• Every government hospital serves an estimated 61000 people in India with one bed for every 1833 people.
• In undivided Andhra Pradesh, every government hospital serves over 3 lakh patients while in Bihar; there is only one bed for every 8800 people.
• Every government allopathic doctor serves a population of over 11000 people, with Bihar and Maharashtra having the worst ratios.
• India now has cumulatively 9.4 lakh allopathic doctors, 1.54 lakh dental surgeons and 7.37 lakh AYUSH doctors of who more than half are Ayurvedic doctors.
• India’s 400 medical colleges admit an estimated 47000 students annually.
• As per NHP 2015 data, there will be 19 percent increase in cancer among men by 2020 with mouth cancer registering the highest spike and a 23 percent increase among women with gall bladder cancer showing the sharpest increase.
• The cancer incidence in men will rise from the current 522164 to 622203 in 2020.
• Despite the countrywide ban on gutkha, mouth cancer will register a 51 percent jump.
• There will be a 48 percent increase in prostate cancer, 31 percent increase in liver cancer and 22 percent increase in lung cancer.
Spread of Communicable diseases in India as per NHP 2015
• Deaths from most communicable diseases have been falling steadily in India. Despite recording over 10 lakh cases, deaths from malaria are officially down to just over 500 annually.
• Odisha accounted for over one in three cases of malaria in 2014.
• The number of recorded chikungunya cases has fallen since a 2010 outbreak, but Maharashtra accounts for nearly half of all cases.
• Just over 40000 cases of dengue were officially reported in 2014 and 131 deaths.
• While the number of cases of Acute Diarrhoeal Disease has risen every year to 1.16 crore in 2014, mortality from the disease has been steadily declining.
• However, 2014 saw a sharp spike in cases and deaths due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome, a disease concentrated in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Assam, and West Bengal.
• Japanese Encephalitis concentrated in Assam and Uttar Pradesh also rose last year.
• Pulmonary tuberculosis remains the biggest communicable disease killer in India, accounting for over 63000 deaths in 2014.
About National Health Profile
• The National Health Profile is released every year by CBHI since its launch in 2005.
• It helps in understanding the goals, our strengths and weaknesses and it is also an important means to strategize. Good compiled data enables the policymakers to make evidence-based policies.
• The data is not only important for understanding the health indicators of the country, but it also provides an opportunity to monitor the situation.
• It highlights substantial health information under 6 indicators viz. demographic, socio-economic, health finance and health status indicators, comprehensive information on health infrastructure and human resources in health in India.
Union Cabinet approved setting up of Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre
The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 22 September 2015 gave its green signal for setting up of Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre (ISLRTC).
It will be a national level institute with an aim to provide increased accessibility in education, workplace and other activities of life to 5 million hearing-impaired people.
ISLRTC will be set up as a Society under the Societies Registration Act, 1860. It will function under the umbrella of the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities of the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
Initially, the institute will be located at the Institute for Physically Handicapped, New Delhi.
Structure of ISLRTC
The Centre will be a society consisting of a President. There will be 12 members in the General Council. The Executive Council will have a chairperson and nine members. The institute will also include some ex-officio and others as experts from national-level societies of Universities or Academic Institutions for deaf people.
Focus area of ISLRTC
The institute will concentrate on the development of sign language interpreters, research and development and new technology.
MoU for Swavlamban Health Insurance Scheme for Disabled Persons Signed
The Trust Fund for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, under the Department of Empowerment of People with Disabilities (DEPwD), Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MOSJ&E), signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the New India Assurance Company Limited on 21 September 2015.
The MoU aims at providing an affordable health insurance, Swavlamban Health Insurance Scheme, for the Persons with Disabilities (PwDs). It also aims to improve the general health condition & quality of life of persons with disabilities.
Main features of the Scheme
• The insurance scheme will provide comprehensive cover to the PwD beneficiary, spouse and two children.
• The insurance will have a single premium across age band.
• It can be availed by the beneficiary aged between 18 years and 65 years with family income of less than 300000 rupees per annum.
• The scheme will also provide health insurance cover of up to 200000 rupees per annum as family floater.
Under the MoU, the New India Assurance Company Limited will build a network of hospitals to provide cashless treatment to the insured.
The scheme will be implemented through active participation of the National Institutes and Composite Regional Centres for Persons with Disabilities (CRC’s) under the DEPwD, MOSJ&E.
Union Government released Draft National Encryption Policy
The Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY) in the fourth week of September 2015 released the Draft National Encryption Policy.
The purpose of the policy is to encourage use of encryption technologies and products among governmental agencies, businesses and citizens for more secure communications and financial transactions in the cyber space.
The draft policy was framed under Section 84A and Section 69 of Information Technology Act, 2000 that deals with prescribing modes or methods of encryption and decryption respectively.
Highlights of Draft National Encryption Policy
• Its vision is to enable information security environment and secure transactions in Cyber Space for individuals, businesses, Government including nationally critical information systems and networks.
• Its objectives are synchronizing with the emerging global digital economy, encouraging use of encryption for ensuring the security and confidentiality of data and encouraging wider usage of Digital Signature by all entities including government.
• It is applicable to all the Central and State Government Departments, statutory organizations, executive bodies, business and commercial establishments, Public Sector Undertakings, academic institutions, government personnel and citizens.
• It encourages use of encryption for storage and communication among the agencies and individuals covered under it.
• Under the policy, except the central and state government departments, all the organizations and citizens should store plain text information for 90 days from the date of transaction and produce the same to law enforcement agencies as and when demanded.
