(Topic: Indian culture- Art forms, Literature and Architecture)
About- Minister of State (I/C) for Culture & Tourism attended a special event at National Gallery of Australia (NGA) in Canberra, Australia
Ancient Artefacts- Senator Mitch Fifield formally handed over three ancient artefacts stolen and smuggled out of India and inadvertently acquired by National Gallery of Australia. The returned artefacts are – Goddess Pratyangira, Seated Buddha, a third century rock carving of worshippers Buddha.
Earlier- During the visit of Australian Prime Minister to India in September 2014 the Australian government had also returned statue of ‘Dancing Siva’.
India to host 1st BRICS Young Scientists Conclave
(Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and further structure, mandate)
About- Department of Science & Technology (DST), Government of India, under the BRICS framework, is hosting a five day event where a group of about 50 young scientists/ researchers from BRICS countries are meeting in Bengaluru from 26-30th September, 2016.
Organized and coordinated by- National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), Bengaluru.
Focal theme- ‘Building, Responsive, Inclusive and Collective Solutions’
- Building a BRICS Innovation Corps – who individually or collectively have specialized capability to work on their novel scientific ideas and technological solutions which transform and accelerate change through better quality of life and higher incomes for citizen of this region.
- It will pave way for creation of strong generation of S&T leadership that can accelerate change collectively.
Focus of the Conclave would be on three thematic topics – Computational Intelligence + Energy Solutions + Affordable Healthcare.
Participants are drawn from- Science, engineering and allied disciplines.
Outcome- Meet would provide a platform for engaging, connecting and networking among young scientists to hold discussions and find solutions to some of the common challenges and problems being faced in BRICS countries.
- BRICS Young Scientist Forum (BRICS-YSF), under which the BRICS Young Scientists Conclave is being organised, was initiated at the 2ndBRICS Science, Technology and Innovation Ministerial Meeting at Brasilia in March, 2015.
- The respective Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Ministries of BRICS countries are the lead coordinating organisations for this Forum on co-investment and co-ownership principles.
- Two reports will be released during the Conclave.
- First report titled “BRICS Science and Technology Enterprise Partnership” is prepared by a group of eminent scholars. It envisions sustained critical efforts for achieving Science & Technology Research leadership and product driven enterprise mode partnership. It offers new ways for BRICS cohesion and connecting to the world.
- Second report titled “Hampi: Splendours of a World Heritage Site” projects the historical significance of the heritage site as well as depicts the Intellectual movements to technological Innovations to the Conclave participants.
- Conclave also offers a unique opportunity of witnessing India’s scientific, engineering, architectural, philosophical and cultural tradition, as provided through a field visit to Hampi, an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
BRICS Agriculture and Agrarian Development Ministers to Meet on 23rd September, 2016
(Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and further structure, mandate)
About- The 6th meeting of BRICS on Agriculture and Agrarian Development begins in New Delhi on, 22nd September, 2016 with an official level meeting to be followed by a Ministerial meeting the next day.
Two day conference will be hosted by- Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare and will centre on the five priority areas of cooperation in the BRICS Action Plan for 2012-2016.
Areas of cooperation include- Creating basic agricultural information exchange system + Strategy for ensuring access to food for the most vulnerable population + Reducing negative impact of climate change on food security and adaptation of agriculture to climatic changes + Enhancing agricultural technology cooperation and innovation + Trade and investment promotion.
Agenda of the BRICS meetings- Considerably has widened over the years encompassing global issues such as-> Climate change + Food and energy security + Strategic Development Goals (SDGs) + International Economic and Financial Situation etc.
BRICS Agricultural Research Centre which is likely to be set up in India
- Centre is expected to work on Agricultural Science, Policy Research and Development Extension, Technology Transfer, Training and Capacity Building and Scientific Information Sharing.
- Centre is expected to act as a forum for academicians, scholars, researchers and students for agricultural in advancement.
Significance of Agriculture for BRICS Countries-
- Agriculture is the mainstay of the economy of all BRICS countries being the major producers, consumers and exporters of Agricultural, Horticultural and Meat products.
- BRICS countries enjoy strength in the form of knowledge, expertise and research facilities and capabilities in agriculture.
- Strengths need to be converged and galvanized for ensuring global food security.
India and BRICS-
- India assumed the Presidency of BRICS countries this year and has been hosting a number of mega level meetings in different sectors at the ministerial and official level.
- BRICS summit is scheduled to be held in Goa on 15th and 16th October, 2016.
2nd Meeting of High Level Group of Eminent Experts to Strengthen the SAARC Anti-Terrorism Mechanism concludes
(Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and further structure, mandate)
About- The 2nd meeting of the High Level Group of Eminent Experts to strengthen the SAARC Anti-Terrorism Mechanism concluded.
Two-day meeting was chaired by Director, Intelligence Bureau with the participation of delegations from all SAARC member countries.
- Terrorism and the measures to strengthen the SAARC anti-terrorism mechanism by improving and sharing regional monitoring systems, real time exchange of information, capacity building through training of human resources and early ratification of the relevant SAARC Conventions.
- Besides terrorism, the important issues discussed during the meeting included drugs trafficking, financing of terrorism and cyber crimes.
Member Countries Participation-
- Member countries shared their national experiences on various related legislations to counter terrorism.
- All member countries of SAARC agreed to move forward towards operationalizing the SAARC Terrorist Offences Monitoring Desk (STOMD) and the SAARC Drugs Offences Monitoring Desk (SDOMD) in order to strengthen the combat efforts against terrorism.
- All member countries agreed to cooperate on capacity building by way of sharing their expertise on the subjects related to suicide terrorism, counter radicalisation, drugs trafficking and cyber security.
