Polity & Governance
- Supreme Court seeks parliamentary panel report suggesting changes in Lokpal law
- Union Cabinet approves Reforms to boost employment generation and exports in Made-ups Sector
- Horse racing not animal cruelty: SC
- Cabinet nod to expand mandate of Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor trust fund
- Centre to review fertilizer subsidy rates after 6 months
Bilateral & International Relations
- MoU between India and Afghanistan on cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space
- India approves MoU on IT collaboration with Vietnam
Science & Technology
- ISRO launches remote sensing satellite RESOURCESAT-2A
Key Facts for Prelims
- Launch of Veterans Outreach Android App
- India International Science Festival (IISF-2016)
Polity & Governance
Supreme Court seeks parliamentary panel report suggesting changes in Lokpal law
The Supreme Court asked the Centre to place before it a copy of the report of a Parliamentary standing committee suggesting amendments to the Lokpal law.
- The court wanted to know about the changes required to make the anti-graft ombudsman functional.
What’s the issue?
- The court is hearing a petition filed by NGO which has sought a direction to the Centre to make the appointment of chairperson and members of Lokpal as per the amended rules framed under Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013.
- The NGO in its plea has also sought a direction to the Centre to ensure that the procedure for selecting the chairperson and members of Lokpal must be transparent as envisaged under the Act.
- According to the NGO, the inaction of the government in making the appointment of Lokpal is arbitrary and unreasonable and hence violative of Article 14 of the Constitution.
The government’s top law officer attorney general Mukul Rohatgi told the court that
- There are a lot of issues with the law that the government is considering to amend, which is why the appointment of Lokpal has been put on hold.
- The lack of a leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha is just one of the issues blocking Lokpal’s appointment.
- The appointment of anti-corruption ombudsman is hanging in balance since the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, which received Presidential assent on January 1, 2014 because the legislation provides for the LoP to be on the selection committee, but in the present Lok Sabha the largest opposition party does not have the required number of MPs for its leader to be designated as Leader of Opposition.
- Earlier, the court had said the requirement of LoP on the panel was “dispensable” and can be substituted with the leader of the largest opposition party.
- In Lok Sabha, the largest opposition party Congress has only 45 members and lacks the requisite 10% of total 545 seats, giving rise to the need to amend the present Lokpal Act.
What’s the law says?
The law provides for selection of chairperson and members of Lokpal by a committee consisting of the Prime Minister, Lok Sabha Speaker, LoP in Lok Sabha, Chief Justice of India or a sitting SC judge nominated by the him, and an eminent jurist to be nominated by President of India on the basis of recommendations of first four members of selection panel.[Ref: The Hindu]
Union Cabinet approves Reforms to boost employment generation and exports in Made-ups Sector
The Union Cabinet has given its approval to the reforms to boost employment generation and exports in the Made-ups Sector.
- It approved budget of Rs. 6,006 crore for the apparel package in a time bound manner.
- The main objective is generating direct and indirect employment of upto 11 lakh persons over the next three years the made-ups sector.
Following interventions have been approved:
- Providing production incentive through enhanced Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme (TUFS) subsidy of additional 10% for Made-ups.
- Extension of Pradhan Mantri Paridhan Rozgar Protsahan Yojana (PMPRPY) Scheme (for apparel) to made-ups sector for providing additional 3.67% share of Employer’s contribution in addition to 8.33% already covered under Pradhan Mantri Rozgar Protsahan Yojana (PMRPY) for all new employees enrolling in EPFO.
- Extension of Rebate of State Levies (ROSL) (for apparel) Scheme to made-ups sector for enhanced Duty Drawback on exports of Made-ups.
- Simplification of labour laws: (i) Increasing permissible overtime up to 100 hours per quarter in Made-ups manufacturing sector, (ii) Making employees’ contribution to EPF optional for employees earning less than Rs 15,000 per month.
Significance of these interventions:
The interventions are expected to boost employment in the textile sector and create employment for upto eleven lakh persons, lead to increase in exports and enhance benefits to the workers in the textile and apparel sector.[Ref: PIB]
Horse racing not animal cruelty: SC
The Supreme Court has ruled that horse racing per se is not animal cruelty. It held that it is different from Jallikattu, which metes out specific methods of torture to bulls.
- This observation was made on a petition challenging a Rajasthan High Court’s order banning tonga races in the State.
What is the issue?
- The Rajasthan High Court had banned tonga races in the state by relying on a Supreme Court judgment of 2014 banning jallikattu.
- Against the tonga races ban, a petition was filed in the apex country saying that the 2014 judgment banning jallikattu was confined only to bulls and not horses.
