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IASbaba Press Information Bureau (PIB)- 7th March to 13th March, 2016

  • IASbaba
  • March 14, 2016
  • 4
IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis, IASbaba's Daily News Analysis, PIB
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GS-1

Project ‘Mausam’ of M/O Culture aims to explore Multi-Faceted Indian Ocean ‘World’ 

(Topic- Indian Heritage and Culture)

  • Project ‘Mausam’ is the initiative of Ministry of Culture which is to be implemented by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) as the nodal agency with research support of the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) and National Museum as associate bodies.
  • Project aims to explore the multi-faceted Indian Ocean ‘world’ – collating archaeological and historical research in order to document the diversity of cultural, commercial and religious interactions in the Indian Ocean – extending from East Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, the Indian Subcontinent and Sri Lanka to the Southeast Asian archipelago.
  • It also aims to promote research on themes related to the study of Maritime Routes through international scientific seminars
  • Project ‘Mausam’ is not aimed to counter China’s Silk Route strategy. Instead it focuses on monsoon patterns, cultural context, maritime trade routes and coastal landscapes and examines key processes and phenomena that link different countries along the Indian Ocean littoral as well as those that connect the coastal centers to their hinterlands.
  • Project ‘Mausam’ was launched in the 38th Session of World Heritage Committee meeting which was held at Doha, Qatar in June, 2014.

 

Bank Loan to Women 

(Topic- Women issues-Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues)

  • Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has issued Guidelines on Fair Practices Code for Lenders which inter-alia provide that lender must not discriminate on grounds of sex, caste and religion in the matter of lending
  • Public and private sector banks cannot deny a single woman/unmarried female home loan products, insisting that single women applicants to bring along a co-applicant.
  • Bhartiya Mahila Bank offers single woman home loan products without co-applicant/guarantor, depending on the viability of the proposal.

 

Increasing trend in reporting of crimes by women victims 

(Topic- Women issues-Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues)

  • The Ministry of Women and Child Development has recently made some schematic interventions to address the issue of violence against women such as One Stop Centre(OSC)
  • The scheme of One Stop Centre is being implemented from 1st April 2015 in State/UTs with the objective of providing medical aid, police assistance, legal aid, psycho-social counselling etc. to the women affected by violence.
  • The scheme for Universalisation of Women Helpline is being implemented through States/UTs from 1st April 2015 providing immediate and emergency relief to women in distress.
  • Beti Bachao Beti Badhao scheme launched on 22nd January, 2015 aims at addressing the issue of declining Child Sex Ratio and empowerment of women on a life cycle continuum.

 

GS-2

Deen Dayal Upadhyay Shramev Jayate Karyakram 

(Topic-Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector or Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.)

 

  • The scheme is sphear headed by Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship

The initiatives under the scheme include:

  1. Dedication of “Shram Suvidha” Portal and Labour Inspection Scheme through the Shram Suvidha Portal

Main features of this Portal include:

  • Unique Labour Identification Number (LIN) is allotted to Units to facilitate online registration
  • Filing of self-certified and simplified Single Online Common Annual Return by the establishments. Units will only file a single consolidated Return online instead of filing separate Returns.
  • Transparent Labour Inspection Scheme through computerized system based on risk based criteria and uploading the inspection reports within 72 hours by the Labour inspectors.
  1. Portability of Provident Fund accounts through Universal Account Number (UAN) : Universal Account Number (UAN) for Employees Provident Fund (EPF) members, facilitating complete portability of Provident fund accounts on change of employment
  • Launch of Apprentices Protsahan Yojana: Scheme covers all categories of apprentices except the Graduate, Technician and Technician (Vocational) apprentices which are covered by the Scheme administered by Ministry of HRD.

 

Steps Taken to Improve Standard of Primary and Secondary Schools

(Topic-Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector or Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.)

Steps to improve primary education

  • Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) to assist States in universalization of elementary education
  • Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) for universal access to secondary education.
  • The Central Government through SSA, supports States/UTs on early grade reading, writing & comprehension, and early Mathematics programmes through a sub-programme namely ‘Padhe Bharat Badhe Bharat’ (PBBB) in classes I and II.
  • Rashtriya Aavishkar Abhiyan (RAA) programme as a sub-component of SSA and RMSA, to motivate and engage children of the age group from 6-18 years in Science, Mathematics and Technology
  • Interventions to improve teaching standards, including regular in-service teachers’ training programmes, to improve teacher pupil ratio.
  • Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya National Mission on Teachers and to comprehensively address all issues related to teachers.
  • Performance Indicators for Elementary Education (PINDICS) to track teacher performance and attendance in Government schools
  • Shaala Siddhi’ has been developed by National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA), to enable schools to evaluate their performance in a more focused and strategic manner and to facilitate them to make professional judgments for improvement.

 

To improve quality education to students at the secondary level, various interventions are funded under the RMSA. 

  • Additional teachers to improve Pupil Teacher Ratio
  • Induction and in-service training for Principals, Teachers, Master Trainers and Key Resource Persons
  • Maths and Science kits
  • Lab equipments
  • Special teaching for learning enhancement
  • ICT facilities in school
  • Introduction of vocational education component at the secondary level.

