Polity & Governance
- Outstanding Parliamentarian Award
- Government urges Supreme Court to use ‘rare doctrine’ to stub tobacco industry rights
Government Schemes & Policies
- Khelo India Pledge Launched at the Khelo India School Games Carnival
- Quota for acid attack survivors, people with disability in Government Jobs
- HP Zero Budget Natural Farming project to promote organic farming
Bilateral & International Relations
- China shifts stance, offers to open talks with India on CPEC
Defence & Security Issues
- Government to set up apex cybercrime coordination centre
- VINBAX-2018: Vietnam-India Bilateral Military Exercise
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Polity & Governance
Outstanding Parliamentarian Award
What is Outstanding Parliamentarian Award?
The Outstanding Parliamentarian Award is an award given by the Indian Parliamentary Group to an outstanding sitting Member of the Indian Parliament for overall contribution in the Indian Parliament.
- It was instituted in 1992 by Shivraj Patil, who was the Speaker of Lok Sabha from 1991 to 1996.
Why in news?
Recently, the Indian Parliamentary Group decided to confer the Outstanding Parliamentarian Award for 2017 to five Members of Parliament.
- Dr Najma Heptulla (BJP leader) [award for 2013]
- Hukumdev Narayan Yadav (BJP leader) [award for 2014]
- Ghulam Nabi Azad (Congress leader) [award for 2015]
- Dinesh Trivedi (Trinamool Congress leader) [award for 2016]
- Bhartruhari Mahatab (Biju Janata Dal leader) [award for 2017]
Government urges Supreme Court to use ‘rare doctrine’ to stub tobacco industry rights
The Union government has urged the Supreme Court to enforce a rarely used doctrine to curb the $11 billion tobacco industry’s legal right to trade.
- For the first time ever, the government has asked the top court to classify tobacco as “res extra commercium”, which is a Latin phrase for “outside commerce”.
- The move is part of the government’s effort to tame the tobacco companies looking to challenge tough regulations pertaining to the industry.
What is Res extra commercium?
- Res extra commercium means “a thing outside commerce” is a doctrine originating in Roman law.
- The Res extra commercium doctrine holds that certain things may not be the object of private rights, and are therefore insusceptible to being traded.
- In some contexts, it can refer to areas beyond national borders, such as space and the seabed.
What’s the issue?
- India’s tobacco labelling rules, which mandate 85% of a cigarette pack’s surface be covered in health warnings, have been a sticking point between the government and the tobacco industry since they were enforced in 2016.
- But a court in southern Karnataka state last month quashed those labelling rules after the tobacco industry successfully argued the measure was “unreasonable” and violated its right to trade.
Rational behind imposing this doctrine:
- The government is not looking to ban tobacco and the only aim of invoking the Roman law doctrine was to curtail the industry’s legal rights.
- Seeking to apply this doctrine to tobacco, the government argued it should have the power “to regulate business and to mitigate evils” to safeguard public health.
- If this Roman law doctrine is applied, it would have severe implications on the tobacco industry; not only would the industry’s legal rights to trade will suffer, but it will also give authorities more freedom to impose restrictions.
- Experts predict that the fate of the tobacco industry will be the same if a similar ruling is passed.
- This is not the first time the doctrine has been cited; in the 1970s, the top court’s application of the doctrine led to two states completely banning alcohol, apart from allowing courts to take a stricter stance on regulating liquor.
Efforts made by the government to curb tobacco use:
- The government, over the years, initiated several reforms in the recent years to curb the use of tobacco that kills almost nine lakh people in India each year.
- Increased taxes, campaigns, advertisements are some of the measures taken by the government to curb the use of tobacco.
Government Schemes & Policies
Khelo India Pledge Launched at the Khelo India School Games Carnival
Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports launched the PLEDGE for Khelo India at the Khelo India School Games Carnival in Delhi.
What is PLEDGE for Khelo India?
- The pledge for Khelo India is a promise to participate and encourage sportsmanship spirit and it is aimed at inspiring youngsters to build mass participation and excellence in sports.
About Khelo India School Games:
- Khelo India School Games will be held at multiple venues across Delhi from January 31 to February 8, 2018.
- The program encompasses 16 sports disciplines such as Archery, Athletics, Badminton, Basketball, Boxing, Football, Gymnastics, Hockey, Judo, Kabaddi, Kho-Kho, Shooting, Swimming, Volleyball, Weightlifting and Wrestling.
