Shortcut of Calendar and Clocks

Shortcut 87:
                             Using the odd days
Find the day of birth of MS Dhoni (7 July, 1981), if 31 Dec 1999 is Friday
Days after 7/7/1981 in 1981 = 177
Odd days by normal years from 1982 to 1999 = 14
Odd days by leap years = 4 x 2 = 8
Total odd days = 177 + 14 + 8 = 199
Remainder of 199/7 = 3
Since last day is Friday, MSD’s birth day is 3 days before Friday,
MSD’s day of birth = Tuesday.

Shortcut 88:
Minute hand and Hour hand overlapping


At what time between 3pm and 4pm, the hour hand and the minute hand will be overlapping?
h = starting time = 3
Time at which the hands will be overlapping,
= (60 x 3)/11
= 180/11
= 16.36 minutes after 3pm
= 03h 16m 21s

Shortcut 89:
Two hands at angleƟ
At what times between 1pm and 2pm the hour hand and minute hand will be 30 degrees apart?
h = 1
Ɵ = 30
Substitute the values in the above formula, we get
(12/11)[(5 x 1) ± (30/6)]
= (12/11)(5 + 5) , (12/11)(5 – 5)
= 10.9 minutes past 1, 0 minutes past 1
= [01h 10m 54s] and [01h 00m 00s]

Shortcut 90:
Two hands M minutes apart
[latex]\frac{12}{11}(5h\pm M)[/latex]
At what times between 5pm and 6pm the hour hand and minute hand will be 10 minutes apart?
h = 5
M = 10
Substitute the values in the above equation, we get
(12/11)[(5 x 5) ± 10]
= (12/11)(25+10) and (12/11)(25 – 10)
= 38.18 minutes past 5 and 16.36 minutes past 5
= [05h 38m 10s] and [05h 16m 20s]

Current Affairs Financial Awareness – 31/08/2016

India, US sign logistics exchange pact to cement defence ties

  • In a major boost to bilateral strategic ties, India and the US have signed a crucial logistics defence pact that will enable their militaries to use each other’s assets and bases for repair and replenishment of supplies, making joint operations more efficient.

Nifty hits 16-month closing high, up 137 points at 8,744

  • NSE Nifty rose by 137 points to hit a fresh 16-month closing high tracking positive global cues, improved FII inflows despite likely Fed rate hike amid all-round late buying mainly in banks, IT, auto, FMCG, pharma surged the bourse.

Sensex zooms 440 pts to over 13-mth high

  • Sensex zoomed over 440 points to close at an over 13-month high of 28,343.01.
  • While the broader Nifty went past the psychological 8,700-level to finish at 16-month high of 8,744.35, lifted by positive global cues.

Airtel, Voda, Idea cut tariff, bundle plans ahead of Jio entry

  • As Reliance Jio”s commercial launch nears, incumbent telecom operators Airtel, Vodafone and Idea have cut tariff and bundled free calls with data to drive mass market adoption, brokerages said.

Gold extends losses, down Rs 90 on global cues

  • Gold remained weak for the second day with prices falling by another Rs 90 to Rs 31,110 per 10 grams at the bullion market today
  • Largely in tandem with a weakening global trend amid muted demand from jewellers at domestic spot market.

RBI sets rupee reference rate at 67.0879 against USD

  • The Reserve Bank of India today fixed the reference rate of the rupee at 67.0879 against the US dollar and 74.9439 for the euro.

Sensex regains 28K level, climbs 177 pts in early trade

  • Market benchmark Sensex extended gains for 2nd session to reclaim 28k-mark by surging over 177 points in early trade
  • Tracking gains on Wall Street and other Asian bourses.

Rupee recovers 7 paise against dollar

  • The rupee recovered 7 paise to 67.11 against the US dollar in early trade today on selling of the American currency by exporters and banks amid a higher opening in the domestic equity market.

Pak foreign debt soars to Rs 74 trillion

  • From Sajjad Hussain Islamabad, Aug 30 (PTI) Pakistan”s foreign debt and liabilities touched the highest ever figure of over Rs 74 trillion in the first month of the current financial year, the country”s central bank said today.

