Cabinet DecisionsLegislation Updates

The Union Cabinet has approved the proposal of the Securities & Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to sign an updated Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive (AIFMD) MoU signed between SEBI and Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), UK, pursuant to UK’s exit from the European Union on 31-01-2020.

Major impact

The UK exited the EU on 31st January 2020. FCA, UK had submitted to SEBI that no transitional measures would be available if the amended MoU is not signed before the date when the UK exits the European Union (Brexit), and requested SEBI to sign an updated MoU as early as possible. As such, the proposal is not expected or intended to have any effect on employment in India.

Background

In accordance with the requirement of establishing adequate supervisory cooperation arrangements between EU and non-EU authorities under the European Union Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive (AIFMD), a bilateral MoU was signed by SEBI with securities regulators of 27 member States of EU / European Economic Area, including Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), United Kingdom on 28th July 2014. In the context of UK’s proposed withdrawal from EU, FCA brought to the notice of SEBI that the existing MoU between SEBI and FCA relating to AIFMD, which is currently anchored on EU law, will no longer apply directly in the UK, and have, therefore, suggested signing an updated MoU after amending the AIFMD MoU by suitably modifying it and substituting references to EU legislation with the relevant UK law.


Cabinet

[Press Release dt. 19-02-2020]

[Source: PIB]

Cabinet DecisionsLegislation Updates

Union Cabinet has approved the Constitution of an empowered “Technology Group”.

Details

Cabinet has approved the constitution of a 12-Member Technology Group with the Principal Scientific Adviser to Government of India as its Chair. This Group is mandated to render timely policy advice on latest technologies; mapping of technology and technology products; commercialisation of dual use technologies developed in national laboratories and government R&D organisations; developing an indigenisation road map for selected key technologies; and selection of appropriate R&D programs leading to technology development.

Major Impact

The Technology Group will:-

  • render the best possible advice on technology to be developed for a technology supplier and the technology procurement strategy;
  • develop in-house expertise in aspects of policy and use of emerging technologies; and
  • ensure sustainability of public sector technology developed/being developed at PSUs, national labs and research organisations.

Implementation strategy and targets

The three pillars of the work of the Technology Group include:

  • Policy Support;
  • Procurement Support; and
  • Support on Research and Development proposals.

The Technology Group intends to ensure:-

  • that India has appropriate policies and strategies for effective, secure and context-sensitive exploitation of the latest technologies for economic growth and sustainable development of Indian Industry, in all sectors;
  • to advise the Government on priorities and strategies for research on emerging technologies across sectors;
  • to maintain an updated map of technology and technology products available, and being developed, across India;
  • to develop indigenization roadmap for selected key technologies;
  • to advise the Government on its technology supplier and procurement strategy;
  • to encourage all Ministries and Departments as well as State Governments to develop in-house expertise in policy and use aspects of emerging technologies such as data science and artificial intelligence, and to this end develop an approach to training and capacity building
  • to formulate policies for sustainability of public sector technology at PSUs/Labs while encouraging cross-sector collaborations and research alliances with Universities and Private Companies; and
  • to formulate standards and common vocabulary to apply in vetting of proposals for R&D.

Background

In the technology sector, five important issues were: (a) silo-centric approaches to development of technology (b) technology standards either not developed or applied, leading to sub-optimal industrial development (c) dual use technologies not being optimally commercialised (d) R&D programs not aligned to efforts at technology development (e) need for mapping of technologies important for applications in society and industry. The Constitution of Technology Group is an effort at addressing the above problems.


Cabinet

[Press Release dt. 19-02-2020]

[Source: PIB]

Cabinet DecisionsLegislation Updates

The Union Cabinet has approved the Twenty-second Law Commission of India for a period of three years from the date of publication of the Order of Constitution in the Official Gazette.

Benefits

          The Government will have the benefit of recommendations from a specialised body on different aspects of law which are entrusted to the Commission for its study and recommendations, as per its terms of reference.

The Law Commission shall, on a reference made to it by the Central Government or suo-motu, undertake research in law and review of existing laws in India for making reforms therein and enacting new legislations. It shall also undertake studies and research for bringing reforms in the justice delivery systems for elimination of delay in procedures, speedy disposal of cases, reduction in cost of litigation etc.

