· The allocation for Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes increased to Rs. 95,000 crores by over 12% compared to 2017-18.
· The allocation for Scheduled Castes increased to Rs. 56,619 crores while the allocation for Scheduled Tribes increased to Rs. 39,185 crores.
· Increase of 41% in the budget allocation for the welfare of OBC in 2018-19 over 2017-18.
· Scholarships for SC/ST students – 3,30,64,900 student benefitted during 2014-15 and 2015-16 by distribution of Rs. 7565 Cr.
· For the Pre-Matric Scholarship for OBC, the income eligibility has been increased from Rs. 44,500/- per annum to Rs. 2.5 lakh per annum.
· For Pre-Matric Scholarship for SC, the income eligibility raised from Rs.2 lakh to Rs. 2.5 lakhs.
· Also the Stipend for day scholars has been raised from Rs. 150 to Rs. 225 and for hostelers, stipend raised from Rs. 350 to Rs. 525/. In Top Class Education for Scheduled Castes, income ceiling raised from Rs. 4.5 lakh to Rs. 6 lakh per annum.
· For Free coaching for SC and OBC students, the income eligibility raised from Rs. 4.5 lakhs to Rs. 6 lakhs. For local students, Stipend raised from Rs. 1500/- Rs. 2500/- and for outstation students, Stipend raised from Rs. 3000 to Rs. 5000.
· For Pre-matric Scholarship for OBC, the rates of scholarships increased substantially.
INCREASE IN RESERVATION FOR DIVYANGJAN · Reservations for Divyangjans in Government jobs raised from 3% to 4%.
· Over 6 lakh Divyangjans have so far benefitted from 5790 camps organized across the country since May 2014.
· Special camps organized for distribution of Aids and Assistive devices to 8 lakh persons with disabilities.
· Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan launched by the Government on 3rd December, 2015
· Objective is to make at least 50 percent of all government buildings in the national capital and all state capitals “fully accessible” for the disabled by December 2018.
· The scheme is ensuring a dignified life to Divyangjans. · Special camps organized for distribution of Aids and Assistive devices to 8 lakh persons with disabilities.
· Access Audit of 1662 buildings in 50 cities completed till date.
· All 34 International Airports and all 48 Domestic Airports have been provided with accessible features viz. Ramps, Accessible Toilets, lifts with Braille symbols and auditory signals.
· 667 out of 709 A1, A, B, category Railway Stations and 13613 buses out of 1,41,572 buses have been provided with accessibility features.
· 917 identified websites of State Governments/UTs are in the process of being made accessible through ERNET India.
MUDRA · Budget 2018: lending target under the MUDRA Yojana enhanced to Rs 3 lakh crore for the 2018-19 fiscal.
· Of the total loan accounts, 76 per cent are of women and more than 50 per cent belong to SCs, STs and OBCs.
· 54,733 loans sanctioned by the banks to Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs) and Women borrowers as on 28.02.2018.
VENTURE CAPITAL FUND · Under the scheme of Venture Capital Fund, 66 companies have been approved Rs. 240 crores for Scheduled Caste Entrepreneurs.( As on 7th May, 2018) .
· A New Scheme Venture Capital Fund for OBCs on similar lines as Venture Capital Fund for SCs has been launched with an initial corpus of Rs. 200 crore. Amount of Rs. 140 crore has been provided during 2018-19 under Venture Capital Fund for Scheduled Castes.
SAKHSHAM · Scholarship scheme launched on 11 November 2014 to provide scholarship to differently abled students to pursue technical education. · Scholarship amount of Rs. 30,000 is provided towards tuition fee reimbursement and Rs. 20000 as contingency allowance. Under the scheme, 1000 scholarships per annum are available.
NIRAMAY Yojana · Rs one lakh health insurance cover to people with autism, cerebral palsy and many disabilities.
INDIAN SIGN LANGUAGE RESEARCH AND TRAINING CENTRE (ISLRTC) · Established on 28th September, 2015. · First Indian Sign Language Dictionary of 3000 words was launched on 23.03.2018.
· 14th April declared as ‘Rashtriya Samrasata Divas’. · 26th November declared as ‘Constitution Day’. · Gramodaya se Bharat UdayAbihiyan- 14th- 24th April 2016.
THE RIGHT OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES ACT, 2016 · Types of disabilities have been increased from existing 7 to 21.
· Speech and Language Disability and Specific Learning Disability have been added for the first time. · Acid Attack Victims have been included.
· Right to free education for children with disabilities of 6-18 years and Reservation of 5% seats for students with disabilities in Govt. and Govt. aided higher education institutions. · Penalties for offences committed against persons with Disabilities (PwDs).
