9 PM Current Affairs Brief – December 5th, 2019

Ministry of Civil Aviation Launches Round 4 of RCS- UDAN

News: Ministry of Civil Aviation has launched the 4th round of Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) – Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik (UDAN)

Facts:

About UDAN Scheme:

  • The Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS)-Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik (UDAN) scheme was launched in 2017 by the Ministry of Civil Aviation. The scheme is a component of the National Civil Aviation Policy (NCAP), 2016.
  • The scheme would be in operation for a period of 10 years.
  • Aim: To develop a regional aviation market. It seeks to connect under-served and unserved airports in India through the revival of existing airstrips and airports.
  • Under the scheme, airlines have to cap airfares for 50% of the total seats at Rs. 2,500 per hour of flight.
  • The losses for the price cap is compensated by a mechanism called Viability Gap Funding– A government grant provided to the airlines to bridge the gap between the cost of operations and expected revenue.

Objectives:

  • Create affordable yet economically viable and profitable flights on regional routes.
  • Development of remote areas and enhancing trade and commerce and tourism expansion.
  • Employment creation in the aviation sector

About UDAN 4.0

  • The focus of UDAN 4.0 is on priority areas like North East Region, Hilly States, Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh and Islands.

Key features of UDAN 4.0:

  • Revision of (Viability Gap Funding) VGF cap – The provision of VGF for Category 2 / 3 aircraft (more than 20 seater) has been enhanced for operation of RCS flights in the priority areas.
  • Promoting short-haul routes – The provision of VGF would be restricted for routes with stage length up to 600 kms. Beyond it no monetary support would be provided.
  • Well defined Prioritization framework – Airports that has already been developed by AAI would be given higher priority for award of VGF under the Scheme.
  • Flexibility to change the frequency of flight operation – The Selected Airline Operator (SAO) would be allowed to change the frequency of flight operation, during the tenure of flight operation of the given route.
  • Inclusion of helicopter and sea plane operation: The operation of helicopter and sea plane would be allowed under this round.

Additional Information:

National Civil Aviation Policy (NCAP), 2016:

  • It aims at making flying affordable to the masses and convenient
  • It also seeks to establish an integrated ecosystem that will lead to significant growth of the civil aviation sector to promote tourism, employment, and balanced regional growth.
  • It further aims to enhance regional connectivity through fiscal support and infrastructure development and enhance ease of doing business through deregulation, simplified procedures and e-governance.

Vice President Launches POSHAN Anthem

News: Vice President of India, M. Venkaiah Naidu launched the POSHAN Anthem.

Facts:

About POSHAN Anthem:

  • The aim of the POSHAN Anthem is to inspire people to join the movement to fight malnutrition in India.

About POSHAN Abhiyan

  • The Prime Minister’s Overarching Scheme for Holistic Nutrition or POSHAN Abhiyan or National Nutrition Mission was launched in 2018. It is implemented by Ministry of Women and Child Development.
  • Goal: To achieve improvement in nutritional status of Children (0-6 years) and Pregnant Women and Lactating Mothers (PW&LM) in a time bound manner and ensure attainment of malnutrition free India by 2022
  • Targets:  To reduce stunting, under-nutrition, anaemia (among young children, women and adolescent girls) and reduce low birth weight by 2%, 2%, 3% and 2% per annum respectively. Although the target to reduce Stunting is at least 2% p.a., it strives to achieve reduction in Stunting from 38.4% (NFHS-4) to 25% by 2022.
  • For implementation of POSHAN Abhiyan the four point strategy/pillarsof the mission are:
  • Inter-sectorial convergence for better service delivery. This includes convergence of:
    • Anganwadi Services, Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana, Scheme for Adolescent Girls of Ministry of Women & Child Development;
    • Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY), National Health Mission (NHM) of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare,
    • Swachh Bharat Mission of Ministry of Jal Shakti;
    • Public Distribution System (PDS) of Ministry of Consumer Affairs,
    • Food& Public Distribution (CAF&PD), Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) of Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) and
    • other programmatic interventions of Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation,  Ministry of Panchayati Raj, Ministry of Tribal Affairs and  Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.
  • Use of technology (ICT) for real time growth monitoring and tracking of women and     children
  • Intensified health and nutrition services for the first 1000 days
  • Jan Andolan

Note: Stunting- low height for age, Wasting- low weight compared to height, Underweight- low weight for age. Malnutrition includes both under and over nutrition.