The Law Commission of India shall, inter-alia,: –

  1. identify laws which are no longer needed or relevant and can be immediately repealed;
  2. examine the existing laws in the light of Directive Principles of State Policy and suggest ways of improvement and reform and also suggest such legislations as might be necessary to implement the Directive Principles and to attain the objectives set out in the Preamble of the Constitution;
  3. consider and convey to the Government its views on any subject relating to law and judicial administration that may be specifically referred to it by the Government through Ministry of Law and Justice (Department of Legal Affairs);
  4. Consider the requests for providing research to any foreign countries as may be referred to it by the Government through Ministry of Law and Justice (Department of Legal Affairs);
  5. take all such measures as may be necessary to harness law and the legal process in the service of the poor;
  6. revise the Central Acts of general importance so as to simplify them and remove anomalies, ambiguities and inequities;

Before finalizing its recommendations, the Commission will consult the nodal Ministry/ Department (s) and such other stakeholders as the Commission may deem necessary for the purpose.

Background

The Law Commission of India is a non-statutory body constituted by the Government of India from time to time. The Commission was originally constituted in 1955 and is re-constituted every three years. The tenure of twenty-first Law Commission of India was upto 31st August, 2018.

The various Law Commission have been able to make important contribution towards the progressive development and codification of Law of the country. The Law Commission has so far submitted 277 reports.

The 22nd Law Commission will be constituted for a period of three years from the date of publication of its Order in the Official Gazette. It will consist of:

  1. a full-time Chairperson;
  2. four full-time Members (including Member-Secretary)
  3. Secretary, Department of Legal Affairs as ex-officio Member;
  4. Secretary, Legislative Department as ex officio Member; and
  5. not more than five part-time Members.

Cabinet

[Source: PIB]

[Press Release dt. 19-02-2020]

Cabinet DecisionsLegislation Updates

The Union Cabinet was apprised of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between India and Iceland in the field of Fisheries.  The MoU was signed on 10-09-2019.

The salient features of the MoU are:

  1. Creation of facilities for exchange of scientists and technical experts and their proper placement, especially in areas of estimating Total Allowable Catches in offshore and deep sea areas;
  2. Provision of training to fisheries professionals from key fisheries institutions in the various management aspects on areas of modern fisheries management and fish processing
  3. Exchange of scientific literature research findings and other information.
  4. Exchange of experts/expertise to study the prospects of fishing.  Processing and marketing of products from high seas fisheries for entrepreneurship development.

The MoU will strengthen the existing friendly relations between India and Iceland and will enhance consultation and cooperation on Fisheries including consultation on bilateral issues.


Cabinet

[Press Release dt. 12-02-2020]

[Source: PIB]

Cabinet DecisionsLegislation Updates

Union Cabinet has given its in-principle approval for capital infusion for three Public Sector General Insurance Companies, namely, Oriental Insurance Company Limited (OICL), National Insurance Company Limited (NICL) and United India Insurance Company Limited (UIICL).

In view of the above, Cabinet has allowed the immediate release of Rs. 2500 Crore in the light of the critical financial position and breach of regulatory solvency requirements of 3 PSGICs viz. OICL, NICL and UIICL.


Cabinet

[Source: PIB]

[Press Release dt. 12-02-2020]

 

Cabinet DecisionsLegislation Updates

The Union Cabinet has given its ‘in-principle’ approval for setting up a Major Port at Vadhavan near Dahanu in Maharashtra.

The total cost of the project is likely to be Rs 65,544.54 crore.

Vadhavan port will be developed on “landlord model”. ASpecial Purpose Vehicle (SPV) will be formed with Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) as the lead partner with equity participation equal to or more than 50% to implement the project. The SPV will develop the port infrastructure including reclamation, construction of breakwater, besides establishing connectivity to the hinterland. All the business activities would be undertaken under PPP mode by private developers.

The position of JN Port, the biggest container port in India is 28th in the world with a traffic of 5.1 million TEUs (Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units). Even after the completion of the 4th terminal at JN Port with a capacity increase upto 10 million TEUs by 2023, it will stand as the 17thlargest container port in the world. With the development of Vadhavan port, India will break into the countries with the top 10 container ports in the world.

