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Indian Policy Current affairs 2019

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.




Current Affairs Quiz

Current Affairs in Indian Policy - September 2020

Project Gaushala : Cows are considered as very holy in India. She is Gau Mata' and is a sign of faith and pride. So for the conservation of cows the 'Project Gaushala' is started by the Government where it offers cows for adoption online. Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh has become the latest state to allow people to adopt cows. Kamal Nath government in MP has proposed various options for people wanting to adopt cows. This includes adopting a cow for a minimum of 15 days to the animal’s lifetime. Those willing to adopt a cow for a lifetime will have to pay Rs 3 lakh, for a year will have to pay Rs 21,000, for a month will have to pay Rs 2,100 and those willing to adopt for 15 days will have to pay Rs 1,100. They will be able to choose the one nearest to their home and can check on progress. Even NRI's can adopt a cow. This step was taken by the Government as there are nearly 7 lakh abandoned cattle in MP alone where 13 lakh are left on streets by rearers during the day and it is the same case in other states also, therefore Gaushalas manages to house atleast 75% of stray cattle. In June the government had also stated that any person or organisations wanting to open gaushalas will be given the right to use government land.

13 September 2019 Current Affairs:Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Pradhan Mantri Laghu Vyaparik Mandhan Yojana and Swarojgar pension schemes in Jharkhand during his visit. During his visit, he also laid the foundation for the new building of Jharkhand Secretariat. To avail this scheme the beneficiaries must be between 18 and 40 years. All shopkeepers, self-employed persons, and retail traders whose GST turnover is below Rs.1.5 crore will be eligible. The eligible beneficiary will get Rs.3,000 per month after completing 60 years of age. In the Union Budget 2019-20, the Central Government has allocated Rs.750 crore for the scheme. Centre also has chosen Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) of India as a pension fund manager. LIC will be responsible for managing the pension fund, Central record keeping agency and responsible for pension payout.

Mukhya Mantri Dal Poshit Yojana:With an objective to provide low-priced pulses, the Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat launched a scheme ‘Mukhyamantri Dal Poshit Yojana’ at his residence on Thursday. Under the scheme, two kilogrammes of pulses per month would be made available to 23.32 lakh ration card holders. On the day, the CM distributed packets of pulses to selected beneficiaries. Under the scheme State government will offer a subsidy of Rs.15 per kilogram on variety of pulses identified, including chana, malka and masur which will fulfil the protein requirement of the people. Each eligible beneficiary and ration card holders in state will get 2 kgs of pulses at subsidised rates every month. 23.32 lakh ration card holders will benifit from this scheme. The scheme will help achieving Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision of a healthy India.

MoC: It refers to the Ministry of coal. MoC is an Indian government ministry headquartered in New Delhi. The Ministry is charged with exploration of coal and lignite reserves in India, production, supply, distribution and price of coal through the government-owned corporations Coal India Limited and its subsidiaries, as well as Neyveli Lignite Corporation. The MoC is currently headed by Cabinet Minister Pralhad Joshi.

 Recently, Union Minister of Coal and Mines Pralhad joshi  addressed a webinar on Coal Gasification and Liquefaction. The webinar was organised by Ministry of Coal (MoC) in New Delhi for discussing the road map for achieving the target. Around 700 delegates from Government of India, CIL and the coal sector attended the webinar.

The key highlights of this webinar are:

1. India aims for 100 million tonnes (MT) coal gasification by 2030 with investments worth over Rs. 4 lakh crores, said Pralhad Joshi, Union Minister of Coal and Mines.

2. For encouraging use of clean sources of fuel, government has provided for a concession of 20% on revenue share of coal used for gasification. This will boost production of synthetic natural gas, energy fuel, urea for fertilisers and production of other chemicals.

A Steering Committee, for development of Surface Coal Gasification in India, has been constituted under the chairmanship of Dr. V.K. Saraswat, Member, NITI Aayog comprising of members from the Ministry of Coal.

CIL has also planned to set up at least 3 gasification plants (besides Dankuni) on BOO basis through global tendering and has signed an MOU with GAIL for marketing synthetic natural gas.

Coal Gasification: Coal Gasification is a process of producing syngas, a mixture consisting primarily of carbon monoxide (CO), hydrogen (H2), carbon dioxide (CO2), natural gas (CH4), and water vapour (H2O). Syngas is also called water gas and is used in the synthesis of methanol and a number of hydrocarbons.

The benefits of coal Gasification as opposed to combustion, is that it is the most thermally efficient and cleanest way to convert the energy content of coal into electricity, hydrogen, clean fuels, and value-added chemicals

Coal liquefaction: It is a process of converting coal into liquid hydrocarbons: liquid fuels and petrochemicals. 

Mission Karmayogi: It is the name of a skill-building programme for country’s civil servants. The initiative is established under the New National Architecture for Civil Services Capacity Building (NPCSCB). It is meant to be a comprehensive post-recruitment reform of the Centre’s human resource development which is similar to pre-recruitment changes in the form of the National Recruitment Agency.

Mission Karamyogi initiative was recently approved by the Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. The decision was announced during the media briefing on cabinet decisions by Union Minister Prakash Javadekar.

This mission aims at capacity building to lay the foundation for civil servants so that they remain entrenched in Indian culture while learning from best practices across the world. It has been launched to prepare the Indian Civil Servant for the future by making him more creative, constructive, imaginative, innovative, proactive, professional, progressive, energetic, enabling, transparent and technology-enabled thereby empowering the Civil Servants with specific role-competencies, and ensuring efficient service delivery of the highest quality standards.

The mission is being set up to build future ready civil servants, who will have the right attitude, skills and knowledge that will be in line with the vision of New India.

A wholly owned Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) not-for-profit company for NPCSCB will be set up under Section 8 of the Companies Act, 2013. Under the program, an integrated government online training platform, iGOTKarmayogi, will be set up for the mission. The SPV will create and operationalize the content, market place and manage key business services of the iGOT-Karmayogi platform.

The apex bodies under the mission will be governed by the Prime Minister’s Human Resource Council, which will also include state Chief Ministers, Union Cabinet ministers, and experts, who will convene under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister himself. This was shared by C Chandramouli, Secretary, Department of Personnel & Training.

A sum of Rs.510.86 crore will be spent over a period of 5 years from 2020-21 to 2024-25 to cover around 46 lakh Central employees. The expenditure is partly funded by multilateral assistance to the tune of USD 50 million.

NITR: It refers to the National Institute of Tribal Research. An agreement was recently signed between Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA) and Indian Institute of Public Administration (IIPA), New Delhi for setting up of National Institute of Tribal Research (NITR) at the IIPA campus, New Delhi. The agreement was signed in the presence of Union Minister for Tribal Affairs Shri Arjun Munda.

The proposed NITR will be functional in a few months and will be engaged in quality tribal research in collaboration with reputed government organizations and NGOs spread over the country.

Addressing at the valedictory session of Two Days National Tribal Research Conclave being held virtually through webinar, Shri Arjun Munda said that tribal Research Institutes (TRIs) have a very important role to play and their research should focus on drawing road map for future development so the new NITR should also have an educational wing to educate students on tribal development and tribal art & culture.

Current Affairs in Indian Policy - August 2020

Digital Education June 2020: Union Minister for HRD Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ recently launched “India Report on Digital Education, 2020”. The minister, during the virtual launch, stated that report highlights the innovative methods adopted by Ministry of HRD, Education Departments of States and Union Territories to ensure accessible as well as inclusive education to children at home and reducing learning gaps.

India Report on Digital Education, 2020 comprises of various initiatives taken to provide remote learning and education for all by taking schools to the students. Some of the initiatives are as follows:  Swayam Prabha TV Channel, DIKSHA platform, Online MOOC courses, On Air – Shiksha Vani, DAISY by NIOS for differently-abled, e-PathShala, etc.

FDI: It refers to the Foreign Direct Investment. FDI is an investment from a party in one country into a business or corporation in another country with the intention of establishing a lasting interest. Lasting interest differentiates FDI from foreign portfolio investments, where investors passively hold securities from a foreign country. Foreign direct investment can be made by expanding one’s business into a foreign country or by becoming the owner of a company in another country. It is an important non-debt monetary source for India’s economic development. Economic liberalization started in India in the wake of the 1991 crisis and since then, FDI has steadily increased in the country. There are 2 types of FDI route. the first one is the Automatic route, under which The non-resident or Indian company does not require the prior nod of the RBI or government of India for FDI and the Government Route, under which the government’s approval is mandatory.

Recently, the Government of India (GoI) notified changes in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) norms on civil aviation, which is also called as the Foreign Exchange Management (Non-debt Instruments) (Third Amendment) Rules, 2020. The main aim of the government is to augment the Make in India initiative which is turn will attract global companies in India looking to establish alternative manufacturing hubs

As per the amendments:

It will permit non-resident Indian nationals to own 100 % stake of Air India.

The exceptions which permitted Overseas Citizens of India 100% FDI in air transport, but not Air India is removed.

This category of citizens has been replaced with NRIs, now allowed to commit 100% FDI in air transport, including Air India, through automatic route.

Substantial ownership and effective control of Air India Limited shall continue o be vested in Indian National as stipulated in Aircraft Rules.

Last month, the government for the third time extended the deadline to bid for Air India. The deadline was extended by two months till August 31st. The divestment process for the national carrier was initiated on January 27th.

Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers: The Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers in India is the federal ministry with administrative purview over three departments. The three departments are Department of Chemicals and Petrochemicals, Department of Fertilizers and Department of Pharmaceuticals. The Department of Chemicals and Petrochemicals was under the Ministry of Industry until December 1989, when it was brought under the Ministry of Petroleum and Chemicals. On June 5, 1991, the Department of Chemicals and Petrochemicals was transferred to the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers. The current Union Minister and Minister of State of Chemicals and fertilizers are D. V. Sadananda Gowda and Mansukh Mandaviya respectively.

Recently, the Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers Shri DV Sadananda Gowda launched 4 schemes for the promotion of domestic manufacturing of bulk drugs and medical devices parks in the country. Four schemes were formulated by the Department of Pharmaceuticals, two each for Bulk Drugs and Medical Devices parks. These schemes will work towards the development of Indian pharmaceutical capacities and reduce India’s dependence on imports, making it self reliant.

As per these 4 schemes, the scheme will remain open for applications for a period of 120 days from the date of issuance of guidelines and the approval will be received by the applicants within 90 days from the closure of application window. The applications will be received only through an online portal and the total financial outlay of the scheme is Rs 6,940 crore. The main aim of the Scheme for promotion of Bulk Drug Parks is to establish three bulk drug parks in the country. Maximum grant-in-aid for one bulk drug park is limited to Rs.1000 crore.

Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme for promoting domestic manufacturing of Medical Devices aims to boost domestic manufacturing of medical devices in four target segments. This will be achieved by offering financial incentives on sales to a maximum number of 28 selected applicants for a period of 5 years.

PLI schemes aims to boost domestic manufacturing of 53 bulk drugs, on which India is critically dependent on imports.

KVIC: It refers to the Khadi and Village Industries Commission. The KVIC is a statutory body formed in April 1957 by the Government of India, under the Act of Parliament, 'Khadi and Village Industries Commission Act of 1956'. It is an apex organization under the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), with regard to khadi and village industries within India, which seeks to - "plan, promote, facilitate, organize and assist in the establishment and development of khadi and village industries in the rural areas in coordination with other agencies engaged in rural development wherever necessary." It took over the work of former All India Khadi and Village Industries Board on April 1957. It is headquartered in Mumbai. The current Chairman of KVIC is Vinai Saxena.

Recently, the Union Minister for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME), Shri Nitin Gadkari launched the Khadi’s Gift Box of Silk Mask that has  been developed by Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC).

The gift box comprises of 4 handcrafted silk masks in different colors and prints. These triple-layered silk masks are skin-friendly, washable, reusable as well as bio-degradable. A large Indian population looking for reasonably priced gift items. This apt product comes at a reasonable price and it seeks to celebrate the spirit of festivals while also ensuring safety as well. The Khadi’s Gift Box that has been launched will not only tap the foreign market but will also provide the artisans with sustainable livelihood during the most difficult time of COVID-19 crisis. 

MoMSME: It is an acronym for Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises. MoMSME a branch of the Government of India (GoI), is the apex executive body for the formulation and administration of rules, regulations and laws relating to micro, small and medium enterprises in India. It was founded in 2007. The current Ministers in charge of MoMSME are Giriraj Singh (MOS independent charge) and Nitin Gadkari (Union Minister).

Recently, the Union Minister for MSME, Shri Nitin Gadkari approved of a unique employment generation program named “Khadi Agarbatti Aatmanirbhar Mission” (KAAM). The programme was proposed by the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) to make India Aatmanirbhar in Agarbatti production. The pilot project is to be launched soon and on full-fledged implementation of the project, thousands of jobs will be created in the Agarbatti industry.

Under this scheme, KVIC will offer automatic Agarbatti making machines and powder mixing machines to the artisans via the successful private Agarbatti manufacturers. KVIC would procure only locally made machines by Indian manufacturers which also seek to encourage local production. It will be launched in PPP mode and will require very less investment which will create sustainable employment and help private Agarbatti manufacturers to scale up Agarbatti production without any capital investment by them.

The main aim of KAAM scheme is to generate employment for unemployed and migrant workers in different parts of the nation while increasing the domestic Agarbatti production substantially.  KVIC will offer 25% subsidy on the cost of the machines and will recover the remaining 75% of the cost from the artisans in the form of easy monthly installments.

Sahakar Cooptube NCDC Channel: It is the new initiative of National Cooperative Development Corporation's YouTube channel named 'Sahakar Cooptube NCDC India.' The channel was launched by the Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar to encourage farmers and the youth to take benefit of cooperatives. Videos on formation and registration of cooperatives for 18 states in Hindi and regional languages were also released by him. The videos are to be aired on the new channel.

The guidance videos in different languages covering 18 states have been released to strengthen and deepen the major measures taken by Government of India to promote and form 10,000 Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs). In due course time, more stated are to be added to the collection of guidance videos on Sahakar Cooptube NCDC India channel on YouTube.

NCDC: It refers to the National Cooperative Development Corporation. NCDC is a statutory Corporation set up under an Act of Indian Parliament on 13 March 1963. The main objectives of NCDC are planning and promoting programmes for production, processing, marketing, storage, export and import of agricultural produce, foodstuffs, industrial goods, livestock and certain other notified commodities and services on cooperative principles and for matters concerned therewith or incidental thereto. The Minister currently responsible for NCDC is the Minister of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare Narendra Singh Tomar.

NCDC has achieved tremendous success with a cumulative financial assistance to cooperatives to the tune of Rs 1,54,000 crore.

Minister of Commerce and Industry: The Minister of Commerce and Industry is the head of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and one of the cabinet ministers of the Government of India. The first Minister of Commerce and Industry of independent India was Syama Prasad Mukherjee. The current Union Minister is Piyush Goyal of the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Recently, the Union Minister of Commerce and Industry, Piyush Goyal inaugurated the National Digital Conference on “Easing Doing Business for Atmanirbhar Bharat”. This conference was organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) with the Department for Promotion of Investment and Internal Trade (DPIIT) to improve the business environment of India.

The one-day virtual conference provided a forum to enhance the regulatory reform of the government in various indicators of doing business. The Conference deliberated on a range of issues like:

1. Major regulatory reforms undertaken by the government across various indicators of doing business.

2. Assess their on-ground implementation.

3. Disseminate best practices from various states.

4. Crucial policy issues requiring redressal.

5. Identify a sustainable action plan for improving the business environment across sectors and states.

SEP 2.0: It refers to the Student Entrepreneurship Programme. SEP 2.0 was recently launched by Niti Aayog’s Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) in collaboration with Dell Technologies for young innovators of Atal Tinkering Labs (ATLs). The main aim of this program is to accelerate the entrepreneurial journey of young innovators who can play a major role in creating a new innovative India.

SEP 2.0 will allow student innovators to work closely with Dell volunteers. The young innovators will get mentor support, prototyping and testing support, end-user feedback, intellectual property registration, manufacturing support along with patenting of ideas, processes, and products as well as the launch support of the product in the market.

SEP 1.0: The journey of SEP 1.0 began in January 2019. SEP 1.0 was a 10-month-long rigorous programme under which top 6 teams of ATL Marathon 2017 got a chance to transform their innovative prototypes into fully functioning products, which are now available in the market.

ATL Marathon 2017 is a nationwide contest where students identify community challenges and create grassroots innovations and solutions within their ATLs.

CoA: It refers to the Council of Architecture. CoA is a statutory body constituted by the Government of India (GoI) under the provisions of the Architects Act, 1972 which is tasked with the responsibility to regulate the education and practice of profession throughout India besides maintaining the register of architects. 

