1. Sixth Schedule (Prelims, GS II-Polity & Governance)
Why in News?
Ø Recently, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA)informed the Lok Sabha that presently, there is no proposal to implement Panchayati Raj System in Sixth Schedule areas of Assam.
More about News
Ø In January 2019, the Constitution (125thAmendment) Bill, 2019 was introduced in the Rajya Sabha to amend the provisions related to the Finance Commission and the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.
Ø The Sixth Schedule relates to the administration of tribal areas in the states of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram.
Ø The Sixth Schedule was originally intended for the predominantly tribal areas (tribal population over 90%) of undivided Assam, which was categorised as “excluded areas” under the Government of India Act, 1935 and was under the direct control of the Governor.
Ø It provides for the administration of tribal areas in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram to safeguard the rights of the tribal population in these states.
Ø This special provision is provided under Article 244 (2) and Article 275 (1) of the Constitution.
Ø It provides for autonomy in the administration of these areas through Autonomous District Councils (ADCs).
Ø ADCs are empowered to make laws in respect of areas under their jurisdiction, which cover the land, forest, cultivation, inheritance, indigenous customs and traditions of tribals, etc. and also to collect land revenues and certain other taxes.
Ø ADCs are like miniature states having specific powers and responsibilities in respect of all the three arms of governance: Legislature, executive and judiciary.
Ø The Governor is empowered to organise and re-organise the autonomous districts.
Ø Thus, he can increase or decrease their areas or change their names or define their boundaries and so on.
Ø If there are different tribes in an autonomous district, the governor can divide the district into several autonomous regions.
Ø Each autonomous district has a district council consisting of 30 members, of whom four are nominated by the governor and the remaining 26 are elected on the basis of adult franchise and they hold office for five years.
Ø Each autonomous region also has a separate regional council.
Ø The district and regional councils administer the areas under their jurisdiction.
Ø The district and regional councils within their territorial jurisdictions can constitute village councils or courts for trial of suits and cases between the tribes. They hear appeals from them.
Ø The jurisdiction of the high court over these suits and cases is specified by the Governor.
2. Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Bill, 2021 (Prelims, GS II-Governance)
Why in News?
Ø Recently, the Lok Sabha passed the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Bill, 2021 that seeks to strengthen and streamline the provisions for protection and adoption of children.
Ø The Bill amends the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 and contains provisions related to children in conflict with law and children in need of care and protection.
Key Amendments Proposed by the Bill
Ø Serious offences will also include offences for which maximum punishment is imprisonment of more than seven years, and minimum punishment is not prescribed or is of less than seven years.
Ø Serious offences are those for which the punishment under the Indian Penal Code or any other law for the time being is imprisonment between three and seven years.
Ø Juvenile Justice Board inquiries about a child who is accused of a serious offence.
Ø The present Act provides that an offence which is punishable with imprisonment between three to seven years to be cognizable (where arrest is allowed without warrant) and non-bailable.
Ø The Bill amends this to provide that such offences will be non-cognizable.
Ø Presently, the adoption order issued by the court establishes that the child belongs to the adoptive parents. The Bill provides that instead of the court, the District Magistrate (including Additional District Magistrate) will issue such adoption orders.
Ø The Bill provides that any person aggrieved by an adoption order passed by the District Magistrate may file an appeal before the Divisional Commissioner, within 30 days from the date of passage of such order.
Ø Such appeals should be disposed within four weeks from the date of filing of the appeal.
Additional Functions of the District Magistrate
Ø These include: (i) supervising the District Child Protection Unit, and (ii) conducting a quarterly review of the functioning of the Child Welfare Committee.
Ø The Bill proposes that all offences under the earlier Act be tried in children’s court.
Child Welfare Committees (CWCs)
Ø It provides that a person will not eligible to be a member of the CWC if he/she-
o has any record of violation of human rights or child rights,
o has been convicted of an offence involving moral turpitude,
o has been removed or dismissed from service of the central government, or any state government, or a government undertaking,
o is part of the management of a child care institution in a district.
Removal of Members
Ø The appointment of any member of the committee shall be terminated by the state government after an inquiry if they fail to attend the proceedings of the CWCs consecutively for three months without any valid reason or if they fail to attend less than three-fourths of the sittings in a year.
