The Gist of Press Information Bureau: January + February 2013

The Gist of Press Information Bureau: January + February 2013













As ‘Panchayats’ is a State subject, the Panchayati Raj system is primarily the responsibility of the States. The Ministry of Panchayat Raj supports strengthening of Panchayats through its various schemes. It operates the Backward Regions Grants Fund (BRGF) in some identified backward districts of the country. Under the Scheme, untied funds are given for meeting critical gaps in local infrastructure and other development requirements. BRGF also aims to strengthen Panchayats through its capacity building component. Under the Scheme of Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Yojana (RGSY) financial assistance is provided to the non BRGF districts for capacity building and construction of Panchayat Ghars. The e-Panchayat scheme strengthens Panchayats by e-enabling. Panchayat Mahila Evam Yuva Shakti Abhiyan (PMEYSA) focuses especially on Elected Women Representatives. This information was given by the Minister of Panchayati Raj Shri V. Kishore Chandra Deo in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha today.


As per the latest Global Competitiveness Report 2012-13, brought out by World Economic Forum, a Swiss non-profit foundation based in Geneva, India ranks 59thamongst 144 economies in the Global Competitiveness Index for 2012-13, as against 56th position out of 142 economies covered in 2011-12. The Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) measures the competitive performance of the economies around the world for doing business. It is a composite index that combines three component indices covering 12 different parameters (termed ‘pillars’). The details of the three components along with the weights assigned to them and the pillars are presented in table below:

Components Weight s for India Pillars
Basic requirements (60%) Institutions
• Infrastructure
• Health and primary
Efficiency enhancers (35%) Higher education and training
• Goods market
• Labour market
• Financial market
• Technological
• Market size
Innovation and sophistication factors (5%) Business
• Innovation

Giving this information in written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha today, Shri Sachin Pilot, Minister of Corporate Affairs, said that computation of GCI for the year 2012- 13 is based on 113 indicators. As the indicators vary from year to year a comparison from previous years is not feasible. However, India’s performance with a GCI score of 4.32 (on a scale of 1-7) in the year 2012-13 is an improvement over last year score of 4.30. This country has also improved its performance in respect of each individual component of the index. In the meanwhile, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs has constituted a Committee for Reforming the Regulatory Environment for Doing Business in India under the chairmanship of Shri M. Damodaran with the objective of making an in-depth study into the entire gamut of regulatory framework and come out with a detailed roadmap for improving the business climate in the country that would help improve India’s competitiveness.


The Government is implementing an egovernance initiative called MCA 21 Project to ensure the efficiency of the core services regarding company affairs. Giving this information in written reply to a question in the Parliament, Shri Sachin Pilot, Minister of Corporate Affairs, said that MCA 21 Project is a major e- Governance initiative covering all aspects of incorporation and regulation of companies as defined under the Companies Act and Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) Act. The project is outcome based and focused on improving the quality of services to various stakeholders concerned with the corporate sector in the country. Shri Pilot said that the introduction of MCA 21 has yielded remarkable results. In terms of efficiency, the project achieved speedy delivery of services and regulation of corporate compliances through the use of modern information technology. The project has been well appreciated for end-to-end electronic service delivery and authenticated electronic online filing using Digital Certificate based authorization. The existing contract with the operator for running this Project is concluding on 16.1.2013. The Ministry of Corporate Affaors has selected a replacement operator to continue the MCA21 services and implement the next version of the MCA21 with improved business processes, application enhancements and additional infrastructure (network connectivity) along with coverage of additional offices like Official Liquidators. Shri Pilot informed Parliament that the continuation cycle project is for eight and a half years from January, 2013 to July, 2021 with a financial outlay of Rs.357.81 crore to be met from the non-plan head.

Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing 

Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) is a new international treaty adopted under the auspices of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Nagoya, Japan in October, 2010, after six years of intense negotiations. As a megadiverse country rich in biodiversity and associated traditional knowledge, and with a rapidly advancing biotechnology industry, India has contributed effectively in ABS negotiations. The objective of the Nagoya Protocol is the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources, including by appropriate access to genetic resources and by appropriate transfer of relevant technologies. The Nagoya Protocol provides a transparent legal framework on how researchers and companies can obtain access to genetic resources, and how benefits arising from the use of such material or knowledge will be shared. India has signed the Nagoya Protocol on 11 May 2011 and ratified it on 09 October 2012. The number of signatories to the Protocol is 92, and so far nine countries have ratified the Protocol. These are Seychelles, Rwanda, Gabon, Jordan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Mexico, India, Fiji and Ethiopia. There have been several instances of misappropriation of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge from the country, despite having taken necessary action at the national level. Once the Nagoya Protocol enters into force, the user country measures enshrined in it would oblige all Parties to provide that users of genetic resources within their jurisdiction respect the domestic regulatory framework of Parties from where genetic resources have been accessed, thereby addressing the concerns of misappropriation. The above information was given by the Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Environment and Forests, Shrimati Jayanthi Natarajan to the Parliament. 

Neutrino Observatory Project 

The India Based Neutrino Observatory (INO) project is being set up in the Bodi West Hills at the Pottipuram village in Theni district of Tamil Nadu. The land for this project has been acquired. The project aims at carrying out research to study the properties of neutrinos which are the second most abundant particles in the Universe. Neutrinos are neutral particles and weakly interactive particles which are very difficult to detect. Therefore, they need a massive detector. INO detector will be a multi layer stack of magnetized iron plates. A large number of such plates will be needed to build the INO detector and with back up of electronics, these detectors are expected to detect neutrinos passing through them.

