The Gist of Press Information Bureau (PIB): November 2016

The Gist of Press Information Bureau: November 2016

Khangchendzonga National Park Inscribed as India's First 'Mixed' Site on World Heritage List

Khangchendzonga National Park (KNP), Sikkim has been inscribed as India's first "Mixed World Heritage Site" on UNESCO World Heritage List, by fulfilling the nomination criteria under both natural and cultural heritage. The 40th Session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, at a meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, granted approval for the inscription of India's on the coveted UNESCO World Heritage List. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), the two Advisory Bodies of UNESCO had earlier given their positive recommendations to the 21 member UNESCO World Heritage Committee, to inscribe Khangchendzonga National Park (KNP), Sikkim as a 'Mixed World Heritage Site'.

The KNP exhibits one of the widest altitudinal ranges of any protected area worldwide. The Park has an extraordinary vertical sweep of over 7 kilometres (1,220m to 8,586m) within an area of only 178,400 ha and comprises a unique diversity of lowlands, steep-sided valleys and spectacular snow-clad mountains including the world's third highest peak, Mt. Khangchendzonga. Numerous lakes and glaciers, including the 26 km long Zemu Glacier, dot the barren high altitudes. The KNP lies within the Himalaya global biodiversity hotspot and displays an unsurpassed range of sub-tropical to alpine ecosystems. The Himalayas are narrowest here, resulting in extremely steep terrain, which magnifies the distinction between the various eco-zones. The KNP is located within a mountain range of global biodiversity conservation significance and covers 25% of the State of Sikkim, acknowledged as one of India's most significant biodiversity concentrations. The KNP is home to a significant number of endemic, rare and threatened plant and animal species and has the highest number of plant and mammal species recorded in the Central/High Asian Mountains, except compared to the Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas, in China; and also has a high number of bird species.

The cultural significance of KNP is portrayed by three main different facets: firstly, the notion of beyul or hidden sacred land, which extends to all of Sikkim, but has its heart in the territory of Khangchendzonga National Park, is important in Tibetan Buddhism, not only intrinsic to Sikkim, but in the neighbouring countries and beyond - that is to say, KNP is home to a sacred site of one of the world's leading religious traditions; secondly, the multi-layered sacred landscape of Khangchendzonga and the cultural and religious relevance of the hidden land (beyul in Tibetan Buddhism and Mayel Lyang, in Lepcha tradition) is specific to Sikkim and is a unique example of co-existence and exchange between different religious traditions and people; and thirdly, the indigenous religious and cultural practices of the Lepcha with regard to the ecology and the specific properties of local plants, which stand as an outstanding example of traditional knowledge and environmental preservation.

This is also the first nomination dossier in which the newly established UNESCO Category 2 Centre on 'World Natural Heritage Management and Training for Asia-Pacific Region' at Wildlife Institute of India had provided professional inputs. For the first time both IUCN and ICOMOS had given a clear and positive recommendation for inscription of a Natural/ Mixed Site from India.

With the above inscription, the number of Indian sites on the World Heritage List has become 35 (7 Natural + 27 Cultural + 1 Mixed).

SWAYAM Prabha-Educational Contents through DTH

Government has approved a project to launch the 'SWAYAM Prabha'-a project for operationalising 32 Direct to Home (DTH) Television Channels for providing high quality educational content to all teachers, students and citizens across the country interested in lifelong learning. There will be new content of four hours every day, which would be telecast six times a day allowing the student to choose the time of his/her convenience.
The main features of SWAYAM Prabha would be as under:-

(i) Curriculum based course contents covering diverse disciplines such as arts, science, commerce, performing arts, social sciences and humanities subjects, engineering, technology, law, medicine, agriculture etc.
(ii) Covers all level of education: School education, undergraduate, postgraduate, engineering, out of school children, vocational courses and teacher training.

The 32 channels are proposed to be launched before September 2016. Initially the programmes will be in English but with the passage of time the programmes will be launched in regional languages also.

Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-NULM guidelines

Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation has made substantial changes in the Guidelines for implementation of Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana- National Urban Livelihoods Mission to benefit more and more urban poor by relaxing the norms for implementation of the Mission.

The National Governing Council of the Mission, an inter-ministerial body chaired by the Minister of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation Shri M.Venkaiah Naidu approved several changes in the operational guidelines of the Mission after detailed deliberations. Minister of State for Urban Development and Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation Shri Rao Inderjit Singh also attended the meeting.

Banks have now been allowed to directly accept applications from the beneficiaries for extending subsidized loans for setting up individual and group enterprises under the Self-Employment Programme component of DAY-NULM dispensing with the need for sponsorship by concerned urban local bodies. One bank will be designated as the Nodal Agency for each State to coordinate with all other banks to increase banking linkages for loan support under this component.