The Act provides for registration of Architects, standards of education, recognized qualifications and standards of practice to be complied with by the practicing architects.

Recently, Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank virtually launched the "Minimum Standards of Architectural Education Regulations, 2020." The regulation will replace Architecture Regulations, 1983. It aims to address the major challenges lying in the field of human habitat in the country. It will come into force from 1st November 2020. These Regulations have been prepared by the experts of the Council of Architecture (CoA).

NDHM: It refers to the National Digital Health Mission. NDHM is a major digital initiative of the Government of India (GoI). It is another flagship initiative of the government like Ayushman Bharat. Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently, in his Independence Day speech announced the launch of National Digital Health Mission. The Project seeks to revolutionize India’s health sector.

Under the project, a health ID to every person in the country that would contain all pertinent information about their medical conditions. This card could be used to access health services and medicines. The NDHM will not only allow patients to access health services remotely through teleconsultation and e-pharmacies but also offer other health-related benefits.

The card will ensure permission to access confidential medical data which will be provided for every visit by the patient himself. It will assure the privacy and maintenance and confidentiality of the patient as the access to medical data will have to be given separately for each visit and that doctors could only access it at the will of the patients.

The blueprint of the programme was launched in 2019. It seeks to provide efficient and affordable health coverage through a wide-range of data and infrastructure services. It seeks to leverage open digital systems to provide high-quality healthcare for all. It aims to integrate various digital health services to create an ecosystem which can assimilate existing health information systems and also ensure security and privacy of personal information.

Current Affairs in Indian Policy - July 2020

MoFPI: It is an acronym for the Ministry of Food Processing Industries. MOFPI is a ministry of the Government of India (GoI) responsible for formulation and administration of the rules and regulations and laws relating to food processing in India. The ministry was founded in 1947 with a view to develop a strong and vibrant food processing industry, to create increased employment in rural sector and enable farmers to reap the benefits of modern technology and to create a surplus for exports and stimulating demand for processed food. The current Minister of MOFPI  Harsimrat Kaur Badal, a Cabinet Minister.

Recently, the Minister of Food Processing Industries, Harsimrat Kaur Badal on June 29 launched the PM Formalization of Micro Food Processing Enterprises (PM FME). The PM FME scheme was launched as a part of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’. The scheme will be implemented over a period of five years from 2020-21 to 2024-25 with an outlay of Rs 10,000 crore.

The scheme aims to provide financial, technical, and business support for the upgradation of existing micro food processing enterprises.

The MoFPI Minister said that this centrally sponsored scheme will generate an investment of Rs. 35,000 crore. It will also provide employment to nine lakh skilled and semi-skilled workers through access to training, formalization, information and better exposure.

Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying: The 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. The current Union Minister of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying is Giriraj Singh and the Minister of State for the same is Pratap Chandra Sarangi and Sanjeev Kumar Balyan.

Recently, the Union Minister for Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, Giriraj Singh launched the Fisheries and Aquaculture Newsletter. The newsletter is known as Matsya Sampada. Matsya Sampada was published by the Department of Fisheries, The operational guidelines of the Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY) has also been published in this first edition. From the first quarter of 2020-21, this newsletter will be published on a quarterly basis.

The main aim of Matsya Sampada is to reach out to the fishers and fish farmers of the country and to educate the fishers and fish farmers on the latest advancement in and best practices in fisheries and aquaculture. This newsletter will also serve as a communication platform in providing the latest information and developments related to the fisheries and aquaculture sector to all the stakeholders involved in the sector.

PMMSY: It refers to the Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana. The PMMSY scheme was launched by the Government of India (GoI) in May 2020 with Rs.20050 crore as investment. This scheme focuses on the sustainable and responsible development in the sector of Fisheries and aquaculture which seeks to further help in creating an AtmaNirbhar Bharat. It is the largest investment in the fisheries sector with more than 100 activities and it is to be implemented during a period of 5 years from FY 2020-21 to FY 2024-25.

Drug Discovery Hackathon 2020: Drug Discovery Hackathon which is first of its kind national initiative for supporting drug discovery process was recently launched.

This online competition in which anyone and from any part of the country or world can participate was jointly launched by the Union Minister for Human Resource Development Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ and Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare and Ministry of Science and Technology Dr. Harsh Vardhan.

The Ministers called upon students, academicians, researchers and professionals to participate in the Hackathon and work towards developing drugs to tackle Covid-19.

The main objective of this Hackathon is to identify drug candidates against SARS-CoV-2 by in-silico drug discovery through the hackathon and follow up by chemical synthesis and biological testing.

The hackathon is a joint initiative of MHRD, AICTE and CSIR, and supported by partners such as CDAC, MyGov, Schrodinger and ChemAxon. Any student in India can participate through MyGov portal.

Elyments App: It is India’s first social media super application ‘Elyments’. This Indian Social Media Super App was virtually launched recently by the Vice President of India, M. Venkiah Naidu. The app has been launched on the Guru Purnima. Elyments app is developed by Bengaluru-based software company, Sumeru Software Solutions Pvt Ltd, in close competition with similar platforms like Facebook, Whatsapp and Instagram.

This homegrown application was created by more than 1,000 IT professionals under the guidance of Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. It is created by giving priority to user’s privacy as its most Important feature is that user’s data will not be shared with the third party without the user’s explicit consent & the data will be stored in India. Through the app, the users can stay in touch through free video/audio calls, vibrant feed, and private/group chats. It is available in 8 languages including Tamil, Kannada, Telugu and English. It combines the features of most social media apps, regional voice commands and curated commerce platforms to promote Indian brands.

As India has more than 500 million social media users, but most of these social media platforms are owned by companies outside India, which creates doubt regarding the privacy of data and and data ownership, Elyments app is a step towards ‘Atma Nirbhar Bharat’. It is created with an aim to encourage youth to come up with Indian alternatives for most of the widely used foreign apps.

CSS-AIF: It refers to the Central Sector Scheme-Agriculture Infrastructure Fund. The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi recently gave its approval to a new pan CSS-AIF (Central Sector Scheme-Agriculture Infrastructure Fund).

The scheme aims to provide a long term debt financing facility for investment in viable projects for post-harvest management Infrastructure and community farming assets through interest subvention and financial support.

Under this scheme, an amount of Rs One Lakh Crore will be provided by banks and financial institutions as loans. The beneficiaries include Primary Agricultural Credit Societies (PACS), Marketing Cooperative Societies, FPOs, SHGs, Farmers, Joint Liability Groups (JLG), Multipurpose Cooperative Societies, Startups etc.

All loans under this financing facility will have interest subvention of 3% per annum up to a limit of Rs. 2 crore. This subvention will be available for a maximum period of 7 years.

Agri Infra fund will be managed and monitored through an online Management Information System (MIS) platform.

The National, State and District level Monitoring Committees will be set up to ensure real-time monitoring and effective feed-back.

The duration of the Scheme shall be from FY2020 to FY2029 (10 years).

The Project by way of facilitating formal credit to farm and farm processing-based activities aims to create numerous job opportunities in rural areas. It will also enable all the qualified entities to apply for a loan under the fund.

EPF: It refers to the Employees Provident Fund. The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently gave its approval for extending the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) contribution to 24% (12% employees share and 12% employers share) for another three months from June to August 2020 under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY) and Aatmanirbhar Bharat.

The scheme, for the wage months of June, July and August, 2020, will cover all the establishments having upto 100 employees and 90% of such employees earning less than Rs. 15,000 monthly wage. About 72.22 lakh workers working in 3.67 lakh establishments are expected to be benefited and would likely to continue on their payrolls despite disruptions.

Government will provide Budgetary Support of Rs.4800 crore for the year 2020-21 for this purpose. The beneficiaries entitled for 12% employers' contribution for the months of June to August, 2020 under Pradhan Mantri Rozgar Protsahan Yojana (PMRPY) will be excluded to prevent overlapping benefit.

ARHCs: It refers to the Affordable Rental Housing Complexes. The Union Cabinet under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently gave its approval for developing of AHRCs. These AAHRCs will be developed as a sub-scheme under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Urban (PMAY-U) for the Urban Migrants.

Earlier, this ARHCs scheme as a sub-scheme under PMAY-U was announced by the Union Finance Minister on 14th May 2020 as a part of the AtmaNirbhar Bharat Package.

Under the scheme, existing vacant government-funded housing complexes will be converted in ARHCs through Concession Agreements for 25 years.

States and UTs will select concessionaire through transparent bidding. The concessionaire will make the complexes livable by repair/retrofit and maintenance of rooms and filling up infrastructure gaps like water, sewer/ septage, sanitation, road etc. Complexes will revert to ULB after 25 years to restart next cycle like earlier or run on their own.

Private and Public entities will be offered special incentives, at priority sector lending rate concessional loans from banks and tax relief for developing ARHCs in urban centers on their available vacant lands for a period of 25 years.

The ARHCs will benefit a large number of workers as a large part of workforce in manufacturing industries, service providers in hospitality, health and construction or other sectors, labourers, students etc. come from rural areas or small towns seeking better opportunities. Usually, these migrants live in slums, informal or unauthorized colonies or peri-urban areas to save rental charges. They spend a lot of time on roads by walking or cycling to workplaces, risking their lives to cut on the expenses.

So, ARHCs will not only be made in urban centers of the country but these migrant workers will also be able to avail houses at an affordable rent. These ARHCs will be close to their workplace cutting down their unnecessary travel to far distances and will also offer them a hygienic environment to live.

Investment under ARHCs is also expected to create new job opportunities.

Ujjwala Scheme: Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently approved an extension of the time limit for availing the benefits of "Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana" for Ujjwala beneficiaries by 3 months. This was done in view to provide a safety net to the poor and vulnerable who had been hit the hardest by the pandemic.

Earlier, the Government had announced a relief package " Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana" (PMGKY) which also included relief for poor families who had availed of an LPG connection under Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY).

Under the PMGKY-Ujjwala, it was decided to provide free of cost refills for PMUY consumers for a period of 3 months w.e.f. 01.04.2020. Rs. 9709.86 Cr was transferred directly into the bank accounts of Ujjwala beneficiaries during April- June 2020 and 11.97 Crore cylinders were delivered to the PMUY beneficiaries. PMGKY aimed to provide a safety net to the poor and vulnerable who had been hit the hardest by the pandemic.

Now, the Cabinet has approved the proposal of the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas to extend the time-limit for availing the advance by three months.

PMGKAY: It refers to the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana. The Union Cabinet recently approved further extension of PMGKAY as part of Economic Response to COVID-19, for another Five months from July to November, 2020.

Under the Scheme, it is proposed to distribute 9.7 Lakh MT cleaned whole Chana to States and UTs for distribution to all beneficiary households under the National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA). It will be distributed at the rate of 1kg per month free of cost under for next five months -July to November, 2020 at a total estimated cost of Rs.6,849.24 crore.

All expenses on the extended PMGKAY are to be borne by the Central Government.

Under this scheme, 120 lakh tonnes of food grains were first given, now 20 million tonnes of grains will be given. This is the first time since independence that the government has planned to give free ration to such a large population for 8 months.

NABARD: It refers to the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development. NABARD is an apex development finance institution in India. It was founded on 12 July 1982. The bank has been entrusted with "matters concerning policy, planning, and operations in the field of credit for agriculture and other economic activities in rural areas in India". It is headquartered in Mumbai, Maharashtra. The current Chairman is G R Chintala.

Recently, NABARD celebrated its 39th Foundation day i.e., on the 13th of July. It organized its first digital conference named “digital choupal”. The video conference brought together farmers from across the country who have been associated with NABARD in 7 development projects in rural India viz. Rural Livelihoods Matter Immensely, Empowering Tribal Communities, Soil Health is Real Health, Direct Marketing to Urban Consumers, Climate Resilience, Climate Proofing of Koutuguda and Collectivisation of Weavers.

On this occasion, a refinance scheme for financial institutions and banks was launched. An amount of Rs 5,000 crores was allocated for the scheme.

Under the scheme, the Primary Agricultural Credit Societies (PACS) are to be turned into multi-service centres. The fund allocated under the scheme is to be made available to financial institutions and banks to lend to the beneficiaries in 2,150 water shed development projects. The scheme will mainly focus on watershed development projects. These projects are spread over 2.3 million hectares of watershed, tribal development and rainfed areas.

 NABARD has also launched the scheme to computerise PACS  which will enable these ground-level entities to provide seamless credit services to their farmer members. Under this scheme, 5,000 PACS are to be upgraded in the initial phases, 15,000 by 2022 and another 15,000 by 2023.

MHRD: It refers to the Ministry of Human Resources and Development. The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) was formerly known as the Ministry of Education. It was founded on 26 septenber 1985. It is headquartered in New Delhi, India. It is responsible for the development of human resources in India. The current Minister of MHRD is Ramesh Pokhriyal.

Recently, the Union HRD (Human Resource Development) Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank and Minister of State (MoS) for HRD Sanjay Dhotre jointly launched the first on-line NISHTHA programme for 1,200 Key Resources Persons of Andhra Pradesh.

 

NISHTHA Programme: It refers to a National Initiative for School Heads and Teachers Holistic Advancement programme. NISHTHA is organised at the elementary stage under Samagra Shiksha, a centrally sponsored flagship programme of Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) to improve learning outcomes and holistic development of children.

 

It is a capacity building programme that was launched by the government of India on 21st August, 2019 to improve the quality of school education through Integrated Teacher Training. Following which 33 states and UTs have launched this programme in collaboration under Samagra Shiksha. In 29 States and UTs, the NISHTHA training programme has been completed by the NCERT at the state level.

Around 23 thousand Key Resource Persons and more than 17 lakh teachers and school heads have been covered under NISHTHA face to face mode till date. However, COVID-19 pandemic situation has affected the conduct of this programme in face-to-face mode. For providing training to remaining 24 lakh teachers and school heads, NISHTHA has been customized for online mode to be conducted through DIKSHA and NISHTHA portals by the NCERT.

Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying: The 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. The current Union Minister of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying is Giriraj Singh and the Minister of State for the same is Pratap Chandra Sarangi.

Recently, Union Minister of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying Minister Giriraj Singh launched the Implementation Guidelines for Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund (AHIDF) worth Rs. 15,000. It is a first type of scheme for private sector.

The scheme was approved by the Union Cabinet on 24.06.2020 under the Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan stimulus package for ensuring growth in several sectors.

AHIDF: It refers to the Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund. AIHDF was established as MSMEs and Private companies are to be promoted and incentivized for their involvement in processing and value addition infrastructure.

GoI has implemented several schemes for incentivizing the investment made by dairy cooperative sector for development of dairy infrastructure and AHIDF is a first-of-its-kind type of scheme for private sector.

Its main aim is to benefit millions of farmers by creating infrastructure and more milk will be processed. This will also increase export of dairy products which is presently negligible.

The eligible beneficiaries under the Scheme would be Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs), MSMEs, Section 8 Companies, Private Companies and individual entrepreneurs with minimum 10% margin money contribution by them. The balance 90% would be the loan component to be made available by scheduled banks.

HRD Ministry: It refers to the Ministry of Human Resources and Development. The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) was formerly known as the Ministry of Education. It was founded on 26 septenber 1985. It is headquartered in New Delhi, India.It is responsible for the development of human resources in India. The current Minister of MHRD is Ramesh Pokhriyal.

Recently, the Union Minister for HRD Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank launched an initiative called ‘Manodarpan’. This initiative was launched virtually under Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan as a part of strengthening human capital and increasing productivity.

Manodarpan platform will not only provide psycho-social support to students but also to teachers and parents. This initiative will address their issues related to mental health and emotional well being.

A helpline number 8448440632 has been launched to provide the consultation which can be accessed from morning 8 AM to 8 PM and the website for the initiative is http://manodarpan.mhrd.gov.in/.

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. The current Minister of MNRE R. K. Singh, a Minister of State (Independent Charge).

Recently, Minister for Power, New and Renewable Energy, RK Singh  inaugurated India’s first public EV (Electric Vehicle) charging plaza. The EV charging plaza was inaugurated at  Chelmsford Club in New Delhi in order to make e-mobility hassle free and convenient for the consumers.

The Plaza was launched by Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) and New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC). It will host 5 Electric Vehicle Chargers of different specifications.

ASPIRE: It is an e-Portal named “Automobile Solutions Portal for Industry, Research & Education. ASPIRE was recently launched by the International Centre of Automotive Technology(ICAT). Along with this, ICAT has declared that the Department of Heavy Industry (DHT) which is the body under Government of India (GOI) has released the e-platforms to promote innovation, R&D and product development in various sectors of India.

