28, April 2017

  1. “SAMVAD” Programme

Source: PIB

Union Minister of Youth Affairs & Sports interacted with youngsters from Jammu and Kashmir in a programme named “Samvad”.

The objective of the interactive session was to initiate a conversation on a host of issues ranging from culture, sports, youth affairs, to various other social issues.

  • The students got a unique platform to share their thoughts and ideas directly with the Youth Affairs & Sports Minister.
  • Minister said, the youngsters of the Valley are multi-talented and must use their skills to gain maximum exposure to gather knowledge and work for nation-building.

The students shared various issues in terms of social problems, issues pertaining to sports and education.  Minister promised them full support and said that the government under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi believes in the mantra of “Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas”

Sabha Saath Sabka Vikas: Collective Efforts Inclusive Growth

  • This model is unique & worth emulating as it focuses on removing fault-lines of discrimination & prejudice. Once everyone is placed on an equal footing & given equal opportunities, it can only result in the creation of a truly equal & healthy society.
  • The interactive programme had been organized by the Nehru Yuva Kendra under the aegis of the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports.

Nehru Yuva Kendra

  • Nehru Yuva Kendras (NYKs) are set up at District level, with the primary objective of developing the personality and leadership qualities of the youth and to involve them in nation-building activities.
  • The Scheme of setting up of Nehru Yuva Kendras was introduced in 1972.
  • In the year 1987, an autonomous body called Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan (NYKS) was established for effective implementation of the Scheme and all the NYKs were placed under this autonomous body. NYKs have been set up in various Districts in a phased manner.

  1. NITI Ayog praises selection of 100 smart cities without any controversy

Source: PIB

Implementation of Smart City Mission is certainly changing the way the city governments are addressing issues of urban planning and execution.

Smart Cities and Informed Urbanisation’ here  organized by NITI Ayog and University of New South Wales, Australia.

Key facts:

  • Stating that Smart City Mission aims at improving livability in cities,
  • The broad objectives of the Mission are: Sustainable urban planning and development, Management of urban affairs with citizens’ participation, Area based development, Resilience to climate change, natural disasters etc and Technology based solutions for better governance and infrastructure management.
  • All new urban sector missions launched over the last two years aim at inclusive urban development benefitting all sections.
  • The Government has selected 100 cities for smart city development based on competition without any iota of controversy and was highly laudable. Basic features of a smart city include slum free city environment, proper delivery of city services including clean water and quality and assured power, affordable housing and meeting the needs of children, women and the aged. stressed on the need for optimal use of scarce urban land through vertical development.
  • Smart City Mission is not aimed at disbursing public money but to recast urban landscape through other means of resource mobilization and promoting best urban practices.
  • “Smart City Mission is not a typical project oriented programme but a process driven by the ambition of the citizens for better living and is not limited by time”. The first batch of 20 smart cities have come out with projects with potential for visible impact on ground.
  • Special Purpose Vehicle being constituted for implementation of smart city plans are not parallel power structures but are accountable execution tools with the involvement of Mayors and elected Representatives of People in advisory bodies.

Smart city mission implementation seeks to ensure core services of high quality, transformation of old and neglected neighborhoods and adoption of technology based solutions.

Smart cities mission:

The 27 cities selected in the latest round of ‘Smart City Challenge’ competition in order of the marks scored by them are: Amritsar tops the list of 27 new smart cities.

S.No City State
1 Amritsar Punjab
2 Kalyan-Dombivili Maharashtra
3 Ujjain Madhya Pradesh
4 Tirupati Andhra Pradesh
5 Nagpur Maharashtra
6 Managaluru Karnataka
7 Vellore Tamil Nadu
8 Thane Maharashtra
9 Gwalior MP
10 Agra Uttar Pradesh

 

The 27 smart cities announced are from 12 States including 5 from Maharashtra, 4 each from Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, 3 from Uttar Pradesh and 2 each from Punjab and Rajasthan.

Nagaland and Sikkim have made it to the smart city list for the first time.

  1. Urban Development and Housing schemes

Source: PIB

Implementation and progress of various new urban development and housing missions launched by the central government in Haryana will be reviewed at a high level meeting.

Union Minister of Urban Development and Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation will chair the review meeting in Chandigarh.

Review under Central Government Schemes

The central government launched Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban), Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), Smart City Mission and Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) to enable inclusive and sustainable urban development and to address infrastructure deficit in urban areas of the country.

