30 Apr 2019

SNIPPETS

INDIAN HISTORY

  1. Khirki Mosque

The Archaeological Survey of India (Delhi Circle) of Ministry of Culture has discovered a hoard of 254 Copper Coins in the premises of Khirki Mosque during the course of conservation of the monument.

This mosque lies on the southern periphery of the village Khirki.

The mosque was built by Khan-i-Jahan Junan Shah, the Prime Minister of Firoz Shah Tughluq (1351-88), and is believed to be one of the seven mosques built by him.

Features of the fort:

Built with rubble stone, and thickly plastered, the Khirki Mosque is double-storeyed. The lower storey consisting only of a series of basement cells.

Battered bastions occupy its four corners, imparting it the look of a fortified building. Gateways project from its three sides, except on the west, each flanked by tapering minarets, the main entrance being from the east.

Corresponding with the openings of cells on the lower storey, the upper storey contains perforated windows (khirkis), which have given it its present name.

This ingenious way of covering the courtyard is repeated only in one other mosque erected by the same builder. These two are the only examples of closed mosques in northern India.

  1. 75th anniversary of the formation of Azad Hind Government

75th anniversary of the formation of Azad Hind Government was celebrated on 21st October, 2018, at the Red Fort, Delhi.

The Azad Hind Government, founded on 21st October, 1943 was inspired by Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose who was the leader of Azad Hind Government and also the Head of State of this Provisional Indian Government-in-exile.

It was a part of the freedom movement, originating in 1940s outside India with a purpose of allying with Axis powers to free India from British rule. The existence of the Azad Hind Government gave a greater legitimacy to the independence struggle against the British. Pertinently, the role of Azad Hind Fauj or the Indian National Army (INA) had been crucial in bequeathing a much needed impetus to India’s struggle for Independence.

  1. Important Festivals of North East India

Assam

Ambubasi festival, Bohag Bihu, Baishagu festival, Majuli festival, Dehing Patkai festival and Pragjyothi dance festival

Manipur

Yaoshang and Chavang Kut

Meghalaya

Nongkrem Dance Festival, Wangala Festival, Bob Dylan festival and Ahaia festival

Mizoram

Chapchar Kut Festival

Nagaland

Hornbill Festival and Moatsu festival

Sikkim

Saga Dawa

Tripura

Kharchi Puja

Arunachal Pradesh

Solung, Losar Festival, Murung, Reh, Mopin, Boori Boot and Monpa festival

  1. Swadesh Darshan Scheme

It is one among the flagship schemes of the Ministry of Tourism for development of thematic circuits in the country in a planned and prioritised manner.

It focuses on development of quality infrastructure in the country with objective of providing better experience and facilities to the visitors on one hand and on other hand fostering the economic growth.

The scheme was launched in 2014 -15 and 13 thematic circuits have been identified for development.

They are: Buddhist Circuit, North-East India Circuit, Coastal Circuit, Himalayan Circuit, Krishna Circuit, Desert Circuit, Eco Circuit, Wildlife Circuit, Tribal Circuit, Rural Circuit, Spiritual Circuit, Ramayana Circuit and Heritage Circuit.

Under the plan scheme ‘Swadesh Darshan’ the Ministry of Tourism provides Central Financial Assistance (CFA) to State Governments/Union Territory Administrations, for various tourism projects subject to availability of funds, liquidation of pending utilization certificates and adherence to the scheme guidelines.

The scheme is 100% centrally funded for the project components undertaken for public funding.

  • To leverage the voluntary funding available for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives of Central Public Sector Undertakings and the corporate sector.
  • Funding of individual project will vary from state to state and will be finalized on the basis of detailed project reports prepared by PMC (Programme Management Consultant).
  • A National Steering Committee (NSC) will be constituted with Minister in charge of M/O Tourism as Chairman, to steer the mission objectives and vision of the scheme.
  • A Mission Directorate headed by the Member Secretary, NSC as a nodal officer will help in identification of projects in consultation with the States/ UTs governments and other stakeholders.
  • PMC will be a national level consultant to be appointed by the Mission Directorate

Circuits inaugurated in 2018-2019

  • Tribal Circuit: Peren-Kohima-Wokha Project was inaugurated under Swadesh Darshan Scheme in Nagaland
  • Eco Circuit: Pathanamthitta – Gavi – Vagamon – Thekkady project at Vagamon, Kerala on 17th February 2019.
  1. Swachh Iconic Places

 The Swachh Iconic Places is an initiative under the Swachh Bharat Mission.

It is a special clean-up initiative focused on select iconic heritage, spiritual and cultural places in the country.

The initiative is being coordinated by the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation in association with the Ministry of Urban Development, Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Tourism and the concerned State governments.

Phase I coverage of iconic places

  • Vaishno Devi, Jammu and Kashmir
  • Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Maharashtra
  • Taj Mahal, Uttar Pradesh
  • Tirupati Temple, Andhra Pradesh
  • Golden Temple, Punjab
  • Manikarnika Ghat, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
  • Ajmer Sharif Dargah, Rajasthan
  • Meenakshi Temple, Tamil Nadu
  • Kamakhya Temple, Assam
  • Jagannath Puri, Odisha

Phase II coverage of iconic places

  • Gangotri
  • Yamunotri
  • Mahakaleshwar Temple, Ujjain
  • Char Minar, Hyderabad
  • Church and Convent of St. Francis of Assissi, Goa
  • Adi Shankaracharya’s abode Kaladi in Ernakulam
  • Gomateshwar in Shravanbelgola
  • Baijnath Dham, Devghar
  • Gaya Tirth in Bihar
  • Somnath temple in Gujarat.

Phase III coverage iconic places

  • Raghavendra Swamy Temple (Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh)
  • Hazardwari Palace (Murshidabad, West Bengal)
  • Brahma Sarovar Temple (Kurukshetra, Haryana)
  • VidurKuti (Bijnor, Uttar Pradesh)
  • Mana village (Chamoli, Uttarakhand)
  • Pangong Lake (Leh-Ladakh, J&K)
  • Nagvasuki Temple (Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh)
  • ImaKeithal/market (Imphal, Manipur)
  • Sabarimala Temple (Kerala)
  • Kanvashram (Uttarakhand)
  1. Adopt a Heritage Scheme

The ‘Adopt a Heritage: Apni Dharohar, Apni Pehchaan’ scheme is an initiative of the Ministry of Tourism, in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture and the Archaeological Survey of India.

It was launched in September 2017 on World Tourism Day.

Under it, the government invites entities, including public sector companies, private sector firms as well as individuals, to develop selected monuments and heritage and tourist sites across India.

It aims to involve public sector companies, private sector companies and corporate citizens/individuals to take up the responsibility for making our heritage and tourism more sustainable through development, operation and maintenance of world-class tourist infrastructure and amenities at ASI/ State heritage sites and other important tourist sites in India.

They would become ‘Monument Mitras’ through the innovative concept of “Vision Bidding”, where the agency with best vision  for the heritage site will be given an opportunity to associate pride with their CSR activities.

The priority areas of Programme are listed as under:

  • Developing basic tourism infrastructure
  • Promoting cultural and heritage value of the country to generate livelihoods in the identified regions
  • Enhancing the tourist attractiveness in a sustainable manner by developing world-class infrastructure at the heritage monument sites
  • Creating employment through active involvement of local communities
  • Harnessing tourism potential for its effects in employment generation and economic development
  • Developing sustainable tourism infrastructure and ensuring proper Operations and Maintenance therein.
  1. 37th UNESCO-World Heritage site

 India’s nomination of the “Victorian and Art Deco Ensembles of Mumbai” has been inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list.

The decision was taken at the 42nd session of the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO at Manama in Bahrain today. As recommended by the World Heritage Committee, India accepted the renaming of the ensemble as “Victorian Gothic and Art Deco Ensembles of Mumbai”. 

This makes Mumbai city the second city in India after Ahmedabad to be inscribed on the World Heritage List. In the past 5 years alone, India has managed to get inscribed seven of its properties/sites on the World Heritage List of UNESCO. India now has overall 37 World Heritage Inscriptions with 29 Cultural, 07 Natural and 01 Mixed sites.

SOCIETY

  1. SDG India Index: Baseline Report 2018

The NITI Aayog has released the Baseline Report of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) India Index 2018, documenting the progress made by India’s States and Union Territories (UTs) towards implementation of the 2030 SDG targets.

The SDG India Index was developed in collaboration with the Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation (MoSPI), Global Green Growth Institute and United Nations in India.

  • The index comprises a composite score for each State and Union Territory based on their aggregate performance across 13 of the 17 SDGs. The score, ranging between 0 and 100, denotes the average performance of the State/UT towards achieving the 13 SDGs and their respective targets.
  • The aim of the index is to instil competition among States to improve their performance across social indices as the States’ progress will determine India’s progress towards achieving the set goals by 2030. Using the index, States will be monitored on a real-time basis.
  • NITI Aayog has the twin mandate to oversee the implementation of SDGs in the country, and also promote Competitive and Cooperative Federalism among States and UTs. The SDG India Index acts as a bridge between these mandates, aligning the SDGs with the Prime Minister’s clarion call of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, which embodies the five Ps of the global SDG movement – people, planet, prosperity, partnership and peace.

Highlights of the report and performance of various states:

According to the SDG India Index, the nation as a whole has a score of 58, showing the country has reached a little beyond the halfway mark in meeting the sustainable development goals adopted by India and 192 other nations in 2015.

The SDG Index Score for Sustainable Development Goals 2030 ranges between 42 and 69 for States and between 57 and 68 for UTs.

Top 3 states in terms of being on track to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG): Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu.

Kerala and Himachal Pradesh share the top score among the states of 69.

Uttar Pradesh is at the bottom of chart with a score of 42.

Among the UTs, Chandigarh is the front runner with a score of 68.

 2. Gandhi Peace Prize

This is an annual award given to individuals and institutions for their contributions towards social, economic and political transformation through non-violence and other Gandhian methods. 

The Gandhi Peace Prize for the years 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 has been conferred on the following

  • Vivekananda Kendra, Kanyakumari for the year 2015 for their contribution in Rural Development, Education, Development of natural resources.
  • For 2016 jointly to Akshaya Patra Foundation for its contribution in providing mid-day meals to millions of children across India and Sulabh International for its contribution in improving the condition of sanitation in India and emancipation of manual scavengers.
  • Ekal Abhiyan Trust for the year 2017 for their contribution in providing Education for Rural and Tribal Children in remote areas pan India, Rural Empowerment, Gender and Social Equality.
  • Shri Yohei Sasakawa for the year 2018 for his contribution in Leprosy Eradication in India and across the world.

Women

  1. Stree Swabhiman

Stree Swabhiman initiative is striving to create a sustainable model for providing affordable and accessible sanitary products close to the homes of adolescent women and girls in rural areas.

It is an initiative implemented by Common Services Centres under Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY).

The initiative is driven by awareness and personalized outreach by women entrepreneurs who produces and market sanitary napkins themselves.

The initiative aspires to play its part in reducing gender divide in access to development opportunities for women and girls which sadly affects access to education, health and workforce participation.

  1. Swadhar Greh Scheme

Ministry of Women and Child Development implements it, targets the women victims of unfortunate circumstances who are in need of institutional support for rehabilitation so that they could lead their life with dignity.

The Scheme envisages providing shelter, food, clothing and health as well as economic and social security for victims of difficult circumstances which includes widows, destitute women and aged women.

  1. Ujjawala Scheme

It is being implemented for prevention of trafficking and for rescue, rehabilitation, re-integration and repatriation of victims of trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation.

  1. National Nutrition Mission (NNM)

It aims to achieve improvement in nutritional status of children, pregnant women and lactating mothers and reduce anaemia among children and women.

It strives to reduce the level of stunting, under-nutrition, anaemia and low birth weight babies.

  1. Scheme for Adolescent Girls:

It is for out of school adolescent girls aged between 11-14 years.

The scheme aims at providing supplementary nutrition containing 600 calories, 18-20 grams of protein and micronutrients per beneficiary per day for 300 days in a year, motivating out of school girls to go back to formal schooling.

Its non-nutrition component focuses on skill training.

  1. One Stop Centre (OSC) Sakhi Centers

It is to support women affected by violence, aims to facilitate access to an integrated range of services including medical aid, police assistance, legal aid/case management, psychosocial counselling and temporary support services.

  1. Swachh Shakti- 2019

Swachh Shakti-2019 is a national event which aims to bring in to focus the leadership role played by rural women in Swachh Bharat Mission. Women Sarpanches and Panches from all over the country are participants of the event.

Swachh Shakti is an example of how at the grass root level, rural women champions are acting as a change agent to mobilize the community and lead from the front women taking initiatives for a Swachh Bharat.

The movement is a part of ongoing activities under the aegis of the Swachh Bharat Mission, launched on October 2nd, 2014 aimed at achieving a Clean and Open Defecation Free (ODF) India by 2nd October, 2019.

Health

  1. Poshan Abhiyan (Prime Minister’s Overarching Scheme for Holistic Nutrition)

POSHAN Abhiyaan is a multi-ministerial convergence mission with the vision to ensure attainment of malnutrition free India by 2022.

The objective of POSHAN Abhiyaan to reduce stunting in identified Districts of India with the highest malnutrition burden by improving utilization of key Anganwadi Services and improving the quality of Anganwadi Services delivery.

Its aim to ensure holistic development and adequate nutrition for pregnant women, mothers and children.

The Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD) is implementing POSHAN Abhiyaan in 315 Districts in first year, 235 Districts in second year and remaining districts will be covered in the third year.

There are a number of schemes directly/indirectly affecting the nutritional status of children (0-6 year’s age) and pregnant women and lactating mothers. In spite of these, level of malnutrition and related problems in the country is high.

There is no dearth of schemes but lack of creating synergy and linking the schemes with each other to achieve common goal. POSHAN Abhiyaan through robust convergence mechanism and other components would strive to create the synergy.

Pillars of the Mission

  • Convergence: The Abhiyaan is to ensure convergence of all nutrition related schemes of MWCD on the target population. The Abhiyaan will ensure convergence of various programmes.
  • ICDS-CAS: Software based tracking of nutritional status will be done.
  • Behavioural change: The Abhiyaan will be run as a Jan Andolan where mass involvement of people is desired. A community based event will happen once a month to create awareness and address issues.
  • Incentives: Frontline workers will be given incentives for performance.
  • Training and Capacity Building: Incremental Learning Approach will be adopted to teach 21 thematic modules. The training will be given by Master Trainers to frontline workers.
  • Grievance Redressal: A call centre will be setup for ease of access to solutions to any issues faced.

Commitments to the ‘Poshan Abhiyaan’ in improving the nutritional outcomes in this population.

  • Anemia Mukt Bharat:

It aims to reduce prevalence of anemia by 3 percentage points per year among children, adolescents and women in the reproductive age group (15–49 years), between the year 2018 and 2022. The strategy is to reach out to 450 million beneficiaries with specific anemia prevalence targets for year 2022.

  • Home-based Young Child Care:

The HBYC programme has an objective to reduce child mortality and morbidity by improving nutrition status, growth and early childhood development of young children through structured and focused homevisits by ASHAs with the support of Anganwadi workers (AWWs).

  1. Ayushman Bharat – Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana:

The health assurance scheme, which envisions health assurance of 5 lakh rupees per family per year, will benefit over 10 Cr. Families (50 Cr. People).

It is an important reform and progressive step in healthcare sector.

It is an initiative to Address Health Holistically in Primary, secondary and Tertiary care Systems covering both Prevention and Health Promotion.

It is the flagship public healthcare initiative of central government. It includes all the levels of healthcare delivery from primary to tertiary.

It will subsume the on-going centrally sponsored schemes:

  • Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY)
  • Senior Citizen Health Insurance Scheme (SCHIS)

For giving policy directions and fostering coordination between Centre and States, it is proposed to set up Ayushman Bharat National Health Protection Mission Council (AB-NHPMC) at apex level Chaired by Union Health and Family Welfare Minister.

States would need to have State Health Agency (SHA) to implement the scheme.

It has two components:

  • Health and Wellness Centre [HWC]

HWC’S will be upgraded form of primary health centres[PHC].the focus area includes non-communicable diseases and infectious diseases along with neonatal and maternal care.HWC are primarily meant for early detection and prevention. This is significant in sense as burden on secondary and tertiary health system will reduce if early detection takes place, moreover rural areas will benefit as HWC will spread across India.

  • National Health Protection Scheme [NHPS]

NHPS is an insurance scheme which covers costing up to 5 lakh rupees per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization. It will cover 10 crores poor and vulnerable families. The scheme will reduce out of pocket expenditure and offers a choice for treatment at private hospitals.

Strategy of the scheme

  • Establishment of Ayushman Bharat National Health Protection Mission Agency at National Level and State Health Agency to ensure proper implementation of Scheme at National, State and UT levels.
  • The States and UTs can implement scheme through an insurance company or Directly through Trust/Society. This would increase Ambit of the Scheme at Ground levels.

Merits of the scheme

  • A Strong Network of 1.5 Lakhs Health and Wellness Centres across the Country would constitute Foundation of India’s new Healthcare Systems.
  • It will cover more than 10 Crore Poor and Vulnerable Families of the Society.
  • The Support from Trained Nurses and Health Workers increase the Availability near Home in Rural Areas.
  • Vulnerable Sections of the Society would have access to Healthcare to almost all medical and Surgical Conditions that can occur in Lifetime.
  • Package Rates decided by Government for Private Hospitals would help in keeping the cost low.
  • It will generate Employment Especially for Women would help in Economic Empowerment of Women.
  1. National Commission for Homoeopathy, Bill, 2018

National Commission for Homoeopathy, Bill, 2018, seeks to replace the existing regulator Central Council for Homoeopathy (CCH) with a new body to ensure transparency.

About the Draft Bill:

  • The draft bill provides for the constitution of a National Commission with three autonomous boards entrusted with conducting overall education of Homoeopathy by Homoeopathy Education Board.
  • The Board of assessment and rating to assess and grant permission to educational institutions of Homoeopathy and Board of ethics.
  • The registration of practitioners of Homoeopathy to maintain National Register and ethical issues relating to practice are under the National Commission for Homoeopathy.
  • It also proposes a common entrance exam and an exit exam which all graduates will have to clear to get practicing licenses.
  • Further, a teacher’s eligibility test has been proposed to assess the standard of teachers before appointment and promotions.
  • It further aims at bringing reforms in the medical education of Homoeopathy in lines with the National Medical Commission proposed for setting up for Allopathy system of medicine.
  • The CCH had been earlier superseded by Board of Governors through an Ordinance and subsequent amendment of Act.
  1. National Commission for Indian System of Medicine Bill, 2018

The Cabinet has approved the draft National Commission for Indian Systems of Medicine (NCIM) Bill, 2018, which seeks to replace the existing regulator Central Council for Indian Medicine (CCIM) with a new body to ensure transparency.

  • This is on the lines of National Medical Commission Bill that is meant to regulate allopathy medicine system.
  • The NCIM will promote availability of affordable healthcare services in all parts of the country.
  • The Cabinet has also approved the draft National Commission for Homoeopathy Bill, 2018, aimed at replacing the Central Council for Homoeopathy, which is the current regulatory body for homoeopathy.

Salient Features

  • The Bill provides for the constitution of a National Commission with four autonomous boards entrusted with conducting overall education of Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha & Sowarigpa under the Board of Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha and Sowa-Rigpa respectively.

  • In order to ensure transparency the draft bill also proposes a common entrance exam and an exit exam that all graduates will have to clear to obtain their license to practice Indian medicine.
  • Further, a teacher’s eligibility test has been proposed in the Bill to assess the standard of teachers before appointment and promotions.
  • Establishes two common boards – board of assessment and rating to assess and grant permission to educational institutions of Indian systems of medicine; and a board of ethics and registration of practitioners of Indian systems of medicine to maintain a National Register and deal with ethical issues.
  1. Indian Systems of Medicine

  • India has recognized six systems of medicine viz. Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and Yoga, Naturopathy and Homoeopathy.
  • The Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) was formed on 9th November 2014 to ensure the optimal development and propagation of AYUSH systems of healthcare.
  • Earlier it was known as the Department of Indian System of Medicine and Homeopathy (ISM&H) which was created in March 1995 and renamed as Department of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) in November 2003, with focused attention for development of Education and Research in Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy.

