(Topic: Election Commission)
About- The first ever Global Conference on Voter Education titled “Voter Education for Inclusive, Informed and Ethical Participation” is being organized by the Election Commission of India in association with UNDP from 19th to 21st October, 2016 at New Delhi.
Aim- To learn from the experiences of EMBs, government and non-government by way of sharing the best practices, policies and initiatives of voter education
For inclusive participation of voters through the exercise of informed and ethical choice as the key to strengthening the fabric of democracy.The Voter is the central point of the electoral framework and every voter must be thoroughly aware and educated about the electoral processes and procedures, so as to ensure his or her informed and ethical participation.
- Conference will deliberate upon 5 topics ranging from- Electoral Literacy to Enhanced participation by special categories of voters, Role of ICT in Voter Education and Strategies for Informed and Ethical Voting
- International as well as national experts on the subject will be sharing insights during the Conference.
- ECI envisages a number of initiatives towards achieving international synergy in Voter Education and awareness. In this regard, the following components, during the Conference, shall be of significance:
Global Platform- The Conference shall provide the first ever global platform for the sharing of best practices in voter education. The participants consist of a varied conglomeration of nations ranging from relatively young democracies to nations spreading across all continents of the world. This diverse variety of knowledge and experience would enable to bring out ‘best of the best’ global practices in the Conference.
Overseas Indian Survey cum Competition- With the Conference, the ECI also launches the NRI survey cum competition.
What? The survey – competition is a novel way ahead in touching a chord with the Overseas Indians. It aims to not only gather useful data through the survey but also attract and engage NRIs about their voting eligibility and rights.
How it will help? This will also help guide the Commission in formulating further voting initiatives especially designed for the Overseas Indian population. The survey competition has designed by ECI in collaboration with TISS.
The Voice.net -The Conference will see the launch of the ambitious project of VoICE.NET.
What? It is a Global Knowledge Network on voter education with membership from participating EMBs and Organisation working in the field of elections and democracy – VoICE.NET.
How it will help? This network will provide an innovative wide platform to share knowledge resources, interact on discussion board, sharing platform for events and practices in member countries and also extend its knowledge and resource support to stakeholders e.g. CSOs, Departments and other organisations associated with elections besides Academic Institutions.
The Exhibition-An exhibition showcasing Voter Education tools and materials from India and across the world consisting of informational material, model polling station, provision of live voting on EVM, photos, videos, 3D models, interactive games developed by ECI shall be on show. The EVM and VVPAT have especially being demonstrated for the delegates on their request.
The substantial quantum of Voter Education material developed by ECI, the voter education guides/brochures, the compilation of Human Stories and other literature including the praiseworthy Braille brochures on voting education shall also be on display.
The Resolution-The Conference will also aim to achieve a Resolution to strengthen Inclusive, Informed and Ethical electoral participation among member countries with the help of Voter Education and outreach.
Government to bring an anti-trafficking legislation in Parliament soon
(Topic: Women and Child Development)
About- Minister of Women & Child Development, has said that the Government will soon bring an anti-trafficking legislation into the Parliament, the draft of which is ready.
The bill will cover- Rescue, Relief and Reintegration of trafficked persons, and for the first time will make a distinction between those trafficked and the traffickers.
Steps being taken by the Government
- Ministry of Women and Child has launched POCSO e-Box which is a simple and easy facility for children or any adult to register complaints of child sexual abuse or harassment. 81 complaints have already been received on this e-Box, the Minister disclosed.
- In another important initiative to track missing children, Khoya Paya portal has already reported nearly 6000 cases of missing/sighted children since its launch last year. Runaway/Missing children are also being helped under Special Operating Procedures developed in association with Railways.
- Some of the other landmark initiatives taken by the Government include decision to install panic buttons on all cell phones for women in distress from 1st of January 2017, setting up of nearly 170 One Stop Centres for women affected by violence by March 2017.
