> Economy India

Cover Story

2 Years of Modi Govt

There is no One Step to Reform the Whole Economy: Jaitley

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the government is open to removing the additional 1 per cent tax to be levied on the inter-state movement of goods under the GST (Goods and Services Tax) regime, but did not see much logic in other demands of the Congress party. He said many regional political parties including UPA allies DMK and NCP are supporting the indirect tax reform. Congress has made passage of GST conditional on three demands: Removal of 1 per cent additional tax, specifying 18 per cent GST rate in the constitutional amendment bill and setting up a dispute resolution body. "Except for the 1 per cent additional tax for 2 years on inter-state transactions which was done to (help) the manufacturing states and that is something which I have already said I am open about, because the rest of the GST Bill were verbatim the same what the UPA had introduced. And therefore one has to analyse these afterthoughts (of Congress)," he told reporters at an event organised by Indian Women Press Corps. Jaitley said he hopes a consensus would emerge on these issues and he is in discussion with the political parties. "I certainly would be keeping the discussions with them on. I always said that my preference is that a consensus must emerge because all state governments across political complexion have to implement it and therefore consensus is the better way. And I do hope it moves in that direction. If consensus doesn't emerge, then the only other alternative is the Parliamentary process, we will ask the Rajya Sabha and take a view on it," he said. He said regional parties were making noises in favour of GST.
"So, whether it is SP or BSP in Uttar Pradesh, JD(U) or JD in Bihar, the Left in West Bengal and Kerala, the Trinamool in West Bengal, BJD., each one of the UPA partners from DMK to NCP is making strong noises in support." The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill, which has been approved by the Lok Sabha, is pending in the Rajya Sabha because of stiff resistance by the Congress, the largest party in the House. On the prospects of economic expansion, Jaitley said a number of factors including moderate oil prices, good monsoon and reduced stress in sectors like steel and highways could add to growth rate. "I would say if you look down the tunnel, moderate level of oil price, (good) monsoon and the consequential impact of reduced sectoral stress in steel, highways, sugar, and power and plausible impact over next few quarters over balance sheet of banks, these could add a positive and therefore can add to your present growth," he said. He said it may be difficult to get peak growth rate in the backdrop of global tailwinds such as slower global growth, shrinking international trade among others. "You get peak growth rates when global tailwinds are very strongly behind you when those tailwinds are not there on the contrary there are hostile headwinds from the world, then to touch those peak rates are extremely difficult," he said. Speaking on likely changes to tax treaty with Singapore, in line with the amendments done with Mauritius, Jaitley said "(Singapore) is a separate sovereign state, it (Mauritius treaty) does not ipso facto automatically extend. The principles will have to be applied, but applied through a process of renegotiation."
He did not specify any timeline for the renegotiation with Singapore. "I am not giving it a timeline, because if you recollect the renegotiation process of the Mauritius treaty started first in 1996 and then it continued till about 2002 and then there was a pause. Singapore was entered into in 2005 and one of the covenants of Singapore was provisions of what happens in Mauritius treaty would extend to it.since it's a discussion between two sovereign states, I cannot unilaterally fix its timetable. But sooner or later that process will commence and hopefully conclude," he said.

Govt Took Number of Initiatives to Minimize the Cost of Agricultural Production : AM

