Polity & Governance
- India Convention Promotion Bureau
- Cabinet approves re-structuring of NSDF and NSDC
Government Schemes & Policies
- CCEA approves continuation of Credit Guarantee Fund for Education Loans Scheme
- Cabinet approves certain official amendments to the National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill
- NITI Aayog releases Baseline Ranking of Aspirational Districts
- 93% rural households with access to toilets using them: Survey
- Cabinet approves enhancing the coverage of Pradhan Mantri Rojgar Protsahan Yojana
Issues related to Health & Education
- Cabinet approves formulation of a new Integrated Scheme for School Education
- First National Conclave on Psychological Trauma, Child Protection, and Mental Illnesses
- NAFED signs the debt settlement agreement with its eight lender banks
Bilateral & International Relations
- Cabinet approves MoU between India and United Kingdom and Northern Ireland on organised crime
- Cabinet approves MoU between India and SACEP for cooperation on Oil and Chemical Pollution
Key Facts for Prelims
Cabinet approves Export of all edible oils in bulk
India’s first insect museum opened in Tamil Nadu
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Polity & Governance
India Convention Promotion Bureau
The government of India has been providing necessary support to India Convention Promotion Bureau to promote India as a venue for International Conferences and Exhibitions.
About India Convention Promotion Bureau (ICPB):
- The ICPB has been set up under the patronage of the Ministry of Tourism.
- It is a non-profit organization, with members comprising national airlines, hotels, travel agents, tour operators, tourist transport operators, conference organizers, etc.
- It has been set up to promote India as a venue for International Conferences and Exhibitions.
- It participates in International Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE) Tourism trade fairs like IMEX in Frankfurt and Las Vegas, EIBTM- Barcelona and AIME- Melbourne along with the Indiatourism overseas offices.
Cabinet approves re-structuring of NSDF and NSDC
The Union Cabinet has given its approval for restructuring of National Skill Development Fund (NSDF) and National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) to strengthen governance, implementation and monitoring framework.
- The approval would lead to restructuring of composition of Board of NSDF and the NSDC to strengthen governance, implementation and monitoring framework.
About National Skill Development Corporation India (NSDC)
The NSDC is a one-of-its-kind, Public Private Partnership (PPP) model in India, under the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE).
- It aims to promote skill development by catalyzing creation of large, quality and for-profit vocational institutions.
- NSDC is the implementation arm of Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship.
- A not-for-profit company set up by the Ministry of Finance, under Section 25 of the Companies Act, it has an equity base of Rs.10 crore, of which the Government of India holds for 49%, while the private sector has the balance 51%.
- NSDC provides funding to build scalable and profitable vocational training initiatives.
- Its mandate is also to enable support system which focuses on quality assurance, information systems and train the trainer academies either directly or through partnerships.
- NSDC acts as a catalyst in skill development by providing funding to enterprises, companies and organisations that provide skill training.
- It will also develop appropriate models to enhance, support and coordinate private sector initiatives.
- The differentiated focus on 21 sectors under NSDC’s purview and its understanding of their viability will make every sector attractive to private investment.
The main objectives of the NSDC are to:
- To contribute significantly (40%) to the overall target of skilling/up-skilling 400 million people in India by 2022, mainly by fostering private sector initiatives in skill development programmes and to provide funding.
- Upgrade skills to international standards through significant industry involvement and develop necessary frameworks for standards, curriculum and quality assurance
- Enhance, support and coordinate private sector initiatives for skill development through appropriate Public-Private Partnership (PPP) models; strive for significant operational and financial involvement from the private sector
- Play the role of a “market-maker” by bringing financing, particularly in sectors where market mechanisms are ineffective or missing
- Prioritize initiatives that can have a multiplier or catalytic effect as opposed to one-off impact.
About National Skill Development Fund:
- The National Skill Development Fund was set up in 2009 by the Government of India for raising funds both from Government and Non Government sectors for skill development in the country.
- A public Trust set up by the Government of India is the custodian of the Fund. The Trust accepts donation, contribution in cash or kind from the Contributors for furtherance of objectives of the Fund.
