IASToppers 4th August 2016 2
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Current Affairs Analysis

4th August 2016 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

NAAC; CIC; Section (1)(g) of the RTI Act; Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill 2016; Special Category State; etc.
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
August 04, 2016

Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

Contents

Polity & Governance

  • NAAC grading system revised
  • File notings on court rules not exempt from RTI
  • The Union Cabinet has given its approval for Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill 2016.
  • Cabinet approves amendments in the Central List of Other Backward Classes applicable to Andhra Pradesh and Telangana
  • Special status for Andhra Pradesh: MPs raise slogans

Economy

  • Green light for ‘one nation, one tax’

Environment & Ecology

  • Heavy rainfall not associated with warming: IIT Bombay study
  • Dwindling prey bad news for big cats, wolves, says study

International Relations

  • Cabinet approves signing of Air Services Agreement between India and Lao

Persons in News

  • Former BSF D-G to head Naga ceasefire monitoring group

Polity & Governance

NAAC grading system revised

The National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) has revised its grading system for the first time since 2007, with a view to giving better grades to universities and colleges.

  • The Executive Committee of the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), in its latest guidelines, has directed that starting September 16, all institutions applying for assessment and accreditation from the second cycle onwards will have to mandatorily submit the Annual Quality Assurance Report (AQAR).
  • Moreover, institutions accredited by will also have to compulsorily have functional Internal Quality Assurance Cells (IQAC), terming it a “quality sustenance measure.
  • Institutions will have to upload minutes of the meetings of the IQAC meeting and compliance to the decisions, as well as the AQARs on the institution’s website.

System of seven grades:

Under the revised parameters, instead of the four-point (A, B, C or D) system, colleges will now be graded on a seven-point scale.

  • These seven grades — A++, A+, A, B++, B+, B, C and D — will correspond to a cumulative grade point average (CGPA), with 4.0 being the highest.
  • Institutes that are graded less than or equal to 1.50 will be marked ‘D’, which means the NAAC has deemed them not accredited.
  • A grade will be given to the institutions that score between 3.01 and 3.50 points, while B++, B+ and B will be awarded for scoring points ranging between 2.10 and 3.

Now, the college’s CGPA will be on the NAAC website, so students can compare two colleges within the same grade too.

Background:

  • The UGC had issued directives to all the universities to get NAAC accreditation, failing which it would stop grants to them. Lack of proper infrastructure in most of the colleges and shortage of teachers have affected the higher education system in the state.

About NAAC:

The National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) is an organisation that assesses and accredits institutions of higher education in India.

4th August 2016 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

  • It is an autonomous body funded by University Grants Commission of Government of India headquartered in Bangalore.
  • It is an outcome of the recommendations of the National Policy in Education (1986) which laid special emphasis on upholding the quality of higher education in India.
  • To address the issues of quality, the National Policy on Education (1986) and the Plan of Action (POA-1992) advocated the establishment of an independent national accreditation body.
  • Consequently, the NAAC was established in 1994 with its headquarters at Bangalore.
[Ref: The Hindu; ToI]

 

File notings on court rules not exempt from RTI

In a significant ruling, the Central Information Commission (CIC) held that notes and orders in the file leading to framing and notification of Supreme Court Rules, 2013 (which deal with issues related to functioning of courts) are not exempt from the purview of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005.

Arguments put forth by the CIC:

  • The notes and orders are not covered under Section (1)(g) of the RTI Act as ‘assistance given in confidence for law enforcement or security purposes’.
  • The framing of Rules is a legislative function and it is neither a judicial function nor it is concerned with any security measures.
  • The note/notings/ deliberations relating to framing of Rules cannot be termed assistance given in confidence for law enforcement.
  • The provision can relate to payment to informers by police, IB and CBI, etc.

Background:

  • The applicant had approached the CIC after his petition seeking photocopies of notes and orders in the concerned file on Supreme Court Rules, 2013 prescribing requirement of prior interaction with the Registrar for permitting a party to appear and argue the case in person was not entertained.
  • It was declined on the ground that the deliberations made in the Full Court meeting and the disclosures of the same would render the ‘system unworkable in practice’.

Section (1)(g) of the RTI Act:

  • There shall be no obligation to give any citizen information, the disclosure of which would endanger the life or physical safety of any person or identify the source of information or assistance given in confidence for law enforcement or security purposes.

About the Central Information Commission:

Established in 2005, the Central Information Commission (CIC) is the authorised body under the Government of India.