National Policy to Tackle Drug Abuse

News: Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has informed Lok Sabha about the National Action Plan for Drug Demand Reduction (NAPDDR)

Facts:

About National Action Plan for Drug Demand Reduction (NAPDDR), 2018-2025

  • It aims to reduce to the adverse consequences of drug abuse in India through a) education, b) de-addiction and c) rehabilitation of affected individuals and their families. It was drafted by Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
  • The activities under the NAPDDR, include awareness generation programmes, community based peer led interactions intervention programmes for vulnerable adolescent and youth in the community, provisioning of treatment facilities and capacity building of service providers.
  • A steering committee constituted under the chairmanship of the secretary, Social Justice Ministry monitors the implementation of the Action Plan.

Additional Information:

Other Steps taken by GoI:

  • Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985: It envisages stringent provisions for the control and regulation of operations relating to narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.
  • Narcotics Control Bureau: It is the nodal drug law enforcement and intelligence agency of India. It functions under the Ministry of Home Affairs. It was established in 1986 under the NDPS Act, 1985. It is headquartered in New Delhi.
  • National Policy on Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS), 2012: It seeks to combat drug abuse in a holistic manner. It was drafted by Ministry of Finance, Department of Revenue.
  • Central Sector Scheme of Assistance for Prevention of Alcoholism and Substance (Drug) Abuse: Under the scheme, financial assistance is provided to eligible Non-Governmental Organizations for running Integrated Rehabilitation Centres for Addicts.

Scheme for Rehabilitation of Bonded Labourer, 2016

News: Ministry of Labour and Employment has informed Rajya Sabha about the Scheme for Rehabilitation of Bonded Labourer, 2016

Facts:

About Scheme for Rehabilitation of Bonded Labourer, 2016

The salient features of the scheme are:

  • A bonded labour rehabilitation fund is created at the District level by each State with a permanent corpus of at least Rs.10 Lakh at the disposal of the District Magistrate. This fund is renewable.
  • Financial assistance of Rs. 1 lakh is provided for rehabilitation of a rescued adult male bonded labourer and 2 lakh for rescued child bonded labourer
  • The Scheme also provides for financial assistance of Rs. 4.50 lakh per district to the States for conducting survey of bonded labourers, Rs. 1 Lakh for evaluatory studies and Rs. 10 Lakhs per State per annum for awareness generation.

Additional Information:

Bonded Labour:

  • Bonded labour is generally described as a type of forced labour and is also known as debt bondage or debt labour. It occurs when a person is forced to use their physical labour to pay off a debt
  • According to the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act (BLSAA), 1976, there are three elements that go into making a labour situation bonded:
  • Being under an obligation such as repayment of loan;
  • Meeting the obligation (that is, repaying the loan) through unpaid or underpaid labour or service;
  • Having no freedom to escape the obligation.

Constitutional Safeguards

  1. Article 19 (1) g enables an individual to practice any trade, profession, and employment of their choice.
  2. Article 21 guarantees a right to life and personal liberty. Also no person or authority can own a life of another human being. The practice of bonded labour violates all constitutionally mandated rights.
  3. Article 23 prohibits the practices like beggar, forced labour and human trafficking. The term beggar may mean labour or service provided by the person with less or no remuneration.
  4. Article 24 prohibits employment of children whether bonded or otherwise.
  5. Article 39 requires the State to “direct its policy towards securing”:
  6. Economic necessity of workers,
  7. Personality development of children and youth.
  8. Protection against all forms of exploitation.

