Current Affairs Current Affairs - 07 April 2018 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 07 April 2018

General Affairs 

Parliament Sees Least Productive Budget Session In 18 Years
  • The Budget session of Parliament, which ended today, was the least productive since the year 2000, a legislative research body has said.

    The ruling BJP and the opposition Congress have blamed each other for the impasse during the session which saw daily disruptions in both the Houses.

    According to data provided by Parliamentary Affairs minister Ananth Kumar, the productivity of the Lok Sabha (LS) was 134 per cent, and that of the Rajya Sabha (RS) around 96 per cent during the brief Part I of session. The Part I of the session had seven LS and eight RS sittings.

    But Part II of the session which began from March 5 saw productivity taking a nose dive due to daily disruptions and adjournments. The productivity of the LS was four per cent and that of the RS eight per cent, the minister said.

    "The productivity of the complete Budget session was 23 per cent for the LS and 28 per cent for the RS," he said.

    According to PRS Legislative Research, "this was the least productive Budget session for both Houses since 2000".

    According to PRS data, during the session, on an average, Lok Sabha worked for 21 per cent of its scheduled time, while Rajya Sabha worked for 27 per cent.

    So far in the 16th, the present Lok Sabha, the average productivity of Lok Sabha is 85 per cent, and that of Rajya Sabha is 68 per cent.

    Former Lok Sabha Secretary General P D T Acharya said the productivity of the just-ended session reminds him of the Winter session of 2010 when the 2G scam led to its complete washout.

    The protests by the BJP and other parties had rocked Parliament after the CAG reported on the alleged 2G scam.

    The LS and the RS could utilise only six per cent and two per cent of their allotted time.

    But the UPA government, in a bid to avoid another washout, agreed to form a Joint Parliamentary Committee on 2G scam in the 2011 Budget session.

    Mr Acharya said as the leader of the House, the prime minister has the authority to ensure that the House functions.

    He was of the view that Parliament "can function if the government wants".

    "Disruptions for a couple of days is alright, but legislations have to be passed...disruptions should not happen daily," he said.

    He recalled that India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru used to reach out to the opposition leaders and was present in the Lok Sabha every day.

    Several MPs gave notices to move no-confidence motion in the LS against the government. However, due to disruptions caused by members raising various issues such as PNB scam, special status for Andhra Pradesh and Cauvery water dispute, it could not be admitted.

    This was the first time a notice to move a no-confidence motion was given in the 16th Lok Sabha.

    "A no-confidence motion was also moved in the 15th Lok Sabha in 2013 but was not discussed. In the 14th Lok Sabha, a no-confidence motion was converted to a confidence vote, which the government had won," said PRS Legislative Research.

Supreme Court Reserves Order On West Bengal Panchayat Polls Nominations
  • The Supreme Court on Friday reserved its order on a BJP's plea seeking that its candidate for the West Bengal panchayat elections be allowed to file their nomination papers and re-scheduling of the election.

    A bench of Justice RK Agrawal and Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre reserved the order for April 9 as the BJP sought the deployment of paramilitary forces alleging that its candidates were being denied the nomination papers by the Block Development Officer and were being targeted by the ruling party people.

    The Block Development Officer has been designated Assistant Panchayat Electoral Registration Officer for giving and accepting the nomination papers.

    At the outset of the hearing, the bench asked the BJP to approach Calcutta High Court.

    However, senior counsel told the court that they have approached the top court because of the two-month-old strike by the lawyers in the High Court.

    Describing West Bengal a "troubled state", senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the BJP, told the bench that if the state government was unable to discharge its constitutional responsibility, then the centre must step in and uphold the constitution.

    Appearing for the centre, Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, referring to the situation, said three major political parties in the State - the BJP, Congress and the CPI(M) - were asking for central forces.

    Appearing for the West Bengal government, senior counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi said the BJP was doing all this for the sake of "splash in media" and cited the areas of West Bengal where BJP had filed more nomination papers than the ruling TMC.

    Agreeing with Mr Rohatgi that there were troubles in the state, Mr Singhvi said the question was who was fomenting the trouble.

    "There is trouble in the state. The question is who is fomenting the trouble. You (BJP) have no presence in the state. You are fomenting the trouble and asking for central forces," Mr Singhvi said responding the BJP's arguments.

    He said that without approaching the State Election Commission and the High Court, the BJP has parachuted to the Supreme Court and this was only for the media splash.

