Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maan-Dhan Yojana
Cabinet approves inclusion of Common Services Centres under MEITY as Enrolment Agency for PM-SYM.
About Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maan-Dhan Yojana:
PM-SYM is a voluntary and contributory pension scheme that will engage as many as 42 crore workers in the unorganised sector.
The unorganised sector workers, with income of less than Rs 15,000 per month and who belong to the entry age group of 18-40 years, will be eligible for the scheme.
Those workers should not be covered under New Pension Scheme (NPS), Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) scheme or Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO).
He or she should not be an income tax payer.
Minimum Assured Pension: Each subscriber under the scheme will receive minimum assured pension of Rs 3000 per month after attaining the age of 60 years.
In case of death during receipt of pension: If the subscriber dies during the receipt of pension, his or her spouse will be entitled to receive 50 percent of the pension as family pension. This family pension is applicable only to spouse.
In case of death before the age of 60 years: If a beneficiary has given regular contribution and dies before attaining the age of 60 years, his or her spouse will be entitled to continue the scheme subsequently by payment of regular contribution or may even exit the scheme.
Contribution to the scheme:
Contribution by the Subscriber: The subscriber is required to contribute the prescribed contribution amount from the age of joining the scheme till the age of 60 years.
Medium of contribution: The subscriber can contribute to the PM-SYM through ‘auto-debit’ facility from his or her savings bank account or from his or her Jan- Dhan account.
Equal contribution by the Central Government: Under the PM-SYM, the prescribed age-specific contribution by the beneficiary and the matching contribution by the Central Government will be made on a ‘50:50 basis’.
What are CSCs?
Common Services Centers (CSCs) are a strategic cornerstone of the Digital India programme. They are the access points for delivery of various electronic services to villages in India, thereby contributing to a digitally and financially inclusive society.
They are multiple-services-single-point model for providing facilities for multiple transactions at a single geographical location. They are the access points for delivery of essential public utility services, social welfare schemes, healthcare, financial, education and agriculture services, apart from host of B2C services to citizens in rural and remote areas of the country.
CSCs enable the three vision areas of the Digital India programme:
Significance of CSCs:
CSCs are more than service delivery points in rural India. They are positioned as change agents, promoting rural entrepreneurship and building rural capacities and livelihoods. They are enablers of community participation and collective action for engendering social change through a bottom-up approach with key focus on the rural citizen.
The CSC project, which forms a strategic component of the National eGovernance Plan was approved by the Government in May 2006, as part of its commitment in the National Common Minimum Programme to introduce e-governance on a massive scale.
It is also one of the approved projects under the Integrated Mission Mode Projects of the National eGovernance Plan.
CSC 2.0 Scheme:
Based on the assessment of CSC scheme, the Government launched the CSC 2.0 scheme in 2015 to expand the outreach of CSCs to all Gram Panchayats across the country. Under CSC 2.0 scheme, at least one CSC will be set up in each of the 2.5 lakh GPs across the country by 2019. CSCs functioning under the existing scheme will also be strengthened and integrated with additional 1.5 lakh CSCs across the country.
PM – KISAN scheme
Seeding of Aadhaar with bank accounts will not be compulsory for small and marginal farmers to avail the second instalment of Rs 2,000 due on April 1 under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KiSAN) scheme. However, Aadhaar number would be required for release of second instalment.
About Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi:
Under this programme, vulnerable landholding farmer families, having cultivable land upto 2 hectares, will be provided direct income support at the rate of Rs. 6,000 per year.
This income support will be transferred directly into the bank accounts of beneficiary farmers, in three equal installments of Rs. 2,000 each.
The complete expenditure of Rs 75000 crore for the scheme will borne by the Union Government in 2019-20.
For the purpose of the calculation of the benefit, the Centre 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 two hectare as per the land records of the concerned states.
Around 12 crore small and marginal farmer families are expected to benefit from this. It would not only provide assured supplemental income to the most vulnerable farmer families, but would also meet their emergent needs especially before the harvest season. It would pave the way for the farmers to earn and live a respectable living.
IEA Bioenergy TCP
Cabinet approves joining of IEA Bioenergy TCP by Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas as its 25th member.
The other members are Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Commission.
About IEA Bioenergy TCP:
International Energy Agency’s Technology Collaboration Programme on Bioenergy (IEA Bioenergy TCP) is an international platform for co-operation among countries with the aim of improving cooperation and information exchange between countries that have national programmes in bioenergy research, development and deployment.
IEA Bioenergy TCP works under the framework of International Energy Agency (IEA) to which India has “Association” status since 30th March, 2017.
The collaboration offers many benefits at both the policy and technical level including the ability to:
What is bioenergy?