Vehicle scrapping policy to provide Rs 14k-cr benefit: Gadkari

  • The draft vehicle scrapping policy would offer a combined benefit of Rs 14,000 crore to the Centre and states and drive the auto industry growth by 22 per cent, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said today.

Current Affairs General Knowledge – 31/08/2016

Flood death toll rises to 165, 37.53 L people affected

  •  With six more deaths, the toll in Bihar floods today rose to 165, even as the swollen Ganga, whose water level started showing a receding trend, has affected 37.53 lakh people in 12 districts of the state.

Modi’s helicopter travel to SAUNI venue aborted

  • weather Jamnagar, Aug 30 (PTI) Prime Minister Narendra Modi today travelled by road to Aji-3 dam to inaugurate the SAUNI project after landing at the airport here, instead of taking a helicopter ride owing to bad weather conditions.

Indian economy to grow at 7.8% in 2016-17: Survey

  • India”s economy is likely to expand 7.8 per cent during the current financial year on the back of good monsoons, said economists polled by Ficci.

Black money: 300 pc rise in raids, seizures

  • The Income Tax dept has seized an all-time high value of cash and jewellery.
  • While Rs 3,360 crore unpaid taxes have been surrendered this year.

100-year-old runner from India inspires at Masters Games

  • Vancouver (British Columbia), Aug 30 (AP) Man Kaur from India needed almost a minute-and-a-half to cross the finish line in the 100-meter dash.
  • But she still picked up a gold medal Monday at the American Masters Games.

Bhutan set to host Asian Tennis Tour next month

  • Bhutan is set to become the fourth Asian country to host a tournament on the Asian Tennis Tour (ATT) next month
  • Which will be country”s first ever international tennis tournament.

Sanjhouli is first open defecation-free block in Bihar

  • Sanjhouli in Bihar”s Rohtas district, which hit headlines in July after a woman there mortgaged her ”magalsutra” to fetch money for construction of a toilet at home, today became the first Open Defecation-Free (ODF) block in the state under Swachh Bharat Mission.

Australian Parliament sits for first time since election

  • Australia”s Parliament met today for the first time since the conservative government narrowly won an election almost two months ago and as an opinion poll showed Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull”s popularity falling.

Djokovic beats scare, Nadal eases at US Open

  • Defending champion Novak Djokovic overcame an arm injury scare and long-time rival Rafael Nadal shone in 33-degree heat as the US Open showcased its 650 million upgrade on Monday.

‘Hike in salaries of MPs under govt’s consideration’

  • The issue of hike in salaries of MPs is under consideration of the government, a Parliamentary panel was informed today.



Economic Survey 2015-16

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley tables Economic Survey 2015-16 report.

Fiscal Deficit

  • India must meet its medium-term fiscal deficit target of 3 percent of GDP

  • Government will adhere to fiscal deficit target of 4.1 percent of GDP in 2014/15

  • Govt should ensure expenditure control to reduce fiscal deficit

  • Expenditure control and expenditure switching to investment key


  • 2015/16 GDP growth seen at over 8% y/y

  • Double digit economic growth trajectory now a possibility

  • Economic growth at market prices seen between 8.1 – 8.5 percent in 2015/16 on new GDP calculation formula

  • Total stalled projects seen at about 7 percent of GDP, mostly in private sector


  • There is scope for big bang reforms now

  • India can increase public investments and still hit its borrowing targets


  • Inflation shows declining trend in 2014/15

  • Inflation likely to be below central bank target by 0.5 – 1 percentage point

  • Lower inflation opens up space for more monetary policy easing

  • Govt. and central bank need to conclude monetary framework pact to consolidate gains in inflation control

  • Consumer inflation in 2015/16 likely to range between 5-5.5 percent

Fiscal Consolidation

  • Govt. remains committed to fiscal consolidation

  • India can balance short-term imperative of boosting public investment to revitalize growth with fiscal discipline

