Press Information Bureau (PIB) IAS UPSC – 21st to 29th February, 2020
CCEA approves Creation of National Technical Textiles Mission
(Topic: Government Schemes)
To position the country as a global leader in Technical Textiles
Technical Textiles are futuristic and nice segment of textiles, which are used for various applications ranging from agriculture, roads, railway tracks, sportswear, health on one end to bullet proof jacket, fire proof jackets, high altitude combat gear and space applications on other end of spectrum.
Component -l (Research, Innovation and Development) with outlay of Rs. 1000 Crore. This component will promote both (i) fundamental research at fibre level aiming at path breaking technological products in Carbon Fibre, Aramid Fibre, Nylon Fibre, and Composites and (ii) application based research in geo-textiles, agro-textiles, medical textiles, mobile textiles and sports textiles and development of biodegradable technical textiles.
Component -II (Promotion and Market Development): Indian Technical Textiles segment is estimated at USD 16 Billion which is approximately 6% of the 250 Billion USD global technical textiles market. The penetration level of technical textiles is low in India varying between 5-10% against the level of 30-70% in developed countries. The Mission will aim at average growth rate of 15-20% per annum taking the level of domestic market size to 40-50 Billion USD by the year 2024; through market development, market promotion, international technical collaborations, investment promotions and ‘Make in India’ initiatives.
Component – III (Export Promotion): The component aims at export promotion of technical textiles enhancing from the current annual value of approximately Rs.14000 Crore to Rs.20000 Crore by 2021-22 and ensuring 10% average growth in exports per year upto 2023-24. An Export Promotion Council for Technical Textiles will be set up for effective coordination and promotion activities in the segment.
Component- IV (Education, Training, Skill Development): Education, skill development and adequacy of human resources in the country is not adequate to meet the technologically challenging and fast growing technical textiles segment. The Mission will promote technical education at higher engineering and technology levels related to technical textiles and its application areas covering engineering, medical, agriculture, aquaculture and dairy segments. Skill development will be promoted and adequate pool of highly skilled manpower resources will be created for meeting the need of relatively sophisticated technical textiles manufacturing units.
Amendments in Arms Act, 1959 and Arms Rules, 2016
(Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation)
Amended the provisions of the Arms Act, 1959 and the Arms Rules, 2016 to increase the number of firearms that can be kept by the shooters and enhanced the quantity of ammunition fixed for their practice for the year. These provisions shall greatly facilitate their shooting practice.
- As per the new rules, now International Medalists/Renowned Shooters are allowed to keep additional weapons up to a total of twelve under the exempted category, which earlier was seven.
- If a shooter is renowned in one event, he can keep maximum eight (previously it was four), if a shooter is renowned in two events he can keep maximum ten (previously it was seven) and if a shooter is renowned in more than two events, he can keep maximum twelve (previously it was seven) firearms under exempted category.
- The junior target shooter/ aspiring shooter are now allowed to possess two weapons (previously one) of any category in which the person is junior target shooter/aspiring shooter.
- This provision shall facilitate shooters in practicing with various types of firearms. Apart from the above exemptions, the shooters are entitled to possess two firearms as normal citizens under provisions of the Arms Act, 1959.
- Similarly, by amending the provision under Rule 40 of the Arms Rules, 2016 the quantity of ammunition that can be purchased by the shooters during the year for the practice has also been increased considerably.
Cabinet approves Issuance of an Order for adaptation of Central laws in the Union territory of the Jammu and Kashmir under section 96 of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019
- After coming into force of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019 the erstwhile State of Jammu & Kashmir has been reorganized into Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir and Union Territory of Ladakh
- All the Central Laws which are applicable to whole of India except the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir before appointed date i.e. 31.10.2019 are now applicable to Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir w.e.f. 31.10.2019. Further, it is necessary to adapt the Central Laws made under the Concurrent List, with required modifications and amendments, for ensuring administrative effectiveness and smooth transition with respect to the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir thereby removing any ambiguity in their application in line with the Constitution of India.
- As per section 96 of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019, the Central Government has powers to make adaptations and modifications of the laws, whether by way of repeal or amendment, as may be necessary or expedient for the purpose of facilitating the application of any law made before the appointed date till the expiration of one year from the appointed date in relation to the successor Union territories.
16th Session of the Joint Ministerial Commission between India and Australia
(Topic: India and its neighbouring countries)
- India and Australia agree to enhancing bilateral trade and investment through revival of the bilateral CECA negotiations, and harmonise standards and regulations on important products;
- Work on market access issues in both directions to increase trade;
- Work on mutual recognition of educational qualifications of the two countries;
- Continue collaboration to encourage increased direct flights between Australia and India.
