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India became the 35th full member of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR)

India on 27 June 2016 became the 35th full member of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). This entry would be mutually beneficial to enhance global non-proliferation norms.

•    The instrument of accession to MTCR for India was signed in New Delhi by Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar. The entry also marks India's first entry into any multilateral export control regime.
•    The MTCR Point of Contact in Paris conveyed the decision regarding India's accession to the regime through the French Embassy in New Delhi as well as the Embassies of The Netherlands and Luxembourg.
•    India's entry into the regime as its thirty-fifth member would be mutually beneficial in the furtherance of international non-proliferation objectives.
•    It entered this multilateral export control regime with the support of all thirty-four MTCR Partners. In 2015, India’s membership to the group was blocked by Italy.
•    MTCR membership will now enable India to buy high-end missile technology and also enhance its joint ventures with Russia.
•    Set up in 1987 by G-7 countries, the aim of the MTCR is to restrict the proliferation of missiles, complete rocket systems, unmanned air vehicles and related technology for those systems capable of carrying a 500 kilogram payload for at least 300 kilometres, as well as systems intended for the delivery of weapons of mass destruction.

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Union Government approved setting up of District Level Advisory and Monitoring Committees

Union Ministry of Urban Development on 22 June 2016 approved the setting up of District Level Advisory and Monitoring Committees to promote people centric planning and execution of new urban development schemes.
•    These committees will comprise of elected representatives of the country, thus giving Members of Parliament (MP) and Members of Legislative Assembly (MLA) a say in the implementation of the urban development schemes.
•    In a first of its kind, these Committees will oversee, review and monitor implementation of urban development, affordable housing and urban poverty alleviation programmes.
•    Swachh Bharat Mission
•    Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT)
•    Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY)
•    Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Housing for All (Urban) and
•    Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Urban Livelihoods Mission
•    To promote effective citizen involvement
•    To review improvements in service level indicators like water supply,
•    Review progress of implementation of reforms with focus on e-governance and ease of sanctioning of construction permits,
•    Advise state and central governments regarding bottlenecks in implementation,
•    Suggest mid-course correction in implementation
•    Facilitate coordination among various agencies
•    All MLAs from respective districts representing the Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) and Mayors
•    Chairpersons of ULBs
•    Chairpersons and Chief Executives of Urban Development Authorities in districts
•    Commissioners and Chief Executive Officers of ULBs
•    Senior most representatives of the Department of Public Health Engineering and
•    Senior most officials of para-statal bodies like water board and sewerage board
•    District Collector or Municipal Commissioner of metropolitan cities will be the Member Secretary.

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Union Cabinet approves establishment of Fund of Funds for Startups under SIDBI

The Union Cabinet on 22 June 2016 approved the establishment of Fund of Funds for Startups (FFS). The establishment of the fund is in tune with the Start up India Action Plan that was unveiled in January 2016 to boost start up ecosystem in the country.
•    Beneficiaries: It will be utilised for contribution to various Alternative Investment Funds (AIF), registered with Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) which would extend funding support to Startups.
•    Resource allocation: It has a corpus of 10000 crore rupees which shall be built up over the 14th (2015-20) and 15th Finance Commission (2020-25) cycles subject to progress of the scheme and availability of funds.
•    An amount of 500 crore rupees has already been provided to the corpus of FFS in 2015-16 and 600 crore earmarked in the 2016-17.
•    Further provisions will be made as grant assistance through Gross Budgetary Support by Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP).
•    The 10000 crore rupees corpus could potentially be the nucleus for catalyzing 60000 crore rupees of equity investment and twice as much debt investment.
•    This would provide a stable and predictable source of funding for Startup enterprises and thereby facilitate large scale job creation.
•    Employment: On full deployment, the Fund is expected to generate employment for 18 lakh persons on full deployment.
•    Execution: The expertise of the Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) would be utilized to manage the day to day operations of the FFS.
•    Monitoring: The DIPP will monitor and review performance of the fund in line with the Start up India Action Plan.
•    The monitoring and review of performance would be linked to the implementation of the Start Up Action Plan to enable execution as per timelines and milestones.
•    For India, accelerating innovation driven entrepreneurship and business creation through Start-ups is crucial for large-scale employment generation.
•    The NITI Aayog-appointed Tarun Khanna Committee on Innovation and Entrepreneurship opined that India has the potential to build about 2500 highly scalable businesses in the next 10 years.
•    Given the probability of entrepreneurial success that means 10000 Start ups will need to be spawned to get 2500 large scale businesses.
•    However, start-ups face several challenges - limited availability of domestic risk capital, constraints of conventional bank finance, information asymmetry and lack of hand holding support from credible agencies.
•    A large majority of the successful Start-ups have been funded by foreign venture funds and many of them are locating outside the country to receive such funding.
•    A dedicated fund for carrying out Fund of Funds operations would address these issues and enable flow of assistance to innovative Start ups through their journey to become full fledged business entities.
•    This would encompass support at seed stage, early stage and growth stage.
•    Government contribution to the target corpus of the individual Fund as an investor would encourage greater participation of private capital and thus help leverage mobilization of larger resources.

