Centenary Celebrations of Women’s Indian Association
(Topic: Government Scheme and policies)
About: The President of India, Pranab Mukherjee inaugurated the Centenary Celebrations of Women’s Indian Association at Adyar, Chennai.
Highlights of speech
- No society can call itself civilized if it does not accord due value to its women and female children and guarantee their safety and security.
- Government schemes and programmes to promote gender justice can never succeed unless a deep commitment to basic human values is built into our very consciousness.
- Violence against women reflects violence in the hearts and minds of those that perpetrate these acts.
- The President remembered Annie Besant and Smt. Sarojini Naidu who had played a leading role in the foundation of the Indian Women’s Association.
- He said that role of Women’s Indian Association in the enactment and implementation of the Child Marriage Restraint Act – for raising the minimum age for marriage of women and the Sarada Bill – for abolishing the Devadasi system is well recognised.
- He said that he looks forward to more branches of the Women’s Indian Association taking up social causes with commitment and zeal to be the change they want to see. He expressed confidence that confident the Women’s Indian Association will continue to play a leading role in the realization of the collective aspirations of the women of India.
India-Canada Trade and Investment Relations
(Topic: International Relations)
About— The discussion focussed on expanding bilateral trade and investment between the Countries.
Highlights of agreement
- Agreed to expedite the conclusion of Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPPA) and Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA).
- The Canadian Trade Minister pointed out regarding the interest shown by Canadian Pension Funds in the Indian market and emphasised on the need for FIPA which will provide the required predictability and protection to investments.
- India has approved the model text as a template and the negotiation under FIPA should go forward in accordance with the model text. However, both sides should remain flexible to incorporate the essential elements of investment protection while negotiating the Agreement.
- India raised the issue of reforms in the Temporary Foreign Workers Programme (TWFP) which has been made more stringent by Canada and which adversely impacts the services trade from India.
- Recent initiative under the Global Skill Strategy Programme wherein the visa application for high skilled technicians, Professors, Researchers etc. will be disposed of within two weeks’ time. Similarly, for professionals visiting for less than a year, a fast track process is being set up which will be similar to a concierge service. This will be extended to companies invested in Canada on a priority basis.
Work on Shahpur Kandi Dam to Resume Soon
(Topic: Infrastructure Development)
About— In a major step towards utilization of India’s rights on Eastern rivers of Indus basin, States of J&K and Punjab reach an agreement to resume works on Shahpur Kandi Dam project in Pujab/ J&K.
- The construction of Shahpur Kandi project was taken up in May 1999 but later halted in 2014 due to dispute between Punjab and J&K. The project will continue to be implemented by the Government of Punjab.
- However, there will be a tripartite team headed by Member, CWC and consisting of Chief Engineers of two States to monitor the project as and when required but atleast once in three months to ensure that the construction is as per the agreement.
- The dam– it is located in Gurdaspur district of Punjab, will help in providing irrigation facility to 5000 hectares of land in Punjab and 32173 hectares in J&K besides generation of 206 MW power.
- It is tagged as National Project by centre.
- It will bear the balance costs on account of compensation for land acquisition in respect of Thein (Ranjit Sagar) Dam on Ravi River.
India and ADB sign $375 million in loans and grants for first phase of ECEC
(Topic: Infrastructure Development)
About: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of India signed here $375 million in loans and grants to develop 800-kilometer Visakhapatnam-Chennai Industrial Corridor, which is the First Phase of a planned 2,500–kilometer long East Coast Economic Corridor (ECEC). The Corridor is expected to spur development on India’s eastern coast in line with the Government of India’s Make in India policy to stimulate manufacturing, and Act East policy to integrate the Indian economy with Asia’s dynamic global production networks.
Importance of ECEC
- The project is an important milestone in the process of developing the corridor and realizing the objectives of Make in India.
- Enhance industrial growth and create high-quality jobs
- Along with the ADB loans, agreement was also signed for a $5 million grant from the multi-donor Urban Climate Change Resilience Trust Fund that is managed by ADB to build climate change resilient infrastructure.
- The Government of India will provide extra funding of $215 million to the $846 million project.