• However, mass use encryption products, social media applications such as facebook, twitter, etc , and SSL/TLS encryption products being used in Internet-banking and payment gateways, e-commerce and password based transactions were exempted from it purview.
• All vendors of encryption products shall register their products with the designated agency of the Government.
• The Government will notify the list of registered encryption products from time to time, without taking responsibility for security claims made by the vendors.
• Research and Development programs will be initiated for the development of indigenous algorithms and manufacture of indigenous products for Encryption, hashing and other cryptographic functions.
• A Technical Advisory Committee will monitor the technology development in the area of Cryptography to make appropriate recommendations on all aspects of Encryption policies and technologies.
Pradhan Mantri Khanij Kshetra Kalyan Yojana (PMKKKY) launched by Union Government
To transform the lives of people living in the areas which are affected directly or indirectly by mining, the Union Government on 17 September 2015 launched the Pradhan Mantri Khanij Kshetra Kalyan Yojana (PMKKKY).
The programme is meant for the welfare of areas and people affected by mining related operations, using the funds generated by the District Mineral Foundations (DMFs).
DMFs were created under the Mines and Minerals (Development & Regulation) Amendment Act, 2015 in all the districts of the country affected by mining related operations.
The objective of PMKKKY
• To implement various developmental and welfare projects/programs in mining affected areas that complement the existing ongoing schemes/projects of State and Central Government
• To minimize/mitigate the adverse impacts, during and after mining, on the environment, health and socio-economics of people in mining districts
• To ensure long-term sustainable livelihoods for the affected people in mining areas by including all aspects of living, to ensure substantial improvement in the quality of life. The aspects include
a) High priority areas like drinking water supply, health care, sanitation, education, skill development, women and child care, welfare of aged and disabled people, skill development and environment conservation will get at least 60 % share of the funds.
b) For creating a supportive and conducive living environment, balance funds will be spent on making roads, bridges, railways, waterways projects, irrigation and alternative energy sources.
Role of DMFs in PMKKKY implementation
As per the Union Government notification on 17 September 2015, the role of DMFs would be implementing the mission through the funds generated from the contributions made by miners. In this regard, the notice said
a) in case of all mining leases executed before 12 January, 2015 (the date of coming into force of the Amendment Act) miners will have to contribute an amount equal to 30% of the royalty payable by them to the DMFs; and
b) where mining leases are granted after 12 January 2015, the rate of contribution would be 10% of the royalty payable.
For this purpose, the Union Government has issued a directive to the State Governments, under Section 20A of the MMDR Act, 1957, laying down the guidelines for implementation of PMKKKY and directing the States to incorporate the same in the rules framed by them for the DMFs.
The DMFs have also been directed to maintain the utmost transparency in their functioning and provide periodic reports on the various projects and schemes taken up by them.
Union Finance Ministry launched NXT DIGITAL-Headend In The Sky platform
The Union Minister of Finance Arun Jaitley on 15 September 2015 launched the Headend In The Sky (HITS) digital platform initiative, under the brand name NXT DIGITAL promoted by Hinduja Group.
The platform will provide viewers access to over 500 television channels of their choice be it international, national, regional and local; besides a host of other services like e-applications and TV everywhere.
Customers in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Punjab and Karnataka will now have greater access to channels of their choice with other states soon joining in. The customers will now pay for what they want to see and it will also enable increase in revenues to the government due to full transparency.
The Hinduja-Hits Network will serve Multi System Operators (MSOs) as well as Local Cable Operators (LCOs) and aims to tap the transition from analogue to digital mode of cable TV services under the government's Digital India initiative and Make In India mission.
About NXT DIGITAL
• The NXT DIGITAL Broadcast Centre is a state-of-the-art next-generation MPEG-4 facility that has been designed and purpose-built to provide a variety of services to the cable distribution fraternity and their customers all across India.
• The technology is future-proof and would offer enhanced television experiences for the subscriber whilst allowing the cable fraternity to manage their networks effortlessly using new-age cloud solutions.
• Through NXT DIGITAL’s uniquely designed and assembled COPE (Cable Operators Premises Equipment), Digitalizing of Indian cities and the space of broadcast distribution will help India register quantum growth.
Union Government approved the purchase of 10 Heron TP drones from Israel
The Union Government on 11 September 2015 approved the purchase of 10 Heron TP drones from Israel. This 400 million US dollars proposal for buying armed missile-armed drones from Israel will enhance India's cross-border military strike capability.
These drones will be operated by the Indian Air Force (IAF), which has a fleet of reconnaissance drones. IAF also has a fleet of Harpy UAVs from Israel, which are self-destructing systems primarily tasked with taking out enemy radar positions.
The armed forces had earlier proposed for buying the same armed drones in 2012. But that proposal did not get political backing during the UPA-2 regime. Later, the project was revived and fast tracked by the Modi government in 2015 beginning.
About Heron drones
• The Heron drone, developed by Israel Aerospace Industries, is capable for flying for 52 hours of continuous flight at medium altitude levels.
• Israel's armed Heron drones are similar to the Predator unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that are capable of reconnaissance, combat and support roles.
• Heron drones can carry a payload of over 1000 kg.
• They are equipped with air-to-ground missiles that detect, track and take down targets deep in enemy territory.
India currently operates a fleet of unarmed Heron and Searcher UAVs for surveillance and intelligence gathering.
The Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) on 9 September 2015 launched Niryat Bandhu @ Your Desktop, an online certificate programme in export-import business under the Niryat Bandhu Scheme of Department of Commerce.
