ECI to Establish a New Campus of the IIIDEM
(GS, 2- RPA and Constitutional Bodies)
- The Election Commission of India (ECI) will be establishing an independent campus of the India International Institute of Democracy and Election Management (IIIDEM) at New Delhi.
- ECI has a requirement to train officials of the country for conducting elections of the largest democracy at different levels i.e. Parliament, State Assembly and Local Bodies.
- Additionally, ECI has signed MoUs with other Election Management Bodies (EMBs) of the world for exchange and training their officials in election management.
- The new campus would act on the immediacy of the requirement for a distinct institutional initiative on capacity building, research and knowledge management, and further promote a stronger and mature electoral culture in the country as well as globally.
North-East Industrial and Investment Promotion Policy
(GS, 3-Growth and Development)
- To promote industrialization in the States of North Eastern Region leading to overall growth of the region, the Government announced a package of fiscal incentives, namely the North East Industrial and Investment Promotion Policy (NEIIPP), 2007, for a period of 10 years.
- The Salient features of which are grant of
- Central Capital Investment Subsidy @ 30% of investment in Plant and Machinery,
- Central Interest Subsidy @ 3% of working capital loan availed for a period of 10 years from the date of commencement of commercial production (DOCP),
- reimbursement of insurance premium paid towards insurance of fixed capital assets for a period of 10 years from DOCP,
- Excise Duty exemptions for a period of 10 years from DOCP and
- Income Tax exemption for a period of 10 years from DOCP.
Intellectual Property System
(GS,3- IPR and issues)
- India continues to be placed on the Priority Watch List under the US Special 301 on account of USA’s assessment of Indian IPR protection being inadequate.
- The Special 301 Report issued by the United States under their Trade Act of 1974 is a unilateral measure to create pressure on countries to enhance IPR protection beyond the TRIPS agreement.
- Under the WTO regime, any dispute between two countries needs to be referred to the Dispute Settlement Body of the WTO and unilateral actions are not tenable under this regime.
- Special 301 which is an extra territorial application of the domestic law of a country is inconsistent with the established norms of the WTO.
Design, Dimension and Uniformity in Printing of Currency Notes
(GS, 3- Indian Economy)
- Notes of different denominations are printed by Presses of Security Printing and Minting Corporation of India Limited (SPMCIL), a wholly owned Central Public Sector Enterprise under the Department of Economic Affairs and Bharatiya Reserve Bank Note Mudran (P) Limited (BRBNMPL), a wholly owned subsidiary of Reserve Bank of India (RBI), as per the specifications/security features introduced as part of 2005 series banknotes.
- Under the provisions of the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934, RBI has the sole right to issue bank notes of denominational value of Rs. 2 and above.
- All bank notes are guaranteed by the Government of India.
- All bank notes issued by RBI are genuine and RBI is responsible for maintaining the quality of banknotes in circulation.
Social and Infrastructure Development Fund (SIDF)
(GS, 2 and 3- Policies for vulnerable section and social sector initiatives)
- Social and Infrastructure Development Fund(SIDF) was created with due approval of Cabinet.
- While presenting the Budget for 2007-08, the Finance Minister had announced a number of initiatives relating to social and infrastructure development which were proposed to be implemented with effect from the year 2007-08.
- The initiatives included Upgradation of 1396 ITIs, training of Farmers, Employment for Physically Challenged, Means cum-Merit Scholarships, Ground Water Recharge, Social Security through provision of death and disability insurance cover through LIC to rural landless households, and support to various institutes of Historical, Cultural, Economic and Agricultural significance, for improving infrastructure.
Role of Urban Cooperative Banks in Rural Segment
(GS, 3- Financial Inclusion)
- The Urban Cooperative Banks (UCBs) were initially permitted to operate within the urban/semi-urban centre only.
- However, as per the recommendations of the Marathe Committee, UCBs were allowed to extend the area of operation to semi-urban and urban centres and the peripheral rural areas within a distance of 10 kms from boundaries of these centres within the district of their registration in 1994.
- However, UCBs are now allowed to open branches anywhere in their approved area of operation and also permitted to finance agricultural (both direct and indirect) and the loans for agricultural activities are reckoned as priority sector advances.
Measures taken to deter Smoking and Tobacco Consumption
(GS,2 – Health Issues and Government initiatives)
The Government has taken a series of measures to deter people from consuming tobacco products, including the following:
- Enactment of the “Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, (COTPA) 2003”.
- Ratification of WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).
- Launch of the National Tobacco Control Programme (NTCP) in the year 2007-08.
- Issuance of the Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restrictions on Sales) Regulations, 2011 dated 1stAugust 2011, under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, which lays down that tobacco and nicotine shall not be used as ingredients in any food products.
- Notification to regulate depiction of tobacco products or their use in films and TV programmes.
- Public awareness campaigns through a variety of media.
- Increase in the Central Excise Duty and decrease in the dutyfree allowance of cigarettes and other tobacco products.