Unani System of Medicine

  • Unani system originated in Greece and its foundation was laid by Hippocrates.
  • However, the system owes its present form to the Arabs who not only saved much of the Greek literature by rendering it into Arabic but also enriched the medicine of their day with their own contributions.
  • It was introduced in India by the Arabs and Persians sometime around the eleventh century.
  • India has the largest number of Unani educational, research and health care institutions.

Ayurveda

  • The word ‘Ayurveda’ has derived out of fusion of two separate words- ‘Áyu’ i.e. life and ‘veda’ i.e. knowledge.Thus in literal meaning Ayurveda is the science of life.
  • It aims to keep structural and functional entities in a state of equilibrium, which signifies good health (Swasthya) through various procedures, regimen, diet, medicines and behavior change.

Siddha system

  • Siddha system of medicine is practiced in some parts of South India especially in the state of Tamil Nadu.
  • The term ‘Siddha’ has come from ‘Siddhi’- which means achievement. Siddhars were the men who achieved supreme knowledge in the field of medicine, yoga or tapa (meditation).

Sowa-Rigpa

  • “Sowa-Rigpa” commonly known as Tibetan system of medicine is one of the oldest, living and well documented medical tradition of the world.
  • It has been originated from Tibet and popularly practiced in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Mongolia and Russia. The majority of theory and practice of Sowa-Rigpa is similar to “Ayurveda”.
  • Sowa-Rigpa is based on the principle that bodies of all the living beings and non living objects of the universe are composed of five Cosmo physical elements of Jung-wa-nga (Prithvi, Jal, Agni, Vayu and Akash).
  • When the proportion of these elements is in imbalance in our body, disorder results.
  • It was recognized by the Government in 2011.

Homoeopathy

  • The word ‘Homoeopathy’ is derived from two Greek words, Homois meaning similar and pathos meaning suffering. It was introduced in India in 18th Century.
  • Homoeopathy simply means treating diseases with remedies, prescribed in minute doses, which are capable of producing symptoms similar to the disease when taken by healthy people, i.e.principle of – “Similia Similibus Curantur” which means “likes are cured by likes”.
  • It takes a holistic approach towards the sick individual through promotion of inner balance at mental, emotional, spiritual and physical levels.
  1. National Health Stack

NITI Aayog has invited suggestions on creation of National Health Stack.

Proposed National Health Stack (NHS)

  • The National Health Stack (NHS) envisages a centralized health record for all citizens of the country in order to streamline the health information and facilitate effective management of the same.
  • The proposed NHS is an approach to address the challenge and seeks to employ latest technology including Big Data Analytics and Machine Learning Artificial Intelligence, a state of the art Policy Mark-up Language.
  • It also aims to create a unified health identity of citizens – as they navigate across services across levels of care, i.e. Primary, Secondary and Tertiary and also across Public and Private.

Making Ayushman Bharat more promising

  • This flagship health programme is designed with a powerful yet simple objective in mind: to develop a wellness focused strategy, ensuring cost effective healthcare for all.
  • The program leverages a two-pronged approach:
  • On the supply side, substantial investments will be made to build 1.5 lakh health and wellness centers offering preventive and primary care; and
  • On the demand side, the Pradhan Mantri-Rashtriya Swasthya Suraksha Mission (PM-RSSM) will create a national insurance cover of up to 5 lakhs per year per family for over 10 crores households, towards secondary and tertiary care.

Achieving such scale requires a rethink the core technology backbone of our system and leverage cutting edge digital solutions to tackle the challenge.

Utility of the National Health Stack

  •  The innovativeness of the proposed National Health Stack design lies in its ability to leverage a shared public good – a strong digital spine built with a deep understanding of the incentive structures of the system.
  • Once implemented, it will significantly bring down the costs of health protection, converge disparate systems to ensure a cashless and seamlessly experience for the poorest beneficiaries, and promote wellness across the population.
  • Various layers of the NHS will be seamlessly linked to support national health electronic registries, a coverage and claims platform, a federated personal health records framework, a national health analytics platform as well as other horizontal components.
  • The stack will embrace health management systems of public health programs and socio-demographic data systems.
  • Once implemented, the NHS will significantly bring down the costs of health protection, converge disparate systems to ensure a cashless and seamlessly integrated experience for the poorest beneficiaries, and promote wellness across the population.
  • The NHS proposes to allow states to incorporate horizontal and vertical expansion of scheme, avoid duplication of efforts and enable ease of adoption for those without systems or with dysfunctional systems in place, continue using their own state system while integrating with Rashtriya Swasthya Suraksha Mission (RSSM) via Application Programming Interface (APIs), making migration simple in case of states with more advanced systems.
  • The key components of the NHS includes electronic health registries, coverage and claims platform, digital health ID cards, federated personal health records (PHR) framework and the National Health Analytics Framework.
  1. Janaushadi Suvidha

  • The Centre has launched the oxo-biodegradable sanitary napkins under the Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP).
  • The affordable Suvidha sanitary napkins will be available at over 3200 Janaushadhi Kendras across India.
  • It was launched under government’s vision of providing Affordable and Quality Healthcare for All.
  • It will ensure ‘Swachhta, Swasthya and Suvidha’ for underprivileged women.
  • These affordable sanitary pads promise to promote hygiene, ensure the ease of disposal, and keep the environment clean.
  • Oxo-biodegradable product is made by blending a pro-degrading   additive into it that causes breakdown by oxidation when exposed to heat or sunlight.
  • This will go a long way in making the basic hygiene requirement aid for Women affordable for the underprivileged sections.
  • Not only are these pads, branded ‘Suvidha’, expected to be a third the price of napkins currently available in the market, they will also be environmentally friendly because they are biodegradable.

Education

  1. Impactful Policy Research in Social Science (IMPRESS) scheme

The scheme aims to encourage social science research in policy relevant areas so as to provide vital inputs in policy-formulation, implementation and evaluation.

It is an initiative of the Ministry of Human Resource Development and is being implemented by the Indian Council of Social Science Research.

The broad objectives of the scheme are:

  • To identify and fund research proposals in social sciences with maximum impact on the governance and society.
  • To focus research on 11 broad thematic areas. The sub- theme areas will be decided on the basis of Expert Groups’ advice before notifying the scheme and calling for applications.
  • To ensure selection of projects through a transparent, competitive process on online mode.
  • To provide opportunity for social science researchers in any institution in the country, including all Universities (Central and State), private institutions with 12(B) status conferred by UGC.
  • ICSSR funded/ recognized research institutes will also be eligible to submit research proposals on the given themes and sub-themes.
  1. Unnat Bharath Abhiyan

 Unnat Bharat Abhiyan is inspired by the vision of transformational change in rural development processes by leveraging knowledge institutions to help build the architecture of an Inclusive India.

The Mission of Unnat Bharat Abhiyan is to enable higher educational institutions to work with the people of rural India in identifying development challenges and evolving appropriate solutions for accelerating sustainable growth.

It also aims to create a virtuous cycle between society and an inclusive academic system by providing knowledge and practices for emerging professions and to upgrade the capabilities of both the public and the private sectors in responding to the development needs of rural India.

Goals

  • To build an understanding of the development agenda within institutes of Higher Education and an institutional capacity and training relevant to national needs, especially those of rural India.
  • To re-emphasize the need for field work, stake-holder interactions and design for societal objectives as the basis of higher education.
  • To stress on rigorous reporting and useful outputs as central to developing new professions.
  • To provide rural India and regional agencies with access to the professional resources of the institutes of higher education, especially those that have acquired academic excellence in the field of science, engineering and technology, and management.
  • To improve development outcomes as a consequence of this research. To develop new professions and new processes to sustain and absorb the outcomes of research.
  • To foster a new dialogue within the larger community on science, society and the environment and to develop a sense of dignity and collective destiny.

Major Areas of Intervention

  • Human development
  • Material (economic) development

Under Unnat Bharat Abhiyan (UBA) 2.0

It is a flagship program of MHRD.

688 institutions are selected on a Challenge Mode (426 technical and 262 non- technical) which are reputed Higher Educational Institutes (both public and private) of the country, which have adopted total no. of 3555 villages for their development through UBA.

There is a scope of providing Subject Expert Groups assistance and Regional Coordinating Institutes to handhold and guide the participating institutions have been strengthened.

IIT Delhi has been designated to function as the National Coordinating Institute for this program.

Large number of participating institutes have interacted with villagers, did village and household level surveys and prepared action plans. The challenges and issues have been identified through public participation. Now theses action plans have to be ratified by the Gram Sabhas to be organized on the occasion of Independence Day. IIT Delhi is also organizing 5 Gram Sabhas in its adopted village Panchayats.

  1. Revitalising Infrastructure and Systems in Higher Education (RISE) by 2022:

RISE scheme was announced in Union Budget 2017-18.

It aims to lend low-cost funds to government higher educational institutions. Under it, all centrally-funded institutes (CFIs), including central universities, IITs, IIMs, NITs and IISERs can borrow from Rs.100000 Cr. corpus over next 4 years to expand and build new infrastructure.

It will be financed via restructured Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA), a non-banking financial company.

HEFA has been set up on 31 May 2017 by the Central Government as a Non ­Profit, Non-Banking Financing Company (NBFC) for mobilising extra-budgetary resources for building crucial infrastructure in the higher educational institutions under Central Govt.

In the existing arrangement, the entire principle portion is repaid by the institution over ten years, and the interest portion is serviced by the Government by providing additional grants to the institution.

With introduction of RISE, all financing for infrastructure development at CFIs in higher education will be done through HEFA, which was set up by government as a Section 8 company (a company with charitable objectives) in 2017 to mobilise funds from the market and offer 10-year loans to centrally-run institutes.

Target:

All infrastructure and research projects sanctioned by HEFA are to be completed by December 2022.

Fund Raising:

HEFA will release money directly to vendors or contractors on certification by executing agency and educational institute. Loans taken from HEFA, under the RISE programme, will be paid back over 10 years.

There will be different modes of loan repayment for different institutes, based on their internal revenue.

It has also approved that the modalities for raising money from the market through Government guaranteed bonds and commercial borrowings would be decided in consultation with the Department of Economic Affairs so that the funds are mobilised at the least cost.

Modalities of funding

  • Technical Institutions more than 10 years old:  Repay the whole Principal Portion from the internally generated budgetary resources.
  • Technical Institutions started between 2008 and 2014: Repay 25% of the principal portion from internal resources, and receive grant for the balance of the Principal portion.
  • Central Universities started prior to 2014: Repay 10% of the principal portion from internal resources, and receive grant for the balance of the Principal portion.
  • Newly established   Institutions (started   after   2014):   for   funding construction of permanent campuses: Grant would be provided for complete servicing of loan including the Principal and interest.
  • Other educational institutions and grant-in-aid institutions of Ministry of Health: All the newly set up AIIMSs and other health institutions, the Kendriya Vidyalayas / Navodaya Vidyalayas would be funded and the Department/Ministry concerned will give a commitment for complete servicing of the principal and interest by ensuring adequate grants to the institution.
  1. National Education Mission

All schemes related to literacy / education improvement have been put under the umbrella of National Education Mission by Central Government.

The National Education Mission itself is made of four umbrella schemes as follows:

  • National Education Mission – Sakshar Bharat
  • National Education Misson –  Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan
  • National Education Mission – Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiskha Abhiyan (RMSA)
  • National Education Mission – Teachers Training

Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) is a programme for Universal Elementary Education. This programme is also an attempt to provide an opportunity for improving human capabilities to all children through provision of community -owned quality education in a mission mode.

The Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) is a flagship scheme of Government of India, to enhance access to secondary education and improve its quality. It aims to increase the enrolment rate by providing a secondary school within reasonable distance of every home. It also aims to improve the quality of secondary education by making all secondary schools conform to prescribed norms, removing gender, socio-economic and disability barriers, and providing universal access to secondary level education.

  1. National Digital Library of India

National Digital Library of India (NDLI) is a project of the Ministry of Human Resource Development under the aegis of National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technology (NMEICT).

The objective of NDL is to make digital educational resources available to all citizens of the country to empower, inspire and encourage learning. National Digital Library of India is developed by IIT Kharagpur.

Salient features

  • Educational materials are available for users ranging from primary to post-graduate levels.
  • NDL has been designed to benefit all kinds of users like students (of all levels), teachers, researchers, librarians, library users, professionals, differently abled users and all other lifelong learners.
  • Information can be personalized based on the education level, choice of language, difficulty level, media of content and such other factors. This is thus like a ‘customised service’ provided in a 24×7 integrated environment where learners can find out the right resource with least effort and in minimum time.
  • Repository hosts contents from multiple subject domains like Technology, Science, Humanities, Agriculture and others.
  • More than 60 types of learning resources are available – books, articles, manuscripts, video lectures, thesis, etc.
  • Items are available in more than 70 languages.
  • Repository integrates contents from different Indian Institutional Repositories.

Unorganised sector

National Policy on Domestic Workers:

The Ministry of Labour & Employment is considering to formulate a National Policy on Domestic Workers which is in the draft stage. The salient features of the proposed draft National Policy on Domestic Workers are as under:

  1. Inclusion of Domestic Workers in the existing legislations
  2. Domestic workers will have the right to register as unorganized workers. Such registration will facilitate their access to rights & benefits.
    • Right to form their own associations/unions
    • Right to minimum wages, access to social security
    • Right to enhance their skills
    • Protection of Domestic Workers from abuse and exploitation
  3. Domestic Workers to have access to courts, tribunals for grievance redressal
  4. Establishment of a mechanism for regulation of private placement agencies.
  5. Establishment of a grievance redressal system for domestic workers.

Elder People

  1. Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana

Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment of Government of India has launched Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana in the year 2017.

Many senior citizens of India suffers from some sort of disabilities related to old age.

The Government provides physical aids and assisted-living devices for such senior citizens belonging to BPL category under this scheme.

The Scheme aims at providing Senior Citizens, belonging to BPL category and suffering from any of the age related disability/infirmity viz. Low vision, Hearing impairment, Loss of teeth and locomotor disability, with such assisted-living devices which can restore near normalcy in their bodily functions, overcoming the disability/infirmity manifested.

This is a Central Sector Scheme, fully funded by the Central Government. The expenditure for implementation of the scheme will be met from the “Senior Citizens’ Welfare Fund”.

The Scheme will be implemented through the sole implementing agency, ‘Artificial Limbs Manufacturing Corporation (ALIMCO)

Children

  1. ReUnite Mobile app

Mobile application called ReUnite which helps to track and trace missing and abandoned children in India was launched recently. The app was developed by NGO, Bachpan Bachao Andolan & Capgemini for developing this app.

The app is multiuser where parents and citizens can upload pictures of children, and provide detailed description like name, birth mark, address, report to the police station, search and identify missing kids. The photographs will not be saved in the mobile phone’s physical memory. Amazon Rekognition, web facial recognition service, is being used to identify missing kids. The app is available for both Android and iOS.

Tribal People

  1. Bru People

Repatriation of Bru refugees

  • The Centre and the state governments of Tripura and Mizoram has recently signed an agreement for repatriation of Bru community from Tripura to Mizoram. The agreement was signed between Government of India, Governments of Mizoram and Tripura and Mizoram Bru Displaced People’s Forum (MBDPF) in July 2018.
  • The central government will provide financial assistance for rehabilitation of Bru community members in Mizoram.
  • The Bru militancy was a reactionary movement against Mizo nationalist groups.
  • Mizo nationalists had demanded in the mid-1990s that the Brus be left out of the state’s electoral rolls, contending that the tribe was not indigenous to Mizoram.
  • In 1997, the murder of a Mizo forest guard at the Dampa Tiger Reserve in Mizoram allegedly by Bru militants led to a violent backlash against the community.
  • It forced several thousand people belonging to Bru community to flee to neighbouring Tripura.
  • The displaced Bru people from Mizoram have been living in various camps in Tripura since 1997.
  1. Behdienkhlam Festival

The famous 4-day Meghalaya Annual Cultural Festival, “Behdienkhlam”, held every year at the small peripheral town of Jowai, Meghalaya.

Behdienkhlam Festival is the most celebrated religious festival among the Pnars Tribals also known as Jaintia Tribes. It is popular at Jowai the District headquarters of Jaintia Hills District, Meghalaya.

Khlam” means plague or pestilence and “beh dien” means to drive away with sticks.

The festival is also known as the festival for chasing away the Demon of Cholera.

It is celebrated mid-July every year after the sowing is over.

The festival reaches its conclusion with the Dad-lawakor ceremony in which groups of men jostle for the possession of a wooden ball, a game which is remotely similar to football.

The festival ends with a final salutation to the divine powers when the women of the tribe offer sacrificial food to their almighty.

  1. Kumbh Mela

Kumbh Mela (the festival of the sacred Pitcher) is the largest peaceful congregation of pilgrims on earth, during which participants bathe or take a dip in a sacred river. Devotees believe that by bathing in the Ganges one is freed from sins liberating her/him from the cycle of birth and death.

The Kumbh Mela is held every three years, and switches between four different locations –

  • Haridwar (river Ganga)
  • Prayag (Triveni sangam of Yamuna, Ganga and Saraswati)
  • Ujjain (river Kshipra)and
  • Nasik (river Godavari).

The mela returns to each location after a span of 12 years.

Apart from this, there are three other types of Kumbh.

  • The Ardha Kumbh Mela: This is held in Haridwar and Prayagraj once in 6 years.
  • The Purna Kumbh Mela: This is held only at Prayagraj once in every 12 years.
  • The Maha Kumbh Mela: This is held only in Prayagraj once in every 144 years.

 

GEOGRAPHY

1.Cyclonic storm

  • ‘TITLI’ over the Bay of Bengal
  • ‘LUBAN’ over the Arabian Sea

2. Goa Maritime Symposium – 2018

It is a follow-on to the maiden Goa Maritime Conclave held in 2017, attended by 16 Indian Ocean littoral countries, which include Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand from South East Asia; Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka from India’s immediate neighbourhood: the island nations of Seychelles, Mauritius and Maldives; Oman in West Asia; and South Africa, Madagascar, Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique from Africa.

The theme for the one day symposium is “Building Stronger Maritime Partnerships in IOR.

The focus of the symposium is on capacity building among IOR Navies to tackle emerging maritime threats, as well as discussing cooperative strategies for enhancing interoperability among partner maritime agencies.

3.Majuli Island

Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) started a new Roll on-Roll off (Ro-Ro) facility in collaboration with the Government of Assam to provide the much-needed connectivity for Majuli Island.

This Ro-Ro facility will cut down the circuitous road route of 423 KMs that trucks take from Neamati to Majuli Island via Tezpur Road Bridge, by limiting the distance to only 12.7 KMs with the use of river route.

Majuli is one of the biggest riverine islands in the world located on river Brahmaputra and faces serious challenges of connectivity.

It has 144 villages with a population of over 150000. The commencement of Ro-Ro services to Majuli Island would be a landmark event towards augmenting connectivity not only in Assam but the entire North Eastern Region.

Currently, there are only four road bridges across river Brahmaputra – at Jogighopa, Guwahati, Tezpur and Sadiya for connectivity between southern and northern parts of Assam.

4.Bogibeel bridge

The Bogibeel rail / road bridge is being built across the River Brahmaputra in the Dibrugarh district, in the state of Assam in north-east India. The 4.94km bridge is one of the longest river bridges in the country.

The Bogibeel rail-road bridge is a double-deck bridge with a two-line railway track on the lower deck and a three-lane road on the upper.

It will enhance national security of the eastern region of India by facilitating swift movement of defence forces.

It will also provide a shorter and alternative railway route to Dibrugarh via North Bank of Brahmaputra.

5.Hydro projects of Jammu Kashmir

The Ratle Hydroelectric project

It is a run-of-the-river hydroelectric power station currently under construction on the Chenab River, downstream of the village of Ratle, near Drabshalla in Kishtwar district of Jammu and Kashmir.

Kiru hydro-electric project

It is a run-of-river scheme is located, in Kishtwar district of J&K State and is about 40 kms from Kishtwar. The Kiru H E Project of 624 MW installed capacity is proposed on river Chenab and envisages construction of 135 m Dam.

Pakal Dul (Drangdhuran) Hydroelectric Project

It is a reservoir based scheme proposed on river Marusudar, the main right bank tributary of river Chenab in Kishtwar Tehsil of Doda District in Jammu & Kashmir.

Kishanganga Power station (3x110MW)

It is located on Kishanganga River, a tributary of river Jhelum in Bandipora District of Jammu & Kashmir.

Dulhasti power station

It is run-of-the-river with pondage scheme with an installed capacity of 390 MW (3 X 130MW) to harness the hydropower potential of river Chenab. It is located in Kishtwar district of Jammu & Kashmir.

