Polity & Governance
- Centre moves on vote totaliser machines
- PM’s annual award for extraordinary and innovative work instituted
- Now, direct election of local body chiefs to be scrapped
Bilateral & International Relations
- India and the United States Sign the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA)
- India, Myanmar sign four agreements
Defence & Security Issues
- Pellet guns are here to stay; committee suggests alternatives
Key Facts for Prelims
- Bangla and Bengal
- Tenzing Norgay National Adventrue Award
- ‘Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Puruskar’
- 2015 Saraswati Samman
- ‘Pharma Sahi Daam’
- “Mera Aspataal / My Hospital” initiative
Polity & Governance
Centre moves on vote totaliser machines
In a major electoral reform aimed at protecting the secrecy of votes and shielding voters from potential harassment, the government has decided to discontinue the practice of revealing booth-wise results within constituencies.
- Under this initiative, ‘totaliser machines’ will be installed for elections that will mask the voting pattern in individual booths.
About the ‘totaliser machines’:
- The totaliser machines are analogous to the physical mixing of paper ballots from different booths in an earlier era. In that sense, they are also an extension of the principle of secret ballot.
- The ‘totaliser machines’ is expected to prevent disclosure of voting patterns across polling stations during counting, which will allay the fears of voters against any pre-poll intimidation or post-poll victimisation by any candidate.
- The idea behind the move is to protect voters in a particular locality from pre-poll intimidation and post-poll reprisal by political parties and candidates.
- The Supreme Court, while hearing a writ petition recently, had given the government eight weeks’ time to take a final decision.
- To look into the issue, a team of Union Ministers has been constituted. The team will deliberate on the Election Commission’s proposal in November 2008. The Law Commission had also recommended the use these machines.
PM’s annual award for extraordinary and innovative work instituted
The Department of Administrative Reforms has announced the institution of the Prime Minister’s Annual Award for Excellence in Public Administration.
- The award will honour “extraordinary and innovative work” done by districts and the organisations of the Central and State governments in implementing the priority programmes of the Government of India.
- The award will be given away every year for excellence in implementing the priority programmes and extraordinary and innovative work done by the organisations of the Central and State government and the districts in ‘public governance’.
- At least five priority programmes shall be chosen for the awards.
- For the awards to be presented on the Civil Services Day 2017, the five programmes identified are
- Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana,
- Deendayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana,
- Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana,
- Start-Up India/Stand-Up India and
- e-National Agriculture Market (National e-Mandi).
- The awards shall also be given to the organisations of the Central and State governments and the districts for innovations in environment conservation, disaster management, water conservation, energy, education and health, women and child-centric initiatives.
- For the 2017 awards, the period of consideration is from April 1, 2015 to December 2016.
- To ensure rationality and equity, the States and the Union Territories have been put in three groups:
- Group 1-North-East States (eight) and the Hill States (Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttrakhand);
- Group 2-Union Territories (seven); and
- Group 3-the remaining 18 States.
- For each group in an identified priority programme, there would be one award and the maximum number of awards would be 15.
- In addition to the awards for priority programmes, two awards shall be given to organisations of the Central and State governments and districts for innovation in public governance.
- The award shall consist of a trophy and a scroll and the awarded district/organisation will be given an incentive of Rs. 10 lakh to be utilised for executing the project/programme or bridging the resource gaps in any area of public welfare.
The awards for priority programmes will be based on the pre-determined parameters, and the awards for innovations will be based on
- An innovative idea/scheme/project to meet stakeholders’ requirements,
- Bringing perceptible improvements in the systems and building institutions,
- Making public delivery systems responsive, transparent and efficient, especially by leveraging technology.
- A screening committee, to be chaired by an officer of the rank of Additional Secretary, will short-list districts/organisations, examining the applications in consultation with the nodal Ministry/Department, along with officers of the rank of Joint Secretaries and experts from the NITI Aayog.
- An expert committee, chaired by the Secretary of the Department of Administrative Reforms & Public Grievances, will consider the spot-study reports and shortlist the districts/organisations for making recommendations to the empowered committee chaired by the Cabinet Secretary. The empowered committee would submit its recommendations to the Prime Minister.
Now, direct election of local body chiefs to be scrapped
A Bill has been introduced in the Tamil Nadu Assembly to empower councillors to elect the chairpersons in all local bodies in the State.
- The Bill referred the recent enactment of Tamil Nadu Municipal Corporation Laws (Amendment) Act, 2016.
What has been decide?
- As per the bill, in order to have uniform election procedures in all the urban local bodies in the State, the government has decided to elect the Chairman of the Municipalities and Town Panchayats also indirectly by the councillors or members from among themselves, as the case may be.
- It has been brought to the notice of the government that in certain circumstances, the chairmen do not get the cooperation of councillors and vice-versa and thereby, there have been impediments in the proceedings of councils and to arrive at consensus in passing resolutions to provide civic services to the public as both the chairmen and the councillors are elected directly.
- In June this year, the State government had introduced and eventually passed a Bill that scrapped the direct election of Mayors in Municipal Corporations and enabled councillors to elected one of them as Mayor for the Municipal Corporation.
Bilateral & International Relations
India and the United States Sign the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA)
India and the United States have signed the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA).
- The agreement formalises an ad-hoc arrangement already in practice and furthers India-US military-to-military cooperation.
What is LEMOA?
