20, July 2017

Promotion of Food Processing Industries

  • Government has approved a new Central Sector Scheme-KISAN SAMPADA YOJANA (Scheme for Agro-Marine Processing and Development of Agro-Processing Clusters) with an outlay of Rs. 6,000 crore for the period 2016-20 coterminous with the 14th  Finance Commission cycle to promote food processing in the country.
  • The govt. has taken several other steps to promote food processing sector in the country.
  • A Special Fund of Rs. 2000 Crore has been setup in NABARD to make available affordable credit to designated food parks and agro-processing units in such designated food parks.
  • Food and agro-based processing units and cold chain infrastructure have been classified under agriculture activities for Priority Sector Lending (PSL) as per the revised RBI Guidelines issued on 23rd April,2015.

BharatNet project:

  • Bharat Net sought to connect all of India’s households, particularly in rural areas, through broadband by 2017, forming the backbone of the government’s ambitious Digital India programme.
  • It proposes broadband connectivity to households under village panchayats and even to government institutions at district level. The project is being funded through the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF).

Employment of Women belonging to Minority Communities

  • “Nai – Roshni” for Leadership Development of Minority Women specially for development of women belonging to notified minority communitiesnamely Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Parsis and Jains withan aim to empower and instill confidence in women by providing knowledge, tool and techniques for interacting with Government system and others at all levels.
  • Mahila Samridhi Yojana” is implemented through National Minorities Development & Finance Corporation (NMDFC) wherein skill development training is imparted to group of women in women friendly trades.
  • Ministry of MSME through Coir Board is implementing the Mahila Coir Yojana (MCY) scheme which is exclusively for rural women. Under MCY, training is given in spinning of coir yarn/various coir processing activities to rural women in regions producing coir fibre in the country, through all training centres of the Coir Board.

1.Cabinet approves MOC in respect of tax matters between India and BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa

Source: PIB

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri has given the approval for the signing of Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) in respect of tax matters between India and the Revenue administrations of BRICS countries namely, Brazil, Russian Federation, China and South Africa.

Objective:

  • The MoC aims to further promote cooperation amongst the BRICS Revenue administrations in international forum on common areas of interest in tax matters and in the area of capacity building and knowledge sharing.
  • It envisages regular interaction amongst the heads of Revenue administration of BRICS countries to continue discussion on common areas of interest and strive towards convergence of views and meeting of the Experts on tax matters to discuss the contemporary issues in areas of international tax.
  • In addition, the MoC accords confidentiality and protection to information exchanged under this MoC.

Impact:

  • The MoC will stimulate effective cooperation in tax matters.
  • The collective stand of BRICS countries can prove to be beneficial not only to these countries but also to other developing countries in the long run in tax matters being steered by the G20.

Background:

  • The Heads of Revenue of the BRICS countries have been meeting regularly to discuss the potential areas of cooperation in tax matters and to exchange opinions and views based on the existing commitment to openness, solidarity, equality, mutual understanding, inclusiveness and mutually beneficial cooperation, as stated in the Goa Declaration issued on October 16, 2016.
  • The BRICS countries have identified four areas of mutual interest on which understanding and cooperation can be further strengthened.
  • The heads of Revenue of BRICS countries in their meeting held on the sidelines of FTA plenary at Beijing, China in May, 2016 decided to sign a MoC outlining these areas of cooperation.

Headquarters-  Shanghai, China

2.Indian Nuclear Power Programme- (Department of Atomic Energy)

Source: PIB

Substantial work has been carried out in the areas of research on technologies for utilization of thorium in nuclear fuel cycle, and on the development of an Advanced Heavy Water Reactor (AHWR), for use of thorium based fuel on a large scale.

Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC)

  • Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), a constituent Unit of the Department of Atomic Energy has developed a design for Advanced Heavy Water Reactor (AHWR), a Technology Demonstrator Reactor of 300 MW, for utilisation of Thorium.
  • The reactor is designed and developed to achieve large-scale use of thorium for the generation of commercial nuclear power which is a part of India’s three stage nuclear power programme.
  • Thus, AHWR is not only a stepping stone to the third stage but also expected to provide a platform for developing and testing technologies required for the third stage.
  • AHWR is designed with the motto of highest level of safety and security.
  • The Government, in December, 2016, has accorded in-principle approval for the Tarapur Maharashtra Site (TMS) for locating the 300 MW Advanced Heavy Water Reactor.

KKNPP:

  • During the last five years, KKNPP 3&4 (2X1000 MW) and KKNPP 5&6 (2 x 1000 MW) projects at Kudankulam, Tamil Nadu being set up in technical cooperation with Russian Federation have been accorded financial sanction and administrative approval by the Government. The construction of KKNPP 3&4 has commenced and the General Framework Agreement for KKNPP 5&6 has been concluded.
  • The approved completion cost of the KKNPP 3&4 (2X1000 MW) project is Rs. 39,849 crore and that of KKNPP 5&6 (2 x 1000 MW) is Rs. 49,621 crore. The project proposals of the other projects to be set up with Russian & US technical cooperation are at various stages of discussion.
  • The allocations will be made project-wise on approval of the projects. These projects are expected to start power generation beyond 2020.

