Polity & Governance
- Cabinet approves Extension of tenure of the National Commission for SafaiKarmacharis
- Citizenship amendment bill, triple talaq bill set to lapse on June 3
- 99.82% projects in forests got nod
Government Schemes & Policies
- Government to continue credit linked capital subsidy scheme
- Parliament passes law removing leprosy as ground for divorce
- Cabinet approves Introduction of Registration of Marriage of NRI Bill 2019
Issues related to Health & Education
- Kerala takes the lead in tackling trans fat hazard
- AYUSH Minister launches e-AUSHADHI portal
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- Environment Minister releases publication depicting steps taken by India to combat climate change
Key Facts for Prelims
- Mohar reservoir project
- ‘Exercise Topchi’
- 1st Aqua Mega Food Park in Andhra Pradesh
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Polity & Governance
Cabinet approves Extension of tenure of the National Commission for SafaiKarmacharis
The Union Cabinet has approved the proposal for Extension of tenure of the ‘National Commission for SafaiKarmacharis’ (NCSK) beyond 31st March, 2019 for three years.
National Commission for SafaiKarmacharis (NCSK):
- The NCSK was established in the year 1993 as per the provisions of the NCSK Act 1993 initially for the period up to March, 1997.
- Later the validity of the Act was initially extended up to March, 2002 and thereafter up to February, 2004. The NCSK Act ceased to have effect in February, 2004.
- After that the tenure of the NCSK has been extended as a non-statutory body from time to time. The tenure of the present Commission is upto 31st March, 2019.
Why the tenure of NCSK is extended?
- Though the Government has taken many steps for the upliftment of the SafaiKaramcharis, the deprivation suffered by them in socio-economic terms is still far from being eliminated.
- Further the practice of manual scavenging is still prevalent in the country and its eradication continues to be an area of the highest priority for the Government.
- Hence, the Government feels that there is a need to achieve the goal of complete eradication of the practice of manual scavenging in the country.
Role of NCSK:
The NCSK has been giving its recommendations to the Government regarding specific programmes for welfare of SafaiKaramcharis.
- It studies and evaluate the existing welfare programmes for SafaiKaramcharis.
- It investigates cases of specific grievances.
- It monitors the implementation of the ‘Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation’ Act.
- Tender advice for its effective implementation to Governments and enquire into complaints regarding contravention of the provisions of the Act.
Citizenship amendment bill, triple talaq bill set to lapse on June 3
The contentious Citizenship (amendment) Bill and the one on banning triple talaq are set to lapse on June 3 when the term of the present Lok Sabha ends as they could not be passed in the Rajya Sabha which adjourned sine die.
- The Budget session was the last Parliament session of the present government.
Articles 107 and Article 108 of the Indian Constitution:
- Articles 107 and 108 of the Indian Constitution deals with the provisions related to the lapse of bill.
- Unless the Bill has elapsed by reason of a dissolution of the Lok Sabha, summon them to meet in a joint sitting for the purpose of deliberating and voting on the Bill.
- When the Lok Sabha is dissolved, all the bills, motions, resolutions, notices pending before it or its committees lapse.
Provisions related to lapse of bill in Indian Parliament:
A bill lapses when:
- A bill originated in the Lok Sabha and pending in the Lok Sabha.
- A bill originated and passed by the Lok Sabha but pending in the Rajya Sabha.
- A bill originated and passed by the Rajya Sabha but pending in Lok Sabha.
- A bill originated in the Rajya Sabha and returned to that House by the Lok Sabha with amendments and still pending in the Rajaya Sabha lapses on dissolution of Lok Sabha.
A bill does not lapse when:
- A bill not passed by the two Houses due to disagreement and if the president has notified the holding of a joint sitting before the dissolution of Lok Sabha, does not lapse.
- A bill pending in the Rajya Sabha but not passed by the Lok Sabha does not lapse.
- A bill passed by both Houses but pending assent of the president does not lapse.
- A bill passed by both Houses but returned by the president for reconsideration of Houses does not lapse.
A sitting of Parliament can be terminated by adjournment or adjournment sine die or prorogation or dissolution (in the case of the Lok Sabha).
- An adjournment is a procedure by which the work in a sitting suspends for a specified time, which may be hours, days or weeks while in prorogation
- Adjournment terminates the sitting of Parliament for a specified time which includes adjournment sine die, prorogation and dissolution.
- Adjournment sine die means terminating a sitting of Parliament for an indefinite period and it is done by presiding officer of the House.
- The president issues a notification for prorogation of the session after few days of declaration of adjournment sine die by the Speaker or Chairman.
- It not only terminates a sitting but a session of the House and does not affect the bills or any other business pending before the House.
Adjournment vs Prorogation:
- Adjournment only terminates a sitting and not a session of the House while Prorogation does not only terminate a sitting but also a session of the House.
