Government Schemes & Policies
- Cabinet approves National Policy on Biofuels – 2018
Issues related to Health & Education
- Cabinet approves establishment of National Institute of Mental Health Rehabilitation at Bhopal
- Cabinet approves setting up of a Central University in Andhra Pradesh
- Govt okays Rs5,000 crore micro-irrigation fund
- Cabinet Approves Development of Infra Components for ‘Freight Village’
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- Newest frog for India from Karnataka
Defence & Security Issues
- Cabinet approves enhancement of budget for implementation of Network for Spectrum for Defence Services
Science & Technology
- Intellectual Property mascot ‘IP Nani’ launched
- CIPAM-DIPP organizes a conference on National IPR Policy
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Government Schemes & Policies
Cabinet approves National Policy on Biofuels – 2018
The Union Cabinet has approved National Policy on Biofuels – 2018 in order to promote biofuels in the country.
Salient Features of the policy:
- The Policy categorises biofuels as “Basic Biofuels” viz. First Generation (1G) bioethanol & biodiesel and “Advanced Biofuels” – Second Generation (2G) ethanol, Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) to drop-in fuels, Third Generation (3G) biofuels, bio-CNG etc. to enable extension of appropriate financial and fiscal incentives under each category.
Scope of raw materials:
- The Policy expands the scope of raw material for ethanol production by allowing use of Sugarcane Juice, Sugar containing materials like Sugar Beet, Sweet Sorghum, Starch containing materials like Corn, Cassava, Damaged food grains like wheat, broken rice, Rotten Potatoes, unfit for human consumption for ethanol production.
Protection to farmers:
- Farmers are at a risk of not getting appropriate price for their produce during the surplus production phase. Taking this into account, the Policy allows use of surplus food grains for production of ethanol for blending with petrol with the approval of National Biofuel Coordination Committee.
Viability gap funding:
- With a thrust on Advanced Biofuels, the Policy indicates a viability gap funding scheme for 2G ethanol Bio refineries of Rs.5000 crore in 6 years in addition to additional tax incentives, higher purchase price as compared to 1G biofuels.
Boost to biodiesel production:
- The Policy encourages setting up of supply chain mechanisms for biodiesel production from non-edible oilseeds, Used Cooking Oil, short gestation crops.
- The policy aims at reducing import dependency.
- By reducing crop burning & conversion of agricultural residues/wastes to biofuels there will be further reduction in Green House Gas emissions.
- Prolonged reuse of Cooking Oil for preparing food, particularly in deep-frying is a potential health hazard and can lead to many diseases. Used Cooking Oil is a potential feedstock for biodiesel and its use for making biodiesel will prevent diversion of used cooking oil in the food industry.
- One 100klpd 2G bio refinery can contribute 1200 jobs in Plant Operations, Village Level Entrepreneurs and Supply Chain Management.
Additional Income to Farmers:
- By adopting 2G technologies, agricultural residues/waste which otherwise are burnt by the farmers can be converted to ethanol and can fetch a price for these waste if a market is developed for the same.
Issues related to Health & Education
Cabinet approves establishment of National Institute of Mental Health Rehabilitation at Bhopal
The Union Cabinet has approved the establishment of National Institute of Mental Health Rehabilitation (NIMHR) at Bhopal.
- NIMHR will be the first of its kind in the country in the area of mental health rehabilitation. It will serve as an institution of excellence to develop capacity building in the area of mental health rehabilitation and also help the Government to develop models for effective rehabilitation of persons with mental illness.
- NIMHR has been established as a Society under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 under the aegis of the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities.
- The main objectives of the NIMHR are to provide rehabilitation services to the persons with mental illness, capacity development in the area of mental health rehabilitation, policy framing and advanced research in mental health rehabilitation.
- The Institute will conduct 12 courses to offer diploma, certificate, graduate, post graduate, M.Phil degrees in the area of mental health rehabilitation.
Cabinet approves setting up of a Central University in Andhra Pradesh
The Union Cabinet has given its in-principle approval for establishing Central University by name of Central University of Andhra Pradesh in Janthaluru village of Ananthapur District of Andhra Pradesh.
- It also approved the proposal for operationalization of Central University in transit campus.
- Initially, the Central University will be formed as society under Societies Registration Act, 1860 in order to give legal status to it till amendment to Central Universities Act, 2009 is enacted and to enable commencement of academic activities from Academic Year 2018-19.
- The Central University will be mentored by existing Central University till its governing structure is in place.
- It will increase access and quality of higher education and help in minimizing the regional imbalances in education facilities. It also gives effect to some provisions of Andhra Pradesh Reorganization Act, 2014.
Govt okays Rs5,000 crore micro-irrigation fund
The government approved a dedicated Rs5,000 crore fund to bring more land area under micro-irrigation as part of its objective to boost agriculture production and farmer’s income.
What is Micro Irrigation Fund?
