Insights Daily Current Events, 21 July 2016
Paper 2 Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
Tea Board unveils accident cover for workers
The Tea Board of India has introduced an accident insurance scheme for workers in small tea gardens at an annual premium of Rs.14. Of this, tea farmers will have to pay only Rs. 3.50 annually.
- The scheme provides compensation to small tea farmers between 18 and 70 years for a Rs.2 lakh-cover.
The share of small growers in total Indian tea production is rising. Of the total Indian tea production of 1,233 million kg in 2015-16, around 33.8% came from small tea gardens. The scheme aims to help these small growers along with tea growers in the unorganized sector.
About Tea Board of India:
The Tea Board is set up under the Tea Act 1953. It has succeeded the Central Tea Board and the Indian Tea Licencing Committee which functioned respectively under the Central Tea Board Act, 1949 and the Indian Tea Control Act, 1938 which were repealed.
- The Tea Board is functioning as a statutory body of the Central Government under the Ministry of Commerce.
- The Board is constituted of 31 members (including Chairman) drawn from Members of Parliament, tea producers, tea traders, tea brokers, consumers, and representatives of Governments from the principal tea producing states, and trade unions . The Board is reconstituted every three years.
- The Tea Board India is responsible for the assignment of certification numbers to exports of certain tea merchants. This certification is intended to ensure the teas’ origin, which in turn would reduce the amount of fraudulent labelling on rare teas.
- The Tea Board India’s tasks include endorsement of the diverse production and productivity of tea, financial support of research organisations and the monitoring of advances in tea packaging as it relates to health beneficial aspects.
- It coordinates research institutes, the tea trade and government bodies, ensuring the technical support of the tea trade in the global industry.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cyber security; money-laundering and its prevention.
Cabinet approves amendment in the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) amendment Bill
The Union Cabinet has given its approval for introducing amendments to the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) (Amendment) Bill, 2015 in Parliament. The amendments aim to strengthen the Bill in terms of legal and administrative procedure so as to overcome the practical difficulties which may arise in the implementation of the provisions of the Bill when it becomes an Act.
Significance of the Bill:
- The legislation is intended to effectively prohibit benami transactions and consequently prevent circumvention of law through unfair practices.
- It empowers the Government to confiscate benami property by following due procedure. It therefore promotes equity across all citizens.
- Also, those who declare their benami properties under income declaration scheme will get immunity under the Benami Act.
- The Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Bill is aimed at curbing domestic black money.
- The bill provides for a fine of up to 25% of the fair value of the asset and imprisonment of up to seven years, unlike an earlier lapsed version of the bill, which stipulated either a fine or imprisonment.
- Under the bill, the term “property” will cover movable, immovable, tangible and intangible properties. In case of joint ownership of property, the tax payer will have to show financing sources.
The bill was tabled in May last year but was subsequently referred to Parliament’s standing committee on finance. The committee submitted its report in the budget session this year and recommended a host of small changes including providing more time to allow property holders to furnish information, a time-bound process for initiating investigation and for filing appeals.
What is benami property?
The benami (without a name) property refers to property purchased by a person in the name of some other person. The person on whose name the property has been purchased is called the benamdar and the property so purchased is called the benami property. The person who finances the deal is the real owner.
Paper 2 Topic: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States.
Nod to Transgender Bill
The cabinet has approved the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill 2016 for social, economic and educational empowerment of transgenders.
- The bill will benefit a large number of transgender persons, mitigate the stigma, discrimination and abuse against this marginalized section and bring them into the mainstream of society.
- It will lead to greater inclusiveness and will make the transgender persons productive members of the society.
- The bill will make all the stakeholders responsive and accountable for upholding the principles underlying the bill.
- It will bring greater accountability on the part of the central government and state governments/Union Territories administrations for issues concerning transgender persons.
The transgender community is one of the most marginalized in the country because they don’t fit into existing gender categories. Consequently, they face problems ranging from social exclusion to discrimination, lack of education facilities, unemployment, and lack of medical facilities.
Paper 3 Topic: infrastructure.
Sagarmala Development Company (SDC)
The cabinet has approved incorporation of the Sagarmala Development Company (SDC) with a share capital of Rs.1,000 crore.
- With the formation of the SDC, the shipping ministry will now be able to provide equity support to the Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) and funding support to the residual projects under its ambitious Sagarmala Programme.
