Polity & Governance
- CJI first among equals, power to allocate work: SC
- RBI tightens monitoring of outward remittances
- Bhanu Pratap Sharma replaces Vinod Rai as Banks Board Bureau chairman
- NCERT publishes info on child helplines in textbooks
Government Schemes & Policies
- WHO directives call for support for breastfeeding
- SIDBI to focus on 115 aspirational districts, promote micro enterprises
- NHAI signs agreement for its First International Project
Key Facts for Prelims
- India benefits from AIIB loans
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Polity & Governance
CJI first among equals, power to allocate work: SC
The Supreme Court has reiterated that Chief Justice of India (CJI) is first among equals and has exclusive prerogative to allocate cases and constitute benches.
- The ruling has dismissed PIL that sought directions to regulate CJI’s power to form benches and allocate cases.
What is the SC ruling?
- The CJI in his capacity as judge is primus inter pares, first among equals.
- In discharge of his other functions, CJI occupies position which is sui generis, in class by itself. Article 146 reaffirms position CJI as head of institution. From institutional perspective, CJI is placed at helm of SC.
- In the allocation of cases and constitution of benches, CJI has exclusive prerogative. CJI is institution in himself as he is repository of constitutional trust.
- The authority which is conferred upon CJI is vested in high constitutional functionary necessary for efficient transaction of administrative and judicial work of SC.
- The ultimate purpose behind entrustment of authority to CJI is to ensure that SC is able to fulfil and discharge constitutional obligations which govern and provide rationale for its existence.
- The entrustment of functions to CJI as head of institution, is with purpose of securing position of SC as independent safeguard for preservation of personal liberty.
- There cannot be a presumption of mistrust. The oath of office demands nothing less.
RBI tightens monitoring of outward remittances
The Reserve Bank has tightened reporting norms for the Liberalised Remittance Scheme (LRS). Now banks will be required to upload daily transaction-wise information undertaken by them under LRS.
- Currently, the LRS transactions are permitted by banks based on declaration made by remitter. The monitoring of adherence to limit is confined to obtaining such declaration without independent verification, in absence of reliable source of information.
- Now under tightened reporting norms, daily reporting system by Authorised Dealer (AD) banks of transactions undertaken by individuals under LRS has been placed, which will be accessible to all the other ADs. It will be mandatory for banks to upload daily transaction-wise information undertaken by them under LRS.
What is Liberalised Remittance Scheme (LRS)?
LRS is facility provided by RBI for all resident individuals including minors to freely remit upto certain amount in terms of US Dollar for current and capital account purposes or combination of both.
- The scheme was introduced in February 2004 and its regulations are provided under Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), 1999.
- Under LRS, individuals can make remittances for overseas education, travel, medical treatment, maintenance to relatives living abroad, gifting and donations. The remitted money can be used for purchase of shares and property as well.
- Individuals can also open, maintain and hold foreign currency accounts with overseas banks for carrying out transactions under it.
- After it was launched, the LRS limit was US $25,000, but it has been revised in stages consistent with prevailing macro and micro economic conditions.
- At present, LRS limit for all resident individuals, including minors, is US $2,50,000 (Rs. 1.5 crore) per financial year.
- Under LRS, remittances cannot be used for trading on foreign exchange markets, purchase of Foreign Currency Convertible Bonds issued abroad by Indian companies and margin or margin calls to overseas exchanges and counterparties.
- Similarly, individuals are not allowed to send money to countries identified as ‘non cooperative jurisdictions’ by Financial Action Task Force (FAFT).
- It also prohibits remittances to entities identified as posing terrorist risks.
Bhanu Pratap Sharma replaces Vinod Rai as Banks Board Bureau chairman
The Union Finance Ministry has reconstituted Banks Board Bureau (BBB) and appointed former bureaucrat Bhanu Pratap Sharma as its chairman.
- The reconstituted BBB will have two-year tenure, same as its predecessor.
About the Banks Board Bureau:
- With a view to improve the Governance of Public Sector Banks (PSBs), the Government had decided to set up an autonomous Banks Board Bureau in August last year.
