Draft e-commerce policy

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The government has released the draft e-commerce policy. The policy focuses on six broad issues of the e-commerce sector, which includes
  • data,
  • infrastructure development,
  • e-commerce marketplaces,
  • regulatory issues,
  • stimulating domestic digital economy and
  • export promotion through e-commerce.
Features of the Policy
The important features of the policy are:
  • Every e-commerce company will have to construct a registered business entity in India as the importer on record or as the entity through which all sales in India are transacted. This is aimed at ensuring compliance with extant laws and regulations for preventing deceptive and fraudulent practices, protection of privacy, safety and security.
  • e-commerce companies are mandated to disclose seller details such as their name, address and contact numbers. Sellers will also be required to provide an undertaking to the platform on the genuineness of their products.
  • Trademark (TM) owners will be given an option to register themselves with e-commerce platforms and whenever a trade-marked product is uploaded for sale on the platform, the platform shall notify the respective TM owner.
  • The policy says that framework will be created to provide the basis for imposing restrictions on cross-border data flow from specified sources including data collected by IoT devices installed in public space, and data generated by users in India by various sources, including e-commerce platforms, social media, search engines.
  • The policy grants data the status of the capital. The policy imposes conditions on a business entity that collects or processes any sensitive data in India and stores it abroad.
  • The conditions state that all such data stored abroad shall not be made available to other business entities outside India, for any purpose, even with customer consent.
  • The policy further stipulates that the data shall not be shared with a foreign government, without the prior permission of Indian authorities.
  • The policy calls for a Suitable framework for sharing of community data that serve the larger public interest (subject to addressing privacy-related issues) with start-ups and firms. The implementation of this shall be undertaken by a ‘data authority’ to be established for this purpose.
  • The policy stresses on developing physical infrastructure for a robust digital economy and suggests steps for developing the capacity for data storage in India.
  • The policy aims to invite and encourage foreign direct investment (FDI) in the marketplace model alone.
  • The policy mandates the online marketplaces not to adopt business models or strategies which are discriminatory and which favour one or few sellers/traders operating on their platforms over others, the draft clarifies. The policy also enlists certain steps which have to be followed by all e-commerce websites/applications.
  • On the issue of taxation related issues in the sector, the draft policy mentions the current practice of not imposing customs duties on electronic transmissions must be reviewed in the light of the changing digital economy and the increased role that additive manufacturing is expected to take.
  • On export promotion through e-commerce, the policy states that there is a need to incentivise and reduce administrative requirements for outbound shipments through this medium.
  • The policy calls to raise the cap of each export order placed online and dispatched through courier or postal mode from current 25000 to make Indian e-commerce exports attractive even for high-value shipments through courier mode.

POSHAN Abhiyaan : Analysis

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POSHAN Abhiyan:
  • POSHAN Abhiyaan (National Nutrition Mission) is a flagship programme of the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
  • The Mission is aimed at improving the nutritional status of Children from 0-6 years, Adolescent Girls, Pregnant Women and Lactating Mothers in a time bound manner during the next three years beginning 2017-18.
  • The Abhiyan aims to achieve convergence with various programmes i.e., Anganwadi Services, Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana, Scheme for Adolescent Girls, Janani Suraksha Yojana, National Health Mission, Swachh-Bharat Mission, Public Distribution System, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.
Analysis:
  • Poshan Abhiyaan which focuses on reducing stunting, under-nutrition and anaemia in women and adolescents through direct cash transfers is a massive step towards eradicating malnutrition.
  • Poshan Abhiyaan has got global recognition for its effort to eradicate malnutrition.
  • Cash transfers under the mission provide an additional support to the family income.
  • The whole issue of malnutrition requires concrete action starting from the grassroot level at households as well as the community level.
  • The first and the most important step for reducing malnutrition in India is providing sufficient nutrition to pregnant and lactating mothers. The child then automatically is at much less risk of being malnourished.

Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)

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Established
26th September, 1942
Chairperson
Prime Minister of India
HQ : New Delhi
About: 
  • It is an autonomous body and the largest research and development (R&D) organisation in India – running 37 laboratories and 39 field stations or extension centres.
  • Although it is mainly funded by the Ministry of Science and Technology, it operates as an autonomous body registered under the Registration of Societies Act, 1860.
  • The research and development activities of CSIR includes aerospace engineering, Structural engineering, ocean sciences, Life sciences, metallurgy, chemicals, mining, food, petroleum, leather, and environment.

Inclusive Internet Index (III) 2019

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  • India is ranked 47/100 countries
  • In 2018 also India was at 47th rank.
  • It provides rigorous benchmark of national-level Internet inclusion across four categories: Availability, Affordability, Relevance and Readiness.
  • Report is prepared by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) for Facebook.

