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INSIGHTS CURRENT EVENTS: 11 OCTOBER 2014

Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana

It is a village development project under which each Member of Parliament will take the responsibility of developing physical and institutional infrastructure in three villages by 2019.

The goal is to develop three Adarsh Grams or model villages by March 2019, of which one would be achieved by 2016. Thereafter, five such Adarsh Grams (one per year) will be selected and developed by 2024.

The Project to be launched on the occasion of birth anniversary of Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan aims to keep the soul of rural India alive while providing its people with quality access to basic amenities and opportunities to enable them to shape their own destiny. Inspired by the principles and values of Mahatma Gandhi, the Scheme places equal stress on nurturing values of national pride, patriotism, community spirit, self-confidence and on developing infrastructure.

The Scheme is unique and transformative as it has a holistic approach towards development. It envisages integrated development of the selected village across multiple areas such as agriculture, health, education, sanitation, environment, livelihoods etc. Far beyond mere infrastructure development, SAGY aims at instilling certain values, such as people’s participation, Antyodaya, gender equality, dignity of women, social justice, spirit of community service, cleanliness, eco-friendliness, maintaining ecological balance, peace and harmony, mutual cooperation, self-reliance, local self-government, transparency and accountability in public life, etc., in the villages and their people so that they get transformed into models for others.

The scheme will be implemented through a village development plan that would be prepared for every identified gram panchayat with special focus on enabling every poor household to come out of poverty. The constituency fund, MPLADS, would be available to fill critical financing gaps. The planning process in each village will be a participatory exercise coordinated by the District Collector. The MP will play an active facilitating role in this exercise.

SAGY gives focus to community participation. Social mobilization of village community can trigger a chain of other development activities in the village. For instance, reducing risk behaviours like alcoholism, smoking, substance abuse (drugs/tobacco/gutkha etc) among all age groups of population. Women participation in the decision-making process will be encouraged.

Adoption and adaptation of technology and introduction of innovations are critical to this programme. This will include use of space application and remote sensing for planning, mobile based technology for monitoring, agriculture technology for increasing productivity etc.

At the national level, a separate, real time web based monitoring system will be put in place for the scheme covering all aspects and components. The Ministry will put in place a specially designed capacity building programme for Government functionaries at different levels including Gram Panchayats. At the state level there will be an Empowered Committee headed by the Chief Secretary consisting of the relevant Departments and including experts, as required with at least two Civil Society representatives. The district Collector will be the nodal officer for implementing the SAGY. He will conduct a monthly review meeting with representatives of the participating Line Departments. The Members of Parliament concerned will chair the review meetings.

Sources: PIB.

National Optical Fibre Network

The National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) is a project to provide broadband connectivity to over two lakh Gram panchayats of India at a cost of Rs.20,000 crore.

The project provides internet access using existing optical fibre and extending it to the Gram panchayats. The project was intended to enable the government of India to provide e-services and e-applications nationally. A special purpose vehicle Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL) was created as a Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) under the Companies Act of 1956 for the execution of the project. The project will be funded by the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF).

All the Service Providers like Telecom Service Providers (TSPs), ISPs, Cable TV operators etc. will be given non-discriminatory access to the National Optic Fibre Network and can launch various services in rural areas. NOFN has the potential to transform many aspects of our lives including video, data, internet, telephone services in areas such as education, business, entertainment, environment, health households and e-governance services.

National Optic Fibre Network uses Gigabit passive optical network (GPON) technology indigenously developed by Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DOT). A passive optical network (PON) brings fiber cabling and signals to the home using a point-to-multipoint scheme that enables a single optical fiber to serve multiple premises. Encryption maintains data security in this shared environment. The architecture uses passive (unpowered) optical splitters, reducing the cost of equipment compared to point-to-point architectures.

Sources: PIB, Wiki, www.bbnl.nic.in.

About UNIVERSAL SERVICE OBLIGATION FUND

The New Telecom Policy – 1999 (NTP ‘ 99), approved by the Union Cabinet, sought to achieve the following Universal Service Objectives:

  • Provision of Voice and Low speed data service to the balance 2.98 lakh uncovered villages,
  • Achieve Internet access to all district headquarters, and
  • Achieve telephone on demand in urban and rural areas.

The New Telecom Policy – 1999 provided that the resources for meeting the Universal Service Obligation (USO) would be raised through a ‘Universal Access Levy’ (UAL), which would be a percentage of the revenue earned by the operators under various licenses, to be decided in consultation with the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

It envisaged that the implementation of USO Obligation for rural/remote areas would be undertaken by all fixed service providers who shall be reimbursed from the USO Fund. Other service providers would also be encouraged to participate in USO provision subject to technical feasibility and would be reimbursed from the funds.

The Indian Telegraph (Amendment) Act, 2003 giving statutory status to the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) was passed by both Houses of Parliament in December 2003.

The resources for implementation of USO are raised through a Universal Service Levy (USL) which has presently been fixed at 5% of the Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) of all Telecom Service Providers except the pure value added service providers like Internet, Voice Mall, E-Mail service providers etc. In addition, the Central Govt. may also give grants and loans.

