Polity & Governance
- National Commission for Scheduled Tribes
- 22nd Law Commission
Government Schemes & Policies
- Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen) Phase II
- High Level Global Conference on Road Safety
- Revamping Crop Insurance Schemes
Issues related to Health & Education
- Assisted Reproductive Technology Regulation Bill 2020
Bilateral & International Relations
- New points-based Immigration system in UK
Defence & Security Issues
- India procures Seahawk helicopters from US
Also in News
- India recommended to host Asian Football Confederation
- Historical Gastronomica
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Polity & Governance
National Commission for Scheduled Tribes:
The 16th Foundation of Day of National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) organised by National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) was held recently.
About National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST):
- The 89th Constitutional amendment Act established the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes under Article 338A.
- NCST was established by amending Article 338 and inserting a new Article 338A in the Constitution through the Constitution (89th Amendment) Act, 2003.
- By this amendment, the erstwhile National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes was replaced by two separate Commissions namely-
(i) the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) and
(ii) the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) on February, 2004.
In 1999, a new Ministry of Tribal Affairs was created to provide a sharp focus to the welfare and development of the STs.
- It consists of a chairperson, a vice-chairperson and three other members, appointed by the President.
- The Commission presents an annual report to the President which he places before Parliament along with a memorandum explaining the action taken on the recommendations made by the Commission & the reasons for the non-acceptance of any of such recommendations.
- The President also forwards any report of the Commission pertaining to a state government to the state governor, that is placed before state legislature along with the memorandum.
Functions of the commission
- To investigate and monitor all matters relating to the safeguards provided for the Schedule Tribes under the Constitution or under any other law for the time being in force or under any order of the Government and to evaluate the working of such safeguards.
- To inquire into specific complaints with respect to the deprivation of rights and safeguards of the Scheduled Tribes.
- To participate and advice in the planning process of socio-economic development of the Scheduled Tribes and to evaluate the progress of their development under the Union and any State.
- To present to the President, annually and at such other times as the Commission may deem fit, report upon the working of those safeguards.
- To make in such reports, recommendations as to the measures that should be taken by the Union or any State for effective implementation of those safeguards and other measures for the protection, welfare and socio-economic development of the Scheduled Tribes.
- To discharge such other function in relation to the protection, welfare and development and advancement of the Scheduled Tribes as the President may subject to the provisions of any law made by Parliament by rule specify.
Powers of the commission:
- It has all the powers of a civil court, while investigating any matter or inquiring into any complaint.
- The Central or State governments have to consult the Commission on all major policy matters affecting the STs.
22nd Law Commission
The Union Cabinet recently approved the constitution of the 22nd Law Commission which advises the government on complex legal issues. The term of the previous law panel had ended on 31 August 2018.
About Law Commission:
- The Law Commission of India is a non-statutory advisory body to the Ministry of Law and Justice.
- It is established by an order of the Central Government from time to time for a fixed tenure.
- Its recommendations are not binding on the government.
- The Government of India established the First Law Commission of Independent India in 1955.
- The new panel (22nd law commission)will have a three-year term.
- Apart from having a full-time chairperson, the commission will have four full-time members, including a member-secretary and not more than five part-time members.
- Law and Legislative Secretaries in the Law Ministry will be the ex-officio members of the commission.
- A retired Supreme Court judge or Chief Justice of a High Court will head the Commission.
- Its major function is to work for legal reforms including thereview and repeal of obsolete laws, the examination of existing laws& the revision of central Acts of general importance.
- It shall also undertake studies and research for bringing reforms in the justice delivery systems for elimination of delay in procedures, speedy disposal of cases, reduction in cost of litigation, etc.
Proposal to make it a permanent body:
- In 2015, a proposal was mooted to make the law panel into a permanent body either through an Act of Parliament or an executive order (resolution of the Union Cabinet).
- The move was, however stalled after the Prime Minister’s Office felt that the present system should continue.
Government Schemes & Policies
Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen) Phase II
The Union Cabinet chaired by the PM Narendra Modi has approved the Phase II of the Swachh Bharat Mission(Grameen) till 2024-25.
- It will focus on Open Defecation Free Plus (ODF Plus) status, which includes ODF sustainability and Solid and Liquid Waste Management (SLWM).
- The program will also work towards ensuring that no one is left behind and everyone uses a toilet.
- SBM (G) Phase-II will be implemented from 2020-21 to 2024-25in a mission mode with a total outlay of Rs. 1,40,881 crores.
- This will be a novel model of convergence between different verticals of financing.
- Of this Rs.52,497 crores will be allocated from the budget of Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation while the remaining amount will be from the funds being released under 15th Finance Commission, MGNREGS and revenue generation models particularly for solid and liquid waste management.