- The Fund meets its objectives through National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC).
Government Schemes & Policies
CCEA approves continuation of Credit Guarantee Fund for Education Loans Scheme
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved continuation of Credit Guarantee Fund for Education Loans Scheme.
- It also approved continuation and modification of Central Sector Interest Subsidy Scheme for period from 2017 to 20.
Implications of the move:
- The restructuring of scheme is in accordance with policy of Government to make good quality education affordable to all. This will provide education loans to 10 lakh students during this period.
About Central Sector Interest Subsidy (CSIS) Scheme:
- CSIS Scheme was launched in April, 2009.
- Under it, full interest subsidy is provided for education loan taken from Scheduled Banks under Model Education Loan Scheme of Indian Banks’ Association. It is covering a period of course duration + 1 year.
- The educational loan under CSIS is made available for all professional and technical courses in India and students with annual gross parental income up to Rs. 4.5 lakhs.
- The loans are disbursed without any collateral security and third-party guarantee.
About Credit Guarantee Fund for Education Loans (CGFEL) Scheme:
- CGFEL Scheme provides guarantee for education loan under Model Education Loan Scheme of Indian Banks’ Association.
- It is disbursed by banks without seeking any collateral security and third-party guarantee for maximum loan amount of Rs.7.5 Lakhs.
What modifications have been made?
- Ceiling on loan amount has been refixed at Rs. 7.5 lakhs, considering the average loan size only of Rs. 4 lakhs in order to allow more students to access the benefit. The moratorium period will be course period + 1 year.
- The scheme will now cover loans for pursuing professional and technical courses from NAAC and NBA accredited Institutions and programmes or Institutions of National Importance or Central Funded Technical Institutions (CFTIs) to promote quality education. But this condition will be applicable with prospective effect, and will not apply to current loans. Dashboard will be put in place for better monitoring of the scheme.
- Under the revised scheme, the numbers of loans per year are expected to be at least 3.3 lakhs i.e. 20% increase over previous scheme. The scheme which ran since 2009, average educational loans per year were only 2.78 lakhs.
Cabinet approves certain official amendments to the National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill
Union Cabinet has approved certain amendments to National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill.
- The amendments have been approved after considering recommendations of Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee (DRPSC) and general feedback from public.
About National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill:
- The NMC Bill seeks to replace the Medical Council of India with National Medical Commission as top regulator of medical education in India.
- It aims to move towards outcome-based regulation of medical education rather than process oriented.
- It will ensure proper separation of functions within regulator by having autonomous boards, create accountable and transparent procedures for maintaining standards in Medical Education.
Approved amendments include:
National Exit Test (NEXT):
- The final MBBS examination will be held as common exam throughout country. It will serve as exit test to be called National Exit Test (NEXT).
- It will ease burden on medical students as they will not have to appear in separate exam after MBBS to get license to practice.
- NEXT will also serve as screening test for doctors with foreign medical qualifications in order to practice in India.
- It removes provision dealing with bridge course for AYUSH practitioners to practice modern medicine to limited extent.
- Now state governments have been empowered to take necessary measures for addressing and promoting primary health care in rural areas.
- The maximum limit of 40% seats for which fee will be regulated in private medical institutions and deemed universities has been increased to 50% seats.
- The fee will also include all other charges taken by colleges.
- The nominees of States and UTs in National Medical Commission (NMC) have been increased from 3 to 6. TNMC will comprise of 25 members of which at least 21 will be doctors.
- It adds provision providing different options for warning, reasonable monetary penalty, reducing intake, stoppage of admission leading up to withdrawal of recognition on medical college non-compliant with norms. Earlier, wide range of monetary penalty, ranging from one half to ten times annual fee recovered from batch was to be imposed in a graded manner.
- It provides severe punishment for any unauthorized practice of medicine or by quacks with imprisonment of up to 1 year along with fine extending up to Rs. 5 lakhs.
NITI Aayog releases Baseline Ranking of Aspirational Districts
The NITI Aayog has launched the baseline ranking for the Aspirational Districts based on published data of 49 indicators.
- From April 1, these 101 districts will start entering data and from May onwards, they will be ranked based on progress made (delta ranking) on a real-time basis.
Performance of various districts:
- All the states — except West Bengal and Kerala — are on board in this ranking initiative.
- As per the baseline ranking, Vizianagaram in Andhra Pradesh is ranked highest with score of 48.13% while Mewat in Haryana tails at the end with 26.02%.
- Among others, Asifabad (Telengana), Singrauli (Madhya Pradesh), Kiphire (Nagaland), Shrawasti, Siddarthnagar and Balrampur (Uttar Pradesh), Namsai (Arunachal Pradesh), Sukma (Chattisgarh) are ranked at bottom of the list.
What is Transformation of Aspirational Districts Programme?
‘Transformation of Aspirational Districts’ was launched in January with an aim to quickly and effectively transform some of the most underdeveloped districts in the country.
- The broad contours of the programme are Convergence (of Central & State Schemes), Collaboration (of Central, State level ‘Prabhari’ Officers & District Collectors), and Competition among districts driven by a mass Movement.
- This will converge the central and state schemes, collaborate central, state and district collectors to strengthen these districts by identifying the low-hanging fruits for immediate improvement, measure progress and then rank the district by getting the data on a real-time basis.
Significance of the scheme:
- With states as the main drivers, this program will focus on the strength of each district, identify low-hanging fruits for immediate improvement, measure progress, and rank districts.
- Under the programme, identified districts are prodded and encouraged to first catch-up with the best district within their state, and subsequently aspire to become one of the best in the country, by competing with, and learning from others.
93% rural households with access to toilets using them: Survey
National Annual Rural Sanitation Survey (NARSS) 2017-18 was recently released.
About the survey:
- The survey was conducted by Independent Verification Agency (IVA) under World Bank support project to Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin (SBM-G).
- The survey was conducted between mid-November 2017 and mid-March 2018.
- It used the PPS (Probability Proportion to Size) sampling methodology and its data was collected using Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI) platform.
- It covered 92040 households in 6136 villages across States/UTs of India. It also covered schools, anganwadis and public/community toilets in these villages.
Key findings of NARSS 2017-18:
According to National Annual Rural Sanitation Survey (NARSS) 2017-18:
- Over 93% households in villages who have access to toilets are using them and about 77% homes in rural areas have got toilets.
- 77% of households were found to have access to toilets.
- 4% of people who had access to toilets used them.
- 6% of villages which were previously declared and verified as ODF were confirmed to be ODF. The remaining 4.4% villages also had sanitation coverage of over 95%.
- 70% of villages surveyed found to have minimal litter and minimal stagnant water.
About Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM):
SBM was launched in October 2014 to achieve universal sanitation coverage and to put focus on sanitation.
- The mission aims to achieve Swachh Bharat or make India clean by 2019, as a fitting tribute to 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
- It world’s largest sanitation program that aimed bring behavioural change of people with respect to toilet access and usage
- The SBM consists of two sub-missions Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin), implemented in rural areas, and Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban), implemented in urban areas.
About Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin):
- Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin seeks to eliminate open defecation in rural areas by 2019 through improving access to sanitation.
- It also seeks to generate awareness to motivate communities to adopt sustainable sanitation practices, and encourage the use of appropriate technologies for sanitation.
- SBM-Gramin mainly focuses on ensuring the use of toilets, besides their construction.
- The States and their implementing agencies will be given incentives for meeting performance standards: reducing open defecation, sustaining their open defecation-free status and improving solid and liquid waste management in rural areas.
Cabinet approves enhancing the coverage of Pradhan Mantri Rojgar Protsahan Yojana
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has given its approval for enhancing the scope of Pradhan Mantri Rojgar Protsahan Yojana (PMRPY).
- The Central Government will now contribute Employer’s full admissible contribution for first 3 years from date of registration of new employee for all sectors including existing beneficiaries for their remaining period of 3 years.
- It will benefit the informal sector workers as the will get social safety net and result in more job creation.
About Pradhan Mantri Rojgar Protsahan Yojana:
- The scheme “Pradhan Mantri Rojgar Protsahan Yojana” (PMRPY) was announced in the Budget for 2016-17.