 


Restructuring of Curriculum in Higher Education 

(Topic-Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector or Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.)

  • During the 12th Plan  period, though the thrust is on consolidation of higher education, several new Central Universities, Indian Institutes of Management, Indian Institutes of Technology, National Institutes of Technology, Polytechnics and other Institutions of Higher learning have been established
  • A new scheme ‘Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA)’ has been launched which aims to assist States to open new institutions, consolidate old ones and take appropriate steps to achieve the aims of equity, access and excellence.
  • The University Grants Commission (UGC) is providing General Development Assistance (GDA) to Universities and Colleges declared fit to receive grants under section 12B of the UGC Act, 1956.
  • Since ‘Education’ is a Concurrent subject, State Governments are also taking various initiatives to increase access to higher education in the States.
  • Besides, Private Universities/Institutions are also catering to the educational aspirations of the youth.
  • Several steps to include innovation and improvement in course- curricula, introduction of paradigm shift in learning and teaching pedagogy, examination and education system.
  • The University Grants Commission (UGC) has initiated several steps to include innovation and improvement in course- curricula, introduction of paradigm shift in learning and teaching pedagogy, examination and education system.
  • choice based credit system (CBCS), is adopted to allow the flexibility in education system, so that students depending upon their interests and aims can choose interdisciplinary, intra-disciplinary and skill-based courses
  • All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has constituted various Academic Boards for Engineering/ Management/ Pharmacy/ Architecture programmes consisting of eminent educationists for restructuring the curriculum for all AICTE approved institutions, as per the need of industry/academia
  • The Government is in the process of framing a New Education Policy (NEP) for meeting  the  changing  dynamics  of  the  population’s  requirement  with  regard  to  quality education, innovation and research

Three themes under Higher Education are relevant to policy initiative

  • “Integrating skill development in higher education” on integrating skills within the higher education
  • “Linking higher education to society” regarding re-establishing and strengthening of higher education’s close linkages with the society
  • “New Knowledge” relating to higher education institutions identifying the new domains of knowledge in the global scenario.

 

NITI Aayog launches ‘Women Transforming India’ campaign, in partnership with the UN in India and MyGov – #WomenTransform 

(Topic-Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors)

  • ‘Women Transforming India’ is, an effort at putting our ear to the ground to gather successful stories of change heralded by women at the grassroots level, within communities.
  • ‘Women Transforming India’ is consistent with the government’s renewed commitment to advancing gender equality. The many interventions including Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, Sukanya Samridhi Yojana, Janani Suraksha Yojana are testimony to its resolve to empower and educate of girls, and to tackle discrimination against girls and women.
  • This initiative is also a step forward in furthering the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which have Gender as a stand-alone goal. NITI Aayog has been entrusted with the responsibility to plan, monitor and coordinate SDG efforts across Central Ministries and State governments.

 

Merger of Ministries 

(Topic- Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive)

  • The Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) has been merged with the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). Administrative arrangements of the merger are currently underway.
  • A decision was taken to merge the two Ministries to bring better synergy for realising the objectives of bringing Indian Diaspora closer to India. Most policies, programmes, schemes and initiatives of MOIA were being implemented through MEA and Indian Missions/Consulates abroad.
  • Matters pertaining to Indian nationals abroad, their welfare and protection are also taken up by MEA and the Indian Missions abroad. MEA handling the Overseas Indian Affairs would bring in more efficiency in handling matters related to Indian Diaspora.
  • The merger is also in accordance with the Government’s objective of maximum governance with minimum government.
  • The Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs was entrusted all matters relating to overseas Indians, comprising Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) and Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), excluding matters specifically allotted to other Departments.

 

Sankalp project 

(Important aspects of governance, Inclusive growth)

  • The Department of Pension & Pensioners’ Welfare has initiated scheme in January 2014, “Sankalp” which aims at channelizing skill, experience and time available with retired government servants into meaningful, voluntary contribution to society.
  • This would add to the social capital of the country and at the same time restore dignity and purpose to life post-retirement.
  • So far, around 1,600 Pensioners and 19 Pensioners’ Associations have successfully registered under Sankalp.
  • To create awareness amongst retiring employees about this project, the Department has been conducting Pre-Retirement Counseling workshops regularly.
  • So far 28 such workshops for retiring Government employees of various Ministries/Departments in New Delhi and for Central Armed Police Forces at different locations in the country have been conducted.

 

Special preparedness for Rio Olympics 

(Topic-Important International institutions)

  • Preparations for improving the performance of sportspersons and teams of the country in international sports events are an ongoing exercise. However, preparations for the forthcoming Olympic Games, which are scheduled to be held from 5-21 August 2016 at Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), are going on in right earnest.
  • He said, Identified medal prospects are being provided financial assistance for their customized training at Institutes having world class facilities and other necessary support under Target Olympic Podium (TOP) Scheme, which the Government specifically formulated and launched in 2014 under National Sports Development Fund with the objective of identifying and supporting potential medal prospects for Rio Olympics 2016 and Olympic Games 2020.

