IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 22nd July 2019
(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)
Vaccination for rotavirus
Part of: Main GS Paper II- Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population
- Around 20 lakh children in the Maharashtra State will be vaccinated against rotavirus.
- Annually, 3.34 lakh children succumb to diarrhoeal diseases in India, of which close to one lakh die of rotavirus diarrhoea.
- Vaccination is a step towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goal target of reducing Child (under 5 years) Mortality rate to 25 or less per 1000 live births by 2030.
Do you know?
- India’s Under Five Mortality (U5MR) declined from 125 per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 43 per 1,000 live births in 2015.
- In 2016, India’s infant (0-1 year) mortality rate was 44 per 1,000 live births.
- To achieve full immunization coverage for all children and pregnant women at a rapid pace, the Government of India launched “Mission Indradhanush” in December 2014.
- Under Mission Indradhanush vaccination is being provided against eight vaccine-preventable diseases nationally, i.e. Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus, Polio, Measles, severe form of Childhood Tuberculosis, Hepatitis B, meningitis & pneumonia caused by Haemophilus influenza type B; and against Rotavirus Diarrhea and Japanese Encephalitis in selected states and districts respectively
Delhi takes major share in electoral bonds
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Polity; Governance issues
80.6% of the electoral bonds bought last year (₹5,851.41 crore) were redeemed in New Delhi, where the headquarters of major parties are located. This shows that the scheme is biased against regional parties.
Additional concerns raised with respect to Electoral bonds scheme
- Non transparent – anonymity-based funding scheme as neither the donor discloses to which party it has donated nor the political party discloses the source of bond.
- It opens up the possibility of black money being and foreign capital donated to parties through shell companies.
- May lead to Corporate capture of Politics: scheme did away with the statutory limit on corporate donations to parties (7.5% of three years’ net profits)
- Favours the ruling party: as it alone is in a position to identify the donors and, therefore, well placed to misuse such information. (Presently electoral Bonds are only available through Government owned SBI)
- May pose a formidable entry barrier to new contenders in the political arena as this scheme is available only to parties that won 1% of the votes in the preceding election
Do you know?
The below reports have recommended State funding of elections to establish a fair playing field for parties with less money.
- Indrajit Gupta Committee on State Funding of Elections (1998)
- Law Commission Report on Reform of the Electoral Laws (1999)
- National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution (2001)
- Second Administrative Reforms Commission (2008)
DEFXPO – India’s mega Defence exhibition
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Defence
- 11th Defexpo will be held in 2020 at Lucknow.
- It is held biennially, the previous two editions were held at Chennai (2018) and Goa(2016)
- It helps to showcase India’s defence manufacturing capabilities, promote export of India’s defence systems and attracts foreign players to invest in India.
- India is developing two defence industrial production corridors to promote the defence sector. One is Tamil Nadu (linking Chennai and Bengaluru) and the other in Uttar Pradesh
Revamp of Army Head Quarters (AHQ)
Part of: Main GS Paper III – Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate
Army has initiated the process of reforming its Head quarter structure, whose objective is to:
- Ensure holistic integration of all divisions of army
- Enhance the operational and functional efficiency
- Optimise budget expenditure,
- Facilitate force modernisation and
- Address aspirations of the army personnel.
TOPIC: General studies 2
- Indian Constitution—Historical Underpinnings, Evolution, Features, Amendments, Significant Provisions and Basic Structure.
- Important Aspects of Governance, Transparency and Accountability, E-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; Citizens Charters, Transparency & Accountability and institutional and other measures.
The Right to information (Amendment) Bill, 2019
- The government introduced in Loksabha the Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2019, which proposes to give the Centre the powers to set the salaries and service conditions of Information Commissioners at central as well as state levels.
- Amendments have been proposed since 2006, just six months after the law was implemented and many times thereafter.
- The deliberate dismantling of this architecture empowers the Central government to unilaterally decide the tenure, salary, allowances and other terms of service of Information Commissioners, both at the Centre and the States
About Right to Information Act:
- Article 19(1) of the Indian Constitution specifies that the Right to Information (RTI) is a part of the fundamental rights. It says that every citizen has freedom of speech and expression.
- In 1976, in the Raj Narain vs the State of UP, it was held by the Supreme Court that people cannot speak unless they know. Hence the Right to Information is embedded in Article 19
- RTI Act provides machinery for exercising this fundamental right.
- As per the RTI Act 2005, every citizen has the right to receive a timely response from the government for any information that is sought by them with respect to the functioning of the government.
- An RTI portal is created by the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions in order to facilitate the process of RTI.
