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IASbaba Press Information Bureau (PIB)- 25th July to 31st July, 2016

  • August 3, 2016
  • 2
IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis, IASbaba's Daily News Analysis
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GS1

Gangotri Glacier

(Topic: geographical features and their location- changes in critical geographical features (including water bodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes)

What: According to National Institute of Hydrology, retreat of Gangotri glacier will not have drastic influence on the flow of river Ganga. The latter is not totally dependent on glaciers for its water even in the head-waters region.

  • The percentage of snow and glacier-fed contribution progressively reduces as one moves downstream.
  • Rainwater and sub-surface flows contribute more than 70% of the flow of river Ganga at Haridwar.

Collaboration

  • Between Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEF&CC) and lndian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)
  • Carried out mapping of Himalayan glaciers using lndian satellite data during 2004 to 2007.
  • study shows that there are 34,919 glaciers spread over 75,779 sq. km. in Indus, Ganga and Brahmaputra basins covering Himalaya and Trans-Himalaya including Karakoram region.
  • ISRO has monitored the glacier advance and retreat of 2018 glaciers, across the Himalayan region using satellite data of 2000-01 to 2010-11.
  • The study shows that 87% of glaciers showed no change, 12% glaciers retreated and 1% glaciers have advanced.
  • Himalayan glaciers are being further monitored as part of a new project entitled “Integrated Studies of Himalayan Cryosphere using Space based inputs and Impact Assessment due to Climate Change” funded by the Department of Space.

 

National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem (NMSHE)

  • It is under National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC)
  • encompasses conservation measures for sustaining and safeguarding the Himalayan glaciers and mountain ecosystems through
    • establishment of monitoring network,
    • promotion of community based management,
    • human resource development
    • strengthening regional cooperation

 

Inclusion of languages in Eighth Schedule

(Topic: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.)

What: At present there are demands for inclusion of 38 more languages including Tulu and Rajasthani in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution

Many of these languages are spoken in several States, and their use is not restricted by State boundaries.

How to fix the criteria?

  • As the evolution of dialects and languages is dynamic, influenced by socio-eco-political developments, it is difficult to fix any criterion for languages,
  • It is difficult to also distinguish them from dialects, or for inclusion in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution of India.
  • Thus, both attempts, through the Pahwa (1996) and Sitakant Mohapatra (2003) Committees to evolve such fixed criteria have not borne fruit.

 

Study on Conditions of Muslim Population in the Country

(Topic: Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India.)

What: the Government has already undertaken various schemes/initiatives for the welfare of six notified minorities, including Muslims

  • Pursuant to the receipt of Sachar Committee Report and under the Prime Minister’s New 15 Point Programme
  • Objective to enhance opportunities for education
  • Ensure an equitable share for minorities in economic activities and employment,
  • Enhanced credit support for self-employment,
  • Recruitment to State and Central Government jobs,
  • Skill development of minorities,
  • Measure for special development initiatives,
  • Protection and management of Waqf Properties.

How: All these schemes/initiatives are being implemented by various Ministries/ Departments of the Central Government either exclusively or by earmarking of 15% of overall physical/financial target (under the scheme) or by monitoring the flow of funds in the minority concentration areas for the welfare of minorities throughout the country.

Kundu Committee

The Ministry of Minority Affairs constituted a committee on 05.08.2013 under the Chairmanship of Prof. Amitabh Kundu in 2013

  • Evaluate the process of implementation of decisions taken by Government of India on the recommendations of Sachar Committee Report
  • assess the schemes/programmes implemented by the Ministry of Minority Affairs
  • assess the efficacy of the Prime Minister’s New 15 Point Programme, etc.

Submitted the report in 2014

Result: The report of the committee was examined in the Ministry of Minority Affairs and decided that since the recommendations of the committee are overarching, covering the policies and programmes of other Ministries/Departments also, the views of the concerned Ministries/Departments are required. The concerned ministries/departments have been requested to do so.

Details of schemes / initiatives for the welfare of minorities are as under

Enhancing opportunities for education

  • Pre-Matric Scholarship
  • Post-Matric Scholarship
  • Merit-cum-Means  Scholarship
  • Maulana Azad National Fellowship
  • Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme for providing services through Anganwadi Centres
  • Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and opening of Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas
  • ‘Padho Pardesh’- Interest subsidy on educational loans for overseas studies
  • ‘Nai Udaan’- Support for students clearing Prelims conducted by UPSC, SSC, State Public Service Commissions, etc.
  • Scheme for Providing Quality Education in Madarsas (SPQEM)
  • Scheme for Infrastructure Development of Minority Institutions (IDMI)
  • Greater Resources for Teaching Urdu
  • Free Coaching and Allied Scheme
  • Schemes of Maulana Azad Education Foundation (MAEF) for promotion of education.
  • Mid Day Meal Scheme
  • Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA)
  • Sakshar Bharat/ Maulana Azad Taleem-e-Balighan
  • Jan Shikshan Sansthan (JSS)
  • Block Institutes of Teachers Education
  • Women’s Hostel.

Ensuring an equitable share for minorities in economic activities

  • Swarnjayanti Gram Swarojgar Yojana (renamed as Aajeevika/ National Rural Livelihood Mission)
  • Swarn Jayanti Shahari Rojgar Yojana (SJSRY) (renamed as National Urban Livelihood Mission)
  • ‘Seekho Aur Kamao’ – Skill Development Initiatives
  • Upgrading Skill and Training in Traditional Arts/Crafts for Development (USTTAD)
  • Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs)
  • Restructuring of NMDFC and Loan schemes of National Minority Development & Finance Commission (NMDFC)
  • Bank credit under Priority Sector Lending
  • Issue of guidelines for giving special consideration for recruitment of minorities.
  • Opening of new Bank Branches/ awareness campaigns.
  • Nai Manzil – An integrated Education and Livelihood Initiative for the Minority Communities

Improving the conditions of living of minorities

  • Indira Awaas Yojana (IAY)
  • Basic Services for Urban Poor (BSUP)
  • Integrated Housing and Slum Development Programme (IHSDP)
  • Urban Infrastructure and Governance (UIG)
  • Urban Infrastructure Development Scheme for Small and Medium Towns (UIDSSMT)
  • National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP)
  • Multi-sectoral Development Programme (MsDP)
  • Waqf matters
  • Strengthening of State Waqf Boards
  • Computerisation of records of States Waqf Boards.

Prevention and control of communal disharmony and violence

  • Issue of guidelines on communal harmony

Others

  • ‘Nai Roshni’- Leadership development of minority women
  • ‘Jiyo Parsi’- Scheme for containing population decline of small minority community
  • Hamari Dharohar
  • Representation of minorities in Urban & Rural local bodies
  • Exemption of Waqf properties from State Rent control Act
  • Appropriate training modules to be prepared for sensitization of Government functionaries
  • Multi-media campaign for wide publicity of Government schemes/programmes
  • Annual Meeting between CWC and ASI and protection of Waqf monuments
  • Setting up of Assessment & Monitoring Authority (AMA)
  • Setting up of National Data Bank (NDB)
  • Review of Delimitation Act
  • Dissemination of information in vernacular languages.

Percentage of Muslims in Government Jobs

  • The recruitment of minorities in Government, Public Sector Banks, Public Sector Undertakings was 8.57% in 2014-15.

 

Survey of Sand Areas Rich in Thorium

(Topic: Distribution of key natural resources across the world (including South Asia and the Indian subcontinent)

What: Atomic Minerals Directorate (AMD), a constituent unit of Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), has surveyed and identified resources of the mineral monazite in beach and inland sand areas of the country.