 

Nehru Yuva Kendras 

(Topic- Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector or Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.)

  • Nehru Yuva Kendras undertake multifarious activities through a large network of Youth Clubs/ Mahila Mandals and Volunteers who work at the grassroots level. The programmes undertaken by these Yuva Kendras are for youth club development, awareness and education, capacity enhancement, promotion of spirit of sportsmanship, promoting folk art and culture, skill up-gradation and programmes for promotion of national unity.
  • An evaluation study of Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan (NYKS) was entrusted to an independent evaluation agency which has recently submitted its report. The deficiencies identified and recommendations given by the agency are summarized as under:
  1. Lack of manpower.
  1. Lack of funds to implement the programme in effective manner.
  • Delay in disbursement of fund at district level.
  1. Lack of inter – ministerial, center to state and district coordination.
  1. Need for improvement in record management.
  1. Committees formed at different levels to be active and informed.
  • Monitoring of programme through external agencies and separate fund for monitoring should be earmarked.

The recommendations as per the study have been accepted and are being implemented in a phased manner for the betterment of Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan (NYKS).

Good Governance 

(Topic- Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability)

  • A one day National Meet on “Promoting Space Technology based tools and Applications in Governance & Development” was organized
  • Various action plans jointly prepared with Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to enhance functional effectiveness, facilitate planning and decision making.
  • While addressing during the special session, the Prime Minister emphasized on the need for new initiatives for governance and development, using space technology applications,Space technology is being used by various Ministries/Departments in planning, monitoring and evaluation of developmental activities in various sectors.

 

All Hospitals should provide free medical treatment to Acid attack/Rape victims under the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2013 

(Topic -Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States)

  • Government of India has set up a dedicated fund called Nirbhaya Fund for implementation of initiatives aimed at enhancing the safety and security for women in the country. The corpus transferred to the Public Account for the Nirbhaya fund till 2014-15 is Rs. 2000 crore.
  • Further, the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2013, has been enacted which broadened the definition of rape to include non-penetrative sex and made the criminal provisions relating to rape and sexual violence more stringent.
  • New offences such as acid attack, stalking, sexual harassment, voyeurism and disrobing have also been included. The amendment also mandated all the hospitals, public or private to provide free medical treatment to all victims of acid attack and rape.
  • The scheme of One Stop Centre for Women affected by violence has been approved with a project cost of Rs. 18.58 crore to be funded under Nirbhaya Fund. Under the scheme, it has been envisaged to establish 1 One Stop Centre in each State/UT in the first phase.

 

IT Enabled real time monitoring of ICDS to be one of key components of ISSNIP 

(Topic – Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications,) 

  • Information and Communication Technology enabled Real Time Monitoring (ICT-RTM) of ICDS has been included as one of the key activities for implementation in restructured ICDS Systems Strengthening and Nutrition Improvement Project (ISSNIP) in 162 high malnutrition burden districts of 8 States
  • ICT enabled Real Time Monitoring would provide real time information on service delivery at Anganwadi Centres (AWCs) including growth and nutrition status of children. ICT-RTM would be driven by a Common Application Software (CAS), an Android based solution having six tiered Dash Board with AWC as the basic information generation node.

 

Appointing quality lawyers under Legal Aid Scheme 

(Topic- Dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.)

  • All persons in custody are eligible for free legal services including filing of bail petitions provided they are covered under Section 12 of the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987.
  • Legal services are provided not only to the Under Trial Prisoners but also to the victims, if he/she is covered under the Act.
  • National Legal Services Authority has framed the National Legal Services Authority (Free and Competent Legal Services) Regulation, 2010 under which it has been provided that no legal practitioner having less than three years’ experience at the Bar shall ordinarily be empanelled and the competence, integrity, suitability and experience of such lawyers shall be taken into account.

Restructuring of ISSNIP 

  • ICDS Systems Strengthening and Nutrition Improvement Project (ISSNIP) is World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) assisted project,
  • Implemented by Ministry of Women Child Development in 162 high malnutrition burden districts in 8 States

 

Steps Being Taken for Combatting Infant Mortality 

(Topic- Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector or Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.)

The steps being taken by the government to combat infant mortality and increase vaccine coverage under the national Health mission are as under:

  • Promotion of Institutional deliveries through cash incentive under JananiSurakshaYojana (JSY) and JananiShishuSurakshaKaryakaram (JSSK) which entitles all pregnant women delivering in public health institutions to absolutely free and no expense ante-natal check-ups, delivery including Caesarean section, post-natal care and treatment of sick infants till one year of age.
  • Strengthening of delivery points for providing comprehensive and quality Reproductive, maternal, newborn, Child and Adolescent Health (RMNCH+A) Services.  ensuring essential newborn care at all delivery points, establishment of Special Newborn Care Units (SNCU), Newborn Stabilization Units (NBSU) and Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) units for care of sick and small babies.
  • Early initiation and exclusive breastfeeding for first six months and appropriate Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) practices are promoted in convergence with Ministry of Women and Child Development.
  • Universal Immunization Programme (UIP) is being supported to provide vaccination to children against many life threatening diseases such as Tuberculosis, Diphtheria, Pertussis, Polio, Tetanus, Hepatitis B and Measles. Pentavalent vaccine and “Mission Indradhanush” has been launched to fully immunize more than 89 lakh children who are either unvaccinated or partially vaccinated
  • Name based tracking of mothers and children till two years of age (Mother and Child Tracking System) is done to ensure complete antenatal, intranatal, postnatal care and complete immunization as per schedule.
  • RashtriyaBalSwasthyaKaryakram (RBSK) for health screening, early detection of birth defects, diseases, deficiencies, development delays including disability and early intervention services has been operationalized to provide comprehensive care to all the children in the age group of 0-18 years in the community.
  • Some other important interventions are Iron and folic acid (IFA) supplementation for the prevention of anaemia among the vulnerable age groups, annual deworming on National Deworming Day (NDD), home visitation by ASHAs to promote exclusive breast feeding and early detection and referral of sick newborns and promote use of ORS and Zinc for management of diarrhoea in children.
  • To sharpen the focus on the low performing districts, 184 High Priority Districts (HPDs) have been prioritized for Reproductive Maternal Newborn Child Health+ Adolescent (RMNCH+A) interventions for achieving improved maternal and child health outcomes.

 

GS-3

ISRO Developing Station in Vietnam

(Topic- Science and Technology – developments and Achievements of Indians in science & technology;)

  • As part of Space Cooperation between India and Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), at the behest of Government of India, is working towards the establishment of a Satellite Tracking & Data Reception Station and Data Processing Facility in Vietnam for ASEAN Member countries.
  • Under this initiative, all ASEAN member countries will be allowed to access processed remote sensing data pertaining to their country.
  • Ground facility is designed in such a way that it will not allow Indian data to be accessed and processed by the system.

Improving National Space Programme 

In 2016, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) plans to realise

  • The constellation of Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System,
  • two earth observation satellites with improved capabilities viz. Cartosat-2C & Resourcesat-2A,
  • An advanced communication satellite GSAT-18,
  • Two weather satellites namely INSAT-3DR for meteorological observations and SCATSAT-1 for wind vector measurements
  • Development of heavy lift launcher GSLV Mk III to build indigenous capability in launching 4-tonne class satellites.

 

Impact of Dams Constructed by China 

(Topic-Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment, Disaster and disaster management.)

  • India has urged China to ensure that the interests of downstream States are not harmed by any activities in upstream areas.
  • Government carefully monitors all developments on the Brahmaputra River.
  • According to reports, Zangmu hydroelectric project has been fully operationalized in October, 2015. The ‘Outline of the 12th Five Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development of the People’s Republic of China’ indicates that three more hydropower projects on the main stem of the Brahmaputra River in Tibet Autonomous Region have been approved for implementation by the Chinese Authorities. These four projects are considered to be run of the River (RoR) hydro-electric projects.
  • In 2006, the two sides established an India-China Expert Level Mechanism (ELM) on Trans-border Rivers.
  • In October, 2013, the two Governments signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Strengthening Cooperation on Trans-border Rivers.
  • Subsequently, the Joint Statement issued during the visit of Prime Minister of India to China in May, 2015 states
  • “The two sides will further strengthen cooperation through the Expert-Level Mechanisms, on the provision of flood season hydrological data and emergency management, and exchange views on other issues of mutual interest.

 

Reforms in Shipping Sector 

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

  • In order to make the Indian shipping industry attractive and more competitive, the Government has exempted Customs and Excise Duty leviable on bunker fuels used in Indian flag vessels for transportation of mix of EXIM, domestic and empty containers between two or more ports in India.
  • Government has brought in a uniform abatement of service tax for transportation of goods by rail, road and sea vessels.
  • Indian shipping industry has been provided cargo support through Right of First Refusal (RoFR).
  • Besides this, Government has taken a policy decision to allow shipping enterprises based in India to acquire ships abroad and also flag them in the country of their convenience.
  • As a step towards promoting “Ease of Doing Business” methodology for computation of period of stay of seafarers in India has been redefined.
  • Major ports are regularly enhancing their capacity by means of mechanisation, capital dredging, rail-road connectivity and capacity augmentation projects both through PPP mode and internal resources.

 

Raising of resources to Fund Nuclear Insurance Pool 

(Topic- Science and Technology, mobilization of resources)

  • M/s General Insurance Corporation of India (GIC-Re), along with several other Indian Insurance Companies, have launched the India Nuclear Insurance Pool (INIP) with a capacity of ?1500 crore on 12th June, 2015, to provide insurance to cover the liability as prescribed under Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage (CLND) Act 2010.
  • The extent of suppliers’ liability is as stipulated in Sec.17 of CLND Act, 2010 and explained in Rule 24 of the CLND Rules, 2011. As per Section 6(2) of the CLND Act 2010, the liability of NPCIL, as the operator, for a nuclear incident will be Rs. 1500 crore.

 

Steps to Increase Freight Activities 

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

  • In the year 2014-15, the Indian ports handled 172.67 million tonnes coastal cargo while overseas cargo handled was 879.56 million tones

Ministry of Shipping has taken following steps to increase freight activities in domestic shipping in the country.