3. National Commission for Allied and Healthcare Professions Bill, 2020 (Prelims, GS III-HealthCare)
Why in News?
Ø Recently, the National Commission for Allied and Healthcare Professions Bill, 2020 was passed unanimously by the Lok Sabha.
Ø The Bill seeks to regulate and standardise the education and practice of allied and healthcare professionals.
Ø The group of allied professionals is large and the Bill is trying to regulate this field by providing dignity to their roles.
Allied Health Professional
Ø The Bill defines an ‘allied health professional’ as an associate, technician, or technologist trained to support the diagnosis and treatment of any illness, disease, injury, or impairment.
Ø Such a professional should have obtained a diploma or degree.
Ø A ‘healthcare professional’ includes a scientist, therapist, or any other professional who studies, advises, researches, supervises, or provides preventive, curative, rehabilitative, therapeutic, or promotional health services.
Ø Such a professional should have obtained a degree.
Allied and Healthcare Professions
Ø The Bill specifies certain categories of allied and healthcare professions as recognised categories.
Ø These are mentioned in the Schedule to the Bill and include life science professionals, trauma and burn care professionals, surgical and anaesthesia related technology professionals, physiotherapists, and nutrition science professionals.
Ø The central government may amend this Schedule after consultation with the National Commission for Allied and Healthcare Profession.
National Commission for Allied and Healthcare Professions
Ø The Bill sets up the National Commission for Allied and Healthcare Professions.
Ø It will consist of a Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson, five members representing various Departments/Ministries of the central government, one representative from the Directorate General of Health Services, three Deputy Directors or Medical Superintendents appointed on a rotational basis from amongst medical institutions and 12 part-time members representing State Councils, among others.
Ø The Commission will perform the following functions with regard to Allied and Healthcare Professionals-
Ø Creating and maintaining an online Central Register of all registered professionals.
Ø Providing basic standards of education, courses, curriculum, staff qualifications, examination, training, maximum fee payable for various categories.
Ø The Commission will constitute a Professional Council for every recognised category of allied and healthcare professions.
Ø The Professional Council will consist of a president and four to 24 members, representing each profession in the recognised category.
Ø The Commission may delegate any of its functions to this Council.
Ø Within six months from the passage of the Bill, state governments will constitute State Allied and Healthcare Councils.
Ø It will complement the functioning of the National Commission and maintain a State Register.
4. LokPal & Lokayukta (Prelims, GS II-Polity & Governance)
Why in News?
Ø Recently, the Lokpal of India organized a Webinar on 'Bringing Synergies in Anti-Corruption Strategies’.
Impact of Corruption
Ø The political costs of corruption are manifested in weakened public trust in political institutions, reduced political participation, perversion of the electoral process, restricted political choices available to citizens and loss of legitimacy of the democratic system.
Ø Corruption reduces economic efficiency by misallocation of resources in favour of rent seeking activities, increasing the cost of public transactions, acting as an additional tax on business thereby reducing investment, reducing genuine business competition.
Ø Corruption distorts the value systems and wrongly attaches elevated status to occupations that have rent seeking opportunities. This results in a disillusioned public, a weak civil society, which attracts unscrupulous leaders to political life.
Ø Environmentally devastating projects are given preference in funding, because they are easy targets for siphoning off public money into private pockets.
Issues of national security
Ø Corruption within security agencies can lead to a threat to national security, including through distortion of procurement, recruitment of ineligible persons, providing an easy route for smuggling of weapons and terrorist elements into the country and money laundering.
Legal Framework for Fighting Corruption
Ø Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 provides for penalties in relation to corruption by public servants and also for those who are involved in the abetment of an act of corruption.
Ø The Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 aims to prevent instances of money laundering and prohibits use of the 'proceeds of crime' in India.
Ø The Companies Act, 2013 provides for corporate governance and prevention of corruption and fraud in the corporate sector. The term 'fraud' has been given a broad definition and is a criminal offence under the Companies Act.
Ø The Indian Penal Code, 1860 sets out provisions which can be interpreted to cover bribery and fraud matters, including offences relating to criminal breach of trust and cheating.
Ø The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 regulates the acceptance and use of foreign contributions and hospitality by individuals and corporations.
