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PRESS INFORMATION BUREAU (PIB) IAS UPSC – 14th September to 20th September – 2020

  • IASbaba
  • September 23, 2020
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Press Information Bureau (PIB) IAS UPSC – 14th to 20th September, 2020

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GS-1

Ministry of Tourism has taken various steps to develop and promote Buddhist sites in India

(Topic: Culture)

Ministry of Tourism has undertaken development of tourism related infrastructure and facilities at various Buddhist Sites in the country under its flagships schemes of Swadesh Darshan & PRASHAD. Buddhist sites has been identified as one of the 15 thematic circuits under the Swadesh Darshan Scheme. Ministry of Tourism has also identified Buddhist Sites at Bodhgaya, Ajanta & Ellora to be developed as Iconic Tourist Sites.

CNBs Signage have been installed in Chinese language at 5 below monuments in Uttar Pradesh:

  • Site and Stupa and monastery of the Sakyas Piprahwa- Lucknow Circle
  • Sravasti – Lucknow Circle
  • Ancient Buddhist site of Sarnath- Sarnath Circle
  • Chaukhandi Stupa – Sarnath Circle
  • Buddhist relics and Mahaparinirvana temple located at Kushinagar- Sarnath Circle.

The CNBs signage in Sinhali language at Sanchi monuments in Madhya Pradesh has also been installed.

Some important places – 

  • Sarnath– The Deer Park adjoining the Archaeological Complex at Sarnath that the Buddha is believed to have delivered his first sermon after he attained enlightenment under a Bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya.  The reason for choosing Sarnath was that the five men who had accompanied Buddha on his journey of asceticism, and later abandoned him had settled in Sarnath.  So when Buddha attained enlightenment, he felt that they should be the first one to know what he learned.  So he proceeded to Sarnath and preached his first teachings known as Dharmachakrapravartana Sutra.
  • Rajgir-  It was the capital of Magadh Kingdom.  It was here that Gautama Buddha spent several months meditating, and preaching at Gridhra-kuta, (Vulture peak). He also delivered some of his famous sermons and initiated king Bimbisara of Magadha and countless others to Buddhism. It was here that Budhha delivered his famous Atanatiya Sutra.
  • Sravasti- It was the capital of ancient Kosala kingdom and is sacred to the Buddhists because it is here that Lord Buddha performed the greatest of his miracles to confound the Tirthika heretics. These miracles include Buddha creating multiple images of himself, which has been a favourite theme of Buddhist art. Buddha showed his divine prowess to impress upon the non-believers. The Buddha passed the greater part of his monastic life in Sravasti. 
  • Vulture peak– One of the several sites frequented by the Buddha and his community of disciples for both training and retreat.
  • Kesariya –  Kesariya Stupa is a Buddhist stupa in Kesariya, located at a distance of 110 kilometres  from Patna, in the Champaran (east) district of BiharIndia. The first construction of the Stupa is dated to the 3rd century BCE. Kesariya Stupa has a circumference of almost 400 feet (120 m) and raises to a height of about 104 feet.
  • Vaishali-  It is said that the Buddha visited this place thrice and spent quite a long time here. The Buddha also delivered his last sermon at Vaishali and announced his Nirvana here.
  • Kushinagar- It is one of the four sacred places of Lord Buddha. Buddha delivered his last sermon, attained Mahaparinirvana (salvation) in 483 BC and was cremated at Rambhar Stupa.

GS-2

Three bills aimed at transformation of agriculture and raising farmers’ income introduced

(Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors)

Three bills aimed at transformation of agriculture in the country and raising farmers’ income were introduced to replace ordinances promulgated on 5th June 2020–

  1. The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020
  2. The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020
  3. The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020

The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 seeks to provide for the creation of an ecosystem where the farmers and traders enjoy the freedom of choice relating to sale and purchase of farmers’ produce which facilitates remunerative prices through competitive alternative trading channels to promote efficient, transparent and barrier-free inter-State and intra-State trade and commerce of farmers’ produce outside physical premises of markets or deemed markets notified under various State agricultural produce market legislations; to provide a facilitative framework for electronic trading and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

The motive behind the Bill

  • Farmers in India suffered from various restrictions in marketing their produce. There were restrictions for farmers in selling agri-produce outside the notified APMC market yards. 
  • The farmers were also restricted to sell the produce only to registered licensees of the State Governments. Further, barriers existed in free flow of agriculture produce between various States owing to the prevalence of various APMC legislations enacted by the State Governments.
  • This legislation is a historic-step in unlocking the vastly regulated agriculture markets inthe country. It will open more choices for the farmer, reduce marketing costs for the farmers and help them in getting better prices. 
  • It will also help farmers of regions with surplus produce to get better prices andconsumers of regions with shortages, lower prices.

The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 seeks to provide for a national framework on farming agreements that protects and empowers farmers to engage with agri-business firms, processors, wholesalers, exporters or large retailers for farm services and sale of future farming produce at a mutually agreed remunerative price framework in a fair and transparent manner and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

The motive behind the Bill

  • Indian agriculture is characterized by fragmentation due to small holding sizes and has certain weaknesses such as weather dependence, production uncertainties and market unpredictability. This makes agriculture risky and inefficient in respect of both input & output management. 
  • This legislation will transfer the risk of market unpredictability from the farmer to the sponsor and also enable the farmer to access modern technology and better inputs. It will reduce cost of marketing and improve income of farmers. 
  • Farmers will engage in direct marketing thereby eliminating intermediaries resulting in full realization of price. Farmers have been provided adequate protection. 
  • Effective dispute resolution mechanism has been provided for with clear time lines for redressal.

