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Indian Policy Current affairs 2021


Following the current events and news in the area of geography is very very important for the general studies paper in the UPSC exam. In recent times questions are set on only those topics that have made news. Regular study of Indian Policy from NCERT books or otherwise is no longer required. The idea is to follow the current affairs news related to Indian Policy and understand the Indian Policy behind those issues. This is true for all levels of teh IAS exam - prelims, mains and also the interview.

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Indian Policy Current Affairs - October 2022

Draft Indian Telecommunications Bill, 2022: Department of Telecommunications (DoT) recently unveiled the Draft Indian Telecommunications Bill, 2022.

  • It has been presented for feedback from stakeholders by October 20.

Key Points:

  • The government seeks to replace the existing legal framework governing telecommunications in India through this new draft Bill introduced by DoT.
  • This draft Bill goal is to amend and consolidate the existing laws governing the creation, growth, and management of India's telecom networks, infrastructure, and services.
  • The government through the new Bill seeks to merges the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, the Wireless Telegraphy Act, 1933 and the Telegraph Wires (Unlawful Possession) Act, 1950.
  • The draft bill proposes to include over-the-top (OTT) communication services like WhatsApp, Telegram and Signal satellite-based communication services, internet and broadband services, in-flight and maritime connectivity services etc., under the definition of telecommunication services.
  • This implies that OTT communication services will be subject to the regulations that telecom operators must go by, which require operators to pay expensive licence and spectrum expenses.
  • Currently, OTT players are providing free services due to the lack of this provision.
  • The draft bill also amends the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Act to dilute its function to being just recommendatory body.
  • Currently, the DoT is mandated to seek TRAI’s recommendation before issuing a license to a service provider.
  • The Bill also repeals the legal requirement that TRAI ask the government for the data or documents it needs to make this recommendation.
  • The draft bill also suggests that in cases of bankruptcy or insolvency, the Central Government may take ownership of the spectrum allocated to a telecom business.
  • Currently, there are no rules stating whether the central government owns the spectrum controlled by a defaulting operator or if the banks have the right to seize it.
  • Under extraordinary circumstances, such as financial stress, consumer interest, maintaining competition, etc., the draft bill gives the Central Government the authority to defer, convert into equity, write off, or award relief to any licensee.
  • In times of war or national security issues, the government can take over the control and management of, or suspend the operation of, or entrust any authority of the Government to manage any or all of any telecommunication services. The government can also suspend any communication.
  • It also proposes to replace the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) with the Telecommunication Development Fund (TDF).

Note: The USOF is a fund that is created by adding a 5% Universal Service Levy to the adjusted gross revenue of all telecom fund operators.

This fund has been used for providing rural connectivity.

  • The objective of the TDF seeks to expand the scope of USOF to include undeserved urban regions, research and development, skill development etc.

Purpose of this New Draft Bill:

 

  • The Centre believes that India needs a legal system that is in line with the realities of the twenty-first century, as stated in the explanatory note to the bill that is being called the Indian Telecommunication Bill, 2022.
  • The existing regulatory framework for the telecommunication sector is based on the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885.
  • Since the invention of the "telegraph," telecommunications have changed dramatically in terms of their purpose, their methods, and their technologies. The world has stopped using "telegraph" since 2013.
  • The world is now in the era of new technologies such as 4G and 5G, the Internet of Things, Industry 4.0, M2M Communications, and Mobile Edge Computing.
  • India is the world's second-largest telecommunication ecosystem with 117 crore subscribers,
  • The telecommunication sector employs more than 4 million people and contributes about 8 per cent of the country's GDP.
  • Therefore, the Ministry of Communications initiated a public consultative process to develop a modern and future-ready legal framework.

In July 2022, a Consultation Paper on 'Need for a new legal framework governing Telecommunication in India' was published and comments were invited.

Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022: The Home Affairs Ministry, on September 19, 2022, notified the rules governing the implementation of the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act, 2022.

Key Points:

  • The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act, 2022 repeals the Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920, whose authority was restricted to the orderly collection of fingerprints, footprints, and photographs of certain categories of arrested and non-convicted individuals as well as the fingerprints, footprints, and photographs of the convicted.
  • The act gives access to acquire the information containing the record of finger impressions, footprint impressions, iris, physical, biological samples, palm print impressions, photographs including signatures, or any other examinations mentioned in section 53 or section 53A of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973(2 of 1974).

Rulings of the Criminal Identification Act:

  • The new law enables the police or a prison official of the Central, state, or Union territory administration to access the information containing palm, finger, or footprint impressions and their behavioral attributes of convicts and accused.
  • Also, the act says that the authorization should have prior written approval of a police officer ranked as Superintendent of Police or above.
  • Also, the measurements of a person charged with violation of any prohibitory order issued under section 144 or 145 or arrested under section 151 of Criminal Procedure,1973 shall not be taken unless they are associated with a serious offence or ordered by a court.
  • The act also mentions that the measurements of a person shall not be taken unless such person has been ordered to give security for his excellent behavior or maintain peace under section 117 of the code.

Note: Measurements which include finger-impressions, palm-print, foot-print, photographs, iris and retina scan, physical, biological samples and their analysis, behavioural attributes including signatures, handwriting or any other examination are mentioned in Section 53 and Section 53A of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1974.

  • The regulations permit the NCRB to periodically store and preserve the measurements in accordance with the Standard Operating Procedure which include the types of equipment or devices used, method of handling, and more in a secured and encrypted manner.
  • Any action of unauthorized access, distribution, or sharing of collected data under the Act shall be punishable according to the provisions of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, and the Information Technology Act 2000.
  • The rules say that the record of measurements “shall be kept and preserved in a secure and encrypted format as specified in the SOPs”.
  • The SOPs will also explain the process of destruction of data.

Criminal Identification Act:

  • The Criminal Identification Act provides legal sanctions to the police to take physical and biological samples of convicts and those accused of crimes.
  • The act came into force after being passed by the Parliament in April 2022.
  • The criminal Identification Act replaces the Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920, a colonial-era law and gives power to police officers to take measurements of people convicted, arrested, or facing trials in criminal cases.

About NCRB:

  • The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) comes under the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • In accordance with the Indian Penal Code and Special and Local Laws, it is in charge of collecting and analysing crime statistics.
  • It acts as the repository of information on crime and criminals that enables investigators to link crimes to the right perpetrators.

PLI Scheme for Solar Cells: The Union cabinet approved the second tranche of the Performance Linked incentive (PLI) scheme on ‘National programme on High Efficiency Solar PV Modules’for achieving manufacturing capacity of Giga Watt (GW) scale in High Efficiency Solar PV Modules.

  • The first tranche was approved in August 2021, with an outlay of Rs 4,500 crore of the PLI scheme.

Key Points:

  • Under PLI Scheme (Tranche II) of High Efficiency Solar PV Modules has been approved with an outlay of 19,500 crore rupees.
  • The National Programme on High Efficiency Solar PV Modules aims to build an ecosystem for manufacturing of high efficiency solar PV modules, hence reducing reliance on imports in the renewable energy sector.
  • It will strengthen the Aatmanirbhar Bharat initiative and generate employment.
  • India's goal is to build an ecosystem for manufacturing of high efficiency solar PV modules.
  • Solar PV manufacturers will be selected through transparent selection process.
  • It will be disbursed for five years after commissioning of solar PV manufacturing plants and sales of high efficiency solar PV modules from the domestic market will be incentivised.

Expected outcomes:

  • About 65 thousand Mega Watt per annum manufacturing capacity of fully and partially integrated solar PV modules is expected to be installed.
  • The scheme seeks to bring direct investment of around 94 thousand crore rupees
  • It will generate direct employment for around 2 lakh persons and indirect jobs to around eight lakh persons.
  • It is expected to reduce import substitution of about Rs 1.37 lakh crore.
  • In order to produce Solar PV Modules with higher efficiencies, it will encourage research and development.
  • It will help in the creation of manufacturing capacity for balance of materials like EVA, solar glass, backsheet, etc.

Additional Info:

PLI schemes:

As per the Union Budget 2021-22, Production Linked Incentive (PLI) schemes for 13 important industries will be funded with an investment of Rs 1.97 lakh crore over a five-year period beginning in FY 2021-22,

These sectors are:

  1. Mobile manufacturing and specified electronic components (Large scale electronics manufacturing)
  2. Critical key starting materials/drug intermediaries & active pharmaceutical ingredients
  3. Manufacturing of medical devices
  4. Automobiles and auto components
  5. Pharmaceuticals
  6. Specialty steel
  7. Telecom and networking products
  8. Electronic/technology products
  9. White goods (ACs and LEDs)
  10. Food products
  11. Textile products: man-made fibre (MMF) segment and technical textiles
  12. High efficiency solar PV modules
  13. Advanced Chemistry Cell (ACC) battery.

In September 2021, the Central government approved a PLI scheme for drones and drone components with an allocation of Rs 120 crore spread over three financial years.

Significance of PLI Scheme:

  • The goals of PLI initiatives are to increase efficiency, eliminate sectoral disabilities, create economies of scale and make Indian manufacturing competitive on a worldwide basis.
  • It is designed to create a complete component ecosystem in India and make India an integral part of the global supply chains.
  • The schemes are anticipated to attract global investments, generate large scale employment opportunities and boost exports substantially.

 

Programme for Development of Semiconductors & Display Manufacturing Ecosystem: The Union Cabinet recently approved modifications in “Programme for Development of Semiconductors & Display Manufacturing Ecosystem".

Key Points:

  • Under modified programme, a uniform fiscal support of 50 per cent of Project Cost shall be provided across all technology nodes for setting up of Semiconductor Fabs or semicondutor fabrication plant.
  • Given the niche technology and nature of compound semiconductors and advanced packaging, the modified programme shall also fiscal support of 50% of Capital Expenditure in pari-passu mode for setting up of compound semiconductors / silicon photonics / sensors / Discrete semiconductors fabs and ATMP/OSAT.
  • Earlier there were an incentive in range of 30 to 50 per cent are provided for three schemes related to semiconductor, display and compound semiconductor and packaging schemes.
  • But now, under the modified program and uniform incentive of 50 per cent will be applied to these three schemes.

Indian Policy Current Affairs - September 2022

National Lists of Essential Medicines (NLEM) 2022: Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Dr Mansukh Mandaviya, launched National Lists of Essential Medicines (NLEM) 2022.

Key Points:

  • 34 new medicines have been added and 26 old ones from the previous list have been dropped.
  • A total of 384 medicines feature on NLEM 2022 under 27 therapeutic categories.
  • This revised list has come out after a gap of seven years.
  • Revision of NLEM 2022 has been done after constant consultation with stakeholders spanning from academia, industrialists and public policy experts etc., and crucial documents like WHO EML 2021.
  • Its drafting required extensive participation from more than 350 specialists from all over the nation and more than 140 consultation meetings.
  • The list includes anti-infectives medicines to treat diabetes such as insulin, HIV, tuberculosis, cancer, contraceptives, hormonal medicines and anesthetics.
  • Its primary aim is to promote rational use of medicines considering three important aspects — cost, safety and efficacy.

What is NLEM?

  • National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) are those that satisfy the priority healthcare needs, based on:
  • Efficacy,
  • Safety,
  • Quality and
  • The total cost of treatment.
  • In NLEM, the medicines are categorized based on level of healthcare system as-
  1. P- Primary.
  2. S- Secondary.
  3. T- Tertiary.
  • In India, NELM is framed on the lines of the Essential Medicines List (EML) released by the WHO (World Health Organzation).
  • The NLEM is released by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
  • The first NELM of India was prepared and released the first National List of Essential Medicines of India in 1996 consisting of 279 medicines.
  • This list was subsequently revised in 2003, 2011, 2015 and 2022.
  • Drugs listed under NLEM is also known as scheduled drugs.
  • Drugs listed under NLEM will be cheaper because the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) caps medicine prices and changes only based on wholesale price index-based inflation.
  • The department of pharmaceuticals under the ministry of chemicals and fertilizers typically adds newly issued NLEM to the Drug Price Control Order after which the NPPA regulates the price.

Criteria for a Medicine to be Included in NLEM:

  • A significant criterion for inclusion in NLEM is based on the following:
  • The medicine shall be useful in diseases that is a public health problem in India.
  • The medicine shall be licensed/ approved by the Drugs Controller General India (DCGI).
  • It shall have proven efficacy and safety profile based on scientific evidence.
  • It should be comparatively cost effective and aligned with the current treatment guidelines.
  • The medicine shall be recommended under National Health Programs of India.
  • When more than one medicine are available from the same therapeutic class, one prototype/ medically best suited medicine of that class to be included.
  • The price of total treatment shall be considered while including the drug in NLEM   and not the unit price of a medicine.
  • The single-dose medicines are considered for inclusion in NLEM. The Fixed Dose Combinations (FDCs) are usually not included. The FDCs are only included if they have a proven advantage concerning the therapeutic effect.
  • In case of vaccines, it is as and when it is included in Universal Immunization Programme.

The criteria for deletion from NLEM are based on:

  1. The medicine has been banned in India.
  2. If there are reports of concerns on the safety profile
  3. If medicine with better efficacy or favourable safety profile and better cost-effectiveness is now available
  4. The disease burden for which medicine is indicated is no longer a national health concern
  5. In case of antimicrobials, if the resistance pattern has rendered an antimicrobial ineffective

What is an Essential Medicine List (EML)?

  • According to the WHO, Essential Medicine List (EML) is a list of those medicines that satisfy the priority health care needs of the population.
  • Disease prevalence, medication effectiveness, safety, and comparative cost-effectiveness are considered when compiling the list.
  • Such medications should be accessible in a way that a person or a group of people can afford them.
  • The WHO EML is updated every two years by the Expert Committee on Selection and Use of Essential Medicines.

History:

  • Tanzania, in 1970, was the world’s first country to compose its EML.
  • The World Health Assembly (WHA) then in 1975, requested WHO to assist member states in selecting and procuring essential medicines, assuring good quality at a reasonable cost.
  • Eventually, the first WHO model list of essential medicines was published in the year 1977 which contained 186 medicines.
  • It stated that essential medicines were “of utmost importance, basic, indispensable and necessary for the health and needs of the population” and the criteria for selection were based on efficacy, safety, quality and total cost.

About National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA):

  • The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) is a government regulatory agency that controls the prices of pharmaceutical drugs in India.
  • NPPA was constituted vide Government of India (GoI) Resolution dated 29th August 1997 as an attached office of the Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP), Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers as an independent Regulator for pricing of drugs and to ensure availability and accessibility of medicines at affordable prices under the Drugs (Prices Control) Order, 1995-2013.

Its mandate is:

  • To implement and enforce the provisions of the DPCO in accordance with the powers delegated to it.
  • To deal with all legal matters arising out of the decisions of the NPPA.
  • To monitor the availability of drugs, identify shortages and to take remedial step to collect and maintain data on production, exports and imports, market share of individual companies, profitability of companies etc., for bulk drugs and formulations and undertake and/ or sponsor relevant studies in respect of pricing of drugs/ pharmaceuticals.

National Logistics Policy: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 17 September 2022 unveiled the National Logistics Policy in Vigyan Bhavan in Delhi.

Key Points:

  • The National Logistics Policy seeks to address challenges facing the transport sector and bring down the logistics cost of businesses from 13-14 per cent to a single digit.
  • The policy aims to expedite the last-mile delivery, helping businesses to bring down the time & cost of transportation.
  • It will also prevent damage to agricultural products by providing faster transportation.
  • The reduced logistics cost and increased efficiencies will not only energise the economy across sectors in multiple ways but will also take India many steps closer to emerging as a global manufacturing powerhouse.
  • Its focus areas are Unified Logistics Interface Platform (ULIP), Ease of Logistics (ELOG), Integration of Digital System (IDS) and System Improvement Group (SIG).
  • The ULIP is a system that aims to monitor smooth cargo movement.
  • A new digital platform - Ease of Logistics Services (ELOG) - has also been started to simplify procedures and achieve ease of doing business.
  • The IDS will integrate 30 different systems of seven different departments, such as customs, aviation, road transport, railways, international trade and commerce ministries into a single platform, relieving exporters of a number of extremely time-consuming and burdensome processes.
  • The SIG would keep a regular eye on all logistics-related projects and ensure the removal of hurdles faced in the sector.
  • An empowered group of secretaries (EGoS), constituted under the PM Gati Shakti, would monitor and review the implementation of the policy.
  • Besides improving ease of doing business and ease of living, the National Logistics Policy will work in tandem with PM Gati Shakti National Master Plan to usher in an unprecedented era of 'ease of moving' in the country, ensuring speedier and seamless movement of cargo and people across various modes of transport.

What is National Logistics Policy?

  • Deepak Sood, the Assocham General Secretary described the National Logistics Policy as a major structural transformative initiative which will substantially reduce transaction costs across the entire supply chain.
  • The policy will facilitate India being embedded across global value chains, as we move ahead on the path towards Bharat@100.

Background:

  • The Central government has been working on the National Logistics Policy for three years.
  • The commerce ministry released a draft logistics policy for consultation in 2019, but it was delayed due to Covid-19 pandemic.
  • The National Logistics Policy was once again announced by finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman in the Budget for 2022-23.

India’s Logistic Sector:

  • India’s logistics sector employs over 22 million people.
  • The sector is complex, as it is governed by more than 20 government agencies, 40 partner government agencies, 37 export promotion councils, 500 certifications etc.
  • India has a logistics cost to GDP ratio of 16%, which is significantly higher than China's 10%, the US and EU's 8%, and Europe's 4%.
  • According to the recent World Bank statistics, India is currently rated 44th in terms of logistics costs.

Medical Education Pursuance Abroad: The Government of India (GoI) told the Supreme Court that the law does not allow undergraduate medical students, who fled the “war-like situation” in Ukraine, to be accommodated in Indian medical colleges.

  • The affidavit from the Health Ministry was in response to petitions filed by students, in their first to fourth year of undergraduate medical studies in Ukraine, seeking transfer to colleges in India to continue their semesters here.

About the Law:

  • As far as such students are concerned, there are no provisions either under the Indian Medical Council Act of 1956 or the National Medical Commission Act 2019 as well as the Regulations to accommodate or transfer medical students from any foreign medical institutes/colleges to Indian medical colleges.
  • Till now, no permission has been given by the National Medical Commission to transfer or accommodate any foreign medical students in any Indian medical institute/university.

Why foreign undergraduates are not permitted?

  • Students from international universities are not permitted to move to India under the laws currently in effect.
  • The public notice cannot be utilized to gain access to Indian universities that offer undergraduate programmes through a back door.
  • The students had left for foreign universities for two reasons -
  • Poor performance on the National Eligibility Cumulation Entrance Test (NEET) and
  • The cost of medical school abroad
  • Additionally, if these students were accepted into Indian colleges, they would once more run into problem of affordability.

Job Policy for Transgenders: The Supreme Court of India recently gave the government three months to take the lead and devise a policy framework so that reasonable accommodation can be provided to transgender persons in all establishments covered by the provisions of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019, particularly in the civil aviation industry.

Key Points:

  • The order of the apex court came on a plea filed by a transgender woman, Shanavi Ponnuswamy from Thoothukudi in Tamil Nadu, who alleged that she was refused a cabin crew position owing to her gender identity.
  • She alleged that the carrier did not have the option for the third sex, so she applied as a female.
  • However, the counsel appearing of the airline contended that Ponnuswamy was rejected not because she is a transgender woman, but because she was unable to score the minimum qualifying marks in the Scheduled Caste category.

What is the Supreme Court order on the petition?

  • The Supreme Court said the petitioner’s case raised wider issues about the formulation of government policy to ensure the guarantee of non-discrimination against transgender people.
  • The apex Court observed that the government has to comply with the enabling provisions of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act of 2019 in “letter and spirit”.
  • The court detailed specific provisions of the Act which mandated that no person or establishment, whether government or private, should discriminate against a transgender person in matters of employment, including recruitment or promotion or in any other related areas.
  • The court ordered the Department of Personnel and Training and the Social Justice Ministry to collaborate with the National Council for Transgender Persons, a body constituted under the Act, to consult stakeholders and prepare a “considered” policy for the community’s welfare and rights in the next three months.

Who is a transgender?

  • Transgender Persons Act 2019 defines transgender as a person whose gender does not match with the gender assigned to that person at birth.
  • Transgenders includes trans-person with intersex variations, gender-queer and person having such socio-cultural identities as hijra, kinnar, aaravani and jogta.

Present status of employment for Transgender persons:

  • Currently, there is no constitutional provision for the transgender to have reservation in the public employment.
  • The transgender community has had relatively few work opportunities available
  • The Union government, under the OBC category for the employment, is planning to extend the reservations for the transgender community.
  • Earlier in 2014, the Supreme Court directed the Central government to treat transgender people as members of the socially and educationally backward classes (OBC) and to extend all benefits of reservation in government jobs in the landmark judgement of National Legal Services Authority v. Union of India 2014.
  • In 2019, Union Government passed the law the transgender persons (protection of rights) act 2019.
  • But law is silent on the extension of OBC status as well as on providing employment to transgender.

Various initiatives for transgender people:

Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019:

  • The bill approved by Parliament aims to eliminate discrimination against transgender persons in the areas of access to healthcare, employment, and education in addition to recognising the right to one's own self-perceived gender identity.

Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Rules, 2020:

  • The government drafted the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Rules, 2020 to give effect to the 2019 Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act's provisions.

The National Council for Transgender Persons:

  • The National Council for Transgender Persons has been established in accordance with the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act of 2019.
  • It has been established to provide advice to the Central Government on the formulation and assessment of policies, programmes, laws, and projects for the welfare of the transgender community.

National Portal for Transgender Persons:

  • A webpage has been created by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment to help members of the transgender community apply for a certificate and identity card electronically from any location in the nation.
  • By using the Portal, they may monitor the status of their application and ensure transparency in the application process.

Garima Greh:

  • The main objective of Garima Greh initiative is to give transgender people a place to live with basic necessities like food, shelter, medical care, and recreational activities.
  • In addition, it will help people in the community enhance their skills and capacities, enabling them to live lives of respect and dignity.

Challenges faced by transgender:

  • Ostracism and Discrimination
  • Identity crisis
  • Lack of legal protection
  • Poverty
  • Unemployment
  • Denial of Basic Civil Rights
  • Denial of access to Healthcare facility
  • Lack of public amenities
  • Social Stigma

Rules for issue of IDP across India Amended: Transport and Highways  (MoRTH) recently issued a notification August 26, 2022 for better facilitation of citizens in the issue of International Driving Permit (IDP) across the country.

Key Points:

  • MoRTH has standardised the process for issuance of international driving permit across the country in adherence to Convention on International Road Traffic of 1949.
  • Currently, the format, size, pattern, colour etc. of IDP being issued differ across states in India.
  • Being a signatory to Convention on International Road Traffic of 1949 (Geneva Convention), India is required to issue IDP as provided under this Convention, for the acceptance of the same on reciprocal basis with other countries.
  • Due to this, many citizens face difficulties with their respective IDPs in foreign countries.
  • Now, through this amendment, the format, size, colour etc. for IDP has been standardized for issuance across India, and in accordance with the Geneva Convention.
  • Provision for QR code to link international driving permit (IDP) with the driving licence has also been made.
  • A comparison of vehicle categories across various Conventions and Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989 has also been added for facilitation of regulatory authorities.
  • Helpline numbers and email have also been provided.

International Driving Permits:

  • International driving permits is accepted in over 150 countries.
  • They are issued from various zonal offices.
  • The validity of this permit is for one year.
  • The applicants are required to get the licence from the country visiting within one-year period.

UGC ‘e-Samadhan’ portal: The University Grants Commission (UGC) has recently launched an online portal named ‘e-Samadhan’ for redressal of grievances.

Key Highlights:

  • UGC will now monitor and address all grievances of students and teaching/non-teaching staff through a centralized portal called ‘e-Samadhan’.
  • The commission has merged its existing portals and helplines except for the anti-ragging helpline and developed the new portal.
  • This platform will ensure transparency, prevents unfair practices in Higher Education Institutions and provides a time-bound mechanism for redressal of grievances.

Key Points:

  • Students taking admission in any university or facing any kind of problem after admission will be able to find solutions to their problems through this portal.
  • They will now be able to directly report their problems to the UGC for any problem in Central and State Universities, their affiliated colleges and other government and private sector higher education institutions across the country through this portal.
  • This will benefit all stakeholders in the higher education sector which includes 1043 Universities, 42343 Colleges, 3.85 Crore Students and 15.03 Lacs Teachers ( AISHE 2019-20).
  • Through this portal, students and employees can register any grievance of theirs anytime within 24 hours.
  • In addition, there will also be an option to register the problems by the stakeholders on the UGC toll free number 1800-111-656.

University Grants Commission (UGC):

  • University Grants Commission (UGC) is a statutory body established by UGC Act 1956.
  • It works under Ministry of Education to coordinate, determine and maintain standards of higher education.
  • It gives recognition to universities in India, and disburse funds for recognized universities and colleges.
  • It is headquartered New Delhi.
  •  It has six regional centres in Bhopal, Pune, Kolkata, Guwahati, Hyderabad and Bangalore.
  • The current Chairman of UGS is Mamidala Jagadesh Kumar.

Additional safety requirements in battery standards: The EV makers recently welcomed the amended battery safety norms notified by the government, as consumers` fear grows over battery explosions and fire incidents, especially in the EV two-wheelers.

Key Highlights:

  • The draft notification was issued after the Ministry formed an expert committee under the chairmanship of Tata Narasimha Rao (Director, ARC, Hyderabad) to recommend additional safety requirements under CMV Rules as several battery fires rocked the nation this year.
  • In April, 2022, cases of fire in electric two-wheelers of manufacturers such as Ola Electric, Okinawa Autotech and PureEV were reported.
  • These new safety standards will come into effect from 1 October 2022.
  • The Ministry has also sought comments and suggestions from all stakeholders within a period of thirty days.

Key Points:

  • Based on the recommendations of an expert committee report, the Ministry issued amendments to AIS 156-specific requirements for motor vehicles of L category (motor vehicles with less than four wheels and a quadricycle) with electric powertrain.
  • It also issued amendment to AIS 038-specific requirements for Electric Power Train of motor vehicles of M category (motor vehicle with at least four wheels used for carrying passengers) and N category (motor vehicle with at least four wheels used for carrying goods which may also carry persons in addition to the goods).
  • The newly-issued guidelines by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highway include amendments to safety requirements related to battery cells, on-board charger, design of battery pack, and thermal propagation due to internal cell short-circuit leading to fire.

Mandatory to include ‘Safety Fuse’:

  • In this new amendment it has been made mandatory to include ‘Safety Fuse’.
  • This will blow the battery off the powertrain and immediately disconnect it in case of excessive heat generation or high current outflow.

EVs will now also have four additional sensors:

  • These sensors will help to quickly identify the problem if there is a problem with the battery system.
  • These sensors will show an error on the console of the vehicle which will alert the driver to take necessary corrective or remedial measures.

Audio-visual alerts for drivers:

  • The EVs will have to be equipped with audio-visual alerts for early detection of thermal events or gases in case of thermal runaway of the cell.

Distance between two battery cells is compulsory:

  • It is also said to increase the distance between two battery cells used in electric vehicle batteries.
  • It is recommended by the panel to help release heat in the event of thermal runaway in rechargeable energy storage systems (RESS) and to help detach cells.

Auto cut-off feature for charger:

  • Electric vehicle chargers will be redesigned to include a charge voltage cut-off as well as a time-based charge cut-off function.
  • This will help prevent overcharging the RES.

Export Policy for Wheat or Meslin Flour: The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), chaired by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi recently approved the proposal for amendment of policy of exemption for Wheat or Meslin Flour (HS Code 1101) from export restrictions/ ban.

Key Points:

  • The decision will now make it possible to impose export restrictions on wheat flour.
  • This in turn will prevent the price of wheat flour from rising and will also ensure the food security of the most vulnerable members of society.
  • A notification to this effect will be issued by the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT).

Background:

  • Russia & Ukraine are the major exporters of wheat accounting for around 1/4th of the global wheat trade.
  • The war between them led to the global wheat supply chain disruptions increasing demand of Indian wheat.
  • As a result, the price of wheat in domestic market showed an increase.
  • In order to ensure food security of 1.4 billion people of the country, the decision was taken to put a prohibition on export of wheat in May 2022.
  • However, due to prohibition on export of wheat (which was done to put a check on increasing prices in domestic market and to ensure food security in the country), the demand for wheat flour has increased in foreign markets and it’ s exports from India have registered a growth of 200% during April-July 2022 compared to the corresponding period in 2021.
  • The increased demand for wheat flour in international market led to significant price rise of wheat flour in the domestic market.
  • Earlier, there was a policy not to prohibit or put any restrictions on the export of Wheat flour.
  • Therefore, a partial modification of the policy was required by withdrawing the exemption from ban/ restrictions on export for Wheat Flour in order to ensure food security and put a check on mounting prices of Wheat flour in the country.

One Nation, One Fertiliser Scheme: The Union Government recently ordered the implementation of ‘One Nation, One Fertiliser’ (ONOF)scheme.

Key Points:

  • The new scheme aims to bring about uniformity in fertiliser brands across the country under the single brand name of ‘Bharat’.
  • According to a notification issued by the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers dated 24 August, this scheme is going to be implemented in the country from 2nd October 2022.
  • Along with this, the fertiliser subsidy scheme has also been officially renamed the Pradhan Mantri Bharitya Janurvarak Pariyojna (PMBJP).
  • It will be spearheaded by the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers.

PMBJP - Key Provisions:

  • The scheme mandates all manufacturers and businesses to sell fertiliser products under a single brand name of ‘Bharat’.
  • After the implementation of this scheme, all fertiliser bags, whether containing urea or di-ammonium phosphate (DAP) or MOP or NPK will carry Bharat brand name i.e., ‘Bharat Urea’, ‘Bharat DAP’, ‘Bharat MOP’ and ‘Bharat NPK’ irrespective of the company that manufacturers it, whether in the public or the private sector.
  • All bags or packaging material used for fertilisers should carry “a logo indicating Fertiliser subsidy scheme namely Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janurvarak Pariyojana (PMBJP), in two-thirds space.
  • However, companies are allowed to display their name, brand and logo and other relevant product information in a very small portion of the total packaging.
  • Fertilizer manufacturing companies will not be allowed to buy bags of old design from 15th September 2022
  • They have been given time until December 12 to exhaust all of their previous bag designs from the market.

Aim of PMBJP:

  • The decision to control the movement of Fertilisers across the country has been ordered under the Fertiliser (Movement) Control Order, 1973.
  • It means that the scheme's goal is aimed at controlling black advertising by fertiliser companies and bring transparency in the system.

Benefits:

  • The government claims that a single brand name will lower freight costs  by preventing criss-cross movement of fertilizers.
  • It has frequently been observed that a fertiliser business with its headquarters in Uttar Pradesh sells its goods in Maharashtra. Due to which, the demand for these brands rises in that region without any apparent cause, and when there is a shortage, people are reluctant to use another brand of fertiliser, even if they are comparable.
  • As a result, there is lack of fertilisers in those areas and local fertiliser makers are impacted.
  • Furthermore, the government gives huge subsidy on fertilizer products which is more than the maximum retail price, so the subsidy scheme on sacks will also be mentioned under this scheme which will prove beneficial to the consumers.

Criticism:

  • This decision by the central government has come under heavy political criticism from opposition parties.

According to them -

  • Years of investment in creating a brand and farmer loyalty will also be at risk.
  • The move could harm the fertiliser companies as brands apart from being product differentiator also helps in building an image of the firm while going into the farmers’ fields.
  • The scheme will limit the fertiliser companies to mere contract manufacturers and importers for the government.
  • These companies undertake several field-level workshops and marketing activities with farmers to promote their products and build trust with the end-users.
  • But with this move, there will be no real incentive to improve production techniques.

Battery Waste Management Rules, 2022: Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) recently published the Battery Waste Management Rules, 2022.

Key Highlights:

  • The notification of these rules is a transformative step in implementing Prime Minister Narendra Modi's announcement to promote Circular Economy in full earnest during his address to the nation on Independence Day on August 15, 2021.
  • New rules will replace Batteries (Management and Handling) Rules, 2001, to ensure environmentally sound management of waste batteries.
  • The new rules will cover all types of batteries including -
  1. Electric Vehicle batteries,
  2. Portable batteries,
  3. Automotive batteries and
  4. Industrial batteries.

Key Points of new Battery Waste Management Rules:

EPR - Extended Producer Responsibility:

  • The new rules function based on the concept of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)where the producers as well as importers of batteries are responsible collection, recycling, and reuse of battery waste materials in the new production process.

Centralized EPR Portal:

  • Under the new rules, a new centralized online portal will be launched by the government.
  • This mechanism and centralized online portal will allow producers and recycling agencies or refurbishing agencies to exchange EPR certificates for complete transparency in the completion of the recycling cycle.

Promote Entrepreneurship:

  • The rules promote setting up of new industries and entrepreneurship in collection and recycling and refurbishment of waste batteries.

Battery Recycling Standards:

  • The guidelines or norms for recycling used batteries are also stated in the new regulations.
  • According to the guidelines a mandatory minimum percentage of material recovery from used batteries is required.
  • This will lead to new and innovative technological developments in the battery recycling business.

Use of Recycled Materials in Production Process:

  • The new rules mandate that producers have to use a minimum defined percentage of recycled materials, recovered from old waste batteries in the production cycle for new ones.
  • This in turn will reduce the dependency on new raw materials and save natural resources.

Penalty for Pollution:

  • On the principle of Polluter Pays Principle, environmental compensation penalty will be imposed for non-fulfilment of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) targets, responsibilities and obligations set out in the rules.

Utilization of funds collected as penalty:

  • The funds collected as penalty for environmental violations shall be utilised in collection and refurbishing or recycling of uncollected and non-recycled waste batteries.

Additional Info:

What is Battery recycling?

Battery recycling is a recycling activity that aims to reduce the number of batteries being disposed as municipal solid waste.

About Battery Waste:

  • There has been a massive increase in the demand for batteries, as well as an evolution and history of the battery.
  • The fact that billions of people carry electronics that use electricity is the cause of this demand.
  • These electronics include cell phones, laptops, and digital cameras.
  • Toys and gadgets are powered by batteries which convert chemical energy into electrical energy.
  • The anode and cathode, which are located on opposing ends of a battery, create an electrical circuit that supplies power to an electronic device.
  • Batteries should be safely disposed of once this electrical circuit is depleted, but millions of batteries are tossed into the trash by consumers every year.
  • These batteries can have dire effects on the environment as each battery contains hazardous, toxic and corrosive materials like mercury, cadmium, lithium, and lead as well as other dangerous materials that can give batteries a variety of hazardous properties.

Harmful Effects of improper battery disposal:

Pollution:

  • Batteries contain a number of heavy metals and toxic chemicals and disposing of them by the same process as regular household waste has raised concerns over soil contamination and water pollution.
  • When depleted batteries are tossed into the trash, they end up in landfills where they decay and leak.
  • Battery corrosion releases chemicals that contaminate groundwater and surface water as well as soil.
  • When contaminated by battery chemicals, our ecosystems, which support thousands of aquatic plants and animals, are put at risk.
  • Humans too are put at risk as we could be ingesting dangerous metals while drinking from tap water faucets.

Landfill fires:

  • Lithium batteries can cause landfill fires that can smoulder for many years.
  • As a result, the toxic chemicals released into the air negatively affect our breathing and contribute to global warming.
  • The vaporized form of improperly exposed batteries also gets trapped in the atmosphere and pollutes lakes and streams in the form of rain.

Health hazards:

  • Exposing the environment to lead and strong corrosive acids found in batteries can cause burns and dangers to our eyes and skin.
  • Toxic metals like cadmium and nickel found in batteries are known human carcinogens.
  • Another toxic metal that can be found in batteries is lead, which has been linked to severe medical issues like developmental & neurological damage and congenital disabilities.

What other initiative has been taken by the Government of India regarding Batteries?

  • NITI Aayog, the think tank of the Government of India (GoI) recently released the Draft Battery Swapping Policy with an aim to catalyse the large-scale adoption of Electric Vehicle (EVs) by improving the efficient and effective use of scarce resources (viz. public funds, land, and raw materials for advanced cell batteries) for the delivery of customer centric services.
  • It is an alternative that involves exchanging discharged batteries for charged ones.
  • This Policy would not only support the vision by promoting the adoption of battery swapping technology but will also help in promoting better lifecycle management of batteries, including maximising the use of batteries during their usable lifetime, and end-of-life battery recycling.

Indian Policy Current Affairs - August 2022

NAMASTE: NAMASTE (National Action for Mechanised Sanitation Ecosystem) is a Central Sector Scheme of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MoSJE) as a joint initiative of the MoSJE and the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA).

Key highlights:

  • The Scheme has been approved with an outlay of Rs. 360 crore for 4 years from 2022-23 to 2025-26.
  • National Safai Karamchari Financial Development Corporation (NSKFDC) would be implementing agency for NAMASTE.
  • Under this phase of NAMASTE, 500 cities (converging with AMRUT cities) will be taken up.
  • The category of cities that will be eligible are as follows:
  • All Cities and Towns with a population of over one lakh with notified Municipalities, including Cantonment Boards (Civilian areas),
  • All Capital Cities/Towns of States/ Union Territories (UTs), not covered in 4(i),
  • Ten Cities from hill states, islands and tourist destinations (not more than one from each State).
  • NAMASTE plans on identifying the Sewer/Septic Tank Workers (SSWs) with a emphasis on informal workforce who are engaged in hazardous cleaning tasks.
  • With the use of the database, MoSJE, NSKFDC, and MoHUA (including DAY-NULM, SBM 2.0, and AMRUT) will be able to connect with SSWs and their families and offer them the support they need for collectivization, skill development, and connecting with social and financial bebefits.
  • The Survey would be conducted in digital mode in a pre-approved format by the City NAMASTE Managers and validated by the relevant Urban Local Body (ULB).
  • The Ayushyaman Bharat- Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY)  will provide a safety net to designated SSWs and their families.
  • The premium for AB-PMJAY for those identified SSWs families who are not covered earlier shall be borne under NAMASTE.
  • The designated sanitation workers and their families will be given full access to all social security programmes being run by local departments, such as:
  1. Food Security (Ration)
  2. Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana
  3. Scholarship Schemes at pre-matric and post matric level
  4. Enrolment of out of school, school-going-age children
  5. Atal Pension Yojana
  6. Pension Schemes for older persons, widows, orphan, physically challenged etc.
  7. Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana(PM-SBY)
  8. Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana (PM-JJBY)
  9. Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana
  10. Allotment of free land/plots
  11. Anganwari

Objective of NAMASTE:

The key objectives of NAMASTE are to achieve the following outcomes:

  • Zero fatalities in sanitation work in India
  • All sanitation work is performed by skilled workers
  • No sanitation workers come in direct contact with human faecal matter
  • Sanitation workers are collectivized into SHGs and are empowered to run sanitation enterprises
  • All Sewer and Septic tank sanitation workers (SSWs) have access to alternative livelihoods
  • Strengthened supervisory and monitoring systems at national, state and ULB levels to ensure enforcement and monitoring of safe sanitation work
  • Increased awareness amongst sanitation services seekers (individuals and institutions) to seek services from registered and skilled sanitation workers

Draft Indian Ports Bill, 2022: The Government of India (GoI) has recently prepared the draft Indian Ports (IP) Bill, 2022 to consolidate and amend the laws relating to ports.

Key Highlights:

  • The draft IP Bill 2022 has been issued by the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways for Stakeholder Consultation.
  • The draft IP Bill 2022 seeks to repeal and replace the existing the Indian Ports Act, 1908.

Key Features of Draft IP Bill 2022:

  • The draft Indian Ports Bill proposes to homogenize and streamline the development of the maritime sector.
  • It will also help in promoting ease of doing business by eliminating unnecessary delays, disagreements and defining responsibilities.
  • It will incorporate State Maritime Boards in the national framework.
  • India has a 7,500-kilometre-long coastline, 14,500 kilometers of potentially navigable waterways and strategic location on key international maritime trade routes.
  • About 95 per cent of India’s trade by volume and 65 per cent by value is done through maritime transport facilitated by ports.
  • In addition, The Maritime State Development Council will ensure cooperative federalism where Centre and State/UT Governments will work together towards preparing progressive road map for the country.
  • The redundant provisions of the Act have been deleted or replaced with contemporaneous provisions.
  • Furthermore, the existing penalties in the Act which are outdated have been updated with respect to amounts and offences relevant to current day scenario.

Objectives of Draft IP Bill 2022:

The primary objectives of the proposed bill are four-fold:

  1. Promote integrated planning between States inter-se and Centre-States through a purely consultative and recommendatory framework;
  2. Ensure prevention of pollution measures for all ports in India while incorporating India’s obligations under international treaties; (Note: India has signed the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL)).
  3. Address lacunae in the dispute resolution framework required for burgeoning ports sector;
  4. Usher-in transparency and cooperation in development and other aspects through use of data.

Why has the Draft IP Bill 2022 been prepared?

The Indian Ports Act, 1908 (“Act”) is more than 110 years old so it has become necessary to -

  • Update the Act to consider current frameworks, 
  • Incorporate India’s international obligations,
  • Address emerging environmental concerns, and
  • Aid the consultative development of the ports sector in the national interest.

Therefore, the IP Bill 2022 has been prepared accordingly in order to-

  • Ensure compliance with the country’s obligation under the maritime treaties and international instruments to which India is a party.
  • Consolidate and amend the laws relating to ports, for the prevention and containment of pollution at ports.
  • Take measures for conservation of ports.
  • Empower and establish State Maritime Boards for effective administration, control and management of non-major ports in India.
  • Provide for adjudicatory mechanisms for redressal of port related disputes and to establish a national council for fostering structured growth and development of the port sector.
  • Ensure optimum utilization of the coastline of India, as may be necessary.
  • Provide for matters ancillary and incidental thereto, or connected therewith.

About Indian Port Ecosystem:

  • In India, All ports are situated in the 9 coastal states of India namely  Maharashtra, Goa, Gujarat, West Bengal, Odisha, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu.
  • The ports of Mumbai, Kandla, Mangalore, JNPT, Mormugao, and Cochin are located on the west coast.
  • The ports in Chennai, Tuticorin, Visakhapatnam, Paradip, Kolkata, and Ennore are located on the east coast.
  • The government owns a 68% share in Ennore, the final corporation, which is registered as a public business. Port Blair can be found in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
  • India's largest natural port is at Mumbai.

Major and Minor Ports in India:

  • India has 13 major ports and 205 notified minor and intermediate ports.
  • Maharashtra has 53 ports followed by Gujarat with 40 while Tamil Nadu has 15 and Karnataka has 10 ports.

Legal Provisions:

Ports in India are classified as Major and Minor Ports according to the jurisdiction of the Central and State government as defined under the Indian Ports Act, 1908.

  • Major Ports are under the Union list of the Indian Constitution and are administered under the Indian Ports Act 1908 and the Major Port Trust Act, 1963 and are owned and managed by the Central Government.
  • All the Minor Ports are governed under the Indian Port Act, 1908 and are owned and managed by the State Governments.

Administration of Major Ports:

  • Each major port is governed by a Board of Trustees appointed by the Government of India.
  • The Trusts operate on the basis of policy directives and orders from the Government of India (GoI).

Note: Six new mega ports are to be developed under the Sagarmala Project.

Paalan 1000 National Campaign & Parenting App: Union Minister of State for Health Bharati Pravin Pawar recently launched the Paalan 1000 National Campaign and Parenting App in virtual mode as part of the Early Childhood Development Conclave.

Key Highlights:

  • It was virtually launched by MoS Health in Mumbai, Maharashtra.
  • While Launching the Paalan 1000, Bharati Pravin Pawar said that India has taken rapid strides in reducing child mortality since 2014 from 45 per 1000 live births to 35 per 1000 live births in 2019.
  • The Campaign focused on development of children in the first two years.
  • It will provide caregivers with practical advice on things to do in their everyday routine and will help solve the doubts of parents.
  • The first 1000 days establish a solid platform for a child’s physical, mental, emotional, cognitive and social health.

The campaign focuses on the 6 principles -

  1. Maximize Love,
  2. Talk & Engage,
  3. Explore through Movement and Play,
  4. Read and Discuss Stories,
  5. Mother’s Engagement with the Child while Breastfeeding and
  6. Managing Stress and Staying Calm.

Key Points about Paalan 1000 National Campaign & Parenting App:

Paalan 1000 National Campaign- Journey of the First 1000 Days’, focuses on the cognitive developments of children in the first 2 years of its life.

The campaign also includes early years training for families, parents, and caregivers along with services that meet basic needs of the families.

The programme is aligned with the mission of the Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK), emphasizing responsive care and focusing interventions on the first 1000 days.

PAALAN 1000 parenting app will provide caregivers with practical advice on what they can do in their everyday routine and will help resolve the various doubts of parents and will direct our efforts in the development of a child.

The app consists of several resources and materials that can help resolve various doubts of parents related to the development of the child.

About Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK):

  • The Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK) was launched by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India, under the National Health Mission (NHM).
  • RBSK is an innovative and ambitious initiative, which envisages Child Health Screening and Early Intervention Services, a systemic approach of early identification and link to care, support and treatment.
  • It is one of its kind programme designed to enhance children's overall quality of life and enable all children to reach their full potential.
  • Also, to provide comprehensive care to all the children in the community.

This program involves screening of children from birth to 18 years of age for 4 Ds-

  1. Defects at birth,
  2. Diseases,
  3. Deficiencies and
  4. Development delays,

Under this programme, the 0 - 6 years age group will be specifically managed at District  Early  Intervention  Center  ( DEIC ) level  while  for  6 -18  years  age  group,  management  of conditions  will  be  done  through  existing  public  health facilities.

Definition of Child Mortality:

  • Child Mortality is defined as the probability of children’s death between birth and 5 years of age.
  • It is expressed per 1,000 live births.

Central Universities Amendment Bill 2022: The Rajya Sabha recently passed the Central Universities (Amendment) Bill 2022 by a voice vote after a brief discussion on 8 August 2022.

Key Highlights:

  • The Lok Sabha had already passed the Bill on August 3 2022.
  • The Bill was introduced by Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan in the lower house.

About the Bill:

  • The Central Universities (Amendment) Bill, 2022 seeks to amend the Central Universities Act, 2009, to convert the National Rail and Transportation University, a deemed-to-be-university, into Gati Shakti Vishwavidyalaya, an autonomous central institution.
  • It also seeks to address the need of talent in the strategically important and expanding transportation sector and meet the demand for trained talent to fuel the growth and expansion of the sector.
  • The Vishwavidyalaya will be sponsored and funded by the central government through the Ministry of Railways.
  • The Bill provides that Gati Shakti Vishwavidyalaya will take measures to provide quality teaching, research, and skill development in disciplines related to transportation, technology, and management. 
  • If required, the University may also establish centres in India and abroad.
  • The establishment of the Vishwavidyalaya will address the need of trained talent in the transportation sector.
  • By creating master's and doctoral degrees in transportation, the proposed university will stop brain drain, build critical capability, and create capacity.
  • It will also go a long way toward making the country independent in the transportation sector thanks to its programmes for skilling and digitising India.
  • The National Rail and Transportation Institute was declared a deemed university under the University Grants Commission Act, 1956.
  • The University is named after the government's flagship Rs 100 lakh crore PM Gati Shakti National Master Plan for multi-modal connectivity.

About PM Gati Shakti National Master Plan:

  • The Gati Shakti Master Plan is essentially a digital platform.
  • It brings together 16 ministries, including roadways and railways for integrated planning and coordinated implementation of infrastructure connectivity projects.
  • It seeks to incorporate infrastructure schemes of various ministries and state governments such as Sagarmala, Bharatmala, inland waterways, dry and land ports, UDAN.

 Energy Conservation (Amendment) Bill, 2022: The Energy Conservation (Amendment) Bill, 2022 was passed on August 8, 2022.

It was introduced in Lok Sabha on August 3, 2022.

Important Provisions of the bill include:

  • The Bill seeks to amend the Energy Conservation Act, 2001.
  • The Act promotes energy efficiency and conservation.
  • It provides for the regulation of energy consumption by equipment, appliances, buildings, and industries.

Obligation to use non-fossil sources of energy:

  • The Act empowers the central government to specify energy consumption standards.
  • The Bill adds that the government may require the designated consumers to meet a minimum share of energy consumption from non-fossil sources.

