The report of the A K Bhargava committee on Net Neutrality was on 16 July 2015 released by the Department of Telecommunications. The six member committee was appointed in January 2015.
Though the Committee unhesitatingly recommended for adherence of the core principles of Net Neutrality, it also suggested few exceptions in the interests of national security and businesses.
Highlights of report
• Legitimate traffic management practices may be allowed but should be tested against the core principles of Net Neutrality. Further, Improper (Paid or otherwise) Prioritization may not be permitted.
• India specific Net Neutrality approach should be formulated by taking into account international best practices that serve specific needs of the country.
• The primary goals of public policy in the context of Net Neutrality should be directed towards achievement of developmental aims of the country by facilitating Affordable Broadband, Quality Broadband and Universal Broadband for its citizens.
• User rights on the Internet need to be ensured so that Telecom or Internet Service Providers do not restrict the ability of the user to send, receive, display, use, post any legal content, application or service on the Internet, or restrict any kind of lawful Internet activity or use.
• Over-the-top (OTT) application services should be actively encouraged and any impediments in their expansion and growth should be removed.
• There should be a separation of application layer from network layer as application services are delivered over a licensed network.
• Specific OTT communication services dealing with messaging should not be interfered with through regulatory instruments.
• In case of OTT VoIP international calling services, a liberal approach may be adopted. However, in case of domestic calls (local and national), communication services by TSPs and OTT communication services may be treated similarly from a regulatory angle for the present.
• Content and application providers cannot be permitted to act as gatekeepers and use network operations to extract value in violation of core principles of Net Neutrality, even if it is for an ostensible public purpose. In this regard, the committee expressed its objections to Facebook’s Internet.org.
• In order to deal with the complexities of the new digital world, a think-tank with best talent may also be set up.
PM launched Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana to impart skill training to youth
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 15 July 2015 launched the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana in New Dehi.
The programme aims to impart skill training to 24 lakh youth during 2015-16 with focus on first time entrants to the labour market and class 10 and class 12 drop outs.
Key characteristics of the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKY)
• It will cover 24 lakh persons and skill training would be based on the National Skill Qualification Framework (NSQF) and industry led standards.
• It will be implemented by the Union Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship through the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) training partners.
• In addition, Central and State Government affiliated training providers would also be used for training purposes.
• Skill training would be on the basis of skill gap studies conducted by the NSDC for the period 2013-17.
• Focus of the training would be on improved curricula, better pedagogy and better trained instructors.
• A monetary reward will be given to trainees on assessment and certification by third party assessment bodies. The average monetary reward would be around 8000 rupees per trainee.
• Out of the total outlay of 1120 crore rupees to be spent on skill training of 14 lakh youths, 220 crore rupees has been allocated for recognition of prior learning.
• 67 crore rupees has been allocated for awareness building and mobilization efforts. Mobilization would be done through skill melas organized at the local level with participation of the State Governments, Municipal Bodies, Pachayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) and community based organizations.
• 67 crore rupees has been allocated for mentorship support and placement facilitation for trainees.
• 150 crore rupees has been allocated for training of youth from the North-East region.
Monitoring of the programme
• Sector Skill Councils and the State Governments would closely monitor skill training that will happen under the PMKVY.
• Skill Development Management System (SDMS) would be put in place to verify and record details of all training centres a certain quality of training locations and courses.
• Biometric system and video recording of the training process would be put in place where feasible.
• All persons undergoing training would be required to give feed back at the time of assessment and this would become the key element of the evaluation framework to assess the effectiveness of the PMKVY scheme.
• A robust grievance redressal system would be put in place to address grievances relating to implementation of the scheme.
Union Agriculture Minister launched PGS-India, Soil Health Card and FQCS Web Portals
Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh on 15 July 2015 launched 3 web portals viz. Soil Health Card portal, Fertiliser Quality Control System (FQCS) portal and Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) – India portal.
Soil Health Card Portal: The portal has been developed for registration of soil samples, recording test results of soil samples and generation of Soil Health Card (SHC) along with fertilizer recommendations. The portal is a single, generic, uniform, web based software that aims to generate and issue Soil Health Cards based on either Soil TEST-CROP Response (STCP) formulae developed by ICAR or General Fertilizer Recommendations provided by State Governments.
The System envisages building up a single national database on soil health for future use in research and planning.
Fertilizer Quality Control System Portal (FQCS): This FQCS is a web based and configurable workflow application developed by NIC for processing of sample collection, testing and generation of analysis reports. The system will lead to automation of most of the manual activities and help in online tracking the status of the sample.
In the first phase, the system will be implemented in CFQC&TI and its three RFCLs. Subsequently, the system will be extended to all the State Quality Control laboratories.
At present, there are 78 notified Fertilizer Quality Control Laboratories (FQCLs) in the country. Out of these, 4 laboratories viz. Central Fertilizer Quality Control & Training Institute (CFQC&TI) and its three Regional Fertilizer Control Laboratories (RFCLs) located at Navi Mumbai, Chennai and Kalyani.
Participatory Guarantee System – India Portal: Participatory Guarantee System is a process of certifying organic products which ensures agriculture production process in accordance with the standards laid down for organic products and that desired quality has been maintained.
In order to promote domestic organic market growth and also to enable small and marginal farmer to have easy access to organic certification, a decentralized organic farming certification system called Participatory Guarantee System –India (PGS-India) is implemented by the Department of Agriculture and Cooperation, Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India. It is cost effective, farmer- friendly and hassle-free. It is outside the framework of third party system of certification, which is a pre-requisite to enter export market of organic produce.
It is a quality assurance initiative that is locally relevant with active participation of stakeholders including producers/farmers, traders and consumers in certification system.
This group certification system is supported by Paramaparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) scheme.