Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 14 February 2019


Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 14 February 2019


Relevant articles from PIB:

Paper 2:

Topics Covered:

  1. Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

Registration of Marriage of NRI Bill, 2019

What to study?

  • For Prelims: Key features of the Bill.
  • For Mains: Significance and the need for a legislation on this.

Context: The Union Cabinet has approved the introduction of Registration of Marriage of Non-Resident Indian (NRI) Bill, 2019 to create more accountability to Indian citizens living abroad.

Objective of the bill: To offer more protection against the exploitation of Indian citizens, mostly Indian women by their NRI partners.

Key provisions:

  1. Amendment of the legal framework to act as a deterrent to the erring NRI spouses and creating more accountability and offer protection against exploitation of Indian Citizens, especially women married to NRIs.
  2. Registration: Under the new bill, a marriage between an NRI and an Indian citizen will have to be registered in India or Indian missions and posts abroad within 30 days from the date of marriage. If the marriage isn’t registered within 30 days, the passport of the NRI will be revoked, summons and warrant be issued.
  3. Section 86A: After the bill’s passing, the necessary changes would be carried out in the Passports Act, 1967 and Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 by insertion of Section 86A.
  4. The bill would amend the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, solving a major problem of serving judicial summons for court proceedings in India.

Significance and impact of the legislation:

The Bill would offer great protection to Indian citizens married to NRIs and serve as a deterrent to NRIs against harassment of their spouses.

Need for a legislation on this:

  1. The bill has been introduced with the hope of restricting NRI husbands from using marriage as a tool of exploitation and making money and providing better enforcement of rights for the deserted woman under the family laws.
  2. The introduction of the Bill was necessitated due to numerous complaints received from Indian nationals mostly women, who were deserted or harassed by their Non-Resident Indian Spouses.
  3. Since marriage takes place outside India, there are no records or legal documents for further procedures to be initiated against the offender.

Paper 2:

Topics Covered:

  1. Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Actions undertaken to tackle climate change

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Highlights and overview of the measures taken.

Context: The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has released a publication titled “India – Spearheading Climate Solutions” on climate actions in India.

The publication mentions the key initiatives undertaken by India under various sectors towards combating and adapting to climate change.

Major initiatives of the Government towards combating climate change:

National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC): The Action plan covers eight major missions on Solar, Enhanced Energy Efficiency, Sustainable Habitat, Water, Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem, Green India, Sustainable Agriculture and Strategic Knowledge on Climate Change.

International Solar Alliance (ISA): ISA was jointly launched by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and the then President of France, Francois Hollande in Paris on the side-lines of CoP 21 in 2015. The vision and mission of the alliance is to provide a dedicated platform for cooperation among solar resource rich countries that lie completely or partial between the Tropics of Capricorn & Cancer.

State Action Plan on Climate Change (SAPCC): State governments have drafted climate strategies aligned with the eight National Missions under the NAPCC. The strategies focus on issues ranging from climate mitigation, energy efficiency, and resource conservation to climate adaptation.

FAME Scheme for E-mobility: Union Government in April 2015 launched Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric vehicles (FAME) – India Scheme with an aim to boost sales of eco-friendly vehicles in the country. It is a part of the National Mission for Electric Mobility.

Atal Mission for Rejuvenation & Urban Transformation (AMRUT) for Smart Cities.

Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana: The scheme provides LPG connections to five crore below-poverty-line beneficiaries. The connections are given in the name of women beneficiaries to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels and conventional fuel like cow dung for cooking food, thus reducing air pollution.

UJALA scheme: The scheme was launched by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi in January 2015 with a target of replacing 77 crore incandescent lamps with LED bulbs. The usage of LED bulbs will not only result in reducing electricity bills but also help in environment protection.

Swachh Bharat Mission: Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Movement) is a campaign that was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 2, 2014. The campaign seeks to clean the streets, roads and infrastructure of the country’s 4041 statutory cities and towns.


Paper 2:

Topics Covered:

  1. Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

Personal Laws (Amendment) Bill 2019

What to study?

  • For Prelims: Key features of the Bill and about Leprosy.
  • For Mains: Significance and the need for a legislation on this, social taboo associated with leprosy and the need for its elimination.