Introduction of Injectable Inactivated Polio Vaccination
(GS, 3- Science and Development, Biotechnology)
- The Government proposes to introduce injectable Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV) in its on-going Universal Immunization Programme (UIP) simultaneously with the existing Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) under the UIP.
- As a part of Polio Endgame Strategy, IPV is to be given as an additional dose at 14th week along with DPT3 & OPV3.
- National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI) has made the recommendation in its meeting held on 12th June 2014 regarding introduction of IPV as an additional dose at 14th week along with DPT3 & OPV3 under Universal Immunization Programme (UIP).
Women beneficiaries (pregnant & lactating mothers) of supplementary nutrition under ICDS Scheme
(GS, 2- Polices for vulnerable section, Women)
- The Union Ministry of Women & Child Development is implementing the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme through the State Governments/UT Administrations across the country.
- The scheme aims at holistic development of children below six years of age and pregnant and lactating mothers.
- A package of six services is provided under this scheme including Supplementary Nutrition to address the nutritional issues of children and Pregnant & Lactating mothers.
- Ministry of Women & Child Development is implementing Indira Gandhi MatritvaSahyogYojana (IGMSY), Conditional Maternity Benefit (CMB), a centrally sponsored scheme for pregnant and lactating (P&L) women to improve their health & nutrition status by providing cash incentives to pregnant and lactating mothers.
- The scheme is being implemented in 53 selected districts across the country.
- The structures under the ICDS are being used as the platform for implementation of IGMSY.
- This is supported by dedicated IGMSY cells created at the State and District level.
(GS, 2- Government Policies)
- These unique schemes would be path breaking initiatives towards providing social security at a very nominal cost to the millions of countrymen.
- These are designed to provide utmost convenience with auto debit facility from the bank account of the subscriber.
- Pradhan Mantri Suraksha BimaYojana and PM JivanJyotiBimaYojana would provide insurance to individuals in any unfortunate event causing death or disability.
- The Atal Pension Yojana would address the problem of income security during old age.
- There are millions of senior citizens who do not have any secure source of income during the ripe years of their life.
- These schemes have been designed in such a way as to provide a very convenient delivery mechanism.
- These schemes will also address issues like very low coverage of life or accident insurance as well as old age income security products in this vast country.
Amendments to the Electricity Act
(GS, 3- Energy and Infrastructure)
- The Union Cabinet has approved the proposals for amendment in Electricity Act, 2003 on 10th December, 2014 as contained in the Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2014.
- The amendments proposed in Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2014 seeks to end the monopoly of power distribution companies by segregating the carriage (distribution sector/network) from the content (electricity supply business) in the power sector by introducing multiple supply licensees so as to bring in further competition and efficiency in the distribution sector by giving choice to the consumers.
Use of New Power Technology
(GS, 3- Energy and Infrastructure)
- An Advanced Ultra Super Critical Technology R&D Project has been approved by Government at a cost of Rs.1500 Crore involving BHEL, NTPC and Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR) for enhanced efficiency of thermal generation.
- The objective of the scheme is to achieve higher efficiency, reduce carbon-dioxide emissions and reduce coal consumption for coal based power plants.
Clean Ganga Mission
(GS, 3- Environmental Conservation Policies)
- An Integrated Ganga Conservation Mission – ‘NamamiGange’ has been launched in June, 2014, which approaches Ganga Rejuvenation based on lessons learnt and by consolidating the existing ongoing efforts and planning for integrated and comprehensive action plan for ‘Short-term’ (3 years), ‘Medium-term’ (5 years) and ‘Long-term’ (10 years and more).
- The projects and activities under this plan include pollution abatement measures for different sources of pollution and other policy initiatives.
- A report on “Ganga River Basin Management Plan – 2015” has been prepared and submitted by the consortium of 7 Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), which has identified 7 thrust areas and 21 action points for the rejuvenation of Ganga and its tributaries.
Measures to Protect Security Data from Cyber Spying
(GS, 3- Cyber Security)
- Government has taken a number of steps to protect confidential information pertaining to Defence Sector from Cyber-attack including setting up of Cyber Operation Centres for threat management and mitigation as part of Framework for Enhancing Cyber Security of Indian Cyberspace.
- To protect important and confidential data from Cyber-attack, the operational networks of the Armed Forces are air gapped from internet.
- Further, Defence Services have established Cyber Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) to prevent and react to cyber-attacks.
- Safeguards have been instituted in the form of audits and physical checks.
- Policies, guidelines and procedures are laid down and cyber security advisories are issued from time to time.
Affordable Drugs for Hepatitis C
(GS, 3- Bio-technology and Health)
- The figures of Hepatitis C affected Indians who could not afford medical treatment are not collected centrally.
- However, the cost of treatment for Hepatitis C is high for the cases which require treatment.
- The Government of India has launched a National Programme for prevention and control of viral Hepatitis during 12thFive Year Plan period under which the activities undertaken, inter alia, are:
- Laboratory network for laboratory based surveillance of viral hepatitis in different geographical locations of India, in a phased manner.
- Setting up of one Reference Laboratory at National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Delhi.