4th August 2016 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

  • It was set up under the Right to Information Act.
  • It was set up to act upon complaints from those individuals who have not been able to submit information requests to a Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer due to either the officer not having been appointed, or because the respective Central Assistant Public Information Officer or State Assistant Public Information Officer refused to receive the application for information under the RTI Act.
  • The Commission includes 1 Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) and not more than 10 Information Commissioners (IC) who are appointed by the President of India.
[Ref: The Hindu; Wiki, iastoppers Custom]

 

The Union Cabinet has given its approval for Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill 2016.

The Union Cabinet has given its approval for Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill 2016.

4th August 2016 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

The Amendment aims to improve:

  • Every year 5 lakh road accidents are reported in the country in which 1.5 lakh people lose their lives. Government is committed to reduce the accidents and fatalities by 50% in five years.

Background:

  • To address the issue of road safety and to improve the facilitation of the citizens while dealing with transport departments, Ministry of Road Transport & Highways constituted a Group of Transport Ministers (GoM) of the States.
  • The GoM recommended that to address the pressing issue of road safety and improving transport scenario, Government should immediately bring amendments to the present Motor Vehicle Act.

Highlights of the bill:

  • The Bill propose to improve the transport scenario in the country by permitting the States to grant exemptions in Stage carriage and contract carriage permits for promoting rural transport, public transport, last mile connectivity and for passenger convenience and road safety.
  • The Bill proposes that the State Government can specify a multiplier, not less than one and not greater than ten, to be applied to each fine under this Act and such modified fine.
  • The bill proposes that the State Government can regulate the activities in a public place of pedestrians and such means of transport.
  • Improving delivery of services to the stakeholders using e-Governance is one of the major focuses of this Bill. This include enabling online learning licenses, increasing validity period for driving licenses, doing away with the requirements of educational qualifications for transport licenses are some of the features.
  • To improve the registration process for new vehicles, registration at the end of the dealer is being enabled and restrictions have been imposed on temporary registration.
  • In the area of road safety, bill proposes to increase penalties to act as deterrent against traffic violations.
  • To help the road accident victims, Good Samaritan guidelines have been incorporated in the Bill.
  • The Bill also proposes to mandate the automated fitness testing for the transport vehicles with effect from 1st October 2018. This would reduce corruption in the Transport Department while improving the road worthiness of the vehicle. 
  • The penalties are also proposed for deliberate violation of safety/environmental regulations as well as body builders and spare part suppliers.
  • To bring harmony of the registration and licensing process, it is proposed to create National Register for Driving Licence and National Register for Vehicle registration through “Vahan” & “Sarathi” This will facilitate uniformity of the process across the country.
  • The process for testing and certification for automobiles is proposed to be regulated more effectively. The testing agencies issuing automobile approvals have been brought under the ambit of the Act.
  • The driving training process has been strengthened enabling faster issuance of transport licenses. This will help in reducing the shortage of commercial drivers in the country.
  • To facilitate transport solutions for Divyang, the bottlenecks have been removed in respect of grant of driving licenses as well as alterations in the vehicles to make it fit for use of Divyang.

Revised penalties:

 Case

Old Provision / Penalty

New Proposed Provision / Minimum Penalties

General

Rs 100

Rs 500

Rules of road regulation violation

Rs 100

Rs 500

Travel without ticket

RS 200

Rs 500

Disobedience of orders of authorities

Rs 500

Rs 2000

Unauthorized use of vehicles without licence

Rs 1000

Rs 5000

Driving without licence

Rs 500

Rs 5000

Driving despite disqualification

Rs 500

Rs 10,000

Oversize vehicles

New

Rs 5000

Over speeding

Rs 400

Rs 1000 for LMV

Rs 2000 for Medium passenger vehicle

Dangerous driving penalty

Rs 1000

Upto Rs 5000 

Drunken driving

Rs 2000

Rs 10,000

Speeding / Racing

Rs 500

Rs 5,000

Vehicle without permit

upto Rs 5000

Upto Rs 10,000

Aggregators (violations of licencing conditions)

New

Rs 25,000 to

Rs 1,00,000

Overloading

Rs 2000 and

Rs 1000 per extra tonne

Rs 20,000 and

Rs 2000 per extra tonne

Overloading of passengers

 

