TABLE OF CONTENTS
A. GS1 Related Indian Society 1. Twenty-nine people injured during ‘jallikattu’ in Tamil Nadu B. GS2 Related Polity and Governance 1. SC sets deadline for Lokpal search committee International Relations 1. H-1B visa holders prone to abuse: U.S. think tank C. GS3 Related Environment 1. Green tribunal orders VW to deposit ₹100 crore by today D. GS4 Related E. Editorials 1. The seats around the Afghan round table (India-Afghanistan) 2. Collegium controversy F. Tidbits 1. SC records how the bar girls took on the Maharashtra govt. 2. Indian-American named to key panel 3. Indian cinema’s new address: Gulshan Mahal in Mumbai 4. Mizoram bans import of pigs to prevent swine disease G. Prelims Facts 1. Odisha extends free health services to all medical colleges 2. Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana (PMMY) Scheme H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions I. UPSC Mains practice Questions
A. GS1 Related
- A total of 29 people sustained minor injuries at the ‘jallikattu’ (bull-taming) event held in Alanganallur in Tamil Nadu’s Madurai district on Thursday.
- Also known as Eruthazhuvuthal or Manju virattu, Jallikattu is a traditional bull-taming sport organised in Tamil Nadu during Pongal. According to some historical accounts, the practice dates back to as far as 2000 years ago.
- It mainly was active in the districts of Madurai, Tiruchirappalli, Theni, Pudukkottai and Dindigul of Tamil Nadu until its ban in 2011.
- The sport involves a natively reared stud that is set free inside an arena filled with young participants. The challenge lies in taming the bull with bare hands. Participants often try to grab the bull by its horns or tail and wrestle it into submission. A few also tend to latch on to the bull by clinging to the hump at the back of its neck. Calves are specially reared to become bulls fit for Jallikattu by feeding them a special diet.
B. GS2 Related
- The Supreme Court on Thursday gave the Lokpal search committee time till February-end to short-list a panel of names for chairperson and members of the Lokpal to be placed before the high-power selection committee led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
- Though passed in 2014, the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act of 2013 was not implemented all these years because there was no Leader of the Opposition (LoP) in the 16th Lok Sabha.
- The 2013 statute includes the LoP as a member of the selection committee. The Act intends the LoP to be part of the selection committee of the PM, the CJI and the Speaker, which has to first appoint an eminent jurist among their ranks.
- Advocate Prashant Bhushan, for petitioner NGO Common Cause, submitted that Section 4 of the Lokpal Act mandates the government to be transparent about the search and appointment process.
- On July 24 last year, the Supreme Court had said the government’s stand on completing the appointment of Lokpal, an ombudsman to protect the common man from corruption in public service and power centres, was “wholly unsatisfactory.”
- The NGO had filed a contempt petition against the government for not appointing Lokpal despite an April 2017 judgment by the Supreme Court, and said the court should now take over and appoint the Lokpal.
- The court has for the past several months been constantly urging the government to complete the Lokpal appointment.
- Recently the government informed the Supreme Court that a search committee had been constituted in September 2018 for zeroing in on eligible candidates for the Lokpal, and it will frame its own rules of functioning.
Lokpal and Lokayukta
- The ‘Lokpal’ is the central governing body that has jurisdiction over all members of parliament and central government employees in case of corruption. Whereas, the ‘Lokayukta’ is similar to the Lokpal, but functions on a state level. Scope of the ‘Lokpal’ is based on a national government level basis and the scope of the ‘Lokayukta’ relied on a state level.
- The main function is to address complaints of corruption, to make inquiries, investigations, and to conduct trials for the case on respective state and central government with having responsibility to help in curbing the corruption in the central and state government.
- A U.S. think tank has claimed that H-1B workers are “underpaid, vulnerable to abuse” and frequently placed in “poor working conditions”.
- In a report, the South Asia Center of the Atlantic Council also sought safeguards like higher wages, fair working conditions and greater employment rights for those working under the visa programme.
- The H-1B visa, popular among Indian IT professionals, is a non-immigrant visa that allows U.S. companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise.
