GS PAPER 2
Prime Minister Launches Pradhan Mantri Kisan Maan Dhan Yojana
Topic: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes
In another major effort to secure the lives of the farmers, Prime Minister launched the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Maan Dhan Yojana at Ranchi, the Capital of Jharkhand.
About Pradhan Mantri Kisan Maan Dhan Yojana:
It is an old age pension scheme for all land holding Small and Marginal Farmers (SMFs) in the country. It is a voluntary and contributory pension scheme for the entry age group of 18 to 40 years.
Salient features of the scheme:
- It is voluntary and contributory for farmers in the entry age group of 18 to 40 years and a monthly pension of Rs. 3000/- will be provided to them on attaining the age of 60 years.
- The farmers will have to make a monthly contribution of Rs.55 to Rs.200, depending on their age of entry, in the Pension Fund till they reach the retirement date i.e. the age of 60 years. The farmers will have to make a monthly contribution of Rs.55 to Rs.200, depending on their age of entry, in the Pension Fund till they reach the retirement date i.e. the age of 60 years.
- The monthly contributions will fall due on the same day every month as enrolment date. The beneficiaries may also choose an option to pay their contributions on quarterly, 4-monthly or half-yearly basis.
- The spouse is also eligible to get a separate pension of Rs.3000/- upon making separate contributions to the Fund.
- The Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) shall be the Pension Fund Manager and responsible for Pension pay out.
- In case of death of the farmer before retirement date, the spouse may continue in the scheme by paying the remaining contributions till the remaining age of the deceased farmer. If the spouse does not wish to continue, the total contribution made by the farmer along with interest will be paid to the spouse. If there is no spouse, then total contribution along with interest will be paid to the nominee.
- If the farmer dies after the retirement date, the spouse will receive 50% of the pension as Family Pension. After the death of both the farmer and the spouse, the accumulated corpus shall be credited back to the Pension Fund.
- The beneficiaries may opt voluntarily to exit the Scheme after a minimum period of 5 years of regular contributions. On exit, their entire contribution shall be returned by LIC with an interest equivalent to prevailing saving bank rates.
- The farmers, who are also beneficiaries of PM-Kisan Scheme, will have the option to allow their contribution debited from the benefit of that Scheme directly.
Prime Minister also launched the National Pension Scheme for the Traders and the Self-Employed.
- It will provide a monthly pension of Rs 3,000 to the beneficiaries from the age of 60 years onwards.
- The National Pension Scheme for Shopkeeper’s, Retail traders and Self Employed persons is a voluntary and contributory scheme, in which the government will also make a matching contribution.
- Traders and self employed persons in the age group of 18-40 years are eligible to join the scheme with monthly contribution of Rs 55 to Rs 200 depending on age.
- Lower the age, lower will be the amount of monthly contribution and vice-versa.
- However, self employed shop owners, retail owners and other vyaparis (traders) having annual turnover less than Rs 1.5 crore will only be able to join the scheme.
- Moreover, any person making contribution to EPFO, ESIC, NPS (government declared), PM-SYM and/or paying income tax are also not eligible for the scheme.
- The pension will be provided by the Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) of India, which currently has two annuity schemes – Jeevan Akshay and Jeevan Shanti.
- To get monthly pension of Rs 3,000 for life starting from the age of 60 years, the single premium needed under Jeevan Akshay is around Rs 4,18,000 (without GST).
- Assuming that the contribution will remain constant to get the monthly pension or Rs 3,000, the government need to generate around 13 per cent return on the combined contribution of Rs 400 (Rs 200 by the beneficiary and Rs 200 by the government) to accumulate Rs 4,18,000 for a beneficiary of 39 years 11 months old beneficiary in 20 years 1 month.
- Whereas, for a beneficiary, who joins just at the age of 18 years, the government need to generate just about 8 per cent return on the combined contribution of Rs 110 to accumulate Rs 4,18,000, which may be achieved by generating 10.38 per cent return even without making matching contribution by the government, i.e. just by investing Rs 55 per month.
- So, it will be advantageous for government if more and more young traders and self employed persons join the scheme.
Government is launching various pension schemes for the vulnerable section s of the population. How far are these schemes helpfull. Critically analyse mentioning atleast two schemes. (15marks)
Sixth India-China Strategic Economic Dialogue concludes
Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
The sixth India-China Strategic Economic Dialogue (SED) came to a conclusion in New Delhi with both sides agreeing that the SED has emerged as a crucial mechanism to facilitate bilateral trade and investment flows and enhance economic cooperation between the two sides.
The Dialogue which was held from held from 7-9 September 2019 in New Delhi comprised of round table meetings of Joint Working Groups on:
- Resource conservation
- Policy coordination followed by technical site visits and closed door G2G meetings.
Senior representatives from policy making, industry and academia participated in this dialogue from both sides.
Bothe sides emphasised on taking concrete steps to address India’s trade imbalance with China.
- Set up between erstwhile Planning Commission and the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China during the visit of Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao to India in December 2010, the SED has since then served as an effective mechanism for enhancing bilateral practical cooperation.
- NITI Aayog after its formation has taken the Dialogue forward giving it a greater momentum.