Salal power station

It is run-of-the-river scheme with an installed capacity of 690 MW (Stage-I of 3 x115 MW & Stage-II 3 X 115 MW) to harnesses the Hydropower potential of river Chenab. It is located in Reasi district of Jammu & Kashmir.

Uri hydroelectric plant

It is a run-of-the-river power project on the Jhelum River in the Uri area of Baramullah District, Jammu and Kashmir.

6.Leh airport

The Leh Airport is also known as Kushok Bakula Rimpochee airport is one of the airports situated at the highest altitude in the entire world as it is located at an altitude of 3,256 m above sea level.

It is a domestic airport named after the esteemed Kushok Bakula Rinpoche, whose 19th Incarnation was an important Indian and Ladakhi Statesman.

7.Special Committee – On Interlinking of rivers

The Inter-Linking of Rivers programme aims to connect various surplus rivers with deficient rivers. The idea is to divert excess water from surplus regions to deficient regions to help improve irrigation, increase water for drinking and industrial use, and mitigate drought and floods to an extent.

The special committee was set up following a Supreme Court direction on a 2012 writ petition on ‘Networking of Rivers’. The SC directed the Centre to set up a special committee that would then constitute sub-committees. It directed the committee to submit a bi-annual report to the Cabinet on status and progress, and directed the Cabinet to take appropriate decisions

The status reports are meant to be in accordance with the National Perspective Plan. This plan was formulated in 1980 by the Ministry of Irrigation (now Water Resources) to look into inter-basin transfers. The plan comprises two components: peninsular rivers development and Himalayan rivers development.

India also has a National Water Development Agency (NWDA), which was set up in 1982, to conduct surveys and see how feasible proposals for interlinking river projects are.

The status report of three priority links was shared with the Cabinet. These were Ken-Betwa, Damanganga-Pinjal and Par-Tapi-Narmada.

The Water Resources Ministry had drawn up detailed project reports for all three projects in 2015. The committee report also goes into the status of other Himalayan and peninsular links identified under the National Perspective Plan.

8.Dam Safety Bill

The Dam Safety Bill, 2018 aims to provide robust legal and institutional framework under Central & State Governments for safety of dams.

The Bill envisages prevention and mitigation of dam failure related disasters through proper surveillance, inspection, operation and maintenance of all dams in the country.

The Bill provides for constitution of a National Committee on Dam Safety (NCDS) to evolve dam safety policies and recommend necessary regulations. NCDS is proposed to be chaired by Chairman, CWC.

The Bill provides for establishment of National Dam Safety Authority (NDSA) as a regulatory body to implement the policy, guidelines and standards for dam safety in the country.

The Bill also provides for constitution of State Committee on Dam Safety by the State Governments to ensure proper surveillance, inspection, operation and maintenance of all specified dams in the State and to ensure their safe functioning.

As per Dam Safety Bill 2018, every State has to establish a State Dam Safety Organisation, manned by officers from the field of dam safety preferably from the areas of dam-designs, hydro-mechanical engineering, hydrology, geo-technical investigation, instrumentation and dam-rehabilitation.

The NDSA is mandated in the Bill to:

  • Maintain liaison with the State Dam Safety Organisations and the owners of dams for standardisation of dam safety related data and practices;
  • Provide the technical and managerial assistance to the States and State Dam Safety Organisations;
  • Maintain a national level data-base of all dams in the country and the records of major dam failures;
  • Examine the cause of any major dam failure;
  • Publish and update the standard guidelines and check-lists for the routine inspection and detailed investigations of dams and appurtenances;
  • Accord recognition or accreditations to the organisations that can be entrusted with the works of investigation, design or construction of new dams; and
  • Resolve issue between the State Dam Safety Organisation of states, or between the State
  • Dam Safety Organisation and the owner of a dam in that State. In certain cases, such as where a dam is extended over two or more States or dams of one State falling under the territory of another State, the National Authority has to perform the role of State Dam Safety Organization thereby eliminating potential causes for inter-state conflicts.

9.Composite Water Management Index

The National Institute for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog has developed the Composite Water Management Index (CWMI) to enable effective water management in Indian states in the face of extreme water stress

Objectives of Index are:

  • Establish a clear baseline and benchmark for state level performance on key water indicators
  • Uncover and explain how states have progressed on water issues over time, including identifying high performers and under-performers, thereby inculcating a culture of constructive competition among states
  • Identify areas for deeper engagement and investment on the part of the states

The CWMI is the country’s first comprehensive and integrated national dataset for water and is a massive achievement in the context of India’s water management. The Index can reinforce the principle of ‘competitive & cooperative federalism’ in the country and enable innovation in the water ecosystem.

The Index comprises nine themes (each having an attached weight) with 28 different indicators covering groundwater and surface water restoration, major and medium irrigation, watershed development, participatory irrigation management, on-farm water use, rural and urban water supply, and policy and governance.

10.International Decade for Action: Water for Sustainable Development 2018-2028

The United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed the decade 2018-2028 as the International Decade for Action ‘Water for Sustainable Development’. It will begin on World Water Day 22 March 2018 and end on World Water Day, 22 March 2028.

The draft resolution emphasizes that sustainable development and integrated water resources management are crucial to reach social, economic and environmental goals.

It stresses the importance of implementing such programmes and projects and promoting partnerships as well as the involvement of different stakeholders in order to accomplish the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, focusing the implementation of SDG 6, which is to ‘ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all’

11.EPIC 211945201b/k2-236b

Discovery of a Sub-Saturn Exoplanet around a Sun-like star

The scientific team of Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), Ahmedabad, have found a sub-Saturn or super-Neptune size planet (mass of about 27 Earth Mass and size of 6 Earth Radii) around a Sun-like star.

The planet goes around the star in about 19.5days. The host star itself is about 600 light years away from the Earth. The discovery was made by measuring the mass of the planet using the indigenously designed “PRL Advance Radial-velocity Abu-sky Search” (PARAS) spectrograph integrated with 1.2m Telescope at PRL’s Gurushikhar Observatory in Mount Abu, India.

POLITY & GOVERNANCE

  1. The Cyber Crime Prevention against Women and Children (CCPWC) portal

It is convenient and user friendly that will enable complainants in reporting cases without disclosing their identity.

 This will not only aid the victims/complainants but also help the civil society organizations and responsible citizens to anonymously report complaints pertaining to child pornography, child sexual abuse material or sexually explicit material such as rape and gang rape.

Complainants can also upload the objectionable content and URL to assist in the investigation by the State Police.

The complaints registered through this portal will be handled by police authorities of respective State/UTs.

There are other features such as a victim or complainant can track his/her report by opting for “Report and track” option using his/her mobile number.

  1. e – Vidhan

It is a Mission Mode Project to digitize and make the functioning of State Legislatures paperless.

This is part of Digital India programme and Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, being the Nodal Ministry for this project, desires to roll out e-Vidhan as NeVA covering all 40 Houses including two Houses of Parliament and thereby putting all them on a single platform and proving the theory of ‘One Nation One Application’.

  1. Bhoomi Rashi portal:

The Ministry of Road Transport & Highways has recently launched the Bhoomi Rashi portal.

In the past years, acquisition of land for the purpose of National Highway projects, payment of compensation to the land owners etc. were done manually by physical movement of documents in the form of files.

However, in that procedure some constraints viz. delay in issuing notification, errors in the land/area details etc. were being faced.

In order to overcome these issues, to cut short delays and avoid parking of public funds with the Competent Authority for Land Acquisition (CALA), Ministry has developed a web based Utility –Bhoomi Rashi to fully digitize and automate the entire process of land acquisition.

  1. The People’s Plan Campaign

It was rolled out as ‘Sabki Yojna Sabka Vikas’.

During the campaign, structured Gram Sabha meetings are held for preparing Gram Panchayat Development Plan for the financial year 2019-2020.

Monitoring of People’s Plan Campaign would involve geo-tagged visuals of GS meetings, report of facilitators in standard format, Planplus uploading of GDPD for all 29 sectors, visit to Gram Sabhas for every district /state /central level official of concerned departments and NLM(national level monitors) visits to random Gram Sabhas.

  1. Citizenship status of members of the Gorkha Community

Ministry of Home Affairs has issued a clarification to the Government of Assam on the citizenship status of members of the Gorkha Community living in the State as per the Foreigners Act, 1946.

This followed a representation from the All Assam Gorkha Students’ Union to the Union Home Minister recently as some cases of members of Gorkha community living in Assam were referred to the Foreigners Tribunals.

MHA has listed various provisions to obviate the difficulties faced by Gorkhas in the matter of Indian citizenship.

It stated that the members of the Gorkha community who were Indian citizens at the time of commencement of the Constitution, or those who are Indian citizens by birth, or those who have acquired Indian citizenship by registration or naturalization in accordance with the provisions of The Citizenship Act, 1955 are not  “foreigners” in terms of section 2 (a) of The Foreigners Act, 1946 as well as The Registration of Foreigners Act, 1939, therefore, such cases will not be referred to the Foreigners Tribunals.

  1. ASHA

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved the following w.r.t. ASHA Facilitators:

  • Enrolment of ASHA facilitators under Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana and Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana as part of ASHA Benefit package.
  • To motivate ASHA facilitators to perform better, the supervisory visit charges for ASHA Facilitators has been increased from 250/-per visit to Rs.300/- per visit.
  • With the approved increase, ASHA Facilitators would receive about 6000 per month against Rs.5000 per month that is an increase of Rs.1000/- per month.

Benefits:

  • 41,405  ASHA facilitators
  • This is in addition to the following benefits extended by earlier Cabinet Decision on 19.9.2018:
  • Coverage of 1063670 ASHAs and ASHA Facilitators under Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana (PMJJBY) and Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana.
  • Increase in routine and recurring incentives from 1000/- per month to Rs.2000/- per month. 
  1. Electoral Bond Scheme 2018

Government of India has notified the Electoral Bond Scheme 2018 in January 2018.

As per provisions of the Scheme, Electoral Bonds may be purchased by a person, who is a citizen of India or incorporated or established in India. A person being an individual can buy Electoral Bonds, either singly or jointly with other individuals.

Only the Political Parties registered under Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 and which secured not less than one per cent of the votes polled in the last General Election to the House of the People or the Legislative Assembly of the State, shall be eligible to receive the Electoral Bonds.

The Electoral Bonds shall be encashed by an eligible Political Party only through a Bank account with the Authorized Bank.

  1. Inter-State River Water Sharing Disputes and the states concerned and the tribunals which are currently active

Name of Tribunal States concerned Date of constitution
Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal -II Karnataka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra April, 2004
Mahanadi Water Disputes Tribunal Odisha and Chhattisgarh 12th March, 2018
Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal Goa, Karnataka and Maharashtra 13.11.2014
Ravi & Beas Water Tribunal Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan April, 1986
Vansadhara Water Disputes Tribunal Andhra Pradesh &Odisha 17.9.2012

 

  1. PRAGATI

It is aimed at starting a culture of Pro-Active Governance and Timely Implementation.

It is also a robust system for bringing e-transparency and e-accountability with real-time presence and exchange among the key stakeholders.

The platform was launched in March 2015.

It is a multi-purpose and multi-modal platform that is aimed at addressing common man’s grievances, and simultaneously monitoring and reviewing important programmes and projects of the Government of India as well as projects flagged by State Governments.

The PRAGATI platform uniquely bundles three latest technologies:

  • Digital data management
  • Video-conferencing
  • Geo-spatial technology

It also offers a unique combination in the direction of cooperative federalism since it brings on one stage the Secretaries of Government of India and the Chief Secretaries of the States.

With this, the Prime Minister is able to discuss the issues with the concerned Central and State officials with full information and latest visuals of the ground level situation.

  1. Nyaya Bandhu Mobile application

The Government of India has launched new mobile applications meant to aid litigants in need of legal services.

The Nyaya Bandhu mobile app facilitates the provision of free legal services.

The app aims to connect litigants in need with lawyers willing to offer such pro bono services. Lawyers willing to offer free legal services may register themselves with the app.

Litigants in need can thereby access free legal advice through the app.

The Tele-Law online dashboard has been launched in furtherance of the Tele-Law scheme, which was launched last year.

The Tele-Law scheme intends to connect needy litigants with a panel of lawyers from the State Legal Services Authorities.

The new online dashboard mobile app aids in this process, which includes video conferencing, chat and telephone facilities to help the litigant connect with her lawyer.

This app is also intended to help users pre-register their case.

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1.UNEP Champions of the Earth

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, received the United Nations’ highest environmental honour, the ‘UNEP Champions of the Earth’ award. The award announced on the sidelines of 73rd UN General Assembly. Prime Minister Modi has been selected in the leadership category for his pioneering work in championing the International Solar Alliance and for his unprecedented pledge to eliminate all single-use plastic in India by 2022.

The annual ‘Champions of the Earth’ prize is awarded to outstanding leaders from government, civil society and the private sector whose actions have had a positive impact on the environment.

2.The India–Myanmar–Thailand Trilateral Highway

The India–Myanmar–Thailand Trilateral Highway is a highway under construction under India’s Look East policy that will connect Moreh, India with Mae Sot, Thailand via Myanmar.

3.Akhaura-Agartala rail connectivity

Akhaura-Agartala rail connectivity will provide another link in the cross-border connectivity between the two countries.

4.Navika Sagar Prikrama

Navika Sagar Parikrama is the name of expedition for circumnavigation of the globe on indigenously built INSV Tarini by Indian Navy’s Women Naval Officers.

This is the first ever Indian circumnavigation of the globe by an all-women crew.

INSV Tarini is the sister vessel of INSV Mhadei. The vessel was skippered by Lieutenant Commander Vartika Joshi, and the crew comprised Lieutenant Commanders Pratibha Jamwal, P Swathi, and Lieutenants S Vijaya Devi, B Aishwarya and Payal Gupta.

The project is considered essential towards promoting Ocean Sailing activities in the Navy while depicting Government of India’s thrust for ‘Nari Shakti’. 

The first Indian Solo circumnavigation was undertaken by Capt Dilip Donde, SC (Retd) from 19 Aug 09 to 19 May 10 onboard the Indian built vessel, INSV Mhadei.

The first Indian non-stop solo circumnavigation was undertaken by Cdr Abhilash Tomy, KC from 01 Nov 12 to 31 Mar 13.

5.International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and its Functions – India

ITU is the United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technologies – ICTs.

Founded in 1865 to facilitate international connectivity in communications networks.

  • ITU allocate global radio spectrum and satellite orbits.
  • Develop the technical standards that ensure networks and technologies seamlessly interconnect.
  • Strive to improve access to ICTs to underserved communities worldwide.
  • ITU helps support communications in the wake of disasters and emergencies – through on-the-ground assistance, dedicated emergency communications channels, technical standards for early warning systems, and practical help in rebuilding after a catastrophe.
  • ITU works with the industry to define the new technologies that will support tomorrow’s networks and services.
  • ITU powers the mobile revolution, forging the technical standards and policy frameworks that make mobile and broadband possible.
  • ITU works with public and private sector partners to ensure that ICT access and services are affordable, equitable and universal.
  • ITU empowers people around the world through technology education and training.

ITU is committed to connecting all the world’s people – wherever they live and whatever their means.

India has been elected as a member of the International Telecommunications Union Council (ITU) for another 4-year term – from 2019 to 2022

6.International Energy Agency (IEA)

The history of the IEA began with the 1973-1974 Middle East War crisis and its immediate aftermath. While oil producing countries appeared relatively well organized to utilize their new oil based economic and political power, many OECD countries found themselves inadequately equipped with the information and organization necessary to meet the corresponding challenges.

For the most part, these countries permitted excessive and even wasteful and inefficient use of energy – and of oil in particular.

The policy and institutional lessons of the crisis led swiftly in November 1974 to the establishment of the IEA with a broad mandate on energy security and other questions of energy policy co-operation among member countries. And the new Agency was to be hosted at the OECD in Paris.

The Agency would become the focal point for energy co-operation on such issues as: security of supply, long-term policy, information “transparency”, energy and the environment, research and development and international energy relations.

The original founding members of the IEA in 1974 were Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway (under a special Agreement), Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, and the United States. Joining in the following years were Greece (1976),  New Zealand (1977), Australia (1979), Portugal (1981), Finland (1992), France (1992), Hungary (1997), Czech Republic (2001), Republic of Korea (2002), Slovak Republic (2007),  Poland (2008), Estonia (2014), and more recently Mexico (2018).

The IEA is made up of 30 member countries.

Before becoming a member country of the IEA, a candidate country must demonstrate that it has:

  • Crude oil and/or product reserves equivalent to 90 days of the previous year’s net imports, to which the government has immediate access (even if it does not own them directly) and could be used to address disruptions to global oil supply.
  • A demand restraint programme to reduce national oil consumption by up to 10%.
  • Legislation and organisation to operate the Co-ordinated Emergency Response Measures (CERM) on a national basis.
  • Legislation and measures to ensure that all oil companies under its jurisdiction report information upon request.
  • Measures in place to ensure the capability of contributing its share of an IEA collective action. An IEA collective action would be initiated in response to a significant global oil supply disruption and would involve IEA Member Countries making additional volumes of crude and/or product available to the global market (either through increasing supply or reducing demand), with each country’s share based on national consumption as part of the IEA total oil consumption.

A candidate country must be a member country of the OECD. However, membership in the OECD does not automatically result in membership in the IEA.

Some of the major reports of International Energy Agency

  • World energy outlook
  • Energy Technology Perspectives

 

ECONOMY

1.India Post Payments Bank (IPPB)

It will enable money transfer, transfer of government benefits, bill payments and other services such as investment and insurance.

Postmen would deliver these services at the doorstep.

IPPB will also facilitate digital transactions, and help deliver the benefits of schemes such as Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, which provide assistance to farmers.

2.TU amendment bill

The approval will facilitate:

  • Recognition of Trade Unions at Central and State level.
  • Ensure true representation of workers in the tripartite bodies.
  • Check on the arbitrary nomination of workers’ representatives by the Government.
  • Reduce litigations and industrial unrest.

The proposed Bill will ensure that the nomination of workers’ representatives in tripartite bodies by the government will become more transparent. Trade Unions so recognized would be accountable in maintaining industrial harmony. 

Recognition of Trade Unions at Central/State level would reduce duplicity of such exercise by different departments. Recognized Trade Unions may be assigned specific roles at Central or State level.

Being a pre-independence legislation, the said Act provides only for registration of Trade Unions. There is no provision for recognition of Trade Unions in the Act.

However, presently recognition of Trade Union is governed by instructions and guidelines in the Code of Discipline evolved in 1958 as voluntarily accepted by employers and employees.

Since there are demands from various quarters for providing statutory force to the recognition of Trade Unions so that their role will become more important in maintaining harmonious industrial relations in the country, the Government proposes to amend the said Act

3.e-NAM

States desirous of linking their mandis with e-NAM are required to carry out 3 marketing reforms in their APMC Act i.e.

  • Single point levy of mandi fee
  • Unified trade license valid across all mandis of State
  • Provision of e-auction

After carrying out reforms, States are required to propose their wholesale regulated markets for integration with e-NAM platform based on States priorities, which are then considered by Government of India for integration. 

4.WTO disputes

India has 7 disputes at WTO which are at different stages of settlement. India is defending its interest in these disputes with the help of experienced Law Firms.

  • DS430 – Import of poultry and poultry products from United States, Complainant: India,
  • DS436 – Countervailing duty by United States on Indian steel products, Complainant: India,
  • DS456 – National Solar Mission dispute with United States, Complainant: United States,
  • DS510 – United States’ Sub-Federal Renewable energy programme, Complainant: India,
  • DS518 – India-certain Measures on imports of iron and steel products from Japan, Complainant: Japan,
  • DS541 – Export Subsidies measures of India, Complainant: United States,
  • DS-547 – United States-Certain measures of United States on steel and aluminium products, Complainant: India.

5.Pradhan Mantri JanDhan Yojana (PMJDY) with the following changes:

In a major boost to pro-people and pro-poor initiatives, the Union Cabinet has approved the continuation of National Mission for Financial Inclusion – Pradhan Mantri JanDhan Yojana (PMJDY) with the following changes:- 

  • The National Mission for Financial Inclusion (PMJDY) to continue beyond 14.8.2018
  • Existing Over Draft (OD) limit of Rs.5000 to be raised to Rs.10,000
  • There will not be any conditions attached for OD up to Rs.2,000
  • Age limit for availing OD facility to be revised from 18-60 years to 18-65 years.
  • Focus on opening accounts from “Every Household to Every Adult”.

