News: India Customs intercepted an 18-tonne shipment of red sandalwood destined for the United Arab Emirates, during “Operation Thunder 2020”.
- Operation Thunder: It is coordinated by the INTERPOL and the World Customs Organization(WCO) involving law enforcement agencies in 103 countries against environmental crime.
- World Customs Organization (WCO): It is an independent intergovernmental body established in 1952 to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of Customs administrations. Headquarters:Brussels, Belgium.
- International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL): It is an intergovernmental organization established in 1923 with the aim to facilitate worldwide police cooperation and crime control in around 194 countries.Headquarters: Lyon,France.
News: The Ministry of Home Affairs has amended FCRA Rules,2011 to notify new rules under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA),2010.
What are the Key Amendments?
- Farmers, students, religious and other groups who are not directly aligned to any political party can receive foreign funds if the groups are not involved in “active politics”.
- Any organisation that wants to register itself under FCRA shall be in existence for three years and should have spent a minimum amount of ₹15 lakh on its core activities for the benefit of society during the last three financial years.
- However, exceptions could be granted in exceptional cases or in cases where a person is controlled by the Central Government or a State Government may waive the conditions.
- The office bearers of NGOs or organisations seeking registration under the FCRA must submit a specific commitment letter from the donor indicating the amount of foreign contribution and the purpose for which it was being given.
- Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act: It is an act of Parliament enacted in 1976 and amended in 2010 to regulate foreign donations and to ensure that such contributions do not adversely affect internal security.
- The Act is applicable to all associations, groups and non-governmental organisations(NGOs) who intend to receive foreign donations.
- The members of legislatures, political parties, government officials, judges and media persons are prohibited from receiving any foreign contributions.
News: The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister has given its approval to introduce the Production-Linked Incentive(PLI) Scheme for 10 key sectors.
- Aim: To help encourage domestic manufacturing, reduce imports and generate employment.
- Features: Under the Scheme, companies will get incentives on incremental sales from products manufactured in domestic units.
- Implementation: The scheme will be implemented by the concerned ministries/departments.
- 10 Key Sectors (and Implementing Ministry/Department):
- Advance Chemistry Cell (ACC) Battery: NITI Aayog and Department of Heavy Industries.
- Electronic/Technology Products: Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology
- Automobiles & Auto Components: Department of Heavy Industries.
- Pharmaceuticals drugs: Department of Pharmaceuticals
- Telecom & Networking Products: Department of Telecom
- Textile Products (MMF segment and technical textiles): Ministry of Textiles
- Food Products: Ministry of Food Processing Industries.
- High Efficiency Solar PV Modules: Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.
- White Goods (ACs & LED): Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade.
- Speciality Steel: Ministry of Steel.
- Note: The above sectors will be in addition to the already notified PLI schemes in the following sectors:
- Mobile Manufacturing and Specified Electronic Components: Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeiTY).
- Critical Drug Intermediaries, Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients and Manufacturing of Medical Devices: Department of Pharmaceuticals.
News: Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved the continuation and revamping of Scheme for Financial Support to Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) in Infrastructure Viability Gap Funding(VGF) Scheme till 2024-25.
- Aim: To promote PPPs in social and Economic Infrastructure leading to efficient creation of assets and ensuring their proper Operation and Maintenance and make the economically/socially essential projects commercially viable.
- Sub scheme -1:
- This would cater to Social Sectors such as Waste Water Treatment, Water Supply, Solid Waste Management, Health and Education sectors.
- These projects face bankability issues and poor revenue streams to cater fully to capital costs.But it should have at least 100% Operational Cost recovery.
- The Central Government will provide a maximum of 30% of Total Project Cost(TPC) of the project as VGF and State Government may provide additional support up to 30%.
- It will support demonstration/pilot social sectors projects.The projects may be from Health and Education sectors where there is at least 50% Operational Cost recovery.
- In such projects, the Central Government and the State Governments together will provide up to 80% of capital expenditure.
- Funding: The scheme will be financed from budgetary support of the Ministry of Finance.
News: SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft will lift off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida carrying a crew of four people to the International Space Station(ISS) on a six-month-long mission.
- Crew-1 mission: It is part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program whose objective is to make access to space easier in terms of its cost so that cargo and crew can be easily transported to and from the ISS enabling greater scientific research.
- Commercial Crew Program: It is a partnership between NASA and the private industry to develop and fly human space transportation systems.
News: Government has brought video streaming over-the-top(OTT) platforms under the ambit of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.These platforms were so far under the purview of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.
- What are OTT platforms? It is a streaming media service offered directly to viewers via the Internet.Examples include Netflix, Amazon’s Prime Video, Hotstar and others.
- What are the laws regulating OTT platforms? Currently, there is no law or autonomous body governing digital content.
- What about other platforms? At present, the Press Council of India regulates the print media, the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) represents the news channels, the Advertising Standards Council of India regulates advertising while the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) monitors films.
- What happens now to the OTT platforms? The central government’s move to bring the OTT platforms under the I&B Ministry will give the government control over the OTT platforms which were unregulated till now.
News: International Financial Services Centres Authority(IFSCA) has approved the International Financial Services Centres Authority (Banking) Regulations, 2020.
Salient Features of the Banking Regulations include:
- Laying down the requirements for setting up IFSC Banking Units (IBUs)
- Permitting persons resident outside India (having net worth not less than USD 1 Million) to open foreign currency accounts in any freely convertible currency at IFSC Banking Units(IBUs)
- Laying down the permissible activities of IBUs which includes credit enhancement, credit insurance, purchase of portfolios, engage in factoring and forfaiting of export receivables and undertake equipment leasing, including aircraft leasing
- Permitting IFSCA to determine business that a Banking Unit may be permitted to conduct in INR with persons resident in India and persons resident outside India.
- IFSC Banking Units(IBUs): It is equivalent to an Overseas Branch for all practical purposes.It facilitates a base for world class International Banking services in the country.
- IFSCA: It was established to regulate the financial services market in the International Financial Services Centres set up under the Special Economic Zones Act, 2005.