Monazite: an ore mineral of thorium rare earth elements and phosphate

S.No. State Monazite resources (in million tonnes)
1 ODISHA 2.41
2 ANDHRA PRADESH (Highest) 3.72
3 TAMIL NADU 2.46
4 KERALA 1.90
5 MAHARASHTRA (Least)   0.002
6 GUJARAT   0.003
7 WEST BENGAL 1.22
8 BIHAR 0.22
TOTAL 11.93

President of India condoles the passing away of Smt. Mahasweta Devi

  • Mahasweta Devi enriched Bengali literature through her prolific writing and unique style.
  • She was a powerful voice against all forms of oppression and injustice.
  • Her writings reflected the life of downtrodden and her voice was seen as the collective conscience of society reflecting its yearning for justice and equality.
  • Mahasweta Devi did not rest content with mere writing about issues. She actively engaged in social work and spent years researching and campaigning for the welfare of the tribals of Bengal.
  • She was honoured by a grateful nation with a large number of awards during her lifetime including the Sahitya Akademi Award, Padma Shri, Jnanpith Award and Padma Vibhushan.

 

GS2

Subsidy for Maintaining Price Stability to Tea

(Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.)

About: The Price Stabilization Fund Scheme was implemented by the Central Government from the year 2003 to 2013

Aim: to protect the farmers of plantation crops including tea from losses on account of price fluctuations.

Now: The Scheme was reviewed and in light of the experience gained from implementing the Scheme, a market-linked Revenue Insurance Scheme for Plantation Crops (RISPC) has been proposed for protecting the farmers of plantation crops, including tea plantations, against losses arising from both fluctuations in yield as well as prices.

Various Acts

  • To ensure social and economic security, the tea garden workers in the country including the States of Assam, Tamil Nadu and Kerala are provided basic welfare services and amenities such as housing, medical and primary education, water supply, sanitation etc. Plantation Labour Act, 1951
  • The workers of the tea industry are covered by various industrial and social security legislations such as Workmen’s Compensation Act, Payment of Gratuity act, Provident Fund, Payment of Bonus Act, Maternity Benefit Act, Payment of Wages Act.
  • Besides, the Government implements through the Tea Board welfare activities for tea plantation workers and their dependents in tea estates under the Human Resource Development (HRD) Scheme.

 

Quality of Education in Universities

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

About: The Central Government and the University Grants Commission (UGC) are constantly endeavouring to improve quality of higher education in the country.

Central government: launched several initiatives viz.

  • National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF)- Educational Institutions are ranked by an independent ranking Agency on the basis of objective criteria.
  • Impacting Research, Innovation & Technology (IMPRINT)– Government has taken the initiative to address major engineering challenges through the collaborative efforts of the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and Indian Institute of Science (IISc).
  • Uchchtar Avishkar Yojna (UAY)– to promote innovation in IITs addressing issues of manufacturing industries; to spur innovative mindset; to co-ordinate action between academia & industry and to strengthen labs & research facilities.
  • Global Initiative of Academic Networks (GIAN)- for facilitating partnership between Higher Educational Institutions of the country and other countries. The scheme is aimed at tapping international talent pool of scientists and entrepreneurs.

Role of UGC

  • Maintenance of standards in teaching and research and quality assurance in Universities, Deemed to be Universities and Colleges through the following mechanisms, namely:
  • Framing regulations and schemes and; disbursing grants to the eligible institutions.
  • In order to encourage research and development in the country, UGC has laid out schemes, awards, fellowships, chairs and programmes
    • Under such programmes, financial assistance is provided to institutions of higher education as well as faculty members working therein to undertake quality research covering areas of knowledge across disciplines including revival & promotion of indigenous languages.

 

Workforce in Organised/ Unorganised Sector

(Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.)

About: As per the result of labour force survey on employment and unemployment conducted in 2011-12 by National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation

Result: The number of estimated employed persons in 2011-12 on usual status basis were 47.41 crore, of which 82.7% of workforce (39.14 crore persons) was in unorganized sector.

Workers get benefits under various legislations like

  • Employees State Insurance Act, 1948,
  • Employees Compensation Act, 1923,
  • Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972,
  • Payment of Bonus Act, 1965 and
  • Building and Other Construction Workers Act, 1996.
  • The coverage of establishments under The Employees’ Provident Fund & Miscellaneous Provisions (EPF&MP) Act 1952 has been enlarged to include construction workers.

Labour welfares by Ministry

  • minimum pension of Rs. 1000/- per month to the pensioners under Employees’ Pension Scheme (EPS), 1995,
  • portability of provident fund account,
  • National Career Service Portal,
  • Employees State Insurance Corporation 2.0,
  • Revision in eligibility and calculation ceiling under the Payment of Bonus Act, 1965 etc.

Workforce Participation rate

  • Rural- Highest- Sikkim (53.4%) and lowest- Bihar (27.5%)
  • Urban- Highest- Sikkim (45.2%) and lowest- Bihar (25.3%)
  • All India Rural- 39.9% and Urban- 35.5%

 

Welfare of Labourers

(Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.)

About: The Government has enacted the Unorganised Workers’ Social Security Act, 2008

To: provide for registration of unorganised workers and issuance of portable smart card by District Administration and for formulation of suitable welfare schemes for unorganised workers on matters such as

  • life and disability cover,
  • health and maternity benefits,
  • old age protection and
  • Any other benefit as may be determined by the Central Government through the National Social Security Board.

Various Schemes, formulated by the Government to provide social security cover to the unorganized workers

  • Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (Ministry of Rural Development)
  • National Family Benefit Scheme (Ministry of Rural Development)
  • Janani Suraksha Yojana (Ministry of Health and Family Welfare)
  • Handloom Weavers’ Comprehensive Welfare Scheme (Ministry of Textiles)
  • Handicraft Artisans’ Comprehensive Welfare Scheme (Ministry of Textiles)
  • Pension to Master Craft Persons. (Ministry of Textiles)
  • National Scheme for Welfare of Fishermen and Training and Extension (Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying & Fisheries)
  • Aam Admi Bima Yojana. (Department of Financial Services)
  • Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (Ministry of Health and Family Welfare)

 

India – Japan Social Security Agreement

(Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests)

About: The Agreement on Social Security between India and Japan shall come into force with effect from 1st October 2016

Ministries included: Ministry of External Affairs, along with Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) – the competent authority for negotiating and concluding SSAs have completed the formalities for the Agreement

Signed in: Tokyo on November 16, 2012.

Bilateral Social Security Agreements (SSA): made with other countries to protect the interests of Indian professionals, skilled workers working abroad.

Till now: The Government of India till date has signed SSA with 19 countries. The SSAs have been in operation with 15 countries so far.

SSA

  • An SSA generally provides for
  • “Detachment”, While under Detachment provisions, International Workers are exempted from making contribution in the host country
  • “Totalisation” the Totalisation allows aggregating residency periods of social security contribution made by the Indian worker / professional in India and the foreign country to qualify for retirement benefits.
  • “Portability” of Social Security benefits between agreeing nations. The Portability further allows one to avail benefits in either country

BRICS Employment Working Group

  • Forum is being planned to impress the BRICS group to adopt a resolution to take the necessary steps to ensure that Social Security Agreements are entered into between the member countries of BRICS.
  • BRICS nations have individually signed SSAs with other nations.
  • Trade relations between BRICS nations have been increasing over the years and major Industries and Enterprises from respective nations are making investments.
  • The companies often make dual contributions in the absence of detachments provisions that affect the competitiveness.

 

Consumer Empowering Initiatives

(Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation)

Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas has launched various consumer empowering initiatives, like

Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY)

  • Government has approved Rs. 8000 crore under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) for release of 5 crore deposit free new LPG connections to Women of BPL families over three years
  • The scheme will provide an initial cost of Rs. 1600/- for providing LPG connection to poor households in the name of woman of the household.

MyLPG.in

  • Provides online information of sales and distribution of LPG cylinder delivery data to LPG Consumers on a near real time basis.
  • Various features such as LPG usage, LPG booking status, LPG refill history, request for surrender of connection, subsidy availed and transferred, rating of distributors by cylinder delivery time, rating the distributor on the five perceived parameters and Aadhaar Linking Status have been provided.

