US President Barack Obama calls up the PM




US President Barack Obama calls up the PM; thanks for his positive role and leadership in the successful outcome of COP 21


The US President, Mr. Barack Obama has thanked Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi for his positive role and leadership in the successful outcome of COP 21. In a telephonic call to the Prime Minister today, he said India played a critical role in making Climate Change Paris Summit an historic success.

The Prime Minister shared with President Obama the concerns of the Indian IT industry and professionals on the proposed legislation in the U.S. Congress relating to H1B and L1 visas. 

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Madhuri Bose, Chandra Bose call on PM


The grand-niece and grand-nephew of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Ms. Madhuri Bose and Shri Chandra Bose, called on the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi today.

Ms. Madhuri Bose presented a copy of her book “The Bose Brothers and Indian Independence – An Insider’s Account” to the Prime Minister.

Shri Vivek Mehra, from Sage Publications, the publishers of the book, was also present. 
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PM salutes the courage and indomitable spirit of Indian Armed Forces, on Vijay Diwas


The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has saluted the courage and indomitable spirit of Indian Armed Forces, on Vijay Diwas.

"Today, on Vijay Diwas we salute the courage and indomitable spirit of our armed forces. Their service to India is unparalleled", the Prime Minister said.
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Model Text for the Indian Bilateral Investment Treaty 



The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for the revised Model Text for the Indian Bilateral Investment Treaty. The revised Indian model text for Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) will replace the existing Indian Model BIT.  The revised model BIT will be used for re-negotiation of existing BITs and negotiation of future BITs and investment chapters in Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreements (CECAs)/ Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreements (CEPAs) / Free Trade Agreements (FTAs).

The new Indian Model BIT text will provide appropriate protection to foreign investors in India and Indian investors in the foreign country, in the light of relevant international precedents and practices, while maintaining a balance between the investor's rights and the Government obligations.

A BIT increases the comfort level and boosts the confidence of investors by assuring a level playing field and non-discrimination in all matters while providing for an independent forum for dispute settlement by arbitration. In turn, BITs help project India as a preferred foreign direct investment (FDI) destination as well as protect outbound Indian FDI.

The essential features of the model BIT include an "enterprise" based definition of investment, non-discriminatory treatment through due process, national treatment, protections against expropriation, a refined Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provision requiring investors to exhaust local remedies before commencing international arbitration, and limiting the power of the tribunal to awarding monetary compensation alone. The model excludes matters such as government procurement, taxation, subsidies, compulsory licenses and national security to preserve the regulatory authority for the Government.


Background

The first BIT was signed by India on March 14, 1994. Since then, till date, the Government of India has signed BITs with 83 countries. These BITs were largely negotiated on the basis of the Indian Model BIT of 1993.

Considerable socio-economic changes have taken place since 1993 when the Model text of BIT was first approved. The nature of government regulation concerning foreign investment has evolved. A wide variety of laws now regulate investments both at the central and the state levels. During the last few years, significant changes have occurred globally regarding BITs, in general, and investor-state dispute resolution mechanism in particular.
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Approval for sale of plot of land of Air India located at Pankaja Mills Road, Coimbatore 
The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for sale of plot measuring 0.99 acres belonging to Air India located at Pankaja Mills Road, Coimbatore for a consideration of Rs.19.81 crore.

Background:

Air India has decided to sell its plot of land at Pankaja Mills Road, Coimbatore, measuring about one acre to National Building Construction Corporation Ltd. (NBCC) at a consideration of Rs.19.81 crore. The sale process was undertaken by way of e-tender through M/s Metal and Scrap Trading Corporation (MSTC).

As Air India was incurring losses for several years, it was decided by the Government that in order to augment its non-tax revenues, Air India should monetize by way of sale/ lease/joint venture its immovable properties which are lying unutilized. As a part of this exercise this plot of land is being sold to NBCC. 
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Memorandum of Understanding between India and Spain on cooperation in Port matters 
The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Spain on cooperation in Port matters.

Recognizing the significant mutual benefit that can be derived from cooperation in the port matters between the two countries, it has been decided to sign the Agreement with a view to strengthening cooperation and to render sustained mutual assistance and advice on port matters and other related maritime matters.

Signing of the MoU will help both countries in encouraging and facilitating the development of Ports and provide a cooperation platform for enhancing and stimulating steady growth of maritime traffic, exchange and training of staff and students from various maritime establishments, exchange of information necessary for accelerating and facilitating the flow of commercial goods at sea and at ports, establishment of joint ventures in the fields of port led development, port efficiency, modernization of existing ports, dredging, particularly maintenance dredging in riverine ports, environment and green port intiative, port engineering, maritime training, information technology including development of simulators, port facilities and related maritime activities, etc.

The MoU would be signed on a mutually convenient date and venue. 
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Policy framework for development of Underground Coal Gasification in coal and lignite bearing areas in India 
The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has approved a policy framework for development of Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) in coal and lignite bearing areas in the country. UCG is a method of extraction of energy from coal/lignite resources which are otherwise regarded as uneconomical to work through conventional mining methods.