Maharashtra has India’s largest container port at JNPT which caters to the hinterland of Maharashtra, North Karnataka, Telangana and secondary hinterland of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, NCR, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. There is a need for a deep draft port that will accommodate the largest Container Ships in the world and also cater to the spillover traffic from JNPT port once its planned capacity of 10 million TEUs is fully utilized. JNPT and Mundra, the two largest container handling ports of the country (for mid-size container ships only), have drafts of 15 M and 16 M respectively, while the world’s largest container-handling modern deep draft ports require a draft of 18M-20M. The Vadhavan port has a natural draft of about 20 meters close to the shore, making it possible for it to handle bigger vessels at the port. Development of Vadhavan port will enable call of container vessels of 16,000-25,000 TEUs capacity, giving advantages of economies of scale & reducing logistics cost.

The ever increasing size of container ships makes it imperative that a deep-draft container port on West Coast of India is developed. Increasing containerization of cargo in the wake of the value-added manufacturing sector makes it important to prepare our port infrastructure for handling value-added import and export to facilitate manufacturing activity. Container traffic in the JNPT hinterland is expected to grow from 4.5 MTEUs currently to 10.1 MTEUs by 2022-25 when JNPT’s potential will be fully exhausted. The demand for container traffic will further accelerate after the plans for improving logistic infrastructure fructify and the ‘Make in India’ push drives greater exports and manufacture sourcing to India.


Cabinet

[Press Release dt. 05-02-2020]

[Source: PIB]

Cabinet DecisionsLegislation Updates

Union Cabinet has given its approval for the Agreement between the Republic of India and the Federative Republic of Brazil on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters has to be signed.

The Agreement aims to enhance effectiveness of both the countries in investigation and prosecution of crime through cooperation and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters. In the context of transnational crime and its linkages to terrorism, the proposed Agreement will provide a broad legal framework for bilateral cooperation with the Federative Republic of Brazil in investigation and prosecution of crime as well as in tracing, restraint and confiscation of proceeds and instruments of crime as well as the fund meant to finance terrorist acts.


Cabinet

[Source: PIB]

[Press Release dt. 22-01-2020]

Cabinet DecisionsLegislation Updates

Union Cabinet has approved the extension of the term of the Commission to examine the issue of Sub-categorization of Other Backward Classes, by six months that is up to 31.7.2020.

The Cabinet has also approved the addition of the following Term of Reference to the existing Terms of Reference of the “Commission” –

“iv. to study the various Entries in the “Central List of OBCs and recommend correction of any repetitions, ambiguities, inconsistencies and errors of spelling or transcription.”

Impact:

The Communities in the existing list of OBCs which have not been able to get any major benefit of the scheme of reservation for OBCs for appointment in Central Government posts & for admission in Central Government Educational Institutions are expected to be benefitted upon implementation of the recommendations of the Commission. The Commission is likely to make recommendations for benefit of such marginalized communities in the Central List of OBCs.

Financial Implications:

The expenditure involved are related to the establishment and administration costs of the Commission, which would continue to be borne by the Department of Social Justice and Empowerment.

Benefits:

All persons belonging to the castes/communities which are included in the Central List of SEBCs but which have not been able to get any major benefit of the existing scheme of reservation for OBCs in Central Government posts & for admission in Central Government Educational Institutions would be benefitted.

Implementation strategy and targets:

Orders for extension of the term of the Commission and addition in its Terms of Reference will be notified in the Gazette ‘in the form of an Order made by the President, after receipt of the approval of the Hon’ble President to the same.

Background:

The Commission was constituted under article 340 of the Constitution with the approval of President on 2nd  October, 2017. The Commission, headed by Justice (Retd.) Smt. G. Rohini commenced functioning on 11th October, 2017 and has since interacted with all the Stats/UTs which have subcategorized OBCs, and the State Backward Classes Commissions. The Commission has come to the view that it would require some more time to submit, its report since the repetitions, ambiguities, inconsistencies and errors of spelling or transcription etc appearing in the existing Central List of OBCs need to be cleared. Hence the Commission has sought extension of its term by six, that is upto 31st July 2020 and also addition in its existing Terms of Reference.