- The bureau was announced as part of the seven-point Indradhanush plan to revamp PSBs.
- BBB is an autonomous body.
- The bureau will have three ex-officio members and three expert members, in addition to the Chairman. All the Members and Chairman will be part time.
- The Bureau is mandated to play a critical role in reforming the troubled public sector banks by recommending appointments to leadership positions and boards in those banks and advise them on ways to raise funds and how to go ahead with mergers and acquisitions.
- It will constantly engage with the boards of all 22 public sector banks to formulate appropriate strategies for their growth and development.
- They will also constantly engage with the Board of Directors of all the public sector banks to formulate appropriate strategies for their growth and development.
- The bureau will search and select heads of public sector banks and help them develop differentiated strategies of capital raising plans to innovative financial methods and instruments.
- It would also be responsible for selection of non-executive chairman and non-official directors on the boards.
NCERT publishes info on child helplines in textbooks
To equip the children with the information regarding the possible modes of protection/complaints, the National Council Of Educational Research And Training (NCERT) has published the information regarding Childline (1098) 24×7 Helpline for children and POCSO e-box on the back side of the front cover of all course books from Class 6 to Class 12.
What is POCSO e-box?
Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO), e-Box, is an online complaint management system for easy and direct reporting of sexual offences against children and timely action against the offenders under the POCSO Act, 2012.
- It is an initiative of National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), for direct online reporting of Child Sexual Abuse.
Key features of the POCSO e-box:
- E-Box is very simple to operate and will help to maintain the confidentiality of the complaint.
- It is incorporated on the home page of National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) website- www.ncpcr.gov.in.
How to register a complaint?
- To register complain, a complainant will have to push a button named POSCO e-Box, which will navigate him/her to a page where he/she will have to select at least one picture option (describing the category of harassment).
- Later, he/she will also have to fill a form with details such as mobile number, e-mail and description of the harassment followed by the ‘submit’ button, after which a unique auto-generated complaint number will be flashed.
Sexual offences against children in India:
- Sexual offences against children are rampant but only a small percentage gets reported.
- According to a study, about 53% of children surveyed, reported having faced one or the other form of sexual abuse in their lifetime.
- In most cases, the offender is a family member/near relative or an acquaintance. The child victim in such cases generally does not report these offences.
Effects of sexual abuse on children:
- Sexual abuse scars the psyche of the affected child for entire life.
- A child who is sexually abused has to face very serious consequences such as cognitive impairment, violent and risk behaviour including depression and anxiety.
- Feeling shame and guilt with poor interpersonal relationship & self-esteem are other consequences of sexually abused children.
About POSCO Act:
- Being concerned about such offences against children, the Government enacted POCSO Act, 20012 to protect them from offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography, while safeguarding the interest of the child at every stage of the judicial process.
- This is achieved by incorporating child friendly mechanisms for reporting, recording of evidence, investigation and speedy trial of offences through designated Special Courts.
- It is important to note that any human being up to the age of 18 years is recognised as a child under the POCSO Act.
Government Schemes & Policies
WHO directives call for support for breastfeeding
The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have issued a new 10-step guidance to increase support for breastfeeding in health facilities that provide maternity and newborn services.
- It will provide the immediate health system platform to help mothers initiate breastfeeding within the first hour and breastfeed exclusively for six months.
- The guidelines describe how hospitals should have a written breastfeeding policy in place, required staff competencies, and antenatal and post-birth care, including breastfeeding support for mothers.
- It also recommends limited use of breast milk substitutes, rooming-in, responsive feeding, educating parents on the use of bottles and pacifiers, and support when mothers and babies are discharged from hospital.
About the MAA Programme:
MAA (Mothers’ Absolute Affection) is an intensified programme of the Union Health Ministry that aims to enhance optimal breastfeeding practices in the country.
- It seeks to create an enabling environment to ensure that mothers, husbands and families receive adequate information and support for promotion of breastfeeding.
- It has been launched in an attempt to bring undiluted focus on promotion of breastfeeding and provision of counselling services for supporting breastfeeding through health systems.