- Adjournment is done by presiding officer of the House while Prorogation is done by the president of India.
- Adjournment and Prorogation do not affect the bills or any other business pending before the House and the same can be resumed when the House meets again
- However, all pending notices (other than those for introducing bills) lapse on prorogation and fresh notices have to be given for the next session.
99.82% projects in forests got nod
India’s apex National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) has been charged with allowing forest land in Protected Areas to be diverted for industry.
- NBWL has cleared 682 of the 687 projects (99.82%). Only five projects were rejected since August 2014.
- The environment ministry has delegated all powers of the NBWL to a compliant Standing Committee which regularly meets and clears projects in Protected Areas with little due diligence.
- Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 specifies that the body must consist of 10 ecologists and 5 NGOs but in July 2014, the NBWL had just two conservationists and only one NGO.
National Board for Wildlife:
- The National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) is constituted by the Central Government under Section 5 A of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 (WLPA).
- The NBWL is formally headed by the Prime Minister.
- It adjudicates on industrial projects, road diversions or the like that could encroach into Protected Areas or eco-sensitive zones of forests.
- The Standing Committee of NBWL shall consist of the Vice-Chairperson (Union Minister in charge of Forests and Wildlife) the Member Secretary and not more than ten members to be nominated by the Vice-Chairperson from amongst the members of the National Board.
- The WLPA mandates that without the approval/recommendation of the NBWL, construction of tourist lodges, alteration of the boundaries of PAs, destruction or diversion of wildlife habitat and de-notification of Tiger Reserves, cannot be done.
Government Schemes & Policies
Government to continue credit linked capital subsidy scheme
The Central government will continue the “Credit Linked Capital Subsidy and Technology Upgradation Scheme” for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) beyond the 12th Plan period for three years from 2017-18 to 2019-20.
- The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved the continuation of the scheme with a total outlay of Rs 2,900 crore.
Credit Linked Capital Subsidy and Technology Upgradation Scheme (CLCSS):
- This scheme aims at facilitating technology up-gradation by providing 15% on institutional finance of upto Rs 1 crore availed by them) up front capital subsidy to MSEs, including tiny, khadi, village and coir industrial units.
Other Objective of the scheme:
- Hand holding for zero defect zero effect manufacturing (ZED)
- Increasing productivity through waste reduction (Lean),
- Design intervention (Design),
- Cloud computing (Digital MSMEs),
- Facilitation of intellectual property (IPR)
- Nurturing new ideas (Incubation)
- The Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) and the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD)
Parliament passes law removing leprosy as ground for divorce
The Parliament has passed the Personal Laws (Amendment Bill), 2018 that seeks to remove leprosy as a ground for divorce under five personal laws including the Hindu Marriage Act.
Highlights of Bill:
- The Personal Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2018 seeks to remove leprosy as a ground for divorce.
- Bill attempts to end the discrimination against leprosy in five central laws:
- Hindu Marriage Act, 1955
- Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939
- Divorce Act (for Christians), 1869
- Special Marriage Act, 1954
- The Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956
- The Law Commission in its report had recommended repeal of laws and provisions which were discriminatory against leprosy affected people.
- The passing of Bill is encouraging since it recognises leprosy as a medical condition, as a disease which can be diagnosed, treated, and cured.
Need for such Bill:
- It is in keeping with the UN General Assembly Resolution of 2010 on the ‘Elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members’ that it was introduced.
- India has signed and ratified the Resolution.
- Over 110 Central and State laws discriminate against leprosy patients. These laws stigmatise and isolate leprosy patients and, coupled with age-old beliefs about leprosy, cause the patients untold suffering.
- The biased provisions in these statutes were introduced prior to medical advancements. Now, modern medicine specifically, multi-drug therapy (MDT) completely cures the disease.
Earlier attempt to pass the bill:
- Rajya Sabha Committee on Petitions, in its 131st Report on ‘Petition praying for integration and empowerment of leprosy-affected persons’ desired that concerned Ministries should remove discriminatory provisions.
What is Leprosy?
- Leprosy is a chronic infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae. It usually affects the skin and peripheral nerves, but has a wide range of clinical manifestations.
- The disease is characterized by long incubation period generally 5-7 years and is classified as paucibacillary or mulitbacillary, depending on the bacillary load. Leprosy is a leading cause of permanent physical disability.
- The disease is caused by mycobacterium leprae.
- It is also known as Hansen’s disease.
- Timely diagnosis and treatment of cases, before nerve damage has occurred, is the most effective way of preventing disability due to leprosy.
Transmission of Leprosy:
- It spreads through the contact with the mucus of an infected person.
- This usually occurs when the infected person sneezes or coughs however this disease isn’t highly contagious.