Legislation:

  • Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976: The Act intends to free all bonded labourers, cancel their debts, establish rehabilitative measures and punish the offender through imprisonment and fine.
  • Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act, 1986 and Amendment in 2016: It prohibits the engagement of children in certain employments and regulates the conditions of work of children in certain other employments
  • Trafficking of Persons Bill 2018: It makes special note of trafficking for the purpose of forced labour, and categorises it as an aggravated form of trafficking

DADRA: https://pib.gov.in/PressReleseDetail.aspx?PRID=1594745

Telling Numbers: Malaria drop is sharpest in India, 90% of cases are in 7 states

News: World Health Organization has released the annual Global Malaria Report.

Facts:

Key Takeaways from Global Malaria Report, 2019

Global:

  • In 2018, an estimated 228 million cases of malaria occurred worldwide. Most malaria cases were in the WHO African Region (93%).
  • In 2018, there were an estimated 405 000 deaths from malaria globally.
  • In 2018, there were an estimated 405 000 deaths from malaria globally. More than 85% of the global malaria deaths in 2018 were concentrated in the 20 countries of WHO’s African region and India.
  • Nigeria had the highest burden of all malaria cases, at 24%.

India

  • India registered a fall of 2.6 million malarial cases in 2018 as compared to 2017. This makes India the country with the largest absolute reductions among the countries that share 85% of the malaria burden.
  • India accounted for 53% of total malarial deaths occurring in WHO South East Asia region.
  • Seven states account for about 90% of the burden of malaria cases in India. These are Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Gujarat, Odisha and Madhya Pradesh.

Additional Information:

Global Initiatives to Control Malaria:

  1. Global Technical Strategy for Malaria 2016-2030: In 2015, the World Health Assembly approved a Global Technical Strategy for Malaria with the following goals-
  2. By 2030, 90% Reduction in malaria mortality rates globally compared with 2015
  3. By 2030, 90% Reduction in malaria case incidence globally compared with 2015
  4. Eliminate malaria in at least 10 countries by 2020 and 35 by 2030
  5. Prevent re-establishment of malaria in all countries that are malaria-free
  6. E-2020 Initiative: In 2016, WHO launched E-2020 initiative to scale up efforts eliminate malaria in 21 countries by 2020. India is not among the 21 countries under E-2020 initiative.

Major Initiatives taken by India:

  1. National Framework for Malaria Elimination in India (2016-2030): It aims to eliminate malaria nationally and contribute to improved health, quality of life and alleviation of poverty.
  2. National Strategic Plan for malaria elimination (2017-2020): Under the plan,the country has been stratified based on the malaria burden into four categories – category 0 to category 3. The objectives are:
  3. Eliminate malaria from all 26 low (Category 1) and moderate (Category 2) transmission states/union territories (UTs) by 2022
  4. Reduce the incidence of malaria to less than 1 case per 1000 population per year in all states and UTs and their districts by 2024
  5. Interrupt indigenous transmission of malaria throughout the entire country, including all high transmission states and union territories (UTs) (Category 3) by 2027
  6. Prevent the re-establishment of local transmission of malaria in areas where it has been eliminated and maintain national malaria-free status by 2030 and beyond
  7. National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP):
  8. It was launched in 2003-04 by merging National anti -malaria control programme, National Filaria Control Programme and Kala Azar Control programmes
  9. Japanese B Encephalitis, Dengue/DHF& Chikungunya have also been included in this Program
  10. Directorate of NAMP is the nodal agency for prevention and control of major Vector Borne Diseases.

Climate Emergency COP25: New platform linking oceans and climate launched in Madrid

News: At the 25th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP25), Platform of Science-based Ocean Solutions has been launched

Facts:

About Platform of Science-based Ocean Solutions

Aim: It aims to enhance the sharing of knowledge created by various actors in the ocean and climate community to advance ocean-climate action.

