Abhimanu. Week: IV, January Weekly current affairs Series. Abhimanu s IAS Study Group. Chandigarh

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1 Abhimanu Weekly current affairs Series Week: IV, January 2018 Abhimanu s IAS Study Group Chandigarh

2 NATIONAL ECONOMIC AFFAIRS Atal Pension Yojana Expands Net to Small Finance Banks The Central government announced that the payments banks such as Airtel payments bank and small finance banks such as Utkarsh and ESAF will also offer social security scheme, Atal Pension Yojana (APY), to their subscribers. Currently, the scheme is offered via all mainstream banks such as State Bank of India (SBI), Oriental Bank of Commerce and Bank of Baroda, among others. In a bid to widen the APY net, it was felt that the new payments banks and small finance banks will provide the much-needed impetus to the outreach of subscribers under APY, the finance ministry said in a statement. About Atal Pension Yojana (APY) This scheme was launched in May This scheme is administered by the PFRDA, and implemented through all the banks nationwide. It is a pension scheme for unorganised sector workers such as personal maids, drivers, gardeners etc, was launched in June 2015 by the government. This social security scheme was introduced as a replacement to previous government's Swavalamban Yojana NPS Lite, which wasn't well accepted by people. APY aims to help these workers save money for their old age while they are working and guarantees returns post retirement. The scheme also promises a co-contribution by Central Government of 50% of the total prescribed contribution by a worker, up to Rs per annum, but only to those who joined APY before Further, this co-contribution would be made only for 5 years, from FY to in the eligible cases subject to conditions mentioned below. APY is a periodic contribution based pension plan and promises a fixed pension of Rs 1000/ Rs 2000/ Rs 3000/ Rs 4000 or Rs Zero Budget Natural Farming Himachal Pradesh Government has launched Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) project to promote organic farming. It was launched by Chief Minister, Jai Ram Thakur. The project aims to increase agriculture produce and the income of farmers by the year About Zero Budget Natural Farming: ZBNF was initially launched in September 2015 under the Centre s Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana. Initially, 50 villages across 13 districts of the state were selected for the pilot project. It has been so successful that the government wants to scale it up, according to T Vijay Kumar, who is in charge of the project. Last year during the Kharif season, work started in 704 villages to bring farmers under this practice. There is a plan to cover an estimated 6 million farmers by The main aim of ZBNF is elimination of chemical pesticides and promotion of good agronomic practices. Many farmers, who were initially reluctant to take up ZBNF, have been practising it for two seasons now. There are some who switched over last year and has witnessed good results.

3 CRISIL, SIDBI Launch India s First MSE Sentiment Index The Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs Shri Arun Jaitley launched CriSidEx, India s first sentiment index for micro and small enterprises (MSEs) developed jointly by CRISIL & SIDBI. CriSidEx CriSidEx is a composite index based on a diffusion index of 8 parameters and measures MSE business sentiment on a scale of 0 (extremely negative) to 200 (extremely positive). The parametric feedback was captured through a survey of 1100 MSEs in November December. CriSidEx will have 2 indices, one for the survey quarter and another for the next quarter once a trend emerges after few rounds of the survey, providing independent time series data. Analysis The crucial benefit of CriSidEx is that its readings will flag potential headwinds and changes in production cycles and thus help improve market efficiencies. And by capturing the sentiment of exporters and importers, it will also offer actionable indicators on foreign trade. The health of MSME sector is extremely vital to the economy and with the number of steps taken by the government in the past 2 years, there is increased integration of MSME sector into formal economy. MSME sector is backbone of the economy. It is one of the largest employers in the country and with the vast population where employment either in government or in the large industry itself has limited potential. This is one sector where people not only exhibit their entrepreneurial skills, become part of large value chains but also become job creators in the process. NATIONAL POLITY 325 air routes awarded under UDAN-2 Around 40 per cent, or 129, of the 325 air routes awarded under the second phase of the regional connectivity scheme were for Northeastern and hill states, underscoring the Centre s emphasis on enhancing air connectivity to the remote terrains. These include strategic airports such as Kargil in Jammu & Kashmir, Pakyong in Sikkim, and Tezu in Arunachal Pradesh, where civilian air connectivity will be provided for the first time. Further, the phase-ii of the government s flagship scheme has also seen routes being served by helicopters apart from fixed-wing aircraft. In fact, nearly 70 per cent or 31 out of 56 new destinations to be connected via air transport will be served by helipads. Key features of the scheme: The UDAN scheme will be applicable on flights which cover between 200 km and 800 km with no lower limit set for hilly, remote, islands and regions which are security sensitive. Under the UDAN scheme, the flights are bound to connect at least one RCS airport (underserved and unserved airports). The RCS caps fares and also offers a ceiling for the VGF(Viability Gap Funding) available for each route. Which means the airlines cannot charge beyond the caps specified from passengers. For the shortest route under the scheme fare has been capped at Rs 1,420. For longest route, fare has been capped ar Rs 3,500.

