Polity & Governance
- Cabinet approves formation of technical cadre of PESO
- Cabinet approves Restructuring of the Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM)
Government Schemes & Policies
- Cabinet nod to double investment under PMVVY to Rs 15 lakh
- CCEA approves renaming of MsDP as ‘Pradhan Mantri Jan Vikas Karyakram’
- Cabinet approves plan to set up 20 AIIMS across country
- Cabinet approves continuation of Umbrella Scheme ‘Green Revolution — Krishonnati Yojana’
Issues related to Health & Education
- Cabinet approves accession to the Protocol under WHO Framework Convention on tobacco control
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- Global warming driving harmful algae growth, study finds
Bilateral & International Relations
- Mutual Recognition Agreement between ICAI and SAICA
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Polity & Governance
Cabinet approves formation of technical cadre of PESO
The Union Cabinet has approved the Cadre review and formation of Group ‘A’ service of the technical cadre of Petroleum & Safety Organization (PESO) in the name of Indian Petroleum & Explosives Safety Service (IPESS).
Significance of the move:
- To remove acute stagnation in all grades and uplift the morale of the workforce and enhance its performance, it has been decided to form Group ‘A’ Service of the technical cadre of PESO in the name of IPESS and restructure the newly-formed service.
- The measure will enhance the capacity and efficiency of the organization and it will also enhance career progression of its Group ‘A’ officers.
About Petroleum & Safety Organization (PESO):
- PESO is a subordinate office under Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP).
- The organization is serving the nation since 1898 as a nodal agency for regulating safety of substances such as explosives, compressed gases and petroleum.
- The organization deals with wide range of subjects related to explosives, petroleum, compressed gases, pressure vessels, gas cylinders, cross-country pipelines, Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), Auto Liquefied Petroleum Gas (Auto LPG) etc.
Cabinet approves Restructuring of the Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM)
The Union Cabinet has approved restructuring of Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM) by upgradation, creation and abolition of certain posts of Joint Secretary-level and above.
- The Union Ministry of Mines had constituted Committee for comprehensive ‘Review and Restructuring of Functions and Role of IBM’ in the light of ‘National Mineral Policy’ (NMP) 2008. The Committee submitted its report in 2012 which was accepted by the Ministry.
Significance of the restructuring:
- The restructuring will help IBM to effectively discharge its function to help reform and transform the regulation of the mineral sector.
- It will enable IBM to adopt IT and space technology IBM to improve its effectiveness in mineral regulation and development.
- Further, it will entail great deal of decision-making and accountability in functioning of IBM.
- The improved and enhanced performance of IBM through restructuring will benefit the mining sector.
About Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM):
IBM was set up by Central Government in March, 1948 under Ministry of Works, Mines and Power (now Ministry of Mines).
- It is primarily advisory body to help in formulation of policy and legal framework for mining sector and advising Central and State Governments on development and utilization of mineral resources.
- It is multi-disciplinary government organisation engaged in promotion of conservation, scientific development of mineral resources and protection of environment in mines other than coal, atomic minerals, petroleum & natural gas and minor minerals. It is headquartered at Nagpur, Maharashtra.
- It helps states in preparation of auction blocks, publishing of average sale price, assisting in post auction monitoring and approval process.
Government Schemes & Policies
Cabinet nod to double investment under PMVVY to Rs 15 lakh
The Union Cabinet has approved doubling of investment limit from Rs 7.5 lakh to Rs 15 lakh under Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana (PMVVY). It also extended time limits for subscription from ay 2018 to March, 2020.
- These decisions were taken as part of Government commitment to financial inclusion and social security.
- It will boost social security initiatives for senior citizens and enable them upto Rs.10,000 pension per month.
About Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana (PMVVY):
- In 2017, the Union Finance Ministry has launched Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana (PMVVY), a pension scheme exclusively for senior citizens aged 60 years and above.
- The Scheme can be purchased offline as well as online through Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) of India which has been given the sole privilege to operate this Scheme.
Major benefits under the PMVVY:
- Scheme provides an assured return of 8% p.a. payable monthly (equivalent to 8.30% p.a. effective) for 10 years.
- Pension is payable at the end of each period, during the policy term of 10 years, as per the frequency of monthly/ quarterly/ half-yearly/ yearly as chosen by the pensioner at the time of purchase.