- Flagship programme Beti bachao Beti Padhao to reverse the declining child sex ratio, 33% reservation for women in police force, and setting up a large Home for 1000 widows in Vrindavan.
- Guidelines for Matrimonial Websites are being implemented to prevent their misuse
- An online portal Mahil e-Haat for women to sell their products has been set up on which business worth nearly six lakh rupess was transacted in the first six months itself, STEP programme of training women has been completely revamped, women sarpanches are being trained to empower them to administer the villages professionally, and scheme of Gender Champions has been launched in schools
- Last but not the least, the Government is now working full time to revamp the anganwadi system to change ways in which nutrition is being administered to children and pregnant women.
- To ensure healthy children, the Government is now working for six months’ mandatory maternity leave for working women for which the Ministry of Labour and Employment has moved to introduce amendments in the Act.
MoU Signed between NICPR and All India Institute of Ayurveda for Cancer Prevention and Research
(Topic: Health and Family Welfare)
About- MoU was signed between the National Institute of Cancer Prevention and Research (NICPR), an autonomous institute under Department of Health Research, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and All India Institute of Ayurveda (AIIA), an autonomous institute under the Ministry of AYUSH.
MoU would pave the way to carry forward the ongoing bilateral dialogue and facilitate collaboration with National Cancer Institute, USA.
Objective of the MoU is- To set up a Center of Integrative Oncology at NICPR-Noida as joint venture of Ministry of AYUSH and Department of Health Research, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare for collaboration in the areas of cancer prevention, research and Care.
Collaborative research should aim at developing traditional medicine as adjuvant therapy to reduce the side effects of chemotherapy.
Setting up of this Centre is an outcome of?
Deliberations held in Indo-US Workshop where in the invited US delegates from Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute of Health (NIH), National Cancer Institute (NIH) deliberated with the eminent experts from India having expertise in Cancer research and other promising areas for two days to share experiences and work out a road map for future collaborations.
Web portal on ‘Network for AYUSH Cancer Care (NFACC)’ also launched
- Developed by the AIIA
- Help to- Collect the national data of experts, scientists, practitioners, institutes, universities located across the country and engaged in cancer care & research. An online App of NFACC has also been developed.
- This app will be available on the website of various AYUSH institutions which will provide a hyperlink to the main Portal. In future, this portal will have collection of research papers related to Cancer care, information about the facilities available for Cancer care through AYUSH systems.
Consumer Mela for spot registration of consumer grievances
(Topic: Consumer, food and public distribution)
About- Department of Consumer Affairs is organizing Consumer Mela 2016 on 20th October, 2016 at New Delhi
Ojective of- Bringing Consumers, Companies, Regulators and DoCA on one platform for Consumer Awareness and possible grievance redressals, on the spot registration of grievances.
Partners in the Mela would be Industry bodies like ASSOCHAM, CII, DICCI, FICCI and PHD Chambers while regulators like FSSAI, TRAI, BEE would also participate.
Consumer Counseling Mechanism of Department of Consumer Affairs popularly known as National Consumer Helpline (NCH) will be in the mela to educate consumers about their rights and responsibilities, the procedure for seeking Grievance Redressal, assisting them in registering Grievances, etc. It would also register on the spot Grievances, if any.
As the Department of Consumer Affairs is observing Swachhta Pakhwada from 16th to 31st Oct, 2016, this opportunity would also be utilized to educate consumers about their responsibilities to keep their surroundings clean. Nukkad Nataks on consumer awareness and Swachhta and Poster making competition by School children would be organized during the event.
Why needed? When lots of purchasing are done, it is important that Consumers make informed choices, they do not fall prey to counterfeit products, unfair trade practices etc.
Women of India Exhibition 2016 draw a tremendous response
(Topic: Women and Child Development)
About- Women of India Exhibition 2016 being held at Dilli Haat, INA, New Delhi is receiving a tremendous response from the visitors.