MoU between India and the United Nations Entity of Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women (UN-Women)
(Topic: Welfare Schemes)
About: he MoU seeks to provide technical support to the Ministry of Panchayati Raj in strengthening capacities of governance institutions including Panchayati Raj Institutions(PRIs) to better leverage opportunities created for gender equality through legislation, policies and programmes.
- MoPR and Un-Women have worked in collaboration with each other to promote participation of women in Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs).
- The parties agree that engendering the initiatives of MoPR, including capacity development efforts, will be of mutual benefit, and will further their shared mission of good governance, gender equality and women’s empowerment.
- The proposed MoU will facilitate the achievement of time-bound results within the broader framework for cooperation under the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF).
- Activities done at sub-district level in 6 states: Andhra Pradesh, Telengana, Odisha, Karnataka, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.
International Smart Grid Action Network (ISGAN)
(Topic: Infrastructure Development)
About— The Ministry of Power, Government of India is hosting the 13th Executive Committee (ExCo) Meeting of the International Smart Grid Action Network (ISGAN) at POWERGRID Corporate Center, Gurugram. This is the first ever Executive Committee Meeting of ISGAN being held in India. A total of 36 representatives from 18 countries namely Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, Norway, Russia, South Africa, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, US and UAE are participating in this event.
- ISGAN is an agreement under International Energy Agency (IEA) and consists of representatives from 25 countries across the globe.
- India is one of the founding Member of ISGAN and Joint Secretary (Distribution), Ministry of Power, is the member representative of India.
- ISGAN creates a mechanism for multilateral government-to-government collaboration to advance the development and deployment of smarter electric grid technologies, practices and systems. What: In a major step today towards utilization of India’s rights on Eastern rivers of.
Kamaladevi Chattopadhya National Awards
(Topic: Women and Children Development)
About: It is a new category of awards specially for women handloom weavers and women handicraft artisans. It has been noted that only one woman weaver has so far received Sant Kabir award. So, this award is to recognise the contribution of women weavers in India.
Sant Kabir Award
- conferred to outstanding weavers who have made valuable contribution in keeping alive the handloom heritage
- The award was christened in the memory of sant Kabir, a 15th-century mystic poet and sant of India.
- Introduced in 1965
- She was a social reformer and freedom fighter.
- She is most remembered for her contribution to the Indian independence movement; for being the driving force behind the renaissance of Indian handicrafts, handlooms, and theatre in independent India.
- She was also the first woman to run for a Legislative seat in India.
- Several cultural institutions in India today exist because of her vision, including
- National School of Drama
- Sangeet Natak Akademi
- Central Cottage Industries Emporium
- Crafts Council of India.
National campaign launched to eliminate thigh reeling
- thigh reeling of tasar silk is usually practiced by marginal women entrepreneurs, working every day in their homes during spare time
- It is highly exploitative and unhygienic practice.
- 30% of the tasar silk produced in India is through the practice of thigh reeling.
- To stop this practice, Ministry of Textiles is starting the distribution of woman-friendly Buniyaad Reeling Machines to woman silk reelers. The Ministry of Power, Government of India is hosting the 13th Executive.
Change in No-Detention Policy
(Topic: Women and Children Development)
About: Section 16 of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009 stipulates that ‘No child admitted in a school shall be held back in any class or expelled from school till the completion of elementary education’. Thus, the policy covers elementary stage of schooling covering classes 1 to 8.
In a resolution adopted in meeting of the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) in 2012, a Sub-Committee was constituted for assessment of implementation of Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) in the context of No-Detention provision in the RTE Act, 2009.
After consultation with states, 23 states have suggested modification to the No Detention policy.
Another sub-committee was constituted to review the feedback received from States/UTs on the ‘No-Detention’ policy. The recommendations of the Committee are as under:
- There should be an examination at Class 5. It should be left to the States and UTs to decide whether this exam will be at the school, block, District or State Level.
- If a child fails then allow the child an opportunity to improve. There should be additional instruction provided to children and the child should be given an opportunity to sit for another exam. If the child is unable to pass the exam in the second chance, then detain the child.
- At Classes 6 and 7, there should be a school based exam for students.
- At Class 8, there should be an external exam. In case the child fails, the child should be given additional instruction and then appear for an improvement exam. If fails again then detain.