· Provides for the establishment of exclusive special courts for the speedy trial of offences of atrocities against the members of SCs & STs.
· Inserts a new chapter relating to “Rights of Victims and Witnesses”.
· Imposing certain duties and responsibilities upon the State for making necessary arrangement for protection of victims, their defendants and witnesses.
· Largest increase in a union budget for minority development: 62% increase in funding for minority affairs in 2018-19 budget to Rs. 4,700 crore.
· More than 45 lakh minority community students have benefitted from scholarships, fellowships, skill development and coaching schemes during the last one year
· Since 2014, 2.66 crore beneficiaries under Educational empowerment schemes 5,43,594, beneficiaries under employment oriented skill development programmes 1,76,2908 under women empowerment schemes .
· Lok Sabha passed the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, which seeks to ban instant triple talaq and will lead to imprisonment of up to three years and fine. · Bill that empowers Muslim Women passed by Lok Sabha on 29th December 2017.
Haj without Mehram · Muslim women can go for Haj Pilgrimage without male guardian, if their school of thought permits. · Keeping in mind the objective of womens’ empowerment, the restriction on women above 45 years of age to perform Haj pilgrimage unaccompanied by their male relatives has been removed. · This year, more than 1300 women are going on Haj pilgrimage without Mehram.
PRADHAN MANTRI JAN VIKAS KARYAKRAM Multi Sectoral Development Program, MSDP restructured as “Prime Minister Jan Vikas Karyakram” by Cabinet on 2.5.2018 .
Objective: To provide better socio-economic infrastructure facilities to the minority communities and widen the coverage of the scheme.
Details: · Area to be covered under PMJVK 57 per cent more than MsDP. · MsDP covered 196 districts of the country whereas PMJVK would cover 308 districts of the country · 80%of the resources under the PMJVK for projects related to education, health and skill development.
· 33-40 % of resources under the PMJVK would be specifically allocated for women centric projects · Earlier, only those cluster of villages which were having at least 50 population of minority community were taken. Now the population criteria has been lowered to 25 per cent.
Educational Empowerment: · Scholarship Schemes · Maulana Azad National Fellowship · Padho Pardes · Free Coaching and Allied scheme · Nai Udaan · Haj Subsidy abolished: Government in January 2016 abolished Haj subsidy. Savings worth Rs. 700 crores from this head to be used to finance the education of Muslim girls.
Economic Empowerment: · Learn and Earn- Seekho aur Kaam Karo
· USTAAD Ø Preserving and promoting the rich heritage of traditional arts & crafts of the Minority communities., Ø Boosting skill of craftsmen, weavers and artisans who are already engaged in traditional ancestral work
· Ø 69,840 trainees have been allocated for education and skill training in 22 States in 2016-17. Ø 30,160 trainees have been allocated during 2017-18.
· Maulana Azad National Academy of Skills- MANAS Ø Maulana Azad National Academy for Skills set up to address skill development needs of minority communities.
· Garib Nawaz Skill Development Centres: Ø The objective is to enable a large number of minority youths of India to take-up relevant skill sets which are in demand. Under the scheme, Maulana Azad Education Foundation (MAEF) will use the cutting-edge of information technology to ensure quality, transparency and credibility to its skill training programmes
Ø Under this flagship scheme, Maulana Azad Education Foundation (MAEF) has allocated 1,06,600 beneficiaries to 108 Program Implementing Agencies (PIAs). 212 centres have already commenced training programmes.
· Ø aims at preservation of rich heritage and culture of minorities, by supporting curation of iconic exhibitions, calligraphy, preservation of old documents, research and development, etc · Hunar Haat for Sab Ka Saath, Sabka Vikas
Ø Exhibition to promote the traditional arts/crafts practised by minority communities (Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Parsis, Jains, and Buddhists) and provide them with an opportunity to establish national and global market linkages
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. Darjeeling Tea, Mahabaleshwar Strawberry, Blue Pottery of Jaipur, Banarasi Sarees and TirupatiLaddus are some of the GIs.
GI products can benefit the rural economy in remote areas, by supplementing the incomes of artisans, farmers, weavers and craftsmen. Our rural artisans possess unique skills and knowledge of traditional practices and methods, passed down from generation to generation, which need to be protected and promoted.
Recently, Union Minister of Commerce and Industry, Suresh Prabhu, launched the logo and tagline for the Geographical Indications (GI) of India and said that the GI will give the rightful share in the intellectual property to the artisan and the place of origin of the product. He emphasised that it’s an area of strength and optimism for India, whereby GI tag has given protection to a large number of hand-made and manufactured products, especially in the informal sector.
