Insights Daily Current Affairs, 08 February 2018
Topic: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.
Context: 88th Mahamastakabhisheka (head anointing ceremony) of the monolithic statue of Lord Bahubali has begun at Shravanabelagola, Karnataka.
The mastakabhisheka is held once in 12 years. One of the biggest festivals for the Jain community, it honors Lord Bahubali, a revered Jain icon. According to Jain texts, Bahubali attained liberation from the cycle of births and deaths (moksha) at Mount Kailash and is revered as a liberated soul (Siddha) by the Jains.
Bahubali is also called Gommateshwara because of the Gommateshwara statue dedicated to him and as lord “Kammateswara” from an inscription. The Gommateshwara statue was built by the Ganga dynasty minister and commander Chavundaraya; it is a 57-foot monolith situated above a hill in Shravanabelagola in the Hassan district, Karnataka state, India. It was built in around 981 A.D. and is one of the largest free-standing statues in the world.
Topic: Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.
Parliament adopts motion of thanks to President’s Address
The Parliament has adopted the Motion of Thanks to the President’s address.
What is “Motion of Thanks” and what it contains?
The President makes an address to a joint sitting of Parliament at the start of the Budget session, which is prepared by the government and lists its achievements. The President’s speech is a statement of the legislative and policy achievements of the government during the preceding year and gives a broad indication of the agenda for the year ahead. The address is followed by a motion of thanks moved in each House by ruling party MPs. During the session, political parties discuss the motion of thanks also suggesting amendments.
Amendments to the “Motion of Thanks”:
Notices of amendments to Motion of Thanks on the President’s Address can be tabled after the President has delivered his Address. Amendments may refer to matters contained in the Address as well as to matters, in the opinion of the member, the Address has failed to mention. Amendments can be moved to the Motion of Thanks in such form as may be considered appropriate by the Speaker.
The only limitations are that members cannot refer to matters which are not the direct responsibility of the Central Government and that the name of the President cannot be brought in during the debate since the Government and not the President is responsible for the contents of the Address.
Provisions governing them:
President’s Address and Motion of Thanks are governed by Articles 86 (1) and 87 (1) of the Constitution and Rules 16 to 24 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP)
Context: Based on recommendations of Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP), the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has given its approval for increase in the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for Fair Average Quality (FAQ) of “Milling Copra” to Rs.7500 per quintal for 2018 season from Rs. 6500 per quintal in 2017.
The MSP of copra is expected to ensure appropriate minimum prices to the farmers and step up investment in coconut cultivation and thereby production and productivity in the country.
The Commission for Agricultural Costs & Prices (CACP) is an attached office of the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Government of India. It came into existence in January 1965. Currently, the Commission comprises a Chairman, Member Secretary, one Member (Official) and two Members (Non-Official). The non-official members are representatives of the farming community and usually have an active association with the farming community.
It is mandated to recommend minimum support prices (MSPs) to incentivize the cultivators to adopt modern technology, and raise productivity and overall grain production in line with the emerging demand patterns in the country. However, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) of the Union government takes a final decision on the level of MSPs and other recommendations made by CACP.
Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
Rationalization of Autonomous Bodies under Department of Health & Family Welfare
Context: The Union Cabinet has approved the proposal for closure of Autonomous Bodies, namely, Rashtriya Arogya Nidhi (RAN) and Jansankhya Sthirata Kosh (JSK) and the functions are proposed to be vested in Department of Health & Family Welfare (DoHFW).
The rationalization of Autonomous Bodies under Department of Health & Family Welfare will involve inter-ministerial consultations and review of existing bye laws of these bodies. The time frame for implementation is one year.
Rashtriya Arogya Nidhi (RAN):
It was set up as a registered society to provide financial medical assistance to poor patients receiving treatment in designated central government hospitals. An advance is placed with the Medical Superintendents of such hospitals who then provide assistance on a case to case basis. Since the DoHFW provides funds to the hospitals, the grants can be given from the Department to the hospital directly. RAN functions can, therefore, be vested in DoHFW. Managing Committee of RAN Society will meet to dissolve the Autonomous Body (AB) as per provisions of Societies Registration Act, 1860 (SRA). In addition to this, Health Minister’s Cancer Patient Fund (HMCPF) shall also be transferred to the Department. The timeline required for this is one year.