The first priority of the central government was to take up effective initiatives to fight the challenges prevailing in agricultural sector. These challenges have been bifurcated in two parts so as to work on them in mission mode. The govt has chalked out a plan to reduce the input cost in the agriculture sector and to provide farmers better return for their produce. Union Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister Radha Mohan Singh said that Hon'ble Prime Minister Narender Modi has taken the resolve to double the income of farmers. The govt is also giving priority to the enterprises linked to agricultural sector so as to achieve this target. Govt is taking a number of initiatives to minimize the cost of agricultural production. With this goal in mind, 14 crore farmers in the country are being given Soil Health Cards. Apart from this, Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana has been launched to promote organic farming. Neem Coated Urea, improved varieties of seeds and planting material, schemes like Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana have been introduced. Farmers are also being provided agricultural loans on concessional rate. The norms related to disaster relief have been altered to help the farmers affected by natural calamities so that they are compensated for the losses appropriately. The discrepancies existing in crop insurance schemes have been removed and a new scheme called Pradhan Mantri Fasal Beema Yojana has been launched.
The Govt has taken a historical initiative to provide farmers better return of their produce. The concept of one nation and one mandi - has been taken ahead. Hon'ble Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister said that long pending mandi/ marketing reforms process has been accelerated. The pilot project related to e-mandi has been launched in this financial year. Under this, 21 mandis of 8 states have been linked so far. The govt is continuously making efforts to bring uniformity in the rules and regulations pertaining to various mandis in various states. Most of the states have expressed willingness to participate in this project. As of now, proposals of 365 mandis in 12 states have been sanctioned. Ministry of Agriculture has set a target of establishing unified e-trading platform in 585 mandis throughout the country by 2018. The Minister has said that states are expected to rectify three rules and regulation related to mandis. One is to impart permission to e-trade, second is to implement mandi tariff on single window and third is to implement single licence across the state to carry out the trade. So far, 17 states have started working in this direction. The amendment of mandi related rules and regulations will pave way for achieving appropriate price of agricultural produce. To promote agricultural sector the govt has enhanced the allocation to this field from Rs. 15809 crore to Rs. 35984 crore which is more than as double. The govt has made an allocation of Rs. 9 lakh crore to provide farmers cheap and concessional loan while accelerating the inflow of agricultural credit. The govt has made provision for farmer credit cards as well as relaxation in payment of interests at the time of calamities.
Singh said that Hon'ble Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi has chalked out a target to double farmers incomes by 2022. The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare is making focused efforts in this direction. The govt is also imparting priority to the ancillary areas of agricultural sector. Under this, horticulture, livestock, dairy, beekeeping as well as poultry have been promoted. A new scheme called National AgroForestry has been initiated for planting trees over the meadows. The dairy and fisheries sectors have made greater strides in terms of growth and development. The govt has accelerated second green revolution in the North Eastern region to achieve food security in the country which will lead to enhancement in the agriculture productivity on the one hand and on the other will result in improvement of the farmers' economy in North Eastern region. A number of schemes have been launched to promote the production of pulses and oilseeds so that dependence on imports can be reduced. Initiative taken by Ministry of Agriculture to increase farmer incomes have begun to show results on ground. A number of important measures have been taken to preserve the agriculture and farmers from the adverse affect of climate change. A number of gao palan schemes have been commenced for for maintaining milk productivity. 35 projects have been approved in 29 states for this purpose.

Road Map Ready for 24X7 Affordable Environment Eriendly 'Power for All': Goyal

The last two years have seen rapid progress towards Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision of 24x7 affordable environment friendly 'Power for All' by 2022 - a mission we are working to achieve by 2019.
Scarcity to Surplus
In a significant transformation, India has become power surplus from chronic power shortage. Record capacity addition of around one-fifth of current conventional power capacity and solar power capacity addition of 157% in the last two years led to a boost in power generation. The highest-ever increase in transmission lines and sub-stations improved the transmission scenario resulting in energy deficit falling to lowest ever of 2.1% in 2015-16.
Critical Coal Situation Resolved
Today, not a single power plant faces shortage of coal as opposed to the impending power crisis in 2014 when two-thirds of major power plants had critical coal stocks of less than 7 days. Working on war footing our government completely eliminated coal shortage in the country. In line with achieving the target of doubling coal production to 100 crore tonnes by 2020, the last two years witnessed the highest ever growth in coal production of 7.4 crore tonnes.
Most comprehensive power sector reform ever
Our government focused on addressing the root problems of the power sector. UDAY (Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana) for improvement in financial and operational efficiencies of State Power Distribution Companies (DISCOMs), the weakest link in the power value chain, was launched in 2015. Every DISCOM is expected to eliminate losses by 2019-20 with potential savings of over Rs. 180,000 crore every year from 2019. UDAY was designed through extensive stakeholder consultations and has been a game changer for States. Despite being a voluntary scheme 18 States and 1 Union Territory across political and regional lines have signed agreements or agreed to join. UDAY bonds worth about Rs. 1 lakh crore were issued within three weeks.
Progress of Programmes
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Independence Day, 2015 promise of connecting the unconnected 18,452 un-electrified villages in 1,000 days is ahead of schedule with over 40% (7,779 remote villages) already electrified. India is headed for the top slot in the global LED market through UJALA (Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs for All) Yojana, which will replace 77 crore bulbs with energy efficient LED bulbs by 2019. Over 9 crore LED bulbs were distributed in 2015-16, about 150 times higher than 6 lakh in 2013-14.
Unprecedented Transparency
Due to widespread irregularities, the Supreme Court had cancelled 204 coal blocks in 2014. Through transparent e-auctions and allotment of just 74 coal blocks around Rs. 3.44 lakh crore potential revenues will accrue to coal bearing States over the life time of the mines. Again, by supplying gas through transparent e-auctions in 2015, nearly half of gas power plants were revived. Transparent procurement process reduced LED bulb prices by 83% in two years and Solar Tariffs reduced to one-fourth from 2010. DEEP (Discovery of Efficient Electricity Price) portal for compulsory purchase of short-term power through auctions by States.
Mobile Apps to Empower the Citizens
GARV (Grameen Vidyutikaran) app to help people track rural electrification and UJALA app to monitor LED distribution has brought accountability and transparency in these two programmes. Moreover, Vidyut Pravah app provides real time information of electricity price and availability. By filling the information gap, State governments have been made accountable.
World's Clean Energy Capital
India is running the world's largest renewable energy expansion programme with a target to increase overall renewable capacity by more than 5 times from 32,000 MW in 2014 to 1,75,000 MW in 2022. By taking a leadership role in the International Solar Alliance of 121 countries and organising RE-Invest 2015, the world's largest renewable financing meet, our government has laid the foundations for massive growth in this sector.
Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas
Our government is committed to the mantra of Sabka Saath Sabka Saath. Urban areas are being provided smart infrastructure through the Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS), while rural infrastructure is being improved through the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY) for Gramoday se Bharat Uday. The farmer has been additionally benefitted through the highest-ever distribution of solar pumps in 2015-16, greater than total solar pumps installed since launch of the scheme in 1991.

