(Topic: Constitutional amendment bill)
- Union Cabinet, chaired by the PM, has decided to withdraw the Drugs and Cosmetics (Amendment) Bill, 2013
- Bill had been examined by the Standing Committee of Parliament which had made a number of recommendations for changing the provisions of the Bill.
Regulatory framework for-
- Ensuring the quality
- Safety and efficacy of medical products, including the medicines
- Medical devices
- In-vitro medical devices
- Stem cells
- Regenerative medicines
- Clinical trial/investigation etc. (provided for in the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940)
Two fold objectives-
- To facilitate the ease of doing business
- Substantially enhancing the quality and efficacy of our products
Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has, accordingly, undertaken an exercise at two levels namely-
- To frame separate rules under the existing Act for regulating medical devices
- To bring out separate legislations for regulating medical devices and Drugs and Cosmetics.
- Keeping in view the role of the sector in managing public health, Cabinet decided that it will not be appropriate to carry out further amendments in the present Act especially as newer areas of biological, stem cells and regenerative medicines, medical devices and clinical trial/investigation, etc. cannot be effectively regulated under the existing law.
- In order to leverage the comparative cost advantage, the demographic dividend and the advantage in information technology, the Indian medical products sector is poised for exponential growth in the near future which would besides meeting the domestic demand, has the potential to become an international hub for manufacturing these products and attracting investment in the sector.
- It is one of the largest manufacturers of pharmaceutical products in the world. The annual production of such products is in excess of Rs. 2 lakh crore.
- Out of this, over 55% is exported to over 200 countries/economies of the world including the developed countries.
- As such, the pharmaceutical sector in India plays a vital role in managing the public health in large number countries at a substantially lower cost.
MoU: India and Germany
(Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests)
About- Union Cabinet chaired by the PM has been apprised of signing of a MoU with Steinbeis GmbH Co. KG for Technology transfer, Germany on technology resourcing in manufacturing, including sub-sectors of Capital Goods.
- It is a leading organization for applied industrial research in Europe.
- It will act as a Technology Resource Partner for implementing identified projects in manufacturing.
- Profiling of specific technologies
- Technology road mapping for specified Capital Goods sub-sectors
- Assessment of technology status of Capital Goods Cluster
- Cooperation in events on technology
- Upgrading existing technology institutes / setting up Greenfield institutes in India and other technology related co-operation and collaboration.
- It is a framework instrument to facilitate industrial technology projects by Indian Capital Goods Sector
- To provide a platform to various public sector undertakings and Capital Goods Sector units to have easy access to capabilities and expertise of Steinbeis GmbH for identifying and plugging technology gaps.
India and UK join hands: Work as R&D partners in Solar Alliance and Nano Material Research
(Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests)
About- At the 5th Indo-UK Science and Innovation Council Meeting (SIC), India and UK have agreed to work together in two major initiatives in the fields of Solar Energy and Nano Material Research, inter alia.
Cooperation is aimed to yield- High quality and high impact research outputs having industrial relevance, targeted towards addressing societal needs.
- It is the apex body which oversees the entire gamut of the India-UK science, technology and innovation cooperation and meets once in two years.
- Last meeting of the SIC was held in New Delhi in November 2014 during which both countries had launched the Newton–Bhabha Programme to support the bilateral Science & Technology cooperation.
- Currently, the value of investment in Indo-UK research and development cooperation from multiple Indian and UK agencies exceeds 200 million pounds of co-funding.
- UK stands amongst the top three collaborating countries in science and technology with India.
- Systems level design and development covering Solar energy generation, storage systems and grid integration particularly for micro–grid systems.
- India would be investing Rs.50 crores over a period of five years with matching contribution from Research Council UK (RCUK) under the Newton–Bhabha Programme.
- India-UK networked Centre on Solar Energy would be established and would be linked to India’s renewable energy mission and UK’s Supergens Programme
Newton–Bhabha Programme –
- Two sides have also agreed on a collaborative program on Energy Efficiency in Built Environment as a part of the Smart Cities mission.
- Both the countries have agreed on common research agenda focused on energy–efficient building envelop, low energy coolingand thermal comfort as well as energy efficient technologies for city and community level.
- Strengthening of the Indo-UK Science & Technology cooperation, the SIC announced access to Indian researchers to the Neutron Scattering facility of the UK’s Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Oxford.
- Unique facility, based on the use of neutron scattering and muon spectroscopy, is a world class facility at Oxford to carry out fundamental research on understanding a wide range of matter at the fundamental level.