The Fund is to be utilized exclusively for meeting the Universal Service Obligation. It has been defined in the Act as the obligation to provide access to telegraph services to people in rural and remote areas at affordable and reasonable prices.

Support from the fund is being carried out by means of a bidding process on the least – quoted – subsidy support basis (reverse auction).

Credits to the Fund are through Parliamentary approvals and the balance to the credit of the Fund does not lapse at the end of the financial year. USOF activities fall under Plan Budget. They were previously carried out under Non-Plan Budget till 2010-2011.

Sources:
http://www.usof.gov.in/.

Consumer Protection Act, 1986

Consumer Protection Act, 1986 is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted in 1986 to protect interests of consumers in India. It makes provision for the establishment of consumer councils and other authorities for the settlement of consumers’ disputes and for matters connected therewith.

Consumer Protection Councils are established at the national, state and district level to increase consumer awareness.

Central Consumer Protection Council

It is established by the Central Government which consists of the following members:

  • The Minister of Consumer Affairs, – Chairman, and
  • Such number of other official or non-official members representing such interests as may be prescribed.

State Consumer Protection Council

It is established by the State Government which consists of the following members:

  • The Minister in charge of consumer affairs in the State Government – Chairman.
  • Such number of other official or non-official members representing such interests as may be prescribed by the State Government.
  • such number of other official or non-official members, not exceeding ten, as may be nominated by the Central Government.

The State Council is required to meet as and when necessary but not less than two meetings every year.

Consumer Disputes Redressal Agencies

  • District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum (DCDRF): Also known as the “District Forum” will be established by the State Government in each district of the State. The State Government may establish more than one District Forum in a district. It is a district level court that deals with cases valuing up to 20 lakhs.
  • State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (SCDRC): Also known as the “State Commission” will be established by the State Government in the State. It is a state level court that takes up cases valuing less than 1 crore.
  • National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC): Established by the Central Government. It is a national level court that works for the whole country and deals with amount more than 1 crore.

For further reference:
http://dc-siwan.bih.nic.in/Consumer_Act.pdf.

Sources: PIB, Wiki, www.ncdrc.nic.in.

Country’s first ever Mental Health Policy

The Mental Health Policy was launched on the first ever National Mental Health Day organised by the government.

The National Mental Health Policy outlines the prioritized agenda for extending within a pragmatic time-frame basic mental health care facilities to all sections of the population across the country by the year 2020. It also pushes for decriminalisation of attempted suicide.

The Policy’s objective is to provide universal access to mental health care by enhancing understanding of mental health and strengthening leadership in the mental health sector at all levels. It will have a pro-poor orientation because only the creamy layer of society presently has access to mental healthcare in India today.

The Policy is backed up by the “Mental Health Action Plan 365”. It clearly spells out the specific roles to be played by the Central government, the state governments, local bodies and civil society organisations.

Earlier laws governing the mentally ill, the Indian Lunatic Asylum Act, 1858, and Indian Lunacy Act, 1912, ignored the human rights aspect and were concerned only with custodial issues.

The National Mental Health Policy is aimed at doing “the greatest good to the largest number” through five interdependent and mutually synergistic strategies, to be implemented in a phased manner over the next two decades –

  • Extension of basic mental health care facilities to, the primary level.
  • Strengthening of psychiatric training in Medical Colleges at the undergraduate as well as postgraduate level.
  • Modernization and rationalization of mental hospitals to develop them into tertiary care centers of excellence.
  • Empowerment of Central and State Mental Health Authorities for effective monitoring, regulation and planning of mental health care delivery systems.
  • Promoting research in frontier areas to evolve better and more cost-effective therapeutic interventions as well as to generate seminal inputs for future planning.

For further reference:
http://www.wbhealth.gov.in/download/MH%20Policy%20rewrite.pdf.

Sources: PIB, http://www.wbhealth.gov.in/, The Hindu.

India, Pak. crusaders share Nobel

Kailash Satyarthi, 60-year-old child rights activist from Madhya Pradesh, and Malala Yousafzai, who has risked her life to wage a campaign for girls’ education in Pakistan, are the joint winners of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.

It is an important point for a Hindu and a Muslim, an Indian and a Pakistani, to join in a common struggle for education and extremism.

Mr. Satyarthi showed great personal courage and maintaining Gandhi’s tradition, has headed various forms of protests and demonstrations, all peaceful, focusing on the grave exploitation of children for financial gain. The peace prize winner has saved thousands of children from bonded labour in factories through the Bachpan Bachao Andolan which he founded in 1980, and other organisations. He is a member of the high-level group formed by UNESCO on Education for All on which selected presidents, Prime Ministers and UN agency heads are represented.

Despite her youth, Malala has already fought for several years for the rights of girls to education, and has shown by example that children and young people, too, can contribute to improve their own situations. Malala became a global symbol of the fight against extremism after she was shot by Taliban militants two years ago in Swat.


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p style=”text-align: right”>Sources: The Hindu.


 

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