Current Affairs Government Schemes

 The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs recently approved its revision of interest subvention rates from 2% to 2.5% per annum. This is being done under Diary Processing and Infrastructure Development Fund (DIDF).
  • Highlights
Under the DIDF, GoI will now provide interest subvention up to 2.5% to NABARD till 2030. This shall enable NABARD in devising its own strategy of borrowing. In turn, it will be able to provide low cost of funds to milk unions.
  • Impacts
There are more than 95 lakh milk producers that will be benefitted with this move. It will help in establishment of 28,000 milk coolers and create 210 metric tonnes of milk drying capacity.
  • Implementation
The major activities that are covered under the fund includes chilling infrastructure, electronic adulteration testing kit, modernization of milk processing facilities and project management.
  • DIDF scheme
The DIDF Scheme was announced in Union Budget 2017-18 by the Ministry of Finance. Under the scheme DIDF considerable amount is contributed by NABARD to the National Diary Development Board and National Cooperative Development Corporation.

 On February 19, 2020, the Agricultural Minister Narendra Singh Tomar announced that Government of India is to launch “TILHAN MISSION” to boost the oil seed production. The announcement was made at an occasion of Soil Health Card Day. Soil Health Card Day was celebrated all over India on February 19, 2020.
  • Highlights
Government of India is to increase oil seed production in order to make the country self-reliant in oil seed production. The Minister also announced that GoI is to create 10,000 Farmer Producer Organizations all over the country. In order to support this, the GoI is to provide Rs 6,000 rupees.
  • Current Oil Seed Scenario in India
India is the fourth largest vegetable oil economy in the world after USA, China and Brazil. Today, the oil seeds account for 13% of cropped area in the country. The National Mission on Oil Seeds and Oil Palm was launched by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmer Welfare. The scheme was to be implemented for 5 years between 2014-15 and 2018-19.
  • India-Malaysia
Recently, there has been major rifts between India and Malaysia over Palm oil. Malaysia at the United Nations General Assembly meet placed open accusations on India for abrogating Article 370 and its other steps towards development of Kashmir. Malaysian PM accused India of invading and occupying Kashmir. According to India, Kashmir issue is completely internal and is between India and Pakistan to settle upon. Following such accusations, India gradually decreased its Palm oil imports from Malaysia. In September 2019, the palm oil imports (before the Malaysian PM’s accusation) were 310,648 tonnes. In October, the imports were reduced to 219,956 tonnes and in November it was 142,696 tonnes. India is the largest importer of palm oil in the world. And oil exports are highly important for the Malaysian economy as it accounts to 2.8% of its GDP and 4.5% of its total exports.

 On February 17, 2020, the fourth National Conference of Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima yojana was held in Udaipur, Rajasthan. The Conference was organized by Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare.
  • Highlights
The Conference was attended by more than 140 members. It included members from NABARD (National Bank of Agriculture and Rural Development), RBI (Reserve Bank of India), insurance companies, etc. Currently, the scheme has three active participants namely the state government, banking sector and the insurance sector. According to the experts at the conference, for the scheme to achieve success, active participation of all the three stakeholders is essential.
  • Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana
The scheme was launched in 2016. It replaced the Modified National Agricultural Insurance Scheme and National Agricultural Insurance Scheme. Under the scheme the farmers are paid a premium of 2% for Kharif crops and 1.5% for Rabi crops in case of crop damages. The scheme is in line with One Nation-One Scheme theme.

 On February 12, 2020 the Union Cabinet approved the Memorandum of Understanding signed between India and Iceland in the field of fisheries.
  • Highlights
The countries had signed agreements in September 2019, to develop inland fisheries. According to the agreement, the countries agreed to create facilities of technical experts and scientists in shore areas and deep sea areas. They also agreed on exchange of scientific research literature, scientific experts in the field of fisheries. The agreement strengthens bilateral cooperation between India and Iceland.
  • Fisheries in India
According to the Economic Survey 2020, fisheries contribute to 6.58% of India’s GDP along with agriculture and forestry. The export of marine products for the year 2018-19 was 13.92 lakh tonnes. The survey also says that the total fish production of the country stood at 13.42 million tonnes in the year 2018-19. The major fisheries resources of India is spread across the vast coast line. It stands at 2.02 million square km of the Exclusive Economic Zone. The GoI in 2018-19 allocated Rs 7,522 crores of rupees towards Fisheries and Aquaculture Development Fund (FIDF).

 On February 12, 2020, the Union Cabinet approved on capital infusion in three Public Sector Units namely United India Insurance Company (UIICL), Oriental Insurance Company Limited (OICL) and National Insurance Company Limited (NICL).
  • Highlights
During the meet the cabinet also approved an immediate release of Rs 2,500 crores in order to address their critical financial position and also regulate their solvency requirements. The capital infusion is aimed at merging the three insurance companies in the future. Merging the companies will improve their operational efficiency and solvency ratio. The step is being taken to make these companies meet the solvency ratio criteria of IRDA (Insurance Regulatory Development Authority)
  • Solvency Ratio
The Solvency ratio is the key metric used to measure the ability of an enterprise to meet its debt obligation. It indicates if a company has sufficient cash flow in order to meet its long term and short-term liabilities. It is the ratio between after-tax net operating income and total debt obligations.

 The Union Government has set up a task force which has a target to restrict the Novel Coronavirus in India. The task force consists of Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, Minister of State for Home Affairs G Kishan Reddy and Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri. The task has a prime aim of stopping the Novel Coronavirus outspread in India. 
  • What is Coronavirus?
The coronavirus belongs to a family of viruses that can cause a range of illnesses in humans. These illnesses includes common cold and more life-threatening severe forms like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). The corona virus has been named after its shape which takes the pattern of a crown with protrusions around it.

  The Indian Railways has signed MoU with the RailTel, a Mini Ratna Public Sector Undertaking in order to implement Phase II of e-office programme. Also, the Indian Railways is to provide content on demand services in premium, suburban, express and mail trains.
  • MoU of E-Office
On January 13, 2020, the Indian Railways and RailTel signed an agreement to implement the Phase 2 of E-office project. E-Office system is an integrated file management system that will help employees manage data, content electronically. Under the new phase, around 39,000 users are to be registered in 34 Railway divisions on the National informatics Centre. The target is set to be completed by March 2020.
  • Phase I
The Phase I of the project aimed at registering 50,000 plus users in 58 stations by March 2020. However, the Indian Railways have completed the target well ahead of time. E-Office aims at adopting paperless culture. This will help reduce operational cost and also reduce carbon foot print.
  • National Informatics Centre
The National Informatics Centre was established in 1976. It operates under Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. It provides infrastructure to deliver Government IT services and also the initiatives of Digital India.
  • Content on Demand Services
In order to generate more non fare revenue, Indian Railways will soon create content-on-demand in express, mail, suburban and express trains. The service is to be provided by the RailTel unit of GoI. The project is to be implemented in 2 years. Under the project, the content such as shows, movies, educational programmes are to be made available in paid and unpaid formats for a period of 10 years. The project will be implemented in several languages. The aim is to cover all the 17 zones of the Railways.

  The Union minister for women and child development Smriti Irani launched 3 welfare schemes for women in Goa. The schemes are Yashaswini Scheme for Women Entrepreneurship, Swasthya Sahayak Project and breast cancer screening initiative handheld device facilitating detection of cancer. Under the Yashaswini Scheme for Women Entrepreneurship, the state government provides interest-free loan up to Rs 5 lakh with a tenure of 5 years to self-help groups with repayment starting from the second year and the loan to be paid in four instalments. Under the Swasthya Sahayak scheme, a diagnostic kit will be supplied to primary healthcare workers and Anganwadi workers in the state to help them conduct basic diagnostic tests at people’s doorstep so as to bring an affordable and convenient solution to the common man, who had to stand in queues and wait for days for getting basic diagnostic tests done. The diagnostic kit has been developed by the Public Health Foundation of India, which has partnered with Procter and Gamble to manufacture and supply the kits using corporate social responsibility (CSR) fund. The Union minister handed over the kit to an Anganwadi worker at the function. The kit includes an interface unit, a tablet and the peripheral bag containing all the equipment needed to perform tests for blood pressure, blood sugar, blood haemoglobin and heart rate. Under breast cancer screening initiative the handheld devices the Anganwadi and healthcare workers will screen women for breast cancer, reaching out to the women in rural parts of the state. With the help of such a device, the delivery of health services will become more accessible and affordable, he said and added that 20,000 women would be screened for breast cancer. To mark the launch of the scheme, a cheque for the Rs 5 lakh loan was handed over by Irani to three women’s self-help groups – Umang Selfhelp Group, Salcete; Pheonix Women’s Self-help Group, Valpoi, and Adarsh Sateri Mahila Mandal, Guleli, Sattari.

  The Government of India has released new performance energy standards for the performance of air conditioners after consulting Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE). The BEE operating under Ministry of Power develop strategies and policies with primary objective of reduction in energy usage. According to BEE, the total air conditioner capacity of India is 80 million tonnes of refrigeration. It is estimated that this will increase to 250 million by 2030.
  • Highlights of the new standards
The ISEER (Indian Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) according to the new standard should be in the range of 2.7 to 3.5 for window ACs and 3.3 to 5 for split air conditioners. ISEER is the ratio between total amount of heat an AC can remove when operated in active mode to the amount of energy required during the same period. Also, the air conditioners should have a default setting temperature of 24 degree Celsius. The default setting is applicable to all brands and types including unitary ACs, Split ACs, multi-stage ACs, and the ACs that are rated between 1 star and 5 star. The new standards come into effect from January 1, 2020.
  • Voluntary Star Labelling
In 2006, the BEE launched the voluntary star labelling programme. However, the labelling was applicable only to fixed speed Room Air Conditioners. The star labelling programme launched helped in saving 4.6 billion units in the year 2017-18 alone
  • Current Scenario in India
According to Power Ministry, every one degree increase in air-conditioner temperature results in saving 6% of electricity consumed. Countries like Japan has regulation to keep temperature set default at 28 degree Celsius. The concept of default setting was introduced in 2018. Since then several campaigns and surveys were conducted to spread awareness and get feedback about the default setting.

 On January 5, 2020, Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs for All (UJALA) and LED Street Lighting National Programme (SLNP) marked their fifth anniversary. The schemes were implemented by Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL). EESL is a joint venture of PSU operating under Ministry of Power.
  • Highlights
Under the SLNP initiative, in five years around 1.03 crore smart LED street lights were installed. This helped in reducing Green House Gas emission by 4.8 million tonnes annually. Also, the initiative has created 13,000 jobs. Under UJALA programme, 36.13 crore LED bubs have been distributed so far. This helped in reducing the green house gas emission by 38 million tonnes annually.
  • Awards
The initiatives have been highly successful and hence gained world wide recognition. The programmes received South Asia Procurement Innovation Award (SAPLA) in 2017 and CIO 100 award in 2019.
  • Prices
The scheme has brought down the prices of LED bulbs to one-tenth of rates as in 2015. Also, they have helped in reducing customer bills by 15%.
  • Future Plans
The SLNP programme aims to replace 1.34 crore street lights with smart LEDs by March 2020. This will help in reducing peak demands by 1.5 GW. Also, this will reduce Green House Gas Emissions by 6.2 million tonnes. The implementing agency of the schemes has planned to invest another 8,000 crores of rupees by 2024 to install mote than 30 million LED street lights.

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