Polity & Governance
- No-confidence motion against govt admitted in Lok Sabha
Government Schemes & Policies
- Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill 2018 passed by Lok Sabha
- Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2013 passed by Rajya Sabha
Issues related to Health & Education
- MHRD Announces ‘Padhe Bharat- Badhe Bharat’ Initiative
- NITI Aayog’s Women Entrepreneurship Platform organises Workshop on Empowering Women
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- NMCG organises “Ganga Vriksharopan Abhiyan”
- ‘Meghalayan Age’ announced as official new chapter in Earth’s history
Key Facts for Prelims
- Centenary celebration of Nelson Mandela International Day
- National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP)
- New design of 100-rupee banknote
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Polity & Governance
No-confidence motion against govt admitted in Lok Sabha
Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan accepted a no-confidence motion moved by TDP’s Kesineni Srinivas against the NDA government.
What is a no-confidence motion?
- A no-confidence motion is a parliamentary motion which is moved in the Lok Sabha against the entire council of ministers, stating that they are no longer deemed fit to hold positions of responsibility due to their inadequacy in some respect or their failure to carry out their obligations. No prior reason needs to be stated for its adoption in the Lok Sabha.
Passage of the motion:
- At least 50 MPs would need to stand up and support the move. If there are 50 MPs in favour, the motion is admitted and the speaker allots a date for discussion on the motion.
- The prime minister or ministers reply to the charges made. The mover has the right to reply.
- After the debate, the speaker puts question to the house and ascertains the decision of the house by voice vote or a division.
- A Motion of No-confidence need not set out any grounds on which it is based. Even when grounds are mentioned in the notice and read out in the House, they do not form part of the no-confidence Motion.
- The government is expected to resign if it loses a trust vote. In case its refuses to do so, the President has the power to remove the prime minister.
- In the history of Indian Parliament, no Prime Minister has been forcibly removed so far. After a government loses a trust vote and resigns, it continues to function, but as a caretaker government with almost the same powers as it had before the voting.
- However, a caretaker government wouldn’t have the power to take any major policy decisions since Parliament remains dissolved. A new government gets elected after the general elections.
Key facts about the No-confidence motion:
- The Rajya Sabha does not have a procedure for moving of an adjournment motion, censure motion or no-confidence motion against the Government.
- Rule 198 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha lays down the procedure for moving a Motion of No-Confidence in the Council of Ministers.
- There is no mention of a no-confidence motion in the constitution.
- It need not state the reasons for its adoption in the Lok Sabha.
- It can be moved against the entire council of ministers only.
- It is moved for ascertaining the confidence of Lok Sabha in the council of ministers.
- If it is passed in the Lok Sabha, the council of ministers must resign from office.
Government Schemes & Policies
Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill 2018 passed by Lok Sabha
Lok Sabha has passed Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, 2018.
- The bill aims to tighten the noose on the wilful defaulters who tends to abscond the nation to evade the clutches of the law.
- The bill will replace an ordinance promulgated by President in April 2018.
Highlights of the Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, 2018:
- The bill defines fugitive economic offender (FEO) as any individual against whom warrant for arrest in relation to scheduled offence (enlisted in the this law) has been issued by any court in India, but he leaves or has left India to avoid criminal prosecution or refuses to return to India to face criminal prosecution.
- The onus is on authorities to prove that an individual is a fugitive economic offender. It gives government right to confiscate property of such economic offenders in India and abroad. Its provisions are also be applicable on proxy-owned properties of economic offenders.
- It is applicable in cases where total value involved in such economic offences is Rs.100 crore or more. It keeps banks and other financial institutions at Centre and provide help to them recover amount.
- It establishes Special Court under the Prevention of Money-laundering Act (PMLA), 2002 to declare a person as FEO.
- The special court will also appoint ‘administrator’ to oversee confiscated property. It will be responsible for disposing of confiscated property and t property will be used to satisfy creditors’ claims.
- It debars fugitive economic offender from defending any civil claim at the discretion of any court including High Court. If prior to the declaration, the alleged FEO returns to India and submits to the appropriate jurisdictional court, proceedings under this Act will cease by law.
Need for such law:
- There have been several instances of economic offenders fleeing country to evade clutches Indian law to remain outside jurisdiction of Indian courts.
- The absence of such offenders from Indian courts has several deleterious consequences. It hampers investigation in criminal cases, wastes precious time of courts of law, undermines rule of law in India.
