- REDD means “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation”.
- First negotiated under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2005.
- It is the collaborative programme of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
- Its main objective is to reduce greenhouse gases.
- REDD+ means “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation”, conservation of forest carbon stocks, sustainable management of forests, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries.
- REDD+ aims to achieve climate change mitigation by incentivizing forest conservation.
National REDD+ Strategy
- It has been prepared by Indian Council of Forestry Research & Education (ICFRE), Dehradun.
- It will further supplement India’s commitment of the 2015 Paris agreement.
- Under it, Green Skill Development programme will be launched.
- The National REDD+ Strategy will soon be communicated to the UNFCCC.
- Payments banks will mainly deal in remittance services and accept deposits of up to Rs 1 lakh.
- They will not lend to customers and will have to deploy their funds in government papers and bank deposits.
- The promoter’s minimum initial contribution to equity capital will have to be at least 40% for the first five years.
- They can accept demand deposits.
- Payments bank will initially be restricted to holding a maximum balance of Rs. 100,000 per individual customer.
- They can issue ATM/debit cards but not credit cards.
- They can carry out payments and remittance services through various channels.
- Distribution of non-risk sharing simple financial products like mutual fund units and insurance products, etc. is allowed.
Atal Ranking of Institutions on Innovation Achievements (ARRIA):
- Named after former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
- It will be launched on 15th October, on the occasion of the birth anniversary of former President APJ Abdul Kalam.
- To promote a culture of innovation and research in higher education.
- ARIIA will rank educational institutions for innovation output based on all major indicators and parameters used globally.
Jal Marg Vikas Project:
- The Jal Marg Vikas Project seeks to facilitate plying of vessels with capacity of 1,500-2,000 tonnes in the Haldia- Varanasi stretch of the River Ganga. The major works being taken up under JMVP are development of fairway, Multi-Modal Terminals, strengthening of river navigation system, conservancy works, modern River Information System (RIS), Digital Global Positioning System (DGPS), night navigation facilities, modern methods of channel marking etc.
- The JMVP, which is expected to be completed by March, 2023, is being implemented with the financial and technical support of the World Bank. The project will enable commercial navigation of vessels with the capacity of 1500-2,000 tons on NW-I.
- Alternative mode of transport that will be environment friendly and cost effective. The project will contribute in bringing down the logistics cost in the country. Mammoth Infrastructure development like multi-modal and inter-modal terminals, Roll on – Roll off (Ro-Ro) facilities, ferry services, navigation aids. Socio-economic impetus; huge employment generation.
- Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) is the statutory authority in charge of the waterways in India. Its headquarters is located in Noida, UP. It does the function of building the necessary infrastructure in these waterways, surveying the economic feasibility of new projects and also administration.
- Ganga-Bhagirathi-Hooghly river system from Allahabad to Haldia was declared as National Waterway No.1. States covered under NW-1: States: Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal.
Exercise KAKADU 2018
- Exercise KAKADU, which started in 1993.
- It is a premier multilateral regional maritime engagement.
- Hosted by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and supported by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).
- It is held biennially in Darwin and the Northern Australian Exercise Areas (NAXA).
- KAKADU 2018, the fourteenth edition of the exercise.
- It would see participation from 23 warships, one submarine, 45 aircraft, 250 marines and approximately 52 foreign staff from over 25 different countries.
- Exercise KAKADU derives its name from Kakadu National Park, which is a protected area in the northern territory of Australia, 171 km south-east of Darwin.
- India has invited Pakistani experts to visit the sites of its two hydropower projects on the Chenab river next month to address its concerns.
- The 1,000 megawatt Pakal Dul hydroelectric power project on Marusadar River, a tributary of Chenab River, in Jammu and Kashmir will provide 12% free power to the state.
- The project will not only be the largest hydroelectric power project in the state but also the first storage unit.
International Energy Agency
- The IEA works to ensure reliable, affordable and clean energy for its 30 member countries and beyond. Our mission is guided by four main areas of focus: energy security, economic development, environmental awareness and engagement worldwide.
- a Paris-based autonomous intergovernmental organization established in the framework of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 1974 in the wake of the 1973 oil crisis. The IEA was initially dedicated to responding to physical disruptions in the supply of oil, as well as serving as an information source on statistics about the international oil market and other energy sectors.
- India has joined the International Energy Agency as an associate member in May-2018, a development that the IEA said makes the prestigious Paris-based body more relevant and reflects the country’s move to the centre stage of the global energy dialogue.
