Polity & Governance
- Union Minister for Home Affairs to chair the 29th Meeting of the Northern Zonal Council
Government Schemes & Policies
- Cabinet Approves Promulgation Of Prohibition Of Electronic Cigarettes Ordinance
- DEPwD Launches MIS Portal Under Accessible India Campaign
Issues related to Health & Education
- Union HRD Minister launches WAWE Summit 2019 and other initiatives of AICTE
Bilateral & International Relations
- 63rd General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
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Polity & Governance
Union Minister for Home Affairs to chair the 29th Meeting of the Northern Zonal Council
Union Minister for Home Affairs will be chairing the 29th meeting of the Northern Zonal Council (NZC) at Chandigarh, on September 20, 2019.
- The Northern Zonal Council comprises of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, and Rajasthan, Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmi, Ladakh and Delhi.
ABOUT THE ZONAL COUNCILS
- Zonal Councils are advisory councils and are made up of the states of India have been grouped into six zones to foster cooperation among them. They are:
- Northern Zonal Council
- North-Central Zonal Council
- North-Eastern Zonal Council
- Eastern Zonal Council
- Western Zonal Council
- Southern Zonal Council
- Five Zonal Councils were set up vide Part-III of the States Reorganisation Act, 1956.
- The North Eastern States’ special problems are addressed by another statutory body – The North Eastern Council, created by the North Eastern Council Act, 1971.
- Northern Zonal Council consists of the States of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan, National Capital Territory of Delhi and Union Territory of Chandigarh.
FUNCTIONS OF THE COUNCILS
- Each Zonal Council is an advisory body and may discuss any matter in which some or all of the States represented in that Council have a common interest and advise the Central Government and the Government of each State concerned as to the action to be taken on any such matter.
In particular, a Zonal Council may discuss, and make recommendations with regard to:
- Any matter of common interest in the field of economic and social planning;
- Any matter concerning border disputes, linguistic minorities or inter-State transport;
- Any matter connected with or arising out of, the re-organization of the States under the States Reorganisation Act.
ORGANISATIONAL STRUCTURE OF ZONAL COUNCILS
- Chairman – The Union Home Minister is the Chairman of each of these Councils.
- Vice Chairman– The Chief Ministers of the States included in each zone act as Vice-Chairman of the Zonal Council for that zone by rotation, each holding office for a period of one year at a time.
- Members– Chief Minister and two other Ministers as nominated by the Governor from each of the States and two members from Union Territories included in the zone.
- Advisers– One person nominated by the Planning Commission for each of the Zonal Councils, Chief Secretaries and another officer/Development Commissioner nominated by each of the States included in the Zone
Government Schemes & Policies
Cabinet Approves Promulgation Of Prohibition Of Electronic Cigarettes Ordinance
In a major health and wellness initiative for the country, the Union Cabinet has approved the Promulgation of the Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes (production, manufacture, import, export, transport, sale, distribution, storage and advertisement) Ordinance, 2019.
- Upon promulgation of the Ordinance, any production, manufacturing, import, export, transport, sale (including online sale), distribution or advertisement (including online advertisement) of e-cigarettes shall be a cognizable offence.
REASON FOR BAN
- Highly addictive nature of nicotine
- Safety concern of flavours in combination with nicotine
- Risk of use of other psychoactive substances through these devices
- Initiation of nicotine or psychoactive substances by non-smokers, especially adolescents and youth
- Dual use of e-cigarettes and conventional cigarettes
- Scant scientific evidence for use of e-cigarettes as effective tobacco cessation aids;
- Threat to country’s tobacco control efforts;
- Hindrance in achieving the targets envisaged under Sustainable Development Goals, National Monitoring Framework for Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases and National Health Policy, 2017
HOW WILL THIS ORDINANCE BE IMPLEMENTED?
- The Sub-Inspector of Police has been designated as the Authorized Officer to take action under the Ordinance.
- The Central or State Governments may also designate any other equivalent officer(s) as Authorized Officer for enforcement of the provisions of the Ordinance.
WHAT IS AN E-CIGARETTE?
- E-cigarettes are battery powered devices that work by heating a liquid into an aerosol (suspension of fine solid particles/liquid droplets in air) that the user inhales and exhales.
- Electronic-cigarettes include all forms of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS), Heat Not Burn Products, e-Hookah and the like devices.
- The main components of the liquid vaporized are nicotine, propylene glycol or glycerol, and flavourings.
- e-cigarettes have documented adverse effects on humans including DNA damage, carcinogenic, cellular, molecular and immunological toxicity, respiratory, cardiovascular and neurological disorders and adverse impact on fetal development and pregnancy.
PROHIBITION OF NICOTINE
- Nicotine is prohibited for use Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Food Safety and Standards Act 2006.
