Press Information Bureau (PIB)- 01st Sept to 07th Sept, 2017

Press Information Bureau (PIB)- 01st Sept to 07th Sept, 2017 (CAO PIB Weekly Compilation)


Joint Proposal by India & China in WTO on Aggregate Measurement of Support (AMS)

{Economic Policy}


Image of Three Categories of Domestic Support

Image of Three Categories of Domestic Support

In News:

Recently (on 18 July 2017) India and China jointly submitted a proposal to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) calling for the elimination – by developed countries – of the most trade-distorting form of farm subsidies, known in WTO parlance as Aggregate Measurement of Support (AMS) or ‘Amber Box’ support as a prerequisite   for consideration of other reforms in domestic support negotiations.

Context:

This is an important proposal by India and China in view of the ongoing negotiations for the upcoming 11th Ministerial Conference of the WTO to be held in Buenos Aires in December 2017. It counters the efforts by some countries to target the subsidies of the developing countries while letting the developed countries retain their huge farm subsidies.

Findings of the Joint Paper

The joint paper reveals that developed countries, including the US, the EU and Canada, have been consistently providing trade-distorting subsidies to their farmers at levels much higher than the ceiling applicable to developing countries. Developed countries have more than 90% of global AMS entitlements amounting to nearly US$ 160 bn. Most of the developing countries, including India and China, do not have AMS entitlements.

Asymmetry in the rules on Agricultural Trade

Listing the most heavily and frequently subsidised products by the US, the EU and Canada since 1995, the paper calls for elimination of such subsidies.

The numbers reveal that subsidies for many items provided by the developed world are over 50% and some even more that 100% of the value of production of the product concerned, while developing countries are forced to contain it within 10% of the value of production.

In other words, while developed Members have access to huge amount of AMS beyond their de minimis (these are the minimal amounts of domestic support that are allowed even though they distort trade — up to 5% of the value of production for developed countries, 10% for developing.) in contrast most developing Members have access only to de minimis resulting in a major asymmetry in the rules on agricultural trade.

Elimination of AMS is the starting point of reforms of WTO

The paper illustrates the adverse effects of concentration of AMS on a few products, which no other proposal in the WTO addresses.  Elimination of AMS, India and China believe, should be the starting point of reforms rather than seeking reduction of subsidies by developing countries, some of which like India provide a subsistence amount of about US $ 260 per farmer per annum compared to over 100 times more in some developed countries.


Impact of Demonetisation on Black Money, Widening of Tax Base and Direct Tax Collections

{Economic Policy}


The Government of India launched a concerted drive against black money with Demonetisation being an important step in that direction. Among the main objectives of Demonetisation was the flushing out of black money and also conversion of the non-formal economy into a formal economy to expand the tax base. The impact of Demonetisation on black money, widening of tax base and Direct Tax Collections is summed up hereunder:

Impact on black money

The Income Tax Department launched ‘Operation Clean Money’(OCM) on 31st January, 2017 to analyse the data of the persons who deposited large sums of cash and whose returns of income were not in sync with such deposits.

Impact on Widening of Tax-base

The number of e-returns of Individual taxpayers filed till 5th August, 2017 (due date of filing) increased to 2.79 crore from 2.22 crore returns filed during the corresponding period of last year, registering an increase of about 57 lakh returns (25.3%).

This shows marked improvement in the level of voluntary compliance as a result of action taken by the Income Tax Department on the basis of data of cash deposits in the wake of demonetization.

Impact on Direct Tax Collections

The effect of Demonetization is also clearly visible in the growth in Direct Tax Collections. Collection of Advance Tax under Personal Income Tax (i.e. other than Corporate Tax) as on 05.08.2017 showed a growth of about 41.79% over the corresponding period in F.Y. 2016-2017.


DBT’s Smart Agriculture Conclave sets the stage for FarmerZone: The future of agriculture

{Agriculture}


In News:

The Department of Biotechnology (DBT), under the Ministry of Science and Technology, convened the Smart Agriculture Conclave in New Delhi from August 29 – 31 2017, in partnership with the UK’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and Research Councils UK (RCUK) India.

