Two New Schemes – “Merchandise Exports from India Scheme” And “Services Exports from India Scheme” Introduced
(GS-3, Mains-Foreign Trade and Investment)
The new five year Foreign Trade Policy, 2015-20 provides a framework for increasing exports of goods and services as well as generation of employment and increasing value addition in the country, in keeping with the “Make in India” vision of Prime Minister.
The focus of the new policy is to support both the manufacturing and services sectors, with a special emphasis on improving the ‘ease of doing business’.
FTP2015-20 Introduces two new schemes, namely “Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS)” for export of specified goods to specified markets and “Services Exports from India Scheme (SEIS)” for increasing exports of notified services.
Trade facilitation and enhancing the ease of doing business are the other major focus areas in this new FTP.
One of the major objective of new FTP is to move towards paperless working in 24×7 environment.
Government Issues Guidelines for Administration and Operationalization of ‘Nirbhaya Fund’
Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) is the nodal authority which can be approached by various Ministries/Departments with the proposals/schemes, to be funded from ‘Nirbhaya Fund’ targeted to strengthen the safety and security of women in the country.
Ministry of WCD would appraise these schemes to decide their suitability to qualify for getting funds from the ‘Nirbhaya Fund’.
Ministry of WCD shall forward the suitable proposals to Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) for necessary budgetary allocations in the respective Demands.
Budget Division (DEA), with the approval of Finance Minister would approve the funding of schemes from the fund
The respective line Ministries/Departments shall take necessary action for approval of SFC/EFC/PIB and Cabinet for implementation of the scheme on the ground.
Kashmir floods being monitored by latest satellite technology
(GS-3, Technology, Disaster Management)
Jammu & Kashmir floods were constantly monitored by latest satellite technology at the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) of ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) which is also keeping a close watch on the extent of flood damage, by programming its satellites for quick acquisition of data over Kashmir valley region.
Using microwave satellite data from Indian RISAT-1, the information was sent to all concerned.
Further, Canadian Microwave Satellite (Radarsat-2) was also programmed for 31st March 2015 which revealed more inundation in Kashmir valley, particularly in the Anantnag area.
Efforts are also going on to acquire more satellite data from other countries under the framework of “International Charter Space and Major Disasters” to facilitate frequent and detailed coverage.
Winners of the National Geoscience Awards 2013 Announced.
(GS-3-Achievements, Prelims-Current Events)
The National Geoscience Awards are the prestigious awards in the field of geosciences in the country.
Indra Bir Singh, Professor from Lucknow University Gets Award of Excellence for Outstanding Contributions in Sedimentary Geology
Ministry of Mines confers the National Geoscience Awards for honouring and recognising individuals and teams of scientists for their extraordinary achievements, outstanding contributions in the field of fundamental or applied geosciences, mining and allied areas at the National Level every year.
For the year 2013, twenty three geoscientists are being given the awards in eight fields covering five awards.
Gujarat leads in implementation of Swachh Bharat Mission
(GS-1, Developmental issue, Urbanization)
The state of Gujarat has led others in the implementation of Swachh Bharat Mission during 2014-15.
Out of the 2, 70,069 household toilets constructed during the last financial year, Gujarat alone accounted for 60% of them having built 1, 65,376 household toilets.
Madhya Pradesh has constructed 99,151 household toilets followed by Karnataka with 4,697.
In promoting Solid Waste Management also, Gujarat led others having reported 100% collection and transportation of municipal solid waste in 120 of the 195 towns in the state.
Odisha has done so in respect of 107 towns and Karnataka in 40 towns. In all, 329 of the 4,041 statutory towns have reported 100% collection and transportation of municipal solid waste.
Construction of toilets is accorded priority under the Mission to enable ‘open defecation free’ urban areas.
India to host 5th Meeting of SAARC Health Ministers
(GS-2-Important International Institutions)
India is hosting the 5th meeting of the SAARC Health Ministers at New Delhi.
The meetings, to be chaired by India, will deliberate and provide guidance and a roadmap for strengthening collaboration among SAARC countries on a number of issues and challenges faced by these countries.
Some of the prominent health issues to be discussed include prevention and control of communicable and non-communicable diseases, disease surveillance network, health infrastructure, human resources for health, immunization for vaccine preventable diseases, HIV/AIDS, mental health, improving access to medicines and anti-microbial resistance etc.
The Health Ministers will also discuss for adoption the ‘Delhi Declaration’ affirming their commitment to work together in identified areas and further strengthen health collaboration with agreed roadmap and timelines.
