fbpx

PRESS INFORMATION BUREAU (PIB) IAS UPSC – 27th December to 31st December – 2020

  • IASbaba
  • January 7, 2021
  • 0
IASbaba's Press Information Bureau, UPSC Articles
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Press Information Bureau (PIB) IAS UPSC – 27th to 31st December, 2020

ARCHIVES

GS-2

Year End Review 2020: Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs

  • Parliament passed total 39 bills during 2020
  • Monsoon Session: Productivity of Lok Sabha was approx. 167% and Rajya Sabha was approx. 100.47
  • New Parliament Building: An intrinsic part of the vision of ‘AatmaNirbhar Bharat’
  • National e-Vidhan Application (NeVA), — One e-platform to cover all 39 Houses (both houses of Parliament, 31 State Assemblies and 6 Councils)

Year End Review 2020- Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions

  • Cabinet approved creation of National Recruitment Agency (NRA), paving the way for a transformational reform in the recruitment process for central government jobs
  • Centre launched “Mission Karmayogi”- National Programme for Civil Services Capacity Building (NPCSCB)
  • Doorstep Service for submission of Digital Life Certificate through Postman launched
  • Revamped Scheme for PM’s Awards for Excellence in Public Administration 2020 launched
  • Interviews for jobs abolished in 23 States and 8 UTs in India so far

Proposed to set up a Capacity Building Commission, with a view to ensure a uniform approach in managing and regulating the capacity building ecosystem on collaborative and co-sharing basis – 

  • To assist the PM Public Human Resources Council in approving the Annual Capacity Building Plans.
  • To exercise functional supervision over all Central Training Institutions dealing with civil services capacity building.
  • To create shared learning resources, including internal and external faculty and resource centers.
  • To coordinate and supervise the implementation of the Capacity Building Plans with the stakeholder Departments.
  • To make recommendations on standardization of training and capacity building, pedagogy and methodology
  • To set norms for common mid-career training programs across all civil services.
  • To suggest policy interventions required in the areas of HR Management and Capacity Building to the Government.

iGOT-Karmayogi platform brings the scale and state-of-the-art infrastructure to augment the capacities of over two crore officials in India. 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.

Mission Karmayogi aims to prepare the Indian Civil Servant for the future by making him more creative, constructive, imaginative, innovative, proactive, professional, progressive, energetic, enabling, transparent and technology-enabled. Empowered with specific role-competencies, the civil servant will be able to ensure efficient service delivery of the highest quality standards.

Department Of Justice: Year End Review-2020

  • Video Conferencing equipment provided to all Court Complexes including Taluk level courts;  Funds  sanctioned for additional VC equipment for 14,443 court rooms
  • Nine virtual Courts have been set up; These courts handled 35,02,896 cases and realised Rs.130.72 Cr in fines as on 08.12.2020
  • Covid-19 Software Patch developed to help in smart scheduling of cases according to urgency
  • Through tele-law free legal advice service now available in 285 Districts to marginal sections.
  • Justice Clocks: To make effective use of database created through National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG) and to make the information available to public, LED Display Message Sign Board System called Justice Clocks have been installed in 18 High Courts.  
  • Nyaya Bandhu (Pro Bono Legal Services): This programme aims to provide free legal assistance and counsel to the persons eligible under section 12 of Legal Service Authorities Act, 1987. This service is provided by advocates who are registered with DoJ to volunteer their time and services for representing cases of registered applicants/litigants.2243 lawyers have registered and 875 cases have been assigned so far under this programme.
  • The “Access to Justice – North Eastern States and Jammu & Kashmir” programme is being implemented in eight states of North East (including Sikkim) and in UT of Jammu & Kashmir  since 2012. The objective of the programme is to create legal awareness, improve legal literacy and address the legal needs of the marginalized and vulnerable sections of the society like women, children, SCs and STs.
  • NALSA strengthened the National Legal Aid Helpline (15100) and the State Legal Aid Helpline numbers for facilitating easy accessibility of legal aid institutions to the common people. Steps were also been taken to use social media tools including radio for educating people about their rights and entitlements. Handbook of formats was prepared and launched in June 2020 for bringing in uniformity in documentation and data collection for better and quality management of legal services by Legal Services Authorities.
  • NALSA in collaboration with the National Commission for Women launched a project, “Empowering Women through Legal Awareness”. Under the Project, legal literacy programmes for women have been carried out in 285 districts in the States of Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. A “Handbook on laws relating to Women” was also released which will serve as a toolkit for the resource persons.           
  • A Memorandum of Understanding on Judicial Sector Co-operation was signed between Supreme Court of India and Supreme Council of the Judicial Power of the Kingdom of Morocco, to allow both parties to exchange and benefit from their experiences and expertise in the field of computer and digital technologies.
  • The Supreme Court of India vide its order directed to appoint a Judicial Pay Commission to review the pay scales, emoluments and service conditions of the Judicial Officers of Subordinate Judiciary in India. The purpose is to over the years to improve the service conditions of subordinate judicial officers. Accordingly, Second National Judicial Pay commission has been established under the Chairmanship of Justice (Retd.) P.V. Reddi of the Supreme Court.

Year End Review -2020 of Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship

  • Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana Scheme on UMANG Platform
  • PMKVY 3.0 (2020-21) Scheme to be launched soon
  • On-boarding of PMKVY Scheme on UMANG Platform
  • STRIVE: New Initiatives and Milestones Achieved under Skill Strengthening for Industrial Value Enhancement – 244 ITIs have signed Performance based grant agreement
  • Skill Mapping: A number of steps taken regarding Health sector job role mapping of 15 countries for mobility and migration of labour
  • Inauguration of websites for all the 33 National Skill Training Institutes (NSTIs) (with common templates) was done
  • A digital skill platform has been developed for reskilling/upskilling of ITI instructors and trainees which integrates trainees, teachers, institutes, government and the corporates for complete life cycle of the training process and a pilot run has made successfully.
  • SANKALP (Skills Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion) Web-portal was launched. The Go-Live includes (i) State Best Practices module; (ii) Program Management Tool; (iii) State Proposal Management System; (iv) State Incentive Grants; (v) Monitoring & Evaluation Tool; and (vi) DSDP Awards.
  • The online version of the District Skill Development Planning (DSDP) Toolkit was made live on the SANKALP Web-portal which will assist the District officials in planning, implementation and monitoring of the skill development initiatives in their Districts.
  • MGNF: Mahatama Gandhi National Fellowship Scheme was launched in partnership with IIM Bangalore
  • A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE) and Ministry of Shipping (MoS) for establishing a framework for collaboration to harness the innate capabilities for skill development in Ports & Maritime sector and enhance skilling capacities to deal with the rapidly changing competition and provide for port led prosperity.

