Current Affairs 2017 - April

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India, Georgia sign Joint Statement to launch Joint Feasibility Study on FTA

India and Georgia have singed a Joint Statement on the launching of the Joint Feasibility Study on the Free Trade Agreement between both countries.

The statement was signed by Union Commerce & Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Georgia’s Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Giorgi Gakharia.

Key Facts
  • The objective of the study is to further promote economic, trade and investment relations between the two countries for creating favourable conditions for more comprehensive economic cooperation.
  • Upon the completion of the Joint Feasibility Study both countries may proceed to negotiations on an FTA once the internal procedures are completed and the mandates on negotiations are approved.
  • In this regard, Joint Feasibility Study Group consisting of the officials of the two countries has been established.
  • It will provide an opportunity for more in-depth and systematic examination of potential FTA. It will discuss possible scope of a potential FTA and analyse sensitiveness of specific sectors and recommend possible ways to address them. 
Background

India is having positive trade balance with Georgia. In 2015-2016 the total exports from India to Georgia was $82.57 million and import from Georgia was $24.47 million. The Joint Feasibility Study will further contribute to the mutually beneficial cooperation of the partners and bring it to a new level.

Georgia: It is a country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. It is located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe and is bounded by the Black Sea to the west, Russia to the north, Turkey to the south and Armenia and Azerbaijan to the southeast. Tbilisi is its capital and largest city.

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Government reduces number of centrally sponsored schemes to 28

The Union Government has reduced the number of centrally sponsored schemes (CSS) from 66 to 28 umbrella schemes, effective from the financial year 2016-17.

These schemes were reduced based on the recommendation of the sub-group of Chief Ministers on rationalisation of centrally sponsored schemes.

Key Facts
  • Government has categorised 6 schemes as Core of the Core, 20 schemes as Core Schemes and remaining two as Optional Schemes.
  • If required government is also planning to merge the related schemes and implement them as Umbrella Schemes with flexibility to states to administer in the line with their requirements.
  • Core schemes: For these schemes, the fund-sharing pattern between the Centre and states would be 60:40 for general category states. For the eight Northeastern and three Himalayan states, ratio is 90:10.
  • Core-of-core Schemes: These schemes are fully funded by the Centre. Some of the schemes included in this category are: MGRNEA, National Social Assistance Plan and the National Programme for Persons with Disabilities.
  • Optional Schemes: These schemes are for social protection and social inclusion. The fund-sharing pattern between the Centre and states is 50:50 for general category states and 80:20 for Northeastern and hilly states.
  • Funds for these schemes will be allocated to states as a lump sum and states would be free to choose which optional scheme they want to adopt.
What are Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS)?
  • CCS are schemes that are implemented by state governments but are largely funded by the Central Government with a defined State Government share.
  • They are basically special purpose grants (or loans) extended by Central Government to states to encourage them to plan and implement programmes that help attain national goals and objectives.
  • CSS are basically extended by the Central Government to States under Article 282 of the Constitution. It mainly cover items listed in states list.

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Survey of India launches web portal Nakshe  

The Survey of India (SOI) has launched new web portal called Nakshe to make open series maps available to Indians for free.

The portal was launched by Union Minister for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, Harsh Vardhan on the occasion of 250th anniversary of SOI.

Features of Nakshe portal
  • It will offer free download of 3,000 Topographic maps or Open Series Maps (OSM) in a pdf format on 1:50,000 scale through Aaadhar enabled user authentication process.
  • The maps are meant for development activities in the country, and can be also used to plan scientific expeditions, research and planning development projects.
  • Topographic maps or OSM comprise natural and man-made geographical features including terrain or topography.

About Survey of India (SOI)

  • SOI is the principal mapping agency of the country. It comes under the Department of Science & Technology.
  • Its origin can be traced back to Year 1767, making it oldest scientific department in India and one of the oldest survey establishments in the world.
  • It prepares maps for defence and civilian purposes and are considered a standard reference for the shape, extent and geographic features of the country.
  • SoI has surveyed and mapped each and every part of the country and these maps have played valuable role in nation building and were pivotal in almost all major developmental activities of modern India.
  • Note: Foundation for the scientific survey and mapping of the country was laid with The Great Trignometric Survey (GTS) in 19th century on 10th April, 1802, by noted surveyors Col. Lambton and Sir George Everest.

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