Insights Daily Current Affairs, 24 March 2017

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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 24 March 2017


 

Paper 2 Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.

NCST Approves Proposal for Five Additional Seats for Tribals in Sikkim Assembly

National Commission for Schedule Tribes (NCST) has approved the proposal for five additional seat for tribals in Sikkim assembly.

  • Out of the proposed additional eight seats, five seats would be reserved for Limbu and Tamang tribes.
  • At present there are 32 members in Sikkim assembly and it would be increased to 40. Reserve seats for STs are increased from 12 to 17.

 

About NCST:

NCST was established by amending Article 338 and inserting a new Article 338A in the Constitution through the Constitution (89th Amendment) Act, 2003. By this amendment, the erstwhile National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes was replaced by two separate Commissions namely- (i) the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC), and (ii) the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST).

  • The term of office of Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson and each member is three years from the date of assumption of charge. The Chairperson has been given the rank of Union Cabinet Minister and the Vice-Chairperson that of a Minister of State and other Members have the ranks of a Secretary to the Government of India.
  • NCST is empowered to investigate and monitor matters relating to safeguards provided for STs under the Constitution or under other laws or under Govt. order. The Commission is also authorized to inquire into specific complaints relating to rights and safeguards of STs and to participate and advise in the Planning Process relating to socio-economic development of STs and to evaluate the progress of their development under the Union and States.
  • The commission submits its report to the President annually on the working of safeguards and measures required for effective implementation of Programmers/ Schemes relating to welfare and socio-economic development of STs.

 

Sources: pib.


 

 Paper 3 Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

 

Sea ice hits record winter low

sea ice

According to a study conducted by scientists, the sea ice cover in the Arctic and the Antarctic has hit new record lows for this time of year, marking the smallest polar ice caps in the 38-year satellite record.

 

What’s the issue?

The ice floating in the Arctic Ocean grows and shrinks on a seasonal cycle, reaching its largest size in March and its smallest at the end of the summer melt in September. However, this march the ice cover reached “a record low wintertime maximum extent.” This year’s Arctic maximum spanned 14.42 million sq.km. That is 95,829 sq.km. below the previous record low in 2015. When scientists take account of the average sea ice extent for 1981-2010, this year’s ice cover is 12,19,884 sq.km. smaller. The Arctic sea ice maximum has dropped by an average of 2.8% per decade since 1979.

Besides, sea ice around Antarctica has also hit its lowest extent ever recorded by satellites in the Southern Hemisphere. In the Antarctic, this year’s record low annual sea ice minimum was 21,10,840 sq.km. That was 1,83,889 sq.km. below the previous lowest minimum extent in the satellite record, which occurred in 1997.

 

Concerns:

The disappearing sea ice comes as the planet has marked three years in a row of record-breaking heat, raising new concerns about the accelerating pace of global warming and the need to curb burning of fossil fuels which spew heat-trapping greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 3 Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

 

Jobs impact of ‘Make In India’ under review

Make in India

The Centre is working on a ‘compliance report” of its flagship ‘Make In India’ (MII) initiative that attempts to transform India into a global design and manufacturing hub as well as generate large-scale employment.

  • The objective of the exercise, among other things, is to find out whether the government departments and agencies implementing the MII programme are meeting the deadlines envisaged in the ‘MII Action Plan’ of December 2014.

 

Background:

The MII initiative covers 25 focus sectors ranging from automobiles to wellness. At a national workshop held in December 2014 on these 25 sectors, an Action Plan was finalised with the help of Secretaries to the Indian Government as well as industry leaders. The ‘MII Action Plan’ had set short-term (one year) and medium-term (three years) targets “to boost investments in the 25 sectors” and to “raise the contribution of the manufacturing sector to 25% of the GDP by 2020.”

 

Need for assessment:

Recently, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce wanted an assessment to be done on how the MII initiative has helped the country’s micro, small and medium enterprises.

  • It recommended that dedicated steps should be taken to ensure that FDI promotes the MSME sector, and sought to know the factors behind the Foreign Portfolio Investments turning negative and its impact on the Indian industry.
  • The panel also wanted to learn if the MII initiative has seized the opportunity of demographic dividend in the country.

 

Manufacturing potential of India:

As per the National Manufacturing Policy, “the share of manufacturing in India’s GDP has stagnated at 15%-16% since 1980 while the share of comparable economies in Asia is much higher at 25%-34%.”

According to the India Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF), “India’s manufacturing sector has the potential to touch $1 trillion by 2025. There is potential for the sector to account for 25-30% of the country’s GDP and create up to 90 million domestic jobs by 2025.”

 

Way ahead:

Manufacturing growth in the country has to become robust. However, the manufacturing sector has grown only by an average of 1.6% in the last five years till 2015-16. Appropriate measures should be taken to revive the growth.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

 

India wants to hasten talks on proposed global services pact

wto

India has asked WTO to expedite the negotiation process for a global services pact, that among other things, aims to ease norms for movement of skilled workers across borders.

