|81.||IIT Researchers develops bioartificial implantable pancreas|
Researchers from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Guwahati have successfully created an implantable bioartificial pancreas model grown within 3D silk scaffold.
The bioartificial pancreas encapsulates insulin-producing beta cells, capable of naturally producing insulin in sustained manner. If successful in animal and human trials, it can be used for treating people with Type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes arises when the body’s immune system kills the insulin-producing beta cells.
The 3D silk scaffold was found to be biocompatible (not toxic to living tissue) as it did not trigger any immune reaction or cause any adverse reaction after implanted. It was made porous by using salt grains of specific size to dissolve the silk proteins. These pores were 400-500 micrometre in size which allowed glucose and oxygen to enter scaffold and insulin released by beta cells with greater survival rate to enter bloodstream.
The scaffold containing beta cells was coated with a semi-permeable membrane barrier. The membrane allowed insulin produced to be released into blood stream and does not allow immune cells to cross membrane and kill the islet cells.
To ensure that the implant is not rejected by the body’s immune system, drugs that suppress the immune system were embedded in the scaffold. Studies carried in lab showed that beta cells in scaffold were able to produce adequate amount of insulin in response to different glucose levels within a few seconds.
|82.||Cabinet approves MoU between India-Brazil for cooperation in Zebu Cattle Genomics and ARTs|
The Union Cabinet has apprised Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between India and Brazil in October 2016 for cooperation in fields of Zebu Cattle Genomics and Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ARTs).
The MoU aims to strengthen existing friendly relations between both countries and promote development of Genomics and ARTs in Cattle through joint activities to be implemented through mutually agreed procedures.
The MoU will promote and facilitate scientific cooperation and setting up of genomic selection programme in Zebu Cattle through (i) application of genomic in Zebu Cattle and their crosses and buffaloes (ii) application of ARTs in cattle and buffaloes (iii) capacity building in genomic and ART (iv) Related R&D in Genomics and ART in accordance with respective laws and regulations of two countries. It is covered under Rule 7 (d) (i) of 2nd Schedule of Government of India (Transaction of Business) Rules, 1961.
An implementation committee will be constituted with an equal number of representatives from both countries for purpose of regularly determining activities and developing work plans and subsequently their evaluation. It will be done through joint projects in fields of Productivity Improvement of buffaloes and cattle, for purpose of broadening existing knowledge base on sustainable dairy development and institutional strengthening.
Zebu Cattle (also known as indicine cattle or humped cattle), is a species or subspecies of domestic cattle originating in Indian subcontinent. They are characterised by fatty hump on their shoulders, a large dewlap, and sometimes drooping ears. They are well adapted to withstanding high temperatures, and are farmed throughout tropical countries. They are used as dairy cattle, draught oxen and beef cattle.
|83.||Cabinet approves promulgation of GST (Compensation to States) Ordinance, 2017|
The Union Cabinet has given its approval to the proposal of Union Finance Ministry to promulgate an ordinance to suitably amend the Goods and Services Tax (Compensation to States) Act, 2017.
The approval will allow GST Council to hike the maximum rate of compensation cess levied from the current cap of 15% to 20%. The ordinance will amend Schedule of Section 8 of the GST (Compensation to a State) Act, 2017.
It will be only an “enabling Ordinance” and the decision to increase the compensation cess will be taken by the GST Council, the apex tax rate setting body under the GST regime. The hike in rate of compensation cess will be levied on SUVs, mid-sized, large and luxury cars. It should be noted that compensation cess is applicable not just to cars but also tobacco and coal. It is used to form corpus for compensating the states which experience tax revenue loss post-GST.
In the new GST regime, cars attract the top tax rate of 28%. On top of this, compensation cess of 1-15% is levied for the creation of the state compensation corpus. The post introduction of GST, the total incidence tax on motor vehicles [GST Compensation Cess] has come down vis-a-vis pre-GST total tax incidence, making these SUVs, mid-sized, large and luxury cars cheaper post GST rollout. To rectify the anomaly, the GST Council, comprising of representatives of all states, had recommended that the Central government move legislative amendments required for increasing the cess.
|84.||Cabinet approves MoU on India-Israel Industrial R&D and Technological Innovation Fund|
The Union Cabinet approved Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to set up US $40 million India-Israel Industrial R&D and Technological Innovation Fund (I4F). The MoU was signed in July, 2017 during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Israel.
India and Israel will make contribution of US $4 million (Rs.25 crore) each for Fund, both equivalent amount, annually for 5 years. The fund will be governed by joint Board which will consist of 4 members from each country.
The MoU envisages promotion of bilateral Industrial R&D and Innovation cooperation between both countries in fields of science and technology by extending support to joint projects for innovative or technology-driven new or improved products, processes or services.
