India Current Affairs 2017

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Government sets up inter-ministerial panel to monitor UDAN

The Union Government has set up an ‘Inter- Ministerial Monitoring-cum-Coordination Committee’ to monitor the UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aam Naagrik) scheme.

UDAN is regional air connectivity scheme (RCS) which seeks to make flying affordable by connecting unserved and under-served airports.

Key Facts
  • The committee will be responsible for coordination among stakeholders, including state governments for “time-bound” implementation of the scheme.
  • It will also monitor schemes of promotion of regional connectivity by way of revival of unserved and under-served airports/airstrips and UDAN.
  • It will be chaired by Civil Aviation Secretary and will have representations from the ministries of Finance, Defence, Home as well as Petroleum and Natural Gas.
  • Airports Authority of India (AAI) Chairman, representatives from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), BCAS (Bureau of Civil Aviation Security), officials of airlines and states concerned will be also its part.
Background

The Union Civil Aviation Ministry already has awarded 128 routes connecting 70 airports to 5 airlines, under the scheme UDAN Scheme. In the flights operated under RCS, around 50% of the seats will have a fare cap Rs 2,500 per seat/hour. Apart from various incentives, the operators of such flights will be extended viability gap funding (VGF) for which money is partly raised through a levy imposed on flights operating in major routes. The VGF will be in place for three years for the airlines concerned from the date of starting operations in a particular UDAN route. Operators will be provided also other benefits such as zero airport charges and three-year exclusivity on the routes.

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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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