FarmerZone platform

FarmerZone envisioned by the DBT aligns with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for effective decision-making in agriculture by integrating science, technology, innovation and farm ecosystem. This platform aims to cater all needs of farmer from dealing with climate change, weather predictions and soil, water and seed requirements.

It will connect farmers and scientists, government officials, economists and representatives from global companies who work in the big-data and e-commerce space to bring about technology-based localised agri-solutions. This platform will work to collect relevant quality data related to agriculture into the cloud and also develop sites to help link with farmers and evolve PPP based enterprises for data delivery.


National Nutrition Week to be observed from 1st to 7th September

{Health policy}


In News:

The National Nutrition Week will be observed throughout the country from 1st to 7th September.

The theme of the National Nutrition Week for 2017 is “Optimal Infant & Young Child Feeding Practices: Better Child Health“.

Objective

The basic objective of this annual event is to intensify awareness generation on the importance of nutrition for health which has an impact on development, productivity, economic growth and ultimately National development.

READ MORE: NATIONAL NUTRITION WEEK (1st September – 7th September)

Issue of nutrition

Nutrition is an issue of survival, health and development for current and succeeding generations. Child born underweight have impaired immune function and increased risk of diseases such as diabetes and heart diseases in their later life. Malnourished children tend to have lower IQ and impaired cognitive ability, thus affecting their school performance and then productivity in their later life. It has to be realized that the nutritional health and all age groups represent say National Economic Asset.

As, improving the nutritional status of the population is imperative for National Development. Under nutrition in young children continues to be a major public health problem in India. The NFHS4 has not shown an encouraging improvement in the nutritional status, especially among women and children. As per NFHS-4 the level of underweight has decreased by 6.8% and is stunting by 9.6%. Level of anaemia has decreased by 11% as compared to NNHS-3 figures.

Malnutrition is not to be viewed merely as an offshoot of poverty having adverse effects on health and development of individuals but as a national problem that results in loss of productivity and economic backwardness. Time has come to create a moment so as to improve nutrition at the individual level. Thus, series of convergent and well coordinated actions in different sectors are required to be undertaken in the mission mode approach to address this big network problem of malnutrition.


Swiss technology companies should take part in our initiatives like Make in India, start-up India, Swachh Bharat and skill India, says President

{International Relations}


Welcoming the Swiss President, the President said that Switzerland and India are natural partners. Switzerland is one of the oldest democracies and India is the largest democracy.

A Treaty of Friendship between India and Switzerland signed in New Delhi in August 1948 was one of the first treaties to be signed by independent India.

Relation between India and Switzerland

Switzerland is an important trade and investment partner for India. India is a preferred destination for FDI as it is the world’s fastest growing large economy.

India has made great progress on the ‘Ease of Doing Business’ and in creating a unified market through GST and other measures. Swiss companies are ideally positioned to take advantage. He invited Swiss technology companies to take part in initiatives like Make in India, Start-Up India, Swachh Bharat and Skill India.

India and Switzerland enter the 70th year of the Friendship and Establishment Treaty. Both India and Switzerland represent democratic and plural societies that believe in the principles of “respect for differences” and “unity in diversity”. Switzerland is India’s seventh largest trading partner and 11th largest foreign investor.

India and Switzerland can grow and diversify their trade, investment and technological exchanges. The two countries need to pursue even closer business partnerships in priority sectors such as precision and high technology manufacturing, infrastructure, skill development, renewable energy and clean-tech research. There is scope for creating partnerships between R&D labs and institutions.

Like Switzerland, India is committed to multilateralism. Yet, the multilateral order needs to undergo multiple transformations; namely- Reform and restructuring of the United Nations and other multilateral institutions; Tackling urgent challenges of international terrorism and radicalism, as well as of financial and cyber-crimes and of Internet governance; and Meeting pressing concerns of climate change and attaining the Sustainable Development Goals. India is keen to build synergies with Switzerland in all of these endeavours, while working within the framework of a rules-based multilateral system.


Environment Ministry launches environment awareness initiative, Prakriti Khoj, on Teachers’ Day

{Environment}


In News:

The Union Environment Ministry on 5 September 2017 launched an environment awareness initiative on the occasion of Teachers’ Day.