- SDC will be under the administrative control of the Ministry of Shipping.
- SDC will be incorporated under the Companies Act, 2013, with an initial Authorized Share Capital of Rs. 1,000 Crore and a Subscribed Share Capital of Rs. 90 Crore.
- SDC will Identify port-led development projects and assist the project SPVs in project development and structuring activities, bidding out projects for private sector participation, putting in place suitable risk management measures for strategic projects cutting across multiple States / Regions and obtaining requisite approvals and clearances.
- Since the Identified projects will be undertaken by multiple agencies, SDC will also work as the nodal agency for coordination and monitoring of all the currently identified projects as well as other projects emerging from the master plans or other sources.
- SDC will undertake the preparation of the detailed master plans for the Coastal Economic Zones (CEZs) identified as part of the NPP and provide a framework for ensuring the integrated development of Indian maritime sector.
- Other important role assigned to SDC is to manage the coastal community development scheme and fund coastal community development projects identified under the Sagarmala Programme. The projects considered would be specific time-bound local interventions and innovative in nature.
- SDC will be raising funds as debt/equity (as long term capital), as per the project requirements/ by leveraging .resources provided by the Government of India and from multi-lateral and bilateral funding agencies. SDC will also aim to increase the scope of private sector participation in project development.
Sagarmala is a strategic and customer-oriented initiative of the shipping ministry to modernize India’s ports so that port-led development can be augmented and 7,500 km of coastline across 13 states can be developed to contribute in India’s growth.
The shipping ministry estimates that Sagarmala can lead to annual logistics savings of close to Rs.35,000 crore and boost India’s merchandise exports to $110 billion by 2025. Apart from this, the Sagarmala project is estimated to create 10 million new jobs, 4 million of which will be direct employment.
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.
New IT Ministry to have say over UIDAI and NIC
A mega role for the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has been carved out with say over all policy matters relating to information technology, electronics and the Internet, other than licensing of Internet Service Providers.
- In this regard, the amendments made by President Pranab Mukherjee to the Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules, 1961 pertaining to the Ministry of Electronics and Information and the Ministry of Science and Technology and Earth Sciences were recently notified by the cabinet secretariat.
- Under the new rules, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology will have complete jurisdiction over the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) and National Informatics Centre.
- Two separate departments, Telecommunications and Posts, have been placed under the Ministry of Communications headed by the Minister of State for Communications (Independent Charge).
- All matters relating to cyber laws, administration of the Information Technology Act, 2000 (21 of 2000) and other IT-related laws would be part of the domain of the new Ministry.
- The Ministry would lead the ‘Initiative on bridging the Digital Divide: Matters relating to Media Lab Asia’, Promotion of Standardisation, Testing and Quality in IT and standardisation of procedure for IT application and Tasks.
- The Ministry has also been entrusted with the task of promotion of the Internet, IT and IT-enabled services, assistance to other departments in the promotion of e-Governance, e-Commerce, e-Medicine, e-Infrastructure and promotion of IT education and IT-based education.
- It would also deal with matters relating to promotion and manufacturing of Semiconductor Devices in the country excluding all matters relating to Semiconductor Complex Limited (SCL), Mohali.
- Besides, interaction in IT-related matters with international agencies such as Internet for Business Limited (IFB), Institute for Education in Information Society and International Code Council (ICC) would also be under its ambit.
Sources: the hindu.
Facts for Prelims:
- The Union Cabinet has approved signing of the Air Services Agreement between India and Mozambique. Presently there is no Air Services Agreement between India and Mozambique. To promote the air connectivity between the two countries, the two sides initiated the process of consultation in 2011 to finalize the text of Air Services Agreement.
- The Union Cabinet has given its approval for establishment of new All India Institutes of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) at Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh under Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY). The setting up of AIIMS under PMSSY aims correcting the regional imbalances in availability of affordable/reliable tertiary level healthcare in the country in general, and to augment facilities for quality medical education in under-served or backward States, in particular. Under this scheme, AIIMS have been established in Bhubaneshwar, Bhopal, Raipur, Jodhpur, Rishikesh and Patna while work of AIIMS Rae Bareli is in progress. Also, three AIIMS in Nagpur (Maharashtra), Kalyani(West) and Mangalagiri in Guntur (A.P) have been sanctioned in 2015.