The cabinet on Wednesday approved a plan to sign an initial pact on intellectual property rights with the United States, a government minister said, days ahead of a visit by US President Donald Trump.
The United States has long urged India to strengthen protection for intellectual property and that has been a cause of friction on top of trade disputes between the two countries.
Information and broadcasting minister Prakash Javadekar said approval for an MoU with the United States was secured at a cabinet meeting presided over by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The government on Wednesday also made its flagship crop insurance schemes voluntary for farmers with existing crop loans or those willing to take new ones as it seeks to address the concerns raised by farmers’ body and states in the implementation of these programmes.
“The Union cabinet has approved revamping of the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) and the Restructured Weather Based Crop Insurance Scheme (RWBCIS) to address the existing challenges in implementation of crop insurance schemes,” an official statement said.
Under the PMFBY, which was launched in February 2016 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, it is mandatory for loanee farmers to take insurance cover under this scheme.
The PMFBY provides comprehensive crop insurance from pre-sowing to post-harvest period against non-preventable natural risks at extremely low premium rate of 2 per cent for kharif crops, 1.5 per cent for rabi crops and 5 per cent for horticulture and commercial crops.
The cabinet approved the modification of certain parameters/provisions of ongoing PMFBY and RWBCIS schemes.
“Enrolment under the scheme to be made voluntary for all farmers (both PMFBY/ RWBCIS),” agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar told reporters here.
He said 58 per cent of total farmers are loanee and the remaining 42 per cent are non-loanee. The number of farmers opting for these crop insurance schemes may drop immediately but the enrolment would eventually pick up, Tomar said.
The minister said the government would launch a campaign for creating awareness among farmers about the need to take a crop insurance policy.