PM meets top scientific officials of Government of India
- The Prime Minister held a meeting with top scientific officials of the Government of India.
- These included Dr. V.K. Saraswat – Member, NITI Aayog; Dr. R. Chidambaram – Principal Scientific Advisor, Government of India; and Secretaries related to scientific departments in the Union Government.
Role of science, technology and innovation in the progress and prosperity of India
- The Prime Minister asserted that science, technology and innovation are the keys to progress and prosperity of India.
- He said that the Government’s priority in the science and technology sector is to apply science to solve our country’s problems.
- Giving the example of talent spotting in sports, the Prime Minister said that mechanisms should be made to identify the brightest and best science talent among school students.
- A lot of innovation is happening at the grassroots level.
- Mechanism should be formed to document and replicate successful innovations at the grassroots level.
- In the agriculture sector, the Prime Minister identified high-protein pulses, fortified foods, and value addition in castor, as priority areas which needed to be speeded up.
- In the energy sector, the Prime Minister said that the possibilities of solar energy should be pursued to the maximum, to reduce dependence on energy imports.
Expressing confidence in the abilities of Indian scientists to rise up to the challenges, and provide solutions to improve the lives of the common man in India, the Prime Minister asked the officials to draw up clear targets to be achieved by 2022, the 75th year of independence.
Cabinet approves MOC in respect of tax matters between India and BRICS countries - Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa
- The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given the approval for the signing of Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) in respect of tax matters between India and the Revenue administrations of BRICS countries namely, Brazil, Russian Federation, China and South Africa
- The MoC aims to further promote cooperation amongst the BRICS Revenue administrations in international forum on common areas of interest in tax matters and in the area of capacity building and knowledge sharing.
- It envisages regular interaction amongst the heads of Revenue administration of BRICS countries to continue discussion on common areas of interest and strive towards convergence of views and meeting of the Experts on tax matters to discuss the contemporary issues in areas of international tax.
- In addition, the MoC accords confidentiality and protection to information exchanged under this MoC.
- The MoC will stimulate effective cooperation in tax matters.
- The collective stand of BRICS countries can prove to be beneficial not only to these countries but also to other developing countries in the long run in tax matters being steered by the G20.
- The Heads of Revenue of the BRICS countries have been meeting regularly to discuss the potential areas of cooperation in tax matters and to exchange opinions and views based on the existing commitment to openness, solidarity, equality, mutual understanding, inclusiveness and mutually beneficial cooperation, as stated in the Goa Declaration issued on October 16, 2016.
- The BRICS countries have identified four areas of mutual interest on which understanding and cooperation can be further strengthened. The heads of Revenue of BRICS countries in their meeting held on the sidelines of FTA plenary at Beijing, China in May, 2016 decided to sign a MoC outlining these areas of cooperation.
Cabinet apprised of MoU between India and Netherlands on cooperation in space technology
- This MoU shall enable the following areas of cooperation such as, space science, technology and applications including remote sensing of the earth; satellite communication and satellite based navigation; Space science and planetary exploration; use of spacecraft and space systems and ground system; and application of space technology.
Indian Nuclear Power Programme
- Substantial work has been carried out in the areas of research on technologies for utilization of thorium in nuclear fuel cycle, and on the development of an Advanced Heavy Water Reactor (AHWR), for use of thorium based fuel on a large scale.
Advanced Heavy Water Reactor (AHWR)
- Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), a constituent Unit of the Department of Atomic Energy has developed a design for Advanced Heavy Water Reactor (AHWR), a Technology Demonstrator Reactor of 300 MW, for utilisation of Thorium.
- The reactor is designed and developed to achieve large-scale use of thorium for the generation of commercial nuclear power which is a part of India’s three stage nuclear power programme.
- Thus, AHWR is not only a stepping stone to the third stage but also expected to provide a platform for developing and testing technologies required for the third stage.
- AHWR is designed with the motto of highest level of safety and security. The Government, in December, 2016, has accorded in-principle approval for the Tarapur Maharashtra Site (TMS) for locating the 300 MW Advanced Heavy Water Reactor.
The role of nuclear power in the near term
- The role of nuclear power in the near term is to supplement generation from fossil fuel sources and in the long term, provide the country energy security.