Rating of Distributors Based on Delivery Performance

  • Each distributor is now being rated from 5 stars to 1 star based on his delivery performance.
  • Aim is to measure, increase and improve the delivery performance of each distributor.
  • Rating of distributor helps a consumer in deciding the change of distributor.
  • It also motivates distributors to improve delivery times so as to retain consumers

SMS/IVRS

  • A customer oriented initiative, launched to facilitate a genuine customer for making a refill booking round the clock, seven days a week (24 X 7), and also circumvents the problems sometimes earlier faced by customers of finding Distributor’s telephone lines busy
  • In this system, a Consumer can book gas not only from his/her personal registered telephone/mobile numbers, but also from an un-registered telephone number.

E-SV (Sahaj)

  • ‘e-SV’ is the electronic subscription voucher emailed to the customer upon release of LPG connection online.
  • Subscription Voucher indicates the number of cylinders and pressure regulators loaned to the customer against the security deposit.
  • The facility enables the customers to register, make payment online for availing LPG connection at his/her doorstep without visiting the LPG distributorship.

Emergency Helpline No. `1906’

  • Facility is available 24*7 operations with 2 shifts 12 hours each for attending emergency LPG leakage complaints.
  • LPG Emergency multilingual Helpline

Online Payment

  • As part of Digital India Initiatives, OMCs have launched the facility for Online New connections (SAHAJ), in which customer is also having an option for making the online payments through Net banking & credit/debit card for release of new LPG connections.

Online Portal to Piped Natural Gas (PNG) customers

  • An interactive online portal to PNG customers for making online bill payments, new customer registration and suitable grievance redressal mechanism.

 

Development of Chabahar Port

(Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests)

What:

Following the Chabahar port development agreement with Iran, India will get access to Eastern transit Corridor to:

  • Eastern part of Iran
  • Afghanistan, which is a landlocked country
  • CIS countries like Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan etc
  • Alternative to North South Corridor (Access to Russia and North Baltic countries)

The following amounts are likely to be provided by India for development of the Port:

  • Making credit of USD 150 million available for development of phase 1 of the port, within 4 months of receiving their application through Central Bank of Iran.
  • Equipping the both terminals with equipment worth USD 85 million within 18 months above funding.

Overall it is expected that it will take 18 to 24 months for Commercial Operations to commence at Chabahar Port.

India – US to collaborate for first time in R&D in traditional systems of medicine

(Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests)

What: The Ministry of AYUSH is mandated to promote and propagate AYUSH systems of medicine across the globe.

How:

  • Ministry of AYUSH signs Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) for ‘Country to Country’ cooperation in the field of Traditional Medicines;
  • Sets up AYUSH Academic Chairs in foreign Universities/ Educational Institutes;
  • Establishes AYUSH Information Cells in the premises of the Indian Missions abroad or Indian Cultural Centres for dissemination of authentic information about AYUSH Systems of medicine
  • Enters into MoUs with foreign institutes for undertaking collaborative research.

India-US engagement

  • For the first time India has successfully engaged USA in the field of Traditional Medicine
  • An India-US workshop on Traditional Medicine with special focus on cancer was organized on 3-4 March, 2016 at New Delhi.

 

Subsidies to Farmers under Various Schemes

(Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation)

What: The Government is providing subsidies to farmers under various schemes for improving the infrastructure, marketing facilities and promotional services.

Schemes:

Agricultural Marketing Infrastructure (AMI)

  • Sub-scheme of Integrated Scheme for Agricultural Marketing (ISAM)
  • Subsidy is being provided @ 25% to 33.33% to eligible beneficiaries for creation of storage infrastructure.
  • Currently the scheme is temporarily stopped w.e.f. 05.08.2014 for general category promoters due to exhaustion of funds.
  • However, the scheme is open for SC/ST promoters and for promoters in North-Eastern Region.

Rashtriya Krishi Viskas Yojana (RKVY)

  • Funds are released to the State Governments as 100% grant
  • No subsidy is provided by the Government of India directly to the individuals/farmers under the scheme.
  • Subsidy under RKVY scheme is provided to farmers by the States as per norms of other existing Government of India schemes.

National Horticulture Mission (NHM)

  • For development of Horticulture, assistance is being provided for development of Post-Harvest Management (PHM) and Marketing infrastructure.
  • For rural primary markets, credit linked back ended subsidy @ 40% in general areas and @ 55% in hilly and tribal areas of the maximum project cost of Rs. 25.00 lakh is available.
  • For wholesale markets, credit linked back ended subsidy @ 25% in general areas and @ 33.33% in hilly and tribal areas of the maximum project cost of 100.00 crore/project is available.
  • For terminal market complex, under PPP mode, assistance @ 25% to 40% (limited to Rs. 50.00 crore) of project cost of 150.00 crore/project, which includes 25% as floor subsidy plus 15% as subsidy on bidding is available.

National Food Security Mission (NFSM)

  • Financial assistance is being provided to the farmers for farm machineries for improving the infrastructure.

Bringing Green Revolution to Eastern India scheme (BGREI)

  • Assistance is being provided 50% of the project cost for individual beneficiary and 100% for community assets for activities that help in enhanced procurement, creation of storage facilities, marketing and value addition

 

Special Polio Immunisation Drive

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

What: WHO has been carrying out Acute Flaccid Paralysis (AFP) surveillance where all suspected cases of Acute Flaccid Paralysis are examined to rule out polio.

Relevance:

  • The suspected case in Uttar Pradesh investigated by WHO and result of the two stool samples pertaining to this case, tested in the laboratory reported that there is no poliovirus.
  • Hence, the case is classified as Non Polio Acute Flaccid Paralysis case and the child is under treatment of district hospital

Constant vigilance

  • Continues to maintain highly sensitive surveillance system for Polio
  • Maintains quality parameter checks for surveillance like non polio AFP rate, adequate stool collection rate etc.
  • Surveillance reviews are conducted from time to time to ensure quality of surveillance.
  • Also started environmental surveillance in selected sites in the country to detect polio virus in sewage samples.

Government of India has already introduced inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) in the country over and above existing doses of oral polio vaccine (OPV) to provide additional protection to children of the country against polio.

MoU between Railways and CII

(Topic: Development processes and the development industry- the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders.)

To: evaluate the Green Initiatives and rate the performance of Industrial Units of Indian Railways which are pursuing environmentally sustainable practices

Railways and environment

  • Railways is an environment friendly transport, multi pronged green initiatives are being taken by Indian Railways.
  • Includes the share of renewables in energy consumed, better Water Management including Water Audit, Solid Waste Management including Waste to Energy plants etc.
  • The association with CII will enable Railways to weigh their green initiatives against the global standards.
  • The provision of bio toilets in a large scale to avoid open discharge from the coaches is a major step towards sustainable growth
  • Recently, the Manmadurai – Rameshwaram section of Southern Railway was declared as a first green railway section.
  • Indian Railways have so far provided more than 40,000 bio toilets.

MoU has two programmes that will be taken up

Green Rating for Railway Industrial units

  • In the first phase – Diesel Locomotive Works (DLW)/Varanasi Integral Coach Factory (ICF), Chennaiand Carriage & Wagon Workshop, Perambur /Chennai, Southern Railway, have been selected for this important initiative.
  • All the Green initiatives of these units will be rated on a common Platform applicable to all the industries.

Energy Efficiency studies at 6 Production Units and 4 major workshops over Indian Railways

  • This will include Capacity Building, Knowledge sharing and exchange of best practices on Energy efficiency between Railways and other industrial sectors.

 

Abolition of Separate Guidelines for establishing Joint Venture Companies by Defence PSUs

(Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.)

What: Cabinet has approved abolition of existing Guidelines which were notified in February, 2012

So Now?: The Guidelines issued by the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) and Ministry of Finance (MoF) from time to time, which are uniformly applicable to all Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs) will be applicable for the DPSUs to set up JV companies now.

Benefit:

  • Meet the goal of indigenization / self-reliance in this sector
  • Provide a level playing field between dpsus and the private sector.
  • Allow DPSUs to forge partnerships in an innovative manner enhancing self-reliance in defence and provide for enhanced accountability / autonomy of DPSUs

Why such decision?

