Polity & Governance
- SC allows pictures of governors, chief ministers and minister in govt advertisements
- Government bans repeat animal testing of drugs
- Niti Aayog task force backs ‘Tendulkar poverty line’
Environment & Ecology
- Centre bans plastic bags below 50 microns
Also in News
- Surat cleanest A-1 Railway Station in India: IRCTC Survey
- Singapore’s Changi Airport: world’s best airport
- Bug bounty programme of Facebook
- New species of frog in Colombia
Polity & Governance
SC allows pictures of governors, chief ministers and minister in govt advertisements
In its new verdict, the Supreme Court has allowed photographs of Chief Ministers, Governors and Ministers to be carried in public advertisements.
Key features of the verdict:
- The court has granted permission to publish Minister’s photo with a rider– Minister’s photo can be published only in place of photos of Prime Minister or Chief Minister, virtually pitting head of the government against ministers vying for space in advertisements.
- The order effectively means that the government would have to choose either photo of PM/CM or minister to ensure that only one picture of political person from a government would find place in the advertisements.
SC’s previous order:
The court, in its verdict last year, had held that only the President, the Prime Minister and the Chief Justice of India could feature in government advertisements.
- The order put to an end the practise of splashing photos of Chief Minister, Union and state ministers and political leaders of ruling parties in government advertisements, compelling the Centre and state governments to rush to Supreme Court to get the order modified.
- Chief Ministers and Ministers both at Centre and states had become “nameless and faceless” in government advertisements after this verdict.
- The court had held that tax-payers money were being misused by ruling party for political gains and publishing photographs of politicians associating them with the government policy and its achievement could develop the personality cult which was a direct antithesis of democratic functioning and should not be allowed.
Arguments against the previous order:
- Seeking review of its order, the Centre had argued that PM was one among the Ministers and hence, ministers’ pictures must also be shown in advertisements to make people aware about their works and publishing picture of only PM would lead to personality cult which was against the very spirit of its judgement.
- The state governments also pleaded that the judgement was against the federal structure as Chief Minister was as important in a state as the PM and a CM could not denied opportunity to tell his people about the work done by the state government through advertisements.
Implications of this order:
This order has brought a big relief particularly for the ruling parties in the election bound states as the court has paved the way for the governments to resort of publicity blitz with pictures of Chief Minister and Ministers in advertisements in the run-up to assembly elections in West Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Assam.[Ref: Hindu; ToI]
Government bans repeat animal testing of drugs
To prevent cruelty to animals, the Health Ministry has banned repeat animal testing of new drugs tested abroad.
The ministry has amended Schedule Y of the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945.
- Under it, animals will be spared tests for new drug registrations wherein complete data from similar toxicity experiments exist for drugs approved abroad.
- The ban falls under the amendment Schedule Y, where the data on animal toxicity as per the specifications once submitted can be considered by the regulatory authority of the country which had earlier approved the drug.
- After the amendment, animal toxicity studies shall not be required to be conducted in India except in cases where there are specific concerns recorded in writing.
Significance of the move:
- The new amendment will not only save thousands of animals every year from being subjected to redundant animal testing, it also marks the beginning of a potential new era of sophisticated animal testing alternatives in India.
The amendments follow repeated appeals by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India and Union minister Maneka Gandhi, a well-known animal rights activist.
- This move comes after Union Minister of Women & Child Development, Maneka Sanjay Gandhi, wrote to the Ministry regarding the practice.
- The Investigational New Drug Committee, which considered the matter before the Drug Technical Advisory Board, states that if the drugs were tested elsewhere under Good Laboratory Practice conditions and align with India’s regulatory requirement, no further toxicity testing shall be required.
- The committee has also encouraged the use of internationally accepted non-animal alternatives where available.
Niti Aayog task force backs ‘Tendulkar poverty line’
The Niti Aayog’s Task Force on Eliminating Poverty has backed the controversial `Tendulkar poverty line’, which categorised people earning less than Rs. 33 a day as poor.
On which grounds it is backed?
- `Tendulkar poverty line’ is backed on the ground that the line is primarily meant to be an indicator for tracking progress in combating extreme poverty.
- The Niti Aayog’s Task Force has viewed that the objective behind a poverty line is to track progress in combating extreme povertyand not identification of the poor for the purposes of distributing government benefits.
- According to the Task Force, it makes sense to set the poverty line at a level that allows households to get two square meals a day and other basic necessities of life.
Recommendations made by the task force:
- The Task Force has recommended sweeping changes to the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) for allowing use of the programme’s funds to pay for labour on private farms.