- The report comes days after U.S. President Donald Trump said he would soon come out with reforms that would give H-1B visa holders certainty to stay in America and an easy pathway to citizenship.
Few important US Visas
- The H-1B category is an expedient and lawful method to bring foreign-born professionals temporarily to the United States, and therefore one of the most widely sought after visa classifications for employment in the United States.
- The H-1B is a non-immigrant visa in the United States; it allows U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations.
- H-4 visa is a work permit issued to the spouses of H1-B visa holders under a special order by the previous Obama administration.
- H-4 visa allows work permits for spouses who otherwise could not be employed without waiting for their spouses to receive permanent resident status, a process that can take a decade or longer.
- The H-2B visa nonimmigrant program permits employers to hire foreign workers to come temporarily to the United States and perform temporary nonagricultural services or labor on a one-time, seasonal, peakload or intermittent basis.
- The L-1 visa facilitates the temporary transfer of foreign worker in the managerial, executive or specialized knowledge category to the U.S. to continue employment with an office of the same employer, its parent branch, subsidiary or affiliate.
- L-1 visa is a temporary non-immigrant visa that allows L-2 visa for the spouse and minor unmarried children under 21 years of age. L-1 visa holder is known as intra-company transferee.
- Even though L-1 visa was initially made for large multinational companies to transfer their employees to the U.S., it provides small or start-up companies abroad to expand their business and services to the U.S.
C. GS3 Related
- The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Thursday directed Volkswagen India to deposit ₹100 crore with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) by Friday.
- Coming down heavily on the company for not complying with the November order, in which the NGT had directed Volkswagen to deposit the interim amount with the CPCB, the green panel warned of punitive action against the company directors, in case of non-compliance of orders.
- In November, the green panel had directed Volkswagen to deposit an interim amount of ₹100 crore following allegations that the company had used “cheat devices” in emission tests for its diesel vehicles.
National Green Tribunal
- The National Green Tribunal has been established in 2010 under the National Green Tribunal Act 2010.
- It draws inspiration from India’s constitutional provision of Article 21, which assures the citizens of India the right to a healthy environment.
- It aims for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources including enforcement of any legal right relating to the environment and giving relief and compensation for damages to persons and property and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
- It has Original Jurisdiction on matters of “substantial question relating to environment” and & “damage to the environment due to specific activity” (such as pollution).
D. GS4 Related
There is nothing from here for today!!
Note to Students:
- This editorial release combines the perspectives covered in two editorial releases namely, “Balancing act in Afghanistan” and “The seats around the Afghan round table”, featured in The Hindu on the 18th of January, 2019.
Brief Note on India-Afghan Relations:
- India and Afghanistan share a very strong partnership based on historical and cultural links. In the recent past, the partnership between the two countries has touched new heights when India’s Afghanistan policy shifted to a more confident and multi-dimensional approach by opening Investment in Afghanistan’s nascent democracy and economy; strengthening Kabul’s defence capability and promoting regional connectivity and integration.
- Recently, the Government of India took over the operations of a part of Shahid Beheshti Port, Chabahar in Iran during the Chabahar Trilateral Agreement meeting held there on the 24th of December 2018. This step marks the beginning of a long journey. India has written a history with its engagement in Chabahar and is now leading the regional cooperation and joint efforts to support land-locked Afghanistan. This is the first time India will be operating a port outside its territories.
- The inauguration of the Dedicated Air Cargo Corridor in June 2017 between Kabul-Delhi and Kandahar-Delhi has provided a fresh impetus to bilateral trade. The Air Corridor has ensured free movement of freight despite the barriers put in place due to the denial of transit by Pakistan.
- India has been a supporter of the idea of an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled peace and reconciliation process that would enable Afghanistan to continue as a united, peaceful, inclusive and democratic nation and emerge as an economically vibrant country.
- India and Afghanistan have strong diplomatic relations in various areas including areas such as education. As a matter of fact, in an effort to strengthen this further, both the countries have decided to cooperate in the field of Human Resource Development by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
- Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Government of India has taken up number of technology enabled learning initiatives under National Mission on Education through ICT (NMEICT). SWAYAM, India’s own MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) platform is one such major initiative, which offers various online courses prepared by the best faculty from across the country.