Maternity Benefits (Amendment) Bill, 2016
(Topic: Women and Children Development)
About: The Lok Sabha has passed the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016. It had been already passed by the Rajya Sabha during the Winter Session. With this, the Bill stands passed in the Parliament.
The Bill seeks to amend the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 to provide for the following:-
- Maternity leave increased from 12 weeks to 26 weeks for the first two children.
- Maternity leave for children beyond the first two will continue to be 12 weeks.
- Maternity leave of 12 weeks to be available to mothers adopting a child below the age of three months as well as to the “commissioning mothers”. (commissioning mother= biological mother who uses her egg to create an embryo planted in any other woman.)
- Every establishment with more than 50 employees to provide for crèche facilities for working mothers. Such mothers permitted to make four visits during working hours to look after and feed the child.
- The employer may permit a woman to work from home if it is possible
- Every establishment will be required to make these benefits available to the women from the time of her appointment.
The Maternity Benefits (Amendment) Act, 2016 will come into the force only after the President’s assent.
National Plan of Action for Children, 2016
(Topic: Women and Children Development)
About: Ministry of Women and Child Development released National Plan of Action for Children (NPAC), 2016
It has four key priority areas of child rights
- Survival, health and nutrition
- Education and development
It takes a sustainable, multi-sectoral, integrated and inclusive approach and focuses on strengthening the initiatives so that they are able to protect the rights of the children.
The plan also highlights new and emerging concerns for children such as online child abuse, children affected by natural and man-made disasters and climate change, etc.
(Topic: Issues related to health)
About: The international conference on the VISION ZERO and its relevance to Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) is being organised.
The conference aims to focus on the Occupational Safety and Health issues and challenges in the Manufacturing, Construction and Mining sector.
The conference is expected to introduce the fast emerging internationally accepted concept of ‘Vision Zero’ in India thereby leveraging the efforts of the Government of India to raise the occupational safety and health standards in the country.
Initiatives under the Family Planning Programme
(Topic: Welfare schemes)
About: Family Planning has been a key priority area of the Government and it has been vigorously pursued through the National Rural Health Mission launched in the year 2005 in line with the policy framework for population stabilization as envisaged in the National Population Policy, 2000.
Objective of National Population Policy, 2000– address the unmet needs for contraception and achieving a stable population by 2045
- Total Fertility Rate (TFR) has declined from 2.7 in 2006 to 2.2 in 2016 (NFHS- IV)
- decadal growth rate has declined from 21.54 % in 1990-2000 to 17.64 % during 2001-11
- Crude Birth Rate has declined from 23.8 in 2005 to 20.8 (SRS 2015)
- 24 states/UTs have already achieved the replacement level TFR of 2.1 or less out of 36 states/UTs.
Some of New interventions under Family Planning
- Mission Parivar Vikas– increasing the access to contraceptives and family planning services in the high fertility districts of seven high focus states with TFR of 3 and above.
- New Contraceptive Choices– Include new contraceptives viz. Injectable contraceptive, Centchroman and Progrsterone Only Pills (POP)
- Redesigned Contraceptive Packaging– packaging for Condoms, OCPs and ECPs has now been improved and redesigned so as to influence the demand for these commodities
- New Family Planning Media Campaign: A360 degree media campaign has been launched to generate contraceptive demand.
- Emphasis on Postpartum Family Planning (PPFP) services
- Appointment of dedicated RMNCH+A counsellors at high case load facilities
Strategies Adopted By Jansankhya Sthirata Kosh/National Population Stabilization Fund for Population Control:
- Prerna Strategy: JSK has launched this strategy for helping to push up the age of marriage of girls and delay in first child and spacing in second child birth in the interest of health of young mothers and infants.
- Santushti Strategy: Jansankhya Sthirata Kosh, invites private sector gynaecologists and vasectomy surgeons to conduct sterilization operations in Public Private Partnership mode.
- National Helpline: JSK is also running a call centers for providing free advice on reproductive health, family planning, maternal health and child health etc.
Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan (PMSMA)
(Topic: Issues related to health)
About: Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan (PMSMA) has been launched by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW), Government of India in 2016.
At present under PMSMA, ante-natal care (ANC) services are provided by OBGY specialists/ Radiologist/ Physicians including private sector volunteers only at government health facilities.