6.Interest Subvention scheme:

With a view to ensuring availability of agriculture credit {including loans taken against Kisan Credit Card (KCC)} at a reasonable cost/at a reduced rate of 7% per annum to farmers, the Government of India, is implementing an interest subvention scheme of 2% for short term crop loans up to Rs.3.00 lakh.

The scheme is implemented through public sector banks and private sector banks {reimbursement through Reserve Bank of India (RBI)}, Regional Rural Banks and Cooperatives {reimbursement through National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD)}.

7.Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC):

The Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) and the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU), kick starting cooperation in building energy efficiency.

According to the MoU, BEE and CPWD will cooperate on promoting designs and construction of Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC).

8.Pakyong Airport

It will bring the State of Sikkim on the country’s aviation map. The airport will provide a big boost to connectivity in the Himalayan State, and also give a fillip to tourism.

9.The Insolvency Law Committee (ILC)

ILC constituted by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs has recommended the adoption of The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Model Law of Cross Border Insolvency, 1997, as it provides for a comprehensive framework to deal with cross border insolvency issues. 

The Committee has also recommended a few carve outs to ensure that there is no inconsistency between the domestic insolvency framework and the proposed Cross Border Insolvency Framework.

The UNCITRAL Model Law has been adopted in as many as 44 countries and, therefore, forms part of international best practices in dealing with cross border insolvency issues.  The advantages of the model law are the precedence given to domestic proceedings and protection of public interest.

The other advantages include greater confidence generation among foreign investors, adequate flexibility for seamless integration with the domestic Insolvency Law and a robust mechanism for international cooperation.

The model law deals with four major principles of cross-border insolvency:

  • Direct access to foreign insolvency professionals and foreign creditors to participate in or commence domestic insolvency proceedings against a defaulting debtor.
  • Recognition of foreign proceedings and provision of remedies.
  • Cooperation between domestic and foreign courts and domestic and foreign insolvency practitioners.
  • Coordination between two or more concurrent insolvency proceedings in different countries.

10.World Customs Organization’s (WCO) Meeting

Three days meeting of the 80th Session of the Policy Commission of WCO was concluded in Mumbai.

During the Session, the officials from the WCO presented the work being done in WCO on various areas. This included the discussion on Strategic Plan (2019-2022) of WCO to carry forward their work on trade facilitation, revenue collection, protection of society and capacity building.

Major issues discussed:

  • Menace of illicit financial flows, including Trade Based Money Laundering and ways to control them.
  • Small Island Economies and how to bring them in the mainstream of the supply chain and Free Trade Zones.

World Customs Organization (WCO)

  • It was established in 1952, headquartered in Brussels, Belgium.
  • It is noted for its work in areas covering the development of international conventions, instruments, and tools on topics such as commodity classification, valuation, rules of origin, collection of customs revenue, supply chain security, international trade facilitation, customs enforcement activities, combating counterfeiting in support of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), drugs enforcement, illegal weapons trading, integrity promotion, and delivering sustainable capacity building to assist with customs reforms and modernization.
  • The WCO maintains the international Harmonized System (HS) goods nomenclature, and administers the technical aspects of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreements on Customs Valuation and Rules of Origin.
  • The WCO’s primary objective is to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of member customs administrations, thereby assisting them to contribute successfully to national development goals, particularly revenue collection, national security, trade facilitation, community protection, and collection of trade statistics.
  • India has become the vice-chair (regional head) of the Asia Pacific region of the World Customs Organisation (WCO) for a period of two years to June, 2020.
  • The organisation has divided its membership into six regions. Each of the regions is represented by an elected vice-chairperson to the WCO council.

11.The Port Community System ‘PCS1x’

Indian Ports Association Launched ‘PCS 1x’ to Increase Ease of Doing Business

  • ‘PCS 1x’ is a cloud based new generation technology, with user-friendly interface. This system seamlessly integrates 8 new stakeholders besides the 19 existing stakeholders from the maritime trade on a single platform.
  • It offers value added services such as notification engine, workflow, mobile application, track and trace, better user interface, better security features, improved inclusion by offering dashboard for those with no IT capability.
  • A unique feature of ‘PCS1x’ is that it can latch on to third party software which provides services to the maritime industry thereby enabling the stakeholders to access wide network of services.
  • The system enables single sign on facility to provide one stop interface to all the functionalities across all stakeholders.
  • This system will enable trade to have an improved communication with the customs as they have also embarked on an Application Programming Interface (API) based architecture, thereby enabling real time interaction. It is estimated that this feature alone will reduce by 2 days in a life of transaction.
  • The application will have a cascading effect in reducing dwell time and overall cost of transaction. The platform has the potential to revolutionize maritime trade in India and bring it at par with global best practices and pave the way to improve the Ease of Doing Business world ranking and Logistics Performance Index (LPI) ranks.
  • The web-based platform has been developed indigenously and is a part of the ‘Make in India’ and ‘Digital India’ initiatives of the Government.

12.PAISA – PORTAL FOR AFFORDABLE CREDIT AND INTEREST SUBVENTION ACCESS

A centralized electronic platform for processing interest subvention on bank loans to beneficiaries under Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana – National Urban Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NULM) named “PAiSA – Portal for Affordable Credit and Interest Subvention Access”, was launched.

The web platform has been designed and developed by Allahabad Bank which is the Nodal bank.

Another effort by the government to connect directly with the beneficiaries for ensuring greater transparency and efficiency in delivery of services.

DBT of subvention on monthly basis under DAY-NULM will give the necessary financial support to small entrepreneurs in a timely manner.

All 35 states / UTs & all scheduled commercial banks, RRBs and Cooperative Banks are expected to be on board the PAiSA portal the year end.

13.Baba Kalyani led committee to study the existing SEZ policy of India

  • In June 2018, the committee was tasked to make special economic zone (SEZ) policy compatible with World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules after the US challenged India’s export subsidy programme at the multilateral trade body.
  • India’s SEZ Policy was implemented from April 1, 2000. Subsequently, the Special Economic Zones Act, 2005 was enacted.
  • The commerce ministry has been consistently lobbying with the finance ministry to exempt units in the SEZs from the minimum alternate tax (MAT), imposed on them in 2011.

Key objectives of the committee included:

  • To evaluate the SEZ policy and make it WTO compatible.
  • To suggest measures for maximising utilisation of vacant land in SEZs.
  • To suggest changes in the SEZ policy based on international experience.
  • To merge the SEZ policy with other Government schemes such as coastal economic zones, Delhi-Mumbai industrial corridor, national industrial manufacturing zones and food and textiles parks.

Special Economic Zones in India

  • They are certain localities which offer tax and other incentives to their resident businesses. Until 2000, India did not have SEZs, and instead had a number of export processing zones (EPZs), which, although similar in structure to the modern SEZ, failed to attract many firms to India.
  • India was one of the first in Asia to recognize the effectiveness of the Export Processing Zone (EPZ) model in promoting exports, with Asia’s first EPZ set up in Kandla in 1965.
  • The government, accordingly, introduced the SEZ. Structured closely on the already successful model of China, they are designed to help stimulate both foreign and domestic investment, boost India’s exports, and create new employment opportunities.
  • India’s Special Economic Zone Act, 2005 further amended the country’s foreign investment policy and converted its EPZs to SEZs, with notable zones including Santa Cruz (Maharashtra state), Cochin (Kerala state), Kandla and Surat (Gujarat state), and more.
  • The SEZ Rules, 2006 lay down the complete procedure to develop a proposed SEZ or establish a unit in an SEZ.

India’s SEZ Policy

  • The main objectives of the Special Economic Zones Act, 2005 are:
    • generation of additional economic activity
    • promotion of exports of goods and services
    • promotion of investment from domestic and foreign sources
    • creation of employment opportunities
    • development of infrastructure facilities
  • The SEZ Rules provide for:
    • Simplified procedures for development, operation, and maintenance of the Special Economic Zones and for setting up units and conducting business in SEZs;
    • Single window clearance for setting up of an SEZ;
    • Single window clearance for setting up a unit in a Special Economic Zone;
    • Single window clearance on matters relating to Central as well as State Governments;
    • Simplified compliance procedures and documentation with an emphasis on self-certification.

Advantages/Incentives for setting up a Unit in an Indian SEZ

  • Duty free import and domestic procurement of goods for the development, operation, and maintenance of the company.
  • 100 percent income tax exemption on export income for first five years, 50 percent for five years thereafter, and 50 percent of the export profit reinvested in the business for the next five years. These incentives will be withdrawn from April 1, 2020 (Sunset Clause), pending an extension, which is currently under discussion.
  • Exemption from the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and levies imposed by state government. Supplies to SEZs are zero rated under the IGST Act, 2017, meaning they are not taxed.
  • External commercial borrowing (ECB) is allowed up to US$500 million a year without restriction. For developers of an SEZ, the ECB channel may be availed after receiving government approval, and only for providing infrastructure facilities in the zone. However, ECB will not be permissible for development of integrated township and commercial real estate within the SEZ.
  • Permission to manufacture products directly, as long as the goods companies are producing fall within a sector which allows 100% FDI.

14.India and Ease of Doing Business Grand Challenge

The PM has launched the Ease of Doing Business Grand Challenge.

EoDB Grand Challenge

  • The objective of this challenge is to invite innovative ideas based on Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Big Data Analytics, Blockchain and other cutting edge technology to reform Government processes.
  • The aim is to make India a 5 trillion dollar economy in the shortest possible time.
  • The platform for the Grand Challenge is the Startup India Portal.
  • The objective is to tap the potential of young Indians, startups and other private enterprises to provide solutions to complex problems using current technology.

According to the World Bank’s Doing Business Report (DBR, 2019):

India improved its ranking from 100th position in 2017 to 77th position in 2018 (a jump of 23 positions) among 190 countries.

Also India has improved its rank by 53 positions in the last two years and 65 positions in the last four years [2014 – 2018].

15.Bharat mala Pariyojana

The Government of India launched “BharatMala Pariyojana”, a new umbrella program for the highways sector that focuses on optimizing efficiency of road traffic movement across the country by bridging critical infrastructure gaps.

The project covering a whopping 34800 kms of road would be completed in a phased manner.

The components of BharatMala Pariyojana are

  • Development of Economic corridors – 9,000 Kms
  • Inter-corridor & feeder roads – 6,000 Kms
  • Improving the efficiency of National Corridors – 5,000 Kms
  • Border & International connectivity roads – 2,000 Kms
  • Coastal & port connectivity roads – 2,000 Kms
  • Expressways – 800 Kms
  • Balance of NHDP works – 10000 Kms

The BharatMala Project envisions to improve the efficiency of the National Corridor including the Golden-Quadrilateral and North, South –East West corridor by decongesting the choke points through construction of elevated corridors, bypasses, ring roads, and lane expansion and logistics parks at identified points.

The project plan includes construction of Border Roads of strategic importance along international boundaries and International Connectivity roads to promote trade with Myanmar, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal.

The programme has identified around 26,200 km of Economic Corridors or routes that have heavy freight traffic.

The programme has planned to develop the identified Economic Corridors with heavy freight traffic, end to end to ensure seamless, speedy travel and uniformity in standards.

Feeder Corridors will be developed so as to address the infrastructure asymmetry that exists at many places.

All projects implemented under Bharatmala are to be technically, financially and economically appraised by an empowered Project Appraisal &Technical Scrutiny Committee to be setup in National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH).

Bharat Mala Route

The government will mobilize resources for Bharatmala through four different routes:

  • Market borrowings
  • Central road fund
  • Monetizing government-owned road assets
  • Budgetary allocation

16.Aajeevika Grameen Express Yojana (AGEY)

The Ministry of Rural Development is implementing Aajeevika Grameen Express Yojana (AGEY), the sub-scheme under Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM) to facilitate transport facilities in the rural areas and also provide job opportunities to members of Self Help Groups (SHGs) under DAY-NRLM.

The scheme was launched in August, 2017.

AGEY has the following two objectives:

  • To provide safe, affordable and community monitored rural transport services to connect remote villages with key services and amenities (including access to markets, education and health) for the overall economic development of the area by making use of the supports available within the framework of DAY-NRLM.
  • To provide an alternative source of livelihoods to members of Self Help Groups (SHGs) and their families under DAY-NRLM by facilitating them to operate public transport services in backward rural areas, as identified by the States.

The scheme is currently being implemented in 18 States and 624 vehicles are operational under the scheme as on 30th November, 2018.

AGEY was to be implemented in 250 blocks across the country on a pilot basis. Rajasthan was allocated 9 blocks under AGEY. The responsibility of identifying the blocks lies with the State government.

There is no separate budgetary allocation under AGEY. Under the programme, the Community Investment Fund (CIF) provided to Community Based Organisations (CBOs) under the existing provisions of DAY-NRLM are utilised for providing interest free loans to the SHG members.

AGEY is already under implementation in 18 States.

AGEY aims to provide connectivity to rural areas through vehicles operated by SHG members. State Rural Livelihoods Missions (SRLMs) in consultation with Community Based Organisations (CBOs) under DAY – NRLM identify routes where roads have been constructed under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) but has poor transport services. SHG members are then provided interest free loans by the CBOs for operating vehicles on the identified routes based on financial viability.

17.Export Promotion Council for MSME Sector

The Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) has recently established an Export Promotion Cell (EPC) with an aim to create a sustainable ecosystem for entire MSME development.

  • MSME sector has a huge impact on Foreign Exchange earnings and has large export potential.
  • As per the Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics (DGCIS), the value of MSME related products is USD 147,390.08 million and share of MSME related products in the country’s exports was 48.56% during 2017-18.
  • In some cases like sports goods, they account for about 100% share to the total exports of the sector.
  • In addition to the above, MSMEs account for about 85-90 % of leather exports; around 6.11% to India’s manufacturing GDP (about 33%to the manufacturing output) and about 25% to the GDP from service activities.

Objective of EPC

  • Evaluate readiness of MSMEs to export their products and services.
  • Recognize areas that can be improved to export effectively and efficiently.
  • Integration of MSME into the global value chain.
  • The target of USD 100 billion of exports from India by 2020.
  • Identify potential clusters which can start exporting directly or through aggregators and export houses with the help of export promotion councils.
  • Coordinate with other departments and export promotion councils for increasing shipments of products like khadi, leather, and coir.

Key Benefits to MSME

  • Simplification of procedures.
  • Incentives for higher production of exports.
  • Preferential treatments to MSMEs in the market development fund.
  • Simplification of duty drawback rules.
  • Products of MSME exporters are displayed in international exhibitions free of cost.
  • Export Promotion Programmes/Measures

Marketing Assistance and Export Promotion Scheme

  • Participation in the International Exhibitions/ Fairs.
  • Training Programmes on Packaging for Exports.
  • Marketing Development Assistance Scheme for MSME exporters (MSME-MDA).
  • In addition, the above scheme also provides for financial assistance up to Rs. 2.00 lakhs for commissioning specific market studies and assistance for initiating/ contesting anti-dumping cases are available to MSME Association limited to 50% of the total cost or Rs.1 lakh whichever is less.
  • The Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS) was introduced in the Foreign Trade Policy (FTP) 2015-20 w.e.f. 1st April 2015 with the objective to offset infrastructural inefficiencies and associated costs involved in exporting goods/products which are produced /manufactured in India including products produced/manufactured by MSME Sector.
  • The Government has implemented the Niryat Bandhu Scheme with an objective to reach out to the exporters from Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).

18.Accession to WIPO Copyright Treaty, 1996 and WIPO Performance and Phonograms Treaty, 1996

The Union Cabinet has approved the proposal submitted by Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, Ministry of Commerce and Industry regarding accession to the above-mentioned treaties which extends coverage of copyright to the internet and digital environment.

Strengthening National IPR Policy

  • The approval is a step towards the objective laid in the National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Policy adopted by the Government on 12th May 2016.
  • It is aimed to get value for IPRs through commercialization by providing guidance and support to EPR owners about commercial opportunities of e-commerce through the Internet and mobile platforms.
  • Both the treaties provide a framework for creators and right owners to use technical tools to protect their works and safeguard information about their usee. Protection of Technological Protection Measures (TPMs) and Rights Management Information (RMI).

Benefits of these Treaties

Meeting the demand of the copyright industries, these treaties will help India:

  • To enable creative right-holders enjoy the fruit of their labour, through international copyright system that can be used to secure a return on the investment made in producing and distributing creative works;
  • To facilitate international protection of domestic rights holder by providing them level-playing field in other countries as India already extends protection to foreign works through the International Copyright order and these treaties will enable Indian right holders to get reciprocal protection abroad;
  • To instil confidence and distribute creative works in digital environment with return on investment; and
  • To spur business growth and contribute to the development of a vibrant creative economy and cultural landscape.

Copyright Act, 1957

  • The Copyright Act 1957(wef 21 January 1958) (as amended by the Copyright Amendment Act 2012) governs the subject of copyright law in India.
  • The Copyright Act 1957 was the first post-independence copyright legislation in India and the law has been amended six times since 1957.
  • The most recent amendment was in the year 2012, through the Copyright (Amendment) Act 2012.
  • The history of copyright law in India can be traced back to its colonial era under the British Empire.
  • India is a member of most of the important international conventions governing the area of copyright law, including
  • The Berne Convention of 1886 (as modified at Paris in 1971),
  • The Universal Copyright Convention of 1951,
  • The Rome Convention of 1961 and
  • The Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)

India accessed as a member of the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT) in July, 2018.

WIPO Copyright Treaty

  • It is a Special agreement under Berne Convention (for protection of literary and artistic works).
  • It came in force on March 6, 2002 and has been adopted by 96 contracting parties till date.
  • It has provisions to extend the protection of copyrights contained therein to the digital environment.
  • Further it recognises the rights specific to digital environment, of making work available, to address “on-demand” and other interactive modes of access.

WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty

  • It came in force on May 20, 2002 and has 96 contracting parties as its members.
  • WPPT deals with rights of two kinds of beneficiaries, particularly in digital environment:
  • Performers (actors, singers, musicians etc.)
  • Producers of Phonograms (Sound recordings).

The treaty empowers right owners in the negotiations with new digital platforms and distributors.

It recognizes moral rights of the performers for the first time & provides exclusive economic rights to them.

19.Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maandhan Yojana

Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maan-dhan is a central government scheme meant for old age protection and social security of Unorganised Workers (UW).

The category of unorganised workers include agricultural workers, construction workers, beedi workers home-based workers, street vendors, mid-day meal workers, head loaders, brick kiln workers, cobblers, rag pickers, domestic workers, washermen, rickshaw pullers, landless labourers, handloom workers, leather workers, audio-visual workers and similar other occupations whose monthly income is Rs.15000 per month or less and belong to the entry age group of 18-40 years.

It is a voluntary and contributory pension scheme, under which the subscriber would receive a minimum assured pension of Rs.3000/- per month after attaining the age of 60 years and if the subscriber dies, the spouse of the beneficiary shall be entitled to receive 50% of the pension as family pension. Family pension is applicable only to spouse.

The subscriber is required to contribute the prescribed contribution amount from the age of joining the scheme till the age of 60 years.

20.Vande Bharat Express

Also called Train 18, it is indigenously built semi-high speed intercity train built by Indian railways. It is India’s first engine-less train, developed by the Integral Coach Factory, Chennai. It started operating between Delhi and Varanasi.

Eventually, the Vande Bharat Express will replace the 30-year-old Shatabdi Express.

21.Aspirational Districts Programme

The Aspirational District Programme was launched by Prime Minister in January this year with an aim to rapidly transform the districts that have shown relatively lesser progress in key social areas.

The broad contours of the programme are:

  • Convergence (of Central & State Schemes),
  • Collaboration (of Central, State level ‘Prabhari’ Officers & District Collectors)
  • Competition among districts driven by a mass movement or a Jan Andolan

To enable optimum utilisation of their potential, this program focuses closely on improving people’s ability to participate fully in the burgeoning economy.

  • Health & nutrition
  • Education,
  • Agriculture & water resources,
  • Financial inclusion
  • Skill development, and
  • Basic infrastructure are this programme’s core areas of focus.

22.Angel tax

Angel tax is a kind of direct tax that the receiver (startup) of the fund from an angel investor has to pay.

It was introduced in the 2012 Budget.

Under the Income-tax Act, 1961, where a startup (company) receives any consideration for issue of shares which exceeds the fair market value (FMV) of such shares, such excess consideration is taxable in the hands of the recipient as income from other sources.