Rs 1000 per extra passenger

Seat belt

Rs 100

Rs 1000

Overloading of two wheelers

Rs 100

Rs 2000, Disqualification for 3 months for licence

Helmets

Rs 100

Rs 1000 Disqualification for 3 months for licence

Not providing way for emergency vehicles

New

Rs 10,000

Driving Without Insurance

RS 1000

Rs 2000

Offences by Juveniles

New

Guardian / owner shall be deemed to be guilty. Rs 25,000 with 3 yrs imprisonment. For Juvenile to be tried under JJ Act. Registration of Motor Vehicle to be cancelled

Power of Officers to impound documents

 

Suspension of driving licenses

Offences committed by enforcing authorities

 

Twice the penalty under the relevant section

[Ref: PIB]

 

Cabinet approves amendments in the Central List of Other Backward Classes applicable to Andhra Pradesh and Telangana

The Union Cabinet has given its approval for making suitable amendments in the Central List of OBCs by way of inclusion/correction/deletion of castes/communities applicable to the State of Andhra Pradesh and the newly formed State of Telangana.

  • The decision has been taken as per the advice received from the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC).
  • The changes will enable the persons belonging to these castes/ communities in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana to avail the benefits of reservation in Government services and posts as well as in Central Educational Institutions as per extant policy. They will also become eligible for benefit under the various welfare schemes, scholarships etc. being administered by the Central Government, which are at present available to the persons belonging to the Other Backward Classes.

Process of inclusion of any castes/communities:

  • Under Section 9 (“Functions of the Commission”) of the NCBC Act 1993, the Commission examines requests for inclusion of any class of citizens as a backward class in the lists and hears complaints of over-inclusion or under-inclusion of any backward class in such lists and tenders such advice to the Central Government.
  • The Act also stipulates that the advice of the Commission shall ordinarily be binding upon the Central Government.
[Ref: PIB, iastoppers Custom]

 

Special status for Andhra Pradesh: MPs raise slogans

The Lok Sabha was adjourned twice when members from the Yuvajana Shramika Rythu Congress Party (YSRCP) and Telugu Desam Party raised slogans demanding special status for A.P.

  • Finance Minister Arun Jaitley assured them that the government was looking at their demand.

What’s the issue?

  • Andhra Pradesh has been demanding a Special Category State (SCS) status from Centre ever since it was decided to carve out Telangana along with capital city Hyderabad.
  • State-wide protests, slogan-shouting in Parliament, a Private Member Bill and intense lobbying have not resulted in a favourable decision yet.

Special Category State (SCS) status:

Fifth Finance Commission introduced SCS in 1969 giving Jammu and Kashmir, Assam, and Nagaland additional Central assistance and tax concessions.

  • Special category status is usually based on the recommendations of the National Development Council (NDC).
  • The National Development Council (NDC) laid five guidelines to grant the status —
  1. Hilly and difficult terrain;
  2. Low population density or sizable share of tribal population;
  3. Strategic location along borders with neighbouring countries;
  4. Economic and infrastructural backwardness; and
  5. Non-viable nature of State finances.

Which States are receiving it right now?

  • Apart from Jammu and Kashmir, Assam, and Nagaland, eight more States were added to the list — Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Sikkim, Tripura and Uttarakhand.

Difference between Special Status and Special Category Status (SCS):

Andhra Pradesh is asking for Special Category Status and not Special Status, there’s a big difference between Special Status and Special Category Status.

  • Special Statusis guaranteed by the Constitution of India through an Act passed by the two-third majority in both houses of the Parliament (example – J&K)
  • Special Category Status (SCS)is granted by the National Development Council, an administrative body of the government.

What are the benefits which states get under SCS?

The Planning Commission allocates funds to states through central assistance for state plans.

4th August 2016 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

Central assistance can be broadly split into three components.

  1. Normal Central Assistance (NCA)
  2. Additional Central Assistance (ACA)
  3. Special Central Assistance (SCA)
  • NCA, the main assistance for state plans, is split to favor special category states: the 11 states get 30% of the total assistance while the other states share the remaining 70%.
  • The nature of the assistance also varies for special category states; NCA is split into 90% grants and 10% loans for special category states, while the ratio between grants and loans is 30:70 for other states.
  • For allocation among special category states, there are no explicit criteria for distribution and funds are allocated on the basis of the state’s plan size and previous plan expenditures.
  • Allocation between non special category states is determined by the Gadgil Mukherjee formula which gives weight to population (60%), per capita income (25%), fiscal performance (7.5%) and special problems (7.5%).
  • Special category states also receive specific assistance addressing features like hill areas, tribal sub-plans and border areas.
  • Beyond additional plan resources, special category states can enjoy concessions in excise and customs duties, income tax rates and corporate tax rates as determined by the government.
[Ref: The Hindu; Quora]

 

Economy

Green light for ‘one nation, one tax’

The Rajya Sabha passed the Bill to amend the Constitution paving the way for the roll-out of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

Note: For our detailed article on Goods and Services Tax (GST), click here 

 

Environment & Ecology

Heavy rainfall not associated with warming: IIT Bombay study

A study carried out by researchers at IIT Bombay has found that extreme rainfall events over India do not have significant association with land surface air temperature over India and sea surface temperature over central Indian Ocean.

