PRIs provide an institutional space to the local people, in particular disadvantaged sections and women amongst them, to decide on matters that concern their lives and livelihood. The disadvantaged sections not only contest the panchayat elections and become members who attend panchayat meetings along with men from the upper castes, they also represent the interests of their communities. Many of them are Sarpanchs who head the panchayats. As statutory bodies, panchayats have the authority to govern at the local level—a radical departure from the top-down approach.
Some of the past experiences suggest that wherever assertions by people through democratic organisations such as pressure groups, social movements, social action groups, and voluntary organisations have been strong enough, panchayats have addressed the basic rights of ordinary citizens such as right to work, education, health, shelter, and food.
The demands for irrigation facilities, land rights, remunerative prices, debt relief for farmers, alongside prevention of atrocities and violence against the oppressed communities, securing safety nets and social justice have also become significant. The administrative processes have been made accountable through public hearings/jan sunwais and social auditing has exposed the multifaceted nature of corruption and its practice by the public officials and elected members of panchayats.
However, in practice, in major parts of rural India, the political culture is subjective and common citizens are passive recipients of policies. In such situations, the PRIs function merely as implementing agencies for social welfare programmes and development policies that are planned at the Centre.
The values that democracy espouses are far from the ground reality that discriminates, deprives and alienates the vast majority from the basic resources of livelihood. Lack of ownership and control over basic productive resources is a major underlying cause of increasing inequalities, disparities, deprivations, exclusions and denial of basic rights to the absolute majority of the population.
While the traditional management practices of community resources were revived through bhagidari/partnership/co-operation programmes such as watershed management-Pani Panchayat, Joint Forest Management (JFM)-Van Panchayat to involve the local people and committees in managing common property resources to reduce exploitation by forest officials, middlemen, traders and other vested interests, the dominance of class-caste alliance resulted in massive land acquisitions, destruction of livelihood resources and displacement of large number of people.
Our experiences show that PESA (Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act 1996, which prohibits the state to make any law which is not in consonance with the customary law, the social, religious and community practices and traditions, and aims at safeguarding and preserving the traditional rights over comm-unity resources (such as land, water and forest) in the Fifth Schedule areas, is often desecrated.
The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act 2006, which aims at protecting tribals and forest dwellers, are often violated by the state in nexus with the corporate sector.
Similarly, panchayats are supposed to be the key players in the MGNREGA by preparing the village plans and setting up local institutions to facilitate monitoring and evaluation of the implementation process, but several studies find that they have been completely sidelined.
Despite the decentralisation measures to empower the local bodies and subsequent amendments to privilege the participation of the SCs, STs, and OBCs, and women in particular, there has been proxy women participation and manipulation of decisions by the men from the upper castes.
The State Finance Commission’s recommen-dations are also not binding in nature and local institutions with limited fiscal autonomy depend on the Central and State governments. Although resource crunch and scarcity of funds are a major hindrance in the efficient functioning of the local bodies, the fiscal weakness of the panchayats remain unaddressed by the 15th Finance Commission.
It is significant to understand that when the formal powers or administrative procedures are purportedly decentralist but politically controlled or influenced by the Centre, the problem is that of illusory decentralisation.
Grassroots governance can only be strengthened when grassroots leaders attempt to assimilate largescale discontent amongst the majority of the people and do away with the growing sense of alienation. Decentralised planning should aim at redistribution of the basic productive resources which can empower the deprived and powerless.
An effective functioning of democracy requires good democratic practice in addition to democratic institutions. The state should act as a facilitator rather than a regulator of the local institutions. The Centrally powerful institutions should provide space to the local institutions as decision-making bodies on matters of development and social and economic welfare of the villagers. The Community Based Organisations (CBOs) should be strengthened to generate awareness and mobilise the communities to defend their rights.
The Supreme Court’s intervention to make the consent of the gram sabha/village council mandatory to acquire land in scheduled areas in its recent order not only restored faith in the highest judicial body but also in democratic governance that protects people’s rights.
The success of an inclusive society that empo-wers the disadvantaged socially, economically, and politically is possible only when Khap Panchayats based on caste hierarchies/supremacies do not revive themselves.
An outright violation of constitutional norms is the oppressive power relations that constraint the entitlements of certain communities and social groups. This needs to be altered to fulfil the concerns of the common man alongside achieving a more egalitarian and just society..
Given that Pakistan does not allow India land access to Afghanistan and Central Asia, New Delhi is left with Chabahar as the only access route into Afghanistan and Central Asia.
It has already committed over $500 million to the development of the port, which was operationalized last year when India sent a shipment of wheat to Afghanistan via Chabahar.
India views this port as an alternative to the Pakistani port of Gwadar, which lies 140 kilometers east of Chabahar and is being developed by China as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
If the United States withdraws from the nuclear deal, both Saudi Arabia and Israel are expected to intensify further their efforts to combat Iranian influence in the region.
In such a scenario, New Delhi may have to limit its investments in Chabahar or risk facing blowback from Washington, Tel Aviv, and Riyadh.
New Delhi’s growing closeness with the United States, Israel, and Saudi Arabia has also led Iran to hedge against a change of heart in New Delhi: during a trip to Pakistan in March, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif invited Pakistan to participate in Chabahar’s development and expressed a desire to connect Gwadar and Chabhar.
A U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal could open the door for Pakistan to explore an accommodation with Iran that limits India’s reach into Afghanistan and Central Asia.
China, which has successfully enhanced its influence in the region and is the largest importer of Iranian crude oil, could offer Iran economic assistance under the BRI and undercut India’s proposed investments in Chabahar.
This process could be further accelerated by Iran’s strategic ally Russia, which has also drawn closer to both Beijing and Islamabad as it seeks to balance against closer U.S.-India relations and tries to find a way to limit U.S. influence in Afghanistan and Central Asia.
It is a maritime initiative which gives priority to Indian Ocean region for ensuring peace, stability and prosperity of India in Indian Ocean region. The goal is to seek a climate of trust and transparency; respect for international maritime rules and norms by all countries; sensitivity to each other`s interests; peaceful resolution of maritime issues; and increase in maritime cooperation.
After a growing political opposition, Seychelles President Danny Faure has cancelled the agreement with India for the development of Assumption Island The decision by the Seychelles President to drop the deal in the face of protests over a perceived loss of sovereignty is a blow to the government’s “SAGAR” (Security and Growth for All in the Region) programme, announced by PM Modi during a visit to Indian Ocean Rim (IOR) countries in March 2015.
The deal is seen as important for India because it enhances its surveillance capabilities over the Indian Ocean. In concert with a coastal surveillance radar station already operating in Seychelles, a naval base at Agalega in Mauritius, a coastal radar station in Madagascar, an array of radars in Maldives, and a strong presence in the littoral waters of Mozambique, Delhi’s acquisition of facilities on one of the 67 raised coral islands of the Aldabra group will create an impermeable surveillance net in the southwestern and central Indian Ocean.
Assumption Island’s position dominating the Mozambique channel, a key sea lane for merchant ships, adds to India’s kitty a second potential choke point after the Strait of Malacca; the latter is dominated by India’s augmented presence in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands chain as well as with naval agreements with Vietnam and Singapore.
The SEDP is being launched as part of its SAARC Development Fund’s social window. The programme will be implemented in all the SAARC member states with the objective of identifying and building social enterprises by using a mix of grants and concessional returnable capital.
A primary reason for establishing SDF was that the existing South Asian Development Fund (SADF) was found to be inadequate i.e. in terms of required quantum of funds and its limited scope of work. The Thirteenth SAARC Summit decided to reconstitute the SADF into SDF to serve as the “umbrella financial mechanism” for all SAARC projects and programmes.
In 1996, a first funding mechanism was created in SAARC, ‘South Asian Development Fund (SADF), merging the SAARC Fund for Regional Projects (SFRP) and the SAARC Regional Fund. SADF objectives were to support industrial development, poverty alleviation, protection of environment, institutional/human resource development and promotion of social and infrastructure development projects in the SAARC region.
Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System, which works through a constellation of seven satellites, is in the final stages of launch, the report says.
“Request for Proposal has been called to start the implementation of NavIC so that the platform can be rolled out,
ISRO has already miniaturised the crucial chipsets which go into wireless devices such as cell phones and WiFi receivers.
NavIC can be used for terrestrial, aerial and marine navigation, vehicle tracking, disaster management, mapping and geodetic data capture, visual and voice navigation for drivers and much more.
While the GPS has a position accuracy of 20-30 meters, NavIC will provide standard positioning service to all users with a position accuracy of 5 meters. However, unlike GPS, the Indian navigation system will only cover the country and a region extending 1,500 km around it. ISRO plans to extend the coverage further.
Besides the United States, Russia (GLONASS), the European Union (Galileo) and China (Beidou Navigation Satellite System) also have their own navigation systems.
The Banks Board Bureau (BBB) has recommended 22 general managers to be elevated as executive directors at various public sector banks. These recommendations are based on interactions held by the Banks Board Bureau with eligible candidates from PSBs towards appointment against vacancies in PSBs for the period 2018-19.
The Appointments Committee of Cabinet headed by Prime Minister will take the final decision in this regard. There are already some vacancies at executive director level and more would be created during the course of the year.
About Banks Board Bureau (BBB):
It was set up in February 2016 as an autonomous body– based on the recommendations of the RBI-appointed Nayak Committee. It was the part of Indradhanush Plan of government.
