Prime Minister Narendra Modi has recently addressed the Spic Macay’s International Convention.
What is SPIC-MACAY?
- SPIC MACAY (Society for the Promotion of Indian Classical Music And Culture Amongst Youth) is a non-profit, voluntary, non-political and participatory student movement registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 and gets the benefit of Section 80(G) tax exemption under the IT Act 1961.
- SPIC-MACAY’s intention is to enrich the quality of formal education by increasing awareness about different aspects of Indian heritage and inspiring the young mind to imbibe the values embedded in it. For this, the most accomplished artistes of the country render programmes of Indian classical music and dance, folk, poetry, theatre, traditional paintings, crafts & yog primarily in schools and colleges.
- It was founded in 1977 by Dr Kiran Seth, Professor-Emeritus at IIT-Delhi who was awarded the ‘Padma Shri’ for his contribution to the arts in 2009.
- The movement has a central executive body in New Delhi and organises its programmes through a worldwide network of schools, colleges and educational institutions.
- Apart from many well-wishers (corporates, individuals, charitable trusts, etc), SPIC MACAY is supported nationally by the Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, and the HRD Ministry.
- Internationally, SPIC MACAY is recognised and supported by Rikskonsertene (Norway) and Goethe Institute (Germany) which enable conducting of 300+ concerts by Indian artistes in Scandinavia and Germany, and 200+ concerts by international classical artistes across India.
- In 2011, SPIC MACAY was awarded the Rajiv Gandhi Sadbhavana award in recognition of its contribution to youth development.
In a major initiative Prime Minister Narendra Modi has launched CHAMPIONS portal, a Technology driven Control Room-Cum-Management Information System.
- The system utilising modern ICT tools is aimed at assisting Indian MSMEs march into big league as National and Global CHAMPIONS.
- The CHAMPIONS stands here for Creation and Harmonious Application of Modern Processes for Increasing the Output and National Strength. Accordingly, the name of the system is CHAMPIONS.
- As the name suggests, the portal is basically for making the smaller units big by solving their grievances, encouraging, supporting, helping and handholding. It is a real one-stop-shop solution of MSME Ministry.
- Grievance Redressal: To resolve the problems of MSMEs including those of finance, raw materials, labor, regulatory permissions etc particularly in the Covid created difficult situation;
- To help them capture new opportunities: including manufacturing of medical equipments and accessories like PPEs, masks, etc and supply them in National and International markets;
- To identify and encourage the sparks: i.e. the potential MSMEs who are able to withstand the current situation and can become national and international champions.
How does it work?
- It is a technology packed control room-cum-management information system. In addition to ICT tools including telephone, internet and video conference, the system is enabled by Artificial Intelligence, Data Analytics and Machine Learning.
- It is also fully integrated on real time basis with GOI’s main grievances portal CPGRAMS and MSME Ministry’s own other web based mechanisms.
- The entire ICT architecture is created in house with the help of NIC in no cost. Similarly, the physical infrastructure is created in one of ministry’s dumping rooms in a record time.
Revision of MSME definition
Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the upward revision of MSME definition.
- Under the Atmanirbhar Package, the definition of micro manufacturing and services unit was increased to Rs. 1 crore of investment and Rs. 5 crore of turnover.
- The limit of small unit was increased to Rs. 10 crore of investment and Rs 50 crore of turnover.
- Similarly, the limit of a medium unit was increased to Rs 20 crore of investment and Rs. 100 crore of turnover.
- It may be noted that this revision was done after 14 years since the MSME Development Act came into existence in 2006.
Changes in definition –
- Keeping in mind the changes in market conditions, it has been decided to further increase the limit for medium manufacturing and service units. Now it will be Rs. 50 crore of investment and Rs. 250 crore of turnover.
- It has also been decided that the turnover with respect to exports will not be counted in the limits of turnover for any category of MSME units whether micro, small or medium.
|Category||Old Capital||Old Turnover||New Capital||New Turnover|
|Micro||25 Lakh||10 Lakh||1 Crore||5 Crore|
|Small||5 Crore||2 Crore||10 Crore||50 Crore|
|Medium||10 crore||5 Crore||50 Crore||250 Crore|
What else has been done?
