09, August 2017

Sustainable Action for Transforming Human Capital (SATH) initiative of NITI Aayog.

  • NITI Aayog has been working to foster co-operative federalism by ranking states through health, water, education, and agricultural indices. However, SATH has been launched to go beyond ranking states and to handhold them in improving their social sector indicators.
  • SATH is a challenging and ambitious initiative as the baseline of various indicators and parameters of education and health in the States are in public domain.
  • It defines a new dimension for cooperative federalism, where NITI Aayog and its knowledge partner will actively aid implementation of their recommendations, in addition to just policy inputs.
  • All stakeholders will be under pressure from the day of signing of the MOU to initiate reforms or processes which will show improvement in education and learning outcomes.

e-Shakti initiative of NABARD

  • e-Shakti is a pilot project of National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) for digitisation of Self Help Groups (SHGs).
  • It was initiated to address certain concerns like improving the quality of book keeping of SHGs and to enable banks to take informed credit decisions about the group through a Management Information System (MIS). The project covers 25 districts and 1,30,176 SHGs have been digitised as on 31st March, 2017.
  • As per information compiled by NABARD, about 69,696 SHGs of the SHGs which have been digitised are credit linked as on 31st July, 2017.
  • No SHG has been de-recognised on account of, or, after digitisation. The digitisation project does not impact the profit/ loss position of the SHGs.

1.Preparatory Meeting of the First ‘BIMSTEC Disaster Management Exercise- 2017’ begins- BIMSTEC DMEx- 2017

Source: PIB

The first phase of the First ‘BIMSTEC Disaster Management Exercise- 2017’, being organized by the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF).

(Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC))

Key facts:

  • The Disaster Management Exercise of BIMSTEC bloc will help in the augmentation of capacities, especially response capacity, besides promoting cooperation and coordination in Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR).
  • Regional and International Cooperation in DRR is critical to Disaster Management.
  • India has been at the forefront of DRR efforts by hosting the South Asian Annual Disaster Management Exercise (SAADMEx) and the Asian Ministerial Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction (AMCDRR).
  • India has also offered its expertise and capabilities in DRR such as the South Asia satellite, GSAT-9, and the Tsunami Early Warning Centre to other countries


  • The Disaster Management Act has made the statutory provisions for constitution of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) for the purpose of specialized response to natural and man-made disasters.
  • The mid nineties and the subsequent decade saw much international debate & discussion around Disaster Response & Preparedness.
  • Some of the notable and more impactful ones were the Yokohama Strategy Plan (1994) & the Hyogo Framework for Action (2005), adopted by the UN. During the same period India faced some of its most severe natural calamities like Orissa Super Cyclone (1999), Gujarat Earthquake (2001) and Indian Ocean Tsunami (2004).
  • This succession of events and the International environment brought to fore, the need of comprehensive disaster management plan. This led to the enactment of the Disaster Management Act on December 26th, 2005. The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) was constituted to lay down the policies, plans and guidelines for disaster management.

National Disaster Management Authority

“To build a safer and disaster resilient India by a holistic, pro-active, technology driven and sustainable development strategy that involves all stakeholders and fosters a culture of prevention, preparedness and mitigation.”

Policy Framework

  • The National Policy framework has been prepared after due deliberation and keeping in view the National Vision to build a safe and disaster-resilient India by developing a holistic, proactive, multi-disaster and technology-driven strategy for DM.
  • The entire process will centre-stage the community and will be provided momentum and sustenance through the collective efforts of all government agencies and Non-Governmental Organizations.

This Policy framework is also in conformity with the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, the Rio Declaration, the Millennium Development Goals and the Hyogo Framework 2005-2015. The themes that underpin this policy are:-

  • Community-based disaster management, including last mile integration of the policy, plans and execution.
  • Capacity development in all related areas.
  • Consolidation of past initiatives and best practices.
  • Cooperation with agencies at the national, regional and international levels.
  • Compliance and coordination to generate a multi-sectoral synergy.