- Other issues like corruption and money laundering were also brought up for discussions as they also contribute towards terror financing.
Meeting endorsed the importance of regional cooperation in effectively tackling the menace of terrorism.
Amritsar tops the list & Pilgrim and tourisms cities Ujjain, Tirupati, Agra, Nashik, Madurai, Thanjavur, Ajmer, Varanasi selected
(Topic: Urban development)
About- The Golden Temple city of Amritsar topped the list of 27 new smart cities announced by the Minister of Urban Development. Eight other cities of pilgrim and tourism importance that made to the third list of smart cities are – Ujjain, Tirupati, Agra, Nashik, Madurai, Thanjavur, Ajmer and Varanasi.
With this the number of cities selected under Smart City Mission for financing implementation of smart city plans has gone up to 60.
The 27 cities selected in the latest round of ‘Smart City Challenge’ competition in order of the marks scored by them are:
Selected Smart cities-
- The 27 smart cities announced are from 12 States including 5 from Maharashtra, 4 each from Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, 3 from Uttar Pradesh and 2 each from Punjab and Rajasthan.
- Nagaland and Sikkim have made it to the smart city list for the first time.
Next round of competition to select the remaining 40 cities would begin in January next year.
IIMs to participate in developing 20 world class institutes in the country
(Topic: Human Resource and Development)
IIMs shall be forerunners in developing world class education system in the country. This was stressed by the Union Minister of Human Resource Development during an interaction with the Press after the meeting with Chairpersons and Directors of IIMs in Shillong.
How it will participate?
- Firstly, IIMs will submit plans for expansion of their intake capacity, so that more students get opportunity to enroll themselves in the best institutes.
- Directors of IIMs pondered upon the possibility of the extent of increasing the intake capacity in their respective institutes and assured of submitting the proposals at the earliest.
- IIMs will participate in a new initiative of government to make 20 world class universities/institutes. Of these 20 world class institutes that the government wishes to build, 10 institutes will be in government sector and 10 in private sector.
- IIMs will actively participate in creating contents for SWAYAM which is an Information Technology platform hosting Open Online Courses and will provide high quality education on various subjects from 9 to Under Graduate and Post Graduate students — covering all disciplines. SWAYAM is a free course which can be availed online and shall be a complete channel of new Open Learning system comprising of lectures, reading materials, tutorials, mid exams, final exams and certification.
To overcome the shortage of quality faculties in Institutions-
- Union Minister expressed that creating more quality Ph.D programmes will address the issue of shortage of faculties in institutes.
- And for creating more PhDs, better avenues of fellowship will be offered to willing candidates.
- In line with the IIT Council, where it has been decided to award PM’s scholarship for Ph.D programme, government approval will be sought for PM’s scholarship for best of PhD scholars in IIMs.
Paryawaran Bhawan Renamed Deendayal Antyoday Bhawan
(Topic: Urban Development, Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation & Information & Broadcasting)
About- “Paryavaran Bhawan” located in CGO Complex; New Delhi has been renamed as Pandit Deendayal Antyodaya Bhawan following the decision taken by the present Government.Union Minister for Urban Development, Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation and Information & Broadcasting along with Minister of State for Minority Affairs (Independent Charge) and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs unveiled the new name Plaque of the Building. Earlier, the Ministry of Environment and Forests was a major occupant of the Building and therefore, it was appropriately called ‘Paryavaran Bhawan’. However, the Ministry of Environment & Forests moved to its own separate premises on 14th June, 2014.
- To highlight the Antyodaya Philosophy of Pt. Deendayal who advocated the upliftment of the poorest and the most under-privileged strata of the Society.
- Deendayal Upadhyaya advocated the philosophy of ‘Integral Humanism’ which developed Body, Mind and Soul and reconciled Socialism and Capitalism.
- This being Pt. Deendayal ji’s birth centenary year it is only appropriate that an important building in the National capital is named after him. The Ministry of Minority affairs is completing a decade of its separate existence as a full-fledged Ministry.
Other Departments in the Building include-
- Defence, Central Police Organisations and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) which also work towards the strengthening and integrity of the Nation.
- New name will reflect the contribution and services of all Sections of the Government towards upliftment of the downtrodden.
- It will also serve a practical purpose as visitors who want to visit Ministry of Environment & Forests will also be guided to its new premises at ‘Indira Paryavaran Bhawan’ at Jor Bagh.
Cabinet approves merger of rail budget with general budget
(Topic: Cabinet decision)
About- Union Cabinet has approved the proposals of Ministry of Finance on certain landmark budgetary reforms relating to-
- Merger of Railway budget with the General budget
- Advancement of the date of Budget presentation from the last day of February and
- Merger of the Plan and the Non-Plan classification in the Budget and Accounts. All these changes will be put into effect simultaneously from the Budget 2017-18.
Merger of Railway Budget with the General Budget:
- Railways will continue to maintain its distinct entity -as a departmentally run commercial undertaking as at present;
- Railways will retain their functional autonomy and delegation of financial powers etc. as per the existing guidelines;
- Existing financial arrangements will continue wherein Railways will meet all their revenue expenditure, including ordinary working expenses, pay and allowances and pensions etc. from their revenue receipts;
- Capital at charge of the Railways estimated at Rs.2.27 lakh crore on which annual dividend is paid by the Railways will be wiped off. Consequently, there will be no dividend liability for Railways from 2017-18 and Ministry of Railways will get Gross Budgetary support. This will also save Railways from the liability of payment of approximately Rs.9,700 crore annual dividend to the Government of India;
Presentation of separate Railway budget started in the year 1924, and has continued after independence as a convention rather than under Constitutional provisions.
