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Insights Daily Current Events, 16 March 2015

Insights Daily Current Events, 16 March 2015

Indian Ocean conference will discuss strategic challenges

Top Ministers, bureaucrats and more than a dozen Ambassadors in the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) are meeting for the first time in Odisha to discuss strategic challenges in the region.

Objective of the conference:
To draw a resolution outlining India’s role, including trade ties and strategic challenges, in the Indian Ocean region.

Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA):

It is an international organisation consisting of coastal states bordering the Indian Ocean. IORA was established in 1997 to promote cooperation in the Indian Ocean region. It seeks to expand mutually beneficial cooperation through a consensus-based, evolutionary and non-intrusive approach. IORA is the only regional forum linking most countries on the Indian Ocean rim through an annual Foreign Ministers’ meeting.

  • It was formerly known as the Indian Ocean Rim Initiative and Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC).
  • The IORA is a regional forum, tripartite in nature, bringing together representatives of Government, Business and Academia, for promoting co-operation and closer interaction among them.
  • It is based on the principles of Open Regionalism for strengthening Economic Cooperation particularly on Trade Facilitation and Investment, Promotion as well as Social Development of the region.
  • The Coordinating Secretariat of IORA is located at Ebene, Mauritius.

The objectives of IORA are as follows:

  • To promote sustainable growth and balanced development of the region and member states.
  • To focus on those areas of economic cooperation which provide maximum opportunities for development, shared interest and mutual benefits.
  • To promote liberalisation, remove impediments and lower barriers towards a freer and enhanced flow of goods, services, investment, and technology within the Indian Ocean rim.

The Association comprises 20 member states and six dialogue partners, the Indian Ocean Tourism Organisation and the Indian Ocean Research Group has observer status.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.



Rs. 800 cr. of Nirbhaya Fund lying unused

More than two years after the Centre set up the high profile Nirbhaya Fund with a corpus of Rs. 1000 crore, only Rs. 200 crore has been allocated so far towards various schemes to ensure women’s safety.

Nirbhaya Fund:

Announced by the government of India in its 2013 Budget, the Fund was established to support initiatives by the government and NGOs working towards protecting the dignity and ensuring safety of women in India.

  • The Fund was created with a corpus of Rs. 1000 Crores for empowerment, safety and security of women and girl children.
  • The Fund is administered by Department of Economic Affairs of the finance ministry.
  • Utilization of Nirbhaya Fund would be preceded by formulation of viable schemes and necessary approvals from the competent authority.
  • The fund was set up after the horrific rape and murder of a 23-year old medical student in the national capital in 2012.


Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.



IMA, Health Ministry lock horns

The Indian Medical Association and the Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry are headed for a face off over the government’s proposal to allow Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) practitioners and paramedical staff to perform abortions on pregnant women under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Amendment Bill. The IMA has already expressed reservations about the proposal.

  • Some states too are opposed to this move.

Government’s stand:

  • The government is of the view that expanding the provider base with strict conditionalities would enhance access and availability of safe abortion services without compromising on quality of service.
  • The government has planned to provide requisite training and certification, which would be specified in the rules, to the AYUSH practitioners for allowing them to perform the procedure.


Why the IMA has been opposing?

The IMA says that the proposal could put patients at risk as well as allow unethical practices and sex selective abortions.

What the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 says?

Section 15 of the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956, states that no person other than a medical practitioner enrolled on a State Medical Register shall practice medicine in any State. Any person who acts in contravention of this shall be punished with imprisonment of one year or fine of Rs.1,000 or both.

Supreme Court’s observations:

The Supreme Court, in the case of Dr. Mukhtiar Chand vs State of Punjab, has held that practice of modern system of medicine by Indian System of Medicine (ISM) qualified professionals was possible provided such professionals are enrolled in the State Medical Register for practitioners of modern medicine maintained by the State Medical Council. The respective State governments can notify and give recognition to qualifications eligible for registration in the State Medical Register.

Sources: The Hindu.



States raise pitch for Councils

Some State governments have requested the Central Government to set up the bicameral system and set up an Upper House or legislative council in their states. These State governments reason that an Upper House will provide a better opportunity for people’s participation in governance and decision-making.

  • The setting up of legislative councils in States has to be cleared by an Act of Parliament.
  • Currently, only seven States follow the bicameral system — Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh.
  • Though they were originally set up to provide wiser counsel to the State assemblies, experts point out that the demand for legislative councils today is because of an increased pressure for accommodating various political interests.


Legislative Councils in India:

The Vidhan Parishad (or Legislative Council) is the upper house in those states of India that have a bicameral legislature.

  • The Legislative Council is a permanent body and cannot be dissolved.
  • Each Member of the Legislative Council (MLC) serves for a six-year term, with terms staggered so that the terms of one-third of a Council’s members expire every two years.
  • MLCs must be citizens of India, at least 30 years’ old, mentally sound, not an insolvent, and on the voters’ list of the state for which he or she is contesting an election. He or she may not be a Member of Parliament at the same time.
  • The size of the Vidhan Parishad cannot be more than one-third the membership of the Vidhan Sabha. However, its size cannot be less than 40 members (except in Jammu and Kashmir, where there are 36 by an Act of Parliament.)
  • According to Article 169 of the Indian Constitution, the state legislative assembly has to pass a resolution demanding creation or abolition of the council. The Parliament can then make it a law by passing it like any ordinary bill. It doesn’t require any amendment to the Constitution.


Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.


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