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IASbaba Press Information Bureau (PIB)- 1st Feb to 7th Feb, 2016

  • February 9, 2016
  • 8
IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis, IASbaba's Daily News Analysis, PIB
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GS-1

Rashtrapati Bhavan’s annual “Udyanotsav”

(Topic: Indian Culture, salient aspects of art forms, literature and architecture from ancient to modern)

  • The World famous Mughal Gardens will remain open for general public from February 12 to March 19, 2016 (except on Mondays which are maintenance days)
  • Members of the public will also be able to visit the Spiritual Garden, Herbal Garden, Bonsai Garden and Musical Garden

What’s unique in this year’s Udyanotsav—

  • Exhibition Stalls will be set up near the Spiritual Garden displaying models of organic cultivation farms as well as organic fresh vegetables and fruits grown in the President’s Estate Organic Farm
  • Vermi-compost and Masala Stall set up by women Self Help Groups of Rashtrapati Bhavan

 

Heritage development Projects (Andhra Pradesh, Telangana) Approved 

(Topic: India Heritage and Culture)

Approved by- Ministry of Urban Development

 

Aim- Improving tourist infrastructure in heritage places of Amaravati in Andhra Pradesh and Warangal in Telangana

Heritage Park-

  • An inter-Ministerial HRIDAY National Empowered Committee approved development of a Heritage Park in Amaravati besides developmental works at 1000 Pillar Temple and Kazipet Durgah and rejuvenation of pond at Padmakshi Temple in Warangal city
  • In Amaravati, Heritage Park will be developed over an area of 3.50 acres opposite Dhyan Buddha Statue
  • Exhibition Halls and shops will be used to promote to local art and handicrafts and other products

 

Importance of Amaravati and Warangal-

Amaravati and Warangal are among the 12 cities included in the Heritage Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY) for improving social, cultural and economic ecosystems by augmenting necessary infrastructure

Objective: Conserving the rich cultural heritage and enabling better facilities for tourists and pilgrims

 

GS-2

Vietnam Lifts Ban on Import of Indian Groundnut- Major Step Forward in Securing Market Access 

(Topic: Import and Export polices of India)

About-

  • Vietnam has formally lifted the ban on import of Indian Groundnut, thereby providing market access after nine months
  • Vietnam Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development (MARD) have formally stated that Plant Protection Department of Vietnam (PPD) will issue import permits for groundnuts for January 18th 2016
  • Delegation was satisfied after seeing fumigation facilities, export procedures and export certification system for export of groundnuts export from India, as per the Standard Operating Procedure developed by Directorate of plant Protection, Quarantine and Storage, Faridabad.

Issue- Vietnam had temporarily suspended import of groundnuts from India due to interceptions of quarantine pests living Caryedon serratus and Trogodrma granarium intercepted in consignments of groundnuts exported since January, 2015

Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act 

(Topic: Government Policies and its implementation)

 

Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) completes ten years of implementation on 2nd February 2016

Success Scenario-

  • Percentage of Scheduled Caste workers has consistently been about 20% and Scheduled Tribe workers have been about 17%
  • A total of 1,980.01 croreperson days have been generated, out of which the percentage worked by women has steadily increased much above the statutory minimum of 33%
  • Sustainable assets have been created linked to conservation of natural resources and overall development of Gram Panchayats
  • More than 65% of the workstaken up under the programme are linked to agriculture and allied activities

Revival of the Programme

  • Revival has been achieved due to a slew of reforms undertaken by the Ministry of Rural Development
  • Most important of these has been the timely release of funds to states to provide work on demand
  • Electronic fund management system has been successfully instituted which allows for real time and transparent release of funds to implementing agencies and beneficiaries
  • Consistent coordination between banks and post offices and constant monitoring of pendency of payments has led to a reduction in wage delays.

 

Steps to be taken-  

  • Simplification and strengthening of procedures for the implementation of the MGNREGA as an employment guarantee
  • Consolidation of all key instructions from the Central Government on the implementation of the Act
  • States are encouraged to innovate with flexibility
  • Convergent planning exercise currently underway in 2569 backward blocks in the country will be consolidated in the State Rural Development Plan (SRDP) which will be the basis of implementation and monitoring for the coming year
  • Concurrent social audits and community monitoring will be undertaken
  • Renewed focus on sustainable individual assets to benefit the poor and vulnerable households with the following targets-
  • 5 Lakh farm ponds and 10 Lakh Vermi
  • NADEP compost pits in the FY 2016-17
  • Continued focus on construction of Anganwadi Buildings and individual household latrines
  • Focus on imparting skills to workers aim to train and place 10,000 Barefoot Technicians from worker households and through Project LIFE, skill and train workers for wages, for self-employment and livelihood upgradation
  • To address the distress situation of droughts in nine states Ministry declared an additional 50 days of employment in the drought affected areas

 

Rurban Mission, Kerala 

(Topic:  Governments policies and steps for development of rural areas)

  • Ensuring availability of amenities to rural populace is on the top priority of the central government as 69% of India’s population resides in villages
  • Focused approach to make qualitative improvement in rural lives is being adopted through effective implementation, better outreach and continuous monitoring

 

Rurban Mission-      

  • Clusters of 15-20 villages having about 30 to 40 lakh population will be developed
  • Clusters will be geographically contiguous Gram Panchayats with a population of about 25000 to 50000 in plain and coastal areas and a population of 5000 to 15000 in desert, hilly or tribal areas
  • Clusters of village would follow administrative convergence units of Gram Panchayats
  • For the selection of clusters, the Ministry of Rural Development is adopting a scientific process of cluster selection which involves an objective analysis at the District, Sub District and Village level, of the  demography, economy, tourism and pilgrimage significance and transportation corridorimpact
  • Transform rural areas to economically, socially and physically sustainable spaces that will be launched from Kerala
  • In first year: 100 Rurban growth clusters will be developed

