27, June 2017

K Kasturirangan, to head drafting committee of National Education Policy:

The ministry of human resource development has set up a new committee to make the final draft on the National Education Policy (NEP). The nine-member panel is to be chaired by former ISRO chief K Kasturirangan.

  1. CVC can now probe corruption cases in private sector banks

Source: The Hindu

The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) can now probe allegations of corruption in private sector banks and against their employees. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has given the necessary approval to the CVC on this.

Key facts:

  • The move comes after the Supreme Court last year ruled that the chairman, managing directors and other officers of a private bank could be seen as public servants when it came to the Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act, 1988.
  • The apex court had said all officials working in banks operating under an RBI licence would be defined as public servants under the PC Act. It had said bank employees, private or public, were on public duty and therefore came under the law.
  • The Supreme Court had also referred to Section 46A of the Banking Regulation Act and said that such bank officials were considered public officials.

Central Vigilance Commission:

  • It was created via executive resolution (based on the recommendations of Santhanam committee) in 1964 but was conferred with statutory status in 2003. It is the apex vigilance institution.
  • Presently, the body consists of central vigilance commissioner along with 2 vigilance commissioners.
  • They are appointed by the President of India on the recommendations of a committee consisting of Prime Minister, Union Home Minister and Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha (if there is no LoP then the leader of the single largest Opposition party in the Lok Sabha).
  • Their term is 4 years or 65 years, whichever is earlier.
  • It submits its report to the President of India.
  • The Central Vigilance Commissioner or any Vigilance Commissioner can be removed from his office only by order of the President on the ground of proved misbehavior or incapacity after the Supreme Court, on a reference made to it by the President, has, on inquiry, reported that the Central Vigilance Commissioner or any Vigilance Commissioner, as the case may be, ought to be removed.
  • CVC is advisory body.

  1. Consensus on NCBC bill

Source: The Hindu

A parliamentary panel examining a bill, which seeks to accord constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes, has reached a consensus, paving the way for its likely passage in Rajya Sabha in the monsoon session. With the passage of the bill, the NCBC, a statutory body under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, will get a constitutional status.

The bill was referred to the Rajya Sabha’s select committee after the opposition prevailed on the government to do so. It was passed by the Lok Sabha in April this year, but the opposition blocked its consideration in the upper house.

The bill proposes:

  • Insertion of a new Clause (26C) under Article 366 to define Socially and Educationally Backward Classes.
  • Insertion of provision after Articles 341 and 342 viz. 342 A to provide for Parliament’s approval for every inclusion into and exclusion from the Central List of Other Backward Classes.
  • Repeal of National Commission for Backward Classes Act, 1993, and Rules framed there under.
  • Dissolution of the Commission constituted under the Act of 1993.
  • Composition of the new Commission, i.e. National Commission for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes, with a Chairperson, Vice Chairperson and three other Members.

Set up in 1993, the NCBC was entrusted with examining requests for inclusion of any class of citizens as a backward class in the lists and hear complaints of over-inclusion or under-inclusion of any backward class in such lists and advice central government on the matter.

  1. Scorpenes to gain in endurance

Source: The Hindu

The Navy is planning to instal Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) modules on all six Scorpene submarines to extend their endurance. This will be done when the submarines go for normal refit which is six years after their induction.

Air-independent propulsion

  • Air-independent propulsion (AIP) is any technology which allows a non-nuclear submarine to operate without the need to access atmospheric oxygen (by surfacing or using a snorkel).
  • It can augment or replace the diesel-electric propulsion system of non-nuclear vessels.
  • It is based on the combustion of stored oxygen and ethanol to augment battery-powered propulsion.

Significance of AIP:

  • Notably, a submarine is about stealth. It is a weapons platform not visible to the naked eye. AIP significantly improves stealth because it enables a submarine to generate electricity for services and battery charging and propulsion while completely submerged.
  • AIP systems also generate electricity, powering a submarine’s to operate and also generate oxygen, lighting and amenities for crew.
  • They enable conventional diesel-electric submarines to remain submerged for two to three weeks at a time.
  • Another advantage is that the Non-nuclear submarines running on battery power or AIP can be virtually silent.

  1. FSSAI issues draft regulations for organic food products

Source: The Hindu

  • Food regulator FSSAI has come out with a draft regulation for organic food products, seeking to ensure that these food items are actually organic. The draft has been prepared in view of rising demand for organic food products, being considered as healthy, in the country.
  • Organic foods will have to comply with the provisions under the National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP) administered by the government or the Participatory Guarantee System for India (PGS-India) run by the Agriculture Ministry or any other standards notified by the food authority.

Draft regulations:

  • The draft regulation mandates that labelling of organic foods should convey full and accurate information on the organic status of the product.
  • Organic food products should also carry a certification mark or a quality assurance mark given by any of the notified certification bodies.
  • The FSSAI’s draft has exempted organic food marketed through direct sale by the original producer or producer organisation to the end consumer from verification compliance. However, this exemption does not apply to processed organic products.

Currently, a number of food products are being marketed as organic. However, consumers do not have any way to check the authenticity of organic food products due to lack of a regulatory framework. The draft regulation on organic food is aimed at overcoming this problem and ensuring that what is sold as organic food is really organic.

Organic food products

  • Organic food products are either those grown under a system of agriculture without the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides or made from organically produced raw materials.
  • The FSSAI has defined ‘organic agriculture’ as a system of farm design and management to create an eco system of agriculture production without the use of synthetic external inputs such as chemicals, fertilisers, pesticides and synthetic hormones or genetically modified organisms.
  • Organic farm produce means the produce obtained from organic agriculture, while organic food means food products that have been produced in accordance with specified standards for organic production, as per the draft.

FSSAI:

  • FSSAI was set up in August 2011 under the Food Safety and Standard Act, 2006.
  • It has powers to lay down standards for food articles and to regulate their manufacturing, storage, distribution, sale and import.
  • Some of its activities include licencing and surveillance of food and beverages outlets, enforcement of safety regulations across registered food vendors and ensuring safety of imported food items, their standards and labelling.



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