Polity & Governance
- Indian Basmati gets geo-tag of authenticity
- No nod for GM mustard now
- Project Sunrise launched for prevention of AIDS in NE states
- PMKVY completes 10 lakh enrolments under Skill India
Art & Culture
- Heritage development projects for Andhra Pradesh, Telangana approved
Polity & Governance
Indian Basmati gets geo-tag of authenticity
Traditional Basmati farmers in India have got a boost with the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) ordering the Geographical Indications Registry to give GI recognition for the aromatic rice.
Who will get GI tag?
- Basmati cultivation in the Indo Gangetic Plains (IGP) in the Himalayan foothills will get the GI mark.
- This will cover the unique variety of rice cultivated in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Uttarakhand, Western UP and two Districts of J&K – Jammu and Kathua.
- In November 2008, the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), a statutory body which protects intellectual property and GI in India and abroad, had applied for GI registration of Basmati cultivated in Indo Gangetic Plains.
- But in December 2013, the GI Registry had asked APEDA to include all areas where basmati is cultivated and submit an amended application including Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Bihar.
- APEDA appealed against that order as diluting the GI application will be against the interest of Basmati growers in traditional areas.
- A host of rice exporters, NGOs and growers associations from Madhya Pradesh who opposed APEDA’s stand appealed to IPAB.
- Even a Basmati Growers Association from Pakistan opposed addition of new areas such as Madhya Pradesh.
- However, the IPAB has upheld APEDA’s appeal and ordered the GI Registry to give GI recognition within four weeks based on the application filed by APEDA.
- IPAB has also said that the claim of Basmati farmers and exporters for including Madhya Pradesh can be considered afresh by the GI Registry and a decision be taken within six months.
- But, it dismissed the Pakistan Basmati Growers Association’s objections to including Madhya Pradesh.
The order comes seven years after APEDA initiated steps to protect and get GI recognition for Basmati cultivated in the IGP. This will preserve the unique identity of the aromatic rice in the international markets.
What is a Geographical Indication?
A ‘geographical indication’ (GI) is a place name used to identify the origin and quality, reputation or other characteristics of products.
Why is it important?
Article 22 of the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights agreement says unless a geographical indication is protected in the country of its origin, there is no obligation under the agreement for other countries to extend reciprocal protection.
GI registration confers:
- Legal protection to the products.
- Prevents unauthorised use of a GI by others.
- Helps consumers get quality products of desired traits.
- Promotes economic prosperity of producers of goods by enhancing demand in national and international markets.
GI registration is essential to get protection in other countries.
India’s Basmati rice:
- Though there are hundreds of varieties of long grain and scented rice grown all over the world, basmati is the best known due to its unique properties attributable to agro-climatic conditions prevailing in a geographical area.
- India is the largest producer and exporter of the Basmati rice in the world. India exports a major quantity of basmati rice to Saudi Arabia, Iran, United Arab Emirates, Iraq and Kuwait.
Some popular registered GIs in India:
Nearly 200 unique goods have been registered as GIs in India. Products sold with the GI tag get premium pricing also.
Some of the popular registered GIs in India are Mysore Silk, Mysore Agarbathi, Kancheepuram Silk, Orissa Ikat, Channapatna Toys & Dolls, and Coimbatore Wet Grinder, Mysore Pak (sweet), Tanjavur Veena, Pusa Basmati 1 (a high-yielding variety of scented Basmati rice) etc.
No nod for GM mustard now
Amid growing outrage by farmer groups and green activists against commercialisation of the country’s first genetically modified (GM) food crop, mustard, the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) has decided to put on hold any decision on it for now.
- The GEAC, the apex body to accord approval for large-scale use and commercial release of genetically modified organisms in India, discussed safety issues of GM mustard’s application, but refrained from taking a final decision.
- However, the government has said that it could not stop research as it might have long-term implications on food security issues.
- Pental, who will retire later this year from the Genetics Department at Delhi University, developed the variety with funds from the government and the National Dairy Development Board.
- The activists are of the opinion that in a state where mustard consumption is high, the use of the hybrid crop can give rise to quality issues and have adverse health effects.
- The GM variant, called DMH11 (Dhara Mustard Hybrid 11), is said to deliver 25-30% higher mustard-seed yields compared to the best “check” varieties currently being grown in the country.
- The hybrid went through Biosafety Research Level-1 (BRL-1) tests in 2011-12 and 2012-13, and BRL-2 tests at the Indian Agriculture Research Institute in Delhi and the Punjab Agricultural University in the 2014-15 season.
- The institute sought a final approval from the GEAC in December for “environmental release” of the crop.
- But even before the application process was initiated, anti-GM NGOs and activists cutting across ideological lines began protests, in a recreation of the agitation against Bt brinjal, also a GM crop, in 2010.
- In 2010, Bt brinjal had got the final approval from the GEAC but the then Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh put an indefinite moratorium on that decision which still holds.
In the case of Mustard DMH11, the GEAC put off its decision by at least a few months.
- The government has now indicated that the introduction of GM crops would happen only if other avenues of increasing production were not available.
- The GEAC has prepared a time-bound “roadmap” for taking a final decision on DMH11 mustard that involves holding public consultations as well. If the roadmap is followed, the hybrid would be back to the GEAC for approval by the end of May.
[Ref: Indian Express]
Project Sunrise launched for prevention of AIDS in NE states
Union Health Minister has launched the SUNRISE Project aimed to tackle the rising HIV prevalence in north-eastern states, especially among people injecting drugs in 20 priority districts of the 8 North-Eastern states.
- The project is aimed to diagnose 90% of such drug addicts with HIV and put them under treatment by 2020.
- The Project Sunrise, steered by National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) under the health ministry, will be implemented over a period of five years costing Rs 70 crore.
