11, April 2017

1.Swachhagraha “Bapu Ko Karyanjali”

Source: PIB

‘‘Swachhagraha “Bapu Ko Karyanjali”-A Mission, An Exhibition’ to mark 100th Anniversary of Champaran Satyagrah at the National Archives of India (NAI)

Key facts:

  • Addressing the gathering on the occasion, the Prime Minister said that 100 years ago, Mahatma Gandhi reached Champaran and witnessed the hardships of people living there.
  • Gandhi Ji showed them the path to and power of peaceful Satyagrah.
  • Champaran Satyagraha catapulted Gandhi Ji to the forefront of India’s freedom struggle.
  • Gandhi ji was basically a Swachhagrahi and was awakening the thought process of the people of India.
  • Champaran be described as the place of origin of Swachhata Andolan and Champaran Satyagrah gave a new impetus to the freedom struggle and Gandhi ji accorded equal regard to women.
  • ‘Champaran played an important role in the development of Khadi.

Background:

  • Gandhi Ji was initially reluctant to visit Champaran.
  • Rather, he had hardly knew where Champaran was and was unaware of the conditions of the farmers who cultivated Indigo. Upon his arrival in Patna on 10th April 1917 and thence to in Motihari on 15th April, he immediately realized that his stay there would be a long haul.
  • During his stay, Gandhi Ji delved in detail with the problems of people.
  • Social practices of scavenging, illiteracy, issues covering women and health were found to be the main impediments. These obstacles were common to the political issues that Gandhi Ji confronted. Satyagraha was the weapon he employed to overcome hurdles on both these fronts.

The Champaran Satyagraha changed the dynamics of Indian politics, catapulting Gandhi Ji to the forefront of India’s freedom struggle. For the first time, people of India realized the power of non-violence and passive resistance, based on action.

2.Constitution 123rd Amendment Bill, 2017 passed in Lok Sabha

Source: The Hindu

Lok Sabha has passed Constitution 123rd Amendment Bill, 2017 which seeks to give constitutional status to National Commission for Backward Classes.

Objectives of the Bill:

The Constitution 123rd Amendment Bill seeks to make the following changes:

  • It seeks to insert a new article 338B in the constitution which provides for NCBC, its composition, mandate, functions and various officers.
  • Insert a new article 342-A which empowers the president to notify the list of socially and educationally backward classes of that state / union territory.
  • In case of a state, president will make such notification after consultation with the Governor. Under the same article, it is proposed that parliament by making a law can include or exclude the classes from the central list of backward classes.

Significance of this bill:

  • The Union Cabinet has approved setting up of a new commission for backward classes as a constitutional body. The National Commission for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes(NCSBC) will replace the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC).
  • The new constitutional body, National Commission for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes, will function under a chairperson, vice chairperson. Three other members will be on the board.
  • There have been demands in Parliament for grant of constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes to enable it to hear the grievances of OBCs in the same manner like that of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (constituted under Article 338) and National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (constituted under Article 338A).

National Commission for Backward Classes

  • The Supreme Court of India in its Judgment in Writ Petition 1990 – Indra Sawhney Vs. Union of India directed the Govt. of India, State Governments and Union Territory Administrations to constitute a permanent body in the nature of a Commission or Tribunal for entertaining, examining and recommending upon requests for inclusion and complaints of over-inclusion and under-inclusion in the list of OBCs.
  • Pursuant to the direction of the Supreme Court, the Government of India enacted the National Commission for Backward Classes Act, 1993 (Act No. 27 of 1993) for setting up a Commission at National Level viz. “National Commission for Backward Classes” as a permanent body.
  • The Act came into effect on the 2nd April, 1993. Section 3 of the Act provides that the Commission shall consist of five Members, comprising of a Chairperson who is or has been a judge of the Supreme Court or of a High Court; a social scientist; two persons, who have special knowledge in matters relating to backward classes; and a Member-Secretary, who is or has been an officer of the Central Government in the rank of a Secretary to the Government of India.

3.India, Australia sign six agreements

Source: The Hindu

India and Australia have singed six agreements in various fields such as terrorism, sports, health, environment, aviation sector to boost bilateral cooperation.

These agreements were signed in presence of Prime Minister and his visiting Australian counterpart Malcolm Turnbull after delegation level talks.

MoUs are

  • MoU on Cooperation in Sports.
  • MoU on Cooperation in the field of Health and Medicine.
  • MoU on Cooperation in the field of Environment, Climate and Wildlife.
  • MoU for Promotion and Development of Cooperation in Civil Aviation Security
  • MoU on Cooperation in Combatting International Terrorism and Transnational Organized Crime.
  • Implementation arrangement between ISRO and Geoscience Australia on Cooperation in Earth Observation and Satellite Navigation.

