Zero Budget Natural Farming project launched by Himachal Pradesh
The Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) project has been launched by the Himachal Pradesh government to promote organic farming. The project aims to promote organic farming in the state and to increase agriculture production and the income of farmers by the year 2022.
According to the state authority using pesticides and insecticides will be reduced under this project and more natural manure will be used. It was officially launched on 29th January 2018 by the Governor of Himachal Pradesh, Mr Acharya Devrat in presence of the Chief Minister of HP, Jai Ram Thakur.
The project was launched from the Palampur Agriculture University, which has dedicated 25-acre land to practice the zero budget farming model.
‘VINBAX’ – First Military Exercise between India and Vietnam
VINBAX is a six-day-long military exercise which will be held from January 29 to February 3, 2018.For the first time, the armies of India and Vietnam began the six days long military exercise on 29th January 2018 in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh.
The exercise ‘VINBAX’ reflects the growing defence ties between the two countries .India and Vietnam have been exploring ways to strengthen defence cooperation. The Prime Minister of Vietnam Nguyen Xuan Phuc was in India to participate in the Indian-ASEAN Commemorative Summit and was present in the Republic Day celebrations as well.
FACTFILE – VINBAX
It was a table top exercise to carry out training for Peacekeeping Operations under United Nations mandate to enable and train officers of Vietnam delegation for exercising efficient command of contingents in United Nations Peacekeeping Operations. Fifteen officers from each side participated in the event and gained insight through shared experiences.
An array of multi-disciplinary lectures on various United Nations related subjects were conducted by experts on the subject. These lectures were aimed at training all the participants with regards to functioning of Peacekeeping forces under UN mandate. A joint table top exercise was carried out by the participants which further facilitated in understanding the philosophy and principles of United Nations Peacekeeping with greater clarity.
The participants excelled during the table top exercise wherein they jointly derived solutions to various complicated scenarios under various chapters of UN mandate.
Government of India signs $250 Million Loan Agreement with ADB
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Indian Government have signed a 250 million dollar loan to finance the construction of over 6 thousand 200 kilometres all-weather rural roads in 5 states of India.
The basic objective of the programme is to improve rural connectivity, to facilitate safer and a more effective access to livelihood, to provide socio-economic opportunities for rural communities by improving about 12,000 km rural roads across these five states.
These 5 states include Assam, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal.This move has been taken under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY).
FACTFILE – Asian Development Bank (ADB)
- The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is a regional development bank established on 19 December 1966.
- Headquarter in Mandaluyong, Metro Manila, Philippines.
- The bank admits the members of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) and non-regional developed countries. From 31 members at its establishment, ADB now has 67 members, of which 48 are from within Asia and the Pacific and 19 outside.
- ADB is an official United Nations Observer.
- As of 31 December 2016, Japan and United States hold the largest proportion of shares at 15.607%. China holds 6.444%, India holds 6.331%, and Australia holds 5.786%.
Rs 7,023-cr increase in allocation for NE
The budgetary allocation for the ‘North Eastern Areas’ has witnessed an increase of Rs 7,023.19 crore. The allocation for the north-eastern region in the current financial year has been fixed at Rs 47,994.88 crore, marking a jump from Rs 40,971.69 crore allocated last fiscal.
The Ministry of DoNER has also witnessed higher allocations, as the grants-in-aid to the northeastern states have been fixed at Rs 1,638.27 crore, an increase from Rs 1,449.83 crore allocated in 2017-18. The total allocation for the ministry has been increased to Rs 3,060 crore, up from last financial year’s allocation of Rs 2,737 crore. The capital outlay for the ministry has also increased to Rs 700 crore from Rs 420 crore (2017-18).
However, the Finance Minister made no mention about the renewal of the North East Industrial Investment and Promotion Policy and other key areas of concern. Jaitley also made no mention about any specific railway projects under the Northeast Frontier Railway.
In his Budget speech though Jaitley mentioned about hike in allocation for the bamboo sector. “We removed bamboo grown outside forest areas from the definition of trees. Now, I propose to launch a Restructured National Bamboo Mission with an outlay of Rs 1,290 crore to promote bamboo sector in a holistic manner,” he said.
In the power sector, capital outlay for the northeastern region has been kept at Rs 267.45 crore, while a loan of Rs 90 crore has been earmarked for the northeastern areas. However, loans for power projects have been fixed at Rs 1,292 crore.
Meanwhile, the Centre’s focus on increasing air connectivity to the Northeast continued, with Jaitley announcing an allocation of Rs 1,014.09 crore towards revival of 50 airports and viability gap funding for improving aviation infrastructure in the area under the flagship regional connectivity scheme. This amount is nearly five times the allocation of Rs 200 crore as per the revised estimates of 2017-18.