- The inclusion of India, the world’s third-largest oil consumer, is an important achievement for the body that has acted as the energy watchdog for the developed world and has also promoted clean energy and environment protection.
- India is not a member of IEA.
- Only the OECD member states can become members of the IEA.
- Except for Chile, Iceland, Israel, and Slovenia, all OECD member states are members of the IEA.
- In 2014, Estonia joined the IEA and became its 29th member.
- Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Morocco, Singapore and Thailand are the associate members of IEA.
- It publishes the World Energy Outlook.
Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS)
- Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) is a scheme formulated on 23rd December 1993.
- It provides that each member of parliament of India has the choice to suggest to the Head of the District works to the tune of ₹5 crore per year, to be taken up in his/her constituency.
- Initially, this scheme was administered by the Ministry of Rural Development.
- Later, in October 1994, Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MOSPI) has been looking into its working.
- Elected Members of Rajya Sabha representing the whole of the State as they do, may select works for implementation in one or more district(s) as they may choose.
- Nominated Members of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha may also select works for implementation in one or more districts, anywhere in the country.
- It also allows MPs to spend up to ₹10 lakh in any other constituency in India.
Swadhar Greh Scheme:
- The Swadhar scheme was launched by the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development in 2002 for rehabilitation of women in difficult circumstances.
- The scheme provides shelter, food, clothing and care to the marginalized women/girls who are in need.
- The beneficiaries include widows deserted by their families and relatives, women prisoners released from jail and without family support, women survivors of natural disasters, women victims of terrorist/extremist violence etc.
- Recently Union Ministry of Women and Child Development recently inaugurated widows’ home ‘Krishna Kutir’at Vrindavan in Mathura, Uttar Pradesh. The construction of the home was funded by Central Government and it will be managed by the Uttar Pradesh Government.
- Krishna Kutir is a special home for 1000 widows set under Swadhar Greh scheme and is the largest ever facility of its kind created by government organization. It was constructed to mitigate the plight of widows living in pathetic condition in Vrindavan.
Indus Water Treaty:
- India and Pakistan have agreed to undertake the Indus Waters Treaty mandated tours by their Commissioners in the Indus basin on both sides to resolve issues on the various hydroelectric projects, including the Pakal Dul and Lower Kalnai in Jammu and Kashmir.
- The recently concluded deliberations were held to further strengthen the role of the Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) for matters under the 1960 Treaty.
- Signed in 1960 by then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and then Pakistan President Ayub Khan, the treaty allocates 80% of water from the six-river Indus water system to Pakistan.
- Beas, Ravi, Sutlej, Indus, Chenab and Jhelum from the Indus water system that flows from India to Pakistan. The Indus river basin spans parts of 4 countries (Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and China) in an area that is more than 30% arid.
- Under the treaty, control over six north Indian rivers were divided between the two countries. India got control over the rivers Beas, Ravi and Sutlej whereas Pakistan got control over Indus, Chenab and Jhelum.
- This is a unique treaty involving a third party. It was brokered by the World Bank.
- A Permanent Indus Commission was set up as a bilateral commission to implement and manage the Treaty. The Commission solves disputes arising over water sharing.
- The Treaty also provides arbitration mechanism to solve disputes amicably.
East Asia Summit:
- The East Asia Summit (EAS) is a forum held annually by leaders of, initially, 16 countries in the East Asian, Southeast Asian and South Asian regions. Membership expanded to 18 countries including the United States and Russia at the Sixth EAS in 2011.
- EAS meetings are held after annual ASEAN leaders’ meetings. The first summit was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 14 December 2005.
- EAS is an initiative of ASEAN and is based on the premise of the centrality of ASEAN.
- EAS has evolved as a forum for strategic dialogue and cooperation on political, security and economic issues of common regional concern and plays an important role in the regional architecture.
- There are six priority areas of regional cooperation within the framework of the EAS. These are – Environment and Energy, Education, Finance, Global Health Issues and Pandemic Diseases, Natural Disaster Management, and ASEAN Connectivity. India endorses regional collaboration in all six priority areas.
- 6th East Asia Summit- Economic Ministers’ Meeting (EAS-EMM) was recently held in Singapore.
The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA)Observatory
- ALMA is an astronomical interferometer of radio telescopes in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile.
- The array has been constructed on the Chajnantor plateau at an elevation of 5,000m.
- It consists of 66 radio telescopes.
- ALMA is an international partnership among Europe, the United States, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Chile.
- It is the most expensive ground-based telescope in operation.
- ALMA is expected to provide insight on star birth during the early universe and detailed imaging of local star and planet formation.
