Committee Current Affairs 2017 - Current Affairs Today

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  • Supreme Court now allows candidates above 25 years of age to appear in 2017 NEET exam

    The Supreme Court relaxed the age limit and allowed candidates above 25 years of age to appear in the NEET examinations 2017. The bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra also extended the last date of filling up the forms till April 5. The age limit can be fixed from the next academic year. Earlier, an eligible student above the age of 17 could apply, and there was no cap on the number of attempts. NEET Full Form : National Eligibility cum Entrance Test. NEET 2017 exam will be held for admission to MBBS/ BDS courses in Medical Council of India (MCI) and Dental Council of India.

    Soon, 10 Digit geo-referenced unique property number act as your address

    By this year-end, your property (in Bangalore) will have a 10-digit unique number. Existing System:- The PID system includes the ward number, street number and door number of the property, all of which can often change. Proposed system:- 10-digit unique number, which will be geo-referenced with the latitude and longitude information of the property, can effectively act as your address too. This number will replace your existing Property Identification (PID) number, which is not geo-referenced. The 10-digit system will give scope for assigning numbers to 100 lakh properties, a far cry from today’s estimated 25 lakh properties in the 'Bangalore' city. The 10-digit system will be error-proof and the system would not accept a wrong PID which may lead to tax payment to another account. Assigning new numbers was recommended by the BBMP (Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike) Restructuring Committee. Chairman of standing committee on taxation and finance, BBMP - M.K. Gunashekhar Currently, in Singapore, the geo-referenced unique property number acts as the citizen's address.

    CBDT forms committee to check absconding I-T dept officers

    The CBDT has constituted a committee to identify those IRS and other junior-rank officers of the Income Tax department who are on unauthorised leave or are absconding, so that strict disciplinary action could be initiated against them.  The three-member committee, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) said in a order, will carry out a "one-time count" of all the officers working in the department and identify those Group 'A' officers (Indian Revenue Service) who are presently on unauthorised leave or are absconding.  The committee is headed by an officer of the rank of Additional Director General (ADG).  A senior official said the step was being taken by the policy-making body of the tax department after it was noticed that over a dozen such cases were investigated and officers were sacked in the last about two years.  The CBDT order said the committee "will analyse the records of all the IRS officers currently in service and identify the IRS officers who are absconding or are on unauthorised leave.  The Committee is authorised to obtain information or certificate from controlling officers regarding any IRS officer prima facie found to be absconding or on unauthorised leave to ascertain whether such officers are still in service and/or on authorised leave and what action has been initiated against these officers  The committee, which was formed on March 20, has been asked to submit its report within two months.  The CBDT has also asked all the regional chiefs to conduct a similar exercise in respect of the Group 'B' and 'C' officials of the tax department. 

    SC constituted committee to explore technical solution to block videos of sexual offences on social networking sites

    The Supreme Court of India on 22 March 2017 constituted a committee to explore a technical solution to block videos of sexual offences on social networking sites. The committee comprises of representatives from the Union government and internet majors. The members of the committee that includes the nominees of Google India, Microsoft India, Yahoo India, Facebook and other internet intermediaries were given a time period of 15 days to meet and come up with a solution. The representatives of all stakeholders were asked to participate in the meeting and inform it about the outcome of the meet on 20 April 2017, which is the next day for hearing the case. The direction was passed by a bench of Justice MB Lokur and Justice UU Lalit while hearing a letter sent to former Chief Justice HL Dattu by a Hyderabad-based NGO along with two rape videos in a pen drive. Earlier in the day, the officials from cyber security informed the apex court that internet was a wild highway and blocking objectionable content at the source was a technical challenge. It informed that clear guidelines should be issued to stop the circulation of such material. They had told the court that 50 countries have set up hotlines to stop child abuse in their jurisdiction but India was yet to start such a service. The team of cyber security also informed the court that they are taking help of INTERPOL to stop child pornography. On receiving a complaint, internet service providers were asked to block the objectionable content. Cyber security department is a wing of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

    High level committee to examine working of CCIM, CCH and their governing legislation

    The high level Committee has been formed to examine the working of the regulatory bodies Central Council of Indian Medicine (CCIM) and Central Council of Homoeopathy(CCH) said by Yesso Naik, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for AYUSH.  The committee will be headed by Arvind Panagariya,Vice Chairman of NITI Aayog.  \Other members of the committee are Chief Executive Officer (CEO), NITI Aayog and Secretary, Ministry of AYUSH  Both the council will be inspected by the new committee and will suggest suitable reforms.   

    Union Government designated 14 Olympians as National Observers

    The Union Youth Affairs and Sports Minister Vijay Goel on 20 March 2017 designated the following 14 Olympians as ‘National Observers’ for 12 sports disciplines. Sports Discipline-Name of National Observer(s) Athletics-PT Usha,Anju Bobby George Archery-Dr Sanjeev Kumar Singh, Badminton - Aparna Popat Boxing- Mary Kom,Akhil Kumar Hockey-Jagbir Singh Shooting-Abhinav Bindra Tennis-Somdev Devvarman Weightlifting-Karnam Malleshwari Wrestling-Sushil Kumar Football-I M Vijayan Swimming-Khajan Singh Table Tennis- Kamlesh Mehta Responsibilities of National Observers :  The National Observers will assist the Government, Sports Authority of India (SAI) and National Sports Federations (NSFs) and the Indian Olympic Association in their functioning. Their functions include all aspects of the sports including selection policy, quality specifications for national camps, long term athlete development plan, coaching development, development of technical officials and monitoring and evaluation of athlete performance. Apart from providing inputs for their respective disciplines, the National Observers would also to be consulted as a group on cross cutting issues impacting sports development in the country. The National Observers would be playing a key role in the implementation of action plans for Mission Olympics 2020, 2024 and 2028. Following are some of the recent initiatives of the Union Government to promote sports in the country. On 30 January 2017, the government constituted a Task Force to prepare an action plan for 2020, 2024 and 2028 Olympic games. On 5 February 2017, the foundation stone of the boundary wall of the first-ever Centre of Excellence for differently-abled sportsmen was laid at Sector-25 in Gandhinagar, Gujarat. On 10 February 2017, the Mission XI Million initiative was launched to promote football among school children. On 14 March 2017, Hockey India announced the appointment of four new Scientific Advisors for men and women, both senior and junior teams.