- Further, most such cases of economic offences involve non-repayment of bank loans thereby worsening financial health of banking sector.
- Moreover, existing non-coherent civil and criminal provisions in law are not entirely adequate to deal with severity of problem.
Significance of the Bill:
- The bill will provide effective, expeditious and constitutionally permissible deterrent legal teeth to enforcing agencies to ensure that such actions of FEO are curbed.
- The Bill is expected to re-establish the rule of law with respect to the fugitive economic offenders as they would be forced to return to India to face trial for scheduled offences.
- This would also help the banks and other financial institutions to achieve higher recovery from financial defaults committed by such fugitive economic offenders, improving the financial health of such institutions.
- It is expected that the special forum to be created for expeditious confiscation of the proceeds of crime, in India or abroad, would coerce the fugitive to return to India to submit to the jurisdiction of Courts in India to face the law in respect of scheduled offences.
Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2013 passed by Rajya Sabha
The Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2013 that amends certain provisions of a 30-year-old anti-corruption law (Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988), was passed by the Upper House (Rajya Sabha) unanimously with voice vote.
- The bill has many provisions to ensure speedy trial of corruption cases.
Why amendment is needed?
- The amendment to the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 was necessitated from the obligation of India to review the existing provisions of the Act so as to bring it in line with the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC).
The Bill which was originally proposed during 2013 was then referred to a Select Committee of Rajya Sabha, which submitted its report on August 12, 2016.
Suggested changes by Rajya Sabha Select Committee:
Major changes suggested in the PC Act, 1988 as reported by the Rajya Sabha Select Committee, 2016 include:
Giving a bribe as punishable offence:
- The Bill introduces the offence of ‘giving a bribe’ as a direct offence. However, a person who is compelled to give a bribe will not be charged with the offence if he reports the matter to law enforcement authorities within seven days.
Redefining the Criminal misconduct:
- The Bill redefines the provisions related to criminal misconduct to only cover two types of offences: (i) fraudulent misappropriation of property; and (ii) illicit enrichment (such as amassing of assets disproportionate to one’s known sources of income).
Prior approval for investigation alleged to have been committed by a Public Servant:
- Before a police officer conducts any investigation into an offence alleged to have been committed by a public servant, prior approval of the relevant government or competent authority should be taken. Such approval would not be necessary in cases which involves the arrest of a person on the spot on the charge of taking a bribe.
Time limit for trial of cases:
- As per the Bill, trial by special judge should be completed within two years. If not, reasons for the delay must be recorded, for every six months of extension of time obtained. However, the total period for completion of trial may not exceed four years.
Issues related to Health & Education
MHRD Announces ‘Padhe Bharat- Badhe Bharat’ Initiative
The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has announced ‘Padhe Bharat- Badhe Bharat’ an initiative to promote the reading culture among students.
- The initiative has been launched under ‘Samagra Shiksha’.
About ‘Padhe Bharat- Badhe Bharat’:
- Under this initiative, government will give an annual library grant to schools to allow students widen their ambit of learning.
- The grant will be given to Primary to Senior Secondary levels and will vary between Rs. 5000 and Rs. 20000.
About Samagra Shiksha scheme:
The Department of School Education and Literacy under the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has formulated the Samagra Shiksha – an Integrated Scheme for School Education as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme.
- The programme was introduced in the Union Budget 2018-19 and it is being implemented throughout the country with effect from the year 2018-19.
- It is an overarching programme for the school education sector extending from pre-school to class XII and aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education at all levels of school education.
- It envisages the ‘school’ as a continuum from pre-school, primary, upper primary, secondary to senior secondary levels.
- The main emphasis of the Scheme is on improving quality of school education and the strategy for all interventions would be to enhance the Learning Outcomes at all levels of schooling.
This programme subsumes the three erstwhile Centrally Sponsored Schemes:
- Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA),
- Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA)
- Teacher Education (TE)
The major interventions, across all levels of school education, under the scheme are:
- Universal Access including Infrastructure Development and Retention;
- Gender and Equity;
- Inclusive Education;
- Financial support for Teacher Salary;
- Digital initiatives;
- Entitlements under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009 including uniforms, textbooks etc.;
- Pre-school Education;
- Vocational Education;
- Sports and Physical Education;
- Strengthening of Teacher Education and Training;
- Monitoring and
- Programme Management.
