30, March 2017

1.Establishment of Manufacturing Hubs in CLMV Countries – (Ministry of Commerce & Industry)

Source: PIB

The Government has created a Project Development Fund (PDF) for Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam (CLMV) countries to facilitate Indian Investment & broaden manufacturing base of Indian companies in the region.

The PDF shall be housed in Department of Commerce and operated through the EXIM Bank. The PDF shall be governed by an Inter-Ministerial Committee under the chairpersonship of the Commerce Secretary.

Some of the major steps taken by the Department of Commerce to promote exports are:

  • The New Foreign Trade Policy (2015-20) announced on 1st April, 2015 with a focus on supporting both manufacturing and services exports.
  • FTP 2015-20 provides for new measures for increasing exports of goods & services including new schemes like Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS) and Services Exports from India Scheme (SEIS).
  • Launching of a new scheme “Trade Infrastructure for Export Scheme(TIES)” with the objective to enhance export competitiveness by bridging gaps in export infrastructure, creating focused export infrastructure, first mile and last mile connectivity for export oriented projects and addressing quality and certification measures.
  • Implementation of the NiryatBandhu Scheme with an objective to reach out to the new and potential exporters including exporters from Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and mentor them through orientation programmes, counseling sessions, individual facilitation etc. on various aspects of foreign trade. (Indian Institute of Foreign Trade).
  • Single Window Interface for Facilitating Trade (SWIFT) clearances project launched on 1st April, 2016 as part of “Ease Doing Business” initiatives.
  • Launching of Interest Equalization Scheme on pre & post shipment credit to provide cheaper credit to exporters.
  • Facility of access to duty free raw materials and capital goods for exports through schemes like Advance Authorization , Duty Free Import Authorization (DFIA), Export Promotion Capital Goods (EPCG) and drawback/refund of duties.
  • Financial support to Trade Organizations for Exhibitions/fairs/buyer-seller meet/ B2B meetings, market research etc.

Background

The Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and Viet Nam (CLMV) Project is working with CLMV governments on a series of policy-oriented research activities and capacity building programs aimed at helping these countries narrow their development gap with other ASEAN members.

The program will:

  • Improve understanding of the role of supply chains in national policy frameworks;
  • Provide participants with practical examples of supply chain development and implementation in developing country context;
  • Enable CLMV countries to examine their approach to supply chain development and implementation in a sub-regional context; and
  • Create a network of CLMV supply chain officials and experts.

Partners

  • Mekong Institute
  • Asian Development Bank(Southeast Asia Regional Department)

2.Proposals on Free Trade

Source: PIB

The government has received proposals from Georgia and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) for negotiating Free Trade Agreements (FTAs). The Joint Feasibility Study with Georgia will be conducted to study the feasibility of the proposed FTAs. The Joint Feasibility Study Group Report between the Eurasian Economic Union and its Member States and the Republic of India has been accepted and 1st meeting of Trade Negotiation Committee will held after mutual consent.

Further, the government is negotiating the following trade agreements with other country/block of countries with specific Chapters on Investment:-

  1. India – EU Broad based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA)
  2. India – Sri Lanka Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreements (ETCA)
  3. India – Thailand Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA)
  4. India – Mauritius Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Partnership Agreement (CECPA)
  5. India-EFTA Trade and Economic Partnership Agreement (TEPA)
  6. India – New Zealand Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA)
  7. India – Australia Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA)
  8. BIMSTEC Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA)
  9. India – Canada Free Trade Agreement (FTA)
  10. Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement

The agreements are likely to provide opportunities for generating economic growth and employment as well as increase mutual investment flows.

3.G-20 Framework Working Group (FWG)

Source: PIB

G-20 Framework Working Group (FWG) in its 3rd Meeting at Varanasi discusses the Current State of the Global Economy as well as G-20 agenda on Inclusive Growth and Reports on Strong, Sustainable and Balanced Growth & G-20 Enhanced Structural Reform Agenda among others.

The Ministry of Finance, Government of India along with Reserve Bank of India (RBI) hosted the two day 3rd Meeting of the G-20 Framework Working Group (FWG) in Varanasi.

Key facts:

The G-20 FWG is one of the core Working Group of G-20 and deliberates on matters related to global economy and on the policy co-ordination that is required between the major economies of the world to face global economic challenges. India co-chairs this group with Canada.

The three core areas of the discussion in the meeting which were

  1. The IMF work on G-20 mandate on strong, sustainable and balanced growth;
  2. The OECD work on G-20 structural reform agenda; and
  3. G-20 agenda on inclusive growth. Germany is presently holding the Presidency of G-20 this year.