    Parliamentary panel suggests BSNL-MTNL merger for long-term survival

    A Parliamentary panel in its report has suggested a merger of state-run telecom firms Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) for their long-term survival. The Committee on Petitions, chaired by Bharatiya Janata Party MP Bhagat Singh Koshyari, in its report tabled in Lok Sabha on 16 March 2017, said that for the long-term survival and success, the merger of the MTNL and BSNL would be a good proposition. The panel opined that their merger would give both the entities a chance to compete against private sector players. In addition to this, the panel also suggested that the synergies and advantages inherent in an integrated national telecom infrastructure would pave the way for the lower cost of investment and greater combined ability to face competition. As per reports, the panel was informed that both the public sector firms are in financial losses and are facing declining revenues from the loss of market share and increasing expenditure. The information was provided by the Department of Telecom (DoT). Highlights of the DoT’s information to the panel : The two PSUs were not successful in investing adequately in the expansion and modernisation of their network, which leads to coverage issues.  Now, these firms are taking steps to modernise their wireline and wireless networks. The panel was informed about phase 7 and 8 network expansion plan for BSNL. In the case of MTNL, the DoT informed that due to financial crunch, the firm was not able to upgrade its GSM and landline network for the last three-four years. But at present, it is exploring Managed Service Model with BSNL for its mobile services. Besides, urging the government to consider its findings in relation to the merger of BSNL and MTNL, the panel also requested it to constitute an expert committee. The committee was formed to look into representation received by BJP MP Arvind Sawant regarding improvement in services provided by BSNL and MTNL.

    Madhukar Gupta Committee report submitted to Union Government

    The Committee, constituted under the Chairmanship of former Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta, submitted its report to the Union Government. Kiren Rijiju, Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, announced the submission of the report on 14 March 2017. The Madhukar Gupta Committee was constituted to strengthen border protection and address vulnerabilities in fencing along the Indo-Pakistan border. The Committee has given its recommendations broadly on the issues of Threats and Border Protection, assessment of force level, deployment on the border, infrastructure and technology issues for protection of border and administrative issues. The Government decided to initiate action in light of the recommendations of the Committee in consultation with the stakeholders. The Committee was appointed on 5 April 2016. It was constituted three months after terrorists belonging to Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed had breached the Indo-Pak border in Punjab and attacked the Pathankot airbase killing seven security personnel. Recently in the first week of March 2017, the Supreme Court directed the committee to oversee and monitor the progress of Indo-Bangladesh border fencing carried out by the Union Government. The top court also asked the panel to submit its report in four months.  

    Formation of committee to resolve grievances of women sports persons announced

    The Union Government on 8 March 2017 decided to constitute a high level committee to resolve the grievances and complaints of women sports persons. An announcement in this regard was made by the Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Youth Affairs and Sports Vijay Goel at a conference on ‘Women and Sports in India’ in New Delhi. The conference was organised by the Union Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports to mark the International Women’s Day to deliberate upon various issues for encouraging more and more women to take up sports. The day long conference  focused on – i. Creation of safe spaces for girls athletes and women coaches ii. Inclusion of gender sensitization modules in coach training modules iii. Gender parity in terms of support to women athletes iv. Zero tolerance towards sexual harassment in sports complex v. Women representation in sports institutions, federations and other sports bodies Facts related to the committee :  The committee will be constituted under the chairmanship of Joint secretary Sports. The committee will comprise athletes, advocates and senior officers of the ministry and sports journalists.In order to ensure effectiveness of the committee, all of its members will be women. Women athletes, who have any complaint, can approach the committee for their grievance redressal.

    Government Panel recommends legal framework to protect interests of migrants

    Government appointed ‘Working Group on Migration’ headed by Partha Mukhopadhay has recommended necessary legal and policy framework to protect the interests of the migrants in the country. The panel in its report stated that the migrant population makes substantial contribution to economic growth and so it is necessary to secure their Constitutional rights. The 18-member Working Group was constituted by Union Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation (HUPA) in 2015.  Protocols of the Registrar General of India (RGI) should be amended to enable caste based enumeration of migrants so that they can avail the attendant benefits in the States to which migration takes place. Migrants should be enabled to avail Public Distribution System (PDS) benefits in the destination state by providing for inter-State operability of PDS.  States should be encouraged to proactively eliminate the requirement of domicile status to prevent any discrimination in work and employment. Domicile status goes against constitutional fundamental right of Freedom of Movement and residence in any part of the territory of the country. States should include migrant children in the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan’s (SSA) Annual Work Plans to uphold their Right to Education.  Vast network of post offices should be made effective by reducing the cost of transfer of money to avoid informal remittences transfers by migrants. Migrants should be enabled to open bank accounts and banks should adhere to RBI guidelines regarding Know Your Customer (KYC) norms and not insist on documents that were not required Hugely underutilized Construction Workers Welfare Cess Fund (CWWF) should be used to promote rental housing, working Women Hostels etc. for the benefit of migrants. According to census 2011 and National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO), migrants constitute about 30% of the country’s population and also of the total working force. 2016-17 Economic Survey also noted that annual migration in the country increased to 9.00 million in 2016 from 3.30 million in 2011.  

    RBI sets up inter-disciplinary standing committee to review cyber threats

    The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has set up of an inter-disciplinary standing committee on cyber security to review the threats inherent in the existing and emerging technology. The 11-member committee will be headed by Meena Hemchandra, RBI Executive Director. It can co-opt more experts and also operate through a framework of sub-committees to examine specific issues. The committee will study adoption of various security standards and protocols, interface with stakeholders. Based on study, it will suggest appropriate policy interventions to strengthen cyber security and resilience. Based on the recommendations of the Expert Panel on Cyber Security and Information Technology Examination, RBI had issued guidelines to banks in June, 2016 mandating cyber security preparedness for addressing cyber risks. Since then banks have taken several steps to strengthen their defences, but the diverse and ingenious nature of cyber-attacks necessitates an ongoing review of the cyber security landscape and emerging threats.  Even the statement on Developmental and Regulatory Policies also was issued along with the Sixth Bi-monthly Monetary Policy Statement, 2016-17 proposing constitution of inter-disciplinary Standing Committee on Cyber Security.

    Saina Nehwal to represent Olympic Committee in BWF

    Indian badminton player Saina Nehwal was appointed as a member of the International Olympic Committee's(IOC) Athletes' Commission (AC) in 2016, will represent the panel in the Badminton World Federation (BWF). Saina would join the Badminton World Federation (BWF) Athletes' Commission as a representative of the IOC AC.  Currently, ranked world number 10 in BWF rankings, Saina is now aiming to win the prestigious All England Championship in March 2017.

    Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre appointed chairman of Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal

    Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre, a sitting judge of the Supreme Court of India, was appointed as the chairman of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal on 21 February 2017. He was nominated for the post by the Chief Justice JS Khehar. The post was vacant since Justice Balbir Singh Chauhan resigned from the post. Justice Chauhan, who retired from the apex court in July 2014, was heading the Cauvery Water Disputes tribunal as its Chairperson. In addition to this, Justice Sapre’s appointment as Chairman of the tribunal turns up to be a significant one as the Supreme Court will start hearing the Cauvery case on a regular basis from 21 March 2017. Earlier in December 2016, the Union Cabinet approved a proposal to set up a single, permanent Tribunal to adjudicate all inter-state river water disputes subsuming existing tribunals. The tribunal was established with an aim to speed up water sharing disputes among states. In addition to this, the Union Government also proposed to float some benches to look into disputes. Justice AM Sapre : Sapre, who enrolled as an advocate in January 1978, practised on civil constitutional and labour sides in the High Court of Madhya Pradesh in Jabalpur. In October 1999, he was appointed as an additional judge of the High Court of Madhya Pradesh and confirmed as a permanent judge in October 2001. In February 2011, he was transferred to Rajasthan High Court and assumed charge at Principal Seat Jodhpur. In April 2012, he was transferred to Chhattisgarh High Court In March 2013, he was transferred to the High Court of Manipur as Chief Justice where he assumed the charge as the First Chief Justice of High Court of Manipur. In October 2013, he was transferred to the Gauhati High Court, Guwahati as its Chief Justice. In August 2014, he was elevated and took charge as Judge of the Supreme Court. Born on 28 August 1954, Sapre will retire on 27 August 2019.