The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion has taken several initiatives in this regard and is actively involved in promotion and marketing of GIs with a vision to enhance the horizon both socially and economically for GI producers.
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 colour. 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 325productsfrom India that carry this indication.
Namrup, Assam: This day of Oct 5th, 2018 is a historic day for India, Northeast and Assam Petro-chemicals, a state-owned company for launching Asia's first cannisters based and India's first "Methanol Cooking Fuel Program". The program was inaugurated by Dr V K Saraswat, Member, NITI Aayog and Chairman, Methanol Apex Committee at the Assam Petro-chemicals campus at Namrup.
500 households inside the Assam Petro Complex will be the first pilot project, scaling it to 40,000 households in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Telangana, Goa and Karnataka. The project is a natural extension of our Prime Minister's vision of reducing import of crude and an effort to provide clean, import substitute, cost effective and pollution free cooking medium. Assam Petrochemicals Limited has been manufacturing methanol for the last 30 years and is in the process of upgrading their 100 TPD methanol plant to 600 TPD by Dec 2019.
The safe handling cannister based cooking stoves are from Swedish Technology and through a Technology transfer a large-scale cooking stove manufacturing plant will come up in India in the next 18 months producing 10 lakh Cookstoves and 1 Crore Cannisters per year. This technology is very unique, it handles methanol extremely safely, does not need regulator or any piping system.
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.
1.2 litres cannisters can last for full five hours on twin burners and 8 such Cannisters as rack can last for one month for a family of three. The cost of energy equivalent of one cylinder of LPG for Methanol is Rs. 650, compared to Rs. 850 per cylinder resulting in a minimum of 20% Savings. For instance, in Manipur the cost of transportation of LPG is Rs. 200, whereas same cost for Methanol will be Rs. 12. This provides for an excellent alternative as household fuel and commercial, institutional and fuel for restaurants. China uses 4 MMTA of Methanol as Cooking Fuel annually.
Aim: The scheme is aimed at providing better health and nutrition supplements to the pregnant women. It stresses on providing proper healthcare facilities to the pregnant women working in the tea gardens of the state.
Highlights of the scheme: Under the scheme, an amount of Rs 12,000 will be given to the pregnant women so that they can take care of themselves and the unborn baby without compromising the livelihood of their family.
The compensation of wages to pregnant women will be given in 4 instalments – Rs 2,000 in the first trimester, Rs 4,000 in the second trimester, Rs 3,000 for institutional delivery and Rs 3,000 for registration of the child’s birth.
The women would also be given a maternity leave. They will not be engaged in work from the third trimester of pregnancy to three months after delivery. In addition, they will get assistance for ante-natal care and the first cycle of immunization of the child.
Significance of the scheme: The bulk of the workforce in Assam’s tea gardens is women. The maternal mortality rate of women working in the tea plantations of Assam is unusually high. The scheme is likely to benefit over 60,000 women in the state. It is expected to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality in the tea areas.
Background: In the Annual Health Survey of 2012-13, Assam recorded one of the highest maternal mortality rates in India, with over 300 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. The MMR in the state’s tea gardens was even higher, as it was recorded to be 404. The national average during 2014-16 was 130. Further, almost 50% of the pregnant women aged between 15 and 49 years in the state were recorded to be anaemic, which is a leading contributor to maternal mortality.
Key Highlights: Under the scheme, the beneficiaries will get 5 kg of rice per person per month at the rate of Rs 1 per kg, the same as availed by people covered under the National Food Security Act, 2013.
As per the provisions of the State Food Security Scheme, 25 lakh poor people “left out” from the benefits of the NFSA, will get the rice at subsidised rates.
The distribution of rice to selected beneficiaries will be carried out through e-Point of sale (e-PoS) device at the designated fair price shops.
Background: The NFSA was implemented in 2014; however, many people were denied the benefit. The move was taken after the centre repeatedly failed to respond to the state’s plea of including the left out people in its national food security scheme.
The 2018 GEAR, an Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) global Index and benchmarking study commissioned by Visa, ranks governments by quantifying their e-payment capabilities based on various indicators.
The ranking is based on seven parameters viz. Government-to-Citizen (G2C), Citizen-to-Government (C2G), Business-to-Government (B2G), Government-to-Business (G2B) transactions, infrastructure, socio-economic and policy environment.
Performance of India across various categories: In the latest study, India is ranked 28th among 73 countries. This is up from 36th rank in 2011.
