Development of Space Technology
- Some of the new developments made in the last three years are as listed below :
- Development of highly polished optical mirrors – for a solar coronographic mission – Aditya-L1.
- Development of large, light-weight collimators with non-cylindrical aperture – for x-ray polarimetric applications – XpoSAT mission.
- Development of indigenous silicon sensors and coatings for optical and IR spectroscopic applications – for payloads on Chandrayaan-2 mission.
- A study committee constituted by ISRO to chart out the long-term program for space science exploration, has prepared a report outlining high priority missions to be taken up.
- These include follow-up missions to Mars, a new mission to Venus and a return to Moon with capability to return samples from extra-terrestrial sources.
- There have been cooperative programs with Canadian Space Agency and UK universities on our astronomy satellite, ASTROSAT ; similar cooperation programs have been established in the past on Chandrayaan-1 mission with NASA and the European Space Agency.
- ISRO through the programme called RESPOND (Sponsored Research) is encouraging academia to participate in the R & D activities.
- Respond programme provides support to research projects in wide range of topics in space technology, space science and applications to universities/ institutions.
- Some of the other recent initiatives for capacity building include setting up of Space Technology Incubation Centres (S-TIC) and Regional Academic Centres for Space (RAC-S).
Indo-Africa Strategic Economic Co-operation
- Minister of Commerce & Industry addressed the interactive session on Indo-Africa Strategic Economic Co-operation in New Delhi.
- Impressive growth in trade between Africa and India stems from a mix of factors, including a growing stock of FDI and deepening economic and political ties illustrated by a number of strategic initiatives, particularly Focus Africa launched by the Government of India in 2002 to boost trade and investment between Africa and India.
- Other key drivers include the Government of India’s Duty-Free Tariff Preference Scheme for Least Developed Countries launched in 2008 which has benefitted 34 African countries.
- Bilateral trade between Africa and India has increased from around USD 7 billion in 2001 to about USD 78 billion in 2014, before moderating to USD 60 billion in 2017, reflecting a commodity price decline.
- There remains substantial untapped trade potential. As per a joint study conducted by Exim Bank of India and Afreximbank, the value of untapped bilateral trade potential between India and Africa is more than USD 42 billion.
- A multi-pronged strategy is needed to provide a more holistic and sustainable approach for tapping this untapped potential.
- Any strategy for enhancing bilateral trade between Africa-India will therefore critically hinge on the scope for value chain integrations in various manufacturing and services segments.
- A resurgent Africa and a rising India can create a new paradigm for South-South Cooperation.
- African countries account for nearly 40% of operational Lines of Credit (LOC) extended by the Government of India. This increase in Indian development assistance is coming at a time when foreign aid of most developed countries has been registering a decline.
Effect of Angel Tax on Indian Startup Ecosystem
- The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) issued notification in April 2018 for easing the norms for providing tax exemption to the Start-up companies.
- Further amended the notification on 4thFebruary 2019.
- As per the notification, an entity is considered as a Start-up:
- Upto a period of seven years from the date of registration
- If it is incorporated as a private limited company (as defined in the Companies Act, 2013)
- or registered as a partnership firm (registered under section 59 of the Partnership Act, 1932)
- or a limited liability partnership (under the Limited Liability Partnership Act, 2008) in India.
- In the case of Start-ups in the biotechnology sector, the period shall be upto ten years from the date of its incorporation and registration.
- Turnover of the entity for any of the financial years since incorporation has not exceeded Rs. 25 crores
- Entity is working towards innovation, development or improvement of products or processes or services, or if it is a scalable business model with a high potential of employment generation or wealth creation.
- Provided that an entity formed by splitting up or reconstruction of an existing business shall not be considered a Start-up.
- A Start-up which is recognised by DPIIT is eligible to apply for approval for the shares already issued or proposed to be issued if the following conditions are fulfilled
- aggregate amount of paid up share capital and share premium of the start-up after the proposed issue of share, if any, does not exceed ten crore rupees.
- The investor or proposed investor shall have
- returned income of Rs. 50 lakh or more for the financial year preceding the year of investment or proposed investment; and
- net worth exceeding Rs. 2 crore or the amount of investment made/proposed to be made in the start-up, whichever is higher, as on the last date of the financial year preceding the year of investment or proposed investment.
- Provided that in case the approval is requested for shares already issued by the Start-up, no application shall be made if assessment order has been passed by assessing officer for the relevant financial year.
- The application, accompanied by the documents specified therein, shall be transmitted by DPIIT to CBDT with the necessary documents.
- CBDT within a period of 45 days from the date of receipt of application from DPIIT may grant approval to the Start-up or decline to grant such approval.
Journey of Sustainable Growth and Change
- A Workshop on MoEFCC-Global Environment Facility, UNDP Small Grants Programme(SGP) was inaugurated in New Delhi by Secretary of MoEFCC.
- UNDP has been supporting the MoEFCC in implementing the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and financed Small Grants Programme (SGP) in India since 1997.
- Projects under the SGP are implemented through a National Host Institution – Centre for Environment Education (CEE), and other NGO partners and stakeholders that has presence in different parts of the country.
- The SGP has been working extensively in the areas of biodiversity conservation, climate change and land degradation.
- Environment degradation such as the destruction of ecosystems and the species that depends upon them, increasing level of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, pollution of international waters, land degradation and the spread of persistent organic pollutants are life – threatening challenges that endanger us all.
- However, it is the poor and vulnerable communities that are most at risk as they are directly dependent on natural resources for their livelihoods and subsistence.
- SGP in India aims to support these vulnerable communities through community led approaches towards environmental conservation and livelihoods enhancement.
- SGP projects in India also contributed and resulted in economic, social, and political benefits, access to credit including job creation and expanded local markets, grater social cohesion and community self- reliance, political and social empowerment and increased food security.
Some of the key achievements of the programme are:
- 110,000 hectares of land brought under sustainable land and resource management in the Western Ghats, Himalayan Front and Arid and Semi-Arid Regions through sustainable measures.
- Measures such as organic farming and community managed enterprises for non-timber forest products; improved agricultural, land and water management practices; and promotion of sustainable income generation activities among the small farm holders
- 85,000 MTs of CO2 emissions reduced through a range of alternative energy and energy efficient technologies such as efficient cook stoves, solar driers, and briquetting units, plastic wasters recycling units, micro-hydro, biomass.
- It also resulted in enhancing the livelihoods of poor and marginalized communities.
MPC’ Sixth Bi-Monthly Statement
- The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) in its Sixth Bi-Monthly Statement decided to reduce the Policy Repo Rate under the Liquidity Adjustment Facility (LAF) by 25 basis points from 6.5 per cent to 6.25 per cent with immediate effect.
- Consequently, the Reverse Repo Rate under the LAF stands adjusted to 6.0 per cent, and the Marginal Standing Facility (MSF) Rate and the Bank Rate to 6.5 per cent.
- The MPC also decided to change the Monetary Policy Stance from Calibrated Tightening to Neutral.
- As against the GDP Growth projection of 7.4% for 2018-19 in the Fifth Bi-monthly Resolution in December 2018, the CSO has estimated GDP growth at 7.2%.
- However, the GDP growth for 2019-20 is projected at 7.4%. The Actual Inflation Outcome at 2.6% in Q3: 2018-19 was marginally lower than the projection.
- The projections of inflation for 2018-19 and H1:2019-20 have been revised downwards from the December resolution.
- Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, said that the assessment of the MPC for growth and inflation outlook is consistent with the Government’s assessment of Inflation and Growth.
Jurisdiction of CBI
- In exercise of powers under Section 2 (1) of Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, 1946, the Central Government constitutes a Special Police Force for investigation in any Union Territory of offences notified under Section 3 of DSPE Act, 1946.
- The power and jurisdiction of this Special Force can be extended by virtue of Section 5 of DSPE Act, 1946 to any other areas/State not being Union Territory for investigation of any offences or classes of offences notified under Section 3 of DSPE Act, 1946 with the consent of the Government of that State.
- Further, Constitutional courts can also entrust any case or class of case for investigation in exercise of inherent jurisdiction even without the consent of the respective State Government.
- Once general or specific consent is granted under Section 6 of DSPE Act, 1946 by the State Government where the case is registered; or when the case is entrusted by the Constitutional courts, the powers and jurisdiction of members of the DSPE (CBI) may extend for investigation as stipulated under Section 5 of DSPE Act, 1946.
- Withdrawal of consent, if any, by a State Government can be affected prospectively and not retrospectively.
- Further, in the cases which are referred by the Constitutional Courts, the entry of CBI cannot be denied by that State as these do not require the consent of the State.
Social Security Benefits to Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups
- The Government is committed for holistic development of Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) across the country.
- Accordingly, a separate scheme namely Development of Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) is being administered by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs for their welfare.
- The scheme is flexible as it enables the States to focus on areas that they consider is relevant to PVTGs and their socio-cultural environment.
- It includes sectors such as education, housing, land distribution, land development, agricultural development, animal husbandry, construction of link roads, installation of non-conventional sources of energy for lighting purpose, social security or any other innovative activity meant for the comprehensive socio-economic development of PVTGs.
- The funds are sanctioned to the State Government on submitting their annual Conservation-cum-Development (CCD) Plan which is considered for appraisal and approval by a Project Appraisal Committee (PAC) in the Ministry.
- The implementation of the scheme is done by the respective State Governments. No reports regarding PVTGs being deprived of basic social security benefits or having been excluded due to Aadhar linking have been received in the Ministry.
Atal Bhujal Yojana
- The World Bank has approved Atal Bhujal Yojana (ABHY), a Rs.6000 Crore scheme, for sustainable management of ground water with community participation.
- The funding pattern is 50:50 between Government of India and World Bank.
- The identified over-exploited (OE) and water stressed areas for the implementation of the scheme fall in the States of Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
- ABHY envisages active participation of the communities in various activities such as formation of Water User Associations, monitoring and disseminating ground water data, water budgeting, preparation & implementation of Gram-panchayat-wise water security plans and IEC activities related to sustainable ground water management.
Setting of New Centres for Artificial Intelligence in Higher Educational Institutions
- In view of increasing use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology across the world, IIT Kharagpur, IIT-Madras, IIIT-Kancheepuram, NIT Silchar, and NIT Bhopal have set up centres for Artificial Intelligence.
- Most of the Higher Educational Institutions viz., IITs, NITs, IIITs, etc. offer various AI related courses such as Deep Learning Foundations & Applications, Foundations of AI and Machine Learning, Reinforcement Learning, Cyber Physical Security, Digital Image Processing, etc.
- The Acts and Statutes governing these Institutions allow them to have academic and research collaboration with Institutions and Universities across the world in various fields.