Its broad agenda was to improve governance at state-owned lenders. Its mandate also involved advising the government on top-level bank appointments and assisting banks with capital-raising plans as well as strategies to deal with bad loans.
Central Water Commission (CWC), India’s apex technical organization in the field of Water Resources, has entered into a Collaboration Agreement with Google for flood forecasting. This initiative is likely to help crisis management agencies to deal extreme hydrological events in a better manner.
The Centre will set up the country’s biggest data centre in Bhopal with a capacity to host five lakh virtual servers. It will be set up by the National Informatics Centre (NIC), under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY). This will be the fifth National Data Centre after the ones at Bhubaneswar, Delhi, Hyderabad and Pune.
The India BPO Promotion Scheme (IBPS), envisaged under Digital India Programme, seeks to incentivize establishment of 48,300 seats in respect of BPO/ITES operations across the country. It is distributed among each State in proportion of State’s population with an outlay of Rs. 493 Crore. This would help in capacity building in smaller cities in terms of infra & manpower and would become basis for next wave of IT/ITES led growth. Financial Support: Up to 50% of expenditure incurred on BPO/ITES operations towards capital expenditure (CAPEX) and/or operational expenditure (OPEX) on admissible items, subject to an upper ceiling of Rs. 1 Lakh/Seat. Special incentives toward employment of women & specially enabled persons. Incentive for generating employment beyond target & wider dispersal within state including rural areas. Encouragement for local entrepreneurs. Special consideration for Hilly states of HP, J&K and UK.
To honour soldiers who have been disabled in line of duty, while serving the Nation and to celebrate the undying spirit of ‘Soldiering’, Indian Army is observing the year 2018 as the ‘Year of Disabled Soldiers in Line of Duty’.
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). It is developed by IIT Kharagpur. Objective: The objective of NDL is to make digital educational resources available to all citizens of the country to empower, inspire and encourage learning. NDL is the Single Window Platform that collects and collates metadata from premier learning institutions in India and abroad, as well as other relevant sources. It is a digital repository containing textbooks, articles, videos, audio books, lectures, simulations, fiction and all other kinds of learning media. It makes quality learning resources available to all learners and has 1.7 Crore content from more than 160 sources, in over 200 languages.
National Off-Shore Wind Policy: The Ministry of New & Renewable Energy had notified National Off-Shore Wind Policy in October 2015 to realize the offshore wind power potential in the country. With this, the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE) has been authorized as the Nodal Ministry for use of offshore areas within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the country and the National Institute of Wind Energy (NIWE) has been authorized as the Nodal Agency for development of offshore wind energy. Government has paved way for development of the offshore wind farms up to the seaward distance of 200 Nautical Miles (within its Exclusive Economic Zone) from the base line.
What is Social media communication hub? The hub proposes to monitor social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and even email) handles at the very local level in multiple languages to carry out “sentiment analysis”, track down the influence-making social media users and to categorise the conversations on social media into positive, negative and neutral sections. It also aimed to track real time the way social media receives news on government’s schemes and announcements and also political events.
Article 370 section 92: Provisions in case of failure of constitutional machinery in the State: If at any time, the Governor is satisfied that a situation has arisen in which the Government of the State cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution, the Governor may by Proclamation- Assume to himself all or any of the functions of the Government of the State and all or any of the powers vested in or exercisable by anybody or authority in the State. Make such incidental and consequential provisions as appear to the Governor to be necessary or desirable for giving effect to the objects of the Proclamation, including provisions for suspending in whole or in part the operation of any provision of this Constitution relating to anybody or authority in the State. Any such Proclamation may be revoked or varied by a subsequent Proclamation. Any such Proclamation whether varied under subsection (2) or not, shall except where it is a Proclamation revoking a previous Proclamation, cease to operate on the expiration of six months from the date on which it was first issued. If the Government or by a Proclamation under his section assumes, to himself any, of the powers of the Legislature to make his laws, any law made by him in the exercise of that power shall, subject to, the terms there of continue to have effect until two years have elapsed from the date on which the proclamation ceases to have effect, unless sooner. No Proclamation under this section shall, except where it is a Proclamation revoking a previous Proclamation, be laid before each House of the Legislature as soon as it is convened.
Established under the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, the NHRC seems to have given up its main job – acting as a premier watchdog to protect the rights of each and every citizen of this country, including those living in Kashmir and the northeast. The body seems to have decided to unilaterally give up its powers.
The NHRC has been successfully stalled several times in its quest to look at issues of human rights violations in the state. The state governments have questioned the locus standi of the NHRC to investigate cases of human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir citing Section (2) of The Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993. This clause, in a way, bars NHRC from intervening in Jammu and Kashmir as far as matters related to the List II of the VII Schedule of the Constitution of India are concerned. Thus, any human rights violations of the citizens of Jammu and Kashmir can’t be looked into by the NHRC if the same have been committed by, let us say, the state police.
Natural rubber is an industrial raw material. The growth of the farming sector is totally dependent on the health of the industrial sector which in turn faces global competition. The raw material should be available to the industry at a globally competitive price. There is a steady decline in domestic production of natural rubber and hence import of natural rubber cannot be banned without causing disruption to the rubber product manufacturing sector.
Rubber sector has been an active participant in India’s export drive. Rubber products worth around Rs 20,000 crore are being exported from the country annually which is more than 20% of the domestic rubber output
Major issues related to the sector include minimum support price for natural rubber, restriction on import, minimum import price, categorisation of natural rubber as an agricultural product, import of cup lumps, safeguard duty and increase in budget allocation to Rubber Board.
Import of natural rubber is allowed only through sea ports of Chennai and Jawaharlal Nehru Port at Nhava Sheva, Mumbai.
There are around 13.2 lakh rubber small holdings in the country, out of which around 9 lakh are in Kerala.
India is deficient in both natural rubber and synthetic rubber production so import of raw materials is necessary to meet the needs of domestic manufacturing. Much higher import duties on raw materials such as natural and synthetic rubbers than on finished rubber goods have imp-acted the export competitiveness of the rubber sector in India.
The National Testing Agency, which is being set up to relieve the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) of the burden of conducting multiple examinations, will also train paper setters to set better question papers and provide better model answers.
In pursuance of the Budget Announcement 2017-18, the Union Cabinet, in November 2017, approved creation of the National Testing Agency (NTA) as an autonomous and self-sustained premier testing organization to conduct entrance examinations for Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in the country. Composition: It will be chaired by an educationist who will be appointed by the MHRD. The agency will have a board of governors who will represent the member institutions.
The NTA would initially conduct those entrance examinations which are currently being conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE). The examinations will be conducted in online mode twice a year in order to give adequate opportunity to candidates to bring out their best. Among the examinations that will be transferred to the NTA are the prestigious Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) for admission to engineering colleges like the IITs and NITs and the National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test (NEET) for admission to all medical colleges in the country, except AIIMS and JIPMER, Puducherry.
In order to serve the requirements of the rural students, NTA would locate the centres at sub-district/district level and as far as possible would provide hands-on training to the students
The Union ministry of health and family welfare has launched the National Health Resource Repository (NHRR).
The NHRR project aims to strengthen evidence-based decision making and develop a platform for citizens and provider-centric services by creating a robust, standardised and secured Information Technology (IT)-enabled repository of India’s healthcare resources. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is the project technology partner for providing data security. NHRR shall be the registry of authentic, standardised and updated geo-spatial data of all public and private healthcare.
This resource repository shall enable advanced research towards ongoing and forthcoming healthcare challenges arising from other determinants of health such as disease and the environment. It shall also enhance the coordination between central and state government for optimisation of health resources, making ‘live’ and realistic state project implementation plans (PIPs) and improving accessibility of data at all levels, including state heads of departments, and thus decentralise the decision making at district and state level.
Some key benefits of the NHRR project are to create a reliable, unified registry of country’s healthcare resources showing the distribution pattern of health facilities and services between cities and rural areas.
Additionally, it shall generate real-world intelligence to identify gaps in health and service ratios, and ensure judicious health resource allocation and management.
It shall also identify key areas of improvement by upgrading existing health facilities or establishing new health facilities keeping in view the population density, geographic nature, health condition, distance.
Vietnam hasn’t exactly been lacking suitors either, with Russia being its current top supplier and the United States wooing it constantly. But, with the US bringing into force the ‘Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act’ (CAATSA) — a move that is likely to mount secondary sanctions on nations dealing with Russia in defence and energy — a window of opportunity has opened for India.
India can hope to corner a significant share of the Vietnamese defence market since Hanoi will now be circumspect about turning towards American arms susceptible to sanctions, even as it goes slow on new Russian military imports till it is able to put in place CAATSA workarounds.
Whether India is able to take advantage of this opportunity will, of course, depend on its ability to overcome legacy issues constraining exports and offer genuine value to the Vietnamese.
The commonality in military platforms also suggests that the Indian and Vietnamese militaries have the potential to attain a high degree of interoperability. But interoperability requires connective tissues in the form of joint communications security (COMSEC) equipment. In that light, Bharat Electronics Limited’s (BEL) opening of a representative office in Hanoi during Sitharaman’s visit assumes significance since the Vietnamese seem interested in inducting Indian-origin COMSEC and sensor equipment such as radars.