Norms for formation of Self-Help Groups of urban poor have been relaxed allowing up to 10 members to form a group in hilly tracts and tribal areas as against the earlier norm of 20 members. Men involved in vulnerable occupations like sanitation workers, rag pickers, rikshaw pullers etc., are now allowed to form such Groups who would be eligible for bank loans and revolving fund of Rs.10,000/- per each group.

The Governing Council allowed construction of shelters for urban homeless with CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) funds and other donations allowing display of names of such donors. Construction of multi-storied shelters for urban homeless keeping in view land constraints has also been permitted besides allowing attendants of patients to use such shelters. CCTVs are to be provided in shelters for women and children to ensure their security.

The Council has permitted convergence of DAY-NULM with other schemes like Prime Minister's Kaushal Vikas Yojana, Skill Development, Prime Minister's Jan Dhan Yojana and various social security schemes like Pradhan Mantri Jivan Jyoti Bima Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana etc. , besides ensuring Aadhar linkages.

After reviewing the physical and financial progress under DAY-NULM during the last two years, Shri M.Venkaiah Naidu said that the performance vis-à-vis targets has been satisfactory but there is need for States to do more.

As against the target of formation of 70,062, Self-Help Groups, actual performance has been 1,05,958. Under Self-Employment Programme component, 94,549 beneficiaries have been given subsidized bank loans for setting up individual and group enterprises against the target of 90,062. A total of 4,36,110 urban poor have been imparted skill training during the last two financial years and another 1,38,385 have so far been skilled during the current fiscal. 336 shelters for urban homeless have been so far made operational.

India as 35th member of Missile Technology Control Regime

India joined the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) as its 35th member on 27th June 2016. MTCR membership is expected to ease the access to high technology for India's space programme. It will help us to move up the technology value chain by facilitating tie-ups for Make in India including in the defence sector. India's entry into the regime would be mutually beneficial in the furtherance of international non-proliferation objectives.

Government has taken steps to streamline the process for grant of No Objection Certificates (NOCs) for export of indigenous weapon systems including permissible missile systems. Units producing such items are being encouraged to put aside a part of their production for export after meeting indigenous demand. A Strategy for Defence Exports has already been put out in public domain.

15 Point Programme of Prime Minister for minorities

The Prime Minister's New 15 Point Programme for the welfare of minorities (PM's New 15PP) is an overarching programme, which covers various schemes / initiatives of different Ministries/ Departments. In order to ensure that the benefits of various Government schemes flow equitably to minorities, this programme envisages location of a certain proportion of development projects in minority concentration areas. Presently 24 schemes/ initiatives of 11 different Ministries/Departments are covered under this Programme and are implemented by the Ministry of Minority Affairs and concerned Ministries/Departments as per the guidelines of individual schemes/ programmes.

While the seven schemes, implemented by the Ministry of Minority Affairs are exclusively meant for the welfare of minority communities, in respect of other schemes, it provides that wherever possible 15% of targets and outlays should be earmarked for minorities.


Government has assessed the impact of Brexit on the Indian economy. Thus far, India has not only avoided adverse impacts, it has in fact emerged as a safe haven for investors around the world.

For example, the rupee depreciated against the US dollar by around 1 per cent for one day post-Brexit referendum, while currencies of other emerging markets depreciated for many days. But on a cumulative basis, the rupee has actually appreciated by 0.3 per cent on 19th July 2016 over 23rd June 2016. Similarly, the Sensex fell only on one day by around 2 per cent while the equity index of many other developed and developing countries fell by a higher percentage for many days after Brexit referendum. On cumulative basis, the Sensex has risen by 2.9 per cent on 19th July 2016 over 23rd June 2016. The G-sec rate has also declined from 7.48 per cent to 7.28 per cent over this period. By virtue of its domestic policies, India is seen as a haven of stability and opportunity in these turbulent times.

As a part of the global economy, India will obviously be affected if there is slowdown in growth in the UK and EU following Brexit. India's exports in goods to the UK and EU (including UK) have been around 3 per cent and 17 per cent of our total exports. India also exports roughly $10 billion in software to both the UK and EU. Overall though, India's exports to both UK and Europe have been on a downtrend in the past two years on account of subdued demand led by a frail and scattered recovery in the region. The forecast of global growth for 2016 has also been revised downward by the IMF from 3.2 per cent to 3.1 per cent in the aftermath of Brexit.

While the Government and the RBI are closely monitoring the situation, India's macroeconomic fundamentals are strong. Besides, the strong forex reserves position can provide a buffer against any temporary episodes of volatility in the domestic foreign exchange market. Further, RBI's proactive liquidity management could ensure stability and calm in money markets. As regards the stock market, the Government and Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) are keeping a constant vigil. SEBI has laid down various regulations and guidelines for protecting investors' interest and ensuring orderly functioning of the stock market.

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