4 The Centre has also decided to provide concessions such as 2% excise on Value Added Tax (VAT) and service tax at 1/10th. State government are bound to provide free security and fire service, utilities at concessional rates and reduce VAT on ATF to 1%. There will be no landing charges, parking charges and Terminal Navigation Landing Charges will be imposed for RCS flights. A Regional Connectivity Fund (RCF) will be created to fund the scheme via a levy on certain flights. States are expected to contribute 20 per cent to the fund. Analysis: Existing airlines are opposing the move to introduce one more levy on flyers in the form of RCS fee and they feel the government should have found some other way of funding this scheme instead of taxing passengers more. In order to address this issue, there are three crucial steps taken by government to strike a balance between affordability for the common man and profitability for regional operators. Firstly, successful bidders will now have exclusive rights to operate on a regional route for three years, up from the previous plan of one year. Secondly, a UDAN flight operating from a small city to a metro like Delhi or Kolkata will have to pay no airport charges at the bigger airport. And finally, government have made it possible for entrepreneurs to lease planes in small numbers also to become regional operators. Earlier it was not possible to do so. The scheme will offer incentives for anywhere between nine to 40 seats on an aircraft flying on designated regional routes, connecting unserved or underserved airports. Since the number of RCS seats cannot be more than 50 percent of the aircraft's capacity, this means such routes would require aircraft of about 80 seats at the most. Most airlines right now do not have these small aircraft - except Air India, Jet Airways and SpiceJet. And those already having smaller aircraft seem reluctant to operate flights under the present subsidy offer, saying smaller aircraft are more expensive to operate and would need higher support from the Central as well as state governments. Private airlines have said that despite the subsidy element being clearly defined in the scheme, the flights may still not be viable. They are unhappy with the quantum of subsidy being offered and by the process of bidding which will ultimately determine what the subsidy amount for a route will be. Business aircraft owners are unhappy because the scheme is meant as of now for only scheduled operators, thus barring them from participation. The environment for airlines to operate is already highly taxed (taxes on aviation turbine fuel among the highest in the world). So another levy to fund the regional connectivity scheme is obviously annoying airlines further. Anganwadi Services Training Programme The government has launched the Management Information System (MIS) portal for Anganwadi Services Training Programme. The Ministry of Women and Child Development in collaboration with National Informatics Centre (NIC), has developed a Management Information System (MIS) portal for submitting applications/estimates by NGOs for carrying out Anganwadi Services (ICDS) Training through AWTCs/MLTCs. The first phase of the portal will enable NGOs to submit proposal to the respective States/UTs. They, in turn, process the proposals and recommend requirement of funds for running the Programme in the States/UTs. About Anganwadi Services Training Programme: The Anganwadi Services Training Programme under the Umbrella Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme and the overall administration, management and monitoring of the implementation of the Scheme are being done by the respective State Government/UT Administration.

