Polity & Governance
- Bill on NEET gets LS approval
- Cabinet approves amendment in the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) amendment Bill, 2015
- Cabinet approves the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill 2016
- Swachh Yug Campaign
- Cabinet approves establishment of new All India Institutes of Medical Sciences at Gorakhpur
- Centre Bifurcates Communication Ministry; New Ministry For Information Technology
- ECI Launches “National Electoral Roll Purification” (NERP) 2016
- Green signal for setting up Sagarmala Development Company
- Tea Board unveils accident cover for workers
- Cabinet approves signing of Air Services Agreement between India and Mozambique
Polity & Governance
Bill on NEET gets LS approval
A significant bill aimed at putting in place a single common examination for medical and dental courses was passed by the Lok Sabha.
- The Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Bill, 2016 and the Dentists (Amendment) Bill, 2016 provides a Constitutional status to the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) examination” which is intended to be introduced in the academic session next year.
- The Bill seeks to amend the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 and the Dentists Act, 1948 and replace the Ordinances that were promulgated by the government to circumvent the Supreme Court order for implementation of NEET examination this session itself.
- There were three main objectives behind the move:
- End the multiplicity of examinations,
- Have fair and transparent examinations and
- Adopt non-exploitative process.
- New legislation will end exploitation, students facing particularly with regard to the caiptation fees.
- Even private colleges will be under its ambit.
- Responding to apprehensions expressed by members, particularly Tamil Nadu where reservation is upto 85 per cent, the government clarified not to touch the state quota. Students in Tamil Nadu will be competing in Tamil Nadu only.
- The exam will be held on the basis of the syllabus of NCERT and the under-graduate exam will be taken up by CBSE and post-graduation by the national board of examination.
Cabinet approves amendment in the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) amendment Bill, 2015
The Union Cabinet has given its approval for introducing amendments to the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) (Amendment) Bill, 2015 in Parliament.
Aim of the amendments:
- The amendments aim to strengthen the Bill in terms of legal and administrative procedure so as to overcome the practical difficulties which may arise in the implementation of the provisions of the Bill when it becomes an Act.
Significance of the bill:
- The legislation is also intended to effectively prohibit benami transactions and consequently prevent circumvention of law through unfair practices.
- It empowers the Government to confiscate benami property by following due procedure. It therefore promotes equity across all citizens.
- However, those who declare their benami properties under income declaration scheme will get immunity under the Benami Act.
The Bill seeks to:
- Amend the definition of benami transactions,
- Establish adjudicating authorities and an Appellate Tribunal to deal with benami transactions, and
- Specify the penalty for entering into benami transactions.
What is Benami transaction?
The Act defines a benami transaction as a transaction where a property is held by or transferred to a person, but has been provided for or paid by another person.
The Bill amends this definition to add other transactions which qualify as benami, such as property transactions where:
- The transaction is made in a fictitious name,
- The owner is not aware of denies knowledge of the ownership of the property, or
- The person providing the consideration for the property is not traceable.
Cabinet approves the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill 2016
The Union Cabinet has approved The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill 2016.
- The Bill will make all the stakeholders responsive and accountable for upholding the principles underlying the Bill.
- It will bring greater accountability on the part of the Central Government and Slate Governments/Union Territories Administrations for issues concerning Transgender persons.
Significance of the bill:
- Through this Bill the Government has evolved a mechanism for their social, economic and educational empowerment.
- The Bill will benefit a large number of transgender persons, mitigate the stigma, discrimination and abuse against this marginalized section and bring them into the mainstream of society.
- It will lead to greater inclusiveness and will make the transgender persons productive members of the society.
Transgender community is among one of the most marginalized communities in the country because they don’t fit into the stereotypical categories of gender of ‘men’ or ‘women’. Consequently, they face problems ranging from social exclusion to discrimination, lack of education facilities, unemployment, lack of medical facilities and so on.[Ref: PIB]
Swachh Yug Campaign
In a written reply to question in the Lok Sabha, Minister of state for youth affairs & sports has said that the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation has launched ‘Swachh Yug’ campaign to make all villages along the banks of the Ganga, Open Defecation Free (ODF).
About the campaign:
- The ‘Swachh Yug’ campaign, being a collaborative effort between the Swachh Bharat Mission, local youth leaders (Yuva) and the Namami Gange project (Ganga) – is being called ‘Swachh Yug’, which translates into ‘the age of Swachh’.
- The campaign has been launched in partnership with Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports and Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation.
- The Ministry will give its support to the five States of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal.
- The Ministry of Youth Affairs, under the coordination of the Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan, is enlisting the support of youth agencies such as the Bharat Scouts and Guides, Nehru Yuva Kendras and National Service Scheme.
- To take this initiative forward, a nodal officer has been identified for each district to work on making their district Open Defecation Free (ODF) in mission mode as well as to focus on ‘Swachhta’ at the village through proper Solid and Liquid Waste Management and maintaining general cleanliness.