There is no proposal to implement it in private health facilities.
(Topic: Disaster management)
About: It is NDMA’s volunteer training programme which aims to train at least 200 volunteers at the district level across the country.
The need is to train volunteers right up to the village level and equipping them to act as first responders in the event of a disaster.
The capabilities of forces are not optimally utilised and thus they need to proactively engage with the local administration and help in strengthening the overall capacity of the first responders.
Training of Self-Organized Small & Medium Traders on Digital Payment Initiatives
(Topic: Science and Technology)
About: The objective of these training programmes is to understand and adopt simplified digital payment mechanisms like UPI, USSD, BBPS, AEPS etc. in a convenient manner, which would contribute towards establishing digital economy and convey the benefits of digital payments to traders through capacity building programs.
- About 13500 small and medium unorganized / self organized businesses/ traders are targeted.
- The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) shall be mobilizing traders and trade union leaders for training on digital payment initiatives.
- Under this programme, NIELIT shall be organizing 5 Regional Workshops at Delhi, Jaipur, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai and 30 State Workshops and 100 DigiDhan Camps, all over India.
Goods and Services Tax GST) Council approves the Central Goods and Services Tax (CGST) Bill and the Integrated Goods and Services Tax (IGST) Bill
(Topic: Economic Policies)
About: The clearance of the bill clears the deck for the Central Government to take these two Bills to the Parliament for their passage in the ongoing Budget Session.
Some main features are
- A State-wise single registration for a taxpayer for filing returns, paying taxes and to fulfil other compliance requirements.
- A taxpayer has to file one single return state-wise to report all his supplies, whether made within or outside the State or exported out of the country and pay the applicable taxes on them. Such taxes can be CGST, SGST, UTGST or IGST
- A business entity with an annual turnover of upto Rs. 20 lakhs would not be required to take registration in the GST regime, unless he voluntarily chooses to do so.
- A business entity with turnover upto Rs. 50 lakhs can avail the benefit of a composition scheme under which it has to pay a much lower rate of tax and has to fulfil very minimal compliance requirements. The Composition Scheme is available for all traders, select manufacturing sectors and for restaurants in the services sector.
- To prevent cascading of taxes, ITC would be admissible on all goods and services used in the course or furtherance of business, except on a few items
- In order to ensure a single administrative interface for taxpayers, a provision has been made to authorise officers of the tax administrations of the Centre and the States to exercise the powers conferred under all Acts.
- An agriculturist, to the extent of supply of produce out of cultivation of land, would not be liable to take registration in the GST regime.
- To provide certainty in tax matters, a provision has been made for an Advance Ruling Authority.
- Exhaustive provisions for Appellate mechanism have been made.
- An anti-profiteering provision has been incorporated to ensure that the reduction of tax incidence is passed on to the consumers.
- In order to mitigate any financial hardship being suffered by a taxpayer, Commissioner has been empowered to allow payment of taxes in instalments.
Cabinet approves India’s accession to the Customs Convention on International Transport of Goods under cover of TIR Carnets (TIR Convention)
(Topic: International Trade Relations)
- TIR Convention 1975 is an international transit system under the auspices of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).
- It facilitates the seamless movement of goods within and amongst the Parties to the Convention.
- At present there are 70 parties to the Convention, including the European Union.
- India has been approved to join TIR Convention by Cabinet headed by PM.
- The Convention will help Indian traders to have access to fast, easy, reliable and hassle free international system for movement of goods by road or multi- modal means across the territories of other contracting parties
- As the TIR Carnet represents a guarantee for Customs duties and taxes and traffic in transit, there is no need for payment of such taxes and duties en route.
- The TIR Convention can be an instrument for movement of goods along the International “North-South” Transport (INSTC) Corridor and would be helpful in boosting trade with the Central Asian Republics and other Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), particularly using ports in Iran like the Chabahar port.
Trade Mark Rules, 2017
About: They replace erstwhile Trade Mark Rules 2002.
Salient features are:
- Number of Trade Mark (TM) Forms have been reduced from 74 to 8.
- determination of well-known trademarks have been laid out
- Hearing through video conferencing has been introduced
- The provisions relating to expedited processing of an application for registration of a trade mark have been extended right upto registration stage (hitherto, it was only upto examination stage).
