Polity & Governance
- Government notifies National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme
- National Workshop on Autism Tools INCLEN and ISAA
- Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana extended to people of all Hilly States
- Incorporation of Sagarmala Development Company
- RBI allows banks to sell stressed assets to NBFCs, other lenders
- Gujarat signs MoU to build small airports
Environment & Ecology
- Majuli declared largest river island in world by Guinness World Records
Defence & Security Issues
- Army sets up design bureau to reduce dependence on imports
Key Facts for Prelims
- Solung festival
- BRICS convention on Tourism
Polity & Governance
Government notifies National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme
The Union Government has notified National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme (NAPS) for providing apprenticeship training to over 50 lakh youngsters in order to create more jobs.
- It is first of its kind scheme notified to offer financial incentives to employers.
Key features of the scheme:
- The Scheme has an outlay of 10,000 crore rupees with a target of 50 Lakh apprentices to be trained by 2019-20.
- The Scheme will be implemented by Director General of Training (DGT) under the aegis of Union Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE).
- Under it, Central Government for the first time will provide financial incentives to the employers to engage apprentices.
- Central Government will also directly share 25% of the total stipend (maximum of 1,500 rupees per month per apprentice) payable to an apprentice with employers.
- In addition, it will support basic training which is considered an essential component of apprenticeship training.
- The Central Government will bear the 50% of the total expenditure incurred on providing basic training to an apprentice.
- All transactions including registration by employers, apprentices, registration of contract and payment to employers will be made in online mode.
- Brand Ambassadors will be appointed for states and for local industrial clusters to act as facilitators and promoters to promote apprenticeship training.
Significance of the Apprenticeship Training:
- Apprenticeship Training is considered to be one of the most efficient ways to develop skilled manpower for the country.
- It provides for an industry led, practice oriented, effective and efficient mode of formal training.
National Policy of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship:
- The National Policy of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, 2015 focuses on apprenticeship as one of the key components for creating skilled manpower in India.
- The policy proposes to work pro-actively with the industry including MSME to facilitate tenfold increase opportunities in the country by 2020.
National Workshop on Autism Tools INCLEN and ISAA
The first of its kind in India, ‘National Training Workshop on Autism using International Clinical Epidemiology Network (INCLEN) and Indian Scale of Assessment of Autism (ISAA) Tools’ was organized recently.
- It was by organized by the National Trust, a statutory body under Department for the welfare of Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan), Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment.
- More than 75 professionals (Clinical Psychologist, Pediatrician and Psychiatrist) participated from 18 States.
Aim of the workshop:
- The aim of the workshop was to train and empower health care professionals like paediatricians, psychologists & psychiatrists to be trained as Master Trainers. These Master Trainer will further train required number of professionals in their respective States.
In this workshop, in order to maintain uniformity and standard in assessment of autism, two types of assessment tools were recommended:
- One is INCLEN Tool developed under INCLEN study – “Neuro Developmental Disorder in Children in India”.
- The other tool is ISAA – “Indian Scale of Assessment of Autism”, developed by the Ministry of SJ&E through NIMH, as a research project.
What is autism?
Autism is a neuro-developmental disorder spanning entire life.
- It impairs the ability to communicate and interact.
Effects of Autism:
- Autism spectrum disorder impacts the nervous system and affects the overall cognitive, emotional, social and physical health of the affected individual.
- The range and severity of symptoms can vary widely. Common symptoms include difficulty with communication, difficulty with social interactions, obsessive interests and repetitive behaviours.
- There is no definitive cure.
- However, early recognition, as well as behavioural, educational and family therapies may reduce symptoms and support development and learning.
Steps taken by Indian government:
- Though the Government had notified Autism as a disability in 2001, it had not been issuing certificates.
- The Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, under MSJE has notified guidelines in April 2016 to pave the way for constitution of boards and issuing of disability certificates for Autism.
Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana extended to people of all Hilly States
Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas has decided to extend the benefits under Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana to the people of all Hilly States including North-East States by treating them as ‘Priority States’ and release LPG connections to the eligible beneficiaries.
- This step will effectively address the difficulty faced by poor people residing in the States of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Tripura in accessing LPG for cooking purposes.
About the scheme:
Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana aims to provide five crore LPG connections to women in Below Poverty Line (BPL) households over the next three financial years, at a cost of Rs. 8,000 crore.
- The scheme is being implemented by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.
- The scheme will be partially funded from the savings accruing to the government from LPG users who gave up their subsidy as part of the Give It Up programme.