NITI Aayog’s Women Entrepreneurship Platform organises Workshop on Empowering Women
NITI Aayog’s Women Entrepreneurship Platform (WEP) and Shri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC), Office of International Programmes (OIP) University of Delhi, jointly organised a Two-Day International conference on “Empowering Women: Fostering Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Sustainability”.
About Women Entrepreneurship Platform (WEP):
The National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog has launched Women Entrepreneurship Platform (WEP) on the occasion of International Women’s day (March 8, 2018).
- The initiative is aimed at building an ecosystem for women across country to help realise their entrepreneurial aspirations, scale-up innovative initiatives and chalk-out sustainable, long-term strategies for their businesses. This will be done through an enabling network of industry collaborations, partnerships, mentors and peer-to-peer connect.
- WEP will address bottlenecks faced by both aspiring and established women entrepreneurs by streamlining information across government and private sector schemes and initiatives with informative, interactive website as a dedicated resource and knowledge base.
- WEP aspires to substantially increase number of women entrepreneurs to create and empower dynamic new India by opening up avenues of growth and opportunity for women entrepreneurs.
- The WEP platform will operate within broader framework of industry collaborations and partnerships, which cut across sectors in economy.
- It will provide unique services such as credit evaluation of women-led startups by CRISIL and potential equity investments through an Rs. 10 crore fund established by DICE Districts
These aspirations of women entrepreneurs are manifested in three pillars on which WEP is built:
- Ichha Shakti: Motivating aspiring entrepreneurs to start their enterprise.
- Gyaan Shakti: Providing knowledge and ecosystem support to women entrepreneurs to help them foster entrepreneurship.
- Karma Shakti: Providing hands-on support to entrepreneurs in setting-up and scaling up businesses.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
NMCG organises “Ganga Vriksharopan Abhiyan”
The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) launched the “Ganga Vriksharopan Abhiyan” campaign in five main stem Ganga basin states of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal.
- The week-long tree plantation initiative, launched on July 9 and continued till July 15, is observed as ‘Shubharambh Saptah’.
- State Forest Departments of these states have been made the nodal agencies for the smooth and effective execution of the campaign.
About the Abhiyan:
- Ganga Vriksharopan Abhiyan was initiated as part of the Forest Interventions in Ganga (FIG) component of Namami Gange Programme.
- It was aimed at bringing greater awareness among people and other stakeholders regarding the importance of afforestation for the task of Ganga Rejuvenation.
- As part of the campaign, schools, colleges and departments were requested to “Adopt a Plant” for turning this campaign into a people’s movement.
Why FIG is important?
- The Forest Interventions in Ganga (FIG) is significant as it aims to bring greater awareness among people and other stakeholders regarding the importance of afforestation for the task of Ganga Rejuvenation.
Why is Afforestation in Ganga Basin important?
- Forests cause higher rainfall and raise water level in the rivers. Through their foliage, craggy bark and abundant leaf litter, trees and forests decrease the speed of water dispersion and favour slow but greater infiltration of rainwater to ensure smooth functioning of the hydrological cycle.
- Moreover, presence of healthy forest cover along the river provides self-cleaning ability to the river.
- Thus, afforestation and augmentation of existing forest along the Ganga holds the promise to strengthen the riparian ecosystem thereby contributing to the overarching cause of Ganga Rejuvenation.
About National Mission for Clean Ganga:
National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) was registered as a society on 12th August 2011 under the Societies Registration Act 1860.
- It acted as implementation arm of National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) which was constituted under the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act (EPA), 1986. NGRBA has since been dissolved with effect from the 7th October 2016, consequent to constitution of National Council for Rejuvenation, Protection and Management of River Ganga (referred as National Ganga Council).
- It now works under the control of Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation.
- Its aim is to clean Ganga and its tributaries in a comprehensive manner.
- NMCG has a two tier management structure and comprises of Governing Council and Executive Committee. Both of them are headed by Director General, NMCG. Executive Committee has been authorized to accord approval for all projects up to Rs.1000 crore.
- Similar to structure at national level, State Programme Management Groups (SPMGs) acts as implementing arm of State Ganga Committees.
- The Director General (DG) of NMCG is a Additional Secretary in Government of India.
- For effective implementation of the projects under the overall supervision of NMCG, the State Level Program Management Groups (SPMGs) are, also headed by senior officers of the concerned States.
‘Meghalayan Age’ announced as official new chapter in Earth’s history
Scientists at International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS) have created a new phase in Earth’s geological history and named it Meghalayan, after a stalagmite from a cave in the Indian state of Meghalaya that helped define climatic events 4,200 years ago, marking the beginning of the phase that continues till today.
