Road Tax

Transferring vehicles from one state to another could become hassle-free soon if a recommendation by a group of state transport ministers is accepted by the government.

The group of ministers (GoM) constituted by the Union road transport and highways ministry, which met on Friday in Guwahati, has recommended a uniform structure of road tax for vehicles across states, a senior government official said. The GoM is headed by Rajasthan transport minister  Yunus Khan.

The recommendation, if accepted will allow the transfer of vehicles from one state to another without levying road tax. The GoM has also recommended national passenger vehicles permit for passenger cars.

Noting that the Centre has the powers to decide the principles on which the motor vehicles tax can be levied, the GoM recommended that the tax is based on invoice price of the vehicles. It has recommended three slabs, 8 percent tax on vehicles below 10 lakhs, 10 percent for vehicles costing between 10 -20 lakhs, and 12 percent for vehicles above 20 lakhs. Diesel vehicles may have to pay 2 percent extra taxes, while electric vehicles will be given a two percent discount.

However, implementing the uniform road tax structure won’t be easy as all states will have to come on board.

The GoM has also recommended a national bus and taxi permit on lines of such permit for goods transport.

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e-FRRO Scheme

The Union home ministry on Friday flagged off the e-FRRO (e-Foreigners Regional Registration Office) scheme to expedite visa services for foreigners visiting India.

The e-FRRO scheme is aimed at building a centralized, transparent online platform for foreigners to avail visa related services and to provide faceless, cashless and paperless services to the foreigners with a user-friendly experience,”

The e-FRRO scheme is likely to be a quantum leap “in improving the ease of service delivery with respect to foreigners visiting and staying in India. In the new system, foreigners would be able to get as many as 27 visas and immigration-related services in India from the comfort of their place of stay,” the ministry said in a statement.

 

Using the e-FRRO application, foreigners can apply online and obtain the services through email or post without appearing in person at the FRRO office.

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Project Dhoop

In the backdrop of rising incidence of Vitamin D Deficiencies (VDD), particularly amongst the young people, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) recently launched a campaign to spread awareness about availing Vitamin D through natural sunlight.

The campaign called ‘Project Dhoop’ was implemented in collaboration with the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC), NCERT and North MCD Schools.

Through this unique initiative, the FSSAI urged schools to shift their morning assembly to noon time mainly between 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. to ensure maximum absorption of Vitamin D to students through natural sunlight.

Project Dhoop’s Noon Assembly is an innovative and effective concept to ensure that school students get adequate Vitamin D through sunlight, while also opting to choose food products like milk and edible oils that are fortified with Vitamins A and D.

Nearly 90% of body’s Vitamin D requirement is met by adequate exposure to sunlight and only 10% is met through diet. Contrary to popular belief that morning sunshine is best for our bones, it is actually the sunshine from 11 AM to 1 PM that is most beneficial in increasing Vitamin D levels in the human body because of best UVB radiations”

The body needs micronutrients including vitamins to produce enzymes, hormones and other substances which are essential for proper growth and development. Vitamin A, D, B12, Iron, Folic Acid and Iodine are most important one.

Insufficient amount of these vitamins pose a major threat to the health and development of populations across the world, particularly children and pregnant women in countries like India.

For Vitamin D, fish and its products are the only real sources. Many factors are responsible for Vitamin D deficiency including overuse of sunscreen, wearing clothes that cover most of the skin, working inside all day in the air-conditioned atmosphere etc.

Most parts of India receive abundant sunshine throughout the year. Yet shockingly, studies have found that more than 90 percent of boys and girls across various Indian cities are deficient in Vitamin D. In Delhi alone, 90-97 percent of school children (aged 6-17 years) have Vitamin D Deficiency.

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Van Dhan Vikas Kendra

Minor Forest Produce (MFP) is 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. It provides them critical subsistence during the lean seasons, particularly for primitive tribal groups such as hunter-gatherers, and the landless. Tribals derive 20-40% of their annual income from MFP on which they spend a major portion of their time. 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.

Ministry of Tribal Affairs has taken a number of initiatives for socio-economic development of tribals like introduction Forest rights Act, PESA Act and have been implementing schemes for development of MFP by providing financial support to State TDCCs and TRIFED for market development of MFPs. Recognizing the critical importance which MFP hold for tribals and its potential to create large-scale employment opportunity thereby, helping in reducing poverty and increasing empowerment of tribals particularly women and poor people of the poorest and backward districts of the country, 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 a 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 and covers 24 MFPs.