About Khelo India programme:
The Khelo India Programme was launched in 2016 for building inclusive and comprehensive sports ecosystem in country.
- It aims at inculcating sports into the day to day lives of youngsters early on in their lives.
It subsumed earlier three different schemes into one namely:
- Rajiv Gandhi Khel Abhiyan (RGKA),
- National Sports Talent Search Scheme (NSTSS) and
- Urban Sports Infrastructure Scheme (USIS).
Objective of Scheme
- Mass participation of youth in annual sports competitions through a structured competition;
- Identification of talent
- Guidance and nurturing of the talent through existing sports academies and new set up either by the central Government or State Government or in PPP mode.
- Creation of Sports Infrastructure at mofussil, Tehsil, District, State levels, etc
Quota for acid attack survivors, people with disability in Government Jobs
People with autism, mental illnesses, intellectual disability and victims of acid attacks will now get quota in central government jobs.
- The Department of Personnel and Training has written to all central government departments to ensure that 1% of each post be reserved for people with blindness and low vision; deaf and hard of hearing; locomotor disability including cerebral palsy, leprosy cured, dwarfism, acid attack victims and muscular dystrophy.
- The move to enhance reservation quota for those with learning disability and acid attack victims comes after passage of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, and the notification of relevant rules in this regard.
- As per an earlier order of the DoPT, issued in 2005, 3% of the total posts were to be reserved for people with disabilities.
- Of these 1% each was for those with blindness or low vision; hearing impairment and locomotor disability or cerebral palsy.
- In case of direct recruitment, 4% of the total number of vacancies, up from the existing 3%, in groups A, B and C shall be reserved for people with benchmark disabilities. Benchmark disability means a person with not less than 40% of a specified disability.
- 1% posts each shall be also reserved for people suffering from autism, intellectual disability, specific learning disability and mental illness.
Grievance redressal officers:
- Under the new rules, all government organisations have been asked to appoint ‘grievance redressal officers’ to look into complaints.
- These officers will maintain a register of complaint carrying details such as date of complaint; name of complainant; the name of the establishment or person against whom the complaint has been lodged; the gist of the complaint and the date of disposal by the grievance redressal officer.
- Any person aggrieved with any matter relating to discrimination in employment against any person with disability may file a complaint with the grievance redressal officer of the respective government establishment.
- Every complaint shall be inquired into within two months of its registration and outcome thereof or action taken thereon shall be communicated to the complainant or person with benchmark disability.
What is Intellectual disability?
- It is a condition characterised by significant limitations both in intellectual functioning such as reasoning, learning and problem solving.
- It is in adaptive behaviour that covers a range of everyday skills.
HP Zero Budget Natural Farming project to promote organic farming
Himachal Pradesh Government has launched Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) project to promote organic farming.
- The project aims to increase agriculture produce and the income of farmers by the year 2022.
What is Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF)?
ZBNF is set of natural farming methods where cost of growing and harvesting plants is zero.
- It is a farming practice that believes in natural growth of crops without adding any fertilizers and pesticides or any other foreign elements. It is different from organic farming.
- The word Zero Budget refers to zero net cost of production of all crops. This means that farmers need not purchase fertilizers and pesticides in order to ensure the healthy growth of crops.
- The inputs used for seed treatments and other inoculations are locally available in form of cow dung and cow urine.
- It requires almost no monetary investment and envisages use of ‘Jeevamrutha’ and ‘Beejamrutha’.
- The main aim of ZBNF is eliminate use of chemical pesticides and uses biological pesticides and promote of good agronomic practices.
- Farmers use earthworms, cow dung, urine, plants, human excreta and such biological fertilizers for crop protection.
Significance of ZBNF:
- It lowers cost of inputs of farmers and gives better capacity to increase the incomes.
- It also protects soil from degradation and helps in retaining soil fertility and is climate change resilient.
Zero Budget Natural Farming in India:
- ZBNF has attained wide success in southern India, especially the southern Indian state of Karnataka where it first evolved.
Need for such farming methods:
- The neo-liberalization of the Indian economy led to a deep agrarian crisis that is making small scale farming an unviable vocation.
- Both traditional farming, using chemical fertilisers and pesticides, and organic farming are becoming unviable for farmers. The organic farming was costlier than the traditional farming as the farm inputs were expensive.
- Privatized seeds, inputs, and markets are inaccessible and expensive for peasants.