Sessions:

  1. The Opening Remark was followed by on “Global Economic Conjuncture and Outlook” wherein countries discussed on the current state of the global economy.
  2. Focus on the update from IMF on the Report on Strong, Sustainable and Balanced Growth which is currently under preparation.
  3. Dealt with the draft OECD Report on G-20 Enhanced Structural Reform Agenda.
  4. Devoted to inclusive growth agenda given the tremendous policy focus of both advanced economies and emerging market economies on this agenda.
  5. Focus on the updates from international organizations (that is, IMF, OECD, ILO and World Bank) on their analysis of the impact of inequality on economic growth and formulation of a G-20 framework on inclusive growth.

It looked at the possibility of formulating an effective indicator for inclusive growth and the challenges associate therewith. The last session of the meeting was focused on discussing the templates and timelines for 2017 Growth Strategy submissions by G-20 countries.

4.Fame India Scheme- Under the Department of Heavy Industry

Source: PIB

FAME India Scheme by the Government with effect from 1st April, 2015

  • The Government has not allocated 14,000 crores for the FAME India Scheme for promoting hybrid and electric mobility vehicles;
  • Under Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid and) Electric Vehicles (FAME-India) Scheme of the Government, demand incentives are being extended to all vehicle segments i.e. 2 – Wheelers, 3-Wheeler Auto, Passenger 4-Wheeler Vehicles, Light Commercial Vehicles and Buses.

Way forward

  • In India, electric buses in future will have a big leap in mass public transport.
  • It would support the government initiative of reducing fuel import bill.
  • Besides, it will help to curb air pollution as these buses have zero tailpipe emissions and lower noise pollution.

What is National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP) 2020?

  • The NEMMP 2020 is one of most ambitious initiatives undertaken by Central Government to promote hybrid and electric vehicles in the country to achieve national fuel security.
  • It has set an ambitious target to achieve 6-7 million sales of hybrid and electric vehicles year on year from 2020 onwards.
  • The FAME India Scheme was launched under this mission to provide fiscal and monetary incentives to electric and hybrid vehicles ranging from two wheelers to buses.

5.India becomes Net Exporter of Electricity for the first Time

Source: PIB

1st time India has turned around from a net importer of electricity to Net Exporter of electricity

  • As per Central Electricity Authority, the Designated Authority of Government of India for Cross Border Trade of Electricity, 1st time India has turned around from a net importer of electricity to Net Exporter of electricity.
  • During the current year 2016-17 (April to February 2017), India has exported around 5,798 Million Units to Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar which is 213 Million units more than the import of around 5,585 Million units from Bhutan. Export to Nepal and Bangladesh increased 2.5 and 2.8 times respectively in last three years.

Import of power:

Ever since the cross border trade of electricity started in mid-Eighties, India has been importing power from Bhutan and marginally exporting to Nepal in radial mode at 33 kV and 132 kV from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. On an average Bhutan has been supplying around 5,000- 5500 Million units to India.

Export of power:

  • India has been exporting around 190 MW power to Nepal over 12 cross border interconnections at 11kV, 33kV and 132 kV level. The export of power to Nepal further increased by around 145 MW with commissioning of Muzaffarpur (India)– Dhalkhebar(Nepal) 400kV line (being operated at 132 kV) in 2016.
  • Export of power to Bangladesh from India got further boost with commissioning of 1st cross border Interconnection between Baharampur in India and Bheramara in Bangladesh at 400kV in September 2013. It was further augmented by commissioning of 2nd cross border Interconnection between Surjyamaninagar (Tripura) in India and South Comilla in Bangladesh. At present around 600 MW power is being exported to Bangladesh.
  • Export of power to Nepal is expected to increase by around 145 MW shortly over 132 kV Katiya (Bihar)– Kusaha (Nepal) and 132 kV Raxaul (Bihar)– Parwanipur (Nepal).

 

Central Electricity Authority:

  • The Central Electricity Authority of India (CEA) is a statutory organisation constituted under section 3(1) of Electricity Supply Act 1948, which has been superseded by section 70(1) of the Electricity Act 2003.
  • The CEA advises the government on matters relating to the National Electricity Policy and formulates short-term and perspective plans for the development of electricity systems.
    • Under the Electricity Act 2003, CEA prescribes the standards on matters such as construction of electrical plants, electric lines and connectivity to the grid, installation and operation of meters and safety and grid standards.
    • The CEA is also responsible for concurrence of hydro power development schemes of central, state and private sectors taking into consideration the factors which will result in efficient development of the river and its tributaries for power generation, consistent with the requirement of drinking water, irrigation, navigation and flood control.