Objectives:

  • To encourage the incorporation of the ocean in climate strategies (NDCs, NAPs, Adaptation Communications, and National Policy Frameworks).
  • To facilitate access to key resources and solutions for the ocean,
  • To highlight the importance of the IPCC Special Report on Oceans and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC) and its main findings, as the best available science for the planning and implementation of national policies
  • To involve and engage a large number of actors in ocean-climate action: academia, the public sector, the private sector and the civil society

Additional Information

IPCC Special Report on Oceans and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC): It was released in September 2019.

Key takeaways:

  • The global ocean has absorbed more than 90% of the excess heat in the climate system.
  • It has also absorbed 20-30% of total human-caused carbon dioxide emissions since the 1980s, causing increasing surface acidification.
  • Since 1993, the rate of ocean warming has more than doubled. It has resulted in marine heat waves doubling in frequency since 1982 and increasing in intensity.
  • It is very likely that between 84–90 % of marine heat waves that occurred between 2006 and 2015 are attributable to the anthropogenic temperature increase.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

  • The IPCC is an intergovernmental body of the United Nations.
  • It was founded in 1988. It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • It provides policymakers with regular scientific assessments on climate change, its implications and potential future risks. It also puts forward adaptation and mitigation options.
  • The IPCC does not carry out original research, nor does it monitor climate or related phenomena itself. It assesses published literature including peer-reviewed and non-peer-reviewed sources.

Cabinet approves launch of Bharat Bond Exchange Traded Fund

News:The Union Cabinet has approved the launch of India’s first corporate bond Bharat Bond exchange-traded funds(ETF).

Facts:

About Bharat Bond ETF:

  • Bharat Bond ETF would be the first corporate Bond exchange-traded fund(ETF) in the country.
  • The objective of the fund is to create an additional source of funding for Central Public Sector Undertakings(CPSUs), Central Public Financial Institutions (CPFIs) and other Government organizations.
  • The index will be managed by an independent index provider, National Stock Exchange.
  • The fund will have a fixed maturity of three and ten years and will trade on the stock exchanges.
  • It will invest in a portfolio of bonds of state-run companies and other government entities.It will provide retail investors easy and low-cost access to bond markets with smaller amount as low as ₹1,000.

Benefits of the fund:

  • Bond ETF will provide safety (underlying bonds are issued by CPSEs and other Government owned entities), liquidity (tradability on exchange) and predictable tax efficient returns (target maturity structure).
  • It will increase participation of retail investors who are currently not participating in bond markets due to liquidity and accessibility constraints.
  • The tax efficiency are higher compared to Bonds as coupons from the Bonds are taxed at marginal rates.On the other hand,Bond ETFs are taxed with the benefit of indexation which significantly reduces the tax on capital gains for investors. 
  • Indexation is the process of adjusting the purchase price of an investment for inflation which helps bring down the quantum of capital gains.

Additional information:

About Bonds:

  • A bond is a debt instrument in which an investor loans money to an entity (typically corporate or government) which borrows the funds for a defined period of time at a variable or fixed interest rate. 
  • Bonds are used by companies, municipalities, states and sovereign governments to raise money to finance a variety of projects and activities.

About Exchange-Traded Fund (ETF):

  • An ETF is a fund that comprises a group of stocks that are listed on an exchange and can be simply traded like any other listed security.
  • Usually,ETFs are passive funds where the fund manager doesn’t select stocks on your behalf.The fund simply copies an index and endeavors to accurately reflect its performance.
  • The ETFs trading value is based on the net asset value of the underlying stocks that it represents.
  • The ETF is aimed at helping speed up the government’s disinvestment programme.

Government procured just 3% of pulses, seeds targeted under PM-AASHA scheme

News:According to the Agricultural ministry data,less than 3% of this season’s sanctioned amount of pulses and oilseeds have actually been procured under the PM-AASHA scheme.

Facts:

About PM-AASHA scheme:

  • PM-AASHA stands for Pradhan Mantri Annadata Aay Sanrakshan Abhiyan scheme.
  • The scheme aims to provide Minimum Support Price (MSP) to farmers.It ensures remunerative prices to the farmers for their produce as announced in the Union Budget for 2018.
  • The increase in MSP can improve farmer’s income by strengthening procurement mechanism in coordination with the State Governments.

