(Topic: Historical Monuments and Archaeological sites)
About- All ASI Protected Historical Monuments and Archaeological Sites have been declared ‘Polythene Free Zones’.
What has been done?
Advisory has been issued to all State Governments/UTs to support ASI in keeping Monuments Polythene Free up to 300 meters from the protected boundaries of the Monuments.
Ministry of Culture has sanctioned Rs.350 crores to provide facilities like- Protected Boundaries + Toilets + Disabled Friendly Access in all ASI Protected Monuments.
Work allotted to and target year-
Work has been awarded to PSUs like WAPCOS and TCIL. They have been directed to complete the work in the current financial year 2016-17.
- ASI has ranked top 25 Adarsh Monuments on the basis of Cleanliness parameters such as amenities like- toilets, green lawns, Polythene Free Zone, signage for awareness, disabilities access, drinking water and provision for garbage bins etc.
- “Rani ki Vav (Gujarat)” a World Heritage Site has been declared as the cleanest iconic place in the country.
- 75 more Adarsh Monuments protected by ASI have been identified to be included in the ‘Swachh Paryatan Mobile App’ launched by the Ministry of Tourism.
- With this a total of 100 Adarsh Monuments protected by ASI will be included in the ‘Swachh Paryatan Mobile App’. App is monitored by the Project Monitoring Unit of Swachh Bharat Mission in Ministry of Tourism.
Initiative Launched by Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Tourism
- Creating permanent mechanism of cleanliness for all organisations under Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Tourism
- To spread awareness through various cultural activities by involving all their organisations
- Spread of swachhata awareness through Music, Dance and Drama by their Academies/Institutions and maintaining cleanliness at all ASI Protected Monuments etc.
Citizen Participation and awareness-
- General public and the tourists are the largest stakeholders in keeping the monuments clean; the Ministry of Tourism has decided to facilitate the general public to communicate their complaints about any unclean area/garbage piles in and around tourist destinations.
- Useful mobile App enables a citizen to take photograph of garbage at the monument and upload the same along with his/her remarks. Application then sends an SMS to the ASI Nodal Officer concerned with the monument upon receipt of which the Nodal Officer gets the garbage cleared/removed.
- Nodal Officer thereafter sends confirmation about the redressal of the complaint through an SMS to the complainant. Mobile App is available on Google Search Engine as ‘Swachh Paryatan’.
President Presents Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowships and Sangeet Natak Akademi Awards for the Year-2015
(Topic: Awards and Honour)
About- President of India presented the “Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowships (Akademi Ratna) and Sangeet Natak Akademi Awards (Akademi Puraskars) for the Year-2015” at a function in Rashtrapati Bhawan.
Fellowship given to-
- General Council of the Sangeet Natak Akademi, the National Academy of Music, Dance and Drama, New Delhi at its meeting held on 20th & 21st April 2016 in Agartala (Tripura) elected one (1) eminent personality in the field of performing arts, namely Shri C V Chandrasekhar as Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellow (Akademi Ratna).
- Fellowship of the Akademi is the most prestigious and rare honour, which is restricted to 40 numbers at any given time. Presently there are only 40 Fellows of the Sangeet Natak Akademi.General Council of the Akademi also selected forty-three (43) artists from the field of Music, Dance, Theatre, Traditional/Folk/Tribal Music/Dance/Theatre and Puppetry and Overall contribution/scholarship in Performing Arts for the Sangeet Natak Akademi Awards (Akademi Puraskar) for the year 2015. These forty-three (43) artists include two joint awards.
Selection of artists in different fields-
- In the field of Music, eleven eminent artists, namely Krishna Bisht and Mashkoor Ali Khan for Hindustani Vocal Music, Kartik Kumar for Hindustani Instrumental Music–Sitar, Brij Narayan for Hindustani Instrumental Music–Sarod, R N Thyagarajan and R N Tharanathan (joint award) for Carnatic Vocal Music, Suguna Varadhachari for Carnatic Vocal Music, Lalgudi G J R Krishnan for Carnatic Instrumental Music–Violin, Mambalam M K S Siva for Carnatic Instrumental Music-Nagaswaram, Bhupinder Singh, Hridyanath Mangeshkar and Prafulla Kar for Other Major Traditions of Music–Sugam Sangeet, have been selected for the Akademi Awards 2015.
- In the field of Dance, nine eminent artists have been selected for the Akademi Awards 2015, namely, Ranganayaki Jayaraman for Bharatanatyam, K Kunhiraman Nair for Kathakali, G Padmaja Reddy for Kuchipudi, Aloka Kanungo for Odissi, Sharodi Saikia for Sattriya Dance, Mandakini Trivedi for Mohiniattam, Sadashiva Pradhan for Chhau Dance, W Lokendrajit Singh for Contemporary/Experimental Dance and Rajkumar Bharathi for Music for Dance.
