Polity & Governance
- PM reiterates commitment for “Housing for All” by 2022 in PRAGATI meeting
Government Schemes & Policies
- Rajya Sabha passes amendments to Motor Vehicles Bill
Issues related to Health & Education
- Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) launches Atal Community Innovation Centre (ACIC) Program
- OBC categories commission receives 2-month extension
Bilateral & International Relations
- Cabinet approves signing of the UNISA
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Polity & Governance
PM reiterates commitment for “Housing for All” by 2022 in PRAGATI meeting
The Prime Minister chaired his thirtieth interaction through PRAGATI – the ICT-based, multi-modal platform for Pro-Active Governance and Timely Implementation.
- PRAGATI (Pro-Active Governance And Timely Implementation) is a unique integrating and interactive platform.
- The platform is aimed at addressing common man’s grievances, and simultaneously monitoring and reviewing important programmes and projects of the Government of India as well as projects flagged by State Governments.
- With this, the Prime Minister is able to discuss the issues with the concerned Central and State officials with full information and latest visuals of the ground level situation.
- The PRAGATI platform uniquely bundles three latest technologies: Digital data management, video-conferencing and geo-spatial technology.
- It also offers a unique combination in the direction of cooperative federalism since it brings the Secretaries of Government of India and the Chief Secretaries of the States on one stage.
KEY FEATURES OF PRAGATI:
- It is a three-tier system (PMO, Union Government Secretaries, and Chief Secretaries of the States).
- Issues to be flagged before the PM are picked up from the available database regarding Public Grievances, on-going Programmes and pending Projects.
- The system will ride on, strengthen and re-engineer the data bases of the Centralized Public Grievance Redress and Monitoring System (CPGRAMS) for grievances, Project Monitoring Group (PMG) and the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation. PRAGATI provides an interface and platform for all these three aspects.
- It is also a robust system for bringing e-transparency and e-accountability with real-time presence and exchange among the key stakeholders.
- The system has been designed in-house by the PMO team with the help of National Informatics Center (NIC).
Government Schemes & Policies
Rajya Sabha passes amendments to Motor Vehicles Bill
The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was passed by Rajya Sabha aiming at improving road safety, facilitate citizens in their dealings with transport departments, strengthen rural transport, public transport and last mile connectivity.
KEY AMENDMENTS OF THE BILL:
- The Bill mandates automated fitness testing for vehicles. This would reduce corruption in the transport department while improving the road worthiness of the vehicle.
- The testing agencies issuing automobile approvals have been brought under the ambit of the Act and standards will be set for motor vehicle testing institutes.
Compensation for road accident victims:
- The central government will develop a scheme for cashless treatment of road accident victims during golden hour. The Bill defines ‘golden hour’ as the time period of up to one hour following a traumatic injury, during which the likelihood of preventing death through prompt medical care is the highest.
- The central government may also make a scheme for providing interim relief to claimants seeking compensation under third party insurance.
- The Bill increases the minimum compensation for hit and run cases as follows: (i) in case of death, from Rs 25,000 to two lakh rupees, and (ii) in case of grievous injury, from Rs 12,500 to Rs 50,000.
Motor Vehicle Accident Fund
- The Bill requires the central government to constitute a Motor Vehicle Accident Fund to provide compulsory insurance cover to all road users in India.
- The fund will be utilized for treatment of persons injured in road accidents as per the golden hour scheme, compensation to representatives of a person who died in a hit and run accident etc.
- This Fund will be credited through payment of a nature notified by the central government, (ii) a loan made by the central government, (iii) balance of the Solatium Fund (existing fund under the Act to provide compensation for hit and run accidents), or any other source.
- The Bill defines a good samaritan as a person who renders emergency medical or non-medical assistance to a victim at the scene of an accident.
- Such a person will not be liable for any civil or criminal action for any injury to or death of an accident victim caused due to their negligence in providing assistance to the victim.
Recall of vehicles:
- The Bill allows the central government to order for recall of motor vehicles if a defect in the vehicle may cause damage to the environment, or the driver or other road users.
- The manufacturer of the recalled vehicle will be required to reimburse the buyers for the full cost of the vehicle or replace the defective vehicle with another vehicle.
