Insights Daily Current Events, 07 June 2016
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.
PAC slams DoT, FinMin units on revenue loss to Govt
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has slammed telecom and finance Ministries for “inefficient functioning” of some units. PAC examined a CAG audit showing Rs 12,488 crore loss to exchequer due to under-reporting of revenue by six firms including Airtel, Vodafone and RCOM.
- PAC has observed that the lack of proper supervision of Controllers of Communications Accounts (CCAs) in Department of Telecom (DoT) and the Financial Wing in the Finance Ministry has “contributed to significant financial loss to the exchequer”.
In its report, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) had said that Reliance Communications, Tata Tele, Vodafone, Airtel, Idea and Aircel under-reported their adjusted gross revenue by Rs 46,045.75 crore, leading to a loss of Rs 12,488.93 crore to the exchequer from 2006 to 2010.
The CAG had said adjustment of one-time entry fee paid by telecom firms, whose licences were quashed by the Supreme Court, deprived exchequer of Rs 5,476.3 crore.
Facts- Public Accounts Committee:
- The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is a committee of selected members of Parliament, constituted by the Parliament of India, for the auditing of the expenditure of the Government of India.
- The Committee is formed every year with strength of not more than 22 members of which 15 are from Lok Sabha and 7 from Rajya Sabha.
- The Chairman is appointed by the Speaker of Lok Sabha. Since 1967, the chairman of the committee is selected from the opposition. Earlier, it was headed by a member of the ruling party.
- Its chief function is to examine the audit report of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) after it is laid in the Parliament. CAG assists the committee during the course of investigation.
- A Minister is not eligible to be elected as a member of the Committee and if a member, after his election to the Committee, is appointed as a Minister, he ceases to be a member of the Committee from the date of such appointment.
- The term of office of members of the Committee does not exceed one year at a time.
- The Committee is assisted by the Comptroller and Auditor General in the examination of Accounts and Audit Reports.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: Security challenges and their management in border areas; linkages of organized crime with terrorism.
Ships get relief from piracy related insurance premium at Indian ports
Ships now entering or leaving Indian ports are not required to pay a piracy-related additional insurance premium now. This move is expected to help thousands of the vessels.
- About 22,000 ships, that called on Indian ports between 2010 and 2015, paid an estimated additional war risk premium (AWRP) of about Rs.8,500 crore.
The development has come after seas near the country’s western coast were removed from the list of the High Risk Areas (HRA) for piracy. European Union then Chair of the Contact Group of Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS), in October 2015, had announced the revision of the limits of the piracy High Risk Area (HRA). With this, India’s west coast was excluded from piracy High Risk Area (HRA). HRA was redrawn at 65 Degrees E. The decision came into effect from December 1, 2015.
About Contact Group of Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS):
The CGPCS was set up as a group of affected nations, industry associations and multilateral agencies to take steps for checking piracy in the Indian Ocean. It was established in 2009.
- It was established in response to United Nations Security Council Resolution 1851 (2008), later recalled and replaced with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1918 (2010).
- The CGPCS does not have a standing secretariat. Chairpersonship of the plenary and the working groups is rotating.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: RPA.
Election Commission writes to Centre, seeks power to postpone, revoke polls
The Election Commission of India has written to the Centre seeking amendment to the Representation of the People Act to confer specific powers on the election watchdog to postpone or countermand polls based on evidence that money power was used to influence voters.
The Commission has asked the government to insert a new clause ‘58 B’ in the Representation of the People Act, 1951 to allow adjournment or countermanding of election in the affected polling areas on the grounds of use of money power. The provision would also empower the Commission to re-schedule the elections in such areas.
The Commission said in Clause 58 A and the proposed provision 58 B, the expression “countermand the election” would mean ab initio rescinding of the entire electoral process in the constituency. Clause 58 A empowers the Election Commission to cancel polls only if there is an evidence of booth-capturing or use of muscle power to influence the outcome of elections.
Why this is necessary?
Presently, ECI can take actions under Article 324 of the Constitution. But, there is no specific provision in the RPA to this effect. Since the Constitutional provisions need to be invoked sparingly ECI has sought insertion of a clause empowering the ECI to take action in case there is evidence proving that money was used to influence voters.
