Polity & Governance
- Supreme Court’s Integrated Case Management Information System
- Labour meet to focus on social security
- Rail regulator to define performance standards
- Centre mulls financial assistance to fisherfolk
- NGOs told to open accounts with core banks
- Govt sets up Task Force to help compute timely employment data
Issues related to Health & Education
- Multidrug-resistant TB will rise in India, says new study
Science & Technology
- Railways to acquire EOTT system to run trains without guards
Key Facts for Prelims
- May 11: National Technology Day
For IASToppers’ Current Affairs Analysis Archive, Click Here
Polity & Governance
Supreme Court’s Integrated Case Management Information System
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has inaugurated Supreme Court’s Integrated Case Management Information System (ICMIS).
- This digital filing system will mark Supreme Court’s first towards becoming a paperless, digital court.
The Integrated Case Management Information System or ICMIS is described as the next generation hybrid database which is used to better enable litigants to access and retrieve information online.
- The new system is aimed at serving as a digital repository for case-related information.
- Its functions include the option of e-filing cases, checking listing dates, case status, online service of notice/summons, office reports and overall tracking of progress of a case filed with the apex court registry.
- It is also proposed that it will operate as an online gateway for payment of court fee and process fee.
- Other features offered under the new system include an online court fee calculator. This is expected to streamline the filing process for both the advocates and the registry.
- Subsequently, all High Courts, District Courts, Sub-Division Courts will be integrated with the new system. Later on, all the jails in the country will be Integrated by ICMIS software.
Significance of the ICMIS:
- ICMIS will help litigants access data and obtain information about the filing, delays etc. It would pave way for the integration of all courts in the country.
- The appellant hereafter is not required to file the records as the records will be picked up electronically from trial courts and high courts.
- The digital filing system will also help in ushering transparency as nothing can be manipulated with this paperless system.
- Also, the litigants will be able to know the progress of the case on real time basis.
Labour meet to focus on social security
The Standing Labour Committee will shortly meet to decide the agenda of the Indian Labour Conference (ILC), also known as the ‘labour parliament’ of the country.
- Providing social security cover for the entire workforce may be the central theme of the upcoming 47th ILC.
- The Labour Ministry had earlier this year proposed a law on social security which will provide social security cover to the entire workforce in the country, including self-employed and agricultural workers.
- As per the proposed social security code, factories employing even a single worker will have to contribute towards social security benefits.
About Indian Labour Conference:
- The ILC is the apex level tripartite forum in the Labour Ministry which includes representatives from trade unions, employers and state governments.
- It advises the Government on the issues concerning working class of the country.
- As recommended by the National Labour Conference held in September 17-18, 1982, only Trade Union Organisations, which have, a membership of more than five lakhs spread over four States and four industries are given representation in the ILC.
- All the 12 Central Trade Union Organisations, Central Organisations of employers, all State Governments and Union Territories and Central Ministries/Departments concerned with the agenda items, are the members of the ILC.
Rail regulator to define performance standards
As per a resolution approved recently by the Railways Board, India’s first rail regulator, Rail Development Authority (RDA), would not just look at tariff structures for passenger and freight operations but also set standards of performance and efficiency that would be enforceable under the Railways Act.
Functions and powers of RDA, as per resolution:
- The resolution authorises RDA to define standards of performance and efficiency; such standards would be notified as rules under the Railway Act to give a binding force upon acceptance.
- It will also be “authorised to check for deviations and suggest remedial measures.”
- The regulator will also provide guidance on quantity and quality of service provided to passengers. These may include setting standards including hours of service, frequency of trains, capacity per coach, cleanliness level, and quality of water, food, furnishing and linen.
- The regulator will, however, not involve itself in policy making of the Indian Railways, operations and maintenance of the rail system, financial management, setting technical standards and compliance of safety standards.
- The regulator would only make recommendations on tariff and not impose a tariff on the Indian Railways.
- The Union Cabinet had approved setting up the rail regulator responsible for recommending passenger fares, setting performance standards for rail operations and creating a level playing policy for private sector participation.
- The RDA will be an independent body with separate budget. The independence is ensured through separate budget, appointment and removal process.
- RDA will be based in Delhi with an initial corpus of Rs. 50 crore and will be set up through an executive order.
- The RDA will act within the parameters of the Railway Act, 1989 and only make recommendations to the Ministry which will take a final call on passenger and freight fares.
Composition of RDA:
- The Authority will have a Chairman and three members with a fixed term of five years and will be allowed to engage experts from various fields.
- The Chairman and members of the Authority will be appointed by a Search and Selection Committee headed by the Cabinet Secretary with members including the Railway Board Chairman, Department of Personnel and Training Secretary and Chairman of any regulatory body of the Central Government nominated by the Cabinet Secretary.
Centre mulls financial assistance to fisherfolk
The Centre plans to provide fisherfolk community financial assistance and introduce norms to improve labour conditions in the fisheries sector.
- However, it will ensure that the Indian fishing fleet does not engage in ‘Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated’ (IUU) fishing, according to the National Policy on Marine Fisheries, 2017.