 

Background:

India had, in February, submitted to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) a legally-vetted proposal for a Trade Facilitation in Services (TFS) Agreement. The proposal was taken up by an expert committee at the WTO headquarters in Geneva recently, and it will be considered for discussion by all the WTO members.

 

About TFS agreement:

The proposed pact is similar to the WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) in Goods, that recently came into force, and aims to ease customs norms to boost global goods trade.

  • India had specified that the proposed TFS pact is also about ‘facilitation,’ that is “making market access ‘effective’ and commercially meaningful and not about ‘new’ (or greater) market access.”
  • The proposed TFS, among other things, aims to ensure portability of social security contributions and cross-border insurance coverage to boost medical tourism.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.

 

NCLT gives nod for Cairn-Vedanta merger

NCLT

The National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) has approved the metals and mining firm Vedanta’s merger with its cash-rich oil subsidiary Cairn India, paving the way for the formation of the fourth-largest resource company in the world after BHP Billiton, RioTinto and Glencore Plc.

 

 

About NCLT:

The Central Government constituted National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) under section 408 of the Companies Act, 2013 in June 2016. It is a successor body of the Company Law Board.

 

Powers of NCLT:

  • Most of the powers of the Company Law Board under the Companies Act, 1956.
  • All the powers of BIFR for revival and rehabilitation of sick industrial companies.
  • Power of High Court in the matters of mergers, demergers, amalgamations, winding up, etc.
  • Power to order repayment of deposits accepted by Non-Banking Financial Companies.
  • Power to wind up companies.
  • Power to Review its own orders.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 3 Topic: Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.

 

‘Help speed up resolution of commercial disputes’

 

The Central government has urged the Supreme Court to provide the necessary leadership for expeditious and effective resolution of commercial disputes in Delhi and Mumbai lower courts, through e-filing and e-service of summons and adherence to time lines.

 

What needs to be done?

The Supreme Court could provide the necessary leadership for the proper implementation of the existing provisions of the Civil Procedure Code relating to the grant of adjournments, adherence to time lines and electronic filing and electronic service of summons in city courts of Delhi (11) and Mumbai (60) immediately.

Doing so will go a long way in providing timely and effective enforcement of contracts and this will undoubtedly ensure a marked improvement in our ranking.

 

Background:

The government has accorded high priority to improving the ease of doing business and making India a favourable investment destination for the domestic as well as global investors. Efficient and effective delivery of justice play a key role.

 

Ease of doing business in India:

The World Bank publishes a report on “Doing Business” on annual basis, which compares the business regulations across 190 economies. As per the report published by the World Bank in September 2016, India’s overall ranking improved from 131 in 2016 to 130 in 2017. The overall ranking is an average of the various sub-indicators on the basis of which the countries have been ranked. These sub-indicators include the time taken to start a business, time taken to get construction permits, paying taxes and enforcing contracts.

The “Enforcing Contract” indicator in the report measures the time and cost for resolving a standardised commercial dispute through a local court of first instance, which for the purpose of the ranking is the Delhi district court and Mumbai city civil court as of now.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.

 

Corporate funding norms for political parties eased

corporate funding

The government has moved several amendments to the Finance Bill of 2017. In a significant change to electoral funding norms, corporate donations to political parties will no longer face any ceiling linked to firms’ profitability and companies will no longer be obliged to inform their shareholders which party’s coffers they contribute to.

 

Key facts:

  • The government has also included an amendment to the Companies Act of 2013 to do away with the 7.5% of net profits limit set on donations and the requirement for a company to disclose the name of political parties to which they donate.
  • A clause has also been inserted in the Companies law to make it mandatory for all corporate donations to political parties to be made by a cheque, electronic means, a bank draft or any other instrument notified by the government.

 

Present scenario:

As of now, companies can only contribute up to 7.5% of their average net profits in the past three financial years to political parties. Moreover, they are required to disclose the amount of contributions made and the names of the political parties to which they were made, in their profit and loss accounts.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.

 

National Commission for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes Gets Approved By Cabinet 

 

The Union cabinet has approved setting up of National Commission for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes replacing the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC). This requires amending the Constitution and inserting Article 338B for setting up the new commission.

A bill in this regard will be proposed. The bill to be introduced in Parliament 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.

 

Background:

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.

 

Sources: The Hindu, Times of India


Facts for Prelims:

World TB Day 2017:

  • World TB Day, falling on March 24th each year, is designed to build public awareness that tuberculosis today remains an epidemic in much of the world, causing the deaths of nearly one-and-a-half million people each year, mostly in developing countries.
  • It commemorates the day in 1882 when Dr Robert Koch astounded the scientific community by announcing that he had discovered the cause of tuberculosis, the TB bacillus. Koch’s discovery opened the way towards diagnosing and curing TB.
  • The theme of World TB Day 2017 is “Unite to End TB.”