Lokpal and Lokayukta
Ø The Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013 provided for the establishment of Lokpal for the Union and Lokayukta for States.
Ø The Bill was passed in 2013 in both the Houses of Parliament and came into force on 16th January 2014.
Ø These institutions are statutory bodies without any constitutional status.
Ø They perform the function of an "ombudsman” and inquire into allegations of corruption against certain public functionaries and for related matters.
Ø The term Lokpal and Lokayukta were coined by Dr L. M. Singhvi.
Ø Lokpal is a multi-member body, that consists of one chairperson and a maximum of 8 members.
Ø Out of the maximum eight members, half to be judicial members and minimum 50% of the Members will be from SC/ ST/ OBC/ Minorities and women.
Ø The Chairperson of the Lokpal should be either the former Chief Justice of India or the former Judge of Supreme Court or an eminent person with impeccable integrity and outstanding ability.
Ø The term of office for Lokpal Chairman and Members is 5 years or till the age of 70 years.
Ø Jurisdiction of Lokpal includes Prime Minister, Ministers, members of Parliament, Groups A, B, C and D officers and officials of Central Government.
Ø However, the jurisdiction of the Lokpal included the Prime Minister except on allegations of corruption relating to international relations, security, the public order, atomic energy and space.
Ø The Lokpal does not have jurisdiction over Ministers and MPs in the matter of anything said in Parliament or a vote given there.
5. Suez Canal (Prelims)
Why in News?
Ø A large cargo ship named 'Ever Given' got stuck near the southern end of the Suez Canal due to a mishap caused by bad weather.
Ø This is causing a huge jam of vessels at either end of the vital international trade artery.
Ø The Suez Canal is an artificial sea-level waterway running north to south across the Isthmus of Suez in Egypt, to connect the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea.
Ø The canal separates the African continent from Asia.
Ø It provides the shortest maritime route between Europe and the lands lying around the Indian and western Pacific oceans.
Ø It is one of the world’s most heavily used shipping lanes, carrying over 12% of world trade by volume.
Ø It provides a crucial link for oil, natural gas and cargo being shipped from East to West.
Ø As per Suez Canal Authority (SCA) data, in 2020, nearly 19,000 ships, or an average of 51.5 ships per day, with a net tonnage of 1.17 billion tonnes passed through the canal.
Ø The canal is a major source of income for Egypt’s economy, with the African country earning USD 5.61 billion in revenues from it last year.
6. Sundarbans (Prelims, GS III-Environment)
Why in News?
Ø Promises related to development of Sundarbans are being made by different political parties, ahead of West Bengal assembly elections.
Ø Sundarbans region was badly damaged by Cyclone Amphan in 2020.
Ø It is a vast contiguous mangrove forest ecosystem in the coastal region of Bay of Bengal spread over India and Bangladesh on the delta (world’s largest) of the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers.
Ø It contains the world’s largest mangrove forests.
Ø Much of the area has long had the status of a forest reserve, but conservation efforts in India were stepped up with the creation of the Sundarbans Tiger Reserve in 1973.
Ø Sundarbans National Park, established in 1984, constitutes a core region within the tiger reserve; it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987.
Ø Sunderbans was designated as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 2001.
Ø Sundarban Wetland, India was recognised as the ‘Wetland of International Importance’ under the Ramsar Convention in January 2019.
Ø Sunderban National Park is known for its wide range of fauna, including 260 bird species and is home to many rare and globally threatened wildlife species such as the Estuarine Crocodile, Royal Bengal Tiger, Water Monitor Lizard, Gangetic Dolphin and Olive Ridley Turtles.
Ø The Sunderbans Delta is the only mangrove forest in the world inhabited by tigers.
Ø For its preservation, Discovery India and World-Wide Fund (WWF) India partnered with the Government of West Bengal and local communities in the Sundarbans in 2019.
Ø Mangroves are the plant communities occurring in inter-tidal zones along the coasts of tropical and subtropical countries.
Ø Mangrove forests perform multiple ecological functions such as production of woody trees, provision of habitat, food and spawning grounds for fin-fish and shellfish, provision of habitat for birds and other valuable fauna; protection of coastlines and accretion of sediment to form new land.