National Transportation Policy:
- The central government may develop a National Transportation Policy to establish a planning framework for road transport, develop a framework for grant of permits, and specify priorities for the transport system among other things.
Road Safety Board:
- The Bill provides for the creation of National Road Safety Board to advise the central and state governments on all aspects of road safety and traffic management.
Offences and penalties:
- The Bill increases penalties for several offences under the Act. For example, the maximum penalty for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs has been increased from Rs 2,000 to Rs 10,000.
- If a vehicle manufacturer fails to comply with motor vehicle standards, the penalty will be a fine of up to Rs 100 crore, or imprisonment of up to one year, or both.
- If a contractor fails to comply with road design standards, the penalty will be a fine of up to one lakh rupees.
- The Bill defines aggregators as digital intermediaries or market places which can be used by passengers to connect with a driver for transportation purposes (taxi services).
- These aggregators will be issued licenses by state. Further, they must comply with the Information Technology Act, 2000.
ANALYSIS OF THE BILL:
- With a Fund already existing to provide compensation for hit and run accidents, the purpose of the new Accident Fund is unclear.
- State governments will issue licenses to taxi aggregators as per central government guidelines. Currently, state governments determine guidelines for plying of taxis. There could be cases where state taxi guidelines are at variance with the central guidelines on aggregators.
- While the penalties for contravening provisions of the proposed scheme on interim relief to accident victims are specified in the Bill, the offences that would warrant such penalties have not been specified. It may be argued that imposing penalties without knowing the nature of the offences is unreasonable.
- States also have concerns about their powers being curtailed in the Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill.
Issues related to Health & Education
Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) launches Atal Community Innovation Centre (ACIC) Program
the Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), flagship initiative of NITI Aayog, launched the Atal Community Innovation Centre (ACIC) program.
ABOUT THE ATAL COMMUNITY INNOVATION CENTRE (ACIC):
- The purpose of ACIC is to enable establishment of socially inclusive innovation ecosystem as well as to encourage equitable distribution of necessary infrastructure for stimulating innovation across the country.
- The program would focus in over 484 districts, located in unserved/underserved regions of India.
- ACIC program will be connected to every Panchayati Raj Institutions to help innovators become part of the policy framework and leverage their creativity to translate their products/ services into innovation led commercial utilization for society.
- It will encourage innovation in domestic power sector by using non-fossil and sustainable sources of energy.
- ACIC will be established either in PPP mode or with support of PSUs and other agencies.
- The maximum grant-in-aid support form AIM will be up to 2.5 crores subject following compliance to ACIC guidelines and contributing matching form the host institutions and their funding partner(s).
ABOUT ATAL INNOVATION MISSION (AIM):
- AIM is flagship initiative to promote culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in country.
- Its sub-schemes include establishing Atal Tinkering Labs (ATLs) and Atal Incubation Centers (AICs), for providing scaling up support to Established Incubation Centres.
- It also includes finding ultra-low cost solution to India’s most intractable problems through Atal Grand Challenges and Atal Vikas Challenges.
- Develop new programmes and policies for fostering innovation in different sectors of economy.
- Provide platform and collaboration opportunities for different stakeholders, create awareness.
- Create umbrella structure to oversee innovation ecosystem of the country.
FUNCTIONS OF AIM:
- Entrepreneurship promotion through Self-Employment and Talent Utilization, wherein innovators would be supported and mentored to become successful entrepreneurs.
- Innovation promotion to provide a platform where innovative ideas are generated.
- The Mission has undertaken many bold and forward-looking initiatives such as Atal Tinkering Labs (ATL) and Atal Incubation Centres (AIC), which have received great traction;
- Many Ministries/Departments of Government of India have initiated innovation related activities with the help and technical support of AIM.
- Under the ATL program, more than 10,000 schools are expected to establish these labs by 2020.
- More than 100 Atal Incubation Centres (AICs) are likely to established around the country, supporting at least 50-60 startups each over the first five years.
- More than 100 innovators/startups are expected to receive some support for productizing their innovations.
- Each incubator is expected to foster 50-60 technology driven innovative Startups every four years.
- The potential for employment generation from these innovations driven Startups is quite high.
