Press Information Bureau (PIB)- 16th April to 22nd April, 2017

Press Information Bureau (PIB)- 16th April to 22nd April, 2017 (PIB Weekly Compilation)


Archive



Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan – Ministry of Human Resource Development

{Education}


Source: PIB

The Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA), under the aegis of the Ministry of Human Resource Development, is going to launch its own portal and mobile app by Union HRD Minister.

The portal is a one-stop for States’ Higher Education Plans, decision of the States’ Higher Education Councils and details of the resources under this scheme. Also, the gallery is a rich repository of the projects initiated under RUSA.

Key facts:

  1. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved the Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA), a Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS) for reforming the state higher education system.
  2. During the 12th Plan period, new universities would be created by converting autonomous colleges/colleges in a cluster to State universities
  3. RUSA will be a new Centrally Sponsored Scheme spread over two plan periods, for improving access, equity and quality in the state higher education system. With over 96 percent of students enrolled in the state higher education system, there is a need for State colleges and universities to be strengthened through strategic Central funding and implementing certain much needed reforms. RUSA also aims to incentivize States to step up plan investments in higher education.

The important objectives of the scheme are:

  • Improving the overall quality of existing state higher educational institutions by ensuring conformity to prescribed norms and standards and adoption of accreditation as a mandatory quality assurance framework.
  • Correct regional imbalances in access to higher education through high quality institutions in rural and semi urban areas as well as creating opportunities for students from rural areas to get access to better quality institutions.
  • Setting up of higher education institutions in unserved and underserved areas.
  • Improve equity in higher education by providing adequate opportunities to socially deprived communities; promote inclusion of women, minorities, SC/ST and OBCs as well as differently abled persons.
  • Ensure adequate availability of quality faculty in all higher educational institutions and ensure capacity building at all levels.
  • Create an enabling atmosphere in higher educational institutions to devote themselves to research and innovation.
  • Integrate skill developments efforts of the government with the conventional higher education system through optimum interventions.
  • All funding under RUSA would be norm based and future grants would be performance based and outcome dependent. Commitment by States and institutions to certain academic, administrative and governance reforms will be a precondition for receiving funding.

Background:

The National Development Council (NDC) approved RUSA as part of the 12th Plan. It was subsequently included in the list of 66 schemes approved by the Cabinet on 20th June 2013, as part of the restructured CSSs for implementation in the 12th Plan.


Cabinet gives approval for introduction of Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-third Amendment) Bill 2017 and (ii) National Commission for Backward Classes (Repeal) Bill, 2017 in the Parliament

{Rights Issues}


Source: PIB

Approval also granted for retention of posts and office premises for the proposed new National Commission for Backward Classes

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister

  • Ex-post facto approval for introduction of (i) Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-third Amendment) Bill 2017 and (ii) National Commission for Backward Classes (Repeal) Bill, 2017 in the Parliament; and
  • Approval for retention of posts/incumbents and office premises held by the existing National Commission for Backward Classes by the proposed new National Commission for Backward Classes.

The approval is for the proposal to bring about a Constitutional Amendment namely the Constitution (One Hundred Twenty-third Amendment) Bill, 2017 by

  1. (a) Constitution of a Commission under Article 338B for socially and educationally backward classes by name of National Commission for Backward Classes; and

(b) Insertion of Clause (26C) under Article 366 with modified definition viz. “socially and educationally backward classes” means such backward classes as are so deemed under Article 342A for the purpose, this Constitution and

2.Introduce a Bill for:

(a) Repeal of the National Commission for Backward Classes Act, 1993 along with Savings Clause for namely the National Commission for Backward Classes (Repeal) Bill, 2017; and

(b) Dissolution of the National Commission for Backward Classes with effect from such date as the Central Government may appoint in this behalf and the National Commission for Backward Classes constituted under sub-section (1) of Section 3 of the said Act shall stand dissolved.

  1. (a) Appropriation of the sanctioned 52 posts, along with incumbents wherever filled of the existing National Commission for Backward Classes in the proposed National Commission for Backward Classes to be constituted under Article 338B; and

(b) Retention of the office premises of the existing National Commission for Backward Classes at Trikut-1, Bhikaiji Cama Place, New Delhi-110066, by the National Commission for Backward Classes to be constituted under Article 338B.

