Polity & Governance
- Three Year Action Agenda
- Online Statement Of Transaction (e-SOT) and the e-PRAN card launched for Atal Pension Yojana (APY)
- Judgment turns focus on removal of police top brass
- Centre unveils new Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) Act
Defence & Security Issues
- Joint Doctrine of Army, Navy, IAF Unveiled
Science & Technology
- IPR Awareness Campaign for Schools
Key Facts for Prelims
- Northeast India’s largest IT hub opens in Tripura
- ‘Mother of all marches’ in Venezuela
- Engaging Asia arbitration summit
- Golden Globe Tigers award
Polity & Governance
Three Year Action Agenda
Breaking away from the five-year planning process, NITI Aayog has readied a draft three-year action agenda and circulated it to the States for comments.
- The draft has been prepared through extensive consultation with State governments.
- In May 2016, the Prime Minister’s Office directed NITI Aayog to come up with a 15-year vision document for the period up to 2031-32.
- This would be complemented with a seven-year strategy starting 2017-18 to convert the vision document into implementable policy and action as part of the National Development Agenda and a three-year draft action plan.
Highlights of the draft:
- The action agenda will span a three-year time frame involving mostly executive decisions, the strategy will be for a seven-year period and include decisions that need legislative changes while the vision would be for 15 years and incorporate institutional changes that may need Constitutional amendments.
- The agenda includes proposals for shifting additional revenues to high priority sectors, doubling farmers’ income by 2022, creating jobs, bringing down land prices and expanding tax base through measures such as taxing agricultural income.
- The draft action agenda makes a strong case for tackling tax evasion, expanding the tax base and simplifying the tax stem through reforms. One related proposal is consolidating existing custom duty rates to a unified rate.
- In the area of urban development, the draft stresses on the need to bring down land prices to make hosing affordable through increased supply of urban land. It proposed more flexible conversion rules from one use to another, release of land held by sick units, more generous floor space index, reform in the Rent Control Act and promoting dormitory housing.
- For creating jobs, the action points include creation of Coastal Employment Zones to boost exports and generate high-productivity jobs and enhancing labour-market flexibility through reforming key laws.
- The action points also propose addressing high and rising share of NPAs in India’s banks through supporting the auction of larger assets to private asset reconstruction companies and strengthening the State Bank of India-led ARC.
Online Statement Of Transaction (e-SOT) and the e-PRAN card launched for Atal Pension Yojana (APY)
With a view to digitally empower the Atal Pension Yojana (APY) subscribers and improve the quality of service, the facility of online viewing of the statement of transaction(e-SOT) and also the e-PRAN card have been launched.
- More than 45 lakhs APY subscribers are likely to be benefited.
Atal Pension Yojana (APY):
- Atal Pension Yojana (APY) is a pension scheme for citizens of India focussed on the unorganised sector workers.
- Under the APY, guaranteed minimum pension of Rs. 1,000/-, 2,000/-, 3,000/-, 4,000 and 5,000/- per month will be given at the age of 60 years in turn for the contribution varying from Rs 42 to Rs 210 per month.
- PFRDA is the nodal agency for APY and is working out plans to improve reach and information dissemination.
- Any Citizen of India between 18 – 40 years of age can join APY scheme.
- Government co-contribution is available for 5 years, i.e., from 2015-16 to 2019-20 for the subscribers who join the scheme during the period from 1st June, 2015 to 31st December, 2015 and who are not covered by any Statutory Social Security Schemes and are not income tax payers.
Judgment turns focus on removal of police top brass
The Supreme Court’s recent judgment reinstating T.P. Senkumar as Director-General of Police in Kerala has brought the spotlight back on the issue of executive privilege in appointing and removing top officials.
- This verdict draws from a September 2006 judgment in what is known as the Prakash Singh case where the Supreme Court said a DGP should have a two-year tenure and can be removed only in consultation with the State Security Commission under certain conditions.
What was the Prakash Singh case?
- In the Prakash Singh case, the Supreme Court directed State Governments to constitute a State Security Commission to ensure that the State “does not exercise unwarranted influence or pressure on the State police and for laying down the broad policy guidelines so that the State police always acts according to the laws of the land and the Constitution of the country.”