Bioenergy is defined as material which is directly or indirectly produced by photosynthesis and which is utilised as a feedstock in the manufacture of fuels and substitutes for petrochemical and other energy intensive products.
Potential of bioenergy:
Bioenergy is already making a substantial contribution to supplying global energy demand, and can make an even larger contribution, providing greenhouse gas savings and other environmental benefits, as well as contributing to energy security, improving trade balances, providing opportunities for social and economic development in rural communities, and helping with the management of wastes, so improving resource management.
Estimates indicate that bioenergy could sustainably contribute between 25% and 33% to the future global primary energy supply (up to 250 EJ) in 2050. It is the only renewable source that can replace fossil fuels in all energy markets – in the production of heat, electricity, and fuels for transport.
Increasing deployment of bioenergy also poses some challenges. The potential for competition for land and for raw material with other biomass uses must be carefully managed. Bioenergy must compete with other energy sources and options.
Logistics and infrastructure issues must be managed, and there is need for further technological innovation leading to more efficient and cleaner conversion of a more diverse range of feedstocks. Policy makers and the public at large will need to be confident that expansion of bioenergy is sustainable.
National Mineral Policy, 2019
National Mineral Policy, 2019 approved by Cabinet.
Focus on transparency, better regulations & enforcement, balanced growth & sustainability, Grant of Industry status to Mining activity.
The New National Mineral Policy will ensure more effective regulation.
It will lead to sustainable mining sector development in future while addressing the issues of project affected persons especially those residing in tribal areas
The aim of National Mineral Policy 2019 is to have a more effective, meaningful and implementable policy that brings in further transparency, better regulation and enforcement, balanced social and economic growth as well as sustainable mining practices.
The National Mineral Policy 2019 includes provisions which will give boost to mining sector. Some of the provisions are:
National Mineral Policy 2019 replaces the extant National Mineral Policy 2008 (“NMP 2008”). The impetus to review NMP 2008 came about by way of a direction from the Supreme Court vide its judgment in Common Cause v/s Union of India & Others.
Special Economic Zones Act, 2005
The Union Cabinet has approved promulgation of an Ordinance
The Union Cabinet has approved promulgation of an Ordinance to amend the definition of “person”, as defined in sub-section (v) of section 2 of the Special Economic Zones Act, 2005:
Special Economic Zones (SEZs) are geographically delineated ‘enclaves’ in which regulations and practices related to business and trade differ from the rest of the country and therefore all the units therein enjoy special privileges.
The basic idea of SEZs emerges from the fact that, while it might be very difficult to dramatically improve infrastructure and business environment of the overall economy ‘overnight’, SEZs can be built in a much shorter time, and they can work as efficient enclaves to solve these problems.
The SEZ Act, 2005, provides the legal framework for establishment of SEZs and also for units operating in such zones.
Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Ordinance, 2019
The Union Cabinet has approved the promulgation of an Ordinance to make amendments to the Aadhaar Act 2016, Prevention of Money Laundering Act 2005 & Indian Telegraph Act 1885.
The amendments would enable UIDAI to have a more robust mechanism to serve the public interest and restrain the misuse of Aadhaar.
Subsequent to this amendment, no individual shall be compelled to provide proof of possession of Aadhaar number for the purpose of establishing his identity unless it is so provided by a law made by Parliament.
The salient features of the amendments are as follows:
Provides for voluntary use of Aadhaar number in physical or electronic form by authentication or offline verification with the consent of Aadhaar number holder.
Provides for use of twelve-digit Aadhaar number and its alternative virtual identity to conceal the actual Aadhaar number of an individual.
Gives an option to children who are Aadhaar number holders to cancel their Aadhaar number on attaining the age of eighteen years.
Permits the entities to perform authentication only when they are compliant with the standards of privacy and security specified by the Authority; and the authentication is permitted under any law made by Parliament or is prescribed to be in the interest of State by the Central Government.
Allows the use of Aadhaar number for authentication on voluntary basis as acceptable KYC document under the Telegraph Act, 1885 and the Prevention of Money-laundering Act, 2002.
Prevents denial of services for refusing to, or being unable to, undergo authentication.
Provides for establishment of Unique Identification Authority of India Fund.
Provides for civil penalties, its adjudication, appeal thereof in regard to violations of Aadhaar Act and provisions by entities in the Aadhaar ecosystem.
The Supreme Court in its judgement had held Aadhaar to be constitutionally valid. However, it read down/struck down few sections of the Aadhaar Act and Regulations and gave several other directions in the interest of protecting the fundamental rights to privacy.
