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Insights Daily Current Events, 25 August 2015

Insights Daily Current Events, 25 August 2015

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Paper- 2 Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.

Can’t bring political parties under RTI, Centre tells SC

The Union government recently told the Supreme Court that political parties must not be brought under RTI or Right to Information Act as they are not public authorities.

Centre’s arguments:

  • Political parties are not public authorities as they are not set up under the Constitution or any law enacted by Parliament – they can’t be treated as an institution or establishment.
  • If political parties come under the RTI it will affect their smooth internal functioning.
  • Political rivals will start using RTI tool with malicious intent.
  • There are already provisions in the Income Tax Act, 1961, and Representation of the People Act, 1951, which demand necessary transparency regarding financial aspects of political parties. These mechanisms ensure transparency in financial dealings of parties.
  • Information about a political body is already in the public domain on the website of the Election Commission.

Background:

  • A petition by the NGO had said that political parties should be declared “public authorities” to bring them under the RTI Act. The petition had also urged the court to ask political parties to declare all donations, including those below Rs. 20,000.
  • The Supreme Court had issued notice to six national parties, including the BJP and the Congress, asking them why they can’t come clean and explain their hesitation to disclose complete details of their income, expenditure, donations, funding, including donor details, to the public under the RTI Act.

The Central Information Commission (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.

Sources: The Hindu.

 

Paper- 2 Topic: Development processes and the development industry the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders.

Tata Trusts, A.P. pact for community empowerment

Tata Trusts and the Andhra Pradesh State government have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to work towards community empowerment and improve the overall quality of living through an integrated multi-thematic approach.

Details of the Programme:

  • The programme aims at interventions in the thematic areas of bamboo cultivation, fisheries and nutrition, along with micro-planning and village development based on the Union government’s Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojna (SAGY).
  • The thematic areas of the programme will focus on promoting bamboo as a livelihood crop.
  • With focus on marine fisheries, a comprehensive aquaculture development model will be worked out to improve the livelihood of small and marginal fishermen.
  • Using the government’s feeding and distribution programmes like the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), mid-day meal and Public Distribution System (PDS) as delivery channels, the collaboration will also target micronutrient deficiencies like anaemia.
  • Tata Trusts would support the State and administrative bodies in the implementation of multi-thematic development plans in 264 villages in Vijayawada constituency.

Sources: The Hindu.

Paper- 2 Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

U.N. court for status quo in Italian marines case

The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) has put a status quo in the Italian marines case and has asked both India and Italy to suspend all court proceedings and refrain from initiating new ones that might aggravate or extend the dispute that triggered a diplomatic row.

  • ITLOS has asked the two countries to submit the initial report on the entire incident by September 24.
  • This is also being seen as a partial victory for India as the court did not allow one of the accused marines to go home from Indian custody despite Italy’s plea. The other accused marine is already in Italy and is allowed to stay back home by the Supreme Court due to medical reasons.

Background:

  • The marines, who were on board ship ‘Enrica Lexie’, are accused of killing two Indian fishermen off the Kerala coast in February, 2012, under the misconception that they were pirates.
  • The marines were arrested by the Kerala police. The case was later transferred to the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
  • During hearing in the Supreme Court in July 2015, Italy had made a plea before the court saying it has invoked international arbitration challenging India’s jurisdiction to try two of its marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen three years ago.
  • But, India has been saying that it had jurisdiction to try the Italian marines as the alleged offence had taken place in the Indian waters.

About ITLOS:

  • The ITLOS is an independent judicial body established by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea to adjudicate disputes arising out of the interpretation and application of the Convention.
  • The Convention also established the International Seabed Authority, with responsibility for the regulation of seabed mining beyond the limits of national jurisdiction, that is beyond the limits of the territorial sea, the contiguous zone and the continental shelf.
  • The Tribunal is composed of 21 independent members, elected from among persons enjoying the highest reputation for fairness and integrity and of recognised competence in the field of the law of the sea.
  • The tribunal is based in Hamburg, Germany.
  • The Tribunal has the power to settle disputes between party states. Currently, there are 161 parties.
  • India is also a signatory to this convention.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.

Paper- 2 Topic: Welfare schemes

JNNURM buses: Centre warns States

The Union government, which had included funding for urban buses under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) to improve urban mobility, has taken strong exception to the inordinate delay by State governments in procuring buses and furnishing periodical compliance reports.

