08, February 2017

1.New umbrella scheme for empowerment of youth

Source: PIB

National Service Scheme (NSS) and Rajiv Gandhi National Institute of Youth Development (RGNIYD) have been retained as separate Schemes due to the distinctive nature of their operational framework, all other Schemes have been merged into a new umbrella Scheme called ‘Rashtriya Yuva Sashaktikaran Karyakram (RYSK)’, a flagship programme of the Department for empowerment of the youth to enable them to realise their potential and in the process, to contribute to the nation-building process.

2.The Asia LPG Summit

Source: PIB

The WLPGA Asia LPG Summit was recently inaugurated in Delhi. In this event, India will showcase its various initiatives such as the Ujjwala, Direct Benefit Transfer and ‘Give-it-up’ schemes aimed at increasing access of its population to LPG.

The Asia Summit will be accompanied by the India LPG Summit ‘Emerging Trends’.

 Asia LPG Summit:

  • The WLPGA (World LPG Association) is organizing its major global event ‘the WLPGA Asia LPG Summit’ for the first time in India in partnership with the major Oil PSUs Indian Oil, HPCL, and BPCL.
  • More than 600 delegates from over 35 countries are attending the prestigious event where the deliberations will focus on the need for replacing the use of traditional fuels such as firewood and charcoal with LPG among populations of the developing world as part of global efforts to increase access to clean energy.
  • This will be an opportunity for the global LPG industry, along with development agencies, NGOs, academia and private sector to hear about the remarkable transformation taking place in the Indian LPG sector with initiatives such as the ‘Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana’, ‘Pahal’- Direct Benefit Transfer and ‘Give-it-up’ turning out to be hugely successful.
  • The discussions will focus on finding new ways to improve access and delivery of LPG to the last household by involving the LPG sector, independent organizations working in the field and government agencies from across the world.

Background:

India is today the world’s second biggest consumer of LPG in the domestic sector with annual consumption exceeding 18 million tonnes and about a 10% annual growth. In the last two years, India embarked on an unprecedented expansion of its LPG reach through some hugely successful programmes that have ensured LPG access to over 800 million plus people. The key objectives of these programmes are to provide LPG connections to BPL households.

World LPG Association:

  • The World LPG Association (WLPGA) is the authoritative global voice for the liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) industry and the worldwide industry association which represents the interests of the LPG industry globally. The WLPGA promotes the use of LPG to foster a cleaner, healthier and more prosperous world.
  • With over 200 members headquartered in more than 125 countries, the WLPGA represents the interests of private and public companies from the entire LPG value chain under one umbrella.
  • The WLPGA provides a platform for the exchange of best practices, facts and figures among its members.
  • The Association regularly organises interactive meetings between technical experts, members and key stakeholders to demonstrate the benefits of LPG.
  • The WLPGA was officially granted Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council in 1989. Publications such as its Annual Statistical Review have become LPG industry references.

3.Annual Maritime Power Conference – 2017

Source: PIB

Annual Maritime Power Conference – 2017 will be held in Delhi. The National Maritime Foundation (NMF) has organized the conference.

Key facts:

  • The theme of this year’s conference- ‘The Blue Economy: Concept, Constituents and Development’.
  • This conference aims to add to the understanding of the discourse on Blue Economy and intends to discuss its constituents in an attempt to develop a common understanding of the concept.
  • It seeks to identify the opportunities and challenges with the aim of evolving concrete recommendations towards harnessing the Blue Economy, while ensuring efficient utilization of marine resources and sustained development of the oceans.

NMF:

  • The NMF was established in 2005 to provide a common platform for discourse between maritime-related institutions, organisations and disciplines, within the country and abroad.
  • The Foundation conducts independent academic research and provides policy-relevant recommendations to advance the nation’s maritime goals.
  • As a part of its charter, NMF endeavours to foster maritime awareness on contemporary issues through academic engagements and towards this end, the Foundation organises an Annual Maritime Power Conference (AMPC).

4.Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) signs four more unilateral Advance Pricing Agreements (APAs)

Source: PIB

The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT),Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance has entered into four more unilateral Advance Pricing Agreements (APAs).

They are

The four APAs signed pertain to the Manufacturing, Financial and Information Technology sectors of the economy. The international transactions covered in these agreements include Contract Manufacturing, IT Enabled Services and Software Development Services.

Key facts:

The total number of APAs entered into by the CBDT has reached 130. This includes 8 bilateral APAs and 122 Unilateral APAs. In the current financial year, a total of 66 APAs (5 bilateral APAs and 61 unilateral APAs) have already been entered into. The CBDT expects more APAs to be concluded and signed before the end of the current fiscal.

APA Scheme:

  • The APA Scheme was introduced in the Income-tax Act in 2012 and the “Rollback” provisions were introduced in 2014.
  • The scheme endeavours to provide certainty to taxpayers in the domain of transfer pricing by specifying the methods of pricing and determining the prices of international transactions in advance.
  • Since its inception, the APA scheme has evinced a lot of interest from taxpayers and that has resulted in more than 700 applications (both unilateral and bilateral) being filed so far in about five years.
  • The progress of the APA Scheme strengthens the Government’s resolve of fostering a non-adversarial tax regime.
  • The Indian APA program has been appreciated nationally and internationally for being able to address complex transfer pricing issues in a fair and transparent manner.