  • Support to Major/Non-Major ports/State Government for creation of infrastructure for movement of coastal cargo.
  • Relaxation of technical and operational requirement for ships operating in Indian coast.
  • All major ports have been advised to introduce Green Channel for coastal cargo, priority berthing for coastal vessels and construction of exclusive coastal berths.
  • Removal of customs and central excise duty on bunker fuel used for transportation of mix of EXIM, empty and domestic containers.
  • Reduction of service tax incidence on coastal shipping.
  • Cabotage relaxation for specialized vessels such as Ro-Ro, Hybrid Ro-Ro, Ro-Pax, Pure Car Carriers, Pure Car and Truck Carriers, LNG vessels and Over Dimensional Cargo or Project Cargo Carriers which are in short supply in India.

 

Ganga Gram Yojana 

(Topic- Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation)

  • Under the “Namami Gange” Programme, the government plans to develop the villages located along the main stem of river Ganga which have historic, cultural, and religious and/or tourist importance. Works related to Ganga Grams will encompass comprehensive rural sanitation, development of water bodies and river ghats, construction/ modernization of crematoria etc.
  • The main objectives of developing Ganga Gram (Model Village) is:-Make the village open defecation free• Abate direct discharge of untreated liquid wastewater from such villages into river Ganga• Facilitate adequate infrastructure for crematoria• Develop proper solid waste disposal facilities in order to avoid any pollution to river Ganga• Promote better sanitation practices in the villages through IEC activities.
  • Based on the recommendations of the concerned local authorities, 206 villages having historic, cultural, tourist and/or religious importance have been selected in the first phase.
  • Government of Jharkhand, in association with UNDP, has prepared a comprehensive plan for 78 villages in Sahebganj district, which is under active consideration of NMCG.
  • As per the approved cabinet note of Namami Gange, a provision of Rs.1750 Crores has been kept for rural sanitation scheme contemplated for improving sanitation and civic amenities in identified villages on the banks of River Ganga and to develop them as ‘Ganga Grams”.

 

Clean Ganga Fund 

(Topic- Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation)

  • As part of Namami Gange programme, Government of India has set up “Clean Ganga Fund” for encouraging contributions from Resident Indians, Non-Resident Indians, Persons of Indian Origin, Institutions, and Corporates towards Ganga Rejuvenation. The total contribution received as on 4th March 2016 in Clean Ganga Fund is Rs. 87.69 Crores.
  • The funds will be utilized for undertaking various activities under Namami Gange programme under the new initiatives including hybrid Annuity based Public Private Partnership (PPP) projects.

 

World Bank AID for Cleaning of Ganga River 

(Topic- Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation)

  • The World Bank has provided financial assistance/loan for $ 1 Billion for abatement of pollution of river Ganga against the National Ganga River Basin (NGRB) project approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) at an estimated cost of Rs. 7000 crores under the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) for implementation in the States viz., Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal.
  • The principal objective of the project is to fund creation of pollution abatement infrastructure for conservation and restoration of water quality of the river, institutional development component for setting dedicated implementation entities at Centre and States, setting up a Ganga Knowledge Centre, comprehensive water quality monitoring system and capacity building of Central Pollution Control Board, State Pollution Control Boards and Urban Local Bodies.

 

Collaboration for Mars exploration 

(Topic- Science and Technology – developments and Achievements of Indians in science & technology;)

  • ISRO-NASA Mars Working Group (INMWG) has been formed to have discussions on the possibility of co-operations in Mars Science and exploration.
  • The Charter for the ISRO-NASA Mars Working Group was signed during September 2014.
  • This group will seek to identify, define and implement those scientific, programmatic, and technological goals that ISRO and NASA have in common in regard to the exploration of Mars.

 

Approving of LIGO-India 

(Topic- Science and Technology – developments and Achievements of Indians in science & technology;)

  • The Government has given in-principle approval for setting up Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) in India.
  • The LIGO-India project will establish a state-of-the-art gravitational wave observatory on the Indian soil in collaboration with the LIGO Laboratory in the U.S. run by Caltech and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  • The project will bring unprecedented opportunities for our scientists and engineers to dig deeper into the realm of gravitational wave and take global leadership in this new astronomical frontier.
  • LIGO-India will also bring considerable opportunities in cutting edge technology for the Indian industry which will be engaged in the construction of eight kilometre long beam tube at ultra-high vacuum on a levelled terrain.
  • The LIGO-India project will be jointly co-ordinated and executed by three premier Indian lead institutions viz., the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), Pune, the Institute for Plasma Research (IPR), Gandhinagar and the Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology (RRCAT), Indore. Some of the Universities in the Country will also participate in the project.

 

Rajya Sabha clears Real Estate Bill seeking to make consumer the king 

(Topic-Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.)