Components of the scheme:The scheme comprises of three sub-schemes which are:

Price Support Scheme(PSS):

  • Under PSS,the physical procurement of pulses, oilseeds and Copra will be done by Central Nodal Agencies in collaboration with state governments.
  • The Food Corporation of India(FCI) and the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India(NAFED) will help implement the scheme.
  • The Central Government will bear the procurement expenditure and losses due to procurement.

Price Deficiency Payment Scheme(PDPS):

  • Under PDPS,it is proposes to cover all the oilseeds for which MSP is notified.
  • The state will provide direct payment of the difference between the MSP and the selling price to pre-registered farmers selling their produce in the notified market yard.
  • The aim of the scheme is to provide compensation to farmers for agriculture products whenever its price falls below the announced Minimum support price(MSP) and thereby protecting them from losses suffered on account of distress sale.
  • All payments will be done directly into registered bank accounts of the farmers.There will be no physical procurement of crops.
  • The scheme has been framed on the lines of Bhavantar Bhugtan Yojana, Madhya Pradesh government’s scheme to protect the interests of oilseed farmers in the state.

Pilot of Private Procurement & Stockist Scheme(PPPS):

  • Under this scheme, the participation of the private sector in procurement operations will be piloted.
  • The States have the option to roll out the scheme on a pilot basis in selected districts/APMCs involving private stockists.

Additional information:

About Bhavantan Bharpayee Yojna(BBY):

  • The Bhavantar Bharpayee Yojana was launched by the Haryana government in 2018.
  • The scheme has been designed and developed for safeguarding the investment of the farmers.
  • Under the scheme,the state agricultural department will fix the least selling price of certain crops. 
  • In case the farmer gets the price lower than the price fixed by the government, the difference will be paid as an incentive to the farmers directly into their bank accounts.

Explained:How is a new country formed?

News:Across the world,various territories are agitating for independence such as Catalonia in Spain, Kurdistan in Iraq, Tibet in China.Hence,there is a huge demand for New countries.

Facts:

Who can declare itself a country?

  • There is no law barring regions from declaring independence.Somaliland in Somalia has been calling itself a country since 1991 but no one else recognises it.
  • Similarly,Kosovo in Serbia had also declared independence in 2008 and only a few other countries recognise it.
  • In 1945,the right of self-determination was included in the UN charter. This means that a population has the right to decide how and by whom it wants to be governed.
  • However, another widely accepted international rules is that of countries respecting each other’s territorial integrity.Hence,there is a conflict between Self-determination versus territorial integrity.

Criteria for declaring itself as a new country:

  • According to the 1933 Montevideo Convention,a region must meet four requirements to become a state which are (1) permanent population (2) defined territory (3) government and (4) ability to form relations with other nation states.
  • Other conditions must be met including clear evidence that a majority of people have freely chosen independence that minorities are welcome and respected. 
  • A state must also be able to agree divorce terms mutually with the country it breaks away from.

When is a state recognised as independent?

  • The Individual countries can recognise each other but there is a huge significance in recognition as a state by the United Nations.
  • The benefits of recognition by UN are (a) protection of international law (b)access to loans from the World Bank and the IMF (c)control over borders and (d)greater access to economic networks and mechanisms.
  • Further,the countries currency will also be recognised which allows it to trade.

India tests Swedish technology to reduce stubble burning

News:Recently,To find a solution to stubble burning issue,India is testing a Swedish technology torrefaction that can convert rice stubble into ‘bio-coal’.

Facts:

  • The government has funded a pilot project at the National Agri-Food Biotechnology Institute in Mohali (Punjab) with a Swedish company to evaluate the feasibility of the torrefaction technology.

About Torrefaction:

  • Torrefaction is a thermal process to convert biomass into a coal-like material which has better fuel characteristics than the original biomass.
  • It involves heating up straw, grass, saw mill residue and wood biomass to 250 degrees Celsius to around 350 degrees Celsius.
  • This changes the elements of the biomass into ‘coal-like’ pellets.These pellets can then be used for combustion along with coal for industrial applications like steel and cement production
  • If scaled up, about 65% of the biomass could be converted to energy.

