Insights Daily Current Events, 05 January 2016
Paper 2 Topic: appointment to various constitutional posts.
RK Mathur takes oath as new CIC
Former defence secretary R.K. Mathur was recently sworn in as the 8th Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) by President Pranab Mukherjee.
- As the CIC, Mr. Mathur will have tenure of about three years, till he attains the age of 65 years.
CIC is 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.
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.
Paper 3 Topic: Infrastructure-railways.
Rail regulator to set fares, ensure fair competition
The Union government has come out with a concept paper proposing to set up a rail regulator for fixing fares and ensuring level-playing field for private investments in railway infrastructure.
- To ensure that the proposed regulator, Rail Development Authority of India, doesn’t meet Parliamentary hurdles, the Railways Ministry initially plans to set it up through an executive order and later on widen its powers.
- The proposal to set up a rail authority was announced by Rail Minister Suresh Prabhu while tabling the Rail Budget for 2015-16 last year.
About the authority:
- The proposed Rail Development Authority would be an independent body, housed outside the Ministry of Railways
- The authority will be funded through the annual railway budget sanctioned by the Parliament. The approved Budget would be placed at the disposal of the regulatory authority.
- It would also be permitted to arrange funds through adjudication fees, penalties levied and any other source as specified in the proposed Act.
Functions to be performed by the authority:
- The proposed Rail Development Authority will be mandated to set passenger and freight tariff, ensure fair play and level-playing field for private investments in Railways, maintain efficiency and performance standards, disseminate information such as statistics and forecasts related to the sector.
- The authority will set tariff based on cost recovery principle and “what the traffic can bear.”
- All the direct and indirect costs such as pension liabilities, debt servicing, replacements and renewals along with productivity parameters, market-driven demand and supply forces and future investments will be considered by the regulator before setting tariffs.
The authority will be authorised to penalise cartelisation, abuse of dominance and other unfair market mechanisms.
Who sets the Rail Tariff at present?
At present, the tariff is set by the Union government. Earlier, the revised tariff was usually announced by the Union Rail Minister in Parliament but this practice was discontinued after protests by the Members of Parliament over any proposal to hike tariff.
- The proposal for setting up a regulator comes at a time when the estimated losses in passenger segment has ballooned from Rs 6159 crore in 2004-05 to provisional estimate of over Rs 30,000 crore in 2015-16, primarily due to sharp increases in input costs and no proportionate increase in fares over the same period.
- Keeping fares within affordable limits has led to cross-subsidisation of passenger services leading to erosion of railway’s market share in freight. The total share of railways in the total transportation of freight traffic has declined from 89% in 1950-51 to 36% in 2007-08.
- The full potential of the railway sector has not been tapped as “investors have generally been shy of investing in an industry where far too much is still being done or controlled by government and the risk or return trade-off is not always favourable.”
sources: the hindu.
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.
Lodha Panel Report
The Supreme Court-appointed Lodha Committee has recommended sweeping reforms for the controversy-ridden BCCI.
- The three-member panel was headed by Justice (Retd) RM Lodha.
- One state, one cricket body: One association of each state will be a full member and have right to vote. One unit should represent one state.
- CEO-run organisation: Committee also suggested the restructuring of the BCCI’s administrative set-up, proposing the position of a CEO accountable to a nine-member apex council. An apex council for the BCCI comprising 9 members, of which 5 should be elected, 2 should be representatives of players association, and one woman. CEO to be assisted by 6 professional managers and the team of CEO and managers will be accountable to the apex council.
- Under RTI: To ensure transparency in its functioning, the panel has said that it is important to bring the body under the purview of the Right to Information Act.
- Ethics officer: The committee recommended the institution of the office of an Ethics Officer, who would be responsible for resolving issues related to the conflict of interest. Ethics officer would be a former High Court judge.
- Electoral officer: The committee has also suggested the appointment of an Electoral Officer to conduct the Board elections. The electoral officer would oversee the entire election process relating to the office-bearers namely, preparation of voters list, publication, dispute about eligibility of the office-bearers
- Ombudsman: The panel has also proposed an Ombudsman for dealing with internal conflicts. Ombudsman can take cognisance of complaints suo moto, or received complaint or referred complaint by the apex council.
- Among the most sensational recommendation by Lodha panel was the suggestion to legalize betting. The panel felt that the move would help curb corruption in the game and recommended that except for players and officials, people should be allowed to place bets on registered sites.
- The Panel also suggested that the grants given to state associations be properly monitored.
- It has also suggested that a person cannot be a BCCI office-bearer and a state association office-bearer at the same time.
sources: the hindu.
Topic: general awareness.
After A Gap of 27 Years, Bus Service Resumes Between India And Nepal
After a gap of 27 years, a bus service between India and Nepal via Champawat in Uttarakhand has resumed.
- The bus which runs between Kanchanpur in Nepal close to Banbasa border in Champavat district of Uttarakhand and Anand Vihar, Delhi has been regularised after being run on a trial basis for a week.
- The service had been suspended 27 years back in the wake of the Indo-Nepal Trade and Transit Treaty.
- The income from the area’s Tanakpur depot is also considered one of the major sources of income for Uttarakhand Parivahan Nigam.
- No special documents are required to travel in these buses.
sources: the hindu.