Polity & Governance
- Lok Sabha passes law to protect unauthorised colonies, slums in Delhi
- SFIO developing early warning system on frauds
- FM chairs pre-Budget FSDC meeting with financial sector regulators
Government Schemes & Policies
- New anti-trafficking law soon
Issues related to Health & Education
- WHO to recognize gaming disorder as mental health condition in 2018
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- Bali declares ‘garbage emergency’ amid sea of waste
- Environment Ministry launches a Regional Project to Tackle Stubble Burning
- Protection of Majuli Island
Key Facts for Prelims
- UP Pro-Poor Tourism Development Project
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Polity & Governance
Lok Sabha passes law to protect unauthorised colonies, slums in Delhi
The Lok Sabha passed a National Capital Territory of Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) Second Amendment Bill, 2017 seeking to extend the immunity of slums and illegal structures in Delhi from penal action until December 31, 2020.
- The Bill seeks to amend the National Capital Territory of Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) Second Act, 2011.
Highlights of 2011 Act:
National Capital Territory of Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) Second Act, 2011 provides for achieving following provisions by December 31, 2017.
- Relocating slum dwellers and Jhuggi-Jhompri clusters in accordance with provisions of the Delhi Shelter Improvement Board Act, 2010 and Master Plan for Delhi, 2021.
- It calls for regulating street vendors in accordance withpolicy for street vendors outlined in Master Plan.
- It regularises unauthorised colonies, village abadi areas and their extensions). It creates policy for farm houses constructed beyond permissible limits, and
- It creates policy or plan for all other areas of National Capital Territory of Delhi in keeping with Master Plan.
Highlights of the Amendment Bill 2017:
- The bill extends deadline wrt to no action will be taken by any local authority for various violations mentioned in parent act to December 31, 2020 from earlier December 31, 2017.
- It deletes provisions and references related to regulation and protection of street vendors. It is mainly due to overlapping provision in Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014 enacted in February 2014.
SFIO developing early warning system on frauds
To detect financial frauds, the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) is in the process of developing an early warning system (EWS), and a consulting agency has been engaged to prepare the conceptual framework.
- In this regard, services of a consulting agency have been engaged to develop the conceptual framework.
- SFIO was also in news as a Parliamentary Standing Committee suggested that SFIO should fill its vacancies with adequate permanent cadre and strengthen both its investigative and prosecution arms by developing a foolproof fraud detection mechanism.
What is Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO)?
The Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) is a fraud investigating agency.
- It is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India.
- The SFIO is involved in major fraud probes and is the co-ordinating agency with the Income Tax and CBI.
- The Government approved setting up of this organization on 9 January 2003 on the basis of the recommendations made by the Naresh Chandra Committee which was set up by the Government on 21 August 2002 on corporate governance.
- It is a multi-disciplinary organization having experts from financial sector, capital market, accountancy, forensic audit, taxation, law, information technology, company law, customs and investigation.
- These experts have been taken from various organizations like banks, Securities and Exchange Board of India, Comptroller and Auditor General and concerned organizations and departments of the Government.
FM chairs pre-Budget FSDC meeting with financial sector regulators
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley chaired a pre-Budget consultation meeting of Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC) with financial sector regulators.
What happened during the meeting?
- During the meeting, the regulators gave proposals for the Union Budget to be presented on February 1.
- During the meeting, the regulators presented their proposals for the Union Budget 2018-19 concerning development of their respective sectors.
- Fiscal position, external sector environment, financial sector reforms, rising non-performing assets and regulatory issues were also discussed.
- Apart from offering proposals for the Union Budget 2018 -19, the FSDC would also review the measures taken by the government and the RBI for dealing with the stressed assets and initiation of insolvency action against defaulting promoters.
About Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC):
In December 2010, the Central Government had established Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC) with the Finance Minister as it Chairman.
- The idea to create it was first mooted by the Raghuram Rajan Committee on Financial Sector Reforms in 2008.
- It is a super regulatory body for regulating financial sector which is a vital for bringing healthy and efficient financial system in the economy.
- The FSDC envisages to strengthen and institutionalise mechanism of
- Maintaining financial stability,
- Financial sector development,
- Inter-regulatory coordination along with monitoring macro-prudential regulation of economy.