Carbon trading:

  • The Bill empowers the central government to specify a carbon credit trading scheme.
  • Carbon credit implies to a tradeable permit to produce a specified amount of carbon emissions.

Energy conservation code for buildings:

  • The Bill provides for an ‘energy conservation and sustainable building code’.
  • This new code will provide norms for energy efficiency and conservation, use of renewable energy, and other requirements for green buildings.

Applicability to residential buildings:

  • Under the Bill, the new energy conservation and sustainable building code will also apply to the office and residential buildings meeting the above criteria.
  • The Bill also empowers the state governments to lower the load thresholds.

Standards for vehicles and vessels:

  • Under the Act, the energy consumption standards may be specified for equipment and appliances which consume, generate, transmit, or supply energy.
  • The Bill expands the scope to include vehicles (as defined under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988), and vessels (includes ships and boats). 

SMILE-75 Initiative: The Union Minister of Social Justice & Empowerment, Dr. Virendra Kumar recently launched the “SMILE-75 Initiative”.

Note: SMILE stands for 'Support for Marginalized Individuals for Livelihood and Enterprise'

Key Points:

  • The “SMILE-75 Initiative has been launched in the spirit of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav.
  • Under SMILE-75 initiative, 75 Municipal Corporations have been identified to implement comprehensive rehabilitation of persons engaged in the act of begging.
  • The 75 identified Municipal Corporations in collaboration experts with NGOs and other stakeholders will take part in nationwide launch in online and offline mode.
  • The will cover several comprehensive welfare measures for persons who are engaged in the act of begging.
  • They will focus extensively on rehabilitation, provision of healthcare, awareness, counselling, education, skill development, economic relations, and convergence with other government welfare programmes, among other things.

Fund:

  • The Ministry has allocated a total budget of Rs.100 crore for the SMILE project for coming years till 2025-26.

Aim:

  • Through this project, the Ministry aims to develop a support mechanism for holistic rehabilitation of those engaged in the act of begging and build an India where no person is forced to beg in order to survive and fulfil their basic needs.

About SMILE:

  • The Government of India (GoI), recognising the persisting problem of destitution and beggary formulated a comprehensive scheme of SMILE.
  • SMILE scheme was launched on 12.02.2022 by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
  • This scheme includes two sub-schemes -
  1. Central Sector Scheme for Comprehensive Rehabilitation for Welfare of Transgender Persons’ and
  2. Central Sector Scheme for Comprehensive Rehabilitation of persons engaged in the act of Begging.
  • Under the two sub-schemes, a comprehensive rehabilitation for persons engaged in begging is done.
  • With the support of Governments, UTs, Local Urban Bodies, Voluntary Organizations, Community Based Organizations (CBOs), Institutions, and others, this umbrella scheme covers a number of comprehensive measures, including welfare measures for both transgender people and people who are involved in the act of begging.
  • This scheme covers identification, rehabilitation, counselling, provision of medical facilities, and education, skill development for a decent job and self-employment or entrepreneurship.

Pilot projects have been initiated on comprehensive rehabilitation in ten cities namely Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Indore, Lucknow, Mumbai, Nagpur, Patna and Ahmedabad.

Status of Beggars in India:

  • According to the Census 2011 total number of beggars in India is over 4 lakhs.
  • West Bengal tops the chart followed by Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
  • As for the union territories, New Delhi had the largest number of beggars 2,187 followed by 121 in Chandigarh.
  • Among the north-eastern states, Assam topped the chart with 22,116 beggars, while Mizoram ranked low with 53 beggars.

Central Law for Begging:

  • There is no central law on begging in India.
  • However, begging is a criminal act in cities like Delhi and Mumbai, in accordance with Bombay Prevention of Begging Act, BPBA (1959) which penalises beggary.
  • Under the act, officials from Social Welfare Department conduct raids, in association with Police and pick up beggars.
  • Later, they are tries in special courts called ‘beggar courts.

Guidelines for Saksham Anganwadi & Poshan 2.0 Schemes: The Ministry of Women and Child Development (MoWCD) recently released operational guidelines to implement ‘Saksham Anganwadi and Poshan 2.0′ scheme.

The Union Cabinet has approved the scheme for implementation during the 15th Finance Commission period 202l-22 to 2025-26.

Significance:

  • Saksham Anganwadi and Poshan 2.0 is an Integrated Nutrition Support Programme.
  • Its goal is to address the challenges of malnutrition in children, adolescent girls, pregnant women and lactating mothers through a strategic shift in nutrition content and delivery.

Key Features of the Scheme:

Under the program, a convergent eco-system will be created to develop and promote practices nurturing health, wellness and immunity.

In order to address gaps and shortcomings in on-going nutrition program, as well as to improve implementation and accelerate improvement in nutrition & child development outcomes, the existing scheme components have been re-organized under Poshan 2.0 into the primary verticals given below:

  1. Nutrition Support for POSHAN through Supplementary Nutrition Programme (SNP) for children aged 6 months-6 years, pregnant women & lactating mothers and Adolescent Girls aged 14-18 years across Aspirational districts and NER.
  2. Early Childhood Care and Education for children aged 3-6 years and early stimulation for children aged 0-3 years.
  3. Anganwadi Infrastructure, comprising of modern & upgraded Saksham Anganwadi
  4. Poshan Abhiyaan

Objectives:

The objectives of Poshan 2.0 are as follows:

  • To contribute to human capital development of the country;
  • To address challenges of malnutrition;
  • To promote nutrition awareness and good eating habits for sustainable health and wellbeing; and
  • To address nutrition related deficiencies through key strategies.

Poshan 2.0:

Poshan 2.0 scheme in an umbrella scheme covering the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), Anganwadi Services, Poshan Abhiyaan, Scheme For Adolescent Girls and National Creche Scheme.

Poshan 2.0 shall focus on the following: -

  1. Maternal Nutrition
  2. Infant and Young Child Feeding Norms Treatment Protocols for SAM/MAM
  3. Wellness through AYUSH practices

Its objective is to reduce wasting and under-weight prevalence besides stunting and anemia, supported by the 'Poshan Tracker', a new, robust ICT centralized data system which is being linked with the RCH Portal (Anmol) of MoHFW.

It seeks to contribute to human capital development in India by promoting nutrition awareness and good eating habits to attain sustainable health and wellbeing.

Personal Data Protection Bill: The Government of India (GoI) on August 4, 2022, announced the withdrawal of the Personal Data Protection Bill 2022 from Parliament.

Key Highlights:

  • The formal announcement about the withdrawal of Personal Data Protection Bill was made by Union Minister for Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) Ashwini Vaishnaw.
  • The Bill, which was introduced in 2019, sought to regulate how various parties, including the government, use individuals' personal information and digital data in the internet ecosystem.
  • The Personal Data Protection Bill was in the works since 2018.
  • It was drafted first by a panel led by retired Supreme Court judge Justice B N Srikrishna.
  • The government has taken this step after nearly four years of the Bill being in the works.

Key Points about the Bill:

  • The withdrawal is based on the multiple recommendations and changes proposed by the Parliamentary Committee, the government feels that a “comprehensive legal framework” to regulate the online space is required.
  • Furthermore, the government has decided to introduce separate laws to mitigate use of Personal Data in the Digital Ecosystem including cybersecurity, telecom regulations, and harnessing non-personal data.
  • The government has decided to come up with a fresh bill that fits into the comprehensive legal framework with reference to the suggestions made by the Joint Committee of Parliament (JCP) on the Bill.
  • The JCP had submitted a 542-page report with overall 93 recommendations and 81 amendments to the Personal Data Protection Bill in December 2021.
  • Apart from that, the panel, headed by former Union Minister, had also recommended about 97 corrections and improvements to the Bill.

Why has the Personal Data Protection Bill been withdrawn?

  • The JPC-proposed revisions to the draught legislation drew harsh criticism from different stakeholders within the society.
  • The JPC had proposed 81 amendments in a bill of 99 sections and 12 recommendations to the draft bill which was submitted by the Srikrishna Committee, which will lead to comprehensive changes to proposed law.
  • In reality, Section 12 (a)(i) of the Bill permitted the government to collect personal data without the informed consent and approval of individuals on the grounds of “national sovereignty” and “public order”.
  • Also, the regulatory structure of the DPA was not independent as the Central government could appoint its members which would interfere with the committee’s decisions regarding violations of privacy and misuse of data by the government.

Critisism:

Over the years the bill received severe pushback from various stakeholders,from privacy advocates to civil society organizations.

They have criticized the following, among other things: -

  • The broad exemptions to the bill’s provisions carved out in government’s favor,
  • The Data Protection Authority’s lack of independence,
  • The inclusion of non-personal data,
  • the priority given to economic interests, and
  • The failure to adequately safeguard citizens’ privacy and personal data.

Background:

  • When the Supreme Court of India declared that privacy is a basic right, the wheels for creating a law to control the use of citizens' digital data were set in action in 2017.
  • The apex court, had also directed the government to come-up with a legal framework for data protection.
  • In 2017, Justice Srikrishna panel, which was set up in response to the Court’s verdict, submitted a white-paper outlaying the key aspects that a Data Protection Bill should look at.
  • In 2018, a draft Data Protection Bill was submitted to the MeitY by theSrikrishna Committee. 
  • In 2019, the draft bill was sent to Joint Parliamentary Committee headed by BJP’s Meenakshi Lekhi.
  • A detailed analysis and comprehensive, clause-by-clause review of the provisions of the bill over next three years was held by JPC.
  • In July 2021, BJP MP PP Chaudhary took over from Ms Lekhi as the JPC Chairperson, after the latter was appointed as the Minister of State for External Affairs.
  • In Dec 2021, JCP tabled its review report before the Parliament.
  • The draft bill received heavy backlash from different stakeholders and Justice Srikrishna also termed it a tool that can turn the India into an “Orwellian state” and against the welfare of a free and open society.

Education in Mother Tongue: The Minister of State for Education, Smt. Annpurna Devi recently informed the Lok Sabha about Education in Mother Tongue.

Key Points:

  • Under the Right to Education Act, 2009, Section 29(f) of Chapter V clearly states that, “medium of instructions shall, as far as practicable, be in child’s mother tongue.”
  • Education is in the concurrent list of the Constitution and majority of the schools are under the domain of the States/UTs.
  • As envisaged in para 4.11 of National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, wherever possible, the medium of instruction until at least Grade 5, but preferably till Grade 8 and beyond, is to be the mother tongue/regional language.

Note: The New Education Policy was launched in 2020.

  • Thereafter, the home/local language shall continue to be taught as a language wherever possible.
  • The NIPUN Bharat Mission of the Government of India (GoI) through its Mission Implementation Guidelines suggests that teaching learning process and development of teaching learning material should be done in mother tongue.
  • Similarly, Vidya Pravesh- a three-month play-based school preparation programme for Grade-I and NISHTHA FLN (Foundational literacy and Numeracy) have also re-emphasized the same.
  • As per Unified District Information System for Education Plus (UDISE+) 2020-21, there are 28 languages in which teaching learning is going on in grades (1-5).

The languages are as follows:

Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Konkani, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Odia, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, English, Bodo, Khasi, Garo, Mizo, French, Hmar, Karbi, Santhali, Bhodi, Purgi.

New Norms for Mission Vatsalya: Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) is implementing a centrally sponsored scheme through State/UT Governments namely Mission Vatsalya.

Key Points:

  • Under it, a monthly grant of Rs. 4000/- per child is provided for family based non-institutional care including Sponsorship (kinship) or Foster Care or After Care.
  • The Mission Vatsalya in partnership with States and Districts provides support to a 24x7 helpline service for children as defined under the JJ Act, 2015.
  • It is aimed at setting up Cradle Baby Reception Centres in at least one Specialized Adoption Agency (SAA), preferably government run orgaization, in each District, to save the abandoned children and look after them with due care and affection till he/she is given in adoption.
  • It is implemented in partnership with States/UTs as per prescribed norms in the guidelines.
  • Under Mission Vatsalya Scheme, States/UTs need to focus on special need children in Child Care Institutions (CCIs), who are not able to go to school due to physical/mental disabilities.
  • Special provisions are required to be made in the CCIs to provide services including Special Educators/therapist and Nurse required for such children in CCIs for occupational therapy, speech therapy, verbal therapy and other remedial classes as per the children’s need.
  • The capacity building of the Special Unit staff in sign language, Braille etc. are undertaken with help of resource institutions by States/UTs for such Homes.

About Mission Vatsalya:

  • Mission Vatsalya is a centrally sponsored scheme for child protection services in the country since 2009-10 for the welfare and rehabilitation of children.
  • It is essentially a renamed version of the pre-existing scheme called Child Protection Services.

Implementation of Mission Vatsalya:

  • It is being implemented by the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
  • All the States/UTs have signed the Memorandum of Undertaking (MoU) with the Ministry for implementation of the Scheme.
  • Mission Vatsalya will be implemented as a centrally sponsored scheme as per prescribed cost sharing ratio between the Centre and State/UT Governments.

Objectives:

The objective of Mission Vatsalya are as follows:

  • To secure a healthy and happy childhood for each and every child in India,
  • To ensure opportunities to enable them to discover their full potential and assist them in flourishing in all respects, in a sustained manner,
  • To foster a sensitive, supportive and synchronized ecosystem for development of children,
  • To assist States/UTs in delivering the mandate of the Juvenile Justice Act 2015 and achieve the SDG goals

Components under Mission Vatsalya include:

  1. Improve functioning of statutory bodies;
  2. Strengthen service delivery structures;
  3. Upscale institutional care/services;
  4. Encourage non-institutional community-based care;
  5. emergency outreach services;
  6. Training and capacity building.

Funding Mechanism:

  • It will be implemented as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme in partnership with state governments and UT administrations, with a fund-sharing pattern in a 60:40 ratio.
  • However, for the eight states in the Northeast — as well as Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and the UT of Jammu and Kashmir — the Centre and state/UT’s share will be 90:10

Background:

Prior to 2009, the WCD Ministry implemented the following three schemes for children in need of protection.

  1. The juvenile justice programme for children in need of care and protection as well as children in conflict with the law,
  2. The integrated programme for street children,
  3. The scheme for assistance to children's homes.

In 2010, these three schemes were merged into a single plan known as the Integrated Child Protection Scheme.

In 2017, it was renamed "Child Protection Services Scheme," and again in 2021-22 as Mission Vatsalya.

National Anti-Doping Bill, 2021: The National Anti-Doping Bill, 2022 was passed in the Lok Sabha on 27th July 2022.

Key Points:

  • The Bill was introduced in December 2021 by Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur.
  • It was passed considering that, legislative powers would put brake on doping.

Important provisions of the bill:

  • Bill would help in establishing National Board of Anti-Doping in sports, comprising of competent and independent personnel.
  • It seeks to achieve time-bound justice for athletes.
  • It will improve cooperation among agencies to fight against doping.
  • It also seeks to give effect to the UNESCO International Convention against doping in sports and compliance of such other obligations and commitments.
  • It will help in setting up robust, independent mechanism for anti-doping adjudication.
  • It will provide legal sanctity to functioning of NADA and National Dope Testing Laboratory (NDTL).
  • The legislation prohibits athletes, athlete support personnel, and other persons from engaging in doping in sports.
  • Under the new legislation, violation of anti-doping rules may result in disqualification of results including forfeiture of medals, points, and prizes, ineligibility to participate in a competition or event for a prescribed period, and financial sanctions.
  • It would lead to setting up of more dope testing laboratories in India, besides providing support in academic research and manufacture of things related to anti-doping.
  • It would lead to setting up of more dope testing laboratories in India, besides providing support in academic research and manufacture of things related to anti-doping.

Thus, the National Anti-Doping Bill 2022 provide a statutory framework in the form of legislation, to stop doping in sports in India.

Presently, the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) has been performing anti-doping measures in accordance with the norms of World Anti-Doping Agency.

National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA):

  • NADA is the national organisation, that promotes, coordinates, and monitor the doping control program in all forms of sports in country.
  • It was established by Central Government, under the societies Registration Act.
  • It deals with adoption and implementation of anti-doping rules and policies, in line with the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Initiatives for Pregnant Women: Government of India (GoI) has a number of programmes to support all pregnant people, especially those from economically disadvantaged groups, financially and medically during their pregnancies and deliveries in government hospitals.

These include:

  1. Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY), a demand promotion and conditional cash transfer scheme for promoting institutional delivery.
  2. Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakaram (JSSK) entitles every pregnant woman to free delivery, including for caesarean section, in public health institutions along with the provision of free transport, diagnostics, medicines, other consumables, diet and blood.

Steps taken by Govt. of India to ensure assured availability of all facilities to pregnant women near their homes, especially at the time of delivery in the remote areas of the country are as follows:

  1. Setting up of Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Wings at high caseload facilities to improve the quality of care provided to mothers and children.
  2. Operationalisation of 102 services for pregnant women for providing free transport from home to facility, inter facility transfer in case of referral and drop back to home.
  3. Over 25,000 ‘Delivery Points’ across the country have been strengthened in terms of infrastructure, equipment, and trained manpower for provision of comprehensive RMNCAH+A services
  4. Surakshit Matratva Ashwasan (SUMAN) for providing assured, dignified, respectful and quality healthcare at no cost and zero tolerance for denial of services for every woman and newborn visiting the public health facility to end all preventable maternal and newborn deaths.
  5. Functionalization of First Referral Units (FRUs) by ensuring manpower, blood storage units, referral linkages etc.
  6. Birth Waiting Homes (BWH) have been established in remote and tribal areas to promote institutional delivery and improve access to healthcare facilities
  7. Obstetric High Dependency Unit (HDU) & Intensive care unit (ICU)- Setting up of Obstetric HDU/ICU in the high case load tertiary care facilities across country to handle complicated pregnancies.
  8. Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan (PMSMA) provides pregnant women a fixed day, free of cost assured and quality Antenatal Care on the 9th day of every month.
  9. Monthly Village Health, Sanitation and Nutrition Day (VHSND) is an outreach activity for provision of maternal and child care including nutrition.
  10. Information, education and communication (IEC) to promote institutional deliveries.
  11. LaQshya (Labour room Quality improvement Initiative) to improve the quality of care in Labour room and Maternity operation theatres to ensure that pregnant women receive respectful and quality care during delivery and immediate post-partum.
  12. Birth Microplanning and Birth Preparedness by Skilled birth attendance (SBA) trained ANMs.
  13. MCP Card and Safe Motherhood Booklet are distributed to the pregnant women for educating them on diet, rest, danger signs of pregnancy, benefit schemes and institutional deliveries.
  14. Outreach camps are provisioned for improving the reach of health care services especially in tribal and hard to reach areas. This platform is used to increase the awareness for the Maternal health services, community mobilization as well as to track high risk pregnancies.

Rules for Boarding Specially-Abled People on Aircraft: The civil aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) recently issued draft rules for persons with disability.

The DGCA amended its rules on carriage of disabled passengers to say that airlines cannot deny boarding to specially abled people without seeking the medical opinion of a doctor at the airport on a passenger’s fitness to fly.

Why were the rules amended?

  • The DGCA's draft rules were amended following the IndiGo incident.
  • The DGCA imposed a fine of Rs 5 lakh on IndiGo airline for stopping a specially-abled child from boarding a flight from Ranchi to Hyderabad last month.
  • At the time of penalising IndiGo, the DGCA had noted that the airline’s ground staff could have avoided the situation with a “more compassionate handling”, and ended up “exacerbating” the situation.
  • In response, the company stood with the decision of the ground staff and said it was done in the interest of flight safety.
  • It also said that it would conduct an internal case study to learn how it can better serve its passengers with special needs.

What does the new DGCA regulation say?

In its new Civil Aviation Requirement (CAR), n its new Civil Aviation Requirement (CAR), the DGCA has said that if an airline decides to deny boarding after getting medical opinion, it will have to immediately inform the passenger in writing and mention the reasons.

What were the old rules?

  • According to the earlier rules, airlines could deny boarding to any person on the basis of disability if it opined that “transportation of such persons would or might be inimical to the safety of flight”.
  • However, the airlines were required to provide a written explanation of the reasons for the refusal.

Har Ghar Tiranga Campaign: The Har Ghar Tiranga Campaign or Abhiyan is being organized by the Indian Government as a part of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav to mark the 75th year of India's Independence from the 13th to the 15th of August.

Key Details:

  • As a part of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav, the Culture Ministry is planning on celebrating August 11 to August 17 as “Independence Week” across the country.
  • During the week, the 26 crore households in the country would be encouraged to hoist the Tricolour as a part of the ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ programme.
  • The Har Ghar Tiranga initiative was launched as a part of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav, by the nodal Ministry of Culture to mark the 75th year of India's Independence.
  • The government has urged citizens to proudly hoist the Tricolour at their homes from August 13 to 15 and upload pictures on harghartiranga.com under the Har Ghar Tiranga campaign.
  • The Har Ghar Tiranga abhiyan is aimed at instilling the feeling of patriotism in the hearts of people and to promote awareness about the Indian national flag.

Note: 22nd July has a special relevance in India's history as it was on this day in 1947 that the country's National Flag was adopted.

Key Takeaway:

About the Indian National Flag:

  • The Indian National Flag was designed by Pingali Venkayya, an educationist and freedom fighter from Andhra Pradesh.
  • The national flag of India, colloquially called the Tricolour, is a horizontal rectangular tricolour flag of India saffron, white and India green; with the Ashoka Chakra, a 24-spoke wheel, in navy blue at its centre.
  • It was adopted in its present form during a meeting of the Constituent Assembly held on 22 July 1947, and it became the official flag of the Dominion of India on 15 August 1947.
  • Usage of the flag is governed by the Flag Code of India and other laws relating to the national emblems.
  • The flag code also governs the protocol of flying the flag and its use in conjunction with other national and non-national flags.
  • The flag must be hoisted in horizontal direction with the saffron colour always on the top.

Extension of RoSCTL Scheme: Ministry of Commerce and Industry recently extended the “Scheme for Rebate of State and Central Taxes and Levies (RoSCTL)” till March 31, 2024.

Key Highlights:

  • The Ministry has authorized the continuation of the RoSCTL scheme will be continued with the same rates as announced by the Ministry of Textiles for exports of apparel/garments and made-ups.
  • Scheme has been extended in order to increase exports and generate employment in textile industry.

About RoSCTL Scheme:

  • The RoSCTL Scheme was introduced by the Ministry of Textiles vide Notf. No. 14/26/2016-IT(VOL.II) dated 07.03.2019.
  • The Scheme came into effect from 07.03.2019.
  • The RoSL (Rebate of State Levies) scheme which was in operation before the introduction of GST in 2017 was replaced by the current Rebate of State and Central Taxes Levies (RoSCTL) scheme in March 2019.
  • RoSCTL is a forward-looking and growth-oriented scheme.
  • It has provided a stable and predictable policy regime, helping boost exports and employment.
  • The scheme has also helped improve cost efficiency and the export competitiveness in the international market.
  • It has promoted incubation of start-ups and entrepreneurs in the domain and also led to the large number of MSMEs joining the apparel export business

Difference between RoSL and RoSCTL:

  • The difference between RoSL & RoSCTL Scheme is that under RoSL Scheme, there was no benefit on the central tax and Levies.
  • But in the RoSCTL scheme, the exporter will get rebate of both State and Central tax and Levies.

Aim of the RoSCTL scheme:

  • RoSCTL Scheme was launched with the aim to reimburse all embedded State and Central Taxes or Levies for exports of manufactured goods and garments.
  • Importer-Exporter Codes (IECs) are required to apply for RoSCTL programme.
  • It also seeks to enhance productivity in garment and made-up sectors as it rebates all the embedded State and Central Taxes & Levies.
  • It further aims to compensate State and Central Taxes and Levies apart from the Duty Drawback Scheme on export of apparel or garments and Made-ups.

Rebates under the RoSCTL Scheme:

The RoSCTL scheme offers a rebate of both, State and Central taxes.

The lists of state taxes and levies that will be refunded under the RoSCTL scheme are –

  • VAT on transportation fuel
  • Mandi Tax
  • Captive Tax
  • Stamp Duty on all the export documents
  • Embedded SGST which are paid on pesticides, fertilizers etc.
  • Duty of electricity

Which are governing regulatory bodies for the RoSCTL in India?

  • RoSCTL scheme has been notified by the Ministry of Textiles.
  • However,the scheme shall be implemented by the Department of Revenue.

Mission Shakti Scheme: Ministry of Women and Child Development (MoWCD) recently released guidelines for ‘Mission Shakti’ scheme.

Key Points:

  • This scheme has been launched the Government of India (GoI).
  • It is an integrated women empowerment programme as umbrella scheme for the safety, security and empowerment of women.
  • It will be implemented during the 15th Finance Commission period 202l-22 to 2025-26.
  • Newly released guidelines of Mission Shakti will be applicable with effect from April 1, 2022.

What is Mission Shakti?

  • Mission Shakti is a scheme, launched in mission mode for the safety, security and empowerment of women.
  • It seeks to realize the Government’s commitment for "women-led development". 
  • This commitment will be fulfilled by:
  • Focusing on the issues affecting women on the basis of life-cycle continuum.
  • Making women equal partners in nation-building.
  • It also seeks to reduce the care burden on women and increase female labour force participation by promoting skill development, capacity building, financial literacy, access to micro-credit etc.
  • The key objectives of the mission are to provide care, support and assistance to women and to put in place quality mechanisms for the rescue, protection and rehabilitation of women who are victims of crime and violence.
  • The scheme is also aimed at improving accessibility to various government services available for women at various levels.

Mission Shakti has two sub-schemes - Sambal and Samarthya.

  • While the “Sambal” sub-scheme is for safety and security of women, the “Samarthya” sub-scheme is for empowerment of women.
  1. Sambal:

The components of ‘Sambal’ sub-scheme consist of erstwhile schemes of One Stop Centre (OSC), Women Helpline (WHL), Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP) with a new component of Nari Adalats – women’s which is a collectives to promote and facilitate alternative dispute resolution and gender justice in society and within families.

  1. Samarthya:

The components of ‘Samarthya’ sub-scheme consist of erstwhile schemes of Ujjwala, Swadhar Greh and Working Women Hostel have been included with modifications.

  • In addition, the existing schemes of National Creche Scheme for children of working mothers and Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY) under umbrella ICDS have now been included in Samarthya.
  • A new component of Gap Funding for Economic Empowerment has also been added in the Samarthya Scheme.

Draft “Drug, Medical Devices & Cosmetics Bill-2022”: The Union Health Ministry of India recently released the Draft “Drug, Medical Devices & Cosmetics Bill-2022”.

Key Highlights:

  • This draft bill 2022 will replace the Drugs and Cosmetics Act of 1940 and other sets of Rules that are currently used to govern the sector.
  • It seeks to regulate medical devices as a separate entity.
  • It comprises of provision for fines & imprisonment in case of injury and death related to clinical trials or investigations.
  • The bill also aims to regulate e-pharmacies.

What is the need of regulating e-pharmacies?

  • Currently, in India, e-pharmacies or online-pharmacies are completely outside the law, most of them have licenses for physical shops or storage units.
  • Medicines are delivered by them without any prescription.
  • They are not regulated 1940 law or any other Rules.
  • In case of any violation of rule, drug inspectors do not know under which law or Rule proceedings can be done against the websites.
  • Apart from that, these companies sometimes are holding licences from another state, which is outside the jurisdiction of drug inspectors.
  • Thus, a law or change in current rules was needed to regulate online-pharmacies.

Purpose of this bill apart from regulating e-pharmacies :

  • Almost 80% of the medical devices currently sold in the country are imported, particularly high-end devices.
  • So, the legislation also seeks to reduce India’s import dependence from 80% to nearly 30% in the next 10 years and become one of the top five global manufacturing hubs for medical devices by 2047.
  • It also seeks to increase India’s per capita spend on medical devices.
  • When compared to the global average per capita consumption of USD 47 and industrialised countries like the USA and Germany, where per capita consumption is USD 415 and USD 313, respectively, India has one of the lowest per capita expenditures on medical devices at USD 3.

Provisions of the Draft Bill the draft Bill 2022:

Important Provisions of the Draft Bill the draft Bill 2022 provides for the following: -

  1. Compensation to Heir:
  • Compensation to participants or their legal heirs in case of injury or death the patient suffered in clinical trials and investigations of drugs or medical devices.
  • The draft also places responsibility on the provider to oversee medical care for any injury resulting from the trial of the investigators.
  1. Penalty & Fines:
  • In case compensation is not paid, there is a provision of imprisonment and double fine.
  1. Prohibition of Clinical Trials:
  • It prohibits clinical trials or clinical investigations related to drugs and medical devices without permission from the central licensing authority.
  • It provides for debarring the investigators and sponsors of a trial or investigation if the laid-down provisions are not followed.
  1. Medical Devices Technical Advisory Board:
  • The proposed legislation calls for the establishment of a Medical Devices Technical Advisory Board, along the lines of the current Drugs Technical Advisory Board, composed of experts in the engineering of these devices as well as representatives from the industry.
  • Other than officials of the Health Ministry, the board will have officials from the Department of Atomic Energy, Department of Science and Technology, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Defense Research and Development Organization, and experts from the fields of Biomedical Technology, Biomaterials, and Polymer Technology.
  • Under the Medical Device, the draft Bill includes diagnostic equipment & related software, devices for assistance with disabilities, implants, instruments used for disinfection, life support, and reagents or kits.
  • On the other hand, 1940 Act categorises “medical devices” as one among the four categories of “drugs”.

MoH&FW & MoPR MoU for Elimination of TB: The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoH&FW) and the Ministry of Panchayati Raj (MoPR) recently signed a MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) for the elimination of TB (Tuberculosis) in India.

Key Points:

  • The MoU was signed by Dr. P Ashok Babu, Joint Secretary on behalf of the Ministry of Health and Dr. Bijaya Kumar Behera, Economic Adviser on behalf of the Ministry of Panchayati Raj.
  • The MoU will forge inter-Ministerial collaboration and strategic partnerships with the aim to achieving the Prime Minister’s ambitious target of eliminating TB in India by 2025.
  • It would also pave the way for coordinated initiatives at the local level to raise awareness among the general populace in rural regions about the need to eradicate stigma and discrimination linked to TB.
  • Additionally, it will support any prospective use of Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) or Rural Local Bodies in the fight against TB nationwide.
  • Objectives and targets set under the TB Free Indian Campaign will also be achieved through the MoU.
  • It will also advance the “TB Harega, Desh Jeetega” campaign across rural India.

Objective of the MoU:

  • The main objective of this MoU is to forego convergence at policy, programme and implementation levels across the Ministries of the Government of India for a multi–sectoral and accelerated response towards TB Free India.
  • Through Inter-Ministerial coordination MoH&FW aims to reach the population served by various Ministries such as workers, miners, migrants, Tribal Populations, Women and Children etc.
  • MoH&FW has developed a National Strategic Plan (2017–2025) for elimination of TB in the country by 2025.

About TB Free India Campaign:

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the TB Free India Campaign to end Tuberculosis in India.
  • As part of the sustainable development objectives, this campaign seeks to eradicate TB by 2025.
  • The global target of eradicating TB by 2030 has been exceeded by 5 years by the goal of eradicating TB by 2025.

Single-Use Plastics Ban: The Government of India (GoI) has announced the Single use plastic (SUP) ban from July 1, 2022.

Key Points:

  • A gazetted notification was issued in 2021 by the Ministry for Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) announcing the plastic ban.
  • The manufacturing, importation, stocking, distribution, sale, and use of a number of single-use plastic items including the polystyrene and expanded polystyrene, commodities will be prohibited beginning on July 1, 2022, according to the Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021.
  • The novel amendment is in line with PM Narendra Modi’s clarion call to phase out single-use plastic by 2022.
  • It was in June 2018 that PM Narendra Modi had announced to eliminate all single-use plastic items from the country by 2022.
  • Now the ministry has defined a list of items that will be banned from July 1, 2022.

Single Use Plastic ban Items List:

  • The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) have announced a ban on – earbuds; cutlery items including plates, cups, glasses, forks, spoons, knives,  balloon sticks; candy and ice-cream sticks;trays; sweet boxes; invitation cards; cigarette packs; PVC banners measuring under 100 microns; and polystyrene for decoration.
  • This ban will not be applicable to commodities made of compostable plastic.
  • The Ministry, in September 2021, had already banned the polythene bags under 75 microns expanding the limit from the earlier 50 microns.
  • Permitted thicknesses of the plastic bags have been increased to 75 microns, from 50 microns, starting from September 30, 2021 and to 120 microns from December 31, 2022.
  • As per the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, there is also a complete ban on sachets using plastic material for storing, packing, or selling Gutkha, tobacco, and pan masala.

Why particular items?

  • As per the Ministry officials, the choice for the first set of single-use plastic items for the ban was based on the difficulty of collection and therefore recycling.
  • The Ministry official further explained that the adversary isn't plastic per se, but rather plastic in the environment.
  • Plastic that is left in the environment for a long time and does not decompose becomes microplastics, which are very dangerous since they infiltrate our food supplies first before making their way into our bodies.
  • The specific objects that have been selected to be banned are bacause they are difficult to gather, especially considering that the majority are either little or thrown away into the environment, such ice cream sticks.

How will the ban be enforced?

  • The single use plastic ban will be monitored by the CPCB from the Centre and by the State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) that will report to the Centre regularly.
  • Directions to keep an eye on single use plastic ban have also been issued at the national, state, and local levels to not to supply the raw materials to industries engaged in the banned items.
  • SPCBs and Pollution Control Committees will modify or revoke consent to operate issued under the Air/Water Act to industries engaged in single-use plastic items.
  • Those violating single use plastic ban can be penalized under the Environment Protection Act 1986- which allows for imprisonment up to 5 years, a penalty up to Rs. 1 lakh, or both.
  • Violators can also be asked to pay Environmental Damage Compensation by the SPCB.
  • In addition, there are also municipal laws on plastic waste, with their own penal codes.

India is committed to taking action towards mitigating pollution caused by littered Single-Use Plastics.

What are Single-use Plastics?

  • Single-use Plastics are also known as disposable plastics.
  • They are plastic items that are used once and discarded. For E.g., plastics used in packaging of items, bottles (detergents, shampoo, cosmetics), coffee cups, cling film, polythene bags, face masks, trash bags, food packaging etc.
  • Plastic has superseded other materials in the packaging sector because it is so practical and affordable.
  • It takes hundreds of years to disintegrate.
  • India ranks at 94 in the top 100 countries of single-use plastic waste generation as 9.46 million tonnes of plastic waste is generated every year, out of which 43% is single use plastic.

How are other countries tackling with single-use plastic?

  • In 2022, 124 countries, parties to the United Nations Environment Assembly, including India, signed a resolution to draw up an agreement which will in the future make it legally binding for the signatories to address the full life of plastics from production to disposal, to end plastic pollution.
  • EU bans certain single-use plastics for which alternatives are available.
  • Bangladesh became the first country to ban thin plastic bags in 2002.
  • China issued a ban on plastic bags in 2020 with a phased implementation.

Note: In the 4th United Nations Environment Assembly held in 2019, India had piloted a resolution on addressing single-use plastic products pollution, recognizing the urgent need for the global community to focus on this very important issue. The adoption of this resolution at UNEA 4 was thus a very significant step.

One Nation, One Dialysis: On June 26, 2022, Dr. Mansukh Mandaviya, the Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare, announced that the Central Government would shortly launch the "One Nation, One Dialysis" initiative.

Key Highlights:

  • He announced the One Nation, One Dialysis Programme during his two-day visit to Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.
  • It will be launched by the Government under the Pradhan Mantri National Dialysis Programme.
  • Through this scheme, any patient in India can get a dialysis facility from anywhere in the country.

Key Points about One Nation, One Dialysis’Programme:

  • In line with the idea of one nation and one service, the Central Government has been planning to introduce another service under the Pradhan Mantri National Dialysis Programme under the National Health Mission called "One Nation, One Dialysis."
  • The One Nation, One Dialysis initiative will facilitate the dialysis facility for the needy patients anywhere in the country.

About National Dialysis Programme:

  • In the Budget Speech of 2016-2017, the Union Finance Minister Nirmala sitharaman had announced the launch of a National Dialysis Programme under a public-private partnership at the district hospitals.
  • The programme was launched by the Government of India (GoI) keeping in view the fact that every year about 2.2 lakh new patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) get added to the country resulting in additional demand for 3.4 crore dialysis each year.

Significance of One Nation, One Dialysis Programme:

  • Every year, there is an increase in patients with end-stage renal diseases, which increases the demand for 3.4 crore dialysis treatments.
  • The demand is not fully satisfied by the infrastructure at this time, despite India having approximately 4,950 dialysis centres, the most of which are private.
  • Practically all families of patients who require dialysis suffer a financial catastrophe as a result of the high cost of care.
  • A dialysis programme is found necessary both in terms of providing significant life-saving procedures and in terms of lowering patient poverty due to out-of-pocket expenses.

What is Dialysis?

  • Dialysis is a medical procedure that performs some of the functions of healthy kidneys. When renal failure reaches its latter stage, it becomes necessary.

Dialysis maintains balance of body by:

  1. Removing waste, salt and extra water to prevent them from building up in the body.
  2. Keeping a safe level of certain chemicals in your blood, such as potassium, sodium and bicarbonate.
  3. Helping to control blood pressure.

Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI): The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi recently approved the categorization of the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) as an ‘International Organization’.

Key Points:

It also approved the signing of the Headquarters Agreement (HQA) with CDRI.

This agreement is for granting it the exemptions, immunities and privileges as contemplated under the United Nations (Privileges & Immunities) Act, 1947.

How will these affect CDRI?

Categorization of CDRI as an ‘International Organization’ and signing of the Headquarters Agreement (HQA) will provide CDRI a legal identity that is independent and global, enabling it to carry out its duties abroad effectively.

Associated Benefits to CDRI:

Deputing experts to other countries:

It will help the CDRI in deputing experts to countries which are vulnerable to disaster risk and seek for post disaster recovery. It will also bring in experts from member countries to India for similar purposes.

Deploy funds and receive contributions:

It can deploy funds at global level and receive contributions from member countries for its activities.

Making available technical expertise:

It will be able to assist countries to develop resilient infrastructure by providing technical expertise in accordance with their disaster and climate risks and resources.

Imparting assistance to countries:

It will help in imparting assistance to countries in adopting appropriate risk governance arrangements and strategies for resilient infrastructure.

Render support to member countries:

It will render all possible support to member countries in upgrading their systems to ensure disaster and climate resilience of existing and future infrastructure, while aligning with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Paris Climate Agreement and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.

Leveraging international engagement:

It will leverage international engagement to foster disaster resilient infrastructure at home

Assistance to Indian scientific and technical institution:

It will provide an opportunity to Indian scientific and technical institution and infrastructure developers to interact with global experts. It will help in building our own capacities and mechanisms to support disaster resilient infrastructure development.

This will be helpful in building the country's own capacities and mechanisms to support disaster resilient infrastructure development.

About CDRI:

  • Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) is a global coalition of National governments, United Nations agencies and programmes, multilateral development banks and financing mechanisms, academic, research institutions and the private sector.
  • It was launched in 2019 by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the 2019 United Nations Climate Action Summit at New York.

Members of CDRI:

Since its launch, 31 Countries, 6 International Organizations and 2  private sector organizations have joined as members of CDRI.

6 International Organizations are:

  1. Asian Development Bank (ADB)
  2. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
  3. World Bank Group)
  4. European Union
  5. European Investment Bank
  6. United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR)

Two Private Sector Organisations are:

  1. Private Sector Alliance for Disaster Resilient Societies 
  2. Coalition for Climate Resilient Investment.

CDRI has steadily grown its membership by attracting drawing members from a variety of economically developed, developing, and disaster-prone nations.

Aims and objectives:

  • CDRI aims to promote the resilience of new and existing infrastructure systems to climate and disaster risks in support of sustainable development.
  • Its objective is to promote research and knowledge sharing in the fields of infrastructure risk management, standards, financing, and recovery mechanisms

Background:

  • CDRI was first proposed by our Prime Minister during the 2016 Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction held in New Delhi.
  • On 28th August, 2019, the Cabinet had approved the setting up of CDRI with its Secretariat in New Delhi along with a support of Rs. 480 crore to CDRI.

NITI Aayog-WEP report on THR: Government’s think-tank, NITI Aayog and the World Food Program (WFP) recently launched a report titled ‘Take Home Ration-Good Practices across the State/Union Territories’.

Key Highlights:

  • The report was launched by Suman K. Bery, vice chairman of the NITI Aayog in the presence of CEO Amitabh Kant and Member (Health) Dr. V.K. Paul,  Secretary of the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Indevar Pandey.
  • The NITI Aayog-WEP report outlines a number of beneficial and creative techniques that the States and UTs have used to implement the Take Home Ration value chain.

Key Points:

  • The Government of India (GoI) provides Take Home Ration (THR) under the Supplementary Nutrition component of the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) to fill the gap in nutrition among children as well as Pregnant and Lactating Women (PLW).
  • It offers fortified rations for use at home for children aged 6 to 36 months as well as pregnant and lactating women, with the goal of bridging the nutrition gap among them.

Compilation of Innovations:

  • The document on good practices compiles and collates innovations in Take Home Ration(THR) programmes in various States and Union Territories.

Generating catalogue of good practices:

  • Aspects related to production, formulation, distribution, labelling, packaging, monitoring, quality assurance, and social and behavioural change have been reviewed to generate a catalogue of good practices.

Adopting good practices:

  • This document will help State Governments/Union Territories to adopt good practices in their THR programmes.”

Suggestions made by the report:

  • The NITI Aayog-WFP report made following recommendation:
  • In order to realize the full potential of the THR, the report suggested that all components of this value chain need to function at optimum.
  • It also suggested building a robust system for procurement, standardized process, full coverage, supply chain management & monitoring to ensure complete transparency, sustainability, leverages local ties, and bring a culture of collaboration and trust within a community.

About World Food Programme (WFP):

  • The World Food Programme (WFP) is the food-assistance branch of United Nations.
  • It is the largest humanitarian organization worldwide, that saves lives in times of need and utilises food aid to help people recover from war, natural disasters, and the effects of climate change create a road to peace, stability, and prosperity.
  • It was established in 1961 by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
  • It is headquartered in Rome, Italy.
  • It is also a member of the United Nations Sustainable Development Group (UNSDG), a coalition of UN agencies and organizations aimed at fulfilling the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Indian Policy Current Affairs - July 2022

BIS Performance standards for EV batteries: Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), the national standards-setting body that functions under the consumer affairs ministry, for the first time has created performance standards for batteries being used in electric vehicles (EVs), after the recurring incidents of fire.

Key Details:

  • BIS has published the standard test specifications for lithium-ion traction battery packs and systems (performance testing) for electrically propelled road vehicles.
  • The standard "IS 17855: 2022" has been formulated for lithium-ion traction battery packs and systems of electrically-propelled road vehicles and it has been harmonized with ISO 12405-4: 2018.
  • Two additional battery standards that will be utilized in electric goods and passenger carrying vehicles are also being prepared for publication by BIS.

About IS 17855:2022 standard:

  • The IS 17855:2022 standard was developed after taking into account real-world conditions for electric vehicles, including parked vehicles, battery operation in both high and low temperatures, and battery system shipping (stored).
  • Additionally, this standard incorporates test procedures for battery packs and systems for either high energy application or high-power application, as well as basic performance characteristics, electrical functioning, and reliability.

Fire incidents in electric two-wheeler:

  • The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has been tasked by the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways investigate the electric two-wheeler fire accidents.
  • These defects occurred because the electric two-wheeler manufacturers like Okinawa Autotech, Ola Electric, Pure EV, Jitendra Electric Vehicles, and Boom Motors may have used "lower-grade materials to cut costs".

About Electric Vehicles:

  • Electric vehicles operate on an electric motor and rechargeable batteries.
  • Safety and performance are two essential aspects of these vehicles.
  • Batteries used for electronics or stationary applications have different requirements than those used in vehicle propulsion systems.
  • In the past decade, EVs have increased with respect to visibility and availability in market.
  • Most electric vehicles use lithium-ion batteries because of their high power-to-weight ratio.

Type of EV Batteries:

  • Electric vehicles are powered by battery electric power.
  • Different types of batteries are available in the market.

They include:

  1. Lithium-Ion batteries
  2. Solid state batteries
  3. Nickel-Metal Hydride Batteries
  4. Lead-Acid Batteries
  5. Ultracapacitors

However, Lithium-ion batteries are the most efficient and preferred.

About BIS:

  • Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) is the National Standards Body of India, working under Department of Consumer affairs of Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, Government of India (GoI).
  • BIS by the Bureau of Indian Standards Act, 2016 which came into effect on 12 October 2017.
  • The Act establishes the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) as the National Standards Body of India.
  • The Minister in charge of Ministry is the ex-officio President of BIS.
  • As a National Standards Body, it has 25 members drawn from Central or State Governments, industry, scientific and research institutions, and consumer organisations.

Background:

  • The organisation was formerly the Indian Standards Institution (ISI), set up under the Resolution of the Department of Industries and Supplies No. 1 Std.(4)/45, dated 3 September 1946.
  • The ISI was registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860.

 

Draft National Policy on Persons with Disabilities (PwD): The Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry has invited public feedback on the new draft national policy on persons with disabilities (PwD).

Provisions of the Draft Policy:

  • The draft proposes interventions in disability prevention, education, healthcare, social security and accessibility.
  • According to the draft, the current national programme on prevention of disabilities run by the Health Ministry focused on “traditional causes”, but there were other causes of disability, such as malnourishment, medical negligence, socio-cultural factors and impairment caused by disasters.
  • The Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPD) Act, 2016, also increased the number of disabilities from seven to 21.
  • Policy called for a comprehensive national programme on prevention of disabilities and other medical conditions that could manifest as a disability.
  • According to the draft, one-third of most disabilities in children were preventable, if detected timely and early.
  • The draft policy also said the States and Union Territories should add a provision on compliance with the RPD Act when granting permission or recognition to educational institutions.
  • A module on disability should be included in MBBS and other medical courses.

Modification in personal vehicles:

To make vehicles more accessible, the policy said that the  Ministry of Road Transport and Highways will issue necessary guidelines for making modification in the personal vehicles being used by persons with disabilities as per requirement.

Why is there a need for a new policy?

There is a need for the new policy because of the following reasons:-

  • India had signed the “UNs Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities” in the year 2007.
  • New disability legislation (Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016) was also enacted.
  • India is committed to the Incheon Strategy for Asian and Pacific Decade of Persons with Disabilities, 2013-2022 (“Incheon commitment”)
  • Therefore, the policy document highlights a detailed commitment to education, health, sports and culture, social security, skill development and employment, accessibility and other institutional mechanisms.
  • An absence of any commitment to the political uplift of persons with disabilities makes the draft incomplete.

UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities:

  • UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is an international human rights treaty by United Nations.
  • It seeks to protect the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities (PWDs).
  • Parties to this convention are required to protect, promote, and ensure full enjoyment of human rights by PWDs and ensure that they enjoy full equality under the law.
  • It serves as a major catalyst in global disability rights movement and enables a shift from viewing PWDs as objects of charity, social protection, and medical treatment.
  • It was the first U.N. human rights treaty of 21st century.

Surrogate Advertising:  The Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) under the Consumer Affairs Ministry has notified ‘Guidelines for Prevention of Misleading Advertisements and Endorsements for Misleading Advertisements, 2022.

  • The move comes in the wake of controversy over a perfume ad which was slammed for promoting sexual violence against women.
  • What do the new guidelines say?
  • The new guidelines apply to ads across all media platforms including television, print and online.
  • These guidelines will apply to government advertisements as well.
  • The advertising guidelines for self-regulation issued by the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) will also be in place in a parallel manner.
  • The guidelines have imposed a complete ban on surrogate advertising.
  • It prohibits surrogate advertising and makes it compulsory for celebrities to disclose any stake in the companies and brands they endorse.
  • The definition of a deceptive advertisement is not specified in the guidelines.
  • However, they define non-misleading ads as those with “truthful and honest representation”.
  • They also aim to address the issue of misleading ads and endorsements aired during programming meant for children.
  • The guidelines seek to disqualify ads that promote practices which can have an impact on children’s mental or physical health – commercials implying that children are “likely to be ridiculed or become less popular” if they do not purchase the products.
  • Action against violation of the new guidelines will be taken as per the provisions of the Central Consumer Protection Act (CCPA).

