The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the establishment of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), South Asia Regional Centre (ISARC) at campus of National Seed Research and Training Centre (NSRTC) in Varanasi.
ISARC | Details
- Under the proposal, a Centre of Excellence in Rice Value Addition (CERVA) will be set up in Varanasi.
- This will include a modern and sophisticated laboratory with capacity to determine quality and status of heavy metals in grain and straw.
- The Centre will also undertake capacity building exercises for stakeholders across the rice value chain.
- This Centre will be the first international Centre in the eastern India and it will play a major role in harnessing and sustaining rice production in the region. It is expected to be a boon for food production and skill development in the eastern India and similar ecologies in other South Asian and African countries.
Benefits from ISARC
- The Centre will help in utilizing the rich biodiversity of India to develop special rice varieties.
- This will help India to achieve higher per hectare yields and improved nutritional contents.
- India’s food and nutritional security issues will also be addressed.
- The Centre will support in adopting value chain based production system in the country. This will reduce wastage, add value and generate higher income for the farmers.
- The farmers in Eastern India will benefit in particular, besides those in South Asian and African countries.
Management of ISARC
- ISARC will operate under the governance of the IRRI Board of Trustees who will appoint an appropriate IRRI staff member as Director.
- A Coordination Committee will be headed by Director General, IRRI as Chair and Secretary, Government of India, Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare (DACFW) as Co-Chair.
- The other members of Coordination Committee are Deputy Director General (Crop Sciences), ICAR; Director, NSRTC; IRRI representative in India, representative of Government of UP and representatives of Governments of Nepal & Bangladesh and Private Sector.
The Ministry of Civil Aviation held a meeting of all stakeholders last week to invite suggestions for designing Air Sewa 2.0, the upgraded version of the Air-Sewa Web Portal and mobile app that was launched in November last year to make air travel convenient and hassle-free.
Air-Sewa Web Portal | The Need
To provide a safe, and comfortable air travel experience to users. Flight delays, problem in refunds, long queues, inadequate facilities at airports and complaints of lost baggage are the most common problems that air travellers face.
There was a need to respond to these problems in a systematic manner rather than on ad-hoc basis. The Ministry had launched AirSewa web portal and mobile app on 26.11.2016 to address this need.
Air-Sewa Web Portal
AirSewa is operated through an interactive web portal and a mobile app for both Android and iOS platforms. e-portal includes a mechanism for grievance redressal, back office operations for grievance handling, flight status/schedule information, airport Information and FAQs.
Air-Sewa Web Portal | New Features
- Users can now check live flight status for all inbound and outbound flights in a single click.
- Information regarding weather conditions and services for some selected airports is also available on this portal.
- Flights can be searched by flight number or for all flights to or from a particular airport. Information such as airport services like wheel chair, transport/parking, rest and relax, Wifi services etc. can also be easily accessed.
- Timely and satisfactory grievance redressal was an important priority as users had to approach several stakeholders to get their grievances redressed.
- AirSewa is a one-stop solution for grievance redressal as passengers can now register any grievance on the mobile app or web portal.
- They can also upload voice or video along with an elaborate description of their issues.
Air-Sewa Web Portal | Significance
- The portal has helped make the grievance redressal system responsive, transparent, accountable andefficient by using technology.
- Users can now track the status and response through reference number provided. There are stipulated timelines in place to address the issue.
- The portal is closely monitored by control room to ensure timely and effective redressal. A message is sent to the concerned nodal officer if any grievance remains unattended or unresolved.
- To improve the user experience an option to provide feedback and rate the overall experience and satisfaction has been provided.
Mission Parivar Vikas is a new family planning initiative launched on World Population Day.
Mission Parivar Vikas | Details
- Mission ParivarVikas will focus on 146 high fertility districts in 7 states with high TFR. Under this, specific targeted initiatives shall be taken for population stabilisation through better services delivery.
- Mission ParivarVikas is a new initiative conceived by the Ministry with a strategic focus on improving access through provision of services, promotional schemes, commodity security, capacity building, enabling environment and intensive monitoring.
- The Governmenthas enhanced the basket of contraceptive choices to meet the changing needs of people and have taken steps to ensure quality assured services and commodities are delivered to the last-mile consumers in both rural and urban areas.
