· Cabinet approves Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Zambia in the field of Judicial Cooperation
The Union Cabinet chaired by Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Zambia in the field of Judicial Cooperation. During recent years, social, cultural and commercial relations between India and Zambia have developed in the positive direction. Signing of an agreement on cooperation in the field of justice will further enhance good relations between the two countries and add new dimensions in the field of judicial reforms.
· Cabinet approves MoU between India and United Kingdom and Northern Ireland regarding cooperation and the Exchange of Information for the Purposes of Combating International Criminality and Tackling Serious Organised Crime
The Union Cabinet chaired by Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and United Kingdom and Northern Ireland regarding cooperation and Exchange of Information for the Purposes of Combating International Criminality and Tackling Serious Organised Crime.
India and U.K. already have an agreement concerning the investigation and prosecution of crime and the tracing, restraint and confiscation of the proceeds and instruments of crime (including crimes involving currency transfers) and terrorist funds, which was signed in 1995. Both the countries desire to further strengthen cooperation in fighting international criminality and serious organized crime. The MoU will reinforce the collaboration in the field of security that will be mutually beneficial.
· Cabinet approves MoU between India and South Asia Cooperative Environment Programme for Co-operation on the response to Oil and Chemical Pollution in the South Asian Seas Region
The Union Cabinet chaired by Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and South Asian Cooperative Environment Programme (SACEP) for cooperation on the response to Oil and Chemical Pollution in the South Asian Seas Region.
The MoU intends to promote closer cooperation between India and other maritime nations comprising the South Asian seas region namely Bangladesh, Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka for protection and preservation of marine environment in the region.
Indian Coast Guard (ICG) will be the Competent National Authority and national operational contact point for implementation of “Regional Oil Spill Contingency Plan” under the MoU and shall respond to oil and chemical spills on behalf of Government of India. Further, ICG Maritime Rescue Coordination Centres (MRCCs) will be the national emergency response centre for marine incidents.
· Cabinet approves re-structuring of National Skill Development Fund (NSDF) and National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) to strengthen governance, implementation and monitoring framework
The Union Cabinet chaired by Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for restructuring of National Skill Development Fund (NSDF) and National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) to strengthen governance, implementation and monitoring framework.
The restructuring will also ensure better corporate governance, transparency and accountability in operations of NSDC besides strengthening the oversight role of NSDF. The approval would lead to restructuring of composition of Board of NSDF and the NSDC to strengthen governance, implementation and monitoring framework.
· Cabinet approves MoU between India and Canada on IPRs
The Union Cabinet chaired by Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its ex-post approval for the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India India and Canada. The MoU was signed on 23rd February, 2018 to establish bilateral cooperation activities in the field of Intellectual Property (IP). The MoU is intended to promote innovation, creativity and economic growth in both countries.
The MoU establishes a broad and flexible framework through which both countries can exchange best practices and work together on training programs and technical exchanges to raise awareness on IPRs and better protect intellectual property rights (IPRs).
The priority initiatives under the MoU include:
i. Exchange of best practices, experiences and knowledge on how to raise IP awareness among the public, businesses and educational institutions of both countries;
ii. Exchange of experts for interacting with the human resources engaged in specialized IP fields;
iii. Exchange and dissemination of best practices, experiences and knowledge on IP with industry, Universities, research and development organizations and Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) through participation in programs, training, and events, organised singly or jointly by the participants;
iv. Cooperation in the development of automation arid implementation of modernization projects, new and existing documentation and information systems in IP and procedures for management of IP;
v. Cooperation to understand how traditional knowledge is protected; and the exchange of best practices, including traditional knowledge related data bases and awareness raising of existing IP systems;
vi. Collaboration in IP related training for local IP and business communities, and
vii. any other cooperation activities they may mutually decide uponwithin the scope of this MoU.
· Cabinet approves certain official amendments to the National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill
The Union Cabinet chaired by Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved certain official amendments to the National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill.The Amendment to the NMC Bill comes in the backdrop of its consideration in the Lok Sabha on 02.01.2018 and subsequently being referred to the Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee (DRPSC). The Government has considered the recommendations made by the Standing Committee in itsreport tabled in the House on 20.03.2018 and general feedback, particularly the views of medical students and practitioners regarding certain provisions of the Bill.