Penalty (derived from the Consumer Protection Act):

  • It prescribes monetary penalties to the tune of Rs 10 lakh for the first offence, which can go up to Rs 50 lakh for subsequent offences, and imprisonment of up to two years under Section 89 of the Act.

What are surrogate advertising?

  • Surrogate advertising is the strategy of advertising a product that cannotbe advertised openly.
  • Advertisers instead create ads and often involve popular celebrities to promote their brands, advertisers use subtle messaging without naming the real product.
  • In India, tobacco products and alcohol cannot be advertised openly under laws like the Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act, 2003, which bans all kinds of direct and indirect advertisements of tobacco products.
  • To circumvent them, surrogate advertising is done.

For instance: A few years ago, the Delhi government pulled up actor Pierce Brosnan for endorsing an Indian pan masala brand. Brosnan claimed he was “cheated” by the brand and unaware of the fact that the “breath freshener” ad was a surrogate ad used to disguise the actual product – areca nut or supari, which the Delhi government argued was a cancer-causing agent.

Fortified Rice Distribution: The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently approved the supply of fortified rice through the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), by 2024.

Key Details:

  • The distribution of fortified rice will be provided through the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) which falls under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), PM POSHAN, Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), and Other Government Welfare Schemes.
  • It will be implemented in a phased manner.
  • The scheme seeks to benefit the kids and mothers who face nutrition deficiency.
  • The Central Government, as part of the food subsidy, is going to bear the entire cost of Rs. 2,700 crore per annum for rice fortification till its full implementation up to June 2024.
  • The Food Corporation of India and other state agencies have already procured 88.65 LMT of fortified rice for distribution and supply.
  • The government plans to make fortified rice available at ration shops.

Implementation:

The government has envisaged three phases for the full implementation of this initiative, by the government has been envisaged through three phases. They are -

  • Phase-I: By March 2022, the covering of PM POSHAN and ICDS in the whole of India.
  • Phase-II: By March 2023, Phase I coverage along with Other Government Welfare Schemes and TPDS in all High Burden Districts of the country on stunting (a total of 291 districts).
  • Phase-III: By March 2024, Phase II along with the remaining districts of the country will be covered.

Background:

  • Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi in his address on the 75th Independence Day (15th August, 2021) made an announcement on Fortification of Rice so as to provide nutrition to every poor person.
  • Earlier, from 2019-20, the Centrally Sponsored Pilot Scheme on Rice Fortification and Distribution through the Public Distribution System was implemented for a three-year term.
  • Under the pilot scheme the states of Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Odisha, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, and Jharkhand had successfully distributed fortified rice in one district per State.

What is Food fortification?

Food fortification or enrichment is the process of adding micronutrients (essential trace elements and vitamins) to food.

It can be carried out by food manufacturers or by governments as a public health policy which aims to reduce the number of people with dietary deficiencies within a population.

Categorization of fortification:

Food fortification can also be categorized according to the stage of addition:

  • Commercial and industrial fortification (wheat flour, corn meal, cooking oils)
  • Biofortification (breeding crops to increase their nutritional value, which can include both conventional selective breeding, and genetic engineering)
  • Home fortification (example: vitamin D drops)

About Rice Fortification:

Rice fortification has been described by Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) as “deliberately increasing the content of essential micronutrients in a food so as to improve the nutritional quality of food and to provide public health benefit with minimal risk to health”.

How are the nutrients mixed with regular rice?

  • Different kind technologies are there to mix micronutrients with regular rice like extrusion, coating and dusting.
  • Extrusion involves production of fortified rice kernels (FRKs) from a mixture with the help of an extruder machine.
  • The fortified rice kernels are mixed with normal rice, which results in production of fortified rice.

Health Benefit Package 2022: A new version of Health Benefit Package (HBP) 2022 under the Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB PM-JAY) scheme was recently been launched by National Health Authority (NHA).

Key Details:

  • HBP 2022 was launched at the two-day Southern Region Review meeting titled 'Ayushman Sangam' organised in Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu by National Health Authority (NHA), the apex body for implementing Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB PM-JAY).
  • NHA has added 265 new procedures in the new version of the NHA Health benefit Package which took the total to 1,949.
  • Under this scheme, differential pricing has been introduced that is based on city type and the level of care.
  • Note: The HBP was revised by the Government earlier in October 2021.

About Ayushman Sangam:

  • Ayushman Sangam was organized by NHA in Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu on April 7 and 8 2022.
  • The main aim of the meeting was to review the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission and the Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY) in the southern states and Union Territories of the country.
  • This was the third edition of the event.
  • It covered Andhra Pradesh, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Kerala, Karnataka, Puducherry, Lakshadweep, Telangana, and Tamil Nadu.
  • The NHA has earlier also hosted similar regional meetings in the country's west and north zones. 

Other announcements at the meeting:

  • On the occasion, the NHA also announced the rollout of the new initiative of patient classification systems through ICD-11 (International classification of disease) and International Classification of Health Intervention for Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY).
  • Diagnosis Related Grouping (DRG) was also pilot launched in the states of Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Kerala, and Meghalaya.
  • AB-PMJAY would also be the first insurance scheme in India to provide a payment mechanism through DRG.

About National Health Authority (NHA):

  • National Health Authority (NHA) is the apex body responsible for implementing India’s flagship public health insurance/assurance scheme called “Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana”.
  • NHA has been entrusted with the role of designing strategy, building technological infrastructure and implementation of “National Digital Health Mission” (NDGM)to create a National Digital Health Eco-system in coordination with different ministries/departments of the Government of India, State Governments, and private sector/civil society organizations.
  • It is governed by a Governing Board chaired by the Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare.
  • It is headed by a Chief Executive Officer (CEO), an officer of the rank of Secretary to the Government of India, who manages its affairs.
  • The CEO is the Ex-Office Member Secretary of the Governing Board.

About State Health Agencies (SHAs):

  • State Health Agencies (SHAs) in the form of a society/trust have been set up by respective States.
  • SHAs have full operational autonomy over the implementation of the scheme in the State including extending the coverage to non SECC beneficiaries.

Green Open Access Rules 2022: The Union Government taking another step forward to accelerate India's renewable energy programmes recently notified the Green Open Access Rules 2022.

Key Highlights:

The Ministry of Power (MoP) stated in its notification of the Electricity (Promoting Renewable Energy Through Green Energy Open Access) Rules, 2022 that every consumer becomes a stakeholder to contribute in achieving India's commitment of 500 GW of Non-fossil fuel by 2030."

The draft rules were laid down in August 2021.

Key points of Green Open Access Rules 2022:

  • These rules are notified to promote the generation, purchase, and consumption of green energy, including energy generated by waste-to-energy plants.
  • The rules enable a simplified procedure for the open access to green power.
  • As per the rules, the consumers can now demand green power from DISCOMS (power distribution companies).
  • The rules provide certainty on open access charges to be levied on green energy open access consumers, which includes transmission charges, wheeling charges, cross-subsidy surcharge and standby charges.
  • It will enable faster approval of Green OA, Uniform Banking, Voluntary purchase of RE power by commercial & industrial consumers, Applicability of OA charges etc.
  • Commercial and Industrial consumers are allowed to purchase green power on voluntarily basis.
  • Captive Consumers can take power under Green Open Access with no minimum limitation.

Green Open Access:

  • As per the rules, the green open access is allowed to any consumer and the limit of open access transaction has been reduced from 1 MW (megawatt) to 100 kW for green energy in order to enable small consumers also to purchase renewable power through open access.
  • This will also enable small consumers to purchase renewable power by means of open access.
  • There will be transparency in approval process of open access applications.
  • According to the rules, the approvals are to be granted in 15 days or else it will be deemed to have been approved subject to fulfillment of technical requirements. 
  • It will be done through a national portal.

Tariff for green energy:

  • The tariff for the green energy shall be determined separately by the appropriate commission,
  • The tariff will consist of average pooled power purchase cost of renewable energy, service charges covering prudent cost of distribution licensee and cross-subsidy charges, in order to provide the green energy to the consumers.
  • The Rules will help to streamline the overall approval process for granting Open Access providing timely approval, bringing uniformity to the application procedure, and improving cash flow predictability for renewable power producers.  
  • It will also bring uniformity in the application procedure.

Cap on increasing the cross-subsidy surcharge:

  • As per the rules, there is a provision for cap on increasing cross-subsidy surcharges and do away with additional surcharge.
  • This in turn will not only incentivizes the consumers to go green but will also addresses the issues that have hindered the growth of open access in India.
  • There shall be a uniform renewable purchase obligation on all obligated entities in the area of a distribution licensees.
  • Consumers will be given certificates if they consume green power.
  • Cross subsidy surcharge and additional surcharge shall not be applicable, if green energy is utilised for production of green hydrogen and green ammonia.

Objective:

  • The main objective is to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and green energy for all.
  • It aims to streamline the overall approval process for granting open access, providing timely approval, bringing uniformity to the application procedure, and improving cash flow predictability for renewable power producers.

Indian Railway Innovation Policy: Union Railways Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw recently launched “Start-Ups for Railways” in Rail Bhavan, New Delhi to improve operational efficiency & safety.

Key Points:

  • This policy document establishes a wide framework for the Ministry of Railways' cooperation with innovators to develop technology, goods, and need-based solutions for Indian Railways.
  • Through this platform, start ups will get an opportunity to connect with the national transporter.
  • Out of more than 100 problem statements received from various divisions, field offices or zones of Indian Railways, eleven problem statements such as rail fracture, headway reduction, etc., have been taken up for this program’s phase 1.

Aim:

  • This Start-Ups policy aims to leverage innovative technologies developed by Indian Startups, MSMEs, Innovators and Entrepreneurs to improve operational efficiency and safety of Indian Railways.

Significance:

  • The policy which is part Indian Railways Innovation Programme, seeks to bring scale and efficiency in the field of operation, maintenance and infrastructure creation through participation of very large and untapped startup ecosystem.
  • The Railway Minister has requested the startups to use this opportunity and ensured them of support in form of 50 percent capital grant, assured market, scale and ecosystem.
  • Through this platform start-ups will get a good opportunity to connect with Railways.

Salient features of Indian Railway Innovation Policy:

  1. Grant up to Rs. 1.5 Crore to innovator on equal sharing basis with provision of milestone-wise payment.
  2. The complete process, starting from floating of problem statement to development of prototype, will be online with defined time line to make it transparent and objective.
  3. The trials of prototypes will be done in Railways. Enhanced funding will be provided to scale up deployment on successful performance of prototypes.
  4. The selection of innovators will be done in a transparent and fair manner through online portal inaugurated by the Railway Minister.
  5. Assured developmental order to innovator.
  6. Developed Intellectual property rights (IPR) will remain with innovator only.
  7. De-centralization of complete product development process at divisional level to avoid delays.

Project Information & Management Module of SWCS: The Ministry of Coal recently launched a Project Information & Management Module of Single Window Clearance System (SWCS).

Key Details:

  • The new IT-enabled facility introduced to SWCS accelerates the country's digitalization of coal mine clearances.
  • Through this, a project proponent can apply for requisite clearances with a single registration interface.
  • It is an innovative endeavour of the ministry to create a platform to obtain various clearances for the operationalization of coal mines in the country.
  • The portal is proposed to map applications and their respective process flows for grant of all the statutory clearances required (covering Central Ministries as well as State Government departments/agencies) for starting of a coal mine.
  • To facilitate ease of doing business, a unified platform of SWCS is designed which includes an already an operational module for approval of mining plan and mine closure plan in a time-bound manner and integration with Parivesh Portal, digital acceptance of objection under Section 8 (1) of Coal Bearing Areas (Acquisition & Development) Act, 1957, Consent Management System of Telangana and West Bengal.
  • The project Information & Management Module caters to digital connect between the mine allocated and the ministry and provides the digital resolution in respect of the respective block.
  • One of the major features of the module is the management of Bank Guarantee, Upfront payment, major clearances, show cause notices and court cases.
  • Various central ministries and state government departments/agencies are issuing the following permissions and other statutory provisions required before a coal mine can begin operations.
  • Approval of Mining Plan and Mine Closure Plan,
  • Grant of Mining Lease,
  • Environment and Forest Clearances, Wild Life Clearance,
  • Safety,
  • Rehabilitation of project affected families,
  • Welfare of workers etc.

Although certain clearances have internet portals, the majority of clearances are still given in person.

Project proponents must approach different administrative ministries and Government departments separately to obtain the necessary clearances, resulting in a delay in coal mine operationalization.

Draft amendments to IT Rules 2021: The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has published a fresh draft of amendments to the Information Technology Rules, 2021 (hereinafter referred to as “IT Rules, 2021”).

  • The draft amendment has been put up for public consultation.

Draft Proposals:

  • The draft proposes to create a government-appointed appeal committee that will be able to veto content-moderation decisions taken by social media intermediaries like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
  • According to the statement in the draft,the Central Government would set up one or more Grievance Appellate Committees, comprising of a chairperson and other members appointed by the Central Government.
  • It essentially means that in case a user is not satisfied with the content moderation decision taken by a company’s grievance officer, they can appeal that decision before the proposed government-appointed appeals committee.
  • Every order passed by the Grievance Appellate Committee shall be complied with by the concerned intermediary.
  • Apart from this, the new proposal also suggests placing additional responsibilities on grievance officers appointed by social media companies.
  • It says that if a user complains about content which is “patently false”, infringes copyright, and threatens the integrity of India, among other things, a grievance officer will have to expeditiously address it within 72 hours.
  • Under current rules, grievance officers have 15 days to act on and dispose of users’ complaints.

Currently, the only recourse a user has against companies’ content decisions is to approach the courts.

What triggered the amendments?

  • MeitY, in a press release said that the proposed amendments will ensure that “Constitutional rights of Indian citizens are not contravened by any big tech platform by ensuring new accountability standards”.
  • The new draft will ensure “actual enforcement of requirements in IT Rules, 2021 in letter and spirit”.

New IT rules 2021:

  • MeitY had released the new IT rules in 2021.
  • It came into effect from May 26, 2021.
  • These rules provide a framework for content regulation by online publishers of current affairs content and news content, as well as curated audio-visual content.
  • These rules were put forward with the aim of making social media and internet companies, that have over five million users.
  • Rules had mandated that social media intermediaries should publish rules to stop posting and sharing of content which is inflammatory, hateful, objectionable, ethnically and racially objectionable etc.
  • Online intermediaries were also asked to appoint nodal officer in India, who can be available round-the-clock in order to help law enforcement agencies.
  • Through these rules, government provided a three-tier grievance redressal mechanism.
  • According to the regulations, big social platforms like Facebook and Twitter are required to make it possible to identify the "original originator" of any information threatening Indian sovereignty, public order, or state security.
  • They are mandated to appoint India-based resident grievance officers as part of their due diligence as ‘intermediaries’ who enjoy legal immunity from third-party content on their platform.
  • These officers are responsible for overseeing the grievance redressal mechanism of complaints from the people who use their services.

Coal Use to Be Banned In NCR: The Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) recently said that The use of coal as a fuel will be banned across the National Capital Region (NCR) from January 1, 2023.

Key Points:

  • Once the ban is in force, coal can no longer be used for industrial or domestic purposes.
  • However, the thermal power plants will be exempted from the ban.
  • From October 1, 2022 onward, a ban on coal use will be applicable in areas where PNG infrastructure and supply is already available.
  • The move is meant to phase out the use of coal as a fuel to deal with concerns of air pollution across the NCR.

Why has the use of coal been banned?

  • According to CAQM, coal dominates industrial fuels in the NCR and industries in the region consume around 1.7 million tonnes of coal annually, “with about 1.4 million tonnes being consumed in six major industrial districts of NCR alone”.
  • According to a study done by The Energy and Resources Institute in 2018, showed source contributions for the year 2016, within the 30% contribution of the industrial sector in PM2.5 level in winter in Delhi, industries using coal, biomass, pet-coke and furnace oil contributed around 14%, while 8% was contributed by the brick manufacturing sector, 6% by power stations, and 2% by stone crushers.

State Food Safety Index: Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya, on the occassion of World Food Safety Day released the 4th State Food Safety Index (SFSI).

Key Points:

  • The report was compiled to assess states’ performance across five food safety categories.
  • The fourth SFSI will aid in the provision of safe and nutritious food to citizens by highlighting the efforts of states and union territories in this regard.

About SFSI:

  • SFSI was started in 2018-19.
  • The main aim of SIFI is creating a competitive and positive change in the food safety ecosystem in the country.
  • The index will help in providing safe and nutritious food to the citizens.
  • The rating is done by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).

Highlights about the Event:

  • The winning State/UTs based on the rating for the year 2021-22 were additionally honoured by the Health Minister for their outstanding performance across five food safety metrics.

Winners:

  • Tamil Nadu was the highest-ranking state among the major states this year, followed by Gujarat and Maharashtra.
  • Goa, on the other hand, was first among the smallest states, followed by Manipur and Sikkim.
  • Meanwhile, Jammu & Kashmir, Delhi, and Chandigarh ranked top, second, and third among the UTs, respectively.
  • 11 winning smart cities of the EatSmart Cities Challenge, which was launched by FSSAI in association with the Smart Cities Mission under the aegis of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) last year to encourage Smart Cities to develop and implement a plan that supports a healthy, safe, and sustainable food environment through adoption of various Eat Right India initiatives were also felicitated.
  • Union Health Minister also launched a number of FSSAI’s unique programmes, including the Eat Right Research Awards and Grants – Phase II.
  • Eat Right Creativity Challenge – Phase III, a school-based competition
  • The publication of several e-books advocating and capturing creative recipes for oil-free cooking and sugar-free desserts.
  • Publication of several resource books, including Khadyanjali, a quarterly journal produced by the FSSAI’s Rajbhasha Division; Guidance Document on Food-Borne Disease Outbreak Investigation and Microbiological Process Control, Sampling and Testing of Fish and Fishery Products, and others.
  • The logo for ‘Ayurveda Aahar’ was also unveiled on the occasion.

About World Food Safety Day:

  • World Food Safety Day is observed on June 7.
  • This day is observed to draw attention and inspire actions to help prevent, detect, and manage food borne risks, contributing to food safety, human health, economic prosperity, agriculture, market access, tourism, and sustainable development.
  • The theme for 2022 is “Safer food, greater health.”

India’s healthcare system:

  • In recent years, India’s healthcare system has seen a complete transformation.
  • The government is working to ensure residents’ health security by focusing on the primary, secondary, and tertiary healthcare sectors.
  • Under the National Health Mission (NHM), some of these measures include the establishment of ‘Health and Wellness Centers’ and the reinforcement of district hospitals.
  • The logo for ‘Ayurveda Aahar’ was also unveiled on the occasion of World Food Safety Day.
  • The logo is designed to provide the company a distinct identity and make it easier to recognize.

SHRESTHA Scheme: The SHRESHTHA (Scheme for Residential Education for Students in High Schools in Targeted Areas) scheme was launched by Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Dr Virendra Kumar on June 3, 2022.

About SHRESHTHA scheme:

  • This scheme was launched especially for Scheduled Castes because Scheduled Castes have historically been treated unfairly in a society that is hierarchically structured, and because education is the most effective means of empowering a group.
  • This initiative will provide a level playing field to the poor and meritorious SC students.

Aim:

  • It was launched with the aim of providing quality education and opportunities to 3,000 students, who belongs to scheduled caste category.
  • It envisions providing high-quality, free residential education to deserving SC students in grades 9 through 12 who come from SC areas.

Who will be covered under the scheme?

  • This scheme will cover students whose parental annual income is up to Rs. 2.5 Lakh per annum.

Selection of students:

  • Through the National Entrance Test, approximately 3000 candidates will be chosen into SHRESHTA (NETS).
  • They will be admitted into the best private residential CBSE-affiliated school for classes 9 and 11 so they can finish their education and move on to the 12th grade.
  • The best performing private residential-CBSE affiliated schools will be selected on the basis of specific parameters.
  • The entire cost of school fee and hostel fee as well as food charges will be borne by the government.

Maximum limits set to cover all these expenses per student are:

  • 9th class: 1,00,000 Rs p.a.
  • 10th class: 1,10,000 Rs p.a.
  • 11th class: 1,25,000 Rs p.a.
  • 12th class: 1,35,000 Rs p.a.

Provision of Bridge Course:

“Provision for bridge course” is another feature of this scheme.

  • This feature will help students in adapting to the new school environment.
  • This course will be provided for 3 months to students from state schools and rural areas.

PM Shri Schools: Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan recently announced that the Centre is planning to set up "PM Shri Schools".

Key Highlights:

  • The PM Shri Schools will be aimed at preparing students for future and will be the laboratory of new National Education Policy (NEP).
  • This announcement was made by Pradhan while addressing the two-day National Education Minister's Conference in Gandhinagar, Gujarat.
  • This event was attended by the education ministers of 32 union territories and states while Tamil Nadu boycotted this meeting.
  • The Education Minister urged the Indian states and UTs to share their feedback regarding the education ecosystem with the aim of making futuristic benchmark standards in the form of PM Shri Schools.
  • He stated that the next 25 years were very important to establish the country as a knowledge economy showing commitment to global welfare.

Structure of the PM Shri Schools:

  • PM Shri schools will be fully equipped to prepare students for the future.
  • These state-of-the-art schools will be the "laboratory of NEP 2020.
  • The PM Shri Schools will also help bolster the education system across the country.
  • The minister spoke about the 5+3+3+4 approach of the NEP covering pre-school to secondary school, while emphasising on Early Childhood Care and Education Programme (ECCE), teacher training & adult education, integration of skill development with school education and prioritizing learning in the mother tongue.
  • He said that these are steps for preparing global citizens of the 21st century.

Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order (Amendment) Bill, 2022: The Lok Sabha recently passed a Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order (Amendment) Bill, 2022.

Key Points:

  • The bill seeks to amend the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order, 1950 to include the Darlong community as a sub-tribe of the Kuki tribe on the list of Scheduled Tribes of Tripura.
  • The Bill proposes “Darlong" community as a sub-tribe of "Kuki" in the list of Scheduled Tribes.
  • Tribal Affairs Minister Arjun Munda, who introduced the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order (Amendment) Bill, 2022, in the Lok Sabha said that the Union government was working towards betterment of living conditions of the tribal communities.

About Darlongs:

  • Darlongs is a small community of around 11,000 people living in the State of Tripura.
  • Despite being a small community, Darlongs have made their mark in different fields including education, public service, music, art and culture.
  • The prestigious Padma Shri was also awarded to a tribal musicologist and Rosem (a tribal instrument) maestro Thanga Darlong a few years ago for his contributions to culture.
  • Darlongs, despite being Scheduled Tribes, were never given ST certificates.
  • They were regarded a generic tribe under the Kuki community, and were handed their tribal certificates as members of ‘Kuki’ community.
  • This identity crisis among them culminated in the demand for a separate statutory identity of their own in 1995.
  • In 2016, a bill was introduced in Parliament to add Darlongs to the list of STs as a sub-tribe of the Kuki community.

Tribal Population in Tripura:

  • Tripura houses 20 tribal communities including Tripuri,Uchai, Riang, Jamatia, Noatia, Chakma, Mog, Lushai, Kuki, Halam, Munda, Kaur, Orang, Santal, Bhil, Bhutia, Chaimal, Garo, Khasia, and Lepcha.
  • The Halam community has several small tribal clans within it. Many of these are linguistically endangered groups like Karbongs, Bongcher, etc.
  • They live in the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) formed on 18th January 1982.
  • The tribal council encompasses about 70% of Tripura's total land area and is home to roughly 30% of the state's people.
  • A large majority of them still depend on slash and burn cultivation and traditional livelihood for sustenance.

Status of Scheduled Tribes in India:

  • As per Census-1931, Schedule tribes are termed as "backward tribes” living in the "Excluded" and "Partially Excluded" areas.
  • The Government of India (GoI) Act of 1935 called for the first time for representatives of "backward tribes" in provincial assemblies.
  • The criteria for recognition of Scheduled Tribes are not defined in the Constitution, hence the definition from the 1931 Census was utilized in the initial years after independence.
  • However, Article 366(25) of the Constitution only provides process to define Scheduled Tribes: “Scheduled Tribes means such tribes or tribal communities or parts of or groups within such tribes or tribal communities as are deemed under Article 342 to be Scheduled Tribes for the purposes of this Constitution.”
  • As per Article 342 (1), the President may after consultation with the Governor specify the tribal communities as Scheduled Tribes.
  • As per Article 342 (2), Parliament may by law include in or exclude any tribal community from the list of Scheduled Tribes specified in a notification issued under clause (1).
  • The Fifth Schedule lays out provision for Administration and Control of Scheduled Areas and Scheduled Tribes in states other than Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram.
  • The Sixth Schedule of the Constitution deals with the administration of the tribal areas in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram.

What are the recent Steps taken by the Government of India for the betterment of the tribal population?

The steps taken by the Government of India for the betterment of the tribal population are as follows:

National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST):

  • The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) was established by inserting a new Article 338A in the Constitution through the Constitution (89th Amendment) Act, 2003.

Vanbandhu Kalyan Yojana (VKY):

  • Vanbandhu Kalyan Yojana (VKY) was launched with an aim to create enabling environment for need based and outcome oriented holistic development of the tribal people.

Adi Adarsh Gram Yojana:

  • Adi Adarsh Gram Yojana was implemented for integrated development in tribal villages spanning from health, education and drinking water.

STC funds:

  • There have been gradual and a steady increase in Scheduled Tribe component (STC) funds since the last few years.
  • A scheme of nearly Rs 7,000 crore to provide broadband and 4G connectivity in tribal hamlets under the STC funds was recently introduced by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs.

Eklavya Model Schools:

  • Eklavya Model Schools was set up to provide quality education to ST children in remote areas so that they may pursue higher and professional education and get employment in various sectors.

Scholarship Scheme:

  • Around 30 lakh ST students are covered for financial help through DBT mode under the scholarship schemes.

Tribal Healthcare:

  • The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) was recently allocated funds to conduct research in the field of tribal healthcare.

Livelihood opportunities:

Several schemes have been introduced to support marketing and development of activities for livelihood such as -

  • The Van Dhan Scheme
  • Institutional Support For Development And Marketing Of Tribal Products/Produce
  • Marketing Of Minor Forest Produce (MFP) Through Minimum Support Price (MSP)

Changes in AFSPA: The Central Government recently announced its decision to reduce disturbed areas under Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in the states of Nagaland, Assam and Manipur after decades.

Key Highlights:

  • This informed was given by Union Home Minister Amit Shah on March 31, 2022.
  • The decision will result in considerable reduction in areas under AFSPA in Assam, Nagaland and Manipur from April 1,2022.
  • However, AFSPA has not been completely removed.

AFSPA in India:

  • The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act was initially promulgated by the British to suppress the Quit India movement in 1942.
  • The first Prime Minister of India Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru decided to retain the Act and brought in an ordinance and notified it as the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958.
  • The AFSPA Act was initially applicable to the Naga Hills, which was then part of Assam.
  • Then it expanded to all seven states of the North-East - Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram and even Chandigarh, Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). 
  • It was enacted with the aim of bringing the situation under control in all the conflict-hit areas of the country.

Special Powers to Armed Forces under AFSPA Act:

  • The AFSPA act empowers security forces to use any means that is deemed necessary to maintain public order in the states where AFSPA is applicable.
  • Section 4 of AFSPA Act 1958 accords special powers to the armed forces, authorising the security forces to arrest anyone without a warrant, open fire, enter and search any property without any warrant.
  • Section 6 of AFSPA Act grants immunity to the security forces from prosecution or any other legal proceedings.

What are the Disturbed Areas?

  • A disturbed area is an area that is declared by notification under Section 3 of the AFSPA.
  • An area can be disturbed due to differences or disputes between members of different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities.
  • As per Section 3, it can be invoked in places where “the use of armed forces in aid of the civil power is necessary”.

Who can declare/notify such areas?

  • The Central Government or the Governor of the State or administrator of the Union Territory (UT) has the authority to declare the whole or part of the State or Union Territory as a disturbed area.
  • A suitable notification would have to be made in the Official Gazette.
  • Once declared ‘disturbed’, the region has to maintain status quo for a minimum of three months, according to The Disturbed Areas (Special Courts) Act, 1976.

Changes in AFSPA:

In Assam:

  • The disturbed area notification has been in force in the whole of Assam since 1990.
  • Now, AFSPA will be removed from 23 districts of Assa while in one district it will be applied partially with effect from April 1st.

In Manipur:

  • The AFSPA has been in force in the whole of Manipur except the Imphal Municipality area since 2004.
  • Now, the AFSPA jurisdiction will be removed from 15 police stations in 6 districts with effect from April 1st.

In Nagaland:

  • AFSPA has been in force in the whole of Nagaland since 1995.
  • Now, the jurisdiction of AFSPA will be removed in phased manner From 15 police stations in 7 districts of Nagaland.

In Arunachal Pradesh:

  • In Arunachal Pradesh, AFSPA will be applicable in only 3 districts along with the jurisdiction of two police stations in another district.

The demand to repeal AFSPA:

The demand gained momentum in Nagaland after 6 coal mine laborers were killed in an ambush by security personnel while they were returning to their village of Oting.

  • In Nagaland in 2021, security officers opened fire on six civilians travelling in a truck, mistaking them for militants from the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN).
  • The citizens, after being anguished by the loss began to protest and widespread violence ensued.
  • The Centre later formed a five-member committee to investigate the state of Nagaland's withdrawal of the AFSPA law.
  • Home Minister Amit Shah also held key meetings with the respective Chief Ministers of the states.

Extension of PM-GKAY: The Union Cabinet, on March 26, 2022, extended the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PM-GKAY) by another six months till September 2022 (Phase VI).

Key Highlights:

  • This decision was taken Keeping in view the continuous need to support the food-security of poor and and vulnerable sections of society.
  • The Phase-V of PM-GKAY scheme was to end in March 2022.

About PM-GKAY:

  1. The PM-GKAY has been under implementation since April 2020, as the largest food security program in the world.
  2. This scheme is a part of Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package (PMGKP) and was originally introduced in the first lockdown during the initial onset of the COVID pandemic providing free food grains to the affected population.
  3. Government on this day in March 2020 had announced the distribution of additional free-of-cost foodgrains to about 80 Crore National Food Security Act (NFSA) beneficiaries at the scale of 5 Kg per person per month under the scheme.
  4. Its nodal Ministry is the Ministry of Finance.
  5. Phase-I and Phase-II of this scheme was operational from April to June, 2020 and July to November, 2020 respectively. Phase-III of the scheme was operational from May to June, 2021.
  6. Phase-IV of the scheme is currently operational for July-November, 2021 months.
  7. Phase-V of this scheme was again extended from December 2021 to March 2022.

Note: Under the Phases I to V, the food ministry had allocated a total of about 759 lakh tonnes of foodgrains to the States/UTs, which is equivalent to about Rs 2.6 lakh crore in food subsidy.

PM-GKAY Salient Features:

  1. This policy would cover 80 crore people, i.e., nearly two-thirds of the Indian population.
  2. Under the Insurance Scheme, a cover of Rs 50 lakh will be provided for each health professional combating COVID-19.
  3. For the next three months, 80 crore underprivileged individuals would receive 5 kilogramme wheat or rice and 1 kg of selected legumes for free.
  4. 20 crore women Jan Dhan account holders to get Rs 500 per month for next three months.
  5. Increase in MNREGA wage to Rs 202 a day from Rs 182 to benefit 13.62 crore families.
  6. Government to front-load Rs 2,000 paid to farmers in first week of April under existing PM Kisan Yojana to benefit 8.7 crore farmers.

Expenditure:

  • Government of India (GoI) will bear all expenditure of over Rs. 26,000 crore on account of food subsidy.
  • Central assistance will be provided to states/UTs on account of intra-state transportation etc.

Abolishment of NOCC Charges by DoT: The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has recently abolished the network operation and control center (NOCC) charges.

Key Points:

  • The order shall be effective from April 1, 2022.
  • DoT has removed The NOCC charges for the use of space segments for all services like VSAT, GMPCS (satellite phone service), NLD (national long distance) and other telecom licensees having unified licence or standalone license.
  • The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) levied Rs 21 lakh per transponder every year for 36 MHz of spectrum on a pro-rata basis.
  • Apart from this, the government also charged Rs 6,000 for every trial of antenna that is used for receiving and transmitting signals.

Why the NOCC charge is abolished?

  • DoT has abolished the NOCC charge to provide a fillip to upcoming satellite broadband companies and also to ensure more competition and growth in the Indian satellite broadband market.

Benefit:

  • As satellite communication companies no longer have to pay the NOCC for transponder bandwidth, Indians can expect lower broadband-from-space prices.

What is the NOCC charge?

  • The Network operation and control center (NOCC) charge is a charge levied on the use of space segments by telecom service providers for satellite telephony, broadband, etc.

About NOCC:

  • The NOCC levy regime was introduced in 2003.
  • The NOCC was created under the DoT to control the transmissions from the ground segment (satellite earth stations) along with the master control facility under the Department of Space to manage the operation of satellites in orbit.

In India, which companies are aiming to provide satellite broadband services?

  • Currently, Sunil Bharti Mittal’s OneWeb and Elon Musk’s Starlink are the providers planning to launch satellite broadband services in India using low-earth orbit satellites.
  • Reliance Jio, in February had announced that it has formed a joint-venture with Luxembourgish satellite-based content connectivity solutions provider SES, and plans to deliver satellite broadband services across India.

National Youth Policy: The Central Government has recently prepared a new National Youth Policy (NYP).

Key Highlights:

  • The NYP has been prepared after reviewing the existing National Youth Policy, 2014.
  • The Department of Youth Affairs has sought suggestions, comments and views regarding the draft of the NYP from all stakeholders across the nation.
  • The suggestions, as well as the comments regarding the new draft policy, must be sent within 45 days (by 13th of June 2022).

Key Points of NYP:

  • The draft policy envisages a ten-year vision for youth development that the country seeks to achieve by 2030.
  • It is aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals and serves to unlock the potential of the youth.
  • It seeks to catalyze widespread action on youth development across the five following priority areas:-

1.Education

2.Employment & entrepreneurship

3.Youth leadership & development

4.Social justice

5.Health, fitness & sports

  • The priority areas have been identified under the principle of social inclusion.
  • This will help in achieving equitable progress by including the country’s most marginalized sections.

Who is responsible for drafting and implementing Draft National Sports Policy?

  • Department of Youth Affairs, Ministry of Sports is responsible for drafting and implantation of the Draft National Sports Policy.

About National Youth Policy-2014:

  • The National Youth Policy-2014 (NYP-2014) was introduced by the Union Cabinet replacing NYP-2003.
  • The holistic vision of NYP-2014 for the youth of India is “to empower the youth of the country to achieve their full potential, and through them enable India to find its rightful place in the community of nations”.
  • In order to achieve this Vision, all stakeholders must work towards meeting 5 key objectives.
  • This requires specific action in one or more of 11 priority areas, identified as important for youth development.

 The priority areas are -

1.Education,

2.Skill development and employment,

3.Entrepreneurship,

4.Health and healthy lifestyle,

5.Sports,

6.Promotion of social values,

7.Community engagement,

8.Participation in politics and governance,

9.Youth engagement,

10.Inclusion and

11.Social justice.

  • It would result in the development of an educated and healthy young population, who are not only economically productive, but are also socially responsible citizens contributing to the task of nation-building.
  • It will cover the entire country catering the needs of all youth in the age-group of 15-29 years, which constitutes 27.5 per cent of the population according to Census-2011, that is about 33 crore persons.
  • It will replace NYP-2003, to take care of developments since 2003 and future policy imperatives.

Draft National Data Governance Framework Policy: The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) recently released the revised Draft National Data Governance Framework Policy (NDGFP) to mobilize non-personal data of citizens for use by both public and private entities to improve services.

Highlights:

  • The Ministry has invited inputs on it before June 11th, 2022.
  • NDGFP replaces Draft India Data Accessibility and Use Policy, 2022.
  • In February 2022, ‘Draft India Data Accessibility and Use Policy, 2022’ was opened for public consultation but it was strongly criticized by many.
  • It proposed allowing the licensing and sale of public data by the government to the private sector.

Key Points:

  • This draft policy proposes the launch of a non-personal data based India datasets programme and addresses the methods and rules to ensure that non-personal and anonymised data from both government and private entities are safely accessible by the research and innovation ecosystem.
  • The Framework will be of interest to artificial intelligence (AI) start-ups, AI research entities, and government departments.
  • It would also speed up the transition of digital government and digitization of government with common standards, rules and guidelines for data storage and management across all departments.
  • The draft proposes the setting up of an 'India Data Management Office (IDMO)', which shall be responsible for framing, managing and periodically reviewing and revising the policy.

About IDMO:

  • The India Data Management Office (IDMO) will be set up under the Digital India Corporation (DIC) under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.
  • According to the draft, the IDMO shall also be responsible for developing rules, standards, and guidelines under this policy.
  • IDMO will also prescribe data anonymization standards for both government and private entities that deal with data.
  • This is to ensure that informational privacy is well maintained.
  • It is allowed to charge user fees for its maintenance/ service.

Scholarship for PM CARES Children: Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently launched the Scholarship for PM CARES Children Scheme.

Key Highlights:

  • He announced the benefits under the PM-CARES for Children Scheme 2022 while he was addressing the students around the country on 30 May 2022 via video conferencing.
  • A passbook of PM CARES for Children, and health card under Ayushman Bharat – Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana was also handed over to the children during the programme.
  • The event was held as a part of a massive public outreach campaign, which started from May 30 and will continue till June 14.
  • The campaign has been started by the central government to mark the eighth anniversary of the Modi government.

About PM CARES for Children Scheme:

  • PM Modi had launched the PM CARES for Children Scheme on 29 May, 2021.
  • This initiative was launched with an aim to provide financial assistance to support such children who have lost both the Parents or legal Guardian or Adoptive Parents or Surviving Parent to COVID-19 pandemic during the period from 11 March 2020 to 28 February 2022.

The objective of the PM CARES scheme:

  • The objective of the Scheme is to ensure comprehensive care and protection of Children in a sustained manner, and enable their well being through health insurance, empower them through education and equip them for self-sufficient existence with financial support on reaching 23 years of age.
  • The portal is a single-window system which facilitates the approval process and all other assistance for children.

About Scholarship for PM CARES Children:

  • Under the PM CARES for Children Scheme, in line with the Scholarship for PM CARES Children, the Department of Social Justice & Empowerment, Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment has decided to provide scholarship assistance to such Children who have lost both the Parents or legal Guardian or Adoptive Parents or Surviving Parent to COVID-19 pandemic to continue their education without any hindrance.
  • Accordingly, a new Scheme was formulated for the purpose namely; SCHOLARSHIP FOR PM CARES CHILDREN as a Central Sector Scheme.
  • A monthly allowance of Rs. 1,000 and an annual academic allowance of Rs. 8,000 would be provided under the Scheme Scholarship, which would cover the full cost of tuition, books, uniforms, shoes, and other educational supplies for each kid.
  • The Scholarship will be disbursed through DBT to the Children from Class 1std  until they pass out the 12 std Class.

 

Indian Policy Current Affairs - June 2022

AVGC Promotion Task Force: The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has constituted an Animation, Visual Effects, Gaming and Comics (AVGC) Promotion Task Force to promote the AVGC sector in the country.

Key Highlights:

  • Headed by I&B Secretary Apoorva Chandra, the task force will submit its first action plan within 90 days.
  • This sector will aid in the creation of jobs, market development, and the promotion of diverse activities in order to expand the global reach of the Indian industry.
  • According to I&B Ministry, the country’s AVGC industry has the potential to be the torchbearer of Create in India and Brand India.
  • India has the potential of capturing 5% of the global market share in this sector by 2025.

Composition of the task force:

  • The AVGC promotion task force will be headed by secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
  • It comprises Secretaries of Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade.
  • The AVGC promotion task force also includes State Governments of Karnataka, Maharashtra, Telangana;.
  • The task force also has representation heads of education bodies such as All India Council of Technical Education, National Council of Educational Research and Training  and representatives of industry bodies like Media and Entertainment Skills Council (MESC), the  Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and , Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

Mandate:

The Terms of Reference of this newly constituted task force include:

  • Framing a national AVGC policy.
  • Recommend a national curriculum structure for this sector's graduate, post-graduation, and doctoral courses in this sector.
  • Facilitate skilling initiatives in collaboration with vocational training centres, academic institutions, and the industry.
  • Boost employment opportunities
  • Facilitate promotion and market development activities to extend global reach of Indian AVGC Industry
  • Enhance exports and recommend incentives to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in AVGC sector.

Background:

  • Earlier, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had announced the creation of AVGC promotion task force in the Union Budget 2022-23.

Central Tibetan Relief Committee (CTRC): The Union government recently extended ₹40 crore relief to Dalai Lama’s Central Tibetan Committee (CTRC) for another five years, up to fiscal year 2025-26.

Key Highlights:

  • The scheme was extended after the Galwan incident in June 2020 where 20 soldiers were killed in violent clashes with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Eastern Ladakh.
  • An amount of ₹8 crore to CTRC has been released for the year 2021-22 by the government.

About the scheme to provide grants-in-aid CTRC:

  • The scheme provides for an annual grant of ₹8 crore to CTRC to meet the administrative expenses of Settlement Offices and social welfare expenses for Tibetan refugees staying in Tibetan settlements spread across 12 States/UTs in the country.
  • The scheme to provide grants-in-aid CTRC was launched in 2015 the NDA government.
  • Under the new policy the scheme provides grant-in-aid of ₹40 crore to CTRC to meet the administrative and social welfare activities expenses of 36 Tibetan settlement offices in different States.

About Central Tibetan Relief Committee (CTRC):

  • Central Tibetan Relief Committee (CTRC) was formed in 1981 and registered as a Charitable Society under the Indian Societies Registration Act XXI of 1860.

Objective of CTRC:

  • The main objective of the committee is to coordinate Individual, Voluntary Agencies and Indian Government’s efforts to rehabilitate and settle Tibetan Refugees.
  • It also assists and promotes the upliftment of the needy, backward, poor, underprivileged individuals and making the Tibetan settlement viable and sustainable.
  • It is dedicated to preserving the cultural and religious heritage of Tibet and building and maintaining sustainable, democratic communities in exile.
  • CTRC members consist of a representative from each 53 settlements, especially India, Nepal and Bhutan.
  • It is dependent on generous international assistance from governments, especially India, Nepal and Bhutan, philanthropic organizations and individuals.
  • All the CTRC activities are carried out with consent and support from the Board of Directors and approval from TPiE (Tibetan Parliament in Exile).

About TPiE:

  • The Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile (TPiE) is the unicameral and highest legislative organ of the Central Tibetan Administration, the government-in-exile of the Tibet Autonomous Region of China.
  • TPiE is headquartered in Dharamsala, in the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh.
  • The Speaker and a Deputy Speaker head the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile.
  • The 16th TPiE had 45 members:
  • 10 representatives from each of the traditional provinces of Tibetan – U-Tsang, Dhotoe and Dhomey
  • 2 from each of the four schools of Tibetan Buddhism and the pre-Buddhist Bon religion
  • 2 representing each of the Tibetan Communities in North America and Europe.
  • 1 from Australasia and Asia (excluding India, Nepal and Bhutan).

What is Kashag?

  • The Kashag (Cabinet) is Central Tibetan Administration’s highest executive office and comprise seven members.
  • It is headed by the Sikyong (political leader) who is directly elected by the exiled Tibetan population.
  • Sikyong subsequently nominates his seven Kalons (ministers) and seeks the parliament’s approval.
  • The Kashag’s term is for five years.

Is TPiE officially recognized by any country?

  • TPiE is not officially recognised officially by any country, including India.
  • A number of countries including the United States of America (USA) and European nations deal directly with the Sikyong and other Tibetan leaders through various forums.
  • The TPiE claims that its democratically elected status aids it in managing Tibetan issues and bringing the Tibetan issue to the attention of the international community.
  • Lobsang Sangay, the current Sikyong, was one of the guests at Prime Minister Narendra Modi's inauguration ceremony in May 2014, probably a first.

Tibetan Constitution:

  • The Central Tibetan Administration exists and functions on the basis of the Constitution of the Tibetan government called ‘The Charter of the Tibetans in Exile’.
  • In 1991, The Constitution Redrafting Committee instituted by the Dalai Lama prepared the Charter for Tibetans in exile.
  • The Dalai Lama approved it on 28 June 1991.

 Who can vote?

  • Only Tibetans living outside of the subcontinent will be able to vote for their MPs based on their current location.
  • Aside from MPs, the President will be chosen by the voters.

 Tibetans refugees in India:

  • More than one lakh Tibetan refugees are settled in India.
  • Major concentration of the Tibetan refugees is in Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, West Bengal and Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Tibetan emigration has three separate stages.

1)The first stage was in 1959 following the 14th Dalai Lama’s escape to Dharamshala in India, in fear of persecution from China’s People’s Liberation Army.

2)The second stage occurred in the 1980s when China partially opened Tibet to foreigners.

3)The third stage began in 1996 and continues today although with less frequency.

  • The Indian government decided to give them asylum as well as assistance towards temporary settlement.

Tibetans abroad:

  • Over 1 lakh Tibetans are settled across India, while the remaining are settled in the United States, Mexico, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, France, Mongolia, Germany, United Kingdom, Switzerland and various other countries.

About Tibet:

  • Tibet is a region in East Asia covering much of the Tibetan Plateau.
  • It is an autonomous region of China.
  • It's nicknamed the “Roof of the World” for its towering peaks.
  • It shares Mt. Everest with Nepal.
  • It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groups such as Monpa, Tamang, Qiang, Sherpa and Lhoba peoples and is now also inhabited by considerable numbers of Han Chinese and Hui people.
  • No Chinese government had jurisdiction over what is now China's Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) from 1912 until the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949.
  • The region maintained its autonomy until 1951 when following the Battle of Chamdo.
  • Tibet was occupied and incorporated into the People's Republic of China, and the previous Tibetan government was abolished in 1959 after a failed uprising.
  • At present, China governs western and central Tibet as the Tibet Autonomous Region while the eastern areas are now mostly ethnic autonomous prefectures within Sichuan, Qinghai and other neighbouring provinces.
  • The capital of Tibet is Lhasa.
  • The currency used here is Renminbi.

What are the standards for fortification?

Under the Ministry’s guidelines, 10 g of FRK must be blended with 1 kg of regular rice.

According to FSSAI norms, 1 kg of fortified rice will contain the following:

  • Iron (28 mg-42.5 mg),
  • Folic acid (75-125 microgram), and
  • Vitamin B-12 (0.75-1.25 microgram).

Rice may also be fortified with -

  • Zinc (10 mg-15 mg),
  • Vitamin A (500-750 microgram RE),
  • Vitamin B-1 (1 mg-1.5 mg),
  • Vitamin B-2 (1.25 mg-1.75 mg),
  • Vitamin B-3 (12.5 mg-20 mg) and
  • Vitamin B-6 (1.5 mg-2.5 mg) per kg.

Why is fortified rice required?

  • Due to the high level of prevalence of malnutrition, particularly among women and children, food fortification has been identified as one of the most effective ways to combat the disease.
  • As rice is considered to be one of India's most staple diets, therefore fortifying rice with micronutrients is an option to supplement the poor man's diet.

 

Indian Policy Current Affairs - April 2022

Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order (Amendment) Bill, 2022: The Lok Sabha recently passed a Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order (Amendment) Bill, 2022.

Key Points:

  • The bill seeks to amend the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order, 1950 to include the Darlong community as a sub-tribe of the Kuki tribe on the list of Scheduled Tribes of Tripura.
  • The Bill proposes “Darlong" community as a sub-tribe of "Kuki" in the list of Scheduled Tribes.
  • Tribal Affairs Minister Arjun Munda, who introduced the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order (Amendment) Bill, 2022, in the Lok Sabha said that the Union government was working towards betterment of living conditions of the tribal communities.

About Darlongs:

  • Darlongs is a small community of around 11,000 people living in the State of Tripura.
  • Despite being a small community, Darlongs have made their mark in different fields including education, public service, music, art and culture.
  • The prestigious Padma Shri was also awarded to a tribal musicologist and Rosem (a tribal instrument) maestro Thanga Darlong a few years ago for his contributions to culture.
  • Darlongs, despite being Scheduled Tribes, were never given ST certificates.
  • They were regarded a generic tribe under the Kuki community, and were handed their tribal certificates as members of ‘Kuki’ community.
  • This identity crisis among them culminated in the demand for a separate statutory identity of their own in 1995.
  • In 2016, a bill was introduced in Parliament to add Darlongs to the list of STs as a sub-tribe of the Kuki community.

