Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Insights Daily Current Events, 13 March 2015

Insights Daily Current Events, 13 March 2015

Pharma Jan Samadhan scheme

Pharma Jan Samadhan Scheme was recently launched by the Union Minister of Chemicals & Fertilizers.

What is it?

  • It is a web enabled system for redressal of consumers’ grievances relating to pricing and availability of medicines. It was created by National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA)


  • The ‘Pharma Jan Samadhan’ scheme has put in place a speedy and effective complaint redressal system with respect to availability and pricing of medicines.
  • It would serve as a robust e-governance tool for protection of consumers’ interests through effective implementation of the Drugs (Price Control) Order 2013.
  • It will provide consumers and others with an on-line facility to redress their complaints relating to over-pricing of medicines, non-availability or shortage of medicines, sale of new medicines without prior price approval of NPPA, and refusal of supply for sale of any medicine without good and sufficient reason. NPPA will initiate action on any complaint within 48 hrs of its receipt.

National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA)

NPPA is an organization of the Government of India which was established, inter alia, to fix/ revise the prices of controlled bulk drugs and formulations and to enforce prices and availability of the medicines in the country, under the Drugs (Prices Control) Order, 1995.

  • The organization is also entrusted with the task of recovering amounts overcharged by manufacturers for the controlled drugs from the consumers.
  • It also monitors the prices of decontrolled drugs in order to keep them at reasonable levels.

Functions of National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority

  • To implement and enforce the provisions of the Drugs (Prices Control) Order in accordance with the powers delegated to it.
  • To deal with all legal matters arising out of the decisions of the Authority;
  • To monitor the availability of drugs, identify shortages, if any, and to take remedial steps;
  • To collect/ maintain data on production, exports and imports, market share of individual companies, profitability of companies etc, for bulk drugs and formulations;
  • To undertake and/ or sponsor relevant studies in respect of pricing of drugs/ pharmaceuticals;
  • To recruit/ appoint the officers and other staff members of the Authority, as per rules and procedures laid down by the Government;
  • To render advice to the Central Government on changes/ revisions in the drug policy;
  • To render assistance to the Central Government in the parliamentary matters relating to the drug pricing.

Sources: The Hindu,



Implementation of AIBP

The Union Minister of State for Water Resources recently said that since the inception of the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP), 297 Major and Medium Irritation (MMI) Projects and 16769 Minor Irrigation (MI) Projects have been benefitted under this programme.

Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme:

The Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP) was launched during 1996- 1997 to give loan assistance to the States to help them complete some of the incomplete major/medium irrigation projects which were at an advanced stage of completion and to create additional irrigation potential in the country.

  • The Surface Minor Irrigation Schemes of North-Eastern States, Hilly States of Sikkim, Uttranchal, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Koraput, Bolangir and Kalahandi Districts of Orissa have also been provided Central Loan Assistance (CLA) under this programme since 1999-2000.
  • Grant component has been introduced in the programme from April 2004 like other Central Sector Schemes.
  • As per the existing AIBP criteria effective from December 2006, grant amounting to 25% of the project cost for major and medium irrigation projects in non-special category States and 90% grant of the project cost for major/medium/minor irrigation projects in special category States ( including Koraput, Bolangir and Kalahandi Districts of Odisha) are provided to the selected projects.
  • The minor irrigation schemes in non-special category States falling in drought prone/tribal areas are treated at par with special category States and are provided 90% grant of the project cost.
  • Major and medium projects providing irrigation benefits to drought prone/tribal area and flood prone area are also eligible for 90% grant of the project cost.

Sources: PIB,


Parliament Passes Motor Vehicles Bill

The Rajya Sabha recently passed the Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill, which will pave the way for plying of e-rickshaws on the roads of the National Capital Region. The Bill was cleared by the Lok Sabha on March 3.

  • It will not only benefit the poor but will give a boost to ‘Make in India’ initiative as the battery-operated vehicle was now being manufactured indigenously.

Important provisions in the Bill:

  • The Bill brings e-carts and e-rickshaws under the ambit of the Act. E-carts and e-rickshaws are defined as special purpose battery powered vehicles, having three wheels, and with power up to 4000 watts. They can be used for carrying goods or passengers, for hire or reward. They should have been manufactured, equipped and maintained in accordance with specifications as prescribed.
  • Under the Act, a person shall be granted a learner’s licence to drive (i) public service vehicles, (ii) goods carriages, (iii) educational institution buses, or (iv) private service vehicles, only if he has held a driving licence to drive a light motor vehicle for at least one year. A light motor vehicle is a motor car, tractor or road roller not weighing more than 6000 kilograms. The Bill adds a proviso to the Act to exempt e-rickshaw and e-cart drivers from this requirement. The Bill states that the conditions for issuing of driver licences for ecart or e-rickshaw shall be prescribed.
  • The Bill also provides for the central government to make Rules on (i) the specifications for e-carts and erickshaws, and (ii) the manner and conditions for issuing driving licenses.

Sources: PIB, BS,


Rhino numbers rise in West Bengal

A West Bengal State Forest Department survey conducted in January has revealed that the Jaldapara National Park in the State has nearly 200 of Rhinos and the Gorumara National Park, 50. Jaldapara now has the second highest population of them after the Kaziranga National Park in Assam, which has over 2,000.

  • West Bengal is now home to the second highest population of the one-horned rhinoceros in the country after Assam, with the number growing to 250 in the State.

