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Western Zonal Council

Paper: General Studies 2

Topic:  issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure

Why in the news?

The Home Minister will Chair the 24th meeting of the Western Zonal Council on August 22. The agenda is expected to include speedy investigations into sexual assault cases, comprehensive security plan and improved security at railway stations.

About Zonal Councils

Zonal councils are consultative and advisory councils set up vide Part-III of the States Re-organisation Act, 1956.

The present composition of each of these Zonal Councils is as under:

  • The Northern Zonal Council, comprising the States of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan, National Capital Territory of Delhi and Union Territory of Chandigarh;
  • The Central Zonal Council, comprising the States of Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh;
  • The Eastern Zonal Council, comprising the States of Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa and West Bengal;
  • The Western Zonal Council, comprising the States of Goa, Gujarat, Maharashtra and the Union Territories of Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli;
  • The Southern Zonal Council, comprising the States of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and the Union Territory of Puducherry.

The North Eastern States i.e. (i) Assam (ii) Arunachal Pradesh (iii) Manipur (iv) Tripura (v) Mizoram (vi) Meghalaya and (vii) Nagaland are not included in the Zonal Councils and their special problems are looked after by the North Eastern Council, set up under the North Eastern Council Act, 1972. The State of Sikkim has also been included in the North Eastern Council vide North Eastern Council (Amendment) Act, 2002 notified on 23rd December 2002. 

Organizational Structure of Zonal Councils

  • Chairman – The Union Home Minister is the Chairman of each of these Councils.
  • Vice Chairman – The Chief Ministers of the States included in each zone act as Vice-Chairman of the Zonal Council for that zone by rotation, each holding office for a period of one year at a time.
  • Members- Chief Minister and two other Ministers as nominated by the Governor from each of the States and two members from Union Territories included in the zone.
  • Advisers- One person nominated by the Planning Commission for each of the Zonal Councils, Chief Secretaries and another officer/Development Commissioner nominated by each of the States included in the Zone

Union Ministers are also invited to participate in the meetings of Zonal Councils depending upon necessity.

Objectives of the Zonal Councils

The Zonal Councils provide an excellent forum where irritants between Centre and States and amongst States can be resolved through free and frank discussions and consultations. Being advisory bodies, there is full scope for free and frank exchange of views in their meetings. Though there are a large number of other fora like the National Development Council, Inter State Council, Governor’s/Chief Minister’s Conferences and other periodical high level conferences held under the auspices of the Union Government, the Zonal Councils are different, both in content and character. They are regional fora of cooperative endeavour for States linked with each other economically, politically and culturally. Being compact high level bodies, specially meant for looking after the interests of respective zones, they are capable of focusing attention on specific issues taking into account regional factors, while keeping the national perspective in view.

The main objectives of setting up of Zonal Councils are as under :

  • Bringing out national integration;
  • Arresting the growth of acute State consciousness, regionalism, linguism and particularistic tendencies;
  • Enabling the Centre and the States to co-operate and exchange ideas and experiences;
  • Establishing a climate of co-operation amongst the States for successful and speedy execution of development projects.

 

PM Jan Arogya Yojana

Paper: General Studies 2

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

Why in the news?

Cancer treatments are expected to be covered under the Ayushman Bharat Yojana – PM Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY)

What is the PM-JAY?

  • Under the ambit of Ayushman Bharat, a Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY) to reduce the financial burden on poor and vulnerable groups arising out of catastrophic hospital episodes and ensure their access to quality health services was conceived. PM-JAY seeks to accelerate India’s progress towards achievement of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and Sustainable Development Goal – 3 (SDG3).
  • Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY) will provide financial protection (Swasthya Suraksha) to 10.74 crore poor, deprived rural families and identified occupational categories of urban workers’ families as per the latest Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) data (approx. 50 crore beneficiaries). It will offer a benefit cover of Rs. 500,000 per family per year (on a family floater basis). 
  • PM-JAY will cover medical and hospitalization expenses for almost all secondary care and most of tertiary care procedures. PM-JAY has defined 1,350 medical packages covering surgery, medical and day care treatments including medicines, diagnostics and transport.
  • To ensure that nobody is left out (especially girl child, women, children and elderly), there will be no cap on family size and age in the Mission. The scheme will be cashless & paperless at public hospitals and empanelled private hospitals. The beneficiaries will not be required to pay any charges for hospitalization expenses. The benefit also includes pre and post-hospitalization expenses. The scheme is an entitlement based, the beneficiary is decided on the basis of family being figured in SECC database. When fully implemented, the PM-JAY will become the world’s largest government funded health protection mission.

 

National Board for Wildlife

Paper: General Studies 3

Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

Why in the news?

Forest Department has identified 308.84 hectares of revenue land for inclusion in the Krishna Wildlife Sanctuary as recommended by the National Board for Wildlife compensating the land being diverted for the setting up of a Missile Test Launch Facility by the DRDO in Krishna District.

What is the National Board for Wildlife?

  • It is a “Statutory Organization” constituted under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
  • Its roles is “advisory” in nature and advises the Central Government on framing policies and measures for conservation of wildlife in the country.
  • Primary function of the Board is to promote the conservation and development of wildlife and forests.
  • It has power to review all wildlife-related matters and approve projects in and around national parks and sanctuaries.
  • No alteration of boundaries in national parks and wildlife sanctuaries can be done without the approval of the NBWL.
  • Composition: The NBWL is chaired by the Prime Minister. It has 47 members including the Prime Minister. Among these, 19 members are ex-officio members. Other members include three Members of Parliament (two from Lok Sabha and one from Rajya Sabha), five NGOs and 10 eminent ecologists, conservationists and environmentalists.

 

Prelims Specific

  • An analysis by CFTRI on PET bottles has concluded that antimony, arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, lead, mercury, selenium and zinc were below their detection limits of 0.001mg/kg. Bisphenol-A was also below its detection limit of 0.02 mg/kg.