Polity & Governance
- NITI Aayog announces launch of the schemes – Lucky Grahak Yojana and Digi-Dhan Vyapar Yojana – for incentivising digital payment
- Second Meeting of Interim Board of CEPI
- Shri Rajnath Singh chairs a meeting of Gorkhaland Territorial Administration
- SC orders closure of liquor shops along all highways
- IAF personnel cannot keep beard: SC
Bilateral & International Relations
- Fifth India-Arab partnership forum in Oman
- e-Tourist visa extended to citizens of 161 countries: Govt
Key Facts for Prelims
- SIES- National Eminence Award
- MoU for power project at Gajmara, Odisha
Polity & Governance
NITI Aayog announces launch of the schemes – Lucky Grahak Yojana and Digi-Dhan Vyapar Yojana – for incentivising digital payment
NITI (National Institution for Transforming India) Aayog has announced the launch of the schemes Lucky Grahak Yojana and the Digi-Dhan Vyapar Yojana to give cash awards to consumers and merchants who utilize digital payment instruments for personal consumption expenditures.
- These schemes aim to give cash awards to consumers and merchants who utilize digital payment instruments for personal consumption expenditures.
- They will specially focus on bringing the poor, lower middle class and small businesses into the digital payment fold.
- National Payment Corporation of India (NPCI) will be the implementing agency for these schemes.
- Transactions using USSD, UPI, RuPay and AEPS will only be covered under these schemes. Digital payments made through credit cards and e-wallets won’t be covered.
- To ensure focus on small transactions incentives will be restricted to transactions within the range of Rs 50 and Rs 3000.
- The winners shall be identified through a random draw of eligible Transaction IDs by software to be especially developed by NPCI for this purpose.
Lucky Grahak Yojana:
- Under it, consumers making payment through digital mode will get chance to win minimum Rs 1000 each every day or Rs 1 lakh per week.
- 15,000 winners will get cashback prizes of Rs 1000 each every day starting on 25 December 2016 (Christmas) and ending on 14 April 2017 (Babasaheb Ambedkar Jayanthi).
- There will be weekly awards worth Rs 1 lakh, Rs 10,000 and Rs 5,000 for 7000 people. On last day of scheme mega prize winner award will be announced. He will get Rs. 1 crore award.
Digi Dhan Vyapar Yojana:
- This scheme is for the merchants across the country. Mandatory for merchants to have POS (Point of Sale) machines for undertaking cashless transactions.
- Under it, merchants doing business using POS are eligible to win Rs.50000 per week from 25 December 2016 to 14 April 2017.
- 3 Mega Prizes for merchants will be of Rs 50 lakhs, 25 lakh, 12 lakh for digital transactions between 8 November 2016 to 13 April 2017. It will be announced on 14 April 2017.
Second Meeting of Interim Board of CEPI
The DBT is hosting the Second Meeting of the Interim Board of Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness and Innovations (CEPI) at New Delhi.
- It is a new global alliance between governments, industries, academia, philanthropy, inter-governmental institutions, the World Health Organization, and civil society.
- For this alliance, the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Ministry of Science & Technology, Government of India is partnering in the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness and Innovations (CEPI).
- The meeting is focused on identifying disease priorities, future strategy and setting of Permanent Secretariat for CEPI.
- The meeting will be attended by Board members from countries in Asia, Africa, Europe, South and North America as well as civil society organizations including Medecins Sans Frontiers as well as the World Health Organization.
What is CEPI?
- CEPI is a new public-private alliance to finance and coordinate the development of new vaccines to prevent and contain infectious disease epidemics.
More about CEPI:
- The concept is to develop early phases of vaccines without knowing the details for the form in which the infection will appear, but will still cut down the time to tailor the eventual vaccine to be effective to the epidemic.
- The structure of CEPI was laid on August 31, 2016 in London and there is an interim Board currently chaired by Prof. K. VijayRaghavan, Secretary DBT. It is the highest decision making body of CEPI, and has supreme decision-making authority for all funding, policy, and product development aspects of CEPI’s operations.
