PIB Analysis : 23rd & 24th July 2020

PIB Analysis for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. Restrictions on Public Procurement from certain countries
  2. Special Window for Affordable and Mid Income Housing (SWAMIH)
  3. INDSAT
  4. Hydrogen enriched CNG
  5. RFID project
  6. India-Russia Joint Technology Assessment and Accelerated Commercialization Programme
  7. Indian Red Cross Soceity

1 . Restrictions on Public Procurement from certain countries


Context : Government of India today amended the General Financial Rules 2017 to enable imposition of restrictions on bidders from countries which share a land border with India on grounds of defence of India, or matters directly or indirectly related thereto including national security.The Department of Expenditure has, under the said Rules, issued a detailed Order on public procurement to strengthen the defence of India and national security.

Details of the Order

  • As per the Order any bidder from such countries sharing a land border with India will be eligible to bid in any procurement whether of goods, services (including consultancy services and non-consultancy services) or works (including turnkey projects) only if the bidder is registered with the Competent Authority.
  • The Competent Authority for registration will be the Registration Committee constituted by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT). Political and security clearance from the Ministries of External and Home Affairs respectively will be mandatory.
  • The Order takes into its ambit public sector banks and financial institutions, Autonomous Bodies, Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs)and Public Private Partnership projects receiving financial support from the Government or its undertakings.
  • State Governments too play a vital role in national security and defence of India. The Government of India has written to the Chief Secretaries of the State Governments invoking the provisions of Article 257(1) of the Constitution of India for the implementation of this Order in procurement by State Governments and state undertakings etc. For State Government procurement, the Competent Authority will be constituted by the states but political and security clearance will remain necessary.
  • Relaxation has been provided in certain limited cases, including for procurement of medical supplies for containment of COVID-19 global pandemic till 31st December 2020. By a separate Order, countries to which Government of India extends lines of credit or provides development assistance have been exempted from the requirement of prior registration.
  • The new provisions will apply to all new tenders. In respect of tenders already invited, if the first stage of evaluation of qualifications has not been completed, bidders who are not registered under the new Order will be treated as not qualified. If this stage has been crossed, ordinarily the tenders will be cancelled and the process started de novo. The Order will also apply to other forms of public procurement. It does not apply to procurement by the private sector.

2 . Special Window for Affordable and Mid Income Housing (SWAMIH)


About the Special Window Fund

  • The Hon’ble Finance Minister on September 14, 2019 had announced that a special window for affordable and middle-income housing will be created. This special window will provide last mile funding for housing projects which are stressed.
  • Subsequently, Inter-ministerial consultations and several stakeholder consultations were held with the housing industry including Housing Finance Companies, Banks, NBFCs, Investors, and Real Estate Developers. Problems being faced by home buyers, developers, lenders, and investors were ascertained that could be addressed through the Special Window.
  • For the purposes of the fund, the government shall act as the Sponsor and the total commitment to be infused by the Government would be upto INR 10,000 crore.
  • The fund will be set up as a Category-11 AIF (Alternate Investment Fund) debt fund registered with SEBI and would be professionally run.
  • For the first AIF under the Special Window, it is proposed that SBICAP Ventures Limited shall be engaged to be the Investment Manager.
  • This fund would in turn would provide relief to developers that require funding to complete a set of unfinished projects and consequently ensure delivery of homes to the home-buyers.
  • Since the real estate industry is intrinsically linked with several other industries, growth in this sector will have a positive effect in releasing stress in other major sectors of the Indian economy as well.

What is an Alternate Investment Fund

  • Alternative Investment Fund or AIF means any fund established or incorporated in India which is a privately pooled investment vehicle which collects funds from sophisticated investors, whether Indian or foreign, for investing it in accordance with a defined investment policy for the benefit of its investors.
  • AIF does not include funds covered under the SEBI (Mutual Funds) Regulations, 1996, SEBI (Collective Investment Schemes) Regulations, 1999 or any other regulations of the Board to regulate fund management activities.
  • Further, certain exemptions from registration are provided under the AIF Regulations to family trusts set up for the benefit of ‘relatives‘ as defined under Companies Act, 1956, employee welfare trusts or gratuity trusts set up for the benefit of employees, ‘holding companies‘ within the meaning of Section 4 of the Companies Act, 1956 etc. [Ref. Regulation 2(1)(b)]

Categories of AIF

  • Applicants can seek registration as an AIF in one of the following categories, and in sub-categories thereof, as may be applicable:
    • Category I AIF: o Venture capital funds (Including Angel Funds) o SME Funds o Social Venture Funds o Infrastructure funds
    • Category II AIF
    • Category III AIF

Category II AIFs

  • AIFs which do not fall in Category I and III and which do not undertake leverage or borrowing other than to meet day-to-day operational requirements and as permitted in the SEBI (Alternative Investment Funds) Regulations, 2012.
  • Various types of funds such as real estate funds, private equity funds (PE funds), funds for distressed assets, etc. are registered as Category II AIFs.

3 . IND-SAT


Context : The Ministry of HRD conducted the first ever Indian Scholastic Assessment (Ind-SAT) Test 2020 under its ‘Study in India’ programme yesterday.

Details of the exam

  • Nearly five thousand candidates from Nepal, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Sri-Lanka, Kenya, Zambia, Indonesia and  Mauritius appeared for the exam conducted in the proctored internet mode by the National Testing Agency.  
  • EdCIL (India) Limited, a PSU under MHRD and the implementing agency of SII  handled the registrations and other aspects of the examination.

