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Insights Daily Current Events, 01 January 2015

Insights Daily Current Events, 01 January 2015

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Probe agencies want single anti-terror mechanism

Investigating agencies have recommended the setting up of a central anti-terror mechanism placing intelligence and investigation wings under a single command.

Why?

  • For more coordinated action against emerging internal security challenges.

Such unified body would consist of:

  • The intelligence gathering, analysis and dissemination wing;
  • Forensic divisions; and
  • Investigation and prosecution wings

It is expected to be created through an executive order.

Other suggestions made:

  • The Multi Agency Centre and the operations wings of the Intelligence Bureau, other than those dealing with political intelligence, be brought under the new setup.

Arguments in opposition to the proposed idea:

  • Many IB officers have expressed reservations about such a mechanism. They also have concerns about the safety and security of field officers and the secrecy of covert operations

Arguing for insulating the intelligence wing from any vulnerability under the proposed single command, some security experts said all the divisions could function independently.

Background:

  • It was after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack that the then Home Minister suggested setting up of the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC), on the lines of the one in the United States and the British Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre, for coordinated counter-terror operations. However, concerned that such an agency could well be abused by the Centre for political ends, many Chief Ministers struck down the idea primarily because the unit was to function under the Intelligence Bureau and, unlike the U.S. agency, it would be empowered to conduct searches and arrests under Sections 43 and 43A of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.
  • In 2012, the Centre came up with an office memorandum defining the functions, powers and duties of the NCTC as a single and effective point of control and coordination of all counter-terrorism measures, which would work through the existing agencies in the country.

Sources: The Hindu.

32 websites go blank

Department of Telecommunications has issued Instructions to Internet service providers in the country directing them to block 32 websites on data archiving, video sharing and software development.

The DoT invoked Section 69A (power of blocking public access to Internet contents) of the Information Technology Act and the Information Technology (Procedures and Safeguards for Blocking of Access of Information by Public) Rules to issue the directive.

Why websites were blocked?

  • The blocking of websites was linked to the Islamic State (IS) recruitment issue. There have been “instances” of recruitment of youth from Maharashtra to the IS in Iraq.
  • The ban came on the basis of a request by the State Anti-Terrorism Squad.

Web contents are often blocked for objectionable/communally inflammatory contents. They are also blocked either on court orders or on the direct request of security agencies, which also approach the agencies concerned for the same through the Home Ministry. In the recent past, websites posting IS propaganda material have been a cause of concern.

Sources: The Hindu.

Centre moots health as a fundamental right

The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has suggested making health a fundamental right, similar to education. This key proposal in the draft National Health Policy, 2015, suggests making denial of health an offence.

About the New draft policy:

  • It has addressed the issues of universal health coverage, reducing maternal mortality and infant mortality, access to free drugs and diagnostics, and changes in laws to make them more relevant.
  • The draft policy proposes that “the Centre shall enact, after due discussion and on the request of three or more States (using the same legal clause as used for the Clinical Establishments Bill), a National Health Rights Act, which will make ensuring health as a fundamental right, whose denial will be justiciable.
  • The States would voluntarily opt to adopt this by a resolution of their Legislative Assembly. The States which have achieved a per capita public health expenditure rate of over Rs. 3,800 per capita (at current prices) should be in a position to deliver on this — and though many States are some distance away, there are States which are approaching or have even reached this target.
  • On the issue of increasing health spending, the draft says it accepts and endorses the understanding that a full achievement of the millennium development goals will require an increase in public health expenditure from 4 to 5 per cent of the GDP.

International covenants:

Many of the developing nations that have made significant progress towards universal health coverage, such as Brazil and Thailand, have made it a Fundamental Right, and such a law is a major contributory factor.

Need for such law:

  • A number of international covenants to which India is joint signatory give it a mandate.
  • Courts have also rulings that, in effect, see health care as a fundamental right — and a constitutional obligation flowing out of the right to life.

Suggestions made in the Draft:

  • Given that the NHP 2002 target of 2 per cent was not met, and taking into account the financial capacity of the country to provide this amount and the institutional capacity to utilise the increased funding in an effective manner, this policy proposes a potentially achievable target of raising public health expenditure to 2.5 per cent of the GDP.
  • 40 per cent of the expenditures would need to come from Central expenditures. At current prices, a target of 2.5 per cent of the GDP translates to Rs. 3,800 per capita, representing an almost four-fold increase in five years. Thus, a longer time frame may be appropriate to even reach this modest target.

Sources: The Hindu.

Core sector growth at five-month high

The growth rate of eight core sector industries rose to five-month high of 6.7 per cent in November on the back of better output in coal, refinery products, electricity and cement.

The eight core sector industries are— coal, crude oil, natural gas, refinery products, fertilizer, steel, cement and electricity.

Coal, refinery products, electricity and cement production registered a growth of 14.5 per cent, 8.1 per cent, 10.2 per cent and 11.3 per cent, respectively in November, as per the data released by the Commerce and Industry Ministry. Steel output during the month under review declined to 1.3 per cent from 10.1 per cent in the same month last year. However, crude oil, natural gas and fertilizer were in the negative zone.

Quick facts:

The core sector contributes 38 per cent in the overall industrial production a parameter that RBI takes into account while framing its monetary policy.

Sources: The Hindu.