Balakot Airstrikes

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Context:
  • Indian Air Force (IAF) has struck against Jaish-e-Mohammed camp in Balakot of Pakistan occupied Kashmir in the pre-dawn hours of 26th February 2019.
  • Mirage-2000 fighter jets were used to drop explosives on these training camps.
  • A dozen Mirage-2000 fighter jets used to carry out the attack were escorted by four Sukhoi Su-30 aircraft.
  • Phalcon Airborne Warning and Control System of Israel and the indigenous Netra Airborne Early Warning and Control System Aircraft (AEW&C) aircraft were deployed to monitor the mission.
Highlights of the statement by the Ministry of External Affairs
  • A suicide terror attack was conducted by a Pakistan-based terrorist organization Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) which led to the martyrdom of 40 brave jawans of the CRPF.
  • The terrorist organisation JeM has been active in Pakistan for the last two decades and is led by Masood Azhar with its headquarters in Bahawalpur.
  • JeM has been responsible for a series of terrorist attacks including on the Indian Parliament in December 2001 and the Pathankot airbase in January 2016.
  • Even though India provided location of training camps in Pakistan from time to time, Pakistan continued to deny their existence and Pakistan has taken no concrete actions to dismantle infrastructure of terrorism on its soil.
  • The existence of such massive training facilities capable of training hundreds of jihadis could not have functioned without the knowledge of Pakistan authorities.
  • India has struck biggest training camp of JeM in Balakot. A large number of JeM terrorists, trainers, senior commanders and groups of jihadis who were being trained for fidayeen action were eliminated. This facility at Balakot was headed by Maulana Yousuf Azhar (alias Ustad Ghouri), brother-in-law of Masood Azhar, chief of JeM.

ICJ judgement on Diego Garcia island

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Context:
  • International Court of Justice (ICJ) has advised the UK to return the Diego Garcia (Chagos Islands) to Mauritius as soon as possible.
  • The advisory has been issued by the ICJ on the request of the resolution passed by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) to look into the issue.
Observations made by ICJ
  • In a majority opinion the court noted that the decolonisation of Mauritius was not lawfully complete when it attained independence because Britain carved away the Chagos Archipelago from it and retained control over it.
  • Britain is under an obligation to bring to an end its administration of the Chagos Archipelago as rapidly as possible.
Why the Chagos Islands had become the bone of contention?
  • Mauritius was a colony of erstwhile British Empire.
  • When the calls of decolonisation grew stronger, the British granted independence to the Island nation Mauritius.
  • But Britain cut off the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius in 1965 before granting it independence in 1968.
  • Also, the residents of the Chagos Archipelago were forcibly removed and the Chagos Archipelago was handed over to the US.
  • The US established its strategic Indian Ocean military base at the Chagos Archipelago.
Response of US and UK:
  • Both the UK and the US had vehemently opposed the UN resolution which referred the matter to ICJ saying it was a bilateral matter with Mauritius.
  • UK is not represented in the ICJ Bench and the sole dissent judgement was by the American Judge. Hence it is unlikely that the UK would accept the advisory.
  • The possibility of any challenge to the US Diego Garcia base from Mauritius is also unlikely. Hence by and large status quo would be maintained.

    Context:
    • International Court of Justice (ICJ) has advised the UK to return the Diego Garcia (Chagos Islands) to Mauritius as soon as possible.
    • The advisory has been issued by the ICJ on the request of the resolution passed by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) to look into the issue.
    Observations made by ICJ
    • In a majority opinion the court noted that the decolonisation of Mauritius was not lawfully complete when it attained independence because Britain carved away the Chagos Archipelago from it and retained control over it.
    • Britain is under an obligation to bring to an end its administration of the Chagos Archipelago as rapidly as possible.
    Why the Chagos Islands had become the bone of contention?
    • Mauritius was a colony of erstwhile British Empire.
    • When the calls of decolonisation grew stronger, the British granted independence to the Island nation Mauritius.
    • But Britain cut off the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius in 1965 before granting it independence in 1968.
    • Also, the residents of the Chagos Archipelago were forcibly removed and the Chagos Archipelago was handed over to the US.
    • The US established its strategic Indian Ocean military base at the Chagos Archipelago.
    Response of US and UK:
    • Both the UK and the US had vehemently opposed the UN resolution which referred the matter to ICJ saying it was a bilateral matter with Mauritius.
    • UK is not represented in the ICJ Bench and the sole dissent judgement was by the American Judge. Hence it is unlikely that the UK would accept the advisory.
    • The possibility of any challenge to the US Diego Garcia base from Mauritius is also unlikely. Hence by and large status quo would be maintained.

Scheme for Higher Education Youth in Apprenticeship and Skills (SHREYAS)

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Ministry/Department : Ministry of Human Resource and Development, Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, and the Ministry of Labour and Employment.
Program:
  • SHREYAS will primarily focus towards students from non-technical courses.
  • It will introduce employable skills into their learning.
  • It will provide a platform wherein educational institutions and industry would log in and provide their respective demand and supply of apprenticeship.
  • The programme promotes apprenticeship as an important part of education and integrates the government’s employment building efforts into the education system.
  • These apprenticeship courses will be available to them from academic year April-May, 2019.
  • SHREYAS is a major effort in the direction to make degree students more skilled, capable, employable and aligned to the needs of our economy so that they contribute to country’s progress and also obtain gainful employment.

