Union Budget 2018-19 and Agriculture and Rural Economy

The 2018-19 Budget has apparently been guided by the mission to strengthen agriculture, rural development, health, education, employment, the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) and infrastructure sectors. The finance minister quoted Vivekananda: “Let new India arise out of peasants’ cottage, grasping the plough, out of huts, cobbler and sweeper.”

The finance minister reiterated the government’s determination to double farmers’ income and to increase production from same land parcels. The budget promised much relief to farmers.

The minimum support price (MSP) for all unannounced upcoming Kharif crops has been raised to 1.5 times the cost of production as in the case of a majority of rabi crops. In case the market prices are lower than MSP, the government would procure the produce or ensure farmers get right prices.

 

Comment However, linking MSP to the cost of cultivation is a bit surprising as the cost of cultivation of crops is bound to vary from place to place in the country. It is not clear how this linkage will be executed.

The finance minister announced that 22,000 rural haats are to be upgraded into gramin agricultural markets to take care of the interests of some 86 per cent of small and marginal farmers.

An Agri-Market Infrastructure Fund with a corpus of Rs 2,000 crore is to be set up to develop and upgrade marketing infrastructure in the gramin agricultural markets (GrAMs) and 585 agricultural produce marketing committees (APMCs). The GrAMs would be linked to the e-NAM and exempted from APMC regulations, thus providing the facility of making direct sales to consumers and bulk purchasers. It was also announced that 470 APMC-promoted markets had been connected to the e-nam market platform, the rest would be so connected by March 2018.

Comment There is little data available for the e-nam markets, and as far as is known, most farmers still sell their products in the old way through commission agents.

The budget proposed Rs 200 crore for the organised cultivation of specialised medicinal and aromatic plants.

Organic farming by farmer producer organisations and village producers’ organisations in large clusters, preferably of 1000 hectares each, will be encouraged.

Operation Green was announced on the lines of Operation Flood to address price fluctuations in potato, tomato and onion for the benefit of farmers and consumers. There is to be a farmer-producer organisation, logistics, warehousing, etc., the allocation for the operation being Rs 500 crore.

A restructured national bamboo mission is to be set up with a corpus of Rs 1,290 crore.

Kisan credit cards would be extended to fisheries and animal husbandry sector.

Also announced was the proposal to set up a Fisheries and Aquaculture Infrastructure Development Fund (FAIDF) for fisheries sector and an Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund (AHIDF) for financing infrastructure requirement of animal husbandry sector with a total corpus of  Rs.10,000 crore for the two new funds.

Under the Prime Minister’s KrishiSinchaiYojna-HarKhetkoPani, Rs 2,600 crore is allocated for focusing on 96 deprived irrigation districts. The Centre and the state governments will work together to help farmers install solar water pumps to irrigate their fields.

The allocation to the food processing ministry has been doubled from Rs 715 crore.

He also proposed to set up state-of-the-art testing facilities in all the forty two Mega Food Parks.

 

Export of agricultural-commodities has been liberalised in order to meet India’s agricultural exports potential of $100 billion.

A favourable taxation treatment for farmer producers organisations is to be encouraged.

Agricultural products will now be in futures markets.

The volume of institutional credit for agriculture sector increased from Rs.8.5 lakh crore in 2014-15 to Rs.10 lakh crore in 2017-18. For 2018-19, a credit for 11 lakh crore for the farm sector has been proposed.

A special scheme to manage crop residue was also announced to support the efforts of the governments of Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and the NCT of Delhi to address air pollution in the Delhi-NCR region by subsidising machinery required for in-situ management of crop residue.

For the rural sector on the whole, in terms of social protection and security, the finance minister announced that gas connections will now be provided to 8 crore poor women.

Rs 16,000 crore was allocated for the Prime Minister’s SaubhagyaYojana for connecting 4 crore households with free electricity.

A target of constructing at least 2 crore toilets has been set under the Swachh Bharat Mission.

Under the schemes of Housing for All by 2022 and the Prime Minister’s AwasYojana (rural), 51 lakh affordable housing units constructed in rural and 50 lakh in urban areas are to be constructed. A dedicated affordable housing fund to meet the targets has been proposed.

The target for loans for self-help groups has been increased to Rs 75,000 crore, the aim being to boost livelihood opportunities and private enterprise.

The National Livelihood Mission has been allocated Rs 5,750 crore.

The total estimated allocation from extra and non-budgetary resources for housing, infrastructure and livelihood in rural areas is Rs 14.34 lakh crore.

Economic Survey on Agriculture

January 29, 2018, saw the opening of the budget session of Parliament.

The Economic Survey on Agriculture

On the 29th, the Economic Survey 2017-18 was tabled in Parliament. The survey authored by the Chief Economic Adviser to the government, Arvind Subramanian, was optimistic about the overall growth of the country’s economy in 2018-19 but did not hesitate to point out that the agricultural sector was undergoing a crisis and needed urgent attention.

The agricultural sector employs more than half of the total workforce in India and contributes some 17-18 percent to the country’s GDP.

Mechanisation is increasingly being adopted by Indian farmers, says the Survey, and in recent times this use of mechanisation is happening at a faster rate than before. “Although, the sale of tractors in India cannot be taken as the only measure of farm mechanisation but to a great extent it reflects the level of mechanisation,” says Subramanian. This may be encouraging but there is a need to further enhance mechanisation as it is estimated that percentage of agricultural workers of total workforce would drop to 25.7 percent by 2050 from 58.2 percent in 2001. The cost of production of crops in India is quite high mainly because of intensive labour input.

The Survey pointed out that though human power availability in agriculture increased from about 0.043KW/ ha in 1960-61 to about 0.077 KW/ ha in 2014-15, as compared to tractor growth, increase in human power in agriculture is quite slow.

The predominance of small operational holdings in Indian agriculture prevented optimum production. These landholdings need to be consolidated if the benefits of agricultural mechanisation are to be reaped.

High-cost farm machinery, furthermore, may not be within the means of most farmers, so there is a need to innovate custom service or a rental model by institutionalisation for farm machinery such as combine harvester, sugarcane harvester, potato combine, paddy transplanter, laser guided land leveller, rotavator, etc. to reduce the cost of operation.

The Economic Survey has important things to say on the impact of climate on agriculture. It found that during the years when rainfall levels drop 100 mm below average, farmer incomes would fall by 15 percent during Kharif (summer) and 7 percent during the rabi (winter) crop seasons.