Jansankhya Sthirata Kosh (JSK):
It was set up with a corpus grant of Rs.100 crores in the year 2003 to raise awareness for population stabilization strategies. JSK organizes various activities with target populations as a part of its mandate. There has been no continuous funding to JSK from the Ministry. Population stabilization strategies require private and corporate funding, which can be accessed through JSK. Although, JSK will continue to play a significant role in population stabilization strategies, its existence as an Autonomous Body is not necessary. Hence, JSK as an Autonomous Body can be closed as it can be administered by the Department as a fund.
Topic: Development processes and the development industry the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders.
Village Resource Centres
Context: To demonstrate the potential of satellite technology for development of rural areas, ISRO established Village Resource Centres (VRCs) on a pilot scale. About Rs 18 crores was spent for establishing 473 VRCs. The project is running in association with selected NGOs, Trusts and State Government Departments.
About Village Resource Centres program:
To provide the space based services directly to the rural areas, ISRO/ DOS has launched the Village Resource Centres (VRCs) programme in association with NGOs/ Trusts and state/ central agencies.
VRCs provide various space technology enabled services such as tele-healthcare, tele-education, natural resources information, advisories related to agriculture, career guidance to rural students, skill development and vocational training etc.
Establishing new VRCs is an ongoing process and the same is carried out based on communication technology needs, funds available, proposals received from State Governments/NGOs etc. The parameters for selecting NGOs and Trusts as partners in VRC include experience in community organisation and social work, availability of required infrastructure for housing the VRC facility, requisite manpower for day-to-day operation and capacity for conducting programmes of relevance for the development of rural areas.
Topic: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
Context: The Cabinet has approved the increase in the target for the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, meant to provide LPG connections to rural women, to eight crore from the earlier five crore, adding that this has to be achieved by 2020. It also approved an additional allocation for the scheme of ₹4,800 crore.
About the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana:
Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana aims to provide LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) connections to poor households. Under the scheme, an adult woman member of a below poverty line family identified through the Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) is given a deposit-free LPG connection with financial assistance of Rs 1,600 per connection by the Centre.
Eligible households will be identified in consultation with state governments and Union territories. The scheme is being implemented by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.
What makes LPG adoption necessary?
About 75 crore Indians, especially women and girls, are exposed to severe household air pollution (HAP) from the use of solid fuels such as biomass, dung cakes and coal for cooking. A report from the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare places HAP as the second leading risk factor contributing to India’s disease burden.
According to the World Health Organization, solid fuel use is responsible for about 13% of all mortality and morbidity in India (measured as Disability-Adjusted Life Years), and causes about 40% of all pulmonary disorders, nearly 30% of cataract incidences, and over 20% each of ischemic heart disease, lung cancer and lower respiratory infection.
The PMUY is a bold and much-needed initiative, but it should be recognised that this is just a first step. The real test of the PMUY and its successor programmes will be in how they translate the provision of connections to sustained use of LPG or other clean fuels such as electricity or biogas. Truly smokeless kitchens can be realized only if the government follows up with measures that go beyond connections to actual usage of LPG. This may require concerted efforts cutting across Ministries beyond petroleum and natural gas and including those of health, rural development and women and child welfare.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
New Instrument adopted by International Labour Organization (ILO)
Context: The Union Cabinet has given its approval for placing the new Instrument adopted by International Labour Organization (ILO) Recommendation concerning “The Employment and Decent Work for Peace and Resilience (No.-205)” before the Parliament.
About the Recommendation No.- 205:
The International Labour Conference of ILO at its 106th Session held in Geneva in June, 2015 adopted the Recommendation. India supported the adoption of Recommendation.
The Recommendation provides guidance to member States on the measures to be taken to generate employment and decent work for the purposes of prevention, recovery, peace and resilience with respect to crisis situations arising from conflicts and disasters. It also emphasizes the need to ensure respect for all human rights and the rule of law, including respect for fundamental principles and rights at work and for international labour standards, in particular those rights and principles relevant to employment and decent work.
The Recommendation affirms the need to develop and strengthen measures of social protection, as a means of preventing crises, enabling recovery and building resilience. It states that Members should adopt a phased multi-track approach implementing coherent and comprehensive strategies for promoting peace, preventing crises, enabling recovery and building resilience.
Approach: The approach should include promoting local economic recovery for employment and decent work opportunities and socio-economic reintegration, social protection and social inclusion, sustainable development, the creation of sustainable enterprises (in particular small and medium-sized enterprises); ensuring consultation and encouraging active participation of employers’ and workers’ organizations in planning, implementing and monitoring measures for recovery and resilience.
Applicability: The Recommendation No. 205 is applicable to all workers and jobseekers, and to all employers, in all sectors of the economy affected by crisis situations arising from conflicts and disasters and to workers engaged in crisis response, including in the immediate response.