- Till date, more than 35 Lakhs students have enrolled in about 2000 courses that have been offered through SWAYAM. This includes courses from Class 9th to Post-Graduation and also for lifelong learning. The students can avail credit transfer upto 20 % for the courses done through SWAYAM. Also, this platform is being used to provide Annual Refresher courses for higher education faculty.
What’s in the news?
- Experts have pointed out that Mr. Trump is frustrated with his Afghanistan policy and is desperately seeking a way out. To be fair, when he announced his Afghanistan policy in August 2017, he had said that his original instinct was to pull out.
- He was persuaded otherwise by his then Defence Secretary James Mattis, Chief of Staff John Kelly, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, and Afghanistan commander Gen. John W. Nicholson, all of whom have since been replaced, making it easier for him to follow his ‘instinct’.
US failure of the Afghan policy:
- Currently, the U.S. spends $45 billion a year in Afghanistan, including $5 billion for Afghan security forces and $780 million on economic assistance.
- The balance is for U.S. forces and logistical support.
- It is important to note that these figures have reduced over time, as U.S. troop deployment is down to 15,000 now from 100,000 in 2010.
- However, over the last 18 years, the cumulative cost to the U.S. has been estimated at $800 billion on U.S. deployments and $105 billion in rebuilding Afghanistan.
- About 2,400 U.S. troops have been killed though casualty figures since 2015, when the U.S. withdrew from combat operations, are down to 12 a year.
- However, despite all of this, the situation on the ground continues to deteriorate.
- Experts have opined that Mr. Trump’s questioning of the usefulness of continuing U.S. military presence in Afghanistan is justified.
- The 2017 policy, aimed at breaking the military stalemate by expanding the U.S. presence by 5,000 troops, putting Pakistan on notice, and strengthening Afghan capabilities. More than a year later, clearly the policy has failed.
- The military situation has improved in favour of the Taliban, while the Taliban and Haqqani Network sanctuaries in Pakistan remain intact.
- Afghan security forces are suffering unacceptable attrition. Since 2015, when the Afghan security forces took charge of combat operations, they have suffered around 30,000 casualties. Civilian casualties are over 3,000 a year. With recruitment drying up and desertions on the rise, the Afghan security forces are down by more than 10% from their sanctioned strength.
- Parliamentary elections were conducted on October 20, 2018 with much fanfare but the announcement of the final results has been repeatedly postponed amid allegations that more than one-fourth of the votes cast were rigged.
- Unconfirmed reports that the U.S. was withdrawing 7,000 troops from Afghanistan began to circulate hours after James Mattis’s resignation as Defence Secretary. The White House backtracked by subsequently clarifying that this was one of the options being explored but no decision had been taken. However, it is clear which way the wind is blowing.
- The reason is that over the last 18 years, the U.S. (and coalition partners) have made a series of mistakes, of omission and commission. The Afghan Constitution, adopted in 2004, centralised power in a U.S.-style presidential system but lacking the institutions of legislature, judiciary and civil society, checks and balance were missing. Governance structures were weak as an entire generation had been lost in the anti-Soviet jihad and Taliban conflicts.
- The Iraq invasion in 2003 rapidly sucked in more and more U.S. resources as the focus shifted away from Afghanistan.
- By 2006, when the Taliban had regrouped and begun to engage in suicide attacks and IED blasts in Afghanistan, the U.S. was unwilling to acknowledge it and preferred to bribe Pakistan to gain its cooperation.
- What compounded matters was that poppy production grew to finance the Taliban insurgency.
- Further, since 2002, the international community has spent nearly $15 billion on counter-narcotics, and yet, in 2017, poppy production was four times what it was in 2002. International troop presence from 34 countries lacked a unified command and control and adopted different rules of engagement. British troops, deployed in Helmand, were the first to reach a quiet understanding with the local Taliban by ignoring the opium cultivation.