  • The centre has warned the state governments about withdrawal of sanction as well as funds already released, if the reports are not furnished immediately.
  • In a recent letter to all State governments, the Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) said it had released Rs. 884.21 crore for 7,509 buses to 18 States covering 114 cities. However, the Ministry has received information for procurement of only 2,288 buses till July 2015.
  • The Ministry has said that the government has taken it seriously as the funds meant for people’s welfare has been kept unutilised for the last one year.

About JNNURM:

Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JnNURM) is a massive city-modernisation scheme launched by the Government of India under Ministry of Urban Development in 2005.

  • It envisages a total investment of over $20 billion over seven years.
  • JNNURM aims at creating ‘economically productive, efficient, equitable and responsive Cities’ by a strategy of upgrading the social and economic infrastructure in cities, provision of Basic Services to Urban Poor (BSUP) and wide-ranging urban sector reforms to strengthen municipal governance in accordance with the 74th Constitutional Amendment Act, 1992.

Objectives of the mission:

  • Focused attention relating to infrastructural services in the context of integrated development is to be covered under the mission.
  • Make efficient and increase self-sustaining capabilities of cities as per the sector proving infrastructural services by securing the linkages between asset creation and asset management
  • Ensure adequate investment of funds to fulfill deficiencies in the urban infrastructural services.
  • Planned development of identified cities including peri-urban areas, out growths, urban corridors, so that urbanization takes place in a dispersed manner.
  • Scale up delivery of civic amenities and provision of utilities with emphasis on universal access to urban poor.
  • To take up urban renewal programme, i.e., re-development of inner (old) cities area to reduce congestion.

JNNURM primarily incorporates two sub-missions into its program:

  • The Sub-Mission for Urban Infrastructure and Governance administered by the Ministry of Urban Development, with a focus on water supply and sanitation, solid waste management, road network, urban transport and redevelopment of old city areas.
  • The Sub-Mission for Basic Services to the Urban Poor (BSUP) administered by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation with a focus on integrated development of slums.

Implementation mechanism:

  • The funds are channelled through state-level agencies, where grants from the central and state governments are pooled and passed on as grants or soft loans to cities provided that they have prepared development strategies and that the investments identified fit within these strategies.
  • The share of grant funding by the central government can vary from 35% in the largest cities to up to 90% in cities in the Northeast.
  • Most cities receive grants covering 50% or 80% of costs depending on size.
  • Capacity building is also included in the mission to assist urban local bodies to prepare strategies and projects.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.

Paper- 3 Topic: Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security.

IS blows up Palmyra temple

Jihadists with the Islamic State group have blown up a famous temple at Syria’s ruins of Palmyra confirming fears they would destroy more world-class heritage sites.

  • The destruction of the Baal Shamin temple, considered ancient Palmyra’s second-most significant temple, raised concerns for the rest of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed ruins.
  • Palmyra fatures Roman colonnades and an impressive necropolis.
  • Much of Palmyra is well-preserved – the uniqueness of the city, an oasis on the Silk Road, stems from the fact that so much remains intact from Roman times, including the remains of public buildings, temples and administrative centres.
  • The chief of the UN’s cultural agency described Islamic State’s destruction of a Roman temple in the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra as a war crime.
palmyra isis destruction
Source: TheTelegraph

UNESCO world heritage site:

A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as of special cultural or physical significance.

  • The list is maintained by the international World Heritage Programme administered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, composed of 21 UNESCO member states which are elected by the General Assembly.
  • Each World Heritage Site remains part of the legal territory of the state wherein the site is located and UNESCO considers it in the interest of the international community to preserve each site.
  • The List of recorded sites on the World Heritage now stands at 981 which include both cultural and natural wonders.
  • Italy is home to the greatest number of World Heritage Sites with 50 sites.

There are 32 World Heritage Properties in India out of which 25 are Cultural Properties and 7 are Natural Properties.

Sources: The Hindu, UNESCO.

Paper- 3 Topic: Security challenges and their management in border areas;

Five-pronged strategy to check Naxalism: Minister

Union Minister of State for Home Haribhai Parthibhai Chaudhary has stated that the Centre has been adopting a five-pronged strategy to contain left wing extremism (LWE) in the country to a large extent in the next two-three years.