  • The decision comes in the backdrop of the issues which emerged in the operationalisation of JV guidelines of DPSUs.
  • The Department of Defence Production came to the conclusion that with the increasing participation of the private industry in defence sector and the transformation taking place in the defence acquisition eco system thereon, the requirement of having separate JV guidelines for DPSUs is no longer considered necessary
  • In the emerging scenario with primacy being accorded to indigenous manufacturing / Make in India, it is felt that having multiple set of guidelines may lead to ambiguity and incongruity in the environment.

 

10th Anniversary of Ministry of Earth Sciences (2006-2016) & Foundation Day

(Topic: Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary Ministries and Departments of the Government; pressure groups and formal/informal associations and their role in the Polity.)

What: Ministry of Earth Sciences was established in the year 2006 by bringing agencies of meteorology, ocean development and operational seismology activities under one umbrella.

Purpose: to address holistically various aspects relating to earth system processes for improving forecast of the weather, climate and various natural hazards.

Responsible: for development of technology towards the exploration and exploitation of marine resources in a sustainable way for the socio-economic benefits of the society.

Mission: to provide services for weather, natural hazards, climate, ocean and coastal state, seismology, and exploring marine living and non-living resources and the Polar Regions.

Improvement: the quality of weather, climate, ocean and seismological services have improved due to systematic efforts in augmenting atmospheric, coastal and ocean observations and survey, geophysical observations, polar research, developing adequate modelling strategy, conducting cutting edge research and investing in human resources development.

Scope: for further accelerating these initiatives to enable the country to become a world leader in providing high quality services, and contribute to economic and societal benefits.

Automotive Mission Plan, 2016-26

(Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.)

What: The Automotive Mission Plan [AMP 2026] envisages creation of 65 million jobs.

Features:

  • The Indian Automotive industry to be a top job creator – 65 million additional jobs.
  • The Indian Automotive industry to be the prime mover of Manufacturing sector and “Make in India” Programme.
  • The Indian Automotive industry to aim at increasing exports of vehicles by 5 times and components by 7.5 times.
  • For success of AMP 2026, there is a need of coordinated and stable policy regime for the automotive sector.
  • Specific interventions are envisaged to sustain and improve manufacturing competitiveness and to address challenges of environment and safety.

 

Cases registered by CBI

(Topic: Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.)

What: CBI has arrested 34 Gazetted Officers, 45 Non-Gazetted Officers of various Government Offices and others in 112 corruption cases during the period from 01.01.2016 to 15.07.2016.

State-wise data is not maintained by CBI centrally.

Steps taken by the Central Government for speedy disposal of current and pending cases of CBI and upgradation of CBI organization in the country are as under

  • Central Government as well as CBI takes various steps to fill up vacant posts expeditiously.
  • 92 Additional Special CBI Courts has been set up and 87 out of them have become operational in different States of India for speedy disposal of the cases.
  • CBI imparts training to its officers/employees in order to enhance their skills at its training centers.
    • Recently a scheme namely Advanced Certified Course for CBI officers has been started to enhance their investigation skills, forensic data collection, collection of evidence, skills etc by providing them training from National Law School of India University (NLSIU) Bangalore and Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Bangalore.

Funds allocated:

For upgradation of CBI which inter-alia include modernization, improvement in training, infrastructure, housing & improved condition of work, a plan outlay of Rs. 309.52 crore has been allocated for implementation of various schemes viz

  • Modernization of training Centres in CBI,
  • CBI e-governance,
  • Comprehensive modernization of CBI branches/offices,
  • Construction of CBI office building at Bandra Kurla Complex, Mumbai
  • Comprehensive modernization and purchase of land/construction office/Residence building for CBI etc.  over 12th Five Year Plan period.

 

Promotion of Medical Tourism in the Country

(Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.)

What: Ministry of Tourism publishes the data of Nationality-wise Foreign Tourist Arrivals by Visa Type in India in which one of the visa categories is Medical Visa including Medical Attendant Visa.

By?: The development and promotion of tourism is primarily the responsibility of the State Governments/Union Territory Administrations.

Role of MoT: The Ministry of Tourism as part of its ongoing promotional activities releases campaigns in the international and domestic markets and also undertakes other promotional activities including promotion of Medical Tourism.

National Medical and Wellness Tourism Board

  • To provide a dedicated institutional framework to take forward the cause of promotion of Medical Tourism, Wellness Tourism and Yoga, Ayurveda Tourism and any other format of Indian system of medicine covered by Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy (AYUSH).
  • Works as an umbrella organization that governs and promotes this segment of tourism in an organized manner.
  • Has representatives from AYUSH, Quality Council of India, National Accreditation Board for Hospitals and Healthcare Providers (NABH).
  • For promoting quality in the healthcare sector, the NABH provides accreditation to hospitals and wellness centres for adhering to quality standards.

 

PM asks NITI Aayog to create a vision for transformational change

(Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.)

About: Role of NITI Aayog to create a vision document that would, chart a roadmap for India’s development for the next fifteen years, and also lay the foundation for the country’s growth over the next decades of the 21st century.

Excerpts from PM’s address (Relevant to UPSC)

  • The time for incremental change, that was the norm across the world for quite some time, is now over
  • The current age is one that requires transformational change
  • The importance of technology as an emerging driver of change over the last three decades
  • Judicious and intelligent application of India’s natural resources and human resources, would be at the heart of this change.
  • Use of available land, the country’s mineral wealth, and vast untapped solar energy potential and also its vast coastline.
  • Skill development is vital, as India has the potential to fulfil the global requirement of human resources in the future.
  • Stressed on the need to develop India’s tourism potential.
  • Partnership with states for promoting development and boosting exports is not just an element of cooperative federalism, but also the need of the hour.
  • Focus cannot be on increasing agricultural productivity alone, but should be on the overall development of a vibrant rural economy.
  • The importance of the food processing sector, warehouse development, and technology inputs, in this sector.

 

Marine Habitat Research

(Topic: Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary Ministries and Departments of the Government)

What: set up the National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management (NCSCM) under the Ministry of Environment Forest & Climate Change at Chennai during 2011-2012.

To:

  • Undertake various research studies with respect marine environment, ecology and habitat of entire Indian coast including the islands.
  • Provides knowledge support on policy and scientific matters related to integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) and conservation of coastal resources along Indian coast including the islands.

Particular study? Although there is no systematic research to study for long-term decadal scale changes due to tides, tsunami, hurricane, floods which are episodic in nature, a few studies were conducted to address the effects of pollution in the coastal areas of India.

Result: These studies indicate that a marginal increase in microbial activity in some coastal areas of the country due to discharge of domestic sewage.

NCSCM has mapped the boundaries of coastal ecologically sensitive areas (ESAs) (CRZ I areas) areas which include mangroves, coral reefs, salt marshes, seagrass beds, turtle nesting grounds, etc, for the entire country as per the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) 2011 notification, issued under the Environment Protection Act, 1986.

NCSCM has undertaken studies on the impact of tropical cyclone (Lehar) on the seagrass ecosystems in Ross and Smith Islands in Andaman, wherein about 2 ha of seagrass beds have been destroyed.

Studies on the coral reefs in Palk Bay and Gulf of Mannar show that about 25% of the reefs have bleached during April-May, 2016 due to elevated sea surface temperature and further studies on their recovery are underway.

Urban Vidyut Abhiyantas (UVAs)

(Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.)

What: Ministry of Power has taken up this innovative experiment of placement of young professionals called UVA’s

Why: Ministry of Power has taken up this innovative experiment of placement of young professionals called UVA’s

Who: UVAs are the missionaries of technology. These UVA’s having an experience of 3 to 15 years in Project Management/ Distribution Franchisee/ Infrastructure Sector shall be positioned in every Discom.