Cabinet

[Press Release dt. 22-01-2020]

Cabinet DecisionsLegislation Updates

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has given ‘in principle’ approval for strategic disinvestment of equity shareholding of Minerals & Metals Trading Corporation Limited (MMTC) (49.78%), National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) (10.10%), MECON (0.68%) and Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd. (BHEL) (0.68%) and two Odisha State Government PSUs namely; Industrial Promotion and Investment Corporation of Odisha Ltd.(IPICOL) (12.00%) and Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC) (20.47%) in Neelachal Ispat Nigam Limited (NINL) to a strategic buyer, identified through a two-stage auction procedure. NINL is a Joint Venture company, in which four CPSEs namely MMTC, NMDC, BHEL and MECON and 2 State PSUs of Odisha Government, namely IPICOL and OMC are shareholders.

The proposed strategic disinvestment of NINL would unlock resources to be used to finance the social sector/developmental programmes of the Government benefiting the public. It is also expected that the successful strategic buyer may bring in new management/technology/investment for the growth of the company and may use innovative methods for the development of the business operations of the company, which may generate more employment opportunities.


Ministry of Finance

[Press Release dt. 08-01-2020]

[Source: PIB]

Cabinet DecisionsLegislation Updates

The Union Cabinet has given its approval for an Agreement between Government of the Republic of India and Government of Mongolia on Cooperation in the Exploration and Uses of Outer Space for Peaceful and Civilian Purposes.

The Agreement was signed at New Delhi on 20 September 2019 during the state visit of the President of Mongolia to India.

Details:

  • This Agreement shall enable pursuing the following potential interest areas of cooperation such as space science, technology and applications including remote sensing of the earth; satellite communication and satellite-based navigation; Space science and planetary exploration; use of spacecraft and space systems and ground system; and application of space technology.
  • The Agreement would lead to set up a Joint Working Group, drawing members from DOS/ISRO and Communications and Information Technology Authority of the Government of Mongolia, which will further work out the plan of action including the time-frame and the means of implementing this Agreement.

Financial Implications:

The financial arrangements to cover expenses for the co-operative activities undertaken within the framework of this Agreement will be jointly decided by the respective Participants on a case-by-case basis subject to the availability of funds.

Benefits:

Cooperation with and the Government of Mongolia through this Agreement would lead to develop a joint activity in the field of application of space technologies for the benefit of humanity. Thus all sections and regions of the country will get benefited.

Implementation Strategy and Targets:

The signed Agreement would lead to concluding specific implementing Arrangements and setting up of Joint Working Group, to work out the plan of action including the time-frame and the means of implementing this Agreement.

Impact:

The signed Agreement will provide impetus to explore newer research activities and application possibilities in the field of remote sensing of the earth; satellite communication; satellite navigation; space science and exploration of outer space.

Background:

  • Department of Space (DOS) and the Mongolian Ministry of Infrastructure signed an ‘Agreement for cooperation in space science, technology and applications’ on January 15, 2004. Apart from training of Mongolian officials on space technology application, no major cooperative activities have been taken up. When our Embassy in Mongolia was contacted for reviving the cooperation, it is understood that the Mongolian Ministry of Infrastructure is abolished and the space activities are presently handled by the Communication and Information Technology Authority (CITA) of Mongolia.
  • The embassy has further mentioned that, high-level delegation from Mongolia is expected to visit India during September 2019 and space cooperation would be one of the agenda. Embassy requested ISRO to share a draft Agreement on space cooperation for further taking up with CITA. Accordingly, a draft Agreement for India-Mongolia Space cooperation was drafted and shared with

Embassy, with approval of Chairman, ISRO/ Secretary, DOS. Subsequently, the Mongolian side has given its concurrence and both sides have arrived at workable versions and proposed to sign the agreement during high-level delegation visit from Mongolia.


Department of Space

[Source: PIB]

[Press Release dt. 08-01-2020]

Cabinet DecisionsLegislation Updates

The Union Cabinet has been apprised of information about the amendments moved to the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019 as passed by the Rajya Sabha.

Amendments will ensure concurrence of the State Governments while formulating National Transport Policy and making schemes for national, multimodal and inter-state transportation of goods and passengers by the Central Government.

Background

Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was approved by the Cabinet in its meeting held on 24th June, 2019 for re-introduction in the Lok Sabha. The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was passed in the Lok Sabha on 23rd July, 2019.  Later, the Bill was taken into consideration in Rajya Sabha on 31st July, 2019.  The Bill with the official amendments was passed by the Rajya Sabha on 31st July, 2019.  Further, the amendments were placed before the Lok Sabha and were passed in the Lok Sabha on 5th August, 2019.