This programme will serve the twin objective of Digital India and Skill India. The DGFT collaborated with Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT) to launch this innovative online programme for exporters and entrepreneurs.
The Online registration for the programme can be done from 10 September 2015 onwards at http://niryatbandhu.iift.ac.in/home.asp.
Highlights of the Niryat Bandhu @ Your Desktop
• This online programme will enable them to learn the essentials of export import business from the comfort of their homes, through direct live transmission of the lessons on their desktops.
• The sessions will be followed up by online question answer sessions where they can address their concerns with reputed experts from IIFT.
• A digital resource library shall also be available to them online.
• The first course with a capacity of 60 participants will begin from the first week of October 2015. The course comprises 20 sessions of 2 hours each between 6 pm to 8 pm.
• It is planned to have a similar programme every month for a batch of 60 participants. On successful completion of the programme, the participants will be awarded a certificate jointly by the DGFT and IIFT.
Niryat Bandhu Scheme
The Niryat Bandhu Scheme was announced as part of Foreign Trade Policy 2009-14 on 13 October, 2011 to focus on mentoring the first generation entrepreneurs in the field of international trade. While an overall allocation of 23.23 crore rupees was made for Plan period (2012-17), an amount of 2 crore rupees was allocated for the financial year 2014-15.
The objective of the Niryat Bandhu Scheme is to reach out to the potential exporters and mentor them through orientation programmes, counselling sessions and individual facilitation for being able to get into international trade and boost exports from India.
More than 18000 people were given orientation on export-import business under the Scheme during the financial year 2014-15.
Union Cabinet approved National Offshore Wind Energy Policy 2015
The Union Cabinet on 9 September 2015 gave its approval for the maiden National Offshore Wind Energy Policy.
The focus of the policy is to harness offshore wind energy potential in India’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The EEZ is an area up to 200 nautical miles from the coast.
Features of National Offshore Wind Energy Policy
• Developing offshore wind energy potential in India’s EEZ
• To promote investment in the Energy Infrastructure.
• To Reduce Carbon Emissions.
• To Encourage Indigenization of the Offshore Wind Energy Technology.
• To Promote Research and Development in the Offshore Wind Energy Sector.
• To Create Skilled Manpower and Employment in a new industry
The Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE) is the nodal ministry for the implementation of the policy.
The National Institute of Wind Energy (NIWE) is the nodal agency for execution of offshore wind energy projects.
The policy will be applicable throughout the country depending upon offshore wind potential availability.
Significance of the policy
India has high offshore wind energy potential along the coastline of 7600 km. This maiden policy is the right direction to undertake comprehensive measures for the development of this sector.
The policy is also multi-faceted in the sense that it seeks to achieve energy security, development of indigenous technologies in the offshore wind energy sector and achieving environment sustainability.
The policy will also help in creating employment opportunities in coastal states like Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Karnataka where the offshore wind potential is high.
India has achieved significant success in the onshore wind power development, with over 23 GW of wind energy capacity already installed and generating power.
Union Cabinet approved constitution of 21st Law Commission of India
The Union Cabinet on 9 September 2015 gave its approval for the Constitution of the 21st Law Commission of India.
The formation of the commission was necessitated as the term of the 20th law commission ended on 31 August 2015. It was headed by Justice Ajit Prakash Shah.
The 21st law commission will be functional for a period of three years between 1 September 2015 and 31 August 2018 and will consist of
A full-time Chairperson;
Four full-time Members (including a Member-Secretary)
Secretary, Department of Legal Affairs as ex-officio member
Secretary, Legislative Department as ex-officio member
Not more than five part-time Members.
Functions of Law Commission of India
• Undertaking research in law and review of existing laws in India for making reforms therein and enacting new legislations on a reference made to it by the Central Government or suo-motu.
• Undertaking studies and research for bringing reforms in the justice delivery systems for elimination of delay in procedures, speedy disposal of cases, reduction in cost of litigation etc
• Identification of laws which are no longer relevant and recommending for the repeal of obsolete and unnecessary enactments
• Suggesting enactment of new legislations as may be necessary to implement the Directive Principles and to attain the objectives set out in the Preamble of the Constitution
• Considering and conveying to the Government its views on any subject relating to law and judicial administration that may be specifically referred to it by the Government through Ministry of Law and Justice (Department of Legal Affairs)
• Considering the requests for providing research to any foreign countries as may be referred to it by the Government through Ministry of Law & Justice (Department of Legal Affairs)
• Preparing and submitting to the Central Government, from time to time, reports on all issues, matters, studies and research undertaken by it and recommending in such reports for effective measures to be taken by the Union or any State; and
• Performing such other functions as may be assigned to it by the Central Government from time to time.
About Law Commission of India
• It is a non-statutory body constituted by the Government of lndia from time to time.
• It was originally constituted in 1955 and is re-constituted every three years.
• The various Law Commissions have been able to make important contribution towards the progressive development and codification of laws of the country.
• Law Commissions have so far submitted 262 reports.
Union Government cancelled FCRA registration of NGO Greenpeace
Union Government cancelled the registration of Greenpeace India under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), 2010. This move of the government will make the NGO ineligible to receive funds from abroad, which means it may force it to close down its operations in India.
In an affidavit submitted to Delhi High Court on 3 September 2015, the Union Home Ministry said Greenpeace violated FCRA by mixing its foreign and domestic contributions.
Meanwhile, the NGO that has accused the Government of trying to shut it down and termed the action as an attempt to silence campaigns and said it will not be deterred.