Context: The Parliament has passed the Personal Laws (Amendment Bill), 2018 that seeks to remove leprosy as a ground for divorce. Leprosy is being removed as a ground for divorce as it is now a curable disease as against the earlier notion of it being incurable.

Objectives of the bill:

  1. To uphold the rights of people with leprosy as the disease is curable.
  2. To amend five personal laws- the Hindu Marriage Act 1955, Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act 1939, Divorce Act (for Christians) 1869, Special Marriage Act 1954 and the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act 1956- to remove leprosy as a ground for divorce.

Various efforts in this regard:

  1. The first attempt towards eliminating the bias against people suffering from the disease was made in 2008 when the National Human Rights Commission had underlined the need to make amendments in certain personal laws and other legislations.
  2. In 2010, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a Resolution on the ‘Elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members’, which was signed and ratified by India.
  3. Subsequently, the 20th Law Commission of India in its 256th Report titled “Eliminating Discrimination Against Persons Affected by Leprosy” had recommended repeal of laws and provisions that were discriminatory against leprosy-affected people.
  4. In 2014, the Supreme Court had also asked the Centre and the state governments to take the necessary steps for rehabilitation and integration of leprosy-affected people into the mainstream including the steps to repeal the provisions where leprosy has been treated as a stigmatic disability.

Need for a legislation in this regard:

Over 110 Central and State laws discriminate against leprosy patients. These laws stigmatise and isolate leprosy patients and, coupled with age-old beliefs about leprosy, cause the patients untold suffering.

The biased provisions in these statutes were introduced prior to medical advancements. Now, modern medicine specifically, multi-drug therapy (MDT) completely cures the disease.

Leprosy:

Leprosy is a chronic infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae. It usually affects the skin and peripheral nerves, but has a wide range of clinical manifestations.

The disease is characterized by long incubation period generally 5-7 years and is classified as paucibacillary or mulitbacillary, depending on the bacillary load. Leprosy is a leading cause of permanent physical disability.

Timely diagnosis and treatment of cases, before nerve damage has occurred, is the most effective way of preventing disability due to leprosy.


Paper 2:

Topics Covered:

  1. Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Credit linked capital subsidy scheme

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Key features, need and significance of the scheme.

Context: The Central government will continue the “Credit Linked Capital Subsidy and Technology Upgradation Scheme” for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) beyond the 12th Plan period for three years from 2017-18 to 2019-20.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved the continuation of the scheme with a total outlay of Rs 2,900 crore.

Credit Linked Capital Subsidy Scheme:

  1. The objective of the Scheme is to facilitate technology up-gradation in MSMEs by providing an upfront capital subsidy of 15 per cent (on institutional finance of up to Rs 1 crore availed by them) for induction of well-established and improved technology in the specified 51 sub-sectors/products approved.
  2. The major objective is to upgrade their plant & machinery with state-of-the-art technology, with or without expansion and also for new MSEs which have set up their facilities with appropriate eligible and proven technology duly approved under scheme guidelines.
  3. The Scheme is a demand driven one without any upper limit on overall annual spending on the subsidy disbursal.

Nature of assistance:

The revised scheme aims at facilitating technology up-gradation by providing 15% up front capital subsidy to MSMEs, including tiny, khadi, village and coir industrial units, on institutional finance availed by them for induction of well-established and improved technologies in specified sub-sectors/products approved under the scheme.

Mains Question: Analyze whether the slew of measures meant to aid the MSME sector to address their woes have come too little too late?


Paper 2:

Topics Covered:

  1. Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
  2. Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

National Commission for Safai Karmacharis

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: NCSK- objectives, composition and significance.

Context: The Union Cabinet has approved the proposal for Extension of tenure of the National Commission for Safai Karmacharis(NCSK) beyond 31.3.2019 for three years.

Background:

  • The NCSK was established in the year 1993 as per the provisions of the NCSK Act 1993 initially for the period upto 1997.
  • Later the validity of the Act was initially extended upto 2002 and thereafter upto 2004. The NCSK Act ceased to have effect from 2004.
  • After that the tenure of the NCSK has been extended as a non-statutory body from time to time. The tenure of the present Commission is upto 31.3.2019.