Consequently it was proposed to amend the Aadhaar Act, Indian Telegraph Act and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act in line with the Supreme Court directives and the report of Justice B.N.Srikrishna (Retd.) committee on data protection, in order to ensure that personal data of Aadhaar holder remains protected against any misuse and Aadhaar scheme remains in conformity with the Constitution.
Towards this, the Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2018 was passed by the Lok Sabha in its sitting held on 4th January, 2019. However, before the same could be considered and passed in the Rajya Sabha, the Rajya Sabha was adjourned sine die.
National Housing Bank
The Cabinet has approved payment of the face value of the subscribed share capital of Rs.1450 crore in National Housing Bank(NHB) to Reserve Bank of India (RBl) consequent to amendments made to the NHB Act, 1987 in 2018.
The wholesale financing role of NHB will get strengthened with the transfer of ownership to Government, thereby making possible augmented funding support to housing finance companies.
The change in ownership from RBI to Gol will also segregate RBI’s role as banking regulator and as owner of NHB.
NHB is an All India Financial Institution(AIFl), set up in 1988, under the National Housing Bank Act, 1987.
It is an apex agency established to operate as a principal agency to promote housing finance institutions both at local and regional levels and to provide financial and other support incidental to such institutions and for matters connected therewith.
New Delhi International Arbitration Centre Ordinance, 2019
The Union Cabinet has approved promulgation of an Ordinance for establishing the New Delhi International Arbitration Centre (NDIAC) for the purpose of creating an independent and autonomous regime for institutionalised arbitration.
The benefits of institutionalized arbitration will accrue to Government and its agency and to the parties to a dispute.
This shall be to the advantage of the public and the public institutions in terms of quality of expertise and costs incurred and will facilitate India becoming a hub for Institutional Arbitration.
In order to facilitate the setting up of NDIAC, the Ordinance envisages the transfer and vesting of the undertakings of the ICADR in the Central Government. The Central Government will subsequently vest the undertakings in NDIAC.
New Delhi International Arbitration Centre (NDIAC) will be headed by a chairperson who has been a Judge of the Supreme Court or a Judge of a High Court or an eminent person, having special knowledge and experience in the conduct or administration of arbitration law or management, to be appointed by the Central Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of India.
There will be two Full time or Part time Members from amongst eminent persons having substantial knowledge and experience in institutional arbitration, both domestic and international.
Also, one representative of a recognised body of commerce and industry shall be chosen on rotational basis as Part time Member.
Secretary, Department of Legal Affairs, Financial Adviser nominated by the Department of Expenditure and Chief Executive Officer, NDIAC shall be ex-officio Members.
What is Arbitration?
Arbitration is a settlement of dispute between two parties to a contract by a neutral third party i.e. the arbitrator without resorting to court action. The process can be tailored to suit parties’ particular needs.
Arbitrators can be chosen for their expertise. It is confidential and can be speedier and cheaper than court. There are limited grounds of appeal. Arbitral awards are binding and enforceable through courts.
Significance of ADR:
It is felt that a reliable and responsive alternative dispute resolution system is essential for rapidly developing countries like India. While business disputes need speedy resolution, litigation is the least favoured method for that. The Indian judicial system is marred by delays because of which businesses suffer as disputes are not resolved in a reasonable time period. Therefore, need for alternative dispute resolution processes like negotiation, mediation conciliation and arbitration is felt from time to time.
The Union cabinet has approved the proposal for implementation of scheme titled ‘Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles in India Phase II (FAME India Phase II)’ for promotion of Electric Mobility in the country.
The scheme with total outlay of Rs 10000 Crores over the period of three years will be implemented with effect from 1st April 2019.
This scheme is the expanded version of the present scheme titled ‘FAME India1 which was launched on 1st April 2015.
FAME-India Scheme Phase – II:
The scheme proposes to give a push to electric vehicles (EVs) in public transport.
It seeks to encourage adoption of EVs by way of market creation and demand aggregation.
FAME India is a part of the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan. Main thrust of FAME is to encourage electric vehicles by providing subsidies.
Vehicles in most segments – two wheelers, three wheelers, electric and hybrid cars and electric buses obtained the subsidy benefit of the scheme.
FAME focuses on 4 areas i.e. Technology development, Demand Creation, Pilot Projects and Charging Infrastructure.
National Policy on Software Products – 2019
The Union Cabinet has approved the National Policy on Software Products – 2019 to develop India as a Software Product Nation.
To develop India as the global software product hub, driven by innovation, improved commercialisation, sustainable Intellectual Property (IP), promoting technology startups and specialized skill sets.
To align with other Government initiatives such as Start-up India, Make in India and Digital India, Skill India etc so as to create Indian Software products Industry of USD ~70-80 billion with direct & indirect employment of ~3.5 million by 2025.