Need for financial assistance:
- Fishermen are having difficulties in availing institutional credit to buy fishing implements and crafts, and that the risky nature of returns has led to many fishermen falling into the debt trap of private financiers and middlemen.
- Currently, about four million people — mainly small-scale and artisanal fishers — in India depending on marine fisheries resources for livelihood.
- The Indian marine fisheries account for an economic wealth of about Rs. 65,000 crore. The policy is needed to guide the coordination and management of India’s marine fisheries during the next 10 years.
Therefore, the Centre, with the help of National Bank of Agriculture and Rural Development, will provide financial assistance to fishermen with liberal terms and conditions.
What is IUU Fishing?
- IUU or illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing is fishing that is conducted contradictory to legal conservation and management measures currently in place around the world.
- IUU fishing includes all fishing that breaks fisheries laws or occurs outside the reach of fisheries laws and regulations.
- An important part of IUU fishing is illegal fishing, which usually refers to fishing without a license, fishing in a closed area, fishing with prohibited gear, fishing over a quota, or the fishing of prohibited species.
Problem of IUU Fishing:
- Most of the world’s fish is caught in the national waters of coastal States. Illegal fishing in such areas can range from a licensed vessel fishing more than its allowed catch to a vessel coming into the zone with no fishing license at all, or even a vessel crew not reporting or underreporting their catch—even if the vessel is licensed to catch that species.
- A lot of unregulated fishing occurs on the high seas. The high seas are international waters beyond the exclusive economic zone, which extends 200 nautical miles from the shoreline, of a coastal state.
- Patchy regulation, little enforcement, and the vast expanse of the ocean—the high seas cover almost 45 percent of our planet—combine to allow rampant illegal and unregulated fishing in those areas.
- Even when unregulated fishing on the high seas does not break any national law, it can have a significant harmful impact on marine life in the world’s oceans.
Why does IUU fishing occur?
Too many fishers chasing too few fish
- If fishing “capacity” is the ability of a vessel or fleet of vessels to catch fish, “overcapacity” means a level of catching power that exceeds what is needed.
- Currently the fishing industry has too much capital invested in vessels that it must operate to realize a return.
High and growing demand for seafood
- As world populations continue to soar, the demand for seafood, an attainable protein resource, increases, and fisheries stocks are harvested beyond their ability to sustainably reproduce.
- IUU fishing is highly profitable so a strong economic incentive exists to participate.
- The complexity of the fishing industry and the many levels of organization involved leave it vulnerable to the influence of organized crime and corruption.
- Fishing vessels may also be used in activities such as drug or human trafficking.
What are the results of IUU fishing?
IUU fishing can have far reaching consequences.
In the short-term,
- IUU fishing results in the unsustainable harvest of fish stocks and other marine wildlife, destruction of marine habitats, loss of fish for future harvest, loss of nutrition, and loss of income and employment for legitimate fishers.
In the long term,
- IUU fishing can deplete local, and potentially global, fish stocks to the point where they become commercially unviable or even push them to the brink of extinction.
- IUU fishing can also undermine labour standards, distort markets of legally harvested fish, and contribute to the loss of economic stability in developing coastal nations.
NGOs told to open accounts with core banks
The Home Ministry has instructed 5,845 NGOs to open their accounts in banks having core banking facilities.
- The NGOs are also required to furnish the account details for real time access of security agencies in case of any discrepancy.
- The move is aimed at checking “errant” NGOs especially those organizations receiving foreign funding.
- The Home Ministry has mandated the NGOs registered under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act to have their accounts in either nationalised banks or in a few private banks that has core banking facilities.
- Around 3,768 NGOs have been told that their accounts in banks does not have core banking facilities.
- Another 2,077 NGOs have been instructed to furnish their bank accounts details as such details are not available with the home ministry.
Significance of the move:
- The core banking system with all of the branches of the networked banks interconnected would allow the security agencies to access the accounts of the NGOs on real time basis.
Govt sets up Task Force to help compute timely employment data
The government has set up a task force headed by NITI Aayog vice-chairman Arvind Panagariya to come up with a methodology to generate timely and reliable employment data.
- The Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself has initiated the process and has asked the task force to submit its recommendations at the earliest.
Need for this data:
- India does not have reliable data on jobs. The available data is currently outdated.
- The data on jobs in the informal sector which employs country’s majority of the workforce is not easliy available.
- Also, the data released by the Labour Bureau is restricted to the organized sector. National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) data which is the most comprehensive data available on jobs is generated with a time lag.
- Better data on jobs data will help policy planners assess the impact of policies on jobs and will shed light on the actual size of the informal economy
Labour market in India:
- India’s labour market constitutes of over 470 million people.
- According to CRISIL, around 18 million people enter the workforce every year.
- As per the data with the NSSO, India had created around 59.9 million jobs between 1999-2000 and 2004-05 and created nearly two million jobs between 2004-05 and 2009-10. Between 2009-10 and 2011-12, 13.9 million jobs were created in the country.
