Polity & Governance
- Cabinet approves Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana targets 60 lakh youth to be trained afresh
- Cabinet approves the facilities being extended to persons residing in India on Long Term Visa
- Policy to regulate online cab operators in Kerala
- India Post to sell collectible stamps
- Many don’t have power in ‘power-surplus India’
- Cabinet approves revival of defunct Fertilizer Units in Gorakhpur, Sindri and Barauni
- Committee to consider increasing MSP for pulses
- Cabinet nod for 15 % stake sale in NBCC
Defence & Security Issues
- Ashok Patnaik appointed new National Intelligence Grid chief
- IS may have set up sleeper cells in India: Iraqi envoy
- INS India – base depot ship of Indian Navy at New Delhi celebrates Platinum Jubilee
Science & Technology
- Juno sends first-ever image of Jupiter, its moons
Persons in News
- President attends Acharya Bhanubhakta’s 202nd Birth Anniversary
Polity & Governance
Cabinet approves Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana targets 60 lakh youth to be trained afresh
The Cabinet cleared the decks for a Rs. 12,000-crore plan to train 60 lakh youths and certify 40 lakh informally skilled workers over the next four years with a revamped version of the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY).
- The revamped version of the PMKVY includes a mechanism to revive the traditional Guru-Shishya approach to train youth with the help of local craftsmen and trade practitioners.
- Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had proposed to scale up the flagship skilling scheme in this year’s Budget and skill one crore youths over the next three years, but the Cabinet has granted another year for achieving the scheme’s target with a deadline of March 2020.
- During PMKVY-1 in last financial year, the government trained some 1.97 million people against its target of 2.4million.
Key points of the revised PMKVY:
- PMKVY will impart fresh training to 60 lakh youths and certify skills of 40 lakh persons acquired non-formally under the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL).
- As per the approved plan, training centres will be categorised on the basis of their infrastructure and past performance and third party agencies will be deployed to validate their training efforts and placement records.
- Members of Parliament will also be roped in to mobilise youth for training, monitor the scheme in their constituencies and post-training placement of trainees.
- For youths from the Kashmir Valley, the Leh region, the north-eastern States and Left-wing extremism-affected districts, residential programmes will be promoted.
- Training partners under the scheme will be required to ensure valid Aadhaar numbers of trainees at the time of enrolment and subsequently track attendance through students’ biometrics.
- Skill training would be done based on industry-led standards aligned to the National Skill Qualification Framework (NSQF.
- Financial support to trainees will be given in the form of travel allowance and by taking care of boarding and lodging costs. Post-placement support will be given directly to the beneficiaries through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT).
- The scheme, completely aligned to the common norms as notified earlier, would move to a grant-based model where the training and assessment cost would be directly reimbursed to training providers and assessment bodies in accordance with the common norms.
- There will be scholarship for student undergoing training in high end job roles under the Scheme.
About the PMKVY:
The Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY), the world’s largest skill certification and monetary reward scheme, was launched by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi in July 2015, on the occasion of World Youth Skills Day.
- The scheme has been implemented by National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) through a network of 1012 training partners affiliated to the scheme.
- Skill training would be done based on the National Skill Qualification Framework (NSQF) and industry led standards.
- Under the scheme, a monetary reward is given to trainees on assessment and certification by third party assessment bodies. The average monetary reward would be around Rs.8000 per trainee.
- The scheme has been implemented across all 29 states and 6 union territories of the country, and covered 596 districts and 531 constituencies.
- It addresses the requirement for skill development across 29 sectors in which around 566 job roles have been identified for courses in which the youth can enrol and can get trained.
- These courses help in making them more employable with hands on experience on skills that will make them more employable and also more efficient in their work.
- Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana aims to offer 24 lakh Indian youth meaningful, industry relevant, skill based training. Under this scheme, the trainees will be offered a financial reward and a government certification on successful completion of training and assessment, which will help them in securing a job for a better future.
Cabinet approves the facilities being extended to persons residing in India on Long Term Visa
The Union Cabinet has approved the following facilities being extended to persons from Minority communities of Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, namely Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians staying on Long Term Visa (LTV) in India.
Aim of the move:
The move is aimed at easing out the difficulties being faced by them and includes the following:
- Opening of bank account.
- Permission for purchase of property for self-occupation and suitable accommodation for carrying out self – employment.
- Permission to take self-employment.
- Issue of driving licence, PAN card and Aadhar number.
- Allowing free movement within the State /UT where they are staying.
- Transfer of LTV papers from one State to other.
- Waiver of penalty on non-extension of short term Visa /LTV on time.
- Permission to apply for LTV from the place of present residence when the applicants have moved to the place without permission.
Amended provisions of the Citizenship Rules 2009:
In order to facilitate such persons in acquisition of citizenship by amending Citizenship Rules 2009, the provisions will help in the following ways:
- The Collector / DM would be empowered to authorize an officer not below the rank of Sub Divisional Magistrate for administering the oath of allegiance to the applicant.
- The powers would be delegated to the Collectors of the following 16 Districts in 7 States for a period of two years for registration as citizens of India.
- The registration fees for the citizenship of India would be reduced to Rs 100 from the existing range of Rs 3000 – Rs 15000.
- During the last 2 years, government has taken a number of steps to facilitate the stay of persons belonging to minority communities of these countries. However, persons belonging to minority communities in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, namely Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians staying in India on Long Term Visa (LTV) continue to face difficulties with regard to several aspects of living. The Cabinet approval will help ease out the difficulties faced by them.
Policy to regulate online cab operators in Kerala
Kerala government have spelled out in the Transport Aggregator Policy aimed to regulate those providing ‘On demand Information Technology-based Transportation’.
What are the regulations under the new policy?
- Motor vehicles should have digital fare meters with printer, GPS, Web or mobile application for grievance redress and facility for the rider to contact two persons and the local police.
- The licensee should have a 24×7 call centre, operational telephone number and should provide email address of grievance redressal officer and ensure that all journeys are booked only via the aggregator IT-based platform.
- The licensee will have to provide the list of drivers with driving licence, badge number and registration details, chassis number of vehicles on a quarterly basis to STA.
- An annual fee of Rs.100 will be collected from drivers. The drivers can register or log into multiple online cab aggregators.
- They will not be compelled to drive a minimum number of hours.
- The policy of zero tolerance for discrimination or discriminatory conduct while a driver is logged in has been spelled out.
- On receiving a complaint, the erring driver will be suspended and he or she will be deactivated from the platform.
‘Kerala On-Demand IT-based Transportation Scheme 2016’ comes in the backdrop of mushrooming online taxi operators, increasing grievances from riders and the skirmishes with the taxi operators.[Ref: Hindu]
India Post to sell collectible stamps
The Department of Post is planning to set up an independent company for its philately business with an aim to boost revenues from the sale of collectible stamps.
- India Post Philately Company is proposed as a public limited company, fully owned by the government, with an authorised capital of Rs. 100 crore.
- The proposed company will be a service-based one, which will not only sell its products to existing customers —collectors and philatelists — but will also try to attract new ones. It will focus on promotion of philately, mainly among the younger generation.
- As per the proposal, the new firm will have a corporate office and four zonal offices. The board of directors will have seven officials. While the Secretary, Department of Posts, will be the non-executive chairman, India Post officials of the rank of Joint Secretary will be appointed as chairman and managing director on deputation. The board will have three persons from the department and four outsiders.
- India Post is eyeing a jump of Rs. 100 crore, or over 250 per cent, in turnover from the philately segment to Rs. 141 crore in the current fiscal.
- In the six months from January to June this year, the Department has issued 14 commemorative stamps.
Many don’t have power in ‘power-surplus India’
In India, 300 million people don’t have access to electricity, power cuts are rampant and per capita power consumption is significantly lower than the world average. In sharp contrast to this, the Power Ministry says India is power-surplus.
- According to a Load Generation and Balance Report (LGBR) 2016-17 of the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), which functions under the Power Ministry, India is likely to experience the energy surplus of 1.1 per cent in 2016-17.
- While calculating power demand, only people who are connected to the grid and have access to electricity at present are taken into consideration.
- The “real demand” that encompasses all citizens would be known only when India achieves the goal of ‘Power for All’, towards which the government is actively working. Taking this definition into consideration, there has been a significant improvement.
How is the energy surplus or deficiency determined?
- Surplus or deficit is determined by calculating the difference between the demand for power and availability. It is the definition of “demand” that lies at the base of this paradox.
But if there is surplus power, why do we have power cuts?
- State discoms are unable to buy electricity due to poor financial health. There is unused power lying in the grid.
- Transmission and distribution constraints are also responsible for power cuts.
India’s per capita power consumption:
The state of power in the country is best captured by looking at the per capita power consumption.