- The new users who receive LPG connections under the scheme will not have to pay the security deposit, while the Rs. 1,600 administrative costs, cost of pressure regulator booklet and safety hose will be borne by the government.
- The households will be selected using the socio-economic and caste census data. Consumers will have the option to purchase gas stove and refills on EMI.
Incorporation of Sagarmala Development Company
As part of the efforts to promote port-led development in the country, the Sagarmala Development Company (SDC) has been incorporated under the Companies Act, 2013.
Objective of the company:
- The main objective of the company is to identify port-led development projects under the Sagarmala Programme and provide equity support to the project Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) and funding support to the residual projects under the Sagarmala Programme.
- The SDC will be under the administrative control of the Ministry of Shipping.
- The company will have an initial Authorized Share Capital of Rs. 1,000 Crore and a subscribed share capital of Rs. 90 Crore.
- The implementation of the identified projects would be taken up by the relevant ports, state governments/Maritime Boards, central ministries, through private or PPP mode.
- The company would act as the nodal agency for coordination and monitoring of all the currently identified projects under Sagarmala as well as other projects emerging from the master plans or other sources.
- It would undertake the preparation of the detailed master plans for the Coastal Economic Zones (CEZs) identified as part of the National Perspective Plan (NPP) and provide a framework for ensuring the integrated development of Indian maritime sector.
- It would also manage the funding of coastal community development projects identified under Sagarmala.
- This will include projects related to value addition in fisheries, aquaculture, cold chain development, skill development, livelihood generation, local tourism and recreational facilities which would be beneficial to the livelihoods of the coastal communities.
- SDC would raise funds as debt/equity (as long term capital), as per the project requirements, by leveraging resources provided by the Government of India and from multilateral and bilateral funding agencies, the statement said, adding it would also aim to increase the scope of private sector participation in project development.
- The incorporation of SDC is part of the ambitious Sagarmala Programme by the Government of India
- The Cabinet in July had approved the formation of the SDC under the administrative control of the Ministry of Shipping.
- The concept of the Sagarmala Programme was approved by the Cabinet in March 2015.
About Sagarmala port project:
The Sagarmala project seeks to develop a string of ports around India’s coast.
- The objective of this initiative is to promote “Port-led development” along India’s 7500 km long coastline.
- The Union Ministry of Shipping has been appointed as the nodal ministry for this initiative.
- The project aims to develop access to new development regions with intermodal solutions and promotion of the optimum modal split, enhanced connectivity with main economic centres and beyond through expansion of rail, inland water, coastal and road services.
- It also aims at simplifying procedures used at ports for cargo movement and promotes usage of electronic channels for information exchange leading to quick, efficient, hassle-free and seamless cargo movement.
- It also strives to ensure sustainable development of the population living in the Coastal Economic Zone (CEZ).
- The project, envisaging port-led development, targets to provide one crore employment, direct employment to 40 lakh persons and indirect employment to 60 lakh persons.
Three pillars of focus:
The Sagarmala Project Stands on Three Pillars of Focus
- Supporting port-led development with pro-active policy initiatives and providing institutional framework to assist all stakeholders.
- Modernising port infrastructure.
- Developing integrated transport infrastructure for connecting the coast to the hinterland.
About National Perspective Plan for Sagarmala Programme:
The National Perspective Plan for Sagarmala Programme which was released in April by the Prime Minister identifies projects under the 4 major objectives of the programme –
- Port Modernization & New Port Development,
- Port Connectivity Enhancement,
- Port-led Industrialization and
- Coastal Community Development.
- More than 150 projects have been identified which will mobilize investment of more than Rs. 4 lac crore and generate approximately 1 crore new jobs, including 40 lac direct jobs, over a period of 10 years.
- These projects are expected to generate annual logistics cost savings of close to Rs 35,000 crore and provide boost to India’s merchandise exports by $110 billion by 2025.
RBI allows banks to sell stressed assets to NBFCs, other lenders
In a move to improve the sale of bad loans by lenders, the Reserve Bank of India has allowed banks to sell these assets to other banks, non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) or financial institutions.
- Till now, banks are allowed to sell stressed loans to asset reconstruction companies.
What has RBI directed?
- Now, prospective buyers (of stressed assets) need not be restricted to securitisation or reconstruction companies.
- Banks may also offer the assets to other banks/NBFCs/financial institutions, etc. who have the necessary capital and expertise in resolving stressed assets.