- LEMOA, sometimes called a Logistics Services Agreement (LSA) an agreement that US has signed with many of its allies.
- It is a facilitating agreement that establishes basic terms, conditions, and procedures for reciprocal provision of Logistic Support, Supplies, and Services between the armed forces of India and the United States.
- In reality, LSA has been signed by around 100 countries, many of which are not US allies.
- LEMOA permits the US and India to use each other’s facilities and provides for easier access to supplies and services for the military forces of the two countries when they are engaged in specific types of activities.
- These activities are limited to joint military exercises, training, port calls and humanitarian missions and other military activities that both sides mutually agree to undertake.
- It does not give the US automatic access to Indian military bases or to logistical support, but simply smoothens existing practices.
- Though the US does currently use Indian military bases and logistics — for example, during joint military exercises — this is managed on a case-by-case basis, which is simply more cumbersome. LEMOA does not necessarily give anything that the US does not already get, but it makes the process more regularised.
India, Myanmar sign four agreements
India and Myanmar have signed four agreements following bilateral talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and visiting Myanmar President Htin Kyaw.
- This is the first presidential visit from Myanmar to India after Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) came to power in March this year.
- The first agreement pertains to construction of 69 bridges on the Tamu-Kalewa section of the trilateral highway connecting India, Myanmar and Thailand.
- The second agreement is on upgrading the Kalewa-Yargi section of the trilateral highway.
- The third agreement is on cooperation in the field of renewable energy.
- The fourth agreement is on cooperation in the field of traditional medicines.
Defence & Security Issues
Pellet guns are here to stay; committee suggests alternatives
A seven-member expert committee, headed by T.V.S.N Prasad, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, which was constituted on July 26 to look into the alternatives to pellet guns has submitted a report to the Home Secretary.
What has the committee suggested?
- There will be no blanket ban on the use of pellet guns. At the most, it will be used in rarest of rare cases.
- From now on, the pellets will not be of metal but of soft material like polymer, soft plastic, rubber and even paper.
- An alternative that the committee has suggested is the use of chilli grenade shells.
- Pelargonic Acid Vanillyl Amide (PAVA) also called Nonivamide and other non-lethal ammunition like ‘stun lac cells’ and Long Range Acoustic Device (LARD) which create deafening noise to paralyse people were understood to have suggested as possible alternatives to the pellet guns.
List of alternatives found not appropriate:
- The committee explored the use of acoustics, but it was not found fit to be used in the Kashmir context.
- The committee also explored the Vehicle Mounted Active Denial System (VMADS) developed by the U.S military but declined to use it as it works on millimetre wave technology, which immobilises the body and its health implications are not known yet.
- The government is facing severe criticism for using the pellet guns for crowd control in Kashmir Valley as the weapon has caused large-scale injuries in the 51-day unrest following killing of Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani on July 8.
Key Facts for Prelims
Bangla and Bengal
The West Bengal Assembly has passed a resolution to change the name of West Bengal to Bangla in Bengali and Bengal in English.
The resolution will now be sent to the Centre seeking its approval. Once the Centre gives the nod, the state will be officially called Bangla or Bengal.
In Bengali, the state is currently referred to as “Paschim Banga” or “Paschim Bangla”.
In 2011, the state government had sent a proposal to the Centre for renaming West Bengal as “Paschim Bango”, but that never got the green signal.
The reason for changing the name of the state is that whenever there is any meeting of all states, West Bengal comes at the bottom of the list alphabetically.
8th Meeting of Heads of SAARC Statistical Organizations (SAARCSTAT) was recently held in New Delhi.
India is hosting the three-day meeting.
The theme of this Meeting is “Trade Statistics – Merchandise & Services”.
The meeting is being attended by delegates from SAARC Member States and other international organizations including FAO, PARIS 21 and ADB.
Tenzing Norgay National Adventrue Award
The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee awarded the prestigious Tenzing Norgay National Adventrue Award to Shri Harbhajan Singh, IG, Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), in recognition of his life time contribution in the field of mountaineering.
‘Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Puruskar’
Recognising its efforts for developing football at the grassroot level, the Subroto Mukerjee Sports Education Society (SMSES) has been bestowed with National Sports Award Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Puruskar, for Sports for Development by Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports.
2015 Saraswati Samman
Eminent Dogri language Poetess and novelist Padma Sachdev was awarded the prestigious 2015 Saraswati Samman for her autobiography ‘Chitt-Chete’.
Saraswati Samman is an annual literary award bestowed upon Indian citizen for his outstanding literary work written in any Indian language. These literary works should be in Indian languages that are mentioned in Schedule VIII of Constitution and published during last 10 years.
‘Pharma Sahi Daam’
The Union government has launched a mobile App- ‘Pharma Sahi Daam’.
It is developed by National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) which shows the MRP fixed by NPPA for various scheduled drugs on real time basis.
“Mera Aspataal / My Hospital” initiative
Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has launched the “Mera Aspataal / My Hospital” initiative.
It was launched at the third National Summit on Good and Replicable Practices and Innovations in Public Health Facilities at Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh
The initiative is the ICT-based Patient Satisfaction System (PSS) for implementation in public and empanelled private hospitals.
It is envisaged to empower the patient by seeking his / her views on quality of experience in a public healthcare facility.
A multi-channel approach will be used to collect patients’ feedback i.e. web portal, mobile application, Short Message Service (SMS), Interactive Voice Response System (IVRS).