- To enhance Indian capability to fabricate structures at Nano scale level for creating interesting and technologically important materials through research in fundamental science
In the area of life and health sciences-
- Department of Biotechnology(DBT), India and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), UK have agreed to provide continued support to the virtual joint centers on Agricultural Nitrogen.
- Two agencies are also supporting research collaboration under Global Research Partnership in Aquaculture.In the area of health sciences, the focus is to address health needs of women and children.
In the field of Water Quality Research-
- Department of Science and Technology(DST) and NERC-UK will initiate a collaborative research program to improve water quality in India.
- Program would address the problem of natural, geo-genic contaminants such as arsenic and fluoride as well as man-made pollutants like pharmaceutical and personal care products increasingly being found in ground water.
- Program is being developed to support implementation of the goals of the National Mission for Clean Ganga.
India–UK Centre of Advanced Manufacturing through DST–RCUK-
- Cooperation linked to the Make in India Program and UK’s Catapult Centre program
- Projects will be designed to deliver industry-relevant results that can be readily applied to current challenges in manufacturing supply chain.
Extension of timeline for issuance of Bonds by State Governments under the Scheme UDAY for Financial and Operational Turnaround of Power Distribution Companies
(Topic: Government schemes and policies and issues arising out of their design and implementation)
About- Union Cabinet in a meeting, chaired by PM, accorded an extension of timeline for taking over 50% of the Outstanding Debt of DISCOMs, as existing on 30th September, 2015, by States, and borrowings by State of Jammu and Kashmir under UDAY (Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana). The time limits have now been extended by one year from the earlier stipulated date of 31st March, 2016
- It is the most comprehensive power sector reform ever, was conceived to permanently resolve all DISCOM problems – past, present and future.
- It is a scheme for the operational and financial turnaround of DISCOMs, which are the weakest link in the power value chain.
- It provides DISCOMs with a clear roadmap and opportunity to become profitable in the next 3 years.
- UDAY is an important component of the effort to realise the mission of 24×7 affordable and environment friendly ‘Power for All’.
- Power, being a concurrent subject, requires the active participation of the States.
- Though, UDAY is optional, several States/Union Territories have joined or agreed to join the scheme demonstrating its necessity and appeal.
- However, some States were unable to join the scheme due to time constraints in completing the processes or inability to take major policy decisions such as joining UDAY due to on-going election processes.
- Extension of the timeline will enable States to participate in this scheme by allowing adequate time to complete the multi-stakeholder process required for joining and/or issuing Bonds.
Turnaround of DISCOMs is made possible through
- Improving operational efficiencies of DISCOMs
- Reduction in the cost of power
- Reduction in interest cost of DISCOMs through States taking over 75% of the DISCOM debt, as on 30th September, 2015 over two years, and the rest being re-priced through bonds and loans at lower interest rates
- Enforcing financial discipline on DISCOMs through alignment with State finances.
With the Cabinet decision-
- States shall take over 75% of DISCOM debt as on 30th September, 2015 by 31st March, 2017, by issuing Bonds.
- Intervention will lower the interest burden of debt and allow States, which could not avail of the opportunity to join UDAY earlier to put DISCOMs reforms on accelerated path.
It is a significant step in realising the vision of 24X7 Power for All.
MoU: IWAI and IPGPL on the Kaladan Multimodal Transit Transport Project
About- Kaladan Multimodal Transit Transport Project (KMTTP) in Myanmar was conceptualized and is being administered by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA)
It is to- Facilitate connectivity between the mainland and the North Eastern States of the country through-> Maritime shipping—Inland waterways—Roads of Myanmar
- Link between North Eastern States of India and Myanmar will pave the way for enhanced trade & commerce across the border
- Enable cultural and social integration at the regional level.
India Ports Global Private Limited (IPGPL)-
- It has been established as a Joint Venture between Kandla Port Trust and Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust for the purpose of development of ports overseas.
- IPGPL was asked to partner IWAI (Inland Waterways Authority of India) in the Kaladan project as a sub-PDC.
- Suggested mainly to use and develop the capabilities of IPGPL which has been created for a specialized purpose, completing the implementation of Kaladan project within the scheduled timeframe of April 2019
- To provide relief to IWAI, whose responsibilities have increased manifold due to declaration of 106 new National Waterways and implementing the ambitious ‘Jal Marg Vikas’ project.