The high court will hear Greenpeace plea challenging the suspension of its licence under FCRA apart from freezing of its bank accounts on 4 September 2015.
Greenpeace’s FCRA registration was suspended on 9 April 2015 for allegedly violating norms by opening five accounts to use foreign donations without informing the authorities.
The court had on 27 May 2015 allowed it to use two of its accounts for receiving and utilising domestic donations for day-to-day functioning.
Union Government launched Indian Wind Resource Atlas as an online GIS tool
Union Government on 2 September 2015 launched the Indian Wind Resource Atlas at 100 metre level. The Atlas will help policy makers at Centre and State Governments to deal with issues related to tariff fixation, transmission, grade frequency, etc.
It will also help in providing better infrastructure for the investors. The Indian Wind Atlas is an important online GIS (Geographic Information System) tool for identification of the regional and local wind energy potential in India.
It contains average annual values of Wind Speed, Wind Power Density and Capacity Utilization Factor (CUF) calculated for an average 2 MW turbine at 100 m. In the atlas the resultant layers are at very high resolution and joint frequency tables have been derived for the entire country at 500 m resolution.
Also, high resolution Re-analysis data set has been used for the study- NCEP/CFSR which enhanced the accuracy of the mapping. The Atlas uses dynamic meso-micro coupled WRF modelling technique.
Making of the Wind Energy Sector & Resource Atlas
• The Atlas making included usage of scientific combination of satellite and one of the world’s largest number of measured (1300 locations ) ground data.
• Under the direction of Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), National Institute of Wind Energy created an online GIS based wind resource atlas at with scientific rigor and based on authentic latest available data-sets of wind as well as land geographically spread across India.
• NIWE had already performed the potential estimation study corroborating meso-scale derived wind maps and micro-scale measurements and released Indian Wind Atlas at 50m and indicative values at 80m hub heights with 5km resolution in April 2010 in collaboration with RISO-DTU, Denmark.
• The potential assessment presently has been carried out at a very high (10times finer than 5km) resolution of 500m, using the advanced meso-micro coupled numerical wind flow model and with the corroboration of almost 1300 actual measurements spread all over India.
• The land information has been taken through land availability estimation using authentic data sources of Land Use Land Cover (LULC) in GIS format with detailed information available from Bhuvan Atlas.
India partnered with UN's Better Than Cash Alliance to speed up PMJDY Programme
Indian Government on 1 September 2015 partnered with the United Nations’ (UN) Better Than Cash Alliance to share success stories from the financial inclusion programme Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana (PMJDY).
By joining the Better Than Cash Alliance, the Indian Government will have a research, technical, and policy partner as it continues to create a digital financial economy.
The partnership is an extension of Indian Government’s commitment to reduce cash in its economy. Digital financial services lower the cost of providing financial services and make it more convenient for poor people to access their accounts.
The Better Than Cash Alliance is made up of governments, companies and international organizations.
Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana (PMJDY)
PMJDY was launched in 2014 with a goal of covering every household with a bank account in less than five months’ time. The programme focuses on citizens excluded from the formal financial sector, including women, small farmers, and labourers.
PMJDY is a National Mission on Financial Inclusion encompassing an integrated approach to bring about comprehensive financial inclusion of all the households in the country.
Under PMJDY in one year, 175 million new accounts have been opened, with deposits totaling more than 3.4 billion US dollars (223 billion Rupees).
To ensure that these accounts are actively used, the Government is delivering financial products, such as credit for economic activity, as well as remittance facilities, insurance, and pension directly into the accounts.
There have been many success stories since the launch of PMJDY. For example, Canara Bank opened 12 million accounts and delivered financial literacy and educational tools to poor people in rural areas.
Similarly, Union Bank of India has also prioritized financial inclusion in rural areas, with a particular focus on women by providing weekly education trainings in villages and garment factories.
The Better Than Cash Alliance is a partnership of governments, companies, and international organizations that accelerates the transition from cash to digital payments in order to reduce poverty and drive inclusive growth.
The Better Than Cash Alliance was launched in September 2012 in response to public and private sector demand for more strategic advocacy, research and guidance on digitizing these cash payments.
The UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) serves as the Secretariat of the alliance.
West Central Railway Zone became first zone to eliminate all Unmanned Level Crossings
The West Central Railway on 31 August 2015 became the first railway zone in the country to eliminate all Unmanned Level Crossings (ULCs). The headquarters of the zone is located in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh.
Out of total 118 unmanned level crossings falling in the zone as on 1 April 2014, 80 were eliminated in the financial year 2014-15 and the remaining 38 were eliminated by 31 August 2015.
The safety initiative was achieved by constructing 33 Limited Height Sub Ways (LHs) and manning of 30 level crossings.
In the 2015-16 railway budget, the government proposed to construct 970 Road Over Bridges (ROBs) and Road Under Bridges (RUBs) and other safety related works to eliminate 3438 level crossings across the country at an estimated cost of 6581 crore rupees.
Law Commission of India submitted its report on Death Penalty
The Law Commission of India on 31 August 2015 submitted its report on the Death penalty to the Union Government. The report was submitted by Chairman of Law commission Justice (retd) AP Shah.
In its 272-page draft report, the commission favoured speedy abolition of the death penalty from the statute books of India not serve the penological goal of deterrence any more than life imprisonment.
However, the capital punishment should not be abolished in cases where the accused is convicted of involvement in a terror case or waging war against the nation.
It further said that, the administration of death penalty, even within the restrictive environment of ‘rarest of rare doctraine’ was constitutionally unsustainable. Continued administration of death penalty raises constitutional questions related to the miscarriage of justice, errors, as well as the plight of the poor in the criminal justice system.
