Polity & Governance
- Govt pledges ‘foot & mouth disease’ free India, extends scheme to 16 more states
- Lok Sabha passes bill on higher compensation for employee’s injury
- Parliament passes bill for easier debt recovery
Environment & Ecology
- Emissions from ships can impact monsoon activity over Bay of Bengal
Science & Technology
- New system to do away with guard at rear-end of coaches
Key Points for Prelims
- Selection of athletes under Target Olympic Podium (TOP) Scheme
- Quit India Movement 2
- ‘Azadi 70 Saal – Zara Yaad Karo Qurbani’
- Amitabh Kant-Led Panel to Review E-Commerce Rules
- “Gaofen 3” satellite
Polity & Governance
Govt pledges ‘foot & mouth disease’ free India, extends scheme to 16 more states
Seeking to end Foot & Mouth Disease (FMD) from India, the agriculture ministry has conceived a ‘FMD Mukta Bharat’ (FMD Free India) programme to cover all the states which have not yet been covered under the six monthly vaccination scheme.
- Sixteen states and one Union Territory (UT) are yet to be covered under intensive FMD vaccination at six monthly intervals.
- It has now been decided to take up FMD vaccination in these states and UT under Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) during 2016-17.
What is Foot & Mouth Disease?
- Foot & Mouth Disease is one of the most devastating contagious viral animal diseases affecting all susceptible cloven-footed animals.
Losses due to FMD:
- As per the estimates by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), direct loss due to milk and meat is to the tune of Rs 20,000 crore per annum due to FMD.
- It could be much more if the indirect losses due to reduced work capacity, abortions, subsequent infertility and sterility (that account for the reduced milk production subsequently) were taken into account.
‘Foot and Mouth Disease Control Programme (FMD-CP)’:
In order to prevent the economic losses arising due to Foot and Mouth Disease, a location specific programme called ‘Foot and Mouth Disease Control Programme (FMD-CP)’ is under implementation since 10th Plan Period.
- Gradually, the FMD-CP was expanded during 11th & 12th Plan Period.
- As of now, it covers 351 districts in 13 states and 6 UTs.
- The scope of the programme will now be extended to cover the remaining 16 states and one UT in a phased manner so as to yield the desired results for the creation of FMD Free Zones, depending upon the availability of resources.
- It claimed that with the robust implementation of FMD-CP in the states, disease occurrence has reduced drastically.
- Total cases of FMD outbreaks in India have been reduced from 879 in 2012 to 109 in 2015.
Lok Sabha passes bill on higher compensation for employee’s injury
Lok Sabha passed The Employees Compensation (Amendment) Act 2016 that provides for higher compensation in case an employee is injured in industrial accident and has a provision for hefty penalty in case any violation by the employers.
Key features of the bill:
- The Bill amends the Employee’s Compensation Act, 1923.
- The Act provides payment of compensation to employees and their dependants in the case of injury by industrial accidents, including occupational diseases.
Duty to inform employee of right to compensation:
- The Bill introduces a provision which requires an employer to inform the employee of his right to compensation under the Act.
- Such information must be given in writing (in English, Hindi or the relevant official language) at the time of employing him.
Penalty for failure to inform:
- The Bill penalises an employer if he fails to inform his employee of his right to compensation.
- Such penalty may be between fifty thousand to one lakh rupees.
Appeals from the Commissioner’s order:
- The Act provides that any dispute related to an employee’s compensation will be heard by a Commissioner (with powers of a civil court).
- Appeals from the Commissioner’s order, related to a substantial question of law, will lie before the High Court.
- Further, the Act stipulates that appeals can be made against orders related to compensation, distribution of compensation, award of penalty or interest, etc. only if the amount in dispute is at least three hundred rupees.
- The Bill raises this amount to ten thousand rupees. It permits the central government to further raise this amount.
Withholding payments pending appeal:
- Under the Act, if an employer has appealed against a Commissioner’s order, any payments towards the employee can be temporarily withheld.
- The Commissioner may do so only by an order of the High Court, until the matter is disposed of by the Court. The Bill deletes this provision.
Parliament passes bill for easier debt recovery
Parliament passed has passed The Enforcement of Security Interest and Recovery of Debts Laws and Miscellaneous Provisions (Amendment) Bill, 2016.
- The bill seeks to amend the debt recovery laws with an overall objective of improving the ease of doing business.
The bill seeks to amend:
The Bill seeks to amend four laws –
- Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest (SARFAESI) Act, 2002,
- The Recovery of Debts due to Banks and Financial Institutions Act, 1993,
- The Indian Stamp Act, 1899 and
- The Depositories Act, 1996.
What are the salient features of the Bill?
Amendments to the SARFAESI Act:
- The SARFAESI Act allows secured creditors to take possession over a collateral, against which a loan had been provided, upon a default in repayment. This process is undertaken with the assistance of the District Magistrate, and does not require the intervention of courts or tribunals. The Bill provides that this process will have to be completed within 30 days by the District Magistrate.
- In addition, the Bill empowers the District Magistrate to assist banks in taking over the management of a company, in case the company is unable to repay loans. This will be done in case the banks convert their outstanding debt into equity shares, and consequently hold a stake of 51% or more in the company.
- The Act creates a central registry to maintain records of transactions related to secured assets.
- The Bill creates a central database to integrate records of property registered under various registration systems with this central registry. This includes integration of registrations made under Companies Act, 2013, Registration Act, 1908 and Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.
- The Bill provides that secured creditors will not be able to take possession over the collateral unless it is registered with the central registry.