6.National Child Labour Project-( Ministry of Labour & Employment)

Source: PIB

The National Child Labour Policy was approved by the Cabinet on 14th August 1987 during the Seventh Five Year Plan Period.

The policy was formulated with the basic objective of suitably rehabilitating the children withdrawn from employment thereby reducing the incidence of child labour in areas of known concentration of child labour.

The policy consists of three main ingredients:-

  1. Legal Action Plan – With emphasis laid on strict and effective enforcement of legal provisions relating to child labour under various labour laws;
  2. Focusing of general development programmes – Utilization of various ongoing development programmes of other Ministries/Departments for the benefit of child labour wherever possible;
  3. Project-based plan of action– Launching of projects for the welfare of working’ children in areas of high concentration of child labour.

Key facts:

  • Government has reviewed the National Child Labour Project (NCLP) Scheme to make it more effective and the revised NCLP Guidelines issued in this regard have come into force.
  • Under the revised Guidelines the Special Training Centres (STCs) for rehabilitation of child labour have been aligned in line with RTE Act;
  • The target group has been expanded to all working children below the age of 14 years and to adolescents (14-18 years) working in hazardous occupations and processes;
  • The procedure for setting up of Project Societies and opening of STCs has been simplified;
  • Payment of stipend to the children is made on modular basis for a minimum of three months through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT);
  • The budget of Project Societies/STCs and rate of honorarium for volunteers/staff has been enhanced; procedure for conducting survey has been simplified;
  • Monitoring mechanism has been strengthened at National, State and District level etc. At present the scheme is sanctioned in 280 Districts of 21 States in the country.

The activities to be taken up under the project in the 10th Plan are:

  1. Stepping up of enforcement of child labour laws
  2. Formal Non- formal education
  3. Provision of Vocational Training
  4. Income and employment generation activities
  5. Direct rehabilitation of child labour
  6. Raising of public awareness
  7. Survey and evaluation.

STRATEGY TO BE ADOPTED DURING THE TENTH PLAN FOR ELIMINATION OF CHILD LABOUR

  • Linking the child labour elimination efforts with the scheme of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan of the MHRD an attempt to ensure that small children in the age group of 5-8 years get directly linked to school and the older children are mainstreamed to the formal education system through the rehabilitation centres. Increased efforts to provide vocational training to the older children
  • Strengthening of the formal school mechanism in the endemic child labour areas in the country both in terms of quality and numbers in such a manner as to provide an attractive schooling system to the child labour force and its parents so that motivational levels of both the parents and such children are high and sending these children to school becomes an attractive proposition.
  • Effective provision for health care for all children would be made.
  • Implementation of the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act would be made much more effective.
  • The monitoring system would be further systematized with the close involvement of the State
  • Government to ensure that the project is able to attain its objectives within the given period.

7.U.N. picks former U.S. state governor to run World Food Programme

Source: The Hindu

United Nations chief Antonio Guterres has appointed former South Carolina Governor David Beasley to run the Rome-based World Food Programme (WFP). He will replace Etharin Cousin.

World Food Programme- UNDP

  • The World Food Programme (WFP) is the food assistance branch of the United Nations and the world’s largest humanitarian organization addressing hunger and promoting food security.
  • The WFP strives to eradicate hunger and malnutrition, with the ultimate goal in mind of eliminating the need for food aid itself. 
  • It is a member of the United Nations Development Group and part of its Executive Committee.
  • Born in 1961, WFP pursues a vision of the world in which every man, woman and child has access at all times to the food needed for an active and healthy life.
  • The WFP is governed by an Executive Board which consists of representatives from member states.
  • The WFP operations are funded by voluntary donations from world governments, corporations and private donors.
  • WFP food aid is also directed to fight micronutrient deficiencies, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, and combat disease, including HIV and AIDS.
  • In 2015 the global community adopted the 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development to improve people’s lives by 2030. Goal 2 – Zero Hunger – pledges to end hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture, and is the priority of the World Food Programme.
  • WFP’s efforts focus on emergency assistance, relief and rehabilitation, development aid and special operations. Two-thirds of our work is in conflict-affected countries where people are three times more likely to be undernourished than those living in countries without conflict.