Acknowledged the considerable growth in the India-Australia economic relationship in strategic, trade and people-to-people links since the last Joint Ministerial Commission in June 2018. Both sides welcomed efforts to elevate the bilateral economic relationship. Agreed to consider reviving the negotiations on the bilateral Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA). Agreed to take forward the issue of harmonising standards and regulatory barriers for products of interest to both sides, in parallel.
On two-way investment, both sides noted the visits by three delegations of Australian superannuation funds over the previous year. They agreed to continue to work together to foster awareness of the opportunities in India among Australian investors. Both sides reflected on the important role the private sector played in building the bilateral economic relationship.
India welcomed the Australia-India Business Exchange program, including the delegation of over 100 Australian businesses accompanying Minister Birmingham to India. The business delegation is exploring opportunities in education, food and health and beauty, resources, and infrastructure.
India raised the issue of taxing of off-shore income of Indian firms through the use of India-Australia Double Tax Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) and sought early resolution of the issue. Both sides agreed to intensify discussions.
Joint Statement: Vision and Principles for India-U.S. Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership
(Topic: India and other countries)
As the leaders of sovereign and vibrant democracies recognizing the importance of freedom, equal treatment of all citizens, human rights and a commitment to the rule of law, Prime Minister Modi and President Trump vowed to strengthen a India-U.S. Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership, anchored in mutual trust, shared interests, goodwill and robust engagement of their citizens.
Defence and security cooperation
- Pledged to deepen defence and security cooperation, especially through greater maritime and space domain awareness and information sharing; joint cooperation; exchange of military liaison personnel; advanced training and expanded exercises between all services and special forces; closer collaboration on co-development and co-production of advanced defence components, equipment and platforms; and partnership between their defence industries.
- Noting that a strong and capable Indian military supports peace, stability, and a rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific, and reaffirming his pledge to support the transfer to India of advanced U.S. military technology, President Trump welcomed India’s recent decision to procure MH-60R naval and AH-64E Apache helicopters. These capabilities will advance shared security interests, job growth and industrial cooperation between both countries.
- As India works to acquire new defence capabilities, President Trump reaffirmed India’s status as a Major Defense Partner according it the highest consideration for procurement and technology transfer purposes. The leaders looked forward to early conclusion of defence cooperation enabling agreements including Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement.
- Resolved to enhance security of their homelands through cooperation and to jointly fight international crimes like human trafficking, terrorism and violent extremism, drug-trafficking and crimes in cyberspace.
- Welcomed the decision by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and India’s Ministry of Home Affairs to reinvigorate the Homeland Security Dialogue. As a demonstration of their shared commitment to combatting the threat that illicit drugs pose to their citizens, they announced their intent to establish a new Counter-Narcotics Working Group between their respective law enforcement agencies.
Trade and investment:
- Recognized the increasing importance of the trade and investment dimension of the India-United States relationship, and the need for long-term trade stability that will benefit both the American and Indian economies.
- They agreed to promptly conclude the ongoing negotiations, which they hope can become phase one of a comprehensive bilateral trade agreement that reflects the true ambition and full potential of the bilateral commercial relations
- Welcomed growing links between India and the United States in trade and investment in hydrocarbons
- Through their Strategic Energy Partnership, India and the United States are seeking to enhance energy security, expand energy and innovation linkages across respective energy sectors, bolster strategic alignment, and facilitate increased engagement between industry and other stakeholders
- Noted the potential for the U.S. to meet India’s goal to diversify its import base for coking/metallurgical coal and natural gas, welcoming recent commercial arrangements intended to accelerate access to LNG in the Indian market
- Encouraged the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited and Westinghouse Electric Company to finalize the techno-commercial offer for the construction of six nuclear reactors in India at the earliest date
- Welcomed an endeavour by Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for development and launch in 2022 of a joint mission with the world’s first dual-frequency Synthetic Aperture Radar satellite, and applauded discussions that advance cooperation in Earth observation, Mars and planetary exploration, heliophysics, human spaceflight, and commercial space cooperation.
- Committed to continuing their successful efforts in the areas of prevention, early detection, and rapid outbreak response.
- They hailed a bilateral Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that seeks to promote access to high quality, safe, effective, and affordable medications for Indian and U.S. consumers.
- They welcomed the conclusion of an MoU which will help both countries address mental health challenges through innovative approaches.
India-Myanmar Joint Statement during the State Visit of the President of Myanmar to India
(Topic: India and its neighbouring countries)
- Emphasized that regular high level interactions have added momentum to the bilateral relations
- Welcomed the synergies between Myanmar’s independent, active and non-aligned foreign policy and India’s ‘Act East’ and ‘Neighbourhood First’ policies
- Reaffirmed their commitments to further strengthen partnership, explore new avenues of cooperation in order to expand bilateral relations for the mutual benefit of the two countries and peoples.
