16 May, 2020 85 Min Read
|GS-II||Baltic travel bubble||International Relations|
|Virtual courts - worldwide||Judicial Reforms|
|GS-III||NIPER-Guwahati designs innovative 3D products to fight COVID-19||Science and Technology|
|Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana (PMKSY)||Agriculture Market|
|Economic package announced by Finance Minister||Economy|
|Model Contract Farming Act, 2018||Agriculture Market|
|Resident Indians remit record $18.75 bn in FY20||Economy|
|Monetary, regulatory support can help agri industry account for 20% of exports by 2025||Economy|
|Agriculture Export Policy,2018||Economy|
|Defence Testing Infrastructure Scheme||Internal security|
|PT Pickups||INLCU L57- Landing Craft Utility (LCU) MK-IV class||Internal security|
|Indian Coast Guard Ship (ICGS) Sachet and two interceptor boats (IBs) C-450 and C-451||Internal security|
GS-II : International Relations
Baltic travel bubble
Virtual courts - worldwide
India: online hearings in SC, HCs
Virtual courts in other countries
Is future virtual?
On April 16, the Hague Conference on Private International Law announced the Guide to Good Practice on the Use of Video-Link under the 1970 Evidence Convention.
A community set up during the First International Forum on Online Courts in December 2018, with 300 people from 26 countries, has grown into Remote Courts Worldwide. It has noted digital courts in some form are operational in five continents, and full return to offline may be difficult.
GS-III : Science and Technology
NIPER-Guwahati designs innovative 3D products to fight COVID-19
National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research - Guwahati (NIPER-G) have come out with two products of help in the fight against the pandemic outbreak of COVID-19 .
The researchers came up with the design for the fabrication of the 3D-printed object after detailed analyses of several resources for risk measurement and on how viruses spread through bare hands. The face shield is also easy to design and it is possible to have rapid development of prototypes.
It is also low cost, easy to wear, has good chemical stability, non-fragile and is easy to clean with the existing sanitizers or any alcoholic disinfectant.
National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research
NIPERs are Centres of Excellence institutes of under the Department of Pharmaceutical, Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers. The seven institutes are functional at Ahmadabad, Hyderabad, Hajipur, Kolkata, Guwahati, Mohali, and Raebareli.
Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana (PMKSY)
The Central Sector Scheme - SAMPADA (Scheme for Agro-Marine Processing and Development of Agro-Processing Clusters) was approved by the cabinet in May 2017 for the period of 2016-20 coterminous with the 14th Finance Commission cycle. The scheme has now been renamed as the "Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana (PMKSY)".
It is an umbrella scheme incorporating ongoing schemes of the Ministry like Mega Food Parks, Integrated Cold Chain and Value Addition Infrastructure, Food Safety and Quality Assurance Infrastructure, etc. and also new schemes like Infrastructure for Agro-processing Clusters, Creation of Backward and Forward Linkages, Creation / Expansion of Food Processing & Preservation Capacities.
The objective of PMKSY is to supplement agriculture, modernize processing and decrease Agri-Waste.
Under PMKSY the following schemes are to be implemented.
PMKSY with an allocation of Rs. 6,000 crore is expected to leverage investment of Rs. 31,400 crore, handling of 334 lakh MT agro-produce valuing Rs. 1,04,125 crore, benefit 20 lakh farmers and generate 5,30,500 direct/ indirect employment in the country by the year 2019-20.
Economic package announced by Finance Minister
Part of: GS-III- Economy- Bail out plan (PT-MAINS-PERSONALITY TEST)
This whole initiative is called Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan. She said, PM Modi in his address to the nation had outlined his vision for a self-reliant India and exhorted the Indians to become vocal for our local products.
The Finance Minister said, this vision was laid out after wide consultations with several sections of the society. She said, the focus will be on the factors of production, labour, land, liquidity and law.
She said, it will improve ease of doing business. The intention is to build and take local brands to a global level. She said, Self-reliant India does not mean cutting off from rest of the world.
Giving details about the package, Nirmala Sitharaman announced 3 lakh crore rupees Collateral-free Automatic Loans for Businesses, including MSMEs. She said, to provide stressed MSMEs with equity support, Government will facilitate provision of 20 thousand crore rupees as subordinate debt.
