IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


21st March, 2020


Lok Sabha passes bill to give 5 IIITs ‘national importance’ tag, power to grant degrees

About bill:

-       The bill will declare five IIITs established under public-private partnership (PPP) model as ‘institutes of national importance’.

-       Once the bill is passed into law, the institutes will be able to use the nomenclature of Bachelor of Technology (B.Tech.), Master of Technology (M.Tech.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees.

-       The bill, amends the IIIT Act, 2014, and the IIIT (Public-Private Partnership) Act, 2017.

-       The bill will enable the IIITs to attract enough students required to develop a strong research base in the field of information technology in India.

About IIIT:

-       The five IIITs are those in Surat, Bhopal, Bhagalpur, Agartala and Raichur.

-       At present these institutes are registered as societies under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 and do not have the power to grant degrees or diplomas.

-       Currently, out of the 25 IIITs in India, 20 are established under the PPP model.

-       Fifteen of these already have degree-granting authority under the IIIT PPP Act, 2017.

Institution of national importance:

-       Institute of National Importance (INI) is a status that may be conferred on a premier public higher education institution in India by an act of Parliament of India.

-       Institutes of National Importance receive special recognition and funding from the Government of India.

-       There are 73 such institutes, which are listed as Institutes of National importance declared by the department of higher Education.

Reference: https://theprint.in/india/education/lok-sabha-passes-bill-to-give-5-iiits-national-importance-tag-power-to-grant-degrees/384943/


Over half of India Inc. catches a cold

Findings of study by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI):

-       Over 50% of Indian businesses are seeing marked impact on their operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

-       While about 45%, companies believe that it could take at least six months for the situation to come under control.

-       Almost three-fourth of the businesses indicated big reductions in orders.

-       Almost 80% of companies reported a decrease in cash flow.

-       It added that for some sectors, including manufacturing units, banking and IT, the work-from-home proposition is posing implementation challenges.

Suggested reforms:

-       A combination of monetary, fiscal and financial market measures is needed to help the businesses and people cope with the crisis.

-       The cost of funds be brought down through reduction in policy rates, increase credit limits for all regular banking accounts by 25% across the board.

-       Bring in flexibility in the banking system to reschedule payment terms without the need for provisioning.

-       The government should not pare down its capital spending plans despite any shortfall in tax collections.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-business/over-half-of-india-inc-catches-a-cold/article31124335.ece


Bhutan and Nepal contribute to COVID-19 emergency fund, PM Modi thanks them

-       Bhutan contributed $100,000 to the COVID-19 Emergency Fund on behalf of the Bhutanese Government.

-       Nepal agreed to contribute NPR 10 crores to the COVID-19 Emergency Fund.

COVid 19 emergence fund:

-       The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC)has created a fund to fight the threat of COVID-19.

-       India extended $10 million as India's contribution for the fund.

The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC)

-       It is the regional intergovernmental organization and geopolitical union of states in South Asia.

-       Its member states are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. SAARC comprises 3% of the world's area, 21% of the world's population and 3.8% (US$2.9 trillion) of the global economy, as of 2015.

-       SAARC was founded in Dhaka on 8 December 1985. Its secretariat is based in Kathmandu, Nepal.

-       The organization promotes development of economic and regional integration.[5] It launched the South Asian Free Trade Area in 2006.

-       SAARC maintains permanent diplomatic relations at the United Nations as an observer and has developed links with multilateral entities, including the European Union.

Reference: https://theprint.in/india/bhutan-and-nepal-contribute-to-covid-19-emergency-fund-pm-modi-thanks-them/385157/


Pentagon says successfully tested hypersonic missile

About Hypersonic missile:

-       Hypersonic flight is flight through the atmosphere below about 90 km at speeds above Mach 5, a speed where dissociation of air begins to become significant and high heat loads exist.

-       Russia is the first country to deploy a hypersonic nuclear missile.

-       Two main types of hypersonic weapons are hypersonic cruise missiles and hypersonic glide vehicles.

-       Hypersonic weapons, by definition, travel five or more times the speed of sound.

-       Hypersonic cruise missiles which are powered by scramjet are restricted below 100,000 feet; hypersonic glide vehicles can travel higher.

Reference: https://www.outlookindia.com/newsscroll/pentagon-says-successfully-tested-hypersonic-missile/1774596

In new Defence Procurement Procedure, MoD creates category for leasing equipment

Draft Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) 2020:

-       It will come into effect from April 01, 2020 and supersede DPP 2016.

-       This DPP would remain in force till 31 March 2025.

-       It has for the first time introduced leasing of defence equipment as a new category for acquisition.

-       Other proposed measures include:

-       Making after-sales support part of the capital acquisition contract,

-       Higher indigenous content in acquisitions

-       Incentives for local material and software

-       Emphasis on product export under offsets.

-       Leasing is permitted under two categories:

-       Lease [Indian] where Lessor is an Indian entity and is the owner of the assets

-       Lease [Global) where Lessor is a Global entity.

-       Proposed increasing the indigenous content stipulated in various categories of procurement by about 10% to support the ‘Make in India’.

-       Provided a simple and realistic methodology for verification of indigenous content for the first time.

-       Included “assurance of procurement on a single vendor basis from Aero Engine manufacturing unit and chips from FAB manufacturing units established in the country.

-       New Chapters on Post Contract Management to facilitate and provide clear guidelines.

-       Another new category introduced is ‘Buy’ (Global – Manufacture in India) with minimum 50% indigenous content on cost basis of total contract value.

-       The scope and options for product support have been widened to include contemporary concepts like Performance Based Logistics (PBL), Life Cycle Support Contract (LCSC) and Comprehensive Maintenance Contract (CMC) to optimise life cycle support for equipment.

Significance of leasing:

-       It will substitute huge initial capital outlays with periodical rental payments.

-       It will be useful for military equipment not used in actual warfare like transport fleets, trainers, simulators, among others.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/in-new-defence-procurement-procedure-mod-creates-category-for-leasing-equipment/article31121754.ece


Coronavirus testing in India: What government guidelines say

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has released guidelines for COVID-19 testing in the country.


All asymptomatic people, meaning those who do not show COVID-19 symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty in breathing etc.), who have travelled abroad:

-       Should stay in home quarantine for 14 days

-       Need to be tested only if they become symptomatic (show above symptoms)

-       If they test positive for covid19, then they should be isolated and treated as per standard protocol.

Those who have been in contact with laboratory confirmed positive COVID19 cases:

-       Should stay in home quarantine for 14 days

-       Should be tested only if they become symptomatic

-       If they test positive for COVID19, then they should be isolated and treated as per standard protocol.

Guidelines for Private sector:

-       The ICMR has appealed to private laboratories to provide COVID-19 diagnosis free of cost.

-       A laboratory test has to be offered only when prescribed by a qualified physician as per ICMR guidance for testing.

-       The ICMR will share the SOPs for laboratory testing and provide positive controls for establishing the test as soon as the concerned private laboratory has procured the primers, probes and reagents as per respective SOPs.

Aim of the Guidelines:

-       Contains the spread of infection/community transmission of COVID-19 by improving access

-       Meet the inclusion criteria of COVID-19 testing by providing individuals with reliable diagnostics free of cost

-       Avoid indiscriminate testing, reduce panic, optimally utilise resources and scale up facilities for testing.

Reference: https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/coronavirus-testing-india-explained-6325375/