Aims-

  • To create 300 such clusters over the next 3 years, across the country
  • Funding for Rurban Clusters will be through various schemes of the Government converged into the cluster
  • To ensure an optimum level of development, fourteen components have been suggested as desirable for the cluster, which would include- Skill development training linked to economic activities
  • SPMRM will provide an additional funding support of upto 30 percent of the project cost per cluster as Critical Gap Funding (CGF) as Central Share to enable development of such Rurban clusters
  • Help check migration from villages in search of livelihood, uprooting family fabric
  • Annual plan for each Panchayat will be drafted and Village Panchayats will be given financial and administrative powers

 

Health Ministry issues guidelines on Zika Virus Disease 

(Topic: Issues relating to development and management of social services relating to health, education, human resources)

Disease transmitted through

  • Bite of an infected Aedes mosquito
  • Same mosquito that is known to transmit infections like dengue and chikungunya
  • Zika virus was first identified in Uganda in 1947

World Health Organization-

  • Reported 22 countries and territories in Americasfrom where local transmission of Zika virus has been reported
  • Microcephaly in the newborn and other neurological syndromes (Guillain Barre Syndrome) have been found temporally associated with Zika virus infection
  • There are a number of genetic and other causes for microcephaly and neurological syndromes like Guillain Barre Syndrome
  • Zika virus disease has the potential for further international spread given the wide geographical distribution of the mosquito vector, a lack of immunity among population in newly affected areas and the high volume of international travel
  • World Health Organization has declared Zika virus disease to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) on 1stFebruary, 2016

In India-

  • Disease has not been reported in India
  • However, the mosquito that transmits Zika virus, namely Aedes aegypti , that also transmits dengue virus,  is widely prevalent in India

Symptoms-

  • Those infected with Zika virus disease either remain asymptomatic (up to 80%) or show mild symptoms of fever, rash, conjunctivitis, body ache, joint pains
  • Zika virus infection should be suspected in patients reporting with acute onset of fever, maculo-papular rash and arthralgia, among those individuals who travelled to areas with ongoing transmission during the two weeks preceding the onset of illness

Medication-

  • No vaccine or drug available to prevent/ treat Zika virus disease at present

Spread over-

  • Disease has been reported so far in the following countries- Brazil, Barbados, Bolivia, Columbia, Dominican Republic, Equador, El Salvador, French Guyana. Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, St Martin, Suriname, Virgin Island  and Venezuela. It may be noted   that this list is likely to change with time

Enhanced Surveillance  

    Community based Surveillance

  • Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) through its community and hospital based data gathering mechanism would track clustering of acute febrile illness   and seek  primary case, if any,  among those who travelled to areas with ongoing transmission in the 2 weeks preceding the onset of illness
  • IDSP would also advise its State and District level units to look for clustering of cases of microcephaly among new-borns and reporting of Gullian Barre Syndrome
  • Maternal and Child Health Division (under NHM) would also advise its field units to look for clustering of cases of microcephaly among new-borns.

International Airports/ Ports

  • All the International Airports / Ports will display billboards/ signage providing information to travellers on Zika virus disease and to report to Custom authorities if they are returning from affected countries and suffering from febrile illness
  • Airport / Port Health Organization (APHO / PHO) would have quarantine / isolation facility in identified Airports
  • Directorate General of Civil Aviation, Ministry of Civil Aviation  will be asked to instruct all international airlines to follow the recommended aircraft disinfection guidelines
  • APHOs shall circulate guidelines for aircraft disinfection (as per International Health Regulations) to all the international airlines and monitor appropriate vector control measures with the assistance from NVBDCP in airport premises and in the defined perimeter

Rapid Response Teams

  • Rapid Response Teams (RRTs) shall be activated at Central and State surveillance units. Each team would comprise an epidemiologist / public health specialist, microbiologist and a medical / paediatric specialist and other experts (entomologist  etc) to travel at short notice  to investigate suspected outbreak
  • National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Delhi would be the nodal agency for investigation of outbreak in any part of the country.

 

Laboratory Diagnosis

  • NCDC, Delhi and National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune, have the capacity to provide laboratory diagnosis of Zika virus disease in acute febrile stage
  • These two institutions would be the apex laboratories to support the outbreak investigation and for confirmation of laboratory diagnosis
  • Ten additional laboratories  would be strengthened by ICMR to expand the scope of laboratory diagnosis
  • RT- PCR test would remain the standard test. As of now there is no commercially available test for Zika virus disease. Serological tests are not recommended

Risk Communication

  • States/ UT Administrations would create increased awareness among clinicians including obstetricians, paediatricians and neurologists about Zika virus disease and its possible link with adverse pregnancy outcome (foetal loss, microcephaly etc)
  • There should be enhanced vigilance to take note of travel history to the affected countries in the preceding two weeks
  • Public needs to be reassured that there is no cause for undue concern
  • Central/ State Government shall take all necessary steps to address the challenge of this infection working closely with technical institutions, professionals and global health partners

Vector Control

  • There would be enhanced integrated vector management. The measures undertaken for control of dengue/ dengue hemorrhagic fever will be further augmented
  • Guidelines for the integrated vector control will stress on vector surveillance (both for adult and larvae), vector management through environmental modification/ manipulation; personal protection, biological and chemical control at household, community and institutional levels. Details are at Annexure-I
  • States where dengue transmission is going on currently due to conducive weather conditions (Kerala, Tamil Nadu etc) should ensure extra vigil

 

  Travel Advisory

  • Non-essential travel to the affected countries to be deferred/ cancelled
  • Pregnant women or women who are trying to become pregnant should defer/ cancel their travel to the affected areas
  • All travellers to the affected countries/ areas should strictly follow individual protective measures, especially during day time, to prevent mosquito bites (use of mosquito repellent cream, electronic mosquito repellents, use of bed nets, and dress that appropriately covers most of the body parts)
  • Persons with co-morbid conditions (diabetes, hypertension, chronic respiratory illness, Immune disorders etc) should seek advice from the nearest health facility, prior to travel to an affected country
  • Travelers having febrile illness within two weeks of return from an affected country should report to the nearest health facility
  • Pregnant women who have travelled to areas with Zika virus transmission should mention about their travel during ante-natal visits in order to be assessed and monitored appropriately.