She also said that 50 thousand crore rupees equity infusion for MSMEs through Fund of Funds will be operated through a Mother Fund and few daughter funds. She said, this will help to expand MSME size as well as capacity. The Finance Minister also said that definition of MSMEs has been revised and investment limit will be revised upwards and additional criteria of turnover is also being introduced.
The Finance Minister also announced that Statutory PF contribution by employer has been reduced to 10 per cent from 12 per cent for three months from June to August to provide 6,750 crore rupees liquidity relief. For NBFCs , housing finance companies and Micro Financial Institutional reforms
Ms Sitharaman announced a sum of 30 thousand crore rupees for Non-Banking Financial Companies, Housing Finance Companies-HFCs and Micro Finance Institutions under a special liquidity scheme Further, 45 thousand crore rupees partial credit guarantee scheme 2.0 was also unveiled for NBFCs, HFCs , and MFIs with low credit rating to help them extend loans to individuals and MSMEs.
In a major announcement by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Tax Deducted at Source (TDS) and Tax Collected at Source (TCS) have been reduced by 25 per cent till 31st March of next year. This decision will increase cash flow of over 50 thousand crore rupees benefitting common people. The date for filing Income Tax return for the last financial year has also been extended till 30th November, while last date for filing tax audits has been extended from 30th September to 31st October.
Providing relief to the construction companies, Central agencies like Railways, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways and Central Public Works, have been asked to grant an extension of six months for completion of work covering construction and other related contracts.
Real estate reforms
In a relief to real estate developers, Finance Minister also informed that the deadline for completion of projects will be extended by up to six months, treating the coronavirus outbreak as an event of 'force majeure' under the realty law RERA. Finance Minister informed that Urban Development ministry will issue advisory to all the States and Union Territories to treat Covid-19 period event as force majeure. The move will benefit real estate sector and agencies which have been entrusted to complete civil work.
For power sector
In a relief to Power Distribution companies, Finance Minister announced a liquidity flow of 90 thousand crore rupees to the PFCs and RECs . Vivaad se Vishwas scheme has also been extended up to 31st December without obligation of any extra payment.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman unveils second set of relief measures under Aatma-Nirbhar
For migrants and the urban poor, government announced affordable rental accommodation.
Government funded housing in cities will be converted into Affordable Rental Housing Complexes under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, while both Government and Private bodies will be incentivized to develop Affordable Rental Housing Complexes on their land.
Under the MUDRA scheme, small businesses will be revamped through the 1,500 crore rupees interest subvention scheme. Government will also provide interest subvention of two per cent for the next 12 months for beneficiaries of the MUDRA-Shishu loan Yojana.
Benefitting the street vendors, special credit facility of five thousand crore rupees have been announced. The decision aimed at benefitting over 50 lakh street vendors will also provide an initial working capital of up to 10 thousand rupees to the vendors.
Ms Sitharaman informed that Government is committed to spur employment creation across the country. In it’s this endeavour, Funds from the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) have been channelized to generate employment in the tribal areas of the country. The Minister informed that, proposals worth six thousand crore rupees to help generate employment for tribals for afforestation and plantation related works is already under pipeline.
In a major relief to middle income families, government also extended the Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme (CLSS) up to March next year. This move is seen to benefit around 2.5 lakh families and will also lead to an investment of over 70 thousand crore in the housing sector. Investment in the housing sector arising out of this decision will further help in creation of jobs and will also stimulate demand for steel, cement, transport, and other construction material.
Ms. Sitharaman also enumerated series of relief packages introduced by the government for the rural India, since the onset of COVID-19 in the country. She informed that government has sanctioned 25 lakh new Kisan Credit Cards with a loan limit of 25 thousand crore rupees.