- Also launched was a new injectable in the public health system under the “Antara” program and a new software – Family Planning Logistics Management Information System (FP-LMIS) – designed to provide robust information on the demand and distribution of contraceptives to health facilities and ASHAs to strengthen supply chain management.
- The Health Minister also launched a new consumer friendly website on family planning and a 52-week radio show for couples to discuss issues related to marriage and family planning, which will be aired across the country.
- The Health Minister further highlighted the life cycle approach of the Ministry and stated that a continuum of care approach has been adopted by the Ministry with the articulation of ‘Strategic approach to Reproductive Maternal, New-born, Child and Adolescent health (RMNCH+A), bringing focus on all the life stages.
Mission Parivar Vikas | Conclusion
The population dynamics have a significant influence on sustainable development. The changes in population growth rates and age structures are closely linked to national and global developmental challenges and their solutions. The issue of population stabilization is so gigantic in its proportion that the government alone cannot address the issue and thus the collective involvement of NGOs, private sector and corporate sector shall play a pivotal role.
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Taking forward the National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Policy 2016, a Scheme for IPR Awareness – Creative India Innovative India was launched by Cell for IPR Promotion and Management (CIPAM) under the aegis of the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion.
Creative India Innovative India | Details
- The Scheme aims at raising IPR awareness amongst students, youth, authors, artists, budding inventors and professionals to inspire them to create, innovate and protect their creations and inventions across India including Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 3 cities as well as rural areas in the next 3 years.
- The Scheme for IPR Awareness aims to conduct over 4000 IPR awareness workshops/seminars in academic institutions (schools and colleges) and the industry,including MSMEs and Start-ups, as also IP training and sensitization programmes for enforcement agencies and the judiciary.
- Workshops will cover all vital IP topics including international filing procedures, promotion of Geographical Indications and highlighting the ill effects of piracy and counterfeiting.
- The Scheme for IPR Awareness would be implemented through partner organizations to promote innovation and entrepreneurship.
Highlights of National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Policy, 2016
- The new policy calls for providing financial support to the less empowered groups of IP owners or creators such as farmers, weavers and artisans through financial institutions like rural banks or co-operative banks offering IP-friendly loans.
- The work done by various ministries and departments will be monitored by the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP), which will be the nodal department to coordinate, guide and oversee implementation and future development of IPRs in India.
- The policy, with a tagline of Creative India: Innovative India, also calls for updating various intellectual property laws, including the Indian Cinematography Act, to remove anomalies and inconsistencies in consultation with stakeholders.
- For supporting financial aspects of IPR commercialisation, it asks for financial support to develop IP assets through links with financial institutions, including banks, VC funds, angel funds and crowd-funding mechanisms.
- To achieve the objective of strengthening enforcement and adjudicatory mechanisms to combat IPR infringements, it called for taking actions against attempts to treat generic drugs as spurious or counterfeit and undertake stringent measures to curb manufacture and sale of misbranded, adulterated and spurious drugs.
- The policy will be reviewed after every five years to keep pace with further developments in the sector.
- IPR friendly loans to less empowered groups like artisans, weavers etc.
- Motivating industries to use CSR funds to support IP development.
The Income Tax Tribunal (ITAT) is the first independent forum where tax disputes are examined and where excesses of the state, if any, are remedied. In 2016, the Comptroller and Auditor general of India reported that 32,834 disputes were pending at the ITAT level, with Rs 1,35,984 crore of disputed amount.
Income Tax Tribunal | Draft 2017 ITAT rules
- The draft 2017 ITATrules seek to make the tribunal more time-efficient by limiting the number of times a hearing can be adjourned.
- The draft rules also include provisions to ensure that time-sensitive matters are dealt with swiftly: stay applications must be listed the same week they are filed and disposed of within a few days after hearing; and rectification petitions have to be heard within four weeks of filing.
- It also seeks to incorporate modern technology into the daily functioning of the ITATby allowing e-filing of appeals, communication of notices, pronouncements and adjournments via e-mail and text messages, and carrying out hearings through video-conferencing.