- Further, these creditors, after registration of security interest, will have priority over others in repayment of dues.
Power for RBI:
- The Act empowers the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to examine the statements and any information of Asset Reconstruction Companies related to their business.
- The Bill further empowers the RBI to carry out audit and inspection of these companies. The RBI may penalise a company if the company fails to comply with any directions issued by it.
Amendments to the RDDBFI Act:
- The RDDBFI Act established Debt Recovery Tribunals and Debt Recovery Appellate Tribunals.
- The Bill increases the retirement age of Presiding Officers of Debt Recovery Tribunals from 62 years to 65 years.
- Further, it increases the retirement age of Chairpersons of Appellate Tribunals from 65 years to 67 years.
- It also makes Presiding Officers and Chairpersons eligible for reappointment to their positions.
Environment & Ecology
Emissions from ships can impact monsoon activity over Bay of Bengal
Using surface and satellite data, a team of scientists of the Hyderabad-based National Remote Sensing Centre has found that aerosol plumes from ships produced severe pollution along the international shipping route in the Bay of Bengal.
Researchers found that:
- Emissions from ships along the corridor (5-6 degrees North latitude) has directly heated the lower troposphere by two-and-half times compared to surrounding areas and also created a temperature gradient of around 0.1K/day on either side of the shipping route.
- Satellite measurement confirmed the presence of high levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) along the shipping corridor, which is 100 km wide. The measurements were made during 2011-2012. Compared with the surrounding regions, the concentration of NO2 was five times higher along the shipping corridor.
- Since NO2 can absorb solar radiation, the increased levels of this gas along the shipping route led to more heating of the atmosphere. In addition to gaseous emissions, ship exhaust also contains particulate matter such as black carbon.
- Along the shipping route, the black carbon concentration was elevated by a factor of four compared to surrounding regions; the lower troposphere solar heating rate was elevated by 0.1 degree C in cloud-free conditions.
- The emissions also led to increased concentration of cloud condensation nuclei (CCN). The CCN (at 0.4 per cent supersaturation) concentration is one order of magnitude (about 10 times) greater in the shipping corridor than the pristine regions of Bay of Bengal.
- The effects of CCN seen along the corridor may have significant impact on the monsoon activity over southern Bay of Bengal and implications for climate change mitigation strategies.
Science & Technology
New system to do away with guard at rear-end of coaches
Indian Railways will do away with the practice of deploying guards at the rear-end of coaches of goods trains as it is installing a new system, End to Train Telemetry (EOTT) to ensure all coaches and wagons remain intact when a train is in motion.
What is EoTT?
The end of train telemetry (EoTT), a device that aims to establish communication between the locomotive driver and the last vehicle of the train, will be fitted in the last coach or wagon of a train.
How it works?
- In the new system, a transmitter is fitted on a locomotive and a receiver is fitted at the end of the last vehicle.
- The transmitter and the last vehicle receiver exchange signals periodically to ensure that the train is running intact.
- If there is a break in the communication between the two units, the driver gets a signal that the train has parted and accordingly train has to be stopped to relink the parted wagons.
Key Points for Prelims
Selection of athletes under Target Olympic Podium (TOP) Scheme
Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports has selected 157 athletes to provide assistance under the Target Olympic Podium (TOP) Scheme under the ambit of National Sports Development Fund (NSDF).
What is the Target Olympic Podium (TOP) Scheme?
Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports (Department of Sports) have formulated ‘NSDF Target Olympic Podium (TOP) Scheme’ in the National Sports Development Fund (NSDF) with the objective of identifying and supporting potential medal prospects for 2016 and 2020 Olympic Games.
- Focused disciplines will be Athletics, Archery, Badminton, Boxing, Wrestling and Shooting.
- Under the scheme, the selected athletes will be provided financial assistance for their customized training at Institutes having world class facilities and other necessary support.
- Benchmark for selection of athletes under the scheme will be in relation to international standards.
- There will be annual/semi-annual review of performance of selected athletes.
Quit India Movement 2
Commemorating the Platinum Jubilee anniversary of the Quit India Movement the Government of Maharashtra launched the Quit India Movement 2 against various social ills.
The launch took place at the historic August Kranti Maidan in Mumbai, from where Mahatma Gandhi had given the clarion call of Quid India in 1942.
‘Azadi 70 Saal – Zara Yaad Karo Qurbani’
Government of India is celebrating this year’s Independence Day as ‘Azadi 70 Saal – Zara Yaad Karo Qurbani’ in a bid to rekindle patriotism among citizens of India, especially among the younger generation.
A 15-day programme aimed to commemorate 75th anniversary of the Quit India Movement (QIM) and 70 years of Independence.
All the Central Ministers and also Chief Ministers of the States have been assigned with two places each for visiting birth places of national icons and places of historical importance related to India’s independence movement such as Jallianwala Bagh, Chauri Chaura, Cellular Jail, Sabarmati Ashram, Dandi etc.
Amitabh Kant-Led Panel to Review E-Commerce Rules
The government has decided to set up a committee to look into all issues including foreign direct investment norms pertaining to the fast growing e-commerce industry in the country.
The committee will be headed by the NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant. The other members in the panel includes officials from commerce and industry ministry and department of electronics and IT among others.
“Gaofen 3” satellite
The “Gaofen 3” satellite that was launched by China, has a radar system that captures images from space with a resolution down to 1 metre (3 feet) and can operate in all weathers. It will help China protect its maritime interests. It is a new high-resolution Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imaging satellite. The new satellite has a designed lifespan of eight years.