Liquidity support has been extended to farmers by the 63 lakh loans amounting to 86 thousand 600 crore. She asserted that, refinancing of 29 thousand 500 crore by NABARD to cooperative banks and Regional Rural Banks in March and support of four thousand 200 crore provided under Rural Infrastructure Development Fund has boosted the rural economy. She also made a reference of the efforts to reach out to the urban poor by permitting states to utilize the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF). These funds amounting to nearly 11 thousand crore were utilized to set up shelters for migrant labourers and provide them food and water
Finance Minister said, the Central Government is supporting number of Self-Help Groups, which are indulged in production of masks and sanitizers. She said, seven thousand 200 new self-help groups have been formed since 15th March to create employment opportunities.
Ms. Sitharaman said, the government is supporting migrant labourers who have returned to their home states by creating work under the MNREGA. Over two crore 30 lakh people have been given employment under this scheme across the different village panchayats in the country.
She also made a mention of the hike in the Average wage rate of the labourers to 202 rupees from 182 in last Financial Year. She informed that special drive has been undertaken to enroll returning migrants and provide them jobs under the MNREGA.
The Minister also highlighted some of the measures already in place to benefit workers in the country including universalization of rights of minimum wages and their timely payment, issuance of appointment letter for all workers, annual health check-up for all employees among others.
The Minister said the third tranche, would focus on infrastructure and building capacities in the agriculture and allied activities.
Creation of 1lakh crore agriinfrastructural Fund
The government will also launch a 20,000 crore rupees Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana for the development of marine and inland fisheries. Of this, 11,000 crore rupees will be earmarked for activities in marine, inland fisheries and aquaculture while 9,000 crore rupees for infrastructure creation such as fishing harbours, cold chain and markets. This will provide employment to over 55 lakh persons and double exports to one lakh crore rupees.
The Finance Minister said the ongoing National Animal Disease Control Programme for Foot and Mouth Disease and Brucellosis will look at 100 per cent vaccination of cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats, and pigs against Foot and Mouth Disease at an outlay of 13,343 crore rupees.
In addition to this, a 15,000 crore rupees Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund was announced to support private investment in dairy processing, value addition and cattle feed infrastructure.
The government has launched a 4,000 crore rupees fund to promote herbal cultivation in about 10 lakh hectares of area. The scheme will help generate 5,000 crore rupees income for farmers. Along the bank of Ganga, a corridor of medicinal plants will be developed over 800 hectares area.
Another 500 crore rupees has been earmarked for beekeeping initiatives, helping 2 lakh beekeepers.
The government extended Operation Greens from tomato, onion and potato to all fruits and vegetables by providing an additional fund of 500 crore rupees. This money would go into providing subsidy on transportation from surplus to deficient markets as well as on storages including cold storages. Ms Sitharaman said the scheme will prevent distress sale by farmers.
The Finance Minister also announced amendment to Essential Commodities Act to enable better price realisation for farmers. The amendment will be largely towards de-regulating certain crops, like potatoes, cereals, and onions. No stock limit shall apply for food processing units, value-addition corporations, and exporters.
Model Contract Farming Act, 2018
With a view to integrate farmers with bulk purchasers including exporters, agro- industries etc. for better price realization through mitigation of market and price risks to the farmers and ensuring smooth agro raw material supply to the agro industries, a “Model Contract Farming Act” has been prepared by the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare for circulation to the States for its adoption.
Farmer’s producer organizations (FPO’s) have a major role in promoting Contract Farming and Services Contract. On behalf of farmers they can enter into agreement with the sponsor.
Title of the Act
The final Model Act is titled "The State/UT Agricultural Produce and Livestock Contract Farming and Services (Promotion & Facilitation) Act 2018".
Salient features of Model Contract Farming Act, 2018
Resident Indians remit record $18.75 bn in FY20; travel, education LRS dominate
Liberalised remittance scheme (LRS)
Under the RBI’s liberalised remittance scheme, resident individuals are allowed to remit up to $250,000 in a financial year under various heads including current account transactions such as going overseas on employment, studies overseas, emigration, maintenance of close relatives, medical treatment among others.
The residents can also transfer money for capital account transactions under LRS including opening of foreign currency account overseas with a bank, purchase of property and making investments in units of mutual funds, venture capital funds among others.
LRS restricts buying and selling of foreign exchange abroad, or purchase of lottery tickets or sweep stakes, proscribed magazines and so on, or any items that are restricted under Schedule II of Foreign Exchange Management (Current Account Transactions) Rules, 2000.