Under the initiative, an online environmental quiz competition named “Prakriti Khoj” will be conducted at the national level.

The Prakriti Khoj will be an ideal medium to reach out to young minds through a fun-filled interactive learning mode to trigger their sensitivity towards environment protection and conservation. This quiz will provide a unique platform for students to measure their awareness level regarding environmental issues.

Key highlights

  • As per the ministry, the objective of the quiz is to generate interest among school children about the science related to environment.
  • The quiz will help in sensitizing the children on the issues related to environment and development.
  • The initiative is to motivate children towards environment conservation-oriented lifestyles.
  • The initiative will also trigger their sensitivity towards nature appreciation and conservation, leading to positive environmental actions at different levels.
  • The quiz is planned in two phases.
  • For the first phase, it is envisaged that maximum number of children of schools under the National Green Corps (NGC) programme of the Ministry should get an opportunity to participate in this environmental quiz. Three age groups is planned to be covered in Phase-I, which will be open only to Eco-clubs i.e. in the age-groups 8-12 years, 13-15 years and 16-18 years. After this, based on the feedback received from the participants, the second phase of the quiz will be open to students from all schools across the country in the year 2018.
  • The mode of quiz will be online through multiple choice questions. Thematic areas like climate change, biodiversity, forest and wildlife, pollution, waste management, rivers and lakes, natural history, international conventions such as Convention on Biological Diversity, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora etc. have been chosen for the quiz.
  • A separate web portal, www.ngc.nic.in, containing information on the quiz has been developed by Ministry.
  • Dates of the quiz will be updated on the Prakriti Khoj portal, as well as the Ministry’s website.
  • The students from Eco-clubs specially registered on the portal will be able to participate in the qualification round from 18 September 2017 onwards.
  • Quiz will be organized in school premises under the supervision of Principals/Eco-club Coordinators.
  • There will be cash prizes for the winners. In addition, all participants will receive an E-certificate of participation, duly signed by Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

APEDA’s new progressive step: Hortinet

{Agriculture}


In news:

Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) has launched a new mobile appHortinetto apply for farm registration and approval by State Govt. & Lab Sampling.

About Hortinet:

Hortinet is an integrated traceability system developed by APEDA for providing Internet based electronic services to the stakeholders for facilitating farm registration, testing and certification of Grape, Pomegranate and Vegetables for export from India to the European Union in compliance with standards.

To harness the potential of mobile technology, APEDA has developed a mobile app to allow farmers to apply on-line to facilitate their farm registration, tracking the status of application & approvals by State Government and Lab sampling by authorized Laboratories.

This mobile app initiative is expected to increase the accessibility and reach of the Traceability software system among the farmers and other stakeholders.

Importance: 

This new Mobile app will also assist State Horticulture/ Agriculture Department to capture real time details of farmers, farm location, products and details of inspections like date of inspection, name of inspecting directly from field. After registration and approval of farm, farmer gets approval information.

The key features of the app:

  • Online Farm registration application and status tracking.
  • Processing and approval on on-line farmer applications by State Horticulture /Agriculture department.
  • Registration of farmers, farms and products by State Horticulture/Agriculture department.
  • Capture geo location of the farms registered through the app.
  • Sample collection by APEDA authorized Laboratories along with geo location of the sample.

CIPAM-DIPP launches social media campaign to promote Geographical Indications

{Economic Policy}


In News:

The Cell for IPR Promotions and Management (CIPAM) on 4 September 2017 launched a social media campaign to promote Indian Geographical Indications (GIs).

The CIPAM comes under the aegis of the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

The campaign will be promoted with #LetsTalkIP which is an ongoing movement initiated by CIPAM to make more people aware about the importance of Intellectual Property Rights.

The promotion of GIs is in line with the Government’s ‘Make in India’ campaign.