Non-Governmental Organizations

  • Ministry of Health &FW / State Health Departments would work closely with Non-Governmental organizations such as Indian / State Medical Associations, Professional bodies etc to sensitize clinicians both in Government and private sector about Zika virus disease
  • Based on available evidence, World Health Organization  is not recommending any  travel or trade restrictions

Co-ordination with International Agencies

  • National Centre for Disease Control, Delhi, the Focal Point for International Health Regulations (IHR), would seek/ share information with the IHR focal points of the affected countries and be in constant touch with World Health Organization for updates on the evolving epidemic

Research

  • Indian Council of Medical Research would identify the research priorities and take appropriate action

Monitoring

  • Situation would be monitored by the Joint Monitoring group under Director General of Health Services on regular basis
  • Guidelines will be updated from time to time as the emerging situation demands

 

Report of the Companies Law Committee 

(Topic: Constitutional Committees and Recommendations)

Companies Law Committee was constituted in June 2015 for examining and making recommendations on the issues arising out of implementation of the Companies Act, 2013

Recommendations cover significant areas of the Act, including –

  • Definitions,
  • Raising of capital,
  • Accounts and audit,
  • Corporate governance,
  • Managerial remuneration, c
  • Companies incorporated outside India and offences/ penalties

Some of the key changes proposed are listed below-

  • Managerial remuneration to be approved by shareholders. [s. 197, 198]
  • Modify definition of associate company and subsidiary company to ensure that ‘equity share capital’ is the basis for deciding holding-subsidiary relationship rather than “both equity and preference share capital”. [s. 2]
  • Private placement process to be substantially simplified, doing away with separate offer letter, making valuation details public, details/record of applicants to be kept by company and to be filed as part of return of allotment only, and reducing number of filings to Registrar. [s. 42]
  • Incorporation process to be made easier and allow greater flexibility to companies: An unrestricted objects clause to be allowed in the Memorandum of Association dispensing with detailed listing of objects, self-declarations to replace affidavits from subscribers to memorandum and first directors; changes also in various Forms. [s. 4, 7]
  • Provisions relating to forward dealing and insider trading to be omitted from Companies Act. Listed companies are covered under SEBI Act/Regulations. [s. 194, 195]
  • Companies may give loans to entities in which directors are interested after passing special resolution and adhering to disclosure requirement. [s. 185]
  • Restriction on layers of subsidiaries and investment companies to be removed. [s. 2(87), 186(1)]
  • Change in the definition of term ‘relative’ for determining disqualification of auditor [s. 141]
  • Rationalize penal provisions with reduced liability for procedural and technical defaults. Penal provisions for small companies to be reduced [ various sections]
  • No filing fees if financial statements and annual returns filed within prescribed time. [s. 403]
  • Auditor to report on internal financial controls with regard to financial statements. [s. 143]
  • Frauds less than Rs. 10 Lakh to be compoundable offences. Other frauds to be continued to be non-compoundable[s. 447]
  • Reducing requirement for maintaining deposit repayment reserve account from 15% each for last two years to 20% during the maturing year
  • Foreign companies having insignificant/incidental transactions through electronic mode to be exempted from registering and compliance regime under Companies Act, 2013. [s.  379]
  • Disclosures in the Directors’ Report to be simplified and duplications with SEBI’s disclosure requirements and financial statements to be removed while retaining the informative content for shareholders. [s. 134, Rules]
  • Increased threshold for unlisted companies for compliance in context of requirement for Independent Directors (IDs), Audit Committee and Nomination and Remuneration Committee. [s. 149, 177, 178]
  • Test of materiality to be introduced for pecuniary interest for testing independence of ID; thresholds for relatives’ pecuniary interest to be revised to make it more practical. [s. 149]
  • Requirement for a managerial person to be resident in India for twelve months prior to appointment to be done away with. [Schedule V]
  • Disclosures in the prospectus required under the Companies Act and SEBI Regulations to be aligned, with a view to make these simpler, by allowing prescriptions to be as per SEBI Regulations. [s. 26]
  • ESOPs to be allowed to promoters working as employees/directors [s.62, Rules]
  • Limit on sweat equity to be raised from 25% of paid up capital to 50% for start-ups. [s.54]
  • Recognition of the concept of beneficial owner of a company proposed in the Act. Register of beneficial owners to be maintained by a company, and filed with the Registrar. [new section]
  • Provisions with regard to consolidation of accounts to be reviewed and those with respect to attachment of standalone accounts of foreign subsidiaries to be relaxed in certain cases. [s. 129, 136]
  • Re-opening of accounts to be limited to 8 years. [s. 130]
  • Mandatory requirement of taking up some items only through postal ballot to be relaxed in case of a company that is required to provide electronic voting at its General Meetings. [s. 110]
  • Requirement for annual ratification of appointment/continuance of auditor to be removed. [s. 139]

 (Try to remember only the most imp. Points)

 