WHAT ARE ATAL TINKERING LABS?
- With a vision to ‘Cultivate one Million children in India as Neoteric Innovators’, Atal Innovation Mission established Atal Tinkering Laboratories (ATLs) in schools across India.
KEY FEATURES OF ATL:
- ATL is a work space where young minds can give shape to their ideas through hands on do-it-yourself mode; and learn innovation skills.
- Young children will get a chance to work with tools and equipment to understand the concepts of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).
- ATL would contain educational and learning ‘do it yourself’ kits and equipment on – science, electronics, robotics, open source microcontroller boards, sensors and 3D printers and computers.
- AIM will provide grant-in-aid that includes a one-time establishment cost of Rs. 10 lakh and operational expenses of 10 lakhs for a maximum period of 5 years to each ATL.
- Schools (Grade VI – XII) managed by Government, local body or private trusts/society to set up ATL
OBC categories commission receives 2-month extension
A commission appointed in 2017 to examine the sub-categorisation of the Other Backward Classes (OBC) has been given a two-month extension by President.
- Article 14 of the Constitution guarantees equality before the law. That means un-equals cannot be treated equally. Measures are required to be taken for the upliftment of un-equals to bring them on par with the advanced classes.
- In view of this, the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) proposed the sub-categorisation of Other Backward Classes (OBCs) back in 2015.
- In October 2017, President Ram Nath Kovind, in exercise of the powers conferred by Article 340 of the Constitution, appointed a commission to examine the issue of sub-categorisation of OBCs, chaired by retired Justice G. Rohini, to ensure social justice in an efficient manner by prioritising the Extremely Backward Classes (EBCs).
ABOUT THE COMMISSION:
- A commission was constituted in 2017 under Article 340 of the constitution to examine the issue of Sub-categorization within other Backward Classes in the Central List.
- The extension was given by six months beyond 31st July, 2019 and up to 31st January, 2020.
OBJECTIVE OF THE COMMISSION:
- To identify the respective castes or communities or sub-castes or synonyms in the Central List of OBCs and classifying them into their respective sub-categories.
- Working out the mechanism, criteria, norms and parameters in a scientific approach for sub-categorization within OBCs.
To know more about Sub-categorization of Other Backward Classes (OBCs), refer IASToppers’ Mains Article Click here:https://www.iastoppers.com/sub-categorization-backward-classes-obcs-mains-article/[Ref: PIB, The Hindu]
Bilateral & International Relations
Cabinet approves signing of the UNISA
The Union Cabinet has approved the signing of the United Nations Convention on International Settlement Agreements (UNISA) resulting from mediation by the Republic of India scheduled to be held at Singapore on 7th August, 2019, or at United Nations Headquarters.
- Signing of the Convention will boost the confidence of the investors and shall provide a positive signal to foreign investors about India’s commitment to adhere to international practice on Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).
INITIATIVES TO PROMOTE ADR MECHANISMS:
- In order to encourage international commercial arbitration in India, the Government is establishing the New Delhi International Arbitration Centre (NDIAC) as a statutory body.
- These initiatives are being taken with a view to encourage the settlement of commercial disputes, domestic and international, in India through ADR Mechanism of Arbitration, Conciliation and Mediation.
- For this, the amendments in the Commercial Courts Act, 2015 (addition of mandatory pre-institution mediation and settlement in certain category of cases) and Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 is currently underway.
ABOUT UNITED NATIONS CONVENTION ON INTERNATIONAL SETTLEMENT AGREEMENTS (UNISA)
- The United Nations General Assembly adopted the United Nations Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation in 2018.
- The General Assembly authorized that the Convention will open for signature at a signing ceremony to be held in August 2019 in Singapore and will be known as the “Singapore Convention on Mediation” (the Convention).
- The Convention provides a uniform framework for the enforcement of international settlement agreements resulting from mediation and for allowing parties to invoke such agreements, similar to the framework that the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (New York Convention, 1958) provides for arbitral awards.
- The Convention defines two additional grounds upon which a court may, on its own motion, refuse to grant relief. Those grounds relate to the fact that a dispute would not be capable of settlement by mediation or would be contrary to public policy.