Centre’s farm ordinance v/s Punjab’s APMC Act
The main point of difference between the two is that – As per the state Act, only a licence holder from the government after meeting the provisions laid under the APMC Act can do trade, while in Centre’s ordinance, no licences from the state government are required and any PAN cardholder can do trade.
Where trade can be done?
- As per the state’s amended APMC Act, trade will be allowed in both the mandis — state-owned mandis under Punjab Mandi Board (PMB) and the private mandis allowed under the amended Act.
- In private mandis, trade is allowed in the notified yards by the government and the farmers can sell their product in private or PMB mandis as per their wish. The PMB charges a fee/cess which is used for the development of the mandis and the rural areas.
- Under the Centre’s ordinance, neither sate owned nor the private mandis are needed and trade can be done at any place which includes at farmers’ doorstep, traders’ own premises or at farmer’s fields anywhere beyond the notified market yard. Also, farmers can sell their product anywhere in the country.
Private market committees –
- Apart from 1,852 big and small mandis under PMB across the state, there is a provision of setting up of private market yards demarcated by the government under the amended Act. These mandis can be of three types, owned by the private players and can be set up in 10 acres, 3-acre and one-acre areas where only trade of fruits, vegetables, flowers, wood and livestock is permitted.
- The government will have full control over it. The owners of these private yards and their relatives cannot engage in trading activities and they can work as operators of these mandis.
- Taxes and other duties decided by the government will be levied on the sale and purchase of farmers’ produce.
- Centre’ ordinance, meanwhile, has no such provision. Trade can take place anywhere without charging any fee as the state government will not have no control on such trade.
- The state had also provided for setting up of ‘kisan mandis’ and ‘special mandis’ where farmers can sell their produce directly to the consumers. The Abohar kinnow mandi, Ludhiana’s fishmarket and Balachaur’s (Nawanshahr) ‘green peas’ market are examples of these. But there is no provision of setting up any such mandi as per the ordinance.
Other points of difference –
- Price Stabilisation Fund – As per state Act, there is a provision of setting up of ‘Price Stabilisation Fund’ by the government which can be used to facilitate farmers in case of high fluctuation of the crop prices. There is no such provision under the Ordinance.
- Market fee/cess – The state APMC Act says that cess/fee like RDF (Rural Development Funds) would be levied on sale/purchase in the notified private market yards, but there is no such provision in the ordinance.
- Payment to farmers – State APMC makes the provision that farmers will be paid for selling their products within 48 hours. The sale/purchase is regulated by the government because only licence holders can do trade in such mandis. And if the trader fails to pay farmer on time then the matter can also be resolved through Market Committee of the PMB or by presenting the case to Secretary, Agriculture. The concerned Deputy Commissioner (DC) also has the power to sell any property of the trader to pay the dues of farmers. Finally, the matter can also reach the court for settlement. As per the Centre’s ordinance, the farmers will be paid either on the same day or within three working days. In traders does not pay, the matter can be resolved through mutual compromise, or they can present their respective case to SDM or Deputy Commissioner (DC). No provision under the ordinance provides for taking the matter to court.
- e-Trading – Only licence holding dealer can do e-trading, but as per the ordinance, any PAN cardholder can do it and no fee would be charged.
- Big companies – The state government had introduced a Unified Licence System, so that big companies in the food processing to take steps in the interest of farmers. But in case of the ordinance, there is no need for a licence for big companies.
Union Human Resource Development Ministry has released PRAGYATA Guidelines on Digital Education.
COVID-19 pandemic has led to closure of schools and has impacted over 240 million children of the country who are enrolled in schools. Extended school closures may cause loss of learning. To mitigate the impact of the pandemic, schools will not only have to remodel and reimagine the way teaching and learning have happened so far, but will also need to introduce a suitable method of delivering quality education through a healthy mix of schooling at home and schooling at school.
- PRAGYATA guidelines have been developed from the perspective of learners, with a focus on online/blended/digital education for students who are presently at home due to lockdown.
- These guidelines on Digital/ Online Education provide a roadmap or pointers for carrying forward online education to enhance the quality of education.
- The guidelines will be relevant and useful for a diverse set of stakeholders including school heads, teachers, parents, teacher educators and students.
- These guidelines for school heads and teachers describe the need assessment, planning and steps to implement digital education while ensuring cyber safety and privacy measures. It also outlines the support to be provided to students with special needs. Main emphasis is on balanced online and offline activities keeping the screen time as an essential parameter in accordance with the level of students.
Areas covered –
The guidelines outlines suggestions for administrators, school heads, teachers, parents and students on the following areas –
- Need assessment
- Concerns while planning online and digital education like duration, screen time, inclusiveness, balanced online and offline activities etc level wise
- Modalities of intervention including resource curation, level wise delivery etc.
- Physical, mental health and wellbeing during digital education
- Cyber safety and ethical practices including precautions and measures for maintaining cyber safety
- Collaboration and convergence with various initiatives.
Chabahar Rail Project
Four years after India and Iran signed an agreement to construct a rail line from Chabahar port to Zahedan, along the border with Afghanistan, the Iranian government has decided to proceed with the construction on its own, citing delays from the Indian side in funding and starting the project.
- Iranian Transport and Urban Development Minister Mohammad Eslami inaugurated the track-laying process for the 628 km Chabahar-Zahedan line, which will be extended to Zaranj across the border in Afghanistan.
- The entire project would be completed by March 2022, and that Iranian Railways will proceed without India’s assistance, using approximately $400 million from the Iranian National Development Fund.