- Hamid Karzai was President from 2001 to 2014. During the Barack Obama administration, his relations with the U.S. grew increasingly strained with both sides engaging in frequent sniping. His open criticism of Pakistan’s duplicity irritated the U.S., which was even more dependent on Pakistan after the surge in U.S. troops in 2010. Mr. Obama’s decision to announce the surge along with a timetable for withdrawal only emboldened the Taliban.
- The strength of the Afghan security forces was hurriedly doubled to enable them to take combat lead in 2015 but lack of training and equipment soon began to take its toll. Only the Special Forces (Ktah Khas) raised in 2015 have successfully blunted Taliban onslaughts. But their numbers are limited and they are dependent on U.S. airlift and intelligence imagery.
The Effect of U.S. Policy:
- The cumulative effect is that the U.S. has lost goodwill and its troop presence is a liability. It is hardly surprising that the U.S. is now seeking an exit.
- It is important to note that managing the optics of withdrawal is critical and that is what Zalmay Khalilzad, as the Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, is tasked to ensure.
- The Afghan presidential election has been pushed by three months to July 20, 2019 but it is unlikely that the election machinery can be reformed and the promised biometric ID system put in place.
- Experts opine that the national unity government led by President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah has lost legitimacy and cannot continue beyond July, 2019.
- Since the security situation does not permit new elections, the U.S. is likely to push for a new version of the 2001 Bonn Conference to set up an interim government that can plan a Loya Jirga and an election in a year or two. The process would provide the window for a U.S. exit.
- The difference is that unlike in 2001, it is clear that the Taliban will be present at the table, speaking from a position of strength. This is evident from their announcement on January 8 that they were calling off the next round of talks with the U.S. on account of differences on issues relating to release of Taliban prisoners, participation of Afghan government officials and U.S. troop withdrawal.
- Reflecting the Taliban’s growing legitimacy, Russia is planning another regional conference in the Moscow format. Pakistan had engineered a meeting of the Taliban with Saudi Arabia and the UAE while a Taliban delegation was in Tehran in end-December, 2018.
Playing a Balancing Act:
- The U.S. government appears to be acknowledging that Pakistan, given its influence over the Taliban, is an important and potentially helpful player in the peace process in Afghanistan.
- However, it has also signalled its desire for India, its growing defence partner, to be more involved in reconciliation efforts and in Afghanistan more broadly. At various times during his term, President Donald Trump — sometimes crudely, as with his mocking comment about New Delhi limiting itself to building libraries in Afghanistan — has suggested that New Delhi step up its game.
- The recent visit to India of Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, highlights the importance that Washington accords to India in Afghanistan.
- Herein lies the dilemma: the U.S. cannot have it both ways. If Pakistan is enlisted in reconciliation efforts, India won’t be keen to get involved. But if India does take on a larger role, then Pakistan may well step back.
- To be sure, India and Pakistan have proved to be willing and able to partner regionally. They may struggle to coexist in SAARC, but they do cooperate on the TAPI pipeline, and they’re both members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, an arrangement mostly of Central Asian states, and China and Russia.
- It is obvious that partnering in Afghanistan is much more delicate and challenging. Fortunately for the U.S., this policy dilemma may work itself out on its own.
- Despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s desire for a more robust regional foreign policy, India appears content to keep a low profile in Afghanistan, outside of its continued development and economic assistance projects.
- Tellingly, the Government of India has distanced itself from the Indian Army Chief’s remark supporting talks with the Taliban with no preconditions. Additionally, India will not volunteer to play a role in reconciliation efforts unless formally invited by Kabul. Afghan officials, grudgingly cognisant of Pakistan’s significant role, are unlikely to do so unless current efforts to kick-start talks do not bear fruit, or Pakistan is no longer seen as helpful.
- Still, it is important that India not be left on the outside looking in amid efforts to spark a reconciliation process with such major implications for it. Accordingly, the U.S. should keep India fully informed, at the highest levels, about any developments in reconciliation. U.S. officials owe that engagement to one of their most important partners in South Asia.