Income Tax Tribunal | Amendments
- Perhaps the biggest problem with the way ITAT benches currently function is the delay in timelines. This is a serious problem given that the ITAT is not the first level at which a tax dispute is raised. The proposals relating to adjournments stay applications and rectification petitions will go some way towards improving this situation. However, there are ambiguities in the draft rules regarding the sitting of the benches which could lead to the status quo continuing.
- The draft rules, despite providing a limit of five adjournments, permit benches nonetheless to accept more adjournments at their discretion without providing any criteria for this. Even when it comes to the timelines for rectification petitions, the current draft rule only includes a time frame for hearing the petition, not disposing it off.
- The rules also allow the ITAT to remand cases for adjudication as a whole to lower authorities, which high courts have previously held to cause severe prejudice to the parties, and urged against at all costs.
Income Tax Tribunal | Suggestions for improvement
- The rules should ensure that the present ambiguities are ironed out by specifying detailed timings for the ITAT and ways of enforcing them, providing more detail on the number of adjournments and reasons for these, providing a time frame for disposal of rectification petitions, and preventing benches from remanding cases entirely to lower authorities, or, in the alternative that they be exercised only in exceptional cases and with time limits.
- The committee has an opportunity to truly reimagine the ITAT by introducing the principles of case-flow management in the rules. Different kinds of cases currently take on an average the same duration of time to be disposed. An empirical study should be carried out to develop disposal timelines, and limit the number of cases listed per day (some benches have listed more than 100 cases per day) to minimize adjournments.
- An empirical study should be carried out to develop disposal timelines, and limit the number of cases listed per day (some benches have listed more than 100 cases per day) to minimize adjournments.
- The hearing process could also be streamlined by requiring the parties to engage in a pre-hearing meeting to determine a schedule for hearings.
- The ITAT should also consider publishing periodic reports about its functioning. This will provide a valuable resource for reinforcing trust in the institution by allowing for introspection within the institution and feedback from the public.
The redrafting of the rules provides an opportunity for the ITAT to demonstrate its ability to be one of the leading dispute-resolution forums in India and take the lead in introducing global best practices in the Indian judiciary. Whether they will take up this challenge remains to be seen.
Union Minister of State (IC) for Power, Coal, New & Renewable Energy and Mines, Shri PiyushGoyal launched here today the ‘MERIT app (Merit Order Despatch of Electricity for Rejuvenation of Income and Transparency)’ and the e-bidding portal for providing e-Bidding solution to States to select Independent Power Producers (IPPs) for procurement of power by transferring their domestic coal under the scheme of flexibility in utilization of domestic coal.
In this direction, a web portal and mobile apps for Merit Order Despatch of Electricity (MERIT) have been developed in association with POSOCO. The app displays extensive array of information regarding the merit order such as daily state-wise marginal variable costs of all generators, daily source-wise power purchases of respective states/UTs with source-wise fixed and variable costs, energy volumes and purchase prices. The app also gives information regarding reasons for deviation from merit order such as must run conditions, transmission constraints etc.
Today, the Minister also launched the e-Bidding portal, which has been designed to facilitate States in inviting bids for procurement of power from the prospective IPPs in transparent and fair manner. The successful bidder shall be selected through e-Reverse Bidding process.
Advantages | E-Bidding
- Empowerment of the Consumer and participative governance.
- Transparent information dissemination pertaining to marginal variable cost and source wise purchase of electricity.
- Promotes economy and efficiency in operations.
- Helps understand the utility portfolio and its complexity.
- Optimization of the power procurement costs.
- Facilitates renewable integration and handling of the variability and uncertainty of renewables.
- Indication of supply side reliability and adequacy.
- The flexibility in utilization of domestic coal scheme envisages transferring coal to more efficient IPPs generating stations, leading to lower generation costs and ultimately lesser cost of electricity for the consumers.
Dr.Jitendra Singh launched a new training programme Comprehensive Online Modified Modules on Induction Training ( COMMIT ) for State Government officials.
The objective of this training programme is to improve the public service delivery mechanism and provide citizen-centric administration through capacity building of officials who interact with the citizens on day-to-day basis.