Works Module of Indian Railways E-Procurement System (IREPS) and Implementation of ‘e-Tendering in Works Contracts’ 

(Topic: Government Policies, Railway and e-technology)     

Developed by– Railways in association with Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS), an IT arm of Ministry of Railways

Aim-

To bring transparency and efficiency in tender process for carrying out Works Contracts of Indian Railways

Highlights-

  • Inaugural ceremony was accomplished by Railway Minister launching one tender for construction of washing line with catwalk and pit at Varanasi Station and other miscellaneous works in connection with Varanasi yard remodelling work
  • Step towards IT enablement of Indian Railways- Saves time & brings transparency at global benchmark

Help-

  • E-Connectivity will bring huge benefit as transparent process will bring people closer to the Railways
  • Portal will enable railways to implement e-governance in Works Contract with facilities like-
  • Creation and publication of tenders online,
  • Enable tenderers to view tenders,
  • Submit their requisite amount and bid offers online
  • Facilitate instant online creation of comparative chart and briefing note
  • Lead to reduction in hassles related to-
  • Tendering process,
  • Saving in cost and time,
  • Increase in ease of working,
  • Increase in efficiency,
  • Increase in competition,
  • Reduction in complaint related to tendering and easy access to information
  • Introduced few new concepts like online creation and maintenance of SOR (Schedule of Rates) and Non-Schedule directories, standardization of tender conditions and interactive documents and better document management system

 

Salient Features-

  • In view of enabling e-governance and transparency in Railways it was decided to implement ‘e-tendering in Works Contract’
  • Maintenance upgradation of existing assets and creation of new assets needs a huge involvement of Works tenders
  • Manual handling of huge volume of tenders has its own shortcomings like being time consuming, lack of uniformity, constraints on bidders in submitting their bids etc
  • To increase the efficiency and bring more transparency in tendering system, ‘e-tendering in Works Contract’ is being introduced through newly developed IT applications
  • Application will go a long way in increasing efficiency and effectiveness of Indian Railways system
  • Application will facilitate all tendering departments of Railway viz. Engineering, Mechanical, Electrical, Signalling & Telecom, Commercial, Health etc

Benefits to Bidders 

  • Free access to information about tenders/ Corrigenda issued by all Railway Departments/ Units
  • Submission of Payments and bid offers online
  • Easy access to comparative statements
  • Work from the comforts of your office / home and Choose time as per your convenience

 

Progress of Jal Kranti Abhiyan reviewed 

(Topic: Government Policies and its Implementation)

Initiated by- Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation

Aim- Creating awareness on aspects of water security and water conservation

Jal Kranti Abhiyan-

  • Two villages, preferably facing acute water scarcity are being selected as “Jal Grams”
  • An integrated water security plan, water conservation, water management and allied activities are being planned for these villages by Panchayat level committee to ensure optimum and sustainable utilization of water
  • Totally 1348 villages have to be identified in 674 districts, out of which 1001 have been selected as Jal Grams in the country
  • Senior officials from CWC and CGWB who are nodal agencies for implementation have been directed to take up issue with State Governments whenever Jal Gram selection has been slow
  • From each Jal Grams, one elected representative of Panchayat and one representative of the water users association are being identified as Jal Mitra/ Neer Nari
  • Training is being imparted to them to create mass awareness about issue pertaining to water as well as providing necessary guidance in tackling water supply related routine issues
  • Card known as Sujalam Card (with the logo “Water Saved, Water Produced) is being prepared for every Jal gram which would provide the yearly status/information on availability of water for the village from all sources
  • A committee has been formed at village level and block level for implementation and monitoring of works under Jal gram, Block level, District level and State level committees have also been set up in the states to monitor the progress of Jal Gram

 

DIPP and Qualcomm announce “QPrize™ – Make in India” contest for Start Ups 

(Topic: Government Policies and its Implementation and steps taken for its promotion)

About-

  • In support of the Make in India Week, the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP) and Qualcomm Incorporated (NASDAQ: QCOM), through its venture investment arm, Qualcomm Ventures, announced India’s largest start-up contest “QPrize Make in India” awarding US$ 350,000 in equity investment as prize money for the winning company
  • Qualcomm has supported Prime Minister Modi’s vision of Make in India by recently announcing Qualcomm Design in India Initiative
  • Supporting vision by announcing the “QPrize Make in India” special edition contest to energize the start-up ecosystem to join this movement towards creation of a local product design and manufacturing ecosystem

Aim- To catalyse Indian entrepreneurs and start up community to drive the entire value chain from innovation to manufacturing in India

 

CBDT Signs Two Bilateral Advance Pricing Agreements (APAs) With United Kingdom 

(Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India)

About-

Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has entered into two bilateral Advance Pricing Agreements (APAs) with United Kingdom

CBDT has concluded by signing three bilateral APAs-

  • A bilateral APA signed with Japan
  • Two bilateral APAs were signed with two Indian group entities of a UK based Multi-National Company (MNC)

 

Key Highlights-

  • APAs have been entered into soon after the Competent Authorities of India and United Kingdom finalised the terms of the bilateral arrangement under the Mutual Agreement Procedure (MAP) process contained in the India-UK DTAA
  • APAs cover the period: 2013-14 to 2017-18 and also have a “Rollback” provision for 2 years (2011-12 and 2012-13)
  • Transfer pricing disputes on the same transaction were recently resolved under MAP for each of these two companies for the years 2006-07 to 2010-11
  • With the signing of the bilateral APAs, the two Indian companies have been provided with tax certainty for 12 years each (5 years under MAP and 7 years under APA)
  • CBDT has so far signed 41 APAs out of which 38 are unilateral and 3 are bilateral.