Vietnam also wants offensive strike systems such as the Brahmos anti-ship cruise missile to credibly deny Chinese access to its waters. However, India has been unable till date to execute a Brahmos sale due to the fact that key sub-systems of the missile such as the radio frequency seeker are imported from Russia. But this is changing now, with India recently testing an indigenous seeker for the Brahmos which may be offered with Brahmos export units in the future.
But even with predominantly indigenous weapons such as the Akash surface-to-air missile, which is also on offer to Vietnam, India will have to demonstrate more value than the Russians in terms of superior industrial partnerships that lead to significant work-share for Vietnam. Incidentally, during the visit, Sitharaman spoke about co-production and export from Vietnamese soil, presumably to other ASEAN nations. Accompanying her, were a number of Indian companies looking to further business-to-business ties with their Vietnamese counterparts. Such ties will be crucial to managing life-cycle costs for any future Indian-supplied equipment.
Her visit could not have been better timed, with CAATSA bringing US unilateralism to the fore and complicating defence ties between Russia and Vietnam.
The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has notified that use of Aadhaar biometric data for criminal investigation is not allowed under Aadhaar Act, 2016.
This comes after National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) Director Ish Kumar made strong pitch for police to be provided with limited access to Aadhaar data to aide them in catching first-time offenders and for identification of unidentified bodies.
As per Section 29 of the Aadhaar Act, the biometrics data collected by UIDAI can be used only for purpose of generating Aadhaar and for authentication of identity of Aadhaar holders and cannot be used for any other purpose.
The very limited exception to this is allowed under Section 33 of Aadhaar Act, which permits use of or access to Aadhaar biometric data in cases involving national security only after pre-authorisation by oversight committee headed by Cabinet Secretary.
This is also consistent stand taken by Union Government in ongoing Aadhaar case in the Supreme Court. Based on this legal stance, UIDAI has never shared any biometric data with any crime investigating agency.
The NCRB Director at the 19th All India Conference of Directors of Finger Prints Bureau in Hyderabad had said that limited access to Aadhaar data was needed to be given to police for purpose of catching first time offenders and for identification of unidentified bodies.
At present around 50 lakh cases were registered every year in the country and most of them (80 to 85%) are committed by first time offenders who leave their fingerprints, which are available in police records. So there is need for access to Aadhaar data to police for purpose of investigation.
The inaugural India, United States 2+2 Dialogue will be held on July 6, 2018 in Washington. DC, capital city of US.
The dialogue will focus on strengthening strategic, security, and defence cooperation as both countries jointly confront global challenges.
It is seen as a vehicle to elevate the strategic relationship between two countries.
In inaugural 2+2 Dialogue, US Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo and Secretary of Defense James Mattis will host External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. Under it, both countries are expected to share perspectives on strengthening their strategic and security ties and exchange views on range of bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest.
The new dialogue format was agreed to between two countries during visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to US in June, 2017. It will replace earlier India-US Strategic and Commercial Dialogue . It is similar to India-Japan 2+2 dialogue format between foreign and defence secretaries of the two countries. The 2+2 Dialogue between US and India aims enhance strategic coordination between both countries and maintaining peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. It will put strategic, defence and security relationship between the two countries at the forefront and centre stage.
It will enhance strategic coordination between the two nations and also elevate strategic consultations between both countries. It will insulate India-US strategic relationship from feuds over trade issues and deep divide on economic integration policies as trade and commercial issues were discussed in Strategic and Commercial Dialogue earlier.
Ministry of Women & Child Development has received the ‘Best Performing Social Sector Ministry’ SKOCH Award for its Achievements and Initiatives. The Skoch Awards celebrate human excellence and agents of change in Indian society. They are the highest independently instituted civilian honours in India. Only end-user departments and domain ministries may apply including State undertakings. The Skoch Awards have become the only independent benchmark of best practices in India in the fields of governance, finance, banking, technology, corporate citizenship, economics and inclusive growth. Skoch Consultancy Services is a think tank dealing with socio-economic issues with a focus on inclusive growth.
The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) works to promote international cooperation in the peaceful use and exploration of space, and in the utilisation of space science and technology for sustainable economic and social development. The Office assists any United Nations Member States to establish legal and regulatory frameworks to govern space activities and strengthens the capacity of developing countries to use space science technology and applications for development by helping to integrate space capabilities into national development programmes. UNOOSA is also responsible for implementing the Secretary-General’s responsibilities under international space law and maintaining the United Nations Register of Objects Launched into Outer Space. UNOOSA is the current secretariat of the International Committee on Global Navigation Satellite Systems (ICG).
In early 2016, Sikkim was declared India’s first fully organic State. But organic agriculture often involves addition of large amounts of manure, vermicompost and other materials that are required in bulk and need to be purchased. These turn out to be expensive for most small farm holders.
ZBNF has attained wide success in southern India, especially the southern Indian state of Karnataka where it first evolved. The movement in Karnataka state was born out of collaboration between Mr Subhash Palekar, who put together the ZBNF practices, and the state farmers association Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS), a member of La Via Campesina (LVC). ‘Zero budget’ farming promises to end a reliance on loans and drastically cut production costs, ending the debt cycle for desperate farmers. The word ‘budget’ refers to credit and expenses, thus the phrase ‘Zero Budget’ means without using any credit, and without spending any money on purchased inputs. ‘Natural farming’ means farming with Nature and without chemicals. In the news (TH): In early June, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu announced that the State would fully embrace Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF), a chemical-free method that would cover all farmers by 2024 . AP has become the first state to implement a ZBNF policy. APZBNF: The father of ZBNF Sh. Subash Palekar has provided four important non-negotiable guidelines: Bijamrita (Seed Treatment using local cowdung and cow urine), Jiwamrita (applying inoculation made of local cowdung and cow urine without any fertilizers and pesticides), Mulching (activities to ensure favorable microclimate in the soil), and Waaphasa (soil aeration).
To address the issue of scientific plastic waste management, the Plastic Waste (Management and Handling) Rules were first notified in 2011. Some news provisions in the 2016 rules: Rural areas have been brought in ambit of these Rules since plastic has reached to rural areas also. Responsibility for implementation of the rules is given to Gram Panchayat. First time, responsibility of waste generators is being introduced. Individual and bulk generators like offices, commercial establishments, industries are to segregate the plastic waste at source, handover segregated waste, pay user fee as per bye-laws of the local bodies.
The Ken-Betwa river interlinking project involves deforesting a portion of the Panna Tiger Reserve
Social Audit is a tool through which government departments can plan, manage and measure non-financial activities and monitor both internal and external consequences of the departments’ social and commercial operations. Social Audit gives an understanding of the administrative system from the perspective of the vast majority of people in the society for whom the very institutional/administrative system is being promoted and legitimised.
Social Audit of administration means understanding the administrative system and its internal dynamics from the angle of what they mean for the vast majority of the people, who are not essentially a part of the State or its machinery or the ruling class of the day, for whom they are meant to work.
Social Audit is an independent evaluation of the performance of an organisation as it relates to the attainment of its social goals. It is an instrument of social accountability of an organisation.
Objectives of Social Audit:
Accurate identification of requirements
Prioritization of developmental activities as per requirements
Proper utilization of funds
Conformity of the developmental activity with the stated goals
Quality of service
A social audit will generally examine the organisation’s policies and practices in the following key areas:
Ethics – what the organisation’s policies are, whether or not they are being upheld or undermined by the enterprise’s day-to-day activities.
Staffing – how the enterprise rewards, trains and develops its staff, as well as the way in which the enterprise ensures that it is non-discriminatory, fair and equitable to everyone working there.
Environment – the enterprise’s policies relating to caring for the environment, waste management and disposal, and damage reduction, and whether or not the enterprise is adhering to these policies.
Human rights – how it ensures that it does not violate human rights, or deal, trade with or support any organisation that violates human rights.
Community – the organisation’s policies relating to the local community, and community involvement; these policies might, for example, cover community partnerships or community projects, and checks will be made during the social audit to ensure that agreements are being upheld.
Society – the organisation’s policies relating to society as a whole, and the way in which the enterprise seeks to improve or benefit society.
Compliance – how the organisation complies with statutory and legal requirements, such as health and safety, employment law, environmental law, criminal law and, of course, financial and tax laws.
SEBI introduced the measure to keep a tab on securities that witness an abnormal price rise that is not commensurate with financial health and fundamentals of the company such as earnings, book value, price to earnings ratio among others.
The underlying principle behind the graded surveillance framework is to alert and protect investors trading in a security, which is seeing abnormal price movements. SEBI may put shares of companies under the measure for suspected price rigging or under the ambit of ‘shell companies’. The measure would provide a heads up to market participants that they need to be extra cautious and diligent while dealing in such securities put under surveillance.
Once a firm is identified for surveillance it goes through six stages with corresponding surveillance actions and the restrictions on trading in those securities gets higher progressively. In the first stage the securities are put in the trade-to-trade segment (meaning no speculative trading is allowed and delivery of shares and payment of consideration amount are mandatory). A maximum of 5% movement in share price is allowed.
In the second stage, in addition to the trade-to-trade segment, the buyer of the security has to put 100% of trade value as additional surveillance deposit. The deposit would be retained by the exchanges for a period of five months and refunded in a phased manner.
In the third stage, trading is permitted only once a week ie every Monday, apart from the buyer putting 100% of the trade value as additional surveillance deposit.