The five-pronged strategy includes:

  • Taking up development programmes in the naxal-affected areas.
  • Creating awareness among the communities in the naxal-affected areas against taking to the path of violence being adopted by the LWE groups
  • Utilisation of modern technologies such as drones and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
  • Procuring modern helicopters for the use of armed forces engaged in the task.
  • Development of the LWE-affected areas in the fields of education, health, communication and others. Building of fortified police stations in such areas.

There are also plans to set up 2,100 BSNL towers to provide mobile phone network. The cell towers would be constructed in CRPF camps, which would also have ATMs.

Naxalism is the biggest threat because it affects several areas including the economy, security and foreign affairs, its citizens and rule of law.

Sources: The Hindu.

Paper- 2 & 3 Topic: Disaster and disaster management and Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

India to implement Sendai framework, disaster risk reduction assistance to neighbours enhanced

The Union Minister of State for Home Affairs recently said that India will implement the Sendai framework for Disaster Risk Reduction in letter and spirit.

About Sendai Framework:

  • The “Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030” was adopted during the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction held in Sendai, Japan in March, 2015.
  • It is the first major agreement of the post-2015 development agenda, with seven targets and four priorities for action.
  • It was endorsed by the UN General Assembly following the 2015 Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR).
  • The Sendai Framework is a 15-year, voluntary, non-binding agreement which recognizes that the State has the primary role to reduce disaster risk but that responsibility should be shared with other stakeholders including local government, the private sector and other stakeholders.
  • The Sendai Framework is the successor instrument to the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) 2005-2015: Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters.
  • The implementation of the Sendai Framework involves adopting integrated and inclusive institutional measures so as to work towards preventing vulnerability to disaster, increase preparedness for response and recovery and strengthen resilience.
  • The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR – UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction) has been actively supporting India’s Leadership role in implementation of Sendai Framework for disaster risk reduction in the Asian region.

The Seven Global Targets:

  1. Substantially reduce global disaster mortality by 2030, aiming to lower average per 100,000 global mortality rate in the decade 2020-2030 compared to the period 2005-2015.
  2. Substantially reduce the number of affected people globally by 2030, aiming to lower average global figure per 100,000 in the decade 2020 -2030 compared to the period 2005-2015.
  3. Reduce direct disaster economic loss in relation to global gross domestic product (GDP) by 2030.
  4. Substantially reduce disaster damage to critical infrastructure and disruption of basic services, among them health and educational facilities, including through developing their resilience by 2030.
  5. Substantially increase the number of countries with national and local disaster risk reduction strategies by 2020.
  6. Substantially enhance international cooperation to developing countries through adequate and sustainable support to complement their national actions for implementation of this Framework by 2030.
  7. Substantially increase the availability of and access to multi-hazard early warning systems and disaster risk information and assessments to the people by 2030.

The Four Priorities for Action under the Framework:

  1. Understanding disaster risk
  2. Strengthening disaster risk governance to manage disaster risk
  3. Investing in disaster risk reduction for resilience
  4. Enhancing disaster preparedness for effective response and to “Build Back Better” in recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction

Sources: The Hindu, unisdr.

Paper-1 Topic: Indian History and Culture

PM inaugurates birth centenary celebrations of Rani Gaidinliu

Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, recently inaugurated the birth centenary celebrations of Rani Gaidinliu.

  • He also launched a commemorative coin to mark the inauguration of the birth centenary celebrations of Rani Gaidinliu.

Rani_Gaidinliu

About Rani Gaidinliu:

  • Gaidinliu (1915–1993) was a Naga spiritual and political leader who led a revolt against British rule in India.
  • At the age of 13, she joined the Heraka religious movement of her cousin Haipou Jadonang. The movement later turned into a political movement seeking to drive out the British from Manipur and the surrounding Naga areas.
  • Within the Heraka cult, she came to be considered an incarnation of the goddess Cherachamdinliu.
  • Gaidinliu was arrested in 1932 at the age of 16, and was sentenced to life imprisonment by the British rulers. Jawaharlal Nehru met her at Shillong Jail in 1937, and promised to pursue her release. Nehru gave her the title of “Rani” (“Queen”), and she gained local popularity as Rani Gaidinliu.
  • She was released in 1947 after India’s independence, and continued to work for the upliftment of her people.
  • An advocate of the ancestral Naga religious practices, she staunchly resisted the conversion of Nagas to Christianity.
  • She was honoured as a freedom fighter and was awarded a Padma Bhushan by the Government of India.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.