    Sub-committee to frame blueprint on Integrated Dairy Complexes constituted in Haryana

    Haryana Cabinet on 14 February 2017 constituted a sub-committee of council of ministers. The committee will prepare a blueprint for developing Integrated Dairy Complexes in all cities of the State. The decision to constitute the committee was taken at a cabinet meet chaired by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar. It has been asked to submit its report within a month. Members of the committee are Agriculture Minister Om Parkash Dhankhar Urban Local Bodies Minister Kavita Jain Minister of State for Cooperation Munish Kumar Grover Besides, the state cabinet also directed the Town and Planning Department that in the development plans of towns some area is earmarked around the towns where dairy, fodder and vegetable market could be set up. As per reports, these units will be known as integrated dairying complex. In addition to this, to implement the Transit Oriented Development (TOD) policy, the cabinet also approved a proposal of the Town and Country Department. The proposal seeks to amend the draft on the basis of suggestions received from public published on 15 July 2016. The TOD policy will be implemented in areas adjacent to six metros of Haryana. The amended policy will become applicable with immediate effect. In cases where an individual applies for a licence in an institutional area in the TOD zone will have to transfer an equal area of land in a residential zone in the same development plan to the government. This transfer will be done under the Transferable Development Rights (TDR) policy. This land will be used by the government to set up institutions like hospitals, colleges, fire stations, police stations and power stations. Under clause 7 of the Planning Parameter of Ground Coverage or FAR, the minimum area norm for the independent group housing colonies within the TOD zone (hyper/high potential zones) will be 4 acres instead of prevailing norm of 10 acres. On the other hand, this minimum area norm for another category of colonies will remain unaltered. This amendment will help the government in implement the policy for Innovative Financing of Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS) projects.

    HRD Ministry Constitutes Sub-Panel of CABE to Boost Girls’ Education

    The Union Ministry of Human Resource Development has constituted a sub-committee of Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) under Chairmanship of Telangana’s Deputy Chief Minister Kadiyam Srihari to look into issues related to girls education With the consultations of the Central/state governments and other stakeholders, the sub-committee will submit its report to the Union government within one year from the date of its constitution. iiiThe other members of the sub-committee include: Minister for Finance and Planning Assam, Dr. Himanta Biswa Sarma, and Dr. Neera Yadav, Minister for Social Education and Literacy Development, Jharkhand. Besides, Rina Ray, Additional Secretary, School Education, MHRD, will be the member secretary. The sub-committee would be responsible to examine the reasons for low participation oz girls in education including the socio-economic factors and suggest ways to reduce gender disparity It will assess the current status of girls’ enrolment across the country at primary, upper primary, secondary education and senior secondary levels in rural-urban areas. Besides, it will also examine the existing schemes, measures and incentives in use to enhance girls’ participation and ensure their retention in education and suggest improvements and modifications in the existing schemes. The committee will further look into the issues of safety of girl students in schools, particularly in residential schools and hostels and identify infrastructure gaps.  

    RBI to set up committee on strengthening cyber security

    The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has decided to set up an inter-disciplinary Standing Committee on cyber security to examine various threats and suggest measures to deal with it. The committee will suggest appropriate policy interventions to strengthen cyber security and resilience in a bid to strengthen cyber security system. Review the threats inherent in the existing or emerging technology on an ongoing basis. Study adoption of various security standards and protocols and also act as interface with stakeholders. Suggest appropriate policy interventions to strengthen cyber security and resilience The committee has been set up based on the recommendations of the expert panel on information technology examination and cyber security headed by Meena Hemachandra. In recent times, banks have taken steps to strengthen their defences against cyber-attacks, but the diverse and ingenious nature of recent attacks has necessitated an ongoing review of the cyber security landscape and emerging threats. In 2016, as many as 32.14 lakh debit cards were compromised in the cyber-attacks. It was the biggest-ever breach of debit card data in India. Of the debit cards affected, about 26.5 lakh were Visa and Master Card-enabled and 6 lakh were RuPay enabled. To tackle the threat, RBI had issued swift guidelines to banks, mandating cyber security preparedness for addressing cyber risks.  

    33-members committee constituted for speedy completion of Andhra Pradesh’s Sagarmala Project

    A committee comprising 33 members has been constituted for the speedy completion of the Sagarmala Project in Andhra Pradesh. The project aims to improve the state’s coastline and inland waterways. The committee will be chaired by the state’s Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu. The committee will be responsible for overseeing the entire project. It will bring together all the concerned departments and review their work on a daily basis, in order to ensure timely completion of the project.  The committee’s first meeting took place on 8 February 2017 under the leadership of Naidu. Highlights  : At the meeting, Naidu emphasised on the many opportunities that Andhra Pradesh has, as a state with the 2nd largest coastline, to develop a coast-led industrial economy. Naidu further emphasised the importance of the development of inland waterways. He also highlighted the importance of sourcing raw material at a reasonable rate, stating that it is the key for development. He also stressed on the need for an action plan and requested all the officials concerned to create one for their respective projects.   To enable the smooth working of the same, a nodal officer will be appointed from every department who would represent the department. He also asked the members to identify ports as clusters and stated that the Krishnapatanam port will soon be turned into a national employment zone. Besides this, Naidu has called for interlinking of ports, highways and corridors to give more momentum to industrial development. He also stated that Andhra Pradesh has a sent a proposal to the centre for building 90 projects, worth Rs 130762 Cr and has ordered for the creation of an implementable action plan for all the projects. Lastly, Naidu added that he will be reviewing the progress of the project once in two months.

    Ministry of AYUSH constitutes a 16-member committee to prepare a Yoga Protocol for Diabetes Control

    The Ministry of AYUSH has constituted a 16-member committee under the chairmanship of Dr. H.R. Nagendra, Chancellor, S-Vyasa University, to prepare a Yoga Protocol for Diabetes Control. The Ayush Minister Shri ShripadYesso Naik said that regular yoga practice can help reduce the level of sugar in the blood, along with lowering blood pressure, keeping a weight check, reducing the symptoms and slowing the rate of progression of diabetes, as well as lessening the severity of further complications. Besides, this the Ministry has also launched a programme to integrate Ayurveda, Homoeopathy and Unani with National Programme for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases and Stroke (NPCDCS). Apart from this, Central Council for Research in Yoga and Naturopathy (CCRYN) has opened 8 OPDs in various Govt. Hospitals to integrate Yoga & Naturopathy to cure diabetes.

