Polity & Governance
- Inter-state River Water Disputes (Amendment) Bill, 2017 introduced in Lok Sabha
- Footwear Design and Development Institute (FDDI) Bill, 2017
- WCD dept seeks CBI probe into duping in name of ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ plan
- Labour Ministry’s new rule to ensure employer hiring contract labour files unified annual return
- On computing ability, rural India is lost in the woods
- Government launches Mission Fingerling to achieve Blue Revolution
Environment & Ecology
- World’s first fluorescent frog discovered in South America
Bilateral & International Relations
- India, Pak’s entry into SCO may boost regional stability: Chinese media
Key Facts for Prelims
- Madhukar Gupta Committee Report
- Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay Rashtriya Krishi Vigyan Protsahan Puraskar (2016)
- KrishiUnnatiMela 2017
Polity & Governance
Inter-state River Water Disputes (Amendment) Bill, 2017 introduced in Lok Sabha
The Union Minister of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Uma Bharti introduced the Inter-State River Water Disputes (Amendment) Bill, 2017 in Lok Sabha.
Highlights of the bill:
- The bill proposes the creation of a Single Standing Tribunal with multiple benches instead of the existing multiple tribunals.
- The proposed single tribunal would comprise a Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson and a maximum of 6 other members.
- While the term of office of the Chairperson will be five years or till the time he reaches the age of 70, the term of office of the Vice-Chairperson and other members of the tribunal will be linked to the adjudication of the water dispute.
- Besides this, the bill proposes the appointment of Assessors to provide technical support to the tribunal. The assessors would be appointed from among the experts already serving in the Central Water Engineering Service, above the rank of Chief Engineer.
- It also proposes the introduction of a mechanism – Dispute Resolution Committee (DRC) to resolve disputes cordially through negotiations before it is referred to the tribunal.
- The proposed committee is to be established by the Union Government, consisting of relevant experts.
- The bill also proposes the setting up of a transparent data collection system at the national level for each river basin and the establishment of a centre authorised agency for the same, which will be expected to maintain the databank and information system.
- The bill also fixed the total time period for adjudication of the dispute to a maximum of four and half years.
- It also determined that the decision of the tribunal would be final and binding with no requirement of publication in the official Gazette.
Inter-state river water disputes are on the rise on account of increase in water demands by the States. The Inter State Water Dispute Act, 1956 which provides the legal framework to address such disputes, suffers from many drawbacks.
Under this Act, a separate Tribunal has to be established for each Inter State River Water Dispute. Only three out of eight Tribunals have given awards accepted by the States, while Tribunals like Cauvery and Ravi Beas have been in existence for over 26 and 30 years respectively without any award.
Delays are on account of no time limit for adjudication by a Tribunal, no upper age limit for the Chairman or the Members, work getting stalled due to occurrence of any vacancy and no time limit for publishing the report of the Tribunal.[Ref: PIB]
Footwear Design and Development Institute (FDDI) Bill, 2017
Ministry of Commerce & Industry introduced the Footwear Design and Development Institute (FDDI) Bill, 2017 in the Lok Sabha to declare the FDDI as an Institution of National Importance (INI).
Objective of the bill:
- The objective of the proposed legislation is to facilitate and promote teaching, training and research in all disciplines relating to design and development of Footwear and leather products and to enable FDDI to emerge as Centre of Excellence meeting international standards.
- The Footwear Design & Development Institute was established in 1986 with the objective of providing trained human resource and assistance to the sector.
- FDDI has pan-India presence with campuses at Noida, Kolkata, Chennai, Fursatganj (UP), Rohtak (Haryana), Chhindwara (M.P) and Jodhpur (Rajasthan) equipped with state of art academic facilities and infrastructure.
- New campuses at Hyderabad, Patna, Ankleshwar (Gujarat), Banur(Punjab) and Guna (M.P) would also start functioning shortly.
WCD dept seeks CBI probe into duping in name of ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ plan
The women and child development ministry has sought a CBI probe into complaints that over two lakh people in five states were allegedly duped in the name of Beti Bachao Beti Padhao scheme, one of the PM’s pet programme to address the dipping child sex ratio and empowering the girl child.
- The ministry has also taken up the matter with the state authorities in Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Punjab and Bihar.
What’s the issue?
- According to the ministry, certain unauthorized elements are distributing illegal forms in the name of cash incentive under the scheme. The scheme has no provision for any cash incentives for individuals. BBBP scheme focuses on challenging mindsets and deep rooted patriarchy in the societal system in order to value girl child, strict enforcement of PC & PNDT Act, advancing education of the girl child: focus is on issues of women empowerment on a life cycle continuum.