- Demarcation: Both sides reiterated their mutual respect for the already- demarcated portion of the boundary between the two countries and affirmed their commitments to settle pending issues through the existing bilateral mechanisms, such as the Joint Boundary Working Group Meeting.
- The two sides emphasized the centrality of connectivity in their relationship and reaffirmed their commitments to expedite the completion of the various India-funded projects presently underway in Myanmar, with Myanmar’s continued support and facilitation towards their execution.
- Welcoming the opening of the two land border crossing points at Tamu-Moreh and Rihkhawdar-Zowkhawthar as international border gates, they noted the need to further facilitate the easy movement of passenger and cargo traffic by streamlining procedures and expeditiously developing infrastructure.
- Both sides agreed to work together for the earliest commencement of the project.
- The two sides committed to the early conclusion of discussions on the pending bilateral Motor Vehicles Agreement to facilitate cross border movement of vehicles. In this context, both sides welcomed the MoU between their respective private operators to launch a Coordinated Bus Service between Imphal and Mandalay by 7 April 2020.
- Well-being of people: Both sides agreed to commence the establishment of the border haats, with a priority to carry out a pilot project, which was previously agreed by both sides in accordance with the MoU signed in 2012.
- Development Programmes: Both sides also expressed satisfaction at the success of the Myanmar-India Border Area Development Programmes in providing infrastructure and socio-economic development in Chin State and Naga Self-Administered Region through the Indian grant-in-aid projects. Under this, 43 schools, 18 health centres and 51 bridges and roads have been constructed in the above areas over the last three years. Both sides acknowledged with satisfaction that 29 additional projects under the 4th year’s tranche of assistance of US$ 5 million, will be implemented in 2020-21.
- Both leaders took note of the positive developments related to the Sittwe Port and the Kaladan Multi Modal Transit Transport Project. Once operational, this port will contribute to the economic development of the region and benefit the local people.
- Both sides also reaffirmed their commitment to the early completion of the Paletwa-Zorinpui road – the final leg of the Kaladan project. Once completed, the road will connect Sittwe Port to North-East India, generating more traffic for the Port.
- India appreciated Myanmar’s cooperation and efforts in facilitating the movement of project personnel, construction material and equipment for the construction of the road component of Kaladan Multi Modal Transit Transport Project across the Mizoram border through Zorinpui southwards towards Paletwa.
- The two leaders took positive note of the progress of work on Kalewa – Yargyi road section of the Trilateral Highway, the work on which is expected to be completed by 2021. India reiterated its commitment to the early upgradation of the 69 bridges on the trilateral highway, with Myanmar agreeing to facilitate this.
Education & Capacity Building
- Myanmar appreciated India’s assistance in the area of capacity building and training. Both sides agreed to jointly make flagship projects, such as Myanmar Institute of Information and Technology (MIIT) and Advanced Centre for Agricultural Research and Education (ACARE), sustainable on a long-term basis.
- Both leaders looked forward to the earliest upgradation of the Women’s Police Training Centre at Yamethin after finalization of modalities of the project.
- Both sides acknowledged the role which the Myanmar-India Industrial Training Centres at Pakokku and Myingyan, established with Indian grant assistance, are playing in imparting skills to Myanmar youth to enhance their employability. They noted efforts to build two new Centres at Monywa and Thaton which are progressing well.
- India reiterated its commitment to support Myanmar’s efforts for promoting peace, stability and the socioeconomic development in Rakhine State through the Rakhine State Development Programme.
- Myanmar appreciated India’s provision of 250 pre-fabricated houses and relief materials for displaced persons in northern Rakhine in 2019.
- Both sides agreed to expedite the implementation of a set of 12 projects under the second phase of the Rakhine State Development Programme and to further strengthen their development cooperation within the framework of High Impact Community Development Projects and Quick Impact Projects under the Mekong-Ganga Cooperation mechanism. In this regard, they welcomed the signing of the Agreement on Indian Grant Assistance for Implementation of Quick Impact Projects (QIP) during the State Visit.
- India reaffirmed its support for the recent steps taken by the Government of Myanmar to address the challenges in Northern Rakhine.
- India also expressed its support for the bilateral agreements signed between Myanmar and Bangladesh for the repatriation of the displaced persons from Rakhine State and hoped that Myanmar and Bangladesh would continue to work together for voluntary, sustainable and speedy repatriation of displaced people currently in the Cox Bazar area of Bangladesh to Myanmar in accordance with their bilateral agreements
Bilateral trade and economic engagement
- The two sides noted the need to make efforts to enhance bilateral trade and economic engagement to their full potential. They noted that steps such as improving connectivity, market access, easing financial transactions, facilitating business-to-business connect and enabling bilateral and regional trading agreements would contribute to socio-economic development of both sides.