The purpose of the meetings is to find out ways and means to synergize collective efforts, share strategies and implement identified best practices to provide better health and a better quality of life to the citizens of SAARC countries.
First of Scorpene Submarines-Kalvari ‘Undocked’
(GS-3 –Mains-Defense Technology, Security)
Major Milestone for Indian Navy’s Project 75.
Kalvari, first of the Indian Navy’s Scorpene class stealth submarines being built under the Project 75, under collaboration with M/s DCNS, France, achieved a major milestone today with her ‘undocking’ at the Mazagon Dock Limited (MDL).
With a name steeped in the long and glorious tradition of its illustrious predecessor, an erstwhile Russian ‘Foxtrot’ class submarine, Kalvari, upon its scheduled commissioning in 2016, would lend an enormous fillip to the Indian Navy’s underwater capability.
The Scorpene submarines would pack a potent punch.
She would be equipped with anti-ship missiles and long range guided torpedoes along with modern sensor suite.
Virtual Call Centre of National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) Launched
The National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE), an autonomous organisation under the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Department of School Education and Literacy, Government of India has launched a Virtual Call Centre.
The Virtual Call Centre is aimed to provide a platform to all the stakeholders i.e. students, teachers and the general public to seek any clarification regarding working of the NCTE, application for the recognition of teacher education institutions, teacher education courses and any other issues including any complaints/grievances pertaining to NCTE.
The launch of Virtual Call Centre will be another step on the part of Government of India to provide transparency in the governance and also speedy redressal of grievances.
The NCTE is a regulatory body mandated to achieve planned and coordinated development of teacher education in the country and is duty bound for speedy redressal of grievances if any, arising out of its bonafide action.
Digital India Initiative: NCVT-MIS Portal
Will Help Improve Market Function of Vocational Training Delivery in India.
Awarded E-Certificates From Portal Generated First Set of 1.6 Lakh Certificates
The portal https://ncvtmis.dget.in, a digital platform that will help in improving the market function of vocational training delivery in India.
The portal will not only drastically reduce waiting time from years to days for apprentice to get certificates; the employers will also be able to cross check genuine candidates directly using the portal.
While the Government schemes delivery and performance can be monitored through his portal, the general public can also access details of various institutions in the country, courses offered and their uptake statistics, number of seats available, examination calendars, etc.
Law Commission of India submits its Report on Leprosy Laws
(GS-2-Govt policies, Welfare Schemes)
Law Commission Proposes Legislation to Eliminate Discrimination against Persons affected by Leprosy
India has signed and ratified the UNCRPD, and is also a member of the UN General Assembly that unanimously passed the Resolution on the Elimination of Leprosy.
Accordingly, along with its report and recommendations on the issue, the Law Commission has prepared model draft legislation, titled “Eliminating Discrimination against Persons Affected by Leprosy (EDPAL) Bill, 2015”.
The key aspects of the draft law are as follows:
Repeal and amendment of certain laws
Measures against discrimination
Right to Employment
Educational and training opportunities
Appropriate use of Language
Right to Freedom of Movement
Concessions during treatment
Amendments to “The Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill, 2013
(GS-3-Investment & Infrastructure)
The Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill is a pioneering initiative to protect the interest of consumers, to promote fair play in real estate transactions and to ensure timely execution of projects.
The salient features of the Bill are as under:
Applicability of the Bill:
Establishment of Real Estate Regulatory Authority:
Registration of Real Estate Projects and Registration of Real Estate Agents:
Mandatory Public Disclosure of all project details:
Functions and Duties of Promoter:
Compulsory deposit of 50 percent:
Adherence to declared plans:
Functions of Real Estate Agents:
Rights and Duties of Allottees:
Functions of Real Estate Regulatory Authority:
Fast Track Dispute Settlement Mechanism:
Establishment of Central Advisory Council:
Establishment of Real Estate Appellate Tribunal:
Bar of Jurisdiction Courts:
Power to make Rules and Regulations:
PM launches Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana
Combination of integrity with MUDRA – capital – will be the key to success for small entrepreneurs.
The MUDRA scheme is aimed at “funding the unfunded”.
The small entrepreneurs of India are used to exploitation at the hands of money lenders so far, but MUDRA will instill a new confidence in them that the country is ready to support them in their efforts that are contributing so heavily to the task of nation building.
The established financial systems will soon move to the MUDRA-model of functioning, i.e. to support entrepreneurs that give employment to a large number of people using least amount of funds.
Medical Devices parks to be set up in the country
(GS-3-Manufacturing Industries, Technology)
Medical devices’ industry is a multi-product industry, producing wide range of products.