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Union Cabinet approves special package for Textile and Apparel sector

The Union Cabinet on 22 June 2016 approved a Special Package for employment generation and promotion of exports in Textile and Apparel sector.
The package includes a slew of measures which are labour friendly and would promote employment generation, economies of scale and boost exports.
•    Employee Provident Fund Scheme Reforms: The Union Government shall bear the entire 12 percent of the employers’ contribution of the EPF Scheme for new employees of garment industry for first 3 years who are earning less than 15000 rupees per month.
•    At present, 8.33 percent of employer’s contribution is already being provided by the Government under Pradhan Mantri Rozgar Protsahan Yojana (PMRPY).
•    Ministry of Textiles shall provide additional 3.67 percent of the employer’s contribution amounting to 1170 crore rupees over next 3 years.
•    EPF shall be made optional for employees earning less than 15000 rupees per month so that workers will be left with more money in hands.
•    Increasing overtime caps: Overtime hours for workers will not be exceeded 8 hours per week in line with International Labour Organisation (ILO) norms. This measure will lead to increased earnings for the workers
•    Introduction of fixed term employment: Since the industry of seasonal nature, fixed term employment shall be introduced for the garment sector. A fixed term workman will be considered at par with permanent workman in terms of working hours, wages, allowanced and other statutory dues.
•    Additional incentives under ATUFS:  The package breaks new ground in moving from input to outcome based incentives by increasing subsidy under Amended-Technology Up gradation Fund Scheme (TUFS) from 15 percent to 25 percent for the garment sector as a boost to employment generation.
•    A unique feature of the scheme will be to disburse the subsidy only after the expected jobs are created.
•    Enhancing scope of Section 80JJAA of Income Tax Act, 1961: Looking at the seasonal nature of garment industry, the provision of 240 days under Section 80JJAA of Income Tax Act would be relaxed to 150 days for garment industry.
•    Indian textiles industry contributes about 14 percent to the industrial production, 4 per cent to the gross domestic production (GDP) and 11 percent to the country’s export earnings.
•    The textile sector is the second largest provider of employment after agriculture.
•    The growth in this sector is of significance to achieve the objective of inclusive growth as nearly 70 percent employed are women.

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The Union Government has banned use of potassium bromate (KbrO3) as a food additive as it is carcinogenic.

The Union Government on 20 June 2016 banned use of potassium bromate (KbrO3) as a food additive on recommendation of Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).

•    Early in May 2016, FSSAI in its recommendation asked health ministry to remove potassium bromate, a cancer causing chemical, from the list of permissible food additives.
•    The recommendation was made following a study by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) that claimed that potassium bromate, which is classified as a category 2B carcinogen, can be a cause of cancer to humans. 
•    CSE in study found that 84 percent of 38 commonly available brands of pre-packaged breads, including pav and buns, tested positive for potassium bromate and potassium iodate (KIO3).
•    Besides, FSSAI has referred potassium iodate, also claimed to be carcinogenic used as a food additive, to a scientific panel.
•    These two food additives are banned in many countries and listed as hazardous for public health.

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Prime Minsiter released stamps on Surya Namaskara

Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi is a huge Yoga fanatic. Two years ago at the UN General Assembly, he declared the 21st of June, i.e. the longest day in the year, as International Yoga Day.
•    And this year, in commemoration of the second iteration of International Yoga Day, the PM has released a set of postage stamps, based on the Surya Namaskar.
•    The twelve stamps feature all the twelve Asanas that make up the Surya Namaskar.
•    Among the twelve, six stamps have a value of five rupees, and the other six are valued at twenty-five rupees.
•    This marks the kicking off of a worldwide celebration of Yoga as a way of life beyond just exercise.
•    Surya Namaskara is a scientific technique combining twelve asanas in a sequence. 
•    Its origins lie in India where its large Hindu population worships Surya, the Hindu solar deity.
•    This sequence of movements and asanas can be practice on varying levels of awareness, ranging from that of physical exercise in various styles, to a complete sadhana which incorporates asana, pranayama, mantra and chakra meditation. 
•    It is often the beginning vinyasa within a longer yoga series. 
•    Sūrya Namaskāra may also refer to other styles of "Salutations to the Sun". The Sun Salutation is regularly practice in many Indian schools.

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India most open economy in world for FDI according to Indian Government

Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed a sweeping liberalisation of rules on foreign direct investment (FDI) on Monday, saying they would make Asia's third-largest economy the most open in the world.
•    Key reform decisions were taken at a high level meeting chaired by the PM, which makes India the most open economy in the world for FDI,
•    Changes would provide a "major impetus to employment and job creation in India."
•    Government on Monday relaxed FDI norms in a host of sectors including civil aviation, single-brand retail, defence and pharma by permitting more investments under automatic route.
•    Other sectors in which FDI norms have been relaxed include e-commerce in food products, broadcasting carriage services, private security agencies and animal husbandry.
•    The decision to further liberalise FDI regime with the objective of "providing major impetus to employment and job creation in India" was taken at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi today.

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Workshop on Ways to Promote Water Transportation

The Ministry of Shipping is organizing a workshop with various stakeholders and industry representatives on 20th June 2016 between 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. in Indian Habitat Centre, New Delhi to discuss ways and means to promote water transportation and make it competitive to roads and railways transportation. 
•    The waterways mode of transportation is fuel-efficient, environment – friendly, and capable of easing traffic congestion on roads and railways thus preventing loss of human lives due to accidents. 
•    The Government of India is committed to promote coastal shipping and inland waterways transportation and has envisioned the increasing of the share of waterways transportation mode from the present level of 7% to 10% by 2020.
•    To optimize utilization of waterways as a transportation mode many important steps have already been taken, which include
(i)    moderating manning and technical requirements for vessels operating within Indian territorial waters through a river sea vessel notification; 
(ii)    declaring the inland vessel limits for facilitating coastal trade operations; (iii) issuing coastal shipping rules for coastal vessels operating within 20 miles off the coast; 
(iii)    advising major ports to introduce green channel for coastal cargo, priority berthing for coastal vessels and construction of exclusive coastal berths; 
(iv)    exempting customs and Central Excise duty on bunker fuels (IFO 180 and IFO 380 CST) for use by coastal vessels carrying EXIM cargo or empty containers or domestic cargo between two ports, in India; 
(v)    bringing abatement of service tax at 70% for coastal shipping at par with road and rail; 
(vi)    Simplification of customs procedures, etc. 

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Govt allows 100 per cent FDI in Civil Aviation Sector

The government on Monday allowed 100 % FDI in aviation sector under automatic route in Greenfield Projects and 74% FDI in Brownfield Projects under automatic route.
•    As per the present FDI policy, foreign investment up to 49% is allowed under automatic route in Scheduled Air Transport Service/ Domestic Scheduled Passenger Airline and regional Air Transport Service. 
•    It has now been decided to raise this limit to 100%, with FDI up to 49% permitted under automatic route and FDI beyond 49% through Government approval.
•    However, foreign airlines would continue to be allowed to invest in capital of Indian companies operating scheduled and non-scheduled air-transport services up to the limit of 49% of their paid up capital and subject to the laid down conditions in the existing policy.
•    With a view to aid in modernization of the existing airports to establish a high standard and help ease the pressure on the existing airports, it has been decided to permit 100% FDI under automatic route in Brownfield Airport projects.

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Union Ministry of AYUSH released Yog Geet for International Day of Yoga–2016

Union Ministry of AYUSH released a Yog Geet (Song) on 17 June 2016 in connection with the celebration of International Day of Yoga–2016.
•    The song is of 3 minutes and 15 seconds in Hindi language.
•    The song is written and produced by Deeraj Saraswat.
•    Gandhar TD Jadhav and Gatha Jadhav were given their voice.
•    The Music of the song is composed by Sumanto Ray.
•    As part of celebration of 2nd International Day of Yoga a National level competition for selection of a Yog Geet was organised by the Ministry of AYUSH.
•    About one thousand entries were received for Yog Geet out of which the Committee OF Yoga Experts constituted for the celebration of International Day of Yoga–2016 under the chairmanship of Dr HR Nagendra selected released one.

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