03, June 2017

1.Soil Health Card helps in increasing the productivity

Source: PIB

Soil Health Card, a revolutionary scheme, was initiated for farmers and it has made a huge difference to farming and farm produce. It has helped in increasing the productivity and reduced the cost of production.

Key facts:

  • Soil Health Card provides information to farmers on nutrient status of their soil along with recommendations on appropriate dosage of nutrients for improving soil health and its fertility.
  • This also gives farmers information about the nature of the soil. And post recommendations, the farmers use fertilisers and other chemicals accordingly.
  • This reduces cost and increases production.
  • In the first two-year (2015-17) of the Soil Health Card scheme, 2.53 million samples were collected and so far 93 percent samples have been tested.
  • About 14 crore Soil Health Cards are being created by the State Governments and till May 31 it has been distributed among 8 crore farmers. In the next three months, the rest of the farmers will receive their Soil Health Cards. So far, the country has yielded positive results from Soil Health Card.

The response from farmers of 136 districts of 16 states is as follows:

  • Consumption of nitrogen fertilisers has decreased and the consumption of phosphorus potash and micronutrients has increased.
  • There has been 16 to 25 percent reduction in the cost of paddy farming and 10 to 15 percent reduction in pulses and oilseeds farming.
  • There has been 10 to 25 percent increase in the production of paddy, 10 to 15 percent in the production of coarse cereals, 10 to 30 percent in pulses, and 35 to 66 percent in the production of oilseeds.

2.Highlights of initiatives under NITI Aayog

Source: PIB

The institution has taken a series of initiatives aimed at giving a push to the economy and transforming the lives of millions across the country.

  • NITI Ayog, The National Institution for Transforming India, was formed via a resolution of the Union Cabinet on January 1, 2015.
  • NITI Ayog has emerged as the premier policy ‘Think Tank’ of the Government of India fostering the spirit of cooperative federalism under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister.

Highlights of the initiatives taken by NITI Ayog

  1. Vision Document, Strategy & Action Agenda beyond 12th Five Year Plan: Replacing the Five Year Plans beyond 31st March, 2017, NITI Aayog is in the process of preparing the 15-year vision document keeping in view the social goals set and/ or proposed for a period of 15 years;
  • A 7-year strategy document spanning 2017-18 to 2023-24 to convert the longer-term vision into implementable policy and action as a part of a “National Development Agenda” is also being worked upon.
  • The 3-year Action Agenda for 2017-18 to 2019-20, aligned to the predictability of financial resources during the 14th Finance Commission Award period, has been completed and will be submitted before the Hon’ble PM on April 23rd at the 3rd Governing Council Meeting.
  1. Reforms in Agriculture:
  2. Model Land Leasing Law
  • Taking note of increasing incidents of leasing in and out of land and suboptimal use of land with lesser number of cultivators, NITI Aayog has formulated a Model Agricultural Land Leasing Act, 2016 to both recognize the rights of the tenant and safeguard interest of landowners. A dedicated cell for land reforms was also set up in NITI.
  • Based on the model act, Madhya Pradesh has enacted separate land leasing law and Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand have modified their land leasing laws. Some States, including Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, are already at an advance stage of formulating legislations to enact their land leasing laws for agriculture.
  1. Reforms of the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee Act

    NITI Aayog consulted with the States on 21 October 2016 on three critical reforms –

  1. Agricultural marketing reforms.
  2. Felling and transit laws for tree produce grown at private land.
  3. Agricultural land leasing.
  4. Agricultural Marketing and Farmer Friendly Reforms Index

NITI Aayog has developed the first ever ‘Agriculture Marketing and Farmer Friendly Reforms Index’ to sensitise states about the need to undertake reforms in the three key areas of

  1. Agriculture Market Reforms,
  2. Land Lease Reforms and
  3. Forestry on Private Land (Felling and Transit of Trees).

The index carries a score with a minimum value “0” implying no reforms and maximum value “100” implying complete reforms in the selected areas.