Role of UVAs:             supporting the Discoms towards urban distribution strengthening and IT enablement initiatives leading to enhanced Consumer Connect

Just like Grameen Vidyut Abhiyantas (GVA’s) who expedited rural electrification across the country

Background

  • What: Ministry of Power had launched its urban flagship program called IPDS with a total outlay of Rs 65,424 crore
  • About: Under the Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS), the State Governments with the support of the Central Government are working towards ensuring 24×7 power for all.
  • Eligibility: All Discoms (Distribution Companies), including the Private Sector Discoms as well as the State Power Departments, are eligible for financial assistance under the scheme

 

‘Disha’ for timely implementation of Central Schemes

(Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.)

What: Centre today announced the formation of District Development Coordination and Monitoring Committee (DDCMC) to be named “Disha”

To: Effective development coordination of almost all the programmes of Central Government, whether it is for infrastructure development or Social and human resource development.

Purpose:

  • To coordinate with Central and State and local Panchayat Governments, for successful and timely implementation of the schemes.
  • To ensure the participation of people’s representative at all levels in it and successful implementation of flagship programme of central government.

How: DDCMC supersedes the District Vigilance & Monitoring Committee currently mandated by Ministry of Rural Development and the new committee will be known as “Disha”.

Programmes to be covered under includes

  1. Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS)
  2. Deen Dayal Antordaya Yojna – NRLM
  3. Deen Dayal Upadhyay – Gramin Kaushalya Yojna (DDU-GKY)
  4. Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY)
  5. National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP)
  6. Pradhan Mantri Gramin Awaas Yojna (PMAY-G)
  7. Swachh Bharat Mission – Gramin (SBM- G)
  8. National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP)
  9. Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojna (PMKSY) – Intregrated Watershed Management Programme (IWMP)
  10. Digital India Land Record Modernisation Programme (NLRMP)
  11. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Rurban Mission – National Rurban Mission (NRuM)
  12. Deen Dayal Upadhyay Gram Jyoti Yojna (DDUGJY)
  13. Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Housing for All – Urban)
  14. Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM)
  15. National Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY)
  16. Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT)
  17. Smart City Mission
  18. Ujjwal DISCOM Assurance Yojna (UDAY)
  19. Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY)
  20. National Heath Mission (NHM)
  21. Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA)
  22. Intregrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS)
  23. Mid-Day Meal Scheme
  24. Pradhan Mantri UJJWALA Yojana (PMUY) – LPG Connection to BPL families
  25. Jal Marg Vikash Project
  26. Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojna
  27. Digital India – Public Internet Access Programme – providing Common Service Centre in each Gram Panchayat
  28. Infrastructure related programme like Telecom, railways, highways, waterways, mines, etc.

 

Steps to Increase Farmers’ Income

(Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.)

  • Soil Health Card (SHC) scheme by which the farmers can know the major and minor nutrients available in their soils which will ensure judicious use of fertiliser application and thus save money of farmers.
  • Neem Coated Urea is also being promoted to regulate urea use, enhance its availability to the crop and reduce cost of fertilizer application.
  • Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) is being implemented with a view to promoting organic farming in the country. This will improve soil health and organic matter content and increase net income of the farmer so as to realise premium prices.
  • Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY) is being implemented to expand cultivated area with assured irrigation, reduce wastage of water and improve water use efficiency.

Schemes to cover nature related risks:

  • A new crop Insurance scheme namely Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) to replace National Agricultural Insurance Scheme (NAIS) and Modified NAIS (MNAIS) from Kharif 2016 season.
  • Farmers will get full insurance cover as there will be no capping of sum insured and consequently the claim amount will not be cut or reduced.
  • Provide insurance cover for all stages of the crop cycle including post-harvest risks in specified instances.

Scheme to transfer remunerative prices to farmers:

  • A Market Intervention Scheme, namely e-NAM
  • Releases of grants under the scheme are made on the basis of completion of 3 reform pre-requisites i.e. Single Trading License, Single License Fee and Creation of e-Platform for Trading.
  • The scheme was launched on 14.04.2016 in 8 States viz. Gujarat, Telangana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Jharkhand covering 21 markets. As of now 23 markets integrated.

Scheme to increase productivity:

  • National Food Security Mission (NFSM) pulses:
  • Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH);
  • National Mission on Oilseeds & Oilpalm (NMOOP);
  • National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA);
  • National Mission on Agricultural Extension & Technology (NMAET);
  • Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY).
  • Government undertakes procurement of wheat and paddy under its ‘MSP operations’.
  • Government implements Market Intervention Scheme (MIS) for procurement of agricultural and horticultural commodities not covered under the Minimum Price Support Scheme on the request of State/UT Government.
    • MIS is implemented in order to protect the growers of these commodities from making distress sale in the event of bumper crop when the prices tend to fall below the economic level/cost of production.

 

Beneficiaries of Supplementary Nutrition Programme under ICDS increase by nearly 8% over the last four years

(Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.)

What: number of beneficiaries [children (6 months to 6 years) and pregnant & lactating mothers] for supplementary nutrition under ICDS scheme of Ministry of Women and Child Development have increased

Stats: from 956.12 lakh to 1030.14 lakh

  • Number of beneficiaries [children (3-6 years) for pre-school education increased from 353.29 lakh to 354.05 lakh
  • Anganwadi Centres have also increased from 1338732 to 1349091

SDG:

  • Development Agenda for 2016-2030 of United Nations, articulating the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), was adopted and signed by Government of India in September, 2015
  • SDGs comprise of 17 goals and 169 targets
  • Goals 2 and 3 relate to improvement in nutrition and ensuring healthy lives & promoting well-being for all at all ages respectively.

Who implements: Food and Nutrition Board of WCD Ministry, through its regional field units.

  • Engaged in conducting training programmes in nutrition,
  • Advocacy towards generating awareness through nutrition education programmes on the importance of healthy balanced diets
  • Through the use of locally available foods, mass awareness campaigns and use of electronic and print media.

ICDS

  • A centrally sponsored Scheme being implemented by the State Governments/UT Administrations.
  • Aims at holistic development of children below 6 years of age, pregnant women and lactating mothers

Package of six services

  1. Supplementary nutrition;
  2. Immunization;
  3. Health check-up;
  4. Referral services;
  5. Pre-school non-formal education
  6. Nutrition & health education

Three of the six services namely Immunisation, Health Check-up and Referral Services are delivered through Public Health Infrastructure under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.

Government of India approved the Restructuring and Strengthening of ICDS Scheme while continuing under ICDS scheme

  1. to prevent and reduce young child under nutrition by 10 % points in 0-3 years and enhance early development and learning outcomes in all children below six years of age
  2. improved care and nutrition of girls and women and to reduce anaemia prevalence in young children, girls and women by 1/5th
  3. achieve time bound goals and outcomes with results based monitoring of indicators at different levels.

The existing package of services under the Scheme were reformatted

Care & Nutrition counselling

  • Infant & Young Child Feeding (IYCF) Promotion and Counselling,
  • Maternal Care and Counselling,
  • Care, Nutrition, Health & Hygiene Education
  • Community based care and management of underweight children

Health Services

  • Immunization and micronutrient supplementation
  • Health Check-up
  • Referral Services

for children in the age group of 0-6 years and Pregnant and Lactating mothers

GS3

Import of GM Food Products

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

What: The import policy of Genetically Modified Food, Feed, Genetically Modified Organism (GMOs) and Living Modified Organisms (LMOs) has been notified by Directorate General of Foreign Trade

Under: General Notes regarding Import Policy in ITC (HS) 2012, Schedule-1 (Import Policy).

As per policy: import of GM food requires prior approval of the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) constituted by the Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change.

Customs Act 1962

  • It is the basic statue which governs /regulates entry/exit of different categories of goods into or outside the country.
  • It is the responsibility of the Customs to ensure that all the imported/ exported goods fulfil the prescribed legal and procedural requirements laid down under Customs act, 1962 and allied laws including payment of the duties leviable, if any.

FSSAI

  • Import of food products is regulated under (FSSAI), 2006.
  • Indian Customs can clear food products including Genetically Modified (GM) food products only after necessary approval/No Objection Certificate (NOC) by FSSAI.
  • FSSAI has informed that no genetically modified food has been cleared for import through the FSSAI locations.

