The Union Cabinet has approved to extend the ambit of the PM Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana.
This scheme can now be availed by all land holding eligible farmer families (subject to the prevalent exclusion criteria) under the scheme irrespective of the size of land holdings.
The revised Scheme is now expected to cover around 2 crore more farmers increasing the coverage of PM-KISAN to around 14.5 crore beneficiaries.
The PM KISAN scheme was announced in the interim Budget 2019-20.The scheme seeks to a) provide assured supplemental income to the most vulnerable farmer families b) meet farmers emergent needs especially before the harvest season.
Under the scheme,a direct income support of Rs 6,000/annum was provided to only small and marginalised farmers.The financial assistance will be directly transferred to the bank accounts of the beneficiary in 3 equal instalments.
The Union Cabinet has cleared a new initiative to control Foot and Mouth Disease(FMD) and Brucellosis to support the livestock rearing farmers.
The entire cost of the scheme is to be borne out by the Central Government.The scheme includes vaccination coverage to 30 crore bovines, 20 crore sheep or goat, and 10 million pigs.
Further,the Brucellosis control programme will be extended to cover 100% vaccination coverage of 3.6 crore female calves.
Foot-and-mouth disease is an infectious and viral disease that affects cloven-hoofed animals, including domestic and wild bovids.The virus causes a high fever for two or three days followed by blisters inside the mouth and on the feet that may rupture and cause lameness.
Brucellosis is a zoonotic infection caused by the bacterial genus Brucella.The bacteria are transmitted from animals to humans by ingestion through infected food products,direct contact with an infected animal or inhalation of aerosols.It is also known as undulant fever, Malta fever, and Mediterranean fever.
These diseases are very common amongst the livestock – cow-bulls, buffaloes, sheep, goats, pigs.If a cow/buffalo gets infected with FMD, the milk loss is upto 100% which could last for four to six months.
Further,in case of Brucellosis the milk output reduces by 30%, during the entire life cycle of animal.Brucellosis also causes infertility amongst the animals. The infection of brucellosis can also be transmitted to the farm workers and livestock owners.
The Union Cabinet has approved a new Central Sector Scheme to provide pension cover to farmers.The pension scheme will be voluntary and contributory scheme for all Small and Marginal Farmers (SMF) across the country.
There will be an entry age of 18 to 40 years with a provision of minimum fixed pension of Rs.3,000/- on attaining the age of 60 years.
A beneficiary farmer is required to contribute Rs 100/ – per month at median entry age of 29 years.The Central Government shall also contribute to the Pension Fund an equal amount as contributed by the eligible farmer.
After the subscriber’s death the spouse of the SMF beneficiary shall be entitled to receive 50% of the pension received by the beneficiary as family pension, provided he/she is not already an SMF beneficiary of the Scheme.
Further,farmers can opt to allow his/her monthly contribution to the Scheme to be made from the benefits drawn from the PM-KISAN Scheme directly.
Alternatively, a farmer can pay his monthly contribution by registering through Common Service Centres(CSCs) under Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology(MeitY).
This scheme is estimated to benefit 5 crore small and marginal farmers in the first three years itself.This scheme in addition to PM-KISAN monetary support will ease economic burden and lead to greater efficiency for farmers.
The government has defined a small and marginal landholder family as the one comprising of husband, wife and minor children up to 18 years of age, who collectively own cultivable land up to 2 hectare as per the land records of the concerned states.
Recently,Dr K. Kasturirangan Committee has submitted the Draft National Educational Policy to the Ministry of Human Resource Development((MHRD).
The Draft Policy has recommended extension of Right to Education Act 2009 to cover children of ages 3 to 18 which currently applies to the age group of 6-14.It has also proposed to rename MHRD as Ministry of Education (MoE).
