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National Commission on Minorities

Paper: General Studies 2

Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies

Why in the news?

  • The National Commission of Minorities (NCM) has refused to entertain a plea to declare Hindus a “minority community” in those States where they do not form a majority of the population.
  • A report of its sub-committee, which was approved and adopted by the NCM on July 26, said the role of the minorities commission was not to declare new minority communities but to, instead, work and ensure the progress and development of minorities and protect their religious, cultural and educational rights.

What is the National Commission on Minorities?

  • It is a statutory body set up under the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992 to safeguard the interests and rights of minorities and ensure their development.
  • It consists of a Chairman and five members that are nominated by the Central Government an all of whom belong to minority communities.

What are the functions of the NCM?

  • Evaluate the progress of the development of Minorities under the Union and States.
  • Monitor the working of the safeguards provided in the Constitution and in laws enacted by Parliament and the State Legislatures.
  • Make recommendations for the effective implementation of safeguards for the protection of the interests of Minorities by the Central Government or the State Governments.
  • Look into specific complaints regarding deprivation of rights and safeguards of the Minorities and take up such matters with the appropriate authorities.
  • Cause studies to be undertaken into problems arising out of any discrimination against Minorities and recommend measures for their removal.
  • Conduct studies, research and analysis on the issues relating to socio-economic and educational development of Minorities.
  • Suggest appropriate measures in respect of any Minority to be undertaken by the Central Government or the State Governments.
  • Make periodic or special reports to the Central Government on any matter pertaining to Minorities and in particular the difficulties confronted by them.
  • Any other matter which may be referred to it by the Central Government.

 

National Medical Commission Bill, 2019

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?

Lok Sabha passed the National Medical Commission Bill which was introduced by the Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Dr. Harsh Vardhan in Lok Sabha on July 22, 2019.  The Bill seeks to repeal the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 and provide for a medical education system which ensures: (i) availability of adequate and high quality medical professionals, (ii) adoption of the latest medical research by medical professionals, (iii) periodic assessment of medical institutions, and (iv) an effective grievance redressal mechanism.  

What are the key features of the Bill?

Key features of the Bill include:
 

  • Constitution of the National Medical Commission:  The Bill sets up the National Medical Commission (NMC).  Within three years of the passage of the Bill, state governments will establish State Medical Councils at the state level.  The NMC will consist of 25 members, appointed by the central government. A Search Committee will recommend names to the central government for the post of Chairperson, and the part time members.  The Search Committee will consist of seven members including the Cabinet Secretary and five experts nominated by the central government (of which three will have experience in the medical field).
  • Members of the NMC will include: (i) the Chairperson (must be a medical practitioner), (ii) Presidents of the Under-Graduate and Post-Graduate Medical Education Boards, (iii) the Director General of Health Services, Directorate General of Health Services, (iv) the Director General, Indian Council of Medical Research, and (v) five members (part-time) to be elected by the registered medical practitioners from amongst themselves from states and union territories for a period of two years.  
  • Functions of the National Medical Commission:  Functions of the NMC include: (i) framing policies for regulating medical institutions and medical professionals, (ii) assessing the requirements of healthcare related human resources and infrastructure, (iii) ensuring compliance by the State Medical Councils of the regulations made under the Bill, (iv) framing guidelines for determination of fees for up to 50% of the seats in private medical institutions and deemed universities which are regulated under the Bill.
  • Medical Advisory Council:  Under the Bill, the central government will constitute a Medical Advisory Council.  The Council will be the primary platform through which the states/union territories can put forth their views and concerns before the NMC.  Further, the Council will advise the NMC on measures to determine and maintain minimum standards of medical education.
  • Autonomous boards:  The Bill sets up autonomous boards under the supervision of the NMC.  Each autonomous board will consist of a President and four members, appointed by the central government.  These boards are: (i) the Under-Graduate Medical Education Board (UGMEB) and the Post-Graduate Medical Education Board (PGMEB):  These Boards will be responsible for formulating standards, curriculum, guidelines, and granting recognition to medical qualifications at the undergraduate and post graduate levels respectively. (ii) The Medical Assessment and Rating Board (MARB):  MARB will have the power to levy monetary penalties on medical institutions which fail to maintain the minimum standards as laid down by the UGMEB and PGMEB. The MARB will also grant permission for establishing a new medical college, starting any postgraduate course, or increasing the number of seats.  (iii) The Ethics and Medical Registration Board: This Board will maintain a National Register of all licensed medical practitioners, and regulate professional conduct. Only those included in the Register will be allowed to practice medicine. The Board will also maintain a separate National Register for community health providers. 
  • Community health providers:  Under the Bill, the NMC may grant a limited license to certain mid-level practitioners connected with the modern medical profession to practice medicine.  These mid-level practitioners may prescribe specified medicines in primary and preventive healthcare. In any other cases, these practitioners may only prescribe medicines under the supervision of a registered medical practitioner.
  • Entrance examinations:  There will be a uniform National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test for admission to under-graduate and postgraduate superspeciality medical education in all medical institutions regulated under the Bill.  The NMC will specify the manner of conducting common counselling for admission in all such medical institutions.
  • The Bill proposes a common final year undergraduate examination called the National Exit Test for the students graduating from medical institutions to obtain the license for practice.  This test will also serve as the basis for admission into postgraduate courses at medical institutions under this Bill.