Cabinet

[Press Release dt. 08-01-2020]

[Source: PIB]

Cabinet DecisionsLegislation Updates

In a landmark decision with tremendous reform in higher defence management in the country, the Union Cabinet approved to create the post of Chief of Defence Staff in the rank of a four-star General with salary and perquisites equivalent to a Service Chief.

The Chief of Defence Staff will also head the Department of Military Affairs (DMA), to be created within the Ministry of Defence and function as its Secretary.

The following areas will be dealt with by the Department of Military Affairs headed by CDS:

  1. The Armed Forces of the Union, namely, the Army, the Navy and the Air Force.
  2. Integrated Headquarters of the Ministry of Defence comprising Army Headquarters, Naval Headquarters, Air Headquarters and Defence Staff Headquarters.
  3. The Territorial Army.
  4. Works relating to the Army, the Navy and the Air Force.
  5. Procurement exclusive to the Services except capital acquisitions, as per prevalent rules and procedures.

Apart from the above, the mandate of the Department of Military Affairs will include the following areas:

  1. Promoting jointness in procurement, training and staffing for the Services through joint planning and integration of their requirements.
  2. Facilitation of restructuring of Military Commands for optimal utilisation of resources by bringing about jointness in operations, including through establishment of joint/theatre commands.
  3. Promoting use of indigenous equipment by the Services.

The Chief of Defence Staff, apart from being the head of the Department of Military Affairs, will also be the Permanent Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee. He will act as the Principal Military Adviser to Raksha Mantri on all tri-Services matters. The three Chiefs will continue to advise RM on matters exclusively concerning their respective Services. CDS will not exercise any military command, including over the three Service Chiefs, so as to be able to provide impartial advice to the political leadership.

As the Permanent Chairman of Chiefs of Staff Committee, CDS will perform the following functions:

  • CDS will administer tri-services organisations. Tri-service agencies/organisations/commands related to Cyber and Space will be under the command of the CDS.

· CDS will be member of Defence Acquisition Council chaired by Raksha Mantri and Defence Planning Committee chaired by NSA.

· Function as the Military Adviser to the Nuclear Command Authority.

· Bring about jointness in operation, logistics, transport, training, support services, communications, repairs and maintenance, etc of the three Services, within three years of the first CDS assuming office.

· Ensure optimal utilisation of infrastructure and rationalise it through jointness among the services.

· Implement Five-Year Defence Capital Acquisition Plan (DCAP), and Two-Year roll-on Annual Acquisition Plans (AAP), as a follow up of Integrated Capability Development Plan (ICDP).

· Assign inter-Services prioritisation to capital acquisition proposals based on the anticipated budget.

  • Bring about reforms in the functioning of three Services aimed at augmenting combat capabilities of the Armed Forces by reducing wasteful expenditure.

It is expected that this reform in the Higher Defence Management would enable the Armed Forces to implement coordinated defence doctrines and procedures and go a long way in fostering jointmanship among the three Services. The country would be benefitted by coordinated action on greater jointmanship in training, logistics and operations as well as for prioritisation of procurements.

Background

This follows the announcement made by the Prime Minister on 15-08-2019, in his address to the nation, inter alia, “India should not have a fragmented approach. Our entire military power will have to work in unison and move forward.  All three (Services) should move simultaneously at the same pace. There should be good coordination and it should be relevant to the hope and aspirations of our people. It should be in line with the changing war and security environment with the world.   After the formation of this post (CDS), all three forces will get effective leadership at the top level.”


Cabinet

[Source: PIB]

[Press Release dt. 24-12-2019]

Cabinet DecisionsLegislation Updates

Union Cabinet has given ex-post facto approval on an Agreement between the Ministry of Home Affairs of the Republic of India and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Uzbekistan on Cooperation in the field of Combating Transnational Organized Crime and International Terrorism, that was signed by Union Home Minister and the Minister of Internal Affairs, the Republic of Uzbekistan at New Delhi on 20-11-2019 during the visit of Hon’ble Minister of Internal Affairs of Republic of Uzbekistan to India.

The agreement aims to improve the effectiveness of both countries in prevention and suppression of crimes including crime relating to terrorism and its financing, organized crime and to establish a framework for enhancing cooperation between the officials of intelligence and law-enforcement agencies of the two countries, in line with domestic laws and international obligations.