The Amendments include:
i. Final MBBS Examination to be held as a common exam across the country and would serve as an exit test called the National Exit Test (NEXT):
Having considered the common demand by the students not to subject them to an additional licentiate exam for the purpose of getting license to practice, the Cabinet has approved that thefinal MBBS examination would be held as a common exam throughout the country and wouldserve as an exit test to be called the National Exit Test (NEXT). Thus, the students would not have to appear in a separate exam after MBBS to get license to practice. NEXT would also serveas the screening test for doctors with foreign medical qualifications in order to practice in India.
ii. Provision of Bridge course for AYUSH practitioners to practice modern medicine removed:
The provision dealing with bridge course for AYUSH practitioners to practice modern medicine to a limited extent has also been removed. It has been left to the State Governments to takenecessary measures for addressing and promoting primary health care in rural areas.
iii. Fee regulation for 50% seats in private medical institutions and deemed universities:
The maximum limit of 40% seats for which fee would be regulated in private medicalinstitutions and deemed universities has been increased to 50% seats. Further, it has been clarified that the fee would also include all other charges taken by the colleges.
iv. Number of nominees from States and UTs in NMC increased from 3 to 6:
Responding to the demands from States to increase their representation in the NMC, thenominees of States and UTs in the NMC have been increased from 3 to 6. The NMC willcomprise of 25 members of which at least 21 will be doctors.
v. Monetary penalty for a medical college non-compliant with the norms replaced with provision for different penalty options
Another major concern gathered during discussion with stakeholders was the wide range of monetary penalty, ranging from one half to ten times the annual fee recovered from a batch, to be imposed in a graded manner on a medical college non-compliant with the norms. The clause has been replaced with a provision which provides different options for warning, reasonable monetary penalty, reducing intake, stoppage of admission leading up to withdrawal of recognition.
vi. Stringent punishment for unqualified medical practitioners or quacks:
The government is concerned about the quality and safety of health care being made available to the citizens and the need to act strictly against unqualified practitioners or quacks. The punishment for any unauthorized practice of medicine has been made severe by including a provision for imprisonment of up to one year along with a fine extending up to Rs. 5 lakhs.
· Cabinet approves Schemes of North Eastern Council (NEC) including continuation of existing Schemes
The Union Cabinet chaired by Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the following schemes of M/o DONER for continuation till March, 2020: Under the Schemes of NEC – Special Development Projects, with the existing funding pattern (90:10 basis) for ongoing projects and on 100% Central funding for new projects; For other projects funded by NEC – both Revenue and Capital – as 100% Central funding basis, to continue with existing pattern; Extension of 100% centrally funded North Eastern Road Sector Development Scheme (NERSDS); Transfer to NEC for implementation, the Non-Lapsable Central Pool of Resources (NLCPR-C); Proposal to ensure optimization of resources through convergence of efforts of various Ministries/Departments. The projects under the existing Schemes of NEC, NLCPR (Central) and NERSDS will accrue socio-economic benefits to the people of North Eastern Region enhancing their capabilities and livelihood.
Presently, the major chunk of projects (599 projects out of 840) with 72.12% approved cost (Rs.5375.12 crore out of total Rs.7453.02 crore) and 66% of pending liabilities (Rs 1518.64 crore out of Rs 2299.72 crore) for all ongoing projects is funded through “the Schemes of NEC- Special Development Project”-wherein funds for the selected projects are shared between Centre and State on 90:10 basis and the execution of work is done by the respective State Governments. Apart from this, some funds are provided – both Revenue and Capital – as 100% Central funding basis, implemented through State and Central agencies.
The Scheme of NEC – Special Development Project will be changed to be a Central Sector Scheme with 100% grant, instead of the earlier block grant on 90:10 basis. The remaining component will continue to be funded on 100% Central funding basis as at present. Apart from the above, NEC is also implementing “North Eastern Road Sector Development Scheme – Programme Component” for upgradation of the important and strategic inter-state roads. Transferred from DONER to NEC for implementation, the scheme is 100% Centrally funded. A sum of Rs. 1000 crore has been allocated under the scheme.
