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RTI Amendment Bill, 2019

Paper: General Studies 2

Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability

Why in the news?

The Government introduced the Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2019 in Lok Sabha today. 

What are the major changes proposed in the Bill?

The Bill changes the terms and conditions of service of the CIC and Information Commissioners at the centre and in the states. 

 

Provision RTI Act, 2005 RTI (Amendment) Bill, 2019
Term The Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) and Information Commissioners (ICs) (at the central and state level) will hold office for a term of five years.  The Bill removes this provision and states that the central government will notify the term of office for the CIC and the ICs.
Quantum of Salary The salary of the CIC and ICs (at the central level) will be equivalent to the salary paid to the Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners, respectively. 

Similarly, the salary of the CIC and ICs (at the state level) will be equivalent to the salary paid to the Election Commissioners and the Chief Secretary to the state government, respectively. 

The Bill removes these provisions and states that the salaries, allowances, and other terms and conditions of service of the central and state CIC and ICs will be determined by the central government.

 

Deductions in Salary The Act states that at the time of the appointment of the CIC and ICs (at the central and state level), if they are receiving pension or any other retirement benefits for previous government service, their salaries will be reduced by an amount equal to the pension. 

Previous government service includes service under: (i) the central government, (ii) state government, (iii) corporation established under a central or state law, and (iv) company owned or controlled by the central or state government.

The Bill removes these provisions.

 

 

What does the RTI Act, 2005 do?

  • Under the RTI Act, 2005, Public Authorities are required to make disclosures on various aspects of their structure and functioning.  This includes: (i) disclosure on their organisation, functions, and structure, (ii) powers and duties of its officers and employees, and (iii) financial information.  
  • The intent of such suo moto disclosures is that the public should need minimum recourse through the Act to obtain such information.  If such information is not made available, citizens have the right to request for it from the Authorities. 
  • This may include information in the form of documents, files, or electronic records under the control of the Public Authority.  The intent behind the enactment of the Act is to promote transparency and accountability in the working of Public Authorities.

 

How is the Right to Information implemented?

  • The Act has established a three tier structure for enforcing the right to information guaranteed under the Act.
  • Public Authorities designate some of their officers as Public Information Officers.  The first request for information goes to Central/State Assistant Public Information Officer and Central/State Public Information Officer, designated by the Public Authorities. 
  • These Officers are required to provide information to an RTI applicant within 30 days of the request.  Appeals from their decisions go to an Appellate Authority. Appeals against the order of the Appellate Authority go to the State Information Commission or the Central Information Commission.  
  • These Information Commissions consists of a Chief Information Commissioner, and up to 10 Information Commissioners.  

 

Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Bill, 2019

Paper: General Studies 2

Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability

Why in the news?

The Lok Sabha on Friday passed The Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Bill 2019 by voice vote.

What are the major changes introduced in the Bill?

  • Composition of NHRC: Under the Act, the chairperson of the NHRC is a person who has been a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.  The Bill amends this to provide that a person who has been Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, or a Judge of the Supreme Court will be the chairperson of the NHRC. 
  • The Act provides for two persons having knowledge of human rights to be appointed as members of the NHRC. The Bill amends this to allow three members to be appointed, of which at least one will be a woman.  Under the Act, chairpersons of various commissions such as the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, National Commission for Scheduled Tribes, and National Commission for Women are members of the NHRC. The Bill provides for including the chairpersons of the National Commission for Backward Classes, the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights, and the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities as members of the NHRC.
  • Chairperson of SHRC: Under the Act, the chairperson of a SHRC is a person who has been a Chief Justice of a High Court.  The Bill amends this to provide that a person who has been Chief Justice or Judge of a High Court will be chairperson of a SHRC.  
  • Term of office: The Act states that the chairperson and members of the NHRC and SHRC will hold office for five years or till the age of seventy years, whichever is earlier.  The Bill reduces the term of office to three years or till the age of seventy years, whichever is earlier. Further, the Act allows for the reappointment of members of the NHRC and SHRCs for a period of five years.  The Bill removes the five-year limit for reappointment.   
  • Powers of Secretary-General: The Act provides for a Secretary-General of the NHRC and a Secretary of a SHRC, who exercise powers as may be delegated to them.  The Bill amends this and allows the Secretary-General and Secretary to exercise all administrative and financial powers (except judicial functions), subject to the respective chairperson’s control.
  • Union Territories: The Bill provides that the central government may confer on a SHRC human rights functions being discharged by Union Territories.  Functions relating to human rights in the case of Delhi will be dealt with by the NHRC.  