- The railway project, which was being discussed between the Iranian Railways and the state-owned Indian Railways Construction Ltd (IRCON), was meant to be part of India’s commitment to the trilateral agreement between India, Iran and Afghanistan to build an alternate trade route to Afghanistan and Central Asia.
Why India was delaying the construction of railways project?
- The MoU, signed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Tehran in 2016, was to construct the Chabahar-Zahedan railway as “part of transit and transportation corridor in trilateral agreement between India, Iran and Afghanistan”.
- However, despite several site visits by IRCON engineers, and preparations by Iranian railways, India never began the work, ostensibly due to worries that these could attract U.S. sanctions.
- The U.S. had provided a sanctions waiver for the Chabahar port and the rail line to Zahedan, but it has been difficult to find equipment suppliers and partners due to worries they could be targeted by the U.S
Iran-China agreement –
- The development comes as China finalises a massive 25-year, $400 billion strategic partnership deal with Iran, which could cloud India’s plans.
- Iran and China are close to finalising a 25-year Strategic Partnership which will include Chinese involvement in Chabahar’s duty-free zone, an oil refinery nearby, and possibly a larger role in Chabahar port as well.
- According to leaked versions of the 18-page “Comprehensive Plan for Cooperation between Iran and China”, being finalised by officials in Tehran and Beijing, the cooperation will extend from investments in infrastructure, manufacturing and upgrading energy and transport facilities, to refurbishing ports, refineries and other installations, and will commit Iranian oil and gas supplies to China during that period.
- Iran proposed a tie-up between the Chinese run Pakistani port at Gwadar and Chabahar last year, and has offered interests to China in the Bandar-e-Jask port 350km away from Chabahar, as well as in the Chabahar duty-free zone.
Why India is interested in Chabahar port?
- India believes the port is critical to its interests and wants to develop it as a counter to Pakistan’s Gwadar port which was built with Chinese assistance.
- The port will allow India to bypass Pakistan to transport goods to Afghanistan and Central Asia using a sea-land route.
- Chabahar Port lies outside the Persian Gulf in Iran and will help India in expanding its maritime commerce in the region.
- It also provides opportunities to Indian companies to penetrate and enhance their footprint in the region.
About Chabahar –
- An MoU was signed between India and Iran in May 2015. As per the MoU, India is to equip and operate two berths in Chabahar Port Phase-I with capital investment of USD 85.21 million and annual revenue expenditure of USD 22.95 million on a ten year lease.
- Ownership of equipment will be transferred to Iranian side on completion of 10 year period or for an extended period, based on mutual agreement.
- The Iranian side had requested for provision of a credit of USD 150 million in accordance with the MoU.
- As per the MoU, operation of two berths will commence within a period of maximum 18 months after the signing of the Contract.
- The two berths will be operated by the India Ports Global Private Limited, a Company promoted by the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust and Kandla Port Trust – two major ports working under the Ministry of Shipping.
- Indian ships will get direct access to the Iranian coast; a rail line to the Afghan border town of Zaranj will allow us a route around Pakistan.
- Zaranj-Delaram road constructed by India in 2009 can give access to GARLAND HIGHWAY, setting up access to 4 major cities in Afghanistan – HERAT, KANDAHAR, KABUL and MAZAR-E-SHARIF.
Afghan exports to India from Wagah
Pakistan has decided to allow Afghanistan to send goods to India via the Wagah border from July 15.
- The decision, part of Islamabad’s commitment under the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement, is expected to boost Afghanistan’s exports to India.
- Both Pakistan and India had suspended trade through the Wagah border in March to deal with the pandemic challenge.
About Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement –
- The Afghanistan–Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (also known as APTTA) is a bilateral trade agreement signed in 2010 by Pakistan and Afghanistan that calls for greater facilitation in the movement of goods amongst the two countries.
- The 2010 APTTA allows for both countries to use each other’s airports, railways, roads, and ports for transit trade along designated transit corridors. The agreement does not cover road transport vehicles from any third country, be it from India or any Central Asia country.
- The APTTA agreement allows Afghan trucks to transport exports to India via Pakistan up to the Wagah crossing point, but does not offer Afghanistan the right to import Indian goods across Pakistani territory, out of fear that Indian goods would end up on the Pakistani black market in the same manner that was common under the 1965 ATTA.
- Instead, Afghan trucks offloaded at Wagah may return to Afghanistan loaded only with Pakistani, rather than Indian goods, in an attempt to prevent the formation of a black market for Indian goods in Pakistan.
Scientists at the International Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy and New Materials (ARCI), an autonomous organisation of the Department of Science and Technology, Govt. of India have developed a simple, low-cost, environmentally friendly, and sustainable supercapacitor electrode derived from industrial waste cotton which can be used as an energy harvester storage device.
For the first time, natural seawater is explored as an environmentally friendly, cost-effective, scalable, and alternative aqueous electrolyte, which may replace the existing aqueous-based electrolytes for the economic fabrication of supercapacitor.
What is a supercapacitor?
- Supercapacitor is a next-generation energy storage device that has received extensive research attention owing to advantages such as high power density, long durability, and ultrafast charging characteristic as compared to conventional capacitors and lithium-ion batteries (LIB).
- Among the four main components of supercapacitor electrode, electrolyte, separator, and the current collector, the first two are the pivotal components, which directly determine the electrochemical behaviour of the supercapacitors.
- The fabrication cost of electrode materials, as well as electrolytes, should be reduced because these two components account for major portion of the device manufacturing cost.