Organised by- Union Ministry of Women and Child Development, the unique exhibition is being held from 14th to 23rdOctober, 2016.
Aim- To promote women entrepreneurs engaged in manufacture and promotion of organic products ranging from food, fabrics, wellness, personal care among others.
- Exhibition of organic products in this fair mainly promotes women entrepreneurs across the country to showcase their organic products to visitors at the exhibition.
- Major objectives of the exhibition are to-> Support and encourage women entrepreneurs engaged in- Promotion of organic products/ farming + Provide an opportunity to exhibit their products for wider publicity and recognition + Share their experiences in promotion of organic products in their rural areas with other participating women entrepreneurs.
- Exhibition also focuses on generating awareness among the public, on the benefits of organic products aiming at sustainable healthy life.
- Exhibition is held for a period of two weeks every year during the month of October-November, which encourages grass root level women entrepreneurs to participate in the exhibition.
- Women entrepreneurs also gather information on preparation of organic product highlighting health and environmental advances of organic food etc, from their counterparts.
Participants- Nearly 300 women entrepreneurs from Leh to Kanyakumari and Kohima to Kutch, have come to participate in the exhibition with their organic products, ranging from cereals, rice, pulses, spices, fabrics, dyes and dresses, cosmetics, household products, pickles, organic ice cream, preserves, oils, honey, tea, hair care, bath care, beauty care, aromatherapy products, solar products, kitchen composters, organic cotton fabric, linen, organic seeds, sikki grass art & crafts, handicrafts made of recycled scrap, sea shells, papier mache products, ready to eat snacks, water hyacinth craft, cowdung air purifier, jute craft, jackfruit products, wild edible forest products, agarbatti, loban and other bio products etc.
Three daylong Global Conference to Make India the Centre for Arbitration
(Topic: NITI Aayog)
About-The first ever Global Conference to Strengthen Arbitration and Enforcement in India gets underway in New Delhi.
Conference titled- “National Initiative on Strengthening Arbitration and Enforcement In India” from October 21st to 23rd, 2016.
Aim- To provide impetus to commercial arbitration in India, this is fast gaining pace across the world, for faster, more efficient dispute resolution outside the court room
Launched by– Government and Judiciary as a major initiative to change the face of dispute resolution in India.
- NITI Aayog, Ministry of Law & Justice, DIPP, National Legal Services Authority, International Center for Alternative Dispute Resolution, National Institute of Labour Economics Research and Development has collaborated to make India the centre of arbitration.
- Also for the first time six leading international arbitral institutions (HKIAC, ICC, KLRCA, LCIA, PCA and SIAC) and all major industry associations (FICCI, PHD Chamber, CII and ASSOCHAM) have come together to drive this initiative.
Benefit- Conference will serve as a platform for discussing critical issues, sharing experiences on the best international practices and creating a roadmap to strengthen arbitration and its enforcement in the country.
- Conference comes in the backdrop of the immense losses suffered by the business enterprises and the economy at large, due to enormous backlogs involved in dispute resolution in Indian courts.
- This keep resources and money of the businesses trapped till resolution of the dispute. This is a major disincentive for foreign companies coming to invest in India. So they seek alternatives. One such alternative is arbitration which can be cost effective and quick.
World Bank Report on Ease of Doing Business-
- Increasingly, foreign companies that partner with Indian businesses are approaching countries outside of India for dispute resolution.
- In the World Bank Report on the Ease of Doing Business India has improved its position by 12 ranks. However, on the Enforcement of Contracts India fares extremely poorly and ranks 178 out of 189 countries.
- World Bank Report suggests that improving the mechanism to resolve commercial disputes in India will go a long way in bettering India’s rank.
- Many Indian companies are going to foreign arbitration centres like Singapore, London and Paris taking a huge chunk of dispute resolution business outside India.
- Statistics make this picture clear- In 2012, 49 of the total 235 cases in Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) involved an Indian party. This figure grew to 85 out of 259 cases in 2013.
