Insights Daily Current Events, 03 January 2015
Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP) initiative
As a part of statewise consultation process on Beti Bachao Beti Padhao(BBBP) Scheme, the Union Minister of Women & Child Development recently held a Video Conference with the Principal Secretaries of Departments of Women & Child Development from States of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha and West Bengal along with district collectors of identified districts under BBBP.
Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao Andolan will help in generating awareness and improving the efficiency of delivery of welfare services meant for women.
- It is set up with an initial corpus of Rs 100 crore.
- The adverse and declining child sex ratio (CSR) across the States is a major cause of concern as it has fallen from 927 in 2001 to 918 in 2011. The BBBP seeks to arrest the trend and over time to reverse it.
- A 100 critical low CSR districts in all States and UTs have been identified for focused and convergent action by the Ministries.
- The Ministry of WCD is the nodal Ministry for this initiative and will carry out training to stakeholders, community mobilization and sensitization. It will also embark upon a range of advocacy measures and activities, not limited to the 100 low CSR districts but all across the country.
- All forms of media and social media platforms would be used for this.
- The key to the success of the initiatives would lie with the communities, States, Panchayats and the local self-Government.
Scheme for Rating of ITIs to Promote Excellence in Vocational Training
Ministry of Labour and Employment has introduced a scheme for rating of ITIs in order to promote excellence in vocational training.
- Presently there are about 12000 ITIs in the country.
- The numbers of ITIs have doubled over the last about five -six years and many more ITIs are proposed to be opened within the next five years.
- With such a vast rate of growth, it was felt necessary to introduce quality assurance system for these institutions.
About the Rating Scheme:
- The rating scheme can provide a benchmark for comparison amongst various institutes and trades offered therein.
- It is also expected to bring a differentiating factor for institutions leading to increased market competition and thereby quality improvement in laggard institutions so that they would remain competitive.
- The rating will also help students and employers by serving as a formal recognition from the Government about a specified level of quality of training and facilities.
- The rating of institute will be valid for a period of two years.
- Fee for the rating process will not be regulated. However, the rating agencies will disclose the fees charged to a specific institute.
- In order to ensure quality of vocational training in ITIs, decision of compulsory re-affiliation of ITIs after five years has also been taken by National Council on Vocational Training (NCVT).
Rating system will serve as a management tool to identify problem areas and design appropriate policy intervention.
Implementation of Bezbaruah Committee
Union Home Minister has said that the recommendations made by the Bezbaruah Committee with regard to immediate measures have been accepted.
The Ministry of Home Affairs had constituted a Committee in February 2014 under the chairmanship of Shri M.P. Bezbaruah.
Why? to look into the various concerns of the citizens hailing from the North Eastern States who are living in different parts of the country and to suggest suitable remedial measures including legal measures which could be taken up by the Government.
- The committee was set up after the death of Nido Tania, a 19-year-old student from Arunachal Pradesh, who died in Delhi on January 29, 2014.
- The Committee’s mandate was to listen to the issues raised by people from Northeast India living in other areas of the country, especially metro cities.
- As part of the Legal Measures, the Indian Penal Code (IPC) will be amended for insertion of new sections of 153C and 509A as recommended by the Committee.
- The proposed Section 153-C makes acts causing or likely to cause fear or feeling of insecurity among the community punishable with up to five years’ imprisonment. It also makes offences of such attempts, promotion or participation in violence on grounds of racial features, behaviour, culture or way of living. The proposed Section 509-A provides up to three years’ imprisonment for words, gesture or act intended to insult a member of any race.
- As part of Legal Assistance, a panel of seven lawyers
including five women lawyers has been constituted by the Delhi State Legal Service Authority (DSLSA) for providing legal assistance to the needy people from the North East.
- The Delhi Government will also be providing compensation and monetary assistance to the NE people under Delhi Victim Compensation Scheme 2011.
- State Bhawans of concerned NE States have also agreed to play active roles to assist the persons in distress.