 

National Commission for Scheduled Tribes

Paper: General Studies 2

Topic: Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.

Why in the news?

A team of National Commission for Scheduled Tribes comprising of Dr. Nand Kumar Sai, Chairperson, Smt. Maya Chintamn Ivnate, Member, Shri S. K. Ratho, Joint Secretary to Govt. of India and Shri R.K. Dubey, Assistant Director will visit Sonbhadra District to inquire into the incident of violence.

What is the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes?

National Commission for Scheduled Tribes is a Constitutional body established under Article 338A of the Constitution of India. The functions of the Commission include: 

  1. To investigate & Monitor matters relating to Safeguards provided for STs under the Constitution or under other laws or under Govt. Order, to evaluate the working of such Safeguards.
  2. To inquire into specific complaints relating to Rights & Safeguards of STs;
  3. To participate and advise in the Planning Process relating to Socio-economic development of STs, and to evaluate the progress of their development under the Union and any State;
  4. To submit a report to the President annually and  at such other times as the Commission may deem fit, upon/ working of Safeguards, Measures required for effective implementation of Programmers/ Schemes relating to Welfare and Socio-economic development of STs;
  5. To discharge such other functions in relation to STs as the President may, subject to the provisions of any law made by Parliament, by rule specify;
  6. The Commission would also discharge the following other functions in relation to the protection, welfare and development & advancement of the Scheduled Tribes, namely:-
    • Measures that need to be taken over conferring ownership rights in respect of minor forest produce to the Scheduled Tribes living in forest areas.
    • Measures to be taken to safeguard the rights to the Tribal Communities over mineral resources, water resources etc. as per law.
    • Measures to be taken for the development of tribals and to work for move viable livelihood strategies.
    • Measures to be taken to improve the efficacy of relief and rehabilitation measures for tribal groups displaced by development projects.
    • Measures to be taken to prevent alienation of tribal people from land and to effectively rehabilitate such people in whose case alienation has already taken place.
    • Measures to be taken to elicit maximum cooperation and involvement of Tribal Communities for protecting forests and undertaking social afforestation.
    • Measures to be taken to ensure full implementation of the Provisions of Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 (40 of 1996).
    • Measures to be taken to reduce and ultimately eliminate the practice of shifting cultivation by Tribals that lead to their continuous disempowerment and degradation of land and the environment

 

AYUSH system of medicines

Paper: General Studies 2

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

What is AYUSH?

AYUSH is a term that collectively refers to traditional system of medicines – Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy , Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy.

What are the steps taken by the Government to promote AYUSH system of medicine?

