Polity & Governance
- Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Sanchar Kaushal Vikas Pratisthan Scheme Launched
- Preference to ‘Make in India’ in Government procurements
- Cabinet approves setting up of new AIIMS in Kamrup, Assam
- Cabinet approves phasing out Foreign Investment Promotion Board
- Fund for development and maintenance of National Waterways (NWs)
Bilateral & International Relations
- Joint Declaration of Intent between Germany and India regarding cooperation in the sector of alternative medicine
Key Facts for Prelims
- SBI launches national hackathon
- India is no. 2 stainless steel producer in the world
- Mumbai, Kota among world’s most crowded cities
For IASToppers’ Current Affairs Analysis Archive, Click Here
Polity & Governance
Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Sanchar Kaushal Vikas Pratisthan Scheme Launched
The Minister of State for Communications Manoj Sinha has launched three new initiatives, namely,
1) BSNL’s satellite phone service:
- It will be offered in a phased manner.
- In the first phase, the service will be extended to the government agencies handling a disaster, state police, railways, Border security forces and other government agencies.
- In the subsequent phases, the phone service would be offered to those people who are travelling in flight and ships.
- Global satellite phone service is modern satellite phone service.
2) Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Telecom Skill Excellence Award Scheme:
- It has been instituted to recognize achievers and talents in Telecom sector.
3) Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Sanchar Kaushal Vikas Pratisthan Scheme:
- Under the scheme, the ministry will impart training to 10,000 people from 10 States/UTs in the first phase.
- States like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha, Punjab and Haryana will get benefitted in the first phase.
- Further, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) plans to established more than 1,000 Sanchar Kaushal Vikas Pratisthan in future.
Preference to ‘Make in India’ in Government procurements
The Union Cabinet Chaired by Prime Minister has given its approval for a national procurement policy that gives preference to ‘Make In India’ in government procurements.
- The policy aims to maintain the balance between promoting ‘Make in India’ and ensuring timely, quality and value-for-money products for the procuring government entities.
About the new policy:
- The national procurement policy will provide purchase preference to local content in Government procurements. Local content essentially means domestic value addition and local suppliers are those whose goods or services meet minimum thresholds (50%) for local content.
- For the procurement of goods below Rs 50 lakhs, only local suppliers will be eligible if the Nodal Ministry determines that there is a availability of sufficient local capacity and local competition.
- For procurements valued above Rs 50 lakhs or in case of insufficient local capacity and if the lowest bid happens to be from a non local supplier, then the lowest-cost local supplier who is within a margin of 20% of the lowest bid, will be offered an opportunity to match the lowest bid.
- If the order can be split into more than one supplier, the order will be split between the non-local supplier and the local supplier.
- Small procurements valued below Rs 5 lakhs are exempted from the policy. The order also covers autonomous bodies and all the government entities under the control of the government.
- The policy primarily favours self certification for verification of local content. However, if the declarations were found to be false then the supplier will have to face penal consequences.
- A Standing Committee in Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) will oversee the implementation of this order. It will further make recommendations to Nodal Ministries and procuring entities.
Significance of the move:
- The new policy will boost domestic manufacturing and service provision and will enhance income and employment.
- It will facilitate flow of capital and technology into domestic manufacturing and services.
- It will also provide a further thrust towards manufacture of parts, components, sub-components etc. of these items, in line with the vision of ‘Make in India’.
- As the government procurement is always substantial it can contribute towards increasing the participation of local employees and improve their living conditions.
Cabinet approves setting up of new AIIMS in Kamrup, Assam
The Union Cabinet has given its approval for establishment of new AIIMS at Kamrup (North Guwahati Revenue circle).
- The cost of the project is Rs.1123 crore and it will be set up under the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY).
- The establishment of new AIIMS is aimed at serving the dual purpose of providing super speciality health care to the population while also help create a large pool of doctors and other health workers in this region that can be available for primary and secondary level institutions / facilities being created under National Health Mission (NHM).
About Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY):
The Central Sector Scheme, Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY) was first announced in August 2003 with the primary objective of correcting the regional imbalances in availability of affordable/reliable tertiary level healthcare in the country in general, and to augment facilities for quality medical education in under-served or backward States, in particular.
- The scheme has two components: Setting up of new AIIMS and upgradation of government medical colleges.
- Under this scheme, AIIMS have been established in Bhubaneshwar, Bhopal, Raipur, Jodhpur, Rishikesh and Patna while work of AIIMS Rae Bareli is in progress.
- Also, three AIIMS in Nagpur (Maharashtra), Kalyani (West Bengal) and Mangalagiri in Guntur (Andhra Pradesh) have been sanctioned in 2015 and two AIIMS have been sanctioned at Bathinda and Gorakhpur in 2016.
Cabinet approves phasing out Foreign Investment Promotion Board
The Union Cabinet has given its approval to the phasing out of Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB).
- The proposal entails abolishing the FIPB and allowing administrative Ministries/Departments to process applications for FDI requiring government approval.
Rationale behind the move:
Over 90% of the FDI inflows in value terms enters through automatic route. The government expects that scrapping of FIPB would help in ease of doing business. At present, only 11 sectors, including defence and retail trading needs government approval for foreign direct investment (FDI).
What is the new mechanism?
- Henceforth, concerned ministries will be responsible for direct approval of foreign investment proposals.
- FDI proposals would be approved by the ministries concerned by following the standard operating procedure approved by the Cabinet.
- Those 11 sectors that require approval would be dealt directly by the concerned ministry.