- The lower boundary of the Meghalayan stage is defined at a specific level in a stalagmite from a cave in the northeastern Indian state.
- The decision to define these new stages of the Holocene Series and thus the three new corresponding ages of the Holocene Epoch allows for an update to the International Chronostratigraphic Chart, which depicts the timeline for the Earth’s full geologic history.
About Meghalayan Age:
- The Meghalayan Age began with a mega global drought that devastated ancient agricultural civilisations from Egypt to China.
- It is part of a longer period known as the Holocene Epoch, which reflects everything that has happened over the past 11,700 years.
- Evidence of the climatic event has been found in sediments on all seven continents, including those from Meghalaya.
Why Meghalayan is unique?
- The Meghalayan is unique because it is the first interval in Earth’s geological history that coincided with a major cultural event, as agricultural societies struggled to recover from the shift in climate.
- The droughts over a 200-year period resulted in human migrations in Egypt, Greece, Syria, Palestine, Mesopotamia, the Indus valley and the Yangtze river valley.
Two other ages:
- Besides Meghalayan Age, two other ages — the Middle Holocene Northgrippian Age and the Early Holocene Greenlandian Age — with beginnings defined at climatic events that happened about 8,300 years and 11,700 years ago, respectively, were also approved by the International Commission on Stratigraphy, which is responsible for standardising the geologic time scale.
- Geologists divide the 4.6-billion-year existence of Earth into distinct periods. Each period corresponds to significant events such as the break-up of continents, shifts in climate, and the emergence of particular types of animals and plant life.
- These units of the geologic time scale are based on sedimentary strata that have accumulated over time and contain within them sediment types, fossils and chemical isotopes that record the passage of time as well as the physical and biological events that produced them.
About International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS):
The IUGS was founded in 1961 and is a Scientific Union member of the International Council for Science (ICSU), which it recognizes as the coordinating body for the international organization of science.
- It is an international non-governmental organization devoted to international cooperation in the field of geology.
- IUGS is a joint partner with UNESCO for the International Geoscience Programme (IGCP) and they also participate in the Global Network of National Geoparks (GGN).
- Currently geologists from 121 countries (and regions) are represented in IUGS through 121 Adhering Organization.
Key Facts for Prelims
Centenary celebration of Nelson Mandela International Day
Nelson Mandela International Day 2018 marks 100 years since the birth of Nelson Mandela (18 July 1918).
- The Nelson Mandela Foundation is dedicating this year’s Mandela Day to Action Against Poverty, honouring Nelson Mandela’s leadership and devotion to fighting poverty and promoting social justice for all.
About Nelson Mandela International Day:
- In 2009, Mandela’s birthday (July 18th) was declared Mandela Day, an international day to promote global peace and celebrate the South African leader’s legacy.
- The event started after the Nelson Mandela Foundation and 46664, a concert series that benefits AIDS victims referencing Mandela’s prison number 46664, first proposed the idea of a worldwide day honoring the work and legacy of Nelson Mandela in April 2009.
- This annual event is meant to encourage citizens worldwide to give back the way that Mandela has throughout his lifetime.
Who was Nelson Mandela?
- Nelson Mandela was a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, political leader, and philanthropist who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999.
- He was the country’s first black head of state and the first elected in a fully representative democratic election.
- Mandela was sent to prison for life in 1962 for protesting against poverty, inequality and racism against black people in South Africa during the apartheid.
- He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 and in 1994 he was elected as the first black South African president.
National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP)
- The National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP) announced the appointment of Arman Ali as its executive director.
- NCPEDP is India’s only cross disability advocacy organisation working towards empowerment of persons with disabilities.
- Headquartered in New Delhi NCPEDP has to its credit several achievements including lobbying for creation of a new Department for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities under the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment and the call for a new Disability Act to replace the earlier archaic PwD Act of 1995.
New design of 100-rupee banknote
- The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will soon issue Rs.100 denomination banknotes with a completely new design.
- The new Rs.100 note will have a base colour of lavender.
- The new notes will be in the Mahatma Gandhi (New) Series and bear the signature of Dr. Urjit R. Patel, governor of the RBI.
- It will have a motif of “RANI KI VAV” on the reverse, which depicts India’s cultural heritage.
- Rani ki Vav was built in the 11th century AD as a memorial to a king by Queen Udaymat. It is located in Patan district of Gujarat. It was added as part of the UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2014.