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Insights Daily Current Events, February 14, 2014

February 14, 2014

By- DEEPA M

International News-

Sri Lanka to sign landmark trade pact with China

  • China plans to boost maritime connectivity with Sri Lanka, where it is already building a major port project, with both countries also agreeing to deepen economic links and sign a landmark Free Trade Agreement (FTA)
  • China is now the biggest provider of loans to Sri Lanka, overtaking countries such as India and Japan that had earlier been the largest source of financing for infrastructure projects
  • Beijing is involved in projects ranging from roads and railways to the massive port project in Hambantota, with investments amounting to $4 billion
  • Both sides discussion on building a “21st century maritime silk road
  • Involve boosting “maritime interconnectivity”

 

 Science & Technology-

 

Third-line drug therapy for HIV/AIDS-

  • India launched third-line drug therapy for people living with HIV/AIDS and extended free anti-retroviral therapy (ART).
  • The third-line therapy, sometimes called salvage or rescue therapy, is prescribed for people who have limited drug options left after the failure of at least two drug regimens and with evidence of HIV resistance to at least one drug in each line or the latter cause alone
  • The highly expensive therapy will be provided free.
  • Third-line therapy would enhance longevity and improve the quality of life of patients.
  • For receiving free ART, the minimum CD4-count limit had been reduced from 500 to 350. The count is a measure of the viral load.
  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2014 introduced in rajya sabha.
  • It seeks to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and protect the human rights of people living with it.
  • The Bill seeks to prohibit any kind of discrimination against the infected person — for instance, denial or termination of employment or occupation, unfair treatment, denial of access to any sector and forcible HIV testing.

Related information

Human Immunodeficiency Virus Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2014

Special Provisions-

  • Every protected person, who is a woman or who is a person below the age of eighteen years, shall have the right to reside in the shared household, the right not to be excluded from the shared household or any part of it and the right to enjoy and use the facilities of such shared household in a non-discriminatory manner.
  • The Central Government shall specify guidelines for the provision of HIV-related information, education and communication before marriage and ensure their wide dissemination.

 

Approval to establish two Semiconductor Wafer Fabrication Manufacturing Facilities in India

  • The Cabinet has approved setting up of two Semiconductor Wafer Fabrication (FAB) Manufacturing Facilities in India. These FAB units are to be set up by two business consortia, with the following broad project parameters:

(i)     M/s Jaiprakash Associates Limited (with IBM, USA and Tower Semiconductor Limited, Israel as partners)

a)     Project Cost: Rs 34,399 crore

b)     Technology: 90/65/45/28 nm

c)     Capacity: 40,000 WSPM

d)     Location: Yamuna Expressway, Uttar Pradesh

(ii)    M/s HSMC Technologies India Pvt. Ltd. (with ST Microelectronics and Silterra Malaysia Sdn. Bhd. as partners)

a)    Project Cost: Rs 29,013 crore

b)    Technology: 90/65/45/28/22 nm

c)    Capacity: 40,000 WSPM

d)    Location: Prantij, Gujarat

  • Letter of intent will be issued to the two consortia by March 31, 2014.
  • The final agreements are expected to be signed by August 2014.
  • The Empowered Committee has been authorized to take all decisions to implement the FAB projects in furtherance of the decision.
  • The proposed FABs will create direct employment of about 22,000 and indirect employment of about one lakh.
  • These FABs will have a big impact on the development of Electronics System Design and Manufacturing eco-system across the country.
  • This will help set up a critical pillar required to promote Electronics System Design and Manufacturing in India.
  • The Semiconductor Wafer Fabrication units when set up, will stimulate the flow of capital and technology, create employment opportunities, help higher value addition in the electronic products manufactured in India, reduce dependence on imports, and lead to innovation.
  • The following main incentives will be extended:

i.25% subsidy on capital expenditure and tax reimbursement as admissible under Modified Special Incentive Package Scheme (M-SIPS) Policy.

ii.Exemption of Basic Customs Duty (BCD) for non-covered capital items

iii.200% deduction on expenditure on R&D as admissible under Section 35(2AB) of the Income Tax (IT) Act.

iv.Investment linked deductions under Section 35AD of the IT Act.

v.Interest free loan of approx. Rs 5124 crore each. (Exact amount to be calculated on Detailed Project Report appraisal.)

 Background

  • The Government had in 2011 constituted an Empowered Committee (EC) to identify technology and investors and to recommend incentives to be provided to set up two FAB facilities in the country.
  • The Empowered Committee had issued a Global Expression of Interest inviting technology providers and investors to set up the FAB facilities.
  • This Committee submitted its recommendations to the Government in March 2013.
  • The Cabinet, at its meeting held on 12.9.2013, considered the recommendations of the EC and accorded ‘in-principle’ approval to the two consortia referred to above and to the package of incentives.
  • The Cabinet also decided that all other FAB manufacturers may also be appropriately and fully apprised of the quantum of subsidy/other benefits/support being offered for establishing FAB facilities in India.
  • Such manufacturers may be asked to indicate their interest / send their responses on specified parameters to the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY) within a period of four weeks.
  • As decided by the Cabinet, the second Expression of Interest (EoI) was published, which clearly specified the project parameters required as well as the package of incentives being offered by Government of India.
  • 106 potential FAB manufacturers across the world were also directly addressed.
  • No new proposal has been received for setting up of a FAB as per EoI requirements.
  • The steps taken pursuant to the aforesaid Cabinet decision have doubly assured the transparency of the entire process and also ensured a level playing field.