Construction of New PHWR

  • The Government has accorded administrative approval and financial sanction for construction of 10 indigenous 700 MW Pressurized Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs) in fleet mode.
  • The reactors are planned at Kaiga, Karnataka (Kaiga-5&6), Gorakhpur, Haryana (GHAVP-3&4), Chutka, Madhya Pradesh (Chutka-1&2) and Mahi Banswara, Rajasthan (Units-1 to 4). The ten reactors are scheduled to be progressively completed by the year 2031.

Pressurized Heavy Water Reactor (PHWR)

  • A pressurized heavy water reactor (PHWR) is a nuclear power reactor, commonly using unenriched natural uranium as its fuel, that uses heavy water (deuterium oxide D2O) as its coolant and moderator.
  • The heavy water coolant is kept under pressure, allowing it to be heated to higher temperatures without boiling, much as in a typical pressurized water reactor.
  • While heavy water is significantly more expensive than ordinary light water, it yields greatly enhanced neutron economy, allowing the reactor to operate without fuel enrichment facilities (mitigating the additional capital cost of the heavy water) and generally enhancing the ability of the reactor to efficiently make use of alternate fuel cycles.

Role of Nuclear Power Programme:

  • The role of nuclear power in the near term is to supplement generation from fossil fuel sources and in the long term, provide the country energy security.
  • All energy sources including coal and nuclear will be deployed optimally to meet the country’s growing electricity demand.

3.Launch of GSAT-17

Source: PIB

  • GSAT-17 communication satellite, with a lift-off mass of 3477 Kg, carrying communication, Data Relay Transponder (DRT), Search & Rescue Payload was successfully launched on June 29, 2017 using Ariane-5 launch vehicle from Kourou launch base of Arianespace.
  • GSAT-17 is presently undergoing in-orbit tests. Subsequently, it will be inducted into the INSAT/GSAT system for providing various communication services to the country in C, Extended-C and S-band.
  • GSAT-17 carries a Data Relay Transponder for receiving meteorological, hydrological and oceanographic data from Automatic Weather Stations, Automatic Rain Gauges and Agro Met Stations and relaying back for down linking in extended C-Band.
  • It also carries a Search & Rescue Payload, which picks up and relays the alert signals originating from the distress beacons of maritime, aviation and land based users to help in rescue services.

4.Review Session to Promote Connectivity through Digital Trade-WTO

Source: PIB

The sixth Aid for Trade Global Review was held at the WTO on 11-13 July 2017

Background:

The Aid for Trade initiative was launched in 2005 with the aim of addressing the supply side and trade-related infrastructure constraints that often hamper developing countries’ participation in global trade.

  • Aid for Trade helps developing countries, and particularly least developed countries, trade. Many developing countries face a range of supply-side and trade-related infrastructure obstacles which constrains their ability to engage in international trade.
  • The WTO-led Aid for Trade initiative encourages developing country governments and donors to recognize the role that trade can play in development.
  • In particular, the initiative seeks to mobilize resources to address the trade-related constraints identified by developing and least-developed countries.

The 2017 Global Review

  • The 2017 Global Review is dedicated to the theme of “Promoting Trade, Inclusiveness and Connectivity for Sustainable Development”, and provided an opportunity for stakeholders to look at how Aid for Trade can contribute to the integration of developing countries and least developed countries into the multilateral trading system and the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
  • The Aid for Trade Global Review 2015 highlighted how high trade costs slow growth and development by pricing many suppliers in developing and least developed countries out of global markets.
  • The 2017 Global Review develops this theme further by extending analysis of trade costs into the area of digital connectivity. The Review discussed the economic consequences of the digital divide and strategies to help policymakers, firms, women and SMEs to bridge this divide.

Key facts:

  • Many countries including India have emphasized that the definitions of digital trade and e-commerce require further deliberation at various bodies of the WTO to bring clarity on the scope of the subject.
  • FDI policy in different sectors including on e-commerce sector is formulated after extensive consultations with stakeholders including concerned Ministries/Departments, apex industry chambers and other organisation.
  • India has been working with WTO members especially the developing countries to ensure that its interests in the WTO negotiations are protected.
  • Implementation of Bali and Nairobi Ministerial Decisions, especially on public stockholding for food security purposes is a priority for India in the negotiations and India is working for a permanent solution in this area.

4.Promotion of Hindi in Foreign Countries

Source: PIB

  • Promotion of Hindi in foreign countries is a matter of high priority for the Government. To coordinate work related to promotion of Hindi in foreign countries, a separate Division was set up in the Ministry two years ago. Several initiatives have been taken since then, by the Ministry of External Affairs, to promote Hindi abroad.
  • A Joint Declaration of Intent has been signed with Germany to teach Indian languages under which Hindi will be taught in schools in Germany.
  • Ministry of External Affairs also provides books, teaching material and other assistance to orgnisations involved in promotion of Hindi in foreign countries. In addition, World Hindi Day is celebrated every year on 10th January by Ministry of External Affairs and Missions/Posts abroad to promote Hindi.