The Way Forward:
- India needs to shed its diplomatic diffidence because unlike in the 1990s, India’s options for engagement today are not restricted. It may not have the leverage of being a spoiler but neither does it carry uncomfortable baggage.
- During the last 18 years, India has earned goodwill cutting across Afghanistan’s geographies and ethnicities.
- Instead of playing favourites, it has supported institution building and shown that its interests coincide with the idea of a stable, secure, independent and peaceful Afghanistan.
- What is needed is more active and coordinated diplomacy, official and non-official, so that India remains at the table as Afghanistan’s preferred development partner through its transition
Note to Students:
The issue concerning the appointment of judges to the higher levels of the Indian judiciary is once again in the news. Students will have to go through this issue in detail.
A Brief Note on the Collegium System:
- First Judges Case-1981, Second Judges Case-1993 and Third Judges Case-1998 are three of the own judgments of the Supreme Court, collectively known as the Three Judges Cases.
- Over the course of these three cases, the court evolved the principle of judicial independence.
- This meant that no other branch of the state i.e. the legislature and the executive would have any say in the appointment of judges.
- It is with this principle in mind that the SC brought in the collegium system.
Collegium System – In the Third Judges Case, 1998 the court clarified that the collegium would comprise CJI and four senior-most colleagues, in appointments to the Supreme Court.
- And, the CJI and two senior-most colleagues in the case of appointments to the high courts. Additionally, for HCs, the collegium would consult other senior judges in the SC who had previously served in the HC concerned.
- On whether these views of the consultee-judges are binding on the collegium or not, the judgments are silent.
The National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC):
- The Government of India, through the 99th constitutional amendment, sought to replace the collegium with the National Judicial Appointments Commission.
Composition of NJAC:
- Chairperson: Chief Justice of India.
- Two senior most judges of the Supreme Court following the CJI.
- Law Minister of India.
- Two eminent persons (Can be selected from Women/SC/ST/OBC/Minority communities. Appointed by a select committee with CJI,PM, and the Leader of opposition from Lok Sabha or a Leader of the single largest party in the Lok Sabha.)
- The Supreme Court however struck NJAC down. The court’s rationale was that the NJAC law gave politicians an equal say in judicial appointments to constitutional courts.
- The controversial collegium system of judicial appointments is under public scrutiny once again.
- This time, the potential for embarrassment to the superior judiciary is much higher.
- Former Chief Justices of India, a sitting Supreme Court judge, and the Bar Council of India have taken exception to the collegium’s unusual action of revisiting decisions made at an earlier meeting, and recommending the elevation to the apex court of Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and Justice Sanjiv Khanna, instead of two judges whose names had been considered earlier.
- Experts point out that the allegation is not merely one concerning the seniority or the lack of it of the two appointees; rather, it is the much graver charge of arbitrarily revoking a decision made on December 12, 2018.
- It is important to note that the official reasons are in the public domain in the form of a resolution on January 10, 2019.
- It claims that even though some decisions were made on December 12, 2018, “the required consultations could not be undertaken and completed” in view of the winter vacation.
- Further, when the collegium met again on January 5/6, its composition had changed following the retirement of Justice Madan B. Lokur. It was then decided that it would be “appropriate” to have a fresh look at the matter, as well as the “additional material”.
- The only rationale for the names of Rajasthan High Court Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Delhi High Court Chief Justice Rajendra Menon being left out is the claim that new material had surfaced. However, it is not clear what the material is and how it affected their suitability.
- Experts point out that former Chief Justice of India R.M. Lodha is right in underscoring the institutional nature of decisions by the collegium.
- However, an important question arises: can the retirement of one judge be a ground to withdraw a considered decision, even if some consultations were incomplete?
- There is little surprise in the disquiet in legal circles.
- Another curious element in the latest appointments is that Justice Maheshwari, who had been superseded as recently as November 2018, when a judge junior to him was appointed a Supreme Court judge, has been found to be “more suitable and deserving in all respects” than any of the other chief justices and judges.
- There is no objection to the elevation of Justice Khanna except his relative lack of seniority. There is little substance in this criticism, as it is now widely accepted that seniority cannot be the sole criterion for elevation to the Supreme Court. However, the fact that there are three other judges senior to him in the Delhi High Court itself — two of them serving elsewhere as chief justices — is bound to cause some misgivings.