- Both sides agreed to work together to enable the launch of India’s RuPay Card in Myanmar at the earliest, noting that National Payment Corporation of India (NPCI) needs to adhere to Myanmar laws and regulations and that the launch of RuPay Card would stimulate the economy of Myanmar and facilitate tourism and business from India.
- Agreed to explore the creation of an India-Myanmar digital payment gateway which would help expand options for cross border remittance between the two countries.
- Expressed interest in exploring a bilateral mechanism for settlement in local currency with the aim to boost cross border trade. In this regard, the two sides agreed to expeditiously convene the existing mechanism of India-Myanmar Joint Trade Committee meetings.
Both sides recognized the mutual benefit of greater integration in the energy sector between the two countries.
- India and Myanmar agreed to cooperate in the field of petroleum products, inter alia, for cooperation in refining, stockpiling, blending and retail through a Government-to-Government Memorandum of Understanding.
- Both sides agreed to encourage and facilitate cooperation among oil and gas companies of India and Myanmar for development of petroleum products, including enhancing trade and investments in this area.
- Both sides welcomed investments by Indian oil and gas Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) in Myanmar’s upstream sector and agreed that efforts would be made to explore opportunities to export to India a portion of the output from such projects where investments have been made by Indian oil and gas PSUs.
Defence and security
- Both sides reiterated that defence and security cooperation remains one of the key pillars of Myanmar-India bilateral relations. They commended the positive momentum in exchanging visits of defence personnel.
- MoU on Defence Cooperation, signed in July 2019, had set the path for closer cooperation.
- The Indian side reiterated its commitment to assist Myanmar in the capacity building of the Myanmar Defence Services and enhance cooperation to address mutual security concerns.
- Both sides reiterated their commitment to peace and stability along the border areas in order to promote the prosperity of the local people, the two countries and the region. They reiterated their commitment of not allowing any negative elements to use their respective soil for hostile activities against the other side.
- Welcomed the enhanced maritime cooperation between the two countries. They also recognized the importance of addressing maritime challenges and strengthening maritime security. Both leaders acknowledged the signing of an MoU on Maritime Security Cooperation (MSC), conduct of a first meeting of the Joint Working Group (JWG) in September 2019 and commencement of exchange of white shipping data, as important steps in the area.
- Emphasizing the importance of building a comprehensive legal framework for addressing mutual concerns on matters related to security, the two sides agreed to continue negotiations on various pending treaties such as a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty on Civil and Commercial Matters and the Extradition Treaty. They reiterated their commitment for an early conclusion of these. India welcomed the decision by Myanmar to extend Tourist Visa on Arrival for Indian citizens in Myanmar till December 2020.
The Myanmar side appreciated India’s offer of providing medical radiation equipment “Bhabhatron-2” for treatment of cancer patients. Both sides agreed to further strengthen cooperation in healthcare sector.
Peace and stability
- India reaffirmed its support for Myanmar’s efforts towards national reconciliation, peace process and democratic transition to establish a democratic federal union.
- The two sides expressed satisfaction over the various ongoing trainings , capacity building programmes, exposure visits and lecture series offered by India for Myanmar civil servants, sportsmen, parliamentarians, judicial and electoral officers and security personnel. India announced the extension of its National Knowledge Network (NKN) to Myanmar Universities.
- The Indian side also reiterated its readiness to support Myanmar in the establishment of the Myanmar Diplomatic Academy. Myanmar also noted with thanks India’s offer of providing technical assistance to the national ID project of Myanmar, based on India’s “Aadhar” project.
India also reaffirmed its support for Myanmar’s efforts toward national reconciliation and democratic transition to establish a democratic federal union. The Prime Minister of India expressed full support for Myanmar’s peace process, which is being pursued through a dialogue between the Government, Military and Ethnic Armed Groups under the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement framework. Both leaders underlined the importance of stability and peace in pursuing the shared national goal of development in the region.
- Recognizing the threat posed by terrorism, both sides agreed to cooperate in countering terrorist groups and their actions.
- Condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and emphasized the need for stronger international partnership in countering terrorism and violent extremism, including through increased sharing of information and intelligence. They agreed to enhance bilateral cooperation in this regard.
Further, the two sides agreed to
- Continue their close cooperation at international fora such as the United Nations (UN) and other international organizations
- Cooperate within other regional frameworks such as ASEAN, BIMSTEC, Mekong-Ganga Cooperation.
- Myanmar supported India’s efforts for becoming a permanent member in an expanded and reformed UNSC.
- The two sides reaffirmed their commitments to maintain a peaceful border and to promote the principles of openness, inclusiveness, transparency, respect for international law and ASEAN centrality in the Indo-Pacific region, which embraces all in a common pursuit of progress and prosperity.
- Myanmar committed to take necessary steps to ratify the amendment to the Framework Agreement of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) at an early date, as part of an effort to enable all UN Member States to join the ISA and advance cooperation in the field of solar energy.
