PIB – 29th Oct 2020

Cabinet approves Memorandum of Cooperation between India and Japan on cooperation in the field of Information and Communication Technologies

  • The Union Cabinet has given its approval for signing Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) between India and Japan on bilateral cooperation in the field of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs).
  • The MoC will contribute in strengthening bilateral cooperation and mutual understanding in the field of communications and will serve as a strategic initiative for India as Japan is an important partner with “Special Strategic and Global Partnership” status.
  • Cooperation areas:
  • The MoC will help in cooperation between two countries in various fields like 5G network, telecom security, Submarine cable, standard certification of communication equipment, utilization of latest Wireless Technologies and ICTs, ICTs capacity building, Public Protection and Disaster Relief, Artificial Intelligence (AI) / Block Chain, Spectrum Chain, Spectrum Management, Cooperation on Multilateral platforms etc.
  • The MoC will further enhance opportunities for India to get into the global standardization process.  
  • Cooperation in ICTs technologies will help in strengthening ICTs infrastructure in the country.  
  • Cooperation in the development of future submarine cable networks and technologies will help in boosting connectivity of mainland India to remote areas.  
  • The MoC aims to promote human capacity building in the field of ICTs and further development of startup ecosystem which will contribute in realizing the objectives of Atmanirbhar Bharat.

Cabinet approves Externally Aided Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project – Phase II and Phase III

  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved the Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP) Phase II & Phase III with the financial assistance of the World Bank (WB), and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) to improve the safety and operational performance of selected dams across the whole country, along with institutional strengthening with system wide management approach.
  • The project cost is Rs 10,211 crore.  The Project will be implemented over a period of 10 years duration in two Phases, each of six years duration with two years overlapping from April, 2021 to March, 2031. 
  • DRIP Phase II & Phase III envisages the following objectives:-
  1. To improve the safety and performance of selected existing dams and associated appurtenances in a sustainable manner.
  2. To strengthen the dam safety institutional setup in participating states as well as at central level, and
  3. To explore the alternative incidental means at few of selected dams to generate the incidental revenue for sustainable operation and maintenance of dams 
  • To achieve the above objectives, DRIP Phase II & Phase III has following components: 
  • Rehabilitation and improvement of dams and associated appurtenances,
  • Dam safety institutional strengthening in participating States and Central agencies,
  • Exploration of alternative incidental means at few of selected dams to generate the incidental revenue for sustainable operation and maintenance of dams, and
  • Project management.
  • The Scheme envisages comprehensive rehabilitation of 736 existing dams located across the country. 

Cabinet approves Extension of Norms for Mandatory Packaging in Jute Materials

  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved that 100% of the foodgrains and 20% of the sugar shall be mandatorily packed in diversified jute bags.
  • The decision to pack sugar in diversified jute bags will give an impetus to the diversification of the jute industry. Further, the decision also mandates that initially 10% of the indents of jute bags for packing foodgrains would be placed through reverse auction on the Gem portal. This will gradually usher in a regime of price discovery.  The Government has expanded the scope of mandatory packaging norms under the Jute Packaging Material (JPM) Act, 1987.
  • In case of any shortage or disruption in supply of jute packaging material or in other contingency/exigency, the Ministry of Textiles may, in consultation with the user Ministries concerned, relax these provisions further, up to a maximum of 30% of the production of foodgrains over and above the provisions.
  • Considering that nearly 3.7 lakh workers and several lakh farm families are dependent for their livelihood on the jute sectors, the government has been making concerted efforts for the development of jute sector; increasing the quality and productivity of raw jute, diversification of jute sector and also boosting and sustaining demand for jute products.
  • Benefits :
  • The approval will benefit farmers and workers located in the Eastern and North Eastern regions of the country particularly in the states of West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha, Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Meghalaya and Tripura.
  • Under the Jute Packaging Materials (Compulsory use in Packing Commodities) Act, 1987 (hereinafter “the JPM Act”), the Government is required to consider and provide for the compulsory use of jute packaging material in the supply and distribution of certain commodities in the interest of production of raw jute and jute packaging material and of persons engaged in the production thereof. 
  • Therefore, the reservation norms in present proposal would further the interest of domestic production of raw jute and jute packaging material in India, thereby, making India self-reliant in consonance with Aatma Nirbhar Bharat.
  • The jute industry is predominantly dependent on Government sector which purchases jute bags of value of more than Rs. 7,500 crore every year for packing foodgrains. This is done in order to sustain the core demand for the jute sector and to support the livelihood of the workers and farmers dependent on the sector.
  • Other Support provided to the Jute Sector:
  • In order to improve the productivity and quality of raw jute through a carefully designed intervention, called the Jute ICARE, the Government has been supporting close to approx. two lakh jute farmers by disseminating improved agronomic practices such as line sowing using seed drills, weed management by using wheel-hoeing and nail-weeders, distribution of quality certified seeds and also providing microbial assisted retting. These interventions have resulted in enhancing the quality and productivity of raw jute and increasing income of jute farmers by Rs. 10,000 per hectare.
  • Recently, the Jute Corporation of India has entered into MoU with National Seeds Corporation for distribution of 10,000 quintals of certified seeds on commercial basis also. The intervention of Technology up-gradation and distribution of certified seeds would increase the productivity and quality of jute crops and also increase the income of the farmers.
  • With a view to support diversification of jute sector, the National Jute Board has collaborated with National Institute of Design and a Jute Design Cell has been opened at Gandhinagar. Further, promotion of Jute Geo Textiles and Agro-Textiles has been taken up with the State Governments particularly those in the North Eastern region and also with departments such as Ministry of Road Transport and Ministry of Water Resources.
  • With a view to boost demand in the jute sector, Government of India has imposed Definitive Anti-Dumping Duty on import of jute goods from Bangladesh and Nepal with effect from 5th January, 2017.
  • With a view to promoting transparency in jute sector, Jute SMART, an e-govt initiative was launched in December, 2016, providing an integrated platform for procurement of B-Twill sacking by Government agencies. Further, the JCI is transferring 100% funds to jute farmers online for jute procurement under MSP and commercial operations.

Cabinet approves Mechanism for procurement of ethanol by Public Sector Oil Marketing Companies under Ethanol Blended Petrol Programme – Revision of ethanol price for supply to Public Sector OMCs for Ethanol Supply Year 2020-21

  • Government has been implementing Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) Programme wherein OMCs sell petrol blended with ethanol up to 10%. This programme has been extended to the whole of India except Union Territories of Andaman Nicobar and Lakshadweep islands with effect from 01st April, 2019 to promote the use of alternative and environment friendly fuels. This intervention also seeks to reduce import dependence for energy requirements and give boost to agriculture sector.
  • Government has notified administered price of ethanol since 2014. For the first time during 2018, a differential price of ethanol based on raw material utilized for ethanol production was announced by the Government. These decisions have significantly improved the supply of ethanol thereby ethanol procurement by Public Sector OMCs has increased from 38 crore litre in Ethanol Supply Year (ESY) 2013-14 to contracted over 195 crore litre in ESY 2019-20.
  • With a view to provide long term perspective to the stakeholders, MoP&NG has published “Ethanol Procurement Policy on a long term basis under EBP Programme”. 
  • Consistent surplus of sugar production is depressing sugar prices. Consequently, sugarcane farmer’s dues have increased due to lower capability of sugar industry to pay the farmers. Government has taken many decisions for reduction of cane farmer’s dues.
  • With a view to limit sugar production in the Country and to increase domestic production of ethanol, Government has taken multiple steps including, allowing diversion of B heavy molasses, sugarcane juice, sugar and sugar syrup for ethanol production. As the Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP) of sugarcane and ex-mill price of sugar have undergone changes, there is a need to revise the ex-mill price of ethanol derived from different sugarcane based raw materials.

Army launches Secure Application for Internet (SAI)

  • In the quest for ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’, Indian Army has developed a simple and secure messaging application named the “Secure Application for Internet (SAI)”.  The application supports end to end secure voice, text and video calling services for Android platform over internet.  The model is similar to commercially available messaging applications like Whatsapp, Telegram, SAMVAD and GIMS and utilises end to end encryption messaging protocol.  SAI scores over on security features with local in-house servers and coding which can be tweaked as per requirements.
  • The application has been vetted by CERT-in empaneled auditor and Army Cyber Group.  The process for filing Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), hosting the infrastructure on NIC and working on iOS platform is currently in progress.  SAI will be utilised pan Army to facilitate secure messaging within the service.

Indian Railways launches OPERATION MERI SAHELI

  • Indian Railways has launched “Meri Saheli” initiative for focused action on security of women across all zones with an objective to provide safety and security to lady passengers travelling by trains for their entire journey from starting station to destination station.
  • An initiative of RPF, the Strategy of the entails interaction with lady passengers especially those travelling alone by a team of young lady RPF personnel at the originating station. These lady passengers are briefed about all precautions to be taken during the journey and told to dial 182 in case they face or see any problem in the coach. 
  • The RPF team collects only the seat numbers of the ladies and conveys them to stoppages en-route. The platform duty RPF personnel at the stopping stations en-route keep unobtrusive watch over the concerned coaches and berths and if need arises, interact with the lady passengers. RPF/RPSF escort onboard also covers all the coaches/identified berths during its duty period.
  • RPF teams at the destination collect the feedback from the identified lady passengers. The feedback is then analysed and corrective action, if any, is taken. If some distress call comes from a train covered under “Meri Saheli” initiative, the disposal of the call is monitored at the level of senior officers.
  • The “Meri Saheli” initiative was started as a pilot project in South Eastern Railway in September 2020 and after getting encouraging response from lady passengers, it was extended to all zones and KRCL w.e.f. 17.10.2020.The operation is gathering momentum.