Current Affairs February 2020 – National

1 – Cabinet approved to confer the status of Institution of National Importance to five IIITs

Institution of National Importance

The Union Cabinet approved introduction of the Indian Institutes of Information Technology Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020. The bill proposes to declare five IIITs in Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode as Institutions of National importance.

With this, the Five IIITs in PPP mode at Surat, Bhopal, Bhagalpur, Agartala and Raichur will now be able to use the nomenclature of Bachelor of Technology, BTech or Master of Technology or PhD degree. These IIITs are already functioning as Societies registered under Societies Registration Act of 1860.

2 – Cabinet gave in principle approval to set up a new major port in Maharashtra

Major Port

The Union Cabinet has given its ‘in-principle’ approval for setting up a Major Port at Vadhavan near Dahanu in Maharashtra. The total cost of the project is likely to be Rs.65,544.54 crore.

Vadhavan port will be developed on “land lord model”. A Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) will be formed with Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) as the lead partner with equity participation equal to or more than 50% to implement the project. With the development of Vadhavan port, India will break into the countries with top 10 container ports in the world.

3 – Centre notified setting up of Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust

Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust

The Union Government has given approval to proposal for creation of ‘Shri Ram Janma Bhoomi Tirtha Kshetra’ trust. The Trust will oversee the construction of a Ram Temple in Ayodhya, as ordered by the Supreme Court.

There will be 15 trustees in Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust, of which 1 will always be from Dalit community. The government also decided that whole of the approximately 67.703 – acre acquired land would be transferred to the Sri Ram Janmabhoomi Tirtha Kshetra Trust.

4 – India, Maldives sign five MoUs for establishing Addu Tourism zone

India Maldives

India and Maldives signed five memorandum of understanding (MoUs) for establishing the Addu Tourism zone in five islands of Addu atoll at a cost of 2.49 million dollars. A 6th MoU to set up a bottled water plant in Hoarafushi was also signed.

All six projects are grant projects falling under India’s High Impact Community Development Scheme (HICDP). These projects are driven by the needs of communities on the islands. HICDPs constitute an important dimension of the dynamic development partnership between India and the Maldives.

5 – 5G Hackathon launched by Telecommunications Department

5G Hackathon

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) launched ‘5G Hackathon’ in association with government, academia and industry stakeholders. Hackathon aimed at shortlisting India’s focused cutting edge ideas that can be converted into workable 5G products and solutions.

The 5G technology provides quantum leap over 4G in terms of speed, peak data rate, latency, spectrum efficiency and connection density. The Hackathon converted innovating ideas into products and solutions in different verticals and develop India specific use cases around 5G.

6 – Cabinet approved dispensation to Alliance Air

Alliance Air

The Union Cabinet approved dispensation to M/s. Alliance Air, a 100% subsidiary of Air India, to fly on international sectors between India and Sri Lanka. A special dispensation is allowed for the interim period till M/s. Alliance Air deploys minimum of 20 Aircraft or 20% of total capacity, whichever is higher for domestic operations.

The initative has been taken to increase connectivity and to expand people to people contacts between the two countries. Prior to this approval there was no commercial operation scheduled from Palaly and Batticaloa airports.

7 – SC appointed retired Kerala HC judge to prepare inventory of ornaments at Sabarimala temple

Kerala HC

The Supreme Court appointed retired Kerala High Court judge C N Ramachandaran Nair to prepare an inventory and valuation report of ornaments of Lord Ayyappa of Sabarimala temple. The court granted four more weeks to the state government to prepare draft legislation regarding the administration of the historic Sabarimala temple.

Different sects of the Pandalam Royal family have claimed those ornaments. According to legend, Pandalam place is where Lord Ayyappa, the presiding deity of Sabarimala, had his human sojourn as the son of the Raja of Pandalam.