- Further, India reiterated the relevance of the Coalition of Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) for disaster prone countries like India and Myanmar and encouraged Myanmar to consider joining the CDRI.
- India welcomed the inclusion of Bagan in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The two sides welcomed the commencement of a first phase of work by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to restore and conserve 12 pagodas under the first phase of a project to restore and conserve 92 earthquake-damaged pagodas in Bagan. Myanmar agreed to extend all necessary support to the ASI team, for undertaking this preservation work.
Biofuel from microorganisms
The biofuel sector could get a boost, with researchers at the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) developing a method to improve the growth rate and sugar content of a marine microorganism called Synechococcus sp. PCC 7002.
Most biotechnological processes, including biofuel production, are dependent on the availability of low-cost and sustainable supply of sugars and a nitrogen source. The sugars typically come from plants. Plants utilize light energy through the process of photosynthesis to convert carbon dioxide in the atmosphere into biological components such as sugars, proteins and lipids.
However, some bacteria, such as the cyanobacteria (also known as blue-green algae), too can perform photosynthesis and produce sugar by fixing the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The yield of sugars from cyanobacteria could potentially be much higher than that of land-based crops. Further, unlike plant-based sugars, cyanobacterial biomass provides a nitrogen source in the form of proteins.
Cyanobacteria are found in both fresh and marine waters. Using marine cyanobacteria could be better as freshwater is increasingly getting scarce. However, there is a need to significantly improve their growth rates and sugar content in order to improve the economic feasibility of marine cyanobacteria-based sugar production.
A team from International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology has achieved this.
- They have successfully engineered a marine cyanobacterium called Synechococcus sp. PCC 7002 which showed a higher growth rate and sugar (glycogen) content.
- When grown on air, the growth was doubled and the glycogen content of the cells increased by about 50%.
- Several follow-up studies related to this work including scaling up the cultures to larger volumes, growing cells on urea from human and animal urine, optimizing the extraction of sugars and proteins from the cyanobacterial biomass, and a proof-of-concept production of a biotechnological product such as bioethanol from the processed biomass are being conducted.
Diagnostics for Asymptomatic Malaria
(Topic: Technology in Health)
The fight against Malaria could get easier with a joint team of scientists from Department of Biotechnology’s Bhubaneswar-based Institute of Life Sciences (ILS) and Bengaluru-based Jigsaw Bio Solutions, coming up with a method that promises to overcome the problem of inadequate identification of asymptomatic carriers of the disease.
The need: Light microscopy and protein immunoassay-based rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) are used in the diagnosis of Malaria, in mass screening and treatment programs for the diseases, and in surveillance of malaria control measures. They, however, miss out about 30-50% of low-density infections, which typically have less than two parasites/microlitre and are frequently observed in asymptomatic carriers who serve as “silent” reservoirs of the infection capable of transmitting the disease through mosquitoes. Identification of asymptomatic carriers in the endemic areas is recognized as a major hurdle in malaria eradication programmes. New diagnostic methods with higher sensitivity are needed.
The new study
- Used a new concept of genome mining that identifies identical multi-repeat sequences (IMRS) distributed throughout the malaria parasite genome and successfully targeted them to develop what is called a “ultra-sensitive” qPCR assay for malaria diagnosis.
- Validation with clinical samples collected from malaria endemic regions in India showed that that assays were highly sensitive – about 20-100 times more than the traditional methods. They could detect submicroscopic samples. They were four to eight times better than other high-sensitive methods.
- Further, they were extremely specific for Plasmodium falciparum, which is the deadliest species of malaria parasite and did not cross-react with Plasmodium vivax species, which is the most frequent and widely distributed cause of recurring malaria, but far less virulent.
India has developed a National Framework for eliminating malaria by 2030 and to achieve this goal, identifying the asymptomatic carriers in the endemic areas and clearing their infections are very much important. The new finding could help in this.
Prelims oriented News
ASKDISHA: The ASKDISHA Chatbot was initially launched in English language but in order to further enhance the customer services rendered and to further strengthen the services of the chatbot, IRCTC has now powered voice enabled ASKDISHA to converse with customers in Hindi language also in the e-ticketing site.
SPICe+ web form: To offer 10 services by 3 Central Government Ministries/ Departments (Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Ministry of Labour & Department of Revenue in the Ministry of Finance) and One State Government (Maharashtra), thereby saving as many procedures, time and cost for Starting a Business in India and would be applicable for all new company incorporations.
Launch of Market Intelligence and Early Warning System (MIEWS) Portal: For monitoring prices of TOP Crops (Tomato, Onion and Potato) and generating alerts; MIEWS portal would help in planning and timely intervention for price stabilisation
1 Year of Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) Scheme
- To augment the income of the farmers by providing income support to all landholding farmers’ families across the country
- To enable them to take care of expenses related to agriculture and allied activities as well as domestic needs.