- In conclusion, the credibility of the collegium system has once again been called into question.
- The recent practice of making public all resolutions of the collegium has brought in some transparency.
- Yet, the impression that it works in mysterious ways refuses to go away. This controversy ill-serves the judiciary as an institution.
- The 100-page judgment of the Supreme Court delivered on Thursday records for posterity how the Bharatiya Bar Girls Union of women working as dancers, singers or waitresses in bars, restaurants and beer halls challenged the might of the Maharashtra government.
- The women ridiculed the State’s “patriarchal notion of morality” to bring a draconian law in 2016 which stripped them of their livelihood and dignity.
The union’s challenge led the Bench of Justices A.K. Sikri and Ashok Bhushan to conclude that the State had no right to thrust its notion of morality on society.
Timeline of the issue
- Democratic lawmaker Raja Krishnamoorthi has been appointed as a member of a Congressional committee on intelligence, becoming the first South Asian to serve in the powerful body tasked to strengthen U.S.’s national security.
- Krishnamoorthi, 45, who represents Illinois’s 8th Congressional District in the House, was chosen along with Congresswoman Val Demings of Florida, Sean Patrick Maloney of New York and Peter Welch of Vermont as the four new Democratic members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) for the 116th Congress. The HPSCI is tasked with overseeing the activities and budget of the 17 intelligence agencies of the U.S.
- Early this week, Ms. Pelosi appointed Indian-American Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal to the House Education and Labour Committee.
The United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
- The United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (sometimes referred to as the Intelligence Committee or SSCI) is dedicated to overseeing the United States Intelligence Community—the agencies and bureaus of the federal government of the United States who provide information and analysis for leaders of the executive and legislative branches.
- As part of its oversight responsibilities, the Committee performs an annual review of the intelligence budget submitted by the president and prepares legislation authorizing appropriations for the various civilian and military agencies and departments comprising the intelligence community.
- The Committee makes recommendations to the Senate Armed Services Committee on authorizations for the intelligence-related components of the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, and U.S. Marine Corps. The Committee also conducts periodic investigations, audits, and inspections of intelligence activities and programs.
- Gulshan Mahal, the elegant 19th-century bungalow in South Mumbai, was once known for qawwalis and cultural gatherings. Now it is all set to return in a new avatar — as the home of the National Museum of Indian Cinema (NMIC).
- The refurbished building of five floors and two mezzanine floors, will be opened by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on January 19. An evacuee property, the Peddar Road structure has been refurbished by the NBCC (India) Ltd at a cost of ₹61 crore.
- Originally known as Gulshan Abad (garden of prosperity), it was built in the mid-1800s. It was owned by Peerbhoy Khalakdina, a Gujarati businessman from the Khoja Muslim community. The house, where he lived with his wife and son, was in a five-acre property between Peddar Road and Warden Road, overlooking the sea.
- Over the years, Gulshan Mahal has been put to different uses. It has served as a hospital for soldiers, was a temporary campus for Jai Hind College, has housed the Documentary Films of India and the Films Division, and been used for film shoots like Munnabhai MBBS.
- Modernised with the idea of turning the complex into a ‘film hub’, the NMIC now has been well equipped with state-of-the-art facilities, including expansive auditoriums and a multi-purpose hall that could be used as a movie preview theatre or a seminar hall.
- The Mizoram government has banned import of pigs and piglets to prevent outbreak of a disease that has cost the lives of thousands of swines in the State.
- The State government has instructed deputy commissioners of all eight districts to issue prohibitory orders banning the import of pigs and piglets from other countries, Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Minister K. Beichhua said on Thursday.
- The porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) has cost the lives of over 10,000 swines in Mizoram since 2013 and it is believed that it happened due to import of pigs from Myanmar where the disease was known to be prevalent, officials said. Mr. Beichhua said the ban of import of pigs from other countries was the only way to prevent outbreak of the PRRS in the State.
