Government Schemes & Policies
- New vehicle scrappage policy may need tinkering
- Government releases Draft policy on Defence Production
Bilateral & International Relations
- Government nominates Professor J S Rajput as India’s Representative to the Executive Board of UNESCO
Defence & Security Issues
- MHA may relax protected area permit rules
- First National Conference on Drug Law Enforcement
Art & Culture
- MADHAVPUR MELA of Gujarat
Key Facts for Prelims
- “Surrender-cum-rehabilitation” scheme
- ‘Print Biennale India 2018’
- March 25: International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic
- Slave Trade
- Abel Prize 2018
- INS Ganga
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Government Schemes & Policies
New vehicle scrappage policy may need tinkering
Prime Minister’s Office has recently cleared government’s New Vehicle Scrappage policy and is awaiting the approval of the GST Council.
Key features of the policy:
- The policy targets to take polluting vehicles out of the roads and help the automobile industry register higher sales.
- The policy mentions about vehicles older than 20 years becoming eligible for benefits under the scrappage scheme.
- The scheme would now come in effect from April 1, 2020, coinciding with the implementation of the BS-VI norms.
Critical analysis of the New Vehicle Scrappage policy:
- The new vehicle scrappage policy of the Centre is unlikely to have any significant impact on the automobile industry in terms of increased demand, according to rating agencies.
- Also, analysts say the benefit offered under the scrappage policy would be 15% of the vehicle’s price. But this advantage would be muted as prices of diesel vehicles were expected to rise 10-15% once the new norms (BS-VI) come into force.
- The total population of commercial vehicles that will be older than 20 years in fiscal 2021 would be 50,000 vehicles, much lower than the government’s earlier estimate of 2.8 crore vehicles. In any case, 70,000 to 90,000 vehicles are scrapped every year. So, it is believed that the impact of the scrappage policy will be limited.
- Also, the proportion of commercial vehicles above 20 years would be one lakh to two lakh units. Besides, most of these older vehicles are used in rural areas and smaller towns by small fleet operators who operate used vehicles and have limited financial resources to purchase new vehicles. Thus, the proposed scrappage policy is unlikely to be materially positive for commercial vehicle demand.
Government releases Draft policy on Defence Production
The Ministry of Defence has released draft policy on defence production that aims to make India one of the top five manufacturers of defence platforms with active participation of public and private sectors.
- The ministry has sought comments and suggestions of experts and stakeholders on policy.
- At present, India is one of the world’s largest importer of military platforms and weapons.
Highlights of the draft policy on defence production:
- The draft policy on defence production envisages achieving a turnover of Rs 1,70,000 crore in military goods and services by 2025 by promoting the domestic defence industry.
- The policy lists as a major aim achieving export of Rs 35,000 crore in military equipment and services by 2025 by promoting the domestic defence industry.
- According to the policy, the government aims to make India self-reliant in defence production as well as fulfil demand of other friendly countries.
- The policy says the licensing process for defence industries will be liberalised and the list of items requiring licences will be reviewed and pruned.
- The policy says the tax regime will be rationalised to make domestic manufacturing attractive by ensuring that there is no tax inversion. Taxes on import of capital goods and services, inputs and components used in defence production will be rationalised.
- The government identified 12 military platforms and weapons systems for production in India to achieve the aim of “self-reliance”. They are fighter aircraft, medium lift and utility helicopters, warships, land combat vehicles, missile systems, gun systems, small arms, ammunition and explosives, surveillance systems, electronic warfare (EW) systems and night fighting enablers, among others.
Bilateral & International Relations
Government nominates Professor J S Rajput as India’s Representativeto the Executive Boardof UNESCO
The Government of India has decided to nominate Professor J S Rajput, former Director NCERT, as India’s representative to the Executive Board (EXB) of UNESCO.
- Professor J S Rajput is an eminent educationist with rich experience in various fields including UNESCO.
Significance of the membership:
- Being a member of the board enables India in principle to play a role in shaping and reviewing UNESCO’s policies and programmes corresponding to its five major programs on education, the natural science, the social and human Sciences, Culture and Communication and Information.
About the Executive Board (EXB) of UNESCO:
- The EXB is one of the constitutional organs of UNESCO and is elected by the General Conference.
- It has four-year term and 58 seats.
- The board examines work for UNESCO and the corresponding budget estimates.
- In practice, it is main organ responsible for all policies and programmes of UNESCO.
- The general conference consists of the representatives of the states members of the organisation.
- It meets every two years, and is attended by member states and associate members, together with observers for non-member states, intergovernmental organisations and non- governmental organisations (NGOs).
- Each country has one vote, irrespective of its size or the extent of its contribution to the budget.
- The general conference determines the policies and the main lines of work of the organisation.
- Its duty is to set the programmes and the budget of the UNESCO. It also elects the members of the executive board and appoints, every four years.
Defence & Security Issues
MHA may relax protected area permit rules
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is planning to relax the protected area permit (PAP) regime to enable foreign tourists to access border areas.
- The move is being initiated to promote tourism, create job opportunities for the locals and generate revenue for the states.
- The proposal of relaxation of permit regime is being taken into consideration following several requests by states falling under protected areas regime and Ministry of Tourism.
- MHA will coordinate with other agencies and state governments to identify possible locations for which protected area permit (PAP) regime provisions may be relaxed. However, citizens from Pakistan and China are unlikely to be given these relaxations.
Protected areas and Protected area permit
- Under Foreigners (Protected Areas) Order, 1958, all areas falling between Inner line and International Border of some states have been declared as protected areas.
- The protected areas currently include whole of Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland and Sikkim, besides parts of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan and Jammu and Kashmir.
- Some parts of Sikkim fall under protected area regime while others under restricted area regime.
- As per MHA’s December 2010 circular, Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland were excluded from protected area regime initially for a period of one year from January 2011, subject to some conditions.
- Under it, foreign national is not normally allowed to visit protected or restricted area unless Government is satisfied that there are extra-ordinary reasons to justify his or her visit.
- Every foreigner, except citizen of Bhutan, who desires to enter and stay in protected or restricted area, is required to obtain a special permit from a competent authority having the power to issue such permits to a foreigner, seeking it.
- Citizens of Afghanistan, China and Pakistan and foreign nationals of Pakistani origin are not allowed to enter such areas.
Who can issue such permits?
- Necessary powers have been delegated to various authorities to issue such special permits without prior approval of MHA to facilitate foreign tourists subject to certain exceptions.
- In cases of citizens of Afghanistan, China and Pakistan and foreign nationals of Pakistani origin, no permit can be issued without prior approval of MHA. In cases of foreign diplomats, including members of United Nations and international organisations holding diplomatic or official passports, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) issues special permits to visit such protected or restricted areas.
First National Conference on Drug Law Enforcement
The first-ever National Conference on Drug Law Enforcement was held in New Delhi.
- The 2-day conference was organized by Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), Ministry of Home Affairs.
- More than 50 State and Central law enforcement agencies involved in combating drug trafficking had participated in this Conference.
About Narcotics Control Bureau:
The Narcotics Control Bureau is the apex coordinating agency.
- The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 which came into effect from the 14th November, 1985 made an express provision for constituting a Central Authority for the purpose of exercising the powers and functions of the Central Government under the Act.
- In presence of this provision, the Government of India constituted the Narcotics Control Bureau on the 17th of March, 1986.
- The Director General of NCB is an officer of the Indian Police Service (IPS) or the Indian Revenue Service (IRS).
- The Narcotics Control Bureau is also represented on the Economic Intelligence Council.
- NCB is affiliated to Home Ministry, which was made responsible for administering The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985.
- Fight drug trafficking on all-India level.
- Provide resources and training to personnel of India’s law enforcement agencies in fighting drug trafficking
- Monitor India’s frontiers to track down points where smuggling activities take place with foreign traffickers.
- Work in close cooperation with Customs and Central Excise, State Police Department, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Central Economic Intelligence Bureau (CEIB) and other Indian intelligence and law enforcement agencies both at the national and states level.
Need to curb the drug menace:
- According to the latest assessments, there are approximately 40 lakh drug addicts in India but the actual figure may be still higher.
- The most common drugs of abuse are ‘ganja’, ‘hashish’, ‘opium’ and ‘heroin’. The abuse of pharmaceutical preparations like ‘buprenorphine’, codeine based cough syrups and painkillers like ‘proxivon’ has also assumed serious proportions.
- In certain regions of the country, drug abuse has already become a severe social-economic problem affecting the vulnerable age groups, the official said.
It is, therefore, essential that the state governments and UTs are aware of the drug related problems in their states and UTs and address them in an effective manner before they assume epidemic proportions, another official said.
Government’s efforts in this regard:
The Government has taken several policy and other initiatives to deal with drug trafficking problem.
- It constituted Narco-Coordination Centre (NCORD) in November, 2016 and revived the scheme of “Financial Assistance to States for Narcotics Control”. Besides, in 2017, the government approved new Reward Guidelines with increased quantum of reward for interdiction or seizure of different illicit drugs.
- For effective coordination with foreign countries including neighboring countries, India has signed 37 Bilateral Agreements/Memoranda of Understanding.
- Narcotics Control Bureau has been provided funds for developing a new software i.e. Seizure Information Management System (SIMS) which will create a complete online database of drug offences and offenders.
- The government has constituted a fund called “National Fund for Control of Drug Abuse” to meet the expenditure incurred in connection with combating illicit traffic in Narcotic Drug, Psychotropic Substances; identifying, treating and rehabilitating addicts, and educating public against drug abuse, etc.
- The government is also conducting National Drug Abuse Survey to measure extent, pattern and trends of drug abuse in India through Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment with the help of National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre of AIIMS.
Art & Culture
MADHAVPUR MELA of Gujarat
Ministry of Culture is organizing the Madhavpur Mela in Madhavpur Ghed, District Porbandar in Gujarat in a grand way.
About Madhavpur Mela:
- The purpose of this integration is to bring various parts of the country especially the North-East, close to each other under the banner of Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat announced by the Prime Minister.
- The Madhavpur Mela of Gujarat shares its connect to the Mishmi Tribe of Arunachal Pradesh. The Mishmi Tribe traces its ancestry to the legendary King Bhishmak and through him to his daughter Rukmini and Lord Krishna.
- Madhavpur Ghed is small but culturally significant village. According to folklore, it is place where, Lord Krishna married Rukmini, the daughter of King Bhishmaka.
- Madhavpur lies on the seashore, close to Porbandar. 15th century Madhavrai temple marks the site. Madhavpur Mela is commemorated b cultural fair held every year, commencing on Ram Navami. As part of the celebrations, a colorful chariot carrying idol of Krishna circumnavigates village and festivities usually continue for five days.
About Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat programme:
- The Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat programme was launched by the Prime Minister on 31st October, 2016 to promote engagement amongst the people of different states/UTs so as to enhance mutual understanding and bonding between people of diverse cultures, thereby securing stronger unity and integrity of India.
- All States and UTs will be covered under the programme.
- There will be pairing of States/UTs at national level and these pairings will be in effect for one year, or till the next round of pairings.
- The State/UT level pairings would be utilized for state level activities. District level pairings would be independent of the State level pairings.
Key Facts for Prelims
- Surrender-cum-rehabilitation scheme for Northeast States was meant to “wean away the misguided youth and hardcore militants who have strayed into the fold of militancy and find themselves trapped in that net.”
- The scheme also seeks to ensure that the militants who have surrendered do not find it attractive to join militancy again.
- The MHA reimburses the amount paid to the surrendered militants by the State governments under the Security Related Expenditure (SRE) scheme.
Why in news?
- For the first time since 1998, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has increased the monthly stipend of surrendered militants in northeast India.
- The stipend for the former militants has been increased from ₹3,500 to ₹6,000 per month and the one-time grant has been enhanced from ₹1.5 lakh to ₹4 lakh.
‘Print Biennale India 2018’
- The first-ever International Print Biennale, an International Exhibition of Graphic Prints was held in New Delhi.
- It was organised by Lalit Kala Akademi.
About Lalit Kala Akademi:
- Also called as National Academy of Art, Lalit Kala Akademi is India’s national academy of fine arts.
- It is autonomous organisation It was established in 1954 to promote and propagate understanding of Indian art, in and outside the country.
- It provides scholarships and fellow program and sponsors and organises exhibitions in India and overseas.
- It publishes bilingual journal. It is funded by Ministry of Culture.
March 25: International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade
- The International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade is observed every year on March 25 across the world.
- The 2018 theme was ‘Remember Slavery: Triumphs and Struggles for Freedom and Equality’.
- The International Day of Remembrance of Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade was instituted by United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) by adopting a resolution in 2007. It was first observed in 2008 and since then it is observed annually.
- It is managed by Education Outreach Section of Department of Public Information’s Outreach Division of UN.
- The programme aims to raise awareness of dangers of racism and prejudice organizing educational activities throughout year such as film screenings, exhibition, tours of the Permanent Memorial, roundtable discussions etc.
Abel Prize 2018
- Canadian mathematician Robert P. Langlands has won prestigious Abel Prize 2018 for his visionary programme connecting representation theory to number theory.
- Abel Prize is awarded annually by Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters to one or more outstanding mathematicians.
- It is named after 19th century Norwegian mathematician Niels Henrik Abel.
- It is one of world’s top prizes in mathematics and is considered to be maths equivalent of Nobel Prize, which has no prize for mathematics.
- Indian American mathematician R. Srinivasa Varadhan was bestowed with this award in 2007 for his fundamental contributions to probability theory and for creating a unified theory of large deviation.
- Recently, Indian Navy’s indigenously built warship INS Ganga (F22) was decommissioned in Mumbai, Maharashtra after over three decades of service.
- INS Ganga (F22) was a Godavari-class guided-missile frigate of the Indian Navy.
- The Godavari class was first indigenous warship design and development initiative of Indian Navy.