B2C category: India leads the Business to Government category, along with Australia, Singapore and South Korea. The category refers to the ease with which businesses can calculate and make their tax payments, register and renew their registrations online and digitally calculate their pension fund contributions, thereby making those payments on a periodic basis.
G2B category: At the same time, by simplifying refund and loan application processes, wherein businesses can track status digitally, coupled with dedicated digital portals to submit proposals for government procurement services, India leads the Government to Business category as well.
The C2G category evaluates the extent to which citizens can complete various transactions electronically by assessing six indicators, including online one-stop shops, income tax payments, and obtaining an ID card. India ranks third in this category, along with four other countries, while France and the UAE top the list.
The G2C category captures the extent to which various government transfers like tax refunds, pension and welfare benefits and unemployment benefits can be accessed electronically. In India, while everything pertaining to tax filing and pension and welfare benefits has smoothly migrated to digital, the unemployment benefits system continues to be driven by paper processes, as a result of which the country still lags behind, in 25th place.
The infrastructure and socio-economic categories examine the supportive infrastructure for e-payments and their acceptance in society at large. With respect to infrastructure, while India has witnessed an increase in Internet penetration over recent years, substantial pockets of communities continue to lack reliable access, leaving country ranked 58th.
In the socio-economic category, India is ranked 60th out of 73 countries, highlighting an urgent need to focus efforts on enhancing educational levels, as well as improving citizens’ and businesses’ engagement with Internet-enabled services.
The policy category assesses the policy environment and examines how it spurs e-payments adoption. Though India ranks at a low 40th owing to a few inhibiting policy decisions, the government’s efforts to strengthen Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) with an objective to foster innovation and protect country’s traditional knowledge could motivate innovation and act as a catalyst businesses to grow. Incentives to consumers and merchants to adopt digital payments are also restricted to selected e-payment methods, potentially limiting the effectiveness of these measures.
The Delhi declaration on Renewable Energy in the Indian Ocean Region: It calls for collaboration among IORA member states in meeting the growing demand for renewable energy in the Indian Ocean littorals, development of a common renewable energy agenda for the Indian Ocean region and promote regional capacity building.
The declaration also calls for promotion of technology development and transfer, strengthening of public private partnerships in renewable energy and collaboration among IORA member states and the member nations of the International Solar Alliance (ISA).
IORA member countries resolved to collaborate with the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). As per the declaration adopted, IORA member nations will also collaborate with the ISA member nations to exchange knowledge and share views and potential interests in the renewable energy sector.
Additionally, IORA member nations and IRENA will undertake the expansion of the Global Renewable Energy Atlas, the world’s largest-ever joint renewable resource data project, coordinated by IRENA, thereby creating the Indian Ocean region’s first and most comprehensive map and database which can then be used to tap the sizable renewable energy potential of the region.
About IORA: The Indian Ocean Rim Association was set up with the objective of strengthening regional cooperation and sustainable development within the Indian Ocean Region with 21 Member States and 7 Dialogue Partners.
The IORA is a regional forum, tripartite in nature, bringing together representatives of Government, Business and Academia, for promoting co-operation and closer interaction among them.
It is based on the principles of Open Regionalism for strengthening Economic Cooperation particularly on Trade Facilitation and Investment, Promotion as well as Social Development of the region.
India, Australia, Iran IR, Indonesia Thailand, Malaysia, South Africa, Mozambique, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Bangladesh, Singapore, Mauritius, Madagascar, UAE, Yemen, Seychelles, Somalia, Comoros and Oman are members of IORA.
The trilateral pact is expected to be signed by the three North American countries before the end of November, after which it would be submitted to Congress.
About United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA): It’s basically NAFTA 2.0, with major changes on cars and new policies on labor and environmental standards, intellectual property protections, and some digital trade provisions. The changes include:
Country of origin rules: Automobiles must have 75% of their components manufactured in Mexico, the US, or Canada to qualify for zero tariffs (up from 62.5 percent under NAFTA).
Labor provisions: 40 to 45 percent of automobile parts have to be made by workers who earn at least $16 an hour by 2023. Mexico has also agreed to pass laws giving workers the right to union representation, extend labor protections to migrant workers, and protect women from discrimination. The countries can also sanction one another for labor violations.
US farmers get more access to the Canadian dairy market: The US got Canada to open up its dairy market to US farmers, which was a big issue for Trump.
Intellectual property and digital trade: The deal extends the terms of copyright to 70 years beyond the life of the author (up from 50). It also extends the period that a pharmaceutical drug can be protected from generic competition.