Indian Navy launched INS Karanj
The Indian Navy launched the third Scorpene-class submarine INS Karanj at Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) in Mumbai, Maharashtra.The Indian Navy’s third state-of-the-art Scorpene class submarine, INS Karanj, was launched by Reena Lanba, wife of Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sunil Lanba.
It is named after the earlier Kalvari class INS Karanj, which was decommissioned in 2003. It was commissioned in Indian Navy on September 4, 1969 and was retired on August 1, 2003. Karanj had served the nation for 34 years and also took part in 1971 operations.
Karanj is the third of the six Scorpene-class submarines being built by MDL under the Project 75 programme. The other two are INS Kalvari and Khandari.
Khelo India School Games launched by PM Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the first Khelo India School Games (KISG) at the Indira Gandhi Stadium in New Delhi.The Khelo India School Games (KISG) are being held from 31st January to 8th February 2018 in New Delhi.
This week-long inaugural edition will be an Under-17 event where athletes have been invited to participate across 16 disciplines: Archery, Athletics, Badminton, Basketball, Boxing, Football, Gymnastics, Hockey, Judo, Kabaddi, Kho-Kho, Shooting, Swimming, Volleyball, Weightlifting, and Wrestling.199 gold medals, 199 silver medals and 275 bronze medals are at stake in the Khelo India School Games (KISG).
Axis Bank launched 4th edition of ‘Evolve’
Axis bank has launched the 4th edition of ‘Evolve’ in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu for its SME (Small and Medium Enterprises) customers. This edition of ‘Evolve’ is titled “Transform your Family Business into your dream company”.
Evolve is a knowledge enhancement series focused on the burgeoning Small and Medium Enterprises (SME). It was conceptualized in the year 2014. The basic objective of this initiative is to equip SMEs with new-age strategies, case-studies, operational know-how, regulatory and governmental affairs etc. that impact their business. All existing SME Customers of Axis Bank can attend any Evolve session across India.
India and World Bank sign $100 Million project to boost Economy of TN
The government and the World Bank signed a $100 million loan agreement to support producer organisations and enterprises, especially women entrepreneurs in Tamil Nadu.
This would promote rural enterprises, facilitate their access to finance, and create employment opportunities for youth, particularly women, in selected blocks of Tamil Nadu across 26 districts, directly benefitting over 400,000 people.
Global Investors’ Summit begins on 2nd Feb
With Prime Minister Narendra Modi set to inaugurate the Advantage Assam Global Investors’ Summit – the biggest extravaganza of its kind to be held in the North-east – at the Sarusajai Stadium complex. While the State’s investment potential will be showcased, the North-east as a whole stands to figure in the two-day deliberations, especially in the context of the much-publicized Act East Policy.
Aside the State industrial policy, the Assam government has also instituted some very attractive sectoral policies that include the Assam Start-Up Policy 2017, Information Technology and Electronic Policy-2017, Handloom Policy 2017-18, Sugar Policy-2018, Biotechnology Policy-2018, Tourism Policy-2017, Solar Policy-2018, and the scheme of reimbursement of tax paid under the Assam Goods and Services Tax Act-2017 by eligible units located in the State.
With the Assam government putting a lot of thrust on providing the ease of doing businesses to woo national and international investors, industry watchers believe that a platform for ensuring the best support towards the prospective and existing business community could create the much-needed industrial climate in the region.
“The Government of Assam understands the criticality of providing ease of doing businesses in order to gain attention from investors. The thrust on ease of doing business is in sync with the State’s vision of prosperity for all by employing technology, innovation, inclusivity and sustainability as key factors for development. To this effect, the government has instituted the Single Window Agency, a trade facilitator to coordinate with various relevant government departments, with an objective to increase the efficiency of the State’s and country’s economy through time and cost saving,” an official said.
This is expected to go a long way in creating a working environment conducive for the wholesome growth and sustainability of a competitive and thriving business culture in the State.
The maiden Global Investors’ Summit-2018 also seeks to project Assam as India’s expressway to the South-East Asian nations. For this, the State government is showcasing the opportunities offered by it in terms of export-oriented manufacturing and services to ASEAN.
GTAC is country’s No. 1, World’s second largest
The Guwahati Tea Auction Centre (GTAC) has created history in tea auction sales. As per data available, the GTAC has sold 186.14 million kg of tea during the year 2017, the highest among all auction centres in the country. The total value of tea that went under the hammer during the year was to the tune of Rs 2,607 crore.
The GTAC is now the second largest auction centre in the world for CTC teas, after Kenya, and India’s No. 1 auction centre in all categories of tea.
The GTAC also has a world record of selling the highest priced specialty tea in 2017. In November last year, the Donyi Polo Tea Estate of Arunachal Pradesh sold its Golden Needle grade tea at Rs 18,801 per kg, the highest price fetched under the hammer in the country.
