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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 16 December 2017

Insights Daily Current Affairs, 16 December 2017


Paper 2:

Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.


Medical Council of India

Context: The Union Cabinet has cleared the National Medical Commission Bill, which does away with the Medical Council of India (MCI) and replaces it with a regulator that will do away with “heavy handed regulatory control” over medical institutions and will also bring in a national licentiate examination.


Key features of the Bill:

  • The bill provides for the constitution of four autonomous boards entrusted with conducting undergraduate and postgraduate education, assessment and accreditation of medical institutions and registration of practitioners under the National Medical Commission.
  • According to the draft bill, the commission will have government nominated chairman and members, and the board members will be selected by a search committee under the Cabinet Secretary. There will five elected and 12 ex-officio members in the commission.
  • As per the Bill, the government, under the National Medical Commission (NMC), can dictate guidelines for fees up to 40% of seats in private medical colleges. This is aimed at giving students relief from the exorbitant fees charged by these colleges and is a standout feature of the bill.
  • The bill also has a provision for a common entrance exam and licentiate (exit) exam that medical graduates have to pass before practising or pursuing PG courses. For MBBS, students have to clear NEET, and before they step into practice, they must pass the exit exam.
  • Recognised medical institutions don’t need the regulator’s permission to add more seats or start PG course. This mechanism to reduce the discretionary powers of the regulator.
  • Earlier, medical colleges required the MCI’s approval for establishment, recognition, renewal of the yearly permission or recognition of degrees, and even increase the number of students they admitted. Under the new bill, the powers of the regulator are reduced to establishment and recognition. This means less red tape, but also less scrutiny of medical colleges.



The Medical Council of India was first established in 1934 under the Indian Medical Council Act, 1933. This Act was repealed and replaced with a new Act in 1956. Under the 1956 Act, the objectives of MCI include:

  • Maintenance of standards in medical education through curriculum guidelines, inspections and permissions to start colleges, courses or increasing number of seats.
  • Recognition of medical qualifications.
  • Registration of doctors and maintenance of the All India Medical Register.
  • Regulation of the medical profession by prescribing a code of conduct and taking action against erring doctors.


 Sources: the hindu.

Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.


Commissioner of Metro Railway Safety

Context: The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the creation of one circle office of Commissioner of Metro Railway Safety (CMRS), along-with all supporting officers and staffs for carrying out the functions of Commission of Metro Railway Safety as envisaged in the “Metro Railways (Operations and Maintenance) Act, 2002”, in the Commission of Railway Safety under the Ministry of Civil Aviation.

Creation of these posts will ensure focused attention on the passenger safety and metro rail operation related issues, in respect of existing, as well as upcoming various metro rail projects.


Implementation strategy and targets:

The post of Commissioner of Metro Railway Safety shall be filled from the cadre of Indian Railway Engineering Services (IRSE, IRSEE, IRSSE, RSME) & IRTS by the Ministry of Civil Aviation through nomination from willing officers from Ministry of Railways in consultation with UPSC, initially according to Recruitment Rules for Commissioner of Railway Safety in the Commission of Railway Safety. The process to fill up the posts shall be initiated within two months.


About the Commission of Railway Safety:

What is it? The Commission of Railway Safety working under the administrative control of the Ministry of Civil Aviation (Govt. of India), deals with the matters pertaining to safety of rail travel and train operation and is charged with certain statutory functions laid down in the Railway Act’1989.

Functions: Functions performed by the organization are inspectorial, investigatory and advisory in nature. The Commission functions according to certain rules framed under the railways Act and executive instructions issued from time to time. The most important duty of the Commission is to ensure that any new railway line to be opened for passenger traffic should conform to the standard and specifications prescribed by the Ministry of Railways and the new line is safe in all respects for carrying the passenger traffic. This is also applicable to other works such as gauge conversion, doubling of lines and electrification of existing lines etc. The Commission also conducts statutory inquiries into serious train accidents and makes recommendations for improving safety on the railways in India.

CMRS: The CMRS will be administratively under the control of Chief Commissioner of Railway Safety under Ministry of Civil Aviation. With a view to accord priority to passenger safety and also to ensure uniformity in safety certification, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs while enacting the “Metro railways (Operations and Maintenance) Act, 2002”, has assigned similar functions to Commissioner of Metro Railway safety (CMRS) in respect of Metro Railways.


Sources: pib.

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.


Karnataka HC strikes down rule on stringent tobacco pack warnings


Context: Karnataka High Court has declared as unconstitutional the Cigarette and other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labelling) Amendment Rules, 2014, which had enhanced to 85% the area of pictorial warning on the principal area of packages of cigarette and other tobacco products.


