Press Information Bureau (PIB)- 15th February to 21st February, 2017

Press Information Bureau (PIB)- 15th Feb to 21st Feb, 2017 (PIB Weekly Compilation)


Cabinet approves Amending the Collection of Statistics Act, 2008

{Constitutional issues}, {Indian Economy}

Source: PIB

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister has approved a proposal to introduce a Bill in Parliament to extend the jurisdiction of the Collection of Statistics Act, 2008 to Jammu & Kashmir on statistics relevant to any matters under any of the entries specified in the List-I (Union List) and the List- III (Concurrent List) in the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution, as applicable to Jammu & Kashmir under the Constitution (Application to Jammu & Kashmir) Order, 1954.

The Amendment will strengthen data collection mechanism in the State of Jammu & Kashmir.

The Amendment will:

  • Provide for extending the jurisdiction of the Act to Jammu & Kashmir State in respect of matters not reserved for the State as per the Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order 1954;
  • Provide for appointing a nodal officer at the Centre and in each State/Union Territory to effectively coordinate data collection activities and provide consultation to Government Departments for avoiding unnecessary duplication, etc.


  • The Collection of Statistics Act, 2008 was enacted to facilitate the collection of statistics on economics, demographic, social, scientific and environmental aspects etc.
  • The Act extends to the whole of India, except Jammu & Kashmir.
  • The Jammu & Kashmir State legislature enacted the Jammu & Kashmir Collection of Statistics Act, 2010, which extends to the whole of the State of Jammu & Kashmir and is almost a replica of the central legislation.
  • The Collection of Statistics Act, 2008 and the Jammu & Kashmir Collection of Statistics Act, 2010 are not applicable to statistical subjects falling in the Union List, as applicable to the Jammu & Kashmir under the Constitution (Application to Jammu & Kashmir) Order 1954.
  • This has created a legislative vacuum. Moreover, the concurrent jurisdiction to be exercised by the Centre in Jammu & Kashmir has also not been provided for, in the Collection of Statistics Act, 2008. The amendment is intended to address this vacuum.

Kayakalp awards


{Health issue}

Source: PIB

Kayakalp awards felicitate Public Health Facilities for maintaining high standards of sanitation and hygiene.

  • The Health Minister also informed that to complement and leverage the efforts and achievements made so far, MOHFW have launched a joint initiative with the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation- Swachh Swasth Sarvatra.
  • Under this initiative Community Health Centres (CHCs) in Open Defecation Free (ODF) blocks will be supported to achieve Kayakalp certification and Gram Panchayat of Kayakalp Primary Health Centres (PHCs) will be prioritized to become ODF.
  • Improved sanitation practices of the community are expected to complement the high level of sanitation and hygiene in the health care facility, and consequently reduce the disease burden related to water borne diseases.

Cabinet approves acquisition of subsidiary banks of State Bank of India (Not by RBI)

{Banking Sector}

Source: PIB

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister has approved the merger of State Bank of India (SBI) with five of its associate/subsidiary banks.

  • These five subsidiary banks are State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur, State Bank of Hyderabad, State Bank of Mysore, State Bank of Patiala and State Bank of Travancore.
  • The Union Cabinet also approved the introduction of a Bill in Parliament to repeal the State Bank of India (Subsidiary Banks) Act, 1959 and the State Bank of Hyderabad Act, 1956.

Key Facts

  • The acquisition under Section 35 of the SBI Act, 1955 will result in the creation of a stronger merged entity.
  • It will minimize vulnerability faced by subsidiary banks to any geographic concentration risks.
  • It will improve operational efficiency and economies of scale resulting into in improved risk management and unified treasury operations.
  • Existing customers of associate banks will benefit from SBI’s global network.
  • The merger will lead to better management of high value credit exposuresthrough focused monitoring and control over cash flows rather than separate monitoring by six different banks.
  • The merger will also result in recurring savings, estimated at more than Rs. 1,000 crore in first year, because of reduced cost of funds and enhanced operational efficiency.


  • The acquisition of subsidiary banks of SBI is considered an important step towards strengthening the banking sector through consolidation of public sector banks (PSBs).
  • It is in pursuance of the Indradhanush action plan of the Central Government.
  • In 2015, SBI was ranked 52 in the world in terms of assets, however the merger will allow its entry un top 50. The merger does not include Bharatiya Mahila Bank (BMB) and its proposal is still under consideration.

What are the Drawbacks?