- Training and capacity building of professionals in relevant sectors, like Microbiologists, Laboratory Technicians, data Managers and Field Workers.
- Laboratory support for outbreak investigation of hepatitis through established network of laboratories.
- Development of guidelines and creating awareness for prevention and control and treatment of blood borne and water borne hepatitis.
- Information Education and communications (IEC) for dissemination of information about prevention and control of viral hepatitis.
Measures Taken to Eradicate AIDS Disease
(GS, 2 -Social Sector Initiatives, Health Issues)
The National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) has taken following key steps to prevent and control the HIV epidemic in the country:-
- Revised Migrant Strategy with focus at Destination, Transit & Source and Employer-led Model to address vulnerabilities of migrant labour.
- Scale up of Opioid Substitution Therapy at Public Health settings to control HIV among IDU & sensitization of law enforcement agencies.
- For elimination of HIV infections among children, lifelong ARV to HIV positive pregnant women for prevention of Parent to Child Transmission of HIV has been rolled out.
- In certain pockets of high prevalence states where HIV prevalence among FSW and MSM continues to be high, emphasis is given to sustain the higher coverage of targeted interventions and improve the quality of outreach.
- Scale-up of free 1stline and 2nd line Anti retroviral Treatment for People living with HIV and strengthening supply chain management of drugs.
- National Helplinewas launched to facilitate easy dissemination of information related to HIV/AIDS to general public, People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV), High Risk Groups (HRG) and vulnerable population in 8 Indian languages.
- Considering the fact that combination of multi-drug in a single pill is very effective, well tolerated, so once a-daily fixed dose regimen (FDC) has been rolled out in a single pill ARV drug among the 1stline treatment patients.
- Mainstreaming and partnerships is recognized as a key approach in National AIDS Control Programme
Implemention of RashtriyaArogyaNidhi (RAN)
(GS, 2- Social Sector Initiatives)
- The RashtriyaArogyaNidhi (RAN) has been registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860, as a Society.
- The RAN was set up to provide financial assistance to patients, living below poverty line and who are suffering from major life threatening diseases, to receive medical treatment at any of the super speciality Hospitals/Institutes or other Government hospitals.
- The financial assistance to such patients is released in the form of ‘one-time grant’, which is released to the Medical Superintendent of the Hospital in which the treatment has been/is being received.
Foreign Institutions Funding NGOs without Clearance
(GS, 2- NGO’s and Issues)
- Foreign donor agencies are not required to seek clearance from the Ministry of Home Affairs for funding Non-Governmental Organisations/individuals, as only NGOs working in India are required to seek registration or obtain prior permission under the provisions of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 2010 from Ministry of Home Affairs.
- There were inputs from various agencies that certain amounts have been credited from certain foreign institutions/agencies to some Indian NGOs which are not registered under the provisions of FCRA, 2010.
- Hence, to keep a watch on such recipients, the credits from such foreign institutions/agencies have been put under prior reference category under FCRA, 2010.
- On various occasions since December 2011, 16 donor agencies have been put in prior reference category.
World Bank Assistance for Tourist Circuit of Mathura-VrindavanBraj Areas
(GS, 2- International Organizations and India)
- The Uttar Pradesh Pro Poor Tourism Development Project has been approved by the Screening Committee of the Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance and has been posed to the World Bank for an external assistance of USD 210 million.
- The above project aims to contribute to improving living conditions and increasing income opportunities for poor through enhanced tourism development in selected destinations in the Buddhist Circuit, Braj region and Agra.
- The Project will leverage resources through advisory and technical assistance and financing for institutional strengthening, asset rehabilitation, infrastructure and services along the Buddhist Circuit and Braj Agra Corridor.
Curbing the Illegal Mining of Iron-Ore and Bauxite
(GS, 3- Energy Resources)
- As per section 23C of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 state governments have been empowered to make rules for prevention of illegal mining and for purposes connected therewith.
- Therefore, matters relating to regulation and control of illegal mining, etc are all matters which lie in the domain of state governments.
- However, the Ministry of Mines in co-ordination with State Governments has been checking and taking the steps to curb and check illegal mining in the Country.
Promotion and Conservation of Vast Mineral Resources
(GS, 3- Energy Resources)
- As per National Mineral Policy 2008, conservation of mineral shall be construed not in the restrictive sense of abstinence from consumption or preservation for use in the distant future but as a positive concept leading to augmentation of reserve base through improvement in mining methods, beneficiation and utilisation of low grade ore and rejects and recovery of associated minerals.
- The Government is aiming for an adequate and effective legal and institutional framework mandating zero waste mining as the ultimate goal and a commitment to prevent sub-optimal and unscientific mining.
- Mineral Sectoral value addition through latest technique of beneficiation, calibration, blending, sizing, concentration, pelletisation, purification and general customising of product is being encouraged.
- The Government has amended the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) (MMDR) Act 1957, through the MMDR Amendment Act 2015 with effect from 12.1.2015, for promoting the mining sector.