Importance of Indian Geographical Indications

  • A Geographical Indication is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin.
  • Such signs convey an assurance of quality and distinctiveness, which is essentially attributable to its origin in that defined geographical locality. Darjeeling Tea, Mahabaleshwar Strawberry, Blue Pottery of Jaipur, Banarasi Sarees and Tirupati Laddus are some of the GIs.
  • GIs are of utmost importance to the country as they are an integral part of India’s rich culture and collective intellectual heritage.
  • It is an area of strength and optimism for India, whereby the GI tag has accorded protection to a number of hand-made and manufactured products, especially in the informal sector.
  • Certain GI products can benefit the rural economy in remote areas, by supplementing the incomes of artisans, farmers, weavers and craftsmen.

Cell for IPR Promotion and Management (CIPAM)

Cell for IPR Promotion and Management (CIPAM) has been created as a professional body under the aegis of DIPP to take forward the implementation of the National IPR Policy that was approved by the Government in May 2016, with the slogan – “Creative India; Innovative India

CIPAM is working towards creating public awareness about IPRs in the country, promoting the filing of IPRs through facilitation, providing inventors with a platform to commercialize their IP assets and coordinating the implementation of the National IPR Policy in collaboration with Government Ministries/Departments and other stakeholders.


India despatches First Diesel Consignment to Myanmar

{International Relations}


Context:India Despatches First Diesel Consignment To Myanmar

Signifying the developing hydrocarbon commitment between India and Myanmar, the first consignment of 30 MT of High Speed Diesel was sent from India to Myanmar by land route.

Objective:

  • To enhance hydrocarbon synergy with neighbouring countries as well as promoting India’s Act East Policy. 

Key Points:

  • Numaligarh Refinery Ltd. (NRL), which has been supplying HSD to Bangladesh, despatched the first diesel consignment through NH 37 on to the Myanmar side.
  • In their effort to strengthen the oil and gas engagement, more Indian companies are planning to set up their offices in Myanmar soon. 

BRICS Xiamen Summary

Documents signed in the presence of BRICS Leaders during BRICS Summit – 2017 in Xiamen, China (September 04, 2017).

1-   BRICS Action Agenda on Economic and Trade Cooperation.

2-   BRICS Action Plan for Innovation Cooperation(2017-2020).

3-    Strategic Framework of BRICS Customs Cooperation.

4-   Memorandum of Understanding between the BRICS Business Council and the New Development Bank on Strategic Cooperation.

Theme

“BRICS: Stronger Partnership for a Brighter Future”.

We endeavor to build on our achievements already made with a shared vision for future development of BRICS.


India is keen to suppress international terrorism: Vice President

{Terrorism}


Context

  • The Vice President of India said that India is keen to see the decision of convention on the suppression of international terrorism, which is frightening world peace.
  • SAARC convention on the suppression of international terrorism as well as the Indian proposal to conclude a comprehensive convention on suppression of international terrorism is now under consideration of the UN.

Key Points

  • The Vice President said that India will not only create greater awareness on the prominence of international law but will also inspire young lawyers and students to specialize in this subject.
  • The concept of the rule of law has been practiced in India from times immemorial, “Dharmo Rakshati Rakshitah”, the Sanskrit sloka in Manu Smriti aptly sums up the basic Indian philosophy – the law will protect and defend those who protect and defend it.
  • India attaches huge importance to the implementation of international statutes and the rule of law and is a firm believer in promotion of peace and justice globally.

Way forward

  • India’s foreign policy is based on sovereign equality of States, non-intervention in the internal affairs of other States and peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with principles articulated in Article 33 of the United Nations.
  • Our country attaches high importance to bilateral negotiations in settling its differences and disputes with other nations on the basis of international law, justice and equity.

NITI Aayog calls renewed focus on Nutrition, launches the National Nutrition Strategy- “Kuposhan Mukt Bharat”

{Economic Policy}


To address this and to bring nutrition to the centre-stage of the National Development Agenda, NITI Aayog has drafted the National Nutrition Strategy.

Formulated through an extensive consultative process, the Strategy lays down a roadmap for effective action, among both implementers and practitioners, in achieving our nutrition objectives.

Background:

  • With a benefit to cost ratio of 16:1 for 40 low and middle-income countries, there is a well recognized rationale, globally, for investing in Nutrition.
  • The recently published NFHS-4 results reflect some progress, with a decline in the overall levels of under nutrition in both women and children. However, the pace of decline is far below what numerous countries with similar growth trajectories to India have achieved. Moreover, India pays an income penalty of 9% to 10% due to a workforce that was stunted during their childhood.