  • As per NITI Aayog’s index, Maharashtra ranks highest in implementation of various agricultural reforms. The State has implemented most of the marketing reforms and offers the best environment for undertaking agri-business among all the States and UTs. Gujarat ranks second with a score of 71.50 out of 100, closely followed by Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.
  1. Reforming Medical Education
  • A committee chaired by Vice Chairman, NITI Aayog recommended scrapping of the Medical Council of Indi and suggested a new body for regulating medical education.
  • The draft legislation for the proposed National Medical Commission has been submitted to the Government for further necessary action.
  1. Digital Payments Movement:
  • An action plan on advocacy, awareness and co-ordination of handholding efforts among general public, micro enterprises and other stakeholders was prepared. Presentations/ interactions were organized by NITI Aayog for training and capacity building of various Ministries/Departments of Government of India, representatives of State/UTs, Trade and Industry Bodies as well as all other stakeholders.
  • NITI Aayog also constituted a Committee of Chief Ministers on Digital Payments on 30th November 2016 with Hon’ble Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Chandrababu Naidu, as the Convener to promote transparency, financial inclusion and a healthy financial ecosystem nationwide. The Committee submitted its interim report to Hon’ble Prime Minister in January 2017.
  • To incentivize the States/UTs for promotion of digital transactions, Central assistance of Rs. 50 crore would be provided to the districts for undertaking Information, Education and Communication activities to bring 5 crore Jan Dhan accounts to digital platform.
  • Cashback and referral bonus schemes were launched by Hon’ble Prime Minister on 14.4.2017 to promote the use of digital payments through the BHIM App.
  • Niti Aayog also launched two incentive schemes to to promote digital payments across all sections of society – the Lucky Grahak Yojana and the Digi Dhan Vyapar Yojana –Over 16 lakh consumers and merchants have won Rs. 256 crore under these two schemes .
  • Digi Dhan Melas were also held for 100 days in 100 cities, from December 25th to April 14th
  1. Atal Innovation Mission:

The Government has set up Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) in NITI Aayog with a view to strengthen the country’s innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem by creating institutions and programs that spur innovation in schools, colleges, and entrepreneurs in general. In 2016-17, the following major schemes were rolled out:

  • Atal Tinkering Labs (ATLs): To foster creativity and scientific temper in students.
  • Atal Incubation Centres (AICs): AIM will provide financial support of 10 crore and capacity buidling for setting AICs across India, which will help startups expand quicker and enable innovation-entrepreneurship, in core sectors such as manufacturing, transport, energy, education, agriculture, water and sanitation, etc.
  1. Indices Measuring States’ Performance in Health, Education and Water Management
  2. Sub-Group of Chief Ministers on Rationalization of Centrally Sponsored Schemes
  3. Sub-Group of Chief Ministers on Swachh Bharat Abhiyan
  4. Sub-Group of Chief Ministers on Skill Development
  5. Task Force on Elimination of Poverty in India:
  • The report of the Task Force primarily focusses on issues of measurement of poverty and strategies to combat poverty.
  • Regarding estimation of poverty, the report of the Task Force states that “a consensus in favour of either the Tendulkar or a higher poverty line did not emerge.
  • Therefore, the Task Force has concluded that the matter be considered in greater depth by the country’s top experts on poverty before a final decision is made.
  • Accordingly, it is recommended that an expert committee be set up to arrive at an informed decision on the level at which the poverty line should be set.” With respect to strategies to combat poverty, the Task Force has made recommendations on faster poverty reduction through employment intensive sustained rapid growth and effective implementation of anti-poverty programs.
  1. Task Force on Agriculture Development:
  • The Task Force based on its works prepared an occasional paper entitled “Raising Agricultural Productivity and Making Farming Remunerative for Farmers” focusing on 5 critical areas of Indian Agriculture.
  • These are (i) Raising Productivity, (ii) Remunerative Prices to Farmers, (iii) Land Leasing, Land Records  & Land Titles; (iv) Second Green Revolution-Focus on Eastern States; and (v) Responding to Farmers’ Distress.
  1. Transforming India Lecture Series:
  • As the government’s premier think-tank, NITI Aayog views knowledge building & transfer as the enabler of real transformation in States. To build knowledge systems for States and the Centre, NITI Aayog launched the ‘NITI Lectures: Transforming India’ series, with full support of the Prime Minister.
  • The lecture series is aimed at addressing the top policy making team of the Government of India, including members of the cabinet and several top layers of the bureaucracy.
  • It aims is to bring cutting edge ideas in development policy to Indian policy makers and public, so as to promote the cause of transformation of India into a prosperous modern economy.

3.List of MoUs/Agreements signed on the sidelines of the 18th India-Russia Annual Summit 

Source: PIB

Protocol No.2 to the Agreement dated December 5, 2008 between the Government of the Republic of India and the Government of the Russian Federation

  • Agreement between Heavy Engineering Corporation Limited and Joint Stock Company “Cascade – Technologies” for setting up of a Special Purpose Vehicle for railways
  • Memorandum of Understanding between SREI Infrastructure Finance Limited and State Corporation ‘Bank for Development and Foreign Economic Affairs (Vnesheconombank)’ on Russian export support and participation in the development of India-Russia capital goods financing/leasing business
  • Agreement on Cooperation between ‘JITF Urban Infrastructure Services Limited’ (Republic of India), ‘Jindal Rail Infrastructure Limited’ (Republic of India), Joint Stock Company ‘Russian Export Centre’ (Russian Federation), and Limited Liability Company Management Company ‘RailTransHolding’ (Russian Federation)
  • Memorandum of Understanding between National Investment Promotion Agency ‘Invest India’ and the Business Council for Cooperation with India concerning the promotion of investment in India and Russia
  • Cooperation Agreement between National Investment Promotion Agency ‘Invest India’ and the Roscongress Foundation
  • Memorandum of Understanding between ‘Sun Group Private Limited’ and Joint Stock Company ‘Pribor’.