  • Outlook for external financing is correspondingly favourable

Current Account Deficit

Estimated at about 1.3 percent of GDP in 2014/15 and less than 1.0 percent of GDP in 2015/16


Overhauling of subsidy regime would pave the way for expenditure rationalisation


Liquidity conditions expected to remain comfortable in 2015/16


  • Tax base should widen to over 20% from 5.5% now

  • Need to phase out tax exemptions

  • Property taxation an area needing “urgent attention”

  • Higher property tax rates to check realty speculation

  • Higher property tax to improve local govt finances

External Sector

  • Exports may pick up FY17

  • Headwinds to growth may come from weak global demand

  • Export slowdown may continue for a while

  • FTAs leading to higher imports, exports

  • India must plan for major currency readjustment in Asia

  • India compares favourably with peer economies

  • Foreign demand seen weak

Farm Sector

  • India farm growth seen low for second year in a row

  • La Nina to have positive impact on farm

  • Fertiliser subsidy should shift to direct cash transfer

  • Subsidised fertiliser bag purchase cap to improve targeting

  • Must bring urea under Nutrient Based Subsidy programme

  • Need to rationalise fertiliser subsidy based on inputs, crops

  • Need deft supply management as rabi output seen low

Service Sector

Services sector growth in 2015-16 seen at 9.2%

Railway Budget 2016

Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on 25 February 2016 presented the Railway Budget 2016-17 in the Parliament.

Theme of the Budget

  • Overcoming challenges : Reorganize, Restructure Rejuvenate Indian Railways: ‘Chalo, Milkar Kuch Naya Karen’

  • Three pillars of the strategy i.e. Nav Arjan – New revenues, Nav Manak – New norms, Nav Sanrachna – New Structures.

Financial Performance

  • 2015-16: Savings of Rs. 8,720 crore neutralizing most of the revenue shortfall, expected OR 90%;

  • 2016-17: Targeted Operating Ratio (OR) – 92%, restrict growth of Ordinary Working Expenses by 11.6% after building in immediate impact of 7th PC, reductions planned in diesel and electricity consumption, Revenue generation targeted at Rs 1,84,820 crore.

  • 44 new projects valued Rs. 92,714 crores to be implemented this year.

  • By 2020 Rs.4,000 Crores of estimated revenue to be generated.

Investments and Resources

Process bottlenecks overhauled including delegation of powers to functional levels; average capital expenditure over 2009-14 is Rs. 48,100 crore, average growth of 8% per annum.

2015-16 investment would be close to double of the average of previous 5 years.

2016-17 CAPEX pegged at Rs. 1.21 lakh crore; implementation through joint ventures with states, developing new frameworks for PPP, etc.

7 Missions

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu while talking about his plans to transform Indian Railways also mentioned the 7 “Mission activities – Avataran”

  1. Mission 25 Tonne  – make our infrastructure suitable to carry 25-tonne axle-load.

  2. Mission Zero Accident: Elimination of unmanned level crossings: & introduce TCAS (Train Collision Avoidance System

  3. Mission PACE (Procurement and Consumption Efficiency): This mission aims to improve our procurement & consumption practices to improve the quality of goods and services.

  4. Mission Raftaar: To target doubling of average speeds of freights trains & increasing the average speed of superfast mail/express trains by 25 kmph in the next 5 years.

  5. Mission Hundred: To commission at least a 100 sidings in the next 2 years.

  6. Mission beyond book-keeping: Establish an accounting system where outcomes can be tracked to inputs.

  7. Mission Capacity Utilisation: For making full use of the carrying capacity at Dedicated Freight Corridors.

Each of the ‘mission’ will be headed by a ‘Mission Director, reporting directly to the Chairman, Railway Board. Each Mission will have annual outcome based performance targets.

New Trains & Initiatives

  • Antyodaya Express , Long distance superfast train for unreserved passengers to be started

  • Deen Dayalu coaches for unreserved passengers with potable water & higher number of mobile charging points to be introduced.

  • Humsafar – fully air-conditioned third AC service with an optional service for meals

  • Tejas – Trains to operate at speeds of 130 kmph & above. Will offer entertainment, local cuisine, Wi- Fi, etc.on board.

