Polity & Governance
- SAUNI Yojana
- 31st Meeting of the Central Consumer Protection Council
- SC refers anti-defection law issue to larger Bench
Issues related to Health & Education
- Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA)
- 3rd Edition of Global Exhibition on Services (GES – 2017)
- Rewa Ultra Mega Solar Power Project
Defence & Security Issues
- SC raps States on massive police vacancies
Art & Culture
- Historic Channakeshava temple turns 900
Key Facts for Prelims
- 18th April: World Heritage Day
- Training program for women panchayat leaders
Polity & Governance
Why in news?
- Phase I of SAUNI (Saurashtra Narmada Avtaran Irrigation) project was recently dedicated to the Nation.
- This is the second milestone in the Rs 12,000 crore project to pump Narmada water in 115 dams of arid Saurashtra region after the PM dedicated to public phase-I of the Link-I canal in August last year.
What is the SAUNI Yojana?
Unlike traditional irrigation projects, SAUNI is a ‘linking’ project, where the water will be filled in irrigation dams that are already equipped with canal network.
- In 2012, Narendra Modi as chief minister of Gujarat had announced the project.
- The government has set a target to complete the four phase project by 2019.
- This network of canals will then help channel water into farms.
- To meet the water demands of Saurashtra region, under the SAUNI scheme, 115 dams will be provided with excess water of the Sardar Sarovar Dam from the river Narmada.
- This will be done through a network of pipelines.
- The total cost of the project is Rs. 12,000 crore. In the first phase, the government has constructed 57km of pipeline, which will fill up 10 dams of three districts of Saurashtra region.
Does it benefit farmers?
- Saurashtra region faces drought-like situation. This project will irrigate over 4 lakh hectares of land and tackle water woes.
- The government claims that when all the 115 dams are filled farmers in 5,000 villages will benefit.
- Farmers can reap both Kharif and Rabi crop — as opposed to Kharif crop cultivation so far — once the project makes more water accessible for agriculture.
- Though the project will not be added to the command area under irrigation, it will strengthen the existing network by providing 1 acre million cubic feet of surplus Narmada water from the Sardar Sarovar Dam through a new pipeline network connecting existing dams.
31st Meeting of the Central Consumer Protection Council
Shri Ram Vilas Paswan, Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, chaired the 31st Meeting of the Central Consumer Protection Council held recently.
- The topics discussed in the meeting included the points put forth by the Members on challenges in combating adulteration, strengthening the enforcement machinery and testing Infrastructure, training and capacity Building of all stakeholders.
What are the Consumer Protection Councils?
The Consumer Protection Act postulates establishment of Consumer Protection Councils at the Central and State levels for the purpose of spreading consumer awareness.
The objects of the Councils, as per the Act, shall be to promote and protect the rights of the consumers such as:
- The right to be protected against the marketing of goods and services which are hazardous to life and property.
- The right to be informed about the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard and price of goods or services, as the case may be so as to protect the consumer against unfair trade practices.
- The right to be assured, wherever possible, access to a variety of goods and services at competitive prices.
- The right to be heard and to be assured that consumer’s interests will receive due consideration at appropriate forums.
- The right to seek redressal against unfair trade practices or restrictive trade practices or unscrupulous exploitation of consumers.
- The right to consumer education.
Central Consumer Protection Council:
The Consumer Protection Act empowers the Central Government to establish a Central Consumer Protection Council.
- The council consists of the Minister in charge of consumer affairs in the Central Government as its Chairman and such number of other official and non-official members representing such interests as may be prescribed.
- Under the Consumer Protection Council Rules 1987, the membership of the Council is restricted to 150 members including the Central Minister in charge of Consumer Affairs as the Chairman. The term of the Council is three years.
- To monitor the implementation of the recommendations of the Council, the Central Government may constitute a standing working group from amongst the members of the council under the Chairmanship of the Member Secretary of the Council.
- The Council shall meet as and when necessary, but at least one meeting of the Council shall be held at such time and place as the Chairman may think fit.
SC refers anti-defection law issue to larger Bench
What is Anti-Defection Law?
The 10th Schedule to the Constitution, popularly referred to as the ‘Anti-Defection Law,’ was inserted by the 52nd Amendment in 1985.
The grounds for disqualification are mentioned under Articles 102 (2) and 191 (2).
A Member of Parliament or state legislature is deemed to have defected:
- When the elected member voluntarily gives up his membership of a political party.
- If he votes or abstains from voting in such House contrary to any direction issued by his political party or anyone authorised to do so, without obtaining prior permission.
- Independent members would be disqualified if they joined a political party.
- Nominated members who were not members of a party could choose to join a party within six months; after that period, they were treated as a party member or independent member.