In 2016, the auction centre had sold 139.2 million kg of tea. In 2017, the Calcutta auction centre sold 168.19 million kg of tea against 142.3 million kg in the previous year. Siliguri sold 131.41 million kg against 113.31 million kg in 2016.
The GTAC, set up in 1970, is making a lot of efforts in recent times to sell specialty tea through its auction platform.
World’s Longest Zip Line launched in UAE
The United Arab Emirates claimed a record with the opening of the world’s longest zip line. One of the smallest states in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has opened the world’s longest zip line, beating the previous record by 600m. The Jebel Jais Flight zip line was launched from 1,680m above sea level, at the peak of the Jebel Jais Mountain.
Jebel Jais is UAE’s highest peak and this new project has been conducted by the by the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA). For such an ambitious project, it’s no surprise that RAKTDA chose to team up with Toro Verde, whose adventure park in Puerto Rico holds the current world record for the longest zip line, measuring 2,530m in length.
The longest zip line in Ras al-Khaimah measures 1.76 miles (2.83km) in length which is more than three times the length of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa and the equivalent of 28 football pitches.
Government e-Marketplace 3.0 launched
GeM (Government e Marketplace) 3.0, is an upgraded version of the National Procurement Portal of India.GeM 3.0 has undergone a digital transformation with some superior technologies. This would provide a common platform to bring together many sellers and service providers for products and services across the country.
The earlier version GeM 2.0 was launched a pilot project in August 2016 by all the central government ministries and departments for online purchases of goods and services. Till now, 72,941 sellers and service providers have registered with the portal to sell 4,54,853 products and services.
FACTFILE – Government e-Marketplace (GeM)
Introduction: Public procurement forms a very important part of Government activity and reform in Public Procurement is one of the top priorities of the present Government. Government e-Marketplace (GeM) is a very bold step of the Government with the aim to transform the way in which procurement of goods and services is done by the Government Ministries/Departments, PSUs, autonomous bodies etc.
Background: GeM owes its genesis to the recommendations of two Groups of Secretaries made to the Hon’ble PM in January 2016. They recommended setting up of a dedicated e-market for different goods & services procured/sold by Government/PSUs besides reforming DGS&D. Subsequently, the Hon’ble FM in his Budget speech for FY 2016-17, announced setting up of a technology driven platform to facilitate procurement of goods and services by various Ministries and agencies of the Government.
DGS&D with technical support of NeGD (MeitY) has developed GeM portal for procurement of both Products & Services. The portal was launched on 9th August 2016 by the Hon’ble Commerce & Industry Minister. Procurement on GeM has been authorized by GFR by adding Rule 141A (DoE OM dated 3rd May 2016). Presently more than 7400 products in about 150 product categories and hiring of transport service are available on GeM POC portal. Transactions for more than Rs 140 Crore have already been processed through GeM.
GeM is a completely paperless, cashless and system driven e-market place that enables procurement of common use goods and services with minimal human interface.
Benefits of GeM to the Government, Sellers and the Indian industry and economy
- Transparency: GeM eliminates human interface in vendor registration, order placement and payment processing, to a great extent. Being an open platform, GeM offers no entry barriers to bonafide suppliers who wish to do business with the Government. At every step, SMS and e-Mail notifications are sent to both buyer, his/her head of organization, paying authorities as well as sellers. Online, cashless and time bound payment on GeM is facilitated through integration with PFMS and State Bank Multi Option System (SBMOPS); web-services integration is being extended to payment systems of Railways, Defence, major PSUs and State Governments. Seamless processes and online time-bound payment, which is also mandated by the OM issued by Department of Expenditure, has given confidence to the vendors and reduced their ‘administrative’ cost involved in pursuing officers for timely payment.
- Efficiency: Direct purchase on GeM can be done in a matter of minutes and the entire process in online, end to end integrated and with online tools for assessing price reasonability. For procurements of higher value, the bidding/RA facility on GeM is among the most transparent and efficient, in comparison to e-procurement systems in vogue within the Government sector. For creating a bid/RA, the buyer does not need to create his/her own technical specifications as they have been standardized on GeM. The bid/RA can be created in a matter of minutes and finalized within a minimum of 7 days.The bid/RA is notified via e-mail and SMS to all the eligible suppliers; new suppliers are also notified once they get themselves registered online on GeM and are determined as ‘eligible’ by the system. GeM bidding/RA therefore ensures competition, fair play, speed & efficiency and leads to proper price discovery. The reasonableness of the rates can also be confirmed through online comparison with market price on leading e-Commerce portals. Very soon, GeM will also start getting feeds from various other public procurement portals in order to ensure that the same item has not been procured at a lesser rate by any other Government agency, from the same or a different vendor.The reasonability of price would be further strengthened by way of integration with GSTN and ICEGATE that will enable the buyer to ascertain the price of an item when it exited the factory gate or when it got imported into the country. These would make GeM an extremely powerful tool in the hands of Government organizations to plan and procure.
