Use of Space Technology in Agriculture Sector
- The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare has been pro-active in using the space technology in agricultural sector.
- The Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare established a Centre, called Mahalanobis National Crop Forecast Centre, in 2012, for operationalisation of the space technology developed in the ISRO, for crop production forecasting.
- The Department has another centre called Soil and Land Use Survey of India, which uses satellite data for soil resources mapping.
- Currently, the Department is using space technology for its various programmes such as-
- Forecasting Agricultural Output using Space, Agro-meteorology and Land-based Observations(FASAL) project.
- Coordinated programame on Horticulture Assessment and Management using geoiNformatics (CHAMAN) project.
- National Agricultural Drought Assessment and Monitoring System (NADAMS)
- Rice-Fallow Area Mapping and intensification
- Geo tagging of infrastructure and assets created under Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana.
- Crop Insurance.
- The space technology helps getting fast and unbiased information about the crop situation in the country.
- It provides digital data, which is amenable to various analysis. Because of its synoptic view, it provides images of the whole country in a very short duration.
- Hence, this data can be used for various programmes, which need information on crop type, crop area estimates, crop condition, crop damages, crop growth etc.
- The Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare had launched KISAN [C(K)rop Insurance using Space technology and geoiNformatcs] project during October 2015.
- The project envisaged use of high-resolution remote sensing data for optimum crop cutting experiment planning and improving yield estimation.
- The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has formulated a Scheme Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (KUSUM). The Scheme is currently under the process of seeking approval.
- The proposal on KUSUM Scheme provides for :-
- installation of grid-connected solar power plants each of Capacity up to 2 MW in the rural areas;
- installation of standalone off-grid solar water pumps to fulfil irrigation needs of farmers not connected to grid; and
- solarisation of existing grid-connected agriculture pumps to make farmers independent of grid supply and also enable them to sell surplus solar power generated to DISCOM and get extra income.
Various initiatives taken towards combating and adapting to climate change
- MoEF&CC released a publication in New Delhi on climate actions in India titled India – Spearheading Climate Solutions.
- This publication mentions the key actions India has taken under various sectors towards combating and adapting to climate change.
- Climate change has become a global problem and the continuing change in climate across the world is posing threat to our environment and society.
- A number of new policies and initiatives in various sectors like e-mobility, green transportation, renewable energy, waste management, afforestation, water, etc. have also been introduced to minimise the impact of climate change.
- Some of the key initiatives of Government include the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC), National Adaptation Fund on Climate Change (NAFCC), Climate Change Action Programme (CCAP) and State Action Plan on Climate Change (SAPCC)
- The ambitious goal of generating 175 GW of renewable energy by 2022, smart cities, electric vehicles, energy efficiency initiatives, leapfrogging from Bharat Stage -IV to Bharat Stage-VI emission norms by April 2020 etc. have been undertaken proactively to minimise the impact of climate change.
- The renewable energy capacity stands at more than 74 GW today which includes about 25 GW from solar.
- India’s forest and tree cover has increased by 1 percent as compared to assessment of 2015.
- Schemes like UJALA for LED distribution has crossed the number of 320 million while UJJWALA for distributing clean cooking stoves to women below poverty line has covered more than 63 million households.
- India recently submitted its Second Biennial Update Report (BUR) to UNFCCC in December 2018 as per the reporting obligations under the convention.
- The report brings out the fact that emission intensity of India’s GDP came down by 21% between 2005 & 2014 and India’s achievement of climate goal for pre-2020 period is on track.
Some of the major initiatives included in the publication are:
- India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) which covers eight major missions on Solar, Enhanced Energy Efficiency, Sustainable Habitat, Water, Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem, Green India, Sustainable Agriculture and Strategic Knowledge on Climate Change.
- International Solar Alliances (ISA)
- State Action Plan on Climate Change (SAPCC)
- FAME Scheme – for E-mobility
- Atal Mission for Rejuvenation & Urban Transformation (AMRUT) – for Smart Cities
- Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana – for access to clean cooking fuel
- UJALA scheme – for embracing energy efficient LED bulbs
- Swachh Bharat Mission
RBI Report on Trend and Progress of Banking in India 2017-18
- As per the RBI’s Report on Trend and Progress of Banking in India 2017-18, the proportion of persons joining the formal financial system has more than doubled since 2011 and by 2017, it had reached 80 per cent of the Indian population – comparable with China and better than other BRICS peers.
- Within a span of four years, the total number of accounts opened under the PMJDY expanded to 328 million, with Rs.851 billion deposits as on September 28, 2018.
- Of these accounts, 59.1 per cent were opened at branches located in rural and semi-urban centres.
- The report also records that the role of business correspondents (BCs) in expanding the reach of banking services in rural areas is gaining acceptance and recognition.
- It is evident from the growth of 28 per cent in the number of transactions put through by BCs through the information and computer technology (ICT) channel.
About Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana
- With a view to increase banking penetration and promote financial inclusion, Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) was launched on 28thAugust 2014 to provide affordable financial services to all citizens within a reasonable distance.
- As on 23.01.2019,a total of 34.03 crore accounts have been opened under PMJDY with deposit balance of Rs. 88,566.92 crore.
- 53% of the Jan Dhan account holders are women, 59% accounts are in rural and semi-urban areas.
- To facilitate banking transactions, 27.17 crore RuPay Debit cards with an in-built accident insurance coverage have been issued to beneficiaries under PMJDY.
- Also, an overdraft (OD) facility of Rs. 5,000 (since revised to Rs.10,000) is available to provide hassle free credit to the beneficiaries under PMJDY for meeting their exigencies, without insistence on security and end-use.
- PMJDY account holders are also eligible for loans under Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana (PMMY) and other loan products offered by different banks.
- To give impetus to financial inclusion initiatives of the Government, the PMJDY program has been extended beyond 14.8.2018 with the focus on opening of accounts shifting from every household to every unbanked adult and making the scheme more attractive with following modifications:
- Existing OD limit revised from Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 10,000.
- No conditions attached for active PMJDY accounts availing OD upto Rs. 2,000.
- Age limit for availing OD facility revised from 18-60 years to 18-65 years.
- Accident Insurance cover for new RuPay card holders raised from existing Rs.1 lakh to Rs. 2 lakhs for new PMJDY accounts opened after 28.8.2018.
Use of Space Technology for Border Management
- Union Government has formed a Task Force for identifying areas for use of space technology in improving border management.
- Task Force is headed by Joint Secretary (Border Management) with members from Border Guarding Forces (BGFs) and ISRO.
- Details of the areas identified for use of space technology are as under: –
- Island development and security
- Border Surveillance
- Communication and Navigation
- GIS and Operations Planning System
- Border Infrastructure Monitoring
Schemes of Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment for various sections
Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana
- The Department of Social Justice and Empowerment has launched the Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana (RVY) on 1stApril 2017.
- Its objective is to provide senior citizens, belonging to BPL category and suffering from age related disabilities/ infirmities, with physical aids and assisted living devices such as walking sticks, elbow crutches, walkers/ crutches, tripods/ quad-pods, hearing aids, wheelchairs, artificial dentures and spectacles free of cost to the beneficiary senior citizens.
- The scheme is entirely funded from the Senior Citizen’s Welfare Fund (SCWF).
- Under the Scheme funds are not released to the different States/UTs but to the sole Implemented Agency i.e. ‘Artificial Limbs Manufacturing Corporation (ALIMCO)’, a PSU under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
Taxation of Digital Businesses
- The Government has not held any consultation regarding taxation of digital businesses as such.
- However, to address the challenges posed by the enterprises who conduct their business through digital means and carry-out activities in the country remotely, the following measures have been taken:
- A new levy by the name of Equalisation Levy was introduced vide Chapter VIII of the Finance Act, 2016.
- The introduction of the levy was based on the recommendations of a Committee constituted by the Government to deliberate on the issue of taxation of the digital economy in the light of the report on Action Plan 1 of the OECD Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) project and suggest possible measures.
- Presently, the levy is charged @ 6% of the amount of consideration for specified services received or receivable by a non-resident not having permanent establishment in India, from a resident in India who carries out business or profession, or from a non-resident having permanent establishment in India,where the aggregate amount of such consideration exceeds one lakh rupees in a previous year.
- Section 9(1)(i) of the Income-tax Act, 1961 was amended to bring in the concept of Significant Economic Presence for establishing business connection in the case of non-resident in India. Accordingly, significant economic presence shall mean–
- Any transaction in respect of any goods, services or property carried out by a non-resident in India including provision of download of data or software in India if the aggregate of payments arising from such transaction or transactions during the previous year exceeds the amount as may be prescribed; or
- Systematic and continuous soliciting of its business activities or engaging in interaction with such number of users as may be prescribed, in India through digital means.
- In order to prescribe the thresholds as mentioned above, suggestions/comments of stakeholders and the general public have been invited in order to prescribe the thresholds to establish significant economic presence of a non-resident in India.
- If digital businesses operated by non-residents are structured to artificially avoid establishment of a business connection or permanent establishment in India, including by way of claiming the activities carried out in India to be preparatory or auxiliary in nature, the GAAR provisions under the Income-tax Act may become applicable to the income of such digital businesses in India.
- Signing of the Multilateral Instrument is unlikely to address the broader tax challenges of digitalisation of economy owing to the redundancy of physical presence-based nexus.
- The imposition of Equalization Levy has led to increase in tax collection. The collection under the Equalisation levy exceeded Rs. 550 crores for FY 2017-18.
- Further, the introduction of taxation based on significant economic presence is also expected to increase tax collection as it seeks to widen the tax base in India by establishing business connection and charging to tax income earned by digital businesses which operate out of jurisdictions with which India has not entered into a Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA).
- However, in respect of digital businesses operating out of jurisdictions with which India has already entered into a DTAA, significant economic presence will only be effective after renegotiation of such DTAA which will be based on international consensus.