5 The training provided to the Anganwadi Workers (AWWs)/Anganwadi Helpers (AWHs) and the Supervisors at the Anganwadi Workers Training Centres (AWTCs)/Middle Level Training Centres (MLTCs) is a part of the Anganwadi Services. AWTCs/MLTCs are run either by the respective State Governments/Union Territory Administrations or by NGOs under the supervision of respective State Governments/UT Administrations. The Government of India releases funds to the State Governments/UT Administrations for implementation of the Scheme. As per the directions of the NITI Aayog, NGOs/VOs are required to get themselves registered with the NGO-PS portal and they must have PAN & Aadhaar of members/office bearers of NGOs/VOs duly verified. The unique ID generated by NGO-PS portal on successful sign-up by them with the NGO-PS portal, is mandatory requirement when the NGOs/VOs approach the Central/State Government for grants. Rapid Reporting System for the Scheme for Adolescent Girls The government has launched the Phase -1 i.e. the beneficiary module of the Rapid Reporting System for the Scheme for Adolescent Girls a web based on line monitoring for the Scheme for Adolescent Girls. The RRS will facilitate the monitoring of the scheme and taking corrective measures by ensuring faster flow of information, accurate targeting of the beneficiaries and reduction of leakages. This Portal has been developed in collaboration with National Informatics Centre (NIC). Scheme for Adolescent Girls: In 2017, Government realizing the multi-dimensional needs of out of school adolescent girls (11-14 years) owing to the onset of second growth spurt during this period and with a aim to motivate these girls to join school system, approved continuation of the Scheme for Adolescent Girls (SAG) for out of school girls in the age group of years. The scheme aims at providing them nutritional Rs.9.50/beneficiary/day for 300 days in a year, motivating out of school girls to go back to formal schooling or skill training under non-nutrition component of the scheme. Government has also approved expansion and universalisation of the Scheme for Adolescent Girls in a phased manner i.e. in additional 303 districts in and the remaining districts in with the simultaneous phasing out of Kishori Shakti Yojana. Presently, MWCD is implementing the Scheme for Adolescent Girls (SAG) in selected 508 districts across the country. SAG aims at empowering out of school adolescent girls of 11 to 14 years by improving their nutritional and health status, upgrading their skills. In addition to the nutritional support under the scheme, the girls are equipped with information on health, hygiene and guidance on existing public services. The Scheme aims to mainstream out of school girls into formal education or non-formal education. The scheme is being implemented using the platform of Integrated child Development Services Scheme. Anganwadi Centres (AWCs) are the focal point for the delivery of the services. Scheme for Adolescent Girls is a centrally sponsored scheme, implemented through Centre and State share in the ratio of 50:50, for nutrition component 60:40 for the rest of the activities for State and UTs with legislation, 90:10 for NE and three Himalayan States and 100% for UTs without legislation. Rajasthan gives 1% quota to Most Backward Classes Rajasthan government has issued orders for granting 1% reservation to the Most Backward Classes(MBC), comprising Gujjars and four other nomadic communities, within the 50% ceiling mandated by the Supreme Court. Along with Gujjars, nomadic communities Banjara, Gadia- Lohar, Raika and Gadariya were included among the Other Backward Classes for quota in the government jobs and educational institutions.

6 Background: The State Assembly had on October 26, 2017, passed a Bill creating the most backward category within the OBCs for Gujjars and four other nomadic communities and given 5% reservation to them, while increasing the OBC quota from 21% to 26% and taking the overall quota in the State to 54%. The government announced the creation of MBCs and included Gujjars, Banjara, Gadia-Lohar, Rebari and Gadaria in it. On the basic of the Commission's report, they have now been provided with 1 per cent additional reservation under the MBC category. Along with this 1 per cent, they will continue getting quota benefits under the other backward classes (OBC) category Gujjars and others were earlier grouped as a special backward class and the State government had tried thrice to grant 5% reservation to them. Analysis: Now, the total quota in Rajasthan stands at 54 percent- 26 percent for OBCs, 16 percent for SCs, and 12 percent for STs. This is in violation of the Supreme Court guidelines, which say the total quota in government jobs and educational institutes for different reserved categories in the state cannot go beyond 50 percent. Last year, the Rajasthan High Court had struck down government's attempt to grant five percent quota to Gujjars as it would have shot the overall reservation to 54 percent. Tamil Nadu Rural Transformation Project India and the World Bank have signed a $100 million loan agreement to support Tamil Nadu Rural Transformation Project. This is expected to promote rural enterprises, facilitate their access to finance, and create employment opportunities for youth, particularly women, in selected blocks of Tamil Nadu across 26 districts, directly benefitting over 400,000 people. About Tamil Nadu Rural Transformation Project: The Tamil Nadu Rural Transformation Project will create an enabling environment for producer organisations and enterprises to promote businesses across select value chains. Communities will identify commodities and sub-sectors in the value chain for preparing business plans. The 30 per cent financing for these business plans will be through a matching grant programme from the project and the remaining 70 per cent will be leveraged from other financial institutions. The project will enable producer organisations and enterprises especially women entrepreneurs in Tamil Nadu, build businesses that will help them access finance, markets, networks and generate employment. The project will also specifically support eligible households from socially and culturally disadvantaged groups harness their existing assets, skills, and resources; break their entry barriers to value-added economic activities; enhance their ability to access finance, markets, technology, and related support services; help them graduate to value-added economic activities with higher returns such as garment manufacturing and food processing units, eco-tourism ventures, and businesses around creative industries. World Bank-financed State Livelihood Projects, which have so far reached over 35 million people, have given the rural poor a greater sense of identity, and better services and livelihood opportunities. This project will build on those achievements and support Tamil Nadu s rural enterprises access finance, build business skills and create jobs. The project will be operational in 120 blocks across 3,994 villages in 26 districts of Tamil Nadu with 411,620 direct beneficiaries.

