Insights Daily Current Events, 09 September 2015
Paper 2 and 3 Topics: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies Infrastructure and environment conservation.
NH stretches to turn green corridors
The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) has come up with an initiative which aims at turning National Highways (NH) stretches into Green Corridors.
The National Highway (NH) stretches will be made green corridors by planting trees, landscaping, and laying grass turfs and ornamental shrubs.
- This initiative to make the NH stretches eco-friendly is part of the green highways policy to “tree-line” 96,000 km of NHs across the country.
- Funding: A Green Highways Fund would be set apart utilising 1% of the civil work cost while arriving at total road project cost.
- The funds to be transferred to the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) would be used exclusively for plantation and maintenance on all NH stretches being developed on the Engineering Procurement Construction (EPC) and Build Operate Transfer (BOT) mode.
- The NHAI will act as Fund Manager for maintaining the account and for release of the payments made by the Regional Officer or Project Director based on the recommendation of the monitoring agency-Indian Highways Management Company Ltd (IHMCL).
- Initially, at least one NH corridor in each State would be taken up for model plantation, which would be replicated in other stretches subsequently. The plantation and maintenance would be done through empanelled agencies of MoRTH through competitive bidding.
- The Green Highways (Plantation and Maintenance) Policy, 2015 will be effective for all the new NH projects to be sanctioned from September this year.
The Indian road network of 33 lakh kms is the second largest in the world and consists of about 96,000 kms of NHs, which constitute only 1.7% of the road network but carry about 40% of the total road traffic.
The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is an autonomous agency of the Government of India, responsible for management of a network of over 70,000 km of National Highways in India. It is a nodal agency of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.
- The NHAI was created through the promulgation of the National Highways Authority of India Act, 1988. In February 1995, the Authority was formally made an autonomous body.
- It is responsible for the development, maintenance, management and operation of National Highways.
Sources: The Hindu, NHAI.
Paper 2 Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
Agriculture Expert Ramesh Chand appointed as new full time member of NITI Aayog
The Prime Minister has approved the appointment of agriculture expert Prof Ramesh Chand as one of the full-time members in the NITI Aayog.
- Ramesh Chand has been a member of a task force on agriculture development under NITI Aayog which is formulating strategies to give a boost to the agriculture sector. He has also headed a government panel on Minimum Support Price and has been working as Director of National Institute of Agricultural Economics and Policy Research (NIAP) in New Delhi since 2010.
- Noted economist Aravind Panagariya was recently appointed as the Vice Chairman of the Aayog.
The National Institution for Transforming India, NITI Aayog under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been set up in place of Planning Commission.
Aim of the NITI Aayog:
To foster involvement and participation in the economic policy-making process by state governments of India, a “bottom-up” approach in contrast to the Planning Commission’s tradition of “top-down” decision-making.
The NITI Aayog will comprise the following:
- Prime Minister of India as the Chairperson
- Governing Council comprising the Chief Ministers of all the States and Lt. Governors of Union Territories
- Regional Councils will be formed to address specific issues and contingencies impacting more than one state or a region. These will be formed for a specified tenure. The Regional Councils will be convened by the Prime Minister and will comprise of the Chief Ministers of States and Lt. Governors of Union Territories in the region. These will be chaired by the Chairperson of the NITI Aayog or his nominee.
- Experts, specialists and practitioners with relevant domain knowledge as special invitees nominated by the Prime Minister
The full-time organizational framework will comprise of, in addition to the Prime Minister as the Chairperson:
- Vice-Chairperson: To be appointed by the Prime Minister
- Members: Full-time
- Part-time members: Maximum of 2 from leading universities research organizations and other relevant institutions in an ex-officio capacity. Part time members will be on a rotational basis.
- Ex Officio members: Maximum of 4 members of the Union Council of Ministers to be nominated by the Prime Minister.
- Chief Executive Officer : To be appointed by the Prime Minister for a fixed tenure, in the rank of Secretary to the Government of India.
Sources: PIB, NITI, Wiki.
Paper 2 Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
CCI imposes Penalty
Competition Commission of India (CCI) has imposed a penalty of over Rs 1.86 lakh on Kerala Film Exhibitors Federation (KFEF) and two of its office-bearers.
The conduct of Kerala Film Exhibitors Federation (KFEF), an association of theatre owners, has amounted to limiting and restricting the provision of films in the market. The federation had denied screening of other language movies. Such denial of other language movies for screening was in violation of competition norms under the Competition Act, 2002.
The Calicut-based Crown Theatre had complained that the federation indulged in anti-competitive conduct by not allowing screening of Malayalam and Tamil films in the theatre since May 2013.
Competition Commission of India is a body of the Government of India responsible for enforcing The Competition Act, 2002 throughout India and to prevent activities that have an adverse effect on competition in India. It was established on 14 October 2003. It became fully functional in May 2009.
- The objectives of the Act are sought to be achieved through the Competition Commission of India (CCI).
- CCI consists of a Chairperson and 6 Members appointed by the Central Government.
- The duty of the Commission is to eliminate practices having adverse effect on competition, promote and sustain competition, protect the interests of consumers and ensure freedom of trade in the markets of India.
- The Commission is also required to give opinion on competition issues on a reference received from a statutory authority established under any law and to undertake competition advocacy, create public awareness and impart training on competition issues.
- The Competition Act, 2002 prohibits anti-competitive agreements, abuse of dominant position by enterprises and regulates combinations (acquisition, acquiring of control and Merger and acquisition), which causes or likely to cause an appreciable adverse effect on competition within India.
To achieve its objectives, the Competition Commission of India endeavours to do the following:
- Make the markets work for the benefit and welfare of consumers.
- Ensure fair and healthy competition in economic activities in the country for faster and inclusive growth and development of economy.
- Implement competition policies with an aim to effectuate the most efficient utilization of economic resources.
- Develop and nurture effective relations and interactions with sectoral regulators to ensure smooth alignment of sectoral regulatory laws in tandem with the competition law.
- Effectively carry out competition advocacy and spread the information on benefits of competition among all stakeholders to establish and nurture competition culture in Indian economy.
Sources: PIB, CCI.
Paper 3 Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.
India Favours Multi-Stakeholder Model for Internet Governance Mechanisms
The Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology recently held consultations with various stakeholders with a view to preserve the character of the Internet as a unified, dynamic engine for innovation and to encourage equity and inclusion.
- The Ministry has clarified that India is in favour of a multi-stakeholder model for Internet Governance Mechanisms.
- During the meeting, the stakeholders discussed issues for enhancing the accountability of the Internet Corporation Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
- Many stakeholders appreciated the transition of Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions from the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to the Global Multi-stakeholder Community as a positive development.
- The meeting concluded with a call to all stakeholders to participate actively in all global processes keeping in mind the perspectives of the Indian communities.
About the Internet Corporation Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN):
- ICANN is the global body that oversees operation and administration of the Internet domain name system.
- ICANN was formed in 1998.
- It is a not-for-profit partnership of people from all over the world dedicated to keeping the Internet secure, stable and interoperable. It promotes competition and develops policy on the Internet’s unique identifiers.
- ICANN doesn’t control content on the Internet. It cannot stop spam and it doesn’t deal with access to the Internet. But through its coordination role of the Internet’s naming system, it does have an important impact on the expansion and evolution of the Internet.
- It is responsible for coordinating the maintenance and methodologies of several databases, with unique identifiers, related to the namespaces of the Internet – and thereby, ensuring the network’s stable and secure operation.
- ICANN is governed by an internationally diverse Board of Directors overseeing the policy development process. ICANN’s President directs an international staff, working from three continents, who ensure that ICANN meets its operational commitment to the Internet community.
Sources: PIB, Wiki.
Paper 2 Topic: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes.
Government sets March 2016 target of 100 per cent literacy in villages
The government has set a target of achieving 100% literacy in villages adopted under the Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana by March 2016.
- The HRD ministry is collaborating with the MPs who have adopted villages located in 410 districts. It has made an appeal to state and district representatives to take pledge for their respective operational areas.
Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana:
It is a village development project under which each Member of Parliament will take the responsibility of developing physical and institutional infrastructure in three villages by 2019.
- The goal is to develop three Adarsh Grams or model villages by March 2019, of which one would be achieved by 2016. Thereafter, five such Adarsh Grams (one per year) will be selected and developed by 2024.
- The Project was launched on the occasion of birth anniversary of Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan.
- The scheme will be implemented through a village development plan that would be prepared for every identified gram panchayat with special focus on enabling every poor household to come out of poverty.
- The constituency fund, MPLADS, would be available to fill critical financing gaps.
- The planning process in each village will be a participatory exercise coordinated by the District Collector. The MP will play an active facilitating role in this exercise.
- Adoption and adaptation of technology and introduction of innovations are critical to this programme. This will include use of space application and remote sensing for planning, mobile based technology for monitoring, agriculture technology for increasing productivity etc.
- At the national level, a separate, real time web based monitoring system will be put in place for the scheme covering all aspects and components. The Ministry will put in place a specially designed capacity building programme for Government functionaries at different levels including Gram Panchayats.
- At the state level there will be an Empowered Committee headed by the Chief Secretary consisting of the relevant Departments and including experts, as required with at least two Civil Society representatives.
- The district Collector will be the nodal officer for implementing the SAGY. He will conduct a monthly review meeting with representatives of the participating Line Departments. The Members of Parliament concerned will chair the review meetings.
- SAGY gives focus to community participation. Social mobilization of village community can trigger a chain of other development activities in the village. For instance, reducing risk behaviours like alcoholism, smoking, substance abuse (drugs/tobacco/gutkha etc) among all age groups of population. Women participation in the decision-making process will be encouraged.
For the first time, the External Services Division of All India Radio has started broadcasting Hindi lessons in China and Southeast Asia.