MoU for implementation of the following three additional works
- Container handling facilities at Sittwe & Paletwa
- Operation & Maintenance of the completed works
- Wrecks removed in Sittwe Port basin area
Indian Warships Visit Busan, South Korea after Exercise Malabar 2016
(Topic: Various security forces and agencies and their mandate)
About- In a demonstration of India’s ‘Act East’ policy and Indian Navy’s increasing footprint and operational reach, Indian Naval Ships Sahyadri, Shakti and Kirch have arrived at Busan on a four day visit, as part of deployment of the Eastern Fleet to the South China Sea.
- To enhance maritime cooperation between the Indian Navy and the ROK
- It will further bolster the strong bonds of friendship between India and Republic of Korea and contribute to security and stability in this vital part of the world.
Bilateral relations between India and Republic of Korea-
Historical and cultural- Enduring philosophy of the Lord Buddha, which has influenced the lives and thoughts of people of the two countries, also provides a strong link.
Trade and economic cooperation-
- Has been forging ahead steadily and have progressed leaps and bounds in recent years.
- Both countries have signed a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, with special emphasis on shipbuilding and electronics hardware manufacturing.
Defence and Security-
- Relations between India and Republic of Korea have evolved steadily over the years and have received a renewed impetus with the visit of Indian defence delegation led by Defence Minister in April 16.
- Close relationship between India and RoK has been reinforced in modern times by political and economic imperatives
- Subscription to training courses, participation in multi-lateral seminars/forums, reciprocal port visits, high-level delegations and training exchanges have bolstered naval cooperation between the two countries.
- Both countries have forged ties in the field of military R&D, with MoU signed between Indian Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the Defence Acquisition Programme Administration (DAPA) of RoK.
- Last visit by an INship to Republic of Korea was in October 2015, when Sahyadri berthed at Incheon.
PSLV-C34 Successfully Launches 20 Satellites in a Single Flight
(Topic: Science and technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday)
About- In its thirty sixth flights (PSLV-C34), ISRO’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle successfully launched the 727.5 kg Cartosat-2 Series Satellite along with 19 co-passenger satellites from Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota.
- This is the thirty fifth consecutively successful mission of PSLV and the fourteenth in its ‘XL’ configuration. The total weight of all the 20 satellites carried on-board PSLV-C34 was 1288 kg.
- After PSLV-C34 lift-off at 0926 hrs (9:26 am) IST from the Second Launch Pad with the ignition of the first stage, the subsequent important flight events, namely, strap-on ignitions and separations, first stage separation, second stage ignition, heat-shield separation, second stage separation, third stage ignition and separation, fourth stage ignition and cut-off, took place as planned.
- After a flight of 16 minutes 30 seconds, the satellites achieved a polar Sun Synchronous Orbit of 508 km inclined at an angle of 97.5 degree to the equator (very close to the intended orbit) and in the succeeding 10 minutes, all the 20 satellites successfully separated from the PSLV fourth stage in a predetermined sequence.
- After separation, the two solar arrays of Cartosat-2 series satellite were deployed automatically and ISRO’s Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) at Bangalore took over the control of the satellite.
- In the coming days, the satellite will be brought to its final operational configuration following which it will begin to provide remote sensing services using its panchromatic (black and white) and multispectral (colour) cameras.
- Of the 19 co-passenger satellites carried by PSLV-C34, two – SATHYABAMASAT weighing 1.5 kg and SWAYAM weighing 1 kg – are University/Academic institute satellites and were built with the involvement of students from Sathyabama University, Chennai and College of Engineering, Pune, respectively.
- Remaining 17 co-passenger satellites were international customer satellites from Canada (2), Germany (1), Indonesia (1) and the United States (13).
- Total number of satellites launched by India’s workhorse launch vehicle PSLV has reached 113, of which 39 are Indian and the remaining 74 from abroad.
Cartosat-2 series satellite will be useful for-
- Cartographic applications
- Urban and rural applications
- Coastal land use and regulation
- Utility management like road network monitoring
- Water distribution
- Creation of land use maps
- Precision study
- Change detection to bring out geographical and manmade features and various other Land Information System (LIS) and Geographical Information System (GIS) applications
‘Make in India’ Conference: Enabling Spacecraft Systems Realisation through Industries
(Topic: Science and technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday)
About- “Make in India” Conference on Enabling Spacecraft Systems Realization through Industries (ESSRI – 2016) was organized at ISRO Satellite Centre, Bengaluru.
Aim- To elicit industry support for spacecraft realization on an end-to-end basis to meet the rapidly increasing national demand for space based services and the realization of PM’s objective of “Make in India”
Importance- In order to meet the increased demand for space based services, it was imperative that ISRO joined hands with the Industries in its effort towards enhancing its capacity
- Synergetic collaboration between ISRO and Industry partnership would be a win-win situation for both.
- Expression of Interest (EoI) for realising spacecraft on an end-to-end basis has been hosted on ISRO/ISAC websites and invited the industries to respond to it.
- Gave an insight into the requirements of ISRO with respect to hardware, technologies, quality and delivery schedule and what was essential for them to be qualified vendors of ISRO.
- During the interaction, the Industries presented their capabilities and expressed their commitment to partner with ISRO for the realization of satellites on end-to-end basis and expressed their readiness for gearing-up to venture into global space market.
Establishment of ‘Fund of Funds’ for funding support to Start-ups
(Topic: Indian economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment)
About- Union Cabinet, chaired by the PM, has approved the establishment of “Fund of Funds for Startups” (FFS) at Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI)
It is for-
- Contribution to various Alternative Investment Funds (AIF), registered with Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) which would extend funding support to Startups.
- This is in line with the Start up India Action Plan unveiled by Government in January 2016.
- The corpus of FFS is Rs. 10,000 crore which shall be built up over the 14th and 15th Finance Commission cycles subject to progress of the scheme and availability of funds.
- Further provisions will be made as grant assistance through Gross Budgetary Support by Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) which will monitor and review performance in line with the Start up India Action Plan.
- FFS emanates from the Start up India Action Plan, an initiative of Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP).
- Expertise of SIDBI would be utilized to manage the day to day operations of the FFS.
- Monitoring and review of performance would be linked to the implementation of the Start up Action Plan to enable execution as per timelines and milestones.
Importance- Provide a stable and predictable source of funding for Start up enterprises and thereby facilitate large scale job creation.
Start-ups face several challenges –
- Limited availability of domestic risk capital
- Constraints of conventional bank finance
- Information asymmetry and lack of hand holding support from credible agencies
- A large majority of the successful Start-ups have been funded by foreign venture funds and many of them are locating outside the country to receive such funding.
- Accelerating innovation driven entrepreneurship and business creation through Start-ups is crucial for large-scale employment generation.
- An expert committee on Venture Capital (VC) has opined that “India has the potential to build about 2500 highly scalable businesses in the next 10 years, and given the probability of entrepreneurial success that means 10000 Start ups will need to be spawned to get 2500 large scale businesses”.
- A dedicated fund for carrying out Fund of Funds operations would address these issues and enable flow of assistance to innovative Start ups through their journey to becoming full-fledged business entities.
- This would encompass support at seed stage, early stage and growth stage.
- Government contribution to the target corpus of the individual Fund as an investor would encourage greater participation of private capital and thus help leverage mobilization of larger resources.
Pilot Programme to run two wheelers on CNG launched in New Delhi
(Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment)
About- Launch of its first kind Pilot Programme in the country to run two wheelers on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG)
Aim- To curb rising air pollution in Indian cities
- It is pro-actively striving to promote clean fuel in the country
- Government is promoting the use of gas in the country, thereby providing a better lifestyle to the people and also fulfilling the COP-21 commitments to curb pollution.
- Gas share in the country’s fuel basket is just 7% compared to world average of around 24%.
- Government is fully committed to control pollution in the country, and for this purpose, there will be a jump from Euro-IV type fuel to Euro-VI by 2020.
- The launch of pilot phase of the project for CNG kit in two-wheelers will have a far-reaching implication in reducing pollution.
- Steps such as cess of Rs. 400 per tonne on coal, introduction of E-rickshaws and providing subsidy to electric/hybrid cars, show the urgency and intention of the government to fight pollution.
Importance- Introduction of CNG in two wheeler segment has the capacity to revolutionize the fight against air pollution in the country and especially in the metros like Delhi, where two wheelers contribute a major portion in the vehicular emissions, according to several studies.
‘Hawa Badlo’ movement
- It is a people’s initiative to fight air pollution which is supported by GAIL and city gas distribution companies.
- As part of the movement, a number of awareness drives have been carried out regarding the fight against air pollution.
- ‘Hawa Badlo’ also supports research initiatives in this regard, of which the CNG retrofitted two wheeler programme is a part.