• Current Affair , 17th March 2020


    1. Ministry of Tourism has identified 17 sites across the country

    • Pursuant to the Budget Announcements of year 2018-19 and year 2019-20 Ministry of Tourism has identified 17 sites in 12 clusters in the country for development as Iconic Tourist Sites namely Taj Mahal & Fatehpur Sikri (Uttar Pradesh), Ajanta & Ellora (Maharashtra), Humayun’s Tomb, Red Fort & Qutub Minar (Delhi), Colva (Goa), Amer Fort (Rajasthan), Somnath & Dholavira (Gujarat), Khajuraho (Madhya Pradesh), Hampi (Karnataka), Mahabalipuram (Tamil Nadu), Kaziranga (Assam), Kumarakom (Kerala) and Mahabodhi Temple (Bihar).
    • The Ministry shall be developing the above sites in an integrated manner with focus on issues concerning connectivity to the destination, better facilities/experience for the tourists at the site, skill development, involvement of local community, promotion & branding and by bringing private investment. Availability of land free from all incumberances for the proposed developments under the scheme is the responsibility of the respective State Governments/UT administrations.
    • This information was given by the Minister of State (I/c) of Culture and Tourism, Shri Prahlad Singh Patel in a written reply in the Lok Sabha today.

    2. India has 38 World Heritage Sites at present

    • At present, India has 38 World Heritage Sites. The world heritage sites are well conserved and in good shape.
    The details of World Heritage Sites are as below:-

    Under Protection of Archaeological Survey of India (22)
    Name of Site State

    1. Agra Fort (1983) Uttar Pradesh
    2. Ajanta Caves (1983) Maharashtra
    3. Ellora Caves (1983) Maharashtra
    4. Taj Mahal (1983) Uttar Pradesh
    5. Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram (1984) Tamil Nadu
    6. Sun Temple, Konarak (1984) Odisha
    7. Churches and Convents of Goa (1986) Goa
    8. Fatehpur Sikri (1986) Uttar Pradesh
    9. Group of Monuments at Hampi (1986) Karnataka
    10. Khajuraho, Group of Temples (1986) Madhya Pradesh
    11. Elephanta Caves ( 1987) Maharashtra
    12. Great Living Chola Temples at Thanjavur, Gangaikondacholapuram and Darasuram (1987 & 2004) Tamil Nadu
    13. Group of Monuments at Pattadakal (1987) Karnataka
    14. Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi (1989) Madhya Pradesh
    15. Humayun’s Tomb, Delhi (1993) Delhi
    16. Qutb Minar and its Monuments, Delhi (1993) Delhi
    17. Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka (2003) Madhya Pradesh
    18. Champaner-Pavagarh Archaeological Park (2004) Gujarat
    19. Red Fort Complex, Delhi (2007) Delhi
    20. Hill Forts of Rajasthan
    (Chittaurgarh, Kumbhalgarh, Jaisalmer and Ranthambhore, Amber and Gagron Forts) (2013)
    (Amber and Gagron Forts are under protection of Rajasthan State Archaeology and Museums) Rajasthan
    21. Rani-ki-Vav (The Queen’s Stepwell) at Patan (2014) Gujarat
    22. Archaeological Site of Nalanda Mahavihara (Nalanda University) at Nalanda (2016) Bihar

    Under Protection of Ministry of Railways (2)
    23. Mountain Railways of India ( Darjeeling,1999), Nilgiri (2005), Kalka-Shimla(2008) West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Himachal Pradesh
    24. Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus) (2004) Maharashtra

    Under Protection of Bodhgaya Temple Management Committee (1)
    25 Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya, (2002) Bihar

    Under Protection of Rajasthan State Archaeology and Museums (1)
    26. The Jantar Mantar, Jaipur (2010) Rajasthan

    Under Protection of Chandigarh Administration (1)
    27. The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier, an Outstanding Contribution to the Modern Movement (2016) Chandigarh

    Under Protection of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (1)
    28. Historic City of Ahmedabad (2017) Gujarat

    Under Protection of Bombay Municipal Corporation (1)
    29. Victorian and Art Deco Ensemble of Mumbai (2018) Govt of Maharashtra