The Software product ecosystem is characterized by innovations, Intellectual Property (IP) creation and large value addition increase in productivity, which has the potential to significantly boost revenues and exports in the sector, create substantive employment and entrepreneurial opportunities in emerging technologies and leverage opportunities available under the Digital India Programme, thus, leading to a boost in inclusive and sustainable growth.
Initially, an outlay of Rs.1500 Crore is involved to implement the programmes envisaged under this policy over the period of 7 years. Rs1500 Crore is divided into Software Product Development Fund (SPDF) and Research & Innovation fund.
Implementation strategy and targets:
The Policy will lead to the formulation of several schemes, initiatives, projects and measures for the development of Software products sector in the country as per the roadmap envisaged therein.
To achieve the vision of NPSP-2019, the Policy has the following five Missions:
The Indian IT Industry has predominantly been a service Industry. However, a need has been felt to move up the value chain through technology oriented products and services. To create a robust software product ecosystem the Government has approved the National Policy on Software Products – 2019.
Pradhan Mantri Jl-VAN yojana
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved the “Pradhan Mantri JI-VAN (Jaiv Indhan- Vatavaran Anukool fasal awashesh Nivaran) Yojana“.
The scheme provides financial support to Integrated Bioethanol Projects using lignocellulosic biomass and other renewable feedstock.
The scheme focuses to incentivise 2G Ethanol sector and support this nascent industry by creating a suitable ecosystem for setting up commercial projects and increasing Research & Development in this area.
Apart from supplementing the targets envisaged by the Government under EBP programme, the scheme will also have the following benefits:
The ethanol produced by the scheme beneficiaries will be mandatorily supplied to Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) to further enhance the blending percentage under EBP Programme.
Centre for High Technology (CHT), a technical body under the aegis of MoP&NG, will be the implementation Agency for the scheme.
Significance and the need for such schemes:
Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas has targeted to achieve 10% blending percentage of Ethanol in petrol by 2022. Despite efforts of the Government such as higher ethanol prices and simplification of ethanol purchase system, the highest ever ethanol procurement stands around 150 crore litres during Ethanol supply year 2017-18 which is sufficient for around 4.22% blending on Pan India basis.
Therefore, an alternate route viz. Second Generation (2G) Ethanol from biomass and other wastes is being explored by MoP&NG to bridge the supply gap for EBP programme. In this direction, “Pradhan Mantri JI-VAN Yojana” is being launched as a tool to create 2G Ethanol capacity in the country and attract investments in this new sector.
Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) programme:
Government of India launched Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) programme in 2003 for undertaking blending of ethanol in Petrol to address environmental concerns due to fossil fuel burning, provide remuneration to farmers, subsidize crude imports and achieve forex savings.
Presently, EBP is being run in 21 States and 4 UTs of the country. Under EBP programme, OMCs are to blend upto 10% of ethanol in Petrol. The present policy allows procurement of ethanol produced from molasses and non-food feed stock like celluloses and lignocelluloses material including petrochemical route.
Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize
The award is named after the founder Director of the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), the late Dr (Sir) Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar and is known as the ‘Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar (SSB) Prize for Science and Technology’. The Prize is given each year for outstanding contributions to science and technology.
Nature of the Prize:
SSB Prizes, each of the value of Rs 5,00,000 (Rupees five lakh only), are awarded annually for notable and outstanding research, applied or fundamental, in the following disciplines: (i) Biological Sciences, (ii) Chemical Sciences, (iii) Earth, Atmosphere, Ocean and Planetary Sciences, (iv) Engineering Sciences, (v) Mathematical Sciences, (vi) Medical Sciences and (vii) Physical Sciences.
Any citizen of India engaged in research in any field of science and technology up to the age of 45 years. Overseas citizen of India (OCI) and Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) working in India are also eligible.
The Prize is bestowed on a person who, in the opinion of CSIR, has made conspicuously important and outstanding contributions to human knowledge and progress – fundamental and applied – in the particular field of endeavour, which is his/her specialization.
The Prize is awarded on the basis of contributions made through work done primarily in India during the five years preceding the year of the Prize.
Arun-3 Hydro Electric Project
Cabinet approves investment proposal for transmission component of Arun-3 Hydro Electric Project (Nepal portion) by Sutlej Jal Vikas Nigam(SJVN) Limited.
Impact: The project will provide surplus power to India strengthening economic linkages with Nepal. The power from the project shall be exported from Dhalkebar in Nepal to Muzaffarpur in India.
The Arun-3 Hydro Electric project (900 MW) is located on Arun River in Sankhuwasabha District of Eastern Nepal.