19, July 2017

FAME India

  • As a part of the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan 2020 (NEMMP 2020), the Government of India formulated a scheme namely Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid & Electric vehicles in India [FAME-India] for a period of 6 years,  till 2020, wherein it is intended to support the hybrid /electric vehicle market development and its manufacturing eco-system to achieve self-sustenance at the end of     the stipulated period.
  • The scheme is one of the green initiatives of the Government of India, which will be one of the biggest contributors in reducing pollution from road transport sector in near future.
  • The scheme has 4 focus areas i.e. Technology Development, Demand Creation, Pilot Projects and Charging Infrastructure.

1.Farmers Welfare Schemes

Source: PIB

Government of India is according high priority for welfare of the farmers and is implementing several farmers’ welfare schemes to revitalize agriculture sector and to improve their economic conditions.

The details of the schemes are:

1.Soil Health Card Scheme:

  • Launched in 2015, the scheme has been introduced to assist State Governments to issue Soil Health Cards to all farmers in the country.
  • The Soil Health Cards provide information to farmers on nutrient status of their soil alongwith recommendation on appropriate dosage of nutrients to be applied for improving soil health and its fertility.
  1. Neem Coated Urea (NCU):
  • Scheme being promoted to regulate use of urea, enhance availability of nitrogen to the crop and reduce cost of fertilizer application.
  • NCU slows down the release of fertilizer and makes it available to the crop in an effective manner.
  • The entire quantity of domestically manufactured and imported urea is now neem coated. The reports from field are positive. The expected saving is 10% of urea consumption, thereby resulting in reduced cost of cultivation and improved soil health management.
  1. Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY):
  • Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) is being implemented with a view to promote organic farming in the country.
  • This will improve soil health and organic matter content and increase net income of the farmer so as to realise premium prices.
  • Under this scheme, an area of 5 lakh acre is targeted to be covered though 10,000 clusters of 50 acre each, from the year 2015-16 to 2017-18.
  1. Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY)
  • Launched on 1st July, 2015 with the motto of ‘Har Khet Ko Paani’, the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) is being implemented to expand cultivated area with assured irrigation, reduce wastage of water and improve water use efficiency.
  • PMKSY not only focuses on creating sources for assured irrigation, but also creating protective irrigation by harnessing rain water at micro level through ‘Jal Sanchay’ and ‘Jal Sinchan’.
  • Micro irrigation is also incentivized through subsidy to ensure ‘Per drop-More crop’. The target under micro-irrigation for the year 2016-17 was 8 lakh ha. against which 8.39 lakh ha have been covered.
  1. National Agriculture Market (e-NAM)
  • The National Agriculture Market scheme (e-NAM) envisages initiation of e-marketing platform at national level and to support creation of infrastructure to enable e-marketing in 585 regulated markets across the country by March 2018.
  • This innovative market process is revolutionizing agri markets by ensuring better price discovery, bringing in transparency and competition to enable farmers to get improved remuneration for their produce moving towards ‘One Nation One Market’.
  • A target of integrating 400 markets to e-NAM had been set for March, 2017 against which 455 markets in 13 States have been on boarded as on 30.6.2017. As on 2.7.2017, 47.95 lakh farmers and 91,500 traders have registered on e-NAM portal.
  1. Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY)/ Restructured Weather Based Crop Insurance Scheme (RWBCIS):
  • Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) & Restructured Weather Based Crop Insurance Scheme (RWBCIS) were launched from Kharif 2016 to provide comprehensive crop insurance coverage from pre-sowing to post harvest losses against non-preventable natural risks.
  • These schemes are only risk mitigation tools available to farmers at extremely low premium rates payable by farmers at 2% for Kharif crops, 1.5% for Rabi Crop and 5% for annual commercial/horticultural crops.
  • The balance of actuarial premium is shared by the Central and State Governments on 50 : 50 basis.
  • The schemes are voluntary for States and available in areas and crops that are notified by the State Governments.   Further, the schemes are compulsory for loanee farmers and voluntary for non-loanee farmers.
  1. Interest Subvention Scheme (ISS):
  • The Government provides interest subvention of 3% on short-term crop loans up to Rs.3.00 lakh. Presently, loan is available to farmers at an interest rate of 7% per annum, which gets reduced to 4% on prompt repayment.
  • Further, under Interest Subvention Scheme 2016-17, in order to provide relief to the farmers on occurrence of natural calamities, the interest subvention of 2% shall continue to be available to banks for the first year on the restructured amount.
  • In order to discourage distress sale by farmers and to encourage them to store their produce in warehouses against negotiable warehouse receipts, the benefit of interest subvention will be available to small and marginal farmers having Kisan Credit Card for a further period of upto six months post harvest on the same rate as available to crop loan.