 

Helpful-

  • Providing a stable and predictable tax regime
  • Address the issues of payment of management & service charges and payment of royalty
  • Transactions generally face prolonged and multi-layered transfer pricing disputes

 

Training Programme Inaugurated as Part of Indo-Thai Geo Spatial Cooperation Project 

(Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India)

Foregrounds-

  • Seven trainees from Thailand started their 4-week long training at Indian Institute of Surveying and Mapping (IISM) of Survey of India as part of Indo-Thai Geo Spatial Cooperation Project
  • Trainees are from Geo informatics & Space Technology Development Agency (GISTDA), Thailand
  • Monitored by: Department of Science & Technology on behalf of Government of India
  • Cooperation project seeks to—
    • Share and demonstrate capabilities and expertise gained by the Survey of India in Urban Mapping by undertaking survey of a chosen town of area about 100 sq km, in Thailand
    • For imparting training in surveying and mapping techniques by the officials of GISTDA at the Indian Institute of Surveying and Mapping (IISM)

Project Upshot-

  • Memorandum of understanding was signed in 2013 during the visit of the Prime Minister of India to the Thailand between Royal Kingdom of Thailand and Government of India
  • Ideates cooperation between the two countries in the field of Science, Technology and Education

 

Programme Undertakings –

  • During this one month they will be taking training in different specialization of surveying and mapping like-
  • Photogrammetric,
  • Geodesy and
  • Topographical mapping
  • After the training, will use the knowledge gained during the training for various types of mapping including the urban mapping in that land

 

llSM-

  • Established in 1967, a pioneer institute in ‘lndia’ in the field of training in Surveying and Mapping
  • Trained more than 30000 Indian personnel at various levels and more than 600 from other Asian-African country in field of Survey and Mapping
  • Officers and Personnel from almost all state government came regularly to llSM

SOl, the India premier national mapping agency, is serving the country for nearly past 250 years by generating and providing the quality geospatial data and map to the country

 

India Signs an Agreement to Become an Associate Member State of European Molecular Biology Organisation 

(Topic: Bilateral, Regional and Global groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests)

 About-

  • India through the Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology signed a Cooperation Agreement to acquire the status of the Associate Member State European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO)
  • After the signing of an agreement with Singapore by EMBC in July 2015, India will now become second such country outside the European region

Aim-

  • Strengthen scientific interaction and collaborative research between India and Europe in this field EMBO is an organization of more than 1700 leading researchers that promotes excellence in the life sciences
  • To support talented researchers at all stages of their careers, stimulate the exchange of scientific information

EMBC-

  • Movement was started in 1964 as European Molecular Biology Conference (EMBC)and subsequently it got intergovernmental funding
  • With this India as an EMBC Associate Member State, researchers working in India are now eligible to participate in all EMBO programmes and activities
  • Indian scientists can apply to EMBO’s programmes, such as-
  • Long-term fellowships for postdoctoral researchers,
  • Short-term fellowships,
  • Courses and workshops,
  • EMBO Young Investigator Programme

Europe will benefit from networking with the top-level scientists in India’s research community

 

12th South Asian Games 

(Topic:  Sports)

Held in – Guwahati & Shillong from 5th Feb, 2016 to 16-Feb-2016

Highlights-

  • Biggest sporting extravaganza ever held in the North East India
  • First ever gender equal South Asian Games with men & women participation in all the sports
  • Participants- SAARC nations namely Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka

SAARC-

  • Comprise 21% of the world’s total population and around 9.12% of Global economy
  • SAARC is a platform for the people of South Asia to work together in a spirit of friendship, trust and understanding so as to achieve lasting peace and prosperity of its member nations and South Asian Games play a vital role in achieving this objective

Games logo, Mascot, Song

  • Symbolizes peace, progress & prosperity in the region
  • Consists of 8 petals representing the 8 countries participating in the Games
  • Colors of petals are from the flags of the 8 countries

 

Mascot: “TIKHOR”, a Baby rhino

  • TIKHOR is someone who is Sharp, Naughty, Sporty & Modern and is a Motivator, friend and messenger of peace, progress & prosperity

Theme song: ‘Ei Prithibi Ekhon Krirangon, Krira Hol Shantir Prangon’ sung by the world famous musician late Dr. Bhupen Hazarika

  • Song means that the whole world is a playground and sports is a symbol of peace
  • Song is being translated in official languages of all SAARC nations and will be sung in each of these languages

 

Government to bring amendment to raise to 50 % reservation for women in panchayats from existing 33% in coming Budget Session

(Topic: Constitutional Amendments, Reservation and Women Empowerment)

  • Government to push amendments for increasing to 50 per cent the reservation for women in Panchayats from 33 percent in the coming Budget session of Parliament
  • Some States had provided 50 per cent reservation to women in Panchayats, but through the Constitutional Amendment, it will be implemented in the whole country

 

PESA-

  • On the basis of the report of the Bhuria Committee submitted in 1995, PESA was enacted in 1996 to extend Part IX of the Constitution with certain modifications and exceptions to Fifth Schedule areas in 108 districts in 10 States
  • Need faster implementation of the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) PESA Act by states for the uplift of tribal
    • Enhance people’s participation in decision making at local level as tribal population will feel more comfortable to raise their issues and concerns in smaller Gram Sabhas at village level rather than at Gram Panchayat level
    • Will have a positive impact in preventing and checking extremism and resentment among tribal population if implemented effectively

Discussions included-

  • Framing of PESA Model Rules;
  • Compliance of the provisions of the State Panchayati Raj Acts and Subject Laws with provisions of the PESA Act; e
  • Empowerment of Gram Sabha;
  • Strategies for capacity building;
  • Infrastructure and staff in Gram Panchayats and effective utilisation of grant of Fourteenth Finance Commission awards etc