Steps taken to overcome-
- India has already undertaken major structural reforms to facilitate ease of doing business recently, including legal reforms to revamp the existing arbitration framework.
- Parliament has recently passed an Amendment to the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996. Moreover, the Commercial Courts, Commercial Division and Commercial Appellate Division of High Courts Act, 2015 has been passed to fast track commercial dispute resolution.
- Building over these reforms, the initiative by Government and Judiciary will help to improve the institutional capacity necessary to create a vibrant ecosystem to make India the next big hub for international commercial arbitration.
India Signs Guarantee Agreement with the World Bank for IBRD
(Topic: Economic Affairs)
About- A Guarantee Agreement for World Bank (IBRD) lending of US$ 650 million to the Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Ltd. (DFCCIL) for Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor-III (EDFC-III) Project has been signed between the Government of India and the World Bank here today in the national capital.
Agreement was signed by Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance on behalf of the Government of India and Acting Country Director, World Bank, India on behalf of the World Bank.
Objective of the EDFC-III Project-
- To augment rail transport capacity, improve service quality and enhance freight carriage throughput on the 401 km Ludhiana-Khurja section of the Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor
- Develop institutional capacity of DFCCIL to build, maintain and operate the entire DFC network. This project is in continuation of Phase-I and II of the EDFC Projects being implemented by the DFCCIL with the World Bank loan of US$ 975 million and US$ 1100 million respectively on the Dadri-Khurja-Kanpur
- Kanpur-Mughal Sarai stretches of the Eastern Rail Corridor (Ludhiana-Delhi-Kolkata).
Project will directly benefit- Power and heavy manufacturing industries of Northern and Eastern India, which rely on railway, network for transportation of their material inputs and also for the distribution of bulk processed and semi-processed commodities and consumer goods. Railway passengers will also be benefitted through decongestion of the existing passenger lines.
Leading institutions especially educational institutions can play an important role in creating mass awareness about issues like financial inclusion in the country
About- Union Finance Minister said leading institutions especially educational institutions can play an important role in creating mass awareness about issues like financial inclusion in the country. Government has taken various steps in last two and a half years to link every household with a bank account.
- Under PMJDY Government has been able to open 240 million bank accounts and now except in certain remote and inaccessible areas, people who are in a position to connect with bank, have a bank account.
- Government had launched MUDRA Yojana so that small traders, businesses and new entrepreneurs can have access to banking finance without security. Major beneficiaries under the Scheme were women and those from weaker sections of society.
- It is a Centre For Community Engagement (CCE) initiative, aimed at making communities equipped enough to manage financial resources effectively through community engagement, workshops, seminars, and discussions. Founded by a group of motivated teachers and students, the Cell wants to create an impact through its well-planned, community-oriented projects.
- Vittshala envisions a nation where every individual is financially literate and is empowered to act as a catalyst for economic growth.
- Vittshala will act as a multi-faceted programme involving peer-counseling, developing interactive apps and events to promote financial literacy with respect to-
- Basics of Financial Planning
- Channelisation of savings
- Banking and Insurance services
- Opening and operating of bank accounts and related Government schemes
Workshop for the liaison officers of CPSES regarding “Implementation of Reservation Policy in CPSES” begins
(Topic: Heavy Industries and Public Enterprise)
About- Additional Secretary in the Department of Public Enterprises, M/o Heavy Industry & Public Enterprises has advised the Officers of Central Public Sector Enterprises to follow the Guidelines devised by the Deptt. of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions and Training (DoPT) in letter and practice. A two day workshop for the liaison officers of CPSEs regarding “Implementation of Reservation Policy in CPSEs” held in New Delhi.
Policy launched in view of- Concern raised by NCSC in regard to implementation of reservation policy in CPSEs, it was decided to organize a training programme on the subject matter of “Implementation of Reservation Policy in CPSEs” through Institute of Secretariat Training & Management (ISTM), an autonomous body under DoPT.