“Climate change could reduce annual agricultural incomes in the range of 15 percent to 18 percent on average, and up to 20 percent to 25 percent for unirrigated areas,” the Survey said; at current levels of farm income, that implies more than Rs3,600 per year for the median farm household.There are at least three channels through which climate change would impact farm incomes — an increase in average temperatures, a decline in average rainfall and an increase in the number of dry-days – all of them correlated.Elaborating on the impact of climate change, the Survey said “between the 1970s and the last decade, Kharif rainfall has declined on an average by 26 mm and rabi rainfall by 33 mm. Annual average rainfall for this period has on an average declined by about 86 mm.” Similarly, the average increase in temperature during this period is about 0.45 degrees and 0.63 degrees in the Kharif and rabi seasons, respectively.

The Survey calls for steps to impel farmers to diversify their activities.

On future reforms in the agriculture sector,a distinction had to be made between “two agricultures” in India.In the input-intensive and irrigated cereal-growing areas in northern India, price support and input subsidies have to make way for “less damaging” direct benefit or cash transfers, while in the rain-dependent and low public procurement states in central, western and southern India, the focus needs to be on investing in research and technology for non-cereal crops, removing market barriers, improving post-harvest facilities, and developing a better livestock policy.

Irrigation is of great importance but it would be a challenge to fully irrigate India where at present more than half the crop area is rain-fed. The Survey suggested the need for ‘dramatic’ improvement in irrigation, use of new technologies and better targeting of power and fertiliser subsidies.“Against the backdrop of water scarcity and limited efficiency in existing irrigation schemes… technologies of drip irrigation, sprinklers and water management—captured in the ‘more crop for every drop’ campaign—may well hold the key to the future of Indian agriculture,” it said.

The Survey pinpointed the recent trends of deceleration in rural wages beginning just ahead of the Kharif crop season last year, lower planting of crops during 2017-18 which reduced demand for labour, and rather low prices for those growing pulses and oilseeds.

Income uncertainty for farmers has been also due to significant price fluctuation in perishables such as onions, potatoes and tomatoes.

“The past few seasons have witnessed a problem of plenty: farm revenues declining for a number of crops despite increasing production and market prices falling below the minimum support price,” the Survey said.

The Economic Survey 2018 points towards the ‘feminisation of the agricultural sector’, as more men are migrating from rural to urban centres. According to Census 2011, of the total female main workers, 55 percent are agricultural labourers and 24 percent are cultivators. “For sustainable development of the agriculture and rural economy the contribution of women to agriculture and food production cannot be ignored,” says the Survey. As women taking on more proactive roles in agriculture, they need better access to resources such as land, credit, water, technology and training. If agricultural productivity is to be improved, the entitlements of women farmers will have to be kept mind.

DARPAN: A Project for Rural Modernisation

On December 22, the Ministry of Communications launched the ‘Digital Advancement of Rural Post Office for A New India’ (DARPAN)project to improve the overall quality of service levels of rural post offices, add value to services and achieve “financial inclusion” of the‘un-banked’ rural population. The IT modernisation project with an outlay of Rs. 1400 crore,  unveiled by the Department of Posts (DoP), provides a low power technology solution to each Branch Postmaster (BPM) which will enable each of approximately 1.29 lakh Branch Post Offices (BOs) to improve the level of services being offered to rural customers across all the states.

Some 43,171 Branch Post Offices have already migrated under the ‘DARPAN’project; the project is expected to be completed by March 2018.

The project aims to

(i) increase the rural reach of the Department of Posts and enable BOs to increase traffic of all financial remittances, savings accounts, rural postal life insurance, and cash certificates;

(ii) improve mail operations processes by allowing for automated booking and delivery of accountable article;

(iii) increase revenue using retail post business;

(iv) provide third-party applications; and

(v)provide disbursements for social security schemes such as MGNREGS.

As part of the IT modernisation project, the DoP has carried out business process re-engineering across various functional areas and has created To-Be processes that will enable it to achieve these objectives. It has set up 991 ATMs across the country, which are interoperable with other banks.  Till January 2018, more than 1.12 crore transactions had been carried out on the DoP ATMs out of which over 70 lakh transactions had been done by non-DoP customers. DoP is the only government player in this space.

DoP has been the backbone of the country’s communication for more than 150 years. It is engaged in delivering mails, accepting deposits under Small Savings Schemes, providing life insurance cover under Postal Life Insurance (PLI) and Rural Postal Life Insurance (RPLI) and providing retail services like bill collection, sale of forms, etc. The Department of Posts also acts as an agent for the Government of India in discharging other services for citizens such as Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) wage disbursement and old age pension payments. With 1.5 lakh post offices (approximately), the DoP has the most widely distributed postal network in the world.

Spectrum Handbook for General Studies Paper-1 Edition 2018

 

 

Livestock Disease Forewarning (LDF) Mobile Application Launched

 

On December 27, 2017, the Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh launched a mobile application to forewarn farmers about diseases affecting their livestock so that farmers can take timely precautionary and control measures.

The app, called Livestock Disease Forewarning (LDF) mobile app, will provide early warning about diseases as well as information about clinical samples for diagnosis in the case of an epidemic. It has been developed by ICAR-National Institute of Veterinary Epidemiology and Disease Informatics (ICAR-NIVEDI), which will issue warnings on 13 priority animal diseases identified by the agriculture department. A monthly bulletin will provide monthly livestock disease alerts to animal husbandry departments at the Centre and in the states.

The complex statistical algorithm involved considers both climatic and non-climatic factors and categorizes districts into Very High Risk, High Risk, Moderate Risk, Low Risk, Very Low Risk and No Risk for a particular disease so that stakeholders can effectively plan and utilize the available resources.

The app works on all Android smartphones and takes up 2.5 MB space.

Animal disease can adversely affect agriculture economy and livestock is a critical area. Prevalence of Food and Mouth Disease (FMD), Haemorrhagic Septicaemia (HS), Brucellosis, Black Quarter (BQ) in cattle, sheep-goat pox in sheep and goats and swine fever in pigs drastically reduces the productivity of animals and hits investment in the sector.

Spectrum Handbook for General Studies Paper-1 Edition 2018

 

 

NARI Portal, e-SAMVAD Launched

On January 2, 2018, the Union minister for women and child development, Maneka Gandhi launched a web portal, National Repository of Information for Women (NARI), which aims to provide information on all government schemes for women. In a related move, the government has launched e-SAMVAD, a platform for the NGOs and civil societies to interact with the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD).

It was announced that the government will initiate a trial run of mobile phones with a panic button from January 26 in Uttar Pradesh. In April 2016, the government had made it mandatory for all mobile phone manufacturers to provide a panic button feature in cell phones from January 2017, but its implementation has been delayed. The move aims at improving security for women by providing them a tool to alert the local police.

