Adjournment Sine die
Paper: General Studies 2
Topic: Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.
Why in the news?
- The First Session of Seventeenth Lok Sabha commenced on Monday, the 17th of June, 2019 and 249th Session of Rajya Sabha commenced from Thursday, the 20th June, 2019. Lok Sabha was adjourned sine die on Tuesday, the 6th August, 2019.
- Rajya Sabha was adjourned sine die on Wednesday, the 7th August, 2019. The Session had a total of 37 sittings of Lok Sabha and 35 sittings of the Rajya Sabha.
What is adjournment sine die?
- It means termination of a sitting of the House without any definite date being fixed for the next sitting.
- The House is usually adjourned sine die at the end of a session by the Chairperson of the House (Speaker in Lok Sabha or Chairman in Rajya Sabha). Following the adjournment sine die of the house, the President issues an order proroguing the house, bringing the session to an end.
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?
- A day-long NHRC (National Human Rights Commission) National Level Review Meeting on Mental Health was held in New Delhi. Flagging it as a matter of serious concern for the Commission, this step was consistent with its policy to monitor the mental health sector, and thus, it felt necessary to evaluate the ground realities post implementation of Mental Healthcare Act, 2017.
- There is a requirement of 13500 psychiatrists but only 3827 are available. Against the requirement of 20250 clinical psychologists only 898 are available. Similarly, there is an acute shortage of para– medical staff also.
- The NHRC Chairperson also raised the issue of prisoners having mental health problems and said that the protection of the rights of such prisoners is an obligation of the State governments under Section 103 of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 as also emphasized by the Supreme Court in one of its recent judgments.
What is mental health?
Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.
What are the key provisions of the Mental Health Act, 2017?
- Rights of persons with mental illness: This provision states that every person will have the right to access mental healthcare from services which are operated or funded by the government. It also includes good quality, easy and affordable access to services. It also provides for the right to equality of treatment, seeks to protect such persons from inhuman treatment, access to free legal services, their medical records, and the right to complain in the event of regarding deficiencies in provisions.
- Advance Directive: This provision empowers a mentally-ill person to have the right to make an advance directive that explains how she/he wants to be treated for the requisite illness and who her/his nominated representative shall be. This directive has to be vetted by a medical practitioner.
- Mental Health Establishments: This provision states that every mental health establishment has to be registered with the respective Central or State Mental Health Authority. For registration, the concerned establishment needs to fulfill different criteria as mentioned in the Bill.
- The Act also outlines the procedure and process for admission, treatment and subsequent discharge of mentally ill persons.
- Mental Health Review Commission and Board: This is a quasi-judicial body responsible for reviewing procedure for making advance directives. It will also advise the government on the protection of mentally ill persons’ rights. It further states that the body in agreement with the state governments constitute Mental Health Review Boards in states’ districts.
- Decriminalising suicide and prohibiting electro-convulsive therapy: The most notable of all is this provision effectively decriminalises suicide attempt under the Indian Penal Code by mentally ill persons by making it non-punishable. Electro-convulsive therapy, which is allowed only with the use of anaesthesia, is however out of bounds for minors.
What is the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)?
- The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of India is a Statutory public body constituted on 12 October 1993 under the Protection of Human Rights Ordinance of 28 September 1993.
- It was given a statutory basis by the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 (TPHRA).The NHRC is the National Human Rights Commission of India, responsible for the protection and promotion of human rights, defined by the Act as “Rights Relating To Life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual guaranteed by the Constitution or embodied in the International Covenants”.
What is the Composition of the NHRC?
The NHRC consists of:
- A Chairperson, should be retired [Chief Justice of India]
- One member who is, or has been, a Judge of the Supreme Court of India
- One member who is, or has been, the Chief Justice of a High Court
- Two members to be appointed from among persons having knowledge of, or practical experience in, matters relating to human rights
- In addition, the Chairpersons of four National Commissions (Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Women and Minorities) serve as ex officio members.
- The sitting Judge of the Supreme Court or sitting Chief Justice of any High Court can be appointed only after consultation with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
What are the functions of the NHRC?
The Protection of Human Rights Act mandates the NHRC to perform the following functions:
- proactively or reactively inquire into violations of government of India human rights or negligence in the prevention of such violation by a public servant
- by leave of the court, to intervene in court proceedings relating to human rights
- make recommendations about granting relief to the victims and their families.
- review the safeguards provided by or under the Constitution or any law for the time being in force for the protection of human rights and recommend measures for their effective implementation
- review the factors, including acts of terrorism that inhibit the enjoyment of human rights and recommend appropriate remedial measures
- to study treaties and other international instruments on human rights and make recommendations for their effective implementation
- undertake and promote research in the field of human rights
- engage in human rights education among various sections of society and promote
- awareness of the safeguards available for the protection of these rights through publications, the media, seminars and other available means
- encourage the efforts of NGOs and institutions congress to working in the field of human rights.
- such other functions as it may consider it necessary for the protection of human rights.
- requisitioning any public record or copy thereof from any court or office.
India – Pakistan
Paper: General Studies 2
Topic: India and its neighborhood- relations.