8 – Bodo Peace Accord 2020

Bodo Peace Accord 2020

The Union Government signed a tripartite agreement with the All Bodo Students Union (ABSU), National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) and the Assam Government, providing political and economic benefits without acceding to the demand for a separate state or Union Territory. A commission would be formed to determine the boundaries of the Bodo Territorial Area Districts (BTAD).

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his visit to Kokrajhar, announced a package of Rs 1,500 Crore to benefit Kokrajhar, Chirang, Baksa and Udalguri of the BTAD.

9 – NCL sets up ‘SARAS’ to promote innovation & R&D

Coal India’s

Coal India’s flagship subsidiary NCL has set up a centre named “Science and Applied Research Alliance and Support” (SARAS) to promote Innovation, Research & Development and skill development. The centre will also help improve company’s operational efficiency and utilize resources at optimum level.

The centre has been set up in collaboration with IIT (BHU) and has already commenced 6 varied domain projects worth ₹ 60 Million. NCL accounts for 15% of India’s coal production and 10% of thermal power generation of the country. It produces more than 100 million tonnes of coal every year.

10 – SC directs states to issue notification for establishing ‘Gram Nyayalayas’

Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has directed the states to come out with notifications for establishing Gram Nyayalayas. While some states like Gujarat, Haryana, Telangana, West Bengal, Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh and Odisha have not yet filed their affidavits on this issue, other states except Kerala, Maharashtra and Rajasthan have issued notifications for establishing Gram Nyayalayas but all of them were not functioning.

An Act passed by Parliament in 2008 provided for setting up of Gram Nyayalayas at the grassroots level for providing access to justice to citizens at the doorstep.

11 – FICCI in partnership with Central Asian countries launched India-Central Asia Business council

Central Asian Countries

The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) launched the India-Central Asia Business Council in partnership with five of the epic industry bodies of Central Asian countries namely Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. The council was formally declared to collaborate and provide an industry view to the governments of the six countries.

The council will share its recommendations to promote business in the region and with each other. It will examine the viability of establishing air corridors between India and Central Asia to boost trade in perishable goods, agricultural and food products.

12 – Supreme Court upheld constitutional validity of SC/ST Amendment Act, 2018

SC ST Act

The Supreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of the SC/ST Amendment Act, 2018 which ruled out anticipatory bail in case of atrocities against SC/STs. The anticipatory bail can only be granted in cases where prima facie case is not made out. A preliminary inquiry is not essential before lodging an FIR under the act nor is the approval of senior police officials. The bench was headed by Justice Arun Mishra.

The SC/ST Amendment Act 2018 was brought to nullify the effect of a Supreme Court ruling which had diluted the provisions of the stringent Act.

13 – Central government issued advisory to States/ UTs to implement vehicle registration system

Vehicle Registration System

Ministry of Road Transport and Highways issued an advisory to all States to implement the system of vehicle registration as per Rules notified under the Central Motor Vehicle Act 1988.

The Advisory states that the VAHAN system provides a mechanism for the inventory of vehicles being uploaded by the vehicle manufacturers against valid type-approval certificates. Transport Departments of States and UTs will implement the system of registration of vehicles based on the production of type approval certificate and Form 22. Form 22 is a quality certificate for compliance with pollution standards, safety standards of components and roadworthiness.

14 – Web Portal launched for star rating of mines in India

Ministry of Coal

In order to promote green, safe and sustainable mining practices using technology as a tool, Ministry of Coal (MoC) launched a web portal for star rating of coal mines. It enables all operational coal mines across India for self-rating, their subsequent validation by Coal Controller’s Organization (CCO), further evaluation and finally award of star rating.

Based on the star ratings obtained through a well-defined mechanism on this web portal, the highest scoring mines in the country will be awarded in a public ceremony. All the mines will be given an official certificate by the CCO.

15 – NCL established R&D centre ‘SARAS’ for sustainable coal mining

Coal Mining

The Northern Coalfields Ltd (NCL) established a R&D centre i.e. Science and Applied Research Alliance & Support (SARAS) in collaboration with Indian Institute of Technology (BHU) to work on the sustainable model for development in coal mining. The R&D centre will be the centre of excellence, infrastructure up-gradation and IT initiatives.