- Under the Scheme an amount of Rs.6000/- per year is transferred in three 4-monthly installments of Rs.2000/- directly into the bank accounts of the farmers, subject to certain exclusion criteria relating to higher income status.
Launch 10,000 Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs)
Nearly 86% of farmers are small and marginal with average land holdings in the country being less than 1.1 hectare. These small, marginal and landless farmers face tremendous challenges during agriculture production phase such as for access to technology, quality seed, fertilizers and pesticides including requisite finances. They also face tremendous challenges in marketing their produce due to lack of economic strength.
FPOs help in collectivization of such small, marginal and landless farmers in order to give them the collective strength to deal with such issues. Members of the FPO will manage their activities together in the organization to get better access to technology, input, finance and market for faster enhancement of their income.
4th anniversary cof Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Rurban Mission
Theme: ‘Aatma Gaon Ki, Suvidha Sheher Ki’
- Launched with the vision to deliver catalytic interventions to rural areas on the threshold of growth
- The objective is to develop the clusters in a holistic manner by providing all the basic amenities, infrastructure as well as economic development opportunities in an integrated and time bound manner.
India and Steel sector:
- With a large market, policy reforms, abundance of raw material, India is one of the most attractive global investment destinations in steel sector.
- The Japanese industry has been invited to invest in India and get into technology transfer partnerships in order to tap the opportunities arising out of growing steel demand and generate employment opportunities in the country.
- Steel is crucial to the development of any modern economy and is considered to be the backbone of industrial development
- Used in developing disaster resilient structures
The Organic Food Festival for Women Entrepreneurs
- An outcome of the MoU (which aims at building capacities of women entrepreneurs) signed between the Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MoFPI) and Ministry of Women and Child Development (M/o WCD)
- While other parts of world are making special efforts to turn towards organic production, India has natural advantages which must be leveraged.
- Training and capacity building of women entrepreneurs and SHGs is another key focus area and trainings on Post harvest management, product innovation, packaging and certification processes are being organized over the 3 days. The efforts are targeted towards helping producers understand importance of each step of the organic value chain and develop competence to cater to a broader consumer base.
- The overall effort is targeted towards strengthening ‘Organic’ Branding for India by enhancing direct linkage of local producers with Buyers, enhancing processing potential of organic output and contribute to India’s vision of enhancing export competitiveness and Create a direct impact to women farmer incomes and in turn empowerment.
- On the demand side, increasing disposable incomes, increasing awareness around health and wellness and increasing acceptability are driving the growth in the organic food segment which is expected to grow at a CAGR of 10% during the period 2016-21 as per WFI report.
First ever Khelo India University Games
- Being launched by the Government of India in association with the Government of the State of Odisha
- The largest ever competition held at university level in India and will have about 3500 athletes from over 150 universities across the country taking part in it.
- There will be a total of 17 sports namely archery, athletics, boxing, fencing, judo, swimming, weightlifting, wrestling, badminton, basketball, football, hockey, table tennis, tennis, volleyball, rugby and kabaddi. The attempt is to make the Khelo India University Games an aspirational competition for India’s youngsters with twin objectives of helping them find the balance between sport and education.
- Introduced to revive the sports culture in India at the grass-root level by building a strong framework for all sports played in the country and establish India as a great sporting nation.
RAISE 2020- ‘Responsible AI for Social Empowerment 2020’
- RAISE 2020 is India’s first Artificial Intelligence summit to be organized by the Government in partnership with Industry & Academia. The summit will be a global meeting of minds to exchange ideas and charter a course to use AI for social empowerment, inclusion and transformation in key areas like Healthcare, Agriculture, Education and Smart Mobility amongst other sectors.
- The event will start with a Startup Challenge – Pitchfest followed by the two-day summit, organized by Government of India along with Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology will witness robust participation from global industry leaders, key opinion makers, Government representatives and academia.
EASE 3.0, the Public Sector Bank (PSB) Reforms Agenda 2020-21 for smart, tech-enabled banking
Finance Minister Smt. Sitharaman exhorted Public Sector Banks (PSBs) to
- Have one-to-one interface with their customers through branch based banking and not rely so much on credit ratings agencies
- Connect with their customers by leveraging technology but not exclusively only through the interface of technology
- Focus more at the grassroot level
- Be friendlier to its customers by using local language in bank branch
A wide array of tech-enabled ease enhancements that PSBs would effect during FY2020-21:
- Dial-a-loan for doorstep loan facilitation
- Credit@click for end-to-end digitalised lending
- On-the-spot EASE Banking Outlets at well-frequented places like malls and stations
- Palm banking
- Digitalised branch experience
- Analytics-based instant credit offers
- Cash-flow-based credit
- Tech-enabled agriculture lending
Sagarmala port-led development
Vice President stressed upon the need to harness our vast coast for the sustainable growth and development of the country. Appreciating the contributions of India’s 7516 km long coast, its 12 major ports and 200 non-major ports to the nation’s growth story, he opined that India has an excellent opportunity for port-led development as ports were inevitable for exports and imports.