In the fourth stage, trading would be allowed once a week and the surveillance deposit increases to 200% of the trade value.
In the fifth stage, trading would be permitted only once a month (first Monday of the month) with additional deposit of 200%.
In the sixth and final stage, there are maximum restrictions.
Trading is permitted only once a month at this stage, with no upward movement allowed in price. Also, the additional surveillance deposit would be 200%.
The only challenge for the small investors is that these announcements are often made at very short notice and implemented from the next day itself thus giving those who have already entered the stock less than adequate time to exit it. Of course, there is also potentially another risk. For example, even if time is given, the stock might crash next day on the news, triggering the lower price circuit and leaving no exit opportunity.
Tholu Bommalata, the traditional puppetry art form of Andhra Pradesh, has lost its sheen. Now, there are only a few artisans to carry forward the art
Years ago, the art was active in the four districts of Rayalaseema, especially in the border villages of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.
However currently, there are only 6-8 troops left in all those areas that are still taking up the leather puppetry as the prime livelihood.
Tholu Bommalata is the shadow puppet theatre tradition of the state of Andhra Pradesh. Tholu Bommalata literally means “the dance of leather puppets”.
The puppeteers make up some of the various entertainers who perform all night and usually reenact various stories from Hindu epics such as the Ramayana and Mahabharata.
Its performers the part of a group of wandering entertainers and peddlers who pass through villages during the course of a year and offer to sing ballads, tell fortunes, sell amulets, perform acrobatics, charm snakes, weave fishnets, tattoo local people and mend pots.
To celebrate the idea of unity in diversity, the Ministry of Culture is organising the the Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav in Tehri, Uttarakhand. The paired state for Uttarakhand under the Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat matrix is Karnataka, and while troupes from all over the country will be performing, special emphasis is being given to Karnataka.
The Ministry of Culture is organising the event under the Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat matrix. Tehri Lake Festival where one can explore the water sports, organized by the Uttarakhand Tourism every year, will be subsumed within the Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav
The Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat programme was launched by the Prime Minister on 31st October, 2016 to promote engagement amongst the people of different states/UTs so as to enhance mutual understanding and bonding between people of diverse cultures, thereby securing stronger unity and integrity of India
The broad objective of the scheme is to skill the youth for gainful and sustainable employment in the textile sector covering the entire value chain of textiles, excluding spinning and weaving.
The scheme is intended to provide demand driven, placement oriented National Skills Qualifications Framework (NSQF) compliant skilling programmes to incentivize and supplement the efforts of the industry in creating jobs in the textiles sectors.
The scheme targets to train 10 lakh persons (9 lakh in organised and 1 lakh in traditional sector) over a period of 3 years (2017-20), with an outlay of Rs. 1300 crore.
In an attempt to promote solar energy, the Gujarat government has announced Suryashakti Kisan Yojana (SKY) scheme under which farmers would be encouraged to generate electricity and sell their surplus to power distribution companies.
Under the first phase of project, the state government would provide financial assistance to 12,400 farmers out of the state’s total 15 lakh farmers to generate an estimated 175 MW of power.
The state government and the Centre would jointly share 60% of the cost of installing a solar generating unit in the fields, while the farmers would need to chip in only 5%.
The remaining 35% would be in the form of a loan by the state government at the rate of four to 4.5%. The government would also enter in a 25-year power purchase agreement with the farmers.
Till the farmers repay their loan, the distribution companies would buy electricity from them at the rate of Rs 7 per unit and at Rs 3.5 per unit once the loans are settled. After that, the farmers would get ownership of the solar system.
Operation Sagar Rani was launched by the Food Safety department last year.
It ensures the safety of fish sold in the market and ensures that it was handled hygienically at the handling and distribution centres.
Recently, contaminated fish preserved using formalin (formaldehyde) were seized in Kerala.
Toxic preservatives are being used by people/traders in Kerala who are importing fish from neighbouring States.
Unscrupulous fish wholesalers are using formalin, a toxic and carcinogenic chemical commonly used to preserve dead bodies in mortuaries, to prevent fish from deteriorating during transportation.
Airports Authority of India has proposed to set up a water aerodrome in Chilika Lake for starting amphibious aircraft operations in Odisha. Project will most likely face a green hurdle due to possible ecological consequences.
A brackish water lagoon; largest coastal lagoon in India and the second largest lagoon in the world. Spread: Puri, Khurda and Ganjam districts of Odisha
Where: At the mouth of R. Daya—flowing into the Bay of Bengal Birds: Hosts over 160 species of birds
Home to the only known population of Irrawaddy dolphins in India (IUCN Status: Endangered)
Irrawaddy dolphin (Orcaella brevirostris) is a highly endangered species. Total population of these animals in the world is estimated to be less than 7,500 with highest being little over 6,000 reported from Bangladesh. The population of Irrawaddy dolphins in Chilika is considered to be the highest single lagoon population with recorded head count of 155 this year.
Chilika is the single largest habitat of this species in the world. The Irrawaddy Dolphin is listed in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) as well as the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS).
India has finally shed the dubious distinction of being home to the largest number of poor, with Nigeria taking that unwanted position in May 2018. Nigeria had about 87 million people in extreme poverty, compared with India’s 73 million. What is more, extreme poverty in Nigeria is growing by six people every minute
The Bill provides for proper surveillance, inspection, operation and maintenance of all specified dams in the country to ensure their safe functioning. The Bill provides for constitution of a National Committee on Dam Safety which shall evolve dam safety policies and recommend necessary regulations as may be required for the purpose.
The Bill provides for establishment of National Dam Safety Authority as a regulatory body which shall discharge functions to implement the policy, guidelines and standards for dam safety in the country.
The Bill provides for constitution of a State Committee on Dam Safety by State Government.
Functions of the National Dam Safety Authority:
It shall maintain liaison with the State Dam Safety Organisations and the owners of dams for standardisation of dam safety related data and practices. It shall provide the technical and managerial assistance to the States and State Dam Safety Organisations.
It shall maintain a national level data-base of all dams in the country and the records of major dam failures. It shall examine the cause of any major dam failure.
It shall publish and update the standard guidelines and check-lists for the routine inspection and detailed investigations of dams and appurtenances. It shall accord recognition or accreditations to the organisations that can be entrusted with the works of investigation, design or construction of new dams. It will also look into unresolved points of issue between the State Dam Safety Organisation of two states, or between the State Dam Safety Organisation of a State and the owner of a dam in that State, for proper solution.
Further, in certain cases, such as dams of one State falling under the territory of another State, the National Authority shall also perform the role of State Dam Safety Organization thereby eliminating potential causes for inter-state conflicts.
Need for a legislation: There are over 5200 large dams in India and about 450 are under construction. Plus there are thousands of medium and small dams. Due to lack of legal and institutional architecture for dam safety in India, dam safety is an issue of concern. Unsafe dams are a hazard and dam break may cause disasters, leading to huge loss of life and property.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has come out with draft guidelines on constituting a board of management (BoM) in addition to the board of directors, for urban cooperative banks (UCBs), with the aim of strengthening the governance in these banks.
What you need to know? Need: As UCBs are accepting public deposits, it is imperative that a separate mechanism be put in place to protect the interests of depositors.
Applicability: Existing UCBs with deposit sizes exceeding Rs100 crore shall put in place the BoM within one year, while others banks may take two years. UCBs with deposit sizes up to Rs100 crore will have BoMs of a minimum of three members, while those with deposit sizes of more than Rs100 crore will have at least five members in the BoMs. The maximum number of members in the management shall not exceed 12.
Composition: It will consist of members with special knowledge and practical experience in banking to facilitate professional management and focused attention to banking related activities of UCBs.
The circular also said that at least 50% of the members of the BoM should have specialisation or practical experience in fields such as accountancy, agriculture, law. The chief executive officer of the bank will be an ex-officio member of the BoD and BoM and he will be under the general superintendence, direction and control of the board.
Functions: The BoM will be responsible for credit, risk and liquidity management of the bank. It will be responsible for the day-to-day functions, including considering loan proposals, recovery of bad loans, borrowings and overseeing audit and inspection functions.
Management: The BoM will report to the BoD, which will continue to oversee the general direction and control of a UCB. RBI shall have powers to supersede the BoM if the functioning of BoM is found unsatisfactory.
NITI Aayog’s Women Entrepreneurs Platform (WEP) has signed five separate Statement of Intent (SoIs) with Financial Institutions & Social Organisations. These SOIs will provide financial assistance to women entrepreneurs and address the finance related challenges faced by them through WEP.
About the Women Entrepreneurship Platform: Aim: The initiative is aimed at building an ecosystem for women across India to realize their entrepreneurial aspirations, scale-up innovative initiatives and chalk-out sustainable, long-term strategies for their businesses. This will be done through an enabling network of industry collaborations, partnerships, mentors and peer-to-peer connect.
What it does? From providing unique services such as credit evaluation of women-led startups by CRISIL and potential equity investments through an INR 10 crore fund established by DICE Districts, the WEP opens up avenues of growth and opportunity for women entrepreneurs.
Need for economic empowerment of women: Economically empowered women are major catalysts for development. There is greater recognition of the positive relationship between increased economic activity by women and improved social outcomes. Women often tend to reinvest their income in their children’s education, health and nutrition. This has a positive impact on the potential for economic growth.