NARI Portal

The NARI portal provides easy access to information on about 350 government schemes initiated not only by the central government but also all the governments of states. The schemes are classified into seven different categories: health, education, employment, housing and shelter, decision making, social support and addressing violence. The portal, which will be updated from time to time,  will provide women information on issues in these areas that affect their lives. They can also access information, tips and advises on other topics covering adoption and Direct Benefit. A person can log on to http://www.nari.nic.in for information on the schemes.

There is a ‘Knowledge Corner’ on the portal that informs about the procedure for getting a voter ID and an Aadhaar Card, opening a bank account, applying for a passport,  savings and investments and basic rights of women like availing of maternity leave. The user can also ‘Get Involved’ in the government’s efforts fora better India like its programmes on BetiBachaoBetiPadhao and Foster Care.

e-SAMVAD

On this interactive portal, NGOs can contact MWCD and provide suggestions, feedbacks and also put up grievances and their best practices to help formulate effective policies for the welfare of women and children.

Spectrum Handbook for General Studies Paper-1 Edition 2018

 

 

Bollgard-II Disaster: NSAI finds Monsanto responsible for bollworm resistance

The National Seed Association of India (NSAI), in January 2018, threatened to stop selling the cotton seeds developed with Bollgard-II (BG-II) technology if the Monsanto firms involved in introduction of the technology did not confirm its effectiveness (it has proved ineffective in preventing infestation by the pink bollworm).

The development came as a result of widespread resistance developed by pink bollworm to Bollgard-II, the second-generation genetically modified cotton seed technology. Pink bollworm, which showed signs of resistance, turned virulent in the kharif season, and led to extensive damage to cotton crops in many states. Due to the intense resistance, farmers in Telangana were told to remove the plants after the second pink (of cotton bolls) so that the fields would be free of pink bollworm for the next season.

The association wants the firms, US biotech major, Monsanto, and  Mahyco Monsanto Biotech (India) Private Limited (MMBL),which licenses Monsanto’s GM cotton technologies to seed firms in India,to own up responsibility for this and compensate farmers.

NSAI also expressed its intention to go back to the single gene (CryIAC) GM seed, which has no royalty fee, and can control other bollworms like American and spotted bollworms.

Response MMBL has denied allegations levied against it, and blamed non-adherence to recommendations on Insect Resistance Management (IRM) practices for the development of the resistance. However, NSAI has stated that as per clause 5 of Cotton Seeds Price (Control) Order issued by the Government of India, the trait value towards the Bt cotton trait developed by the trait developer and the seed value towards the efforts of the seed company for hybrid development, seed production, marketing and distribution are clearly mentioned. The responsibility towards the performance of the trait shall, therefore, be on the trait developer, whereas the responsibility for the seed quality remains with the seed company.

Earlier In August 2017, Union Minister of State for Agriculture Parshottam Rupala informed Lok Sabha that there was a sporadic incidence of pink bollworm damage in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat. Maharashtra government had already directed seed firms to pay a compensation of Rs 36.83 lakh to farmers.

In October, the Maharashtra government has requested the Centre to de-notify the BG II strain on the grounds that it had lost its resistance to pink bollworm.

In December 2017, an FIR was registered against the American Monsanto Company, in Yavatmal district of Maharashtra’s Vidarbha region after cotton farmers reported big losses because of pink bollworm infestation. The company, which sells genetically engineered seeds, had sold its products to farmers claiming and advertising that its BT cotton seeds were immune to the wily worm that eats cotton balls. However, farmers, who had bought the BT cotton seeds hoping for high seeds,  complained about losses due to pink bollworm. Large-scale pink bollworm infestation had ruined their crop.

The Firms Mahyco Monsanto Biotech Pvt. Ltd. (MMBL) is a 50:50 joint venture between Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Co. (Mahyco), one of India’s major producers of seed that is active in Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines and Bangladesh as well, and Monsanto Holdings Pvt. Ltd.—a 100 percent wholly-owned subsidiary of Monsanto Company. Monsanto Company is an American multinational agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology corporation that is the leading producer of genetically engineered (GE) seed globally.

Bollgard Technologies

MMBL has sub-licensed the Bollard and Bollgard II technologies to around 42 Indian seed companies each of whom has introduced the Bollgardtechnologies into their own germplasm. Indian farmers have a choice of over 800 Bt cotton hybrid seeds.

Bollgard Bt cotton (single-gene technology) is India’s first biotech crop technology approved for commercialisation in India in 2002. Bollgard II(double-gene technology)was approved in mid-2006 by the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC), the Indian regulatory body for biotech crops.

Bollgardcotton is said to provide in-built protection for cotton against destructive American bollworm,Heliothis Armigera infestations. It contains an insecticidal protein from a naturally occurring soil microorganism, Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). Bollgard II technology contains a superior double-gene technology – Cry1Ac and Cry 2Ab – which provides protection against bollworms and Spodoptera caterpillar, leading to better boll retention, maximum yield, lower pesticides costs, and protection against insect resistance. They are touted to be environmentally friendly way of controlling bollworms in cotton.

Spectrum Handbook for General Studies Paper-1 Edition 2018

 

 

 

GI Tag for India’s ‘First Coffee’

On January 1, 2018, the Coffee Board filed an application with the Geographical Indication Registry at Chennai to get the GI tag of five varieties of coffee.The varieties include Baba Budangiri Arabica, Coorg Arabica, Wayanad Robusta, Chikmagalur Arabic and Araku Valley Arabica. Baba Budangiri, 250 km from Bengaluru, is considered the place where coffee was first grown in India. The Coffee Board has applied for the GI marker and is profiling the majority type grown in Baba Budangiri, called Selection-795.

Baba Budangiri Arabica is grown across 15,000 hectares around the original hills, where it was first planted. Over time, coffee plantations grew beyond Baba Budangiri and the adjoining Chikmagalur and spread to Kodagu and Hassan in Karnataka, and Wayanad, Travancore and Nelliampathy regions of Kerala. It is also grown in the hilly regions of Palani, Shevroy, Nilgiris and Annamalai in Tamil Nadu. Non-traditional areas of coffee cultivation include pockets in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland.

Selection-795 (S-795) is considered to be the natural descendant of two of the oldest African cultivars of coffee — Coffea Arabica and Coffea Liberica (a third variety is called Kent). Currently, S-795 is the most prominent coffee grown at Baba Budangiri.

Coffea Arabica originated in Caffa in southern Abyssinia and then found its way to Yemen. According to John Shortt’s A Handbook on Coffee Planting in Southern India, Baba Budan, a Muslim pilgrim, brought the brew from Mocha, a port city in Yemen, in the 17th century and introduced the variety in the uninhabited hills that came to be known as Baba Budangiri.

