Polity & Governance
- Tea board proposes Rs 100 crore package for Darjeeling estates
- Lawyers as Seniors: Supreme Court frames rules for itself, 24 High Courts
Government Schemes & Policies
- Sampoorna Bima Gram Yojna launched, PLI initiative expanded
- IWAI raises Rs660 crore through bonds
Bilateral & International Relations
- India denounces call to give up nukes, sign NPT
- EX Mitra Shakti 2017
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Polity & Governance
Tea board proposes Rs 100 crore package for Darjeeling estates
The Tea Board has proposed a Rs 100-crore relief package for tea estates in the Darjeeling hills, where production has resumed after nearly three months of shutdown due to an agitation for a separate state.
- The relief package, however, has failed to bring cheer to the industry.
What’s the issue?
- Plucking and other operations at the 87 tea estates in the region had come to a halt after the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s strike call on June 9 demanding a separate state, called Gorkhaland.
- The growers of Darjeeling tea had sought Rs 325 crore as assistance to prune the overgrown bushes and prepare for production in April. But the demand was not accepted by the board which, on advice based on the Tea Research Association’s survey of the problem, cut it to Rs 100 crore.
- The strike, the first time in the history of Darjeeling tea industry, has wiped out almost 70% of the annual tea production.
About Tea Board of India:
The Tea Board of India is a state agency of the Government of India established to promote the cultivation, processing, and domestic trade as well as export of tea from India.
- It was established by the enactment of the Tea Act in 1953 with its headquarters in Kolkata.
- Its offices are located in Kolkata, London, Moscow and Dubai.
Organisation of the Board:
- The present Tea Board is functioning as a statutory body of the Central Government under the Ministry of Commerce.
- The Board is constituted of 31 members (including Chairman) drawn from Members of Parliament, tea producers, tea traders, tea brokers, consumers, and representatives of Governments from the principal tea producing states, and trade unions.
- The Board is reconstituted every three years.
Functions of the Tea Board of India:
The Tea Board has wide functions and responsibilities under the direction of the Central Government. Briefly the primary functions of the Tea Board are as under:
- Responsible for the assignment of certification numbers to exports of certain tea merchants. This certification is intended to ensure the teas’ origin, which in turn would reduce the amount of fraudulent labelling on rare teas such as ones harvested in Darjeeling.
- Rendering financial and technical assistance for cultivation, manufacture and marketing of tea.
- Export Promotion
- Aiding Research and Development activities for augmentation of tea production and improvement of tea quality.
- Extend financial assistance in a limited way to the plantation workers and their wards through labour welfare schemes.
- To encourage and assist both financially and technically the unorganised small growers sector.
- Collection and maintenance of Statistical data and publication
- Such other activities as are assigned from time to time by the Central Government.
Lawyers as Seniors: Supreme Court frames rules for itself, 24 High Courts
The Supreme Court of India has laid down guidelines for itself and 24 High Courts to govern the exercise of designating lawyers as seniors.
- The SC has also ordered setting up of a permanent committee headed by the Chief Justice of India assisted by a secretariat.
- The direction came based on a petition challenging the designation process.
Provisions for senior advocate:
- Section 16(1) of the Advocates Act, 1961 recognises senior advocates. Section 16(2) says that “an advocate may, with his consent, be designated as senior advocate if the Supreme Court or a High Court is of opinion that by virtue of his ability (standing the Bar or special knowledge or experience in law) he is deserving or such distinction.”
- Supreme Court rules say “the Chief Justice and the judges may with the consent of the advocate, designate an advocate as senior advocate if in their opinion by virtue of his ability; standing at the Bar or special knowledge or experience in law the said advocate is deserving of such distinction.” It was contended that this was not transparent.
Composition of the permanent committee:
- In the case of the Supreme Court, the permanent committee will comprise the Chief Justice of India and two seniormost companion judges, Attorney General of India and a representative from the bar nominated by the first four members.
- For the HCs, it will have the Chief Justice of the respective HC and the Advocate General of the state in place of CJI and Attorney General.
Selection procedure of a permanent secretariat:
A permanent secretariat will be set up to which applications including proposals from the judges will be submitted.
- On receipt of such applications or proposals from Hon’ble Judges, the Secretariat will compile the relevant data and information with regard to the reputation, conduct, integrity of the Advocate(s) concerned including his/her participation in pro bono work; reported judgments in which the concerned Advocate(s) had appeared; the number of such judgments for the last five years.
- The Secretariat will publish the proposal of designation of a particular Advocate in the official website of the Court concerned inviting the suggestions and views of other stakeholders in the proposed designation. The cases will then be put up before the Permanent Committee for scrutiny.
- The Committee will interview the candidate and make an overall evaluation on the basis of his/her number of years of practice, judgments (reported and unreported) which indicate the legal formulations advanced by the Advocate concerned in the course of the proceedings of the case, pro bono work done by him/her, domain expertise of the applicant in various branches of law and publications by the advocate.
- The candidates will also have to take a personality test. After a name is considered and approved by the permanent committee, it will be put before the Full Court (involving SC/HC judges as the case may be) which will decide to accord senior designation to an advocate either unanimously or by majority, through secret ballot. The Full Court may also recall the senior designation of a lawyer if it feels he is guilty of conduct that disentitles him to the same.
Government Schemes & Policies
Sampoorna Bima Gram Yojna launched, PLI initiative expanded
Communications Minister Manoj Sinha launched the Sampoorna Bima Gram (SBG) Yojana and an initiative for expansion of clientele base of Postal Life Insurance.