Value addition assumes critical importance in ensuring remunerative prices to the tribals in this approach. Three stage value addition would be the cornerstone for enhancing incomes of the tribals under the scheme. The grass root level procurement is proposed to be undertaken through SHGs associated with Implementing Agencies. Convergence and Networking with other Govt. departments/scheme shall be undertaken to utilise the services of existing SHGs like Ajeevika, etc.  These SHGs shall be appropriately trained on sustainable harvesting/collection, primary processing & value addition and be formed into clusters so as to aggregate their stock in tradable quantity and linking them with a facility of primary processing in a Van Dhan Vikas Kendra.

The Ministry of Tribal Affairs has approved the establishment of the first multipurpose “Van Dhan Vikas Kendra” on a pilot basis for the establishment in Bijapur  District of Chhattisgarh State for providing skill upgradation and capacity building training and setting up of primary processing and value addition facility. This first model Van Dhan Vikas Kendra is being implemented for the training of 300 beneficiaries with a total outlay of Rs 43.38 lakhs for training, providing equipment & tools for primary level processing and infrastructure & building for housing the Kendra.

TRIFED has assigned the work for the establishment of this pilot Vikas Kendra in Bijapur District of Chattisgarh to CGMFP Federation and Collector, Bijapur would be the coordinating force. The selection of the tribal beneficiaries and formation of the SHGs has been undertaken by TRIFED and the training is scheduled to start from 10th April 2018. To start with Van Dhan Vikas Kendra is being established in a Panchayat Building so that the primary processing can be commenced by the SHGs. The Kendra will be shifted to its own building once the same is ready.

The Van Dhan Vikas Kendras will be an important milestone in the economic development of tribals involved in the collection of MFPs by helping them in optimum utilization of natural resources and provide a sustainable MFP-based livelihood in MFP-rich districts.

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Ban On Imports Of Oxytocin Hormone

The Union government banned imports of the hormone oxytocin to stop its misuse in the livestock industry, where activists say it causes hormonal imbalances and shortens the lives of milch animals.

Often called the ‘love hormone’, oxytocin is released naturally in human bonding activities such as sex, childbirth and breastfeeding.

The government also asked customs officials to step up vigilance against those likely to try and smuggle oxytocin into India, the Central Board of Excise and Customs said in a notice on its website.

The government has decided to rely on domestic production to satisfy requirements of the hormone.

The drug’s abuse in animals shortens their lives and makes them barren sooner, India’s Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi has said.

India halted retail sales of the prescription-only drug in 2014, but regulators have struggled to curb illegal sales, and the volume of imports is unclear.

Ban follows an order by the drugs regulator last year for officials to clamp down on factories that produce the hormone in bulk despite not meeting manufacturing standards.

A panel of top drug experts had recommended an import ban in February, the minutes of their meeting, posted on the drug regulator’s website, show.

It also recommended that sale is limited to registered government hospitals and clinics, a bar code system used on all forms of the drug to ensure tracking and prevent abuse.

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Gobardhan Yojana

Gobardhan Yojna, a central government scheme for managing and converting cattle dung and solid waste into manure and biogas, will be launched nationally from Haryana’s Karnal on April 30, an official said today.

Gobar is an acronym for Galvanising Organic Bio-Agro Resources. Through the scheme, the government aims to ensure cleanliness in villages and generate energy by converting cattle dung and solid agricultural waste into compost and biogas.

The scheme was announced by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his budget speech this year. The government aims to cover nearly 700 districts under the scheme in this financial year.

A few European countries and China have managed to produce biogas on a large-scale by effectively utilising cattle dung, the official said.

The assistance of experts would be sought for setting up the plants. The central and state governments would provide funds in the ratio of 60:40, which would depend upon the number of households in villages.

Union Minister for Drinking Water and Sanitation, Uma Bharti, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, experts and farmers would participate in the launch programme on April 30.

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Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana

The Centre has allowed states to set up their own insurance companies for implementing Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY). Presently, five public sector insurers and 13 private insurance companies are empanelled for implementation of the scheme.

The move comes after several requests from states as well as observations made by Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in its 2017 report that old crop insurances schemes which have now been merged with PMFBY, were poorly implemented during 2011-2016.

The PMFBY, launched in April 2016, compensates farmers for any losses in crop yield. In the event of a crop loss, the farmer will be paid based on the difference between the threshold yield and actual yield. The threshold yield is calculated based on average yield for the last seven years and the extent of compensation is set according to the degree of risk for the notified crop. The scheme is compulsory for farmers who have availed of institutional loans.