All India Tiger Estimation 2018

Paper: General Studies 3

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

Why in the news?

  • On the occasion of Global Tiger Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi released the results of the fourth cycle of All India Tiger Estimation – 2018.
  • The count of tigers in India, has risen to 2967, in 2018, according to this survey.
  • The 33% rise in tiger numbers is the highest ever recorded between cycles which stood at 21% between 2006 to 2010 and 30% between 2010 and 2014. 
  • The rise in tiger numbers was in conformity with the average annual growth rate of tigers since, 2006. Madhya Pradesh saw the highest number of tigers at 526, closely followed by Karnataka at 524 with Uttarakhand at number 3 with 442 tigers. 
  • It was a moment of pride for the country as it achieved its commitment to the St.Petersburg Declaration, of doubling Tiger population, much in advance to the 2022 deadline.
  • During the 4th cycle, in sync with Government of India’s “Digital India” initiative, data was collected using an Android based application- M-STrIPES ( Monitoring system for Tigers’ Intensive Protection and Ecological Status) and analyzed on the applications’ desktop module. The, application greatly eased out analysis of a large quantum of data that was collected over nearly 15 months involving survey of 381,400 sq.km. of forested habitats, 522,996 km of walk by State Forest officials, laying of 317,958 habitat plots, totaling a human investment of 5, 93,882 man days. 
  • Besides cameras were placed in 26760 locations which gave a total of 35 million images of wildlife including 76523 images of tigers. Segregation of these images was possible in a short time because of the use of artificial intelligence software.
  • The intensity with which the exercise was conducted resulted in 83 % of the tiger population being captured wherein 2461 individual tiger photographs were obtained and only 17 % of the tiger population was estimated using robust spatially explicit capture recapture statistical models.
  • The Prime Minister also released report of the 4th cycle of the Management Effectiveness Evaluation of Tiger Reserves (MEETR) with Pench Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh scoring the highest and Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve, Tamil Nadu showing the highest increment in management since the last cycle for which the latter was awarded. 42% of the tiger reserves fell in the Very Good management category, 34% in the Good category, 24% in the Fair category while no tiger reserve was rated Poor.

What is the St.Petersburg Declaration?