- The petition also mentioned SC’s 2014 observations that the horses biologically equipped for racing and their anatomy enables it to make use of speed which can be usefully used for racing, etc., unlike bulls.
- It also said that tonga races are held all over the world, including North America, Australia, Europe and New Zealand under the name of harness racing.
Tonga races vs. Jallikattu:
- Horse racing per se is not cruelty, but tonga races on metal roads leads to animal cruelty. Bulls as “bovine animals” unfit for running, while horses as solid-hoofed quadruped, domesticated for riding.
- 2014 judgment (banning jallikattu) and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 were against cruelty shown to all animals, whether bull or horse.
- The Jallikattu verdict dwelt on specific instances of cruelty shown to bulls like biting and twisting a bull’s tail, poking the bull with sticks and knives, using irritant solutions in the eyes, use of alcoholic liquids and throwing stones.
Cabinet nod to expand mandate of Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor trust fund
Government has approved the expansion of the mandate of Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor Project Implementation Trust Fund and re-designated it as National Industrial Corridor Development & Implementation Trust for integrated development of industrial corridors.
- The NICDIT has been accorded permission to utilise financial assistance already sanctioned and an additional amount of Rs 1,584 crore has been sanctioned within the extended period up to 31 March, 2022.
National Industrial Corridor Development & Implementation Trust (NICDIT) would be an apex body under the administrative control of DIPP for coordinated and unified development of all the industrial corridors in the country.
- It will channelize Gol funds as well as institutional funds while ensuring that the various corridors are properly planned and implemented keeping in view the broad national perspectives regarding industrial and city development.
- It will support project development activities, appraise, approve and sanction projects.
- It will also coordinate all central efforts for the development of Industrial Corridor projects and will monitor their implementation.
- DMICDC will function as a knowledge partner to NICDIT in respect of all the Industrial Corridors in addition to its present DMIC work, till Knowledge Partner(s) for other Industrial Corridors are in place.
- An Apex Monitoring Authority under the chairpersonship of the Finance Minister will be constituted to periodically review the activities of NICDIT and progress of the projects.
- It will consist of Minister-in-charge of Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Minister of Railways, Minister of Road Transport & Highways, Minister of Shipping, Vice-Chairman of NITI Aayog and Chief Ministers of States concerned as Members.
Significance of this move:
- The formation of the NICDIT will enable development and implementation of Industrial Corridor Projects across India by bringing in holistic planning and development approach and sharing the learning from development of Industrial Corridors, which will enable innovation in areas such as planning, design development and funding of such projects.
- This will help enhance the share of manufacturing in the country, attract investment in manufacturing and service industry sectors, which will have a catalytic effect on up-gradation and development of skills of the workforce and generation of employment opportunities.
To accelerate the growth in manufacturing and for ensuring scientifically planned urbanization, Government of India (Gol) has adopted the strategy of developing integrated Industrial Corridors in partnership with State Governments with focus on manufacturing.
Five Corridors have been planned for development by Government of India. They are:
- Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC),
- Chennai-Bengaluru Industrial Corridor (CBIC),
- Amritsar Kolkata Industrial Corridor (AKIG),
- Bengaluru- Mumbai Economic Corridor (BMEC) and
- Vizag-Chennai Industrial Corridor (VCIC)
The five Industrial corridors presently cover the States, namely, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu.[Ref: Indian Express]
Centre to review fertilizer subsidy rates after 6 months
The government has approved the proposal of half-yearly review of nutrient-based subsidy (NBS) rates for phosphatic and potassic (P&K) fertilizers for 2016-17 against the present practice of annual review.
- The government has also decided to ensure that any fall in international prices will be reflected by the fertilizer companies with subsequent reduction in maximum retail prices.
- These moves are expected to result in increase in consumption of P&K fertilizers which will result in balanced fertilization.
What is Nutrient Based Subsidy?
- The government has been implementing Nutrient Based Subsidy (NBS) policy for decontrolled phosphate and potash (P&K) fertilisers since April 2010.
- Under this policy, MRP is fixed by the fertiliser companies as per market dynamics.
Bilateral & International Relations
MoU between India and Afghanistan on cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space
The Union Cabinet has given its ex-post facto approval to the MoU between India and Afghanistan on cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space.
- The MoU envisages cooperation between the two countries for application of space technologies in education, agriculture, weather forecasting, telecommunications, rural health, sanitation and urban development among others.
Benefits of this MoU:
- Development of space sector in Afghanistan.
- Burnish India’s credentials as a nation with advanced space technology, one that can also assist other countries.