Challenges: India presents lower opportunities for women to assume leadership roles, participation in the workforce or engagement in entrepreneurial activities. Lack of education, technological know-how and cultural bias coupled with stringent business and government regulations are some key impediments that happen to undermine women’s ability to rise to positions of leadership and take advantage of entrepreneurial opportunities in India.
Way ahead: Women entrepreneurs have been carving out a niche for them across the globe, including India especially in niche and unconventional businesses. However, there is significant potential to harness the untapped potential of women’s entrepreneurship in India.
About Solar Charkha Mission: The Solar Charkha Mission will generate employment in rural areas and contribute to the green economy. The mission will entail a subsidy of Rs 550 crore in the initial two years for 50 clusters and every cluster will employ 400 to 2000 artisans. The scheme also aims at linking five crore women across the country to the initiative. The mission is expected to create one lakh jobs during the first two years.
Significance of MSMEs: MSME account for around 60% employment in India. MSME have registered over 10% growth in recent times which is much more compared to large enterprises. This is one sector where people not only exhibit their entrepreneurial skills, become part of large value chains but also become job creators in the process.
A Higher Education Commission of India (Repeal of University Grants Commission Act) Bill 2018 which seeks to repeal UGC Act and provides for setting up of Higher Education Commission of India has been prepared by the Ministry of HRD.
Roles and functions of Higher Education Commission of India: The focus of the Commission will be on improving academic standards and quality of higher education, specifying norms for learning outcomes, lay down standards of teaching/research etc. It will provide a roadmap for mentoring of institutions found failing in maintaining the required academic standards.
The Commission will encourage higher education institutions to formulate a Code of Good Practices covering promotion of research, teaching and learning. The Commission will also specify norms and processes for fixing of fee chargeable by higher education institutions and advice the Central Government or the State Governments, as the case may be, regarding steps to be taken for making education affordable to all.
The Commission will monitor, through a national data base, all matters covering the development of emerging fields of knowledge and balanced growth of higher education institutions in all spheres and specially in promotion of academic quality in higher education.
Composition: The proposed commission will have 12 members appointed by the central government, apart from the chairperson and vice-chairperson.
Powers: It shall have the power to enforce its decisions through legal provisions in the Act. It shall have the power to grant authorization for starting of academic operations on the basis of their compliance with norms of academic quality. It will also have the powers to revoke authorization granting to a higher education institution where there is a case of wilful or continuous default in compliance with the norms / regulations.
It will also have the power to recommend closure of institutions which fail to adhere to minimum standards without affecting students’ interest. Brief history of UGC: Previously, UGC was formed in 1946 to oversee the work of the three Central Universities of Aligarh, Banaras and, Delhi. In 1947, a Committee was entrusted with the responsibility of dealing with all the then existing Universities. After independence, the University Education Commission was set up in 1948 under the Chairmanship of S. Radhakrishnan and it recommended that the UGC be reconstituted on the general model of the University Grants Commission of the United Kingdom. The UGC was however, formally established in November 1956, by an Act of Parliament as a statutory body of the Government of India
Global Environment Facility (GEF) It is a FINANCIAL MECHANISM for five major international environmental conventions: the Minamata Convention on Mercury, the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD), the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) Programme India is the third largest consumer of energy in the world after China and the US. Currently, the country is dependent on imports for about 82.1% of its crude oil requirement and to the extent of about 44.4% in case of natural gas. India is expected to need 10 billion litres of ethanol annually to meet the 20% blending target in 2030 if petrol consumption continues to grow at the current pace. At present, the capacity stands at 1.55 billion litres a year. The National Policy on Bio-fuels has set a target of 20% blending of biofuels, both for bio-diesel and bio-ethanol. This will require an integrated approach in the Ethanol Blending Programme (EBP). The time is ripe for a cogent and consistent policy and administrative framework in the program implementation for the success of EBP.
A total of 20 countries, including India, announced contributions to the 2018 budget of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestine Refugees. India has pledged USD 5 million. The contributions are to help bolster “severe funding crisis” following US’ cut in its annual aid to UNRWA.
Background: UNRWA has been providing health, education, relief and social services, as well as emergency humanitarian assistance, to some 5.3 million Palestinian refugees across its five fields of operation — Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip — for 65 years. However, in January, the agency’s financial situation became catastrophic due to the sudden loss of USD 300 million in voluntary contributions. The Trump administration in January US said it would withhold USD 65 million of USD 125 million it had planned to send to UNRWA.
About UNRWA: Following the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict, UNRWA was established by United Nations General Assembly to carry out direct relief and works programmes for Palestine refugees. The Agency began operations on 1 May 1950. In the absence of a solution to the Palestine refugee problem, the General Assembly has repeatedly renewed UNRWA’s mandate, most recently extending it until 30 June 2020. UNRWA is the only UN agency dedicated to helping refugees from a specific region or conflict and is separate from UNHCR.
Funding: The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions from UN Member States. UNRWA also receives some funding from the Regular Budget of the United Nations, which is used mostly for international staffing costs. The Agency’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, microfinance and emergency assistance, including in times of armed conflict.
The NITI Aayog has launched the first Delta ranking (incremental progress) for the Aspirational Districts.
Delta ranking: The ranking is based on self-reported data of districts across five developmental areas of Health and Nutrition, Education, Agriculture and Water Resources, Financial Inclusion and Skill Development, and Basic Infrastructure. Districts to provide real-time data points by filling up the Champions of Change Dashboard.
Significance of delta ranking: The ranking is also a tool to identify sectors and indicator specific challenges so that Team India, which is driving this programme, can take immediate corrective measures. This Delta ranking takes a step further and looks into specific aspects of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and analyses how districts have performed in last two months across important sectors. This grouping and positioning would aid the District Magistrates/Collectors to focus more on these sectors and improve their ranking in future.
Performance of various districts: Dahod district of Gujarat improved 19.8 points to rank first. West Sikkim district in Sikkim stood second with 18.9 points. Bijapur district in Chhattisgarh is ranked 6th position.
About the scheme: Launched in January this year, the ‘Transformation of Aspirational Districts’ programme aims to quickly and effectively transform some of the most underdeveloped districts of the country. The broad contours of the programme are Convergence (of Central & State Schemes), Collaboration (of Central, State level ‘Prabhari’ Officers & District Collectors), and Competition among districts driven by a Mass Movement or a Jan Andolan. With States as the main drivers, this program will focus on the strength of each district, identify low-hanging fruits for immediate improvement, measure progress, and rank districts.
Focus of the programme: To enable optimum utilization 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.
Significance of the scheme: If these districts are transformed, there would be tremendous improvement in the internal security environment of the country. If Prabhari officers can bring convergence in the development efforts of different Ministries and state Governments and the schemes specially launched by Home Ministry in these districts, it would serve as a great opportunity to ensure rapid development in the country.
IPledgefor9′ Achievers Awards were given recently to the individuals and teams of doctors from the private sector and States for their exemplary services, outstanding support of institutions and commitment from support partners in achieving PMSMA’s objectives of safe motherhood to every woman in the country.
The Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan has been launched by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW), Government of India. The program aims to provide assured, comprehensive and quality antenatal care, free of cost, universally to all pregnant women on the 9th of every month.
PMSMA guarantees a minimum package of antenatal care services to women in their 2nd/3rd trimesters of pregnancy at designated government health facilities.
The programme follows a systematic approach for engagement with private sector which includes motivating private practitioners to volunteer for the campaign; developing strategies for generating awareness and appealing to the private sector to participate in the Abhiyan at government health facilities.
Different colour stickers will be Red Sticker for Serious patients, Blue Sticker for High blood pressure and Yellow Sticker for Other diseases.
Statistics Day On the eve of 12th Statistics Day (June 29th), a commemorative coin of Rs 125 and circulation coin of Rs 5 denomination have been released. The day marks 125th Birth Anniversary of Professor P. C. Mahalanobis.
ReUnite It is a mobile application launched by Indian Railways which helps to track and trace missing and abandoned children in India. The application has been developed by Bachpan Bachao Andolan & Capgemini.
UN migration agency : International Organization for Migration (IOM) IOM is the leading intergovernmental organization in the field of migration with over 10,000 staff serving in over 400 offices across more than 150 countries. It was initially established in 1951 as the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration (ICEM) to help resettle people displaced by World War II. It provides services and advice to Governments and migrants, such as humanitarian assistance to migrants in need, including refugees and internally displaced people.
In a Remarkable Achievement, India gets its 37th WORLD UNESCO World HERITAGE SITE. The decision was taken at the 42nd session of the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO at Manama in Bahrain.
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. While India stands second largest in number after China in terms of number of World Heritage properties in ASPAC (Asia and Pacific) region, it is overall sixth in the world.
A World Heritage site is classified as a natural or man-made area or a structure that is of international importance, and a space which requires special protection. These sites are officially recognised by the UN and the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation, also known as UNESCO. UNESCO believes that the sites classified as World Heritage are important for humanity, and they hold cultural and physical significance.
RIMES was established on 30 April 2009 to provide user-relevant early warning services to its Member States and others. It is a UN registered international and inter-governmental institution. It is owned and managed by its 48 members and collaborating states for building capacities in the generation and application of user-relevant early warning information.
RIMES and OSDMA collaboration will contribute to global efforts targeted to substantially increase the availability of and access to multi-hazard early warning systems as articulated in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030.