About GIA geographical indication (GI) is a name or sign used on certain products which correspond to a particulargeographical location or origin, such as a town or a country. The GI tag is acquired to ensure that none other than those registered as authorised users (or those residing inside the geographic territory) are allowed to use the popular product name. GIs have been defined under Article 22(1) of the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights(TRIPS) Agreement as: “Indications which identify a good as originating in the territory of a member, or a region or a locality in that territory, where a given quality, reputation or characteristic of the good is essentially attributable to its geographic origin”.

India, a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), enacted the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999(effective from September 15, 2003).Darjeeling tea became the first GI tagged product in India, in 2004-05. Since then, by mid-2017, 295 had been added to the list.

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Compulsory Jute Packaging For Foodgrains, Sugar Extended

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), in January 2018, extended the requirement of the mandatory packaging of foodgrains and sugar products in jute bags for the year ending June 2018. The mandatory packaging norms have been extended under the Jute Packaging Material (JPM) Act, 1987. The norms make it compulsory to pack 90 per cent of food grains and 20 per cent sugar products in jute bags. The compulsion is, however, subject to the ability of the jute industry to meet the demand/requirement. According to an official statement, the decision also mandates, in the first instance, the entire requirement for packing of foodgrains in jute bags thus, making a provision for 100 per cent packing of foodgrains in jute bags subject to the ability of the jute industry to meet the requirement.

The move comes in the wake of the fact that the jute industry is predominantly dependent on the government for sustaining itself. Government purchases jute products worth more than Rs 5,500 crore every year. There are nearly 3.7 lakh workers and about 40 lakh farmers whose source of livelihood is the jute sector. Due to this, government has been taking concerted measures for the development of the jute sector. For instance, the government has imposed Definitive Anti-Dumping Duty on import of jute goods from Bangladesh and Nepal with effect from January 5, 2017. The measure proved helpful for creating additional demand of 2 lakh MT of jute goods in the domestic market for the Indian jute industry.

To underline the importance of diversification of the jute industry, emphasis is on diversification by incentivising use of jute geo-textiles and promoting jute as eco-friendly fibre both in domestic and global markets.
The decision will help sustain the core demand for the jute sector and support the livelihood of the workers and farmers dependent on the sector in eastern and north-eastern regions of the country particularly in West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha, Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Meghalaya and Tripura.

SPECTRUM’S Handbook for GENERAL STUDIES PAPER-II 2018

 

 

 

Tungabhadra Steel Shuts down

In January 2018, the Union cabinet approved the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs’(CCEA) decision to shut the Tungabhadra Steel Products Ltd (TSPL) based in Hospet, Bellary district, Karnataka. The decision comes in the wake of huge losses incurred by the public sector unit. Interestingly, TSPL had a promising start and was one of the first and earliest examples of ‘Make in India’ with BHEL and SAIL among its customers.

The cabinet has approved the sale of the land to the Karnataka government for use by the Karnataka State Housing Board. Along with this, the proposal to transfer metallurgical and material handling plants to Karnataka and 20,000 square metres of land, has also been cleared.

TSPL

TSPL was a successor to the Workshops and Machinery Division of the Tungabhadra Dam project, which was established to manufacture gates and hoists required for spillways, sluices and canal gates. These equipment used to be imported earlier and so, it involved outgo of large sums of foreign exchange. TSPL was made a PSU in 1960. The governments of Karnataka (then Mysore) and Andhra Pradesh had equal participation in the company. The company came under the administrative control of the Union Ministry of Heavy Industry in 1960, when the Government of India took a 79 per cent stake in the joint venture, making it a central PSU. The PSU apparently became incompetitive over time due to mismanagement and as it did not get any funding from the centre when it needed funds.

SPECTRUM’S Handbook for GENERAL STUDIES PAPER-II 2018

 

 

 

Government Approves Zojila Pass Tunnel Project in J&K

On January 3, 2018, the Union cabinet gave its approval to the construction of a 14.2 km tunnel in Zojila, which will reduce the travel line between Srinagar and Leh to 15 minutes from the current 3.5 hours. The project will provide all-weather connectivity between Ladakh and Kashmir, and also give a strategic edge to the armed forces in the region, which remains cut off from the rest of the country during the winter months.

Set to be Asia’s longest bi-directional tunnel project, the project is to be built in seven years at an estimated cost Rs 6,809 crore, which includes the cost towards land acquisition, re-allotment and rehabilitation and other pre-construction activities as well as maintenance and operation cost of tunnel for a period of four years.

The two lane bi-directional single tube tunnel of 14.1 km length will have a parallel 14.2 km egress tunnel excluding approaches between Baltal and Minamarg in the state.

The project, to be implemented by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways through the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL), would provide socio-economic benefits for the Ladakh region. It would aid in safe, fast, easy and economic connectivity between the regions of Kashmir and Ladakh.

Zojila is situated at an altitude of 11,578 feet on the Srinagar–Kargil–Leh National Highway, and remains closed from December to April due to heavy snowfall and avalanches. These extreme weather conditions cut off the Ladakh region from Kashmir. The site where the tunnel is planned witnesses temperature as low as –40 degrees Celsius, rendering construction work difficult. So though the plan to construct the tunnel is about two decades old, it could not begin.

SPECTRUM’S Handbook for GENERAL STUDIES PAPER-II 2018

 

 

 

NHAI Issues Contract For India-Myanmar-Thailand Highway Project

The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), in January 2018, issued the letter of award to Punj Lloyd and Varaha Infra Joint Venture for the construction of a two-lane highway in the Kalewa-Yargi section in Myanmar which is part of the proposed India-Myanmar-Thailand (IMT) trilateral highway. This highway is to connect Moreh in Manipur to Mae Sot in Thailand through Myanmar.

About the Project

The 120-km long highway is estimated to cost Rs 1,177 crore. Myanmar, which is the only ASEAN country that shares a land border with India, has already confirmed NHAI of land availability.

India has already built the 132-km section, referred to as Friendship Highway, from the border town of Tamu (Sagaing Region in north-west Myanmar near the border with the eastern Indian state of Manipur) to Kalewa(Kale District in Sagaing).

The highway project involves construction of 69 bridges and approach roads on the Tamu-Kalewa section of the Trilateral Highway and Rih-Tedim Road in Myanmar (across Mizoram). For connecting the trilateral highway through the Zokhawthar-Rih border in Mizoram, a detailed project report (DPR) is underway to build the Rih-Tedim road in Myanmar. India has plans regarding extending road connectivity to the entire CLMV (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam) region. At present, Myanmar is connected by road only through Moreh in Manipur.

The project would enhance bilateral trade and people to people contacts and contribute to the development of the north-east region of India.