Initiated by the Government of India, it is the best step towards
- Creating green-field ports
- Modernizing the existing ports
- Empowering the coastal community by generating employment opportunities
Advised the ports to adopt best practices to effectively utilize their financial resources to derive maximum benefits: reduce logistics cost, dredging expenditure and also improve turnaround time. We need to create more trans-shipment hubs on either side of the coasts.
Describing community coastal community development as an essential component of port-led development, the Vice President asked all administrators and managers to concentrate more on CSR activities and take care of local communities by providing skills to local youth so that they grab employment opportunities.
Personality in news
An astute politician wedded to Gandhian Principles, Freedom fighter and an administrator par excellence
An Indian independence activist and served between 1977 and 1979 as the 4th Prime Minister of India and led the government formed by the Janata Party. During his long career in politics, he held many important posts in government such as Chief Minister of Bombay State, Home Minister, Finance Minister and 2nd Deputy Prime Minister of India. He is the oldest person to hold the office of prime minister, at the age of 84, in the history of Indian politics.
Journey to PM
- Following the passing of Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, Desai was a strong contender for the position of Prime Minister, only to be defeated by Indira Gandhi in 1966.
- He was appointed as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance in Indira Gandhi’s cabinet, until 1969.
- He resigned from the Congress during the split of 1969, and joined the INC (O).
- After the controversial emergency was lifted in 1977, the political parties of the opposition fought together against the Congress, under the umbrella of the Janata Party, and won the 1977 election.
- Desai was elected Prime Minister, and became the first non-Congress Prime Minister of India.
- Holds international fame for his peace activism and created efforts to initiate peace between two rival South Asian states, Pakistan and India
- After India’s first nuclear test in 1974, Desai helped restore friendly relations with China and Pakistan, and vowed to avoid armed conflict such as Indo-Pakistani war of 1971.
- He was honoured with the highest civilian award of Pakistan, the Nishan-e-Pakistan on 19 May 1990.
- Internationally, he reaffirmed India’s stand that it would not manufacture nuclear weapons and would refrain from conducting even peaceful nuclear explosions.
- In 1977, the Carter administration offered to sell heavy water and uranium to India for its nuclear reactors but required American on-site inspection of nuclear materials. Desai declined, seeing the American stance as contradictory, in light of its own nuclear arsenal.
- Improvement in Bilateral relations between India and Pakistan: Between 1978 and 1980, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, then the Minister of External Affairs, travelled to Islamabad to improve people-to-people contact, and a direct train line from Delhi to Lahore was established. The bilateral relations did improve.
Desai, a longtime practitioner of ‘urine therapy’, spoke in 1978 to Dan Rather on 60 Minutes about the benefits of drinking urine. The prime minister stated that urine therapy was the perfect medical solution for the millions of Indians who cannot afford medical treatment. He also attributed his longevity to drinking urine – which he called “the water of life”.
The man who taught the world- “All good things are difficult to achieve; all bad things are very easy to get.”
The President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind
Judiciary and the Changing World
- In a way, change is the only constant, and the world has always been changing. In recent years, however, the world has been changing very fast, and in unforeseeable ways. The role of the judiciary is bound to be pivotal amid these dramatic transformations.
- Gender Justice, Contemporary Perspectives on Protection of Constitutional Values, Dynamic Interpretations of the Constitution in a Changing World, Harmonisation of Environment Protection vis-à-vis Sustainable Development and Protection of Right to Privacy in the Internet Age are issues that influence every member of the global community. These five distinctly defined topics cover the matrix of challenges faced by the judiciary across the world
- The Supreme Court of India deserves admiration for carrying out many radical reforms that made justice more accessible to common people. Landmark judgements passed by this Court have strengthened the legal and constitutional framework of our country. Its bench and bar are known for their legal scholarship and intellectual wisdom. What it has achieved is nothing less than a silent revolution in diagnosing and correcting the afflictions that adversely affected the justice delivery system.
The Vice President of India, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu
Calls for cultural renaissance
- Stresses the need to pass on our age-old wisdom and knowledge to future generations
- Askes everyone to practice Yoga for health, inner peace and self-control
- Asks youth to fight against the evils of corruption, casteism, illiteracy and poverty
- Yoga is an art and science and should not be viewed from any political or religious prism.
Link employment with local languages
- Urged the Union and State governments to mandatorily link employment upto a level with the local languages to promote the use of mother tongues in the country
- There is a need to promote the use of Indian languages in the administration. This will not only bring the administration closer to the people but also help in preservation of our rich linguistic heritage.