National Nutrition Strategy:

  • The nutrition strategy envisages a framework wherein the four proximate determinants of nutrition – uptake of health services, food, drinking water & sanitation and income & livelihoods – work together to accelerate decline of under nutrition in India.
  • Currently, there is also a lack of real time measurement of these determinants, which reduces our capacity for targeted action among the most vulnerable mothers and children.
  • Supply side challenges often overshadow the need to address behavioural change efforts to generate demand for nutrition services. This strategy, therefore, gives prominence to demand and community mobilisation as a key determinant to address India’s nutritional needs.
  • The Nutrition Strategy framework envisages a Kuposhan Mukt Bharat – linked to Swachh Bharat and Swasth Bharat.
  • The aim isensure that States create customized State/ District Action Plans to address local needs and challenges. This is especially relevant in view of enhanced resources available with the States, to prioritise focused interventions with a greater role for panchayats and urban local bodies.

The Code on Wages Bill 2017

{Development and Employment}


As part of labour law reforms, the Government has undertaken the exercise of rationalisation of the 38 Labour Acts by framing 4 labour codes viz Code on Wages, Code on Industrial Relations, Code on Social Security and Code on occupational safety, health and working conditions.

  1. The Code on Wages Bill 2017 has been introduced in Lok Sabha on 10.08.2017 and it subsumes 4 existing Laws, viz. the Minimum Wages Act, 1948; the Payment of Wages Act, 1936; the Payment of Bonus Act, 1965; and the Equal Remuneration Act, 1976. After the enactment of the Code on Wages, all these four Acts will get repealed. The Codification of the Labour Laws will remove the multiplicity of definitions and authorities leading to ease of compliance without compromising wage security and social security to the workers.
  2. At present, the provisions of the Minimum Wages Act and the Payment of Wages Act do not cover substantial number of workers, as the applicability of both these Acts is restricted to the Scheduled Employments / Establishments. However, the new Code on Wages will ensure minimum wages to one and all and timely payment of wages to all employees irrespective of the sector of employment without any wage ceiling.
  3. A concept of statutory National Minimum Wage for different geographical areas has been introduced. It will ensure that no State Government fixes the minimum wage below the National Minimum Wages for that particular area as notified by the Central Government.
  4. The proposed payment of wages through cheque or digital/ electronic mode would not only promote digitization but also extend wage and social security to the worker. Provision of an Appellate Authority has been made between the Claim Authority and the Judicial Forum which will lead to speedy, cheaper and efficient redressal of grievances and settlement of claims
  5. Penalties for different types of violations under this Code have been rationalized with the amount of fines varying as per the gravity of violations and repeat of the offences. Provision of compounding of offences has been made for those which are not punishable by a penalty of imprisonment.
  6. Recently, some news reports have been published regarding the fixation of minimum wage as Rs. 18000/- per month by the Central Government. It is clarified that the Central Government has not fixed or mentioned any amount as “national minimum wage” in the Code on Wages Bill 2017. The apprehension that minimum wage of Rs. 18000/- per month has been fixed for all employees is, thus incorrect, false and baseless. The minimum wages will vary from place to place depending upon skill required, arduousness of the work assigned and geographical location.
  7. Further, the Code on Wages Bill 2017, in the clause 9 (3), clearly states that the Central Government, before fixing the national minimum wage, may obtain the advice of the Central Advisory Board, having representatives from employers and employees. Therefore the Code provide for a consultative mechanism before determining the national minimum wage.
  8. Some reports have also been appearing in the media regarding the revised methodology for calculation of minimum wages by enhancing the units from three to six. It was purely a demand raised by Trade Unions in the recent meeting of the Central Advisory Board on Minimum Wages. However it is clarified that such proposal is not part of the Code on Wages Bill.