  • The above decisions will lead to overall welfare of socially and educationally backward classes.
  • The proposed Act of repeal is necessary in view of setting up of the National Commission for Backward Classes by insertion of Article 338B of the Constitution.
  • The decision will also enable effecting continuity in the functioning of the National Commission for Backward Classes under Article 338B.

Cabinet approves permission to avail external assistance by State Government entities from bilateral agencies

{Public Policy}


Source: PIB

The Union Cabinet has approved the policy guidelines to allow financially sound State Government entities to borrow directly from bilateral ODA (Official development Assistance) partners for implementation of vital infrastructure projects.

Key facts:

  • The guidelines will facilitate the State Government entities to directly borrow from the external bilateral funding agencies subject to fulfilment of certain conditions and all repayments of loans and interests to the funding agencies will be directly remitted by the concerned borrower.
  • The concerned State Government will furnish guarantee for the Loan. The Government of India will provide counter guarantee for the loan.

 Significance of this move:

  • Several State agencies are implementing major infrastructure projects of national importance. These projects, even if viable and sound, have huge funding requirements and borrowing by the State Governments for such projects may exhaust their respective borrowing limits.
  • Therefore, in order to accelerate the pace of investment in major infrastructure projects in the country without compromising the need for external assistance for other sectors, this enabling provision in the existing guidelines was considered necessary to facilitate direct borrowing by the State Government entities from bilateral external agencies.

Presently, external development assistance from bilateral and multilateral sources is received by the Government of India:

  • For projects/programmes in the Central sector.
  • For projects executed by Central Public Sector Undertakings.
  • On behalf of the State Governments for State sector projects/programmes to be implemented by the State Governments and/or local bodies and public sector undertakings.
  • The existing guidelines do not allow direct borrowings by the State Government entities from external agencies.

Legal Aid and Empowerment initiatives

{Social Justice}


Source: PIB

Three key legal aid and empowerment initiatives of the Department of Justice were recently launched. These initiatives are aimed at fulfilling the department’s core mandate of enhancing ‘access to justice’ for the poor and vulnerable communities, including making accessible quality and effective legal aid for them.

 Pro bono legal Services:

  • The ‘Pro bono legal services’ initiative is a web based platform, through which interested lawyers can register themselves to volunteer pro bono services for the underprivileged litigants, who are unable to afford it.
  • The Department of Justice has launched the online application for this initiative on its website doj.gov.in. Through this online portal, litigants from marginalised communities (including members of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, women, children, senior citizens, persons with low income and persons with disabilities) can also apply for legal aid and advice from the pro bono lawyers.
  • This is aimed at fulfilling the mandate of quality legal aid for all.

 Tele Law: Mainstreaming Legal Aid through Common Service Centre:

  • Through this initiative, the Department of Justice and NALSA are partnering with CSC- E- Governance Service Limited for mainstreaming legal aid to the marginalized communities through the Common Service Centers (CSCs).
  • This initiative is aimed at facilitating delivery of legal advice through an expert panel of lawyers – stationed at the State Legal Services Authorities (SLSA). The project would connect lawyers with clients through video conferencing facilities at CSCs, operated by para legal volunteers. For this purpose, this initiative would also play a pivotal role in empowering 1000 women para legal volunteers.
  • Using CSCs for mainstreaming legal aid services for the marginalized at the panchayat levels would ensure that legal aid reaches populations which remained untouched due to geographical challenges and/or lack of infrastructure.
  • The project would be launched across 1800 panchayats in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, North Eastern States and Jammu & Kashmir.

District Facilitation Centre to reduce pendency: Engagement of Nyaya Mitra:

  • Nyaya Mitra scheme is aimed at reducing pendency of cases across selected districts, with special focus on those pending for more than 10 years.
  • Functionalized through a retired judicial or executive officer (with legal experience) designated as the ‘Nyaya Mitra’, the project would be operated out of District Facilitation Centres, housed in CSCs.
  • Nyaya Mitra’s responsibilities would include among others assistance to litigants who are suffering due to delay in investigations or trial, by actively identifying such cases through the National Judicial Data Grid, providing legal advice and connecting litigants to DLSA, CSC Tele Law, other government agencies and civil society organisations. He/she shall also refer the marginalized applicants to Lok Adalats for dispute resolution and render assistance towards prison reforms within the district, in coordination with the district judiciary and other stakeholders.
  • This initiative would be launched in 227 districts including 27 districts from North East and Jammu & Kashmir and 200 districts from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Odisha, Gujarat, West Bengal etc. and would be operated out of CSCs.