Year End Review- 2020: Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises

Year 2020 marked by several path breaking initiatives in MSME Sector

  • Distressed Assets Fund -Subordinate Debt for MSMEs- Credit Guarantee Scheme-Sub Debt (CGSSD): With Government of India assistance of Rs. 4000 crore, provisioning of Rs. 20,000 crore as subordinate debt to provide equity support to the stressed MSMEs has been launched
  • Rs 10000 crore Fund of Funds Scheme Launched to leverage equity infusion of Rs 50000 crore
  • MSME definition broadened to enable them grow bigger; registration made simple through Udhyam
  • Champions Portal: an ICT based technology system for making the smaller units big by helping and handholding them. The portal is not only helping MSMEs in the present situation, but also providing guidance to grab the new business opportunities.
  • Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP): PMEGP is a major credit-linked subsidy programme aimed at generating self-employment opportunities through establishment of micro-enterprises in the non-farm sector by assisting traditional artisans and unemployed youth in rural as well as urban areas. Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) is the nodal agency at the national level.
  • Credit Linked Capital Subsidy – Technology Upgradation Scheme (CLCS-TUS):
  • Achievements under the CLCS-TUS schemes:
    • Digital MSME: Organizations have been on boarded for bringing MSMEs on digital platform and for providing them digital identity all over the country for MSMEs.
    • Lean Manufacturing: Scheme is implemented in approved MSME clusters throughout the country by Quality Council of India (QCI) and National Productivity Council (NPC) to enhance the manufacturing competitiveness of MSMEs through the application of various Lean Manufacturing (LM) techniques.
    • Support for Entrepreneurial and Managerial Development of MSMEs through Incubators: In-principle approval given for Incubation centers for more than 200 technical institutions, industry associations social enterprises. Innovative ideas having business proposals have been invited from them for funding support under the scheme. 
    • Design: Institutes like, 3 IITs (BHU-Varanasi, Roorkee & Indore) and 9 NITs (Warangal, Puducherry, Arunachal Pradesh, Agartala, Bhopal, Silchar, Jaipur, Trichy, Nagpur) have been on boarded to work as Implementing Agency under Design scheme. 
    • Zero Defect Zero Effect (ZED): Scheme is under implementation for MSMEs throughout the country through Quality Council of India (QCI). 23,493 MSMEs have registered under ZED scheme since inception. ZED parameters are being simplified to onboard more MSMEs on ZED Journey.
    • Building Awareness on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR): 50 new IP Facilitation Centres have been set up in different parts of the country to cater IP need of MSMEs. Reimbursement being given for registration of different IPRs to MSMEs. More and more awareness being created for IP rights amongst MSMEs.
  • GeM- Government e-Marketplace: UAM Portal has been replaced by Udyam registration Portal which has facility through which an entrepreneur can opt for linking itself with Government e-market (GeM) place by selecting an option on Udyam Portal. The enterprise will be linked to GeM portal and flow of information will start between these two portals. With this facility, MSEs can link themselves with the Government’s procurement system and can participate in Government’s mandatory procurement programme from MSEs.

Year End Review 2020 – Ministry of Textiles

  • With development of a new industry valuing Rs 7000 Crore with 1100 PPE manufacturers producing a peak of 4.5 lakh units per day India becomes second largest PPE manufacturer in the world
  • National Technical Textiles Mission approved with a total outlay of Rs. 1480 Crore: The Mission will have four components
    • Component-I (Research, Innovation and Development) 
    • Component-II (Promotion and Market Development)
    • Component-III (Export Promotion)
    • Component-IV (Education, Training, Skill Development)
  • Anti-Dumping Duty on PTA and Acrylic Fibre Removed
  • Brand Name and Logo for Indian Cotton launched as “KASTURI COTTON INDIA”
  • On-boarded Government e Market place (GeM) to provide wider market for handloom weavers/artisans/producers
  • A National Action Plan prepared to promote Indian toy industry including handicrafts and handmade toy products; National Toy Fair proposed during 27th Feb to 3rd March 2021
  • Technology gap in textile machinery: Based on the decisions of Stakeholder meeting, a comprehensive technology gap study has been commissioned to ascertain the level of existing technologies manufactured by Textile Engineering Industry (TEI) in India and the extent of technology gaps that exist compared to global competitors.

Year End Review 2020 – Ministry of Minority Affairs

  • Turning the crisis of Corona challenges into an opportunity, the Ministry of Minority Affairs brought “HunarHaat”, a credible brand to provide market and opportunities to artisans and craftsmen, on online platform in the year 2020.
  • India became first country to make the entire Haj process 100 % digital
  • First “Muslim Women Rights Day” observed: observed to celebrate completion of one year of the Law against “Triple Talaq” on 1st August.
  • 22 youths selected in Civil Services with assistance of “NaiUdaan”scheme
  • Process to establish Waqf Boards in Jammu-Kashmir and Leh-Kargil: Waqf Boards will ensure proper utilisation of Waqf properties in Jammu-Kashmir and Leh-Kargil for welfare of the society. The Central Government will provide adequate financial assistance to construct infrastructure for socio-economic and educational activities on Waqf properties in Jammu-Kashmir and Leh-Kargil under “PradhanMantri Jan VikasKarykram” (PMJVK).

Year End Review 2020: Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER)

  • Earmarking of 30% of “Schemes of NEC” allocation for development of deprived areas; deprived neglected sections of Society
    • Programmes for afforestation of denuded hills in NER. The plantation will involve tall growing trees other than bamboo.
    • Programmes/projects for development of organic farming in NER.
    • Commissioning of studies to look into problems of ethnic groups in NER like Bru, Chakma, etc. and possible solutions to the identified problems.
    • Documentation of disputes between different States of North East for further action by MHA.
    • Study of various languages/scripts of NE States and measures to revive the lost languages/scripts.
    • Such other projects of importance for focussed development of deprived areas, vulnerable and neglected groups/sections of society and other emerging priority sectors.
  • Union Budget 2020-21 accorded highest priority for the overall development of North Eastern Region; Budgetary allocation saw a hike of over 14% from Rs. 2670 Crore last year to Rs. 3049 Crore in 2020-21
  • Renewed focus on Development of Bamboo Sector in North Eastern Region
    • Government removed Bamboo from the classification of trees in Indian Forest Act 1927 through Indian Forest (Amendment) Act, 2017 and re-classified it as grass by Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change.  The decision is a game changer for development of Bamboo in the North Eastern Region as it would facilitate large scale cultivation and processing of bamboo.  
    • Another major reform relates to increase in import duty on bamboo sticks from 10% to 25%. This decision has paved the way for setting up of new agarbatti stick manufacturing units to meet the ever-growing demand of Agarbatti in India. There has been no import of raw batti since September 2019 and local bamboo produce is being used.
  • 100% implementation of E-Office in MDoNER
  • Dedicated Desk of Invest India for NER
    • Information provision
    • Targeting support
    • Facilitation support
    • State training and capacity building
    • Creation and structuring of state investment teams
    • Advisory for states for their investment summits/roundtables
    • Investors targeting support
    • Website
  • Destination North East: Destination North East is a calendar event of the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region conceptualized with the objective of taking the North East Region to other parts of the country and bringing them closer together for better understanding and strengthening national integration.
  • Some of the major projects which have been approved, started or completed in the last one year in the NER
    • Indradhanush Gas Grid Project would be a 1656 km long North East Gas Pipeline Grid covering all eight States. This would provide clean energy to NER and boost industrial growth without pollution. This would greatly help in preserving NE environment in its pristine form.
    • Greenfield Hollongi Airport for capital connectivity to Arunachal Pradesh
    • completed Belonia-Sabroom (39.12 Km) Railway-line for providing easy access to Southern Tripura and Chattogram Port in Bangladesh.
    • Doubling of Hawaipur-Lumding,25.05 Km long Section of New Jalpaiguri-Lumding Project has also been completed.

Cabinet Approves Export of Akash Missile System and Creates a Committee for faster Approval of Exports

Under the Atma Nirbhar Bharat, India is growing in its capabilities of manufacturing wide variety of Defence platforms and missiles. 

  • Akash is country’s important missile with over 96 percent indigenisation. 
  • Akash is a Surface to Air Missile with a range of 25 Kms. The missile was inducted in 2014 in IAF and in 2015 in Indian Army. 
  • After its induction in the Services, interest is shown in Akash missile by many friendly countries during International Exhibitions/Def Expo/Aero India. The Cabinet approval will facilitate Indian manufactures to participate in RFI/RFP issued by various countries. 

So far, Indian defence exports included parts/components etc. The export of big platforms was minimal. This initiative of the Cabinet would help the country to improve its defence products and make them globally competitive. 

The export version of Akash will be different from System currently deployed with Indian Armed Forces. Besides Akash, there is interest coming in other major platforms like Coastal Surveillance System, Radars and Air platforms. To provide faster approvals for export of such platforms, a Committee comprising of Raksha Mantri, External Affairs Minister and National Security Advisor has been created. 

  • This Committee would authorise subsequent exports of major indigenous platforms to various countries. The Committee would also explore various available options including the Government-to-Government route. 
  • Government of India intends to focus on exporting high value defence platforms, to achieve target of 5 Billion USD of defence export and improve strategic relations with friendly foreign countries.

Cabinet approves MoU between India and Bhutan on Cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space.

This MoU shall 

  • Enable India and Bhutan to pursue cooperation in potential interest areas, such as remote sensing of the earth; satellite communication and satellite-based navigation; Space science and planetary exploration; use of spacecraft and space systems and ground system; and application of space technology.
  • Would lead to set up a Joint Working Group, drawing members from DOS/ISRO and the Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC) of Bhutan, which will further work out the plan of action including the time-frame and the means of implementation.

Major Impacts: The signed MoU will provide Impetus to explore cooperation possibilities in the field of remote sensing of the earth; satellite communication; satellite navigation; space science and exploration of outer space.

Background:

  • India and Bhutan have been discussing on establishing formal space cooperation.  A template for Inter-Governmental MoU for Space cooperation was shared with MEA in November 2017 for further taking up with Bhutan.  This draft was further discussed along with other cooperative proposals during the bilateral meeting in February 2020.
  • After a few iterations through diplomatic channels, both sides have arrived at a workable draft of the MoU and the same was processed for internal approvals.  After obtaining necessary approvals the MoU was signed on November 19, 2020 by both sides and exchanged.

Cabinet approves Opening of 3 Indian Missions in Estonia, Paraguay and Dominican Republic

The objective of our foreign policy is to build a conducive environment for India’s growth and development through partnerships with friendly countries.  There are presently Missions and Posts across the world which serve as conduits of our relations with partner countries. 

The decision to open these 3 new Indian Missions is a forward-looking step in pursuit of our national priority of growth and development or ‘Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas’.  It will help expand India’s diplomatic footprint, deepen political relations, enable growth of bilateral trade, investment and economic engagements, facilitate stronger people-to-people contacts, bolster political outreach in multilateral fora and help garner support for India’s foreign policy objectives.

Enhancement of India’s diplomatic presence will, inter-alia, provide market access for Indian companies and bolster Indian exports of goods and services.  This would have a direct impact in augmenting domestic production and employment in line with our goal of a self-reliant India or ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’.

Cabinet approves modified scheme to enhance ethanol distillation capacity in the country

There has been surplus production of sugar in the country since sugar season 2010-11 (except reduction due to drought in sugar season 2016-17); & sugar production is likely to remain surplus in the country in coming years due to introduction of improved varieties of sugarcane. In the normal sugar season (October- September) about 320 Lakh Metric Tonnes (LMT) of sugar is produced whereas, our domestic consumption is about 260 LMT. This surplus sugar of 60 LMT in normal sugar season put pressure on domestic ex-mill prices of sugar. The excess stocks of 60 LMT which remain unsold also block funds of sugar mills to the tune of about Rs. 19,000 crore thereby affecting liquidity positions of sugar mills resulting in accumulation of cane price arrears of farmers. To deal with surplus stocks of sugar, sugar mills have been exporting sugar, for which Government has been extending financial assistance. Moreover, India being a developing country can export sugar by extending financial assistance only up to year 2023 as per WTO arrangements.

So, diversion of excess sugarcane & sugar to ethanol is a correct way forward to deal with surplus stocks. Diversion of excess sugar would help in 

  • Stabilizing the domestic ex-mill sugar prices 
  • Help sugar mills to get relieved from storage problems
  • Improve their cash flows and facilitate them in clearance of cane price dues of farmers
  • Will facilitate mills to function in the coming years

Government has fixed target of 10% blending of fuel grade ethanol with petrol by 2022, 15% blending by 2026 & 20% blending by 2030. With a view to support sugar sector and in the interest of sugarcane farmers, the Government has also allowed production of ethanol from B-Heavy Molasses, sugarcane juice, sugar syrup and sugar; and has been fixing the remunerative ex-mill price of ethanol derived from C-heavy molasses, B-heavy molasses and ethanol derived from sugarcane juice/ sugar/ sugar syrup for ethanol season. For ethanol supply year 2020-21, Government has now increased the ex-mill price of ethanol derived from various feed stocks. 

To increase production of fuel grade ethanol, Govt. is also encouraging distilleries to produce ethanol from maize; & rice available with FCI. Government has fixed remunerative price of ethanol from maize & rice. Government is also planning to prepone achievement of 20% blending target by year 2025 and onwards.

To bring a modified scheme for extending interest subvention to augment ethanol production capacity for following categories:

  1. Setting up grain based distilleries / expansion of existing grain based distilleries to produce ethanol. However, benefits of interest subvention scheme to be extended to only those stand alone distilleries which are using dry milling process.
  2. Setting up new molasses based distilleries / expansion of existing distilleries (whether attached to sugar mills or standalone distilleries) to produce ethanol and for installing any method approved by Central Pollution Control Board for achieving Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD).
  3. To set up new dual feed distilleries or to expand existing capacities of dual feed distilleries.
  4. To convert existing molasses based distilleries (whether attached to sugar mills or standalone distilleries) to dual feed (molasses and grain/ or any other feed stock producing 1G Ethanol); and also to convert grain based distilleries to dual feed.
  5. To set up new distilleries / expansion of existing distilleries to produce ethanol from other feed stocks producing 1G ethanol such as sugar beet, sweet sorghum, cereals etc.
  6. To install Molecular Sieve Dehydration (MSDH) column to convert rectified spirit to ethanol in the existing distilleries.

GS-3

Year End Review- 2020 for Department for Promotion of Industry & Internal Trade

Doing Business Report, 2020: To improve Ease of Doing Business in the country, the emphasis has been on simplification and rationalization of the existing rules and introduction of information technology to make governance more efficient and effective. As per the Doing Business Report (DBR) ,2020 of the  World Bank’s released  on 24th October, 2019, India’s rank has moved upwards at  63rd position amongst 190 countries from its rank at  77nd  position  in  2019. India has improved its rank in 7 out of 10 indicators and has moved closer to international best practices.

State Reform Action Plan: Since 2014 to track the implementation of business reforms at the State level, DPIIT in partnership with the World Bank, has been annually ranking all States and UTs based on the assessments of reforms in the specified areas of ease of doing business. The Action Plan is spread across 24 reform areas and seeks to promote sector-specific approach so as to create an enabling business environment across various sectors in the country. The various sectors include Trade License, Healthcare, Legal Metrology, Fire License/NOC, Cinema Halls, Hospitality, Telecom, Movie Shooting and Tourism.

District Reform Action Plan: District level functionaries are key touch points for an entrepreneur and hence a district level reform exercise is the next logical step in the reform agenda. The Action Plan covers 8 reform areas with States & UTs. The District Plan covers 43 NOCs/Permissions/ Registrations/ Certificates which will ease regulations for sectors like retail, education, health, food and beverages, real estate, gems and jewellery mining and entertainment.

  • Production-Linked Incentive Scheme to provide a major boost to manufacturing for 13 sectors
  • Investment Clearance Cell -a one-stop digital platform to provide facilitation and support to businesses through a one-stop digital platform – the central Single Window System (SWS), is being set up
  • Industrial Information System to help investors identify their preferred location for investment launched
  • One District One Product for AatmaNirbhar Bharat – envisaged to be a transformational step forward realizing the true potential of a district, fuel economic growth and generate employment and rural entrepreneurship.
  • FDI inflow increased by 11% from USD 42.06 billion to US$ 46.82 billion
  • The IPR regime in India has transformed in the past two decades.
    • In order to simplify the process and reduce compliance burden, amendments have been made through Patent Amendment Rules 2020, related to the working of Patented Invention in India as required under section 8 in Form 27. Additionally, filing of a statement on the commercial working of a patent within 6 months instead of 3 months as prescribed earlier and only one form may be filled in respect of multiple related patents assigned to common patentee.
    • To give a boost to the registration of Authorised users of a Geographical Indications product, Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) (Amendment) Rules, 2020 were notified in the Gazette on August 26, 2020. The amendment has reduced the fees to be paid for the GI registration process and eased the procedure for registration of an authorized user of a registered GI.
    • Scheme for facilitating Startups Intellectual Property Protection (SIPP) launched for encouraging innovation and creativity of startups has now been extended up to 31stMarch, 2023.
    • To encourage Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to seek protection for their innovations processing fees for patent applications by small entities has been further reduced by 80% (from the existing 50% provided in May 16, 2016) as compared to large entities. As a result, the patent filing and processing fees for small entities is now at par with the fees for individual applicants and start-ups.
    • Last year, India and Japan had signed a bilateral “Patent Prosecution Highway”. The first year of a three year’s Pilot PPH Program with Japan was a successful drive whereby 100 patent applications were received, which allowed 100 applications from Japan in a year.
    • International Collaborations – India has signed MoUs with various countries so as to lay the foundation for a technical cooperation between the two countries with the aim of strengthening the protection of intellectual property rights for the benefit of innovation and sustainable economic growth. Building on this foundation, India this year signed MoUs with the United States of America, Denmark and Portugal. Subsequently, various IPR awareness drives were carried out in collaboration with Denmark.
  • Foreign Direct Investment: During the first seven months of F.Y. 2020-21, total FDI inflow increased by 11% from USD 42.06 billion (April, 2019 to October, 2019) to US$ 46.82 billion (April, 2020 to October, 2020). FDI equity inflow increased by 21% to US$ 35.33 billion (April, 2020 to October, 2020) from US$ 29.31 billion reported in the same period of previous financial year.
    • 100% FDI has been permitted in Intermediaries or Insurance Intermediaries including insurance brokers, re-insurance brokers, insurance consultants, corporate agents, third party administrator, Surveyors and Loss Assessors and such other entities, as may be notified by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority from time to time.
    • Foreign Investment up to 100% by those NRIs, who are Indian Nationals under automatic route.
    • Amended the FDI policy according to which an entity of a country, which shares land border with India or where the beneficial owner of an investment into India is situated in or is a citizen of any such country, can invest only under the Government route. Further, in the event of the transfer of ownership of any existing or future FDI in an entity in India, directly or indirectly, resulting in the beneficial ownership falling within the restriction/purview of the said policy amendment, such subsequent change in beneficial ownership will also require Government approval.
    • FDI in the defence sector is allowed up to 74% through automatic route (from earlier 49%) for companies seeking new industrial licenses. FDI beyond 74% and up to 100% will be permitted under Government route.
  • To promote “Manufacturing Investment” in India, usage of made in India products is being encouraged in government procurement.
  • National Industrial Corridor Development Programme is India’s most ambitious infrastructure programme aiming to develop new industrial cities as “Smart Cities” and converging next generation technologies across infrastructure sectors. The National Industrial Corridor Programme includes the following Industrial Corridors:
    • Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC)
    • Amritsar Kolkata Industrial Corridor (AKIC)
    • Chennai Bengaluru Industrial Corridor (CBIC) with extension to Kochi via Coimbatore
    • East Coast Economic Corridor (ECEC) with Vizag Chennai Industrial Corridor (VCIC) as Phase 1
    • Bengaluru Mumbai Industrial Corridor (BMIC)
    • The objective is to expand India’s Manufacturing & Services base and develop National Industrial Corridors as a “Global Manufacturing and Trading Hub”. The programme will provide a major impetus to planned urbanization in India with manufacturing as the key driver. In addition to new Industrial Cities, the programme envisages development of infrastructure linkages like power plants, assured water supply, high capacity transportation and logistics facilities as well as softer interventions like skill development programme for employment of the local populace.
  • Setting up of the ‘Business Immunity Platform’, the dynamic platform for business issue redressal during the lockdown. Invest India, India’s national Investment Promotion & Facilitation Agency, under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry launched Business Immunity Platform (BIP) on 21st March 2020. Its objective was to become a knowledge base bringing together key stakeholders including logistics providers to fill demand-supply shortages required to combat COVID-19.
  • DPIIT and its subordinate office, the Petroleum & Explosives Safety Organization (PESO), have taken various measures to mitigate the problems of license holders and to meet the challenge of supply of sufficient quantity of medical oxygen to hospitals all over the country without any interruption during the present COVID pandemic.
  • Setting up a ‘Control Room’ to monitor the real-time status of manufacturing & logistics of essential goods and commodities: DPIIT  set-up a ‘Control Room’ to monitor the real-time status of transportation & logistics. The team monitored the issues of internal trade, manufacturing, delivery & logistics of essential commodities. They also responded to the difficulties faced by stakeholders in the resource mobilization.

Year End Review 2020- (Department of Food & Public Distribution) Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution

Centrally Sponsored Pilot Scheme on “Fortification of Rice & its Distribution under Public Distribution System”: In order to take the country forward from food security to nutritional security, a Pilot Scheme of Rice Fortification is being implemented in 15 States (One district per State). Gradual scaling up of this initiative has also been envisaged to cover the other parts of the country in due course in a phased manner.

Implementation of Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS): Persistent efforts have resulted in universal implementation of the National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA) in all States/UTs, benefitting about 80.60 Crore persons in the country by providing them access to highly subsidized foodgrains at Rs. 1/2/3 per Kg for Coarse-grains/Wheat/Rice respectively. 

Reforms on Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS)

  • 100% digitized ration cards/beneficiaries’ data under NFSA in all States/UTs. Details of almost 23.5 Croreration Cards covering nearly 80 Crorebeneficiaries are available on transparency portals of States/UTs
  • More than 90% Aadhaar seeding of ration cards (at least one member), whereas nearly 86.4% beneficiaries are also Aadhaar seeded at the national level.
  • More than 91% (4.91 Lakh of total 5.4 Lakh) Fair Price Shops (FPSs) in the country are automated using electronic Point of Sale (ePoS) devices for transparent and ensured distribution of subsidized foodgrains to beneficiaries.
  • Nationally, achieved nearly 67% biometrically/Aadhaar authenticated distribution of monthly allocated foodgrains to States/UTs under NFSA.
  • Food security response during the COVID-19 crisis: Free-of-cost 5 Kg foodgrains/person/month were given to migrants/ stranded migrants and all those in need without ration cards for a period of 2 months (May & June 2020) up to 31.08.2020. Against an estimated number of 2.8 Cr. migrants/stranded migrants, about 2.74 Cr. persons (98%) received the free ration under the AtmaNirbhar Bharat scheme.
  • One Nation One Ration Card: Further, Department is implementing ambitious One Nation One Ration Card (ONORC) plan to ensure seamless access to PDS and delivery of food-security entitlements to all beneficiaries covered under the National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA), anywhere in the country, through nation-wide portability of ration cards in association with all State/UT Governments.

The Government has allowed production of ethanol from sugar and sugar syrup for ethanol supply year 2019-20 (December, 2019 – November, 2020) and has fixed the remunerative ex-mill price of ethanol.

  • Diversion of excess sugar to ethanol and Augmentation of Ethanol Production Capacity under Ethanol Blended with Petrol (EBP) Programme: The Central Government, in its National Bi-Fuel Policy, 2018, mandated for 10% blending of ethanol into motor fuel by 2022 and 20% by 2030. Accordingly, DFPD notified schemes for providing assistance through interest subvention on loans advanced by commercial banks for installation of new distillery project and expansion of existing capacity with zero liquid discharge system. A separate window of one month was also opened for the distilleries/sugar mills, who could not avail the benefit of interest subvention schemes notified earlier. With this ethanol production capacity has reached to 426 crore lite in 2020-21 and 520 crore liters expected by March 2022.A web portal has been launched for online submission of loan applications for availing various loans provided under Sugar Development Fund by the Sugar Mills.
  • National Sugar Institute: A MoU was signed between National Sugar Institute, Kanpur and National Sugar Development Council, Nigeria for setting up of a Sugar Institute at Nigeria and shall also to conduct training programmes for their faculty. 

Launch of ‘Digital Ocean’ -the first of its kind digital platform for Ocean Data Management developed by INCOIS of MoES

Digital Ocean is a big step towards Digital India, will help expand ‘Blue Economy’ and promote Atmanirbhar Bharat

  • The ocean is a storehouse of infinite knowledge and ‘Digital Ocean’ helps to share this knowledge about the ocean with a wide range of users including research institutions, operational agencies, strategic users, academic community, maritime industry and policy makers.
  • It will play a central role in sustainable management of our oceans and expanding our ‘Blue Economy’ initiatives. Further, the Digital Ocean will be promoted as a platform for capacity building on Ocean Data Management for all Indian Ocean Rim countries.
  • Today we are looking at a large number of possibilities for harnessing the wealth of the ocean like the Deep Ocean Mission, research on alternate sources of energy, its mineral wealth, source of food among others. Deep Ocean Mission will help to explore the power of the ocean which will be reflected through data. The sharing of this data will become critical factors in achieving better outcomes for strengthening our economy.

INCOIS has adopted and developed various state-of-the-art technologies and tools through sustained and focussed oceanographic research for the timely dissemination of ocean information and advisory Services that includes Potential Fishing Zone (PFZ) advisories, Ocean State Forecast (OSF), High Wave Alerts, Tsunami early warnings, Storm Surge and Oil-Spill advisories, etc.

Digital Ocean platform is a first of its kind platform for ocean data management (www.do.incois.gov.in). It includes a set of applications developed to organize and present heterogeneous oceanographic data by adopting rapid advancements in geospatial technology. It facilitates an online interactive web-based environment for data integration, 3D and 4D (3D inspace with time animation) data visualization, data analysis to assess the evolution of oceanographic features, data fusion and multi-format download of disparate data from multiple sources viz., in-situ, remote sensing and model data, all of which is rendered on a georeferenced 3D Ocean. User Management component of Digital Ocean allows authentication of users, their roles and privileges of access to different data sets, categorization of data as per the data sharing guidelines, metadata management, mail management, usage statistics, system statistics, monitoring of observing platforms and addition of new data streams, etc.Digital Ocean will serve as a one stop-solution for all the data related needs of a wide range of users.

Year End Review -2020: Ministry of New and Renewable Energy

Government of India has been driving a vibrant renewable energy programme aimed at achieving energy security, energy access and reducing the carbon footprints of the national economy. This is in line with India’s commitments under the 2015 Paris Agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions intensity by 33 to 35 percent below 2005 levels, and to achieve 40 percent of installed electric power capacity from non-fossil sources by 2030. With progressively declining costs, improved efficiency and reliability renewable energy is now an attractive option for meeting the energy needs across different sectors of the economy. However, renewable energy technologies are still evolving in terms of technological maturity and cost competitiveness, and face numerous market related, economic and social barriers.

India’s total renewable energy installed capacity (excluding hydro power above 25 MW) had reached over 89.63 GW. During the last 6 years, India has witnessed the fastest rate of growth in renewable energy capacity addition among all large economies, with renewable energy capacity growing by 2.5 times and solar energy expanding by over 13 times.Renewable energy now constitutes over 24 per cent of the country’s installed power capacity and around 11.62 per cent of the electrical energy generation. If large hydro is included, the share of renewable energy in electric installed capacity would be over 36 percent and over 26 per cent of the electric energy generation. Around 49.59 GW renewable energy capacity is under installation, and an additional 27.41 GW capacity has been tendered. This makes the total capacity that is already commissioned and in the pipe line about 166.63 GW. Further, large hydro power, which has also been declared as renewable energy has about 45 GW hydro installed capacity and 13 GW capacity under installation. This brings our total renewable energy portfolio of installed and in pipeline projects to 221 GW.

National Solar Mission (NSM): Harnessing solar energy is one the major component of India’s renewable energy strategy. Most parts of India receive abundant solar radiation and the country has an estimated solar energy potential of about 750 GW solar power. Numerous facilitative programmes and schemes under the Mission have driven the grid connected solar power installed capacity from 25 MW in the year 2010-11 to about 36.32 GW as on 31st October 2020. An additional 58.31 GW solar power capacity is currently under installation/ tendering process.

Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (PM-KUSUM): PM-KUSUM Scheme is an ambitious scheme consisting of three components for providing water and energy security to farmers and enhancing their income by making Annadata also aUrjadata. During the budget for 2020-21 expansion of scheme was announced to increase quantity of standalone solar pumps covered under the scheme from 17.5 lakh to 20 lakh pumps and quantity of solarisation of grid connected pumps from 10 lakh to 15 lakh. With expansion the target solar capacity under the Scheme has increased to 30.8 GW from earlier 25.8 GW.

Solar Parks Scheme: To facilitate large scale grid connected solar power projects, a scheme for “Development of Solar Parks and Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects” is under implementation with a target capacity of 40 GW capacity by March 2022. Solar parks provide solar power developers with a plug and play model, by facilitating necessary infrastructure like land, power evacuation facilities, road connectivity, water facility etc. along with all statuary clearances.

Wind Power: India’s wind power potential at hub height of 120 meters is 695 GW. The wind power installed capacity has grown by 1.8 times during past 6.5 years to about 38.26 GW (as on 31st October 2020) and India now has the 4th largest wind power capacity in the world. The wind energy sector is led by the indigenous wind power industry with a strong project ecosystem, operation capabilities and a manufacturing base of about 10 GW per annum. 

Scheme for procurement of blended wind power from 2500 MW ISTS connected projects: The objective of the Scheme is to provide a framework for procurement of electricity from 2500 MW ISTS Grid Connected Wind Power Projects with up to 20% blending with Solar PV Power through a transparent process of bidding. Solar Energy Corporation of India Ltd. (SECI) is the nodal agency for implementation of the Scheme. It has provisions for payment security mechanism, commission schedule, power offtake constraints, power purchase agreement, etc. 

Green Energy Corridor: In order to facilitate renewable power evacuation and reshaping the grid for future requirements, the Green Energy Corridor (GEC) projects have been initiated. The present efforts are focused on strengthening institutions, resources and protocols, and investing judiciously in grid infrastructure.

Policies and Initiatives: 

  1. To create a pan-India renewable energy market and encourage setting up of the renewable energy projects in high renewable resource potential areas, in September 2016, waiver of Inter State Transmission System charges and losses for sale of power from solar and wind power projects was notified. This waiver has been extended to projects to be commissioned up to 30 June 2023.
  2. Competitive Bidding guidelines for procurement of solar and wind power have been notified under section 63 of Electricity Act, 2003. These Guidelines provide for standardization and uniformity of the procurement process and a risk-sharing framework between various stakeholders, thereby encouraging investments, enhancing bankability of projects and improving profitability. The Guidelines also facilitate transparency and fairness in the procurement processes which have resulted in the drastic fall in solar and wind power prices over the past few years
  3. Solar rooftop systems have been promoted in commercial /industrial/Govt. sector /residential sector through policy and regulatory interventions e.g. mandatory solar provision in the Model Building bye-laws of MoHUA and concessional financing arrangement through Banks/FIs in addition to central financial assistance for residential sector and achievement based incentives to DISCOMs. 
  4. Foreign investors can enter into joint venture with an Indian partner for financial and/or technical collaboration and for setting up of renewable energy-based power generation projects. Upto 100 per cent foreign investment as equity qualifies for automatic approval.
  5. To build investor trust by ensuring payment security and tackle the risks related to delays in payments to independent power producers, DISCOMs have been mandated to issue and maintain letter of credit (LCs);
  6. For quality assurance, standards for deployment of solar photovoltaic systems/devices have been notified.
  7. Renewable energy projects have been given priority sector lending status for loans up to a limit of Rs 30 crore.
  8. Off-grid applications are promoted through provision of subsidies from the central government.
  9. Efforts have been undertaken to strengthen and expand the domestic manufacturing eco-system. 

Year End Review -2020-Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas

  • 14.13 Crore free of cost cylinders provided to PMUY beneficiaries during Covid-19
  • 11 blocks having area of 19,789 sq. km. awarded under OALP bid Round V
  • BS-VI standard in auto fuels implemented in the country w.e.f. 01.04.2020
  • 1544 Kms of pipelines have been laid as part of the National Gas Grid in 2020
  • Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) Programme: The price of ethanol from sugar has been raised by Rs. 3.17 per litre, B Heavy molasses by Rs. 3.34 per litre and from C-Heavy molasses by Rs. 1.94 per litre.
  • Sustainable Alternative Towards Affordable Transportation (SATAT): Sustainable Alternative Towards Affordable Transportation (SATAT)” initiative was launched wherein Oil and Gas Marketing Companies are inviting Expression of Interest (EoI) from potential entrepreneur to procure Compressed Bio Gas (CBG). 

Year End Review -2020: Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways

  • Ministry of Shipping renamed as Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways
  • Hazira-GhoghaRoPAX Ferry inaugurated connecting South Gujarat and Saurashtra region of Gujarat;
  • First Sea plane of India started its operations with innovative floating jetty made by IWAI;
  • Vadhavan Port to be developed as a new Major Port;
  • New dispute redressal institutional mechanism ‘SAROD-Ports’ established;
  • National Authority for Ships Recycling established

SAGARMALA PROGRAMME

To harness the coastline, 14,500 km of potentially navigable waterways and strategic location on key international maritime trade routes, the Government of India has embarked on the ambitious Sagarmala Programme to promote port-led development in the country. 

The vision of the Programme is to reduce logistics cost of EXIM and domestic trade with minimal infrastructure investment. This includes

  • Reducing the cost of transporting domestic cargo
  • Lowering logistical cost of bulk commodities by locating future industrial capacities near the coast
  • Improving export competitiveness by developing port proximate discrete manufacturing clusters, etc. 

The Sagarmala programme has identified 504 projects under four pillars – 211 port modernization projects, 199 port connectivity projects, 32 port-led industrialization projects and 62 coastal community development projects which can unlock the opportunities for port-led development and are expected to mobilize more than Rs. 3.57 Lac Cr of infrastructure investment.

In the last 15 months (July 2019 – October 2020), 20 Sagarmala projects worth Rs. 4,543 crore have been completed which comprise 9 projects of Port Modernization worth Rs. 1,405crore, 7 Port Connectivity projects worth Rs. 2,799 crore and 4 Coastal Community Development projects worth Rs. 339 crore.

Challenges faced by the shipping and ports sector and recent policy initiatives

  • Improvement in port governance
  • Low capacity utilization
  • Improvement in port efficiency
  • Improvement in port connectivity

SHIPPING: Achievements in the shipping sector 

  1. Government has reduced GST from 18% to 5% on bunker fuel for both coastal vessels and foreign going vessels.  
  2. Government has brought parity in the tax regime of Indian seafarers employed on Indian flag ships vis-à-vis those on foreign flag ships. 
  3. Indian shipping industry has been provided cargo support through Right of First Refusal
  4. In order to assist Indian flag vessels to efficiently offer coastal transportation services between the East Coast and West Coast of India, including North East India as well as carriage of EXIM cargo to/from Sri Lanka/Bangladesh and India, the Government has allowed carriage of coastal cargo from one Indian port to another Indian port via foreign ports in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.   
  5. Due to limited availability of return cargo on most of the coastal shipping routes, the cost of repositioning of empty containers was high, which increases the total logistic cost of coastal shipping.  With a view to reduce the logistic cost of coastal shipping, Government has allowed use of Imported Containers for carrying domestic cargo.
  6. In order to provide level playing field between the tax treatment on EXIM containers owned by foreign shipping lines and domesticated containers, Government has allowed use of locally manufactured or domesticated ISO containers conforming to the specifications from the International Organization (ISO), for transportation of EXIM cargo.
  7. Government has removed licensing requirement for chartering of foreign registered ships for encouraging coastal movement of agriculture and other commodities, fertilizers, EXIM laden Transshipment Containers and Empty containers, etc.

Coastal Shipping: Besides being fuel-efficient and environment friendly, Coastal shipping is capable of transporting large volumes of cargoes vis-a-vis other modes of transport and is potentially the cheapest mode of transport. However, due to certain intrinsic impediments, the share of coastal shipping in India is around 6%, which is much lower than that of developed countries.

Ramayan Cruise: Ramayan Cruise Tour’ on the Saryu river in Ayodhya will be launched soon.

Lighthouses as Tourism Attraction: A high level meeting was held for developing around 194 existing lighthouses across India as Major tourist attractions. It will boost the tourism activities in lighthouses surrounding areas and give an opportunity to know about the enriched history of lighthouses.

National Maritime Heritage Complex: A world class National Maritime Heritage Complex will be developed at Lothal, Gujarat Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the Ministry of Shipping of Government of Indian and Ministry of National Defence, Republic of Portugal.

Year End Review 2020- Ministry of Coal

  • Coal Sector Reforms introduced ease of doing business while retaining transparency
  • Commercial coal mine auctions: 19 blocks successfully auctioned in November 2020
  • Ministry along with stakeholders is actively pursuing to achieve Import Substitution
  • Progressing towards 1 Billion Tonne Coal Production
  • First Mile Connectivity: Ease of living in coal mine areas-aims to ease the life of people residing in coal mine areas by reducing traffic congestion, road accidents, adverse effects on environment and health around coal mines and by enhancing coal handling efficiency through employing alternate transport methods like mechanized conveyor system and computerized loading into railway rakes. Coal companies have formulated a strategy to develop an integrated approach for eliminating road transportation of coal in the mines.
  • Diversification: NLCIL ventures into new sectors
    • New Business Areas (Diversification) to transform CIL/NLCIL from coal companies to energy companies
    • Clean Coal Technologies (Technology-related) to provide sustainability to coal business
    • Coal Mining Projects (Core business) to help achieve 1 Billion Tonne coal production by 2024 and create essential related infrastructure
  • Green initiatives such as CBM exploitation and surface coal gasification taken up. Implementation of the coal reforms will ensure India’s commitment to protect the environment and get coal a continuing acceptability and help it earn some respectability.
    • Coal Bed Methane: It means a natural gas trapped in a coal seam. Coal bed Methane (CBM), an unconventional source of natural gas is now considered as an alternative source for augmenting India’s energy resource. India has the fifth largest proven coal reserves in the world and thus holds significant prospects for exploration and exploitation of CBM. In order to harness CBM potential in the country, Government has undertaken several initiatives including the CBM policy.
    • Surface coal gasification: India has a reserve of 289 Billion tonnes of non-coking coal and about 80% of coal produced is used in thermal power plants. Coal gasification is considered as cleaner option as compared to burning of coal and utilises the chemical properties of coal. Syn Gas produced from Coal gasification can be utilised in producing Synthetic Natural Gas (SNG), energy fuel (methanol & ethanol), production of urea for fertilisers and production of Chemicals such as Acetic Acid, Methyl Acetate, Acetic Anhydride, DME, Ethylene and Propylene, Oxo chemicals and Poly Olefins. These products will help in import substitution and help the mission of Government of Atmanirbhar Bharat.
    • Improving public perception of coal mining via Coal Mine Tourism
    • 4 Eco Parks likely to be completed in 2021-22 and 2 each in 2022-23 and 2023-24.
    • Bio-reclamation /Bio recovery of Mined-out areas (Ha)
    • Supply of mine water for domestic use and utilize mine water for potable and irrigation purposes
  • Import substitution is one of the topmost priorities of the Govt. of India presently. An Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) has been constituted for the purpose. 