Cabinet

[Source: PIB]

[Press Release dt. 24-12-2019]

Cabinet DecisionsLegislation Updates

Union Cabinet has decided to honour the contribution of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee by naming the Strategic Tunnel under Rohtang Pass after him on December 25, 2019, which happens to be his birthday. The historic decision to construct a strategic tunnel below the Rohtang Pass was taken on June 03, 2000, when late Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the Prime Minister. The foundation stone for the Access Road to the South Portal of the tunnel was laid on May 26, 2002.

The 8.8-kilometre-long tunnel is the world’s longest tunnel above an altitude of 3,000 metres. It will reduce the distance between Manali and Leh by 46 kilometres and save crores of rupees in transport costs. It is a 10.5-metre wide single tube bi-lane tunnel with a fireproof emergency egress tunnel built into the main tunnel itself.

The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) worked relentlessly to overcome major geological, terrain and weather challenges that included the most difficult stretch of the 587-metre Seri Nalah Fault Zone. The breakthrough from both ends was achieved on October 15, 2017.

The tunnel is now nearing completion and is a step in the direction of providing all-weather connectivity to remote border areas of Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh which otherwise remained cut off from the rest of the country for about six months during winters.


Cabinet

[Press Release dt. 24-12-2019]

[Source: PIB]

Cabinet DecisionsLegislation Updates

The Union Cabinet approved a proposal to promulgate an Ordinance to amend the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.

The Amendment will remove certain ambiguities in the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 and ensure smooth implementation of the Code.

Under the Amendments, the liability of a corporate debtor for an offence committed prior to the commencement of the corporate insolvency resolution process shall cease, and the corporate debtor shall not be prosecuted for such an offence from the date the resolution plan has been approved by the Adjudicating Authority if the resolution plan results in the change in the management or control of the corporate debtor to a person who was not:

  • A promoter or in the management or control of the corporate debtor or a related party of such a person; or
  •  A person with regard to whom the relevant investigating authority has, on the basis of material in its possession, reason to believe that he had abetted or conspired for the commission of the offence, and has submitted or filed a report or a complaint to the relevant statutory authority or Court.

Subject to relevant provisions the corporate debtor shall, as required, extend all assistance and co-operation to any authority investigating an offence committed prior to the commencement of the corporate insolvency resolution process.


Cabinet

[Press Release dt. 24-12-2019]

[Source: PIB]

Cabinet DecisionsLegislation Updates

Cabinet has approved the proposal for conducting the Census of India 2021 at a cost of Rs 8,754.23 crore and updation of National Population Register (NPR) at a cost of Rs 3,941.35 crore.

Census of India will cover the entire population in the country while NPR will also cover all the population except in the state of Assam.

Details:                                                                        

  • The Indian Census is largest administrative and statistical exercise in the world. The next decennial Census is due in 2021 and would be conducted in two phases:
  1. House listing and Housing Census – April to September, 2020 and
  2. Population Enumeration – 9th February to 28th February, 2021.

The National Population Register (NPR) will also be updated along with House listing and Housing Census except in Assam.

  • 30 lakh field functionaries will complete this gigantic exercise of national importance, up from 28 lakh in 2011.
  • Use of mobile app for data collection and the Central portal for monitoring purpose will ensure early release of Census data with improved quality.
  • Data dissemination will be much better and in a user-friendly way so that all the queries on required parameters for policy making will be made available on the click of a button.
  • Census-as-a-service (CaaS) will deliver on-demand data to ministries in a clean, machine-readable and actionable format.

Implementation strategy and targets:    

  • The Census process involves visiting each and every household and canvassing separate questionnaires for House listing and Housing Census and Population Enumeration.
  • The enumerators, generally government teachers and appointed by the State Governments, will be doing the work of NPR along with the Census in addition to their regular duties.
  • Other Census functionaries at Sub-district, District and State levels will also be appointed by the State/District Administration.
  • New initiatives taken for the Census 2021 are:

i.  Use of Mobile App for the first time for data collection.

ii.   Census Monitoring & Management Portal as a single source for all officers/ officials involved in Census activities to provide multi-language support.

iii.  Facility of online self-enumeration for public during the Population Enumeration phase. Code Directory to record the descriptive responses saving time in processing of data.

iv.  Transfer of honorarium etc. to the Census functionaries for the Census & NPR related work directly to their bank accounts using Public Financial Management System (PFMS) and Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) covering more than 60% of the total expenditure.

v.  Qualitative training to 30 lakh field functionaries and utilising services of national/state level training institutes to prepare national and state-level trainers.