 

National Arogya Fair-2016

(Topic: Development and Management of Social Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resource)

Organized by: Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, Sowa Rigpa & Homoeopathy (AYUSH) in collaboration with the State government of Uttarakhand and the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII)

  • AROGYA fair has grown into a country-wide phenomenon with more than 10 fairs organized throughout the year now
  • To create awareness among the people about the uses of the AYUSH Systems, their cost-effectiveness and the availability of herbs and plants used for prevention and treatment of common ailments at their door-steps through various mass-media channels to achieve the objective of Health for all

Importance-

  • Over the past three decades, there has been a tremendous resurgence of World’s interest in the AYUSH Systems of Medicine, including countries in Europe and USA
  • It is mainly because of holistic approach towards preventive, promotive and positive health and multi-dimensional aspects of disease management in these traditional systems of medicine
  • In this regard signed several MoUs for bilateral cooperation in the area of traditional medicine and setting up Ayurveda chairs and AYUSH information centres in various countries, such as South Africa, Malaysia and Trinidad & Tobago, the Minister disclosed

 

Help:

  • To create a strong healthcare system in the hills
  • AYUSH System of medicine is also more economical
  • Growing herbs and medicinal plants can create employment opportunities in the hills, especially when it is linked with industry requirements in an integrated manner

Highlights of Session-

  • Large varieties of health products for treating diabetes, blood pressure, joint pains, heart diseases, geriatric problems and common ailments are on display at the Fair
  • Free Learning Sessions are being organized for visitors with themes like Panchakarma, Homeopathy for Women’s disorders, ‘Yog se Arogya’ and Management of Non-Communicable Diseases in Siddha System, treatment of lifestyle diseases like diabetes through AYUSH, and many more
  • Focus on role of Dincharya and Pathyapathya for maintenance, Siddha Medicine – basic principles, Stress and Homoeopathy etc

  

Labour and Employment Ministry Sign Eight MoU with Leading Agencies Connecting Job Providers and Jobseekers 

(Topic:  Government steps to generate employment)

Signed between- Ministry of Labor and Employment signed eight Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) with leading organizations engaged in employment and career related activities

Help-

  • Provide transparent and credible platform and will save both employers and job seekers from possible fraudulent practices
  • New initiative to link all the employment exchanges on a national platform so that more and more jobs can be accessed by youth
  • Emphasizing on generating employment opportunities and to transform Employment Exchanges to Career Centers for offering counselling and guidance to youth

National Career Service-

  • Initiative was launched in 2015 as an ICT based platform for providing employment services to public
  • NCS has been implemented to act as an integrated platform for all key stakeholders like industry, central government, state government, PSUs etc. to join hands in realizing India’s aspirations of becoming a globally competitive workforce
  • IT enabled platform will provide credible information to and from job provider and job seeker about each other and these MoUs are only the first step in this journey
  • Industry to come forward and take advantage of the National Career Service (NCS) portal for getting skilled workforce
  • NCS is thus partnering with organizations operating in various domains
  • ISF (Indian Staffing Federation) will facilitate quality jobs to be made available on the NCS from leading private placement organizations
  • Uber will provide micro-entrepreneurship opportunities to drivers who register on the NCS portal as Local Service Providers
  • com, Quikr Jobs, Tech Mahindra (Saral Rozgar), Babajob.com will offer jobs opportunities to NCS registered users
  • Government has also launched Make in India, Skill India, Digital India, Start-up India etc. to boost the economy as well as generate large employment opportunities for youth

 

Aim-  

  • To meet the aspirations of youth for jobs with the industry demand and has evolved a policy for entering into partnerships with leading organizations
  • Strategic interventions will enhance-
  • Career and employment opportunities,
  • Offer counselling and guidance for career development,
  • Focus on decent employment,
  • Enhance female labour force participation,
  • Encourage entrepreneurial endeavors,
  • Focus on inclusive growth initiatives,
  • Facilitate transition of workforce from informal to formal sectors,
  • Engage with rural workforce for higher productivity,
  • Facilitate re-employment (second-life) opportunities for returning and retired workforce etc

 

Indo-Nepal Battalion Level Combined Exercise Surya Kiran

(Topic: India and its neighbourhood –relations)

  • Ninth Indo-Nepal Combined Battalion level Military Training Exercise SURYA KIRAN will be conducted at Pithoragarh from 08 February to 21 February 2016 under the aegis of Panchshul Brigade of Central Command
  • During the exercise, an Infantry battalion each from Indian Army and the Nepalese Army would be training together and sharing their experiences of Counter Terrorism operations and Jungle Warfare in mountain terrain
  • Surya Kiran series of exercises is a bi-annual event which is conducted alternatively in Nepal and India

Aim-

  • To enhance interoperability between the Indian and the Nepalese Army units in Jungle Warfare and Counter Terrorism operations in mountainous terrain
  • Training will also focus on Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief including medical and aviation support
  • Both the Armies will stand to benefit mutually from shared experiences
  • Combined training, mutual interaction and sharing of experiences between both the countries shall further strengthen the historical military and strategic ties giving further fillip to the bilateral relations and existing strong bonding between both countries

 

GS-3

Global Biotechnology Summit on “Destination India” 

(Topic: Science and Technology)

About- A two day Global Biotechnology Summit on “Destination India” will be held on 5th & 6th February 2016 at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi

Aim-

  • To showcase India’s Biotechnology strength and capacity
  • Provide an opportunity to bring together all stakeholders to discuss opportunities, collaborations and to prepare a joint action plan for achieving the target of 100 billion US dollars for the Biotech sector by 2020

Summit held as a run up to the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) celebrating its 30th Foundation Day on 26th February, 2016