    Centre forms six-member committee to Look into Haj Subsidy issue

    A six-member committee has been formed by the government to look into the matter of how to improve the Haj Poilcy of India and also deal with the issue of reducing and abolishing the subsidy to the pilgrims. Former Consulate General of India (CGI), Jeddah, Afzal Amanullah will be the head of the committee. Besides, Ministry Joint Secretary J Alam will serve as member secretary. Other in the committee includes, Bombay High Court judge (retd) SS Parkar, ex-Haj Committee of India chairman Qaiser Shamim, former Air India CMD Michael Mascarenhas , Muslim scholar-chartered accountant Kamal Faruqui. In 2012, the Supreme Court had the Union government to gradually reduce and abolish Haj subsidy by 2022. The apex court directed the government to invest the subsidy amount of approximately Rs 650 crore a year on educational and social development of the community. The committee will review the effectiveness of the management of pilgrims’ accommodation and air travel by the Haj Committee of India. Besides, the committee will figure out whether the pilgrims can travel to Saudi Arabia paying less in the absence of the subsidy.  

    SC appoints Committee of Administrators headed by Vinod Rai to run BCCI

    The Supreme Court has appointed former Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) Vinod Rai as head of four-member Committee of Administrators to run Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).  Other three members of the committee are noted historian Ramachandra Guha, Indian women’s team captain Diana Edulji and managing director of IDFC Limited Vikram Limaye. Committee of Administrators’ first task will be to find out how much the BCCI has complied with the recommendations made by the Justice R.M. Lodha Committee.  Named Amitabh Chaudhary, Anirudh Chaudhary of BCCI and Vikram Limaye as representative of BCCI at the ICC meeting to be held in the first week of February, 2017.  Declined Centre’s request to appoint Secretary of Sports Ministry as the member of the committee. It referred to its earlier judgement debarring Ministers and Government servants from holding office in BCCI.  Dismissed the names to be appointed as BCCI administrators, submitted in a sealed envelope, while asserting that any individual over the age of 70 will not be appointed as BCCI administrators.   

    Sports Ministry reconstitutes committee to identify athletes under TOP Scheme

    The Union Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports has reconstituted TOP committee with objective of identifying and supporting potential medal prospects for 2020 and 2024 Olympic Games under Target Olympic Podium (TOP) scheme.  The committee will be headed by Abhinav Bindra, Olympic Gold Medalist. Its members are Anil Khanna, Prakash Padukone, Karnam Malleshwari, P. T. Usha, Murlidhar Raja, Anjali Bhagwat, Rekha Yadav, Dr. S.S. Roy and Inder Dhamija. The committee will select elite athletes to provided financial assistance for their customized training at Institutes having world class facilities and other necessary support. It will decide on its own procedures and will be competent to invite subject experts as and when required. It will have initial tenure of one year. TOP (Target Olympic Podium) Scheme  : The TOP Scheme was formulated by the Union Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports within the overall ambit of National Sports Development Fund (NSDF).  Its objective is to identify and support potential medal prospects for 2016 and 2020 Olympic Games. Under the scheme the selected athletes are provided financial assistance for their customized training at Institutes.  These sports institutes will have world class facilities and other necessary support to improve performance and higher position in medals tally for the country. Under it benchmark for selection of athletes is in relation to international standards.  

    Committee constituted to set rules for implementation of Disabilities Act, 2016

    The Union Government has constituted committee (Working Group) to frame uniform rules for the states to avoid delay in proper implementation of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 across the country.  The Committee will be headed by Secretary from Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD). It will submit its report within three months.  It will comprise of representatives from the Union Ministry of Health, DoPT, Labour, Legislative Department and representatives from NGOs as members. It will also have Principal Secretary/Secretary, Social Welfare Department from Karnataka, Gujarat, Odisha, Assam, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. Suggest model draft rules for the states in order to have a uniform rules across the country and also to avoid delay in finalization of rules by any state. The Act was notified in December 2016, after it received assent of President. It comprehensively covers a whole spectrum of problems from physical disabilities to mental illness and multiple disabilities under it. It raises number of disabilities from 7 to 21.  It also raises reservation in government jobs for persons with benchmark disabilities from present 3% to 4% and in higher education from 3% to 5% per cent.  It includes mental illness, autism, spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, chronic neurological conditions, specific learning disabilities, speech and language disability, sickle cell disease, deaf ,blindness, acid attack and Parkinsons disease under the definition of disability. The Act aims to bring Indian laws in line with the United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities, to which India became a signatory in 2007.  Once it comes into effect, every child with benchmark disability between the age group of 6 and 18 years will have the right to free education.  

    Government Constitutes Negotiation Committee on Mahanadi & its Tributaries

    The Union Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation led by Uma Bharti has formed a Negotiations Committee on January 19, 2017 to determine the availability and utilization of waters of the river Mahanadi and its tributaries. The committee has been asked to submit its report within three months. The committee would be consisting of 11 members under the chairmanship of a representative from Water Planning and Projects Wing (WP&P) and Central Water Commission (CWC).  Besides the other member would comprise of member from the States of Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Jharkhand, Union Ministries of Agriculture, Environment Forest and Climate Change, Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, India Meteorological Department and Central Water Commission. The committee will also be responsible to examine the existing water sharing agreements on river Mahanadi and consider the claims of Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Jharkhand regarding availability and utilization of waters of these rivers. The decision regarding the constitution of the committee comes after the complaint of State of Odisha under section 3 of the Inter-state River Water Disputes (ISRWD) Act, 1956 regarding utilisation of waters of Mahandi Basin.

    Timothy Gonsalves committee recommends reservation for girl students in IITs

    The sub-committee under chairmanship of professor Timothy Gonsalves has recommended reservation for girl students in IITs to address the issue of slump in number of female students entering the prestigious institutes.  The recommendation of the committee will be taken up in the meeting of the Joint Admission Board (JAB) for a final decision, which will decide whether the reservation will come in effect from 2017 or from 2018. The committee has suggested creating up to 20% supernumerary seats for girls out of the total number of seats. But only candidates who have already qualified in JEE-Advanced will be considered.  The reservation for girl students will not affect the number of seats for male candidates. It will help IITs achieve the one lakh target by 2020. In 2016, there was a 2% dip in the number of girls who cleared the JEE-Advanced, as compared to the previous one.  Over 1,000 girls had cracked the examination (roughly 10% of total 10,000 seats) in 2015, only 840 female students (coming up to 8%) made it to institutes in 2016-17. None of the selected girls made it to top 100.

    PR Sreejesh becomes member of FIH Athletes' Committee

    The Indian men’s hockey team captain PR Sreejesh on 11 January 2017 became a member of International Hockey Federation (FIH) Athletes’ Committee. The nomination of Indian men's hockey team captain to the FIH Athletes' Committee was confirmed by the FIH Executive Board. The FIH Athletes' Committee consists of a total of eight current and former hockey players. They have the responsibility to act as a liaison between the FIH and the athletes. They also make sure that the athletes have voice in the federation's decision making process. In addition, the team will also develop, collate, provide and promote resources for athletes on topics of direct concern including athlete health and welfare, anti-doping, betting, match-fixing, career preparation and management. PR Sreejesh :  Parattu Raveendran Sreejesh is plays as a goalkeeper in the Indian national team. He is also the current captain of the team.He plays for Uttar Pradesh Wizards in the Hockey India League. He made into the Junior National Team in 2004 in a match against Australia in Perth. He made his debut in the Senior National Team in 2006 at the South Asian Games in Colombo.He was a part of the team that won silver medals at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. He was handed over the responsibilities of the captain of Indian hockey team On 13 July 2016.He captained the team that won the silver medal at the 2016 Men's Hockey Champions Trophy.  International Hockey Federation : The International Hockey Federation is the international governing body of field hockey and indoor field hockey. It also looks over field hockey's major international tournaments, notably the World Cup. It is headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland. Its current President is Narinder Batra.

