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India Innovation Index to measure performance of Indian states

The World Economic Forum (WEF), NITI Aayog, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and Cornell University will work to develop an India Innovation Index to provide impetus to states to drive innovative spirit.

Based on the WIPO’s GII (Global Innovation Index), the India Innovation Index will be tailored to better reflect of India’s ground reality and include metrics well suited to the Indian context for innovation.

Key Facts
  • The India Innovation Index will measure and rank the innovation performance of all states in India with the aim of moving India towards an innovation-driven economy.
  • It will be based on key pillars of innovation and sub-indices that together will assist in tailoring policies for innovation that inturn will promote inclusive growth.
  • The pillars of index include the capacity of human capital and research, strength of institutions, supporting infrastructure and the level of business sophistication, among others.
  • Each partnering organization will nominate a working group member to work on the index. The first ranking of Indian states will released at the India Economic Summit to be held in October 2017.
  • This index will encourage states to compete with each other and, in turn, lead to better policies for inclusive growth.
  • It will create a transparent benchmark of innovation for Indian states and spur competition among states. It will also ensure progress towards innovation at the local level in India.

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Union Government clears Tamil Nadu’s Ordinance on Jallikattu

The Union Government has Tamil Nadu government’s proposal to promulgate an ordinance to hold Jallikattu, a traditional bull taming sport.

The Union Ministries of Home, Law and Environment has vetted the state’s draft ordinance and cleared the amendment. Now, Tamil Nadu Governor can promulgate ordinance as per Article 213 of the constitution.

Key Facts
  • It was mandatory for Tamil Nadu government to get a nod from the Centre as subject in this regard was falling in the Concurrent list of the Constitution.
  • The ordinance will denotify the bull from the list of performing animals. This will ensure that provisions of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (PCA), 1960 will not apply to the bull.
  • It will circumvent Supreme Court imposed ban on Jallikattu in May 2014. The apex court had banned use of bull as performing animals including traditional events like Jallikattu, bullock-cart races.

Jallikattu is bull-taming sport and an age-old annual event celebrated during Pongal (Harvest festival) in Tamil Nadu. It is one of the oldest living ancient traditions practiced in the modern era. Read more

Article 213 of Constitution: It gives legislative power to Governor i.e. state executive.  Governor can promulgate ordinances when legislative assembly (incase of unicameral legislature) is not in session i.e. recess or both houses of state legislature (incase of bicameral legislature) if there is urgent need to have a law on some urgent public matter. The promulgated ordinance has similar effect to a law enacted by the state legislature. However, every ordinance must be laid and approved state legislature (or legislative assembly) within 6 weeks from the reassembling. If not placed and approved by both houses of the state legislature ( or legislative assembly) after reassembling it lapses or becomes invalid.

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Cabinet approves the exclusion of States from National Small Savings Fund

The Union Cabinet has excluded States and Union Territories except Arunachal Pradesh, Kerala, Delhi (UT) and Madhya Pradesh from National Small Savings Fund (NSSF) investments with effect from 1 April 2016

The cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi also approved one-time loan of Rs. 45000 crore from NSSF to Food Corporation of India (FCI) to meet its food subsidy requirements.

Key Facts
  • Arunachal Pradesh will be given loans to the tune of 100% of NSSF collections within its territory, while Kerala, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi (UT) will be provided with 50% of collections.
  • Through the budget line of Department of Food and Public Distribution, the servicing of interest and principal of debt will be extended to Food Corporation of India (FCI).
  • The repayment obligation of the FCI in respect of NSSF Loans will be treated as the first charge on the food subsidy released to the FCI.
  • In addition, FCI will be required to reduce the amount of its current Cash Credit Limit with the banking consortium to the extent of the NSSF loan amount.
  • An legally binding agreement will be signed between Department of Food, FCI and NSSF on the modalities for repayment of interest rate and the restructuring of FCI debt will be made possible within 2-5 years.
  • In the future, NSSF will invest on items whose expenditure is ultimately borne by Union Government and Union budget will meet requirement of the repayment of the principal and interest of that amount.
Background

The 14th Finance Commission (FFC) had recommended that the State Governments should be excluded from the investment operations of the NSSF. The main reason given was that NSSF loans come at an extra cost to the State Governments compared to the market rates which are considerably lower. Following this, Union Cabinet in February 2015 held that this recommendation will be examined in due course in consultation with various stake holders. Later, all states except Arunachal Pradesh, Delhi, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh expressed their desire to be excluded from NSSF investments.

About National Small Savings Fund (NSSF)

  • NSSF was set up on 1 April, 1999 with an objective to account all the monetary transactions under small savings schemes of the Union Government under one umbrella. It was set up in the Public Account of India.
  • The net accretions under the small savings schemes are invested in the special securities of various States/ Union Territories (with legislature)/Central Governments.
  • States not only can borrow from this account but have the obligation to borrow. The minimum obligation of States to borrow from the NSSF has been brought down from 100% to 80% of net collections from 2007.

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