SARAS emphasis is on enhancing the overall productivity of mines as well as developing greener technologies. Initiatives such as development of Solar Wind Hybrid System for electricity generation, development of composite membrane reactor for hydrogen production has been taken up by SARAS.

16 – India-UK signed MoU to strengthen Defence and Aerospace Relations

India UK

UK-India signed MoU to strengthen defence ties. It was signed on sidelines of the DefExpo 2020 in the presence of UK Minister for Defence Procurement James Heappey.

MoU features

  • MoU will help in building partnerships and capabilities in the Aerospace and Defence sector.
  • It will advance India’s defence acquisition process but also foster long-term technology and hardware transfers.
  • To boost India’s defence sector and support between the two defense industries.

17 – India and Portugal signed 14 agreements

India and Portugal

India and Portugal signed 14 agreements to boost cooperation in a range of areas between the two nations. Portugal President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa was on his first state visit to India.

India and Portugal signed agreements in the fields of maritime heritage, maritime transport and port development, migration and mobility, start-ups, intellectual property rights, aerospace, nano-biotechnology, audiovisual co-production, yoga, diplomatic training, scientific research and public policy.

18 – EK Bharat Shrestha Bharat programme

EK Bharat Shrestha Bharat

Under the central government’s Ek Bharat Shresth Bharat programme, the following states have been paired with each other for the year 2019-2020.

  • A. Meghalaya, Arunachal and UP
  • B. Delhi paired with Sikkim
  • C. Ladakh paired with Tamil Nadu
  • D. Mizoram paired with Bihar
  • E. Andhra Pradesh and Punjab
  • F. Gujarat partners with Chhattisgarh
  • G. Goa paired with Jharkhand

The programme aims to establish cultural exchanges between people of different regions to further human bonding and a common approach to nation building. States and union territories have been paired to carry out a structured engagement between them in the spheres of language, literature, cuisine, festivals, cultural events and tourism in a focused campaign.

19 – Third private passenger train of IRCTC flagged off

Third Private Passenger

Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged off the IRCTC Kashi Mahakal Express from Varanasi. It is the third private passenger train of IRCTC after the successful run of Lucknow-Delhi Tejas Express and Ahmedabad-Mumbai Tejas Express trains.

The train has several comforts for passengers such as on-board passenger information and entertainment system, modular bio-toilets, special vegetarian meals, free travel insurance, tea/coffee vending machines, CCTVs, fire and smoke detection and suppressant system, comfortable berths etc.

20 – Pravasi Bhartiya Kendra in New Delhi renamed as Sushma Swaraj Bhawan

Sushma Swaraj

The Union Government has decided to rename Pravasi Bhartiya Kendra in New Delhi as Sushma Swaraj Bhawan and Foreign Service Institute in the national capital as Sushma Swaraj Institute of Foreign Service in the honour of the legacy and decades of public service of the former External Affairs Minister.

During her four decade long career, Sushma Swaraj was elected to the Lok Sabha four times and thrice to Rajya Sabha. She served as Minister for External Affairs, Information and Broadcasting, Parliamentary Affairs, Health and Family Welfare.

21 – Cabinet approved changes in ‘Vivad se Vishwas Bill’

Vivad se Vishwas Bill

The Union Cabinet has approved the changes in the ‘Direct Tax Vivad se Vishwas (No dispute but trust) Bill, 2020’ to increase its scope to cover litigations pending in various debt recovery tribunals (DRTs). The Bill was introduced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in the Union Budget 2020.

The Bill seeks to provide resolution for disputed tax cases involving Rs 9.32 lakh crore. It will cover disputes pending in DRTs, Arbitration, Tribunal, Court cases, revisions issues, and all tax disputes under the scheme.

22 – Cabinet approves proposal for capital infusion for OICL, NICL and UIICL

Proposal for Capital

The Union Cabinet has given in-principle approval for capital infusion of Rs 2,500 crore in three Public Sector General Insurance Companies in the wake of the critical financial position and breach of regulatory solvency requirements. They are Oriental Insurance Company Limited (OICL), National Insurance Company Limited (NICL) and United India Insurance Company Limited (UICL).

Against the minimum stipulated level of 1.5, National Insurance’s solvency ratio dropped to just 1.04 at the end of FY19, while United India’s hit 1.05 in the second quarter of the current fiscal. Oriental Insurance’s ratio stood at 1.56 in the first quarter of this fiscal.

23 – India, Portugal sign agreement to enhance maritime transport co-operation

Transport Co-Operation

India and Portugal signed an agreement to enhance co-operation in the field of maritime transport and ports. It will help promote maritime transport between the two countries for better operation of their merchant fleets, co-operation to harmonise and unify their position with International Organization Institution.

The agreement will also help both the countries to co-ordinate accession to international conventions so that the objectives of this agreement can be strengthened.

24 – India and Portugal sign agreement to set up National Maritime Heritage Complex at Lothal

Heritage Complex Agreement

India signed an agreement with Portugal to set up a world class National Maritime Heritage Complex at Lothal in Gujarat. The MoU was signed between the Ministry of Shipping of GoI and Ministry of National Defence, Republic of Portugal.

The MoU on National Maritime Heritage Complex, Lothal will pay the way for co-operation between the two countries for showcasing common Maritime Heritage. NMHC will consolidate all diverse and rich artefacts from ancient to modern times. It will provide access to public and make them aware about India’s rich Maritime Heritage.

25 – Cabinet approved MoU between India and Iceland in the field of Sustainable Fisheries Development

India and Iceland

The Union Cabinet was apprised of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between India and Iceland in the field of sustainable fisheries development. The MoU was signed on 10th September, 2019.

The salient features of the MoU are:

  • Creation of facilities for exchange of scientists and technical experts and their proper placement
  • Provision of training to fisheries professionals from key fisheries institutions
  • Exchange of scientific literature research findings and other information
  • Exchange of experts / expertise to study the prospects of fishing

26 – Cabinet approved protocol amending the Agreement between India and Sri Lanka for avoidance of double taxation

Avoidance of Double Taxation

The Union Cabinet has approved the Signing and Ratification of the Protocol amending the Agreement between India and Sri Lanka for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income. The Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) will result in curbing of tax planning strategies which exploit gaps and mismatches in tax rules.

The existing Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) between India and Sri Lanka was signed on 22nd January, 2013. Both nations are required to implement the minimum standards under G-20 OECD BEPS Action Reports in respect of their DTAAs with Inclusive Framework countries.

27 – Medical devices to come under CDSCO’s purview from 1st April

Medical Devices

The Government of India issued a final notification to consider all medical devices as drugs, bringing them under the purview of the drugs regulator and tightening regulations for them to improve safety and quality. With the implementation from 1st April 2020, all the medical devices will come under the purview of the Central Drugs and Standard Control Organization (CDSCO).

The medical devices that will be re-categorized are devices used for life support, devices used to disinfect other medical devices and all medical devices that are sold in the market.

28 – India becomes first country to make Haj process 100 percent digital

Make Haj

Union Minister for Minorities Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi has said that India has become the first country in the world which has made the entire Haj-2020 process 100% digital. Digital services like online application, e-visa, Haj mobile app and Masiha health facility have provided all the information in India regarding accommodation or transportation in Mecca-Madina to the Indian Muslims going for Haj.

Also for the first time this year more than 21,000 Muslim women will go to Haj without Mahram or the male companion.

29 – SC appointed interlocutors submit report on Shaheen Bagh protests

Shaheen Bagh Protests

Supreme Court appointed interlocutors Sanjay Hegde and Sadhana Ramachandran submitted their report on the ongoing protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act at Shaheen Bagh in New Delhi to the Supreme Court. The report was submitted before the bench of justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and KM Joseph.

