National - 2018 AUGUST

August 1

Cabinet clears amendments to GST laws
The Cabinet approved GST laws amendments which included hiking threshold limit for availing composition scheme dealers to Rs 1.5 crore, among other things.
The government will now table amendments to the Central GST law, Integrated GST law, Compensation Cess law in the ongoing monsoon session of Parliament.
In all, there are 46 amendments, which among other things, will allow employers to claim input tax credit on facilities like food, transport and insurance provided to employees under any law.
It also provides for modification of reverse charge mechanism, separate registration for companies having different business verticals, cancellation of registration, new return filing norms and issuance of consolidated debit/credit notes covering multiple invoices.
Cabinet approves LIC's acquisition of 51% stake in IDBI Bank
Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has cleared the Life Insurance Corporation's acquisition of 51 per cent stake in the debt-ridden IDBI Bank. The approval of the deal means LIC will raise its stake in the bank from the current 8 per cent to 51 per cent, which makes makes it a majority holder. As per the proposal, IDBI Bank will issue preferential shares to LIC to raise money.
The LIC stake buy will help the bank get capital support of Rs 10,000-13,000 crore. With the acquisition of a majority stake, LIC is expected to appoint at least four members on the bank's board.
According to the takeover plan approved by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA), the state-owned insurance company would not have any management control over the state-owned bank. Also, LIC would present a comprehensive plan to reduce its stake to 15 per cent over a period of the seven years.
The government, with 86 per cent stake in IDBI, wanted to privatise IDBI by ceding control for long. However, its plan did not succeed due to the bank's deteriorating financial condition.

India, Germany sign pact for financial, technical collaboration in area of urban development
India and Germany signed an agreement on financial and technical cooperation, with a focus on sustainable urban development and renewable energy.
The agreement was signed between German Ambassador to India Martin Ney and Joint Secretary, (Department of Economic Affairs), Finance Ministry, Sameer Kumar Khare.
Germany had pledged nearly Rs 8,500 crore (1,055 million Euros) for development cooperation with India during Indo-German inter-governmental negotiations.

IWAI launches dedicated portal for cargo owners and shippers
The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) has launched a dedicated portal to connect cargo owners and shippers with real time data on availability of vessels.
It has been designed and developed by the in-house IT Department and the traffic wing of IWAI as part of its preparedness for optimal use of its ongoing capacity development on various National Waterways.
“The landmark e-connect measure will enable direct interaction among the vessel operators, shippers and cargo owners as currently, there is no platform to know the availability of vessels in the market.
The portal has been named as the Forum of Cargo Owners and Logistics Operators (FOCAL) and it will facilitate responses from the logistics operators against the requirement raised by cargo owners and vice-versa.

Suresh Prabhu launches logo, tagline for Geographical Indications
Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu launched a logo and tagline for Geographical Indications (GI) to increase awareness about intellectual property rights (IPRs) in the country.
A Geographical Indication (GI) product is primarily an agricultural, natural or a manufactured product (handicraft and industrial goods) originating from a definite geographical territory.
Typically, such a name conveys an assurance of quality and distinctiveness, which is essentially attributable to the place of its origin.

NABARD sanctions Rs 772 crore for water projects in Haryana
NABARD has sanctioned Rs 722 crore for eight water projects in the rural areas of Haryana, state Minister for Public Health Engineering Banwari Lal announced.
Works on these projects, which will supply water to 256 villages and 72 hamlets, are in progress, adding that the state government has sent three more project proposals, costing Rs 236.85 crore, to NABARD for financial assistance.
The second proposal aims to supply water to 109 villages and nine hamlets.

Solar Charkha Mission to create one lakh direct jobs
The Solar Charkha Mission, with a budget of Rs 550 crore for the initial two years, will generate direct employment for nearly one lakh persons, Parliament was informed.
Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) has launched the Mission Solar Charkha for implementation of 50 Solar Charkha Clusters across the country with a budget of Rs 550 crore for the year 2018-19 and 2019-20. The scheme will generate direct employment to nearly one lakh persons.
Solar charkha units have been classified as village industries. The mission was launched by President Ram Nath Kovind on 27 June, 2018 on the occasion of UN SME Day.

Startup India Yatra launched in Chhattisgarh
The Startup India Yatra was launched in Raipur, the capital city of Chattisgarh. The first boot camp saw a large number of students queue up to register themselves.
The Startup India yatra van travelled to Bilaspur for the second boot camp at the Government Engineering College in Bilaspur.
In the coming days, the van will travel to several other cities of Chhattisgarh including Korba, Koria, Surguja, Jashpur, Raigarh, Balodabazar, Durg, Rajnandgaon, Balod, Dhamtari, Kanker, Kondagaon, Jagdalpur and Dantewada and hold boot camps in the Government Engineering colleges and Polytechnic Institutes.

For the first time, Arunachal Pradesh opens door for medical colleges availing best medical facilities
Ensuring proper healthcare and medical facilities along with preparing good future doctors, the first medical college of Arunachal Pradesh, Tomo Riba Institute of Health and Medical Sciences (TRIHMS), has started its maiden academic session.
Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu has assured full support from the state government for functioning and development of the TRIHMS. Chairing the third meeting of the Governing Council of the TRIHMS Society at Itanagar, its providing quality, affordable and timely healthcare facilities to the people was of topmost priority for the state government and the upcoming medical college and hospital was a significant initiative towards fulfilling this commitment.

Maharashtra government approves over Rs 7,000 crore for water projects
The Maharashtra government has approved over Rs 7,000 crore to complete the drinking water projects in scarcity-hit areas.
The government is committed to provide water to all villages that are perennially dry.
Under the National Rural Drinking Water Scheme, the government has approved a proposal of Rs 7,952 crore for completing 6,624 water projects in 10,583 villages.

Cabinet approves raising Rs 15,000 crore Extra Budgetary Resources for Swachh Bharat Mission
The Union Cabinet approved raising funds up to Rs 15,000 as Extra Budgetary Resources (EBR) for Swachh Bharat Mission during the financial year 2018-19.
Chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Cabinet's decision would benefit around 1.5 crore rural households eligible for incentives under the Swachh Bharat Mission (Rural) and also gram panchayats for Solid and Liquid Waste Management (SLWM).
The Cabinet also approved expansion of the scope of work of International Centre for Drinking Water Quality to authorise it for receiving EBR funds for SBM(G), disbursement of the same to the states/UTs implementing agencies, and its repayment.

August 2

Cabinet Approvals
The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the first extension of Concessional Financing Scheme (CFS) to support Indian Entities bidding for strategically important infrastructure projects abroad.
The total outlay for this scheme is Rs.625.63 crore.
Cabinet approves: Raising of Extra Budgetary Resources (EBR) amounting up to Rs. 15,000 crore during the financial year 2018-19
Raising funds up to Rs.15,000 crore as Extra Budgetary Resources (EBR) (Gol Fully Serviced Bonds) for Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) [SBM(G)] during the financial year 2018-19 through NABARD.
Cabinet approves Policy Framework for exploration and exploitation of Unconventional Hydrocarbons
It will be carried out under the existing Production Sharing Contracts (PSCs), CBM contracts and Nomination fields.
Cabinet approves issue of fresh equity to the extent of 15% of the paid up equity capital by Hindustan Copper Limited
This will be done by Hindustan Copper Limited (HCL) through the Qualified Institutions Placement (QIP) route as per SEBI’s guidelines with face value of Rs.5 for each share.
GoI’s shareholding in HCL will come down from 76.05% to 66.13%.
Cabinet approves Re-structuring of the Agricultural Scientists’ Recruitment Board (ASRB)
The ASRB will now be a 4 Member body instead of 3 Members. It will have a Chairperson and 3 Members. ASRB would be for a period of three years or till attainment of 65 years of age, whichever is earlier.
ASRB shall be delinked from ICAR and to be attached with Dept. of Agricultural Research & Education (DARE) under Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare.

Seva Bhoj Yojna: new scheme worth Rs. 325 crore launched by the Ministry of Culture, Government of India
The Ministry of Culture, Government of India has launched the new scheme namely Seva Bhoj Yojna’ starting first 1 august, with a total outlay of Rs. 325.00 Crores for Financial Years 2018-19 and 2019-20.
The scheme envisages to reimburse the Central Government share of Central Goods and Services Tax (CGST) and Integrated Goods and Service Tax (IGST) so as to lessen the financial burden of such as Religious / Charitable Institutions who provide Food/Prasad/Langar (Community Kitchen)/Bhandara free of cost without any discrimination to Public/ Devotees.

Railway minister approves new sportspersons promotion policy
Railway Minister Piyush Goyal approveda new policy for promotion of railway sportspersons, according to which not just those who win medals but even those who are awarded Padma Shri or have produced medal winners will be promoted as officers.
The railway ministry sportspersons, who have made two appearances in Olympics or won medals in Asian Games or Common Wealth Games deserve promotion to the rank of officer.
Further, railway sportspersons who are winners of awards like Arjuna or Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna would be entitled for the promotion.
Any coach whose trainees have produced at least three medal winning performances in Olympic Games or World Cups or World Championships or Asian Games or Commonwealth Games, including at least one medal in Olympic Games, would be eligible for the officer rank.
This liberalised promotion policy will act as an incentive to the country's elite sportspersons and coaches, the statement read.

Environment & Skill Development Ministries Sign MoU to train one lakh RAC Service Technicians
Emphasising that India is being globally lauded for its green initiatives and commitment to environment and climate change, Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Dr. Harsh Vardhan announced that the Skill India is an endeavour by the Government to act as a catalyst in bringing about a change by skilling, up-skilling and re-skilling technicians to bring down the emission of harmful greenhouse gases. The Minister pointed out that our nation is now being seen as a trailblazer in clean and green energy under the able leadership of the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi.
The Minister pointed out that even prior to the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding, MoEF&CC has already launched a Green Skill Mission, adding that under the Mission, within the next three years, training will be imparted to 5 lakh 86 thousand persons. The courses to provide skill development to scientists and technicians have also been drawn up in the Ministry of Science and Technology. Dr. Harsh Vardhan quoted the example of Andhra Pradesh Government, which has started the process of providing skill development in the leather industry to about 10, 000 persons at a cost of Rs. 30 crore.

Textile ministry launches SAATHI initiative
Ministry of Textiles and Ministry of Power have joined hands under the initiative SAATHI(Sustainable and Accelerated Adoption of efficient Textile technologies to Help Small Industries) in order to sustain and accelerate the adoption of energy efficient textile technologies in the power loom sector and cost savings due to use of such technology.
Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), a Public Sector entity under the administrative control of Ministry of Power, will replace old inefficient electric motors with energy efficient IE3 motors which will result in energy and cost saving up to 10-15% in the first phase.
The use of these efficient equipments will result in energy savings and cost savings to the unit owners at no upfront cost. Powerloom clusters at Ichalkaranji, Bhiwandi, Erode, Surat, Bhilwara and Panipat have been identified for pilot study.
This information was given by the Minister of State of Textiles, Ajay Tamta, in a written reply in the Lok Sabha.

‘WOW’ (Wellness for Women) app launched for creating awareness on preventive healthcare by FICCI Ladies Organisation
FICCI Ladies Organisation, the women's wing of Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry has launched a mobile application aimed at creating awareness on preventive healthcare.
The mobile application "WOW" (Wellness of Women) is backed by city-based Apollo Hospitals Group that offers access to renowned doctors and provides health tips.
Users can also upload clinical information such as reports, images and scans so that experts can provide an opinion within a stipulated time, FICCI Ladies Organisation, National President, Pinky Reddy informed after unveiling the app at an event.

India & Japan to cooperate in bamboo sector in Tripura
A team from the Japanese Embassy in New Delhi, along with a few bamboo artisans from Japan, is on a two-day visit to Agartala, Tripura, to discuss possibilities of a India-Japan cooperation in bamboo craft sector.
The Japanese team, led by Kenko Sone, Minister, Economic and Development, Embassy of Japan, India, is on a visit of the region and arrived.
The team visited Crafts & More, a showroom of unique bamboo handicraft made by artisans, mainly from the tribal section of people, trained and funded under the Tripura JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) project.
During the workshop, they shall exchange ideas with the traditional bamboo artisans on the scope and development of bamboo handicraft in Tripura through capacity building for value addition as per the market demand and for sustainable development.

State government launches 'Swachha Meva Jayate' cleanliness campaign
Karnataka government launched ‘Swachha Meva Jayate’ campaign to make every citizen in rural Karnataka take a pledge of cleanliness.
A special pledge to be administered across the state as part of the campaign, ''When every village, every district of Karnataka is clean, practices hygienic toilet habits is free from stagnant water and litter free, Karnataka will win. Swachha Meva Jayate!''
Dr. G. Parameshwara, deputy chief minister of Karnataka, launched the campaign at an event, in the presence of Law and Paliamentary Affairs Minister Krishna Byre Gowda, and other dignitaries.

TRAI suggests Rs 492 crore per Mhz for 5G spectrum
Telecom regulator TRAI recommended pan India base price of Rs 492 crore per megahertz for 5G radiowaves, and lowered the base price of frequencies that remained unsold in the 2016 auctions. The price suggested for 5G spectrum is about a third of the 1800 MHz band in 2012. Known as the 2G spectrum at that time, the government had fixed base price at around Rs 2,800 crore per Mhz on pan-India basis for paired spectrum (equal chunk of frequency for uplink and downlink) in the 1800 Mhz band.
TRAI has recommended that proposed based price of proposed 5G spectrum in 3300-3600 Mhz band “should be equal to 30 per cent of the reserve price of 1800 MHz FDD band” at about Rs 492 crore per Mhz unpaired spectrum on pan India basis.
Telecom operators bidding in the next round of auctions for the spectrum to provide next generation of mobile services will have to shell out a minimum of Rs 9,840 crore on pan-India basis to buy spectrum in 3300-3600 Mhz band as TRAI has suggested that it “should be put to auction in the block size of 20 MHz.

North East Venture Fund for North Eastern region
North Eastern Development Finance Corporation Ltd. (NEDFi) under the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) has set up the North East Venture Fund (NEVF) for North East Region.
The capital commitment to the fund is Rs. 100.00 crore with an initial contribution of Rs. 75.00 crore consisting of Rs.45.00 crore from Ministry of DoNER and Rs. 30.00 crore from NEDFi. The balance fund of Rs. 25.00 crore has been committed by Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) in-principle.
The proposals are considered by the NEVF. For investment decisions, an Independent Investment Committee is formed, comprising of experts from the field of venture capital financing, banking, technocrats and representatives of investors, which regularly monitor the implementation of the projects. The details of the proposals considered and investment commitment received under NEVF are as under.

Lok Sabha passes bill to give constitutional status to National Commission for Backward Classes
The Lok Sabha passed a bill to provide constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes. Superseding the amendments by the Rajya Sabha, the Lok Sabha passed the Constitution (123rd Amendment) Bill 2017 unanimously with over two-third majority. After an almost five-hour debate, in which more than 30 members participated, all 406 present in the house voted in favour of the bill.
The bill provides for the grant of constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) on par with the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes. It states that the President may specify the socially and educationally backward classes in the various states and union territories. He may do this in consultation with the Governor of the concerned state.

August 3

'Shaur nahin' mobile app launched in Shimla, Manali
Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur launched 'horn not ok' awareness campaign and 'shaur nahin' (no noise) mobile application.
As part of the first phase, the campaign has been launched in Shimla and Manali, Thakur informed, adding that blowing horn creates unnecessary noise pollution and is harmful to health.
He urged the drivers' community and police personnel to make this campaign a success.
The mobile application is an initiative of the department of environment science and technology in association with National Informatics Centre, Himachal Pradesh.
This application has settings for two types of users - general public and officers, both of whom would be authenticated with an one-time password (OTP).

Ban on oxytocin likely to be lifted
Gynaecologists and obstetricians across the country can now exhale in relief: the Drug Technical Advisory Board (DTAB) has recommended to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare that the ban on the retail sale of the life-saving drug, oxytocin, may be lifted.
The DTAB recommended that the Health and Family Welfare Ministry’s notification banning retail sale of the drug formulation, oxytocin, may be amended and that its sale and distribution for human use, under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act 1940 and Rules 1945, be continued.
The ban had been imposed citing the serious misuse of oxytocin in the dairy sector.

Yoga classes now a must in all Karnataka colleges, universities
Starting this academic year, it will be mandatory for all colleges and universities across the State to ensure that yoga is taught in their institutions. This will apply to private colleges too.
A committee has been formed to oversee the modalities of implementing the initiative. ''It will examine the frequency and the design of the programme''.
While several principals, students and teachers welcomed the move, college managements that they would find it difficult to rope in trained yoga teachers. ''It has also been made mandatory in schools to teach yoga, and we will find it difficult to rope in qualified yoga practitioners''.

Government withdraws ‘social media hub’ plan after SC’s surveillance state remark
The government’s proposal to monitor online data akin to ‘creating a surveillance state’, the center has withdrawn the proposal for setting up a ‘Social Media Communication Hub’. The apex court had issued a notice to the Centre on a plea by Trinamool Congress (TMC) legislator Mahua Moitra.
Hearing the plea, a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud had observed: ''The government wants to tap citizens’ WhatsApp messages. It will be like creating a surveillance state''. The court had listed the matter for further hearing.
Earlier on June 18, the apex court had refused to accord urgent hearing on the plea seeking to stay a central government move to set up a ‘Social Media Communication Hub’ that would collect and analyse digital and social media content.

August 4

29th GST Council meet sets up committee to look at MSME grievances, nod to run pilot for cashback on digital transactions
To address the issues, challenges and concerns of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME), the apex decision making body of GST Council in its 29th meeting has decided to create a sub-committee headed by MoS Finance Shiv Pratap Shukla to look into various issues and submit a report.
The issues related to law would be taken up by the law committee and issues related to rates would be taken up by the fitment committee. They would deliberate and submit their recommendation to the sub-committee headed by MoS Finance Shiv Pratap Shukla.
The committee will consist of Manish Sisodia, Sushil Modi, Himanta Biswa Sarma, Thomas Isaac and Manpreet Badal. The issues discussed would be taken up in detail and presented before the full GST Council at a later date. However, there is no clarity yet on what issues are likely to be taken up by the sub-committee.

August 5

122 new research projects selected: HRD Minister
Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar announced that the 122 new research projects had been selected, costing Rs 112 crore, under IMPRINT-II to strengthen research in higher education institutions.
Out of 2,145 proposals, 122 best ones were selected for funding under IMPRINT-II, advancing cutting-edge level technology.
Impacting Research, Innovation and Technology (IMPRINT) is a national initiative of the Ministry to address major engineering challenges relevant to the county through inclusive and sustainable translational research.
The new projects selected are: 35 in Information and Communication Technology, 18 in Advanced Materials, 17 in Healthcare Technology, 12 in Energy Security, 11 in Security and Defence, nine in Sustainable Habitat, seven in Water Resource and River Systems, five in Environment and Climate, four each in Manufacturing and Nanotechnology.

President gives assent to bill on fugitive economic offenders
President Ram Nath Kovind has given his assent to a Bill that will deter fugitive economic offenders from evading the legal process in India and fleeing the country.
A fugitive economic offender is any individual against whom warrants for arrest are issued for his involvement in select economic offences, involving an amount of at least Rs 100 crore or more, and has left India so as to avoid criminal prosecution. The Fugitive Economic Offenders’ Act, 2018, has got the nod from the President, according to an official order.
The new legislation will prevent big economic offenders such as Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi, from fleeing the country and evading the law. Both Mallya and Modi, wanted in cases being probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), are out of India.
The Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, 2018 was passed by the Rajya Sabha on July. The Lok Sabha had cleared the measure on July 19. Justifying the financial limit of Rs 100 crore for invoking the provisions of this new law, Finance Minister Piyush Goyal had recently informed in Parliament that it was being done to ''catch the big offenders and not to clog the courts''.

Additional 180-day window for resolution of stressed power firms proposed
Additional 180 days could be provided for resolution of 34 stressed power projects with a view to avoiding potential value erosion of operating plants, according to a government report.
As per the current RBI norms, banks need to restructure stressed assets within 180 days or six months.
If recommendations of the report which was in compliance of the order of Allahabad High Court are accepted, banks would get about a year for restructuring their power sector loans of about Rs 1.74 lakh crore.
The High court in may stayed the February 12 RBI circular on companies other than will ful defaulters and directed the Finance Ministry to hold a meeting all stakeholders n resolutions.

August 6

PHDCCI and CNI signed MoU To Set Up Indo-Nepal Centre
The MoU was signed by Anil Khaitan, President of PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PHDCCI) and Hari Bhakta Sharma, President of Confederation of Nepalese Industries (CNI) in Kathmandu.
The main aim of the MOU is to promote Indian investment in Nepal, work with Indian ventures in Nepal, and resolve problems being faced by them and also to promote industrialization in Nepal, also to provide training to Nepali entrepreneurs.

Rajya Sabha passes bill to grant constitutional status to NCBC
The Rajya Sabha passed a bill to provide constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes, as several members urged the government to make public the findings of the caste census and implement reservation accordingly.
The demand was raised during a debate on the Constitution (123rd Amendment) Bill 2017, passed by the Lok Sabha on August superseding the amendments earlier carried out by the Rajya Sabha.
The Upper House adopted the legislation, along with the amendments made by the Lok Sabha, by 156 votes to nil. Over two-third majority of those present voted in favour of the bill, which is a necessity for amending the Constitution.

Dr. Mahesh Sharma inaugurated the 64th Foundation Day Celebrations of Lalit Kala Akademi in New Delhi
The 64th Foundation Day celebrations of Lalit Kala Akademi or the National Academy of Art were inaugurated by Union Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma.
Establishing an art institution is a big thing but serving art for 64 years consistently with same energy, dedication and enthusiasm is a task bigger than that.
He also released the logo of the 12th Triennale India which is scheduled to be organised by the Akademi in December.

Shri Nitin Gadkari Launches Bidder Information Management System and Bhoomi Rashi - PFMS Linkage Portals
The Minister for Road Transport & Highways, Shipping, Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Shri Nitin Gadkari launched Bidder Information Management System (BIMS) and Bhoomi Rashi and PFMS linkage - two IT initiatives of the Road Transport & Highways Ministry that are aimed at expediting pre construction processes relating to bidding and land acquisition respectively. The Minister also announced institution of Annual Awards for Excellence in National Highways Projects from this year onwards.
BIMS is aimed at streamlining the process of pre-qualification of bidders for EPC Mode of contracts for National Highway works with enhanced transparency and objectivity. The portal will work as a data base of information about bidders, covering basic details, civil works experience, cash accruals and network, annual turnover etc.
Bhoomi Rashi, the portal developed by MoRTH and NIC, comprises the entire revenue data of the country, right down to 6.4 lakh villages. The entire process flow, from submission of draft notification by the State Government to its approval by the. Minister of State for RT&H and publication in e-Gazette, is online.
Integration of Public Financial Management System (PFMS) with Bhoomi Rashi is one of the key functionalities to facilitate payment related to compensation for land acquisition to all the beneficiaries directly through the Bhoomi Rashi system.

Manipur constitutes committees to monitor influx of immigrants
Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh informed that the state government has constituted two separate committees, state and district level, to monitor the entry of "illegal immigrants" in the state, post publication of the final draft of NRC in Assam.
The two committees will initiate steps for checking and verification of the people accordingly.
The draft, which was released on July 30, left out nearly 40 lakh people in Assam, incorporating names of 2.89 crore people out of 3.29 crore applicants. Since then, the Opposition has been at loggerheads with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Centre over the issue.
The NRC draft features the names, addresses, and photographs of all Indian citizens, who have been residing in the northeastern state before March 25, 1971.

Defence Ministry throws 11 challenges at startups
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman unveiled the Defence India Startup Challenge, an initiative to tap startups for finding safe and futuristic Indian solutions to critical needs of the three Armed Forces.
She released a list of 11 technologies that the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force need, to begin with. They included remote air vehicles, laser weapons, secure and safe communication systems and bandwidth, precision targeting systems, sensors, and protected and informed movement of soldiers in battle tanks.

Karnataka state Government launches rural cleanliness campaign 'Swachhameva Jayate'
The state government launched ''Swachhameva Jayate'', a campaign to make people in rural Karnataka take a pledge on cleanliness. Primary and high school students, who attended the event to launch the campaign, took the pledge.
The Department of Rural Development also released the logo of the campaign - a boy and a girl standing in front of the map of Karnataka. ''To take the message far and wide, the government has decided to focus on children as drivers of this message''.

Startup India’s Academia Alliance Programme
To fulfill the Government of India’s mission to promote the spirit of entrepreneurship in the country, Startup India launched the Startup Academia Alliance programme, a unique mentorship opportunity between academic scholars and startups working in similar domains.
The Startup Academia Alliance aims to reduce the gap between scientific research and its industrial applications in order to increase the efficacy of these technologies and to widen their impact. By creating a bridge between academia and industry, the Alliance strives to create lasting connections between the stakeholders of the startup ecosystem and implement the third pillar on which the Startup India Action Plan is based - Industry Academia Partnerships and Incubation.
The first phase of Startup Academia Alliance was kickstarted through partnering with Regional Centre for Biotechnology, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), Council on Energy, Environment and Water, and TERI School of Advanced Studies. Renowned scholars from these institutes, in fields such as renewable energy, biotechnology, healthcare and life sciences were taken on board to provide mentorship and guidance to startups working in relevant arenas.

Govt extends e-visa facility for citizens of 165 nations to promote tourism
Seeking to promote tourism, the government has extended e-visa facility for citizens of 165 countries at 25 airports and five seaports, the Lok Sabha was informed.
Tourism Minister K.J. Alphons also informed that the government has launched the 'Incredible India 2.0' campaign, marking a shift from generic promotions to market-specific promotional plans. A 24X7 toll free multi-lingual tourist helpline has also been put in place as part of the efforts.
To promote tourism in India, events such as 'paryatan parv' (tourism festival), International Buddhist Conclave and International Tourism Mart too have been organised.

August 7

Government sets up GoM headed by Suresh Prabhu to decide on RCEP talks
The Union Government constituted a four-member Group of Ministers (GoM) headed by the Union Minister of Commerce and Industry Suresh Prabhu.
The GoM has been constituted to advise Prime Minister Narendra Modi on whether to continue with or withdraw from the 16-member Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations.
The GoM also includes Finance and Power Minister Piyush Goyal, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Puri.
The first meeting of the GoM will be held on August 10, 2018 and will be attended by the Cabinet Secretary besides secretaries of all other concerned departments. In the run-up to the meeting, Commerce Secretary Anup Wadhawan is separately meeting all the secretaries to brief them on India’s position on the various issues in the RCEP.

Union Government, NABARD and NWDA sign revised MoA for funding of 99 projects under PMKSY
The Union Ministry of Water Resources, the NABARD and the National Water Development Agency (NWDA) signed a revised Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) for funding of central share of 99 prioritised irrigation projects under Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY).
The funding will be done through the Long Term Irrigation Fund (LTIF). The Department of Economic Affairs has modified certain existing means of funding of 99 irrigation projects under the LTIF with reference to source of funds, repayment pattern of loan, and rate of interest on loan, etc.
The revised MoA will enable the Ministry of Water Resources to release Central Assistance to prioritised projects under PMKSY as per the requirements from time to time.

Parliament passes Immovable Property Amendment Bill
Parliament passed a bill to amend the regulations governing the compensation payable for acquisition of immovable property by the Centre for defence and security purposes.
The Requisitioning and Acquisition of Immovable Property (Amendment) Bill, passed by the Rajya Sabha with some minor amendments, was returned to the Lok Sabha, which approved them through a voice vote without debate. The amendments included changing the year of the Bill.
Among other issues, the bill seeks to amend a provision to allow the Centre to re-issue the notice of acquisition to ensure that the property owner gets an opportunity to be heard.

Manohar Parrikar Launches Goa's New App-Based Taxi Service Amid Protests
Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar and Tourism Minister Manohar Ajgaonkar flagged off the Goa Tourism Development Corporation's app-based taxi service in Panaji.
During the launch function, Mr Parrikar informed that the app-based taxi service, called "GoaMiles", would ensure that commuters are not cheated and at the same time would increase the earnings of taxi drivers by "two to three" times.

5. NGT constituted a committee to monitor Ganga rejuvenation project; headed by a former Allahabad High Court judge
The National Green Tribunal constituted a committee, to be headed by a former Allahabad High Court judge, for monitoring the rejuvenation project of Ganga from Haridwar to Unnao in Uttar Pradesh.

Parliament passes Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2018
The Parliament passed the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2018 which ensures stringent punishment for those convicted of raping girls below 12 years of age.
The bill was passed in the Lok Sabha and it was unanimously passed in Rajya Sabha by voice vote.
The Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2018 stipulates a minimum jail term of 20 years which may go up to life in prison or death sentence, for the rape of a girl under 12 years. While perpetrators involved in the gangrape of a girl below 12 years of age will get life imprisonment or death.
After the bill was passed in the Parliament, Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju "Both houses of the Parliament have passed Criminal Law Amendment Bill and now we will ensure that this act takes effect in the manner in which it has been envisaged. There are various other steps taken to ensure speedy trial."

NITI Aayog indentified 117 districts as Aspirational Districts for RUSA Scheme
NITI Aayog has identified 117 districts as ‘Aspirational Districts’. These districts have been selected on the basis of composite index which includes published data of deprivation enumerated under Socio-Economic Caste Census, Health & Nutrition, Education and Basic Infrastructure.During the second phase of the Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA), central assistance is provided for opening of new Model Degree Colleges (MDCs) in 'Aspirational Districts' identified by NITI Aayog and in unserved & underserved districts in North Eastern and Himalayan States.
The Project Approval Board (PAB) of RUSA has approved central support for one MDC each in 70 such districts including 6 in Odisha. An Expert Committee constituted by the University Grants Commission (UGC) had identified 374 Educationally Backward Districts (EBDs) where Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in higher education was less than the national average of 12.4% based on 2001 census data. During the first phase of RUSA, central assistance to States has been provided for creation of one Model Degree College each in 60 EBDs including 8 in Odisha.

President of India inaugurates the Centenary Celebrations of St. Thomas’ College, Thrissur
The President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, inaugurated the centenary celebrations of St. Thomas’ college, at Thrissur in Kerala.
The President informed that the Christian community in Kerala is one of the oldest not only in India but anywhere in the world. Its heritage and history are a matter of immense pride for the entire country – and a symbol of India’s non-negotiable commitment to its diversity and pluralism.
The President informed that the motto of St Thomas’ College – Veritas vos Liberabit or Truth will set you Free – is extremely appropriate. It reminds us that the real value of education lies not in examinations and in degrees – but in how we learn to help fellow human beings and care for those who are less well-off or in need of what we have and can share with them. It is this mission that must continue to guide us as we strive to educate and build our society, and fashion the Kerala and India of our dreams. Educational institutions like St Thomas’ College are critical to that journey.

Three-judge SC Bench to hear Article 35A issue
Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra orally observed that the Supreme Court will consider whether Article 35A, which gives special status to the State and people of Jammu and Kashmir, is violative of the basic structure of the Constitution.
Basic structure is a collective term coined by a 13-judge Bench in the historic Keshavananda Bharati case to include a catena of fundamental rights, including right to equality, non-discrimination, liberty, life and dignity, enshrined and preserved in the Constitution.

Uttarakhand 1st state to give ID cards to Gau Rakshaks
Gau rakshaks are protectors of cows who will now be known as gau sanrakshaks - which means 'guardians of cows'.
The initiative has been taken to distinguish genuine gau rakshaks from ruffians who resort to violence in the name of cow protection.
Genuine gau rakshaks from six of the total 13 districts in Uttarakhand have been identified and will be issued identity cards.

August 8

NITI Aayog, CII join hands for sustainable development
The NITI Aayog and the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) announced a partnership to work towards meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the country.
The Government and Business Partnership Conclave at the national capital, organised by the NITI Aayog, CII and the United Nations, the Minister of State for Power and Renewable Energy, Raj Kumar Singh informed that the "Business and government partnership needs to be harnessed to achieve the greater good''.
The minister announced that three things were key for sustainable development - energy, water and circular economy or a green industry. He further stated that he aimed to make quality power available to each household in the country and that his ministry is committed to bringing down the prices from Rs 8 per unit to around the Rs 3.50 per unit mark.

Commerce & Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu launches Mobile App Niryat Mitra
Union Minister of Commerce & Industry and Aviation Suresh Prabhu launched Niryat Mitra – mobile App in New Delhi. The app developed by the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) is available both on Android and on IOS platforms. It provides wide range of information required to undertake international trade right from the policy provisions for export and import, applicable GST rate, available export incentives, tariff, preferential tariff, market access requirements – SPS and TBT measures.
The most interesting part is that all the information is available at tariff line. The app works internally to map the ITC HS code of other countries with that of India and provides all the required data without the users bothering about the HS code of any country. Presently the app comes with the data of 87 countries.

Swaminathan panel report being implemented for better livelihood of farmers: Agriculture minister
The government is implementing the Swaminathan Commission report for improving living standards of farmers and upliftment of farm sector, announced agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh.
In order to implement policy reforms and new schemes in agriculture, in the past few years, the government has taken several measures and a budgetary provision of `2,11,694 crore has been made.
National Commission on Farmers (NCF) president Swaminathan had advised the then government, in his report in 2006, that proper attention should be given to the welfare of farmers along with agro-based thinking.

Haryana govt launches online portal for disbursal of departmental funds
Haryana Finance Minister Captain Abhimanyu Singh Sindhu launched an online portal for releasing grant-in-aid to government departments.
Abhimanyu launched the portal and then made the first transaction using the electronic system. He released Rs 84.58 crore to the health department under the National Health Mission.
He handed over the receipt of the transaction to Additional Chief Secretary, Health, R.R. Jowel and Mission Director Amneet P. Kumar.
Abhimanyu recalled that Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had earlier praised the Haryana government for its finance management and that the department had begun a fresh chapter.

Uttarakhand Cabinet approves revised policy on adventure sports
The Uttarakhand Cabinet approved a revised policy on adventure sports, imposing a total ban on the use of intoxicants by enthusiasts while rafting, kayaking or canoeing in the state. The revised policy, which also fixes a minimum qualification for raft operators, got the Cabinet’s nod at a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat.
Stricter penal provisions have also been made in the revised policy for violators Taking a serious view of frequent accidents during rafting in the state, the Uttarakhand High Court had put a ban on it at the peak of the season in June this year until a revised policy on adventure sports was not brought into force by the state government.
The high court had attributed the rise in accidents during river rafting primarily due to the absence of proper regulations and underlined the need for a revised policy on adventure sports.

Restricted Area Permit eased for foreigners visiting 29 Andaman Islands
Foreigners no longer need a Restricted Areas Permit to visit 29 inhabited islands in the Andaman and Nicobar chain. The Union Home Ministry decided to lift restrictions as the government intends to boost tourism.
The 11 other uninhabited islands will also be thrown open to foreigners.
The 29 inhabited islands have been excluded from the restricted area permit (RAP) notified under the Foreigners (Restricted Areas) Order, 1963, till December 31, 2022, subject to certain conditions.
However, citizens of Afghanistan, China and Pakistan and foreign nationals having their origin in these countries would continue to require RAP to visit the Union Territory.

August 9

Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana extended beyond 12th 5 year plan
The government approved the continuation of Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) beyond the 12th five year plan period.
The decision taken by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs would help in connecting 38,412 habitations at an estimated cost of Rs 84, 934 crore, according to an official statement.
The target of connecting 1,78,184 eligibile habitations under PMGSY was expected to be completed by March 2019. Almost 95% of these habitations had been sanctioned road connectivity and 91% habitations had been connected.

Shri Dharmendra Pradhan launches the Bid round – II under Discovered Small Field Policy
Bid round –II under Discovered Small Field Policy was launched by Shri Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas & Skill Development and Entrepreneurship. He also released the Model Revenue sharing contract and Notice Inviting Offer for the same. The bids will start next month and close in December 2018. The signing of contracts with the successful bidder for 59 discovered small fields clubbed into 25 contract areas is likely to be done in January next year.
The Systematic reforms have been initiated in the last four years in the Hydrocarbon sector, which have brought about consistency, certainty, and transparency in the policy making. The Government has shown that it is capable of taking strong and clear decisions in the national interest. All these factors have made India a preferred destination for foreign investors. Encouraged with the Success of Bid Round-I.
No previous technical experience required for bidders, easy entry & investor friendly policy
Large field areas on offer in already producing basins
Established Hydrocarbon resource base of over 190 MMT (O+OEG)
Better fiscal system through Revenue Sharing Contracts
Area having oil/ gas discoveries; Potential of upsides in the area; Ready processing facilities nearby; Ready market

TRIFED (M/o Tribal Affairs) and National Medicinal Plant Board (M/o AYUSH) sign MoU to promote Medicinal and Aromatic Plants
Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India Ltd. (TRIFED) under the Ministry of Tribal Affairs & National Medicinal Plants Board (NMPB), Ministry of AYUSH signed an MoU which aims to promote Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (MAPs) forest produce for livelihood development of tribal people by promoting primary level value addition to MAPs produce from forest area at grassroots level.
The activities proposed to be supported by TRIFED under the MoU are as follows:
Establishment of the ‘Van-Dhan Vikas Kendra’ specifically for Medicinal plants & its products, for providing skill upgradation and capacity building including training in primary processing and primary processing facility.
Creation of Van Dhan SHGs clusters under the Van Dhan Vikas Kendra that would undertake primary value addition of the MFPs based on MFPs available in the area and provide facility for MAPs raw material primary processing i.e cleaning, packaging & storage facility etc.
The activities proposed to be supported by NMPB under the MoU are as follows:
To identify potential Medicinal plant species of the tribal areas.
To support training and awareness program on Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) & Good Field Collection Practices (GFCP).
Support skill upgradation and capacity building.
Facilitate and render financial assistance for plantations and nursery development for MAPs through the Van Dhan Vikas Kendra SHGs.

Maharashtra Government announces special assistance of Rs 500 crore for OBC community
The state government of Maharashtra has announced a special assistance worth Rs 500 crore for the Other Backward Classes (OBC) community in the state.
With the move, the state government reaffirmed its commitment to retaining OBC quotas in jobs and rejected reports that Maratha community may be included in the OBC category for reservation purpose.
The main objective behind the special assistance is to help the OBC community develop employment opportunities for the youth.
Besides, the state government plans to assess the extent of representation given to OBCs in jobs and take steps to address the backlog, in a time-bound manner.
The government has also earmarked funds for the construction of hostels for OBC students in 19 districts of the state.

August 10

Parliament passes bill to amend Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code
A bill to amend the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) 2016, allowing home buyers to be treated as financial creditors and seeking to set up a special dispensation for small sector enterprises, was passed by Parliament.
The bill, which was passed in Lok Sabha on July 31, was approved in the Rajya Sabha by voice vote.
The legislation seeks to replace the June 6 ordinance that sought to put these amendments into force to aid quick resolution of several bankrupt firms.
Replying to the debate on the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Second amendment) 2018 in the Upper House, Finance Minister Piyush Goyal informed its objective was to provide resolution to small bankrupt firms and, at the same time, take stringent action against big bankrupt businesses.

Sitharaman, UP CM to launch defence industrial corridor in Aligarh
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath will launch a defence industrial corridor in Aligarh as part of the government's efforts to develop specialised zones dedicated to defence production in the state.
Six nodal points have been identified in state - Agra, Aligarh, Lucknow, Kanpur, Chitrakoot and Jhansi - for the corridor.

Kerala floods: Navy launches 'Operation Madad' to assist state administration
The Southern Naval Command (SNC) launched 'Operation Madad' for assisting the state administration and undertaking disaster relief operations due to the unprecedented flooding experienced in many parts of Kerala, owing to incessant rainfall and release of excess water from Idukki and other dams.
Two teams with Gemini boats commenced rescue operations at Kalpetta, Wayanad and at Panmarum (13 km south of Mananthavady) where they evacuated 55 stranded people. Another team has been air lifted by Seaking Helicopter to Kalpetta with all gears and 2 electric generators following a request by Wayanad district collector.
One 50 men contingent is positioned at Naval Armament Depot (NAD) Aluva fully equipped for any kind of assistance. In addition, the Naval Hospital, INHS Sanjivani is ready for rendering medical assistance as required and all preparations towards setting up community kitchen by naval personnel from INS Venduruthy have been made in case the need arises.

Parliament passes SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill, 2018
The Parliament passed the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill, 2018.
The Bill was introduced in Lok Sabha by the Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment, Thaawar Chand Gehlot on August, 2018.
Provisions of the Bill
The Bill states that the investigating officer will not require the approval of any authority for the arrest of an accused. A preliminary enquiry will not be required for the registration of a First Information Report against a person accused under the Act.
The SC/ST Act 1989 states that persons accused of committing an offence under the Act cannot apply for anticipatory bail. The Bill seeks to clarify that this provision will apply despite any judgements or orders of a court that provide otherwise.

Parijat launches campaign to educate farmers about ill effects of crop residue burning
In a bid to create awareness about the ill effects of crop residue burning and management, Parijat Urja Chakra in collaboration with Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVKs) organized a special campaign at Fatehgarh village of Ambala in Haryana.
The special focus of the campaign was to create awareness among farmers about proper management of crops residue and the ill effects of stubble burning after harvesting.
The burning of agricultural Crop Residue (CRB) has been identified as a major health hazard, in addition to causing exposure to extremely high levels of Particulate Matter concentration to people in the immediate vicinity.
Senior scientist from Krishi Vigyan Kendra Dr. Guruprem sensitized the participants about the importance of straw management and the need of creating awareness among the rural masses. He also explained about the recommended machinery and techniques of straw management.

''PARIVESH'' – an environmental single window hub for Environment, Forest, Wildlife and CRZ clearances launched
The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, launched PARIVESH (Pro-Active and Responsive facilitation by Interactive, Virtuous and Environmental Single-window Hub) on the occasion of World Biofuel Day. PARIVESH is a Single-Window Integrated Environmental Management System, developed in pursuance of the spirit of ‘Digital India’ initiated by the Prime Minister and capturing the essence of Minimum Government and Maximum Governance.
The main highlights of PARIVESH include - single registration and single sign-in for all types of clearances (i.e. Environment, Forest, Wildlife and CRZ), unique-ID for all types of clearances required for a particular project and a single Window interface for the proponent to submit applications for getting all types of clearances (i.e. Environment, Forests, Wildlife and CRZ clearances).
Highlighting that PARIVESH offers a framework to generate economic growth and strengthens Sustainable Development through EGovernance, he also stated that with automatic highlighting of non-compliance by the system, PARIVESH helps in improving the overall performance and efficiency of the whole appraisal process.

NRIs not eligible to file RTI applications: Govt informs Lok Sabha
Non-Resident Indians are not eligible to file Right to Information applications, the Lok Sabha was informed.
In a written response Minister of State for Personnel and Training Jitendra Singh informed only citizens of India have the right to seek information under the provisions of RTI Act, 2005.

IFFCO forays into food processing, forms JV with Spain firm for Rs 325 crore plant
Fertiliser major IFFCO announced joint venture with Spains Congelados De Navarra to set up a food processing plant at Ludhiana in Punjab with an investment of Rs 325 crore.
With this joint venture, co-operative IFFCO will foray into food processing sector.
Congelados De Navarra is a USD 220 million company that has pioneered the individually quick frozen (IQF) technology. It is into processing of vegetables, fruits, herbs and ready-made pre-cooked dishes.

HRD Ministry to spend Rs 418 crore on research with foreign institutes
Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry announced a spending of Rs 418 crore from 2018-20 on collaborative research between Indian and foreign institutes under the 'Scheme for promotion of Academic and Research Collaboration' (SPARC).
The scheme, slated to be launched on October 1, will be coordinated by the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur and will consider only top 500 globally ranked Institutes for collaboration.

'India to triple ethanol production by 2022'
India will triple its ethanol production over the next four years till 2022 and this will save Rs. 12,000 crore in the country’s oil import bill, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced, which is being celebrated as World Biofuels Day.
The Prime Minister also blamed the previous government for not encouraging the production and adoption of ethanol, his government has planned 12 biofuel refineries in the country at an investment of Rs. 10,000 crore. ''The ethanol blending programme was started during the Vajpayee government''.
However, the government’s biofuel policy has come under some criticism, with Kalikesh Singh Deo, Member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas saying the policy itself needs revisiting.

August 11

'Digital North East Vision 2022' released by Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad
Union IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad released the ‘Vision Document’ for a ‘digital North East by 2022’ that aims to enhance peoples’ lives by capacity building of government staff and doubling BPO strength in the region.
Unveiling the plans under the ‘Digital North East: Vision 2022’, Prasad announced that the document emphasises leveraging digital technologies to transform lives of people of the North East and enhance the ease of living.
The number of seats planned for BPOs in the Northeastern states will be doubled to 10,000 from 5,000, while the network of common service centres will be expanded to cover all villages.

Israel opens visa application centre in Kolkata
To encourage more Indian travellers to visit Israel, Embassy of Israel has opened a visa application centre in the city for tourists from West Bengal and the north eastern states.
Additionally, visa applications in jurisdiction under the New Delhi centre are also acceptable at the new Kolkata Centre. The visa application categories include B1 for employment, B2 for business, tourism, meeting or conference and A2 for students.
Among other initiatives, Israel recently announced a reduction in visa fees to Rs 1,100 (from Rs 1700) for Indian citizens.

NGT forms panel for Natural Conservation Zones
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has constituted a committee to ascertain whether sub-regional plans for protection of Natural Conservation Zones (NCZs) are in consonance with the regional plans prepared by the National Capital Planning Board.
A Bench headed by NGT chairperson Adarsh Kumar Goel has directed the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change to be the nodal agency and hold a meeting within 30 days.
The committee will comprise officials from the Environment Ministry, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Central Pollution Control Board, National Remote Sensing Centre, Indian Space Research Organisation and officials from the State governments of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana and Delhi.

'Tatkal sewa' of property registration to start in Punjab
A 'tatkal sewa' for property registration would be started across the state, Punjab Revenue Minister Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria announced.
A sum of Rs 5,000 has been fixed as facilitation charges to seek appointment for 'tatkal' (instant) registration for properties, minister adding that an hour-long slot from 9 am to 10 am has been reserved for availing the service under instant mode.
General public can seek appointment by accessing department's website, adding that the state government has also decided to make this facility available for those people, who are not computer-savvy, at Sewa Kendras soon.

Delhi Police inducts first all-woman SWAT team for anti-terrorist operations
Ahead of the Independence Day, the Delhi Police inducted India’s first all-woman Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team for anti-terrorist operations. After rigorous training of around 15 months from specialists all across India and abroad, 36 women commandos from the northeastern states have been inducted into this squad. While 13 members are from Assam, rest of them hail from Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Manipur.
Delhi Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik, who was behind the idea of the SWAT team, informed that The team is ready to take on hostage crises and terror strikes in urban areas. The members of this all-women SWAT team received better ratings at the Police Training College in Jharoda Kalan than their male counterparts.

Indian railways to stop free travel insurance from September-1
The Indian Railways will not provide free travel insurance to its passengers starting September 1.
A senior Railway Ministry official informed that the Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has decided to stop free travel insurance starting September 1 and "the option of free insurance will be optional".
Travellers while booking tickets through its website or mobile application will have to choose from two options: to opt-in or opt-out of travel insurance.
In a bid to promote the digital transaction, the IRCTC has been giving free travel insurance to passengers since December 2017.
The railways had earlier also waived off ticket booking charge for users who make payments via debit cards.
The insurance provided by the IRCTC had a maximum cover of Rs 10 lakh in case of a person's death during a train journey, Rs 7.5 lakh if a person is disabled due to an accident, Rs 2 lakh if injured and Rs 10,000 for transportation of mortal remains.

Haryana Government to launch Ayushman Bharat scheme on August 15
The state government of Haryana has announced that it will be launching the Ayushman Bharat-Haryana Health Protection Mission on August 15, 2018.
The scheme aims to provide cashless healthcare facilities to beneficiaries at empanelled hospitals. The scheme would be initially implemented on a pilot basis in one government hospital in each of the 22 districts, one ESI hospital and one medical college.
The decision was taken during a meeting held under the chairmanship of the state’s Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar in Chandigarh.
Under the scheme, families identified by the Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC) would be provided with coverage of Rs 5 lakh.
Every family figuring in the defined SECC 2011 database would be entitled to claim benefits under the scheme.

Lok sabha passes arbitration and conciliation amendment bill 2018
Lok Sabha passed a Bill that will help India become a hub for domestic and global arbitration for settling commercial disputes. It was passed through a voice vote.
No one moved any amendment as the two members - Shashi Tharoor of Congress and N.K. Premachandran of RSP, who had given notices on this count - were not present.
Responding to the debate on the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Bill 2018, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad announced that the new legislation provided for time-bound settlement of disputes as well as accountability of the arbitrator.

5-member panel to look into menace of dogs, monkeys
To tackle the growing menace of stray dogs and monkeys in the state, the Delhi Assembly constituted a five-member committee for the same.
The committee, which has been given the responsibility to come up with the solution to tackle the issue, will be headed by Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) Somnath Bharti and will also comprise of AAP MLA Saurabh Bharadwaj, AAP MLA Alka Lamba, AAP MLA Rajesh Rishi and Bharatiya Janata Party (MLA) MLA OP Sharma.
The decision comes after a number of MLAs raised the issue of growing numbers of stray dogs and monkeys in the streets.

Pratibandhit Sahitya Mein Swatantrata Sangram inaugurated by Dr. Mahesh Sharma in New Delh
The Minister of State for Culture (Independent Charge) and Minister of State for Environment Forest and Climate Change, Dr. Mahesh Sharma inaugurated an exhibition entitled ‘Prathibandhit Sahitya mein Swatantrata Sangram’ (Freedom Movement through Proscribed Literature) in the premises of National Archives of India, in New Delhi.
The Exhibition is based on the unique collection of proscribed literature in its possession. This exhibition of proscribed literature is from vast collection of poetry and prose that portrays the nationalistic fervour prevalent in the days of freedom struggle. These were written in almost all the Indian languages such as Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Marathi, Oriya, Punjabi, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu Urdu, Assamese etc. which included speeches, articles, essays etc. and published in different parts of the country. There are about 55 such proscribed literatures displayed in the Exhibition.
Each and every thought of the poetry conveyed the spirit of nationalism that inspired the people of this country, determined to attain freedom from the clutches of the British. The publication and circulation of these literature among the masses was banned by the colonial government judging them ‘dangerous’ to the ‘security’ of the country. This literature is now a part of our national heritage.

Haryana CM Khattar to inaugurate Hisar Airport on Independence Day
The Hisar Airport is all set to become the first licensed airport in Haryana once it is inaugurated on August 15 by Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar.
Officers carried out inspection of the ongoing construction works and completed works in the airport. Regarding preparations before the inauguration, the Civil Aviation Advisor Ashok Sangwan and Hisar Deputy Commissioner Ashok Kumar Meena held a meeting with the officers at the airport office and discussed about the status of electricity, water, communication services, fire fighting, police post and other facilities at the airport and fixed deadlines related to it for the officials.
Preparations for the inauguration of the first licensed airport of the state are in full swing. A team of Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) would visit the airport on August 10 and conduct an inspection for two days.

August 12

Death penalty for raping children: Criminal Law (Amendment) Act receives presidential assent
President Ram Nath Kovind has given assent to the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2018, that provides for stringent punishment, including death penalty for those convicted of raping girls below the age of 12 years.
The amendment replaces the criminal law amendment ordinance promulgated on April after the rape and murder of a minor girl in Kathua and another woman in Unnao.
The Act will further amend the Indian Penal Code, Indian Evidence Act, 1872, the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.

Centre approves proposal for setting up water aerodromes for improved air connectivity
The Civil Aviation Ministry has approved a proposal for setting up of water aerodromes in the country, with Chilika Lake in Odisha, Sardar Sarovar Dam and Sabarmati River Front in Gujarat being identified in the first phase for development of such facilities.
The proposal was cleared by Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) issued regulations in June this year, prescribing procedures and requirement for licencing of water aerodromes.
Since there is no historical data on the market and demand from any airlines, the project will be done as a pilot project. The development would pave the way for operation of amphibious planes (both in land and water) to enhance air connectivity.
Under the proposal, water aerodrome would be set up near locations of tourist and religious importance.
According to the DGCA, an entity seeking to set up a water aerodrome has to take approvals from various authorities, including the ministries of defence, home, environment and forests, and shipping.

India hands over first lot of houses in Sri Lanka’s tea plantation areas
India handed over the first lot of houses built for Indian-origin people in Sri Lanka’s tea plantation areas.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi joined a special ceremony through video conference at Dunsinane Estate, Nuwara Eliya to hand over the houses built under the Indian Housing Project in Plantation Areas.
It is the largest Indian assistance project in any country with a grant of over $350 million.
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe thanked his Indian counterpart for the assistance.

FSSAI unveils initiative to collect, convert used cooking oil into biofuel
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) launched RUCO (Repurpose Used Cooking Oil), an initiative that will enable collection and conversion of used cooking oil to bio-diesel. The initiative has been launched nearly a month after the food safety regulator notified standards for used cooking oil.
FSSAI may also look at introducing regulations to ensure that companies that use large quantities of cooking oil hand it over to registered collecting agencies to convert it into biofuel.
Under this initiative, 64 companies at 101 locations have been identified to enable collection of used cooking oil. For instance: McDonald’s has already started converting used cooking oil to biodiesel from 100 outlets in Mumbai and Pune.

August 13

Chhattisgarh first state to provide Right to Skills' Development to youth'
Chhattisgarh is the first state in the country to provide Right to Skills' Development to the youth. Around 2.7 lakh youth has already been employed in several fields. Trained individuals have also been working in cities like Bengaluru and Chennai.
The Chief Minister's comments came after he along with Union Minister of State for Skill Development Anant Kumar Hegde flagged off fifteen Skill Chariots to launch the government's project of 'Skills on Wheels' in the state.
The chariots, which aimed at creating awareness regarding the project, will tour 13 districts in the first phase (August 17 to 31) and the rest 14 in the second phase (September 2 to 17).

Rs 66,000 crore fund released by Centre to increase India’s green cover
The Union Government has unlocked green funds worth over Rs 66,000 crore to increase the country’s forest cover.
The fund is an accumulated amount of money, which user agencies have been depositing as compensation for diverting forest land for non-forest purposes, including industries and infrastructure, since the past 10 years.
The government has finally notified the rules for utilisation of the money by states and Union Territories and for setting up of authorities to monitor its use for afforestation and conservation.
The rules were framed two years after a law to this effect was enacted. However, they were notified on August 10, 2018.
The rules specify that 80 per cent of the green fund will be utilised by the states for green activities listed under 13 permissible activities.
The activities include plantation, assisted natural regeneration of forests, forest fire prevention, pest and disease control in forest, soil and moisture conservation works and improvement of wildlife habitat among others.

7 member group headed by IRDAI CGM constituted by IRDA to analyze and amend norms for insurance surveyors
Insurance regulator IRDA constituted a working group to update the norms for insurance surveyors.
The 7-member working group has been formed to address areas pertaining to licensing, renewal and IIISLA Membership in the context of the existing regulatory framework for Surveyors and Loss Assessors.
These issues were raised at a seminar organised by Insurance Regulatory Authority of India.
The working group has been constituted to revisit "the existing IRDAI (Insurance Surveyors and Loss Assessors) Regulations for improvement or amendment in order to ensure alignment and clarity of the regulatory framework in relevance with the dynamics of the profession of Surveying and Loss Assessment vis--vis the Indian insurance sector.
The group will be headed by Yegna Priya Bharat, Chief General Manager (Nonlife), Irda.
It has been asked to make holistic analysis of the existing regulatory framework in view of the requirements of the industry.

Shri Rajnath Singh inaugurates NDMC Smart City projects
The Union Home Minister Shri Rajnath Singh rollout of the Smart City projects will help New Delhi emerge as a world class city. Inaugurating a slew of Smart City projects undertaken by the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC), Shri Rajnath Singh informed the NDMC has set an example before other aspiring Smart Cities in the country to follow.
The various projects inaugurated by Shri Rajnath Singh include Smart Poles, Solar Tree, Ideation Centre, 50 LED interactive screens, Ambedkar Vatika and two hi-tech nurseries, four mechanical road sweepers, two litter picking machines and ten auto tippers. He also launched MTNL’s hi-speed Broadband on Optical Fiber & Hi-Speed Wi-Fi in Connaught Place.

First project under the Swadesh Darshan Scheme the ‘North East Circuit: Imphal & Khongjom’ in Manipur will be inaugurated
Dr. Najma A. Heptulla, Hon’ble Governor of Manipur will be inaugurating the project “Development of North East Circuit: Imphal & Khongjom” implemented under the Swadesh Darshan Scheme of Ministry of Tourism, The above project is the first project under the Swadesh Darshan Scheme being inaugurated in the country.
Swadesh Darshan scheme is one of the flagship scheme of Ministry of tourism for development of thematic circuits in the country in a planned and prioritised manner. The scheme was launched in 2014 -15 and as on date the Ministry has sanctioned 70 projects for Rs.5708.88 Crore to 29 States and UTs under the Scheme. 30 projects / major components of these projects are expected to be completed this year.
The project under inauguration was sanctioned by the Ministry of Tourism in September 2015 for Rs.72.30 Crores. The project covers two sites - Kangla Fort and Khongjom.
'Swadesh Darshan' (tour of country) is a flagship scheme of the Ministry of Tourism for the development of thematic circuits in the country in a planned and prioritised manner.
The scheme was launched in 2014-15 and the ministry has so far sanctioned 70 projects at a cost of Rs 5,708.88 crore

August 14

Ministry of AYUSH introduced new Central Sector scheme for promoting Pharmacovigilance of AYUSH Drugs
Ministry of AYUSH has introduced new Central Sector scheme for promoting pharmacovigilance of Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and Homoeopathy (ASU&H) Drugs. Prime objective of the scheme is to develop the culture of documenting adverse effects and undertake safety monitoring of Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and Homoeopathy drugs and surveillance of misleading advertisements appearing in the print and electronic media.
The scheme intends to facilitate the establishment of three-tier network of National Pharmacovigilance Centre (NPvCC), Intermediary Pharmacovigilance Centres (IPvCCs) and Peripheral Pharmacovigilance Centres (PPvCC).
All India Institute of Ayurveda, New Delhi, an autonomous body under the Ministry of AYUSH, has been designated as National Pharmacovigilance Centre for coordinating various activities of the initiative. In the initial phase of implementation, five (05) National Institutes of AYUSH are designated as the Intermediary Pharmacovigilance Centres and forty two (42) institutions of AYUSH having clinical facilities as Peripheral Pharmacovigilance Centres to take up the work of reporting, documentation, analysis, causality assessment of the adverse reactions and events associated with the consumption of Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy drugs.
The quality issues and safety concerns of Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and Homoeopathy Drugs have been raised from various sources. Ministry of AYUSH felt it necessary in the interest of Public Health to oversee the impact of ASU&H Drugs consumed by the people from the perspective of their safety profile.

West Bengal CM Mamata Benerjee lifts income ceiling for Kanyashree scheme
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced that there would not be any ceiling for a family's annual earnings to be a beneficiary under the UN award winning Kanyashree scheme.
She also announced that the state government would be coming up with a "Kanyashree University" for girls soon.
Kanyashree is a conditional cash transfer scheme aiming at improving the status and well being of the girl child by incentivising schooling of teenage girls and delaying their marriages until the age of 18. It received the United Nations Public Service Award last year.
Currently, girls who belong to families with annual family income not more than Rs 1.20 lakh is entitled to get the benefits.

Karnataka government to launch green Mysore drive on 15th August
The Forest Department will launch a Green Mysuru drive on August 15 as part of Hasiru Karnataka programme to increase the tree cover of the city and the district.
The drive entails planting saplings in vacant spaces of government offices and schools, available space on the roadside, embankment abutting farm land and agricultural fields, courtyards etc.
In Mysuru city, 43,000 saplings have already been planted in residential areas adjoining the Outer Ring Road such as Lalitadrinagar and Ramakrishna Nagar while 72,000 saplings of 50 different species have been planted in the Mysuru territorial division.

Union Minister Nitin Gadkari launches road safety awareness video
Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari launched road safety awareness video with Brand ambassador of road safety campaign actor Akshay Kumar in New Delhi.
Mr Gadkari informed that the priority of the Government is to reduce road accidents. The number of people killed in road accidents is much more than the total lives lost in wars.
Road safety has to be a people's movement Home Ministry to consider the good Samaritans in road accidents also for getting National Bravery Awards.
Mr Gadkari expressed confidence that through the special videos the awareness about road safety will increase.

Prasar Bharati tied up with Google & YouTube to telecast Independence Day programme live online
Prasar Bharati has tied up with Google and YouTube to telecast the Independence Day programme live online. Prasar Bharati CEO Shashi Shekhar Vempati informed media that the tie-up has been done as part of efforts to increase digital presence.
Mr. Vempati informed the live stream window will be seen on the homepage of Google itself so that people do not have to look for a separate link to go to the Youtube channel.
He further stated that the stream will make Prime Minister’s speech available to a large audience across the world. He informed that once the Prime Minister’s speech ends at Red Fort, AIR will transmit translation of Prime Minister’s speech in regional languages.
This year, Doordarshan anchors will introduce the programme from Red Fort instead of the studios. Doordarshan will also translate the Prime Minister’s speech in over 20 languages.
The Independence Day coverage will open with a song composed by Shankar Mahadevan.

August 15

CJI Deepak Mishra has launched mobile apps for e-filing of cases
Chief Justice Dipak Misra inaugurated the apps along with Union Law and Justice Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who also holds the portfolio for Information Technology, and Justices Madan B. Lokur and A.M. Khanwilkar
In a ''giant leap'' towards a litigant-friendly court system, Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra heralded the launch of a host of smartphone apps to help litigants, including convicts, from all parts of the country file cases and even make e-payments to courts.
In a function organised at the Supreme Court Judges’ Lounge inside the apex court building, Chief Justice Misra inaugurated the apps along with Union Law and Justice Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who also holds the portfolio for Information Technology, and Justices Madan B. Lokur and A.M. Khanwilkar, both of whom led the efforts of the apex court’s e-committee. The function was attended by all the Supreme Court judges.

August 16

Odisha CM launches health scheme for 70 lakh families
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik launched Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana, a health for all scheme, on the occasion of the 72nd Independence Day. The scheme provides health assurance coverage to 70 lakh families, covering more than 70% of the State’s population.
Later, Mr. Patnaik went to the Capital Hospital where he inaugurated the BSKY Help Desk, released its logo and distributed the BSKY cards to the beneficiaries.
It may be recalled that the Odisha government had rejected the National Health Protection Scheme as it covered much lesser number of people in Odisha by adopting the 2011 census. The State government went ahead with its own scheme with a coverage of up to ₹5 lakh per year per family. The amount is Rs. 7 lakh per family with women members.
In his address, Mr. Patnaik informed the BSKY will be implemented with the money of the people of the State for “Healthy Odisha, Happy Odisha" regardless of the cooperation or non-cooperation of anyone.

Ministry of Railways launches “Digital Screens” to spread awareness about Indian Railways Heritage
In the wake of Hon’ble Prime Minister’s vision for creating digital museums at stations using QR code, Ministry of Railway has made “digital screens” operational at 22 stations on this Independence Day as an innovative low cost solution to spread awareness among public about the opulent heritage of Indian Railways.
Being initiated on a pilot basis, the project aims at showcasing the legacy of Indian Railways through one to two minute-long movie clips on digital LED screens at the entrance gate of railway stations and also at different comfort areas. The short films will showcase heritage buildings, locomotives and much more to make people aware of the rich heritage of Indian Railways. For now, the digital screens have been set up at New Delhi, Hazrat Nizamuddin, Howrah, Sealdah, Jaipur, Agra Cantonment, Coimbatore, Lucknow, Varanasi and other railway stations.
In addition, QR code based posters on Railway Heritage are also being displayed at these stations. Passenger can scan the QR code on their mobile to view a streaming video on their mobile on various facades of Railway heritage.
Barring New Delhi and Howrah, where dedicated heritage video walls are being installed, Railways have spent no extra money and have used the existing infrastructure such as the LED screens, back end systems etc. for launching this unique initiative.

Madhya Pradesh Launches "Dial 100" Police App For Emergency Situations
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan launched Dial 100 Mobile app, which will help the needy at the time of emergency.
Mr Chouhan explained that as soon as police receive the call through Dial 100 application, the Madhya Pradesh Police will reach the location as soon as possible.
In the launch event of the application, Mr Chouhan announced that the "Technology like CCTV cameras turned to be useful for police to arrest the accused in any case.

Creamy layer cannot apply to SCs/ STs
Supreme Court announced that the ''creamy layer'' concept cannot be applied to the Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe communities, who have suffered for centuries.
Arguing before a five-judge Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, Attorney-General K.K. Venugopal argued that SCs/STs are a ''homogenous group and any action to regroup them based on economic or social advancement would not be appropriate''.
Mr. Venugopal informed rigorous modalities were prescribed for inclusion of communities in the list of SCs/STs. “For inclusion of communities in the list of the SCs, one of the important determinants is the traditional practice of untouchability,” Mr. Venugopal submitted.
The government wants a larger Bench of the Supreme Court to set aside its 2006 judgment in the Nagaraj case.

Ayushman Bharat scheme launch on September 25
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday announced from the ramparts of the Red Fort that the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Abhiyan, known also as Ayushman Bharat scheme so far, will be launched across the country from September 25, on the birth anniversary of the RSS ideologue Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya.
The biggest health financing scheme in the world with an insurance cover of Rs 5 lakh, which will cover 10 crore poor families or almost 50 crore persons, comes with a clear political pitch ahead of the 2019 general elections and especially with its launch date coinciding with Upadhyaya’s birth anniversary.
The PM also announced that while the scheme will initially cover 10 crore poor families initially as per the socio-economic census of 2011, it will “in the coming days also benefit the lower middle-class, middle-class and upper-middle class” by way of jobs in the medical sector as new hospitals will open in Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities.

Campaign launched to create awareness among children to identify sexual abuse
Amnesty International India launched a new campaign aimed at creating awareness among children to help them understand and identify sexual abuse.
The campaign 'Our Safety, Our Rights' seeks to empower children to speak up and report sexual abuse without fear.
Amnesty International India will manage the campaign in collaboration with Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti, People's Action for Rural Awakening (PARA) and Institute of Social Education.
It will engage with children in 400 schools, across four Indian states and through this campaign, an estimated 50,000 students, parents, teachers and other key stakeholders will be sensitized on the issue of child sexual abuse.

August 17

Four new taluks created in southern districts
Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami inaugurated four new taluks in southern districts through video-conferencing from Chennai.
The newly created Kallikudi taluk will be the 11th taluk in Madurai district. Kallikudi taluk, which will have an area of 256.7 square kilometres, comprises three firkas and 47 revenue villages.
As per the projections based on 2011 Census, the taluk will have a population of approximately 86,500 people.
The new taluk office would temporarily function at Kallikudi Panchayat Union Common Service Centre building until it got a new building.
Collector K. Veera Raghava Rao and senior officials were present at the taluk office during the inauguration.

NGT asked UP government to pay the price for contaminating the underground water
In Uttar Pradesh, the survey reports indicated that the groundwater is highly contaminated. It has been alleged that consumption of polluted water from rivers Kalinadi, Krishna and Hindon has developed several diseases including liver damage, cancer and kidney failure to the residents.
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) announced that the State government and the polluting industries should bear the cost to treat the people who have been affected because of the contamination. NGT also suggested that the State government and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) formulate appropriate schemes. the State may consider giving employment to a dependent of the affected victims.

India bans petroleum coke import for use as fuel
India banned the import of petcoke for use as fuel, but shipments for use as feedstock in some industries was allowed.
Usage of petcoke, a dirtier alternative to coal, in the energy-hungry country has come under scrutiny due to rising pollution levels in major cities.
As the world's largest consumer of petcoke, India imports over half its annual petcoke consumption of about 27 million tonnes, mainly from the United States. Local producers include Indian Oil Corp, Reliance Industries and Bharat Petroleum Corp.
India is the world's biggest consumer of petroleum coke, which is a dark solid carbon material that emits 11 percent more greenhouse gases than coal, according to the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy.

FSSAI sets up panel to review red-labelling draft amid stakeholder concern
The government has put on hold the draft that proposes red-labelling of packaged food products containing high levels of fat, sugar and salt.
In April, food safety regulator FSSAI had come out with the draft of Food Safety and Standards (Labelling and Display) Regulations 2018 that proposed mandatory red-label marking on such packaged food products.
The expert panel will be headed by B Sesikeran, former director of National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) as also the current director Hemalatha, besides doctor Nikhil Tandon.

Central government constituted a Panel headed by CWC chairman to coordinate the discharge of floodwaters from Kerala-TN inter-State projects
On the event of heavy rainfall and flood in Kerala, the Central government has constituted a coordination committee to work on the discharge of floodwaters between Kerala-Tamilnadu.
The committee is headed by the Central Water Commission Chairman Narendra Kumar to coordinate the discharge of floodwaters from inter-State projects involving Kerala and Tamil Nadu,
The inter-state projects would include Mullaperiyar and Aliyar.
The Chairman of the CWC will monitor the situation at Mullaperiyar dam in view of rising water level and continued heavy inflow.
As the water level Mullaperiyar has crossed 142 ft the Supreme Court has approved the application seeking Central governments intervention in the matter.

August 18

UIDAI Aadhaar Card Face Recognition feature goes live from September 15
The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), the Aadhaar-issuing body, has made it mandatory for telecom services to authenticate a tenth of their customers using face recognition. This will be implemented for telecom services from September 15.
The first circular around the implementation of facial authentication was issued in January 2018 and the option was supposed to roll out from July 1. But the date was later pushed back to August 1. It will now appear as an option from September 15, but only for telecom service providers for now.
According to UIDAI’s latest circular, the phase rollout is because not all Aadhaar Authentication User Agencies (AUAs) are ready in terms of devices for Face Recognition.

PM announces Rs. 500 crore interim relief for Kerala
Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced an interim relief of Rs. 500 crore against a demand of Rs. 2,000 crore made by the State government.
This is apart from the Central assistance of Rs. 100 crore announced earlier.
Complimenting the State authorities for their efforts in the adverse situation, Mr. Modi also announced an ex-gratia of Rs. 2 lakh per person to the next of kin of the deceased and Rs. 50,000 to those seriously injured from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF).

August 19

PFRDA set up panel for advice on cyber safety to protect subscribers
Pension Fund and Regulatory Development Authority (PFRDA) has set up a standing committee to suggest steps to deal with cybersecurity challenges to protect the interest of subscribers.
As a regulator of the pension sector and to safeguard the interest of pension subscribers, it is essential to keep an eye on the technological changes and cybersecurity challenges,” the regulator while announcing its decision to set up the panel. The committee on ‘Information Systems and Technology and Cyber Security’ will suggest steps to align PFRDA’s technology with best industry practices.

CII sets up task force for Kerala flood relief work
Industry chamber CII set up a task force chaired by its former President Kris Gopalakrishnan is working on comprehensive relief for flood-affected in Kerala in coordination with the state and district administrations.
Heavy rains continue to devastate the southern state where the death toll has reached nearly 370 since May 29 when the monsoons began.

Punjab uses mobile app to distribute 13 lakh saplings
Punjab, the first state in India to launch a mobile app 'i-Hariyali' to supply free saplings, has provided 13 lakh saplings to people through this endeavour so far.
About 325,000 online orders were received through the app, with more than three lakh people downloading it on their smartphones.
A total of 32 lakh saplings were supplied under the 'Ghar-Ghar Hariyali' campaign as well as through the app.
Dharmsot urged the people to take up plantation and distribution of saplings on important occasions like birthdays.
According to the Forest Survey of India-2017, 35,853 acres of more land has been brought under green cover in Punjab.

Government constitutes Bhaskar Ramamurthy Committee for JEE (Advanced) reforms
Union Minister of Human Resource Development (HRD) has proposed to set up five member committee to suggest charges to JEE (advanced) in the wake of an inadequate number of candidates qualifying entrance test this year. The committee will be headed by IIT-Madras director Bhaskar Ramamurthy.
The mandate of Committee is to develop robust and scientifically entrance exam system to test potential of candidates as well as to reduce their dependence on coaching institutes.
The first merit list for JEE (Advanced) 2018 had only 18,138 candidates, which was only 1.6 times total sanctioned seats. It was smallest pool of qualified candidates since 2012. It was also very less than mandated required of twice number of seats on offer.

August 20

New Specific Health Warning on Tobacco Products Packs
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India has notified new sets of specified health warnings for all tobacco product packs by making an amendment in the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labeling) Rules, 2008vide GSR 331(E) dated 3rd April 2018 “Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labeling) Second Amendment Rules, 2018”. The amended Rules will be applicable w.e.f. 1st September 2018.
The new set of specified health warnings shall be-
Image-1, which shall be valid for a period of twelve months following its commencement from 1st September, 2018.
Image-2,which shall come into effect following the end of twelve months from the date of commencement of specified health warning of Image-1.

Centre says Kerala floods ‘calamity of severe nature’
The Centre has informed that the Kerala floods were a “calamity of severe nature for all practical purposes”, keeping in view the intensity and magnitude of the floods and landslides.
Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju announced that the Kerala floods were being treated as natural calamity of severe nature but there was nothing to declare it as one.
When the situation becomes unprecedented and extremely difficult to handle in a normal rescue and relief operation we treat it that way [as natural calamity of severe nature]. And in Kerala have already treated it as one.
Meanwhile, the National Crisis Management Committee met for the fifth time to review the rescue and relief operations in the flood-affected areas in Kerala.

Japanese Defence Minister arrives in India.
Japanese Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera arrived two-day visit with an aim to further strengthen military cooperation between the two countries, particularly in the maritime sphere in the wake of China's growing influence in the Indian Ocean.
He will hold talks with Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman covering a range of bilateral and regional issues of mutual interests.
Sitharaman and her Japanese counterpart are also likely to exchange views on India's long-pending proposal to procure the US-2 ShinMaywa amphibious aircraft from Japan for its Navy.

India needs to improve its wage policies for inclusive growth: ILO
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) that India needs to improve its wage policies to promote "inclusive growth" even as low pay, gender wage gap and informality remain pervasive.
According to the report, about 33 per cent i.e. 62 million workers were paid less than the indicative national minimum wage, and the rate of low pay was higher among women.
Daily wages increased rapidly for casual workers, workers from rural areas, unorganised sector and female workers. Nonetheless, low pay remains pervasive and wage inequality is still very high citing the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) estimates which indicate the real daily wage doubled between 1993-94 and 2011-12.
As per the Employment and Unemployment Survey (EUS) of National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), in 2011-12, the average wage in India is about Rs 247 per day and the average wage of casual workers was estimated at Rs 143 per day.

August 21

Punjab Cabinet okays amendments to CrPc & IPC to make sacrilege punishable with life imprisonment
The Punjab Cabinet approved amendments to the Indian Penal Code (IPC) as well as the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) to make sacrilege of religious texts punishable with life imprisonment.
The government has taken a major step towards curbing such incidents and maintaining communal harmony in the state.
The decision was taken at a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.
The Cabinet has approved insertion of section 295AA to the Indian Penal Code (IPC) to provide that - whoever causes injury, damage or sacrilege to Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Srimad Bhagwad Geeta, Holy Quran and Holy Bible with the intention to hurt the religious feelings of the people, shall be punished with imprisonment for life.

5 northern states and 2 UTs to set up centralised secretariat at Panchkula to tackle drug menace
Five Northern states Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Punjabi, Rajasthan, Uttarakhanda and Union Territories of and Delhi and Chandigarh have decided to set up centralized secretariat at Panchkula (Haryana) to tackle the drug menace.
It was decided at in interstate regional conference of chief ministers organized in Chandigarh by Haryana government on issue of “Drug menace, Challenges and strategies”.
It decided to set centralized secretariat at panchkula which will host nodal officers from each of these northern states and UTs. These officers will be deputed for sharing intelligence and information. It aim to have mechanism for quick and proactive information exchange on drug trends cases registered and persons named wanted or arrested.

With Rs 700 crore, UAE tops list of nations offering aid to rain-battered Kerala; Qatar gives Rs 35 crore, Maldives Rs 34 lakh
As Kerala battles the worst natural calamity in a century, state and non-state players from across the globe have come forward to help the flood-ravaged state. the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has extended $100 million (roughly Rs 700 crore) as financial assistance to rebuild the southern Indian state amid a host of other nations. According to the data available so far, UAE, which is home to 2.6 million Indians who constitue 30 percent of its population, tops the list of countries that have offered aids to India to help with rescue and relief operations in the state.

Supreme Court scraps NOTA option for Rajya Sabha polls
The Supreme Court scrapped the use of ‘None Of The Above’ (NOTA) option in the coming Rajya Sabha elections.
A Bench, led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra held that the NOTA option is meant only for universal adult suffrage and direct elections and not polls held by the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote as done in the Rajya Sabha.
The Bench had reserved for judgment on a petition filed in 2017 by Gujarat Congress leader Shailesh Manubhai Parmar to do away with the ‘NOTA’ option in Rajya Sabha elections. The petition was filed in connection with the Rajya Sabha election in which Congress leader Ahmed Patel was contesting.

Home Minister assigned NCRB to curb “sexual violence” videos involving women and children
A high-level meeting was convened to discuss recommendations on ways to curb “sexual violence” videos involving women and children.
It was decided in the meeting that the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) would be the designated nodal agency for monitoring the complaints received on a government portal that records child pornography and sexual violence videos.
The NCRB would coordinate with service providers such as Facebook, YouTube and WhatsApp and ask them to block malicious videos and contents.

Cyclone Warning Centre to be set up in Thiruvananthapuram within a month
With several incidents of tropical cyclones and severe weather events striking over Kerala and Karnataka coasts in the recent times, the Union Ministry of Earth Sciences is proposing to set up a Cyclone Warning Centre in Thiruvananthapuram. The Ministry is planning to set up the Centre in another one month. At present, IMD has cyclone warning centres only at Chennai, Vishakhapatnam, Bhubaneswar, Kolkata, Ahmedabad and Mumbai.
The Centre will cater to the needs of Kerala and Karnataka states and will be equipped with all state of the art infrastructure including forecasting tools to issue weather warnings and coastal bulletins (for fishermen,etc.).It will further strengthen the present forecasting activity in India Meteorological Department’s existing office in Kerala.
The Ministry is also planning to set up another C-Band Doppler Weather Radar at Mangalore by end of 2019, which will cover the northern parts of Kerala. At present, there are two Doppler Weather Radars in the state, at Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram. With these 3 radars, the entire state will be covered for monitoring of rainfall and severe weather events, and adequately warn the people well in advance. IMD has developed many new models and tools right from nowcasts (2-3 hours) to extended range forecasts (15-20 days’ lead time).
The Department is also planning to organize an awareness and training workshop for the state disaster management authorities of all states and other stakeholders by next month, to brief and train them on the new tools and how to make use of them for effective decision making.

UP government to name Bundelkhand Expressway as Atal path
As a mark of respect to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajyapee, the Uttar Pradesh government has decided to name the upcoming Bundelkhand Expressway as 'Atal Path'.
The government, which had announced a number of schemes as a tribute to the former prime minister, will soon issue a notification to rename Bundelkhand Expressway after Vajpayee.
The upcoming Bundelkhand Expressway is proposed to be a 289-km, four-lane, access-controlled highway.
It will start from Jhansi and passing through the backward districts of Chitrakoot, Banda, Hamirpur, Auraiya and Jalaun, will reach Etawah and join Agra-Lucknow expressway.

August 22

Govt unveils draft scheme for extending affordable air travel programme UDAN to international circuits.
Centre has unveiled a draft scheme for extending affordable air travel programme UDAN to international circuits, with state governments identifying the routes for operation.
The draft International Air Connectivity (IAC) scheme envisages to increase international ticketing to 20 crore by 2027.
The draft scheme stated that it is to be made operational only for states, which demonstrate commitment to implement and provide the requisite support for promoting operations under the scheme.
State governments will identify the routes to be connected, and airline operators will assess demand on the identified routes and submit proposals for providing connectivity.
Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik (UDAN) scheme was launched in 2016 to make air travel affordable for people through subsidised ticket rates and to provide air connectivity to smaller towns.

Punjab Cabinet approves formation of State Higher Education council.
The Punjab Cabinet approved the formation of the state higher education council, aimed at ensuring quality education. A bill in this regard will be brought in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha.
The move is aimed at ensuring planned and coordinated development of higher education in the state. The council to be headed by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh will have the higher education minister as its vice-chairman and administrative secretary, higher education as member secretary.
It was primarily aimed at ensuring quality higher education in Punjab's institutions by facilitating optimum sharing of resources between universities and colleges, especially for research purposes, academic and governance reforms, besides monitoring and evaluation of higher education institutions.

UIDAI Asks Enrolment Agencies In Kerala To Provide Free E-Aadhaar Printouts
The UIDAI has directed the Aadhaar enrolment agencies in Kerala, including banks and post offices, to facilitate retrieval of the 12-digit number and provide free printouts to Aadhaar-holders who have lost their document in the flood-hit state.
The e-Aadhaar printouts can be taken by people from the enrolment centres by giving their name and biometric authentication.
The instructions are being issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) in this regard to the enrolment centres in the state. Enrolment agencies can also help in the retrieval of Aadhaar numbers by visiting the relief camps.
Similar instructions are also being issued for the flood-affected districts of South Karnataka.
Those who have misplaced their Aadhaar document or card in the flood-hit state can avail the special search facility at enrolment and updation centres to retrieve their 12-digit identification number and take printouts for free.

ICOMOS launches initiative to save cultural heritage damaged in flood-hit Kerala
The ICOMOS, a global monument conservation body, has launched an initiative to assess the damage to the rich cultural and built heritage in flood-devastated Kerala and set up an emergency response platform.
The International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) is a prestigious non-government organisation dedicated to promoting the application of theory, methodology and scientific techniques for conservation of architectural and archaeological heritage across the world.
The initiative also aims at setting up a platform for emergency response to the cultural heritage damaged by the floods in Kerala.

International water colour festival to be held in Ranchi
The international water colour festival, starting aims to bring local artists in touch with the international art and promote the rich art and culture of Jharkhand.
Organised by Department of Tourism, Art-Culture, Sports & Youth Affairs, the art festival will be held at Audrey House.
56 internationally renowned artists -- from as many as 24 countries and 25 Indian states -- will participate in the five-day festival.

6. UGC directs universities and higher education institutions to ban sale of junk food on their campuses
The University Grants Commission (UGC) has directed all varsities and higher education institutions to ban sale of junk food on their campuses.
Banning junk food in colleges will set new standards for healthy food, making the students live better, learn better and reduce obesity levels. This will prevent lifestyle diseases which have a direct link with excessive weight.

The circular was issued after a directive from the HRD ministry, asking the UGC to ban the sale of junk food on premises of higher education institutions.

FSSAI notifies standards for honey & its products to curb adulteration
The regulator FSSAI has come out with food safety standards for honey and its products, in a bid to curb adulteration.
The move comes in the wake of government promoting farmers to venture into the beekeeping business to increase their income. The standards will help fetch farmers better prices for their products.
At present, there are no separate quality standards for honey and its products.

August 23

Overview Of Prime Minister’s One Day Gujarat Visit
Prime Minister Narendra Modi reached Surat, where he was received by Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani. During his day long visit, he visited Junagarh, Valsad and addressed the 4th convocation of Gujarat Forensic Science University in Gandhinagar.
The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi inaugurated various projects in Junagadh district of Gujarat.
(i) These include:
The Government Civil Hospital, Building of GMERS Medical College at the cost of Rs. 249 crore, 13 projects of Junagadh Municipal Corporation, A milk processing plant at Khokhardaand Some buildings of the Junagadh Agriculture University.
Laid foundation stones of nine initiatives worth over Rs 500 crore.
(ii) During his visit in Valsad, the PM inaugurated multiple projects, these include:
More than 1.15 lakh houses have been built in Gujarat at a cost of Rs 1,727 crore under the scheme across 26 districts.
He distributed e-Gruhpravesh certificates to beneficiaries of Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana Gramin.
He announced the decision to complete 99 pending irrigation projects at the cost of Rs 1 lakh crore and fix the MSP 1.5 times higher than the input cost.
He also awarded the GFSU an ‘A’ Grade certificate on behalf of the National Assessment and

35% of cyber attacks on Indian sites from China
A report sent to the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) and other security agencies by a department under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has announced that the maximum number of cyber attacks on official Indian websites are from China, US and Russia. It has also flagged the possibility of “malicious actors from Pakistan using German and Canadian cyberspace for intruding into Indian cyberspace and carrying out malicious activities”.
The report, prepared by the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In),
which comes under the ministry, analysed cyber attacks from April-June 2018. CERT-In is the nodal agency which deals with cyber security threats like hacking and phishing. It collects, analyses and disseminates information on “cyber incidents”, and also issues alerts on “cyber security incidents”.
According to the report, it has been observed that China continues to “intrude” Indian cyberspace in a “significant” way. “The cyber attacks from China made up 35% of the total number of cyber attacks on official Indian websites, followed by US (17%), Russia (15%), Pakistan (9%), Canada (7%) and Germany (5%),”.

Punjab Government to make sacrilege of religious text punishable with life imprisonment
The Chief Minister of Punjab, Amarinder Singh announced that the state cabinet has approved amendments to the Indian Penal Code (IPC) to make sacrilege of all religious text punishable with life imprisonment.
The Cabinet approved the Code of Criminal Procedure (Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2018, and the Indian Penal Code (Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2018. The amended bills will be tabled in the upcoming Assembly session.
The main objective behind making sacrilege of all religious texts punishable with life imprisonment is to preserve communal harmony.
The Punjab cabinet has approved the insertion of section 295AA to the IPC to provide that whoever causes injury, damage or sacrilege to Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Srimad Bhagwad Geeta, Holy Quran and Holy Bible with the intention to hurt the religious feelings of the people, shall be punished with imprisonment for life.

SBM-U added elimination of public urination in its agenda
Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban) has officially included the elimination of public urination in its agenda. Under new norms, if any city or town wants to be declared Open Defecation Free Plus (ODF+), then it must be free of public urination, not just open defecation.
The original ODF protocol which was issued in 2016 a city/ward can be declared as ODF city/ward if no person is found defecating in the open at any point of the day. So far, 2,741 cities have been certified as ODF, based mostly on third-party verification of toilet construction.
As per the new ODF+ protocol, which was issued, a city could be declared ODF+ if no person is found defecating and/or urinating in the open and also all community and public toilets are functional and well-maintained. It also added that faecal sludge/ septage and sewage must be safely managed and treated, with no discharging and/or dumping of untreated faecal sludge/ septage and sewage in drains, water bodies or open areas.

5G steering committee headed by AJ Paulraj submitted its report to DoT; India to get 5G by 2020.
A panel set up by the Department of Telecom to prepare a roadmap for rollout of 5G telephony in India expects the service to be operational by 2020.
The nine-member Steering Committee, headed by AJ Paulraj, recommended releasing additional spectrum for 5G services. It submitted its report to Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan.
5G services would have a cumulative economic impact of over $1 trillion by 2035. While the US is likely to deploy 5G services later this year, or in the first quarter of 2019, the India rollout may begin by 2020.
Globally, 5G technologies are expected to evolve to a full range of services by 2024, adding that by acting early to embrace the 5G opportunity, India can accelerate the dividends and potentially also become an innovator.
The committee has suggested a broad planning estimate of Rs. 300 crore for the first year, Rs. 400 crore for the second, Rs. 500 crore in the third year, and Rs. 400 crore in the fourth.

Tamil Nadu CM E. Palanisamy launches app, website on plastic pollution free Tamilnadu
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E. Palanisamy launched an app and a website on plastic pollution free Tamilnadu.
Inaugurating a campaign to highlight the impact of plastic pollution, he also appointed actor Vivek as the brand ambassador for the project.
The Chief Minister informed that the initiative was launched after the Committee on plastic pollution submitted the report to the Government.
The State Government has announced that plastic will be banned from January 1 next year.

NITI Aayog launches 5 Thematic Reports on Sustainable Development in Indian Himalayan Region
The NITI Aayog released the five Thematic Reports on Sustainable Development in e Indian Himalayan Region (IHR), listing the challenges in all the defined 5 thematic areas. The reports discuss the significance, the challenges, the ongoing actions and a future roadmap.
Earlier in June 2017, the NITI Aayog had set up 5 Working Groups to prepare a roadmap for actions in 5 thematic areas that are quite significant for the Himalayas. These areas were:
Inventory and Revival of Springs in Himalayas for Water Security
Sustainable Tourism in Indian Himalayan Region
Transformative Approach to Shifting Cultivation
Strengthening Skill & Entrepreneurship Landscape in Himalayas
Data/ Information for Informed Decision Making

Government imposes standard environment clearing conditions for 25 sectors
The government has imposed standard conditions for as many as 25 sectors like steel, coal and oil, seeking environment clearance (EC) for expansion of existing projects or new projects.
The government-constituted green panel called Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) assesses the projects and makes recommendations, based on which the Environment Ministry grants the final EC.
The 25 sectors include iron, steel, cement, coal, petroleum refineries industry, paper and pulp industries, hydro-electric projects, industrial estates, among others.

Indians can make calls on flights starting October
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has reportedly informed that people will be allowed to make calls and use the internet during flights from October. According to reports final stages of in-flight connectivity licence norms and the service option will be given to carriers and telecom companies within two months.

Modi coins slogan 'Saaf Niyat, Sahi Vikas', gifts women Rakhi homes
Prime Minister Narendra Modi set rolling a new slogan, 'Saaf Niyat, Sahi Vikas', about his government as he gave away over 1 lakh houses to women under the flagship Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana (rural) scheme, calling it a Rakshabandhan gift.
The Modi government's oft-mentioned slogan has been 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas' right from the BJP's election campaign ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
Modi also laid the foundation stone of Rs 586 crore Astol group water supply scheme for the benefit of tribal villages tucked away deep into forests of Dharampur and Kaprada talukas (tehsil) in Valsad district.

‘Odisha aims to be hub of east with port-led manufacturing’
Odisha aims to leverage its ports as part of a push to develop the State as a manufacturing hub in eastern India that could serve the larger South Asian regional market, according to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.
Odisha is fast emerging as the manufacturing hub of eastern India and we are working towards developing the State into a manufacturing hub of South Asia, after inaugurating two manufacturing plants and laying the foundation stones for 13 units entailing a total investment of Rs. 2,901.20 crore.
The State’s focus is on ensuring state-of-the-art infrastructure and progressive policies to provide a conducive environment for industrial development, according to the Chief Minister.

EU announces Euro 1.9 lakh to Indian Red Cross Society for Kerala flood relief
The European Union announced an assistance of Euro 190,000 (Rs 1.53 crore) in aid funding to the Indian Red Cross Society for providing immediate relief to flood-affected people in Kerala. The announcement was made by the office of the grouping, comprising 28 European countries.
According to official figure the floods claimed 231 lives and rendered more than 14.50 lakh people homeless besides causing widespread destructions in 13 of the 14 districts of the state. The full extent of the damage from the flooding is yet to be fully revealed, as search and rescue operations continue in several locations across the region.

August 24

India, Singapore sign Second Protocol amending bilateral trade pact
India and Singapore signed the "Second Protocol" amending the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) to boost trade ties between the two countries.
The protocol was signed by Joint Secretary of Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Rajneesh and Francis Chong, Senior Director, Ministry of Trade and Industry, Government of Singapore. The CECA was signed on June 29, 2005 and its first review was concluded on October 1, 2007.
The signing of the Second Protocol, amending CECA, will boost bilateral trade between India and Singapore.

India’s First ISTS connected Wind Power Project Commissioned
Solar Energy Corporation of India Limited (SECI) conducted India’s first auction of wind power projects in February 2017 in which tariff of Rs. 3.46 was discovered, which was much lower than feed in tariffs in vogue those days. This was a 1000 MW bid for projects to be connected on ISTS (Inter State Transmission System) wherein power generated from one state (renewable resource rich state) could be transmitted to other renewable deficient states. Mytrah, Inox, Ostro, Green Infa and Adani were winners of the bid.
As a part of this bid, M/s Ostro Kutch Wind Private Limited was issued letter of award for a capacity of 250 MW, with commissioning period of 18 months. A part capacity of 126 MW, located in Bhuj (Gujarat) was commissioned by M/s Ostro on 24.08.2018, ahead of schedule. The energy generated from this project is being purchased by Bihar, Odisha, Jharkhand and UP.

Pranab Mukherje launched NETA app that allows voters to rate political representatives Now an app to rate, review your 'neta'
An app that allows voters to rate and review their political representatives and aims to foster political accountability and transparency among leaders was launched.
Aptly called Neta app, which was unveiled by former President Pranab Mukherjee, the technology platform will let users rate their MLAs and MPs and is being billed as an instrument to gauge voter sentiment across constituencies in the country.
The app in its beta version has already seen over 1.5 crore verified voters rating and reviewing their local leaders across 543 parliamentary constituencies and 4,120 assembly constituencies over the last eight months.
Indian Air Force launches “Speedex” contract.
The stores, proactive, efficient and expeditious dispatch of extra size/wt consignment (SPEEDEX) contract was formally launched by Air Marshal RKS Shera Air officer in charge Maintenance in the presence of senior IAF officers. MoD dignitaries and CEOs of the companies. The theme of the contract is: ‘lift, shift and move’, that on all principles of Military Logistics.
Aim of the contract is to overcome the delay in piecemeal dispatch of consignment and to move operationally urgent stores by air and normal consignments by surface mode. This would include door to door pickup and delivery facility with fixed timelines lesser that speed post. This contract will enhance support to IAF maintenance activities and improve operational preparedness.
The contact with acronym SPEEDEX has been concluded on 28 jun 18 with Balmer Lawrie & Co Ltd and Ashok Travel and tours for the Air & Surface component respectively.
The ability to lift shift and move is the essence of sound transportation management and it has a profound impact on all principles of military logistics.

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik inaugurated a few projects and announced the upcoming investor summit in November 2018.
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik inaugurated two new manufacturing units and laid the foundation stones for 13 plants in the state, totalling an investment of Rs 2,901.20 crore.
The units, which were inaugurated by Patnaik through video-conferencing, include Grasim Industries Ltd's 33,000 mtpa caustic soda facility in Ganjam district, built at an investment of Rs 110 crore, and Jyoti Solar Solution's Rs 57.17 crore solar power plant in Bolangir district.
The chief minister laid the foundation stones of OCL Ltd's Rs 1994.98 crore cement plant in Sundergarh district, Hindustan Urban Infrastructure's Rs 389 crore wire drawing of aluminium insulated wires and cable manufacturing unit in Khurda district, IFFCO's private railway siding (Rs 63.55 crore) and Jajpur Cement plant (Rs 63.5 crore), among others.

Punjab Cabinet approves bill for price stabilisation fund
The Punjab cabinet approved a bill for creation of a price stabilisation fund which will ensure state farmers get minimum support price (MSP). The decision was taken during a cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.
The cabinet decided to table the bill for enactment in the Vidhan Sabha session, which is beginning.
The bill aims to protect the interests of farmers in the event of a sudden fall in prices of certain agricultural commodities. According to it, amendments will be made to sections 25 (A), 26 and 28 of the Punjab Agricultural Produce Markets Act, 1961.

Committee of Secretaries approved setting up National Logistics Portal as a e-marketplace
The first phase of the National Logistics Portal (NLP) - a digital platform to bring all stakeholders in the logistics sector on board to cut down transaction cost and time for businesses - is likely to be implemented by March.
The Department of Commerce, which is designing the portal, has already received an approval of the 'proof of concept' from a Committee of Secretaries and is now working on the detailed project report, a government official associated with the project.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, in his Budget speech this year, had announced that the Department of Commerce will create a portal which will be a single window online market place for trade and will connect business, create opportunities and bring together various ministries, departments and the private sector.

Prasar Bharati & Mizzima Media of Myanmar ink an MoU
Prasar Bharati and Mizzima Media of Myanmar signed a Memorandum of Understanding. This will boost centuries old ties between India and Myanmar. It will also strengthen India's soft power in its neighbourhood.
The Agreement will realize cooperation and collaboration in various fields of broadcasting. It also envisions content-sharing covring a wide range of genres, including culture, entertainment, education, science, news and sports. India and Myanmar have shared history of their independent struggle and Prasar Bhart's rich archive will help them relive tose precious moments.
This MoU will give further boost to centuries old ties of India and Myanmar. Beside, it will also act to spread india's soft power in its neighbourhood.

TRIBES India Outlets to open at Ahmedabad, Udaipur and Kolkata airports
The Airport Authority of India has allotted space at Ahmedabad, Udaipur and Kolkata airports for opening of Tribes India outlets. Besides, TRIFED has been offered spaces at International Airports at Dehradun, Varanasi, Pune, Goa, Coimbatore, Lucknow, Amritsar and Gangtok for setting up of Tribes India Outlets. Presence of Tribes India Outlets at these Airports will not only be a good opportunity to market tribal products but also would help promote “Tribes India” as a brand among target customers.
TRIFED has established a network of 89 Outlets i.e. 42 own Sales outlets, 33 outlets on consignment sale and 14 franchised outlets located across the country in comparison to 29 own outlets and 13 consignment outlets as on 30.07.2017.
Tribal Artisan Mela (TAM):
TAMs are organized by TRIFED with a view to identify new artisans and new products at the sourcing level in States/ Districts/ Villages for expanding the tribal producers base. During the month of July, 2018, 2 TAMs were organized at Udaipur (Rajasthan) and Keojhar (Odisha) where 120 artisans participated and exhibited their crafts 4 artisans have been enrolled during the month taking the total to 1027.

Centre wants Supreme Court to get tough with FB, YouTube
Finding the efforts by Internet giants to curb circulation of online videos of sexual violence against women and children inadequate, the government is likely to seek “stricter directions” to service providers, such as Facebook and YouTube, from the Supreme Court.
The directions sought will include considerably reducing the time taken by the intermediary to comply with content removal requests under certain Sections of the IT Act to less than 10 hours from about 36 hours at present.

Commerce ministry to launch national logistics portal
The commerce ministry has stepped up work on developing a national logistics portal, as part of its measures to ensure ease of trading and cut high logistics costs from 14% of the GDP to 10% by 2022. The portal is aimed at linking all stakeholders of domestic and foreign trade and all trade activities on a single platform.
India’s logistics sector is very complex with more than 20 government agencies, 40 partnering government agencies, 37 export promotion councils, 500 certifications and 10,000 commodities. It also involves 12 million jobs, 200 shipping agencies, 36 logistic services, 129 inland container depots, 50 IT ecosystems and banks and insurance agencies. Further, 81 authorities and 500 certificates are required for exports or imports.

August 25

Jharkhand Renames Several Institutes After Atal Bihari Vajpayee
The Jharkhand government has decided to rename several institutes in the state after former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee who died in August.
The Jharkhand cabinet was chaired by Chief Minister Raghubar Das. It decided to rename the 'Jharkhand Innovation Lab' as Atal Innovation Lab. It also decided to name the under-construction Convention Centre, Ranchi as Atal Convention Centre.
Professional College Jamshedpur, functioning under Higher Technical Education & Skill Department, has been renamed as Atal Bihari Vajpayee Professional College, Jamshedpur.
Similarly, Chikisha Mahavidyalaya, Palamau has been renamed as Atal Bihari Vajpayee Chikisha Mahavidyalaya, Palamau.
The Cabinet also decided to recommend to the Centre to name the under-construction airport at Deoghar as Atal Bihari Vajpayee Airport.

Tamil Nadu government lays foundation stone for Special Investment Region (SIR) in Krishnagiri dist
The Tamil Nadu government laid the foundation stone for developing a Special Investment Region (SIR) in Krishnagiri district, as part of its efforts to boost economic growth in northern parts of the state.
Chief Minister K. Palaniswami laid the foundation stone through video conferencing from and the SIR would be developed jointly by GMR Infrastructures Ltd and Tamil Nadu Industrial Development Corporation Ltd (TIDCO).
The GMR Krishnagiri SIR will come up on 2,100 acres in Denkanikottai and Shoolagiri taluks in that district. The SIR was part of the government’s steps to boost economic growth of the northern districts and it will have “world-class” roads, drainage systems, water and sewage treatment plants, power and internet supply to attract investments.

Home Ministry revokes security clearance to Qatar-based English news channel Al Jazeera
Union minister of Home affairs (MHA) has revoked security clearance of Qatar government state founded English news broadcaster Al Jazeera. It is believed that main reason for this revocation is considered to be over documentary made by Qatari channel on militancy in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) which Indian government viewed as “biased”. Al Jazeer has reportedly filed petition for reviewing this decision.
Foreign channels need security clearance from MHA and broadcosting clearance from union information and broadcasting ministry. Al Jazeera’s security clearance was valid from December 2010, and expired on May 2018.

Defence Ministry approves procurement worth Rs 46,000 crore for services for Indian Army and Navy
The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) approved procurement worth approximately Rs. 46,000 crore for the purchase of defence equipments and supplies, including 111 utility helicopters, 14 Vertically Launched Short Range Missile and 150 indigenously developed 155 mm Advanced Towed Artillery Gun Systems.
In a meeting chaired by Defence Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, the DAC approved Rs. 21,000 crore out of the total procurement amount for purchasing 111 utility helicopters for the Navy. This is the first project under Ministry of Defence's notable Strategic Partnership (SP) Model which intends to provide a major boost to Centre's 'Make in India' program.
This model envisages indigenous manufacturing of major defence platforms by an Indian Strategic Partner, who will collaborate with foreign Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), acquire niche technologies and set up production facilities in the country.

August 26

PM Narendra Modi to launch FAME India II on September 7
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch on September 7 the second phase of the FAME India scheme offering incentives for mass adoption of electric vehicles with an outlay of Rs 5,500 crore.
The modalities of the scheme have been finalised by an inter-ministerial panel and it will soon be placed before the union Cabinet for approval adding that the prime minister would unveil the scheme at the inaugural session of the 'MOVE' -- a global mobility summit to be organised on September 7-8 -- in the presence of several global CEOs from the automotive sector.
In April, the government had extended the phase 1 of the FAME India scheme by six months till September-end or till its second phase is approved.

Tamil Nadu CM inaugurates India's tallest Film Studio
MGR Centenary Film Studio, the tallest such structure in the country, was inaugurated by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami near.
The 56 feet tall, 110 metres long and 100 feet wide studio was constructed using funds collected by the Federation of Film Employees Union of South India (FEFSI), at Paiyanur.
He suggested that directors of other language films could consider the studio for shooting, and added it would also lead to creation of jobs.

Supreme Court clarified Second marriage valid even if plea against divorce pending
The Supreme Court has clarified that a second marriage will be considered valid even if a plea against divorce is pending. SC passed the order on an appeal filed by a man challenging Delhi HC's verdict supporting his second wife. She wanted their marriage to be declared void as it had taken place before completion of divorce with first wife.
The "incapacity to marriage" as mentioned under the Hindu Marriage Act would not lead to nullity of second marriage, reported Deccan Herald citing SC verdict.

August 27

National Anti-profiteering Authority (NAA) introduced GST helpline
The National Anti-profiteering Authority (NAA) has started a helpline to encourage consumers to file complaints against the companies that are not passing GST rate cut benefits.
The helpline number 011-21400643 will guide the consumers to register their complaints, provide information and resolve queries related to profiteering under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) law.
Consumers can call the helpline number between 9:30 am-1 pm and 1:30pm - 6pm on all working days, as per the latest post on the NAA website.
NAA has started a helpline to resolve all the queries related to the registration of complaints against profiteering.
Since the rollout of GST on July 1, 2017, the GST Council has cut tax rates on several occasions on a number of items.
The highest slab of 28 per cent was also rationalised to benefit consumers.

Committee on review of penal provisions of Company Act 2013 submits final report to Shri Arun Jaitley
The Committee constituted by Government of India in July 2018 to review the existing framework dealing with offences under the Companies Act, 2013 and related matters and makes recommendations to promote better corporate compliance, has submitted its report. The report was presented to the Union Minister for Finance & Corporate Affairs, Shri Arun Jaitley by Secretary, Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Shri Injeti Srinivas, who chaired the committee.
Restructuring of Corporate Offences to relieve Special Courts from adjudicating routine offences:
Rre-categorization of 16 out of the 81 compoundable offences by shifting them from the jurisdiction of special courts to an in-house E-adjudication framework wherein defaults would be subject to levy of penalty by the authorised adjudicating officer (Registrar of Companies);
Remaining 65 compoundable offences to continue under the jurisdiction of special courts due to their potential misuse.

JP Nadda launches health insurance scheme logo
To deal with the menace of fake Ayushman Bharat-National Health Protection Scheme websites, the government was serious on cracking them and had come up with a foolproof plan to avoid duplication of beneficiaries. Launching the logo of Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana, which was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his Independence Day speech, there would be a QR code in each letter through which beneficiaries would be identified.
The national rollout of the PMJAY scheme will happen on September 25, the birth anniversary of RSS ideologue Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay. The Rs 5 lakh health insurance and assurance scheme will cover about 10.74 crore poor and vulnerable families as listed in the socio-economic caste census data. The Health Minister further that all government hospitals were deemed to be empanelled under the scheme, while the process of empanelment for private hospitals was on.

Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) to open its first regional centre near chilika lake
The Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), one of India’s premier avian research institutes, will start operating its regional centre on the campus of Wetland Research and Training Centre near Chilika Lake.
The BNHS has been active in avian research in the Chilika Lake, which hosts nearly one million birds with 97 species being intercontinental migratory in nature during the winter season. The avifauna observatory will be inaugurated by BNHS director Deepak Apte.
The centre will carry out research on avian disease by collecting samples and monitor the Nalabana Bird Sanctuary, Susanta Nanda, Chief Executive of Chilika Development Authority.

Madhya Pradesh government seeks revival of cheetah reintroduction project
The Madhya Pradesh forest department has written to the National Tiger Conservation Authority to revive the plan to reintroduce cheetahs in the State’s Nauradehi sanctuary. The ambitious project, conceived in 2009, had hit a roadblock for want of funds.
The country’s last spotted feline died in Chhattisgarh in 1947. Later, the cheetah - which is the fastest land animal — was declared extinct in India in 1952.
The M.P. forest department would need finances from the Centre for the project, adding that the NTCA, a statutory body under the Union Environment Ministry, had committed ₹50 crore to the State for it in 2011.

IAF Trans Himalayan Mountain Terrain Biking Expedition (The MTB)
Indian Air Force is celebrating its 86th Anniversary on 08 Oct 2018. To commemorate this event, IAF has launched a unique event in the form of Trans-Himalayan Mountain Terrain Biking Expedition (THE MTB).
The team for the expedition consists of 18 Air warriors (12 riders and 06 support staff) which also include two women officers. The expedition started from Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO) in Ladakh for Kibithu in Arunachal Pradesh. DBO and Kibithu are the two forward most outposts of India in the North and in the East with DBO being the highest Airfield at 16614 feet. The team will cover a distance of more than 4500 Km through mountain terrain of the states of J&K, HP, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.
The Adventure ride that the team is undertaking involves camping and living outdoors, managing and surviving on their own in snow, rain and extreme climatic conditions throughout the expedition. This is the first time that a mountain terrain biking expedition of such a magnitude is being undertaken by IAF. The expedition is led by Wg Cdr S Sharathchandra. The aim of this expedition is to promote spirit of adventure among Air Warriors to undertake daunting challenges and ‘Go Green’ initiative.

SpiceJet operates India's first biofuel-powered test flight from Dehradun to Delhi
No-frills airline SpiceJet operated India's first test flight powered by biojet fuel, marking a new chapter in the fast-growing domestic aviation sector.
The nearly 45-minute flight from Dehradun to the national capital was operated with a Bombardier Q400 aircraft, partially powered by biojet fuel made from Jatropha plant, according to an airline official. The flight landed at around 1150 hours.
SpiceJet has successfully operated "India's first ever biojet fuel flight".
It also comes at a time when the airline industry is grappling with spiralling fuel prices that are impacting their profitability. However, use of biofuel for regular flights would take some time.

Two new projects for Punjab, Tripura under Swadesh Darshan Scheme
The Ministry of Tourism announced that it has sanctioned two new projects under Heritage and North East Circuits of Swadesh Darshan Scheme for Rs 164.95 crore in Punjab and Tripura.
'Swadesh Darshan' (tour of country) is a flagship scheme of the Ministry of Tourism for the development of thematic circuits in the country in a planned and prioritised manner.
In Punjab, the project covers sites of Anandpur Sahib Fatehgarh Sahib Chamkaur Sahib Ferozpur Amritsar Khatkar Kalan Kalanour Patiala at the cost of Rs 99.95 crore.
Under the North East Circuit in Tripura, the sites of Surma Cherra- Unakoti- Jampui Hills- Gunabati-Bhunaneshwari- Matabari- Neermahal- Boxanagar- Chotta khola- Pilak- Avangchaarra are covered with a total project cost of Rs 65 crore.

MoU signed for skill development of Arogyamitras under the PMJAY
A Memorandum of Understanding(MoU) was signed between the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) and National Health Agency (NHA), to provide capacity building for Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana(PMJAY) to ensure effective rollout and continued quality implementation.
As per the MoU, NSDC will ensure quality training of Arogyamitra through its network of Skill Development Centres functioning under PMKVY and Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendras(PMKK). All the currently recruited/ deputed Pradhan Arogyamitras will be certified by health care sector skill council, the body notified as non-statutory body for health sector under the aegis of NSDC.

Union steel ministry launches Corporate Sports Policy for CPSEs
Union Minister of Steel, Chaudhary Birender Singh, unveiled the corporate sports policy for Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs) under the Ministry of Steel. The policy will provide a framework for promotion of sports by Steel Ministry CPSEs.
The policy document was released by Chaudhary Birender Singh, Union Minister of Steel. In his address, sports now acts as a change agent. India’s steel sector contributes more than 2% to GDP,steel sector needs to strive to enhance equivalent contribution to sports.
Awareness towards sports is increasing and the policy aims to achieve the national sports ambition. Under this policy the steel CPSEs will play the role of –Enabler like, providing infrastructure venue, facilities, institutions etc; Facilitator like sponsorship, aid, privileges etc. Incentivising like felicitation, publicity and rewards. Under the policy CPSEs, under MoS,will discharge this responsibility through infrastructural and institutional support for Talent potting, Scholarship.

Odisha CM launches 'Mu Hero, Mu Odisha' campaign
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik launched 'Mu Hero, Mu Odisha' ((I am Hero, I am Odisha) campaign to recognise exemplary works by youths towards social transformation in the state.
The Chief Minister flagged-off the programme under Biju Yuva Vahini, a voluntary programme that aims to promote youth leadership and sports at community level.

Government approves commercial flying of drone in India from December 1
India has finally approved guidelines to bring the use of drones under a legal framework. If all goes well, from December, drones can be used for purpose like mapping, surveying and photography, which till now was illegal due to absence of any guidelines.
However, following global norms, the government has restricted the use of drones for delivering of goods and food items which may hinder its commercial usage. Jayant Sinha, minister of state for civil aviation while announcing the policy indicated that this was done keeping in mind the security aspect and the government will be looking to liberalise the guidelines in future.
E-commerce major Amazon has used a drone to deliver a bag of popcorn to an address in rural England, in the first commercial outing for a technology that is the US group’s boldest step towards automating deliveries.

August 28

CBSE has developed Parinam Manjusha, a digiLocker facility
The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) along with National e-Governance Division has developed ‘Parinam Manjusha’, digital academic repository, to provide digital mark sheets, migration certificates and pass certificates to students from CBSE-affiliated schools in Kerala, whose board exam academic documents have been lost or damaged in the recent floods.
This academic repository has been integrated with DigiLocker. Over 1,300 schools are affiliated to the CBSE in Kerala. The digital academic documents are digitally signed by the Controller of Examinations of CBSE which make them legally valid digital document as per the IT Act. These documents are also having QR codes and such documents can be verified for the authenticity using the DigiLocker mobile app.
The students are asked to visit and and download their academic documents using the login-id/ password.

Petroleum Minister launches online portal for common carrier capacity booking
The Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Dharmendra Pradhan launched an online portal to enable easy, efficient and transparent booking of common carrier capacity for natural gas transmission services under GAIL’s pipelines.
The portal will be the first step to facilitate gas trading on a hub or exchange-traded platform in India.
The online portal is the first-of-its-kind in the natural gas sector of the country. It will provide gas consumers the facility to register pipeline capacity bookings online.
It aims to continue the practice of serving on first come-first served basis.
NVIDIA becomes NITI Aayog's deep learning partner for 'MoveHack' mobility hackathon
NVIDIA has partnered with India’s think tank NITI Aayog to support it for MoveHack, the government's Global Mobility Hackathon.
The company, a prominent graphics processing unit (GPU) maker, is going to be a deep learning technology partner for the hackathon.
According to the latest announcement by the think tank the hackathon has so far received more than 35000 registrations from more than 25 countries.

J.P. Nadda launches logo of Ayushman Bharat Scheme; announces that 29 states and UTs signed MoU for implementation of scheme
Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare, J P Nadda announced that 29 States and Union Territories (UTs) signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the implementation of on Ayushman Bharat – Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojna (AB-PMJAY).
These states have already started working on implementation of the scheme. The pilot project has started in 16 States and UTs. Other states/UTs will also start pilots before the pan-India launch of the scheme on September 25, 2018.
It is a National Health Protection Scheme, which will provide a defined benefit coverage of Rs 5 lakh per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalisation to 10 crore poor and vulnerable families (approximately 50 crore beneficiaries).

Government announces Drone Regulations 1.0 for safe commercial usage of Drones
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation issued the Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) or regulations for civil use of Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) commonly known as drones.
The regulations were developed after extensive consultations among various stakeholders, and will be effective from December 1, 2018.
Drones are a technology platform having wide-ranging applications from photography to agriculture, from infrastructure asset maintenance to insurance. Drones range in size from very small and those that can carry multiple kilograms of payload.

Centre signs MoU with 6 states for Lakhwar Yamuna basin project
Union Water Resources Minister Nitin Gadkari signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with six states for the construction of the Lakhwar multi-purpose project in the upper Yamuna basin to deal with water crisis.
Chief Ministers of Uttar Pradesh (Yogi Adityanath), Rajasthan (Vasundhara Raje Scindia), Uttarakhand (Trivendra Singh Rawat), Himachal Pradesh (Jai Ram Thakur), Haryana (Manohar Lal Khattar) and (Delhi Arvind Kejriwal) signed the MoU .
Under the agreement, the 204-metres high project will be constructed near Uttarakhand's Lohari village with live storage capacity of 330.66 million cubic metres (MCM).

The agreement is an effort to conserve and utilise the monsoon flows of the Yamuna, adding that 90 per cent of the project will be funded by the Centre while the remaining amount will be paid by the six states.

Health Ministry asks States to ban e-cigarettes
The Union Health Ministry has instructed all the States that e-cigarettes and other Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) should not be sold under their jurisdiction.
Punjab, Karnataka, Kerala, Mizoram, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have already prohibited the use of e-cigarettes, heat-not-burn devices, E-Shisha and e-nicotine-flavoured hookahs, and have prohibited the manufacture, import, sale and distribution of ENDS. The Health Ministry has issued an advisory for the other States to follow suit.
ENDS products are a great health risk to the public at large, especially to children, adolescents, pregnant women and women of reproductive age. States and Union Territories are advised in larger public health interest, and in order to prevent the initiation of ENDS by non-smokers and youth, with special attention to vulnerable groups, to ensure that ENDS are not sold.

U.S. team to study Kerala flood impact
A team of scientists from the U.S.-based Geotechnical Extreme Events Reconnaisance (GEER) Association is arriving on September 3 to investigate the impact of the torrential rains that wreaked havoc across Kerala.
The delegation is led by Thomas Oommen, Associate Professor, Michigan Technological University and Richard Coffman, Associate Professor, University of Arkansas. Sajin Kumar K.S., Assistant Professor, Department of Geology, University of Kerala, will be coordinating the visit. The week-long study is sponsored by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF).

New committee formed to advise PM on science, tech-related policy issues
The Narendra Modi Government has constituted a high power committee to advise it on policy matters related to science, technology and innovation.
Named as PM-STIAC (Science, Technology, Innovation Advisory Committee), the 21-member committee, including a dozen special invitees, will be chaired by K Vijay Raghavan, Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government.
According to an official notification, secretaries of all science & technology related ministries are part of the special invitees. These include atomic energy, space, biotechnology, new & renewable energy, environment & forests, agriculture, health & higher education.
The committee will advise the Prime Minister on all matters related to S&T, innovation and monitor the implementation of PM’s vision on the same.

Google launches navlekha for indian language publishers
Google has launched Project Navlekha to expand the reach of Indian content. The project would allow Indian vernacular news publishers to get their content online. Currently, the project has publishers from Delhi and its reach would soon be expanded across India.
At the fourth edition of Google for India event, Shashidhar Thakur, Vice-President, Engineering, Google Search, informed there are close to 1.35 lakh newspapers in India without a digital presence and the new launch is an attempt to cater to the growing number of vernacular users in India.
During the event, the tech giant also announced a series of launches and expansion plans catering to the growing Indian vernacular users. Google Go, which has more tap options for first-time smartphone users, is now available in English and five other Indian languages -- Marathi, Malayalam, Telugu, Tamil and Bengali. It also has a playback option for a news feed in regional languages.

JNPT Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and ministry of railways sign MoU for Indore-Manmad railway line project
The shipping and railway ministries along with Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra governments entered into a pact to implement around Rs 90 billion Indore-Manmad rail project.
The tribal sectors of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra will benefit from the railway line which will cost around Rs 90 billion after the signing of the MoU.
The project will reduce the distance from Mumbai/ Pune to key central India locations by 171 km.

CBSE to provide digital board exam documents to flood-hit Kerala students
The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) in technical collaboration with National E-Governance Division (NEGD) has developed the first-of-its-kind digital academic repository called ‘Parinam Manjusha’. The academic repository will be integrated with DigiLocker.
In a special gesture to students from CBSE affiliated schools in Kerala, whose board exam documents such as mark sheets/ migration certificates/ pass certificates have got lost or damaged in the state’s floods, the CBSE will provide them with digital mark sheets, migration certificates and pass certificates through the ‘Parinam Manjusha’ portal/ DigiLocker.
The digital academic documents being provided through the portal will be digitally signed using the digital signature of CBSE’s Controller of Examinations. The digital documents will be legally valid as per IT Act.

Charging Stations for e-Vehicles Inaugurated in Udyog Bhawan
Union Minister of Heavy Industries & Public Enterprises, Anant G. Geete inaugurated two charging stations, one for fast charging (DC) and the other for slow charging (AC), in UdyogBhawan, New Delhi.
This is part of the Swachhta Pakhwada celebrations of the Department of Heavy Industry. Eight charging stations have been installed in the premises of UdyogBhawan for facilitating charging of e-vehicles. Of the eight charging stations, two fast charging stations have been installed by BHEL and six slow charging stations have been installed by Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL).
AC charger consists of 3 outlets, charging 3 cars at the same time with the charging time from 6-8 hours. DC charger consists of single outlet, charging one car at a time with the charging time of 1.5 hours.

Deputy CM Chowna Mein introduces arunachal pradesh staff selection board bill
The Arunachal Pradesh Re-Organisation of Districts (Amendment) Bill 2018 for the creation of three new districts was introduced in the state Assembly.
Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein introduced the bill in the Assembly to pave the way for creation of new districts of Pakke-Kessang, Lepa Rada and Shi Yomi in the state.
The Pakke-Kessang district will be carved out of East Kameng district with five administrative units namely Pakke-Kessangn, Seijosa, Pijiriang, Passa Valley and Dissingn Passo with district headquarters at Lemmi.
The Lepa Rada district would be created by bifurcating the Lower Siang district with headquarters at Basar.

Vision document on Taj Mahal should take into account pollution in TTZ: Supreme Court
The Supreme Court vision document on protection and preservation of the Taj Mahal in Agra should be prepared taking into account issues like pollution in the Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ) and industries operating. The TTZ is an area of about 10,400 sq km spread over the districts of Agra, Firozabad, Mathura, Hathras and Etah in Uttar Pradesh and Bharatpur district of Rajasthan.
A bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur informed authorities should look into the larger perspective while dealing with the issue of protection of Taj Mahal.

August 29

Cabinet Approvals As On August 29, 2018
Cabinet approves Revised Cost Estimate for setting up of India Post Payments Bank
The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi gave its approval for increase in project outlay for the India Post Payments Bank (IPPB) from Rs. 800 crore to Rs. 1,435 crore.
The additional Rs. 635 crore has been given in the following manner:
Rs 400 crore for Technology Costs and
Rs 235 crore for Human Resource Costs.
Cabinet approves additional 2 percent Dearness Allowance (DA) for Central Government employees and Dearness Relief (DR) to pensioners w.e.f. 1st July, 2018.
This would include an increase of 2% over the existing rate of 7% of the Basic Pay/Pension, to compensate for price rise.
The impact of Dearness Allowance and Deamess Relief would be Rs.6112.20 crore per annum and Rs.4074.80 crore in the financial year 2018-19 .
Cabinet approves Umbrella scheme “Ocean Services, Technology, Observations, Resources Modelling and Science (O-SMART)” of Ministry of Earth Sciences
To help in addressing issues relating to Sustainable Development Goal-14: to conserve use of oceans, marine resources
Full form: Ocean Services, Technology, Observations, Resources Modelling and Science.The cost of the project is: Rs.1623 crore.

Cabinet Approvals With Foreign Countries As On August 29, 2018
Cabinet approves signing of MoU between India and Bulgaria in the field of tourism
To exchange information and data related to tourism and in Human Resource Development.To exchange visits of Tour Operators / Media /Opinion Makers for promotion of two way tourism.
Cabinet apprised of the MoU between India and Republic of Korea on the cooperation in the field of railways
This would strengthen and promote scientific and technical cooperation in the field of railways.
The 2 institutes would interact and share the latest developments and knowledge in the railway sector.
Cabinet apprised of the MoU between India and United Kingdom and Northern Irelandon the Cooperation in the fields of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries
This would increase the production and productivity of Indian livestock and fisheries.
Management of food and fodder and bulk transportation in deficit areas,
Development of high tech fodder tree species nurseries with fodder crops,
Cabinet approves signing of Air Services Agreement between India and Morocco
Multiple designation of Airlines by each party,
Allows designated airlines of either countries to establish offices in the territory of other country for the promotion and sale of air services.
Cabinet approves Trade Cooperation Framework between India and Rwanda
It will facilitate better trade and economic relations between the two countries.
Cabinet approves Memorandum of Understanding between India and USA in insurance regulatory sector, Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) and the Federal Insurance Office, USA.
Exchange of information and research assistance.
Mutual assistance including training activities.

NMCG approves projects worth Rs 150 crore for cleaning Ganga River and its banks
The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) has approved projects worth nearly Rs 150 crores to clean Ganga River and its banks in Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal under the Namami Gange programme.
These projects include Interception and Diversion (I&D) works where small rivers, rivulets and drains are intercepted before they empty into the main river and are diverted to Sewage Treatment Plants (STP), so that the water that finally drains into the main river is clean and totally devoid of any pollutants.

Union Cabinet approves Earth Sciences Ministry’s umbrella scheme ‘O-SMART’
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs gave its approval for implementation of an umbrella scheme ‘Ocean Services, Technology, Observations, Resources Modelling and Science (O-SMART)’.
The CCEA, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, approved the scheme for implementation during the period from 2017-18 to 2019-20 at an overall cost of Rs 1623 crore. The scheme covers a total of 16 sub-projects, which address ocean development activities such as services, technology, resources, observations and science.
The services provided under the O-SMART scheme will provide a number of economic benefits to the user communities in the coastal areas including the coastal states and ocean sectors such as shipping, fisheries and offshore industry.
Currently, five lakh fishermen community are receiving daily information through mobile phones about things like allocation of fish potential and local weather conditions in the coastal waters. The move will help in reducing the search time for fishermen, resulting in saving of fuel cost.

Maharashtra farmers to get funds to purchase farm equipment
The Maharashtra cabinet cleared a proposal for financing farmers for purchasing farm equipment with an initial corpus of Rs 50 crore.
The scheme, to be funded by the state government, is aimed at expediting the government's ambitious plan to double the income of farmers by 2022.

Assam government extends AFSPA for another six months
Despite BJP led Assam government claiming that law and order has improved drastically, the state government extended Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (AFSPA) for another six months.
Withdrawal of Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act is widely favoured in Assam following lifting of AFSPA from Meghalaya while its coverage area has been reduced in Arunachal Pradesh. AFSPA was clamped in Assam in 1990.
The official notification of the state government stated, ''As per powers conferred under Section 3 of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, the Governor of Assam has declared the entire State of Assam as “Distubed Area” upto 6 (six) months beyond August 28, 2018, unless withdrawn earlier. This was stated in an official notification issued by the Government of Assam''.

Government to launch National Mission on GeM in September
The National Mission on Government e Marketplace (GeM) will be launched on September to accelerate the adoption and use of GeM by major central ministries, state governments and their agencies.
The main aim of the mission is to promote inclusiveness, transparency and efficiency in public procurement and achieve cashless, contactless and paperless transaction.
The mission will be launched at the respective state headquarters by the Chief Ministers during the 6 weeks’ special drive beginning from September 6 to October 15, 2018.
It will cover important sectors and flagship programmes, the launch of IEC campaign along with training on usage of GeM for buyers and sellers, buyer registration drive to on board government agencies and vendor registration drive with a special focus on MSMEs.

Odisha signs MoU with US based agencies to eradicate malaria
In a bid to eradicate malaria from Odisha, the state government signed an MoU with two US-based agencies.
The two agencies - 'Malaria No More' and 'Malaria Elimination Trust' - would help the state government prepare a strategy on how to overcome the disease.
The two agencies will also help in preparing the public awareness campaign materials.
While 89 people had died of malaria in 2014, it was reduced to 80 in 2015, 77 in 2016, 24 in 2017 and two till July this year.

Odisha ranks 2nd in implementation of AMRUT scheme
Odisha has secured second place in the country in the implementation of the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) scheme in the state.
The state's position was determined by the National Level Rating Framework assessment state's Housing and Urban Development Secretary G Mathivathnan released.
The scheme has so far been implemented in 9 towns of the state.
The issue was discussed at a high power committee held under the chairmanship of Chief Secretary A.P. Padhi.

Government puts restrictions on export of bio-fuels
The government imposed restrictions on export of bio-fuels within days of putting similar conditions for its imports. A licence is required for both exports and imports of bio-fuels.
Bio-fuels include ethyl alcohol, petroleum oil and oils obtained from bituminous minerals, bio-diesel and mixtures. Earlier exports of these items were allowed without any restrictions.
India exported ethyl alcohol worth USD 276.35 million in 2017-18 as against USD 224 million in the previous fiscal. Similarly, exports of petroleum oil and oils obtained from bituminous minerals increased to USD 8 million in 2017-18 from USD 0.54 million in the previous fiscal.

Centre sanctions Rs 730 crore for Narmada project
The Centre has sanctioned Rs 730 crore for the Gujarat's Sardar Sarovar Dam project on the Narmada river for the current year and also committed soft loan of Rs 1,500 crore for the state's other irrigation projects.
Projected as Gujarat's lifeline, it aims to meet the water needs of a major portion of the state.
The canal network of the incomplete project, whose command area covers 17 districts, is spread over 27,000 square km. It will cost an estimated Rs 13,000 crore.

August 30

Indian Railways and GAIL (India) Limited sign an MoU for Use of Natural Gas in Railway Workshops and Production Units
In order to replace Industrial gases like Dissolved Acetylene, LPG, BMCG and Furnace Oil / High Speed Diesel (HSD) oil with environment friendly Natural Gas, Indian Railways has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with M/s GAIL (India) Limited, to provide infrastructure facilities for supply of Natural Gas to Indian Railways Workshops, Production Units and Depots at Rail Bhavan in presence of Shri Ashwani Lohani, Chairman, Railway Board & Shri B. C. Tripathi, CMD GAIL.
The MoU was signed by Shri Chetram, CAO/ Indian Railway Organization for Alternate Fuels (IROAF) on behalf of Indian Railways and Shri Gajendra Singh, Director (Marketing) from GAIL (India) Limited.
This MoU is a broad based, in principle agreement, between GAIL and Indian Railways for creation of infrastructure and supply of CNG/LNG/PNG for both industrial and domestic purposes. Out of 54 workshops and PUs, 23 workshops have been identified in the first phase for replacement of Industrial Gases with Natural Gas. In domestic segment, in Railway colony, Bhubaneswar, about 1100 houses have been provided with D-PNG supply.

Arunachal Assembly passes bill for creation of 3 new districts
India is a peninsular country with 29 states and seven union territories. Several new states, cities, and districts have been formed after its independence.
On the lines of creating new regions in the country, the Arunachal Pradesh Assembly passed a bill for the creation of three new districts - Pakke-Kesang, Lepa Rada and Shi Yomi - in the state.
Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein had introduced the Arunachal Pradesh Re-Organisation of Districts (Amendment) Bill 2018 Bill in the House. The Assembly passed the by bill by voice vote.
Arunachal Pradesh as of now has 22 districts.

India could reduce emissions by 2030
Individual city, region and company commitments in India could reduce emissions to 225-255 MtCO2e/year by 2030, more than the emissions generated by the country's industrial processes in 2014.
International cooperative initiatives could reduce emissions by eight to 13 percent (280-490 MtCO2e/year) in India more than what it will be achieved through current national policies.
By 2030, global greenhouse gas emissions could be 1.5 to 2.2 GtCO2e/year lower if existing sub-national commitments are fully implemented, compared to what would be achieved through current national policies.

MoU signed between Department of Biotechnology and International Energy Agency on Enhancing Innovation for the Clean Energy Transition.
The Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Ministry of Science and Technology, and the International Energy Agency (IEA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Enhancing Innovation for Clean Energy Transition.
The MoU was signed in the presence of Dr. Harsh Vardhan Minister, for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, Environment, Forest and Climate Change, by Secretary DBT, Dr. Renu Swarup and Executive Director of IEA, Dr. Fatih Birol.
The MoU seeks to deepen co-operation in support of clean energy innovations to accelerate the Research, Development, and Demonstration (RD&D) of clean energy technologies in India and will help support the generation of data for policymaking and improve knowledge of good policy practices for innovation in India and around the world.

HRD Ministry launches innovation cell for higher education institutions
The Ministry of Human Resource Development launched a cell to promote innovation in higher education institutions (HEIs) across the country. The aim of the cell, established at the All India Council of Technical Education (AICE) premises, is to introduce students to new ideas and inculcate innovative activities in their formative years.
India has already improved in the global innovation ranking to 57th place from 86th place five years ago.
The Minister also launched the Atal Ranking of Institutions on Innovation Achievements (ARIIA), and it will help assess the progress made by HEIs.
Network of Innovation Clubs (NIC)
Atal Ranking of Institutions on Innovation Achievements (ARIIA)
Smart India Hackathon (SIH) 2019
National Student Startup Policy (NSSP)

Centre to launch 'One District, One product' scheme in Odisha
To provide market link to farmers and make small industries successful in the state, Union Minister Giriraj Singh 'One District One Product' scheme will soon be launched in Odisha.
Singh, the Union Minister of State for MSME informed this while participating at the inaugural function of the SC-ST State Conclave cum Exhibition under National SC-ST Hub and inauguration of NSICs Dharmapada Bhawan.
The Union MSME secretary Arun Panda to conduct a survey of districts in Odisha on the potentials of starting new MSME units in aromatic, agro, marine food processing, organic food marketing, turmeric and ginger processing and other section.

National Small Industries Corporation Limited (NSIC), signs pacts to skill Odisha youth
The National Small Industries Corporation Limited (NSIC), under the Ministry of MSME, signed two Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) to enhance the skills of Odisha youths.
The first MoU was signed between the Rourkela Steel Plant and National Scheduled Tribe Finance Development Corporation. As per the agreement, a livelihood Business Incubator will be set up at Rourkela for transforming the tribal youth from "unemployed" to "self-employed" in different trades.
This will create more job opportunity for the youths, particularly in SC and ST communities in Odisha, Oram while praising the initiative by the NSIC.

Amarinder launches Punjab's e-properties module
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh launched PUDA 360, an e-properties module to facilitate online property transactions.
It is aimed at bringing greater efficiency and transparency in the functioning of Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA).
It would go a long way in providing seamless services to the people in property related matters.
The online process would also make e-auction more convenient and give a common platform to the promoters, builders, individuals for advertising their projects.

India opens Zokhawthar immigration check-post in Mizoram along Myanmar border
India has opened an immigration check-post in Mizoram along the border with Myanmar, a reflection of its growing closeness with the eastern neighbour.
The central government has designated Zokhawthar land check-post in Mizoram as an authorised immigration centre for entry into and exit from India with valid travel documents for all passengers to or from Myanmar.
The move came days after India and Myanmar opened the land border crossing at Zokhawthar-Rih. Zokhawthar is in Champhai district of Mizoram, while Rih is in Myanmar's Chin province.
Zokhawthar will be the second immigration check-post in Mizoram along the Myanmar border, after Zorinpui in Lawngtlai district, which was opened in September 2017.

Environment Minister Releases India’s National Redd+ Strategy
Reiterating India’s commitment to Paris Agreement on Climate Change, Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Dr. Harsh Vardhan has emphasised that the cooperation and involvement of the tribals, other forest dwelling people and the society as a whole, is crucial for the implementation of the REDD+ strategy. At the release of ‘National REDD+ Strategy India’ Dr. Vardhan also underlined the importance of new innovations and ideas.
The Minister stated that the well-being of our forests is essential for a healthy living environment in the country. The Minister further emphasised that REDD+ activities will help in sustainable livelihood of local communities and also in conservation of biodiversity.
DGF & Special Secretary highlighted that REDD+ strategy will help the country to fulfill its NDC commitments and will also contribute to the livelihood of the forest dependent population., Director General of Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE), Dr. Gairola, pointed out that a National Governing Council of REDD+ chaired by the Union Environment Minister at the national level and two technical committees, headed by DG, Forest Survey of India and DG, ICFRE are being established for supporting the REDD+ implementation in the country.

August 31

IWAI Makes India’s First Standardised Modern Ship Design for Ganga a Reality
Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) made public 13 standardised state-of-the-art ship designs suitable for large barge haulage on river Ganga (National Waterway-1).
This marks attaining of a critical milestone in the growth of the country’s Inland Water Transport (IWT) sector as it will help overcome the unique navigation challenges river Ganga throws due to its complex river morphology, hydraulics, acute bends, shifting channels, meanders and current. It will serve as an enabler for domestic shipbuilding industry working on inland vessels and open huge possibilities for cargo and passenger movement on National Waterway-1.
The Government is implementing Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP) for capacity augmentation of navigation on NW-1 (Varanasi-Haldia stretch) at a cost of Rs 5369.18 crore with the technical assistance and investment support of the World Bank.

‘Krishna Kutir’: Home for widows inaugurated in Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh
Union Minister for Women & Child Development, Maneka Gandhi and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath inaugurated the widows’ home ‘Krishna Kutir’ at Vrindavan.
The Union Minister appealed to all Chief Ministers to build Joint Shelter homes for orphaned children, helpless women and senior citizen so that they can live in a community atmosphere.
On the occasion Chief Minister of State Yogi Adityanath announced that his government will allocate land in Varanasi and Lucknow for construction of same kind of shelter homes for women and children.
AIR Correspondent reports, the Home for Widows, Krishna Kutir which was inaugurated has been constructed on 1.4 hectare of land at a cost of 57.48 Crores with a capacity of 1000 inmates.

India & Pakistan agree to undertake Indus water treaty tours to work on hydro projects
India and Pakistan have discussed the implementation of various hydroelectric projects under the Indus Waters Treaty during the 115th meeting of the India-Pakistan Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) in Lahore on August.
Both the countries agreed to undertake the Treaty-mandated tours of both the Indus Commissioners in the Indus basin on both sides. Deliberations were also held on further strengthening the role of the Permanent Indus Commission on matters falling under the Treaty purview.
The treaty was signed in 1960 and involves the Beas, Ravi, Sutlej, Indus, Chenab and Jhelum rivers. Brokered by the World Bank, the treaty gave the right to use waters of the first three rivers to India and of the other three to Pakistan. India has the right under the treaty to set up hydroelectric plants on the tributaries of the rivers flowing through its territory. Pakistan fears this might reduce the water flow into its territory. During the Lahore talks, the Indian side was led by P.K. Saxena, the Indian Commissioner for Indus Waters.

Madhya Pradesh: ''Mil -Banche'' programme to be organised in govt schools of state
In Madhya Pradesh, in a first of its kind initiative, “Mil -Banche”, an interactive programme between schools and society is being organized in all government schools of the state.
AIR correspondent reports that more than 80 thousand volunteers have expressed their desire to give gifts to the schools like books or any other gifts which will useful for students. This programme is being organized in the state for multi-dimensional development of children through language skill up-gradation, reading other books in addition to textbooks, developing interest in understanding and other co-curricular activities in government schools.
Over 2 lakh volunteers who have registered for the “Mil -Banche Madhya Pradesh” programme include 820 engineers, 843 doctors, 36 thousand employees of private sector, 19 thousand public representatives and around 45 thousand government employees and officers.

NSIC Integrated Marketing Development Centre for MSMEs inaugurated in Bhubaneshwar
National Small Industries Corporation (NSIC) and Dr. A. K. Panda, Secretary, MSME inaugurate NSIC - Integrated Marketing Development Centre named as "Dharampad Bhawan".
The Dharampad is the NSIC's largest office building in eastern India, Dharampad Bhawan, which is an Integrated Marketing Development Centre (IMDC). It is a 3-star GRIHA rated green building, having a built-up area of approx. 1,10,000 sq. ft. and is located in Mancheswar Industrial Area, Bhubaneswar.
Helping Odisha become a skilled manpower hub for textile sector: In line with Odisha's efforts to provide skilled manpower to leading textile clusters in India, an Apparel Training cum Incubation Centre for Textile Sector was also inaugurated within the IMDC building.
It will be imparting training to men and women as part of hand-holding support for creating employment & self-employment opportunities in Odisha.

For the first time, Census 2021 to collect data on OBCs
Census 2021 will for the first time collect data on Other Backward Classes (OBC).
The decennial exercise will involve 25 lakh trained enumerators and the use of maps/georeferencing at the time of house listing is also under consideration.
A senior Minister decision to count the OBCs in the next Census was to get a correct perspective on the social status in the country.
The 2011 caste data collected as part of Socio Economic Caste Census (SECC) is yet to be released by the Centre. As per the National Commission for Backward Classes, there are 2,479 entries in the Central list of the OBCs. To elaborate whether this was being done to extend reservation benefits to the OBCs in the future.
The 2011 Census collected information in 29 categories that included a separate column for Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribes. The OBCs would also be an option in the column in 2021.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh reviewed the functioning of the Office of Registrar General and the Census Commissioner.

Flood-hit Kerala to rope in KPMG as consultant for rebuilding state
The Kerala government has decided to appoint KPMG, one of the largest professional service companies in the world, as project consultant partner for rebuilding the state ravaged by massive floods. Tata Project Ltd was entrusted with the task of reconstructing roads, buildings and bridges destroyed in the rain fury at Pamba, the foothills of famous Lord Ayyappa shrine in Sabarimala.
Announcing the cabinet decisions in this regard at a press conference, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan informed the services of KPMG for projects related to revamping the state would be free of cost.
A high-level committee with Chief Secretary Tom Jose as chairman would be constituted to supervise the reconstruction work at Pamba and to ensure its completion on a time-bound basis in view of the annual Mandala-Makkaravillku pilgrimage season at Sabarimala shrine which begins in November.