For Bihar Communal Violence Victims, Nitish Kumar's Rapid Action Balm
  • Under repeated attack from the opposition for his "failure" to deal with communal violence, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is out to prove his political critics wrong. And he is doing it fast.

    A day after Mr Kumar broke his silence over the recent communal clashes, saying he would not compromise with communalism, his government has acted swiftly to release Rs. 36 lakh for those affected by the violence triggered during last week's Ram Navami celebrations.

    The money has been released after reports from the district magistrates of Aurangabad, Samastipur and Nawada.

    In Aurangabad, where 40 shops were burnt during the violence, Rs. 25.3 lakh has been released. Six people in Nawada, whose properties were damaged, will get a compensation of Rs. 8.5 lakh.

    In Samastipur, where a mosque and a madrasa were damaged, Rs. 2.13 lakh has been released for restoration work.

    The pace at which the entire process was completed has surprised senior bureaucrats. Funds are always given but this time reports were sought at the earliest, said Amir Subhani, Principal Secretary, Home department.

    And that's not all. The money will reach the beneficiaries by today evening, as Mr Subhani said.

    Mr Kumar, who has been facing constant barbs from opposition leader Tejashwi Yadav of having "surrendered" to ally BJP, has already demonstrated his intent to act firm against those trying to create communal trouble.

    Arijit Shashwat, the son of union minister Ashwini Choubey, has been arrested for the communal violence that broke out in parts of Bihar during the Ram Navami celebrations.

    The chief minister who pulled out of the alliance with the RJD last year over corruption allegations against Mr Yadav and formed the government with the BJP has already sought to set the record straight. Whoever tries to disrupt communal harmony will have to go to jail, Mr Kumar has made it clear.

After "Fake News" Order, Nominations To Media Watchdog Spark Row
  • Journalists, editors and media managers and owners will meet tomorrow to take a common stand on issues with the constitution of media watchdog Press Council of India (PCI) and the Central Press Accreditation Committee (CPAC). Both media bodies, in the process of being reconstituted, have been called into question.

    The PCI has recently drawn attention after the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting's notification on fake news. The controversial notification that prescribed the suspension of journalists' accreditation for publishing fake news drew outrage from the media community for holding the potential to act like a gag order.

    While the controversial order was withdrawn at the behest of the Prime Minister's Office, the Prime Minister also tasked the PCI with addressing the problem of fake news.

    The PCI is a statutory quasi-judicial 28-member body led by a retired judge of the Supreme Court. Eight members, to be selected by the government, have already been notified. These include five parliamentarians - four from the BJP and one from the AIADMK .

    This year's list includes BJP lawmaker Pratap Simha, who supported the founder of Postcard News when he was arrested for sharing "fake news".

    While the 20 other names, made up of seven working journalists, six editors, six media owners or managers and one news agency manager, have been notified, this list is being challenged. The Editors' Guild has made a statement saying it is dissatisfied with the disqualification of its nominees for the council.

    The Indian Newspapers' Society (INS), a body with top newspaper owners as its members, has gone to the Delhi High Court to challenge the PCI's rejection of one of its candidates. The INS has received a stay on the PCI order till July, which means at least one seat will remain challenged until then. Working journalists' associations were also asked to refile their nominations by the chairman, further delaying the selection process.

    The new CPAC has also drawn criticism from the media fraternity, as it has been reduced from 25 to 8 members. While media associations made recommendations for at least 12 of these positions, this year these nominations were invited but rejected. Instead, the government named five media persons on its own, some of whom have drawn allegations of bias towards the government.

    Two positions will be filled by representatives of the Press Council of India and the National Broadcasters Association, who are still to be selected. The CPAC is chaired by the Director General of the Press Information Bureau, who currently is Frank Noronha and will be replaced by Sitanshu Kar on May 1.

Protest vs Protest In Parliament: BJP Lawmakers To Fast, Congress Boycotts Tea
  • Moments after both houses of parliament ended in a clatter of protests, members of the ruling BJP-led coalition and the opposition Congress took their fight outside.

    Lawmakers of the BJP, including ministers, and those of the Congress, stood facing each other at the Gandhi statue with placards, each side screaming slogans and trying to out-shout the other side.

    BJP MPs have decided to observe a fast on April 12 to protest against the parliament logjam, said union minister Ananth Kumar.

    "The Congress party is intolerant of the mandate given to (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi in 21 states," Union Parliamentary Minister Ananth Kumar told NDTV as he and other MPs marched across the parliament complex holding yellow posters and placards and shouting slogans.