    Under Protection of Jaipur Municipal Corporation (1)
    30. Jaipur City, Rajasthan (2019) Govt of Rajasthan


    Under Protection of Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Changes
    31. Kaziranga National Park (1985) Assam
    32. Keoladeo National Park (1985) Rajasthan
    33. Manas Wildlife Sanctuary (1985) Assam
    34. Sunderbans National Park (1987) West Bengal
    35. Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks (1988, 2005) Uttarakhand
    36. Western Ghats (2012) Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra,Tamil Nadu
    37 Great Himalayan National Park (2014) Himachal Pradesh

    MIXED SITE: (1)

    Under Protection of Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Changes
    38. Khangchendzonga National Park (2016) Sikkim

    This information was given by the Minister of State (I/c) of Culture and Tourism, Shri Prahlad Singh Patel in a written reply in the Lok Sabha today.

    3. Government has launched Indian Culture Portal to showcase rich cultural heritage of India-Shri Prahlad Singh Patel

    • An online portal, namely Indian Culture Portal was launched on 10th December, 2019 to showcase information about the rich cultural heritage of India across the globe.
    • The Indian Culture Portal is available in two languages i.e. Hindi and English.
    • The portal will create awareness about both the tangible and intangible cultural heritage of India, through the content available on the portal, which comprises mainly of rare books, e-books, manuscripts, artefacts from museums, virtual galleries, archives, photo archives, gazetteers, Indian National Bibliography, videos, detailed accounts of Indian UNESCO World Heritage site, Musical Instruments of India, write-ups and beautiful pictures on cuisines, festivals, paintings, folk art and classical art from different States of India etc.
    • This information was given by the Minister of State (I/c) of Culture and Tourism, Shri Prahlad Singh Patel in a written reply in the Lok Sabha today.

    4. Development Action Plan for Scheduled Tribes

    • 41 Central Ministries / Departments have to earmark funds for welfare and development of Scheduled Tribes under various schemes.
    • These earmarked funds termed Scheduled Tribes Component are between 4.3% to 10% of schematic outlays except in the case of Ministry of Tribal Affairs, where its entire schematic outlays is for Scheduled Tribes. During current financial year, allocation under Schedule Tribe Components is given below:-
    • In so far as Ministry of Tribal Affairs is concerned, outlay vis a vis expenditure is given below. Ministry of Tribal Affairs has ensured full utilization of its outlay for Welfare and development of Scheduled Tribes and area.
    Year BE Expenditure %age Exp of BE
    2016-17 4800.14 4793.96 99.87
    2017-18 5300.14 5285.67 99.73
    2018-19 5957.18 5954.74 99.96

    • Utilization of funds under Scheduled Tribe Component (STC) is the responsibility of
    respective Ministries / Departments. Review of performance under STC of various Ministries / Departments is conducted to ensure that funds are utilized for Development and Welfare of Scheduled Tribes by all concerned.
    • Allocation made by Central Ministries for welfare of STs (STC) for 2019-20
    SL.NO. MINISTRY/DEPARTMENT Earmarking Percentage Prescribed STC Allocation 2019-2020
    (Rs. in crore)
    1 Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers’ Welfare 8.6 11168.01
    2 Department of Agricultural Research and Education 4.3 114.81
    3 Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH)
    4 Ministry of Coal 8.6 94.35
    5 Department of Commerce* 4.3 25.01
    6 Department of Telecommunications 4.3 800.57
    7 Department of Consumer Affairs* 4.3 2.66
    8 Department of Food and Public Distribution* 4.3 2.00
    9 Ministry of Culture 4.3 35.10
    10 Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region 8.6 810.50
    11 Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology 6.7 251.32
    12 Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change 8.6 102.50
    13 Department of Fisheries# 8.6 53.83
    14 Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying 8.6 235.73
    15 Ministry of Food Processing Industries 4.3 47.34
    16 Department of Health and Family Welfare 8.6 4042.09
    17 Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs 4.3 324.71
    18 Department of School Education and Literacy 10.7 5831.51
    19 Department of Higher Education 8.6 1605.00
    20 Department of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation
    21 Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation 10 1999.47
    22 Ministry of Labour and Employment 8.6 929.06
    23 Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises 8.6 560.39
    24 Ministry of Mines 4.3 25.55
    25 Ministry of New and Renewable Energy 8.6 441.00
    26 Ministry of Panchayati Raj 8.6 62.82
    27 Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas 4.3 1570.21
    28 Ministry of Power 8.6 803.79
    29 Ministry of Road Transport and Highways 4.3 2610.00
    30 Department of Rural Development* 17.5 5984.12
    31 Department of Land Resources 10 221.60
    32 Department of Science and Technology 4.3 115.78
    33 Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship 8.6 214.59
    34 Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities 8.6 88.22
    35 Ministry of Textiles 8.6 216.99
    36 Ministry of Tourism 4.3 90.00
    37 Ministry of Tribal Affairs 100 6847.89
    38 Ministry of Women and Child Development 8.6 2486.64
    39 Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports 8.6 161.17
    Grand Total 51283.5