Committed to Employment, Wage and Social Security to Every Worker: Dattatreya

The Govts paramount priority is the Welfare of Workers and its endeavor is to achieve Employment Security, Wage Security and Social Security to every Worker especially the Unorganised workers who constitute 93% of our workforce. This was stated by Bandaru Dattatreya, the Union MoS (IC) for Labour and Employment while addressing a Press Conference. The Minister said that during the last two years for the benefit of work force the Govt has amended the Bonus Act increasing the eligibility limit from Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 21,000 and benefit ceiling from Rs. 3500 to Rs. 7000, Minimum Pension of Rs. 1000 per month in perpetuity which is benefiting more than 20 lakh pensioners. He said, the Govt has announced interest @ 8.8% to EPF subscribers for the year 2015-16 which is the highest rate of interest for any saving instrument in the country. Further, our Govt. on March, 29th, 2016 in a historic decision decided to credit interest to 9.23 Crore inoperative accounts of EPFO which was stopped by the UPA Govt in February, 2011. A new and pragmatic scheme has been launched for eliminating the social evil of Bonded Labour he added. He said, the Ministry have initiated process of reforming the archaic labour laws to create a conducive, cordial and harmonious environment in the country. Towards this Ministry is simplifying the 43 Labour Laws into 4 Labour Codes which aims to amalgamate and rationalize the provisions of these 43 Labour Laws : These are Labour Code on Wages, Labour Code on Industrial Relations, Labour Code on Social Security & Welfare and Labour Code on Safety & Working Conditions. To achieve this huge objective, tripartite consultations are held from time to time for consensus. Two of these codes have been finalized and necessary approvals are being sought, the Minister added.

Highest ever FDI inflow in 2015-16: Sitharaman

Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the Finance Ministry has been urged to take the step, while briefing the media on the achievements of her ministry, during the 2 years of the Modi govt's reign, she claimed a massive jump in foreign direct investment in the country as a feather in the govt's cap. Nirmala Sitharaman said in last 21 months FDI inflows have increased by 44% from US dollar 43.87 billion to 63.16 billion dollars. total FDI inflows during 2015-16 has been the highest ever in any financial year. The union minister highlighted various initiatives taken by NDA govt in last 2 years under the flagship start up India programme. She added that government has recommended to finance ministry to raise tax holiday for start-ups to 7 yrs from 3 yrs. A number of steps were taken for ease of doing business due to which india improved its ranking on world bank index. number of documents required for imports and exports have been reduced to just 3. India is also working improving trade relations with global trade partners. With EU negoication on FTA is on, FTAs are being lined with Isreal, Gulf Cooperation Council.Further, talking about the 'twitter sewa' launched by the ministry, she said stakeholders are using this facility and their queries have been resolved on time. Within one month, 98 per cent cases have been responded to, the minister said, adding that out of 750 queries raised, 735 have been cleared. Further, talking about the 'twitter sewa' launched by the ministry, she said stakeholders are using this facility and their queries have been resolved on time. The queries are filtered and sent to the minister apt to solve the issue and has received very positive reviews. Within one month, 98 percent cases have been responded to, the minister said, adding that out of 750 queries raised, 735 have been cleared. Where many startup founders see this as a good start, some thought that more is needed.

