The Finance Minister of India, Nirmala Sitharaman, has announced two new centrally sponsored scheme namely, the PM AatmaNirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana and the Mission Poshan 2.0 while presenting the Union Budget 2021.
As per the announcement, a new centrally sponsored scheme called PM Aatma Nirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana will be launched
Further, an outlay of Rs. 64,180 crores for over 6 years have been announced for the PM Aatma Nirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana. This was announced in addition to the National Health Mission (NHM).
PM Aatma Nirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana
The PM Aatma Nirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana comprises of following interventions:
To provide support around 17,788 rural and 11,024 urban Health and Wellness Centres.
Establishment of PM National Institution for One Health.
Establishment of 15 Health Emergency Operation Centres and 2 mobile hospitals.
Establishment of 4 regional National Institutes for Virology.
Creation of the Integrated public health labs in all the districts and 3382 block public health units in all the 11 states.
Establishment of Critical care hospital blocks in 602 districts and 12 central institutions.
To strengthen the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), 5 regional branches and 20 metropolitan health surveillance units.
To expand the Integrated Health Information Portal to all States and UTs so as to connect all public health labs.
To establish the Bio-Safety Level III laboratories.
Creation of the 17 new Public Health Units and strengthening of 33 existing Public Health Units.
Establishment of the Regional Research Platform for WHO South-East Asia Region.
Mission Poshan 2.0
Mission Poshan 2.0 will be launched with the objective of improving the nutritional content, delivery, outreach, and outcome. This scheme will merge the Poshan Abhiyan and the Supplementary Nutrition Programme. The mission seeks to improve the nutritional outcomes across 112 Aspirational Districts.
Aspirational Districts are those districts that are affected by poor socio-economic indicators in India. These districts are aspirational in the light that, if any improvement is being done in these districts it can lead to the overall improvement in human development in India.
The Union Education Minister, Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ addressed the ASEAN India Hackathon.
Shri Pokhriyal highlighted that, The ASEAN-INDIA Hackathon was inaugurated to further strengthen the India and ASEAN ties.
The background of the India-ASEAN hackathon lies in the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s call during the India-Singapore hackathon in the year 2019.
The minister highlighted that the ASEAN-India hackathon will provide a unique opportunity to India and ASEAN countries to solve their common identified challenges.
The common challenges of the countries are categorized under two themes namely the “Blue Economy” and “Education”.
The hackathon provides an opportunity to take forward the economic and cultural ties of both ASEAN and India through their collaboration in education, science and technology.
The hackathon will help in the enactment of six fundamental virtues of our civilisation namely, dialogue, respect, peace, cooperation, prosperity and innovation.
The background and the foundation of the India-ASEAN relations lies in the shared beliefs, religions, and culture. India is the largest democratic and the demographic country of the region. Thus, it becomes India can lead the ASEAN community. In that line, India has extended its support to ASEAN countries by providing COVID-19 vaccines. India and ASEAN also share the strong academic and research ties. Various Indian universities such as IIT-Delhi and Tezpur University host students from the ASEAN partner countries. India also launched 1000 ASEAN PhD Fellowships for ASEAN citizens. Further, the National Education Policy 2020 will also bring opportunities for India as well the entire world.
The ASEAN-INDIA Hackathon initiative is undertaken by the Ministry of Education. In the year 2021, the hackathon is being organized online from February 1 to 3, 2021. The hackathon will offer new opportunities for all the 10 ASEAN countries and India to strengthen their economic and cultural ties by collaborating into the fields of education, science and technology.
The Fifteenth Finance Commission of India have submitted its final report fir a five-year duration. The report has been submitted with the objective of transforming the financial governance of India’s municipalities.
The interim report for Financial Year 2020-21 was tabled in Parliament along with Budget 2020-21.
The final report for Financial Year 2021-22 to Financial Year 2025-26 was tabled along with the Budget 2021-22.
Key Highlights of the report
The 15th FC has significantly raised its bar on financial governance of the India’s municipalities in the interim report.
The final report also maintains these four specific agendas. The four agendas include:
The 15th FC has tried to increase the overall outlay for municipalities. It has set 29,000 crores for FY 2020-21. It has also indicated the intent to raise the share of municipalities in the total grants of local bodies from 30 per cent to 40 per cent.
Two entry conditions have been set for any municipality in India to receive FC grants namely, the publication of audited annual accounts that would help in boosting the financial accountability and notification of floor rates for property tax that would help in raising the revenue enhancement.
The 15th finance commission has adopted the approach of distinguishing between million-plus urban agglomerations and other cities.
It also recommends a common digital platform for municipal accounts, a consolidated view of municipal finances and the sectoral outlays at the state level apart from digital footprint of individual transactions at source.
These four aspects of the interim report highlight that the 15th finance commission aims to bring the logical culmination municipal finance reforms. However, the foundation for bringing about these reforms were also laid by thirteenth and fourteenth finance commission.
The Union Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, have proposed no change in the Income Tax Slabs in the Union Budget 2021. The income tax structure has been kept as earlier. However, some relief have been announced for the senior citizens. It was announced that the senior citizens above the age of 75 years will exempted from filing the income tax return.
The government has announced to introduce a National Faceless Income Tax Tribunal for the small taxpayers.
The government has also extended the tax benefits to the senior citizens aged above 75. They nor will not require to file the income tax return.
New rules have been formulated for the removal of double taxation for NRIs.
Further, the NRIs have been permitted to establish and operate One Person Companies in India.
Tax audit limit have been increased from 5 crores to 10 crores.
The minister announced that, the affordable housing projects will now be able to avail the tax holiday till March 31, 2022.
It was announced that, the details regarding the capital gains and interest from banks and post offices will be filled in advanced in order to easing the filing of Income Tax Returns.
Late deposit in the employee’s Provident Fund by the employer will not be allowed as the deduction to the employer.
Announcement regarding the Custom Duty
The government has announced to reduce the custom duty on copper by 2.5%
Customs duty on Naptha has also been reduced by 2.5% to encourage the domestic value addition of the chemicals.
Custom Duty on gold and silver will also be rationalized.
Custom Duty on imported solar inverters have been increased to 20% from 5%.
Customs duty of 5% will be imposed on all the nylon products
Custom duty on cotton have also been increased from 0 to 10% that in turn will help in doubling the farmer’s income.
Further, the finance minister announced that, the reassessment of the tax cases will be opened for 10 years if there is evidence of concealment of income of Rs. 50 lakh or more on a year. In other cases, the reopening of the assessment will be for 3 years.
The finance Minister of India, Nirmala Sitharaman, has announced during the presentation of the Union Budget 2021 that a new asset reconstruction and asset management company will be set up in India.
The new Asset reconstruction and asset management company will look after the Non-Performing Assets (NPAs) of stressed banks.
New amendments will be incorporated so that the Asset reconstruction depositors can get easy and time-bound access to their savings.
This in turn will help depositors in banks that are currently under stress.
The government has also approved an increase in the cover from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 5 lakh for bank depositors.
What is Non-performing Asset?
The Non-Performing Asset are the asset for which any person delays the payment of the loan. It is the asset for which an amount is due on him by delayed payment.
Non-Performing Assets in India
The Indian Economy witnessed a huge growth during 2004 to 2009. This made the firms to take the bank loans very often. Huge investments were made in the infrastructure sector like powers, aviation, roads and steel. But the banks were lending these companies without analysing their financial health and credit ratings. This later increased the burden on the banks. Further, there were instances of banning of the mining projects and delay in environment permit. This increased the prices of the raw materials. As a result, a huge demand and supply gap was created that affected the infrastructure companies. This in turn impacted the loan repaying capacity of the companies and resulted into Non-Performing Assets (NPA).
Asset Reconstruction Companies (ARCs)
In order to tackle the problem of NPA, Asset reconstruction Companies were set up. Asset Reconstruction Companies are the specialized financial institution that buys the NPAs or bad assets from banks and financial institutions. This help in clear the balance sheet of the companies. These companies were set up under the Securitization and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest (SARFAESI) Act, 2002. Under the norms, the banks were free to sell the bad assets to the ARCs rather than going after the defaulters.
The Finance Minister of India, Nirmala Sitharaman, has announced in the Budget 2021 that the government have planned to reduce the compliances for one person companies (OPC). This would help in promotion of the entrepreneurship and innovation in India.
The One Person Companies (OPC) are the companies that are having only one member and shareholders.
In such companies, there is lesser requirement of the regulatory frameworks.
This concept of OPC is new in India but, such companies are quite popular in other markets like US, Europe and Singapore.
How this announcement is significant?
Most of the start-ups in India have multiple shareholders. The start-ups usually comprise of some angel or co-founders.
The recent announcement made during the budget, will encourage the One Person Companies structure in India.
As per the announcement, these companies would also be allowed to grow without any restriction on paid up capital and turnover.
These companies will further be allowed to convert themselves into any other type of company at any time.
The residency limit for an Indian citizen to set up an OPC have also be reduced from 182 days to 120 days. This would help in incorporating more OPCs in India.
This announcement is also significant for the NRIs who wants to set up their Start-ups in India. Earlier, NRIs were not allowed to set up OPCs. But the recent announcement will encourage them to set up OPCs with less compliance requirements.
Start-ups in India
The Indian government has recognised some41,061 start-ups in India, as of now. This sector is growing rapidly in India with the emergence of more and more unicorns in the market. There are around 38 unicorns in India and at least 12 start-ups were added to the list in the year 2020.
The Finance minister of India, Nirmala Sitharaman, announced a Rupees 3.05 trillion electricity distribution reform programme while presenting the Union Budget 2021.
The electricity distribution programme will help in reducing the losses and improve the efficiency of electricity distribution companies (DISCOMs).
A framework that allows a choice of electricity supplier to consumers was also announced during the budget presentation.
The government is also considering to table the Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2021.
The bill proposes for the measures like “de-licensing” of the power distribution business in order to bring the competition.
Atal Distribution System Improvement Yojana
The is a Reform-linked and Result-Based scheme that will subsume ongoing programmes like Integrated Power Development Scheme and the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana.
This Reforms-Linked and the Result-Based Scheme for Distribution was initially referred to as the Atal Distribution System Improvement Yojana.
The scheme is being formulated with the aim of helping the power DISCOMs to cut down the electricity losses by 12-15% of the current levels.
The scheme also aims to narrow the deficit between the cost of electricity and price at which it is supplied to ‘zero’ by the end of March 2025.
The scheme will work in phase manner.
The scheme comprises of a compulsory smart metering ecosystem across the distribution sector from the electricity feeders to the consumer level.
Further, the loss reduction measures like separate feeders for agricultural and rural household consumption will also be rolled out.
A compulsory prepaid and smart metering component will also be implemented across the power distribution chain. It will also be implemented for 250 million households.
Why this scheme has been launched?
Power DISCOMs are the weakest link in the electricity value chain. They usually face the challenges like low collection, inadequate tariff hikes, increase in power purchase costs and subsidy disbursements. The government data says that, the aggregate loss for the DISCOMs sector in the year 2018-19 was ₹85,000 crore. Thus, this scheme has been proposed in order to help DISCOMs to raise funds.
The Finance minister of India, Nirmala Sitharaman, have proposed for the “Voluntary Vehicle Scrappage Policy”. This proposal was made during the presentation of the Union Budget for Financial Year 2022. The voluntary vehicle scrappage policy will help to scrap out the unfit and pollution-causing vehicles.
The new policy will help in encouraging the fuel-efficient and environment-friendly vehicles.
Thus, it will reduce the vehicular pollution and cut the India’s huge oil import bills.
As per the proposed Vehicle Scrappage Policy, if any vehicle fails the fitness test more than thrice, it will be subjected to mandatory scrapping.
However, the government is yet to roll out the final scrappage policy.
The voluntary scrappage policy will be based on fitness tests.
Life has been set at 20 years in case of private vehicles while 15 years have been set for commercial vehicles.
This announcement by the government has made just after government’s announcement of a scrappage policy for vehicles that are used by its various departments and public sector undertakings (PSUs).
The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) also approved the vehicle scrappage policy recently for vehicles older than 15 years and that are owned by the government and PSUs.
This policy would apply to central and state government-owned vehicles from April 1, 2022.
The government have announced the policy with the viewpoint that, this scrappage policy will encourage the sales of new vehicles. Automotive manufacturers are also exploring the vehicle scrappage options. This might create ways to develop a separate industry which in turn will generate more employment opportunities.
The two-auto industry executes have recently highlighted that the Maruti Suzuki India Ltd will gain most from a government proposal to levy a green tax on petrol and diesel vehicles.
Maruti is India’s top carmaker and has the largest portfolio of compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles among all the domestic automakers.
The Suzuki Motor Corp. unit has also planned to push its CNG vehicle sales to 200,000 units or more a year by 2022.
In the financial year 2020, Maruti sold a record 106,443 CNG vehicles. The sales of such vehicles have grown with the average of 15.5% annually.
Maruti is further pushing the CNG vehicles as an eco-friendly option as compared to the diesel.
Maruti has stopped selling diesel vehicles and has ambitious plans to expand its portfolio of CNG models.
Maruti has decided to do so in line with the South Korea’s Hyundai which also sells CNG vehicles.
Green Tax on Vehicles
The Road transport and highways minister, Nitin Gadkari, announced to impose a green tax on a certain category of vehicles starting from April 1, 2022. The government has proposed that a green tax could be levied on personal vehicles at the time of renewal of registration certificate. It will be levied after 15 years equivalent to 10-25% of the road tax of a petrol or diesel vehicle. Similar tax would also be levied on transport or commercial vehicles which are older than eight years at the time of renewal of the registration certificate and the fitness certificate.
How Maruti will benefit from the Green tax?
Under the Green tax norms, the Hybrid vehicles, electric vehicles and those vehicles that runs on cleaner alternative fuels like CNG, ethanol and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) will be exempted from the green tax. Higher taxes will be implied on the petrol or diesel vehicles. Higher tax on Petro and diesel cars will force people to shift to CNG. This in turn, will benefit the companies like Maruti and Hyundai. Further, the companies and dealers can use the green cess and increased purchase cost as a marketing strategy so as to induce customers to buy CNG vehicles.
The Textiles Minister of India, Smriti Irani, inaugurated the 8th India International Silk Fair on the Virtual Portal.
This fair is the biggest silk fair of India.
The fair is being held under one roof of the virtual platform of Indian Silk Export Promotion Council.
The fair is a five days long event.
More than 200 overseas buyers have already registered.
Further, around 200 overseas representatives in India will interact with more than 100 renowned and big Indian companies who are engaged in manufacturing and trading the silk and silk blended products.
Silk in the India
Silk is a luxury good in India. Around 97% of the raw mulberry silk is produced in five states namely, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and Gujarat.
Mysore and North Bangalore will also become the site of a US$20 million Silk City.
In Tamil Nadu, mulberry silk cultivation is concentrated in Salem, Erode and Dharmapuri districts.
Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh and Gobichettipalayam in Tamil Nadu were some of the first locations to establish the automated silk reeling units.
India is the 2nd largest producer of Silk after China.
India is also the largest consumer of silk across the world.
India is also the only country across the world that produces all the four major varieties of silk – Mulberry, Eri, Tassar, and Muga.
The cultivation of silk, or Sericulture, date back to the Indus valley Civilization between 2450 BC to 2000 BC. In the Harappa and Chanhu-daro sericulture was employing wild silk threads from the native silkworm species. Indus silks were obtained from species called Antheraea and Philosamia (eri silk).
Eri silk is found in northeast India and some parts of China and Japan. In 1974, it was imported to Thailand. This is a woolly white silk and is often referred to as the fabric of peace since it is processed without killing the silkworm.
It is produced from larvae of several species of silkworms living in the wild forests in trees. The silk is valued for its rich texture and natural deep gold colour. It is produced in China, Japan, India, and Sri Lanka.
The Bangladesh Authorities recently moved around 1,750 Rohingya Muslims to a controversial island in the Bay of Bengal called the “Bhashan Char Island”. This move by Bangladesh was opposed by the refugees already living on the island.
About Bhashan Char
The island is also known as Char Piya. It is in Hatiya Upazila, Bangladesh. The island is located in the Bay of Bengal at about 6 kilometres from Sandwip island and 60 kilometres from the mainland. It has an area of 40 square kilometres.
How the island was formed?
The island was formed in the year 2006 by Himalayan silt.
Recent development by Bangladesh on Island
The Government of Bangladesh have planned to construct 1,440 buildings on the island.
The building will also include 120 cyclone shelters.
The buildings were constructed with the objective of relocating the 100,000 Rohingya refugees from the mainland camps of Cox’s Bazar.
Recently, in August 2019, Ashrayan Project (Ashrayan-3) was expended to build 100,000 homes on the island.
It is a city, fishing port, tourism centre and district headquarters of the southern Bangladesh. This city is famous for long natural sandy beach. It is also known as the Panowa.
It is an island along the south-eastern coast of Bangladesh in Chittagong District. The island is a part of Sandwip Upazila.
They are a stateless Indo-Aryan ethnic group who follow Islam. They reside in the Rakhine State of Myanmar. Around 1.4 million Rohingyas lived in Myanmar until a displacement crisis of 2017 when 740,000 fled to Bangladesh. They are called as the most persecuted minorities in the world. They are denied citizenship under the 1982 Myanmar nationality law. They do not have the freedom of movement, state education and civil service jobs in Myanmar.
The government has decided to include 14 new minor forest produce items under the mechanism for marketing of minor forest produce by the minimum support price scheme.
This new mechanism will help to provide remunerative and fair prices to tribal gatherers of forest produces.
The items which have been included in the scheme include- Tasar Cocoon, bamboo shoot, elephant apple dry, wild dry mushroom and malkangani seed.
Minimum Support Price (MSP)
It is an agricultural product price which is set by the Government of India to purchase directly from the farmer.
MSP is not enforceable by law.
This MSP rate is decided to safeguard the farmer to a minimum profit for the harvest in case the open market has lesser price than the cost incurred.
Price is set for 23 commodities twice a year.
It is set on the recommendations of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) since 2009.
The Minimum Support Price was announced for the first time in the year 1966-67 for wheat. The MSP was decided in the light of Green Revolution and extended harvest in order to save the farmers from depleting profits.
Minor Forest Produce (MFP)
It includes all non-timber forest produce of plant origin. It also includes bamboo, fodder, leaves, canes, waxes dyes, gums, resins and many forms of food like nuts, honey wild fruits, lac, tusser etc. MFP It provides both subsistence and cash income for people living in or near the forests.
MFP through MSP scheme
It is a centrally sponsored scheme. The scheme ensure that the tribal population gets remunerative price for the MFP and seeks to provide them alternative employment avenues. The mechanism for marketing of minor forest produce through minimum support price and development of value chain for MFP’ scheme is done by the State designated agencies. To assure the market price, the services of market correspondents are availed by the designated agencies.
The United Nations counter terrorism chief have asked the countries to repatriate the 27,000 children who are stranded in massive camp in north-eastern Syria. Many of the children are sons and daughters of Islamic State extremists who controlled the large swathes of Iraq and Syria.
What are the concerns?
Horrific situation of the children in Al Hol (camp) is among the most pressing issues in the world today.
The 27,000 children are stranded and they stand abandoned to their fate.
They are also vulnerable to be preyed on by Islamic State enforcers.
Further, the children are at risk of radicalization within the camp.
Al Hol or al-Hawl refugee camp
It is the largest camp for refugees and displaced Syrians in the country. The camp is presently home to almost 62,000 residents.
More than 80% of the residents are women and children. They have fled to the camp after Islamic State militants lost their last Syrian stronghold in the year 2019 in the wake of Syrian Civil War.
The camp is situated at the southern outskirts of the town of al-Hawl in northern Syria. It is close to the Syria-Iraq border.
The camp holds the individuals displaced from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
This camp is controlled by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
Syrian civil war
It is an ongoing multi-sided civil war in Syria. The war is fought between the Ba’athist Syrian Arab Republic which is led by Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and various domestic and foreign forces who are opposing both the Syrian government and each other. This unrest in Syria was started on March 15, 2011 as part of the wider 2011 Arab Spring protests. This was escalated because of the discontent with the Syrian government.
Syria is a West-Asian Country. It has border with Lebanon in the southwest, Mediterranean Sea in the west, Turkey in the north, Iraq in the east, Jordan in the south while Israel in the southwest.
Syria is home to diverse ethnic groups such as Syrian Arabs, Turkemens, kurds, Armenians, Assyrians, Circassians, Greeks and Mandeans and the religious groups such as Sunnis, Christians, Druze, Alawites, Salafis, Mandeans, Shiites and Yazidis.
Among all, the Arabs are largest ethnic group while the Sunnis are the largest religious group. The country is a member of United Nations and the Non-Aligned Movement. Syria got suspended from the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.
The largest city of Syria is Aleppo followed by Damascus, Homs, Latakia and Hama.
The country was the centers of Neolithic culture or the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A in 10000 BC. It was the first country in the world where agriculture and cattle breeding appeared for the first time.