  • St. Petersburg Declaration on doubling the tiger population was signed in 2010 at St.Petersburg in Russia under which all 13 tiger range countries in Asia and partner organizations of the Global Tiger Initiative agreed to a Global Tiger Recovery Program, the first-ever coordinated, range-wide and international effort to save the world’s tigers.
  • These countries agreed to double the numbers by 2022 and this target was called Tx2.
  • The tiger range countries that are part of the Global Tiger Recovery Program are Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand, and Vietnam. 
  • The Declaration in turn established 29 July as the International Tiger Day (also known as Global Tiger Day) to be observed annually to raise awareness for tiger conservation.

 

Grain by Grain: Green Rating Project

Paper: General Studies 3

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

Why in the news?

  • Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has done a first-of-its-kind environmental rating of the Indian fertilizer industry under its Green Rating Project (GRP)
  • Environment minister Prakash Javadekar released rating report titled Grain by Grain in New Delhi. This is the 7th industrial sector to be rated by GRP
  • GRP is a unique programme that rates Indian industry for its environmental performance. 

What are the findings of the report?

  • India’s fertilizer industry is improving energy efficiency and cutting on greenhouse gases. However, several of them are slacking on water consumption and water pollution parameters. Some plants are also getting affected because of lack of water and their water sources are getting depleted and disappearing very fast.
  • Several of these plants are ageing and, in spite of performing “reasonably well” in meeting health and safety standards, most of them need to upgrade on site and off site disaster management plants.
  • The top rated plant was Grasim Industries Ltd’s Indo-Gulf Fertilizers unit at Jagdishpur, U.P. “This plant, with 61% score, has received the coveted Four Leaves award for its superior performance in energy use and GHG emissions, its good EHS (environment, health and safety) measures, and social responsibility, and above all, its transparency in sharing information,” the CSE said in a statement.
  • The next three winners were Hazira (Gujarat) unit of Krishak Bharati Cooperative Ltd., the Panambur (Karnataka) unit of Mangalore Chemicals & Fertilizers Ltd. and the Babrala (U.P. ) unit of Yara Fertilizers India Pvt. Ltd.
  • Incentives determine performance. The fertilizer sector is strictly controlled. As they are incentivised to improve energy efficiency, plants have done really well in that area. However, since there are no incentives offered for controlling water consumption and environmental pollution, companies shy away from investing in pollution control measures or in technologies to reduce water use. In fact, owing to the manner in which urea has been priced, there is a disincentive to invest in environmental protection. 
  • No incentives are offered for innovation.There has been no product innovation in this sector other than a few plants selling bio-fertilizers. Bulk urea use, therefore, is being promoted in the country, leading to imbalance in soil quality and pollution. 
  • The fertilizer industry contributes to two major environmental challenges — imbalance in the nitrogen cycle and climate change. The efficiency of fertilizer use in India is poor: nitrogen use efficiency is a mere 35% for lowland rice and under 50% for upland crops. Nitrogen pollution of surface and groundwater in the country has reached alarming proportions. The imbalanced application of these fertilizers was leading to widespread soil sickness, the report added.

Microdot Technology

Paper: General Studies 3

Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life

Why in the news?

  • The Ministry of Road Transport & Highways has issued a draft notification GSR 521(E) dated 24thJuly 2019, amending Central Motor Vehicle Rules,allowing motor vehicles and their parts, components, assemblies, sub-assemblies to be affixed with permanent and nearly invisible microdots that can be read physically with a microscope and identified with ultra violet light source.
  • Microdot technology involves spraying the body and parts of the vehicle or any other machine with microscopic dots, which give a unique identification. Use of this technology will help check theft of vehicles and also use of fake spare parts.  
  • The microdots and adhesive will become permanent fixtures/affixation which cannot be removed without damaging the asset, that is the vehicle itself. The notification says that the microdots, if affixed,will have to comply with AIS 155 requirements (AIS=Automotive Industry Standards)

 

Prelims Specific

  • The Odisha rasagola has been granted registration under the Geographical Indication of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999. The GI Tag number 612 was granted. It has been offered to Lord Jagannath in Puri for centuries.