Benefits of Torrefaction:

  • Torrefaction of biomass results in a high grade biofuel which can be used as a replacement of coal in electricity and heat production.
  • The torrefied Biomass material has higher calorific value and higher durability.
  • It has a capacity of converting 150-200 kilograms of paddy straw to bio-coal every hour and reduce CO2 emissions by 95%.

Additional information:

About Stubble Burning:

  • Stubble Burning is the practice of intentionally setting fire to residues which remains after the harvest of a crop. It is usually done to clear the field quickly for the next season and to burn off weeds and other pests.
  • Stubble burning is pan-Indian problem. However, it is most acute in Punjab, Haryana and Western Uttar Pradesh.
  • It contributes significantly to air pollution in Delhi-NCR region when in autumn, paddy stubbles are burned to prepare field for wheat cultivation.

Cabinet approves Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Bill, 2019

News:The Union Cabinet has approved the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens (Amendment) Bill,2019.

Facts:

About the bill:

  • The bill seeks to amend the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizen Act, 2007.
  • The aim of the Bill is to provide for maintenance and welfare of parents and senior citizens, and ensure their rights are recognised under the Constitution.

Key features of the bill:

  • The Bill expands the definition of children which currently refers to only biological children and grandchildren to include daughter-in-law and son-in-law.
  • It extends the definition of maintenance beyond provision of food, clothing, housing, health care to include safety and security of the parent.
  • It proposes to remove the ceiling of ₹10,000 as maintenance towards welfare of parents.It proposes to make this amount variable as people who earn more can afford to shell out a higher amount for the upkeep of their parents.
  • It also proposes registration of senior citizens care homes/homecare service agencies along with maintaining minimum standards for senior citizen care homes.
  • It also includes the appointment of Nodal Police Officers for Senior Citizens in every Police Station and District level Special Police Unit for Senior Citizens.
  • State governments were to set up maintenance tribunals in every subdivision to decide the level of maintenance.Appellate tribunals were to be established at the district level.
  • The Senior citizens who are unable to maintain themselves can approach the maintenance tribunal seeking a monthly allowance from their children or heirs.
  • The punishment for not paying the required monthly allowance was fixed at Rs 5,000 or up to three months in prison or both.

North East Rural Livelihood Project

News:Union Minister of State for Development of North-Eastern Region (DoNER) has informed Lok Sabha about North East Rural Livelihood Project.

Facts:

About North East Rural Livelihood Project:

  • North East Rural Livelihood Project(NERLP) is a World Bank aided project under the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER).The project was launched in 2012.
  • The project aims to improve rural livelihood, especially that of women, unemployed youth and the most disadvantaged in four North Eastern States of Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura.
  • The project has focussed on five development strategies namely (a) social empowerment (b)economic empowerment (c)partnership development (d)project management and (e)livelihood & value chain developments.
  • The project also works in partnerships with expert organizations to focus on cluster development through value chain.

Objectives of the project:

  • Create sustainable community institutions around women Self-Help Groups (SHGs), Youth Groups of men and women (YG) and Community Development Groups (CDG).
  • Build capacity of community institutions for self governance, bottom up planning, democratic functioning with transparency and accountability.
  • Increase economic and livelihood opportunities.
  • Develop partnership of community institutions for natural resource management, microfinance, market linkages, and sectoral economic services.

Senior Citizens Welfare Fund

News:Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment has informed Rajya Sabha about the Senior Citizens Welfare Fund.

