Cabinet approves ratification of the Paris Agreement
The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval to ratify the Paris Agreement (on Climate Change) on 2nd October 2016, the day of Gandhi Jayanti.
Paris Agreement was adopted by 185 nations last year on 12th December 2015 and India signed the Paris Agreement in New York early this year on 22nd April 2016. A total of 191 countries have signed to the Paris Agreement so far.
As per the provisions of the Paris Agreement, the treaty will come into force as and when 55 countries contributing to 55 % of total global emission ratify the agreement. So far, 61 countries have deposited their instruments of ratification, acceptance or approval accounting in total for 47.79% of the total global greenhouse gas emissions.
India’s decision to ratify the agreement will take the number of cumulative level of emission of countries that have ratified the agreement so far to 51.89%. With the gathering momentum and willingness expressed by several other countries to ratify the agreement before the end of this year, it is expected that the Agreement will enter into force soon and give a thrust to the global actions to address climate change.
With its decision to ratify the Agreement, India will be one of the key countries that will be instrumental in bringing the Paris Agreement into force. Given the critical role that India played in securing international consensus on Paris Agreement, today’s decision will further underline India’s responsive leadership in the community of nations committed to global cause of environmental protection and climate justice.
While agreeing to ratify the Paris Agreement, the Cabinet has also decided that India should declare that India will treat its national laws, its development agenda, availability of means of implementation, its assessment of global commitment to combating climate change, and predictable and affordable access to cleaner source of energy as the context in which the Agreement is being ratified.
Paris Agreement pertains to post-2020 climate actions. In the pre-2020 period, developed countries are to act as per Kyoto Protocol and some developing countries have taken voluntary pledges.
Varistha Pension Bima Yojana, 2003 and Varistha Pension Bima Yojana, 2014
The Union Cabinet under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its ex-post facto approval for the Varishtha Pension Bima Yojana (VPBY) 2003 launched on 14th July, 2003 and Varistha Pension Bima Yojana (VPBY) 2014 launched on 14th August, 2014.
The Schemes are implemented through Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) of India, and the difference between the actual yield earned by LIC on the funds invested under the Scheme and the assured return committed by the Government is paid as subsidy to LIC.
Both are pension schemes intended to give an assured minimum pension to the Senior Citizens based on an assured minimum return on the subscription amount. The pension is envisaged until death from the date of subscription, with payback of the subscription amount on death of the subscriber to the nominee.
Both the schemes VPBY – 2003 and VPBY – 2014 are closed for future subscriptions. However, policies sold during the currency of policy are being serviced as per the commitment of guaranteed 9% return assured by the Government under the schemes.
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Ministerhas approved ‘Project SAKSHAM’, a New Indirect Tax Network (Systems Integration) of the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC).
It will help in:
• implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST),
• extension of the Indian Customs Single Window Interface for Facilitating Trade (SWIFT) and
• other taxpayer-friendly initiatives under Digital India and Ease of Doing Business of Central Board of Excise and Customs.
CBEC’s IT systems need to integrate with the Goods & Services Tax Network (GSTN) for processing of registration, payment and returns data sent by GSTN systems to CBEC, as well as act as a front-end for other modules like Audit, Appeal, Investigation. There is no overlap in the GST-related systems of CBEC and GSTN
Cabinet approves acquisition of 29.9 percent stake in LLC Taas-Yuryakh Neftegazodobycha and 23.9 percent stake in JSC Vankorneft by Indian Consortium
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister has given its approval to an Indian Consortium comprising Oil India Limited (OIL), Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) and Bharat Petro Resources Limited (BPRL) for acquiring 23.9 percent stake in JSC Vankorneft and 29.9 percent stake in LLC Taas-Yuryakh from M/s Rosneft Oil Company (Rosneft), the National Oil Company (NOC) of Russian Federation (Russia). Rosneft operates Vankor and Tass-Yuryakh fields and are its wholly owned subsidiaries.
The acquisition of stake in Vankorneft will provide 6.56 Million Metric Ton of Oil Equivalent (MMTOE) and 29.9 percent stake in Taas-Yuryakh will provide 0.5 MMTOE initially and 1.5 MMTOE by 2019.
The acquisition is in line with India’s stated objective of adding high quality international assets to its Exploration & Production portfolio and thereby augmenting India’s energy security. The Consortium will be paying US $ 2020.35 million for acquiring stake in Vankorneft and US $ 1242 million for acquiring stake in Taas-Yuryakh. Earlier in May 2016 ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL) completed the formalities of acquiring 15% stake in Vankorneft at the cost of US $ 1.284 billion which gave OVL 4.11 MMTOE.
The acquisition will add 8.06 MMTOE to India’s overseas oil and gas asset. It will also provide an opportunity to Indian public sector Oil and Gas companies to absorb newer technologies with Rosneft and British Petroleum (BP). BP acquired 20% stake in Taas-Yuryakh from Rosneft last year.
New Coal Distribution Policy amended to increase annual cap of coal through State Nominated Agencies and amend phrase of Small and Medium Sector
Union Ministry of Coal has issued an order with respect to the amendment to the New Coal Distribution Policy (NCDP), 2007 to increase the annual cap of coal from 4200 tonnes per annum for sale through State Nominated Agencies (SNA) to 10,000 tonnes per annum. In addition to raising the annual cap of coal, the Ministry has also amended the phrase, ‘small and medium sector’, as mentioned in the NCDP to ‘small, medium and others’.
The rationale for the amendment, as cited in the order, is that only small and medium sector consumers, having requirement less than 4200 tonnes per annum were entitled to take coal through SNA, large units having requirement of less than 4200 tonnes per annum were not recommended for coal by the District Industries Centre (DIC).
Moreover, the limit of requirement of less than 4200 tonnes per annum needed to be revised as small units might have expanded over a period of time.
As adequate quantity of coal at notified price through SNA would be available for this sector , this amendment is seen as one of the many steps taken by the Government to improve ease of doing business in the country and make more coal available for the small , medium and other sectors.
Import of Fireworks
Fireworks in India have been declared as restricted item under ITC (HS) in respect of import by Director General of Foreign Trade. The manufacture, possession, use, sale, etc. of any explosive containing Sulphur or sulphurate in admixture with any chlorate is banned in the country.
Possession and sale of fireworks of foreign origin in India is illegal and punishable under the Law.
Till date, no license for import of fireworks has been granted under the Explosives Rules, 2008 by Petroleum & Explosives Safety Organization, a subordinate office of Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion.
India climbs steadily in the Global Competitiveness Index; Improves its ranking by 16 places for the second year in a row;. Now placed 39th among 138 countries, ahead of BRICS countries other than China.
The Global Competitiveness Index released by the World Economic Forum is one of the major studies which indicates how a country scores in the scale of global competitiveness.
The Index is calculated by aggregating indicators across 12 pillars which again are clubbed together in three broad sub-indices, namely basic requirements, efficiency enhancers and innovation and sophistication factors.
The report covers both business and social indicators which, directly or indirectly, impacts the competitiveness of the country in the global arena.
The 12 pillars underlying GCI include Institutions, Infrastructure, Macroeconomic environment, health and primary education, higher education and training, goods market efficiency, labour market efficiency, financial market development, technological readiness, market size, business sophistication and innovation.
India’s competitiveness has improved this year across the board, in particular in goods market efficiency, business sophistication and innovation. The macroeconomic environment also improved due to better monetary and fiscal policies and lower oil prices.
Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) Measures
- Maharashtra has developed GIS applications for mapping disasters and advocated the use of technology in mitigating the impact of disasters.
- In the wake of excellent post-disaster work done by Gujarat after the 2001 Bhuj earthquake, a memorial – the Smriti Van Memorial – which will be a visual manifestation of hope and courage is also being constructed
- Nagaland is one of the first States to form Disaster Management Authorities at the village level.
- Rajasthan’s Mukhyamantri Jal Swavlamban Abhiyan is a step forward towards a solution to the water crisis in the arid State.
- Sikkim implemented the mitigation measures that it took to contain the possibility of a Glacial Lake Outburst Flood at the South Lhonak Lake in north Sikkim.
- West Bengal has created a mobile application to monitor the progress of Multi-Purpose Cyclone Shelters, being constructed under NDMA’s flagship National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project.
- India also hosted the first South Asian Annual Disaster Management Exercise (SAADMEx) for disaster managers and leaders from SAARC countries in 2015.
- The second BRICS Conference on Disaster Management, which led to the Udaipur Declaration and the roadmap to a Joint Action Plan, was held at Udaipur, Rajasthan in August this year.
- NDMA is also working on developing an Earthquake Disaster Risk Index for 50 identified vulnerable cities
- A failsafe communication system with advanced technology and equipment is also being developed. The National Disaster Management Services, which will connect all the State Headquarters and another 80 vulnerable districts in its first phase, will keep the communication lines open even during a disaster.
- NDMA has released Guidelines on School Safety, Hospital Safety and Minimum Standards for Shelter, Food, Water, Sanitation and Medical Cover in Relief Camps.
RICS Labour and Employment Ministerial meeting held under BRICS India presidency, 2016
- BRICS comprising of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa are five major emerging economies comprising 43% of the world population, 37% of the world GDP and 17% of the world trade. BRICS began their association primarily with discussions on economic issues of mutual interest. Overtime, the areas of cooperation have widened to include topical global issues.
- The First BRICS Labour & Employment Ministers’ meeting held in Ufa, Russia recognized that Employment Pillar is essential and thus laid the foundation of BRICS Employment Working Group (BEWG)
- India’s initiatives and transformative decisions particularly the recent amendment to child labour act for putting complete ban on employment of children below 14 years of age, the enhanced paid maternity leave of 26 weeks, revision of minimum wages, and broad initiatives at employment generation were acknowledged by BRICS nations as well as ILO.
- The forum acknowledged the centrality of employment generation to the overall policy objective of sustainable development. A broad consensus was reached on “encouaging social security agreements” and “networking of labour institutions of BRICS member states” and these have been included in the BRICS Labour and Ministerial Declaration.
- Recently ISRO launched of PSLV-C35, carrying advanced satellite SCATSAT-1
- SCATSAT-1 will help provide wind vector data products for weather forecasting cyclone detection and tracking services to the users
Revision of National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM), 2015
Based on the scientific criteria, the Core Committee recommended inclusion of 106 medicines and deletion of 70 medicines from the earlier NLEM, 2011.
The Pharmaceutical Pricing Policy entails the price control of only schedule-1 medicines which are included in the NLEM.
The medicines, which ceased to be part of NLEM, 2015 and Schedule-1, will only be monitored as non-scheduled medicines.
Non-scheduled medicines are allowed an increase of upto 10% in the prices every year, which is monitored by the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA).
The criteria for deletion of medicines from National List of Essential Medicines is as follows:-
- The medicine has been banned in India.
- There are reports of concerns on the safety profile of a medicine.
- A medicine with better efficacy or favourable safety profiles and better cost-effective is now available.
- The disease burden for which a medicine is indicated is no longer a national health concern in India.
- In case of antimicrobials, if the resistance pattern has rendered a medicine ineffective in Indian context.
Yudh Abhyas 2016
The two week exercise included a Company Group from an Infantry Battalion of Indian Army and 5th Battalion 20th Infantry Regiment of the US Army.Exercise Yudh Abhyas 2016 has been conducted at Chaubattia, Uttarakhand