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Greetings from the Embassy of India in Washington DC!
Welcome to the October 12, 2020, edition of our newsletter, bringing you important policy and high-impact news about India.
I hope you find it useful.
High Impact News
Prime Minister delivers inaugural address at VAIBHAV 2020 Summit
“The need of the hour is to ensure more youngsters develop interest in Science. For that we must get well-versed with science of history and history of science”, said Prime Minister Sh Narendra Modi today while inaugurating the Vaishvik Bhartiya Vaigyanik (VAIBHAV) Summit, a global virtual summit of overseas and resident Indian Researchers and Academicians.

 “VAIBHAV Summit 2020 celebrates Science and Innovation from India and World. I would call it a true sangam or confluence of great minds, through this gathering we sit to form our long lasting association for empowering India and our planet”, he said.
Prime Minister inaugurates RAISE 2020 - a Mega Virtual Summit on Artificial Intelligence
Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi inaugurated RAISE 2020, a Mega Virtual Summit on Artificial Intelligence (AI) on 5 October. RAISE 2020 is a global meeting of minds to exchange ideas and chart a course for using AI for social transformation, inclusion and empowerment in areas like Healthcare, Agriculture, Education and Smart Mobility, among other sectors. He said the teamwork of AI with humans can do wonders for our planet. He pointed that India has led the world in knowledge & learning and will continue to digitally excel and delight the world.
India facilitates export of 1.8 million N95 masks to Philadelphia
India has facilitated export of 1.8 million N95 masks to Philadelphia, the largest city in the US state of Pennsylvania, to help in its fight against COVID-19, setting another example of a robust Indo-US partnership in the health sector. The move comes after the Mayor of Philadelphia, Jim Kenney, made a request to India for supply of masks to be used by the city''s frontline workers.
India’s First RRTS Train Unveiled
India unveiled its first Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS) train which was developed domestically under Government of India’s ‘Make in India’ Policy. The high-speed, high-frequency and environment friendly commuter trains for RRTS are slated to improve the quality of life in and around National Capital Region by accelerating economic growth, creating economic opportunities while simultaneously reducing pollution, congestion, and traffic.
Government of India to Facilitate Promotion of Hydrogen Fuel Cell-Based Vehicles
The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has said that it will facilitate the promotion of hydrogen fuel cell-based vehicles in the country. To reduce pollution and promote cleaner mobility, the Indian government has been pushing for vehicles propelled by Hydrogen Fuel cells through schemes like ‘Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid) and Electric vehicles (FAME).
Central Board of Direct Taxes launches Faceless Appeals 
Upholding the spirit of the “Transparent Taxation - Honoring the Honest”  platform launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in August 2020, the Central Board of Direct Taxes on 25th September 2020 launched Faceless Income Tax Appeals. Under Faceless Appeals, all Income Tax appeals will be finalized in an anonymous manner under the faceless ecosystem except for appeals relating to serious fraud. This is a part of series of reforms carried out by the Government in the past few years to simplify taxation.
Celebrations of 151st Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi
The 151st Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi was celebrated at the Embassy of India, Washington, DC on October 2, 2020. In the morning, Congressman Gregory Meeks, and Ambassador of India Taranjit Singh Sandhu paid floral tributes at the statue of Mahatma Gandhi at the Gandhi Plaza. In the afternoon, a virtual event was organized to mark the conclusion of the 2 year long Gandhi @150 celebrations. During the event, 19 Congresspersons from various parts of the United States delivered messages on the importance of Mahatma Gandhi's life besides Ambassador's address and other cultural performances by various artists.
National Cooperative Development Corporation Allocates Funds for Farmers
The National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC) allocated significant funds for paddy farmers in the states of Chhattisgarh, Haryana, and Telangana. This proactive step by NCDC during the COVID pandemic will give much needed financial support to farmers of the three state who account for nearly 75% of production of paddy in the country. The NCDC also expressed readiness in assisting more States in carrying out assistance operations.
iPhone makers win nod for US$143b India manufacturing plan
Apple's primary suppliers - Foxconn Technology, Wistron, Pegatron and Samsung Electronics were among a list of global firms that were cleared by India's Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. About 60 per cent of the total production, or 6.5 trillion rupees (US$80 billion), is expected to be exported in the next five years.
2nd India-Australia-Japan- USA Ministerial Meeting
Dr. S. Jaishankar, Minister of External Affairs participated in the Second India-Australia-Japan-USA Ministerial Meeting on 6 October 2020 in Tokyo. The Foreign Ministers followed up on their discussions in September 2019 and discussed the post Covid-19 international order. They called for a coordinated response to the challenges including financial problems emanating from the pandemic; need to share best practices to combat Covid-19; increasing the resilience of supply chains; and enhancing access to affordable vaccines, medicines and medical equipment.
Key Policy Decisions
India Heralds Major Transformation Through Passage of Labour Reform Bills
With the recent addition of three Labor Codes, 29 central labor laws have been condensed into four broad codes of labor reform, providing universal social security for workers and increasing the ease of doing business. These three codes are: (i) Industrial Relations Code, 2020 (ii) Code on Occupational Safety, Health & Working Conditions Code, 2020 & (iii) Social Security Code, 2020. The new labor codes universalize minimum wages, timely payment of wages and prioritize worker occupational safety. By reducing red tape and burdensome compliances, and encouraging technological development, these futuristic policies will be an springboard for the business sector in India.
Government Finalizes Three Farm Bills
With the approval of President Ramnath Kovind, three farm bills – The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Service Bill, 2020, and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020 – have now become acts. These bills will be a game-changer for Indian farmers by easing regulatory restrictions, circumventing inefficient middlemen and increase their market access. These bills will allow a pan-India model for contract farming, ushering in large investments, modern technologies, economies of scale, crop diversity and crop resilience, improved yields, better logistics, and increased access to both national and international markets.
Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020 passed  
The recently passed Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill 2020 removes commodities like cereals, pulses, oilseeds, edible oils, onion and potatoes from the list of essential commodities. This reform will increase ease of production, storage, transportation, and distribution, attracting private sector and foreign investment into the agriculture sector, building economies of scale. The result will help modernize the food supply chain, through investment in cold storage. This liberalizing reform ensures the interests of Indian consumers can be protected through regulations while also meeting export demands and safeguarding the investments of participants in the value chain.
Medical Council of India Superseded by National Medical Commission: Watershed Event for India’s Medical Education
As part of a historic reform to the medical education environment by the Government of India, the decades-old Medical Council of India has been replaced by the National Medical Commission (NMC). The NMC will be supported by four autonomous boards, the UG and PG Medical Education Boards, the Medical Assessment and Rating Board, and the Ethics and Medical Registration Board. To ensure the accountability and efficacy of the sector, the Regulator will be selected on merit of integrity, professionalism, stature, and experience.
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