Role of NCSK:

  1. Recommend to the Government regarding specific programmes for welfare of Safai Karamcharis, study and evaluate the existing welfare programmes for SafaiKaramcharis, investigate cases of specific grievances etc.
  2. Also as per the provisions of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, the NCSK has been assigned the work to monitor the implementation of the Act, tender advice for its effective implementation to the Centre and State Governments and enquire into complaints regarding contravention/non-implementation of the provisions of the Act.

Major impact:

The major beneficiaries of the proposal would be the Safai Karamcharis and persons engaged in manual scavenging in the country since the NCSK will work for their welfare and upliftment.

Though the Government has taken many steps for the upliftment of the SafaiKaramcharis, the deprivation suffered by them in socio-economic and educational terms is still far from being eliminated. Further the practice of manual scavenging is still prevalent in the country and its eradication continues to be an area of the highest priority for the Government.


e-AUSHADHI portal

Context: Ministry of State (IC) for AYUSH, launched the e-AUSHADHI portal, for online licensing of Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and Homoeopathy drugs and related matters.

Key facts:

  1. e-AUSHADHI portal is intended for increased transparency, improved information management facility, improved data usability and increased accountability.
  2. Timelines will be fixed for processing of application through this portal with SMS and e-mail status updates at each step of the process.
  3. It will provide real-time information of the licensed manufactures and their products, cancelled and spurious drugs, contact details of the concerned authority for specific grievances.

Relevant Articles from various News Papers:

Paper 2:

Topics Covered:

  1. Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

Citizenship, Triple Talaq Bills Lapse in Rajya Sabha as House Adjourns Sine Die

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: All about Bills in the Parliament, how are they passed and how do they lapse?

Context: The contentious Citizenship (amendment) Bill and the one on banning triple talaq are set to lapse on June 3 when the term of the present Lok Sabha ends as they could not be passed in the Rajya Sabha which has adjourned sine die.

The Budget session was the last Parliament session of the present government. The 17th Lok Sabha has to be constituted before June 3.

When Does a Bill Lapse in Indian Parliament?

Articles 107 and 108 of the Indian Constitution deal with these provisions.

When the Lok Sabha is dissolved, all business including bills, motions, resolutions, notices, petitions and so on pending before it or its committees lapse. They must be reintroduced in the newly-constituted Lok Sabha to be pursued further.

Cases when a bill lapse:

  1. A bill originated in the Lok Sabha but pending in the Lok Sabha – lapses.
  2. A bill originated and passed by the Rajya Sabha but pending in Lok Sabha – lapses.
  3. A bill originated and passed by the Lok Sabha but pending in the Rajya Sabha – lapses.
  4. A bill originated in the Rajya Sabha and returned to that House by the Lok Sabha with amendments and still pending in the Rajya Sabha on the date of the dissolution of Lok Sabha- lapses.

Cases when a bill does not lapse:

  1. A bill pending in the Rajya Sabha but not passed by the Lok Sabha does not lapse.
  2. If the president has notified the holding of a joint sitting before the dissolution of Lok Sabha, does not lapse.
  3. A bill passed by both Houses but pending assent of the president does not lapse.
  4. A bill passed by both Houses but returned by the president for reconsideration of Rajya Sabha does not lapse.
  5. Some pending bills and all pending assurances that are to be examined by the Committee on Government Assurances do not lapse on the dissolution of the Lok Sabha.

Key facts:

  1. Adjournment (of a sitting) does not affect the bills or any other business pending before the House and the same can be resumed when the House meets again.
  2. Prorogation (of a session) does not affect the bills or any other business pending before the House. However, all pending notices (other than those for introducing bills) lapse on prorogation and fresh notices have to be given for the next session.

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 2 and 3:

Topics Covered:

  1. Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
  2. Conservation related issues.

National Board for Wildlife (NBWL)

What to study?

  • For Prelims: NBWL- objectives, composition and functions.
  • For Mains: Role and significance of NBWL in awarding environment clearances, need for reforms.

Context: India’s apex National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) has cleared 682 of the 687 projects (99.82%) that came up for scrutiny. Only five projects were rejected since August 2014.