Tribal Population in Tripura:

  • Tripura houses 20 tribal communities including Tripuri,Uchai, Riang, Jamatia, Noatia, Chakma, Mog, Lushai, Kuki, Halam, Munda, Kaur, Orang, Santal, Bhil, Bhutia, Chaimal, Garo, Khasia, and Lepcha.
  • The Halam community has several small tribal clans within it. Many of these are linguistically endangered groups like Karbongs, Bongcher, etc.
  • They live in the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) formed on 18th January 1982.
  • The tribal council encompasses about 70% of Tripura's total land area and is home to roughly 30% of the state's people.
  • A large majority of them still depend on slash and burn cultivation and traditional livelihood for sustenance.

Status of Scheduled Tribes in India:

  • As per Census-1931, Schedule tribes are termed as "backward tribes” living in the "Excluded" and "Partially Excluded" areas.
  • The Government of India (GoI) Act of 1935 called for the first time for representatives of "backward tribes" in provincial assemblies.
  • The criteria for recognition of Scheduled Tribes are not defined in the Constitution, hence the definition from the 1931 Census was utilized in the initial years after independence.
  • However, Article 366(25) of the Constitution only provides process to define Scheduled Tribes: “Scheduled Tribes means such tribes or tribal communities or parts of or groups within such tribes or tribal communities as are deemed under Article 342 to be Scheduled Tribes for the purposes of this Constitution.”
  • As per Article 342 (1), the President may after consultation with the Governor specify the tribal communities as Scheduled Tribes.
  • As per Article 342 (2), Parliament may by law include in or exclude any tribal community from the list of Scheduled Tribes specified in a notification issued under clause (1).
  • The Fifth Schedule lays out provision for Administration and Control of Scheduled Areas and Scheduled Tribes in states other than Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram.
  • The Sixth Schedule of the Constitution deals with the administration of the tribal areas in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram.

What are the recent Steps taken by the Government of India for the betterment of the tribal population?

The steps taken by the Government of India for the betterment of the tribal population are as follows:

National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST):

  • The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) was established by inserting a new Article 338A in the Constitution through the Constitution (89th Amendment) Act, 2003.

Vanbandhu Kalyan Yojana (VKY):

  • Vanbandhu Kalyan Yojana (VKY) was launched with an aim to create enabling environment for need based and outcome oriented holistic development of the tribal people.

Adi Adarsh Gram Yojana:

  • Adi Adarsh Gram Yojana was implemented for integrated development in tribal villages spanning from health, education and drinking water.

STC funds:

  • There have been gradual and a steady increase in Scheduled Tribe component (STC) funds since the last few years.
  • A scheme of nearly Rs 7,000 crore to provide broadband and 4G connectivity in tribal hamlets under the STC funds was recently introduced by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs.

Eklavya Model Schools:

  • Eklavya Model Schools was set up to provide quality education to ST children in remote areas so that they may pursue higher and professional education and get employment in various sectors.

Scholarship Scheme:

  • Around 30 lakh ST students are covered for financial help through DBT mode under the scholarship schemes.

Tribal Healthcare:

  • The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) was recently allocated funds to conduct research in the field of tribal healthcare.

Livelihood opportunities:

Several schemes have been introduced to support marketing and development of activities for livelihood such as -

  • The Van Dhan Scheme
  • Institutional Support For Development And Marketing Of Tribal Products/Produce
  • Marketing Of Minor Forest Produce (MFP) Through Minimum Support Price (MSP)

Changes in AFSPA: The Central Government recently announced its decision to reduce disturbed areas under Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in the states of Nagaland, Assam and Manipur after decades.

Key Highlights:

  • This informed was given by Union Home Minister Amit Shah on March 31, 2022.
  • The decision will result in considerable reduction in areas under AFSPA in Assam, Nagaland and Manipur from April 1,2022.
  • However, AFSPA has not been completely removed.

AFSPA in India:

  • The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act was initially promulgated by the British to suppress the Quit India movement in 1942.
  • The first Prime Minister of India Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru decided to retain the Act and brought in an ordinance and notified it as the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958.
  • The AFSPA Act was initially applicable to the Naga Hills, which was then part of Assam.
  • Then it expanded to all seven states of the North-East - Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram and even Chandigarh, Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). 
  • It was enacted with the aim of bringing the situation under control in all the conflict-hit areas of the country.

Special Powers to Armed Forces under AFSPA Act:

  • The AFSPA act empowers security forces to use any means that is deemed necessary to maintain public order in the states where AFSPA is applicable.
  • Section 4 of AFSPA Act 1958 accords special powers to the armed forces, authorising the security forces to arrest anyone without a warrant, open fire, enter and search any property without any warrant.
  • Section 6 of AFSPA Act grants immunity to the security forces from prosecution or any other legal proceedings.

What are the Disturbed Areas?

  • A disturbed area is an area that is declared by notification under Section 3 of the AFSPA.
  • An area can be disturbed due to differences or disputes between members of different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities.
  • As per Section 3, it can be invoked in places where “the use of armed forces in aid of the civil power is necessary”.

Who can declare/notify such areas?

  • The Central Government or the Governor of the State or administrator of the Union Territory (UT) has the authority to declare the whole or part of the State or Union Territory as a disturbed area.
  • A suitable notification would have to be made in the Official Gazette.
  • Once declared ‘disturbed’, the region has to maintain status quo for a minimum of three months, according to The Disturbed Areas (Special Courts) Act, 1976.

Changes in AFSPA:

In Assam:

  • The disturbed area notification has been in force in the whole of Assam since 1990.
  • Now, AFSPA will be removed from 23 districts of Assa while in one district it will be applied partially with effect from April 1st.

In Manipur:

  • The AFSPA has been in force in the whole of Manipur except the Imphal Municipality area since 2004.
  • Now, the AFSPA jurisdiction will be removed from 15 police stations in 6 districts with effect from April 1st.

In Nagaland:

  • AFSPA has been in force in the whole of Nagaland since 1995.
  • Now, the jurisdiction of AFSPA will be removed in phased manner From 15 police stations in 7 districts of Nagaland.

In Arunachal Pradesh:

  • In Arunachal Pradesh, AFSPA will be applicable in only 3 districts along with the jurisdiction of two police stations in another district.

The demand to repeal AFSPA:

The demand gained momentum in Nagaland after 6 coal mine laborers were killed in an ambush by security personnel while they were returning to their village of Oting.

  • In Nagaland in 2021, security officers opened fire on six civilians travelling in a truck, mistaking them for militants from the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN).
  • The citizens, after being anguished by the loss began to protest and widespread violence ensued.
  • The Centre later formed a five-member committee to investigate the state of Nagaland's withdrawal of the AFSPA law.
  • Home Minister Amit Shah also held key meetings with the respective Chief Ministers of the states.

Extension of PM-GKAY: The Union Cabinet, on March 26, 2022, extended the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PM-GKAY) by another six months till September 2022 (Phase VI).

Key Highlights:

  • This decision was taken keeping in view the continuous need to support the food security of poor and vulnerable sections of society.
  • The Phase-V of PM-GKAY scheme was to end in March 2022.

About PM-GKAY:

  • The PM-GKAY has been under implementation since April 2020, as the largest food security program in the world.
  • This scheme is a part of the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package (PMGKP) and was originally introduced in the first lockdown during the initial onset of the COVID pandemic providing free food grains to the affected population.
  • The government on this day in March 2020 had announced the distribution of additional free-of-cost foodgrains to about 80 Crore National Food Security Act (NFSA) beneficiaries at the scale of 5 Kg per person per month under the scheme.
  • Its nodal Ministry is the Ministry of Finance.
  • Phase-I and Phase-II of this scheme was operational from April to June, 2020 and July to November, 2020 respectively.
  • Phase-III of the scheme was operational from May to June, 2021.
  • Phase-IV of the scheme is currently operational for July-November, 2021 months.
  • Phase-V of this scheme was again extended from December 2021 to March 2022.

Note: Under Phases I to V, the food ministry had allocated a total of about 759 lakh tonnes of foodgrains to the States/UTs, which is equivalent to about Rs 2.6 lakh crore in food subsidy.

PM-GKAY Salient Features:

  1. This policy would cover 80 crore people, i.e., nearly two-thirds of the Indian population.
  2. Under the Insurance Scheme, a cover of Rs 50 lakh will be provided for each health professional combating COVID-19.
  3. For the next three months, 80 crore underprivileged individuals would receive 5 kilogramme wheat or rice and 1 kg of selected legumes for free.
  4. 20 crore women Jan Dhan account holders to get Rs 500 per month for the next three months.
  5. Increase in MNREGA wage to Rs 202 a day from Rs 182 to benefit 13.62 crore families.
  6. Government to front-load Rs 2,000 paid to farmers in the first week of April under the existing PM Kisan Yojana to benefit 8.7 crore farmers.

Expenditure:

  • The Government of India (GoI) will bear all expenditures of over Rs. 26,000 crore on account of food subsidy.
  • Central assistance will be provided to states/UTs on account of intra-state transportation etc.

 

Appropriation Bill 2022: The Lok Sabha on 24th March 2022 passed the Demands for Grants and Appropriation Bill, 2022.

Overview:

  • The Bill was passed by a voice vote, giving the government authorization to withdraw money from the Consolidated Fund of India for its working as well as the implementation of programmes and schemes for the fiscal beginning April 1.
  • This completes two-thirds of the budgetary exercise by the Lok Sabha..
  • The bill, introduced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, was passed after cut motions, moved by various opposition members, were rejected.
  • The Finance Bill, which essentially comprises the government's tax ideas, will now be debated in the Lok Sabha.
  • With the passage of the Finance Bill, the budget process will be completed.

Note:

  • Appropriation and finance bills are both categorized as money bills, which do not require Rajya Sabha's express approval.
  • The bills are only discussed and returned in the upper house.
  • The Finance Bill becomes the Finance Act after it is passed, and the final Budget is authorized.

Earlier, the Lok Sabha passed the Demand for Grants for the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways.

Sujalam 2.0 Campaign: The Sujalam 2.0 campaign was launched by Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, the Union Minister of Jal Shakti on 23rd March 2022.

Key Highlights:

  • This campaign was launched at an event held virtually by the Ministry of Jal Shakti’s Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation (DDWS).
  • It has been launched for greywater management.
  • A joint advisory was signed by nine ministers to look into how greywater management can be planned based on the convergence model along with those who are associated directly with the implementation of this programme.
  • The nine Ministers are as follows:

1.M/o Rural Development,

2.M/o Jal Shakti,

3.M/o Youth Affairs and Sports,

4.M/o Women & Child Development,

5.M/o Health and Family Welfare,

6. M/o Tribal Affairs,

7.M/o Environment, Forest and Climate Change,

8.M/o Education, 

9.M/o Panchayati Raj 

  • Funds for greywater management will be provided from the Swachh Bharat Mission-Gramin Phase II or through grants under the 15th Finance Commission as well as the MGNREGS or through the convergence between all of them.

Theme of Sujlam 2.0:

The theme for this campaign is ‘Groundwater: making the invisible visible.

Objective of Sujlam 2.0:

  • The main objective of the Sujlam 2.0 campaign is to manages greywater through the participation of the people.

Under this campaign, there are plans to mobilize communities such as schools, panchayats, and anganwadis to help in greywater management.

What is Greywater?

  • Greywater refers to the domestic wastewater that is generated in households, office buildings, etc., and is without faecal contamination.
  • Sources of greywater include showers, sinks, washing machines, baths, etc.
  • Since greywater contains fewer pathogens compared to domestic wastewater, it is safer to treat, handle, and reuse for the purpose of landscape, toilet flushing, crop irrigation, etc.

How can Greywater be managed?

  • It can be best managed in areas where greywater is produced.
  • If greywater is allowed to gather and stagnate then it turns into a major management and infrastructure challenges.

 

Indian Policy Current Affairs - March 2022

UDISE+ 2020-21 Report: A detailed report on Unified District Information System for Education Plus (UDISE+) 2020-21 on school education of India has recently been released by the Ministry of Education (MoD).

About UDISE+ 2020-21 Report:

  • In 2020-21 total students enrolled in school education from primary to higher secondary increased as compared to the enrollment in 2019-20.
  • Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) which measure the general level of participation has improved in 2020-21 at all levels of school education compared to 2019-20.
  • Higher numbers of teachers are engaged in school education during 2020-21 compared to 2019-20.
  • There is an increase of 8800 teachers as teachers engaged in school education during 2020-21 stood at 96.96 lakh compared to 2019-20.
  • In 2020-21 the Pupil Teacher Ratio (PTR) stood at 26 for primary, 19 for upper primary, 18 for secondary and 26 for higher secondary, showing an improvement since 2018-19.
  • In 2020-21 more girls are enrolled in primary to higher secondary as compared to the enrollment of girls in 2019-20.

Facilities in Schools:

  • 84% of schools have functional electricity facilities.
  • 2% of schools have functional drinking water.
  • 91% of schools have functional girl’s toilet facilities.
  • 40% of the schools have functional computers.

Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on enrolment:

During 2020-21, 39.7 lakh students from private and government-aided schools shifted to government schools. This shows the impact of COVID-19 on education.

About UDISE:

  • The Unified District Information System for Education Plus (UDISE) was initiated in 2012-13 by the Ministry of Education (MoD).
  • It is one of the largest Management Information Systems on School Education.
  • It covers more than 15 lakh schools and more than 26.4 crore children in Computer.
  • However, this system is prone to errors and misuse.

About UDISE+:

  • UDISE+ is an updated version of UDISE.
  • The UDISE+ system of online data collection from the schools was developed by the Department of School Education and Literacy in the year 2018-19.
  • It was developed with aims to overcome the issues related to erstwhile practice of manual data filling in paper format and then feeding them on computers at the block or district level in the UDISE data collection system since 2012-13.
  • In UDISE+ system, improvements have been made particularly in the areas related to data capture, data mapping and data verification.

Ministery of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE): The Minister of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE), Shri Rajeev Chandrasekhar recently in a written reply in the Lok Sabha on 14 March 2021 gave information about the implementation of various programmes to encourage entrepreneurship in the country.

Key Details:

The information about the implementation of various programmes to encourage entrepreneurship in the country is as follows:

Economic Empowerment of Women Entrepreneurs and Startups by Women (WEE):

  • Pilot project, ‘Economic Empowerment of Women Entrepreneurs and Startups by Women (WEE)’ is being implemented in collaboration with Deutsche Gesellschaftfür Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) Germany to pilot incubation and acceleration programmes for women micro entrepreneurs, enabling them to start new businesses and scale up existing enterprises in Maharashtra and other States, viz. Telangana, Uttar Pradesh Rajasthan and North Eastern region of the country.

PM YUVA:

  • Pilot Project on Entrepreneurship Development (PM YUVA) was launched in November, 2019.
  • It was launched for creating an enabling ecosystem through entrepreneurship education, training, advocacy and easy access to entrepreneurship network, for students and alumni of skill training institutes viz. Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs), Polytechnics, Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendra (PMKK) and Jan Shikshan Sansthan (JSS).
  • The scheme covers 10 States including Maharashtra and 2 Union Territories.

 Entrepreneurship Promotion and Mentoring of Micro and Small Businesses in Six Holy Cities:

  • The project seeks to catalyze local entrepreneurial activities through involvement of potential and existing entrepreneurs, through entrepreneurship awareness, education and mentoring in Varanasi, Haridwar, Pandharpur, Puri,  Kollur and Bodh Gaya.
  • Apart from above, in order to enhance the employability of female workers, the Government is providing training to them through a network of Women Industrial Training Institutes, PMKVY Centers, National Skill Training Institutes and Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendras.

Draft National Policy for the Medical Devices 2022: The Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP) under Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers has released an Approach Paper for the Draft National Policy for the Medical Devices, 2022 on its website for consultation.

The Department has invited feedback and remarks of the Industry and stakeholders, till the 25th of this month on the Draft Policy.

Salient features of the Draft:

  1. Regulatory streamlining to improve the ease of doing business by optimising regulatory processes and reducing the number of agencies, as well as harmonization with global standards to maintain uniformity.
  2. Quality Standards and Device Safety in order to provide safe devices to the consumers in accordance with the global standards.
  3. Building Competitiveness through fiscal and financial support for stimulating the development of the local manufacturing ecosystem with private sector investments.
  4. Infrastructure Development to provide best-in-class physical foundation, including medical devices parks with common facilities such as testing centers, to improve cost competitiveness and enhance attraction of domestic manufacturers.
  5. Facilitating R&D and Innovation with a focus on enhanced collaboration in innovation and R&D projects, global partnerships, and joint ventures among key stakeholders to bridge the gap between academic curriculum and industry requirements.
  6. Human Resource Development to ensure relevant curriculum at higher education level, skilling of various stakeholders, creation of future-ready HR with required skill sets across the innovation value chain.
  7. Awareness Creation and Brand Positioning in creating awareness and positioning India as a hub for manufacturing of medical devices as part of the “Make in India, Make for the World” initiative.

Objectives of the draft:

  • Recognizing the need for a comprehensive policy to help the Medical Devices Sector flourish and explore its potential, the DoP published this approach paper, after extensive stakeholder consultations, for the Sunrise Sector of Medical Devices, popularly called as MedTech Sector.
  • The Draft Policy aims at addressing the core objectives of accessibility, affordability, safety and quality in the medical device sector, with a focus on self-sustainability, innovation, and growth.
  • This Policy envisions that by 2047 -
  • India will be having few National Institutes of Medical Devices Education and Research (NIMERs) on the lines of NIPERs.
  • India will be home and originator to 25 high-end futuristic technologies in MedTech
  • India will have a MedTech Industry of $100-300 Bn size with 10-12% of Global Market Share.

Need for National Policy for the Medical Devices:

  • Medical devices are an important and crucial aspect of India's healthcare industry, especially for the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and management of all medical problems, diseases, illnesses, and disabilities.
  • The medical device is a multi-product sector, with the following broad classifications:
  1. Electronics Equipment
  2. Implants
  3. Consumables and Disposables
  4. IVD reagents
  5. Surgical Instruments 
  • The Medical Device Sector was mainly unregulated until 2017 when the CDSCO drafted Medical Device Rules, 2017 were framed for comprehensive regulation of MDs in a phased manner, especially on the quality, safety, and efficacy aspects, under the Drugs and Cosmetic Act, 1940.
  • The Indian medical device market has a significant presence of multinational companies with about 80% of the sales by value generated from imported medical devices.
  • This sector’s contribution has become even more prominent as India supported the global battle against COVID-19 pandemic through the production of medical devices & diagnostic kits, e.g., RT-PCR kits, IR Thermometers, Ventilators, PPE Kits and N-95 masks.
  • Through a coherent policy framework, the Department intends to -
  • Promote domestic medical device manufacturing through a variety of programmatic and schematic measures.
  • Reduce India’s import dependence to nearly 30% in the next 10 years.
  • Increase India’s per capita spending on medical devices.

The Sector is expected to expand in market size from the present 11 Bn USD to 50 Bn USD by 2025.

Note: India has one of the lowest per capita spend on medical devices at $3 compared to the global average of per capita consumption $47.

What are the initiatives by the Government of India in the Medical devices field?

The initiatives by the Government of India (GoI) in the Medical devices field are as follows:

  1. PLI Scheme for promoting domestic manufacturing of Medical Devices.
  2. Promotion of Medical Devices Parks.
  3. Medical devices have been recognized as a sunrise sector under the ‘Make in India’ campaign in 2014.

India's Arctic Policy: Union Minister for Earth Sciences Jitendra Singh released India's Arctic Policy titled, "India and the Arctic: Building a Partnership for Sustainable Development".

Key Points:

  • It has been released with an aim to enhance the country’s cooperation with the resource-rich and rapidly transforming region.
  • India's Arctic policy shall be implemented through an action plan, and an effective governance and review mechanism involving the inter‐ministerial Empowered Arctic Policy Group.
  • The National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR) in Goa, an autonomous institute under the Ministry of Earth Sciences is the nodal institution for India’s Polar research programme, which includes Arctic studies.
  • Implementing India's Arctic policy will involve multiple stakeholders, including academia, the research community, business, and industry.
  • The policy also seeks to combat climate change and protect the environment in the region, which is warming three times faster than the rest of the world.
  • India's Arctic policy titled 'India and the Arctic: building a partnership for sustainable development is built on six central pillars:

1)Science and Research,

2)Climate and Environmental Protection,

3)Economic and Human Development,

4)Transportation and Connectivity,

5)Governance and International Cooperation,

6)National Capacity Building in the Arctic region.

  • The analysis of the policy was published by the Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses.

Key points about the analysis:

  • According to the analysis, the Arctic region is particularly important due to the numerous transportation routes that pass through it, in addition to its mineral and oil riches.
  • The adverse effects of climate change are that it is not only affecting the availability of mineral and hydrocarbon resources, but is also affecting global transportation routes.
  • The policy documents the history of India’s relationship with the region, which can be traced back to February 1920, when it signed the Svalbard treaty in Paris.

Background:

  • The policy states that since 2013, India has been an Observer nation in the Arctic Council, where it has consistently participated in meetings of Senior Arctic Officials and contributed to its six Working Groups.
  • In 2007, India launched its first scientific expedition to the Arctic.
  • Since then, India has been able to set up an observatory in Kongsfjorden as well as an atmospheric laboratory at Gruvebadet, Ny Alesund.
  • Until 2022, India has successfully conducted thirteen expeditions to the Arctic.

Note: The policy document is available on the website of the Ministry of Earth Sciences.

The Objectives of the Policy:

  • Strengthening national capabilities and competencies in science and exploration, climate and environmental protection, maritime and economic cooperation with the Arctic region.
  • Inter-ministerial coordination in pursuit of India's interests in the Arctic.
  • Enhancing understanding of the impact of climate change in the Arctic region on India's climate, economic, and energy security.
  • Contributing better analysis, prediction, and coordinated policymaking on the implications of ice melting in the Arctic on India's economic, military and strategic interests related to global shipping routes, energy security, and exploitation of mineral wealth.
  • Studying linkages between Polar Regions and the Himalayas.
  • Deepen cooperation between India and countries of the Arctic region under various Arctic forums, drawing expertise from scientific and traditional knowledge.
  • Increase India's participation in the Arctic Council and improve understanding of the complex governance structures in the Arctic, relevant international laws, and geopolitics of the region.

About Arctic Council:

  • The Arctic Council is a high-level intergovernmental forum promoting cooperation, coordination and interaction among the Arctic States, Arctic Indigenous peoples and other Arctic inhabitants on common Arctic issues, in particular on issues of sustainable development and environmental protection in the Arctic.
  • The first step towards the formation of the Council occurred in 1991 when the eight Arctic countries signed the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy (AEPS).
  • The council was created in Ottawa in 1996 by the Declaration on the Establishment of the Arctic Council (the Ottawa Declaration).
  • The standing Arctic Council Secretariat formally became operational in 2013 in Tromsø, Norway.
  • Member states of the council include Denmark, Canada, Norway, the United States, Russia, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland.
  • The council also has a number of permanent participants drawn from groups that represent communities and peoples indigenous to the Arctic.
  • Outside these, there are some observer states, Indigenous "permanent participants", and observer organizations.
  • The Arctic Council with the involvement of the Arctic Indigenous communities and other Arctic inhabitants works as a consensus-based body to deal with issues such as the change in biodiversity, melting sea ice, plastic pollution and black carbon.
  • As of May 2019, thirteen non-Arctic states have Observer status.

1)Germany, 1998

2) The Netherlands, 1998

3)Poland, 1998

4) The United Kingdom, 1998

5)France, 2000

6)Spain, 2006

7)China, 2013

8)India, 2013

9)Italy, 2013

10)Japan, 2013

11)South Korea, 2013

12)Singapore, 2013

13)Switzerland, 2017

  • India received the ‘Observer’ country status in the Arctic Council in 2013 and is one among the 13 countries across the world, including China, to have that position.
  • The status was renewed in 2018.

Observer status:

  • It is open to the Non-arctic States, along with inter-governmental, inter-parliamentary, global, regional and non-governmental organizations that the Council determines can contribute to its work.
  • It is approved by the Council at the Ministerial Meetings that occur once every two years.

 

Donate-a-Pension programme: Union Labour and Employment Minister, Bhupender Yadav recently launched the ‘Donate-a-Pension’ campaign.

About Donate a Pension Scheme:

  • The 'Donate-a-Pension' programme is one of several initiatives that the Labour Ministry unveiled during its 'Iconic Week' celebrations from March 7 to 13, 2022.
  • This scheme has been launched under Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maan-Dhan (PM-SYM) scheme.
  • This scheme allows a citizen to donate the premium contribution of their immediate support staff such as domestic workers, drivers, helpers, care givers, nurses, in their household or establishment under the PM-SYM Scheme. 
  • The donation can be made for a minimum of one year, with the amount ranging from 660 to 2,400 each year based on the beneficiary's age.
  • The premium amount can be paid through maandhan.in or by visiting a Common Service Centre anywhere in the country.

About PM-SYM:

  • In 2019, Government of India (GoI) introduced a pension scheme for Unorganized Workers (UW) namely Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maan-dhan (PM-SYM) to ensure old age protection for Unorganized Workers.
  • The unorganized workers are those workers who are mostly engaged as rickshaw pullers, street vendors, mid-day meal workers, head loaders, brick kiln workers, cobblers, washer men, home-based workers, rag pickers, domestic workers, own account workers, beedi workers, handloom workers, leather workers, agricultural workers, construction workers, audio - visual workers or in similar other occupations.
  • This scheme is administered by the Ministry of Labour and Employment and implemented through Life Insurance Corporation of India and CSCs.
  • LIC is the Pension Fund Manager and responsible for Pension pay out.
  • This scheme allows unorganized sector workers between the age of 18 and 40, who earn up to ₹15,000 a month, to enroll by paying a premium amount between ₹55 and ₹200, depending on the age, that would be matched by the government.
  • On reaching the age of 60, the beneficiaries would get a ₹3,000 monthly pension.

Note: As of March 3, the scheme had 46.34 lakh enrolments.

Features of PM-SYM:

It is a voluntary and contributory pension scheme, under which the subscriber would receive the following benefits:

  • Minimum Assured Pension: After reaching the age of 60, each PM-SYM subscriber will receive a minimum assured pension of Rs 3000 per month.
  • Family Pension: If the subscriber dies while receiving a pension, the beneficiary's spouse is entitled to 50% of the beneficiary's income as a family pension. Only the spouse is entitles for a family pension.
  • If a beneficiary has made regular contributions and has died before reaching the age of 60 due to any cause, his or her spouse will be entitled to join and continue the scheme by making monthly contributions or depart the scheme according to the exit and withdrawal requirements.

National Highway for Electric Vehicle (NHEV): a working group from National Highway for Electric Vehicle (NHEV) recently met NITI Aayog to discuss the details of the new battery swapping policy from Ease of Doing Business perspective of their stakeholders.

Note: The battery Swapping Policy was announced at the Union Budget 2022.

Key Points:

  • The meeting included discussions on battery standardization and the need for piloting a prototype for ground realities were proposed.
  • It was also brought for consultation that all 30 NHEV charging stations on Jaipur-Delhi and Noida-Agra e-highways are going to have 20 two-wheelers and 20 three-wheelers EV with swapping units, open for use with a mobile app subscription like Yulu.
  • Tourists can use these two-wheelers for roaming in streets of Mathura, Vrindavan, Agra, Jaipur from highways to go inside cities and return these bikes while returning.

About NHEV:

  • The National Highway for Electric Vehicles (NHEV) is a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing India's transportation systems' electrification.
  • NHEV by 2020 is 1st intercity e-mobility prototypical program to facilitate Ease of Doing Business through Single Window Clearance under the Ministry of Commerce & Industry.
  • It is based on reforms of the Ministry of Power to establish Charging Stations on National Highways with minimalistic capital and operational expenditure in a sustainable manner.
  • NHEV is pushing for public charging stations all across the country.

Recent initiatives of NHEV:

  • NHEV has set up India’s largest EV charging station which was launched in Gurugram.
  • It has 121 EV chargers and a capacity to charge up to 1000 cars within a day.
  • It has been set up in a record time of just a month.
  • With this new EV charging station, Gurugram became the first city to have the top two charging stations in India.
  • It is constructing a green charging station along the Jaipur-Delhi-Agra E-highway.
  • It will have many amenities like a bank, an ATM, restaurant, coffee lounge, a showroom, etc. for the customers to use while charging their vehicles.

These initiatives of NHEV to promote e-mobility will have numerous advantages like reduction in fuel imports, clean environment and promotion of new business opportunities.

Land Pooling Policy: The Union Minister for Housing and Urban Affairs has stated the Delhi Development Act, 1957, will be amended to speed up the Land Pooling Policy.

What are the amendments proposed to the Delhi Land Pooling Policy?

  • As per the amendments proposed to the Delhi Land Pooling Policy -
  • The pooling of land for owners who are yet to express their willingness becomes mandatory once the participation rate reaches the minimum threshold of 70%.
  • Even if the required threshold of 70% is not met, the amendment will give the central government Power to declare pooling mandatory.

Problems faced in the Policy:

  • According to a senior DDA official, the agency was having trouble in convincing landowners to participate, as most of them were uncertain of the policy's outcome.

What is land pooling?

  • Land Pooling Policy means that government agencies consolidate parcels of land and design or develop it with infrastructures such as roads, hospitals, community centres schools, and sports facilities on part of the land and then returns a portion to the original owners who can later execute housing projects with the help of private builders or sell it.

About Delhi Land Pooling Policy (DLP)?

  • Under the Delhi Land Pooling (DLP) policy, 60% of the land would be used by the owners or Developer Company for residential and commercial development while 40 percent will be surrendered to service providing agencies, such as the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) for infrastructural developments.

Benefits for Landowners:

  • Despite the fact that the land restored to the original owners would be smaller, they will have access to infrastructure and services developed by DDA.

 

Swadesh Darshan Awards: The Ministry of Tourism has constituted Swadesh Darshan Awards in different categories to acknowledge the efforts undertaken by the State Governments, Union Territory Administrations and various implementation agencies.

About:

  • The awards will be awarded to recognize best practices in planning, design and operations, efficient project monitoring, ability to attract private investments in peripheral development and efforts undertaken to ensure optimal operations and maintenance, etc.
  • The UT administrations and the State Governments have been asked to submit their entries via online mode.
  • The Ministry of Tourism has decided to invite entries under the following categories:-
  1. Best Tourist Interpretation Centre
  2. Best MICE Facility
  3. Best Log Hut Facility
  4. Best Cafeteria
  5. Best Craft Haat/ Souvenir Shop facility
  6. Best Waterfront Development (Beach/ River/ Lake etc.)
  7. Best Sound and Light Show

About Swadesh Darshan Scheme:

  • Swadesh Darshan is a Central Sector Scheme launched in 2014-15.
  • This Scheme has been formulated by the Ministry of Tourism (MoT)  for the integrated development of tourist circuits around specific themes.
  • The Ministry of Tourism offers Central Financial Assistance (CFA) to State Governments/Union Territory Administrations for the development of circuit infrastructure under this scheme.
  • Fifteen thematic circuits have been identified under this scheme which is Desert Circuit, Himalayan Circuit, Heritage Circuit, North East Circuit, Coastal Circuit, Buddhist Circuit, Eco Circuit, Krishna Circuit, Rural Circuit, Ramayana Circuit, Sufi Circuit, Spiritual Circuit, Tribal Circuit, Tirthankar Circuit, Wildlife Circuit.
  • Under its flagship scheme of ‘Swadesh Darshan,’ the tourism ministry has sanctioned 76 projects in 31 States / Union Territories of India for more than Rs.5500 Crore.
  • As part of this scheme, tourism-related infrastructure has been developed at more than 500 tourist destinations.

NaariShakti conversation, on STEM and Financial Literacy for Young Women: UNICEF YuWaah recently facilitated the #NaariShakti conversation, on ‘STEM and Financial Literacy for Young Women’.

About the event:

  • The event was a part of the Ministry of Women and Child Development’s ‘Iconic Week’ celebrating International Women’s Day under the ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’.
  • Smriti Irani, the Union Minister for Women & Child Development participated in the event.
  • The event also witnessed the participation of adolescent girls from different parts of India.
  • The participants shared their experiences, aspirations, and suggestions on gender equality in STEM.
  • They discussed how to nurture young women to pursue careers in STEM-related fields and
  • The benefits of women’s participation in STEM to India’s economic growth along with Government Programs promoting women’s participation in STEM were also discussed.

About STEM:

  • The STEM acronym was introduced in 2001 by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF).
  • The idea to promote STEM education in India has been supported by the National Council for Science and Technology Communication along with the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India (GOI).
  • It is a curriculum that promotes the idea of educating students in disciplines such as science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
  • This aims at establishing a robust platform for innovation for the next generation.
  • Under Article 51A of the Constitution of India, it is the duty of every citizen of India to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform.

Note: India is one of the countries that produce the highest number of scientists and engineers, the growth of STEM has picked up significantly over the last few years.

Participation of Women in STEM:

  • According to the All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE), 2018-19, around 43% of STEM graduates in India are women, which is the highest in the world.
  • However, their share in STEM jobs in India is a mere 14%.
  • This indicates a ‘leaky pipeline’ in STEM fields.
  • The under-representation of women in STEM majors is common globally.
  • In India even though the number of women enrolling in STEM programmes has been increasing year on year, the rising education levels aren't translating into employability or jobs. 

Challenges to the participation of women in STEM:

  • Stereotypical gender roles in society.
  • Lack of physical safety during the commute to work.
  • Sexual and other types of harassment in workplaces.
  • Stressors related to marriage and childbirth.
  • ‘Dual role’ syndrome (Professional decisions are affected by domestic responsibilities).
  • Lack of suitable workplace or benefits like travel allowance, lodging, crèche, etc.

About YuWaah:

  • YuWaah is a UNICEF-initiated multi-stakeholder global platform.
  • It aims to prepare young people to transition from education and learning to productive work and active citizenship.
  • It was launched in 2019.
  • It was formed by UNICEF, together with public and private sector partners, UN Agencies, civil society organizations, foundations and young people as the Generation Unlimited (GenU) partnership in India.

India YuWaah, by 2030 aims to the following:

  • Build pathways to aspirational socio-economic opportunities for 100 million young people.
  • Facilitate 200 million young people to gain relevant skills for productive lives and the future of work.
  • Partner with 300 million young people as change-makers and create spaces for developing their leadership.

About UNICEF:

  • It is an acronym for United Nations Children's Fund.
  • It was formerly known as United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund.
  • UNICEF is a special program of the United Nations (UN) devoted to aiding national efforts to improve the health, nutrition, education, and general welfare of children.
  • It was created in 1946 as the International Children’s Emergency Fund (ICEF) by the UN Relief Rehabilitation Administration to help children affected by World War II.
  • It became a permanent part of the United Nations in 1953.
  • It is headquartered in New York, United States.
  • The current head of UNICEF is Henrietta H. Fore.

Note: UNICEF was awarded Nobel Prize for peace in 1965.

MoHUA Launches Swachh Survekshan 2022: The Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) Shri Hardeep Singh Puri launched Swachh Survekshan 2022 (SS 2022), the world's largest urban cleanliness survey, for the seventh consecutive year on March 1, 2022.

Note: Swachh Survekshan is conducted by Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban (SBM-U).

Key Highlights:

  • It coincides with the celebrations of the 75th year of India's independence; therefore SS 2022 will focus on the theme of Azaadi@75 spirit.
  • SS 2022 is designed with the notion of ‘People First’ as its driving philosophy.
  • It is meant to capture the initiatives of cities for the overall welfare and well-being of frontline sanitation workers.
  • Priority to senior citizens and young adults' voices will be given during this survey.

About Swachh Survekshan 2022 (SS 2022):

  • MoHUA kick-started this year's survey with nearly 3,000 assessors of Ipsos Research Pvt. Ltd. which is the assessment agency ready to assess cities' performance.
  • In this year’s survey, the scope has been expanded to cover 100% wards for sampling, up from 40% in the previous years.
  • SS 2022 will deploy a more significant number of assessors for the on-field assessment than last year to hold this exercise smoothly.
  • In preparation for SS 2022, cities have been regularly filling in their data, updating their status in the Swachhatam Portal MIS, and running several citizen-centric campaigns.
  • As part of this survey, senior citizens will be asked to provide feedback.
  • To ensure diverse viewpoints, it will also reach out to young adults who will be the country’s and the Swachhata movement’s future leaders.
  • SS 2022 aims to form A level playing field for smaller cities by introducing two population categories under 15,000 people and 15,000 to 25,000 people.

New Indicators added in SS 2022:

The following new indicators have been added to SS 2022.

  • To commemorate 75 years of progressive India, the Urban Local Body (ULB) has joined hands with citizens to pick one Roundabout/ Chauraha in each city that could be decorated to reflect the spirit of India’s 75 years of independence.
  • Another new indicator, the ‘Swachh Technology Challenge,’ launched by MoHUA in December 2021, has been included in Swachh Survekshan 2022.
  • Under this challenge, individuals, organizations, and entrepreneurs across all Urban Local Bodies submitted ideas under four theme categories which are -

a)Zero dump (solid waste management), Social inclusion,

b)Transparency through digital enablement,

c)Plastic waste management.

  • Two population categories have been introduced for smaller cities under 15k and between 15k - 25k.
  • District rankings have also been introduced to further widen the Survekshan footprint.

About Swachc Survekshan:

  • MoHUA introduced Swachh Survekshan in 2016.
  • It was introduced as a competitive framework to encourage the cities of the nation to improve urban cleanliness while also promoting widespread citizen participation.

Note: The survey was initiated with 73 cities which in SS 2021, grew to 4,320 cities including 62 Cantonment Boards.

Quami Waqf Boards Taraqqiati Scheme: Union Ministry of Minority Affairs (MoMA) has revised the deadline for a long-delayed project to geotag all Waqf properties across India, from March 2022 to November 2023.

Key Facts:

  • This project was started in 2017 under the ‘Quami Waqf Boards Taraqqiati Scheme’ (QWBTS).
  • The Central Waqf Council, New Delhi is the Nodal Agency for the implementation of this Scheme.
  • This scheme was envisaged based on recommendations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee in the past.

Aim of QWBTS:

Under the scheme, the government aims to map the immovable assets under Waqf boards, in order to ensure their proper utilization and monetization.

This move also aims to ensure that these properties are not lost to encroachments and other counter ownership claims.

Geotagging of Waqf Properties:

  • As per estimates, there are more than six lakh Waqf properties.
  • Out of this, 2 lakh properties have been geotagged in the last five years.
  • To speed up the method, an autonomous body, 'Central Waqf Council' under the Minority Affairs Ministry, called bids by March 21 to impanel more agencies to hold out GIS or GPS surveys.
  • A pre-bid meeting has been called for on March 2, 2022.

Hired Agencies:

  • Central Waqf Council also rents 20 agencies to hurry up this work.
  • In December 2021, it hired nine agencies that included IITs in Hyderabad, Jodhpur, and Kanpur, besides the Jamia Millia Islamia in Delhi.

Reasons for the delay:

  • The delay was mainly because "realistic targets" supported actual experiences weren't set.
  • It had been estimated earlier that by March 2020, 50 percent of the properties would be geotagged.
  • But by February 2021, only 96,000 properties have been geotagged.
  • Covid-19 pandemic was the prime reason for tardy progress.

About Central Wakf Council:

  • Central Wakf Council is an Indian statutory body.
  • It was established in 1964 under Wakf Act, 1954.
  • It is of advisory nature on matters related to working of State Wakf Boards and proper administration of Wakfs in India.
  • Wakf is a permanent dedication of movable or immovable properties for pious, religious, or charitable purposes, recognized by Muslim Law.
  • The Chairman of Central Qaqf Council is Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi ( current Union Minister of Minority Affairs)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Draft Policy on India Data Office: The Central Government has recently published a draft data policy to monetize the data deposited with the government of India.

Key Highlights:

  • The policy has been named “Draft India Data Accessibility & Use Policy 2022.”
  • The policy is open for public consultations till March 18, 2022.
  • This draft of the India Data Accessibility and Use Policy has been evolved in consultation with various stakeholders including academia, industry, and government.
  • It will be applicable to all data and information created, generated and collected by the government directly or through ministries, departments and authorized agencies.
  • The policy aims to "radically transform" India's ability to harness public sector data for large-scale social transformation.

Key Points:

  • The draft policy proposes a framework for government-to-government data sharing.
  • The policy mentions that all data for every government department or its organization shall be open and sharable by default, with certain exceptions.
  • It will be applicable to all data and information created, generated and collected by the government directly or through ministries, departments and authorized agencies.
  • Any data sharing shall happen within the legal framework of India, its national policies and legislation as well as the recognized international guidelines.
  • The government will sell the collected and secured data in all departments and ministries for research, and other use.

India Data Office:

  • A new department named "India Data Office" (IDO) will be created under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) to streamline data sharing and access sharing across the government and other stakeholders.
  • IDC will act as the regulatory authority.
  • The IDC will be made up of the IDO and data officers from five government departments.
  • The various State Governments and Departments will be nominated to the IDC on a rotating basis, with each department having a two-year term.
  • With the implementation of this policy, every Ministry and Department shall have data management units headed by chief data officers who will work closely with IDO for ensuring implementation of the Data Accessibility and Use Policy
  • Furthermore, data can be purchased through the above-mentioned new department.

Function of the IDC:

  • The IDC comprising India Data Officer (IDO) and Chief Data Officers of departments of central and state governments will be tasked with developing frameworks for defining high-value datasets, finalizing metadata standards and data, and monitoring policy implementation.

Objectives and Purpose of this policy:

The MEITY has further highlighted the objectives and purposes of the 'India Data Accessibility and Use Policy'.

These are as follows:

  1. Maximizing access to and use of quality public sector data
  2. Improve policymaking, evaluation and monitoring
  3. Enhancing the efficiency of service delivery
  4. Facilitating the creation of public digital platforms
  5. Protecting the privacy and security of all citizens
  6. Streamlining inter-government data sharing
  7. Promoting transparency, accountability and ownership in data sharing and release
  8. Building digital and data capacity, knowledge and competency of government officials
  9. Promoting data interoperability
  10. Ensuring greater citizen awareness with open data
  11. Enabling secure pathways
  12. Increasing the availability of high-value datasets
  13. Improving the overall compliance to data sharing policies and standards

National Means-cum-Merit Scholarship (NMMSS): The Central Government has approved the continuation of the Central Sector National Means-cum-Merit Scholarship Scheme (NMMSS) over the 15th Finance Commission cycle for a period of five years from 2021-22 to 2025-26.

Key Points:

  • The extension will be done over the 15th Finance Commission cycle.
  • The Scheme has been approved with a financial outlay of one thousand 827 crore rupees.
  • It will now be implemented with minor modifications in eligibility criteria such as
  • Increasing income ceiling from 1.5 lakh rupees per annum to 3.5 lakh rupees per annum.
  • Revising the renewal criteria.

About NMMSS:

  • The National Means-cum-Merit Scholarship (NMMSS) is a Central Sector Scheme.
  • It was launched in 2008-09.
  • The objective of the scheme is to award scholarships to meritorious students of economically weaker sections to arrest their drop-out at class VIII and encourage them to continue their education at the secondary stage.
  • Under this scheme, one lakh fresh scholarships of Rs.12,000/- per annum (Rs.1000/- per month) per student are awarded to selected students of class IX every year and their continuation/renewal in classes 10 to 12 for study in  State Government, Government-aided and Local body schools.
  • The students are selected for award of scholarships through an examination conducted by the State/ UT Governments.

Note: Students of NVS, KVS and residential schools are not entitled to the scholarships.

  • The scheme is on-boarded on the National Scholarship Portal (NSP) developed by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY). 

How are the scholarships distributed?

  • Scholarships are disbursed directly into the bank accounts of students by electronic transfer through Public Financial Management System (PFMS) following DBT mode.
  • 100% of funds under the scheme are provided by Central Government.

About 15th Finance Commission:

  • The Finance Commission is a constitutionally mandated body that is at the centre of fiscal federalism.
  • Under Article 280 of the Constitution, the President of India is required to constitute a Finance Commission at an interval of five years or earlier.
  • The Fifteenth Finance Commission (XV-FC or 15-FC) was constituted by the President of India on 27 November 2017, under the chairmanship of NK Singh.
  • Its core responsibility is as follows:
  • To evaluate the state of finances of the Union and State Governments.
  • To recommend the sharing of taxes between them.
  • To lay down the principles determining the distribution of these taxes among States.

FDI IN LIC: The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, recently approved changes to India’s foreign direct investment (FDI) policy to allow global investors to participate in the initial public offering of Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) shares expected to be launched soon.

The cabinet decision comes amid growing fears among some investors that the government could defer public listing of the LIC due to increasing volatility in the market after Russia`s invasion of Ukraine.

Key Points:

  • Foreign investors will now be able to invest up to 20% in LIC shares under the automatic approval route.
  • Under current rules, foreign investment is not allowed into the country’s largest insurer LIC, a statutory corporation set up under an Act of Parliament while 74% foreign direct investment is allowed in other private insurance companies.
  • The amendment would allow the government to raise the FDI limit in the LIC up to 20%, on par with the rule for state-run banks.
  • Other minor enhancements in the existing FDI Policy have also been carried out in order to provide an updated, consistent and easily comprehensible FDI framework.
  • The approval has been made automatic for LIC so as to expedite the capital-raising plan.
  • The amendments to the FDI policy come less than two weeks after the draft red herring prospectus (DRHP) was filed with the stock market regulator.

Significance:

The FDI policy reform will further enhance the Ease of Doing Business in the country, leading to larger FDI inflows and thereby contributing to the growth of investment, income and employment.

About LIC:

  • Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) of India is an Indian statutory insurance and investment corporation under the ownership of the Government of India (GoI).
  • The LIC of India was established on 1 September 1956, when the Parliament of India passed the Life Insurance of India Act that nationalized the insurance industry in India.
  • The nationalization of the life insurance business in India was a result of the Industrial Policy Resolution of 1956, which had created a policy framework for extending state control over at least 17 sectors of the economy, including life insurance.
  • Over 245 insurance companies and provident societies were merged to create the state-owned Life Insurance Corporation of India.
  • It is headquartered in Mumbai, Maharashtra.

Objective of LIC:

  • The primary objective of the LIC of India is to spread the importance of life insurance widely in the rural areas and people belonging to socially and economically backward classes.
  • The company functions with a view of providing such individuals with financial cover against death at a reasonable cost.

Currently, there are more than 280 million policies and over 60 percent of the insurance segment.

 

Indian Policy Current Affairs - February 2022

Drone Pilot Licence Abolished: The Civil Aviation Ministry has scrapped the requirement of a drone pilot licence for operating drones in the country with effect from February 11.

Key Points:

  • A notification amending Drone Rules was issued by the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
  • According to the gazette notification of the ministry, the Remote Pilot Certificate (RPC) issued by a DGCA-approved drone school through the single window DigitalSky Platform shall be sufficient for operating a drone in India.
  • Drone (Amendment) Rules 2022 further stated that no remote pilot certificate shall be required for operating a drone up to 2kg for non-commercial purposes.

Earlier, in order to promote Made in India drones, the import of foreign drones has been prohibited in the country.

Additional Info:

About Civil Aviation Ministry:

  • The Ministry of Civil Aviation of the Government of India (GoI) is the nodal Ministry responsible for the formulation of national policies and programmes for the development and regulation of Civil Aviation and for devising and implementing schemes for the orderly growth and expansion of civil air transport.
  • Its functions also extend to overseeing airport facilities, air traffic services and carriage of passengers and goods by air.
  • The Ministry also administers the implementation of the Aircraft Act, 1934, Aircraft Rules, 1937.
  • This Ministry is administratively responsible for the Commission of Railways Safety.
  • The current Union Minister of Civil Aviation is Jyotiraditya M. Scindia.

Scheme for Economic Empowerment of DNTs (SEED): Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment, Dr. Virendra Kumar, on 16 February 2022, launched the Scheme for Economic Empowerment of DNTs (SEED).