- The scientific input to the Board is provided by a Scientific Advisory Council (SAC) where Indian scientists are members and the joint coordinating group (JCG) is the co-ordination mechanism between CEPI and stakeholders including the vaccine companies.
- The CEPI aims to finance and coordinate the development of new vaccines to prevent and contain infectious disease epidemics.
- CEPI is currently being steered by five founding partners. They are: Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science & Technology, GOI; Government of Norway; Wellcome Trust; Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; and World Economic Forum.
India & CEPI:
- India’s participation in CEPI would provide the opportunity to leverage vaccine development capacities in India, access to vaccines as and when needed, protection of our population and boost our ability to have a competitive vaccine industry.
Shri Rajnath Singh chairs a meeting of Gorkhaland Territorial Administration
The Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has recently chaired a meeting with the delegation of Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA).
What has been discussed?
- During the meeting, it was decided to sympathetically examine and appropriately consider the long pending demands of the Gorkhas, the Adivasis and other people of Darjeeling district and the Dooars region.
- In respect of granting ST Status to 11 Gorkha communities, the Minister for Tribal Affairs informed that the committee constituted for preparing a report for this purpose has been recently granted extension for a further period of four months. The Committee will be asked to try to give its report as per the schedule.
- Regarding setting up of a Central University in GTA region, it was discussed that there is a general mandate for having a Central University in each State. However, there can be an exception to this and accordingly it was decided that the demand of setting up the Central University in GTA region would be considered.
- With respect to the restoring of three-tier Panchayati Raj System in the GTA region, the Ministry of Panchayati Raj is examining the matter.
Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) is a semi-autonomous administrative body for the Darjeeling hills in West Bengal.
- GTA replaced the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council, which was formed in 1988 and administered the Darjeeling hills for 23 years.
- GTA presently has three hill subdivisions Darjeeling, Kalimpong, and Kurseong and some areas of Siliguri subdivision under its authority.
- The GTA has administrative, executive and financial powers but no legislative powers.
SC orders closure of liquor shops along all highways
The Supreme Court has ordered a ban on all liquor shops on national as well as state highways to reduce drink driving and road accidents that claim thousands of lives every year across the country.
- The court ordered all the States and Union Territories to “strictly enforce the directions.”
- It gave the Chief Secretaries and the State police chiefs a month’s time to chalk out a plan for enforcement of the judgment.
Arguments put forth by the petitioner:
The petitioner had mentioned that easy availability of liquor from stores on highways was a major reason for drunk driving. This results into around 1.42 lakh death annually in road accidents, many of which are caused by drunk driving.
- All liquor shops on national as well as state highways to be completely banned.
- Licenses of existing Liquor shops will not be renewed after March 31, 2017.
- All ads indicating presence of liquor vends must be prohibited on national and state highways.
- Liquor Shops must be at least 500 metres away from the outer edge of the highways or service lanes.
- This ban will also extend to stretches of such highways that fall within limits of municipal corporations, city towns and local authorities.
The judgment is a result of the deep concern the court had expressed recently on the 1.5 lakh fatalities annually in road accidents. It had blamed the Centre and the States for not doing enough as lives were lost on the roads.
An analysis of road accident data 2015 reveals that around 1,374 accidents and 400 deaths take place every day on Indian roads, resulting in 57 accidents and loss of 17 lives on an average every hour.[Ref: Indian Express]
IAF personnel cannot keep beard: SC
The Supreme Court ordered that Indian Airforce (IAF) personnel cannot keep beard. It held that Central Government’s decision to ban beards in the IAF does not infringe upon fundamental rights.
What’s the issue?
- The court had pronounced the judgment on an appeal by Mohammed Zubair, who was recruited as Airman in the IAF and was sacked for growing beard even after being denied permission.
- The appellant had claimed that keeping beard is his fundamental right to freedom of religion. However, IAF had countered it saying that keeping a beard was not an essential practice of their faith unlike in the Sikh religion.