”Implement 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; Building Broader Partnerships for Development”- Intervention by Prime Minister at the BRICS Emerging Markets and Developing Countries Dialogue

{Sustainable Development}


SDGs to our own development programmes and scheme, both at the federal and state level

  • Two years since the adoption of UN’s 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals, the imperative of collaborative action to achieve the goals is even stronger.
  • Recently, India completed its first voluntary national review of SDGs. The bedrock of our development agenda lies in the notion of“SabkaSaath,SabkaVikaas” – that is: Collective Effort, Inclusive Growth.
  • To cite just one example, our three-pronged approach of providing a bank account to the unbanked, providing a biometric identity to all, and using innovative mobile governance solutions, has enabled Direct Benefit Transfers to almost 360 million people for the first time.

Noble commitments for global transformation:

  1. Creating a Safer World: by organized and coordinated action on at least three issues: Counter Terrorism, Cyber Security and Disaster Management;
  2. Creating a Greener World: by taking concerted action on countering Climate Change, through initiatives such as the International Solar Alliance;
  3. Creating an Enabled World: by sharing and deploying suitable technologies to enhance efficiency, economy and effectiveness;
  4. Creating an Inclusive World: by economic mainstreaming of our people including in the banking and financial system;
  5. Creating a Digital World: by bridging the digital divide within and outside our economies;
  6. Creating a Skilled World: by giving future-ready skills to millions of our youth;
  7. Creating a Healthier World: by cooperating in research and development to eradicate diseases, and enabling affordable healthcare for all;
  8. Creating an Equitable World: by providing equality of opportunity to all, particularly through gender equality;
  9. Creating a Connected World: by enabling free flow of goods, persons and services; and,
  10. Creating a Harmonious World: by promoting ideologies, practices, and heritage that are centered on peaceful coexistence and living in harmony with nature.

Through these agenda points, and action on them, we will be contributing directly to the welfare of the Global Community in addition to welfare of our own people. And in this, India stands ready as a willing and committed partner to enhance cooperation and support each other’s national effort.


Joint Press Statement on The India-Japan Annual Defence Ministerial Dialogue

{International Politics}


The Defence Minister of India Shri Arun Jaitley is on a bilateral visit to Japan at the invitation of the Defence Minister of Japan Mr Itsunori Onodera from 05 to 06 September 2017

Background:

  • The Ministers exchanged views and ideas with the aim to further strengthen defence and security cooperation under the framework of the “Japan-lndia Special Strategic and Global Partnership”.
  • They expressed satisfaction at the continued deepening and diversification of bilateral defence cooperation since the signing of the bilateral Memorandum on Defence Co-operation and Exchanges in September 2014 and the two Defence Framework agreements signed in December 2015.

India-pacific region:

  • The Ministers exchanged views on the current security situation in the Indo-Pacific region.
  • They condemned in the strongest terms North Korea’s nuclear test of 03 September 2017, which is in violation of its international obligations and commitments, including under relevant UNSC resolutions and called upon DPRK to cease such action which adversely impacts peace and stability of the region and beyond.
  • The Ministers noted that regular interactions at all levels, in particular the establishment of Staff Talks at the level of the three Services, have enhanced mutual understanding.

The Ministers underlined their intention to explore opportunities for enhancing exchanges and decided to promote cooperation in the following areas:-