Supreme Court had appointed the interlocutors to speak to the protesters to find ways to end a roadblock at the protest site. The protest at Shaheen Bagh began on December 15, 2019 and has continued since then, blocking a major road.

30 – IDSA to be renamed as Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses

Institute Defence Studies and Analyses

Union Government has decided to rename the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, IDSA as Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses to honour the commitment and legacy of late Manohar Parrikar. It will align the vision and aspiration of the premier defence institute with the contribution of the former Defence Minister and Padma Bhushan awardee.

An epitome of integrity and dedication in public life, throughout his career, late Manohar Parrikar, was Defence Minister from 9th November 2014 to 14th March 2017.

31 – India and Norway strengthen partnership on blue economy

India and Norway

Union Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan and Norway’s Minister for Climate and Environment, H.E. Mr Sveinung Rotevatn opened the India-Norway Task Force on Blue Economy for Sustainable Development. The two countries also commenced a new collaboration on Integrated Ocean Management & Research. The two Governments signed a Letter of Intent to develop a new framework for collaboration on Integrated Ocean Management and Research.

The India-Norway Task Force on Blue Economy for Sustainable Development was launched jointly by the Indian Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi, and the Norwegian Prime Minister Ms Erna Solberg, during her visit to India in January 2019.

32 – CCI approved the acquisition of 100% shareholding of WABCO by ZF Friedrichshafen AG (ZF)

ZF

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has approved acquisition of WABCO Holdings Inc. (WABCO) by ZF Friedrichshafen AG. ZF will acquire all outstanding shares of WABCO for USD 136.50 per share in an all-cash transaction for an equity value of over USD 7 billion (about ₹49,700 crore).

WABCO is a global supplier of primarily pneumatic braking control systems, technologies and services that improve safety, efficiency and connectivity of commercial vehicles including trucks, buses and trailers.

33 – India, US ink $3 billion defence deals

India US

India and the US signed defence deals worth $3 billion during the visit of President Donald Trump. The deals include procurement of 24 MH-60 Romeo helicopters by India from the US at a cost of $2.6 billion and six AH-64E Apache helicopters for $800 million.

The two nations also signed three MoUs:

  • Memorandum of Understanding on Mental Health
  • Memorandum of Understanding on the Safety of Medical Products
  • Letter of Co-operation between Indian Oil Corporation Limited and Exxon Mobil India LNG Limited and Chart Industries Inc, US

34 – Government approved constitution of 22nd Law Commission

Constitution

Government has formally announced the constitution of the 22nd Law Commission. The law panel advises the government on complex legal issues and has a term of three years. The panel will have a full-time chairperson, four full-time members (including a member secretary), and law and legislative secretaries in the law ministry as ex-officio members.

The chairperson usually is a retired Supreme Court judge or a retired chief justice of a high court. The term of the previous commission had ended on August 31, 2018.

35 – NITI Aayog organised Sustainable Development Goals Conclave 2020

Sustainable Development Goals

NITI Aayog organised Sustainable Development Goals Conclave 2020: Partnerships, Cooperation and Development of North Eastern states- in Guwahati, Assam. The three-day event saw representations from the North Eastern states, Central Ministries, academia, civil society and international development organizations.

NITI Aayog has the mandate of overseeing the adoption and monitoring of SDGs at the national and sub-national level. Progress in the northeast region is crucial in this decade of action for the country to achieve the SDGs by 2030.

36 – Government to set up Central Consumer Protection Authority by first week of April

Consumer Protection

The government will set up the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) by the first week of April 2020. The CCPA to be set up under Consumer Protection Act 2019, will address issues related to consumer rights, unfair trade practices, misleading advertisements and impose penalties for selling spurious and adulterated products.

An investigative wing will be formed under the aegis of the authority and it will carry out inquiries in matters related to unfair trade practices and misleading advertisements. The rules related to Consumer Protection Act will be finalized within one and half months.

37 – India, Sri Lanka sign MoU for up-gradation of infrastructure in plantation schools for estate workers of Indian origin

India Sri Lanka

India and Sri Lanka have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for up-gradation of infrastructure in plantation schools for estate workers of Indian origin. The project envisages up gradation of infrastructure of 9 plantation schools as identified by Sri Lanka under an Indian grant assistance of 30 crore rupees.

These projects are in continuation of Government of India’s people-oriented development cooperation with Government of Sri Lanka. India’s overall commitment of development assistance to Sri Lanka stands at a total of around 3.5 billion US dollars and among these, 560 million US dollars under grants.

38 – CCI approved acquisition of 74.50% of THDC by NTPC

THDC

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has approved the acquisition of 74.50% of the issued and paid-up share capital of THDC India Limited by NTPC Limited from Government of India. THDC is a government company with 74.50% of its total shares held by the Government of India and 25.50% of its shares held by the Government of Uttar Pradesh as on 31 March 2019.

NTPC is a Maharatna Company having presence in the power generation business. The principal business activity of the company is electric power generation through coal based thermal power plants.

39 – CCI approved acquisition of 100% of NEEPCO by NTPC

NTPC

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) approved the acquisition of 100% of the issued and paid-up share capital of North Eastern Electric Power Corporation (NEEPCO) by NTPC Limited from Government of India. NEEPCO is a power utility, primarily operating in the north-eastern region of India. The principal business activity of the Target is generation of power through hydro, thermal and solar power stations.

NTPC is a Maharatna Company having presence in the power generation business. The principal business activity of the company is electric power generation through coal based thermal power plants.

40 – Cabinet approved the Constitution of an empowered “Technology Group”

Technology Group

The Union Cabinet has approved the constitution of an empowered 12-Member “Technology Group” with the Principal Scientific Adviser to Government of India as its Chair.

The Technology Group will:

  • render the best possible advice on technology to be developed for a technology supplier and the technology procurement strategy;
  • develop in-house expertise in aspects of policy and use of emerging technologies; and
  • ensure sustainability of public sector technology developed/being developed at PSUs, national labs and research organisations.

41 – Cabinet approved revamping of Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana

Fasal Bima Yojana

The Union Cabinet has approved revamping of “Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY)” and “Restructured Weather Based Crop Insurance Scheme (RWBCIS)”.

Few of them:

  • Allocation of business to Insurance Companies to be done for three years.
  • Central Subsidy under PMFBY/RWBCIS to be limited for premium rates up to 30% for un-irrigated areas/crops and 25% for irrigated areas/crops.
  • Enrolment under the Scheme to be made voluntary for all farmers (Both PMFBY/RWBCIS).
  • Central Share in Premium Subsidy to be increased to 90% for North Eastern States from the existing sharing pattern of 50:50.

42 – Cabinet approved MoU signed between SEBI and FCA, UK

SEBI and FCA

The Union Cabinet has approved the proposal of Securities & Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to sign an updated Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive (AIFMD) MoU signed between SEBI and Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), UK, pursuant to UK’s exit from the European Union.

The UK exited the EU on 31st January 2020. FCA, UK had submitted to SEBI that no transitional measures would be available if the amended MoU is not signed before the date when the UK exits the European Union (Brexit), and requested SEBI to sign an updated MoU as early as possible.

43 – Cabinet approved elevation of BISAG as BISAG(N) under MEITY

Space

The Union Cabinet has approved Elevation of Bhaskaracharya Institute of Space Applications and Geoinformatics (BISAG), Gujarat as Bhaskaracharya National Institute for Space Applications and Geo-informatics (BISAG(N)) under Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MEITY), Government of India.