- Under the aegis of the SED, senior representatives from both sides come together to constructively deliberate on and share individual best practices and successfully identify sector-specific challenges and opportunities for enabling ease of doing business and facilitating bilateral trade and investment flows.
- Six standing Joint Working Groups with Co-Chairs ( above the rank of Joint Secretary ) are appointed by both sides to address pertinent economic and commercial issues across infrastructure, energy, high-tech, resource conservation, pharmaceuticals and policy coordination in a structured and outcome-oriented manner by ensuring regular interaction and continued exchanges between respective counterparts.
- NITI Aayog (earlier Planning Commission) on the Indian side and National Development and Reforms Commission (NDRC) on the Chinese side lead the SED Mechanism wherein an annual Dialogue is held annually alternately at the capital cities of the two countries.
- At the 2nd SED which was held in November 2012 at New Delhi, it was decided to constitute 5 standing Joint Working Groups (JWGs) on Policy Coordination, Infrastructure, Environment, Energy, and High Technology under the SED for strengthening cooperation in these fields. NITI Aayog.
- 6th Joint Working Group on Pharmaceuticals has also been constituted after the 5th SED.
The two sides through pragmatic and outcome oriented deliberations of the six working groups arrived at following mutual agreements:
- In-depth discussions reviewing trade and investment climates in order to mutually identify complementarities and harness synergies to this effect future engagement.
- Potential areas of collaboration across innovation and investment focusing on fintech and related technologies were highlighted.
- The two sides agreed to exchange annual calendar of activities to further activate regular channels of communication.
Working Group on Infrastructure:
- Noted the significant progress made in the feasibility study on Chennai-Bangalore-Mysore railway upgradation project and personal training of Indian senior railway management staff in China, both of which have been completed.
- They held detailed discussions on identifying the next steps in all areas of cooperation as well as on taking forward the study project exploring the possibility of Delhi-Agra high speed railway in the pilot section.
- The two sides agreed to identify new projects for cooperation as well as support enterprises to expand cooperation in the transport sector.
Working Group on High-Tech:
- Both assessed the achievements made since the 5th SED and exchanged views on regulatory procedures of ease of doing business, development of artificial intelligence, high-tech manufacturing, and next-generation mobile communications of both countries.
- Discussions were held on technological innovation, industrial situation, and mechanism for further strengthening cooperation as well as on India-China digital partnerships, data governance and related industry policy.
Working Group on Resource Conservation and Environmental Protection:
- Discussed and reviewed the progress made in the fields of water management, waste management, construction & demolition waste and resource conservation.
- The two sides also deliberated on the role of innovation in the sector.
- Effective utilization of novel concepts in low cost construction technology, methods of flood and erosion control, air pollution etc.
- They also pressed upon the need for promoting cooperation in emergent areas like Waste to Power, co-processing of Septage with Sewage Sludge, storm water management etc.
- In order to promote enhanced cooperation in the above areas, two sides agreed on continued interaction and exchange of relevant information more frequently.
Working Group on Energy:
- Both countries identified future areas of collaboration and resolved to work on Renewable Energy space, Clean coal technology sector, Smart Grid & Grid integration and Smart meters & E-mobility sectors.
- Both sides agreed on cooperation in R&D for developing new technology for manufacturing solar cell from alternate material and improvement of efficiency of solar cells.
- Both agreed on cooperation in the field of e-mobility and energy storage.
Working Group on Pharmaceuticals:
- The joint working groups noted that both sides should further strengthen communication to promote pragmatic cooperation.
- It was also decided that both sides should promote pragmatic cooperation, strengthen complementary advantages in pharmaceutical industry and explore cooperation for promoting Indian generic drugs and Chinese APIs.
- This will benefit the development of pharmaceutical industry in both countries.
Both the counterparts focused on bilateral practical cooperation and have achieved the concrete outcomes through pragmatic and outcome-oriented deliberations. The two sides agreed to effectively utilize the SED mechanism as an over-arching and permanent instrument to address outstanding issues and identify potential areas of collaboration in order to augment bilateral economic and commercial ties between the two sides.
Sixth India-China Strategic Economic Dialogue (SED) is crucial mechanism to facilitate bilateral trade and investment flows and enhance economic cooperation between the two sides. Comment. (15 marks)
GS PAPER 3
National Conference on Crop Residue Management
Topic: Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country, different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers
Union Minister of State for Agriculture & Farmers Welfare requested support and ideas from the farmers to ensure zero burning in all the villages. He was inaugurating the National Conference on Crop Residue Management for the farmers from the states of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh & Delhi the Minister said that success stories from these States should be shared with all farmers.
What was done?
To support the efforts of the Governments of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and NCT of Delhi to address air pollution and to subsidize machinery required for in-situ management of crop residue through agriculture mechanization, a Central Sector Scheme for the period 2018-19 to 2019-20 has been implemented by Ministry in these States.
About the conference:
- The conference was organized in collaboration with ICAR in order to address concerns of farmers and State Governments.