  • UDAY (Utkrisht Double-Decker Air-conditioned Yatri), double decker trains would be introduced on busiest routes.

  • Aastha circuit trains to connect important pilgrim centres

  • Expanding Sarthi Seva in Konkan Railways for help to senior citizens

  • High speed passenger corridor from Ahmedabad to Mumbai

  • India’s First Rail Auto Hub will be inaugurated in Chennai

  • New freight corridors to come up at Delhi-Chennai, Kharagpur-Mumbai, Kharagpur-Vijayawada.

  • New locomotive factories at cost of Rs 40,000 crore to be setup under the ‘Make in India’

  • Children’s menu, baby foods, changing boards to be made available for travelling mothers.

  • Rail University to be established at Indian Railway Academy at Vadodara.

  • SMART (Specially Modified Aesthetic Refreshing Travel) coaches are to be introduced.It shall offer new amenities including automatic doors, bar-code readers, bio-vacuum toilets, water-level indicators, accessible dustbins, ergonomic seating, improved aesthetics, etc.

  • Rakshak, a device that will intimate about approaching trains will be provided to all gang men.

  • Rail Bandhu magazine shall be made available in all regional languages.

Technology, Cleanliness, Service & Other Initiatives

  • Expansion of Vikalp service – train on demand to provide choice of accommodation in specific trains to wait listed passengers.

  • E-booking of tickets facility

  • Wi Fi facility at 400 stations

  • 17,000 bio-toilets

  • Clean My Coach service by SMS

  • Rail Display Network – GPS based digital displays to provide real time information about upcoming stations shall be installed.

  • 33% sub-quota for women under all reserved categories.


Make in India initiative launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 25th September last year was an initiative aimed at making India a global manufacturing hub.

It was also rolled out with the aim of creating millions of jobs in the country.

Under the ‘Make in India’ initiative, the government has, in the last one year, announced several steps to improve the business environment by easing processes to do business in the country, and attract foreign investments.

As PM Modi’s flagship program completes a year, let’s go through the basics of the ‘Make in India’ initiative, and what it stands to cover.

What is ‘Make in India’ program?

The ‘Make in India’ program is an initiative launched to encourage companies to increase manufacturing in India. This not only includes attracting overseas companies to set up shop in India, but also encouraging domestic companies to increase production within the country.

‘Make in India’ aims at increasing the GDP and tax revenues in the country, by producing products that meet high quality standards, and minimising the impact on the environment.

Fostering innovation, protecting intellectual property, and enhancing skill development are the other aims of the program according to the ‘Make in India’ website.

Policies under ‘Make in India’ initiative:

There are 4 major policies under the ‘Make in India’ program:

1. New Initiatives: This initiative is to improve the ease of doing business in India, which includes increasing the speed with which protocols are met with, and increasing transparency.

Here’s what the government has already rolled out

> Environment clearances can be sought online.

> All income tax returns can be filed online.

> Validity of industrial licence is extended to three years.

> Paper registers are replaced by electronic registers by businessmen.

> Approval of the head of the department is necessary to undertake an inspection.

2. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI):

The government has allowed 100% FDI in all the sectors except Space(74%), Defence (49%) and News Media (26%).

FDI restrictions in tea plantation has been removed, while the FDI limit in defence sector has been raised from the earlier 26% to 49% currently.

3. Intellectual Property Facts:

The government has decided to improve and protect the intellectual property rights of innovators and creators by upgrading infrastructure, and using state-of-the-art technology.

The main aim of intellectual property rights (IPR) is to establish a vibrant intellectual property regime in the country, according to the website.

These are the various types of IPR:

  •  Patent: A patent is granted to a new product in the industry.
  • Design: It refers to the shape, configuration, pattern, colour of the article.
  • Trade mark: A design, label, heading, sign, word, letter, number, emblem, picture, which is a representation of the goods or service.
  • Geographical Indications: According to the website, it is the indication that identifies the region or the country where the goods are manufactured.
  • Copyright: A right given to creators of literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works.
  • Plant variety Protection: Protection granted for plant varieties, the rights of farmers and plant breeders and to encourage the development of new varieties of plants.
  • Semiconductor Integrated Circuits Layout-Design: The aim of the Semiconductor Integrated Circuits Layout-Design Act 2000 is to provide protection of Intellectual Property Right (IPR) in the area of Semiconductor.