Inter-Ministerial Delegation to Participate in Basel, Rotterdam, Stockholm Conventions in Geneva

{Climate Change}


Source: PIB

An inter-ministerial Indian delegation headed by the Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, has left to participate in the 2017 Conference of Parties (COPs) to the Basel, Rotterdam, Stockholm (BRS) Conventions.

  • The theme of the meetings and the high-level segment will be – “A future detoxified: sound management of chemicals and waste “.
  • Meetings of the COPs of BRS Conventions are generally held every alternate year. India has participated in the earlier meetings of the COPs of the BRS Conventions. Previously, COP 12 of Basel Convention and COP 7 meetings of Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions were held in Geneva, Switzerland in May 2015.

Key facts:

  • Conference of Parties (COPs) to the BRS Convention include – the 13th meeting of the Conference of Parties to “Basel Convention (BC COP 13); the 8th meeting of the Conference of Parties to “Rotterdam Convention (RC COP 8) and 8th meeting of the Conference of Parties to “Stockholm Convention (SC COP 8).
  • While the Basel Convention will discuss the control of transboundary movements of hazardous wastes and their disposal, the Rotterdam Convention will deliberate on the prior informed consent procedure for certain hazardous chemicals and pesticides in international trade” and the Stockholm Convention is on persistent organic pollutants (POPs)”.
  • The most important matters to be deliberated during COPs include – listing of chemicals under Rotterdam and Stockholm Convention may have an impact on industrial growth. The inclusion of chemicals under Rotterdam Convention does not ban the chemical. However, importing countries need to follow the PIC procedure.

Agenda of the meetings:

  • The agenda of the 2017 BRS COPs meetings cover a wide gamut of issues including – technical guidelines on transboundary movements of electrical and electronic waste and used electrical and electronic equipment;
  • Technical guidelines for environmentally sound management of wastes, consisting of, containing or contaminated with low persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in Basel Convention, national reporting, capacity building and technical assistance;
  • Listing of chemicals viz chrysotile asbestos, paraquat dichloride, fenthion, trichlorfon, short chain chlorinated paraffins, tributyltin compounds, carbofuran and carbosulfan under Annex III to the Rotterdam Convention and listing of chemicals viz short chain chlorinated paraffins, decabromodiphenyl ether and Hexachlorobutadiene under Annex A, B, and C to the Stockholm Convention.

BRS Conventions – Brief Background:

  • The Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm (BRS) Conventions are multilateral environmental agreements, which share the common objective of protecting human health and the environment from hazardous chemicals and wastes.
  • To enhance cooperation and coordination among the BRS Conventions, their respective conferences of the Parties have taken a series of decisions. This “synergies process” aims to strengthen the implementation of the three conventions at the national, regional and global levels by providing coherent policy guidance, enhancing efficiency in the provision of support to Parties to the Conventions, reducing their administrative burden and maximising the effective and efficient use of resources at all levels, while maintaining the legal autonomy of these three multilateral environmental agreements.
  • In addition to initiating reforms to the secretariats of the three Conventions on an administrative as well as operational level, this process is changing the way in which the implementation of the Conventions are undertaken at the national and regional levels.
  • Parties to the Conventions and entities supporting countries in the implementation of the Conventions, such as regional centres, intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations, also undertake efforts to increase coherence in the implementation of the Conventions.

“Quality Mark” Award Scheme for Dairy Cooperatives initiated by NDDB

{Development and Employment}


Source: PIB

As part of the innovative initiatives under the “White Revolution” umbrella Schemes, the Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries has supported the National Dairy Development Board(NDDB) developed initiative of “Quality Mark” Award Scheme for dairy Cooperatives to promote and encourage enhancement of safety, quality and hygiene of milk and milk products manufactured by dairy cooperatives.

Aim of the scheme: It is aimed at bringing about process improvement in the entire value chain from producer to the consumer to ensure availability of safe and quality of milk and products both for the domestic and foreign market.