- The banking regulator has advised banks to identify assets that could be sold, at least annually, preferably at the start the year.
- The regulator also directed that all doubtful assets above a threshold amount be reviewed by the board periodically.
Rationale of the move:
- According to RBI, allowing participation of more buyers will result in better price discovery.
According to the experts,
- Permitting banks to buy stressed assets is a mistake.
- Banks should not be in the business of buying and resolving stressed loans. They should ideally be incentivised to sell these loans to someone who is a specialist in the space.
- In 2014, RBI had released a framework in which it had liberalized the rules for selling stressed assets by permitting leveraged buyouts for specialized entities and other steps to enable better functioning of ARCs.
But the scheme was not much of a success, mainly because banks and such firms couldn’t agree on valuations, and the low capital of the ARC industry.[Ref: The Hindu, LiveMint]
Gujarat signs MoU to build small airports
The Gujarat government has inked a tripartite memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Airport Authority of India (AAI) to develop 11 small airports and airstrips under the Centre’s Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS).
- With this, Gujarat became the third State after Jharkhand and Maharashtra to have signed such an agreement to seek the Centre’s support to provide financial assistance to create infrastructural facilities in small airports.
- The MoU is aimed to boost regional air connectivity in the State.
- As per the MoU provisions, Gujarat and the Centre will jointly undertake development and upgrading of infrastructure in 11 unserved or underserved airports and airstrips.
- These 11 unserved or underserved airports and airstrips are in Bhavnagar, Bhuj, Jamnagar, Surat, Porbandar, Mehsana, Mandavi, Amreli, Kandla, Keshod and Deesa.
- The Centre will provide the financial resources under viability gap funding of the RCS.
Environment & Ecology
Majuli declared largest river island in world by Guinness World Records
The Guinness World Records has officially designed Majuli Island on the Brahmaputra in Assam as the largest river island in the world. It is situated in the Brahmaputra River.
- The river island covering an area of around 880 sqkm.
- It has toppled previous record held by Brazil’s Marajo island in the Amazon river.
The biggest river island in the world, Majuli is located on the river Brahmaputra in Assam and is formed by Brahmaputra in the south and the Kherkutia Xuti joined by the river Subansiri in the north.
- Majuli, inhabited mostly by Mishing tribal people, has been the hub of Assamese neo-Vaishnavite culture that 15th century saint-reformer Srimanta Sankardeva had initiated.
- The island had some 65 satras or monasteries adhering to Vaishnavism, but a large number relocated to the mainland after being washed away.
- The main surviving satras include Dakhinpat, Garamurh, Auniati, Kamalabari and Bengenaati.
- In June 2016, Assam Government had officially declared the island as the district making it India’s first island district.
- The island has been nominated for the World Heritage Site status. It has been included in the tentative list by UNESCO.
Defence & Security Issues
Army sets up design bureau to reduce dependence on imports
The Indian Army has set up Army Design Bureau (ADB) in an attempt to indigenise procurements and reduce import dependence.
- It has been established as part of the government’s ‘Make in India’ initiative and will integrate various stake holders in its long-term requirements.
About the Bureau:
- The Army Design Bureau (ADB) will help in fast tracking procurement process and also help in modernisation.
- ADB will also be a “single point contact” and a platform for an interaction between the army and academia, the defence public sector units (PSU), private players to understand the requirements of the army
- The bureau will give a better understanding of the requirements of army to the academia, research institutions and the industry for development of defence products.
Key Facts for Prelims
The annual socio-religious Solung festival of Adi tribe has started in Arunachal Pradesh.
Solung is 5-day long agro-based festival is celebrated every year by the Adi tribe in the first week of September.
The ‘Solung’ is the main socio-religious festival of ‘Adis’ community and is a manifestation of the ‘adis’ festival cult.
The ‘Solung’ festival is primarily connected with the agricultural activities of the people. The ‘Solung’ of the Adis can be compared with the three Bihus of the Assamese, as they are also socio-religious in nature, which has a close connection with agriculture.
BRICS convention on Tourism
The two-day “BRICS Convention on Tourism” has been organized at world heritage site Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh.
The event will comprise of inter-governmental exchange of views and ideas and panel discussions on different subjects including cooperation between the BRICS countries for promoting intra-regional tourism. Business to Business meetings between the India Travel Trade and their counterparts from the BRICS countries will also be organised.
The convention is being organised as a precursor to ‘The BRICS Summit’ to be held in Goa in October this year.