- Under the program, provision for incentive of Rs. 12,000/- for construction of Individual Household Toilet (IHHL) to the newly emerging eligible households as per the existing norms will continue.
- Funding norms for Solid and Liquid Waste Management (SLWM) have been rationalized and changed to per capita basis in place of no. of households.
- Financial assistance to the Gram Panchayats for construction of Community Managed Sanitary Complex (CMSC) at village level has been increased from Rs.2 lakhs to Rs.3 lakhs per CMSC.
- The fund sharing pattern
between Centre and States will be:
- 90:10 for North-Eastern States and Himalayan States and UT of J&K;
- 60:40 for other States;
- 100:0 for other Union Territories.
Key monitoring indicators:
- The SLWM component of ODF
Plus will be monitored on the basis of output-outcome indicators for four
- Plastic waste management,
- Bio-degradable solid waste management (including animal waste),
- Greywater management and
- Faecal sludge management.
- The mission continues to generate employment and provide impetus to the rural economy through construction of household toilets and community toilets, as well as infrastructure for waste management such as compost pits, soak pits, waste stabilisation ponds, material recovery facilities, etc.
High Level Global Conference on Road Safety
Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways and MSMEs has reaffirmed India’s commitment to the United Nation’s goal set under the UN Decade of Actionof drastically reducing road accidents by the year 2030.
3rd Conference on Road Safety:
- The 3rd High Level Global Conference on Road Safety for Achieving Global Goals 2030 was held recently in Stockholm, Sweden.
- India is collaborating with stakeholders and other agencies by strengthening the capabilities of various institutions, enhancing awareness and improving engineering designs for safer roads.
- The approach of alignment of Sustainable Development Goals with Road Safety espoused by the United Nations is particularly relevant for countries like India where the problem of safety is also linked to social equity.
- The road safety requirements of the sections like pedestrians, cyclists and motorised two-wheelers needs to be kept in mind while designing and developing transport strategies.
- 11 % of deaths due to road accident of the world take place in India alone.
- When translated into economic terms, estimates suggest that this has adversely affected our GDP by as much as 2-3% per annum.
- India has the second largest road network in the world.
- The government has launched an ambitious programme for development and upgradation of roads in the country, especially the National Highways network and that too with taking care of engineering defects.
- The Motor Vehicles Act, has been amended for the first time in a comprehensive way after thirty years.
- The Act will lead to several reforms ranging from road safety, citizen facilitation, transparency, and efficiency through the use of Information Technology.
Revamping Crop Insurance Schemes
The Union Cabinet chaired by the PM Shri Narendra Modi has approved revamping of “Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana” and “Restructured Weather Based Crop Insurance Scheme” to address the existing challenges in implementation of Crop Insurance Schemes.
What are the new provisions?
- Enrolment under the schemes will be made voluntary for all farmers.
- Central share in premium subsidy will be increased to 90 % for the North eastern states from the existing sharing pattern of 50:50.
- Central subsidy under PMFBY and RWBCIS will be limited for premium rates up to 30 % for unirrigated areas and 25 % for irrigated areas.
- Districts having 50 % or more irrigated area will be considered as irrigated area for both the schemes.
- Flexibility will be given to states/UTs to implement the schemes with option to select any or many of additional risk covers like prevented sowing, localised calamity, mid-season adversity, and post-harvest losses.
- Further, states/UTs can offer specific single peril risk/insurance covers such as hailstormetc., under PMFBY and RWBCIS with or without opting for base cover.
- However, states will not be allowed to implement the scheme in subsequent seasons in case of considerable delay by them in release of requisite premium subsidy to the insurance companies concerned beyond a prescribed time limit.
- Cut-off dates for invoking this provision for Kharif and Rabi seasons will be March 31 and September 30 of successive years respectively.
- For estimation of crop losses/admissible claims, two-step process will be adopted, based on defined deviation matrix using specific triggers like weather indicators, satellite indicators, etc. for each area along with normal ranges and deviation ranges.
- Only areas with deviations will be subject to crop cutting experiments (CCEs) for assessment of yield loss (PMFBY).
- Technology solutions such as Smart Sampling Technique (SST) and optimisation of number of CCEs will be adopted in conducting CCEs.
- In case of non-provision of yield data beyond cut-off date by the states to implementing insurance companies, claims will be settled based on yield arrived through use of technology solution (PMFBY alone).
- Provisioning of at least 3 % of the total allocation for the scheme will be made by the central and implementing state governments for administrative expenses.
- This will be subject to an upper cap fixed by the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare for each state.
- It is expected that farmers would be able to manage risk in agriculture production in a better way and will succeed in Stabilizing the farm income.
- Further, it will increase coverage in north eastern region enabling farmers of NER to manage their agricultural risk in a better way.
