08, August 2017

Operation Sadbhavna

The operation is also aimed at spreading a message of goodwill about the “genuine efforts being undertaken by the Army in bringing the youth of this region to develop to its full potential”.

  • The primary aim of the tour is to motivate students from remote areas of Jammu and Kashmir to get a firsthand feel of development in other regions of our country and thereby raise the level of skill development to empower them to be self-reliant.

1.Measles-Rubella (MR) Campaign

Source: PIB

India, along with ten other WHO South East Asia Region member countries, have resolved to eliminate measles and control rubella/congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) by 2020.

  • In this direction, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare has initiated measles-rubella (MR) vaccination campaign in the age group of 9 months to less than 15 years in a phased manner across the nation.
  • The campaign aims to cover approximately 41 crore children and is going to be the largest ever vaccination campaign worldwide. All children from 9 months to less than 15 years of age will be given a single shot of Measles-Rubella (MR) vaccination during the campaign.

Key facts:

  • The campaign aims to rapidly build up immunity for both measles and rubella diseases in the community so as to knock out the disease, therefore, all the children should receive MR vaccine during the campaign.
  • Following the campaign, MR vaccine will become a part of routine immunization and will replace measles vaccine, currently given at 9-12 months and 16-24 months of age of child.
  • For those children who have already received such vaccination, the campaign dose would provide additional boosting to them. In order to achieve maximum coverage during the campaign, multiple stakeholders have been involved, which includes, apart from Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, other Ministries etc.

Measles- Rubella

  • While measles is a viral infection that can be fatal, congenital rubella syndrome is responsible for irreversible birth defects. Congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) is a cause of public health concern.
  • CRS is characterized by congenital anomalies in the foetus and newborns affecting the eyes (glaucoma, cataract), ears (hearing loss), brain (microcephaly, mental retardation) and heart defects, causing a huge socio-economic burden on the families in particular and society in general.
  • According to a study by the University College of Medical Sciences, Delhi, “1-15% of all infants suspected to have intra-uterine infection were found to have laboratory evidence of CRS (congenital rubella syndrome). About 3-10% of suspected CRS cases are ultimately proven to have confirmed CRS with the aid of laboratory tests. CRS accounts for 10-15% of pediatric cataract. 10-50% of children with congenital anomalies have laboratory evidence of CRS. 10-30% of adolescent females and 12-30% of women in the reproductive age-group are susceptible to rubella infection in India.”

2. Nine High Courts oppose all-India judicial service

Source: The Hindu

Nine High Courts have opposed a proposal to have an all-India service for the lower judiciary, eight have sought changes in the proposed framework and only two have supported the idea. However, most of the High Courts want the administrative control over the subordinate judiciary to remain with the respective High Courts.

Background:

The government had given a fresh push to the long-pending proposal to set up the new service to have a separate cadre for the lower judiciary in the country. The idea was first mooted in the 1960s. Seeking to overcome the divergence of views, the government had recently suggested to the Supreme Court various options, including a NEET-like examination, to recruit judges to the lower judiciary. There were vacancies of 4,452 judges in subordinate courts in the country.

Need for an all- India Judicial Service:

  • The quality of judicial officers in the subordinate judiciary is a matter of concern. The ever continuing decline in their quality will delay delivery of justice, increase pendency of cases, impair quality of judgments, and in turn affect competence of higher judiciary as well.
  • The proposal for setting up an AIJS, in the lines of Indian Civil Service, is hanging fire for more than five decades despite there were several proposals and decisions including that of the apex court, in its favour.
  • There is widespread hope that AIJS can deal with great many ills Indian judiciary face right now and revitalize it into a far more vibrant constituent of Indian governance and democracy.
  • The precise purpose of AIJS is to create a rigorous mechanism for appointment of persons of highest ability, impartiality and integrity to the district courts and to equip the subordinate judiciary in turn to serve as the feeder line for appointment of competent judges to the high courts or eventually the Supreme Court.
  • The ministry also proposed that the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) can also be asked to hold an exam to recruit judicial officers. The UPSC, it said, can modify its procedures and practices in consultation with high courts to hold the specialised test.

Who administers lower judiciary in the country?

In the Indian Constitution the judiciary and executive remained separate but the control of lower judiciary remains vested with the high courts

3.Food security: SC raps Centre, States

Source: The Hindu

What use is a law passed by Parliament if States not implement it, asks court

  • The court was speaking about how the State Food Commission, set up under the National Food Security Act in Haryana, has been sitting “jobless” and “without proper infrastructure” owing to the state government’s lacklustre response to the four-year-old welfare legislation.

What Judgement says about Implement Food security law in State?

  • The judgment by a Bench of Justices listed nine other States — Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Bihar and Chhattisgarh. These states had all come under the SC’s scanner for their damp response to the food security law meant to help those living below the poverty line.
  • The Supreme Court said the Centre cannot look the other way, passing the buck on to the states for not implementing the law. Referring to Article 256 of the Constitution, the judgment said the “Government of India cannot plead helplessness in requiring State Governments to implement parliamentary laws”.

Frame rules

  • The court directed the government to frame rules and designate independent officials for a grievance redressal mechanism under the Act within a year.
  • It directed the states to set up State Food Commissions and vigilance committees in every state by the end of the year and set up a social audit machinery.
  • The National Food Security Bill was passed by both Houses of Parliament and received the assent of the President on September 10, 2013. Almost four years have gone by but the authorities and bodies mandated to be set up under the National Food Security Act, 2013 have not yet been made functional in some States.