- The straw burning events in 2018 have reduced by 15% and 41% as compared to that in 2017 and 2016 respectively, as per the report of the High Power Committee Chaired by Dr. Nagesh Singh.
- The Minister also launched a multilingual Mobile App “CHC Farm Machinery” for the farmers to avail the custom hiring services of CHCs located in the radius of 50 Kms.
- The app connects the farmers with Custom Hiring Service Centres in their area.
- It can be downloaded on any android phone from Google Play Store.
Benefits of crop residue
Crop residues are primarily used as:
- Bedding material for animals
- Livestock feed
- Soil mulching
- Bio-gas generation
- Thatching for rural homes
- Mushroom cultivation
- Biomass energy production
- Fuel for domestic and industrial use
However, a large portion of crop residue is burnt ‘on-farm’ primarily to clean the field for sowing the next crop. The problem of ‘on-farm’ burning of crop residues is intensifying in recent years due to:
- Shortage of human labour
- High cost of removing the crop residue from the field
- Mechanized harvesting of crops.
As per available estimates, burning of crop residues is predominant in four states, namely, Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh & West Bengal.
Adverse effect of crop residue burning:
Loss of nutrients: It is estimated that burning of one tonne of rice straw accounts for loss of 5.5 kg Nitrogen, 2.3 kg phosphorus, 25 kg potassium and 1.2 kg sulphur besides, organic carbon. Generally crop residues of different crops contain 80% of Nitrogen (N), 25% of Phosphorus (P), 50% of Sulphur (S) and 20% of Potassium(K). If the crop residue is incorporated or retained in the soil itself, it gets enriched, particularly with organic C and N.
Impact on soil properties: Heat from burning residues elevates soil temperature causing death of beneficial soil organisms. Frequent residue burning leads to complete loss of microbial population and reduces level of N and C in the top 0-15 cm soil profile, which is important for crop root development.
Emission of greenhouse and other gases: Crop residues burning is a potential source of Green House Gases (GHGs) and other chemically and radiative important trace gases and aerosols such as CH4, CO, N2O, NOX and other hydrocarbons. It is estimated that upon burning, Carbon (C) present in rice straw is emitted as CO2(70% of Carbon present), CO (7%) and CH4(0.66%) while 2.09% of Nitrogen (N) in straw is emitted as N2O. Besides, burning of crop residue also emits large amount of particulates that are composed of wide variety of organic and inorganic species. Many of the pollutants found in large quantities in biomass smoke are known or suspected carcinogens and could lead to various air borne/lung diseases.
National Policy for Management of Crop Residue (NPMCR):
National Policy for Management of Crop Residue (NPMCR) has following major objectives:
- Control of burning of crop residue to prevent environmental degradation and loss of soil nutrients and minerals by promotion of in-situ management (incorporation in soil, mulching, baling/binding for use as domestic/industrial fuel, fodder) of crop residue.
- Diversified use of crop residue for various purposes like charcoal: gasification, power generation, as industrial raw material for production of bio-ethanol, packing material, paper/board/panel industry, composting and mushroom cultivation etc.
- Capacity building and awareness about ill effects of crop residue burning and its effective utilization and management
- Formulation and implementation of suitable law and legislative/policy measures to curb burning of crop residue.
Strategy of implementation:
- Promotion of technologies for optimum utilization and in-situ management of crop residue to prevent loss of invaluable soil nutrients, minerals and improvement of general soil health;
- Promotion of diversified uses of crop residue for various purposes viz. power generation, as industrial raw material for production of bioethanol, packing material for fruits & vegetables and glassware, utilization for paper/ board/panel industry, biogas generation/composting and mushroom cultivation in Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode
- Capacity building of various stakeholders including farmers and extension functionaries under crop development programmes and organization of field level demonstrations on management of crop residues in all programmes/schemes
- Promotion of adaptive research for management of crop residue and development of machineries for effective utilization of such residues
- Formulation and implementation of necessary policy measures for control of crop residue burning through suitable laws/ legislation/ executive orders etc.
Government has launched National policy on crop residue management recently. Discuss the objectives and strategy for implementation. Also write the benefits and adverse affects of crop residues. (12.5 marks)
India Post Payments Bank Announces Rollout of Aadhaar Enabled Payment Services at the First Anniversary of its Business Operations
Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.
The Union Minister for Communications, Electronics & IT announced the rollout of Aadhaar Enabled Payment System (AePS) Services by India Post Payments Bank (IPPB), giving a strong boost to its efforts in expanding access to financial services for millions of unbanked and underbanked customers.
About India Post Payments Bank
- India Post Payments Bank (IPPB) has been established under the Department of Posts, Ministry of Communication with 100% equity owned by Government of India.
- IPPB was launched by the Hon’ble Prime Minister September 1, 2018.
- The bank has been set up with the vision to build the most accessible, affordable and trusted bank for the common man in India.
- The fundamental mandate of India Post Payments Bank is to remove barriers for the unbanked & underbanked and reach the last mile leveraging the Postal network comprising 155,000 Post Offices (135,000 in rural areas) and 300,000 Postal employees.
- IPPB’s reach and its operating model is built on the key pillars of India Stack - enabling Paperless, Cashless and Presence-less banking in a simple and secure manner at the customers' doorstep, through a CBS-integrated smartphone and biometric device.