- Indian farmers increasingly find themselves in a vicious cycle of debt, because of the high production costs, high interest rates for credit, the volatile market prices of crops, the rising costs of fossil fuel based inputs, and private seeds.
- More than a quarter of a million farmers have committed suicide in India in the last two decades. Various studies have linked farmer’s suicides to debt. Debt is a problem for farmers of all sizes in India.
Under such conditions, ‘zero budget’ farming promises to end a reliance on loans and drastically cut production costs, ending the debt cycle for desperate farmers.[Ref: The Hindu, FAO]
Bilateral & International Relations
China shifts stance, offers to open talks with India on CPEC
China has offered to open talks with India to resolve differences on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), opening the door for removing a major irritant in New Delhi-Beijing ties.
About the CPEC project:
China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a collection of projects currently under construction at a cost of $46 billion.
- The 3,000-km CPEC connecting Xinjiang with Pakistan’s Gwadar Port through PoK is stated to cost $46 billion.
- This project will shorten the route for China’s energy imports from the Middle East by about 12,000 kms.
- The project includes building of highways, railways as well as pipelines. It is among the six economic corridors conceived under China’s Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road.
- It is intended to rapidly expand and upgrade Pakistani infrastructure as well as deepen and broaden economic links between Pakistan and the People’s Republic of China.
- The corridor is considered to be an extension of China’s ambitious One Belt, One Road initiative, and the importance of CPEC to China is reflected by its inclusion as part of China’s 13th five-year development plan.
Defence & Security Issues
Government to set up apex cybercrime coordination centre
The Union Home Ministry has proposed to set up Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C), an apex coordination centre in New Delhi to deal with cybercrimes.
- It also has asked States to establish similar mechanism in every district and released funds for setting up of cyber-forensic training laboratory-cum-training centre for police officials in each State.
- It also has released funds to Cyber Crime Prevention against Women and Children Scheme.
About Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C)
- It will be apex coordination centre to deal with cybercrimes based in New Delhi.
- The Centre will be set up under the newly created Cyber and Information Security (CIS) division of the MHA.
- Under this framework, state governments will set up State cybercrime coordination cell at headquarter-level and also establish district cybercrime cells.
What would be the functions of the I4C?
- The Centre will coordinate with State governments/UTs and closely monitor cyberspace and social media with due emphasis on vernacular content.
- It will also block those websites which flout Indian laws and circulate child pornography and communally and racially sensitive content.
- It will also maintain list of suspects and leads generated during investigations in cybercrime cases and will be shared with law enforcement agencies through secured internal network.
Need for such coordination:
- Over a period of time, there has been phenomenal increase in use of computers, smart phones and internet in India. With this increase, cybercrimes have emerged as major challenge for law enforcement agencies.
- The cybercrime cases are of varied types ranging from defacement of government websites, online financial frauds, online stalking and harassment, and data thefts.
- Moreover, these cybercrime cases pose technical, legal and administrative challenges in investigation which require strengthening of institutional mechanism.
- Institutionalisation of I4C comes in wake of 1,44,496 cybersecurity attacks observed in country during 2014-16 period.
- MHA already has created Cyber and Information Security Division, a new wing to deal with new-age challenge.
VINBAX-2018: Vietnam-India Bilateral Military Exercise
The India-Vietnam Bilateral Army Exercise (VINBAX-2018) was conducted at Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh.
- It is the first military exercise between the two countries.
About the VINBAX-2018:
- VINBAX-2018 was Table Top Exercise to carry out training for Peace Keeping Operations under United Nations (UN) mandate.
- It was jointly undertaken between 15 officers each from Indian Army and Vietnam People’s Army.
Indo-Vietnam defence ties:
- Defence ties between India and Vietnam have been on an upswing with the primary focus being cooperation in the maritime domain.
- Both countries had signed a protocol on defence cooperation in 1994.
- The partnership was thereafter elevated to strategic level in 2007 and pact on boosting bilateral defence cooperation was signed in 2009.
- The strategic partnership was elevated to a comprehensive strategic partnership in September 2016.
Location of Vietnam:
- Vietnam is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia.
- Vietnam is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, Thailand across the Gulf of Thailand to the southwest, and the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia across the South China Sea to the east and southeast.
- Its capital city has been Hanoi since the reunification of North and South Vietnam in 1976, with Ho Chi Minh City as the most populous city.