Main Highlights of the report
• The commission questioned the mercy petition system provided for under the Constitution. The exercise of mercy powers under Articles 72 and 161 of Indian Constitution have failed in acting as the final safeguard against miscarriage of justice in the imposition of the death sentence.
• The report stated that from 26 January 1950 till date, successive Presidents have accepted 306 mercy petitions and rejected 131.
• In focusing on death penalty, as the ultimate measure of justice to victims, the restorative and rehabilitative aspects of justice are lost sight of. Reliance on the death penalty diverts attention from other problems ailing the criminal justice system such as poor investigation and crime prevention.
• It is essential that the state establish effective compensation schemes to rehabilitate victims of crime. At the same time it is also essential that courts use the power granted to them under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 to grant appropriate compensation to victims in suitable cases.
• The voices of victims and witnesses are often silenced by threats and other coercive techniques employed by powerful accused persons. Hence, it is essential that a witness protection scheme shall also be established.
• The need for police reforms for better and more effective investigation and prosecution has also been universally felt for some time now and measures regarding the same need to be taken on a priority basis.
The Law Commission of India received a reference from the Supreme Court in Santosh Kumar Satishbhushan Bariyar verses Maharashtra (2009) and Shankar Kisanrao Khade verses Maharashtra (2013) to study the issue of the death penalty in India.
In recognition of the fact that the death penalty is an issue of a very sensitive nature, the Commission decided to undertake an extensive study on the issue. In May 2014, the Commission invited public comments on the subject by issuing a consultation paper.
The Commission also held a one-day Consultation on The Death Penalty in India on 11 July 2015 in New Delhi. Thereafter, upon extensive deliberations, discussions and in-depth study, the Commission gave shape prepared its report.
Union Government approved Smart National Common Mobility Card model for seamless travel across India
The Union Ministry of Urban Development on 1 September 2015 gave approval for Smart National Common Mobility Card (NCMC) model for seamless travel across India.
The model will enable commuters to travel by different metros and other transport systems across the country besides retail shopping and purchases.
Features of Smart National Common Mobility Card (NCMC)
• It is based on EMV Open Loop Card system with stored value model.
• It meets travel needs based on stored value of money and can be used for travelling by any means of transport and also enables account based retail applications.
• The model is an improved version of nationwide common card prevalent in Singapore.
• The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) will be involved in indigenous development and management of Clearing and Settlement of payments, Simulating Cards, Terminals and network, a support base of vendors for providing certified tools, cards, terminals and other services.
• The Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) will develop the standards and hardware for Metro gates/validators along with related ecosystems.
• Funding of 4.47 crore rupees approved by the ministry for developing the model.
Union Government launched SAHAJ scheme for online release of new LPG connections
Union Government on 30 August 2015 launched a scheme named SAHAJ for online release of new LPG connections for the consumers. The scheme launched by Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan can be availed through the portal mylpg.in.
At present, the scheme will be available in 13 cities of the country, namely Delhi, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Bhopal, Bhubaneshwar, Chandigarh, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mumbai, Patna and Pune. It will be launched pan-India within the next few days.
SAHAJ facility will enable the prospective customers to post online request for a new connection by filing Know Your Customer (KYC) form, uploading photographs and bank account details. After submission, the customer will receive the registration number to know the connection status.
It also provides the facility to choose the mode of payment, which may be online or offline mode of payment for connection. Electronic subscription voucher will be mailed to the customer and physical delivery of the Gas cylinder, regulator with hose pipe will be made by the distributor.
Union Government launched E-Payment Module for Deposit of Compensatory Levies into CAMPA Funds
The Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar on 27 August 2015 launched an e-payment module to accept compensatory amount for diversion of forest land in the country.
This e-payment module will cut delays and bring transparency in the system which is meant for collecting fund from user agencies which diver forest land for non-forest purpose.
Highlights of the E-payment Module
• The payment through the e-payment module has to be made to the designated account, depending on the State in which the forest land proposed to be diverted is located.
• The deposit of compensatory levies through the e-portal will be optional till 31 August 2015.
• However, the payment of compensatory levies by User Agencies will be accepted only through the e-module from 1 September 2015.
• With the activation of the e-payment portal, no payments will be accepted other than through the portal, unless specifically ordered by Ad-hoc CAMPA.
• Initially, payments will be permitted through two modes Online challan mode through RTGS and NEFT and Offline challan mode.
Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA)
Any user agency which diverts forest land for non-forest purpose is required to deposit prescribed amount to the government body. This amount is managed by an ad-hoc body, Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA).
The CAMPA was created by the Union Government under the Supreme Court order of October, 2002. So far, 38,000 crore rupees have been accumulated with the ad-hoc CAMPA.
This fund is meant for carrying out reforestation and other related activities including protection of forest area and wildlife conservation. The collected amount, however, remains unspent in absence of an institution mechanism to disburse the money to states.
The verification of receipt of compensatory levies in the ad-hoc CAMPA has, till now, been done manually.
Law Commission of India submitted report on Early Childhood Development and Legal Entitlements
The Law Commission of India on 27 August 2015 submitted the 259th report titled Early Childhood Development and Legal Entitlements to the Union Law Minister D V Sadananda Gowda.
The report examined the present constitutional, legal and policy framework including international agreements and conventions related to early childhood and presented suggestions to improve conditions of children under age of 6 years.