7 It will work with targeted households that are already part of self-help-groups (SHGs). The project will be rolled out in a phased manner 26 blocks will be taken up for implementation in all project districts in the first eight months, followed by 52 blocks by the end of 12 months, and the remaining 42 blocks by the end of 18 months from initiation of project implementation. The U$100 million loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), has a 5-year grace period, and a maturity of 19 years. Thar Link Express India and Pakistan decided to extend the Thar Link Express/Thar Express that connects Jodhpur in Rajasthan with the provincial Karachi capital of Karachi. The train will now continue to connect both nations till January 31, About the Thar Link Express: The rail links in the Indian subcontinent have an undeniable colonial legacy. The British Raj established the Indian Railways not for the convenience of Indians but to ease the transport of raw materials from the hinterlands to ports. It was a matter of time, therefore, that a railroad link was established between the two major port cities of Bombay and Karachi. In 1900, the Sind Mail (as the train was known back then) chugged along from Bombay to Karachi via Ahmedabad, Palanpur, Marwar, Pali, Jodhpur, Lun, Barmer, Munabao, Khokhrapar, Mirpur Khas and Hyderabad (Sindh) Railway Stations. The Sind Mail continued to ferry passengers from one country to another for 65 years. In 1965, India and Pakistan fought their first major war and during the war, Pakistan Air Force bombed the Munabao-Khokkhrapar rail link. After this, the rail link was disrupted and remained shut for 41 years. But for those who had family ties across the border, not travelling to the other side was not an option. Munabao and Khokhrapar are just 10-kilometre away from each other. But before the train began, a round trip would mean people would have to travel a staggering 4,000 kms. All this for a distance that could easily be covered on foot. In February 2006, the train once again made its journey from Jodhpur to Munabao. An old British-era rail link was revived and the Sind Mail was rechristened the Thar Link Express in India and Thar Express in Pakistan. India is world s 3rd largest steel producer As per the latest data released by World Steel Association, India is the world s third-largest steel producer. China is miles ahead of others in terms of production, the gap between Japan and India, currently positioned at the second and third slots in the world order of steel production, respectively, is narrowing. Japan produced MT steel in 2017 compared with India s MT. In 2016, the gap was wider at 9.3 MT and 16 MT in However, India s steel production grew by 6.2% in 2017 compared with a marginal decline in Japan s production, thus brightening India s prospect of grabbing the second slot in India had grabbed the third slot in steel production in 2015 from the US after long been holding the fourth slot. India s has been steadily growing and with the Indian government targeting 300 MT annual installed capacity from 128 MT now, chances are there that India s production will only rise in the coming years. In 2017, world crude steel production reached 1,691.2 MT, up by 5.3% over the previous year. Steel production increased in all regions during the year except in the CIS, which remained stable. Annual production for Asia was 1,162.5 MT in 2017, an increase of 5.4% compared to China s production grew by 5.7% to MT from MT a year ago. China s share of world production increased from 49.0% in 2016 to 49.2% in About the World Steel Association:

8 World steel is a non-profit organisation with headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. A second office in Beijing, China, opened in April The World Steel Association (worldsteel) was founded as the International Iron and Steel Institute on 10 July It changed its name to the World Steel Association on 6 October Worldsteel represents over 160 steel producers (including 9 of the world s 10 largest steel companies), national and regional steel industry associations, and steel research institutes. Worldsteel members represent around 85% of world steel production. Zojila tunnel An MoU has been signed between National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation (NHIDCL) under the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways, and M/S IL&FS Transportation Networks Ltd for construction of the Zojila Tunnel in Jammu & Kashmir. About Zojila Tunnel: The total capital cost of the project is Rs billion, including the cost of land acquisition, resettlement and rehabilitation, and other pre-construction activities, as well as maintenance and operation cost of the tunnel for four years The civil construction cost of the project is Rs billion and the construction period of the project is seven years The tunnel would have a cut and cross-ventilation system, fully transverse ventilation system, uninterrupted power supply, CCTV monitoring, variable messaging boards, traffic logging equipment, tunnel radio, emergency telephone system. This infrastructure project will comprise a km long two lane bi-directional single tube tunnel. The total capital cost of the project is estimated to be around Rs crore. This will also include the cost towards land acquisition, resettlement & rehabilitation and other pre-construction activities as well as maintenance and operation cost of tunnel for four years. Zojila pass is situated at an altitude of 11,578 feet on Srinagar-Kargil-Leh National Highway which remains closed during winters due to heavy snowfall and avalanches cutting off Leh-Ladakh region from Kashmir. Analysis: This project holds strategic and socio-economic significance, especially given the fact that the region of Leh has limited connectivity for as many as 6 months of the year due to threat of avalanches. The implementation of the Zojila tunnel will generate massive job opportunities among local residents and due to better road connectivity between Kashmir and Ladakh, the tourism industry will also witness commendable traffic throughout the year, which will successfully boost the state economy. The project would enhance the safety of travellers crossing Zojila Pass and reduce the travel time from 3.5 hours to 15 minutes. This pass is most strategic for the entire Kargil sector which has seen intrusion and war in the past.

9 INTETRNATIONAL AFFAIRS Delhi Declaration The ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit was held in New Delhi to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the establishment of sectoral dialogue between two sides under the theme of Shared Values, Common Destiny. It issued joint statement titled Delhi Declaration after the plenary session focusing on counter-terrorism, identity security, military cooperation, and bilateral financial support. Main highlights of the declaration: The Declaration supports a common approach to counter terrorism and sought a comprehensive approach to combat terrorism through close cooperation by disrupting and countering terrorists, terrorist groups and networks, including by countering cross border movement of terrorists and foreign terrorist fighters and misuse of Internet including social media by terror entities. It called for strengthening cooperation to combat other transnational crimes, including people smuggling, trafficking in persons,illicit drug trafficking, cybercrime, and piracy and armed robbery against ships. It reaffirm importance of maintaining and promoting peace, stability, maritime safety and security, freedom of navigation and overflight in the region. It calls for other lawful uses of seas and to promote peaceful resolutions of disputes, in accordance with universally recognised principles of international law, including 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). This declaration also reaffirmed their commitment to enhance physical and digital connectivity in line with Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025 and ASEAN ICT Masterplan (AIM) 2020 by availing $1-billion line of credit (LoC) announced by India... They will also work towards encouraging early completion of India-Myanmar-Thailand (IMT) Trilateral Highway Project and extend it to Cambodia, Lao PDR. About ASEAN: The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, was established on 8 August 1967 in Bangkok, Thailand, with the signing of the ASEAN Declaration (Bangkok Declaration) by the Founding Fathers of ASEAN, namely Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. Brunei Darussalam then joined on 7 January 1984, Viet Nam on 28 July 1995, Lao PDR and Myanmar on 23 July 1997, and Cambodia on 30 April 1999, making up what is today the ten Member States of ASEAN. China releases Arctic Policy China has released its Arctic Policy. The document draws a picture of how China views the economic possibilities the region offers. With this, China has vowed to actively participate in Arctic affairs as a near-arctic State and a major stakeholder in the Arctic. Main Highlights of the policy: This policy seemed to lay out the grounds for China to make claims to economic resources and to shipping routes in the region. As a result of global warming, the Arctic shipping routes are likely to become important transport routes for international trade. China hopes to work with all parties to build a 'Polar Silk Road' through developing the Arctic shipping routes," the policy document said, directly linking itself to Chinese President Xi Jinping's ambitious Belt and Road Initiative. China advocates protection and rational use of the region and encourages its enterprises to engage in international cooperation on the exploration for and utilization of Arctic resources by making the best use of their advantages in capital, technology and domestic market.