- In the field of Theatre, nine eminent artists have been selected for Akademi Awards 2015: Nand Kishore Acharya and Shafaat Khan for Playwriting, Parvez Akhtar and Mushtaq Kak for Direction, Manoj N Joshi and Himani Shivpuri for Acting, Pradeep Mulye for Allied Theatre Arts–Scenic Design, Sarojini Nangiar for Other Major Traditions of Theatre–Kutiyattam and Rani Balbir Kaur for Overall Contribution in Theatre.
- In the field of Traditional/Folk/Tribal Music/Dance/Theatre and Puppetry, ten artistes have been selected for Akademi Awards 2015, they are Khuman Lal Sao (Folk Music of Chhattisgarh), Ramchandra Singh (Folk Theatre of Bihar), Khem Raj (Folk Music of Jammu and Kashmir), S R D Prasad (Martial Art of Kerala), Chhaya and Maya Khutegaonkar (joint award for Folk Dance of Maharashtra-Lavani), Gangmei Aluna Kabuini (Traditional Dance and Music of Manipur), Paramjit Singh Sidhu (Folk Music of Punjab), Sayeed Sabri Jaipuri (Qawwali, Rajasthan), K K Ramachandra Pulavar and T N Sankaranathan for Puppetry.Shanta Gokhale and Chaman Ahuja have been selected for the Akademi Award 2015 in the field of Overall Contribution/Scholarship to Performing Arts.
The honour of Akademi Fellow has been conferred since 1954 and Akademi Award since 1952. These honours not only symbolize the highest standard of excellence and achievements, but also recognize sustained individual work and contribution. The honour of Akademi Fellow carries a purse money of Rs 3,00,000/- (Rupees three lakh) and Akademi Award carries Rs 1,00,000/- (Rupees one lakh), besides a Tamrapatra and Angavastram.
20th ASEAN Regional Forum– Heads of Defence Universities / Colleges / Institutions Meet concludes
(Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and further structure, mandate)
About- The 20th ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) – Heads of Defence Universities / Colleges / Institutions Meet (HDUCIM) concluded with a clear commitment to contribute towards promotion and maintenance of peace and prosperity in the region and the world at large through collective efforts to counter non-conventional threats and violent terrorism in the South East Asia Region. The participating nations reinforced their commitment to reinvigorate professional military education to meet the contemporary challenges to military leadership.
Meet hosted by the National Defence College (NDC), New Delhi under the aegis of Ministry of Defence
- Member states renewed their pledge to fulfil the core objectives of ARF and enhance its relevance and effectiveness by promoting and accelerating the process of preventive diplomacy in parallel with strengthening of confidence building measures and conflict resolution mechanisms through dialogue, cooperation and mutual trust.
India to host first AMCDRR after Sendai Framework
(Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and further structure, mandate)
About- GoI is hosting the Asian Ministerial Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction (AMCDRR) next month in collaboration with the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR). The hosting of the Conference re-affirms India’s commitment to the cause of Disaster Risk Reduction
Aim- Transforming the commitments of governments and stakeholders during the Sendai Conference into national and local action.
- This is the first AMCDRR after the advent of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRRR), adopted at the third UN World Conference in Sendai, Japan in March, 2015.
- It will set the direction of Sendai Framework implementation in the region.
- Established in 2005, AMCDRR is a biennial conference jointly organized by different Asian countries and the UNISDR. So far, six AMCDRR conferences have been organised. India had also hosted the second AMCDRR in New Delhi in 2007.
- Conference will adopt the ‘Asian Regional Plan for Implementation of the Sendai Framework’ endorsed by the Asian countries.
- It will also consolidate the political commitment of governments towards preventing and reducing risk as well as strengthening resilience in the form of a political declaration. Voluntary statements of action of stakeholder groups towards a ‘shared responsibility’ approach in implementation of the SFDRR would also be adopted.
- Discuss issues related to DRR in six technical, 22 thematic and three featured sessions during the Conference. The technical events will be broadly based on themes related to Risk Sensitive Development for Community Resilience.
- The thematic and featured events will centre on themes related to-
- Inclusive development such as Risk Resilient Infrastructure for Sustainable Development
- Application of Science and Technology for prevention of new risks; Strengthening Community Resilience
- Gender sensitive DRR
- Child-centred DRR
- Risk financing – Disaster Risk: Identification and Financing Solutions.
- Various DRR-centric activities will be organised during the Conference to spread awareness about disaster risk reduction and its role in safeguarding lives, livelihoods and infrastructure. These activities include a national-level painting competition for school children aged 10-14 years, a short films competition and an exhibition to showcase best practices in DRR.
Commemoration of the first World Tsunami Awareness Day, to spread awareness about the dangers of tsunami and the importance of Early Warning Systems in mitigating its impact, will also be held on the closing day of the Conference.
India and Disaster Management-
- India’s commitment to Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) is evident from the fact that it became one of the first countries to align its National Disaster Management Plan (NDMP) with SFDRRR.
- AMCDRR 2016 will focus on collaboration, consultation and partnership with governments and stakeholders to mainstream DRR in the region’s development narrative.
Heritage Infrastructure projects worth Rs. 350 cr approved
(Topic: Urban Development)
About- Minister of Urban Development inaugurated a two day conference on Heritage Cities.
