Insights Daily Current Events, 25 December 2015
Stamp on “Kuka Movement” Released
A commemorative stamp to highlight heroic deeds of those engaged in Kuka Movement was released recently.
- The Kuka Movement marked the first major reaction of the people in the Punjab to the new political order initiated by the British after 1849.
- The Namdhari Movement, of which the Kuka Movement was the most important phase, aimed at overthrowing the British rule.
- The Namdharis were also known as “Kukas” because of their trademark style of reciting the “Gurbani” (Sayings/Teachings of the Guru). This style was in a high-pitched voice called “Kook” in Punjabi. Thus, the Namdharis were also called “Kukas”.
- Members of the Movement raised voice against foreign rule at a time when people feared most barbaric approach of the rulers.
- The Kuka Movement evolved feeling of self respect & sacrifice for the country.
- They played significant role in the historic Non-cooperation Movement of India.
- Satguru Ram Singh, son of a poor carpenter, who was born on 3rd February, 1816 in a small village of Bhaini, around 7 kilometres away from Ludhiana, founded the Namdhari Sect on 12th April, 1857 at Bhaini Sahib. He asked his followers to boycott everything which bore the stamp of the British Government. In course of time, Baba Ram Singh became a secular chief of Kukas. He would go about surrounded by horsemen and held his court every day. He appointed Governors and Deputy Governors to organize Kukas in different districts of the Punjab. He also inspired young men by giving them military training.
- The Kuka Movement made the people aware of their serfdom and bondage.
- The movement attracted not only Sikhs but also the Hindus.
- Within a few years, the followers of the Kuka Movement increased manifold. They called for boycott of educational institutions of British and laws established by them. They were rigid in their clothing and wore only hand-spun white attire. The Kuka followers actively propagated the civil disobedience.
End-to-end Computerisation of PDS- A step towards good Governance
Ministry of Consumer Affair, Food and Public Distribution is implementing a Plan Scheme on End-to-end Computerisation of TPDS Operations on cost sharing basis with the States/UTs. The scheme has been declared as a Mission Mode Project (MMP) by the Government.
The Scheme comprises following activities and expected outcomes:
- Digitization of TPDS (Targeted Public Distribution System) related data- Correct identification of beneficiaries: removal of bogus cards: better targeting of food subsidy.
- Computerisation of Supply Chain- Timely availability of foodgrains at FPS (Fair Price Shop): check leakages/ diversion.
- Grievance Redressal Mechanism and Transparency Portal- Bring transparency & Public accountability.
- FPS automation- Ensuring that correct beneficiary receives the entitled quantity of foodgrains.
The scheme provides the following services to the Citizens:
- Ration card related requests such as application for new ration card, change of address, name change, deletion of member, etc. can be dealt online through the system. This will provide beneficiaries a convenient facility and minimise their visit to Food & Civil Supplies offices.
- The digitised list of beneficiaries shall be made available in the public domain on State Governments` TPDS portals. This will introduce transparency in the identification of beneficiaries, allow beneficiaries to check their status, encourage social audit etc.
- Through the State TPDS portal, beneficiaries can also check status of foodgrains allocated for their respective Fair Price Shop (FPS) each month including quantity delivered at the FPS, when delivered etc.
- The facility for registration of grievances and tracking their status is also available through the State TPDS portal, toll-free helpline numbers, etc. If the complaints are not responded in time, the same would be escalated to senior officers for timely redressal.
- Computerisation of last mile activities i.e. distribution of foodgrains at the FPS level is also being taken up. Once automation of FPS is implemented, the genuine beneficiaries can be authenticated through point of sale device at FPS, the sale transaction captured online etc. so as to ensure that the entitled quantities of foodgrains reach the actual beneficiaries.
National Informatics Centre (NIC) is the technical partner under the scheme and has developed a Common Application Software (CAS) as per the scheme requirements, which has been offered to States/UTs.
Panchi has successfully completed its first flight.
What is Panchi? It is the wheeled version of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Nishant capable of taking-off and landing using small airstrips.
- The UAV Panchi has all the surveillance capabilities of UAV Nishant. However, it will have longer endurance as it does not have to carry the air bags and parachute system as in the case of UAV Nishant.
- The conventional NishantUAV already inducted in Army is a multi-mission UAV with Day/Night operational capability, launched from an all-terrain hydro-pneumatic launcher and is recovered with the help of on board parachute system and an underbelly airbag.
- It is designed for battlefield surveillance and reconnaissance, target tracking& localization, and artillery fire correction.