- Leveraging frugal innovation and with a high focus on ease of banking for the masses, IPPB delivers simple and affordable banking solutions through intuitive interfaces available in 13 languages.
- IPPB is committed to provide a fillip to a less cash economy and contribute to the vision of Digital India.
- India will prosper when every citizen will have equal opportunity to become financially secure and empowered.
- Our motto stands true - Every customer is important, every transaction is significant and every deposit is valuable.
Key points from minister’s speech:
- Minister congratulated IPPB for achieving the milestone of 1 Crore customers and exhorted them to achieve 5 crore target in next one year.
- Referring to 440 Central schemes on-boarded to the DBT platform, minister said that all these schemes must ride on IPPB platform too.
- ‘Inclusive’ is the key mantra of the government and the department of Posts should strive for Banking the unbanked, funding the unfunded and securing the unsecured.
- With the launch of AEPS services, IPPB has now become the single largest platform in the country for providing interoperable banking services to the customers of ANY BANK by leveraging the last mile unprecedented reach of the Postal network.
- IPPB’s unparalleled network complimented with robust interoperable technology platform set up by National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) is poised to take banking to each & every household across the remotest parts of the country.
- With AePS services any common person with a bank account linked to Aadhaar can perform basic banking services such as cash withdrawals and balance enquiry irrespective of the bank they hold their account with.
- To avail these services, a customer with an Aadhaar linked account can simply authenticate his/her identity with fingerprint scan & Aadhaar authentication to complete a transaction.
- As the biggest Financial Inclusion initiative in the world, Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana brought millions into the economic mainstream.
- There are over 34 crore Jan Dhan accounts out of which 22 crore account holders are in rural India.
- With IPPB’s AePS Services, we now have the ability to provide Interoperable Doorstep banking services to customers of ANY BANK including the 34 crore Jan Dhan account holders, by leveraging the unprecedented last mile reach of IPPB.
- It fulfills the Hon’ble Prime Minister vision set forth at the time of launch of IPPB last year of ushering in economic transformation by bringing banks to the doorsteps of the villagers and poor.
- AePS services are bank-agnostic and are driven by an inexpensive infrastructure enabling low cost delivery of doorstep banking services to every section of the society without discrimination, thus bringing forth the dawn of a ‘Truly Inclusive Financial System’.
- It has been our belief that financial and banking services have a transformational impact on the lives of people and communities.
- For a significant majority of these people, the Postman and Grameen Dak Sevak (GDS) are the most important channel for delivery of various financial services at the last mile, making India Post Payments Bank the most accessible, affordable and trusted bank for them.
- The launch of AePS by India Post Payments Bank enhances the last mile interoperable banking infrastructure by 2.5 times.
- The network brings doorstep banking access to millions of underbanked customers and gives a fresh impetus to inclusion of customers facing accessibility challenges in the traditional banking ecosystem.
- With the launch of AePS services, IPPB has now become the single largest interoperable platform in the country.
- By leveraging AePS customers can now access their accounts with ANY BANK by simply using their fingerprint for cash withdrawal and balance enquiry right at their doorstep through the Postmen and GDS.
- IPPB’s services are now available across more than 136,000 Post Offices and delivered by over 195,000 Postmen and GDSs.
- The ability of the Postmen and GDS to reach every village on an almost daily basis has brought down the distance to access banking services to ‘0 kms', truly capturing the essence of Aapka Bank, Aapke Dwaar.”
Aadhaar Enabled Payment System (AePS) Services by India Post Payments Bank (IPPB), giving a strong boost to its efforts in expanding access to financial services for millions of unbanked and underbanked customers. Critically analyse. (15marks)
Prime Minister Launches National Animal Disease Control Programme and National Artificial Insemination Programme
Topic: Economics of animal-rearing.
Prime Minister launched the National Animal Disease Control Programme (NACDP) to control and eradicate the Foot & Mouth Disease (FMD) and Brucellosis amongst the livestock in the country, at Mathura.
About the programs Launch:
- The 12,652 Crore fully Central Government sponsored programme will vaccinate over 600 million cattle in the country in an effort to mitigate the two diseases.
- The Prime Minister also launched the National Artificial Insemination Programme and a country wide workshop in all the Krishi VIgyan Kendras(KVKs) in all the 687 Districts of the country on vaccination and disease management, Artificial Insemination and Productivity.
Key points from Prime Ministers speech:
- Environment and Livestock were always at the core of India’s economic thought and philosophy.
- Swachh Bharat or Jal Jeevan Mission or promoting Agriculture & Animal Husbandry we always try to maintain a balance between Nature and Economy.
- The Prime Minister also launched several other programmes concerning Livestock Health, Nutrition and Dairy Farming.
- Animal Husbandry and other allied activities have a greater role to play in increasing the farmers’ income.
- Investments in Animal Husbandry, Fisheries, bee-keeping etc bring in more returns.
- We need to find an appropriate solution for the regular supply of green fodder and nutritious diet to the livestock.