 

Startup India Programme

(Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.)

About: Startup India is a flagship initiative launched by the Government of India on 16th January, 2016

Aim:

  • To build a strong eco-system for nurturing innovation and startups in the country which will drive economic growth and generate large scale employment opportunities.
  • To empower startups to grow through innovation and design.

Salient features

Simplification and Handholding

  • Simple Compliance Regime for startups based on Self-certification
  • Launch of Mobile app and Portal for compliance and information exchange
  • Startup India Hub to handhold startups during various phases of their development
  • Legal support and fast-tracking patent examination at reduced costs
  • Relaxed norms of public procurement for startups
  • Faster exit for startups

Funding support and Incentives

  • Providing funding support through a Fund of Funds with a corpus of Rupees 10,000 crore
  • Credit guarantee fund for startups
  • Tax exemption on capital gains invested in Fund of Funds
  • Tax exemption to startups for 3 years

Industry-Academia Partnership and Incubation

  • Organizing Startup Fests to showcase innovations and providing collaboration platforms
  • Launch of Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) with Self –Employment and Talent Utilization (SETU) Program of NITI Aayog
  • Harnessing private sector expertise for setting up incubators
  • Setting up of 7 new research parks modelled on the Research Park at IIT Madras
  • Launching of innovation focused programs for students.
  • Annual Incubator Grand Challenge to promote good practices among incubators.

Credit Guarantee Fund

  • The initiative provides for creating a credit guarantee fund for startups through Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) with a Corpus of Rs.500 crore per year for the next four years.
  • With this Action Plan the Government intends to accelerate spreading of the startup movement:
  • From digital/technology sector to a wide array of sectors including agriculture, manufacturing, social sector, healthcare, education, etc.; and
  • From existing tier 1 cities to tier 2 and tier 3 cities including semi-urban and rural areas.

Startup India Action plan

Startup India Portal and Mobile App

  • launched as online platform for providing updates, information, recognition and eligibility certificates to Startups and other stakeholders

Startup India Hub

  • To resolve queries and provide handholding support to Startups.

Fund of Funds:

  • A ‘fund of funds’ of INR 10,000 crores to support innovation driven Startups has been established which shall be managed by SIDBI. The fund will invest in SEBI registered Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs) which, in turn, will invest in Startups. It will act as an enabler to attract private capital in the form of equity, quasi-equity, soft loans and other risk capital for Startups. Rs. 500 crore has been released to SIDBI in FY2015-16 and Rs. 600 crore in FY2016-17.

Tax Incentives:

  • The Finance Act, 2016 Section 80- IAC has provision for Startups (Companies and LLPs) to get income tax exemption for 3 years in a block of 5 years, if they are incorporated between 1st April 2016 and 31st March 2019.

Self-Certification:

  • CPCB has exempted industries in “white” category from all the applicable self-certifications under the 3 environment related Acts (The water (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act, 1974; The Water (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Cess (Amendment) Act, 2003 and The Air (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act, 1981) listed in the Startup India Action Plan.

Atal Innovation Mission (AIM)

  • Guidelines for harnessing private sector expertise to set up incubators, organizing annual grand challenge for innovative solutions to problems faced by industry and those posed by ministries as well as a grand challenge for incubators and establishment of tinkering labs have been formulated and published on NITI Aayog’s and Startup India websites

Relaxed Norms for Public Procurement:

  • Relaxed norms for public procurement for micro and small enterprises have been provisioned in the Procurement Policy of Ministry of MSME.

IPR benefits

  • A panel of facilitators has been constituted for assistance in filing Intellectual Property (IP) applications. DIPP would bear the facilitation cost on behalf of Startups and also provide rebate in the statutory fee for filing application

 

Web and App Services for Farmers

(Topic: e-technology in the aid of farmers,

Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.)

What: Government has launched number of web and mobile based applications for dissemination of information on agricultural related activities, free of cost, for the benefit of farmers and other stakeholders.

Some major mobile applications

  1. Kisan Suvidha: This app has a simple interface and provides information on five critical parameters- weather, input dealers, market price, plant protection and expert advisories.
  2. Pusha Krishi: This app provides information on latest technologies to farmers.
  3. Crop Insurance: – Famer can learn of insurance premium, notified area etc. on the mobile.
  4. Agri Market: – Farmer can learn of the prices of various crops in the mandis near him.
  5. India Weather:- This app provides current weather and 4 days weather forecast across the country for more than 300 cities.

Major Web portals developed

  1. Farmers’Portal: Farmers’ Portal is a one stop shop for farmers where a farmer can get information on a range of topics including seeds, fertilizer, pesticides, credit, good practices, dealer network, and availability of inputs, beneficiary list and Agromet advisories.
  2. mKisan Portal: This is a unified platform from where officials and scientists can send targeted text and voice based advisories to the farmers on a host of issues related to agriculture and allied sectors.
  3. Crop Insurance Portal: To provide complete information related to Crop Insurance scheme being implemented in the country.
  4. Participatory Guarantee System of India (PGS) Portal. This is a portal for encouraging participatory approach to certification of organic farming in the country.

 

Linkage Between Farmers and Industry

(Topic: Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices; Public Distribution System- objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security)

About: To successfully deal with a range of challenges that confront farmers today, especially the constraints imposed by the small size of holdings of small and marginal farmers, member based Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs) offer a proven pathway in overcoming these problems.

How: FPO members are able to leverage collective strength and bargaining power

  • To access financial and non-financial inputs and services and appropriate technologies,
  • Reduce transaction costs,
  • Tap high value markets
  • Enter into partnerships with private entities on more equitable terms.

In order to integrate the food processing industries with farmers, the Government has requested the States/Union Territories (UTs) to amend their marketing regulations to promote direct purchase of agricultural produce from farmers by processors at their farm gate.

Cold Chain Scheme

  • Under Central Sector Scheme of Cold Chain, Value Addition and Preservation Infrastructure, the Government is providing financial assistance in the form of grant-in-aid of maximum Rs. 10 Crore per project
  • To set up of integrated cold chain and preservation infrastructure facilities without any break from the farm gate to the consumer.
  • The integrated cold chain and preservation infrastructure can be set up by
    • individuals,
    • group of entrepreneurs,
    • cooperative societies,
    • Self Help Groups (SHGs),
    • Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs),
    • NGOs,
    • Central/State PSUs, etc

Mega Food Parks

The scheme of Mega Food Park aims to create modern infrastructure for food processing and to provide a mechanism to bring together farmers, processors and retailers

  • To link agricultural production to the market so as to ensure
    • maximizing value addition,
    • minimizing wastages,
    • increasing farmers’ income
    • creating employment opportunities especially in rural areas.
  • Government has sanctioned 42 Mega Food Parks for setting up in the Country.

Other schemes

The Government is providing funds to State Governments under several Central Sector Schemes like

  • Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY),
  • Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH)
  • National Food Security Mission (NFSM) with provision for promotion of FPOs.

PSF

  • The Government has created a Price Stabilization Fund (PSF) with an initial corpus of Rs. 500 crore during year 2015-16 and Rs. 900 crore for year 2016-17
  • To support market interventions for price control of important agri-commodities like onion, potatoes and pulses.
  • The intervention is expected to regulate price volatility through procurement by State Govt. and Central agencies of selected produce, buffer stock, import and regulated release into the market.

Agricultural Education

Stats:

  • At present there are 73 Agricultural Universities (AUs) including 05 Deemed-to-be universities, 02 Central Agricultural Universities, 04 Central Universities with agriculture faculty.
  • Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) is conducting All India Entrance Examination every year for filling up of 15% and 25% seats respectively for undergraduate and post-graduate degree programmes every year.

Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR)

Has initiated number of steps for quality assurance, i.e.,

  • accreditation of all Agricultural Universities,
  • ranking of all Agricultural Universities as per standard of education,
  • enhancing number of scholarships
  • fellowships for students and enhancing competency of faculty, etc.

Implementing a Plan scheme, ‘Strengthening and Development of Higher Agricultural Education in India’ with an approved outlay of Rs.2900 crores during the XII plan.

