24 , August 2017

1.MoU between India and Nepal
Source: PIB

The Union Cabinet signed (MoU) between India and Nepal on Drug Demand Reduction and Prevention of Illicit Trafficking in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances and precursor chemicals and related matters.

The MoU provides that the Parties shall endeavour to: –

  • develop mutual cooperation with a view to effectively resolving the issue of illicit traffic in narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and their precursors, cooperate in drug demand reduction through prevention, awareness, education and community based programmes, treatment and rehabilitation; and
  • Exchange information of operational, technical and general nature in drug matters, exchange literature on their existing laws, rules, procedures, best practices and methods of curbing illicit trafficking in narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and their precursors and any further amendments to the existing legislation.

In accordance with the spirit of UN Conventions on Narcotic Drugs, effort is made to enter into Bilateral Agreements/MoUs with neighbouring countries and the countries which have a direct bearing on the drug situation prevailing in our country.


2.A new Bridge over Mechi River at Indo-Nepal border
Source: PIB

The construction of the bridge is estimated to be Rs. 158.65 crore, which would be funded by Government of India through ADB loan. The new bridge is part of up-gradation of the Kakarvitta (Nepal) to Panitanki Bypass (India) on NH 327B covering a length of 1500 meters including a 6 lane approach road of 825 meters. Mechi Bridge is the ending point of Asian Highway 02 in India leading to Nepal and provides critical connectivity to Nepal.

The construction of the bridge will improve regional connectivity and has potential to strengthen cross border trade between both the countries and cementing ties by strengthening industrial, social and cultural exchanges.


3.SAMPADA Scheme  renamed as “Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana”
Source: PIB

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, has approved the renaming of the new Central Sector Scheme – SAMPADA (Scheme for Agro-Marine Processing and Development of Agro-Processing Clusters) as “Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana (PMKSY) “ for the period of 2016-20 coterminous with the 14th Finance Commission cycle.

The objective of PMKSY is to supplement agriculture, modernize processing and decrease Agri-Waste.


  • The implementation of PMKSY will result in creation of modern infrastructure with efficient supply chain management from farm gate to retail outlet.
  • It will provide a big boost to the growth of food processing sector in the country.
  • It will 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.

PMKSY 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.


4.Cabinet approves setting up of a Commission to examine the Sub-Categorization within OBCs
Source: PIB, The Hindu

The Cabinet approved for setting up of a Commission under article 340 of the Constitution to examine the issue of sub-categorization of the Other Backward Classes (OBCs).

The Commission shall submit its report within 12 weeks from the date of appointment of the Chairperson of the Commission.

The proposed terms of references of the Commission are as follows:

  • To examine the extent of inequitable distribution of benefits of reservation among the castes/ communities included in the broad category of OBCs, with reference to the OBCs included in the Central list.
  • To work out the mechanism, criteria, norms and parameters, in a scientific approach, for sub-categorization within such OBCs, and,
  • To take up the exercise of identifying the respective castes/communities/ sub-castes/ synonyms in the Central List of OBCs and classifying them into their respective sub-categories.

The Supreme Court (Indra Sawhney and others vs. Union of India) observed that there is no Constitutional or legal bar to a State categorizing backward classes as backward or more backward and had further observed that if a State chooses to do it (sub-categorization), it is not impermissible in law.

Nine States of the country viz., Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Puducherry, Karnataka, Haryana, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Bihar, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu have already carried out sub-categorization of Other Backward Classes.

(Note: this commission is being appointed according to the same Article 340 under which the Mandal commission was appointed)

5.Cabinet gives in-principle approval for Public Sector Banks to amalgamate through an Alternative Mechanism (AM)
Source: PIB, The Hindu

The Union Cabinet has given in-principle approval for Public Sector Banks to amalgamate through an Alternative Mechanism (AM).  The decision would facilitate consolidation among the Nationalised Banks to create strong and competitive banks.

Why consolidation is needed now?

  • Consolidation will improve capacity of the banking system to absorb shocks
  • Most of the banks are facing with huge levels of NPAs, slow credit offtake and resultant pressures on capital adequacy.
  • Mergers are expected to reduce the pressure on the government of providing capital to the banks.
  • The decision is expected to facilitate the creation of strong and competitive banks in public sector to meet the credit needs of a growing economy, absorb shocks and have the capacity to raise resources without depending unduly on the state exchequer
  • In 2015, Centre launched the Indradhanush programme, to infuse Rs 70,000 crore into public banks.
  • Idea of consolidation was first suggested in 1991 but gathered pace in 2016. “In 1991, it was suggested that India should have fewer but stronger public sector banks.

Alternative Mechanism (AM)

  • As per the framework, mergers decisions should originate from the banks and these should be based on commercial decisions.
  • The Alternative Mechanism will comprise of senior ministers of the government.
  • The proposals received from banks for in-principle approval to formulate schemes of amalgamation shall be placed before the Alternative Mechanism.
  • After in-principle nod, the banks will take steps in accordance with law and Sebi’s requirements


6.National Sports Museum to be established in New Delhi
Source: PIB

  • The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports is going to establish National Sports Museum, first of its kind, at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, New Delhi.
  • The Museum will showcase the India’s achievements in sports and also focus on the traditional sports within the country.
  • The aim of the Museum is to popularise the sports as a way of life within the country. Accordingly, the proposed Museum would go beyond the classical approach of a collection of memorabilia to become an interactive venue of interest for all age groups.
  • In addition, it will display achievements of the Indian greats in sports and also act as an educational hub and offer opportunity for the young to delve into some sporting activity.


7.SC: liquor sale ban does not extend to municipal areas
Source: The Hindu

The Supreme Court has clarified that its nationwide ban on sale of liquor within a distance of 500 metres along National and State Highways does not extend to municipal areas.

The court explained that the December 15, 2016 ban on liquor sale only extends along and in proximity to highways which provide connectivity between cities, towns and villages. The order does not prohibit licensed establishments within municipal areas. This clarification shall govern other municipal areas as well.


8.Moss serves as a cheap pollution monitor
Source: The Hindu

Delicate mosses found on rocks and trees in cities around the world can be used to measure the impact of atmospheric change and could prove a low-cost way to monitor urban pollution, according to Japanese scientists.

The “bioindicator” responds to pollution or drought-stress by changing shape, density or disappearing, allowing scientists to calculate atmospheric alterations.


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