Press Information Bureau (PIB)-22nd March to 31st March , 2017

Press Information Bureau (PIB)- 22nd March to 31st March, 2017 (PIB Weekly Compilation)


Archive



Cabinet approves of proposal to establish a Fund of Fund for Start-ups (FFS)

{Economic Development}


Source: PIB

The Union Cabinet has approved the following proposals with regard to the Fund of Funds of Start-ups (FFS) which was established in June, last year with a corpus of Rs. 1,000 crores.fund for start up fund

  • Alternate Investment Funds (AIFs) supported by FFS shall invest at least twice the amount of contribution received from FFS in Start-ups. Further, if the amount committed for a Start-up in whole has not been released before a Start-up ceases to be so, the balance funding can continue thereafter.
  • It was also decided that operating expenses for carrying out due diligence, legal and technical appraisal, convening meeting of Venture Capital Investment Committee, etc. would be met out of the FFS to the extent of 0.50% of the commitments made to AIFs and outstanding. This will be debited to the fund at the beginning of each half year; i.e. April 1 and October 1.

FFS:

  • The FFS is being managed and operated by Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI). FFS contributes to SEBI registered Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs) that may go up to a maximum of 35% of the corpus of the AIF concerned.
  • The Union Cabinet in 2016 had approved the proposal to establish a Fund of Funds for Start-ups (FFS) with a total corpus of Rs.10000 crore, with contribution spread over the 14th & 15th Finance Commission cycles based on progress of implementation and availability of funds.
  • It was decided that the FFS shall contribute to the corpus of Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs) for investing in equity and equity linked instruments of various start-ups at early stage, seed stage and growth stages.
  • The Cabinet has decided that the corpus of Fund of Funds along with counterpart funds raised by the AIFs in which FFS takes equity would be invested entirely in Start-ups.

Cabinet approves proposal for Amendments to the NABARD Act, 1981

{Economic Development} 


Source: PIB

Amendments to National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development Act, 1981 as proposed in the draft Bill with such changes of drafting and of consequential nature, as may be considered necessary by Legislative Department.

  • The Amendments, include provisions that enable Central Government to increase the authorized capital of NABARD from Rs. 5,000 crore to   30,000 crore and to increase it beyond Rs. 30,000 crore in consultation with RBI, as deemed necessary from time to time.
  • Transfer of 0.4 per cent. equity of RBI in NABARD amounting to Rs. 20 crores to the Government of India.

Key facts

  • The proposed amendments in NABARD Act, include, certain other amendments including changes in long title and certain Sections to bring Medium Enterprises and Handlooms in NABARD’s mandate.
  • The proposed increase in the authorized capital would enable NABARD to respond to the commitments it has undertaken, particularly in respect of the Long Term Irrigation Fund and the recent Cabinet decision regarding on-lending to cooperative banks.
  • Further, it will enable NABARD to augment its business and enhance its activities which would facilitate promotion of integrated rural development and securing prosperity of rural areas including generation of more employment.
  • The transfer of entire shareholding in NABARD held by RBI to the Central Government will remove the conflict in RBI’s role as banking regulator and shareholder in NABARD.

Financial incentives for Startup companies

{Economic Development}


Source: PIB

  • The Start-Up India initiative aims to build a strong eco-system for nurturing innovation and startups in the country which will drive economic growth and generate large scale employment opportunities.
  • The Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP), Ministry of Commerce and Industry is the nodal agency for implementing this initiative.
  • The various financial incentives provided for Startup Companies under the Startup India initiative include providing funding support through a Fund of Funds, Credit Guarantee Fund for Startups, tax exemption on Capital Gains, tax exemption for initial 3 years, and allowing External Commercial Borrowing up to US $ 3 million or equivalent per financial year.

Presently, the Startup India portal has been made operational by Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion, which  provides access to the following services:

  • Startup recognition
  • Incubator recognition
  • Advertising space for Startups
  • Learning & development module

Cabinet approves amendment to ‘The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009’

{Rights Issues}


Source: PIB

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister has approved the amendment to Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009.

  • This will ensure that all teachers, in position as on 31st March, 2015, acquire the minimum qualifications prescribed by the academic authority to extend the period for such training for four years up to 31st March, 2019.
  • This will enable the in-service untrained elementary teachers to complete their training and ensure that all teachers at the elementary level in the country have a certain minimum standard of qualifications.
  • This would also ensure that all Teachers would attain minimum qualifications as considered necessary to maintain the standard of teaching quality.
  • This would ultimately result in improvement in overall quality of teachers, teaching processes and consequently learning outcomes of children. This will reinforce the Government’s emphasis on improvement of quality of elementary education.

Background:

  • The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009, is effective from 1st April, 2010. It envisages free and compulsory elementary education to every child in the age group of 6-14 years.
  • The Proviso to Section 23(2) of the Act specifies that all teachers at elementary level who, at the commencement of this Act, did not possess the minimum qualifications as laid down under the RTE Act, need to acquire these within a period of five years i.e., 31st March, 2015.
  • However, several State governments have reported that out of a total number of 66.41 lakh teachers at the elementary level, 11.00 lakh are still untrained (of this, 5.12 lakh are in Government and Aided Schools and 5.98 lakh are in private schools).
  • In order to ensure that all teachers, in position as on 31st March, 2015, acquire the minimum qualifications prescribed by the academic authority, it is necessary to carry out appropriate amendment in the RTE Act, 2009 to extend the period for such training for four years up to 31st March, 2019.

NCST Approves Proposal for Five Additional Seats for Tribals in Sikkim Assembly

{Constitutional issues}


Source: PIB

  • National Commission for Schedule Tribes (NCST) has approved the proposal for five additional seat for tribals in Sikkim assembly.
  • Out of the proposed additional eight seats, five seats would be reserved for Limbu and Tamang tribes.
  • At present there are 32 members in Sikkim assembly and it would be increased to 40. Reserve seats for STs are increased from 12 to 17.

