17th December 2020

Prime Minister’s Special Scholarship Scheme (PMSSS)

Recently, All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has decided to release the instalment of Rs. 20,000/- as maintenance allowance under Prime Minister’s Special Scholarship Scheme (PMSSS).

  • An Expert Group was constituted by the Prime Minister for enhancing employment opportunity among youths of J&K and Ladakh and formulates job opportunities in public and private sectors.


  • It is being implemented by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE).
  • Under the PMSSS Scheme, the youths of J&K and Ladakh are supported by way of scholarship in two parts namely the academic fee & maintenance allowance.
    • The academic fee is paid to the institution where the student is provided admission after on-line counselling process conducted by the AICTE.
    • The academic fee covers tuition fee and other components as per the ceiling fixed for various professional, medical and other under-graduate courses.
  • The main objectives of the Scheme are as under:
    • Evolving guidelines for proper implementation of the scheme to fulfil the objectives
    • To Conduct Awareness Workshops about the Scheme
    • To Conduct Counselling for admission of candidates to different programs/courses
    • Disbursal of Scholarship for the eligible Candidates
    • Redressal of Grievances of PMSSS Candidates
  • The J & K cell is responsible for proper implementation of the scheme to fulfil the objectives of Prime Ministers Special Scholarship Scheme to J&K Students.

Eligibility under PMSSS

  • Candidates having domicile of Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh.
  • Students must have passed 12th examination from JKBose or CBSE affiliated schools located in J&K and Ladakh in academic year 2018-19 or 2019-20 only.
  • Family income of Rs. 8.00 Lakh or less per annum.

Significance of PMSSS

  • The Scheme aims to build the capacities of the youths of J&K and Ladakh by Educating, Enabling and Empowering them to compete in the normal course.
  • It facilitates access to quality education with an aim to equip youth with knowledge, skills, experience and training for higher academic level/profession.

All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE)

  • It was set up in November 1945 as a national-level apex advisory body to conduct a survey on the facilities available for technical education.
  • It aims to promote development in the country in a coordinated and integrated manner.
  • The AICTE Act was constituted to provide for the establishment of an All India Council for Technical Education with a view to proper planning and co-ordinated development of a technical education system throughout the country.
  • The purview of AICTE (the Council) covers programmes of technical education including training and research in Engineering, Technology, Architecture, Town Planning etc. at different levels.


Protection of India’s poor and vulnerable from the impact of COVID-19

Recently, the Government of India and the World Bank have signed a $400 million project to protect India’s poor and vulnerable from the impact of COVID-19.

  • The COVID-19 crisis has brought to the fore the risks that migrants and the urban poor face and the need for governments to strengthen preparedness for future disasters of this nature.
  • The early results from tracking the first operation through a representative household survey across India have highlighted the strengths and challenges of India’s social protection system.
  • The Second Accelerating India’s COVID-19 Social Protection Response Programme signed will build on the shifts that the first operation has achieved.
  • The programme was prepared in collaboration with the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and Kreditanstalt Fur Wiederaufbau (KfW).
  • The $400 million credit is from the International Development Association (IDA) which is the World Bank’s concessionary lending arm.

Significance of Agreement

  • The project aims to support India’s efforts at providing social assistance to the poor and vulnerable households, severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The programme will strengthen the capability of state and national governments in India to provide coordinated and adequate social protection to the poor and vulnerable.
  • It will help further expand and deepen the coverage of India’s social protection systems by helping these vulnerable groups in urban and peri-urban areas across the country.
  • The second operation will complement the expansion of India’s safety net programmes to create a portable social protection platform ensuring food and cash support for poor households, urban migrants, and unorganised sector workers across state boundaries.
  • The new operation will allow flexibility for state governments to cater to their contexts, while ensuring that the needs of migrants, informal workers and the urban poor are addressed.
  • The proposed reforms will allow states to access flexible funding from disaster response funds to design and implement appropriate social protection responses to COVID-19 and future disasters.


New Development Bank (NDB) supporting India’s economic recovery from COVID-19

Recently, the Government of India and the New Development Bank (NDB) have signed a loan agreement for lending $1,000 million for ‘supporting India’s economic recovery from COVID-19’.