A policy on the lines broadly similar to the existing policy for Coal Bed Methane (CBM) development on revenue sharing basis will be adopted for offering the blocks through competitive bidding.

Development of UCG is envisaged to provide for energy security. An Inter-Ministerial Committee under the Ministry of Coal with members from concerned Ministries will be responsible for identification of the areas, deciding about blocks to be put to bidding or awarding them to PSUs on nomination basis.

Ministry of Coal may engage a consultant for development of the contract document. For development of bid documents, work programme, conducting the bidding process, evaluation of bids, monitoring and process protocols etc., Central Mine Planning and Design Institute Limited (CMPDIL) will be the nodal agency.

In the perspective of next two years some explored blocks will be identified for offer. Subsequently, additional blocks will be identified for offer in the long term. 
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Memorandum of Understanding in energy saving and energy efficiency among BRICS countries 



The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has given its ex-post facto approval to an MoU signed between India and its BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) counterparts for strengthening and further developing of energy saving and energy efficiency cooperation based on the principles of equality and mutual benefit.

The MoU provides the following areas of cooperation in the field of Energy Savings and Energy Efficiency:

•     Joint scientific and technological research,
•     Conferencing and holding of lectures and seminars;
•     Capacity building and technology transfer;
•     Technology development, sharing policies and best practices;
•     Encouragement of use of energy efficient and energy saving approaches and instruments in the work of the business entities of the BRICS countries, carried out within the BRICS countries in Consultation with the host country.

Under the present MoU, the BRICS countries intend to examine the practicability of development of the comprehensive programme of cooperation in energy saving and energy efficiency promotion including specific common projects, applicable methods and instruments of energy saving promotion and energy efficiency increase in their economies.
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Amendments in the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950 so as to modify the list of Scheduled Castes in respect of Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Kerala, Odisha and West Bengal and in the Central List of Other Backward Classes of Chhattisgarh, Haryana and Kerala 

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for introduction of a Bill in the Parliament for certain amendments in the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950 so as to modify the list of Scheduled Castes in respect of five States namely Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Kerala, Odisha and West Bengal and in the Central List of Other Backward Classes of the States of Chhattisgarh, Haryana and Kerala consequent upon inclusion of certain castes or parts thereof in the lists of Scheduled Castes.

The following castes/ communities, as per approved modalities, were found to be eligible for their inclusion in, exclusion from and other modifications in the list of Scheduled Castes:-

S.No.

State

Inclusion/ Exclusion/Other modification
Community

1

Chhattisgarh

Inclusion

(i) Sais, Sahis, Sarathi, Soot-Sarathi, Thanwar

2

Haryana

-do-

(ii) Aheria, Aheri, Hari, Heri, Thori, Turi







(iii) Rai Sikh

3

Kerala

Modification in the area of specification

(iv)Malayan





Inclusion

(v)Peruvannan

4

Odisha

Exclusion

(vi) Bariki







(vii)Kummari
5

West Bengal

Removal of area restriction

(viii) Chain


After the Bill becomes an Act, members of the communities included in the list of Scheduled Castes will be able to derive benefits meant for Scheduled Castes under the existing schemes. Some of the major schemes of this kind include Post Matric Scholarship, National Overseas Scholarship, Rajiv Gandhi National Fellowship, Top Class Education, Concessional Loans from National Scheduled Castes Finance and Development Corporation, Hostels for SC boys and girls etc. In addition to above, they will also be entitled to the benefits of reservation in services and admission to educational institutions.

Background:

The Constitution of India provides certain privileges / concessions to the members of Scheduled Castes which are notified under the provisions of Article 341 of the Constitution of India. First list of Scheduled Castes in relation to a State or Union Territory is to be issued by a notified Order of the President after having consultation with the State Government concerned. Any subsequent inclusion in or exclusion from the list of Scheduled Castes can be effected through an Act of Parliament as envisaged under clause (2) of Article 341.

Six Presidential Orders were issued between 1950 and 1978 for specifying Scheduled Castes in respect of various States/Union territories. These Orders have been amended from time to time by Acts of Parliament enacted as per Article 341(2) of the Constitution between 1956 and 2015.

The Government approved Modalities in June 1999, as amended in June 2002, for considering proposals in regard to modifications in the lists of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. According to the approved Modalities, amending legislation to the concerned Constitution Order is proposed only in respect of such proposals of the concerned State Government/Union Territory Administration, which have been agreed to both by the Registrar General of India (RGI) as well as the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC).
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Consortium Agreement for Core Partnership on Unified Model Earth System Modelling for Seamless Prediction of Weather and Climate 
The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has approved the signing of the Consortium Agreement by the Earth System Science Organization-Ministry of Earth Sciences (ESSO-MoES) with the U. K. Met Office (UKMO), Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA) and the Commonwealth of Australia through its Bureau of Meteorology and the Commonwealth Scientific Industrial and Research Organisation (CSIRO) for a coordinated effort in the development of a state-of-art Unified Model (UM) Earth System Model for the seamless prediction of weather and climate from days to season.

