Insights Daily Current Affairs, 10 June 2017
Paper 2 Topic: Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.
SATH program launched by NITI Aayog
Furthering the agenda for cooperative federalism, NITI Aayog has launched SATH, a program providing ‘Sustainable Action for Transforming Human capital’ with the State Governments. The vision of the program is to initiate transformation in the education and health sectors. The program addresses the need expressed by many states for technical support from NITI.
What you need to know about SATH program?
SATH aims to identify and build three future ‘role model’ states for health systems.
- NITI will work in close collaboration with their state machinery to design a robust roadmap of intervention, develop a program governance structure, set up monitoring and tracking mechanisms, hand-hold state institutions through the execution stage and provide support on a range of institutional measures to achieve the end objectives.
- The program will be implemented by NITI along with McKinsey & Company and IPE Global consortium, who were selected through a competitive bidding process.
Selection of states:
To select the three model states, NITI defined a three-stage process – expression of interest, presentations by the states and assessment of commitment to health sector reforms.
States will be selected on the basis of evaluations and objective assessment of criteria affecting the potential for impact and likelihood of success. Metrics such as MMR, IMR, incidence of malaria and others have been considered for determining potential impact while density of doctors and nurses, compliance to IPHS norms are some of the metrics used to determine likelihood of success.
Paper 2 Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.
Swiss support India’s NSG bid
Switzerland, the incoming chair of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), will support application for membership, but has left the door open for Pakistan to join as well.
Switzerland may resort to Grossi process in a bid to support India. The “Grossi process” mandates the former NSG chairperson and diplomat Rafael Grossi to build a consensus among all 48 countries of the NSG, many of which resisted India’s membership bid at the Seoul plenary session in 2016, unless the country signs the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
India, meanwhile, appears to be mulling its options over how strongly to pitch its case at the nuclear club.
Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is a multinational body concerned with reducing nuclear proliferation by controlling the export and re-transfer of materials that may be applicable to nuclear weapon development and by improving safeguards and protection on existing materials.
- Interestingly, the NSG was set up in 1974 as a reaction to India’s nuclear tests to stop what it called the misuse of nuclear material meant for peaceful purposes.
- Currently, it has 48 members.
Once admitted, an NSG member state:
- Gets timely information on nuclear matters.
- Contributes by way of information.
- Has confirmed credentials.
- Can act as an instrument of harmonization and coordination.
- Is part of a very transparent process.
India sought membership of the NSG in 2008, but its application hasn’t been decided on, primarily because signing the NPT or other nuclear moratoriums on testing is a pre-requisite. However, India has received a special waiver to conduct nuclear trade with all nuclear exporters.
India, Pakistan, Israel and South Sudan are among the four UN member states which have not signed the NPT, the international pact aimed at preventing the spread of nuclear weapons.
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.
Data protection law mooted
The government is mulling a new data protection law to protect personal data of citizens, while also creating an enabling framework to allow public data to be mined effectively. The move assumes significance amid the debate over security of individuals’ private data, including Aadhaar-linked biometrics, and the rising number of cyber-crimes in the country. A proposal to this effect has been sent to the Prime Ministers’ Office for approval.
Need for a law in this regard:
The underlying infrastructure of the digital economy is data. India is woefully unprepared to protect its citizens from the avalanche of companies that offer services in exchange for their data, with no comprehensive framework to protect users.
Currently, India does not have a separate law for data protection, and there is no body that specifically regulates data privacy.
- There is nominally a data protection law in India in the form of the Reasonable Security Guidelines under Section 43A of the Information Technology Act. However, it is a toothless law and is never used.
- Some redress for misuse of personal data by commercial entities is also available under the Consumer Protection Act enacted in 2015. As per the Act, the disclosure of personal information given in confidence is an unfair trade practice.
However, none of these has been effective.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Unclaimed PF to fund medical costs
A committee of secretaries has directed the Labour Ministry to frame scheme for benefit of senior citizens who are PF subscribers from inoperative account funds. With this, savings remaining unclaimed in dormant Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) accounts for seven years will be used to fund a new scheme for providing medical benefits to pensioners under the EPF scheme.
The EPFO has already started discussions with the Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) to frame a medical benefits scheme for pensioners under Employees’ Pension Scheme (EPS) of the EPFO.
- The scheme will be contributory in nature with EPF pensioners contributing a portion of their income towards the medical scheme and rest flowing from inoperative accounts of the EPFO.
- Once the scheme is put in place, EPF pensioners will be able to avail medical facilities from a network of more than 1,400 dispensaries and 150 hospitals under ESIC across the country.
EPF money becomes unclaimed after a subscriber doesn’t withdraw money after reaching 61 years of age. Accounts also become inoperative if persons settling abroad do not withdraw their money within three years.
The government had framed a law last year wherein unclaimed money under EPF, Public Provident Fund and small saving schemes such as post office savings accounts for a period of seven years will be diverted to set up a senior citizens’ welfare fund. The trade unions had strongly protested the move to divert EPF money for setting up a fund for the elderly. Following this, it was decided that the unclaimed EPF money will be diverted for EPF pensioners only.
The Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation, a statutory body, is one of the largest social security organizations in India in terms of volume of financial transactions undertaken and number of covered beneficiaries. It works under the overall aegis of the Ministry of Labour and Employment.
Sources: the hindu.
Facts for Prelims:
We Wear Culture:
- It is a global digital platform fashion project launched by Google. Working with 183 renowned cultural institutions from around the world, including India, Google’s project ‘We Wear Culture’ lets people explore the history of clothes dating as early as 3,000 years ago from the ancient Silk Road, to the courtly fashion of Versailles, to the unmatched elegance of the Indian Saree.
- The online project includes collections from Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS) and varied weaves from across India, from Gharchola to Patola to Temple to Ikat sarees, as it traces the story and importance of Indian textiles from ancient sculptures, the company said.
- The world fashion exhibit also showcases designs from north-eastern India including the weaves of tribes such as the Nagas, Meitis and the traditional attire from Meghalaya called ‘Dhara’ or ‘Nara’ worn by the Khasi women.