Workshop will enable the participants to-
- List out relaxations and concessions available to reserved category employees
- Describe procedure for operations and maintenance of Roster for small cadre
- Describe procedure for operation and maintenance of Roster for large cadre
- List issues involved in Reservation in promotion, and direct recruitments (DR)
- It is informed by NCST that most of the CPSEs did not comply with Commission’s recommendations
- NCSC had requested Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) to issue suitable instructions to Central Public Sector Enterprise (CPSE) for early implementation of the Commission’s recommendation.
- Nearly 56 officials from 28 CPSEs out of around 80 nominations are participating in the workshop.
Steps taken- National Commission for Schedule Castes (NCSC) has informed DPE that NCSC has taken review meetings with several Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs) and anomalies in respect of implementation of DoPT orders in respect of issues pertaining to Reservation in CPSEs like Reservation Rosters, non-filling of Backlog vacancies meant for SCs and OBCs, appointment of liaison officers etc. as noticed by commission brought to the notice of the concerned CPSE.
PM launches National SC/ST hub
(Topic: Steps to improve SC/ST’s)
About- Prime Minister launched the National SC/ST hub.
It will work towards-
- Strengthening market access/linkages
- Capacity building
- Leveraging financial support schemes and sharing industry best practices.
Help- Enable central public sector enterprise to fulfil the procurement target set by the government.
Sports Authority of India collaborate with some identified universities across the country to improve standards of training
About- Sports Authority of India (SAI) will collaborate with some identified universities across the country to improve standards of training with a view to achieving excellence in sports. For this purpose, each Regional Director of SAI will identify one or two universities with good sports infrastructure and sporting traditions. This decision was taken at a meeting of Heads of SAI Regional Centres, Academic Institutions, SAI Training Centres (STCs) and Special Area Games (SAG) Centres held in New Delhi.
- Collaboration between SAI and chosen universities is imperative in view of the fact that several universities across the country have excellent sports infrastructure which is not being optimally utilized.
- Such collaboration is also essential in view of the fact that in big sporting nations like the USA, international athletes mostly come from their universities.
How it can be improved?
- To closely monitor the performance of SAI coaches, take steps to constantly upgrade their skills and also to incentivize them.
- Every SAI Centre has been discussed to select sports disciplines for focused attention, keeping in view factors like infrastructure and local traditions.
- The issue of identification of talent by SAI was also discussed at length. It was decided that SAI would pro-actively hunt for talent by sending its teams to interior areas. Sports science experts will also be part of such teams. SAI will also collaborate with Defence forces to ensure that talented children get selected for nurturing in SAI Centres.
- Need for seeking contribution of the corporate sector to upgrade facilities at the SAI Centres.
- Initiating steps to utilize every nook and corner of SAI complexes.SAI facilities should be opened to public without disturbing their normal activities of training.
- Need for SAI Centres to closely work with the State Governments and involve local representatives of people so that concerted and coordinated efforts can be made for achieving sports excellence.
10th India and United States Trade Policy Forum
(Topic: Commerce and Industries)
About- A high level delegation led by Ambassador, United States Trade Representative is attending the 10th India-United States Trade Policy Forum (TPF) meetings scheduled from 19th October, 2016 to 20th October, 2016 at New Delhi.
Trade Policy Forum meeting has focussed on
- Increased bilateral interaction and momentum on resolving trade concerns.
- As part of the annual work plan jointly agreed between India and US working groups on- Agriculture + Trade in services and goods + Promotion of investment in manufacturing and intellectual property have been meeting with an intention of understanding the best practices + Facilitating investment and raising concerns relating to the trade.
- The previous 9th TPF was held in October, 2015 at Washington D.C, USA
- Both the sides would be reviewing the progress achieved on the issues agreed upon in work plans for 2016, under all the four work streams and would be working out the way forward for 2017.
