Insights Daily Current Affairs, 28 July 2016
Paper 2 Topic: Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary Ministries and Departments of the Government; pressure groups and formal/informal associations and their role in the Polity.
Cabinet rescinds decision to set up Concurrent Evaluation Office in Ministry of Rural Development
The Union Cabinet has decided to rescind the earlier decision of the Government to set up the Concurrent Evaluation Office (CEO) for managing Concurrent Evaluation Network (CENET) in Ministry of Rural Development.
- The decision will pave the way for a need based strengthening of the Economic and Monitoring Wing of the Ministry of Rural Development for managing and carrying out evaluation studies of Rural Development programmes.
The CEO was envisaged to undertake concurrent evaluation of Rural Development programmes in conjunction with Independent Evaluation Office (IEO) of the erstwhile Planning Commission.
About the CEO:
The proposal for a concurrent evaluation office (CEO) was approved by the Union cabinet in 2013.
- The CEO was envisaged to manage a system of concurrent evaluations that will be done through an accredited network of reputed institutions – a Concurrent Evaluation Network (CENET).
- The CEO had to disseminate data related to the Ministry’s work in the public domain and produce a world-class annual report of the evaluation activities and findings.
- The institutions was supported by the Indian Council for Social Science Research (ICSSR), institutes of national importance as designated by the GoI, the Indian Institutes of Management, and some other reputed institutions.
- Identify appropriate evaluations to be undertaken.
- Design Terms of Reference (ToRs) and identify appropriate institutions to undertake studies.
- Guide the implementation of the studies to ensure they are on time and of requisite quality.
- Identify learnings and recommend policy changes.
- Review the “Action taken reports” prepared by the program divisions in response to the evaluations.
- Disseminate findings and datasets.
- Produce an annual report of its activities and key findings of its studies.
Paper 2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Cabinet approves revised cost estimate for NATRIP project
Government has approved the revised cost estimate of Rs 3,727.30 crore for the National Automotive Testing and R&D Infrastructure Project (NATRIP).
- This approval ensures completion of the projects under NATRIP which is an important initiative by the government for the establishment of the global test centres in India.
- This will address the R&D requirements of the automotive industry, full-fledged testing and homologation centres.
- Also, the NATRIP project is required to adopt global best practices to ensure road safety, environmental protection etc in design, manufacture, testing and operation of motor vehicles in India since India is signatory to UN Regulation on Harmonisation of Vehicle Specifications under WP-29 of 1998.
National Automotive Testing and R&D Infrastructure Project (NATRiP), the largest and one of the most significant initiatives in Automotive sector so far, represents a unique joining of hands between the Government of India, a number of State Governments and Indian Automotive Industry to create a state of the art Testing, Validation and R&D infrastructure in the country.
The Project aims at creating core global competencies in Automotive sector in India and facilitate seamless integration of Indian Automotive industry with the world as also to position the country prominently on the global automotive map.
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.
Lok Sabha approves changes in Lokpal Act
Lok Sabha has approved an amendment to the Lokpal Act to allow extension to 50 lakh central government employees and NGOs receiving government funds in the deadline for filing asset declaration beyond July 31.
- Spouse and dependent children of government employees, ministers and MPs have been spared from declaring their assets.
- Also, the deadline for filing asset declaration by public servants and certain NGOs has been extended beyond July 31. The NGOs that receive more than 1 crore of government grants and donations above 10 lakh from abroad fall under the ambit of Lokpal.
- However, the senior management personnel of NGOs and public servants are still required to declare their assets.
- The amendment pertains to Section 44 of the Lokpal Act which deals with declaration of assets and provision of making assets public.
As per the rules notified under the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act 2013, every public servant shall file declaration, information and annual returns pertaining to his assets and liabilities as well as for his spouse and dependent children on March 31 every year or on or before July 31 of that year.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: awareness in space.
Farewell Philae: Earth severs link with silent probe on comet
Earth has bid a final farewell to robot lab Philae, severing communications after a year-long silence from the pioneering probe hurtling through space on a comet.