Sittings of Both the Houses and Legislative Work Increased : Naidu

Government expressed the hope that Parliament would continue to function effectively with growing demand from the people for the same as evident in recent social media campaigns. Speaking to media persons on the occasion of two years of the Govt in office, Minister of Parliamentary Affairs M.Venkaiah Naidu said "After some avoidable disruptions of Parliament and particularly, during the Monsoon and Winter sessions last year, both the Houses have evolved to a new equilibrium i.e balance. Opposition is raising some issues with all the might they can muster but legislative work is going on. I hope this balance will continue to stay in the days ahead". Naidu stated that during the last two years, number of sittings of both the Houses, Bills introduced and Bills passed by the Lok Sabha have increased in comparison to that of previous ten years. Referring to 44 Bills pending in Rajya Sabha, the Minister said that he would like to take up this matter with Chairman of Rajya Sabha and leaders of other parties so that there could be more synchrony in the transaction of legislative business by both the Houses. Elaborating on improvements over the last two years, Naidu said that 101 Bills were introduced in both the Houses of Parliament i.e 96 in Lok Sabha and 5 in Rajya Sabha. Lok Sabha passed 96 Bills @ 48 per year marking an improvement of 3 Bills per year over the previous ten years. Rajya Sabah cleared 83 Bills @ over 41 per year marking a decline of 4 Bills per year. Lok Sabha held a total of 149 sittings @ 75 per year while the Upper House held 143 sittings @ 71 marking an increase of 4 sittings per year in both cases over the previous ten years. "From now on, any disruptions and delaying tactics will invite a price. I am sure all political parties will read the writing on the wall and enable effective functioning of both the Houses of Parliament" said the Minister.

'Focus Over the Next 3 Yrs will be on Compliance of Laws': Javadekar

The Government has said that its focus over the next three years will be on compliance of rules and laws. Addressing a press conference on the new initiatives and efforts of the Govt over the last two years, MoS (IC) of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar, said that the highlights of the initiatives include - increase in forest cover, better pollution monitoring and control, 2000 approvals unlocking Rs. 10 lakh crore of investment and a job potential of 10 lakh, reducing project approval period from 600 to 190 days through standardization, decentralization, transparent processes and policy decisions and protecting India's interest at COP 21 in Paris. Emphasising the Govt's forest initiatives, Javadekar said that the policy for incentivizing tree cover outside forest, corridor protection, water and fodder augmentation in Protected Areas (PAs) and new schemes like urban forest and School Nursery are some of the efforts to increase forest cover. He said that the forest cover is about 21 per cent, but the target is 33 per cent, which will be possible only by increasing the tree cover outside forest area. The Minister said that special efforts are being made to avoid animal-human conflict. The filing of 6 patents by Institutes of Forest Research, 655 new flora discoveries and 115 new fauna discoveries were some of the other major initiatives on forest, Javadekar added. Recounting some of the initiatives on pollution, the Environment Minister underlined the adoption of a scientific formula to review Comprehensive Environment Pollution Index (CEPI) and re-categorisation of industries on the basis of pollution load. He said that his Ministry is promoting Ease of Doing Responsible Business. The Minister also pointed to the revamping of Waste Management Rules as another major initiative.