Key Points:

  • This scheme was launched at Dr. Ambedkar International Centre, New Delhi for the welfare of De-notified tribes (DNTs), Nomadic tribes (NTs) and Semi Nomadic tribes (SNTs).
  • Dr Virendra Kumar, while speaking after inaugurating the umbrella scheme of the centre, said that this scheme signifies Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Mantra of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas and Sabka Prayas in a true manner.
  • He highlighted the various features of the scheme such as free education opportunities, health insurance worth five lakh rupees under Ayushman Bharat, better facilities for livelihood and financial assistance for construction of houses.
  • This would prove to be a game-changer towards empowering the De-notified Tribes communities.

How are the community deprived?

  • The DNTs, NTs, SNTs are the most neglected, marginalized and economically and socially deprived communities.
  • Historically, these communities never had access to private land or homeownership.
  • They used forests and grazing lands as a means for their livelihood and residential use.
  • The misery of these communities began with the enactment of the Criminal Tribes Act, 1871 during British rule.
  • Even after the Independence, they have not benefited much from the planned development of over seven decades.
  • They were deprived of state support like the SCs/STs.

Efforts in the past by the government:

  • Various efforts have been undertaken to bring these communities into the mainstream.
  • In October 2003, the first commission to look into the problems of these communities.
  • In 2008, the Renke Commission was set up.
  • In 2014, the National Commission for De-Notified, Nomadic and Semi Nomadic Tribes was constituted under the chairmanship of Shri Bhiku Ramji Idate.
  • The commission was constituted for a period of three years.
  • This commission was tasked among others to identify and proper listing of these communities in different states, to evaluate the progress of development of these communities in the states so that a systematic approach can be developed for the development of these communities.
  • The Commission submitted its report in December 2017.
  • In 2019, based on the recommendation of this commission, the Government of India (GoI) set up the Development and Welfare Board for DNTs, SNTs &NTs (DWBDNCs).

About Scheme for Economic Empowerment of DNTs (SEED):

  • GoI also decided to create an umbrella scheme for empowerment of these communities and accordingly, the Scheme for Economic Empowerment of DNTs, SNTs &NTs (SEED).
  • It has been formulated with four components that affect their livelihood.
  • The four-component of the SEED scheme are:

1)Educational empowerment- Free coaching to students from these communities for Civil Services, entry to professional courses like medicine, engineering, MBA, etc.

2)Health Insurance through PMJAY of National Health Authority.

3)Livelihoods to support income generation, and

4)Housing (through PMAY/IAY)

  • The scheme will ensure expenditure of Rs.200 crore to be spent over five years beginning 2021-22.
  • The DWBDNCs have been tasked with the implementation of this scheme.

Portal to implement the scheme:

  • One important feature of this scheme is the online portal.
  • The portal has been developed by the Department of Social Justice & Empowerment.
  • This scheme will be implemented through the portal.
  • The portal comprises of two modules:

1)The first module for registration of applicant with details of his family, caste certificate, Occupation, income, Aadhar & bank details, etc.

2)The second module comprises of scheme component for which the applicant wants to seek benefit with his UID.

Significance of the portal:

  • This portal will ensure seamless registration and will also act as a repository of the data on these communities.
  • The portal is very user-friendly and easily accessible on mobile phones with its mobile application.
  • It will provide the real-time status of the application to the applicant.
  • The payment to the beneficiaries will be made directly into their accounts.

NAAC Guidelines on Accreditation: The National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) which is an autonomous body under the UGC recently relaxed the eligibility criteria for the accreditation of higher educational institutions.

Key Points:

  • According to the guidelines, the main purpose of the change is to widen the horizon of accreditation.
  • University Grants Commission (UGC) chairperson M Jagadesh Kumar is expected to address a webinar on the new guidelines.
  • The guidelines had been communicated to colleges on January 23, 2022, seeking feedback from stakeholders.
  • Out of 280 affiliated colleges, more than 200 affiliated higher educational institutions (HEIs) of DAVV are not accredited to NAAC accredited yet.

NAAC's new guidelines:

As per new guidelines of NAAC-

  • Colleges and universities that have completed even one academic year will be eligible to apply for a newly created category of ‘Provisional Accreditation for Colleges’ or PAC.
  • The last date to apply for the provisional certificate is February 24, 2022.
  • Those institutions applying for the PAC process will get feedback on areas they need to work on in order to reach the threshold level of quality.
  • The PAC will not offer any grading and it will be valid for two years.
  • The institutions cannot get it more than two times.

What means Accreditation?

  • Accreditation means official recognition or something that meets official standards.
  • Basically, it is a quality check exercise.
  • It checks whether an institution meets certain standards of quality set by the evaluator in terms of curriculum, faculty, infrastructure, research and financial well-being among others.
  • The NAAC, based on these parameters, gives institutions grades ranging from A++ to C.
  • If an institution is graded D, it means it is not accredited.

How many institutions in India are accredited?

  • There are 1,043 universities and 42,343 colleges listed on the portal of the All India Survey on Higher Education.
  • As of February 8, there were 392 universities and 8,483 colleges that were NAAC-accredited.
  • Among the states, Maharashtra accounts for the highest number of accredited colleges at 1,796, which is more than twice as many as Karnataka’s 864, the next highest.
  • Tamil Nadu has the most accredited universities at 43.
  • Pondicherry University is among the oldest accredited universities.

About NAAC:

  • The National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) is a government organization that assesses and accredits Higher Education Institutions (HEIs).
  • NAAC is an autonomous body that is funded by the University Grants Commission (UGC).
  • It was established in 1994, on the recommendations of National Policy in Education (1986).
  • It is headquartered in Bangalore.
  • This policy was put forward to “address the issues of deterioration in the quality of education”.
  • NAAC grades institutes in eight grades, viz., A++, A+, A, B++, B+, B, C and D.

About UGC:

  • UGC refers to the University Grants Commission.
  • The UGC India is a statutory body set up by the Government of India in accordance with the UGC Act 1956 under the Ministry of Education (MoE).
  • It is charged with coordination, determination and maintenance of standards of higher education.
  • It was formed on 28 December 1953 by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, the Minister of Education, Natural Resources and Scientific Research. 
  • It provides recognition to universities in India, and disbursements of funds to such recognized universities and colleges.

Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA) Scheme: The Government of India has approved the scheme of Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA) for continuation till 31.03.2026 or till further review, whichever is earlier.

Key Points:

The estimated expenditure of this proposal is Rs 12929.16 crore

Out of which Central Share is Rs 8120.97 crores and the State Share is of Rs 4808.19 crores.

The new phase of the scheme seeks to support around 1600 projects.

About Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA):

  • RUSA is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS) by the Ministry of Education (MoE).
  • It was launched in 2013.
  • It is an overarching scheme, operating in mission mode for funding the state government universities and colleges to achieve the aims of equity, access and excellence.
  • New phase of RUSA targets to reach out to the unserved, underserved areas; remote/ rural areas; difficult geographies; LWE areas; NER; aspirational districts, tier-2 cities, areas with low GER, etc., and to benefit the most disadvantaged areas and SEDGs.
  • It has been designed to implement some of the recommendations and aims of the New Education Policy (NEP).
  • NEP suggests some key changes to the current higher education system to revamp and re-energize it and thereby deliver quality higher education, with equity and inclusion

Significance:

  • Under the new phase of the scheme, State Governments will be supported for Gender inclusion, ICT, Equity Initiatives, Enhancing employability through vocationalisation & skill upgradation.
  • States will also be supported for the creation of new Model Degree Colleges. State Universities will be supported for Multi-Disciplinary Education and Research.
  • Grants will be provided for strengthening both accredited and non-accredited Universities and Colleges for undertaking various activities including teaching-learning in Indian languages.

New India Literacy Programme: The Central Government recently approved a new scheme “New India Literacy Programme" (NILP).

Key Highlights:

  • The NILP has been approved for the period FYs 2022-2027 to cover all the aspects of Adult Education.
  • It aims to align with National Education Policy 2020 and Budget Announcements 2021-22.
  • This programme is expected to cost Rs 1037.90 crore with the central government providing Rs 700 crore and the states providing Rs 337.90 crore, respectively.
  • The ministry has replaced the term ‘Education for All’ instead of ‘Adult Education,’ because the previous term didn’t represent all non-literates who are in the age group of 15 years and above.
  • The scheme is also in line with the announcements made in Budget 2021-22.
  • In the Union Budget 2021-22, an announcement had been made to enable increased access of resources, online modules covering the entire gamut of adult education will be introduced.

Salient features of NILP:

  • School will be the Unit for the implementation of the scheme.
  • Schools to be used for conducting surveys of beneficiaries and Voluntary Teachers (VTs).
  • Different strategies are to be adopted for different age cohorts.
  • The scheme will cover non-literates of the age of 15 years and above in all states/UTs in the country.
  • Foundational Literacy and Numeracy will be imparted through Critical Life Skills to them.
  • Performance Grading Index (PGI) for State/UT and district level will show the performance of States and UTs to implement the scheme and achievements on yearly basis by weighing both the physical and financial progress through the UDISE portal.

Objectives of NILP :

The objectives of NILP are as follows:

  • To impart foundational literacy and numeracy.
  • To cover other components which are necessary for a citizen of the 21st century such as critical life skills including financial literacy, digital literacy, commercial skills, health care and awareness, child care and education, and family welfare. 
  • To focus on vocational skills development with a view towards obtaining local employment along with basic education including preparatory, middle, and secondary stage equivalency.
  • Continuing education including engaging holistic adult education courses in sciences, arts, culture, technology, recreation, and sports as well as various other areas of interest to local learners, such as more advanced material on critical life skills.

Implementation:

  • The Ministry of Education (MoE) will be the implementing ministry of this scheme.
  • The scheme will be implemented through volunteerism through online mode.
  • The training, orientation, workshops of volunteers, maybe organized through face-to-face mode.
  • All material and resources shall be provided digitally for easy access to registered volunteers through easily accessible digital modes like radio, TV, cell phone-based free or open-source Apps or portals, etc.

Intended beneficiaries:

  • The scheme will cover non-literates of the age of 15 years and above in all states/UTs.

Target:

  • The target for Foundational Literacy and Numeracy for Financial Years 2022 to 2027 is five crore learners @ 1.00 crore per year by using Online Teaching, Learning and Assessment System OTLAS in collaboration with National Informatics Centre, NCERT and NIOS in which a learner may register him or herself with essential information like name, date of birth, gender, Aadhaar number, mobile number etc.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PDRD Grant: Ministry of Finance has recently released the monthly Post Devolution Revenue Deficit (PDRD) Grant of 9, 871 crore rupees to 17 States.

Key Highlights:

  • This was the 11th installment of the PDRD grant released to the States.
  • Ministry of Finance said that the grants are released to the States as per the recommendations of the 15th Finance Commission to meet the gap in Revenue Accounts of the States post-devolution.
  • The Commission has recommended PDRD grants to 17 States and the same being released in equal monthly installments.
  • The Fifteenth Finance Commission has recommended a total Post Devolution Revenue Deficit Grant of 1,18,452 crore rupees to 17 States in the financial year 2021-22.
  • An amount of over one lakh 8 thousand crore rupees has been released to the eligible States so far.
  • The States that have been recommended Post Devolution Revenue Deficit Grant by the Fifteenth Finance Commission are:
  1. Andhra Pradesh,
  2. Assam,
  3. Haryana,
  4. Himachal Pradesh,
  5. Karnataka,
  6. Kerala,
  7. Manipur,
  8. Meghalaya,
  9. Mizoram,
  10. Nagaland,
  11. Punjab,
  12. Rajasthan,
  13. Sikkim,
  14. Tamil Nadu,
  15. Tripura,
  16. Uttarakhand and
  17. West Bengal.

What is Post Devolution Revenue Deficit Grants?

  • The Post Devolution Revenue Deficit Grants (PDRD) are provided to the States under Article 275 of the Constitution.
  • The grants are released to the States as per the recommendations of the Fifteenth Finance Commission to meet the gap in Revenue Accounts of the States post-devolution.

Purpose of the grant:

The PDRD grants are released for the following purposes:-

  • To help the state governments meet the expense of the schemes,
  • To promote the welfare of the scheduled tribes.
  • To increase the administration of scheduled areas.
  • These grants aim to correct inter–state disparities and to coordinate the expansion of welfare schemes of the state.

Draft National Air Sports Policy (NASP 2022): The Minister of State for Civil Aviation Gen. Dr. V K Singh recently informed Rajya Sabha that the Government has prepared a draft National Air Sports Policy (NASP 2022).

Key Points:

  • NASP 2022 has been prepared to promote air sports in the country.
  • The Ministry of Civil Aviation had released a draft National Air Sports Policy (NASP) for public feedback.
  • The Government has received the feedback and is now examining the comments on draft National Air Sports Policy.
  • Under the policy, domestic design, development and manufacturing of air sports equipment will be promoted in line with Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan.

About Draft National Air Sports Policy (NASP):

  • The main purpose of NASP 2022 is to make India one of the top air sports nations by 2030.
  • The mission is to provide a safe, affordable, accessible, enjoyable and sustainable air sports ecosystem in India.
  • It covers sports like aerobatics, aeromodelling, amateur-built and experimental aircraft, ballooning, drones, gliding, hang gliding and paragliding; microlighting and paramotoring; skydiving and vintage aircraft.
  • It seeks to leverage India’s huge potential for air sports given its large geographical expanse, diverse topography and fair weather conditions.

Objectives of NASP:

The main objectives of NASP are as follows

  • Promotion of air sports culture in the country
  • Adoption of international best practices in air sports.
  • Development of India as a preferred global hub for air sports.
  • Development of effective governance structure.
  • Enhancement of participation of Indian sportspersons in global air sports events.
  • Promotion of design, development and manufacturing of air sports equipment in India.

Air Sports Federation of India (ASFI):

  • An Air Sports Federation of India (ASFI) will be established as the apex governing body.
  • Associations for each air sport will handle day-to-day activities e.g. Paragliding Association of India or Skydiving Association of India etc.
  • The air sports associations shall be accountable to ASFI with respect to the regulatory oversight and for providing safe, affordable, accessible, enjoyable and sustainable conduct of their respective air sport.
  • It will represent India at FAI and other global platforms related to air sports.
  • All competitions in India will be conducted as per the guidelines laid down by FAI.
  • Greater participation and success of Indian sportspersons in global air sports events will be facilitated.

About FAI:

  • The Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) is the world governing body for air sports. 
  • It is headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Penal Action:

  • Air sports by their very nature involve a higher level of risk than flying a regular aircraft and NASP 2022 places a strong focus on ensuring international best practices in safety.
  • Therefore, ASFI will take penal action in form of financial penalties, dismissal, or suspension, against air sports associations, in case they are not able to enforce safety standards.

Funding:

  • Long-term funding for the development of air sports in India shall come from sponsors, corporate investors, membership fees, events and media rights.
  • ASFI can also seek financial support from the Government of India (GoI) for the promotion of air sports, especially in the initial years.

GST on Air Sports equipment:

  • To make air sports affordable to the common public, the GoI will request the GST Council to consider rationalizing the GST rate on-air sports equipment to 5% or less.

Drone import banned: The government of India (GoI) has banned the import of drones other than for defence, security and research purposes with immediate effect on February 9, 2022.

Key Points:

  • The decision has been taken with a view to promoting ‘Made in India’ drones.
  • The import of drones for research and development, defence and security purposes will though be allowed.
  • The import of drone parts and will not require any approvals.

DGFT Notification:

  • The Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) under the commerce and industry ministry has issued a notification banning the import of foreign drones.
  • The notification read, “Import policy for drones in CBU (Completely Built-Up)/CKD (Completely Knocked Down)/SKD (Semi Knocked Down) form… is prohibited with exceptions provided for R and D, defence and security purposes."

Exceptions:

  • The importance of drones by government entities and educational institutions recognized by central or state government, the government recognized research entities and drone manufacturers will be allowed in CBU, SKD, or CKD form.
  • It will though be subject to import authorization issued by DGFT.
  • The import of drones for defence and security purposes will also be allowed subject to approval from the DGFT.

Steps taken to boost 'Made in India' drones:

  • The government has taken a series of steps to boost domestic manufacturing of drones and drone components including announcing a Rs 120-crore Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme and liberalizing drone operation rules.
  • The Civil Aviation Ministry also launched an airspace map of India, demarcating areas where drones can be used without permission and areas in which drones cannot be operated without obtaining prior permission from authorities.

Background:

  • Earlier, in September 2020, the Union Cabinet cleared a production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme to make India a drone hub by 2030.
  • The PLI scheme provides up to a 20 % incentive to manufacturers of drones and drone components.
  • The government allocated Rs 120 crore for the scheme.
  • It will be spread over three years.
  • This amount is nearly double the combined turnover of all domestic drone manufacturers in FY21.

Drone Rules 2021:

  • India announced the new Drone Rules 2021 in August 2021.
  • The new rules reduced compliances and fees required to be paid to operate drones.
  • No security clearance will be required before registration for the operation of drones.
  • The centre also plans to develop drone corridors for cargo deliveries.
  • The coverage of drones has also been increased from 300 kg to 500 kg to include heavy payload-carrying drones and drone taxis.
  • The maximum penalty has also been reduced to Rs 1 lakh. 

Additional Info:

What is a drone?

  • A drone is an unmanned aircraft without any human pilot, crew, or passengers on board.
  • Drones are more formally known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or unmanned aircraft systems.
  • It includes adding a ground-based controller and a system of communications with the UAV.
  • The flight of UAVs may operate under remote control by a human operator, as remotely-piloted aircraft (RPA), or with various degrees of autonomy, such as autopilot assistance, up to fully autonomous aircraft that have no provision for human intervention.

Uses of Drones:

  • UAVs were originally developed through the twentieth century for military missions too "dull, dirty or dangerous" for humans.
  • However, by the 21st century, as control technologies improved and costs fell, their use expanded from military to many non-military applications.
  • The drone usage for non-military applications include:-
  • Search and rescue
  • Traffic and weather monitoring
  • Aerial photography
  • Product deliveries
  • Agriculture
  • Policing and surveillance Infrastructure inspections
  • Science
  • Smuggling
  • Drone racing

 

 

MPhil Programme:  Delhi University has officially notified that it would be scrapping its MPhil programme from the coming academic year (2022-23).

Key Highlights:

  • This decision is in line with the new National Education Policy (NEP) directives.
  • The university will be implementing the policy from 2022-23.

Note: The National Education Policy document simply states that the MPhil programme should be discontinued. The document does not provide a reason or rationale.

About MPhil:

  • The Master of Philosophy (MPhil) is a postgraduate degree.
  • An MPhil typically includes a taught portion and a significant research portion, during which a thesis project is conducted under supervision.

Battery swapping policy for EVs: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, On February 1, 2022, during her Budget speech of 2022 announced a “Battery swapping policy for EVs”.

Key Points Battery Swapping Policy for EVs

  • The policy was announced in a bid to scale, promote and use electric vehicles (EVs) in India.
  • It is being brought out considering the constraints of space in urban areas for setting up charging stations.
  • The interoperability standards for EV batteries will also be formulated which thereby has to be adhered to by the brands.
  • This policy will encourage, private players to develop innovative and sustainable models for the battery as a service.
  • This, in turn, will help in increasing the efficiency in the electric vehicle ecosystem.
  • The infrastructure cost and the operational framework of EVs will be enhanced.
  • Furthermore, 25,000 kms of expansion will be made on the national highway thus adding spark to the EV segment.
  • In addition, will promote a shift in the use of public transport in urban areas will be promoted by the government.
  • This will be further complemented by clean tech and governance solutions, special mobility zones with zero fossil fuel policy and EV vehicles.

Significance of the policy:

  • This move will give a push to the growth of EVs in the coming years.
  • This decision has been welcomed by the EV players.
  • The introduction of a battery swapping policy and recognizing energy & battery as a service will not only help in developing charging infrastructure and increasing the use of EVs in public transportation but will also create new path for companies to venture into battery swapping business.
  • Creating special clean zones will further accelerate the adoption of EVs as well as spread awareness amongst citizens. This policy will benefit the whole segment, i.e., e-cars, E2W, E3W, and buses.

Initiatives taken by the Government of India (GoI):

GoI aims to achieve target of electric vehicles to make up 30 percent of new sales of cars and two-wheelers by 2030.

India launched the following:-

National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP) in 2013 with the objective of achieving national fuel security by promoting hybrid and electric vehicles in India.

Faster Adoption & Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric vehicles in India (FAME India) in 2015, to build a sustainable EV ecosystem. It focuses on 4 areas, namely Technology Development, Pilot Projects, Demand Creation, and Charging Infrastructure.

What are EVs?

  • An EV is a shortened acronym for an electric vehicle.
  • EVs are vehicles that are either partially or fully powered on electric power.
  • It is a vehicle that uses one or more electric motors for propulsion.
  • It can be powered by a collector system, with electricity from extravehicular sources, or it can be powered autonomously by a battery (sometimes charged by solar panels, or by converting fuel to electricity using fuel cells or a generator).

What is Battery swapping?

  • Battery swapping is a process whereby a private EV owner can exchange a depleted battery for a fully charged one, without having to wait for the battery to charge up to a sufficient amount. 

UGC NHEQF Framework 2022 Based on NEP 2020: The University Grants Commission (UGC) has released a Draft National Higher Educational Qualification Framework (NHEQF).

Key Points:

  • The draft framework has been released as a part of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 to assess students at different levels.
  • All the higher education institutes in the country are to be brought under this new framework.
  • The new framework will facilitate transparency and create an internationally comparable framework.
  • Also, it will address the increasing size of the higher education system needs in the country.

About NHEQF:

  • NHEQF will not promote a uniform curriculum or national common syllabus for all the higher education students but instead, the framework will make sure all the education systems in the country are providing quality education.  
  • It seeks to create a performance benchmark for the higher education system in the country.
  • According to the draft document, the NHEQF has set up certain parameters of assessments for students in higher education institutions and divided it in levels 5 to 10.
  • Level 5 represents the learning outcome of a first-year student in a UG programme.
  • Level 10 represents the learning outcome of a student in doctoral level programme.
  • The proposed framework outlines various "descriptors" or parameters for each learning level that can be used to assess pupils at each level.
  • At every level, the students are assessed based on the following:

Decision making abilities

  1. Application of knowledge and skills
  2. Cognitive and technical skills
  3. Employment ready skills
  4. Entrepreneurship skills
  5. Knowledge and skill application
  • The draft NHEQF also establishes the number of credits required to complete the different levels of the four-year undergraduate programme, master's degrees, and doctoral degrees, in accordance with the NEP's framework.

How are credits fixed in the framework?

  • As per the draft NHEQF, the new framework has fixed the credits of the programme based on the National Education Policy 2020.
  • Different level of credits has been fixed for UG, PG and doctoral programmes.
  • The students willing to leave a UG programme with a certificate will require 40 credits.
  • Students leaving the programme with a diploma after two years will require 80 credits.
  • The students leaving after three years will require 120 credits.
  • Those leaving with honours after four years of UG will require 160 credits.

Note: One credit is equivalent to one hour of teaching either lecture or tutorial or two hours of practical work/field work per week.

 

Non-Renewal of FCRA Registration: The Supreme Court recently declined to entertain a plea seeking interim relief to allow the continuation of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) licenses of nearly 6,000 NGOs, which were only valid till September end 2021.

Key Points:

  • The Apex Court asked them to go back to the government for redressal of their grievances on the non-renewal of their FCRA registration.
  • The plea filed by US-based NGO 'Global Peace Initiative' had come up for hearing before a bench comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and C T Ravikumar.
  • The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2020 was introduced in Lok Sabha on September 20, 2020, which amended FCRA Act, 2010.
  • The Act regulates the acceptance and utilization of foreign contributions by individuals, associations, and companies.
  • The plea claimed the FCRA Amendment Act, 2020 significantly hampered their activities and operations.

About Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA), 2010:

  • The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 is an act of the Parliament of India, by the 42nd Act of 2010.
  • The FCRA Act is implemented by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • The act, in its consolidating form, was originally passed in 1976 and majorly modified in 2010.
  • FCRA, 2010 has been enacted by the Parliament to consolidate the law to regulate the acceptance and utilization of foreign contribution (especially monetary donation) or foreign hospitality by certain individuals or associations, or companies.
  • The act regulates the foreign funding of voluntary organizations in India.
  • Under the Act, donating organizations need to register themselves every 5 years.
  • A person with a definite educational, cultural, economic, religious, or social programme can accept foreign contributions after registration or permission from the Central Government.
  • However, election candidates, members of any legislature (MP and MLAs), Political parties, publishers of a registered Newspaper, judges, government servants, or employees of any corporation owned by the government cannot accept the foreign contributions.
  • This Act prohibits the acceptance and utilization of foreign contribution or foreign hospitality for any activities detrimental to national interest and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
  • The Act has been used by the Government of India to freeze bank accounts of certain NGOs who it found were affecting India's national interest for wrong purposes.

Draft UGCF 2022: The Delhi University recently released a draft Undergraduate Curriculum Framework 2022 (UGCF-2022) formulated in accordance with the National Education Policy and sought feedback from stakeholders.

Key Highlights:

  • The new UG curriculum will come into force from next year when the university shifts to a four-year undergraduate programme (FYUP).
  • As per the statement issued by the university, the Draft UGCF has been uploaded on the website of the university and a link for submitting feedback through a Google form will remain active till January 31, 2022.
  • The UGCF is an attempt to include two of the most talked-about features of the NEP – multi-disciplinarity and multiple exit points (leaving the course at the end of each year with a different degree).

Key points about UGCF-2022:

  • The UGCF provides the curriculum framework that will be adopted in the 2022-23 academic session when DU shifts to an FYUP.
  • However, it does not include the syllabi for courses, which is prepared independently.
  • The new draft has a total of 176 credits on offer.
  • The number of credits is determined by the study load.
  • To clear a semester, students need a certain number of credits which are determined by the importance of the course and the teaching-learning hours that are put into it.
  • As per the new framework, to get a four-year UG degree with a major in a specific discipline, students need to get a minimum of 50% of credits (88) in that discipline.
  • As of now, DU follows the Choice Based Credit System, according to which there are a total of 148 credits for a three-year Honours programme, and 132 credits for a Programme course – which is a course in which a combination of subjects is taught, as opposed to the focus being on one main subject in Honours courses. 
  • For instance, a BA Programme in Economics & History.

Objective:

The objective of the UGCF is to “align with the NEP” so as -

  • To promote each student’s holistic development in both academic and non-academic spheres.
  • To provide flexibility to students so that learners have the ability to choose their learning trajectories and programmes.
  • To eliminate harmful hierarchies among disciplines/fields of study and silos between different areas of learning, among others.

About University of Delhi:

  • The University of Delhi, informally known as Delhi University, is a collegiate public central university located in New Delhi, India.
  • It was founded in 1922 by an Act of the Central Legislative Assembly and is recognized as an Institute of Eminence by the University Grants Commission (UGC).
  • It consists of three colleges, two faculties, and 750 students at its founding, the University of Delhi has since become India's largest institution of higher learning and among the largest in the world.
  • The university has 16 faculties and 86 departments distributed across its North and South campuses.
  • It has 77 constituent colleges and five other institutes.
  • The Vice President of India serves as the university chancellor.
  • Its motto is निष्ठा धृति: सत्यम् (Nishtha Dhriti Satyam (Sanskrit)) meaning Dedication, Steadfastness and Truth.

Mobile App “MyCGHS”: Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Dr. Mansukh Mandaviyadigitally launched the revamped CGHS (Central Government Health Scheme) website (www.cghs.gov.in) and mobile app, “MyCGHS” on January 24, 2022.

Key Highlights:

  • The new CGHS website and its extension as a Mobile Application called “MyCGHS” is a significant move.
  • The Website has been developed in accordance with GIGW (Guidelines for Indian Government Websites).
  • The website has been made 3U compliant, i.e., Usable, User-Centric and Universally Accessible.
  • The updated features include various beneficiary-friendly features.

About The Updated Features:

  • It has been designed for ease of service delivery for the beneficiaries within the safe confines of his home, especially during the covid pandemic.
  • The new features will benefit more than 40 lakh beneficiaries (both in-service and retired personnel) with real-time information from the convenience of their homes.
  • As mandated by the GIGW, the site has been made Bilingual (Hindi and English) with the provision to make it multi-lingual in the future.
  • There is a direct link to the eSanjeevani Teleconsultation facility through the CGHS website.

Aim:

The move aimed for ease of service delivery for the beneficiaries within the safe confines of his home especially during the COVID pandemic.

About eSanjeevani:

  • eSanjeevani also called the National Teleconsultation Service is the first-ever online OPD (outpatient) consultation service offered by the government of India to citizens.
  • The scheme was started in November 2019.
  • It is run by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
  • It is a doctor to doctor telemedicine system which is being implemented under the Ayushman Bharat Health and Wellness Centre (AB-HWCs) Programme.
  • According to the government, this is the first time the government of a country is offering a service of this kind to its citizens.
  • It aims to provide healthcare services to patients in their homes.
  • It tackles the issues of uneven distribution of healthcare personnel and infrastructure by bridging the divide that exists between urban and rural, rich and poor, in terms of access to healthcare services.

Note: The first state to launch this service was Andhra Pradesh.

About Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS):

  • The Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) is the nodal healthcare provider to Central Government employees, pensioners and certain other categories of beneficiaries and their dependents enrolled under the scheme.
  • It caters to the healthcare needs of eligible beneficiaries covering all four pillars of the democratic setup in India namely Legislature, Judiciary, Executive and Press.
  • It is unique of its kind due to the large volume of its beneficiary base and pan India presence providing healthcare through allopathic as well as indigenous systems of medicine.
  • In order to cater to India’s increasing digital penetration, it has laid emphasis on the delivery of services through various online channels.

Indian Policy Current Affairs - January 2022

NCSK: The Union Cabinet has recently approved the extension of the tenure of the National Commission for Safai Karamcharis (NCSK) for three years beyond 31.3.2022.

Key points:

  • The tenure of the present NCSK is ending in March 2022.
  • The total implication of the extension for three years would be approximately Rs.43.68 crore.
  • The major beneficiaries would be the Safai Karamcharis and identified manual scavengers in the country since the NCSK for 3 more years beyond 31.3.2022.
  • The number of Manual Scavengers identified under the Manual Scavengers Act, 2013 as of 31.12.2021 is 58098.

Definition of Manual Scavenging:

  • Manual scavenging is defined as “the removal of human excrement from public streets and dry latrines, cleaning septic tanks, gutters and sewers”.
  • According to the 2013 Act, the definition of manual scavengers was broadened to include people employed to clean septic tanks, ditches or railway tracks.

About NCSK:

  • National Commission for Safai Karamcharis (NCSK) is a non-statutory body under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
  • It does not enjoy the powers of the civil court.
  • NCSK was established in the year 1993 as per the provisions of the NCSK Act 1993 initially for the period upto 31.3.1997.
  • Later the validity of the Act was initially extended upto 31.3.2002 and thereafter upto 29.2.2004.
  • The NCSK Act ceased to have effect from 29.2.2004.
  • After that, the tenure of the NCSK has been extended as a non-statutory body from time to time through resolutions.
  • The tenure of the present Commission is upto 31.3.2022.

Functions:

  • As per the provisions of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013, the NCSK has been assigned the following work -
  • To monitor the implementation of the Act
  • Tender advice for its effective implementation to the Centre and State Governments
  • Enquire into complaints regarding contravention/non-implementation of the provisions of the Act.

Composition of NCSK:

The National Commission for Safai Karamcharis comprises

  • A Chairman (in the rank and status of the union minister for States)
  • 4 members, including a lady member (in the rank and status of the Secretary to the Government of India)
  • A Secretary (in the rank of Joint Secretary to the Government of India)
  • Other supporting staff.

About Prohibition of Employment of Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013:

  • The prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013, is an enactment in opposition to manual scavenging, which prohibits all types of cleaning of excreta manually and dry latrines, also cleaning of sewers, septic tanks, and gutters without proper types of equipment or protective gear.

Key Highlights of the Bill:

  • The Act prohibits the employment of manual scavengers, manual cleaning of sewers and septic tanks without protective equipment, and the construction of insanitary latrines.
  • No person, local authority, or agency (like Municipal Corporations) should engage or employ people for hazardous cleaning of sewers and septic tanks. Mechanized cleaning of septic tanks is the prescribed norm.
  • It seeks to rehabilitate manual scavengers and provide for their alternative employment.
  • Each local authority, cantonment board, and railway authority is responsible for surveying insanitary latrines within its jurisdiction.
  • They shall also construct a number of sanitary community latrines.
  • Each occupier of insanitary latrines shall be responsible for converting or demolishing the latrine at his own cost.
  • If he fails to do so, the local authority shall convert the latrine and recover the cost from him.
  • The District Magistrate and the local authority shall be the implementing authorities.
  • Offenses under the Bill shall be cognizable and non-bailable and may be tried summarily.

Note: The existing law prohibiting manual scavenging was enacted under the State List.

 

Policy on International Roaming SIM Cards: As part of the policy reforms initiated in telecom sector, the Department of Telecom (DOT) has issued the “Revised terms & conditions for issue/renewal of NOC for sale/rent of International Roaming SIM Cards/ Global Calling Cards of Foreign Operators in India”.

Key Points:

  • The revised terms & conditions strengthen the mechanism to protect the interests of the Indian public visiting abroad and also streamline the procedures in line with the other licenses/registrations.
  • The revised policy mandates the NOC holders to make provision for providing information regarding customer care service, contact details, escalation matrix, itemized bills, information related to tariff plans, services offered, etc.
  • Provision has also been made to strengthen the Billing and consumer grievance redressal mechanism to facilitate time-bound resolution of grievance by the NOC holders with provision for Appellate Authority in DOT.
  • Further, the revised policy also streamlines the application process/ other procedures for the NOC holders in line with the other licenses/ registrations, etc. in the DOT and to facilitate the resolution/ management of the issues of the NOCs holders.

 

R&R policy: The Union Minister of Coal Pralhad Joshi recently unveiled the rehabilitation and resettlement policy (R&R Policy) of NLC India Ltd (NLCIL).

Key Highlights:

  • Minister Joshi who virtually launched the new R&R policy applicable to landowners of NLCIL mines area lauded the efforts of NLCIL and the Tamil Nadu government in framing a very flexible rehabilitation policy with multiple options available to the affected people.
  • He ensured that compensation to the affected villagers will be based on a fair and transparent process.
  • He said that NLC India Ltd, a Navratna public sector enterprise under the Ministry of Coal has been playing a pivotal role in ensuring India’s energy security during the last six decades of performance.
  • He stated that this policy will pave the way for sustainable livelihood and make every village Atma Nirbhar.
  • The new policy has provisions for enhanced amenities to project affected families.
  • He added that NLCL has signed an MOU with the Tamil Nadu government to impart skill development to the youth under Skill India Mission (SIM).
  • Minister of State for Coal, Mines and Railways, Raosaheb Patil Danve also, in his address at the virtual function said that besides benefitting the villagers, the policy will lead to a further increase in energy production by NLCIL.

Background:

  • NLCIL commenced its operations in Tamil Nadu way back in 1956 in lignite mining and lignite-based power generation.
  • Over a period of more than six decades, the company has diversified into coal-based Power Generation, Renewable Power Primarily Solar and Coal Mining.
  • In this process, the Company has made PAN India presence with 50.60 MTPA mining and 6,061 MW power generating capacity.

RADPFI Guidelines: The Rural Area Development Plan Formulation and Implementation (RADPFI) Guidelines were recently released by Union Minister Shri Giriraj Singh.

Key Highlights:

  • The plan has been revised to increase rural prosperity.
  • It will serve as the basis for rural transformation and enable effective Land use planning in rural areas.
  • The guidelines were prepared by the Ministry of Panchayati Raj.
  • The guidelines have been prepared to transform rural India and to promote rural prosperity.
  • Mr Singh called upon Panchayati Raj Institutions to take the guidelines as a Sankalp Patra for vision India 2047 and to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set up by the United Nations and intended to be achieved by the year 2030. 

Focus of the plan:

  • This new Guideline (2021) is focused on the following:
  • Transforming rural India and ensuring empowerment of rural India and promoting rural prosperity.
  • Typology of villages to prepare the spatial development plan which includes population, agro-climatic zones, Hill areas, disaster occurrence, urban-peri-urban areas and villages, Near to NH/SH, and Resilience strategies as suggested by BIS.
  • Dealing with different development Land Use standards for different areas with varied characteristics.
  • Facilitating the planned spatial development of rural areas.
  • Including Village Town Planning Scheme (VPS) through community based on Collaborative Planning.
  • Planning for environmental benefit and disaster preparedness.
  • Linking to 15th CFC and respective SFCs.
  • Improving e-governance in villages through Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI).
  • Integrating and Consolidation of GP Development with RURBAN CLUSTERS, Block, District Plan, as per the 73rd and 74th CAA and GPDP.
  • Using the SVAMITVA (and other digital tools) for the Abadi area (linking to land records).

Significance:

  • The revised RADPFI guidelines would serve as the basis for rural transformation and enable effective Land use planning in rural areas.
  • The release of RADPFI guidelines would supplement the efforts of the Central Government such as the SVAMITVA Scheme of Ministry of Panchayati Raj and RURBAN Mission of Ministry of Rural Development and facilitate better utilization of Geospatial information.
  • It also seeks to reduce the migration of the villagers towards the cities by providing the same facilities and infrastructure, opportunities for livelihood and resources which are available in the urban areas.

How will the plan be implemented?

  • The leading institutions in the country will participate in implementing the plan.
  • These institutions will be supported by NIC and NRSC.
  • Most architectural institutions have been selected.
  • These institutions will select two rural villages.
  • They will then discuss with the respective state governments.

Why is there a need for the plan?

  • Although many spatial development initiatives have been implemented in India especially in urban areas, there has been no comprehensive exercise for rural spatial planning of panchayats and villages.
  • The town areas are increasing and the spatial development in gram panchayats is not well planned.
  • The census towns are increasing.
  • It is essential to link the agro-climatic regions with the Sustainable Development Goals.

IEPFA: The Investor Education and Protection Fund Authority (IEPFA) under the aegis of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) through a virtual event.

Objective:

  • The main objective of signing the MoU is to promote Investor Education and Financial literacy among youth by utilizing the tele-lecturing facility of Gyan Darshan Channel (EPMC - Electric Media Production Centre) through distance learning mode.
  • This association with IGNOU/Gyan Darshan channel will help in propagating the message of Investor Education and Awareness among a large group of present and prospective stakeholders.

Key Points:

  • This is for the first time that IEPF Authority has entered into a pact for using electronic and digital platforms for conduction IAPs.
  • The panel of resource persons for the lecture series would include experts from professional institutions such as ICAI, ICSI & Senior officials from IEPFA, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs and other regulators.
  • The proposed lecture series of 75 episodes will be live tele-lecturing series on 24x7 Gyan Darshan TV channel.
  • It is a part of the ongoing celebration of the yearlong activity commemorating the 75th anniversary of India’s Independence under “Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav”.

About IEPFA:

  • Investor Education and Protection Fund Authority (IEPFA) was established by the Government of India on 7th September 2016.
  • IEPFA has been established under Section 125 of the Companies Act 2013 for the administration of the IEPF fund as per section 125 (3) of Companies Act 2013.
  • It works under the administrative control of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs.
  • Corporate Affairs Secretary Rajesh Verma is the current Ex-Officio Chairperson of IEPFA.

Objectives of IEPFA:

  • The authority is entrusted with the responsibility of promoting Investor Education, Awareness & Protection, refunding unclaimed shares, dividends and other amounts transferred to it under sections 124 and 125 of the Companies Act 2013 to the rightful claimants.

Guidelines for Charging Infrastructure for EVs: Centre has promulgated revised consolidated Guidelines and Standards for Charging Infrastructure for Electric Vehicles (EVs).

Key Points about the guidelines:

  • These guidelines are exhaustive and include provisions for individual owners of Electric Vehicles as well as Public Charging Stations.
  • In a significant step, Owners may charge their EVs at their residences and offices using their existing electricity connections.
  • The guidelines provide that any individual or entity is free to set up public charging stations without the requirement of a license.
  • These can be set up provided that such stations meet the technical, safety and performance standards and protocols laid down by the Ministry of Power, Bureau of Energy Efficiency and Central Electricity Authority from time to time.
  • An exhaustive list of compliance requirements for the Public Charging Station has also been outlined.
  • The guidelines provide not only the prevailing international charging standards available in the market but also the new Indian charging standards.
  • In order to make charging stations financially viable, a revenue-sharing model has been put in place for land used.

Objective:

These guidelines and standards have been promulgated with the objective of enabling faster adoption of electric vehicles in India by ensuring safe, reliable, accessible and affordable Charging Infrastructure and eco-system.

Guidelines for Universal Accessibility: The Central Public Works Department (CPWD), recently released the new Harmonized Guidelines and Standards for Universal Accessibility in India 2021 through its website.

Note: However, a project representative stated that a few small changes were in the works.

Key Points:

  • The guidelines are an update of the Harmonized Guidelines and Space Standards for Barrier-Free Built Environment for Persons with Disabilities and Elderly Persons which was released in February 2016, under the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA).
  • The new guidelines have covered several aspects of the built environment, ranging from the design plan to implementation.
  • It has been drafted by a team of the Indian Institute of Technology-Roorkee and the National Institute of Urban Affairs of MoHUA.

Key points about the revisions made:

  • The revised guidelines aim to give a holistic approach.
  • Earlier, the guidelines were for creating a barrier-free environment, but now we are focusing on universal accessibility.
  • As stated in the guidelines, ramps are significant for providing an accessible mobility option. But ramps should adhere to the given guidelines.
  • The guidelines provide the gradient and length of ramps — for example, for a length of six metres, the gradient should be 1:12. The minimum clear width of a ramp should be 1,200 mm.
  • Guidelines have not only been provided for persons with disabilities (PwD) but also for those involved in planning projects, starting from the construction of government buildings to master-planning cities.
  • The guidelines cover making public buildings and transport fully accessible for wheelchair users.
  • It also covers other users who may experience temporary problems, for instance, a parent pushing a child’s pram while carrying groceries or other bags, and women wearing saris.
  • It calls to incorporate accessibility symbols for PwD, family-friendly facilities and transgender, among the symbols for other user groups.

About Central Public Works Department (CPWD):

  • CPWD works under the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs).
  • It was founded in July 1854 when Lord Dalhousie established a central agency for the execution of public works and set up Ajmer Provincial Division.

Functions of CPWD:

  • It deals with buildings, bridges, roads, flyovers, complicated structures such as stadiums, auditoriums, bunkers, laboratories, border roads, hills roads, border fencing, etc.
  • The Director-General of CPWD functions as Technical Advisor to the Government of India and is consulted in various technical matters relating to construction and maintenance.
  • The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) consults CPWD with regard to the construction and maintenance of the Embassy buildings abroad.

 

NEAT 3.0: Union Education Minister and Skill Development Minister Dharmendra Pradhan recently launched NEAT 3.0.

Note: NEAT stands for National Educational Alliance for Technology

Key Points:

  • NEAT 3.0, is a single platform to provide the best-developed ed-tech solutions and courses to students of the country.
  • The minister also launched AICTE prescribed technical books in regional languages.
  • He said that NEAT would be a game-changer in bridging the digital divide, especially among the economically disadvantaged students and also in fulfilling the knowledge-based requirement of India and the world.
  • He informed that 58 global and Indian start-up ed-tech companies are onboard NEAT and are offering 100 courses and e-resources for bettering learning outcomes, developing employable skills and overcoming learning loss.
  • He also encouraged AICTE to integrate courses in NEAT with skill India to tap the opportunities in emerging areas of skill to boost employability and prepare our youth for the future.
  • He urged that AICTE and ed-tech companies to offer e-resources at the least possible cost.
  • More than 12 lakh socially and economically disadvantaged students have received free ed-tech course coupons worth over Rs 253 crore under NEAT 3.0.

About NEAT:

  • National Educational Alliance for Technology (NEAT) is an initiative to provide the use of best-developed technological solutions in the education sector to enhance the employability of the youth on a single platform for learners' convenience.
  • These solutions use Artificial Intelligence (AI) for a personalized and customized learning experience for better learning outcomes and skill development in the niche areas.
  • AICTE, MoE is acting as the facilitator in the process while ensuring that the solutions are freely available to a large number of socially and economically backward students.
  • NEAT has 58 Education Technology Companies with 100 products that help to develop employable skills, capacity building, and bridge learning gaps.

 

SAAR: Smart Cities Mission, Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs (MoHUA) recently launched the “Smart cities and Academia Towards Action & Research (SAAR)” program.

Key Points:

  • It is a joint initiative of the MoHUA, National Institute of Urban Affairs and leading Indian academic institutions of the country.
  • The initiative has been launched as a part of the Azadi Ka Amrut Mahotsav (AKAM) celebrations across the country.
  • The program marks the 75th anniversary of India’s independence.
  • Under the SAAR program, fifteen premier architecture & planning institutes of the country will be working with Smart Cities to document landmark projects undertaken by the Smart Cities Mission.
  • The documents will not only capture the learnings from best practices but will also provide opportunities for engagement on urban development projects to students.
  • It will enable real-time information flow between urban practitioners and academia.
  • The first activity envisaged under SAAR is to prepare a compendium of 75 landmark urban projects in India under the Smart Cities Mission.
  • The Smart Cities Mission’s urban projects are lighthouse projects to other aspiring cities.
  • MoHUA has said that the compendium of 75 urban projects would be launched by June 2022.

About the compendium:

  • The compendium will act as the first point of reference for future research in the field. It will help disseminate learnings from projects under the Mission.
  • It will act as a repository for Urban Projects.
  • It will contribute to the dissemination of best practices and peer-to-peer learning.

Note: Since the start of the Mission in 2015, the 100 Smart Cities have been developing a total of 5,151 projects with an investment of Rs. 2,05,018 crore.

 

Nai Talim: Vice President while addressing Silver Jubilee Celebrations of Mahatma Gandhi International Hindi University, Wardh recalled that the "Nai Talim" (new education) proposed by Mahatma Gandhi laid emphasis on making mother tongue as the medium of instruction in addition to free compulsory education and skill training to the students.

About Nai Talim:

  • Nai Talim’ was proposed by Mahatma Gandhi in Wardha in 1937.
  • It is a concept of the basic education system
  • He laid emphasis on making mother tongue as the medium of instruction in addition to free compulsory education and skill training to the students.
  • Basic Education is a principle which states that knowledge and work are not separate.
  • Mahatma Gandhi promoted an educational curriculum with the same name based on this pedagogical principle.
  • The three pillars of Gandhi's pedagogy were its focus on the lifelong character of education, its social character and its form as a holistic process.
  • For Gandhi, education is 'the moral development of the person, a process that is by definition 'lifelong'.

Additional News:

  • The Vice President also unveiled the statue of the architect of the Constitution, Babasaheb Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar.
  • He also inaugurated Atal Bihari Vajpayee Bhawan and Chandrashekhar Azad Hostel in the university as part of its Silver Jubilee celebrations.

About Mahatma Gandhi International University, Wardha:

  • Mahatma Gandhi International University, Wardha is teaching foreign languages ​​like French, Spanish, Chinese, and Japanese, etc. in Hindi medium.
  • During the World Hindi Conference held in Nagpur in 1975, a proposal was made to establish an International Hindi University.
  • Subsequently, Mahatma Gandhi International University, Wardha was established by a bill passed by the Parliament in 1997 and Silver Jubilee Celebrations of this University are being organized in 2022.

 

New Tourism Policy: The Government of India (GoI) is planning to implement a new tourist policy that will result in the establishment of five missions across the country.

Key Points:

  • The main aim of the policy is to provide better facilities and services to the tourists visiting India.
  • It will create five missions in the country. They are -
  1. National Green Tourism Mission: To bring sustainability to tourism
  2. National Digital Tourism Mission: To digitize the tourism industry
  3. Sectoral Mission on Skill Development: To provide qualified manpower and trained professionals to the tourism industry
  4. National Mission on Destination Management: To provide coordination among public and private stakeholder
  5. National Mission on Tourism MSMEs: To facilitate startups and MSMEs
  • The other measures to be taken by India are as follows:
  • India will provide five lakh free tourist visas to kick start the functioning of the tourist sector in the country.
  • Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav-based programs showcasing India's culture and heritage will be launched by the Ministry of Tourism so, in order to accomplish this, the ministry will provide incentives.
  • Tourism Week will be organized from organized between January 3 and January 15, 2022.
  • Tourism Ministry will launch a number of initiatives in collaboration with various partners to promote travel to India.
  • India is set to host the G-20 meeting in 2022 so the meet's preparation meeting will be held in various tourist destinations or cities.