 NCST:

  • NCST was established by amending Article 338 and inserting a new Article 338A in the Constitution through the Constitution (89th Amendment) Act, 2003. By this amendment, the erstwhile National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes was replaced by two separate Commissions namely- (i) the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC), and (ii) the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST).
  • The term of office of Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson and each member is three years from the date of assumption of charge. The Chairperson has been given the rank of Union Cabinet Minister and the Vice-Chairperson that of a Minister of State and other Members have the ranks of a Secretary to the Government of India.
  • NCST is empowered to investigate and monitor matters relating to safeguards provided for STs under the Constitution or under other laws or under Govt. order. The Commission is also authorized to inquire into specific complaints relating to rights and safeguards of STs and to participate and advise in the Planning Process relating to socio-economic development of STs and to evaluate the progress of their development under the Union and States.
  • The commission submits its report to the President annually on the working of safeguards and measures required for effective implementation of Programmers/ Schemes relating to welfare and socio-economic development of STs.

FM approves the re-organisation of the field formations of the Central Board of Excise & Customs (CBEC) for the implementation of Goods & Services Tax (GST)

{Economic Development}


Source: PIB
This will ensure rendering of taxpayer services to all the taxpayers through an indirect tax administration structure, having pan-India presence.

  • Reorganisation of the field formations of the Central Board of Excise & Customs (CBEC) for the implementation of Goods & Services Tax (GST) has been approved by the Union Finance Minister.
  • The existing formations of Central Excise & Service Tax under the CBEC have been re-organised to implement and enforce the provisions of the proposed Goods & Services Tax Laws.

Key facts:

  • The Central Board of Excise & Customs (CBEC) is being renamed as the Central Board of Indirect Taxes & Customs (CBIC), after getting legislative approval.
  • The proposed CBIC shall, inter alia, supervise the work of all its field formations and Directorates and assist the Government in policy making in relation to GST, continuing Central Excise levy & Customs functions.
  • The CBIC will have 21 Zones, 101 GST Tax payer Services Commissionerates comprising 15 sub-Commissionerates, 768 Divisions, 3969 Ranges, 49 Audit Commissionerates and 50 Appeals Commissionerates.
    • This will ensure rendering of taxpayer services to all the taxpayers through an indirect tax administration structure, having pan-India presence.
  • For a robust IT Network, the Directorate General of Systems under CBEC is being strengthened. The Directorate General Tax Payer Services is being expanded for greater out- reach for facilitating smooth transition for the taxpayers to the GST environment.
  • The existing training establishment, to be renamed as National Academy of Customs, Indirect Taxes and Narcotics will have an all India presence, to enable capacity building to the employees of the indirect tax administration of the Centre as well as of the State Governments and to members of Trade and Industry.

The renamed Directorate General of Goods & Service Tax Intelligence is also being strengthened and expanded to become an important wing of the Government in its fight against Tax Evasion and Black Money.


Recommendations of Law Commission against Hate Speech

{Governance}


Source: PIB

Hate speech has the potential to provoke individuals and society to commit acts of terrorism, genocides and ethnic cleansing. It is an “incitement to hatred” against a particular group of persons marginalised by their religious belief, sexual orientation, gender, etc.

  • Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in Pravasi Bhalai Sangathan v. Union of India(AIR 2014 SC 1591) had asked the Law Commission of India to examine if it ‘deems proper to define hate speech and make recommendations to the Parliament to strengthen the Election Commission to curb the menace of “hate speeches” irrespective of, whenever made.
  • In pursuance of this reference, the Law Commission has undertaken a study of laws restricting hate speeches in India.

The Supreme Court in 2014 had referred to the Law Commission for means to arm the Election Commission to crack down on hate speech.

What Constitution of India says?

  • Freedom of Speech and Expression is one of the most significant rights guaranteed in the Constitution.
  • However, this right has been subjected to reasonable restrictions enunciated under Article 19(2) of the Indian Constitution.
  • The reasonableness of this restriction is subject to several tests.
  • Laws that seek to prevent speech that marginalise the vulnerable sections of the society strive to harmonise the freedom of expression with right to equality.
  • In order to protect this group from discriminatory attitudes and practices it is necessary that forms of expression that have the potential of inciting hatred and violence are regulated.
  • International laws, especially the European Court of Human Rights has stressed on the need to exercise free speech in a responsible manner, especially in an increasingly multicultural and plural world.

Indisputably, offensive speech has real and devastating effects on people’s lives and risks their health and safety. It is harmful and divisive for communities and hampers social progress. If left unchecked, hate speech can severely affect right to life of every individual,

Key facts: The Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2017 — inserting new Sections to fortify democracy against hate speeches.

In its report, the Law Commission cautioned the government that hate speech is “considered outside the realm of protective discourse.

  • In the opinion of the Commission, the anti-discrimination should take into account the harmful effect of speech on rights of the vulnerable group.
  • The Commission recommends that the several factors need to be considered before restricting a speech, like, the context of the speech, the status of the victim, the status of the maker of the speech and the potential of the speech to create discriminatory and disruptive circumstances.
  • After a thorough examination of the issue and an analysis of the international legal framework, the Commission has proposed amendments to the Indian Penal Code by insertion of new sections after section 153B and 505A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
  • It is also proposed that apart from this sanctioning such expression, other strategies might also be employed to encourage harmony among different groups of the society like sensitising and educating the public on responsible exercise of speech.

Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana- Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment

{Social Justice}


Source: PIB

The Central Government proposes to launch a new Central Sector Scheme

Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana”, a ‘Scheme for providing Physical Aids and Assisted-living Devices for Senior citizens belonging to BPL category’

  • The devices will help the Senior Citizens to overcome their age related physical impairment and to lead a dignified and productive life with minimal dependence on care givers or other members of the family. The ambitious Scheme, first of its kind in the country is expected to benefit 5,20,000 Senior Citizens over a period of the 3 years.

Background:

  • As per the Census figures of 2011, the population of senior citizens in India is 10.38 crore. More than 70% of the population of senior citizens live in rural areas of the country.
  • A sizeable percentage (5.2%) of the senior citizens suffers from some sort of disabilities related to old age. Projections indicate that the number of elderly population will increase to around 173 million by 2026.

Salient features of this scheme:

  • The scheme will be distribute free of cost physical aids and assisted-living devices for senior citizens belonging to BPL category.
  • It will be implemented through the sole implementing agency ‘Artificial Limbs Manufacturing Corporation (ALIMCO), a PSU under Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
  • The eligible elderly beneficiary will get devices such as walking sticks, elbow crutches, walkers/crutches, tripods/qadpods, hearing aids, wheelchair, aificial Dentures and Spectacles.
  • The devices will help the Senior Citizens to overcome their age related physical impairment and to lead a dignified and productive life with minimal dependence on care givers or other members of the family.
  • Beneficiaries will be identified by the State Governments/UTs through a Committee chaired by the Deputy Commissioner/District Collector.
  • The Committee can utilize the data of BPL beneficiaries receiving Old Age Pension under the NSAP or any other Scheme of the State/UTs for identification of senior citizens belonging to BPL category.

Ratification of Kyoto Protocol

 {Environment}


Source: PIB

The Government of India has decided to ratify the Second Commitment Period (2013- 2020) of the Kyoto Protocol.

  • Developing countries like India have no mandatory mitigation obligations or targets under the Kyoto Protocol.
  • The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) under the Kyoto Protocol enables developed countries to invest in “Clean” projects in developing countries to gain emissions credits (Certified Emission Reduction-CER).
  • Indian Industry has benefited from trading in CERs in the international market. Of late, due to lack of demand internationally, prices of CERs have been very low leading to low activities under this mechanism.

More than 2 dozen companies want collaboration with India Post Payments Bank

{Banking Sector}


Source: PIB

Government has said that there are many companies who have approached the Department of Posts for collaboration with India Post Payments Bank

The Payments Banks are different from regular Banks in the following fundamental   ways as per RBI guidelines for Licensing of Payments Banks:

  • Payment Banks are not allowed to undertake lending activities directly. It can accept demand deposits only that is savings and current accounts and will initially be restricted to holding a maximum balance of Rs. 100,000(Rupees one lakh only) per individual customer.
  • Payment Banks cannot accept Non Resident Indian (NRI) deposits.
  • The Payment Banks cannot set up subsidiaries to undertake non-banking financial services activities.

Emission of Greenhouse Gases

{Environment}


Source: PIB
As per the Biennial Update Report submitted by India, the quantum of India’s total green house gas (GHG) emissions (excluding LULUCF) in 2010 was 2.136 billion tonnes Carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2eq).

  • In 2010, the year for which comparable figures are available, India’s emissions are lower than GHG emissions of China (11.183 billion tonnes CO2eq), USA (6.713 billion tonnes CO2eq), European Union (4.834 billion tonnes CO2eq) and Brazil (2.902 billion tonnes CO2eq).
  • The Ministry has notified the revised standards for thermal power plants (TPPs) vide S. O. 3305 (E) dated 07/12/2015 for parameters such as Particulate Matter(PM), SOX, NOX, mercury, etc. and no amendment of the notified norms has been made.

Rise in Electronic Waste

{Environment}


Source: PIB

The country’s economic growth, rise in per capita income, and technological innovations coupled with high obsolescence rate of electronic and electrical equipment to increase in the rate of generation of e-waste.

Key facts:


Toxic constituents such as Lead, Mercury, Cadmium, Hexavalent Chromium, Polybrominated biphenyls and Polybrominated diphenyl ethers are used in the manufacturing of electronic devices.

  • Disposal of e-waste from such electronic devices, without processing it in an environmentally sound manner, may affect the human health and environment including soil and ground water.
  • No comprehensive inventorization of e-waste generation in the country has been done. However, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), had projected 8.0 lakh tons of e-waste generation in the year 2010.

E-waste 2016:

  • The Government has comprehensively revised E-waste (Management & Handling) Rules, 2011, and notified E-Waste (Management) Rules in March, 2016.
  • The provisions of these Rules include expanded producers’ responsibility, setting up of producer responsibility organizations and e-waste exchange to facilitate collection and recycling, assigning specific responsibility to bulk consumers of electronic products for safe disposal, providing for economic incentives for collection of electronic waste, and other measures which include responsibility of producers of electronic and electrical products for collection and channelizing of electronic waste.
  • The Rules provide for simplified permission process for setting up of dismantling and recycling facilities through single authorization based on Standard Operating Procedures (SoP) prescribed by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
  • State Governments have been entrusted with the responsibility for earmarking industrial space for e-waste dismantling and recycling facilities, and to undertake industrial skill development .

Easing of Rules for Clearance of Non-Polluting Industrial Projects

{Environment}


Source: PIB
The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change in consultation with Central Pollution Control Board has reclassified the industries into “Red”, “Orange”, “Green” and “White” category, as part of policies and objective of government to promote ‘Ease of Doing Responsible Business.

Projects under the new category of “white”, which is practically non-polluting, will not require either Environmental Clearance under Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 or Consent under Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 and Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974.