To improve both road and rail connectivity to the north-eastern states, the government has rolled-out multi-billion dollar projects including a DPR launched to build a new road-cum-rail bridge at Dhubri near the Bengal-Assam border, which will pave way for easy connectivity to the Garo Hills in Meghalaya and the neighboring Northern Bangladeshi districts. A preliminary survey has been initiated for rail connectivity parallel to the trilateral Highway in which Japan has shown interest.

Spectrum Handbook for General Studies Paper-1 Edition 2018

 

 

Make in India 2.0 to Focus on Robotics, Genomics

Make in India 2.0 (round two), set for launch in February 2018, is to focus on such futuristic areas as robotics, genomics, chemical feedstock and electrical storage to prepare the country for the global economic opportunities that will arise in the coming years. This was announced in January 2018.

The ‘Make in India’ initiative was launched by the Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, in September 2014, as part of a wider set of nation-building initiatives. Devised to transform India into a global design and manufacturing hub, ‘Make in India’ was meant to be a timely response to a critical situation: by 2013, the much-hyped emerging markets bubble had burst, and India’s growth rate had fallen to its lowest level in a decade. The initiative has so far stressed on 25 sectors, which include automobiles, textiles, construction and aviation, to create employment opportunities and boost local manufacturing.

About Round 2

The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) wants ‘Make in India’ 2.0 to focus on a few areas having the long-term potential to achieve upward movement for India in the global supply chain. For this round, the department is in the process of a five-year roadmap for each of the priority sectors that would be covered under the programme. The government will identify the need for policies and regulations at various levels viz., centre, state and local. It will utilise existing mechanisms to collate information and devise strategies under the new round, instead of forming all-new committees.

Round two is being launched at a time when the manufacturing industry seems to be lagging behind, in part due to a tepid global economy that has affected export demand.

Spectrum Handbook for General Studies Paper-1 Edition 2018

 

 

Telecom Commission Approves Easing Spectrum Limits

On January 9, 2018, the Telecom Commission, India’s highest telecom decision-making body, cleared the recommendations put forth by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) concerning easing of spectrum norms that relate to the maximum quantum of spectrum that can be held by a particular company. The step is crucial considering that almost all mobile companies in the country are going through the process of consolidation at the time. Raising the spectrum holding limit of mobile operators will ease the exit route for operators under stress. It would prove useful for mergers and acquisitions.Once the cabinet approves the proposals, the companies would be able to go through with the consolidation without having to surrender any spectrum.

Details

The details are as follows.

*The commission approved the TRAI’s proposal to do away with the 50 percent cap on intra-band spectrum holdings of telcos, and agreed to impose a separate 50 percent cap on the combined spectrum holdings in the 700 MHz, 800 MHz and 900 MHz bands put together (as per existing rules, no mobile service provider can hold more than 25 percent spectrum, vital for transmitting signals, in an area and more than 50 percent in a frequency band).

*Based on the recommendations of the inter-ministerial group (IMG), the commission approved extension of time period for the payment of spectrum bought in auctions by operators to 16 years from 10 years.

*It approved the IMG recommendation to lower the interest rate on penalties paid by telecom operators by about 2 percent.

*It approved raising Network for Spectrum project cost to Rs 24,664 crore from Rs 11,330 crore.

IMG

An Inter-Ministerial Group (IMG) was set up in May 2017 to suggest reforms in the telecom sector. It presented its report later to resolve the crisis in the telecom industry. The IMG recommended

*modification of reserve price of spectrum to make it more reasonable and in line with international best practices

*automatic annual renewal of spectrum for existing telecos (as it is in USA)

*reducing the high annual licence fee obligations

Telecom Crisis 

With regard to the telecom sector crisis and need for reforms, the following may be noted:

*Government levies are exorbitant (old system of high taxation which was followed when spectrum was given for free continues); share of revenue going to the government through license/spectrum charges are up from 11 percent in the financial year 2007 to 32.4 percent in the financial year 2017. The telecom industry has deferred payment liabilities of about Rs 3.1 lakh crore to the government.

*As TRAI’s auctioning process involved releasing only a small band of spectrum, bids stayed exorbitantly high. Also, reserve prices fixed based on previous auctions were not sensitive to existing market conditions. This made it harder for the telcos as they had to pay huge sums for voice spectrums similar to 4G, although demand was not supportive.

*The telecom industry has an outstanding loan of over Rs 4.6 lakh crore to various financial institutions (as of early 2018).

* As over Rs.9 lakh crore has been spent on capital expenditure, the industry needs around Rs 140,000 crore to merely survive.

Spectrum Handbook for General Studies Paper-1 Edition 2018

 

 

Amendments to the Companies Act, 2013

Amendments to the Companies Act

Some of the major details vis-à-vis provisions of the Companies Act, 2013 and the amendments made to it under the Companies (Amendment) Act, 2017 are discussed below.

 

Section 2

DEFINITIONS

2(6): Associate company

 

*The Act defines ‘associate company’, in relation to another company, as a company in which that other company has a significant influence, but which is not a subsidiary company of the company having such influence and includes a joint venture company. ‘Significant influence’, under the Act, meant control of at least 20 per cent total share capital; now, ‘significant influence’ means control of at least 20 per cent of the voting power or control or participation in business decision under an agreement.

 

2(28): Cost Accountant

*Now, ‘cost accountant’ means as defined in clause (b) of sub-section (1) of section 2 of the Cost and Works Accountants Act, 1959 and who holds a valid certificate of practice under sub-section (1) of section 6 of that Act;’; earlier, the phrase “and who holds a valid certificate of practice under sub-section (1) of section 6 of that Act” was not there in the Act.

2(46): Holding Company

 

*The Act defined ‘holding company’, in relation to one or more other companies, as a company of which such companies are subsidiary companies. Now, for the purpose of definition of the term ‘holding company’, the expression ‘company’ will include any body corporate.

 

 

2(76): Related Party

 

*Earlier the definition of ‘related party’ with reference to a company used the word ‘company’, and so therefore only those entities that were incorporated in India came in the purview of the definition. Now the phrase  ‘body corporate’ is used and any ‘body corporate’ which is situated outside India shall fall under the definition of ‘related party’.

 

2(87): Subsidiary company

 

*A company will be treated as subsidiary now in case the holding company exercises or controls more than one-half of the total voting power either at its own or together with one or more of its subsidiary companies. Before the amendment, the Act provided for exercise or control of more than half of the total share capital.

 

START-UPS

 

Section 4

 

Memorandum

 

*In case of incorporation, name reserved by the Registrar of Companies (RoC) shall be valid for 20 days from date of the approval or such other period as may be prescribed instead of 60 days from the date of application, as earlier provided.

 

 

Section 7

 

Incorporation of company

 

*At the time of incorporation of the company, declaration by each subscriber will be required to be attached instead of just an affidavit, as provided earlier under the Act.

 

 

Section 12

 

Registered office of company

 

*Under the Act, the company had to have a registered office on and from the fifteenth day of its incorporation but now it needs to have one within 30 days of its incorporation.

 

*Notice of every change of the situation of the registered office, shall be given to the Registrar within 30 days now instead of the 15 days provided earlier.

 

 

Section 54

 

Issue of Sweat Equity Shares

 

*Sweat equity shares could be issued only after the expiry of one year from the date of commencement of business under the 2013 Act, but with the amendment, they can be issued at any time after registration of the company.

EASE OF DOING BUSINESS

Section 21

 

Authentication of documents, proceedings and contracts

 

*Apart from Key Managerial Personnel (KMP) and any officer of the company, an employee can also be authorised to authenticate documents on behalf of the company now.

 

 

 

Section 96

 

AGM

*Now, an annual general meeting (AGM) of an unlisted company can be held anywhere in India if the consent is given in writing or by electronic mode by all the members.

Section 100

 

EGM

 

*Wholly owned Subsidiary of foreign Company can hold an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) outside India. But a company other than wholly owned subsidiary of a company incorporated outside India must hold EGM at a place within India.

 

Section 197

 

Overall maximum managerial remuneration and managerial remuneration in case of absence or inadequacy of profits

 

*The approval of the Central Government shall not be required at the time of the payment of remuneration exceeding 11 per cent of the net profits of the company; earlier, this approval was required.

 

ISSUANCE OF SHARES

Section 53

 

Prohibition on issue of shares at discount

 

*Companies are to be allowed to issue shares at a discount (the words ‘discounted price’ replaced with the word ‘discount’) to its creditors when its debt is converted into shares in pursuance of any statutory resolution plan or debt restructuring scheme in accordance with any guidelines or directions or regulations specified by Reserve Bank of India under the Banking Regulation Act, 1949 or the Reserve Bank of India Act 1934.

FUNDING

Section 73

 

Prohibition on acceptance of deposits from public

 

*An amount not less than 20 per cent of the amount of deposits, maturing during the following financial year, should  be deposited on or before the 30th day of April each year and kept in a scheduled bank in a separate bank account to be called deposit repayment reserve account. Earlier, at least 15 per cent of such amount was required to be deposited and this was for amount of deposits maturing during a financial year and the financial year next following.

 

*The requirement of providing deposit insurance has been omitted.

 

*Companies which had defaulted in repayment of deposits, can now also accept deposits after a period of 5 years from the date of making good the default.

DIRECTORS

Section 149

Company to have Board of Directors

 

*Requirement related to resident director has been eased i.e. “stay in India for a total period of not less than 182 days during the financial year”. Earlier, it was calculated in reference to previous calendar year.

 

Section 165

Number of Directorship

*The directorship in a dormant company shall not be included in the limit of directorships of 20 companies.

 

Section 168

Resignation of director

Requirement of filing form DIR-11 (filing of a copy of resignation to ROC by director itself) has been made optional.

Section 167- Vacation of office of director

*In case a director incurs any of disqualifications under section 164 (2) due to default of filing of financial statements or annual return or repayment of deposits or pay interest or redemption of debentures or payment of interest thereon or payment of dividend, then he shall vacate office in all the companies other than the company which is in default.

 

*The director will not vacate office in certain cases where an appeal is preferred.

Section 185

Loan to directors, etc

A completely new section 185 has these key changes:

 

*There is complete restriction on providing loan, guarantee or security in connection with loan to any director, director of the holding company or any partner or relative of any such director or any firm in which any such director or relative in a partner.

 

*Loan to following parties is allowed subject to special resolution of shareholders and certain other prescribed conditions—

(i) any private company of which any such director is a director or member;

 

(ii) any body corporate at a general meeting of which not less than 25 per cent of the total voting power may be exercised or controlled by any such director, or by two or more such directors, together; or

 

(iii) any body corporate, the Board of directors, managing director or manager, whereof is accustomed to act in accordance with the directions or instructions of the Board, or of any director or directors, of the lending company.

 

Earlier, transactions with aforesaid categories were prohibited.

 

*Current exemption provided under section 185(1) continues to remain except that when company which in the ordinary course of its business provides loans or gives guarantees or securities for the due repayment of any loan and in respect of such loans an interest is charged at a rate not less than the rate of prevailing yield of one year, three year, five year or ten year Government security closest to the tenor of the loan. The rate of interest is clarified.

 

*Defaulting officer in the company to be penalised along with the company and director or the other person to whom any loan is advanced or guarantee or security is given.

 

Section 149

 

Company to have Board of Directors

Sub-Section (6)

*It provides for various disqualifications for becoming an independent director, one of which is, such person having ‘pecuniary relationship’ with “the company, its holding, subsidiary or associate company, or their promoters, or directors”.

The amendment clarifies that this pecuniary relationship excludes the remuneration to such director or having transaction not exceeding 10 per cent of his total income or such amount as may be prescribed.

Section 135

CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY

*Eligibility criteria for the purpose of constituting the corporate social responsibility committee and incurring expenditure towards CSR is proposed to be calculated based on immediately preceding financial year, instead of the earlier basis of preceding three financial years.

 

*Further where a company is not required to appoint an independent director, it shall have in its Corporate Social Responsibility Committee two or more directors.

AUDITORS

Section 139

Appointment of Auditors

*Requirement related to ratification of appointment of auditors by members at every annual general meeting now omitted.

 

Section 140

Removal, Resignation of Auditor and giving of special notice

*The fine in case of failure to file resignation by auditor in Form ADT-3 is reduced to fifty thousand rupees or the remuneration of auditor whichever is less.

Section 147

Punishment for contravention

*The maximum fine which can be imposed on an auditor has been revised from rupees five lakh to rupees five lakh or four times the remuneration of the auditor, whichever is less. If the auditor has contravened provisions knowingly or willfully with the intention to deceive the company etc., the amount of fine has been changed to minimum of fifty thousand rupees but which may extend to twenty-five lakh rupees or eight times the remuneration of the auditor, whichever is less.

 

*The liability of auditor who is convicted of any default, to pay the damages to any person for loss arising out of incorrect or misleading statements made in the audit report, is restricted to only members and creditors of the company. Earlier, the auditor was liable to pay damages to any person concerned.

*Where criminal liability of an audit firm, in respect of liability other than fine, is concerned, the partner or partners concerned, who acted in a fraudulent manner or abetted or, as the case may be, colluded in any fraud shall only be liable. Earlier, the criminal liability was of the partner or partners concerned of the audit firm and the firm, jointly and severally.

DISCLOSURES

Section 92

Annual Return

*An abridged form of annual return for One Person Company (‘OPC’), Small Company and such other class or classes of companies has been prescribed.

*Earlier requirement of MGT-9 i.e. extract of annual return, which forms part of the Board’s Report, has been omitted. Instead, the copy of annual return shall be uploaded on the website of the company, if any, and its link shall be disclosed in the Board’s report.

Section 134

Financial Statement, Board’s report, etc.

*Disclosures which have been provided in the financial statement shall not be required to be reproduced in the Board report again.

ADDITIONAL FEE, PENALTY and COMPOUNDING

Section 403

Fee for Filings, etc.

*The document, fact or information required to be submitted under Section 92 (Annual Return) or 137 (Copy of financial statement to be filed with Registrar of Companies) may be submitted, after expiry of the period so provided in those sections, on payment of such additional fee as may be prescribed which shall not be less than Rs. 100 per day and different amounts may be prescribed for different classes of companies

 

*Where a company fails or commits any default to submit, file, register or record any document, fact or information before the expiry of the period specified in the relevant section, the company and the officers of the company who are in default, shall, without prejudice to the liability for the payment of fee and additional fee, be liable for the penalty or punishment provided under this Act for such failure or default.

Section 441

Compounding of certain offences

National Company Law Tribunal can now compound offences punishable with fine only as well as offences punishable with fine or imprisonment. The provision has now been brought in line with section 621A of the 1956 Act. Earlier, under the Act, such offences could be compounded only by a Special Court.

 

VALUATION

Section 247

Valuation by Registered Valuers

 

Restriction on appointment of a registered valuer has been diluted by providing that the registered valuer can be appointed for valuation of an asset in which he has a direct or indirect interest or he becomes so interested during a period of three years prior to appointment as valuer or three years after valuation of assets. Earlier, restriction on appointment of registered valuer for undertaking valuation of any assets in which he had a direct or indirect interest or became so interested was without any limitation on time.

 

INSIDER TRADING AND FORWARD DEALING

Section 194 on prohibition on Forward dealings in securities of company by director or key managerial personnel and Section 195 relating to prohibition on Insider trading of securities have been omitted.

The Companies (Amendment) Act, 2017

Companies (Amendment) Act

The Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2017 received the assent of the President of India on January 3, 2018 to become the Companies (Amendment) Act, 2017 (Amendment Act).

The Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2017 was introduced in Lok Sabha on March 16, 2016 to make amendments to the Companies Act, 2013. It was referred to the Standing Committee on Finance on April 12, 2016. The committee, after hearing the views of different representatives and professionals, gave its report on November 30, 2016. After taking into consideration the recommendations of the panel, the Cabinet cleared a revised bill in March 2017. Thereafter the Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2017 was passed by the Lok Sabha on July 27, 2017 and the Rajya Sabha on December 19, 2017.

This is the second round of amendments made to the Companies Act, 2013, with the first round of amendments having been made in 2015. The Act has now over 40 revisions.

Aim of the Amendments

The Amendment Act

*seeks to strengthen corporate governance standards

*has initiated strict action against defaulting companies

*seeks to help improve ease of doing business in the country

*has addressed difficulties in implementation that existed owing to stringent compliance requirements

*has rectified omissions and inconsistencies in the Act and sought harmonisation with accounting standards (AS, the Securities and Exchange Board of India Act, 1992 and the regulations made thereunder, and the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934 and the regulations made thereunder.

Highlights and Comments

The amendments to the Company Act, 2013 have been largely welcomed as steps to facilitate ease of business and remove unnecessary formalities or even sections that are redundant. There are minor amendments such as to correct anomalies such as that arising under section 2 (46), where the term ‘company’ now  includes any ‘body corporate’. There are major changes as well such as the detailed revision of section 185 on loans to directors of companies. Many aspects have been clarified such as Section 186 (2) of the 2013 Act covering loans etc. to persons, where the word ‘person’ seemed to cover an employee; the amendment has clarified that ‘person’ does not include individuals employed by the company.

 

The attempt to remove duplication of rules and align the Act with various rules and regulations of the SEBI and the RBI have been appreciated. Importantly, Sections 194 and 195 of the Act, which dealt with insider trading and forward dealing, have now been omitted since the SEBI regulations are wide enough to cover all instances of such frauds. Further, disclosures to be made in the prospectus have also been aligned with the SEBI’s power to regulate IPOs.

The amendments have sought to rationalise the penalties on companies as a step to encourage corporate growth. The quantum of penalty will now be levied taking into consideration the size of company, nature of business, injury to public interest, nature and gravity of default, repetition of default, etc. Two new sections with respect to factors for determining the level of punishment and for lesser penalties for one person companies and small companies are inserted. Penal provisions for small companies and one person companies are reduced.

Another positive step is that the private placement process has been simplified by discarding separate offer letter details to be kept by company and by reducing number of filings to Registrar. Further, the company has been restricted from utilising  the money raised through private placement unless allotment has been made and return of allotment has been filed with the Registrar.

To ensure the investor gets adequate information about the company, the disclosures are made under Explanatory Statement referred to in Rule 13(2)(d) of Companies (Share Capital and Debenture) Rules, 2014, embodied in the Private Placement Application Form.

The definition of ‘private placement’ itself has been amended to cover all securities offer and invitations other than rights. The companies would be allowed to make offer of multiple security instruments simultaneously.

The Amendment Act further bifurcates the regulatory framework into two categories: the first contemplating certain transactions which are prohibited and another consisting of transactions which may be permitted, subject to approval of the shareholders by way of a special resolution passed at a general meeting.

Though the actual impact of the amendments can be gauged only once they are actually put into practice, there are a couple of points that have been highlighted in this regard. Though  section 149(6) has been amended, there is no change with regard to the highly onerous obligations on independent directors. They are required to take several executive responsibilities:  approve RPTs, hold one separate meeting without non-IDs attending the meeting, protect whistle blowers, safeguard the interest of all stakeholders, etc. This may pose difficulties unless addressed.

There are conflicting aspects or duplication of some requirements when other Rules and Orders are taken into account. For example, the amendment introduces a requirement for auditor’s reporting on the managerial remuneration. But the Companies (Auditor’s Report) Order 2015 already requires that an auditor report on whether managerial remuneration has been paid or provided. So there is duplication of reporting with the auditor’s report already required under the Order.

(For details on the amendments made, see section ‘Amendments to the Companies Act, 2013’)

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

 

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) provided a shared framework for global action and cooperation on development from 2000 to the end at 2015. Ahead of the MDG deadlines, the Open Working Group (OWG) for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agreed upon a proposed set at 17 sustainable development goals for the post-2015 era. Intergovernmental negotiations began in January 2015 and, in September 2015, the UNGA adopted its new development agenda.

