Polity & Governance
- Coterminous LS, State polls not feasible: Quraishi
- Create your own blood bank account
- NITI Aayog finalises Model Act for farm land lease
- SBI wants banks to hold government’s cash balance
Environment & Ecology
- More heatwaves likely this summer
Science & Technology
- Government Launches Intellectual Property Information Portal
Polity & Governance
Coterminous LS, State polls not feasible: Quraishi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s advocacy of making Lok Sabha and State Assembly polls coterminous has set off a debate on whether, in fact, this move is at all feasible or practically implementable.
- It is necessary due the administrative issuesarising out of frequent and successive elections in various states. Also, the way the electoral calendar of the country is set up, there are polls every year in some part of the country or the other.
- With the Model Code of Conduct coming into force in one State or the other and even for the Centre in some cases, this leads to administrative lethargy, and issues.
Why not feasible?
- Constitutionally it will be impossible to implement this mandate.
- According to this mandate, if, for example, the central government falls, all state assemblies have to be dissolved too. This would, however, disturb the mandate of those governments.
Views of expert committee:
- A parliamentary standing committee of Law and Justice that had been asked to go into the issue in detail had recommended a two-phase election schedule to make the Lok Sabha and Assembly polls coterminous.
- In its recommendations, the committee suggests a two-phase poll, with States divided into two groups, one for which elections would be in the middle of the current Lok Sabha (16 States) and another where elections will be held at the end of the current Lok Sabha (19 States).
- By this process, at least half the States in India will have polls alongside Lok Sabha polls, and the rest in the middle of that term.
- Solutions should be found to the specific worries with regard to electoral calendar of the country and its effect on administration and the financial health of political parties. All of these issues can be tackled through electoral reforms, without getting into Constitutional matters.
Create your own blood bank account
Indian Red Cross Society has launched a unique mobile app using which one can create their own personal blood bank account.
- The app is based on the ‘banking’ concept. It is part of a larger digital blood banking initiative that the Indian Red Cross Society has rolled out along with J. Walter Thompson India.
- To be initially launched in Bengaluru, it will be extended across the country in phases.
- The app has been designed to encourage blood donations and ensure availability.
- The app would enable people to deposit their blood on a regular basis.
- Users can open a Blood Bank Account at any Red Cross-affiliated Blood Bank.
- It will also allow blood bank account holders to keep track of the blood deposit cycle on the digital platform.
Ideas behind the move:
- In order to maintain stock, blood banks depend heavily on replacement donors. Even if a person finds the right group in a bank, the blood is usually made available only with the replacement.
- The app is meant to avoid all these hassles.
NITI Aayog finalises Model Act for farm land lease
An expert panel appointed by NITI Aayog has submitted its recommendations to create a model law to formalise leasing of agricultural land.
- To review the existing agricultural tenancy laws of various states and prepare a model agricultural land leasing act, the NITI Aayog, in September 2015, had set up an Expert Committee on Land Leasing headed by T Haque.
- Prior to submitting its report to the NITI Aayog, the committee held several rounds of discussion with states, farmer organisations and civil society groups.
- Due to lack of any legal framework for leasing, the informal tenants of agricultural land have, in many parts of the country, been deprived access to institutional credit, disaster relief, and other support services.
- The situation, where beneficiaries of agricultural support services have been the land-owners and not the actual tillers, has fuelled problems of farmer suicides, default on agricultural loans among others.
- Also, agricultural land leasing has hitherto been informal due to legal restrictions imposed by some states, and these restrictions have affected agricultural productivity growth.
Key features of the proposed model law:
- One of the key objectives of the model law is to facilitate insurance, disaster relief, and bank credit to the tenant without mortgaging of the leased land. Since the draft model law moots clear ownership of land with the lessor, it disallows using the asset for mortgage purposes.
- Land ownership will remain secure and will revert to the owner and in case the parcel of land is sold before the tenure of the lease is complete, the rights of the tenants will be secure. No changes will be made in the land records.
- The Act is meant for States that plan to legalise farm land leasing. State governments are expected to improvise it to suit the local socio-political requirements.
- The Model Act also proposes that farmers and farmer groups be allowed to lease out land. The definition of ‘farm land’ is proposed to be broadened to include food processing.
- The Model Act proposes quicker litigation process in case of disputes, by suggesting recourse through criminal proceedings and special tribunal. It is expected that the dispute settlement will be taken up at the level of the Gram Sabha, Panchayat and Tehsildar.
- Attestation of the lease is proposed to be done at the level of the sarpanch, local bank official or notary.