 

List of White Category Industries

s.noIndustry Sector s.noIndustry Sector
1.Air coolers /conditioners19.Glass putty and sealant
2.Bicycles, baby carriages20.Ground nut decorticating
3.Bailing of waste papers21.Handloom/ carpet weaving
4.Bio fertilizer /bio-pesticides22.Leather cutting and stitching
5.Biscuits trays23.Coir items from coconut husks
6.Blending / packing of tea24.Metal caps containers etc
7.Block making of printing25.Shoe brush and wire brush
8.Chalk making26.Medical oxygen
9.Compressed oxygen gas27.Organic and inorganic nutrients
10.Cotton and woolen hosiers28.Organic manure
11.Diesel pump repairing29.Packing of powdered milk
12.Electric lamp ( bulb) and CFL30.Paper pins and u clips
13.Electrical and electronic item31.Repairing of electric motors /generators
14.Engineering and fabrication units32.Rope (plastic and cotton)
15.Flavoured betel nuts33.Scientific and mathematical instrument
16.Fly ash bricks/ block34.Solar module non-conventional energy apparatus
17.Fountain pen35.Solar power generation through solar photovoltaic cell

, wind power and mini hydel power (less than 25 MW)

18.Glass ampules36.Surgical and medical products assembling

 

  • establish measures for safety and health of workers engaged in dismantling and recycling facilities of e-waste.

India Signs Financing Agreement with World Bank

{Global groupings}, {Economic Development}


Source: PIB

A financing agreement for IDA credit of US$ 100 for the “Uttarakhand Health Systems Development Project” was recently signed with the World Bank

The objective of the project is to improve access to quality health services, particularly in the hilly districts of the State, and to expand health financial risk protection for residents of the State.

 The project has two main components:

  1. Innovations of engaging the private sector.
  2. Stewardship and system improvement.

Key facts:

  • Out of the total project size of USD 125 million, USD 25 million will be the counterpart contribution of the State Government.
  • The planned design of the Project consists of multiple self-contained clusters of clinical services managed by operators on a PPP basis, providing services for free or at nominal charges, backed up by a robust oversight and monitoring mechanism fully integrated with the expanded health insurance program in the State.

 IDA:

  • The International Development Association (IDA) is the part of the World Bank that helps the world’s poorest countries.
  • Aim:Overseen by 173 shareholder nations, IDA aims to reduce poverty by providing loans (called “credits”) and grants for programs that boost economic growth, reduce inequalities, and improve people’s living conditions.

How is it different from IBRD?

  • IDA complements the World Bank’s original lending arm—the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD).
  • IBRD and IDA share the same staff and headquarters and evaluate projects with the same rigorous standards.

Lending:

  • IDA lends money on concessional terms. This means that IDA credits have a zero or very low interest charge and repayments are stretched over 25 to 40 years, including a 5- to 10-year grace period. IDA also provides grants to countries at risk of debt distress.
  • In addition to concessional loans and grants, IDA provides significant levels of debt relief through the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative and the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI).

National Conference on Down Syndrome

{Health issue}


Source: PIB

National Conference on Down Syndrome was recently inaugurated in New Delhi.

  • The Conference was organized by The National Trust for the welfare of persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilitiesunder M/o SJ&E in collaboration with Muskaan, a registered organisation of the National Trust.
  • The conference called upon the people to provide all types of support and help to Persons with Down Syndrome.

Down Syndrome:

Down syndrome is a set of physical and mental traits caused by a gene problem that happens before birth.

Down syndrome is a lifelong condition. But with care and support, children who have Down syndrome can grow up to have healthy, happy, productive lives.-

  • Down Syndrome is a chromosomal condition associated with intellectual and learning disabilities.
  • Causes: Persons with Down Syndrome have 47 chromosomes as compared to 46 in majority of people.
  • Impacts: This one Extra chromosome causes its own impact and slows down learning process. It impacts neurological functioning causing impairment of intellectual functions e.g. analytical thinking, complex abstractions and judgement etc.
  • Treatment: Good schooling, loving family, learning and work opportunities make them grow up to be responsible, loving and cheerful persons. Their emotions and needs are like any other person of the same age. Accepting and respecting family/community is a big support to their growth and development.

What are the symptoms?

Most children with Down syndrome have:

  • Distinctive facial features, such as a flat face, small ears, slanting eyes, and a small mouth.
  • A short neck and short arms and legs.
  • Low muscle tone and loose joints. Muscle tone usually improves by late childhood.
  • Below-average intelligence.

Fodder Cultivation on Forest Land


{Agriculture}


Source: PIB

The National Forest Policy 1988 envisages taking afforestation programme with particular emphasis on fodder Development and in consonance with this, the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change is implementing centrally sponsored scheme National Afforestation Programme (NAP) for eco-restoration of degraded forests in the country through people’s participation.

Key facts

  • The scheme is implemented through the State Forest Development Agency (SFDA) at the state level, Forest Development Agency (FDA) at the forest division level and the Joint Forest Management Committees (JFMCs) at the village level.
  • The scheme provides various models for eco-restoration, one of them being Pasture Development/Silvipasture, which aims for improvement of grasslands and enhancing the fodder availability.
  • During the last three years an amount of Rs.41.78 crores has been sanctioned for pasture development under NAP which includes 13,013 hectares of the new area under the specific model. Further, the National Mission for a Green India (GIM) is a recent initiative by the Ministry under the National Action Plan on Climate Change that aims at protecting and enhancing India’s forest cover to counter the perils of climate change.
  • The Mission supports the restoration of grasslands and pastures, Agro-forestry and Social Forestry.
  • However there is no specific suggestion for earmarking of area for growing grass and fodder under the above schemes.