- It acts as an apex level forum to strengthen and institutionalize the mechanism for maintaining financial stability.
- It also enhances inter-regulatory coordination and promoting financial sector development in the country.
- It focuses on financial literacy and financial inclusion.
- It monitors macro-prudential supervision of the economy.
- It assesses the functioning of the large financial conglomerates.
- Union Finance Minister (Chairman).
- Heads of the financial sector regulatory authorities (i.e. RBI, SEBI, IRDA, PFRDA),
- Finance Secretary and/or Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs (Union Finance Ministry),
- Secretary, Department of Financial Services, and
- Chief Economic Adviser.
- Ministry of Corporate Affairs secretary and chairman IBBI have been added as members of Council via a government notification in September 2017.
FSDC can invite experts to its meeting if required.[Ref: The Hindu, Indian Express]
Government Schemes & Policies
New anti-trafficking law soon
The Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill 2017 is currently with a Group of Ministers (GoM) that will take a final view on the matter.
- The bill was initiated by the Women & Child Development Ministry.
- The bill has proposed severe punishment for those engaging in the heinous crime.
Highlights of the Bill:
Forms of trafficking:
- The Bill identifies various forms of trafficking, including for the purposes of bonded labour, sexual exploitation, pornography, removal of organs and begging.
- Listing out the ‘aggravated forms of trafficking’, the bill also speaks of offences such as intimidation, inducement, promise of payment of money, deception or coercion.
- Also, it mentions trafficking after administering any drug or alcohol or for the purpose of marriage or under the pretext of marriage.
Anti- trafficking bureau:
- The bill proposes the establishment of a national anti-trafficking bureau, which shall be entrusted with the gamut of issues aimed at controlling and tackling the menace under various forms.
Functions of the Anti- trafficking bureau:
- Functions include coordination, monitoring and surveillance of illegal movement of persons and prevention.
- The bureau will also be entrusted with increasing cooperation with authorities in foreign countries for boosting operational and long-term intelligence for investigation of trafficking cases, and driving in mutual legal assistance.
State-level anti-trafficking officers:
- Apart from the national bureau, the bill also aims at having state-level anti-trafficking officers who shall also provide relief and rehabilitation services through district units and other civil-society organisations.
- Whoever commits the offence of aggravated form of trafficking of a person shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than 10 years, but which may extend to life imprisonment and shall be liable to fine that shall not be less than Rs 1 lakh.
- For repeat offenders, it suggests imprisonment for life “which shall mean imprisonment for the remainder of that person’s natural life”, apart from a fine that will not be less than Rs 2 lakh.
Relief and rehabilitation:
- The bill also spells out measures towards relief and rehabilitation for the victims of trafficking, and seeks the formation of a committee for this purpose.
- The committee is proposed to be headed by the women & child development secretary and would have members from the ministries of home; external affairs; labour and employment; social justice and empowerment; panchayati raj; and heath and family welfare.
Trafficking in India:
- As per data released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), human trafficking numbers rose by almost 20% in 2016 against the previous year.
- NCRB said there were 8,132 human trafficking cases last year against 6,877 in 2015, with the highest number of cases reported in West Bengal (44% of cases), followed by Rajasthan (17%). Of the 15,379 victims who were caught in trafficking, 10,150 were female and 5,229 males.
- The purpose of trafficking included forced labour; sexual exploitation for prostitution; other forms of sexual exploitation; domestic servitude; forced marriage; child pornography; begging; drug peddling; and removal of organs.
- It is believed that the numbers recorded by NCRB are a far cry to actual incidences of trafficking as many cases went unreported with many people still unaware of the crime or lacking confidence to seek police help.
Issues related to Health & Education
WHO to recognize gaming disorder as mental health condition in 2018
In the draft of its forthcoming 11th International Classification of Diseases, the World Health Organization (WHO) includes “gaming disorder” in its list of mental health conditions.
Definition of “gaming disorder”:
Gaming disorder is characterized by a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour (‘digital gaming’ or ‘video-gaming’), which may be online (i.e., over the internet) or offline, manifested by:
- impaired control over gaming (e.g., onset, frequency, intensity, duration, termination, context);
- increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities; and
- continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.
