Polity & Governance
- Transfer unclaimed accruals to fund: IRDA
- Mekedatu: Karnataka replies to CWC
- Amendments to Legal Metrology
- GoM approves draft National Medical Commission bill
Government Schemes & Policies
- Evaluation of efficacy of Nai Roshni Scheme
Bilateral & International Relations
- Sri Lanka clears revised deal for Hambantota port
- India rejects OIC move on vigilantism
Defence & Security Issues
- First Two patrol vessels for Navy launched by private shipyard
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Polity & Governance
Transfer unclaimed accruals to fund: IRDA
As per the new direction from Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDA), insurance companies can no longer retain unclaimed amounts of policyholders if those accruals are more than 10 years old.
- Such sums need to be, instead, transferred to the Senior Citizens’ Welfare Fund (SCWF) of the Centre.
The direction from the IRDA has come in the backdrop of the amendment made in April to the Senior Citizens’ Welfare Fund Rules.
- The amendment expanded the purview beyond the unclaimed amounts in small savings and other saving schemes of the Centre, PPF and EPF.
- It brought in unclaimed amount lying with banks, including cooperative banks and RRBs; dividend accounts, deposits and debentures of companies coming under the Companies Act; insurance companies and Coal Mines PF.
About the Senior Citizens Welfare Fund:
The Centre brought in Senior Citizens’ Welfare Fund Act, 2015 (SCWF) as part of the Finance Act, 2015.
- The act mandates transfer of unclaimed amounts of policyholders to the fund (SCWF) after a period of 10 years.
- The fund will be administered by an Inter-Ministerial Committee, headed by a Chairperson.
- The Committee will be competent to spend money from the fund for satisfying various objectives.
- The accounts of the fund will be open to audit by CAG, regularly.
- The Central Government will present the annual report and the one furnished by CAG to be laid before the Parliament.
Mekedatu: Karnataka replies to CWC
The Karnataka State government has replied to clarifications sought by the Central Water Commission (CWC) on its proposal to build a balancing reservoir across the Cauvery at Mekedatu at a cost of Rs. 5,912 crore.
About the project:
Karnataka intends to build a reservoir across river Cauvery near Mekedatu in Kanakapura taluk.
- It was first proposed along with Shivanasamudra hydro power project at Shimsa in 2003 with an intention to use the water for a hydro power station and supply drinking water to Bengaluru city.
- The drinking water and hydroelectric project will have a balancing reservoir to store 66.50 tmcft of Cauvery water.
- The project is estimated to cost 5,912 crore and about 4,900 hectares of forest land will submerge if the project is implemented.
Controversy over the project:
- The contentious project has been opposed by Tamil Nadu on the grounds that it violates the Cauvery tribunal order. However, Karnataka has said that it aims to utilise excess water after releasing 192 tmcft to Tamil Nadu.
About Central Water Commission:
Central Water Commission is a premier Technical Organization of India in the field of Water Resources.
- It is presently functioning as an attached office of the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Government of India.
- The Commission is entrusted with the general responsibilities of initiating, coordinating and furthering in consultation of the State Governments concerned, schemes for control, conservation and utilization of water resources throughout the country, for purpose of Flood Control, Irrigation, Navigation, Drinking Water Supply and Water Power Development.
- It also undertakes the investigations, construction and execution of any such schemes as required.
Amendments to Legal Metrology
The Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011 have recently been amended.
- The said amendment will come into force from 1stJanuary, 2018 to enhance consumer protection and for requirement of ease of doing business.
The salient features of the said amendment are:
- Goods displayed by the seller on-ecommerce platform shall contain declarations required under the rules.
- Specific mention is made in the rules that no person shall declare different MRPs (dual MRP) on an identical pre-packaged commodity.
- Size of letters and numerals for making declaration is increased, so that consumer can easily read the same.
- The net quantity checking is made more scientific.
- Bar Code/QR Coding are allowed on voluntarily basis.
- Provisions regarding declarations on Food Products have been harmonized with regulation under the Food Safety & Standards Act.
- Medical devices which are declared as drugs are brought into the purview of declarations to be made under the rules.
What is Legal Metrology?
- “Legal Metrology” is a new name of weights & Measures.
- Legal Metrology treats units of weighment and measurement, methods of weighment and measurement and weighing and measuring instruments, in relation to the mandatory technical and legal requirements which have the object of ensuring public guarantee from the point of view of security and accuracy of the weighments and measurements.
About the Legal Metrology Department:
GoM approves draft National Medical Commission bill
A draft of the National Medical Commission Bill, with some modifications, has been approved by a Group of Ministers (GoM).
- The GoM was constituted to have a “relook” at the National Medical Commission Bill which was drafted by a four-member committee, headed by vice chairman of NITI Aayog, to examine all options for reforms in the Medical Council of India (MCI) and suggest a way forward.
- The committee has framed a draft NMC Bill which provides for constitution of the NMC in place of the MCI.
About the National Medical Commission Bill, 2016:
The NITI Ayog has introduced the National Medical Commission Bill, 2016 which would be extending to the whole country in order to create world class educational system.
- The bill seeks to repeal Indian Medical Council Act 1956 and be replaced by a body called National Medical Commission.
The Bill seeks to:
- Ensure adequate supply of high quality medical professionals at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.
