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India re-elected as Member of International Maritime Council India has been re-elected unopposed to the Council of the International Maritime Organization [IMO] under Category “B” at the 29th session of the Assembly of the IMO held in London. The 29th Session of the IMO Assembly is being held at IMO Headquarters London . The International Maritime Organization [IMO] is a specialised agency of the United Nations responsible for regulating shipping. The IMO was established in Geneva in 1948. Headquartered in London, United Kingdom, the IMO has 171 Member States and three Associate Members. The IMO’s primary purpose is to develop and maintain a comprehensive regulatory framework for shipping and its remit today includes safety, environmental concerns, legal matters, technical co-operation, maritime security and the efficiency of shipping. India’s overseas seaborne EXIM trade, which is presently about 600 million tonnes per annum, is expected to be quadrupled to about 2, 200 million tons by the year 2020. In value terms, the commensurate figures thereof are in the region of US$ 900 billion and US$ 2100 billion respectively. India ranks amongst the top twenty ship owning countries of the world in terms of Gross Tonnage as well as Deadweight. Gross tonnage (often abbreviated as GT, G.T. or gt) is a unitless index related to a ship’s overall internal volume. IMO is supported by a permanent secretariat of employees who are representative of the organization’s members. To become a member of the IMO, a state ratifies a multilateral treaty known as the Convention on the International Maritime Organization. As of 2015, there are 171 member states of the IMO, which includes 170 of the UN members and the Cook Islands. The first state to ratify the convention was the United Kingdom in 1949. The Organization consists of an Assembly, a Council and five main Committees: The Maritime Safety Committee; The Marine Environment Protection Committee; The Legal Committee; the Technical Co-operation Committee and the Facilitation Committee. A number of Sub-Committees support the work of the main technical committees. India has been one of the earliest members of the IMO, having ratified its Convention and joined it as a member-state in the year 1959. India has had the privilege of being elected to and serving the Council of the IMO, ever since it started functioning, and till date, except for two years for the period 1983-1984. IMO Council plays a crucial role to play in deciding various important matters within the mandate of the IMO, in relation to the global shipping industry, including its work program strategy and budget. The IMO Council consists of 40 member countries who are elected by the IMO Assembly. India has acceded to/ratified about 32 of the Conventions/Protocols adopted by the IMO and 6 of them are under consideration for the purpose, during the year 2015. India has also been playing a leading role in actively participating in and taking pro-active measures to counter threats from sea-borne piracy. It may also be recalled that vulnerable areas were defined as High Risk Area (HRA), characterized by piracy attacks and / or hijackings and in 2008, the HRA line in the Indian Ocean region was designated at 65 degrees East longitude which was quite far away from India’s West Coast. The issue of the restoration of the said HRA geographical coordinate from its existing position of 78 degrees East longitude to 65 degrees East longitude. This is one of the most significant triumphs for India in the maritime sector on the global stage, in the past several years now, vindicating India’s reasoned stance and persistently persuasive soft skills in the matter. This will result in huge savings for India’s EXIM trade and consumers on account of reduced insurance premium and consequently freight costs. It will improve safety of fishermen and fishing boats, and will also improve the security along India’s coastline.
A ‘long range surface to air missile’ (LRSAM), also known as Barak-8, being developed by India’s DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation) and Israel Aerospace Industries, was successfully flight tested from the Israel Naval Platform for the first time even as the DRDO claimed that the missile successfully engaged the incoming target. India is believed to have invested $1.5 billion in the Barak-8 programme, a defence system that answers a broad range of land and sea threats. The Barak-8 LRSAM can be deployed against aircraft, helicopters and flying assets, and can also be used be used as a missile interceptor. It is said to be effective against low flying supersonic cruise missiles and sea skimming missiles. Israel Aerospace Industries describe Barak 8 as “an advanced, long-range missile defense and air defense system” with its main features being: Long Range Two way data link (GPS S band) Active Radar Seeker Missile 360 degree coverage Vertical Launch Multiple Simultaneous Engagements Barak 8 has been described as giving potential use as a point defence anti-ballistic missile due to its combination of advanced capabilities. LRSAM will be inducted into Indian Naval Ships (P-15A). The LRSAM programme consists of Missiles, MFSTAR (Radar), Weapon Control System, Vertical Launcher unit and Two- way data link. The Kolkata class of warships will be armed with at least 32 LR-SAMs each. Each of the 47 warships on order by the navy in Indian shipyards will be armed with the LR-SAM, also called the Barak 8.
NHAI approves greenbelt along National Highways NHAI(National Highways Authority of India )has approved a pilot project submitted by National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), Nagpur for undertaking scientific studies on designing greenbelts along national highways. The project will be implemented on a 5 km stretch on NH-7 between Jam and Hinganghat in Nagpur region at an estimated cost of Rs.11.80 crore . Around 20, 000 trees of scientifically chosen species are proposed to be planted on both sides of this stretch in multiple rows. Work activities have been delineated considering two major factors : (a) Highway requirement and objectives Traffic frequency Available space Soil type Water availability Climatic conditions Anthropogenic interference (b) Plant characteristics to fit in the site requirement Height Canopy cover Air pollution Tolerance Index Sociability The project will run for 5 years, and during this period various experiments will be conducted in NEERI laboratory to record the impact of greenbelt development. Besides developing greenbelt, the project will also assist in developing relevant research infrastructure that may be used for similar studies in future. The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is an autonomous agency of the Government of India, responsible for management of a network of over 70, 000 km of National Highways in India. It is a nodal agency of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. The chairman of NHAI is Raghav Chandra, IAS. The NHAI was created through the promulgation of the National Highways Authority of India Act, 1988. A 2012 report prepared by the World Bank’s Institutional Integrity Unit alleged that fraudulent and corrupt practices were being followed by Indian contractors working on national highway projects funded by it, and sought a thorough investigation into the matter. The report also alleged that contractors paid bribes and gifts, including gold coins, to “influence the actions” of officials and consultants of the National Highways Authority of India.
Prime Minister to launch Accessible India Campaign for Physically disabled people n important aim of the society is to integrate persons with disabilities in the society so that they can actively participate in society and lead a normal life. Ideally, a disabled person should be able to commute between home, work place and other destinations with independence, convenience and safety. The more persons with disabilities are able to access physical facilities, the more they will be part of the social mainstream. With firm commitment of the government towards socio-economic transformation of the persons with disabilities there is an urgent need to create mass awareness for universal accessibility. DEPwD is also in the process of creating a mobile app, along with a web portal for crowd sourcing the requests regarding inaccessible places. With the app, downloaded on his/her mobile phone, any person would be able to click a photograph or video of an inaccessible public place (like a school, hospital, government office etc.) and upload the same to the Accessible India portal. The portal will process the request for access audit, financial sanction and final retrofitting of the building to make it completely accessible. The mobile app and portal will also seek engagement of big corporates and PSUs to partner in the campaign by offering their help to conduct access audit and for accessibility- conversion of the buildings/transport and websites. India is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD), Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, has formulated the Accessible India Campaign (Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan), as a nation-wide campaign for achieving universal accessibility for PwDs. The campaign targets three separate verticals for achieving universal accessibility namely the built up environment, transportation eco-system and information & communication eco-system. The campaign has ambitious targets with defined timelines and will use IT and social media for spreading awareness about the campaign and seeking commitment / engagement of various stakeholders. The Department has asked various State Govts. to identify about 50 to 100 public buildings in big cities and also identify citizen centric public websites, which if made fully accessible would have the highest impact on the lives of PwDs. Once identified, “Access Audit” of these buildings and websites will be conducted by professional agencies. As per the audit findings, retrofitting and conversion of buildings, transport and websites would be undertaken by various government departments. This will be supported by the Scheme of Implementation of Persons with Disabilities Act (SIPDA), an umbrella scheme run by the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD) for implementing various initiatives for social and economic empowerment of PwDs. Article 9 of UNCRPD casts an obligation on all the signatory governments to take appropriate measures to ensure to persons with disabilities access, on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment, to transportation, to information and communications, including information and communications technologies and systems, and to other facilities and services open or provided to the public, both in urban and in rural areas. Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities. Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act 1995 under Section 44, 45 and 46 also categorically provides for non-discrimination in participation, non-discrimination of the roads and built up environment. As per Section 46 of the PwD Act, the States are required to provide for : i) Ramps in public buildings ii) Provision of toilets for wheelchair users iii)Braille symbols and auditory signals in elevators or lifts iv) Ramps in hospitals, primary health centres and other rehabilitation centres. Article 9 – Accessibility of UNCRPD 1. To enable persons with disabilities to live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life, States Parties shall take appropriate measures to ensure to persons with disabilities access, on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment, to transportation, to information and communications, including information and communications technologies and systems, and to other facilities and services open or provided to the public, both in urban and in rural areas. These measures, which shall include the identification and elimination of obstacles and barriers to accessibility, shall apply to, inter alia: Buildings, roads, transportation and other indoor and outdoor facilities, including schools, housing, medical facilities and workplaces; Information, communications and other services, including electronic services and emergency services. 2. States Parties shall also take appropriate measures to: Develop, promulgate and monitor the implementation of minimum standards and guidelines for the accessibility of facilities and services open or provided to the public; Ensure that private entities that offer facilities and services which are open or provided to the public take into account all aspects of accessibility for persons with disabilities; Provide training for stakeholders on accessibility issues facing persons with disabilities; Provide in buildings and other facilities open to the public signage in Braille and in easy to read and understand forms; Provide forms of live assistance and intermediaries, including guides, readers and professional sign language interpreters, to facilitate accessibility to buildings and other facilities open to the public; Promote other appropriate forms of assistance and support to persons with disabilities to ensure their access to information; Promote access for persons with disabilities to new information and communications technologies and systems, including the Internet; Promote the design, development, production and distribution of accessible information and communications technologies and systems at an early stage, so that these technologies and systems become accessible at minimum cost.
The Department of Agriculture and Cooperation and the Ministry of Agriculture have been renamed he Department of Agriculture and Cooperation and the Ministry of Agriculture have been renamed as the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare (DAC& FW) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare respectively. With a view to focus on the issues of farmers welfare, the DAC& FW has created a separate Division called ‘Farmers Welfare’ under the charge of a senior officer. Some of the important new initiatives in this context are: 1.Soil Health Card (SHC) scheme: Soil Health Card Scheme is a scheme launched by the Government of India in February 2015. Under the scheme the government plans to issue Soil card to farmers which will carry crop-wise recommendations of nutrients and fertilisers required for the individual farms to help farmers to improve productivity through judicious use of inputs. All soil samples are be tested in various soil testing labs across the country. Thereafter the experts will analyse the strength and weaknesses (micro-nutrients deficiency) of the soil and suggest measures to deal with it. The result and suggestion will be displayed in the cards. The Government plans to issue the cards to 14 crore farmers. 2 .Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY): Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (Traditional Farming Improvement Programme) has been launched by Government of India to support and promote organic farming and thereby improving soil health. This will encourage farmers to adopt eco-friendly concept of cultivation and reduce their dependence on fertilizers and agricultural chemicals to improve yields. 3. Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY): The NDA government has launched the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayi Yojana, which heavily borrows from the Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme; but tries to replace the fragmented approach with an integrated approach aiming at convergence of investments in irrigation. 4. New National Crop Insurance Scheme: Agricultural Insurance in India is covered by “National Crop Insurance Programme” which was launched by UPA government in 2013 by merging three schemes viz. Modified National Agricultural insurance Scheme (MNAIS), Weather Based Crop insurance Scheme (WBCIS) and Coconut Palm Insurance Scheme (CPIS). These three schemes now serve as components of the NCIP. National Crop Insurance Programme provides financial support to farmers for losses in their crop yield, to help in maintaining flow of agricultural credit, to encourage farmers to adopt progressive farming practices and higher technology in Agriculture and thereby, to help in maintaining production, employment & economic growth. 5. National Food Security Mission (NFSM); NFSM) is a Central Scheme of GOI launched in 2007 for 5 years to increase production and productivity of wheat, rice and pulses on a sustainable basis so as to ensure food security of the country. The aim is to bridge the yield gap in respect of these crops through dissemination of improved technologies and farm management practices. 6.Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH); A Centrally Sponsored Scheme of MIDH has been launched for the holistic development of horticulture in the country during XII plan. The scheme, which has taken take off from 2014-15, integrates the ongoing schemes of National Horticulture Mission, Horticulture Mission for North East & Himalayan States, National Bamboo Mission, National Horticulture Board, Coconut Development Board and Central Institute for Horticulture, Nagaland. 7.National Mission on Oilseeds & Oil Palm (NMOOP); The mission would help in boosting the production of oilseeds by 6.58 million tonnes and will bring additional area of 1.25 lakh hectares under oil palm cultivation. In addition to this, it would also lead to an enhancement in productivity of fresh fruit bunches to 15, 000 kg/ha from 4927 kg/ha and increase in collection of tree borne oilseeds to 14 lakh tonne. It would increase production of vegetable oil sources by 2.48 million tonnes from oilseeds (1.70 MT), oil palm (0.60 MT) and tree borne oilseeds (0.18 MT) by the end of the 12th Plan period. NMOOP is inspired by the accomplishments of the existing schemes of Integrated Scheme of Oilseeds, Oil Palm and Maize, Tree Borne Oilseeds Scheme and Oil Palm Area Expansion programme implemented during the 11th Plan period. 8. National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA); Under the National Action Plan on Climate Change, India has launched a dedicated National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA) to define its strategies for climate mitigation and adaptation within the agriculture sector. Emission by Agriculture Sector: Agriculture is responsible for around 14% of global emissions. If the emissions from the agriculture are combined with the emissions caused by deforestation for farming, fertilizer manufacturing and agricultural energy use, this sector becomes the largest contributor to global emissions. In India, the agriculture sector accounts for 17.6% of total emissions. At the same time, it consumes some one fourth of the electricity, so, it is indirectly responsible for another 10% of the GHG emissions. When we combine these figures with the fertilizer industries, catering solely to agriculture, and use of diesel, we find that agriculture is the largest contributor of GHG in India. So there is a need that the farm sector is given priority in India’s climate mitigation strategy. 9. National Mission on Agricultural Extension & Technology (NMAET); National Mission on Agricultural Extension and Technology (NIMAET) is a new 12th Plan programme approved by outgoing UPA Government in February 2014 with an objective to spread farm extension services and mechanization. This mission has four sub-missions as under: Sub Mission on Agricultural Extension (SMAE) Sub-Mission on Seed and Planting Material (SMSP) Sub Mission on Agricultural Mechanization (SMAM) Sub Mission on Plant Protection and Plant Quarantine (SMPP) The common thread that runs across all four sub-missions is extension and technology; the four sub-missions are proposed for administrative convenience. The entire plan period outlay for this scheme is Rs. 13073.08 crore, with Government of India’s share of Rs. 11390.68 crore and State share of Rs.1682.40 crore. This scheme aims to bring maximum possible farmers within the ambit of cost effective and remunerative mechanized farming for improved productivity and sustainable farm growth in the country. It also covers seed production and plant protection along with strengthening regulatory framework for management of pesticides and plant quarantine. 10. Unified National Agriculture Markets; The National Agriculture Market (NAM) is envisaged as a pan-India electronic trading portal which seeks to network the existing Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMCs) and other market yards to create a unified national market for agricultural commodities. NAM is a “virtual” market but it has a physical market (mandi) at the back end. 11. Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY). Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana is a special Additional Central Assistance Scheme which was launched in August 2007 to orient agricultural development strategies, to reaffirm its commitment to achieve 4 per cent annual growth in the agricultural sector during the 11th plan. The scheme was launched to incentivize the States to provide additional resources in their State Plans over and above their baseline expenditure to bridge critical gaps. The RKVY covers all sectors such as Crop Cultivation, Horticulture, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries, Dairy Development, Agricultural Research and Education, Forestry and Wildlife, Plantation and Agricultural Marketing, Food Storage and Warehousing, Soil and Water Conservation, Agricultural Financial Institutions, other Agricultural Programmes and Cooperation. Incentivize the States RKVY is a State Plan Scheme. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI): As per data on sector-wise Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflows maintained by the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP), Government of India, during April 2000 to June 2015, FDI inflows in the agriculture services has been US $ 1763.57 Million (i.e. Rs.8747.4 crore) which is higher than the FDI inflows into sectors like textiles, mining and electronics. However, FDI inflows in the agriculture services during the above period has been lower as compared to computer software & hardware, telecommunications, automobiles etc. In agriculture machinery, FDI inflows during the above period has been US $ 418.65 million. To attract more FDI in agriculture sector, 100% FDI has been allowed in coffee, rubber, cardamom, palm oil tree and olive oil tree plantations, besides tea plantation in which FDI has already been allowed.
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