50 years of establishment of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL)
(Topic: Important International institutions)
About-The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) was established by the United Nations General Assembly by its Resolution 2205 (XXI) of 17 December 1966. India hosted the golden jubilee celebrations of UNCITRAL in New Delhi.
Theme– “To promote the progressive harmonization and unification of international trade law”.
India and UNCITRAL
India is one among the eight founding member countries of UNCITRAL, and has recently been re-elected for a term of six years.
UNCITRAL’s conventions and its model legal texts have formed the basis of new enactments in India. Examples—
Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1996
Information Technology Act, 2000
Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act, 2002
Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill – 2016
(Topic:Social justice and empowerment)
About- The Bill will replace the existing PwD Act, 1995. International Day of Persons with Disabilities is celebrated on 3rd December.
The salient features of the Bill are—
Disability has been defined based on an evolving and dynamic concept.
The types of disabilities have been increased from existing 7 to 21 and the Central Government will have the power to add more types of disabilities. The New categories of disabilities also included three blood disorders, Thalassemia, Hemophilia and Sickle Cell disease.
Speech and Language Disability and Specific Learning Disability have been added for the first time.
Acid Attack Victims have been included.
Dwarfism, muscular dystrophy have has been indicated as separate class of specified disability.
Every child with benchmark disability between the age group of 6 and 18 years shall have the right to free education.
Reservation in vacancies in government establishments has been increased from 3% to 4% for certain persons or class of persons with benchmark disability.
The Bill provides for penalties for offences committed against persons with disabilities and also violation of the provisions of the new law.
Special Courts will be designated in each district to handle cases concerning violation of rights of PwDs.
The New Act will bring law in line with the United National Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), to which India is a signatory. This will fulfill the obligations on the part of India in terms of UNCRPD.
Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) emphasised the need for review of the Representation of the People Act
(Topic: Powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies)
Issues raised by CEC—
Decriminalisation of politics
Prevention of abuse of money
Transparency in funding of political parties
Making bribery an cognisable offence
Criminalising paid news
Empowering ECI to countermand election in cases of bribery and abuse on the lines of countermanding in event of both capturing.
There should be well defined electoral laws rather than using residuary powers under Art 324 frequently.
Art 324- Superintendence, direction and control of elections to be vested in an Election Commission.
EC proposed amendment in RP Act to have a mirror provision in the law on parallel of countermanding of elections on account of booth capturing.
Revenue Insurance Scheme for Plantation Crops (RISPC)
About- Department of Commerce has approved the Revenue Insurance Scheme for Plantation Crops (RISPC) for protecting growers of tea, coffee, rubber, cardamom and tobacco from the twin risks of weather and price arising from yield loss due to adverse weather parameters, pest attacks etc. and from income loss caused by fall in international/domestic prices through crop insurance mechanism.
The Scheme is to be implemented on pilot basis in eight districts in the States of West Bengal, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Sikkim and Tamil Nadu by the Commodity Boards through selected insurance companies.
Shared funding of premium between the central government, state governments and the tea growers in the ratio of 75:15:10.
Taxation and Investment Regime for Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana, 2016 (PMGKY)
About- PMGKY is Union Government’s second income disclosure scheme (IDS) to allow tax evaders to come clean with unaccounted wealth. It provides for 50 per cent tax and surcharge on declarations of unaccounted cash deposited in banks.
The Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana, 2016 is somewhat similar to IDS, except that the tax rate is higher at 50 per cent and a quarter of the declared income will be locked in for four years.
Aim is to use black-money collected post-demonetization for welfare schemes for the poor.
PMGKY will allow people to deposit previously untaxed money by paying 50% of the total amount: 30% as tax and 10% as penalty on the undisclosed income, and also 33% of the taxed amount as cess.
Also have to deposit 25% of undisclosed income in a deposit scheme to be notified by the RBI under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Deposit Scheme, 2016.
If the declarant refuses the option of using the government deposit scheme, 85% of the amount will be deducted as taxes and penalties.
Nearly 90% of the penalty on money found in raids.
National Career Service
(Topic: Issues relating to employment)
About- National Career Service (NCS) Project for transformation of the National Employment Service to provide a variety of employment related services like job matching, career counselling, vocational guidance, information on skill development courses. Launched by Ministry of Labour and Employment.
NCS portal provides a nation-wide online platform for jobseekers and employers for job matching in a dynamic, efficient and responsive manner.
The NCS will make available a rich repository of career content about 3000 occupations across 53 sectors.
States have been requested to publicize usage of the of the NCS portal for posting vacancies and job matching
Indian Council for Fertilizer and Nutrient Research set up
About- In order to promote research in the field of fertilizers, Indian Council for Fertilizers and Nutrient Research (ICFNR), an Institution exclusively devoted to promotion of research in fertilizer sector under the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers.
The terms of reference of ICFNR
To undertake/ promote research in the area of fertilizer manufacturing technology, use of raw material and innovation in fertilizer products.
To identify and promote eco-friendly micro-nutrients and pesticide coated slow release fertilizers and also to ensure reduction of Carbon footprint of Fertilizer sector and energy efficient operation.
To undertake and promote research in bio fertilizer and its derivatives with suitable coating or blending so as to protect and increase the soil fertility.