About the BBBP scheme:
- Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP) Scheme was launched on 22ndJanuary, 2015 at Panipat in Haryana.
- It is a tri-ministerial effort of Ministries of Women and Child Development, Health & Family Welfare and Human Resource Development.
- The scheme aims at improving the trend of declining child sex ratio (CSR) in the country—which, according to Census 2011 data, has plummeted from 945 in 1991 to 927 in 2001 and 918 in 2011—and promoting gender equality.
- The scheme focuses on challenging mindsets and deep rooted patriarchy in the societal system, strict enforcement of PC&PNDT Act, advancing education of the girl child: focus is on issues of women empowerment on a life cycle continuum.
- In the first phase, 100 districts with low CSR were selected for BBBP Scheme implementation for creating awareness and advocacy about the issue.
- During the last one year, the BBBP Scheme is being implemented under the overall guidance and supervision of concerned District Magistrate/Deputy Commissioners.
Labour Ministry’s new rule to ensure employer hiring contract labour files unified annual return
In yet another initiative towards improving the ease of doing business in the country, the labour ministry has notified draft rule that would allow principal employer or contractor hiring contract labour to file a unified annual return under the Contract Labour (Regulation & Abolition) Act, 1970.
Under the rules:
Under the rules, to be called as the Contract Labour (Regulation & Abolition) Central (Amendment) Rules, 2017,
- Every contractor or principal employer shall upload a unified annual return in the Form XXIV specified in these rules on or before the February 1 following the close of the year to which it relates.
- Besides, the employer or the principal contractor also have the option of filing the return manually or online.
- The principal employer or contractor shall also file a Unified Annual Return to the concerned authorities manually.
- In case, if, an employer maintains registers or records or reports in electronic form, such registers or records or reports shall also be taken into consideration.
Both the government and the corporate sector employ a large number of contract workers. Contract labour accounts for 55% of public sector jobs and 45% of those in the private sector. Only about 300,000 contract labourers out of an estimated 80 million are employed in the organised sector.[Ref: Economic Times]
On computing ability, rural India is lost in the woods
An analysis of National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) data reveals that the ability to use computers remains low in the country, in spite of campaigns for digitalisation.
What is computing ability?
- Computing ability is defined as an user’s ability to operate a desktop, laptop, palmtop, notebook, smartphone and tablets.
- The study, supported by the Australian Research Council, claimed that ‘computing ability’ is not linked to digital infrastructure or internet penetration.
Highlights of the NSSO survey:
- An estimated 8.8% of the rural population has computing ability. In urban areas, the figure is nearly four times higher, at 30.2%.
- Among the major States, Kerala has the highest computing ability at 32.3% in rural areas, while Chhattisgarh has the lowest, 2.9%.
- In the urban areas, Kerala is in second position, after Delhi. Tamil Nadu and Punjab are in the middle of the table.
- Computing ability, measured from NSS data on Social Consumption and Education, was found to be the lowest in the tribal population.
Government launches Mission Fingerling to achieve Blue Revolution
The Union Ministry of Agriculture has launched Mission Fingerling, a programme to enable holistic development and management of fisheries sector in India with a total expenditure of about Rs. 52000 lakh.
About the mission:
- The mission aims to achieve the target to enhance fisheries production from 10.79 mmt (2014-15) to 15 mmt by 2020-21 under the Blue Revolution.
- Government has identified 20 States based on their potential and other relevant factors to strengthen the Fish Fingerling production and Fish Seed infrastructure in the country.
- This program will facilitate the establishment of Fingerling rearing pond and hatcheries to ensure the fish production of 426 crores fish fingerling, 25.50 crores Post Larvae of shrimp and crab in the country.
- This will converge in the production of 20 lakh tonnes of fish annually, which will in turn benefit about 4 million families.
- The implementation of this program will supplement the requirement of stocking materials in the country up to a large extent, which is a much needed input to achieve the enhanced fish production.
What is Blue Revolution?
- Blue Revolution aims to recognize the potential and possibilities in the fisheries sector of the country by unlocking country’s latent potential through an integrated approach.
- In its scope and reach, it focuses on creating an enabling environment for integrated and holistic development and management of fisheries for socio economic development of fishers and fish farmers.
- It gives greater emphasis to infrastructure with an equally strong focus on management and conservation of the resources through technology transfer to increase in the income of the fishers and fish farmers.
- It also seeks to achieve productivity enhancement by employing best global innovations and integration of various production oriented activities viz. production of quality fish seeds, cost effective feed and adoption of technology etc.