India’s longest-range ballistic missile, Agni-V It is a surface-to-surface missile which can carry nuclear warhead weighing 1.5 tonnes to a distance of over 5,000 km and is the longest missile in India’s arsenal capable of reaching most parts of China. The missile features many new indigenously-developed technologies, including the very high accuracy Ring Laser Gyro based Inertial Navigation System (RINS), and the most modern and accurate Micro Navigation System (MINS) which improves the accuracy of the missile.
About Sendai Framework: The “Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030” was adopted during the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction held in Sendai, Japan in March, 2015. Key features of the Sendai framework: It is the first major agreement of the post-2015 development agenda, with seven targets and four priorities for action. It was endorsed by the UN General Assembly following the 2015 Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR). The Framework is for 15-year. It is a voluntary and non-binding agreement which recognizes that the State has the primary role to reduce disaster risk but that responsibility should be shared with other stakeholders including local government, the private sector and other stakeholders. The new Framework is the successor instrument to the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) 2005-2015: Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters.
Banking Codes and Standards Board of India (BCSBI): The Banking Codes and Standards Board of India (BCSBI) is an independent banking industry watchdog that protects consumers of banking services in India. The board oversee compliance with the “Code of Bank’s Commitment to Customers”. It is an independent and autonomous body, registered as a separate society under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 on 18 February 2006. The Reserve Bank of India extended financial support to the Board, meeting its expenses for the first five years. BCSBI has in collaboration with the Indian Banks’ Association (IBA), evolved two codes – Code of Bank’s Commitment to Customers and the Code of Bank’s Commitment to Micro and Small Enterprises – which set minimum standards of banking practices for member banks to follow when they are dealing with individual customers and micro and small enterprises.
The Union Cabinet has approved establishment of additional 6.5 Million Metric Tonne (MMT) Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) facilities at two locations, i.e. Chandikhol in Odisha and Padur in Karnataka, including construction of dedicated SPMs (Single Point Mooring) for the two SPRs.
The SPR facilities at Chandikhol and Padur will be underground rock caverns and will have capacities of 4 MMT and 2.5 MMT respectively. Generating more employment through PPP
The in-principle approval is to take up the project under PPP model to reduce budgetary support of Government of India. The terms and conditions of such participation would be determined by M/oP&NG in consultation with Ministry of Finance after conducting road shows to elicit requirements of the market, including prospective investors.
The construction phase of the SPRs is likely to generate significant direct & indirect employment opportunities in the states of Odisha and Karnataka
The NRC was introduced to identify illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and recognise the Indian citizens in Assam. It was first prepared in 1951 and Assam is the only state having this arrangement.
Why the NRC is being updated in Assam? NRC updation basically means the process of enlisting the names of those persons (or their descendants) whose names appear in any of the Electoral Rolls up to 1971, 1951 NRC or any of the admissible documents stipulated.
Way ahead: The need of the hour therefore is for the Union Government to allay apprehensions presently in the minds of the people of Assam and take steps to contain any adverse fallout after the publication of the final draft of the NRC. At the same time, it also needs to spell out what it intends to do with the persons whose names do not figure in the final NRC.
What is Systematic Voters Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP)? SVEEP is a programme of multi interventions through different modes and media designed to educate citizens, electors and voters about the electoral process in order to increase their awareness and participation in the electoral processes.
SVEEP is designed according to the socio-economic, cultural and demographic profile of the state as well as the history of electoral participation in previous rounds of elections and learning thereof.
Now it includes enhanced interaction with the citizens through social media, online contests and voters’ festivals; awareness about new initiatives of linking EPIC with AADHAAR and National Voters’ Service Portal and a regularised yearly plan of activities.
In addition to target groups of women, youth, urban voters and the marginalized sections, the inclusion of groups like service voters, NRIs, persons with disabilities, prospective voters/ students is of primary focus.
The Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA), previously named the Bangkok Agreement, was signed in 1975 as an initiative of ESCAP. The six member countries are Bangladesh, China, India, Laos, Korea and Sri Lanka.
Being the oldest preferential trade agreement among developing countries in Asia-Pacific, APTA aims to promote economic development through the adoption of mutually beneficial trade liberalization measures that will contribute to intra-regional trade expansion and provides for economic integration through coverage of merchandise goods, services, investment and trade facilitation.
Open to all developing member countries, APTA is a truly region-wide trade agreement spanning East and South Asia, with potential to expand to other sub-regions, including Central Asia and the Pacific.
APTA is the first plurilateral agreement among the developing countries in the region to adopt common operational procedures for certification and verification of the origin of goods and it has the longest effective implementation period amongst the trade agreements in the entire Asia-Pacific.
Notably, APTA is the only operational trade agreement linking China and India, two of the fastest growing markets in the world, and other major markets such as the Republic of Korea.
In the case of Air India, for example, one of the reasons why this newspaper has been advocating that the government write off all its debt—and not just half—is that the losses are so huge, just avoiding the losses is a big gain from privatisation.
If Air India’s annual losses are to remain at around Rs5,000 crore for the next five years—they will rise to at least Rs 7,000 crore this year as oil prices are higher—that is Rs 25,000 crore in total or around Rs 20,800 crore in today’s value, assuming a 10% discount;
losses at this level for 10 years mean a net present value of Rs 33,800 crore! The point is that, with companies like Air India or BSNL/MTNL—combined losses of the telecom PSUs rose from Rs6,807 crore in FY16 to Rs 7,734 crore in FY17—they have no credible revival plan without a massive layoff of staff;
MTNL’s salary is 75% of turnover versus an industry average of around 4-5%. Getting rid of these white elephants for even free is a great saving, but, retaining them will cost more than even their annual losses.
In the case of MTNL, since its spectrum expires next April, the government will have to spend Rs 9,500 crore to renew this; BSNL wants Rs 12,995 crore of 4G spectrum, also for free, as it has no money to pay for it. And, there is no guarantee that, after getting this largesse, the PSUs will perform any better.
Looked at another way, since this government has come to power, the share of PSUs in overall market capitalisation has contracted from 22.7% to 13.5%—that translates to a potential loss of Rs 13.5 lakh crore.
In other words, every day that the government holds on to PSUs means a loss in its potential value.
If the prime minister kept this in mind, his main concern would be divesting PSUs at the earliest, not worrying about whether he could get a higher valuation at some date in the future.
The President said that the MSME sector accounts for around 60% employment in India.
The President of India Ram Nath Kovind inaugurated the Udyam Sangam-2018 in New Delhi on International MSME Day 2018. Referring to UdyamSakhi portal of the MSME Ministry, the President said that it will empower women and weaker sections by providing training to 80 lakh women. Asserting that the MSME sector in India is leveraging the demographic dividend of the country, he said that the sector is promoting an inclusive growth in rural and backward areas.
>He also mentioned that the MSME sector accounts for around 60% employment in India and around 6.5 crore MSME units across the country employ over 11 crore people, contributing over 10% growth which is higher than the heavy industrial units.
The President appreciated the work done by Arunachalam Muruganatham in promoting women’s hygiene by manufacturing low-cost sanitary napkins. Entrepreneurs in more than 100 countries are now trying to replicate this. A film documenting his struggle has been made. The President desired that many more such films documenting the contributions of innovative Micro and Small Entrepreneurs should be produced.
The President also launched the Solar Charkha Mission on Wednesday which will cover 50 clusters and every cluster will employ 400 to 2000 artisans. The Mission has been approved by the Government of India for which the MSME Ministry will disburse subsidy of Rs 550 crores to the artisans. He further said that the Solar Charkha Mission will generate employment in rural areas and contribute to the green economy.
The President also referred to the special relief given to the MSME sector under Insolvency and Bankruptcy Codewhich will allow promoters to bid for an enterprise undergoing Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process. Kovind mentioned that MSMEs are producing parts for Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and Tejas fighter aircraft and expressed hope that deliberations at the conclave held in New Delhi will throw new solutions so that MSME entrepreneurs may be able to occupy a space at the global level.
A portal of the Ministry of MSME called 'Sampark' was also unveiled by the President. This portal will act as a bridge between the talent pool and those enterprises seeking trained human resources.
The UN General Assembly in its 74th Plenary held on April 6, 2017 declared June 27 as MSMEs Day, recognizing the importance of MSMEs in achieving sustainable development goals and in promoting innovation, creativity, and sustainable work for all.
The Council was formed inter-alia for the purposes of representing the various regulated non-banking payment industry players, to address and help resolve various industry level issues and barriers which require discussion and action.
The council works with all its members to promote payments industry growth and to support our national goal of ‘Cash to Less Cash Society’ and ‘Growth of Financial Inclusion’ which is also the Vision Shared by the RBI and Government of India.
PCI works closely with the regulators i.e. Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Finance Ministry and any similar government, departments, bodies or Institution to make ‘India a less cash society’.
About IAMAI: The Internet and Mobile Association of India [IAMAI] is a young and vibrant association with ambitions of representing the entire gamut of digital businesses in India.
It was established in 2004 by the leading online publishers, but in the last 10 years has come to effectively address the challenges facing the digital and online industry including mobile content and services, online publishing, mobile advertising, online advertising, ecommerce and mobile & digital payments among others.
It is the only professional industry body representing the online and mobile VAS industry in India.
The association is registered under the Societies Act and is a recognized charitable institution in Maharashtra.