- Encourage medical professionals to incorporate the latest medical research in their work and to contribute to such research.
- Provide for objective periodic assessments of medical institutions.
- Facilitate the maintenance of a medical register for India and enforce high ethical standards in all aspects of medical services.
- Ensure that the medical institutes are flexible enough to adapt to the changing needs of a transforming nation.
Medical Advisory Council:
The bill seeks to constitute a Medical Advisory Council which will undertake the following functions:
- The Council shall serve as the primary platform through which the states would put forward their views and concerns before the National Medical Commission (NMC) and shall help shape the overall agenda in the field of medical education & training.
- The Council shall advise the National Medical Commission (NMC) on the measures to determine, maintain and coordinate the minimum standards in the discipline of medical education, training and research.
- The Council shall advise the National Medical Commission (NMC) on measures to enhance equitable access to medical education.
Government Schemes & Policies
Evaluation of efficacy of Nai Roshni Scheme
NITI Aayog had conducted an evaluation study on ‘Nai Roshni’- the scheme for Leadership Development of Minority Women in 2015-16.
Objective of the study:
- The main objective of the study was to assess the impact of the scheme on minority women and to identify policy/ programme impediments in implementation of the scheme.
About Nai Roshni scheme:
The Ministry of Minority Affairs has started implementation of a scheme “Nai Roshni” for Leadership Development of Minority Women from 2012-13.
- The scheme aims to empower and instil confidence among minority women by providing knowledge, tools and techniques for interacting with Government systems, Banks and other institutions at all levels.
- The scheme endeavours to provide leadership development of minority women, especially for development of women belonging to notified minority communities like Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Parsis and Jains.
- The scheme is implemented through Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs).
- As per the existing guidelines, the scheme is implemented with the involvement of the Gram Panchayat at village level and Local Urban bodies at the District level.
Performance of the scheme:
- According to NITI Aayog, majority of the findings of the study indicate that the programme has been appreciated by most of the segments of the population of the society and it has assisted in creating confidence among minority women and developing leadership spirit in them.
- Moreover, the trained women are also utilizing their enriched knowledge within their surroundings and thereby helping their families as well as neighbours in raising their essential demands and claims from various Government authorities.
Bilateral & International Relations
Sri Lanka clears revised deal for Hambantota port
Sri Lanka’s Cabinet has cleared a revised deal for the Chinese-built port in Hambantota.
About the revised deal:
- The modified agreement is believed to be more profitable to Sri Lanka and also addresses security concerns raised by other countries.
- As per the deal, while the Chinese would manage port operations, no naval ship, including Chinese ones, can call at Hambantota without Sri Lanka’s permission.
- The Hambantota port is part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. India’s apprehensions about the apparently growing Chinese presence in the island are well known, given the two countries’ competing strategic interests in the island.
- Chinese control of Hambantota, which is part of its modern-day “Silk Route” across Asia and beyond, as well as a plan to acquire 15,000 acres (23 sq miles) to develop an industrial zone next door, had raised fears that it could also be used for Chinese naval vessels.
India rejects OIC move on vigilantism
India has strongly rejected the resolutions of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) that had expressed concern about the recent attacks on people by cow-vigilante groups.
- India has termed the resolutions adopted at the OIC’s latest foreign ministers’ meeting as “factually incorrect”.
- The OIC noted that incidents of violence against the Muslim community were being committed by extremist Hindu groups and said it viewed such incidents “with grave concern”.
About the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation:
The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) (formerly Organization of the Islamic Conference) has membership of 57 states spread over four continents.
- Established in 1969.
- Its headquarters are at Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. OIC has permanent delegations to United Nations and the European Union.
- Its objectives are to raise collective voice of the Muslim world and to ensure the safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony among various people of the world.
India and OIC:
- In this organisation, India is a blocked country, though it has about 12% of the world’s Muslim population.
- India has been blocked by Pakistan from joining the OIC over Kashmir issue. OIC regard parts of Kashmir as “occupied by India”.
Defence & Security Issues
First Two patrol vessels for Navy launched by private shipyard
Reliance Defence and Engineering Limited (RDEL) launched the first two Naval Offshore Patrol Vessels (NOPVs) — Shachi and Shruti at their shipyard in Pipavav, Gujarat.
- These two NOPVs are the first warships to be launched by a private sector shipyard in India.
- These ships are part of a five-ships being constructed for the Indian Navy under the P-21 project.
What are NOPVs?
The NOPVs are primarily patrol ships to undertake surveillance of the country’s vast Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
- They also undertake operational tasks such as anti-piracy patrols, maritime security of offshore assets, fleet support operations, coastal security operations, and protection of shipping lanes.
- The NOPVs would increase the ocean surveillance and patrolling capabilities of the Indian Navy.
- The NOPVs are patrol ships and are armed with 76mm Super Rapid Gun Mount (SRGM) system along with two 30mm AK-630M guns which provide medium range and short range offensive and defensive capabilities.
- The armament is remotely controlled through an electronic Fire Control System.
- The ships are fitted with diesel engine driven propulsion systems and can deliver speeds upto 25 knots.
- All ship operations are controlled by an intelligent Integrated Platform Management System which has interfaces for all operational activities onboard the ship.
- RDEL, subsidiary of Reliance Infrastructure is the first private shipyard in India to obtain defence production licence and sign a contract for defence ships in 2011.