Merger would help in the following ways-
- Presentation of a unified budget will bring the affairs of the Railways to centre stage and present a holistic picture of the financial position of the Government.
- Merger is also expected to reduce the procedural requirements and instead bring into focus, the aspects of delivery and good governance.
- Consequent to the merger, the appropriations for Railways will form part of the main Appropriation Bill.
Advancement of the Budget presentation:
Cabinet has also approved, in principle, another reform relating to budgetary process, for advancement of the date of Budget presentation from the last day of February to a suitable date. The exact date of presentation of Budget for 2017-18 would be decided keeping in view the date of assembly elections to be held in States.
Help in following ways:
- Advancement of budget presentation by a month and completion of Budget related legislative business before 31stMarch would pave the way for early completion of Budget cycle and enable Ministries and Departments to ensure better planning and execution of schemes from the beginning of the financial year and utilization of the full working seasons including the first quarter.
- This will also preclude the need for seeking appropriation through ‘Vote on Account’ and enable implementation of the legislative changes in tax; laws for new taxation measures from the beginning of the financial year.
Merger of Plan and Non Plan classification in Budget and Accounts:
The third proposal approved by the Cabinet relates to the merger of Plan and Non Plan classification in Budget and Accounts from 2017-18, with continuance of earmarking of funds for Scheduled Castes Sub-Plan/Tribal Sub-Plan. Similarly, the allocations for North Eastern States will also continue.
Help in resolving the following issues:
- Plan/Non-Plan bifurcation of expenditure has led to a fragmented view of resource allocation to various schemes, making it difficult not only to ascertain cost of delivering a service but also to link outlays to outcomes
- The bias in favour of Plan expenditure by Centre as well as the State Governments has led to a neglect of essential expenditures on maintenance of assets and other establishment related expenditures for providing essential social services.
- Merger of plan and non-plan in the budget is expected
to provide appropriate budgetary framework having focus on the revenue, and capital expenditure.
Cabinet approves enactment of Admiralty (Jurisdiction and Settlement of Maritime Claims) Bill 2016 and to repeal five archaic admiralty statutes
(Topic: Cabinet Decisions)
About-Union Cabinet under the Chairmanship of PM has given its approval to the proposal of Ministry of Shipping to enact Admiralty (Jurisdiction and Settlement of Maritime Claims) Bill 2016 and to repeal five archaic admiralty statutes.
- Bill consolidates the existing laws relating to admiralty jurisdiction of courts, admiralty proceedings on maritime claims, arrest of vessels and related issues.
- It also repeals five obsolete British statues on admiralty jurisdiction in civil matters, namely-
- Admiralty Court Act, 1840
- Admiralty Court Act, 1861
- Colonial Courts of Admiralty Act, 1890
- Colonial Courts of Admiralty (India) Act, 1891
- Provisions of the Letters Patent, 1865 applicable to the admiralty jurisdiction of the Bombay, Calcutta and Madras High Courts.
Salient Features of Admirability Bill, 2016
- Bill confers admiralty jurisdiction on High Courts located in coastal states of India and this jurisdiction extends upto territorial waters.
- Jurisdiction is extendable, by a Central Government notification, upto exclusive economic zone or any other maritime zone of India or islands constituting part of the territory of India.
- It applies to every vessel irrespective of place of residence or domicile of owner.
- Inland vessels and vessels under construction are excluded from its application but the Central Government is empowered to make it applicable to these vessels also by a notification if necessary
- It does not apply to warships and naval auxiliary and vessels used for non-commercial purposes.
- Jurisdiction is for adjudicating on a set of maritime claims listed in the Bill.
- In order to ensure security against a maritime claim a vessel can be arrested in certain circumstances.
- Liability in respect of selected maritime claims on a vessel passes on to its new owners by way of maritime liens subject to a stipulated time limit
- In respect of aspects on which provisions are not laid down in the Bill, the Civil Procedure Code, 1908 is applicable.
- India is a leading maritime nation and maritime transportation caters to about ninety-five percent of its merchandise trade volume. However, under the present statutory framework, the admiralty jurisdiction of Indian courts flow from laws enacted in the British era.
- Admiralty jurisdiction relates to powers of the High Courts in respect of claims associated with transport by sea and navigable waterways.
- The repealing of five admiralty statutes is in line with the Government’s commitment to do away with archaic laws which are hindering efficient governance.
Health Ministry to launch “Mission Parivar Vikas” in 145 High Focus districts for improved family planning services
(Topic: Health and Family Welfare)
About- Ministry of Health and Family Welfare will soon launch “Mission Parivar Vikas” in 145 high focus districts having the highest total fertility rates in the country.
Objective of ‘Mission Parivas Vikas’– To accelerate access to high quality family planning choices based on information, reliable services and supplies within a rights-based framework.
Key strategic focus of this initiative will be on– Improving access to contraceptives through delivering assured services, dovetailing with new promotional schemes, ensuring commodity security, building capacity (service providers), creating an enabling environment along with close monitoring and implementation.
High focused districts-
- These 145 districts are in the seven high focus, high TFR states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Assam that constitute 44% of the country’s population.
Identification based on-
- Total fertility rate and service delivery (PPIUCD and Sterilization performance) for immediate, special and accelerated efforts to reach the replacement level fertility goals of 2.1 by 2025.
- Recent data suggests that these 145 districts have TFR of more than/equal to 3.0 (56% of the 261 districts in the 7 HFS) and are home to 28% of India’s population (about 33 Crores).
- However, only 22% of India’s protected couples and 40% of India’s couples with unmet need reside in these districts. These districts also have a substantial impact on maternal and child health indicators as about 25-30% of maternal deaths and 50% of infant deaths occur in these districts Moreover, 115 of these districts (79%) have high percentage of adolescent mothers.
