Current Affairs Jan 2019 - Miscellaneous


The Projects/Plans/Policies/MoUs Approved by Cabinet Ministry in December 2018

Following are the important projects/plans/policies/MoUs those were approved by Government of India in the month of December −

On January 02, 2019

1 - The Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order (Amendment) Bill,” 2018

The Union Cabinet approved the introduction of a Bill “The Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order (Amendment) Bill,” 2018 in the Parliament. The objective is to make certain amendments in the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order, 1950. Such amendments will modify the list of Scheduled Tribes (STs) of Arunachal Pradesh.

The significant amendments are:

  • Deletion of Abor – Removal of duplication

  • Replace Khampti – There is no tribe called ‘Khampti’

  • Inclusion of Mishmi-Kaman, Idu and Taraon – Existing entry is only of ‘Mishmi’. There is reportedly no such community.

  • Inclusion of Monpa, Memba, Sartang, Wancho – Existing entry is of ‘Any Naga Tribes’. These are reportedly the only Naga tribes in the State.

  • Inclusion of Nocte, Tangsa, Tutsa, Wancho – Existing entry is of ‘Any Naga Tribes’. These are reportedly the only Naga tribes in the State.

2 - Rastriya Yuva Sashaktikaran Karyakram Scheme

The Union Cabinet approved the continuation of “Rastriya Yuva Sashaktikaran Karyakram Scheme” for the Period 2017-18 to 2019-2020. The scheduled budget of the scheme is about Rs1160 crore.

Significant sub-schemes under Rashtriya Yuva Sashaktikaran Karyakram are:

  • i. Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan(NYKS);
  • ii. National Youth Corps (NYC);
  • iii. National Programme for Youth & Adolescent Development (NPYAD);
  • iv. International Cooperation;
  • v. Youth Hostels (YH);
  • vi. Assistance to Scouting & Guiding Organizations;
  • vii. National Discipline Scheme (NDS); and
  • viii. National Young Leaders Programme (NYLP).

What is Rashtriya Yuva Sashaktikaran Karyakram Scheme?

The Rashtriya Yuva Sashaktikaran Karyakram Scheme is an ongoing Central Sector Scheme of the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports. It has been Initiated during the 12th Five Year Plan and since then, the scheme is consistently maintained.

The Scheme aims to develop the personality and leadership qualities of the youth and to engage them in nation building activities.

3 - Restructuring of existing National Health Agency as "National Health Authority"

The Union Cabinet has approved the restructuring of existing National Health Agency as "National Health Authority" for better implementation of Pradhan Mantri - Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY).

Furthermore, in the meeting it is also visualized that the National Health Authority shall have full accountability, authority and mandate that will help to implement PM-JAY through an efficient, effective and transparent decision-making process.

4 - Cabinet Approves India's Approach for COP 24, Katowice, Poland

The Union Cabinet has given its ex-post facto approval to the negotiating stand of India at the 24th Conference of Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The conference was held in Katowice, Poland from December 2 to December 15, 2018. The Indian delegation was led by Dr. Harsh Vardhan, the Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

The key focus of the conference was to finalize guidelines for implementation of Paris Agreement in post 2020 period. India's approach was guided by principles and provisions of UNFCCC and Paris Agreement particularly the principles of Equity and Common but Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capability (CBPR-RC).

5 - Cabinet Approved Amendment to the Trade Unions Act, 1926

The Union Cabinet has approved Amendment to the Trade Unions Act, 1926. The objective is to make provisions regarding Recognition of Trade Unions. This ‘Bill’ will ensure that the nomination of workers’ representatives in tripartite bodies by the government will become more transparent.

Significant benefits of the ‘Bill’ are:

  • Recognition of Trade Unions at Central and State level;

  • Ensure true representation of workers in the tripartite bodies;

  • Check on the arbitrary nomination of workers’ representatives by the Government; and

  • Reduce litigations and industrial unrest.

6 - Cabinet Approved Merger in Indian Banking with Amalgamation of Vijaya, Dena and Bank of Baroda

The Union Cabinet has approved the scheme of amalgamation for amalgamating Bank of Baroda, Vijaya Bank and Dena Bank. Bank of Baroda would be the transferee bank and Vijaya Bank and Dena Bank as transferor banks.

Such amalgamation is the first-ever three-way consolidation of banks in India. After this amalgamation, the amalgamated bank would be India's second largest Public Sector Bank. Further, the amalgamation will help create a strong globally competitive bank with economies of scale and enable realization of wide-ranging synergies.