Important suggestions of the report
• A new Article 24A be inserted to Part III of the Constitution to ensure that the child’s right to basic care and assistance becomes an enforceable right. The Article should read as 24A. Every child shall have the right to care and assistance in basic needs and protection from all forms of neglect, harm and exploitation.
• In order to extend the right to education to children in the under-6 age group as well, Article 21A of the Constitution should be amended to read as follows The State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children in such a manner as the State may by law determine.
• Article 51 A(k) of the Constitution should be amended so that the duty is placed on every citizen who is a parent or guardian to provide opportunities for education to his/her child or, as the case may be, ward under his/her care.
• The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 should be amended so that maternity benefits should be increased from twelve weeks to 180 days.
• A statutory authority or Council for Early Childhood Development be created in order to ensure proper emphasis on the promotion of early childhood development.
• Provision should be made for the training of teachers to provide pre-school education, and there should be a budgetary allocation to fund training programs for the same to ensure quality standards and a proper implementation of the best methods of promoting play and learning.
• It is suggested that every child under six should have an unconditional right to crèche and day care provided, regulated and operated by the State, as found for example in the Act on Children’s Day 69 Care of 1973, Finland.
The Union Government on 27 August 2015 declared the names of 98 cities for its ambitious smart cities project. The aspirant cities were selected by the States and Union Territories on the parametres set by the Centre.
Name of the selected cities were announced by Union Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu in New Delhi.
The selected cities include 12 cities from Uttar Pradesh, 12 from Tamil Nadu, 10 from Maharashtra, 7 from Madhya Pradesh, 3 each from Bihar and Andhra Pradesh. All other states have also got one or two cities for the purpose, except Jammu and Kashmir. Nearly 13 crore population across 98 cities, which constitute 35 percent of urban population, will be covered under the mission.
RGI released Census 2011 on Population by Religious Communities
The Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India (RGI) on 25 August 2015 released the data on Census 2011 on Population by Religious Communities. The distribution is total population by six major religious communities namely, Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain besides Other Religions and Persuasions and Religion not stated.
As per the Census 2011, the Total Population in 2011 was 121.09 crores. Here is the list of Population by Religious Communities based on Census 2011:
96.63 crores (79.8%)
17.22 crores (14.2%)
2.78 crores (2.3%)
2.08 crores (1.7%)
0.84 crores (0.7%)
0.45 crores (0.4%)
Other Religions & Persuasions
0.79 crores (0.7%)
Religion Not Stated
0.29 crores (0.2%)
The proportion of Hindu population to total population in 2011 has declined by 0.7 percentage point (PP) while the proportion of Sikh population has declined by 0.2 PP and the Buddhist population declined by 0.1 PP during the decade 2001-2011.
The proportion of Muslim population to total population has increased by 0.8 PP. There has been no significant change in the proportion of Christians and Jains.
The growth rate of population in the decade 2001-2011 was 17.7 percent. The growth rate of population of the different religious communities in the same period was- Hindus at 16.8 percent; Muslim at 24.6 percent; Christian at 15.5 percent; Sikh at 8.4 percent; Buddhist at 6.1 percent and Jain at 5.4 percent.
The Muslim population grew at a faster rate than the Hindu population, but the gap between the two growth rates is narrowing fast. The data shows that between 2001 and 2011, Hindu population grew by 16.76 percent, while population of Muslims grew by 24.6 percent. The population of both communities grew much faster during the 1991-2001 with Hindus at 19.92 percent and Muslims at 29.52 percent.
The Muslim community has registered a moderate 0.8 percent growth to touch 17.22 crore between 2001 and 2011, up from 13.8 crore between 1991-2001, while Hindus population showed a decline by 0.7 percent at 96.63 crore during the period.
Though there is the decadal increase in share of Muslim population, however, their growth rate is lower than the previous decade 1991-2001.
Union Government launched 'Sehat' to provide healthcare facilities in rural areas
The Union government on 25 August 2015 launched a telemedicine initiative 'Sehat' in collaboration with Apollo Hospitals to provide healthcare facilities in rural areas.
The initiative was launched by Union Communication and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad at a function in New Delhi.
Under the initiative people will be able to consult doctors through video link and also order generic drugs. It will also help in providing quality and affordable healthcare is one of the emerging needs for citizens in rural areas.
The Common Service Centres (CSCs) have been delivering tele-consultation services with support from Apollo and Medanta Hospitals in some areas. These CSCs will also provide diagnostic services and promote sale of generic drugs through collaboration with Health Ministry by setting up Jan Aushadhi Stores.
Now, with this initiative, the tele-consultation services are being extended to 60000 centres across the country.
Union Government launched web portal Vidya Lakshmi for Students Seeking Educational Loans
The Union Government on 15 August 2015 launched a web portal named Vidya Lakshmi (www.vidyalakshmi.co.in) for the benefit of students seeking Educational Loans.
It is the first portal of its kind that provides single window for students to access information and make application for educational loans provided by banks as well as for government scholarships.
The Portal was developed by NSDL e-Governance Infrastructure Limited (NSDL e-Gov) under the guidance of Department of Financial Services under Union Ministry of Finance, Department of Higher Education under Union Ministry of Human Resource Development and Indian Banks’ Association (IBA).
Highlights of the Portal
• It provides information about educational loan schemes of banks
• Common educational loan application form for students
• It has facility to apply to multiple banks for educational loans
• It allows banks to download students’ loan applications and upload loan processing status
• It offers students to email grievances/queries relating to educational loans to banks
• It has dashboard facility for students to view status of their loan application
• It provides linkage to national scholarship portal for information and application for government scholarships.