- Innovation and new technology is the need of the hour, to expand the Dairy Sector in India.
- Launched the “Start up Brand Challenge” so that these innovations could come from our villages. “
- This will create newer opportunities of employment”.
Points to be noted down for prelims
India Will Restore 26 Million Hectares of Degraded Land by 2030
- The Prime Minister inaugurated the High-Level Segment Meeting of the 14th Conference of Parties (COP14) to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), at Expo Mart, Greater Noida.
- India would raise its ambition of the total area that would be restored from its land degradation status, from twenty-one million hectares to twenty-six million hectares between now and 2030”.
- It will be focused on restoring land productivity and ecosystem services of 26 million hectares of most degraded and vulnerable land, with emphasis on the degraded agricultural, forest and other wastelands by adopting a landscape restoration approach.
- India’s proposal to setup a global technical support institute for the member countries of the UNCCD for their capacity building and support regarding the Land Degradation Neutrality Target Setting Program.
- Augmenting water supply, enhancing water recharge, slowing down water run-off and retaining moisture in the soil are all parts of a holistic land and water strategy”
India & ADB sign $200 million loan to improve rural connectivity in Maharashtra
- The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of India today signed a $200 million loan to upgrade rural roads to all-weather standards in 34 districts of Maharashtra State to improve road safety and better connect rural areas with markets and services.
- Improving rural connectivity is one of the key priorities of the Government of India, which will help enhance rural livelihoods and alleviate poverty among remote rural communities in project districts.
- Enhanced road connectivity and better access to markets will help the farmers increase agricultural productivity and incomes.
- The project will improve the condition of about 2,100 kilometers (km) of rural roads to all-weather standards, with climate resilience and safety features, connecting rural communities with productive agricultural areas and socioeconomic centers.
- Provision of contractual maintenance for 5 years following construction has also been provided under the project.
- Accompanying the loan is a technical assistance grant of $1 million for institutional strengthening of the MRRDA in areas such as road asset management, road safety, climate-resilient design and construction and web-based real-time project monitoring.
- Outreach for road users will be carried out in the state to build awareness of road safety, gender issues including human trafficking, and enhancing women’s road construction and maintenance skills.
- ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.
- In 2018, it made commitments of new loans and grants amounting to $21.6 billion.
- An international conference ANGAN (Augmenting Nature by Green Affordable New-habitat) focussed on Energy Efficiency in Building Sector.
- The Conference is being organised by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), Ministry of Power, Government of India in collaboration with GIZ under the Indo German Technical Cooperation.
- The Experts will be discussing various alternative options and technologies in the field of design and construction of energy efficient Commercial as well as Residential Buildings and will suggest the effective ways in implementing the same through policies and programmes.
- It is estimated that an investment of Rs. 2000 billion in Building energy efficiency activities would lead to a cumulative savings of 388 Billion units of electricity for the next ten years with payback of about 2 years.
- The International Conference will provide a platform to deliberate on interdependence between organizations, systemic sustainability and feedback loops for better resource efficiency.
- Given the formidable challenge of providing adequate energy of desired quality to the consumers at reasonable costs, improving the efficiency in high energy consumption sectors like buildings have become important component of our integrated energy policy.
- Due to lack of awareness and knowledge about latest technologies, financial assistance, suppliers and purchase of energy efficient equipment etc. efforts on energy efficiency and conservation in this sector have been moderate and therefore require greater push.
- The event aims to provide thrust in this direction so as to address such challenges faced by the stakeholders.
- As part of this event, an exhibition on Energy Efficient Building Material Suppliers, Technology suppliers, Research Institutions and Universities displayed latest things in the Building Energy Efficiency Sector will also displayed.
- The BEE is a statutory body under the Ministry of Power, Government of India.
- It assists in developing policies and strategies with the primary objective of reducing the energy intensity of the Indian economy.
- BEE coordinates with designated consumers, designated agencies, and other organizations to identify and utilize the existing resources and infrastructure, in performing the functions assigned to it under the Energy Conservation Act.
16th AEM-India Consultations
- Economic Ministers from ten ASEAN Member States and the Minister of Commerce and Industry of the Republic of India (“the Ministers”) met on 10 September 2019 at Bangkok in Thailand for the sixteenth AEM-India Consultations.
Key facts and points of discussion:
- The Ministers noted that, based on preliminary ASEAN data, two-way merchandise trade between ASEAN and India grew by 9.8 per cent from USD 73.6 billion in 2017 to USD 80.8 billion in 2018.
- They were also pleased to note the recovery of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflows from India in 2018, amounting to USD 1.7 billion.
- It placed India as ASEAN’s sixth largest trading partner and sixth largest source of FDI among ASEAN Dialogue Partners.
- According to India’s preliminary data, FDI inflows into India from ASEAN in 2018 was USD 16.41 billion, approximately 36.98 per cent of total FDI flow into India.
- The Ministers were pleased to note the ratification of the ASEAN-India Trade in Services Agreement by all Parties in 2018.
- The on-going efforts for the ratification of the ASEAN-India Investment Agreement and looked forward to the full ratification by all Parties as soon as possible.