The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020 seeks to remove commodities like cereals, pulses, oilseeds, edible oils, onion and potatoes from the list of essential commodities. This will remove fears of private investors of excessive regulatory interference in their business operations. The freedom to produce, hold, move, distribute and supply will lead to harnessing of economies of scale and attract private sector/foreign direct investment into agriculture sector.

The motive behind the Bill

  • While India has become surplus in most agri-commodities, farmers have been unable to get better prices due to lack of investment in cold storage, warehouses, processing and export as the entrepreneurial spirit gets dampened due to Essential Commodities Act. 
  • Farmers suffer huge losses when there are bumper harvests, especially of perishable commodities. 
  • The legislation will help drive upinvestment in cold storages and modernization of food supply chain. 
  • It will help both farmers and consumers while bringing in price stability. 
  • It will create competitive market environment and also prevent wastage of agri-produce that happens due to lack of storage facilities.

Policy initiatives to promote ‘Make in India’ in defence sector

(Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors)

A. ‘Negative list’ of 101 items: Ministry of Defence has prepared a ‘Negative list’ of 101 items for which there would be an embargo on the import beyond the timeline indicated against them. This is a big step towards self-reliance in defence. 

  • Offers a great opportunity to the Indian defence industry to rise to the occasion to manufacture the items in the negative list to meet the requirements of the Armed Forces in the coming years
  • This negative list comprises of not just simple parts but also some high technology weapon systems like artillery guns, assault rifles, corvettes, sonar systems, transport aircrafts, light combat helicopters (LCHs), radars and many other items to fulfil the needs of our Defence Services.

B. ‘Buy {Indian-IDDM (Indigenously Designed, Developed and Manufactured)}’: Introduced in Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP)-2016 to promote indigenous design and development of defence equipment. It has been accorded top most priority for procurement of capital equipment.

C. Simplified ‘Make’ Procedure of capital procurement: There is a provision for funding of 90% of development cost by the Government to Indian industry under Make-I category. In addition, there are specific reservations for MSMEs under the ‘Make’ procedure.

D. Separate procedure for ‘Make-II’ category (industry funded) has been notified under DPP to encourage indigenous development and manufacture of defence equipment. 

  • Relaxation of eligibility criterion,
  • Minimal documentation, 
  • Provision for considering proposals suggested by industry/individual etc.

E. An innovation ecosystem for Defence titled Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) has been launched. 

  • iDEX is aimed at creation of an ecosystem to foster innovation and technology development in Defence and Aerospace by engaging Industries including MSMEs, Start-ups, Individual Innovators, R&D institutes and Academia and provide them grants/funding and other support to carry out R&D which has potential for future adoption for Indian defence and aerospace needs. 
  • Under the iDEX scheme, a maximum of Rs 1.5 crore funding is available to a participant for development of a prototype.  

F. Establish two defence industrial corridors to serve as an engine of economic development and growth of defence industrial base in the country. They span across Chennai, Hosur, Coimbatore, Salem and Tiruchirappalli in Tamil Nadu and across Aligarh, Agra, Jhansi, Kanpur, Chitrakoot and Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh (UP).

  1. An indigenization portal namely SRIJAN DEFENCE has been launched to provide development support to MSMEs/Startups/Industry for import substitution.
  2. Defence EXIM portal has been created for enhancing ease of doing business and to streamline Export authorisation procedures.
  3. ‘Strategic Partnership (SP)’ Model envisages establishment of long-term strategic partnerships with Indian entities through a transparent and competitive process, wherein they would tie up with global Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to seek technology transfers to set up domestic manufacturing infrastructure and supply chains.
  4. ‘Policy for indigenisation of components and spares used in Defence Platforms’ to create an industry ecosystem which is able to indigenize the imported components (including alloys & special materials) and sub-assemblies for defence equipment and platform manufactured in India.
  5. FDI Policy has been revised in the year 2016 and accordingly, FDI is allowed under automatic route upto 49% and beyond 49% through Government route wherever it is likely to result in access to modern technology or for other reasons to be recorded. So far, FDI inflows of over Rs 3450 crores have been reported in Defence and Aerospace sector.
  6. Defence Investor Cell has been created to provide all necessary information including addressing queries related to investment opportunities, procedures and regulatory requirements for investment in the sector.
  7. Defence Products list requiring Industrial Licences has been rationalised and manufacture of most of parts or components does not require Industrial License.
  8. Government is taking measures for modernisation of Armed Forces, through procurement of new equipment and upgrading of existing equipment and systems.  The modernization projects are being progressed as per approved capital acquisition plan and in terms of extant Defence Procurement Procedure.