- Nicotine and Nicotine Sulphate are listed as hazardous chemicals in the Manufacture, Storage and Import of Hazardous Chemical Rules, 1989 made under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
- Nicotine is also Listed as an insecticide in the Schedule of insecticides under the Insecticide Act 1968.
- However, The Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 & Rules, 1945 permit the use of Nicotine up to 2 mg and 4 mg in gums, Iozenges and strips, which may be used as aids for Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT).
ARGUMENTS AGAINST E-CIGARETTES
- E-cigarettes contained not only nicotine solution, which is highly addictive, but also harmful ingredients such as flavoring agents and vaporizers.
- While e-cigarettes typically have fewer chemicals than regular cigarettes, they may still contain heavy metals like lead which is poisonous.
- Quitting of tobacco due to the usage of e-cigarettes have not been firmly established.
- There is evidence that there is risk of people continuing to use both them as well as tobacco products. In fact, dual users are at greater risk of heart attacks.
- Various flavors and attractive designs are adding to the allure the users. There is an increasing trend for the use of e-cigarettes among youth and adolescents in many countries which is harmful to their health.
- These devices could encourage non-smokers to get addicted to tobacco.
- Studies have found that youths using e-cigarettes and other such devices are more likely to use regular cigarettes later.
- Even though warnings on many ENDS products clearly indicate that they cannot provide alternative to smoking, e-cigarettes are often falsely promoted as alternative to smoking.
- The Tobacco industry claims that the sale of ENDS products does not violate any regulations despite the fact that the companies are in clear violation of WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control which prohibits the sale of any product that appeals to minors.
- E-cigarettes have caused fires and explosions resulting in injuries, loss of lives and property. Further, their accidental ingestion by children has also caused some deaths.
ARGUMENT IN FAVOUR OF E-CIGARETTES
- E- cigarettes produce far fewer carcinogens than traditional cigarettes. Since e-cigarettes use vapor technology, they expose users to fewer carcinogens.
- In multiple studies and surveys, e-cigarettes have been shown to potentially help smokers to reduce their habit or to quit altogether.
- The second-hand effects (unintentional inhalation of vapor by a person from another person using e-cigarettes) are far less harmful than traditional cigarettes. Though second-hand vapor exists, the levels of smoke and second-hand effects of vaping are magnitudes lower than traditional smoking.
- They are more socially acceptable and do not smell. E-cigarettes provide the same experience and sensation for smokers but can be used in far more places.
- They are a cheaper alternative to smoking. While this has not been extensively researched, studies in the U.K. and the U.S. show that vaping habits can be up to 40 percent less expensive than cigarette smoking habits.
- ENDS and vaping products are sold across about 70 countries around the world and there are clear laws that regulate ENDS.
- The Delhi High Court and the Bombay High Court in their orders of March 2019 and July 2019 respectively have held that ENDS are not drugs and therefore cannot be banned under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 and hence no proceedings can be initiated against the manufacturers, sellers and importers of ENDS.
- Instead of bringing in an ordinance to ban products which may not necessarily be harmful, it would be better if we lay down standards and regulate such products so that there is appropriate quality control and we safeguard public health besides attracting investments.
DEPwD Launches MIS Portal Under Accessible India Campaign
The Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD) under Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has developed a Management Information System (MIS) for stakeholders of Accessible India Campaign (AIC).
ABOUT ACCESSIBLE INDIA CAMPAIGN (AIC)
- Accessible India Campaign (Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan) is a nation-wide Campaign launched by Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD) to provide universal accessibility to persons with disabilities.
It has the following three important components:
- Built Environment Accessibility
- Transportation System Accessibility
- Information and Communication Eco-System Accessibility
- India is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). UNCRPD casts an obligation on all the signatory governments to take appropriate measures to ensure to persons with disabilities access, on an equal basis with others.
- Accessible India Campaign is in line with the Article 9 of UNCRPD to which India is a signatory since 2007.
- Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995 categorically provides for non-discrimination in transport, non-discrimination on the road and non-discrimination in built environment.
- Governments at the High Level Inter Governmental Meeting organized by the Korea adopted the Incheon Strategy to ‘Make the Right Real’ for PwDs in Asia and Pacific. The Strategy comprises 10 goals, 27 targets and 62 indicators, which build on UNCRPD.
Issues related to Health & Education
Union HRD Minister launches WAWE Summit 2019 and other initiatives of AICTE
Union Human Resource Development Minister launched several initiatives of All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) including Facilitation through Margadarshan and Margadarshak, Model Curriculum for Diploma Courses, Waste Management Accelerator for Aspiring Women Entrepreneurs (WAWE Summit 2019) and 360-degree Feedback of Faculty.
ABOUT WASTE MANAGEMENT ACCELERATOR FOR ASPIRING WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS (WAWE) SUMMIT 2019
- It will be jointly organized by All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and Institute of Waste Management (IIWM) at Jaipur in November-December 2019.