- On an average, in 2015-16, the per capita consumption in India was 1,070 kWh, less than the world average of 3,026 kWh, as per data from the International Energy Agency. It is also the lowest among BRICS nations.
- India’s low per capita consumption is mainly due to a large population, a low per capita income and a huge population not having access to electricity. Note that six States — Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Odisha, Sikkim, Mizoram, Tripura — will be power-surplus in 2016-17 but the per capita availability in the States is lower than the national average. Overall, as per LGBR, 17 States will have power-surplus in 2016-17.
Cabinet approves revival of defunct Fertilizer Units in Gorakhpur, Sindri and Barauni
The Union Cabinet has approved the revival of defunct Fertilizer Units in Gorakhpur, Sindri and Barauni.
- These include two closed urea units of Fertilizer Corporation India Limited (FCIL) at Sindri (Jharkhand) and Gorakhpur (Uttar Pradesh) and Barauni (Bihar) unit of Hindustan Fertilizers Corporation Limited (HFCL).
- These three fertilizers units would be revived by means of Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) of Public Sector Units (PSUs) namely, National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), Coal India Limited (CIL), Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) and FCIL/HFCL, through ‘nomination route’.
Significance of the move:
- The setting up of new units at Sindri, Gorakhpur and Barauni will meet the growing demand of urea of Bihar, West Bengal and Jharkhand.
- It will also ease the pressure on railway and road infrastructure due to long distance transportation of urea from Western and Central Regions and thereby saving in Govt. subsidy on freight.
- It will also accelerate the economic development of the region. Apart from growth of regional economy, this unit will create opportunities for 1200 direct and 4500 indirect employments.
- These units were lying defunct since their closure during 1990-2002. Therefore, the units and other associated facilities were lying unutilized.
- It is important to mention here that there is no functional urea unit in the Eastern part of the country except two small units at Namrup (Assam).
- Earlier in 2015, Government had approved revival of these three units through ‘bidding route’. However, the bidding process could not be carried forward due to receipt of only one application each.
- To enhance the production of urea indigenously, Govt. had earlier also approved the revival of Talcher (Odisha) & Ramagundam (Telangana) units of FCIL by PSUs through ‘nomination route’.
Urea consumption in India:
- The annual consumption of urea in the country is approx. 320 LMT, out of which 245 LMT is produced indigenously and rest is imported.
Committee to consider increasing MSP for pulses
The Union Government has recently constituted a high-level committee headed by Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian to tackle the shortage of pulses in India.
Mandate of the committee:
- The committee is tasked to study and suggest ways to contain the rising prices of pulses in the country.
- The committee will consider a reasonable hike in the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for pulses and bonus for the farmers to promote pulse cultivation.
- Frame an appropriate long term policy to promote cultivation of pulses in India and shall also consider the issue of subsidising farmers who wish to grow pulses.
Cabinet nod for 15 % stake sale in NBCC
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved the disinvestment of 15% paid up equity of National Buildings Construction Corporation Limited (NBCC) out of its 90 per cent shareholding.
- It would result in estimated receipts of Rs. 1,706 crore approximately to the government.
- NBCC was incorporated in November 1960 as a wholly owned Union Government enterprise under the administrative control of the Union Ministry of Urban Development.
- It was incorporated with the objective of becoming a leading company in the field of engineering, construction, and project management consultancy services.
- Presently, Union Government holds 90% of the equity and the remaining 10% of the equity is held by the Public.
Defence & Security Issues
Ashok Patnaik appointed new National Intelligence Grid chief
Senior IPS officer Ashok Patnaik was appointed CEO of the National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID).
- The post has been vacant since May 2014, when Raghu Raman completed his tenure — ad hoc and interim arrangements were made in the last two years.
What is National Intelligence Grid or NATGRID?
- Conceived in the wake of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, the National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) is a centralised agency which stores sensitive personal information on citizens from almost two dozen agencies to be made available for counter-terror investigations.
- It is a counter terrorism measure that collects and collates a host of information from government databases including tax and bank account details, credit card transactions, visa and immigration records and itineraries of rail and air travel.
- The grid will provide an intelligence database that would have networked 21 sets of data sources to provide quick and secure access of information to about 10 intelligence and law-enforcement agencies including the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and R&AW.
In what ways it is different from NIA and NCTC:
- The National Investigating Agency and the National Counter Terrorism Centre are two organisations established in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks of 2008.
