National Commission for Safai Karamcharis Suggests NITI Ayog to Bring Some of The Welfare Schemes for Safai Karamcharis and Manual Scavengers Under Its Purview
- The Chairman raised the issue of empowering the Commission by making it a statutory or constitutional body and bestow it with the powers of a civil court so that it can discharge its mandate effectively.
- The Commission suggested the NITI Aayog for getting the survey of Manual Scavengers done through an independent third party having adequate representation of volunteers/activists from communities traditionally engaged in manual scavenging.
- Presently, the role of the Commission is merely of monitoring the implementation of the Central Government’s schemes for welfare of Safai Karamcharis and Manual Scavengers. It has no scheme of its own.
National Commission for Safai Karamcharis
- It is an Indian statutory body was established through National Commission for Safai Karamcharis Act, 1993.
- It aims to promote and safeguard the interests and rights of Safai Karamcharis.
- The main objective of the National Commission for Safai Karamcharis is to study, monitor and evaluate the implementation of the programmes and schemes relating to the social and economic rehabilitation of safai karamcharis and make recommendations to the Central Government for better coordination and implementation of schemes/programmes particularly
- The NCSK has been giving its recommendations to the Government regarding specific programmes for welfare of safai karamcharis, study and evaluate the existing welfare programmes for safai karamcharis, investigate cases of specific grievances etc.
- Also as per the provisions of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, the NCSK has been assigned the work to monitor the implementation of the Act, tender advice for its effective implementation to the Centre and State Governments and enquire into complaints regarding contravention/non-implementation of the provisions of the Act.
What was the need?
- Though the Government has taken many steps for the upliftment of the Safai Karamcharis, the deprivation suffered by them in socio-economic and educational terms is still far from being eliminated.
- Further the practice of manual scavenging is still prevalent in the country and its eradication continues to be an area of the highest priority for the Government.
- Hence, the Government feels that there is a continued need to monitor the various interventions and initiatives of the Government for welfare of Safai Karamcharis and to achieve the goal of complete eradication of the practice of manual scavenging in the country.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched a new mobile app — UMANG (Unified Mobile Application for New-age Governance) which will allow citizens to access government services on a single platform.
- It aims to bring 162 government services on a single mobile app, with a larger goal to make the government accessible on the mobile phone of our citizens.
- The services live on the app include Aadhaar, DigiLocker, Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS) among others.
- According to official documents, the UMANG app will provide access to over 1,200 services of various government organisations in states and at the Centre as well as utility payments.
- Using the app, citizens will be able to access Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) services, apply for a new permanent account number (PAN), and those looking for jobs can register themselves under the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana.
- It supports 13 Indian languages and caters to on-demand scalability. It will also soon support feature phones without internet through USSD.
Pradhan Mantri Mahila Shakti Kendra (PMMSK)
- The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved a new scheme called ‘Pradhan Mantri Mahila Shakti Kendra’, which aims at empowering rural women through community participation to create an environment in which they realize their full potential.
- The scheme is part of the Umbrella Scheme “Mission for Protection and Empowerment for Women” of the ministry of women and child development.
- The expansion of the Mission scheme was approved by the cabinet for a period 2017-18 to 2019-20.
- The financial outlay during 2017-18 to 2019-20 will be Rs.3,636.85 crore with a Central Share of approximately Rs.3,084.96 crore.
- The new scheme “Pradhan Mantri Mahila Shakti Kendra (PMMSK) is envisaged to work at various levels.
- The national level (domain based knowledge support) and state level (State Resource Centre for Women) structures will provide technical support to the respective governments on issues related to women.
- The district and block level centres will provide support to PMMSK and also give a foothold to Beti Bachao Beti Padhao scheme in 640 districts to be covered in a phased manner.”
- The scheme will provide an interface for rural women to approach the government for availing their entitlements and for empowering them through training and capacity building
How is this done?
- Community engagement through Student Volunteers is envisioned in 115 most backward districts as part of the PMMSK Block level initiatives.
- Student volunteers will play an instrumental role in awareness generation regarding various important government schemes/ programmes as well as social issues
- This decision to involve student volunteers is aimed at building a spirit of voluntary community service and gender equality
Ordinance to amend the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016
- The Ordinance aims at putting in place safeguards to prevent unscrupulous, undesirable persons from misusing or vitiating the provisions of the Code.
- The amendments aim to keep-out such persons who have willfully defaulted, are associated with non-performing assets, or are habitually non-compliant and, therefore, are likely to be a risk to successful resolution of insolvency of a company.
- In addition to putting in place restrictions for such persons to participate in the resolution or liquidation process, the Amendment also provides such check by specifying that the Committee of Creditors ensure the viability and feasibility of the resolution plan before approving it.
- The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) has also been given additional powers.
- Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code represents the legal and institutional mechanisms in India for dealing with debt default of companies and limited liability entities, partnership firms and individuals. However, this does not automatically cover default by financial service providers, unless notified by the Government.
Objective of the Code
- The new law aims to consolidate the laws relating to insolvency of companies and limited liability entities (including limited liability partnerships and other entities with limited liability), unlimited liability partnerships and individuals, contained in a number of legislations , into a single legislation and provide for their reorganisation and resolution in a time bound manner for maximisation of value of their assets.