Steps taken by the Government to ensure quality education 

(Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors)

For vulnerable groups

  • Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs) ranked in top 100 NIRF or NAAC score of 3.26 can offer online programme without prior approval of UGC. Institutions with NAAC score of 3.01 to 3.25 can offer online programme with prior approval of UGC. 
  • For conventional courses, the online content has been increased from up to 20% to 40% in regular degree programmes.
  • DIKSHA the nation’s digital infrastructure for providing quality e-content for school education in states/UTs and QR coded Energized Textbooks for all grades (one nation, one digital platform)
  • Study materials have been provided on an experimental basis for 12 channels for classes 1 to 12 and actions are expedited to run these channels in a full-fledged manner.
  • Extensive use of Radio, Community radio and CBSE Podcast- ShikshaVani
  • Special e-content for visually and hearing impaired developed on Digitally Accessible Information System (DAISY) and in sign language on NIOS website/ YouTube.
  • Quality Online courses are provided through SWAYAM which is an indigenously developed MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course) platform. Since everyone does not have access to internet, under one of the flagship Initiatives,SWAYAM-Prabha, Ministry of Education is providing 34 educational TV channels covering educational contents for Schools and Higher Educational Institutions. Curriculum-based contents are telecast every day as per pre-defined schedule which can be accessed by students as per their convenience. There is a provision of one class, one channel for school education. 
  • PM eVIDYA has been initiated which unifies all efforts related to digital/online/on-air education to enable multi-mode access to education.

For rural children

  • SamagraShiksha – an Integrated Scheme for school education, which is an overarching programme for the school education sector extending from pre-school to class XII and aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education at all levels of school education.  
    • It envisages the ‘school’ as a continuum from pre-school, primary, upper primary, secondary to senior secondary levels
    • Subsumes the three erstwhile centrally sponsored schemes i.e. Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) and Teacher Education (TE).
    • Bridging gender and social category gaps at all levels of school education is one of the major objectives of the scheme. 
    • The scheme reaches out to girls and children belonging to Scheduled Caste (SC), Scheduled Tribe (ST), minority communities and transgender. 
    • The scheme also gives attention to urban deprived children, children affected by periodic migration and children living in remote and scattered habitations. 
    • Under the scheme, provision has been made for giving preference to Special Focus Districts (SFDs), Educationally Backward Blocks (EEBs), LWE affected districts, and aspirational districts while planning interventions like setting up of primary schools, upper primary schools, construction of additional classrooms, toilets, Kasturba Gandhi BalikaVidyalayas (KGBVs).
  • PM eVIDYA has been initiated which unifies all efforts related to digital/online/on-air education to enable multi-mode access to education. 
  • DIKSHA the nation’s digital infrastructure for providing quality e-content for school education in states/UTs:  and QR coded Energized Textbooks for all grades (one nation, one digital platform)
  • One earmarked TV channel in SWAYAM PRABHA per class from 1 to 12 (one class, one channel)
  • SWAYAM Portal, E-PATHASHALA, extensive use of Radio, Community radio and CBSE Podcast- ShikshaVani
  • Special e-content for visually and hearing impaired developed on Digitally Accessible Information System (DAISY) and in sign language on NIOS website/ YouTube

Highlights of New Education Policy-2020

  1. Ensuring Universal Access at All Levels of schooling from pre-primary school to Grade 12;
  2. Ensuring quality early childhood care and education for all children between 3-6 years;
  3. New Curricular and Pedagogical Structure (5+3+3+4);
  4. No hard separations between arts and sciences, between curricular and extra-curricular activities, between vocational and academic streams;
  5. Establishing National Mission on Foundational Literacy and Numeracy;
  6. Emphasis on promoting multilingualism and Indian languages; The medium of instruction until at least Grade 5, but preferably till Grade 8 and beyond, will be the home language/mother tongue/local language/regional language.
  7. Assessment reforms – Board Exams on up to two occasions during any given school year, one main examination and one for improvement, if desired;
  8. Setting up of a new National Assessment Centre, PARAKH (Performance Assessment, Review, and Analysis of Knowledge for Holistic Development);
  9. Equitable and inclusive education – Special emphasis given on Socially and Economically Disadvantaged Groups(SEDGs);
  10. A separate Gender Inclusion fund and Special Education Zones for disadvantaged regions and groups;
  11. Robust and transparent processes for recruitment of teachers and merit based performance;
  12. Ensuring availability of all resources through school complexes and clusters;
  13. Setting up of State School Standards Authority (SSSA);
  14. Exposure of vocational education  in school and higher education system;
  15. Increasing GER in higher education to 50%;
  16. Holistic Multidisciplinary Education with multiple entry/exit options;
  17. NTA to offer Common Entrance Exam for Admission to HEIs;
  18. Establishment of Academic Bank of Credit;
  19. Setting up of Multidisciplinary Education and Research Universities(MERUs);
  20. Setting up of National Research Foundation(NRF);
  21. ‘Light but Tight’ regulation;
  22. Single overarching umbrella body for promotion of higher education sector including teacher education and excluding medical and legal education- the Higher Education Commission of India (HECI)-with independent bodies for standard setting- the General Education Council; funding-Higher Education Grants Council (HEGC); accreditation- National Accreditation Council (NAC); and regulation- National Higher Education Regulatory Council (NHERC);
  23. Expansion of open and distance learning to increase GER.
  24. Internationalization of Education
  25. Professional Education will bean integral part of the higher education system. Stand-alone technical universities, health science universities, legal and agricultural universities, or institutions in these or other fields, will aim to become multi-disciplinary institutions.
  26. Teacher Education – 4-year integrated stage-specific, subject- specific Bachelor of Education
  27. Establishing a National Mission for Mentoring.
  28. Creation of an autonomous body,the National Educational Technology Forum (NETF) to provide a platform for the free exchange of ideas on the use of technology to enhance learning, assessment, planning, administration. Appropriate integration of technology into all levels of education.
  29. Achieving 100% youth and adult literacy.
  30. Multiple mechanisms with checks and balances will combat and stop the commercialization of higher education.
  31. All education institutions will be held to similar standards of audit and disclosure as a ‘not for-profit’ entity.
  32. The Centre and the States will work together to increase the public investment in Education sector to reach 6% of GDP at the earliest.
  33. Strengthening of the Central Advisory Board of Education to ensure coordination to bring overall focus on quality education.
  34. Ministry of Education: In order to bring the focus back on education and learning, it may be desirable to re-designate MHRD as the Ministry of Education (MoE).

Mission Karmayogi

(Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors)

1. PM led Human Resource Council

  • It will also include state Chief Ministers, Union Cabinet ministers and eminent national and global Academicians, thought leaders, Industry leaders
  • This council will approve and review civil service capacity building programmes.
  • Mandate of the Council includes:
  • Apex body driving & providing strategic direction to the Programme
  • Approves & Monitors Civil Service Capacity Building plan 
  • Reviews reports submitted by Capacity Building Commission

2. Cabinet Secretary Coordination Unit 

  • It comprises of select secretaries and cadre controlling authorities, headed by Cabinet Secretary
  • The primary function of this body is to monitor progress, and execution of plans. 

3. Capacity Building Commission: It will include experts in related fields and global professionals. The mandate of the commission are: 

  • To prepare annual Capacity building plans and seek approval from PM HR Council
  • Audit human resources available in the government.
  • Harmonize training standards and capacity building
  • Create shared faculty and resources
  • Supervisory role over all Central Training Institutions.
  • Set norms for common mid-career training programs
  • Undertake analysis of data from iGOT-Karmayogi
  • Prepare the Annual HR Report on health of Civil Services and Target Achievements 

4. Wholly owned Special Purpose Vehicle(SPV) 

  • Legal: Company under Section 8 (of Companies Act) with 100% Government ownership
  • Board of Directors: Representing all participating entities of the Programme
  • Revenue Model: Self sustaining – Annual Subscription fee of INR 431 per employee 

Key functions of SPV are:

  • Own and operate the online Platform, iGOT Karmayogi on behalf of Government
  • Operationalize a robust content ecosystem
  • Manage assessment & certification eco-system
  • Telemetry data based scoring – monitoring and evaluation
  • Feedback assessment – driven by Artificial Intelligence & evolvable and scalable platform
  • Curate & deliver programmes for capacity building of Civil Servants in other countries
  • The SPV will own all Intellectual Property Rights on behalf of the Government of India.

What is iGOT- Karmayogi platform?

  • The Karmyogi Programme will be delivered by setting up an Integrated Government Online Training (iGOT) Karmayogi Platform.
  • iGOT-Karmayogi is a continuous online training platform, which would allow all government servants from assistant secretary to secretary level to undergo continuous training, depending on their domain areas.
  • Courses from international universities will be made available on the platform for officers to take any time
  • The platform is expected to evolve into a vibrant and world-class market place for content where carefully curated and vetted digital e-learning material will be made available. 
  • Besides capacity building, service matters like confirmation after probation period, deployment, work assignment and notification of vacancies etc. would eventually be integrated with the proposed competency framework

Transparent Taxation – Honouring the Honest

(Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors)

The platform provides faceless assessmentfaceless appeal and a taxpayers’ charter.

Faceless Assessment:

  • Under faceless assessment, the scrutiny of returns of a taxpayer will be done by a tax officer selected at random and not necessarily from the same jurisdiction. 
  • This will do away the need for any face-to-face contact between the taxpayer and tax official, thereby reducing the chances of coercion and rent-seeking. 
  • The move is expected to ease the compliance burden for assessees and reward the “honest taxpayer”, who plays a big role in nation-building. 
  • A faceless tax system would give the taxpayer confidence on fairness and fearlessness. 
  • It helps to maintain the privacy and confidentiality of income taxpayers.
  • The assessment system seeks to eliminate corrupt practices by doing away with the territorial jurisdiction of income-tax offices.

Faceless appeal facility:

  • This facility would be available to all citizens from September 25 (Deen Dayal Upadhyaya’s birth anniversary)
  • A faceless appeal system would allow the taxpayer to appeal against a tax official’s decision without the need of making a physical representation.

Taxpayers’ charter

  • The taxpayers’ charter was announced in the Union Budget for fiscal year 2020-21 by the Finance Minister. 
  • The charter outlines the rights and duties of an honest taxpayer. 
  • It also defines the commitment of the tax department and the expectations from the taxpayers.
  • It is a step towards bringing together rights and duties of the taxpayer and fixing the government’s responsibilities towards the taxpayer

Development of Textile Parks

(Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors)