- Afghanistan will move towards self-reliance in the space sector.
- Help deepen bilateral ties and mutual understanding and trust between India and Afghanistan.
- Provide India with a foothold in Afghanistan’s strategic space and communication sector.
- It will boost high-tech jobs in the two countries in both core Science & Technology and R&D fields, and also the field of implementation.
India approves MoU on IT collaboration with Vietnam
The Union Cabinet has given its ex-post facto approval to the MoU between India and Vietnam on Cooperation in the field of IT.
- The MoU aims to develop a long-term and sustainable cooperation on the basis of equality and mutual interest in the areas of IT in line with each country’s laws and regulations.
- Implementation of the MoU will result in significant mutual benefits in the IT sector, through institutional and capacity-building in the field of IT and Human Resource Development.
- The MoU will remain in force for a period of five years and will be renewable by mutual written consent between India and Vietnam.
- It will be implemented by establishing a Joint Working Group on IT with representatives from both the countries.
Science & Technology
ISRO launches remote sensing satellite RESOURCESAT-2A
ISRO has successfully launched remote sensing satellite Resourcesat-2A into its dedicated orbit.
- It was launched onboard of Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV)-C36 from first launch pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota.
- It was PSLV’s 38th flight and XL version of the rocket was used. It was the 37th consecutive successful flight of the rocket.
- Resourcesat-2A is a follow on mission to its predecessor remote sensing satellites Resourcesat-1 and Resourcesat-2, launched in 2003 and 2011 respectively.
- It is intended to continue the remote sensing data services to global users provided by it two predecessors.
- Resourcesat-2A weighs 1,235 kg and is placed into an 817 km polar sun synchronous orbit (i.e. orbiting pole-to-pole).
- The mission life of Resourcesat-2A is five years.
- It carries three payloads viz. high resolution Linear Imaging Self Scanner (LISS-4) camera, medium resolution LISS-3 camera, and coarse resolution Advanced Wide Field Sensor (AWiFS) camera.
- It also carries two Solid State Recorders with a capacity of 200 Giga Bits. Each of it can store the images taken by its cameras which can be read out later to ground stations.
Significance of Resourcesat-2A:
- The data sent by RESOURCESAT-2A will be useful for agricultural applications like crop area and crop production estimation, drought monitoring, soil mapping, cropping system analysis and farm advisories generation.
- The cameras installed on RESOURCESAT-2A will give regular micro and macro information on land and water bodies below, forests, farm lands and crop extent, coastal information, mineral deposits, rural and urban spreads besides helping in disaster management.
Key Facts for Prelims
Launch of Veterans Outreach Android App
- In an attempt to reach out to Army veterans, and create an interactive mechanism, Indian Army has launched a mobile app called “Veterans Outreach App”.
- This will provide certain specific facilities to Army Veterans & Veer Naris on their android based mobiles.
- The app was prepared under the Directorate of Indian Army Veterans (DIAV), which functions under the Adjutant General Branch and runs a web portal specifically meant for veterans and Veer Naris called ‘Indian Army Veterans Portal”.
- The has specific features like “Ask a question” and “Locator Services” that enable locating Ex-Serviceman Cells, ECHS Polyclinics, Station Canteens and Sainik Aram Garh’s all across the country.
- The app also facilitates route guidance on a google map to any chosen service facility.
- A link has also been provided to a “Pension Calculator” on the PCDA (P) web site called ‘Suvigyai’ which enables a veteran to check his/her pension entitlements.
- The App also facilitates “Findings Coursemates” from amongst veterans who are registered on the Indian Army Veterans Portal and thereby enabling them to reconnect with old mates.
- An additional feature incorporates providing links to various web portals run by Directorate General Recruiting, Directorate General Resettlement, Kendriya Sainik Board. Indian Army. Portal and Principle Controller of Defence Accounts.
India International Science Festival (IISF-2016)
- The 2016 India International Science festival (IISF) has started at CSIR-National Physical Laboratory (NPL) Campus in New Delhi.
- The theme of the science festival is “Science for the masses”.
- IISF-2016 has been organised by the Union Ministry of Science and Technology and Earth Sciences in association with Vijnana Bharati (VIBHA).
- The main aim is to promote the science and technology developed by the Indian research labs and to inculcate the scientific temper among masses.
- It also aims to encourage and develop scientific temper and attitude, promote exchange of knowledge and ideas among young minds.
- It will showcase recent developments and contributions of India in science and technology involving all our scientific departments.
- It will also showcase India’s S&T prowess, technological developments, history of Indian Science and science education involving more than 10000 young researchers, academicians and top level Indian scientists.