One horned Rhino:

The greater one-horned rhino is the largest of the rhino species. Once found across the entire northern part of the Indian sub-continent, rhino populations were severely depleted as they were hunted for sport and killed as agricultural pests. This pushed the species very close to extinction in the early 20th century and by 1975 there were only 600 individuals surviving in the wild.

  • By 2012, conservation efforts saw the population grow to over 3,000 in the Terai Arc Landscape of India and Nepal, and the grasslands of Assam and north Bengal in northeast India.
  • They are listed as a vulnerable species.

Sources: The Hindu, WWF.


Insurance Bill passed with Cong. support

The Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2015 was recently passed in the Rajya Sabha. The Bill, which replaced an ordinance promulgated in December 2013, was passed by a voice vote.

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.


  • 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.


  • 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,



Make paid news a poll offence: Law panel

In a recently released report, the law commission has recommended that newspaper advertisements on the eve of elections be banned and wants Independent candidates to be barred from contesting elections, and paid news made an electoral offence leading to disqualification.

  • Headed by Justice A.P. Shah, the commission submitted its 255th report, on the issue of electoral reforms, to the Union Law Ministry.



Other recommendations:

  • The law commission has said that it is not in favour of introducing compulsory voting, terming it undemocratic, undesirable and not helping to improve political awareness and participation.
  • The commission has also not favoured the often voiced plea for right to recall as well to reject a winning candidate if the vote polled by him were less than those opting for none of the above (NOTA) or state funding of the elections in view of the current economic conditions of the country.
  • The commission has recommended increasing the period of disqualification from current three years to five years for a candidate who fails to file election expenses and contributions received, with the intent to debar defaulters from contesting the next elections at least.
  • The Commission has recommended that both “paying for the news” by the candidates and “receiving payment for news” by the media organisation should be made an electoral offence by inserting it in the newly inserted section 127B of the electoral act.
  • The commission has recommended an amendment to the constitution to vesting with the president or the governor the power to disqualify a Member of Parliament or state legislature on the grounds of defection, instead of the speaker or chairman as presently, on the advice of the poll panel.
  • The commission has stressed on regulating and restricting government sponsored advertisements six months prior to the date of expiry of the House “to maintain the purity of elections.
  • On the issue of electoral finances, it said election expenses incurred or authorised by candidates or their election agents, currently extends from the date of nomination to the date of declaration of results. This period should be extended to apply from the date of notification of the polls to the date of declaration of results.
  • The Commission has said that the Companies Act should be amended to require passing of the resolution authorising the contribution from the company’s funds to a political party at the company’s Annual General Meeting instead of its Board of Directors.
  • It recommended “express penalties”, apart from losing tax benefits, to be imposed on political parties. This should include a daily fine of Rs 25,000 for each day of non-compliance, with the possibility of de-registration if the default continues beyond 90 days.
  • Noting that the ban on broadcast of election matter 48 hours prior to an election was restricted to the electronic media now, the commission recommended such prohibition for the print media also.
  • The report recommended measures to strengthen the Election Commission and for a collegium or selection committee, which includes the Leader of Opposition, to appoint commissioners.

Law commission:

Law Commission of India is an executive body established by an order of the Government of India.

  • Its major function is to work for legal reform.
  • Its membership primarily comprises legal experts, who are entrusted a mandate by the Government.
  • The Commission is established for a fixed tenure and works as an advisory body to the Ministry of Law and Justice.
    The recommendations of the commission are not binding on the government.
  • The first Law Commission was established during the British regime in 1834 by the Charter Act of 1833. After that three more Commissions were established in pre-independent India. The first Law Commission of independent India was established in 1955 for a three year term.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.



Home Guards are volunteers, not entitled to salary: SC

The Supreme Court has classified Home Guards as volunteers expected to serve anywhere in the country in times of crisis, including communal riots, but not entitled to regular pay.

  • The SC recently held that though Home Guards were endowed with powers of policemen while on duty, they could not claim similar benefits.
  • The Court has directed the State governments to pay Home Guards duty allowance at rates equalling the minimum monthly pay that the police personnel were entitled to and has asked to implement this direction in the next three months.


  • The verdict came on a PIL filed for steady employment benefits through regularisation of their services.

SC’s observations:

  • The court has said that the Home Guards was still a voluntary service as there was no concept of wages for them, and they were paid only a duty allowance. The SC noted that there is nothing on the record to suggest that Home Guards performed duties throughout the year. On the other hand, it is the specific case of the State that, as and when there is requirement, they are called for duty and otherwise they remain in their homes and hence they cannot be paid regular salaries.


Home Guards were raised in the United Kingdom during World War-II as a voluntary citizen organisation for local defence. The Indian version was raised in Bombay in December 1946. The Home Guards was meant as an auxiliary force to assist the police in controlling civil disturbances and communal riots.

Sources: The Hindu.

Insights Secure Prelims 2015

Welcome to Insights Secure Prelims – 2015 initiative. The following questions are based on current events that appear in PIB (Public Information Bureau) and from some important newspapers. For more challenging question papers (Full Length), please join our Preliminary Exam – 2015 Test Series (Please Click Here for Reviews)

To view Solutions, follow these instructions:

  1. Click on – ‘Start Quiz’ button

  2. Solve Questions

  3. Click on ‘Quiz Summary’ button

  4. Click on ‘Finish Quiz’ button

  5. Now click on ‘View Questions’ button – here you will see solutions and links.