    He said all BJP lawmakers would observe a one-day fast in their constituencies on April 12. "This will be done across the nation," he added.

    The BJP accuses the Congress and Sonia Gandhi of disrupting parliament. Yesterday, a furious Sonia Gandhi had slammed Ananth Kumar for targeting her in the Lok Sabha and said: "I think it's shameful that the parliamentary affairs minister can speak such lies on the floor of the house."

    For the first time, Congress leaders stayed away from tea hosted by Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan this morning, protesting against the way the disruptions in the house were handled.

    The government-Congress confrontation highlights sharp battlelines in a year of elections, especially the polls in Congress-ruled Karnataka on May 12.

    Parliament's budget session was a near washout as both houses were adjourned without much progress after daily disruptions and protests.

Business Affairs

Large shareholder of Deepak Kochhar's subsidiary has extensive banking relationship with ICICI Bank
  •  The list of mid-sized companies supporting first generation entrepreneur Deepak Kochhar's power venture seems to be a bit long. Surprisingly, most of these companies are based down South where Deepak Kochhar has business operations.

    It now appears that Nupower Wind Farms Ltd, another subsidiary of NuPower Renewables, also has half a dozen corporates that have invested in its equity capital. Business Today had earlier written about the nine companies that have bought equity in Echanda Urja Private Ltd, another subsidiary of the parent NuPower Renewables Pvt Ltd.

    In the case of subsidiary Nupower Wind Farms Ltd, the biggest non promoter shareholder is Chennai based India Japan Lighting Pvt Ltd, which owns some 7.78 per cent equity in the company. What is interesting is that private sector ICICI Bank has a banking relationship with this largest shareholder of Deepak Kochhar's managed subsidiary. Deepak Kochhar is the Managing Director of the unit.

    The private sector bank has extended a long term capex loan of Rs 17 crore to this automotive lighting equipment player. This loan is payable in eight quarterly installments from 2017/18. There is also a ICICI ECB loan of Rs 26.49 crore , which is to be payable in 12 half yearly installments from 2014/15 to 2019/20.

    The total exposure of ICICI Bank in this largest shareholder of Deepak Kochhar's managed subsidiary is about Rs 43.49 crore. Isn't there a conflict of interest or disclosure issue under the Companies Act?

    In another subsidiary Echanda Urja Pvt Ltd, the equity shareholders are Hatsun Agro Steel Strips Wheels, Motherson Sumi, Zuari Cement, CavinKare, Togros Chemicals, Dhandapani Cement, TRIL Infopark and Shri Govindaraja Textiles. Chennai-based Hatsun Agro has the highest stake of 6.11 per cent followed by Shri Govindaraja Textiles at 4.65 per cent as on March 31, 2017. Some of these companies also have banking relationships with ICICI Bank in terms of loans and advances.

    NuPower Renewables holds the majority 70 per cent equity in both these subsidiaries and Deepak Kochhar acts as the Managing Director .

    While banking relationship of a corporate with a large bank of ICICI 's size is very natural, many raise the question of disclosures. It is not known whether Deepak Kochhar has disclosed the information of these corporate shareholders -about 15 entities - to his wife Chanda Kochhar, MD & CEO of the bank. A mail sent to NuPower Wind Farms did not elicit any response.

    The Co-founder and CEO of NuPower Renewables' Deepak Kochhar and ICICI Bank's Chanda Kochhar is already under the scanner of investigating agencies for a loan given by Videocon promoter V. N. Dhoot. There are issues of possible conflict of interest and quid pro quo against Chanda Kochhar as her bank is also one of the lenders to Videocon Industries. The ICICI Bank board, however, is fully backing Kochhar on this issue. The board has said that there is no question or scope of any favouritism, nepotism or quid pro quo.  

RBI crackdown on cryptocurrencies: What Bitcoin investors should do right away
  • RBI has dealt a body blow to both cryptocurrency investors and traders. In a circular on Thursday, the central bank called for ring-fencing of regulated entities such as banks from risks associated with virtual currencies. Heeding to RBI's warning, various banks in the country have begun cautioning their customers about transacting in virtual currencies.

    Following RBI's ban, Yes Bank, in an email to its customers said, "We prohibit the use of YES BANK - Debit Card, Credit Card, Net Banking, Mobile Banking, Digital Wallet, Prepaid Cards and Travel Cards towards purchase of or trading in virtual currencies."

    "Future transactions pertaining to the above stated reasons will be blocked without any liability or responsibility on the part of the bank," the private sector bank added.