Why in the news?
- Pakistan on Wednesday expelled Indian High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria, minutes after it decided to downgrade diplomatic ties with India over what it called New Delhi’s “unilateral and illegal” move to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
- The meeting of Pakistan’s National Security Committee also decided to suspend bilateral trade and review the “bilateral arrangements”.
- The Pakistan NSC also decided that the country’s Independence Day on August 14 will be observed in solidarity with Kashmiris and their “just struggle for their right of self-determination’’. August 15, India’s Independence Day, will be observed as a Black Day.
- The NSC also decided to take up the issue with the UN Security Council.
What will be the impact of the above decisions?
- The trade suspension is expected to hurt Pakistan more than India, even though India exports goods worth $2 billion (2018-19) and imports goods valued at $500 million from Pakistan.
- The decision to review bilateral arrangements can impact other agreements such as the Indus Water Treaty
- Taking the Kashmir issue to UNSC will adversely impact India-Pakistan ties even as it may bring international pressure on both for dialogue regarding Kashmir.
Monetary Policy Committee (MPC)
Paper: General Studies 3
Topic: mobilization of resources
Why in the news?
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) today cut its benchmark repo rate, this time by a more than expected margin of 35 basis points. The announcement was made after the third bi-monthly policy review by the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) for 2019-20.
What is the repo rate?
- Repo rate is the interest rate charged by the RBI on overnight loans given to the commercial banks under the Liquidity Adjustment Facility. The repo rates’ value is that it is used as the policy rate or interest rate anchor by the RBI to target inflation. Here, when repo rate is changed, it will bring a corresponding change in the lending rates of commercial banks.
- Significance of the repo rate is that it is the interest rate anchor (short- term) and is used by the RBI to target inflation. It is the most important monetary policy tool of the RBI and because of its importance, repo rate is known as ‘the policy rate’.
- Under the inflation targeting monetary policy framework repo rate is considered as the only policy instrument to influence the targeted inflation and thus to achieve price stability.
What is the Monetary Policy Committee?
- The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) is the body of the RBI, headed by the Governor, responsible for taking the important monetary policy decision about setting the repo rate.
- The MPC was setup after a Memorandum of Understanding between the government and the RBI about the conduct of the new inflation targeting monetary policy framework in February 2015.
- The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) is formed under the RBI with six members. Three of the members are from the RBI while the other three members are appointed by the government. Members from the RBI are the Governor who is the chairman of the MPC, a Deputy Governor and one officer of the RBI. The government members are appointed by the Centre on the recommendations of a search-cum-selection committee which is to be headed by the Cabinet Secretary.
- The Committee is to meet at least four times a year and make public its decisions following each meeting. The quorum for the meeting of the MPC is four members. There will be no reappointment of the committee.
- Under MPC, the governor has a casting vote and doesn’t enjoy veto power. Decisions will be taken on the basis of majority vote.
- The main responsibility of the MPC is to administer the inflation targeting monetary policy regime through determining the policy rate or repo rate to contain inflation.
- In case the inflation target is failed to achieve (2% higher or lower than the set target of 4% for continuous three quarters), the RBI has to give an explanation to the government about the reasons, the remedial actions and the estimated time for realizing the target.
- Another responsibility for the RBI is to publish a Monetary Policy Report every six months, elaborating inflation forecasts and inflation sources for the next six to eighteen months.
Environmental and Social Management Framework(ESMF)
Paper: General Studies 3
Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment
Why in the news?
- The Environment Ministry has unveiled a draft plan that will dictate how prospective infrastructure projects situated along the coast ought to be assessed before they can apply for clearance.
- The draft Environmental and Social Management Framework (ESMF) is part of a World Bank-funded project. The document was prepared by SICOM, a government affiliated body.
- The document lays out guidelines out for coastal States to adopt when they approve and regulate projects in coastal zones.
- The project seeks to assist the Government of India in enhancing coastal resource efficiency and resilience, by building collective capacity (including communities and decentralised governance) for adopting and implementing integrated coastal management approaches
What is proposed under the ESMF?
- The key activities proposed for coastal zone development that consist of investments by States include: mangrove afforestation/shelter beds, habitat conservation activities such as restoration of sea-grass meadows, eco-restoration of sacred groves, development of hatcheries, rearing/rescue centres for turtles and other marine animals, creation of infrastructure for tourism, restoration and recharge of water bodies, beach cleaning and development, and other small infrastructure facilities.
- Livelihood improvement projects include demonstration of climate resilient or salinity resistant agriculture, water harvesting and recharge/storage, creation of infrastructure and facilities to support eco-tourism, community-based small-scale mariculture, seaweed cultivation, aquaponics, and value addition to other livelihood activities.
- The plan describes how “environmental and social aspects” ought to be integrated into the planning, design, implementation of projects.
- Projects should strive to avoid or minimise impacts on cultural properties and natural habitats, compensate any loss of livelihood or assets, adopt higher work safety standards, occupational and community health and safety
- Heracles inexpectatus is a species of giant parrots that stood more than half the height of an average human and roamed the Earth 19 million years ago. The evidence of the species was discovered in New Zealand