It will help to maintain efficiency and innovation of services, the current skilled manpower working at BISAG may join the national level institute on as-is and where-is basis. It will also facilitate implementation of expanded scope of activities, efficient rollout of GIS projects, aid research & development and technology development.

44 – Cabinet approved Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen) Phase-II

Swachh Bharat Mission

The Union Cabinet has approved the Phase II of the Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen) [SBM (G)] till 2024-25, which will focus on Open Defecation Free Plus (ODF Plus), which includes ODF sustainability and Solid and Liquid Waste Management (SLWM).

The program will also work towards ensuring that no one is left behind and everyone uses a toilet. SBM (G) Phase-II will be implemented with a total outlay of Rs. 1,40,881 crores.

45 – CCEA approved upward revision of interest subvention under the scheme DIDF

Dairy Processing

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved the upward revision of interest subvention from 2% to 2.5% under the Dairy processing and Infrastructure Development Fund (DIDF) scheme with the revised outlay of Rs 11184 Cr. The scheme envisages to have interest subvention component of Rs 1167 crore to be contributed by DAHD.

The scheme also has a loan component of Rs. 8004 crore to be contributed by NABARD. Rs. 2001 cr shall be contributed by Eligible End Borrowers and Rs. 12 cr would be jointly contributed by National Dairy Development Board/National Cooperative Development Corporation.

46 – CCEA approved to form and promote 10,000 new FPOs

Farmer Produce Organizations

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has given its approval for 10,000 FPOs (Farmer Produce Organizations) to be formed in five years period from 2019-20 to 2023-24 to ensure economies of scale for farmers. Support to each FPO will be continued for 5 years from its year of inception.

The total budgetary provision is Rs. 4,496.00 crore for five years with a further committed liability of Rs. 2,369.00 crore for period from 2024-25 to 2027-28 towards hand holding of each FPO for five years from its aggregation and formation.

47 – South Central Railways zone becomes 1st in India to have energy-neutral stations

South Central Railways

The Indian South Central Railways (SCR) zone became India’s first to have 13 energy-neutral stations on the network. 13 railway stations into “energy neutral” stations, is the highest amongst all the zones across the Indian Railways network.

With the help of this initiative, SCR can achieve 100% energy requirements by tapping into solar power through solar photovoltaic panels which have been commissioned at the station buildings and 100 per cent energy requirements by tapping into solar power through solar photovoltaic panels which have been commissioned at the station buildings.

48 – India signed USD 450 million loan agreement with World Bank

World Bank

The Goverment of India signed USD 450 million loan agreement with the World Bank to improve groundwater management and support the national programme “Atal Bhujal Yojana (ABHY). Atal Bhujal Yojana (ABHY) is a National Groundwater Management Improvement Programme which will be implemented in the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Haryana, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh and cover 78 districts.

This financial aid will help the Union Government to enhance the recharge of aquifers, introduce water conservation practices, promote water harvesting and create an institutional structure for sustainable groundwater management.

49 – Indian Railway launched AI based ASKDISHA chatbot

ASKDISHA

In order to resolve queries of railway passengers over the internet pertaining to various services offered, Indian Railways had introduced the services of Artificial Intelligence based ASKDISHA chatbot. The customers can now ask queries to ASKDISHA in Hindi language by voice as well as text.

The chatbot is a special computer programme designed to simulate conversation with users, especially over the internet. The first-of-its-kind initiative by IRCTC is aimed at facilitating accessibility by answering users’ queries pertaining to various services offered to railway passengers.

50 – India’s first floating jetty inaugurated in Goa

First Floating Jetty

India’s first floating jetty was inaugurated by the Union Minister of State for Shipping Mansukh Mandaviya at a cruise terminal in Vasco at Goa. The first such floating jetty, made of cement concrete is expected to boost inland waterways. Goa receives 45 international cruises annually in addition to domestic cruise boats.

Floating jetty are environment friendly and can be built in a short time. A floating jetty is a platform supported by pontoons. It is usually joined to the shore with a gangway.