    Though the banks have 'prohibited' their customers from dealing in crypto assets, experts believe that there is no reason for investors to get jittery. Jatin Malwal, Co-founder and CTO at Lendbox told Business Today that the RBI move is a setback for those investing in crypto currencies but only in the short run.

    "I doubt this will be anything more than a blip in the long term picture where blockchain technology and decentralised finance has a very big role to play. We believe that in the long run, government would have to bring regulated fiat to crypto trade in the country to keep up with the rest of the world," Malwal said.

    In a bid to calm frayed nerves of cryptocurrency investors, the RBI has given a three month window to banks to unwind any existing business relationship with those dealing with Virtual Currencies (VCs).  

    Shivam Thakral, co-founder and CEO of cryptocurrency exchange of BuyUcoin believes that if the RBI remains rigid on its decision then it would eventually make them to close the fiat part from their exchange. "Then we have to turn our exchange into crypto-crypto thing," Thakral said.

    If that happens, the investors won't be able to buy cryptocurrencies directly from the exchanges.

    The Way Around

    But even those who don't want to sell their holdings now may have a way out. "The entire purpose of blockchain-based digital asset technology is to provide peer-to-peer transfer of value at a global scale. Transfer of digital asset from an Indian exchange to an international one is as easy as clicking a button, Thakral said.

    While Malwal believes it is an investor's individual decision to sell cryptocurrencies in the wake of RBI's three-month window, he adds that there are always ways to transfer the crypto assets to an international exchange and get the money remitted from there.

    While the banking regulator - after its back to back warnings - has finally sounded a death knell for crypto assets, the confusion over its current status has baffled the investors.

    Cautioning about panic-selling that is going on ever since the RBI came out with its circular, Thakral said, "Even if risk-averse investors want to sell out, they should wait for some time because the panic-selling is going on and the rates in India cryptocurrency market are way low than the international market. It's not a good move to sell your assets now."

    RBI's three-month window to banks to wrap up existing business dealings with cryptocurrency exchanges may have come as a blessing in disguise for seasoned cryptocurrency traders. "Lots and lots of people are buying at cheaper rates because of panic-selling," Thakral said.

    "It's not like they are going to shut banking channels immediately. It will happen over a period of three months," an unflustered Thakral said.

New income tax return form to sharpen scrutiny of taxpayers
  • The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) yesterday kick-started the tax season for Assessment Year 2018-19 by releasing new Income Tax Return (ITRs) forms. The last date to file tax returns for financial year 2017-18 is July 31, and the CBDT was quick to put up the new ITR forms on its website ( in a bid to encourage tax payers to get the job done sooner rather than later.

    According to the policy-making body of the tax department, some fields have been "rationalised" in the latest forms. For the first time, salaried taxpayers will have to share their salary breakup - the new forms seek an assessee's details such as allowances not exempt, profit in lieu of salary and value of prerequisites, among others, in separate fields.

    "Further, the parts relating to salary and house property have been rationalised and furnishing of basic details of salary (as available in Form 16) and income from house property have been mandated," CBDT spokesperson Surabhi Ahluwalia said in a statement.

    The ITR Form-2 has also been rationalised by providing that Individuals and Hindu Undivided Families (HUFs) having income under any head other than business or profession shall be eligible to file it. "The individuals and HUFs having income under those heads - i.e. business or profession -- shall file either ITR-3 or ITR-4 in presumptive income cases," the statement added.

    According to Mint, the new ITR forms also make it mandatory for small businesses and those paying tax under the government's presumptive taxation scheme to report their goods and services tax identification number (GSTIN) and turnover reported under the new tax regime. Earlier, businesses with a turnover of under Rs 2 crore could opt to pay a tax on the basis of a certain percentage of their turnover, instead of maintaining account books. This is clearly an attempt to check tax evasion among such entities by linking their direct and indirect tax data.

    Greater scrutiny apart, the CBDT is also introducing some procedural changes. For instance, the requirement of furnishing details of cash deposits made post demonetisation, as provided in ITR Form for the previous assessment year, has been done away with.

    The statement added that this year, too, a simplified one-page ITR Form-1(Sahaj) has been notified. Introduced last year, CBDT claims that the initiative had benefited around 3 crore taxpayers. This form "can be filed by an individual who is resident other than not ordinarily resident, having income up to Rs 50 lakh and who is receiving income from salary, one house property/other income (interest, etc.)".