- All energy sources including coal and nuclear will be deployed optimally to meet the country’s growing electricity demand.
Environment Ministry Approves Projects for Climate Change Adaptation in Three States
- The Environment Ministry today approved three projects for climate change adaptation in three states of Rajasthan, Gujarat and Sikkim
- Current projects address a range of climate change vulnerabilities in the States which are not addressed under the ongoing schemes of the Central and State Governments.
- In Rajasthan, the project builds on work carried out under Phase I of the Mukhya Mantri Jal Swavlamban Abhiyan to enhance the adaptive capacity of villages by making them self-reliant in terms of water requirement.
- The project in Gujarat seeks to enhance the adaptive capacity of natural resource dependent communities to climate change in targeted villages of Kachchh district.
- In Sikkim, the project aims to address the issue of water security which are directly identified as climate resilience building interventions under the SAPCC.
National Adaptation Fund on Climate Change (NAFCC)
- NAFCC is a flagship Scheme of Government of India, which provides 100 per cent grant to the State Governments for implementing climate change adaptation projects.
- The Scheme is designed to fulfill the objectives of National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) and to operationalize the State Action Plans on Climate Change (SAPCCs).
- The projects address vulnerabilities in climate sensitive sectors like agriculture, animal husbandry, water, forests and coasts among others. The project outcomes are expected to increase resilience and adaptive capacity of vulnerable communities and ecosystems against climate change impacts.
- The Government of India is encouraging States to come up with innovative and scalable projects to develop resilience against climate change and mainstream it in the planning processes.
Radiation Processing Technology
- The Ministry of Food Processing Industries is implementing a scheme for Integrated Cold Chain and Value Addition Infrastructure with the objective of preventing post-harvest losses of horticultural & non-horticultural produce.
- One of the components of the Cold Chain scheme is the setting up of Irradiation facilities for preservation of the food products including onion, potato etc.
- Irradiated food is regulated in the country in accordance with the Atomic Energy (Radiation Processing of Food & Allied Products) Rules 2012 and Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Regulations, 2011.
- Food can be irradiated only in a food irradiation plant, which is authorized by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board and licensed by the competent Government Authority.
- The license to carry out food irradiation operation is given only after ascertaining the safety and security of the installation, its suitability to ensure proper process control, and availability of licensed operators and qualified staff.
- Board of Radiation & Isotope Technology (BRIT) is providing consultancy services for establishment of food irradiation plant.
- Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is also regulating the food safety aspects of irradiated food products under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2016 and its Regulations there under.
Promotion of Food Processing Industries
- Government has approved a new Central Sector Scheme-KISAN SAMPADA YOJANA (Scheme for Agro-Marine Processing and Development of Agro-Processing Clusters) with an outlay of Rs. 6,000 crore for the period 2016-20 coterminous with the 14th Finance Commission cycle to promote food processing in the country.
KISAN SAMPADA YOJANA is an umbrella scheme with the following components
- Mega Food Parks
- Integrated Cold Chain and Value Addition Infrastructure
- Creation / Expansion of Food Processing& Preservation Capacities
- Infrastructure for Agro-processing Clusters
- Creation of Backward and Forward Linkages
- Food Safety and Quality Assurance Infrastructure
- Human Resources and Institutions
KISAN SAMAPADA YOJANA
- The schemes being implemented under the KISAN SAMAPADA YOJANA are applicable throughout the country and these are not state specific.
- The schemes are private sector driven and provide freedom to the entrepreneurs to choose the project location based on availability of raw material, techno-economic feasibility and viability of the project.
Some step taken by the govt. to promote food processing sector in the country
- The govt. has taken several other steps to promote food processing sector in the country.
- A Special Fund of Rs. 2000 Crore has been setup in NABARD to make available affordable credit to designated food parks and agro-processing units in such designated food parks.
- Food and agro-based processing units and cold chain infrastructure have been classified under agriculture activities for Priority Sector Lending (PSL) as per the revised RBI Guidelines issued on 23rd April,2015.
- As per extant policy, Foreign Direct Investment FDI upto 100%, under the automatic route is allowed in food processing industries.
- Further, 100% FDI is now permitted under Government approval route for trading, including through e-commerce, in respect of food products manufactured and/ or produced in India.