All the recommendations made by the Committee regarding Special Police Initiatives and additional steps to be taken by the various State Police Forces and Delhi Police have been accepted for immediate implementation. Some of these initiatives include:
- Delhi police will recruit 20 police personnel, (10 male – 10 female) each from North East States.
- Police exchange programme has been approved between NE States and metropolitan cities including Delhi.
- North East Special Unit at New Delhi is activated to address the grievances of the NE people. Other States have been advised to do the same.
- A decision has been taken that cases of NE people be referred to the existing fast track courts for early decision.
- Various Metropolitan Police including Delhi Police are being advised to post NE Personnel in their force in the visible positions in vulnerable areas prone to crime against NE people. Also they will be advised to have due representation of the senior officers at the field level.
For further reference:
Palestine submit documents to join ICC
The Palestinians took the last formal step recently to join the International Criminal Court.
Why? To pursue war-crimes charges against Israel over the recent conflict in Gaza and Jewish settlements in Palestinian territories.
Israel has opposed this move and the U.S. has seen this as an obstacle to reaching an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.
- The Palestinians moved quickly to join the court after suffering a defeat in the U.N. Security Council, which rejected a resolution recently that would have set a three-year deadline for the establishment of a Palestinian state on lands occupied by Israel.
- Joining the ICC is part of a broader strategy to pressure Israel into withdrawing from the territories and agreeing to Palestinian statehood.
- The General Assembly’s recognition of Palestine as an observer state made it possible for the Palestinians to join the International Criminal Court and other U.N. bodies.
- Once it becomes a member, Palestine could seek to have Israeli military or political figures prosecuted for alleged crimes involving settlement construction on occupied lands or actions by the military that cause heavy civilian casualties.
The International Criminal Court (ICC), located in The Hague, is the court of last resort for prosecution of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. It is the first permanent, treaty based, international criminal court established to help end impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community.
- Its founding treaty, the Rome Statute, entered into force on July 1, 2002.
- As of July 2013, the ICC had 122 states parties, opened investigations in eight countries, and issued two verdicts (Lubanga case and Ngudjolo case).
- The governments on which the ICC depends to carry out its mandate have been inconsistent in their support, particularly when it comes to arrests.
- The ICC is an independent international organisation, and is not part of the United Nations system.
Although the Court’s expenses are funded primarily by States Parties, it also receives voluntary contributions from governments, international organisations, individuals, corporations and other entities.
- The Court’s management oversight and legislative body, the Assembly of States Parties, consists of one representative from each state party. Each state party has one vote and “every effort” has to be made to reach decisions by consensus. If consensus cannot be reached, decisions are made by vote. The Assembly is presided over by a president and two vice-presidents, who are elected by the members to three-year terms.
Sources: The Hindu, Wiki, ICC.
ICICI Digital Village
ICICI Bank has announced the creation of the “ICICI Digital Village” at Akodara in Sabarkantha district of Gujarat.
Salient features of Digital village:
- It enables villagers to use technology in banking, payments, education, health care and other services.
- It aspires to include cashless transactions, paperless textbooks, with children reading books on LED screens and tablets, telemedicine and Wi-Fi connectivity.
- The digital village initiative had three dimensions — access to banking and seamless banking services; leveraging technology in social sectors for improvement in the lives of the villagers and creating enabling infrastructure to make technology available and access and disseminate information.
- The digital village is not limited to providing cashless banking through digital platforms, but was focussed on use of technology in all aspects of every resident there.
Banks can be agents of social transformation, and cashless transactions will bring down black money significantly in the system.
(This village, named Akodara, in Sabarkantha district of Gujarat incidentally happens to be the same place where Modi started Gujarat’s first animal hostel in 2011 when he was the Chief Minister of the state.)
The Industrial Credit and Investment Corporation of India (ICICI) was originally set up as an Indian financial institution at the initiative of the World Bank, the Government of India and representatives of Indian industry to provide project financing to Indian businesses. It later got merged with ICICI Bank, which was set up in 1994.