BIMSTEC: ‘Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation’ (BIMSTEC)-

Secretariat‎: ‎Dhaka, Bangladesh

  • Though BIMSTEC is a Bay of Bengal camp, two land-locked states — Nepal and Bhutan — are also part of the seven member-group. Five of them are from South Asia — India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka — and two from South East Asia — Myanmar and Thailand.
  • The BIMSTEC region is home to around 1.5 billion people which constitute around 22% of the global population. The region has a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of $2.7 trillion. In the last five years, BIMSTEC member states have been able to sustain an average 6.5% economic growth trajectory despite global financial meltdown.
  • Principles: The cooperation within BIMSTEC will be based on respect for the principle of sovereign equality, territorial integrity, political independence, non-interference in internal affairs, peaceful co-existence and mutual benefit.
  • This cooperation within BIMSTEC will constitute an addition to, and not be a substitute for, bilateral, regional or multilateral cooperation involving the member states.

Priority sectors of the BIMSTEC grouping

  • BIMSTEC covers 14 priority sectors. Each country leads one or more area in a voluntary manner. India leads two — counter terrorism and transnational crime, telecommunication and transport.
  • The other key sectors are trade and investment, technology, energy, tourism, fisheries, agriculture, cultural cooperation, environment and disaster management, public health, people-to-people contact, poverty alleviation, etc.

Objectives of BIMSTEC:

  • To create an enabling environment for rapid economic development through identification and implementation of specific cooperation projects in the sectors.
  • To accelerate the economic growth and social progress in the sub-region through joint endeavors in a spirit of equality and partnership.
  • To promote active collaboration and mutual assistance on matters of common interest in the economic, social, technical and scientific fields.
  • To provide assistance to each other in the form of training and research facilities in the educational, professional and technical spheres.
  • To cooperate in projects that can be dealt with most productively on a sub-regional basis and make best use of available synergies among BIMSTEC member countries.

2.India wants quick deal on BIMSTEC free trade

Source: The Hindu

India is aggressively pushing for the conclusion of long-pending Free Trade Agreement (FTA) under the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) by November during the Summit meeting.

Key facts:

  • Conclusion of the FTA in goods, the talks for which were launched in 2004, will be one of the topmost agenda items of External Affairs Minister during the upcoming BIMSTEC Foreign Ministers’ Meeting that is scheduled to be held in Nepal on August 10-11, according to sources.
  • However, though the government is keen on concluding the FTA, a lot of hurdles need to be crossed before all members agree to sign the pact, the primary reason being disagreement between India and Thailand over market access for professionals, duty cuts on traded goods and policy relaxation.
  • The major difference in BIMSTEC FTA is that India wants to negotiate the pact afresh and not what was agreed in 2004, when the FTA framework was signed, whereas all other member countries want to maintain status quo.
  • One of the main reasons why the FTA remained stalled all these years is due to differences between India and Thailand over market access. While India has demanded easing of rules for its professionals, Thailand has asked for relaxation in the foreign investment rules in multibrand retail trade for its retailers.
  • The BIMSTEC – India, Thailand, Mynamar, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan – will complete 20 years since it was established. As a result, India wants the FTA to be concluded this year to assert its “relevance” especially at a time when the government when the SAARC is in doldrums and India wants to bypass Pakistan in all its sub-regional economic and non-economic arrangements.

Look East policy

  • The criticality to sign the deal is multi-fold for India. Firstly, an FTA will undoubtedly boost the ‘Look East’ policy, which is one of key aspects of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s foreign policy, thereby contributing to the development of the vulnerable north-eastern region.
  • Secondly, this will also serve India’s larger purpose of sideline Pakistan.
  • In 2004, it also decided that first the goods pact will be signed and that it will followed by subsequent pacts in services and investment and a comprehensive trade agreement will be signed.

What are the objectives of India’s Look East Policy?

  • Look East Policy- launched by former Prime Minister V Narasimha Rao i 1991.
  • Focus only on south east asian counteries
  • The Look East Policy to reconnect with Asia as part of India’s economic globalisation.