Background:

Decennial Population Census is being conducted in India synchronously since 1872 without break. Census 2021 will be the 16th Census in the country and 8th after independence. Census is the biggest source of primary data at village, town and ward level providing micro-level data on various parameters including Housing Condition; Amenities & Assets, Demography, Religion, SC & ST, Language, Literacy & Education, Economic Activity, Migration and Fertility. The Census Act, 1948 and the Census Rules, 1990 provide the legal framework for the conduct of the Census.

The National Population Register (NPR) was prepared in 2010 under the provisions of the Citizenship Act, 1955 and Citizenship Rules, 2003, which was subsequently updated in 2015 by seeding it with Aadhaar.

[Source: PIB]


Understand the meaning of the National Population Register:

The National Population Register (NPR) is a Register of the usual residents of the country. It is being prepared at the local (Village/sub-Town), sub-District, District, State and National level under provisions of the Citizenship Act 1955 and the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003. It is mandatory for every usual resident of India to register in the NPR. A usual resident is defined for the purposes of NPR as a person who has resided in a local area for the past 6 months or more or a person who intends to reside in that area for the next 6 months or more.

The objective of the NPR is to create a comprehensive identity database of every usual resident in the country. The database would contain demographic as well as biometric particulars.

The following demographic details of every individual are required for every usual resident:
  • Name of person
  • Relationship to head of household
  • Father’s name
  • Mother’s name
  • Spouse’s name (if married)
  • Sex
  • Date of Birth
  • Marital status
  • Place of birth
  • Nationality (as declared)
  • Present address of usual residence
  • Duration of stay at present address
  • Permanent residential address
  • Occupation/Activity
  • Educational qualification

The data for National Population Register was collected in 2010 alongwith the houselisting phase of Census of India 2011. The updation of this data was done during 2015 by conducting door to door survey. The digitisation of the updated information has been completed. Now it has been decided to update the National Population Register along with the Houselisting phase of Census 2021 from April to September 2020 in all the States/UTs except Assam. Gazette notification to this effect has already been published by the Central Government.


 

Cabinet DecisionsLegislation Updates

The Union Cabinet has given its approval to introduce the Aircraft (Amendment) Bill, 2019 for carrying out the amendments to the Aircraft Act, 1934 (XXII of 1934).  The Bill will now be introduced in the Parliament.

The Bill enhances the maximum limit of fine from the existing Rs 10 lakhs to Rs One Crore. It also enlarges the scope of the existing Act to include regulation of all areas of Air Navigation.

The amendments would fulfill the requirements of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). This will enable the three regulatory bodies in the Civil Aviation sector in India, namely Directorate General of Civil Aviation, Bureau of Civil Aviation Security and Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau to become more effective, which will lead to enhancement in the level of safety and security of aircraft operations in the country.


Cabinet

[Press Release dt. 11-12-2019]

[Source: PIB]

NewsTreaties/Conventions/International Agreements

The Union Cabinet approved the proposal of the Election Commission to enter into the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Election Commission of Maldives on cooperation in the field of electoral management and administration.  This includes the exchange of knowledge and experience in the field of organizational and technical development of electoral process; support in exchanging information, institutional strengthening and capacity building, training of personnel, holding regular consultations; etc.

The proposed MoU would promote bilateral cooperation, aimed at building technical assistance/capacity support for the Election Commission of Maldives, envisaging cooperation in the field of electoral management and administration.


Cabinet

[Press Release dt. 04-12-2019]

[Source: PIB]

Cabinet DecisionsLegislation Updates

Fund to provide additional money for CPSUs, CPSEs & other Government organizations

Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has given its approval for creation and launch of Bharat Bond Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) to create an additional source of funding for Central Public Sector Undertakings (CPSUs) Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs), Central Public Financial Institutions (CPFIs) and other Government organizations.

Bharat Bond ETF would be the first corporate Bond ETF in the country.