Issues related to Health & Education
Multidrug-resistant TB will rise in India, says new study
According to a study, Multidrug Resistant-Tuberculosis (MDR-TB), a version of the disease where patients do not respond to first-line drugs, will become more common than it is now.
- The report projects that, by 2040, the percentage of MDR-TB will make up 32.5% of all TB cases in Russia, 12.4% of the TB cases in India, 8.9% of the TB cases in the Philippines, and 5.7% of all TB cases in South Africa.
As per the report,
- India is home to the most serious ‘hotspots’ of MDR-TB transmission, especially overcrowded cities such as Mumbai.
- Not only does India shoulder the highest TB burden in the world, with over 2 million of the 10 million reported cases, it also accounts for the most drug-resistant patients — nearly 1.3 lakh people who do not respond to first-line drugs.
- Besides, access to medicines is also worrying. Two new TB drugs, Bedaquiline and Delamanid are being used in Europe and the U.S. for several years. But they are yet to be made available in India’s national healthcare system.
- The drug is available only in six sites across the country, and according to the Health Ministry’s TB report, only 207 of the 79,000 patients who need the drug have access to it.
- It is estimated that each year there are 10.4 million new cases of TB, leading to 1.8 million deaths globally.
- Nearly 40% of all drug-resistant cases occur in Russia, India, the Philippines, and South Africa – accounting for more than 230,000 cases of drug-resistant disease in 2015.
What is tuberculosis (TB)?
- Tuberculosis (TB) is a disease caused by bacteria that are spread from person to person through the air.
- TB usually affects the lungs, but it can also affect other parts of the body, such as the brain, the kidneys, or the spine.
- In most cases, TB is treatable and curable; however, persons with TB can die if they do not get proper treatment.
What is multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR TB)?
- Multidrug-resistant TB (MDR TB) is caused by an organism that is resistant to at least isoniazid and rifampin, the two most potent TB drugs. These drugs are used to treat all persons with TB disease.
How does drug resistance happen?
- Resistance to anti-TB drugs can occur when these drugs are misused or mismanaged. Examples include when patients do not complete their full course of treatment; when health-care providers prescribe the wrong treatment, the wrong dose, or length of time for taking the drugs; when the supply of drugs is not always available; or when the drugs are of poor quality.
What is extensively drug resistant tuberculosis (XDR TB)?
- Extensively drug resistant TB (XDR TB) is a rare type of MDR TB that is resistant to isoniazid and rifampin, plus any fluoroquinolone and at least one of three injectable second-line drugs (i.e., amikacin, kanamycin, or capreomycin).
- Because XDR TB is resistant to the most potent TB drugs, patients are left with treatment options that are much less effective.
- XDR TB is of special concern for persons with HIV infection or other conditions that can weaken the immune system. These persons are more likely to develop TB disease once they are infected, and also have a higher risk of death once they develop TB.
Science & Technology
Railways to acquire EOTT system to run trains without guards
The Indian Railways has planned to acquire the End of Train Telemetry (EoTT) equipments to run nearly 1,000 trains without guards in the current fiscal.
- All goods trains on the proposed dedicated freight corridors will run with EoTT system.
- Railways had earlier undertaken the trial run of the EoTT system successfully.
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?
- EoTT system comprises two units one unit called cab display unit (CDU) fitted on the locomotive and the other is sense and brake unit (SBU) fitted on the last coach or wagon of the train.
- Both the units are fitted with radio transmitter which communicate with each other.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 Facts for Prelims
May 11: National Technology Day
- National Technology Day is being observed across India on May 11 to mark India’s technological advancements.
- 2017 National Technology Day Theme: ‘Technology for inclusive and sustainable growth’.
- The day is being commemorated to celebrate the anniversary of first of the five tests of Operation Shakti (Pokhran-II) nuclear test, held on 11 May 1998 in Pokhran, Rajasthan.
- The operation was led by the former President APJ Abdul Kalam. After conducting two more tests as a part of the Pokhran-II/Operation Shakti initiative, India was declared as a nuclear state by the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
- On this same day country’s first indigenous aircraft Hansa-3 was test flown at Bangalore.
- India also conducted successful test firing of the Trishul missile on the same day. The Trishul missile was developed as a part of the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). The Trishul Missile got inducted by the Indian Army and Indian Airforce.
- Considering all these technical achievements, 11 May was chosen to be commemorated as National Technology Day.
- To commemorate this day, Technology Development Board (TDB) has instituted a National Award. This award is conferred on to various individuals and industries by the President for their successful achievement in commercialization of Indigenous Technology.
- Albino orangutan is in news as the public are being asked to name a rare albino orangutan rescued in the Indonesian part of Borneo island, with conservationists saying she has become an “ambassador” for the threatened species.
- Orangutans are the two exclusively Asian species of extant great apes. Native to Indonesia and Malaysia, orangutans are currently found in only the rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra.
- Both orangutan species are considered to be “critically endangered”, with the Sumatran orangutan being critically endangered since 2008.
- Orangutans are among the most intelligent primates; they use a variety of sophisticated tools and construct elaborate sleeping nests each night from branches and foliage.