  • The scheme strives to plan, undertake, aid, promote and coordinate agricultural education in the country with an aim to enhance the quality and relevance of higher agricultural education

Provides stipend and Fellowship/assistance under various programmes at UG and PG level

  • Rural Awareness Work Experience (RAWE) and National Talent Scholarships (NTS) for the UG students
  • Senior Research Fellowships (SRF) and Junior Research Fellowships (JRF) for PG and UG students respectively

Revised syllabus of undergraduate education of Agriculture and its allied sub-sectors including

  • Horticulture,
  • Dairy Technology,
  • Food Technology,
  • Fisheries,
  • Biotechnology,
  • Engineering,
  • Forestry,
  • Home Science
  • Sericulture

GoI scheme

  • Agri-Clinics and Agri-Business Centre (AC&ABC) in 2002 to attract education youth in agriculture sector for creation of self employment opportunities
  • ‘Attracting and Retaining Youth in Agriculture’ (ARYA) during the XII plan. Objectives
    • to attract and empower the youth in Rural areas to take up various Agriculture, allied and service sector enterprises for sustainable income and gainful employment in selected districts
    • to enable the Farm Youth to establish network groups to take up resource and capital intensive activities like processing, value addition and marketing
    • to demonstrate functional linkage with different institutions and stakeholders for convergence of opportunities available under various schemes/programme for sustainable development of Youth.

Steps for technological upgradation of PDS

  • Depot Online System has been launched and is operational at 377 depots (including 30 Pilot Depots).
  • User Credentials for 494 depots have been created by the System Integrator (SI) and have been shared with the concerned Depots and District offices along with the link for accessing the application for login in.
  • Training for the implementation of the application at depots other than Pre-Pilot & Pilot Depot have been conducted by SI, at 164 FCI District Offices, 25 FCI Regional Offices and 5 FCI Zonal Offices have been completed.
  • Hardware has been delivered at 494 Depots and 117 District Offices.
  • E-mail gateway has been provided by NIC and SI has integrated the same with the application.
  • Digitization of Beneficiary Database for PDS- Enable correct identification of beneficiaries; removal of bogus cards and better targeting of food subsidies.
  • Computerisation of Supply Chain Management – Timely availability of foodgrains to intended beneficiaries at FPS; check leakages/diversion.
  • Redressal Mechanism and Transparency Portal – Introduce transparency & public accountability in the implementation of TPDS.
  • This information was given by the Minister of State Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Shri C.R.Chaudhary in a written reply in Lok Sabha today.

 

Upgradation of Barak Missile System

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

What: Long Range Surface to Air Missile (LR-SAM) and Medium Range Surface to Air Missile (MR-SAM), upgraded version of Barak Missile System, are being jointly developed / produced by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and IAI, Israel.

LR-SAM

  • It has a range of 70 Km.
  • Two Operational Flight Trials (OFT) have been conducted successfully from INS Kolkata on 29th December 2015.

MR-SAM

  • Built-to-specification (BTS) has been finalized.
  • Preliminary and Critical Design Reviews of the system have been completed.
  • DRDO has recently flight tested 3 MR-SAM systems successfully at ITR, Chandipur

LR-SAM / MR-SAM: can detect incoming enemy aerial targets i.e. aircraft or anti-ship missile over 100 km away and destroy them at range out to 70 km and thus provide the air defence capability to the assets of Indian Armed Forces.

Defence Projects Through Private Sector

(Topic: Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.)

What: Defence capital acquisitions are carried out as per Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) wherein emphasis has been given to boost domestic defence industry

  • Higher preference to ‘Buy (Indian-IDDM)’, ‘Buy (Indian)’ and ‘Buy & Make (Indian)’ categories of capital acquisition over ‘Buy (Global)’ category.

Some of the major policy initiatives taken by the Government to assist the domestic private sector towards acquisition of indigenous technology or from other countries are as follows:

  • Indian companies are allowed for tie-ups with a foreign Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) for Transfer of Technology (ToT) under ‘Buy & Make (Indian)’ category.
  • Under ‘Buy & Make’ Category of Capital Acquisition, the foreign vendor is required to transfer the Technology to Indian Production agency for indigenous production of the items. Provisions have also been made to allow Foreign OEM to select Indian Production agency of its choice for transfer of technology.
  • Defence Offset Guidelines provides for Transfer of Technology to Indian Companies as one of the eligible avenues for discharge of offsets.
  • Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has issued Guidelines for Transfer of Technology which provides for an institutional mechanism for transfer of technology developed by DRDO to public and private sector industry.

 

Awareness on Environmental Degradation

(Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment)

What: Government has initiated steps for educating and creating awareness on protection and conservation of environment among general public.

‘Environmental Education, Awareness and Training (EEAT)’ scheme of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change was launched in the FY 1983-84 with the basic objective to:

  • Promote environmental awareness among all sections of the society and to mobilize people’s participation for conservation of environment.
  • Achieved through
    • National Green Corps,
    • National Environment Awareness Campaign,
    • Seminars/Workshops
    • National Nature Camping Programme

Research

  • Carrying out research in the field of environment conservation is an ongoing activity of the institutions of the central and state governments as well as in the private sector.
  • An amount of Rs. 13 crore has been released since 2014-15 for this purpose.
  • Research proposals are received in the Ministry from time to time for taking up various issues on environmental concerns.
  • Objectives:
    • To generate information and knowledge required for developing strategies, techniques and methodologies for better environmental management,
    • To find practical solutions to the problems of environment protection and management
    • To build indigenous capacities and strengthen scientific manpower in multidisciplinary and emerging areas of environmental sciences.

Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification, 2006

  • Notified by MOEFCC under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 which deals with the process to grant Environmental Clearances.
  • Under it,
    • Construction of new projects or activities
    • The expansion or modernization of existing projects or activities listed in the schedule to the said notification entailing capacity addition with change in process and or technology
    • Shall be under taken in any part of India only after the prior environmental clearance from the Central Government or as the case may be, from the State Level Environment Impact Assessment Authority

 

Climate Change & Agriculture Sector

(Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment)

What: Human-induced emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) including those from the agriculture sector are considered to be the drivers of observed climate change.

  • While annual total GHG emissions from agriculture in 2010 are estimated to be of the order of 10-12% of global anthropogenic emission, the research conducted by the government indicates that agriculture in India contributed to 18% of the total emissions of India in 2010.
  • The gases emitted from this sector are mainly methane (CH4) and Nitrous Oxide (N2O).

How to mitigate

  • As agriculture sector is the main source of food, reducing food loss and waste leads to avoidance of unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions and helps in mitigating climate change through
    • Better management of food utilisation, distribution & sustainable lifestyle.
  • National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture launched in 2010 under National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) addresses both mitigation and adaptation to climate change through programmes such as
    • System of Rice Intensification (SRI) against conventional rice cultivation
    • coverage of milch animals under Ration Balancing Programme
  • National Initiative on Climate Resilient Agriculture has also been launched in 2011 to address both adaptation and mitigation in agriculture sector.

National Food Security Act, 2013

  • Aimed at ensuring, inter alia, timely and efficient procurement and distribution of food grains,
  • Building up and maintenance of food stocks,
  • Efficient storage, movement and delivery of food stocks to the distributing agencies
  • Monitoring of production, stock and price levels of food grains.

 

Increase in Exports

(Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.)

What: The merchandise exports from the country have registered an increase of 1.27 percent in Dollar terms (6.72 percent in Rupee terms) in June 2016 compared to the same month of the previous year.