Sustainable Development Goals  SDGs  and Targets

  • Goal 1. End poverty in all its terms everywhere
  • Goal 2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture
  • Goal 3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all, at all ages , By 2030 reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births.
  • Goal 4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all
  • Goal 5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
  • Goal 6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
  • Goal 7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy services for all
  • Goal 8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
  • Goal 9. Build resilient infrastructure. promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
  • Goal 10. Reduce inequality within and among countries
  • Goal 11. make cities and human settlements Inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
  • Goal 12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
  • Goal 13.Take urgent action to combat climate change and Its Impacts (acknowledging that the UNFCCC is the primary international. intergovernmental forum for negotiating the global response to climate change)
  • Goal 14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
  • Goal 15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, and halt biodiversity loss
  • Goal 16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
  • Goal 17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development
  1. Finance
  • Strengthen domestic resource mobilisation. including through international support to developing countries to improve domestic capacity for tax and other revenue collection.
  • Developed countries to implement fully their ODA commitments, including provision of 0.7 per cent of GNI in ODA to developing countries of which 0.15-0.20 per cent would be to least-developed countries.
  • Mobilise additional financial resources for developing countries from multiple sources.
  • Assist developing countries in attaining long-term debt sustainability through coordinated policies aimed at fostering debt financing, debt relief and debt restructuring. as appropriate, and address the external debt of highly indebted poor countries (HIPC) to reduce debt distress.
  • Adopt and implement investment promotion regimes for LDCs.

2.Technology

  • Enhance North-South, South-South and triangular regional and international cooperation on and access to science, technology and innovation, and enhance knowledge sharing on mutually agreed terms, including through improved coordination among existing mechanisms, particularly at UN level, and through a global technology facilitation mechanism when it is agreed upon.
  • Promote development, transfer, dissemination and diffusion of environmentally sound technologies to developing countries on favourable terms, including on concessional and preferential terms, as mutually agreed upon.
  • Fully operationailse the technology bank and STI (science, technology and innovation) capacity building mechanism for LDCs by 2017, and enhance the use oi enabling technologies in particular ICT.

3.Capacity Building

  • Enhance international support for implementing effective and targeted capacity building in developing countries to support national plans to implement all sustainable development goals,including through North South, South-South and triangular cooperation.

4.Trade

  • Promote a universal, ruins-based. open, non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system under the WT 0 including through the conclusion ot negotiations within its Doha Development Agenda.
  • increase significantly the exports cl developing countries, in particular with a view to doubling the LDC share at global exports by 2020.
  • Realise timely implementation at duty-tree, quota free market see as on a lasting basis for all least developed countries consistent with WTO decisions, including through ensuring that preferential rules of origin applicable to imports from LDCs are transparent and simple, and contribute to facilitating market access.

5.Systemic issues

  • Policy and institutional coherence
  • Enhance global macroeconomic stability including through policy coordination and policy coherence.
  • Enhance policy coherence tor sustainable development.
  • Respect each country’s policy space and leadership to establish and implement policies tor poverty eradication and sustainable development.

6.Muti-stakeholder partnerships

  • Enhance the global partnership for sustainable development complemented by mule-stakeholder partnerships that mobilize and share knowledge, expertise, technologies and financial resources to support the achievement at sustainable development goals in all countries, particularly developing countries.
  • Encourage and promote effective public, public-private, and civil society partnerships, building on the experience and resourcing strategies at partnerships.

7.Data, monitoring and accountability

  • By 2020, enhance capacity building support to developing countries, including for DCs and SIDS, to increase significantly the availability of high-quality,timely and reliable data disaggregated by income, gender, age, race, ethnicity, migratory status, disability, geographic location and other characteristics relevant in national contexts.
  • By 2030 build on existing initiatives to develop measurements of progress on sustainable development that complement GDP, and support statistical capacity building in developing countries.

Sustainable Development Goals Adopted at the 70th UN Session

  • The heads of states and governments and high representatives, met at the United Nations headquarters in New York from September 25-27, 2015 as the organization celebrated its seventieth anniversary and it was at this session that the UN adopted the new global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • The UN on September 25, 2015 announced 17 Sustainable Development Goals with 169 associated targets which are integrated and indivisible. For the first time, the world leaders pledged common action and endeavor across such a broad and universal policy agenda.
  • The new goals and targets were to come into effect on January 1, 2016 and will guide the decisions of the UN over the next fifteen years. All countries will work towards achieving the goals, taking into account their respective national capabilities.
  • The UN with the new SDGs has set a supremely ambitious and transformational Vision. lt envisages a world free of poverty, hunger, disease and wart, where all life can thrive.
  • The UN envisages a world of universal respect for human rights and human dignity; the rule of law, justice, equality and non-discrimination; of respect for race,ethnicity and cultural diversity; and of equal opportunity permitting the full realization of human potential and contributing to shared prosperity.
  • The UN envisages a world in which every country enjoys sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth and decent work for all.
  • The new agenda is guided by the purposes and principles of the charter of the United Nations, including full respect for international law. It is grounded in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, international human right treaties, the Millennium Declaration and the 2005 World Summit Outcome document.
  • The UN reaffirmed the outcomes of all major UN conferences and summits which have laid a solid foundation for sustainable development and have helped to shape the new agenda. These include the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development; the World Summit on Sustainable Development; the World Summit for Social Development, the Programme of Action of the international Conference on Population and Development ,the Beijing Platform for action. and the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio-+20).
  • The scale and ambition of the new agenda requires a revitalized global partnership to ensure its implementation. This partnership will work in a spirit of global solidarity, in particular, solidarity with the poorest and with people constituting the vulnerable sections of the society.
  • The UN supports the implementation of relevant strategies and programmes of action, including the Istanbul Declaration and Programme of Action, the SlDS Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA) Pathway, the Vienna Programme of Action for Landlocked Developing Countries for the decade 2014-2024, and reaffirms the importance of supporting the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the programme of the New Pantnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), all of which are integral to the new agenda.

Follow-up and Review The countries have the primary responsibility for follow-up and review, at the national, regional and global levels, in relation to the progress made in implementing the goals and targets over the next fifteen years. The high-level political forum under the auspices of the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council will have the central role in overseeing follow-up and review at the global level.

SDGs and MDGs

SDGs go far beyond the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Alongside continuing development priorities such as poverty eradication, health, education and food security and nutrition, they set out a wide range of economic, social and environmental objectives.

SPECTRUM’S HANDBOOK FOR GENERAL STUDIES PAPER – II (2017 EDITION)

 

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