Target:

By 2030, the Indian government expects the tourist sector to provide 500 billion dollars to the country's GDP.

About the role of Expo 2020 Dubai in Indian Tourism:

  • India actively participated in Expo 2020 organized by Dubai.
  • The Expo 2020 is the first largest in MEASA (Middle East, Africa and South Asia region) after the COVID times.
  • To sustain tourism, it is necessary for India to actively participate in such foreign expos.

For instance - India and UAE receive 50,000 UAE tourists and 6 million Indian tourists annually respectively.

Note: India – UAE tourism sector is one of the largest tourism sectors in the world.

About Tourism Policy in India:

Origin of Tourism policy in India:

  • Tourism planning in India was started after Independence.
  • The conscious and organized efforts to promote tourism in India were made in 1945 when a committee was set up by the Government under the leadership of Sir John Sargent, then Educational Adviser to the Government of India (Krishna A.G. 1993).
  • Thereafter systematic tourism development took place in India.
  • The tourism planning approach has been evolved in the Second and Third five-year plans.
  • The sixth five-year plan emphasizes tourism as an instrument for economic development, integration and maintaining social harmony.
  • After the 1980s tourism activity gained momentum as an employment generator, source of income, foreign exchange earnings and as a leisure industry.
  • The government has taken several significant measures to promote the tourism industry.

Tourism policy 1982:

  • The First Tourism policy was announced by the Government of India in November 1982.
  • The mission of the First Tourism Policy was to promote sustainable tourism as means of economic growth, social integration and to promote the image of India abroad as a country with a glorious past, a vibrant present and a bright future.
  • Policies to achieve this will be evolved around six broad areas such as -

1. Welcome (Swagat),

2. Information (Suchana),

3. Facilitation (Suvidha),

4. Safety (Suraksha),

5. Cooperation (Sahyog) and

6. Infrastructure Development (Samrachana).

  • This policy also gives importance to conservation of heritage, natural environment, development and promotion of tourist products.

 

Indian Bridge Management System (IBMS): Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari recently said that the Union Government is to frame a policy to know the condition and age of all the bridges across the country.

Key Points:

  • According to Gadkari, the Ministry had prepared the Indian Bridge Management System (IBMS) in order to collect information about all the bridges of the country.
  • This decision was taken as there are no expiry dates for bridges in India and as a result, several accidents and deaths occur.
  • The Centre is now thinking of using stainless steel in the brides being built on the seaside as it will help in increasing the strength and longevity of the bridges as well as making them more secure.
  • Union Minister also highlighted the new-age technologies.
  • According to him, new technology will have to be adopted to connect the spans of bridges.
  • India has a span of 30 meters while Malaysia has a span of 45 meters. A longer span reduces the cost of the bridge by 30-40 percent.

Emphasis on Multi-storey Road projects:

Union Minister Gadkari emphasized on multistorey road projects because land acquisition is difficult in cities so there is a need to build three or four storey roads in the cities.

For instance - A project has been made to run the metro over a two-storey road in Nagpur. Similarly, preparations are being made for a four-storey road project in Pune.

About IBMS:

  • Indian Bridge Management System (IBMS) was launched by the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways.
  • It has been established for developing data in digital form, for identifying and surveying the number of bridges and other structures on the National Highways.
  • This system was launched to create an inventory of all bridges in the country and rate their structural condition so that timely repair and rehabilitation work can be carried out based on the criticality of the structure.
  • It also seeks to sensitize the concerned implementation agency to take corrective measures like repair, rehabilitation, reconstruction, or new construction.
  • IBMS is the largest platform in the world owned by a single owner, with a database that could exceed 1,50,000 bridge structures.
  • So far 1,15,000 bridges have been inventoried, of which 85,000 are culverts and the rest are bridges.

How does IBMS operate?

  • During inventory creation, each bridge is assigned a unique identification number or National Identity Number based on the state, RTO zone and whether it is situated on a National Highway, State Highway, or is a district road.
  • After that, the precise location of the bridge is collected through GPS, in terms of latitude & longitude.
  • Based on this, the bridge is assigned a Bridge Location Number.
  • Thereafter, engineering characteristics like the design, materials, type of bridge, its age, loading, traffic lane, length, the width of carriageway, etc., are collected and are used to assign a Bridge Classification Number to the structure.
  • These are then used to do a structural rating of the structure on a scale of 0 to 9, and each bridge is assigned a Structural Rating Number.
  • In addition to the structural rating, the bridges are also being assigned Socio-Economic Bridge Rating Number which will decide the importance of the structure in relation to its contribution to the daily socio-economic activity of the area in its vicinity.
  • Based on this inventory IBMS will analyze data and identify bridges that need attention.
  • Further inspection will be carried out wherever required to improve the operational availability of the structure, enhance its life and prioritize repair and rehabilitation work.
  • The data will help to decide which bridge needs critical attention, or which needs to be rebuilt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Indian Policy Current Affairs - December 2021

Vernacular Innovation Programme: Niti Aayog’s Atal Innovation Mission has recently unveiled Vernacular Innovation Programme.

Key Points:

• Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) under the NITI Aayog has developed a vernacular innovation program (VIP)

• VIP is an initiative to lower the language barrier in the field of innovation and entrepreneurship.

• VIP will enable innovators and entrepreneurs in India to have access to the innovation ecosystem in 22 scheduled languages.

By providing access to learning in one’s language and culture, Atal Innovation Mission aims to create equal opportunity for the vernacular innovators.

The unveiling of VIP by AIM is aimed at empowering innovators and entrepreneurs across the country by removing the language barrier.

Under the programme, AIM will be training a vernacular task force (VTF) in each of the 22 scheduled languages.

Each task force comprises of vernacular language teachers, subject experts, technical writers, and the leadership of regional Atal Incubation Centers (AICs).

Under the drive AIM NITI Aayog is launching a train-the-trainer program where it will collaborate with the Design Department of IIT Delhi to coach the VTF in design thinking and entrepreneurship and the adaptation of these subjects in the 22 languages and cultures.

Upon training the task force over the period of December 2021 to April 2022, the ecosystem will be opened to vernacular innovators.

India arguably is the first nation in the world to launch such an initiative where an innovation ecosystem catering to 22 languages plus English is being built.

IREDA & THDCIL ink MoU: Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency Ltd. (IREDA) has recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with THDC India Ltd (THDCIL).

Key Higlights:

  • The MoU with THDCIL is the sixth one signed by IREDA within one year for providing its consultancy services for developers of RE and Energy transition.
  • Earlier, IREDA had signed MoUs with SJVN, NHPC, TANGEDCO, NEEPCO and BVFCL to extend its Techno-Financial expertise for Green Energy projects.

Terms of the MoU:

  • Under the terms of the MoU, IREDA will provide techno-financial expertise in developing Renewable Energy (RE) projects.
  • IREDA will undertake techno-financial due diligence of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency & Conservation projects for THDCIL.
  • IREDA will assist THDCIL in developing an action plan to create and acquire Renewable Energy (RE) projects for the next 5 years.
  • IREDA will also extend its techno-commercial expertise to THDCIL for Environmental & Social (E&S) due diligence of RE projects as per the internationally accepted E&S standards.

Significance of the MoU:

  • This MoU will help THDCIL to accelerate their footprints in the Renewable Energy space. THDCIL has portfolio of Solar & Wind energy projects apart from Hydro and Thermal.
  • The MoU will facilitate knowledge transfer, which will contribute to driving sustainable development of India through Green Energy.

About IREDA:

  • Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency Limited (IREDA) is a Mini Ratna (Category – I) Government of India Enterprise under the administrative control of Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE).
  • IREDA was established on 11th March, 1987.
  • IREDA has been notified as a “Public Financial Institution” under section 4 'A' of the Companies Act, 1956 and registered as Non-Banking Financial Company (NFBC) with Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
  • IREDA's Motto is “Energy for Ever.”
  • It promotes, develops and extends financial assistance for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency/Conservation Projects.
  • It is the only dedicated institution for financing Renewable Energy (RE) & Energy Efficiency (EE) projects in India.
  • The company, since its inception, has played a catalytic role in the developing market for financing the EE and RE projects.

About THDC India Limited:

  • THDC India Limited (Formerly Tehri Hydro Development Corporation Limited), is under the ownership of National Thermal Power Corporation Limited, Ministry of Power, Government of India (GoI).
  • THDC India Limited is registered in Public Limited Company in July’88 under the Company's Act 1956.
  • THDCIL was conferred 'Mini Rtna-Category-l status on Oct'2009 and up-graded tp Scjedi;e "a" PSU in July'2010 by GoI.
  • The current CMD of the corporation is Shri R.K Vishnoi.

PRAGYATA Guidelines: Keeping in view the availability of digital infrastructure PRAGYATA Guidelines on Digital Education had been issued to all State governments as well as Schools directly under Central Government as advice.

  • This information was given by the Union Minister of Education, Shri Dharmendra Pradhan in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha.

Key Points:

  • The guidelines brief on various modes of digital education including online mode that depends more on availability of internet, partially online mode that utilizes the blended approach of digital technology and other offline activities, and offline mode that utilizes television and radio as a major medium of instruction of education.
  • These guidelines are for school heads, teachers and parents describing the need assessment, planning and steps to implement digital education while ensuring cyber safety and privacy measures.
  • The guidelines include 8 steps of online/digital learning. They are:
  • Plan-Review-Arrange-Guide-Yak (talk)-Assign-Track-Appreciate.
  • The guidelines have been prepared by NCERT (National Council of Education Research and Training)

Employment Generation Schemes: The Ministry of Rural Development is presently implementing three welfare schemes for employment generation.

These schemes will provide employment to people in rural areas inclusive of rural youths of Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes/Economically Weaker Sections of the country including the State of Uttar Pradesh (UP).

The details in this regard are as follows: –

  1. Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS):
  • This is a demand driven wage employment programme which provides at least one hundred days of guaranteed wage employment in every financial year to every household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work.
  1. Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana (DDU-GKY):
  • This is a placement linked skill development programme for wage employment.
  1. Skill development through Rural Self Employment and Training Institutes (RSETIs):
  • This enables a trainee to take bank credit and start his/her own Micro-enterprise. Some of such trainees may also seek regular salaried jobs.

While MGNREGS provides direct employment, DDU-GKY and RSETI schemes promote employability through either wage or self-employment leading to economic and social development of youths of rural area of the country.

Apart from the above mentioned schemes of the Ministry of Rural Development, various other Ministries/Departments are also implementing the programmes/schemes for employment generation which are as follows:

Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY):

  • Under Skill India Mission, Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship is implementing its flagship scheme PMKVY for Skill based training of the youth across the country including of youth belonging to Scheduled Caste/ Scheduled Tribe/ Economically weaker Section under Short Term Training (STT) courses and Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL).

Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP):

  • Ministry of MSME is implementing PMEGP, a major credit-linked subsidy programme aimed at generating self-employment opportunities through establishment of micro-enterprises in the non-farm sector by helping traditional artisans and unemployed youth. It was launched during 2008-09.

Gender Inclusion Fund (GIF): National Education Policy (NEP)- 2020 provides for setting up a Gender Inclusion Fund (GIF) to build the nation’s capacity to provide equitable quality education for all girls as well as transgender students.

Key Details:

  • The above objectives of NEP for Equitable and quality education for girls and transgender children are being met through specific provisions under Samagra Shiksha 2.0 by allocating dedicated resources for SEDGs.
  • The Department of School Education and Literacy, under the Ministry of Education has developed guidelines on school safety and security to fix the accountability of the school management in the matter of safety and security of children studying in government, government-aided and private schools and has circulated the same to all states and UTs.
  • The recommendations spell out the various stakeholders’ and ministries’ responsibilities for safeguarding the safety and security of children in schools.
  • The guidelines are based on the following three-pronged approach for the safety and security of children in schools:
  1. Accountability framework and legal provisions,
  2. Whole school safety approach, and
  3. Multi-sectoral approach.

This information was given by the Union Minister of Education, Dharmendra Pradhan in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha.

NIPER (Amendment) Bill, 2021: The Parliament has passed the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (Amendment) Bill, 2021, with passing of the Bill in the Rajya Sabha and on 6th December in the Lok Sabha.

(NIPER stands for National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research)

Key Points:

  • The legislation was passed by the Rajya Sabha with a voice vote.
  • It seeks to amend the original act of 1998 to declare six additional National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research as Institutions of National Importance.
  • These institutes are located in Ahmedabad, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Hajipur, Kolkata and Raebareli.
  • The Bill also provides for a Council to coordinate institutions’ activities to ensure development of pharmaceutical education and research and maintenance of standards.
  • The NIPERs are for strengthening and enhancing research in the Pharma sector, in India.

Urban Geospatial Data Stories Challenge-2022: Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) has announced “Urban Geospatial Data Stories Challenge” to foster adoption of geospatial technologies & to promote innovation in India’s urban ecosystem.

Key Points:

  • ‘Urban Geospatial Data Stories Challenge’ has been designed to promote “Geospatial Policy and make India a Geospatial enabled nation”.
  • The challenge has been organized with select Smart Cities that will be publishing high quality GIS datasets.
  • More than 1000 geospatial datasets have been made available to the registered participants from national geospatial agencies, private sector enterprises, scientific and academic institutions, businesses, consumer services & start-ups to analyse this data and create insightful data stories.
  • Leading up to the ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav- Smart Cities: Smart Urbanization’ conference scheduled to be held in Surat, during February 2022, the Urban Geospatial Data Stories Challenge is part of a series of pre-event initiatives being undertaken by MoHUA to foster adoption of geospatial technologies & to promote innovation in India’s urban ecosystem.
  • The challenge will commence for the registered participants on 1st January, 2022 and conclude by end of January 2022.
  • The Challenge has been designed to promote Geospatial Policy and to make India a Geospatial enabled nation.
  • Sharing and integration of wide range of data will empower citizens and enterprises to create, assess, and use geospatial data and information for empowering people and making urban services and applications more effective.
  • Built on the concept of ‘open innovation’ & ‘open data sharing’, the hackathon is likely to benefit stakeholders across all cities in India.
  • Assimilation of innovative ideas & solutions from a wide array of geo spatial experts covering academia, private sector, emerging technologies, and government would help in solving some of the most common problems faced by the citizens of any city and replicating the successful ideas in other cities.

Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav:

  • Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav is an initiative of the Government of India to celebrate and commemorate 75 years of progressive India and the glorious history of its people, culture and achievements.
  • This Mahotsav is dedicated to the people of India who have not only been instrumental in bringing India thus far in its evolutionary journey, but also hold within them the power and potential to enable Prime Minister Modi’s vision of activating India 2.0, fuelled by the spirit of Atmanirbhar Bharat.
  • It is an embodiment of all that is progressive about India’s socio-cultural, political, and economic identity.
  • The official journey of “Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav” commenced on 12th March 2021 which starts a 75-week countdown to our 75th anniversary of Independence.

Indian Policy Current Affairs - November 2021

Ayushman CAPF:  Union Home Minister Amit Shah has announced that the Centre has extended the ‘Ayushman CAPF’ healthcare scheme benefits of the central health insurance programme to the personnel of all Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) pan-India in a phased manner.

Union Home Minister had launched ‘Ayushmaan CAPF’ Scheme on Pilot basis in Assam on 23rd January, 2021 to provide healthcare services to all Central Armed Police Force (CAPFs) personnel and their dependents.

About Ayushman CAPF’ scheme:

  • The purpose of the Ayushman CAPF’ scheme is to provide cashless health services to the CAPF personnel and their dependents using the Ayushman Bharat PM-JAY IT platform.
  • The Ayushman CAPF’ scheme is a joint initiative by the ministry of home affairs and the national health authority.
 
  • From now onwards, health cards distribution will be undertaken in all CAPFs and the number of cards distributed will be displayed on the website of MHA on a daily basis
  • The distribution of about 35 lakh cards will be completed by December, 2021
  • CAPF personnel and their families will now be able to avail cashless in-patient and out-patient healthcare facilities at all Hospitals empanelled under Ayushmaan Bharat PM-JAY or CGHS

Vernacular Innovation Programme (VIP): Niti Aayog’s AIM Unveils Vernacular Innovation Programme

Key Points
• Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) under the NITI Aayog has developed a vernacular innovation program (VIP)
• VIP is an initiative to lower the language barrier in the field of innovation and entrepreneurship.
• VIP will enable innovators and entrepreneurs in India to have access to the innovation ecosystem in 22 scheduled languages.

Aim:

  • By providing access to learning in one’s language and culture, Atal Innovation Mission aims to create equal opportunity for the vernacular innovators.
  • The unveiling of VIP by AIM is aimed at empowering innovators and entrepreneurs across the country by removing the language barrier.

About the Programme:

  • Under the programme, AIM will be training a vernacular task force (VTF) in each of the 22 scheduled languages.
 
  • Each task force comprises of vernacular language teachers, subject experts, technical writers, and the leadership of regional Atal Incubation Centers (AICs).
  • Under the drive AIM NITI Aayog is launching a train-the-trainer program where it will collaborate with the Design Department of IIT Delhi to coach the VTF in design thinking and entrepreneurship and the adaptation of these subjects in the 22 languages and cultures.
  • Upon training the task force over the period of December 2021 to April 2022, the ecosystem will be opened to vernacular innovators.
  • India arguably is the first nation in the world to launch such an initiative where an innovation ecosystem catering to 22 languages plus English is being built.

Deep Dive Training program: The National e-Governance Division under the Ministry of Electronics and IT is conducting a six-day Deep Dive Training program for Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) and frontline IT officials from various Ministries & Departments, Government & Semi-Government organizations from Central and State Governments, PSUs, banks, among others.

Key Details:
The Deep Dive Training program under the Cyber Surakshit Bharat initiative is aimed to prepare the CISOs and frontline IT officials to face challenges of cyber security and handle cyber crisis.

This type of training empowers them to secure their organizations from cyber threats and for smooth delivery of e-Gov services and functioning of production units. NeGD has been consistently organizing such workshops with the primary goal of promoting a safe digital space among citizens.

The program is being organized to create awareness around cyber security and develop an empowered and strong cyber ecosystem in Government organizations in India.

Experts from both Government and private sector are attending the training program focused on topics like ISMS Standards, Mobile Security, Cyber Security products in India, data security, identity protection, cryptography, etc.

 

At the inaugural session of the capacity building program on 22.11.2021, Amitesh Kumar Sinha, IRAS, Joint Secretary, e-Governance, MeitY, shared his views about India’s transforming cyber landscape and how the country has been consistently improving its global cyber security ranking. Congratulating the technical stakeholders for improved cyber ranking, he said, “India is ranked among top 10 countries, out of 182, in cyber security posture for the year 2020, jumping from the 47th position in the year 2018 to 10th position in 2020. This is a significant achievement with respect to the cyber preparedness in India.”

He also reiterated the importance and need to have a cyber resilient ecosystem that would help the nation take great strides towards the digital economy.

Satya Narayan Meena, Director, Capacity Building, NeGD and Tulika Pandey, Director, Cyber Security Division, MeitY expressed their pleasure on the idea of the participants taking back with them vital knowledge about cyber security.

Cyber Surakshit Bharat Initiative:
Cyber Surakshit Bharat Initiative was launched by the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeitY) in January 2018.

It is the first of its kind public-private partnership initiative. It leverages the expertise of IT industry in cybersecurity. Knowledge partners of the training program are CERT-In, CDAC, STQC and NIC.

Bhumi Samvaad: Union Minister for Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Giriraj Singh recently inaugurated ‘Bhumi Samvaad’ – National Workshop on Digital India Land Record Modernisation Programme (DILRMP) at India Habitat Centre in the national capital.

Unique Land Parcel Identification Number (ULPIN) is a unique ID for all land parcels. Describing ULPIN scheme as the Aadhar Number of land parcels, Giriraj Singh said that in this unique system wherein a unique ID based on Geo-coordinates of the parcels is generated and assigned to the plots. This has been introduced to share the computerized digital land record data among different States/Sectors and a uniform system of assigning a unique ID to the land parcel across the country.

So far it has already been implemented in 13 States and pilot tested in another 6 States. Department has decided to complete the process of assigning unique IDs to the land parcels in the entire country by the end of this financial year, (FY 2021-22). When this system will be implemented in the entire country most of the land disputes will be resolved automatically.

On this occasion, the Minister also launched National Generic Document Registration System (NGDRS) portal and Dashboard.

 

About the ULPIN Scheme:
o Under the ULPIN scheme, a 14-digit identification number is issued to every plot of land in the country.
o The identification is based on the longitude and latitude coordinates of the land parcel, and is dependent on detailed surveys and geo-referenced cadastral maps.

Top Aspirational Districts in Education Sector: The Central government think tank NITI Aayog has announced the top five most aspirational districts in education sector.

  • NITI Aayog has announced the top five most improved aspirational districts in the education sector for the month of September. Bhoopalpalli in Telangana tops the ranking. It is followed by Chatra and Sahibganj in Jharkhand, Nuapada in Odisha and Jaisalmer in Rajasthan. This is as per NITI Aayog’s delta rankings.
  • The Central government think tank NITI Aayog has ranked the most improved aspirational districts in the education sector for September month.
  • As per NITI Aayog’s delta rankings in education sector, Bhoopalpalli in Telangana has topped the list of aspirational districts in India in the education sector for the month of June 2021.
  • The other districts among the top-5 are Chatra & Sahibganj in Jharkhand, Nuapada in Odisha and Jaisalmer in Rajasthan.

Overall ranking:

  • In the Delta ranking 2021 for September month, Baramulla district in north Kashmir has secured 3rd rank among aspirational districts, in a significant development.
  • Ranchi and Chatra districts in Jharkhand were ranked at 1st and 2nd position respectively.

Wayanad in Kerala secured 4th and Shrawasti district in UP secured 5th spot.

What is Delta Ranking?

  • The ‘delta ranking’ for the aspirational districts measures the incremental progress made by aspirational districts of India across six developmental areas of health and nutrition, education, agriculture and water resources, financial inclusion, skill development, and basic infrastructure.

Significance of the ranking:

  • These rankings are a yardstick of incremental progress in developmental indices like health & nutrition, agriculture & financial inclusion and water resource.

Aspirational Districts Programme:

  • Aspirational District Programme was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in January 2018.
  • The programme is implemented by NITI Aayog with the help of several stakeholders for improving the living standards of people in aspirational districts.
  • This programme was launched with the aim of bringing rapid transformation in districts that have made comparative progress across key social sectors.
  • Launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in January 2018, the Aspirational Districts programme aims to quickly and effectively transform 112 most under-developed districts across the country.

National Achievement Survey: Indian Government is all set to hold the next round of the National Achievement Survey (NAS) across the country on November 12 this year.

The Government of India has been implementing a rolling programme of sample based National Achievement Survey (NAS) aimed at assessing competencies of students of classes III, V, VIII and X with a cycle period of three years. The last National Achievement Survey (NAS) was held on 13th November, 2017 for assessing the competencies developed by the children at the grade levels III, V and VIII.

The next round of NAS will be held on 12th November 2021 across the country, which will help to assess the learning interruptions and new learnings during the COVID pandemic and help to take remedial measures.

The instrument development, testing, finalization of the test items, sampling of the schools etc. has been done by NCERT. However, the actual administration of the test in the sampled schools will be done by CBSE in collaboration with the respective states/UTs.

 

NAS 2021
NAS 2021 is set to cover entire spectrum of schools including Government Schools of Central Government as well as State Government, Government Aided Schools and Private schools across India. It is expected that NAS 2021 will cover around 1.23 lakh schools and 38 lakh students across 733 districts of 36 states and UTs.

NAS test
• NAS 2021 will be conducted in:

  1. Language, mathematics, and EVS for Class 3 & 5
  2. Language, mathematics, science & social science for Class 8
  3. Language, mathematics, science, social science & English for Class 10
    • It will be conducted in 22 mediums of instruction like Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, English, Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam, Manipuri, Urdu, Marathi, Bodo, Mizo, Odia, Punjabi, Telugu, Garo, Khasi, Nepali, Konkani, Lepcha and Bhutia.

What is National Achievement Survey (NAS)?
NAS is a representative large-scale survey of student’s learning. It is undertaken by the Ministry of Education. It provides a system level reflection on effectiveness of school education. Its findings help in comparing performance across population to find desirable direction for improvements.

Draft Mediation Bill: Government of India has been taking various policy initiatives for promotion and strengthening of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanisms through amendment in existing laws and by enactments, for facilitating quick disposal of disputes, outside of traditional court systems.

Indian government has issued a Draft Mediation Bill for Public Consultation that proposes to safeguard the interest of litigants to approach competent adjudicatory forums.

Key Points

• The Draft Mediation Bill proposes for pre-litigation mediation
• The Bill safeguards the interest of the litigants to approach the competent adjudicatory forums/courts for urgent relief.
• As per the bill, successful outcome of mediation has been made enforceable by law, in the form of Mediation Settlement Agreement (MSA).
• Mediation Settlement Agreement is out of consensual agreement between the parties. Thus, challenge related to it has been permitted on limited grounds.
• The bill says that mediation process safeguards the confidentiality of mediation undertaken and provides for immunity in certain cases against its disclosure.

 

Registration procedure
According to the Draft Mediation Bill , registration of Mediation Settlement Agreement has been provided with the legal authorities in State, District and Taluk within 90 days for ensuring maintenance of authenticated records of the settlement.

Mediation Council of India
Bill provides for the establishment of a Mediation Council of India.

Other provisions of the bill
• The draft bill proposes to bring about a standalone law on Mediation regarding the issues of domestic and international mediation because India is a signatory to the Singapore Convention on Mediation.
• It also takes international practice of using terms like ‘conciliation’ and ‘mediation’, into contemplation.

Mediation as an ADR
As an Alternate Dispute Redressal (ADR), mediation provides an informal, simple, non-adversarial approach for resolving several types of disputes like civil disputes, commercial disputes and family disputes etc. In such cases, parties are not able to start any negotiation and reach to the settlement on their own.

Indian Policy Current Affairs - October 2021

SAKSHAM Centres:

 Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) launched 152 SAKSHAM centres as a part of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav.

Key Points:

  • A total of 152 Centres for Financial Literacy and Service Delivery (SAKSHAM Centres) have been launched under Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana   National Rural Livelihoods Mission.
  • These centres have been launched across 77 districts of 13 states during 4 8th October, 2021.
  • The Centre for Financial Literacy & Service Delivery (CFL&SD) would act as one stop solution/single window system for basic financial needs of Self Help Group (SHG) households in rural areas.

Management of these centres:

  • These Centers will be managed by SHG network, largely at the level of the Cluster Level Federations (CLFs) with the help of trained Community Resource Persons (CRPs).

Trained Community Resource Persons (CRPs):

  • These trained CRPs are provided six days residential training at Rural Self Employment Training Institutes (RSETIs).
  • RSETIs are established by the Lead Bank of the district.
  • All of these resources persons, popularly known as Financial Literacy Community Resource person (FL CRPs) also provided a training tool kit in vernacular languages.

Objectives:

  • The main objective of the center is to provide financial literacy & facilitate delivery of financial services (savings, credit, insurance, pensions etc.) to SHG members and rural poor.

SAKSHAM App:

  • MoRD has also launched a mobile & web based application called “SAKSHAM”.
  • SAKSHAM App will be used by the community resource person of the Centre to know the penetration of various financial services for each SHG & village, identify major gaps and accordingly provide training and deliver the required financial services.
  • The impact of the programme on regular interval for mid course correction in strategy, if any will also be measured by this application.

About DAY NRLM:

  • DAY NRLM (Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana – National Rural Livelihoods Mission) is a centrally sponsored programme, launched by the Ministry of Rural Development in June 2011.
  • The scheme is integration of the National Urban Livelihoods Mission (NULM) and National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM).
  • It was launched as ‘Aajeevika – National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM)’ by the Government of India's Ministry of Rural Development in the year 2011.
  • It was renamed as DAY NRLM in 2015.
  • DAY NRLM is the flagship program of GoI for promoting poverty reduction through building strong institutions of the poor, particularly women, and enabling these institutions to access a range of financial services and livelihoods.
  • This initiative was launched with the following objectives: 
  • To eliminate rural poverty by creating effective and efficient institutional platforms to enable the rural poor to increase their household income by means of sustainable livelihood enhancements and better access to financial services across the country..
  • To harness the innate capabilities of the poor and complements them with capacities (information, knowledge, skills, tools, finance and collectivization) to participate in the growing economy of the country.

Functions:

  • Its function involves working with community institutions through community professionals in the spirit of self help which is a unique proposition of DAY NRLM.

Implementation:

  • It is implemented in a Mission mode by special purpose vehicles (autonomous state societies) with dedicated implementation support units at the national, state, district and block levels, using professional human resources in order to provide continuous and long term handholding support to each rural poor family.

The scheme was launched through investment support by the World Bank.

 

Sub schemes under DAY NLM:

Some of the schemes launched under DAY NLM are:

  • Aajeevika Grameen Express Yojana.
  • Deen Dayal Upadhyay –Grameen Kaushalya Yojan.
  • Start up Village Entrepreneurship Programme.
  • Mahila Kisan Sahshaktikaran Pariyojana.

                                        

IRSDC: The Indian Railways (IR) has recently ordered the dissolution of Indian Railways Stations Development Corporation (IRSDC) on the basis of recommendation of Principal Economic Advisor of Finance Ministry, Sanjeev Sanyal.

Key Highlights:

  • This step has been taken as part of a measure to rationalise railway bodies, the Railway Board announced that it would shut down IRSDC, and transfer the stations under its management to the respective zonal railways.
  • This move is in line with the rationalization of railway bodies by closing or merging multiple organizations.
  • The Railway Board has ordered the initiation of all necessary procedural formalities for closure of IRSDC.
  • The stations managed by IRSDC as well as all the projects related documents will be handed over to respective Zonal Railways.
  • With this move, IRSDC is the second organization under the Ministry of Railways that will be shut down.

Note: Earlier, on September 7, 2021, Indian railway had shut down the closure of Indian Railways Organization for Alternative Fuel (IROAF).

About IRSDC:

  • Indian Railway Stations Development Corporation Limited (IRSDC) was a special purpose vehicle was a special purpose vehicle owned by the Rail Land Development Authority, RITES and Ircon International.
  • All three companies of Indian Railways are owned by Indian Railway Ministry.
  • It was incorporated on April 12, 2012. On October 18, 2021, Railway Board announced to shut down IRSDC in a bid to rationalize railway bodies.
  • It was at the core of Indian railway’s mission of transforming railway stations in India into world class 24*7 hubs.
  • It is also a nodal agency and main Project Development Agency (PDA) for redevelopment of stations.

                                                                         

PLI Scheme for Specialty Steel: The Union Cabinet recently chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme for Specialty Steel which was notified on 29th July 2021.

Highlights:

  • Based on feedback received, and on the basis of the scheme notified earlier, rules to implement the scheme were prepared in the form of guidelines.
  • The Guidelines for an effective implementation of PLI Scheme was notified on 20th Oct 2021.

Benefits:

  • The benefit of this scheme will accrue to both big players i.e. integrated steel plants and to the smaller players (secondary steel players).
  • It is expected that the speciality steel production will become 42 million tonnes by the end of 2026 27.
  • This will ensure that approximately 2.5 lakh crores worth of speciality steel will be produced and consumed in the country which would otherwise have been imported.
  • Similarly, the export of specialty steel will become around 5.5 million tonnes as against the current 1.7 million tonnes of specialty steel getting FOREX of Rs 33,000 crore.

About Specialty Steel:

Specialty steel is value added steel wherein normal finished steel is worked upon by way of coating, plating, heat treatment, etc to convert it into high value added steel which can be used in various strategic applications like Defence, Space, Power, apart from automobile sector, specialized capital goods etc.

The five categories of specialty steel which have been chosen in the PLI Scheme are:

  • Coated/Plated Steel Products
  • High Strength/Wear resistant Steel
  • Specialty Rails
  • Alloy Steel Products and Steel wires
  • Electrical Steel

                         

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PLI Scheme for Telecom and Networking Products: 

The Minister of State of Ministry of Communications Shri Devusinh Chauhan recently launched the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme for Telecom and Networking Products.

Key Points of this scheme:

  • PLI Scheme in telecom sector was launched for realizing the Prime Minister’s vision of Atma Nirbhar Bharat.
  • This scheme in telecom sector will help in reducing India’s dependence on other countries for import of telecom and networking products.
  • It is being launched by Department of Telecommunications (DoT) with the objective to boost domestic manufacturing in the telecom and networking products by incentivising incremental investments and turnover with total outlay of ₹ 12,195 crore.
  • The scheme is effective from 1st April, 2021.
  • Investment made by successful applicants in India from 1st April, 2021 onwards and up to FY 2024 25 shall be eligible, subject to qualifying incremental annual thresholds.
  • The support under the Scheme shall be provided for a period of five (5) years, i.e. from FY 2021 22 to FY 2025 26.
  • As per Scheme and Scheme Guidelines, a total of 31 companies, comprising of 16 MSMEs and 15 Non MSMEs (8 Domestic and 7 Global companies) have been found eligible and are being given approval under Production linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme of Department of Telecommunications (DoT), Ministry of Communications.

How many companies were approved under this scheme?

  • As many as 31 companies comprising 16 MSMEs and 15 Non MSMEs were given approval under the PLI Scheme for promoting telecom and networking products manufacturing in India.
  • Some of the eligible MSME companies are:
  • Coral Telecom Limited,
  • Frog Cellsat Limited,
  • Ehoome IoT Private Limited,
  • GDN Enterprises Private Limited etc.
  • As per commitments given by applicants, these 31 applicants are expected to invest ₹ 3345 crore in the next 4 years and generate incremental employment of more than 40,000 people.
  • The scheme is expected to boost domestic Research & Development of new products on which 15% of the committed investment could be invested.

                                  

Sainik Schools: The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently gave its approval for affiliation of 100 Schools in Government and private sector with Sainik School Society on October 12, 2021.

Key Points:

  • As per the approval, these affiliated Sainik Schools will be launched under Sainik Schools Society of Ministry of Defence (MoD).
  • These schools will function as an exclusive vertical which will be distinct and different from existing Sainik Schools of MoD.
  • In the first phase, 100 affiliate partners are proposed to be drawn from states/NGOs/ private partners.
  • Starting from the academic year 2022 2023 around five thousand students will receive admission in class six in 100 such affiliated Schools. Currently, existing 33 Sainik Schools have an admission capacity of about three thousand students in class six.

Significance:

  • The scheme will leverage Public/private partnership in education sector.
  • It will help tap into existing infrastructure available with reputed private and Govt. Schools and open up new capacities to meet the growing aspirations of children desirous of receiving education in a Sainik School environment.
  • It will help in providing effective physical, psycho social, spiritual, intellectual, emotional and cognitive development.

About Sainik Schools:

  • Sainik Schools are schools across India, which are established and managed by Sainik Schools Society under the Ministry of Defence (MoD).
  • These schools were conceived in the year 1961 by V. K. Krishna Menon.

National Education Policy:

  • These schools were affiliated in line with the National Education Policy.
  • The Government of India (GoI) has also decided to provide an increased focus on value based education which in turn will enable children to develop pride in rich culture and heritage of India.
  • It will also develop effective leadership among them with discipline, character, sense of national duty & patriotism.

                                                                                      

 

MBED – Phase1:

 Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) has released the Framework for Implementation of Market Based Economic Despatch (MBED) – Phase1 for lowering the cost of power purchase to Consumers.

  • The ministry aims to reduce power purchase costs by 5% for consumers by implementing MBED.

About:

  • Implementing an MBED is an essential next step in reforming electricity market operations and in moving towards “One Nation, One Grid, One Frequency, One Price” framework.
  • The MBED seeks to ensure that the cheapest generating resources across India are despatched to meet the overall system demand.
  • This in turn, will thus be a win win for both the distribution companies (DISCOMs) and the generators and ultimately result in significant annual savings for the electricity consumers.
  • The power demand by all states is proposed to be met through a central pool allocating power at the optimal price.
  • Presently, DISCOMs have been sourcing power from available sources within the states, invariably ending with a higher energy cost.
  • The implementation of Phase 1 of MBED is planned to start with effect from 1st April 2022.
  • Before this CERC will align their regulations and mock drill will be carried out to ensure that the system runs smoothly.

About CERC:

  • CERC stands for Central Electricity Regulatory Commission.
  • CERC is a key regulator of power sector in India.
  • It is a statutory body functioning with quasi judicial status under sec – 76 of the Electricity Act 2003.
  • It was founded on 24 July 1998.
  • The current Chairman of CERC is P.K.Pujari.

                                      

Policy Documents of DRDO: Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh recently released two policy documents of DRDO.

The two policies are   

  • Directed Research Policy
  • Records Management Policy 2021.

About Directed Research Policy:

  • The Directed Research Policy provides framework for establishment of Advanced Technology Centres and Research Cells in academic institutes for focused research on identified subjects such as futuristic surveillance and defensive and offensive capabilities.
  • A‘Long Term Directed Research Policy’ was recently approved by the Union Government to support & provide impetus to outcome and application oriented directed research in collaboration with academia.

About Records Management Policy 2021:

  • The Records Management Policy aims to further strengthen the records management activities of DRDO.

                                                                         

Cybersecurity Guidelines for Power Sector: Ministry of Power has recently released a new cybersecurity guideline for power sector to create a secure power cyber ecosystem.

Key Details:

These guidelines were released under the direction of Union Power and New & Renewable Energy Minister Raj Kumar Sing and Central electricity authority (CEA)

The guideline on Cyber Security in Power Sector to be adhered by all Power Sector utilities to create cyber secure eco system has been framed by CEA.

It has been framed under the provision of Section 3(10) on Cyber Security in the “Central Electricity Authority (Technical Standards for Connectivity to the Grid) (Amendment) Regulations, 2019”.

This is the first time that a comprehensive guideline has been formulated on cyber security in power sector.

About the Guidelines:

  • The guideline lays down required actions for cyber security preparedness across various utilities.
  • It lays down a cyber assurance framework, strengthens the regulatory framework, puts in place mechanisms for security threat early warning, vulnerability management and response to security threats, and secures remote operations and services, among others.
  • The guidelines mandate ICT based procurement from identified ‘trusted sources’ and ‘trusted products’ or else the product has to be tested for malware/ hardware trojan before deployment for use in the power supply system network.
  • The norms are applicable to all responsible entities as well as system integrators, equipment manufacturers, suppliers/ vendors, service providers, and IT hardware and software OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) engaged in the Indian power supply system.

Significance:

  • It will promote research and development in cybersecurity and open up the market for setting up cyber testing infra in public as well as private sectors in India.

Indian Policy Current Affairs - September 2021

District Level Committees: The Ministry of Power has recently issued an order for the setting up of District Level Committees to improve quality of electricity supply in the country.

This comes in the backdrop of the government’s efforts to ensure 24X7 power that is reliable, affordable and sustainable.

Key Points about the District Level Committees:

All states/UTs, requests them to notify and ensure establishment of these district electricity committees, under intimation to the Ministry of Power.

The Committees shall exercise oversight over all power related schemes of Government of India (GoI) and also its impact on the provision of services to the people.

The committee would comprise the following:

Most Senior MP in the district: Chairperson

Other MPs in the district: Cochairpersons

District Collector: Member Secretary

Chairperson/President of the District Panchayat: Member

MLAs of the district: Members

Most senior representatives of CPSUs of Ministry Members of Power and NRE located in the concerned district, or their nominated officials for the district.

Chief Engineer/Superintending Engineer of the Convenor DISCOM/ Power Department concerned.

The Committee of a district will meet at District Headquarters at least once in three months to review and coordinate overall development of power supply infrastructure in the district in accordance with the schemes of the Government.

Note: In the past five years, almost two lakh crore rupees were provided under  Deendayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana(DDUGJY), Integrated Power Development Scheme (lPDS), Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana (SAUBHAGYA), etc., to ensure universal access by electrifying every village, every hamlet and every household.

About Power Sector in India:

India is the world's third largest producer and third largest consumer of electricity.

It is one of the most diversified sectors in the world.

The sources of power generation range from conventional sources such as coal, natural gas, lignite, oil, hydro and nuclear power to viable nonconventional sources such as solar, wind, and agricultural and domestic waste.

About the Ministry of Power:

The Ministry of Power is an Indian government ministry.

It was founded on 2 July 1992.

The ministry is charged with overseeing electricity production and infrastructure development, including generation, transmission, and delivery, as well as maintenance projects.

It is primarily responsible for the development of electrical energy in the country.

It administers the Electricity Act, 2003 and the Energy Conservation Act, 2001.

Note: Electricity is a concurrent subject at Entry 38 in List III of the seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India.

 

Scheme for Promotion of Medical Device Parks: The Department of Pharmaceuticals has notified the “Scheme for Promotion of Medical Device Parks”.

Key highlights:

The scheme is aimed at boosting medical facility.

The total financial outlay of the scheme is Rs. 400 crore and the tenure of the scheme is from FY 20202021 to FY 20242025.

The Scheme will play a role in creating proper infrastructure in the medical device industry sector, through higher levels of investments, to support the industry reach its potential.

Key points:

The Medical Devices Parks to be developed under the scheme will provide common infrastructure facilities at one place thereby creating a robust ecosystem for the medical device manufacturing in the country and also reducing the manufacturing cost significantly.

The financial assistance, in case of North Eastern States and Hilly States, would be 90% of the project cost.

Maximum assistance under the scheme for one Medical Device Park would be limited to Rs. 100 crores.

It will be implemented by a State Implementing Agency (SIA).

Based on the evaluation, the proposals of the state governments of Himachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh have been given “inprinciple” approval under the scheme.

The scheme reflects the spirit of cooperative federalism where the Central Government and State Governments will partner to develop the Medial Device parks for better performance of the sector.

 

Airspace Map for Drone Operations: Taking another step towards realizing the collective vision of an Aatmanirbhar Bharat, the Ministry of Civil Aviation recently released an interactive digital airspace map for drone operations.

Key Points:

 

  • The digital map is available on the digital sky platform of Directorate General of Civil Aviation.
  • The digital airspace map demarcates areas into different zones for flying drones across India.
  • Zones for flying drones also include yellow and red zones across the country for flying drones.
  • The drone airspace map comes as a followthrough of the following:
  • The liberalized Drone Rules, 2021 released by the Central Government on 25 August 2021
  • The PLI scheme for drones released on 15 September 2021
  • The Geospatial Data Guidelines issued on 15 Feb 2021.
  • The revamped drone rules are based on the premises of selfcertification and nonintrusive monitoring of the activities.
  • Under the drone rules, that were notified on August 25, 2021, several permissions have been done away with and the number of forms required has been reduced to 5 from 25.
  • Types of fees have also been drastically reduced from 74 to 4.

About Zones for flying drones:

For drone operations, the zones are divided into three zones which are green, yellow and red.

Green zone:

  • Green zone is the airspace up to 400 feet. This zone has not been designated as red or yellow zone.
  • In green zones, no permission whatsoever is required for operating drones with an allup weight up to 500 kilograms

Yellow Zone:

  • Yellow zone is the airspace above 400 feet in a designated green zone.
  • According to a release issued by the ministry on Friday, yellow zone has been reduced from 45 kilometres earlier to 12 kilometres from the airport perimeter.
  • Drone operations in yellow zone require permission from the concerned air traffic control authority, namely IAF, AAI, Navy, HAL, etc., as the case may be.

Red Zone:

  • The red zone is the area within which drones can be operated only after permission from the central government.

Importance of Drones:

  • Drones are important and they offer several benefits to all sectors of the economy, including agriculture, infrastructure, mining, surveillance, emergency response, geospatial mapping, transportation, defence, and law enforcement etc.
  • Drones can be significant creators of employment and economic growth due to their reach, versatility, and ease of use, especially in India’s remote and inaccessible areas.
  • Given its traditional strengths in innovation, information technology, frugal engineering and its huge domestic demand, India has the potential of becoming a global drone hub by 2030,

About Ministry of Civil Aviation:

  • The Ministry of Civil Aviation of Government of India (GoI) is the nodal Ministry responsible for the formulation of national policies and programmes for development and regulation of Civil Aviation and for devising and implementing schemes for the orderly growth and expansion of civil air transport.
  • Its functions also extend to overseeing airport facilities, air traffic services and carriage of passengers and goods by air.
  • The Ministry also administers implementation of the Aircraft Act, 1934, Aircraft Rules, 1937.
  • This Ministry is administratively responsible for the Commission of Railways Safety.
  • The current Union Minister of Civil Aviation is Jyotiraditya M. Scindia.

 

Reforms in the Telecom Sector:

 The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, recently approved a number of structural and process reforms in the Telecom sector.

Key Points:

  • The Cabinet Committee has approved 9 structural reforms and 5 process reforms for the telecom sector.
  • These new reforms are expected to protect and generate employment opportunities, protect the interests of consumers, promote healthy competition, infuse liquidity, encourage investment and reduce the regulatory burden on Telecom Service Providers (TSPs).
  • For all the TSPs, the cabinet has approved moratorium/deferment of upto 4 years in annual payments of dues arising out of the AGR judgment, by protecting the Net Present Value (NPV) of the due amounts being protected.
  • The definition of Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) has been rationalized to exclude nontelecom revenues prospectively.
  • Four year moratorium on telecom dues was also approved as well.
  • A 100% foreign direct investment (FDI) under automatic route has been permitted in telecom sector to encourage investment.
  • Spectrum user charges have been rationalized.
  • There will be now an annual compounding of rates.
  • Spectrum can now be surrendered and it can also be shared.
  • No Spectrum Usage Charge (SUC) for spectrum acquired in future spectrum auctions.
  • In future auctions, tenure of spectrum will be increased from 20 to 30 years.
  • The KYC process for shifting to postpaid from prepaid has been done away with.

Reason for these reforms:

  • The Government of India (GoI)initiated these reforms in the backdrop of outstanding performance of the Telecom Sector in meeting COVID19 challenges, with a huge surge in data consumption, online education, work from home, interpersonal connect through social media, virtual meeting.

 

PLI Scheme for Automobile & Drone Industries: The Union Cabinet has recently approved production linked incentive (PLI) schemes for auto industry, auto component industry, and drone industry to enhance India's manufacturing capabilities.

Key Highlights:

  • A provision of Rs 26,058 crore for PLI schemes for auto, auto component industry and drone industry was announced by the Government.
  • Rs. 25,938 crores for the auto sector and Rs. 120 crores for the drone industry.
  • The PLI scheme for the automotive sector along with the already launched PLI for Faster Adoption of Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles (FAME) Scheme (Rs 10,000 crore) and Advanced Chemistry Cell (Rs 18,100 crore) will give a big boost to the manufacturing of electric vehicles in the country.

Background:

  • The PLI Scheme for Automobile Industry and Drone Industry is part of the overall announcement of PLI Schemes for 13 sectors made earlier during the Union Budget 202122, with an outlay of ₹ 1.97 lakh crore.

PLI for Auto Sector:

  • The PLI scheme for the auto sector has been modified to focus on advanced automotive technologies.
  • The makers of the diesel, petrol, and CNG vehicle makers will not be covered under the scheme.
  • The PLI scheme for the auto sector will incentivize high value Advanced Automotive Technology vehicles and products.
  • It will encourage industry to make fresh investments for indigenous global supply chain of Advanced Automotive Technology products.
  • It is estimated that over a period of five years, the PLI Scheme for Automobile and Auto Components Industry will lead to fresh investment of over  ₹42,500 crore,  incremental production of over  ₹2.3 lakh crore and will create additional employment opportunities of over 7.5 lakh jobs.
  • In addition, it will further increase India’s share in global automotive trade.
  • The PLI Scheme for auto sector is open to:
  • The existing automotive companies and
  • The new investors who are currently not in automobile or auto component manufacturing business.

Components of the scheme:

  • The scheme has two components viz Champion OEM Incentive Scheme and Component Champion Incentive Scheme.
  • The Champion OEM Incentive scheme is a ‘sales value linked’ scheme, applicable on Battery Electric Vehicles and Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles of all segments.
  • The Component Champion Incentive scheme is a ‘sales value linked’ scheme, applicable on Advanced Automotive Technology components of vehicles, Completely Knocked Down (CKD)/ Semi Knocked Down (SKD) kits, Vehicle aggregates of 2Wheelers, 3Wheelers, passenger vehicles, commercial vehicles and tractors etc.