The main aim of this portal is to build a strong and self-reliant automotive industry in line with the vision of Make in India and Atma-Nirbhar vision of Government of India. Its main objective is to make Indian Automotive Industry self-reliant by assisting in innovation and adoption of global technological advancements by bringing together the stakeholders from various associated avenues.

This technology platform will enable the OEMs, Tier 1 Tier 2 & Tier 3 companies, R&D institutions and academia (colleges & universities) to come together for R&D, technology development on issues involving technology advancements. The e-portal will act as one stop solution.

The portal can be accessed through https://aspire.icat.in.

ICAT: It is an acronym for International Centre of Automotive Technology. ICAT is a leading world class automotive testing, certification and R&D service provider under the aegis of NATRiP (National Automotive Testing and R&D Infrastructure Project), Government of India. It was founded in 2006. It is headquartered in Manesar in Gurugram district of Haryana state of India.

RAISE: It refers to the Retrofit of Air-conditioning to improve Indoor Air Quality for Safety and Efficiency. RAISE national programme is a joint initiative of Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) and USAID. This initiative was recently launched by the Union Minister for Power, New & Renewable Energy, Shri R.K Singh.

Maintaining good indoor air quality is essential for occupant and people who return to their offices and public spaces, comfort, well-being, productivity and the overall public health. So, in that context, the EESL has undertaken a retrofit of its office air-conditioning and ventilation system, in partnership with US Agency for International Development's (USAID) MAITREE programme.

The corporate office of EESL in Scope Complex has been taken up as a pilot for this initiative. It focuses on improving indoor air quality (IAQ), thermal comfort, and energy efficiency (EE) in its office's air conditioning system.

 

Current Affairs in Indian Policy - June 2020

Morth: It refers to the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways is a ministry of the Government of India(GoI). Morth is the apex body for formulation and administration of the rules, regulations and laws relating to road transport, transport research. Its task is also to increase the mobility and efficiency of the road transport system in India. It was founded in July 1942. The current Union Minister of Morth is Nitin Gadkari and the State Minister of Morth is Mansukh L. Mandaviya.

Recently, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) has issued a notification regarding the emission norms for L7 (Quadricycle) category for BS-VI. These norms are applicable from the date of notification. With the notification the process of BS-VI for L, M and N category vehicles in India gets completed. The emission norms are on the lines of the European Union’s World Motorcycle Test Cycle (WMTC).

The main objective of this move is to encourage the production of quadricycles. This segment was introduced in 2018. The central government had introduced the quadricycle segment in 2018 and approved it for both commercial and private use. The move seeks to encourage automobile manufacturers to produce more petrol, diesel, CNG, and biofuel quadricycles for the Indian market.

Quadricycle: Quadricycle is a fully covered like a car vehicle that is of the size of a three wheeler but runs with four wheels. It is maximum 3.6 metres long, with an engine smaller than 800cc, and should not weigh more than 475 kilograms. It has an engine like that of a three-wheeler which makes it a cheap and safe mode of transport for last-mile connectivity. The Quadricycle was inserted as “Non-Transport” under Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. These vehicles are not allowed for transporting cargo in India and have to undergo vigorous crash tests and meet the safety norms of Bharat New Vehicle Safety Assessment Programme. The procedure for testing is laid down in Automotive Industry Standard (AIS) 137-Part 9.

The vehicles that fall under the L7 category should be four wheelers with mass more than 400 kg.

Char Dham Pariyojana: Char Dham Pariyojana is a road project aims to connect the char dhams, the four pilgrimage places that are highly revered by the Hindus. They are Badrinath, Kedarnath, Yamunotri and Gangotri. The foundation stone of Char Dham Mahamarg Vikas Pariyojana was laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 27 December 2016.

Recently, Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways (Morth) Nitin Gadkari inaugurated the breakthrough event of Chamba Tunnel under Chardham Pariyojana. The major breakthrough was achieved by Border Roads Organisation (BRO) by digging up a 440 m long Tunnel below the busy Chamba town on Rishikesh-Dharasu road Highway (NH 94) amidst threat of COVID-19 and nationwide lockdown.

The tunnel will significantly reduce the distance by 1km  and journey through the town will take only 10 minutes as compared to 30 minutes earlier. This Project will be completed by October 2020.

BRO is constructing 250 Km of National Highways leading to holy shrine Gangotri and Badrinath under the Chardham Project costing around Rs 12,000 Crore with approximate length of 889 Km.

MHRD: It refers to the Ministry of Human Resources and Development. The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) was formerly known as the Ministry of Education. It was founded on 26 septenber 1985. It is headquartered in New Delhi, India.It is responsible for the development of human resources in India. The current Union Minister of MHRD is Ramesh Pokhriyal.

Recently, the Union Ministry of Human Resources and Development has decided to take forward the Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat (EBSB) programme using innovative ways during the COVID 19 outbreak. A decision in this regard was taken at a recent meeting of Secretaries of partner Ministries under the programme via videoconfrencing. 

The decisions taken during the meeting are as follows:

 To move towards digital mediums for the carrying on the activities under EBSB by each participating Ministry/ Department.

To organise webinars on Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat themes for their wide dissemination.

To have a common repository for the Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat digital resources that can be used by every Ministry. This repository may be hosted on a common portal.

EBSB: It refers to the Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat Programme. ESSB was announced by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2015 on the 140th birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. Subsequently, the initiative was announced in the Union Budget for 2016-17. This Programme aims to celebrate the Unity in Diversity of the country. The main objective of the programme is to promote engagement and thereby understanding amongst the people of different states and UTs to ensure a stronger united India. MHRD has been designated Nodal Ministry for co-ordination of the programme.

Finance Ministry: The Finance Ministry is the apex controlling authority of the Indian Revenue Service, Indian Economic Service, Indian Cost Accounts Service and Indian Civil Accounts Service. It is an important ministry within the Government of India (GoI) serving as the Indian Treasury Department. It was founded on 29 October 1946. It is charged with the task of raising the resources for the overall expenditure of the Government of India and to see to the desirability of the demands of other departments, taking into consideration the interest of taxpayers. The current Minister of Finance is Nirmala Sitharaman.

Recently, the Union Finance Minister Nirmala sitharaman formally launched a facility for instant allotment of online PAN card on furnishing of Aadhaar details. This facility has been rolled out on near to real time basis. It is available for those PAN applicants who possess a valid Aadhaar number and have a mobile number registered with Aadhaar. The allotment process is paperless and an electronic PAN (e-PAN) is issued to the applicants free of cost. This facility aims to create further ease of compliance to the taxpayers.

The beta version of the facility of instant PAN through Aadhaar based e-KYC was started on 12th of Feburary on the e-filing website of Income Tax Department.

PAN: It refers to the Permanent Account Number. PAN is a ten-digit alphanumeric number issued by the Income Tax Department. It enables the department to link all transactions of the "person" with the department. These transactions include tax payments, TDS/TCS credits, income tax returns, specified transactions, correspondence, etc., hence, PAN acts as an identifier for the "person" with the tax department.

It is mandatory to quote PAN on return of income, all correspondence with any income tax authority. It became mandatory to quote PAN on challans for any payments due to Income Tax Department from tha 1st of January 2005.

 

PCIM&H: It refers to the Pharmacopoeia Commission for Indian Medicine & Homoeopathy. PCIM&H is an autonomous body under the aegis of Ministry of AYUSH established since 2010.

Recently, the Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval to re-establish Pharmacopoeia Commission for Indian Medicine & Homoeopathy (PCIM&H) as Subordinate Office under Ministry of AYUSH.

The commission has been set up by merging into it two Central Laboratories- Pharmacopoeia Laboratory for Indian Medicine (PLIM) and Homoeopathic Pharmacopoeia Laboratory (HPL) located at Ghaziabad. The two central laboratories were established at Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh in 1975.

The main objective of this merger is to optimise the use of resources of the 3 organizations for enhancing the standardization outcomes of Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy drugs towards their effective regulation and quality control.

The merger will accord legal status to the merged structure of PCIM&H and its laboratory by virtue of making amendments in the Drugs & Cosmetics Rules, 1945.

The decision in this regard has been taken after consulting the Director General Health Services, Drugs Controller General and Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani Drugs Technical Advisory Board (ASUDTAB).

ASUDTAB: It refers to the Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani Drugs Technical Advisory Board. ASUDTAB advises the central and state governments in regulatory matters of Accelerated Shelf Life Testing (ASLT) drugs.

KCC: It refers to Kisan Credit Card. The Government of India (GoI,) recently launched Kisan Credit Card (KCC) campaign to help farmers. Under this campaign, the KCC are to be provided to 1.5 crore dairy farmers who come under the category of milk unions and milk producing companies within the next two months under a special drive. The government has taken this action for dairy farmers under Atma Nirbhar Bharat Package for farmers in India.

The aim behind this scheme for dairy farmers is to provide adequate credit facility and additional liquidity of worth Rs 5 lakh crore to farmers that are suffering from COVID-19 economic crisis.

KCC Scheme: The Kisan Credit Card (KCC) scheme was launched in 1998. It was launched with the aim of providing short-term formal credit to farmers.

IBC: It refers to the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code. The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was introduced in Rajya Sabha by the Minister of Finance, Ms. Nirmala Sitharaman, on 24 July 2019. The Bill amends the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016. The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, has been amended thrice.  Insolvency is a situation where individuals or companies are unable to repay their outstanding debt.

Recently, the Union Government promulgated an ordinance to amend Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) for six months, which could be extended up to a year. The amendments to IBC were promulgated by President Ramnath Kovind through the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code Ordinance, 2020. The new rules come into effect immediately, as of 5th June 2020.

Under its new rule, the Government of India (GoI) has effectively suspended fresh bankruptcy proceedings against persons impacted because of COVID-19 for at least six months, up to a maximum of one year. It means that the lenders will not be able to drag borrowers into insolvency for any debt default for 6 months beginning March 25 where as the burrowers too will not be able to declare bankruptcy in this period.

GoI suspended IBC Sections 7, 9 and 10, to provide relief to borrowers from being dragged into insolvency amid the struggle with the impact of the lockdown.

Section 7 of the IBC allows a financial creditor to initiate corporate insolvency resolution process against a corporate debtor.

 Section 9 provides for application of insolvency by an operational creditor, while Section 10 is for initiation of insolvency resolution proceedings by a corporate applicant.

Section 10 is for initiation of insolvency resolution proceedings by a corporate applicant.

The move is expected to allow companies to get their business back on track without the fear of being dragged into insolvency.

TULIP: It is an abbreviation for The Urban Learning Internship Programme. TULIP is an online portal which is the first of its kind initiative jointly launched by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MoHRD), the Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs, and All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE).

TULIP has been launched with an aim to provide internship opportunities to fresh graduates in all Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) and Smart Cities across the country. Under the programme, they will get opportunities to work with 4,400 urban local bodies and 100 smart cities in India. Any graduate who have completed B. Tech, B. Arch, B. Plan, BSc are eligible for this programme.

TULIP platforms will not only provide an opportunity for youth to generate new ideas to reform Urban local bodies through modern techniques and innovative methods but also help to create a potential talent pool in diverse fields like financing, urban planning, environmental planning, sanitation and infrastructure, environmental engineering etc.

TULIP was announced by Finance Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman in the Budget 2020-21 under the theme ‘Aspirational India’.

Agriculture Ministry: The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare is a branch of the Government of India (GoI). It is the apex body for formulation and administration of the rules and regulations and laws related to agriculture in India. The three broad areas of scope for the Ministry are agriculture, food processing and co-operation. It was formed in 1947 and is headquartered in New Delhi. Currently the agriculture ministry is headed by Minister of Agriculture Narendra Singh Tomar and the Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare is Parshottam Rupala.

Recently, the Union Minister for Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare, Narendra Singh Tomar launched Sahakar Mitra which is a Scheme on Internship Programme (SIP). It is an initiative by National Cooperative Development Cooperation (NCDC).

The initiative was launched with an objective to help cooperative institutions access innovative ideas of young professionals while the interns will gain experience of working in the field to be self-reliant. Sahakar Mitra would also provide an opportunity for professionals from academic institutions to develop leadership and entrepreneurial roles through cooperatives as Farmers Producers Organizations (FPO).

Professional graduates in disciplines such as Agriculture and allied areas, IT etc. and also Professionals who are pursuing or have completed their MBA degrees in Agri-business, International Trade, Cooperation, Finance, Forestry, Rural Development, Project Management etc. are eligible for the internship.

NCDC: It refers to the National Cooperative Development Cooperation. NCDC is a statutory Corporation set up under an Act of Indian Parliament on 13 March 1963. The main objectives of NCDC are planning and promoting programmes for production, processing, marketing, storage, export and import of agricultural produce, foodstuffs, industrial goods, livestock and certain other notified commodities and services on cooperative principles and for matters concerned therewith or incidental thereto. The Minister currently responsible for NCDC is the Minister of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare Narendra Singh Tomar.

IFLOWS-Mumbai: IFLOWS-Mumbai which is a state of art Integrated Flood Warning system was recently inaugurated by the Chief Minister of Maharashtra Uddhav Thackeray and Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Science and Technology, Dr Harsh Vardhan in Mumbai. Mumbai is only the second city in the country after Chennai to get this system. Similar systems are being developed for Bengaluru and Kolkata.

The system is expected to enhance Mumbai’s resilience by providing early warning for flooding specially during high rainfall events and cyclones. It has provisions to capture the urban drainage within the city and predict the areas of flooding, which will be incorporated in the final system.

About IFLOWS-Mumbai: It is a state of art Integrated Flood Warning system for Mumbai. It is a monitoring and flood warning system that will be able to relay alerts of possible flood-prone areas anywhere between six to 72 hours in advance. The system can provide all information regarding possible flood-prone areas, likely height the floodwater could attain, location-wise problem areas across all 24 wards and calculate the vulnerability and risk of elements exposed to flood.

The system incorporates weather models from the National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF), India Meteorological Department (IMD), field data from the rain gauge network of 165 stations set up by Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), BMC and IMD. It comprises of various modules namely Data Assimilation, Flood, Inundation, Vulnerability, Risk, Dissemination and Decision Support System.

This system is a joint initiative between the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).

DST: It refers to the Department of Science & Technology. DST is a department within the Ministry of Science and Technology in India. It was founded in May 1971. It's responsibility is to promote new areas of science and technology and to play the role of a nodal department for organising, coordinating and promoting Scientific and Technological activities in the country. It gives funds to various approved scientific projects in India. It also supports various researchers in India to attend conferences abroad and to go for experimental works. Minister of State Dr. Harsh Vardhan is the current head of the department, while Ashutosh Sharma is its present secretary.

Recently, the Department of Science & Technology (DST) has constituted a joint Science Communication Forum. It has been constituted to facilitate interaction, cooperation, and coordination amongst various public sector science communication institutions and agencies.

The Forum would be served by a Secretariat at the National Council for Science & Technology Communication (NCSTC), Department of Science & Technology. It will be represented by senior officials from various central ministries including Science & Technology, Agriculture, Health, Culture, Defense, Space, Atomic Energy and Information & Broadcasting.

The forum will integrate the science communication efforts spread across various institutions and It can also help adoption of a common policy and best practices at a wider scale, ultimately aiming towards a national science communication framework.

The Forum too would be responsible to work upon strategies for effective planning and implementation of science communication programmes at macro and micro level in the country Hence, it will spread scientific awareness and result into an innovation-driven society.

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.

Recently, the Central Government of India has formulated a task force to examine matters pertaining to age of motherhood, imperatives of lowering Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR), improvement of nutritional levels and related issues. The task force has been set up by the Ministry of Women and Child Development.

The task force will be headed by Ms. Jaya Jaitly. It will be responsible for reviewing the correlation of age of marriage and motherhood along with health, medical well being, and nutritional status of mother and child, during pregnancy & birth. It will also examine the key parameters like Infant Mortality Rate (IMR), Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR), Total Fertility Rate (TFR), Sex Ratio at Birth (SRB), Child Sex Ratio (CSR) etc., any other relevant points pertaining to health and nutrition in this context.

It will not only suggest measures to promote higher education among women but also suggest suitable legislative instruments and amendments in existing laws to support the recommendations of the Task Force. It will chalk out a detailed roll-out plan with timelines to implement these recommendations too.

Labour and Employment Ministry: The Ministry of Labour & Employment is one of the oldest and most important Ministries of the Government of India. It is India's federal ministry which is responsible to protect and safeguard the interest of workers in general and the poor, deprived and disadvantaged sections of the society. It is headquartered in New Delhi. The Minister of Labour and Employment is Shri Santosh Kumar Gangwar.