Highlights of agreement

  • Both countries sought to provide a boost to trade and security ties including counterterrorism cooperation.
  • Trade deal: Both countries could not conclude negotiations for Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) which they have been negotiating.
  • Uranium Supply: Australia held that ready to supply uranium to India as soon as possible. Both countries had signed civil nuclear cooperation in 2013 but actual supply has not yet commenced due to absence of any commercial contract.
  • NSG membership: Australia will support for India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group and also for Australia Group and the Wassenaar Arrangement, the two export control regimes.
  • Maritime security: Both countries agreed share common interests in ensuring maritime security and the safety of sea lines of communication. They also recognised importance of freedom of navigation and overflight, unimpeded lawful commerce, resolving maritime disputes by peaceful means, in accordance with international law, including UNCLOS.
  • Defence: Both countries agreed to remain strongly committed to the breadth of their defence ties and recalled the Special Forces Bilateral Exercise conducted in October 2016.
  • They agreed that the bilateral maritime exercise first held in the Bay of Bengal in 2015 will be repeated off Western Australia in the first half of 2018.
  • They took decision for first bilateral Army-to-Army exercise to take place in 2018.
  • They also agreed to look forward to the inaugural secretaries’ defence and foreign affairs dialogue in the ‘2+2’ format as a new mechanism to build on the deep strategic partnership.

4.Align bank pay to that in CPSEs: BBB

Source: The Hindu

The Bank Board Bureau (BBB) has recommended that the government bring in reforms in the compensation process in public sector banks on the lines of Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs).

  • BBB, set up in April 2016 to select board members including MD & CEO in PSBs, put out the list of recommendations that it had submitted to the government on its website.

 

  • BBB has suggested compensation reforms in PSBs so that best practices can be introduced ‘on the lines already prevalent in Central Public Sector Enterprises.’
  • To attract high-quality talent for non-executive directors and chairmen, BBB suggested a level-playing field with the private sector with respect to role, responsibility and remuneration.

Bank Board Bureau (BBB)

  • The Bureau is mandated to play a critical role in reforming the troubled public sector banks by recommending appointments to leadership positions and boards in those banks and advise them on ways to raise funds and how to go ahead with mergers and acquisitions.
  • BBB is the super authority (autonomous body) of eminent professionals and officials for public sector banks (PSBs). It had replaced the Appointments Board of Government.
  • With a view to improve the governance of public sector banks, the government had decided to set up an autonomous Bank Board Bureau. The bureau will recommend for selection the heads of public sector banks and financial institutions and help banks in developing strategies and capital raising plans.
  • The bureau was announced part of the Indradhanush plan to revamp these banks.
  • Composition of BBB: It has three ex-officio members and three expert members, in addition to the Chairman. Former Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) Vinod Rai is first and incumbent Chairman of BBB.

5.National law on cow killing not feasible

Source: The Hindu

Nationwide law for banning cow slaughter, the demand was not feasible as it was a “State subject” and the Constitution would have to be amended for such a law.

  • The protection and preservation of animals is Entry 15 of the State List of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution, which empowers the States to make laws on subjects like banning cow slaughter.
  • The Gujarat Assembly recently passed an amendment to the Gujarat Animal Preservation (Amendment) Bill which makes cow slaughter, transportation of cows or beef and beef products punishable with a life term, but not less than 10 years, a first in the country.
  • Kerala, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Lakshwadeep are the only States and union territory where there is no law on banning cow slaughter.

6.Motor Vehicle Amendment Bill passed by Lok Sabha

Source: The Hindu

The Lok Sabha has passed the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2016. The Bill amends the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 to address issues such as third party insurance, regulation of taxi aggregators, and road safety.

Motor Vehicles(Amendment) Bill:

  • Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill authorises the government to exempt or waive off any section to promote innovation.
  • The provisions of the Bill talk about improved citizen centric services, reducing the number of accidents and several steps proposed to reduce the footfalls to regional transport offices (RTO).
  • The bill proposes hefty penalties for various traffic offences, three-year jail term for parents of minors caught driving and causing fatal accidents, and a ten-fold increase in compensation for the families of accident victims, among other things.

Highlights of the Bill:

  • The Bill caps the maximum liability for third party insurance in case of a motor accident at Rs 10 lakh in case of death and at five lakh rupees in case of grievous injury.
  • The Bill provides for a Motor Vehicle Accident Fund which would provide compulsory insurance cover to all road users in India for certain types of accidents.
  • The Bill defines taxi aggregators, guidelines for which will be determined by the central government.
  • The Bill also provides for:
  1. Amending the existing categories of driver licensing,
  2. Recall of vehicles in case of defects,
  3. Protection of good samaritans from any civil or criminal action, and
  4. Increase of penalties for several offences under the 1988 Act.
  • Improving delivery of services to the stakeholders using e-Governance is one of the major focuses of this Bill. This include enabling online learning licenses, increasing validity period for driving licenses, doing away with the requirements of educational qualifications for transport licenses are some of the features.
  • The Bill caps the maximum liability for third party insurance, but does not cap the compensation amount that courts can award. In cases where courts award compensation higher than the maximum liability amount, it is unclear who will pay the remaining amount.
  • Under the Act, compensation for hit and run victims comes from a Solatium Fund.
  • State governments will issue licenses to taxi aggregators as per central government guidelines. Currently, state governments determine guidelines for plying of taxis. There could be cases where state taxi guidelines are at variance with the central guidelines on aggregators.

