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Insights Daily Current Events, 29 July 2015

Insights Daily Current Events, 29 July 2015


Centre returns controversial Gujarat Bill

The controversial Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organised Crime (GCTOC) Bill, 2015, has been sent back to the State by the Home Affairs Ministry following an objection by the Information Technology (IT) Ministry. This means the Bill will not be sent for Presidential assent and cannot become law yet.

  • Any Bill passed by an Assembly on issues contravening Central laws needs Presidential assent.


  • The Gujarat Assembly had passed the Bill in March this year. The Bill was previously rejected thrice by two former Presidents — the late A.P.J. Abdul Kalam in 2004 and Pratibha Patil in 2008 and 2009.
  • The Bill was first introduced as the GUJCOC Bill in 2003 — when Narendra Modi was Chief Minister — with provisions like increasing the period to file charge sheet from 90 to 180 days and strict conditions for granting bail to an accused.

About Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organised Crime (GCTOC) Bill:

The Bill is a re-worked version of the Gujarat Control of Organised Crime Bill (GUJCOC), 2003, which was earlier rejected twice by the President due to some of its contentious provisions.

Why was it needed?

  • Citing past terror attacks in Gujarat, the state government had raised concerns over Pakistan’s attempts at cross-border terrorism, Gujarat’s vulnerable coastline and the proliferation of criminal gangs, while underscoring the need for a strong law.
  • The government also says that the organised criminal syndicates make a common cause with terrorist gangs and foster macro terrorism which extends beyond the national boundaries. There is reason to believe that organised crime syndicates are operating in the State and thus, there is immediate need to curb their activities and hence this bill.

Controversial provisions in the Bill:

The Bill was respectively returned twice to the State legislature in 2004 and 2008 by then Presidents A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and Pratibha Patil recommending the deletion of some controversial clauses. Some of the controversial provisions in the Bill are as follows:

  • Clause 16, which makes confessions before police officers admissible in court.
  • Empowers police to tap telephonic conversations and submit them in court as evidence.
  • Extends period of probe from stipulated 90 days to 180 days before filing of charge sheet.
  • The legislation makes offences under the Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organised Crime Act, 2015, non-bailable. Clause 20 (4) of the Bill states, “Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Criminal Procedure, no person accused of an offence punishable under this Act shall, if in custody, be released on bail or on his own bond.”
  • The Bill makes “evidence collected through the interception of wire, electronic or oral communication” admissible in the court.
  • The Bill provides immunity to the State government from legal action. Clause 25 of the Bill states, “No suit, prosecution or other legal proceeding shall lie against the State government or any officer or authority of the State government for anything which is in good faith done or intended to be done in pursuance of this Act.”

Sources: The Hindu.

Surface-to-air missile to be tested in Israel

The Indian missile production unit recently said that the long-range surface-to-air missile being developed with Israel will go in for national trials for the Navy once it is tested in Israel in October, with production following next year.


  • The missile is being developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation and Israel Aerospace Industries for the Navy over the last five years.
  • It is said to reach targets of up to 70 km.
  • An Army version is being ground tested and an Air Force variant is in the works, both as medium-range or MR-SAMs.

Sources: The Hindu.

Rules in place for compulsory rural service

The Karnataka State government has notified rules making one-year rural service mandatory for medical students. Violating this will cost them their medical degree, besides a penalty ranging between Rs. 15 lakh and Rs. 30 lakh.


  • The Karnataka Compulsory Service Training by Candidates Completed Medical Courses (Counselling, Allotment and Certification) Rules, 2015, is applicable to State-run colleges and government-quota students in private medical colleges.
  • If medical students fail to comply with these rules, besides penalty, their certificates will be withheld.
  • The penalty will be more for students studying under the Common Entrance Test quota and less for those who get seats under management quota.
  • However, rural service will not be applicable for those who graduated this academic year.

These rules are aimed at addressing all problems related to shortage of doctors in government hospitals in district, taluk and interior rural parts of Karnataka.

Sources: The Hindu.

E-visa facility for Chinese tourists from tomorrow

The electronic tourist visa facility for Chinese nationals, announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to China in May, will be rolled out shortly.

The government has said that along with the citizens of China, the e-tourist visa facility will also be offered to the nationals of Hong Kong and Macao.

About the e –tourist visa scheme:

  • India had last year launched e-tourist visa facility (which was earlier called ‘tourist visa on arrival enabled by electronic travel authorisation’) for more than 40 countries, including the U.S.
  • The scheme was later extended to 36 more countries with effect from May.
  • Under the e-visa scheme, an applicant receives an email authorising him or her to travel to India after it is approved and he or she can travel with a print-out of this authorisation. On arrival, the visitor has to present the authorisation to the immigration authorities who would then stamp the entry into the country.
  • The number of foreign tourists availing themselves of the e-tourist visa facility has increased by over 700% in May as compared to the same period last year.

