GK Today: Daily Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Preparation: 10 August 2018

Commerce & Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu launches Mobile App Niryat Mitra

 Union Minister of Commerce & Industry and Aviation Suresh Prabhu launched Niryat Mitra – mobile App in New Delhi today. The app developed by the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) is available both on Android and on IOS platforms. It provides wide range of information required to undertake international trade right from the policy provisions for export and import, applicable GST rate, available export incentives, tariff, preferential tariff, market access requirements – SPS and TBT measures. The most interesting part is that all the information is available at tariff line. The app works internally to map the ITC HS code of other countries with that of India and provides all the required data without the users bothering about the HS code of any country. Presently the app comes with the data of 87 countries.


MoU signed between TRIFED (M/o Tribal Affairs) and National Medicinal Plant Board (M/o AYUSH) to promote Medicinal and Aromatic Plants forest produce

 Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India Ltd. (TRIFED) under the Ministry of Tribal Affairs & National Medicinal Plants Board (NMPB), Ministry of AYUSH signed an MoU to promote Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (MAPs) forest produce for livelihood development of tribal people by promoting primary level value addition to MAPs produce from forest area at grassroots level.

     The activities proposed to be supported by NMPB under the MoU are as follows:

  • To identify potential Medicinal plant species of the tribal areas.
  • To support training and awareness program on Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) & Good Field Collection Practices (GFCP).
  • Support skill upgradation and capacity building.
  • Facilitate and render financial assistance for plantations and nursery development for MAPs through the Van Dhan Vikas Kendra SHGs.
  • Facilitate standardising norms for MAPs, render assistance for establishing of research and testing centre.

     The activities proposed to be supported by TRIFED under the MoU are as follows:

  • Establishment of the ‘Van-Dhan Vikas Kendra’ specifically for Medicinal plants & its products, for providing skill upgradation and capacity building including training in primary processing and primary processing facility.
  • Creation of Van Dhan SHGs clusters under the Van Dhan Vikas Kendra that would undertake primary value addition of the MFPs based on MFPs available in the area and provide facility for MAPs raw material primary processing i.e cleaning, packaging & storage facility etc.
  • Setting-up of primary processing facility, infrastructure support and value addition facility for MAPs.
  • Supply chain for Minor Forest Produce (MFPs)
  • Provision of working capital for the SHGs through tie up with financial institutions and other organizations.
  • To establish herbal garden of various types to develop and promote the usefulness of commonly available and frequently used Medicinal Plants through SHGs involved in Van Dhan Vikas Kendra.
  • Research and Development studies on Medicinal Plants collected by MFP gatherers. In consultation with NMPB and TRIs
  • For standardising norms for MAPs, setting up Research and testing centres.in consultation with NMPB.

The MoU will be an important milestone in mainstreaming the tribal community by empowering the tribal gatherers engaged in collection & sale of MFPs/ NTFPs (Non-Timber Forest Produce).  Minor Forest Produce (MFP) are a major source of livelihood for tribals living in forest areas. The importance of MFPs for this section of the society can be gauged from the fact that around 100 million forest dwellers depend on MFPs for food, shelter, medicines and cash income. Tribals derive 20-40% of their annual income from MFP collection and sales. This activity has strong linkage to women’s financial empowerment as most of the MFPs are collected and used/sold by women. MFP sector has the potential to create about 10 million workdays annually in the country.

Recognizing the critical importance which MFP hold for tribals and its potential to create large scale employment opportunity. Ministry of Tribal affairs, Govt. of India has introduced an ambitious scheme of “Mechanism for marketing of Minor Forest Produce (MFP) through Minimum Support price (MSP) and development of Value chain for MFP”.  The scheme was started with the objective of providing fair price to MFP gatherers, enhance their income level and ensure sustainable harvesting of MFPs. The MSP scheme seeks to establish a framework to ensure fair prices for the produce collected by them, assurance of buying at a particular price, primary processing, storage, transportation etc. while ensuring sustainability of the resource base. It is a holistic scheme for development of MFP trade. The Scheme has been systematically expanded since 2014 to cover 27 States with tribal population and presently 23 MFPs which is under consideration to extend to cover 55 MFPs. Further, Van Dhan Vikas Karyakram being implemented under the Scheme, is an initiative targeting livelihood generation for tribals by harnessing the wealth of forest i.e. Van Dhan. The programme aims to tap into traditional knowledge & skill sets of tribals by adding technology & IT to upgrade it at each stage and to convert the tribal wisdom into a viable economic activity. The initiative shall provide enhanced livelihood to about 25 lakhs tribal gatherers/ artisans.


Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve Becomes 11th Biosphere Reserve from India to be Included in the World Network of Biosphere Reserves

The Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve has become the 11th Biosphere Reserve from India that has been included in the UNESCO designated World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR).  The decision to include Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve in WNBR was taken at the 30th Session of International Coordinating Council (ICC) of Man and Biosphere (MAB) Programme of UNESCO held at Palembang, Indonesia.   India has 18 Biosphere Reserves and with the inclusion of Khangchendzonga, the number of internationally designated WNBR has become 11, with 7 Biosphere Reserves being domestic Biosphere Reserves.

Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve in Sikkim is one of the highest ecosystems in the world, reaching elevations of 1, 220 metres above sea-level.  It includes a range of ecolines , varying from sub-tropic to Arctic, as well as natural forests in different biomes, that support an immensely rich diversity of forest types and habitats. The core area of the Biosphere Reserve is a major transboundary Wildlife Protected Area.  The southern and central landscape, which makes up 86% of the core area, is situated in the Greater Himalayas.  The northern part of the area accounts for 14% is characterized by trans-Himalayan features.  Buffer zones are being developed to promote eco-tourism activities.  Plantation and soil conservation work is also being carried out. The core zone – Khangchendzonga National Park was designated a World Heritage Site in 2016 under the ‘mixed’ category.  Many of the mountains, peaks, lakes, caves, rocks, Stupas (shrines) and hot springs function as pilgrimage sites.   Over 118 species of the large number of medicinal plants found in Dzongu Valley in north Sikkim are of ethno-medical utility.  The transition zone is targeted for eco-development activities, afforestation, plantation of medicinal herbs and soil conservation measures.


Cabinet approves MoU between India and Indonesia on Health cooperation

The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the signing the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Indonesia on health cooperation.

The MoU covers the following areas of cooperation:-

  • Research and development, active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) and IT-based medical equipment;
  • Human Resource Development;
  • Health services; and
  • Any other area as may be mutually agreed upon.

A Working Group will be set up to further elaborate the details of cooperation and to oversee the implementation of this MoU.


Cabinet approves MoU between India and Korea on Trade Remedy Cooperation

The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi gave its ex-post facto approval to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Korea on Trade Remedy Cooperation. The MoU was signed in July 2018 during the State visit of President of Korea to India. The MoU will promote cooperation between the two countries in the area of trade remedies viz. anti-dumping, subsidy and countervailing and safeguard measures, which will enhance the bilateral trade relations.


Cabinet approves joint issue of postage stamp between India and South Africa

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi was apprised of joint issue of Postage Stamps on India-South Africa on the theme, “20 Years of Strategic Partnership between India and South Africa”. The joint stamps were released in June 2018. The Commemorative Postage Stamps on India-South Africa: Joint Issue depicts image of DeendayalUpadhyaya and Oliver Reginald Tambo of South Africa. An MoU was signed to this effect between India and South Africa in May 2018.


Cabinet approves MoU between India and Indonesia on Scientific and Technological Cooperation

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Indonesia on Scientific and Technological Cooperation. The MoU was signed by Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Minister for Science, Technology and Earth Sciences at New Delhi in May 2018 and Mr. Mohamad Nasir, Minister for Research, Technology and Higher Education, Indonesia on the Indonesian side at Jakarta in May 2018. Signing of the MoU will open a new chapter in bilateral relations as both sides will now leverage complementary strengths spurred by a significant convergence of mutual interests in science and technology.  The objective of the MoU is to promote cooperation in the fields of science and technology between India and Indonesia on the basis of equality and mutual benefit. The stake-holders will include researchers from scientific organizations, academia, R&D laboratories and companies from India and Indonesia. Information and Communication Technology; Marine Science & Technology; Life Sciences (including Biotechnology, Agriculture and Biomedical Sciences); Energy Research; Water Technologies; Disaster Management; Space Sciences, Technology and Applications; Geospatial Information and Applied Chemistry were identified as potential areas for immediate collaboration.


Unnat Bharat Programme 2.0 covers 750 Higher Educational Institutes

The Government has recently launched Unnat Bharat Abhiyan 2.0, which is the phase-2 of scheme. It covers 750 Higher Educational Institutes. Unnat Bharat Abhiyan aims to link the Higher Education Institutions with atleast (5) villages, so that these institutions can contribute to the economic and social betterment of these village communities using their knowledge base. Unnat Bharat Abhiyan is inspired by the vision of transformational change in rural development processes by leveraging knowledge institutions to help build the architecture of an Inclusive India. It also aims to create a virtuous cycle between the society and an inclusive university system, with the latter providing knowledge base; practices for emerging livelihoods and to upgrade the capabilities of both the public and private sectors. Objective of the scheme are (i) To engage the faculty and students of Higher Educational Institutions in understanding rural realities; (ii) Identify and select existing innovative technologies, enable customization of technologies, or devise implementation methods for innovative solutions, as required by people; and (iii) To allow Higher Educational Institutions to contribute to devising systems for smooth implementation of various Government Programs. Currently 688 Institutions covering 33 States/UT’s are participating under the scheme.