The Government is going to set up Medical Devices Parks in the country, and first such park will come up in Gujarat soon. Only 30% of the country’s requirement of Medical Devices is being met through indigenous production, and that of low end category.
Taking all the products category of ‘Medical Devices’ together, India is importing around 69% of its total requirement.
The Task Force on ‘Promotion of Domestic Production of High-end Medical Devices and Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Equipment’ was set up by the Department of Pharmaceuticals as an initiative to implement the PM’s visions of ‘Make in India’.
Centre issues revised norms for disaster relief
(GS-3 –DISASTER MANAGEMENT)
The Ministry of Home Affairs has issued orders on revision of the items and norms, in respect of the centrally notified disasters like floods, cyclones, drought, hailstorm, tsunami, earthquake etc.
The revised orders include various aspects of response and preparedness like ex-gratia to the next of kin of persons who may lose their precious lives, ex-gratia in cases of persons suffering severe disability, gratuitous relief for families whose livelihoods may seriously be affected due to disasters, agricultural input subsidy to farmers, replacement of different categories of animals, procurement of search, rescue, evacuation and communication equipment, etc.
The Government of India has permitted up to 10% of allocation under the State Disaster Relief Fund (SDRF) to be spent on equipment. A maximum of 5% of SDRF allocation can be spent on capacity building. The State Governments can also use up to 10% of their SDRF allocation on ‘local disasters’.
Scheme for Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles in India – Fame India
(GS-3-Manufacturing Industries, Technology)
Salient Features of FAME India scheme which are as under:
Based on the a National Electric Mobility Plan (NEMMP) 2020 road map, a detailed scheme titled “FAME India” (Faster Adoption and Manufacture of Electric Vehicles in India) was drawn up by DHI and submitted for the approval of the Government.
This scheme would be covered throughout the country with the following four areas:
Cities under “Smart Cities” initiatives.
Major metro agglomerations – Delhi NCR, Greater Mumbai, Kolkatta, Chennai, Bengaluri, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad.
All State and other Urban Agglomerations/Cities with 1 million+population (as per 2011 census)
Cities of the North Eastern States
It will cover all vehicle segments i.e. two, three and four wheelers, cars, LCVs, Buses etc and all forms of hybrid (Mild/Strong/Plug-in) and pure electric vehicles.
The demand incentive will be availed by buyers upfront at the point of purchase and the same shall be got reimbursed by the manufacturers from DHI, on a monthly basis
US to offer smart transport solutions for Allahabad, Ajmer and Visakhapatnam
(GS-1-Urbanization, Developmental Issues)
The US Department of Transportation has agreed to offer sustainable transport solutions for the cities of Allahabad, Ajmer and Visakhapatnam.
The two sides focused on cooperation on the transportation elements of smart cities including efficient public transportation systems, Intelligent Transport Systems, Traffic Information and Control, multimodal integration and capacity building and training in the field of urban transportation.
India Designated as Chair to the Ninth Meeting of the IRENA
(GS-2-Important International Institutions)
India has been designated as Chair to the Ninth Meeting of International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) Council which is scheduled to be held for 10th & 11th June, 2015 in Abu Dhabi .
India is a founder Member of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), an intergovernmental organization that supports countries in their transition to a sustainable energy future, and serves as the principal platform for international cooperation, a centre of excellence, and a repository of policy, technology, resource and financial knowledge on renewable energy.
IRENA has two main governing structures; one is IRENA Assembly which takes decisions at Macro level and gives policy guidance to IRENA. Second is IRENA Council which is the main Governing Body of the Agency responsible for implementing various decisions of the Assembly.
100 Days of NITI Aayog
NITI completes 100 days on 11thApril, 2015. The last three months have been tremendous for the institution.
The Government has replaced Planning Commission with a new institution named NITI Aayog (National Institution for Transforming India).
NITI Aayog will provide Governments at the central and state levels with relevant strategic and technical advice across the spectrum of key elements of policy, this includes matters of national and international import on the economic front, dissemination of best practices from within the country as well as from other nations, the infusion of new policy ideas and specific issue-based support.
From its inception as a ‘Think Tank’ of the Government – a directional and policy dynamo to taking steps in liaising with States while fostering the spirit of cooperative federalism.
India & France Sign an MoU to Establish a Marine Biology Institute
Under the MOU India’sDepartment of Biotechnology would join hands with the Université Pierre Et Marie Curie (UPMC) and the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (France’s National Centre for Scientific Research- CNRS) to set up a the National Institute of Marine Biology and Biotechnology in India.
