Polity & Governance
- ‘ShaGun’ – a web-portal for Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan
- Cabinet approves the repealing of the obsolete and redundant laws
- Union Cabinet approves to augment CGTMSE for supporting MSEs
- Cabinet approves amendment in Modified Special Incentive Package Scheme
- CCEA approves listing of five state-owned general insurance companies
Bilateral & International Relations
- Cabinet approves India’s Membership in the International Vaccine Institute (IVI), South Korea
- MoU between India and the United Arab Emirates on the Mutual Recognition of Certificates of Competency
Key Facts for Prelims
- 24th Conference of Central and State Statistical Organisations (COCSSO)
- ‘Dynamic’ Bengaluru beats Silicon Valley in global index
- Physicists create a new form of Hydrogen
Polity & Governance
‘ShaGun’ – a web-portal for Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan
The Union Government launched a dedicated web portal ShaGun for monitoring the progress of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA).
About the ShaGun portal:
- ShaGun portal was developed by World Bank in collaboration with Union Ministry of Human Resource Development.
- Its name has been derived from the words Shala (means schools) and Gun (i.e. Gunvatta meaning Quality).
- It was developed with a twin track approach to monitor schools under the SSA and also the quality of education imparted by them.
- It will capture and showcase innovations and progress in Elementary Education sector of India by continuous monitoring SSA.
- ShaGun will help in monitoring progress in implementation of SSA by assessing the performance of states/UTs on key parameters that will help Government to plan and deliver quality education to all.
- It will collect and report data to enable the government and administrators to track the efficiency with which SSA funds are being utilised and the results are been delivered.
The portal has two parts:
- Online Monitoring will capture the progress in implementation. Regular updates of progress will be available through dashboards to the Ministry and States for internal monitoring. Some reports would also be available in the public domain.
- SSA Repository is a repository of innovative practices, success stories, evaluation reports, and interventions initiated across all the States and Union Territories in the area of Elementary Education.
About Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA):
- Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) is Government of India’s flagship programme for achievement of Universalization of Elementary Education (UEE) in a time bound manner.
- It is mandated by 86th amendment to the Constitution of India making free and compulsory Education to the Children of 6-14 years age group, a Fundamental Right.
- It is being implemented in partnership with State Governments to cover the entire country and address the needs of 192 million children in 1.1 million habitations.
The objectives of SSA:
- Enrolment of all children in school, EGS, alternate schools, back to school camp by 2005.
- Retention of all children till the upper primary stage by 2010
- Bridging of gender and social category gaps in enrolment, retention and learning.
- Ensuring that there is significant enhancement in the learning achievement levels of children at the primary and upper primary stage.
Cabinet approves the repealing of the obsolete and redundant laws
The Union Cabinet has given its nod to a Law Ministry proposal to bring the Repealing and Amending Bill, 2017 to scrap 105 redundant laws which have been clogging the statute books.
- The 105 laws, which would be repealed once the bill is passed, include the 2008 amendments to the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, The President’s Emoluments and Pension Act and the Vice-President’s Pension Act.
- Till date, 73 ministries/departments including Legislative Department have given their comments whereby they have agreed to repeal 105 Acts and disagreed to repeal about 139 Acts.
- The two-member committee constituted by the PMO, the Law Commission and the Legislative Department had identified 1824 redundant and obsolete Central Acts for repeal.
- Four Acts have so far been enacted to repeal 1175 Central Acts between May, 2014 and August, 2016 by the Parliament.
Union Cabinet approves to augment CGTMSE for supporting MSEs
The Union Cabinet has approved package for augmentation of the Corpus of Credit Guarantee Trust Fund for Micro and Small Enterprises (CGTMSE) for supporting Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs).
- With this, the corpus of the Trust has been increased from Rs. 2,500 crore to Rs. 7,500 crore and it will be fully funded by the Union Government.
The proposal entails the following:
- Increase coverage of the loans covered under the credit guarantee scheme from Rs. 1 crore to Rs. 2 crore;
- Increase coverage of the credit guarantee scheme for loans extended to MSEs by NBFCs also.
- This will enable the Trust to enhance the quantum.