The scheme shall come into force on 1.4.2019.

7 - Cabinet apprised of MoU Between India and Morocco

The Union Cabinet has been apprised of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Morocco. The objective of this MoU is to cooperate in the area of Cyber Security.

The MoU is designed to promote closer cooperation for the exchange of knowledge and experience in detection, resolution and prevention of security-related incidents between India and Morocco. It is expected that the implementation of the MoU will result in significant mutual benefits in the Cyber Security sector.

8 - Cabinet Approved 3 New AIIMS

The Union Cabinet has given its approval to establish three new AIIMS. These three new AIIMS will be set up under the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Surakhsha Yojana (PMSSY).

Following are the places where new AIIMS are planned to set up −

  • i. Vijaynagar, Samba in Jammu,
  • ii. Awantipur, Pulwama, Kashmir, and
  • iii. Rajkot, Gujarat

Establishment of new AIIMS will have −

  • Hospital,
  • Teaching Block for medical & nursing courses,
  • Residential complex, and
  • Allied facilities/services.

Likewise, the objective behind setting up the such new AIIMS as Institutions of National Importance, is to provide −

  • Quality tertiary healthcare,
  • Medical education,
  • Nursing education, and
  • Research in the respective regions.

On January 10, 2019

9 - Cabinet Approved Bilateral Swap Arrangement Between India and Japan

The Union Cabinet approved the proposal for entering into an Agreement for Bilateral Swap Arrangement (BSA) between India and Japan. In addition to this, it authorized the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to sign the Agreement for Bilateral Swap Arrangement (BSA) between the RBI and the Bank of Japan. The limit of maximum amount is USD 75 billion.

Significant benefits of BSA:

  • It will further boost up the mutual cooperation between India and Japan for the strategic purpose;

  • It will assist each other in times of difficulty;

  • It will help to restore international confidence;

  • This scheme will enable the agreed amount of Capital being available to India on tap for use;

  • BSA will improve the prospects of Indian companies;

  • It will help to stabilize the difficulty (if any) arising out of Balance of Payment (BOP); and

  • It will also increase the RBI’s ability to manage exchange rate volatility.

Likewise, such arrangement between India and Japan unquestionably, is another milestone in mutual economic cooperation and special strategic and global partnership.

10 - Cabinet Approved MoU Between India and France for Renewable Energy

The Union Cabinet has approved the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and France. The MoU is signed on technical bilateral cooperation in the field of new and renewable energy. However, this MoU was signed on October 3, 2018.

The MoU will help in strengthening the bilateral cooperation between India and France.

Further, this technical cooperation is designed to cover:

  • Joint research working groups,
  • Pilot projects,
  • Capacity building programs,
  • Study tour,
  • Case studies, and
  • Sharing of experience/expertise.

11 - Cabinet Approved Tax Assistance to Swaziland

The Union Cabinet approved the Signing of Terms of Reference (TOR) governing the engagement of the designated Indian Expert to provide tax assistance to Swaziland. It is done under the Tax Inspectors Without Borders Programme between India and Swaziland. Swaziland is now named as Eswatini.

Under the TIWB Programme, the Terms of Reference will formalize the conditions of the engagement of the designated Indian Expert to provide tax assistance to Eswatini. In addition to this, such engagement of the Indian Expert under the TIWB programme will give impetus to India's support in capacity building in tax matters in developing countries.

12 - Cabinet Approved MoU on Maritime Issues Between India and Denmark

The Union Cabinet has approved the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Maritime issues between India and Denmark. The MoU is proposed to be signed during the upcoming visit of the WIP from Denmark to India in January, 2019.

Major benefits of such MoU between India and Denmark are:

  • The MoU will pave way for both countries for exploration of areas for bilateral collaboration;

  • It will facilitate cross-border cooperation and investments between the maritime sectors of India and Denmark;

  • It will enable both the countries to exchange expertise, publications, information, data and statistics to improve mutual capabilities for ensuring quality shipping; cooperation in the field of green maritime technology and shipbuilding, granting the Indian Register of Shipping (IRS) the status of Recognized Organization (RO), cooperation in the fields of maritime training and education;

  • It will assist in research and development for sustained cooperation in the field of merchant shipping and maritime transport related matters; and

  • It will also further extend and deepen the cooperation on the opportunities of mutual benefits to both the countries, at both bilateral and international level.

On January 16, 2019

13 - Cabinet Approved Recapitalization of Export-Import Bank of India

The Union Cabinet has approved the recapitalization of EXIM Bank. The EXIM Bank, which is Export-Import Bank of India will further strengthen the export ability of India.

Further, the infusion will give an impetus to anticipate new initiatives:

  • Like supporting Indian textile industries,

  • Likely changes in Concessional Finance Scheme (CFS),

  • Likelihood of new LoCs in future in view of India's active foreign policy and strategic intent.

Significant points of such recapitalization are:

  • Issuance of Recapitalization Bonds by Government of India to the tune of Rs 6,000 crore for capital infusion in Export Import Bank of India (Exim Bank).

  • The equity will be infused in two tranches of Rs 4,500 crore in FY 2018-19 and Rs 1,500 crore in FY 2019-20 respectively.

  • The Cabinet also approved an increase in the authorized capital of Exim Bank from Rs 10,000 crore to Rs 20,000 crore. The recapitalization bonds will be on the lines issued to Public Sector Banks.

What is Exim Bank of India?

The Export-Import bank of India (or simply Exim Bank) was established in 1982 under an Act of Parliament. It has been set up as the apex financial institution for financing, facilitating and promoting India's international trade. It is regulated by RBI.

The Bank primarily lends for exports from India including supporting overseas buyers and Indian suppliers for export of developmental and infrastructure projects, equipment, goods and services from India.

14 - Visa Arrangements Signed Between India and Maldives

The Union Cabinet has given its ex-post facto approval to the Agreement on the facilitation of visa arrangements signed between India and Maldives.

The Visa Facilitation Agreement that was signed during the visit of Maldivian President to India, has the objective to deepen people to people exchanges between the two countries. It will now be easier for Maldivian and Indian nationals to travel to each other’s' countries for tourism, medical treatment, education as well as business and employment purpose.

This Agreement provides for 90-day visa free travel for tourism, medical and limited business purpose. Further, it also provides for easy conversion of such visa free entry to medical visa as well as visas for dependents of students and those pursuing employment in each other's territories.

15 - Cabinet Approved MoU Between India and Australia

The Union Cabinet has given its approval for signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Directorate General of Mines Safety (DGMS), Ministry of Labour and Employment, Government of India and Department of Natural Resource Mines and Energy, Queensland Government, Australia. The objective of such agreement is to improve Safety in Mines, Testing and Research Station (SIMTARS).

Significant points of this MoU are:

The MoU will help in establishing a partnership between DGMS and SIMTARS for −

  • implementation of risk based safety management system, providing training, organizing, conference, seminar and other technical meetings, setting up occupations safety and health academy and national mine disaster centre, and

  • modernizing R&D laboratory of DGMS.

On January 23, 2019

16 - Cabinet Approved Creation of the National Bench of the GSTAT

The Union Cabinet approved the creation of National Bench of the Goods and Services Tax Appellate Tribunal (GSTAT). The building of GSTAT will be set up at New Delhi. It would have two Technical members – one Member at Center and the second member would be at State and it will be presided by its President.

The setting up of the National Bench of the GSTAT would amount to one-time expenditure of Rs 92.50 lakh whereas the recurring expenditure would be about Rs6.86 crore per annum.

What is GSTAT?

Goods and Services Tax Appellate Tribunal or GSTAT is the forum of second appeal in reference to GST laws and the first common forum of dispute resolution between Centre and States.

17 - Cabinet Approved MoU Between India and Kuwait

The Union Cabinet has approved the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Kuwait for the cooperation on the Recruitment of Domestic Workers. This MoU will provide a structured framework for the cooperation on domestic workers related matters. It will also provide strengthened safeguards for Indian domestic workers including female workers who are deployed in Kuwait.

The MoU will promote bilateral cooperation in domestic workers related matters between the two countries. However, the MoU will be initially valid for a period of five years and incorporates provision for automatic renewal.

18 - Cabinet Approved Amendment to the ‘Framework on Currency Swap Arrangement for SAARC Member Countries’

The Union Cabinet has given ex-post facto approval for amendment to the 'Framework on Currency Swap Arrangement for SAARC Member Countries.' This agreement will incorporate a 'Standby Swap' amounting to USD 400 million. It will operate within the overall size of the Facility of USD 2 billion and build in flexibility with respect to modalities of its operation, such as period of swap, roll over, etc.

Reserve Bank of India will negotiate the operational details bilaterally with the Central Banks of the SAARC countries to avail the Standby Swap.