- The scheme is exempted from Service Tax/ GST.
- On survival of the pensioner to the end of the policy term of 10 years, Purchase price along with final pension installment shall be payable.
- Loan upto 75% of Purchase Price shall be allowed after 3 policy years (to meet the liquidity needs). Loan interest shall be recovered from the pension installments and loan to be recovered from claim proceeds.
- The scheme also allows for premature exit for the treatment of any critical/ terminal illness of self or spouse. On such premature exit, 98% of the Purchase Price shall be refunded.
- On death of the pensioner during the policy term of 10 years, the Purchase Price shall be paid to the beneficiary.
CCEA approves renaming of MsDP as ‘Pradhan Mantri Jan Vikas Karyakram’
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved the proposal for renaming and restructuring of Multi-sectoral Development Programme (MsDP) as Pradhan Mantri Jan Vikas Karyakram (PMJVK).
- CCEA has also approved its continuation during the remaining period of the 14th Finance Commission.
About Multi-sectoral Development Programme (MsDP):
- MsDP was launched in the year 2008-09 in 90 identified Minority Concentration Districts (MCDs) having at least 25% minority population and below national average with respect to one or both of the backwardness parameters with the objective of developing assets for socio-economic and basic amenities.
- MsDP has been identified as one of the Core of the Core Schemes under National Development Agenda in the Report of the Sub-Group of Chief Ministers on Rationalization of Centrally Sponsored Schemes, which was constituted by NITI Aayog.
- MsDP has been designed primarily to address the developmental gaps/deficits in identified backward minority concentration areas by topping up of existing Centrally Sponsored Schemes of various Central ministries/departments without any change in the norms, guidelines and the funding pattern.
About Pradhan Mantri Jan Vikas Karyakram (PMJVK):
PMJVK aims to address development deficits in identified minority concentration areas.
- The identification of these areas will be done on the basis of presence of substantial population of notified Minority Communities based on Census, 2011.
- It will also provide better socio economic infrastructure facilities to minority communities particularly in field of education, health and skill development as compared to present situation. This will lead to lessening of gap between national average and minority communities with regard to backwardness parameters.
- PMJVK will be implemented in Minority Concentration District Headquarters, Minority Concentration Block (MCBs), Minority Concentration Towns(MCTs) falling in 308 districts of 32 States/UTs.
- It will also be implemented in Backward Clusters of Minority Concentration Villages (CoMCV) which will be identified on proposal of States/UTs as per criteria of the scheme.
Cabinet approves plan to set up 20 AIIMS across country
The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved plan to set up 20 All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) across the country and upgrade 73 medical colleges.
- The decisions are part of the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY), which has been extended by two years till 2020 with financial outlay of Rs.14,832 crore.
- Construction of new AIIMS is fully funded by the Central Government.
- The Operations & Maintenance expenses on new AIIMS are also fully borne by the Central Government.
Significance of the move:
- Setting up of new AIIMS would not only transform health education and training but also address the shortfall of health care professionals in the region.
- Setting up new AIIMS in various states will lead to employment generation for nearly 3000 people in various faculty & non-faculty posts in each of the AIIMS. Further, indirect employment generation will take place due to facilities & services like shopping centre, canteens, etc. coming in the vicinity of new AIIMS.
- The upgradation programme is carried out in selected Government Medical Colleges (GMCs) by agencies appointed by the Government of India under the direct supervision of the Central Government. Post-Graduate seats and additional faculty posts as per norms will be created and filled up in these GMCs by the respective State/UT Governments.
- The construction activity involved for creation of the physical infrastructure for the various new AIIMS and Government Medical Colleges’ upgradation projects being undertaken under the scheme is also expected to generate substantial employment in the construction phase as well.
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 continuation of Umbrella Scheme ‘Green Revolution — Krishonnati Yojana’
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has given its approval for the Umbrella Scheme, “Green Revolution – Krishonnati Yojana” in agriculture sector beyond 12th Five Year Plan for the period from 2017-18 to 2019-20.
- These schemes look to develop the agriculture and allied sector in a holistic and scientific manner to increase the income of farmers by enhancing production, productivity and better returns on produce.
- The 11 schemes and missions were clubbed together under one umbrella scheme ‘Green Revolution – Krishonnati Yojana in 2017-18.