- It will be the largest gathering of young women students to promote entrepreneurship in waste management and providing alternatives to single use plastic carry bags.
- Theme of the summit will be: Make your own bag
- Under this scheme, institutions having good accreditation record will mentor newer 10 – 12 potential institutions.
- These institutions are also provided funding upto Rs. 50 lakhs per institution over a period of three years for carrying out various activities.
- Best practices in teaching learning process followed in mentor institute are diffused to mentee institutions.
- Under this scheme, mentor teachers (Margdarshaks) who are either serving or superannuated will regularly visit to the mentee institutions and guide them for their improvement in quality so that institutions are able to get accreditation by National Board of Accreditation (NBA).
SELECTION OF MENTEE INSTITUTES:
- In the 1st phase, institutes having student enrolment of 70% or more and willing to get mentoring through AICTE’s Margadarshaks but are not yet accredited are provided Margadarshaks.
- Remaining institutes can be covered in the subsequent phases. Willingness of mentee institutes is taken. However, response giving willingness to be a Mentee institute has been received from 400 institutes only to date.
CRITERIA FOR MARGADARSHAKS:
- Must be a Ph.D.
- Should be from Technical Education (Engg.) Domain
- Min experience 20 years; Not less than 5 years in academicsAnd
- Designation not less than Professor if from AICTE approved institution Or
- Not less than Associate Professor if from IIT/NIT And
- Minimum 10 Research Publications Or
- Minimum 05 Ph.D. Guidance Or
- Minimum 2 Patents Or
- Minimum 2 Books written And
- Member NBA visit team / NAAC visit team Or
- Participated in accreditation of his/her own department at least for 2 cycles
- Persons from industry with passion for education & who are NBA/NAAC team members
- Applicants should have time to visit institutes
Bilateral & International Relations
63rd General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission and Secretary attended the 63rd General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) at Vienna.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE CHAIRMAN’S SPEECH
- India’s Kaiga Atomic Power Station, Karnataka has set a new world record of continuous operation for 962 days on 31 December 2018.
- Tarapur Atomic Power Station Units (1969) are currently the oldest operating power reactors in the world.
- Out of 19 programmes organized at the Global Centre for Nuclear Energy Partnership in India in 2018-19, eight were conducted jointly with the IAEA, thus reinforcing India’s collaboration with IAEA in capacity building.
- India has plan for capacity addition in nuclear power generation and presently have 21 reactors under the stage of construction and planning. This will help in achieving an additional capacity of about 15,000 MWe.
- Apsara-U, an upgraded swimming pool type reactor, operational since September 2018, can produce carrier free Cu-64 radioisotope, which has potential for usage in Positron emission tomography (PET) scans.
- The U-233 fuelled Kalpakkam Mini Reactor (KAMINI) is being used for neutron radiography of a large number of pyro-devices from the Indian Space Research Organization, activation analysis, neutron detector testing, etc.
- National Cancer Grid (NCG) managed by Tata Memorial Centre (TMC), was established in 2012 for creating uniform standards of cancer care across India. NCG-Vishwam Cancer Care Connect” (NCG-Vishwam 3C) was launched recently for integration of the hospitals and relevant cancer care institutes in partner countries with the National Cancer Grid (NCG) of India.
ABOUT INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY (IAEA)
- The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is an international organization that seeks to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and to inhibit its use for any military purpose, including nuclear weapons.
- The IAEA was established as an autonomous organization in 1957 in response to the deep fears generated by the diverse uses of nuclear technology.
- It is the world’s central intergovernmental forum for scientific and technical co-operation in the nuclear field.
- Though established independently of the United Nations through its own international treaty, the IAEA Statute, the IAEA reports to both the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council.
- The IAEA has its headquarters in Vienna, Austria.
- The IAEA has two regional safeguards offices which are located in Toronto, Canada, and in Tokyo, Japan.
- The IAEA and its former Director General, Mohamed ElBaradei, were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.
General Conference of IAEA:
- 169 member states — one vote per member.
- Forum for debate on current issues and policies.
- Meets once a year.
- Approve the actions and budgets passed on from the Board of Governors.
- Approves the nominee for Director General.
Board of Governors:
- 22 member states (must represent a stipulated geographic diversity) — elected by the General Conference (11 members every year) – 2 year term.
- At least 10 member states — nominated by the outgoing Board.
- Board members each receive one vote.
- Recommendations to the General Conference on IAEA activities and budget.
- Responsible for publishing IAEA standards.
- Responsible for making most of the policy of the IAEA.
- Appoints the Director General subject to General Conference approval.
Programs of IAEA:
- Program of Action for Cancer Therapy (PACT).
- Human Health Program.
- Water Availability Enhancement Project.
- International Project on Innovative Nuclear Reactors and Fuel Cycles, 2000.