- Unlike the NCTC and the NIA which are central organisations, the NATGRID is essentially a tool that enables security agencies to locate and obtain relevant information on terror suspects from pooled data of various organisations and services in the country.
- It will help identify, capture and prosecute terrorists and help pre-empt terrorist plots.
Criticisms of NATGRID:
- NATGRID faced opposition on charges of possible violations of privacy and leakage of confidential personal information.
- Its efficacy in preventing terror has also been questioned given that no state agency or police force has access to its database thus reducing chances of immediate, effective action.
- NATGRID claims to be protected by several structural and procedural safeguards and oversight mechanisms including that of external audits and technology safeguards.
IS may have set up sleeper cells in India: Iraqi envoy
The new Iraqi Ambassador to India said that the Islamic State may have set up sleeper cells in India owing to the influence of foreign-funded Islamic seminaries and preachers who teach an exclusivist version of Islam.
What is a sleeper cell?
- Sleeper cells are underground groups of terrorists who wait to stage attacks in locations around the world.
- Members of sleeper cells are trained and ready to act at their leaders’ command, but their coordination with central command units often varies. While some might take direct operational orders, others might act more independently, simply waiting for the call.
- They have been likened to reservist soldiers, and they’re a major part of how non-state militant groups like al Qaeda or ISIS operate.
- Members of sleeper cells often lead mundane lives so as to not attract attention. Most are small groups of just a few people — some even operate alone — and they often have no ties with other cells or networks, helping ensure they remain undetected.
INS India – base depot ship of Indian Navy at New Delhi celebrates Platinum Jubilee
INS India, the base depot ship at New Delhi, celebrated its 75th anniversary.
- Established as HMIS India in 1941 it was rechristened as INS India on 26 Jan 1950.
- The Base Depot ship (stone ship in naval parlance) has the privilege of being the Flagship of the Chief of the Naval Staff.
- Started as small unit with a complement of just a handful of officers and sailors, INS India is now a major establishment in New Delhi with a plethora of duties and responsibilities.
- In addition, the establishment provides administrative and logistics cover to all officers and sailors borne in Naval Headquarters and other units at Delhi.
Science & Technology
Juno sends first-ever image of Jupiter, its moons
NASA’s Juno spacecraft has sent an image of Jupiter and three of its moons. It’s the first spacescape returned after the probe’s daring plunge through Jupiter’s lethal radiation belts.
- The colour image shows atmospheric features on Jupiter, including the famous Great Red Spot, and three of the massive planet’s four largest moons — Io, Europa and Ganymede.
About Juno spacecraft:
Juno is the unmanned spacecraft, which has been named after the Roman goddess Juno, the wife of Jupiter who is considered as the god of the sky in ancient Greco-Roman mythology.
- Juno is the first mission designed by NASA to see beneath Jupiter’s clouds.
- It has travelled 2.7 billion kilometres since its launch to reach Jupiter.
- It will orbit Jupiter from pole to pole, 5,000 kilometres above planet’s cloud tops.
- It will sample Jupiter’s charged particles and magnetic fields for the first time to study its composition beneath the sky.
- Juno has nine instruments on board to study atmosphere, gravity, magnetic field and possible existence of solid core in Jupiter.
- Juno will map Jupiter’s gravity and magnetic fields and also track how much water is present in the atmosphere.
- In its mission life, the spacecraft will circle the Jupiter 37 times before finally making a death plunge in 2018 in order to avoid accidentally crashing onto one of the planet’s moons.
- It is important to note that Juno is not the first spacecraft to orbit Jupiter. It is second spacecraft to orbit Jupiter, after Galileo probe which had orbited the planet from 1995–2003. Galileo probe in its mission had found evidence of subsurface saltwater on Jupiter’s moons Europa, Ganymede and Callisto.
Persons in News
President attends Acharya Bhanubhakta’s 202nd Birth Anniversary
The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee attended the 202nd Birth Anniversary celebrations of great Nepali poet Bhanubhakta Acharya at Chowrasta, Darjeeling (West Bengal).
About Bhanubhakta Acharya:
- Bhanubhakta Acharya was a Nepalese poet and writer who translated the great epic Ramayana from Sanskrit to Nepali language.
- He is honoured with the title Adikavi (First poet) of Nepal.
- Bhanu Jayanti is an annually celebrated cultural festival, prevalent among the Nepalese around the world in the remembrance of Bhanubhakta Acharya birthday anniversary. It is generally celebrated in the 13th of July in the 29th day of the Nepali month of Ashadh.