MSP for MFP

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MSP for MFP
  • Minimum Support Price Scheme (MSP) for Minor Forest Produce (MFP) is a centrally-sponsored scheme aimed to ensure fair and remunerative price to MFP gatherers.
  • The scheme is officially known as ‘Mechanism for marketing of Minor Forest Produce (MFP) through Minimum Support Price (MSP) and development of value chain for MFP’ was planned as a social safety initiative for MFP gatherers.
  • The MSP for MFP scheme was first launched in 2013 but the severe gaps in its implementation led to the programme remaining dormant.
  • To revitalize the programme the revised guidelines have been issued. The revised guidelines:
    • Provide for a revised MSP in the range of 30-40% on average.
    • The procurement of these MFPs will commence in haat bazars, where tribals bring their produce with the facilitation provided by state government agencies and district collectors.
    • Lay down a decentralised implementation framework.
  • The implementing agency TRIFED has asked the states to submit within 45 days their roadmap for procurement and marketing of produce from the village level to the state level
Van Dhan Scheme:
  • For the value addition of MFPs, better marketing opportunities under the Van Dhan Scheme was launched last year.
  • The Tribal Affairs Ministry is now planning to scale up this scheme to all tribal districts.
  • The Ministry has asked the state government to prepare and share plan to set up the Van Dhan centres meant to value add to forest produce to boost the market for products made from MFPs.

Pradhan Mantri JI-VAN Yojana

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Ministry: Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas
Aims to provide financial support to Integrated Bioethanol Projects using lignocellulosic biomass and other renewable feedstock.
Pradhan Mantri JI-VAN
  • The scheme aims to incentivise 2G Ethanol sector and support this nascent industry by creating a suitable ecosystem for setting up commercial projects and increasing Research & Development in this area.
  • Under the scheme  12 Commercial Scale and 10 demonstration scale Second Generation (2G) ethanol Projects will be provided with a Viability Gap Funding (VGF) support in two phases:
  • Phase-I (2018-19 to 2022-23): Six commercial projects and five demonstration projects will be supported.
  • Phase-II (2020-21 to 2023-24): Six commercial projects and five demonstration projects will be supported.
  • The ethanol produced by the scheme beneficiaries will be mandatorily supplied to Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) to further enhance the blending percentage under the ethanol blending programme.
Objectives of the Scheme
  • Accomplishing the Government of India vision to reduce import dependence by way of substituting fossil fuels with Biofuels.
  • Meeting of the GHG emissions reduction targets through progressive blending/ substitution of fossil fuels.
  • Addressing environmental concerns caused due to the burning of biomass/ crop residues & to improve the health of citizens.
  • Augmenting the farmer’s income by providing them remunerative income for their otherwise waste agriculture residues.
  • Creation of rural & urban employment opportunities in 2G Ethanol projects and Biomass supply chain.
  • Complementing the Swacch Bharat Mission by supporting the aggregation of non­food biofuel feedstocks such as waste biomass and urban waste.
  • Indigenizing of Second Generation Biomass to Ethanol technologies.
The government has set the target to achieve 10% blending percentage of Ethanol in petrol by 2022. The challenges like higher ethanol prices and simplification of the ethanol purchase system have become a hindrance. The highest ever ethanol procurement stood at around 150 crore litres during 2017-18 which is sufficient for around 4.22% blending on Pan India basis.
Hence to create 2G Ethanol capacity in the country and attract investments in this new sector Pradhan Mantri JI-VAN Yojana has been launched by the government.

Public Financial Management System (PFMS)

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What is PFMS?
  • PFMS is an electronic fund tracking mechanism
  • It compiles, collates and makes available in real-time, information regarding all government schemes.
  • Besides, it will significantly provide government real-time information on resource availability and utilisation across schemes.
  • In addition it allow government expenditure to adopt a Just-in- Time (JIT) approach, with payments made only when they are needed.
How will it benefit government?
  • It aims at promoting transparency and bringing about tangible improvements in overall Central Government Financial Management as well as implementation of various Central Government Schemes across the country.
  • The PFMS aims to help in complete tracking and monitoring flow of funds to implementing agencies and ensuring timely transfer of funds.
  • It will help government to ascertain actual status of utilization of funds by multiple implementing agencies of central and the state governments.
  • It will also cut need for paper work and in long way help in monitoring and tracking of any unnecessary parking of funds by implementing agencies, thus minimising cases of delay and pending payments to large extent.
  • It will help to plug leakages in system and help to manage and maintain data that government can use to develop more scientific approach.
  • The Public Financial Management System (PFMS) after implemented on full scale will help Union Government to save a significant amount on interest costs.
  • It will allow the government to monitor and access more than Rs.1 lakh crore of idle funds lying with it under various heads.
  • Once government access these funds through PFMS, it does not need to borrow that amount.
  • It will be integrated with IT network of the GST.
Why in news?
Government has made use of PFMS mandatory for Central Schemes.
NOTE: Mention PFMS while analysing various schemes.