The L-G is bound by the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers. In case of difference of opinion, the L-G should straightaway refer the dispute to the President for a final decision.
The Lieutenant-Governor should act as a “facilitator” for good governance in the national capital and not as an “obstructionist”. The Lieutenant-Governor’s authority, saying he cannot exercise his discretion in “each and every matter” of daily governance.
His discretionary powers are in fact limited to only matters in the State List — public order, police and land — over which the legislative power of the Delhi Legislative Assembly stand excluded under Article 239AA.
The NCT government need only to inform the L-G of its “well-deliberated” decisions. The government need not obtain his “concurrence” on every issue of day-to-day governance.
The elected government could make policies on laws enacted by its own Assembly. The executive power of the NCT government was co-extensive with its legislative powers.
Delhi as the national capital belongs to the nation as a whole. if Delhi becomes a full-fledged State, there would be a constitutional division of sovereign, legislative and executive powers between the Union and the State of Delhi. Parliament would have limited legislative access and that too only in special and emergency situations. The Union would be unable to discharge its “special responsibilities in relation to the national capital as well as to the nation itself”.
Way ahead: L-G’s role is not that of a Constitutional figurehead, though the ultimate responsibility for good administration of Delhi is vested in the President acting through the Administrator. However, the Administrator has to take a somewhat more active part in the administration than the Governor of a State.
Hence, differences of opinion would arise between the L-G and the elected government. The report had recommended that the “best way” of doing this is to let the L-G refer such differences of opinion to the President for a final decision.
The cabinet has approved the proposal for expanding the scope of Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA) by enhancing its capital base to Rs. 10,000 crore and tasking it to mobilise Rs. 1,00,000 crore for Revitalizing Infrastructure and Systems in Education (RISE) by 2022
Under RISE, all centrally-funded institutes (CFIs), including central universities, IITs, IIMs, NITs and IISERs, can borrow from a Rs 1,00,000 crore corpus over the next four years to expand and build new infrastructure. The initiative aims to step up investments in research and related infrastructure in premier educational institutions, including health institutions.
Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA) would be suitably structured for funding this initiative. The manner in which investment in institutions is provided is likely to be the same as is practised in HEFA, but there may be different windows for different institutions.
What is it? The Union Cabinet had approved HEFA in September 2016 as a Special Purpose Vehicle with a public sector bank (Canara Bank). It would be jointly funded by the promoter/bank and the MHRD with an authorised capital of ₹2,000 crore. The government equity would be 1,000 crore.
Functions: HEFA will leverage the equity to raise up to ₹20,000 crore for the funding of world-class infrastructure at the IITs, IIMs, the National Institutes of Technology (NITs) and such other institutions. The agency will also mobilise Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds from public sector units (PSUs) and corporates. These would be released as grants to eligible institutions for promoting research and innovation.
Significance of HEFA: Funding from HEFA is expected to boost infrastructure, especially state-of-the-art laboratories, in key institutions such as the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), and the Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs).
As per the Bill, national and regional DNA data banks will be set up for maintaining a national database for identification of victims, suspects in cases, undertrials, missing persons and unidentified human remains.
According to it, those leaking the DNA profile information to people or entities who are not entitled to have it, will be punished with a jail term of up to three years and a fine of up to Rs. 1 lakh. Similar, punishment has also been provided for those who seek the information on DNA profiles illegally.
As per the bill, all DNA data, including DNA profiles, DNA samples and records, will only be used for identification of the person and not for “any other purpose”.
The bill’s provisions will enable the cross-matching between persons who have been reported missing on the one hand and unidentified dead bodies found in various parts of the country on the other, and also for establishing the identity of victims in mass disasters.
Benefits of the Bill: By providing for the mandatory accreditation and regulation of DNA laboratories, the Bill seeks to ensure that with the proposed expanded use of this technology in the country. There is also the assurance that the DNA test results are reliable and the data remain protected from misuse or abuse in terms of the privacy rights of our citizens.
It has provisions that will enable the cross-matching between persons who have been reported missing on the one hand and unidentified dead bodies found in various parts of the country on the other, and also for establishing the identity of victims in mass disasters.
DNA technology- significance and concerns: DNA analysis is an extremely useful and accurate technology in ascertaining the identity of a person from his/her DNA sample, or establishing biological relationships between individuals.
A hair sample, or even bloodstains from clothes, from a scene of crime, for example, can be matched with that of a suspect, and it can, in most cases, be conclusively established whether the DNA in the sample belongs to the suspected individual. As a result, DNA technology is being increasingly relied upon in investigations of crime, identification of unidentified bodies, or in determining parentage.
But information from DNA samples can reveal not just how a person looks, or what their eye colour or skin colour is, but also more intrusive information like their allergies, or susceptibility to diseases. As a result, there is a greater risk of information from DNA analysis getting misused.
The All Assam Students' Union (AASU) on Tuesday demanded immediate withdrawal of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 claiming that it was unconstitutional as it seeks to grant Indian citizenship only on the basis of religion.
The Centre is planning to change the definition of illegal migrants through the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016. It will make changes to the existing Citizenship Act 1955, to provide citizenship to illegal migrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, who are of Buddhist, Hindu, Jain, Sikh, Parsi or Christian.
The Act does not have a provision for Muslim sects such as the Shias and Ahmediyyas. The Shia and Ahmediyya communities in Pakistan have faced persecution.
The Bill, which was introduced in the Lok Sabha on July 15, 2016, also seeks to reduce the number of continuous years of stay in India needed to obtain citizenship by naturalisation from 11 to six years.
The Bill was referred to a joint select committee in August that year, after it was discussed in the lower house of parliament.
According to existing laws, an illegal immigrant is a person who enters India without a valid passport or with forged documents or is a person who stays in the country beyond the valid visa permit.
What is Special Category Status? There is no provision of SCS in the Constitution; the Central government extends financial assistance to states that are at a comparative disadvantage against others. The concept of SCS emerged in 1969 when the Gadgil formula (that determined Central assistance to states) was approved. Some prominent guidelines for getting SCS status: Must be economically backward with poor infrastructure. The states must be located in hilly and challenging terrain. They should have low population density and significant tribal population. Should be strategically situated along the borders of neighbouring countries. What kind of assistance do SCS States receive? The SCS States used to receive block grants based on the Gadgil-Mukherjee formula, which effectively allowed for nearly 30 per cent of the Total Central Assistance to be transferred to SCS States as late as 2009-10. Following the constitution of the NITI Aayog (after the dissolution of the Planning Commission) and the recommendations of the Fourteenth Finance Commission (FFC), Central plan assistance to SCS States has been subsumed in an increased devolution of the divisible pool to all States (from 32% in the 13th FC recommendations to 42%) and do not any longer appear in plan expenditure. The FFC also recommended variables such as “forest cover” to be included in devolution, with a weightage of 7.5 in the criteria and which could benefit north-eastern States that were previously given SCS assistance. Besides, assistance to Centrally Sponsored Schemes for SCS States was given with 90% Central share and 10% State share.
Difference between BS-IV and the new BS-VI: The major difference in standards between the existing BS-IV and the new BS-VI auto fuel norms is the presence of sulphur. The newly introduced fuel is estimated to reduce the amount of sulphur released by 80%, from 50 parts per million to 10 ppm. As per the analysts, the emission of NOx (nitrogen oxides) from diesel cars is also expected to reduce by nearly 70% and 25% from cars with petrol engines.
NASA’s historic Parker Solar Probe mission will revolutionize our understanding of the sun, where changing conditions can propagate out into the solar system, affecting Earth and other worlds. Parker Solar Probe will travel through the sun’s atmosphere, closer to the surface than any spacecraft before it, facing brutal heat and radiation conditions — and ultimately providing humanity with the closest-ever observations of a star.
National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) is a statutory Board constituted in September 2003 under Section 5 of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972. The NBWL is chaired by the Hon’ble Prime Minister
What is it? NGT has been established under the National Green Tribunal Act 2010 for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources.
Ambit: The tribunal deals with matters relating to the enforcement of any legal right relating to environment and giving relief and compensation for damages to persons and property.
Members: Sanctioned strength: currently, 10 expert members and 10 judicial members (although the act allows for up to 20 of each).
Chairman: is the administrative head of the tribunal, also serves as a judicial member and is required to be a serving or retired Chief Justice of a High Court or a judge of the Supreme Court of India. Selection: Members are chosen by a selection committee (headed by a sitting judge of the Supreme Court of India) that reviews their applications and conducts interviews. The Judicial members are chosen from applicants who are serving or retired judges of High Courts.
Expert members are chosen from applicants who are either serving or retired bureaucrats not below the rank of an Additional Secretary to the Government of India (not below the rank of Principal Secretary if serving under a state government) with a minimum administrative experience of five years in dealing with environmental matters. Or, the expert members must have a doctorate in a related field.
Other facts: The Tribunal is not bound by the procedure laid down under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, but shall be guided by principles of natural justice. The Tribunal’s dedicated jurisdiction in environmental matters shall provide speedy environmental justice and help reduce the burden of litigation in the higher courts. The Tribunal is mandated to make and endeavour for disposal of applications or appeals finally within 6 months of filing of the same.
NITI Aayog has proposed creation of National Health Stack (NHS), a centralized health record for all citizens of the country, in order to streamline the health information and facilitate effective management of the same.