Launch of TiHAN-IIT Hyderabad’- India’s first Test bed for Autonomous Navigation Systems (Terrestrial and Aerial)

The Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, has sanctioned Rs. 135 crores to IIT Hyderabad under the National Mission on Interdisciplinary Cyber-Physical Systems (NM-ICPS) to set up a Technology Innovation Hub on Autonomous Navigation and Data Acquisition Systems (UAVs, RoVs, etc.). 

TiHAN Foundation, established at IIT Hyderabad, is a multi-departmental initiative, including researchers from Electrical, Computer Science, Mechanical and Aerospace, Civil, Mathematics, and Design at IIT Hyderabad with collaboration and support from reputed institutions and industry. It is a great step towards ‘AtmaNibhar Bharat’, ‘Skill India’ and ‘Digital India’. With an essential focus on the research and development of interdisciplinary technologies in the specific domain area of “Autonomous Navigation and Data Acquisition Systems,” this hub focuses on addressing various challenges hindering the real-time adoption of unmanned autonomous vehicles for both terrestrial and aerial applications

One major requirement to make unmanned and connected vehicles more acceptable to the consumer society is to demonstrate its performance in real-life scenarios. However, it may become dangerous. Especially in terms of safety, to directly use the operational roadway facilities as experimental test tracks for unmanned and connected vehicles. In general, both UAV and UGV testing may include crashes and collisions with obstacles, resulting in damage to costly sensors and other components. Hence, it is important to test new technologies developed in a safe, controlled environment before deployment.

Several organizations worldwide have developed test beds or proving grounds to investigate the functioning of unmanned and connected vehicles in a controlled environment by replicating different scenarios, ranging from frequently occurring to extreme cases that may ensue in real-life traffic operations. At present, there is no such test bed facility in India to evaluate the autonomous navigation of vehicles. Therefore, it is envisioned to address this gap by developing a fully functional and exemplary test bed facility dedicated to Connected Autonomous Vehicles – CAVsin a portion of the beautiful IIT Hyderabad campus. The hub’s focus sectors include Intelligent, Autonomous Transportation and Systems, Agriculture, Surveillance, and Environmental & Infrastructure Monitoring.


Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Mumbai develops Eye Cancer therapy in the form of the first indigenous Ruthenium 106 Plaque for treatment of Ocular Tumours

(Topic: Science and Technology)

The handling of plaque is very convenient for the Surgeon and it has been acknowledged to be at par with the international standards.

The BARC plaques made in India through the Department of Atomic Energy have been used for seven cases for Ocular Cancer, out of which two were Retinoblastoma, two were Choroidal Melanoma, two Ocular Surface Squamous Neoplasia (OSSN) and one case of Choroidal Hemangioma. The Plaque handling is very much Surgeon-friendly and the preliminary results are very satisfactory, according to him.


DRDO Young Scientists Laboratory Develops Quantum based technology for Random Number Generation

(Topic: Science and Technology)

Random numbers have essential roles in many fields, such as Quantum Communication, cryptography (key generation, key wrapping, authentication etc.), scientific simulations, lotteries and fundamental physics experiments. The generation of genuine randomness is generally considered impossible with classical means. Quantum Mechanics has the inherent potential of providing true random numbers and thus has become the preferred option for the scientific applications requiring randomness.           

DRDO Young Scientist Laboratory for Quantum Technologies (DYSL-QT) has developed a Quantum Random Number Generator (QRNG) which detects random quantum events and converts those into a stream of binary digits. The Laboratory has developed a fiber-optic branch path based QRNG. Branch path based QRNG is based on the principle that if a single photon is incident on a balanced beam splitter, it will take either of the beam-splitter output paths randomly. As the path chosen by photon is random, the randomness is translated to sequence of bits.

QRNG system developed by the laboratory has passed the global randomness testing standards viz. NIST and Die-harder Statistical Test Suites at the speed of ~150 kbps after post-processing. The generated random numbers are also evaluated and verified using DRDO’s indigenously developed Randomness Testing Statistical Test Suite of SAG.  With this development India enters the club of countries who have the technology to achieve the generation of random numbers based on the Quantum Phenomenon

Prelims-oriented News

100th Kisan Rail: From Sangola in Maharashtra to Shalimar in West Bengal

India’s first-ever driverless train operations: On Delhi Metro’s Magenta Line

Inauguration of Country’s First Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine: The vaccine “Pneumosil” has been developed by the Serum Institute of India Private Limited (SIIPL) in collaboration with partners like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

MISSION SAGAR III – INS KILTAN ARRIVES AT SIHANOUKVILLE, CAMBODIA

Indian Naval Ship Kiltan arrived at Sihanoukville Port, Cambodia on 29 December 2020 as part of ongoing Mission Sagar-III. 

  • The ship will deliver 15 Tons of Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) Stores for the flood-affected people of Cambodia, which will be handed over to Cambodia’s National Disaster Management Committee (NDMC). 
  • This assistance is reflective of the deep people-to-people connect between the two friendly countries.
  • Mission Sagar-III is part of India’s HADR assistance to Friendly Foreign Countries during the ongoing pandemic. 

National Medicinal Plants Board Launches Consortia for Medicinal Plants

National Medicinal Plants Board (NMPB), Ministry of AYUSH envisages the necessity of connectivity between stakeholders in the supply chain and value chain of Medicinal Plants.

NMPB Consortia will address/deliberate (not limited to) on Quality Planting Material, Research & Development, Cultivation, Trade of medicinal plants/market linkage etc.

  • To establish the linkage between the farmers and manufacturers, a ‘Seed to Shelf’ approach is being introduced, wherein, aspects related to Quality Planting Materials (QPM), Good Agriculture Practices (GAP’s), Good Post Harvest Practices (GPHP’s) would be addressed.
  • In the first phase NMPB consortia is proposed for medicinal plant species – Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Pippali (Piper longum), Aonla (Phyllanthus emblica), Guggulu (Commiphora wightii), Satavari (Asparagus racemosus).

Giant Rock Bee Honey, a Unique Variant of Honey Sourced From Malayali Tribes of Tamil Nadu Added to Tribes India Collection

More than 35 new, attractive, immunity-boosting tribal products have found a new home in Tribes India outlets and website in the 8th edition of “From Our Home to your Home”’ campaign. The campaign had been launched 8 weeks back by TRIFED under Ministry of Tribal Affairs in order to source as many effective, natural, and attractive products from diverse indigenous tribes across the country so that these can reach a wide variety of audience.

Malayali is a tribal group from the Eastern Ghats in North Tamil Nadu. With a population of around 3,58,000 people they are the largest Scheduled tribes in that region. The tribals are usually hill farmers and they cultivate different types of millet.