- Secure and safe: GeM is a completely secure platform and all the documents on GeM are e-Signed at various stages by the buyers and sellers. The antecedents of the suppliers are verified online and automatically through MCA21, Aadhar and PAN databases. In addition, SEBI empaneled credit rating agencies are also being used for conducting third-party assessment of suppliers. This would further strengthen due diligence about the veracity of suppliers wanting to do business on GeM.For high value bids/RA on GeM, an e-Bank Guarantee is also being introduced.
GeM is a far better system than the existing one which relies more on financial instruments (EMD in case of tenders for large procurements only) to guarantee good conduct by the suppliers. In the existing system, there is zero check on the antecedents of the suppliers for small value procurements (uptoRs 1 lakh) whose cumulative value is huge across the Government organizations. GeM does a 100% online verification of all vendors irrespective of the value of procurement.
- Potential to support Make in India: On GeM, the filters for selecting goods which are Preferential Market Access (PMA) compliant and those manufactured by Small Scale Industries(SSI), enables the Government buyers to procure Make in India and SSI goods very easily. Easily accessible MIS also enables the administrators and policy makers to easily and effectively enforce the Government regulations on PMA and SSI sourcing. After the launch of GeM it has been noticed that several leading computer manufacturers have placed PMA compliant products on GeM.
- Savings to the Government: The transparency, efficiency and ease of use of the GeM portal has resulted in a substantial reduction in prices on GeM, in comparison to the tender, Rate Contract and direct purchase rates. The average prices on GeM are lower by atleast 15-20%, and in some cases even upto 56%. GeM is also doing Demand Aggregation for items that are to be procured by various Central/State Government Departments. Demand Aggregation is expected to further drive the prices south, by way of standardization of specifications and economy of scale. Demand aggregation for most of the common use goods and services is estimated to result in annual savings to the tune ofRs 40,000 Crore per annum. If pursued to its logical conclusion, GeM would eventually emerge as the National Public Procurement Portal, keeping in tune with the Global best practices; most of the OECD countries, like USA, South Korea, UK, Singapore etc, have a single NPPP and as a result annual savings of billions of dollars are made in public procurement, besides giving a fillip to the domestic industry.
Assam Valley Literary Award to Sananta Tanti, Yeshe Dorjee Thongchi and Dr Rita Chowdhury
Williamson Magor Education Trust, the sponsor of the Assam Valley Literary Award, has announced the names of three luminaries of Assamese literature for the 2017 Assam Valley Literary Award. The winners of the 2017 award, which is the 28th edition of the prestigious award, are poet Sananta Tanti and novelists Yeshe Dorjee Thongchi and Dr Rita Chowdhury.
Born in an Oriya-speaking tea garden family in Kalinagar Tea Estate in Karimganj district in 1952, Sananta Tanti, during his youth was exposed to Assamese literature with which he instantly fell in love. He has 13 collections of poems to his credit, all highly acclaimed by readers and critics alike.
He has won several awards, including Mrinalini Devi Goswami Award, Bir Birsa Munda Award, Krantikal Samman, Nizara Kavi Sailadhar Rajkhowa Award and Sirish OIL Literary Award.
Born in 1952 at Jigaon of West Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh, Yeshe Dorje Thongsi was a civil servant. He was inducted to the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) in 1992 and retired as the Chief Information Commissioner of Arunachal Pradesh in 2015. Thongchi’s mother tongue is a dialect called Sherdukpen spoken by few thousand people. He, however, started writing in Assamese language which was the medium of instruction in schools of the North East Frontier Agency (NEFA) as the state was known in those days. He won Sahitya Akademi Award in 2005 for his novel Mouna Onth Mukhar Hriday. His other prominent works include novels such as Sonam, Lingjhik, Mishing and Moi Akou Janam Lom. He has also been conferred a number of literary awards and recognitions.
Born in 1960, Dr Rita Chowdhury is an established poet, novelist and Sahitya Akademi Award recipient. She has been working as an associate professor in Cotton College, Guwahati in political science department since 2001. She is currently the director of National Book Trust, India. A prolific writer, Dr Chowdhury has an immense body of work and has to her credit several novels, including Abirata Jatra, Tirthabhumi, Jala Padma, Deo Langkhui and Makam. She has been awarded with a number of literary awards and recognitions, major among them being Kalaguru Bishnu Prasad Rabha Award, Sahitya Akademi Award and Lekhika Samaroh Sahitya Bota.