Jointly organised by– Ministry of Urban Development and Indian Heritage Cities Network (IHCN).
Heritage site in India-
- India is blessed with tangible and intangible heritage assets and it consists of 32 World Heritage Sites, cultural and natural, recognized by UNESCO
- India ranks 5th in the world and 2nd in Asia, in terms of number of World Heritage Sites. The Minister highlighted the importance of heritage sites for tourism.
- India attracts millions of tourist every year and in 2013, India received 69 lakh foreign tourists and 114 crore domestic tourist visits, generating revenue of Rs. 2 lakh crore. i.e. 6 % of GDP
- The Minister further said that HRIDAY (Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana) scheme was launched by the Government in 2014 for heritage/ tourism oriented urban development. He said that, the scheme is 100% centrally sponsored with an outlay of Rs 500 crores and in the pilot phase, 12 cities have been selected. He highlighted that there is need for convergence of schemes like Smart City, AMRUT and other state Government schemes to reinforce the cultural and Heritage India. Projects worth about Rs. 350 cr have so far been approved for implementation.
France had expressed interest to intervene on the subject of heritage and urban renewal heritage around waterfronts and accordingly two cities, namely Puri and Varanasi, have identified the projects relating to waterfront development.
Cabinet approves amendments to the HIV and AIDS (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2014
(Topic: Cabinet Decision)
About- Union Cabinet under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister has given its approval to introduce official amendments to the HIV and AIDS (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2014.
HIV and AIDS (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2014-
- It has been drafted to safeguard the rights of people living with HIV and affected by HIV.
- Provisions of the Bill seek to address HIV-related discrimination, strengthen the existing programme by bringing in legal accountability and establish formal mechanisms for inquiring into complaints and redressing grievances.
- Bill seeks to prevent and control the spread of HIV and AIDS, prohibits discrimination against persons with HIV and AIDS, provides for informed consent and confidentiality with regard to their treatment, places obligations on establishments to safeguard rights of persons living with HIV arid create mechanisms for redressing complaints.
- Bill also aims to enhance access to health care services by ensuring informed consent and confidentiality for HIV-related testing, treatment and clinical research.
- Bill lists various grounds on which discrimination against HIV positive persons and those living with them is prohibited. These include the denial, termination, discontinuation or unfair treatment with regard to-
- Educational establishments
- Health care services
- Residing or renting property
- Standing for public or private office, and
- Provision of insurance (unless based on actuarial studies). The requirement for HIV testing as a pre-requisite for obtaining employment or accessing health care or education is also prohibited.
- Every HIV infected or affected person below the age of 18 years has the right to reside in a shared household and enjoy the facilities of the household.
- Bill also prohibits any individual from publishing information or advocating feelings of hatred against HIV positive persons and those living with them.
- Bill also provides for Guardianship for minors. A person between the age of 12 to 18 years who has sufficient maturity in understanding and managing the affairs of his HIV or AIDS affected family shall be competent to act as a guardian of another sibling below 18 years of age to be applicable in the matters relating to admission to educational establishments, operating bank accounts, managing property, care and treatment, amongst others.
- Bill requires that “No person shall be compelled to disclose his HIV status except with his informed consent, and if required by a court order”.
- Establishments keeping records of information of HIV positive persons shall adopt data protection measures. According to the Bill, the Central and State governments shall take measures to-
- Prevent the spread of HIV or AIDS,
- Provide anti-retroviral therapy and infection management for persons with HIV or AIDS,
- Facilitate their access to welfare schemes especially for women and children
- Formulate HIV or AIDS education communication programmes that are age appropriate, gender sensitive, and non-stigmatizing, and
- Lay guidelines for the care and treatment of children with HIV or AIDS.
- Every person in the care and custody of the state shall have right to HIV prevention, testing, treatment and counseling services.
- Bill suggest that cases relating to HIV positive persons shall be disposed’ off by the court on a priority basis and duly ensuring the confidentiality.
- There are no financial implications of the Bill.
- Most of the activities are being already undertaken or can be integrated within the existing systems of various Ministries under training, communication and data management, etc.
- Bill makes provision for appointment of an ombudsman by State Governments to inquire into complaints related to the violation of the Act and penal actions in case of non-compliance.
- The Ombudsman need not be a separate entity, but any existing State Government functionary can be deputed or given additional charge.
- There are approximately 21 lakh persons estimated to be living with HIV in India. Even though the prevalence of HIV is decreasing over the last decade, the Bill would provide essential support to National AIDS Control Programme in arresting new infections and thereby achieving the target of “Ending the epidemic by 2030” according to Sustainable Development Goals.
Three agreements between India and Switzerland on Mutual Visa Exemption, Return of Illegal Migrants and Arrangement for Dependent Persons of Diplomatic and Consular Mission to Perform Gainful Employment signed
(Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests)
About- Union Home Minister met the visiting Minister for Justice and Police of Swiss Confederation, Ms. Simonetta Sommaruga. Union Home Miniter stated that the two countries have made significant contributions to strengthen peace and prosperity based on their shared vision of a peaceful and progressive future.