- Bilateral commercial ties between the United States and India are growing stronger as reflected by increased bilateral trade in Goods and Services of $109 billion and highest ever FDI inflows in 2015-16.
- Bilateral cooperation under TPF has resulted in resolving several market access issues and cooperation in services, manufacturing and IPR. India is looking forward to maintain the momentum further in the current TPF.
Prime Minister dedicates three Hydro Projects to the Nation
(Topic: Power Generation)
About- PM dedicated three flagship 800 MW Hydro Power Station of NTPC- Koldam, 520 MW Parvati Project of NHPC and 412 MW Rampur Hydro Station of SJVNL projects to the Nation in Mandi , Himachal Pradesh.
NHPC’s Parbati-III Power Station
- NHPC’s Parbati-III Power Stationis a run of the river scheme having a 43m high rockfill dam, underground Power House and 10.58 km long water conductor system.
- A net head of 326 meter is utilized to run four vertical Francis turbines with an installed capacity of 520 MW (4×130 MW).
- The power plant is designed to generate 1963.29 Million Units annually.
- The power generated from the Parbati-III Power Station is distributed to beneficiary states i.e. Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Delhi, Rajasthan and Union Territory of Chandigarh.
- Power Station is supplying 13% free power to home state i.e. 12% as home state share and 1% for Local Area Development fund. The completion cost of the project is around Rs 2600 crore and as on 30.09.2016 the total power generation is 1880 MU with revenue realization of Rs 816 crore.
- With commencement of generation from four 200 MW units, NTPC- Koldamhas achieved capacity of 800 MW and provides peaking capacity to the Northern grid.
- It shall annually generate 3054 GWh electricity at 90% dependable year basis.
- Twelve percent of the electricity generated from Koldam is being supplied to the home state Himachal Pradesh free of cost while 1 percent to the state on account of Local Area Development fund.
- All the Project Affected Families are being provided 100 units of electricity every month free of cost which accounts for 0.62 percent of the total generation.
- Thus a total 13.62 percent of electricity generated from the plant is supplied free of cost to Himachal Pradesh, remaining power supplied to other beneficiaries namely Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Uttrakhand and Chandigarh.
SJVN’s Rampur Project (412MW)
- SJVN’s Rampur Project (412MW) in Kullu districtwill be operated in tandem with Nathpa Jhakri Hydro Power Station (HPS). This project will provide 13 percent free power to the state of Himachal Pradesh.
Commerce and Industry Minister launches the CIPAM Logo
(Topic: Commerce and Industry)
About- The logo of the Cell for IPR Promotion and Management (CIPAM) was launched by the Commerce & Industry Minister.
Logo has been designed keeping in mind the slogan of the National IPR Policy: “Creative India, Innovative India”.
- While the logo stands for “Cell for IPR Promotion and Management”, the letter “I” stands for Intellectual, and is represented by a pencil, denoting the expression of creativity, and in the tri-colours of the Indian flag.
- The curve of the letter “P” stands for Property, and is denoted by a gear which depicts Innovation and Industry.
- Cell for IPR Promotion and Management (CIPAM) has been created as a professional body under the aegis of DIPP to take forward the implementation of the National IPR Policy that was approved by the Government in May 2016, with the slogan –“Creative India; Innovative India: ???????? ????; ????? ????”
- CIPAM is working towards creating public awareness about IPRs in the country, promoting the filing of IPRs through facilitation, providing inventors with a platform to commercialize their IP assets and coordinating the implementation of the National IPR Policy in collaboration with Government Ministries/Departments and other stakeholders.
Foundation Stone for Atal Akshay Urja Bhawan
(Topic: New and Renewable energy)
About- Union Minister of State (IC) for Power, Coal, New and Renewable Energy and Mines, laid the foundation stone for Atal Akshay Urja Bhawan. The building has been named after former PM of India, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, as he laid the foundation stone for the Wind Turbine Testing Station of the National Institute of Wind Energy at Kayathar, Thoothukudi District, Tamil Nadu on 5th September, 2000.