It also includes new provisions to deal with the digital economy, including prohibiting duties on things like music and e-books, and protections for internet companies so they’re not liable for content their users produce.
Sunset clause: The agreement puts in a 16-year “sunset” clause — meaning the terms of the agreement expire, or “sunset,” after a set period of time. The deal is also subject to a review every six years, at which point the US, Mexico, and Canada can decide to extend USMCA.
What is NAFTA? NAFTA is the initialism for the North American Free Trade Agreement, an agreement signed by Canada, Mexico, and the United States that reduced or eliminated trade barriers in North America. (Since the U.S. and Canada already had a free trade agreement (signed in 1988), NAFTA merely brought Mexico into the trade bloc.)
Negotiations for the trade agreement began in 1990 under the administration of George H.W. Bush and were finalized under Bill Clinton’s presidency in 1993. The agreement went into effect on January 1, 1994.
What was the purpose of NAFTA? In 1993 the European Union (EU) created a “single market”—one territory without any internal borders or other regulatory obstacles to the free movement of goods and services. This allowed every country and business in the EU to have access to more than 500 million consumers.
NAFTA, which was approved that same year, was designed to have a similar effect, providing a way to allow the exchange of goods and services to flow more freely across national borders without the artificial restrictions.
NAFTA provided for progressive elimination of all tariffs on any goods qualifying as North American. The deal also sought to protect intellectual property, establish dispute-resolution mechanisms, and, through corollary agreements, implement labor and environmental safeguards.
Why is NAFTA controversial? NAFTA was controversial when first proposed, mostly because it was the first [free trade agreement] involving two wealthy, developed countries and a developing country. Some people felt that allowing free trade with a developing country provides an incentive for U.S-based business to move their operations to that country.
Since its implementation NAFTA has remained a prime target of trade protectionists (those who advocate taking measures such as taxing imports to “protect” domestic industries from foreign competition).
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine is awarded once a year for outstanding discoveries in the fields of life sciences and medicine. It is one of five Nobel Prizes established in 1895 by Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, in his will.
The 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine has been jointly conferred to James P. Allison and Tasuku Honjo “for their discovery of cancer therapy by inhibition of negative immune regulation”.
The duo successfully established an entirely new principle for cancer therapy by stimulating the ability of immune system to attack tumour cells. It is called “Immune checkpoint therapy”. They showed how different strategies for slowing down the brakes on the immune system can be used in the treatment of cancer. Their discoveries are landmark in fight against cancer.
Nobel Prize in Chemistry: US scientists Frances Arnold and George Smith and British researcher Gregory Winter have won the 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. They were selected for harnessing power of evolution to develop enzymes and antibodies that have led to new pharmaceuticals and biofuels.
Nobel Physics Prize: Three scientists Arthur Ashkin (USA), Gerard Mourou (France) and Donna Strickland (Canada) have won the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics. They were selected for groundbreaking inventions in the field of laser physics.
Arthur Ashkin: He received prize for optical tweezers and their application to biological systems. His optical tweezers are able to grab particles, atoms, viruses and other living cells with their laser beam fingers, allowing use of radiation pressure of light to move physical objects.
Gerard Mourou and Donna Strickland: They were jointly awarded for their method of generating high-intensity, ultra-short optical pulses. They have created ultrashort high-intensity laser pulses without destroying amplifying material, thus paving way towards shortest and most intense laser pulses ever created by mankind. Their innovative technique is known as ‘chirped pulse amplification’ (CPA), has now become standard for high-intensity lasers, including ultra-sharp beams used in corrective eye surgeries.
India has launched massive humanitarian operation Samudra Maitri to provide assistance to earthquake and tsunami victims in Indonesia.
Under this operation, India has dispatched two aircraft C-130J and C-17 and three naval ships carrying relief material and personnel to the country.
Why in News? Realtors body National Real Estate Development Council (NAREDCO) has signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs to provide skill training and jobs in construction sector for 2.5 lakh poor people.
The partnership will strengthen skill trainings and employment opportunities in construction sector for urban poor under Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Urban Livelihoods Mission.
It is autonomous self-regulatory body under Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs. It was established in 1998 and is headquartered in New Delhi.
It serves as apex national body for real estate industry and provides single platform for Government, industry and public to discuss various problems and opportunities face to face for speedy resolution of issues.
Its mandate also includes to induce transparency and ethics in real estate business and transform unorganized Indian real estate sector into matured and globally competitive business sector.
India-born Gita Gopinath has been appointed as the Chief Economist of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
She has become the first woman to hold the position. Gita Gopinath has also become the second Indian to hold the position, after former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan.