SMALL SAVINGS INSTRUMENTS
The government has sharply slashed the rates on all small savings instruments for the first quarter of 2021-22.
- It has brought the rate of return on the Public Provident Fund down from 7.1% to 6.4% and effecting cuts ranging from 40 basis points (0.4%) to 110 basis points (1.1%) through a notification.
- The sharpest cut was seen in the quarterly interest rate paid on one-year term deposits, from 5.5% in the January to March quarter to 4.4% in this quarter.
- The rate of return on the Senior Citizen Savings’ Scheme was cut from 7.4% to 6.5%, while the Sukanya Samriddhi Account Scheme’s return was reduced from 7.6% to 6.9%.
- The interest rate paid on National Savings Certificate and Kisan Vikas Patra were also reduced significantly, from 6.8% to 5.9%, and from 6.9% to 6.2%, respectively. Consequently, the Kisan Vikas Patra, which used to mature in 124 months, will now mature in 138 months.
- While savings deposits earned the lowest rate of 4% till now, that return has now been further slashed to 3.5%. Among time deposits, the return on five year deposits has been reduced from 6.7% to 5.8%.
- For savers, the option with the highest returns at this point is the Sukanya Samriddhi Account Scheme, followed by the Senior Citizens’ Savings Schemes and the Public Provident Fund.
Important Info :
- While the government resets the interest rate on small savings instruments every quarter, this round of rate cuts assumes significance as the government is keen to lower interest rates to make it easier to execute its borrowing plans for the year and spur growth.
- The government plans to borrow ₹12.05 lakh crore in 2021-22, on the back of a record gross borrowing of ₹13.71 lakh crore in 2020-21.
- High small savings rates have been cited by the central bank as a major impediment in ensuring policy rate cuts get transmitted into the banking system.
Indian Army Formally Closes Down Military Farms.
- Military Farms were set up with sole requirement of supplying hygienic cow’s milk to troops billeted in various garrisons across British India.
- First Military farm was raised on 01 Feb 1889 at Allahabad.
- After independence Military Farms flourished with 30,000 heads of cattle in 130 Military Farms all over India. Military Farms were even established in Leh and Kargil in late 1990s, with the role of supply of fresh and hygienic milk to troops at their locations on daily basis.
- Another major task was management of large tracts of defence land, production and supply of Baled Hay to animal holding units.
- Military Farms are credited with pioneering the technique of Artificial Insemination of cattle and introduction of organised Dairying in India.
- In collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, they established “Project Freiswal”, credited to be the world’s largest cattle cross-breeding program.
- They also teamed up with DRDO in development of Bio-Fuel.
- After 132 years of glorious service to the nation, curtains were drawn on this organisation.
ARTICLE 244(A) OF THE CONSTITUTION
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi promised to implement Article 244 (A) of the Constitution to safeguard the interests of the people in Assam’s tribal-majority districts.
- Article 244(A) allows for creation of an ‘autonomous state’ within Assam in certain tribal areas.
- Inserted into the Constitution in 1969, it also has a provision for a Legislature and a Council of Ministers.
Important Info :
How is it different from the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution?
- The Sixth Schedule of the Constitution — Articles 244(2) and 275(1) — is a special provision that allows for greater political autonomy and decentralised governance in certain tribal areas of the Northeast through autonomous councils that are administered by elected representatives.
- In Assam, the hill districts of Dima Hasao, Karbi Anglong and West Karbi and the Bodo Territorial Region are under this provision.
- Article 244(A) accounts for more autonomous powers to tribal areas. In Autonomous Councils under the Sixth Schedule, they do not have jurisdiction of law and order.
Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), NITI Aayog launched AIM-PRIME (Program for Researchers on Innovations, Market-Readiness & Entrepreneurship), an initiative to promote and support science-based deep-tech start-ups & ventures across India.
- In this regard, AIM has joined hands with Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) to launch this nationwide program which will be implemented by Venture Center – a non-profit technology business incubator.
- The first cohort of the program is open to technology developers (early-stage deep tech start-ups, and scientists/ engineers/ clinicians) with strong science-based deep tech business ideas.
- The program is also open to CEOs and Senior incubation managers of AIM Funded Atal Incubation Centers that are supporting deep tech entrepreneurs. Deep technology is an outcome of very intense research and development (R&D) with high knowledge content.
- The benefits of this program are aimed at addressing specific issues through training and guidance over a period of 12 months.
PRIME MINISTER’S YOGA AWARDS (PMYA)
The nomination process for this year’s Prime Minister’s Yoga Awards (PMYA) will begin from 30/03/2021, with the last date for the submission of the entries being 30/04/2021.
- One of the key initiatives of the Ministry of AYUSH (MoA), the International Day of Yoga (IDY), has gained international recognition.
- PM Narendra Modi, on the second International Day of Yoga (IDY) 2016,had announced two categories of Yoga awards – one being International and other being National – to be announced on the occasion of the International Day of Yoga (IDY).