    Sports ministry constitutes committee to suggest improvements to Sports Code

    The Minister of State (I/C) for Youth Affairs and Sports Mr Vijay Goel constituted  a committee for the improvement in National Sports Development Code after the recent controversial appointments of Suresh Kalmadi and Abhay Chautala as life presidents of Indian Olympic Association. The decision comes after the recent controversial appointments of Suresh Kalmadi and Abhay Chautala as life presidents of Indian Olympic Association. The move aims to avoid any further disturbances caused by the decisions of any sports council and maintain good governance, transparency and cleanliness in sports. The committee, which will be chaired by Sports Secretary, Injeti Srinivas, will submit its report within one month on the basis of suggestions and feedback given in these meetings so that sports bodies act according to the public expectations for the promotion of sports in the country.

    Committee to review institutionalisation of Arbitration Mechanism in India constituted

    Union Government has constituted a High-Level Committee (HLC) to review institutionalisation of Arbitration Mechanism in India. The committee constituted in the Ministry of Law and Justice will be chaired by Justice BN Srikrishna, Retired Judge of Supreme Court. In addition to this, Secretary, Department of Legal Affairs will be the member secretary of the committee. The Committee will have to submit its report within a period of 90-days. Review and analyse the effectiveness of existing arbitration mechanism. Review the resources, facilities, funding and manpower of existing ADR institutions. Review working of the institutions that is funded by the Union Government for arbitration purposes.It will also assess the skill gaps in ADR and allied institution for both international and national arbitration. It will evaluate information outreach and efficacy of the legal framework for arbitration that exists at present. Based on the abovementioned, the committee will also : Suggest measures for the institutionalisation of arbitration mechanism, national and international, in India so as to make the country a hub of international commercial arbitration. To encourage International Commercial Arbitration (ICA), it will identify the required amendments in other laws that are needed. c) It will also formulate an action plan for implementation of the law to ensure speedier arbitrations. It will also recommend revision of institutional rules and regulations and their funding support. Advice on empanelment of international and national arbitrators for time bound arbitral proceedings will be given by the committee. It will also suggest a road map for strengthening of R&D (research and development) that impacts the domain. It will enlist the steps that are required for augmenting skill sets and professional manpower buildup for the sector.It will also recommend measures that are required to make arbitration widely available in curricula and study materials. It will have a focus on the role of arbitrations in matters that involve the Union of India like bilateral investment treaties (BIT) arbitrations and make recommendations where necessary. It will evolve an effective arbitration ecosystem that would expedite resolution of international and domestic commercial disputes. Other members of the committee include  Justice RV Raveendran, Retired Judge, Supreme Court Justice S Ravindra Bhat, Judge, Delhi High Court KK Venugopal, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court PS Narasimha, Addl Solicitor General of India Indu Malhotra, Senior Counsel, Supreme Court Araghya Sengupta, Director, Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy Representative of Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) Representative of Confederation of Indian Industry (CII)

    Ratan P Watal Committee on Digital Payments submitted report to Government

    The Committee on Digital Payments headed by Ratan P Watal in December 2016 submitted its report to the Union Ministry of Finance.The committee was formed by the Union Government to suggest measures for increasing digital financial transactions across the country. Accordingly, it has suggested the following recommendations in its report. Make regulation of payments independent from the purview of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). Update the current Payments and Settlement Systems Act, 2007. Promote digital payments and receipts within Government. Create a fund proposed as DIPAYAN from savings generated from cash-less transactions. Create a ranking and reward framework to encourage and recognise government agencies who lead the efforts on enabling digital payments. Consider outsourcing the operations of payment systems like Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) and National Electronic Fund Transfer (NEFT). Upgrade payment systems like RTGS and NEFT to operate on a 24x7 basis in the due course of time. Allow non-bank payment service providers (PSPs) to directly access payment systems. National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) should be made payments centric in its ownership and objectives. Enable payments to be inter-operable between bank and non-banks as well as within non-banks. Create a formal mechanism to enable innovations and new business models.Implement other measures to promote digital payments. In addition to the above recommendations, the committee also suggested other measures to promote digital payments including Promoting Aadhaar based eKYC and paperless authentication Providing disincentives for usage of cash . Creating awareness and transparency on cost of cash

    Union Government reconstitutes committee helping Krishna River Board

    The Union Water Resources Ministry has reconstituted a committee that was tasked with assisting the Krishna River Management Board (KRMB).  The new committee will be headed by A.K. Bajaj, former chairman of the Central Water Commission (CWC). Besides, Gopala Krishnan, R.P. Pandey, Pradeep Kumar Shukla and N.N. Rai will be its members. Assist KRMB to prepare a manual on how projects, common to Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, ought to be handled. Decide how the Godavari waters ought to be transferred to the Krishna Basin in accordance with the Godavari Water Disputes Tribunal Award. The committee was reconstituted based on the demand of Telangana government after it had opposed the earlier Mohile committee’s recommendation considering it as one-sided and biased against Telangana.  The earlier committee was constituted in September 2016 to suggest a mechanism for facilitating the effective functioning of the KRMB as per the provisions of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014.

    Parliamentary committee report highlights alarming rise in forest fires

    According to report submitted by Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology, there is alarming rise in forest fires across India. It says that the number of forest fires have touched 24,817 in 2016 from 15,937 fires in 2015. It shows alarming rise 55% in the past year. The report primarily focuses on the prevention and containing of fires in the Himalayan forests spread across Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Jammu and Kashmir. There increase in forest fires is seen even though 2015 was considered a drought year. But there is decline in frequency of forest fires by around 16%. The three central States of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha contribute a third of the forest fires. Madhya Pradesh has seen a nearly ten-fold increase in forest fires, from just 294 in 2015 to more than 2,600 in 2016. In Himachal and Uttarakhand, over 17,502 acres have been ravaged in 2016 due to forest fires, a rise of over 171%. Large number of posts of front line forest staff were lying vacant, while fire-fighting equipment is rudimentary in many cases. National policy on managing forest fires must be framed. Replacing pine reserve forests areas with “broad-leaf” plants. Procurement of sweeping machines to clear roadsides of Chir pine needles. Advocating large-scale incentives and programmes (including under MNREGA) to collect pines for use as fuel, and other incineration. The committee was formed after a series of devastating forest fires earlier in the year 2016 including the prolonged one that had charred 4,000 hectares of forest land across 13 districts of Uttarakhand in May 2016. The committee was headed by Rajya Sabha MP Renuka Choudhary.

