04, May 2017

CCRUM holds a three day National Workshop on e-Granthalaya

  • e-Granthalaya : A Digital Agenda For Library Automation and Networking – is an Integrated Library Management Software from National Informatics Centre,(NIC), Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Government of India.
  • The software has been developed by a team of experts from software as well as Library and Information Science discipline and is useful for automation of in-house activities of libraries and to provide various online member services

1.Cabinet approves Policy for providing preference to domestically manufactured iron & steel products in government procurement

Source: PIB

This policy seeks to accomplish the PM’s vision of ‘Make in India’ with objective of nation building and encourage encourage domestic manufacturing.

Key facts:

  • The policy mandates to provide preference to Domestically Manufactured Iron & Steel Products (DMI&SP), in Government Procurement. The policy is applicable on all government tenders where price bid is yet to be opened.
  • The policy provides a minimum value addition of 15% in notified steel products which are covered under preferential procurement.
  • In order to provide flexibility, Ministry of Steel may review specified steel products and the minimum value addition criterion.
  • While implementing who shall provide the policy, it poses trust on each domestic manufacturer who shall provide self-certification to the procuring Government agency declaring that the iron & steel products are domestically manufactured in terms of the domestic value addition prescribed.
  • It shall not normally be the responsibility of procuring agency to verify the correctness of the claim. In few cases, the onus of demonstrating the correctness-of the same shall be on the bidder when asked to do so.
  • In case any manufacturer is aggrieved, a grievance redressal committee set up under the Ministry of Steel shall dispose of the complaint in a time bound manner, in four weeks.
  • There are provisions in the policy for waivers to all such procurements, where specific grades of steel are not manufactured in the country, or the quantities as per the demand of the project cannot be met through domestic sources.

The policy is envisaged to promote growth and development of domestic steel Industry and reduce the inclination to use, low quality low cost imported steel in Government funded projects. It shall be the responsibility of every Government Agency to ensure implementation of the policy.

2.Cabinet approves New Central Sector Scheme – SAMPADA (Scheme For Agro-Marine Processing And Development Of Agro-Processing Clusters) (Ministry of Food Processing Industries)

Source: PIB

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for re-structuring the schemes of the Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MoFPI) under new Central Sector Scheme – SAMPADA (Scheme for Agro-Marine Processing and Development of Agro-Processing Clusters) for the period 2016-20 coterminous with the 14th Finance Commission cycle.

The objective of SAMPADA is to supplement agriculture, modernize processing and decrease agri-waste.

SAMPADA- Scheme:

  • SAMPADA is an umbrella scheme incorporating ongoing schemes of the Ministry like Mega Food Parks, Integrated Cold Chain and Value Addition Infrastructure, Food Safety and Quality Assurance Infrastructure, etc. and also new schemes like Infrastructure for Agro-processing Clusters, Creation of Backward and Forward Linkages, Creation / Expansion of Food Processing & Preservation Capacities.
  • The SAMPADA is a comprehensive package to give a renewed thrust to the food processing sector in the country.
  • It aim at development of modern infrastructure to encourage entrepreneurs to set up food processing units based on cluster approach, provide effective and seamless backward and forward integration for processed food industry by plugging gaps in supply chain and creation of processing and preservation capacities and modernization/ expansion of existing food processing units.
  • The implementation of SAMPADA will result in creation of modern infrastructure with efficient supply chain management from farm gate to retail outlet.
  • It will not only provide a big boost to the growth of food processing sector in the country but also help in providing better prices to farmers and is a big step towards doubling of farmers’ income.
  • It will create huge employment opportunities especially in the rural areas.
  • It will also help in reducing wastage of agricultural produce, increasing the processing level, availability of safe and convenient processed foods at affordable price to consumers and enhancing the export of the processed foods.

Background

Food Processing Sector has emerged as an important segment of the Indian economy in terms of its contribution to GDP, employment and investment. During 2015-16, the sector constituted as much as 9.1 and 8.6 per cent of GVA in Manufacturing and Agriculture sector respectively.

Mega Food Park:

  • Various measures have been taken by the government to give a boost to the food processing sector. With these measures food processing sector has grown at 7 per cent.
  • In order to arrest post-harvest losses of horticulture & non-horticulture produce, the Ministry has accorded approval to 42 Mega Food Parks and 236 Integrated Cold Chains for creation of modern infrastructure for the food processing along the value chain from the farm to the market.