Environment & Ecology
World’s first fluorescent frog discovered in South America
A group of scientists discovered polka dot tree frog (Hypsiboas punctatus), the world’s first fluorescent frog near Santa Fe in Argentina.
- The frog sports a muted palette of greens, yellows and reds under normal light, but emits a bright blue and green glow in the dark.
About the discovery:
- The scientists found that the South American polka dot tree frog uses fluorescent molecules totally unlike those found in other animals.
- When the researchers trained an ultraviolet A flashlight on polka dot tree frogs, they were surprised to find that the animals gave off an intense greenish-blue glow instead of a faint red.
- The researchers expected to find red fluorescence in these frogs from a pigment called biliverdin.
- Three molecules namely, hyloin-L1, hyloin-L2 and hyloin-G1, found in lymph tissue, skin and glandular secretions of animals, are responsible for the green fluorescence.
- The molecules contain a ring structure and a chain of hydrocarbons. The closest similar molecules are found in plants.
Fluorescence in animals:
- The ability to absorb light at short wavelengths and re-emit it at longer wavelengths is called fluorescence, a quality that is rare in terrestrial animals.
- Many ocean creatures exhibit fluorescence, including corals, fish, sharks and one species of sea turtle. But until now, fluorescence was unheard of in amphibians. On land, fluorescence was previously known in only parrots and some species of scorpions.
- It is still unclear why animals have the ability of fluorescence, although explanations include communication, camouflage and mate attraction.
Bilateral & International Relations
India, Pak’s entry into SCO may boost regional stability: Chinese media
China has observed that the entry of India and Pakistan into China-led SCO may help boost anti-terrorism cooperation between the two countries and provide a platform to resolve their differences.
- The entry of the two nations into the SCO may help boost cooperation between India and Pakistan in areas such as infrastructure and anti-terrorism efforts.
- India and Pakistan are expected to be admitted into the six-member Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) during its next summit to be held at Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, in June this year.
- Its 2015 summit in Ufa, Russia, the SCO formally adopted a resolution which started the procedures to admit India and Pakistan into the grouping.
About Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO):
Seen as a counter to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), SCO is a Eurasian political, economic and military organisation which was founded in 2001 in Shanghai by the leaders of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
- These countries, except for Uzbekistan, had been members of the Shanghai Five, founded in 1996; after the inclusion of Uzbekistan in 2001, the members renamed the organisation.
- Its headquarters is located in Beijing, China.
- India, which has had an observer status for the past 10 years, was accepted along with Pakistan as full members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in July 2015.
- It has now eight members: China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India and Pakistan.
- SCO has Afghanistan, Iran, Mongolia and Belarus as observers.
- The SCO has established relations with the United Nations, where it is an observer in the General Assembly, the European Union, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.
- Recently, Azerbaijanalso officially became a SCO dialogue partner.
Key Facts for Prelims
Madhukar Gupta Committee Report
- The Committee constituted under the Chairmanship of Shri Madhukar Gupta, has submitted its report to the Government to strengthen border protection and address vulnerabilities in fencing along the Indo-Pakistan border.
- The Committee has given its recommendations broadly on the issues of Threats and Border Protection, assessment of force level, deployment on the border, infrastructure and technology issues for protection of border and administrative issues.
Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay Rashtriya Krishi Vigyan Protsahan Puraskar (2016)
- Ramakrishna Ashram, which is located in the South 24 Parganas of West Bengal, was conferred with the national-level Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay Rashtriya Krishi Vigyan Protsahan Puraskar for 2016.
- The award was instituted by the Union Government in 2016 to mark the birth centenary year of Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay, a pioneer of Antyodaya.
- The winners of this annual award are selected by the selection committee on the basis of nominations received from all the Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) across the country.
- The total sum of this award is 50 lakh rupees in which there is a provision of one award of 25 lakh rupees at the national level and 11 awards of Rs 2,25,000 lakh each at the regional level.
- Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) every year has been organising Krishi Vigyan Mela (Agriculture Science Fair) to display and popularise the latest advancement in agricultural research and technology development among farmers and end users since 1972.
- This year KrishiUnnatiMela 2017 is being organised jointly by ICAR and Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare.
- During the mela, technical sessions on various themes are planned to educate farmers on various agricultural technologies and government schemes for agricultural development.
- The mela continues to be a highly important annual event for receiving feedback from the farming community, which helps in deciding the Institute’s future research strategy.
- Thousands of farmers and visitors from across the country are participating in the mela every year.