Chairs

  • Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) has established 26 Hindi Chairs in various foreign universities/institutions abroad.
  • The Council has deputed 6 Hindi teachers in Indian Cultural Centres (ICCs) abroad, and the process to depute Hindi teachers to other centres is also on.

5.Radiation Processing Technology

Source: PIB

The Ministry of Food Processing Industries is implementing a scheme for Integrated Cold Chain and Value Addition Infrastructure with the objective of preventing post-harvest losses of horticultural & non-horticultural produce.

Key facts:

  • One of the components of the Cold Chain scheme is the setting up of Irradiation facilities for preservation of the food products including onion, potato etc.,
  • Irradiated food is regulated in the country in accordance with the Atomic Energy (Radiation Processing of Food & Allied Products) Rules 2012 and Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Regulations, 2011.
  • Food can be irradiated only in a food irradiation plant, which is authorized by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board and licensed by the competent Government Authority.
  • The license to carry out food irradiation operation is given only after ascertaining the safety and security of the installation, its suitability to ensure proper process control, and availability of licensed operators and qualified staff.

Board of Radiation & Isotope Technology:

BRIT was constituted in March 1989 as an independent unit of Department of Atomic Energy from a part of the erstwhile Isotope group of BARC.

  • Board of Radiation & Isotope Technology (BRIT) is providing consultancy services for establishment of food irradiation plant.

Food Irradiation: What You Need to Know

  • Irradiation does not make foods radioactive, compromise nutritional quality, or noticeably change the taste, texture, or appearance of food.
  • Food irradiation (the application of ionizing radiation to food) is a technology that improves the safety and extends the shelf life of foods by reducing or eliminating microorganisms and insects.
  • Like pasteurizing milk and canning fruits and vegetables, irradiation can make food safer for the consumer.
  • Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is also regulating the food safety aspects of irradiated food products under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2016 and its Regulations there under.

What is radiation processing of food ?

  • Radiation processing of food involves the controlled application of energy from ionizing radiations such as gamma rays, electrons and X-rays for food preservation.
  • Gamma rays and X-rays are short wavelength radiations of the electromagnetic spectrum which includes radiowaves, microwaves, infrared, visible and ultra violet light.
  • Gamma rays are emitted by radioisotopes such as Cobalt-60 and Caesium-137 while electrons and X-rays are generated by machines using electricity.

More details: http://barc.gov.in/bsg/ftd/faq2.html

Ram Nath Kovind is 14th President of India

6.Plastic realities

Source: The Hindu

The use of plastics has used substantially since 1960s. Though, various regulations are in place to curb the overuse of plastics, hardly anything has changed on the ground.

Threats posed by the overuse of plastics

  • These bags pollute the environment, especially soil and water, as they take about 200 years to decompose naturally.
  • The use of plastic has become so ubiquitous that even birds, animals and fish have unwittingly made it part of their diet. Disposed plastic degrades slowly, its chemicals getting leached into surroundings. Further, it breaks down into smaller components over time, entering our food chain and landing up on our plates.
  • Microbeads have emerged as a new form of threats. First patented in 1972 for use in cleansers, microbeads began to replace natural material like ground almonds, oatmeal and sea salt in the area of cosmetics. Many cosmetics and toiletry products — ranging from facewashes to toothpastes — use it today. Their abrasive nature lends itself to use in industries such as petroleum, textiles, printing and automobile. BIS has classified them as unsafe for consumer products.

Way ahead:

  • People’s participation: This multifaceted problem cannot be dealt with by the government alone. While the government should take measures to strengthen the recycling economy and recycle the most plastic bags in use, people have to learn to sort the garbage they produce every day so that waste management facilities and businesses can easily separate the recyclable waste to turn them into resources again.
  • The problem of plastic bags is not only related to social governance, but also to our idea about modern society. As such, the government must take multiple measures to make the ban on plastic bags truly effective, and reverse the current polluting trend, which will not only help protect the environment but also restore the credibility of the legal system.

7.Cabinet nod for IWAI bond issue

Source: The Hindu

The Union Cabinet has given its nod to Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) for raising ₹660 crore in bonds for extra budgetary resources in 2017-18.

  • The proceeds from the bonds will be utilised by IWAI for development and maintenance of National Waterways (NWs) under National Waterways Act, 2016.
  • Funds received through issue of bonds will be used exclusively for capital expenditure to improve infrastructure funding.

IWAI:

  • Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) is the statutory authority in charge of the waterways in India. Its headquarters is located in Noida, UP.
  • It does the function of building the necessary infrastructure in these waterways, surveying the economic feasibility of new projects and also administration.

Background

The National Waterways Act, 2016 merges 5 existing Acts which have declared the 5 National Waterways and proposes 106 additional National Waterways. The Act came into force in April 2016.



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