  • Knitting and Knitwear Sector: In order to boost production in knitting and knitwear clusters, Government has launched a separate scheme for development of Knitting and Knitwear Sectorto boost production in knitting and knitwear cluster at Ludhiana, Kolkata and Tirupur.
  • Government is implementing Amended Technology Up-gradation Fund Scheme (ATUFS) for technology up-gradation of the textile industry to incentivize production with an outlay of Rs.17,822 crore during 2016-2022. It is expected to attract investment of Rs.1 lakh crore and generate 35.62 lakhs employment in the textile sector by 2022.
  • Government has launched a special package of Rs.6000 crore in 2016 to boost investment, employment and exports in the garmenting and made-ups sector with the following components viz., (i) full refund is provided under Remission of State Levies (ROSL) to the exporters for the State level taxes; (ii) production linked additional incentive of 10% is provided under the Amended Technology Up-gradation Fund Scheme (ATUFS).
  • Scheme for Integrated Textile Park (SITP): Government of India grant with a ceiling limit of Rs. 40 crore for setting up textiles parks for creation of world class infrastructure facilities for setting up of textile units.
  • National Handloom Development Programme, Comprehensive Handloom Cluster Development Scheme, Handloom Weaver Comprehensive Welfare Scheme and Yarn Supply Schemes under which financial assistance is provided for raw material purchase, looms and accessories, design innovation, product diversification, infrastructure development, skill upgradation, marketing of handloom products & loans at concessional rate etc. for enhancing production and boost the textile sector.
  • National Handicrafts Development Programme (NHDP) and Comprehensive Handicraft Cluster Development Schemes aims at holistic development of handicrafts clusters through integrated approach by providing support on design, technology up-gradation, infrastructure development, market support etc.
  • PowerTex India: A comprehensive scheme for Powerloom sector with components relating to Powerloom up-gradation, infrastructure creation, concessional access to credit, etc.
  • Silk Samagra – An integrated Scheme for development of silk industry with components of research & development, transfer of technology, seed organization and coordination, market development, quality certification and export.
  • Jute ICARE for increasing the income of farmers by at least 50% through promotion of certified seeds, better agronomic practices, use of microbial reusing of Jute plant, retting to produce quality of jute, increase productivity and to reduce the cost of jute production for the jute farmers.
  • North East Region Textile Promotion Scheme (NERTPS) for promoting textiles industry in the NER by providing infrastructure, capacity building and marketing support to all segments of textile industry.

Initiatives for growth and development of MSME Sector

(Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors)

  • Prime Minister’s Employment Generation programme (PMEGP) is a credit-linked subsidy programme aimed at generating self-employment opportunities through establishment of micro-enterprises in the non-farm sector by helping traditional artisans and unemployed youth.
  • Scheme of Fund for Regeneration of Traditional Industries (SFURTI) under which assistance for replacement of obsolete equipments, setting up common facility centres, product development, market promotion and other support is provided in clusters of traditional industries including khadi industries.
  • A Scheme for Promoting Innovation, Rural Industry & Entrepreneurship (ASPIRE): To promote Innovation & Rural Entrepreneurship through rural Livelihood Business Incubator (LBI), Technology Business Incubator (TBI) and Fund of Funds for start-up creation in the agro-based industry.
  • Interest Subvention Scheme for Incremental Credit to MSMEs
  • Credit Guarantee Scheme for Micro and Small Enterprises: To facilitate easy flow of credit to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises
  • Micro and Small Enterprises Cluster Development Programme (MSE-CDP)
  • Credit Linked Capital Subsidy and Technology Upgradation Scheme (CLCS-TUS)

 

Recently, Post Covid-19, Government has taken a number of initiatives under Aatma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan to support the MSME Sector in the country especially in Covid-19 pandemic. Some of them are:

  1. Rs 20,000 crore Subordinate Debt for MSMEs.
  2. Rs. 3 lakh crores Collateral free Automatic Loans for business, including MSMEs.
  3. Rs. 50,000 crore equity infusion through MSME Fund of Funds.
  4. New revised criteria for classification of MSMEs.
  5. New Registration of MSMEs through ' Udyam Registration' for Ease of Doing Business.
  6. No global tenders for procurement up to Rs. 200 crores, this will help MSME.

An online Portal “Champions” was launched to cover many aspects of e-governance including grievance redressal and handholding of MSMEs. RBI has also announced several measures to Reduce Financial Stress of MSMEs.


Skill India Mission

(Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors)

Under Skill India Mission, Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship imparts employable skills to the youth through long term and short term training. 

  • Has led to creation of a vast infrastructure for skilling, reskilling and upskilling and enhancing opportunities to access employment both locally and globally. 
  • It has led to hundreds of PM Kaushal Kendras being set up across the country and increase in the capacity of the ITI ecosystem. Due to these concerted efforts, more than five crore youth have been skilled in the last five years.

A. Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY 2.0): Under PMKVY, a total of 92 lakhs candidates have been trained so far across 37 sectors in more than 250 job roles PMKVY is a flagship scheme under MSDE.

  • A special focus was placed on the agricultural sector and 3.42 lakh were trained in special farming. Some special projects were also taken up under which 5514 Jail Inmates and 5549 misguided youth were trained in Delhi.
  • PMKK: To improve the quality of short-term training, 720+ Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendras as Model Skill Centres were opened in 704 districts in India. These are based upon Aspiration, Quality and Self Sustainable principles.

B. Free Digital Learning Platform “Skills Build Reignite”: The Skills Build Reignite aims to provide job seekers and entrepreneurs, with access to free online coursework and mentoring support designed to help them reinvent their careers and businesses. Multifaceted digital skill training in the area of Cloud Computing and Artificial Intelligence (AI) is provided to students & trainers across the nation in the National Skill Training Institutes (NSTIs). 

C. YUKTI 2.0: The Ministry of Education has launched an initiative ‘YUKTI 2.0’ in June 2020 to help systematically assimilate technologies having commercial potential and information related to incubated start-ups in the higher education institutions.