- It aims to provide affordable life insurance services to people and promote financial inclusion, particularly those living in rural areas of the country.
- All villages under the Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana will be brought under its ambit.
Sampoorna Bima Gram (SBG) Yojana
- Under the Sampoorna Bima Gram (SBG) Yojana, at least one village (having a minimum of 100 households) will be identified in each of the revenue districts of the country, wherein endeavour will be made to cover all households of that identified village with a minimum of one RPLI (Rural Postal Life Insurance) policy each.
- Coverage of all households in the identified Sampoorna Bima Gram village is the primary objective of this scheme.
Expansion of PLI:
- The benefits of Postal Life Insurance (PLI) will no more be confined to government and semi-government employees only, but will also be available to all professionals and to the employees of listed companies of NSE (National Stock Exchange) and BSE (Bombay Stock Exchange).
- The decision has been taken to enlarge the cover of social security and bring the maximum number of people under the protection of Postal Life Insurance (PLI).
About Postal Life Insurance:
- Postal Life Insurance (PLI) was introduced on 1st February 1884.
- Rural Postal Life Insurance (RPLI), introduced on March 24, 1995 on the recommendations of the Malhotra Committee, provides insurance cover to people residing in rural areas, especially weaker sections and women living in rural areas.
- Low premium and high bonus is the unique feature of PLI and RPLI schemes. As on March 31, 2017, there were 46.8 lakh PLI and 146.8 lakh RPLI policies across the country.
- PLI also extends the facility of insurance to the officers and staff of the Defence services and para-military forces.
- Apart from single insurance policies, Postal Life Insurance also manages a group insurance scheme for the extra departmental employees (Gramin Dak Sevaks) of the Department of Posts.
- PLI offers 6 types of plans viz. Whole Life Assurance (SURAKSHA), Convertible Whole Life Assurance (SUVIDHA), Endowment Assurance (SANTOSH), Anticipated Endowment Assurance (SUMANGAL), Joint Life Assurance (YUGAL SURAKSHA) and Children Policy (BAL JEEVAN BIMA). In all policies age limit is 19 to 55 years.
IWAI raises Rs660 crore through bonds
The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) has raised Rs660 crore through a bond sale to finance the development of national waterways.
- The money raised from the bonds is intended to be used by IWAI for the development of National Waterways (NWs) under National Waterway Act, 2016 during 2017-18.
- The principal and interest on these bonds will be financed by budgetary provisions in demand for grants of Ministry of shipping.
- Both CRISIL and CARE rated proposed bonds of IWAI as “AAA: STABLE”.
- It is the second time that the authority has raised money through a bond sale. Last year, it was allowed to issue infrastructure bonds worth Rs1,000 crore but the authority raised only Rs340 crore.
- Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) is the statutory body in charge of the waterways in India.
- Its headquarters is located in Noida, UP.
- Its main function is to build the necessary required infrastructure in these waterways, surveying the economic feasibility of new projects and also administration and regulation.
Bilateral & International Relations
India denounces call to give up nukes, sign NPT
India has ruled out the possibility of joining the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as a non-nuclear weapon state but said it remains “committed” to a unilateral voluntary moratorium on nuclear explosive testing.
- This was in response to a call by a group calling itself the New Agenda Coalition that India – along with Israel and Pakistan – sign the NPT as NNWS (non-nuclear weapon states), which would effectively mean giving up its nuclear arsenal.
- However, India has reiterated its commitment “as a responsible nuclear power” to “a policy of credible minimum deterrence based on a No First Use posture and non-use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states”.
- The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was adopted by the General Assembly with 122 votes in July, and the pact itself was open to signatures in September.
- India, along with the other nuclear-armed nations, boycotted the negotiations on the treaty, although North Korea voted for it.
About Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT):
The NPT is a landmark international treaty whose objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and to further the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament.
- The Treaty entered into force in 1970.
- Four UN member states have never accepted the NPT, three of which are thought to possess nuclear weapons: India, Israel, and Pakistan. In addition, South Sudan, founded in 2011, has not joined.
- The treaty defines nuclear-weapon states as those that have built and tested a nuclear explosive device before 1 January 1967; these are the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, and China.
- Although the concept of “pillars” is not expressed anywhere in the NPT, the treaty is nevertheless sometimes interpreted as a three-pillar system, with an implicit balance among them:
- disarmament, and
- the right to peacefully use nuclear technology.
Classification of the state-parties:
- States-parties of the NPT are classified in two categories: nuclear-weapon states (NWS)—consisting of the United States, Russia, China, France, and the United Kingdom—and non-nuclear-weapon states (NNWS).
- Under the treaty, the five NWS commit to pursue general and complete disarmament, while the NNWS agree to forgo developing or acquiring nuclear weapons.
EX Mitra Shakti 2017
Mitra Shakti 2017, the two-week long joint military exercise between India and Sri Lanka began on October 13th in Pune.
- Exercise is to exchange the best of military practices of the two countries and build a strong military-to-military relation between the two armies.
- The exercise also aims at developing joint strategies by sharing the expertise of conducting operations, especially in the counter-insurgency and counter terrorism (CI and CT) environment.
- The training exercise is considered an important effort in India’s response to China’s growing influence in South Asia and the Indian Ocean region.
- It will send a strong signal to the world that both India and Sri Lanka understand the emerging threat of terrorism and stand shoulder to shoulder in countering this menace.
- This will be the fifth joint training exercise between the two Armies. Mitra Shakti joint exercise started in 2012 is held in India and Sri Lanka alternatively.