Insights Daily Current Events, 08 September 2015
Paper 2 Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability.
‘PAC needs more teeth and transparency’
The chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, on the eve of a two-day conference of PAC chiefs of legislatures, said that PAC needs more teeth and greater transparency in its functioning.
- The all-India PAC conference is usually held every five years.
Aim of the conference:
In the conference, PAC chiefs from across the country deliberate on issues such as how to make the government implement the recommendations of the committee and whether PAC meetings should be held with the media in attendance.
Public Accounts Committee: Fact sheet
- The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is a committee of selected members of Parliament, constituted by the Parliament of India, for the auditing of the expenditure of the Government of India.
- The Committee is formed every year with strength of not more than 22 members of which 15 are from Lok Sabha and 7 from Rajya Sabha.
- The Chairman is appointed by the Speaker of Lok Sabha. Since 1967, the chairman of the committee is selected from the opposition. Earlier, it was headed by a member of the ruling party.
- Its chief function is to examine the audit report of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) after it is laid in the Parliament. CAG assists the committee during the course of investigation.
- A Minister is not eligible to be elected as a member of the Committee and if a member, after his election to the Committee, is appointed as a Minister, he ceases to be a member of the Committee from the date of such appointment.
- The term of office of members of the Committee does not exceed one year at a time.
- The Committee is assisted by the Comptroller and Auditor General in the examination of Accounts and Audit Reports.
Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.
Paper 1 and 2 Topic: Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India and Security challenges and their management in border areas.
Persecuted minorities from Bangladesh, Pak. can stay on
The Ministry of Home Affairs has issued a notification allowing persecuted minorities from Bangladesh and Pakistan to stay in India even after expiry of their visas on humanitarian grounds.
- The Centre has decided, on humanitarian considerations, to exempt Bangladeshi and Pakistani nationals belonging to minority communities who have entered India on or before December 31, 2014, in respect of their entry and stay in India without proper documents or after the expiry of relevant documents.
- The decision has been taken under Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 and Foreigners Act, 1946.
- The issue of regularisation of entry and stay of minority Communities from Bangladesh and Pakistan has been under consideration of the central government. There has been no exact numbers of such minority refugees from these countries but officials put the figure of around two lakh Hindu and Sikh refugees from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan living in India.
- There are some reports which show that a number of Bangladeshi and Pakistani nationals belonging to minority communities in those countries, such as Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Jains, Parsis and Buddhists, have taken shelter in India due to religious persecution or fear of religious persecution.They have entered India either without any document, including passport, or with valid documents but the validity of such document has expired.
- There are 400 Pakistani Hindu refugee settlements in cities like Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Bikaner and Jaipur. Hindu refugees from Bangladesh mostly live in West Bengal and northeastern States.
Sources: The Hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
Environment Ministry Directs CPCB to Ensure Better Implementation of Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991
The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has issued directions under the provisions of the Water Act and the Air Act to Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to ensure better implementation of Public Liability Insurance (PLI) Act, 1991.
What does PLI Act say?
- The Public Liability Insurance (PLI) Act, 1991 makes it obligatory upon the user industries handling 179 types of chemicals and compounds and other classes of flammable substances to subscribe a special insurance policy to cover the liabilities likely to arise on account of any chemical (industrial) disaster/accident and payable to those affected people who are not the workers on ‘no fault basis’/ ‘absolute liability’.
- The Act establishes an Environment Relief Fund (ERF), which is subscribed by all such user industries by an amount equal to the annual premium amount of such insurance policies.
Implication of these directions:
- The directions, issued by the Environment Ministry, ensure that all the liable handling user industries subscribe to the PLI insurance policy and deposit the prescribed amount in Environment Relief Fund (ERF).
- CPCB, in turn, will issue directions to all the SPCBs to ensure that Consent to Establish (CTE) or The Consent to Operate (CTO) is not granted or renewed to any such industry, which do not comply with the obligation under PLI Act, 1991.
- CPCB will also direct the SPCBs and PCCs to ensure that SPCBs/PCCs will necessarily include PLI insurance policy as one of the check points. SPCBs and PCCs will submit a compliance report to CPCB. The CPCB will submit the first compliance report within 60 days and the quarterly progress report till next three years to the Central Government thereafter.
PLI Act is administered by the Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change.
Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) is a statutory organization under the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF).
- It was established in 1974 under Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974.
- The board is led by its chairman, who is nominated by the Central Government.
- CPCB is entrusted with the powers and functions under the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981.
- It provides technical services to the Ministry of Environment and Forests of the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
- It Co-ordinates the activities of the State Boards by providing technical assistance and guidance and resolve disputes among them.
- It is an apex organization in country in the field of pollution control, as technical wing of MoEF.
- The agency also works with industries and all levels of government in a wide variety of voluntary pollution prevention programs and energy conservation efforts.
- It advise the central government to prevent and control water and air pollution. It also advise the Governments of Union Territories about an industry or the pollution source causing water and air pollution.
- CPCB along with its counterparts State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) are responsible for implementation of legislations relating to prevention and control of environmental pollution.
Sources: PIB, CPCB.
Paper 2 Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests.
No big yuan effect on India, says economist
Andrew Freris, chief executive officer of Econosis Advisory, a Hong Kong-based advisory firm, has said that Yuan devaluation might have very little or no effect on India.
- Foreigners cannot be attracted to Indian equity markets because of the poor state of the Chinese market. Foreign investors will buy Indian paper on the basis of its valuation and on the basis of macroeconomic expectations, and not because China is having a crisis
- Yuan devaluation will have a limited impact on India’s export competitiveness because of the little overlap between the countries.
- Yuan devaluation is too small to make a significant difference.
- Petroleum products and jewellery account for roughly 30% of India’s exports. In contrast, over 40% of China’s exports are mechanical and electronic goods. Further, unlike India, where agricultural products account for 10% of exports, China exports little or no agricultural produce. This lack of product overlap reduces potential gains or losses on account of fluctuations in the value of the yuan.
China, in August 2015, had devalued its currency yuan against US dollar. This devaluation had sent shock waves through global markets. Analysts contended that China is devaluing its currency to improve its export competitiveness. This move, many argue, will have far-reaching ramifications for countries like India.