- Atal Akshay Urja Bhawan will be the integrated headquarters building for the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy. At present the office of MNRE is located in three different building blocks at CGO Complex with its current strength of about 400 officials.
- Bhawan will be an iconic landmark symbolizing an energy efficient renewable energy integrated building. It would be a state-of- the art, Net-Zero-Energy Green Building designed on the concept of Solar Passive Architecture. This interactive and use-responsive building will have an Urja pavilion showcasing Renewable Energy systems and devices.
- Building will provide an environment friendly atmosphere with renewable energy and energy efficiency utilization in the building. This iconic building will be a symbol of our country marching ahead to lead renewable energy revolution.
Launch of Implementation of Sustainable Tourism Criteria for India
About-Ministry of Tourism launched the Implementation of the Sustainable Tourism Criteria for India (STCI) in association with Ecotourism Society of India (ESOI).
- Sustainable Tourism Criteria for India (STCI) had been developed for the accommodation, tour operators and beaches, backwaters and lakes sectors of the tourism industry after thorough discussions with the stakeholders.
- STCI follow the guidelines set by the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria (GSTC) that has been evolved under the guidance of the United Nations’ agencies viz. UNEP and UNWTO.
- STCI were developed with the need for developing criteria for sustainable tourism specific to India given the specific environment that India’s tourism industry operates in and drawing inspiration from India’s attainments in sustainability.
- After much deliberations, the STCI were defined finally launched on 26thAugust 2014 by the then Minister of Tourism in Hyderabad in association with the leading Travel Trade Associations.
Ude Desh Ka Aam Naagrik : Civil Aviation Ministry’s Regional Connectivity Scheme “UDAN” Launched
(Topic: Civil Aviation)
About- Ministry of Civil Aviation took a major step towards making flying a reality for the small town common man. The Civil Aviation Minister launched the Ministry’s much awaited Regional Connectivity Scheme “UDAN” in New Delhi.
- UDAN is an innovative scheme to develop the regional aviation market which envisages providing connectivity to un-served and under-served airports of the country through revival of existing air-strips and airports. The scheme would be in operation for a period of 10 years.
- It is a market-based mechanism in which airlines bid for seat subsidies.
- This first-of-its-kind scheme globally will create affordable yet economically viable and profitable flights on regional routes so that flying becomes affordable to the common man even in small towns.
- UDAN has a unique market-based model to develop regional connectivity. Interested airline and helicopter operators can start operations on hitherto un-connected routes by submitting proposals to the Implementing Agency.
- The operators could seek a Viability Gap Funding (VGF) apart from getting various concessions.
- All such route proposals would then be offered for competitive bidding through a reverse bidding mechanism and the route would be awarded to the participant quoting the lowest VGF per Seat.
- The operator submitting the original proposal would have the Right of First Refusal on matching the lowest bid in case his original bid is within 10% of the lowest bid. The successful bidder would then have exclusive rights to operate the route for a period of three years. Such support would be withdrawn after a three year period, as by that time, the route is expected to become self-sustainable.
Objective of the scheme- “Ude Desh Ka Aam Naagrik”, ensure affordability, connectivity, growth and development.
- It would provide a win-win situation for all stakeholders – citizens would get the benefit of affordability, connectivity and more jobs.
- Centre would be able to expand the regional air connectivity and market. The state governments would reap the benefit of development of remote areas, enhance trade and commerce and more tourism expansion.
- For incumbent airlines there was the promise of new routes and more passengers while for and start-up airlines there is the opportunity of new, scalable business. Airport operators will also see their business expanding as would original equipment manufacturers
- The UDAN is likely to a give a major fillip to tourism and employment generation in the hinterland. Through introduction of helicopters and small aircraft, it is also likely to significantly reduce travel timings in remote and hilly regions, as well as islands and other areas of the country.