    • * Expenditures in the nature of universal coverage including STs or neutral have not been taken into account by the following Ministries for earmarking STC funds:
    • (i) Department of Food and Public Distribution
    • (ii) Department of Consumer Affairs
    • (iii) Department of Rural Development
    • (iv) Department of Commerce
    • (v) Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas

    • # Separate allocation has been made by Department of Fisheries during 2019-20 (Earlier it was integral with Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries)
    • This information was given by Union Minister of State for Tribal Affairs Smt. Renuka Singh Saruta in a written reply in Lok Sabha today.

    5. Eklavya Model Residential Schools

    • The scheme of Eklavya Model Residential Schools (EMRSs) was introduced in the year 1997-98 with an objective to provide quality middle and high-level education to Scheduled Tribe (ST) students in remote areas in order to enable them to avail of reservation in high and professional educational courses and get jobs in government and public and private sectors.
    As per budget announcement 2018-19, every block having 50% or more ST population and at least 20,000 ST persons is to have an EMRS by the year 2022.A total number of 438 EMRSs have so far been sanctioned by the Ministry, out of which 285 are functional. As per existing guidelines, the total number of EMRSs being set up upto the year 2022 is 740.

    A statement indicating state-wise number of schools sanctioned/ functional with gender-wise enrolment along with new schools to be sanctioned by 2022 is given below:-

    Sl. No Name of the State No of Schools Sanctioned No of Functional Schools Enrollment during 2019-20 New schools to be sanctioned by 2022
    Male Female
    1 Andhra Pradesh 19 19 1213 2211 9
    2 Arunachal Pradesh 8 2 101 107 4
    3 Assam 5 1 240 240 12
    4 Bihar 2 0 0 0 1
    5 Chhattisgarh 42 42 4702 3259 33
    6 Dadra & Nagar Haveli 0 0 0 0 1
    7 Gujarat 35 35 4938 5218 13
    8 Himachal Pradesh 4 4 156 156 0
    9 Jammu & Kashmir 6 0 0 0 0
    10 Jharkhand 46 13 1907 1651 46
    11 Karnataka 12 10 1606 1447 0
    12 Kerala 4 2 258 277 0
    13 Ladakh 2 0 0 0 1
    14 Madhya Pradesh 45 45 5441 7505 27
    15 Maharashtra 25 24 2579 2488 14
    16 Manipur 10 3 694 746 12
    17 Meghalaya 15 0 0 0 25
    18 Mizoram 11 2 201 195 6
    19 Nagaland 12 3 312 307 10
    20 Odisha 57 19 2907 2914 62
    21 Rajasthan 22 18 3224 1723 9
    22 Sikkim 4 4 482 497 0
    23 Tamil Nadu 8 8 1219 967 0
    24 Telangana 16 16 1920 2040 7
    25 Tripura 13 5 866 874 8
    26 Uttar Pradesh 4 2 228 245 0
    27 Uttarakhand 3 1 200 193 1
    28 West Bengal 8 7 1430 1307 1
    Grand Total 438 285 36824 36567 302

    • This information was given by Union Minister of State for Tribal Affairs Smt. Renuka Singh Saruta in a written reply in Lok Sabha today.