The scheme insures farmers against a wide range of external risks — droughts, dry spells, floods, inundation, pests and diseases, landslides, natural fire and lightning, hailstorms, cyclones, typhoons, tempests, hurricanes and tornadoes. The scheme also covers post-harvest losses up to a period of 14 days.

The Scheme covers all Food & Oilseeds crops and Annual Commercial/Horticultural Crops for which past yield data is available and for which requisite number of Crop Cutting Experiments (CCEs) are conducted being under General Crop Estimation Survey (GCES).

The scheme is implemented by empanelled general insurance companies. Selection of Implementing Agency (IA) is done by the concerned State Government through bidding. The scheme is compulsory for loanee farmers availing Crop Loan /KCC account for notified crops and voluntary for other others. The scheme is being administered by Ministry of Agriculture.

While the idea of insuring farmers against crop losses isn’t new, the PMFBY is an attempt to plug the holes in the older crop insurance schemes — the National Agriculture Insurance Scheme (NAIS) introduced in 1999 and the Modified NAIS (mNAIS) introduced in 2011.

These older schemes didn’t find too many takers among farmers, the main dampener being their limited risk coverage. In mNAIS, the premium was capped at 8 to 12 percent of the sum insured to limit the government’s subsidy outgo. Thus, for crops where actuarial rates were higher (that is, the premiums were steeper), insurance companies proportionally reduced the sum insured. Many a time, the ‘compensation’ fell way short of even the farmer’s cost of production.

The Fasal Bima Yojana has done away with this cap on premium. The sum insured per hectare for a farmer is now decided by the District Level Technical Committee and is pre-declared and notified by the State Level Coordination Committee on Crop Insurance.

The farmer also pays less — the premium he shells out is 2 percent of the sum insured for all kharif crops and 1.5 percent of it for all rabi crops. For horticulture and commercial crops, the premium is 5 percent of sum covered. The remaining premium is paid by the government.

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National Culture Fund Scheme

National Culture Fund (NCF) set up as a Trust under the Charitable Endowment Act, 1890 on 28th November 1996 by the Government, with a view to mobilizing extra resources through Public-Private Partnerships has successfully completed 34 projects since inception, thus, promoting, protecting and preserving India’s cultural heritage.

The National Culture Fund is managed and administered by a council headed by Hon’ble Culture Minister to decide the policies and an Executive Committee headed by Secretary, Culture to actualize those policies. The Fund aims at inviting the participation of the corporate sector, non-government organizations, private/public sector as well as individuals in the task of promoting, protecting and preserving India’s cultural heritage.

The Government has granted INR 19.50 crore as one-time corpus fund to National Culture Fund out of the planned budget. Apart from this, there is no fund allocated by the Government to National Culture Fund. Besides this, NCF receives contributions and voluntary donations as endowments from many other sources.

All the projects undertaken by the NCF are completed within a specified period, in accordance with a MoU signed by NCF with the concerned donor organization. Accordingly, any ongoing project is supposed to be completed in several stages for which adequate funding is made available by the donor at such different stages. Consequently, there is always some unspent balance lying with NCF in respect of such ongoing projects which are still awaiting completion. This reasons for the funds remaining unspent.

National Cultural Fund

National Culture Fund (NCF) was established in 1996 as a trust under Ministry of Culture. NCF’s primary mandate is to establish & nurture Public-Private Partnerships in the field of heritage and mobilize resources for the restoration, conservation, protection and development of India’s rich, natural, tangible and intangible heritage.

A large number of projects, both in the form of tangible projects like restoration, conservation of old ASI monuments , provision of Tourist Amenities at the historical sites; and intangible projects like capacity building of artisans, training programmes, books publications , cultural events , etc. have been undertaken through the National Culture Fund (NCF) of Ministry of Culture.

The contributions to NCF are made by the corporate houses to undertake the development of Tangible & Intangible heritage on a project mode basis.

NCF already has such partnerships with some Corporates like NTPC, ONGC, SAIL, HUDCO, REC, Apeejay Group etc. who have provided funds for such heritage projects.