- It has recommended modest cash transfers to the poorest five families in every village to be identified by Gram Panchayats.
- It has also viewed that the Aadhaar accounts will give government an “excellent” database to assess the total volume of benefits accruing to each household, which can pave the way for replacing myriad schemes with consolidated cash transfers, except where there are compelling reasons to continue with in-kind transfers.
About`Tendulkar poverty line’:
A Committee chaired by former Chairman of the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council and the National Statistical Commission, Suresh Tendulkar, computed poverty lines for 2004-05 at a level that was equivalent, in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms, to one U.S. dollar per person per day, which was the internationally accepted poverty line at that time.
- The PPP model refers to a method used to work out the money that would be needed to purchase the same goods and services in two places. Across countries, this is used to calculate an implicit foreign exchange rate, the PPP rate, at which a given amount of money has the same purchasing power in different countries.
- Tendulkar, computed poverty lines for 2004-05 at a level that was equivalent, in PPP terms to Rs 33 per day.
- Based on the Tendulkar panel norms, the Planning Commission had announced that in absolute terms the number of poor stood reduced from 40.7 crore to 35.5 crore during the period 2004-05 to 2009-10 and and 26.9 crore in 2011-12.
- Following criticism of these estimates, the UPA Government had in May 2012 set up the five-member expert group, headed by the then Chairman of the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council C. Rangarajan, to revisit the way poverty is estimated.
- In the report Dr. Rangarajan committee suggested that persons spending below Rs 47 a day in cities and and Rs 32 in villages be considered poor.
Environment & Ecology
Centre bans plastic bags below 50 microns
The Centre has notified new plastic waste management rules for the country, replacing the earlier ones made five years ago.
Key provisions of the new rules:
The new rules, which are more stringent than the previous rules, will be implemented across the country within 6 months.
- Dos and Don’ts: Under the new rules, carrying certain dos and don’ts for manufacturers, distributors, municipal bodies and panchayats, the government banned the manufacturing of plastic bags of below 50 microns as thinner bags currently pose a major threat to environment due to its non-disposability.
- Manufacturers: Manufacturers of plastic bags will have to make certain payments to states for its post-use disposal. The money, collected by the states from the manufacturers, will be given to local civic bodies and panchayats for taking multiple measures to dispose off plastic bags properly.
- Rural areas: Rural areas have also been brought in the ambit of these rules since plastic has reached to villages. Responsibility for implementation of the rules is given to Gram Panchayats.
- Responsibility of waste generator: Under these rules, responsibility of waste generator is being introduced for the first time. Accordingly, individual and bulk generators like offices, commercial establishments and industries are to segregate the plastic waste at source, handover segregated waste and pay user fee as per bye-laws of the local bodies. Under the new law, persons or organizations, including even the political parties, have been made responsible for management of waste generated from the events – political rallies, marriage function, religious gathering or public meetings – organised by them.
- Thermoset plastic: The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has been mandated to formulate guidelines for thermoset plastic (the plastic difficult to recycle). In earlier rules, there was no specific provision of such type of plastic.
- Non-recyclable multi-layered plastic: Manufacturing and use of non-recyclable multi-layered plastic will also be phased out in two years under the new rules.
- Registration fee: Under the new rules, plastic carry bags will be available only with shopkeepers/street vendors, pre-registered with local bodies, on payment of certain registration fee. The amount collected as registration fee by the local bodies is to be used for waste management.
Also in News
Surat cleanest A-1 Railway Station in India: IRCTC Survey
As per recently published survey of Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) Surat (Gujarat) was declared the cleanest railway station in the country.
- The survey was conducted as part of Union Government’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and Union Railway Ministry’s ‘Swachh Rail Swachh Bharat’ mission.
- The survey was conducted in January-February 2016 and passengers were asked questions on 40 cleanliness parameters.
Singapore’s Changi Airport: world’s best airport
Singapore’s Changi Airport has been voted the world’s best airport for the fourth year in a row at the 2016 World Airport Awards.
- The survey was conducted by aviation research firm Skytrax.
Bug bounty programme of Facebook
Facebook recently said that it has paid Rs. 4.84 crore to researchers in India as part of its bug bounty programme.
- India holds the top rank among 127 countries contributing to the programme.
New species of frog in Colombia
Researchers have discovered a new species of pale-gold coloured frog in the cloud forests of the high Andes in Colombia.
- It is named Pristimantis dorado.
- With this new species, Colombia now hosts 800 species of amphibians, second only to Brazil in total diversity.