10 It also made it a point to repeatedly state that it would not infringe on the rights of the Arctic States - countries like US, Russia, Canada, and the Nordic countries. It called for cooperation, rather than acting individually, with these players in the exploration and exploitation of oil, gas, mineral and other non-living resources. As fish stocks have shown a tendency to move northwards due to climate change and other factors, the Arctic has the potential to become a new fishing ground in the future.china supports efforts to formulate a legally binding international agreement on the management of fisheries in the high seas portion of the Arctic Ocean. It also said China would support the creation of an international organisation to manage fisheries in the Arctic region. China also committed to continue and expand its research activities in the Arctic region. It repeatedly referred to the ecological sensitivity of the area, and promised that it would be part of efforts to help conserve Arctic biodiversity and the eco-system. The policy document also addressed the possibility of Arctic tourism, and said it would work with local stakeholders to build up relevant expertise in the Chinese tourism sector. SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY New programmes for young scientists and researchers The government has announced four schemes for bright young scientists, including one that allows them to spend up to one year in a research lab abroad to hone their skills. These schemes which are instituted by the Science Engineering Research Board (SERB) of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), are expected to come into force on February 1. Overseas doctoral fellowship programme This would help doctoral students registered in Indian universities to spend six to 12 months in foreign universities and other institutions of repute with whom there is research collaboration. Each selected doctoral student would be given a fellowship of $2,000 a month for the period spent in the foreign lab, apart from travel expenses. The maximum number of students supported under the scheme is 100 a year. Teacher Associateship for Research Excellence (TARE) This scheme is aimed at young faculty members working in a regular capacity in State universities and colleges and in private academic institutions, who have an orientation for research. They will get a chance to carry out research in public-funded institutions such as IITs, IISERs, and other national research laboratories in their free time for a maximum period of three years. The selected scholars will be given an annual research fellowship of 60,000. Besides, there is a research grant of 5 lakh a year, which will be shared equally by the host and parent institutions of the scholar. The plan is to offer 500 such fellowships every year. Distinguished investigator award This award is for a maximum of 35 brilliant young scientists who have excelled as principal investigators in research projects funded by SERB or DST. Those recognised under the scheme will get an additional sum of 15,000 as monthly fellowship and an optional research grant for a period of three years.

11 AWSAR (Augmenting Writing Skills for Articulating Research): This has been initiated to encourage, empower and endow popular science writing through newspapers, magazines, blogs, social media, etc. by young PhD Scholars and Post-Doctoral Fellows during the course of their higher studies and research pursuits. As over 20,000 youth are awarded PhD in S&T every year in India, the scheme aims to tap this tremendous potential to popularize & communicate science and also to inculcate scientific temperament in the masses. Environmental Performance Index The 2018 Environmental Performance Index (EPI) the green rankings was recently released on the side-lines of the World Economic Forum meet in Davos. The biennial index is prepared by Yale and Columbia Universities along with the World Economic Forum (WEF). A total of 24 indicators were evaluated and grouped into ten issues: air quality, water and sanitation, heavy metals, biodiversity and habitat, forests, fisheries, climate and energy, air pollution, water resources, and agriculture. Highlights of the index: India has ranked as fourth worst country in the world in terms of curbing environmental pollution. India ranked 177 out of 180 countries, in contrast to the rank of 141 two years ago. Low scores on the EPI are indicative of the need for national sustainability efforts on a number of fronts, especially cleaning up air quality, protecting biodiversity, and reducing GHG emissions Switzerland emerged the leading country in overall environmental performance with a score of France, Denmark, Malta and Sweden were in the top five while the United States made it to the 27th rank. As regards air quality, India scored a mere 5.75, China and Pakistan 15.69, and these face a public health crisis that demands urgent attention. Analysis: The report found that, globally, air quality is the leading environmental threat to public health. In 2016, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation estimated that diseases related to airborne pollutants contributed to two-thirds of all life-years lost to environmentally related deaths and disabilities. Pollution is particularly severe in places such as India and China, where greater levels of economic development contribute to higher pollution levels. Further, as countries develop, increased population growth in large cities, as well as increased industrial production and automotive transportation, continue to expose people to high levels of air pollution. India s low scores are influenced by poor performance in the environmental health policy objective. Deaths attributed to PM2.5 have risen over the past decade and are estimated at 1,640,113, annually (Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, 2017). Despite government action, pollution from solid fuels, coal and crop residue burning, and emissions from motor vehicles continue to severely degrade the air quality. QUICK FACTS World's largest solar thermal plant to be built in : South Australia In Global Manufacturing index 2017, rank of India is: 30 India recently unveiled its fastest supercomputer which is : Pratyush. Defence Innovation Centre to be set up at : Coimbatore

12 New MD & CEO of NPCI: Dilip Asbe