It is counted as income to the company and is taxed. Angel tax was introduced in 2012, with the purpose of keeping money laundering in check.

Angel tax is charged at the maximum marginal rate of 30%. The government has prescribed a specific method of calculating FMV.

There is no definitive or objective way to measure the ‘fair market value’ of a startup. Investors pay a premium for the idea and the business potential at the angel funding stage.

23.Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana- Gramin

The PMAY-G is a rural housing scheme which was previously being implemented as the Indira Awaas Yojana.  In order to achieve the objective of ‘housing for all 2022’, IAY was restructured as PMAY-G in March 2016.

The objective of the scheme is to provide pucca house to all who are houseless and living in dilapidated houses in rural areas by 2022.

It is proposed that one crore households would be provided assistance for construction of pucca house under the project during the period from 2016-17 to 2018-19.

The scheme would be implemented in rural areas throughout India except Delhi and Chandigarh.

Under PMAY, the cost of unit assistance is to be shared between Central and State Governments in the ratio 60:40 in plain areas and 90:10 for North Eastern and hilly states.

The unit assistance given to beneficiaries under the programme is Rs.120000 in plain areas and to Rs.130000 in hilly states/difficult areas /Integrated Action Plan (IAP) for Selected Tribal and Backward Districts. The beneficiary is entitled to 90 days of unskilled labour from MGNREGA.

The beneficiary would be facilitated to avail loan of up to Rs.70000 for construction of the house which is optional.

Identification of beneficiaries eligible for assistance and their prioritisation to be done using information from Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC) ensuring total transparency and objectivity. The list will be presented to Gram Sabha to identify beneficiaries who have been assisted before or who have become ineligible due to other reasons.

24.National Rural Economic Transformation Project ( under DAY-NRLM)

The Union Cabinet approved the Implementation of an Externally Aided Project namely “National Rural Economic Transformation Project (NRETP) under the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana – National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM) through loan assistance (IBRD Credit) from World Bank.

A key focus of the project will be to

Promote women-owned and women-led farm and non-farm enterprises across value chains

Enable them to build businesses that help them access finance, markets and networks; and generate employment.

The technical assistance provided by NRETP and the higher level interventions facilitated by the project will enhance the livelihoods promotion and access to finance and scale-up initiatives on digital finance and livelihood interventions.

DAY-NRLM lays special emphasis on targeting the poorest of the poor and the most vulnerable communities and their financial inclusion. Innovative projects will be undertaken under NRETP to pilot alternate channels of financial inclusion, creating value chains around rural products, introduce innovative models in livelihoods promotion and access to finance and scale-up initiatives on digital finance and livelihoods interventions.

DAYNRLM provides for mutually beneficial working relationship and formal platforms for consultations between Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) and Community Based Organizations (CBOs).

NRLM has also developed activity map to facilitate convergence in different areas of interventions where NRLM institutions and PRIs could work together which has been disseminated to all state Rural Livelihood Missions.

25.Khadi Gramodyog Vikas Yojana

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved

  • To continue the existing schemes of MPDA, Khadi Grant, ISEC and Village Industry Grant, all subsumed under ‘Khadi and Gramodyog Vikas Yojana’ at the total cost of Rs. 2800 crore for the period 2017-18 to 2019-20;
  • To bring in a new component of ‘Rozgar Yukta Gaon’ to introduce enterprise-based operation in the Khadi sector and to create employment opportunities for thousands of new artisans in the current and next financial year (2018-19 and 2019-20).
  • Rozgar Yukta Gaon (RYG) aims at introducing an ‘Enterprise-led Business Model’ in place of ‘Subsidy-led model’ through partnership among 3 stakeholders- KRDP-assisted Khadi Institution, Artisans and Business Partner. The aim is to create entrepreneurs in the khadi sector thereby generating employment opportunities for thousands of new artisans.

26.Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (KUSUM)

The Kusum (Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan) scheme was announced in the Union Budget in 2018.

It aims to boost the production of Solar Power in India and provide it to farmers.

It involves decentralized solar power production of up to 28,250 Megawatt (Mw) over five years.This scheme will bring double benefit as it provide farmers extra income by selling the extra power directly to the government.

It will decreased the consumption of diesel in the agricultural sector.

Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (KUSUM)’ provides for:

  • Installation of grid-connected solar power plants each of capacity up to 2 MW in the rural areas;
  • Installation of standalone off-grid solar water pumps to fulfill irrigation needs of farmers not connected to grid;
  • Solarisation of existing grid-connected agriculture pumps to make farmers independent of grid supply and also enable them to sell surplus solar power generated to DISCOM and get extra income; and
  • Solarisation of tube-wells and lift irrigation projects of Government sector.

The proposed scheme consists of three components:

  • Component-A: 10,000 MW of Decentralized Ground Mounted Grid Connected Renewable Power Plants.
  • Component-B: Installation of 17.50 lakh standalone Solar Powered Agriculture Pumps.
  • Component-C: Solarisation of 10 Lakh Grid-connected Solar Powered Agriculture Pumps.

The Scheme will have substantial environmental impact in terms of savings of CO2 emissions. All three components of the Scheme combined together are likely to result in saving of about 27 million tonnes of CO2 emission per annum. The scheme has direct employment potential

27.National Electronics Policy – 2019

The Union Cabinet today gave its approval to the National Policy on Electronics 2019 (NPE 2019), proposed by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY).

The Policy envisions positioning India as a global hub for Electronics System Design and Manufacturing – (ESDM) by encouraging and driving capabilities in the country for developing core components, including chipsets, and creating an enabling environment for the industry to compete globally.

Salient Features of NPE 2019

  • Create eco-system for globally competitive ESDM sector: Promoting domestic manufacturing and export in the entire value-chain of ESDM.
  • Provide incentives and support for manufacturing of core electronic components.
  • Provide special package of incentives for mega projects which are extremely high-tech and entail huge investments, such as semiconductor facilities display fabrication, etc.
  • Formulate suitable schemes and incentive mechanisms to encourage new units and expansion of existing units.
  • Promote Industry-led R&D and innovation in all sub-sectors of electronics, including grass root level innovations and early stage Start-ups in emerging technology areas such as 5G, loT/ Sensors, Artificial Intelligence (Al), Machine Learning, Virtual Reality (VR), Drones, Robotics,   Additive   Manufacturing,   Photonics,   Nano-based devices, etc.
  • Provide incentives   and   support   for   significantly   enhancing availability of skilled manpower, including re-skilling.
  • Special thrust on Fabless Chip Design Industry, Medical Electronic Devices Industry, Automotive Electronics Industry and Power Electronics for Mobility and Strategic Electronics Industry.
  • Create Sovereign Patent Fund (SPF) to promote the development and acquisition of IPs in ESDM sector.
  • Promote trusted electronics value chain initiatives to improve national cyber security profile.

28.National Mineral Policy 2019

The Union Cabinet has sanctioned the National Mineral Policy 2019.

The new policy will ensure more effective regulation, which will also lead to sustainable mining sector development in future while addressing issues of project-affected persons, especially for people residing in tribal areas.

The National Mineral Policy 2019 replaces the extant National Mineral Policy 2008.

The aim of National Mineral Policy 2019 is to have a more effective, meaningful and implementable policy that brings in further transparency, better regulation and enforcement, balanced social and economic growth as well as sustainable mining practices.

The National Mineral Policy 2019 includes provisions which will give boost to mining sector such as

  • Introduction of Right of First Refusal for RP/PL holders,
  • Encouraging the private sector to take up exploration,
  • Auctioning in virgin areas for composite RP cum PL cum ML on revenue share basis,
  • Encouragement of merger and acquisition of mining entities and
  • Transfer of mining leases and creation of dedicated mineral corridors to boost private sector mining areas.
  • The 2019 Policy proposes to grant status of industry to mining activity to boost financing of mining for private sector and for acquisitions of mineral assets in other countries by private sector
  • It also mentions that Long term import export policy for mineral will help private sector in better planning and stability in business
  • The Policy also mentions rationalize reserved areas given to PSUs which have not been used and to put these areas to auction, which will give more opportunity to private sector for participation
  • The Policy also mentions to make efforts to harmonize taxes, levies & royalty with world benchmarks to help private sector

The 2019 Policy also introduces the concept of Inter-Generational Equity that deals with the well-being not only of the present generation but also of the generations to come and also proposes to constitute an inter-ministerial body to institutionalize the mechanism for ensuring sustainable development in mining.

29.Seva Bhoj Yojana

The Ministry of Culture, Government of India has introduced a new scheme namely ‘Seva Bhoj Yojna’.

The scheme envisages to reimburse the Central Government share of Central Goods and Services Tax (CGST) and Integrated Goods and Service Tax (IGST) so as to lessen the financial burden of such Charitable Religious Institutions who provide Food/Prasad/Langar (Community Kitchen)/Bhandara free of cost without any discrimination to Public/Devotees.

The Charitable Religious Institutions such as Temples, Gurudwara, Mosque, Church, Dharmik Ashram, Dargah, Matth, Monasteries etc. which have been in existence for at least five years before applying for financial assistance/grant and who serve free food to at least 5000 people  in a month and  such institutions covered under Section 10( 23BBA)  of the Income Tax Act  or Institutions registered as Society  under Societies Registration Act ( XXI of 1860) or as a Public Trust under any law for the time being in force of statuary religious bodies constituted under any Act  or institutions registered under Section 12AA of Income Tax Act  shall be eligible for grant under the scheme.

30.Sustainable Rooftop Implementation for Solar Transfiguration of India (SRISTI)

The scheme is a part of the larger grid-connected Rooftop Solar (RTS) power programme, aims to bring discoms to the forefront in the implementation of rooftop solar projects by providing them financial support which will be linked to their performance in facilitating the deployment of RTS.

Key Features of the Sristi Scheme:

  • The scheme shall integrate discoms as an implementing agency in Phase II of rooftop solar scheme.
  • The proposed scheme aims to achieve a national solar rooftop target of 40 GW till 2021-22.
  • Under this schemes, it is proposed that Central Financial Assistance will be provided only for installation of roof top solar plants in residential sector.
  • The residential users may install the plant of capacity as per their requirement and the regulations of respective state electricity regulatory commission. But, the subsidy support will be limited up to 5 kW capacity of plant
  • The proposed scheme has set sector wise targets – with commercial and industrial sector to set 20,000 MW and the government, residential , social and institutional sector to set up 5000 MW

31.Insolvency & Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) ordinance- 2018

The Bill amends the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 to clarify that allottees under a real estate project should be treated as financial creditors.

The Bill allows the withdrawal of a resolution application submitted to the NCLT under the Code.  

This decision can be taken with the approval of 90% of the committee of creditors.

The voting threshold for routine decisions taken by the committee of creditors has been reduced from 75% to 51%.  For certain key decisions, this threshold has been reduced to 66%.

AGRICULTURE

  1. Queen pineapple is declared as the state fruit of Tripura

Here are the top 10 fruit capitals of India:

  • Nagpur: Oranges
  • Himachal Pradesh: Apples
  • Goa: Cashew nuts
  • Mahabaleshwar: Strawberry
  • Allahabad: Guavas
  • Ratnagiri: Alphanso Mangoes
  • Maharashtra: Bananas
  • Gujarat: Chiku
  • Madhya Pradesh: Ber
  • Pune: Anjeer
  1. Alphonso gets GI tag

Alphonso from Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg, Palghar, Thane and Raigad districts of Maharashtra, is registered as Geographical Indication (GI). 

A Geographical Indication or a GI is an indication used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin. Such a name conveys an assurance of quality and distinctiveness which is essentially attributable to its origin in that defined geographical locality.

  • The king of mangoes, Alphonso, better known as ‘Hapus’ in Maharashtra, is in demand in domestic and international markets not only for its taste but also for pleasant fragrance and vibrant color.
  • It has long been one of the world’s most popular fruit and is exported to various countries including Japan, Korea and Europe. New markets such as USA and Australia have recently opened up.

The first product to get a GI tag in India was the Darjeeling tea in 2004. There are a total of 325 products from India that carry this indication.

  1. KUSUM (Kisan Urja Suraksha Evam Utthaan Mahaabhiyan)

With an aim to promote use of solar power among farmers, central government has launched the scheme, KUSUM (Kisan Urja Suraksha Evam Utthaan Mahaabhiyan).

Objective of the Scheme:

The main aim of this scheme is to prove the farmers with advanced technology to generate power. The solar pumps will not only assist to irrigate the farms but also allow to generate safe energy. Due to the presence of the Energy Power Grid, the Farmers will be able to sell the extra energy directly to the Power Supply Companies. It will provide them with extra income as well. So, this scheme will bring double benefits.

Features of the Scheme:

  • The successful operation of this program will be able to help the farmers not only in meeting their power related requirements, but also able to earn some extra money by selling excess power.
  • Construction of Plants on infertile land only
  • Distribution of solar power pumps
  • Power Generation on small scale
  • Power generation from tube- wells
  • Sale of Excess Power

Duration of the Scheme:

Current estimates state that for the successful completion of this elaborate scheme, the central govt. will have to work for at least 10 years.

Subsidy Structure of the Scheme:

As per the draft, each farmer will get huge subsidy on new and improved solar powered pumps. The farmers will have to tolerate only 10% of the total expenditure to acquire an install a solar pumps. The Central Govt. will provide 60% cost while the remaining 30% will be taken care of by bank as credit.

Components of the Scheme:

  • Solar Pumps Distribution
  • construction of Solar Power Factory
  • Setting up tube – wells: It deals with the setting up of unique tube – wells, under the watchful eyes of the central government, which will also a certain amount of power.

 

  1. Krishi Kalyan Abhiyan

The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare in line with the vision of doubling farmers’ income by 2022 has launched the Krishi Kalyan Abhiyaan from 1 st June, 2018 till 31st July, 2018 so as to aid, assist and advice farmers on how to improve their farming techniques and raise their incomes.

The Krishi kalyan Abhiyaan has been undertaken in 25 Villages located in 111 Aspirational Districts including Ramgarh district (Jharkhand), each with a population of more than 1000 people.

The overall coordination and implementation in the 25 villages of a district is being done by Krishi Vigyan Kendra of that district. An Action Plan of the Krishi Kalyan Abhiyan comprises of the various activities which promote best practices and add to the agriculture income of the farmers.

  1. Pradhan Mantri Annadata Aay SanraksHan Abhiyan (PM-AASHA):

The new Umbrella Scheme includes the mechanism of ensuring remunerative prices to the farmers and is comprised of

  • Price Support Scheme (PSS)
  • Price Deficiency Payment Scheme (PDPS)
  • Pilot of Private Procurement & Stockist Scheme (PPPS)
  1. Agriculture Export Policy

The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister has approved the Agriculture Export Policy, 2018.  

The Cabinet has also approved the proposal for establishment of Monitoring Framework at Centre with Commerce as the nodal Department with representation from various line Ministries/ Departments and Agencies and representatives of concerned State Governments, to oversee the implementation of Agriculture Export Policy

The vision is

  • To Harness export potential of Indian agriculture, through suitable policy instruments, to make India global power in agriculture and raise farmers’ income.”
  • To double agricultural exports from present ~US$ 30+ Billion to ~US$ 60+ Billion by 2022 and reach US$ 100 Billion in the next few years thereafter, with a stable trade policy regime.
  • To diversify our export basket, destinations and boost high value and value added agricultural exports including focus on perishables.
  • To promote novel, indigenous, organic, ethnic, traditional and non-traditional Agri products exports.  
  • To provide an institutional mechanism for pursuing market access, tackling barriers and deal with sanitary and phyto-sanitary issues.
  • To strive to double India’s share in world agri exports by integrating with global value chain at the earliest.
  • To enable farmers to get benefit of export opportunities in overseas market.

The recommendations in the Agriculture Export Policy have been organized in two categories – Strategic and Operational

Strategic

  • Policy measures Infrastructure and logistics support
  • Holistic approach to boost exports
  • Greater involvement of State Governments in agri exports
  • Focus on Clusters Promoting value-added exports
  • Marketing and promotion of “Brand India”

Operational

  • Attract private investments into production and processing
  • Establishment of strong quality regimen
  • Research & Development
  • Miscellaneous
  1. Operation Greens

In the budget speech of Union Budget 2018-19, a new Scheme “Operation Greens” was announced on the line of “Operation Flood”, with an outlay of Rs.500 crore to promote Farmer Producers Organizations, agri-logistics, processing facilities and professional management. Accordingly, the Ministry has formulated a scheme for integrated development of Tomato, Onion and Potato (TOP) value chain.

Objectives:

  • Enhancing value realization of TOP farmers by targeted interventions to strengthen TOP production clusters and their FPOs, and linking/connecting them with the market.
  • Price stabilization for producers and consumers by proper production planning in the TOP clusters and introduction of dual use varieties.
  • Reduction in post-harvest losses by creation of farm gate infrastructure, development of suitable agro-logistics, and creation of appropriate storage capacity linking consumption centers.
  • Increase in food processing capacities and value addition in TOP value chain with firm linkages with production clusters.
  • Setting up of a market intelligence network to collect and collate real time data on demand and supply and price of TOP crops.

Strategies:

The scheme will have two-pronged strategy of Price stabilization measures (for short term) and integrated value chain development projects (for long term).

  • Short term Price Stabilization Measures

NAFED will be the Nodal Agency to implement price stabilization measures. MoFPI will provide 50% of the subsidy on the following two components:

  • Transportation of Tomato Onion Potato (TOP) Crops from production to storage;
  • Hiring of appropriate storage facilities for TOP Crops
  • Long Term Integrated value chain development projects
    • Capacity Building of FPOs & their consortium
    • Quality production
    • Post-harvest processing facilities
    • Agri-Logistics
    • Marketing / Consumption Points
    • Creation and Management of e-platform for demand and supply management of TOP Crops.

Government of India is giving more priority for welfare of the farmers. In this regard it is implementing several farmers welfare schemes to revitalize agriculture sector and to improve their economic conditions. Therefore, the government has rolled out new initiatives, schemes, programmes and plans to benefit all the farmers.

  1. Soil Health Card Scheme

  • Launched in 2015
  • It has been introduced to assist State Governments to issue Soil Health Cards to all farmers in the country.
  • It provides information to farmers on nutrient status of their soil along with recommendation on appropriate dosage of nutrients to be applied for improving soil health and its fertility.
  • It is used to assess the current status of soil health and, when used over time, to determine changes in soil health that are affected by land management.
  • It displays soil health indicators and associated descriptive terms. The indicators are typically based on farmers’ practical experience and knowledge of local natural resources.
  • It lists soil health indicators that can be assessed without the aid of technical or laboratory equipment.
  • The scheme promoted by the Department of Agriculture & Co-operation under the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare. It is being implemented through the Department of Agriculture of all the State and Union Territory Governments.
  • It is a printed report that a farmer will be handed over for each of his holdings.
  • It will contain the status of his soil with respect to 12 parameters, namely
    • N, P, K (Macro-nutrients)
    • S (Secondary- nutrient)
    • Zn, Fe, Cu, Mn, Bo (Micro – nutrients)
    • pH, EC, OC (Physical parameters)
  • The scheme will cover all the parts of the country.
  • A farm will get the soil card once in every 3 years.
  1. National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA)

It is one of the eight Missions under National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC).

It aims at promoting Sustainable Agriculture through climate change adaptation measures, enhancing agriculture productivity especially in rainfed areas focusing on integrated farming, soil health management, and synergizing resource conservation.

It as a programmatic intervention caters to Mission Deliverables that focuses mainly on Conservation agriculture to make farm sector more productive, sustainable, remunerative and climate resilient by promoting location specific integrated/composite farming systems.