- Everyone agreed to initiate the review of the ASEAN-India Trade in Goods Agreement (AITIGA) to make the AIFTA more user-friendly, simple, and trade facilitative for businesses and to constitute a Joint Committee, as provided in Article 17 of the AITIGA, for this purpose.
- They commended the outcomes of the 4th India-ASEAN Expo and Summit held on 21-23 February 2019 in New Delhi, India.
- The Ministers noted that the event provided an ideal platform for investors, business leaders, industry captains and policy makers to enhance their engagements in further facilitating mutual trade and investment.
- In this regard, the ASEAN Economic Ministers encouraged for the promotion of this event to business communities in ASEAN as an effective platform for discussions, exchange of ideas, and buyer-seller matching.
- Welcomed the recommendations of the ASEAN-India Business Council to further promote the potential of bilateral trade through the utilisation of ASEAN-India FTA as well as cooperation in some areas of mutual interest such as financial technology (FinTech), connectivity, start-ups, and innovation, empowerment of youth and women, and MSMEs development.
- The Ministers also expressed their support for the Fourth ASEAN-India Business Summit and Business Excellence Award, which will be held in Manila in October 2019.
India’s second Multi Modal Terminal on Ganga at Sahibganj in Jharkhand
- The Prime Minister dedicated to the nation India’s second riverine Multi Modal terminal built at Sahibganj in Jharkhand on 12 September, 2019.
- This is the second of the three Multi Modal Terminals being constructed on river Ganga under Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP).
- The Multi-Modal terminal at Sahibganj will open up industries of Jharkhand and Bihar to the global market and provide Indo-Nepal cargo connectivity through waterways route.
- It will play an important role in transportation of domestic coal from the local mines in Rajmahal area to various thermal power plants located along NW-1.
- Other than coal, stone chips, fertilisers, cement and sugar are other commodities expected to be transported through the terminal.
- The multi-modal terminal will also help to create direct employment of about 600 people and indirect employment of about 3000 people in the region.
- The convergence of Road-Rail-River Transport at Sahibganj through the new multi-modal terminal will connect this part of the hinterland to Kolkata, Haldia and further to the Bay of Bengal. Also, Sahibganj will get connected to North-East States through Bangladesh by river-sea route. It
- The MMTs are being built as part of the Jal Marg Vikas Project that aims to develop the stretch of River Ganga between Varanasi to Haldia for navigation of large vessels upto1500-2000 tonnes weight, by maintaining a drought of 2-3 metres in this stretch of the river and setting up other systems required for safe navigation.
- The objective is to promote inland waterways as a cheaper and more environment friendly means of transport, especially for cargo movement. Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) is the project Implementing Agency.
India’s Tallest Air Traffic Control Tower Inaugurated
Ministry of Civil aviation has undertaken many initiatives in the past 100 days in the direction of enabling affordable flying and healthy aviation sector growth.
Some of the key initiatives are:
- India’s tallest Air Traffic Control tower was inaugurated at the Indira Gandhi International Airport which will ensure up-scaled services and systems for efficient, smooth and uninterrupted air traffic management.
- The airports of Ahmedabad, Lucknow and Mangaluru have been awarded to a private concessionaire through Public Private Partnership (PPP) to bring efficiency in delivery, expertise, enterprise and professionalism apart from harnessing the needed investments in the public sector.
- Aviation Jobs is a unique web-based portal launched by Ministry of Civil Aviation which seeks to bring together job seekers and prospective employers in the Indian civil aviation sector.
- It is a common platform for enabling candidates to register their job interests across various sub-sectors.
- At the same time it facilitates sourcing of information about candidates available in the market by prospective employers with a view to improve prospects for employment or re-employment in the civil aviation ecosystem
As part of Digital initiatives the Ministry has taken up the following:
- eDGCA: project conceptualized to completely automate the processes and functions of DGCA and its constituent directorates as well as to provide a strong base for IT infrastructure and service delivery framework.
- DigiSky: an online portal to regulate the entire gamut of activities relating to governance and operation of Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS)/Unmanned Aircraft Vehicles (UAVs)/drones has been made operational. While ensuring safety and security in drone operations, it will also help in promotion of drone technologies.
- Esahaj: 100% of security clearances pertaining to the Ministry have been made online on Esahaj online portal launched by the Ministry of Civil Aviation. The portal is operational for granting clearances in respect of 24 categories.
- DigiYatra: Trial for rollout of DigiYatra initiative has been started at Bangalore and Hyderabad airports. The initiative envisages seamless and hassle free passenger travel using biometric technologies to improve passenger experience, reduce queue waiting time as passengers can walk through e-gates by using advanced security solutions. It will remove redundancies at check points and enhance resource utilization.
DRDO successfully flight-tests indigenously developed low weight, fire & forget Man Portable Antitank Guided Missile
- In a major boost for Indian Army, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) today successfully flight tested indigenously developed low weight, fire and forget Man Portable Antitank Guided Missile (MPATGM) in the ranges of Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh.
- The missile was launched from a man portable Tripod launcher and the target was mimicking a functional tank.
- The missile hit the target in top attack mode and destroyed it with precision.