- Approval for provisioning of Rs 20,000 crore as subordinate debt to provide equity support to the stressed MSMEs. This will benefit 2 lakh stressed MSMEs.
- Approval for equity infusion of Rs. 50,000 crore for MSMEs through Fund of Funds (FoF). This will establish a framework to help MSMEs in capacity augmentation. This will also provide an opportunity to get listed in stock exchanges.
Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has launched a Special Micro-Credit Facility Scheme- PM SVANidhi – PM Street Vendor’s AtmaNirbharNidhi, for providing affordable loans to street vendors.
- Over 50 lakh people, including vendors, hawkers, thelewalas, rehriwala, theliphadwala etc. in different areas/ contexts are likely to benefit from this scheme.
- The goods supplied by them range from vegetables, fruits, ready-to-eat street foods, tea, pakodas, breads, eggs, textiles, apparel, footwear, artisan products, books/ stationaries etc.
- The services include barber shops, cobblers, pan shops, laundry services etc.
What is the scheme?
- The vendors can avail a working capital loan of up to Rs. 10,000, which is repayable in monthly instalments in the tenure of one year.
- On timely/ early repayment of the loan, an interest subsidy @ 7% per annum will be credited to the bank accounts of beneficiaries through Direct Benefit Transfer on six monthly basis. There will be no penalty on early repayment of loan.
- The scheme provides for escalation of the credit limit on timely/ early repayment of loan to help the vendor achieve his ambition of going up on the economic ladder.
- It is for the first time that MFIs/ NBFCs/ SHG Banks have been allowed in a scheme for the urban poor due to their ground level presence and proximity to the urban poor including the street vendors.
- SIDBI will be the ministry’s technical partner for implementation of this scheme.
To ensure effective delivery and transparency, a digital platform with web portal/ mobile app is being developed to administer the scheme with end-to-end solution. The IT platform will also help in integrating the vendors into the formal financial system. This platform will integrate the web portal/ mobile app with UdyamiMitra portal of SIDBI for credit management and PAiSA portal of MoHUA to administer interest subsidy automatically.
As massive protests following the death of George Floyd continued to rock the United States, President Donald Trump has announced that the far-left group Antifa would be designated as a terrorist organisation by his government.
What is ANTIFA?
- The Merriam-Webster dates the term as far back as Nazi Germany, describing the etymology of ‘antifa’ as “borrowed from German Antifa, short for antifaschistische ‘anti-fascist’, in Antifaschistische Aktion (multiparty front initiated by the German Communist Party in 1932 to counter Nazism) and in other collocations”.
- While the movement has had a presence in several European countries and has come into focus in the United States in recent years, Antifa does not have a formal organisational structure.
- The New York Times said it draws its members from other movements such as Black Lives Matter and the Occupy movement.
Antifa members typically dress in black and often wear a mask at their demonstrations, and follow far-left ideologies such as anti-capitalism. They take up causes such as LGBTQ and indigenous rights. What makes them stand out is the violence.
- Because of Antifa’s repeated involvement in violence, many liberal figures have criticised the group for bringing disrepute to existing anti-fascism movements in the country.
- Antifa’s activities, they note, allow right-wing organisations to portray organisers of peaceful events, too, as extremists.
- Writer and social commentator Noam Chomsky has been quoted as calling the Antifa “a major gift to the right”.
- Many have pointed out that major substantive reforms, such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the ending of formal racial segregation, were achieved after years of non-violent disobedience.
Line of Actual Control
Tensions continue to rise between India and China at the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
What is Line of Actual Control (LAC)?
- The LAC is the demarcation that separates Indian-controlled territory from Chinese-controlled territory.
- India considers the LAC to be 3,488 km long, while the Chinese consider it to be only around 2,000 km.
- It is divided into three sectors – the eastern sector which spans Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim, the middle sector in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, and the western sector in Ladakh.
What is the disagreement?
- The alignment of the LAC in the eastern sector is along the 1914 McMahon Line, and there are minor disputes about the positions on the ground as per the principle of the high Himalayan watershed. This pertains to India’s international boundary as well, but for certain areas such as Longju and Asaphila.
