Polity & Governance
- Motor Vehicle Amendment Bill passed by Lok Sabha
- Survey of India launches web portal Nakshe
Issues related to Health & Education
- Two-child norm tied to jobs in Assam
- Healthcare sector needs innovative modes of funding: PwC report
Environment & Ecology
- Reclamation will cause ecological damage to Vembanad, says panel
Key Facts for Prelims
- First ‘Silk Road’ train from Britain to China
Polity & Governance
Motor Vehicle Amendment Bill passed by Lok Sabha
The Lok Sabha has passed the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2016 by a voice vote to give more thrust to road safety, controlling pollution and accidents.
- The bill seeks to amend the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 that provides for legal standards for motor vehicles, grant of driving licenses, and penalties for violation of these provisions.
Highlights of the Bill:
National Transportation Policy:
- Union government must frame National Transportation Policy, in consultation with the states.
Recall of vehicles:
- It empowers Union government to order for recall of motor vehicles if a defects in the vehicle may cause damage to the environment, or the driver, or other road users.
Motor Vehicle Accident Fund (MVAF):
- Mandatory for Union government to constitute Motor Vehicle Accident Fund to provide compulsory insurance cover to all road users in India.
- MVAF will be credited with cess or tax as approved by Union government, grant or loan made by Union government or any other source prescribed by Union government.
Care for road accident victims:
- Union government will develop a scheme for cashless treatment of road accident victims during golden hour.
- It defines golden hour as the time period of up to an hour following a traumatic injury, during which the likelihood of preventing death through prompt medical care is the highest.
Compensation for death:
- It increases the compensation for death in a hit and run case from to Rs two lakh or more from Rs 25,000, as prescribed by the Union government.
Protection of good samaritans:
- It defines a good samaritan as a person who renders emergency medical or non-medical assistance to a victim at scene of an accident in good faith, voluntary and without the expectation of any reward.
- Good samaritans will not be held liable for any criminal or civil action for any injury to or death of an accident victim.
- Union government may frame rules to provide for procedures for their questioning or disclosure of personal information.
- It defines an aggregator as a digital intermediary or market place and their services may be used by a passenger to connect with a driver for transportation purposes.
- It makes mandatory for these aggregators to obtain licenses and comply with the Information Technology Act (IT), 2000.
- The Bill provides for the computerization of certain services to improve delivery of services to the stakeholders using e-Governance.
- It enables (i) online learning licenses, (ii) increases period of driving licenses validity, (iii) Do away with the requirements of educational qualifications for transport licenses etc.
- It also proposes Aadhar based verification for grant of online services including learner’s licence to ensure the integrity of the online services and stop creation of duplicate licences.
Offences and penalties:
- It increases the penalties for several offences under the parent Act for high risk offences like drunken driving, dangerous driving, overloading, non-adherence to safety norms by drivers.
Offences committed Juveniles:
- The owner or guardian will be deemed guilty in cases of offences by the Juveniles.
- Juvenile will be tried under JJ Act and the registration of Motor Vehicle will be cancelled.
Survey of India launches web portal Nakshe
The Survey of India (SOI) has launched new web portal called Nakshe to make open series maps available to Indians for free.
- The portal was launched on the occasion of 250th anniversary of SOI.
Features of Nakshe portal:
- It will offer free download of 3,000 Topographic maps or Open Series Maps (OSM) in a pdf format on 1:50,000 scale through Aaadhar enabled user authentication process.
- The maps are meant for development activities in the country, and can be also used to plan scientific expeditions, research and planning development projects.
- Topographic maps or OSM comprise natural and man-made geographical features including terrain or topography.
About Survey of India (SOI):
- SOI is the principal mapping agency of the country. It comes under the Department of Science & Technology.
- Its origin can be traced back to Year 1767, making it oldest scientific department in India and one of the oldest survey establishments in the world.
- It prepares maps for defence and civilian purposes and are considered a standard reference for the shape, extent and geographic features of the country.
- SoI has surveyed and mapped each and every part of the country and these maps have played valuable role in nation building and were pivotal in almost all major developmental activities of modern India.
- Foundation for the scientific survey and mapping of the country was laid with The Great Trignometric Survey (GTS) in 19th century on 10th April, 1802, by noted surveyors Col. Lambton and Sir George Everest.