- This is the third series of successful testing of MPATGM.
- The missile is incorporated with state-of-the-art Infrared Imaging Seeker along with advanced avionics.
- The test paves the way for the Army to have developed 3rd generation man portable Anti-Tank Guided Missile indigenously.
Indo-Thailand Joint Military Exercise Maitree - 2019
- Joint Military Exercise MAITREE-2019 between India and Thailand will be conducted at Foreign Training Node, Umroi (Meghalaya).
- Indian and Royal Thailand Army (RTA) comprising 50 soldiers each will participate in the exercise with an aim to share experience gained during various counter terrorism operations in their respective countries.
- Exercise MAITREE is an annual training event which is being conducted alternatively in Thailand and India since 2006.
- Notably, in the series of military training exercises undertaken by India with various countries, Exercise MAITREE with Thailand is a significant in terms of the security challenges faced by both the nations in the backdrop of changing facets of global terrorism.
- The scope of this exercise covers company level joint training on counter terrorism operations in jungle and urban scenario.
- The joint military exercise will enhance the level of defence co-operation between Indian Army (IA) and Royal Thailand Army (RTA) which in turn will further foster defence cooperation and bilateral relations between the two nations.
Prime Minister launches National Pension Scheme for Traders and Self Employed Persons
- The Prime Minister of India launched at Ranchi today, the National Pension Scheme for Traders and Self Employed Persons, a pension scheme for the Vyaparis (shopkeepers/retail traders and self-employed persons) with annual turnover not exceeding Rs 1.5 crore.
- With this nation-wide launch, the facility for enrollment under the scheme has been made available to the prospective beneficiaries through 3.50 lakh Common Service Center (CSCs) across the country.
- In addition people can also self-enroll by visiting the portal www.maandhan.in/vyapari.
- The eligible Vyaparis can visit their nearest CSCs and get enrolled under the scheme.
- At the time of enrollment, the beneficiary is required to have an Aadhaar card and a saving bank/ Jan-dhan Account passbook only.
- He/ She should be within 18 to 40 years of age group.
- GSTIN is required only for those with turnover above Rs. 40 lakhs.
- The enrolment under the scheme is free of cost for the beneficiaries.
- The enrolment is based upon self-certification.
- Government has approved National Pension Scheme for Traders and Self Employed Persons in acknowledgement of notable contribution of Vyaparis (shopkeepers/ retail traders and self-employed persons).
- It is a voluntary and contributory pension scheme for entry age of 18 to 40 years with a provision for minimum assured pension of Rs 3,000/- monthly on attaining the age of 60 years.
- The beneficiary should not be income tax payer and also not a member of EPFO/ESIC/NPS (Govt.)/PM-SYM.
- The Central Government shall give 50 % share of the monthly contribution and remaining 50% contribution shall be made by the beneficiary.
- The monthly contribution is kept low to make it affordable.
- For example, a beneficiary is required to contribute as little as Rs.100/- per month at a median entry age of 29 years.
India joins the Global Antimicrobial Resistance Research and Development Hub
- India has joined the Global Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Research and Development (R&D) Hub as a new member.
- It was announced by the Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science & Technology in New Delhi.
- It expands the global partnership working to address challenges and improve coordination and collaboration in global AMR R&D to 16 countries, the European Commission, two philanthropic foundations and four international organisations (as observers).
- AMR requires global action with active participation from all world regions and One Health sectors.
- Expanding the membership of the Hub works towards ensuring that different countries needs are incorporated when considering AMR R&D activities and actions”.
- The Global AMR R&D Hub was launched in May 2018 in the margins of the 71st session of the World Health Assembly, following a call from G20 Leaders in 2017.
- The Global AMR R&D Hub supports global priority setting and evidence-based decision-making on the allocation of resources for AMR R&D through the identification of gaps, overlaps and potential for cross-sectoral collaboration and leveraging in AMR R&D.
- The operation of the Global AMR R&D Hub is supported through a Secretariat, established in Berlin and currently financed through grants from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the Federal Ministry of Health (BMG).
- From this year onward, India will be the member of Board of members of Global AMR R&D Hub.
- By partnering with the Global AMR R&D Hub, India looks forward to working with all partners to leverage their existing capabilities, resources and collectively focus on new R&D intervention to address drug resistant infections.
- AMR is the ability of a microbe to resist the effects of medication that once could successfully treat the microbe. Today, the emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistance continues unabated around the world. Given the important and interdependent human, animal, and environmental dimensions of antimicrobial resistance, India considers it reasonable to explore issues of antimicrobial resistance through the lens of One Health approach which should be supported by long-term commitments from all stakeholders.
- In a major boost to combat one of the gravest risks to global health a dedicated special vehicle in terms of Global AMR R&D Hub may allow partners to devote expertise in order to accelerate global action against antimicrobial resistance.
Biggest Tribal Movement to promote tribal enterprise through Bamboonomics at ‘COP 14 UNCCD: TRIFED-GIZ’
- Union Minister for Tribal Affairs launched the Biggest Tribal movement to promote tribal enterprise through Bamboonomics in the country which will be a beacon for the rest of the world.