Key objectives of the scheme:
- Betterment of agricultural base.
- Doubling of farmers’ earnings.
- Development of appropriate agriculture infrastructure.
- Adequate market for sale of produce.
11 schemes and missions as part of Green Revolution-Krishonnati Yojana:
Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH):
- It aims to promote holistic growth of horticulture sector and also enhance horticulture production, improve nutritional security and income support tofarm Households.
National Food Security Mission (NFSM):
- It aims to increase production of rice, wheat, pulses, coarse cereals and commercial crops, through area expansion and productivity enhancement in suitable manner in identified districts of country.
- It will also restore soil fertility and productivity at individual farm level and enhance farm level economy.
- It also includes National Mission on Oil Seeds and Oil Palm (NMOOP) which aims to augment availability of vegetable oils and to reduce the import of edible oils.
National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA):
- It aims at promoting sustainable agriculture practices best suitable to specific agro-ecology focusing on integrated farming, appropriate soil health management and synergizing resource conservation technology.
Submission on Agriculture Extension (SMAE):
- It aims to strengthen ongoing extension mechanism of State Governments, local bodies etc. in achieving food and nutritional security and socio-economic empowerment of farmers.
- It also seeks to institutionalize programme planning and implementation mechanism, forge effective linkages and synergy amongst various stake-holders, support HRD interventions, promote pervasive and innovative use of electronic and print media, inter-personal communication and ICT tools, etc.
Sub-Mission on Seeds and Planting Material (SMSP):
- It aims to increase production of certified and quality seed to increase SRR and upgrade the quality of farm saved seeds.
- Under it, seed multiplication chain will be strengthen and also new technologies and methodologies in seed production, processing, testing etc. will be promoted to strengthen and modernizing infrastructure for seed production, storage, certification and quality etc.
Sub-Mission on Agricultural Mechanisation (SMAM):
- It aims to increase reach of farm mechanization to small and marginal farmers and to regions where availability of farm power is low.
- Under it, ustom Hiring Centres to offset adverse economies of scale arising due to small landholding and high cost of individual ownership will be promoted.
- Hubs for hi-tech and high value farm equipment, create awareness among stakeholders through demonstration and capacity building activities will be also created under it.
Sub Mission on Plant Protection and Plan Quarantine (SMPPQ):
- It aims to minimize loss to quality and yield of agricultural crops from ravages of diseases, insect pests, nematodes, weeds, rodents, etc. and shield agricultural bio-security from incursions and spread of alien species.
- It will also facilitate exports of Indian agricultural commodities to global markets and promote good agricultural practices, particularly with respect to plant protection strategies and strategies.
Integrated Scheme on Agriculture Census, Economics and Statistics (ISACES):
- It aims to undertake agriculture census, study of cost of cultivation of principal crops and undertake research studies on agro-economic problems of the country.
Integrated Scheme on Agricultural Cooperation (ISAC):
- It aims to provide financial assistance for improving the economic conditions of cooperatives, remove regional imbalances and speed up cooperative development in agricultural marketing, computerization, processing, storage and weaker section programmes.
- It also will help cotton growers fetch remunerative price for their produce through value addition besides ensuring supply of quality yarn at reasonable rates to decentralized weavers.
Integrated Scheme on Agricultural Marketing (ISAM):
- It aims to develop agricultural marketing infrastructure and promote innovative and latest technologies and competitive alternatives in agriculture marketing infrastructure.
- It also seeks to provide infrastructure facilities for grading, standardization and quality certification of agricultural produce.
- Under it nationwide marketing information network will be established to integrate markets through common online market platform to facilitate pan-India trade in agricultural commodities, etc.
National e-Governance Plan (NeGP-A):
- It aims to bring farmer centricity and service orientation to programmes. Under it reach & impact of extension services will be enhanced and access of farmers to information &services throughout crop-cycle will be improved.
- It will also enhance and integrate existing ICT initiatives of Centre and States and also enhance efficiency and effectiveness of programs through making available timely and relevant information to farmers for increasing their agriculture productivity.
Issues related to Health & Education
Cabinet approves accession to the Protocol under WHO Framework Convention on tobacco control
The Union Cabinet has given approval to accede to the Protocol under World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on tobacco control to eliminate illicit trade in tobacco products.
