Economy News-Daily Digest: 6 Key Updates
1. PM Modi announces Diwali gift: Pay hike for 24 lakh frontline health workers
Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a hike in the monthly honorarium of Acredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) and Anganwadi workers. There are over 24 lakh of them, mainly women, who attend to health and nutrition needs of mostly women and children.
The minimum money an ASHA worker makes every month has been raised from Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,000.
Anganwadis who now draw an honorarium of Rs 3,000 will get Rs 4,500, and those who get Rs 2,200 will get Rs 3,500.
The monthly honorarium of Anganwadi helpers will go up from Rs 1,500 to Rs 2,500.
The revision will come into effect from October 1.
All Asha workers will also be brought under the coverage of various social security schemes and will get Rs 2-lakh free insurance cover under Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana and Prime Minister Suraksha Bima Yojana.
BJP president Amit Shah and RSS affiliated trade union Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) applauded Prime Minister’s announcement on the long pending demand.
Monthly remuneration is shared between the Centre and states in a 60:40 ratio, as is the norm for all payments under the National Health Mission. The expenditure incurred by the Centre for the salary component of 10.22 lakh Ashas is Rs 800 crore. For states, the expense comes to approximately Rs 533 crore.
Anganwadi workers fall under the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) programme administered by the Women and Child Development (WCD) Ministry. The WCD Ministry’s rough estimates suggest that the Centre will pick up the tab of Rs 3,000 crore for the enhanced payments to Anganwadi workers. For states, at the same 60:40 ratio, the annual increase in expenditure will be an estimated Rs 2,000 crore, the ministry has calculated.
As for the premium for the two insurance programmes, these will be paid entirely by the Centre.
The annual premium for Suraksha Bima Yojana is Rs 330 and that for PM Jeevan Jyoti Yojana is Rs 12.
2. Cabinet approves MoU on Collaborative Research on Distributed Ledger and Block Chain Technology in the context of Development of digital economy by Exim Bank under BRICS Interbank Cooperation Mechanism
The Union Cabinet has given its ex-post facto approval for the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Collaborative Research on Distributed Ledger and Block chain Technology in the context of Development of digital economy by Export-Import Bank of India (Exim Bank) with the participating member banks, under the BRICS Interbank Cooperation Mechanism namely Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Economico e Social (BNDES, of Brazil), China Development Bank (CDB), State Corporation Bank for Development and Foreign Economic Affairs (Vnesheconombank, of Russia) and Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA).
Distributed Ledger/Block chain technology holds potential for solutions to various challenges being faced in the financial sector space of the BRICS nations. The MoU intends to enhance understanding of Distributed Ledger/Block Chain technology, through the joint research efforts to identify areas within respective business operations where it may have the potential for applications aimed at enhancing the operational efficiencies.
The Xiamen Declaration signed in China on digital economy by the BRICS leaders had highlighted the importance of the digital economy and how the BRICS nations could leverage the thriving and dynamic digital economy that will foster global economic development and benefit everyone. Accordingly, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Collaborative Research on Distributed Ledger and Block chain Technology in the Context of the Development of the Digital Economy was suggested to be inked by all member banks.
3. Government clears 100% Railways electrification
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved 100 per cent electrification of the Indian Railways, tentatively by 2021-22.
This will make Indian Railways one of the largest electrified railway networks in the world — after China, which has 87,000 km (around 68 per cent of its network) electrified — and the only large railway with 100 per cent electrification. Currently, around 48 per cent of the country’s 61,680 km broad gauge railway network is electrified. These are mostly traffic-intensive routes, signifying healthy return on investments.
4. India’s first missile tracking ship is readying for sea trials
Hindustan Shipyard Limited (HSL) is gearing up to undertake sea trials of India’s first missile tracking ship, VC 11184, by the first week of October.
The keel of the ship, which was laid on June 30, 2014, is being built for the National Technical Research Organisation, the technical intelligence agency working directly under the supervision of the Prime Minister’s Office and the National Security Adviser.
Considered a “topmost secret project”, a lot of confidentiality is being maintained in executing the project costing about ₹750 crore. It will be named after its induction into the Indian Navy. For now, it is simply referred as VC 11184.
This will be the first of its kind ocean surveillance ship being built as part of the efforts under the government to strengthen the country’s strategic weapons programme.
5. NITI Aayog, Intel and TIFR collaborate to set up a Model International Center for Transformative AI (ICTAI)
NITI Aayog, Intel, and Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) are collaborating to set up a Model International Center for Transformative Artificial Intelligence (ICTAI) towards developing and deploying AI-led application-based research projects. This initiative is part of NITI Aayog’s ‘National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence’ Discussion Paper that focuses on establishing ICTAI in the country through private sector collaboration.
Based in Bengaluru, the Model ICTAI aims to conduct advanced research to incubate AI-led solutions in three important areas – healthcare, agriculture and smart mobility – by bringing together the expertise of Intel and TIFR. It aims to experiment, discover and establish best practices in the domains of ICTAI governance, fundamental research, physical infrastructure, compute and service infrastructure needs, and talent acquisition.
Through this collaborative effort, the model ICTAI is chartered to develop AI foundational frameworks, tools and assets, including curated datasets and unique AI algorithms. The intent is to develop standards and support policy development related to information technology such as data-storage, information security, privacy, and ethics for data capture and use. The model Centre also plans to develop AI foundational technologies to promote applied research that can scale for national impact and will lead to the creation of a vibrant and self-sustaining ecosystem.
6. BEML launches ‘Made in India’ Electric Dump Truck
BEML Limited, a defence public sector company, has launched an indigenously designed and developed country’s first 205T Electric Drive Rear Dump Truck (Model BH205-E), with an objective of strengthening the ‘Make in India’ initiative.
This new rear dump truck is expected to address the growing demand for higher capacity equipment in the mining industry. BH205E, electric drive rear dump truck for large scale mining operations, is powered by Tier -II emission compliant Modular Common Rail Electronic Engine with 2300 HP. The AC drive system has been engineered to provide exceptional haul road performance with reduced maintenance.
The Dump Truck is environmental friendly in relation to mechanical drive due to its superior efficiency. State of the art AC drive system has been engineered for best in class efficiency and reliability. Consumption of transmission oil, final drive and brake cooling oil are eliminated reducing the environmental impact over its life cycle.
The dump truck weighs 335 tons when fully loaded but is easily maneuverable with power-steering and short turning radius.
Other salient features of the truck include good visibility in addition to safety features with provisions for emergency steering, breaking and proximity warning.