Sources: The Hindu.
RBI eases KYC norms for NBFCs
The Reserve Bank of India has Amended rules for non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) with regard to their Know-Your-Customer (KYC) exercise. It has relaxed the time limit during which such due diligence is required.
Why? The rules have been eased due to practical difficulties and constraints in getting KYC documents at frequent intervals.
- Full KYC exercise will be required to be done at least every two years for high risk individuals and entities, at least every 10 years for low risk and at least every 8 years for medium risk individuals and entities, taking into account whether and when client due diligence measures have previously been undertaken and the adequacy of data obtained.
- However, physical presence of clients may not be insisted at such periodic updations.
KYC means “Know Your Customer”. It is a process by which banks obtain information about the identity and address of the customers. This process helps to ensure that banks’ services are not misused. The KYC procedure is to be completed by the banks while opening accounts and also periodically update the same.
Sources: The Hindu, RBI.
Nepal to join Silk Road Economic Belt through Tibet
China has taken a firm step to extend the Silk Road Economic Belt to South Asia, by working out a blueprint of connecting Nepal with the Eurasian transport corridor.
- Nepal has formally signed a four-point document endorsing the Silk Road Economic Belt.
Analysts point out that Nepal has joined a project that China has marshalled along with Russia as its core partner, to counter the Washington-led “Asia Pivot” doctrine, which has the containment of a rising China at its heart.
- Observers say that the rail connectivity with China will spur the globalisation of the Nepalese economy. Once a rail connection with China is established, Nepalese goods can be transited to the international markets through the Eurasian transportation network.
Silk Road Initiative:
The Silk Road, or Silk Route, is a series of trade and cultural transmission routes that were central to cultural interaction through regions of the Asian continent connecting the West and East by linking traders, merchants, pilgrims, monks, soldiers, nomads, and urban dwellers from China to the Mediterranean Sea during various periods of time.
- The new project is an initiative by China to resurrect the ancient maritime Silk Road. It is perceived to be an attempt by China to ameliorate relations with South and Southeast Asia
- The new initiative is a pet project of President Xi Jinping for connecting Asia with Europe along a land corridor, with China as its hub.
- Under the new Silk Route, the Chinese want to open up the transportation channel from the Pacific to the Baltic Sea, from which would radiate rail and road routes, which would also connect with East Asia, West Asia, and South Asia.
- The Silk Road strategy’s ambitious vision aligns with Beijing’s goals much more closely than the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which is a reflection of the U.S. international trade model writ large.
- The Silk Road strategy aims to facilitate large-scale infrastructure construction, energy sale and transport, and relocation of manufacturing industries.
- This initiative aspires to deepen linkages between China and its neighbours via trade, investment, energy, infrastructure, and internationalization of China’s currency, the renminbi.
Indian and Silk Road Initiative:
- Aware of India’s sensitivities regarding the perceived expansion of Chinese influence, a Beijing-Kathmandu-New Delhi trilateral development partnership is proposed as a confidence building step.
- Relations between China and India are mutually reinforcing. Nepal and India are also reinforcing their relations for mutual benefit.
- From a historical point of view India is the converging point of the Maritime Silk Road and the Silk Road on land.
Based on that, the Chinese government believes inevitably that naturally India is one of the important partners to build one belt and one road.
- India also benefits from at least reasonable ties with most stakeholders in the New Silk Road, including Iran, where India has invested heavily in the Chabahar Port. But India must also make serious efforts to strengthen its links with Southeast Asia, and for this it must develop stronger ties with Bangladesh.
- India will also need to work towards a manageable relationship with Pakistan, which would not only facilitate pipeline projects like TAPI, but also enable access to Afghanistan and Central Asia.
- India needs to change its approach towards border regions, and not allow security to cloud its overarching vision. One of the important cornerstones of China’s Silk Road vision has been its emphasis on utilizing border regions, while also making use of their strategic location.
Sources: The Hindu, Wiki, Diplomat.