Exceptions under the Law:
- Any person elected as speaker or chairman could resign from his party, and rejoin the party if he demitted that post.
- A party could be merged into another if at least two-thirds of its party legislators voted for the merger.
- The law initially permitted splitting of parties, but that has now been outlawed.
Why in news?
The Supreme Court today referred to a larger bench the issue whether a lawmaker is bound by the party whip even after his or her expulsion.
What’s the issue?
- The apex court was hearing a plea filed by Rajya Sabha MP and expelled Samajwadi Party member Amar Singh, who has sought to declare that the provisions of the 10th Schedule of the Constitution relating to disqualification on ground of defection do not apply to an elected member of a House who has been expelled by the party.
- A bench of two judges referred to an earlier plea filed by Singh in which the court had refused to revisit the historic 1996 verdict on the anti- defection law which had held that a nominated or elected lawmaker of a political party is bound by its whip even after expulsion.
- The bench said while dealing with that case, the two judge bench had referred the matter to a larger bench and framed certain questions, including “What is the status in either House of Parliament or the state legislatures of a member who is expelled from the party which set him/her up as a candidate for election”.
- The matter was then heard by a three-judge bench which had disposed of the plea while keeping open the questions referred to by the two-judge bench for decision in an appropriate case.
- As the question remains alive today, the court think it appropriate that the matter should be placed before the larger bench for consideration of the questions.
- The apex court also issued notice to the Centre on the interim relief sought by Singh that the 1996 verdict shall not apply to him while the issues raised by him are pending consideration by the larger bench.
- As per the interpretation of the anti-defection law by the Supreme Court in 1996, a member elected or nominated by a political party continues to be under its control even after his or her expulsion.
Issues related to Health & Education
Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA)
What is RUSA?
Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA) is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS), launched in 2013 aims at providing strategic funding to eligible state higher educational institutions.
Why in news?
- The government has launched the unique portal and mobile app of Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA).
- In addition to this, the Fund and Reform Tracker for the RUSA has also been launched.
Key features of the App:
- The portal is a one-stop for States’ Higher Education Plans, decision of the States’ Higher Education Councils and details of the resources under this scheme.
- It will capture the fund allocation as per the Project Approval Board, which include the installment-wise fund release by the Union and the state governments,
- It will also track the institution-wise key project, vendors appointed and the payment made to them as also stage-wise photos and time stamps of payments made and comments entered.
- It will also provide component-wise details, which means a quick snapshot into the funding of RUSA projects.
- Whether it is infrastructure grants of equity initiatives, this window gives a peek into the funds approved, the amount released, the sum utilised and the percentage of work completed.
- Stakeholders can also get granular details on the money released from the centre and the state. The date stamps give a picture on the timelines followed and the pictures provide the ground reality.
- Tracking projects are the soul of this App, and every initiative is tagged with a unique ID number, thus providing the entire story of how an idea germinated and matured.
What are the objectives of RUSA?
The salient objectives of RUSA are to;
- Improve the overall quality of state institutions by ensuring conformity to prescribed norms and standards and adopt accreditation as a mandatory quality assurance framework.
- Usher transformative reforms in the state higher education system by creating a facilitating institutional structure for planning and monitoring at the state level, promoting autonomy in State Universities and improving governance in institutions.
- Ensure reforms in the affiliation, academic and examination systems.
- Ensure adequate availability of quality faculty in all higher educational institutions and ensure capacity building at all levels of employment.
- Create an enabling atmosphere in the higher educational institutions to devote themselves to research and innovations.
- Expand the institutional base by creating additional capacity in existing institutions and establishing new institutions, in order to achieve enrolment targets.
- Correct regional imbalances in access to higher education by setting up institutions in unserved & underserved areas.
- Improve equity in higher education by providing adequate opportunities of higher education to SC/STs and socially and educationally backward classes; promote inclusion of women, minorities, and differently abled persons.
Funding process of the RUSA:
- The central funding (in the ratio of 60:40 for general category States, 90:10 for special category states and 100% for union territories) would be norm based and outcome dependent.
- The funding would flow from the central ministry through the state governments/union territories to the State Higher Education Councils before reaching the identified institutions.
- The funding to states would be made on the basis of critical appraisal of State Higher Education Plans, which would describe each state’s strategy to address issues of equity, access and excellence in higher education.
Achievements of RUSA:
3rd Edition of Global Exhibition on Services (GES – 2017)
President has inaugurated Global Exhibition on Services (GES-2017) that is set to highlight India’s potential to boost its services exports across sectors at India Expo Mart, Greater Noida.
- The event has been organised by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry together with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Services Export Promotion Council.
- This is the 3rd edition of GES and the earlier editions were held in 2015 and 2016.