5.SC dismisses TN’s review plea on remission power

Source: The Hindu

The Supreme Court has dismissed a review petition filed by the Tamil Nadu government against a 2015 Constitution Bench judgment that a State government has no suo motu power to remit sentences of persons convicted under a Central law and cases investigated by a Central agency like the CBI.

The verdict was based on a challenge by the Centre to Tamil Nadu’s move to remit the life sentence of seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.

Background:

  • In 2015, the judgment had held that the Centre, and not the State government, would have “primacy” in deciding whether persons convicted in matters of the CBI or a Central agency should be released or not on remission.
  • Interpreting Section 435 (2) of the Cr.PC, the court had held that the word ‘consultation’ meant ‘concurrence’. This meant that the Tamil Nadu government should have got the prior consent of the Centre before issuing its February 19, 2014 order to remit the life sentence of seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi case.

6.India to frame policy on synthetic biology

Source: The Hindu

The technology could help produce drugs, vaccines, fuel components and other chemical.

India is taking its first steps to evolve a policy on synthetic biology, an emerging science through which new life forms can potentially be made in labs and existing life forms, such as bacteria and other microbes, tweaked to produce specific proteins or chemically useful products.

Key facts:

  • The Environment Ministry will be convening a group of experts on biodiversity and biotechnology, to assess synthetic biology work pursued in Indian labs, potential benefits and risks, and the implications of the trans-boundary movement of such life forms.
  • Synthetic biology in microbial systems holds promise for production of drugs, vaccines, fuel components and other chemicals.
  • A popular example is the production of artemisinin, a powerful anti-malarial drug, in yeast, at a commercial level. Microorganisms have also been constructed to act as sensors that can detect a toxin in vitro (outside a living organism) or in vivo (inside a living organism).

What is a Synthetic biology?

Synthetic biology is an emerging area of research that can broadly be described as the design and construction of novel artificial biological pathways, organisms or devices, or the redesign of existing natural biological systems.

7.BioAsia 2017

Source: The Hindu

Hyderabad which earned the distinction of emerging as the life sciences hub of India will host a three-day event — Bio Asia 2017

International partners for the 14th edition of the event are the States of Illinois in the USA, Selangor, Malaysia and Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.

  • The event agenda will touch upon many areas ranging from innovation and R&D, manufacturing, digital healthcare, diagnostics and hospital infections to anti-microbial resistance.
  • Around 1,500 delegates from over 50 countries are taking part in this event.
  • BioAsia seeks to enhance, enrich and encourage newer innovations, path-breaking discoveries and effective solutions in the industry by offering a vibrant global platform for convergence of the key stakeholders – Biotech & Biopharma Companies, research institutions, investors, service providers, policy makers, regulators and analysts.
  • Organized by the Department of Industries and Commerce, Government of Telangana, this event has emerged as a preeminent technology and bio-business convention in Asia for Life sciences, pharmaceuticals and healthcare.

7.India’s Cold Start doctrine can’t ensure easy win against Pak: Chinese media

Source: Indian Express

State-run Chinese media has observed that Indian Army’s “Cold Start” doctrine to seize control of Pakistani territory might be intimidating but will not lead to a “landslide” victory against nuclear-armed Pakistan.

India and Pakistan:

  • Both India and Pakistan are nuclear-armed countries. Even if the Cold Start strategy sounds intimidating and there is indeed a gap between the two powers’ military might, it does not mean that New Delhi can easily win a landslide victory against Islamabad. The truth is, Pakistan has considerable strength to safeguard its sovereignty and its nuclear weapons should not be ignored.
  • Given the uncertainties of US’ future policy toward South Asia, the India-Pakistan peace process, which is already frozen, is now in a “critically fragile state”.

Cold Start Doctrine:

  • Cold Start is a military doctrine developed by the Indian Armed Forces to put to use in case of a war with Pakistan.
  • The main objective of the Cold Start Doctrine is to launch a retaliatory conventional strike against Pakistan inflicting significant harm on the Pakistan Army before any international community could intercede, but not in way Pakistan would be provoked to make a nuclear attack.
  • Cold Start Doctrine deviated from India’s defence strategy since 1947 – “a non-aggressive, non-provocative defense policy,” – and will involve limited, rapid armoured thrusts, with infantry and necessary air support.
  • Cold Start Doctrine was developed as the limitations of the earlier doctrine – Sundarji Doctrine – was exposed after the attack on the Indian Parliament.
  • According to the Cold Start Doctrine, battle Groups will be well forward from existing garrisons. India’s elite strike forces will no longer sit idle waiting for the opportune moment, giving Pakistan the luxury of time.

India will host the first meeting of national security advisers of BIMSTEC countries

India will host the first meeting of national security advisers of BIMSTEC countries in the coming months to cooordinate action against terrorism, extremism and radicalization.

This was decided at a recent BIMSTEC meet in Kathmandu ahead of the fourth Summit of the grouping to be held in Nepal this year.

 



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