- The purpose of the awards is to recognize and felicitate the individual(s)/organization(s) who/which have made a significant impact on the society, for a sustained period, by the way of promotion and development of Yoga.
In recognition of the continuing adverse impact of COVID-19 pandemic on certain service sectors, the Government has now extended the scope of Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS) through introduction of ECLGS 3.0.
- ECLGS 3.0 will cover business enterprises in Hospitality, Travel & Tourism, Leisure & Sporting sectors which had, as on 29.02.2020, total credit outstanding not exceeding Rs. 500 crore and overdues, if any, were for 60 days or less, on that date i.e., 29th Feb 2020.
- ECLGS 3.0 would involve extension of credit of upto 40% of total credit outstanding across all lending institutions as on 29.02.2020. The tenor of loans granted under ECLGS 3.0 shall be 6 years including moratorium period of 2 years.
- Further, the validity of ECLGS i.e., ECLGS 1.0, ECLGS 2.0 & ECLGS 3.0 have been extended upto 30.06.2021 or till guarantees for an amount of Rs. 3 lakh crore are issued. Last date of disbursement under the scheme has been extended to 30.09.2021.
- The modifications introduced in the scheme, while providing an incentive to MLIs to enable availability of additional funding facility to the eligible beneficiaries will go a long way in contributing to economic revival.
- The revised operational guidelines in this regard shall be issued by National Credit Guarantee Trustee Company Ltd (NCGTC).
FOREIGN TRADE POLICY 2015-2020
The Union Commerce and Industry Ministry announced extension of the Foreign Trade Policy (FTP) of Government of India.
- The present Policy which came into force on 1st April 2015, was for 5 years and was extended thereafter upto 31st March, 2021.
- In view of the persisting COVID-19 pandemic, the Government has decided to continue benefits under various export promotion schemes by extending existing Foreign Trade Policy by another six months i.e., up to 30th September, 2021.
- Exemption from payment of IGST and Compensation Cess on the imports made under Advance/EPCG Authorisations and by EOUs etc. has also been extended up to 30.09.2021.
- Similarly, validity period of the Status Holder Certificates is also extended. This will enable the Status Holders to continue to avail the specified facilities/benefits.
The India-Mauritius CECPA will enter into force on 01 April 2021.
- India and Mauritius signed the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Partnership Agreement (CECPA) on 22 February 2021.
- The CECPA is the first trade Agreement signed by India with a country in Africa.
- The India-Mauritius CECPA provides for an institutional mechanism to encourage and improve trade between the two countries.
- The Agreement is a limited agreement, which will cover Trade in Goods, Rules of Origin, Trade in Services, Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT), Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures, Dispute Settlement, Movement of Natural Persons, Telecom, Financial services, Customs Procedures and Cooperation in other Areas.
- The CECPA between India and Mauritius covers 310 export items for India. Mauritius will benefit from preferential market access into India for its 615 products.
JAL JEEVAN MISSION
The Ministry of Jal Shakti has decided to use sensor-based IoT devices to effectively monitor the implementation of Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) in more than six lakh villages.
- For this, National Jal Jeevan Mission in collaboration with Tata Community Initiatives Trust (TCIT) and Tata Trusts recently completed pilot projects in several remote villages of five States i.e., Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Himachal Pradesh.
- The Internet of Things (IoT) based remote monitoring provides near real-time information without any manual intervention by using sensors.
- This would not only allow effective monitoring and management on-ground, but also enable real-time visibility to State water supply/ PHED officials, and citizens.
- Several types of sensors have been deployed including flow meters, ground water level sensors, chlorine analyzers, pressure sensors, pump controller etc. to measure all the relevant aspects of water service delivery.
Important Info :
- Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM), Union Government’s flagship programme, is implemented in partnership with States/ UTs to provide tap water connection to every rural household by 2024.
- It envisions creating a Digital Wall and Remote Command & Control Centre for monitoring and managing supply of prescribed quality water in adequate quantity (55 Liters Per Capita per Day – LPCD) every day through household tap connections across all rural villages.
PRODUCTION LINKED INCENTIVE SCHEME FOR FOOD PROCESSING INDUSTRY (PLISFPI)
The Union Cabinet has approved the Central Sector Scheme – “Production Linked Incentive Scheme for Food Processing Industry (PLISFPI)” with an outlay of Rs. 10900 crore.
- The objectives of the Scheme are to support food manufacturing entities with stipulated minimum Sales and willing to make minimum stipulated investment for expansion of processing capacity and Branding abroad to incentivise emergence of strong Indian brands.
- The scheme will be rolled out on All India basis.
- The scheme shall be implemented through a Project Management Agency (PMA). The Scheme would be monitored at Centre by the Empowered Group of Secretaries chaired by the Cabinet Secretary.
- The duration of the scheme will be six years i.e., 2021-22 to 2026-27. The incentive under the scheme would be paid for six years ending 2026-27.
- The scheme is “fund-limited”, i.e., cost shall be restricted to the approved amount.