MoES will make an annual member contribution of £100,000 (One Hundred Thousand Pounds Sterling) to the Unified Model Consortium.  Indian scientific and academic community will benefit from this MoU as it is an enabling mechanism to jointly work on scientific challenges in the field of earth system modelling and weather and climate prediction.

The MoU will allow the exchange of scientific resources as well as knowledge to support the improvement and development of earth system modelling for weather and climate prediction over Indian monsoon region in particular.

The MOU is likely to be signed in January 2016 enabling India to become the fourth core UM partner through ESSO-NCMRWF and contribute to the UM technical and scientific development.  Under the agreement, core partners will work under a common governance structure, decide on strategy for planning, designing of joint development programs with prioritized tasks and mobilization of resources.


The details of the MoU are:

·        ESSO-MoES provides weather and climate forecasts in various spatial and temporal scales. In order to enhance its capability for improved forecast having larger societal relevance, research and development in frontier areas like monsoon understanding and prediction, water cycle and climate change and in view of the complexities involved in the above fields, ESSO-MoES regularly engages with various international organizations for collaborative research activities which are mutually beneficial.

·        The Unified Model consortium which comprises of the UKMO, KMA and CSIRO have common interests in meteorology and related sciences and recognize mutual interests and growing complexities in the field of Earth System Modelling for weather and climate prediction. The consortium enables exchange of scientific resources, expertise, know-how and technical knowledge on the basis of equality, reciprocity and mutual benefits. The consortium also ensures better international orchestration of resources in the collaborative development of the Unified Model (UM) for weather and climate prediction.

Background:

The UM is based on the emerging paradigm of seamless prediction of weather and climate. National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting under Ministry of Earth Sciences (ESSO-NCMRWF) is focusing on the development of the seamless UM system for predicting/simulating monsoon from days to season under the National Monsoon Mission programme of ESSO-MoES.  Although UKMO and ESSO-MoES have been working jointly on the UM modelling system since 2008, but to have a more robust collaborative partnership through joint developmental programs among all the international partners of the UM System, India through consortium agreement proposed to become the fourth core UM partner through ESSO-NCMRWF.

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Amendments in the Commercial Courts, Commercial Division and Commercial Appellate Division of High Courts Bill, 2015, as introduced in the Lok Sabha 
The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has given its ex-post facto approval to official amendments in the Commercial Courts, Commercial Division and Commercial Appellate Division of High Courts Bill, 2015, as introduced in the Lok Sabha.

The amendments will be as under:

i. In Clause 10 to the Bill, the words, “Commercial Appellate Division” will be substituted by the words, “Commercial Division”.

ii. First Proviso to Clause 7 of the Bill will also be amended to clarify that the said proviso will also be applicable to the pending cases.

It would reduce burden on the Division Bench. Amendment in Proviso to Clause 7 of the Bill will bring more clarity about the said clause. The Amendments are likely to be introduced in the current session of Parliament. After amendment in Clause 10, all applications and appeals in Arbitration matters, which are filed in the High Court may be heard and disposed of by the Commercial Division in the High Court consisting of a single Judge Bench.

Background:

A Bill for replacement of Ordinance has been introduced in the Lok Sabha on 07.12.2015. As provided in Clause 10(1) and (2) of the Bill, all applications and appeals in Arbitration matters, which are filed in the High Court are to be the heard and disposed of by the Commercial Appellate Division which consist of Two Judge Bench. Concerns have been expressed that it may overburden the High Courts.

The Cabinet in its meeting held on held on 21st October, 2015, had approved the proposal for promulgation of the Commercial Courts, Commercial Division and Commercial Appellate Division of High Courts Ordinance, 2015 and to introduce a Bill in the Parliament to replace the Ordinance. Accordingly, the President promulgated the Ordinance on 23.10.2015. 

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Methodology for fixing Upfront Payment and Reserve Price for allotment of coal mines/blocks for sale of coal to PSUs under the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act, 2015 
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has given its approval for allotting coal mines to Central and State PSUs for sale of coal specially to Medium, Small and cottage industries under the provisions of the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act, 2015.

This shall also enhance domestic production of coal to meet the demand of national economy thereby reducing import. The coal bearing States shall be getting additional revenue from such coal mines equal to the amount of royalty on the quantity of coal produced on a monthly basis during the lease period/life of the mine as well as one time upfront payment which is 10 percent of the intrinsic value of coal in the mine in threeinstalments in the first year of allotment.

It is expected that the incremental coal produced from such coal mines would cater to the unmet demand of the coal in the country especially of medium, small and micro industries and bridge the gap between demand and supply considerably.

Background:

The demand for coal in the country is much higher than the current level of production/supply. During the year 2014-15, as against a total consumption of 825.6 million tonnes (provisional), the domestic production of coal was 612.4 million tonnes (Provisional). The gap between consumption and domestic supply is met through imports. Due to sustained efforts for increase in domestic production; import of coal which was showing positive growth since 2011-12, registered a negative growth of 12.2 percent during April-November, 2015. However, the gap between the demand and the supply continues to be, large. 
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