- ISARC in Varanasi
The Union Cabinet has approved the establishment of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), South Asia Regional Center (ISARC) at campus of National Seed Research and Training Center (NSRTC) in Varanasi.
- Under the proposal, a Centre of Excellence in Rice Value Addition (CERVA) will be set up in Varanasi. This will include a modern and sophisticated laboratory with capacity to determine quality and status of heavy metals in grain and straw. The Centre will also undertake capacity building exercises for stakeholders across the rice value chain.
- This Center will be the first international Center in the eastern India.
Benefits from ISARC:
- The Centre will help in utilizing the rich biodiversity of India to develop special rice varieties.
- This will help India to achieve higher per hectare yields and improved nutritional contents.
- The Centre will support in adopting value chain based production system in the country. This will reduce wastage, add value and generate higher income for the farmers.
- Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana (PMVVY)
PMVVY is a Pension Scheme exclusively for the senior citizens aged 60 years and above.
The Scheme can be purchased offline as well as online through Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) of India which has been given the sole privilege to operate this Scheme.
Benefits under the Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana (PMVVY):
- Scheme provides an assured return of 8% p.a. payable monthly (equivalent to 8.30% p.a. effective) for 10 years.
- Pension is payable at the end of each period, during the policy term of 10 years, as per the frequency of monthly/ quarterly/ half-yearly/ yearly as chosen by the pensioner at the time of purchase.
- The scheme is exempted from Service Tax/ GST.
- On survival of the pensioner to the end of the policy term of 10 years, Purchase price along with final pension installment shall be payable.
- Loan upto 75% of Purchase Price shall be allowed after 3 policy years (to meet the liquidity needs). Loan interest shall be recovered from the pension installments and loan to be recovered from claim proceeds.
- The scheme also allows for premature exit for the treatment of any critical/ terminal illness of self or spouse. On such premature exit, 98% of the Purchase Price shall be refunded.
- On death of the pensioner during the policy term of 10 years, the Purchase Price shall be paid to the beneficiary.
- Aajeevika Grameen Express Yojana
The Ministry of Rural Development is all set to launch a new sub-scheme under Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana – National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM) which will be named as “Aajeevika Grameen Express Yojana (AGEY)”.
What you need to know about AGEY?
- The main objectives of AGEY are to provide an alternative source of livelihoods to members of Self Help Groups (SHGs) under DAY-NRLM by facilitating them to operate public transport services in backward rural areas.
- This will provide safe, affordable and community monitored rural transport services like e-rickshaws, 3 and 4 wheeler motorised transport vehicles to connect remote villages with key services and amenities including access to markets, education and health for the overall economic development of the area.
- One of the options proposed to be given under the sub-scheme is that the Community Based Organisation (CBO) will provide interest free loan from its own corpus to Self Help Group member for purchase of the vehicle.
About Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana – National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY -NRLM):
- The Government is implementing DAY-NRLM across the country in all States and Union Territories (except Delhi and Chandigarh).
- The financial support under the programme is mainly in the form of Revolving Fund and Community Investment Funds, given as grants to the Self Help Groups (SHGs) and their federations.
- DAY-NRLM also focuses on bank linkage of the institutions.
- The programme has a special focus on women empowerment including a dedicated component for promoting farm and non-farm based livelihoods for women farmers in rural areas.
- In addition, start-up enterprises at village levels are also supported to promote entrepreneurial activities in those areas.
- Guidelines for implementation of Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana
The draft guidelines inter-alia provide Aadhaar linkage, Direct Benefit Transfer of Rs. 5000 in beneficiary’s bank/post office account in three instalments at the stage of early registration of pregnancy, after six months of pregnancy on at least one antenatal check-up and registration of child birth & first cycle of immunisation of the child.
About Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY):
- Previously Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana (IGMSY), is a maternity benefit program run by the government of India.
- It is a conditional cash transfer scheme for pregnant and lactating women of 19 years of age or above for first two live births.
- It provides a partial wage compensation to women for wage-loss during childbirth and childcare and to provide conditions for safe delivery and good nutrition and feeding practices.
- In 2013, the scheme was brought under the National Food Security Act, 2013 to implement the provision of cash maternity benefit of ₹6,000 stated in the Act.
- It is Centrally Sponsored Scheme under which the cost sharing ratio between the Centre and the States & UTs with Legislature is 60:40, for North-Eastern States & three Himalayan States, it is 90:10 and 100% Central assistance for Union Territories without Legislature.