Such collaborative projects will lead to affordable technological innovations in focus areas of mutual interest such as agriculture, water, energy and digital technologies. These projects will also provide institutional support in building up consortia including private industry, enterprises and R&D institutions from India and Israel.
The activities supported by the Joint I4F Fund will increase the techno-economic collaboration between both countries by investing in jointly developed technology projects and collaborations based on technological innovation.
It will encourage Israel-Indian joint projects that capitalize on both the national and global marketplace. It will provide a comprehensive set of support tools to encourage joint projects. It will foster and strengthen eco-system of innovation and techno-entrepreneurship in India and will contribute directly to the Start-up India programme.
|85.||NITI Aayog proposes Judicial Performance Index for lower judiciary|
The premier government think tank National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog has suggested establishment of a judicial performance index (JPI) to check delay in finalisation of cases in lower judiciary.
It was suggested as part of ‘Three Year Action Agenda (2017-20) recommendations for far-reaching reforms to expedite justice delivery system, particularly lower courts where nearly 3 crore cases have been pending for years.
Judicial performance index (JPI)
Establishing of JPI will help the high courts and its chief justices to keep track ofperformance and process improvement at district courts and subordinate levels for reducing delay. It can also include certain progress on process steps that have already been approved by high courts, like removing burden of day-to-day activity of judges and giving it to administrative officials.
The process of calculating index will require fixing non-mandatory time frames for different types of cases. Using existing infrastructure and data, index’s indicators can be created to check duration of pendency of case along with percentage of cases that have been delayed and how many cases were disposed in previous year compared to the year before.
Separate administrative cadre: Establishing separate administrative cadre in judicial system to reduce workload on judges. This cadre should report to Chief Justice in each high court to maintain judicial independence.
Use of automation and ICT: High priority should be given to automation process in courts and use of information and communication technology for e-court and case management, including e-management of court schedules and migration of all courts to unified national court application software.
Online real time judicial statistics: Steps should be taken for ensuring availability of online real time judicial statistics for determining the adequacy of judicial manpower and infrastructure to deal with work load of cases. It will enable priority appointment of judges at lower judiciary levels keeping in mind a scientific approach to assessing number of judges needed to tackle pendency problem.
Internationally developed measures: Government must look into and adopt internationally developed measures such as ‘global measures of court performance’, created jointly by Australasian Institute of Judicial Administration, Federal Judicial Center (US), National Center for State Courts (US) and Subordinate Courts of Singapore.
|86.||Government to release new industrial policy|
The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) under the Commerce and Industry Ministry is going to release a new industrial policy by October 2017. It is expected to replace National Manufacturing Policy (NMP) released in 2011
The new policy aims at making India a manufacturing hub by promoting ‘Make in India’ with focus on encouraging Indian branded products with higher value addition. It will also review the existing foreign direct investment (FDI) policy regime to facilitate greater technology transfer.
Features of New policy
The proposed policy will aim to set clear vision for role of industry and industrial growth in growth and development of economy. It will be comprehensive, actionable, outcome-oriented policy that will enable industry to deliver a larger role in economy and fulfil its role as engine of growth and add more value and jobs.
DIPP has adopted consultative approach for formulating industrial policy by setting up six thematic focus groups. These six thematic areas are Manufacturing and MSME, Technology and Innovation, Infrastructure, Investment, Trade and Fiscal Policy, Ease of Doing Business and Skills and Employability for Future.
The policy will aim to attract $100 billion of FDI in a year, up from $60 billion in 2016-17. It will also aim at retaining investments and accessing technology. It will also ensure that it facilitates greater technology transfer, leverages strategic linkages and innovation.
It will incorporate measures to facilitate use of smart technologies such as the internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics for advanced manufacturing. A task force constituted on artificial intelligence under the chairmanship of V. Kamakoti will also provide inputs for the policy
The policy will aim to harness existing strengths in sectors like automobiles and auto-components, electronics, new and renewable energy, banking, software and tourism, and create globally scaled-up and commercially viable sectors such as waste management, medical devices, renewable energy, green technologies, financial services to achieve competitiveness.
The policy will also push for reforms to enhance labour market flexibility with an aim for higher job creation in the formal sector and performance linked tax incentives. It will also take into consideration changing economic and business cycles of world and Indian economy, geopolitical trends and broad policy directions in country.
|87.||Delhi Police launches YUVA – a skill development programme|
The Delhi Police has launched YUVA – a skill development programme under Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY). It was inaugurated by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh.
The ‘YUVA’ initiative aims to connect with youth by upgrading their skill as per their competencies. It will help youths to get gainful employment under PMKVY. It will also play important role in building up confidence and faith of youths in police organization.
For implementing YUVA initiative, Delhi Police has tied up with National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) to provide mass job linked skill training for selected youth. NSDC role will of providing skill training to youth under PMKVY and CII will provide job linked training through its Sector Skill Councils which are connected to industry to provide job guarantee.