    Recommendations of Ratan Watal Committee for Digital Payments

    The Committee on Digital Payments headed by Ratan P. Watal has submitted its final report to the Union Finance Ministry. It was 11-member committee notified in August 2016 by the Finance Ministry.  It was tasked to review existing payment systems in the country and recommend appropriate measures for encouraging Digital Payments. It was having representatives from Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), tax department and various industry bodies in the payments space. The Committee has recommended medium term strategy for accelerating growth of Digital Payments in India. The strategy must be backed with regulatory regime which is conducive to bridging the Digital divide by promoting competition, interoperability and open access in payments.  It also recommends inclusion of financially and socially excluded groups and assimilation of emerging technologies in the market. It calls for need of safeguarding security of Digital Transactions and providing level playing to all stakeholders and new players who will enter this new transaction space.  It has suggested inter-operability of payments system between banks and non-banks, up-gradation of digital payment infrastructure and institutions. It also recommends a framework to reward innovations for leading efforts in enabling digital payments.

    Parliamentary Standing Committee seeks transparency in appointment of judges

    The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Justice, has called for transparency in the appointments process on the part of the judiciary and the government.  The committee was headed by Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Rajya Sabha), Anand Sharma. It has examined delay in filling vacancies in Supreme Court and High Courts.  It has tabled its report in the Rajya Sabha and now it is under the purview of the Union Law Ministry. Recommendations Need of transparency in the appointments process on the part of the judiciary and the government, while ensuring the independence of the judiciary.  Raising of the retirement age of Supreme Court judges to 67 from 65 and that of High Court judges to 65 from 62. Consideration of a fixed tenure for Chief Justices. The recommendations of the committee are only advisory in nature and are not binding.

    MCC Committee recommends limiting bat size edges and red card suspension

    The Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) Committee has recommended limiting bat size edges and depths along with many other suggestions. The recommendations were made by the MCC’s World Cricket Committee, headed by former England captain Mike Brearley, to bring about a balance between bat and ball. The suggestions were made during a two-day meeting of the committee in Mumbai, which hosts the fourth Test between India and England from 8 December 2016. The recommendations will be sent to the main MCC Committee. If approved, these changes will be implemented into the new code of the Laws of Cricket, which will be introduced on 1 October 2017. The committee has come up with a radical proposal of introducing a football-hockey-like red card as punishment for violent acts on the cricket field. It deliberated on the ball-tampering laws, which it felt will remain unaltered. The committee was split vertically on the possibility of reducing Test cricket from a five-day affair to a four-day one. It urged the International Cricket Council (ICC) to continue to work towards introducing a World Test Championship and presenting the case for cricket at the Olympic Games and changing the law on ball striking a fielder’s helmet. It was announced that 60% of the world’s professional players supported the decision to limit the bat size to 40 mm on edges and 67 mm for depths, including 7 mm for curvature. Also, umpires will be given the power to expel cricketers from a game for serious disciplinary breaches. The player can be ejected for threatening an umpire, physically assaulting another player, official or spectator or for any other act of violence on the field of play. Marylebone Cricket Club : MCC is a cricket club based in London. It was founded in 1787. It was formerly the governing body of cricket both in England and Wales as well as worldwide. In 1788, it revised the Laws of Cricket and continues to reissue them, and remains the copyright holder. In 1993, many of its global functions were transferred to the International Cricket Council.

    Union Government forms Chandrababu Naidu Committee to promote digital economy

    NITI Aayog, under the banner of the Union Government, on 30 November 2016 constituted a 13-member committee to promote cashless economy. The committee will be headed by Andhra Pradesh CM Chandrababu Naidu. The committee will be formed by Chief Ministers of various states representing different political parties to examine and promote the use of digital payment systems across the country.  Chandrababu Naidu (Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh)  : Convener Naveen Patnaik (Chief Minister of Odisha) : Member Shivraj Singh Chouhan (Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh)  : Member Pawan Kumar Chamling (Chief Minister of Sikkim)  : Member V. Narayanasamy (Chief Minister of Puducherry)  : Member Devendra Fadnavis (Chief Minister of Maharashtra)  : Member Arvind Panagariya (Vice- Chairman of NITI Aayog)  : Member Amitabh Kant (CEO of NITI Aayog)   : Member Secretary Nandan Nilekani (Former Chairman, UIDAI) : Special invitee Janmejaya Sinha (Chairman, Boston Consulting Group) : Special invitee Rajesh Jain (Managing Director, netCORE)  : Special invitee Sharad Sharma (Co-founder, iSPIRIT)  : Special invitee Jayant Varma (Professor (Finance) at IIM Ahmedabad) : Special invitee The Committee will identify the best global practices for implementing an economy primarily based on digital payment. It will identify and outline measures for rapid expansion and adoption of the system of digital payments like cards (Debit, Credit and pre-paid), Digital-wallets, internet banking, Unified Payments Interface (UPI), banking apps, etc. It will develop an action plan to reach out to the public at large with the objective to create awareness and help them understand the benefits of switching over to digital economy. It will prepare a roadmap for the administrative machineries in the States to facilitate adoption of digital modes of financial transactions.  It will identify and address problems and indicate solutions pertaining to adoption of the steps required to move towards a digital economy. It will associate with the key stakeholders for implementation of the suggested steps. It will examine and address any other associated issues which are not specifically mentioned and will devise its own procedures for conducting business, meetings or even constitution of sub-groups.

    Andhra Pradesh CM N Chandrababu Naidu to head CMs Committee on Demonetisation

    The Union Government has decided to constitute a sub-committee of Chief Ministers of five states in the wake of demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denomination notes.  The committee will be headed by Andhra Pradesh CM N Chandrababu Naidu.  It will  suggest measures to normalise the situation. Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has called up Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, Karnataka CM Siddharamaiah, Assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal and Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis to be part of the committee.  Since demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denomination notes was announced by the Union Government, Andhra Pradesh CM N Chandrababu Naidu government has been effectively tackling the cash crisis in the state.  He has come up with several alternatives to encourage mobile and online transactions besides distributing small change at vegetable markets as an immediate relief to the people. As a long-term measure, Andhra Pradesh government has roped over 90 lakh members from co-operative sector in villages and towns to undertake statewide campaigns on online transactions.   Under it, as many as 5,000 women are being trained as master trainers to train 90 lakh women. The state government is also designing a mechanism that makes ordinary phones do money transactions. The government will distribute such phones to families which do not have one.

    Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board sets up two advisory committees

    The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) has set up two high-level advisory committees to gather inputs from experts, including on service providers and corporate liquidation. IBBI has been set up under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 and is expected to soon operationalize. The two committees have begun their deliberations. The advisory committee on services: It will be headed by educationist Mohandas Pai. It includes National Stock Exchange Vice-Chairman Ravi Narain, SEBI Executive Director J Ranganayakulu, National Institute of Public Finance and Policy’s Professor Ajay N Shah and senior lawyer Amarjit Singh Chandiok. The advisory committee on corporate insolvency and liquidation: It will be headed by noted banker Uday Kotak. It includes Credit Information Bureau Chairman M V Nair, Corporate and Economic Research Group Advisory’s Chairperson Omkar Goswami and BSE CEO Ashishkumar Chauhan. IBBI  : IBBI seeks to consolidate and amend laws relating to reorganisation as well as insolvency resolution of corporate persons, partnership firms and individuals in a time-bound manner. It has been set up by the code to regulate professionals, information utilities (IUs) and agencies engaged in the resolution of insolvencies of companies. It has chairman and 10 members. Present chairman is M S Sahoo. There four government-nominated members.