- The objective of the scheme is to promote employment generation.
- The scheme is being implemented by the Ministry of Labour and Employment.
- Under the scheme employers would be provided an incentive for enhancing employment by reimbursement of the 8.33% EPS contribution made by the employer in respect of new employment.
- The PMRPY scheme is targeted for workers earning wages upto Rs. 15,000/- per month.
Issues related to Health & Education
Cabinet approves formulation of a new Integrated Scheme for School Education
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved new Integrated Scheme on School Education for period 2018 to 2020 to be formulated by Department of School Education and Literacy.
- The new scheme will subsume existing schemes related to education such as Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) and Teacher Education (TE).
Key features of the scheme:
- The vision of the Scheme is to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education from nursery to senior secondary stage in accordance with the Sustainable Development Goal for Education.
- The main emphasis of the Integrated Scheme is on improving quality of school education by focussing on the two T’s – Teacher and Technology.
The objectives of the Scheme, across all levels of schooling, are:
- Provision of quality education and enhancing learning outcomes of students.
- Bridging Social and Gender Gaps in School Education.
- Ensuring equity and inclusion at all levels of school education.
- Ensuring minimum standards in schooling provisions.
- Promoting vocationalization of education.
- Support States in implementation of Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009.
- Strengthening and up-gradation of State Councils for Educational Research and Training (SCERTs)/State Institutes of Education and District Institutes for Education and Training (DIET) as nodal agencies for teacher training.
Significance of the Scheme:
- The Scheme gives flexibility to States/UTs to plan and prioritize their interventions within scheme norms and overall resource envelope available to them.
- It will help improve transition rates across various levels of school education and aid in promoting universal access to children to complete school education.
- The Scheme will equip children with varied skills and knowledge essential for their holistic development and prepare them for world of work or higher education in future.
- It will also lead to optimal utilization of budgetary allocations and effective use of human resources and institutional structures created for erstwhile Schemes.
- It provides holistic approach to education. It focuses on inclusion of senior secondary levels and pre-school levels in support for School education for t first time. It calls for integrated administration looking at school as continuum.
- It will focus on Quality of Education with emphasis on improvement of learning outcomes. It will enhance capacity building of teachers. It will focus on strengthening teacher education Institutions like SCERTs and DIETs to improve the quality of teacher training.
- It will enhance use of digital technology in education through smart classrooms, digital boards and DTK channels.
- It has specific provision for swachhta activities with support of ‘SwachhVidyalaya’. It will improve Quality of Infrastructure in Government Schools.
- It has enhanced commitment to ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’- Upgradation of KGBVs from class VI -VIII to upto class XII.
- It gives emphasis on ‘Kaushal Vikas’ in schools and supports ‘Khelo India’ for sports and physical equipment.
- It gives preference to educationally backward blocks (EBBs), Special Focus Districts (SFDs), Left Wing Extremism (LWEs), Border areas and 115 aspirational districts.
First National Conclave on Psychological Trauma, Child Protection, and Mental Illnesses
The first National Conclave on Psychological Trauma, Child Protection, and Mental Illnesses held in New Delhi.
Aim of the conclave:
- It was aimed to provide comprehensive synthesis of research, service provision and clinical practice in addressing psychological trauma and subsequent mental illnesses in Indian children and adolescents
- The two day conclave was organised by Ministry of Women & Child Development in collaboration with the Department of Psychiatry, AIIMS.
- The conclave provided common platform for all stakeholders such as academicians, clinicians, government and NGOs working in this area.
- It also provides platform to them to discuss the direction of robust evidence based research, better service provision, and capacity building of professionals.
NAFED signs the debt settlement agreement with its eight lender banks
National Agricultural Cooperative Federation of India Ltd. (NAFED) has signed the Debt Settlement Agreement with its eight lender banks.
- The One Time Settlement with the lender banks has been made at Rs. 478 Crore.
- In addition, the lenders are entitled to the assignment of auction right of the property of one of the defaulters of its tie-up business conducted in the years 2003-05.