The Mission will be implemented in all the 145 districts at one go.
Cabinet approves the River Ganga (Rejuvenation, Protection and Management) Authorities Order, 2016
(Topic: Cabinet Decision)
About- Union Cabinet under the Chairmanship of PM has approval the River Ganga (Rejuvenation, Protection and Management) Authorities Order, 2016.
- Order lays down a new institutional structure for policy and implementation in fast track manner and empowers National Mission for Clean Ganga to discharge its functions in an independent and accountable manner.
- It has been decided to grant a Mission status to the Authority with corresponding powers under Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 to take cognizance of the provision of the said Act and follow up thereon.
- Similarly, there is adequate delegation of financial and administrative powers which will distinctly establish NMCG as both responsibility and accountability centre and effectively accelerate the process of project implementation for Ganga Rejuvenation.
- Creation of the National Council for River Ganga (Rejuvenation, Protection and Management), as an Authority under the Chairperson of PM, in place of the existing NGRBA for overall responsibility for superintendence of pollution prevention and rejuvenation of river Ganga Basin.
- Setting up of an Empowered Task Force chaired by Hon’ble Minister of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation to ensure that the Ministries, Departments and State Governments concerned have-
- An action plan with specific activities, milestones, and timeliness for achievement of the objective of rejuvenation and protection of River Ganga,
- An mechanism for monitoring implementation of its action plans.
It will also ensure co-ordination amongst the Ministries and Departments and State Governments concerned for implementation of its action plans in a time bound manner.
- Declaration of National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) as an Authority with powers to issue directions and also to exercise the powers under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 to enable it to carry out efficiently its mandate. The NMCG will have a two-tier management structure with a Governing Council (GC), to be chaired by DG, NMCG. Below the GC, there will be an Executive Committee (EC) constituted out of the GC, to be chaired by the DG, NMCG.
- NMCG will comply with the decisions and directions of the National Ganga Council and implement the Ganga Basin Management Plan approved by it; co-ordinate and carry out all activities necessary for rejuvenation and protection of River Ganga and its tributaries.
- At the State level, it is proposed to create the State Ganga Committees in each of the defined States as Authority, to function as Authorities in respect of each State and perform the superintendence, direction and control over the District Ganga Protection Committees under their jurisdiction.
- Similarly, the District Ganga Committees in each of the Ganga Bank Districts will carry out the assigned tasks as an Authority at the district level, to take cognizance of local threats and needs of river Ganga and conceptualise such measures as necessary to ensure overall quality of water in river Ganga and monitor various projects being implemented.
The proposed structure is to be implemented through the subordinate legislation route by issue of an Order invoking the provisions under Section 3 of Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 (29 of 1986) relating to creation of authorities to achieve its objectives.
Features of the proposal:
- This will give more teeth to the NMCG for Clean Ganga for the environmental protection/rejuvenation of River Ganga. It will also ensure proper co-ordination with the local bodies and compliance with the directions of NMCG for pollution abatement of the river Ganga.
- NMCG will, however, take action only in the event when required action is not taken by CPCB. CPCB shall also take action jointly with NMCG under the provisions of said Act.
- A special focus of the revamped structure would be to maintain required ecological flows in the river Ganga with the aim of ensuring water quality and environmentally sustainable development.
- For taking up fast track creation of sewerage treatment infrastructure in Ganga basin, an innovative model based on Hybrid Annuity has also been approved. This will ensure that the infrastructure created under the project is operational on a sustainable basis.
- In order to ensure transparency and cost effectiveness, a provision for concurrent audit, safety audits, research institutions and financial framework has been made.
Central Board of Direct taxes (CBDT) Signs Five (5) more Unilateral Advance Pricing Agreements (APAs)
(Topic: Indian economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources. Growth, development and employment)
About- Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) entered into five (5) unilateral Advance Pricing Agreements (APAs) today with Indian taxpayers. One of these Agreements has a rollback provision in it. With these signings, the total number of APAs entered into by the CBDT has reached 103.
Five APAs signed pertain to diverse sectors include- Information Technology, Sourcing services and Investment advisory services.
The 103 APAs signed so far include 4 bilateral APAs and 99 unilateral APAs. A total of 39 APAs have already been concluded in six months of the current Financial Year.
The year-wise details of APA signings are as follows:
- The CBDT expects more APAs to be concluded and signed in the near future.
- The progress of the APA Scheme strengthens the Government’s commitment to foster a non-adversarial tax regime.
- Approach and functioning of the officers in the APA teams have been appreciated and acknowledged by the industry in India and abroad.
- APA Scheme was introduced in the Income-tax Act in 2012 and the Rollback provisions were introduced in 2014.
- Scheme endeavours to provide certainty to taxpayers in the domain of transfer pricing by specifying the methods of pricing and determining the arm’s length price of international transactions in advance for a maximum period of five future years.
- Further, the taxpayer has the option to rollback the APA for four preceding years. Since its inception, the APA scheme has attracted tremendous interest among Multi National Enterprises (MNEs) and more than 700 applications (both unilateral and bilateral) have been filed in just four years.
MICA Missile Firing by ‘TIGER’ Squadron of IAF
(Topic: Defence and Internal security)
‘Tigers’ the first squadron of Indian Air Force, successfully fired the recently acquired long range ‘Beyond Visual Range’ Air-to-Air MICA missile on a manoeuvring target from Mirage-2000 Upgrade aircraft.
- Missile achieved a Direct Hit on a target which was much smaller than an actual aircraft and flying at low altitude. The target was destroyed on missile impact validating the launch envelope of the missile.