- Union Home Minister proposed training facilities for Indian Police Officers in Switzerland Police Academies/other Training Institutes in the fields of Anti-Hijacking and Cyber Forensic etc. he said India looks forward for cooperation with Switzerland on the issue of exchange of tax information since the black money issue is the main corruption issue which needs to be tackled
- The two sides signed three agreements including-
- Mutual Visa Exemption Agreement for Holders of Diplomatic Passports
- Technical Arrangements on Identification and Return of Illegal Migrants and Arrangement for Dependent Person of Diplomatic
- Technical and Administrative Staff of Diplomatic and Consular Mission to Perform Gainful Employment.
- More liberal visa regime for Indian business people since India has been offering multi-year multiple entry visas to Swiss businesses in a bid to enhance bilateral trade and investment.
- Cooperation in transfer of sentenced persons and Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty in Criminal matters that would help in combating terrorism, transnational organized crimes and corruption including money laundering.
Cabinet approves Memorandum of Understanding with the African Asian Rural Development Organization in the field of rural development
(Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests)
About- Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister has given its approval to the signing of a MoU between India and the African Asian Rural Development Organization (AARDO) for capacity building programmes in the field of rural development.
- MoU for the triennium 2015 – 2017 is being signed under which capacity building programmes for AARDO member countries will be organized every year during the triennium at various Institutions of Excellence in India such as National Institute of Rural Development & Panchayati Raj (NIRD & PR), institutions governed by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), Indian Institute of Management (IIM) and others.
- Duration of each training programme shall be of two to three weeks. The Post Graduate Diploma in Rural Development Management Course at NIRD & PR under this scheme is for one year.
- AARDO, which has its headquarters in New Delhi, is an autonomous, inter-Governmental organization established in 1962 with the objective of promoting cooperation among the countries of the African – Asian Region in the direction of eradicating thirst, hunger, illiteracy, disease and poverty in the region.
- India is one of the Founder Members of the Organization and is the largest contributor in terms of membership contribution of US$ 141,100 apart from contributing by way of providing 70 fully paid training scholarships for Human Resource Development Programme under the Indian Technical & Economic Cooperation Programme (ITEC) to the Organization.
- India has also provided a building for housing the AARDO Secretariat in Delhi and considerable financial assistance is given to AARDO for maintenance of the building. AARDO currently has 31 countries of the African – Asian Region under its fold.
Cabinet approves MoU between India and European Union on water cooperation
(Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests)
About- Union Cabinet under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister has given its approval for the signing of MoU between India and European Union in the field of water resources.
- To identify key environmental issues and approaches to sustainable development where exchange of experiences and cooperation could be mutually beneficial to strengthen and further develop cooperation between India and the European Union in the field of water management.
- STrengthening the technological
- Scientific and management capabilities of India and the European Union in the field of water management on the basis of equality
- Reciprocity and mutual benefit. It provides technical exchange on water issues
- Including on integrated water resource management plans within river basins and through study visits.
- It envisions a more sustainable management of water resources in India with an objective of tackling the challenges posed by water management in the context of growing population, competing water demands and a changing climate.
- Joint Working Group shall be formed to monitor the activities to be carried out in fulfillment of the MoU.
- Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation has been envisaging bilateral cooperation with other countries in water resources development and management through- Sharing of policy and technical expertise + Conducting of training courses + Workshops + Scientific and technical symposia + Exchange of experts and study tours.
- Keeping in view the success of the European Union in distribution of water resources, water pricing, water use efficiency by encouraging the changes in agricultural practices necessary to protect water resources and quality, such as switching to less water-demanding crops, etc., it has been decided to have an agreement with Israel to benefit from their experience and expertise.
- EU States have adopted water pricing policies to provide adequate incentives for users to use water resources efficiently thereby contributing to environmental objectives.
India offers slice of Make in India cake to Czech companies for high Technology Cooperation, Trade and Investment
With a view to enhancing greater economic engagement with the central and eastern Europe, a high level delegation of Indian officials and industry leaders has shared with their Czech Republic counterparts a slew of measures being taken by India to encourage foreign investors, particularly in the areas of high technology, including Capital goods & Engineering, under the government’s flagship,’ Make in India ‘programme.
India Czech high technology cooperation, Trade and Investment
- Keen on engaging actively with Czech Republic and other eastern and central European nations, India has been working under a framework of an Indo-Czech Working Group in the area of Heavy Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing, since 2013.
- Fourth meeting of the JWG held at Brno to coincide with MSV Brno Fair between October 3-6, 2016 wherein a review of the progress in bilateral ties was taken up and a roadmap for future cooperation was finalised.
- India is actively seeking foreign direct investment in the engineering and high technology including defence. India has liberalized the FDI policies and procedures, assuring the global investors the maximum ease of doing business.
- Initiatives like hike in the FDI limit, integrating India into a single market through the tax reforms through legislations like Goods and Services Tax, have enhanced the confidence of global investors into the Indian economy, which has emerged as the fastest growing in the world.