- NTFAP National Trade Facilitation Action Plan (NTFAP)
The Action Plan aims to transform cross-border clearance ecosystem through efficient, transparent, co-ordinated, digital, seamless and technology driven procedures which are supported by advanced sea ports, airports, and land borders.
- The NTFAP aims to achieve improvement in ease of doing business by reducing cargo release time and cost, promote paperless regulatory environment, transparent and predictable legal regime and improved investment climate through better infrastructure.
- NTFAP also awards specific responsibilities to all regulatory agencies like Customs, FSSAI, Drug Controller, Plant Quarantine, DGFT, etc to be completed in a time-bound manner.
- Apart from activities under the ambit of TFA, the Action Plan also goes beyond to what has been defined as TFA Plus category. It covers many activities in the areas of infrastructure augmentation, particularly the roadways and railways leading to ports and the infrastructure within ports, airports, ICDs, land customs stations that cuts across all stakeholders for which various ministries like shipping, civil aviation, railways, road transport and highways, Home Affairs, Finance, Commerce etc have been assigned specified targets
All actions covered under the plan have been categorized by prioritizing the activities into short term, midterm and long term. The National Plan would be monitored by the Steering Committee (the operational arm of the NCTF) chaired by the Revenue Secretary and the Commerce Secretary. The plan would be reviewed by the Cabinet Secretary.
The Trade Facilitation Agreement forms part of the Bali Package agreed by members at the Ninth Ministerial Conference in Bali.
- The agreement contains provisions for faster and more efficient customs procedures through effective cooperation between customs and other appropriate authorities on trade facilitation and customs compliance issues.
- It also contains provisions for technical assistance and capacity building in this area.
- It is being believed, especially by the proponents of the agreement that deal could add $1 trillion to global GDP and also can generate 21 million jobs by slashing red tape and streamlining customs.
- Sexual Harassment electronic-Box (SHe-Box)
It is an online complaint management system for registering complaints related to sexual harassment at workplace. It was launched by the Ministry of Women and Child Development. The complaint management system has been developed to ensure the effective implementation of Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act (the SH Act), 2013
- This portal is an initiative to provide a platform to women working or visiting any office of Central Government(Central Ministries, Departments, Public Sector Undertakings, Autonomous Bodies and Institutions etc.) to file complaints related to sexual harassment at workplace under the SH Act.
- Those who had already filed a written complaint with the concerned Internal Complaint Committee (ICC) constituted under the SH Act are also eligible to file their complaint through this portal.
- Once a complaint is submitted to the portal, it will be directly sent to the ICC of the concerned Ministry/Department/PSU/Autonomous Body etc. having jurisdiction to inquire into the complaint. Through this portal, WCD as well as complainant can monitor the progress of inquiry conducted by the ICC.
The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 seeks to protect women from sexual harassment at their place of work. This statute superseded the Vishakha Guidelines for prevention of sexual harassment introduced by the Supreme Court of India.
Under the Act, which also covers students in schools and colleges as well as patients in hospitals, employers and local authorities will have to set up grievance committees to investigate all complaints. Employers who fail to comply will be punished with a fine of up to 50,000 rupees.
- Central Road Fund?
The Central Road Fund was established by the government as per the Central road fund act 2000 to fund the development and maintenance of National Highways, State Highways and Rural roads.
- In order to mobilise the fund, the Central Road Fund Act 2000 proposed to levy and collect by way of cess, a duty of excise and duty of customs on petrol and high speed diesel oil.
- The fund is utilised for the development and maintenance of National highways, State roads, Rural roads and for provision of road overbridges/under bridges and other safety features at unmanned Railway Crossings
- Union Cabinet clears minimum wage code bill
The Union Cabinet has approved the new wage code bill which will ensure a minimum wage across all sectors by integrating four labour related laws. Labour is on the concurrent list.
- The Labour Code on Wages Bill will consolidate the Minimum Wages Act, 1948; the Payment of Wages Act, 1936; the Payment of Bonus Act, 1965; and the Equal Remuneration Act, 1976.
- The bill seeks to empower the Centre to set a minimum wage across all sectors in the country and states will have to maintain that. However, states will be able to provide for higher minimum wage in their jurisdiction than fixed by the central government.