- With the success of this mission, the IAF has become one of the few Air Forces in the world with the capability of such long range Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air missile. The operational success of this mission confirms a critical capability of Indian Air Force.
South Asia Biosafety Conference Inaugurated at Hyderabad
(Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights)
About- Thirteen nations are participating in the South Asia Biosafety Conference (SABC) at Hyderabad, to share international experience amongst scientists and regulators in biotechnology, environmental risk assessment and biosafety regulation in South Asia.
Focus- The three-day annual event will cover wide-ranging topics being covered in biotechnology R&D and biosafety.
Participants- More than two hundred participants from Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Iran, Japan, Kenya, Philippines, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Tajikistan, and USA are participating in the Conference.
Highlights of event-
- Inaugural session witnessed the release of Environmental Risk Assessment (ERA) guidance documents, recently adopted by the Indian regulatory authorities to strengthen the ERA process.
- This is the fourth Conference, with the first three Conferences being held in New Delhi, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
- SABC is organized on an annual basis in the South Asian region by ILSI Research Foundation, and Biotech Consortium India Limited (BCIL) under the South Asia Biosafety Programme.
- The International society of biosafety research (ISBR) has supported a poster session and a lighting round for young researchers with awards for best posters in biosafety. 37 posters by participants from various countries have been put up for display.
Biosafety measures its India-
- India has a robust regulatory framework for ensuring biosafety of all types of genetically engineered organisms under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
- Regulations are supported by a series of guidelines to deal with various aspects.
- Emphasize on capacity-building and sharing of experience has to be a continuous activity to ensure effective implementation of the biosafety regulations.
- Such activities also help in increasing awareness and creating an environment of understanding among various stakeholders.
- Modern world is facing enormous challenges to achieve food security.
- In the backdrop of increasing demand for food, dwindling natural resources and increasing biotic and abiotic stresses as a result of intensification of agriculture and climate change, the world has no option, but to accelerate utilization of the available and emerging technologies for improving world food production.
Solution- Agriculture biotechnology is a powerful tool for addressing the emerging challenges, as already demonstrated by the fast adoption of such technologies in dealing with biotic and abiotic stresses.
Launch of PARAM-ISHAN supercomputer at IIT, Guwahati
(Topic: Achievements of Indians in Science and Technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology)
About-Union Human Resource Development Minister launched PARAM-ISHAN supercomputing facility at IIT, Guwahati on 19th September, 2016.
- PARAM-ISHAN have power of 250 Teraflops and three hundred tera bites capacity and this will not only augment the research initiatives in the Institute, but also help in creating an ecosystem for attracting right talents to the field of research.
- PARAM-ISHAN can be used in the application areas like Computational Chemistry, Computational Fluid Dynamics, Computational Electromagnetic, Civil Engineering Structures, Nana-block Self Assemble, Optimization etc.
- North East India receives heavy rainfall during monsoon, which leads to flooding and landslides. PARAM-ISHAN can be used for Weather, climate modeling and seismic data processing.
- C-DAC and IIT Guwahati is a strategic move that will provide a boost to both the HPC users and the community through the deployed PARAM-ISHAN and several technology areas will be positively affected
Provision of Separate Dustbins For Biodegradable (Wet) And Non-Biodegradable (Dry) Waste At All Major Railway Stations
(Topic: Waste disposal)
About- Indian Railways has decided to provide separate dustbins for collections of biodegradable (wet waste) and non-biodegradable (dry waste) on the platforms and all passenger interface areas in A1 & A category stations apart from vending stalls. Zonal Railways will train the staff engaged in cleaning duties at railway stations for separate collection and further handling for final disposal of segregated dry and wet waste from the dustbins.
It is for- In order to carry out efficient disposal of waste
Initiative by Indian railways-
- Indian Railways had already instructed for efficient disposal of waste arising out of pantry car services and static units as also to provide adequate dustbins on platforms and by the side of stalls at all railway stations for environment friendly disposal of waste
- Indian Railways will provide different coloured dustbins and polythene liner bags for bio-degradable and non-biodegradable waste viz. Green for bio-degradable and Black for non-biodegradable.
Provision of Yatri Mitra Sewa for booking of wheelchair services cum porter services at Railway Stations
(Topic: Welfare steps taken for Old and differently able persons)
Aim- To provide support to old and differently abled passengers requiring assistance at the stations, Ministry of Railways has decided to introduce Yatri Mitras Sewa for enabling passengers to book wheelchair services cum porter services.
Salient features of the Yatri Mitra Seva are as under:
Yatri Mitra-A Yatri Mitra can either be a Sahayak or any other person provided by IRCTC or the service provider appointed by IRCTC for this purpose.
Services to be provided by Yatri Mitra– Yatri Mitra shall provide Wheel chair cum porter services to differently abled, ailing and old persons.
Provision of Yatri Mitra Sewa–
- Responsibility of providing Yatri Mitra Sewa has been entrusted with IRCTC. IRCTC may provide this service ‘Free of cost’ through some NGO, charitable trust, PSUs etc under CSR. However, if this service can’t be provided ‘Free of Cost’ due to lack of response from NGOs, Charitable trust, PSUs etc, IRCTC may arrange this service on payment basis through a service provider or on its own.
- IRCTC may also arrange these services through existing Battery Operated Car (BOC) Operator, wherever, an agency is providing the service.
Booking of Yatri Mitra
- Yatri Mitra service can be booked on IRCTC e-ticketing website and 139 (IVRS and SMS) or through a mobile.