Way ahead:

  • Agriculture is a State subject and the State Governments are primarily responsible for the growth and development of agriculture sector in their respective States.
  • The Government supplements the efforts of States through appropriate policy measures and budgetary support. Presently the approach of the Government of India has shifted from production centric to income centric platform in the agriculture sector and the above schemes are being implemented for making farming viable.

2.Ensuring Minimum Support Price (MSP) to farmers

Source: PIB

The Government ensures Minimum Support Price (MSP) through procurement operations undertaken by the Central, State and Cooperative agencies in the States.

  • State Governments have been alerted from time to time to make adequate arrangements to ensure MSP to farmers.

Significant:

Government has taken several steps to ensure MSP for all agricultural produce which inter alia includes setting up of procurement centre keeping in view the potential in the areas;

  • Creating awareness among the farmers of the MSP operations;
  • Making payment through arthias/co-operative societies to the farmers through Ac payee cheque/electronic mode as per prevailing situation in the states;
  • Encouraging decentralized procurement;
  • Adopting e-procurement system;
  • Engaging private players in certain States to participate in procurement operation etc.

MSP

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister has given its approval for the increase in the Minimum Support Prices (MSPs) for all Rabi Crops of 2016-17 Season.

Recommended by?

  • The approval to increase MSPs is based on the recommendations of Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) which while recommending MSPs takes into account the cost of production, overall demand-supply, domestic and international prices, inter-crop price parity, terms of trade between agricultural and non-agricultural sectors, the likely effect on the rest of the economy, besides ensuring rational utilization of production resources like land and water.

3.RBI has set up an Enforcement Department (EFD)

Source: PIB

Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has informed that they have set up an Enforcement Department (EFD). EFD would serve as a centralised department to speed up regulatory compliance.

EFD has been set up to separate those who oversee the possible rule breaches and those who decide on punitive actions so that enforcement process operates fairly and is evidence based.

Enforcement Directorate

Directorate of Enforcement is a specialized financial investigation agency under the Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance, Government of India, which enforces the following laws: –

  • Foreign Exchange Management Act,1999 (FEMA) – A Civil Law, with officers empowered to conduct investigations into suspected contraventions of the Foreign Exchange Laws and Regulations, adjudicate, contraventions, and impose penalties on those adjudged to have contravened the law.
  • Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA) – A Criminal Law, with the officers empowered to conduct investigations to trace assets derived out of the proceeds of crime, to provisionally attach/ confiscate the same, and to arrest and prosecute the offenders found to be involved in Money Laundering.

The Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999 (FEMA) is an Act of the Parliament of India “to consolidate and amend the law relating to foreign exchange with the objective of facilitating external trade and payments and for promoting the orderly development and maintenance of foreign exchange market in India”.

ED Investigation on Black Money

  • The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has not pitched for a nodal coordinating agency to deal with black money cases stashed illegally aboard and at home.
  • The ED is mandated with the task of enforcing Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002. Initiation of any action by the Enforcement Directorate under PMLA is subject to registration of a case of commission of a predicate offence included in the Schedule of PMLA by any other Law Enforcement Agency.
  • Overseas investigations are also required to be conducted in certain cases which is again a time consuming process. Upon investigation, the assets/property involved in money laundering is attached by the Directorate and persecution complaint is filed in designated Special Courts.
  • Further, there are other legal forums such as Adjudicating Authority under PMLA, Appellate Tribunal under PMLA, Special Courts, High Courts etc. which are involved in the scheme of PMLA 2002. However, Enforcement Directorate makes all sincere efforts to bring the PMLA cases to logical conclusion in a time bound manner.

4.From Doklam to Taiwan, China shows zero tolerance to ‘sovereignty’ threats

Source: The Hindu

China’s insistence on the withdrawal of Indian troops from the Doklam plateau as a precondition for negotiations is consistent with its position on Tibet, Taiwan or the South China Sea — areas of hyper-sensitivity, where Beijing perceives that its “territorial sovereignty” is at stake.