8.6 Crore Soil Health Cards Distributed

{Agriculture}


Source: PIB

The government recently informed the Lok Sabha that so far against the target of 14 crore cards distribution, 6 crore cards have been distributed and remaining cards are under printing.

Adequate funds have been released to all States, funds amounting to Rs 23.89 crore, Rs 96.44 crore and Rs 126.47 crore have been released during 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17 respectively under the scheme.

The Soil Health Card Scheme:

  • It is a scheme to provide every farmer a Soil Health Card in a Mission mode. It is a scheme under which the Central Government provides assistance to State Governments for setting up Soil Testing Laboratories for issuing Soil Health Cards to farmers.

Implementation:

  • The scheme will be implemented in all states to promote soil testing services, issue of soil health cards and development of nutrient management practices.
  • Under the scheme, State Governments should adopt innovative practices like involvement of agricultural students, NGOs and private sector in soil testing, determining average soil health of villages, etc., to issue Soil Health Cards.
  • Under the scheme, the state governments are also required to prepare yearly action plan on the issue and the cost will be shared in the ratio of 75:25 between the Centre and states.

What are soil health cards?

  • A Soil Health Card is used to assess the current status of soil health and, when used over time, to determine changes in soil health that are affected by land management.
  • A Soil Health Card displays soil health indicators and associated descriptive terms. The indicators are typically based on farmers’ practical experience and knowledge of local natural resources.
  • The card lists soil health indicators that can be assessed without the aid of technical or laboratory equipment.
  • The card, which will carry crop-wise recommendation of fertilisers required for farm lands, will help farmers identify health of soil and judiciously use soil nutrients.

Establishment of Manufacturing Hubs in CLMV Countries – (Ministry of Commerce & Industry)

{Economic Development}


Source: PIB

The Government has created a Project Development Fund (PDF) for Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam (CLMV) countries to facilitate Indian Investment & broaden manufacturing base of Indian companies in the region.

The PDF shall be housed in Department of Commerce and operated through the EXIM Bank. The PDF shall be governed by an Inter-Ministerial Committee under the chairpersonship of the Commerce Secretary.

Some of the major steps taken by the Department of Commerce to promote exports are:

  • The New Foreign Trade Policy (2015-20) announced on 1st April, 2015 with a focus on supporting both manufacturing and services exports.
  • FTP 2015-20 provides for new measures for increasing exports of goods & services including new schemes like Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS) and Services Exports from India Scheme (SEIS).
  • Launching of a new scheme “Trade Infrastructure for Export Scheme(TIES)”with the objective to enhance export competitiveness by bridging gaps in export infrastructure, creating focused export infrastructure, first mile and last mile connectivity for export oriented projects and addressing quality and certification measures.
  • Implementation of the NiryatBandhu Schemewith an objective to reach out to the new and potential exporters including exporters from Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and mentor them through orientation programmes, counseling sessions, individual facilitation etc. on various aspects of foreign trade. (Indian Institute of Foreign Trade).
  • Single Window Interface for Facilitating Trade(SWIFT) clearances project launched on 1st April, 2016 as part of “Ease Doing Business” initiatives.
  • Launching of Interest Equalization Scheme on pre & post shipment credit to provide cheaper credit to exporters.
  • Facility of access to duty free raw materials and capital goods for exports through schemes like Advance Authorization , Duty Free Import Authorization (DFIA), Export Promotion Capital Goods (EPCG) and drawback/refund of duties.
  • Financial support to Trade Organizations for Exhibitions/fairs/buyer-seller meet/ B2B meetings, market research etc.

Background

The Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and Viet Nam (CLMV) Project is working with CLMV governments on a series of policy-oriented research activities and capacity building programs aimed at helping these countries narrow their development gap with other ASEAN members.

The program will:

  • Improve understanding of the role of supply chains in national policy frameworks;
  • Provide participants with practical examples of supply chain development and implementation in developing country context;
  • Enable CLMV countries to examine their approach to supply chain development and implementation in a sub-regional context; and
  • Create a network of CLMV supply chain officials and experts.

Partners

  • Mekong Institute
  • Asian Development Bank(Southeast Asia Regional Department)

Proposals on Free Trade

{Economic Development}


Source: PIB

The government has received proposals from Georgia and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) for negotiating Free Trade Agreements (FTAs). The Joint Feasibility Study with Georgia will be conducted to study the feasibility of the proposed FTAs. The Joint Feasibility Study Group Report between the Eurasian Economic Union and its Member States and the Republic of India has been accepted and 1st meeting of Trade Negotiation Committee will held after mutual consent.

Further, the government is negotiating the following trade agreements with other country/block of countries with specific Chapters on Investment:-

  1. India – EU Broad based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA)
  2. India – Sri Lanka Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreements (ETCA)
  3. India – Thailand Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA)
  4. India – Mauritius Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Partnership Agreement (CECPA)
  5. India-EFTA Trade and Economic Partnership Agreement (TEPA)
  6. India – New Zealand Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA)
  7. India – Australia Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA)
  8. BIMSTEC Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA)
  9. India – Canada Free Trade Agreement (FTA)
  10. Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement

The agreements are likely to provide opportunities for generating economic growth and employment as well as increase mutual investment flows.


G-20 Framework Working Group (FWG)

{Global groupings}


Source: PIB

G-20 Framework Working Group (FWG) in its 3rd Meeting at Varanasi discusses the Current State of the Global Economy as well as G-20 agenda on Inclusive Growth and Reports on Strong, Sustainable and Balanced Growth & G-20 Enhanced Structural Reform Agenda among others.

The Ministry of Finance, Government of India along with Reserve Bank of India (RBI) hosted the two day 3rd Meeting of the G-20 Framework Working Group (FWG) in Varanasi.