UDAN- A Regional Connectivity Scheme
(Topic: Infrastructure development)
About- The Ministry of Civil Aviation launched Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS)-UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik) scheme for providing connectivity to un-served and under-served airports of the country.
Objective— To facilitate and stimulate regional air connectivity by making it affordable.
It aims to increase ticketing volume from 80 million to 300 million by 2022.
Regional connectivity will be developed on market-based mechanism and Airlines will bid for seat subsidies.
Airline operators will bid for up to 40 subsidised seats and minimum seats will be 9. And there will be 50% seats on market based pricing.
Exclusive rights for three years to fly on a particular regional route. Airfares will be capped at 2500 rupees for an hour’s flight.
Airports selection for UDAN scheme will be done in consultation with State Government.
About- To promote eco-friendly vehicles, the government launched the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric vehicles (FAME) in India.
FAME is a part of the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan.
First implemented in metropolitan cities. Then will be launched in Smart Cities and all major cities across the country.
Scheme offering incentives on electric and hybrid vehicles of up to Rs 29,000 for bikes and Rs 1.38 lakh for cars.
The overall FAME Scheme is proposed to be implemented over a period of 6 years, till 2020.
(Topic: Water resources)
About- National Seminar on Aquifer Mapping and Ground Water Management held in New Delhi. First Bhujal Manthan at Kurukshetra, Haryana.
To complete aquifer mapping across the country in the next three years.
Government plans to recharge ground water on priority basis in dark blocks of the country where ground water has been over exploited.
Ground water management
It should be the endeavour of every concerned state to think more about the other side. Example–Tamil Nadu should be more concerned about Karnataka and vice-versa.
Large-scale ground water development is feasible in Eastern states of the country and there is need for a second ‘green revolution’ in these areas to help India achieve food security.
Efforts are to be made for conservation of springs in the hilly areas of the country through limiting indiscriminate construction of bore wells, conservation of spring catchments.
Climate adaptation strategies should include groundwater management.
Adopting best practices from other countries. Ex: 62 per cent of water used by Israel is treated water.
Early Warning for Tsunami and Earthquake
(Topic: Disaster management)
About– Indian Tsunami Early Warning Centre (ITEWC), which is based at & operated by Indian National Center for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), Hyderabad has all necessary infrastructure and capabilities to give tsunami advisories to India as well as to Indian Ocean countries.
Working of ITEWC
ITEWC is providing tsunami warnings and related services to all countries in the Indian Ocean Rim (24 Countries) beyond fully serving the India’s coastline / Islands.
The centre is capable of detecting tsunamigenic earthquakes occurring in the Indian Ocean as well as in the Global Oceans within 10 minutes of their occurrence.
Key inputs for developing strategic plan for addressing issues of Climate Change impacts on the Himalayan ecosystem.
As soon as the earthquake is detected, warning centre transmits information about location of earthquake, its magnitude, depth and other characters of the event.
(Topic: Water resources and flood management)
About- A revised Bill has been drafted to constitute a Corporation named Brahmaputra Barak North-East River Development Corporation (BBNERDC) for flood management.
Flood management being under the purview of the States, the schemes for flood control & anti erosion etc., are formulated and implemented by concerned States as per their own priority.
The Union Government supplements the efforts of the States by providing technical guidance and also promotional financial assistance for management of floods in critical areas. Protection of Majuli Island from flood and erosion in Assam.
World Soil Day
About- 5th December is celebrated as World Soil Day
Theme: “Soils and pulses, a symbiosis for life”
Importance of soil—
Soil provides nutritional elements as well as water to the plants.
95% of food sources are obtained from the soil.
We cannot produce healthy food grains without the help of healthy soil.
It is very necessary to maintain the potentiality of soil for the storage of the carbon and to combat the effects created by climate change.
Measures to improve soil health—
Reduction in consumption of chemical fertilizers and motivating integrated nutrition management.
Adopt compost, manure, rural compost, urban compost, green manure in the particular sector of farming.
Reduce the cost of farming by using different types of bio fertilizers.
Arrange bio carbon in the soil.
Soil health card scheme
The scheme aims at promoting soil test based and balanced use of fertilisers to enable farmers realise higher yields at lower cost.
Some states are already issuing Soil Health Cards but, there was no uniform norm for sampling, testing and distribution of Soil Health Cards across the states.
50:50 sharing patternbetween Government of India and state Governments.
Advantage Health Care India 2016 (AHCI 2016)
(Topic: Commerce and Industry)
About- Government of India organized the second edition of ‘Advantage Health Care India 2016 (AHCI 2016)’, an International Summit on Medical Value Travel.
Aim—‘Promoting Healthcare Services Exports from India’
Objective–To promote India as a Premier Global Healthcare Destination and to enable streamlined medical services exports from India. This underlying objective is a unique conglomeration of 5Ts, namely – Tradition, Technology, Tourism, Talent and Trade.
The medical value travel industry has emerged as one of the fastest growing segment of the tourism industry.
Globally the market is estimated at around USD 40-55 billion.
As per 2015 data while 11 million people travelled to seek treatment, 500,000 foreign patients travelled to India seeking treatment.
With adequate focus and effective execution, India can be a USD 9 billion opportunity by 2020.