- The new minimum wage norms would be applicable for all workers irrespective of their pay. At present, the minimum wages fixed by the Centre and states are applicable to workers getting up to Rs 18,000 pay monthly. This would ensure a universal minimum wage for all industries and workers, including those getting monthly pay higher than Rs 18,000.
- The minimum wage would be applicable on all classes of workers. At present, it is applicable for scheduled industries or establishments in the law.
- The wage code will empower the Centre to notify a ‘national minimum wage’ (below which no state can fix their minimum wages) and this will be revised every two years (five years if the dearness allowance becomes part of the minimum wages).
- Thalassaemia and sickle cell anaemia are the most frequently encountered ‘rare blood disorders’ in the country and impose a significant economic burden on families. They are caused by errors in the genes responsible for the production of hemoglobin, a substance composed of a protein (globin) plus an iron molecule (heme) that is responsible for carrying oxygen within the red blood cell. These disorders can cause fatigue, jaundice, and episodes of pain ranging from mild to very severe. They are inherited, and usually both parents must pass on an abnormal gene in order for a child to have the disease. When this happens, the resulting diseases are serious and, at times, fatal.
- Charging Stations for Electric Vehicles Installed in Bengaluru
Under Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles in India [FAME-India] Scheme of the Government.
Based on the proposals received under FAME Scheme, charging infrastructure in selected cities/ locations were sanctioned by the Department of Heavy Industries.
About FAME India scheme:
- FAME India– is a part of the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan.
- It is being administered by the Heavy Industries Ministry.
- The FAME-India (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (hybrid &) Electric vehicles in India) scheme is proposed to be implemented over a period of 6 years, till 2020, wherein it is intended to support the hybrid/electric vehicles market development and its manufacturing eco-system to achieve self-sustenance at the end of the stipulated period.
- The scheme has four focus areas, technology development, demand creation, pilot projects and charging infrastructure.
National ST Commission to take action on video films of Jaravas on YouTube
- Taking suo-moto cognizance of objectionable video films and pictures of protected Jarava and other tribal communities of Andaman Islands on YouTube social media platform, the National Commission for Scheduled Tribe (NCST) has initiated action on it.
Laws protecting these tribes:
- As per provisions of Andaman and Nicobar Island (Protection of Aboriginal Tribes) Regulation, 1956 (PAT), the Andamanese, Jarawas, Onges, Sentinelese, Nicobarese and Shom Pens have been identified as “aboriginal tribes”.
- The PAT contains the provisions of protection of these communities from the outside interference.
- Penalty provisions for promoting tourism through advertisement relating to aboriginal tribes has also been made in the year 2012.
- Whoever enters these areas in contravention of the notification under section 7 (which prohibits entry into reserve areas) for taking photographs or making videos shall be punishable with imprisonment up to three years.
- Besides, Section 3 (i) (r) of the Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities Act) also accords protection.
- NCST was established by inserting a new Article 338A in the Constitution through the Constitution (89th Amendment) Act, 2003. By this amendment, the erstwhile National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes was replaced by two separate Commissions namely- (i) the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC), and (ii) the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST).
- The term of office of Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson and each member is three years from the date of assumption of charge. The Chairperson has been given the rank of Union Cabinet Minister and the Vice-Chairperson that of a Minister of State and other Members have the ranks of a Secretary to the Government of India.
- NCST is empowered
- To investigate and monitor matters relating to safeguards provided for STs under the Constitution or under other laws or under Govt. order.
- to inquire into specific complaints relating to rights and safeguards of STs
- to participate and advise in the Planning Process relating to socio-economic development of STs
- To evaluate the progress of their development under the Union and States.
- The commission submits its report to the President annually on the working of safeguards and measures required for effective implementation of Programmers/ Schemes relating to welfare and socio-economic development of STs.
About the Senior Citizens Welfare Fund:
The Centre brought in Senior Citizens’ Welfare Fund Act, 2015 (SCWF) as part of the Finance Act, 2015, which mandates transfer of unclaimed amounts of policyholders to the fund (SCWF) after a period of 10 years.
- The fund will be administered by an Inter-Ministerial Committee, headed by a Chairperson. The Committee will be competent to spend money from the fund for satisfying various objectives.
- The accounts of the fund will be open to audit by CAG, regularly. The Central Government will present the annual report and the one furnished by CAG to be laid before the Parliament.
