Insights Daily Current Affairs, 28 April 2017

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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 28 April 2017


 

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

 

Legislation against Doping

 

Advocating a zero tolerance policy towards doping, Sports Minister Vijay Goel has asked the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) to consider the possibility of making it a criminal offence.

  • The minister has also directed NADA, the Indian Olympic Association, the National Sports Federations and the Sports Authority of India (SAI) to adopt a policy of ‘Zero tolerance’ towards doping.
  • NADA has also been directed to sensitise the players at grassroots level about the ill-effects of doping through regular seminars and information campaigns at schools and colleges.

doping

About 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.

 

About WADA:

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is a foundation initiated by the International Olympic Committee based in Canada to promote, coordinate and monitor the fight against drugs in sports. The agency’s key activities include scientific research, education, development of anti-doping capacities, and monitoring of the World Anti-Doping Code, whose provisions are enforced by the UNESCO International Convention against Doping in Sport.

Government of India is one of the Foundation Members of World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) (1999-2002).

 

What else you need to know?

Given that many governments cannot be legally bound by a non-governmental document such as the World Anti-Doping Code, they are implementing it by individually ratifying the UNESCO International Convention against Doping in Sport, the first global international treaty against doping in sport, which was unanimously adopted by 191 governments at the UNESCO General Conference in October 2005 and came into force in February 2007.

The UNESCO Convention is a practical and legally binding tool enabling governments to align domestic policy with the World Anti-Doping Code, thus harmonizing the rules governing anti-doping in sport.

It formalizes governments’ commitment to the fight against doping in sport, including by facilitating doping controls and supporting national testing programs; encouraging the establishment of “best practice” in the labelling, marketing, and distribution of products that might contain prohibited substances; withholding financial support from those who engage in or support doping; taking measures against manufacturing and trafficking; encouraging the establishment of codes of conduct for professions relating to sport and anti-doping; and funding education and research.

 

Sources: pib.


 

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

 

Lokpal panel: CJI among equals

 

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.

supreme-court

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.

 

What else has the court said?

  • 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.

 

Implementation of the act:

Terming the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act of 2013 an “eminently workable piece of legislation”, the court asked the government to proceed ahead with the appointment of Lokpal Chairperson and members even in the absence of a recognised Leader of Opposition (LoP).

The judgment goes against the very logic of the government’s argument that appointment of Lokpal Chairperson and members is not currently possible, and would have to wait till the 2013 Act is amended to replace the LoP with the single largest Opposition party leader.

 

Highlights of the Lokpal Act of 2013:

  • The Act allows setting up of anti-corruption ombudsman called Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayukta at the State-level.
  • The Lokpal will consist of a chairperson and a maximum of eight members.
  • The Lokpal will cover all categories of public servants, including the Prime Minister. But the armed forces do not come under the ambit of Lokpal.
  • The Act also incorporates provisions for attachment and confiscation of property acquired by corrupt means, even while the prosecution is pending.
  • The States will have to institute Lokayukta within one year of the commencement of the Act.
  • The Act also ensures that public servants who act as whistleblowers are protected.

 

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.

 

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.

 

Judicial performance index proposed

 

NITI Aayog has proposed a slew of measures in its recently released draft three-year action plan to improve judicial performance and policing in the country.

NITI Aayog

Proposed measures to improve judicial performance:

  • A judicial performance index should be introduced to reduce delays. This could help High Courts and their chief justices keep track of the performance and processes at district courts and subordinate levels for reducing delay.
  • The performance index for courts will entail fixing of ‘non-mandatory time frames for different types of cases to benchmark when a case has been delayed.’
  • The index can also include certain progress on process steps already approved by High Courts and such an annual evaluation should give judges in High Courts ‘a sense of where they are failing and what they need to fix.’
  • 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.
  • Repeal all irrelevant legislation by March 2019 and reform land ownership laws — which account for 67% of litigants in civil suits.
  • 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.