- At present, only land owners can avail of crop insurance schemes or loans. Also, disaster relief in case of drought and crop damage is provided only to the owners and not cultivators. The Model Act will enableshare croppers to receive such benefits and relief. Lessee cultivators could raise crop loans on the basis of expected produce.
- The proposed model law, however, does not restrict the owner of the land from selling the asset even during the lease period, as long as the cultivation rights of the tenant are not affected.
SBI wants banks to hold government’s cash balance
In view of the liquidity crunch that banks have been facing for the last few months, the State Bank of India (SBI) – the country’s largest lender – has demanded that the government’s cash balances to be kept with the lenders (Banks) and not with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
Reasons put forth by SBI:
- Currently, the issue of high volatility in currency holdings of public (both in the form of cash and jewellery) as well as Government’s cash balances with RBI is leading to volatility in system liquidity.
- If cash balances are placed with public sector banks, instead of with RBI, the cash remains within the banking system and does not create unnecessary volatility in money markets.
- Besides, such an action will provide a clear picture of the money available within the system which will not get distorted by government borrowing.
- Also, if government keeps its cash with banks, it can even earn interestwhich the banks will offer. RBI offers no interest to the government for keeping its cash.
Environment & Ecology
More heatwaves likely this summer
Meteorologists have said that an average rise of 1 degree Celsius in summer temperatures over most of India would mean more days of extreme heat as well as a higher likelihood of heat waves compared to last year.
- According to the Met Department, North and Central India areas are going to face extreme heat wave conditions between April and June.
- The Met Department has stated that the summer months of 2016 would be warmer than normal across all meteorological sub-divisions of the country and above-normal, heat wave (HW) conditions are very likely over central and northwest India during the period.
- This is the first time that the Met Department has issued an alert of an extended heat wave condition that is likely to last more than three months at a stretch.
IMD’s definition of heatwaves:
- The Indian Meteorology Department (IMD) defines a heatwave as an excess of five to six degrees C over the maximum daily temperature (over a 30-year period) of less than 40 degree C or an excess of four to five degree C over a normal historical maximum temperature of over 40 degree C.
- The IMD declares a heat wave when the actual maximum temperature is above 45 degree C.
Implications of heatwaves:
- More heatwaves could mean a greater public health concern. Last year, heat waves killed over 1,500 in Andhra Pradesh alone.
Reasons of increased frequency and duration of heat waves:
- The IMD concurs that the frequency and duration of heat waves over the country are increasing and attributes it to increasing greenhouse gases due to anthropogenic activity and the El Nino — characterised by the warming of sea surface temperatures over the Pacific Ocean and correlated with droughts in India — that is also linked to more heat waves.
Science & Technology
Government Launches Intellectual Property Information Portal
The government has launched a portal which will act as a single window interface for information on intellectual property and provide guidance on leveraging it for competitive advantage.
About the Indian IP Panorama:
- The Indian IP Panorama is a customised version of IP Panorama Multimedia toolkit, developed by World Intellectual Property Organisation, Korean Intellectual Property Office and Korea Invention Promotion Association.
- The Indian IP Panorama has been developed under the aegis of Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY) and DIPP, Government of India by Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), in close coordination with the Indian IP office.
- The portal seeks to increase awareness and build sensitivity towards IP, among stakeholders in the SME sector, academia and researchers.
- The toolkit has been adapted to cater to SMEs and startups, especially in the ICTE sector of India, based on an agreement signed between WIPO and DeitY.
- The Indian IP Panorama is in accordance with Indian IP laws, standards, challenges and needs of the Indian ICTE sector.
- The five modules of the Indian IP Panorama include:
- “Importance of IP for SMEs”,
- “Industrial design”,
- “Invention and Patent” and
- “Patent Information”
- India is a member of WIPO and party to several treaties administered by WIPO. Recognizing that the strategic use of intellectual property could contribute significantly to the national development objectives of India, DIPP entered into an MoU with WIPO on 13thNovember 2009.
- India acceded to Madrid Protocol for the International Registration of Marks at WIPO on July 8, 2013. The Madrid System for the International Registration of Marks (Madrid system) offers trademark owners a cost effective, user friendly and streamlined means of protecting and managing their trademark portfolio internationally.
Created in 1967 “to encourage creative activity, to promote the protection of intellectual property throughout the world, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is one of the 17 specialized agencies of the United Nations.
- It has currently 188 member states, administers 26 international treaties, and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
- Non-members are the states of Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Solomon Islands, South Sudan and Timor-Leste. Palestine has observer status.
- India is a member of WIPO and party to several treaties administered by WIPO.
[Ref: PIB; Wiki]