International Blue Flag hoisted at 8 beaches across the Country

India secured the International Blue Flag Certification for the beaches on 6th October 2020, when an International Jury comprising of member organizations UNEP, UNWTO, UNESCO, IUCN, ILS, FEE etc. announced the award at Copenhagen, Denmark. 

Blue Flag certification is a globally recognised eco-label accorded by “Foundation for Environment Education in Denmark” based on 33 stringent criteria. Neat and clean beaches are an indicator that the coastal environment is in good health and the Blue Flag certification is a global recognition of India’s conservation and sustainable development efforts.

Cleaning beaches needs to be a made a “Jan Andolan”not only for its aesthetic value and tourism prospects, but more importantly towards reducing the menace of marine litter and making coastal environment sustainable.

The beaches where the International Blue Flags were hoisted are: Kappad (Kerala), Shivrajpur (Gujarat), Ghoghla (Diu), Kasarkod and Padubidri (Karnataka), Rushikonda (Andhra Pradesh), Golden (Odisha) and Radhanagar (Andaman & Nicobar Islands).

India started its journey of sustainable development of coastal regions on World Environment Day in June’ 2018 by launching its beach cleaning campaign – I-AM- SAVING-MY-BEACH simultaneously at 13 coastal states and thereafter implementing ministry’s coveted program BEAMS(Beach Environment & Aesthetics Management Services).

Year End Review 2020 –Ministry of Steel

  • Steel Import Monitoring System extended to all HS codes
  • Approval of Production Linked Incentive Scheme for specialty steel
  • Supply of steel to MSMEs at export parity price
  • Enhancing the availability of Quality Steel to the users: Quality Control Order on Steel issued
  • Amendments / additions to the Policy notified for Providing Preference to Domestically Manufactured Iron & Steel Products in Government Procurement
  • India and Japan signed Memorandum of Cooperation in the field of Steel Industry

Technology based startups played a crucial role in converting India from importer to second largest manufacturer of PPEs

A range of low cost innovative technologies developed and scaled up by start-ups from different corners of the country played a crucial role in India emerging globally as a the second largest Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) manufacturer in the world’s battle against COVID-19.

PPEs like masks, face shields especially those used by medical professionals as protection from infection as they tackle the health emergency is a crucial shield in the battle against COVID 19. India had been importing PPEs at the start of the pandemic period, but a range of technologies like affordable mask making machines, low cost masks, reusable anti-viral and anti-bacterial masks, safety masks specifically designed for health workers by start-ups helped the country to turn the tables and start exporting them.

Quotes:

The Vice President, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu 

Vice President calls for mass media campaign to educate people on single use plastics

Problem is not with plastics, the problem lies in our attitude towards handling of plastics

Polymers have increased the quality of life immensely

Appreciated the importance of plastics during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as they have been used extensively in manufacturing of medical protection equipment and PPE kits, which have played a significant role in preventing its spread. 

Polymeric materials are also being used widely to create medical tools and devices like insulin pens, IV tubes, implants and tissue engineering as well.

Underlining the importance of polymers in Indian economy, he said that 30,000 plus plastics processing units are employing over four million people across the country. He also mentioned that with an average national consumption of roughly 12 kilograms per capita per year, India ranks among the top five consumers of polymers in the world.

Observing that the demand for polymers is growing by 8%, the Vice President said that the global petrochemical industry is projected to reach USD 958.8 billion by 2025. He opined that various Government programs like Make in India and Start-up India will go a long way in creating the ecosystem for the next-generation research and indigenous technological advancements in the Petrochemical sector.

The Vice President said that the availability of domestically manufactured raw materials is one of the major strengths of the polymer industry which will help in its growth. Terming the current trend in India’s plastics exports as highly encouraging, he said that the Indian plastics export industry has always offered excellent potential in terms of capacity, infrastructure, and skilled manpower.

The Challenge: While India is one of 63 countries with EPR, its guidelines for the same continue to be vague. There isn’t much clarity on how much of single-use plastic a company puts out needs to be taken back by it.

  • There is no mechanism to implement EPR. Even if the government chooses to ban certain plastics, there is a big question mark on how effective it will be. Plastic is cheap and convenient, and as long as there is demand for it, people are going to manufacture it.
  • Unlike urban local bodies, gram panchayats may not have the resources to do routine checks on plastic use. Maharashtra is among the 23 states that have fully or partially banned plastic bags, but that has not stopped people from using them.
  • The cigarette butt is the most commonly found litter on beaches and in rivers and lakes. A global coastal clean-up drive in 2018 found 5.7 million of them.

Plastic waste management

The Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016 notified by the Centre called for a ban on “non-recyclable and multi-layered” packaging by March 2018, and a ban on carry bags of thickness less than 50 microns (which is about the thickness of a strand of human hair). The Rules were amended in 2018, with changes that activists say favoured the plastic industry and allowed manufacturers an escape route. The 2016 Rules did not mention SUPs.

Single-use plastic alternatives

There is no viable alternative as of now for single-use plastic items.  The alternative to single-use plastic items, especially single-use plastic bottles, which are used to sell packaged drinking water, needs to be affordable for the consumers. A drinking water bottle, which costs Rs 20 currently, cannot be priced higher than that. Further, customers have shown confidence in the sealed water bottles over the years and hence, the alternative should also be up to the mark. 

Since recycling of plastic is not a permanent solution, manufacturers of single-use plastic have been asked to look for other alternatives that are biodegradable. Railway ministry, which manufactures and sells packaged drinking water ‘Rail Neer’ is also looking for alternatives including polymers to make their packaging biodegradable.  

Are alternatives such as compostable or biodegradable plastics viable?

Although compostable, biodegradable or even edible plastics made from various materials such as bagasse (the residue after extracting juice from sugarcane), corn starch, and grain flour are promoted as alternatives, these currently have limitations of scale and cost.

Some biodegradable packaging materials require specific microorganisms to be broken down, while compostable cups and plates made of polylactic acid, a popular resource derived from biomass such as corn starch, require industrial composters. On the other hand, articles made through a different process involving potato and corn starch have done better in normal conditions, going by the experience in Britain. Seaweed is also emerging as a choice to make edible containers.

In India, though, in the absence of robust testing and certification to verify claims made by producers, spurious biodegradable and compostable plastics are entering the marketplace. In January this year, the CPCB said that 12 companies were marketing carry bags and products marked ‘compostable’ without any certification, and asked the respective State Pollution Control Boards to take action on these units.

A ban on single-use plastic items would have to therefore lay down a comprehensive mAechanism to certify the materials marketed as alternatives, and the specific process required to biodegrade or compost them. A movement against plastic waste would have to prioritise the reduction of single-use plastic such as multi-layer packaging, bread bags, food wrap, and protective packaging. Consumers often have no choice in the matter. Other parts of the campaign must focus on tested biodegradable and compostable alternatives for plates, cutlery and cups, rigorous segregation of waste and scaled up recycling. City municipal authorities play a key role here.

The Way Ahead – How to get rid of the plastic menace?

  • Leading a grassroots movement to support the adoption of a global framework to regulate plastic pollution.
  • Educating, mobilising and activating citizens across the globe to demand that governments and corporations control and clean up plastic pollution.
  • Educating people worldwide to take personal responsibility for plastic pollution by choosing to reject, reduce, reuse and recycle plastics.
  • Promoting local government regulatory and other efforts to tackle plastic pollution.
  • Education and responsibility are only one side of the coin, however; the other side is infrastructure. The technology to create a circular economy by means of recycling does in fact exist, but the infrastructure needed to fully implement it is seriously lacking. Of all the plastic waste produced in the world, less than 10% is recovered due in large part to the lack of infrastructure both at home and abroad.

For a dedicated peer group, Motivation & Quick updates, Join our official telegram channel – https://t.me/IASbabaOfficialAccount

Search now.....