Current Affairs 17-10-17

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answered Oct 17 by prashant1984 (20,280 points)

$1-billion pledge: Abu Dhabi to pick up a stake in infra fund

-In a major boost to the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF), the government has secured an investment commitment of up to $1 billion from Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA).

-ADIA will become the first institutional investor in the NIIF Master Fund and a shareholder in the Fund’s investment management company — the National Investment and Infrastructure Limited.

Size of the Fund-The initial size of the Fund, set up two years ago, is being expected to close at $2.1 billion, with the government keeping a green shoe option to raise it up to $2.8 billion depending upon the response from the investors.

-The ADIA is expected to hold around 10-11 per cent stake in the NIIF Master Fund.

-ADIA has signed on an investment commitment of up to $1 billion. There will be a number of funds and investment avenues wherein ADIA can invest.

They will pick up around 10-11 per cent stake in the fund (entailing an initial investment of around $200-250 million).

-The government is not providing any guarantee on returns and the “investments will be done purely on commercial basis.

-Apart from ADIA, six domestic institutional investors will also join the NIIF Master Fund: HDFC Standard Life Insurance Company Ltd, HDFC Asset Management Company Ltd, Housing Development Finance Corporation Ltd, ICICI Bank Ltd, Kotak Mahindra Old Mutual Life Insurance Ltd and Axis Bank Ltd.

-The Fund will invest across infrastructure projects in the economy including in power, green energy and road sectors.

-This Agreement paves the way for creating significant economic impact through investment in commercially viable infrastructure development projects.

Earlier engagement with other countries related to NIIF-1.  India and the UK announced the launch of a Green Growth Equity Fund to leverage private sector investment from London to invest in green infrastructure projects in India.

2. The NIIF has also signed memoranda of understanding with the government of UAE, Russia’s RUSNANO and RDIF; the Qatar Investment Authority and the Japan Overseas Infrastructure Investment Corporation for Transport & Urban Development to explore investments in the Fund.

NIIF-1. NIIF was set up in December 2015 to catalyse funding into the country’s core sector. It has a targeted corpus of Rs 40,000 crore to be raised over the years — 49 per cent of which will be funded by the government at any given point of time.

2.The remaining 51 per cent of the corpus is to be raised from domestic and global investors, including international pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, multilateral/bilateral investors.

3. NIIF was registered with the Securities and Exchange Board of India as a Category II Alternate Investment Fund on December 28, 2015. The fund has been set up as a fund of funds structure with an aim to generate risk-adjusted returns for its investors alongside promoting infrastructure development.

4. The NIIF is set to play an important role in facilitating the flow of foreign capital into India’s infrastructure sector.

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answered Oct 17 by prashant1984 (20,280 points)

SOP to help movement of locals, raise security at Myanmar border

-The government has decided to devise standard operating procedures (SOP) to “facilitate” movement of Indian and Myanmarese citizens residing within 16 km of the India-Myanmar border.

-Mizoram, Nagaland, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh — the states bordering Myanmar — to discuss the Free Movement Regime (FMR) with Home ministry.

- The FMR permits tribes residing along the border to travel 16 km across the boundary without visa restrictions.

-it was found that states follow different protocols for FMR.

Considering this to be a security threat, Home Ministry have advised coming up with common SOPs for all four states.

-The move is a measure to upgrade security at the border amid the exodus of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar following turmoil in Rakhine province of that country.

According to government estimates, there are nearly 40,000 Rohingya Muslims spread across India.

-Parallel discussion is on with the Ministry of External Affairs and their counterparts in Myanmar to allow Indian nationals living near the border to visit Myanmar for up to 72 hours. While India allows Myanmarese nationals to stay 72 hours without visa, Myanmar allows stay of only 24 hours.

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answered Oct 17 by prashant1984 (20,280 points)

Nirmala Sitharaman commissions INS Kiltan

-  Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman commissioned the indigenously-built anti-submarine warfare stealth corvette INS Kiltan at the Eastern Naval Command.

- Kiltan is the latest indigenous warship after Shivalik class, Kolkata class and sister ships INS Kamorta and INS Kadmatt to have joined the Indian Navy's arsenal wherein a plethora of weapons and sensors have been integrated to provide a Common Operational Picture (COP).

- It is India's first major warship to have a superstructure of carbon fibre composite material resulting in improved stealth features, lower top weight and maintenance costs.