- The ‘monster galaxy’ is around 12 billion light years from Earth.
- It gives birth to new stars around 1,000 times faster than our own galaxy, the Milky Way.
- It has been christened ‘COSMOS-AzTEC-1’.
- The scientists used the ALMA Observatory in Chile to capture observations the galaxy with a resolution 10 times greater than any previous effort.
- The Milky Way has a single, thick core with spiral arms stretching outwards.
- But COSMOS-AzTEC-1 has three cores – or two smaller cores that exist with their own discs many light years away from the centre one.
- In a normal galaxy, the gravity pushing inwards and pressure pushing outwards are balanced.
- But this one is experiencing a massive gravitational collapse that is probably what’s causing its fast-paced star formation.
- 15th ASEAN Economic Ministers – India Consultation was recently held in Singapore. Singapore is currently holding the Chair of ASEAN.
- The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (more commonly known as ASEAN) is a political and economic organization aimed primarily at promoting economic growth and regional stability among its members.
- There are currently 10 member states: Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia and Vietnam.
- ASEAN was founded half a century ago in 1967 by the five South-East Asian nations of Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. This was during the polarized atmosphere of the Cold War, and the alliance aimed to promote stability in the region. Over time, the group expanded to include its current 10 members.
- Regional cooperation was further extended with the creation of the ASEAN Plus Three forum in 1997, which included China, South Korea and Japan. And then the East Asia Summit, which began taking place in 2005 and has expanded to include India, Australia, New Zealand, Russia and the United States.
Raxaul-Kathmandu railway line
- Recently India and Nepal have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on preliminary engineering-cum-traffic survey of the proposed Raxaul-Kathmandu railway line.
- The MoU is the first step forward in the ambitious rail connectivity initiative between the two countries announced in April this year.
- India’s Konkan Railway has been asked to conduct a preliminary engineering-cum-traffic survey of the new rail line in consultation with the Nepalese government.
Mobilise Your City (MYC) programme
- Recently India and France sign an implementation agreement on “MOBILISE YOUR CITY” (MYC)
- Mobilise Your City (MYC) is part of an international initiative.
- It is an initiative combining urban mobility objectives and climate considerations.
- Supported by the French and the German Governments.
- Launched at 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) meeting in December 2015.
- It aims at supporting three pilot cities:
- In their efforts to reduce their Green House Gas (GHG) emissions related to urban transport.
Malanad Malabar cruise project
- The Ministry of Tourism has planned to introduce three thematic cruises as part of the Malanad Malabar Cruise Tourism Project in north Kerala under the Swadesh Darshan Scheme.
- One of the cruises is the Malabar cuisine and culinary cruise in Valapattanam river titled the Muthappan Cruise. The cruise will be from Valapattanam to Munambu Kadavu in Valapattanam river, covering an effective length of 40 km.
- The second cruise in Valapattanam river will be from Valapattanam to Pazhayangadi, effectively covering 16 km. The third is a mangrove cruise in Kuppam river, from Pazhayangadi to Kuppam, an effective length of 16 km.
National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF)
- NIIF is India’s first sovereign wealth fund.
- It was set up by the Government of India in February 2015.
- The objective behind creating this fund was to maximize economic impact mainly through infrastructure investment in commercially viable projects, both Greenfield and Brownfield.
- NIIF manages three funds:
- Master Fund- It is an infrastructure fund.
- The objective is of primarily investing in operating assets in the core infrastructure sectors such as roads, ports, airports, power etc.
2. Fund of Funds
- Fund of Funds anchor and/or invest in funds managed by fund managers who have good track records in infrastructure and associated sectors in India.
- Some of the sectors of focus include Green Infrastructure, Mid-Income & Affordable Housing, Infrastructure services and allied sectors.
3. Strategic Fund- Strategic Investment Fund is registered as an Alternative Investment Fund II under SEBI in India.
- The funds were set up to make infrastructure investments in India by raising capital from domestic and international institutional investors.
- COMCASA stands for Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement.
- It is one of the four foundational agreements that the U.S. signs with allies and close partners.
- To facilitate interoperability between militaries and sale of high-end technology.
- COMCASA is an India-specific version of the Communication and Information on Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA).
- It comes into force immediately and is valid for a period of 10 years.
- COMCASA allows India to procure transfer specialized equipment for encrypted communications for US-origin military platforms like the C-17, C-130, and P-8Is.
- Currently, these platforms use commercially available communication systems.
- India had signed:
(a) The General Security Of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) in 2002.
(b) The Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) in 2016.
(c)The last one remaining is the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-spatial Cooperation (BECA).