India and Poland agree to form Joint Working Group for Co-operation in the Films sector 

  • India and Poland have agreed to expand co-operation in the restoration and digitization of Film archives.
  • Both the countries also agreed to form a Joint Working Group in order to prepare a futuristic road map to enhance co-operation in Films, Animation, Digitization, Student exchange programme and such other areas of mutual benefit. 
  • Both the countries also agreed to further explore possibilities of signing a co-production agreement in the field of Animation.
  • While appreciating the Ministry’s initiative, the Polish delegation also extended its support for restoration and digitisation of Film Archives. 

 

Pension Sanction and Payment Tracking System Launched on Pilot Basis

  • The Department of Pension & Pensioners’ Welfare has launched a web based Pension Sanction and Payment Tracking System “ BHAVISHYA” which provides for on-line tracking of sanction and payment processes by the individual as well as the administrative authorities.
  • The new proposed system will capture information relating to the pensioner’s personal and service data including contact details like mobile number and e-mail etc.
  • It will also have electronic Forms required to be submitted to pension sanctioning authority.
  • The system will keep retiring employees informed of the progress of pension sanction process through SMS/E-mail in future.
  • The application will help in monitoring the delays which take place in sanction of pension and retirement benefits to a retiring Government Servant.
  • The software has been launched on a pilot basis in fifteen Ministries/Departments of the Government viz. Department of Home, D/o Electronics & Information Technology, M/o Statistics & Programme Implementation, M/o Steel, D/o Health, D/o Family Welfare, D/o Ayush,M/o Urban Development/o Textiles, D/o Commerce, D/o Industrial Policy & Promotion, Planning Commission, D/o Personnel & Training/o Administrative Reforms &Public Grievances and D/o Pension & Pensioners Welfare.

 

Huge Response for Pre-Qualification for Civil Contract for Bhaupur – Mughalsarai Section of Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor of Indian Railways.

  • A total 16 international companies in joint venture with leading Indian companies qualified in pre qualification bid process for Civil structure &Track work Contract for Bhaupur- Mughalsarai section package 201 & 202 (400 route km.) of Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor project
  • There has been huge response and the contractors/firms from all over the world are competing in the bid process.
  • Those qualified to submit their bids are from Spain, Turkey, Korea, Taiwan, China, Mexico, Brazil, Russia and UK apart from India.
  • Some of the firms are, ISOLUX CORSAN CORVIAM-SADBHAV-ECI (JV), GAMMON-YUKSEL (JV),POSCO-PNC(JV),China Railway Bureau Group Corporation, ESSAR-KEC-SACYR Consortium, AG-AFCONS (JV),PEL-BSCPL-CGS (JV), etc.
  • It may be recalled that the World Bank has agreed in principle to part finance the Eastern Corridor project from Mughalsarai to Ludhiana, which has been divided into 3 phases. 
  • The total in principle loan commitment is US$ 2.725 billion, out of which the loan for the first phase to the tune of US$ 975 million was sanctioned in May, 2011 and the loan agreement was signed in October, 2011. 
  • The loan for the second phase is expected to be of the order of USD 1100 million and is expected to be signed in June 2014.
  •  DFCCIL, a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) is engaged in planning, construction, operation and maintenance of the dedicated freight corridors and in the first phase, the two corridors, namely, Eastern Corridor from Ludhiana to Dankuni (1839 kms) and the Western Corridor from Dadri to Jawaharlal Nehru Port (JNPT) (1499 kms) are being constructed. 
  • The entire Western Corridor is being funded by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), while the Eastern Corridor from Mughalsarai to Ludhiana is being funded by the World Bank.

Tourism Policy in the Country

  • During the Eleventh and Twelfth Five Year Plan, the Ministry of Tourism (MOT) is poised to address the various issues related with development and promotion of tourism in the country including those of the State of Maharashtra, in consultation with the concerned State Governments/Union Territory Administrations and Tourism Industry Stakeholders.
  • Tourism has the potential to help achieve the objectives of faster, more inclusive and sustainable growth as envisaged in 12th Five Year Plan. It is a powerful antidote to poverty.
  • The focus of Ministry of Tourism is on the improvement of existing product and developing new tourism products to the world standard.
  • The Ministry of Tourism has taken initiative of identifying, diversifying, developing and promoting the nascent/upcoming ‘niche’ products of the tourism industry so as to overcome ‘seasonality’ and promote India as a 365 day destination, to attract tourists with specific interests and ensure repeat visits for the unique products in which India has comparative advantage.
  • Tourism is multi-sectoral activity transcending multiple services provided by range of suppliers.
  • The Ministry of Tourism has taken necessary action to synergize and coordinate the activities of different stakeholders both at Government and Tourism Industry level during the Twelfth Plan.