D. International Collaboration: Minister for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship met officials from counterparts working in skill development across countries like Singapore, UAE, Japan, Canada, Australia  to further build capacity for skilled workforce in the country, jointly work on transnational standards and bridging demand for skilled workforce in these countries by collaborating with them and supplying them with trained professionals.

E. Increased participation in Apprenticeship Programmes: Various initiatives taken on the Apprenticeship intervention saw a 44% increase in enrolment of apprentices and 10% increase in establishments participating in apprenticeship training, as compared to FY 18-19. A total of 8.61 lakhs people have been engaged under National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme (NAPS) with around 85,000 establishments hiring the apprentices.

F. Jan ShikshanSansthan (JSS) Scheme: During the last financial year, a total of 4.10 lakhs beneficiaries trained under JSS Scheme as compared to 1.67 lakhs trained during 2018-19, 2.5 times increase over a period of six months.

G. eSkill India Platform:  NSDC created an e-Skill India, a multilingual e-learning aggregator portal, providing e-skilling opportunities to the Indian youth. eSkill India leverages the skilling opportunities from Indian and global leaders in online learning, by consolidating online courses curated by leading knowledge organizations that share NSDC’s commitment of making India a Skill Capital of the World. 

H. Vision Report 2025: MSDE has prepared its Vision Report 2025 in consultation with various stakeholders. 

I. Initiatives for Women: To mark the celebration of International Women’s Day on 8th March 2020, a two-year programme namely Mahatma Gandhi National Fellowship (MGNF) programme was launched by MSDE at IIM Bangalore, Karnataka. The fellowship programme has been conceptualized under the World Bank loan assisted Skills Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion (SANKALP) Programme. Out of the total 75 Fellows selected, 32 are women candidates (43 % of the total).

 

Initiatives for COVID-19:

  1. A Task Force of the Ministry, which was constituted to plan the strategy in light of COVID, has submitted its report on 16/4/20, with its recommendations in the various areas including steps needed to be taken urgently for the growth of the sector, strategies for Framing Policies which were facing obstacles, preparation of Business Plan for Sector Players to start functioning, steps that Ministries can take for encouraging Make in India and to secure and increase India’s share in World exports.
  2. A number of innovations have been done by ITIs and NSTIs to assist the fight against COVID-19. These include design and development of design robot (to serve food/ medicine to patients) and tele-presentation robot (for enabling tele-monitoring and telemedicine) by ITI Cuttack. ITI Berhampur designed an Aerosol Box which tightly protects the face of the health provider. NSTI developed an aero blaster and handed it to the District Administration for sanitizing the city.

SWADES: A collaborative initiative of the Ministries of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, Civil Aviation and External Affairs, SWADES (Skilled Workers Arrival Database for Employment Support) is a skill mapping exercise of the returning citizens under the Vande Bharat Mission. SWADES aims to create a database of qualified citizens based on their skillsets and experience to tap into and fulfil demand of Indian and foreign companies.

ASEEM: In order to improve the information flow and bridge the demand-supply gap in the skilled workforce market, MSDE recently launched ‘Aatmanirbhar Skilled Employee Employer Mapping (ASEEM)’ portal to help skilled people find sustainable livelihood opportunities. The Artificial Intelligence-based platform has been envisioned to strengthen workforce career pathways by handholding them through their journeys to attain industry-relevant skills and explore emerging job opportunities. 


Boosting the Growth of Industries

(Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors)

A. Atmanirbhar Package to boost Industrial growth has been announced by the Government for Rs. 20.97 lakh crore with bold reforms in a number of sectors.  

  • The Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS), having provision of Rs 3 lakh crores, is 100% credit guarantee and Collateral Free Automatic Loans for MSMEs.
  • Financial support has been given to the stressed MSMEs with infusion of Rs.20,000 crore equity support through Subordinate Debt.   
  • Fund of Funds created to infuse equity worth Rs.50,000 crore in the MSME Sector by setting up Rs.10,000 crore Corpus Fund. 
  • Also, Government is ensuring timely payment to the MSMEs by instructing all Government of India and CPSEs to clear all receivables of MSMEs within 45 days.
  • Procurement from domestic companies is being encouraged by disallowing global tender in government procurement tenders upto Rs 200 crores.

B. Higher FDI has been allowed through automatic route in a number of sectors by streamlining and liberalising several sectors. Empowered Group of Secretaries (EGoS) & Project Development Cells (PDCs) have been set up in order to provide support and facilitation to investors for investing in India and to boost growth in key sectors of the economy.

C. A centralized Investment Clearance Cell is being created, which would provide end-to-end facilitation support, including pre-investment advisory, information related to land banks and facilitating clearances at Central and State level.

D. The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code has been enacted in December 2016 to address India’s chronic problem of non-performing assets (NPA). 

E. Corporate Taxes have been reduced to encourage domestic manufacturing. With effect from FY 2019-20, corporate tax for domestic companies has been reduced to 22 per cent and for new manufacturing companies, incorporated on or after 01.10.2019, to 15 per cent.

F. In order to realize the economies of scale, incentives are extended to units as per annual increases in their production/sale under Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme. PLI scheme has been announced for large scale electronics manufacturing (Rs.40,955 crore), medical devices (Rs.3,420 crore) and KSMs/ Drug Intermediates and APIs (Rs. 6,940 crore).