DoNER Ministry proposes revised guidelines for Northeast projects
(Topic: Development of North Eastern Region)
About- Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, announced in Guwahati that a new revised guidelines will be prepared by the Ministry of DoNER.
Objective of– Expediting development projects in Northeast by simplifying procedures to avoid delay and at the same time bring in more transparency
- At a joint meeting of Ministry of DoNER and Government of Assam, disclosed that judicious time-bound planning and monitoring of projects using Space technology, satellite imaging and IT tools like Portal and App will be put to optimum use to avoid undue delays.
- Use of Space technology can bring in more transparency and authenticity in Utilisation Certificates (UCs) submitted for various projects.
- Emphasising on the completion of the ongoing projects without resorting to parking of funds, he made it clear, no fresh sanction for new projects will normally be issued if unspent balance of the State is more than 1.5 times of the normative allocation of the State on account or Utilisation Certificates (UCs) due is more than 5 per cent of the total release. The introduction of online submission of documents should leave no excuse for delay in file work.
- Advised the State Governments to prepare Department Project Reports (DPRs) and get them vetted techno-economically and recommended from SLEC in order to avoid delay.
- Lauding the innovative and fast track approach adopted by the Ministry of DoNER, said that there has been a substantial jump in the release of funds and submission of UCs in the last two and a half years in which a total of Rs.252.54 crores has been released.
- Citing the figures, in 2014-15, when the present Government took over, a total of Rs. 60.46 crores was released for NLCPR projects in whole of the year while in the current financial year of 2016-17, in the first 6 months itself, Rs. 92.67 crore has already been released.
Government unveils sustainable Urban Development strategy for next 20 years
(Topic: Urban Development)
About- Government made public the Urban Development strategy for the next 20 years intending to give a big push to use growing urbanization for rapid economic development while at the same time committing itself to address issues of sustainable development and climate change.
Minister of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation released ‘India Habitat III-National Report’ ahead of the UN Habitat III Conference in Quito, Ecuador late this month where a global New Urban Agenda for the next 20 years is going to be adopted.
- The challenge is about ensuring sustainable development while taking advantage of economic growth that results from rapid urbanization in the country.
- For long, urbanization has been looked at from the limited perspective of providing basic services.
- But our contemporary response shall be wide ranging aiming at serving larger macro-economic transformational goals together with meeting local priorities. Need to go for a big push to harness fully the potential of urbanization
What needs to be done?
Cities need to be made efficient, productive, inclusive, safe and sustainable, the agenda for the next two decades proposed in the National Report will be ensuring economic growth and productivity, improving quality of life and importantly, addressing issues of inclusivity, sustainability and climate change.
Elaborating on the strategy for transforming urban India, the Minister said it will be achieved through elimination of barriers to the flow of factors of production like capital, land and labour, development of rural and urban areas in a synergetic manner adopting a ‘regional planning approach’, promoting inclusivity by ensuring urban services to all, sustainable urban planning, empowering municipalities to improve governance and deal with exclusion issues, housing for all urban poor and ensuring social justice and gender equity.
Outcomes of new urban agenda based on sustainable urban planning would include reducing water and electricity use by 50% from that of normal use, enabling over 60% of urban travel by public transport, generating half of power from renewable sources, promoting walking and cycling for last mile connectivity, compact and cluster urban development, promoting natural drainage patterns, reducing waste generation of all kind, promoting greenery and public places etc.
Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojna & Organic Value Added Development Schemes to Promote Organic Farming in the Country
(Topic: Agriculture development)
About- Government of India has launched a Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojna (PKVY) and Organic Value Added Development (OVCDNER) schemes under National Sustained Agriculture Mission to promote organic farming in the country.
- Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojna (PKVY) is the first extensive scheme which has been initiated in the form of Centre Sponsored Programme (CSP).
- Implementation of this scheme is carried out by the State Governments based on the cluster for every 20 hectare land.
- Under clusters the farmers are granted financial assistance for maximum one hectare land and Government of India has earmarked Rs. 50,000 for every hectare land during the period of transformation of three year ceiling. Objective in this regard has been chalked out for 10,000 of clusters while covering area of 2 lakh hectare land.
- Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare has launched a scheme as Central Regional Scheme – Organic Value Added Mode Development Mission for North-Eastern regions for implementation in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim as well as Tripura during 2015-16 to 2017-18 while keeping in view the potentiality of farming in North-Eastern region.
- Scheme aims at to develop authentic organic products in value added mode so that the consumers might be linked with consumers and from input, seed certification to unification, processing, marketing as well as grant formation initiative. Assistance might be extended for the entire value added development. He said that the scheme has been approved with Rs. 400 crore for a span of three years.
Pandit Deen Dayal Updhyay Unnat Krishi Shiksha Yojna
- Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Ministry has launched a new scheme named as Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay Unnat Krihsi shiksha Yojna to fish out the talent of Indian youths and all over development of rural India has launched.
- Scheme is being implemented by Agriculture Education Division related to Indian Council of Agricultural Research Council (ICAR).