Excavation at Harappan site reveals house plan
Excavation conducted by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) at the late-Harappan site of Chandayan in Uttar Pradesh has, for the first time, revealed the plan of a house on the Ganga-Yamuna doab, with its mud walls, four successive floor levels and post-holes.
- The excavation in the residential area revealed a mud wall and post-holes in one trench and four closely laid and successive floors of a house in another trench and pots.
- The posts positioned in the holes would have supported the roof of the house. The habitation area is significant for the floor levels, and mud walls were occurring in the Ganga-Yamuna doab for the first time.
- In the burial site, 150 metres from the residential area, excavations brought to light 21 pots, including deep bowls, dishes, flasks and lids with knobs and cylindrical agate beads.
- The copper crown was embedded with carnelian and faience beads.
- The orientation of the burial site was from northwest to southeast.
- Twenty metres from the skeleton, remains of animal sacrifice, other refuse and pots similar to those found in the habitation area were found, suggesting some religious ceremony during the funeral.
Sources: The Hindu.
India lost 66 wild tigers in 2014
As per statistics provided by Tigernet, the official database of the National Tiger Conservation Authority, Sixty-six wild tiger deaths were reported in the country in 2014.
- The highest number of wild tiger deaths was reported from the forests of Tamil Nadu —15, followed by Madhya Pradesh —14. Six of the deaths in Tamil Nadu were from the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve.
- The majority of wild tiger deaths were caused by poaching.
- The data do not give a clear figure on the number of tigers killed by poachers, but it is estimated that about 50 tigers could have been killed in this manner.
- Of the 66 deaths, only one death was due to natural causes — reported from the Valmiki Tiger Reserve, Bihar. Fights between tigers, possibly for territory control, caused three deaths. Two tigers, suspected to be man-eaters, were shot dead by police personnel. Wild tiger deaths were also reported from Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Kerala, Karnataka and Uttarakhand.
- During the year, 12 cases of seizure of tiger parts were registered. This included seizure of seven tiger skins. While three tiger skins were seized from Maharashtra, two were seized from Andhra Pradesh and one each from Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
- In 2013, the number of wild tiger deaths was 63 and the highest number was reported from the forests of Karnataka —16, followed by Maharashtra, 9. In 2014, Karnataka accounted for seven wild tiger deaths. In 2013, only one wild tiger death was reported from Tamil Nadu.
The Government of India has taken a pioneering initiative for conserving its national animal, the tiger, by launching the ‘Project Tiger’ in 1973. From 9 tiger reserves since its formative years, the Project Tiger coverage has increased to 47 at present, spread out in 17 of our tiger range states. This amounts to around 2.08% of the geographical area of our country. The tiger reserves are constituted on a core/buffer strategy. The core areas have the legal status of a national park or a sanctuary, whereas the buffer or peripheral areas are a mix of forest and non-forest land, managed as a multiple use area.
- The Project Tiger aims to foster an exclusive tiger agenda in the core areas of tiger reserves, with an inclusive people oriented agenda in the buffer.
- Project Tiger is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme of the Ministry of Environment and Forests, providing central assistance to the tiger States for tiger conservation in designated tiger reserves.
The Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 was amended in 2006 keeping in view the needs of the Project Tiger for providing enabling provisions for constitution of the National Tiger Conservation Authority and the Tiger and Other Endangered Species Crime Control Bureau.
The functions of NTCA are as follows:
- Ensuring normative standards in tiger reserve management
- Preparation of reserve specific tiger conservation plan
- Laying down annual/ audit report before Parliament
- Instituting State level Steering Committees under the Chairmanship of Chief Minister and establishment of Tiger Conservation Foundation.
- According approval for declaring new Tiger Reserves.
Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF):
- Creation of Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF) was announced in 2008.
- A onetime grant of Rs. 50 Crore was provided to the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) for raising, arming and deploying a Special Tiger Protection Force for 13 tiger reserves. The rest of the reserves were taken up later.
Sources: The Hindu, GOI, envi.nic.in.