- “This watchdog body shall be headed by the Chief Minister or Home Minister as Chairman and have the DGP of the State as its ex-officio Secretary. The other members of the Commission shall be chosen in such a manner that it is able to function independent of government control,” the 2006 judgment stated.
- A 2014 report prepared by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative revealed that while States have set up State Security Commissions, the intended independent character of these bodies has been given the go-by.
Centre unveils new Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) Act
In order to give more freedom to farmers to sell their produce, the Agriculture Ministry has unveiled “The State/UT Agricultural Produce and Livestocks Marketing (promotion and facilitation) Act, 2017” which has defined each state/UT as a single unified market area.
- The draft law is proposed to overhaul the existing laws.
- So far 26 states and Union Territories, including Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, have fully or partly modified their APMC laws.
- Other than Bihar, all other states/UTs have agreed to adopt the model Act.
Need of the act:
- Due to the monopoly of APMCs, farmers do not have a choice to sell their farm produce to multiple buyers. The model act will provide several marketing channels to sell agricultural produce.
- The model act aims to liberalize trade in farm produce and aid better price realization for farmers.
Highlights of the act:
- The model act proposes to curb the role of APMC mandis. The existing APMC mandis are allowed to enforce regulation only in their market yard and thus encouraging private sector players to set up mandis.
- Traders would be able to transact in all markets within a state by paying a single fee.
- The model law on agricultural marketing would introduce features like single market within a state, private wholesale markets, direct sale by farmers to bulk buyers, and promotion of electronic trading etc.
- As agricultural marketing is a state subject and is governed by their respective Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) Acts, the states are free to adopt portions or the entire model act.
- The state governments as per the draft law are required to appoint an independent entity ‘director of agricultural marketing’ who would function as a sole authority to grant the licence for the establishment of a new market yard in the state concerned.
- The new Act proposes to put a cap on mandi taxes at 1% for foodgrain and 2% for fruits and vegetables as well as commission agent’s levy at 2% of the total transaction cost.
Defence & Security Issues
Joint Doctrine of Army, Navy, IAF Unveiled
With aim to match the pace of fast changing nature of war, the ministry of defence has released the Joint Doctrine of Armed Forces stressing on the need for synergy amongst the three Services namely Army, IAF and Navy.
- The doctrine is aimed at coherently dealing with all possible security threats faced by India such as conventional and proxy wars.
- This document is the second edition of the joint doctrine. The first edition of the document was released around eight years ago.
Highlights of the doctrine:
- The doctrine proposes joint training of personnel, unified command and control structure. In addition, it supports tri-service approach to modernise the tri-services.
- The doctrine has said that the Higher Defence Organisation will facilitate inter-Service coordination in planning, execution of operations and force planning.
- The doctrine facilitates the establishment of a broad framework for the conduct of operations across all the domains (land, air, sea, space and cyber-space).
- The doctrine pushes for effective deterrent capabilities to protect India’s strategic interests along the Northern, Western and Eastern borders and sensitivities along the Line of Control (LoC) and Line of Actual Control (LAC).
- According to the doctrine, India’s threats primarily emanates from the disputed land borders and thus addressing the consequences of instability and volatility emanating in India’s extended and immediate neighbourhood remains a priority.
- It has said that the transnational threats posed by State and Non-State sponsored terrorist organisations pose a danger to regions beyond India’s primary theatres.
- In the case of a war, the document calls for joint working of the land, air and naval commanders to jointly formulate and implement war plans to ensure a well-oiled fighting machinery. For the sake of fighting together, they have to train together.
- The doctrine calls for the integration of the layered hierarchies of the national security structures to reap the most out of the available expertise.
- The doctrine has added surgical strikes, even those across the border, among the nation’s possible responses to terrorist attacks.
- The doctrine pushes for having an ‘Integrated Theatre Battle’ as the guiding philosophy for evolution of war fighting strategies. This is to ensure decisive victory across the entire spectrum of conflict in varied geographical domains.
- The doctrine has called for coordination of agencies like RAW, Intelligence Bureau and Intelligence organisations of the para-military forces as part of the Joint Intelligence Committee under the National Security Adviser.