    This means that non-resident Indians (NRIs) will no longer be able to file returns using this form. According to the daily, they will have to use the ITR-2, which seeks more information. However, the good news for NRIs is that they can now furnish details of any one foreign bank account to claim refunds - previously they had to provide a bank account held in India.

    All the ITR forms have to be filed electronically, with just two exceptions. Very senior citizens (at least 80 years old in the previous year) and individuals/HUFs with income under Rs 5 lakh and no refund claims filing the ITR Form-1 (Sahaj) or ITR-4 (Sugam) can opt for the paper format.

    Significantly, this year on, tax payers will no longer have the option of filing belated tax returns. According to the FAQ on the income tax website, with effect from assessment year 2018-19, a new section 234F will come into play, under which the penalty for ITRs furnished on or before December 31 is Rs 5,000, but double that amount for later filings. However, penalty shall not exceed Rs. 1,000 if the total income of an assessee does not exceed Rs 5 lakh.

Sensex rises 30 pts, Nifty closes flat at 10,331 amid lower global markets after US imposes extra $100 bn in tariffs on Chinese goods
  • The Sensex ended marginally higher in see-saw trade today, helped by a late buying spell in pharma, energy and banking stocks amid lacklustre global cues.

    Investors were not keen to expand their portfolios ahead of the corporate earnings season, brokers said.

    The 30-share index, moving in a tight range for the better part of the session on scattered deals, hit a low of 33,501.37 and a high of 33,697.51 before finishing at 33,626.97 points, up 30.17 points or 0.09 per cent.

    Anand Shah, deputy CEO and head of investments at BNP Paribas Mutual Fund said, "After the stellar rally witnessed yesterday, markets in India took a breather in today's trade. Benchmark indices traded the day in a narrow range with a negative bias. The sentiment was subdued overseas as well after President Donald Trump instructed the US trade representative to consider levying an additional $100 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods. The latest move further fuels a growing trade dispute between the two countries. Previously, the United States had announced $50 billion in proposed tariffs on goods imported from China, in response to which the Chinese announced about $50 billion in proposed tariffs on US goods. At home, both the benchmark Sensex and the Nifty finally closed the day near the flat line. On the sectoral front, while the Information Technology (IT) and metals indices traded in the red, the healthcare, banking and auto indices witnessed gains."

    The gauge had soared almost 578 points in the previous session after the RBI kept the policy rate unchanged but said growth will rebound this fiscal amid softening inflation.

    The broader NSE Nifty inched up 6.45 points, or 0.06 per cent, to 10,331.60. Intra-day, it shuttled between 10,290.85 and 10,350.45.

    On a weekly basis, the BSE Sensex scored a smart gain of 658.29 points, or 1.99 per cent while the NSE Nifty rose 217.90 points, or 2.15 per cent.

    Meanwhile, domestic institutional investors (DIIs) bought equities to the tune of Rs 615.28 crore yesterday, while foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) net sold shares worth Rs 108.02 crore, according to provisional data.

    Global markets

    World stock markets slid Friday after Beijing vowed to fight back against the Trump administration's latest threats of yet more tariffs on Chinese imports, renewing investor fears of a brewing trade battle between the world's two biggest economies.

    European shares fell in early trading. France's CAC 40 lost 0.6 percent to 5,246.95 and Germany's DAX shed 0.8 percent to 12,207.37. Britain's FTSE 100 slipped 0.2 percent to 7,182.98. Wall Street was poised to open sharply lower. Dow futures skidded 0.9 percent to 24,255.00 and broader S&P 500 futures sank 0.8 percent to 2,641.00.

    Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index dipped 0.4 percent to close at 21,567.52, while South Korea's Kospi slipped 0.3 percent to 2,429.58. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was flat at 5,788.70, but Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 1.1 percent to 29,844.94 after trading resumed following a holiday as investors caught up with the previous day's global gains. Singapore's share index rose, while those in Indonesia, the Philippines and India fell. Mainland Chinese markets remained closed for a holiday.

    US-China trade tensions stepped up another notch after President Donald Trump instructed the U.S. trade representative to consider slapping an extra $100 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods. China responded by indicating it wouldn't back down, saying it would fight back "at any cost," according to a statement from the Commerce Ministry.

IIM-Nagpur manages 100% placement for its second batch of postgraduate students
  • Last year, Indian Institute of Management-Nagpur had reportedly failed to place even half of its first batch of students in the postgraduate programme ahead of the convocation day. The B-school wrapped up its final placements this year with a far more impressive record: 100 per cent placement for its second batch, with the highest domestic salary package at Rs 19 lakh per annum and an average (domestic) cost-to-company for the 54 students standing at Rs 12.05 lakh per annum.

