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Insights Daily Current Events, 25 November 2014

Insights Daily Current Events, 25 November 2014

UNESCO lauds Heritage City Development Programme (HRIDAY)

United Nations’ Educational, Social and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has shown keenness to collaborate with the Ministry of Urban Development in implementing the ‘Heritage Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY).

About HRIDAY:

Why was it launched? For conserving and preserving the heritage characters of the heritage cities.

Where? The programme will be launched in the cities such as Mathura, Amritsar, Gaya, Kanchipuram, Vellankani, and Ajmer.

  • The programme will be launched with a provision of Rs. 200 crore in the current Budget.
  • The project will work through a partnership of Government, Academic Institutions and local community combining affordable technologies.

Sources: PIB, Hindu.

 

With no CIC, RTI appeals pile up

The post of Chief Information Commissioner has been lying vacant since august, 2014.

So what? When a new Chief Information Commissioner is appointed, he or she will find a mammoth 10,000 Right to Information appeals pending.

Why the appointment is being delayed?

  • A Committee comprising PM and the Leader of Opposition, recommends CICs names. Since, at present there is no Leader of Opposition, a recently-retired CIC has not been replaced. (According to the Act the leader of the single largest opposition is also acceptable.)
  • Much of the reasons surround the policy decisions taken by the government.


The Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners are appointed by the President on the recommendation of a committee consisting of—

  • the Prime Minister, who shall be the Chairperson of the committee;
  • the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha; and
  • a Union Cabinet Minister to be nominated by the Prime Minister.

The Chief Information Commissioner heads the Central Information Commission, the body that hears appeals from information-seekers who have not been satisfied by the public authority, and also addresses major issues concerning the RTI Act.

The Central Information Commission (CIC) is set up under the Right to Information Act and is the authorised body, established in 2005, under the Government of India.

Sources: The Hindu, cic.gov.in.

 

The life and times of Shakti Chattopadhyay: An album

Seeking to capture the life and times of late iconic Bengali poet and author Shakti Chattopadhyay, an album has been released containing a compilation of the poet’s recordings of songs and poems.

Shakti Chattopadhyay:

  • Mr. Chattopadhyay was one of the founding members of the avant garde literary movement called the ‘Hungry Generation’ during the 1960s.
  • He largely wrote deviant poetry and prose in style, form and content and influenced others too.
  • Born in 1933, he was the Sahitya Akademi Award winner.

Sources: The Hindu.

 

Opposition finds no common ground on Insurance Bill

Opposition parties, during the winter session, reiterated their opposition to the Insurance Bill.

Why? Many parties are against the idea of raising the cap on FDI in insurance sector.

What are the problems now?

The bill will easily be passed in Lok Sabha since the government is in majority in LS.

  • But in Rajya Sabha, the government does not have enough support. Along with the Congress’ 66 members, 105 of the 240 lawmakers in the Upper House are against the bill. Less than 70 clearly support the bill.
  • The bill first needs to be approved by a parliamentary committee that is reviewing its provisions. Of the 15 members of that Select Committee, five MPs support it, three Congress MPs support it but with changes to the present draft and three MPs are opposed to it.

The Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill:

It was introduced in the Rajya Sabha in 2008.

Aim: the amendments are aimed at removing archaic and redundant provisions in the legislations and incorporating certain provisions to provide Insurance Regulatory Development Authority (IRDA) with flexibility to discharge its functions effectively and efficiently. The overall objective is to further deepen the reform process which is already underway in the insurance sector.

Details:

  • It seeks to amend the Insurance Act 1938, the General Insurance Business (Nationalisation) Act, 1972 and the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority Act, 1999.
  • In India, insurance companies are not permitted to have foreign holding of more than 26%. This Bill raises the limit to 49% and allows entry of foreign re-insurers (companies that insure insurance companies).
  • It also provides for permanent registration of insurance companies.
  • It permits the holder of a life insurance policy to name the beneficiary.
  • The Bill seeks to amend clause 45 to the effect that no claim can be repudiated (rejected) after three years of the policy issuance under any circumstances.
  • With the aim to reduce the dependence on agents the Bill seeks to have more channels for distribution, in addition to the existing ones such as agents and bancassurance.
  • The Bill proposes to give insurance companies the freedom to collect premiums in instalments for more products.
  • To strengthen redressal of policyholders’ complaints, the Bill proposes an independent grievance redressal authority, with powers similar to a civil court. The authority will be composed of judicial and technical members.
  • The Bill also stresses on technology to increase electronic issuance of policies. This will help improve claims payout.

Advantages:

  • With foreign participants playing a bigger role, there will be more variety in products and more professionalism in selling these. With more competition, mis-selling will reduce.
  • Simplifying the norms for expansion of re-insurance companies will also help penetration.
  • Since electronic issuance and dematerialising of policies can facilitate data sharing between companies, any cases of fraud can be detected faster.
  • The Bill provides for appeals against decisions by Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority to lie with the Securities Appellate Tribunal set up under the SEBI Act, 1992.

Sources: The Hindu, prsindia.org.

Indo-U.S. Trade Policy Forum revived

The Trade Policy Forum is a key element of the strategic dialogue, serving to advance the two countries’ efforts to expand the economic ties.

Aim: The Forum primarily aims at providing an environment, with the global rules-based trading system that supports expanding trade and investment and helps to strengthen the commercial ties between the U.S. and Indian businesses.

How is it helpful?

  • Bilateral trades have doubled and Indian companies have grown significantly since the inception of The Trade Policy Forum in 2005. This further helps the two countries realize their full potential for even greater trade and investment.

Full potential of the 2 countries is achieved by developing and implementing trade policies through transparent procedures that comply with international obligations, fostering an environment conducive to technological collaboration and innovation, and by promoting inclusive economic growth and job creation in the United States and India.

Sources: The Hindu, PIB.

 

Global groups sign pact to end open defecation in India

Three global organisations, recently, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU).

Objectives:

  • To support the Central government in making the country free of open defecation and promoting sustained usage of sanitation systems.
  • To share best practices in the sanitation sector and help millions of Indians gain access to basic sanitation facilities.
  • They also aim at making sanitation accessible and affordable to all citizens.

The 3 organizations are: The World Toilet Organisation (WTO), WASTE and the Financial Inclusion Improves Sanitation and Health (FINISH).

The objectives would be achieved through a mix of policy dialogue, lobbying and advocacy work for sanitation coupled with on-the-ground sanitation activities. The agreement is for three years.

Sources: The Hindu.