27, September 2016

  1. Union Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Minister Inaugrates “The Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay Krishi Unnati Mela – 2016” – (Ministry of Agriculture)

Source: PIB

  • The Agriculture Minister laid foundation stone of first Gokul Gram Project in Mathura.
  • On this occasion he said that government has prepared a plan to establish 14 Gokul Gram in the country under Gokul Mission. The first Gokul Gram is going to be established in Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay’s birth place, Mathura.
  • Gokul Gram will work as a centre for development of native breed cattle and it will work to supplement resources of cattle of farmers in breeding areas.
  • Earlier the Agriculture Minister inaugurated a waste sewage water treatment plant in Mathura.
  • This plant has developed a unique indigenous technique facility for treatment & recycle of sewage water into irrigation water by Indian Council of Agricultural Research.
  1. Six Member Countries of the South Asia Sub-regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) releases its Operational Plan 2016-2025-( Ministry of Finance)


  • The six (6) member countries of the South Asia Sub-regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) program—Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka— released this week, the SASEC Operational Plan (OP) 2016-2025.
  • The SASEC OP is the program’s first comprehensive long-term plan to promote greater economic cooperation among the member countries.


  • Established in 2001, the SASEC program is a project-based partnership to promote regional prosperity by improving cross-border connectivity, boosting trade among member countries, and strengthening regional economic cooperation.
  • The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is the secretariat and lead financier of the SASEC program.
  • To date, ADB has approved 40 SASEC projects worth almost $7.7 billion in transport, energy, trade facilitation, and information and communications technology.

The SASEC OP brings regional cooperation to a higher level. The plan in the next ten years is to extend physical linkages not only within SASEC, but also with East and Southeast Asia.

The energy strategy under the SASEC OP aims to diversify the energy mix in the SASEC countries to cope with the projected increase in demand. The immediate priority is to improve energy infrastructure that will allow countries to access commercial sources of energy and diversify their fuel mix.

The SASEC OP identifies regional road and rail links aligned closely with trade routes toward the east. Planned measures to streamline and harmonize trade procedures will cover both land-based and sea-based routes.

3.India to host 1st BRICS Young Scientists Conclave

Source: PIB

  • The Department of Science & Technology (DST), Government of India, under the BRICS framework, is hosting 1st BRICS Young Scientists Conclave.
  • It will be held in Bengaluru.
  • It would be organized and coordinated by the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), Bengaluru.

The meet would provide a platform for engaging, connecting and networking among young scientists to hold discussions and find solutions to some of the common challenges and problems being faced in BRICS countries.

The participants are drawn from science, engineering and allied disciplines. The focus of the Conclave would be on three thematic topics – Computational Intelligence, Energy Solutions and Affordable Healthcare.

Significance of this meeting:

This BRICS Young Scientists Conclave assumes importance as it is taking place during India’s chairmanship of BRICS in 2016 under a focal theme of ‘Building, Responsive, Inclusive and Collective Solutions’.


  • The BRICS Young Scientist Forum (BRICS-YSF), under which the BRICS Young Scientists Conclave is being organised, was initiated at the 2nd BRICS Science, Technology and Innovation Ministerial Meeting at Brasilia in March, 2015.
  • The respective Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Ministries of BRICS countries are the lead coordinating organisations for this Forum on co-investment and co-ownership principles.
  • The Conclave aims at building a BRICS Innovation Corps – who individually or collectively have specialized capability to work on their novel scientific ideas and technological solutions which transform and accelerate change through better quality of life and higher incomes for citizen of this region.
  • It will pave way for creation of strong generation of S&T leadership that can accelerate change collectively.

4.Shy pangolins need world spotlight to survive

Source: The Hindu

Demand for pangolin meat and body parts has driven the mammal towards extinction.

  • The  world’s most heavily trafficked mammal, and experts at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) conference over their survival.
  • Demand for pangolin meat and body parts has fuelled a bloodbath, and driven the scale-covered, ant-eating mammal towards extinction.
  • Most are used to supply demand in China and Vietnam, where they are highly regarded as a delicacy and an ingredient in traditional medicine.


At the CITES meeting in Johannesburg, conservationists will discuss moving pangolins into the highest protection category, which bans all international trade.

CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.

CITES is an international agreement to which States (countries) adhere voluntarily. States that have agreed to be bound by the Convention (‘joined’ CITES) are known as Parties. Although CITES is legally binding on the Parties – in other words they have to implement the Convention – it does not take the place of national laws. Rather it provides a framework to be respected by each Party, which has to adopt its own domestic legislation to ensure that CITES is implemented at the national level.

The CITES treaty, signed by 182 countries and the European Union, protects about 5,600 animal and 30,000 plant species from over-exploitation through commercial trade.

Strict conditions:

  • Currently CITES allows for trade in pangolins but under strict conditions.
  • There are four species of pangolin in Africa and four in Asia.
  • Watchdogs say those in Asia are being eaten to extinction, while populations in Africa are declining fast.
  • India, the Philippines, Vietnam, Nigeria, Senegal and the United States are co-sponsoring the proposal to impose a total ban on pangolin trade.

4.Western Ghats plantations home to 204 bird species

Source: The Hindu

The researchers found coffee plantation were home to more birds than areca and rubber. but all three agroforests were important for bird conservation in the ecologically-rich Western Ghats region.

Coffee, rubber and areca forests in Western Ghats are home to over 200 bird species, including 13 endemic ones.

Wildlife Conservation Society, the scientists found 204 bird species of which 170 were residents and 13 endemic to Western Ghats.