Ø Among the states and Union Territories, West Bengal has the highest percentage of area under total Mangrove cover followed by Gujarat and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Ø The India State of Forest Report gives the data about mangroves and their conditions in the country.
7. Shigmotsav (Prelims, GS I-Culture)
Why in News?
Ø The Goa government has limited the Shigmotsav (Shigmo festivities) parades to three locations only (Panaji, Ponda and Mapusa), owing to rising cases of Covid-19 in the state.
Ø Shigmo is the celebration of a ‘rich, golden harvest of paddy’ by the tribal communities of Goa.
Ø Agricultural communities including theKunbis, Gawdas and Velips celebrate the festival that also marks the onset of spring.
Two Variants of the Festival
Ø It is celebrated by the rural population, farmers and the labour class.
Ø It is of greater importance and is celebrated by everyone.
Ø Shigmo celebrations last over a fortnight in the months of Phalgun-Chaitra months of the Hindu calendar that correspond with March-April every year.
Ø The festival begins with ‘Naman’ that is the invocation of the local folk deities on the village ‘maand’ or the village stage to the beats of percussion instruments like the Ghumat, Dhol, Mhadle and Tashe by the male folk.
Ø It is called the ‘romta mell’ that moves from one village to another.
Ø Folk dances like Ghode Modni (a dance of equestrian warriors), Gopha and Phugadi.
Shigmo Street Parade
Ø Shigmo street parade floats as the highlight. It is held as an annual affair in the state capital, Panjim and other major cities like Margao, Mapusa, Vasco, and Ponda.
Ø These colour-parties usually see people dressed in vibrant clothing performing traditional folk dances to depict the historical legacy of the Maratha War that backs this festival.
Ø The float parades have, over the years, been a draw for tourists both domestic and international.
Shigmo is celebrated all over India but in different names-
Ø North India - Holi.
Ø Assam and Bengal - Dolyatra.
Ø South India - Kamadahan.
Ø Maharashtra - Shimga.
8. Electoral Bonds (Prelims, GS II-Polity & Governance)
Why in News?
Ø The Supreme Court flagged the possibility of misuse of money received by political parties through electoral bonds for ulterior objects like funding terror or violent protests.
Ø The court also asked the government whether there is any “control” over how these donations were used by political parties.
Ø Electoral Bond is a financial instrument for making donations to political parties.
Ø The bonds are issued in multiples of Rs. 1,000, Rs. 10,000, Rs. 1 lakh, Rs. 10 lakh and Rs. 1 crore without any maximum limit.
Ø State Bank of India is authorised to issue and encash these bonds, which are valid for fifteen days from the date of issuance.
Ø These bonds are redeemable in the designated account of a registered political party.
Ø The bonds are available for purchase by any person (who is a citizen of India or incorporated or established in India) for a period of ten days each in the months of January, April, July and October as may be specified by the Central Government.
Ø A person being an individual can buy bonds, either singly or jointly with other individuals.
Ø Donor’s name is not mentioned on the bond.
Challenges with Electoral Bonds
Ø Neither the donor (who could be an individual or a corporate) nor the political party is obligated to reveal whom the donation comes from.
Ø Because the bonds are purchased through the State Bank of India (SBI), the government is always in a position to know who the donor is.
Ø This asymmetry of information threatens to colour the process in favour of whichever political party is ruling at the time.
Channel of Black-money
Ø Elimination of a cap of 7.5% on corporate donations, elimination of requirement to reveal political contributions in profit and loss statements and also the elimination of the provision that a corporation must be three years in existence, undercuts the intent of the scheme.
Ø A shell company can donate an unlimited amount anonymously to a political party giving it a convenient channel for business to round-trip its cash parked in tax havens for a favour or advantage granted in return for something.
Conditions for Electoral Bonds
Ø Only parties registered under the Representation of the People Act 1951 could receive donations through electoral bonds, and they also should not have secured less than 1% of the votes polled in the previous elections.
To Take on the Menace of Black Money in Politics
Ø Only white money is involved in the Bonds as the amounts are paid only through cheque or demand draft.
Ø KYC norms are also followed.
Election Commission of India’s Support
Ø ECI was not opposed to the bonds but was only concerned about the aspect of anonymity.
Ø It also urged the court not to stay the bonds and said the scheme is one step forward compared to the old system of cash funding, which was unaccountable.