The court cited the following reasons for this move:

  • The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare unilaterally framed the Rules without concurrence of the other departments concerned, and this was a violation of the Article 77 (Conduct of Business of Government of India) and the Transaction of Business (ToB) rules framed under it as the subject of tobacco control and legislation was not attached to one department or Ministry.
  • Also, the rules were notified even before the Parliamentary Committee on sub-ordinate legislations was examining them. Ministry of Commerce had also opposed 85% area for pictorial warning on the ground that it would not result in any benefit and wanted to restrict the pictorial warnings to 40% or 50% . And the Labour Ministry too had opposed pictorial warning for the reason that it would harm the beedi industry, on which several poor families are depending upon for their livelihood.
  • The rules are also contrary to Article 19(1)(g) [right to practise any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business] as they are “unreasonable” restrictions imposed “without application of mind or any basis.”



A notification by the health ministry on 24 September 2015 for implementation of the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labeling) Amendment Rules, 2014 came into force on 1 April. It prescribed larger pictorial petitions, covering 85% of the size of the packets of tobacco products, including cigarettes and beedis.


Sources: the hindu.

Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.


National Ayush Mission (NAM)

Context: The Union Cabinet has approved the continuation of Centrally Sponsored Scheme of National Ayush Mission (NAM) from 01.04.2017 to 31.03.2020 with an outlay of Rs. 2400 crore over the 3 year period.


National AYUSH mission:

National AYUSH mission was launched in September 2014 by the government of India.

Aim: It is aimed at addressing the gaps in health services by supporting AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy) care and education, particularly in vulnerable and far-flung areas.



  • Under the mission, special focus will be given to specific needs of vulnerable areas and allocation of higher resources in their annual plans.
  • The Mission will help in the improvement of AYUSH education through enhancement in the number of upgraded educational institutions.
  • It will provide better access to AYUSH services through increase in number of AYUSH hospitals and dispensaries, availability of drugs and manpower.
  • It provides sustained availability of quality raw material for AYUSH systems of medicine.
  • It improves availability of quality Ayurvedic, Siddha, Unani and Homoeopathy drugs through increase in the number of pharmacies, drug laboratories and improved enforcement mechanism.


Way ahead:

The National AYUSH Mission intends to build on India’s unmatched heritage represented by its ancient systems of medicine like Ayurveda, Sidhha, Unani & Homeopathy (ASU&H) which are a treasure house of knowledge for preventive and promotive healthcare. The positive features of the Indian systems of medicine namely their diversity and flexibility; accessibility; affordability, a broad acceptance by a large section of the general public; comparatively lesser cost and growing economic value, have great potential to make them providers of healthcare that the large sections of our people need.


Sources: pib.


Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.


North East Special Infrastructure Development Scheme” (NESIDS)

The Union Cabinet has approved the introduction of new Central Sector Scheme of “North East Special Infrastructure Development Scheme” (NESIDS) from 2017-18 with 100% funding from the Central Government to fill up the gaps in creation of infrastructure in specified sectors till March, 2020.


The new scheme will broadly cover creation of infrastructure under following sectors:

  • Physical infrastructure relating to water supply, power, connectivity and specially the projects promoting tourism;
  • Infrastructure of social sectors of education and health.


Benefits of NESIDS:

The assets to be created under the new scheme of NESIDS will not only strengthen health care and education facilities in the region but will also encourage tourism thereby the employment opportunities for local youth. The scheme will act as a catalyst in overall development of the region in the years to come.


Sources: pib.


Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.




Context: The Union Cabinet has approved the continuation of the existing Non Lapsable Central Pool of Resources (NLCPR) scheme with funding pattern of 90:10 till March, 2020 with an outlay of Rs.5300.00 crore. It would enable completion of ongoing projects.


About NLCPR:

The broad objective of the Non-lapsable Central Pool of Resources scheme is to ensure speedy development of infrastructure in the North Eastern Region by increasing the flow of budgetary financing for new infrastructure projects/schemes in the Region. Both physical and social infrastructure sectors such as Irrigation and Flood Control, Power, Roads and Bridges, Education, Health, Water Supply and Sanitation – are considered for providing support under the Central Pool, with projects in physical infrastructure sector receiving priority.

Funds from the Central Pool can be released for State sector as well as Central sector projects/schemes. However the funds available under the Central Pool are not meant to supplement the normal Plan programmes either of the State Governments or Union Ministries/ Departments/ Agencies.


Sources: pib.


Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.


International Training Centre for Operational Oceanography


The Union Cabinet has approved the establishment of International Training Centre for Operational Oceanography, as a Category-2 Centre (C2C) of UNESCO, in Hyderabad.

The purpose of this Agreement is to establish a training centre towards development of capacity for the countries on the Indian Ocean Rim (IOR), African countries bordering the Indian and Atlantic Oceans, small island countries under the framework of UNESCO.


What is operational oceanography?

The operational oceanography is an activity of conducting systematic oceanographic studies towards providing information services to various sectors viz. fisherman, disaster management, shipping, ports, coastal states, navy, coast guard, environment, offshore industries for conducting their day-to- day operations.


