Government Schemes & Policies
- ComMin launches tools to rank states, UTs on startup ecosystem
Issues related to Health & Education
- Google collaborates with NCERT to launch ‘Digital Citizenship’ course in India
- Development of Solar Cities scheme: India to develop 60 solar cities
- Union Budget 2018: Govt must address anomaly of inverted duty structure
Bilateral & International Relations
- 6th World Government Summit (WGS)
Defence & Security Issues
- India successfully test-fires nuclear capable ballistic missile Agni-1
- Google launches #SecurityCheckKiya campaign to safeguard internet users
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Government Schemes & Policies
ComMin launches tools to rank states, UTs on startup ecosystem
Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) under Commerce Ministry has launched three tools to rank states and union territories on the basis of measures taken by them to promote budding entrepreneurs.
- They will help promote the start-up drive.
These tools are:
- Startup States and UTs Ranking Framework
- The framework aims to foster competitiveness and propel states/UTS to act proactively in startup matters.
- This ranking will help states to bring progress made in their startup ecosystem and also make different states learn and replicate good practices.
- Its objective is to encourage States/UTs to take proactive steps towards strengthening Startup ecosystems at local level.
- It will also measure impact of each step initiated at local level for building strong Startup ecosystem. It will also enable continuous learning through the dissemination of good practices.
- It is based on feedback collected from Startup ecosystem stakeholders, which include startups, mentors, investors, accelerators, incubators and government bodies.
- The parameters of this feedback focus on all actions and initiatives undertaken by states on or before March 2018. These parameters include having startup cell or helpline and mobile or web portal for queries, size of startup mentor network created by state government and number of key incubators for incubation support to startups.
- It also gives greater thrust like seed funding support, women entrepreneurship.
- Startup India Compendium of Good Practises
- It aims at promoting Startups in India and focuses on enriching startup ecosystem through ethical behaviours. It is currently followed by 18 States/UTs.
- It covers 95 good practises across 7 areas of intervention for evaluating the performance of startup ecosystem in states/UTs. These are distilled into 38 action points including Incubation Support, Seed Funding, Angel & Venture Funding, Startup Policy & Implementation, Simplified Regulations, Easing Public Procurement, Awareness & Outreach.
- Startup India Kit
- It is primarily a one-stop guide on all Startup India offerings.
- It offers vital information, advice and assistance through website links, statistics, tools, templates, events, competitions and a glossary on startup terms.
- All the benefits available to startups from the Startup India initiative can be found in the kit.
Startups in India:
- India is home to about 20,000 startups, with about 1,400 beginning operations every year.
- They are not only driving economic growth but also leading to technological innovations and employment generation in every state. Entrepreneurs are introducing new solutions everyday and also improving existing processes.
- To encourage and help statrups the Govt of India has taken the lead in creating policies and a framework. Many States and UTs have a startup focussed environment with ease of doing business for startups.
Issues related to Health & Education
Google collaborates with NCERT to launch ‘Digital Citizenship’ course in India
Google has joined hands with NCERT in order to integrate a course on digital citizenship and safety in the ICT (Information and communication technology) curriculum.
- The idea behind the same is to mark ‘Safer Internet Day 2018’ (February 6) and put emphasis on making the web a safer place.
- Also, a curriculum has been created by Google for teachers, so that they can help students learn about digital citizenship in their classrooms.
- The move is aimed to teach young children the essentials of staying safe, while exploring the online world.
About the programme course:
- A range of specific resources for kids and educators will be provided, which will enable them with the tools they need to learn and educate themselves on internet safety.
- The curriculum is spread into four themes – being smart, being safe, being a digital citizen and being future ready.
- The curriculum is structured to match the intellectual and curiosity needs of different age group of the children.
- As they advance through their classes, they will be taught more advanced topics such as privacy, device management, intellectual property and reputation management.
- Finally, as they become ready to graduate as digital citizens, they will be prepared with online financial literacy and cyber crime concepts so that they are future ready.
- Google will not charge any fee for the training.
Significance of this move:
- This launch will help students all across the country learn how to become responsible digital citizens, through structured classroom modules on the social, ethical and legal aspects of internet safety.
Development of Solar Cities scheme: India to develop 60 solar cities
The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy under its scheme “Development of Solar Cities” has approved/sanctioned 60 Cities including 13 Pilot and 5 Model Cities up to 12th Five-year Plan period.
Development of Solar Cities scheme
The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy is implementing a programme on ‘Development of Solar Cities’.
- The Scheme aims at reducing minimum 10% in projected demand of conventional energy at end of five years, through combination of enhancing supply from renewable energy sources in city and energy efficiency measures.
- Under it, local Governments are motivated for adopting renewable energy technologies and energy efficiency measures.
- Sixty Cities are proposed to be developed as Solar Cities during the Eleventh Plan period including four Model Solar Cities and 10 Pilot Solar Cities. The Master plan for each Solar City is being prepared to assess and utilize various renewable sources including Solar, Wind, Municipal Waste etc.
- The criteria set by the ministry for the identification of cities include a city having population between 50,000 to 50 lakh (with relaxation given to special category states including northeast states), initiatives and regulatory measures already taken along with a high level of commitment in promoting energy efficiency and renewable energy.
- Solar City developed under this scheme will have all types of renewable energy based projects like solar, wind, biomass, small hydro, waste to energy etc.
- It may be installed along with possible energy efficiency measures depending on the need and resource availability in the city.
Objectives of Solar City Scheme
- Enable and empower Urban Local Governments (ULBs) to address energy challenges at City-level.
- Provide framework and support to prepare Master Plan including assessment of current energy situation, future demand and action plans.
- Oversee the implementation of sustainable energy options through public-private partnerships (PPPs).
- Build capacity in ULBs and create awareness among all sections of civil society.
- Involve various stakeholders in the planning process.
Need for Solar Cities:
- Urbanization and economic development are leading to a rapid rise in energy demand in urban areas in our country leading to enhanced Green House Gas (GHG) emissions.
- Many cities around the world are setting targets and introducing polices for promoting renewable energy and reducing GHG emissions and the countries like Australia and USA are developing the solar cities.
- Several Indian cities and towns are experiencing rapid growth in the peak electricity demand. The local governments and the electricity utilities are finding it difficult to cope with this rapid rise in demand and as a result most of the cities/towns are facing electricity shortages.
In this context, the “Development of Solar Cities” programme is designed to support/encourage Urban Local Bodies to prepare a Road Map to guide their cities in becoming ‘renewable energy cities’ or ‘solar cities’.[Ref: PIB]
Union Budget 2018: Govt must address anomaly of inverted duty structure
The Union Budget has reinforced the correction of the inverted duty structure (IDS) which has adversely impacted manufacturing for decades.
What is Inverted duty structure?
- Inverted duty structure is a situation where import duty on finished goods is low compared to the import duty on raw materials that are used in the production of such finished goods.
- For example, suppose the tariff (import tax) on the import of tyres is 10% and the tariff on the imports of natural rubber which is used in the production of tyres is 20%; this is a case of inverted duty structure.
- An IDS means higher duty on intermediate as opposed to final/finished goods, with the latter often enjoying concessional custom duty under some schemes.
What are the concerns associated with IDS?
- When the import duty on raw materials is high, it will be more difficult to produce the concerned good domestically at a competitive price. Several industries depend on imported raw materials and components. High tax on the raw materials compels them to raise price.
- On the other hand, foreign finished goods will be coming at a reduced price because of low tax advantage. In conclusion, manufactured goods by the domestic industry becomes uncompetitive against imported finished goods.
- The disadvantage of the inverted duty structure increases with the increased use of imported raw materials.
- An inverted duty structure discourages domestic value addition.
- The Budget has raised customs duties significantly. The goods and services tax (GST), especially the IGST or Integrated GST component, has begun to erode the advantage that the IDS was giving to foreign exporters in Indian markets.
- Also, the Finance Minister, in Budget 2014, had announced the beginnings of a reversal of the IDS in electronics and has sustained that effort in subsequent Budgets.
Bilateral & International Relations
6th World Government Summit (WGS)
The sixth Edition of World Government Summit will be held in in Dubai, UAE.
About World Government Summit:
The World Government Summit is a global platform dedicated to shaping the future of government worldwide.
- Each year, the Summit sets the agenda for the next generation of governments with a focus on how they can harness innovation and technology to solve universal challenges facing humanity.
- The World Government Summit is a knowledge exchange center at the intersection between government, futurism, technology, and innovation.
- It functions as a thought leadership platform and networking hub for policymakers, experts, and pioneers in human development.
- The Summit is a gateway to the future as it functions as a stage for analysis of the future trends, issues, and opportunities facing humanity.
- It is also an arena to showcase innovations, best practice, and smart solutions to inspire creativity to tackle these future challenges.
Defence & Security Issues
India successfully test-fires nuclear capable ballistic missile Agni-1
Indigenously developed short-range nuclear capable ballistic Agni-1 was successfully test-fired from mobile launcher located at Integrated Test Range of Dr Abdul Kalam Island (Wheeler Island) off the Odisha.
- The missile was tested as part of a periodic training activity by the Strategic Forces Command (SFC) of the Indian Army to consolidate operational readiness.
- It is claimed to be part of India’s minimum credible deterrence under No first to use policy.
- It was 18th version of Agni-I, which could achieve all parameters within the stipulated time period.
About Agni-1 Missile:
Agni-1 is indigenously developed intermediate range surface-to-surface, single-stage missile.
- It was developed by Advanced Systems Laboratory (ASL) in collaboration with Defence Research Development Laboratory (DRDL) and Research Centre Imarat (RCI). ASL is the premier missile development laboratory of DRDO.
- The missile was integrated by the Bharat Dynamics Limited, Hyderabad.
- The missile weighs around 12 tonnes and is propelled by a solid rocket propellant system. It is 15-metre-long and can carry both conventional as well as nuclear payloads (warheads) up to 1,000 kg.
- It has strike range of over 700 km. It is equipped with specialised navigation system that ensures it reaches target with high degree of precision.
- The missile already has been inducted into the armed forces (service) in 2004. The last trial of missile was successfully conducted in November 2016 from the same base.
Google launches #SecurityCheckKiya campaign to safeguard internet users
On the occasion of Safer Internet Day (6 February), search engine giant Google has launched ‘#SecurityCheckKiya’ campaign in India to create awareness around Internet safety.
About the ‘#SecurityCheckKiya’ campaign:
- The campaign aims to protect first-time web users from account hijacking, safeguard Android devices from malicious apps and secure all their personal data if they lose their device.
- Under campaign, Google has recommended three simple steps for Internet safety. It includes reviewing security settings and Google account activity with one click for all Android devices and Gmail users.
- The campaign is targeted at young and first-time users to protect themselves from account hijacking. It is also aimed at shielding Android mobile devices from malicious apps.
- Google Security check helps users to automatically scan for any vulnerability and guides them to keep their account safe in a few minutes.
- Moreover ‘Google Play Protect’ service scans and checks Android devices for any harmful apps. Find My Device app from Google helps a user to easily locate a lost Android device and keeps the device and information secure.
Need for such campaign:
- With a large base of unsuspecting first time Internet users now coming online through easy access modes but lacking technical literacy, Indian users are increasingly vulnerable to bad actors and abuse on the web.