Biodiversity  rich agroforests can be incentivised to promote sustainable farming practices that enhance birds in coffee, rubber and areca agroforests.

  • Large-bodied frugivores like pigeons and hornbills are found in much higher densities in coffee plantation.- Western ghats.
  • These birds play a very important role of seed-dispersal and maintenance of forest trees in the region.

Changing agricultural practices that reduce shade tree canopy or switching from coffee and areca to monoculture crops such as rubber can seriously damage the ability of these agroforests to support birds.

5.New species of pika found in Sikkim

Source: The Hindu

A new species of a small mammal in the rabbit family has been discovered in the higher altitudes of the Himalayas in Sikkim, a study has claimed, saying it is an important part of the ecosystem.

Identified as Ochotona sikimaria’ – the new pika species was discovered by the study based on genetic data and skull measurements.

  • Pikas are among the most fascinating mammalian species
  • Unlike other mammalian species inhabiting such harsh environments, pikas do not hibernate. They prepare for winter by collecting and storing hay piles for their winter food.


The new species appears limited to Sikkim.

The National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) team searched for Sikkim pika in other Himalayan regions including Arunachal Pradesh, Central Nepal (Annapurna and Langtang), Ladakh and Spiti without success. Surveys in Bhutan, neighbouring regions of eastern Nepal and China are pending and will require international collaboration.                                    

6.PMO puts the brakes on rail tariff regulator plan

Source: The Hindu

The Prime Minister’s Office has asked the Railways to apply the brakes on its ambitious fast-track plan to set up an independent regulator for freight and passenger tariffs.

Legislative route:

The PMO has asked the Ministry to follow the legislative route to create the regulator rather than push it through an executive order.

The Ministry had proposed Rail Development Authority by issuing a notification through an executive order and subsequently strengthen its powers through the legislative process.


The  historic decision to merge the rail Budget with the general Budget, cited setting up of an independent regulator to determine tariff as per the market demand as the topmost priority for the Railways.

The legislative route may be a major setback for the Railways on this front, as it was banking on creating the independent regulator this year in order to perk up its worse-than-expected financial performance in the first half of this fiscal year.

The Railways’ estimated losses in passenger segment mounted from Rs.6,159 crore in 2004-05 to over Rs.30,000 crore in 2015-16, primarily due to sharp increase in input costs and no commensurate increase in fares over the same period.

Proposal under mandate:

  • The authority’s proposed mandate was setting passenger and freight fares, ensuring fair play for private investments in railway infrastructure and setting efficiency and performance standards.
  • Policy-making, operations and maintenance, financial management and compliance of safety standards would not fall under the purview of the regulator, as per the proposal.

Different mandate than regulator:

  • The regulators in other sectors have to deal with various industry players.
  • But the Indian Railways is a public monopoly and a regulator for this sector requires a different approach.

7. Incredible India Tourism Investors’ Summit (IITIS) 2016:


The forthcoming event is a joint initiative of the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, in association with Tourism Finance Corporation of India (TFCI) and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). IITIS is a platform for large domestic and international investors to meet project owners from across Indian states and the private sector.

Why Incredible India Tourism Investors’ Summit (IITIS) 2016?

  • Incredible India Tourism Investors’ Summit (IITIS) 2016 is a platform for the investors across the globe to explore investment opportunities available within the ambit of India’s Tourism sector as well as core infrastructure.
  • India being one of the fastest growing economies, the landscape of the Tourism sector is sought to escalate India’s rich culture and heritage.
  • The Tourism sector of India has brought about a new paradigm of growth and development in creating employment, generating income and fostering entrepreneurship.

Objectives of Incredible India Tourism Investors’ Summit (IITIS):

  • Showcasing a bouquet of investment ready projects from all the Indian states and private project owners.
  • Opportunities for global Investors to understand the investment ecosystem for garnering investments.
  • Catalyzing partnership in the form of B2B linkages.
  • Identifying opportunities for local players to move up the value chain through technical collaboration and global partnership.

Incredible India Tourism Investors’ Summit (IITIS) Highlights:

  • States’ participation with all ready investable projects.
  • More than 1000 ready projects.
  • More than 250 domestic and international investors to be present.
  • B2B meetings and B2G meetings pre-fixed online.

8.Solid demand, milestone reforms to sustain India’s growth: ADB

Source: Indian Express

India’s economy will remain on a strong growth path this fiscal and clock a growth of 7.4 per cent aided by implementation of key

  1. Structural reforms,
  2. Robust consumer demand and
  3. Higher agricultural output driven by a good monsoon, predicted an ADB study

Despite moderation in the first quarter of 2016-17, forecast for growth is retained at 7.4 per cent in 2016 on the strength of improved private consumption after recently approved hike in wage and pension and expectations of a healthy monsoon lifting rural income.


As corporates successfully deleverage and bank reform boosts lending, recovery in private investment will help drive growth to 7.8 per cent in 2017.

Legislation to create a national value-added tax should lift investor confidence as this accomplished a key step towards a much more integrated, productive economy.

India recently adopted structural reform to attract more foreign direct investment and passed legislation to allow a national tax that will create a more integrated and productive economy.


South Asia is now developing into Asia’s fastest growing sub-region, driven by solid growth in India. Forecasts in ADO 2016 are retained, with growth seen to slow slightly to 6.9 per cent in 2016 before re-accelerating to 7.3 per cent in 2017.

Developing Asia is expected to maintain its growth pace going into 2017, buoyed by an improving external environment and resilience in the region’s two largest economies. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) and India.

The report noted that India is also likely to expand its trade in information technology services and witness emergence of other commercial services exports.

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