'States Urged to Exempt Pulses from VAT and Other Local Taxes : Paswan

Ram Vilas Paswan, Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution has urged the States to exempt pulses from VAT and other local taxes. It may help cool the prices of the pulses by 5% to 7%. Briefing the media about the deliberations and decisions taken in the States Food and Consumer Affairs meeting, Paswan said that State Food Minister's conference noticed that, the prices of the specified food items like pulses, sugar, edible oil seeds commodity shoot up abnormally due to hoarding, profiteering and cartelling by traders and middlemen- without any benefit to the farmers. It was pointed out that the traders hoard the stock of a commodity in a bordering State where stock limits are not imposed. Therefore, there is a need that all States & UTs impose and implement stock There should be a logical and scientific formula for stock limits separately in consuming states and surplus states limits and also for millers, producers and importers. so that supply chain mechanism remains smooth and pulses are available at reasonable prices. It was also recommended that importers of pulses should display stock position on public platforms such as portals of Ministry of Consumer Affairs or States Govt portals to bring in more transparency about availability of stock. It was strongly felt that Govt agencies should opt for long term supply contracts in place of tenders for time to time import of pulses for building up buffer stock. Regarding the prices of sugar, Paswan said that he has written to the chief Ministers of Maharashtra, UP, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu requesting them to keep a close watch on the release and stock held by sugar mills to ensure availability in the domestic market. He said that production linked export incentive scheme has been withdrawn midway to ensure adequate availability of the sugar in the domestic market. The states have been asked to implement stock limit effectively.

Science is Back on Track : Dr. Harsh Vardhan

Union Minister for Science & Technology Dr. Harsh Vardhan asserted that the Government has successfully mainstreamed science & technology for the growth and development of the country. Stating that India's challenges are many and solutions complex, the Minister said that ambitious plans have been made in many new areas and that the need of the hour is to move ahead and scale up. "We have moved from policy paralysis and worked with our brilliant scientific community to connect with our people and what India needs," the Minister said while addressing a National Video-link Press Conference from New Delhi, linking 13 cities including Mumbai and Pune. Asserting that "Science is back on track", Dr. Harsh Vardhan listed out key initiatives taken by his ministry in the fields of scientific weather forecasting, formulation of new vaccines, biotechnology, energy research and eco-system for innovation. The Minister said, at a time when we are witnessing climate change, a reliable and accurate forecasting system plays a vital role in the prevention and mitigation of natural hazards. "Our weather forecasting involves high-speed computing and mathematical modeling. We have become world-leaders in this area. Our Tsunami warning system is constantly being tested and will have the maximum possible warning period should there be another strike. Our fisher-folk are now better connected through an SMS warning system" he said. The Indian Tsunami Warning System, established at the Indian Centre for Ocean Information Services, Hyderabad has been recognized by the UNESCO as the Regional Tsunami Service Provider for the Indian Ocean region. Dr. Harsh Vardhan asserted that Science & Technology has positively impacted the lives of farmers too. He said currently, over 1.1 crore farmers were receiving crop specific agro-meteorological advisories in their respective languages under the Grameen Krishi Mausam Sewa.

Better LPG, kerosene targeting soon; to reduce subsidised consumers by another 2 -2.5 cr: Dharmendra Pradhan

