Insights Daily Current Affairs, 13 January 2017
Insights Daily Current Affairs, 13 January 2017
Paper 2 Topic: Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.
SC refuses plea on alleged dilution of whistleblower law
The Supreme Court has refused to examine a petition alleging dilution in the Whistleblower Protection Act and seeking interim measures to protect whisteblowers who expose corruption in public administration and governance.
- The court also observed that Parliament is already seized with the law and the judiciary would be encroaching on the legislature’s turf by entertaining allegations now.
A petition was filed in the court contending that the Whistleblower Protection Act 2011 was not notified and certain amendments were in the works to dilute the it.
About the Whistleblowers law:
The law provides a mechanism to investigate allegations of corruption and misuse of power by public servants while protecting those who tip off investigative agencies against officials.
- In 2014, the Whistleblowers Protection Act replaced a 2011 legislation aiming to strengthen the legal framework. However, the central government is yet to set up a mechanism under the 2014 law as certain amendments are being debated in parliament.
- The Whistleblower Protection Act, which was passed in May 2014 after an inordinate delay, lays down the rules that protect whistle blowers in non-corporate cases. Under this Act, the Central Vigilance Commissioner has to receive complaints, review public disclosure requests and ensure that the complainants are protected. The Act stipulates imprisonment of up to two years and fine of up to ₹30,000 if the complaint is false. The government has proposed a few amendments to these rules.
- The amendment bill is pending in the parliament. The amendment bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha in May 2015 but is yet to be passed. The amendment proposed to exclude from the purview of the Whistleblowers Act, categories like cabinet proceedings, scientific interests and the security of India.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Niti Aayog calls for review of RTE Act
The Niti Aayog has called for a review of the provisions of the Right To Education Act that stipulate that children who don’t perform well cannot be held back up to class VIII. It said the good intention behind the norm is detrimental to the learning process.
What’s the issue?
The Right To Education (RTE) Act, which aims to provide primary education to all children aged 6-14 years, stipulates that no child can be held back in a grade, regardless of his performance, all the way up to the eight grade. This means that a child is entitled to an eighth grade diploma even if he cannot recognise a single letter or a number if he has spent eight years in school.
Though the purpose behind this move is to minimise drop-out rates, the Niti Aayog pointed out that this provision has a detrimental effect on learning outcomes, since it takes away the pressure to learn and to compete.
What needs to be done?
Presently, the proportion of children aged 6-14 years enrolled in school in rural areas has been above 96% for the past six years, according to Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2014. But, the ASER report finds that more than 50% of the fifth graders cannot read second standard level text. Hence, the Niti Aayog has said that the quality of education should be more important.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
After India, other South East Asian countries opting for fractional doses of IPV: WHO
According to a latest report by WHO, amid a global shortage of injectable inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) polio vaccine, countries in the South East Asian region have now opted for fractional doses of IPV, first adopted by India, to tackle these “challenging conditions”.
- WHO also observed that by introducing fractional doses of IPV, nations are not only saving vaccine cost but also not compromising on the protection that it provides to the children against polio.
- On the sixth anniversary of the last case of wild polio virus in the SEAR (South East Asian Region), WHO commends countries in the Region for their continued efforts to protect children against this crippling virus and maintain the region’s polio-free status, despite challenging conditions. Amid shortage, countries in the WHO SEAR are opting to use fractional doses of IPV.
- WHO’s SEAR comprises Bangladesh, Bhutan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Timor-Leste.
Since polio-free certification on March 27, 2014, all countries in WHO South East Asia Region have been working towards timely implementation of the global polio endgame strategy to achieve a polio-free world.
- South East Asia was the first WHO Region to complete the polio vaccine switch from the traditionally used trivalent oral polio vaccine (tOPV) to the bivalent vaccine (bOPV) to prevent any paralysis caused by type 2 polio virus strain in tOPV.