Need for a database: India today is witnessing significant trends in health: increasing prevalence of non-communicable diseases for instance, as well as marked demographic shifts. Climbing out-of-pocket costs is becoming difficult for most households.
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 and 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.
Way ahead: 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, the National Health Stack 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 Smart Cities mission, launched under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership in 2015, is an ambitious multi-year effort in this direction. This mission envisages to improve urban infrastructure and build world class living environment in 100 of India’s rapidly expanding cities by improving urban governance and deploying technological solutions.
The central government has pledged Rs 48,000 crore in support of these efforts, spread over five years, with the condition that an equivalent amount of funds have to be collectively raised by the urban local bodies (ULBs), the respective state governments and a consortium of private entities.
As JnNURM data from November 2012 highlights, about half of Indian municipalities carry investment grade ratings. Further, recent central government efforts to urge state governments to notify and convert 3,784 census towns into statutory towns is only expected to raise the potential of the municipal bond market in India.
The federalist Indian government can learn from the US and its highly advanced municipal bond market.
In addition to general obligation bonds, India should also examine the potential of revenue bonds. Special purpose vehicles (SPVs) are an important consideration in this regard. SPVs will operate independently, and if executed correctly, will control specific revenue streams to serve as collateral for private investment. In US, an enormous range of regional bodies, from the Bay Area Toll Authority to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, have issued revenue bonds.
Indian investors are often conservative by nature. Banking data demonstrate that they generally prefer fixed deposits, small saving schemes or gold as instruments for personal savings. Indian consumers, however, have historically shown great faith in financial instruments floated by the Indian government. Bonds issued by municipalities with good financial track records could be a strong alternative investment opportunity. For this to succeed, the credibility of the local government as the institution of governance for local matters will be central in the eyes of investors.
The ability of local individual investors to track projects should also motivate them to contribute to such instruments, which will enhance the citizen’s participation in local institutions. Municipal bonds may also be a good option for private placements with large investors such as provident funds, pension funds and insurance companies. Since these entities can better assess the risks of individual projects and concerned municipalities than individual investors, a deeper municipal bond market will likely raise the competition among ULBs to access capital.
This competition, in turn, should incentivise market discipline for meeting long-term objectives for project delivery and sustainable funding. However, regulations limit the issuance of tax-free bonds by municipal bodies to a maximum interest rate of 8 per cent per year. Since this ceiling may limit potential investors, we recommend lifting the 8 per cent cap and investigating more flexible regulations.
Although SPVs mark a step in the right direction towards clarifying project priorities and establishing a clearer business environment, additional institutional arrangements and incentives will likely be needed. For example, having a more predictable permitting process, a standardised review period and dependable sources of information to track sector-specific projects, could help build more momentum behind these investments.
SPVs should also devise a framework for reducing the cost of capital and meeting financial obligations more efficiently by addressing the current shortcomings of ULBs as reflected in their municipal credit ratings.
About Gram Swaraj Abhiyan: The campaign, undertaken under the name of “Sabka Sath, Sabka Gaon, Sabka Vikas”, is to promote social harmony, spread awareness about pro-poor initiatives of government, reach out to poor households to enroll them as also to obtain their feedback on various welfare programmes. As a special endeavour during the Gram Swaraj Abhiyan, saturation of eligible households/persons would be made under seven flagship pro-poor programmes in 21,058 identified villages. The programmes covered are Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, Saubhagya, Ujala scheme, Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana and Mission Indradhanush.
India has agreed to form a joint venture with Sri Lanka to operate the country’s loss-making Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport in Hambantota. Key facts: It is dubbed as the “world’s emptiest airport” due to a lack of flights.
The Uttarakhand high court has declared the entire animal kingdom, including birds and aquatic animals, as a legal entity having rights of a “living person”. The move aims to ensure “greater welfare” of animals.
It has been pegged as world’s smallest and lightest supersonic fighter LCA Tejas is not the first indigenous fighter to be inducted into the IAF. In April 1967, IAF had formed the first operational squadron with the indigenous HF-24 Marut fighter
Designed by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). Made under Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) programme, which began in the 1980s to replace India’s ageing MiG-21 fighters. It is equipped with satellite-aided Inertial Navigation System.
It has digital computer-based attack system and autopilot mode. It has limited reach of a little over 400-km.
It will be mainly used for close air-to-ground operations. Why in news? Tejas Squadron formally commenced operations.
Riang or Bru are one of the 21 scheduled tribes of the Indian state of Tripura. The Bru are the second most populous tribe of Tripura after the Tripuris.
The correct nomenclature for this ethnic group is actually Bru although the name Reang was accidentally incorporated by the Indian government during a census count. The Bru can be found all over the Tripura state in India.
However, they may also be found in Mizoram, Assam, Manipur and Bangladesh. Culture and religion : The marriage system is similar to other Tripuri tribes of Tripura.
There is no dowry system. Dance is an integral part of Reang life.
The Hojagiri folk dance of Riang sub tribe is rather well known all over the world. ‘Buisu’, not ‘bihu’ is the most popular festival of reang tribes.
The majority of the Reang belong to the Vaishnav school of Hinduism and claim Kshatriya status. They are polytheists and believe in multiple Gods and Goddesses.
They speak the Reang dialect of Kokborok language which is of Tibeto-Burmese origin and is locally referred to as Kau Bru. Why in news? More than 30,000 people belonging to the Bru community, who fled from Mizoram to Tripura in 1997 in the wake of inter-community violence, are set to be repatriated to Mizoram
Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) KVIC is a statutory body formed under the Khadi and Village Industries Commission Act, 1956. It is an apex organization under the aegis of Union Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). Functions of KVIC It plans, promotes, organizes and implements programmes for development of Khadi and village industries in rural areas. It creates and manages reserves of raw materials and supplying them to producers, creating common service facilities for processing of raw material and semi-finished goods. It promotes sales and marketing of Khadi Products. It also encourages and promotes research in production techniques and equipment in Khadi Industries.
National Register of Citizens. The National Register of Citizens (NRC) contains names of Indian citizens of Assam. The NRC was prepared in 1951, after the Census of 1951. It is updated periodically. However, in Assam the updation could not be carried on since 1951 due to various political tensions such as Assam Movement of 1980s, the language movement and other ethnic movements. But now it is being updated in time bound manner after Supreme Court judgment (2014) to incorporate Assam Accord of 1985 in order to tackle the issue of illegal immigration from Bangladesh. NRC is being updated as per provisions of Citizenship Act, 1955 and Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003. It will include names of person or their descendants whose name appear in NRC 1951 or any of Electoral Rolls up to midnight of 24th March 1971. The actual implementation of NRC is done by Statutory Authorities i.e. Local Registrars and District Magistrates appointed by State Government. A senior official of State Government functions as State Coordinator and coordinates with Registrar General of Citizen Registration (RGI) in regard to various activities. The draft will be published by June 30 which may leave 5 to 10 lakh people, mostly those with the ‘Bangladeshi’ tag, stateless. Assam’s neighbours fear some of those declared non-citizens may relocate to their territories to cash in on the demand for cheap labour. The sister States often blame Assam for their problems with “illegal migrants” who are ironically indispensable as skilled and unskilled workers.
The 2018 World Sanskrit Conference (WSC) is being hosted by the Department of Asian Studies at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. It is convened every three years under the auspices of the International Association of Sanskrit Studies.
Gujarat is third state in India to grant religious minority status to Jews after West Bengal and Maharashtra.
The Synagogue Judah Hyam Hall is the only place of worship in Delhi for Jews.
Constitution of India has not defined word ‘Minority’ and only refers to ‘Minorities’ but it speaks of those ‘based on religion or language’ and rights of minorities have been spelt out in Constitution in detail.
Six religious communities, viz. Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Zoroastrians (Parsis) and Jains have been notified in Gazette of India as minority communities by Union Government all over India.
First ever ‘India Tourism Mart’ will be hosted in New Delhi from 16th to 18th September by the Ministry of Tourism in partnership with the Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism and Hospitality (FAITH). India Convention Promotion Board (ICPB) shall coordinate the whole event. The objective of the event is to create an annual Global Tourism Mart for India in line with major international travel marts being held in countries across the world. ITM will be the best platform for the States to showcase their products to international buyers, opinion makers and bloggers and attract more tourists to their respective states. The Mart will provide a platform for all stakeholders in the tourism and hospitality industries to interact and transact business
‘Institutions of Eminence’ The institutions selected are: Public Sector: (i) Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, Karnataka; (ii) Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, Maharashtra; and (iii) Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi. Private Sector: (i) Jio Institute (Reliance Foundation), Pune under Green Field Category; (ii) Birla Institute of Technology & Sciences, Pilani, Rajasthan; and (iii) Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Manipal, Karnataka. Implications of the decision: Each ‘Public Institution’ selected as ‘Institution of Eminence’ will get financial assistance up to Rs. 1000 Crore over a period of five years. These Institutions shall be provided with greater autonomy to admit foreign students up to 30% of admitted students; to recruit foreign faculty upto 25% of faculty strength; to offer online courses upto 20% of its programmes. They will also be allowed to enter into academic collaboration with top 500 in the world ranking Institutions without permission of UGC; free to fix and charge fees from foreign students without restriction; complete flexibility in fixing of curriculum and syllabus, among others. At the same time, they will get more opportunity to scale up their operations with more skills and quality improvement so that they become World Class Institutions in the field of education.