So far, 13 Banks have registered 22 Educational Loan Schemes on the Vidya Lakshmi Portal and 5 Banks including SBI, IDBI Bank, Bank of India, Canara Bank and Union Bank of India have integrated their system with the Portal for providing loan processing status to students.
This initiative aims to bring on board all Banks providing Educational Loans.
PM Narendra Modi launched a new campaign Start-up India, Stand up India
The Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 15 August 2015 launched a new campaign Start-up India, Stand up India to promote bank financing for start-ups and offer incentives to boost entrepreneurship and job creation.
The campaign was launched during the celebrations of 69th Independence Day at Red Fort, Delhi. The initiative is aimed at encouraging entrepreneurship among the youth of India.
As per the initiative, each of the 1.25 lakh bank branches should encourage at least one Dalit or tribal entrepreneur and at least one woman entrepreneur.
Under this initiative, in addition to existing systems to facilitate start-ups, loans would also be given to help people. This initiative will give a new dimension to entrepreneurship and will help set up a network of start-ups in the country.
• Union Agriculture Ministry will now be renamed as Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Ministry with a view to take care of the farming community’s needs as well as the personal problems faced by them.
• The Prime Minister also announced to replace the current practice of interview-based selections for low-skilled government jobs with online merit based recruiting.
• Under the Skill India and Digital India initiative, government will now work to provide package of incentives to manufacturing units for generating jobs.
Union Cabinet approved MoU between India, Nepal for construction of petroleum pipeline
The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 12 August 2015 gave its approval for the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the India and Nepal for the construction of a petroleum products pipeline from Raxaul (India) to Amlekhgunj (Nepal).
The MoU also includes re-engineering of Amlekhgunj Depot of Nepal and allied facilities. The MoU will promote bilateral cooperation in the oil and gas sector and secure long term supply of petroleum products to Nepal.
It will also help preserve the environment along the route and decongest the international border at Raxaul.
Highlights of the Project
• On behalf of Union Government, the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) has been entrusted with the job of construction of the pipeline and re-engineering of the Amlekhgunj Depot and allied facilities.
• The project will be completed in two phases. In the first phase, a petroleum products pipeline from Raxaul in India to Amlekhgunj in Nepal would be constructed.
• The Indian Oil Corporation will bear a cost of 200 crore rupees for the first phase of the project.
• There will be a long term contract of 15 years (initial contract for five years extendable for two terms of five years each) between the Indian Oil Corporation and the Nepal Oil Corporation.
Earlier in August 2014 during the visit of PM Narendra Modi to Nepal, the Government of Nepal had requested him for the construction of this petroleum products pipeline. Resultantly, this was agreed by the Union Government.
Union Cabinet nod for India, US MoU on cooperation to establish the Pace Setter Fund
The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 12 August 2015 gave its ex-post-facto approval for the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on cooperation to establish the Pace Setter Fund (PSF).
The PSF seeks to support the Promoting Energy Access through Clean Energy (PEACE) track of the US-India Partnership to Advance Clean Energy (PACE) between India and United States of America.
This MoU signed on 30 June 2015 is expected to accelerate commercialisation of innovative off-grid clean energy solutions by providing early-stage grant funding. This would also allow businesses to develop and test innovative products, systems and business models.
It will also help cooperation through technical and commercial innovation and advancement of clean energy in off-grid space. The India-US corpus of about 500 million rupees (8 million US Dollars) has been drawn on a 50:50 sharing basis.
The Union Government and the United States of America have announced the launch of a new initiative Promoting Energy Access through Clean Energy (PEACE). This ambitious cooperation is a new tract under the U.S.-India Partnership to Advance Clean Energy (PACE), a flagship initiative on Clean Energy that combines resources of several US agencies and Union Government. This has also been listed in the Joint Statement during the visit of the President of the USA to India in January 2015.
Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan announced marketing of Bio Fuel Blended HSD
The Union Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas (MoP&NG) on 10 August 2015 announced Marketing of High Speed Diesel (HSD) blended with Bio-diesel in selected retail outlets of OMC’s in New Delhi & Vishakhapatnam (by HPCL), Haldia (by BPCL) and Vijayawada (by IOCL). ‘
It is a path breaking step in India’s retail sector for launching Bio-diesel B 5 blend to diesel consumers.
Sale of fuel was announced on the occasion of World Bio Fuel Day by Minister of State (I/C) for Petroleum & Natural Gas, Dharmendra Pradhan at HPCL’s retail outlet in New Delhi. He also launched the sale of Bio-Diesel blended HSD in other cities through live streaming from New Delhi.
Earlier, the ministry had permitted direct sale of Bio-Diesel (B100) to bulk consumers like Railways, shipping and State Road Transport Corporations etc. This was permitted as part of promotion of Ethanol Blended Petrol program (EBP) in the country, wherein ethanol blending in petrol is planned to increase from 5 to 10 % based on the availability of ethanol.
Param Tyag Chakra Initiative launched to honour families of martyrs
The Param Tyag Chakra initiative was launched on 9 August 2015 by the Alumni Association of Rajagiri School of Engineering and Technology to honour family members of brave military men, who sacrificed their lives for the nation.
For this initiative, the Alumni Association of Rajagiri School of Engineering and Technology in association with the management and students launched a web platform aimed at collecting the details of these family members.
Everyone including the general public, the government, corporates, the media can join this initiative in multiple ways like by identifying and referring such families or by channeling the support required for them etc.
The initiative is planned in multiple phases. The first phase will be launched as part of the Independence Day.