  • Centrally Sponsored Scheme of National AYUSH Mission and the strategy of mainstreaming of AYUSH under National Health Mission and National Health Policy-2017 are implemented for promoting and strengthening AYUSH sector. 
  • Financial support is provided through Centrally Sponsored and Central Sector Schemes for various activities in the field of AYUSH including infrastructure development and supply of medicines to the dispensaries and hospitals in the states.  
  • Central Regulatory Bodies, Central Research Councils, National Institutes, All India Institutes, National Medicinal Plants Board, Pharmacopoeia Commission of Indian Medicine & Homeopathy and Pharmacopoeia Laboratories of AYUSH have been set up and the network of AYUSH institutions in the states is being expanded and strengthened. 
  • Under the strategy of mainstreaming of AYUSH, AYUSH facilities are being set up in PHCs, CHCs and District hospitals through National AYUSH Mission. Till date, AYUSH facilities have been co-located  in 506 District Hospitals, 374 sub district Hospitals, 2871 CHCs, 8995 PHCs, and 5716 other healthcare centers.   
  • For promotion of AYUSH systems across the globe, Ministry of AYUSH has signed Country to Country MoUs with 18 countries for cooperation in the field of Traditional Medicine and Homeopathy, 19 MoUs for undertaking Collaborative Research/ Academic collaboration and 13 MoUs for setting up AYUSH Academic Chairs in foreign Universities. 31 AYUSH Information Cell have been set up in 28 countries to disseminate authentic information about AYUSH systems.
  • The  quality of education of Ayurvedic,  Unani and Homeopathy systems of medicine is rather regulated respectively in accordance with the provisions of Indian Medicine Central Council Act, 1970 and Homoeopathy Central Council Act, 1973 and the regulations thereunder for standard requirements of educational courses. 
  • Exclusive regulatory & quality control provisions for medicines of these systems are provided in the Drugs & Cosmetics Act, 1940 and the Rules there under. Patent or proprietary new formulations of Indian Medicines are evolved, manufactured and are available in the market.  
  • Research Councils of AYUSH and other Research & Development institutions in the country have worked and are working further on various medicinal plants and herbs to evolve new medicines for treatment of various diseases.  Details of such research studies are provided in the website ayush portal.nic.in and are published in various scientific journals. ndian Medicine and Central Council of Homeopathy. 
  • The Ayurvedic, Siddha, Unani & Homeopathy education is being imparted under graduate and post graduation in specialties as per the relevant regulations made under Indian Medicine Central Council Act, 1970 and Homeopathy Central Council Act, 1973 respectively 
  • The AYUSH Grid Project is the proposed IT backbone for the entire AYUSH sector covering the healthcare systems Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, Sowa Rigpa and Homoeopathy. AYUSH Grid is envisaged as an omnibus digital eco- system that would lead to all round development of the AYUSH sector in fields of healthcare delivery at all levels, research, education, schemes and various health programs.

 

NAG Missile

Paper: General Studies 3

Topic: Security challenges and their management in border areas

Why in the news?

Indian Army has successfully carried out summer user trials of third Generation Anti-Tank Guided Missile NAG at Pokhran Field Firing Ranges. The trials of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) developed Missile were conducted between July 7-18, 2019.

About NAG Missile

  • NAG is an Indian third generation “fire-and-forget” anti-tank guided missile. It is an all weather, top attack missile with a range of 3 to 7 km being developed by India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program and is manufactured by Bharat Dynamics Limited. 
  • NAG missile has been developed to engage highly fortified enemy tanks in all weather conditions with day and night capabilities and with a minimum range of500 metres and maximum range of four kilometres. It is a third-generation fire and forget class missile and uses an imaging infrared seeker in lock-on-before-launch mode.
  • The missile is launched from the NAG missile carrier (NAMICA) which is capable of carrying up to six combat missiles. The robust imaging algorithm has made the missile hit the target at four-kilometre distance even in severe summer desert conditions which is unique in its class.
  • The NAMICA version of the missile is a ‘lock-on before launch’ system, where the target is identified and designated before the missile is launched. As the targeting system is based on visual identification, the range is limited. The HELINA version on the other hand will use a ‘lock-on after launch’ system extending its range to 7 km. In this scenario, the missile is launched in the general direction of the target. As it approaches the target, images of the area ahead are sent back to the operator who will be able to identify enemy tanks. The command to lock on to a tank is then passed onto the seeker through an uplink mid-flight. After that, the missile homes in onto the target and destroys it.

 

Prelims Specific

  • Arani Silk Sarees – The silks from the town of Arani in Tiruvannamalai are equally famous as the Kanjivaram; but they are lighter than them. The sarees are woven with mulberry silk in warp and weft, with or without too much Zari. The highlight of an Arani pattu is the “thazamboo” border motif.