The youth in age group of 17-25 years were selected by Delhi Police for this training based on detailed exercise conducted in all 13 districts under its jurisdiction. These youths belong to categories such as school dropouts, victims of crimes, Juvenile offenders and families in dire state mostly from the underprivileged colonies. So far, 2,269 candidates were selected to be trained by 36 training partners in 45 skills. 32 police station buildings of Delhi Police have been identified where Skill Development Centres would be opened at the earliest.
Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY)
PMKVY is flagship Skill Certification Scheme of Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE) launched in July 2015. Its objective is to enable a large number of Indian youth to take up industry-relevant skill training that will help them in securing a better livelihood.
Under this Scheme, individuals with prior learning experience or skills are also assessed and certified under Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). Government will pay complete training and assessment fees. The training includes soft skills, personal grooming, behavioural change.
It is implemented through the national skill development corporation (NSDC). Skill training is based on the national skill qualification framework (NSQF) and industry led standards.
|88.||Government clears 100% strategic sale of CEL|
The Union Government (Department of Investment and Public Asset Management) has approved a 100% disinvestment through strategic sale along with transfer of management control of Central Electronics Ltd. (CEL).
CEL was incorporated as CPSE in 1974 under the administrative control of Ministry of Science and Technology. It is wholly owned by the government and has a net worth of Rs. 50.34 crore as on March 2017.
The government is planning to engage an advisor from a consulting firm, investment banker or financial institution or merchant banker for providing advisory services and managing the disinvestment process.
The strategic disinvestment of CEL will take place through new alternative mechanism which was approved by the cabinet committee on economic affairs (CCEA) in August 2017. The alternative mechanism was approved for pursuing the government’s strategic sale disinvestment programme. This mechanism comprise of finance minister, minister for road transport & highways and the minister for the concerned administrative ministry.
In Strategic disinvestment, significant proportion of a Public Sector Unit’s (PSU) share and the management control goes to a private sector which is as strategic partner. It is different from the ordinary disinvestment in which management of PSU is retained with Government.
|89.||West Bengal’s Gobindobhog rice gets geographical indication status|
The Geographical Indications Registry (GIR) has granted geographical indication (GI) status to Gobindobhog rice, a speciality from Burdwan district of West Bengal. The state government had applied for GI status for Gobindobhog rice in August 2015.
Gobindobhog variety of rice is a short grain, white, aromatic, sticky rice having a sweet buttery flavor. It derives its name from principal ingredient usage in preparation of offerings to Govindajiu, the family deity of Setts of Kolkata.
It is primarily cultivated in east Burdwan district – in southern basin of Damodar River in Raina 1, Raina 2 and Khandaghosh blocks. Burdwan region (now divided into districts of east and west Burdwan) is known as the rice bowl of Bengal. The south Damodar belt is traditional area of Gobindobhog rice cultivation.
The rice variety has several advantages. It is cultivated late and therefore not much affected by rains. Its productivity per area is high and so farmers get better prices for Gobindobhog rice. It is less prone to pests as well.
As a result of getting the GI tag, rice produced from other regions or rice of other varieties cannot be branded as ‘Gobindobhog’. It will also strengthen marketability of this rice in the local, national and international markets.
About Geographical Indication (GI)
GI tag is an insignia on products having a unique geographical origin and evolution over centuries with regards to its special quality or reputation attributes. The status to the products marks its authenticity and ensures that registered authorised users are allowed to use the popular product name.
It is covered as an element of intellectual property rights (IPRs) under Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property. At international level, GI is governed by WTO’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).
In India, GI registration is governed by the Geographical Indications of goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 which came into force in September 2003. It is granted by Chennai based GIR. Darjeeling tea was the first product to accorded with GI tag in India.
Benefits of GI Status: (i) Legal protection to the products (ii) Prevents unauthorised use of a GI tag products by others (iii) Helps consumers to get quality products of desired traits (iv) Promotes economic prosperity of producers of GI tag goods by enhancing their demand in national and international markets.
|90.||Government to launch Deep Ocean Mission|
The Union Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) is going to launch Deep Ocean Mission by January 2018 to spur research activities in ocean science and develop technology to harness ocean resources.
The proposed inter-ministerial and interdisciplinary project aims to explore and harness mineral resources beneath the ocean floor.
India has 7,500 km of coastline and 2.4 million square km of exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The oceans along Indian peninsula contain enormous opportunities in energy, food, medicine and a host of other natural resources. China has been working on a deep sea mission for mining mineral deposits in the Indian and Pacific oceans.
Deep Ocean Mission
The mission is intended to harness ocean resources in responsible way and play important transformative role in prosperity and security of the nation. It will also seek to create jobs and business opportunities in ocean science. It will not only involve the MoES, but also departments of other ministries like science and technology and the biotechnology etc.