- Besides access to information related to RTI, published disclosures by various public authorities under the state and the central governments, it acts as a gateway for obtaining information on the details of first Appellate Authorities, Principle Information Officers etc
The basic objectives of RTI is
- Empowerment of the citizens
- Promotion of transparency and accountability in the functioning of the government
- Prevention and elimination of corruption
- Making the democracy work FOR the people in its real sense.
- Under the RTI, every citizen is empowered to:
- Seek information / ask questions to the government
- Request for copies of government documents
- Inspect government documents and works
- Request for samples of materials of any government work
Importance of RTI:
- The RTI has been used brilliantly and persistently to ask a million questions across the spectrum — from the village ration shop, the Reserve Bank of India, the Finance Ministry, on demonetisation, non-performing assets, the Rafale fighter aircraft deal, electoral bonds, unemployment figures, the appointment of the Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC), Election Commissioners, and the (non)-appointment of the Information Commissioners themselves.
- The information related to decision-making at the highest level has in most cases eventually been accessed because of the independence and high status of the Information Commission.
- The RTI movement has struggled to access information and through it, a share of governance and democratic power.
- The Indian RTI law has been a breakthrough in creating mechanisms and platforms for the practice of continual public vigilance that are fundamental to democratic citizenship.
Recent moves of RTI:
- All the provisions related to appointment were carefully examined by a parliamentary standing committee and the law was passed unanimously.
- Section 13 states that salaries, allowances and other terms of service of “the Chief Information Commissioner shall be the same as that of the Chief Election Commissioner”, and those of an Information Commissioner “shall be the same as that of an Election Commissioner”.
- The Bill amends Sections 13 and 16 of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005. Section 13 of the original Act sets the term of the central Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners at five years (or until the age of 65, whichever is earlier).
- Section 16 of the original Act deals with state-level Chief Information Commissioners and Information Commissioners. It sets the term for state-level CICs and ICs at five years (or 65 years of age, whichever is earlier).
- It was on the recommendation of the parliamentary standing committee that the Information Commissioner and CIC were made on a par with the Election Commissioner and the CEC, respectively.
- The mandatory pre-legislative consultative policy of the government has been ignored.
- The separation of powers is a concept which underscores this independence and is vital to our democratic checks and balances.
- When power is centralised and the freedom of expression threatened no matter what the context, democracy is definitely in serious danger.
- The Commission which is vested by law with status, independence and authority, will now function like a department of the Central government, and be subject to the same hierarchy and demand for deferential respect.
- Apart from Section 13 which deals with the terms and conditions for the Central information Commission, in amending Section 16, the Central government will also control through rules, the terms and conditions of appointment of Commissioners in the States. This is an assault on the idea of federalism.
- The RTI community is worried. But the sword of Damocles is double-edged. It is an idiom originally used to define the hidden insecurity of an autocrat. Questions are threats to unaccountable power.
- The RTI has unshackled millions of users who will continue to use this democratic right creatively and to dismantle exclusive power.
- The RTI has been and will be used to withstand attacks on itself and strengthen the movement for transparency and accountability in India.
- The RTI has resulted in a fundamental shift — empowering a citizen’s access to power and decision-making. It has been a lifeline for many of the 40 to 60 lakh ordinary users, many of them for survival.
Connecting the dots:
- Has RTI been successful in bringing transparency into governance? Critically evaluate.
- Don’t you think Right to Information (RTI) stifles decision making? Critically examine.
- The RTI in its current form and shape requires certain changes to make it more effective. Do you agree? Substantiate.
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)
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Q.1) Consider the following statements about Mission Indhradhanush
- Its goal is to ensure full immunization with all available vaccines for children up to two years of age and pregnant women
- It is being implemented by Ministry of Women and Child development
Which of the following statements is/are correct?
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Q.2) Consider the following statements about Electoral Bonds
- It can be purchased only from Domestic Systemically Important Banks (D-SIBs)
- Interest will be given by the banks on these bonds.
- Electoral bonds will be valid till next Lok Sabha elections from the date of purchase.
Which of the following statements is/are not correct?
- 1 and 2 only
- 2 and 3 only
- 1 and 3 only
- 1,2 and 3
Q.3) Indrajit Gupta committee has given its report regarding
- More devolution of powers to Panchayat Raj Institutions
- State funding of elections
- Army restructuring
- Financial Inclusion
Q.4) Department of Border Management comes under which ministry?
- Ministry of Defence
- Ministry of Home Affairs
- Prime Ministers office
- Ministry of External Affairs
Q.5) Defence Industrial Corridors are coming up at which state(s)?
- Uttar Pradesh
- Tamil Nadu
- Andhra Pradesh
Select the correct answer from the code given below:
- 1 and 2 Only
- 1,2 and 3 Only
- 2 and 3 only
- 1,2,3 and 4
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