The draft policy also proposes a 5+3+3+4 curricular and pedagogical structure based on cognitive and socio-emotional developmental stages of children which are (a)Foundational Stage (ages 3-8 yrs): 3 years of pre-primary plus Grades 1-2 (b)Preparatory Stage (8-11 years): Grades 3-5 (c)Middle Stage (11-14 years): Grades 6-8 and (d)Secondary Stage (14-18 years): Grades 9-12.
The draft policy also proposes the Establishment of a Rashtriya Shiksha Aayog (National Education Commission) as a constitutional body with the Prime Minister as its Chairperson.Further,Rajya Shiksha Ayog/State Education Commissions may be constituted in each state.
The draft policy has proposed the restructuring of higher education institutions with three types of higher education institutions (a)Type 1: Focused on world-class research and high quality teaching (b)Type 2: Focused on high quality teaching across disciplines with significant contribution to research and (c)Type 3: High quality teaching focused on undergraduate education.
The policy has proposed the establishment of National Research Foundation which will be an apex body for creating a strong research culture and building research capacity across higher education.
It has also proposed the four functions of Standard setting, Funding, Accreditation and Regulation to be separated and conducted by independent bodies (a)National Higher Education Regulatory Authority as the only regulator for all higher education including professional education (b)Creation of accreditation eco-system led by revamped NAAC (c)Professional Standard Setting Bodies for each area of professional education and (d)UGC to transform to Higher Education Grants Commission (HEGC).
Serious Fraud Investigation Office(SFIO) has charged the erstwhile top management members of the ILFS of forming a coterie with its auditors and independent directors to defraud the company while running the ILFS as their personal business.
Coterie means a small group of people with shared interests or tastes, especially one that is exclusive of other people.
SFIO said that coterie abused their position by getting an earlier loan facility for a borrower closed and creating a fresh facility which was again funded after default with another funding cycle through the same or another group entity.
Ultimately, the final loan facility was declared as a non-performing assets (NPA) or written off while several of them remain outstanding resulting in the increase of debt.
IL&FS is an infrastructure finance company registered with the Reserve Bank of India as a ‘Systemically Important Non-Deposit Accepting Core Investment Company’.IL&FS has run out of money and therefore was unable to service its repayment obligations which led to a series of defaults on loans, debentures and commercial papers.
The Serious Fraud Investigation Office(SFIO) is a fraud investigating agency. It is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India.The SFIO is involved in major fraud probes and is the coordinating agency with the Income Tax and CBI.
The Government approved setting up of this organization in 2003 on the basis of the recommendations made by the Naresh Chandra Committee which was set up by the Government in 2002 on corporate governance.
According to a report,immunotherapy treatment can help significantly boost survival rates among patients suffering from advanced lung cancer.
The report is based on a clinical trial conducted by researchers.The clinical trial found out that almost 25% of patients who had received the immunotherapy drug and who had not previously received chemotherapy were alive after five years.
Clinical trials are scientific studies conducted to find better ways to prevent, screen for, diagnose or treat disease.Clinical trials study how safe and helpful tests and treatments are.
Immunotherapy is a cancer treatment that empowers one’s own immune system to fight off cancer.Immunotherapy works to harness and enhance the natural powers of the immune system to work against the disease by enabling it to recognize, target, and eliminate cancer cells throughout the body.
Chemotherapy is a treatment with drugs that kill cancer cells directly. Chemotherapy attacks all rapidly-dividing cells that it can locate within the body, effectively targeting fast-growing tumors.
Further,unlike chemotherapy which acts directly on cancerous tumors, immunotherapy treats a patient by acting on the immune system.Immunotherapy can both activate a stronger than normal immune response in the body as well as teach the immune system how to identify and destroy cancer cells.
According to experts,the Reserve Bank of India’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) may cut the interest rate to boost up the economic growth which dropped to a five-year low in the final quarter of 2018-19.
The rate cut is needed to address weakening credit availability as Non-banking financial companies(NBFCs) remain in turmoil representing a significant bottleneck in the supply of credit to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises that also flows through to discretionary consumer demand.