Key facts:

The G-20 FWG is one of the core Working Group of G-20 and deliberates on matters related to global economy and on the policy co-ordination that is required between the major economies of the world to face global economic challenges. India co-chairs this group with Canada.

The three core areas of the discussion in the meeting which were

  1. The IMF work on G-20 mandate on strong, sustainable and balanced growth;
  2. The OECD work on G-20 structural reform agenda; and
  3. G-20 agenda on inclusive growth. Germany is presently holding the Presidency of G-20 this year.

Sessions:

  1. The Opening Remark was followed by on “Global Economic Conjuncture and Outlook” wherein countries discussed on the current state of the global economy.
  2. Focus on the update from IMF on the Report on Strong, Sustainable and Balanced Growth which is currently under preparation.
  3. Dealt with the draft OECD Report on G-20 Enhanced Structural Reform Agenda.
  4. Devoted to inclusive growth agenda given the tremendous policy focus of both advanced economies and emerging market economies on this agenda.
  5. Focus on the updates from international organizations (that is, IMF, OECD, ILO and World Bank) on their analysis of the impact of inequality on economic growth and formulation of a G-20 framework on inclusive growth.

It looked at the possibility of formulating an effective indicator for inclusive growth and the challenges associate therewith. The last session of the meeting was focused on discussing the templates and timelines for 2017 Growth Strategy submissions by G-20 countries.


Fame India Scheme- Under the Department of Heavy Industry

{Development and Employment}


Source: PIB

FAME India Scheme by the Government with effect from 1st April, 2015

  • The Government has not allocated 14,000 crores for the FAME India Scheme for promoting hybrid and electric mobility vehicles;
  • Under Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid and) Electric Vehicles (FAME-India) Scheme of the Government, demand incentives are being extended to all vehicle segments i.e. 2 – Wheelers, 3-Wheeler Auto, Passenger 4-Wheeler Vehicles, Light Commercial Vehicles and Buses.

Way forward

  • In India, electric buses in future will have a big leap in mass public transport.
  • It would support the government initiative of reducing fuel import bill.
  • Besides, it will help to curb air pollution as these buses have zero tailpipe emissions and lower noise pollution.

What is National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP) 2020?

  • The NEMMP 2020 is one of most ambitious initiatives undertaken by Central Government to promote hybrid and electric vehicles in the country to achieve national fuel security.
  • It has set an ambitious target to achieve 6-7 million sales of hybrid and electric vehicles year on year from 2020 onwards.
  • The FAME India Scheme was launched under this mission to provide fiscal and monetary incentives to electric and hybrid vehicles ranging from two wheelers to buses.

India becomes Net Exporter of Electricity for the first Time

{Economic Development}


Source: PIB

1st time India has turned around from a net importer of electricity to Net Exporter of electricity

  • As per Central Electricity Authority, the Designated Authority of Government of India for Cross Border Trade of Electricity, 1st time India has turned around from a net importer of electricity to Net Exporter of electricity.
  • During the current year 2016-17 (April to February 2017), India has exported around 5,798 Million Units to Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar which is 213 Million units more than the import of around 5,585 Million units from Bhutan. Export to Nepal and Bangladesh increased 2.5 and 2.8 times respectively in last three years.

Import of power:

Ever since the cross border trade of electricity started in mid-Eighties, India has been importing power from Bhutan and marginally exporting to Nepal in radial mode at 33 kV and 132 kV from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. On an average Bhutan has been supplying around 5,000- 5500 Million units to India.

Export of power:

  • India has been exporting around 190 MW power to Nepal over 12 cross border interconnections at 11kV, 33kV and 132 kV level. The export of power to Nepal further increased by around 145 MW with commissioning of Muzaffarpur (India)– Dhalkhebar(Nepal) 400kV line (being operated at 132 kV) in 2016.
  • Export of power to Bangladesh from India got further boost with commissioning of 1st cross border Interconnection between Baharampur in India and Bheramara in Bangladesh at 400kV in September 2013. It was further augmented by commissioning of 2nd cross border Interconnection between Surjyamaninagar (Tripura) in India and South Comilla in Bangladesh. At present around 600 MW power is being exported to Bangladesh.
  • Export of power to Nepal is expected to increase by around 145 MW shortly over 132 kV Katiya (Bihar)– Kusaha (Nepal) and 132 kV Raxaul (Bihar)– Parwanipur (Nepal).

Central Electricity Authority:

  • The Central Electricity Authority of India (CEA) is a statutory organisation constituted under section 3(1) of Electricity Supply Act 1948, which has been superseded by section 70(1) of the Electricity Act 2003.
  • The CEA advises the government on matters relating to the National Electricity Policy and formulates short-term and perspective plans for the development of electricity systems.
    • Under the Electricity Act 2003, CEA prescribes the standards on matters such as construction of electrical plants, electric lines and connectivity to the grid, installation and operation of meters and safety and grid standards.
    • The CEA is also responsible for concurrence of hydro power development schemes of central, state and private sectors taking into consideration the factors which will result in efficient development of the river and its tributaries for power generation, consistent with the requirement of drinking water, irrigation, navigation and flood control.

National Child Labour Project-( Ministry of Labour & Employment)

{Rights Issues}


Source: PIB

The National Child Labour Policy was approved by the Cabinet on 14th August 1987 during the Seventh Five Year Plan Period.

The policy was formulated with the basic objective of suitably rehabilitating the children withdrawn from employment thereby reducing the incidence of child labour in areas of known concentration of child labour.

The policy consists of three main ingredients:-

  1. Legal Action Plan– With emphasis laid on strict and effective enforcement of legal provisions relating to child labour under various labour laws;
  2. Focusing of general development programmes– Utilization of various ongoing development programmes of other Ministries/Departments for the benefit of child labour wherever possible;
  3. Project-based plan of action– Launching of projects for the welfare of working’ children in areas of high concentration of child labour.

Key facts:

  • Government has reviewed the National Child Labour Project (NCLP) Scheme to make it more effective and the revised NCLP Guidelines issued in this regard have come into force.
  • Under the revised Guidelines the Special Training Centres (STCs) for rehabilitation of child labour have been aligned in line with RTE Act;
  • The target group has been expanded to all working children below the age of 14 years and to adolescents (14-18 years) working in hazardous occupations and processes;
  • The procedure for setting up of Project Societies and opening of STCs has been simplified;
  • Payment of stipend to the children is made on modular basis for a minimum of three months through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT);
  • The budget of Project Societies/STCs and rate of honorarium for volunteers/staff has been enhanced; procedure for conducting survey has been simplified;
  • Monitoring mechanism has been strengthened at National, State and District level etc. At present the scheme is sanctioned in 280 Districts of 21 States in the country.

The activities to be taken up under the project in the 10th Plan are:

  1. Stepping up of enforcement of child labour laws
  2. Formal Non- formal education
  3. Provision of Vocational Training
  4. Income and employment generation activities
  5. Direct rehabilitation of child labour
  6. Raising of public awareness
  7. Survey and evaluation.

STRATEGY TO BE ADOPTED DURING THE TENTH PLAN FOR ELIMINATION OF CHILD LABOUR

  • Linking the child labour elimination efforts with the scheme of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan of the MHRD an attempt to ensure that small children in the age group of 5-8 years get directly linked to school and the older children are mainstreamed to the formal education system through the rehabilitation centres. Increased efforts to provide vocational training to the older children
  • Strengthening of the formal school mechanism in the endemic child labour areas in the country both in terms of quality and numbers in such a manner as to provide an attractive schooling system to the child labour force and its parents so that motivational levels of both the parents and such children are high and sending these children to school becomes an attractive proposition.
  • Effective provision for health care for all children would be made.
  • Implementation of the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act would be made much more effective.
  • The monitoring system would be further systematized with the close involvement of the State
  • Government to ensure that the project is able to attain its objectives within the given period.

India’s longest road tunnel to the nation – National Highways Authority of India

{Transport}


Source: PIB

India’s longest road tunnel – the 9 kilometre long “Chenani – Nashri Tunnel”

  • The tunnel on NH-44 which connects Jammu with Srinagar, will reduce travel time between the two cities by upto two hours.
  • Besides avoiding large scale deforestation and tree-cutting, the tunnel will provide a safe, all-weather route to commuters travelling from Jammu and Udhampur, to Ramban, Banihal and Srinagar.
  • The tunnel is equipped with world-class security systems, and is expected to boost tourism and economic activities in the State of Jammu and Kashmir.

Key Features of the tunnel

  • It is a single-tube bi-directional tunnel, with a 9.35 metre carriageway, and a vertical clearance of 5 metres.
  • There is also a parallel escape tunnel, with “Cross Passages” connecting to the main tunnel at intervals of 300 metres.
  • It also has smart features such as an Integrated Traffic Control System; Surveillance, Ventilation and Broadcast Systems; Fire Fighting System; and SOS call-boxes at every 150 metres.
  • The project has been completed at a cost of over Rs. 2500 crore.

Objectives and targets of satellites launched by PSLV

{Science and Technology}


Source: PIB

Three Indian satellites were launched onboard PSLV-C37 on February 15, 2017. These satellites are: (i) Cartosat-2 Series satellite (weighing 714 kg) and (ii) two Indian Nano-satellites viz., INS-1A & 1B (together weighing 18.1 kg).

The objectives

  • Indian Cartosat-2 series satellite is to provide high resolution images of earth’s surface at sub-meter resolution (Black & White image) and at 2 meter resolution (4-band colored image).
  • The images obtained from this satellite are useful in variety of applications requiring high resolution images, which include cartography, infrastructure planning, urban & rural development, utility management, natural resources inventory & management, disaster management.
  • The objective of Indian nano-satellites INS-1A & 1B is to demonstrate new technologies and miniaturization of spacecraft.
  • Total 101 nano satellites from six foreign countries were launched in this mission.
    • These satellites are: BGUSat (Israel), Al-Farabi-1 (Kazakhstan), PEASSS (The Netherlands), DIDO-2 (Switzerland), Nayif-1 (UAE), 8 Lemur satellites (USA) and 88 Dove satellites (USA).
    • These nano satellites from foreign countries were launched under a commercial arrangement between Antrix Corporation Limited (Antrix), the commercial arm of ISRO and the foreign customer.
    • Antrix has earned a revenue of about half of the cost of launch vehicle in terms of foreign exchange.

Open Slogan Contest on the theme “Role of National Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (NPDRR) in Disaster Management in India”

{Disaster management}


Source: PIB

The 2nd meeting of National Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (NPDRR) will be held in New Delhi on April 24-25, 2017 on the theme ‘Disaster Risk Reduction for Sustainable Development: Making India Resilient by 2030’.

  • It will have an exclusive Ministerial session besides Plenary session on the theme “National Perspective on Disaster Risk Reduction: Sendai and Beyond”.

There will also be five Technical sessions  on the themes

1.“Understanding Disaster Risk”,

  1. “Strengthening Disaster Risk Governance to Manage Disaster Risk”,
  2. “Investing in Disaster Risk Reduction for resilience”,

4.“ Enhancing Disaster Preparedness for Effective Response and to Build Back Better in Recovery, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction” and
5.“Sendai Framework for DRR: Monitoring”.

The National Platform aims to bring together the whole range of India’s disaster risk community from Government, Parliamentarians, Local Self Governments, Media, International Organizations, NGOs, local community representatives, scientific and academic institutions and corporate businesses etc.