7.Healthcare sector needs innovative modes of funding: PwC report

Source: The Hindu

NATHEALTH is the forum that will facilitate the shift in mindset, delivery and decision making. It is vision to build a better and a healthier future

Mission

  • Enable environment to fund long term growth.
  • Help develop and optimise healthcare infrastructure.
  • Help shape policy & regulations.
  • Help bridge the skill & capacity gap.
  • Encourage innovation.
  • Support best practices & promote accreditation.

Background

  • The Indian government spends only about 1.5% of its GDP on healthcare, which is among the lowest globally for any country. Besides, access to capital has been one of the biggest roadblocks to the growth of the Indian healthcare sector.
  • In this context, there is a need to concentrate on innovative funding methods. The New Health Policy 2017 too had highlighted that innovative modes of funding were needed to meet the requirements of the healthcare sector.

Report:

  • The report said funding should be mobilised from pension funds and that investments should be routed through public-private partnership and long-term debt.
  • It has also suggested funding through business trust entities such as Real Estate Investment Trusts along with funds sourced through bilateral investment treaties.
  • Conventional modes of resource mobilisation must be aided by an innovative funding mechanism to improve healthcare investments in India, a Healthcare Federation of India (NATHEALTH)-PwC report.

Way ahead:

Underlining the need for huge funding requirements, the report said, “FDI in the sector has significantly increased in the last three years. However, healthcare expenditure’s share in GDP remained around 1.6% in FY16 and innovative funding modes would support the target of taking it to 2.5% by 2030.”

8.Aadhaar must for web-access to Survey of India maps

Source: The Hindu

The Survey of India, the country’s oldest scientific organisation and official maker of maps, has set up a web portal called Nakshe that allows 3,000 of its 7,000 maps to be downloaded for free.

The only caveat is that one would require an Aadhaar number for such access.

Key facts:

  • The SoI maps —prepared for defence and civilian purposes — are considered a standard reference for the shape, extent and geographic features of the country.
  • The maps to be made available through the portal http://soinakshe.uk.gov.in/ will make it easier for residents of villagers and panchayats to readily access information.

Aadhar enrolment:

  • The government has moved to making several services available through Aadhaar. “The Aadhaar is to ensure that only Indians are able to access this portal.
  • The government has passed orders to route a variety of citizen services — from scholarships to subsidies — to possessing an Aadhaar or Aadhaar enrolment number.
  • The Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill, 2016 specifically says that the number can’t be used as proof of citizenship or domicile.

Survey of India:

  • Survey of India, The National Survey and Mapping Organization of the country under the Department of Science & Technology, is the oldest scientific department of the GOVT. of INDIA. It was set up in 1767 and has evolved rich traditions over the years.
  • In its assigned role as the Nation’s principal mapping agency, Survey of India bears a special responsibility to ensure that the country’s domain is explored and mapped suitably to provide base maps for expeditious and integrated development and ensure that all resources contribute their full measure to the progress, prosperity and security of our country now and for generations to come.
  • The Survey of India acts as adviser to the Government of India on all survey matters, viz Geodesy, Photogrammetry, Mapping and Map Reproduction.

9.Two-child norm tied to jobs in Assam

Source: The Hindu

The Assam government announced a draft population policy which suggested denial of government jobs to people with more than two children and making education up to university level free for all girls.

Highlights of Draft population policy:

  • The policy suggests denial of government jobs to people with more than two children. Any person getting a job after meeting this condition would have to maintain it till end of his service.
  • For employment generation schemes like grant of tractors, houses and for other government benefits, this two-children norm will be applicable. Besides, all elections such as panchayats, municipal bodies and autonomous councils held under the State Election Commission will also have this norm for candidates.
  • The policy also aims to make education up to university level free for all girls. This includes facilities like fees, transportation, books and mess dues in hostels. This step is likely to arrest the school dropout rate.
  • The proposed population policy also seeks to debate on increasing the legal age of marriage from 18 for girls and 21 for boys. If anybody had child marriage, then he would be ineligible for government job.
  • The policy would also seek stringent laws to prevent violence and sexual abuse of women.
  • Besides, a proposal for providing incentives is included for poor persons, who take care of their elderly parents. The policy will also care for the adolescents.
  • The policy proposes to set up a State Population Council and a State Population Research Centre.



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