The donations/contributions to NCF are eligible for 100% tax deduction under Section 80G(2)(iii hh) of the Income Tax Act, 1961 subject to the limits and conditions prescribed in the said Section and relevant Rules

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Delhi becomes first city to roll-out Euro VI fuel

With an aim to combat the rising levels of air pollution in Delhi-NCR region, petrol pumps in the capital from Sunday started supplying ultra-clean Bharat Stage VI grade fuel (both petrol and diesel). This move makes New Delhi the first city in the country to switch from BS-IV grade fuels to BS-VI (equivalent to fuel meeting Euro-VI emission norms). Other cities like Noida, Ghaziabad, Gurugram and Faridabad along with 13 major cities, including  Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Pune, will also switch over to cleaner BS-VI grade fuel from January 1 next year. However, BS- VI fuel will be rolled out in rest of the country by April 2020.

Difference between BS-IV and the new BS-VI

The major difference in standards between the existing BS-IV and the new BS-VI auto fuel norms is the presence of sulphur. The newly introduced fuel is estimated to reduce the amount of sulphur released by 80 percent, from 50 parts per million to 10 ppm. As per the analysts, the emission of NOx (nitrogen oxides) from diesel cars is also expected to reduce by nearly 70 percent and 25 percent from cars with petrol engines.

However, the introduction of higher grade fuel will be beneficial only if it is done in tandem with the roll-out of BS-VI compliant vehicles. Using BS-VI fuel in the current BS-IV engines or, conversely, running BS-VI engines on the current-grade fuel, may be ineffective in curbing vehicular pollution, and may damage the engine in the long run.

It was decided in 2015 that the country will switch from BS-IV grade fuel to BS-VI grade fuel by April 2020. While the deadline stands for the rest of the country, in Delhi the authorities were compelled to advance the introduction of a cleaner fuel looking at the deteriorating conditions of the air quality. The decision was taken by the Petroleum Ministry on November last year, where it stated that BS-VI grade auto fuels would be dispensed with effect from April 1, 2018, instead of the scheduled April 1, 2020. The ministry had then said the advancement was part of the government’s “concerted efforts to reduce vehicular emissions and improve fuel efficiency with an aim to reduce the carbon footprints and keep a healthy environment.”

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e-Tribes India

The Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India, (TRIFED), under the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, is going Digital as per the vision document of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Government of India. The “e-Tribes India” would be launched tomorrow by the Union Tribal Affairs Minister, Shri Jual Oram. The Minister of State for Tribal Affairs, Shri Jaswantsinh Sumanbhai Bhabhor and the Minister of State for Tribal Affairs, Shri Sudarshan Bhagat will also grace the occasion.

The Launch of e-Tribes, TRIFED’s websites includes www.tribesindia.com, www.trifed.in and Retail Inventory Software and M-commerce app. Besides, the occasion will also mark the launch of ‘Tribes India’ Banners at Amazon, Snapdeal, Paytm & GeM. TRIFED’s Handbook for Retail Trade and TRIFED’s quarterly magazine ‘Tribes Haat’ will also be inaugurated.

TRIFED has developed its own e-commerce (electronic commerce) website i.e., tribesindia.com for sale of all its products and to tap m-commerce (mobile commerce) too. An Android App is also in place as well on Google store (Tribes India) which can be downloaded on any Android-enabled smartphone and sale can happen from this mobile app through the Android smartphone.

Going Digital will lead to an expansion of tribal commerce and the availability of tribal products over a large area, reaping greater benefits for tribal artisans. Retail Trade of tribal products would expand all over the country and the world.

TRIFED has entered into agreements with e-commerce platforms like Snapdeal and Amazon who will offer their customers various tribal products and produce through their portals www.snapdeal.com and www.amazon.com respectively to facilitate the online sale. On the request of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Ministry of Commerce has also made provision for the sale of tribal products through TRIFED on www.gem.gov.in. Also, Tribes India products are available on Flipkart and Paytm too.

TRIFED has been working on several aspects of marketing of tribal products like the online sale of tribal products through the mobile Android application, participation in Exhibition s,Skill upgradation trainings, Preparation of promotion material on activities of TRIFED among others.

The Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India Limited (TRIFED), a multi-State Cooperative Society under the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, is promoting and marketing tribal products, tribal art and crafts within the country and abroad by providing marketing support to tribal products through its network of 31 retail outlets “TRIBES INDIA”, 37 consignment outlets of various State Emporia and 16 franchisee outlets. It also organizes exhibitions like National Tribal Craft Expo called “Aadi Mahotsav” etc. in which it promotes and markets tribal products. It also facilitates the participation of tribal artisans to enable them to interact directly with art lovers to assess the market needs. In the last three years, it has begun providing e-commerce platforms to the tribal artisans to sell their products.

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