Significance of this move:

  • The Centre will provide assistance in areas of capacity building and training, knowledge sharing and exchange of information, and hence could represent a valuable resource for UNESCO and its Intergovernmental Oceanography Commission (IOC) by enhancing the impact and visibility of UNESCO’s action.
  • The establishment of UNESCO Category-2 Centre will provide an opportunity for India to emerge as a leading country in the Indian Ocean. This will also help India to forge cooperation and improve engagement among the counties of the Indian Ocean, including South Asian and African states bordering the Indian Ocean.
  • The establishment of the centre would respond to the worldwide increasing need to build technical and management capacity to address marine and coastal sustainability issues and prepare the region for and react efficiently to marine natural hazards.
  • The Centre could contribute to achieving Sustainable Development Goal-14 (SDG 14) related to building marine scientific research capacity in geographical area of the Centre responsibility which will also fulfil the commitments to support Small Island Developing States, Least Developed Countries.
  • The establishment of C2C is also expected to increase ancillary development leading to employment generation in India.


Sources: pib.


Paper 3:

Topic: employment.


Special package for employment generation in leather and footwear sector

Special package for employment generation in leather and footwear sector

Context: The Union Cabinet has approved the special package for employment generation in leather and    footwear sector. The package involves implementation of Central Sector Scheme “Indian Footwear, Leather & Accessories Development Programme” with an approved expenditure of Rs. 2600 Crore over the three financial years from 2017-18 to 2019-20.


The Indian Footwear, Leather & Accessories Development Programme has the following sub- schemes:

  • Human Resource Development (HRD) sub-scheme.
  • Integrated Development of Leather Sector (IDLS) sub-scheme.
  • Establishment of Institutional Facilities sub-scheme.
  • Mega Leather, Footwear and Accessories Cluster (MLFAC) sub-scheme.
  • Leather Technology, Innovation and Environmental Issues sub-scheme.
  • Promotion of Indian Brands in Leather, Footwear and Accessories Sector sub-scheme.
  • Additional Employment Incentive for Leather, Footwear and Accessories Sector sub-scheme.


Significance of the scheme:

  • The scheme would lead to development of infrastructure for the leather sector, address environment concerns specific to the leather sector, facilitate additional investments, employment generation and increase in production.
  • Enhanced Tax incentive would attract large scale investments in the sector and reform in labour law in view of seasonal nature of the sector will support economies of scale.
  • The Special Package has the potential to generate 3.24 lakhs new jobs in 3 years and assist in formalization of 2 lakh jobs as cumulative impact in Footwear, Leather & Accessories Sector.


Sources: pib.

Topic: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.


Tuitial Hydroelectric Power Project

Context: The 60 MW Tuirial Hydro Electric Power Project (HEPP) has been formally dedicated to the Nation.


About the project:

The Project is the biggest power project located in the State of Mizoram and will feed the entire energy to be generated to the home State, which will facilitate all-round development of the State and achieving Government of India’s ambitious and flagship Mission ‘24×7 Affordable Clean Power for All’.

The Tuirial HEPP has been constructed as a Central Sector Project and implemented by North Eastern Electric Power Corporation (NEEPCO), under the administrative control of the Ministry of Power, Government of India.


Significance of this project:

The State’s current demand of electricity is only 87 MW and this is being met by State’s mini power projects and availability of its share of power from central sector projects. With the additional 60 MW of electricity from the project, the State of Mizoram will now be the third power-surplus State in North East India after Sikkim and Tripura. Apart from attaining self-sufficiency in electric power, the project will fetch other spin-off benefits to the State of Mizoram like employment generation, navigation, water supply, pisciculture and wild life conservation, tourism etc.


Sources: pib.


Topic: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.




Context: In order to expedite implementation of the Bharatmala Pariyojna, the project launched by the Government of India with prime focus on optimizing efficiency of the movement of goods and people across the country, NHAI has decided to start an incentive scheme for its officials.

  • The scheme not only envisages completing the projects earlier than the scheduled time, but also aims at savings on account of cost overruns due to time delays. The scheme will reward hardworking, meritorious officials and will act as a catalyst to motivate other officials to work more efficiently.
  • Under this scheme, cash incentives and other rewards such as Certificates, Trophy, Appreciation letters, etc., would be given to the NHAI officials to complete the assigned task in a time bound manner.


What is Bharatmala project?

Bharatmala Project is the second largest highways construction project in the country since NHDP, under which almost 50,000 km or highway roads were targeted across the country. Bharatmala will look to improve connectivity particularly on economic corridors, border areas and far flung areas with an aim of quicker movement of cargo and boosting exports.

Bharatmala includes economic corridors of around 9,000 km, inter-corridor and feeder routes of around 6,000 km, 5,000 km roads under the National Corridors Efficiency Program, border and international connectivity roads of around 2,000 km, coastal and port connectivity roads of around 2,000 km, expressways of around 800 km and 10,000 km of NHDP roads. The total length in phase 1 comes to around 34,800 km.


Significance of the project:

The project is expected to create nearly 100 million man days of jobs during the road construction and subsequently 22 million jobs as a result of the increased economic activity across the country.


Sources: pib.