- This edition is set to see the participation of over 70 countries and comes in the backdrop of increased focus on services trade and India’s submission to the World Trade Organisation on trade facilitation in services.
- The main focus of the event will be on 20 services sectors, including information technology, tourism and hospitality, logistics, education and financial services.
Objectives of the GES-2017:
- Position India as a leader in the services sector.
- Tap potential for exports in the services sector.
- Draw investments into the country in the services sector.
India’s Service Sector:
- A strong services sector backed by a manufacturing sector is expected to play a pivotal role in the growth of Indian economy.
- India’s services exports stood at $146.5 billion in the first 11 months of 2016-17, growing at 3 per cent. It has witnessed a surplus of $59 billion in April-February 2016-17.
- In India, IT and software services accounted for over 48% of overall services exports.
- As per provisional estimates released by RBI, the service export touched US $ 80 billion as against US $ 77 billion in the time period from April to September 2016, a rise of almost 4%.
Rewa Ultra Mega Solar Power Project
About the Rewa Ultra Mega Solar Power Project:
- Rewa Ultra Mega Solar (RUMS) project is a joint venture of Solar Energy Corporation of India and MP Urja Vikas Nigam, where in both parties have 50% stake.
- When completed, it will be the world’s largest singlesite solar power project.
- International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, is the lead transaction advisor for this project that will mobilise USD 550 million in private investment and avoid a million tonnes of GHG (Greenhouse gas) emissions.
Why in news?
- Madhya Pradesh government has signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) with the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) to supply 24% of electricity generated from the Rewa ultra mega solar project to be set up in the state.
Solar power sector in India:
- India’s solar power capacity has crossed 12 GW, with the addition of 5,525 MW solar power generation capacity last fiscal year.
- Among the states, Andhra Pradesh added the maximum solar capacity in 2016-17 (1,294.26 MW), followed by Karnataka (882.38 MW) and Telangana (759.13 MW).
- Other major additions were in, Tamil Nadu (630.01 MW), Rajasthan (543 MW), Punjab (388 MW), Uttar Pradesh (193.24 MW) and Uttarakhand (192.35 MW).
- The Centre has set an ambitious target of adding 175 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2022, which includes 100 GW of solar, 60 GW from wind, 10 GW from bio-power and 5 GW from small hydro-power (up to 25 MW capacity each).
- At present, of the 310 GW installed power generation capacity, 46 GW is from renewable power generation capacities.
Defence & Security Issues
SC raps States on massive police vacancies
The Supreme Court directed six states-Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and West Bengal to place record the road maps to fill up the large number of vacancies for police posts in their respective states.
What’s the issue?
- The data, mostly pertaining to 2013, indicates that there are huge vacancies in police force in various states.
- There are more than 40,000 and 1.5 lakh vacancies in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, respectively.
- The health of police force in numbers did not appear to inspire the court’s confidence as it found 4.42 lakh posts in police departments were vacant in states and UTs, which together have a sanctioned strength of 17.95 lakh personnel.
Art & Culture
Historic Channakeshava temple turns 900
The Channakeshava temple in Belur, Karnataka turned 900 this year.
About the Chennakesava Temple:
- The Chennakesava Temple was built on the banks of the Yagachi River in Belur, Karnataka.
- It was constructed by Vishnuvardhana of the Hoysala dynasty, is a monument recognised by the ASI.
- Considered to be the first temple of Hoysala style, it was built between 1106 and 1117. Soon after winning a war in 1104, Vishnuvardhana took up the construction of the temple, and according to an inscription, the temple was ready by March 1117.
- These temple complexes, along with Halebid, have been proposed to be listed under UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Key Facts for Prelims
18th April: World Heritage Day
- World Heritage Day is celebrated on 18th of April every year. It’s been chosen to tie in with the UN’s International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.
- Theme of the World Heritage Day is Cultural Heritage & Sustainable Tourism.
- ICOMOS (International Council for Monuments and Sites) organised a symposium in Tunisia on 18 April 1982 and it was suggested that a special day is to be celebrated all through the world in the name of “International Day for Monuments and Sites” on the same day every year. The idea was also approved in UNESCO’s General Conference in November 1983.
- “International Monuments and Sites Day” has been traditionally called the World Heritage Day.
- It is celebrated to raise awareness of the importance of protecting and preserving various World Heritage sites around the world that have achieved world heritage status
Training program for women panchayat leaders
- The Centre launched a training programme for Women Panchayat leaders to skill and administers them so that they can give special emphasis on efficient usage of funds for achieving their overall development.
- The National Commission for Women (NCW) with the help of Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, has developed training modules for empowering these elected women.
- They will get training under experts from the National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj (NIRD and PR) in Hyderabad.