- ‘Micro Irrigation Fund’ (MIF) has been setup with NABARD under Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY).
- An allocation of Rs2,000 crore has been made for this fiscal while Rs3,000 crore has been earmarked for the 2019-20 fiscal. NABARD will extend the loan to state governments during this period.
- NABARD will provide this amount to states on concessional rate of interest. Borrowings from NABARD shall be paid back in seven years including the grace period of two years.
- The lending rate under MIF has been proposed at 3% lower than the cost of raising the fund by NABARD. This cost would be met from the ongoing scheme of PMKSY-PDMC (per drop more crop component) by amending the existing guidelines.
Beneficiaries of MIF:
- The dedicated fund would supplement the efforts of PMKSY programme and help bring about 10 lakh hectares under micro-irrigation.
- The fund will facilitate States to mobilise resources for their initiatives, including additional (top up subsidy) in implementation of PMKSY-PDMC to achieve the annual target of about 2 million hectares per year during the remaining period of 14th Finance Commission.
- The states might access this fund for innovative integrated projects, including projects in the Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode and also for incentivizing micro irrigation.
- Farmers Producers Organization (FPO)/Cooperatives/State Level Agencies can also access the funds with state government guarantee or equivalent collateral. Farmers Co-operatives may access this fund for innovative cluster based community irrigation projects.
- Micro Irrigation Fund (MIF) will have pan India coverage. States lagging behind in adoption of micro irrigation will be encouraged to take advantage of fund for incentivizing farmers.
- Besides, community driven and innovative projects will be taken up by state will be provided loans to bring additional coverage of micro irrigation.
About Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY):
PMKSY has been formulated amalgamating ongoing schemes viz. AIBP, Integrated Watershed Management Programme (IWMP) and On Farm Water Management (OFWM) component of National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA). It is implemented by Ministries of Agriculture, Water Resources and Rural Development.
Objectives of PMKSY
- Achieve convergence of investments in irrigation at the field level.
- Expand cultivable area under assured irrigation (har khet ko pani).
- Enhance the adoption of precision-irrigation and other water saving technologies (More crop per drop).
- Improve on-farm water use efficiency to reduce wastage of water.
- Enhance recharge of aquifers.
- Introduce sustainable water conservation practices.
Cabinet Approves Development of Infra Components for ‘Freight Village’
Cabinet has approved development of Trunk Infrastructure Components for Integrated Multi Modal Logistics Hub known as “Freight Village” at Nangal Chaudhary in Haryana under Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor Project.
- The Freight Village will be connected through Western Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) at Dabla.
What is a freight village?
A ‘Freight Village’ is a specialised industrial estate which attracts companies that require logistics services and can cluster to improve their competitiveness.
- This will allow relocation of retailers, warehouse operators and logistics service providers supplying the regional FMCG market.
- Due to its proximity to the main city, it will serve as a distribution centre and as a point of transfer between long distance transport by truck, rail and waterway and short distance distribution with delivery vans.
- ‘Freight Village’ includes an inter-modal terminal, which facilitates integration between different modes of transport.
About Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC):
- Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) is a mega infra-structure project of USD 90 billion with the financial & technical aids from Japan, covering an overall length of 1483 KMs between the political capital and the business capital of India, i.e. Delhi and Mumbai.
- The project aims to develop an environmentally sustainable, long lasting and technological advanced infrastructure utilizing cutting age Japanese technologies and to create world class manufacturing and investment destinations in this region.
- The corridor would pass through the six States – U.P, NCR of Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra. However, the Project Influence Region of DMIC includes parts of Madhya Pradesh too.
- It’s end terminals would be at Dadri in the National Capital Region of Delhi and Jawaharlal Nehru Port near Mumbai.
- Distribution of length of the corridor indicates that Rajasthan (39) and Gujarat (38%) together constitute 77% of the total length of the alignment of freight corridor.
- In October 2006, the Indian Government established a dedicated body, the Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India (DFCCIL), to carry out the project.
- The western DFC will separate freight and passenger traffic to increase the speed of freight movement. It will be used to transport fertilisers, food grains, salt, coal, iron & steel and cement.
- The project will eventually be linked to the Eastern DFC to form four hubs known as India’s Golden Quadrilateral including Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata.
- The Western Dedicated Freight Corridor covers a distance of 1504 km of double line electric track from JNPT to Dadri via Vadodara-Ahmedabad-Palanpur-Phulera-Rewari.
- The Western Corridor passes through 5 states- Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
Newest frog for India from Karnataka
Scientists have discovered new frog species named Microhyla kodial or Mangaluru narrow-mouthed frog in a small industrial region in coastal Karnataka.
- It is christened Microhyla kodial after city of Mangaluru (called kodial in Konkani language) from where they spotted it two years ago.
- The frog is seen only in small industrial region which was former timber dumping yards wurrounded by seaport, petrochemical, chemical and refinery industries.