- Financial stimulus in the form of concessions from Central and State governments and airport operators and
- Viability Gap Funding to the interested airlines to kick-off operations from such airports so that the passenger fares are kept affordable.
- Central Government would provide concessions in the form of reduced excise duty, service tax, permission to trade ASKMs for Non-RCS (UDAN) Seats and flexibility of code sharing at the RCS (UDAN) airports.
- State governments will have to lower the VAT on ATF to 1% or less, besides providing security and fire services free of cost and electricity, water and other utilities at substantially concessional rates.
- Airport operators shall not impose Landing and Parking charge and Terminal Navigation Landing Charges in addition to discounts on Route Navigation Facility Charges.
- A Regional Connectivity Fund would be created to meet the viability gap funding requirements under the scheme. The RCF levy per departure will be applied to certain domestic flights.
States have key role-
- States have a key role under the scheme. The selection of airports where UDAN operations would start would be done in consultation with State Government and after confirmation of their concessions.
- It may be recalled that revival of dysfunctional airports and starting operations on un-served airports has been a long standing demand of most States and this will be addressed through UDAN to a large extent.
- State Governments (other than North Eastern States and Union Territories where contribution will be 10 %) would contribute a 20% share to this fund. For balanced regional growth, the allocations under the scheme would be equitably spread across the five geographical regions of the country viz. North, West, South, East and North-east.
Indo-Italy Scientific and Technological Cooperation Re-Launched
(Topic: Science and Technology)
About- Indo-Italian Joint Committee established under the Scientific and Technological Cooperation Agreement re-launches cooperation in the sectors of science, technology and innovation. The original agreement was signed between Italy and India in 2003.
Aim- Facilitating the mobility of researchers who will be jointly selected and co-financed within the framework of the 2017-2019 Indo-Italy Executive Programme of Scientific and Technological Cooperation.
Areas covered- Information and Communication Technology, energy, environment and sustainable agriculture, health care, biotechnology and medicine, nanotechnology and advanced materials, physics and astrophysics and technology applied to the cultural and natural heritage, are the areas agreed upon by the two countries for joint projects.
Committee expressed appreciation for the launch of the next phase of cooperation established between Italian and Indian researchers in the India-Trento Programme for Advanced Research (ITPAR).
- Inaugurate two Indian experimental beam lines at the Synchrotron facility in Trieste for the ELETTRA ‘XRD2’ and ‘XPRESS’ accelerators which is funded by DST at a cost of 6 million Euros.
- Discussed a new scientific and technological cooperation programme on applied science, aimed at developing technologies and processes to be applied in industry
- Joint workshops are to be alternatively held in Italy and India, starting from 2017. An Indo-Italian Innovation Forum will be established to promote and connect the world of research with the world of business and investment.
Sagarmala funds flagship project of Ro Pax Ferry Service in Gulf of Cambay, Gujarat
About- As part of promoting coastal shipping in the country under Sagarmala programme, the Ministry of Shipping has sanctioned the Capital Dredging Project for Ro Pax Ferry Services between Gogha & Dahej, in Gulf of Cambay in Gujarat. The total project cost is estimated to be Rs 234 Crore and of which 50% will be funded by Centre Government under the Sagarmala programme.
Project would result in-
- Reduction in motorable distance of 231 kms between Gogha & Dahej to mere 31 kms and reduce the travel time from 7 hours to 1 hour only by crossing the Gulf in Cambay in 17 Nautical Miles.
- Initiative would not only reduce the travel time but also result in savings in fuel, reduction in CO2 emission and reduction in road congestion.
- Project is first of its kinds in India as it will be executed in the area of World’s 2nd highest tidal range.
- It is one of the flagship projects under Sagarmala which aims to increase share of waterways transportation in modal mix to 10 per cent from present level of 7 per cent by year 2025.
- Project would open up new avenues in coastal shipping & tourism and help in socio-economic development of proximate areas.
- It would also help in utilisation of inland waterways through River Narmada for shipping goods from industries located upstream.