Leprosy in India:
- In 2014, India had the largest number of latest leprosy cases globally.
- From 2005 till 2014, the National Leprosy Eradication Programme (NLEP) recorded a rate of 1.25 to 1.35 lakh new cases each year.
- With medical advances, it’s currently a very curable disease.
- Although, a serious hurdle is that the social stigma related to leprosy as well as lots of persons affected by leprosy still be outcast from society.
- The Law Commission has prepared a model draft legislation, titled “Eliminating Discrimination Against Persons affected by leprosy (EDPAL) Bill, 2015”.
- This draft law contains principles of equal protection that must be provided to all persons affected by leprosy or members of their family.
- The leprosy Mission Trust India (TLMTI) helps to pass the law commissions 256th report of EDPAL draft by persistent awareness raising initiatives.
Cabinet approves Introduction of Registration of Marriage of NRI Bill 2019
Union Cabinet has approved the introduction of ‘Registration of Marriage of Non-Resident Indian (NRI) Bill’, 2019 to protect Indian women from exploitation by NRI husbands.
- The Bill provides for amendment of the legal framework to act as a deterrent to the erring NRI spouses and creating more accountability and offer protection against exploitation of Indian Citizens married to NRIs.
Need for such bill:
- The bill has been introduced with the hope of restricting NRI husbands from using marriage as a tool of exploitation and making money and providing better enforcement of rights for the deserted woman under the family laws.
- The introduction of the Bill was necessitated due to numerous complaints received from Indian nationals mostly women, who were deserted or harassed by their Non-Resident Indian Spouses.
- Since marriage takes place outside India, there are no records or legal documents for further procedures to be initiated against the offender.
Highlights of the Bill:
- Proposes mandatory registration of marriage in India or Indian Missions & Posts abroad within 30 days.
- If the marriage isn’t registered within 30 days, passport of the NRI will be revoked and summons and warrant be issued.
- If he fails to appear in court, his properties will be attached and he will be declared ‘proclaimed offender’.
- After the bill’s passing, the necessary changes would be carried out in the Passports Act, 1967 and Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 by insertion of Section 86A.
Significance of this Bill:
- Serving Judicial summons for Court proceedings in India is a major problem, which would be taken care of by this Bill by amending the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
- Thus, the Bill would offer great protection to Indian citizens married to NRIs and serve as a deterrent to NRIs against harassment of their spouses.
- This Bill would benefit Indian women married to NRIs worldwide.
Issues related to Health & Education
Kerala takes the lead in tackling trans fat hazard
The Health Department has drawn up an action plan to generate public awareness on the harmful effects of trans fatty acids (TFA) in commercially available food items and to encourage the local food industry to meet the current statutory limits set for TFA.
- Various studies suggest that an unhealthy diet with a high TFA content is a significant factor that pushes up metabolic syndrome and the burden of its associated complications amongst Keralites.
- The department is being supported in this initiative by Vital Strategies, the nutrition wing of the World Bank, WHO, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), and the State Food Safety wing, which will be in charge of enforcement.
- In November 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) made a preliminary determination that partially hydrogenated oils are no longer Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) in human food.
What are trans fats?
- Also called trans-unsaturated fatty acids or trans fatty acids, is a type of unsaturated fat that occurs in small amounts in nature, but became widely produced industrially from vegetable fats.
- Artificial TFAs are formed when hydrogen is made to react with the oil to produce fats resembling pure ghee/butter.
- There are two broad types of trans fats found in foods: naturally-occurring and artificial trans fats.
- Naturally–occurring trans fats are produced in the gut of some animals and foods made from these animals (e.g., milk and meat products) may contain small quantities of these fats.
- Artificial trans–are created in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid.
- TFA containing oils can be preserved longer, they give the food the desired shape and texture and can easily substitute ‘Pure ghee’. These are comparatively far lower in cost and thus add to profit/saving.
How do trans fats affect our health?
- TFAs pose a higher risk of heart disease than saturated fats. While saturated fats raise total cholesterol levels, TFAs not only raise total cholesterol levels but also reduce the good cholesterol (HDL), which helps to protect us against heart disease. Trans fats consumption increases the risk of developing heart disease and stroke.
- It is also associated with a higher risk of developing obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, infertility, certain types of cancers and can also lead to compromised fetal development causing harm to the yet to be born baby.
Food Sources of Trans fats:
- In our diet the major sources of artificial TFAs are the partially hydrogenated vegetable oils (PHVO)/vanaspati/ margarine while the natural TFAs are present in meats and dairy products, though in small amounts.
- Any food that contains the ingredients which is referred to partially hydrogenated oils refers to contain TFAs in less or more amount.
WHO recommendations on trans fats:
WHO has released draft recommendations on limiting the intake of trans fats.
- Saturated fatty acids should not comprise more than 10% of your daily calorie intake.