    6. Online Platform to Promote Tribal Handicrafts

    Ministry of Tribal Affairs through Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India Limited (TRIFED) has already developed an e-commerce portal ‘tribesindia.com’ and also using e-marketing channels like Amazon.com, Flipkart.com, Paytm, Snapdeal.com and GeM to market tribal products including promotion of tribal handicrafts. Under this initiative, the sale realized through various e-commerce portals is given below:-
    Sl. No. Year (Rs in Lakh)
    1 2016-17 2.3
    2 2017-18 5.5
    3 2018-19 25.49
    4 2019-20
    (as on 29.02.2020) 67.69

    This information was given by Union Minister of State for Tribal Affairs Smt. Renuka Singh Saruta in a written reply in Lok Sabha.

    7. Employees’ Pension Scheme (Amendment) Scheme, 2020

    • Representations have been received from individual Employees’ Pension Scheme (EPS), 1995 pensioners as well as various pensioners associations raising issue of amendments in EPS, 1995 as well as demands, inter-alia, regarding enhancement of minimum monthly pension and restoration of commuted value of pension.
    • Considering the demands of EPS, 1995 pensioners, the Government had constituted a High Empowered Monitoring Committee for complete evaluation and review of EPS, 1995. Based on Committee’s recommendation, the Government vide Notification G.S.R. No. 132(E) dated 20.02.2020 has notified decision to restore normal pension after completion of fifteen years from the date of such commutation, in respect of those members who availed the benefit of commutation of pension under the erstwhile paragraph 12A of this Scheme, on or before the 25th day of September, 2008.
    • The State/UT-wise details of number of employees enrolled under EPS, 1995 at present are at Annexure I.
    • Annexure I
    State/UT-wise details of number of employees enrolled under EPS, 1995
    No. State/UT Number of EPS, 1995 Members
    2 ANDHRA PRADESH 4894239
    4 ASSAM 1002369
    5 BIHAR 1810148
    6 CHANDIGARH 2773032
    7 CHHATTISGARH 2120580
    8 DELHI 19340659
    9 GOA 1555143
    10 GUJARAT 18925544
    11 HARYANA 18840638
    12 HIMACHAL PRADESH 1779268
    13 JHARKHAND 2438508
    14 KARNATAKA 28574372
    15 KERALA 3608629
    16 MADHYA PRADESH 5579539
    17 MAHARASHTRA 48542645
    18 MANIPUR 40695
    19 MEGHALAYA 120929
    20 MIZORAM 10007
    21 NAGALAND 24928
    22 ODISHA 3533218
    23 PUNJAB 4314283
    24 RAJASTHAN 6251397
    25 TAMIL NADU 28826389
    26 TELANGANA 13444683
    27 TRIPURA 106403
    28 UTTAR PRADESH 11330944
    29 UTTARAKHAND 3746454
    30 WEST BENGAL 10469959

    • The State/UT-wise details of the amount distributed under EPS, 1995 during each of the last three years including the current year are at Annexure II.
    • Annexure I
    State/UT-wise details of the amount (in Rs.) distributed under EPS, 1995
    No. State/UT 2017-18 2018-19 2019-20
    1 ANDAMAN AND NICOBAR ISLANDS 61497107 62773604 70272071
    2 ANDHRA PRADESH 1820048399 1837166781 1765949928
    3 ARUNACHAL PRADESH 10866361 14758448 14173636
    4 ASSAM 773713407 932873353 880834211
    5 BIHAR 1653339800 1857398598 1673833899
    6 CHANDIGARH 1614396700 2221443125 1841556167
    7 CHHATTISGARH 1902541161 2030108245 2028321738
    8 DELHI 4444734231 5376402712 5065776244
    9 GOA 752720855 778092415 671802182
    10 GUJARAT 3799861328 3866846976 3711775330
    11 HARYANA 2946290168 2980933921 2643033792
    12 HIMACHAL PRADESH 1213953849 1263977324 1177646186
    13 JHARKHAND 1745556434 1820142321 1759222457
    14 KARNATAKA 4351034413 3917371170 3446372700
    15 KERALA 2934012504 3308418201 3250966339
    16 MADHYA PRADESH 1552510160 1745126898 1536409360
    17 MAHARASHTRA 7314959982 6119175248 4860107122
    18 MANIPUR 28115037 40466950 36423753
    19 MEGHALAYA 88095948 102186527 90112183
    20 MIZORAM 6627577 7585301 7449618
    21 NAGALAND 22956418 28794944 29193288
    22 ODISHA 1996070775 2198978751 2296623899
    23 PUNJAB 1135648802 1214518583 1234162850
    24 RAJASTHAN 1951157372 2406231827 2087827011
    25 TAMIL NADU 4810558218 4597522638 3885314268
    26 TELANGANA 4327407810 4416820213 3745388028
    27 TRIPURA 151352846 164311264 179142181
    28 UTTAR PRADESH 1697131570 1878477447 1785924637
    29 UTTARAKHAND 1287535813 1197591602 1179233249
    30 WEST BENGAL 2902303074 2906927989 3074741443