Another Scheme namely “Non Lapsable Central Pool of Resources-Central [NLCPR (Central)]”, presently funded by M/o DoNER, provides resources to the concerned line Ministries/their agencies for projects like Agartala-Akhaura Rail Link, checking erosion in Majuli Island. This Scheme will also be transferred to NEC for implementation.
Previously, there was no fixed arrangement for distributing the funds into State or Central component. Now, the total funds available to NEC are proposed to be bifurcated in two components (State component – 60% and Central component – 40%). The State component would be utilised for the projects in each State as per their share on normative allocation basis. For the Central component, the projects having regional character, requiring Inter-Ministerial intervention are to be taken up. Priority sectors have been identified such as bamboo; piggery; regional tourism; higher education, tertiary healthcare & special intervention in backward areas; livelihood project; Science & Technology Interventions in NER; Survey & Investigation and NER Promotion.
By the above, a clear apportionment or division of sectors is ensured between DoNER and NEC to avoid duplication. In order to give a boost to the Tourism in NE Region, amongst other things, the outstanding liabilities in tourism sector under Product Infrastructure Development for Destinations & Circuits (PIDDC) may also be addressed. Further, a mechanism on the pattern of Standing Finance Committee (SFC) with representatives from the concerned line Ministries and from Ministry of DoNER would be constituted under the Chairmanship of Secretary, NEC for approval of the projects costing between Rs. 5-15 crore. This is aimed at bringing synergy with programmes of other Union Ministries and avoiding of duplication through process of SFC.
· Cabinet approves continuation of the Credit Guarantee Fund for Education Loans Scheme and continuation and modification of Central Sector Interest Subsidy Scheme
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs under the Chairmanship of Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has given its approval for continuation of Credit Guarantee Fund for Education Loans Scheme and continuation and modification of Central Sector Interest Subsidy Scheme with a financial outlay of Rs. 6,600 crore for period from 2017-18 to 2019-20. This will provide education loans to 10 lakh students during this period.
Modifications in the present proposal:
i. In order to allow more students to access the benefit, (and also considering that the average loan size has been only Rs. 4 lakhs), the ceiling on the loan amount has been refixed at Rs. 7.5 lakhs.
ii. The moratorium period would be course period + 1 year.
iii. To promote quality education, the scheme would cover loans for pursuing professional/technical courses from NAAC/NBA accredited Institutions/programmes or Institutions of National Importance or Central Funded Technical Institutions (CFTIs). This condition would however, be applicable with prospective effect, and would not apply to the current loans.
iv. A dashboard would be put in place for better monitoring of the scheme.
As against the scheme which ran since 2009, in which average educational loans per year were only 2.78 lakhs, under the revised scheme, the number of loans per year are expected to be at least 3.3 lakhs, showing a 20% increase over the previous scheme.The above restructuring of the scheme is in accordance with the policy of the Government to make good quality education affordable to all.
· Cabinet approves Export of all edible oils in bulk (except mustard oil)
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the proposal of Ministry of Commerce & Industry for removal of prohibition on export of all varieties of edible oils except mustard oil. Mustard oil will continue to be exported only in consumer packs upto 5 Kgs and with a minimum export price of US $ 900 per tonne.
The CCEA has also approved empowering the Committee, chaired by Secretary, Department of Food & Public Distribution and comprising Secretaries of Department of Commerce, Department of Agriculture, Cooperation & Farmers Welfare, Department of Revenue, Department of Consumer Affairs and DGFT, to review the export/import policy on all varieties of edible oils and consider measures such as quantitative restrictions, prior registration, imposition of Minimum Export Price (MEP) and changes in import duties depending on domestic production and demand, domestic and international prices and international trade volumes. The Inter-Ministerial Committee, headed by the Commerce Secretary, mandated to review the export of edible oils in consumer packs & calibrate MEP from time to time, has been discontinued.