Facts:

About Senior Citizens Welfare Fund:

  • The Senior Citizens Welfare Fund (SCWF) has been established under the Finance Act,2015.
  • The fund is to be utilized for such schemes for the promotion of the welfare of senior citizens, in line with the National Policy on Older Persons.
  • The nodal ministry for the administration of the Fund shall be the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
  • The fund will be administered by an Inter-Ministerial Committee headed by a Chairperson.The Committee will be competent to spend money from the fund.
  • The committee will be headed by Secretary in the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment who shall be the ex-officio Chairperson along with officials from other departments.
  • The fund will be sourced from the unclaimed deposits for over 7 years in any of the schemes such as Small Savings Schemes, Employees Provident Fund, Public Provident Fund among others after the account has been declared inoperative.
  • The rate of interest for the money lying in the Fund shall be determined and notified by the Central Government in the Ministry of Finance on an annual basis.

Development of Special Economic Zones(SEZs)

News:Minister of Commerce and Industry has informed Lok Sabha about the Special Economic Zones Act,2005.

Facts:

What are Special Economic Zones(SEZs):

  • Special Economic Zone (SEZ) is a specifically delineated duty-free enclave and shall be deemed to be foreign territory for the purposes of trade operations and duties and tariffs. 
  • In order words,SEZ is a geographical region that has economic laws different from a country’s typical economic laws.Usually the goal is to increase foreign investments.
  • The Special Economic Zones Act,2005 provides the legal framework for establishment of SEZs and also for units operating in such zones.

About Special Economic Zones Act,2005:

  • The Special Economic Zones Act,2005 was passed by the Parliament in 2005.The SEZs Rules came into effect in 2006. 
  • The act provides for drastic simplification of procedures and for single window clearance on matters relating to central as well as state governments.

Objectives of the Act:

  • generation of additional economic activity
  • promotion of exports of goods and services
  • promotion of investment from domestic and foreign sources
  • creation of employment opportunities
  • development of infrastructure facilities

Salient Features of the Act:

  • Simplified procedures for development, operation, and maintenance of the Special Economic Zones and for setting up units and conducting business in SEZs;
  • Single window clearance for setting up of an SEZ;
  • Single window clearance for setting up a unit in a Special Economic Zone;
  • Single Window clearance on matters relating to Central as well as State Governments;
  • Simplified compliance procedures and documentation with an emphasis on self certification.

Additional information:

About National Investment & Manufacturing Zones(NIMZs):

  • Government had announced a National Manufacturing Policy 2011 with the objective of enhancing the share of manufacturing in GDP to 25% within a decade and creating 100 million jobs. 
  • The National Investment & Manufacturing Zones(NIMZs) are an important component of this manufacturing policy.
  • NIMZs are envisaged as large areas of developed land with the requisite eco-system for promoting world class manufacturing activity.
  • So far,three NIMZs namely Prakasam (Andhra Pradesh), Sangareddy (Telangana) and Kalinganagar (Odisha) have been accorded final approval and 13 NIMZs have been accorded in-principle approval.

Difference Between NIMZs and Special Economic Zones(SEZs):

  • The main objective of Special Economic Zones is promotion of exports, while NIMZs are based on the principle of industrial growth in partnership with States and focuses on manufacturing growth and employment generation. 
  • NIMZs are also different from SEZs in terms of size,level of infrastructure planning, governance structures related to regulatory procedures and exit policies.

Prime minister launches Fit India School grading system

News:Prime Minister has launched the Fit India School grading system in schools across the country.

Facts:

About Fit India School grading system:

  • The Fit India School rankings have been divided into three categories namely The Fit India Schools which is the first level of ranking, Fit India School (3 star) and Fit India School (5 star).
  • The level of ranking depends on how much importance the school gives to inculcating fitness among its students and teachers, besides facilities available for fitness activities.
  • The schools that achieve this ranking will also be able to use the Fit India logo and flag.
  • Further,the Schools can declare themselves as fit by visiting the Fit India portal.

Additional information:

About Fit India movement:

  • Prime minister had launched the Fit India Movement on the occasion of National Sports day.
  • The movement aims to encourage Indians to include fitness activities and sports in their daily lives to pave way for a healthy and fit lifestyle.
  • The movement was launched as many lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and hypertension are increasing in India.Hence,small lifestyle changes can prevent these diseases.
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