  • The results are contrary to the general notion that global warming or increased summer temperature is responsible for extreme summer monsoon rainfall events witnessed in some parts of the country in the last few years.

Background:

  • In the recent past, there has been considerable change in heavy summer monsoon rainfall pattern in India and there is considerable debate on whether such extreme events are caused by global warming or by urbanisation.
  • The new generation climate model and historical simulations tend to over-estimate the association between extreme rainfall events and temperature.

Key findings of the study:

  • The claim is not really that climate change is not important. But the novel results indicate that the local warming is not the controlling factor. The clues are in the rapid warming of the Indian Ocean and the changing roles of the Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean in monsoon variability and extremes.
  • At a local level, some of the grids of 100×100 sq. km. experienced a change in extreme rainfall with increasing temperature, while other grids witnessed a decrease or no significant change in rainfall with increased temperature.
  • However, the model simulation of Indian rainfall extremes tends to “overestimate the changes in both mean and extreme precipitation”.
  • The study also found that dynamic moisture transport caused by thermal gradient between land and water had a significant role on mean and extreme rainfall compared with direct thermodynamic effect (where the atmosphere has a greater capacity to carry moisture when temperature rises).
  • A study carried out in Brazil revealed that there was a decrease in extreme rainfall with increasing temperature.
  • In the latest study too, the researchers did not find evidence to support “intensification in either the mean or extreme rainfall over India in a warming world”.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Dwindling prey bad news for big cats, wolves, says study

According to the first global study of feeding patterns, the world’s top land carnivores such as tigers, lions and jaguars are coming under threat as their prey dwindles in number.

4th August 2016 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

Key findings of the study:

  • There are only 17 four-legged predators — big cats, wolves and wild dogs — that weigh more than 15 kilos and whose diet is at least 70 per cent meat.
  • Collectively, these fearsome carnivores feed on nearly 500 species, ranging in size from mice to buffaloes.
  • But a quarter of these are themselves listed as threatened by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which tracks the health of the planet’s fauna and flora.
  • An expanding human footprint has also reduced the vast areas these wide-ranging hunters need to thrive — on average, it takes about 10,000 kilos of prey to support 90 kilos of carnivore biomass, whether a scrawny dingo or a strapping lion.
[The Hindu]

 

International Relations

Cabinet approves signing of Air Services Agreement between India and Lao

The Union Cabinet has given its approval for signing of new Air Services Agreement (ASA) between India and Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR).

4th August 2016 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

  • ASA is the basic legal framework for any air operation between the two countries.

The Agreement is expected:

  • To spur greater trade, investment, tourism and cultural exchange between the two countries bringing it in tune with the developments in the civil aviation sector.
  • To provide enabling environment for enhanced and seamless connectivity while providing commercial opportunities to the carriers of both the sides ensuring greater safety and security.

Under the agreement:

  • The designated airlines of the two countries shall have fair and equal opportunity to operate the agreed services on specified routes.
  • The routes and frequencies shall be decided subsequently.
[Ref: PIB]

 

Persons in News

Former BSF D-G to head Naga ceasefire monitoring group

Former Director General of BSF D.K. Pathak has been appointed as the new chairman of the Ceasefire Monitoring Group (CMG) that was created in 2001 to formalise a permanent peace accord with Naga groups.

4th August 2016 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers
Former Director General of BSF D.K. Pathak
  • This is the first time that a police officer has been appointed to the post, which has in the past been held by Army officials.
  • Pathak will report to the Home Ministry and will coordinate with the Army, the paramilitary setup operating in Nagaland, the State government authorities and the police.

Tasks of the Ceasefire Monitoring Group (CMG):

  • The CMG will “monitor the implementation of the agreed ground rules during the operation of ceasefire with the NSCN (Issac-Muivah), the NSCN (Khole-Kitovi) and the NSCN (Reformation) in Nagaland.
  • The main task of the CMG chairman is to help in the creation of an atmosphere conducive for a political negotiation to end the decades-old insurgency problem in the border State.
[Ref: The Hindu]

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