- Under this course of action the trainers will be selected on village level so as to establish training centre, to impart knowledge about natural/organic/sustainable farming/rural economy. Various training programmes will be conducted in different regions in these centers.
- Almost 100 training centers will be set up throughout the country for the participation of teachers in various activities for the Advanced India Campaign conducted by Agriculture Research Council/Human Resource Development Ministry under this scheme alongwith.
Steps taken by government-
- Agreement carried out between Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation and Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare so as to promote the organic farming along the banks of river Ganga.
- Under this scheme an organic farming system will be developed under 1657 clusters in the perspective of Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojna with Namami Gange project in 1657 village panchayats from Uttarakhand to West Bengal along the bank of Ganga.
- Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare informed people present there about Yogic farming.
- Farmers first of all process seeds based on yoga proceedings that is to say that the seeds are recharged by dint of divine powers resulting in the escalation of their sprouting powers. Thereafter the five elements are made conducive through yoga proceedings before the seeds are sown.
- Raj yoga shoots out the fertilizing strength of the soil along with the increased activation of micro metabolism thereof. It strengthens the plants and their roots.
- The farmers through the modus operand of vibration conveys to the plants about peace, love as well as purity which leads the resistance power of crops and its growth along with the increasement of production. Consequent upon the enhancement in proteins like elements the nutritious, purity and quality based the crops is also enhanced.
Union Agriculture & Farmers Welfare Minister launches e-NAM Mobile App
(Topic: Agriculture and farmers welfare)
About- Minister of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, announced successfully completion of e-NAM first phase and launched e-NAM Mobile App in New Delhi.
e-NAM to connect with-
- Most of the implementation issues faced in pilot phase have been addressed and e-NAM platform is connected to 250 markets across 10 States as of now (Andhra Pradesh (12), Chhattisgarh (05), Gujarat (40), Haryana (36), Himachal Pradesh (07), Jharkhand (08), Madhya Pradesh (20), Rajasthan (11), Telangana (44), Uttar Pradesh (67). Union Minister informed that so far, Detailed Project Reports (DPRs) for integrating 399 mandis with e-NAM has been received from 14 states and all of them have been approved.
Success of initiative lies in-
- Active involvement of all stakeholders, and in particular mandi and marketing board officials; the NAM programme is a success and is going ahead of schedule.
- Minister is sure that e-NAM will significantly contribute towards enhancing the farmer’s income. Agriculture Minister informed that so far, 1, 53,992.7 MT of agriculture produce worth Rs. 421 crore has been transacted on e-NAM platform and 1,60,229 Farmers, 46,688 Traders and 25,970 Commission Agents have been registered on the e-NAM platform.
- Quality parameters for 69 agricultural and horticultural commodities including cereals, Pulses, Oil seeds, Spices, Fruits and Vegetables have been notified for trading on e-NAM platorm. States have been asked to set up the quality assaying facilities to ensure quality assessment of the farmer’s produce in a scientific and professional manner.
- Online payment of the sale proceeds to the farmers is made available in the e-NAM portal and States are requested to encourage direct transfer of sales proceeds to the farmer’s bank account. A total number of 585 markets are targeted to be integrated in first phase with e-NAM by March 2018, out of which 400 markets will be integrated by March 2017.
Status of APMC Act reforms regarding e-NAM, carried out by various States/UTs is as under-
- 17 States and 1 UT have fully / partially modified their APMC Acts. Their names are : Andhra Pradesh, Gurajat, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Goa, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, Chhattisgarh, Mizoram, Punjab, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Nagaland, Haryana and Chandigarh (UT).
- 03 States and 1 UT have APMC Act and they have consented to bring changes in the act which is under process. Their names are: Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Assam and Puducherry.
- 06 States have APMC Act but no change has been made as yet. Their names are: Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura, Meghalaya, West Bengal, Jammu & Kashmir and Delhi. Out of them, West Bengal has demanded the e-NAM software for online trading.
- 01 state Sikkim does have APMC Act but is not implemented
- 03 States and 04 UTs do not have any APMC Act. Their names are: Bihar, Kerala, Manipur, Andman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshwadeep Islands, Dadar & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu. These states have been requested to frame Act/Regulations to enable trading through e-NAM. A meeting with Bihar and Kerala has been scheduled on 14/10/2016 in this regard.
Outcome of e-NAM
- It will bring forth more profit to farmers, availability of trade at lesser cost to the buyers and development of permanent mandis. It will enable the farmers to have access to the National Market having wide choice.
President of India inaugurated the first edition of the World Sustainable Development Summit
(Topic: Sustainable development)
About- President of India inaugurated the first edition of the World Sustainable Development Summit.
Theme- ‘Beyond 2015: People, Planet and Progress’ organized by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) in New Delhi. Theme motivates us to transform the way we think about progress. The barometer of prosperity is not merely economic growth but the well-being and availability of opportunities for all.
- The threat of climate change is real and immediate.