    • This information was given by Shri Santosh Kumar Gangwar Union Minister of State (I/C) for Labour and Employment in written reply to a question in Lok Sabha today.

    8. Irrigation Projects in Drought-Prone Areas

    • A Special Package for completion of 8 Major/Medium Irrigation (MMI) and 83 Surface Minor Irrigation (SMI) projects benefiting Vidarbha, Marathwada and other chronically drought prone areas of rest of Maharashtra having estimated balance cost of Rs.13651.61 crore (as on 01.04.2018) has been approved during 2018-19.
    • Central Assistance (CA) component amounts to Rs.3831.41 crore. The targeted additional potential through these projects is 3.77 LHa. as on 1.04.2018.
    • CA of Rs.500 crore and Rs.300 crore has been released to the Government of Maharashtra under this package during 2018-19 and 2019-20 (so far) respectively. Potential of 15,435 ha. has been created through the projects during 2018-2019. Nine SMI projects out of above have been reported to be completed.
    • The Special Package was approved for completion of above Projects benefitting drought prone areas in Vidarbha and Marathwada and rest of Maharashtra.
    • Further, during 2016-17, Ninety-Nine (99) on-going Major/Medium irrigation projects (and 7 phases)in the country (including 59 projects benefitting drought prone areas) under PMKSY-AIBP having ultimate irrigation potential of 76.03 lakh hectare and balance cost of Rs.77595 crore [Central Assistance (CA) component of Rs.31342 crore] estimated at that time, have been prioritized in consultation with States for completion in phases along with their Command Area Development & Water Management (CADWM) works. Funding mechanism through NABARD has also been approved by the Government for both Central and State Share.
    • Funds are also provided to various States under Surface Minor Irrigation (SMI) and Repair, Renovation and Restoration (RRR) of Water Bodies Schemes under PMKSY as per their guidelines.
    • This information was given in a written reply by the Minister of State for Jal Shakti and Social Justice and Empowerment, Shri Rattan Lal Kataria in Rajya Sabha today.

    9. Uranium Contamination in Ground Water

    • There is prevalence of Uranium concentration above 30 micro-gram per litre (World Health Organization (WHO) provisional guidelines) in some of the localized pockets of few States/UTs in the country.
    • A report brought out by Duke University, USA in association with Central Ground Water Board and State Ground Water departments states that Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Jammu & Kashmir have localised occurrence of Uranium concentration.

    • As per information received from Department of Atomic Energy, elevated uranium level in drinking water may affect human health. Health studies carried out elsewhere in the world suggest that elevated uranium level in drinking water may be associated with kidney toxicity. Further, several studies focusing on health effects have been carried out in Finland among people who use their drilled wells as sources of drinking water having uranium concentrations in the range 5.6 – 3410 ppb. However, no clear clinical symptoms have been observed among the exposed population.

    • The Indian Standard IS 10500: 2012 for Drinking Water specification has specified the maximum acceptable limits for radioactive residues as alpha and beta emitters, values in excess of which render the water not suitable. These requirements take into account all radioactive elements including uranium. No individual radioactive elements have been specifically identified.

    • Further, as per information provided by Bureau of Indian Standard (BIS), they are working to incorporate maximum permissible limit of Uranium as 0.03 mg/l (as per WHO provisional guidelines) in all drinking water standards after following due process.

    • This information was given in a written reply by the Minister of State for Jal Shakti and Social Justice and Empowerment, Shri Rattan Lal Kataria in Rajya Sabha today.

