise (Aldabrachelys gigantea) from the Aldabra Atoll in the Seychelles is said to be one of the largest species of tortoises on the planet.
- It is also one of the world’s longest living animals, with one Aldabra Giant Tortoise reaching the age of 255 years.
- The Aldabra giant tortoise’s current IUCN conservation status is ‘vulnerable’.
- The atoll has been protected from human influence and is home to around 100,000 giant tortoises, the world’s largest population of the animal.
Cassini Huygens mission
- Information collected by Cassini spacecraft has discovered complex organic molecules on Saturn’s moon “Enceladus”, indicating possible support of life.
- Cassini Huygens mission was a collaboration between NASA, Europian Space Agency and Italy Space Agency to study Saturn, it’s ecosystem, rings and natural moons. Cassini was the fourth space mission to visit Saturn and the first to enter its orbit.
- Cassini has previously detected lightweight organic molecules at Enceladus but the newly found fragments are much larger. Such large molecules can only be created by complex chemical processes including those related to life.
Global Environment Facility
- India has announced it will increase for the next four years the money it pays to the Global Environment Facility (GEF), a mechanism to provide grants for environment projects. India will increase its commitments from $12 million to $15 million to the GEF’s new four-year investment cycle, known as GEF-7.
- The Global Environment Facility was established on the eve of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit to help tackle our planet’s most pressing environmental problems.
- It is an international partnership of 183 countries, international institutions, civil society organizations and the private sector that addresses global environmental issues.
- GEF funds are available to developing countries and countries with economies in transition to meet the objectives of the international environmental conventions and agreements.
- The World Bank serves as the GEF Trustee, administering the GEF Trust Fund.
- It is a financial mechanism for five major international environmental conventions: the Minamata Convention on Mercury, the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD), the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
National Export Insurance Account Trust:
- Cabinet approves a Corpus to National Export Insurance Account Trust.
- The Corpus would strengthen NEIA to support project exports from the country that are of strategic and national importance.
- National Export Insurance Account (NEIA) is a trust set up by the Ministry of Commerce and administered by Export Credit & Guarantee Corporation of India (ECGC).
- Sant Kabir Das was a very renowned saint, poet and social reformer of India who lived during the 15th century. His esteemed works and poems describe the greatness and oneness of the Supreme Being.
- He did not believe in any religious discrimination and readily accepted all the religions. Sant Kabir Das propagated that there is the presence of same Supreme Being in all religions.
- Sant Kabir Das was a highly acclaimed poet of his time. His writings significantly influenced the Bhakti movement. Some of his famous writings include ‘Sakhi Granth’, ‘Anurag Sagar’, ‘Bijak’ and ‘Kabir Granthawali’.
- A religious community known as ‘Kabir Panth’ was founded by him and the members of this forum are referred as ‘Kabir Panthis’, implying the followers of Kabir Das. He was admired by individual of all faiths and his teachings are still alive and passed from generations.
- Swami Ramananda influence: Kabir Das’ ideologies were greatly influenced by Vaishnava saint Swami Ramananda who accepted Kabir as his disciple.
- The UP Tourism department has initiated to promote Maghar as a tourist destination where Hindus have built a temple in memory of Kabir, while Muslims have constructed a mausoleum in his memory.