Recently, the Labour Ministry has decided to fast-track the proposed National Employment Policy (NEP) to lay out a roadmap that will provide incentives for employment generation. NEP aims at absorbing additional 5 million workforces in the nation every year and also focus at the formalization of the country’s 500 million workforce which includes migrants, to ensure social security and jobs for them.

The Policy will frame a road map to provide incentives for employment generation that are based on recommendations of the Thawar Chand Gehlot-led group of ministers in the light of economic crisis because of COVID-19.

The two main objectives of NEP are:-

1. To attract new enterprises and industries to generate employment opportunities.

2. To improve the skill set of existing work force and make them employable as India has been gearing up to attract new companies who are seeking to    shift their manufacturing bases from China.

Ministry of Personnel & Public Grievances: The Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions is a ministry of the Government of India (GoI) in personnel matters specially issues concerning recruitment, training, career development, staff welfare as well as the post-retirement dispensation. The Ministry is also concerned with the process of responsive people-oriented modern administration. Allocation of Business Rules defines the work allotted for the Ministry.  The current Minister of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions is Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi and the Deputy Minister responsible is Jitendra Singh, Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions.

Recently, the Union Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Dr. Jitendra Singh launched “Feedback Call Centres on Public Grievances”. During the launch, he also interacted live with citizens whose grievances were successfully redressed on the COVID-19 National Monitor for Public Grievances.

DARPG (Department of Administrative Reforms & Public Grievances) has operationalized various Feed Back Call Centers in collaboration with BSNL (Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited) in Guwhati, Jamshedpur, Ajmer, Guntur, Vadodara, Ahmedabad, Coimbatore, Bhubaneshwar, Lucknow, and Guntakal with 1406 call centre operators.

These centres would operate in 14 languages namely Telugu, Oriya, Bengali, Hindi, Kannada, Konkani, Malayalam, Tamil, English, Gujarati, Marathi, Punjabi, Assamese and Rajasthani.

TRIFED: It refers to the Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India. TRIFED is a national-level apex organization. It functions under the Ministry of Tribal Affairs. It was founded in 1987. It works towards marketing development of tribal products and provides marketing support to the products made by tribals through a network of retail outlets. The current Managing Director of TRIFED is Pravir Kumar.

Recently, TRIFED organized a webinar was titled “Van Dhan: Tribal Startups Bloom in India”. During the Webinar, it was informed that the coverage of PM Van Dhan Yojana was proposed to be expanded from the current 18,000 SHGS to 50,000 Van Dhan SHGS and this was to be achieved through Van Dhan Start-up programme.

The objective of the Van Dhan Start-up scheme is to generate source of employment for tribal gatherers and forest dwellers and also for the home-bound tribal labour and artisans. The slogan “Go Vocal for Local”, a Mantra in these troubled times, has been adapted to include ‘Go Vocal for Local Go Tribal – Mera Van Mera Dhan Mera Udyam’.

The aim of the Start-ups scheme is to treble the coverage to 10 lakh tribal gatherers through the Covid-19 relief plan of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs under article 275(I).

Under the Van Dhan Scheme, 1205 Tribal Enterprises have so far been established to provide employment opportunities to 3.6 lakh tribal gatherers and 18000 Self-help groups in 22 States.

MHRD: It refers to the Ministry of Human Resources and Development. The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) was formerly known as the Ministry of Education. It was founded on 26 septenber 1985. It is headquartered in New Delhi. India. It is responsible for the development of human resources in India. The current Minister of MHRD is Ramesh Pokhriyal.

Recently, the Union Minister of Human Resource Development, Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank' launched the second phase of YUKTI (Young India Combating COVID with Knowledge, Technology and Innovation). The second phase of YUKTI was launched virtually to help systematically assimilate technologies having commercial potential and information related to incubated start-ups in country's higher education institutions.

YUKTI 2.0 is the logical extension of the earlier version of ‘YUKTI’ that was launched on 11 April 2020. Ministry of HRD prepared the portal in view of Coronavirus which intended to cover different dimensions of COVID-19 challenges and also to monitor and record the efforts and initiatives of MHRD. 

Through this portal, the MHRD will endeavour to ensure that teachers, students and researchers in higher educational institutions are getting appropriate support to meet the requirements needed to advance their technologies and innovations.

MoF: It refers to the Ministry of Finance. The MoF is the apex controlling authority of the Indian Revenue Service, Indian Economic Service, Indian Cost Accounts Service and Indian Civil Accounts Service. It is an important ministry within the Government of India (GoI) concerned with the economy of India, serving as the Indian Treasury Department. It was founded on 29 October 1946. The ministry of finance is charged with the task of raising the resources for the overall expenditure of the Government of India and to see to the desirability of the demands of other departments, taking into consideration the interest of taxpayers. It is headquartered in New Delhi. the current Minister of Finance is Nirmala Sitharaman.

Recently, the Finance Ministry nearly fifteen years after the Disaster Management Act was passed has given the approval to a proposal to allow individuals and institutions to contribute directly to the National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF).

This is a significant development at a time when many have expressed concerns about donations sent to the PM CARES Fund or the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund, as both claim they are not public authorities subject to questions under the Right to Information Act.

NDRF: It refers to the National Disaster Relief Fund. NDRF was set up in accordance with Section 46 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005. It is meant to “meet the expenses for emergency response, relief and rehabilitation” for any disaster situation. Although Section 46 includes a clause for grants made by any person or institution, provisions for such donations had not been made. NDRF was earlier named as National Calamity Contingency Fund (NCCF). 

GeM: It stands for Government e-Marketplace. GeM is a Special Purpose Vehicle under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry that offers end to end solutions for all procurement needs of Central and State Government Departments, autonomous institutions, Public Sector Units (PSUs) and local bodies. It was launched on 9 August 2016 to bring transparency and efficiency in the government buying process. It has transformed public procurement in India by leveraging technology and making procurement contactless, paperless, and cashless. It has also provided the tools of e-bidding and reverse e-auction to facilitate the government users achieve the best value for their money. It has been continuously working towards the promotion of Make in India initiative. At present, GeM has more than 15 lakh products, around 20,000 services, and more than 40,000 Government buyer organizations.

Recently, Government e-Marketplace (GeM) has made it mandatory for sellers to mention their Country of Origin while registering all new products on GeM.

GeM has taken this significant step to promote PM Modi's call for ‘Make in India’ and ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’.

It has also enabled a provision for indication of the percentage of local content in products. With the introduction of this new feature, the buyers on the platform can now see the Country of Origin as well as the local content percentage that will be visible in the marketplace for all items.

As ‘Make in India’ filter has now been enabled on the portal, the buyers can choose to buy only those products that meet the minimum 50% local content criteria.

Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment: The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment is a ministry of Government of India (GoI). It is responsible for welfare, social justice and empowerment of disadvantaged and marginalized sections of society, including scheduled castes, Other Backward Classes, the disabled, the elderly, and the victims of drug abuse. The Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment holds cabinet rank as a member of the Council of Ministers. The Ministry of Welfare adopted the name Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment in May 1998. In October 1999, the Tribal Development Division left the ministry to become its own ministry, the Ministry of Tribal Affairs. The current Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment is Thawar Chand Gehlot, who is assisted by a Minister of State, Rattan Lal Kataria, Krishan Pal Gujjar and Ramdas Athavale.

Recently, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment launched Nasha Mukt Bharat Annual Action Plan (2020-21). The action plan has been launched for 272 Most Affected Districts, on the occasion of “International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking”.  A Logo and Tagline for National Action Plan for Drug Demand Reduction and awareness videos for Drug Abuse Prevention was also released by the Ministry.

This action plan is a three-pronged attack combining efforts of Narcotics Bureau, Outreach/Awareness by Social Justice and Treatment through the Health Department.

The Action Plan has the following components.

Awareness generation programmes; Focus on Higher Educational institutions, University Campuses and Schools; Community outreach and identification of dependent population; Focus on Treatment facilities in Hospital settings; and Capacity Building Programmes for Service Provider.

Its main aim is to reach out to Children and Youth for awareness about ill effect of drug use, increase community participation and public cooperation, support Government Hospitals for opening up De- addiction Centers in addition to existing Ministry Supported De-addiction Centers (IRCAs) and Conducting Training programme for participants.

The Ministry has also prepared a National Action Plan for Drug Demand Reduction for the period 2018-2025 which aims at reduction of adverse consequences of drug abuse through a multi-pronged strategy involving education, de-addiction and rehabilitation of affected individuals and their families.

According to a list of 272 most affected districts from Drug addiction and Illicit Trafficking in India are Uttar Pradesh (UP), Rajasthan and Punjab are the worst affected states.

Current Affairs in Indian Policy - May 2020

NAFED: It refers to the National Agriculture Cooperative Marketing Federation of India. NAFED is an apex organization of marketing cooperatives for agricultural produce in India. It was founded on the auspicious day of Gandhi Jayanti on 2nd October 1958. It functions under the Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India. It was founded with an aim to promote the trade of agricultural produce and forest resources across the nation. It is registered under Multi State Co-operative Societies Act. It is headquartered in New Delhi. It is currently one of the largest procurement as well as marketing agencies for agricultural products in India. Its 4 regional offices are at Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai. The current Chairman of NAFED is ex-MLA Dr. Bijender Singh.

Recently, NAFED, under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) is all set to distribute about 6 lakh metric tonnes pulses to around 20 crore households through ration shops for 3 months. The quota for the first month will be received by the beneficiaries within April or latest by the first week of May.  The pulses are distributed under the National food Security Act. The main objective of the distribution of pulses is to meet the protein needs of people during this hour of crisis due to COVID-19 lockdown.

Under the scheme, a massive operation for transport and milling of pulses is underway in the country to distribute one kilogram of pulses to every household. Careful planning of this huge operation includes cleaning unmilled pulses and then transporting them to the states for distribution.

National Food Security Act (NFSA): The National Food Security Act, is an Act of the Parliament of India. The act was introduced by the Government of India (GoI) in 2013. The main aim of the Act is to ensure food security in India, chiefly by providing cereals at subsidized prices through the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) for about two-thirds of households.

Union Consumer Affairs Ministery: The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution is a government ministry of India. It was formed on 2 September 1946. It is headquartered in Sansad Bhavan, New Delhi. The ministry is divided into two departments, the Department of Food and Public Distribution and the Department of Consumer Affairs. Department of Consumer Affairs was constituted as a separate Department in June 1997. The Ministry is headed by a Cabinet rank minister. The current Minister of Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution is Ram Vilas Paswan. 

Recently, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution approved the integration of five states and Union Territories under “One Nation One Ration Card”. It was approved by the Consumers Minister Ram Vilas Paswan. These states are Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu. Twelve states are already a part One Nation, One Ration Card plan. The states were Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Kerala, Rajasthan, Telangana, Karnataka Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Tripura.

 

The main objective of One Nation One Ration Card plan is inter-state portability of ration cards. Under this plan, an individual who uses his ration card to buy food grains under the Public Distribution System can reap the same benefits if they happen to shift to another state anywhere in these 17 States and UTs by that falls under the said plan. The scheme will be very beneficial to the migrant workers. In India about 37% of the population is migrant labourers. The beneficiaries will now be entitled to lift the given quota of foodgrains from any Fair Price Shop (FPS) of their choice. The government also has plans of integrating the PDS with the Depo Online System.

 National Food Security Act (NFSA): The National Food Security Act, is an Act of the Parliament of India. The act was introduced by the Government of India (GoI) in 2013. The main aim of the Act is to ensure food security in India, chiefly by providing cereals at subsidized prices through the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) for about two-thirds of households.

Ration card: It is an official document issued by the Government of India. The card allows a household to buy subsidized food grains from the Public Distribution System under the National Food Security Act.

NTPC Limited: It refers to National Thermal Power Corporation Limited. It is an Indian Public Sector Undertaking, engaged in the business of generation of electricity and allied activities. It is a company founded on 7 November 1975. It was incorporated under the Companies Act 1956 and is promoted by the Government of India. It is India’s largest power producer & a central PSU under Ministry of Power. It is headquartered in New Delhi. The main purpose of NTPC is electricity generation and distribution natural gas exploration, production, transportation and distribution. The current Chairman and MD of NTPC Ltd: is Gurdeep Singh.

Recently, NTPC for the first time has invited Global Expression of Interest (EoI) to provide 10 Hydrogen Fuel Cell (FC) based electric buses and an equal number of Hydrogen Fuel Cell-based electric cars in Leh and Delhi.

The EoI has been issued by NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam. The initiative has been undertaken with the support from the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy. The main aim of this move is to launch hydrogen-powered vehicles at the decarbonizing quality phase. It will provide complete solutions from green energy to the fuel cell vehicle.

NCSTC: It refers to National Council for Science & Technology Communication. NCSTC functions under the Department of Science and Technology (DST). It was established in 1982. It is a scientific programme of the Government of India (GoI) for the popularization of science, dissemination of scientific knowledge and inculcation of scientific temper.

 

Recently, NCSTC, Department of Science & Technology (DST) has launched a programme on health and risk communication ‘Year of Awareness on Science & Health (YASH)’ with focus on COVID-19. It was launched on 30th April 2020. The programme is a comprehensive science and health communication initiative to promote grass-root level response on health.

The main objective of YASH programme is to minimize risks at all levels with the help of public communication and outreach activities and also help in encouraging public understanding of safety measures like personal sanitation and hygiene, physical distancing etc.

NCSTC, under this initiative has planned involve academic, media, research and voluntary organizations to prepare for emergency and also to address challenges. It will include health, science and risk communication software, audio-visual, folk performances, digital platforms and communicators to address the challenges. The programme will be launched in regional languages.

MEA: It is an abbreviation for Ministry of External Affairs. MEA also known as the Foreign Ministry was founded on 2 September 1946. It is the government agency responsible for the conduct of foreign relations of India. The Ministry comes under the Government of India and is responsible for India's representation in the United Nations. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar is the current Minister of External Affairs of the Government of India.

Recently, Ministry of External affairs (MEA) of India  reminded China about India’s claims over Gilgit-Baltistan where China has teamed up with Pakistan to build the Diamer-Bhasha dam. India’s claim over the territory of Gilgit-Baltistan under Pakistan’s control was made clear as the entire territory of Jammu and Kashmir is part of India.” The assertion by India is important as it was made a day after Power China, one of the biggest Chinese power companies, received a contract to build the Diamer-Bhasha dam which once completed will allow Pakistan to use the waters of the Indus for irrigation. Islamabad claims that the dam will help reduce downstream flood by the Indus.

Diamer-Bhasha Dam: It is a concreted-filled gravity dam on the River Indus between Kohistan district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Diamer district in Gilgit Baltistan. It is in the preliminary stages of construction. It is named Bhasha as the dam site is situated near a place called "Bhasha". The foundation stone for the dam was laid by the then Prime Minister of Pakistan on 1998. 

MHRD: It refers to the Ministry of Human Resources and Development. The MHRD was formerly known as the Ministry of Education. It was founded on 26 septenber 1985. It is headquartered in New Delhi, India. It is responsible for the development of human resources in India. The current Minister of MHRD is Ramesh Pokhriyal.

Recently, Union HRD Ministry has carried out various amendments in the Prime Minister’s Research Fellowship (PMRF) Scheme to boost research in the country.

Under the scheme, a dedicated division “Research and Innovation Division” is being created in the MHRD to boost research.

This division is to be headed by a director who will coordinate the research work of various institutions coming under MHRD.

The new amendment makes GATE score mandatory for the students of any other institutes other than the central institutes (such as IISc, IITs, NITs, IISERs, IIEST, CF IIITs).

The GATE Score has been reduced to 650 from 750 apart from minimum CGPA of 8 or equivalent.

From the academic year 2020-21, there will be two channels of entries i.e direct entry and lateral entry. Under lateral entry, those students pursuing PhD in PMRF granting institutions can also apply to become fellow under the scheme as per new guidelines.

PMRF Scheme: It refers to the Prime Minister’s Research Fellowship Scheme. PMRF was launched in 2018 to attract best talent into the research. It offers direct admission to such students in the Ph.D programmes in various higher educational institutions in the country. The institutes that are eligible under PMRF scheme includes all IISERs, IITs, Institute of Science, IISc Bengaluru and other top central universities and NITs.

IMD: It refers to India Meteorological Department. IMD is an agency of the Ministry of Earth Sciences of the Government of India (GoI). It is the principal agency responsible for meteorological observations, weather forecasting and seismology. It was founded in 1875 and is headquartered in New Delhi. It functions under the Ministry of Earth Sciences.

Recently, IMD has added its weather services to Umang app namely, the IMD cyclone warnings, weather forecast, rainfall information, tourism related updates, among other services, provided by the Met Department.

UMANG App: It refers to the Unified Mobile Application for New-age Governance App. UMANG app is a Government of India all-in-one single, multi-lingual, multi-service mobile app, powered by a robust back-end platform providing access to high impact services of various organization (Central and State). It was launched in 2017 by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 

About 660 services from 127 department and 25 states, including utility payments, are available on the app and more are in pipeline.

Union Cabinet: The Union Council of Ministers exercises executive authority in the Republic of India. It consists of senior ministers, called 'cabinet ministers', junior ministers called 'ministers of state' and, rarely, deputy ministers. It is led by the Prime Minister. A smaller executive body called the Union Cabinet is the supreme decision-making body in India. The prime minister and ministers of the rank of cabinet minister can only be the members of the Union Cabinet in accordance with Article 75.

Recently, the Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved the proposal of the Ministry of Finance (MoF) to launch a new Special Liquidity Scheme for Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs) and Housing Finance Companies (HFCs). The scheme aims to improve liquidity position of the NBFCs/HFCs.

As per the scheme, a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) would be set up by a large public bank to manage a Stressed Asset Fund (SAF) whose special securities would be guaranteed by the Government of India and purchased by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) only.

The function of the SPV will be to proceed with the sale of such securities to acquire short-term debt of NBFCs/HFCs. The SPV will issue securities as required, subject to the total amount of securities outstanding with a maximum limit of Rs 30,000 crore. The securities issued by the SPV which would be purchased by RBI would be used only by the SPV to acquire the debt of at least investment grade of short duration (residual maturity of upto 3 months) of eligible NBFCs / HFCs. This new special liquidity scheme will work under the administration control of Department of Financial Services, Ministry of Finance and Government of India (GoI).

NBFC: It refers to a Non-Banking Financial Company. NBFC is a company registered under the Companies Act, 1956. It is engaged in the business of loans and advances, acquisition of shares, bonds, stocks, debentures and securities which are issued by Government or local authority.

 HFC: It refers to a Housing Finance Company. HFC is a company registered under the Companies Act, 1956 (1 of 1956) which primarily transacts or has as one of its principal objects, the transacting of the business of providing finance for housing, whether directly or indirectly.

PMVVY: It refers to the Pradhan Manri Vaya Vandana Yojana. PMVVY is a social security pension scheme for senior citizens of India aged 60 years and above. The scheme is intended to give an assured minimum pension to them based on an assured return on the purchase price / subscription amount.

Union Cabinet has approved extension of Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana (PMVVY) up to 31st March, 2023 for further period of three years beyond 31st March, 2020 to enable old age income security for Senior Citizens. The scheme was available from 4th May, 2017 to 31st March, 2020.

This scheme is offered by Life insurance Corporation (LIC) of India. LIC gives a guaranteed payout of pension at a specified rate for 10 years. It also offers a death benefit in the form of return of purchase price to the nominee. Any senior citizen who have lump sum money in their bank account, and then they can consider buying this immediate annuity scheme till March 31, 2023.

Current Affairs in Indian Policy - April 2020

Ministry of Health and Family Welfare: The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is an Indian government ministry charged with health policy in India. It is also responsible for all government programs relating to family planning in India. The Minister of Health and Family Welfare holds cabinet rank as a member of the Council of Ministers. It was founded in 1976. Its headquarters is in New Delhi. The current Minister of Health and Family welfare is Harsh Vardhan.

Recently, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare declared the Hydroxycholoroquine as a Schedule H1 drug. Under the H1 schedule the export of Hydroxycholoroquine has been banned. The drug listed under Schedule H1 has to be labeled as “Rx” in red colour. The label should also carry precautionary warnings. The supply if H1 drugs have to be registered in a separate register and the name and address of the prescriber and the patient has to be registered in it.

WHO declared the Hydroxychloroquine drug as an essential drug to treat COVID-19 patients so that is why this drug has been banned.

NBT: It refers to the National Book Trust. NBT is an Indian publishing house. It is an autonomous body under the Ministry of Education of the Government of India. NBT now functions under aegis of Ministry of Human Resource Development, Govt. of India India's first Prime Minister Pt. Jawarhrlal Nehru. It was established in 1957. It is headquartered in New Delhi.The trust activities include publishing, promotion of Indian books, children literature, etc. The current President of NBT is Govind prasad sharma.

Recently, NBT launched Stay Home India with Books initiative. Under the initiative more than 100 books can be downloaded from the NBT website. It is providing people its select and best selling titles for FREE Download. The books uploaded by NBT are mostly children books and they are in different languages like English, Hindi, Tamil, Telegu, Bengali, Nepali etc. Apart from the childrens books various genres such as fiction, biography, popular science and many more are too uploaded. This initiative was taken by GoI to help people spend time during this lockdown due to coroanavirus.

SWAYAM: It stands for Study Webs of Active Learning for Young Aspiring Minds. It is a national online education platform. It was launched 2004. The main objective of the online platform is to provide best quality education to maximum numbers of students around India. SWAYAM was developed by Ministry of HRD with the help of NPTEL, IIT Madras and Google.

Recently, the Ministry of HRD (Human Resources Department) claimed the traffic on the national online education platform SWAYAM and other digital initiatives has tripled since the lockdown due to coronavirus.

An increased traffic is also being witnessed by the education portals of NCERT like Diksha, e-pathasala, NROER and NIOS and the other ICT initiatives like Robotics education (e-Yantra), Open Source Software for Education (FOSSEE), Virtual experiments (Virtual Labs) and Learning programming (Spoken tutorial).

SWAYAM: It stands for Study Webs of Active Learning for Young Aspiring Minds. It is a national online education platform. It was launched 2004. The main objective of the online platform is to provide best quality education to maximum numbers of students around India. SWAYAM was developed by Ministry of HRD with the help of NPTEL, IIT Madras and Google.

Recently, the Ministry of HRD (Human Resources Department) claimed the traffic on the national online education platform SWAYAM and other digital initiatives has tripled since the lockdown due to coronavirus.

An increased traffic is also being witnessed by the education portals of NCERT like Diksha, e-pathasala, NROER and NIOS and the other ICT initiatives like Robotics education (e-Yantra), Open Source Software for Education (FOSSEE), Virtual experiments (Virtual Labs) and Learning programming (Spoken tutorial).

MeitY: It refers to the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology. MeitY was previously known as "The Department of Information Technology". It was renamed to The Department of Electronics and Information Technology in 2012. It is an executive agency of the Union Government of the Republic of India. It was carved out of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology on 19 July 2016 as a standalone ministerial agency responsible for IT policy, strategy and development of the electronics industry. The current Union Minister of Electronics & Information Technology is Ravi Shankar Prasad.

Recently, Minister of State Electronics & Information Technology, Communications and Human Resource Development Shri Sanjay Dhotre launched Hack the Crisis- India. Online Hackathon has been launched to find the working solutions to overcome the COVID 19 pandemic.

This hackathon is part of a global initiative. It is being organised by ‘Hack A Cause – India’ and ‘Ficci Ladies Organization Pune’. It is supported by Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology, Government of India (MEITY). The main objective of the hackathon is to strengthen fight against COVID19.

CARUNA: It stands for Civil Services Associations Reach to Support in Natural Disasters. CARUNA is an initiative formed by the associations representing officers of Central Civil Services, including the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and the Indian Police Service (IPS) to support and supplement the government's efforts in fighting coronavirus.

The initiative CARUNA represents a collaborative platform, on which civil servants, industry leaders, NGO professionals and IT professionals among others have come together to contribute their time and abilities.

IRDAI: The acronym stands for Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India. IRDAI is an autonomous, statutory body tasked with regulating and promoting the insurance and re-insurance industries in India. It was established by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority Act, 1999, an Act of Parliament passed by the Government of India. The agency's headquarters are in Hyderabad, Telangana, where it moved from Delhi in 2001.IRDAI is a 10-member body including the chairman, five full-time and four part-time members appointed by the government of India. The current Chairman of IRDAI is Subash Chandra Khuntia.

Recently, IRDAI announced the the launch of health insurance policy called "Arogya Sanjeevani Policy, ManipalCigna". It was launched by ManipalCigna Health Insurance Company in line with Irdai's  guidelines. It is a standard health insurance policy of all general and health insurance companies will cover COVID-19 hospitalisation expenses. The main objective of Irdai-mandated Arogya Sanjeevani Policy is to provide simplified product with an essential health cover of Rs 1 lakh to Rs 5 lakh for medical treatment of illnesses and injuries requiring in-patient hospitalization.

Manipal Cigna Health Insurance Company Limited is a joint venture between Manipal Group, an eminent player in the field of healthcare delivery and higher education, U.S. based global health service leader, Cigna Corporation (NYSE:CI), and Indian conglomerate TTK Group.

MCA: It is an acronym for the Ministry of Corporate Affairs. The MCA is an Indian government ministry. It is primarily concerned with administration of the Companies Act 2013, the Companies Act 1956, the Limited Liability Partnership Act, 2008 & other allied Acts and rules & regulations framed there-under mainly for regulating the functioning of the corporate sector in accordance with law. It is responsible mainly for regulation of Indian enterprises in Industrial and Services sector. The Ministry is also responsible for administering the Competition Act, 2002 to prevent practices having adverse effect on competition, to promote and sustain competition in markets, to protect the interests of consumers through the commission set up under the Act. The current Union Minister of Corporate Affairs is Nirmala Sitharaman.

Recently, MCA introduced the "Companies Fresh Start Scheme, 2020" (CFSS). The new scheme has been introduced in order to provide relief to law-abiding companies and Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs) from the COVID 19 impact. The “LLP Settlement Scheme, 2020” (LLP) has also been revised by MCA.

Both CFSS 2020 and LLP Scheme 2020 will not only provide longer timelines for corporate to obey the various filing requirements under the Companies Act 2013 and LLP Act, 2008 but also significantly reduce the related financial burden on them, especially for those with long standing defaults, thereby giving them an opportunity to make a “fresh start”.

NHAI: It is an acronym for the National Highway Authority of India. NHAI is an autonomous agency of the Government of India. It was set up under the provisions of the National Highways Authority of India Act, 1988. It was established in February 1995. It is responsible for management of a network of over 50,000 km of National Highways out of 1,15,000 km in India. It is headquartered in New Delhi. It is a nodal agency of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. The current Chairperson of NHAI is Sukhbir Singh Sandhu.

Recently, NHAI completed the construction of 3,979 km of national highways in the financial year 2019-20.This is the highest ever highway construction achieved in a financial year by NHAI. The feat was achieved on the back of ambitious highways development programmes like Bharatmala Pariyojna.

Bharatmala Pariyojna: It is ambitious highway development programme of the Ministry of Ministry of Road and Transport and Highways. It was launched in 2015. The scheme includes the development of about 65,000 km of national highways.

Under Phase-I of the project, the scheme is to complete the construction of about 27,500 km of national highways. An amount of Rs.5,35,000 crore has been allotted by the Government of India (GoI) for the completion of Phase-1 within 5 years of the project launch.

NHAI, so far has constructed 27,500km under the Bharatmal Pariyojana.

Kendriya Bhandar: It is the Central Government Employees Consumer Cooperative Society. It was set up in 1963 as a welfare project for the benefit of Central Govt. employees and public at large. It operates under Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions of India. The organization was registered with Delhi Registrar of Cooperative Societies as the multi state consumer cooperative society in September 2000. The main aim of the Kendriya Bhandar is to obtain essential commodities for the benefit of central government employees. It not only supplies to the subsidiary organizations of GoI and Government Departments but also import and export consumer goods. The Chairperson of Kendriya Bhandar is Smt. Poonam Rawat.

Recently, the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances distributed 2200 Essential Kits to needy families. The Essential Kit was created by Kendriya Bhandar. The kit consisted of 3 kgs of rice, 3 kgs of wheat, 2 kgs of dal, 1 litre of cooking oil, poha, salt, bathing soap, biscuits and detergent soap bars.

MHRD: It refers to the Ministry of Human Resources and Development. The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) was formerly known as the Ministry of Education. It was founded on 26 September 1985. It is headquartered in New Delhi, India. It is responsible for the development of human resources in India. The current Minister of MHRD is Ramesh Pokhriyal.

Recently, MHRD launched an online training portal "iGOT" (Integrated Government Online training) on DIKSHA platform. GoI launched iGot for the capacity building of frontline workers to handle the COVID-19 pandemic efficiently.

iGOT: It refers to Integrated Government Online training. It is an online training Portal wich aims to look after the training needs of the frontline workers. These workers include doctors, nurses, paramedics, hygiene workers, technicians, Auxiliary Nursing Midwives (ANMs), State Government officers, civil defence officers, various police organisations, National Cadet Corps (NCC), Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan (NYKS), National Service Scheme, Indian Red Cross Society, Bharat Scouts and Guides and other volunteers.

The platform will provide the training on clinical management, basics of COVID-19, ICU care and management, quarantine and isolation, etc.

DIKSHA Platform: The DIKSHA platform was launched by the Ministry of Human Resources and Development (MHRD) in September 2017. The main objective of the portal was to provide a digital platform for the teachers to make their lifestyle digital. The platform not only helps teachers to learn and train themselves but also helps to record their accomplishments in educational institutes.

Bharat Padhe Online: It is a week long campaign to improve online education in India. Bharat Padhe Online campaign was launched by Union HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank recently. It was launched for crowd sourcing of ideas in New Delhi for improving online education ecosystem of India.

The main objective of the campaign is to invite all the experts in different educative fields in India to share their suggestions, solutions and knowledge directly with HRD Ministry to overcome constraints of online education while promoting the available digital education platforms.

Students and teachers are the main target audience of this campaign.

Saptapadi: Saptapadi is seven mantras or guidelines to fight against Covid-19 virus. It was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He directed all the citizens of India to follow Saptapadi while making the announcement of the extension of the lockdown till 3 May 2020. The decision of extending the locdown by the government was taken due to the recent state of the spread of the Coronavirus Covid-19.

The seven guidelines for Saptsadi are:-

1. The senior citizens and elderly have to be looked after with special care; especially those who have pre-existing ailments

2. Lockdown and Social Distancing rules are to be followed; Use homemade masks

3. Boost your immunity through guidelines issued by Ministry  of AYUSH

4. Download 'Aarogya Setu' mobile app

5. Help poor and needy families by providing food & shelter

6. In our industries, be compassionate towards colleagues; avoid job cuts and pay cuts

7. Show respect to corona warriors including doctors, healthcare workers, sanitation workers, police and others

Agriculture Ministry: The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare is a branch of the Government of India (GoI). It is the apex body for formulation and administration of the rules and regulations and laws related to agriculture in India. The three broad areas of scope for the Ministry are agriculture, food processing and co-operation. It was formed in 1947 and is headquartered in New Delhi. Currently the agriculture ministry is headed by Minister of Agriculture Narendra Singh Tomar.

Recently, the Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, Narendra Singh Tomar addressed the 2020 National Conference on Kharif crops. The conference was held through video conference. The conference was attended by Additional Secretary (Agriculture), Special secretaries, senior officers from DAC & FW, ICAR and officers of different state governments.

The measures to achieve doubling of farmers’ income and to achieve Kharif target was discussed at the conference. Mr. Tomar also urged the states that the two schemes which are PM Fasal Bima Yojana and Soil Health Card scheme should be explained to each farmer. 

The main objective of the National Kharif Conference was to discuss various issues and steps to be listed in consultation with the States about preparedness for Kharif cultivation amid the lockdown situation.

The target of 298 million tonnes of foodgrains production has been fixed for the year 2020-21.

GoI: Government Of  India (GoI) recently Launched the “Krishi Rath” application. The app was launched by the Agriculture Minister, Narendra Singh Tomar on 17 April 2020 to help farmers to transport their agriculture produce to the mandis.

 As the harvesting season has picked up, the app will facilitate the easy and hassle-free transportation of agricultural products not only to farmers but to traders also.

MGNREGA: It refers to Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. It was initially known as NREGA. MGNREGA is an Indian labour law and social security measure that aims to guarantee the 'right to work'. This act was passed in September 2005. The act which was first proposed in 1991 by P.V. Narasimha Rao was finally accepted in the parliament and commenced implementation in 625 districts of India. MGNREGA is the biggest source of employment generation in the country.

Recently, the Government of India (GoI) under its  issued guidelines for the extended lock down has allowed industrial works, road construction work and MGNREGA to begin in the rural areas. The main objective of the GoI is to help workers of unorganized sector and the migrants to start industrial works and construction activities in rural regions. The GoI has also allowed the brick kilns to be started.

COVID India Seva: It is an interactive platform that was launched by Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare, Dr. Harsh Vardhan. This initiative was launched to provide a channel of communication between the citizens and the Government regarding queries on coronavirus. This platform is aimed at enabling transparent e-governance delivery in real-time and answering citizen queries as early as possible.    

Through this platform, people can pose queries @CovidIndiaSeva and get them responded to in almost real-time. The Ministry too will respond to broader queries and public health information for which public does not have to share their personal contact or health record details.

IMCTs: It refers to Inter-Ministerial Committee Teams. IMCTs are a committee constituted by the Government of India (GoI) to assess the violations of lock down. The Committees have been constituted  by the Central Government in exercise of the powers, conferred, inter alia, under Section 35(1), 35(2)(a), 35(2)(e) and 35(2)(i) of the Disaster Management Act 2005. The Union Government, under section 35 (1), is empowered to take all measures that it feels is important. Under the Acts, the Union Government has the authority to deploy military or paramilitary force in order to enforce guidelines issued under Disaster Management Act and also arrest of state official if he/she does not cooperate with to comply with the directives.

Recently, Government of India (GoI) constituted IMCTs - 2 for Gujarat, one for Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Maharashtra each. The teams will make on-spot assessment of violations of lock down in the country. GoI had earlier too constituted such IMCTs to report violations in the state of Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Rajasthan and Maharashtra.

MoPR: It refers to Ministry of Panchayati Raj. MoPR is a branch of the Government of India. It was created in May 2004. It looks into all matters relating to the Panchayati Raj and Panchayati Raj Institutions. It is responsible for the work of advocacy for and monitoring of the implementation of Constitution 73rd Amendment Act the Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act 1996. The ministry is headed by a minister of cabinet rank. The ministry is currently headed by Narendra Singh Tomar.

Recently, on the occasion of Panchayati Raj Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched E-Gram Swaraj Portal and Mobile app. The portal was launched on 24th April 2020 for the upliftment of the rural areas of India. It was launched through videoconferencing between PM Modi and Sarpanches of village panchayats.

The portal is an initiative of the Ministry of Panchayati RAj (MoPR) to mark the complete digitization of the villages and to strengthen e-governance in Panchayati Raj institutions (PRIs) across the country. The platform will provide all the gram panchayats with one single interface to prepare and implement their gram panchayat development plan (GPDP). The portal can be accessed at egramswaraj.gov.in and is also available as a mobile app.

Along with the portal, Prime Minister Modi also launched the Swamitva scheme. Under the scheme, the inhabited land will be demarcated in rural areas by the Ministry of Panchayati Raj by using drone technology. The ministry is to be joined by Survey of India, State Revenue Department and Panchayati Raj Department. The main objective of the scheme is that it will ensure streamlined planning, revenue collection and provide clarity over property rights in rural areas. This will not only help villagers apply for loans and obtain it easily from financial institutions but will also  reduce disputes related to property which would also be settled through the title deeds allotted through this scheme. The scheme will be initially launched in 6 states namely Maharashtra, Karnataka, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

Current Affairs in Indian Policy - March 2020

ASKDISHA: It is a Hindi Version of Artificial Intelligence-based chatbot. Artificial Intelligence based ASKDISHA was initially launched in English language. ASKDISHA chatbot is developed to resolve queries of railway passengers over the internet pertaining to various services offered by IRCTC both in English as well as Hindi. It has been launched on the ticketing website www.irctc.co.in and tourism website www.irctctourism.com of its PSU, Indian Railways Catering & Tourism Corporation Limited (IRCTC). IRCTC also plans to launch ASKDISHA in more languages along with many other additional features in the near future.

Chatbot: The chatbot is a special computer programme designed to simulate conversation with users, especially over the internet. It is the first-of-its-kind initiative by IRCTC. It is aimed at facilitating accessibility by answering users’ queries pertaining to various services offered to railway passengers.

PM-KISAN: It refers to Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi. It is a Central Sector scheme initiative by the government of India in which all farmers will get up to Rs 6,000 per year as minimum income support. The initiative was announced by Piyush Goyal during the 2019 Interim Union Budget of India on 1 February 2019.

Recently, on 24 February 2020 the successful completion of one year of PM-KISAN was celebrated. In order to commemorate its success, PM Kisan Mobile app was launched by the Union Minister for Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare, Rural Development & Panchayati Raj, Shri Narendra Singh Tomar.  PM Kisan Mobile App is launched to achieve GoI's goal of “Doubling Farmers’ Income by 2022” easily.

The main aim of PM Kisan Mobile App is to help farmers learn about their payment status, their eligibility towards a scheme and many other information.

RAISE 2020: It refers to ‘Responsible AI for Social Empowerment 2020. It is India’s first Artificial Intelligence summit to be organized by the Government in partnership with Industry and Academia.

Recently, the Government of India (GoI) announced the mega event, RAISE 2020 to be held from April 11-12 in New Delhi. The summit will be attended by experts of Artificial Intelligence from all over the world. The main focus of the summit will be to exchange ideas to use AI for social empowerment, inclusion and transformation in key areas like healthcare, education, agriculture, and smart mobility amongst other sectors. The main aim to implement AI in social transformation is that it will help in bringing regulatory changes. It will also improve the efficiency of workplaces.

Suposhit Maa Abhiyan: It is a scheme launched by the Lok Sabha speaker Shri Om Birla recently in Kota, Rajasthan. The scheme will cover the whole of India. The Scheme is launched to help India achieve its target of “Malnutrition Free India” by 2022. The main objective of this campaign is to provide nutritional support to pregnant women and adolescent girls. The initiative will not only look after the women till pregnancy but will also take care of their newborn children.

Under the scheme, around 1000 women will be given nutritional food for 1 month. At the same time, the health of the child, including medical examination, blood, medicine, delivery, will be taken care of.

This is being done to so that the future generation of India will be mentally and physically strong.

APEDA: It refers to The Agricultural and Processed Food products Export Development Authority. APEDA is an export promotion organization under Ministry of Commerce & Industries, Government of India. It is responsible for promotion and development of the export of its scheduled products. It was founded in 1986 and is headquartered in New Delhi. It works under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India (GoI).

Recently, APEDA signed MoUs with IIT Delhi, Quality Council of India (QCI) and Indian Chamber of Food and Agriculture (ICFA). The main objective of the MoU is to utilize its expertise to work together to boost the activities in the interest of agriculture and allied sectors to bring better value to the stakeholders.

The Agriculture Export Policy which was launched in 2018 was framed with a focus on agriculture export-oriented production, export promotion, better price realization to farmer and synchronization within policies and programmes of Government of India

ITPO: It refers to India Trade Promotion Organisation. ITPO is the nodal agency of the Government of India under aegis of Ministry of Commerce and Industry (India) for promoting country's external trade. It was founded on 1st April 1977. It is headquartered in New Delhi. The current Chairman of ITPO is LC Goyal.

Recently, The 35th edition of AAHAR - the Food and Hospitality fair began in New Delhi. The fair will be open from 3rd March to 7th March 2020.

This 5 day-long fair was organized by India Trade Promotion Organisation, ITPO, with support of the Ministry of Food Processing Industries, Agriculture and Processed Food Products Development Authority and several apex industry associations.

A wide range of food products, machinery, hospitality, Food and Beverage Equipment and Decoration items, and Confectionery items from over 750 participants from India and overseas were presented at the fair.

The main aim of exhibitions like AAHAR not only promote but also transform the various sectors of the economy and are the lifeline for the exhibition industry. AAHAR is one of Asia’s best known brands in Food & Hospitality shows.

Fuel Humsafar: It is a mobile app for doorstep diesel delivery. Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar recently launched a mobile application ‘Fuel Humsafar’ for delivery of diesel at doorsteps of Housing societies, hotels and hospitals in the national capital region.

The app will be used for the fuel delivery services to housing societies, hospitals, hotels malls, construction sites, industries, banquets and other bulk buyers of diesel in various NCR cities, including Ghaziabad, Gurugram, Noida, Faridabad, Hapur, Kundli, Manesar, and Bahadurgarh. Humsafar has 12 bowser tankers in varying capacity from 4 kilolitres to 6 kilolitres and an experienced team of 35 people.

A new Innovative tech idea like ‘Humsafar’ aims to bring new technology and know-how to the market as well as generate employment that will positively impact the economy as well as the bulk consumers of diesel.

Delimitation Commission: Delimitation Commission or Boundary Commission is set up by the Government of India under the rules of the Constitution. It has been constituted 4 times in India. For the first time in 1952 under the Delimitation Commission Act, 1952. For the second time in 1963 under Delimitation Commission Act, 1962. For the third time in 1973 under Delimitation Act, 1972 and for the forth time in 2002 under Delimitation Act, 2002. Delimitation Commission is an independent commission that sets the size, boundary of Constituencies in India. It is a high power body whose orders have the force of law and cannot be called in question before any court. The main function of the commission is redrawing the boundaries of the various assembly and Lok Sabha constituencies based on a recent census. The Delimitation Commission is appointed by the President of India and works in collaboration with the Election Commission of India. At present it was appointed by the current President of India Ram Nath Kovind.

Recently, the Central Government, under the section 3 of the Delimitation Act, 2002, has set up a Delimitation Commission. It is formed under the former Supreme Court judge Ranjana Prakash Desai. It has been constituted to set up the delimitation of Assembly and Parliamentary constituencies of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and the northeastern states of Arunachal Pradesh(AP), Assam, Manipur and Nagaland.

The Delimitation for Jammu and Kashmir is to be carried out according to Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act, while for the northeastern states of Arunachal Pradesh(AP), Assam, Manipur and Nagaland will delimit the constituencies in accordance with the provisions of the Delimitation Act, 2002.

GoI: It refers to the Government of India. GoI has planned to create a total of 75 lakh Self Help Groups (SHGs) by 2022 to enable more women to get livelihood. This was announced by the Union Minister for Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare, Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, Shri Narendra Singh Tomar on the 8 March 2020. The announcement was made by him while addressing a programme on Women's Empowerment to mark International Women's Day in New Delhi. The main focus of the Ministry is towards women’s liberation. Under this programme the GoI is not only supporting women and rural population but also providing them with platforms like the Government e-Marketplace for fetching better prices for their products. The funds will be provided by the Government.

Women's Self Help Groups (SHGs): The SHGs are the backbone of poverty alleviation programmes. NABARD (National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development) introduced the concept of Self-Help Groups in 1992 under the guidelines of RBI. There are over 60 lakh SHGs across the country mobilizing more than six crore 73 lakh women. The SHGs not only help to promote Gender Equity, Social Integrity, Financial Inclusion and help raise voice of marginalized section but it also helps to improve efficiency of Government Schemes.

The most successful SHG project is the “Kudumbashree” project which was launched in the state of Kerala 1998.

Kisan Rail Scheme: It is a scheme that was introduced by the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman in the Union Budget 2020-21. The scheme was aimed at setting up a chain to transport highly perishable goods like meat, milk and fish through the public private partnership method. The Kisan Rail includes refrigerated coaches in Express and Freight trains.

Recently, the Union Government formed a committee for the implementation of Kisal Rail. The panel comprises the representatives from the railways and departments of the agriculture ministry. The function of the committee will be to monitor the creation of cold storage supply chain for perishable goods. The perishable goods are to be transported through freight and express trains with refrigerated coaches.

TRIFED:  It refers to Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India. TRIFED is a national-level apex organization. It functions under the Ministry of Tribal Affairs. It was founded in 1987. It works towards marketing development of tribal products and provides marketing support to the products made by tribals through a network of retail outlets. The current Managing Director of TRIFED is Pravir Kumar.

Recently, TRIFED launched “Tech for Tribal” initiative. It was launched on 19th March 2020 by TRIFED along with IIT-Kanpur along with IIT-Roorkee, IIM Indore, Kalinga Institute of Social Science, Bhubaneshwar and SRIJAN. This programme is supported by Ministry of MSME. The main objective of the initiative is to provide entrepreneurship skills to the tribal people enrolled under the Pradhan Mantri VanDhan Yojana(PMVDY).

TRIFED has drawn out a Five Year strategy for 10X impact in Tribal development. This initiative in later stages will be linked to Van Dhan Vikas Kendra (VDVK). The main aim of VDVKs is to provide capacity building and skill upgradation.

PMVDY: It refers to Pradhan Mantri Van Dhan Yojana. PMVDY is an initiative of the GoI that was launched in 2018 in 27 states. The Scheme aims to strengthen tribal producer companies. TRIFED is the nodal agency implementing the scheme.

APEDA: It stands for Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority. APEDA is an apex body under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India. It is responsible for the export promotion of agricultural products. It was founded in 1986. It is headquartered in New Delhi.

Recently, APEDA inked a MoU with Small Farmers Agribusiness Consortium(SFAC) for the development of agriculture sector. The MoU aims to uplift the Small Farmers Agribusiness Consortium(SFAC) and create awareness programs, outreach programs and workshops of various stakeholders.

As per the MoU, both APEDA and SFAC will work together to link  the FPOs with the exporters. APEDA will also facilitate certification of organic produce/areas by the Farmer Producer Companies (FPCs) assisted or identified by SFAC.

National Technical Textile Mission: The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the proposal for creation of National Technical Textiles Mission for a period of 4 years (2020-21 to 2023-24) with an outlay of Rs.1480 crores. The National Technical Textiles Mission will have four components which are research, innovation and development, promotion and market development, export promotion and education, and training and skill development.

The focus of the Mission is on the development in usage of technical textiles in various flagship missions as well as programmes of the country. The main objective of the mission is an overall improvement in cost economy, water and soil conservation along with better agricultural productivity and higher income to farmers per acre of land.

The mission will also add to the promotion of manufacturing and exports activities in India. The use of geo-textiles in highways, railways and ports will result in robust infrastructure, reduced maintenance cost and higher life cycle of the infrastructure assets.

The work of the Mission is not only the promotion of innovation amongst young engineering /technology/ science standards and graduates along with creation of innovation and incubation centres and promotion of start-up and Ventures but also to generate 2 lakhs jobs in organized/ unorganized sector in the country along with holistic development of entire technical textile sector on pan-India basis.

Current Affairs in Indian Policy - Feburary 2020

GATI Portal: It is a Web Portal that has been created by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) on the pattern of ‘PRAGATI’. It can be accessed from NHAI Website.

Recently, the Union Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari recently launched online Web Portal ‘GATI’ to monitor roads and highways projects. Its aim is to monitor daily the projects or construction-related issues on this portal raised by Contractors or concessionaires and also the problems raised in regard to the above mentioned issues by them.

The GATI portal will be reviewed by senior officials of the ministry which will bring transparency and speed up the decision making.

A total of 500 projects (including delayed ones) costing around Rs 3 lakh crore were taken up for review during the meeting.

NHAI: It stands for National Highways Authority of India. It is an autonomous agency of the Government of India. It was founded in 1988. It is responsible for management of a network of over 50,000 km of National Highways out of 1,15,000 km in India. The current chaiman of NHAI is Sukhbir Singh sindhu.

MGNREGA Scheme: It refers to Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. It was initially known as National Rural Employment Guarantee Act 2005 (NREGA). It was later renamed as the "Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act", (MGNREGA). It is an Indian labour law and social security measure that aims to guarantee the 'right to work'. This act was passed in September 2005. It aims to enhance livelihood security in rural areas by providing at least 100 days of wage employment in a financial year to every household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work.

Recently, MGNREGA Scheme made headlines as it is running out of funds. As per the reports published in the national daily, more than 96% of the sanctioned amount is already used up.

RFID Tags: It stands for Radio-frequency identification tags. The RFID is a technology where an antenna broadcasts energy to the tag, which in turn returns the modulated energy back in the form of back-scatter. RFID tag uses electromagnetic fields to track and identify various objects. Each RFID tag consists of a small radio transponder, a transmitter, and a radio receiver. The information sent by the RFID tag is decoded by a RIFD reader.

The RFID tag can be affixed to any object to track and monitor assents, people and inventory. It is generally affixed to the computer equipment, cars, passenger trains or buses, books, etc. It is faster than barcodes as RFID can be read several times while barcodes can be read one at a time.

Recently, Indian Railways announced that it will equip all coaches and engines with radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags. Around 3, 50,000 passenger coaches and freight coaches of the railways will be equipped with RFID tags for their smart monitoring by 2021. This project is being taken by the Rolling Stock Department of Indian Railways (IR).

The main aim of the RFID project is to automatically and accurately track and trace rolling stock as they move across the country with a particular focus on improving their safety and reliability.

A rolling stock includes carriages, locomotives, wagons and other vehicles used in Railways.

In order to tag the rolling stocks and collect their tracking data, the Indian Railways has joined hands with GS1 India and Indian industry. The tie up has been made under “Make in India” initiative to create a new segment in the AIDC (Automatic Identification and Data Collection) industry in India uniquely suited for the Indian Railways requirements.

CRIS: It refers to Centre for Railway Information Systems. The CRIS develops and maintains information systems of Indian Railways. CRIS is headquartered in Chanakyapuri, New Delhi. It was established in 1986.

India and Brazil: India inked 15 agreements with Brazil on 25th January 2020 to boost cooperation in multiple fields including bio-energy, cyber security, health and medicine, between the two countries. The MoU was signed during the talks held beween India's Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro.

President of Brazil Jair Messias Bolsonaro who arrived in New Delhi on four-day state visit to India is also the chief guest at the 2020 Republic Day of India celebrations. The main focus of the talks was on boosting bilateral trade and investment as both the large economies were hit by global economic slowdown. An action plan has been finalized to further expand strategic ties between the two strategic partners.

PFRDA: It refers to the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority. The PFRDA is a statutory body. It is the pension regulator of India. It was established by Government of India on 23 August 2003 and was authorized by Ministry of Finance, Department of Financial Services. It is headquartered in New Delhi. The Chairperson of PFRDA is Hemant G. Contractor.

Recently, PFRDA, the regulator of the National Pension System (NPS), has made certain amendments in the pension guidelines. It has doubled the minimum net worth criterion for pension fund managers to Rs 50 crore from Rs 25 crore. This enhancement in the minimum net worth criterion for pension fund managers will bring pension funds on par with mutual funds which have to meet a minimum net worth requirement of Rs 50 crores as per Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) rules.

Provision for licenses to have indefinite validity has also been made so that it will help the pension sector to grow to new levels. Previously, the licenses of pension fund managers was granted for a period of 5 years but now the license will remain valid until it is cancelled by the regulator.

Ministry of Tourism: The Ministry of Tourism, a branch of the Government of India, is the apex body for formulation and administration of the rules, regulations and laws relating to the development and promotion of tourism in India. It was founded in 1967 and is headquartered in New Delhi. This Ministry is headed by the Union Minister of State for Tourism (Independent Charge) Prahlad Singh Patel.

Recently, in order to provide an impetus to tourism the Ministry of Tourism sanctioned 7 projects worth Rs. 594 Crores for UTs of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. It was sanctioned under its schemes of Swadesh Darshan and PRASHAD which provides financial assistance to State Governments / UT Administrations, including J&K and Ladakh, for development of tourism infrastructure.

MPEDA: It refers to Marine Products Export Development Authority. MPEDA is a company of the Government of India. It is headquartered at Kochi. It was constituted on 24 August 1972, under the Marine Products Export Development Authority Act 1972 (No. 13 of 1972). MPEDA functions under the Department of Commerce, Government of India and acts as a coordinating agency with different Central and State Government establishments engaged in fishery production and allied activities. The role of MPEDA under the statute is comprehensive - covering fisheries of all kinds, increasing exports, specifying standards, processing, marketing, extension and training in various aspects of the industry.

Recently, MPEDA along with the Central government has proposed to take up the upgradation and modernization of 25 fishing harbours in the country. The estimated outlay of the project is Rs.2500 crore. The Project aims to increase the value addition of marine products which was around 5% in India compared with 50% in South East Asian countries.

Under the project, two harbours namely Thoppumpady in Kochi, Kerala and Nizampatnam in Andhra Pradesh would be developed into harbours of international standards in the first phase of the modernisation programme.

The project includes preparation of the detailed project report (DPR) for harbour modernisation. The work for this project has been entrusted to Ernst and Young.

After getting approval for the Detailed Project Planning (DPR), MPEDA plans to form a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for the implementation of the project.

National Workshop on e-office: Recently, the Union Minister of State for Development of North Eastern Region (I/C), Prime Minister’s Office, Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space Dr Jitendra Singh inaugurated National Workshop on e-office in Parvasi Bhartiya Kendra, Chankyapuri, New Delhi. He also launched the Centralized Public Grievance Redress And Monitoring System (CPGRAMS) Reforms at the event.

The main objective of the Workshop is to create a nation-wide momentum for the creation of e-Office across the State Secretariats.

Delivering the Key Note address at the National Workshop on e-Office, DR Jitendra Singh said that public grievances has increased from 2 lakh in 2014 to 19 lakh at present with more than 95 percent disposal of cases. The Government of India in 2019 has received 18.7 lakh public grievances and disposed 18.1 lakh of them.

CPGRAMS: It refers to the Centralized Public Grievance Redress And Monitoring System. The CPGRAMS aligns with the Government of India’s vision of “Minimum Government-Maximum Governance”. Many States have pursued digitalization of files and creation of Digital State Secretariats. The 7.0 version of CPGRAMS has mapped the last mile grievance. The mapping has not only saved the time of officers but also has improved the quality of disposal of cases.

Many States including Odisha with OSWAS, Rajasthan with RaajKaaj and Andra Pradesh with e Office have pursued digitalization of files and creation of Digital State Secretariats.

Coal Ministry: The Ministry of Coal is an Indian government ministry. It is headquartered in New Delhi. The Minister responsible for the Coal Ministry is the Cabinet Minister Mr Pralhad Joshi.

Recently, Ministry of Coal (MoC) launched NIC developed web portal for star rating of coal mines to promote the green, safe and sustainable coal mining practices in India with the help of technology. The online web portal ‘Star Rating of Coal Mines' was launched by the Minister for Coal, Mines and Parliamentary Affairs, Shri Pralhad Joshi in New Delhi. This web portal will provide star rating of coal mines. The mines with highest star rating score will be awarded in a public ceremony. An official certificate to all the mines mentioning their star rating will also be issued by the Coal Controller’s Organization.

According to the new system, the mines scoring between 91% and 100% will get 5 star, below 91% and above 81% will receive 4 stars, 71 to 80% will get 3 stars, 61 to 70% will get 2 stars, 41 to 60% 1 star, mines that score from 0 to 40% will get No star on the portal. The Star Rating Policy for Coal Mines in India has been formulated by the Ministry of Coal. The coal mines will be provided with login id to self evaluate themselves by submitting required documents.

This policy assesses the Mines on 50 evaluation parameters (in case of Opencast Mines) and 47 evaluation parameters (in case of Underground Mines) under 7 modules .

India and Portugal: India and Portugal signed 14 agreements to boost during the State visit of the Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa. The agreement was signed after detailed high-level talks between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa in New Delhi to to boost cooperation in a range of areas including defence, investment, transport, ports, aerospace and scientific research, culture and industrial and intellectual property rights and yoga. Agreements were also signed on developing a world class national maritime heritage complex at Lothal. The Government of India (GoI) has also allocated funds for this joint venure.

India and Portugal share a very special relationship as both the countries enjoy 500 years of shared history and are closely tied together through Goa and Mumbai, through our culture, language and kinship.

Mandya: It is place that is 100 km away from Bengaluru, Karnataka. It is here that the researchers at the India’s Atomic Energy Commission have found Lithium Reserves of 14,100 tonnes in Mandya. Lithium is a very rare metal and is mainly used in manufacturing batteries for electric vehicles.

The reserves found are very little as compared to the world’s leading producers of Lithium. Of the major producers Chile produces 8.6 million tonnes, Australia produces 2.8 million tonnes and 1.7 million tonnes in Argentina.

India requires lithium for its energy needs as the Government of India is promoting clean-energy vehicles in India. India has imported lithium batteries worth $1.2 billion in fiscal 2019, against $384 million in FY17. GoI is on the path of implementing 1.4 billion USD plan to make India a manufacturing hub of electric vehicles.

National Economic Census: The process of the economic census was first held in 1978. Indian Economic Census is the census of the Indian economy counting the entrepreneurial units involved in agricultural, non-agricultural or any other economic activity. The economic census provides detailed information on operational and other characteristics such as number of establishments, number of persons employed, source of finance, type of ownership etc.

Recently, the Seventh Economic Census was launched in the National Capital Territory of Delhi by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation. It is for the first time the entire census is being conducted on a digital platform by the use of an application which will ensure high accuracy and data security. The Ministry has tied up with Common Service Centres Network (CSCN) for the digital implementation of the census.

Delhi is the 26th State where the survey has been launched. The process is already on in 20 States and five Union Territories.

Union Cabinet: The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Modi approved revamping of Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) and Restructured Weather Based Crop Insurance Scheme (RWBCIS). The revamping was approved to address the existing challenges in the implementation of Crop Insurance Schemes

The changes are expected not only to help the farmers to manage risk in agriculture production but also to succeed in stabilizing the farm income. It also aims to increase coverage in the northeastern region. It will enable accurate yield estimation leading to faster claims settlement.

Current Affairs in Indian Policy - January 2020

FoPL: It stands for Front Of Packet Labeling. It refers to symbols and rating systems, including shelf-tag labels, which are designed to summarize the key nutritional characteristics of food products. Front-of-package labels have been proposed as an approach to help consumers make healthier food choices at the point of purchase. It is also an important policy tool for countries to help consumers to make healthier food choices. India for the first time included FoPL within the draft for Food Safety and Standards (Libeling and Display Regulations), 2019. FoPL seeks to make consumers aware about products that are high in sugar, fat and salt content. It consists of two aspects namely- threshold limit and the way the limit is depicted on packets of processed food. The thresholds are based on World Health Organization norms developed after years of deliberations for countries like India.

Pawan Kumar Agarwal, chief executive of Food Safety Standards Association of India (FSSAI) which is the country’s apex food regulatory has announced that the front of packet labeling will be delinked from its general labeling regulation.

Delinking: It means cutting off or breaking the connection. The decision of delinking the FoPL from labeling regulations was made because the thresholds that the companies follow were not up to Indian Standards. As per the report of Centre for Science and Environment- the 33 foods, 19 fast foods, four different types of wrapped sandwiches, fried chicken, pizza which was tested showed high content of salt and fat in the food items. FASSAI will now set a new threshold for FoPL which needs to be defined across the food categories. 

BCPL: It refers to Brahmaputra Cracker and Polymer Limited. It is a central public sector undertaking. It is implementing the Assam Gas Cracker Project, which is seen as part of the implementation of the Assam peace accord signed on 15 August 1985, with a view to bring socioeconomic development of region and would also give impetus to the development of the northeastern region.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the transfer of administrative control of Brahmaputra Cracker and Polymer (BCPL), the Central Public Sector Undertaking implementing the Assam Gas Cracker Project (AGCP) from Department of Chemicals & Petrochemicals to Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas (MOP&NG).

CCS: It refers to Chief of Defense Staff. The CCS chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the creation of a Chief of Defense Staff (CDS) post that will function as a single point of contact for different branches of armed forces and as the Principal Military Adviser to the Defense Minister on tri-service matters. A report by a high-level committee headed by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, which finalized responsibilities and framework for operation of CDS has also been approved by the CCS. Bipin Rawat at present is the Chairman of Chiefs of Staff Committee (CSC) is Chief of Army Staff (CoAS). However, he does not function in capacity of a CDS. The government is likely to appoint the country's first CDS in the next few days

CDS: It refers to Chief of Defence Staff. The cabinet has approved the creation of the post of chief of defence staff. The CDS will be a four-star general who maybe from the Army, the Air Force or the Navy. His salary will be equal to that of the service chief. CDS will head the department of military affairs. The department will be created under Defense Ministry. Described as 'first among equals' among service chiefs, the CDS will be tasked with trimming weapons procurement procedures and integrating operation of the armed forces. It will also serve as the unified military advisor to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense.

The CDS will not exercise any military command over the three service chiefs. The post will have a fixed term that has yet to be determined. All P-5 nations - the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council - have equivalent posts.

Kargil Review Committee: It is a committee that was set up after Kargil War (1999), to examine lapses in security after war, in which Pakistani soldiers infiltrated into India, occupied key positions in Kargil Mountains and triggered the war. CDS to oversee military was first recommended by the Kargil Review Committee. In a landmark military reform, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 15 announced from the Red Fort that India would have a CDS as head of the tri-services.

Good Governance Day: It is observed on the birth anniversary of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. On the occasion of the Good Governance Day, Dr. Jitendra Singh launched the Good Governance Index (GGI) at the event organized by the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions.

GGI: It refers to Good Governance Index. It is a scientifically designed uniform tool across states to assess the status of governance and impact of various interventions and union territories. GGI seeks to provide a reference threshold for future documentation of good governance index. The other objectives of the GGI is also to give quantifiable data,  to compare the state of governance in all states and UTs, enable them to formulate and implement suitable strategies for improving governance & shift to result-oriented approaches.

The ten sectors that the GGI considers are- Agriculture and Allied Sectors, Commerce & Industries, Human Resource Development, Public Health,  Public Infrastructure & Utilities, Economic Governance, Social Welfare & Development, Judicial & Public Security, Environment and Citizen-Centric Governance. The states and UTs are divided into three groups: a). Big States, b). North-East & Hill States and c). UTs.

Tamil Nadu topped in Good Governance Index in the “Big States” category, Himachal Pradesh ranked first In the North East and hill states category, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram and Daman and Diu ranked first in the agricultural ranking and  Delhi, Uttarakhand and Jharkhand ranked first under the category of commerce and industries.

Mega Infrastructure Plan: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has unveiled infrastructure projects worth Rs 102 lakh crore rupees that will be implemented in the next five years as a part of the government giving a push to infrastructure development for India.

The massive infrastructure plan is for boosting Indian economic growth by the Government which involves railway project of INR 14 lakh crore, energy project of INR 25 lakh crore and INR of 20 lakh crore projects. The central government has also started a National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP) for the first time in India. The Finance Minister released the Report of the Task Force on National Infrastructure Pipeline for 2019-2025. The NIP follows a commitment by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his Independence Day speech, that more than Rs 100 trillion would be invested in India’s infrastructure over the next five years.

TRAI: It refers to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. TRAI is an independent regulatory body established by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act 1997 to oversee the telecommunications industry in India. It is headquartered in New Delhi.

TRAI has made amendments to the new regulatory framework for cable and broadcasting services with a view to protect consumer interests. Under this new regulatory framework the cable TV users will be able to access more channels at lower subscription price. It has capped the amount consumers will have to pay monthly for all free to air channels at Rs 160.

The new rules are part of the changes the regulator has made to its 2017 tariff order for broadcasting and cable TV services and they will be effective from 1 March 2020.

NITI Ayog: It is the think tank of the Government of India. (GoI). NITI Aayog has pitched for enactment of the National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill, 2017, observing that regulatory bodies that is- the Medical Council of India and the Nursing Council of India have failed to ensure adequate availability and quality of health professionals. So to address the shortage of qualified doctors and bridge gap in medical education, the Ayog has released its Draft "Model Concession Agreement for Setting Up Medical Colleges under Public Private Partnership (PPP)" guideline document to link new or existing private medical colleges with functional district hospital to augment medical seats. A concession agreement has been developed based on international best practices and similar PPP arrangements that are operative in Gujarat and Karnataka.

The PPP model seeks to ensure high quality and timely provision of services. They will also help in speeding up Government projects and provide better public services.

CACS & e-BCAS projects: It refers to two e-Governance projects. Union Minister for Civil Aviation Hardeep Singh Puri has launched the Biometric enabled Centralized Access Control System (CACS) and ‘e-BCAS Project Training Module’ to enhance security and ease of doing business at airports. These two projects were launched these projects in the presence of senior officials of the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS).

CACS: It refers to Centralized Access Control System. This multi-layered security system encompasses the uniqueness of the Airport Entry Permit (AEP) users, biometric authentication in addition to PIN-based identity verification through contactless smart card technology. The main objective of CACS is to digitize the employee movement process at the airports. The project also aims to facilitate the ease of processing, enhanced security and prevent unauthorized entry into airport and alert authorities to an attempted intrusion or other irregularities for immediate response.

e-BCAS: It is a Training Module which seeks to make all the activities in the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) transparent, user-friendly, efficient and provide an ease of doing business with the stakeholders. The ‘e-BCAS’ project's objective is not only to achieve a paperless office under the e-Governance initiative of Government of India but also assist more than 1.5 lac employees of various stakeholders to migrate from the manual process of training to digital platform.

GoI: It refers to the Government of India. GoI signed MoU with Wal-Mart owned e-commerce firm Flipkart for selling the products made by women self-help groups under the scheme- Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Urban Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NULM) on e-commerce platform. With this MoU, women self-help groups, under DAY-NULM, will be able to sell their products online to customers across the country making them financially independent.

DAY_NULM: It is the abbreviation of Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Urban Livelihoods Mission. DAY-NULM is a scheme where the women work towards reducing urban poverty through strong community institutions, skill training, access to affordable credit for self-employment, support for street vendors resulting in an appreciable improvement in their livelihoods on a sustainable basis, through building strong grassroots level institutions of the poor.