4. National manufacturing:

Here the vision is,

  1.  to increase manufacturing sector growth to 12-14% per annum over the medium term.
  2.  to increase the share of manufacturing in the country’s Gross Domestic Product from 16% to 25% by 2022.
  3. to create 100 million additional jobs by 2022 in manufacturing sector.
  4. to create appropriate skill sets among rural migrants and the urban poor for inclusive growth.
  5.  to increase the domestic value addition and technological depth in manufacturing.
  6.  to enhance the global competitiveness of the Indian manufacturing sector.
  7.  to ensure sustainability of growth, particularly with regard to environment.

Response to the ‘Make in India’ initiative:

The government has said that it has, so far, received Rs 1,10 lakh crore worth of proposals from various companies that are interested in manufacturing electronics in India.

Companies like Xiaomi, Huawei have already set up manufacturing units in India, while iPhone, iPad manufacturer Foxconn is expected to open a manufacturing unit soon.

Recently, Lenovo also announced that it has started manufacturing Motorola smartphones in a plant near Chennai.

In a report released by the World Bank, about a state-wise bifurcation based on ease of doing business, Gujarat was ranked as the top state, followed by Andhra Pradesh and Jharkhand.

Shortcut of Heights and Distances

Shortcut 85:
Using tanƟ
Ɵ                                tan

0                                    0

30                            [latex]1/\sqrt3 [/latex]

45                                  1

60                             [latex] \sqrt3[/latex]

90                              [latex]\infty [/latex]
A man on a boat saw a tower of height 100m at an angle of 60o. What is the distance between the man and the tower?
tanƟ = opp/adj
tan 60 = 100/x
√3 = 100/x
x= 100/√3

Shortcut 86:
Using Pythagoras theorem
[latex] hyp^2=opp^2+adj^2[/latex]
A man looks at the top of a tower which is 400m height. The minimum distance between him and top of the tower is 500m. What is the distance between him and the base of the tower?
hyp2 = opp2 + adj2
5002 = 4002 + x2
x2 = 90000
x = 300 m

Shortcut of LCM and HCF

Shortcut 82:
Maximum number of items per group
    Take HCF
There are 40, 45 and 50 balls in three different colors. They have to be arranged in boxes such that all the boxes will have equal number of balls and same colored balls. What is the maximum number of balls that can be arranged in each box?
Take HCF of 10,45, 50
HCF = 5
5 balls per box can be arranged in the above condition.

Shortcut 83:
Minimum number of groups
There are 40, 45 and 50 balls in three different colors. They have to be arranged in boxes such that all the boxes will have equal number of balls and same colored balls. What is the minimum number of boxes required?
HCF = 5
Total number of balls = 40 + 45 + 50 = 135
Minimum number of boxes required = 135/5 = 27

Shortcut 84:
Ringing Bells
     Take LCM
There are three different bells. The first bell rings every 4 hour, the second bell rings every 6 hours and the third bell rings every 15 hours. If all the three bells are rung at same time, how long will it take for them to ring together?
Take LCM of 4, 6, 15
LCM (4,6,15) = 60
All the three bells will ring after 60 hours

Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY)

According to current estimates, the urban population of the country, which has already seen a sharp increase over the past decade, is set to see a phenomenal growth in the years to come. By the year 2050, the country’s urban population is set to reach a population of more than 814 million people. This is an increase of about 400 million from current levels. One of the biggest challenges faced by the country will be providing affordable housing, sanitation and development, and a safe environment to the city dwellers. Currently, the development of a city is led by the real estate developers who decide the areas which shall be developed. Real estate prices have also skyrocketed over the past couple of decades leaving the common man with only dreams of owning a house. It is to address these issues that Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Housing for All by 2022 scheme, also known as the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) on 25 June 2015 at a launch ceremony in Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi. Two other schemes were also launched as complementary to the affordable housing scheme, a scheme for development of Smart Cities across the country and the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) that allows for urban renewal and upgradation of infrastructure in the major urban tracts of the country.