  1. Institutionalised Dialogue and Visits.
  2. Exchanges between Japan Ground Self Defence Force and Indian Army
    • The Ministers welcomed the progress in the Army to Army Staff talks in November 2016 and agreed to develop active exchanges in the fields of PKO, Counter-Terrorism and Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR), as key areas of common interest for the two countries.
    • Japan Ground Self Defence Force (JGSDF) would invite Indian Armed Forces personnel to participate in the HADR exercise conducted by JGSDF as Observers.
    • In the context of enhanced co-operation between the two ground forces the Ministers decided to explore a joint field exercise in the field of counter-terrorism between the Indian Army and the JGSDF in 2018.
  3. Exchanges between Japan Maritime Self Defence Force and the Indian Navy.
  • The Ministers expressed satisfaction at the success of Japan-India-US Trilateral Maritime Exercise MALABAR 2017 in July 2017 and confirmed their intention to further deepen and advance the objectives of this Exercise. Minister Onodera expressed his intention to have state-of-the-art Japanese assets including P-1 to participate in the MALABAR 2018. Minister Jaitley welcomed this proposal.
  • The Ministers noted the importance of bilateral training interactions between Indian Navy and Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force (JMSDF). The two sides will consider inclusion of Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) training to expand cooperation.
  1. Exchanges between Japan Air Self Defence Force and Indian Air Force.
  • The Ministers welcomed the participation of Vice Chief of Staff, JASDF in “Aero India-2017” in February 2017.
  • They also welcomed the visit of Indian Air Force helicopter crews to JASDF’s Air Rescue Squadron in Hyakuri, expanding bilateral air-to-air exchanges in the domains of aviation safety and air crew exchanges.
  1. Education and Research exchanges
  2. Cooperation in Defence Equipment and Technology
  • The Ministers endorsed the importance of enhancing interaction between governments and defence industries of the two countries to encourage equipment collaboration including defence and dual-use technologies
  1. Cooperation in Defence Equipment and Technology
  • The Ministers endorsed the importance of enhancing interaction between governments and defence industries of the two countries to encourage equipment collaboration including defence and dual-use technologies.
  • They welcomed the constructive engagement between Acquisition, Technology and Logistic Agency (ATLA) and Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and agreed to commence the technical discussions for research collaboration in the areas of Unmanned Ground Vehicles and Robotics.

UJALA scheme launched in Melaka, Malaysia

{Public Policy}


In news:

Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), under Ministry of Power, Government of India has launched UJALA (Unnat Jyoti by Affordable Lighting for All) Scheme in the State of Melaka, Malaysia.

  • In due course of time, the successful Indian model of UJALA scheme has become a sought-after example for the different nations of the world and will now be implemented in Melaka to extend programme benefits to people of the region.
  • Under this scheme, each household in Melaka will get 10 high quality 9-watt LED bulbs at a cost of only RM 10, which is a special price and is almost half of what in begin offered in the market.
  • The distribution of these LED bulbs will take place from 28 numbers of Japerun in the region. These Japerun are a unique community welfare and engagement centers, which are situated across the Melakan State.
  • Under the extensive and ever-expanding idea of UJALA, Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) plans to distribute about 1 million 9W LED bulbs, which will replace 18W CFLs. The initiative will have the logistical assistance and facilitation support from Green Growth Asia, which is a not for profit organization.
  • These bulbs sent from India will be of leading brands and manufacturers like Osram, Philips along with other companies of repute.

Importance:

  • UJALA’s impact in Malaysia will bring about clean energy, contribute to climate change targets and save the already dwindling energy resources.
  • With a fairly large switch to LED bulbs, Melaka will be able to reduce carbon emissions by around 19,000 tonnes per year.
  • An innovative zero-subsidy model, this scheme will help reduce the subsidy burdens of the State Government.
  • The concept of energy efficiency has strongly overcome many bottlenecks and this adoption by a Malaysian State is yet another achievement towards furthering the idea of energy efficiency to conserve the resources, money and environment.

The UJALA programme:

  • The UJALA programme has been one of the prime achievements of Government of India in promoting and executing the concept of energy efficiency. A simple act of change of one light bulb to LED at South Block Prime Minister’s office in India heralded a movement in the entire country for considering the same change.
  • Prime Minister of India Sh. Narendra Modi on January 5, 2015 had launched the world’s largest and most extensive LED distribution programme, UJALA (Unnat Jyoti by Affordable Lighting for All).
  • In this initiative, the nodal organisation, EESL, had undertaken the task of setting up phase-wise LED distribution centers across the nation to provide people with affordable LED bulbs and energy efficient appliances.

Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) is a joint venture of NTPC Limited, Power Finance Corporation, Rural Electrification Corporation and POWERGRID.

Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) was set up under Ministry of Power (India) to facilitate implementation of energy efficiency projects.


Health Ministry launches two new contraceptives

{Health policy}


In news:

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has launched two new contraceptives, an injectable contraceptive MPA under the ‘Antara’ programme and a contraceptive pill, ‘Chhaya’, in the public health system to expand the basket of contraceptive choices to meet the emerging needs of couples.