- It will be applicable to both smoking and chewing or smokeless tobacco (SLT) forms as negotiated and adopted under Article 15 of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC).
About WHO FCTC:
The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) is the first global health treaty negotiated under the auspices of the World Health Organization.
- It was adopted by the World Health Assembly on 21 May 2003 and subsequently entered into force on 27 February 2005.
- It had been signed by 168 countries and is legally binding in 180 ratifying countries.
- The objective of FCTC is to provide a framework for supply and demand reduction measures for tobacco control at the national, regional and global levels.
- It is considered as one of the most widely embraced treaties in the history of WHO and UN.
- It provides a new legal dimension for international cooperation in healthcare in combating the tobacco epidemic.
- It has successfully helped to co-ordinate and energize the global struggle against tobacco.
- It is an evidence-based treaty that reaffirms the right of all people to the highest standard of health and was developed in response to globalization of tobacco epidemic.
- Under it, the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products was adopted to address the increasing illegal trade in tobacco products in November 2012.
- Article 15 of WHO FCTC envisages elimination of all forms of illicit trade and tobacco products, including smuggling, illicit manufacturing and counterfeiting.
- India is a party to WHO FCTC.
Specific steps under WHO FCTC:
The FCTC provides an internationally co-ordinated response to combating the tobacco epidemic, and sets out specific steps for governments addressing tobacco use, including to:
- Adopt tax and price measures to reduce tobacco consumption.
- Ban tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.
- Create smoke-free work and public spaces.
- Put prominent health warnings on tobacco packages.
- Combat illicit trade in tobacco products.
Significance of the protocol:
- Elimination of illicit trade in tobacco products through strengthened regulation will help in strengthening comprehensive tobacco control, leading to reduction in tobacco use which in turn, will result in reduction in disease burden and mortality associated with tobacco use.
- Accession to such treaty will provide actionable alternatives against such prevailing practices that are affecting public health at large. India, being at the forefront of tobacco control, would be able to influence the international organizations including World Custom Organization in controlling such illicit trade.
- The protocol to eliminate illicit trade in tobacco products is a path breaking initiative in strengthening global action against tobacco and is also a new legal instrument in public health.
- It is a comprehensive tool to counter and eventually eliminate illicit trade in tobacco products and to strengthen legal dimensions for international health cooperation.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
Global warming driving harmful algae growth, study finds
Scientists have found that global warming is driving proliferation of Noctiluca algae (commonly known as sea tinkle), a harmful algae in Arabian Sea responsible for glowing of Mumbai’s beaches in dark.
- The study was jointly conducted by researchers from Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), a Ministry of Earth Sciences body and US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
What is Noctiluca algae?
- Noctiluca algae is parasite and occurs in patches or blooms in northern Arabian Sea.
- Its bioluminescence characteristic i.e. glow in dark has earned it name ‘sea sparkle’.
- The algae compete with fish for food and choke their supply. It devours one of most important planktonic organisms at base of fish-food chain, namely diatoms.
- It also excretes large amounts of ammonia, which causes massive fish mortality.
- It is believed to be dangerous to ocean life because it produces ammonia. Their growing abundance is a cause of concern, because they adversely affect fish, which do not thrive in such waters.
Significance of study:
- Earlier studies had linked increase in algal patches to coastal pollution from major Indian cities along west coast. However, in this study researchers found that global warming conditions are responsible their proliferation. Warming of oceans due to global is increasing temperature differences among layers of sea water.
- This temperature differences has slowed the upward transport of nutrients like silicate from ocean bottom, lowering its concentration at surface. Diatoms growing in surface water which need both sunlight and silicate to build their glass skeletons, fail to thrive when silicate is in short supply.
- On other hand, Noctiluca algae remain unaffected by these changes and prey on remaining diatoms. Thus, the study shows that intensifying global warming conditions will disrupt fish-food chain and cause decline of fisheries in the region.
Bilateral & International Relations
Mutual Recognition Agreement between ICAI and SAICA
The Union Cabinet has approved the Mutual Recognition Agreement between the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) and The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA).
- The ICAI is a statutory body established by an Act of Parliament of India- The Chartered Accountants Act, 1949, to regulate the profession of Chartered Accountancy in India.