- As a part of the global polio endgame strategy, countries in the Region have introduced IPV to supplement the oral polio vaccine (OPV), and ensure protection against all types of polio viruses.
IPV is produced from wild-type poliovirus strains of each serotype that have been inactivated (killed) with formalin. As an injectable vaccine, it can be administered alone or in combination with other vaccines.
- IPV provides serum immunity to all three types of poliovirus, resulting in protection against paralytic poliomyelitis.
- IPV is an evidence-based intervention that not only ensures continued protection of children against all types of polio viruses, but also helps save vaccine — a move bound to positively impact global vaccine supply in the coming years.
- Studies have confirmed that two fractional doses (one fractional dose is one-fifth of a full dose) of IPV, given twice to infants — first at the age of six weeks and then at 14 weeks — provide the same protection against all polio viruses as does one full dose of IPV.
- India became the first country globally to introduce fractional doses of IPV in childhood immunisation programme in eight states and Union territories in early 2016.
Paper 2 Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
Complete disciplinary inquiries in time: Central Vigilance Commission to departments
Irked over delay in completion of departmental inquiries, the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) has asked all departments to ensure that such proceedings are completed in time.
- The commission has observed that all departmental inquiries need to be completed in time so that an honest employee is not harassed.
As per rules, a departmental inquiry against a government employee needs to be completed within six months and a final decision has to be taken by authorities concerned on it in the next two months. However, the Commission has observed that the conduct and finalisation of departmental inquiry proceedings are unduly delayed and even after receipt of Inquiry Officer’s report, further processing for its consideration and final orders of the respective disciplinary authorities take long time.
In a study conducted by the Commission, it has been noticed that while the average time taken by the administrative authorities in finalisation of disciplinary proceedings is more than two years, the maximum time taken in a particular case was eight years and at least in 22% cases the inquiry took more than two years.
Basic facts: 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.
Facts for Prelims
Dr. Jitendra Singh chairs 29th meeting of SCOVA:
- Union Minister Dr. Jitendra Singh recently chaired the 29th meeting of the Standing Committee of Voluntary Agencies (SCOVA).
- The SCOVA meeting is organised by the Department of Pensions & Pensioners’ Welfare (DoP&PW), Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions.
- On the recommendations of Parliamentary Consultative Committee, DoPPW constituted a Standing Committee of Voluntary Agencies (SCOVA) in 1986. SCOVA is a mechanism for consultation with, or representation by, the members of the Pensioners Associations.
- SCOVA consists of 15 Non-official members (5 Standing Group and 10 Rotating Group Members) represented by the Pensioners Associations from various Ministries/Departments/Regions/States etc.
- Official Members are representatives of various Ministries/Departments of Government of India. It is a useful forum for holding consultation with the stakeholders i.e the pensioners through their Associations and concerned Ministries/Departments.
- It provides the Associations an opportunity for raising their issues concerning pensioners’ welfare etc. directly before the concerned Ministries/Departments.
Successful Test Firing of Guided Pinaka:
- The Pinaka Rocket converted to a Guided Pinaka was successfully test-fired from Launch Complex-III, ITR, Chandipur recently.
- The Pinaka Rocket Mark-II, which evolved from Pinaka Mark-I is equipped with a navigation, guidance and control kit and has been transformed to a Guided Pinaka. This conversion has considerably enhanced the range and accuracy of Pinaka.
- The Guided Pinaka is developed jointly by ARDE Pune, RCI Hyderabad and DRDL Hyderabad. ITR Chandipur provided the range and launch support.
China commissions sophisticated, round-the-clock naval reconnaissance ship:
- China’s Navy has commissioned a sophisticated electronic reconnaissance ship, capable of conducting all-weather, round-the-clock observation on multiple targets.
- The new ship is named CNS Kaiyangxing, or Mizar.
- The Kaiyangxing is capable of conducting all-weather, round-the-clock reconnaissance on multiple and different targets.