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Insights Daily Current Events, 16 July 2015

Insights Daily Current Events, 16 July 2015

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Ottappalam to have India’s first defence industrial park

In a major fillip to industrial infrastructure in the Palakkad region, the Union government’s Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) has approved a proposal from the Kerala Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (Kinfra) to set up the country’s first defence industrial park at Ottappalam.

Ottappalam

Details:

  • The proposed park will be established as part of the Make in India, Make in Kerala project
  • It will have modern common infrastructure facilities aimed at attracting component manufacturers in the defence industry.
  • The Union government has agreed to bring it under the Modified Industrial Infrastructure Upgradation Scheme (MIIUS).
  • The total expenditure for the defence park is estimated at Rs.231.25 crore. Kinfra will invest Rs.181.35 crore, while the rest of the amount is being expected as grant from the Union government.
  • Ottappalam has been selected for the defence park keeping in view its strategic location as far as connectivity was concerned. Apart from common facilities such as dedicated power and water supply, the park will have a research and development centre.

Industrial Infrastructure Upgradation Scheme:

  • In 2003, an Industrial Infrastructure Upgradation Scheme (IIUS) was launched to enhance the industry’s competitiveness by providing infrastructure through the public-private partnership model in selected functional clusters. Under the scheme, central assistance would be provided for as much as 75% of the project cost, subject to a ceiling of Rs. 5 crore.
  • In February 2009, the plan was recast based on the recommendations of an independent evaluation.
  • The government, uly 2013, approved the Modified Industrial Infrastructure Upgradation Scheme (MIIUS) with an outlay of Rs 1,030 crore during the 12th Five Year Plan period ending March 2017. It includes Rs. 450 crore for committed liability and the remaining Rs. 580 crore for taking up 14 to16 new projects including a minimum 2 projects in the North Eastern Region (NER) for upgradation of infrastructure in existing or greenfield industrial clusters. And at least 10% outlay will be set aside for the minimum two projects in the NER.
  • All States are covered under the scheme.

Sources: The Hindu, PIB.

SC asks govt. to review drug pricing policy

The Supreme Court recently directed the government to have a re-look at the drug pricing policy to help make life-saving medicines affordable for the common man.

  • The court also observed that there is an impression the government favours pharmaceutical companies and is not pro-poor. Hence, the court asked the Department of Pharmaceuticals under the Ministries of Health and Chemical and Fertilisers to re-examine the National Pharmaceutical Policy (NPP) 2012 and Drug Pricing Control Order (DPCO) of 2013 in light of several recommendations made by NGO All India Drug Action Network.
  • The bench also wanted the government to address the NGO’s concern that prices of drugs were fixed at levels which gave 5,000 times profit to the maker.

Background:

  • The NGO in a public interest petition had raised objections on the formula for drug pricing.
  • It said the formula institutionalised “super-profits in the guise of price control, excluded from price control life-saving medicines for diseases such as malaria and TB, excluded all fixed dose combinations which amount to 50 per cent of the market.”
  • The NGO said the government’s pricing policy further excluded essential medicines belonging to the same chemical class, besides drugs provided in the national health programmes such as for HIV, diabetes, hypertension and anaemia, medicines with appropriate dosages for children and patented medicines.
  • The DPCO lists 348 drugs for price control. The NGO wants the list to be extended to include all drugs on the national list of life-saving drugs.

National Pharmaceutical Pricing policy, 2012:

  • The government had approved the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Policy (NPPP) in 2012.
  • This policy at bringing 348 essential drugs under price control and also lead to reduction in prices. With this, the Govt would control prices of 348 essential drugs.
  • The policy debars the companies from using the Wholesale Price Index (WPI) to increase the prices of the essential medicines on their own each year. Thus, the companies had to seek approval from the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority whenever they wanted to increase the prices of the items covered under the Drug Price Control Order.

Sources: The Hindu, PIB, NPPA.

Telangana first State to make IT parks differently abled-friendly

Telangana will soon be the first State in the country to make its IT and ITES buildings differently abled-friendly.

Details:

  • In a first-of-its-kind initiative undertaken by the NASSCOM Foundation, 175 companies based out of two IT parks in Hyderabad will go for retrofitting their buildings to suit the needs of differently abled employees.
  • This would mean that companies will have common areas including cafeterias, restrooms, cubicles and elevators with facilities to aid their current and prospective employees who are differently-abled.
  • From entry and exit gates that have ramps to placing biometric devices at accessible heights and washrooms that have handles for wheelchair-bound people, retrofitting is expected to ensure inclusive work environments.
  • Efforts are also on to make websites of these companies accessible to such persons by including voice features among others.