You also can’t make remittances directly or indirectly to countries identified by the Financial Action Task Force as “non co-operative countries and territories".
The remittance in FY20 takes the total over the past six years to $58 billion.
According to data released by the RBI, the remittance in FY20 jumped 36 per cent over the previous high of $13.78 billion remitted in FY19.
Sources in the banking industry say while study-related remittance has been growing.
It is important to note that as domestic consumption, private investment continued to witness slowdown in FY19 and FY20 after the IL&FS crisis in September 2018, which resulted in a liquidity crisis for NBFCs and credit availability in the economy, the outward remittance by resident Indians continued to rise at a fast pace.
Remittance under the LRS scheme has been rising exponentially over the last six year and the outflow in FY20 was 17 times of what it was in FY14.
While it amounted to $1.3 billion in FY15, it jumped to $4.6 billion in FY16. In FY19 resident Indians sent $13.78 billion under the scheme.
A look into the LRS data for the FY20 shows that while travel accounted for $6.94 billion worth of remittance, those for the purpose of study amounted to $4.99 billion. The other two major heads were maintenance of close relatives ($3.4 billion) and gift ($1.9 billion).
A closer look at the data released for the month of March 2020 shows that month saw the lowest overall monthly remittance under the LRS scheme in at least 12-months as it amounted to $1.35 billion. The previous low was in April 2019 when Indians remitted a total of $1.28 billion. In February 2020, resident Indian remitted $1.68 billion.
Despite a dip in March, the financial year 2019-20 ended with record outflows of $18.75 billion, taking the aggregate over the last six-years at $58 billion.
By comparison, over the last six financial years, the foreign portfolio investors accounted for net inflow of $64.8 billion — 12 per cent higher than the LRS outflows.
Monetary, regulatory support can help agri industry account for 20% of exports by 2025
Agriculture Export Policy,2018
The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the Agriculture Export Policy, 2018. The Cabinet has also approved the proposal for establishment of Monitoring Framework at Centre with Commerce as the nodal Department with representation from various line Ministries/Departments and Agencies and representatives of concerned State Governments, to oversee the implementation of Agriculture Export Policy.
Vision:”Harness export potential of Indian agriculture, through suitable policy instruments, to make India global power in agriculture and raise farmers’ income.”
Objectives of the Agriculture Export Policy are as under:
Elements of Agriculture Export Policy:
The recommendations in the Agriculture Export Policy have been organised in two categories – Strategic and Operational – as detailed below:
Infrastructure and logistics support
Holistic approach to boost exports
Greater involvement of State Governments in agri exports
Focus on Clusters
Promoting value-added exports
Marketing and promotion of “Brand India
Attract private investments into production and processing
Establishment of strong quality regimen
Research & Development
Defence Testing Infrastructure Scheme
Defence Industrial Corridors
In pursuance to the budget announcement (2018-19), it has been decided to set up two Defence Industrial Corridors in the Country, one in Uttar Pradesh and another in Tamil Nadu.
Investments of approximately Rs 3,700 crore were announced by Ordnance Factory Board (OFB/Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs) & Private Industries for Uttar Pradesh Defence Corridors and investment of approx Rs 3,100 crore were announced by OFB/DPSUs & private industries for Tamil Nadu Defence Corridor.
Further, Government has also appointed a consultant for the preparation of policy and Detailed Project Report (DPR) for these two Defence Corridors. Incentives to private players and foreign companies are provided under the respective state policies.
PT Pickups : Internal security
INLCU L57- Landing Craft Utility (LCU) MK-IV class
INLCU L57 is commissioned into the Indian Navy on 15 May 2020 at Port Blair. INLCU L57 is the seventh Landing Craft Utility (LCU) MK-IV class to be inducted into the Indian Navy. The ship has been indigenously designed and built by M/s Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE), Kolkata. The commissioning of INLCU L57 is yet another manifestation of the country’s indigenous design and ship building capability.
About INCLU L57
The LCU MK-IV ship, is an amphibious vessel with a designated primary role of transporting and deploying Main Battle Tanks, Armoured Vehicles, troops and equipment from ship to shore.