Schemes under NMSA

  • Rainfed Area Development (RAD)
  • Soil Health Management (SHM)
  • Sub Mission on Agro Forestry (SMAF)
  • Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY)
  • Soil and Land Use Survey of India (SLUSI)
  • National Rainfed Area Authority (NRAA)
  • Mission Organic Value Chain Development in North Eastern Region (MOVCDNER)
  • National Centre of Organic Farming (NCOF)
  • Central Fertilizer Quality Control and Training Institute (CFQC&TI)

Components

  • Promoting integrated farming system covering crops, livestock & fishery, plantation and pasture based composite farming.
  • Popularizing resource conservation technologies (both on-farm and off-farm).
  • Promoting effective management of available water resources and enhancing water use efficiency.
  • Encouraging improved agronomic practices for higher farm productivity, improved soil treatment, increased water holding capacity, judicious use of chemicals/ energy and enhanced soil carbon storage.
  • Creating database on soil resources through land use survey, soil profile study and soil analysis on GIS platform to facilitate adoption of location and soil-specific crop management practices& optimize fertilizer use.
  • Promoting location and crop specific integrated nutrient management practices for improving soil health, enhancing crop productivity and maintaining quality of land and water resources.
  • Involving knowledge institutions and professionals in developing climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies for specific agro climatic situations and promoting them through appropriate farming systems.
  • Programmatic interventions as per land capability and conducive to climatic parameters in select blocks as pilots for ensuring integrated development through dissemination and adoption of rainfed technologies with greater reach in disadvantaged areas & location specific planning by way of coordination, convergence and leveraging investments from other Schemes/Missions.
  • State Government may engage reputed NGOs for implementation of cluster/village development plan in case of limited govt. infrastructure is available in that area through a transparent system of selection and defined process of supervision and monitoring through a line department.
  1. Neem Coated Urea (NCU)

  • This scheme is initiated to regulate use of urea, enhance availability of nitrogen to the crop and reduce cost of fertilizer application.
  • It slows down the release of fertilizer and makes it available to the crop in an effective manner.
  • The entire quantity of domestically manufactured and imported urea is now neem coated.
  • It reduces the cost of cultivation and improves soil health management.

Advantages

  • Improvement in soil health.
  • Reduction in costs with respect to plant protection chemicals.
  • Reduction in pest and disease attack.
  • An increase in yield of paddy, sugarcane, maize, soybean and tur/red gram to an extent of 5.79%, 17.5%, 7.14%, 7.4% and 16.88% respectively.
  • Diversion of highly subsidized urea towards non-agricultural purposes negligible among farmers after the introduction of the mandatory policy of production and distribution of only NCU.

Difference in Plain urea and Neem Coated Urea

  • In Neem coated urea, they put a layer of neem over the plain urea that increases the land fertility capacity that leads to the higher production of crops.
  • The oil coating of neem in Neem coated urea mixes up slowly with the land and the crops soaks it according to the need.
  • The unwanted urea washed away with the water or gets diluted in the air as nitrogen. If the farmer uses the Normal urea or Plain urea, the maximum unit of the manure is left unused.
  1. Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY)

  • It was launched on 1st July, 2015 with the motto of ‘Har Khet Ko Paani’.
  • It provides end-to end solutions in irrigation supply chain, viz. water sources, distribution network and farm level applications.
  • It not only focuses on creating sources for assured irrigation, but also creating protective irrigation by harnessing rain water at micro level through ‘Jal Sanchay’ and ‘Jal Sinchan’.
  • Micro irrigation is to be popularized to ensure ‘Per drop-More crop’.
  • It adopts State level planning and projectile execution that allows States to draw up their own irrigation development based on District Irrigation Plans and State Irrigation Plans.

Objectives

  • To promote natural resource based integrated and climate resilient sustainable farming systems that ensure maintenance and increase of soil fertility, natural resource conservation, on-farm nutrient recycling and minimize dependence of farmers on external inputs.
  • To reduce cost of agriculture to farmers through sustainable integrated organic farming systems thereby enhancing farmer’s net income per unit of land.
  • To sustainably produce chemical free and nutritious food for human consumption.
  • To protect environment from hazardous inorganic chemicals by adoption of ecofriendly low cost traditional techniques and farmer friendly technologies.
  • To empower farmers through their own institutional development in the form of clusters and group with capacity to manage production, processing, value addition and certification management.
  • To make farmers entrepreneurs through direct market linkages with local and national markets.

Components:

  • Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP): implemented by Ministry of Water Resources, RD & GR.
  • PMKSY (Har Khet ko Pani): implemented by Ministry of Water Resources, RD & GR
  • PMKSY (Watershed): implemented by Department of Land Resources.
  • PMKSY(Per Drop More Crop – PDMC)

Implementation:

Programme architecture of PMKSY will be to adopt a ‘decentralized State level planning and projectised execution’ structure that will allow States to draw up their own irrigation development plans based on District Irrigation Plan (DIP) and State Irrigation Plan (SIP).

It will be operative as convergence platform for all water sector activities including drinking water & sanitation, MGNREGA, application of science & technology etc. through comprehensive plan. State Level Sanctioning Committee (SLSC) chaired by the Chief Secretary of the State will be vested with the authority to oversee its implementation and sanction projects.

AIBP

  • To focus on faster completion of ongoing Major and Medium Irrigation including National Projects.

PMKSY (Har Khet ko Pani)

  •  Creation of new water sources through Minor Irrigation (both surface and ground water)
  • Repair, restoration and renovation of water bodies; strengthening carrying capacity of traditional water sources, construction rain water harvesting structures (Jal Sanchay);
  • Command area development, strengthening and creation of distribution network from source to the farm;
  • Improvement in water management and distribution system for water bodies to take advantage of the available source which is not tapped to its fullest capacity (deriving benefits from low hanging fruits). At least 10% of the command area to be covered under micro/precision irrigation.
  • Diversion of water from source of different location where it is plenty to nearby water scarce areas, lift irrigation from water bodies/rivers at lower elevation to supplement requirements beyond IWMP and MGNREGS irrespective of irrigation command.
  • Creation and rejuvenation of traditional water storage systems like Jal Mandir (Gujarat); Khatri, Kuhl (H.P.); Zabo (Nagaland); Eri, Ooranis (T.N.); Dongs (Assam); Katas, Bandhas (Odisha and M.P.) etc. at feasible locations.

PMKSY (Watershed)

  •  Water harvesting structures such as check dams, nala bund, farm ponds, tanks etc.
  • Capacity building, entry point activities, ridge area treatment, drainage line treatment, soil and moisture conservation, nursery raising, afforestation, horticulture, pasture development, livelihood activities for the asset-less persons and production system & micro enterprises for small and marginal farmers etc.
  • Effective rainfall management like field bunding, contour bunding/trenching, staggered trenching, land levelling, mulching etc.

PMKSY (Per drop more crop)

  •  Programme management, preparation of State/District Irrigation Plan, approval of annual action plan, Monitoring etc.
  • Promoting efficient water conveyance and precision water application devices like drips, sprinklers, pivots, rain-guns in the farm (Jal Sinchan);
  • Topping up of input cost particularly under civil construction beyond permissible limit (40%), under MGNREGS for activities like lining inlet, outlet, silt traps, distribution system etc.
  • Construction of micro irrigation structures to supplement source creation activities including tube wells and dug wells (in areas where ground water is available and not under semi critical /critical /over exploited category of development) which are not supported under PMKSY (WR), PMKSY (Watershed) and MGNREGS.
  • Secondary storage structures at tail end of canal system to store water when available in abundance (rainy season) or from perennial sources like streams for use during dry periods through effective on-farm water management;
  • Water lifting devices like diesel/ electric/ solar pumpsets including water carriage pipes.
  • Extension activities for promotion of scientific moisture conservation and agronomic measures including cropping alignment to maximise use of available water including rainfall and minimise irrigation requirement (Jal sarankchan);
  • Capacity building, training for encouraging potential use water source through technological, agronomic and management practices including community irrigation.
  • Awareness campaign on water saving technologies, practices, programmes etc., organisation of workshops, conferences, publication of booklets, pamphlets, success stories, documentary, advertisements etc.
  • Improved/innovative distribution system like pipe and box outlet system with controlled outlet and other activities of enhancing water use efficiency.

Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY)

  • It is implemented with a view to promote organic farming in the country.
  • To improve soil health and organic matter content and increase net income of the farmer so as to realise premium prices.
  • It is a sub-component of Soil Health Management SHM scheme under NMSA aims at development of sustainable models of organic farming through a mix of traditional wisdom and modern science to ensure long term soil fertility buildup, resource conservation and helps in climate change adaptation and mitigation.
  • It primarily aims to increase soil fertility and thereby helps in production of healthy food through organic practices without the use of agro-chemicals.
  • It also aims at empowering farmers through institutional development through clusters approach not only in farm practice management, input production, quality assurance but also in value addition and direct marketing through innovative means.
  • Participatory Guarantee System will be the key approach for quality assurances under the PKVY.
    • The farmers will have option to adopt any form of organic farming in compliance of PGS-India standards.
    • While adopting a system it must be ensured that the system adopted is compatible to the area and crop and assures optimum yield and provides adequate measures to manage nutrients, pests and diseases.
    • Farmers will have the flexibility to use appropriate package of practice(s) best suited to their situations.
  1. National Agriculture Market (e-NAM)

It provides e-marketing platform at national level and support creation of infrastructure to enable e-marketing.

This innovative market process is revolutionizing agriculture markets by ensuring better price discovery. It brings in transparency and competition to enable farmers to get improved remuneration for their produce moving towards ‘One Nation One Market’.

National Agriculture Market (eNAM) is a pan-India electronic trading portal which networks the existing APMC mandis to create a unified national market for agricultural commodities.

Small Farmers Agribusiness Consortium (SFAC) is the lead agency for implementing eNAM under the aegis of Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, Government of India.

VISION

To promote uniformity in agriculture marketing by streamlining of procedures across the integrated markets, removing information asymmetry between buyers and sellers and promoting real time price discovery based on actual demand and supply.

MISSION

Integration of APMCs across the country through a common online market platform to facilitate pan-India trade in agriculture commodities, providing better price discovery through transparent auction process based on quality of produce along with timely online payment.

Issues with APMCs:

  • Limited number of traders in APMC markets thereby reducing competition,
  • Cartelization of traders, and
  • Undue deductions in the form of commission charges and market fee.

Most farmers lack access to government procurement facilities including APMC markets. 

Reforms in APMC Acts: The Acts are highly restrictive in promotion of multiple channels of marketing and competition in the system.  The central government is continuously pursuing state governments for reform in APMC Acts through model Acts.  However, there is lukewarm response of state governments towards reforms in the Acts.  The central government should constitute a Committee of Agriculture Ministers of all states to arrive at a consensus and design a legal framework for agriculture marketing.

3 marketing reforms in the APMC Act that the states desirous of linking their mandis with e-NAM are required to carry out 

  • Single point levy of mandi fee,
  • Unified trade license valid across all mandis of State
  • Provision of e-auction. 

After carrying out reforms, States are required to propose their wholesale regulated markets for integration with e-NAM platform based on States priorities, which are then considered by Government of India for integration. 

585 markets across 18 states are connected on the portal of the Electronic National Agriculture Market (e-NAM) scheme. 

Availability of markets:  the average area served by an APMC market is 496 sq. km., which is much higher than the 80 sq. km. recommended by the National Commission on Farmers (Chair: Dr. M. S. Swaminathan) in 2006.  There is a need of 41,000 markets to meet this requirement. The central government should 

  • Initiate consultation with state governments to increase the number of agriculture markets, and

Gramin Haats: The Gramin Haats can provide farmers direct access to consumers, require less transportation cost, and thus, may emerge as a viable alternative for agriculture marketing.  Central government to hold discussions with state governments to keep Gramin Haats out of the ambit of the APMC Acts.

GrAM scheme: The aim of the Gramin Agricultural Markets (GrAM) scheme is to improve the infrastructure and civic facilities in Gramin Haats across the country. 

Under the scheme, 4,600 of the existing 22,000 Haats will be developed and upgraded using MGNREGA and other government schemes. 

Increase the number of Haats being targeted under the scheme and ensure presence of a Haat in each panchayat of the country, and make the scheme a fully funded central scheme.

  1. Rainfed Area Development Programme (RADP)

Rainfed Area Development Programme (RADP) was implemented as a sub-scheme under Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY).

  • To improve quality of life of farmers’ especially, small and marginal farmers by offering a complete package of activities to maximize farm returns.
  • Increasing agricultural productivity of rainfed areas in a sustainable manner by adopting appropriate farming system based approaches.
  • To minimise the adverse impact of possible crop failure due to drought, flood or un-even rainfall distribution through diversified and composite farming system.
  • Restoration of confidence in rainfed agriculture by creating sustained employment opportunities through improved on-farm technologies and cultivation practices
  • Enhancement of farmer’s income and livelihood support for reduction of poverty in rainfed areas

Rainfed areas account for nearly 57 per cent of the agricultural land in India. These areas assume special significance in terms of ecology, agricultural productivity and livelihoods for millions. With proper management, rainfed areas have the potential of contributing a larger share to food grain production. In-fact the potential is such that there is more opportunity for faster agricultural growth here than in irrigated areas.

The basic endeavour of this programme is to encourage exploitation of different farming systems based on the natural resource endowments created by the farmer or by schemes like the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA), Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY), National Horticulture Mission (NHM).

This would reduce the risk of crop losses due to weather vagaries, harness efficiency of resources, assure food and livelihood security etc.

The objective of the programme is to improve the quality of life of the farmer, especially that of the small and marginal farmer.

This would be done by offering a package that would maximize farm returns by increasing agricultural productivity, minimizing adverse impact of crop failure caused by drought, floods etc. and restoration of confidence in this form of agriculture by creating sustained employment opportunities through improved on-farm technologies, etc.

The strategy would focus on multi-cropping, rotational cropping, inter-cropping, mixed-cropping along with allied activities that include horticulture, livestock etc.

This would not only maximise farm returns but also mitigate impacts of floods, drought etc. To do this the programme will focus on –

  • Minimum tillage practice,
  • Support of existing income generating activities like fisheries, agriculture, mushroom etc. Conducting complementary activities like construction of ponds, land treatment, wells, supply of pumps etc,
  • Adoption of a cluster approach to utilize the potential of available or created common resources,
  • Support for value addition and storage structures to facilitate better returns for farm produce.

Financial resources of Rs 100,000/- will be provided to farmers in arid & semi-arid zones and Rs 80,000/- for sub-humid & humid areas. This money does not include that for construction of tanks and polyhouses. 

The programme would be implemented in all rainfed areas which have large areas of cultivable land and which have potential for increasing agricultural productivity.

Other areas would be –

  • The districts having less than 60% of cultivated area under irrigation and influenced by arid, semi-arid etc. agro-ecosystems
  • Areas already developed under watershed development schemes,
  • Areas where water resources have been developed under MNREGA etc.
  • Areas being developed under new watershed schemes,
  • Areas where some commodities are being promoted under,
  • New areas which have potential.

This programme will be implemented within the RKVY.

The state agricultural department will be the nodal agency for the implementation of the scheme.

To ensure proper coordination the principal district agriculture officer/joint director may involve Agricultural Technology Management Agency (ATMA).

Project proposals will need to include village development plans.

  1. Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY)

PMFBY is an actuarial premium based scheme under which farmer has to pay maximum premium of 2% for Kharif, 1.5% for Rabi food & oilseed crops and 5% for annual commercial/horticultural crops and remaining part of the actuarial/bid premium is shared equally by the Centre and State Government.

One of the objectives of the scheme is to facilitate prompt claims settlement. The claims must be settled within two months of harvest subject to timely provision of both yield data and share of premium subsidy by the State Government.

It is the new crop insurance scheme launched by Central Government in January 2016 to replace the existing two schemes National Agricultural Insurance Scheme (NAIS) as well as Modified NAIS which have had some inherent drawbacks.

It will be implemented in every state of India, with association with the respective State Governments. This crop insurance scheme will be administered under the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, Government of India.

Previous Crop Insurance Schemes

  • 1985- Comprehensive Crop Insurance scheme
  • 1999- National Agricultural Insurance Scheme
  • 2007- Weather based crop insurance scheme
  • 2010- Modified National Agricultural Insurance Scheme

Improvements via PMFBY to overcome the problems and the weaknesses of the NAIS and MNAIS

  • A technical committee was proposed to be set up in each district to decide the scale of finance for the sum insured.
  • The premiums are to be decided on an actuarial basis which would give credibility to the process of setting premiums.
  • Bids are invited from public and private insurance companies to decide the premiums, thus adding an element of competition which would work in the favor of the farmers.
  • The farmers were required to pay the premiums at a subsidized rate and rest is paid by the government as mentioned above.
  • Use of technology such as smart phones, GPS, drones and satellites to ensure accuracy, transparency, and;
  • Faster assessment of damages and settling claims.

Unit of Insurance

The Scheme shall be implemented on an ‘Area Approach Basis’. For major crops, the Unit of Insurance shall ordinarily be Village/Village Panchayat level and for minor crops may be at a higher level depending upon the requirement.

Farmers to be covered

All farmers growing notified crops in a notified area during the season who have insurable interest in the crop are eligible.

Compulsory Coverage

The enrolment under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana scheme, subject to possession of insurable interest on the cultivation of the notified crop in the notified area, shall be compulsory for following categories of farmers:

  • Farmers in the notified area who possess a Crop Loan account/KCC account (called as Loanee Farmers) to whom credit limit is sanctioned/renewed for the notified crop during the crop season.
  • Such other farmers whom the Government may decide to include from time to time.
  1. Rashtriya Gokul Mission

Rashtriya Gokul Mission (RGM) has been launched in December 2014 with an outlay of Rs 2025 crore for development and conservation of indigenous breeds through selective breeding in the breeding tract and genetic upgradation of nondescript bovine population. The scheme comprises of two components namely National Programme for Bovine Breeding (NPBB) and National Mission on Bovine Productivity (NMBP).

Objectives of RGM

  • Development and conservation of indigenous breeds;
  • Breed improvement programme for indigenous breeds so as to improve the genetic makeup and increase the stock;
  • Enhancing milk production and productivity of bovine population by increasing disease free high genetic merit female population and check on spread of diseases ;
  • Upgrading non-descript cattle using elite indigenous breeds like Gir, Sahiwal, Rathi, Deoni, Tharparkar, Red Sindhi ;
  • Distribution of disease free high genetic merit bulls for natural service;
  • To bring all breedable females under organised breeding through AI or natural service using germ plasm of high genetic merits;
  • To arrange quality Artificial Insemination (AI) services at farmers’ doorstep;
  • To create e-market portal for bovine germplasm for connecting breeders and farmers;
  • To increase trade of livestock and livestock products by meeting out sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) issues;
  • To select breeding bulls of high genetic merit at a young age through application of genomics.

 

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

1.Compressed Bio-Gas

Bio-gas is produced naturally through a process of anaerobic decomposition from waste / bio-mass sources like agriculture residue, cattle dung, sugarcane press mud, municipal solid waste, sewage treatment plant waste, etc.

After purification, it is compressed and called CBG, which has pure methane content of over 95%. Compressed Bio-Gas is exactly similar to the commercially available natural gas in its composition and energy potential. With calorific value (~52,000 KJ/kg) and other properties similar to CNG, Compressed Bio-Gas can be used as an alternative, renewable automotive fuel.

Given the abundance of biomass in the country, Compressed Bio-Gas has the potential to replace CNG in automotive, industrial and commercial uses in the coming years.

2.Sustainable Alternative Towards Affordable Transportation (SATAT)

SATAT, an initiative aimed at providing a Sustainable Alternative towards Affordable Transportation as a developmental effort that would benefit both vehicle-users as well as farmers and entrepreneurs.

This initiative holds great promise for efficient municipal solid waste management and in tackling the problem of polluted urban air due to farm stubble-burning and carbon emissions.

Use of CBG will also help bring down dependency on crude oil imports and in realising the Prime Minister’s vision of enhancing farmers’ income, rural employment and entrepreneurship.

3.Methanol Cooking Fuel Program

The cooking medium can directly substitute LPG, Kerosene, Wood, Charcoal and any other fuel for cooking. The gaseous form, Methanol – DME, can be blended in 20% ratio with LPG. LPG-DME blending program is expected to kickstart in the country by next year.

4.UNNATI

A capacity building programme on Nanosatellite development, is an initiative by ISRO to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first United Nations conference on the exploration and peaceful uses of outer space (UNISPACE-50).

The programme provides opportunities to the participating developing countries to strengthen in assembling, integrating and testing of Nanosatellite.

UNNATI programme is planned to be conducted for 3 years by U.R. Rao Satellite Centre of ISRO in 3 batches and will target to benefit officials of 45 countries. The first batch consisted of 30 delegates from 17 countries are participating.

5.Science communication initiatives

The Department of Science and Technology (DST) along with Doordarshan (DD), Prasar Bharati launched two science communication initiatives, DD Science and India Science.

While DD Science is a one-hour slot on Doordarshan National channel, which will be telecast Monday to Saturday from 5pm to 6pm, India Science is an internet-based channel, which is available on any internet-enabled device, and will offer live, scheduled play and video-on-demand services.

