29 , March 2018

1.Cabinet approves re-structuring of National Skill Development Fund (NSDF) and National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC)
Source :PIB

The Union Cabinet has given its approval for restructuring of National Skill Development Fund (NSDF) and National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) to strengthen governance, implementation and monitoring framework.

The restructuring will ensure better corporate governance, transparency and accountability in operations of NSDC besides strengthening the oversight role of NSDF.


NSDC and NSDF were set up by the Ministry of Finance and registered in July, 2008 and January, 2009 respectively for implementing coordinated action for skill development. NSDF trust was incorporated to act as a receptacle for financial contributions from Governmental sources, bilateral/multilateral and other agencies. Its main objective is to enhance, stimulate and develop the skills of Indian youth force by various sector specific programmes.

NSDF entered into an Investment Management Agreement (IMA) with NSDC for utilization of its corpus to meet the desired objectives of National Skill Development Mission and encourage skill development in the country. Provision of supervisory role of NSDF over NSDC’s functions is also included in the IMA between NSDC and NSDF.

2.A new Integrated Scheme for School Education
Source: PIB

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, has approved the proposal of Department of School Education and Literacy to formulate a Integrated Scheme on School Education by subsuming SarvaShikshaAbhiyan (SSA), RashtriyaMadhyamikShikshaAbhiyan (RMSA) and Teacher Education (TE) from 1st April, 2018 to 31st March, 2020. An estimated allocation of Rs 75,000 crore over the period has been approved which is a 20% increase over the current allocations.

The scheme comes in the backdrop of PM’s vision of SabkoShiksha, AchhiShiksha and aims to support the States in universalizing access to school education from classes pre-nursery to XII across the country.

The vision of the Scheme is to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education from nursery to senior secondary stage in accordance with the Sustainable Development Goal for Education. The main emphasis of the Integrated Scheme is on improving quality of school education by focussing on the two T’s – Teacher and Technology.

The objectives of the Scheme, across all levels of schooling, are:

  • Provision of quality education and enhancing learning outcomes of students;
  • Bridging Social and Gender Gaps in School Education;
  • Ensuring equity and inclusion at all levels of school education;
  • Ensuring minimum standards in schooling provisions;
  • Promoting vocationalization of education;
  • Support States in implementation of Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009; and
  • Strengthening and up-gradation of State Councils for Educational Research and Training (SCERTs)/State Institutes of Education and District Institutes for Education and Training (DIET) as nodal agencies for teacher training.


  • Holistic approach to education
  • Inclusion of senior secondary levels and pre-school levels in support for School education for the first time
  • Focus on Quality of Education-      Emphasis   on   improvement   of LearningOutcomes
  • Enhanced Capacity Building of Teachers
  • Focus on strengthening Teacher Education Institutions like SCERTs and DIETs to improve the quality of teacher training
  • Enhanced use of digital technology in education through smart classrooms, digital boards and DTK channels
  • Specific provision for Swachhta activities – support ‘SwachhVidyalaya’
  • Improve the Quality of Infrastructure in Government Schools
  • Enhanced Commitment to ‘BetiBachaoBetiPadhao’- Upgradation of KGBVs from class VI -VIII to upto class XII
  • Emphasis on ‘KaushalVikas’ in schools. Support ‘Khelo India’ – provision for sports and physical equipment
  • Preference to Educationally Backward Blocks (EBBs), LWEs, Special Focus Districts (SFDs), Border areas and the 115 aspirational districts

The Scheme gives flexibility to the States and UTs to plan and prioritize their interventions within the scheme norms and the overall resource envelope available to them.

3.Cabinet approves certain official amendments to the National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill
Source: PIB

The Amendments are :

  • Final MBBS Examination to be held as a common exam across the country and would serve as an exit test called the National Exit Test (NEXT)
  • Provision of Bridge course for AYUSH practitioners to practice modern medicine removed.It has been left to the State Governments to take necessary measures for addressing and promoting primary health care in rural areas.
  • The maximum limit of 40% seats for which fee would be regulated in private medical institutions and deemed universities has been increased to 50% seats.
  • Number of nominees from States and UTs in NMC increased from 3 to 6
  • Monetary penalty for a medical college non-compliant with the norms replaced with provision for different penalty options like warning, reasonable monetary penalty, reducing intake, stoppage of admission leading up to withdrawal of recognition.
  • Stringent punishment for unqualified medical practitioners or quacks . The punishment for any unauthorized practice of medicine has been made severe by including a provision for imprisonment of up to one year along with a fine extending up to Rs. 5 lakhs.