ATAL MISSION FOR REJUVENATION AND URBAN TRANSFORMATION(AMRUT)- Ministry of Urban Development:

Providing basic services (e.g. water supply, sewerage, urban transport) to households and build amenities in cities which will improve the quality of life for all, especially the poor and the disadvantaged is a national priority.

The purpose of Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) is to

  • Ensure that every household has access to a tap with assured supply of water and a sewerage connection;
  • Increase the amenity value of cities by developing greenery and well maintained open spaces (e.g. parks); and
  • Reduce pollution by switching to public transport or constructing facilities for non-motorized transport (e.g. walking and cycling).

All these outcomes are valued by citizens, particularly women, and indicators and standards have been prescribed by the Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) in the form of Service Level Benchmarks (SLBs).

Project:

  • AMRUT this has been replaced by approval of the State Annual Action Plan once a year by the MoUD and the States have to give project sanctions and approval at their end.
  • The AMRUT makes States equal partners in planning and implementation of projects, thus actualizing the spirit of cooperative federalism.
  • Capacity Building and a set of Reforms have been included in the Mission.
  • Reforms will lead to improvement in service delivery, mobilization of resources and making municipal functioning more transparent and functionaries more accountable, while Capacity Building will empower municipal functionaries and lead to timely completion of projects.

  1. PM launches UDAN – Regional Connectivity Scheme for Civil Aviation

Source: PIB and The Hindu

UDAN – the Regional Connectivity Scheme for civil aviation, from Shimla Airport.

Under this scheme, flights have begun from Shimla, Nanded and Kadapa Airports.

All you need to know about the UDAN scheme for low-cost, regional connectivity

UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik) scheme, an endeavour to make regional connectivity easy.

Key features of the scheme:

  1. The UDAN scheme aims to stimulate regional connectivity with flights covering distances up to 800 km through a market-based mechanism.
  2. 43 cities are expected to be mainstreamed on India’s flight connectivity grid. A dozen airports where limited but irregular flights operate will be connected. As many as 31 destinations that are not operational despite the existence of airports will become active.
  3. Air India’s subsidiary Alliance Air will be the first airline to start operating flights between Delhi and Shimla under the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS). Alliance Air will operate regular flights using a 48-seater ATR-42 all-economy class aircraft from April 28.
  4. Due to the short runway length, height and temperature restrictions, the aircraft will not be able to fly the total capacity of 48 passengers. In the Delhi-Shimla leg, the flight will carry 35 passengers while on the return only 15 passengers will be able to fly. The government is expected to compensate for the loss with a Viability Gap Funding (VGF) of about Rs. 3,000 per seat.
  5. The VGF will be used to bridge the gap between the cost of airline operations and expected revenue.
  6. Among the commitments of the States are those to make sufficient land available; ensure adequate security; and provide essential services at concessional rates for the airports or air strips. The Centre would like the States to provide minimum land, free of cost, for development of the RCS airports. More importantly, the States will have to bear 20% towards VGF. The share will be 10% for North Eastern States and Union Territories.
  7. The government aims at making flying affordable by capping fares at Rs. 2500 per seat per hour.
  8. The scheme is a component of the National Civil Aviation Policy (NCAP).

  1. Legislation against Doping

Source: PIB

Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Youth Affairs and Sports has said that there is Zero Tolerance for doping and there is a need to encourage clean sports.

  • The Consultative Committee meeting was convened by National Anti Doping Agency (NADA). NADA has an ambitious plan to significantly increase the number of tests during the current year.
  • NADA has taken a number of steps to increase education and awareness against doping, not only in Sports Authority of India (SAI) SAI training centres, but also at various university games and events conducted above state-level by various federations.
  • In all national competitions, an undertaking is being taken from the athletes that they know the ill-effects of doping and will not indulge in doping.

NADA:

  • National Anti Doping Agency (NADA) was set up as registered society under the Societies Registration Act of 1890 on November 24, 2005 with a mandate for Dope free sports in India.
  • The primary objectives are to implement anti-doping rules as per WADA code, regulate dope control programme, to promote education and research and creating awareness about doping and its ill effects.

International Convention against Doping in Sport

  • By adopting the Convention on 19 October 2005, UNESCO responded to the calls from the international community.
  • At the Third International Conference of Ministers and Senior Officials Responsible for Physical Education and Sport (MINEPS III) in Punta del Este, Uruguay, in December 1999, consideration was given to ethical values in sport. Ministers expressed concern over unethical behavior, in particular doping in sport, and urged all countries to take concerted action.
  • The Convention represents the first time that governments around the world have agreed to apply the force of international law to anti-doping. This is important because there are specific areas where only governments possess the means to take the fight against doping forward.
  • The Convention also helps to ensure the effectiveness of the World Anti-Doping Code (the Code). As the Code is a non-government document that applies only to members of sports organizations, the Convention provides the legal framework under which governments can address specific areas of the doping problem that are outside the domain of the sports movement. As such, the Convention helps to formalize global anti-doping rules, policies and guidelines in order to provide an honest and equitable playing environment for all athletes.