Key facts:

  • The Quality Mark” Award Scheme for dairy Cooperatives in the country has been initiated to instill confidence in the consumers for the quality of milk being marketed by them by ensuring availability of safe and good quality milk and milk products.
  • The initiative does not propose any new/ additional system for Food Safety and Quality Management but lays down minimum standards against each link of the processes required for ensuring quality and safety

India and Republic of Korea sign Inter-Governmental MOU for Defence Industry Co-Operation in Shipbuilding

{International Relations} 


Source: PIB

India and the Republic of Korea (RoK) have signed an Inter-governmental Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for Defence Industry Co-operation in Shipbuilding.

The Inter-Governmental MoU, was conceived under the overall umbrella of the ‘Special Strategic Partnership’ between both sides as declared in the Joint Statement of the Prime Minister of India and the President of RoK in May 2015.

Important points

  • Develop and strengthen defence industry co-operation between Republic of India and the Republic of Korea.
  • The two sides will recommend the organisations for collaborating in the implementation of specific projects.
  • The organisations recommended for co-operative projects may conclude separate agreements (contracts) between them to implement the specific projects.
  • The MoU will come into effect from the date of signature by both sides and will be initially valid for a period of five years and would be automatically extendable for further successive five year at a time.

One Crore MGNREGA assets geotagged

{Public Policy}


Source: PIB

Mahatma Gandhi NREGS has reached a new milestone by geotagging one Crore assets and putting them in public domain.

The geotagging exercise started from 1st September, 2016. One Crore assets have been geotagged and put in public domain in the last seven months. It is expected that the exercise will lead to greater transparency and ensure accountability at field level.

Key facts:

  • The scale of rural assets created under MGNREGA is very large.
  • Since the inception of the programme in financial year 2006-07, about 2.82 Crore assets have been created under the programme.
  • On an average, about 30 Lakh Assets are created annually which includes a variety of works such as water harvesting structures, plantations, rural infrastructure, flood control measures, individual assets for sustainable livelihood, community infrastructure and so on.

Geotagging

Geotagging is the process of adding geographical information to various media in the form of metadata. The data usually consists of coordinates like latitude and longitude, but may even include bearing, altitude, distance and place names.

Background:

  • GeoMGNREGA is a unique endeavor of the Ministry of Rural Development in association with National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC), ISRO and National Informatics Centre.
  • A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by Ministry of Rural Development with NRSC in June 2016 for geo-tagging the assets created under MGNREGS in each gram panchayat. Strength of Space technology has been leveraged.
  • Pursuant to the signing of MoU, training manuals were developed in consultation with NRSC. Training was imparted to around 2.76 Lakh personnel across the country with the help of National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj (NIRD&PR).

Indian Navy test-fires land attack version of BrahMos missile

{Science and Technology}


Source: PIB

Indian Navy recently successfully test fired BrahMos Land Attack Supersonic Cruise Missile from a ship.

This variant of Long Range BrahMos Missile was fired from Indian Naval Ship Teg, a Guided Missile Frigate, on a target on land.

Key facts:

  • BrahMos Missile has been jointly developed by India and Russia, and its Anti Ship variant has already been inducted into Indian Navy.
  • Land Attack variant of BrahMos Missile provides Indian Naval Ships the capability to precisely neutralise selected targets deep inland, far away from coast, from stand-off ranges at sea.
  • The missile has a range of 400km.

Background:

The technology upgrade to the extended range BrahMos has come after India gained entry into the 34-nation Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) in June 2016, which “removed the caps” on the missile’s range. The MTCR basically prevents the proliferation of missiles and UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) over the range of 300-km.


Earth Day- April 22

{Environment}


Source: PIB

Earth Day 2017 is being celebrated around the world today (April 22).

  • This year’s campaign is dedicated to an ambitious goal – to achieve global climate and environmental literacy in the space of three years, by Earth Day 2020.
  • Earth Day was first celebrated in 1970. The idea for it was first proposed at a UNESCO conference a year earlier, when activist John McConnell suggested a day to honour the planet and the idea of peace. US senator Gaylord Nelson founded Earth Day in the US. It was made into an international day in 1990 and now is celebrated by over 193 countries every year.

The aim of the day is to bring attention to environmental issues to spark changes that will result in a healthy, sustainable environment. This includes addressing climate change and finding ways to protect the planet for future generations.



 

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