Suraksha Bandhan drive launched to facilitate enrolment under Social Security Schemes
Union Government on 9 August 2015 launched Suraksha Bandhan drive in a Mission Mode through participating banks and insurance companies to facilitate enrolment under social security schemes.
The schemes are Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana (PMSBY), Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana (PMJJBY) and Atal Pension Yojana (APY).
The drive launched in the back drop of Raksha Bandhan aims at taking forward the Government’s objective of creating a universal social security system in the country, targeted especially at the poor and the under-privileged. Participating Banks supported by the participating Insurance Companies will work towards local outreach, awareness building and enrolment facilitation during this drive.
The last date for enrolment under the PMSBY and PMJJBY schemes has been extended till 30 September 2015. Persons enrolling within this period would not be required to submit a certificate of good health for Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana. Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana enrolment does not in any event require any such certification.
The drive will be supported through the Jeevan Suraksha Gift Cheques, which will be available for purchase for 351 rupees in Bank branches by persons wishing to gift them to facilitate one year payment of premium for Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana and Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana by the recipient.
The recipient of the gift cheque would deposit the instrument in his or her bank account for a realizable value of 342 rupees, out of which 12 rupees will be for one year subscription of PMSBY and 330 rupees for PMJJBY. The balance of 9 rupees will be retained by the issuing Bank as a service charge.
Rural Development Minister launched ‘SAMANVAY’ for Gram Panchayats
Rural Development Minister Chaudhary Birender Singh on 4 August 2015 launched SAMANVAY, a compilation of all schemes of both Union and State governments for Gram Panchayats.
SAMANVAY was launched with an aim to help MPs in utilising relevant schemes in the planning and implementation of Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana (SAGY). It will also act as a database for mapped and compiled information on various gram panchayat activities through schemes undertaken by the Centre and State Governments.
More than 1800 state schemes from across all states have been documented in SAMANVAY.
Besides, the Singh also launched 'Panchayat Darpan' magazine to monitor the progress of the Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana. It will act as a mirror of all the development activities in the village panchayats.
Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana was launched in October 2014 under which MPs are to develop three Adarsh Gram Panchayats by 2019. The objective of the programme is to create Model Villages.
Union Government signed historic peace accord with NSCN (I-M)
Union Government on 3 August 2015 signed a landmark peace accord with the National Socialist Council of Nagaland Isak-Muivah (NSCN (I-M)), putting an end to almost two decades long pending peace talks.
The signing of the pact is the end of over 80 rounds of negotiations that spanned 16 years with first breakthrough in 1997 when ceasefire agreement was sealed.
The accord was signed at the Prime Minister's official residence 7 RCR, New Delhi in presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, the NSCN (IM) leader Th. Muivah, and government's interlocutor for Naga peace talks RN Ravi.
RN Ravi inked the document on behalf of the Union government, while NSCN (IM) chairman Isak Chishi Swu and general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah were the signatories on behalf of the Naga organisation.
However, NSCN-Khaplang (NSCN-K), the faction of the NSCN which broke away in 1988 was not part of the settlement.
Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM)
Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM) is a Naga outfit operating in Northeast India. The group was named after its two leaders, Isak Chishi Swu and Thuingaleng Muivah.
Union Government released the Census data on Highest Educational Level Attained
Registrar General & Census Commissioner of India on 31 July 2015 released the Census 2011 data on Highest Education Level Attained.
The data relates to population of 7 years and above by age and sex for total, Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) up to district levels.
Primary occupies the top position in terms of percentage share to total literates in 2011 for both total and SCs. The respective shares are 24.1percent for total and 27.7 percent for SCs.
The percentage share of literates at the higher educational levels, i.e. Middle, Higher Secondary and above have gone up at national level for total, SCs and STs during census 2011 as compared to census 2001.
In case of Matric/Secondary, there is negligible decline for total while for SCs & STs, there is improvement.
The percentage share of Graduate and above population of 15 years and above has shown improvement from 5.7 percent to 8.2 percent for total, 2.2 percent to 4.1 percent for SCs and 1.5 percent to 2.6 percent for STs during 2001-11.
The percentage share of Graduate degree other than technical degree to total Graduate and above has declined by 7.2 percent for total, 7.7 percent for SCs and 7.5 percent for STs during the decade 2001-2011.
The share of Post Graduate Degree other than technical degree has shown improvement of 2.9 percent for total, 2.4 percent for SCs and 2.4 percent for STs during 2001-11.
Technical Degrees or diplomas equal to degree or post graduate degree has shown improvement of 4.4 percent for total, 5.3 percent for SCs and 5.1 percent for STs during 2001-11.
The improvements at higher educational levels along with decline in percentage share at below-Primary and Primary level are indication of educational advancement in the country during the decade 2001-11.
Union Government sanctioned 1000 crore rupees for Indo-Bangla Rail Link
Union Government on 25 July 2015 sanctioned 1000 crore rupees for the laying of 15.06 km long tracks to connect Indian Railways with Bangladesh through the North East.
The Indo-Bangla Rail link would be completed by 2017 and the entire route will be constructed by IRCON.
Out of 15.06 km length connecting Agartala with Akhaura railway junction in Bangladesh, 3.7 km would comprise of elevated corridor.
The completion of the project would reduce the distance from Agartala to Kolkata from 1650 km to 515 km and difficult hilly terrain could be avoided.
It will also improve trade and commerce between the North-East region of India and Bangladesh and enhance people to people contact
The project is the result of discussion between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina during the Modi’s visit to Dhaka from 6 June to 7 June 2015.