Insights Daily Current Events, 18 March 2015
Opposition wants village adoption scheme scrapped
Five months after it was launched, the Prime Minister’s much-touted scheme, the Saansad Gram Adarsh Yojana, under which MPs have to adopt a village for development, is meeting resistance from the Opposition.
Why the opposition want it scrapped?
Opposition parties want it scrapped as there are no clear guidelines on how to develop model villages and no clarity on the source of funding.
Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana:
It is a village development project under which each Member of Parliament will take the responsibility of developing physical and institutional infrastructure in three villages by 2019.
- The goal is to develop three Adarsh Grams or model villages by March 2019, of which one would be achieved by 2016. Thereafter, five such Adarsh Grams (one per year) will be selected and developed by 2024.
- The Project was launched on the occasion of birth anniversary of Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan.
Areas of development:
- The Scheme aims to keep the soul of rural India alive while providing its people with quality access to basic amenities and opportunities to enable them to shape their own destiny.
- Inspired by the principles and values of Mahatma Gandhi, the Scheme places equal stress on nurturing values of national pride, patriotism, community spirit, self-confidence and on developing infrastructure.
- The Scheme is unique and transformative as it has a holistic approach towards development. It envisages integrated development of the selected village across multiple areas such as agriculture, health, education, sanitation, environment, livelihoods etc.
- Far beyond mere infrastructure development, SAGY aims at instilling certain values, such as people’s participation, Antyodaya, gender equality, dignity of women, social justice, spirit of community service, cleanliness, eco-friendliness, maintaining ecological balance, peace and harmony, mutual cooperation, self-reliance, local self-government, transparency and accountability in public life, etc., in the villages and their people so that they get transformed into models for others.
- The scheme will be implemented through a village development plan that would be prepared for every identified gram panchayat with special focus on enabling every poor household to come out of poverty.
- The constituency fund, MPLADS, would be available to fill critical financing gaps.
- The planning process in each village will be a participatory exercise coordinated by the District Collector. The MP will play an active facilitating role in this exercise.
- Adoption and adaptation of technology and introduction of innovations are critical to this programme. This will include use of space application and remote sensing for planning, mobile based technology for monitoring, agriculture technology for increasing productivity etc.
- At the national level, a separate, real time web based monitoring system will be put in place for the scheme covering all aspects and components. The Ministry will put in place a specially designed capacity building programme for Government functionaries at different levels including Gram Panchayats.
- At the state level there will be an Empowered Committee headed by the Chief Secretary consisting of the relevant Departments and including experts, as required with at least two Civil Society representatives.
- The district Collector will be the nodal officer for implementing the SAGY. He will conduct a monthly review meeting with representatives of the participating Line Departments. The Members of Parliament concerned will chair the review meetings.
SAGY gives focus to community participation. Social mobilization of village community can trigger a chain of other development activities in the village. For instance, reducing risk behaviours like alcoholism, smoking, substance abuse (drugs/tobacco/gutkha etc) among all age groups of population. Women participation in the decision-making process will be encouraged.
Sources: The Hindu, PIB.
CIC gives in to parties’ defiance
While accepting that political parties were in violation of its order, the Central Information Commission recently said it was unable to take any action against them, a move that the petitioners called “an abdication of its responsibilities.”
Faced with the only such case of non-compliance in the RTI’s history, the CIC suggested that further action be taken by the Union government or by courts.
Eighteen months have passed since the CIC in June 2013 deemed national parties to be ‘public authorities’ under the RTI Act, to whom the provisions of the Act would now apply. Yet, despite not having challenged the CIC’s order before the Commission itself or before a court or even in Parliament, all the parties refused to comply with the Act. They have not replied to the CIC’s notices and never appeared before it.
What has the CIC said?
- The CIC has asked for a copy of its order to be sent to the Department of Personnel and Training for taking action as deemed appropriate for addressing the legal gaps and issues that have come to light during the hearings.
- It has also said the petitioners are free to approach courts.
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.
- 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 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.
CIC will be appointed for a term of 5 years from date on which he enters upon his office or till he attains the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier. CIC is not eligible for reappointment.
Sources: The Hindu, Wiki, PIB.
Cabinet approves Bill to unearth black money
The Union Cabinet recently approved a Bill that seeks harsh penalties and rigorous imprisonment for those having unaccounted money abroad. The Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets (Imposition of Tax) Bill provides for a penalty of up to 300 per cent of tax amounts evaded, in addition to 10 years’ rigorous imprisonment.
Details of the Bill:
- The Bill proposes mandatory filing of returns for owners or beneficiaries of foreign assets. Failure to make the disclosures is punishable with a jail term of seven years.
- The Bill also gives a short window to offenders to declare wealth, pay taxes & penalty and escape prosecution.
- The Bill also seeks to make non-compoundable the offence of stashing away unaccounted money abroad. Besides, the offenders will not be allowed to approach the Settlement Commission.
- The Bill also says income in relation to any undisclosed foreign asset or undisclosed income from any foreign asset be taxable at the maximum marginal rate, 30% plus surcharges. Any exemption and deduction will be disallowed and that beneficial owner or beneficiary of foreign assets will be required to file return, even if there is no taxable income.
Sources: The Hindu.
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