Features of Bharat Bond ETF:

ETF will be a basket of bonds issued by CPSE/CPSU/CPFI/any other Government organization Bonds (Initially, all AAA-rated bonds)

•       Tradable on exchange

•       Small unit size Rs 1,000

•       Transparent NAV (Periodic live NAV during the day)

•       Transparent Portfolio (Daily disclosure on website)

•       Low cost (0.0005%)

Bharat Bond ETF Structure:

•     Each ETF will have a fixed maturity date

•     The ETF will track the underlying Index on risk replication basis, i.e. matching Credit Quality and Average Maturity of the Index

•     Will invest in a portfolio of bonds of CPSE, CPSU, CPFI or any other Government organizations that matures on or before the maturity date of the ETF

•    As of now, it will have 2 maturity series – 3 and 10 years. Each series will have a separate index of the same maturity series.

Index Methodology:

•      Index will be constructed by an independent index provider – National Sock Exchange

•      Different indices tracking specific maturity years – 3 and 10 years

 Benefits of Bharat Bond ETF to investors:

•      Bond ETF will provide safety (underlying bonds are issued by CPSEs and other Government-owned entities), liquidity (tradability on exchange) and predictable tax-efficient returns (target maturity structure).

•      It will also provide access to retail investors to invest in bonds with smaller amount (as low as Rs. 1,000) thereby providing easy and low-cost access to bond markets.

•      This will increase participation of retail investors who are currently not participating in bond markets due to liquidity and accessibility constraints.

•      Tax efficiency compared to Bonds as coupons from the Bonds are taxed at marginal rates. Bond ETFs are taxed with the benefit of indexation which significantly reduces the tax on capital gains for investor.

Bharat Bond ETF Benefits for CPSEs:

•        Bond ETF would offer CPSEs, CPSUs, CPFIs and other Government organizations an additional source of meeting their borrowing requirements apart from bank financing.

•        It will expand their investor base through retail and HNI participation which can increase demand for their bonds. With increase in demand for their bonds, these issuers may be able to borrow at reduced cost thereby reducing their cost of borrowing over a period of time.

•        Further, Bond ETF trading on the exchange will help in better price discovery of the underlying bonds.

•        Since a broad debt calendar to assess the borrowing needs of the CPSEs would be prepared and approved each year, it would inculcate borrowing discipline in the CPSEs at least to the extent of this investment.

Developmental impact on Bond Markets:

•        Target Maturity Bond ETF is expected to create a yield curve and a ladder of Bond ETFs with different maturities across calendar years.

•        ETF is expected to create new eco-system – Market Makers, index providers and awareness amongst investors – for launching new Bond ETFs in India.

•        This is expected to eventually increase the size of bond ETFs in India leading to achieving key objectives at a larger scale – deepening bond markets, enhancing retail participation and reducing borrowing costs.


Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs

Cbinet

Cabinet DecisionsLegislation Updates

As per the reports of ANI, the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019 has been approved by the Union Cabinet.

It is said that it will be introduced in the Winter Session of Parliament.

Provisions that would be introduced for further discussion in the Parliament and have been incorporated in the bill are as follows:

  • In the Citizenship Act, 1955 (hereinafter referred to as the principal Act), in section 2, in sub-section (1), after clause (b), the following provisos shall be inserted, namely:—

“Provided that persons belonging to minority communities, namely, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, who have been exempted by the Central Government by or under clause (c) of sub- section (2) of section 3 of the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 or from the application of the provisions of the Foreigners Act, 1946 or any order made thereunder, shall not be treated as illegal migrants for the purposes of that Act:

Provided further that on and from the date of commencement of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, any proceeding pending against any person referred to in the first proviso shall be abated and such person shall be eligible to apply for naturalisation under Section 6.”

  • In the principal Act, in section 7D,—

(i) after clause (d), the following clause shall be inserted namely:—

“(da) the Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder has violated any of the provisions of this Act or provisions of any other law for the time being in force as may be specified by the Central Government by notification published in the Official Gazette; or”;

(ii) after clause (f), the following proviso shall be inserted, namely:—

“Provided that no order under this section shall be passed unless the Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder has been given a reasonable opportunity of being heard.”

  • In the principal Act, in the Third Schedule, in clause (d), the following proviso shall be inserted, namely:—

“Provided that for the persons belonging to minority communities, namely, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, the aggregate period of residence or service of a Government in India as required under this clause shall be read as “not less than six years” in place of “not less than eleven years”.