Who is not eligible?

  • Not available to Diplomatic/Official Passport Holders.
  • Not available to individuals endorsed on Parent’s/Spouse’s Passport i.e. each individual should have a separate passport.
  • Not available to International Travel Document Holders.

Sources: The Hindu.

Vijayawada to Puducherry by boat

The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) is planning to conduct a trial run in December this year from Kakinada to Puducherry, a much-hyped inland waterways project National Waterway 4.

  • It has asked the Andhra Pradesh State Government to conduct a delineation survey all along the Buckhingam Canal to ascertain government lands, private properties and other obstructions, if any.
  • Accordingly, the State Government has invited tenders. The successful bidder has to complete the survey in three months. Once the survey report is ready, a trial run would be conducted from Kakinada to Krishnapatnam using a 100 tonne vessel.
  • Once the delineation survey is done, officials would be in a position to estimate the land to be acquired, the challenges of widening the canal, etc.
  • The Central Government will fund the State Government to acquire land and other expenditure. Once the land is acquired, IWAI will prepare the estimates and identify locations for construction of bridges, terminals and other facilities.
  • The entire project is estimated to cost Rs. 3,200 crore. The operational cost is likely to be Rs 1 per km.

Existing canal:

The existing canal network, which was built by the British, is suitable for vessels up to 100 tonnes. But the present canal network needs to be widened at several places to allow movement of vessels of 1000 tonne capacity. For this, the canal width has to be expanded to 120 m (60 m from the centre of the canal on either side) and the bottom width of the canal (that is, the underwater bed of the canal) to be 42 m. Then there should a 5 m road along the canal for movement of vehicles. And also the existing canal width is not uniform.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.

Tripura: pension for transgenders launched

The Tripura government has introduced a pension scheme for transgenders. The Council of Ministers of Kerala State government has also decided to a pay a monthly pension to women domestic workers and patients suffering from leprosy and AIDS.

The government has decided to pay monthly pension up to Rs. 500 to transgenders. The State government was currently sponsoring 20 pension schemes that benefited more than one lakh people.

Sources: The Hindu.

Loan Agreement with ADB

The Government of India and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) have signed a $300 million loan to support the government’s flagship program, the National Urban Health Mission (NUHM) that is aimed at improving the health status of the country’s urban population.

  • The loan will reinforce ongoing government efforts under the NUHM to develop health systems in urban areas that can deliver quality health services and that reach the urban poor and vulnerable.
  • It will focus on strengthening primary health care and also promote better coordination between health and urban sectors and opportunities for public-private partnerships.
  • Technical cooperation will also be provided. The use of ADB’s results-based lending modality will strengthen NUHM systems and overall results orientation, while allowing states the flexibility they need to pursue targets that they need locally.

About National Urban Health Mission (NHUM):

The National Urban Health Mission (NUHM) is a sub-mission of National Health Mission (NHM).

  • NUHM envisages to meet health care needs of the urban population with the focus on urban poor, by making available to them essential primary health care services and reducing their out of pocket expenses for treatment.
  • This will be achieved by strengthening the existing health care service delivery system, targeting the people living in slums and converging with various schemes relating to wider determinants of health like drinking water, sanitation, school education, etc.
  • The scheme will be implemented by the Ministries of Urban Development, Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation, Human Resource Development and Women & Child Development.

NUHM endeavours to achieve its goal through:-

  • Need based city specific urban health care system to meet the diverse health care needs of the urban poor and other vulnerable sections.
  • Institutional mechanism and management systems to meet the health-related challenges of a rapidly growing urban population.
  • Partnership with community and local bodies for a more proactive involvement in planning, implementation, and monitoring of health activities.
  • Availability of resources for providing essential primary health care to urban poor.
  • Partnerships with NGOs, for profit and not for profit health service providers and other stakeholders.

NUHM would cover all State capitals, district headquarters and cities/towns with a population of more than 50000. It would primarily focus on slum dwellers and other marginalized groups like rickshaw pullers, street vendors, railway and bus station coolies, homeless people, street children, construction site workers.

Funding pattern: The centre-state funding pattern will be 75:25 for all the States except North-Eastern states including Sikkim and other special category states of Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, for whom the centre-state funding pattern will be 90:10.

Sources: The Hindu, PIB.

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