PLI for Drones Sector:

  • The PLI Scheme for the Drones and Drone components industry addresses the strategic, tactical and operational uses of this revolutionary technology.
  • The incentive for a manufacturer of drones and drone components shall be as high as 20% of the value addition made by her.
  • The Government has agreed to keep the PLI rate constant at 20% for all three years, an exceptional treatment given only to the drone industry.

Note: In PLI schemes for other sectors, the PLI rate reduces every year.

  • The Government has agreed to widen the coverage of the incentive scheme to include developers of dronerelated IT products also.
  • The PLI for Drones and Drone components industry, will over a period of three years, lead to investments worth ₹ 5,000 Crore, increase in eligible sales of ₹ 1500 crore and create additional employment of about 10,000 jobs.

What do you mean by performancelinked incentive (PLI)?

  • A performancelinked incentive (PLI) is a form of incentive from one entity to another, such as from the government to industries or from an employer to an employee, which is directly related to the performance or output of the recipient and which may be specified in a government scheme or a contract.
  • PLI may either be openended or closeended.
  • Openended does not have a fixed ceiling for the quantum of incentive granted.
  • The openended incentives are normally applicable to revenuegenerating activities (e.g., sales, production, efficiency, competitiveness, etc)  
  • Closeended has an upper ceiling as stipulated in the scheme or the contract.
  • The closeended incentives are associated with quality improvement or support functions (e.g., operations, human resources, administration, etc.)

Method of calculation:

  • In calculating PLI, only the performance and not the potential of the recipient are considered.
  • Potential of the recipient is normally subjective and can be contested.
  • PLI is based on metrics which are absolutely objective and clearly perceived as fair by both the PLI provider and the recipient.

 

NDEAR: Recognizing the transitions happening in the Education sector, where Digital Technology has come to dominate the face of most remote learnings, the Government of India (GoI) has announced a National Digital Educational Architecture, or in short, NDEAR.

Note: The NDEAR 2021 outlines the framework to energize and catalyze the digital education ecosystem to create and deliver diverse, relevant, contextual, innovative solutions that benefit the student, parent, teacher and educational communities.

About NDEAR:

NDEAR is

  • An architectural blueprint for the education ecosystem and not a system.
  • That defines a set of
  • Principles  e.g. technology and ecosystem
  • Standards and Specifications  e.g. technology and data
  • Guidelines  e.g. data process, ecosystem engagement
  • Policies  e.g. data, openness, inclusion, accessibility
  • And identifies the key building blocks needed to make the architecture blueprint a reality for an ecosystem of
  • Actors to build, develop, innovate  interoperable building blocks
  • Applications/Innovations in the form of Solutions, platforms, tools, assets to be developed and used
  • To enable the achievement of policy goals through programmes such as  SSA, FLN Mission  etc
  • It identifies the key building blocks needed to make the architecture blueprint a reality
  • NDEAR is under the aegis of the Ministry of Education in collaboration with MeitY.

How does NDEAR differ from any technology project of the government?

  • NDEAR is not a project where the Government will be building technology solutions for the use of the education ecosystem.
  • Through NDEAR, the Government will play the role of an enabler, providing a framework where technology can be built by anyone.
  • Further, solutions that use NDEAR frameworks, standards and specifications, would be considered NDEAR compliant.
  • Any technology solution which is NDEAR compatible will be able to connect with other solutions that are NDEAR compliant.
  • State Governments would be free to embark on building solutions to suit their needs.
  • NDEAR, by identifying needs and curating the building blocks needed for the education ecosystem, would be able to help with enabling the States with a leg up by providing technology components that can be configured for different solutions.
  • This is much like selecting good quality bricks, which could be used to make any building of choice by the builder.

 

Phase II of Visvesvaraya PhD Scheme: The Union Minister of Electronics & Information Technology Shri Ashwini Vaishnaw, launched Phase II of Visvesvaraya PhD Scheme.

Highlights:

  • This scheme has been launched to promote research in 42 emerging technologies in Electronics System Design & Manufacturing (ESDM) and Information Technology (IT)/ Information Technology Enabled Services (ITES).
  • The scheme is manifestation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of providing world class education and opportunities for research and development to the students at the bottom of the pyramid in society.
  • This scheme supports the talent that India has. 

Key Points:

  • The main aim of the Phase II of the scheme is to support 1000 Full Time PhD Candidates, 150 Part Time PhD Candidates, 50 Young Faculty Research Fellowships and 225 PostDoctoral Fellowships.
  • Currently, 492 Fulltime & 268 Parttime PhD Fellows are pursuing while 422 Full Time & 43 Part Time PhD have submitted thesis or completed PhD.
  • During the event achievements of Phase I of the Visvesvaraya PhD scheme were also celebrated.

Background:

  • Visvesvaraya PhD Scheme was initiated by Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) in 2014.
  • It was initiated with the approval of Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA).
  • The main objective of the scheme is to enhance number of PhDs in ESDM & IT/ITES sectors. PhD seats were allocated to 97 institutions (IITs, NITs, Central & State Universities etc.) in 25 states and 4 Union Territories.

 

Shoonya Campaign: NITI Aayog, in association with the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) and RMI India, recently launched Shoonya campaign.

Note: RMI is an independent nonprofit organization founded in 1982.

Key highlights:

  • Shoonya Campaign was launched on 15 September 2021.
  • It is an initiative to promote zeropollution delivery vehicles by working with consumers and industry.
  • This campaign was launched with the aim to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) in urban delivery segment and raise consumer awareness regarding the benefits of pollutionfree delivery.
  • As part of the campaign, a corporate branding and certification programme is being launched to recognize and promote industry’s efforts towards transitioning to EVs for finalmile deliveries.
  • An online tracking platform will share the campaign’s impact through data such as vehicle kilometres electrified, carbon savings, criteria pollutant savings and other benefits from clean delivery vehicles.

Objective:

  • The main objective of the campaign is to eliminate pollution from urban freight sector.
  • For this purpose, ecommerce companies, automakers, and logistics fleet operators have been asked to recognize the opportunity.

Urban freight vehicles in India:

  • Urban freight vehicles account for 10% of freight transportationrelated CO2 emissions in India.
  • These emissions are expected to grow by 114 percent by 2030.
  • Since, EVs emit no tailpipe emissions; they can contribute immensely to an improved air quality.
  • As far as manufacturing is concerned, they emit 1540 percent less CO2 and they also have lower operational cost compared to their internal combustion engine counterparts.
  • The central and the state governments have introduced policies to provide upfront incentives for EVs, which will lower the capital cost by a high margin.
  • The names of some initiatives taken by the Indian Government are:
  • The National Electric Mobility Mission Plan 2020.
  • Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles in India (FAME India Scheme).
  • Implementation of smart cities

About NITI Aayog:

  • The National Istitution For Transforming India (NITI) Aayog is the premier policy 'Think Tank' of the Government of India (GoI).
  • It was established on 1 January 2015.
  • It is headquartered in New Delhi,India.
  • The current CEO of NITI Aayog is Amitabh Kant.

 About RMI India:

  • Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) India is an independent non profit organization that works towards accelerating India's transition to a clean, prosperous, and inclusive energy future.
  • It was established in 2019.
  • RMI India takes inspiration from and collaborates with Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), USA.

About RMI:

  • Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) is an organization in the United States (US) dedicated to research, publication, consulting, and lecturing in the general field of sustainability, with a special focus on profitable innovations for energy and resource efficiency.
  • It was established in 1982.
  • It is headquartered in Basalt, Colorado.
  • Its current CEO is Jules Kortenhorst

 

Vidyanjali Portal:

 Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, on September 7, 2021, launched Vidyanjali Portal and several other initiatives in the education sector.

Key Highlights:

  • Among other initiatives unveiled by the PM Modi include School Quality Assurance and Assessment Framework of CBSE and NISHTHA teachers' training programme for NIPUN Bharat.
  • Modi also launched the Indian Sign Language Dictionary    audio and text embedded sign language video for the hearing impaired, in conformity with Universal Design of Learning, along with 'Talking Books', which are audiobooks for the visually impaired.
  • These initiatives were launched by PM Modi while addressing the inaugural conclave of 'Shikshak Parv' via video conferencing.
  • These initiatives are aimed at ushering an “education revolution” in the country and placing India’s educational system on the “global map”.

Key Points about Vidyanjali Portal:

  • Vidyanjali is an initiative taken by the Ministry of Education (MoE), Government of India (GoI) with the aim to strengthen Schools through community and private sector involvement in schools across the country.
  • This initiative would connect schools with varied volunteers from the Indian Diaspora namely, young professionals, school alumni, in service and retired teachers, Government officials, professionals and many others.
  • It two verticals, namey   Participate in school Service or Activity and Assets / Material / Equipment” in which volunteer can support and strengthen the government and government aided schools.
  • Vidyanjali is being implemented under the overall aegis of the Samagra Shiksha.
  • It will enhance the community involvement in Government schools and effectively engage children in reading, creative writing, public speaking, play acting, preparing story books etc.

About Vidyanjaly 2.0:

  • Vidyanjali 2.0 is an amalgamation of the words Vidya meaning “correct knowledge” or “clarity” and Anjali meaning “an offering with both hands” in Sanskrit language.
  • This portal is like a platform for the country’s resolution of ‘Sabka Prayas’ with ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas’.
  • It was launched with the objective to facilitate donations, contributions from Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds, and volunteering.
  • This portal will enable community or volunteers to contribute by connecting with the government and government aided schools of their choice directly.

About Shikshak Parv 2021:

  • Shikshak Parv 2021 was launched by the Ministry of Education (MoE).
  • Its celebration started on September 5 and will conclude on September 17, 2021.
  • Between September 8 and September 17, the ministry will conduct webinars on themes including technology in education, nurturing inclusive classrooms, foundation literacy and numeracy, and other practices and initiatives which can be adopted by the schools across the country.
  • It is being organized to recognize valuable contributions of teachers and to take the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 ahead.
  • The theme of "Shikshak Parv 2021" is Quality and Sustainable Schools: Learnings from Schools in India".

                                                                                            

NIRF: The sixth edition of the National Institute Ranking Framework (NIRF) was recently launched by the Ministry of Education (MoE).

Highlights:

  • IIT Madras, IISc Bangalore, and IIT Bombay have emerged as the country’s top three higher education institutions.
  • Under the best college category, Miranda House has again topped the list this year.
  • In the university category, IISc Bengaluru was the best ranked varsity.

Abour NIRF:

  • NIRF is the first ever effort by the government to rank higher education institutions (HEIs) in the country.
  • It is one of the criteria for private institutions assessment for the Institutions of Eminence (IoE) Scheme

Note: IoE Scheme is a government's scheme to provide the regulatory architecture for setting up or upgrading of 20 Institutions (10 from public sector and 10 from the private sector) as world class teaching and research institutions.

  • It was launched on 29th September 2015
  • Initially, the participation in NIRF was in the NIRF was voluntary but it was made compulsory for all government run educational institutions in 2018.
  • This year, about 6,000 institutions participated in NIRF which is about twice the number in 2016.

Objective:

  • The main objective of NIRF is to encourage institutes to compete against each other and simultaneously work towards their growth.
  • In addition, these rankings also attract foreign students, providing a solid base for the ‘Study in India’ programme for the growth of higher education in India.

How are they ranked?

In order to be ranked, all education institutions are assessed on the following five parameters:

  • Teaching
  • Learning and resources
  • Research and professional practices
  • Graduation outcomes
  • Outreach and inclusivity
  • Perception

NIRF lists out best institutions across the following 11 categories:

  • Overall national ranking,
  • Universities
  • Engineering
  • Architecture
  • Dental  
  • Research
  • College
  • Medical
  • Management
  • Pharmacy
  • Law

About MoE:

  • Ministry of Education (MoE) was formerly known as the Ministry of Human Resource Development (1985–2020).
  • The ministry is responsible for the implementation and formulation of the National Policy on Education (NEP) approved by Union Cabinet of India and to ensure that it is implemented in letter and spirit.
  • The Ministry is further divided into two departments.
  • They are,
  • The Department of School Education and Literacy.
  • It deals with primary, secondary and higher secondary education, adult education and literacy.
  • The Department of Higher Education,
  • It deals with a university education, technical education, scholarship, etc.
  • The current Union Education Minister is Dharmendra Pradhan.

Note: India has had the Ministry of Education since 1947.

                                                                                  

TMA Scheme: The Ministry of Commerce and Industry recently revised the Transport and Marketing Assistance (TMA) scheme for specified agriculture products.

Key points about TMA for Specified Agriculture Products Scheme:

The major changes that have been made in the revised scheme include dairy products, which were not covered under the earlier scheme, which will be eligible for assistance under the revised scheme.

Rates of assistance have been increased, by 50% for exports by sea and by 100% for exports by air.

The notification about the procedure for availing assistance under the revised scheme will shortly be announced by the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT).

The revised TMA scheme will be available for exports affected on or after 01.04.2021 up to 31.03.2022.

Enhanced assistance under the revised scheme is expected to help Indian exporters of agricultural products to meet rising freight and logistics costs.

About Transport and Marketing Assistance (TMA):

The TMA Scheme was launched in 2019 by the Ministry of Commerce & Industry.

The scheme was launched with an objective to provide assistance for the international component of freight and marketing of agricultural produce.

All exporters, duly registered with relevant Export Promotion Council as per Foreign Trade Policy, of eligible agriculture products, shall be covered under this scheme.

The scheme covers freight and marketing assistance for export by air as well as by sea (both normal and reefer cargo).

Duration of the Scheme:

The scheme was initially applicable for exports affected during the period from 01.03.2019 to 31.03.2020 and was later extended for exports affected up to 31.03.2021.

                                                                                  

 

Shikshak Parv 2021: Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently addressed teachers and students during the inaugural conclave of ‘Shikshak Parv’ via video conferencing.

Key Points:

  • The Ministry of Education (MoE) is celebrating Shikshak Parv, 2021 from September 5 17 in recognition of the valuable contributions of teachers and to take National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 a step forward.
  • These new initiatives were launched under Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav to bring in an educational revolution and place the Indian education system on the global map.
  • The five key schemes launched under the NEP 2020 are as follows:
  • Indian sign language dictionary of 10,000 words,
  • Talking books (audiobooks for visually impaired),
  • School quality assessment and accreditation framework (SQAAF) of CBSE,
  • NISHTHA teachers’ training programme for NIPUN Bharat
  • Vidyanjali portal for facilitating education volunteers, donors and CSR contributors for school development.

                                                                                                       

Glue Grant Scheme: Forty Central universities will be implementing innovative measures such as the academic credit bank and the Glue Grant Scheme.

About Glue Grant Scheme:

  • The glue grant scheme was announced in this year’s budget.

  • Under the Glue Grant Scheme, institutions in the same city would be encouraged to share resources, equipment and even allow their students to take classes from each other.

  • This is the first step for multidiciplinarity.

  • Ultimately, faculty will be able to design joint courses and a Delhi University(DU) student will be able to take a few classes at IIT-Delhi or vice versa,

  • This also means that institutions need not duplicate work by developing the same capacities, but would be able to build on each other’s expertise.

About Academic Credit Bank:

  • Under this system, the students can attain qualifications by earning credits rather than specific durations on campus.

  • A certain number of credits would add up to a certificate, then a diploma and then a degree. This would allow for multiple entries and exit points.

  • Moreover, students can earn up to 40% of their credits in online Swayam classes. In the future, the credits will be valid across institutions.

Journalist Welfare Scheme (JWS): The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has decided to form a committee to review the existing guidelines of the Journalist Welfare Scheme (JWS).

  • A ten member Committee headed by Shri Ashok Kumar Tandon, renowned Journalist and Member, Prasar Bharati has been constituted to take a look at the existing guidelines of JWS of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and make appropriate recommendations for changes therein.

About the committee:

  • The committee will revise the quantum of ex-gratia payment in case of death as well as in other cases under the scheme.

  • The terms of reference (ToR) of the committee include examining the need for such a revision of the quantum of ex-gratia payment.

  • It will look into the aspect of differentiation or parity between accredited and non-accredited journalists for availing benefits under the scheme.

  • The committee shall give its recommendations within two months and all secretarial assistance for convening its meetings will be provided by the Press Information Bureau (PIB).

Significance:

  • This decision is considered significant in the light of the several changes that have taken place in the media eco space including the loss of a large number of journalists due to COVID-19 and the broad basing of the definition of the “Working Journalists”.

  • With the enactment of Occupational, Safety, Health and Working Condition Code 2020, the definition of the Working Journalists has been broadened to include within its fold those working in both traditional and digital media.

About Ministry of Information and Broadcasting:

  • Ministry of Information and Broadcasting is a ministerial level agency of the Government of India (GoI).

  • It is responsible for the formulation and administration of rules, regulations and laws in the areas of information, broadcasting, the press and the Cinema of India.

  • The Ministry is responsible for the administration of Prasar Bharati, the broadcasting arm of the Indian Government.

  • The Central Board of Film Certification is the other important statutory body under this ministry being responsible for the regulation of motion pictures broadcast in India.

  • This ministry was founded on 15 August 1947.

  • The current Minister of Information and Broadcasting is Anurag Thakur (Union Minister).

Laddu Distribution Scheme: The Union Home Minister, Shri Amit Shah recently launched nutritious a ‘Laddu Distribution Scheme’.

  • This scheme has been launched for pregnant women in his Parliamentary constituency Gandhinagar.

About the scheme:

  • Under this scheme, around 7,000 pregnant women in Gandhinagar area will be provided 15 nutritious laddu each, free of cost, till birth of their child, through NGOs

  • There will be no expenditure by the Government, as the responsibility for this will be borne by the NGOs.

The Shikshak Parv-2021: The Department of School Education and Literacy (DOSEL) recently decided to celebrate Shikshak Parv-2021 from September 5 to 17.

Highlights:

  • The Shikshak Parv-2021 will be celebrated through online mode to recognise the contributions of teachers and take the new National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 one step forward.

  • It will be conducted on the occasion of Teacher’s Day celebrations.

  • A dedicated website for the event has been created by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, National Informatics Centre.

  • This event will be celebrated to honour the contribution of teachers.

  • As per reports, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be addressing the event online on September 7, 2021.

  • On the occasion, PM will launch five initiatives:

  1. Indian sign language dictionary of 10,000 words

  2. Talking books (audio books for visually impaired)

  3. School quality assessment and accreditation framework (SQAAF) of CBSE

  4. NISTHA teachers’ training programme for NIPUN Bharat, and

  5. Vidyanjali portal to facilitate education volunteers, donors and CSR contributors in development of school.

Shikshak Parv-2021:

  • Shikshak Parv-2021 will be celebrated by Ministry of Education (MoE) from September 5 to 17, 2021.

  • It will be organized to recognize the valuable contributions of teachers and to take National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 ahead.

Theme of the webinars:

  • The theme of webinars has been divided into nine sub-themes such as Technology in Education: NDEAR, Foundational Literacy and Numeracy: A Prerequisite to Learning and ECCE, Nurturing Inclusive Classrooms etc. to highlight the best practices and initiatives which can be adopted by schools of India.

  • The inaugural conclave will be followed by webinars, presentations, discussions, etc. till September 17 in which teachers and educational practitioners will deliver speeches on schools quality and innovation related issues.

  • The SCERT and DIET will also contribute to the webinars.

Karmayogi:

Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Science & Technology; Minister of State (Independent Charge) Earth Sciences; MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh recently inaugurated the “Karmayogi” Digital Learning Facility.

  • On the occasion, Dr. Jitendra Singh also released a special edition of the bi-annual ISTM Journal of Training, Research and Governance on Mission Karmayogi.

About “Karmayogi” Digital Learning Facility:

  • This facility has been launched for Civil Servants at the Institute of Secretariat Training & Management (ISTM), a premier Central Training Institution under the Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT).

  • It will help further in extending the citizen centric reforms initiated by the Government under ‘Mission Karmayogi’.

  • It is meant to upgrade the skills of central government officers and personnel.

  • This path-breaking initiative has been taken to shift the working and functioning of the Civil Servants from ‘Rule to Role’, so that they are equipped to perform the tasks assigned to them.

  • Mission Karmayogi aims to create a dedicated work force not only of the Civil Services but more than that; it would serve the cause of the citizen at large.

Background:

  • The National Programme for Civil Services Capacity Building (‘NPCSCB’) – “Mission Karmayogi” was approved by the Government on 2nd September, 2020.

  • It was approved with the main objective of enhancing governance through Civil Services Capacity Building.

  • NPCSCB was launched with the following institutional framework:-

  1. Prime Minister's Public Human Resources (HR) Council,

  2. Capacity Building Commission.

  3. Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for owning and operating the digital assets and the technological platform for online training.

  4. Coordination Unit headed by the Cabinet Secretary.

Features:

  • NPCSCB has been carefully designed to lay the foundations for capacity building for Civil Servants so that they remain entrenched in Indian Culture and sensibilities and remain connected, with their roots, while they learn from the best institutions and practices across the world.

  • The training of Civil Servants at various Academies is being restructured to include optimum use of the digital learning platform of Integrated Government Online Training (iGOT).

e-Shram portal:

Labour and Employment Minister Bhupendra Yadav recently lauched a portal named e-Shram portal for the labours working in the unorganized sector of the country.

Highlights:

  • e-Shram portal is a national database of unorganized sector workers.

  • It was handed it over to the States/UTs in the presence of the Minister of State for Labor and Employment and Petroleum and Natural Gas, Rameshwar Teli.

Key Details:

  • The main aim of the government is to register 38 crore unorganised workers, such as construction labourers, migrant workforce, street vendors and domestic workers, among others.

  • The service will help in creating a National Database of Unorganized Workers (NDUW) in the country.

  • The Government of India (GoI) will prepare a national database through this service.

  • The GoI will have an aadhaar-based database of the unorganized workers across various sectors in the country.

  • Under this initiative e-shram cards will be issued to the workers.

  • This card will have a 12-digit UAN.

  • It will be valid everywhere in the country.

  • It will also help in including them in social security schemes.

  • The Labour Ministry, state governments, trade unions and CSCs will coordinate the registration of workers on the portal.

  • A national toll free number — 14434 — will also be launched to assist and address the queries of workers seeking registration on the portal.

E Shram Card Registration 2021:

  • To do E Shram Card Registration 2021, the workers have to visit the website eshram.gov.in.

  • They have to register themselves, for which Aadhaar number and mobile number linked with Aadhaar will be required.

  • On this, information like name, profession, address, education, skill will have to be entered.

  • Then the workers will be provided with an e-SHRAM card which will have a 12 digit unique number.

  • The objective behind the move is the integration of Centre’s social security schemes.

  • The details of workers will also be shared by the state government and departments. Following the launch of the portal, the workers from the unorganised sector can begin their registration on the same day.

Note: Earlier on August 24, 2021, the Minister for Labour and Employment Bhupender Yadav had unveiled the logo for the E-Shram portal.

Drone Rules 2021:

Ministry of Civil Aviation recently repealed the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Rules, 2021 and replaced the same with the liberalized Drone Rules, 2021.

Key Points:

  • The step has been taken based on the feedback received by the Government.

  • The earlier UAS Rules 2021 was perceived by academia, Startups, end-users and other stakeholders as being restrictive in nature as they involved considerable paperwork, required permissions for every drone flight and very few “free to fly” green zones were available.

  • The new rules are aimed at making it significantly easier for people and companies to own and operate drones.

  • They also streamline a labyrinthine certification process for manufacturers, importers and users.

Some Key features of Drone Rules 2021:

  • According to the new rules, some of the key features of Drone Rules 2021 are as follows:

  • Special drone corridors will be developed for cargo deliveries.

  • Several approvals have also been abolished. They include unique authorization number, unique prototype identification number, certificate of manufacturing and airworthiness, certificate of conformance, certificate of maintenance, import clearance, acceptance of existing drones, operator permit, authorization of R&D organization, student remote pilot licence, remote pilot instructor authorization, drone port authorization etc.

  • No pilot licence will be required for micro drones (for non-commercial use), nano drones and for R&D organisations.

  • Number of forms reduced from 25 to 5.

  • Types of fee reduced from 72 to 4.

  • Quantum of fee reduced to nominal levels and delinked with size of drone. For instance, the fee for a remote pilot license fee has been reduced from INR 3000 (for large drones) to INR 100 for all categories of drones; and is valid for 10 years.

  • Digital sky platform shall be developed as a user-friendly single-window system.

  • The human interface will be minimal and most permissions will be self-generated.

  • No permission required for operating drones in green zones.

  • Yellow zone reduced from 45 km to 12 km from the airport perimeter.

  • No remote pilot licence required for micro drones (for non-commercial use) and nano drones.

  • Features of safety and security such as no permission – no takeoff, geo-fencing, real-time tracking beacon, etc. to be notified in future. For compliance, industry will be provided with a six-month lead time.

  • The maximum penalty for violations is reduced to INR 1 lakh.

  • Drone promotion council to be set up by Government with participation from academia, startups and other stakeholders to facilitate a growth-oriented regulatory regime.

About Ministry of Civil Aviation of India:

  • The Ministry of Civil Aviation of Government of India (GoI) is the nodal Ministry responsible for the formulation of national policies and programmes for development and regulation of Civil Aviation and for devising and implementing schemes for the orderly growth and expansion of civil air transport.

  • Its functions also extend to overseeing airport facilities, air traffic services and carriage of passengers and goods by air.

  • The Ministry also administers implementation of the Aircraft Act, 1934, Aircraft Rules, 1937.

  • This Ministry is administratively responsible for the Commission of Railways Safety.

  • The current Union Minister of Civil Aviation is Jyotiraditya M. Scindia.

Recent Initiatives of NEP-2020:

The Government of India (GoI) on 24 August 2021 launched various initiatives of National Education Policy (NEP) 2020.

Highlights:

  • These initiatives were launched jointly by Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Dr Virender Kumar in New Delhi.

  • These initiatives seek to make education more inclusive and prepare students for 21st century.

Key Points about the initiatives launched:

  • The Ministers also launched Booklet on the 1-year-NEP-2020 Acheivement Document.

  • They also launched the National Initiative for Proficiency in Reading with Understanding and Numeracy Bharat FLN tools.

  • Along with, ‘Priya’- Accessibility booklet, resources on DIKSHA (Digital Infrastructure fro Knowledge Sharing) platform, virtual school on National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS), Alternate Academic Calendar 2021-22 of NCERT, NIPUN Bharat Mission were also launched to mark the occasion.

  • The Government urged both the Departments of School Education & Literacy and Department of Higher Education to take up the task of creating accessible educational infrastructure and content on a mission mode, consistently progressing towards Inclusive Education which is a vital component of the new NEP.

About Booklet on one-year NEP-2020 Achievement Document:

  • A booklet on one-year achievements of the National Education Policy Implementation was unveiled.

  • The booklet has been prepared by the department of school education and literacy, ministry of education in order to commemorate one year of the implementation of NEP 2020.

About Priya -The Accessibility Warrior:

  • "Priya -The Accessibility Warrior" will sensitize the students on accessibility related issues for Divyangs.

  • Special emphasis has been laid to make the booklet simple, interesting and interactive to create awareness on accessibility in children right from their formative years.

  • It is the outcome of collaborative efforts of Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan), Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and Department of School Education and Literacy.

  • It provides glimpses into the world of a girl named Priya who met an accident and could not walk, due to plastered leg.

  • The story depicts how Priya managed to participate in all activities at school, and in the process learnt the importance of the accessibility.

  • She, therefore takes the pledge of being an accessibility warrior.

  • The comic book is also available with Indian Sign Language (ISL) explanatory videos.

About Virtual School of NIOS:

  • Virtual School of NIOS is first-of-its-kind initiative in the country which will provide advanced digital learning platforms through Virtual Live Classrooms and Virtual Labs.

  • This school is a new model of learning and is an example how leveraging technology and innovation can facilitate greater inclusion in education.

About Alternate Academic Calendar 2021-22 of NCERT:

  • Alternate Academic Calendar of NCERT has been developed to facilitate teachers and parents to assess the progress in the learning of children.

  • It contains week-wise plan of interesting and challenging activities, with reference to learning outcomes, themes and chapters taken from syllabus or textbook.

About NIPUN Bharat Mission:

  • NIPUN Bharat Mission aims to ensure that every Indian chid attains foundational literacy and numeracy by the end of Grade 3, by; 2026-27.

  • The main objective of this initiative is to cover the learning needs of children under the age group of 3-9 years.

  • This mission has been launched under the aegis of the centrally sponsored scheme of 'Samagra Siksha'.

  • It will be implemented by the Department of School Education and Literacy.

  • NIPUN Bharat FLN tools and resources has been made available under a separate vertical for FLN resources developed under DIKSHA to assist and mentor States/UTs and teachers for implementing NIPUN Bharat guidelines.

  • This vertical has infographics and videos on learning outcomes and assessment tools for teachers to facilitate them.

Aim:

  • The Government is working towards digitalization of education and strengthening the sector so the initiatives are aimed at promoting inclusive education and bringing transformative changes in the lives of disabled.

  • The National Education Policy also seeks to help boosting the country’s development.

About MoE:

  • MoE refers to the Ministry of Education.

  • It was formerly known as the Ministry of Human Resource Development (1985–2020).

  • The ministry is responsible for the implementation and formulation of the National Policy on Education approved by Union cabinet of India and to ensure that it is implemented in letter and spirit.

  • The Ministry is further divided into two departments.

  • They are, the Department of School Education and Literacy, which deals with primary, secondary and higher secondary education, adult education and literacy and the Department of Higher Education, which deals with a university education, technical education, scholarship, etc.

  • The current Union Minister of MoE is Dharmendra Pradhan.

Indian Policy Current Affairs - August 2021

Fortification of Rice:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced fortification of rice distributed under various government schemes including Public Distribution System (PDS) and Mid-Day-Meal scheme by 2024.

  • This announcement was made by him while addressing the nation on 75th Independence Day.

Key Points:

  • As per the announcement, rice being distributed through all government schemes will be fortified by 2024.

  • This decision was taken in order to address the problem of malnutrition and lack of essential nutrients in children and women living in poor conditions as it poses a major obstacle towards their development.

  • Micronutrient deficiencies or ‘hidden hunger’ also continue to pose significant public health problems in Indian populations.

Significance of fortified rice in India:

  • Fortification of rice in India is significant in countering malnutrition because, government distributes more than 300 lakh tonnes of rice under schemes covered under National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013.

  • Fortified rice is a cost-effective strategy to increase mineral and vitamin content in diets.

  • For 2021-22, approximately 328 lakh tonnes of rice allocated by the Centre is being distributed through schemes under the National Food Security Act such as Mid-Day Meals (MDM), Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS), and Targeted Public Distribution System (PDS).

Note: India produces over one-fifth of the world’s rice. The country is also the largest consumer of rice, accounting for 6.8 kilograms per month as per capita rice consumption.

What is food fortification?

  • Food fortification is the simplest and sustainable public health strategies that address the challenge of micronutrient deficiencies.

  • It is a cost-effective, scientifically proven, and globally recognised approach.

  • It also helps in easily reaching to wider & vulnerable populations by means of existing food delivery systems.

What is the Fortification of rice?

  • The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) defines the fortification as “deliberately increasing the content of essential micronutrients in a food so as to improve the nutritional quality of food and to provide public health benefit with minimal risk to health.”

  • According to the FSSAI norms, 1 kg fortified rice shall contain iron (28mg-42.5mg), folic acid (75-125 microgram) and Vitamin B-12 (0.75-1.25 microgram).

  • In addition, rice may also be fortified with micronutrients, singly or in combination, at the level– zinc (10mg-15mg), Vitamin A (500-750 microgram RE), Vitamin B1 (1mg-1.5mg), Vitamin B2 (1.25mg-1.75mg), Vitamin B3 (12.5mg-20mg) and Vitamin B6 (1.5mg-2.5mg) per Kg.

NFHS 4 report:

  • According to National Family Health Survey report, India has the largest burden of iron-deficiency and anaemia worldwide.

  • About 59% of children and 50% of pregnant women are anaemic in India.

  • Child and maternal malnutrition accounts for 15% of India’s total disease burden.

Draft Electricity Rules, 2021:

The Ministry of Power has circulated the “Draft Electricity (promoting renewable energy through Green Energy Open Access) Rules, 2021”.

Key Points:

  • These rules are proposed for purchase and consumption of green energy including the energy from Waste-to-Energy plants.

  • The draft rules have the following subheads within which details are provided:

  1. Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO);

  2. Green energy open access;

  3. Nodal Agencies;

  4. Procedure for grant of green energy open access;

  5. Banking; and

  6. Cross subsidy surcharge.

  • These draft rules with regard to tariff proposes that the tariff for the Green Energy shall be determined by the Appropriate Commission, which may comprise of the average pooled power purchase cost of the renewable energy, cross-subsidy charges (if any) and service charges covering all prudent cost of the distribution licensee for providing the green energy.”

  • As per the draft rules “Green hydrogen” is the hydrogen produced using electricity from the renewable sources.

  • The obligated entity including the Industries can also meet their Renewable Purchase Obligation by purchasing green hydrogen.

  • The quantum of green hydrogen would be computed by considering the equivalence to the Green hydrogen produced from one MWh of electricity from the renewable sources or its multiple.

  • The norms shall be notified by the Central Commission.

  • The Appropriate Commission shall put in place regulations in accordance with this Rule to provide Green Energy Open Access to consumers who are willing to consume the Green energy.

  • All applications for open access of Green Energy shall be granted within a maximum of 15 days.

  • The rules says that only Consumers who have contracted demand/sanctioned load of hundred kW and above shall be eligible to take power through green energy open access.

  • There shall be no limit of supply of power for the captive consumers taking power under green energy open access.

  • Provided further that reasonable conditions such as the minimum number of time blocks for which the consumer shall not change the quantum of power consumed through open access may be imposed so as to avoid high variation in demand to be met by the distribution licensee.”

About MNRE:

  • It is an acronym for the Ministry of Power & Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.

  • MNRE is the nodal Ministry of the Government of India in New Delhi, for all matters relating to new and renewable energy.

  • The ministry was established as the Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Sources in 1992. It started functioning independently with effect from 2nd July, 1992.

  • Earlier it was known as the Ministry of Energy sources.

  • Electricity is a concurrent subject at Entry 38 in List III of the seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India.

  • It is mainly responsible for research and development, intellectual property protection, and international cooperation, promotion, and coordination in renewable energy sources such as wind power, small hydro, biogas, and solar power.

  • The current Minister of MNRE R. K. Singh, a Minister of State (Independent Charge).

Student Entrepreneurship Program 3.0:

The third series of the ‘Student Entrepreneurship Program’ (SEP 3.0) for the young innovators of Atal Tinkering Labs (ATL) has been launched in India by the Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) NITI Aayog in collaboration with La Fondation Dassault Systemes.

Key Points:

  • The theme of SEP 3.0 is based on the ‘Made in 3D - Seed the Future Entrepreneurs Program’.

  • The theme of SEP 3.0 was conceptualized and rolled out in France by La Main à la Pate Foundation and La Fondation Dassault Systèmes Europe in 2017.

  • As part of this program, a team from each school (6 students and a teacher) will be allocated seed funding towards creating their own start-up, design and prototype their innovation using 3D printing, prepare marketing campaign, define product pricing and create expansion strategy.

  • Through this program, team will get the real feel of ‘How a startup works!’

  • Startup of each school will participate in a playful competition at the end of the programme and present their marketing campaign before experts from industry and academia.

Key features of SEO 3.0 Program:

  • As a part of the program, a total of 50 teams from 26 states are selected.

  • These teams include the top 20 teams of (Atal Tinkering Lab) ATL Marathon 2019, 10 teams from Aspirational Districts, 10 teams selected by Dassault, and 10 teams from Jammu & Kashmir, Ladakh, and Northeast

  • Each team comprises 6 students and a teacher.

  • Teams will work towards creating their own start-up, design and prototype their innovation using 3D printing, prepare marketing campaigns, define product pricing and create expansion strategy.

  • Seed funding will be allocated for their ventures.

Significance:

  • It will allow student innovators to work in association with Dassault volunteers and help them in gaining the following:

  • Mentor support

  • Prototyping and testing support

  • End-User feedback,

  • Intellectual Property registration and Patenting of ideas,

  • Manufacturing support

  • Launch of the product in the market.

  • It will help to the develop Innovation mindset and exposure to start-up culture.

  • The school students and teachers will have a unique opportunity to interact and collaborate with French schools and French students for cultural and technical interactions.

  • The programme will also provide opportunity to school children to develop an entrepreneurial and inventive mind set, as well as suitable exposure through activities-based learning, exploration and challenges.

What is SEP?

  • Student Entrepreneurship Program (SEP) is a joint programme of AIM and La Fondation Dassault Systems in India.

  • SEP falls in line with the vision and mission of aspirational district program that it has given a new hope to students who were looking forward for such opportunities.

  • SEP 1.0 began in January 2019. It allowed student innovators to work closely with Dell volunteers.

  • SEP 2.0 was launched in 2020. Again the major industrial partner was Dell Technologies.

TAPAS:

Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment has launched an online portal named TAPAS (Training for Augmenting Productivity and Services).

About TAPAS:

  • TAPAS has been launched to provide filmed lectures/courses and e-study material in the field of social defence.

  • It is the initiative of the National Institute of Social Defence (NISD), Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.

  • The course can be taken up by anyone and is free of cost.

  • Currently, there are 5 courses under TAPAS. They are:

  1. Drug (Substance) Abuse Prevention,

  2. Geriatric/Elderly Care,

  3. Care and Management of Dementia,

  4. Transgender Issues and

  5. A comprehensive course on Social Defence Issues.

Objectives of TAPAS:

  • TAPAS seeks to provide access to lectures by subject experts, study material and more, but in a manner that it supplements the physical classroom without compromising on the quality of teaching.

  • The main objective of introducing the course modules is to impart training and enhance the knowledge and skills for the capacity building of the participants.

  • It can be taken up by anyone who wishes to enhance his or her knowledge on the topics and there is no fee for joining.

Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules 2021: Keeping in view the adverse impact of littered plastic on both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), Government of India (GoI), on 13 August, 2021, notified the Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021, prohibiting identified single-use plastic items by 2022.

Highlights:

  • The development is in line with the call given by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to phase out single-use plastic by 2022.

  • The amendments prohibit specific single-use plastic items which have “low utility and high littering potential” by 2022.

  • The recent release from the MoEFCC stated that the thickness of plastic carry bags is to increase from 50 to 75 microns from 30 September 2021 and to 120 microns with effect from 31 December 2022.

  • The Gazette notification for the same that was issued on 11th August 2021 also has 'Guidelines for Extended Producer Responsibility given legal force.'

Note: Extended Producer Responsibility is a policy approach in which producers take responsibility for management of the disposal of products they produce once those products are designated as no longer useful by consumers.

Key Details:

  • Plastic packaging waste not covered under the phase-out of identified single-use plastic items should be collected and managed in an environmentally sustainable way through the Extended Producer Responsibility of the producer, importer and brand owner (PIBO) as per Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016.

  • From July 2022, the manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale, and use of identified single-use plastic items will be banned from July 1, 2022.

  • These include ear buds with plastic sticks, plastic sticks for balloons, candy sticks, ice-cream sticks, plastic flags, polystyrene (Thermocol) for decoration, plates, cups, glasses, cutlery such as forks, spoons, knives, straws, trays, wrapping or packing films around sweet boxes, invitation cards, and cigarette packets, plastic or PVC banners less than 100 microns, and stirrers.

  • From September 30, 2021, onwards, the thickness of plastic carry bags will be increased from 50 microns to 75 microns, and thereafter from December 31, 2022, it will be increased to 120 microns.

  • The provisions will not apply to commodities made of compostable plastic.

Background:

  • A draft outlining the way forward was issued in March and involved amending the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016.

  • Currently the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, prohibits manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of carry bags and plastic sheets less than 50 microns in thickness in the country.

  • There is a ban on sachets using plastic material used for storing, packing or selling tobacco, gutkha, and pan masala.

  • India had adopted a resolution to address single-use plastic products pollution at the 4th United Nations Environment Assembly held in 2019.

  • Under the Swacch Bharat Mission, the Government is taking measures to strengthen the waste management infrastructure in the States and UTs.

  • A National Level Taskforce had also been constituted by the Ministry for taking coordinated efforts to eliminate identified single use plastic items and effective implementation of Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016.

About MoEFCC:

  • It refers to the MoEFCC. It refers to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

  • MoEFCC an Indian government ministry was formed in 1985. It is headquartered in New Delhi.

  • The ministry is responsible for planning, promoting, coordinating, conservation and survey of forest, flora and fauna of India, prevention and control of pollution, afforestation, land degradation mitigation and overseeing the implementation of environmental and forestry programmes in the country.

  • The current Minister of MoEFCC are Ashwini Kumar Choubey (Minister of State), Bhupender Yadav (Union Minister).

Vehicle Scrappage Policy: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on August 13, 2021, launched the Voluntary Vehicle Fleet Modernisation Programme, or the automobile scrappage policy.

He launched the National Automobile Scrappage Policy through video conferencing during the Investor Summit 2021, in Gujarat.

Aim:

  • This policy aims to phase out old and unfit vehicles in an environment-friendly manner.

  • It is in line with India’s goal for 21st century to achieve a clean, congestion-free and convenient mobility.

  • It seeks to create a viable circular economy and bring value for all stakeholders.

Key Details:

  • The National Vehicle Scrappage Policy (VVMP) is also dubbed as “voluntary vehicle-fleet modernisation programme”.

  • Under the policy, vehicles will be scientifically tested through authorised and automated centres before it is finally scrapped.

  • Commercial vehicles that are over 15 years’ old and personal vehicles that are more than 20 years old will be eligible for scrapping.

  • The policy will be first implemented for government-owned vehicles, and then for heavy commercial and personal vehicles.

  • From 2023 onwards, heavy commercial vehicles need to be scrapped if they do not conform to the fitness level prescribed under the rules.

  • For personal vehicles, the Govt. plans to implement this from June 2024 onwards.

Benefits:

  • This Policy has several economic and environmental benefits.

Economic Benefits:

  • The vehicle scrappage policy will bring in investments of around INR 10,000 crore to set up 450-500 Automated Testing Stations (ATS) and 60-70 Registered Vehicle Scrapping Facilities (RVSF) across the country.

  • A single window clearance portal is being developed where the applications for ATS and RVSF will be catered through a single portal within 60 days.

  • The cost of raw material by approx 40 percent as 99 percent of recovery of metal waste can be done with regular scrapping.

  • This in turn, will make the components less expensive and increase competitiveness in the international market.

  • With the increased sales of automobiles, the government will get a profit of Rs 30,000-40,000 cr in GST.

  • The state government will also get a profit of Rs 30,000-40,000 cr in GST.

  • It will also promote self-reliance of India in the auto sector and metal sector.

  • It will generate about 50000 direct and indirect employments.

Environmental Benefits:

  • Currently, India has 10 million cars without valid fitness parameters that add to pollution and fuel costs. Thus, the replacement of old vehicles will positively benefit the environment.

  • The policy will play a big role in modernizing and phasing out the old polluting vehicles in an environment-friendly manner.

Incentives for scrapping old vehicles:

The incentives are as follows:

  1. The owners of such vehicles will get a scrap value which will be equivalent to 4 - 6 percent of the ex-showroom price of the new vehicle that they would be purchasing.

  2. There will be zero registration fees for new vehicle purchased if the owner shows a certificate of deposit.

  3. The state governments have been asked to offer concessions on motor vehicle tax. The concessions include up to 25 percent for non-transport vehicles and up to 15 per cent for transport vehicles.

  4. The vehicle manufacturers have been advised to provide 5 per cent discount on purchase of new vehicle against certificate of deposit.

Ujjwal Abahan: Minister of State (MoS), Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas and Labor & Employment Shri Rameswar Teli launched a programme "Ujjwal Abahan" through virtual platform.

Key Points:

  • Ujjwal Abahan is an ONGC-supported Assam Handloom project.

  • The project will support and train over a hundred artisans of Bhatiapar of Sivasagar, Assam in Hathkharga handicraft.

  • This project is in line with the government’s observance of “Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav”.

  • ONGC also has earlier launched two projects supporting the indigenous handicrafts of the country under the above observance.

PM-DAKSH: Union Minister Virendra Kumar recently launched PM-Daksh portal, PM Daksh mobile app to promote skill development in Nalanda Auditorium at Dr. Ambedkar International Centre, Delhi.

Note: The ‘PM-DAKSH’ stands for Pradhan Mantri Dakshta Aur Kushalta Sampann Hitgrahi (PM-DAKSH) Yojana.

Key Details:

  • The platform has been developed by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, in collaboration with National E-Governance Division (NeGD), under the Department Of Electronics And Information Technology.

  • The portal can be accessed at: http://pmdaksh.dosje.gov.in.

Aim:

  • The Portal and app aims to make the skill development schemes accessible to the target groups.

  • It ensures availability of all information related to skill development at one place for Scheduled Castes, Backward Classes and Safai Karamcharis.

Background:

  • PM-DAKSH Yojana is being implemented by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment from the year 2020-21.

  • Under this scheme, eligible target group are being provided skill development training programmes on

  1. Up-skilling/Re-skilling,

  2. Short Term Training Programme,

  3. Long Term Training Programme and

  4. Entrepreneurship Development Program (EDP).

About National e-Governance Division (NeGD):

  • NeGD was created as an Independent Business Division under Digital India Corporation.

  • It was created in 2009 by Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology.

  • Since its creation, it has been playing a significant role in supporting Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology in management & implementation of Programme.

  • It has been implementing several e-Governance Projects and initiatives at the Central as well as State levels.

Ahwagandha Clinical Trials: The Ministry of Ayush has collaborated with the U.K.’s London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) to conduct a study on‘Ashwagandha’ for promoting recovery from COVID-19.

Key Details:

  • The All India Institute of Ayurveda (AIIA), an autonomous body under the Ministry of Ayush, and the LSHTM recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to conduct clinical trials of the traditional herb "Ashwagandha."

  • Ashwagandha will be administered to 2,000 randomly selected people in Leicester, Birmingham and London to find out whether this herb helps in faster recovery from Covid-19.

  • The study will be conducted for a period of three months. Under this, one group of 1,000 participants will be administered ‘Ashwagandha’ [AG] tablets, while the second group of 1,000 participants will be assigned a placebo which is indistinguishable from AG in looks and taste.

  • These patients will then be observed to understand the effects of Ashwagandha’ in promoting recovery from COVID-19.

  • While there have been several studies on ‘Ashwagandha’ to understand its benefits in various ailments, this is the first time the Ministry of Ayush has collaborated with a foreign institution to investigate its efficacy on COVID-19 patients”.

About Ashwagandha:

  • ‘Ashwagandha’ (Withania somnifera), commonly known as ‘Indian winter cherry’, is a traditional Indian herb that boosts energy, reduces stress and makes the immune system stronger.

  • The positive effects of ‘Ashwagandha’ have been observed in Long COVID, which is a multi-system disease with no evidence of its effective treatment or management.

  • Ashwagandha has also shown success in treating both acute and chronic rheumatoid arthritis.

Note: Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that can cause joint pain and damage throughout your body.

IIST and TU Delft Netherlands: The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on 4th August 2021, approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Indian Institute of Space science and Technology (IIST) and Netherlands' The Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) for research collaboration.

Highlights:

  • The agreement was signed for carrying out the Academic programmes and Research activities involving students and faculty members in each institution.

  • It was signed on April 9, 2021 and May 17, 2021 at respective institutes.

Key Details of MoU:

  • Cooperation with the EWI at TU Delft, the oldest and largest Dutch public technological university through this agreement would lead to developing a joint activity in research in the area of science and technology.

  • The parties may exchange students at undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral level.

  • Also, they will mutually discuss and decide the areas of studies and credits to be pursued under the scheme.

  • Further, with the MoU, the students will be eligible for a Dual Degree/Double Degree programme in which adds to the initial degree that will be awarded by the home institute.

  • The Parties may design and develop research of engineering project assignments which will be pursued by students during their stay both short term and long term, in the partner institute.

  • The signed agreement will provide impetus to explore newer research activities and application possibilities in the field of science and technology.

Benefits:

  • Cooperation with the EWI at TU Delft, the oldest and largest Dutch public technological university through this agreement would lead to developing a joint activity in research in the area of science and technology.