Removing of restrictions on export of all edible oils is likely to provide additional marketing avenues for edible oils and oilseeds and will benefit the farmers by way of better realisation for oilseeds. Allowing export of edible oils may also result in utilization of idle capacity in India’s edible oils industry and is a step towards Ease of Doing Business by removing confusion arising out of prohibition on export of edible oils and a plethora of exemptions.
· Cabinet approves formulation of a new Integrated Scheme for School Education from 1st April, 2018 to 31st March, 2020
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the proposal of Department of School Education and Literacy to formulate a Integrated Scheme on School Education by subsuming Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) and Teacher Education (TE) from 1st April, 2018 to 31st March, 2020. An estimated allocation of Rs 75,000 crore over the period has been approved which is a 20% increase over the current allocations. The scheme comes in the backdrop of PM’s vision of Sabko Shiksha, Achhi Shiksha and aims to support the States in universalizing access to school education from classes pre-nursery to XII across the country.
Main Features of the Scheme:
The vision of the Scheme is to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education from nursery to senior secondary stage in accordance with the Sustainable Development Goal for Education. The main emphasis of the Integrated Scheme is on improving quality of school education by focussing on the two T’s – Teacher and Technology. The objectives of the Scheme, across all levels of schooling, are:
i. Provision of quality education and enhancing learning outcomes of students;
ii. Bridging Social and Gender Gaps in School Education;
iii. Ensuring equity and inclusion at all levels of school education;
iv. Ensuring minimum standards in schooling provisions;
v. Promoting vocationalization of education;
vi. Support States in implementation of Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009; and
vii. Strengthening and up-gradation of State Councils for Educational Research and Training (SCERTs)/State Institutes of Education and District Institutes for Education and Training (DIET) as nodal agencies for teacher training.
The Scheme gives flexibility to the States and UTs to plan and prioritize their interventions within the scheme norms and the overall resource envelope available to them. It will help improve the transition rates across the various levels of school education and aid in promoting universal access to children to complete school education. The Scheme, by providing quality education, aims to equip the children with varied skills and knowledge essential for their holistic development and prepare them for the world of work or higher education in the future. It would lead to an optimal utilization of budgetary allocations and effective use of human resources and institutional structures created for the erstwhile Schemes.
o Holistic approach to education
o Inclusion of senior secondary levels and pre-school levels in support for School education for the first time
o An integrated administration looking at ‘school’ as a continuum
o Focus on Quality of Education- Emphasis on improvement of LearningOutcomes
o Enhanced Capacity Building of Teachers
o Focus on strengthening Teacher Education Institutions like SCERTs and DIETs to improve the quality of teacher training
o Enhanced use of digital technology in education through smart classrooms, digital boards and DTK channels
o Specific provision for Swachhta activities – support ‘SwachhVidyalaya’
o Improve the Quality of Infrastructure in Government Schools
o Enhanced Commitment to ‘BetiBachaoBetiPadhao’- Upgradation of KGBVs from class VI -VIII to upto class XII
o Emphasis on ‘KaushalVikas’ in schools
o Support ‘Khelo India’ – provision for sports and physical equipment
o Preference to Educationally Backward Blocks (EBBs), LWEs, Special Focus Districts (SFDs), Border areas and the 115 aspirational districts
· Cabinet approves enhancing the coverage of Pradhan Mantri Rojgar Protsahan Yojana
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has given its approval for enhancing the scope of Pradhan Mantri Rojgar Protsahan Yojana (PMRPY). The Government of India will now contribute the Employer’s full admissible contribution for the first three years from the date of registration of the new employee for all the sectors including existing beneficiaries for their remaining period of three years.
The informal sector workers would get social safety net and there would be more job creation. Till now, the scheme has produced quite encouraging results and have added about 31 Lakhs beneficiaries to the formal employment involving an expenditure of more than Rs. 500 crore.
· Cabinet approves continuation, strengthening and establishment of KrishiVigyanKendras till 2019-20
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the proposal of the Department of Agricultural Research and Education for continuation / strengthening, upto 2019-20, of 669 Krishi Vigyan Kendras(KVKs) established till 31.03.2017, 11 Agricultural Technology Application Research Institutes (ATARIs), support to the Directorates of Extension Education (DEEs) of Agricultural Universities (AUs) and all special programmes associated with the Scheme and establishment of 76 spill over KVKs as already approved in the 12th Plan.
