The government has announced for the launch of Start-up India Seed Fund Scheme (SISFS) on January 29, 2021.
Start-up India Seed Fund Scheme (SISFS)
The scheme will be launched with a corpus of Rs 945 crore.
The scheme was launched with the aim of providing the financial assistance to start-ups for the product trials, market-entry, proof of concept, prototype development and commercialization.
The funds under the Start-up India Seed Fund Scheme will be disbursed through the selected incubators across the country.
The scheme will be in mission mode for the year 2021-25.
The official notification on the launch of SISFS was released by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT).
The overall execution and monitoring of the SISFS will be done by the DPIIT. The DPIIT will form an Experts Advisory Committee (EAC) to look after the same.
The Expert Advisory Committee (EAC) will evaluate and select the incubators in order to allot the Seed Funds, take all required measures for efficient utilization of funds and to monitor the progress.
The seed support will be provided only once to any start-up.
Which start-ups are eligible under the scheme?
The funds under SISFS can be availed by a start-up that are incorporated not before the 2 years ago at the time of application.
The Start-ups will be recognized by the DPIIT.
The start-up seeking funds under the scheme must have a suitable commercially viable business idea and it should use technology in its core product or service.
The notification highlights that, preference will be given to start-ups that create innovative solutions in sectors such as waste management, social impact, healthcare, textiles, agriculture, water management, defence, food processing, education, energy, railways, financial inclusion, mobility, space, oil, gas and biotechnology.
Start-ups should not have received monetary support of more than Rs 10 lakh under any other central or state government scheme.
It should have at least 51% shareholding by Indian promoters at the time of application to the incubators in accordance with the Companies Act, 2013 and SEBI (ICDR) Regulations, 2018.
Conditions for Incubators
As per the eligibility conditions, the incubators must be legal entities. It must be operational for at least 2 years on the date of application to the scheme. Further, it should have at least five start-ups undergoing incubation physically and should have the seating capacity for at least 25 individuals. They should have a full-time CEO and a capable team.
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman tabled the Economic Survey 2020-21 in the Lok Sabha on January 29, 2021.
The Economic Survey 2021 presented an estimation of the progress that the Indian economy has made in the last 12 months.
The survey highlights that the real growth rate for Financial Year 2021 was taken as -7.7% as per MoSPI while the real growth rate for Financial Year 2022 is assumed was taken as 11.5 % on the basis of estimates provided by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
It further highlights that, the gross domestic product (GDP) was contracted by a record 23.9 per cent in April-June 2020 while it contracted by 7.5 percent in the second quarter.
For the full fiscal, the survey projected a contraction of 7.7 per cent while a V-shaped recovery in the next. GDP growth will be expanding by 11 per cent in the 2021-22 fiscal.
As per the survey, there was de-growth for the first time.
It highlights that the Indian economy is technically in a recession as it has witnessed a contraction in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the last two consecutive quarters.
The Survey also provided a detailed analysis of India’s V-shaped economic recovery after it was affected due to corona pandemic. It highlights that mega vaccination drive supports the V-shaped recovery.
As per the survey, Agriculture sector has remained the silver lining in the growth trajectory even during the pandemic however, contact-based services such as manufacturing and construction faced sharp decline due to the corona pandemic.
It highlights that how Healthcare sector has taken centre stage in the economy where the government took part actively in shaping and structuring the healthcare market in the country.
The Economic Survey of India
It is the flagship annual document released by the Ministry of Finance. The document is presented in the parliament just before the Union Budget by the Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance. The document is prepared under the guidance of the Chief Economic Adviser of India. During the budget session, this document is presented to both the houses of the parliament. The document is non-binding in nature.
The first ever Economic Survey of India was presented in 1950-51. It was presented as a part of the Union Budget. The survey got separated from the Union Budget after the year 1964.
Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the union territory of Ladakh recently signed an agreement for the development of the Union Territory through Science and Technology (S&T) interventions.
About the MoU
The agreement was signed by CSIR-IIIM Director D. Srinivas Reddy and Rigzin Samplel who is the Commissioner Secretary Agriculture and Horticulture, Ladakh UT.
The MoU was signed with the aim of establishing a knowledge partnership between CSIR and the Ladakh UT.
It seeks to develop the areas like exploration of natural resources, introduction of cash crops in the region and bioresource utilization which is endemic to Ladakh.
Various CSIR Institutes will now start research and development, extension and societal projects in accordance with the agreement. The projects will be based on their core competencies in the region.
