Daily Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Preparation: 12 October 2017

Cabinet approves IALA to change its status from Non-Governmental Organization to Inter-Governmental Organization

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given its approval for International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (IALA) to change its status from Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) to Inter-Governmental Organization (IGO).

The move will facilitate “to foster the safe, economic and efficient movement of vessels”. It will bring IALA at par with International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and International Hydrographic Organisation (IHO).

Background:

The IALA, having headquarters at St. Germainen Laye (France) was established in 1957 under French law. It is governed by a General Assembly having 83 National members, with its Council as the executive body. The IALA council consists of 24 National Members and India is one of the council members represented through the Directorate General of Lighthouses and Lightships (DGLL), Ministry of Shipping. DGLL establishes and maintains Aids to Navigation in general waters along coast of India including A&N and Lakshadweep group of islands, as per Lighthouse Act 1927.

In its Xll session held in La Coruna, Spain in May 2014, International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (IALA) General Assembly adopted a resolution stating its firm belief that the status of IALA from NGO to IGO will best facilitate lALA’s aims in the 21st century.

 

GST rate structure for Petroleum and Oil Sector

To reduce the cascading of taxes arising on account of non-inclusion of petrol, diesel, ATF, natural gas and crude oil in GST and to incentivise investments in the E&P (exploration and production) sector and downstream sector, the GST Council in its 22nd meeting held on 6thOctober, 2017 has made the following recommendations for GST rate structure for Specified Goods and Services:

  1. Offshore works contract services and associated services relating to oil and gas exploration and production in the offshore areas beyond 12 nautical miles shall attract GST of 12%;
  2. Transportation of natural gas through pipeline will attract GST of 5% without input tax credits (ITC) or 12% with full ITC;

iii. Import of rigs and ancillary goods imported under lease will be exempted from IGST, subject to payment of appropriate IGST on the supply/import of such lease service and fulfilment of other specified conditions.

Further, GST rate on bunker fuel is being reduced to 5%, both for foreign going vessels and coastal vessels.

 

Cabinet approves SANKALP & STRIVE Schemes to boost Skill India Mission

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has approved two new World Bank supported schemes of Rs. 6,655 crore – Skills Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion (SANKALP) and Skill Strengthening for Industrial Value Enhancement (STRIVE). SANKALP is Rs 4,455 crore Centrally sponsored scheme including Rs. 3,300 crore loan support from World Bank whereas STRIVE is a Rs. 2,200 crore – central sector scheme, with half of the scheme outlay as World bank loan assistance. SANKALP and STRIVE are outcome focused schemes marking shift in government’s implementation strategy in vocational education and training from inputs to results.

Both the schemes are aimed at institutional reforms and improving quality & market relevance of skill development training programs in long and short term Vocational Education and Training (VET). STRIVE scheme shall incentivize ITIs to improve overall performance including apprenticeship by involving SMEs, business association and industry clusters. The schemes aim to develop a robust mechanism for delivering quality skill development training by strengthening institutions such as State Skill Development Missions (SSDMs), National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), Sector Skill Councils (SSCs), ITIs and National Skill Development Agency (NSDA) etc. The schemes shall support universalization of National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF) including National Quality Assurance Framework (NQAF) across the skill development schemes of central and state governments thus ensuring standardization in skill delivery, content and training output.

The schemes shall provide the required impetus to the National Skill Development Mission, 2015 and its various sub missions. The schemes are aligned to flagship Government of India programs such as Make in India and Swachhta Abhiyan and aim at developing globally competitive workforce for domestic and overseas requirements.

National Policy of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship 2015 highlighted the need of quality assurance measures such as building a pool quality trainers and assessors. SANKALP envisages setting up of Trainers and Assessors academies with self-sustainable models. Over 50 such academies are to be set up in priority sectors. DOT, MSDE has already made significant progress in this direction by setting up a number of Institutes for Training of Trainers (IToT) in public and private sector, offering training in over 35 trades. The schemes shall leverage such institutions for training the trainers in both long & short term VET thereby bringing about convergence.

SANKALP aims at enhancement of inclusion of marginalized communities including women. Scheduled Castes (SCs), Schedule Tribes (STs) and Persons with Disabilities (PWD) to provide skill training opportunities to the underprivileged and marginalised section of the society.

The schemes will develop a skilling ecosystem that will support the country’s rise in the Ease of Doing Business index by steady supply of skilled workforce to the industry. The schemes will also work towards increasing the aspirational value of skill development programs by increasing the marketability of skills, through better industry connect and quality assurance.

 

Shri Anupam Kher appointed as Chairman, FTII Pune

Shri Anupam Kher, veteran cine star, has been appointed as Chairman of Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune.  Shri Kher succeeds Shri Gajendra Chauhan.

Shri Kher who has appeared in over 500 films is a recipient of the Padma Shri in 2004 and the Padma Bhushan in 2016 for his contribution in the field of cinema and arts. The veteran star has won many national and international awards including the ‘Filmfare Award for Best Performance in a Comic Role’ five times. He has appeared in acclaimed international films such as the 2002 Golden Globe nominated Bend It Like Beckham, 2007 Golden Lion award-winning Lust, Caution and 2013 Oscar-winning Silver Linings Playbook. He has appeared in more than 100 plays and has also authored the book ‘The Best Thing about You Is You’.

Earlier he served as the Chairman of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) and was the Director of National School of Drama from 2001 to 2004. He is also an alumnus of National School of Drama (1978 batch).

FTII is an autonomous body under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and is regarded as a center of excellence across the world. Films made by FTII’s students have enjoyed excellent receptions in festivals in India and abroad and have won National and International awards.

 

First Meeting of EAC-PM spells out the road map for acceleration of economic growth

The First Meeting of the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister chaired by Dr. Bibek Debroy, Member NITI Aayog, identified major priorities for accelerating economic growth and employment over the next six months, with greater last mile connectivity. Attended by members including leading economists Dr. Surjit Bhalla, Dr. Rathin Roy, Dr. Ashima Goyal and Member Secretary Mr Ratan P Watal, also former Finance Secretary and Principal Adviser NITI Aayog, the deliberations of the Council took stock of the current economic, fiscal and monetary policy environment and identified key issues that it would focus on.

The Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister has identified ten themes around which the Council Report would be structured in the coming months and developed by Theme Groups, led by its members, through consultative processes involving sectoral Ministries, States, experts, institutions, private sector and other key stakeholders. The ten themes identified are Economic Growth; Employment and job creation; informal sector and integration; fiscal framework; monetary policy; public expenditure; institutions of Economic Governance; Agriculture & Animal Husbandry; Patterns of Consumption & Production and Social Sector.

Another key issue recognized was the need for effective tracking of key economic parameters, through possible mechanisms for instituting an Economy Track Monitor, using lead indicators and triggers for action, based on informed assessment and analysis.

The deliberations of the new Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister also reflect its value addition as an independent institutional mechanism, to provide informed advice to the Prime Minister on addressing issues of macroeconomic importance and related aspects. This Council is focused on critical interventions related to accelerating economic growth and employment over the next few months, with greater social and financial inclusion, based on rigorous economic analysis. The Council views its role as also being a catalyst for action, by both developing and enabling action recommendations through different stakeholders.

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