About National Board for Wildlife:

  1. It is a “Statutory Organization” constituted under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
  2. Its roles is “advisory” in nature and advises the Central Government on framing policies and measures for conservation of wildlife in the country.
  3. Primary function of the Board is to promote the conservation and development of wildlife and forests.
  4. It has power to review all wildlife-related matters and approve projects in and around national parks and sanctuaries.
  5. No alternation of boundaries in national parks and wildlife sanctuaries can be done without approval of the NBWL.
  6. Composition: The NBWL is chaired by the Prime Minister. It has 47 members including the Prime Minister. Among these, 19 members are ex-officio members. Other members include three Members of Parliament (two from Lok Sabha and one from Rajya Sabha), five NGOs and 10 eminent ecologists, conservationists and environmentalists.

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 2:

Topics Covered:

  1. Issues related to health.

Trans fatty acids (TFA)

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Transfats- what are they, uses, concerns and the need for reduction in their usage.

Context: Kerala has drawn up an action plan to generate public awareness on the harmful effects of trans fatty acids (TFA) in commercially available food items and to encourage the local food industry to meet the current statutory limits set for TFA.

  • Various studies suggest that an unhealthy diet with a high TFA content is a significant factor that pushes up metabolic syndrome and the burden of its associated complications.
  • The Health Department is being supported in this initiative by Vital Strategies, the nutrition wing of the World Bank; the WHO; the FSSAI; and the State Food Safety wing, which will be in charge of enforcement.

What are Trans fats?

Trans fatty acids (TFAs) or Trans fats are the most harmful type of fats which can have much more adverse effects on our body than any other dietary constituent. These fats are largely produced artificially but a small amount also occurs naturally. Thus in our diet, these may be present as Artificial TFAs and/ or Natural TFAs.

  • Artificial TFAs are formed when hydrogen is made to react with the oil to produce fats resembling pure ghee/butter.
  • In our diet the major sources of artificial TFAs are the partially hydrogenated vegetable oils (PHVO)/vanaspati/ margarine while the natural TFAs are present in meats and dairy products, though in small amounts.

Harmful effects:

  • TFAs pose a higher risk of heart disease than saturated fats. While saturated fats raise total cholesterol levels, TFAs not only raise total cholesterol levels but also reduce the good cholesterol (HDL), which helps to protect us against heart disease. Trans fats consumption increases the risk of developing heart disease and stroke.
  • It is also associated with a higher risk of developing obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, infertility, certain types of cancers and can also lead to compromised fetal development causing harm to the yet to be born baby.

Why they are increasingly being used?

TFA containing oils can be preserved longer, they give the food the desired shape and texture and can easily substitute ‘Pure ghee’. These are comparatively far lower in cost and thus add to profit/saving.

Permissible limit:

WHO recommends that trans-fat intake be limited to less than 1% of total energy intake and has called for the total elimination of TFAs in global food supply by 2023. FSSAI has proposed to limit TFA limit in foods to 2% and eliminate trans fats from foods by 2022.

Sources: the hindu.


Facts for Prelims:

Ghumot to be declared Goa’s heritage musical instrument:

Context: Ghumot, an indigenous earthen drum will soon be notified as a heritage instrument of Goa.

  • Ghumot is an indigenous earthen drum fashioned as a designed clay pot, with the skin of the monitor lizard stretched taut across the pot’s mouth, forming a drumhead. It is a percussion instrument widely played during Ganesh Chaturthi Aarties.
  • The instrument was banned due to the use of the skin of the endangered monitor lizard for the drum membrane. In recent years, ghumot makers have started using goat skin instead.
  • The ban is applicable to the use of any animal listed in the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, and that the goat is not one of them. Monitor lizard is listed under this.

‘Exercise Topchi’:

What is it? It is an annual exercise held by Indian Army to showcase its artillery firepower, aviation and surveillance capabilities. The latest edition was held at Deolali Camp near Nashik.

Cobra Gold Military Exercise:

Context: The United States and Thailand are hosting the multi-nation Cobra military exercise this year. The exercise is taking place in the northern Thai province of Phitsanulok. This is the 38th edition of this exercise.

About the exercise:

  • This is a Thai-American initiative with an aim to improve coordination between the armed forces. It is one of the Asia-Pacific region’s largest multinational military exercises that is held in Thailand every year. It was first held in 1982 and its headquarters is in Bangkok, Thailand.
  • India joined this exercise for the first time in 2016 while China was admitted for the first time in 2015 but was only allowed to participate in humanitarian assistance training.

Summaries of Important Editorials:

Every drop matters

Source: https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/every-drop-matters/article26261466.ece.

Summary: The editorial discusses about the availability of safe blood in the country, concerns, regulatory loopholes and measures to ensure the adequate availability of blood.

What’s the issue now?

  1. A ready supply of safe blood in sufficient quantities is a vital component of modern health care. However, in 2015-16, India was 1.1 million units short of its blood requirements.
  2. There were considerable regional disparities, with 81 districts in the country not having a blood bank at all.
  3. Yet, in April 2017, it was reported that blood banks in India had in the last five years discarded a total of 2.8 million units of expired, unused blood (more than 6 lakh litres).

Concerns over safety and quality of the blood being received:

Blood is received through professional donation (who accept remuneration) and replacement donation (which is not voluntary). Blood is also donated voluntarily and without remuneration and it is considered to be the safest.

To prevent transfusion-transmitted infections (TTIs), collected blood needs to be safe as well. Due to practical constraints, tests are only conducted post-collection. Thus blood donor selection relies on donors filling in health questionnaires truthfully.

In the case of professional donors there is a higher chance of there being TTIs in their blood, as these donors may not provide full disclosure.

In the case of replacement donation, there could be a higher chance of TTI’s because replacement donors, being under pressure, may be less truthful about diseases.

Even the conducted test may not be fool-proof. These tests may not be fool proof as there is a window period after a person first becomes infected with a virus during which the infection may not be detectable. This makes it crucial to minimise the risk in the first instance of collection. Collecting healthy blood will also result in less blood being discarded later.

How is it regulated?

Blood is considered to be a ‘drug’ under the Drugs & Cosmetics Act, 1940. Therefore, just like any other manufacturer or storer of drugs, blood banks need to be licensed by the Drug Controller-General of India (DCGI). For this, they need to meet a series of requirements with respect to the collection, storage, processing and distribution of blood, as specified under the Drugs & Cosmetics Rules, 1945.

Blood banks are inspected by drug inspectors who are expected to check not only the premises and equipment but also various quality and medical aspects such as processing and testing facilities. Their findings lead to the issuance, suspension or cancellation of a licence.

Governance issues:

The regulatory framework which governs the blood transfusion infrastructure in India is scattered across different laws, policies, guidelines and authorities.

In 1996, the Supreme Court directed the government to establish the National Blood Transfusion Council (NBTC) and State Blood Transfusion Councils (SBTCs). The NBTC functions as the apex policy-formulating and expert body for blood transfusion services and includes representation from blood banks. However, it lacks statutory backing (unlike the DCGI), and as such, the standards and requirements recommended by it are only in the form of guidelines.

This gives rise to a peculiar situation — the expert blood transfusion body can only issue non-binding guidelines, whereas the general pharmaceutical regulator has the power to license blood banks. This regulatory dissonance exacerbates the serious issues on the ground and results in poor coordination and monitoring.

Need of the hour:

The present scenario under the DCGI is far from desirable, especially given how regulating blood involves distinct considerations when compared to most commercial drugs.

In order to ensure the involvement of technical experts who can complement the DCGI, the rules should be amended to involve the NBTC and SBTCs in the licensing process.

Given the wide range of responsibilities the DCGI has to handle, its licensing role with respect to blood banks can even be delegated to the NBTC under the rules. This would go a long way towards ensuring that the regulatory scheme is up to date and accommodates medical and technological advances.

A collaborative regulator can, more effectively, take the lead in facilitating coordination, planning and management. This may reduce the regional disparities in blood supply as well as ensure that the quality of blood does not vary between private, corporate, international, hospital-based, non-governmental organisations and government blood banks.

Conclusion:

The aim of the National Blood Policy formulated by the government back in 2002 was to “ensure easily accessible and adequate supply of safe and quality blood”. To achieve this goal, India should look to reforming its regulatory approach at the earliest.

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