- ARIIA-2020 Announced
- Exports of agricultural commodities increased
- Role of Police Force and Municipalities in SVANidhi
- Indo-U.S. Virtual Networks Awards Announced
Focus: GS-II Social Justice
Why in news?
The Vice-President of India virtually announced Atal Ranking of Institutions on Innovation Achievements (ARIIA) 2020.
- The Vice President called upon researchers and scientists to pay greater attention to agriculture and come up with innovations to address the problems faced by farmers stressing on the need for preventing farmers’ exploitation by middlemen and ensuring remunerative prices for their produce.
- The Vice President also emphasised the need for India’s higher education system to play the role of an enabler and force-multiplier to drive Indian innovation and start-up ecosystem.
- IIT Madras bagged the top position under the category of Institutes of National Importance, Central Universities, and Centrally Funded Technical Institutes.
Atal Ranking of Institutions on Innovation Achievements (ARIIA)
- ARIIA is an initiative of Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Government of India.
- It aims to systematically rank all major higher educational institutions and universities in India on indicators related to “Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development” amongst students and faculties.
- To inspire Indian institutions to reorient their mind-set and build ecosystems to encourage high quality research, innovation and entrepreneurship.
- To focus on the quality (more than quantity) of innovations and will try to measure the real impact created by these innovations nationally and internationally.
- To set tone and direction for institutions for future development for making them globally competitive and in the forefront of innovation.
- Budget & Funding Support.
- Infrastructure & Facilities.
- Awareness, Promotions & support for Idea Generation & Innovation.
- Promotion & Support for Entrepreneurship Development.
- Innovative Learning Methods & Courses.
- Intellectual Property Generation, Technology Transfer & Commercialization.
- Innovation in Governance of the Institution.
Institutes of National Importance
- Institute of National Importance (INI) is a status that may be conferred on a premier public higher education institution in India by an act of Parliament of India, an institution which “serves as a pivotal player in developing highly skilled personnel within the specified region of the country/state”.
- Institutes of National Importance receive special recognition and funding from the Government of India.
- As of 2020, there are 155 institutes, declared as Institutes of National Importance under a distinct Act of Parliament. The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) form a major group in this list.
National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF)
- The National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) was launched by the Minister of Human Resource Development in 2015.
- This framework outlines a methodology to rank institutions across the country.
The parameters considered:
- Teaching, Learning and Resources,
- Research and Professional Practices,
- Graduation Outcomes,
- Outreach and Inclusivity and
Focus: GS-III Indian Economy, Agriculture
Why in news?
- Exports of agricultural commodities during March to June 2020 increased by 23.24% compared to corresponding period in 2019.
- Ministry of Agriculture has prepared a comprehensive action plan towards promotion of agri-trade; the two-fold approach focuses on boosting Agri Export with emphasis on value addition and action plan for Import Substitution.
- Export Promotion Forums for specific agri-products constituted under APEDA at the behest of Ministry of Agriculture.
- Self-reliant agriculture is critical for the goal of an Atmanirbhar Bharat and for this, agricultural export is extremely important as besides earning precious foreign exchange for the country, the exports help farmers/producers/exporters to take advantage of wider international market and increase their income.
- Exports have also resulted in increased production in agriculture sector by increasing area coverage and productivity.
- As per WTO’s Trade Statistics, share of India’s agricultural exports and imports in the world agriculture trade in 2017 was 2.27% and 1.90%, respectively.
- The agricultural exports as a percentage of India’s agricultural GDP has increased from 9.4 % in 2017-18 to 9.9 % in 2018-19.
- While the agricultural imports as a percentage of India’s agricultural GDP has declined from 5.7 % to 4.9 % indicating exportable surplus and decreased dependence on import of agricultural products in India.
- There has been substantial increase in export of almost all the agricultural items in the last 15 years, but despite being one of the top producers of agricultural products, India does not figure among top exporters of agricultural produce.
- To reach the ranks of top exporting nation in Agriculture, commensurate with the production, there is a clear and categorical need to take proactive interventions.
- India holds second rank in the world wheat production but ranks 34th in export.
- Despite being world No. 3 in production of vegetables, the export ranking of India is only 14th.
- India is the second largest producer of fruits in the world but export ranking is 23rd.
- A detailed exploration of data and issues of pre-production, production, and post-harvest has been undertaken to evolve an end to end approach for developing a holistic strategy.
- An analysis of product groups and then specific commodities has been done with regard to present status of production & exports, strengths, challenges and thereafter interventions have been identified after consultations with stakeholders.
- The two-fold approach addresses boosting Agri Export with emphasis on value addition and focussed action plan for Import Substitution.
- The interventions so identified have been converted into a timed action plan.
The Export strategy focuses on:
- Export promotion of fast evolving niche markets of Wellness food/ Health conscious food/nutraceuticals
- Development of “Brand India” in campaign mode to help penetration into new foreign markets
- Identification of Gulf countries as focus destination to increase the market share which is a strong market for India
Export Promotion Forums
- At the behest of Department of Agricultural Cooperation & Farmers’ Welfare, Ministry of Agriculture, product specific Export Promotion Forums have been created to lead agri exports to new heights.
- Each Export Promotion Forum shall be having exporters of the related commodity as its members along with official members representing concerned Ministries/Departments of the Central and State Governments.
- Chairman APEDA shall be the chairman of each of these forums.
- The forums will discuss/ make recommendations on issues pertaining to export of the respective commodity.
- The Forums will constantly monitor and identify/anticipate developments in the external/internal situation pertaining to the production and export of their respective commodity and recommend /intervene for taking the necessary policy/ administrative measures.
- The recommendations of the forum will be placed in the product committee / Authority of APEDA.
Focus: GS-II Governance, Social Justice
Why in news?