4.Prithvi-II missile successfully test-fired

Source: The Hindu

India successfully test-fired its indigenously developed nuclear-capable Prithvi-II missile from a test range in Odisha as part of a user trial by the Army.

Key facts:

  • The trial of the surface-to-surface missile, which has a strike range of 350 km, was carried out from a mobile launcher from launch complex-3 of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur.
  • The Prithvi-II missile is capable of carrying 500 kg to 1,000 kg of warheads and is thrusted by liquid propulsion twin engines. It uses advanced inertial guidance system with manoeuvring trajectory to hit its target with precision and accuracy.
  • The state-of-the-art missile was randomly chosen from the production stock and the entire launch activities were carried out by the specially formed strategic force command (SFC) and monitored by the scientists of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) as part of training exercise.
  • Inducted into Indian armed forces in 2003, the nine-metre tall, single-stage liquid-fuelled Prithvi II is the first missile to have been developed by the DRDO under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme.

Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme:

The Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP) was conceived by renowned scientist Dr A P J Abdul Kalam to enable India attain self-sufficiency in the field of missile technology.

  • Kalam, the then Director of Defence Research & Development Laboratory (DRDL). headed a Missile Study Team to weigh the feasibility of the programme.
  • The team included members from the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). the Army. Navy and Air Force. and Defence Production.

The three Services in giving shape to the strategic, indigenous missile systems.

The missiles developed under the programme were:–

  • Short-range surface-to-surface ballistic missile Prithvi
  • Intermediate-range surface-to-surface ballistic missile Agni
  • Short-range low-level surface-to-air missile Trishul
  • Medium-range surface-to-air missile Akash
  • Third generation anti-tank missile Nag
  • Land, Air and Surface missile BRAHMOS

The Agni which was initially conceived as a technology demonstrator project in the form of a re-entry vehicle, was later upgraded to a ballistic missile with different ranges.

5.India has 31% of world’s poor kids: report

Source: The Hindu

About 31% of the world’s “multidimensionally poor” children live in India, according to a new report by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), a poverty reduction project grounded in economist Amartya Sen’s ‘capability approach’.


  • In terms of countries, fully 31% of the 689 million poor children live in India, followed by Nigeria (8%), Ethiopia (7%) and Pakistan (6%),” noted the survey, titled ‘Global Multidimensional Poverty Index [MPI], 2017’.
  • OPHI is an economic research centre at the Oxford University, led by Professor Sabina Alkire, and the study is based on a survey conducted among 103 countries.
  • In terms of the number of such multidimensionally poor children as a proportion of the total population, India stood 37th among 103 countries. Out of India’s 217 million (21.7 crore) children, 49.9% were multidimensionally poor. However, the survey pointed out that the data for India were “somewhat outdated”, being based on the Indian Human Development Survey of 2011-2012.

Staggering number

  • In terms of absolute numbers, India accounts for both the highest and a staggering number of multi-dimensionally poor people. Sadly, more than 528 million (52.8 crore) Indians are poor, which is more people than all the poor people living in Sub-Saharan Africa combined. It further stated that nearly 50% of the children in 103 countries were multidimensionally poor.
  • Of the 1.45 billion (145 crore) people (from the 103 countries) who are multidimensionally poor; 48% are children. That is a total of 689 million (68.9 crore) children who live in multidimensional poverty.
  • According to the study, 87% of the multidimensionally poor children lived in South Asia (44 percent) and Sub-Saharan Africa (43%). “In Ethiopia, Niger, and South Sudan, over 90 % of the children are MPI poor.

What is Multidimensionally poor?

A “multidimensionally poor” child is one who lacks at least one-third of ten indicators, grouped into three dimensions of poverty: health, education and standard of living.

  1. The health dimension comprises indicators such as nutrition, child mortality, and education.
  2. Under standard of living are indicators such as access to cooking fuel, improved sanitation, safe drinking water, electricity, flooring, and asset ownership.


wake-up call to the international community which has adopted the global Sustainable Development Goals and takes seriously Goal 1, the eradication of poverty in all its forms and dimensions.


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