6.India International Science Festival (IISF)-2018

With its focal theme “Science for Transformation” IISF is conceivably the biggest platform in India that brings together students, researchers, artists and general public to celebrate our nation’s achievements in science and technology.

It is a medium to encourage the young minds towards the field of science and to promote the networking of stakeholders working towards the propagation of science.

Through this festival, the largest of its kind in the country and in this region, it is expected that the message of excitement of Science and scientific temper will be spread to the students and will be inspiring for the youth.

All stakeholders have assembled to collectively work towards “Vigyan se Vikas”– contributing to the Making of a New India.

7.OneerTM

Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, Indian Institute of Toxicology Research (CSIR-IITR), Lucknow has developed an innovative technology for “Drinking Water Disinfection System” with Trade name “OneerTM”.

It is useful for continuous treatment of water and eliminates all disease causing pathogens such as virus, bacteria, fungi, protozoa and cyst to provide safe drinking water to domestic and communities settings as per National and International standards prescribed for potable water (BIS, WHO etc.).

8.Civil Aviation Regulations (CAR)

In August 2018, India had announced the release of its Civil Aviation Regulations (CAR) to enable safe flying of drones in India. 

The CAR detailed the obligations of operators, remote pilots/ users and manufacturers for safe operations of RPAS and co-operative use of airspace.

Remotely Piloted Aerial Systems (RPAS), popularly referred to as drones, are a technology platform with wide-ranging applications. 

To get permissions to fly, RPAS operators or remote pilots will have to file a flight plan.

Under the new regulations, the Aviation Ministry has divided the airspace into three zones, the locations of which will be announced soon.

                The zones are

  • Green Zone (automatic permission): Flying in this zone will require intimation of the time and location of the flights through the digital sky portal the app.
  • Yellow Zone (controlled airspace): Permissions will be required for flying in this zone.
  • Red Zone (flying not permitted): No drones will be allowed to operate in this zone. The permissions to operate or fly the drones, if granted, will be available digitally on the portal.

9.Digital Sky Platform 

  • It is the first-of-its-kind national unmanned traffic management (UTM) platform that implements “no permission, no take-off” (NPNT).
  • The platform has been built to evolve with the evolving needs of this rapidly changing industry. Its users will be required to do a one-time registration of their drones, pilots and owners.
  • For every flight (except for the Nano category), the users will be required to ask for permission to fly on a mobile app and an automated process will permit or deny the request instantly.
  • To prevent unauthorised flights and to ensure public safety, any drone without a digital permit to fly will simply not be able to take off.

  • The UTM operates as a traffic regulator in the drone airspace and coordinates closely with the defence and civilian air traffic controllers (ATCs) to ensure that drones remain on the approved flight paths.

10.GSAT 11

  • Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) heaviest and most-advanced high throughput communication satellite GSAT-11 was successfully launched from the Spaceport in French Guiana.
  • The 5,854-kg GSAT-11 will provide high data rate connectivity to users of Indian mainland and islands through 32 user beams in Ku-band and 8 hub beams in Ka-band.
  • GSAT-11 will boost the broadband connectivity to rural and inaccessible Gram Panchayats in the country coming under the Bharat Net Project, which is part of Digital India Programme.
  • The Bharat Net Project aims to enhance the public welfare schemes like e-banking, e-health, e-governance among others.
  • GSAT-11 will act as a forerunner to all future high throughput communication satellites.
  • GSAT-11 will be positioned at 74-degree east longitude in the geostationary orbit
  • Subsequently, the two solar arrays and four antenna reflectors of GSAT-11 will be deployed in orbit. The satellite will be operational after the successful completion of all in-orbit tests.

11.Bharat Net Project

It seeks to connect all of India’s households, particularly in rural areas, through broadband, forming the backbone of the government’s ambitious Digital India programme.

It is Union Government’s ambitious rural internet connectivity programme, implemented by Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL).

Earlier National Optical Fibre Network or NOFN failed due to slow implementation. NOFN is now rebranded as BharatNet. 

At present, a special purpose vehicle, Bharat Broadband Network Ltd (BBNL), under the telecom ministry is handling the rollout of optical fibre network.

The project is being executed by BSNL, Railtel and Power Grid.

It is world’s largest rural broadband connectivity programme using optical fibre.  The project is being funded by Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF).

BharatNet project is being implemented in three phases:

  • First phase – One lakh gram panchayats would be provided connectivity by laying underground optic fibre cable (OFC) lines.
  • Second phase – Connectivity will be provided to all 2, 50,500 gram panchayats.
  • Third phase – State-of-the-art and future-proof network, including fibre among districts and blocks would be created.

12.Space activities Bill, 2017

The Government has invited suggestions from the public or stakeholders regarding the draft Space Activities Bill, 2017.

  • The objective of the Space Bill is to facilitate the overall growth of the space activities in India with higher order of participation of public/ non-governmental/ private sector stakeholders.
  • The Bill provides for establishment of a regulatory mechanism through an appropriate body, by the Central Government for the purpose of authorization and licensing of space activities.
  • The provision on liability for damages caused by space activities of licensee, provides for a risk sharing mechanism, by which the central Government may determine the quantum of liability to be borne by the licensee.
  • The provisions of the Bill are applicable to all Indian citizens and to those sectors which are engaged in space activity either inside or outside the country.
  • It provides for the grant of non-transferable licence to those people engaged in commercial space activity.
  • It provides for the appropriate mechanisms for licensing, eligibility criteria, and fee for licence.
  • It will provide for the maintenance of a register for all space objects by the union government. Space objects here are those objects launched or likely to be launched around the earth.
  • The new Bill provide for professional and technical support for carrying out commercial space activity.
  • The provisions in the Bill will ensure safety requirements and supervise every space activity in India. The Bill contains provisions for the investigation of accidents in connection with the operation of a space activity. 
  • The Bill has provisions for sharing of details about the pricing of products created by space activity & technology with any person/agency in a prescribed manner.

13.FAME-India Scheme

  • In order to promote manufacturing of electric and hybrid vehicle technology and to ensure sustainable growth of the same, Department of Heavy Industry is implementing FAME-India Scheme- Phase-I [Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles in India].
  • The scheme was initially launched for up to 31st April 2017; has been extended up to 31st March, 2019 or till Notification of FAME-II, whichever is earlier.
  • The Phase-II of the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles (FAME-India) Scheme proposes to give a push to electric vehicles (EVs) in public transport and seeks to encourage adoption of EVs by way of market creation and demand aggregation.
  • The draft scheme envisages the holistic growth of EV industry, including providing for charging infrastructure, research and development of EV technologies and push towards greater indigenization. The scheme has not been finalized yet.
  • Since inception of the scheme, several segments have been added to the scheme so as to ensure that more people take advantage of this scheme.
  • In this spirit, support to fully electric buses have been added to the scheme to support electrification of public transport.
  • 100 % FDI by automatic route is permitted in the automobile sector. Further, automobile sector is in deregulated sector and both private sector and public sector are free to carry out investment in the automobile sector, including for manufacturing of Electric Vehicles and E-Buses.

14.National Policy on Biofuels-2018

The Policy categorises biofuels as “Basic Biofuels” to enable extension of appropriate financial and fiscal incentives under each category:

  • First Generation (1G) – Bioethanol & biodiesel and “Advanced Biofuels”
  • Second Generation (2G) – Ethanol, Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) to drop-in fuels
  • Third Generation (3G) – Biofuels, bio-CNG etc.

The Policy expands the scope of raw material for ethanol production by allowing use of Sugarcane Juice, Sugar containing materials like Sugar Beet, Sweet Sorghum, Starch containing materials like Corn, Cassava, Damaged food grains like wheat, broken rice, Rotten Potatoes, unfit for human consumption for ethanol production.

Farmers are at a risk of not getting appropriate price for their produce during the surplus production phase. Taking this into account, the Policy allows use of surplus food grains for production of ethanol for blending with petrol with the approval of National Biofuel Coordination Committee.

With a thrust on Advanced Biofuels, the Policy indicates a viability gap funding scheme for 2G ethanol Bio refineries of Rs.5000 crore in 6 years in addition to additional tax incentives, higher purchase price as compared to 1G biofuels.

The Policy encourages setting up of supply chain mechanisms for biodiesel production from non-edible oilseeds, Used Cooking Oil, short gestation crops.

Roles and responsibilities of all the concerned Ministries/Departments with respect to biofuels has been captured in the Policy document to synergise efforts.

15.GSLV MK III

  • GSLV Mk III is a three-stage heavy lift launch vehicle developed by ISRO. The vehicle has two solid strap-ons, a core liquid booster and a cryogenic upper stage.
  • GSLV Mk III is designed to carry 4 ton class of satellites into Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) or about 10 tons to Low Earth Orbit (LEO), which is about twice the capability of GSLV Mk II.
  • The two strap-on motors of GSLV Mk III are located on either side of its core liquid booster. Designated as ‘S200’, each carries 205 tons of composite solid propellant and their ignition results in vehicle lift -off. During strap-ons functioning phase, the two clustered Vikas liquid Engines of L110 liquid core booster augment the thrust of the vehicle. These two engines continue to function after the separation of the strap-ons at about 140 seconds after lift -off.
  • The first experimental flight of LVM3, the LVM3-X/CARE mission lifted off from Sriharikota on December 18, 2014 and successfully tested the atmospheric phase of flight. Crew module Atmospheric Reentry Experiment was also carried out in this flight. The module reentered, deployed its parachutes as planned and splashed down in the Bay of Bengal.
  • The first developmental flight of GSLV Mk III, the GSLV-Mk III-D1 successfully placed GSAT-19 satellite to a Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) on June 05, 2017 from SDSC SHAR, Sriharikota.
  • GSLV MkIII-D2, the second developmental flight of GSLV MkIII successfully launched GSAT-29, a high throughput communication satellite on November 14, 2018 from Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota.

16.Kimberley Process

  • The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) is the process established in 2000 to prevent conflict diamonds from entering the mainstream rough diamond market.
  • It was ruled by UNGA Resolution 55/56 following recommendations in the Fowler Report.
  • The process was set up to ensure that diamond purchases were not financing violence by rebel movements and their allies seeking to undermine legitimate governments recognized by United Nations
  • The KPCS Plenary 2018, was held in Brussels, Belgium in November 2018 and EU handed over the chair of KPCS to India from January, 2019.
  • The next session is slated to be held in India as Chair. Botswana and the Russian Federation will serve as Vice-Chair during the period of 2019-2020.

India and KPCS

  • India is the founding member of KPCS and is actively involved in KP activities to ensure that almost 99% of the diamond trade in the world is conflict free.
  • India is committed to maintain KP as an efficient and effective process in order to ensure the conflict diamond free status.
  • India is at the forefront in addressing the issue of differentiation between Natural Diamonds and Lab Grown Diamonds and ensure responsible business in this area.
  • India chaired the Ad hoc Committee on Review and Reform (AHCRR).

Importance of KPCS

  • 2018 was the fifteenth anniversary of KPCS. Since its launch in 2003, the Kimberley Process has contributed towards peace, security and prosperity.
  • It has proven to be an effective multilateral tool for conflict prevention in stemming the flow of conflict diamonds.
  • The Kimberley Process has made valuable developmental impact in improving the lives of most people dependent on the trade in diamonds.

 17.HysIS

HysIS, the country’s first hyperspectral imaging satellite for advanced Earth observation. It is launched with about 30 small satellites of foreign customers on the PSLV launcher, numbered C-43.

About HysIS and its significance:

  • The primary goal of HysIS is to study the Earth’s surface in visible, near-infrared and shortwave infrared regions of the electromagnetic spectrum.
  • HysIS will be ISRO’s first full-scale working satellite with this capability. While the technology has been around, not many space agencies have working satellites with hyperspectral imaging cameras as yet.
  • A hyperspectral imaging camera in space can provide well-defined images that can help to identify objects on Earth far more clearly than regular optical or remote sensing cameras.
  • The technology will be an added advantage of watching over India from space for a variety of purposes such as defence, agriculture, land use, minerals and so on.
  • HySIS carries two payloads, the first in the Visible Near Infrared (VNIR) spectral and the second in the Shortwave Infrared Range (SWIR) spectral range .

18.DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill, 2018

The Bill seeks to provide for the regulation of use and application of DNA technology.

DNA regulation board:

  • The board will certify labs authorized to carry out DNA testing and lay down procedure and guidelines for collection, storage, sharing and deletion of DNA information.
  • The Secretary of the Department of Biotechnology has been made the ex-officio chairman of the proposed DNA Regulatory Board.

DNA Data Bank:

A National DNA Databank and certain regional DNA Databanks will store DNA profiles received from DNA labs in a specified format.

Limited purpose:

The Bill states that DNA data contained in any DNA labs and Databank shall be used for the purpose of facilitating identification of the person and not for any other purpose. It will only be made available to facilitate the identification of persons in criminal cases.

Safeguard against misuse:

The Bill states that disclosure of DNA information to unauthorized persons, or for unauthorized purposes, shall lead to penalties up to three years in jail or up to Rs 1 lakh as fine.

The proposed legislation will enable cross-matching of DNA of persons reported missing and unidentified dead bodies and also for establishing the identity of victims during mass disasters.

It seeks to ensure that DNA test results are reliable and the data is protected from misuse or abuse in terms of people’s privacy rights.

Use of DNA Data: The Bill regulates DNA testing for identification of persons, in respect of matters listed in the Schedule.  This includes offences under the Indian Penal Code, 1860, as well as offences under other laws such as the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956, the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955, and the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.
 

The Schedule also allows for DNA testing in certain civil matters. This includes matters such as parentage disputes, issues related to pedigree, immigration or emigration, assisted reproductive technologies, transplantation of human organs, and for the establishment of individual identity.

Consent for collecting bodily substances 

  • In case of a person arrested for an offence which carries punishment upto seven years, the authorities are required to obtain his written consent before collecting his bodily substances. If consent is not given, the authorities may approach a Magistrate who may order the taking of bodily substances from the individual, if he is satisfied that DNA will confirm or disprove the individual’s involvement in the alleged offence. If the offence carries a punishment of more than seven years of imprisonment or death, consent is not required.
     
  • If a person is a victim, or relative of a missing person, authorities are required to obtain their written consent to collect bodily substances. In case of a minor or disabled person, the written consent of the parent or guardian is required. If consent is not given, the authorities may approach a Magistrate who may order taking of the bodily substances of the person.

DNA Data Bank

  • The central government will establish a National DNA Data Bank and Regional DNA Data Banks for each state, or two or more states, as it may deem necessary.
  • Every DNA Data Bank is required to maintain the following indices based on DNA testing conducted by a DNA laboratory:
    • Crime scene index
    • Suspects’ or under-trials’ index
    • Offenders’ index
    • Missing persons’ index, and
    • Unknown deceased persons’ index.

Sharing of DNA data with Data Banks

  • All DNA laboratories will share DNA data prepared by them with the National and Regional DNA Data Banks.
  • In criminal cases, the laboratory is required to return the biological sample to the investigating officer after depositing the DNA profile with the DNA Data Banks. In all other cases, the laboratory will destroy the sample and inform the concerned person.

DNA Regulatory Board

The Bill provides for a DNA Regulatory Board, which will supervise DNA Data Banks and DNA laboratories. The Secretary in the Department of Biotechnology, will be the ex-officio Chairperson of the Board.

19.Pradhan Mantri JI-VAN Yojana

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved the “Pradhan Mantri JI-VAN (Jaiv Indhan- Vatavaran Anukool fasal awashesh Nivaran) Yojana” for providing financial support to Integrated Bioethanol Projects using lignocellulosic biomass and other renewable feedstock.

The scheme focuses to incentivise 2G Ethanol sector and support this nascent industry by creating a suitable ecosystem for setting up commercial projects and increasing Research & Development in this area.

Apart from supplementing the targets envisaged by the Government under EBP programme, the scheme will also have the following benefits:

  • Meeting Government of India vision of reducing import dependence by way of substituting fossil fuels with Biofuels.
  • Achieving the GHG emissions reduction targets through progressive blending/ substitution of fossil fuels.
  • Addressing environment concerns caused due to burning of biomass/ crop residues & improve health of citizens.
  • Improving farmer income by providing them remunerative income for their otherwise waste agriculture residues.
  • Creating rural & urban employment opportunities in 2G Ethanol projects and Biomass supply chain.
  • Contributing to Swacch Bharat Mission by supporting the aggregation of non­food biofuel feedstocks such as waste biomass and urban waste.
  • Indigenizing of Second Generation Biomass to Ethanol technologies

Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas has targeted to achieve 10% blending percentage of Ethanol in petrol by 2022.

20.Nipah Virus

  • Nipah virus (NiV) is a type of virus that can infect people and cause severe illness.
  • NiV is a zoonotic virus (a disease that animals can transmit to humans, known as a zoonosis).
  • The virus often infects animals such as pigs and fruit bats (Pteropodidae).
  • Nipah virus was first detected during a major infectious disease outbreak in Malaysia in 1998-99 and the virus was named after the Sungai Nipah village on the banks of Nipah River in Malaysia.
  • A new strain occurred in 2001 in Bangladesh and India (Siliguri). Small outbreaks of NiV have happened in these countries since 2001. An outbreak in India (state of Kerala) occurred in May 2018.
  • Pigs are considered as the intermediate hosts and he natural hosts are fruit bats (Pteropodidae family, Pteropus genus).
  • The virus spreads directly from human-to-human through close contact with people’s secretions and excretions. Eating partially-eaten fruits by infected bats and partially-cooked meat of infected animals can also trigger the virus. Drinking date palm sap/toddy/juice can also cause the infection.
  • Encephalitis (brain inflammation), nerve disorders, and respiratory problems are the major symptoms of Nipah virus infection.

ENVIRONMENT

1.Centrally Sponsored Umbrella Scheme of Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats (CSS-IDWH)

CSS-IDWH is extended beyond the 12thPlan period from 2017-18 to 2019-20. 

The Scheme consists of:

  • Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Project Tiger (CSS-PT)
  • Development of Wildlife Habitats (CSS-DWH)
  • Project Elephant (CSS-PE)

2.BRICS Nations on Environmental Cooperation

The Union Cabinet has signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed among the BRICS Nations on Environmental Cooperation.

The MoU was signed during the 10th BRICS Summit in July, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The MoU identifies the following stress of cooperation:

  • Air quality
  • Water
  • Biodiversity
  • Climate Change
  • Waste Management
  • Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Sustainable Development Goals
  • Other areas of cooperation as mutually agreed upon by the Participants

3.Less Polluting Firecrackers

CSIR scientists have developed Less Polluting Firecrackers which are not only environment friendly but 15-20 % cheaper than the conventional ones.

These crackers have been named as safe water releaser (SWAS), safe minimal aluminium (SAFAL) and safe thermite cracker (STAR).

SWAS:

  • It has unique property of releasing water vapour and /or air as dust suppressant and diluent for gaseous emissions and matching performance in sound with conventional crackers.
  • SWAS crackers eliminates usage of (KNO3) Potassium nitrate and Sulphur with consequent reduction in particulate matter (30-35%) SO2 and NOx. It has matching sound intensity with commercial crackers in the range of 105-110 dBA.
  • SWAS has been tested for shelf life upto 3 weeks with consistent performance.

SAFAL:

  • It has minimal usage of aluminium (only in flash powder for initiation) with consequent significant reduction in particulate matter (35-40 %) compared to commercial crackers.
  • It has matching sound intensity with commercial crackers in the range of 110-115 dBA.

STAR:

  • It eliminates usage of KNO3 and S with consequent reduction in particulate matter (35-40%), SO2 and NOx.
  • It has matching sound intensity with commercial crackers in the range of 105-110 dBA.

4.Conference on Sustainable Water Management

First International Conference on Sustainable Water Management held at Mohali on 10-11 December, 2018.

  • The main aim is to bring advancement in water management system to further reduce flood and draughts all over the Globe.
  • To foster the participation of and dialogue among various stakeholders, including governments, the scientific and academic communities, so as to promote sustainable policies for water management.
  • To create awareness of water-related problems, motivate commitment at the highest level for their solution and thus promote better management of water resources at local, regional, national and international levels.
  • The Union Ministry of Water Resources has estimated the country’s current water requirements to be around 1100 billion cubic metres per year, which is estimated to be around 1200 billion cubic metres for the year 2025 and 1447 billion cubic metres for the year 2050.
  • With a projected population growth of 1.4 billion people by 2050, the total available water resources would barely match the total water requirement of the country.
  • With an estimated per capita availability of 1,588 cu m/capita/year (CWC, 2010), India does not fall under the category of a water scarce country per se, rather it can be termed as a country under ‘water stress’. But it is widely believed that an aggregate estimation does not reveal the actual scenario.