Benefits of these measures:
- Lower the level of leverage
- Improve sustainability of the Fund.
- Improve financial management.
- Limit the unfunded contingent liabilities.
- Enable the CGTMSE to enhance the quantum of credit guarantee to larger number of MSEs.
Significance of the move:
- Augmentation of the corpus of the fund will facilitate larger flow of credit to MSEs.
- This in turn, will lead to increase output and employment and thereby promote equity and inclusiveness.
- Start-ups will also be encouraged to set up enterprises based on innovation and new ideas as the scheme provides credit without collateral and third-party guarantee.
Cabinet approves amendment in Modified Special Incentive Package Scheme
The Union Cabinet has given its approval for amendment in the Modified Special Incentive Package Scheme (M-SIPS) to further incentivize investments in Electronic Sector and moving towards the goal of ‘Net Zero imports’ in electronics by 2020.
- The applications will be received under the scheme upto 31st December 2018 or till such time that an incentive commitment of Rs 10,000 crore is reached, whichever is earlier. In case the incentive commitment of Rs 10,000 crore is reached, a review will be held to decide further financial commitments.
- For new approvals, the incentive under the scheme will be available from the date of approval of a project and not from the date of receipt of application.
- The incentives will be available for investments made within 5 years from the date of approval of the project.
- Approvals will normally be accorded to eligible applications within 120 days of submission of the complete application.
- A unit receiving incentives under the scheme, will provide an undertaking to remain in commercial production for a period of at least 3 years.
- The Appraisal Committee recommending approval of project will be chaired by Secretary, Ministry of Electronics and IT.
Significance of amendment in M-SIPS:
- Besides expediting investments into the Electronics System Design and Manufacturing (ESDM) sector in India, the amendments in M-SIPS are expected to create employment opportunities and reduce dependence on imports.
- The Policy covers all States and Districts and provides them an opportunity to attract investments in electronics manufacturing.
What is M-SIPS?
The Union Cabinet in 2012 approved the Modified Special Incentive Package Scheme (M-SIPS) to provide a special incentive package to promote large scale manufacturing in the ESDM sector to boost domestic electronic product manufacturing in the country.
- The scheme provides subsidy for capital expenditure 20% for investments in Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and 25% in non-SEZs.
- It also provides reimbursement of countervailing duty/excise for capital equipment for non-SEZ units and also reimbursement of duties and central taxes for some of the projects with high capital investments.
CCEA approves listing of five state-owned general insurance companies
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has given its ‘in principle’ approval for listing the five Public Sector General Insurance Companies (2016-17) owned General Insurance Companies in the stock exchanges.
- The shareholding of these PSGICs will be divested from 100% to 75% in one or more tranches over a period of time as per Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) rules and regulations.
- New India Assurance Company Ltd,
- United India Insurance Company Ltd,
- Oriental Insurance Company Ltd,
- National Insurance Company Ltd and
- General Insurance Corporation of India.
Significance of this listing:
- It brings transparency and equity in the companies functioning as listing on the stock exchange necessitates compliance requirements of SEBI.
- It improves corporate governance and risk management practices leading to improved efficiency. It will lead to greater focus on growth and earnings.
- It opens the way for the companies to raise resources from the capital market to meet their fund requirements to expand their businesses, instead of being dependent on the Government for capital infusion.
- Divestment in these companies will help government in raising resources and portion of the funds can be used by the company for expansion.
- The Union Finance Minister in his 2016-17 Budget speech had announced that public shareholding in Government-owned companies is a means of ensuring higher levels of transparency and accountability. In order to promote this objective, the general insurance companies owned by the Government will be listed on the stock exchanges.
Bilateral & International Relations
Cabinet approves India’s Membership in the International Vaccine Institute (IVI), South Korea
The Union Cabinet has given its approval to the proposal for India’s taking full membership of the International Vaccine Institute (IVI) Governing Council.
- The move involves payment of annual contribution of US $5,00,000 to the IVI (headquartered in Seoul, South Korea).
- In 2007 with the approval of Union Cabinet, India joined IVI. Since then India is a long-term collaborator and stake-holder of IVI.