- The symptoms of PRRS include reproductive failure, pneumonia and increased susceptibility to secondary bacterial infection.
G. Prelims Facts
- Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Thursday announced extension of free health services under Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana to all government medical college and hospitals from February 1.
- All patients, irrespective of APL or BPL category, will be able to avail of this facility. Besides, all patients will be provided blood bank facility free of cost. Earlier, the free treatment facility for all were available at sub-centres in villages and district headquarters hospitals.
- This cashless care is being provided to all persons without any requirement of income, residence or any other document. The free services will cover all procedures available in all government health institutes such as in-patient beds, surgeries, Operation Theatre and ICU facilities.
Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana
- Odisha CM launched Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana, a health for all scheme, on the occasion of the 72nd Independence Day.
- The scheme provides health assurance coverage to 70 lakh families, covering more than 70% of the State’s population
- It may be recalled that the Odisha government had rejected the National Health Protection Scheme as it covered much lesser number of people in Odisha by adopting the 2011 census.
- The State government went ahead with its own scheme with coverage of up to ₹5 lakh per year per family. The amount is ₹7 lakh per family with women members.
- The PMMY Scheme was launched in April, 2015. The scheme’s objective is to refinance collateral-free loans given by the lenders to small borrowers.
- The scheme, which has a corpus of Rs 20,000 crore, can lend between Rs 50,000 and Rs 10 lakh to small entrepreneurs.
- Banks and MFIs can draw refinance under the MUDRA Scheme after becoming member-lending institutions of MUDRA.
- Mudra Loans are available for non-agricultural activities upto Rs. 10 lakh and activities allied to agriculture such as Dairy, Poultry, Bee Keeping etc, are also covered.
- Mudra’s unique features include a Mudra Card which permits access to Working Capital through ATMs and Card Machines.
- There are three types of loans under PMMY: Shishu (up to Rs.50,000); Kishore (from Rs.50,001 to Rs.5 lakh); Tarun (from Rs.500,001 to Rs.10,00,000).
Objectives of the scheme:
- Fund the unfunded: Those who have a business plan to generate income from a non-farm activity like manufacturing, processing, trading or service sector but don’t have enough capital to invest can take loans up to Rs 10 lakh.
- Micro finance institutions (MFI) monitoring and regulation: With the help of MUDRA bank, the network of microfinance institutions will be monitored. New registration will also be done.
- Promote financial inclusion: With the aim to reach Last mile credit delivery to micro businesses taking help of technology solutions, it further adds to the vision of financial inclusion.
- Reduce jobless economic growth: Providing micro enterprises with credit facility will help generate employment sources and an overall increase in GDP.
- Integration of Informal economy into Formal sector: It will help India also grow its tax base as incomes from the informal sector are non-taxed.
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
Question 1. Consider the following statement regarding Border Roads Organisation (BRO)
- It functions under Ministry of Highways and Transport
- BRO develops and maintains road networks in India’s border areas and as well as in neighbouring countries.
Which of the following statements is/are correct?
- 1 only
- 2 only
- 1 and 2 both
- Neither 1 and 2
Question 2. Which of the following statement(s) is/are correct regarding public goods?
- Public goods are excludable but non rivalrous
- Public goods are non- excludable but rivalrous
- Public goods are neither excludable nor rivalrous
- Public goods are both excludable and rivalrous
Question 3. Which of the following taxes form part of receipts of revenue account of budget in India?
- Income tax
- Corporation tax
- Customs duty
Select the correct answer using the codes given below:
- Only 1 and 2
- Only 2 and 3
- Only 1 and 3
- All of the above
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions
- 1. Collegium system has its concerns as absolute power is not desirable in any branch of the State. The need of the hour is to revisit the existing system through a transparent and participatory procedure, preferably by an independent broad-based constitutional body guaranteeing judicial primacy but not judicial exclusivity. Analyse the statement (10 Marks; 150 words)
- Karnataka is currently reeling under an outbreak of monkey fever or Kyasanur forest disease (KFD). Authorities are taking measures, including vaccination to combat the disease and spread of it in the state. In this context, write a note on the disease by
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