In the first phase institutes like CSIR-IIIM, CSIR-CMERI, CSIR-NBRI, CSIR-IHBT, CSIR-CLRI and CSIR-NGRI will provide extensive knowledge and technological support in the Union territory. For this purpose, CSIR-IIIM, Jammu will be the nodal institution.
Major areas of interest include the aromatic and nutraceutical plants or crops, Geophysical mapping, eco-friendly leather processing, bioprospection of endemic microbial, industrial agriculture with a focus on commercialization of endemic & other high-value medicinal, plants diversity, and microbiological & biotechnological interventions.
Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)
CSIR was established by the Government of India in September 1942. It was established as an autonomous body which now is the largest research and development organisation in India. The body is mainly funded by the Ministry of Science and Technology. It is functional as an autonomous body under the Societies Registration Act, 1860. The body is involved into various research and development activities such as structural engineering aerospace engineering, ocean sciences, metallurgy, chemicals, food, life sciences, petroleum, leather, and environmental science.
The Department of School Education and Literacy under the Ministry of Education, and the World Bank have signed the Strengthening Teaching-Learning and Results for States Program (STARS) project on January 28, 2021. The project is a financial support agreement.
STARS project is a centrally sponsored scheme that seeks to strengthen the school education system.
The agreement has been signed with an aim of improving the quality and governance of school education in six states of India.
The 6 Indian states include- Kerala, Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Odisha.
The STARS project will be benefitting approximately 250 million students in the age group of 6 to 17 years coming from the 1.5 million schools.
Apart from the students, the project will also benefit 10 million teachers across the six states.
The project was launched with the aim of strengthening the public-school education.
It also supports India’s aim of “Education for All”.
The STARS Project carry forward the vision of the National Education Policy 2020 that envisages the equitable education for all.
Funding to the Project
The total cost of the STARS project is Rs 5718 crore.
The world bank has provided financial support worth $500 million which stands around Rs. 3700 crores.
This loan has been provided by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) which is the lending arm of the World Bank.
The world bank has provided the final maturity of 17.5 years for the $500 million along with a grace period of 5 years.
The STARS project was approved by the Union Cabinet under NEP 2020 in October 2020.
International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD)
It is an international financial institution. It was established in the year 1944. The IBRD is headquartered in Washington, D.C., United States. IBRD is the lending arm of World Bank Group. It offers loans to the middle-income developing countries.
The Covid-19 Response Index was provided by Sydney-based Lowy Institute, recently. The study was based on the number of key indicators such as confirmed cases, cases per million people, deaths and deaths per million people.
Key findings of the index
India was ranked 86th in a coronavirus performance index among the 98 countries.
Report highlights that, New Zealand handled the pandemic more effectively than any other country across the world.
Brazil was ranked at the bottom of the list.
In the index, New Zealand was followed by Vietnam, Taiwan, Thailand and Cyprus.
US was ranked as the fifth-worst performing country.
Sri Lanka was placed at 10th position in handling the Covid-19 pandemic.
The report further reveals that, the smaller populations, cohesive societies and capable institutions were big factors to successfully deal with the pandemic.
China was not included in the study since its testing rates are not publicly available.
India has so far reported 1.07 crore infections and 1,53,847 deaths – one of the world’s lowest fatality rates from the disease, attributed partly to its younger population.
About the Index
The indicators used for ranking the countries point out that how well or poorly countries have managed the pandemic. An average of the rankings was given across the six indicators. Then it was normalised for each country so as to produce a score between 0 for the worst performing and 100 for best performing. The study was conducted for 36 weeks.
The Lowy Institute
It is an independent think tank that was founded in April 2003. It was founded by Frank Lowy. The think tank is involved in conducting the original, policy-relevant research about the international political, strategic and economic issues. The institute is based in Sydney, Australia. The institute is funded by donations from the investment management firm, Manikay Partners.
The fifth joint meeting of the India-Japan Act East Forum was held between India and Japan on January 28, 2021. The meeting was co-chaired by Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla and the Ambassador of Japan to India, Suzuki Satoshi.
At the Act East Forum, India and Japan reviewed the progress of ongoing projects in the North Eastern Region of India.
These projects were launched in the areas ranging from the hydropower, connectivity, harnessing of water resource, sustainable development, and skill development.
Both the countries also discussed several ongoing new projects under India-Japan bilateral cooperation.