- Trans fatty acids should not comprise more than 1% of your daily calorie intake.
- Use heart-healthy polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) as replacement.
- The recommendations are applicable to both adults and children.
AYUSH Minister launches e-AUSHADHI portal
Minister of State (IC) for AYUSH (Ayurvedic, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy) launched the e-AUSHADHI portal, for online licensing of Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and Homoeopathy drugs and related matters.
Features of Portal:
- e- AUSHADHI (Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy Automated Drug Help Initiative) is a web based application which deals with the management of stocks of various drugs, sutures and surgical items required by different drug warehouses of state.
- e-AUSHADHI portal is intended for increased transparency, improved information management facility, improved data usability and increased accountability.
- Fixed timeline for processing of application through this portal with SMS and e-mail status updates at each step will give transparency to the portal.
- This portal will aid the licensing authority, manufactures and consumers.
- It will also provide real time information of the licensed manufactures and their products, cancelled and spurious drugs, contact details of the concerned authority for specific grievances.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
Environment Minister releases publication depicting steps taken by India to combat climate change
Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (EFCC) released a publication on climate actions titled ‘India – Spearheading Climate Solutions’.
- The publication mentions the key initiatives undertaken by India under various sectors towards combating and adapting to climate change.
Major initiatives included in the publication are:
Besides this, the publication also highlights initiatives like
State Action Plan on Climate Change (SAPCC):
- Due to India’s federal structure, states have the primarily responsibility to address climate change in their constituencies.
- In order to create a coherent national framework, the national government has directed the State Action Plan on Climate Change.
- It requires sub-national authorities to prepare State Action Plans on Climate Change (SAPCCs) in line with national climate policy.
- It is largest exercise in sub-national climate change planning in the world.
FAME Scheme – for E-mobility:
- The FAME India (Faster Adoption and Manufacture of (Hybrid and) Electric Vehicles) Scheme was launched by the Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises in 2015 under the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP).
- It aims to incentivize the production of eco-friendly vehicles including electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles.
Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) – for Smart Cities:
- The Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), launched in 2015, seeks to provide basic civic amenities to improve the quality of life for especially the poor and the disadvantaged.
Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana:
- Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, launched in May 2016, aimed at replacing the unclean cooking fuels mostly used in the rural India with the clean and more efficient LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas).
- Under the scheme, the government aims to provide LPG connections to Below poverty line (BPL) households in India.
- The main objective of the scheme is to promote efficient lighting, enhance awareness on using efficient equipment which reduce electricity bills.
- The Electricity Distribution Company and Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) a public sector body of Government of India are implementing the programme.
- UJALA scheme consumers can avail from a minimum of 2 to a maximum of 10 LED bulbs, depending on the region.
Swachh Bharat Mission:
- Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) is a nation-wide campaign in India for the period 2014 to 2019 that aims to clean up the streets, roads and infrastructure of India.
- The mission has two thrusts: Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (“gramin” or ‘rural’), which operates under the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation; and Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (‘urban’), which operates under the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.
The publication also highlights India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) which covers eight major missions namely:
- Enhanced Energy Efficiency
- Sustainable Habitat
- Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem
- Green India
- Sustainable Agriculture and Strategic Knowledge on Climate Change
- International Solar Alliances (ISA).
- In December-2018, India submitted its Second Biennial Update Report (BUR) to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which said that the emission intensity of India’s GDP came down by 21 % between 2005 and 2014.
Key Facts for Prelims
Mohar reservoir project
- The latest Comptroller and Auditor General report on Chhattisgarh says that the Chhattisgarh Water Resources Department (CWRD) commenced the work on Mohar Reservoir Project in Balod district without ensuring the land required was acquired and obtaining environment and forest clearances.
About Mohar reservoir project:
- The Mohar reservoir project is proposed across the confluence of river Dangarh and Dalekasa with a catchment of 143 square km.
- The gross command area of the project is 1100 hectares.
- The proposed project is expected to irrigate 800 hectares of Kharif paddy and supply 1000 million cubic (1 TMC) water by feeder canal to Kharkhara reservoir for 500MW power plant of NSPCL in Bhilai.
- It is an annual exercise held by Indian Army to showcase its artillery firepower, aviation and surveillance capabilities.
- The latest edition was held at Deolali Camp near Nashik.
1st Aqua Mega Food Park in Andhra Pradesh
- The government has commissioned Godavari Mega Aqua Food Park at Tundurru Village in Bhimavaram Mandal, West Godavari District, Andhra Pradesh.
- This is the 1st Mega Aqua Food Park operationalised exclusively established for fish and marine products processing in the State of Andhra Pradesh.
- It will provide a platform and establish backward and forward linkages covering the entire aqua food processing value chain, quality assurance, food safety and implementation of best practices in post-harvest management.