The contraceptives, which are available for free in Medical Colleges and District Hospitals at present, have so far been launched in 10 states that includes Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Haryana, West Bengal, Odisha, Delhi and Goa.

To help improve the supply and distribution of contraceptives, the Ministry had recently launched a new software, Family Planning Logistics Management Information System (FP-LMIS), designed to provide robust information on the demand and distribution of contraceptives to health facilities and ASHAs.

Mission Parivar Vikas:

Mission Parivar Vikas, a central family planning initiative has also been launched by the Ministry. The key strategic focus of this initiative is on improving access to contraceptives through delivering assured services, ensuring commodity security and accelerating access to high quality family planning services.

  • The mission is being implemented in 146 high focus districts with the highest total fertility rates in the country. These districts are in the seven high focus, high Total Fertility Rates (TFR) states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Assam, which constitute 44% of the country’s population.
  • The main objective of the Mission Parivar Vikas family planning initiative is to bring down the Total Fertility Rate to 2.1 by the year 2025.

NITI Aayog constitutes Expert Task Force on Employment and Exports

{Economic Policy}


  • In a bid to provide a “major” thrust to job creation by enhancing India’s exports, the NITI Aayog has set up a task force to be headed by its Vice-Chairman Rajiv Kumar.
  • The task force, which includes government and private sector representatives, will submit its report by November.

The steps outlined by the taskforce to address this challenge of creating well-paid, formal sector jobs, include:

  • Proposing a comprehensive plan of action to generate employment and alleviate under-employment in both goods and services sectors and low wages by boosting India’s exports in key labour-intensive industries
  • Recommending sector-specific policy interventions in key employment sectors
  • Recommending measures to enhance trade in services with high employment potential
  • Identifying key macroeconomic factors constraining exports and suggesting methods to address these constraints
  • Assessing the effectiveness of existing schemes to promote exports
  • Addressing issues related to logistics, export credits and trade facilitation
  • Suggesting ways to enhance the availability of data on trade such that it is reliable, globally comparable and timely, particularly with respect to trade in services.

Background:

Incidentally, the “Three Years Action Agenda” unveiled by the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley recently had also stressed on creation of well-paid jobs by exploiting the potential in exports. The action agenda had also laid emphasis on creation of well-paid jobs by expanding the formal sector.

Way ahead:

  • While the Indian workforce has high aspirations, a majority of the workers are still employed in low-productivity, low-wage jobs in small, micro and own-account enterprises.
  • An urgent and sustained expansion of the organized sector is essential to address India’s unemployment and under-employment issue.
  • An important strategy is also to enable a shift towards more labour-intensive goods and services that are destined for exports. Given the importance of exports in generating jobs, India needs to create an environment in which globally competitive exporters can emerge and flourish.

International Literacy Day – 2017

{Education}


The 51st International Literacy Day is being celebrated on 8th September, 2017 and the theme announced by UNESCO is `Literacy in a digital world’.

Background:

  • The International Literacy Day is celebrated on 8th September every year throughout the world. On this day, in the year 1965 the World Congress of Ministers of Education met in Tehran for the first time to discuss the programme of education at the international level.
  • The UNESCO in its 14th Session in November, 1966, declared 8th September as the International Literacy Day. Since then, ILD is celebrated on 8th September every year by most of the member countries.
  • The key aspect of the observance of ILD is to mobilize public opinion in favour of struggle against illiteracy. ILD is a forum to disseminate information on literacy and raise the public awareness and the significance of literacy for individual and national development.

Literacy rate in India:

  • As per Educational Statistics for 2015-16, the literacy rate in India increased to 69.3% in 2011. In comparison to 2001, when the literacy rate was 61.0%, the improvement is decent.
  • A dramatic improvement is seen in the literacy rate of female population which improved from 47.8% in 2001 to 59.3% in 2011. Among males, the literacy rate has improved from 73.4% in 2001 to 78.8% in 2011.
  • Though the literacy rate has been on a upward trajectory in the past decade, the overall literacy rate in India is still lower than the global rate. Compared to the global youth literacy rate of 91%, India lags far behind with 69.3%.

Way ahead

  • The international community already has its eyes on 2030 with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and has aimed to “ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning” within its goals.

 

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