Insights Daily Current Events, 02 January 2016
Paper 3 Topic: Infrastructure.
Panel warns against ‘Swiss Challenge’ route
AN expert committee has warned the government against using ‘Swiss Challenge’ approach for infrastructure investments in the country.
According to the panel, Swiss Challenge approaches bring information asymmetries in the procurement process and result in lack of transparency and in the fair and equal treatment of potential bidders in the procurement process.
- Following this, India’s ambitious plan to build new expressways across the country by adopting the ‘Swiss Challenge’ method for awarding these projects has become uncertain.
India plans to build 18,637 km expressways in a phased manner by 2022 under an official Master Plan for the National Expressway Network. An express highway is a controlled-access highway, generally six-lane or more, where entrance and exit are controlled by the use of slip roads.
- Since it is a difficult task to find builders to develop greenfield expressways, the government was keen on taking the ‘Swiss Challenge’ route to find bidders for building around 19,000 km expressways as per the master plan.
- The Union government has identified building 16 greenfield expressways at present.
In December 2015, the Kelkar Panel on PPP revival had also asked the government to actively ‘discourage’ the ‘Swiss Challenge’ for auctioning infrastructure projects.
What is ‘Swiss challenge’ approach?
Swiss challenge method is a process of giving contracts. Any person with credentials can submit a development proposal to the government. That proposal will be made online and a second person can give suggestions to improve and beat that proposal.
- It is a method where third parties make offers (challenges) for a project within a designated period to avoid exaggerated project costs.
sources: the hindu, wiki.
Paper 1 Topic: Art and culture.
Don’t lift ban on Jallikattu, Attorney General advises Centre
The government’s top law officer has advised the environment ministry against lifting the ban on Jallikattu, the bull-taming sport of Tamil Nadu.
- The Centre had earlier indicated it may allow the sport in Tamil Nadu for a limited period in mid-January despite opposition from animal rights activists.
- Attorney general Mukul Rohatgi, whose opinion the government had sought, has said that allowing such sports would be a violation of the Supreme Court’s May 2014 judgement that said “bulls cannot be allowed as performing animals, either for Jallikattu events or bullock cart races in the state of Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra or elsewhere in the country.”
- The Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) has also asked the government to not overturn the SC judgement. The court had held that Jallikattu violates the provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.
Jallikattu is a bull taming sport played in Tamil Nadu as a part of Pongal celebrations on Mattu Pongal day. It is a Tamil tradition called ‘Yeru thazhuvuthal’ in Sangam literature(meaning, to embrace bulls), popular amongst warriors during the Tamil classical period.
- Jallikattu is based on the concept of “flight or fight”. All castes participate in the event. The majority of jallikattu bulls belong to the pulikulam breed of cattle.
sources: the hindu, wiki.
Paper 3 Topic: Inclusive growth and issues.
Panel to study wage, service conditions of rural postal workers
A one man Committee to examine the wage structure, service conditions, etc. of the Gramin Dak Sevaks in the Department of Posts has been constituted by the Government of India.
- Shri Kamlesh Chandra, Retired Member of Postal Services Board, will constitute the Committee.
- The Committee will go into the service conditions of Gramin Dak Sevaks and suggest changes as considered necessary.
The terms of reference of the Committee will, inter-alia, include the following:-
- To examine the system of Branch Post Offices, engagement conditions and the existing structure of wage and enrolments paid to the Gramin Dak Sevaks and recommend necessary changes;
- To review the existing Services Discharge Benefits Scheme/other social security benefits for the Gramin Dak Sevaks and suggest necessary changes;
- To review the existing facilities/welfare measures provided to the Gramin Dak Sevaks and suggest necessary changes;
- To examine and suggest any changes in the method of engagement, minimum qualification for engagement as Gramin Dak Sevaks and their conduct and disciplinary rules, particularly keeping in view the proposed induction of technology in the Rural Post Offices.
Who are Gramin Dak Sevaks?
- They are extra-departmental agents recruited by the Department of Posts (DoP) to serve in rural areas.
Presently, the Department of Post has 2.6 lakh Gramin Dak Sevaks. All these GDSs will come under the purview of GDS Committee.
Topic: General awareness.
2015 Sangita Kalanidhi award
South Indian classical vocalists Sanjay Subrahmanyam has been conferred with the 2015 Sangita Kalanidhi award.
- He will be amongst the youngest list of musicians who had received the prestigious award before turning 50.
Sangita Kalanidhi award:
- It is a prestigious award bestowed annually upon an expert of Carnatic Music by the Madras Music Academy.
- This honour is considered one of the highest awards in Carnatic music.