Implications:

  • The process is expected to increase the percentage of differently abled employees in these companies within a span of five years.
  • Currently, on an average, differently-abled persons constitute just 1% of the workforce in most companies in the sector.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.

Mysore Silk to celebrate centenary in August

The Karnataka State Silk Industries Corporation is all set to commemorate the centenary of Mysore Silk Factory in August this year. The factory turned 100 three years ago but the celebrations could not take place for various reasons.

About Mysore Silk factory:

  • The Mysore Silk factory is one of the oldest and historical silk manufacturing units in the country.
  • It was founded by the Wadiyars in 1912 for manufacturing silk fabrics for the royal family and ornamental fabrics for armed forces.

Mysore_Silk_Saree

Mysore Silk has also received GI tag.

The GI tag is an indication which is definite to a geographical territory. It is used for agricultural, natural and manufactured goods. For a product to get GI tag, the goods need to be produced or processed or prepared in that region. It is also essential that the product has special quality or reputation.

Sources: The Hindu, PIB.

Controversial Bill on migrants goes

A special session of the Manipur Assembly recently withdrew the controversial Manipur Regulation of Visitors, Tenants and Migrant Workers Bill, 2015. The Bill was passed in March.

  • This is the first time in the State a Bill passed by the House has been withdrawn. The state government said that it will introduce a new bill within three months.
  • A special session of the Manipur Assembly was held to discuss the demands of the people to introduce a Bill to check influx of illegal immigrants who threaten the indigenous populace of Manipur.

Why the Bill was opposed?

  • The Bill had come under attack from those demanding implementation of Inner Line Permit (ILP) in the state, who charged saying the bill did little to protect the interests of indigenous people of the state.
  • Locals had rejected the bill passed in March, saying it does not provide the same protection as the ILP system. It claimed the “influx of migrants” is affecting the social, cultural and political practices of the people of Manipur.

In 2012, the Union government had turned down a demand from the Manipur government to implement ILP in the state.

manipur migrant crisis

What is Inner Line Permit?

  • The ILP, which has its origins in British regulations dating back to 1873, regulates the entry of non-domicile citizens into restricted regions in the northeastern states.
  • It is currently in force in Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram and people from other parts of India are required to obtain a permit to visit these states.
  • The ILP is issued under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873, by the state governments.
  • It can only be used for travel purpose and not for permanent residency in the area.
  • Even, Indian citizens who wish to travel to these places have to obtain ILP.
  • Critics of the ILP system say it creates unnecessary hurdles for development and trade activities and impedes the growth of tourism.

Sources: The Hindu, BS, PIB, Wiki.

90% of enclave dwellers give choice of nation

India and Bangladesh will complete a survey asking each of the 51,000 people living in 162 enclaves on the border to give their choice of citizenship of either nation this week.

  • The survey precedes the exchange of the enclaves between the two nations under the Land Boundary Agreement signed during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Dhaka a month ago.
  • The survey teams comprise officials of the External Affairs and Home Ministries and the West Bengal government.

About the land swap deal:

The swap will involve handing over 17,000 acres of land to Bangladesh in return for 7,000 acres in 162 enclaves in West Bengal, Assam, Tripura and Meghalaya, and was first decided under the 1974 Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) between India and Bangladesh, but never ratified by Parliament.

  • It required an amendment to the Constitution (the 119th amendment) ratified by both Houses of Parliament with a two-thirds majority.
  • The deal relates to demarcation of boundary under the Land Boundary Agreement between the two countries.

Sources: The Hindu, PIB.

Prime Minister launches National Mission for Skill Development

On the occasion of the first ever World Youth Skills Day (July 15th), the Government has launched SKILL INDIA Campaign.

  • On this historic occasion, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi formally launched the “National Skill Development Mission”

About the National Skill Development Mission:

The National Skill Development Mission aims to provide a strong institutional framework at the Centre and States for implementation of skilling activities in the country.

  • The Mission will have a three-tiered, high powered decision making structure. At its apex, the Mission’s Governing Council, chaired by the Prime Minister, will provide overall guidance and policy direction.
  • The Steering Committee, chaired by Minister in Charge of Skill Development, will review the Mission’s activities in line with the direction set by the Governing Council. The Mission Directorate, with Secretary, Skill Development as Mission Director, will ensure implementation, coordination and convergence of skilling activities across Central Ministries/Departments and State Governments.
  • The Mission will also run select sub-missions in high priority areas.
  • The National Skill Development Agency (NSDA), the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) and the Directorate of Training will function under the overall guidance of the Mission.
  • The Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) provides a natural home for the Mission, organically linking all three decisions making levels and facilitating linkages to all Central Ministries/Departments and State Governments.

Sources: PIB.

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