Polity & Governance
- Spot fine for open defecation, states told
- Maharashtra releases water from Kalammawadi dam
- WHO gives 2 weeks to replace problem polio vaccine
- PFRDA may regulate unregulated pension funds
Environment & Ecology
- 81 cities added to India’s earthquake-prone list
- ‘Hidden’ vetoes must go, India tells U.N.
Also in News
- Delhi ranked 44th among world’s 50 ‘future-ready cities’
Polity & Governance
Spot fine for open defecation, states told
The urban development ministry has suggested state governments amend their municipal laws to incorporate provisions for spot fine, penalty or cleaning charge from people caught defecating in open.
- The ministry has also suggested similar changes in the state laws to fine people caught littering.
- This was stated by the ministry in its recent circular issued to chief secretaries of all states.
- Rajasthan has already notified the mechanism for levying such penalty or carrying charges for littering in public places. For example, Rs 200 fine for peeing in public places, Rs 1,500 per day for pasting posters in public buildings or monuments.
Key suggestions in circular:
- In a recent circular to chief secretaries of all states, the ministry has asked them to enforce such provisions in municipal wards that are declared open defecation free (ODF) and litter free.
- The ministry has asked all state governments to ensure that such provisions cover all municipal wards by October 2018.
- It has advised that the municipal commissioners or any authorised officer can levy the fine, penalty or charge from violators.
Maharashtra releases water from Kalammawadi dam
The Water Resources Department in Maharashtra has started releasing water to Karnataka from its Kalammawadi dam across the Dudhganga river, a tributary of the Krishna river in Kolhapur district.
- Dudhganga river rises in Sindhudurg district of Maharashtra in the Western Ghats and flows eastward through Kolhapur district and Belgaum district in Karnataka before joining the Krishna.
- The river is dammed to form the Kalammawadi reservoirin the west of Kohlapur district.
WHO gives 2 weeks to replace problem polio vaccine
The World Health Organization has given countries two weeks to replace a problem polio vaccine blamed for some outbreaks of the crippling disease. WHO is hoping to wipe out this virus once and for all.
- The live polio virus used in some vaccines is one of the biggest obstacles to eradicating the disease.
- The wild version of the virus now exists only in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but a type of vaccine that contains small amounts of weakened but live polio still causes occasional outbreaks elsewhere.
- Oral polio vaccine (OPV) replicates in the gut and can be passed to others through faecal-contaminated water — meaning it won’t hurt the child who has been vaccinated, but could infect their neighbours.
Long-term, WHO recommends that the OPV should be phased out worldwide and replaced by the inactivated polio vaccine (IPV).
- A massive global effort has in recent decades come close to wiping out polio, a crippling and potentially fatal viral disease that mainly affects children under the age of five.
- Cases have decreased by 99% since 1988, when polio was endemic in 125 countries and 350,000 cases were recorded worldwide.
PFRDA may regulate unregulated pension funds
The Department of Financial Services (DFS), which functions under the finance ministry, is examining a proposal to bring all unregulated retirement funds under the purview of the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA).
- DFS is looking at forming a panel to look into the matter and study the scale of unregulated superannuation funds in the country to protect subscribers’ interest.
- The idea is basically to reduce the grey areas and close down the regulatory gaps. However, the matter is complex as multiple ministries are involved.
- Currently, PFRDA is responsible only for regulating the National Pension System (NPS) and the Atal Pension Yojana.
- However, under the proposed PFRDA Act, PFRDA is responsible for promoting the pension fund industry and protecting consumers by supervising these funds.
PFRDA (the pension regulator) has been pitching that all unregulated pension funds in the country be regulated.
- A number of companies extend superannuation schemes to employees through insurance companies or set up their own PF trusts. Many of these trusts are under the ambit of Sebi, Irdai or EPFO. They all seek tax exemptions from the Central Board of Direct Taxation (CBDT).
- PFRDA has been trying to accumulate information on existing pension and superannuation schemes being run by various entities and details of their regulatory jurisdiction, supervisory mechanism, investment guidelines, risk management strategies, number of subscribers and assets under their management.
- The Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) is a pension regulatory authority which was established in 2003.
- It is authorized by Ministry of Finance, Department of Financial Services.
- It is also responsible for appointment of various intermediate agencies such as Central Record Keeping Agency (CRA), Pension Fund Managers, Custodian, NPS Trustee Bank, etc.
Environment & Ecology
81 cities added to India’s earthquake-prone list
Eight new cities and towns have been added to a government list of urban areas vulnerable to earthquakes of “very severe intensity”.
- The recent additions are Jorhat, Sadiya and Tezpur in Assam, Bhuj in Gujarat, Darbhanga in Bihar, Imphal in Manipur, Kohima in Nagaland and Mandi in Himachal.
- In all, 81 new towns and cities were added to a list of areas prone to earthquakes, bringing the total to 107, according to government data released on March 16, 2016.
‘Hidden’ vetoes must go, India tells U.N.
India has sought transparency in the U.N. procedures to designate a group or an individual terrorist.
- The demand for more transparency comes days after China blocked India’s bid to designate Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar a terrorist.
Provisions of subsidiary bodies in UN:
- Article 29 of the United Nations Charter sets out that the Security Council may establish subsidiary bodies as needed for the performance of its functions.
- All existing committees and working groups are comprised of the fifteen members of the Council.
- The mandate of subsidiary organs, whether they are committees or working groups, can range from procedural matters (e.g. documentation and procedures, meetings away from headquarters) to substantive issues (e.g. sanctions regimes, counter-terrorism, peacekeeping operations).
About Sanctions Committees of the UN:
- The existing rules allow Security Council members to oppose any move in the sanctions committees in a clandestine manner and without offering any explanation.
- The sanctions committees can take decisions only unanimously, and this means any of the 15 members can veto a move. This amounts to allowing a “hidden veto” for every member of the council.
- The range of sanctions has included comprehensive economic and trade sanctions and/or more targeted measures such as arms embargoes, travel bans, financial or diplomatic restrictions.
- The general membership of the UN is never ever formally informed of how and why requests for listing terrorists are not acceded to.
- The Security Council has Al-Qaeda, Taliban and Islamic State Sanctions Committees that can mandate international sanctions, which will require countries to freeze the targeted group’s or individual’s assets, ban designated individuals from travelling and prevent the supply of weapons, technology and other aid.
Also in News
Delhi ranked 44th among world’s 50 ‘future-ready cities’
According to a report by information technology major Dell, the national capital has been recognised as one of the 50 future-ready cities around the world that are embracing technology to adapt and thrive in an ever-changing and globalised future.
- Delhi is ranked 44thon the list, which is topped by San Jose, followed by San Francisco.
- The cities in the list were evaluated along three dimensions — human capital, infrastructure and commerce.