- Such consolidation will provide for a greater clarity in law and facilitate the application of consistent and coherent provisions to different stakeholders affected by business failure or inability to pay debt.
Salient Features of the Code
- The Code separates commercial aspects of the insolvency proceedings from judicial aspects.
- While Insolvency Professionals (IPs) will deal with commercial aspects such as management of the affairs of the corporate debtor, facilitating formation of committee of creditors, organising their meetings, examination of the resolution plan, etc.,
- Judicial issues will be handled by proposed Adjudicating Authorities (National Company Law Tribunal / Debt Recovery Tribunal)
- One more important institution created under the Code is the ‘Information Utility’ which would store financial information and data and terms of lending in electronic databases. This would eliminate delays and disputes about facts when default does take place
- The Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT) is the Adjudicating Authority with jurisdiction over individuals and unlimited liability partnership firms. Appeals from the order of DRT shall lie to the Debt Recovery Appellate Tribunal (DRAT).
- The National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) shall be the Adjudicating Authority with jurisdiction over companies, limited liability entities. Appeals from the order of NCLT shall lie to the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT).
Benefits of the Code
- The law will thus promote entrepreneurship, availability of credit and balance the interest of all stakeholders.
- The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code is thus a comprehensive and systemic reform, which will give a quantum leap to the functioning of the credit market. It would take India from among relatively weak insolvency regimes to becoming one of the world’s best insolvency regimes.
- It lays the foundations for the development of the corporate bond market, which would finance the infrastructure projects of the future.
- The passing of this Code and implementation of the same will give a big boost to ease of doing business in India.
Indian Forest (Amendment) Ordinance
- The Union Government, in a landmark initiative, has promulgated the Indian Forest (Amendment) Ordinance, 2017 to exempt bamboo grown in non-forest areas from definition of tree, thereby dispensing with the requirement of felling/transit permit for its economic use.
- Bamboo, though, taxonomically a grass, was legally defined as a tree under the Indian Forest Act, 1927.
- The objective of the amendment is to promote cultivation of bamboo in non-forest areas to achieve twin objectives of increasing the income of farmers and also increasing the green cover of the country.
Why was it done?
- Before this amendment, the felling and transit of bamboo grown on forest as well non-forest land attracted the provisions of the Indian Forest Act, 1927 (IFA, 1927). This was a major impediment for bamboo cultivation by farmers on non-forest land.
- Bamboo grows abundantly in areas outside forests with an estimated growing stock of 10.20 million tonnes.
- About 20 million people are involved in bamboo related activities. One tonne of bamboo provides 350 man days of employment.
- The current demand of bamboo in India is estimated at 28 million tonnes. Though India has 19% share of world’s area under bamboo cultivation, its market share in the sector is only 6%. At present, India imports timber and allied products, such as pulp, paper, furniture etc.
- In 2015, India imported about 18.01 million cubic meters of timber and allied products worth Rs 43000 crores. The amendment will help in addressing some of these issues, besides meeting the demand from domestic production.
- An enabling environment for the cultivation of bamboo will help in creation of job opportunities in the country.
- The amendment will unleash the potential of bamboo in terms of rural and national economy apart from ecological benefits such as soil-moisture conservation, landslide prevention and rehabilitation, conserving wildlife habitat, enhancing source of bio-mass, besides serving as a substitute for timber.
Cabinet approves India’s Membership for European Bank for Reconstruction & Development
- The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is an international financial institution founded in 1991.
- The EBRD was founded to support countries of the former Eastern Bloc in the process of establishing their private sectors.
- As a multilateral developmental investment bank, the EBRD uses investment as a tool to build market economies.
- Initially focused on the countries of the former Eastern Bloc it expanded to support development in more than 30 countries from central Europe to central Asia.
- Besides Europe, member countries of the EBRD are from five continents (North America, Africa, Asia and Australia, see below), with the biggest shareholder being the United States
- The mandate of the EBRD stipulates that it must only work in countries that are committed to democratic principles. Respect for the environment is part of the strong corporate governance attached to all EBRD investments.
- It does not finance defence-related activities, the tobacco industry, selected alcoholic products, substances banned by international law and stand-alone gambling facilities
Who owns the EBRD?
- The EBRD is owned by 65 countries and two intergovernmental institutions: the European Union and the European Investment Bank (EIB).
- Membership of EBRD would enhance India’s international profile and promote its economic interests. Access to EBRD’s Countries of Operation and sector knowledge.
- India’s investment opportunities would get a boost.
- It would increase the scope of cooperation between India and EBRD through co-financing opportunities in manufacturing, services, Information Technology, and Energy.
- EBRD’s core operations pertain to private sector development in their countries of operation. The membership would help India leverage the technical assistance and sectoral knowledge of the bank for the benefit of development of private sector.
- This would contribute to an improved investment climate in the country.
- The membership of EBRD would enhance the competitive strength of the Indian firms, and provide an enhanced access to international markets in terms of business opportunities, procurement activities, consultancy assignments etc.
- This would open up new vistas for Indian professionals on the one hand, and give a fillip to Indian exports on the other.
- Increased economic activities would have the employment generating potential.
- It would also enable Indian nationals to get the employment opportunity in the Bank.