After the success of the GiveItUp campaign that led to 1.01 crore LPG consumers voluntarily surrendering their subsidies, the government is now determined to take the process of limiting the sop to the really needy to its logical end. Petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan said on Tuesday that the plan was to reduce the number of subsidised LPG consumers by another 2-2.5 crore from 15.2 crore at present. With the policy that households with annual income above R10 lakh is ineligible for LPG subsidy, the government would identify such households still enjoying it by way of ascertaining the valuable physical assets in their possession, the minister said. He, however, said the income tax data might not be used for this purpose, as tax filings are "confidential" in nature. "We may look at physical assets of a consumer to determine if he belongs to the affluent class," the minister said at the Indian Express Group's Idea Exchange programme.
A major feat of the Narendra Modi government, Pradhan said, was that it added more than 3.7 crore new domestic LPG consumers in just two years to take their number to 16.7 crore. Millions of households, especially women who have been exposed to the smoke from chullahs fuelled by firewood/ dung, have been freed from the serious hazard, the minister said. In Budget 2016-17, finance minister Arun Jaitley promised to provide cooking gas to the poorest 50 million households over the next few years. Despite steps taken by the government to restrict LPG subsidy to the needy, the consumer base for cooking gas expanded by a solid 3.7 crore to 16.7crore in the two years of the Modi government, the fastest growth in at least the last couple of decades. Pradhan, also Rajya Sabha MP from Bihar, claimed that all parliamentarians have given up their cooking gas subsidy after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's appeal. He recalled Congress leaders such as Mallikarjun Kharge, AK Antony and Ashok Chavan telling him that they surrendered their subsidies soon after the PM's appeal. Interestingly, when the petroleum ministry carried out a survey of nearly 1 lakh LPG consumers residing in affluent areas such as South Mumbai, South Delhi, Salt Lake in Kolkata and a few areas in Chennai, it came to fore that just 3% of them have surrendered the cooking gas subsidy. "The government wants to give LPG subsidy to the poor. We will come out with a mechanism to stop giving subsidy to affluent households," the minister said. When the Modi government came to power in May 2014, there were about 17 crore domestic cooking gas consumers on the roll. After the launch of PAHAL or the direct benefit transfer of LPG (DBTL) scheme, nearly 3 crore duplicate/fake consumers were weeded out. Currently, there are 16.7 crore domestic consumers, of which 15.2 crore get the subsidy. Another 1.01 crore have voluntarily given up the subsidy, while 0.5 crore consumers did not link their bank account with the LPG connection, and virtually stopped getting subsidy.
Talking about pruning kerosene subsidy, Pradhan said that the government has asked the "states to put in place beneficiaries list" with a view to target the subsidy to those who need it for cooking/lighting. "We have asked the states to tell us who should get kerosene subsidy. They are also losing revenue. We are trying to make a gateway this financial year for targeted distribution of kerosene subsidy," the 46-year-old minister said. Nearly 30-40% of the subsidised kerosene is being black-marketed. The government had decided to provide a fixed subsidy of Rs 18 per kg under DBTL during April-October, which has been revised to Rs 15 per kg from November 2015 onwards. The average subsidy on domestic LPG reduced by about 63% to Rs 11.08 a kg in FY16 against Rs 29.63 per kg in FY15. This made the government revise the provision for LPG subsidy downwards by Rs 3 per kg. The benchmark Brent crude oil price fell nearly 44% to an average of $48.73 per barrel in FY16 against $86.60 per barrel in FY15.

Achievements/Initiatives of Ministry of Law & Justice

Union Law & Justice Minister D.V. Sadanada Gowda addressed the media here in New Delhi and gave an account of the achievements/initiatives of ministry his ministry in last two years. Following is the detail of his narrations:
Initiatives towards Ease of Doing Business
>> To ensure speedy and fair disposal of commercial disputes, a new Act namely, the Commercial Courts, Commercial Division and Commercial Appellate Division of High Courts Act 2015 has been enacted by Parliament. It is Government's endeavour to make India an investor friendly destination and enhance its ranking in Ease of Doing Business.
>> The Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 has been amended to make Arbitration as preferred mode for settlement of commercial disputes by making it more user-friendly, cost effective, leading to expeditious disposal of cases. This Bill was pending before the Government since 2003.
Initiatives towards better management of litigation
>> Draft National Litigation Policy is under formulation to make Government a responsible and efficient litigant. The Draft National Litigation Policy shall facilitate in bringing down unwarranted litigation.
>> For proper monitoring of the pending court cases of the entire Government of India, a web portal Legal Information and Management Based System (LIMBS) has been set up.
>> 19 Law Officers (including AG/SG) and 34 ASGs in High Courts have been appointed. Fresh panels of Counsels were approved for Supreme Court/ High Courts/ Central Administrative Tribunals/ Armed Forces Tribunal/ District Courts/ Armed Forces Tribunal.
>> Fee revision of Law Officers and Legal Counsels was upwardly revised to the extent of 50% from the rates existing prior to 1.10.2015.
Initiatives towards Minimum Government Maximum Governance
>> Four Acts have been enacted to repeal the obsolete and redundant laws. In total the aforesaid four enactments have repealed 1175 Acts. This exercise was taken up after 14 years, earlier being taken up only in the year 2001.
>> Major exercise for convergence of Tribunals to reduce the number of tribunals is being carried out. High level Inter-Ministerial Group has been constituted for consideration of the issue.
Initiatives towards digital India and e-Governance
>> A major change has been introduced to receive applications for appointment of Notaries online along with supporting documents w.e.f. 1.1.2016.
>> e-Governance and E-courts usage have started in Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) leading to faster disposal of cases with less hassles to litigants.
>> Digitisation work of Appeals has been undertaken in ITAT. Once the digitisation work is complete, all the appellate records shall be accessible from any station and any appeal can be taken by e-court in any location.
>> Web portal named LIMBS has been introduced for Centrally monitoring cases of UoI pending in various courts and Tribunals.
Initiatives towards Computerisation of Courts
>> eCourts Mission Mode Project has been taken up for universal computerization of district and subordinate courts with an objective of providing designated services to litigants, lawyers and the judiciary.
>> During the first two years of NDA rule i.e. 2014-15 and 2015-16, Rs.212.23 cr were released to various States for eCourts projects against Rs.122.41cr released during UPA-II rule for the years 2012-13 and 2013-14, thus, registering an increase of 73.4%.
>> eCourts Phase-II projects aims at automation of workflow management, enabling the courts to exercise greater control in management of cases. This will also include installation of touch screen based kiosks, use of e-filing, e-payment and mobile applications and composite set of services through Judicial Service centres.
>> Case status information in respect of over 6.11 crore pending, decided cases and more than 2.4 crore orders/judgements pertaining to District and Subordinate Courts are available online.
>> Over 4000 court officials and 14000 Judicial Officers have been trained on computerization of Judiciary. Laptops have been provided to 14,309 judicial officers.