About Microhyla kodial:
Mangaluru narrow-mouthed frog belongs to Microhyla genus which is primarily recorded from south Asia. It is small in size measuring just 2 cm long.
- It is greyish-brown in colour with thick olive-green band on its head, less-prominent dark green bands on rest of its body. It has very distinct loud, long calls.
- It is not seen outside urban area and its behavioural observations revealed that it breeds only during monsoon.
- Its detailed genetic studies show that it is more closely related to Southeast Asian frogs than Indian frogs.
- The industrial patch where it is currently found used to be depot for timber imported from southeast Asia, therefore, it could have been accidentally introduced with timber that came from Myanmar, Malaysia and Indonesia.
- Mangaluru narrow-mouthed frog was the 42nd species belonging to genus Microhyla recorded from south Asia. More than 650 microhylids (frogs belonging to the family Microhylidae) are found across the world’s tropics.
Defence & Security Issues
Cabinet approves enhancement of budget for implementation of Network for Spectrum for Defence Services
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has given its approval for enhancement of budget by Rs.11,330 crore for the Network For Spectrum (NFS) project.
About the Network For Spectrum (NFS) Project:
- Network For Spectrum (NFS) project is for laying of alternate communication network for Defence Services.
- The project is being implemented by Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL).
- The project will also have forward linkages to other related industries such as telecom equipment manufacturing and other telecommunication related services.
- The NFS project will boost the communication capabilities of the Defence Forces in a major way leading to enhanced national operational preparedness.
- The project is crucial since the armed forces will migrate all their communication needs to this optic-fibre network and free more bandwidth for commercial telephony services.
- The Union Defence Ministry and Department of Telecommunication (DoT), the highest decision making body in Telecom Ministry had signed an agreement in 2009-10 to set up exclusive defence network for its communication services.
- Under it, DoT had agreed to vacate 25 MHz of 3G spectrum and 20 MHz of 2G spectrum in phases soley for defence communication purpose.
Science & Technology
Intellectual Property mascot ‘IP Nani’ launched
The government has launched the Intellectual Property (IP) mascot – IP Nani.
About IP Nani:
- Mascot IP Nani is a tech-savvy grandmother who helps the government and enforcement agencies in combating IP crimes with the help of her grandson “Chhotu” aka Aditya.
- The IP mascot will spread awareness about the importance of Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) among people, especially children, in an interesting manner.
- This character is also in line with the World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO) campaign for the World IP Day which celebrates the brilliance, ingenuity, curiosity and courage of the women who are driving change in our world and shaping our common future.
Created in 1967 “to encourage creative activity, to promote the protection of intellectual property throughout the world, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is one of the 17 specialized agencies of the United Nations.
- It has currently 188 member states, administers 26 international treaties, and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
- Non-members are the states of Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Solomon Islands, South Sudan and Timor-Leste. Palestine has observer status.
- India is a member of WIPO and party to several treaties administered by WIPO.
CIPAM-DIPP organizes a conference on National IPR Policy
The Cell for IPR Promotion and Management (CIPAM) recently organized a conference on successful completion of two years of the National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Policy adopted by the Government of India in May 2016.
About the new IPR policy:
- The National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Policy, which was approved by the Union Cabinet in May 2016, is a significant move forward to encourage creativity and stimulate innovation in the country.
- Outreach and Promotion is the first and foremost objective of the National IPR Policy and is critical to shaping an IP environment that is conducive to fostering creativity & innovation in the country.
- The new policy seeks to encourage innovation and improve access to healthcare, food security and environmental protection.
- The Policy will allow compulsory licensing with restrictions in case of a public health emergency such as epidemics and it is compliant with the World Trade Organization’s guidelines.
- The policy seeks to put in place a legal framework that will encourage the IPR regime and reduce the time taken by the government to approve a trademark to a month by 2017. Currently, the process takes more than a year.
- The policy makes the department of industrial policy and promotion (DIPP) the nodal agency for regulating IP rights in the country.
- The Policy states “India shall remain committed to the (World Trade Organisation’s) Doha Declaration on Trade Related IPR Agreement (TRIPS) and Public Health.”
- It also says “India will continue to utilise the legislative space and flexibilities available in international treaties and the TRIPS Agreement.” These flexibilities include the sovereign right of countries to use provisions such as Section 3(d) and CLs for ensuring the availability of essential and life-saving drugs at affordable prices.
- To ensure strong and effective IPR laws, the Policy states India will engage constructively in the negotiation of international treaties and agreements in consultation with stakeholders.
- Cell for IPR Promotion and Management (CIPAM) has been created as a professional body under the aegis of DIPP to take forward the implementation of the National IPR Policy that was approved by the Government in May 2016, with the slogan – “Creative India; Innovative India”.
- CIPAM is working towards creating public awareness about IPRs in the country, promoting the filing of IPRs through facilitation, providing inventors with a platform to commercialize their IP assets and coordinating the implementation of the National IPR Policy in collaboration with Government Ministries/Departments and other stakeholders.