- The new training programme will supplement the earlier training programme and the advantage of COMMIT is that it is cost-effective and has the potential to cover about 3.3 lakh officials annually, compared to 10,000 officials under existing 12-Day Induction Training Programme (ITP).
- COMMIT will be launched in 6 States of Assam, Haryana, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and West Bengal initially on a pilot basis during the current financial year 2017-18 and within next year it is expected to cover all India level.
- COMMIT has been designed in such a way that it allows to translate the content in local/regional languages.
- The COMMIT programme, developed by DoPT in collaboration with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), will supplement the existing 12-Day ITP launched in 2014-15 for newly recruited state Government officials to develop in them Generic & Domain specific competencies.
- The programme will be implemented through State Administrative Training Institutes (ATIs).
National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) is entrusted with responsibility to provide legal aid inter-alia to all persons in custody. NALSA launched a Web Application for free Legal Services to Prisoners and the Legal Services Management System developed through the NIC.
- Through Web Application, the State Legal Services Authorities and District Legal Services Authorities shall feed the data for each individual prison inmate in the jails within their jurisdiction, with regard to their being represented through a counsel in the court.
- The software will be able to generate reports showing the total number of inmates, number of inmates unrepresented, number of inmates represented by legal services lawyers and the number of inmates represented by private lawyers.
- All the above information can be generated State wise, District wise and also in respect of each jail.
- The reports can also be generated by the period of incarceration, which will in turn generate information with regard to prisoners eligible for bail under Section 436-A CrPC.
The said application shall make the legal services system more transparent; this application will be universally useful for all the relevant authorities to monitor the grant of legal aid to the prisoners in order to ensure that absolutely no prisoner goes unrepresented right from the first day of his production in the court.
The first ever Industry-Academia mission to accelerate biopharmaceutical development in India will be formally launched in New Delhi on 30th June 2017.
Details | Biopharma
- The program named Innovate in India (i3) will witness an investment of USD 250 million with USD 125 million as a loan from World Bank and is anticipated to be a game changer for the Indian Biopharmaceutical industry.
- It aspires to create an enabling ecosystem to promote entrepreneurship and indigenous manufacturing in the sector.
- i3 is committed to addressing these gaps with a Mission to make India a hub for design and development of novel, affordable and effective biopharmaceutical products and solutions.
- The Mission to be implemented by Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), a Public Sector Undertaking of Department of Biotechnology will bring together expertise from national and international corridors to provide strategic guidance and direction to move promising solutions through the product development value chain.
Aim | Biopharma
The aim of the Mission is to “Enable and nurture an ecosystem for preparing India’s technological and product development capabilities in biopharmaceuticals to a level that will be globally competitive over the next decade, and transform the health standards of India’s population through affordable product development”
Significance | Biopharma
- As a flagship program of the Government of India in collaboration with World Bank, it promises to boost the growth curve for domestic biopharma in India by accelerating the translation of research concepts into viable products, supporting clinical validation, enabling sustainable networks for collaboration between industry and academia, and supporting entrepreneurial ecosystem amongst many others. Currently India has only 2.8% share in the global biopharmaceutical market, the program would elevate this to 5% resulting in an additional business opportunity of 16 Billion USD.
- The Mission will provide a holistic and integrated approach to strengthen and support the entire product development value chain for accelerating the research leads to product development. This will help not only in immediate product development addressing public health needs, but will also help to create an ecosystem which will facilitate development of a continuous pipeline of products.
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has given its approval to fourth tranche recommendations of NITI Aayog on strategic disinvestment of CPSE (strategic disinvestment of Air India and five of its subsidiaries) based on the recommendations of Core Group of Secretaries on Disinvestment (CGD).
- ‘In principle’ approval for considering strategic Air India disinvestment and five of its subsidiaries.
- Constitution of an Air India-specific Alternative Mechanism headed by Minister of Finance including Minister for Civil Aviation and such other Minister(s) to guide the process on strategic disinvestment from time to time and decide the following –
- Treatment of unsustainable debt of Air India;
- Hiving off of certain assets to a shell company;
- Demerger and strategic disinvestment of three profit-making subsidiaries;
- The quantum of disinvestment; and
- The universe of bidders.
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