- The line in the middle sector is the least controversial but for the precise alignment to be followed in the Barahoti plains.
- The major disagreements are in the western sector where the LAC emerged from two letters written by Chinese Prime Minister Zhou Enlai to PM Jawaharlal Nehru in 1959, after he had first mentioned such a ‘line’ in 1956. In his letter, Zhou said the LAC consisted of “the so-called McMahon Line in the east and the line up to which each side exercises actual control in the west”.
- Shivshankar Menon has explained in his book Choices: Inside the Making of India’s Foreign Policy that the LAC was “described only in general terms on maps not to scale” by the Chinese.
- After the 1962 War, the Chinese claimed they had withdrawn to 20 km behind the LAC of November 1959. Zhou clarified the LAC again after the war in another letter to Nehru: “To put it concretely, in the eastern sector it coincides in the main with the so-called McMahon Line, and in the western and middle sectors it coincides in the main with the traditional customary line which has consistently been pointed out by China”.
India’s response to LAC –
India’s objection, as described by Menon, was that the Chinese line “was a disconnected series of points on a map that could be joined up in many ways; the line should omit gains from aggression in 1962 and therefore should be based on the actual position on September 8, 1962 before the Chinese attack; and the vagueness of the Chinese definition left it open for China to continue its creeping attempt to change facts on the ground by military force”.
How is LAC different from LoC with Pakistan?
- The Line of Control (LoC) emerged from the 1948 ceasefire line negotiated by the UN after the Kashmir War.
- It was designated as the LoC in 1972, following the Shimla Agreement between the two countries.
- It is delineated on a map signed by DGMOs of both armies and has the international sanctity of a legal agreement.
- The LAC, in contrast, is only a concept – it is not agreed upon by the two countries, neither delineated on a map or demarcated on the ground.
Calling the existing Group of Seven (G-7) club a “very outdated group of countries”, US President Donald Trump has said that he wanted to include India, Russia, South Korea and Australia in the group.
What is G-7?
- The G-7 or ‘Group of Seven’ are Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
- It is an intergovernmental organisation that was formed in 1975 by the top economies of the time as an informal forum to discuss pressing world issues.
- Canada joined the group in 1976, and the European Union began attending in 1977.
- Initially formed as an effort by the US and its allies to discuss economic issues, the G-7 forum has deliberated about several challenges over the decades, such as the oil crashes of the 1970s, the economic changeover of ex-Soviet bloc nations, and many pressing issues such as financial crises, terrorism, arms control, and drug trafficking.
- The G-7 was known as the ‘G-8’ for several years after the original seven were joined by Russia in 1997.
- The Group returned to being called G-7 after Russia was expelled as a member in 2014 following the latter’s annexation of the Crimea region of Ukraine.
How does it work?
- The G-7 nations meet at annual summits that are presided over by leaders of member countries on a rotational basis.
- The summit is an informal gathering that lasts two days, in which leaders of member countries discuss a wide range of global issues. The host country typically gets to invite dignitaries from outside the G-7 to attend the Summit.
- The groundwork for the summit, including matters to be discussed and follow-up meetings, is done by the “sherpas”, who are generally personal representatives or members of diplomatic staff such as ambassadors. The sherpa for Prime Minister Modi at last year’s summit was former Union Minister Suresh Prabhu.
Korean Armistice Agreement
The UN Command, led by the United States, found that North and South Korea were both guilty of violating armistice agreements following a recent incident involving gunfire along the Demilitarised Zone between the two countries. This shooting, the first of its kind in approximately two and a half years, was in violation of the armistice agreement which brought a halt to the Korean War in 1953.
What is the Korean Armistice Agreement?
- The 1953 Korean Armistice Agreement, was a ceasefire though there was no official declaration of the end of the war, and the conflict has continued, without fighting between the parties.
- South Korea, under President Syngman Rhee, did not sign the armistice. In the absence of an official peace treaty, as is the norm, the two officially remain at war.
- However, in December 1991, North and South Korea signed a pact where they agreed to refrain from aggressions, in a step that would lead to better relations and a potential resolution of the situation.
- Since the armistice was enforced, there have been several violations of it from both North and South Korea, leading to persistent tensions between the two countries.