Government has taken various other measures to boost food processing sector as follows:

  • To provide impetus to investment in food processing and retail sector, govt. has allowed 100% FDI in trading including through e-commerce, in respect of food products manufactured and / or produced in India. This will benefit farmers immensely and will create back – end infrastructure and significant employment opportunities.
  • The govt. has also set up a Special Fund of Rs. 2000 crore in NABARD to make available affordable credit at concessional rate of interest to designated food parks and agro processing units in the designated food parks.
  • Food and agro–based processing units and cold chain infrastructure have been brought under the ambit of Priority Sector Lending (PSL) to provide additional credit for food processing activities and infrastructure thereby, boosting food processing, reducing wastage, create employment and increasing farmers’ income.

3.Two Launches in a row with Precise Hit of Brahmos Block 3

Source: PIB

South Western Command’s Corps ‘Strike One’ successfully carried out the firing of the advanced BRAHMOS Block III land attack cruise missile system in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands.

BRAHMOS Block III

  • These successful firings of the supersonic cruise missile were carried out in full operational land-to-land configurations from Mobile Autonomous Launchers (MAL) at its full-range.
  • Meeting all flight parameters in a copybook manner while conducting high level and complex manoeuvers, the multi-role missile successfully hit the land-based target with desired precision, in both the trials demonstrating its accuracy of less than one metre.
  • This is the fifth consecutive time when the Block-III version of BRAHMOS LACM has been successfully launched and hit the land-based target in “top-attack” mode, an incredible feat not achieved by any other weapon system of its genre.
  • Indian Army, which became the first land force in the world to deploy the BRAHMOS in 2007, has raised several regiments of this formidable weapon. Jointly developed by India’s DRDO and Russia’s NPOM, the multi-platform, multi-mission BRAHMOS is capable of being launched from land, sea, sub-sea and air against surface and sea-based targets.
  • The range of the supersonic missile was initially capped at 290 km as per the obligations of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).
  • Since India’s entry into the club, the range has been extended to 450 km and the plan is to increase it to 600km.

 

4.Cabinet approves National Steel Policy 2017

Source: PIB

New Policy – A reflect of long term Vision

  • Focus on enhancing domestic consumption, high quality steel production and making the sector globally competitive
  • The new Steel Policy enshrines the long term vision of the Government to give impetus to the steel sector.
  • It seeks to enhance domestic steel consumption and ensure high quality steel production and create a technologically advanced and globally competitive steel industry.

Some highlights of New Steel Policy

  • The Indian steel sector has grown rapidly over the past few years and presently it is the third largest steel producer globally, contributing to about 2% of the country’s GDP. India has also crossed 100 MT mark for production for sale in 2016-17.
  • The New Steel Policy, 2017 aspires to achieve 300MT of steel-making capacity by 2030. This would translate into additional investment of Rs. 10 lakh Crore by 2030-31.
  • The Policy seeks to increase consumption of steel and major segments are infrastructure, automobiles and housing. New Steel Policy seeks to increase per capita steel consumption to the level of 160 Kgs by 2030 from existing level of around 60 Kg.
  • Potential of MSME steel sector has been recognised. Policy stipulates that adoption of energy efficient technologies in the MSME steel sector will be encouraged to improve the overall productivity & reduce energy intensity.
  • Steel Ministry will facilitate R&D in the sector through the establishment of Steel Research and Technology Mission of India (SRTMI). The initiative is aimed to spearhead R&D of national importance in iron & steel sector utilizing tripartite synergy amongst industry, national R&D laboratories and academic institutes.
  • Ministry through policy measures will ensure availability of raw materials like Iron ore, Coking coal and non-coking coal, Natural gas etc. at competitive rates.
  • With the roll out of the National Steel Policy-2017, it is envisaged that the industry will be steered in creating an environment for promoting domestic steel and thereby ensuring a scenario where production meets the anticipated pace of growth in consumption, through a technologically advanced and globally competitive steel industry. This will be facilitated by Ministry of Steel, in coordination with relevant Ministries, as may be required.

Background:

  • Steel is one of the most important products in the modern world and forms the backbone to any industrial economy.
  • India being one of the fastest growing economies in the world, and steel finding its extensive application right from construction, infrastructure, power, aerospace and industrial machinery to consumer products, the sector is of strategic importance to the country.
  • National Steel Policy 2005 (NSP 2005) sought to indicate ways and means of consolidating the gains flowing out of the then economic order and charted out a road map for sustained and efficient growth of the Indian steel industry, it required adaptation in view of the recent developments unfolding in India and also worldwide, both on the demand and supply sides of the steel market.