1.04 cr people skilled in 2015-16 under Skill India Mission: Rudy

On the occasion of completion of two years of inclusive growth and development under the NDA government, Union Minister of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (Independent Charge) and Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Pratap Rudy here today said that more than 1.04 Crore youth have been trained under the Skill India Mission in the year 2015-16 which is 36.8% higher than the previous year's recorded data. In the current arrangement, 60 percent of the trainings are directly under Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship while 40 percent are across other Central Ministries. The Minister said that Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY), which was launched on July 15, 2015 by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, alone has witnessed more than 20 lakh people, of which 40 per cent are women candidates, being trained in their choice of skills. Rudy further elaborated on the endeavors and achievements made under the Skill India programme saying that in the last two years, the skill training and development ecosystem has seen transformational change through concerted efforts in terms of initiatives such as PMKVY, new ITIs with private/ industry partnership, infusion of new ideas and finance through World Bank assistance, a paradigm shift in entrepreneurship education and development, amendments in Apprenticeship Act for increasing opportunities for the youth etc. He said, together, these have for the first time, brought in a new focus to skill development in the country.
The Minister said, at another level, there has been a consistent effort on coordination and convergence of innumerable schemes run by various Ministries and Departments across sectors and States, so as to bring them in conformity with the national standards, common norms and local requirements. He said, a slew of policy level changes have been introduced with the launch of National Skill Development Policy and Mission as well. Today, Rudy said there are more than 1500 courses that have been aligned to National Skill Qualification Framework (NSQF). Emphasizing the need to have better connect of skills with employability, Rudy mentioned that provision of a skilled workforce is a pre-requisite for a growing economy and success of various other initiative of the government such as Make in India, Digital India, Smart Cities, rapid highway constructions etc. and his ministry will ensure endeavors in this direction. He said, there have been MoUs with Central Ministries (including Railways, Defence, Health, Telecom, Power, Coal) to leverage existing infrastructure and opportunities for skill development across sectors. He said, 52 Skill Centres in Railway premises have been identified so far, of which 12 are already operational.
The Ministry has also created a new model for skilling of retiring defence personnel to meet the trainers demand in the ecosystem and has successfully completed a pilot with 56 IAF officers and provided them with training and placement letters. Listing the achievements further made in the last two years, Rudy said, the number of ITIs in the country has increased from 10,750 in May 2014 to over 13,105 in May 2016 and these will be further scale up to 18000 by September this year. More than 1141 new ITIs have been added and 1.73 seats have been increased in the last one year. MSDE has also enabled the opening up of 5 new RVTIs for women in skill development. The Minister stated that the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship is aiming extensive modernization of the existing ITI ecosystem and establishment of new ITIs and Multi Skill Training Institutes (MSTIs), so that more and more people get skills of recognized standards which will help them become more employable for the industries. The MSTIs will be set up in the unserved areas/blocks to improve the outreach of the Skill India initiative. He also said that his Ministry is working towards the establishment of one Model Skill Center in each district of the country, which would be operational in more than 500 districts by March 2017. These will be high quality centers which will help make skill development aspirational and accessible. In the private skill ecosystem catalyzed by National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), 11 new Sector Skill Councils have been added making it to 40 sectors now and an additional 151 training partners have joined the ecosystem making the total to 267 partners.
By Economy India Bureau