- Launched the movement for combating desertification and the climate change at “The Indian Perspective through Bamboonomics” session at ‘COP 14 UNCCD : TRIFED-GIZ’.
- The tribal community has lived in a very eco-friendly manner for generations in and around the forest areas and they have never degraded the forest lands. So, their expertise and experience should be taken into consideration.
- Prime Minister has set the goal of additional 5 mha under the Bonn Challenge and Ministry of Tribal Affairs and TRIFED would strive to support this national commitment.
- TRIFED introduced the “The 4P1000 Initiative: The Tribal Perspective through Bamboonomics” and explained the genesis of the revolution during the global meet (COP 14 of UNCCD) in New Delhi.
- The 4P1000 Initiative: The international initiative “4per1000”, launched by France on 1 December 2015 at the COP 21, consists of federating all voluntary stakeholders of the public and private sectors.
- TRIFED will involve the tribal community of India for rehabilitating the degraded land without compromising the income of the poor in the garb of environmentally friendly development.
- TRIFED is striving to integrate its Pradhan Mantri Van Dhan Yojna (PMVDY) with this new global environmental intervention termed as TICD (TRIFED’s Initiative to Combat Desertification).
- TRIFED proposed a business model to supplement the income of tribal community and put it on the world scale by partnering with the German Cooperation (GIZ).
- It called for globalization of this movement by further international cooperation.
- TRIFED’s message to UNCCD is that the 4P1000 Initiative with the tribal perspective through Bamboonomics is the best answer for combating desertification and rehabilitation of degraded wastelands.
Leadership for Academicians Programme (LEAP) - 20192019 and Annual Refresher Programme in Teaching (ARPIT) – 2019
- Union Human Resource Development Minister launched Leadership for Academicians Programme (LEAP) - 2019 and Annual Refresher Programme in Teaching (ARPIT) – 2019 under Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya National Mission on Teachers and Teaching (PMMMNMTT) in New Delhi.
- ARPIT is a great platform for teachers to learn about latest developments in their field and develop their teaching qualities.
- LEAP programme to develop administrative capabilities and leadership for organizations.
- The courses of Artificial Intelligence, from school education to Higher education level should be designed according to the needs of industrial sector.
- There is no dearth of talent among our students.
Leadership for Academicians Programme (LEAP)
- To build higher managerial capabilities of existing higher education leaders and administrators and to draw fresh talent into the management of higher education systems, a National Initiative “Leadership for Academicians Programme (LEAP)” was launched to design and deliver a structured scheme of leadership development for HEIs.
- LEAP is a three weeks leadership development training programme (2 weeks domestic and one week foreign training) for second level academic functionaries in public funded higher education institutions.
- The main objective is to prepare second tier academic heads that are potentially likely to assume leadership roles in the future.
- LEAP is being implemented through 15 institutions.
- The mandatory eligibility conditions are: minimum 8 years of experience as Professor, 3 years administrative experience, Impeccable Integrity, High academic standing preferably 30 publications in 'SCOPUS' indexed international journals or UGC approved journals and age below 58 years.
- A maximum of Rs. 10 Lakhs per participant (including foreign training) is approved and each training institution signs MoUs with its foreign counterpart.
- LEAP training institution prepares information brochures with relevant information, such as structure of the programme, Curriculum, Resource Persons, Pedagogical aspects, Assessment and evaluation and scheduled dates for Indian & foreign training.
- Each training module will have a batch of 30 trainees. At the end of the training, the trainees are evaluated on ten critical leadership attributes, namely, visioning & strategizing, communication skills, people management, conflict management & handling stress, decision making, Teaching Learning, research and innovation, financial planning and management, administrative skills, understanding students and collaboration.
Annual Refresher Programme in Teaching (ARPIT)
- Ministry of Human Resource Development launched Annual Refresher Programme in Teaching (ARPIT) in 2018.
- ARPIT is a major and unique initiative of online professional development of 1.5 million higher education faculty using the MOOCs platform SWAYAM.
- For implementing ARPIT, discipline-specific National Resource Centers (NRCs) are identified which are tasked to prepare online training material with focus on latest developments in the discipline, new & emerging trends, pedagogical improvements and methodologies for transacting revised curriculum.
- For ARPIT 2019, 51 discipline specific NRCs have been notified covering 46 disciplines, such as, Agriculture, Law, Architecture, Social Sciences, Sciences, Engineering and Technology etc.
- The training materials have now been uploaded and made available through SWAYAM to all the teachers from September, 2019.
- Through ARPIT all in-service teachers, irrespective of their subject and seniority have been given an enabling opportunity to keep abreast of the latest developments in their disciplines through the technology based online refresher courses.
- Faculty can benefit from this initiative as it is highly flexible and can be done at one’s own pace and time.
- The NRCs will revolutionize professional development of faculty by catering to massive numbers by leveraging ICT and online technology platform of SWAYAM.
- All in-service teachers, irrespective of their subject and seniority are requested to register and complete these refresher courses which will help them in career advancement.
- ARPIT course of 40 hours/duration is treated as equivalent to one Refresher Course for Career Advancement Scheme (CAS) for promotion.