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Current Affairs

Cabinet decision

  • On Thursday government approved number of development projects in areas like health, power, metro rail, bridges.
  • It also cleared upto Rs. 25,000 crore FDI by Vodafone Idea by way of a rights issue and setting up of Air India Assets Holding ltd. (AIAHL) – a special purpose vechile (SPV) housing national carrier’s Rs. 29,464 crore working capital debt.
  • AIAHL will contain four Air India (AI) subsidiaries – Air India Transport Services Ltd (AIATSL), Airline Allied Services Ltd (AASL), Air India Engineering Services Ltd (AIESL) and Hotel Corporation of India (HCIL) apart from non-core assets like land, buildings, paintings and artefacts.
  • The working capital debt will be served by selling these assets as per the new turnaround plan for cash-strapped airline.
  • Two policies have been cleared first is National Policy on Software Products ,2019 aimed at increasing the size of the country’s software products industry to $ 70 billion by 2025 and creation of new employment of 55 lakh. An initial outlay of Rs 1,500 crore will be involved to implement programmes for a period of 7 years. This amount will be divided into Software Product Development Fund and Research and Innovation Fund.
  • Second policy is the National Mineral Policy 2019, aims at encouraging private participation in the non-coal and non-fuel mineral exploration space with a slew of incentives including the first right of refusal for exploration firms in the mines they had explored.
  • India’s mining exploration sector has been untapped with only 10% of the 8 lakh square km potentially resource bearing area explored so far. Mining takes place on just 1%of the explored areas.
  • It approved “asset monetisation policy” as a new tool to boost disinvestment receipts from sale of PSU assets such as gas pipelines, power transmission lines, telecom powers of PSUs as well as enemy properties.
  • Limited subsidised loans offered to sugar mills to help them clear arrears exceeded as much as Rs. 20,000 crore so far. The subsidy will allow mills to get loans at just around 7-8 %.
  • Cabinet approved Kanpur metro rail project cost of Rs.11,076 crore which will be completed in five years.
  • Metro rail project for Agra has been given the nod, cost Rs 8,380 crore.
  • Another decision was to infuse a share capital of Rs. 1,450 crore into National Housing Bank.

Launch of Hackathon

  • Union HDR minister Prakash Javadekar announced the launch of the third edition of “Smart Hackathon” on 1st March,2019 a national competition for students to develop solutions for real life problems. From October the students will be able to register
  • Last year over 1 lakh students took part, expecting participation of around 1.5 lakh students this year,” he added.
  • Twenty nine departments under various ministries presented 598 problem statements for which they did not have digital solution.
  • It harnesses creativity and expertise of students, sparks institute level hackathon builds funnel for start-up India campaign, improving governance and quality of life and provides opportunity to citizens to provide innovative solutions to India’s daunting problems, a senior HDR official said.

Skill vouchers for skilling Indian youth

  • Indian government is considering issuing skill vouchers or skill wallets to youth to undertake skilling programme of their own choice and pay for skill training at any of the approved skill provider. The government plan is to shift from subsidy-based system to incentive-based Skill India mission launched in 2015 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
  • “Enough consolidation and upgradation has happened in the last four years under the Skill India mission, but now it is the time to experiment new model and making skilling aspirational for India’s youth.”The Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE).

Rising number of Ujjwala customers

  • Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) started in May 2016, especially targets the woman below poverty line (BPL) for LPG connections with a support of Rs. 1,600 and those with family income below Rs 10 lakh get subsidy of 12 cylinders.
  • In PMUY 40.7 million new liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) connections being added in 2018-19, 45% more than 2017-18. First nine month of the current fiscal year marks 23% more than the last year. In April-December 2018 Rs. 25,700 crore subsidy were shelled out as compared to Rs. 20,880 crore during whole of FY18. However, the budget for 2019-20 provided only Rs. 20,283 crore.
  • The government expects the rise of 62 per cent to Rs 32,989 crore next year. There were around 148 million LPG consumers in India on March 31, 2015 and increased by about 77 percent to 261.6 million now also 68.9 million beneficiaries across 714 districts

FAME-II

  • The government has constituted an inter-ministerial panel for monitoring, sanctioning and implementation of projects under the Rs 10,000-crore FAME-II Programme chaired by the secretary in the department of Heavy Industries, with the aim of incentivising clean mobility.

Start-ups rush to register with DPIIT

  • Start-ups rushed to get themselves registered with the department for promotion of industry and internal trade (DPIIT) to take advantage of the incentives. As many as 85 start-ups got themselves registered on Wednesday, much higher than the daily average of less than 10 in recent months.

Subsidy Reforms

  • Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s promises to give Rs 6,000 per month to India’s 20% poorest family, if he will win the election. He said it will eliminate poverty completely. We are talking about replacing all with cash transfers. Cash transfer will not distort market, because everything will be at market price. There is no logic in giving support to well off classes.
  • It costs Rs 3,60,000 crore which is greater than what the Central government spends on all manner of subsidies today, from food to electricity, fertilizers, water, scholarships, rations etc.
  • Average household in the bottom most decile as per Price’s ICE all-India income survey
  • D1: earns Rs 129,000/ year
  • D2: earns Rs 178,000/ year
  • D3: earns Rs 224,000/ year
  • D4: earns Rs 253,000/ year
  • D3 + D4 will resent a decline in their relative economic status.

NYAY Scheme

  • P Chidambaram took an doubters and naysayers. He said minimum income support scheme- which will give 20% families in poorest of the poor category Rs 72,000 each annually, benefiting around 25 crore people – will be”rolled out in phases” and said that the scheme has to be tested in the field first. An expert committee will be set up for its implementation and it will design the scheme at every stage. he claimed that enough economist and expert has been consulted including RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan, and they all agreed that India has the capacity to implement this scheme.
  • Rajan said that the scheme can “revolutionise things” if implemented properly, he is sceptical of the funding. The additional potential outlay of Rs 3.6 lakh crore for NYAY will increase the subsidy burden to Rs 6.94 lakh.in that there is no space in the country to handle Rs 7 Lakh crore subsidy, but Chidambaram is confident that the NYAY scheme will cost 1.8% of the GDP and will not cross 2% of the GDP.