    10. Outcomes of recently held Defexpo

    • The 11th edition of Defexpo was organized from 05-09 February, 2020 at Sector-15, Vrindavan Yojna, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. The theme of the event was “Digital Transformation of Defence”. 856 Domestic and 172 Foreign companies/exhibitors respectively participated in Defexpo 2020.
    • Over 200 partnerships involving Signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs), Transfer of Technology (ToT) and Product launches were concluded during DefExpo 2020.
    • These include 14 MoUs signed at the 5th India-Russia Military Industrial Conference between Russian defence companies and Indian companies under the framework of Inter Government Agreement (IGA) between the two countries.
    • The signing of MoUs/ToTs are a step in the direction to achieve the target of Rs 35,000 crore defence exports target in next 5 years. Government of UP signed 23 MoUs and anticipate an investment of Rs 50,000 crore in the U.P. Defence Corridor.
    The advantages in organizing such events are as under:
    • Defence Exhibitions provide an opportunity for the domestic manufacturing industry to showcase their range of products and services to the prospective foreign companies and try to become a part of their global supply chain.
    • Aligned with the ‘Make in India’ vision, 292 Indian MSMEs participated at subsidised rates.
    • Through the India Pavilion, Innovative technologies by Indian Start-ups were showcased to the world thus giving a fillip to the Indian Defence start-up manufacturing eco-system.
    • This edition received unprecedented response with 1000+ exhibitors, 35+ Foreign Defence Ministers and over 12 lakh visitors.
    • Youth of Uttar Pradesh were exposed to newer avenues in the field of Defence Manufacturing.
    • The exhibition generated a revenue of over Rs. 90 crore and Lucknow received business for Hotels, Food and vehicles renting.
    • Foreign Investment in India will ensue due to the 200 forged partnerships during the exposition.
    Following measures have been taken by the Government to achieve self-reliance in defence production:-
    • Two Defence Industrial Corridors have been established in Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh.
    • Defence Procurement Procedure was revised in 2016 to stimulate the growth of domestic Defence industry. A new category ‘Buy {Indian-IDDM (Indigenously Designed, Developed and Manufactured’)} was introduced to promote indigenous design and development of Defence equipment.
    • ‘Make-II’ category encourages indigenous development by assurance for orders.
    • Department of Defence Production has notified 127 items under Public Procurement Order 2017. Accordingly, DPSUs and OFB are required to give preference to domestic manufacturers while procuring these items.
    • Defence Investor Cell (DIC) has been created in February, 2018 to provide all necessary guidance and information to investors, innovators, MSMEs and Start-ups interested in defence manufacturing in India.
    • An innovation ecosystem to foster innovation and technology development in Defence and Aerospace titled Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) has been launched in April, 2018.
    • FDI Policy has been revised and FDI is allowed under automatic route upto 49% and upto 100% with Government approvals.
    • Defence Products list requiring Industrial Licences has been rationlised.
    • In March, 2019 Government has notified a Policy for indigenization of components and spares used in Defence Platforms.
    This information was given by Raksha Rajya Mantri Shri Shripad Naik in a written reply to Shri Sanjay Seth in Rajya Sabha today.

    11. Efforts to Boost Defence Sector

    The efforts made by Government to boost country’s defence sector during the last two years are as follows:-
    • Industrial licensing: Industrial licensing regime for Indian manufacturers in Defence sector has been liberalized. Defence Products list requiring Industrial Licences has been rationalised and manufacture of most of the parts and components does not require Industrial Licence. The total number of Defence licences issued has more than doubled from 215 as on 31st March, 2014 to 460 till 31st December, 2019 covering total of 275 Companies.
    • FDI: FDI Policy has been revised and under the revised policy. Foreign Investment is allowed under automatic route upto 49% and above 49% through government route, wherever it is likely to result in access to modern technology or for other reasons to be recorded. Significant FDI inflows in Defence and Aerospace sectors have been witnessed.
    • Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP)
    • Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) was revised in 2016. Specific provisions have been introduced for stimulating growth of the domestic defence industry. A new category of procurement ‘Buy {Indian-IDDM (Indigenously Designed, Developed and Manufactured)}’ has been introduced in DPP-2016 to promote indigenous design and development of defence equipments. This category has been accorded top most priority for procurement of Capital equipment. Besides this, preference is being given to ‘Buy (Indian)’ and ‘Buy & Make (Indian)’ categories of capital acquisition over ‘Buy (Global)’ & ‘Buy & Make (Global)’ categories. As a result of the aforesaid initiatives, the Government in the last three years i.e. from 2016-17 to 2018-19 and current year till December, 2019, has accorded Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) to 138 proposals worth Rs.2,69,465.26 crore approximately, under these categories of Capital Procurement which promote domestic manufacturing as per DPP-2016.
    • “Make” Procedure: In February, 2018 a separate procedure for ‘Make-II’ sub-category has been notified wherein a number of industry friendly provisions have been introduced. This effort of the Government to promote industry participation in indigenous development of defence items has yielded extremely encouraging response. Make-II Procedure for implementation at OFB/DPSUs have also been notified in February, 2019.
    • Government has notified the ‘Strategic Partnership (SP)’ Model which envisages establishment of long-term strategic partnerships with Indian entities through a transparent and competitive process, wherein they would tie up with global Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to seek technology transfers to set up domestic manufacturing infrastructure and supply chains.
    • iDEX: Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) framework, was launched with the aim to achieve self-reliance and to foster innovation and technology development in Defence and Aerospace Sector by engaging Industries including MSMEs, startups, individual innovators, R&D institutes and academia.
    • Indigenisation policy: Government has notified a Policy for indigenisation of components and spares used in Defence Platforms in March, 2019 with the objective to create an industry ecosystem which is able to indigenize the imported components (including alloys & special materials) and sub-assemblies for defence equipment and platforms manufactured in India.
    • Defence Corridors: Government has decided to establish two defence industrial corridors to serve as engines of economic development and growth of defence industrial base in the country. They span across Chennai, Hosur, Coimbatore, Salem and Tiruchirappalli in Tamil Nadu and Aligarh, Agra, Jhansi, Kanpur, Chitrakoot and Luchnow in Uttar Pradesh.
    • Department of Defence Production has notified 127 items under Public Procurement Order 2017 notified by Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT). The Defence PSUs and OFB are thereby required to give preference to domestic manufacturers while procuring these items in accordance with the said policy.
    • Testing facilities: The Test facilities/infrastructure available with various Government agencies (OFB, DPSUs, DRDO, DGQA, DGAQA & SHQs) have been made available to private sector with the objective to assist them in design and development of defence systems. The details of test facilities, procedure and other Terms and Conditions are available on websites of respective Government Agencies. An ‘SoP for allocation and utilization of Proof Ranges/Field Firing Ranges for Private Industry’ has also been notified.
    • The Ministry has instituted a new framework titled ‘Mission Raksha Gyan Shakti’ which aims to provide boost to the IPR culture in indigenous defence industry.
    • Defence Investor Cell has been created in the Ministry to provide all necessary information including addressing queries related to investment opportunities, procedures and regulatory requirements for investment in the sector.
    • The process for export clearance has been streamlined and made transparent & online.
    • Offset guidelines have been made flexible by allowing change of Indian Offset Partners (IOPs) and offset components, even in signed contracts.
    During the last two years, the Government has signed Agreements on Defence Cooperation with Argentina, Russia, Serbia, Myanmar, Indonesia, Comoros, Jordan, Madagascar, Uganda, Zambia, Saudi Arabia and Finland.
    This information was given by Raksha Rajya Mantri Shri Shripad Naik in a written reply to Shri P. Bhattacharya in Rajya Sabha today.


    12. India to provide 107.01 million Nepali Rupees for three new school buildings in Nepal

    • The Government of India will provide 107.01 million Nepali Rupees for three new school buildings in Nepal. The schools will be constructed in Darchula, Dhanusha and Kapilvastu districts.
    • The Embassy of India and Nepal’s Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration signed Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) with Mahakali Municipality, Darchula and Mukhiyapatti Musharniya Rural Municipality, Dhanusha in Kathmandu today for the construction of two new school buildings.
    • These schools will be built under the India-Nepal Development Partnership program at a total estimated cost of 73.96 million Nepali Rupees. The new infrastructure will be used by Shree Malikarjun Higher Secondary School at Dhap in Darchula district and Baidyanath Devnarayan Public Higher Secondary School at Tulsiyahi in Dhanusha district.
    • The Government of India will provide funds while construction work, including a call for tender, the award of work and day to day supervision, will be by Mahakali Municipality, Dharchula and Mukhiyapatti Musharniya Rural Municipality, Dhanusha.
    • The projects will be monitored at the federal level by the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration of Nepal and Embassy of India.
    • The Government of India has also committed an amount of 33.05 million Nepali Rupees for the construction of new school buildings for Shivbhari School, Mahrajgunj Municipality in Kapilvastu district.
    • The Embassy of India handed over a cheque of 8.26 million Nepali Rupees as the first installment of its total commitment to the District Coordination Committee Kapilvastu.
    • The Government of India is happy to be associated with these projects which complement the efforts of the Government of Nepal in augmenting infrastructure in the field of education.

    13. Harvard Medical School recommends yoga, meditation to deal with coronavirus anxiety

    • A leading medical school in the United States has recommended Yoga, meditation and controlled breathing to address anxiety issues related to the Novel Coronavirus that has now spread fast across America.

    • There are at least 3,485 cases of the virus in the US, according to the state and local health agencies, governments and the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. The number of deaths due to the deadly virus is 65.

    • The Harvard Medical School said in its latest health guideline that Yoga, meditation and controlled breathing are some tried and true ways to relax.

    • In an article ‘Coping with Coronavirus anxiety’, John Sharp, a board-certified psychiatrist on the faculty at Harvard Medical School and the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles wrote that regular meditation is very calming.

    • He said, news about the virus will likely grow worse, then grow better and urged people to listen to public health experts who can help them navigate the path ahead.

    14. US Federal Reserve slashes key interest rate to almost zero in wake of economic impact of COVID-19

    • The US Federal Reserve slashed the key interest rate to virtually zero in response to the growing economic impact of the new coronavirus.

    • The Fed made its second emergency rate cut in less than two weeks last night, cutting the benchmark borrowing rate to a range of 0-0.25 percent.

    • The rate was previously at this level during the 2008 global financial crisis. The Fed pledged to keep the rates low until it is confident that the economy has weathered recent events.

    • The central bank also announced massive asset purchases, opened its discount lending windows to banks and urged them to use it to help businesses and households. It also removed bank reserve requirements to allow them to use cash backstops.

    • President Donald Trump welcomed the steps taken saying it was phenomenal news.

    • The Fed joined forces with other major central banks to guarantee the global financial system has enough cash to continue to operate.

    • The action was coordinated with the European Central Bank, Bank of England, Bank of Japan, Bank of Canada and the Swiss National Bank.


    15. Taiwan’s Tai Tzu Ying clinches her third women’s singles title of All England Championships

    • In Badminton, Taiwan’s shuttler Tai Tzu Ying clinched her third women’s singles title of the All England Championships at Birmingham in United Kingdom today.

    • Ying beat China’s Chen Yufei in two straight games 21-19, 21-15 in 44 minutes.

    • Earlier in the men’s singles, Denmark’s Victor Axelsen outclassed Taiwan’s Chou Tien-Chen in two straight games 21-13, 21-14 in the summit clash that lasted for about 46 minutes. Indian representation in the competition ended on Friday, ace shuttler PV Sindhu lost in the quarterfinal match by Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara 21-12, 15-21, 13-21.

    16. Ezequiel Garay among five Valencia staff found to be positive for Coronavirus

    • Spanish football club Valencia confirmed the five players and staff have tested positive for coronavirus, including Argentinian defender Ezequiel Garay.

    • Valencia said all those affected were now at home, in good health and obeying self-isolation measures.

    • Garay, who was set to miss the rest of the season with a knee injury, became the first player in La Liga to confirm a positive test earlier yesterday.

    • The club announced on February 28 they would be suspending all non-sporting activity with the first-team.

    • The Spanish football league, La Liga have since suspended all league fixtures for two weeks while clubs have closed down their training grounds and instructed players to train alone from home.

    • UEFA, the governing body of European football will hold a video conference on Tuesday, where the status of Euro 2020, the Champions League and the Europa League will be discussed.

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