The financial outlay for the KVK Scheme [including Directorate of Knowledge Management in Agriculture (DKMA)] for 2017-20 shall be of Rs 2,82,400.72 lakh.
The special programmes which shall be initiated through the KVK Scheme are:
o a Network Project on New Extension Methodologies and Approaches; Nutri-sensitive Agricultural Resources and Innovations (NARI);
o programs tilted Knowledge Systems and Homestead Agriculture Management in Tribal Areas (KSHAMTA),
o Value Addition and Technology Incubation Centres in Agriculture (VATICA),
o Farm Innovation Resource Management (FIRM) and
o establishment of Agricultural Technology Information Centre.
Besides, Rain Water Harvesting, Integrated Farming System (IFS) Processing, Fish seed production, ICT enabled services, green agriculture and strengthening of soil health program shall also be supported. Further two important programmes approved include the Farmer FIRST at 52 centres and Attracting and Retaining Youth in Agriculture (ARYA) for 100 Districts.
The ARYA component is being implemented currently in 25 States through KVKs, one district from each State with technical partners from ICAR Institutes and Agricultural Universities for taking up entrepreneurial activities through skill development of rural youth leading to employment generation. During the year 2015-16, and 2016-17, youth numbering 1,100 and 4,400 respectively have been engaged through ARYA. It is, planned to enlarge this component to cover 100 districts by adding 75 more districts during 2017-20 period. The capacity development of farmers and vocational training to youth (about 14 lakh annually) will improve fruitful engagement in farming.
KVK may facilitate convergence and act as the nodal agency of several schemes of the Department of Agriculture Cooperation and Farmers Welfare, Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries, Ministry of Food Processing Industries and other Departments and Ministries focused on agricultural and rural development through schemes like the Soil Health Card Scheme, the Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana, Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana, the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana; the National Gokul Mission; the National Livestock Mission and the Pradhan Mantri Kisan SAMPADA Yojana to address issues relating to micro irrigation, Integrated Nutrient Management (INM), Integrated Pest Management (IPM), Livestock Management, Processing and Value addition and use of mobile technology etc.
· Cabinet approves continuation of Nutrient Based Subsidy and City Compost Scheme till 2019-20
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the proposal of the Department of Fertilizers for continuation of Nutrient Based Subsidy (NBS)and City Compost Scheme beyond 12th Five Year plan till 2019-20. The total expenditure for continuation of both the schemes till 2019-20 will be Rs. 61,972 crore.
The expenditure for the scheme will be on actual basis since national roll out of DBT entails 100% payment of subsidy to fertilizer companies on sale of fertilizers to farmers at subsidized rates. The subsidy on the P&K fertilizers and Market Development Assistant (MDA) on City Compost will be provided on the subsidy rates approved by the CCEA on annual basis. The continuation of the Nutrient Based Subsidy Scheme and City Compost Scheme will ensure that adequate quantity of P&K is made available to the farmers at statutory controlled price.
· Cabinet approves fixation of Nutrient Based Subsidy rates for Phosphatic and Potassic (P&K) fertilizers for the year 2018-19
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the proposal of the Department of Fertilizers for fixation of Nutrient Based Subsidy (NBS)rates for P&K Fertilizers for the year 2018-19. The approved rates for NBS are as follows:
The CCEA has also accorded ex-post facto approval on the proposal of the Department of Fertilizers subsidy paid on specific quantity of P&K fertilizers received in the districts during February & March months in different years since 2012-13 at the rates fixed for the next financial year which were lower than the rates approved by Cabinet/CCEA for that year.
The CCEA has authorized Department of Fertilizers for releasing subsidy, if required, as per the rates fixed for the financial year or of the next financial year whichever is lower on the specific category/quantity of P&K fertilizers received in districts during February and March months of the year in consultation with Department of Expenditure.
The expected expenditure for release of subsidy on P&K Fertilizers during 2018-19 will be Rs. 23007.16 crore.