- The Center for Disease Control, a US government body is supporting this programme,
- The project will adopt innovative strategies like increasing availability of safe needle, syringes in remote areas, community based testing for HIV and pilot studies on ‘take home’ policy for opioid substitution drugs.
- The government has also decided to make it a Central Sector Scheme in which all the funds would be provided by the Center.
- The funds under the Programme would now be transferred directly by NACO to the State AIDS Control Societies. This is expected to improve the quality of implementation in the field, as resources would now be available to them timely.
Why north-eastern states are chosen?
- The government is particularly concerned about the north-eastern states because it feels the HIV epidemic in the North Eastern (NE) region is primarily driven by injecting drug use and this is compounded by unsafe sexual behaviours.
- The porous international borders, hilly terrain, poor road and transport communications, disturbed law and order situations pose many challenges for NE states in scaling up HIV prevention, care and treatment efforts among key populations and the general population. This has adversely affected the scale and quality of services
- The budget for the National AIDS Control Programme has been increased by 15 per cent during the current Financial Year.
HIV-AIDS in north-eastern region:
- Injecting drug users continue to be the prime factor for the spread of HIV-AIDS in north-eastern region even as the government has increased medical facilities for testing and treatment of people living with the illness.
- According to latest figures of NACO, HIV prevalence among adults in Manipur is to the extent of 1.1 per cent. Similarly, Nagaland is the only State in the country which has a prevalence of more than 1 per cent among the pregnant women.
- The levels of HIV prevalence have dropped. However, the data available at NACO indicates that part of the North-East could not achieve the same kind of success, as has been recorded in other parts of the country.
[Ref: BS, ToI]
PMKVY completes 10 lakh enrolments under Skill India
Pradhan Mantri Kaushal VikasYojana (PMKVY), the flagship of Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship has completed 10 lakh enrolments under the scheme.
- The states which reflect maximum enrolments under PMKVY are Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh.
- While the sectors which saw maximum enrolments are Logistics (135615), Agriculture (90489), Electronics (82903), Beauty and Wellness (72316), Retail (65901) and Automotive (61846).
About the PMKVY:
- The Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY), the world’s largest skill certification and monetary reward scheme, was launched by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi in July 2015, on the occasion of World Youth Skills Day.
- The scheme has been implemented by National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) through a network of 1012 training partners affiliated to the scheme.
- Skill training would be done based on the National Skill Qualification Framework (NSQF) and industry led standards.
- Under the scheme, a monetary reward is given to trainees on assessment and certification by third party assessment bodies. The average monetary reward would be around Rs.8000 per trainee.
- The scheme has been implemented across all 29 states and 6 union territories of the country, and covered 596 districts and 531 constituencies.
- It addresses the requirement for skill development across 29 sectors in which around 566 job roles have been identified for courses in which the youth can enrol and can get trained.
- These courses help in making them more employable with hands on experience on skills that will make them more employable and also more efficient in their work.
- Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana aims to offer 24 lakh Indian youth meaningful, industry relevant, skill based training. Under this scheme, the trainees will be offered a financial reward and a government certification on successful completion of training and assessment, which will help them in securing a job for a better future.
Efforts behind success:
- The Ministry of Skill Development with the help of NSDC and the local training partners, and support from state governments, MPs and MLAs conducted 410 Kaushal Vikas Shivirs across the country, to educate and encourage the youth to avail the scheme.
- Most of these shivirs also had Classrooms cum labs set up within the venue to enable visitors to witness the format of the training.
Art & Culture
Heritage development projects for Andhra Pradesh, Telangana approved
Union urban development ministry has approved projects worth Rs 12 crore for improving tourist infrastructure in heritage places of Amaravati in Andhra Pradesh and Warangal in Telangana.
- Funds sanctioned will be used for developmental works at 1000 Pillar Temple and Kazipet Durgah and rejuvenation of pond at Padmakshi Temple in Warangal city and other monuments in Amaravati.
- Amaravati and Warangal are among the 12 cities included in the Heritage Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY).
- The approval in this regard was given by an inter-Ministerial HRIDAY National Empowered Committee.
About HRIDAY scheme:
- The Ministry of Urban Development, Government of India, launched the National Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY) scheme on 21st January, 2015, with a focus on holistic development of heritage cities. The scheme is implemented in a mission mode.
- The scheme aims to preserve and revitalise soul of the heritage city to reflect the city’s unique character by encouraging aesthetically appealing, accessible, informative & secured environment.
- With a duration of 27 months (completing in March 2017) and a total outlay of INR 500 Crores, the Scheme is being implemented in 12 identified Cities namely, Ajmer (Rajasthan), Amaravati (Andhra Pradesh), Amritsar (Punjab), Badami (Karnataka), Dwarka (Gujarat), Gaya (Bihar), Kanchipuramand Velankanni (Both in Tamilnadu), Mathura and Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh), Puri (Odisha), and Warangal(Telangana).
- The Scheme supports development of core heritage infrastructure projects which shall include revitalization of urban infrastructure for areas around heritage assets identified / approved by the Ministry of Culture, Government of India and State Governments.
- These initiatives shall include development of water supply, sanitation, drainage, waste management, approach roads, footpaths, street lights, tourist conveniences, electricity wiring, landscaping and such citizen services.
- With 32 UNESCO recognized natural and cultural heritage sites, ranking second in Asia and fifth in the world, the tourism potential of the country is still to be fully harnessed and this scheme will help in this regard.
- Central government will meet the entire expenditure under the scheme. But, the states and local urban bodies are requested to supplement their resources for rapid development of heritage cities.
- The project will work through a partnership of Government, Academic Institutions and local community combining affordable technologies.