Based at the Andaman and Nicobar Command, these ships can be deployed for multirole activities like beaching operations, search and rescue, disaster relief operations, supply and replenishment and evacuation from distant islands.
ship, displacing 830 tonnes, is capable of transporting various kinds of combat equipment such as Main Battle Tanks Arjun, T72 and other vehicles.
The ship is fitted with state-of-art equipment and advanced systems, like Integrated Bridge System (IBS) and Integrated Platform Management System (IPMS).
It is anticipated that induction of these ships will contribute to the nation’s maritime security needs, in consonance with the Hon’ble Prime Minister’s drive for ‘Make in India’.
Indian Coast Guard Ship (ICGS) Sachet and two interceptor boats (IBs) C-450 and C-451
Indian Coast Guard Ship (ICGS) Sachet and two interceptor boats (IBs) C-450 and C-451 have been commissioned.
The ICGS Sachet, the first in the series of five offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) has been designed & built indigenously by Goa Shipyard Limited (GSL) and is fitted with state-of-the-art navigation and communication equipment.
Indian Coast Guard is the fourth largest Coast Guard in the world, it has established itself as a reliable force. It not only protects our coastline and coastal community, but also protects economic activities, and maritime environment in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
The Raksha Mantri acknowledged that the sea can become a medium of any kind of threats sponsored by anti-national elements. Therefore it is extremely important to develop a collaborative and cooperative approach among all stakeholders.
He expressed confidence that the Coast Guard Ships being inducted from today onwards will add to their strength and help in addressing the challenges related to maritime terrorism, drug trafficking, smuggling, maritime law enforcement and the search and rescue of threatened mariners.
The 105 metre long ship ‘Sachet’ displaces approximately 2,350 tons and is propelled by two 9,100 KW diesel engines designed to attain a maximum speed of 26 knots, with an endurance of 6,000 nautical miles.
The sustenance and reach, coupled with the latest equipment and systems, provides her the capability to perform the role of a command platform and undertake tasks to fulfill the ICG charter.
The ship is designed to carry a twin-engine helicopter and four high speed boats and one inflatable boat for swift boarding and search & rescue operations.
The ship is also capable of carrying limited pollution response equipment to undertake oil spill pollution response at sea.
‘Sachet’ meaning alert is projection of will and commitment of ICG ‘to be ever vigilant for serving and protecting’ the maritime interest of the Nation.
It is for the first time in Indian maritime history that a ship was commissioned through digital medium, maintaining strict protocol of social distancing in the backdrop of COVID-19 pandemic.
Interceptor Boats C-450 and C-451
The IBs C-450 and C-451 are indigenously designed & built by Larsen & Toubro Shipyard Hazira, and fitted with latest navigation and communication equipment.
The two 30 metre long boats are capable of achieving speeds in excess of 45 knots and designed for high speed interception, close coast patrol and low intensity maritime operations.
The quick response capability of the IBs makes it an ideal platform to respond and thwart any emerging maritime situation.
The ships, on joining the Coast Guard fleet, will be deployed extensively for Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) surveillance, coastal security and other duties as enshrined in the Coast Guard charter of duties, to safeguard the maritime interests of the Nation.
With the commissioning of these ships, the ICG has reached a landmark 150 ships & Boats and 62 aircraft.
Further, 40 ships are in various stages of construction at different Indian Shipyards and 16 advanced light helicopters are under production at Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, Bengaluru, which will provide the added strength to the surveillance capabilities of ICG to deal with the ever-dynamic maritime challenges.
Achievements of ICG
The ICG has to its credit of saving about 400 lives at sea, 4,500 lives as part of assistance rendered to civil authorities and undertook 32 medical evacuations in the year 2019 alone. The deterrence created by the ICG is not limited to the Indian waters, but collaboration with friendly littoral states as per provisions of bilateral cooperation agreements resulted in successful apprehension and seizure of drugs in Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
The real time information sharing, close coordination and understanding between ICG and other international agencies has been the key success of these operations.
Hawk eye vigil of the Indian EEZ has ensured seizure of Rs 2,000 crore contraband, detainment of 30 foreign fishing vessels with 119 miscreants for fishing illegally in Indian waters during the same period.