- A Mobile Application developed by CRIS would also be made available for booking of Yatri Mitra as and when it is developed and released by CRIS
- A dedicated Mobile number for each station, where this service is available, shall be made available by the Service provider/IRCTC which would be displayed on IRCTC e-ticketing website and zonal websites of Indian Railways to facilitate booking of Yatri Mitra
- Based on the station at which the facility is booked by the passenger, the booking details (Train Name and Number, date and time of arrival/departure, PNR number, Name of the passenger, Coach and berth number) will be sent by SMS both to the passenger and service provider/IRCTC along with the amount chargeable, if applicable, for the service.
- Mobile number of the Yatri Mitra shall also be sent to the passenger through SMS before the expected time of the arrival of the passenger so that the passenger can contact the Yatri Mitra.
- The Mobile Application developed by CRIS would have the facility for the service provider to update the status after providing the service. The passenger would also have the option to give feedback regarding compliance for his booking.
Operation of Yatri Mitra Seva
- Arriving/Transferring Passengers
- IRCTC/service provider on receipt of SMS will ensure that the Yatri Mitra is arranged/ positioned at the platform near the coach of the arriving passenger.
- Mobile number of the Yatri Mitra shall also be sent to the passenger through SMS in advance.
- On arrival of the train, the Yatri Mitra shall approach the passenger near his coach, greet him, show his mobile message which will be similar as sent to the passenger himself. On instructions of passenger, he will pick up his/her luggage and help him/her in sitting in wheelchair and take him to desired exit gate or any other platform in case of transfer passenger.
- In case of late running of train, the service provider shall contact the passenger on the mobile number given by the passenger at the time of booking and arrange the service as per expected arrival of the train at the station.
- Departing Passengers
- IRCTC/service provider on receipt of SMS will ensure that the Yatri Mitra is arranged/ positioned at the nominated entrance of the station building from where the passenger will be boarding the train.
- Yatri Mitra shall contact the passenger on the mobile number given by the passenger at the time of booking and confirm the expected time of arrival of the passenger and entrance gate of station.
- On arrival of the passenger at entrance gate of station, the Yatri Mitra shall approach the passenger, greet him, and show his mobile message which will be similar as sent to the passenger himself. On instructions of passenger, he will pick up his luggage and help him/her in sitting in wheelchair and take him to the platform where train has to arrive.
Storage/Parking of wheelchairs
Railway shall provide space for storage/parking of wheel chairs as per requirement of number of wheelchairs and charging point if wheelchairs are battery operated. In case service is provided Free of cost, electricity for charging battery of wheelchairs shall be provided free. In case of paid service, the cost of electricity on consumption basis and connection shall be charged to the service provider as per extant practice.
The service charges, if applicable, shall be kept reasonable and affordable keeping in mind the objective of providing services to the needy.The service charges should be collected by the Service provider directly from the passenger.
Incredible India Tourism Investment Summit-2016
(Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, groeth, development and employment)
About- “Incredible India Tourism Investment Summit 2016” is being organized by the Ministry of Tourism in New Delhi’s Vigyan Bhawan from September 21 to 23, 2016.
Initiative of- Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, in association with Tourism Finance Corporation of India (TFCI) and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). IITIS is a platform for domestic and international investors to meet project owners from across Indian states and the private sector.
Participates from- Major stakeholders including States/UTs with their ready investible projects, Banks & Financial Institutions, Business Developers, Cruise liners, Domestic Investors, Entertainment Companies, Global Investors, Helicopter Services, Hoteliers, Infrastructure-Developers, International Associations, Restaurateurs, Spa and Yoga Centers, Tour and Travel Operators, Urban Developers, Venture Capitalist, Civic Amenity Providers
Highlights of this summit
- State Presentations encompassing all investible Properties, Session on Why Invest in India, MSME in tourism sector, Panel discussions on core infrastructure for tourism, Session on Start-ups, digital India, Investing into Swadesh Darshan, PRASAD, MICE and Niche Tourism Products, B2B meetings and signing of MoUs.
- Summit will have dedicated space for Seminars, Business to Business meetings and Roundtables around focus themes.
Six plenary sessions as follows:-
- Why invest in Incredible India
- Core Infrastructure for Tourism
- Digital India & Start up India: Investing in Tourism Technology
- Open Housed with State Tourism Ministers
- Open-house with CEOs
- Medical Tourism
Successful Flight Tests of LRSAM
(Topic: Science and Technology)
About- Long Range Surface to Air Missile System (LRSAM) for Indian Navy successfully flight tested against Pilotless Target Aircraft (PTA) on 20th Sept 2016 at 10:10 hrs and again at 14:25 hrs from Interim Test Range (ITR) at Balasore, Odisha.
Developed by- LRSAM has been developed through a joint venture between DRDO India and IAI of Israel.
Flight Test-Naval version of the SAM system, this time was tested from land and the earlier was flight tested from Naval Ships, at ITR. Both missiles directly hit their respective targets at different ranges and altitudes. The trajectory of the flight of missiles was throughout tracked and monitored by the radars and electro-optical systems installed at ITR.
Industries Contribution- Many industries viz. BDL, MIDHANI, TATA, GODREJ, SEC, PEL, ADITYA and others have contributed towards the development of Missile systems. Both Israel and Indian scientists and technicians have been involved in the launch campaign.
Ministry of Shipping Proposes New Model Concession Agreement for Port Sector
(Topic: Infrastructure – Port development)
About- Ministry of Shipping has proposed a new Model Concession Agreement (MCA) for the Port Sector. The proposed MCA will replace the existing Model Concession Agreement which came into existence in January, 2008. The proposed MCA has taken into account the suggestions provided in various reports by Member Planning Commission (2010), Indian Ports Association (IPA-2015) and Kelkar Committee Report (2015)
Objectives of the revised Model Concession Agreement are following
- More equitable allocation of project risks.
- Provisions to handle unforeseen circumstances.