8.New accident recording format

Source: The Hindu

A new Road Accident Data Recording and Reporting Format has been rolled out by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) with a view to moving closer towards an accurate, consistent, and objective road accident database.

The comprehensive recording and reporting format, to be executed by all States and Union Territories, is aimed at bringing out the underlying real cause of the road accident so that stakeholders can take corrective and preventive steps.

The new format:

  • The recording format, to be filled in by the police at the site of the accident, has five sections specifically to record primary data on road accidents (and not to replace the FIR), capturing the actual circumstances of the accident.
  • The five sections are: accident identification details, road-related details, vehicles involved in accident, driver’s details, and persons other than drivers involved in accident.
  • As many as 55 indices, including weather condition, GPS location, surface condition of road, road type, speed limit, visibility at the time of accident, physical divider, ongoing road works, and use of safety device, have been incorporated in the new recording form.
  • The new format will help in finding out real cause, help thorough investigation and implement road safety measures in accident sites.

Chief secretaries and State Police Chiefs have been asked to take steps to furnish the road accident details in the new format from this calendar year.

9.How BS-IV engines cut emissions drastically

Source: The Hindu

Passenger vehicles compliant with Bharat Stage-III emission norms vary widely from their Bharat Stage-IV compliant engines, depending on the size of the car and whether they are petrol or diesel versions. On the outside, the differences are indistinguishable.

  • However, they differ in the electronics, sensor system, the engine’s ability to process low-sulphur fuel and their “after-exhaust” system that determines emissions.
  • Most passenger cars today were designed to comply with BS-IV emission standards. However, many heavy commercial vehicles, if they had BS-III built engines, employed a mechanical fuel pump and used fuel less efficiently. This in turn influenced subsequent emissions of nitrous oxide, carbon monoxide and particulate matter.

Sulphur content

  • BS-IV engines also require that the sulphur content of the fuel they use be less than 50 part per million (ppm) whereas BS-III ones can run on 350 ppm fuel.
  • The Centre for Science and Environment that the transition can lead to substantial reductions in particulate matter emissions. For instance, from new trucks, the emissions can dip by 80% and from cars by half.

30-03

10.Brace for heatwaves

Source: The Hindu

Even as the country braces for a scorching summer and temperatures in several States going up over the past week, the India Meteorological Department, along with the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), is exhorting the States to implement Heat Wave Action Plans.

  • These describe step-by-step procedures the States ought to implement — from communication and ensuring first aid to imposing early summer vacations in schools and ensuring that labourers employed in MGNREGA schemes aren’t assigned work during certain times of the day — in case of heatwave like conditions.

IMD and NDMA:

  • IMD has tied up with state disaster management commissioners and health secretaries to formulate plans in the face of large casualties from heatwave conditions.
  • The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), on its part, has prepared a standard operating procedure template and a sequence of actions to be triggered during a severe heatwave.

Issues:

  • Temperatures across India have been rising on an average of 0.7 degrees every decade, according to IMD, with 2016 the hottest so far.
  • Heatwave guidelines will facilitate the stakeholders in preparing a heatwave management and action plan by providing insight into the heat-related illnesses and the necessary mitigative and response actions to be taken.
  • It will help in mobilizing and coordinating various departments, individuals and communities to protect themselves against avoidable health problems during spells of very hot weather.

Heatwaves:

  • While there are nuances and region-specific differences, the IMD broadly defines a heat wave as when a place’s temperature is 5-6 degrees above normal.
  • They are usually defined as conditions triggered by the temperature rising to more than 45 degrees Celsius. When temperatures soar above 47 degrees Celsius, it is known as a severe heatwave.
  • A Heat Wave is a period of abnormally high temperatures, more than the normal maximum temperature that occurs during the summer season in the North-Western parts of India.
  • Heat Waves typically occur between March and June, and in some rare cases even extend till July. The extreme temperatures and resultant atmospheric conditions adversely affect people living in these regions as they cause physiological stress, sometimes resulting in death.

Health Impacts of Heat Waves

The health impacts of Heat Waves typically involve dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and/or heat stroke. The signs and symptoms are as follows:

  • Heat Cramps: Ederna (swelling) and Syncope (Fainting) generally accompanied by fever below 39*C i.e.102*F.
  • Heat Exhaustion: Fatigue, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, muscle cramps and sweating.
  • Heat Stoke: Body temperatures of 40*C i.e. 104*F or more along with delirium, seizures or coma. This is a potential fatal condition



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