The behaviour pattern is of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning. The pattern of gaming behaviour may be continuous or episodic and recurrent.
Need for classifying gaming disorder as a mental health condition:
- Nearly 7% of population studied for gaming and internet addiction have exhibited depressive symptoms, somatisation and anxiety, including behavioural changes and sleep disturbances.
- The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of Mental Disorders-V, a diagnostic bible for mental health professionals published by American Psychiatric Association already has classified gaming disorder as a mental health condition.
What is International Classification of Diseases (ICD)?
ICD is the basis for identification of health trends and statistics globally and the international standard for reporting diseases and health conditions.
- It is maintained by WHO.
- The WHO’s ICD lists both mental and physical disorders.
- It is revised periodically and is currently in its tenth revision.
Usages of ICD:
- It is used by medical practitioners around the world to diagnose conditions and by researchers to categorize conditions.
- This comprehensive list is intended to make it easier for scientists to share and compare health information between hospitals, regions and countries.
- It also enables health care workers to compare data in the same location over different time periods. Additionally, public health experts use the ICD to track the number of deaths and diseases.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
Bali declares ‘garbage emergency’ amid sea of waste
The Indonesian island of Bali recently declared a “garbage emergency” in response to the overwhelming amount of plastic waste that has floated ashore and spoiled pristine beaches.
- A 3.6-mile stretch of beach on the island’s western coast was declared an emergency zone after authorities realised that the volume of plastic being washed up was endangering the tourist trade.
- Indonesia is the world’s second largest contributor to marine debris, outdone only by China, the most populous country in the world.
- In addition to degrading the beaches, plastic waste blocks waterways, impacting transportation and increasing flooding risk, while posing a risk to marine animals.
- Indonesia is one of nearly 40 countries that are part of UN Environment’s Clean Seas campaign, which aims to halt the tide of plastic trash polluting the oceans.
What is #CleanSeas campaign?
UN Environment launched #CleanSeas in February 2017, with the aim of engaging governments, the general public, civil society and the private sector in the fight against marine plastic litter.
- The campaign aims to counter the torrents of plastic trash that are degrading our oceans and endangering the life they sustain.
- Nearly 40 countries from Kenya to Canada and Indonesia to Brazil have joined the #CleanSeas campaign. These countries account for more than half of the world’s coastline.
- The campaign contributes to the goals of the Global Partnership on Marine Litter, a voluntary open-ended partnership for international agencies, governments, businesses, academia, local authorities and non-governmental organizations hosted by UN Environment.
- It is related to Sustainable Development Goal 14 – “By 2025, prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution.”
In recent past, four more countries — Chile, Oman, Sri Lanka and South Africa joined this campaign.[Ref: The Hindu, Times of India, cleanseas.org, UN]
Environment Ministry launches a Regional Project to Tackle Stubble Burning
In another significant step to combat climate change, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has approved a regional project on ‘Climate Resilience Building among Farmers through Crop Residue Management’ under the National Adaptation Fund for Climate Change (NAFCC).
- The first phase of the project has been approved at a cost of approximately Rs. 100 Crore for the States of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.
- The project will leverage approximately three times the approved amount with contribution from the States as well as farmers.
- The project not only aims to mitigate climate change impacts and enhance adaptive capacity, but will also counter the adverse environmental impacts that arise from burning.
- The project will be implemented following a phased approach. Initially, awareness generation and capacity building activities will be undertaken to encourage farmers to adopt alternate practices which would also help diversify livelihood options and enhance farmer’s income.
- A slew of technological interventions will be undertaken for timely management of crop residue in addition to effective utilisation of existing machineries.
- Implementable and sustainable entrepreneurship models will be created in rural areas through upscaling successful initiatives and innovative ideas.
Problem of crop residue burning in India:
- The problem of crop residue burning has been intensifying over the years, with Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh being the major burning hotspots.
- Increased mechanization, declining number of livestock, long period required for composting and no economically viable alternate use of residues are some of the reasons for residues being burnt in field.
- This not only has implications for global warming, but also has an adverse impact on air quality, soil health and human health.
About the NAFCC:
Launched in 2015, the National Adaptation Fund for Climate Change (NAFCC) is a flagship Scheme of Union Government, which provides 100 per cent grant to the State Governments for implementing climate change adaptation projects.