Housing and Urban Affairs has urged the concerned officials to sensitize all their subordinates towards the street vendors, in a meeting to review PM SVANidhi scheme.
- The MoHUA said “To a marginalized Street Vendor already battling to survive on a day to day basis, overturning his cart or asking for a bribe or any other form of harassment, is diabolically cruel.”
- Even in normal times the Street Vendors have a marginalized existence and their plight has been compounded with the Covid-19 pandemic.
- The minister stressed that the Street Vendors need to be provided with an enabling environment where they have a sense of protection from undue harassment / eviction.
- The minister emphasised that the role of police force and municipalities is important in overall protection of livelihoods of street vendors and creating a conducive environment and added that the vendors do not demand much, other than a place where they can vend their articles in a harassment free environment.
- The Ministry is also in the process of preparing a plan to capture socio-economic profile of all PM SVANidhi beneficiaries in order to facilitate their access to various government welfare schemes, as per their entitlements.
- Street vendors constitute up to 2% of the urban population and they contribute immensely to the informal economy.
- According to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, there are 10 million street vendors in India.
- In India, street vending makes up 14% of total (non-agricultural) urban informal employment.
- Though the prevalent license-permit raj in Indian bureaucracy ended for most retailing in the 1990s, it continues in Street Vending.
- Inappropriate license ceiling in most cities means more vendors hawk their goods illegally, which also makes them prone to the bribery and extortion culture under local police and municipal authorities, besides harassment, heavy fines and sudden evictions.
- Over the years the street vendors have organized themselves into trade unions and associations, and numerous NGO’s have started working for them.
- The National Hawker Federation (NHF), based all over India, is a federation of 1400 street vendor organizations, trade unions in 28 states.
- The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs is implementing the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana – National Urban Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NULM) which has provision for creation of pro-vending infrastructure in the Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) through the Support to Urban Street Vendors (SUSV) component.
- The Street Vendors Act, 2014 was enacted for protection of livelihood rights, social security and regulation of urban street vending.
- PM SVANidhi, short for Pradhan Mantri Street Vendor’s AtmaNirbhar Nidhi, will help street vendors resume their businesses, impacted due to the nationwide lockdown.
- Vendors can avail of a working capital loan of up to ₹10,000, which is repayable in monthly instalments over one year.
- On timely, or early repayment, an interest subsidy of 7% per annum will be credited to the bank accounts of beneficiaries through Direct Benefit Transfer every six months.
- There will be no penalty for early repayment of loans.
Who will be Benefitted by this scheme?
- Five million street vendors who were operating on or before 24 March are expected to benefit from the scheme, which will be available till March 2022.
- The scheme is applicable to vendors, hawkers, thelewalas, rehriwalas, and theliphadwalas supplying goods and services.
- Street vendors in peri-urban or rural areas will also be able to avail the benefits.
Implementation of PM SVANidhi
- Urban local bodies will be playing a pivotal role in the implementation of the scheme as the lending institutions under the scheme include, Regional Rural Banks, Scheduled Commercial Banks, Cooperative Banks, Small Finance Banks, Micro Finance Institutions, NBFCs, and Self-Help Groups.
- It is the first time that NBFCs/MFIs/SHG Banks have been allowed in a scheme for urban poor. The change is because of their ground-level presence and proximity to the urban poor including the street vendors.
- Also, for the fast implementation of the scheme for transparency, a digital platform with a mobile app and web portal has also been developed to administer the scheme with end to end solutions. This platform will also help in integrating the vendors in a formal financial system.
- The scheme will also incentivise digital transactions by the street vendors through monthly cashback.
Street Vendors Act, 2014
Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014 is an Act of the Parliament of India to regulate street vendors in public areas and protect their rights.
- Town Vending Committee will be responsible for conducting of survey of all the vendors under its jurisdiction, and such survey must be conducted every five years. No street vendor will be evicted until such survey has been made and a certificate of vending has been issued.
- All street vendors will be accommodated in a designated vending zone. In case, all the vendors cannot be accommodated in the same vending zone, allocation of space will be made by drawing of lots. However, those who fail to get space in the same vending zone, will be accommodated in adjoining vending zones.
- All street vendors above fourteen years of age will be granted a certificate of vending. However, such certificates will be granted only if the person gives an undertaking that he will carry out his business by himself or through the help of his family members, he has no other means of livelihood and he will not transfer the certificate. However, the certificate can be transferred to one of his family members if such vendor dies or suffers from permanent disability.
- The certificate may be cancelled if the vendor breaches the conditions of the certificate.
- No vendor will be allowed to carry out vending activities in no-vending zones.
- In case of declaration of a specified area as a no-vending zone, the vendors will be relocated to another area. However, such street vendors must be given a notice of at least 30 days for relocation.
- There shall be a dispute resolution body consisting of a Chairperson who has been a civil judge or a judicial magistrate and two other professionals as prescribed by the appropriate government.
Focus: GS-II International Relations
Why in news?
- Eight binational teams consisting of researchers from India and the US have received awards to pursue cutting-edge research in pathogenesis and disease management of COVID-19 through Indo-US virtual networks.
- The Indo-US Science and Technology Forum (IUSSTF) announced the awards.
- The areas of research they will pursue include antiviral coatings, immune modulation, tracking SARS CoV-2 in wastewater, disease detection mechanisms, reverse genetics strategies, and drug repurposing.
Indo-U.S. Science & Technology Forum (IUSSTF)
- The Indo – U.S Science and Technology Forum (IUSSTF) was established under an agreement between the Governments of India and the United States of America in 2000.
- It is an autonomous bilateral organization jointly funded by both the Governments.
- Its aim is to promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Innovation through substantive interaction among government, academia and industry.
- The Department of Science & Technology, Government of India and the U.S. Department of States are respective nodal departments.