G. In order to promote domestic manufacturing of sectors facing high imports or cheaper imports, incentives are provided through rationalization of Basic Customs Duty on identified products under Phased Manufacturing Programme (PMP).  Presently, PMP is in operation for Cellular Mobile Handsets and e-vehicles.

H. The Government has launched the National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP) in December, 2019 to provide world-class infrastructure across the country and improve the quality of life for all citizens. As per Final Report submitted by the NIP Task Force, the projected total expenditure on infrastructure would be of Rs. 111 lakh crore during the period FY 2020-25.

 

India has responded proactively to the Covid-19 challenge.  Indian manufacturers have enhanced production of PPE, N-95/N-99 masks, HCQ medicine and oxygen cylinders to meet the domestic/external requirements.  The Indian economy is known for its resilience and is expected to gradually return to its high growth performance in the coming months.

As per IMF’s World Economic Outlook (WEO) (June 2020), in the year 2020, global economic growth is projected to contract by 4.9 percent. 

Please Note

Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha: Shri Harivansh Narayan Singh

15th September: Engineer’s Day

Prime Minister of Japan: Yoshihide Suga

Agriculture: State subject; the Doubling of Farmers Income strategy include – 

  • Improvement in crop productivity
  • Improvement in livestock productivity
  • Resource use efficiency or savings in the cost of production
  • Increase in the cropping intensity
  • Diversification towards high value crops
  • Improvement in real prices received by farmers
  • Shift from farm to non-farm occupations

Increase in Domestic Violence against Women during Lockdown Period: As per the information received from National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) for the period from April 2020 to June 2020, legal aid and assistance has been provided in 2878 domestic violence cases and petition has been filed in 452 cases under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (PWDVA).  694 cases have been resolved through counselling/ mediation.         

In a first, eight beaches of India recommended for the coveted “Blue Flag” International eco-label: Blue Flag beaches are considered the cleanest beaches of the world. 

  • Shivrajpur in Gujarat
  • Ghoghla in Daman&Diu
  • Kasarkod and Padubidri beach in Karnataka
  • Kappad in Kerala
  • Rushikonda in Andhra Pradesh
  • Golden beach of Odisha
  • Radhanagar beach in Andaman and Nicobar

E-Gram Swaraj Portal: With a vision to strengthen digitalization in Panchayats for the purpose of empowering rural India, a unified tool e-Gram SWARAJ portal has been developed by the Ministry for effective monitoring and evaluation of works taken up in the Gram Panchayats.

  • e-Gram SWARAJ unifies the planning, accounting and monitoring functions of Gram Panchayats. 
  • It’s combination with the Area Profiler application, Local Government Directory (LGD) and the Public Financial Management System (PFMS) renders easier reporting and tracking of Gram Panchayat’s activities. 
  • It provides a single window for capturing Panchayat information with the complete Profile of the Panchayat, details of Panchayat finances, asset details, activities taken up through Gram Panchayat Development Plan (GPDP), Panchayat information from other Ministries/ Departments such as Census 2011, SECC data, Mission Antyodaya survey report etc.

National River Conservation Programme: Under NRCP, various pollution abatement works relating to interception & diversion of raw sewage, construction of sewerage systems, setting up of sewage treatment plants, low cost sanitation, river front/bathing ghat development, public participation & awareness programme, etc are taken.

Policy on promotion of City Compost with Market Development Assistance (MDA): The Government has introduced a policy on promotion of City Compost wherein a Market Development Assistance (MDA) of Rs. 1500/- MT in the form of subsidy has been provided for scaling up production and consumption of city compost made out from city waste.

Loan disbursal by World Bank to India to fight COVID-19 pandemic: The World Bank has so far provided three loans worth $2.5 billion to Government of India to support Government of India’s response to COVID-19 pandemic situation for health ($1 billion), for social protection ($0.75 billion) and for economic stimulus ($0.75 billion), the benefits of which have accrued to all States and UTs.

Single Window System: Creation of a centralized Investment Clearance Cell which would provide end-to-end facilitation support, including pre-investment advisory, information related to land banks; and facilitating clearances at Central and State level. The cell is being planned as a One-stop digital platform to obtain all requisite central and state clearances/approvals required to start business operations in India. This will eliminate the need for investors to visit multiple platforms/ offices to gather information and obtain clearances from different stakeholders and provide time-bound approvals and real time status update to investors.

India has Air Bubble Agreements with 10 Countries

India has entered into Air Bubble agreements with 10 countries viz. USA, Canada, France, Germany, UK, Maldives, UAE, Qatar, Afghanistan and Bahrain, till 13.09.2020.

  • These are temporary agreements between two countries aimed at restarting commercial passenger services when regular international flights are suspended as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • They are reciprocal in nature i.e. airlines from both countries enjoy similar benefits.
  • Tickets for the flights are sold through the airlines’ website, travel agents and Global Distribution Systems.

Scientists from Indian Institute of Astrophysics find a new model to probe how black holes rip apart starts

Scientists have found a new way to probe into supermassive black holes – detecting their properties like mass and spin by observing how they rip apart stars. They have found a model which can infer black hole mass, its spin by observing how the stars are ripped apart on coming to the vicinity of these astronomical bodies with high gravitational force found at the centre of some massive galaxies.