- The Scheme is designed to fulfil the objectives of National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) and to operationalize the State Action Plans on Climate Change (SAPCCs).
- The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) is National Implementing Entity (NIE) responsible for implementation of adaptation projects under NAFCC.
- The objective of NAFCC is to assist states/UTs that are particularly vulnerable to adverse effects of climate change in meeting the cost of adaptation.
- The projects address vulnerabilities in climate sensitive sectors like agriculture, animal husbandry, water, forests and coasts among others.
- The project outcomes are expected to increase resilience and adaptive capacity of vulnerable communities and ecosystems against climate change impacts.
- Under this scheme, Union Government is encouraging States to come up with innovative and scalable projects to develop resilience against climate change and mainstream it in the planning processes.
- NABARD has been accredited as National Implementing Entity (NIE) for Adaptation Fund under Kyoto Protocol in July 2012 and is the only NIE for India.
Protection of Majuli Island
A new scheme for protection of Majuli Island in Assam from flood and erosion of river Brahmaputra has been launched.
About the scheme:
- The scheme was sanctioned by Government of India in March, 2017.
- The scheme has been framed by Brahmaputra Board based on the recommendations of the high level Expert Committee of the Government of India that visits the island at least twice a year to monitor and recommend anti-erosion measures.
- The funding for the project would be from Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER).
The major components of the scheme include
- Bank revetment with geo bags filled with earth / sand for a reach length of 27 km in 14 locations
- RCC porcupine works in 41 locations
- Construction of a sluice and
- Construction of a Pilot channel for a length of 3.50 km.
Need for protection of Majuli Island:
- The area of Majuli island was 734 sq km in 1914 whereas, the minimum area was recorded to be 502 sq km in 2004. As per Survey of India topo-sheets and satellite imagery data, area lost by the Island is 206.7 sqkm from the year 1949 upto the year 2004.
- Geomorphologically, the entire Majuli island is a part of the alluvial flood plains of the Brahmaputra river. The Island is formed of soil consisting mainly of silt deposits. The soil is without cohesion and thus, susceptible to erosion. The problem of erosion has been severe after the disastrous earthquake of 1950.
- Although some measures were taken in the form of embankment and anti-erosion work by Government of Assam, the problem of erosion and flood remained mostly uncontained. The embankments built during the 60s were in poor condition.
The biggest river island in the world, Majuli is located on the river Brahmaputra in Assam and is formed by Brahmaputra in the south and the Kherkutia Xuti joined by the river Subansiri in the north.
- The river island covering an area of around 880 sqkm.
- Majuli, inhabited mostly by Mishing tribal people, has been the hub of Assamese neo-Vaishnavite culture that 15th century saint-reformer Srimanta Sankardeva had initiated.
- The island had some 65 satras or monasteries adhering to Vaishnavism, but a large number relocated to the mainland after being washed away.
- The main surviving satras include Dakhinpat, Garamurh, Auniati, Kamalabari and Bengenaati.
- In June 2016, Assam Government had officially declared the island as the district making it India’s first island district.
- The island has been nominated for the World Heritage Site status. It has been included in the tentative list by UNESCO.
- The Guinness World Records has officially designed Majuli Island on the Brahmaputra in Assam as the largest river island in the world. It has toppled previous record held by Brazil’s Marajo island in the Amazon river.
- It is noteworthy that Brahmaputra is one of the most difficult rivers to tackle as it is very dynamic with morphology changing continuously. Measures adopted elsewhere may not be applicable in this river which is 3rd largest in the world and carries highest silt amongst the rivers of its size.
Key Facts for Prelims
UP Pro-Poor Tourism Development Project
- The project is aimed to increase tourism-related benefits for local communities in targeted destinations in Uttar Pradesh.
- The project covers the main tourist and pilgrimage attractions viz. Agra, Mathura, Vrindavan, Barsana and Govardhan in Braj region.
- It is expected to have far-reaching social, economic and environmental benefits by targeting local communities and entrepreneurs near some of main tourist and pilgrimage attractions in Uttar Pradesh.
- It was in news as the Union government has inked Loan agreement with World Bank for $40 Million IBRD Credit for this project.