30th Oct, 2020

Major Global energy companies ask Indian Government to bring natural gas under the GST regime 

Major Global energy companies have called on the Government of India to bring natural gas under the GST regime at the India energy Forum held recently.

Currently petrol, diesel, aviation turbine fuel, natural gas and crude oil fall outside India’s GST regime.

Government officials have also indicated that the government is considering bringing natural gas under the ambit of the GST regime.

Benefits of bringing Natural gas under GST:

It would lead to a reduction in the cascading impact of taxes on industries such as power and steel, which use natural gas as an input.

It would do away with the central excise duty and different value added taxes imposed by states.

This would lead to an increase in the adoption of natural gas which would be in line with the government’s goal to increase the share of natural gas in the country’s energy basket from 6.3% to 15%. 

Guidelines unveiled for Awarding Bodies and Assessment Agencies under Skill India Mission

Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE) in collaboration with their unified regulator— National Council for Vocational Education and Training (NCVET) unveiled guidelines for the Awarding Bodies (AB) and Assessment Agencies (AA) over a digital conference. 

The guidelines aim at establishing quality, improved outcomes and standardizing the processes under Skill India Mission.

Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) was formed on November 9, 2014 by the Government of India to focus on enhancing employability of skills.

Under its flagship programme, Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) 2016-2020, the Ministry has trained more than 92 lakh candidates so far.

The National Council for Vocational Education and Training (NCVET) was notified by the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) on 5th December 2018. 

The NCVET acts as an overarching skills regulator which regulates the functioning of entities engaged in vocational education and training.

CCEA approves Mandatory Packaging In Jute Materials

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved that 100% of the food-grains and 20% of the sugar shall be mandatorily packed in diversified jute bags.

The decision also mandates that initially 10% of jute bags for packing food grains would be placed through reverse auction on the Gem portal.

The Government has expanded the scope of mandatory packaging norms under the Jute Packaging Material (JPM) Act, 1987.

The approval will benefit farmers and workers located in the Eastern and North Eastern regions of the country particularly in West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha, Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Meghalaya and Tripura.

Other Support provided to the Jute Sector

The National Jute Board has collaborated with National Institute of Design and a Jute Design Cell has been opened at Gandhinagar.

In order to boost demand in the jute sector, Government of India has imposed Definitive Anti-Dumping Duty on import of jute goods from Bangladesh and Nepal with effect from 5th January, 2017.

In order to promote transparency in jute sector, Jute SMART, an e-govt initiative was launched in December, 2016 which provides an integrated platform for procurement of Jute sacking by Government agencies.


Jute is a rainy season crop.

Jute requires a warm and humid climate with temperature between 24° C to 37° C.  

Constant rain or water-logging is harmful.  

The new gray alluvial soil of good depth, receiving salt from annual floods, is best for jute.

Jute is harvested any time between 120 days to 150 days when the flowers have been shed, early harvesting gives good healthy fibers.

The jute plant’s fibres lie beneath the bark and surrounded the woody central part of the stem.  

To extract the fibres from the stem, the process is carried out in the following stages :

Dam Rehabilitation And Improvement Project (DRIP) approved

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved the Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP) Phase II & Phase III with the financial assistance of the World Bank (WB) and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

Objective: To improve the safety and operational performance of selected dams across the whole country, along with institutional strengthening. 

The Scheme envisions comprehensive rehabilitation of 736 existing dams located across India. 

The Project will be implemented over a period of 10 years duration in two Phases. 

DRIP Phase II & Phase III has following components:

(1) Rehabilitation and improvement of dams and associated appurtenances;

(2) Dam safety institutional strengthening in participating States and Central agencies;

(3) Exploration of alternative incidental means to generate the incidental revenue for sustainable operation and maintenance of dams;

(4) Project management.

Meri Saheli launched

Indian Railways has launched “Meri Saheli” initiative for focused action on security of women across all zones. 

Objective: To provide safety and security to lady passengers travelling by trains for their entire journey from starting station to destination station.

It is an initiative of Railway Protection Force (RPF). 

It entails interaction with lady passengers especially those travelling alone by a team of young lady RPF personnel at the originating station.

These lady passengers are briefed about all precautions to be taken during the journey and told to dial 182 in case they face or see any problem in the coach.

The platform duty RPF personnel at the stopping stations en-route keep unobtrusive watch over the concerned coaches and berths and if need arises, interact with the lady passengers.

The “Meri Saheli” initiative was started as a pilot project in South Eastern Railway in September 2020 and after getting encouraging response from lady passengers, it was extended to all zones

SERB – Power scheme for women scientists

A Scheme titled “SERB-POWER (Promoting Opportunities for Women in Exploratory Research)” was recently launched exclusively for women scientists.

Ministry: Ministry of Science & Technology

Launched by: The Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB), a Statutory body of the Department of Science and Technology (DST)

Objective: To mitigate gender disparity in science and engineering research in various S&T programs.

It will have two components namely:

(1) SERB-POWER Fellowship;

(2) SERB- POWER Research Grants.

Features of the SERB-POWER Fellowship

Target: Women researchers in 35-55 years of age. Up-to 25 Fellowships per year and not more than 75 at any point in time.

Components of support: Fellowship of Rs. 15,000/- per month in addition to regular income; Research grant of Rs. 10 lakh per annum; and Overhead of Rs. 90,000/- per annum.

Duration: Three years, without the possibility of extension. Once in a career.

Features of the SERB – POWER Research Grants

POWER Grants will empower women researchers by funding them under following two categories:

(1) Level I (Applicants from IITs, IISERs, IISc, NITs, Central Universities, and National Labs of Central Government Institutions): The scale of funding is up to 60 lakhs for three years;

(2) Level II (Applicants from State Universities / Colleges and Private Academic Institutions):

The scale of funding is up to 30 lakhs for three years.

POWER Grant will be regulated through terms of reference conforming to SERB-CRG (Science and Engineering Research Board-Core Research Grant) guidelines.

PLI Schemes For Promoting Domestic Manufacturing Of Bulk Drugs & Medical Devices revised

Chemicals and Fertilizers Ministry has revised the Production Linked Incentive Schemes for promoting domestic manufacturing of bulk drugs and medical devices.

In the revised guidelines, the ‘Minimum Threshold’ investment requirement has been replaced by ‘committed investment’ taking into account availability of technology choices which varies from product to product.

The change has been made to encourage efficient use of productive capital.

The Department of Pharmaceuticals earlier come out with the two Production Linked Incentive Schemes:

(1) Production Linked Incentive scheme for promotion of domestic manufacturing of critical Key Starting Materials, Drug Intermediates and Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients in India;

(2) Production Linked Incentive Scheme for Promoting Domestic Manufacturing of Medical Devices.

Globally, the Indian pharmaceutical industry is the third largest in terms of volume.