- These changes will also enable quick and accurate yield estimation leading to faster claims settlement.
- These changes are proposed to be implemented from Kharif’ 2020 Season throughout the Country.
Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana:
- Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) was launched by the government of India in 2016.
- The Crop Insurance Scheme is in line with One Nation – One Scheme theme.
- The PMFBY will replace the existing two schemes National Agricultural Insurance Scheme (NAIS) as well as the Modified NAIS.
- It consists of a uniform premium of only 2% to be paid by farmers for Kharif crops, and 1.5% for Rabi crops.
- The premium for annual commercial and horticultural crops will be 5%.
- Providing financial support to farmers suffering crop loss/damage arising out of unforeseen events.
- Stabilizing the income of farmers to ensure their continuance in farming.
- Encouraging farmers to adopt innovative and modern agricultural practices.
- Ensuring flow of credit to the agriculture sector which contributes to food security, crop diversification and enhancing growth and competitiveness of agriculture sector besides protecting farmers from production risks.
Issues related to Health & Education
Assisted Reproductive Technology Regulation Bill 2020
The Union Cabinet approved the Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill, 2020 for the welfare of Women and to protect women’s reproductive rights in the Country.
Aim of the Bill:
- The bill aims to regulate the market as IVF clinics have mushroomed all over the country.
- India has become a hub of cheap fertility clinics owing to large population which is suffering from infertility.
Provisions under the Bill:
- To set up a national level registry and regulator which will oversee all the IVF clinics and procedures. It will be mandatory for the such clinics to register with the national and state level boards.
- The bill is setting upper limit of a woman undergoing IVF as 50 years.
- A national board will be set up, which will lay down code of conduct to be observed by persons working at clinics, besides ensuring minimum standards of physical infrastructure, laboratory and diagnostic equipment and expert manpower to be employed by clinics and banks.
- A national registry and registration authority to maintain a Central database and assist the national board in its functioning.
- The bill also proposes for a stringent punishment for those practicing sex selection, sale of human embryos or gametes, running agencies/rackets/organizations for such unlawful practices.
- It will regulate the Assisted Reproductive Technology services in the country. Consequently, infertile couples will be more ensured/confident of the ethical practices in ARTs.
- The bill intends to make genetic testing of the embryo mandatory before implantation for the benefit of the child born through ART, besides streamlining the cryo-preservation processes for sperm, oocytes and embryo.
- India has become one of the major centres of this global fertility industry, with reproductive medical tourism becoming a significant activity.
- As the clinics in India offer nearly all the ART services—gamete donation, intrauterine insemination (IUI), IVF, ICSI, PGD and gestational surrogacy; there is a need for a standardized protocol.
- The ART services are need to be regulated to protect the affected women and children from exploitation.
Steps towards Women’s reproductive rights:
- The bill was introduced after the introduction in Parliament of the Surrogacy Regulation Bill, 2020, and the approval of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Amendment Bill, 2020.
- This is the third proposed legislation which the government has cleared to protect the reproductive rights of women.
- These legislative measures are path breaking steps to protect women’s reproductive rights.
Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART):
- Assisted reproductive technology includes medical procedures used primarily to address infertility.
- It involves procedures such as in vitro fertilization, intracytoplasmic sperm injection, cryopreservation of gametes or embryos, and/or the use of fertility medication.
Bilateral & International Relations
New points-based Immigration system in UK
UK’s Home Secretary recently launched the new points-based immigration system, which intends to change the way migrants will come to the UK to work, study, visit or join their family.
- The immigration system aims at ending free movement, taking back control of the country’s borders which will bring overall migration numbers down.
What is the move?
- After its exit from the European Union (EU), the UK is currently in a transition period until the end of 2020, during which time the UK and EU are expected to negotiate rules on trade, travel, and business.
- Until the transition period gets over, the pre-Brexit rules will continue to apply.
- Before the Brexit, EU citizens had unrestricted rightsto work in the UK to stay and work under the European Union Settlement Scheme (EUSS).
- The implementation of the points-based system does not change the status of those EU citizens already in the UK as per EUSS and those whose status under EUSS is settled.
- The points-based immigration system will take effect from January 1, 2021 and will end free movement between the UK and EU, treating both EU and non-EU citizens equally.
- Non-EU citizens already follow a points-based system to migrate to the UK.
- Under this system, points will be assignedfor specific skills, qualifications, salaries or professions and visas will be awarded to those who will have enough points.
How will the points-based immigration system work?
- Under this system, both EU and non-EU citizens will need to demonstrate that they have a job offer from an approved sponsor, that the job offer is at the required level and that they speak English.
- Further, as per the Migration Advisory Committee’s (MAC)
- recommendations, salary thresholds have been established. As of now, the general salary threshold has been lowered to £25,600 from £30,000.