National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd.(NAFED) was established on the auspicious day of Gandhi Jayanti on 2nd October 1958.
- NAFED is registered under the Multi State Co-operative Societies Act.
- NAFED was setup with the object to promote Co-operative marketing of Agricultural Produce to benefit the farmers.
- Agricultural farmers are the main members of NAFED, who have the authority to say in the form of members of the General Body in the working of NAFED.
- It functions under Ministry of Agriculture.
- NAFED is now one of the largest procurement as well as marketing agencies for agricultural products in India.
- In 2008, it had established, National Spot Exchange, a Commodities exchange as a joint venture of Financial Technologies (India) Ltd. (FTIL).
Bilateral & International Relations
Cabinet approves MoU between India and United Kingdom and Northern Ireland on organised crime
The Union Cabinet has approved signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and United Kingdom and Northern Ireland regarding cooperation in the field of organised crime.
- It is exchange of information for purposes of combating international criminality and tackling serious organised crime.
- The MoU will reinforce collaboration in field of security that will be mutually beneficial.
- India and UK already have agreement concerning investigation and prosecution of crime and tracing, restraint and confiscation of proceeds and instruments of crime which was signed in 1995.
- It also includes crimes involving currency transfers and terrorist funds. Both countries desire to further strengthen cooperation in fighting international criminality and serious organized crime.
Location of Northern Ireland:
- Northern Ireland is a part of the United Kingdom in the north-east of the island of Ireland, variously described as a country, province or region.
- Northern Ireland shares a border to the south and west with the Republic of Ireland.
Location of Ireland:
- Ireland is an island in the North Atlantic.
- It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel, the Irish Sea, and St George’s Channel.
- Ireland is the third-largest island in Europe.
Cabinet approves MoU between India and SACEP for cooperation on Oil and Chemical Pollution
The Union Cabinet has approved signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and South Asian Cooperative Environment Programme (SACEP) for cooperation on response to Oil and Chemical Pollution in South Asian Seas Region.
- The MoU intends to promote closer cooperation between India and other maritime nations comprising South Asian seas region namely Bangladesh, Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka for protection and preservation of marine environment in the region.
- Indian Coast Guard (ICG) under Defence Ministry will be Competent National Authority and national operational contact point for implementation of Regional Oil Spill Contingency Plan under MoU.
- It will respond to oil and chemical spills on behalf of Government of India.
- Further, ICG Maritime Rescue Coordination Centres (MRCCs) will be national emergency response centre for marine incidents.
About South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC):
SASEC program is project-based partnership to promote regional prosperity by improving cross-border connectivity, boosting trade among member countries and strengthening regional economic cooperation.
- Governments of India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka had established SACEP in 1982 in Sri Lanka.
- Its purpose was to promote and support protection, management and enhancement of environment in the South Asian region.
- Its seven members are Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal and Sri Lanka. ADB is secretariat and lead financier of SASEC program.
- The SACEP jointly with International Maritime Organisation (IMO) had developed Regional Oil Spill Contingency Plan to facilitate international co-operation and mutual assistance in preparing and responding to major oil pollution incident in seas around SACEP’s maritime states of Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
- So far, it has supported 46 projects worth $9.17 billion in transport, trade facilitation, energy and information and communications technology (ICT).
- The Malé Declaration on control and prevention of air pollution and its likely transboundary effects for South Asia is another significant efforts which encourages intergovernmental cooperation to combat the transboundary air pollution problem.
Key Facts for Prelims
Cabinet approves Export of all edible oils in bulk
- The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved for removal of prohibition on export of all varieties of edible oils except mustard oil.
- Removing of restrictions on export of all edible oils will provide additional marketing avenues for edible oils and oilseeds.
- It will benefit the farmers by way of better realisation for oilseeds. It will also result in utilization of idle capacity in India’s edible oils industry.
India’s first insect museum opened in Tamil Nadu
- India’s first insect museum with state-of-the-art amenities was unveiled at Tamil Nadu Agricultural University campus in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu.
- It will display insects preserved as specimens as also live ones depicting their different developmental stages.