- INS Kiltan is also the first major warship to have undertaken sea trials of all major weapons and sensors as a pilot project and is ready to be operationally deployed on the day of joining the Indian Navy.

- This is the third of the four Kamorta-class corvettes being built under Project 28.

- In the future, it would also be installed with short range SAM system and carry an integral ASW helicopter.

- The ship hosts a predominantly indigenous cutting-edge weapons and sensors suite which includes heavyweight torpedoes, ASW rockets, 76 mm calibre Medium Range gun and two multi-barrel 30 mm guns as close-in-weapon system (CIWS) with dedicated fire control systems, missile decoy rockets (Chaff), advanced Electronic Support Measure system, most advanced bow mounted sonar and air surveillance radar Revathi.


-The ship derives its name from one of the islands in Aminidivi group of the strategically located Lakshadweep and Minicoy group of islands.

- The ship also boasts of the proud legacy of the erstwhile Petya Class ship of same name 'Kiltan (P79)' built in the USSR, which had actively participated as Task Force Commander in 'Operation Trident' during the 1971 Indo-Pak war.

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answered Oct 17 by prashant1984 (20,280 points)

Time for auto industry to go all electric

Context- The government has been working to effect a radical shift in our energy production and consumption patterns to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

-According to last year’s National Electricity Plan (NEP3) forecast, India will achieve, ahead of schedule, the target of renewable energy being 40% of total power production by 2030, declared at the Paris Climate Change Conference in 2015.

- It was declared at the Paris Climate Change Conference in 2015.

NITI Ayog Reports-

1.The government intends that all vehicles sold in India by 2030 should be electric.

2. A recently released NITI Aayog report on mobility transformation outlines a feasible and phased approach to achieve this goal.

3.  It presents the government’s vision of a shared, electric and connected mobility paradigm where mobility is a service based on an electric vehicle (EV) fleet,

- enabled by the convergence of low-cost technologies

-smart designs

- business model innovation and supportive policies.

Government Approach- The government is leading by example, committing to go all electric for government-use vehicles.

-The Central government is calling global tenders for the first 10,000 electric cars, of which a pilot phase of 500 cars has already been awarded to Tata Motors Ltd and Mahindra & Mahindra.

-Among the states, the Karnataka government has taken the lead in formulating India’s first comprehensive EV policy, supporting a complete ecosystem from manufacturing to deployment of charging stations.

Reason For EV not popular in India-It is owing to range anxiety, high capital cost and long charging time, despite the obvious benefits of very low running costs and zero emission.

Government plan for Public Transpport- India still relies heavily on public transport.

The government plans to make public transport more economical and environment-friendly by promoting electric buses.

 However, the current generation of electric buses with traditional battery technology are prohibitively expensive at four to five times the cost of a diesel bus.

How to Counter Challenges related to EVs- 1.Battery swapping is the way forward to make EVs affordable and accessible to all.

2.To help bring down the capital cost of electric buses, experts are recommending two things among the various solutions being looked at—reducing the battery size and adopting “swappable” battery technology, thereby bringing down the upfront capital cost while reducing the operational cost and charging time.

3.The Indian auto industry is actively working in this direction as it helps state public transport agencies to induct electric bus fleets without incurring too much additional expenditure.

Benefit of EVs-  1.The popularity of shared mobility services like Ola and Uber shows that people living in congested urban centres are not keen on using their own vehicles to commute.

2.Electric cars with swappable batteries make a compelling business case for shared mobility operators, both for upfront capital cost and operational expenses.

3.In fact, the economies of EVs are such that there is a better return for high-mileage use, making them better suited for shared mobility services.

The government’s agenda also focuses on developing an ecosystem to support the EV industry, which will enable various stakeholders to stay connected, enabling a high-functioning, EV-driven public transport system.

Way Forward- 1.The auto industry has been growing at a steady pace and India is now becoming an export hub for small and medium-sized cars. This leaves the auto industry well-placed to go all out on electric, especially with policies that enable an entrepreneurial environment and promote a level playing field.

2. This is an opportune time for the auto industry to embrace the government’s EV push and collaborate with technology and mobility solution providers to capitalize on this opportunity.

3.It will hugely benefit the nation, economically and environmentally, if the auto industry moves quickly to adapt to this inevitable disruption and reap the rewards.

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