  • The bill seeks to protect the interests of the large number of aspiring house buyers while at the same time enhancing the credibility of construction industry by promoting transparency, accountability and efficiency in execution of projects.
  • The Bill seeks to put in place an effective regulatory mechanism for orderly growth of the sector which is the second largest employer after agriculture.
  • Several rounds of consultations were held with consumer and developer bodies, state governments and other stakeholders  before and after introduction of the Bill in Rajya Sabha in 2013 and  as a result, the Bill has undergone substantial changes benefitting the sector as a whole. Shri Naidu outlined the improvements made in the Bill of 2016 as follows:
  1. Developers are required to deposit 70% of the collections form buyers in a separate accounts towards the cost of construction including that of land as against a minimum of 50% suggested by the Select Committee;
  2. Norms for registration of projects has been brought down to plot area of 500 sq.mts or 8 apartments as against 4,000 sq.mt proposed in the draft Bill in 2013 and 1,000 sq.mts or 12 apartments suggested by the Standing Committee;
  3. Commercial real estate also brought under the ambit of the Bill and projects under construction are also required to be registered with the Regulatory Authority. About 17,000 projects are reported to be at various stages of development;
  4. Capret area has been clearly defined which forms the basis for purchase of houses, eliminating any scope for any malpractices in transactions
  5. Ending the earlier asymmetry which was in favour of developers, both consumers and developers will now have to pay same interest rate for any delays on their part;
  6. Liability of developers for structural defects have been increased from 2 to 5 years and they can’t change plans without the consent of two thirds of allottees;
  7. The Bill provides for arranging Insurance of Land title, currently not available in the market which benefits both the consumers and developers if land titles are later found to be defective;
  8. Specific and reduced time frames have been prescribed for disposal of complaints by the Appellate Tribunals and Regulatory Authorities; and
  9. A provision is now made for imprisonment of up to 3 years for developers and up to one year in case of real estate agents and consumers for any violation of Tribunals and Regulatory Authorities.

 The Bill requires project promoters to register their projects with the Regulatory Authorities disclosing project information including details of promoter, project including schedule of implementation, lay out plan, land status, status of approvals, agreements along with details of real estate agents, contractors, architects, structural engineers etc. Shri Naidu said that this enables transparent, accountable and timely execution of projects.

Going Slow on Future Liberalisation Commitments under WTO 

(Topic- Effects of liberalization on the economy, Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.)

  • The outcomes in the area of agriculture in the Nairobi Ministerial Conference are results of the demands of developing countries including India.
  • Among these, the Decision on Public Stockholding for Food Security Purposes and a Special Safeguard Mechanism for the developing countries acknowledge the special requirements of the developing countries to protect the livelihood and food security of their farmers.
  • The mandate of the Doha round of trade negotiations in the WTO envisaged the reductions of, with a view to phasing out, all forms of export subsidies.
  • The Uruguay Round WTO Agreement on Agriculture (AOA) permits use of export subsidies to the Members that used them during the base year 1986-88.
  • As per the Ministerial Decision adopted in Nairobi, developed countries will immediately remove export subsidies, except for a few agriculture products, and developing countries will do so by 2018, with a longer time-frame in some limited cases.
  • Developing countries will retain the flexibility of covering marketing and transport costs for agriculture exports until the end of 2023, while the poorest and food-importing developing countries will enjoy additional time to cut export subsidies. This Decision ensures that countries will not resort to trade-distorting export subsidies.
  • India remains committed to the Doha Development Agenda, which has development at its core. If it is concluded as per its mandate, it will result in better integration of developing countries in the global trading system.

 

Private Participation In Infrastructure Sector of Railways 

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

A Participative Policy for rail connectivity and capacity augmentation was issued in December, 2012 which provides the following five models for building rail connectivity’s : –

(i) Non- Government Railway (NGR) model

(ii) Joint Venture (JV) model

(iii) Build Operate and Transfer (BOT) model

(iv) Capacity augmentation with funding provided by customers model

(v) Capacity augmentation through annuity model

Government in August, 2014 had permitted 100% Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in construction, operation and maintenance of: 

(i) Suburban corridors through Public Private Partnership (PPP)

(ii) High speed train projects

(iii) Dedicated freight lines

(iv) Rolling stock including trains sets and locomotive/coaches manufacturing and maintenance facilities

(v) Railway electrification

(vi) Signaling system

(vii) Freight terminal

(viii) Passenger terminal

(ix) Infrastructure in industrial park pertaining to railway line/siding

(x) Mass Rapid Transport System.

 

Government signs MoU on conservation of birds of prey 

(Topic- Conservation)

  • Raptor MoU’ – a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on conservation of birds of prey in Africa and Eurasia. The ‘Raptor MoU’ extends its coverage to 76 species of birds of prey, out of which 46 species, including vultures, falcons, eagles, owls, hawks, kites, harriers, etc. also occur in India
  • The ‘Raptor MoU’ extends its coverage to 76 species of birds of prey, out of which 46 species, including vultures, falcons, eagles, owls, hawks, kites, harriers, etc. also occur in India
  • India has become the 56th signatory State to sign the ‘Raptor MoU’ and
  • The ‘Raptor MoU’ is an agreement under Article IV paragraph 4 of the CMS and is not legally binding.
  • Raptor MOU is a Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS), or Bonn Convention, under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

 

Cyber Gram and Hamari Dharohar 

(Topic-Inclusive growth, e-governance- applications, models,)

  • Cyber Gram’ has been launched as an initiative under Multi-sectoral Development Programme(MsDP) to provide hands on training in computers to the students of minority communities and enable them to acquire basic Information and Communication Technology (ICT) skills; become digitally literate; actively participate in knowledge based activities; access financial, social and government services and use internet for communications.
  • The initiative covers students of Class VI to Class X belonging to notified minority communities residing in minority concentration areas.
  • The Scheme Hamari Dharohar was launched during the year 2014-15. The scheme aims to preserve rich culture and heritage of minorities through selective intervention under the overall concept of Indian culture.

