Polity & Governance
- Prime Minister’s Office sets ambitious paperless target
- Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill 2014 tabled in Rajya Sabha
- Centre tables Bankruptcy Bill in Lok Sabha
- Lok Sabha passes National Waterways Bill, 2015
Science & Technology
- India joins select club to build LNG ships
Also in News
- 22nd December: National Mathematics Day
Polity & Governance
Prime Minister’s Office sets ambitious paperless target
The Prime Minister’s Office has set an ambitious target to shift at least 90% of all government transactions that involve payments or receipts from citizens and businesses to electronic or paperless mode by the end of 2016, replacing the use of cash, demand drafts, cheques and challans in government offices.
To move towards that goal, all government departments and ministries have been asked to provide electronic options for all payments and receipts by March 31, 2016.
- Though a few government agencies and public sector firms like MTNL manage their user records digitally and offer anytime-anywhere online payment options, some government agencies still have paper records and manual billing systems, while others have developed electronic records but haven’t integrated digital payment options.
About the move:
- The Department of Electronics and Information Technology or DEITY is working on an end-to-end transactional experience for citizens and businesses to access various services through Internet enabled with a payment gateway interface for online payments, as part of the Digital India mission.
- An apex committee under the PMO has mandated a targeted approach to implement digital payments for citizens for across all the e-services of government ministries and departments and set a December 2016 deadline for moving at least 90% of all government payments and receipts online.
- As many as 46 departments have already been integrated with a generic portal for e-payments that DEITY is launching, which will also host a repository of forms and services offered by different departments. Another 30 departments are in different stages of integration.
The rationale behind the move:
- The Jan Dhan Yojana, Aadhaar and mobile number (JAM) trinity for pushing financial inclusion is a priority, so departments need to adopt modes of electronic payments & receipts for internal and external transactions.
- The move will also bring an end to misgovernance of the sort seen during the 2G spectrum scam, for instance, when several telecom players, with demand drafts in hand, were scrambling to get spectrum allocations on a first-come, first-served basis.
[Courtesy: The Hindu]
Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill 2014 tabled in Rajya Sabha
The release of the juvenile convict in the Delhi gang rape case has compelled MPs, transcending party lines, to agree to bring for consideration in the Rajya Sabha, the proposed amendments to the Juvenile Justice Act. The amendments have received the Lok Sabha’s approval.
The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill, 2014
Highlights of the Bill:
- The Bill replaces the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000. It addresses children in conflict with law and children in need of care and protection.
- The Bill permits juveniles between the ages of 16-18 years to be tried as adults for heinous offences. Also, any 16-18 year old, who commits a lesser, i.e., serious offence may be tried as an adult only if he is apprehended after the age of 21 years.
- Juvenile Justice Boards (JJB) and Child Welfare Committees (CWC) will be constituted in each district. The JJB will conduct a preliminary inquiry to determine whether a juvenile offender is to be sent for rehabilitation or be tried as an adult. The CWC will determine institutional care for children in need of care and protection.
- Eligibility of adoptive parents and the procedure for adoption have been included in the Bill.
- Penalties for cruelty against a child, offering a narcotic substance to a child, and abduction or selling a child have been prescribed.
Key Issues and Analysis:
- There are differing views on whether juveniles should be tried as adults. Some argue that the current law does not act as a deterrent for juveniles committing heinous crimes. Another view is that a reformative approach will reduce likelihood of repeating offences.
- The provision of trying a juvenile committing a serious or heinous offence as an adult based on date of apprehension could violate the Article 14 (right to equality) and Article 21 (requiring that laws and procedures are fair and reasonable). The provision also counters the spirit of Article 20(1) by according a higher penalty for the same offence, if the person is apprehended after 21 years of age.
- The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child requires all signatory countries to treat every child under the age of 18 years as equal. The provision of trying a juvenile as an adult contravenes the Convention.
- Some penalties provided in the Bill are not in proportion to the gravity of the offence. For example, the penalty for selling a child is lower than that for offering intoxicating or psychotropic substances to a child.
The amendments, interestingly, have already been through a Standing Committee of Parliament that wanted the cut-off age to be 18. That committee had stressed that though the spike in juvenile crime, as reflected in the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data had been the reason cited for the amendments, the NCRB data was misleading as it was based on FIRs and not actual convictions. Therefore, it had suggested that the approach towards juvenile offenders should be reformative and rehabilitative.
[Courtesy: The Hindu, PRSIndia]
Centre tables Bankruptcy Bill in Lok Sabha
The government has moved the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2015 in the Lok Sabha. The Bill, if passed, should enhance the ease of doing business in the country.
About the Bill:
- The Bill will provide a framework for time bound resolution of corporate bankruptcy, ensuring that stakeholder interest are protected and the assets are put to use quickly.