- The electro-optic payloads are mounted on a stabilized steerable platform.
- A sophisticated image processing system is used for analyzing the images transmitted from the UAV.
- The aircraft has a jam resistant command link and digital down link for transmission of imagery.
- The air vehicle has autonomous flight capabilities and is controlled from a user friendly Ground Control Station.
Legal and administrative framework to check acid attacks
The Government has taken a number of steps in the past to regulate sale of acid, increase punishment for perpetrators of acid attack, compensation for the victims etc. However, more needs to be done as victims of acid attack suffer a lot.
Showing utmost concern to the victims of acid attacks, the government has approved the following measures to strengthen legal and administrative framework to check acid attacks:
- In order to regulate the sale of acid, a web application having functionalities like registration of stockists and retailers, issue of licenses by the District administration, targeting sale of acid to individuals only after recording personal details like proof of identity and proof of address of the purchaser will be developed. This measure will considerably reduce unauthorized sale of acid in the country.
- The victims of acid attack need to be treated by the hospitals in a hassle free manner. The Ministry of Home Affairs will develop a new mechanism in consultation with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Ministry of Finance and Insurance companies so that the victims of acid attacks are treated on cashless basis and the treatment amount is paid from the Central Victim Compensation Fund which is proposed to be set up by MHA.
- All such cases where maximum punishment of life imprisonment or death sentence is possible will be categorized as ‘Heinous Crimes’. As per Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2013, trial of offences under Section 376A-D of IPC, are to be completed within 60 days. Extending this provision further, suitable amendments in CrPC will be made for time bound investigation and trial of all cases related to heinous crimes.
- Government also proposes to bring suitable amendments in law to fix time frame for disposal of appeals by courts especially in cases of heinous crimes including acid attack to ensure speedy justice.
- Steps will be taken to include acid attack victims in the category of Physically Challenged Persons/persons with disability so that they are able to access the benefits of reservation, training, self-employment loan etc. as admissible to the physically challenged persons. This will help in rehabilitation of acid attack victims.
Mobile Monitoring System in MGNREGA
The Ministry of Rural Development is likely to introduce Mobile Monitoring System for effective implementation of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, MGNREGA.
- The Monitoring System will be introduced on a pilot basis to allow real time monitoring of all works, workers attendance and work site measurement.
- The move is likely to plug leakages in the rural job scheme.
- The Centre has recently sanctioned 147 crore rupees to the States to strengthen the social audit structures. Social Audit ensures comprehensive public scrutiny of records and accounts with a view to enhance transparency and accountability. The additional grant was sanctioned as States were finding it difficult to put the necessary institutional structures for social audit within the overall 6 % administrative cost.
Other modifications in MGNREGA:
- To devise a better mechanism to improve the quality and durability of assets created under MGNREGS, Schedule I to the MGNREG Act, 2005 has been modified to provide that at least 60% of the works being taken in a district in terms of cost shall be for creation of productive assets directly linked to agriculture and allied activities through development of land, water and trees.
- It has also been notified that the 60:40 ratio of labour to material component will be maintained at the district level (instead of Block level) for the works to be executed by implementing agencies other than Gram Panchayats.
- Detailed labour budget guidelines for 2015-16 were issued in July, 2014 introducing an Intensive Participatory Planning Exercise(IPPE) in 2500 backward blocks to bring greater participation and scientific methods in planning of works and to give due emphasis on convergence with a view to creating sustainable assets and providing focussed wage employment.
- Guidelines have been issued for watershed management works taken up independently under MGNREGS or in convergence with Integrated Watershed Management Project, IWMP.
Amendment in Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014
The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister has given its approval for amending certain sections of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014.
- To rectify the anomaly in allocating the number of seats in Andhra Pradesh State Legislative Council and to enhance the total number of seats to 58 as per the provisions of the Constitution.
- Since the existing strength of Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly is 175 and 1/3rd of its strength is constitutionally permissible, it is hence proposed to increase the strength to 58 MLCs from current strength of 50 MLCs.
The Vidhan Parishad (or Legislative Council) is the upper house in those states of India that have a bicameral legislature.
How a Legislative Council is constituted?
- The Legislative Council of a state is constituted as per Article 168 of Indian Constitution.
- As per Article 171 of the Indian Constitution the total number of Members in the Legislative council of a State shall not exceed one third of the total number of Members in the Legislative Assembly.