  • The employees are worried that their promotion prospects may be hampered due to curtailment of seniority. Further, rationalisation of branches due to overlap may lead to their relocation.
  • Immediate negative impact would be from pension liability provisions (due to different employee benefit structures).
  • With this merger, it is expected that the management will bear critical challenges related to staff integration and rationalisation of branches.
  • The whole process has faced resistance from employee unions, who were fearful of losing their jobs.

Cabinet approves Establishment of Food Legumes Research Platform (FLRP) by International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA)


Source: PIB

FLRP at Amlaha, Sehore, Madhya Pradesh with Satellite Hubs in West Bengal and Rajasthan.

  • Authorizing the Department of Agricultural Research (DARE) on behalf of Government of India in all matters regarding establishment of the Platform.
  • Authorizing the Ministry of Agriculture to carry out technical modifications in the Supplementary Agreement signed between ICAR and ICARDA relating to establishment of FLRP, if required.

Food Legumes Research Platform:

The establishment of FLRP in India will enable India to harness the best of international science in meeting the emerging food security challenges.

  • India would be able to rapidly and effectively absorb the research output achieved in the country by FLRP. A major international R&D institution will make India an even bigger center for agricultural research in the world and this in turn, will attract further research & development investment in the country.

Key facts:

  • ICARDA has a good track record of innovation, as in climate resilient technologies including suitable food legume varieties for dry-land production systems.
  • ICARDA will carry out research through a multi-disciplinary team of scientists for enhancing productivity of crops range-land and livestock.
  • This platform will contribute significantly towards reducing poverty, improving food security, improving nutrition and health, and sustaining the naturalresource base.

The research output would benefit farmers of all regions, whether big, small or marginal; and as technologies developed would be eligible for use by all farmers, the project is equitable and inclusive.

International Centre for Agriculture Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA)

  • ICARDA is a non-profit agricultural research for development institute that aims to improve the livelihoods of the resource-poor across the world’s dry areas.
  • It was established in 1977. Its research activities include the development of new crop varieties, conservation agriculture, water harvesting, diversification of production systems, integrated crop/livestock production systems, and empower rural women.
  • ICARDA has a good track record of innovation, including in climate resilient technologies such as suitable food legume varieties for dry-land production systems.

NRAI gets highest WHO ratings for vaccine regulations

{Health issue}

Source: PIB

India’s vaccine regulatory body NRAI (National Regulatory Authority of India) was given the maximum ratings by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for vaccine regulations.

The ratings were given by WHO after completing the assessment of the status of the NRAI system against WHO NRA Global Benchmarking Tool and measured the maturity of the system in India.

Need for assessment

  • India is one of the main players in the pharmaceutical industry worldwide and often is referred as pharmacy of the world.
  • India, as a large vaccine producing country, is currently supplying several vaccines to the United Nations agencies (UNICEF, WHO and PAHO).
  • A fully functional NRAI is a pre-requisite for WHO prequalification of vaccines.
  • One of the requirements to become eligible and retain prequalification status is to get assessed.

Key Facts

  • The assessment was done in respect of 9 different functionalities by a WHO team comprising lead experts in different areas from WHO Headquarters Geneva, WHO India Country Office, experts from several countries.
  • Based on it, NRAI was declared functional with a maturity level of 4 which is highest level as per currently evolved definitions in respect of 5 functions, and maturity level 3 in respect of 4 functions.
  • Maturity level 4 indicates good results and sustained improvement trends, while level 3 reflects systematic process based approach, early stage of systematic improvements, data availability regarding conformance to objectives and existence of improvement trends.
  • The result reflects growing maturity of NRAI emanating from a concerted effort by Government in consultation with WHO to build capacity and capability of NRAI over last several years.

National Regulatory Authority of India (NRAI)

NRAI comprises the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO), State Drug Regulatory Authorities, Adverse Events Following Immunization (AEFI) and Pharmaco-vigilance Programme of India (PvPI) structures at the Central and States levels.

Telecom Exports from India to be the focus of ASEAN-India Digital Partnership

{International Relations}

Source: PIB

“India Telecom 2017: An Exclusive International Business Expo”

To commemorate the 25th year of the ASEAN India relations, TEPC (Telecom Equipment and Services Export Promotion Council) is organizing an inter-ministerial meeting between telecom ministers of ASEAN countries and India in New Delhi.