 

Fix a Uniform Price of Bt Cotton Seed Across the Country for the Benefit of Farmers-Radha Mohan Singh

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

  • Union Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister Shri Radha Mohan Singh today said that “As there was no uniformity in pricing of Bt cotton seeds across the country, the central government has recently intervened and issued a Cotton Seed Price (Control) Order, 2015, to fix a uniform price of Bt cotton seed across the states in the country for the benefit of farmers,”
  • The Agriculture & Farmers Welfare Minister said that both the public and private sectors have a role in the supply of quality seeds, including Bt cotton, to farmers. The licensing of Bt cotton seeds by Mahyco Monsanto to 50 companies is an example of the private sector’s role in the production and supply of such seeds
  • In order to safeguard the interests of the farming community, this department issued the Cotton Seed Price (Control) Order, 2015, under section 3 of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955, to regulate Bt cotton seed prices. “Some state governments had also passed legislations to ensure supply of Bt cotton seeds to farmers,

 

Growth Rate 

(Topic- Economic growth)

  • The growth rate of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at constant (2011-12) market prices is 7.2% in 2014-15
  • The emerging economies have witnessed a consistently declining trend in growth rate since 2010. It is against this background that the recent Indian growth story appears particularly bright”.

The Government of India has taken various steps to boost the growth of the economy which, inter-alia, include

  • Administrative and regulatory measures to accelerate growth in manufacturing sector, initiatives for industrial corridor development.
  • Measures to debottleneck the supply of key raw materials.
  • Make in India initiative along with the attendant facilitatory measures intended to create a more conducive environment for investment.
  • Skill India initiative.
  • Start-up India initiative has been launched to boost entrepreneurship and creation of jobs, Pradhan mantra Jan Dhan Yojana aim at financial inclusion and boost to household financial savings.
  • Micro Units Development and Refinance Agency Ltd.
  • “Stand Up India” schemes have also been launched to promote entrepreneurship, the later focusing on SC/ST and women entrepreneurs.
  • Measures to improve agricultural growth and infrastructure, particularly rural infrastructure; and, time-bound plans for rural electrification and connectivity.

Recovery of Loans 

  • The Government does not have any proposal to form National Asset Reconstruction Company (NARC) for bad loans of stressed banks.
  • However, Debt Recovery Tribunals (DRTs) have been set up by the Government for facilitating recovery of Banks/Financial Institutions’ dues under Recovery of Debts due to Banks and Financial Institutions Act (RDDBFI), 1993.
  • Under Section 19 (24) of the Act, DRTs have been mandated to dispose of the applications filed by Banks/FIs within a period of 180 days from the date of receipt of application.

The reasons for increase in NPAs include

  • slowdown in recovery in global economy and continuing uncertainty in the global markets
  • The Government has taken specific measures to address issues in sectors such as infrastructure (power, roads etc.), steel and textiles, where incidence of NPAs is high.
  • The Government has also approved establishment of six new DRTs to speed up the recovery of bad loans of the banking sector, in addition to existing 33.
  • Reserve Bank of India has also undertaken steps which include.
    • Formation of Joint Lenders’ Forum (JLF) for revitalizing stressed assets in the system.
    • flexible structuring for long term project loans to Infrastructure and Core industries.
    • Strategic Debt Restructuring (SDR) Scheme.

Promotion of Micro Irrigation 

The National Mission on Micro Irrigation programme in the country was subsumed under National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA) and implemented as “On farm Water Management” (OFWM) during 2014-15. The same is now being implemented as “Per Drop More Crop” component under Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchyee Yojana (PMKSY) from 2015-16 onwards.

Various steps taken by Government for promotion of micro irrigation include

  • Training and awareness programmes.
  • Awareness through print media and radio & TV talks
  • Organization of workshops, seminars and interactive meetings
  • Publicity creation through Exhibitions, Fairs and Kisan Melas.
  • Publication of literature and
  • Short duration films.

 

Launching of National Agriculture E-Market 

(Topic- Marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers.)

  • Government has approved a scheme for setting up of National Agriculture Market (NAM) on 01.07.2015 with a budget of Rs.200 crore, which is to be implemented during 2015-16 to 2017-18.
  • The scheme envisages implementation of the National Agriculture Market (NAM) by setting up of an appropriate common e-market platform that would be deployed in 585 regulated wholesale markets in States/Union Territories (UTs) desirous of joining the e-platform.
  • Small Farmers Agribusiness Consortium (SFAC) has been selected as the lead agency to implement the national e-platform.
  • Department of Agriculture, Cooperation & Farmers Welfare (DAC&FW) will meet the cost on software and its customization for the States.
  • State Governments will propose the regulated markets which are to be integrated with NAM.