There is a degree of flexibility as to how governments can give effect to the Convention, either by way of legislation, regulation, policies or administrative practices. However, signatory governments (States Parties) are required to take specific action to:

  • Restrict the availability of prohibited substances or methods to athletes (except for legitimate medical purposes) including measures against trafficking;
  • Facilitate doping controls and support national testing programmes;
  • Withhold financial support from athletes and athlete support personnel who commit an anti-doping rule violation, or from sporting organizations that are not in compliance with the Code;
  • Encourage producers and distributors of nutritional supplements to establish ‘best practice’ in the labelling, marketing and distribution of products which might contain prohibited substances.
  • Support the provision of anti-doping education to athletes and the wider sporting community.

Entered into force on 1 February 2007 – becoming the most successful convention in the history of UNESCO in terms of rhythm of ratification after adoption –, the Convention is now the second most ratified of all UNESCO treaties.

The Convention also provides a mechanism to assist States Parties to develop anti-doping education and prevention programmes through the Fund for the Elimination of Doping in Sport managed by UNESCO.

  1. Flexible pension for informal staff mooted

Source: The Hindu

Workers from the informal economy and the agricultural sector should be allowed flexible contributions and withdrawals from pension plans due to the vagaries of their incomes and the risk of disasters, a report by the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority.

  • The ‘Financial Security for India’s Elderly’ report by PFRDA has recommended providing flexibility to workers from the informal economy and the agricultural sector in contributions and withdrawals from pension plans.
  • The report also recommends a specific pension scheme for young women along the lines of the government’s Sukanya Samriddhi Scheme for young girls.

What are the needs?

  • There are labourers who work on a daily basis and are unsure of whether they would be employed the next day,” according to the report.
  • Also, agriculture sector employs the highest population in India and is highly dependent on monsoons. In a year of bad monsoons, the earnings of many of the farmers are very low even to suffice their basic needs, let alone put something aside for pension in later years.
  • Also, since women, who account for 70% of non-workers in India, are financially dependent on their male counterparts, and generally outlive men, the ‘feminisation’ of the elderly is going to be increasingly evident in the years to come, and could bring with it huge fiscal burdens.

“Similar to a Sukanya Samriddhi Scheme, where parents are incentivised to save for their young daughters, a scheme can be provided for the young ladies.

Conclusion:

  • “The contributions could be from the women’s families.
  • Alternatively, the government could look at providing some tax relief to the savings held in the form of pension. This segment, if tapped properly, can ensure high coverage of the working age population.

  1. Lokpal panel: CJI among equals

Source: The Hindu

The Supreme Court has upheld the provision of the Lokpal law giving no primacy to the Chief Justice of India’s opinion on who should be appointed as Lokpal Chairperson and Members.

The Chief Justice of India’s opinion need not always get primacy. It is the prerogative of the legislature to decide whether the opinion of the Chief Justice of India should get primacy.

Background:

The judgement came based on a petition filed by an NGO — Just Society — against the Lokpal Act of 2013 not giving any primacy to the opinion of the CJI or his nominee judge in the matter of selection of Chairperson and Members of the Lokpal.

Supreme court:

Legislature’s prerogative

  • The Chief Justice of India’s opinion need not always get primacy. It is the prerogative of the legislature to decide whether the opinion of the Chief Justice of India should get primacy.
  • It is not the mandate of the Constitution that in all matters concerning the appointment to various offices in different bodies, primacy must be accorded to the opinion of the Chief Justice or his nominee, the court held.

Not questionable: If the Legislature in its wisdom had thought it proper not to accord primacy to the opinion of the Chief Justice or his nominee and accord equal status to the opinion rendered by the Chief Justice or his nominee and treat such opinion at par with the opinion rendered by other members of the Selection Committee, we do not see how such legislative wisdom can be questioned on the ground of constitutional infirmity.

Lokpal and Lokayuta Act 2013

The Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013 seeks to provide for the establishment of Lokpal for the Union and Lokayukta for States to inquire into allegations of corruption against certain public functionaries and for related matters.