- In 2012, IVI’s Board of Trustees (BOT) had approved the formation of its new governance structure. As per the new structure of its member state has to contribute to the IVI by paying a portion of its core budget. Since India has been classified in Group-I, it has to pay an annual contribution of US $50,000.
- International Vaccine Institute (IVI) is an international nonprofit organization devoted to developing and introducing new and improved vaccines to protect the people, especially children, against deadly infectious diseases.
- It was established in 1997 on the initiatives of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
- Its work is exclusively on vaccine development and introduction specifically for people in developing countries, with a focus on neglected diseases affecting these regions.
- Currently, IVI has 40 countries and the World Health Organization (WHO) as signatories to its Establishment Agreement.
MoU between India and the United Arab Emirates on the Mutual Recognition of Certificates of Competency
The Union Cabinet has approved the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and the United Arab Emirates on the Mutual Recognition of Certificates of Competency.
- The proposed MoU will pave way for recognition of maritime education and training, certificates of competency, endorsements, training documentary evidence and medical fitness certificates for seafarers issued by the Government of the other country.
- The certificates will be issued in accordance with the provisions of Regulation 1/10 of the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) Convention, and cooperation between the two countries in training and management of seafarers.
- The MoU will ensure that the education, training and assessment of seafarers, as required by the STCW Convention, are administered and monitored in accordance with of the STCW Code for each type and level of training assessment involved.
What is STCW?
The International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW), 1978 sets qualification standards for masters, officers and watch personnel on seagoing merchant ships.
- STCW was adopted in 1978 by conference at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in London, and entered into force in 1984.
- The Convention was significantly amended in 1995.
- Previously the standards of training, certification and watchkeeping of officers and ratings were established by individual governments, usually without reference to practices in other countries. The 1978 STCW Convention was the first to establish basic requirements on training, certification and watchkeeping for seafarers on an international level.
Key Facts for Prelims
24th Conference of Central and State Statistical Organisations (COCSSO)
- Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI) has organized a two day Conference of Central and State Statistical Organizations (COCSSO) at Nagpur, Maharashtra.
- This Conference is being conducted in collaboration with the Directorate of Economics and Statistics(DES), Government of Maharashtra.
- The theme of this year’s Conference is “Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare”.
- As per the recommendations of the National Statistical Commission, Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation organizes a COCSSO every year, which provides a platform for the Central and State Statisticians to exchange views and discuss common issues relating to statistical activities.
- This is a major national forum for coordination between the Central and State Statistical Agencies with the objective of putting in coordinated efforts for making available reliable and timely statistics to planners and policy makers, not only in Government but also in private corporate sector for evidence based decision making and good governance.
‘Dynamic’ Bengaluru beats Silicon Valley in global index
- Bengaluru has emerged as the most dynamic city in Jones Lang LaSalle’s fourth annual City Momentum Index of cities around the world.
- Bengaluru is followed by Ho Chi Minh City of Vietnam and Silicon Valley in the U.S.
- Other cities in Top 10 category include Shanghai, Hyderabad, London, Austin, Hanoi, Boston and Nairobi.
- Asia-Pacific cities comprise half of the top 30 fastest-changing cities.
- India has taken over from China as home to some of the world’s most dynamic cities.
- Six Indian cities feature in the CMI Global Top 30, with the country’s primary technology hub, Bengaluru, moving into the top spot for the first time.
- The annual City Momentum Index tracks the speed of change of a city’s economy and commercial real estate market. It covers 134 major established and emerging business hubs and identifies cities that have the potential to maintain the greatest dynamism over the short and long term.
- The rise of Indian cities is primarily due to successful transitioning to high-value manufacturing and service-based activities, with employment, wealth generation, and commercial real estate growth driving the rankings.
Physicists create a new form of Hydrogen
- Physicists from Austria have created new form of Hydrogen i.e. negatively charged hydrogen clusters. It is a previously unseen form of hydrogen.
- For the past forty years, existence of hydrogen in ion clusters was known and is positively-charged clusters have already exists.
- The research will help researchers to easily identify the clusters in nature.