Issues related to Health & Education
Two-child norm tied to jobs in Assam
The Assam government has released the new draft population policy.
Highlights of the policy:
- The policy suggests denial of government jobs to people with more than two children. Any person getting a job after meeting this condition would have to maintain it till end of his service.
- For employment generation schemes like grant of tractors, houses and for other government benefits, this two-children norm will be applicable. Besides, all elections such as panchayats, municipal bodies and autonomous councils held under the State Election Commission will also have this norm for candidates.
- The policy also aims to make education up to university level free for all girls. This includes facilities like fees, transportation, books and mess dues in hostels. This step is likely to arrest the school dropout rate.
- The proposed population policy also seeks to debate on increasing the legal age of marriage from 18 for girls and 21 for boys. If anybody had child marriage then he would be ineligible for government job.
- The policy would also seek stringent laws to prevent violence and sexual abuse of women.
- Besides, a proposal for providing incentives is included for poor persons, who take care of their elderly parents. The policy will also care for the adolescents.
- The policy proposes to set up a State Population Council and a State Population Research Centre.
Healthcare sector needs innovative modes of funding: PwC report
A Healthcare Federation of India (NATHEALTH)-PwC report has identified the gaps in the healthcare funding in the country and has proposed reforms to fill the gap.
- The Indian government spends only about 1.5% of its GDP on healthcare, which is among the lowest globally for any country.
- Besides, access to capital has been one of the biggest roadblocks to the growth of the Indian healthcare sector.
- In this context, there is a need to concentrate on innovative funding methods.
- The New Health Policy 2017 too had highlighted that innovative modes of funding were needed to meet the requirements of the healthcare sector.
- Conventional modes of resource mobilisation must be aided by an innovative funding mechanism to improve healthcare investments in India.
- Funding should be mobilised from pension funds and that investments should be routed through public-private partnership and long-term debt.
- It has also suggested funding through business trust entities such as Real Estate Investment Trusts along with funds sourced through bilateral investment treaties.
FDI in the sector has significantly increased in the last three years. However, healthcare expenditure’s share in GDP remained around 1.6% in FY16 and innovative funding modes would support the target of taking it to 2.5% by 2030. While the opportunity for improvement of health services in India is huge, it is for the government and the entire healthcare ecosystem to work together so that benefits percolate to the segment that require them the most.[Ref: The Hindu]
Environment & Ecology
Reclamation will cause ecological damage to Vembanad, says panel
A committee constituted by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, has held the Cochin Port Trust (CPT) responsible for CRZ violations in Vembanad, which was classified as a Critically Vulnerable Coastal Area in the CRZ 2011 notification.
- It has been alleged that the CPT has reclaimed stretches of Vembanad backwaters and has violated the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) notification.
- The committee is concerned because such reclamation can cause large-scale damages to the site.
- Also, activities in violation of CRZ provisions will definitely affect the ecological health of a very sensitive ecosystem like Vembanad, which is a declared Ramsar site, a Critically Vulnerable Coastal Area, and a protected wetland system.
- Vembanad is the longest lake in India, and the largest lake in the state of Kerala.
- Spanning several districts in the state of Kerala, it is known as Punnamada Lake in Kuttanad, Kochi Lake in Kochi.
- Several groups of small islands including Vypin, Mulavukad, Vallarpadam, Willingdon Island are located in the Kochi Lake portion. Kochi Port is built around the Willingdon Island, and the Vallarpadam island.
- The Nehru Trophy Boat Race is conducted in a portion of the lake.
- Government of India has identified the Vembanad wetland under National Wetlands Conservation Programme.
- The Vembanad Wetland system was included in the list of wetlands of international importance, as defined by the Ramsar Convention for the conservation and sustainable utilization of wetlands in 2002.
- It is the largest of the three Ramsar Sites in the state of Kerala.
Key Facts for Prelims
First ‘Silk Road’ train from Britain to China
- The first rail freight service from Britain to China was recently flagged off from Britain.
- Thirty containers filled with UK-produced goods have set off on the 7,500-mile journey from Stanford-le-Hope in Essex which will take 18 days.
- The service is part of China’s One Belt, One Road programme of reviving the ancient Silk Road trading routes with the West.