Daily Current Affairs

Prelims Prominence - December 18, 2017

State specific

Meghalaya

  • Meghalaya became first state in country to operationalize The Meghalaya Community Participation and Public Services Social Audit Act, 2017, a law that makes social audit of government programmes and schemes a part of government practice.
  • It was launched by Chief Minister Mukul Sangma at a national convention in Shillong.
  • Prior to enacting this law, social audits of government programmes were done at the initiative of civil society organisations.
  • These social audits had no social legal sanction. The first of its kind social audit law in country was passed by Meghalaya state assembly in April 2017 and was followed by pilot social audits for 26 schemes in 18 villages of northeastern state.
  • At present, it is applicable to 11 departments and 21 schemes in Meghalaya.
  • The law mandates appointment of social audit facilitators to conduct social audit directly with people.
  • The facilitator will present findings to Gram Sabha, who will add inputs and result will finally go to autonomous auditors.

Significance

  • The law makes social audits part of the system as earlier it was civil society initiative rather than government-mandated.
  • The social audit will make easier to correct course of scheme rolling along.
  • It will give people direct say in how money will be spent and fills information gap for officers as they are directly in touch with ground.

Infrastructure

Special Package for North East

  • The Union Cabinet approved new Central Sector Scheme of North East Special Infrastructure Development Scheme” (NESIDS) from 2017-18. It will be 100% funded by Central Government to ll up gaps in creation of infrastructure in specified sectors in North east till March, 2020.
  • The scheme will broadly cover creation of infrastructure under following sectors
  • Physical infrastructure relating to water supply, power, connectivity and specially the projects promoting tourism.
  • Infrastructure of social sectors of education and health. The assets to be created under NESIDS will not only strengthen education and health care facilities in northeast region but will also encourage tourism thereby employment opportunities for local youth. The scheme will act as catalyst in overall development of north east region in the years to come.

Non Lapsable Central Pool of Resources (NLCPR) Scheme :

  • The Union Cabinet also approved continuation of existing Non Lapsable Central Pool of Resources (NLCPR) scheme till March, 2020 with funding pattern of 90:10.
  • It will have outlay of Rs.5300.00 crore and will enable completion of ongoing projects.
  • Its broad objective is to ensure speedy development of infrastructure in the North Eastern Region and Sikkim by increasing ow of budgetary financing for specific viable infrastructure projects and schemes in the region.
  • The Ministry for Development of Northeastern Region (DoNER) allocates funds from NLCPR to various Northeast states for infrastructure projects.
  • The ministry allocates funds under two schemes viz. NLCPR (State) and NLCPR-Central for which annual budgetary allocations are provided in normal budgetary process.

Economy

MDR Charges on transactions :

  • The Union Cabinet has decided that Government will borne Merchant Discount Rate (MDR) charges on transactions up to Rs. 2,000 made through debit cards, BHIM UPI or Aadhaar-enabled payment systems (AePS) to promote digital transactions.
  • It will be for two years with effect from 1 January, 2018 by reimbursing the same to the banks.
  • A Committee will look into industry cost structure of such transactions which will form basis to determine levels of reimbursement.
  • It will comprise of Secretary Department of Financial Services, Secretary Ministry of Electronics & IT (MeITY) and CEO, National Payment Corporation of India (NPCI). The move will have an impact of Rs 2,512 crore (Rs.1,050 crore in FY 2018-19 and Rs.1,462 crore in FY 2019-20) on the exchequer.
  • As a result of this approval, consumer and merchant will not suffer any additional burden in form of MDR thereby leading to greater adoption of digital payment modes for such transactions.
  • It will help to move towards less cash economy, since such transactions account for sizeable percentage of transaction volume.