  • The country-wide restriction on movement of people, coupled with additional stringent restrictions imposed by State Governments and intermittent localized lockdowns to contain the spread of COVID-19, affected domestic supply and demand, resulting in slowed down economic activity.
  • It resulted in loss of employment and income of workers especially those employed in the informal sector, including rural areas.


  • It is aimed at supporting expenditures on rural infrastructure related to natural resource management (NRM) and rural employment generation under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS).
  • The programme will support Government in mitigating the adverse economic impact of COVID-19 pandemic and enable economic recovery in the rural areas through:
    • natural resource management works which will facilitate economic activity and
    • employment generation to stimulate rural demand, to combat the decline in economic activity due to outbreak of COVID-19
  • The programme proposes creation of durable rural infrastructure assets relating to NRM and generation of employment opportunities for rural poor.

Significance of the NDB’s Assistance

  • The programme will improve the livelihood of rural poor along with providing income opportunities to migrant workers who has returned from urban areas because of job loss caused by COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The NDB’s timely assistance will help the Government in combatting the economic disruptions caused by COVID-19 pandemic and creating employment opportunities in rural areas to stimulate demand.
  • The programme will support the Government of India’s efforts in mitigating the adverse economic impact of COVID-19 pandemic and enable economic recovery in the rural areas through NRM works and employment generation.
  • The funding under NDB’s Policy on fast-track emergency response to COVID-19 will help preserve rural income and sustain rural expenditure, resulting in increased demand that aids economic recovery.

New Development Bank (NDB)

  • It is a BRICS Development Bank established in 2014.
  • It was established based on the Inter-Governmental agreement among the BRICS countries (Brazil, the Russian Federation, India, China and South Africa).
  • The purpose of the Bank is to mobilise resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS and other emerging market economies and developing countries.
  • It is building a robust and diversified portfolio of sustainable infrastructure projects, in order to fulfill its mandate and achieve strategic objectives.


Golden Peacock Environment Management Award

Recently, the Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) has been awarded with the prestigious Golden Peacock Environment Management Award for the year 2020 in the Steel Sector.

  • It is the coveted and prestigious recognition that an organization could strive to win for environment management.
  • It was instituted in 1998 by World Economic Forum (WEF).
  • It is presented at the Annual ‘World Congress on Environment Management’, to organisations adjudged to have attained significant achievements in the field of Environment Management.

Golden Peacock Award

  • It is instituted by the Institute of Directors (IOD), India in 1991.
  • Its purpose is to create a competition for raising overall performance standards and recognise the achievements of the best performing organisations.
  • All institutions whether public, private, non-profit, government, business, manufacturing and service sector are eligible to apply.
  • The Awards are bestowed annually and are designed to encourage total improvement in each sector of our business.


Kisan Kalyan Mission

Recently, the Uttar Pradesh government has decided to launch ‘Kisan Kalyan Mission’.


  • It is a special program to double the income of farmers which will cover all assembly constituencies of the state.
  • Under the Kisan Kalyan mission various programs will be organised across the state such as exhibitions of agriculture and associate sectors which will include the products of MSME sector units and livelihood missions.
  • Under the Kisan Kalyan mission many departments of state government like agriculture marketing Mandi Parishad, Horticulture, animal husbandry, fisheries, sugarcane food and supply and Panchayati Raj will work together.


Dak Adalat

Recently, the Dak Adalat of Maharashtra circle has decided to entertain the complaints/grievances regarding Postal services pertaining to the Maharashtra and Goa status which have not been settled within 6 weeks.

  • The adalat will cover cases of complaints and disputes related to the postal services particularly concerning mails, parcels, registered letters, electronic money order, counter services, Speed Post, savings bank account, postal life insurance and others.
  • In order to redress the grievances in an effective manner, the Department periodically organizes Dak Adalat where functionaries of the Department meet the aggrieved customers, gather details about their complaints and try to settle them at the earliest.
  • All types of Complaints related to Postal services will be considered during Dak Adalat Complaints should contain details like name and designation of the officers to whom original complaint was addressed.

Need for Dak Adalat

  • The Postal Services form an integral part of the socio-economic life of the country, touching the lives of virtually every citizen.
  • The prevalence of communication gaps and service faults in the Department of Posts results into grievances and complaints.


Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA) Summit

Recently, the 12th Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA) Summit 2020 was concluded by the Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs.

  • The year 2020 which was a year to track the progress on the Sustainable Development Goals and gear up to make the next decade count has taken a big turn and the entire focus of the world shifted to a pandemic.
  • The world has been witnessing a number of natural calamities such as floods, droughts, and cyclones.
  • It is high time for us to change our designing and construction practices to be resilient in terms of climate, health related issues, natural calamities, biodiversity, etc.


  • It is themed around “Rejuvenating Resilient Habitats”.
  • It shall serve as a platform to deliberate on innovative technologies and solutions which shall help in creating robust mechanisms for developing sustainable and resilient solutions.
  • The deliberations held during the summit will enable knowledge sharing and encourage the development of green and sustainable habitats across the country.

GRIHA Summit

  • It is the annual flagship event organized by GRIHA Council in association with key stakeholders in construction industry.
  • It aims to discuss and deliberate on furtherance of Sustainable Habitat Development in India.
  • It has played host to various technical sessions on sustainable building policies, tools & techniques and exhibitions showcasing sustainable building materials, techniques and technologies.
  • The first conference, held in January 2010, had 400 participants representing all the key stakeholders in the construction industry.


  • It is an acronym for Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment.
  • GRIHA is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘Abode’.
  • GRIHA attempts to quantify aspects such as energy consumption, waste generation, renewable energy adoption, etc. so as to manage, control and reduce the same to the best possible extent.
  • It is a rating tool that helps people assesses the performance of their building against certain nationally acceptable benchmarks.
  • It evaluates the environmental performance of a building holistically over its entire life cycle, thereby providing a definitive standard for what constitutes a ‘green building’.
  • The rating system, based on accepted energy and environmental principles, will seek to strike a balance between the established practices and emerging concepts, both national and international.


Parliamentary Session

Recently, the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs has provided that some opposition parties have expressed concerns about the ongoing pandemic and opined of doing away with winter session.

Sessions of Parliament

  • The power to convene a session of Parliament rests with the government.
  • India does not have a fixed parliamentary calendar and by convention, Parliament meets for three sessions in a year.
  • The general scheme of sittings was recommended in 1955 by the General Purpose Committee of Lok Sabha but it was not implemented.

Constitutional Provisions of Parliamentary Session

  • The summoning of Parliament is specified in Article 85 of the Constitution which is based on a provision of The Government of India Act, 1935.
    • The provision specified that the central legislature had to be summoned to meet at least once a year, and that not more than 12 months could elapse between two sessions.
  • The Constitutional makers stated that the purpose of this provision was to summon the legislature only to collect revenue, and that the once-a-year meeting was designed to avoid scrutiny of the government by the legislature.
  • The drafting committee formulated a provision which reduced the gap between sessions to six months, and specified that Parliament should meet at least twice a year.
  • The clause as it stands does not prevent the legislature from being summoned more often than what has been provided for in the clause itself.

Challenges of Parliamentary Sessions

  • Sessions delayed due to general elections: The governments have shuffled around the dates of sessions to accommodate political and legislative exigencies.
    • In 2011, political parties agreed to cut short the Budget Session so they could campaign for Vidhan Sabha elections in five states.
  • The parliamentary sessions have also been cut short or delayed to allow the government to issue Ordinances.
    • In 2016, the Budget Session was broken up into two separate sessions to enable the issuance of an Ordinance.
  • Sessions have been stretched: In 2008, the two-day Monsoon Session (in which a no-confidence motion was moved against the UPA-I government over the India-US nuclear deal) was extended until December.
  • Decline in the sittings days of Parliament: During the first two decades of Parliament, Lok Sabha met for an average of a little more than 120 days a year which has come down to approximately 70 days in the last decade.

Joint Session of Parliament

  • The Constitution of India provides for the joint sitting of the Parliament’s two Houses, the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, in order to break any deadlock between the two.
  • The joint sitting of the Parliament is called by the country’s President.
  • Such a session is presided over by the Speaker, and in his/her absence, by the Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha. In the absence of both, it is presided over by the Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.
    • If any of the above are not present, any other member of the Parliament can preside by consensus of both the Houses.
  • Article 108 of the Constitution talks about a joint Parliament session.
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