As a part of this France would contribute expertise in developing high standard marine stations for collaborative research programmes, train manpower, facilitate setting up efficient research infrastructure, facilities & technologies. Indian would bring interest & proficiency in cell & molecular biology & biotechnology.
This collaboration is expected to address this challenge by upgradinghuman resources, boosting capacity and sophisticated technology needed to explore high-speed and high-quality Ocean and island- biology at the highest international level.
Progress of North East Rural Livelihood Project
(GS-2-Welfare Schemes, Development)
North East Rural Livelihood Project, a central sector externally aided multi-state project was launched in March 2012.
The main objective of the project is to improve rural livelihoods, especially that of women, unemployed youth and the most disadvantaged in the four participating North East States.
The main thrusts of the project are to build community based organizations such as Self Help Groups (SHGs), SHG village Federations, Community Development Groups (CDGs), Producer Organizations etc. and strengthen the existing ones;
The financial achievement of the project for 2014-15 has been impressive.
Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana— A New Direction towards Empowerment of Youth
Skill and knowledge are the two driving forces of economic growth and social development for any country.
Countries with higher level of skills fare better to cope with the challenges of emerging economies in the present day world.
In any country, youth is primarily the focus for any program for skill development. Our country is better placed in this regard.We have a vast majority of population in the productive age group.
Thisprovides a great opportunity to India. It also poses a great challenge. Benefits will flow to our economy only if our population, particularly the youth, is healthy, educated and properly skilled.
Indiawith it’s an unrivalled youth demographic, is definitely poised for a big boost in terms of socio-economic development.
We have 605 million people below the age of 25.They can act as agents of change, by being empowered with various employable skills which will enable them to make impactnot only on their lives but also on the lives of other individuals.
The scheme is being implemented by the newly created Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship through the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC). It will cover 24 lakh youths.
The PMKVY, will primarily focus on the first time entrants to the labour market and target mainly drop outs from Class 10 and Class 12.
Skill and entrepreneurship development is one of the high priority areas of the present Government. The newly formed Ministry of Skill and Entrepreneurship Development, is to play a critical role in fulfilling the objectives of the‘Make in India’ campaign, a major initiative to turn India into a major manufacturing hub.
India has marked its presence as one of the fastest growing economies of the world. It is expected to rank amongst the world’s top three growth economies and amongst the top three manufacturing destinations by 2020.
With the help of favourable demographicfactors and sustained availability of quality workforce, our country is poised to make its imprint on global economy.
Monitoring one of the largest full immunization programmes of the world –About Mission Indradhanush
Under Mission Indradhanush, the Health Ministry has identified 201 high focus districts across the country that have the highest number of partially vaccinated and unvaccinated children.Mission Indradhanush is an initiative to vaccinate all unvaccinated and partially vaccinated children under the Universal Immunization Programme by 2020.
The Mission focuses on interventions to expand full immunization coverage in India from 65% in 2013 to at least 90% children in the next five years.
The programme provides immunization against seven life-threatening diseases (diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, polio, tuberculosis, measles and hepatitis B) in the entire country.
In addition, vaccination against Haemophilus influenza type B and Japanese Encephalitis is provided in select districts/states. This will be done through special catch-up campaigns to rapidly increase full immunization coverage of children by 5% and more annually.
Nearly 50% of all unvaccinated or partially vaccinated children are in these 201 districts. Of the 201 districts, 82 districts are concentrated in the four states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan and nearly 25% of the unvaccinated or partially vaccinated children of India are in these 82 districts of these four states.
These districts will be targeted for intensive efforts to improve the routine immunization coverage in the country.
The ultimate goal is to protect all children and pregnant women against vaccine preventable diseases in India
The following areas will be targeted through special immunization campaigns:
High risk areas identified by the polio eradication programme .These include populations living in areas such as:
1. Urban slums with migration
3. Brick kilns
4. Construction sites
5. Other migrants (fisherman villages, riverine areas with shifting populations etc.) and
6. Underserved and hard to reach populations (forested and tribal populations etc.)
Areas with low routine immunization (RI) coverage (pockets with Measles/vaccine preventable disease (VPD) outbreaks).
Areas with vacant sub-centers: No ANM posted for more than three months.
Areas with missed Routine Immunisation (RI) sessions: ANMs on long leave and similar reasons
Small villages, hamlets, dhanis or purbas clubbed with another village for RI sessions and not having independent RI sessions.
“Knowledge Based Information” To Farmers: Technology Based Initiatives in Agriculture Sector
The Government is implementing a Centrally Sponsored Scheme “National e-Governance Plan in Agriculture (NeGP-A)” in the entire country.
