Indian Current Affairs | Current Affairs India - April 2012

2012 : Year of the intensification of Routine Immunization
Strengthening routine immunization is an imperative if we wish to sustain our gains in polio and guard ourselves against both distant and international importations. Thus 2012 has been declared the year of the intensification of Routine Immunization. Govt intend to accelerate routine immunization activities from 1st April itself through special immunization drives, with a special focus on 207 districts recording low routine immunization coverage”. 26 million mothers and children have already been registered under the web enabled mother and child tracking system set up by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The system generates weekly work plans for the Auxiliary Nurse Midwives through SMS. Alerts are also sent to the beneficiaries to remind them of the date of the due health services. In 14 States where coverage is less than 80 percent, introduction of second dose of measles has been started.
Sustainable Development Leadership award
The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh gave away the Sustainable Development Leadership award for 2012 to the President of Finland Ms. Tarja Halonen. Following is the text of the Prime Minister’s address on the occasion: I am also happy to state that India`s forest cover had increased by nearly 5% between 1997 and 2007 with a small decrease since then. We hope to see further accretion with the implementation of the Green India Mission which aims to increase the forest and tree cover by 5 million hectares and improve forest cover on another 5 million hectares. Eventually these forests will act as a sink that could absorb 50-60 million tons of carbon dioxide annually. This would offset about 6 percent of India`s annual emissions.

I am happy to share with you the heart-warming news that India`s tiger population is on the rise. The 2011 tiger census showed a 20 percent increase in the number of tigers over that of the year 2006. We have estimated that there are today around 1700 wild tigers in India out of a global population of around 3,000. I hope that the lessons learnt will be used to conserve other endangered species as well.

We have recently established a National Green Tribunal under the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010. The Tribunal provides for the effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources. This includes the enforcement of any legal right relating to environment, including providing relief and compensation for damages.

The National Ganga River Basin Authority is yet another example where we are trying institutional innovation to protect the sacred River. The objective of the Authority is to ensure conservation of the river Ganga and to maintain environmental flows by adopting a comprehensive river basin approach. We hope that the engagement of all stakeholders and this new approach will yield positive results.

National Green Tribunal Act
National Green Tribunal Act (NGT) was established in 2010, under India's constitutional provision of Article 21, which assures the citizens of India, the right to a healthy environment. It is a specialized body equipped with the necessary expertise to handle environmental disputes involving multi-disciplinary issues. The Tribunal shall not be bound by the procedure laid down under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, but shall be guided by principles of natural justice.

Govt announces six forest-based projects in Naxal affected areas
Government announced creation of six projects in Non-Timber Forest Produce, NTFP covering around 60 naxal-affected districts in the country. The projects to be executed within six months will be in the Public Private Partnership mode and will cover the States like Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. The projects in Lac, Gum, Medicinal Plants, Tasar, Bamboo and Non-edible oil seeds like Neem and Mahua will maximise the return for the tribal engaged in collection of these forest products. He said that expansion of market and regeneration of NTFP in a sustainable manner are the other two challenges facing this sector. He added that the projects will be part of the National Rural Livelihood Mission and will focus primarily on livelihood generation and value additional in the non-timber forest products in naxal affected areas and called for cooperative arrangement between forest departments and the local self help groups and other such organizations.

India to become an open defecation free country by 2022, says Jairam
Shri Jairam Ramesh has called for making India an open defecation free country in 10 years and announced major restructuring of the Total Sanitation Campaign, TSC. Addressing a National Consultation on scaling up sanitation here, the Minister said there is a need to build a mass movement on the issue as the country accounts for almost 60 percent of open defecations in the world, which he described as shameful and pushed for a major paradigm shift in policy and approach to deal with this problem. He said, the sanitation challenge must be met in a Mission Mode fashion and favoured greater integration of finance, technology and civil society movement to achieve the goal.

Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission
Basic Services to the Urban Poor (BSUP) and Integrated Housing and Slum Development Programme (IHSDP) components of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), launched on 3rd December, 2005. The objective of these programmes is integrated development of slum areas and the provision of basic services to the urban poor, namely security of tenure at affordable prices, affordable housing, water supply, and sanitation and convergence with other already existing schemes for universal services such as education, health and social security. Under BSUP, Additional Central Assistance (ACA) is provided to 65 select cities for taking up projects for housing and related infrastructure facilities for the urban poor/slum dwellers. Other small and medium cities/towns are covered under the Integrated Housing and Slum Development Programme (IHSDP). The Mission period is 7 years from 2005-2012. Central Assistance ranging from 50 to 90 percent. Under the programmes, a minimum of 12% beneficiary contribution housing is solicited and in the case of SC/ST/BC/OBC/PH and other weaker sections the beneficiary contribution is 10%.

GST will bring about a Paradigm Shift in the Arena of Indirect Taxation : FM
With the introduction of Goods and Services Tax (GST), we are now perhaps at the door-step of the most significant reform in the history of indirect taxes in the country. GST is expected to be a more efficient system of taxation and is likely to give a boost to the tax revenues of the Centre and the States. GST will also remove barriers amongst States and convert the entire country into a common market. Once implemented, GST will bring about a paradigm shift in the arena of indirect taxation in the country.

BGREI turns Eastern region into food surplus region
The Bringing Green Revolution in Eastern India programme launched in 2010-11 as a Prime Minster`s initiative based on the Inter Ministerial Task Force has resulted in impressive increase in production of food grains with the eastern region now turning a food surplus region. The BGREI is a subscheme of the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojna (RKVYJ ) with an outlay of Rs. 400 crores in the eastern region including Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, Eastern Uttar Pradesh & West Bengal.

The programme gained momentum in 2011-12 with the focus on rice and wheat only and strategic interventions relating to crop production, water harvesting and recycling, asset building and site specific activities needed for improving the agronomy-adopting cluster approach aimed at enhancing the productivity per unit area and the income of the farmers. Eastern region hitherto known as food deficit region, has with the help of the programme, turned food surplus region. The rice production from the region is estimated at 562.6 lakh tons an increase of 19.8% over last year against an all India increase of 7%.

The increased productivity/ production was optimized due to resource allocation and utilization. The significant increase in production of food grains in the region not only offset the decline in production in central and peninsular India but also contributed significantly to the highest ever production of food grains. The growth in food grains i.e. rice and wheat provides an opportunity to procure and create food grain reserves locally reducing the pressure on Punjab and Haryana, and cutting costs on transport and other logistics.

Centre launches two new schemes for rural poor from Kerala
The centre has launched two new rural development schemes from the Thrissur district of Kerala aimed at helping the women working in farm sector through the intervention and integration of other such schemes. The second scheme launched from Thrissur and Malapuram districts is rechristened as new PURA( Provision of Urban Amenities in Rural Areas), which is aimed at creating physical infrastructure in rural areas of the country in the Public-Private Partnership mode. Launching both the schemes, the Union Minister of Rural Development Sh Jairam Ramesh said here that the government is embarking on a very important journey by launching the two national projects, whose results will be visible to the common man in the coming three to four years. The first project called Mahila Kisan Sashaktikaran Yojana has two components with a budgetary provision of Rs 80 crore each and is designed for improving the economic status of about three lakh women workers in the state of Kerala. The scheme will be launched in the entire country based on the feedbacks as is being done in the case of Kutumbshri scheme, which is highly successful in Kerala and other states are demanding for replicating the same self-help group model.