5.Package to resolve NPAs gets Cabinet nod

Source: The Hindu

The package, which includes an ordinance to amend the Banking Regulation Act of 1949 to empower the Reserve Bank of India to take more actions to check bad loans, is learnt to have been cleared by the government during the meeting of the Union Cabinet

Significance of this movement:

  • Bad loans in the Indian banking system have gone up sharply in the last one year
  • A package has been approved to resolve the NPAs problem. The Cabinet has recommended an ordinance which has to first go to the President Pranab Mukherjee to secure his assent.
  • According to Reserve Bank of India data, gross NPA, as a percentage of gross advances went up to 9.1% in September 2016 from 5.1% in September 2015. During the same period, stressed assets (which is gross NPA plus standard restructured advances and write-offs), moved up from 11.3% to 12.3% and some estimates suggested it had doubled since 2013.
  • Public sector banks share a disproportionate burden of this stress. Stressed assets in some of the public sector banks have approached or exceeded 20%.
  • The economic survey of 2016-17 has pointed out the twin balance sheet problem — that is, stressed companies on one hand and NPA-laden banks on the other and advocates that a centralised Public Sector Asset Rehabilitation Agency (PARA) be established to deal with the problem of bad loans.

Banking Regulation Act, 1949: The Banking Regulation Act, 1949 is a legislation in India that regulates all banking firms in India. Initially, the law was applicable only to banking companies. But, 1965 it was amended to make it applicable to cooperative banks and to introduce other changes.

The Survey reaches to the conclusion that a PARA may be necessary because

  • Public discussion of the bad loan problem has focused on bank capital. But far more problematic is finding a way to resolve the bad debts in the first place.
  • Some debt repayment problems have been caused by diversion of funds. But the vast majority has been caused by unexpected changes in the economic environment after the Global Financial Crisis, which caused timetables, exchange rates, and growth rate assumptions to go seriously wrong.
  • This concentration creates a challenge since large cases are difficult to resolve, but also an opportunity since TBS could be overcome by solving a relatively small number of cases.
  • Restoring them to financial health will require large write-downs.
  • Among other issues, they face severe coordination problems, since large debtors have many creditors, with different interests. And they find it hard –financially and politically—to grant them sizeable debt reductions, or to take them over and sell them.
  • It increases the costs to the government since bad debts of the state banks keep rising, and increases the costs to the economy, by hindering credit, investment, and therefore growth.
  • Since, private run Asset Reconstruction Companies (ARCs) have not been successful either in resolving bad debts, though international experience (especially that of East Asian economies) shows that a professionally runcentral agency with the government backing could overcome the coordination and political issues that have impeded progress over the past eight years.
  • As per the Survey, gross NPAs has climbed to almost 12 per cent of gross advances for public sector banks at end-September 2016.

At this level, India’s NPA ratio is higher than any other major emerging market, with the exception of Russia. The consequent squeeze of banks has led them to slow credit growth to crucial sectors-especially to industry and medium and small scale enterprises (MSMEs)-to levels unseen over the past two decades. As this has occurred, growth in private and overall investment has turned negative . A decisive resolution is urgently needed before the TBS problem becomes a serious drag on growth.

6.NITI Aayog for less teaching, more research

Source: The Hindu

To ensure that investments in research better translate to more products and bolster “innovation and development” The National Institution for the Transformation of India (NITI) Aayog has recommended that faculty at “world class” institutions prioritise research and be allowed to “reduce their teaching responsibility,” if required.

The NITI Aayog suggestions stem from a three-year vision document that outlines targets and goals the Ministries — from railways to environment — ought to achieve by 2020.

Significance of this move:

  • Such universities also ought to be allowed to recruit research staff from abroad and be encouraged to compete for research projects from industry.
  • The so-called ‘world class universities’ are part of a government-outlined plan to raise funding for 10 public and 10 private universities and mould them into institutions that rank among the world’s best.

Niti Aayog Proposals:

  • The NITI Aayog also pitches for a new ‘National Science, Technology and Innovation Foundation’ headed by a distinguished scientist. This will coordinate with science and technology departments, ministries, governments and private sector bodies and deliberate on national issues and recommend interventions. Such an organisation will review progress of projects every six months and propose “course corrections” for achieving these goals.
  • It also proposes a database of all existing schemes related to science and technology across ministries and departments. This will have information on the coordinating ministry, its objectives and available funds. Its key purpose would be to avoid “duplication of efforts, reduce approval times, increase accountability and collaboration between entities and measured outcomes.



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