It will help in sharing of experiences, views and ideas, present findings of research and action and explore opportunities for mutual cooperation in the field of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR).

Chairman and Members:

  • NPDRR is chaired by the Union Home Minister and Minister of State in-charge of Disaster Management in the Ministry of Home Affairs is the Vice Chairperson of NPDRR.
  • The other members of NPDRR are 15 Cabinet Ministers, Vice Chairman, NITI Aayog, Minister of each State Government/ UT dealing with the subject Disaster Management; representatives of Local Self-Governments and Parliament (4 members from Lok Sabha and 2 from Rajya Sabha), ex-officio members, Heads of institutions of national importance, persons representing industry, media representatives, civil society organizations and international representatives.

Key facts:

The output from the National Platform will offer a strategic direction and a roadmap for the formulation of our future national action plans on DRR.

The NPDRR will help sensitize the participants about important initiatives at global and national level on DRR, including AMCDRR 2016, and the Asia Regional Plan 2016, Prime Minister’s agenda on DRR. Key expected outcomes include:

  1. To obtain consensus of the states/UTs for conducting Multi-Hazard Risk Vulnerability Assessment within specific timeframe.
  2. To explore how Hazard Risk Vulnerability Analysis (HRVA) outcomes can be integrated into policy formulation.
  3. To identify constraints and find out their solutions in strengthening District Disaster Management Authorities in multi-hazard risk prone districts.
  4. To develop a mechanism for compliance of building codes in urban areas and to develop building codes for rural areas.
  5. To suggest various measures for promoting insurance as risk mitigation tool among the general public.
  6. To explore possible areas/schemes for reducing risks of earthquakes, floods and landslides.
  7. To strengthen Incident Response Forces at State/Local levels for effective response.
  8. To have a mechanism in place for build-back-better.
  9. To measure and monitor the performance of India on different priority areas/ targets of SFDRR.

Background:

The first meeting of NPDRR was held on May 13-14, 2013 in New Delhi on the theme ‘Mainstreaming DRR in Development: From Risk to Resilience’

The main functions of the NPDRR are:

  • To review the National Disaster Management Policy and progress made in the field of Disaster Management from time to time.
  • To appreciate the extent and manner in which the Disaster Management Policy has been implemented by the Central and State Governments, and other concerned agencies, and to give appropriate advice in the matter.
  • To advise on coordination between the Central and State Governments/UT Administrations, local self-governments and civil society organizations for Disaster Risk Reduction.

There is no provision for individual cash incentive/cash transfer component by Government in BBBP Scheme

{Public Policy}


Source: PIB

Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP) is a flagship programme of Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD), Government of India to change the mindsets of society to value the girl child and empower her.

Key facts:

  • The scheme mainly focuses on challenging mindsets and deep rooted patriarchy in the societal system, strict enforcement of PC&PNDT Act, advancing education of the girl child: focus is on issues of women empowerment on a life cycle continuum.
  • BBBP scheme has no provision for individual cash incentive/cash transfer component by Government of India and thus is not a DBT (Direct Benefit Transfer) scheme.

The fraudulent activity

  • The fraudulent activity of duping people by falsely promising fake cash benefits in the name of BBBP was brought to the notice of Ministry of Women and Child Development through complaints/ copies of fraudulent forms being filled by people and sent to Office of MWCD.
  • The false promise was to provide Rs. 2 lakhs to a girl child between the age 8 and 32 years on filling the fake forms, which were eventually sent to Ministry of WCD.
  • Over 3 lakh fake/illegal forms have been received by this Ministry so far which were reported to have fraudulently sold in many cases and filled in the name of girls and sending to Ministry for providing cash disbursements under BBBP. The fraudulent activity started in some districts of Uttar Pradesh.
  • The Ministry of Women and Child Development took immediate action and preventive measures to contain this problemby taking up the matter with concerned State Government Authorities where this illegal activity has taken place as reported namely Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Bihar and Delhi.
  • FIRs have been filed in some districts. A disclaimer has been uploaded on website of the Ministry.
  • Press releases were also issued which were carried out in leading newspapers in Hindi and English.
  • This Ministry has also launched a media publicity campaign through Doordarshan/ AIR and other radio stations as well as through Newspapers alerting general public on the issue. The case has been handed over to Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Govt.,NDB ink $350 mn. loan pact.


{Economic Development}

Source: PIB

India has signed its first loan agreement with the New Development Bank (NDB) for $350 million to be used in the development and upgradation of district roads in Madhya Pradesh.

  • The objective of the project is the upgradation of major district roads in the state of Madhya Pradesh to improve connectivity of the interior areas of the state with the national and state highway networks.
  • The project would include upgradation, rehabilitation or reconstruction of approximately 1,500 km of district roads to intermediate lane, all-weather standards, with road safety features and improved road asset maintenance and management.

Background:

The project is to be implemented over five years with the Government of Madhya Pradesh and the Madhya Pradesh Road Development Corporation acting as the implementing agencies.

NDB:

  • It is a multilateral development bank operated by the BRICS states (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). It is seen as an alternative to the existing US-dominated World Bank and International Monetary Fund.
  • The New Development Bank was agreed to by BRICS leaders at the 5th BRICS summit held in Durban, South Africa in 2013.
  • The bank is set up to foster greater financial and development cooperation among the five emerging markets.
  • The bank will be headquartered in Shanghai, China.

Voting: Unlike the World Bank, which assigns votes based on capital share, in the New Development Bank each participant country will be assigned one vote, and none of the countries will have veto power.

NEW DEVELOPMENT BANK

The New Development Bank will mobilise resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS and other emerging economies and developing countries, to supplement existing efforts of multilateral and regional financial institutions for global growth and development.

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