CL enlightens about MDR

  • MDR is charge or fee imposed on merchant by bank for accepting payment from their customers in credit and debit cards every time card is used for payments (like swiping) in their stores.
  • MDR charges are usually shared in pre-agreed proportion between them and are expressed in percentage of transaction amount.
  • MDR compensates bank issuing card, bank which puts up swiping machine (Point-of-Sale or PoS terminal) and network providers such as Mastercard or Visa for their services.
  • In India, the RBI species maximum MDR charges that can be levied on every card transaction. According to recent RBI notification, from January 1 2018, small merchants (turnover upto Rs.20 lakh) will pay a maximum MDR of 0.40% of bill value and larger merchants (turnover greater than Rs.20 lakh) will shell out 0.90%.
  • RBI has also set monetary cap at Rs.200 per bill for small merchants and Rs.1,000 for large ones. As per RBI rules, merchant has to pay MDR out of his own pocket and cannot pass it on to the customer.

International Relations

UNESCO

Establishment of ITCOO in Hyderabad :

  • The Union Cabinet approved the establishment of International Training Centre for Operational Oceanography (ITCOO), as a Category-2 Centre (C2C) of UNESCO, in Hyderabad, Telangana.
  • The purpose of this agreement is to establish training centre towards development of capacity for countries on Indian Ocean Rim (IOR), African countries bordering Indian and Atlantic Oceans, small island countries under framework of UNESCO.

CL enlightens :

  • What is Operational Oceanography?
  • It is an activity of conducting systematic oceanographic studies towards providing information services to various sectors viz. sherman, shipping, ports, disaster management, environment, coastal states, navy, coast guard, offshore industries for conducting their day-to- day operations.
  • The Centre will provide assistance in areas of capacity building and training, knowledge sharing and exchange of information, and hence could represent valuable resource for UNESCO and its Intergovernmental Oceanography Commission (IOC) by enhancing impact and visibility of UNESCO’s action.

Importance

  • The centre will provide opportunity for India to emerge as leading country in Indian Ocean.
  • It will forge cooperation and improve engagement between India and counties of IOR, including South Asian and African states bordering Indian Ocean.

Environment

Say No to Plastics

  • The National Green Tribunal (NGT) imposed complete blanket ban on use, sale, purchase and storage of plastic items such as carry bags, plates and spoons in towns of Haridwar and Rishikesh till upper areas of Uttarkashi along the Ganga River in Uttarakhand.
  • The move was taken to tackle and prevent pollution of the Ganga.
  • The green panel order comes while it was hearing a plea of environmentalist MC Mehta.
  • The NGT also imposed Rs 5,000 ne on those violating order and also held that action will be taken against erring ocials too. It passed the direction after noting that despite its earlier order, plastic was being used in these areas causing pollution to the hoy river.

CL enlightens

  • What Is NGT ?
  • National Green Tribunal (NGT) NGT was established in 2010 under National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources.
  • It specializes in adjudicating on matters relating to environment, forests and harm to people or property due to neglect of environmental obligations of infrastructure projects.

Cabinet Decisions

National AYUSH Mission (NAM)

  • The Union Cabinet has given its approval for continuation of centrally sponsored scheme of National AYUSH Mission (NAM) from April 2017 to March 2020

Enlighten about National AYUSH Mission (NAM)

  • The NAM was launched in September 2014.
  • It is being implemented by Ministry of AYUSH with the objective of providing cost-effective universal access to AYUSH Services.
  • It aims to address gaps in health services through supporting efforts of Bills and Acts for providing AYUSH health services and education in country, particularly in vulnerable and far-flung areas.
  • The NAM intends to build on India’s unmatched heritage represented by its ancient systems of medicine like Ayurveda, Yunani, Sidhha, Unani and Homeopathy (AYUSH), which are treasure house of knowledge for preventive and promotive health care.

Benefits / outcomes of this approval -

  • Better access to AYUSH healthcare services through increased number of healthcare facilities offering them and better availability of medicines and trained manpower.
  • Improvement in AYUSH education through well-equipped enhanced number of AYUSH Educational institutions.
  • Improved availability of quality AYUSH drugs by increased number of quality pharmacies and Drug Testing Laboratories coupled with stringent enforcement mechanism.
  • Increased awareness and acceptance of Yoga and Naturopathy as promotive and preventive health-care systems. Meet increasing domestic demand for herbal raw-materials and also to promote export