Current Affairs 16 November

Himalayan State Regional Council

NITI Aayog has constituted the ‘Himalayan State Regional Council’ to ensure sustainable development of the Indian Himalayan region.

About the Council:

Composition: The Himalayan State Regional Council will be chaired by the Dr VK Saraswat, Member, NITI Aayog and will consist of the Chief Secretaries of the Himalayan States as well as the Secretaries of key Central Ministries, senior officers of NITI Aayog as well as special invitees.

Objective: The Council has been constituted to review and implement identified action points based on the Reports of five Working Groups, which were established along thematic areas to prepare a roadmap for action.

Functions: The Himalayan States Regional Council will be the nodal agency for the Sustainable development in the Himalayan Region which consists of the twelve States namely Jammu &Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura, two districts of Assam namely Dima Hasao and KarbiAnglong and Darjeeling and Kalimpong in West Bengal.

The terms of reference of the Council states that it shall monitor the implementation of action points for Central Ministries, Institutions and 12 Himalayan State Governments in Indian Himalayan Region which include river basin development and regional cooperation, spring mapping and revival across Himalayas in phased manner for water security; develop, implement and monitor tourism sector standards as well as bring policy coherence, strengthen skill & entrepreneurship with focus on identified priority sectors, among other action points.


Recognizing the uniqueness of the Himalayas and the challenges for sustainable development, Five Working Groups were constituted by NITI Aayog on June 2, 2017. The five thematic reports were released by the NITI Aayog in August, 2018 and framed the action points for the Terms of Reference of the Council constituted.

These Working Groups were tasked with preparing a roadmap for action across five thematic areas namely:

Inventory and Revival of Springs in Himalayas for Water Security
Sustainable Tourism in Indian Himalayan Region.
Shifting Cultivation: Towards Transformation Approach.
Strengthening Skill & Entrepreneurship (E&S) Landscape in Himalayas.
Data/Information for Informed Decision Making.
What to study?

For Prelims: About the council, objectives, functions and composition.
For Mains: Himalayan states- uniqueness, need for special attention, challenges to development and measures needed.

Swadesh Darshan Scheme

Two important projects under Swadesh Darshan Scheme of Ministry of Tourism, Government of India have been inaugurated at PTSO Lake in Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh.

These projects are “Development of North East Circuits: Bhalukpong- Bomdila – Tawang Project & Nafra- Seppa- Pappu, Pasa, Pakke Valleys- Sangdupota- New Sagalee- Ziro- Yomcha Project”.

About Swadesh Darshan Scheme:

The Tourism Ministry had launched ‘Swadesh Darshan’ scheme with an objective to develop theme-based tourist circuits in the country. These tourist circuits will be developed on the principles of high tourist value, competitiveness and sustainability in an integrated manner.

Features of Swadesh Darshan Scheme:

The scheme is 100% centrally funded for the project components undertaken for public funding.

To leverage the voluntary funding available for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives of Central Public Sector Undertakings and corporate sector.
Funding of individual project will vary from state to state and will be finalised on the basis of detailed project reports prepared by PMC (Programme Management Consultant).
A National Steering Committee (NSC) will be constituted with Minister in charge of M/O Tourism as Chairman, to steer the mission objectives and vision of the scheme.
A Mission Directorate headed by the Member Secretary, NSC as a nodal officer will help in identification of projects in consultation with the States/ UTs governments and other stake holders.
PMC will be a national level consultant to be appointed by the Mission Directorate.
What to study?

For Prelims: Key features of the scheme, various circuits covered under the scheme and their geographical locations.
For Mains: Significance of the scheme and the need for the scheme.

East Asia Summit

13th East Asia Summit is being held in Singapore.

India has been participating in the EAS since its very inception in 2005.

About 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.

Evolution of EAS:

The concept of an East Asia Grouping was first promoted in 1991 by the then Malaysian Prime Minister, Mahathir bin Mohamad. The final report of the East Asian Study Group in 2002, established by the ASEAN+3 countries (i.e. China, Japan and ROK), recommended EAS as an ASEAN led development limited to the ASEAN +3 countries.
However, the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (AMM) held in Vientiane on July 26, 2005 welcomed the participation of ASEAN, China, Japan, Republic of Korea, Australia, India and New Zealand, in the first EAS. USA and the Russian Federation were formally included as members of the EAS at the 6th EAS held in Bali, Indonesia on 19 November 2011.
What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: EAS- composition, objectives, significance for India and issues associated.

World Customs Organisation (WCO)

A regional meeting of World Customs Organisation (WCO) was held recently in Jaipur, Rajasthan.

Outcomes of the meeting:

The meeting deliberated upon various issues including the steps required for the capacity building and reforms in customs.
It also discussed and deliberated upon amended Kyoto protocol, digital customs, e-commerce among other issues.
Summary of various efforts made by National Trade Facilitation Committee (NTFC) for trade facilitation was also tabled in the meeting.

World Customs Organisation (WCO):

What is it? WCO is independent intergovernmental body whose mission is to enhance effectiveness and efficiency of Customs administrations. It was established in 1952 as Customs Co-operation Council (CCC). It is the only international organization with competence in Customs matters and is considered as voice of international Customs community.

It is headquartered in Brussels, Belgium.

Composition: It represents 182 Customs administrations across the globe that collectively process approximately 98% of world trade.

Functions: It plays leading role in discussion, development, promotion and implementation of modern customs systems and procedures. It offers range of Conventions and other international instruments, as well as technical assistance and training services to its members. It also actively supports its members in their endeavours to modernize and build capacity within their national Customs administrations.

Objectives: It aims to enhance efficiency and effectiveness of member customs administrations and assist them to contribute successfully to national development goals, particularly revenue collection, national security, trade facilitation, community protection, and collection of trade statistics.
What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: WCO- composition, objectives, functions and significance.


Delhi Police has launched an e-learning portal ‘Nipun’ to impart training and provide up to date information to police officers.


The initiative is aimed at imparting in-service online training and information to police personnel through specialised courses available online which have been designed by experts in various fields.
The online courses on this portal have been designed in collaboration with University Grant Commission (UGC), FICCI, NHRC, NCPCR and Janaki Devi Memorial College, Delhi University under project CLAP “The Collaborative Learning and Partnership”.
It will have online courses and resources on law, standing orders, investigation checklists, forms for case files, latest High Court and Supreme Court rulings. It is envisioned that Investigating Officers (IOS) will be able to take benefit of this information during course of their duty or while handling case.


Through this portal Delhi Police officers can now access information by just logging on the portal. They can take course from anywhere at any time. It will make easier for the police officer to upgrade their skills and re-enforce their learning while balancing training time along with their daily routine work.

What to study?

For Prelims: All about NIPUN.
For Mains: Significance of NIPUN and the need for training at regular intervals.
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