- In proposals related to security, the proposals will also need to require the approval of Home Ministry.
- Those proposals which are presently pending before the FIPB will be sent back to the ministries concerned.
- The FDI proposals above Rs 5,000 crore will continue to come under the purview of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA).
Significance of the move:
- With this, Foreign Investors will find India more attractive destination and this will result in more inflow of FDI.
- The move will provide ease of doing business and will help in promoting the principle of Maximum Governance and Minimum Government.
Foreign Investment Promotion Board:
- The Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) is an inter-ministerial body, responsible for processing of FDI proposals and making recommendations for Government approval.
- It is housed in the Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance.
Functions of the FIPB:
- Although India allows FDI in most sectors through the automatic route, but in certain segments considered sensitive for the economy and security, the proposals have to be first cleared by FIPB.
- It provides a single window clearance for proposals on FDI in India.
- The decisions taken by FIPB are based on the extant FDI Policy, Press Notes and other related notified guidelines formulated by Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
Composition of FIPB:
FIPB comprises of the following Secretaries to the Government of India:
- Secretary to Government, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance – Chairperson
- Secretary to Government, Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion, Ministry of Commerce & Industry
- Secretary to Government, Department of Commerce, Ministry of Commerce & Industry
- Secretary to Government, Economic Relations, Ministry of External Affairs
- Secretary to Government, Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs.
Fund for development and maintenance of National Waterways (NWs)
The Union Cabinet has accorded its approval for amendment of Central Road Fund Act, 2000 to allocate 2.5% of the proceeds of Central Road Fund (CRF) for development and maintenance of National Waterways (NWs) and a reduction in the share provided for development of National Highways.
- The proposal was jointly mooted by the Ministry of Shipping and the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways (MoRTH).
- In this regard, the Central Road Fund (Amendment) Bill, 2017 would be moved by the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways in the ensuing Monsoon Session, 2017 of the Parliament.
Significance of this move:
- The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) has estimated that approximately Rs. 25,000 crores would be required for development of identified projects on NWs till 2022-23. An allocation of 2.5% of CRF proceeds would provide approximately Rs.2000 crore per annum for the development and maintenance of NWs at existing rates of duties funding the CRF.
About Central Road Fund:
- The Central Road Fund was established by the government as per the Central road fund act 2000 to fund the development and maintenance of National Highways, State Highways and Rural roads.
- In order to mobilise the fund, the Central Road Fund Act 2000 proposed to levy and collect by way of cess, a duty of excise and duty of customs on petrol and high speed diesel oil.
- The fund is utilised for the development and maintenance of National highways, State roads, Rural roads and for provision of road overbridges/under bridges and other safety features at unmanned Railway Crossings.
- Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) is the statutory body in charge of the waterways in India.
- Its headquarters is located in Noida, UP.
- Its main function is to build the necessary required infrastructure in these waterways, surveying the economic feasibility of new projects and also administration and regulation.
- The National Waterways Act, 2016 was passed in 2016 for the development and maintenance of National Waterways. The act which came into force in 12 April, 2016 has declared 111 inland waterways across 24 states as national waterways. At present five National Waterways are operational.
Bilateral & International Relations
Joint Declaration of Intent between Germany and India regarding cooperation in the sector of alternative medicine
The Union Cabinet has approved the Joint Declaration of Intent (JDI) between Germany and India regarding cooperation in the sector of alternative medicine.
- The financial resources necessary to conduct research, training courses, conferences / meetings will be met from the existing allocated budget and existing plan schemes of Ministry of AYUSH.
Significance of this move:
- The signing of the JDl will enhance bilateral cooperation between the two countries in the areas of traditional/alternative medicine.
- Initiation of collaborative research, training and scientific capacity building in the field of alternative medicine under the JDI between the two countries would contribute to the enhanced employment opportunities in the AYUSH sector.
What is alternative medicine?
- Alternative medicine practices are used instead of standard medical treatments.
- Alternative medicine is distinct from complementary medicine which is meant to accompany, not to replace, standard medical practices.
- Alternative medical practices are generally not recognized by the medical community as standard or conventional medical approaches.
- Alternative medicine includes dietary supplements, megadose vitamins, herbal preparations, special teas, massage therapy, magnet therapy, and spiritual healing.
Key Facts for Prelims
SBI launches national hackathon
- State Bank of India (SBI) has launched a national hackathon for developers, start-ups and students to come up with innovative ideas and solutions for the banking sector.
- The hackathon, named ‘Code For Bank’, will focus on the business value driven by technologies like predictive analytics, fin-tech/blockchain, digital payments, IOT, artificial intelligence, machine learning, BOTS and robotic process automation.
India is no. 2 stainless steel producer in the world
- According to the figures disclosed by International Stainless Steel Forum at a conference recently held in Tokyo, Japan, India has emerged as the second largest stainless steel producer in the world after China.
- India toppled Japan in the year 2016.
Mumbai, Kota among world’s most crowded cities
- World Economic Forum citing UN-Habitat data has named two Indian cities – Mumbai and Kota – among the world’s most crowded in a list topped by Dhaka.
- With a population density of 44,500 people per square kilometre, Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, is the most crowded city on the planet, followed by India’s financial capital Mumbai, home to 31,700 people per square kilometre at the second place.
- Kota in Rajasthan with 12,100 people per square kilometre was ranked seventh.
- It has been estimated that more than half of the world’s population resides in urban areas and the UN expects this to increase to 66% by 2050 with around 90% increase concentrated in Asia and Africa.