- After more than 12 months without news, it has been decided to preserve all remaining energy available to Philae’s orbiting mothership Rosetta. Rosetta will remain in orbit around comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko for another two months.
- Rosetta will crash-land on September 30 to join Philae in their final resting place, concluding a historic quest for cometary clues to the origins of life on Earth.
Philae ’s mission was to land successfully on the surface of a comet, attach itself, and transmit data from the surface about the comet’s composition. It is a robotic European Space Agency lander.
- It landed on comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, more than ten years after departing Earth.
- The mission seeks to unlock the long-held secrets of comets — primordial clusters of ice and dust that scientists believe may reveal how the Solar System was formed.
- The scientific goals of the mission focus on “elemental, isotopic, molecular and mineralogical composition of the cometary material, the characterization of physical properties of the surface and subsurface material, the large-scale structure and the magnetic and plasma environment of the nucleus.”
- Philae was equipped with an array of experiments to photograph and test the surface of Comet 67P as well as to find out what happens when the roasting effect of the sun drives off gas and dust.
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.
Lok Sabha passes comprehensive Bill to check benami transactions
Seeking to check black money, Lok Sabha has passed a comprehensive Benami Transactions Amendment Bill, with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley assuring that genuine religious trusts will be kept out of the purview of the legislation.
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 also seeks to establish an Appellate Tribunal to hear appeals against any orders passed by the Adjudicating Authority. Appeals against orders of the Appellate Tribunal will lie to the high court.
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.
Sources: the hindu.
Facts for Prelims:
- The Union Cabinet has given its approval for raising foreign shareholding limit from 5% to 15% in Indian Stock Exchanges for a stock exchange, a depository, a banking company, an insurance company, a commodity derivative exchange. The Cabinet has also approved the proposal to allow foreign portfolio investors to acquire shares through initial allotment, besides secondary market, in the stock exchanges. The move will help in enhancing global competitiveness of Indian stock exchanges by accelerating/facilitating the adoption of latest technology and global best practices which will lead to overall growth and development of the Indian Capital Market.
- The Union Cabinet has approved Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) between India and Cambodia. The Treaty seeks to promote and protect investments from either country in the territory of the other country with the objective of increasing bilateral investment flows. The Treaty encourages each country to create favourable conditions for investors of the other country to make investments in its territory and to admit investments in accordance with its laws. The Treaty is the first Bilateral Investment Treaty in accordance with the text of the Indian Model BIT, approved by the Cabinet in December, 2015.
- The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the establishment of a new AIIMS at Bhatinda in Punjab under the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY). The Central Sector Scheme, Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY) was first announced in August 2003 with the primary objective of 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, Jodhpur, Raipur, Rishikesh, Bhopal and Patna while work of AIIMS Rae Bareli is in progress. Also, three AIIMS in Nagpur (Maharashtra), Kalyani (West Bengal) and Mangalagiri in Guntur (A.P) have been sanctioned in 2015.
- Bezwada Wilson, a prolific campaigner for eradication of manual scavenging in India, and Carnatic singer T M Krishna from Chennai, are the winners of the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award for 2016. Apart from the two Indians, four others have been selected for the award — Conchita Carpio-Morales of the Philippines, Dompet Dhuafa of Indonesia, Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers and ‘Vientiane Rescue’ of Laos. The prize was established in April 1957 by the trustees of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund based in New York City with the concurrence of the Philippine government. Ramon Magsaysay is an annual award established to perpetuate former Philippine President Ramon Magsaysay’s example of integrity in governance, courageous service to the people, and pragmatic idealism within a democratic society. The Ramon Magsaysay Award is often considered to be an Asian equivalent to the Nobel Prize. The award is given to individuals and organisations from asia region for their service to the society.
- The World Health Organisation (WHO) has officially declared Brazil free of measles, after no case of the disease was registered in the year 2015. Measles is a highly contagious airborne disease transmitted orally, through mucus or saliva. It mainly affects children and can be spread rapidly through the air due to sneezing or a cough. Thus it is highly infectious airborne disease.