 

Norms for Startup MSMEs Relaxed 

What is the relaxed norm- If the MSMEs can deliver the goods and services as per prescribed technical & quality specifications, the norms on prior experience and prior turnover will be relaxed for them.

  • This will help the Startup MSMEs to take part in the mandatory 20% public procurement from MSMEs.
  • The relaxation has been made to create a conducive environment for the startups in India, which is high on the agenda of the Government.
  • Other than this awareness campaign, workshops, collaboration with industries will be organised to promote start up MSME.

 

Steps to control the prices of essential food items 

(Topic- Issues relating to Agriculture)

 

The Government has taken a number of steps to control the prices of essential food items. These includes:-

  • Regular review meetings on prices and availability trends are being held at the highest level.
  • Higher MSP is announcing like cereals, pulses and oilseeds to incentivize production
  • A Plan Scheme titled Price Stabilization Fund (PSF) is being implemented to regulate price volatility of agricultural commodities.
  • Advisory are issued to State Governments to take strict action against hoarding & black marketing and effectively enforce the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 & the Prevention of Black-marketing and Maintenance of Supplies of Essential Commodities Act, 1980.
  • Export of onion is being regulated through effective imposition of Minimum Export Price from time to time depending upon exigencies.
  • The stock limits in respect of onion have been extended by up to 2nd July, 2016 and that of pulses up to 30.9.2016.
  • Procurement of 15000 MT of onion by SFAC and NAFED for market intervention during lean period has been approved.
  • Export of all pulses is banned except kabuli channa and up to 10,000 MTs in organic pulses and lentils.
  • Import of onion and pulses are allowed at zero import duty.
  • Government has approved creation of buffer stock of 1.5 lakh MT of pulses for effective market intervention in future.

Manufacturing of Defence Equipment 

Various policy initiatives to promote defense manufacturing in India is

  • Preference to ‘Buy (Indian)’, ‘Buy and Make (Indian)’ & ‘Make’    categories of capital acquisition over ‘Buy & Make (Global)’ or ‘Buy (Global)’ categories in Defence Procurement Procedure.
  • Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Policy under which  Foreign Investment up to 49% is allowed through automatic route and above 49% under Government route on case-to-case basis, The foreign investment in defence sector is further subject to industrial license under the Industries (Development & Regulation) Act, 1951.
  • Industrial licensing regime for Indian manufacturers has been liberalised and most of the components/ parts/ sub-systems have been taken out from the list of defence products requiring Industrial Licence.  This has reduced entry barriers for new entrants in this sector, particularly small and medium enterprises.
  • The initial validity of Industrial Licence has been increased from    3 years to 15 years with a provision to further extend it by 3 years on a case to case basis.
  • Issues related to level-playing field between Indian vs. foreign manufacturers and public sector vs. private sector has also been addressed.  These include Exchange Rate Variation (ERV) protection for Indian vendors, offset obligations in ‘Buy (Global)’ cases, Excise/ Custom duties on defence equipment, etc.
  • Offset implementation process has been made flexible by allowing change of Indian Offset Partners (IOPs) and offset components, even in signed contracts.  Foreign Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) are now not required to indicate the details of IOPs and products at the time of signing of contracts.  Services as an avenue for discharge of offsets, have been re-instated.

 

Promoting Bio-Fertilizers

(Topic- Issues relating to Agriculture)

Government is promoting bio-fertilizers through various schemes of

  • National Mission of Sustainable Development (NMSA)/Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana,
  • Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY)
  • National Mission on Oilseeds and Oil Palm (NMOOP)
  • Indian Council of Agricultural Sciences (ICAR).
  • Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana- (PKVY) one of the sub scheme of NMSA- Adoption of organic farming through cluster approach under Participatory Guarantee system (PGS) certification. Under PKVY scheme- Fifty or more farmers will form a cluster and their 50 acres of land will be brought under Organic Farming.

 

Steps Taken to Increase the Production of Pulses and Oilseeds Intervention Made in Drought Affected Areas  

(Topic- Issues relating to Agriculture)

  • National Food Security Mission (NFSM) is under implementation for enhancing total food grain production including pulses.  The pulse component has been extended to 622 districts of 27 states including North-Eastern States and 50% of total NFSM allocation is made for pulses.
  • National Mission on Oilseeds and Oil Palm (NMOOP) is under implementation since 2014-15 in 27 states including North-Eastern States for increasing production and productivity of oilseeds including area expansion of oil palm.
  • Under both NFSM-pulses and NMOOP financial assistance is available for
    • Organizing cluster demonstration and Front Line Demonstration (FLD) of improved technologies.
    • Supply of quality seeds including seeds minikits of new varieties.
    • Production inputs like soil ameliorants, micro nutrients, bio-fertilizers, plant protection chemicals including bio-agents, farm machineries, water saving devices and capacity building of farmers/extension workers to increase the production and productivity of the pulses and oilseeds.

 

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