- Education should focus on overall development of the students by imparting morals, ethics and age old civilizational values of the country. A teacher has prominent role after parents in shaping the life of a student.
- Exhorted the youth to develop 4Cs – Character, Capacity, Conduct and Caliber, and asked them to be hardworking and disciplined to achieve success in life.
Violence not acceptable in a democracy
- Calls for an education system based on India’s values, ethics and rich history
- CAA pertains to persecuted refugees from neighbouring countries; it has nothing to do with Indian citizens
- Dissent is essential in a democracy but not disintegration
- Asked the youth to shun negativism and adopt a constructive and positive approach towards life and strive to make India Vishwaguru once again.
- Debate and discussion are internalised in India’s social psyche to arrive at truth since time immemorial. There is no doubt that perception of truth is conditioned by circumstances. The conditions that cloud the truth’s positions are effectively dispelled by a contestation of ideas through debate, discussion and scientific temper. Prejudices and violence vitiate the search for truth.
- Sometimes, dogmas and personal prejudices distort the truth. In the 150th year of Gandhiji’s birth, let us ponder upon this question: will it not be proper to pursue truth itself as the ideology? Gandhiji has shown us the path by walking ceaselessly in search of truth which would ultimately encompass every positive attribute that enriches the universe.
- The internet and social media have democratized journalism and revitalized democracy. This process is ongoing, but in its current stage, it has also led to many anxieties. The new media is fast and popular and people can choose what they want to watch, hear or read. But only the traditional media has, over years, developed skills to authenticate a news report, and that is a costly operation. He expressed hope that we would arrive at the ideal trade-off soon.
- He said that in the meanwhile, the traditional media would have to introspect on its role in society and find ways to earn the reader’s full trust again. The project of democracy is incomplete without informed citizens – which means, without unbiased journalism.
New innovations and ideas to find solutions to the challenges faced by the Indian farmers
- There has to be a meeting of minds between scientists, researchers, Krishi Vigyan Kendras and farmers, who are the main stakeholders, to adopt best practices and make agriculture remunerative.
- Miracles can be created if farmer’s knowledge relating to the field and the research of the scientist are brought together. He suggested to the students studying agriculture to spend half of their time in classrooms and the rest with farmers to gain first hand practical knowledge and acquaint themselves with the problems of the farmers.
- Called upon the agriculture universities to focus on developing new varieties including the pest resistant and climate smart variants, apart from enhancing the productivity levels. Calling for collective efforts to achieve self-sufficiency in food production, he said that a country like India should not depend on imported food security.
- Some long term solutions: quality power supply, development of rural infrastructure including godowns, cold storage facilities, refrigerator vans apart from ensuring quality inputs and timely and adequate credit to the farmers.
- Urged all entrepreneurs to evolve effective models in the food processing sector after consulting the scientific community, experts and farmers.
Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh
On Balakot airstrikes
- The surgical strike of 2016 and Balakot airstrikes of 2019 were not just military strikes but a strong message to the adversary that terror infrastructure across the border cannot be used as safe haven to wage low-cost war against India.
- India’s out-of-the-box response reflected in the Balakot airstrikes forced the rewriting of many doctrines across the LoC and the responses displayed India’s defence capability and affirmed its right to defend itself against terrorism.
- Described Balakot airstrikes as a singular event of military precision and impact, saying that it teaches the leadership to think strategic rather than tactical.
- Our approach to terrorism was and will remain a judicious combination of clinical military action and mature and responsible diplomatic outreach
- Stressing the importance of collective diplomatic and financial pressure to thwart cross-border terrorism, he said, “We have recently seen the impact of collective diplomatic and financial pressure on Pakistan. Terrorists like Hafiz Saeed who were treated like VIPs and heroes, have been put behind bars. We realise that this is not enough and unless Pakistan is made accountable, it will continue with its previous policy of duplicity and deceit. All attempts are being made to work in this direction.”
- Termed hybrid warfare a reality, saying that a mix of kinetic and non-kinetic tools is a genuine threat. There is a need to reorient the training of soldiers to meet the challenges posed by hybrid warfare, assuring Government support in this regard. Referring to various aspects of hybrid warfare, namely expanding battle space, time compression and technology infusion, he said, “In such a scenario, artificial intelligence, high-speed weapons and space-based sensors & tools will have a significant impact.” He stressed on the need to imbibe new technologies and use existing capabilities in innovative ways.
- Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat called for maintaining credible deterrence in land, air and at sea at all times, saying that the three Services must work together concurrently to deal with any potential threats. “Credible deterrence comes from the will of the military leadership and intent of the political class while taking tough decisions. This was amply shown after Kargil, Uri and Pulwama attacks,” he added.
Essay Topic: Schooling and skilling must go together