- Of the total number of Members of the Legislative Council, 1/3 of Members are elected by electorates consisting of the Members of Local Authorities, 1/12 are elected by electorates consisting of graduates residing in the State, 1/12 are elected by electorates consisting of persons engaged in teaching, 1/3 are elected by the Members of Legislative Assembly and the remaining are nominated by the Governor.
As of 2014, Seven (out of twenty-nine) states have a Legislative Council: Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Maharashtra,Telangana and Uttar Pradesh.
Sources: PIB, Wiki.
Bharat gets two more Ratnas
Former prime minister and BJP veteran leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee and freedom fighter Madan Mohan Malviya will be conferred with the country’s highest civilian award the “Bharat Ratna”.
- Bharat Ratna is the highest civilian award of the Republic of India.
- The provision of Bharat Ratna was introduced in 1954.
- Any person without distinction of race, occupation, position or sex is eligible for these awards.
- There is no written provision that Bharat Ratna should be awarded to Indian citizens only. The award has been awarded to a naturalized Indian citizen, Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, better known as Mother Teresa (1980) and to two non-Indians – Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan and Nelson Mandela (1990).
- It is awarded in recognition of exceptional service/performance of the highest order in any field of human endeavour. The award was originally limited to achievements in the arts, literature, science and public services but the government expanded the criteria to include “any field of human endeavour” in December 2011.
- The recommendations for Bharat Ratna are made by the Prime Minister himself to the President. No formal recommendations for this are necessary.
- The number of annual awards is restricted to a maximum of three in a particular year.
- The Award does not carry any monetary grant.
- In terms of Article 18 (1) of the Constitution, the award cannot be used as a prefix or suffix to the recipient’s name. However, should an award winner consider it necessary, he/she may use the following expression in their biodata/letterhead/visiting card etc. to indicate that he/she is a recipient of the award
Sources: The Hindu, mha.nic.in.
Govt. endorses SC guidelines on passive euthanasia
Three years after a Supreme Court judgment legalised passive euthanasia under “exceptional circumstances,” the government has fully endorsed the apex court’s guidelines giving High Courts the power to decide on applications seeking permission to withdraw life support in the best interest of the patient.
- The SC had set out a series of guidelines for High Courts to process applications seeking passive euthanasia by near relatives or next friend or the doctors/hospital staff.
- It had observed that these guidelines would hold good until Parliament decides or passes a law on passive euthanasia.
- It laid down guidelines for euthanasia and made a distinction between ‘active’ and ‘passive’ euthanasia. It said that causing the death of a person who is in a permanent vegetative state, with no chance of recovery, by withdrawing artificial life support is not a “positive act of killing”.
- The SC had ruled that the withdrawal of life support by the doctors is in law considered as an omission and not a positive step to terminate life. The latter would be euthanasia, a criminal offence under the present law in UK, USA and India. ‘Active’ euthanasia, on the other hand, which could mean administering the patient a lethal drug to cause his or her death, was illegal as it is a positive step to terminate a life.
- Guidelines for passive euthanasia included such as that the matter must be referred to the high court for a decision and that the doctor, or the parents or spouse of the patient must be the ones to petition for the withdrawal of life-support. In the absence of any of these, a person or a body of persons acting as ‘next friend’ can be permitted.
- These guidelines were put forth while deciding the case of Aruna Shaunbag, who was paralysed and slipped into a coma after a brutal attack on November 27, 1973 at Mumbai’s King Edward Memorial Hospital by a staffer.
- The Bench defined passive euthanasia as a process when medical treatment is withheld or withdrawn leading to the death of a terminally ill person.
Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.
Expert group to check cyber crime
Union Home Minister has approved the setting up of a five-member expert group to tackle cybercrime, which has seen an increase of about 40 per cent annually over the past few years.
What are the challenges?
- India with a fast growing economy is susceptible to international and domestic cyber attacks and there is need to ensure a cybercrime-free environment.
- The Information Technology Act is long outdated. The 2008 amendments, making a range of offences bailable, have severely impacted the conviction rate. This needs to be addressed.
- Cybercrime is a constantly moving target. With the emerging new crimes, capacity building is a huge challenge.
- Section 66F of the IT Act that prescribed life sentence for cyber terrorism was introduced in 2008. However, it was invoked for the first time in the Bangalore case. Even the National Cyber Security Policy-2013 offered nothing much on the subject.
What will the group do?
- The group will prepare a road map for effectively tackling cybercrime and give suitable recommendations on possible partnerships with the public and private sectors.
Sources: The Hindu.