    Union Government constitutes Amitabh Kant Committee to push cashless transactions

    The Union Government has constituted a new committee to form a strategy to expedite the process of transforming India into a cashless economy. The committee will be headed by Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant. It has been tasked with identifying various bottlenecks affecting access of digital payments. Identify and operationalise in the earliest possible time frame user-friendly digital payment options in all sectors of the economy. Identify various digital payment systems appropriate to different sectors of the economy and coordinate efforts to make them accessible.  Engage regularly with Central ministries, state governments, regulators, local bodies, district administration, trade and industry associations to promote adoption of digital payment systems. Estimate costs involved in various digital payments options and oversee implementation of measures to make such transactions between citizens and government cheaper than cash transactions. Implement an action plan on advocacy, awareness and hand-holding efforts among public-, micro-enterprises and other stakeholders. The committee was set up following a directive from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to back up the demonetisation move. The Union Government is working towards moving all government transactions to the cashless mode, through a new single window e-payment system that businesses or individuals can use to make payments to any central or state department.

    Union Government constitutes committee to assess the status of demonetisation drive

    The Union Finance Ministry has constituted a committee comprising Additional Secretaries, Joint Secretaries and Directors to know status of implementation of demonetisation drive. The committee was formed after the Union Government took decision to scrap 500 and 1000 rupees currency notes on 9th November 2016. Visit the States and union territories and submit its report by 25th November 2016. Each of the officers will visit different areas of the State and UTs separately with special focus on the rural areas. Submit a report on the general outlook and challenges arising out of implementation of the scheme.  Check currency availability across the States/UTs in the network of bank branches, ATMs and post offices. Check facilities at bank branches and post offices for deposit, withdrawal and exchange of currency. Check the impact of the demonetization on various segments including households, wage earners, agriculturists, traders, transportation, industries, informal sectors and small business.

    Union Government sets up inter ministerial committee to look into concerns of tourists, NRIs

    The Union Government has constituted the inter-ministerial committee to look into the areas of concern expressed by NRIs and tourists from abroad and foreign missions over demonetisation of 500 and 1000 rupees notes.This committee will be headed at the level of an additional secretary. A senior joint secretary from the Ministry of External Affairs is also a member of the committee. The committee was formed after people from foreign missions sought the intervention of Ministry of External Affairs to facilitate smooth collection of consular and visa fee. They have also asked for access to more funds and  money exchange associations.  The second set of issues was related to NRIs having cash, or those holding Indian currency abroad. The third set of issues was expressed by the money changer associations abroad. Their concern was- what they would do with the stacks they have. How will they convert those All these issues arose following the demonetisation policy, decision of PM Narendra Modi on 8 November 2016,  following which currency notes of 500 and 1000 rupees were banned and replaced with new currency notes.

    Union Cabinet approves constitution of Special committee for inter-linking of rivers

    The Union Cabinet has approved constitution of ‘special committee for inter-linking of rivers’ in compliance with a 2012 Supreme Court order. Decision in this regard was taken in the Union Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi. The constitution of committee will help in monitoring precious projects to be carried out under its National Perspective Plan, 1980. The special committee will submit status-cum-progress report bi-annually to Union Cabinet to facilitate faster and appropriate decisions in the interest of the country. The Supreme Court in its final judgement dated February 2012 had given go ahead for inter-linking river project, seeking to transfer water from surplus to water deficit areas in country. The apex court had called for formation of a committee to take firm steps and fix a definite time line to lay down the guidelines for completion of feasibility reports or other reports.  Besides, it had mandated the committee ensure the completion of projects so that the benefits accrue within reasonable time and cost. The project is in the pipeline since 1980. It has been touted by the Central Government as one solution to a number of problems. It includes making water available for irrigating land, enabling full use of existing irrigation projects; generating power, flood control etc.

    Special Task Force led by SS Mundra formed to recalibrate ATMs

    The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has formed Special Task Force to speed up the process of recalibration of automated teller machines (ATM) to dispense the new denomination notes. The Special Task Force will be headed by S.S Mundra, Deputy Governor, RBI. Representatives from the Union Finance and Home ministries, RBI, State Bank of India, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, Axis Bank and the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) will be its members. Besides, representative from each of ATM original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), cash in transit (CIT) companies and white label ATM (WLA) operators will be invited to the Task Force’s deliberation Expeditious reactivation of all ATMs in a planned manner. Draw up an action plan and ensure its implementation for quick recalibration of the ATMs to enable them to dispense the new Rs. 500 and Rs. 2,000 notes. After the Union Government had surprisely announced demonitization of old series Rs. 1,000 and Rs. 500 notes, there was issue of currency crunch across the nation. Following introduction of new series of Rs. 2,000 and Rs. 500 notes, it has become necessary to recalibrate all ATMs/cash handling machines to dispense the new design notes. However, the recalibration process will take up to 3 weeks for all the 2 lakh ATMs to operate normally.  

    Union Environment Ministry constitutes Four-Member team for Conservation of Loktak Lake

    The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has constituted a four-member team for conservation and management of Loktak Lake in Manipur.  The team will visit Loktak Lake and hold discussions with the State government, its concerned agencies and other stakeholders including people living in the vicinity of the lake. Review implementation of works undertaken with financial assistance provided by Union and State governments so far for the conservation and management of the lake. Suggest further interventions required for conserving the lake in a holistic manner.  Enumerate steps required to be initiated for declaring Loktak Lake as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Identify actions and steps to be taken for increasing tourism potential of Loktak Lake. Loktak Lake :  Loktak Lake is the largest freshwater lake in Northeast India and is famous for the phumdis floating over it. Phumdis are the heterogeneous mass of vegetation, soil and organic matter at various stages of decomposition. Keibul Lamjao National Park is also one of Phumdis in the lake. It is only floating national park in world and is last natural refuge of endangered Sangai deer. This ancient lake plays an important role in the economy of Manipur.  It serves as a source of water for irrigation, drinking water supply and hydropower generation. Considering the ecological status and its biodiversity values, Loktak lake was initially designated as a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention in 1990. Later it was also listed under the Montreux Record in 1993. Human activity has led to severe pressure on the lake ecosystem.

    BCCI president Anurag Thakur part of powerful ICC sub-committee

    Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president Anurag Thakur is now officially a part of the International Cricket Council's (ICC) powerful Finance and Commercial Affairs committee after completion of the global cricket body's board meeting in Cape Town. BCCI had raised objections about not having its representative in the F&CA committee and senior officials in the board termed it as a humiliation with Shashank Manohar being chairman of global body. The Board of Control for Cricket in India is the national governing body for cricket in India. The board was formed in December 1928 as a society, registered under the Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act.  