  • While India’s alleged incursion into Chinese territory has grabbed headlines, the Chinese Foreign Ministry over the past week has adopted a similar unbending position on Tibet, embodied in the proposed visit of the Dalai Lama to Botswana, as well as the moves by the United States to re-open naval port calls with Taiwan.

Indonesia’s renaming  South China Sea:

  • Predictably, Indonesia’s cartographic dalliance by renaming a portion of the SCS as North Natuna Sea has also drawn Beijing’s ire and China has raised the red flag on Jakarta’s decision to thus issue a new official map.
  • The map apparently intersects a part of the Nine-Dash line, which defines China’s maritime boundary in the SCS, thus rejecting Beijing’s “sovereignty” in the entire area.

Mongolia invited ire

  • Last year Mongolia’s decision to welcome the Dalai Lama in Ulan Bator resulted in Beijing’s decision to impose stringent trade restrictions on its unequal neighbour. Earlier this year, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told Mongolia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Tsend Munkh-Orgil by telephone that the Tibetan leader’s “furtive visit to Mongolia brought a negative impact to China-Mongolia relations.
  • China perceives any encouragement to the Dalai Lama by foreign powers or military or political support to Taiwan as a challenge to its “one China” policy — a clear and unambiguous no-go area. Consequently, Beijing had frowned on remarks by Pema Khandu, Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, questioning the one-China policy, during the Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh in April.

Slams US-Taiwan act

  • Unsurprisingly, China has slammed the United States, following the passage of the National Defense Authorisation Act for Fiscal Year 2018 in the US House of Congress, which asks the US Defence Secretary to look into the feasibility of re-establishing port calls between the US and Taiwanese navies.
  • As expected, Foreign Ministry spokesperson went ballistic in his response to question related to Washington’s move. “Relevant contents go against the one-China policy of the US and the principles of the three joint communiqués between China and the US and interfere in China’s domestic affairs. China has lodged stern representations with the US side,” the spokesperson asserted.
  • China firmly opposes any forms of official exchange and military contact between the US and Taiwan

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018, passed by the US House of Representatives, contains a section on Taiwan, which calls on Washington to provide the island’s military with increased military training and to encourage it to expand its defence spending. An amendment to the bill directs the Pentagon to submit a report to Congress on the feasibility of reestablishing port calls between the US and Taiwanese navies. The American navy stopped such visits to Taiwan in 1979, when Washington changed diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing.

Coming to Doklam

  • Specifically on the Doklam standoff, the Chinese Foreign Ministry signalled that it was now ready to internationalise the issue. It highlighted that, “Some foreign diplomats in China, feeling shocked and confounded, reached us for facts through diplomatic channels.”

5.E-com: RCEP nations start detailed talks

Source: The Hindu

Sixteen Asia Pacific nations, including India, are learnt to be discussing norms on e-commerce in great detail as part of negotiations on the proposed mega Free Trade Agreement (FTA) known as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) –aimed at liberalising trade and investment in the region.

The RCEP’s objective is to reduce/eliminate tariffs on most goods, liberalise investment norms and trade in services, boost economic and technical co-operation, strengthen intellectual property, besides including provisions on dispute settlement and competition and covering issues such as e-commerce.

  • The 16 nations include 10 Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN)-member countries and six countries with which ASEAN has an FTA (Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea and New Zealand).

India opposing:

  • India has been opposing binding norms on opening up the e-commerce sector at the level of RCEP as well as the global level (World Trade Organisation) talks on grounds including that it (India) is yet to have a comprehensive national policy on the topic.
  • However, it is understood that many RCEP nations including Australia, Japan and China, are pushing for inclusion of a host of elements for ‘Terms Of Reference’ (TOR) for RCEP negotiations concerning e-commerce.
  • This with a view to have some binding commitments from the RCEP members on liberalising e-commerce and ensure that the final pact will have a separate chapter on e-commerce.

Proposed Elements for TOR:

  • The proposed elements for the TOR (for negotiations) are understood to include “paperless trading, electronic signatures and digital certification, online consumer protection, online personal data protection, unsolicited commercial email, domestic regulatory frameworks, customs duties (on electronic transmissions), non-discriminatory treatment of digital products, prohibition on requirements concerning the location of computing facilities, prohibition on requirements concerning the disclosure of source code as well as cross-border transfer of information by electronic means.”



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