Highlights-

  • Series of scientific activities including town-hall lectures, debates and other interactions with eminent scientists as well as overseas experts were organized in association with various autonomous institutes and star colleges
  • Contributions of key stakeholders – Individuals, Institutions (including Universities), Industry and Society are being show cased to mark the occasion
  • Participants: Eminent scientists from national and international public and private sector organizations and universities and delegations from State Governments, representatives and delegations from other countries with which DBT partners, students, research fellows, Biotech Start-up Entrepreneurs, policy-makers, Civil society and other stakeholders are to be the participants

 

Help-

  • To spread the message across the country and internationally on the impact which Life Sciences and Biotechnology have made on society
  • Attract investors and other key partners to invest in the biotech sector in India, in response to the call given by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi for Make in India and for encouragement of the start-up ecosystem with a potential for scale-up

Focus on the priority themes –

  • Make in India,
  • Nurturing Bio entrepreneurship,
  • Skill India,
  • Biotech opportunities and
  • Action for Swachh Bharat

 

Formation of Joint Venture Companies with State Governments

(Topic: Infrastructure- Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc)

  • Union Cabinet under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for allowing the Ministry of Railways to form Joint Venture Companies with the State Governments to mobilize resources for undertaking various rail infrastructure projects in States
  • Joint Venture Companies would be formed with equity participation of Ministry of Railways and concerned State Governments
  • JV can also form project-specific SPVs with equity holding by other shareholders like Banks, ports, public sector undertakings, mining companies etc

 

Help-

  • Joint Venture exercise would ensure greater participation of State Governments in implementation of Railway Projects both in terms of financial participation as well as decision making process
  • Facilitate in faster statutory approvals and land acquisition
  • Besides travelling people, various cement, steel, power plants etc. would get the necessary rail link for transportation of their raw material and finished products

 

Setting up Advanced Polymer Laboratory

(Topic:  Science and Technology)

MoU signed between- Central Institutes of Plastic Engineering & Technology (CIPET), under the Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers, Government of India with Karnataka Government

It is to- Set up Advanced Polymer Design and Development Research Laboratory cum High Learning Centre at Bengaluru

Help-

  • Act as a multi-functional one-step facility with specialization in product development in Polymer sector
  • Conduct R&D, product tests and evaluations and commercialization of technology
  • Developing new Plastics Technologies, Processes and Products to enhance the use of plastics for promotion of industries and betterment of the people
  • Establish a strong relationship with industries, especially for design and development of advanced polymers, micro fluidic device development and manufacturing techniques for medical and electronics etc
  • Compliment a number of projects of ISRO, DRDO, Department of Science and Technology, D/o Electronics, CSIR and other public and private sector organizations.

 

Aim-

  • Meet the Government’s drive on ‘Make in India’ and ‘Skill India’ through indigenization of technology for import substitution in the areas of-
  • Defense material,
  • Bio-polymers & bio-nano composites for packaging,
  • Bio-sensors for healthcare applications,
  • Natural fiber reinforced composites for automobile applications,
  • Polymer adhesives and coating for marine applications,
  • Fuel solar cells for solar energy and e-waste recycling
  • Address various global issues such as requirement of light weight components, Nano-composites, high performance coatings, flame retardant polymers, increased use of plastic in agriculture and construction, and tailor-made polymer solution for various industries

CIPET-

  • It has 28 centers across the country out of which 5 centers have been added during the current year 2015-16
  • Eleven more centers have been approved for next 2 years
  • CIPETs conduct diploma and UG/PG programmers’, undertake research, and provide technology support to industry by way of designing, tooling, moulding, testing quality control etc.

 

MNRE revises benchmark cost of Concentrating Solar Thermal (CST) Technologies 

(Topic: Science and Technology-developments and their applications and effects in everyday life)

Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), proposes an upward revision of the benchmark cost of Concentrating Solar Thermal (CST) Technologies Programme

Aim- To promote energy efficiency

Benchmark cost

  • Related to the performance efficiency in design and manufacturing of systems so that smaller systems could deliver more energy in a cost effective manner
  • Existing benchmark costs of the CST systems were developed under “off-grid & decentralised solar application” scheme of the National Solar Mission in 2010

CST-

  • Systems include Non-Imaging compound (NIC) parabolic reflectors, Single Axis Automatic Tracked (Scheffler, PTC, LFR etc.), and Dual Axis Automatic Tracked (Paraboloid Dishes, Central Tower etc.)
  • Proposed revision in the Benchmark cost on the basis of instantaneous heat output/ heat delivery from CST systems will also accommodate increase in the cost of various components of CST systems

 

Eighth Meeting of Special Committee on Interlinking of Rivers

(Topic: Infrastructure- Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc)

Interlinking of River (ILR)-

  • Programme is of national importance and has been taken up by the Government on high priority
  • To ensure greater equity in the distribution of water by enhancing the availability of water in drought prone and rain-fed area through interlinking of rivers
  • Ministry has already identified 14 links under Himalayan Rivers component and 16 links under Peninsular Rivers component for inter basin transfer of water based on field surveys and investigation and detailed studies

Issues Discuss- Status of Ken- Betwa link project Phase-I and II, status of Damanganga-Pinjal and Par-Tapi-Narmada link projects, Intra –state link proposals and restructuring of National Water Development Agency

 

World Navies United through Ocean during IFR 2016 

(Topic: Security- Naval Fleet Warships)

Hon’ble President and the Supreme Commander of the armed forces of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee, reviewed the Fleet comprising naval warships from Indian as well as frontline foreign navies, the eleventh Fleet Review after Independence and the second with participation of foreign navies