However,food inflation will play an important role in the decision of rate cut. Between December 2018 and April 2019,annual wholesale price inflation for food articles has risen from minus 0.42% to 7.37%.
Further,the last few months have seen prices of a host of farm commodities go up mainly on the back of (a)drought in large tracts of western and southern India and (b)Pre-monsoon rainfall which was below the normal average.
The Monetary Policy Committee(MPC) is a committee of the Reserve Bank of India.It is headed by its Governor which is entrusted with the task of fixing the benchmark policy interest rate (repo rate) to contain inflation within the specified target level i.e.inflation targeting.
Wholesale Price Inflation tracks changes in the price of goods in stages before the retail level i.e. goods that are sold in bulk and traded between organizations instead of consumers.
The US has announced that all applicants for US visas will have to submit their social media details under newly adopted rules.
The rule to expand social media history data collection to all immigrant and non-immigrant visa applicants was first taken in April 2018.This decision was an outcome of US President desire to put in place a policy of extreme screening of foreigners entering the country.
The US Visa applicants will have to submit social media names and five years worth of email addresses and phone numbers.However,certain diplomatic and official visa applicants will be exempt from the stringent new measures.
Earlier,only applicants who needed additional screening such as people who had been to parts of the world controlled by terrorist groups would need to hand over this data.
But now applicants will have to give up their account names on a list of social media platforms and also volunteer the details of their accounts on any sites not listed.
The National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) is investigating a sample from a man in Kerala who is suspected to be carrying the Nipah virus. Previously, in 2018, there was a Nipah outbreak in Kerala which claimed 17 lives in Kozhikode and Malappuram districts of the state.
Nipah Virus is a zoonotic virus i.e. transmitted from animals to humans. It is a member of the genus Henipavirus in the family Paramyxoviridae. Fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family are the natural host of Nipah virus.
It was first recognised in 1998-99 during an outbreak among pig farmers in Malaysia and Singapore.
The virus can be transmitted to humans from animals (such as bats or pigs). It can also be transmitted through contaminated food or directly between people.
Nipah virus infection in humans causes asymptomatic infection, acute respiratory infection and fatal encephalitis. It has a high case fatality rate estimated to range between 40 and 75%.
National Centre for Disease Control is an institute under the Indian Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. It undertakes investigations of disease outbreaks across India. It also investigates and recommends control measures for the outbreak of various communicable diseases in the States/UTs in India.
With regard to the National Register of Citizens, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has decided to extend assistance to the Assam government in setting up 1,000 foreigner’s tribunals where people can contest their exclusion. Further, the Assam government has also proposed to set up e-Foreigners Tribunal.
The MHA decision comes after the Supreme Court recently questioned the state government’s plan to set up 1,000 Foreigners’ Tribunals. The apex court had questioned the feasibility of setting up these tribunals and appointing judicial officers to preside over them.
The court had highlighted that there would be an influx of petitions in the foreigners’ tribunals once the final NRC is published on July 31st 2019. The National Register of Citizens (NRC) is a register which contains the name of all citizens of India residing in Assam. The process of NRC update in Assam has been taken up as per a Supreme Court order in 2013.
Foreigners Tribunal (FT) was set up in Assam in 1964 through the Foreigners Tribunal Order 1964. The tribunals are mandated with identifying the legal status of suspected foreigners in Assam.
At present, there are 100 FTs in Assam; of these 64 were set up in 2015, to expedite the exercise of determining illegal immigrants in the state through the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
The India Meteorological Department has said that severe heat wave conditions will continue in many parts over the next couple of days, especially in Rajasthan and several parts of north and central India.
A heat wave is a period of abnormally high temperatures-more than the normal maximum temperature that occurs during the summer season.
Heat wave is considered if maximum temperature of a station reaches at least 40°C or more for Plains, 37°C or more for coastal stations and at least 30°C or more for Hilly regions.