    Saraswati River existed: KS Valdiya committee

    The K.S. Valdiya committee in its report submitted to the Union Water Resources Ministry has concluded that Saraswati River so far considered mythical, existed. The committee comprising of geologists, archaeologists and hydrologists say that they have found evidence of the course of the river Saraswati. Earlier, River Saraswati was considered as a mythological river and has been mentioned in the ancient Hindu scriptures like the Rig Veda, Ramayana, Mahabharata and others giving credence that it existed during those times. Saraswati River originated in the Himalayas. It was approximately 4,000 km in length and flowed through India and Pakistan before meeting Arabian Sea through Rann of Kutch. Two-third stretch of river measuring nearly 3000 km in length fell in India and reaming one-third of the river stretch fell in present-day Pakistan. Eastern Branch : Palaeochannels (remnants of defunct rivers) Sarsuti-Markanda rivulets in Haryana were courses of  eastern branch of river, known as Tons-Yamuna. The confluence of the branches was near Shatrana, 25 km south of Patiala. From this confluence point river flow crossed dessert (Rann of Kutch) and meet gulf of western sea.

    Finance Ministry constitutes committee to consolidate regulation of pension products

    The Union Finance Ministry has constituted a high-level committee to consolidate the regulation of pension products that is currently being done by three different watchdogs including insurance and stock market regulators.  The committee would have representatives from all financial sector regulators SEBI, IRDA, RBI and PFRDA. Its mandate will be to look into the issue of bringing these companies which are offering pension plans under different regulators under the purview of PFRDA. The PFRDA Act says that PFRDA will be the pension regulator in the country. Currently, pension products floated by insurance companies and those sold by mutual funds are under purview of IRDA and SEBI respectively.  Thus, there are cases of overlapping functions performed by financial sector regulators SEBI, IRDA, RBI and PFRDA in case of floating different pension products. For instance PFRDA is regulating all pension products in the country. However, insurers and mutual funds continue to sell pension products outside PFRDA’s watch.  The PFRDA Act says that PFRDA will be the pension regulator in the country. Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA)  : PFRDA is a statuary pension regulatory authority established in 2003 under the PFRDA Act. It functions under the aegis of Union Ministry of Finance, Department of Financial Services.  PFRDA promotes old age income security by establishing, developing and regulating pension funds. It also protects interests of subscribers to schemes of pension funds and related matters. It is responsible for appointment of various intermediate agencies such as Central Record Keeping Agency (CRA), Custodian, Pension Fund Managers, NPS Trustee Bank, etc.

    CERC appointed committee suggests overhaul in transmission planning

    The Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) appointed committee has submitted its recommendations. It was headed by power system expert Mata Prasad. The committee has suggested an overhaul in transmission planning to facilitate transfer of power on economic principles. Transmission planning : It must be aligned to meet customer aspirations as opposed to existing system where transmission is associated with long-term power purchase agreements (PPAs). It can should be done basis of projected load of states and anticipated generation scenario based on economic principles of merit order operation. Renewable energy sources transmission system : To be planned by central transmission utility (CTU) based on estimated capacity additions in perspective plan and renewable purchase obligations of each state. Promote of power market : Transmission corridor allocation must be done suitably made. 5% of each flow gate may be reserved for day-ahead collective transactions. This flow gate may be released for contingency market in case of non-utilisation of corridor by power exchanges. The percentage of reservation may be reviewed after 1 year of operation. System studies : They must be carried out for various generation and load scenarios during peak and off-peak hours. It should also consider renewable capacity addition and scheduling of various generating stations that don’t have any PPAs. Creation of a central repository of generators : It should be created in the Central Electricity Authority of India (CEA).In this case any generation project developer proposing to set up a new generation plant must register itself. For accurate demand forecasting : Hand-holding of states by CEA and CTU for accurate demand forecasting. States must procure software for short-term, medium-term and long-term demand forecasting.  

    Centre constitutes high level technical team to assess ground situation at Cauvery basin

    The Centre has constituted a high-level technical team to visit the Cauvery basin area to assess the ground realities there. Central Water Commission Chairman GS Jha heads the team, constituted by the Ministry for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation. The team was set up in pursuance to the October 4 Supreme Court order asking the Cauvery Supervisory Committee to visit the river basin area in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu to assess the ground situation and report back to it by October 17.  The team members will converge at Bengaluru on October 7 for a preparatory meeting. It will submit its report to the Supreme Court on October 17.  The team will inspect Hemavathi, Harangi, Krishna Raj Sagar and Kabini reservoirs in Karnataka and is likely to inspect water stock at Mettur, Lower Bhavani Dam and Amaravati reservoirs in Tamil Nadu from October 6 to October 15.

    Union Government notifies constitution of Monetary Policy Committee

    The Union Government has notified the constitution of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) on 29 September 2016. The Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934 (RBI Act) has been amended by the Finance Act, 2016,  to provide for a statutory and institutionalised framework for a Monetary Policy Committee, for maintaining price stability. As per the provisions of the RBI Act, out of the six Members of Monetary Policy Committee, three Members will be from the RBI. The other three Members of MPC will be appointed by the Central Government. n exercise of the powers conferred by section 45ZB of the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934, the Union Government has accordingly constituted the Monetary Policy Committee of RBI, with the following composition: The Governor of the Bank: Chairperson, ex officio  Deputy Governor of the Bank, in charge of Monetary Policy: Member, ex officio One officer of the Bank to be nominated by the Central Board: Member, ex officio Chetan Ghate, Professor, Indian Statistical Institute (ISI): Member Pami Dua, Director, Delhi School of Economics (DSE): Member  Ravindra H. Dholakia, Professor, Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Ahmedabad: Member The Members of the Monetary Policy Committee appointed by the Union Government will hold office for a period of four years, with immediate effect or until further orders, whichever is earlier.  

    Cauvery Supervisory Committee directs Karnataka to release 3000 cusecs of water per day for 10 days

    The Cauvery Supervisory Committee headed by Shashi Shekhar directed Karnataka to release 3000 cusecs of water per day to Tamil Nadu on 19 September 2016. As per the committee’s direction, Karnataka will have to release 3000 cusecs water per day from 21 to 30 September 2016 to Tamil Nadu. The other members of the committee are Chief Secretaries of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Puducherry and Central Water Commission chairman. It will once again meet in October 2016. It seems that the decision of the committee will go in vain as no consensus was reached between the two states regarding the release of water. Karnataka had opposed the release of water due to ground reality and drinking water problems in the state. Earlier on 5 September 2016, the Supreme Court asked Karnataka and Tamil Nadu to approach the panel and till then asked Karnataka to release 15000 cusecs of water per day for 10 days to Tamil Nadu. Later on 12 September, it revised the limit to 12000 cusecs per day till 20 September 2016. The Karnataka government said that it will move Supreme Court to challenge the Cauvery Supervisory Committee's order asking the state to release 3000 cusecs of water per day for 10 days. It said that the state is not in a position to release Cauvery water due to shortage being faced by them.  

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