APEDA:It is an acronym for Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority. APEDA is an apex body under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India and is responsible for the export promotion of agricultural products. It is mandated with the responsibility of promotion and development of the export of its scheduled products. It was formed in 1986 and it’s headquartered in New Delhi.

In a statement APEDA on 5th January 2020 announced that eight states namely Maharashtra, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Nagaland, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Punjab and Karnataka have finalized their action plan for Agriculture Export Policy (AEP) with an aim to double export as well as the income of the farmer. APEDA has been adopting a focused approach for ensuring greater involvement of the state governments for effective implementation of Agri Export Policy (AEP). The AEP was approved by the Union Cabinet in 2018.

To ensure effective implementation of Aep, APEDA held a series of meetings with state government officials and other stakeholders for preparation of state action plan which included all essential components like production clusters, capacity building, infrastructure and logistics and research and development and budget requirements for the implementation of AEP. State level monitoring committees have been formed in many of the states and cluster visits have been made by APEDA nodal officers to several product clusters. The product clusters selected are Jalandhar,(Potato), Sangli,(Grapes), Salem, (Poultry products), Theni, (Banana), Chittoor, (Mango), Indore, (Onion), Jodhpur, (Isabgol) and Chikkaballapur, (Rose Onion).

The states have setup a market intelligence cell in APEDA that reports the activity of e-market intelligence comprising of detailed market analysis, international trade issues, current scenario of the interest to Indian exporters in important markets and statistical information.

APEDA has signed a MoU with the National Cooperative Development Corporation to include co-operatives for their active role in AEP. It has also set up a ‘Farmer Connect Portal’ on its website to provide a platform for Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs) and Farmer Producer Companies (FPCs) to interact with exporters. Over 800 FPOs have been registered on the portal already. The policy aims to double agricultural exports from 30 billion USD to 60 billion USD by 2022.

India and UK: The Union Cabinet chaired by the PM Narendra Modi approved the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between India and the United Kingdom on 8 January 2020 for enabling self-sufficiency for Indian railways. It was signed by the Ministry of Railways with Department for International Development and the Government of the United Kingdom on December 2, 2019. Under the agreement, the two nations agreed to jointly work towards adopting energy efficiency practices, enabling Fuel efficiency.

The objective of the MoU is to integrate renewable energy into electricity grid of railways. Workshops trainings and technological exchanges on emerging technologies on renewable energy will be conducted with the help of the UK Government. It will also aid in deploying Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure.

India and Sweden: The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, apprised of the Agreement on cooperation in polar science between the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), India and Ministry of Education and Research, Sweden. The agreement was signed on 2nd December 2019 during the visit of Their Majesties of the Kingdom of Sweden to India.

India and Sweden are signatories to the Antarctic Treaty and Protocol to the Antarctic Treaty on Environmental Protection. Sweden, one of the eight Arctic states is a member state in the Arctic Council while India has the observer status in the Arctic Council.AS both the nations has a vigorous scientific program in the Polar Regions, both in Arctic and Antarctic so the collaboration between India and Sweden will enable the sharing of expertise between them.

India and BMGF: The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has given its ex-post-facto approval on the Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) between Department of Health & Family Welfare (DOHFW), Government of India and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) on cooperation in the field of Health. The agreement was signed in November, 2019 during the visit of Mr. Bill Gates, Co-Chair and Trustee of BMGF to Delhi. The BMGF agreed to work with the Ministry to strengthen health sector of the country.

The MoC aims to reduce child mortality, morbidity, maternal mortality and neonatal mortality, reduce burden of diseases such as Lymphatic Filariasis, Visceral Leishmaniasis and TB, improve quality of family planning methods, and to strengthen health systems, including aspects such as budget utilization, management and skills of human resources for health, digital health, strengthening supply chains and monitoring systems.

A Program Action Committee (PAC) is to be set up to further elaborate the details of cooperation and to oversee the implementation of this Memorandum of Cooperation.

India and France: The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has given its approval for the ratification of Migration and Mobility Partnership Agreement between India and France. The Agreement was signed in March, 2018 during the State Visit of the French President to India and it is valid for 7 years and incorporates provisions for auto-renewal.

The agreement not only aims to foster the mobility of students, researchers, academics, and skilled professionals between the countries but also strengthen cooperation on issues including human trafficking and irregular migration.

The Agreement marks India's expanded multi-faceted relationship and confidence with France.

India-Mongolia: On January 8, 2020, the Union Cabinet chaired by PM Modi approved the agreement between India and Mongolia to explore outer space for civilian and peaceful purposes. The agreement was signed on September 20, 2019 in New Delhi during the state visit of President of Mongolia to India.

This Agreement shall enable cooperation in the potential fields such as, space science, technology and applications including remote sensing of the earth, satellite communication and satellite based navigation, Space science and planetary exploration, use of spacecraft and space systems and ground system, and application of space technology.

Under the agreement, there is a plan to set up a Joint Working Group, drawing members from Department of Space (DOS) and Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and Communications and Information Technology Authority of the Government of Mongolia. The joint working group will chalk out the plan of action and the means of implementing the agreement.

APEDA: It refers to Agricultural and Processed Food Products Development Authority. It is an export promotion organization under Ministry of Commerce & Industries, Government of India. It was established in 1986. It is headquartered in New Delhi. It is mandated with the responsibility of promotion and development of the export of its scheduled products.

Recently, APEDA (Agricultural and Processed Food Products Development Authority) has added 135 laboratories to the existing 51 laboratory. With this initiative, the total number of agricultural product testing laboratories in the country has increased to 186. The new laboratories installed in states with high agricultural potential includes 35 in Maharashtra, 23 in Gujarat, 10 in Andhra Pradesh & Telangana, 23 in Tamil Nadu and 17 in Karnataka. This initiative is important as Laboratory testing requirements are crucial in agri export supply chain.

To further strengthen the laboratory network, APEDA has taken a policy decision for simplification of APEDA recognition of laboratories. It has been decided that the laboratories which are National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) accredited will be recognized by APEDA. These laboratories will be added in the network of APEDA recognition laboratories.

This policy aims to enable the exporters to have easy access to the laboratories for testing of APEDA scheduled products for exports.

NITI Aayog: It is an abbreviation for National Institution for Transforming India. The NITI Aayog is a policy think tank of the Government of India, founded on 1 January 2015. NITI Aayog was established in 2015 replacing Planning Commission. It was established with the aim to achieve sustainable development goals with cooperative federalism by fostering the involvement of State Governments of India in the economic policy-making process using a bottom-up approach. The Chair person of NITI Aayog is the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi. The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NITI Aayog is Shri Amitabh Kant and the Vice-Chairperson of the council is Dr. Rajiv Kumar.

Recently, the Vice-Chairman of NITI Aayog Dr. Rajiv Kumar released its vision for the National Data and Analytics Platform (NDAP).

The platform aims to democratize access to publicly available government data which will be powered by a user friendly search engine, backed by seamless navigation, with a world class user interface.

It will not only host the latest datasets from various government websites, present them coherently, and provide tools for analytics and visualization but will also follow a user-centric approach and will enable data access in a simple and intuitive portal tailored to the needs of a variety of stakeholders.

Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) will be developed to keep data updated and there will be a Technical Advisory Group (TAG) consisting of sector and technology experts to provide guidance on the development of the platform, management of data, and aligning the platform for user-needs.

The first version of the platform is expected to be launched by the year 2021.

PRAGATI: It stands for Pro-Active Governance and Timely Implementation, involving Central and State governments. It is an ICT based multi-modal platform which is a unique intefrating and interactive platform. It was launched by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi on 25th March 2015. The aim of PRAGATI is to address common man's grievances, and to simultaneously monitor and review important programmes and projects of the Government of India as well as Projects flagged by State Governments.

Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired the 32nd PRAGATI interaction and discussed progress of several projects. Among these projects, 9 were delayed projects worth Rs. 24000 that are related to Railways, Road Transport and Highways and Petroleum and Natural Gas.

The progress under insurance schemes of Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana (PMJJBY) and Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana(PMSBY), the resolution of grievance redressal related to 47 government programmes and schemes across 17 diverse sectors and the progress under Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems project- a comprehensive and integrated system for effective policing through e-Governance was also reviewed.

India & Ghana: Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOCL) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Ghana's National Petroleum Authority (NPA) on 23 January 2020 at Shastri Bhawan, New Delhi. The MoU was signed in the presence of Oil Minister Dharmendra pradhan and Michael Aaron, High Commissioner of Ghana to India.

The purpose of this MOU is to strengthen cooperation between both the countires as well as in the field of Petroleum in particular LPG in which by IOC would support the NPA on the successful implementation of the Re-circulation Model (CRM) of LPG. IOC will support to NPA in development of health, safety, security and environment (HSSE) standards as well as design licensing, permit and legal framework. It will help NPA develop economics for LPG bottling plant, pricing structure, and communication strategies. It will also Provide assistance in areas of infrastructure development for the new LPG value chain, support for upgrading capacities of institutions along with policy development and review.

Inspired by the success of Indian government’s flagship programme Ujjwala, Ghana had sought India’s help to build a similar distribution infrastructure in their country.

PMUY: It refers to Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana. PMUY was launched by Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi on 1 May 2016 to distribute 50 million LPG connections to women of BPL (below the poverty line) families. It was launched to safeguard health of children and women by replacing firewood with LPG. 8 crore cooking gas connection were provided to poor women in less than 3 years.

CCEA: It refers to Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs. CCEA has a mandate to review economic trends on a continuous basis, as also the problems and prospects, with a view to evolving a consistent and integrated economic policy framework for the country. The Prime Minister is the head of this committee. Cabinet ministers of various ministries are its members. Its important functions are to direct and coordinate the governmental activities in the economic sphere.

Recently, the CCEA chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved the proposal of legislative Department in allowing the Election Commission of India (ECI) to enter into Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) with Independent High Authority for Elections of Tunisia (ISIE) and the Papua New Guinea Electoral Commission(PNGEC) for elections for cooperation in the field of electoral management and administration. The MoU aims to provide technical assistance and capacity support for the ISIE and PNGEC for elections and also for cooperation in the field of electoral management and administration in their respective countries.

The Cabinet has also approved the agreements in the field of mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters, cooperation in the field of early childhood care, oil and natural gas, and Geology and Mineral Resources between India and Brazil. The MOUs aims to strengthen relations and promote bilateral cooperation.

MoRD: It refers to the Ministry of Rural Development. MoRD is a branch of the Government of India. It is entrusted with the task of accelerating the socio-economic development of rural India. Its focus is on health, education, drinking water, housing and roads. The current Minster of MoRD is Narendra Singh Tomar.

Recently, the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) under the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana, National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM). The MoU was signed by Alka Upadhyaya, Additional Secretary, MoRD and by Alkesh Wadhwani on behalf of the Gates Foundation.

The MoU aims to strengthen grassroots institutions of the rural poor. The aim of DAY-NRLM is to reduce poverty through institutions of marginalized rural women for promotion of gainful self-employment while creating skilled wage employment opportunities. The MoU not only seeks to remove barriers such as poor health, gender inequality and lack of opportunities for women entrepreneurship but also provide them access to financial institutions and markets. The Mou will also help the Ministry to use of the expertise of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and leverage its network, to provide technical assistance and support to the DAY-NRLM.

Current Affairs in Indian Policy - September 2019

  • UNMID, NIDAN : UNMID refers to the Unique Methods of Management and treatment of Inherited Disorders whereas NIDAN refers National Inherited Diseases Administration. The Union Minister for Science & Technology, Earth Sciences and Health & Family Welfare, Dr. Harsh Vardhan todaylaunched UMMID initiative and inaugurated NIDAN (National Inherited Diseases Administration) Kendras, which is being supported by Department of Biotechnology (DBT),M/o Science and Technology to tackle themenace of genetic diseases in newborns. The main aim of UNMID initiaive is the expensive treatment of genetic diseases in newborns cheaper so that it is within the reach of all the people. The NIDAN kendras have been established under the UMMID initiative. These centres will provide counselling, prenatal testing / diagnosis and management in government hospitals of the country. Another objective is to produce skilled technicians in Human genetics to screen pregnant women and newborn babies for inherited genetic diseases. Five NIDAN kendras have been launched and established.
  • KCST:It refers to Kalam Centre for Science and Technology. The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Ministry of Defence and Central University of Jammu (CUJ) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the establishment of Kalam Centre for Science and Technology (KCST) at the university. The MoU was signed in a ceremony was held in the presence of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in New Delhi. The main objective of the MoU is to undertake and facilitate multidisciplinary directed basic and applied research and technology development in the identified research verticals,specifically the computational system security and sensors. KCST will also be equipped with state-of-the-art facilities and equipment leading to increase in research scholars in these areas.
  • Krishi Kisan Mobile app and CHC Farm Machinery :: Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Narendra Singh Tomar on Tuesday launching two mobile apps – CHC Farm Machinery and Krishi Kisan App for Geo-Tagging - for farmers to have easy access to high value and technical agricultural equipment at their doorstep. The apps were launched with an aim to help farmers take benefit of field demonstration of new farm technologies, seed hubs as well as weather advisories. The Minister encouraged the farmers to utilize these services for betterment of their cultivation methods and thereby ensuring higher agricultural productivity.
  • Krishi Kisan App ::Krishi Kisan App will provide farmers information of best demonstration of high-yielding crops and seeds at nearby area. Officials in the Ministry Informed that Farmer with high quality of crops can demonstrate his best practices of cultivation to other farmers so that production of these farmers could increase to a significant level. Besides providing demonstration of high-yielding variety (HYV) of crops and seeds the App will also help in geo-fencing and geo-tagging of crop.It isfree of cost and can be downloaded easily. The Farmers have to login and get details of nearest crop demonstration fields. The government is distributing seed mini-kits to farmers for multiplication and since as they are geo-tagged, the government can track whether mini-kits are being used or not. This app will also be useful in provinding the farmers information about the weather forecast. Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh), Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh), Rajkot (Gujarat), and Nanded (Maharasthra) will be provided farm level weather advisory on a pilot basis by the government.
  • CHC App :: The Custom Hiring Service Centers or CHC App will allow farmers to avail the custom hiring services of CHCs located in the radius of 50 Kilometers. This App will help small level farmers to get agriculture Machinery on rental basis to enhance their production. The App will connect the farmers with Custom Hiring Service Centers in their area.
  • Project Gaushala: Cows are considered as very holy in India. She is Gau Mata' and is a sign of faith and pride. So for the conservation of cows the 'Project Gaushala' is started by the Government where it offers cows for adoption online. Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh has become the latest state to allow people to adopt cows. Kamal Nath government in MP has proposed various options for people wanting to adopt cows. This includes adopting a cow for a minimum of 15 days to the animal’s lifetime. Those willing to adopt a cow for a lifetime will have to pay Rs 3 lakh, for a year will have to pay Rs 21,000, for a month will have to pay Rs 2,100 and those willing to adopt for 15 days will have to pay Rs 1,100. They will be able to choose the one nearest to their home and can check on progress. Even NRI's can adopt a cow. This step was taken by the Government as there are nearly 7 lakh abandoned cattle in MP alone where 13 lakh are left on streets by rearers during the day and it is the same case in other states also, therefore Gaushalas manages to house atleast 75% of stray cattle. In June the government had also stated that any person or organisations wanting to open gaushalas will be given the right to use government land.
  • 13 September 2019 Current Affairs: Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Pradhan Mantri Laghu Vyaparik Mandhan Yojana and Swarojgar pension schemes in Jharkhand during his visit. During his visit, he also laid the foundation for the new building of Jharkhand Secretariat. To avail this scheme the beneficiaries must be between 18 and 40 years. All shopkeepers, self-employed persons, and retail traders whose GST turnover is below Rs.1.5 crore will be eligible. The eligible beneficiary will get Rs.3,000 per month after completing 60 years of age. In the Union Budget 2019-20, the Central Government has allocated Rs.750 crore for the scheme. Centre also has chosen Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) of India as a pension fund manager. LIC will be responsible for managing the pension fund, Central record keeping agency and responsible for pension payout.
  • Mukhya Mantri Dal Poshit Yojana:With an objective to provide low-priced pulses, the Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat launched a scheme ‘Mukhyamantri Dal Poshit Yojana’ at his residence on Thursday. Under the scheme, two kilogrammes of pulses per month would be made available to 23.32 lakh ration card holders. On the day, the CM distributed packets of pulses to selected beneficiaries. Under the scheme State government will offer a subsidy of Rs.15 per kilogram on variety of pulses identified, including chana, malka and masur which will fulfil the protein requirement of the people. Each eligible beneficiary and ration card holders in state will get 2 kgs of pulses at subsidised rates every month. 23.32 lakh ration card holders will benifit from this scheme. The scheme will help achieving Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision of a healthy India.