Read about the record production of Urea by India, the 100% FDI in e-commerce market place, the new nuclear security measures announced by PM Modi and more …
1) Urea output hits record 245 lakh tonne in 2015-16:
- India produced a record 24.5 million tonnes of urea in 2015-16, the highest ever quantity of the commonly used fertilizer, chemicals and fertilisers minister Ananth Kumar said.
- Production of urea is 2 million tonnes more than the year before, and together with timely imports this has ensured adequate availability of the fertiliser across the country, the minister said. He added that higher domestic production has led to lower imports.
- The increased production is equivalent to the production capacity of almost two new urea plants without any additional investment, Kumar said, adding, the new urea policy implemented since last year and a reform-oriented action plan of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government helped in this success.
- The minister further said the mandatory neem coating of urea has ensured that the subsidised fertilizer cannot be diverted for industrial use. “Neem coated urea also has the benefit of slow release of nitrogen and hence its consumption is less compared to un-coated urea,” the minister said.
- India imports nearly a quarter of its domestic demand every year. While the country needs 30 million tonnes of urea, production was stagnant at around 22 million.
- While neem coating of urea is likely to reduce use of the chemical fertiliser by farmers, the government has also launched a soil health card scheme to promote balanced use of fertilisers in 2014.
2) Government permits 100% FDI in e-commerce market places, but with riders.
- The government on Tuesday clarified that 100 per cent foreign direct investment (FDI) is allowed in online marketplaces, a move that will ostensibly come as a relief to ecommerce companies such as Flipkart, Amazon India and Snapdeal but the conditions imposed have been hailed as a victory by their brick-and-mortar rivals.
- Critically, a clause bars marketplaces from offering discounts on their own — these have to come from the vendors on the platforms — and the policy also seeks to end “predatory pricing” by online companies.
- Overseas investment will be automatically permitted subject to certain riders such as the above, the government said in a press note, clearly defining ‘marketplace’.
- This ends the uncertainty over the business model being used by India’s biggest online retailers hich has been challenged in court by brick-and-mortar stores. The FDI policy had previously left the term undefined.
- Flipkart, Snapdeal, Amazon and others running online marketplaces are not only barred from giving discounts directly according to new rules but they may not be able to offer promotional programmes such as cash-back offers to lure shoppers either.
- These incentives go against the intent of the policy aimed at curtailing any direct transaction between the marketplace and the consumer, a senior government official said, while acknowledging that cash-back incentives don’t influence the price of goods or services.
- The government wants e-tailers to have the same level of disengagement as in the case of a physical marketplace, such as a mall, where the operator has no interaction with the consumer.
3) PM Modi meets Japanese PM Shinzo Abe in Washington:
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi held bilateral talks with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit here in Washington D.C.
- This meeting concluded the Prime Minister’s two-day trip to Washington following which he will depart for Saudi Arabia in the final leg of his three nation tour.
- Earlier in the day, he called on his British and Canadian counterparts David Cameron and Justin Trudeau respectively, reaffirming bilateral ties with the nations.
- Prime Minister Modi also met with the President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev and Switzerland President Johann Schneider-Ammann.
- During his two day visit to Saudi Arabia, the Prime Minister aims to revive India’s strategic partnership with the oil-rich nation, particularly in areas of counter-terrorism, energy and trade.
- He is also expected to hold bilateral talks with King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud on issues including ways to step up existing counter-terrorism mechanisms. (ANI)
4) Rs 3,750 crore from German bank for Nagpur Metro plan-
- GERMAN Bank KFW has given Rs 3,750 crore under its official development assistance (ODA) plus programme to the Nagpur Metro project. An agreement to the effect was signed between Nagpur Metro and KFW in New Delhi on Friday.
- A government press note has said that the ODA plus assistance has been made available for the first time anywhere in the country for basic infrastructural project. It is generally given for educational and health projects.
- The loan will be repaid in 20 years, with first five years being of only of interest payment, the press note adds.
- “This aid will help fast-track the project,” Nagpur Metro Managing Director Brijesh Dixit said, Nagpur Metro is the first green metro project in the country where two-thirds of the power will be generated through solar panels.
- “The Rs 8,600 crore project is hoping to get the remaining funds from French agency AFD and an agreement is in the pipeline. We are hoping to seal it soon,” Dixit told The Indian Express.
5) Modi announces key nuclear security measures:
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced several key initiatives taken by his government in the area of nuclear security and non-proliferation, including countering nuclear smuggling and deployment of technology to deter nuclear terrorism.
- The announcements were made by Mr. Modi during the second and final day of the Nuclear Security Summit, which was attended by leaders from more than 50 countries.
- Informing the world leaders of measures taken by him, Mr. Modi said India will continue to accord a high national priority to nuclear security through strong institutional framework, independent regulatory agency and trained and specialized manpower.
- The plan includes development and deployment of technology to deter and defend against nuclear terrorism.
- These include physical and cyber barriers, technological approaches, setting up a facility for medical grade ‘Moly-99’ using low enriched Uranium and using vitrified forms of vulnerable radioisotopes such as Ceasium-137, the national plan says.
- India will counter nuclear smuggling and strengthen the national detection architecture for nuclear and radioactive material, he said, adding that a dedicated counter-nuclear smuggling team has been set up.
- Further, India will support IAEA’s central role in nuclear security by a further contribution of USD1 million to the nuclear security fund. A workshop with IAEA experts on International Physical Protection Assessment Service (IPPAS) will also be held in India.