  • Most black holes lead isolated lives and are impossible to study. Astronomers study them by watching for their effects on nearby stars and gas. 
  • Stars are disrupted when the black hole’s tidal gravity exceeds the star’s self-gravity, and this phenomenon is called tidal disruption events (TDE). 
  • This model, which can be applied after the star is observed to be tidally disrupted, and an accretion disk is formed, will help in expanding our understanding of the physics besides building valuable statistics of the black hole mass and stellar mass.
  • Supermassive black holes govern the movement of stars orbiting within their gravitational potential, and their tidal forces can disrupt or rip apart the stars that come to their vicinity.

The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 provides for establishment of the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) to promote, protect and enforce the rights of consumers as a class. 

  • The Act provides for  simplifying the consumer dispute adjudication process in the Consumer Commissions, which include, among others, empowerment of the State and District Commissions to review their own Orders, enabling a consumer to file complaints electronically and file complaints in Consumer Commissions that have jurisdiction over the place of his residence, video conferencing for hearing and deemed admissibility of complaints if the question of admissibility is not decided within the specified period of 21 days. 
  • To simplify the adjudication process, mediation, as an Alternate Dispute Resolution mechanism, has been provided in the new Act. 
  • The Act introduces the concept of product liability and brings within its scope the product manufacturer, the product service provider and the product seller, for any claim for compensation.

Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyan: Launched to address the issues of returnee migrant workers and similarly affected rural population by Covid-19 pandemic through a multi- pronged strategy of providing immediate employment & livelihood opportunities to the distressed, to saturate the villages with public infrastructure and creation of livelihood assets to boost the income generation activities and enhance long term livelihood opportunities by giving focus on 25 works in 116 selected districts across 6 States with a resource envelope of Rs 50,000 crore.

Global Initiative to reduce Land Degradation and Coral Reef program launched at G20 Environment Ministers Meet

  • The Global Initiative on Reducing Land Degradation aims to strengthen the implementation of existing frameworks to prevent, halt, and reverse land degradation within G20 member states and globally, taking into account possible implications on the achievement of other SDGs and adhering to the principle of doing no harm.
  • The Global Coral Reef R&D Accelerator Platform is an innovative action-oriented initiative aimed at creating a global research and development (R&D) program to advance research, innovation and capacity building in all facets of coral reef conservation, restoration, and adaptation, and strengthen ongoing efforts and commitments made to enhance coral reefs conservation and their further degradation.

Postage Stamp released on A-SAT: India’s First Anti Satellite Missile

  • Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully conducted an Anti-Satellite (A-SAT) missile test ‘Mission Shakti’ from Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Island in Odisha on 27th March 2019. 
  • A DRDO developed A-SAT Missile successfully engaged an Indian orbiting target satellite in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) in a ‘Hit to Kill’ mode. 
  • The interceptor missile was a three-stage missile with two solid rocket boosters. Tracking data from range sensors had confirmed that the mission met all its objectives. 
  • The entire effort was indigenous which demonstrated the Nation’s capability to develop such complex and critical missions. A number of industries also participated in the mission.
  • With this success, India became fourth nation in the world to possess such capability.

Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY) launched: To bring about Blue Revolution through sustainable and responsible development of fisheries sector in India was recently launched.

Goal: To double the fish exports in the next 3 to 4 years i.e. by 2024-25.

Objective:

  • To address critical gaps in fish production and productivity; quality, technology, post-harvest infrastructure and management, modernisation and strengthening of value chain, traceability, establishing a robust fisheries management framework and fishers’ welfare
  • Harnessing of fisheries potential in a sustainable, responsible, inclusive and equitable manner
  • Enhancing contribution to Agriculture GVA and exports
  • Social, physical and economic security for fishers and fish farmers
  • Robust fisheries management and regulatory framework

The PMMSY is an umbrella scheme with two separate Components: (a) Central Sector Scheme (CS) and (b) Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS). Total estimated investment will be of Rs. 20,050 crores to be implemented over a period of 5 years from FY 2020-21 to FY 2024-25. 

Do you know: Fisheries constitute 1.24% of National GDP and 7.28% of Agriculture GDP.

Parliament passes the Institute of Teaching and Research in Ayurveda Bill 2020: Paves the way to establish a state-of-the-art Ayurvedic institution called the Institute of Teaching and Research in Ayurveda (ITRA) at Jamnagar, Gujarat, and to confer the status of Institution of National Importance (INI) to it.

  • Provide autonomy to the institute to develop patterns of teaching in undergraduate and postgraduate education in Ayurveda and Pharmacy. 
  • The synergies among the different constituent institutions will help ITRA to demonstrate high standards of such education and to emerge as a lighthouse institution to the entire AYUSH Sector. 
  • It is expected to provide the highest level of training of personnel in all important branches of Ayurveda including Pharmacy, and to take up in-depth study and research in the field of Ayurveda.

National Recruitment Agency:  A multi-agency body to encompass the first level test by the Staff Selection Commission (SSC), the Railway Recruitment Boards (RRBs) and the Institute of Banking Service Personnel (IBPS)

  • Common eligibility Test (CET) to screen candidates at the first level for SSC, RRBs and IBPS
  • A computer based online Common Eligibility Test (CET) for the Graduate, the Higher Secondary (12thpass) and the Matriculate (10th Pass) candidates as a path-breaking reform.
  • CET in Every District: Ease of Access to Rural youth, women and disadvantaged candidates
  • Multiplicity of exams will not be there
  • Robust use of ICT to eradicate malpractices
  • CET Score to be valid for three years, no bar on attempts

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