The Programme aims to achieve rapid development of agriculture in Indiathrough ICT enabled multiple delivery channels such as Internet, Government Offices, Touch Screen Kiosks, Krishi Vigyan Kendras, Kisan Call Centers, Agri-Clinics, Common Service Centers, Mobile Phones (Broadcast, IVRS, interactive messaging using unstructured Supplementary Service Data and Voice Recognition for ensuring timely access to agriculture related information for the farmers of the country.
A number of applications in agriculture and allied sector have been developed under the project for providing integrated ICT based services to farmers.
Knowledge based informationis being provided to farmers through a number of web and mobile based applications including the Farmers’ Portal (farmer.gov.in) (in beta version at present), mKisan Portal (www.mkisan.gov.in) and Kisan Call Centres (KCC).
These Portals are facilitating knowledge based information and advisories to farmers through an integrated web portal and mobile based platforms respectively.
Details of the activities in these applications include:
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Interventions:
SMS Portal/m-Kisan Portal
Kisan Call Centers
Strengthening of IT Apparatus in Agriculture and Cooperation in the States and Union Territories of which one of the components is AGRISNET.
Information relating to the natural calamities are being provided to district level under a number of initiatives taken by the Ministry and the India Meteorological Department (IMD):
Weather based Information regarding natural calamities disseminated to farmers under different programmes.
Right to Legal Aid-A Constitutional Commitment
Legal aid is free legal assistance to the poor and weaker sections of the society with the object to enable them to exercise the rights given to them by law.
The preamble of the Constitution secures to its citizen, social, economic and political justice.
Article 14 of the Constitution makes it clear that the State shall not deny to any person equality before law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.
Articles 38 and 39, of the Constitution of India lay down clear mandate in this regard. According to Article 38 (1) the State shall strive to promote the welfare of the people by securing and protecting as effectively as it may a social order in which justice, social, economic or political, shall inform all the institutions of the national life.
Article 39-A directs the State to ensure that the operation of the legal system promotes justice on a basis of equal opportunity and shall, in particular, provide free legal aid by suitable legislation or schemes or in any other way, to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disabilities.
Right to free legal aid or free legal service is an essential fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution. It forms the basis of reasonable, fair and just liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, which says, “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law”.
The Code of criminal Procedure and the Code of Civil Procedure also contain provisions in relation to the free legal aid. Section 304 makes it clear that the State is under an obligation to provide legal assistance to a person charged with offence triable before the Court of Session
A separate legislation, The Legal Services Authority Act, 1987 has been enacted to constitute the Legal Service Authorities to provide free and competent legal services to the weaker sections of the society.
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights also under Article14 (3)(d) guarantees to everyone: “Right to be tried in his presence, and to defend himself in person or through legal assistance of his own choosing; to be informed, if he does not have legal assistance, of this right; and to have legal assistance assigned to him, in any case where the interests of justice so require, and without payment by him in any such case if he does not have sufficient means to pay for it”
The major drawback of legal aid movement in India is the lack of legal awareness.
Organ Donation and Transplantation Provides Second Life
Organ donation and transplantation provides a second chance at life for thousands of people each year.
The growing disparity between the rich and poor, demand for human organs and availability of technology in the country makes the trading of organs a quick means to riches for some and a relief for others.
While 2.1 lakh Indians require kidney transplantation annually, but only 3000 – 4000 kidney transplants are done.
While annually around 4,000–5,000 patients in India require a heart transplant, so far only 100 heart transplants have been conducted across the country.
Finding a donor is the main issue in the country. Lack of awareness and improper infrastructure facilities are the main reasons behind the existing scenario
Government of India enacted the ‘Transplantation of Human Organs (Amendment) Act in 2011 which made provisions for simplifying the procedure for human organ donation.
The recently notified Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Rules (THOT),2014 has many provisions to remove the impediments to organ donation while curbing misuse/misinterpretation of the rules.
NOTTO-National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organization (NOTTO) is a National level organization.
NOTTO has following two divisions:
National Human Organ and Tissue Removal and Storage Network.
National Biomaterial Centre(National Tissue Bank)
Signing a donor card is the first step in making your wishes about donation known.
A donor card is not a legal document but an expression of one’s willingness to donate.
Vital organs such as heart, liver, lungs, kidneys, pancreas and intestines, and tissues such as corneas, heart valves, skin, bones, ligaments, tendons, veins, etc. can be donated in case of brain death.
The World Health Organization (WHO) in its statement on the sale of organs clearly states that it violates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as its own constitution: “The human body and its parts cannot be the subject of commercial transactions. Accordingly, giving or receiving payment for organs should be prohibited.”