The act extends to whole of India, including Jammu & Kashmir and is applicable to “public servants” within and outside India. The act mandates for creation of Lokpal for Union and Lokayukta for states.

Supreme court over Amendment Act:

  • The Supreme Court judgment holding that appointments to the Lokpal can be made in the absence of the Leader of Opposition (LoP) in the selection panel is a starkly contrary view to what the court had in 2014.
  • Hearing the case filed by Common Cause, a three-judge Bench led by then Chief Justice of India R observed that the LoP held a significant position in House of People and is a “voice representing views contrary to government.
  • However, the final judgment in the case says that even a “truncated” selection committee of the Prime Minister, Lok Sabha Speaker, Chief Justice of India and an eminent jurist can make the appointments to Lokpal without the LoP.
  • The 16th Lok Sabha does not a have recognised LoP. “The Parliament may not have envisaged such a situation but it now needs to be interpreted so that the process is fast-tracked. The issue needs objective consideration in view of current political situation. The issue of LoP is relevant not only in Lokpal law but also in other existing legislations and it cannot be prolonged,” the Supreme Court had noted orally.
  • The court’s final position in the judgment that the proposed amendments of Parliamentary Standing Committee to replace LoP with the single largest Opposition party leader is not “sacrosanct” contradicts the earlier observations made in the same case in 2014.

Powers:

  • The Lokpal will have the power of superintendence and direction over any investigation agency including CBI for cases referred to them by the ombudsman.
  • As per the Act, the Lokpal can summon or question any public servant if there exists a prima facie case against the person, even before an investigation agency (such as vigilance or CBI) has begun the probe. Any officer of the CBI investigating a case referred to it by the Lokpal, shall not be transferred without the approval of the Lokpal.
  • An investigation must be completed within six months. However, the Lokpal or Lokayukta may allow extensions of six months at a time provided the reasons for the need of such extensions are given in writing.
  • Special courts will be instituted to conduct trials on cases referred by Lokpal.

  1. Judicial performance index proposed

Source: The Hindu

NITI Aayog for outsourcing non-core functions of police

The NITI Aayog has proposed the introduction of a judicial performance index to reduce delays and the outsourcing of non-core functions of the police to private agencies or other government departments, in a bid to fix justice system that is in ‘dire need of reform.’

Implements:

  • The government’s think tank has also mooted changes in criminal justice and procedural laws, a repeal of all irrelevant legislation by March 2019 and reforms in land ownership laws — which account for 67% of litigants in civil suits.
  • The creation of a judicial performance index that could help High Courts and their chief justices keep track of the performance and processes at district courts and subordinate levels for reducing delay, should be ‘the first step’ in judicial system reforms.
  • Since the subordinate judiciary is largely within the domain of the High Courts, this could also spur competitive reform of the judiciary in those States.
  • Enforcing contracts: Citing inordinate delays in India’s judicial system and its low rank on enforcing contracts in the World Bank’s ease of doing business report for 2017, the think tank has also called for streamlining judicial appointments on the basis of online real-time statistics on the workload of pending cases.
  • Such data will help enable “priority appointment of judges at the lower judiciary levels keeping in mind a scientific approach to assess the number of judges needed to tackle pendency

Improve the quality of policy:

  • To improve the quality of policing, the think tank has asked the Home Ministry to create a task force to identify ‘non-core functions’ that can be outsourced to private agents or government departments in order to reduce the workload of the police.
  • India’s police to population ratio should reach the United Nations norms of 222 per lakh population, over the next seven years, from the current level of 137.
  • Red-flagging the adverse implications of crimes against women beyond ‘the obvious horror for affected individuals’, the Aayog has asked the Home Ministry to push for greater hiring of women in the police force, with a target of 30% of all new recruits.

  1. Bhutan backs out of motor vehicle pact

Source: The Hindu

Bhutan government has announced that it is not ready to go ahead with the process at present. It asked the other members of the ‘BBIN’ grouping — India, Bangladesh and Nepal — to continue to operationalise it without Bhutan.

Why Bhutan has out of motor vehicle pact?

The decision to step out of the BBIN process comes on the back of severe domestic opposition to the motor vehicles agreement, primarily on fears of vehicular pollution and environmental degradation if trucks from neighbouring countries are given access to Bhutan, a country that prides itself on its “carbon neutrality” and preserving the environment.

 Background:

The BBIN Motor Vehicles Agreement, signed on June 15, 2015, allows vehicles to enter each other’s territory and does away with trans-shipment of goods from one country’s truck to another at the border, a time consuming and costly process.



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