Cabinet approves establishment of new All India Institutes of Medical Sciences at Gorakhpur
The Union Cabinet has given its approval for establishment of new All India Institutes of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) at Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh under Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY).
- The setting up of AIIMS under PMSSY aims correcting the regional imbalances in availability of affordable/reliable tertiary level healthcare in the country in general, and to augment facilities for quality medical education in under-served or backward States, in particular.
- Under this scheme, AIIMS have been established in Bhubaneshwar, Bhopal, Raipur, Jodhpur, Rishikesh and Patna while work of AIIMS Rae Bareli is in progress. Also, three AIIMS in Nagpur (Maharashtra), Kalyani(West) and Mangalagiri in Guntur (A.P) have been sanctioned in 2015.
Centre Bifurcates Communication Ministry; New Ministry For Information Technology
A new Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has been created by the Centre after bifurcating Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MoC&IT) to exclusively deal with Aadhaar, promotion of internet and other related services.
- President Pranab Mukherjee has approved changes in Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules, 1961, in this regard.
According to the decision, there will be two ministries –
- Ministry of Communications and
- Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.
- Further, the Ministry of Communications will have two departments -Department of Telecommunications and Department of Posts.
- The Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY), which used to be in the erstwhile MoC&IT, will be under the new Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.
- The newly formed Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology will deal with all matters related to Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) -mandated to issue Aadhaar numbers to all Indian citizens.
- The matters related to promotion of internet, information technology enabled services, initiative on bridging the digital divide and National Informatics Centre (NIC), among others, will also be dealt by the new ministry.
- The UIDAI was in September last year shifted from NITI Aayog (formerly Planning Commission) to the administrative control of the MoC&IT.
ECI Launches “National Electoral Roll Purification” (NERP) 2016
The Election Commission of India (ECI) announced the launch of National Electoral Roll Purification (NERP) 2016 programme across the country.
- “No voter to be left behind” is the motto of ECI for year 2016.
- The programme was launched to improve health of Electoral Rolls (ERs) and to optimize the Polling Station (PS) location and area across the country.
- Besides, it also seeks to correct errors in electoral rolls and enrolment of all eligible citizens, among other things.
The twin objectives of NERP 2016 are:
- Improving Health of ERs by inclusion of all eligible citizens in mission mode by:
- ERs to be made free from errors.
- Single ER entry for every eligible elector with unique Elector Photo Identity Card (EPIC) number.
- Removal of all Absent (A)/ Shifted (S)/ Dead (D) electors’ entries and Repeat Entries (REs).
- Ensuring Photo Electoral Rolls (PERs) with good quality correct images of every elector confirming to ECI standards, and linking Electors with ECI by obtaining their contact details.
- Standardization of Sections, PS boundaries and Location and improved PS map by:
- Optimization of part boundaries with Standardization of sections using GIS technology.
- Relocation of PS with in Part or in adjacent parts and Improved PS Map with part map.
- PS building image and dimensioned PS room drawing with Basic Minimum Facilities (BMF) details.
Green signal for setting up Sagarmala Development Company
The Union government cleared a plan to set up Sagarmala Development Company (SDC) to provide equity support to port-led economic development projects, with an initial authorised share capital of Rs 1,000 crore and a subscribed share capital of Rs.90 crore.
Functions of the SDC:
- The SDC’s role will be to identify port-led development projects and assist special purpose vehicles (SPVs) in project development, bid out projects for private sector participation and put in place suitable risk management measures for strategic projects.
- Under the administrative control of the Shipping Ministry, it will also be responsible for obtaining the required approvals and clearances for the port projects.
- It will prepare detailed master plan for coastal economic zones and work as a nodal agency for coordination and monitoring of all the identified projects.
- SDC will be raising funds as debt or equity (as long term capital), as per the project requirements/ by leveraging resources provided by the government of India and from multi-lateral and bilateral funding agencies.
Tea Board unveils accident cover for workers
The Tea Board of India has introduced an accident insurance scheme for workers in small tea gardens at an annual premium of Rs.14. Of this, tea farmers will have to pay only Rs. 3.50 annually.
- The scheme provides compensation to small tea farmers between 18 and 70 years for a Rs.2 lakh-cover.
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.
Cabinet approves signing of Air Services Agreement between India and Mozambique
The Union Cabinet has approved signing of the Air Services Agreement between India and Mozambique.
- Presently there is no Air Services Agreement between India and Mozambique.
- To promote the air connectivity between the two countries, the two sides initiated the process of consultation in 2011 to finalize the text of Air Services Agreement.
The major features of the Agreement include:
- The agreement allows designated airlines of either countries to establish offices in the territory of other for the promotion and sale of air services, the statement said.
- The designated airlines shall also have fair and equal opportunity to operate the agreed services on specified routes, it said.
- The ASA also has the provisions relating to revocation or suspension of operating authorisation, principles governing operations of agreed services, commercial opportunities, and safety and security related clause that were incorporated in the line of Indian model ASA.