4.Centre extends Assam’s ‘disturbed area’ tag for another month under AFSPA

Source: The Hindu

The Centre has extended the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) in Assam for one more month, declaring the entire state of Assam as a “disturbed” area due to various violent activities by insurgent groups ULFA, NDFB, and others.

  • The Union home ministry has also declared Meghalaya’s border areas adjoining Assam, and three districts in Arunachal Pradesh as “disturbed” under the AFSPA for two more months with effect from August 3.

AFSPA

  • AFSPA, enacted in 1958, gives powers to the army and state and central police forces to shoot to kill, search houses and destroy any property that is “likely” to be used by insurgents in areas declared as “disturbed” by the home ministry.
  • The Act provides army personnel with safeguards against malicious, vindictive and frivolous prosecution.
  • Security forces can “arrest without warrant” a person, who has committed or even “about to commit a cognizable offence” even on “reasonable suspicion”.

 ‘DISTURBED’ areas

  • The state or central government considers those areas as ‘disturbed’ “by reason of differences or disputes between members of different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities.
  • Section (3) of the Afspa empowers the governor of the state or Union territory to issue an official notification in The Gazette of India, following which the Centre has the authority to send in armed forces for civilian aid.
  • Once declared ‘disturbed’, the region has to maintain status quo for a minimum of three months, according to The Disturbed Areas (Special Courts) Act, 1976.”

5.RBI rate cut important step for sustained growth

Source: The Hindu

The RBI’s decision to cut key policy rate by 0.25 per cent is an important step to achieve sustained growth consistent with moderate inflation and India’s potential.

Key facts:

  • The Reserve Bank, in its third bi-monthly monetary policy of the fiscal, reduced the repo rate after a gap of almost 10 months.
  • The new repo rate at 6 per cent is the lowest in six-and-a-half years. The last rate cut was effected in October 2016.
  • RBI Governor Urjit Patel, the central bank has maintained the economic growth projection at 7.3 per cent for the current fiscal.
  • The government has taken note of the statement of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) and its assessment of the inflation and growth outlook.
  • The government had been pitching for a rate cut to boost economic growth amid retail inflation falling to a historic low of 1.54 per cent in June.
  • The monetary policy statement was arrived after a two-day meeting of the MPC headed by Mr. Patel.
  • The MPC has decided to keep the policy stance neutral and to watch incoming data with a view to keeping headline inflation close to 4 per cent.
  • The MPC has also decided to keep the policy stance neutral and to watch incoming data with a view to keeping headline inflation close to 4 per cent.
  • It has stressed on urgent need to reinvigorate private investments, clear infrastructure bottlenecks and provide a major thrust to the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana.
  • The RBI said it is working in close coordination with the government to resolve large stressed corporate borrowings and recapitalise public sector banks.

MPC:

The Monetary Policy Committee(MPC) of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has been constituted by the Central Government in accordance with the provisions of the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934 (RBI Act) and has been notified in the Gazette of India.

  1. Governor of the Reserve Bank of India—Chairperson, ex officio
  2. Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, in charge of Monetary Policy—Member, ex officio
  3. One officer of the Reserve Bank of India to be nominated by the Central Board—Member, ex officio
  4. And three others are members.

The Members of the MPC shall hold office for a period of four years or until further orders, whichever is earlier and are not eligible for re-appointment.

Monetary policy committee:

  • MPC has tasked with deciding benchmark interest rates.
  • The MPC is entrusted with the task of fixing the benchmark policy rate (repo rate) required to contain inflation within the specified target level, which has been fixed for a period of 5 years up to March, 2021 by the Government at 4% with a range of +/- 2%.
  • The decision of the MPC shall be binding on RBI.

Key facts:

MPC is mandated to contain the inflation within the specified target levels.

Further, if the average inflation is more than the upper tolerance level of 4% + 2%, that is, 6%, or less than the lower tolerance level of 4% – 2%, that is, 2%, for any three consecutive quarters, it would mean a failure to achieve the inflation target.

Where RBI fails to meet the inflation target, in terms of the provisions of RBI Act, it shall set out a report to

  • The Central Government stating the reasons for failure to achieve the inflation target;
  • Remedial actions proposed to be taken by RBI; and
  • An estimate of the time-period within which the inflation target shall be achieved pursuant to timely implementation of proposed remedial actions.

6.Article 35A: Centre’s move for debate stirs hornet’s nest

Source: The Hindu

The Centre’s move seeking “larger debate” over Article 35A of the Constitution, which empowers the Jammu and Kashmir legislature to define “permanent residents” of the state and provide special rights and privileges to them, has triggered a political storm with several parties warning against any tinkering of the provision.

Article 35A

  • Article 35A is a provision in the Constitution that empowers the Jammu and Kashmir legislature to define permanent residents of the state. It was added through the Constitution(Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order, 1954, issued under Article 370.
  • The Jammu and Kashmir Constitution was adopted on November 17, 1956. It had defined a Permanent Resident as a person who was a state subject on May 14, 1954, or who has been a resident of the state for 10 years, and has lawfully acquired immovable property in the state, the article.

What are the issues?

  • Attempts to undo Article 35A of the Indian Constitution would strike a fatal blow to the nationalists in the state. There is an ongoing case in the Supreme Court challenging the validity of the Article, which prevents non-J&K state subjects from settling and buying property in the state. However, Kashmiris are apprehensive that such a move would open the sluice gates for a demographic transformation of the Valley.
  • The J&K government is also concerned at the reluctance of the Union government to file a counter affidavit in the Supreme Court. Against the backdrop of the escalating protests in Kashmir, this issue could potentially be explosive.



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