- Further, a total of 70 points are required to be eligible to apply, with some tradeable characteristics of the system.
- Students will also be covered under the points-based system and will be able to gain points if they can demonstrate that they have an offer from an approved educational institution, speak English and are able to support themselves during their studies in the UK.
- Even so, there will be no routes for lower-skilled workers, since the government wants the country to not rely on cheap labour from Europe.
What is the need for such a system?
- The UK government vows to end the reliance on cheap, low-skilled labour coming into the country.
- UK aims to reduce the overall levels of migration, with tighter security and a “better experience” for those coming into the UK, attracting high-skilled workers.
- The policy statement states that the European free movement rights and the immigration system have failed to meet the needs of the British people.
Defence & Security Issues
India procures Seahawk helicopters from US
The Cabinet Committee on Security headed by PM Narendra Modi has cleared the procurement of twenty-four MH-60R Seahawk multi-role helicoptersfrom US.
What is the deal?
- The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) cleared the procurement of 24 MH-60R multi-role helicopters for the navy.
- The helicopters will cost $2.6 billion to the Indian Navy.
- The 24 Lockheed Martin helicopters will be procured through the foreign military sales (FMS) route from the US government.
- The proposed sale will provide India the capability to perform anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare missions along with the ability to perform secondary missions including vertical replenishment, search and rescue, and communications relay.
- India will use the enhanced capability as a deterrent to regional threats and to strengthen its homeland defence.
- It will build India’s capabilities for anti-surface, anti-submarine warfare and search and rescue missions, will replace the old British-made Sea King helicopters, which were phased out in 2000.
- This will plug the ‘existing capability gap’.
- The helicopters for India will be armed with Hellfire missiles, precision kill weapon system and MK 54 torpedoes.
Also in News
India recommended to host Asian Football Confederation
- India has been recommended as the first South Asian hosts for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Women’s Asian Cup 2022 by the AFC Women’s Football Committee.
- It was felt that India, who will host the FIFA Women’s Under-17 World Cup later in 2020, is best placed among the three bidders – India, Chinese Taipei and Uzbekistan.
- India offers the best opportunities to build the event commercially as well as increasing the value.
- India is also committed to developing the women’s game in the country and while all three were strong bidders, India stands out.
- The Committee decided that the expanded AFC Women’s Asian Cup – eight to 12 teams – will be played in three groups of four with a minimum of 25 matches with eight teams qualifying for the newly introduced quarter-finals.
- The committee agreed that the minimum length of the competition would be 17 days and that the Administration would be mandated to organise the relevant play-off matches – depending on the AFC slots at the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023.
- The dates of the tournament are likely to be in late October and early November in 2022 and the matches schedule will now be worked out bearing in mind the start of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and the agreed FIFA release dates.
The National Museum, New Delhi is hosting a unique exhibition on India’s ancient food history “Historical Gastronomica – The Indus Dining Experience” from 19th to 25thFebruary that goes back to more than 5000 years ago.
- The National Museum houses an impressive collection of Indus valley Civilization artefacts. The Indus Valley Civilization gallery has one of the world’s most significant collections of this glorious Indian civilization.
- This thematic gallery also displays the famous Bronze Dancing Girl, which was excavated from Mohenjodaro, a Harappan site.
- ‘Indus Dining Experience’ – curated jointly by the National Museum and One Station Million Stories (OSMS) – is based on archaeological research, museum artefacts and their characteristics.
- The exhibition in the National Museum features: (i) An illustrative story of man’s food history since his evolution and continues to conclude at the Indus-Saraswati Civilization, (ii) Gallery Walk: Use of Harappan pottery and artefacts, (iii) Food Tasting: finger-food samplers and dinners.
- A model of a Late Harappan Kitchen and other specially designed exhibits — recreated by OSMS take viewers back to the Harappan Era.
- The exhibition demonstrates how the first humans evolved due to food habits, learnt to distinguish edible from non-edible substance, food processing techniques and related architecture of the Harappans.
- It shows how Climate Change defined and continues to define Food Security.
- Genomic data from diverse present-day South Asians reveal that there is a continuity in our ancestral lineage linking us to the Iranian agriculturalists and South Asian hunter-gathers.
- Combined with the traditional knowledge of cooking styles and methods still practiced in present day villages of Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab, Sindh and Baloch, it is possible that our basic diet bear more similarities to present day consumption than differences as these areas matter of innate taste.
- One of the main draws of this exhibition is tasting the food of the Indus-Saraswati Civilization — recreated by National Award-winning Chef Saby (Sabyasachi Gorai).
- This event organized by National Museum, OSMS and Fabrica by Chef Saby is truly a Made in India event with an international appeal.