- Number of adjournments in opposition proceedings has been restricted to a maximum of two by for online filing has been kept at 10% lower than that for physical filing.
- Modalities for each party, which will help dispose off matters in time.
The examination time for a TM application has already been brought down from 13 months to just 1 month in January 2017
The new Rules should give a boost to the Intellectual Property Regime in India.
TIR Convention 1975 is an international transit system under the auspices of the
India Shifts to OALP to boost oil output
Open Acreage Licensing Policy
- It allows a company to select their own exploration block, without waiting for the formal bid round.
- It will work under Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP) that will give investors much freedom n pricing and marketing of crude oil and natural gas.
- National Data Repository will be opened up, which will have seismic data, among other details.
- Details of Indian sedimentary basins, gridded into sectors and divided into zones with the corresponding data will be made available for interested parties.
- The new policy is part of the strategy to double India’s existing oil production from current 80 million tonnes to about 150-155 million tonnes by 2022
- India has 26 sedimentary basins.
- Major highlights of HELP will be its revenue sharing model, low royalty rates nd 100 percent FDI option.
‘Make in India-Make in Steel’ initiative
(Topic: Growth and Development)
About: Unique qualities of steel– life cycle cost, recyclability, reusability, strength and durability. Steel structures have a longer life span, are low on maintenance and provide smart solutions as well.
The secondary steel industry in Northern states use scrap intensive steel making thus reducing coking coal dependence and also is cost effective.
Domestic steel industry, which contributes 2% to the GDP, has huge potential, but there is need for diversification and innovation to generate demand in the steel industry. The Indian steel industry has to become highly competitive and it has to benchmark the parameters for becoming a world-class steel producer.
Arsenic problem in ground water and its remediation
About: High value of arsenic in groundwater is geogenic in nature, i.e. caused by natural geologic processes.
Arsenic-containing groundwater in Ganga River basin is hosted by the sediments deposited by the rivers during the late Quaternary or Holocene age (<12 thousand years).
But as a large population is dependent on groundwater resources for drinking purposes in Ganga basin and is under the risk of health hazards, it becomes emergent to go for mitigation measures as well as alternate sources of water so that locals can be protected from negative impact of arsenic in groundwater.
Technical options to combat arsenic menace in groundwater are
- In-situ remediation of arsenic from aquifer system
- Ex-situ remediation of arsenic from tapped groundwater by arsenic removal technologies
- Use of surface water source as an alternative to the contaminated groundwater source
- Tapping alternate safe aquifers for supply of arsenic free groundwater
- Combination of above techniques
Out of the above options, arsenic removal technologies and ex-situ treatment technique are being practiced widely.
Web Portal for obtaining CRZ Clearances
About: http://environmentclearance.nic.in/ is a web-based system for obtaining clearances required from the Ministry under the “Coastal Regulation Zone” (CRZ) by the Project Proponents
- The system will enable the Project proponents and the concerned State/Union Territory bodies like the State Coastal Zone Management Authorities (SCZMAs) and Municipal/Town Planning agencies in tracking the status of their proposals.
- User friendly as it enables submission of applications for CRZ clearance in a single-window interface and facilitates quick flow of information related to CRZ clearances. It also aims to enhance efficiency, transparency and accountability in the process of CRZ clearances.
- There are other initiatives underway, like the notification of High Tide Line/Low Tide Line (HTL/LTL), ecologically sensitive areas falling under CRZ-1, hazard line etc. All these steps are aimed at minimising discretions and enhancing accountability at all levels.
Sagar Parikrama Project
(Topic: Science and Technology)
- Launched in 2007 to inspire the youths of India to develop an understanding of the sea and a sense of adventure and spirit.
- To instill in the young officers of the Navy a sense of national pride and achievement through a successful solo-circumnavigation voyage.
- The objective of the Sagar parikrama I was solo-circumnavigation of the Globe in a sailboat. This was successfully accomplished in 2009-10 by a Naval Officer.
After the success of ‘Sagar Parikarma I’, in 2012-13, ‘Sagar Parikarma II’ was undertaken with a solo ‘non-stop’ circumnavigation by another Naval Officer.