About Ind-SAT

  • Ind-SAT is an exam for grant of scholarships and admissions to foreign students for studying in select Indian universities under the Study in India programme. 
  • The exam is designed to gauge the scholastic capability of students applying to study in India.
  • The Ind-SAT scores will serve as a criterion to shortlist the meritorious students for the allocation of scholarships for under graduate as well as post graduate programmes under ‘Study in India’ programme.

Background

  • The  Finance Minister, as part of the budget speech this year,  had announced that the Ind-SAT exam is proposed to be held in Asian and African countries, for benchmarking foreign candidates who receive scholarships for studying in Indian higher education centers.
  • The exam was held in 12 countries on a pilot basis this year. There are plans to extend this to other countries in the future.

Study in India Programme

  • The Study in India is a programme of MHRD under which foreign students come to study in 116 select higher education institutions in India for under graduate and post graduate programmes.
  • The selection of the students is based on their merit in the class 12 / school leaving exam.
  • About top 2000 students are given scholarships, while some others are given fee discounts by the institutions.

4 . Hydrogen enriched CNG


Context : Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has notified draft notification seeking comments and suggestions from the public and all stakeholders for amendment to Central Motor Vehicles Rules 1979 through GSR 461(E) dated 22nd July 2020 for inclusion of Hydrogen enrichedCNG as an automotive fuel.

Hydrogen Enriched CNG

  • CNG or compressed natural gas produces lower emissions as compared to petrol and diesel. H-CNG technology is gaining popularity worldwide, with an ideal blend of 185 hydrogen.
  • “Worldwide hydrogen is being blended (20-30%) with natural gas and then compressed to dispense into vehicles.
  • US, Brazil, Canada, South Korea have all conducted trials and find that they get reduction in emissions from buses using H-CNG,” according to Environment Pollution Prevention and Control Authority (EPCA) report.

Importance

  • The use of next generation technology such as hydrogen-CNG can lower emissions, while promoting green fuel for automobiles in the country.

5 . RFID project


Context : Indian Railways is on a mission to RFID Tag all wagons by December 2022.

Details of the Project

  • The Indian Railways will complete this process of fitting radio-frequency identification tags (RFID) in all the wagons by December 2022. These tags will be used for tracking all wagons.
  • So far 23000 wagons have been covered under RFID project. The Project is still in progress and continuing, although this work has been slowed for some time due to pandemic Covid 19.  Government has fixed the deadline for fitting of RFID in all the wagons of Indian Railway till December 2022.
  • Currently, Indian Railway is maintained such data manually, which leaves scope for errors. Using RFID devices will be easier for the railways to know the exact position of all the wagons, locomotives and coaches.
  • While the RFID tag will be fitted in the rolling stock, trackside readers will be installed at stations and key points along the tracks to read the tag from a distance of about two meters and transmit the wagon identity over a network to a central computer. In this way, each moving wagon can be identified and its movement tracked.
  • With the introduction of RFID, the issue of shortage of wagons, locomotives and coaches is expected to be addressed in a more transparent and expeditious manner.

About Radio Frequency Identification

  • Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) is the use of radio waves to read and capture information stored on a tag attached to an object
  • A tag can be read from up to several feet away and does not need to be within direct line-of-sight of the reader to be tracked.
  • In India it is implemented as a part of Fastags an automatic toll collection method and in E-way bills in GST 
  • In case of automatic toll collection the tag is linked to a prepaid account from which the toll amount is deducted

6 . India-Russia Joint Technology Assessment and Accelerated Commercialization Programme


Context : The Department of Science and Technology has launched the India-Russia Joint Technology Assessment and Accelerated Commercialization Programme in partnership with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and Foundation for Assistance to Small Innovative Enterprises (FASIE) of the Russian Federation.

About the Project

  • The programme will connect Indian, and Russian Science & Technology (S&T) led SMEs and Start-ups for joint R&D for technology development and for cross-country technology adaptation.
  • Over a period of two years, the Department of Science and Technology will fund up to INR 15 Crores to ten Indian SMEs/Start-ups and FASIE will provide similar funding to the Russian projects. 
  • The programme will provide access to partial public funding for jointly selected projects with the participation of at least one start-up/SME from India and one SME from Russia.
  • The selected projects will be required to bear partial funding as well, either through own funds or alternate sources of funding.
  • In addition to the financial support, the teams will also be supported through capacity building, mentorship and business development.

7 . Indian Red Cross Society (IRCS)


About Indian Red Cross

  • Indian Red Cross is a voluntary humanitarian organization having a network of over 1100 branches throughout the country, providing relief in times of disasters/emergencies and promotes health & care of the vulnerable people and communities.
  • It is a leading member of the largest independent humanitarian organization in the world, the International Red Cross & Red Crescent Movement.
  • The movement has three main components, the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC), 192 National Societies and International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
  • The Mission of the Indian Red Cross is to inspire, encourage and initiate at all times all forms of humanitarian activities so that human suffering can be minimized and even prevented and thus contribute to creating more congenial climate for peace.
  • Indian Red Cross Society (IRCS) was established in 1920 under the Indian Red Cross Society Act and incorporated under Parliament Act XV of 1920. The act was last amended in 1992 and of rules were formed in 1994.
  • The IRCS has 36 State / Union Territories Branches with their more than 1100 districts and sub district branches.
  • Honourable President of India is the President and Hon’ble Union Health Minister is the Chairman of the Society.
  • The Vice Chairman is elected by the members of the Managing Body.
  • The National Managing Body consists of 19 members.
  • The Chairman and 6 members are nominated by the President. The remaining 12 are elected by the state and union territory branches through an electoral college.
  • The Managing Body is responsible for governance and supervision of the functions of the society through a number of committees.
  • The Secretary General is the Chief Executive of the Society.
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