  • The signing of this Agreement shall enable pursuing the following potential interest areas of cooperation such as exchange of faculty members, students, and researchers, scientific materials, publications, and information.

  • Joint research meeting, Ph.D. program, Dual Degree/Double Degree programme.

  • It will also provide impetus to explore newer research activities and application possibilities in the field of science and technology.

Samagra Shiksha Scheme: The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has recently approved the continuation of ‘Samagra Shiksha Scheme’ for school education for further five years.

Key Details:

  • The continuation of Samagra Shiksha Scheme has been approved from 2021-22 to 2025-26.

  • This would be called as ‘Samagra Shiksha Scheme 2’

  • This scheme is to be implemented with a total financial outlay of Rs.2,94,283.04 crore which includes Central share of Rs.1,85,398.32 crore.

  • It will cover 1.16 million schools, over 156 million students and 5.7 million teachers of government and aided schools.

Background:

  • The 2018-19 Union Budget had announced that school education would be treated holistically and without segmentation from pre-primary to class 12.

  • The Integrated Scheme for School Education, Samagra Shiksha was launched in 2018 in this context.

About Samagra Shiksha Scheme:

  • The Samagra Shiksha scheme is an integrated scheme launched in 2018 for school education covering the entire gamut from pre-school to class XII.

  • It ensures inclusive & equitable quality education at all the levels of school education.

  • This scheme was launched by subsuming three schemes ‘Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA), ‘Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan’, and Teacher Education (TE).

  • The major interventions proposed under the scheme are:

  1. Universal Access including Infrastructure Development and Retention

  2. Foundational Literacy and Numeracy

  3. Digital initiatives

  4. Vocational Education

  5. Sports and Physical Education

  6. Strengthening of Teacher Education and Training, etc.

Aim:

  • This scheme aims on improving the quality of school education by focussing on two T’s – Teacher and Technology.

  • Primary aim of the scheme is to support States in implementing the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009 in accordance with the Article 21A of the constitution of India.

  • This scheme was launched with the vision of ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education from pre-school to senior secondary stage in line with the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG)- SDG 4.1 & SDG 4.5- for Education.

Implementation:

  • The Scheme is implemented as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme through a single State Implementation Society (SIS) at the State level.

  • At the National level, there is a Governing Council/Body headed by the Minister of Education and a Project Approval Board (PAB) headed by Secretary, Department of School Education and Literacy.

AIQ Scheme For Medical Education: The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on 29th July 2021, announced that a decision has been taken for providing 27% reservation for OBCs and 10% reservation for Economically Weaker Section (EWS) in the All India Quota (AIQ) Scheme for undergraduate and postgraduate medical/ dental courses (MBBS/ MD/ MS/ Diploma/ BDS/ MDS) from the current academic year 2021-22 onwards.

Key Points:

  • The decision was taken on Monday and Prime Minister Narendra Modi directed the concerned Union ministries to facilitate an effective solution to this long-pending issue.

  • This move by the government seeks to benefit nearly 1,500 OBC students every year in the MBBS course, and 2,500 OBC students in post-graduation, and around 550 EWS students in MBBS and around 1,000 EWS students in post-graduation.

Background:

  • The All India Quota (AIQ) Scheme was introduced in 1986 under the directions of the Supreme Court to provide for domicile-free merit based opportunities to students from any State to aspire to study in a good medical college located in another State.

  • All India Quota consists of 15% of total available UG seats and 50% of total available PG seats in government medical colleges.

  • Initially, there was no reservation in AIQ Scheme up to 2007. In 2007, the Supreme Court introduced reservation of 15% for SCs and 7.5% for STs in the AIQ Scheme.

  • In 2017, the apex court of India (The Supreme Court) had intorduced reservations of 15% for SCs and 7.5% for Sts in the AIQ Scheme.

  • When the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Act became effective in 2007 providing for uniform 27% reservation to OBCs, the same was implemented in all the Central Educational Institutions viz. Safdarjung Hospital, Lady Harding Medical College, Aligarh Muslim University and Banaras Hindu University etc.

However, this was not extended to the AIQ seats of State medical and dental colleges.

Academic Credit Bank: Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation on 29th July 2021 to mark the first anniversary of the new National Education Policy (NEP) 2020.

This is the first education policy of the 21st century and replaces the thirty-four year old National Policy on Education (NPE), 1986.

Highlights:

  • On the first anniversary of the National Education Policy (NEP), the Centre plans to officially roll out some initiatives promised in the policy such as a credit transfer system that will allow multiple entry and exit options in higher education, as well as engineering programmes in regional languages.

  • PM Modi would launch multiple key initiatives in the anniversary event.

  • National Digital Education Architecture (NDEAR) and National Education Technology Forum (NETF), which are among the ambitious programs of the NEP 2020, would be launched.

  • A website dedicated to Artificial Intelligence would also be launched in the event.

Key Points:

  • According to this planned initiative of the Government, it includes a credit transfer system that will allow multiple entry and exit options in higher education, as well as engineering programmes in regional languages.

  • However, other promised reforms such as the Higher Education Commission of India (HECI), the four-year undergraduate degree, and the common university entrance test, are not ready yet.

About Academic Bank of Credit:

  • The Academic Bank of Credit will be rolled out for students in over 290 top institutions from the current academic year 2021-22 onwards.

  • All institutions in the top 100 of the National Institutional Ranking Framework as well as those who have achieved an A grade under the National Assessment and Accreditation Council will be allowed to participate in the credit transfer system.

  • This system will also allow multiple entry and exit options for students.

  • Multidisciplinarity will also be issued today along with guidelines to allow a merger of institutions as well as to give students the choice of taking subjects such as social sciences, music and sports while pursuing engineering degrees, or even get a minor degree in emerging areas while majoring in a different subject.

  • Engineering degrees in regional languages in about 14 smaller institutions will be announced by PM Modi.

About National Education Policy (NEP) 2020:

  • The NEP replaced the 34-year old National Policy on Education which was framed in the year 1986.

  • It was approved by the Union Cabinet on 29 July 2020 in a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Modi.

DSF Bid Round-III: Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas and Steel Hardeep Singh Puri recently launched the Discovered Small Field (DSF) bid round-III for international competitive bidding.

Highlights:

  • Minister of State in the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas Shri Rameswar Teli, Secretary, MoPNG Shri Tarun Kapoor, Additional Secretary, MoPNG Shri Amar Nath, DG, Hydrocarbons Shri SCL Das were present on the occasion.

  • A number of investors from India and abroad participated in the event which was held in a hybrid mode.

Key Points:

  • Encouraged by the success of DSF bid rounds-I & II, the Government of India (GoI) has extended the DSF Policy by launching DSF bid round-III.

  • Under the bid round, 75 discoveries across 32 Contract areas in 11 basins/locations are being offered.

  • These fields are spread over 9 sedimentary basins covering more than 13,000 square kilometers.

  • Estimated Hydrocarbon in place of approximately 232 MMTOE of oil and oil equivalent gas are on offer.

The salient features of DSF policy are:

  1. Revenue Sharing Model,

  2. Single License for Conventional & Unconventional Hydrocarbons

  3. No upfront signature bonus,

  4. Reduced Royalty rate in line with HELP

  5. No cess

  6. Full marketing and Pricing freedom for gas produced

  7. Exploration allowed during entire contract period

  8. 100% participation from foreign companies/ joint ventures

Background:

  • The Government of India (GoI) had launched Discovered Small Field (DSF) Policy in 2015 for awarding discovered acreages and monetize the unmonetized discoveries.

  • DSF Round – I was launched in 2016 where 134 bids were submitted for 34 contract areas by 47 companies and 30 Revenue Sharing Contracts were signed.

  • DSF Round – II launched in 2018 where 145 bids were submitted for 24 contract area and 24 Revenue Sharing Contracts were signed.

Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas:

  • The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas is a ministry of the Government of India (GoI).

  • It is responsible for the exploration, production, refining, distribution, marketing, import, export, and conservation of petroleum, natural gas, petroleum products, and liquefied natural gas in India.

  • The ministry is currently headed by the Cabinet Minister Hardeep Singh Puri.

Indian Policy Current Affairs - July 2021

Marine Aids to Navigation Bill: Union Minister of Ports Shipping and Waterways Sarbananda Sonowal introduced the Marine Aids to Navigation Bill in the Rajya Sabha terming it to be very important for developing the entire navigation system of India.

Highlights:

  • The Marine Aids to Navigation Bill 2021 had been introduced in the Lok Sabha (Lower House) on 15 March 2021.

  • The bill was moved by Minister of Ports, Shipping and Waterways, Mansukh Mandaviya.

  • This initiative is part of the proactive approach which was adopted by Shipping Ministry by repealing the archaic colonial laws and replacing them with the modern and contemporary needs in the maritime industry.

Aim:

  • The Marine Aids to Navigation Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha with the aim of repealing the colonial Lighthouse Act of 1927.

  • This bill is aimed at maintenance, development and management of marine aids to navigation around the country.

  • It also aims to empower the Directorate General of Lighthouses and Lightships (DGLL) by providing the additional power and functions.

Salient Features of the Bill:

  • The salient features of the Bill include - Development of vessel traffic services for enhancing the safety and efficiency of shipping, to protect the environment

  • Marking of wrecks in general waters to indicate sunken or stranded vessels for safe navigation.

  • The bill seeks to identify and develop the heritage lighthouses.

Factoring Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2020: The Lok Sabha will to take up Factoring Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2020 on 23 July 2021.

Highlights:

  • Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is scheduled to move the bill to amend the Factoring Regulation Act, 2011.

  • Food Processing Industries Minister Pashu Pati Kumar Paras is also scheduled to move the National Institutes of Food Technology, Entrepreneurship and Management Bill, 2021 in Lok Sabha for consideration and passing.

Background:

  • The Factoring Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2020 was introduced in Lok Sabha on September 14, 2020.

  • The Bill seeks to amend the Factoring Regulation Act, 2011 to widen the scope of entities which can engage in factoring business.

Key Details:

  • Under the Factoring Regulation Act, 2011, factoring business is a business where an entity (referred as factor) acquires the receivables of another entity (referred as assignor) for an amount.

  • Receivable is the total amount that is owed or yet to be paid by the customers (referred as the debtors) to the assignor for the use of any goods, services or facility.

  • Factor can be a bank, a registered non-banking financial company or any company registered under the Companies Act.

Note: Credit facilities provided by a bank against the security of receivables are not considered as factoring business.

Change in the definition of receivables:

  • The Act defines receivables as (all or part of or undivided interest in) the monetary sum which is the right of a person under a contract.

  • This right may be existing, arise in the future, or contingent arising from use of any service, facility or otherwise.

  • The Bill amends the definition of receivables to mean any money owed by a debtor to the assignor for toll or for the use of any facility or services.

Change in the definition of assignment:

  • The Act defines assignment to mean transfer (by agreement) of undivided interest of any assignor in any receivable due from the debtor, in favour of the factor.

  • The Bill amends the definition to add that such a transfer can be in whole or in part (of the undivided interest in the receivable dues).

Change in the definition of factoring business:

  • The Act defines a factoring business to mean the business of:

  1. Acquisition of receivables of an assignor by accepting assignment of such receivables, or

  2. (ii) Financing against the security interests of any receivables through loans or advances.

  • The Bill amends this to define factoring business as acquisition of receivables of an assignor by assignment for a consideration.

  • The acquisition should be for the purpose of collection of the receivables or for financing against such assignment.

Registration of factors:

  • Under the Act, no company can engage in factoring business without registering with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

  • For a non-banking financial company (NBFC) to engage in a factoring business, its:

(i) Financial assets in the factoring business,

(ii) Income from the factoring business should both be more than 50% (of the gross assets/net income) or more than a threshold as notified by the RBI.

  • The Bill removes this threshold for NBFCs to engage in factoring business.

Registration of transactions:

  • Under the Act, factors are required to register the details of every transaction of assignment of receivables in their favour.

  • These details should be recorded with the Central Registry setup under the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest (SARFAESI) Act, 2002 within a period of 30 days.

  • If they fail to do so, the company and each officer failing to comply may be punished with a fine of up to five thousand rupees per day till the default continues.

  • The Bill removes the 30 day time period.

  • It states that the time period, manner of registration, and payment fee for late registration may be specified by the regulations.

  • Further, the Bill states that where trade receivables are financed through Trade Receivables Discounting System (TReDS), the details regarding transactions should be filed with the Central Registry by the concerned TReDS, on behalf of the factor.

  • Note that TReDS is an electronic platform for facilitating financing of trade receivables of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises.

RBI to make regulations:

The Bill empowers RBI to make regulations for:

  1. The manner of granting registration certificates to a factor,

  2. The manner of filing of transaction details with the Central Registry for transactions done through the TReDS, and

  3. Any other matter as required.

Essential Defence Services Bill, 2021: The government on 22nd July 2021 introduced a blll in Lok Sabha which seeks to prohibit any agitation and strike by anyone engaged in the essential defence services.

Key Points:

  • The Essential Defence Services Bill, 2021, introduced by Minister of State for Defence Ajay Bhatt amid the din in Parliament over allegations of snooping by the government using the Pegasus spyware, and the three farm bills.

  • The Bill states that it is essential that an uninterrupted supply of ordnance items to the armed forces should be maintained for the defence preparedness of the country and so the ordnance factories continue to function without any disruptions, especially in view of the prevailing situation on the northern front of the country.

  • It was felt necessary that the government should have power to meet the emergency created by such attempts and ensure the maintenance of essential defence services in all establishments connected with defence, in public interest or interest of the sovereignty and integrity of India or security of any State or decency or morality.

  • The Bill grants power to the government to act in case of strike against corporatisation of ordinance factories.

  • If this bill is passed it will come into effect from 30th June 2021.

Salient features:

  • This Bill is introduced with the aim to prevent the staff of all the government-owned ordnance factories across the country from going on a strike.

  • Note: Around 70,000 people work with the 41 ordnance factories around the country.

  • The Bill mentioned that that it is meant to “provide for the maintenance of essential defence services so as to secure the security of nation and the life and property of public at large and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto”.

  • According to its objectives, the government has stated that Indian Ordnance Factories (IOF) is the oldest and largest industrial set up which functions under the Department of Defence Production of the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

  • The ordnance factories form an integrated base for indigenous production of defence hardware and equipment, with the primary objective of self-reliance in equipping the armed forces with the state-of-the-art battlefield equipment.

  • The government has claimed that this bill is being introduced with the primary aim of improving the service, accountability and efficiency of these factories. Also, that by going on strikes doesn’t disrupt the defence services of the nation.

Who will be affected?

  • This bill will directly affect around 70,000 employees who are currently employed in the 41 ordnance factories across the nation.

  • These employees are unhappy with the government’s decision to corporatize the OFBs, fearing that their service and retirement conditions will be affected.

  • The government has given them assurance that it will not be affected even after the OFBs are corporatized.

Background:

  • On June, 16, the government decided to convert the Ordnance Factory Board into seven Defence Public Sector Undertakings.

  • In spite of the government’s assurance to take care of the conditions of service of the employees of the Ordnance Factory Board, the recognized federations of the employees have reiterated their intention to go on an indefinite strike from July 26.

  • The Statement of Objects said the ordinance issued on June 30 defines the expressions “essential defence services” and “strike”.

  • It empowers the central government to prohibit strike in essential defence services and provides for disciplinary action, including dismissal, against employees participating in strike.

  • It also provides for penalties for “illegal strikes, instigation thereof and providing for financial aid to such illegal strikes.”

Khushiyon Ka Aashiyana and Awas Par Samvaad: Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana – Urban (PMAY-U) has launched two unique initiatives, Khushiyon Ka Aashiyana- Short Film contest 2021 and Awas Par Samvaad – series of 75 seminars and workshops,to take ahead the Prime Minister’s vision of ‘Housing for All’.

Note: PMAY-U is one of the world’s largest affordable housing Missions of the Government of India (GoI).

Key Details:

  • These two initiatives were announced by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) on the occasion of sixth anniversary of PMAY-U on June 25, 2021.

  • Both the initiatives are being implemented on a challenge & competition mode and are among other several events proposed as part of 'Azadi ka Amrut Mahotsav', a programme of the Government of India ‘to celebrate and commemorate 75 years of progressive India and the glorious history of its people, culture and achievement’.

  • The Standard Operating Procedures (SoPs) of both have already been released.

1. Khushiyon Ka Aashiyana- Short Film contest 2021:

  • For the short film contest, applications are invited from PMAY-U beneficiaries, students, youth, members of the civil society, institutions and individual/groups on the broad theme of six years journey of PMAY-U Mission and how it has impacted lives of people, thereby bringing transformation, dignity and enabling empowerment.

  • The competition is open to all Indian Nationals above the age of 18 years and the final date for submission is September 1.

  • The results will be declared onSeptember30, 2021 and 25 each winners will be rewarded in three categories with cash prizes of Rs 25000, Rs 20000 and Rs 12500along with certificate.

2. About Awas Par Samvaad:

  • Awas Par Samvaad’ aims to create awareness and promote discussion, deliberation and dissemination on 'Housing for All' among multiple stakeholders belonging to varied streams of learning and practices, e.g. engineering, urban community development, planning, finance, etc.

  • This will be done through 75 nation-wide workshops and seminars to be conducted between July 1 to September 30, 2021 by educational institutions and Primary Lending Institutions in association with States/UTs.

  • These workshops can be held offline through a classroom model, adhering to all COVID-19 best practices or via online medium. MoHUA will issue certificate of participation to all participants.

NCW Signs MoU with BPR&D: The National Commission for Women (NCW) recently signed an Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D).

The MoU was signed by both the organizations for gender sensitization of police personnel across the country.

About Gender Sensitization Training Programme for Police Personnel:

  • The Gender Sensitization Training Programme for Police Personnel has launched under this MoU.

  • The objective of the programme is to ensure gender sensitization of police personnel with respect to legislation and policies concerning women and bringing attitudinal and behavioural changes in police officers while dealing with crimes against women.

  • The programme will be fully sponsored by the Commission and facilitated by BPR&D with a special module in coordination with its units and other stakeholders.

  • The training will be conducted for duration of three-five days, preferably in residential mode as a short intense course with an expected training of 18-24 hours in total.

  • It will have special focus on gender issues, women related laws, role of implementing agencies along with sharing of best practices.

About NCW:

  • The National Commission for Women (NCW) is the statutory body of the Government of India (GoI), generally concerned with advising the government on all policy matters affecting women.

  • It’s tasked with protecting and promoting the interests of women under the aegis of Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India (GoI).

  • It was established on 31 January 1992 under the provisions of the Indian Constitution, as defined in the 1990 National Commission for Women Act.

  • The current Chairman of NCW is Rekha sharma.

About BPR&D:

  • The Bureau of Police Research & Development (BPR&D) was set up on 28 August 1970 to identify the needs and problems of the police in the country, undertake research projects and studies, and suggest modalities to overcome problems and challenges and meet the needs and requirements of the police.

  • Its Parent agency is Ministry of Home Affairs.

  • At present it has 4 divisions – Research, Development, Training and Correctional Administration.

  • It is headquartered in New Delhi.

  • Its current Director General is V.S.K.Kaumudi.

Special livestock package: The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved implementation of special livestock sector package consisting of several activities by revising and realigning various components of Government of India's schemes for next five years starting from 2021-22.

Key Points:

  • The CCEA approved the implementation in order to further boost growth in livestock sector and thereby making animal husbandry more remunerative to 10 crore farmers engaged in Animal Husbandry Sector.

  • This package envisages Central Government's support amounting to Rs.9800 crore over duration of 5 years for leveraging total investment of 54 thousand 618 crore rupees for five years.

Financial Implication:

The financial commitment of Rs.9800 crore by Government of India over next 5 years starting 2021-22 for these schemes would leverage total investment of Rs.54,618 crore in livestock sector including share of investments by State Governments, State Cooperatives, Financial institutions, External funding agencies and other stakeholder.

Key Details:

As per this, all the schemes of the Department will be merged into three broad categories as Development Programmes.

  1. It includes Rashtriya Gokul Mission, National Programme for Dairy Development (NPDD), National Livestock Mission (NLM) and Livestock Census and Integrated Sample Survey as sub-schemes.

  2. Disease Control programme renamed as Livestock Health and Disease Control (LH & DC) which includes the present Livestock Health and Disease Control (LH & DC) scheme and National Animal Disease Control Programme (NADCP) and Infrastructure Development Fund

  3. The Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development fund (AHIDF) and the Dairy Infrastructure Development Fund (DIDF) are merged and the present scheme for support to Dairy Cooperatives and Farmer Producer Organizations engaged in Dairy activities is also included in this third category.

Significance and Impact:

  • The Rashtriya Gokul Mission will help in development and conservation of indigenous breeds and would also contribute in improving the economic condition of the rural poor.

  • The National Programme for Dairy Development (NPDD) scheme is targeted towards installation of about 8900 bulk milk coolers, thus providing benefit to more than 8 lakh milk producers and 20 LLPD milk will be additionally procured.

  • Under NPDD, financial assistance from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) will be availed thus strengthening and creating fresh infrastructure in 4500 villages.

Draft Drone Rules, 2021: The Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) on July 15, 2021, issued the updated draft Drone Rules, 2021, for public consultation.

The last date for public consultation on the draft Drone Rules, 2021, is August 5, 2021.

Highlights:

The updated draft Drone Rules will replace the Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Rules, 2021, that were issued on March 12, 2021.

The Draft rules were built on premise of trust, self-certification and non-intrusive monitoring.

Key Details of the Draft Drone Rules 2021:

As per the updated draft Drone Rules, 2021 -

  • The new draft rules suggest the abolition of approvals for certain criteria, reduction of forms to six from 25 and relaxation in granting permission.

  • It proposes the development of drone corridors for cargo deliveries.

  • It will offer safety features such as geo-fencing, real-time tracking beacon. A six-month lead time will be given for compliance.

  • There will be minimal human interface on digital sky platform and most permission will be self-generated.

  • Safety features like ‘No Permission – No Take-off’ (NPNT), real-time tracking beacon, geo-fencing etc. are to be notified in future.

  • It will provide an interactive airspace map with yellow, green, and red zones that will be displayed on the Digital Sky platform.

The yellow zone has been reduced from 45 km to 12 km from the nearby airport perimeter. In the green zone, no flight permission will be required up to 400 ft and up to 200 ft in the area between 8 and 12 km from the airport perimeter.

  • Import of drones and drone components will be regulated by Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT).

  • All drone training and testing to be carried out by an authorized drone school.

  • Directorate General of Civil Aviation will prescribe training requirements, oversee drone schools and provide pilot licenses online.

  • Standard operating procedures (SOP) and training procedure manuals (TPM) will be prescribed by DGCA on the digital sky platform for self-monitoring by users.

  • No pilot license required for micro drones (for non-commercial use), nano drones and for R&D organizations.

  • Research and Development entities will not be required to generate certificates of airworthiness, remote pilot license, prior permission, and unique identification number.

  • The Quality Council of India and certification entities authorized by the Council will handle the Issuance of Certificate of Airworthiness.

  • The coverage of drones as per the draft Drone Rules, 2021, has been increased to 500 kg from 300 kg, including drone taxis.

  • Operating drones with no unique identification number will not be allowed unless it is exempted.

  • Drone operators are required generate a unique identification number of drones by providing requisite details on digital sky platform.

  • A Drone Promotion Council will be created to enable a business-friendly regulatory regime.

Significance:

  • The drone attack incident has put focus on security and safety risks associated with drone operations.

  • Therefore, the updated draft Drone Rules, 2021, will facilitate investments in drone technology in India.

  • Further, abolishment of restrictive practices and stringent licence regime for UAS by the government offers flexibility to players in the sectors.

Background:

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in June chaired a high-level meeting to discuss the drone attack which took place in Jammu & Kashmir.

  • The was attended with the Home Minister Amit Shah, Defense Minister Rajnath Singh, and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval were also present in the meeting.

What is Digital Sky platform?

Digital Sky platform is an initiative by the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA).

This initiative was started for the following purpose:

  • To provide a secure & a scalable platform to support drone technology frameworks like NPNT (No Permission, No Take-off),

  • To provide flight permission digitally

  • To manage unmanned aircraft operations and traffic in an efficient manner.

  • It was designed to enable flight permission digitally and managing unmanned aircraft operations & traffic efficiently.

What is a Drone?

Drone is a layman terminology for Unmanned Aircraft (UA).

The following are the three subsets of Unmanned Aircraft-

  1. Remotely Piloted Aircraft

  2. Autonomous Aircraft

  3. Model Aircraft.

Remotely Piloted Aircraft consists of remote pilot station(s), the required command and control links and any other components, as specified in the type design.

The remotely piloted aircraft have been divided into five categories. They are:

  1. Large: Greater than 150kg.

  2. Medium: From 25kg to 150kg.

  3. Small: From 2 kg to 25kg.

  4. Micro: From 250 grams to 2kg.

  5. Nano: Less than or equal to 250 grams.

SIATP: Union Education Minister and Tribal Affairs Minister jointly launched the ‘School Innovation Ambassador Training Program’ (SIATP) for 50,000 School Teachers on 16th July 2021.

The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) had announced that the Board in collaboration with Ministry of Education’s Innovation Cell (MIC) and All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) will impart training to 50 thousand teachers as Innovation Ambassadors.

About SIATP:

  • The innovative is one of its kind training program for School Teachers.

  • This program aims at training 50,000 school teachers on Innovation, Entrepreneurship, IPR, Design Thinking, Product development, Idea generation etc.

  • The program has been designed by Innovation Cell of the Ministry of Education and AICTE for School Teachers based on its “Innovation Ambassador Training Program for Higher Educational Institution’s faculty members”.

  • The training will be delivered in online mode only.

  • The first batch of this programme will start from 20th of July.

National AYUSH Mission: The Union Cabinet recently approved the continuation of National AYUSH Mission (NAM) as a Centrally-sponsored Scheme from 1st April 2021 to 31st March 2026.

Key Points:

  • Total financial implication will be of Rs. 4607.30 crore.

  • Out of it, Rs 3,000 crore will be Central Share and Rs. 1607.30 will be State Share.

  • The Mission was launched on 15-09-2014.

About:

Centrally Sponsored Scheme of NAM is being implemented by Ministry of AYUSH, Government of India.

It was launched with the following objectives:

  • To provide cost effective AYUSH Services

  • To provide a universal access through upgrading AYUSH Hospitals and Dispensaries

  • To co-location of AYUSH facilities at Primary Health Centers (PHCs), Community Health Centers (CHCs) and District Hospitals (DHs)

  • To strengthen institutional capacity at the State level through upgrading AYUSH educational institutions

  • To set up of new upto 50 bedded integrated AYUSH Hospital

  • To implement AYUSH Public Health programmes

  • To operationalize 12,500 AYUSH Health and Wellness Centres.

Significance of the mission:

  • This scheme is addresses the gaps in health services by supporting efforts of State or UT Governments to provide AYUSH health services or education across India. Under the scheme, special focus is given to specific needs of far-flung areas in order to allocate higher resources in their Annual Plans.

  • Benefits of the scheme:

  • It provides a better access to AYUSH healthcare services by increased healthcare facilities.

  • It facilitates better offering of AYUSH services and better availability of medicines and trained manpower

  • Improvement in AYUSH education through well-equipped enhanced number ofAYUSH Educational institutions,

  • It also focuses on reducing communicable and non-communicable diseases through targeted public health programmes using AYUSH systems of Healthcare.

Note: The National Health Policy 2017 has advocated mainstreaming the potential of AYUSH systems (Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, Sows-rigpa and Homoeopathy) within a pluralistic system of Integrative healthcare.

Section 66A of the Information Technology Act,2000: The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has recently asked the States and Union Territories (UTs) to immediately withdraw the cases registered under the repealed-Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000.

Key Details:

  • This came after the Supreme Court (SC) recently expressed shock that Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 was being invoked even six years after the apex court had struck it down.

  • The Supreme Court has taken a very serious view of the matter.

  • MHA has asked states and UTs to sensitize law enforcement agencies for compliance of order issued by Supreme Court on March 24, 2015.

  • The Government has also directed that if any case has been booked in States and UTs under section 66A of the IT Act, 2000, such cases should be immediately withdrawn.

What’s the issue?

  • The SC recently issued a notice to central government while hearing plea filed by PUCL (People’s Union for Civil Liberties) in which Plea mentioned that even after 7 years of law being struck down, 745 cases are pending and active before district courts in 11 states in which accused persons are being prosecuted for offences under Section 66A of IT Act.

  • The plea was filed after data collated by Internet Freedom Foundation, which was tracking cases under “Zombie provisions”.

  • As per data, even after of March 2015, around 1307 cases were registered under it.

  • Attorney General of India, KK Venugopal, informed in Supreme court that statute books still carry Section 66A of IT Act even though it was declared unconstitutional.

Background:

  • The Supreme Court had struck down section 66A on March 24, 2015 after noting it as “vague and arbitrary”.

  • It was dubbed as “draconian” because it allowed arrest of several innocent persons.

  • The SC in its judgment on 24.03.2015 in the matter of Shreya Singhal Vs. Union of India had declared it unconstitutional.

  • This made Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 null and void with effect from the date of the order, therefore 24.03.2015 and hence no action could be taken under this section.

What is section 66A of IT Act?

  • Section 66A of IT Act provided for punishment of a maximum of three years in jail and a fine to a person accused of sending “offensive” messages using computer or any other communication device like mobile phone or tablet.

  • This section was used to punish online communications which are considered “offensive & menacing and false to cause annoyance, inconvenience, insult, danger, injury, hatred, criminal intimidation or ill will.”

Uttarakhand Rivers Rejuvenation Project: The Executive Committee (EC) of the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) recently approved new projects for the rejuvenation of six polluted river stretches in Uttarakhand.

  • This project was approved at the 36th Executive Committee meeting of the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), chaired by Rajiv Ranjan Mishra, Director General, NMCG.

Key Points:

  • The project shall cover the 6 polluted river stretches in the Kumaon region.

  • These 6 Rivers are Bhela, Dhela, Kichha, Kosi, Nandhore, Pilakhar and Kashipur.

About the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG):

  • NMCG is the implementation wing of National Council for Rejuvenation, Protection and Management of River Ganga (referred as National Ganga Council).

  • It was registered as a society on 12th August 2011 under the Societies Registration Act 1860.

  • It acted as the implementation arm of National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) which was constituted under the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act (EPA),1986.

Note: On 7th October 2016, National Ganga Council has replaced National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) which was constituted under the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act (EPA), 1986.

Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Care and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2021: The Ministry of Women and Child Welfare invited suggestions and comments for its draft Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Care and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2021.

Key Points:

  • The recommendations for the Bill are to be submitted to the Ministry by July 14.

  • The Bill, once finalized, will be sent to the Cabinet for approvaland then for the assent of both the houses of Parliament to become an Act.

  • This Act shall apply to every offence of trafficking in persons with cross-border implications.

Objective:

  • The objective of the bill is to prevent and counter trafficking in persons, especially women and children.

  • It will provide for care, protection, and rehabilitation to the victims, while respecting their rights, and creating a supportive legal, economic and social environment for them and also to ensure prosecution of offenders, and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

About:

According to the draft bill-

Offenders:

  • The law, once enacted, will extend to all citizens inside as well as outside India and a foreign national or a stateless person who has his or her residence in India at the time of commission of offence under this Act.

  • The scope of the Bill vis a vis offenders will also include defence personnel and government servants, doctors and paramedical staff or anyone in a position of authority.

Victims:

  • Exploitation has been defined to include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation including pornography, any act of physical exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or forced removal of organs, illegal clinical drug trials or illegal bio-medical research.

  • The Bill also extends beyond the protection of women and children as victims to now include transgender as well as any person who may be a victim of trafficking.

  • It also does away with the provision that a victim necessarily needs to be transported from one place to another to be defined as a victim.

Penalty:

  • If a person is found guilty of trafficking then the person can be imprisoned for a term not less than seven years that may extend to 10 years.

  • The convict shall also be liable to a fine not less than Rs 1 lakh that may extend up to Rs 5 lakh.

  • Severe punishment has been proposed for offences classified as aggravated forms of trafficking especially in the case of the trafficking one or more than one child, the penalty is now life imprisonment.

  • In certain cases, even the death penalty can be sought.

  • Property bought via such income as well as used for trafficking can now be forfeited with provisions set in place, similar to that of the money laundering Act.

Background:

  • In 2018, a previous draft had been introduced and had been passed by Lok Sabha despite stiff opposition from both parliamentarians as well as experts.

  • However, it was later never introduced in Rajya Sabha.

  • But now, experts say that nearly all the concerns raised in 2018 have been addressed in this new draft Bill.

About Ministry of Women and Child Development:

  • The Ministry of Women and Child Development is a branch of the Government of India (GoI).

  • It is an apex body for formulation and administration of the rules and regulations and laws relating to women and child development in India, a branch of the Government of India, is an apex body for formulation and administration of the rules and regulations and laws relating to women and child development in India.

  • It was founded on 30 January 2006.

  • The current minister for the Ministry of Women and Child Development is Smriti Irani and the Minister of State is Sushri Debasree Chaudhuri.

NIPUN Bharat Initiative: The Union government launched a new scheme called “NIPUN Bharat Initiative” on July 5, 2021.

  • It was launched by the Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank to improve numeracy, foundational reading, and understanding for early-stage students.

  • Senior officers from the school education department from all states and UTs, senior officials of the department and heads of institutions also attended the event.

About NIPUN Bharat Mission:

  • The full form of NIPUN is National Initiative for Proficiency in Reading with Understanding and Numeracy.

  • The vision of the NIPUN Bharat Mission is to create an enabling environment to ensure the universal acquisition of foundational literacy and numeracy, so that every child achieves the desired learning competencies in reading, writing and numeracy by the end of Grade 3, by 2026-27.

  • It will help in improving the overall education and literacy standards in the country.

  • This initiative will be a part of school education programme, Samagra Shiksha.

Implementation:

  • NIPUN Bharat will be implemented by the Department of School Education and Literacy.

  • For its implementation, a five-tier implementation mechanism will be set up at the National- State- District- Block- School level in all States and UTs, under the aegis of the centrally sponsored scheme of Samagra Shiksha."

Reason for Launching NIPUN Bharat Initiative:

  • The foundational learning of Indian Schools has been a drawback.

  • As per Annual Status of Education Report (Aser) findings, for successive years bulk of Indian students pursuing elementary education in schools cannot even read, understand or do basic arithmetic. Thus, this initiative was launched to tackle this issue. This scheme is in line with New Education Policy (NEP) 2020.

  • The ASER Findings 2020 are as follows:

  • 25% of school-going children in four to eight age group do not have age-appropriate cognitive and numeracy skills. Thus, there is a huge learning deficit at very early stage.

  • 4% of children below age of six are able to recognize at least letters.

  • 6% can do additions.

  • 8% of children in Class II can read a text of classes below them.

  • 8% of students in Class III, can read texts meant for students two levels below them.

NEP 2020:

  • As per the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, students can choose subjects as per their choice rather than being confined by only those being offered by the institutes.

  • In this regard, UGC has already issued an order to all the Vice-Chancellor of all universities to include NCC as an elective subject.

  • The Delhi University formed the National Education Policy 2020 Implementation Committee (NEP Committee) this year for making recommendations for its implementation.

  • Also, the Karnataka State government was proactive on the NEP.

  • Karnataka is the first State to initiate policy implementation.

Joint Communication: The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) and Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA), on 6 July 2021 signed a Joint Communication to provide more powers to tribal communities in managing the forest resources.

Key Details:

  • The Joint Communication was signed in the presence of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister Prakash Javadekar and Tribal Affairs Minister Arjun Munda.

  • The Joint Communication is related to the effective implementation of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, which is commonly known as the Forest Rights Act (FRA).

  • The signing of Joint Communication is the extension of Forest Rights Act and it will help in maintaining the biodiversity and resources of the forest.

  • This communication will also empower the tribal communities and help in effective implementation of the Forest Rights Act.

About Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006:

  • The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, is a key piece of forest legislation passed in India on 18 December 2006.

  • It has also been called the Forest Rights Act, the Tribal Rights Act, the Tribal Bill, and the Tribal Land Act.

  • The act recognize and vest the forest rights and occupation in Forest land in forest Dwelling Scheduled Tribes (FDST) and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (OTFD) who have been residing in such forests for generations.

  • It provides a framework for recording the forest rights so vested and the nature of evidence required for such recognition and vesting in respect of forest land.

  • The Act empowers the forest dwellers to access and use the forest resources in the manner that they were traditionally accustomed, to protect, conserve and manage forests, protect forest dwellers from unlawful evictions and also provides for basic development facilities for the community of forest dwellers to access facilities of education, health, nutrition, infrastructure etc.

  • The act identifies four types of rights. They are:

  1. Title rights

  2. Use rights

  3. Relief and development rights

  4. Forest management rights

Matsya Setu: Union Minister for Fisheries & Animal Husbandry Giriraj Singh recently launched an Online Course Mobile App “Matsya Setu” for fish farmers.

Key Points:

  • The mobile app has been developed by the ICAR-Central Institute of Freshwater Aquaculture (ICAR-CIFA), Bhubaneswar.

  • ICAR-CIFA received the funding support from the National Fisheries Development Board (NFDB), Hyderabad.

  • The online course app mainly aims to educate the fish farmers in India about the latest freshwater aquaculture technologies.

About Matsya Setu App:

  • The Matsya Setu app will offer species-wise or subject-wise self-learning online course modules.

  • The capacity building of fish farmers is a very vital part of spearheading the Technology-led Aquaculture Development in the country, therefore, the self-learning modules will have renowned aquaculture experts explain the basic concepts and conduct practical demonstrations on breeding, seed production and grow-out culture of commercially important fishes such as catfish, carp, scampi, murrel, ornamental fish and pearl farming etc.

  • The online course also includes better management practices that should be followed to maintain soil and water quality and feeding and health management in aquaculture operations.

  • The modules have been divided into small video chapters for the convenience of the farmers.

  • It also has additional learning materials.

  • The app also offers quiz/test options for self-assessment to enhance the learning experience of the farmers.

  • The farmers will get an auto generated e-certificate upon the successful completion of each course module.

  • Farmers can not only clear their doubts but also get specific advisories from the experts through the app.

Significance:

  • The mobile app will help the fish farmers in learning about advanced technologies and Better Management Practices at their convenience.

  • This will in turn influence the adoption of scientific methods in fish farming, enhance productivity and improve income.

  • The app will also be an important tool to disseminate the latest information on different schemes among the fish farmers and assist them in doing business.

Aquaculture in India:

  • India is the second largest country in aquaculture the world.

  • Note: China is the largest aquaculture the world.

  • It ranks third in fisheries production.

  • It provides employment to around 14.5 million peole and contributes to 1.07 of India's total GDP.

About Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying:

  • Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying is a newly formed ministry in India.

  • It was formed in May 2019 by Modi government from the department of same name under Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare.

  • Recently, Senior BJP leader Parshottam Rupala took charge as the Union Minister of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying on 8 July 2021.

CET FOR Job Aspirants: Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh recently said that a Common Eligibility Test (CET) for job aspirants will be conducted across the country from early 2022.

Key Details:

  • The Common Entrance Test is a path-breaking reform carried out by Department of Personnel & Training to bring about “Ease of Recruitment” for young job aspirants.

  • This unique initiative is being undertaken with the personal intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to screen and shortlist candidates for recruitment to Central Government jobs.

  • The Minister further informed that the National Recruitment Agency (NRA) for conducting CET has been constituted.

About NRA:

  • The NRA has been constituted with the approval of the Union Cabinet for conducting CET to screen and shortlist candidates for Group-‘B’ and ‘C’ (non-technical) posts.

  • The NRA will be a multi-agency body which will function as a central agency of Indian Government.

  • It will conduct CET to screen and shortlist candidates for jobs in Government sector for which recruitment is presently carried out through the Staff Selection Commission (SSC), Railway Recruitment Boards (RRBs) and Institute of Banking Personnel Selection (IBPS).

  • The most significant feature of this reform is that every district in the country will have at least one Examination Centre.

Significance:

  • This historic reform will provide a level playing field to all the candidates, regardless of his or her background or socio-economic status.

  • There will also be a huge benefit to women and Divyang candidates and for those who find it financially unaffordable to appear for multiple tests by travelling to multiple Centres.

ONORC: The Supreme Court recently directed all states and Union Territories (UTs) to implement the One Nation, One Ration Card (ONORC) system by July 31st, 2021.

About ONORC:

  • One Nation, One Ration Card (ONORC) is a government scheme to make sure that no citizen sleeps hungry.
  • ONORC was launched in August, 2019.
  • However, the work on the portability of ration card had begun as early as April 2018.
  • It was rolled out under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013.

Objective:

The ONORC scheme is aimed at enabling migrant workers and their family members to buy subsidized ration from any fair price shop anywhere in the country under the National Food Security Act,2013.

  • For instance, a migrant worker from Bihar will be able to access PDS benefits in Mumbai, where he or she may have gone in search of work.
  • On the other hand, members of his or her family can still go to their ration dealer back home.

How many States have implemented ONORC?

  • Till date, 32 states and Union Territories have joined the ONORC, covering about 69 crore NFSA beneficiaries.
  • Four states are yet to join the scheme — Assam, Chhattisgarh, Delhi and West Bengal.

Incentives for implementation of ONORC to the States:

  • To promote ONORC reform in the Public Distribution System(PDS), the Government of India has provided incentives to states.
  • The Centre had even set the implementation of ONORC as a precondition for additional borrowing by states during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.

How does ONORC work?

  • ONORC is based on technology that involves details of beneficiaries’ ration card, Aadhaar number, and electronic Points of Sale (ePoS).
  • The system identifies a beneficiary through biometric authentication on ePos devices at fair price shops.
  • The system runs with the support of two portals.
  • They are Integrated Management of Public Distribution System (IM-PDS) and Annavitran, which host all the relevant data.
  • When a ration card holder goes to a fair price shop, he or she identifies himself or herself through biometric authentication on ePoS, which is matched real-time with details on the Annavitaran portal.
  • Once the ration card details are verified, the dealer hands out the beneficiary’s entitlements.
  • While the Annavitaran portal maintains a record of intra-state transactions - inter-district and intra-district — the IM-PDS portal records the inter-state transactions.

About the National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA 2013):

  • The National Food Security Act 2013 (also 'Right to Food Act') is an Indian Act of Parliament which aims to provide subsidized food grains to approximately two thirds of the country's 1.2 billion people.
  • It was signed into law on 12 September 2013, retroactive to 5 July 2013.
  • The NFSA 2013 converts into legal entitlements for existing food security programmes of the Government of India.
  • It includes the Midday Meal Scheme, Integrated Child Development Services scheme and the Public Distribution System.
  • In addition, it also recognizes maternity entitlements.

UDISE 2019-20: The Unified District Information System for Education Plus report (UDISE+) for 2019-2020 was recently released by Union minister of education, Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank.

UDISE+ report highlighted some interesting facts, both positive and negative about Indian school education system.

Key Points of the report:

  • As per the report, Gross Enrolment Ratio at all levels of school education has improved in 2019-20 compared to 2018-19.
  • Enrolment of girls from primary to higher secondary has increased substantially by over 14 lakh in 2019-20 as compared to 2018-19.
  • Between 2012-13 and 2019-20, the Gender Parity Index at both Secondary and Higher Secondary levels have improved. Enrolment of Divyang students has increased by over 6.5 per cent over 2018-19.
  • The report also shows a remarkable improvement in the number of schools with functional electricity, with functional computers, internet facility in 2019-20 over the previous year.
  • Pupil-Teacher Ratio too has improved at all levels of school education.

Note: Pupil-Teacher Ratio is defined as “the average number of pupils per teacher, teaching at specific level of education in a given school year.

  • In addition, major improvement has been seen in the number of schools with hand wash facility. In year 2019-20, more than 90 per cent schools in India had hand wash facility as compared to around 36 per cent in 2012-13.

What is UDISE+ report?

  • UDISE+, launched in 2018-2019, is the largest Management Information Systems on school education.
  • It covers 1.5 million schools, 8.5 million teachers and 250 million children.
  • It was launched for speeding up data entry, reducing errors, improving data quality and easing its verification.
  • It is an advanced and improved version of UDISE which was launched in 2012-2013 by integrating DISE for elementary education & SEMIS for secondary education.

Superannuation age of LIC Chairman: The Union Government has recently extended superannuation age of IPO-bound LIC Chairman to up to 62 years.

Key Details:

  • The superannuation age was extended by amending Life Insurance Corporation of India (Staff) Regulations, 1960.
  • The changes made in rules are to be called as “Life Insurance Corporation of India (Staff) Amendment Rules, 2021.
  • The retirement age for top executives of majority of PSUs is 60 years except in State Bank of India (SBI).
  • As per notification, if Central Government appoints Chairman for a term of office extending beyond 60 years of age, or extends the term of office to a period beyond 60 years, he shall not superannuate till such terms are completed or till he attains age of 62 years, whichever is earlier.

Background

  • Central government had approved a nine-month extension to LIC Chairman M R Kumar from June 30, 2021 to March 13, 2022, recently in the backdrop of insurer’s proposed initial public offer towards end of fiscal year 2021-2022.
  • In her Budget speech this year, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said that the Initial Public Offer (IPO) of LIC would be floated in 2021-22 as part of the ambitious Rs 1.75 lakh crore disinvestment target.
  • The government has already amended the Life Insurance Corporation Act, 1956 along with the Finance Act 2021 to facilitate the public offer.
  • Under the amendment, government significantly increased authorised capital of LIC to Rs 25,000 crore from Rs 100 crore which will facilitate listing.
  • Life Insurance Corporation Act, 1956 mandates, authorized share capital of LIC will be Rs 25,000 crore divided into 2,500 crore shares of Rs 10 each.

About LIC of India:

  • Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) of India is an Indian government owned insurance and Investment Corporation.
  • It is under the ownership of Ministry of Finance, Government of India (GoI).
  • The Parliament of India passed the Life Insurance of India Act on 19 June 1956 creating the Life Insurance Corporation of India, which started operating in September of that year.
  • LIC of India was established on 1 September 1956.
  • Over 245 insurance companies and provident societies were merged to create the state-owned Life Insurance Corporation of India.
  • The nationalization of the life insurance business in India was a result of the Industrial Policy Resolution of 1956, which had created a policy framework for extending state control over at least 17 sectors of the economy, including life insurance.
  • It is headquartered in Mumbai, Maharashtra.

Crop Insurance Awareness Campaign: Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister, Narendra Singh Tomar, recently launched the Crop Insurance Awareness Campaign for Fasal Bima Yojana.

Key Details:

  • It was launched during Crop Insurance Week.
  • The campaign is a part of Government’s India@75 campaign ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’, commemorating 75 years of India’s Independence.
  • Speaking on the occasion, Mr Tomar said that the Fasal Bima Yojana aims to provide security cover to each farmer.
  • He announced that the scheme had achieved milestone figure of 95 thousand crore of claims paid to farmers.
  • The Agriculture Minister also flagged off IEC vans which will continue to engage the farmers on the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana throughout the crop insurance week.
  • Furthermore, he also launched PMBFY e-brochure, FAQ booklet and a guidebook to assist farmers and on ground coordinators to understand the scheme, its benefits and the process of crop insurance.

Aim:

  • This campaign aims to bring stories of beneficiary farmers through videos and photo stories on social media.
  • Stories of those farmers would be shared who have not only benefited from this scheme but helped entire farming community through their thought-leadership.

About Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY):

  • The PMFBY is a Crop Indurance Scheme that has successfully completes 5 Years of operations on 13th January 2021.
  • The PMFBY was launched in 2016 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
  • It is an insurance service scheme for farmers for their yields.
  • It aims to reduce the premium burden on farmers and ensure early settlement of crop assurance claim for the full insured sum.
  • It was formulated in line with One Nation–One Scheme theme by replacing earlier two schemes Modified National Agricultural Insurance Scheme (MNAIS) and National Agricultural Insurance Scheme (NAIS).
  • The scheme is being administered by Ministry of Agriculture and is implemented by empanelled general insurance companies.
  • The scheme is compulsory for loanee farmers availing Crop Loan /KCC account for notified crops and voluntary for other others.
  • The Scheme covers all Food & Oilseeds crops and Annual Commercial/Horticultural Crops for which past yield data is available and for which requisite number of Crop Cutting Experiments (CCEs) are being conducted under General Crop Estimation Survey (GCES).