Key facts:

  • Indian Government has expressed keen interest to partner with ASEAN countries in enabling Digital Connectivity between India and ASEAN region and also for enabling broadband within ASEAN countries.
  • These digital connectivity projects are of strategic importance and can have a transformative impact on the economy and cooperation between ASEAN and India.
  • India has committed to provide financial as well as technological support for projects that could include-high-speed fiber optic networks, digital villages, rural broadband, national knowledge network, secured communication networks and telecom training and skill development.
  • Indian companies who have created world-class products and solutions, which are not only of the highest quality and are also very cost-competitive, are keen to export to customers in ASEAN region, who have similar requirements like India.

The main objective of the event is to provide opportunities to Indian telecom exporters including SMEs and Startups to meet qualified overseas buyers. This event provides one to one meeting opportunities between buyers from different countries and Indian exporters who can enlighten them about their products and technology solutions.

INSV Tarini Inducted


Source: PIB

The Indian Navy’s second ocean going sailboat Tarini was inducted, in presence of host of dignitaries at a glittering ceremony at INS Mandovi Boat Pool.

Key facts:

  • The sail boat Tarini is being inducted into the Navy and is slated to be the platform for First Indian All Women Circumnavigation of the Globe expedition of the Indian Navy.
  • INSV Tarini is a sloop built by M/s Aquarius Shipyard Pvt Ltd at Divar, Goa.
  • Indian Navy will is operating four sailing vessels capable of open ocean deployments, that is, Tarangini, Sudarshini, Mhadei and Tarini, all four of which have been built in shipyards at Goa. Indian Navy is attempting to revitalise open ocean sailing and will also be inducting four 40 feet, state of the art open ocean racing sail boats.

MoU signed for welfare of Handicraft Artisans belonging to Scheduled Castes

{Development and Employment}

Source: PIB

The Union Ministry of Textiles and Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment have signed MoU to step up interventions for the welfare and economic development of scheduled caste artisans.

The MoU was signed between Development Commissioner (Handicrafts), Ministry of Textiles and National Scheduled Castes Finance and Development Corporation (NSFDC), a CPSU under Ministry of Social Justice.

The MoU aims

  • Continuous and extensive collaboration between NSFDC and Office of DC (Handicrafts).
  • Assessment and gap identification through popularising various schemes by holding awareness camps.
  • Extensive skill upgradation in the identified clusters having dominant presence of SC artisans, in the field of innovative and market-friendly designs and adoption of modern tools and techniques
  • Enhancing participation of SC artisans and their producer groups in domestic and international marketing events.
  • Providing working capital credit for SC artisans at concessional rates, by combining benefits provided by both ministers.
  • Working capital credit for Scheduled Caste artisans at concessional rates, by combining the benefits provided by Ministry of Textiles and Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.

Government launches SAATHIYA Resource Kit and SAATHIYA SALAH mobile app for adolescents


Source: PIB

The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has launched SAATHIYA Resource Kit and SAATHIYA SALAH mobile app for adolescents as part of the Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram (RKSK) programme.

  • The kit and app will help Peer Educators (Saathiyas) who are introduced under the RKSK programme.
  • The Saathiyas act as catalyst for generating demand for adolescent health services and also impart age appropriate knowledge on key adolescent health issues to their peer groups.

India is home to 253 million adolescents which is largest in the world in terms of absolute numbers.  Their health and wellness is utmost priority as they are the critical mass of asset which in future will be the biggest demographic dividends to the country’s economy.

Key Facts

The Resource Kit has been developed by United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Population Foundation of India (PFI).

The kit comprises

  1. i) Activity Book, ii) Bhranti-Kranti Game iii) Question-Answer Book and iv) Peer Educator Diary.
  • It has been designed to present the Peer Educators with key information on adolescent health, which would then enable them to communicate the same and help the adolescents at the grass root/village level’.
  • In addition, the mobile app ‘Saathiya Salah’ acts as cost-effective information platform for the adolescents.
  • It also has feature of toll-free Saathiya Helpline which will act as an e-counselor.

Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram (RKSK) programme

  • RKSK programme was launched by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in January 2014 with an aim to cater and address health and development needs of the country’s adolescents.
  • It introduces community-based interventions through peer educators (Saathiyas), and is underpinned by collaborations with other ministries and state governments.

RKSK identifies six strategic priorities for adolescents:

(i) nutrition, (ii) sexual and reproductive health (SRH), (iii) non-communicable diseases (NCDs), (iv) substance misuse, (v) injuries and violence (including gender-based violence) and (vi) mental health.

  • To guide the implementation of this programme, the ministry in collaboration with UNFPA has developed a National Adolescent Health Strategy.
  • Target Groups: The strategy focuses on age groups 10-14 years and 15-19 years with universal coverage. It covers males and females in school and out of school, in urban and rural, married and unmarried and vulnerable and under-served.

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