- The bill seeks to consolidate and amend the laws relating to reorganization and insolvency resolution and will also apply to partnership firms and individuals.
- The bill is a money bill, implying that Rajya Sabha will have a limited role in it, brightening its chances of passage.
- Bankruptcy bill provides for creation of an Insolvency and Bankruptcy Fund, an Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India to regulate insolvency professional, agencies and information utilities.
- The code allows a corporate debtor itself to initiate insolvency resolution process once it has defaulted on a debt.
- The code provides for time limit of 180, days extendable by further 90 days, for completion of insolvency resolution process
- Financial creditors can also initiate corporate insolvency resolution process.
Insolvency norms in India:
- A recent survey report found that the average duration for insolvency resolution in India is 4.3 years, which is significantly higher than the prevailing norm of 2.6 years in South Asia and 1.7 years in the OECD high-income countries.
- The World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Report also confirms the long duration of insolvency resolution in India.
- The cumbersome insolvency resolution is one of key reasons for India’s low ranking of 130 on the World Bank’s Ease of doing business ranking.
- India is currently ranked at 136 on this measure in the 189-country ranking.
[Courtesy: Economic Times, Hindu]
Lok Sabha passes National Waterways Bill, 2015
The National Waterways Bill, 2015, which provides for declaring certain inland waterways as national waterways, was passed in the Lok Sabha.
About the Bill:
- The Bill identifies additional 101 waterways as national waterways.
- After the inclusion of 106 additional inlands waterways to the existing five national waterways, the total number of national waterways goes up to 111.
- As of now, there are five waterways in the country. Three of these are not operational and the remaining two reportedly are not used to their potential.
- As of now, India largely depends on roads and railways for every service. The rivers would be used for shipping and navigation for commercial, tourism, transportation of cargo and passengers and other purposes.
- While inland waterways are recognised as a fuel efficient, cost effective and environment friendly mode of transport, it has received lesser investment as compared to roads and railways.
Since inland waterways are lagging behind other modes of transport, the central government has evolved a policy for integrated development of inland waterways.
- India has a potential of 14,500 kms inland waterways and if this target is achieved, we will be able to transport 44 million tonnes of cargo through the rivers.
- US has 10,000 kms of waterways which are used to transport 60 million tonnes of cargo every year while China has 11,000 km of waterways which are used for transportation of 120 trillion tonnes of cargo, which is 2500 times higher than India.
- For funding the ambitious waterways projects, the government is aiming to garner Rs 1 lakh crore through innovative methods, which include Rs 50,000 crore from World Bank, investment of profits of shipping PSUs into a subsidiary company and obtaining dollar loan at cheaper rates, besides seeking funds from the budget.
It should be noted here that under the Union List of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution, the central government can make laws on shipping and navigation on inland waterways which are classified as national waterways by Parliament by law.
[Courtesy: Times of India]
Science & Technology
India joins select club to build LNG ships
India is going to fulfil a much-desired ambition of LNG ship building. Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL), a Public Sector Undertaking under the administrative control of Ministry of Shipping, has been certified by GTT (Gaztransport et Technigaz), France, to build LNG ships for any client world-wide using their patented membrane containment system known as the Mark-III Technology.
- Cochin Shipyard is the first shipyard in India to have obtained this technology, joining the league of South Korea, Japan and China.
- CSL is now authorised to use the Membrane Type Technologies of GTT for any liquid gas carriers, more particularly the LNG carriers.
- This opens a new chapter in ship-building technology in India and marks a big step for Make in India.
- GTT France is the world leader in design engineering and technology provider of membrane type containment systems for transportation and storage of LNG.
- Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL) is in the process of finalising contracts with reputed LNG shipping companies for the manufacture of ships customised to GAIL’s specifications.
About LNG Ships:
- LNG Vessels are very complex ships and only a few yards world over have the capability to build these ships.
- The most critical part of an LNG ship is its cryogenic containment and handling system as the LNG is carried at a temperature of -163 degrees.
- This requires fool-proof cryogenic containment and safe handling and transfer systems.
[Courtesy: PIB, Hindu]
Also in News
22nd December: National Mathematics Day
To commemorate the birth anniversary great Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan, the National Mathematics Day as observed on December 22, 2015, across India.
- The Indian mathematical genius Srinivasa Ramanujan was born on 22 December 1887 and died on 26 April 1920.
- It was in recognition of his contribution to mathematics the Government of India decided to celebrate Ramanujan’s birthday as the National Mathematics Day every year and to celebrate 2012 as the National Mathematical Year.
In year 2015:
- India and UNESCO has agreed to jointly hold mathematics conferences on the concept of zero in Paris, the headquarters of the world body, and at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore.