Polity & Governance
- Delhi LG has no independent decision-making power: SC
- Cabinet approves creation of one post each of Vice-Chairperson and Member in the NCSK
- Cabinet approves hike in MSP for Kharif Crops for 2018-19 Season
Government Schemes & Policies
- Union Cabinet clears DNA profiling bill
- Cabinet approves umbrella schemes for relief and rehabilitation of migrants and repatriates
Issues related to Health & Education
- Higher Education Financing Agency capital base enhanced to Rs. 10,000 crores
- Cabinet approves extension of Scheme of Recapitalization of Regional Rural Banks upto 2019-20
- HDFC to tap rural market through three lakh banking correspondents
- Agartala airport renamed after Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya
Bilateral & International Relations
- Cabinet approves accession to two WIPO Treaties
For IASToppers Current Affairs Analysis Archive, Click Here
Polity & Governance
Delhi LG has no independent decision-making power: SC
In a moral victory for Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in his power tussle with Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal, the Supreme Court has ruled that the Lieutenant Governor (LG) has no independent power to take decisions and is bound by the elected government’s advice.
- The judgment came on appeals filed by the NCT government against an August 4, 2016, verdict of the Delhi High Court, which had declared that the L-G has “complete control of all matters regarding the National Capital Territory of Delhi, and nothing will happen without the concurrence of the L-G.”
Highlights of the SC judgment:
- Governor is bound by the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers.
- Lt Governor has not been entrusted with any independent decision making power.
- Lt Governor has to either act on the ‘aid and advice’ of Council of Ministers or he is bound to implement the decision taken by the President on a reference being made by him.
- The Centre has exclusive executive power over land, police, law and order.
- The executive power of Delhi government is co-extensive with the legislative powers of the Delhi Assembly.
- The executive power of the Council of Ministers spans over all the subjects covered under the concurrent list and the State list of the Constitution except land, police, law and order.
- By no stretch of imagination, National Capital Territory of Delhi can be accorded the status of State under the present constitutional scheme.
- The status of Lt Governor of Delhi is not that of a Governor of State.
- Lt Governor is an Administrator in a limited sense.
- Parliament has the power to make laws for the NCT Delhi on any matter under the State list and the concurrent list.
- Delhi Assembly too has the powers to enact laws on the all the subjects covered under the concurrent list and the State list minus land, police, law and order.
- The executive action of the State must conform to the law made by the Parliament on certain subject falling under concurrent and State lists.
- Lt Governor should not act in a mechanical manner without due application of mind so as to refer every decision of the Council of Ministers to the President.
- The difference of opinion between the Lt. Governor and the Council of Ministers should have sound rationale and should not be the phenomenon of an obstructionist.
- The Lt Governor and the Council of Ministers must attempt to settle any point of difference by way of discussion and dialogue.
- Lt Governor must work harmoniously with his Ministers and must not seek to resist them every step of the way.
- The decision of the Council of Ministers that has to be communicated to the Lt. Governor does not mean that the concurrence of the Lt. Governor is required.
- Our Constitution is a constructive one. There is no room for absolutism. There is no space for anarchy.
Cabinet approves creation of one post each of Vice-Chairperson and Member in the NCSK
The Union Cabinet has approved the creation of one post each of Vice-Chairperson and Member in the National Commission for Safai Karmacharis.
- The decision is intended to optimize functioning of the Commission and for fulfilling desired objectives of welfare and development of the target group.
About National Commission for Safai Karamcharis (NCSK):
NCSK was established in 1994 to deal with the grievances of persons engaged in manual scavenging.
- It has a sanctioned strength of four members and a chairperson.
- It is statutory body established under National Commission for Safai Karamcharis Act, 1993.
- It aims to promote and safeguard the interests and rights of Safai Karamcharis.
- Its mandate is to study, evaluate and monitor the implementation of various schemes for Safai Karamcharis as an autonomous organisation.
Functions of NCSK:
Under Section 31 of Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act 2013, NCSK perform flowing functions
- Monitor implementation of Act.
- Enquire into complaints regarding contravention of provisions of Act.
- Advice Central and State Governments for effective implementation of Act.
- Working for welfare of both Safai Karamcharis and Manual Sacavengers
Cabinet approves hike in MSP for Kharif Crops for 2018-19 Season
Giving a major boost for the farmers’ income, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the increase in the Minimum Support Prices (MSPs) for all kharif crops for 2018-19 Season.
What is Minimum Support Price (MSP)?
- MSP is form of agricultural market intervention undertaken by Central Government in order to insure agricultural producers are protected against any sharp fall in farm prices.
- It is announced for certain crops by Government prior to the sowing season.
- Its purpose is to incentivize cultivators to adopt modern technology and raise productivity and overall production in line with the emerging demand patterns in the country.
- The prices are decided by CCEA on the basis of recommendations of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP).
Government Schemes & Policies
Union Cabinet clears DNA profiling bill
The Union Cabinet has approved The DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill 2018.
- The Bill aims at expanding application of DNA-based forensic technologies to support and strengthen justice delivery system of the country.
Highlights of the Bill:
- The bill allows law enforcement agencies to collect DNA samples, create “DNA profiles” and special databanks for forensic-criminal investigations. It states that all DNA data, including DNA samples, DNA profiles and records, will be only used for identification of the person and not for any other purpose.
DNA Profiling Board (DPB):
- It creates DNA Profiling Board (DPB) that will be final authority that will authorise creation of State-level DNA databanks, approve the methods of collection and analysis of DNA-technologies. It makes accreditation and regulation mandatory for DNA laboratories.
DNA data banks:
- It allows government to set up DNA data banks across India to store profiles. These banks will maintain national database for identification of victims, accused, suspects, undertrials, missing persons and unidentified human remains.
- It also empowers government to impose jail term of up to 3 years and fine of up to Rs. 1 lakh on those who leak information stored in such facilities. It prescribes similar punishment for those who seek information on DNA profiles illegally.
Significance of the bill:
- Bill will ensure that with proposed expanded use of DNA profiling technology in the country, there will be also assurance that DNA test results are reliable and data remain protected from misuse or abuse in terms of the privacy rights of our citizens.
- It will also enable cross-matching between persons who have been reported missing on one hand and unidentified dead bodies found in various parts of the country on other, and also for establishing the identity of victims in mass disasters.
- It will set in place, an institutional mechanism to collect and deploy DNA technologies to identify persons based on samples collected from crime scenes or for identifying missing persons.
Significance of the DNA technology:
- The utility of DNA based technologies for solving crimes, and to identify missing persons, is well recognized across the world.
- DNA analysis is an extremely useful and accurate technology in ascertaining the identity of a person from his/her DNA sample, or establishing biological relationships between individuals.
- A hair sample, or even bloodstains from clothes, from a scene of crime, for example, can be matched with that of a suspect, and it can, in most cases, be conclusively established whether the DNA in the sample belongs to the suspected individual. As a result, DNA technology is being increasingly relied upon in investigations of crime, identification of unidentified bodies, or in determining parentage.
- But information from DNA samples can reveal not just how a person looks, or what their eye colour or skin colour is, but also more intrusive information like their allergies, or susceptibility to diseases. As a result, there is a greater risk of information from DNA analysis getting misused.
Need for such law:
- Forensic DNA profiling is of proven value in solving cases involving offences that are categorized as affecting the human body (such as murder, rape, human trafficking, or grievous hurt), and those against property (including theft, burglary, and dacoity). The aggregate incidence of such crimes in the country, as per the statistics of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) for 2016, is in excess of 3 lakhs per year. Of these, only a very small proportion is being subjected to DNA testing at present. It is expected that the expanded use of this technology in these categories of cases would result not only in speedier justice delivery but also in increased conviction rates, which at present is only around 30% (NCRB Statistics for 2016).
Cabinet approves umbrella schemes for relief and rehabilitation of migrants and repatriates
The Union Cabinet has given its approval for continuance of the 8 existing schemes of the Ministry of Home Affairs upto March 2020 for relief and rehabilitation of migrants and repatriates under the Umbrella scheme “Relief and Rehabilitation of Migrants and Repatriates”.
The schemes are as under:
- Central Assistance for one-time settlement of displaced families from Pak Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (PoJK) and Chhamb settled in the State of Jammu & Kashmir.
- Rehabilitation Package and up-gradation of infrastructure of the Bangladeshi Enclaves and Cooch Behar District after transfer of enclaves between India and Bangladesh under Land Boundary Agreement.
- Relief assistance to Sri Lankan refugees staying in camps in Tamil Nadu and Odisha.
- Grant-in-Aid to Central Tibetan Relief Committee (CTRC) for five years for administrative and social welfare expenses of Tibetan settlements.
- Grant-in-Aid to Government of Tripura for maintenance of Brus lodged in relief camps of Tripura.
- Rehabilitation of Bru/Reang families from Tripura to Mizoram.
- Grant of enhanced relief of Rs. 5.00 lakh per deceased person, who died during 1984 Anti-Sikh Riots.
- Central Scheme for Assistance to Civilian Victims/Family of Victims of Terrorist/Communal/LWE Violence and Cross Border Firing and Mine/IED blasts on Indian Territory’.
- The schemes will provide relief and rehabilitation assistance to the refugees, displaced persons, civilian victims of terrorist/communal/LWE violence and cross border firing and mine/IED blasts on Indian Territory and riot victims of various incidents etc.
Issues related to Health & Education
Higher Education Financing Agency capital base enhanced to Rs. 10,000 crores
The cabinet has approved the proposal for expanding the scope of Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA) by enhancing its capital base to Rs. 10,000 crore and tasking it to mobilise Rs. 1,00,000 crore for Revitalizing Infrastructure and Systems in Education (RISE) by 2022.
Significance of the move:
- This would enable addressing the needs of all educational institutions with differing financial capacity in an inclusive manner.
- This would enable HEFA to leverage additional resources from the market to supplement equity, to be deployed to fund the requirements of institutions.
About RISE scheme:
- RISE scheme was announced in Union Budget 2017-18.
- It aims to lend low-cost funds to government higher educational institutions.
- Under it, all centrally-funded institutes (CFIs), including central universities, IITs, IIMs, NITs and IISERs can borrow from a Rs 1,00,000 crore corpus over next 4 years to expand and build new infrastructure.
- It will be financed via restructured Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA), a non-banking financial company.
- With introduction of RISE, all financing for infrastructure development at CFIs in higher education will be done through HEFA.
The objectives of RISE by 2022 are:
- Qualitatively upgrade the research and academic infrastructure in India to global best standards by 2022.
- Make India into an education hub by making available high quality research infrastructure in Indian higher educational institutions.
- To allow access of HEFA funding to institutions like Central Universities, AIIMS, IISERs and newly created Institutes of National Importance, without creating any additional burden to the students.
- To bring greater accountability and speed in execution of infrastructure projects and avoid all cost/time over-runs, moving from the block-grant mode to project-mode for all infrastructure projects.
- To cater to the requirements of the Kendriya Vidyalayas and Navodaya Vidyalayas, and medical institutions like AIIMSs in a faster time frame.
- The Union Cabinet had approved HEFA in September 2016 as a Special Purpose Vehicle with a public sector bank (Canara Bank).
- The HEFA would be jointly promoted by the identified Promoter and the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) with an authorised capital of Rs. 2,000 crore. The Government equity would be Rs. 1,000 crore.
- The HEFA would be formed as a SPV within a PSU Bank/ Government-owned-NBFC (Promoter). It would leverage the equity to raise up to Rs. 20,000 crore for funding projects for infrastructure and development of world class Labs in IITs/IIMs/NITs and such other institutions.
- The HEFA would also mobilise CSR funds from PSUs/Corporates, which would in turn be released for promoting research and innovation in these institutions on grant basis.
- The HEFA would finance the civil and lab infrastructure projects through a 10-year loan.
- The principal portion of the loan will be repaid through the ‘internal accruals’ (earned through the fee receipts, research earnings etc.) of the institutions. The Government would service the interest portion through the regular Plan assistance.
- All the Centrally Funded Higher Educational Institutions would be eligible for joining as members of the HEFA.
- For joining as members, the Institution should agree to escrow a specific amount from their internal accruals to HEFA for a period of 10 years. This secured future flows would be securitised by the HEFA for mobilising the funds from the market.
- Each member institution would be eligible for a credit limit as decided by HEFA based on the amount agreed to be escrowed from the internal accruals.
Cabinet approves extension of Scheme of Recapitalization of Regional Rural Banks upto 2019-20
The Union Cabinet has approved the extension of the scheme of recapitalization of Regional Rural Banks (RRBs) for the next three years i.e. upto 2019-20.
- This will enable the RRBs to maintain the minimum prescribed Capital to Risk Weighted Assets Ratio (CRAR) of 9%.
- A strong capital structure and minimum required level of CRAR will ensure financial stability of RRBs which will enable them to play a greater role in financial inclusion and meeting the credit requirements of rural areas.
About Regional Rural Banks (RRBs):
RRBs were set up as government-sponsored, regional based rural lending institutions under Regional Rural Banks Act, 1976.
- A Regional Rural Banks Ordinance was promulgated in September 1975, which was replaced by the Regional Rural Banks Act 1976.
- They are scheduled commercial banks (Government banks) and are configured as hybrid micro banking institutions, combining local orientation and small scale lending culture of cooperatives and business culture of commercial banks.
- RRBs are jointly owned by Central Government, concerned State Government and Sponsor Banks with the issued capital shared in the proportion of 50%, 15% and 35% respectively.
- RRBs provide banking facilities to rural and semi-urban areas, they carry out government operations like disbursement of wages of MGNREGA workers, distribution of pensions etc, they provide para-Banking facilities like locker facilities, debit and credit cards. They can also function as Small financial banks.
- They have been created with a view to serve primarily rural areas of India with basic banking and financial services.
- They fulfill credit needs of relatively unserved sections in rural areas-small and marginal farmers, agricultural labourers and socio-economically weaker sections and small entrepreneurs in rural areas for development of agriculture, trade, commerce, industry and other productive activities.
- RRBs can also set branches set up for urban operations and their area of operation may include semi urban or urban areas too.
HDFC to tap rural market through three lakh banking correspondents
India’s largest private lender HDFC Bank has signed an agreement with CSC SPV (Special Purpose Vehicle) to enable three lakh Village Level Entrepreneurs (VLEs) of the Common Services Centers to operate as its banking correspondents.
- Under the agreement, VLEs of CSC will work as banking correspondent of HDFC Bank and support the government initiative to promote financial inclusion and make banking services more accessible in rural areas.
- The HDFC banking correspondents under this arrangement would also function as business facilitators, who will help and support citizens – merchants, youths, entrepreneurs, farmers and women – avail loan facility from the bank to support their economic uplift.
What are the Common Services Centers (CSCs)?
Common Services Centers (CSCs) are a strategic cornerstone of the Digital India programme.
- They are the access points for delivery of various electronic services to villages in India, thereby contributing to a digitally and financially inclusive society.
- CSCs enable the three vision areas of the Digital India programme:
- Digital infrastructure as a core utility to every citizen.
- Governance and services on demand.
- Digital empowerment of citizens.
Significance of the CSCs:
- CSCs are more than service delivery points in rural India. They are positioned as change agents, promoting rural entrepreneurship and building rural capacities and livelihoods.
- They are enablers of community participation and collective action for engendering social change through a bottom-up approach with key focus on the rural citizen.
Agartala airport renamed after Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya
The Union Cabinet approved proposal of renaming Agartala Airport in Tripura as ‘Maharaja Bir Bikram Manikya Kishore Airport, Agartala.
- The decision comes in the wake of a long-pending demand of the people of Tripura as well as the state government to rename the airport after Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya as a tribute to the last ruler of the princely state.
About Maharaja Bir Bikram Manikya Kishore:
- He was the king of Tripura from 1923 to 1947 before its merger with India. He was enlightened and benevolent ruler.
- He is considered the father of modern architecture in Tripura, as entire planning of present-day Tripura was initiated during his rule.
- After several hundred years of rule by 184 kings, Tripura merged with the Indian union in October 1949.
- Agartala airport is the second busiest airport in the northeastern India.
- In 1942, the king constructed the airport, which played a crucial role in the Second World War.
- The Agartala airport, earlier known as Singerbill Airport, is located 20 km north of the capital city and sits along the Bangladesh border.
Bilateral & International Relations
Cabinet approves accession to two WIPO Treaties
Cabinet approves accession to WIPO Copyright Treaty, 1996 and WIPO Performance and Phonograms Treaty, 1996.
- The treaties extend coverage of copyright to the internet and digital environment.
Meeting the demand of the copyright industries, these treaties will help India:
- To enable creative right-holders enjoy the fruit of their labour, through international copyright system that can be used to secure a return on the investment made in producing and distributing creative works;
- To facilitate international protection of domestic rights holder by providing them level-playing field in other countries as India already extends protection to foreign works through the International Copyright order and these treaties will enable Indian right holders to get reciprocal protection abroad;
- To instil confidence and distribute creative works in digital environment with return on investment; and
- To spur business growth and contribute to the development of a vibrant creative economy and cultural landscape.
Copyright Act, 1957:
- Copyright Act, 1957 governs the subject of copyright law in the country. Its administration was transferred to DIPP in March 2016.
- The Act was amended in 2012 to bring it in conformity, with WCT and WPPT.
- It includes amendment in definition of Communication to the public to make it applicable to digital environment (Section 2(ff)) as also introduced provisions related to Technological.
- It also includes Protection Measures (Section 65A) ad Rights Management Information (Section 65B); Moral rights of performers (Section 38B); Exclusive rights of the performers (Section 38A); safe harbour provisions over electronic medium (Section 52 (1) (b) and (c)),
WIPO Copyright Treaty:
- It came in force in March 2002 and has been adopted by 96 contracting parties till date.
- It is Special agreement under Berne Convention (for protection of literary and artistic works).
- It has provisions to extend protection of copyrights contained therein to the digital environment.
- It also recognises rights specific to digital environment of making work available, to address on-demand and other interactive modes of access.
WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty:
- It came in force on May 2002 and has been adopted by 96 contracting parties.
- It deals with rights of two kinds of beneficiaries, particularly in digital environment. It includes (i) Performers (singers, musicians, actors etc.) (ii) Producers of Phonograms (Sound recordings).
- It empowers right owners in negotiations with new digital platforms and distributors.
- It also recognizes moral rights of performers for first time and provides exclusive economic rights to them.
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.