Highlights-

  • After a 21-Gun salute and ceremonial Guard of Honour, the President embarked INS Sumitra, an indigenously built Naval Offshore Patrol Vessel (NOPV) designated as the ‘Presidential Yacht’
  • Showcased the latest acquisitions of the Indian Navy such as MiG 29K, Long Range MR aircraft P8I and AEW helicopter KM-31

 

Importance-

  • Brought together navies from across the globe on Indian shores, signifying common desire to use the seas to promote peace, cooperation and friendship, as also to develop partnerships for a secure maritime future

 

Joint Declaration between India and Germany- Extension of the tenure of the Indo-German Science & Technology Centre (IGSTC)

(Topic:  Science and Technology)      

About- Joint Declaration between the Ministry of Science & Technology and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research of Germany on the extension of the tenure of the Indo-German Science & Technology Centre (IGSTC)

Aim-

  • Extension of tenure of the bilateral IGSTC for a period of five years beyond 2017 till 2022
  • Provides for enhancement of funding allocation from 2 million Euros per year to a maximum of 4 million Euros per year by each side
  • Committed funding will be based on the principles of activity matching funding for supporting collaborative research partnerships of industrial relevance
  • Creation of new scientific knowledge base and the application of research results for technology development and application
  • Enable IGSTC to further-
  • Enhance
  • Strengthen and
  • Improve research and technology cooperation of industrial relevance through cooperation between: laboratories + academia + industry of both the countries
  • IGSTC will support and fund selected R&D projects linking research laboratories and industry (2+2 scheme) from India and Germany and assist in mobilizing resources to carry out collaborative industrial R&D projects

 

Background:

  • IGSTC was established under an agreement between the two Governments in October 2007 and started operation in 2011
  • Presently IGSTC is supporting joint industrial R&D projects in areas such as-
  • Advanced manufacturing
  • Biomedical devices & healthcare
  • Nanotechnology
  • Automobile engineering
  • Water sensors
  • Clean energy technology
  • Information and computing technology

 

MSP for Copra for 2016 season 

(Topic: Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices)

  • Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has given its approval for the Minimum Support Prices (MSPs) for Copra for 2016 season
  • Decision is based on recommendations of Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP)

CACP-

  • An expert body, takes into account-
  • Cost of production,
  • Overall demand-supply,
  • Domestic and international prices,
  • Cost of conversion of copra into coconut oil,

FAQ-

  • Minimum Support Price (MSP) for Fair Average Quality (FAQ) of “Milling Copra” has been increased to Rs.5950/- per quintal for 2016 season from Rs. 5550/- per quintal in 2015
  • Also, the MSP for FAQ of “Ball Copra” has been increased to Rs.6240/- per quintal for 2016 season from Rs. 5830/- per quintal in 2015
  • MSP of Copra is expected to ensure appropriate minimum prices to the farmers and step up investment in Coconut cultivation and thereby production and productivity in the country

 

NAFED and NCCF

National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Limited (NAFED) and National Cooperative Consumer Federation of India Limited (NCCF) would continue to act as Central Nodal Agencies to undertake price support operations at the Minimum Support Prices in the Coconut growing states

Government has taken several other farmers friendly initiatives over the last one year are as following: 

 

PMFBY-

  • A new crop Insurance scheme in which uniform premium of only 2% to be paid by farmers for all Kharif crops and 1.5% for all Rabi crops
  • In case of annual commercial and horticultural crops, the premium to be paid by farmers will be only 5% and there is no upper limit on Government subsidy
  • Government has also created portal on crops insurance in order to keep farmers better informed

Soil Health Card- Soil health management in the country is being promoted through setting up of soil & fertilizer testing laboratories and implementation of organic farming

 

PKVY- Government has also framed guidelines under Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojna (PKVY) to promote organic farming and develop potential market for organic products

PMKSY- Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana, has been launched with the objective of creating sources of assured irrigation

Kisan Channel- A dedicated Kisan Channel has been started by the Doordarshan to address various issues concerning farmers

 

NAM- 

  • An initiative is being taken to set up a National Agriculture Market (NAM)
  • Enable farmers to overcome the impediments in marketing of agricultural produce and get better price discovery
  • A common e-market platform is being created and would be provided free of cost to the States/UTs that undertake to introduce a single license for trading in the whole state, a single point levy of market fee and permit e-trading Government is also encouraging formation of Farmer Producer Organisations

 

Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) Between National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) Ltd and Rusnano OJSC of Russia

(Topic: Investment Models)

MoU- National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) Ltd. with RUSNANO OJSC of Russia

  • Signing of the MoU is a follow-up of the Prime Minister’s visit to Russia on 23-24 December, 2015 and discussions between NIIF and RUSNANO over the past several months
  • Both sides agreed to cooperate in diverse sectors and facilitate high-technology investments in India
  • Both NIIF and RUSNANO have agreed to set up the RUSSIA-INDIA HIGH TECHNOLOGY PRIVATE EQUITY FUND for joint implementation of investments into projects in India
  • Both the Parties will establish a joint working group with a view to further develop cooperation between the Parties and work on the development of the definitive agreements based on the principles outlined in the Memorandum
  • RUSNANO is a Russian development institute with interest to invest in projects in the field of high technologies and defence including the projects aimed at establishment of manufacturing industrial enterprises in India

 

NIIF-

  • Government of India has established the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) as a Category II Alternate Investment Fund (AIF) under the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) Regulations
  • NIIF is financed from Government’s own contribution and is expected to have equity participation from both foreign and domestic strategic anchor partners, with the Government’s share being 49%

Objective of NIIF-

To maximise economic impact mainly through infrastructure development in commercially viable projects, both Greenfield and Brownfield, including stalled projects and other nationally important projects in India

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