- It concerns the whole world as its ill-effects are all-pervasive. As a developing country with shared concerns on climate vulnerability, India has a vital stake in an equitable and multi-lateral approach towards climate change. India ratified the landmark Paris Agreement four days ago. This will be a major boost to our fight against climate change.
- We need to follow a twin-tracked approach of limiting the rise of climate change while ensuring the existence of sufficient resources to meet our future developmental requirements.
- This objective mandates the efficient use of earth’s natural resource. We should aim at creating a society that is prosperous but not wasteful.
- We should make use of our abundant renewable sources to create a society that is self-sustaining and mindful of its responsibilities towards the present and future generations. Our society must learn to exercise restraint in consumption while continuing to use resources in moderation.
World Sustainable Development Summit would deliberate on policy discourse and conceptualize new solutions to find innovative pathways of development.
Launch of dedicated website for DGAD, Department of Commerce
About- Commerce Secretary launched a more informative, user-friendly, dedicated website (http://www.dgtr.gov.in/) for DGAD for disseminating information/activities being performed by DGAD. Also inaugurated the additional office space developed by NBCC to meet the requirements of increased work responsibilities and to ensure optimal functioning of the Directorate
- Commerce Secretary appreciated the activities of a dedicated CVD Cell that was created in DGAD to defend the interests of Indian exporters against the anti-dumping/countervailing investigations initiated by foreign governments on Indian exports.
- DGAD has continuously raised its working standards, which are reflected in the record number of 51 cases of findings issued by DGAD in 2015-16. In the current FY 2016-17, DGAD has already issued 18 cases of final findings and 3 cases of preliminary findings.
- DGAD has also in collaboration with Centre for WTO Studies and WTO Secretariat organized a Regional Anti-Dumping Workshop in New Delhi, India during 3rd – 5th October, 2016 to exchange information and views on laws and regulations relating to trade remedy measures and to enhance cooperation in the area of trade remedies.
Commerce and Industry Minister says steps have been taken to sort out the implementation issues related to CEPA and improve bilateral trade as well as trade balance with Japan
(Topic: Commerce and Industry)
Improve bilateral trade
- Promoting India’s exports to Japan under India-Japan CEPA and release of RIS report on India-Japan CEPA in New Delhi, Commerce and Industry Minister said Japan is one of the closest and most reliable trade partners of India and we recognise that Japan will play an increasingly important role in India’s economic transformation and development.
- PM of India visited Japan in 2014 and it was occasioned by the elevation of our bilateral partnershipto the status of special strategic and global partnership.
- India – Japan partnership has expanded over the past few years and now the identified complementarities are being harnessed through trade and investments to our mutual advantage.
- Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement i.e. CEPA between India and Japan came into force on 1stAugust, 2011 and is one of the most comprehensive agreements concluded by India.
- Bilateral trade between India and Japan pre-CEPA in 2010 was 10.4 USD billion and currently in 2016 stands at 14.5 USD billion. However, trade deficit of India with respect to Japan has also increased from 3.1 USD billion pre CEPA to 5.2 USD billion post CEPA
Need to address the implementation issues of CEPA, Some examples-
- Japan accorded a preferential tariff of 1.9 % as against an MFN rate of 3.5 % to Fish Surimi from India. However, as per the requirement to preserve the protein content during storage, a negligible amount of an imported Cryo-protectant called TSPP is applied to the fish.
- Though the value of the TSPP is less than half a per cent of the overall cost of the product, the interpretation under rules of origin preclude it from availing the CEPA benefits on the grounds that the ‘Product is not of Indian origin’.
- In this report, RIS has made a detailed analysis of such issues through extensive research including consultations with various stakeholders and authorities both in India as well as in Japan.
‘Mission Raftaar’ of Indian Railway Starts To Yield Results
(Topic: Indian Railways)
About- Mission Raftaar project of the Indian Railways has now picked up and started yielding results.
Mission Raftaar Project
- Under this project measures are being taken to raise average speed of both passenger carrying trains and freight carrying trains. The Mission is being spearheaded by a cross disciplinary mobility Directorate in the Railway Board. The average speed is reckoned as one of the key indicators of all the railway productivity and efficiency in operations and utilization of assets.
- Under this project the busiest Ghaziabad – Allahabad – Mughalsarai route which was taken up on priority basis, for increasing average speed which now has been successfully implemented.
- This was achieved by replacement of loco hauled commuter trains with Main line Electric Multiple Units (MEMU) and Diesel Electric Multiple Units (DEMU) trains has been undertaken. MEMU / DEMU trains have a potential for average speed increment upto 20 kmph in comparison to loco driven passenger trains. The Ghaziabad – Allahabad – Mughalsarai section is now free from conventional trains.
Steps taken by Railways-
- Railway Ministry is working on a target to do this kind of replacement on all identified routes viz., Delhi – Mumbai, Delhi –Howrah, Howrah-Chennai, Chennai – Mumbai, Delhi – Chennai and Howrah – Mumbai (Diamond Quadrilateral routes along with diagonals). These are the principal routes of the railways as they carry 58% of freight traffic and 52 of coaching traffic with a share of only 15 of the network.