- The programme has been named ‘MAA’ to signify the support a lactating mother requires from family members and at health facilities to breastfeed successfully.
- The chief components of the Programme are (i) Community awareness generation, (ii) Strengthening inter personal communication through ASHA, (iii) Skilled support for breastfeeding at Delivery points in Public health facilities, and (iv) Monitoring and Award/recognition.
SIDBI to focus on 115 aspirational districts, promote micro enterprises
Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) has charted a plan to promote micro enterprises in 115 aspirational districts across the country to contribute in their development. The bank has tied up with Common Service Centre (CSC) to meet this objective.
What is Transformation of Aspirational Districts Programme?
‘Transformation of Aspirational Districts’ was launched in January with an aim to quickly and effectively transform some of the most underdeveloped districts in the country.
- The broad contours of the programme are Convergence (of Central & State Schemes), Collaboration (of Central, State level ‘Prabhari’ Officers & District Collectors), and Competition among districts driven by a mass Movement.
- This will converge the central and state schemes, collaborate central, state and district collectors to strengthen these districts by identifying the low-hanging fruits for immediate improvement, measure progress and then rank the district by getting the data on a real-time basis.
Significance of the scheme:
- With states as the main drivers, this program will focus on the strength of each district, identify low-hanging fruits for immediate improvement, measure progress, and rank districts.
- Under the programme, identified districts are prodded and encouraged to first catch-up with the best district within their state, and subsequently aspire to become one of the best in the country, by competing with, and learning from others.
NHAI signs agreement for its First International Project
Work on the 1,000 km-long India-Myanmar-Thailand (IMT) Trilateral Highway officially started with the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) signing an agreement with a joint-venture (JV) between Punj Lloyd and Varaha Infra to upgrade the Yagyi-Kalewa section of the India-Myanmar Friendship Road in Myanmar.
- This is NHAI’s first international project agreement.
- The project has been funded by Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India and would be executed on EPC mode at a cost of Rs.1177 crores.
About IMT highway:
- The India–Myanmar–Thailand Trilateral Highway is a highway under construction under India’s Look East policy that will connect Moreh, India with Mae Sot, Thailand via Myanmar.
- The road is expected to boost trade and commerce in the ASEAN–India Free Trade Area, as well as with the rest of Southeast Asia.
- Once completed, greater flows of trade and investment will take place along the route, stimulating the movement of goods and people, creating jobs, promoting tourism as well as raising the livelihoods of the peoples in the region.
Significance of this highway for India:
- It will help improve connectivity between India’s remote Northeastern part and Southeast Asia. For long, the lack of physical connectivity with Southeast Asia has been an Achilles’ heel in India’s “Act-East Policy.” The trilateral highway will improve India’s connectivity with Myanmar and Thailand, and in the future there are plans to connect it with pre-existing roads and take it all the way to Vietnam.
- With the construction of this road, which started as the India-Myanmar friendship road way back in 2001, the recent non-attendance by India at China’s Belt and Road Forum in Beijing seems to have injected a new measure of earnestness among Indian policy planners when it comes to executing such road projects.
- Northeast India has been lagging behind other parts of the country when it comes to infrastructure. When completed, the IMT highway will also give easy access to the Northeastern states to the sea (via Myanmar).
- The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is an autonomous agency of the Government of India.
- It is responsible for management of a network of over 70,000 km of National Highways in India.
- It is a nodal agency of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.
- The NHAI was created through the promulgation of the National Highways Authority of India Act, 1988. In February 1995, the Authority was formally made an autonomous body.
- It is responsible for the development, maintenance, management and operation of National Highways.
Key Facts for Prelims
India benefits from AIIB loans
- India has emerged as the biggest beneficiary of the Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, soaking up a quarter of all its investment commitments to date, despite continuing diplomatic tension between New Delhi and Beijing.
- In the first two years of its existence, the AIIB — conceived by China as an alternative to the World Bank — approved $4.3bn worth of funding for infrastructure projects around Asia, over $1bn worth of which is due to go to schemes in India.