Key efforts made by Government for increasing exports are

  • The New Foreign Trade Policy (2015?20) announced on 1st April 2015 with a focus on supporting both manufacturing and services exports and improving the ‘Ease of Doing Business’
  • In the light of the major challenges being faced by Indian exporters in the backdrop of the global economic slowdown, the envisaged revenue outgo under MEIS was increased from Rs. 18000 Crore to Rs. 21000 Crore in October 2015
  • The Government is implementing the Niryat Bandhu Scheme with an objective to reach out to the new and potential exporters including exporters from Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and mentor them through-
    • Orientation programmes, counselling sessions, individual facilitation, etc., on various aspects of foreign trade for being able to get into international trade and boost exports from India.
  • By way of trade facilitation and enhancing the ease of doing business, Government reduced the number of mandatory documents required for exports and imports to three each, which is comparable with international benchmarks.
  • Government continues to provide the facility of access to duty free raw materials and capital goods for exports through schemes like Advance Authorisation, Duty Free Import Authorization (DFIA), Export Promotion Capital Goods (EPCG) and drawback / refund of duties.

 

R & D Units of the Ministry of Railways

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

What: Research, Designs and Standards Organization (RDSO), situated at Lucknow, is the sole Research and Development (R&D) organisation of Indian Railways and functions as the technical advisor to Railway Board and Zonal Railways.

Objectives:

  • Development of new and improved designs of systems and equipments
  • Development, adoption and absorption of new technology for use on Indian Railways
  • Development of overall system standards
  • Development of specifications for equipment, components & materials
  • Testing and Recommending authority for Statutory clearances (including Metro system)
  • Assistance in technical investigations
  • Quality Assurance of delegated items

Some of the important work done by RDSO, during the past three years

  • Advance Warning System (Radio Based) to pre-warn road user about approaching trains at unmanned level crossing gate
  • Crashworthy design of coach
  • Fog PASS (Pilot Assistance System for Safety) with enhanced features
  • Development of indigenous Advanced Auxiliary Warning System (AAWS)
  • Development of satellite based accident site communication system
  • Development of double decker coach design
  • High capacity milk tank van
  • Upgradation of existing wagons to 25t
  • Development of energy efficient HOG (Head on Generation) train power system for Indian Railways in electric locos
  • Development of WDG5 locomotive for increasing throughput
  • Development of 9000 HHP locomotive for DFCCIL Western Corridor
  • Development of Crew Voice and Video Recording System(CVVRS)
  • Operation of Gatimaan Express
  • Design & development of new wagon for salt loading
  • Design & development of auto car wagon
  • Development of world-class Interiors in ICF type coaches
  • Differently-abled passenger coaches
  • Broadband internet on running trains through two-way satellite communication
  • Development of Integrated passenger information system (PIS) for mainline and EMU coaches
  • Environment friendly coach toilet discharge system
  • Introduction of biodiesel over IR
  • Introduction of natural gas operated trains over IR

The total budget allocated to RDSO is 313.10 crores

Anil Kakodkar Committee Report on Railway Safety

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

What: High Level Safety Review Committee was constituted by the Ministry of Railways in 2011. It submitted report in 2012

Few Recommendations

  • General Safety Matters,
  • Organizational Structure,
  • Empowerment at Working Level,
  • Safety Related Works and Issues,
  • Filling up of vacancies in critical safety categories and Manpower Planning Issues,
  • Plugging the shortage of critical Safety Spares,
  • External Interferences – Removal of Encroachment and Sabotage,
  • Upgradation of Signaling,
  • Telecommunication and Train Protection System,
  • Upgradation of Rolling Stock, Track, Bridges,
  • Elimination of Level Crossings,
  • Human Resource Development with emphasis on Education and Training Institutes on Indian Railways,
  • Eco-system and Safety Architectures on Indian Railways.

Result:

Of the 106 recommendations,

  • 68 recommendations have been fully accepted,
  • 19 partially accepted
  • 19 not accepted by the Ministry of Railways.
  • So far, 22 recommendations of the Committee have been implemented.
  • 20 recommendations are in final stages of implementation.

 

Make in India Initiatives of Indian Railways

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

What: to give boost to the “Make in India” scheme and to generate more jobs in India

Following projects have been sanctioned

  • Setting up of a traction alternator manufacturing factory for high horse power Diesel Locomotives at Vidisha.
  • Augmentation of production capacity from 200 to 250 high horse power locos per year including facilities for fabrication of crank case for high horse power diesel locomotives at Diesel Locomotive Works, Varanasi.
  • Setting up of a Forged wheel factory at Raebareli by Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited.
  • Ministry of Railways has already planned to manufacture two rakes for Kolkata metro & EMU rakes for Mumbai area with indigenously developed IGBT based 3 – phase propulsion system under ‘Make in India’ scheme.

Trial of Talgo Train

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

What: The trials with Talgo Coaches started with effect from 24.05.2016. The trials on main line track have been completed. The trials on Rajdhani track are under progress.

Features:

  • Natural tilting leading to higher speed on curves.
  • Independent Axle-less wheels.
  • Lightweight Aluminium body coaches.
  • Disc brake system.
  • Articulated wheels to keep wheel parallel to track.
  • Integrated suspension.
  • Enhanced passenger comfort.
  • Designed for operational speed of 200 kmph.

Presently there is no proposal to purchase Talgo coaches.

Industrial Development in North-Eastern Region

(Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.)

What: Industrial Development in North-Eastern Region

How: Policies and Programmes are directed towards development of infrastructure, entrepreneurship skills, markets and providing flow of credits to the entrepreneurs.

The Ministry has, through the North Eastern Development Finance Corporation Ltd. (NEDFi), undertaken techno-economic studies and resources mapping for the development of industries in the North Eastern Region.

Focus on:

  1. Cluster-based approach to industry,
  2. Industries based on local resources within the Region
  3. encouraging the industries in the medium and small-scale sectors.

Several projects for improvement in road, rail, air, communication, waterways and telecom network in the region have been taken up.

  • National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) in 2014, which is now fast tracking road building activity.
  • now better connected with broad gauging of the major rail networks in the entire region, the last being from Silchar to Agartala.
  • Heavy investment has been made in power transmission with two projects covering all the 8 states
  • Comprehensive Telecom Development Plan has enabled better mobile connectivity with new nodes at district, block and gram panchayat levels.
    • Internet services got a boost with the recent launch of international internet gateway from Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh to Agartala, making it the third in the country after Mumbai and Chennai.
  • Thrust has been given for promotion of Handlooms & Handicrafts
  • The DoNER Ministry organised a mega-event “Destination North East-2016” to showcase the inherent economic, social and cultural strength, potential and opportunities in the North East Region.

 

Initiatives Taken for Improvement in Quality of Low Grade Coal

(Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.)

What: in order to produce better quality coal, CIL has adopted the several measures like

  • Selective mining by Surface Miner in opencast mine
  • Continuous Miner in underground mine for elimination of bands
  • Wherever necessary /feasible, appropriate positioning of OB and coal benches to avoid contamination
  • Scrapping/cleaning of coal benches before blasting
  • Installation of metal detectors / magnetic separators over running conveyors before coal loading
  • Crushing arrangement are also provided for supply of sized coal for better consumer satisfaction
  • Participation of consumer representative in Joint Sampling/ Third Party Sampling and analysis of coal with consumers

To increase the availability of coal in the country, CIL has taken major steps viz., expansion of existing mines, opening new mines, speedy evacuation of coal by undertaking three major Railway infrastructure projects to be executed by JV companies

Encouraging Crop Diversification

(Topic: Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country, different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage)

What: Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) advocates crop diversification with low water consuming crops in place of high water consuming crops like rice, sugarcane and banana for rain dependent areas and areas having lack of assured irrigation.

How: Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare is promoting

  • Cultivation of pulses and coarse cereals undernational Food Security Mission (NFSM)
  • Oilseeds under National Mission on Oilseeds and Oil Palm (NMOOP) in the country

Water conservation techniques

  • Direct Seeded Rice (DSR),
  • System of Rice Intensification (SRI),
  • alternate wetting & drying method,
  • laser land levelling,
  • adoption of short duration
  • drought tolerant varieties

Enhance water use efficiency in water intensive crops through

  • Promotion of water saving tools/technologies like sprinkler and drip irrigation,
  • Creation of farm ponds,
  • Efficient delivery and distribution systems
  • Adoption of agronomic practices like alternate row/furrow irrigation, mulching, etc.

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