What SC says?
- The Supreme Court upheld the decision of the IAF to dismiss a Muslim airman for growing beard citing religious grounds.
- The Armed Forces Regulation, 1964 allows growing hair or to retain a beard is where there is a religious command which prohibits either the hair being cut or a beard being shaved.
- Article 33 of the Constitution has the authority to impose restriction on the fundamental rights of Armed Forces personnel.
- Defence Ministry’s 2003 notification allows only those Muslim personnel who sported a beard along with moustache at time of commissioning (prior to January 1, 2002) to retain it.
- The objective of these regulations was to ensure uniformity, cohesiveness, discipline and order which are indispensable to the Air Force, as indeed to every armed force of the Union. They have nothing to do with religious rights.
Bilateral & International Relations
Fifth India-Arab partnership forum in Oman
The fifth edition of the India-Arab Partnership Conference was held in Muscat, Oman.
- Theme of the conference was ‘Partnership towards innovation and cooperation in IT’.
- It was organised by the Oman Foreign Ministry, Arab League Secretariat in association with the Union Ministry of External Affairs of India.
- Other collaboration partners of the conference included Federation of Arab Businessmen (FAB) and the General Union of Arab Chambers of Commerce and Industry and Agriculture (GUCCIA).
- Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and Oman Chamber of Commerce were the coordinating agencies. Besides, nine other chambers from the Arab States also participated.
- The aim of the conferences was to enhance flow of investments from both sides, accelerate the investment projects of prioritized sectors, provide conducive environment for export promotion.
- It discussed several important topics in fields of technology, innovation, health, pharma sector, clean technology, renewable energy, food security, education, skills development and tourism sector.
e-Tourist visa extended to citizens of 161 countries: Govt
In a written reply, the government has informed the Rajya Sabha that it has extended the facility of e-Tourist Visa for citizens of 161 countries.
- The reply also mentioned that number of foreign tourist arrivals on e-TV during January to November 2016 was 9,17,446. This period registered a growth of 168.5% over same period of previous year. This indicates success of the e-TV Scheme.
About the scheme:
TVoA (tourist visa on arrival), enabled by Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA), popularly known as e-Tourist Visa scheme, was launched on November 27, 2014.
- Under the e-Tourist Visa scheme, an applicant receives an email authorising him or her to travel to India after it is approved and he or she can travel with a print-out of this authorisation.
- On arrival, the visitor has to present the authorization to the immigration authorities who would then stamp the entry into the country.
- The visas would have a validity of 30 days from the date of arrival. Biometric details of the applicant will be mandatorily captured on arrival in India. The facility can be availed for a maximum of two visits to the country in a calendar year.
E-Tourist Visa scheme is
- Not available to Diplomatic/Official Passport Holders.
- Not available to individuals endorsed on Parent’s/Spouse’s Passport i.e. each individual should have a separate passport.
- Not available to International Travel Document Holders.
Key Facts for Prelims
SIES- National Eminence Award
- Recently, the SIES-Sri Chandrasekarendra Saraswati National Eminence Award has been announced.
- Awardees include:
- Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis (Public Leadership)
- ISRO chairman A S Kiran Kumar (Science & Technology category)
- UK-based scholar John Ralston Marr (International category)
- Hari Katha exponent Kamala Murthy (Social Thinkers, Philosophers and Pravachana Karthas category)
- The award has been instituted in memory of late 68th Sankaracharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham Swami Chandrasekharendra Saraswati, who lived 100 years until his death in 1994
MoU for power project at Gajmara, Odisha
- State-owned power producer National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) and aluminium producer National Aluminium Co. Ltd (NALCO) have signed MoU to establish a 2.4 giga watt (GW) Coal based power project at Gajmara, Odisha.
- The MoU will facilitate setting up of a Joint Venture (JV) Company between NTPC and NALCO.
- It also seeks to set up one million tonne aluminium production facility in Odisha.