- Removing ambiguity in existing provisions.
- To attract more private sector investment.
Salient changes proposed in the Revised Model Concession Agreements are-
- Change in equity holding to provide exit route: The revised MCA has proposed that the Concessionaire shall hold 51 per cent equity until 3 years after Commercial Operation Date (COD) and 26 per cent thereafter for another 3 years. Hence, the private party would be free to exist after 6 years from COD. The Concessionaire may approach the Concessioning Authority to waive the equity holding requirement during the second 3 year term if performance parameters have been achieved during the first three year period.
- Providing for refinancing provision in MCA: This amendment is aimed at facilitating availability of low cost long term funds to Concessionaire so as to improve the financial viability of the projects and is based on the Model Triartite Agreement approved by Department of Economic Affairs. Under this, the Concessionaire can issue Bonds on completion of one year of operation for refinancing of debt, this will in result in optimization of the finance cost of the projects.
- Amendment in Definition of “Change of Law”: As per the current MCA, change in law excludes-
- Imposition of standards and condition arising out of TAMP guidelines, Environmental Law & Labor laws
- Increase and imposition of taxes, duties, etc. for compensating the Concessionaire. As these can materially affect the viability of the project the proposed MCA states that the Concessionaire shall be compensated for all changes in law except imposition of “New Direct Tax”. This will help the Concessionaire to get compensation for all material changes in law.
- Provision for mid-term review of concession: It is proposed that concessions may be reviewed by a Review Board (or any such competent authority) under applicable laws at the end of 15 years from COD to arrive at required mitigation measures. The triggers and nature and quantum of mitigation measures will be as per guidelines issued by the Government in this regard
- Approval of Discounts on Ceiling Rates for the Purpose of Recovery of Revenue share: Presently, revenue share is payable on Gross Revenue, calculated as per tariff ceilings even if Concessionaire has to allow discount to keep the charges competitive. With a view to have a balanced risk allocation, it is proposed that Concessionaire shall be entitled to approach Port to consider and approve discounts on ceiling traffic and revenue share shall be paid on the approved discounted tariff of the approved revenue share. Cargo storage charges will be excluded while computing Gross Revenue for the purpose of Revenue Sharing.
- Provision for Commercial Operations before COD: It is proposed to permit operations before COD on project specific terms and conditions about level of operations and payment to the port; this will lead to better utilization of assets provided by the Port in many projects.
- Improved Utilization of Project Assets and Higher Productivity: Presently, Concessionaire is required to operate the Project as least as per scope of work. In order to avoid any ambiguity, it’s now been specified that the Concessionaire is free to deploy higher capacity equipment/facilities for higher productivity and improved utilization of Project assets.
- Grievance Redressal System:The proposed MCA will have a Grievance Redressal System where the Concessionaire shall create a Grievance Redressal Portal in their website with adequate monitoring system and timelines for redressal.
- Applicable Tariff Guidelines: This provision is to give an option to Concessionaire to adopt changed/revised Tariff guidelines as and when issued by the Government. It is proposed that private party will have option to adopt new or revised guidelines within 90 days of publication in official gazette.
- Provision for Additional Land, Utilities & Services: Presently the charges payable by the Concessionaire for additional land, utilities and services are equal to 200 per cent of the scale of rates, as per the proposed MCA provisions have been made for providing additional land, utilities and services during operation period and required for Project Operations on payment of 120 percent of the applicable scale of rates.
- Replacement of “Actual project Cost” with “Approved Project Cost”: Presently, if the Actual Project cost, certified by statutory auditors, is higher than the earlier estimates –Concessioning Authority may increase the project cost. However, the procedure for the same is not prescribed. It is proposed to replace the Actual Project Cost with Approved Project Cost and prescribe procedure for approval. The Concessionaire shall summit statement of actual capital cost incurred on the project as certified by statutory auditors within a period of 90 days of issue of completion certificate. If the cost is more that the Estimated Project Cost or cost incorporated in Financing Plan, it shall be referred to the Independent Engineer for his comments on (i) reasonability of expenditure and (ii) need of expenditure to provide project facilities and services as per Scope of Work. The Concessioning Authority will take a decision on approving the enhanced cost taking into account the Report of the Independent Engineer.
National SC/ST Hub to be launched on 8th October 2016 in Ludhiana
About- National SC/ST Hub under the Ministry of MSME will be launched soon.
Aim- To promote the SC/ST entrepreneurs
Help in– Strengthening market access/linkage, monitoring, capacity building, leveraging financial support schemes and sharing industry best practices etc. The hub would operate from National Small Industries Corporation (NSIC) Headquarters in Delhi, supported by a special cell created for this purpose.
National High Powered Monitoring Committee reviewing the progress of National SC/ST Hub-
- Subsidy of Single Point Registration Scheme (SSPRS) for SC/ST enterprises for participation in Government purchases- A nominal fee of Rs. 100 per unit of SC/ST enterprises will be charged under the scheme.
- Special Marketing Scheme (SMAS) to provide marketing support to SC/ST owned MSMEs-Under the scheme SC/ST units will get double the rate f country specified daily allowance as per MEA guidelines including expenses for accommodation, transport etc. The transport cost for participation in vendor development programmes will be reimbursed to SC/ST units.
- Subsidy for performance and credit rating scheme for SC/ST enterprises-Renewal subsidy to be given only to the SC/ST units having the rating upto 5 and additional subsidy for SC/ST units to be 15%.
- Public procurement order mandates 4% annual procurement by Central Ministries/ Departments and Public Sector Undertakings from SC/ST enterprises w.e.f01.04.2015.