    The institute claimed campus participation from more than 40 recruiters - including many first time participants like GMR India - across sectors ranging from software and Banking, Financial services and Insurance (BFSI) to Healthcare and Media. In total, 55 offers were made, and one student "decided to pursue her entrepreneurial dreams", IIM-Nagpur said in a statement.

    A whopping 86 per cent of the batch got placed in 5 sectors: Information Technology (38 per cent), BFSI (19 per cent), FMCG, Logistics and Analytics. "IT sector continues to show robust growth, the likes of Tech Aspect, JK Technosoft, Value Labs, Infosys BPM have recruited some of the best talents from IIM Nagpur. VLCC continued to show its trust in our students by making multiple offers. This year, Analytics profiles have seen a surge with companies like Fractal Analytics, MuSigma and Perceptive Analytics making their presence felt at the campus during the recruitment season," added the statement.

    Other prominent recruiters included ICICI Lombard, Yes Bank - participating for their YES Professional Entrepreneurship Program (Y-PEP), SBI Mutual Fund, Bajaj Allianz, Larsen & Toubro, Motilal Oswal, and Indiamart. "Nagpur being the Logistics and Supply Chain hub of India resulted in active participation of companies like DTDC, Stellar Value Chain and 4Tigo," the institute explained.

    While the students were offered roles in diverse management functions such as Finance, Sales and Marketing, Operations and Project Management, etc, Business Analytics and Finance emerged as the most well-paying verticals, offering annual salary packages upwards of Rs 15 lakh, followed by General Management (Rs 13.35 lakh) and Strategy & Consulting (Rs 11.38 lakh).

    In January this year, the B-school had pulled off an equally impressive showing during the summer placements for the third batch of PGP students. The number of recruiters had gone up 25 per cent over the previous year, while the highest stipend on offer was Rs 1.8 lakh. Not bad at all for a twenty-something's summer job.

General Awareness

Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.
International Energy Forum

  • Context: India is hosting the 16thInternational Energy Forum (IEF) Ministerial Meeting in New Delhi.

    About the IEF Ministerial meeting:

    The IEF Ministerial meetings are informal dialogues, at both the political and technical levels, aimed to improve policy and investment decisions, and through increased knowledge and experience sharing.
    The biennial IEF Ministerial Meetings are the world’s largest gathering of Energy Ministers who engage in a dialogue on global energy issues.

    About IEF:

    The International Energy Forum (IEF) is an inter-governmental arrangement set up in 1991.  It is based in Riyadh.

    Functions: It serves as a neutral facilitator of informal, open, informed and continuing global energy dialogue among its members comprising of energy producing and energy consuming states, including transit countries.

    Members: There are 72 membercountries of IEF, including India, covering all six continents, which are signatories to the Charter of the IEF. Its membership accounts for 90% of global supply and demand for oil and gas.

    Executive board:

    The Executive Board (EB) set up in 2002 comprising of 31 designated representatives of Ministers of the member states comprise the governing board of IEF.
    It meets twice a year.
    International Energy Agency (IEA) and Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) are non-voting members of the Executive Board.
    The EB is chaired by the Host State of the next biennial Ministerial Meeting. Currently, India is the Chair of the Executive Board of IEF.

    Key facts for Prelims:

    By virtue of being among the top 11 largest consumers of oil and gas (India is presently 4th), India has been the Permanent Member of the Executive Board since its set-up in 2002.
    India had earlier hosted the 5th IEF Ministerial in 1996 at Goa.

    Need for international platforms:

    Energy security continues to top the political agenda for energy importing as well as exporting countries, for industrialized as well as developing economies. This time of heightened energy consciousness is also a time of uncertainties and increasing interdependencies among nations.

    This has prompted some to re-think fundamental policies. And the policy tuning of one country to meet new challenges and to reduce its particular energy uncertainties can in itself exacerbate uncertainties or create new ones for others. Not least considering the interrelationship between energy, environment and economic development. As well as the links between energy and geopolitics. Global producer-consumer dialogue acquires increasing importance as nations revisit and modify established policies, and shape new ones, in their quest for energy security.

    Way ahead:

    The world will need more and cleaner energy, used in a more efficient way, accessible and affordable to a larger share of the world’s population. The political challenge lies in operationalizing this energy imperative in a fair and sustainable way. Through national policies as well as in bilateral, regional and wider global co-operation.

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