Progress and Road Map-
- A cross disciplinary, Mobility directorate has been set up in April 2016 to spearhead the mission.
- For a focused action, Golden Quadrilateral routes along with diagonals (Delhi – Mumbai, Delhi – Howrah, Howrah- Chennai, Chennai – Mumbai, Delhi – Chennai and Howrah – Mumbai) have been taken up for initial emphasis. These are the principal routes of the railways as they carry 58% of freight traffic and 52% of coaching traffic with a share of only 15% of the network.
- Multi-pronged strategy has been developed to overcome the existing impediments due to fixed infrastructure, movable infrastructure, operational practices and institutional mechanisms.
Thrust of the strategy:
- To move in the direction in which these routes are developed in a unified way making them seamless and free from congestion points. So far such development works have been largely guided and governed by needs of individual division/ zone due to which the works were dispersed/ distributed/ discontinuous and speed gain commensurate to the inputs could not be realized.
- To establish operating systems in which the trains technically have the best capability to achieve maximum possible speed in least time along with quickest acceleration and deceleration capability so that the transit time is reduced.
Strategy and institutional mechanism for implementation:
Railways decided for a paradigm shift in approach to works. Route to be the primary unit for decision about works as against existing practice of zonal/ divisional jurisdiction. This fundamental shift will prove to be a game changer for achieving unified development of the routes essential for achieving Mission Raftaar goals.
Key Elements of the decision:
- Planning and Sanction of Works: Only one work for each route clubbing all activities. Works to be planned centrally.
- Financing: Works to be financed through EBR-IF as there is high likelihood of favourable ROR on the route basis.
- Execution: Route wise execution. The work of each route to be entrusted to one execution authority for accountability and expeditious execution by deploying state-of-the-art engineering technology/machines. There is a big role of technology in saving the execution time and minimizing the requirement of interruption to train flow in traffic block. This is very important because chosen routes are very busy hence the objective will be to cause minimum inconvenience to the passengers and setback to operations. A Traffic Block Optimization System on an IT platform is being developed to provide a congenial environment for execution of works required to achieve mission goals.Board has decided to implement this approach initially on Delhi – Mumbai and Delhi- Howrah routes.
- Human capital is our key resource. Thrust will be given to training, skill development of the staff involved in operations and maintenance of assets so that they maintain pace with the new machines and technology.
Addressing the Restricted Session of the International Monetary and Finance Committee (IMFC) and the Plenary Session of IMFC in Washington D.C. the Finance Minister stresses to focus on the coordinated policy actions and growth strategies
About-Union Finance Minister stressed that since the forces of globalization and multilateralism can go a long way in expanding global growth opportunities, we must focus on the coordinated policy actions and growth strategies. He emphasized that there is a strong case for realigning quota shares with the changed global economic realities. While expressing India’s extreme disappointment with delay in completion of 15th General Review of Quota (GRQ) by Annual Meeting of 2017, the Finance Minister emphasized that the Fund should strictly abide by the new deadlines set for completing the 15th Review.
- IMFC is a key body providing strategic direction to the work and policies of the IMF.
- The events were attended by select Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors. The closed door discussions centered on the policy responses to prolonged period of subdued global growth, low commodity prices and negative interest rates in some large economies.
- Union Finance Minister also participated in the Plenary Meeting of the Development Committee (DC), which is the Ministerial-Level forum of the World Bank Group and the IMF for inter-governmental consensus building on development issues.
- The meeting focused on the ‘Forward Look’ exercise carried-out by the World Bank and discussion on the Dynamic Formula of Shareholding of member countries in IBRD.
- In view of the World Bank being capital-constrained, emphasized upon the need for re-capitalizing the Bank to enable it to meet SDGs and twin goals. Expressed hope that World Bank would be more agile, efficient and less expensive.
- While addressing the gathering at forums like the Goldman Sachs Growth Markets Conference and the FT-Citi Forum, the Finance Minister elaborated on the significant improvement in the macro-economic fundamentals of Investment and growth in the Indian economy.
- Finance Minister also highlighted the major transformative initiatives taken by the Government which have created a positive business environment for Indian and global investments, impressive increases in FDI, $100 billion solar energy investment programme, changing 770 million incandescent and fluorescent bulbs to save 20 GW of electricity, Clean India (Swachh Bharat) Program, International Solar Alliance, Make-In-India, total transformation of indirect taxes regime, passage of GST bills, bankruptcy code, etc.
Jharkhand becomes first state to launch Direct Benefit Transfer in Kerosene
(Topic: Petroleum and Natural gas)
About- Jharkhand has become the first state in the country to implement Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) in Kerosene in four identified districts namely, Chatra, Hazaribagh, Khunti and Jantara from 1st October, 2016.
Initiative of the governments is aimed at– Rationalising subsidy, based on the approach to cut subsidy leakages but not subsidy per se.
Under the DBTK Scheme, PDS kerosene is being sold at non-subsidised price, and, subsidy, as admissible, is being transferred to consumers directly into their bank accounts.