The INO will ultimately help in understanding the evolution of universe. The detectors developed for the INO project will also have societal applications such as in medical imaging. A proposal has been received from Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) for the supply of special steel for building INO detector. The above information was given by the Minister of State in the Ministry Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions and in the Prime Minister’s Office, Shri V. Narayanasamy to the Parliament. 

Present Status of JNNURM 

The Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) was launched on 3rd December, 2005 with the objective of reforms driven and fast track development of cities across the country, with focus on bringing about efficiency in urban infrastructure, service delivery mechanisms, community participation and accountability of Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) and Parastatal agencies towards citizens. It has two components, namely, the Urban Infrastructure and Governance (UIG) and the Urban Infrastructure Development Scheme for Small and Medium Towns (UIDSSMT). 65 Cities based on population as per 2001 census are covered under the Urban Infrastructure & Governance (UIG) component of JNNURM.JNNURM is a reform linked Scheme for provisioning of urban infrastructure and services in urban centers. In this, the second and subsequent installment of ACA is released for projects subject to utilization of 70% of grants and achievement of reforms according to the timelines agreed to by the States and Local Bodies. Due to reasons of non-completion of reforms as per committed time lines in the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) signed by the State Governments, 10% of ACA has been withheld as per schemes stipulation while releasing the second or subsequent installment of ACA for the projects which the State can get reimbursed upon completion of reforms. The Mission has completed its normal tenure on March 2012.

Extension of two years has been given for completion of ongoing projects & reforms only till March 2014. This information was given by the Minister of State for Urban Development Smt. Deepa Dasmunshi in a written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha today. 

Inclusion of Western Ghats in UNESCO List 

The Minister of Culture Smt. Chandresh Kumari Katoch has said that 39 locations in the Western Ghats in the States of Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra have been inscribed as a World Heritage Site in the UNESCO World Heritage List during the 36th session of World Heritage Committee held in July, 2012 at St. Petersburg, Russia. In a written reply in the Lok Sabha today she said, the Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF) establishes National Parks, Wildlife Sanctuaries and Tiger Reserves under the Wild Life (Protection) Act 1972. Central assistance is provided to the States. No statutory authority is set up for the conservation of the world heritage sites in the Western Ghats.

Press Note Olympic Medalists Saina Nehwal and M C Mary Kom are the New National Icons for Election Commission Olympic Medalists Ms Saina Nehwal and Ms M C Mary Kom are the new National Icons of Election Commission of India to enhance voters’ participation in elections. They are the first female national icons to support ECI. They join the galaxy of existing national icons namely former president Dr A P J Abdul Kalam and Indian cricket captain Shri M S Dhoni.  Promotional messages from these icons, in audio-visual formats, have been organised on the direction of the Commission by the Chief Electoral Officers of Andhra Pradesh and Manipur with collaboration from Doordarshan. The ready to use material were today sent to various states for promoting both voter turnout and registration. Messages of Ms Nehwal and Ms Mary Kom will be used in Gujarat and all subsequent elections for enhancing voter turnout. There are separate messages from them for promoting enrollment of voters in various states and union territories, particularly among youth and women. The two leading sportswomen have been roped in as part of ECI’s strategy to bridge the noticeable gap in youth participation and also the gender gap in electoral participation in several areas. Commission has availed the services of a large number of celebrities from various walks of life in the last 12 general elections to the states as part of its Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation programme (SVEEP). Sportspersons, Singers, musicians, actors and other artists from the states and regions have come forward to support the voter participation efforts launched by the Commission which has resulted in consistently higher turnout in recent Assembly elections and historic turnout in some of them. ECI has also been getting enthusiastic support of a range of Governmental and non-Governmental organisations, Civil Society and the Media in enlisting citizen’s participation in the electoral process. 

Steps for Regulating the Working of Contract Farming 

The Consolidated Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Policy, 2012 provides FDI in agriculture and animal husbandry, with certain conditions, in (a) floriculture, horticulture, apiculture and cultivation of vegetables and mushrooms under controlled conditions, (b) development and production of Seeds and planting material, (e) animal husbandry (including breeding of dogs), Pisciculture, Aquaculture, under controlled conditions, and (d) services related to agro and allied sectors. Besides these, FDI is not allowed in any other agricultural sector/activity. In order to regulate the working of contract farming, the Ministry of Agriculture has framed Model State Agricultural Produce Marketing (Development and Regulation) Act, 2003 and Model State Agricultural Produce Marketing (Development and Regulation) Rules, 2007 for adoption by States / Union Territories. The Model Act, inter-alia, provides provisions for the registration of contract farming sponsors, recoding of contract farming agreements with the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) or a prescribed authority under the Act and dispute settlement mechanism. It also provides for protection of title or rights of the farmers over the land under such contracts. These are intended to protect the interest of farmer. Since Agriculture Marketing is State subject, the State Governments are persuaded to adopt the provisions of Model Act in the interest of farmers. This information was given by Shri Tariq Anwar, Minister of State for Agriculture and Food Processing Industries in written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha today. 

Amount and Age Limit of Widow Pension enhanced 

The Centre has informed that assistance under Indira Gandhi National Widow Pension Scheme (IGNWPS) has been increased from Rs 200 to Rs 300 per month from 1st of October this year. Replying to a question in the Rajya Sabha, Minister of State for Rural Development Shri Lal Chand Kataria said, the upper age limit has also been revised to 79 years from the existing 59 years and hence IGNWPS now is applicable for widow in the age group of 40-79 years and belonging to household living below poverty line as per the criteria prescribed by the Government of India. He said, the amount of Central assistance under pension schemes are revised from time to time depending upon availability of resources. Shri Kataria said that States have been recommended to contribute at least an equal amount from their own resources. 

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