20, April 2017

  1. Cabinet gives approval for introduction of Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-third Amendment) Bill 2017 and (ii) National Commission for Backward Classes (Repeal) Bill, 2017 in the Parliament

Source: PIB

Approval also granted for retention of posts and office premises for the proposed new National Commission for Backward Classes

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister

  • Ex-post facto approval for introduction of (i) Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-third Amendment) Bill 2017 and (ii) National Commission for Backward Classes (Repeal) Bill, 2017 in the Parliament; and
  • Approval for retention of posts/incumbents and office premises held by the existing National Commission for Backward Classes by the proposed new National Commission for Backward Classes.

The approval is for the proposal to bring about a Constitutional Amendment namely the Constitution (One Hundred Twenty-third Amendment) Bill, 2017 by

  1. (a) Constitution of a Commission under Article 338B for socially and educationally backward classes by name of National Commission for Backward Classes; and

(b) Insertion of Clause (26C) under Article 366 with modified definition viz. “socially and educationally backward classes” means such backward classes as are so deemed under Article 342A for the purpose, this Constitution and

2.Introduce a Bill for:

(a) Repeal of the National Commission for Backward Classes Act, 1993 along with Savings Clause for namely the National Commission for Backward Classes (Repeal) Bill, 2017; and

(b) Dissolution of the National Commission for Backward Classes with effect from such date as the Central Government may appoint in this behalf and the National Commission for Backward Classes constituted under sub-section (1) of Section 3 of the said Act shall stand dissolved.

  1. (a) Appropriation of the sanctioned 52 posts, along with incumbents wherever filled of the existing National Commission for Backward Classes in the proposed National Commission for Backward Classes to be constituted under Article 338B; and

(b) Retention of the office premises of the existing National Commission for Backward Classes at Trikut-1, Bhikaiji Cama Place, New Delhi-110066, by the National Commission for Backward Classes to be constituted under Article 338B.

  • The above decisions will lead to overall welfare of socially and educationally backward classes.
  • The proposed Act of repeal is necessary in view of setting up of the National Commission for Backward Classes by insertion of Article 338B of the Constitution.
  • The decision will also enable effecting continuity in the functioning of the National Commission for Backward Classes under Article 338B.

  1. Cabinet approves permission to avail external assistance by State Government entities from bilateral agencies

Source: PIB

The Union Cabinet has approved the policy guidelines to allow financially sound State Government entities to borrow directly from bilateral ODA (Official development Assistance) partners for implementation of vital infrastructure projects.

Key facts:

  • The guidelines will facilitate the State Government entities to directly borrow from the external bilateral funding agencies subject to fulfilment of certain conditions and all repayments of loans and interests to the funding agencies will be directly remitted by the concerned borrower.
  • The concerned State Government will furnish guarantee for the Loan. The Government of India will provide counter guarantee for the loan.

 Significance of this move:

  • Several State agencies are implementing major infrastructure projects of national importance. These projects, even if viable and sound, have huge funding requirements and borrowing by the State Governments for such projects may exhaust their respective borrowing limits.
  • Therefore, in order to accelerate the pace of investment in major infrastructure projects in the country without compromising the need for external assistance for other sectors, this enabling provision in the existing guidelines was considered necessary to facilitate direct borrowing by the State Government entities from bilateral external agencies.

Presently, external development assistance from bilateral and multilateral sources is received by the Government of India:

  • For projects/programmes in the Central sector.
  • For projects executed by Central Public Sector Undertakings.
  • On behalf of the State Governments for State sector projects/programmes to be implemented by the State Governments and/or local bodies and public sector undertakings.
  • The existing guidelines do not allow direct borrowings by the State Government entities from external agencies.

  1. India, China to resume stalled dialogue on corridor with Myanmar, Bangladesh

Source: The Hindu

The stalled consultation process for the BCIM (Bangladesh, China, India, Myanmar) Economic Corridor is set to resume, with officials and scholars from the four countries shortly meeting in Kolkata after a gap of more than two-and-half years. The last meeting of the Joint Study Group (JSG), which has government sanction, was held at Cox’s Bazaar in Bangladesh in December 2014.

Background:

  • The idea of creating a corridor of regional integrity was first floated in 1999 but there has been little progress in implementing the grand plan.
  • Officially, China and India say the process of finalising the BCIM is not easy because of several reasons, including the restive nature of the region the planned corridor will pass through. Privately, diplomats and bureaucrats from the two countries blame each other for the tardy progress.

BCIM Economic Corridor:

  • The BCIM economic corridor hopes to connect Kolkata with Kunming, capital of the Yunnan province. It envisages formation of a thriving economic belt, focusing on cross-border transport, energy and telecommunication networks.
  • Starting from Kunming, the route passes through nodal points, such as Mandalay and Lashio in Myanmar. It heads towards Kolkata after passing through Manipur and Silchar, before crossing Bangladesh via Sylhet and Dhaka, with branches extending to the ports of Cox Bazar and Chittagong.

  1. Aryabhata: Looking back at first Indian ‘space baby’

Source: The Hindu

India’s first satellite – Aryabhata – was launched successfully by a Russian rocket on 19th April 42 years ago in 1975, taking the country on an exciting space odyssey as far as the Moon and the Mars.

Aryabhata:

  • Aryabhata is the first Indian spacecraft that was also built in the country. Named after the 5th century astronomer, the experimental spacecraft did not last its design life of six months in space. But this kick-started the Indian capability to build satellites solidly on track.
  • It was meant to study distant celestial bodies that emit X-rays, Sun and Earth’s ionosphere.
  • ISRO Satellite Centre (ISAC) — which has built nearly 90 bigger and far more sophisticated spacecraft since then — proudly observes April 19 every year as Aryabhata Day or Technology Day.

  1. The Government decides to do away with beacons for all categories of vehicles

Source: The Hindu

With a view to strengthening healthy democratic values in the country, the Central Government has decided to do away with beacons of all kinds atop all categories of vehicles in the country. States are also being stripped of their power to specify persons whose vehicles can use blue flashing lights.

Background:

  • Amendments in this regard will be made in the Central Motor Vehicles Rules of 1989.
  • A specific clause in Rule 108 of the 1989 regulations, which empowers the Centre and the States to designate some dignitaries as entitled to red lights on top of their vehicles, is being abolished.
  • Its abolition would mean that neither the Centre nor the States would have any dignitary that governments can nominate for the usage of red beacons.

Beacons on vehicles are perceived symbols of VIP Culture, and the government believes they have no place in a democratic country.

Beacons, however, will be allowed on vehicles concerned with emergency and relief services, ambulance, fire service etc.



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