Historical connection– From a Look East-Act east perspective, we might recall a bit of history. The Kalingas had looked East for trade some 2000 years ago. Last year happened to be the Millennium of the coronation of Rajendra Chola. The Chola Empire stretched from India into many of the countries in today’s South East Asia. We see the effects of their cultural and other ingress into these countries. The Chola Empire could perhaps be seen as the first movement towards the evolution of India’s Look East-Act East policy.

Separate policy of East Asia because of the following reasons-

  • Economic recession and balanced of payment crisis in mid-1991 in India due to Gulf war which was mainly because of Geopolitical tension.
  • Collapse of Soviet union (cold war end- 1990) , created a strategic and economic vacuum of India.
  • China’s economic reform( shift from communisim to market socialism ) prompted India to reach out to south east asia to avoid falling into a subordinate political and economic role in the region.
  • India’s desire to stabilize north eastern states where insurgency were picking up it pace.

Objective of look East policy

  • Regional economic integration and ties with ASEAN counteries- BIMSTEC, Mekong Ganga etc
  • Reform and liberalisation – free trade agreement
  • Sustained economic growth
  • Development of northeastern states- connectivity with south eastern counteries via roads , railways etc and infrastructure development
  • to balance China’s influence in this region
  • Diplomatic engagement with southeast to border security and defence ties.

India and Look East Policy:

  • India still remains outside the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum
  • India has entered into a number of pacts, agreements and FTAs with nations of ASEAN but its record for implementation of such accords has been poor.
  • India lags behind China and Japan in almost all spheres of Pan East Asian cooperation, East Asian observers reckon that India has so far appeared less proactive than China on some critical issues.
  • Some analysts feel that India’s Look East Policy lacks a strategic vision despite seeking defense cooperation with some ASEAN nations (Myanmar, Indonesia and Vietnam) and securing a role for joint patrolling in the Malacca Straits. India does not take an assertive role perhaps due to it limited military capability


  • Act East Policy adopted by PM Narendra modi in 2014 .
  • It focus on ASIA PACIFIC region.
  • This is not just a rebranding rather it carried aa significant message with it that India is willing to play a more active and prominent strategic role, exemplified by enhanced defence diplomacy in east and south east asia.

Why is Bimstec so important for India?

Click here: http://www.livemint.com/Politics/4JsOSUC4N81BK0T7zNYecK/Why-is-Bimstec-so-important-for-India.html

3.“There are 18 Biosphere Reserves in the Country”: Environment Minister

Source: PIB

Biosphere Reserve:

  • “Biosphere Reserve (BR) is an international designation by UNESCO for representative parts of natural and cultural landscapes extending over large area of terrestrial or coastal/ marine ecosystems or a combination thereof.
  • BRs are designated to deal with one of the most important questions of reconciling the conservation of biodiversity, the quest for economic and social development and maintenance of associated cultural values.
  • BRs are thus special environments for both people and the nature and are living examples of how human beings and nature can co-exist while respecting each other’s needs.

Man and Biosphere(MAB)

UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB) is an Intergovernmental Scientific Programme that aims to establish a scientific basis for the improvement of relationships between people and their environments.

  • MAB combines the natural and social sciences, economics and education to improve human livelihoods and the equitable sharing of benefits, and to safeguard natural and managed ecosystems, thus promoting innovative approaches to economic development that are socially and culturally appropriate, and environmentally sustainable.
  • The Biosphere Reserve Programme is guided by UNESCO Man and Biosphere (MAB) programme as India is a signatory to the landscape approach supported by MAB programme.
  • A scheme called Biosphere Reserve is being implemented by Government of India since 1986, in which financial assistance is given in 90:10 ratio to the North Eastern Region States and three Himalayan states and in the ratio of 60:40 to other states for maintenance, improvement and development of certain items.
  • The State Government prepares the Management Action Plan which is approved and monitored by Central MAB Committee.