4.SEBI tightens rules on corporate governance
Source: The Hindu

The SEBI has tightened the corporate governance norms for listed companies by accepting most of the recommendations of the Kotak Committe

  • The SEBI has decided to reduce the maximum number of directorships to seven from 10 in a phased manner while expanding the eligibility criteria for directors
  • The regulator has also enhanced the roles of the audit committee along with those of the nomination and remuneration committee and the risk management committee at companies
  • Further, the new norms relating to the number of independent directors, appointment of at least one independent woman director and time limit for holding annual general meetings would be rolled out in a phased manner
  • Among other things, SEBI amended the enforcement framework for non-compliance of the listing regulations(given above)
  • This would allow exchanges to freeze the shareholding of the promoter and promoter group for non-compliance
  • SEBI also decided to initiate a public consultation process for a framework for listed companies that are in the midst of insolvency resolution process.

5.Centre not for SC/ST creamy layer
Source: The Hindu

The government opposed the idea of a “creamy layer” within the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes category. The government told a Supreme Court Bench led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra that the principle of creamy layer could not be applied to the presidential order on quota for SC/ST groups.

The court was hearing a petition to exclude the affluent members, or the “creamy layer”, of these communities from accessing reservation benefits.The petition filed by Samta Andolan Samiti, representing the poor and downtrodden strata of the SC/ST community in Rajasthan, contended that the rich among the SC/ST communities were “snatching away” quota benefits while the deserving and impoverished among them continue to “bite the dust.”

It is this lack of percolation of reservation benefits down to the poor and really backward among SC/ST communities that has led to social unrest, Naxalite movements and perennial poverty, the petition said.

In 1992, a nine-judge Bench of the Supreme Court in the Indra Sawhney case or the Mandal case, as it was popularly known, upheld caste-based reservation for OBCs as valid. The apex court had also directed that the creamy layer of OBCs (those earning over a specified income) should not avail reservation facilities. The Mandal judgment however confined the exclusion of the creamy layer only to the OBCs and not to the SC/STs.

The Samta Andolan Samiti petition referred to the 2006 Constitution Bench judgment of the Supreme Court in the M. Nagaraj case, which observed that the “means test (a scrutiny of the value and assets of an individual claiming reservation) should be taken into consideration to exclude the creamy layer from the protected group earmarked for reservation.”

6.Biggest space telescope launch delayed till 2020
Source: The Hindu

NASA has delayed the launch of its much awaited, $8 billion James Webb Space Telescope — set to be the world’s biggest space observatory — until at least May 2020.

The telescope is currently undergoing final integration and test phases that will require more time to ensure a successful mission, the U.S. space agency said.

  • The James Webb Space Telescope will be complementing the scientific discoveries of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and other science missions.
  • The James Webb Space Telescope (sometimes called JWST or Webb) will be a large infrared telescope with a 6.5-meter primary mirror
  • Webb will be the premier observatory of the next decade, serving thousands of astronomers worldwide
  • It will study every phase in the history of our Universe, ranging from the first luminous glows after the Big Bang, to the formation of solar systems capable of supporting life on planets like Earth, to the evolution of our own Solar System.
  • Webb was formerly known as the “Next Generation Space Telescope” (NGST); it was renamed in Sept. 2002 after a former NASA administrator, James Webb.

Innovative Technologies used in JWST:

Several innovative technologies have been developed for Webb

  • Segmented mirrors: These include a primary mirror made of 18 separate segments that unfold and adjust to shape after launch
  • Beryllium made mirrors: The mirrors are made of ultra-lightweight beryllium
  • Tennis court size sunshield: Webb’s biggest feature is a tennis court sized five-layer sunshield that attenuates heat from the Sun more than a million times
  • NIRSpec: The telescope’s four instruments – cameras and spectrometers – have detectors that are able to record extremely faint signals. One instrument (NIRSpec) has programmable microshutters, which enable observation up to 100 objects simultaneously
  • Cryocooler: Webb also has a cryocooler for cooling the mid-infrared detectors of another instrument (MIRI) to a very cold 7 K so they can work.

7.SBI to issue second tranche of electoral bonds from April 2-10
Source: PIB

  • The sale of second tranche of electoral bonds will take place from 2-10 April at SBI’s 11 designated branches.
  • Electoral bonds are being pitched as an alternative to cash donations made to political parties and bring transparency in political funding.
  • The bonds worth Rs222 crore were issued by SBI during the first tranche which ended on 10 March.
  • SBI, in the second phase of sale, has been authorised to issue and encash electoral bonds through its 11 authorised branches with effect from April 2-10, 2018.

About Electoral Bond: http://pib.nic.in/PressReleaseIframePage.aspx?PRID=1515123

Why Electoral Bonds are Necessary? http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=175452

Reference to Govt Schemes :

PradhanMantriVayaVandanaYojana (PMVVY): http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=168721


Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY): http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=176351


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