The Prime Minister of India launched the PMAY and the two other schemes in the presence of mayors, municipal commissioners, and state-government officials from all parts of the country. At the launch he said, “The country’s 40 per cent population lives in cities and it is the responsibility of the government to uplift their standards of living. We cannot leave them to their fate…The housing for all scheme will ensure every urban poor is enabled to own a house. AMRUT will ensure basic infrastructure and sanitation is in place in cities.”

Scheme Details

According to the terms of the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, the government of India will undertake to construct about two crore houses by the year 2022. Each house provided under the scheme will involve a central grant of about INR 1 lakh which may go up to INR 2.3 lakhs. This will come as part of a 6.5 percent interest rate subsidy scheme (previous schemes had an interest rate subsidy of about 1 percent). This means that the applicants from lower income groups who avail of the housing scheme may apply for a housing loan with interest subsidy of 6.5 percent. The tenure or term for these housing loans may go up to 15 years and the total benefit received by such loan subsidy will add up to INR 1 to 2.3 lakh each. Currently housing loan interest rates are estimated at about 10.5 percent. The subsidy should, therefore be a major relief to applicants. The ‘Housing for All’ scheme will replace all previous government housing schemes such as the Rajiv Awas Yojana.

According to preliminary estimates, the Housing for All by 2022 will cost the central government about INR three lakh crore spread over the next seven years. The operational guidelines for the schemes launched have been finalised after a year-long round of negotiations with states and Union Territories, say news reports.

Apart from the PMAY itself, the government has come up with a number of incentives and subsidies for the development of housing in urban areas. One of these is the grant of INR 1 lakh per beneficiary to state governments for the development of housing projects in slum areas.

Affordable rental housing, an INR 6,000 crore initiative, which was initially to be part of the Housing For All scheme was missing from the NDA government flagship scheme. The measure, meant to combat the proliferation of slums in urban regions may be released as a separate scheme at a later date.

Benefits to Women, SC/ST

While the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana is clear about its goals – affordable housing for all by 2022, it does ensure that the benefits of the scheme are enjoyed by women, economically backward groups of Indian society and the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. In an unprecedented move, the government has decided to protect the interests of neglected groups in the country. Transgenders and widows, members of the lower income groups and urban poor, and the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes shall be granted preference when they try to avail the affordable housing scheme. Apart from these groups members of society who often find themselves out of a home, seniors and differently-abled people shall also gain preference in allotment of houses. They shall also be able to choose a ground-floor house if need be. Apart from this, it is also mandatory that while registering to avail the benefits of the scheme, the beneficiaries must necessarily mention their mother or wife’s name. According to news reports, these details were revealed by a Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Ministry official before the launch of the scheme. The scheme is one-of-its-kind in India in terms of the protection and benefits that it extends to previously neglected groups such as transgenders and widows.

Smart Cities and AMRUT

As per the government’s scheme for Smart Cities, 100 smart cities shall be developed across the country in the next five years. This project shall involve major national and international stakeholders and comes at a cost of about INR 48,000 crores. Simultaneously over 500 cities in the country have been slated for urban renewal – upgradation of facilities, especially the drainage and sanitation facilities and infrastructure in these parts. The selection of Smart Cities will be done by a competition open for public voting, said the PM. The 500 cities for AMRUT are currently being identified. The government of India has made a commitment to spend about INR 400,000 crore on these three schemes together in the next six years. The government will be looking at the public private partnership model to finance and successfully run these schemes.

How to Apply for PMAY?

The scheme has just being launched by the Prime Minister. Several housing schemes will be launched under the main scheme by several state governments. Once, the state governments will launch the schemes, the application forms will be made available to the desired applicants.

Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has finally launched his dream project of building 100 Smart Cities on 29 April 2015, when the Cabinet chaired by him approved of Rs 48,000 crore outlay to be spent on the project over the next five years.

The Cabinet also approved the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), a mission aimed at transforming 500 cities and towns into efficient urban living spaces, with special focus on a healthy and green environment for children. The Cabinet approved Rs 50,000 crore for this mission which is to be spent over the next five years.

So how are the two projects different?

Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) has a wider reach in terms of the number of cities covered and therefore the funds available for each city would be proportionately less. The mission takes a project approach in working towards improving existing basic infrastructure services like extending clean drinking water supply, improving sewerage networks, developing septage management, laying of storm water drains, improving public transport services and creating green public spaces like parks etc, with special focus on creating healthy open spaces for children.

500 cities and towns will be selected on the basis of population i.e. one lakh and above, while the other criteria of selection will apply for certain locations like tourist popularity, cities located at the stems of main rivers, certain popular hill towns and some select islands. The centre is laying out guidelines on the basis of which states will be free to suggest cities that they wish to bring under AMRUT. AMRUT is actually a new avatar of the existing JNNURM and will extend support to till 2017 to those projects that are at least 50% complete under the earlier JNNURM. Over 400 existing projects are likely to benefit from this.

The Smart Cities Mission will focus on developing 100 select Smart cities by focusing on optimising efficiencies in urban services and infrastructure management, with proactive use of technology and people participation. The Mission will support each selected city with Rs 100 crore per year, for a period of five years.

Centre walks the talk on giving more power to the states

Through both these missions, the Centre has taken a fresh approach by involving active participation by the states and giving the control to ‘shortlist’ cities and towns to be brought under the respective missions and take responsibility for their implementation and fund allocation. In addition, the state will undertake supervision and monitoring of project milestones, as per agreed guidelines.

The states will be free to ‘suggest’ cities as per selection matrix laid out by the centre. For instance, for the Smart Cities Project, a ‘Smart City Challenge’ competition will be launched for cities that wish to come under the mission plan. The Centre plans to link financing to the ability of each city to meet the mission objectives.

Special Purpose Vehicles (SPV) will be created for each selected city and the respective states will be responsible to ensure that adequate resources are made available to the SPVs. The Centre will extend funding support to the extent of 50% for cities with a population of up to 10 lakh, and a third of the project cost for cities with a population above 10 lakh.

Central funding to the states for each city will be released in three installments in the ratio of 20:40:40 and would be linked to milestones being achieved, as per State Annual Action Plan.

To promote early implementation by the states, the centre will incentivise the states by offering to release 10% of the budget allocation, based on reforms implementation in the previous year.

If successful, this will indeed be a significant step for India to seriously build a nationwide green and sustainable urban infrastructure.

Challenges ahead

Till now central control over projects did not succeed in improving or incentivising state level involvement. With the new approach of extending central funding support and leaving it to the states to execute and monitor the projects as per their priorities and local needs, the centre has shifted the challenge and responsibility to the states.

The problem is that municipal functioning at the state level is heavily politicized and corrupt. The big question is – will the states be able to rise above petty politics and ensure corrupt free and efficient implementation of mission objectives? There cannot be a successful urban mission of transformation without establishing the requisite professionally run management structure, with necessary checks and balances built-in, and one that has the ability to adopt technology and deliver efficient services.

Do the states have the political will to undertake the necessary transformation?

That maybe partially true. While it is true that the cities will require significantly more than what has been offered by the centre, however, it is also true that the states will be taking their own initiatives in raising funds and resources to meet mission objectives. Between both missions, the central funds allocated is around Rs 100,000 crore, but with states contributing their share, the total allocation could well touch Rs 200,000 crore.

It must be seen in the context where most cities and towns in India have suffered years of neglect, with minimal investment in improving existing infrastructure or building new ones. This mission is a beginning towards initiating the much needed transformation. After all, urban infrastructure development cannot stop with one government but must remain a part of an ongoing process. The fact that this government has initiated steps with active participation from the states, could well give much needed impetus to an overstressed and obsolete infrastructure. It’s time for India to transform.