5.Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification 2018

Principle of CRZ 2018 notification

Promoting economic growth in coastal regions while keeping in mind conservation principles of coastal regions

Reasons for introduction of CRZ 2018 notification

CRZ 2018 notification is based on recommendation of Shailesh Nayak committee constituted by Ministry of Environment in June 2014 for comprehensive evaluation of provisions under CRZ 2011 notification as demanded by various coastal States/UTs along with other stakeholders

Classification of CRZs

  • CRZ Iecologically sensitive areas such as mangroves, coral reefs, salt marshes, turtle nesting ground and the inter-tidal zone.
  • CRZ IIareas close to the shoreline, and which have been developed.
  • CRZ III- Coastal areas that are not substantially built up, including rural coastal areas.
  • CRZ IV- water area from Low Tide Line (LTL) to the limit of territorial waters of India.

Importance of Regulation of Coastal Zones

  • Protection of ecologically Sensitive Areas like mangroves, coral reefs which acts as shield against tsunami and cyclone
  • Improving the lives of coastal communities like fishing communities
  • Resilient measures for mitigating impacts of Climate Change and high intensity Cyclones
  • To balance development with conservation of coastal environment

Important Features of CRZ 2018 notification

  • CRZ Clearance: CRZ 2018 notification mandates only projects under CRZ I and CRZ IV would need clearance from Ministry of Environment whereas CRZ II and CRZ III projects has been delegated to respective states.
  • Rural area Development: CRZs 2018 sub categorizes CRZ III (rural) areas into CRZ III A and CRZ III B:
    • CRZ III A: Densely populated rural areas with a population density of 2161 per square kilometer as per 2011 Census. Such areas shall have an No Development Zone (NDZ) of 50 meters from the HTL as against 200 meters from the HTL stipulated in the CRZ Notification 2011.
    • CRZ-III B: Rural areas with population density of below 2161 per square kilometer as per 2011 Census. Such areas shall continue to have an NDZ of 200 meters from the HTL as in CRZ 2011
  • Urban Area Development: CRZ 2018 notification defreeze CRZ II (Urban Area)-Floor Space Index (FSI) or the Floor Area Ratio (FAR) to allow construction projects for redevelopment of such areas to meet emerging need. CRZ 2011 notification had frozen the same as per 1991 Development Control Regulation (DCR) levels
  • Tourism Infrastructure: CRZ 2018 notification permits temporary tourism facilities such as shacks, toilet blocks, drinking water facilities etc. in beaches and same is also now permissible in the “No Development Zone” (NDZ) of the CRZ-III areas but minimum distance of 10 m from HTL should be maintained for setting up of such facilities.
  • Island Conservation: CRZ 2018 notification stipulate No Development Zone of 20 m for all islands close to the mainland coast and for all Backwater Islands in the mainland. For bringing uniformity in treatment of such regions due to space limitations and unique geography of such regions
  • Ecologically Sensitive Areas Conservation: CRZ 2018 notification provides specific guidelines for conservation and management plan for Ecological Sensitive Areas
  • Pollution Abatement: CRZ 2018 notification allows treatment facilities as permeable activities to address the issue of pollution in coastal areas
  • Defense Infrastructure: CRZ 2018 notification accords necessary dispensation for defense and strategic projects

6.Sixth National report to Convention on Biological Diversity

India submitted its sixth national report (NR6) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) during the inaugural session of the meeting of the State Biodiversity Boards (SBBs) organized by the National Biodiversity Authority (NBA).

  • The NR6 highlights the progress India has made in achieving the 12 National Biodiversity Targets (NBT) set under the convention process.
  • With this India is among the first five countries in the world, the first in Asia and the first among the biodiversity-rich mega diverse nations, to have submitted Sixth National Report (NR6) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
  • The submission of national reports is a mandatory obligation on parties to international treaties, including the CBD.
  • India developed 12 National Biodiversity Targets in line with 20 global Aichi biodiversity targets.

Highlights of Report

  • India is one of the few countries where forest cover is on the rise, according to the 15th India State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2017.
  • While India has exceeded/overachieved two NBTs, it is on track to achieve eight NBTs and in respect of the remaining two NBTs also, India is striving to meet the targets by the stipulated time of 2020.
    • More than 20% of India’s total geographical area is under biodiversity conservation, India has exceeded the terrestrial component of 17% of Aichi target 11.
    • India published the first internationally recognized certificate of compliance (IRCC) under the Protocol in 2015, and since then published nearly 75% of the IRCCs. Thereby, achieving target relating to access and benefit sharing (ABS) by operationalizing the Nagoya Protocol on ABS.
  • The population of Lion has risen to over 520 in 2015, and elephants to 30,000 in 2015.
  • One-horned Indian Rhino which was on the brink of extinction during the early 20th century, now number 2400.
  • Further, while globally over 0.3 % of total recorded species are critically endangered, in India only 0.08% of the species recorded are in this category.
  • Measures have been adopted for sustainable management of agriculture, fisheries and forests, with a view to provide food and nutritional security to all without destroying the natural resource base while ensuring intergenerational environmental equity.
  • Programmes are in place to maintain genetic diversity of cultivated plants, farms livestock and their wild relatives, towards minimising genetic erosion and safeguarding their genetic diversity.
  • Mechanisms and enabling environment are being created for recognising and protecting the vast heritage of coded and oral traditional knowledge relating to biodiversity.

Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

  • The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), a legally binding treaty to conserve biodiversity has been in force since 1993. It has 3 main objectives:
    • The conservation of biological diversity.
    • The sustainable use of the components of biological diversity.
    • The fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources.
  • Nearly all countries have ratified it (notably, the US has signed but not ratified).
  • The CBD Secretariat is based in Montreal, Canada and it operates under the United Nations Environment Programme.
  • The Parties (Countries) under Convention of Biodiversity (CBD), meet at regular interval and these meetings are called Conference of Parties (COP).
  • On 29 January 2000, the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP5) adopted a supplementary agreement to the Convention known as the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. It came into force on 11 September 2003.
    • The Protocol seeks to protect biological diversity from the potential risks posed by living modified organisms resulting from modern biotechnology.
  • The Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization (ABS) to the Convention on Biological Diversity was adopted on 29 October 2010 in Nagoya, Japan at COP10. It entered into force on 12 October 2014.
    • It provides a transparent legal framework for the effective implementation of one of the three objectives of the CBD: the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources.
    • It not only applies to genetic resources that are covered by the CBD, and to the benefits arising from their utilization but also covers traditional knowledge (TK) associated with genetic resources that are covered by the CBD and the benefits arising from its utilization.
  • Along with Nagoya Protocol on Genetic Resources, the COP-10 also adopted a ten-year framework for action by all countries to save biodiversity.
  • Officially known as “Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020”, provide a set of 20 ambitious yet achievable targets (divided into 5 sections: A to E), collectively known as the Aichi Targets for biodiversity.
  • The Aichi Biodiversity Targets are:
    • Strategic Goal A: Address the underlying causes of biodiversity loss by mainstreaming biodiversity across government and society
    • Strategic Goal B: Reduce the direct pressures on biodiversity and promote sustainable use.
    • Strategic Goal C: To improve the status of biodiversity by safeguarding ecosystems, species and genetic diversity
    • Strategic Goal D: Enhance the benefits to all from biodiversity and ecosystem services
    • Strategic Goal E: Enhance implementation through participatory planning, knowledge management and capacity building.
  • India enacted Biological Diversity Act in 2002 for giving effect to the provisions of the CBD.
  • The National Biodiversity Authority is a statutory body, which was established by the Central Government in 2003 to implement India’s Biological Diversity Act (2002).
    • It performs facilitative, regulatory and advisory functions for the Government of India on issues of conservation, sustainable use of biological resources and fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the use of biological resources.
    • The NBA is headquartered in Chennai, Tamil Nadu.
  • International Biological Diversity Day is observed on 22 May. Theme for 2018: “Celebrating 25 Years of Action for Biodiversity”.
  • United Nations General Assembly had declared the period 2011-2020 to be the “United Nations Decade on Biodiversity”.
  1. National River Conservation Plan

The Ganga Action Plan (GAP) Phase – I which was taken up as 100% Centrally funded scheme and aimed at preventing the pollution of river Ganga and to improve its water quality. The plan was started in June 1985.

The program of river cleaning was extended to other major rivers of the country under two separate schemes of GAP Phase – II and the National River Conservation Plan (NRCP).

Yamuna and Gomati Action Plans were approved in April 1993 under Ganga Action Plan Phase – II. Programs of other major rivers were subsequently approved in 1995 under NRCP. After launching of NRCP in 1995, it was decided to merge GAP II with NRCP.

The objective of NRCP is to reduce the pollution load in rivers through implementation of various pollution abatement works, thereby improving their water quality.

The following pollution abatement works are taken:

  • Interception and Diversion works to capture the raw sewage flowing into the river through open drains and divert them for treatment.
  • Sewage Treatment Plants for treating the diverted sewage.
  • Low Cost Sanitation works to prevent open defecation on river banks.
  • Electric Crematoria and Improved Wood Crematoria to conserve the use of wood and help in ensuring proper cremation of bodies brought to the buring ghats.
  • River Front Development works such as improvement of bathing ghats etc.
  • Other Measures like plantation, public awareness
  1. World Environment Day

India is the global host of 2018 World Environment Day which will took place on June 5, 2018.

This year’s theme is “beat plastic pollution.”

“Beat Plastic Pollution”, the theme for World Environment 2018, urges governments, industry, communities, and individuals to come together and explore sustainable alternatives and urgently reduce the production and excessive use of single-use plastic polluting our oceans, damaging marine life and threatening human health.

The Indian government has pledged to ban all single-use plastics by 2022.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was recently conferred the “champions of the earth” award by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) for pledging to eliminate all single-use plastic by 2022 and for leading the International Solar Alliance.

 

INTERNAL SECURITY & DISASTER MANAGEMENT

Internal Security

  1. Missiles of India

Prithvi:

  • It is a tactical surface-to-surface short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) developed by DRDO of India under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program (IGMDP).
  • It is deployed by India’s Strategic Forces Command.

Agni:

  • The Agni missile is a family of medium to intercontinental range ballistic missiles, named after one of the five elements of nature.
  • Agni missiles are long range, nuclear weapons capable surface to surface ballistic missile.

Aakash:

  • It is a medium-range mobile surface-to-air missile defence system developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Ordnance Factories Board and Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL).
  • The missile system can target aircraft up to 30 km away, at altitudes up to 18,000 m.

Trishul:

  • It is a short range surface-to-air missile.
  • The range of the missile is 12 km and is fitted with a 15 kg warhead. The weight of the missile is 130 kg.

Nag:

  • It is India’s third generation “Fire-and-forget” anti-tank missile. It is all weather, top attack missile with a range of 3 to 7 km.
  • Nag uses Imaging Infra-Red (IIR) guidance with day and night capability.
  • It can be mounted on an infantry vehicle; a helicopter launched version will also be available with integration work being carried out with the HAL Dhruv.

 BrahMos:

  • It is a short range ramjet supersonic cruise missile that can be launched from submarines, ships, aircraft or land.
  • It is a joint venture between the Russia and India who have together formed BrahMos Aerospace Private Limited. It is the world’s fastest cruise missile in operation.
  • The missile travels at speeds of Mach 8 to 3.0 and has a maximum range of 290 km.

Nirbhay:

  • It is an all-weather low-cost long-range nuclear warhead capable cruise missile with stealth and high accuracy.
  • The missile has a range of more than 1000 km. It weighs about one tonne and has a length of 6 metres.

Astra:

  • It is an active radar homing beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM).
  • Astra is designed to be capable of engaging targets at varying range and altitudes allowing for engagement of both short-range targets (up to 20 km) and long-range targets (up to 80 km) using alternative propulsion modes.
  1. Joint Military exercises of India

This list contain all the important exercises that Indian Military has undertaken in the year 2017 & 2018.

Name                               –          Participating Country                                                  

Indra X                             –          India and Russia                                     

Dharma Guardian I      –         India and Japan               

Yudh Abhyas XIV          –        India and United States

Milex 2018                      –         BIMSTEC

SCO Peace Mission       –         India and SCO       

Maitree                            –          India and Thailand

Surya Kiran XIII             –        India and Nepal

Lamitye VIII                    –        India and Seychelles

Shakti IV                          –          India and France

Vinbax 1                          –          India and Vietnam

Ekuverin VIII                 –         India and Maldives

Ajeya Warrior               –          India and UK

IMBAX I                           –          India and Myanmar

Sampriti VII                   –          India and Bangladesh

PRABAL DOSTYK         –         India and Kazakhstan Army

INDRA                             –           Indo-Russia Armed Forces

MITRA SHAKTI             –         India – Sri Lanka Army

YUDH ABHYAS              –         United States and Indian Army

SURYA KIRAN-XII         –        Nepal and Indian Army

Maitree                             –         Indian Army and Royal Thailand Army

NOMADIC ELEPHANT –       India-Mongolian Military Exercise

Bold Kurukshetra         –       India and Singapore

Vajra Prahar                   –       India and US

ALNAGAH-II                   –       Oman and Indian Army

SURYA KIRAN-XI          –        India and Nepal

Khanjar IV                      –          India and Kyrgyzstan

  1. Information Fusion Centre (IFC) – Indian Ocean Region

IFC is based at the Indian Navy’s Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC) at Gurugram in the National Capital Region.

IMAC is the single point centre on Indian Navy, linking all the coastal radar chains to generate a seamless real-time picture of the nearly 7,500km coastline.

Objectives

  • The IFC for Indian Ocean Region has the primary objective of jointly monitoring the vast Indian Ocean Region.
  • To strengthen maritime security in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR)
  • IFC-IOR is aimed at keeping the global commons open and accessible for all.

Functions of IFC

  • Indian Navy has launched its Information Fusion Centre (IFC) that will share information on vessels of interest with other friendly nations.
  • IFC will function as a platform where multiple friendly nations can freely exchange non-sensitive information from maritime domain.
  • The IFC – IOR shall be a collaborative construct that will work with partners, countries as well as international agencies; to enhance maritime security and safety
  • It would also aim to work closely with the multi-national constructs and other information fusion centres.
  • IFC-IOR will work closely with countries in the region on white shipping and will be operated by the Indian Navy.
  • The IFC-IOR would work towards capability building in the region, coordination of incident response and disaster relief, and in time, also share submarine safety information

Kinds of shipping:

Ships would be classified into:

  • White (commercial ships)
  • Grey (military vessels)
  • Black (illegal vessels)

 

  1. Shekatkar committee

A Committee of Experts (CoE) was constituted by Ministry of Defence under the Chairmanship of Lt. Gen. (Retd) DB Shekatkar to recommend measures to enhance combat capability and rebalance defence expenditure of the armed forces. 

 The Committee submitted its report in December 2016.

Some of the key recommendations taken include:

  • Optimization of Signals Establishments to include Radio Monitoring Companies, Corps Air Support Signal Regiments, Air Formation Signal Regiments, Composite Signal Regiments and merger of Corps Operating and Engineering Signal Regiments.
  • Restructuring of repair echelons in the Army to include Base Workshops, Advance Base Workshops and Static / Station Workshops in the field Army.
  • Redeployment of Ordnance echelons to include Vehicle Depots, Ordnance Depots and Central Ordnance Depots apart from streamlining inventory control mechanisms.
  • Better utilization of Supply and Transportation echelons and Animal Transport Units.
  • Closure of Military Farms and Army Postal Establishments in peace locations.
  • Enhancement in standards for recruitment of clerical staff and drivers in the Army.
  • Improving the efficiency of the National Cadet Corps.

 

  1. Mitra Shakti – India Sri Lanka military exercise

Exercise MITRA SHAKTI is conducted annually as part of military diplomacy and interaction between armies of India & Sri Lanka.

The joint exercise for the year 2018-2019 will be conducted from 26th March to 8th April at Sri Lanka.

Last year’s Mitra Shakti bilateral joint exercise took place in India, at the Aundh military station in Pune, Maharashtra.

The aim of the exercise is to build and promote close relations between armies of both the countries and to enhance ability of joint exercise commander to take military contingents of both nations under command.

The exercise will involve practicing tactical level operations in an international Counter Insurgency /Counter Terrorist environment under UN mandate.

  1. IndiaBangladesh Joint Military Exercise – Sampriti 2019

  • As part of the ongoing India Bangladesh defence cooperation, a joint military exercise Sampriti-2019 was conducted at Tangail, Bangladesh.
  • Exercise Sampriti-2019 is an important bilateral defence cooperation endeavour between India and Bangladesh and this will be the eighth edition of the exercise which is hosted alternately by both countries.
  • The exercise is aimed to strengthen and broaden the aspects of interoperability and cooperation between the Indian and Bangladesh Armies.
  • The exercise will involve tactical level operations in a counter insurgency and counter terrorism environment under the UN mandate.
  • The first edition of the Joint Military Exercise ‘Sampriti’ was conducted in Assam in the year 2011.
  • Since 2011, the joint military exercise is held every year alternately in India & Bangladesh. Sampriti 2019 was the 8th edition in the Sampriti series.

 

  1. Malabar Exercise 2018

  • The 22nd rendition of the Malabar naval exercise 2018, was held for the first time in waters off the coast of Guam and involving aircraft and ships from Indian Navy, the U.S. Navy, and the Japan Maritime Self Defence Force (JMSDF).
  • Exercise Malabar, which started as a bilateral exercise between the US Navy and the Indian Navy in 1992, has evolved over the years with the participation of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force (JMSDF) from 2007.
  • Over the last 26 years, this Maritime Exercise has grown in scope and complexity and aims at increasing the level of mutual understanding, inter-operability and sharing of the best practices between the three navies. US has recently named their Hawaii-based Pacific Command as the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.
  • The Indian Navy participated with the INS Kamorta, an anti-submarine Kamorta-class stealth corvette; the INS Sahyadri, a Shivalik-class stealth multi-role frigate; and the Deepak-class fleet tanker INS Shakti. Additionally, India sent a P-8I Neptune advanced maritime patrol/anti-submarine warfare aircraft.

 

  1. Surya Kiran Exercise

Joint Military Exercise SURYA KIRAN-XIII between India and Nepal was conducted at Pithoragarh

Exercise SURYA KIRAN is a biannual event which is conducted alternatively in Nepal and India. 

Notably in the series of military training exercises undertaken by India with various countries, Exercise SURYA KIRAN with Nepal is the largest in terms of troop participation. 

The aim of this exercise is to conduct battalion level joint training with emphasis on counter terrorism operations in mountainous terrain.

During the exercise, aspects of disaster management and joint effort towards relief work have also been included.

The joint military exercise will enhance the level of defence cooperation which will further strengthen the bilateral relations between the two nations.

  1. Agni 5

India’s indigenously developed intercontinental surface-to-surface nuclear capable ballistic missile ‘ Agni-5’ was successfully test-launched from Wheeler Island off Odisha coast.

  • The Agni V is an intercontinental ballistic missile with a range of 5,500 to 5,800 km.
  • Agni V is nuclear capable, with a payload capacity of 1,500 kg of high-explosive warhead.
  • It has been developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program.
  • It is the fifth variant in the series of medium to long range Agni missiles. Agni I, II, III have already been inducted for military use.
  • The successful induction of Agni V will give India long-range strike capability.
  • The missile has previously been tested in 2012, 2013 and 2015.
  • Once the Agni-V is inducted, India will join the super exclusive club of countries with ICBMs (missiles with a range of over 5,000-5,500km) alongside the US, Russia, China, France and the UK.
  • Agni-V is capable of striking even the northernmost parts of China.

Disaster management

  1. Exercise Rahat

  • Disaster Risk Reduction has a pivotal role in supporting adaptation to climate change as well as sustained development.
  • Jaipur based Sapta Shakti Command conducted Joint Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Exercise.
  • EXERCISE RAHAT on behalf of Indian Army in February.
  • The Joint exercise in coordination with NDMA is being conducted to synergise efforts for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations.
  • Representatives from Armed Forces, National Disaster Management Response Mechanism (NDMRM), SDMA Rajasthan participated in the exercise.
  1. Operation Nistar

  • Socotra Island located close to the horn of Africa between the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea.
  • The region was affected by Cyclone Mekunu.
  • INS Sunayana was involved in the rescue operation.