       

Measures to improve policing:

  • 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.
  • Functions such as serving court summons and antecedents and address verification for passport applications or job verifications can be outsourced.
  • 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.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

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

 

India, Sri Lanka ink key agreement on economic cooperation

 

Following an overarching Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed recently between India and Sri Lanka, both sides will collaborate in a host of energy and infrastructure projects across the island. The MoU provides a road map that will require further discussions.

india-srilanka

The MoU includes:

  • Setting up of a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) plant in suburban Colombo and a solar power plant in Sampur in Trincomalee.
  • Indian assistance to enhanced use of natural gas in Sri Lanka.
  • Joint investment in the petroleum sector and partnerships in highways and transportation, the spotlight remains on the proposed joint venture to develop a World War-era oil storage facility in Trincomalee, the strategically located port town on the island’s east coast.
  • As per the MoU, the countries will also jointly set up Industrial Zones and Special Economic Zones in Sri Lanka. Colombo has been keen on attracting Indian investment into the island.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 3 Topic: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

 

PM launches low-cost flights

 

The first flight under the UDAN —Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik — scheme for regional connectivity was recently inaugurated by the PM.

Project-UDAN

Key facts:

  • The first UDAN flight was inaugurated on the Shimla-Delhi route.
  • The Shimla-Delhi flight is operated by Alliance Air, a subsidiary of Air India.
  • The fare for 24 seats onteh flight has been fixed at Rs. 2,036.
  • Air India will receive a subsidy of Rs. 3,340 per passenger from the government for capping the fare.
  • The government will collect 80% of the subsidy by charging a levy of up to Rs. 50 per ticket on flights deployed on the national route. The remaining 20% will come from respective State governments.

 

Background:

Five airlines —SpiceJet, Alliance Air, TruJet, Air Deccan and Air Odisha Aviation — recently won bids to fly 128 routes connecting 70 airports under the regional connectivity scheme.

 

About UDAN:

Udan is a market-based policy intervention that builds on similar programmes in the US, Canada and Australia. It is also consistent with universal service approaches established for other network-based services such as railways and telecom.

  • The objective of the Scheme is to make flying affordable for the masses, to promote tourism, increase employment and promote balanced regional growth. It also intends to put life into un-served and under-served airports.
  • It offers viability gap funding to operators to fly smaller aircraft to such airports with a commitment to price tickets for at least half of the seats at ₹2,500 for an hour-long flight.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

 

Flexible pension for informal staff mooted

 

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.

old labour

Need for flexibility and specific scheme:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Young girls are labourers who work on a daily basis and are unsure of whether they would be employed the next day.
  • 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.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

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

 

Bhutan out of vehicle pact

 

BBIN-Map

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.

  • 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.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

Facts for Prelims:

 

Poet Shankha Ghosh conferred Jnanpith Award:

  • Eminent Bengali poet and literary critic Sankha Ghosh has been conferred the 52nd Jnanpith Award.
  • He is also a Sahitya Akademi awardee. Ghosh was also honoured with Padma Bhushan in 2011.
  • The Jnanpith Award is one of the prestigious literary honours in the country. The award was instituted in 1961.
  • Eligibility: Any Indian citizen who writes in any of the official languages of India is eligible for the honour.

 

All-woman battalion:

  • The Centre has decided to raise an all-woman India Reserve Battalion (IRB) in Jammu and Kashmir to tackle women stone throwers.
  • The all women contingent will be among the five IRBs sanctioned by the Centre for the State last year.
  • The women battalion would also be assigned other law and order duties but its personnel will be primarily deployed for tackling protesters.
  • The IRBs are being raised to provide jobs to the local youths with 60% of the vacancies to be filled with candidates from the border districts. The cost of raising each battalion is around Rs. 61 crore, and 75% of the expenditure will be borne by the Centre.
  • IRB personnel are normally deployed in their respective States but they can be sent elsewhere if required.