Section 58A was introduced in the 1980s when booth-capturing was rampant during elections in many parts of the country. Booth-capturing has come down drastically with the use of electronic voting machines. But with changing times ECI is faced with newer challenges that vitiate the polling atmosphere. Misuse of money is the biggest hurdle it faces in conducting free and fair elections.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.
Swiss back India’s bid for nuclear group membership
In a major boost to its diplomatic push for Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) membership, India has managed to win crucial support from Switzerland.
- In this regard, Swiss President Johann Schneider-Ammann has announced his country’s support for India’s membership to the elite NSG after holding comprehensive talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on a range of bilateral and global issues.
Switzerland is a key member of the NSG and its support for India’s bid for membership is seen as crucial in the backdrop of China harping on the need for consensus as India was not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
The U.S. and many other NSG member countries have supported India’s inclusion, based on its non-proliferation track record. The NSG works under the principle of unanimity and even one country’s vote against India will scuttle its bid.
Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is a multinational body concerned with reducing nuclear proliferation by controlling the export and re-transfer of materials that may be applicable to nuclear weapon development and by improving safeguards and protection on existing materials.
It was set up in 1974 as a reaction to India’s nuclear tests to stop what it called the misuse of nuclear material meant for peaceful purposes. Currently, it has 48 members.
Sources: the hindu.
Facts for Prelims:
- According to the new Landsat study, Arctic regions of North America are getting greener due to changing climate. According to the study, almost a third of the Arctic land cover is now looking more like landscapes found in warmer ecosystems. Temperatures are warming faster in the Arctic than elsewhere, which has led to longer seasons for plants to grow in and changes to the soils. Landsat is a programme that provides the longest continuous space-based record of Earth’s land vegetation in existence. It shows the climate impact on vegetation in the high latitudes.
- Assam’s Guwahati became the first city in the country to have its own city animal with the district administration declaring the Gangetic river dolphin as the mascot. It is locally known as ‘Sihu’. The district administration had organised online and offline voting among three protected creatures, which are on the verge of extinction, to decide the mascot. Along with Gangetic river dolphin, the other two animals were black softshell turtle (Bor Kaso) and greater adjutant stork (Hargila).
- At the recent meeting of Contact Group of Piracy off the Coast of Somalia’ (CGPCS) in Mahe, India was chosen to co-chair the Working Group on improving maritime situational awareness in the Indian ocean region through consensus. Seychelles is the current chairman of the CGPCS for the biennium 2016-17.
- World Environment Day (WED) was celebrated across the globe on 5th June. The objective of the event is to raise awareness about the leading issue of the sustainability of our environment. It was initiated in 1973 by the United Nations General Assembly and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to address colossal issues like global warming, deforestation and food shortages among many others. The Theme for 2016 is “Go Wild for Life” (ZERO TOLERANCE FOR THE ILLEGAL WILDLIFE TRADE). Angola is the host country of this year.
- India has been placed at the second position in retail potential in the 2016 Global Retail Development Index (GRDI). The country was ranked 15 in the previous year. The report profiled 30 developing countries. It is released by AT Kearney, a Chicago-based consultancy. India’s retail sector has expanded at a compound annual growth rate of 8.8 per cent between 2013 and 2015, according to the report.
- Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje recently launched two apps. One, a mobile app ‘RajVayu‘ for sharing information about air quality index of Jaipur, Jodhpur and Udaipur. Another app ‘Drishti‘ for monitoring of pollution levels in industrial regions. Both apps were launched on the eve of World Environment Day. RajVayu is based on the data collected by sophisticated air quality monitoring equipment and weather sensors. It would share details about the air quality, such as levels of pollutants likes Particulate Matter, SOx, NOx, CO, Ozone particles with the city residents and tourists. Also, temperature, humidity, wind speed, weather forecast and advisories would be issued through this. Rajasthan State Pollution Control Board (RSPCB) is the first state Board in the country to have this app for its citizens. This is based on the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting Research (SAFAR-India). Presently, Delhi, Mumbai and Pune are connected with this system.
- Himachal Pradesh has become the first state in the country to have a State Data Centre (SDC), designed using green data centre concept, to offer 101 people-oriented service online through an integrated data base. SDC would integrate the websites of various departments and all services could be accessible through the integrated data base, saving time and money spent on creation of infrastructure. It is a major green initiative as all services would be provided online and online and paperless governance will become a reality.