1 Cold Desert, Himachal Pradesh 10 Achanakmar-Amarkantak, Madhya Pradesh-Chattisgarh
2 Nanda Devi, Uttrakhand 11 Kachchh, Gujarat
3 Khangchendzonga, Sikkim 12 Similipal, Odisha
4 Dehang-Debang, Arunachal Pradesh 13 Sundarban, West Bengal
5 Manas, Assam 14 Seshachalam, Andhra Pradesh
6 Dibru-Saikhowa, Assam 15 Agasthyamala, Karnataka-Tamil Nadu-Kerala
7 Nokrek, Meghalaya 16 Nilgiri, Tamil Nadu-Kerala
8 Panna, Madhya Pradesh 17 Gulf of Mannar, Tamil Nadu
9 Pachmarhi, Madhya Pradesh 18 Great Nicobar, Andaman & Nicobar Island


4.Pension Scheme for The Elderly

Source: PIB

  • Government has launched the ‘Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana (PMVVY)’ to provide social security during old age and to protect elderly persons aged 60 and above against a future fall in their interest income due to uncertain market conditions.
  • The scheme enables old age income security for senior citizens through provision of assured pension/return linked to the subscription amount based on government guarantee to Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC).
  • The scheme provides an assured return of 8% per annum payable monthly for 10 years. The differential return, i.e. the difference between return generated by LIC and the assured return of 8% per annum would be borne by Government of India as subsidy on an annual basis. The scheme is open for subscription till 3rd May 2018.

5.Environment Ministry Implementing Two Major Afforestation Schemes in the Country

Source: PIB

To achieve the targets mentioned in the National Forest Policy to maintain 33% forest and tree cover in the country the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEF&CC) is implementing two major afforestation/tree plantation schemes i.e. National Afforestation Programme (NAP) scheme and National Mission for a Green India (GIM)

Key facts:

NAP is being implemented for afforestation of degraded forest lands

GIM aims at improving the quality of forest/increase in forest cover, besides cross-sectoral activities on landscape basis.

  • An area of about 21 lakh ha has been approved for new afforestation with an investment of around Rs. 3700 crore under NAP since inception in 2000, till 2016-17. Under GIM an amount of Rs.174 crore has been released since 2011-12 to 2016-17 for preparatory and perspective plan.
  • The fund under Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA), interalia, is also used in plantation activity including compensatory afforestation to give a massive thrust to afforestation activity in the country.


  • An Act to provide for the establishment of funds under the public accounts of India and the public accounts of each State and crediting thereto the monies received from the user agencies towards compensatory afforestation, additional compensatory afforestation, penal compensatory afforestation, net present value and all other amounts recovered from such agencies under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980;
  • Constitution of an authority at national level and at each of the State and Union territory Administration for administration of the funds and to utilise the monies so collected for undertaking artificial regeneration (plantations), assisted natural regeneration, protection of forests, forest related infrastructure development, Green India Programme, wildlife protection and other related activities and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

Key facts:

  • Central Government while according prior approval under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 for diversion of forest land for non-forest purpose stipulates conditions to the effect that the State Government shall realize funds from the user agency for compensatory afforestation, catchment area treatment plan, wildlife management plan etc. to mitigate impact of diversion of forest land.
  • In most of the States, funds received from the user-agencies were deposited in consolidated fund as revenue receipts which were made available to the Forest Department through budgetary provisions.
  • The Central Government in exercise of powers conferred under Section 3 (3) of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 constituted Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA).

e-Green Watch

  • Since the primary function of CAMPA is the regeneration of vegetation cover and promoting afforestation as a way of compensating for forest land which is diverted to non-forest uses.
  • The project e-Green Watch extensively relates to online monitoring of various afforestation works being carried out using CAMPA funds. It involves design and development of a web-based, role-based workflow applications and integrated information system which shall enable automating various functions and activities related to monitoring and transparency in the use of CAMPA funds and various works sanctioned in the Annual Plan of Operations (State CAMPA) approved by the State Authorities.

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