18th January Current Affairs
January 18, 2021
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January 20, 2021
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19th January Current Affairs

Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) policy

In News:

The draft Science, Technology and Innovation Policy released on Jan 1.

Details:

It could be game-changers for not just the scientific research community, but also for the way ordinary Indians interact with Science.

What is the overall philosophy behind the policy?

Unlike previous STI policies which were largely top-driven in formulation, the 5th national STI policy (STIP) follows core principles of being decentralised, evidence-informed, bottom-up, experts-driven, and inclusive.

Overall objectives:

To position India among the top three scientific superpowers in the decade to come.

To attract, nurture, strengthen, and retain critical human capital through a people-centric STI ecosystem.

To double the number of full-time equivalent (FTE) researchers, gross domestic expenditure on R&D (GERD) and private-sector contribution to GERD every five years.

To build individual and institutional excellence in STI with the aim of reaching the highest levels of global recognition and awards in the coming decade.

Key components:

It proposes an Open Science Framework, with free access for all to findings from publicly funded research.

One Nation, One Subscription: The idea is to democratise science by providing access to scholarly knowledge to not just researchers but to every individual in the country.

It suggests modification or waiver of General Financial Rules (GFR), for large-scale mission mode programmes and projects of national importance.

It has made recommendations such as:

Mandatory positions for excluded groups in academics; 30% representation of women in selection/evaluation committees and decision-making groups.

Addressing issues related to career breaks for women by considering academic age rather than biological/physical age.

A dual recruitment policy for couples; and institutionalisation of equity and inclusion by establishing an Office of Equity and Inclusion, etc.

What are the learnings from the Covid-19 pandemic for India’s science and technology sector? How does the draft policy address those learnings?

In India, the pandemic presented an opportunity for R&D institutions, academia, and industry to work with a shared purpose, synergy, collaboration and cooperation, which helped the country develop the capability to produce these kits in record time.

The STIP draft focuses on the need to adopt such learnings for greater efficiency and synergy in future.

National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP)

In News:

FM reviews NIP as part of infra spending push.

Details:

The NIP has been expanded from 6,385 projects at the time of its introduction a year ago, to more than 7,300 projects, and is making progress despite the pandemic.

About NIP:

  • In the budget speech of 2019-2020, Finance Minister announced an outlay of Rs 100 lakh Crore for infrastructure projects over the next 5 years.
  • NIP is a first-of-its-kind initiative to provide world-class infrastructure across the country and improve the quality of life for all citizens.
  • It will improve project preparation, attract investments (both domestic & foreign) into infrastructure, and will be crucial for attaining the target of becoming a $5 trillion economy by FY 2025.
  • Covers both economic and social infrastructure projects.

Important recommendations and observations made by Atanu Chakraborty taskforce:

  • Investment needed: ₹111 lakh crore over the next five years (2020-2025) to build infrastructure projects and drive economic growth.
  • Energy, roads, railways and urban projects are estimated to account for the bulk of projects (around 70%).
  • The centre (39 percent) and state (40 percent) are expected to have an almost equal share in implementing the projects, while the private sector has 21 percent share.
  • Aggressive push towards asset sales.
  • Monetisation of infrastructure assets.
  • Setting up of development finance institutions.
  • Strengthening the municipal bond market.

Pravasi Bharatiya Divas

In News:

The 16th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention, is being organized on 9th January 2021, despite the ongoing Covid pandemic.

About PBD:

Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) is celebrated on 9th January to mark the contribution of Overseas Indian community in the development of India.

PBD Convention is the flagship event of the Ministry of External Affairs and provides an important platform to engage and connect with the overseas Indians.

PBD conventions were held every year since 2003.

Since 2015, its format has been revised to celebrate the PBD once every two years.

The theme of 16th PBD Convention 2021: “Contributing to Aatmanirbhar Bharat”.

Why PBD is celebrated on January 9?

January 9 was chosen as the day to celebrate this occasion since it was on this day in 1915 that Mahatma Gandhi, the greatest Pravasi, returned to India from South Africa, led India’s freedom struggle and changed the lives of Indians forever.

Significance:

These conventions provide a platform to the overseas Indian community to engage with the government and people of the land of their ancestors for mutually beneficial activities.

These conventions are also very useful in networking among the overseas Indian community residing in various parts of the world and enable them to share their experiences in various fields.

New Industrial Development Scheme for Jammu & Kashmir (J&K IDS, 2021)

In News:

Government of India has formulated New Industrial Development Scheme for Jammu & Kashmir (J&K IDS, 2021) for the development of Industries in the UT of Jammu & Kashmir.

About the scheme:

J&K IDS, 2021 is a Central Sector Scheme. The scheme aims to take industrial development to the block level in UT of J&K, which is first time in any Industrial Incentive Scheme of the Government of India.

The financial outlay of the proposed scheme is Rs.28400 crore for the scheme period 2020-21 to 2036-37.

Scheme while encouraging new investment, also nurtures the existing industries in J&K by providing them working capital support at the rate of 5% for 5 years.

Objective:

Main purpose of the scheme is to generate employment which directly leads to the socio economic development of the region.

It aims at development of Manufacturing as well as Service Sector Units in J&K.

Key Features of the Scheme:

Scheme is made attractive for both smaller and larger units.

It attempts for a more sustained and balanced industrial growth in the entire UT.

Scheme has been simplified on the lines of ease of doing business by bringing one major incentive- GST Linked Incentive- that will ensure less compliance burden without compromising on transparency.

It is not a reimbursement or refund of GST but gross GST is used to measure eligibility for industrial incentive to offset the disadvantages that the UT of J&K face.

Major Impact and potential:

Scheme is to bring about radical transformation in the existing industrial ecosystem of J&K with emphasis on job creation, skill development and sustainable development.

It will attract new investment and nurturing the existing ones, thereby enabling J&K to compete nationally with other leading industrially developed States/UTs of the country.