They also exchanged their views on cooperation in new areas including agro-industries, healthcare and SMEs, Smart city, tourism, bamboo value chain development, and people-to-people exchanges.
Both the sides also appreciated the role played by the Act East Forum, ever since it was established in the year 2017, in streamlining India-Japan bilateral cooperation.
They highlighted how the forum has helped in the modernization of the North Eastern Region.
The Act East Forum also provides a platform for India-Japan collaboration in the North Eastern Region in accordance with the India’s Act East Policy and Japan’s vision for a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific”.
Act East Forum
The act east forum was established in the year 2017. The agreement to established the forum was signed in September 2017 during the visit of Prime Minister Abe to India. This platform works in line with the Japan’s vision for a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” and India-Japan collaboration in the North Eastern Region under India’s “Act East Policy”.
Act East Policy
The act east policy was launched in November 2014 at the East Asia Summit in Myanmar. The policy was launched with the focus on the economic and security integration. The policy mainly focusses on the area like South East Asia and the East Asia. This policy is said to be the modification of the Look East Policy.
Look East Policy
The look east policy of India was launched by the former Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao in the year1991. This policy was launched then with the aim of shifting the India’s trading focus from the west and neighbours to the South East Asian countries. This policy was discontinued in 2014 with the enactment of Act east policy.
Recently, India joined the world and Light Up Qutub Minar as a sign of unity to combat the Neglected Tropical Diseases (NDT).
This was done to mark the second annual World NTD Day that will be observed on January 30th.
The World Neglected Tropical Diseases Day highlights the global community’s commitment to end the diseases.
The NDT diseases cause immeasurable suffering among the most marginalized communities of the world.
On the occasion of World NTD day, 50 landmarks representing the 25 nations of the world will be lit up. They will celebrate how far the world have come together in beating the NTD.
What are Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD)?
The NTDs are a diverse group of communicable diseases that prevail in tropical and subtropical conditions.
These diseases affect more than one billion people every year. In combating the disease, the countries invest billions of dollars every year.
The Populations who are living in poverty, where there is no adequate sanitation, those who are in close contact with infectious vectors, domestic animals & livestock are highly affected by such diseases.
As per the WHO major NTDs are: Buruli Ulcers, Chagas Disease, Dengue, Chikungunya, Sleeping Sickness (Human African Trypanosomiasis), Hansen’s Disease (Leprosy), Trachoma Mycetoma, chromo-blastomycosis, deep mycoses etc.
NTD cases in India
As per the data, one in five people across the world are affected by NTD.
India is home to the world’s largest absolute burden of 11 of the major neglected tropical diseases.
World NTD Day
It is an awareness day that addresses the neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). World NTD Day was celebrated on January 20, 2020 for the first time. The date, January 30, marks the anniversary of the 2012 London Declaration on NTDs. The London declaration had unified the partners across sectors, countries and disease communities for a greater cooperation, investment and action on NTDs.
India and France will launch the Year of Environment. It will be launched by the Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar and his French counterpart Ms. Barbara Pompili in a bid to strengthen the ecological partnership.
Indo-French partnership on Environment, Biodiversity, Climate Change and other allied areas will be an example for the world.
India and France have already undertaken several environment projects in Assam, Rajasthan.
Another project will start in Jharkhand.
Indian side said that the year 2021 will also enhance the cooperation in sustainable development and increasing the effectiveness of actions for the global environment protection.
Agenda of the meeting
Both sides will work towards deepening the Indo-French cooperation on sustainable development in the field of renewable energy, biodiversity conservation, plastic waste management and smart cities.
The Indo-French initiative also aim to boost the cooperation between the two countries on climate issues and jointly boost the global momentum throughout 2021. The year 2021 is a key year to fight against climate change and the erosion of biodiversity.
Both sides will hold talks on joint efforts in order to promote the renewable energy and smart grids.
They will also discuss to strengthen and universalise the International Solar Alliance. an international organisation initiated by France and India.
They will enhance the bilateral technical cooperation on high-efficiency solar panels.
Further, new investments will be made from French companies in solar power projects and smart grids in India.
India’s achievement in climate change action
India has made significant efforts in the climate change action. India achieved 26 per cent of reduction of emission intensity so far. The renewable capacity in India stands at 90 Giga Watt as of 2020. It also includes 36 Giga Watt of solar energy and 38 Giga Watt of wind energy
The Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has released ‘Marine Mega Fauna Stranding Guidelines’ and ‘National Marine Turtle Action Plan’ recently to create a conservation paradigm for the marine mega fauna and marine turtles.
The documents were released containing the ways and means to promote the inter-sectoral action for conservation.
The documents also suggest for improving the coordination amongst the government, civil society and all relevant stakeholders so as to response to the cases of stranding, injury or mortality of marine mammals.
It also suggests coordinated efforts for the conservation of marine turtles.
The documents contain the actions that are required to handle the stranded animals on shore.
It will also look after the stranded or entangled animals in the sea or on a boat.
It comprises of the management actions for improved coordination, rehabilitation of degraded habitats, reducing threats to marine species habitats, advance scientific research, enhancing people’s participation and exchange of information on marine mammals & marine turtles.
What was the need of action plan?
India has a rich marine biodiversity along its coastline of over 7,500 km. It comprises of sharks, whale sharks, colorful fish, dolphins, turtles, big mammals such as whales and dugongs.
The bright corals marine habitats harbor the diverse species and provide various resources essential for human wellbeing.
Millions of people depend on these resources. The resources range from the maritime trade & transport, mineral resource, food, cultural traditions, spiritual values & inspiration. All these resources also attract tourists from across the world.
Thus, India needs to conserve the marine resources to meet the demands and increasing people’s participation.
Challenges faced by Marine Resources
The marine resources and habitats have immense economic, ecological and cultural values in India. But, the marine mega fauna species and marine turtles face a wide variety of challenges. The challenges include stranding and entanglement.
The Gender Park in Kozhikode, Kerala will open from next month. The park will become functional on the occasion of the second edition of the International Conference on Gender Equality (ICGE-II).
The park will be inaugurated by the Chief Minister of Kerala, Pinarayi Vijayan, in between February 11-13 that will also mark the inauguration of second edition of ICGE-II.
On this occasion, foundation of the International Women’s Trade and Research Centre (IWTRC) will also be laid down.
The IWTRC will be established with the objective of providing a secure and sustained ecosystem for women entrepreneurs. It will also provide women a space to market products.
International Conference on Gender Equality (ICGE-II)
The ICGE is an initiative by the Gender Park. The second edition of the conference will be inaugurated with the objective of exploring the measures to boost the economic potential of women and transgender persons. It will help them to be equipped as sustainable entrepreneurs. The conference will be organised under the theme: “Gender in Sustainable Entrepreneurship and Social Business: The Mediating Role of Empowerment”. This event will be organised in collaboration with the UN Women.
The Gender Park
The gender park was established by the government of Kerala in 2013. It is an initiative that work towards gender equality and empowerment in Kerala. The headquartered for the initiative is in the capital of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram. However, the main campus is at Silver Hills, Kozhikode. The campus has an area of 24-acre. The park has been set with its main focus on gender justice. The platform will provide an environment for policy analysis, research, capacity development, advocacy, economic and social initiative. The park will be operational under the Department of Social Justice. This space is first of its kind across the world.
Aim of Gender Park
The gender park was established with the aim of creating relevant interventions so as to address a range of gender-based issues. It includes both off-campus and on-campus activities and other projects that work to empower the individuals and communities.
India has extended its “Vaccine Maitri Initiative” to Sri-Lanka now. As per the agreement, India dispatched 500000 doses of Covishield vaccines to Sri Lanka as grant assistance. The vaccine maitri initiative has delivered nearly five million doses to seven countries in the neighbourhood, till date.
The delivery of vaccines which has been made by the Serum Institute of India is in light with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s commitment to the Sri Lankan counterpart Mahinda Rajapaksa during. PM Modi had committed in September 2020 during a virtual summit to provide all the possible support in order to minimise the health and economic impacts of the pandemic in Sri Lanka.
Vaccine Maitri Initiative
The Vaccine Maitri or the Vaccine Friendship initiative was started on January 20, 2021.
Under the initiative, India will supply Made-in-India Covid-19 vaccines to its neighbouring. Other key partners of the Neighbourhood First Policy will also be getting the vaccine.
Bhutan and Maldives were the first country to get the vaccines.
Both the countries are followed by Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and Seychelles.
Sri Lanka get the vaccine doses after regulatory approval.
Afghanistan and Mauritius will also get doses after they give necessary regulatory approvals.
Pakistan has not been named as a neighbouring country by India to deliver the vaccine.
Till date, India has provided 150,000 doses of vaccine to Bhutan, 100,000 doses to Maldives, 2 million doses to Bangladesh, 1 million doses to Nepal, 1.5 million doses to Myanmar, 50,000 doses to Seychelles and 100,000 doses to Mauritius.
Commercial supplies of Covishield
India has also supplied the two million doses of Covishield to each of Brazil and Morocco, and five million doses to Bangladesh. Further, the doses will be supplied to South Africa and Saudi Arabia.
India’s Vaccine Diplomacy
The delivery of vaccines as grant assistance is in line with India’s neighbourhood first policy and SAGAR doctrine.
India is actively supplying doses to comply with its role as the first responder to the pandemic in the region.
India-Sri Lanka: In 2020, India had extended a $400-million currency swap facility to Sri Lanka in order to ensure financial stability. India also provided aid of 26 tonnes of essential lifesaving medicines and equipment.
India also actively supplied Hydroxychloroquine, Remdesivir, Paracetamol tablets, diagnostic kits, masks, gloves, ventilators and other medical supplies to many countries during the pandemic.
India has also provided training to its neighbouring countries so as to enhance their clinical capabilities under the Partnerships for Accelerating Clinical Trials (PACT) programme.
The PACT programme was launched to support the COVID-19 vaccine development activities in partnering countries. Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) and Clinical Development Services Agency (CDSA) under the aegis of the National Biopharma Mission and Ind-CEPI Mission of DBT are the implementing agencies of the programme.
A rare maritime mineral, Jarosite, has been found in the Antarctica ice. It was discovered after drilling deep into Antarctic ice.
What the discovery signifies?
The recently discovered mineral was examined and it was found that it was formed in pockets within the ice. This supports the theory of presence of jarosite on MARS in as similar manner. It signifies that, the minerals are able to form in thick deposits on mars because the planet is a lot dustier than Antarctica.
What is Jarosite?
Jarosite is a mineral from mars which is scarcely seen on earth.
It is a sulphate of potassium and iron.
The mineral can be formed by both water and acidic conditions.
It was first discovered on Mars in 2004 by a rover named “opportunity”.
Other Jarosite minerals include silver, sodium, lead and ammonium.
It can be found are in the mining and ore processing wastes where they act as sinks for other toxic elements such as lead and arsenic.
When the jarosite is broken, it releases metals such as iron, potassium besides the hydrogen ions and sulphate.
Jarosite is used in hydrometallurgy to control impurities.
The name Jarosite was derived from a Spanish name of a yellow flower of genus Cistus.
The mineral was described in 1852 by August Breithaupt for the first time.
It is yellow to yellowish-brown in colour. It is brittle, hard and has crystal structure. The mineral appears translucent and opaque sometimes.
Why Jarosite is found on Mars?
The reason for the presence of the mineral on the Mars (Red Planet) is not yet determined. The scientists believe that when the planet was covered with ice millennials ago sulphate, iron, and potassium might get trapped in the form of dust. This believe is not accepted because dust and ice have never chemically reacted to form minerals. Though ice provided a suitable environment for the transformation of dust to the mineral.
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has released its “Global Climate Litigation Report 2021”. The report was published by the UNEP in cooperation with the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University. The report highlights that the Climate litigation cases have increased in recent years. The litigations have made the courtroom increasingly relevant to efforts to address the climate change across the world.
Key Findings of the report
As per the report, climate cases have nearly doubled over the last three years.
Increasing climates cases are increasingly compelling the governments and corporate actors to implement their climate commitments.
The cases are also compelling the government to pursue more ambitious climate change mitigation and adaptation goals.
As per the data provided by the report, in 2017 884 cases were brought in 24 countries. While as of 2020, cases have increased to 1,550 filed in 38 countries and the European Union courts.
Report finds that the climate litigation continues to be concentrated in high-income countries and the trend might further grow in the global south.
The report has also identified the trends in climate litigation like Violations of “climate rights”. That means the cases are increasingly relying on fundamental human rights such as right to life, food, health and water.
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
UNEP, which is also called UN Environment, was established by Maurice Strong in June1972 following the UN conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm. The organisation involves in coordinating the responses to environmental issues within the United Nations system. It provides the leadership, deliver science and develop the solutions on issues like climate change, management of marine & terrestrial ecosystems and green economic development. It also develops the international environmental agreement and helps in achieving the environmental targets. The primary aim of the UNEP is to help the world to meet the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Environmental agreements such as the Minamata Convention on Mercury, Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and Convention on Migratory Species are organised by UNEP. It also helps in implementing the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol and Global Environment Facility (GEF).