Guidelines for Planning and Implementation of Family Participatory Care
Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has released Operational Guidelines for Planning and Implementation of Family Participatory Care (FPC) for improving newborn health.
- The guidelines will serve as a guiding document for those intending to introduce FPC in their facility as an integral part of facility based newborn care.
- Under the guidelines—Operational Guidelines for Planning and Implementation of Family Participatory Care (FPC)—parent-attendants will be trained in newborn care through a structured programme including an audio-visual module and a training guide. The staff at a newborn care unit would provide continuous supervision and support.
- The guidelines address various aspects of attitudes, infrastructural modifications and practice that will help in establishing FPC at Special Newborn Care Units (SNCU) such as sensitization of State and District Managers on FPC, prioritization of SNCUs for initiating FPC etc.
About the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction:
It is a multilateral treaty on custodial issues of children. The Convention seeks to protect children from the harmful effects of abduction and retention across international boundaries by providing a procedure to ensure their prompt return.
- The convention is intended to enhance the international recognition of rights of custody and access arising in place of habitual residence, and to ensure prompt return of the child who is wrongfully removed or retained from the place of habitual residence.
- It seeks to return children abducted or retained overseas by a parent to their country of habitual residence for the courts of that country to decide on matters of residence and contact.
- The convention shall apply to any child, up to the age of 16 years who is a habitual resident of any of the contacting states.
“JIGYASA” – Student-Scientist connect programme
Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), has joined hands with Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS) to implement this programme. The focus is on connecting school students and scientists so as to extend student’s classroom learning with that of a very well planned research laboratory based learning.
- The “JIGYASA” would inculcate the culture of inquisitiveness on one hand and scientific temper on the other, amongst the school students and their teachers.
- The Programme is expected to connect 1151 Kendriya Vidyalayas with 38 National Laboratories of CSIR targeting 100,000 students and nearly 1000 teachers annually.
- The program will also enable the students and teachers to practically live the theoretical concepts taught in science by visiting CSIR laboratories and by participating in mini-science projects.
India declares itself free from Bird Flu
India has declared itself free from Bird Flu (highly pathogenic Avian Influenza – H5N1 and H5N8) and notified it to the World Organisation for Animal Health.
World Organization for Animal Health:
- The World Organisation for Animal Health is recognised as a reference body by the World Trade Organization. It has 181 countries as its members. This global body keeps tab on animal health issues and advises countries on best practices to be followed during such outbreaks.
- This organisation also supports countries to help them control animal diseases that cause livestock losses and pose a risk to public health. Under its norms, ban can be lifted after 90 days of surveillance.
New drugs needed against hard-to-treat gonorrhoea: UN
Antibiotic resistance is making gonorrhea harder and sometimes even impossible to treat, according to a new warning from the World Health Organization (WHO). Therefore, a new drug may be urgently needed to treat the disease.
- Gonorrhea, also called “the clap“, is a disease caused by bacteria. Untreated, it can cause painful pelvic inflammation in women, and infertility in both genders.
- Gonorrhea resistance to third generation of drugs.
How bacteria become resistant?
Bacteria can become resistant to drugs when people take incorrect doses of antibiotics. Resistant strains can also be contracted directly from animals, water and air, or other people. When the most common antibiotics fail to work, more expensive types must be tried, resulting in longer illness and treatment.
India performs miserably in war on inequality
The index and the inequality report was recently released by the international NGO Oxfam and Development Finance International.
- It measures the efforts of governments that had pledged to reduce inequality as part of the sustainable development goals.
- The index mainly focusses on redistributive actions governments can take, rather than those that would prevent rising inequality in the first place.
Performance of various countries:
- India has been ranked 132 out of 152 countries.
- OECD countries headed by Sweden ranked the highest while Nigeria was at the bottom.
- The US had the highest level of inequality among developed countries, though it is the wealthiest country in history.
- Bhutan, known for coining the term `Gross National Happiness’, is ranked even lower than India at 143.
The National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) was proposed in Union Budget 2015. In the last week of December, the government has set up this Rs. 40000 crore fund to provide long term capital for infrastructure projects.
- The objective of NIIF is to maximise economic impact through infrastructure development in viable projects both greenfield and brownfield, including stalled projects, mainly in the core infra sector.
- NIIF has been structured as a fund of funds and set up as Category II Alternate Investment Fund (AIF) under the SEBI Regulations.