Science & Technology
IPR Awareness Campaign for Schools
The Cell for IPR Promotion and Management (CIPAM)in collaboration with the International Trademark Association (INTA) has kicked off the IPR Awareness campaign for schools across the country.
- The National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Policy, which was approved by the Union Cabinet in May 2016, is a significant move forward to encourage creativity and stimulate innovation in the country.
- Outreach and Promotion is the first and foremost objective of the National IPR Policy and is critical to shaping an IP environment that is conducive to fostering creativity & innovation in the country.
Highlights of the new IPR policy:
- The new policy seeks to encourage innovation and improve access to healthcare, food security and environmental protection.
- The Policy will allow compulsory licensing with restrictions in case of a public health emergency such as epidemics and it is compliant with the World Trade Organization’s guidelines.
- The policy seeks to put in place a legal framework that will encourage the IPR regime and reduce the time taken by the government to approve a trademark to a month by 2017. Currently, the process takes more than a year.
- The policy makes the department of industrial policy and promotion (DIPP) the nodal agency for regulating IP rights in the country.
- The Policy states that India shall remain committed to the (World Trade Organisation’s) Doha Declaration on Trade Related IPR Agreement (TRIPS) and Public Health.
- It also says that India will continue to utilise the legislative space and flexibilities available in international treaties and the TRIPS Agreement. These flexibilities include the sovereign right of countries to use provisions such as Section 3(d) and CLs for ensuring the availability of essential and life-saving drugs at affordable prices.
- To ensure strong and effective IPR laws, the Policy states India will engage constructively in the negotiation of international treaties and agreements in consultation with stakeholders.
- Cell for IPR Promotion and Management (CIPAM) has been created as a professional body under the aegis of DIPP to take forward the implementation of the National IPR Policy that was approved by the Government in May 2016, with the slogan – “Creative India; Innovative India”.
- CIPAM is working towards creating public awareness about IPRs in the country, promoting the filing of IPRs through facilitation, providing inventors with a platform to commercialize their IP assets and coordinating the implementation of the National IPR Policy in collaboration with Government Ministries/Departments and other stakeholders.
Key Facts for Prelims
Northeast India’s largest IT hub opens in Tripura
- Northeast India’s sixth and largest Information Technology (IT) hub was recently inaugurated in Tripura to boost employment and e-governance besides to export software technology.
- This IT hub would help to create employment opportunities for the IT educated youths and to further extend the e-governance to the door step of people.
‘Mother of all marches’ in Venezuela
- The Mother of All Marches, also known as the Mother of All Protests, was a day of protests held on 19 April 2017 in Venezuela against their president Nicolas Maduro and the chavist regime.
- The protests began after the Supreme Tribunal of Justice dissolved the National Assembly and took over its legislative powers, on 29 March, 2017, in what was called a self-coup.
Engaging Asia arbitration summit
- The summit was recently held in New Delhi.
- The Summit brings together lawyers and corporates from participating countries to discuss Asia’s potential in driving worldwide growth in commercial arbitration.
- It provides participants an opportunity to discuss the surge in arbitration in Asia, especially among economic powers such as India and China, and Southeast Asia.
- The Summit presents a platform for the international arbitration community to engage with policy makers and share experiences in best practices.
- It also provides ample opportunity to network on the sidelines with leading arbitration lawyers and corporate counsels.
Golden Globe Tigers award
- Gujarat Narmada Valley Fertilisers and Chemicals Ltd (GNFC) has won the prestigious Golden Globe Tigers Award for Excellence and Leadership in CSR for the year 2017 in the category of ‘E-Payment Leadership’.
- GNFC has been awarded for the implementation of digital transactions in its township at Bharuch (Gujarat).
- Award was given to GNFC at Golden Globe Tigers Night 2017 held at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
- This is the second award for GNFC in this category. It has already won the Golden Peacock Award for its cashless innovation.
- Golden Globe Tigers Award for Excellence and Leadership recognises leaders in marketing, branding CSR and social innovation, education and academic across leadership levels in an individual and organisation.
- It is considered as one of the highest award individuals and organizations can aspire to achieve.