Each member state of ILO is required to submit the instruments so adopted before the competent authority (the Parliament in case of India). The adoption and placing of the Instrument for the information of the Parliament does not create any immediate obligation. An ILO Recommendations is a non-binding instrument which seeks to serve as a guiding principle for national policy process.
Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.
Context: The Union cabinet has approved a proposal for ratification of the Minamata Convention, a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from adverse effects of mercury. After joining the Convention, it will now be easier for India to get technological or financial assistance to address issues related to mercury.
About Minamata convention:
The Minamata Convention on Mercury is a multilateral environmental agreement that addresses specific human activities which are contributing to widespread mercury pollution. Implementation of this agreement will help reduce global mercury pollution over the coming decades.
The Minamata Convention is named after the Japanese city of Minamata, which experienced a severe, decades-long incidence of mercury poisoning after industrial wastewater from a chemical factory was discharged into Minamata Bay. The wastewater contained methylmercury, which bioaccumulated in fish and shellfish in the bay. Local people who consumed seafood from Minamata Bay became very sick, and many died or were left severely disabled.
Major highlights of the Minamata Convention include a ban on new mercury mines, the phase-out of existing ones, the phase out and phase down of mercury use in a number of products and processes, control measures on emissions to air and on releases to land and water, and the regulation of the informal sector of artisanal and small-scale gold mining. The Convention also addresses interim storage of mercury and its disposal once it becomes waste, sites contaminated by mercury as well as health issues.
Till now, the convention has 88 ratifications and 144 signatories including India, which signed it on 30 September 2014. India had actively participated in the negotiating process, making significant contributions in finalizing the treaty text but had not ratified it till now. India’s neighbours – Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan – are also signatories to the convention. But only Sri Lanka has ratified it.
Mercury pollution is a global problem that requires global action. It moves with air and water, transcends political borders, and can be transported thousands of miles in the atmosphere. The Minamata Convention on Mercury is an opportunity for the global community to address this mounting problem before it gets worse. Over the next decades, implementation of this international agreement will help reduce mercury pollution from the specific human activities responsible for the most significant mercury releases to the environment.
Topic: Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.
Change in the basis of classifying Micro, Small and Medium enterprises
Context: The Union Cabinet has approved change in the basis of classifying Micro, Small and Medium enterprises from ‘investment in plant & machinery/equipment’ to ‘annual turnover’.
Section 7 of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development (MSMED) Act, 2006 will accordingly be amended to define units producing goods and rendering services in terms of annual turnover as follows:
- A micro enterprise will be defined as a unit where the annual turnover does not exceed five crore rupees;
- A small enterprise will be defined as a unit where the annual turnover is more than five crore rupees but does not exceed Rs 75 crore;
- A medium enterprise will be defined as a unit where the annual turnover is more than seventy five crore rupees but does not exceed Rs 250 crore.
- Additionally, the Central Government may, by notification, vary turnover limits, which shall not exceed thrice the limits specified in Section 7 of the MSMED Act.
At present the MSMED Act (Section 7) classifies the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) on the basis of investment in plant and machinery for manufacturing units, and investment in equipment for service enterprises. The criterion of investment in plant and machinery stipulates self declaration which in turn entails verification if deemed necessary and leads to transaction costs.
Significance of this move:
The change in the norms of classification will enhance the ease of doing business. The consequent growth and will pave the way for increased direct and indirect employment in the MSME sector of the country. This will also encourage ease of doing business, make the norms of classification growth oriented and align them to the new tax regime revolving around GST (Goods & Services Tax).
Topic: indigenization of technology and developing new technology.
Context: India has successfully test-fired its indigenously developed nuclear capable Prithvi-II missile as part of a user trial by the Army from a test range in Odisha.
Inducted into the Armed forces of the country in 2003, the nine-metre-tall, single-stage liquid-fuelled Prithvi-II is the first missile to have been developed by the DRDO under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP).
- Prithvi-II is capable of carrying 500-1,000 kilogram of warheads and is thrusted by liquid propulsion twin engines. The state-of-the-art missile uses advanced inertial guidance system with manoeuvring trajectory to hit its target.
- Prithvi-II is indigenously developed and is nuclear-capable surface-to-surface. With a strike range of 350 km, Prithvi-II is powered by twin-engines which use liquid propulsion. It also uses advanced inertial guidance system with manoeuvring trajectory to hit its target.
- Notably, Prithvi is India’s first indigenously-built ballistic missile. It is one of the five missiles being developed under the country’s Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme.
Sources: the hindu.