- It has been reported that at present the Government of India procurement form SC/ST enterprises in less than 1% due to low participation of the community. This needs to be scaled up to meet the procurement target form SC/ST.
- In the past, there has been some increase in the number of SC/ST owned enterprises but this number needs to increase substantially to enable the socio-economic empowerment of SC/ST communities.
- In this direction, the National SC/ST Hub in an initiative of the Government of India targeted towards developing a supportive ecosystem towards SC/ST entrepreneur
- After the announcement of creating National SC/ST Hub was made, MSME Ministry consulted the stakeholders including DICCI, Industry Association, Banks and relevant Ministries to suggest concrete steps to the proposed SC/ST Hub.
- Based on inputs received from the stakeholders a draft scheme for the proposed Hub was prepared and shared with CEO Niti Aayog as directed by PMO.
- Subsequently CEO Niti Aayog has called a meeting with all stakeholders. Based on the decisions taken in the meeting a draft SFC note was prepared and circulated to all concerned Ministries for comment.
- Representatives of Industry associations, DICCI, CII, FICCI, FISME, India SME Forum etc unanimously welcomed the new initiative of Government of India for creation of this Hub and offered their suggestions as to what activities could be undertaken by this Hub to bridge the gap between the supply and demand side.
5th BIRAC Innovator’s Meet kick starts with the theme – ‘Biotech Innovation Ecosystem – Strategizing the Next Leap’
(Topic: Bio- technology)
About- Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), a Public Sector Undertaking under the aegis of the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), is organizing its 5th Innovator’s Meet here on 22nd -23rd September, 2016.
- BIRAC Innovator’s Meet is an industry-academia interface facilitating national and global partners, providing innovators access to risk capital through targeted funding, technology transfer, IP management and handholding schemes.
- Help in bringing innovation excellence to Indian biotech firms, make them globally competitive and facilitate novel, high quality and cost-effective affordable technologies.
National Biotechnology Development Strategy-
- In the National Biotechnology Development Strategy, 2015-2020, Bio-incubators would be scaled up to 50 and 5 new Bio-clusters would be formed.
- With over 500 Start ups and SMEs, 100 Entrepreneurs being a part of this ecosystem, BIRAC has nearly 50 products in different stages of development and commercialization.
- The target is scaling this 10 times in the next 5 years through initiatives like BIG (Biotechnology Ignition Grant), SITARE (supporting grass root student innovators), eYUVA (creating entrepreneurial culture in universities), BioNEST (nurturing entrepreneurship by establishing Bio Incubation Centres), tax exemptions to biotech startups in Budget 2015-16, inter alia.
Highlights of Meet-
- Meet started with an open session between high-level investors and innovators. An Innovation Market place showcasing innovative products and technologies from 25 innovators was held followed by the Inaugural session
- During the inaugural ceremony, Dr. Harsh Vardhan also presented the BIRAC Innovator Awards to the Best Innovations from all over the country.
- Dignitaries also released the compendiums of BIRAC’s activities, its success stories and the ‘Make in India for Biotech – the way forward’ report (by Price Waterhouse Coopers) during the event.
- On the first day, a panel comprising Prof. K. VijayRaghavan, Secretary, DBT, Prof. Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, Department of Science and Technology, Mr. Elrich and others deliberated on the emerging landscape of private venture funding in the country, especially in the life sciences arena.
- On the second day, a plenary talk by Dr. Dwivedi and panel discussions on topics like ‘Injecting Capital for the Next Leap: Investor’s perspectives’, ‘Boosting Technology Development & Translation from Academia’ and ‘Role of Disruptive Technologies like Internet of things, Precision Medicine in Indian Biotechnology Growth’
Minister of Railways inaugurates Seminar on ‘Bridging the Rural Disconnect’ organised by RailTel
About- Minister of Railways inaugurated Seminar on ‘Bridging the Rural Disconnect’. The seminar was organised by RailTel Corporation of India Limited, a PSU of Indian Railways on the occasion of its 17th Foundation Day.
Various Industry stakeholders including various Central & State Ministries, Telecom organizations, Service Providers, MNCs, Social organizations participated to explore alternate ideas to address the issue of Digital Divide between the Urban and Rural India.
Railway PSU RailTel, plays a crucial role in providing digital connectivity through optical fibre. RailTel’s PAN India Optic Fibre network is providing connectivity to more than four thousand stations in the country.
- Railway Minister pointed out that the technology changes very fast and becomes obsolete in due course and hence it is necessary to keep pace with the latest changes and modification in the existing technology and also keep adopting updated forms of technology.
- Indian is a very vast country and has many villages many of them being far flung and are not connected in any way.
- It is a huge challenge to reach out to all villages which we need to focus on. Need widespread network of multiple modes of transport like rail and road to reach out to far flung areas, it is also necessary to provide digital rural connectivity across India.
- To bridge rural-urban digital divide so that the benefits of modernization and latest technology flow to rural areas also. Fulfil the aspirations of youth population of the country and digital connectivity will also help them in a big way.
- Digital connectivity can be used for telemedicine, education, entertainment and may other areas. RailTel in partnership with Google is implementing it and this service has already been provided at 50 stations will complete the target of 100 stations by December, 2016.
- RailTel Corporation a “Mini Ratna (Category-I)” PSU is the largest neutral telecom services providers in the country owning a Pan-India optic fiber network covering all important towns & cities of the country and several rural areas covering 70% of India’s population.
- RailTel is in the forefront in providing nationwide Broadband Telecom & Multimedia Network in all parts of the country in addition to modernization of Train operations and administration network systems for Indian Railways.
- With its Pan India high capacity network, RailTel is working towards creating knowledge society at various fronts and has been selected for implementation of various mission-mode Govt. of India projects in the telecom field.
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