|211.||Commerce Ministry to shut down DGS&D|
The Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry has started the process of shutting down Directorate General of Supplies and Disposals (DGS&D), over 100-year-old government procurement arm, in this fiscal.
Earlier, the Union Cabinet in April 2017 had ordered the DGS&D to wind up operations by October 2017. Now the public procurement of goods and services will be managed by the Government’s e-market platform (GeM).
Before closing, the Commerce Ministry will decide upon the issues concerning manpower, land and office spaces of the directorate, which are present all over the country.
Directorate General of Supplies and Disposals (DGS&D)
DGS&D has its origin in the India Stores Department which was established in London for purchase of imported stores in 1860. In 1922, India Stores Department was established in India to arrange purchases for Government Civil Departments and Military Purchases.
In 1951, the set-up of Purchase and Inspection was reorganised and DGS&D was constituted, in its present form, to handle all government purchases centrally. A minor restructuring was undertaken in 1974 to allow defence and railways to procure items meant for their exclusive use.
The directorate has two professional service cadres — Indian Supply Service (ISS) and Indian Inspection Service (IIS). Currently, the directorate has four regional offices including Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Chennai. It has 12 Purchase Directorates (Commodity-wise) at its headquater in New Delhi. Besides, there are 20 offices and the staff strength is over 1,200.
Need for shutting down DGS&D
The Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry had launched GeM (Government’s e-market platform) to bring greater transparency and efficiency in public procurement. At present, the Union and state governments procure goods and services worth over Rs. 5 lakh crore annually. Currently, over 20,000 sellers are registered on this GeM portal for selling over 50,000 products. The GeM portal has eliminated human interface in the procurement process such as order placement, vendor registration and payment processing to a great extent.
|212.||75th anniversary of Quit India Movement|
The 75th anniversary of the Quit India Movement was observed across the country. This year’s theme was “Sankalp se Siddhi- the attainment through resolve”.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his recent Mann Ki Baat programme had called for launching the mega campaign Sankalp Se Siddhi. The campaign pledges to build new India by 2022. It calls on everyone to pledge together towards Clean India, Poverty–free India, Corruption-free India, Terrorism-free India, Communalism-free India, Casteism-free India.
Prime Minister Modi also had termed the month of August as a month of revolution as the non-cooperation movement was launched on August 1, 1920, Quit-India movement on August 9, 1942 and on August 15, 1947 India became independent.
Quit India Movement
The Quit India Movement (Bharat Chhodo Andolan or the August Movement (August Kranti)) was an important milestone in the Indian freedom struggle. It was a civil disobedience movement launched at the Bombay session of the All-India Congress Committee (AICC) by Mahatma Gandhi on 8 August 1942 demanding an end to British Rule of India. It was launched after Mahatma Gandhi had made a call to Do or Die in his Quit India speech delivered in Bombay at the Gowalia Tank Maidan on 7 August 1942. Gandhi hoped to bring the British government to the negotiating table as the Cripps Mission had failed. Quit India Resolution drafted by Jawaharlal Nehru and was moved by him on 8th August 1942 in AICCC session and Sardar Patel seconded it. Under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi, people across India came together to uproot imperialism.
|213.||Justice Dipak Misra appointed as 45th Chief Justice of India|
President Ram Nath Kovind has appointed Justice Dipak Misra (63), senior-most judge of the Supreme Court as the next Chief Justice of India. He will be 45th CJI and succeeds Justice JS Khehar.
He will have tenure of over 13 months till October 2018. He will be the third person from Odisha to be appointed the CJI, after Justices Ranganath Misra and G B Pattanaik.
About Justice Dipak Misra
Justice Dipak Misra was born on 3 October 1953. He is the nephew of Justice Ranganath Misra who was CJI from September 1990 – November 1991.
He had enrolled as an advocate in 1977 and had practised in constitutional, civil, criminal, revenue, service and sales tax matters in the Orissa High Court and Tribunals before was elevated to the High Court bench.
He was appointed Additional Judge of the Orissa High Court in January 1996 and later was transferred to the Madhya Pradesh High Court in March, 1997 where he became a permanent judge.
In 2009, Justice Misra was elevated as Chief Justice of the Patna High Court and later as the Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court in May, 2010. He was elevated as a Judge of the Supreme Court in October 2011. In Supreme Court he has already presided over several key cases and verdicts.
He had led the SC bench which rejected the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts convict Yakub Memon’s appeal to stop his execution. He also had led a three judge SC bench which had upheld the death sentence awarded to the four convicts of the Nirbhaya rape case in May, 2017.
He also has given significant judgment directing states and Union Territories to upload First Information Reports (FIRs) on websites within 24 hours of their registration for enabling accused and others to file appropriate pleas in the courts for redress.
|214.||Government constitute committee to make drugs more affordable|
The Union Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers has constituted a committee of joint secretaries for ensuring enhanced affordability, availability and accessibility of drugs for the citizens.
The committee will suggest ways to make pricing policy in favour of poor patients.
Terms of reference of the committee
The committee will review the scope of Drugs (Price Control) Order 2013 (DPCO 2013) and suggest ways for strengthening the regulatory provisions of the order. It will also suggest ways to make DPCO 2013 more comprehensive in light of past experience of implementing the order.
It will also delve into making the existing mechanism for collection of market based data on prices of medicines more robust. It will also suggest ways for strengthening the existing pharmaceutical database management system.
It will also look at procedural improvements and process of re-engineering in National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) to ensure better and quicker implementation of the government policy and bring greater transparency to reduce litigations and review petitions.
|215.||Maharashtra Government to raise $270 m from Green Climate Fund|
The 2030 Water Resources Group (2030WRG) has decided to help the Maharashtra Government to raise $270 million from the Green Climate Fund (GCF).
The amount raised will be invested in state government’s integrated watershed programmes such as Jalyukt Shivar Yojana which has successfully augmented the ground water in drought affected areas of the state.
Moreover, the raised fund will be also used to further connect efficient use of water at the village level, where the fund will be useful for technology and infrastructure development. It will also be used in crop diversification and adding market linkages.
Maharashtra Water Resources Multi-Stakeholder Platform (MWRMP)
2030WRG along with the Maharashtra Government have launched the MWRMP to address critical water resources challenges in the State. The platform will be chaired by the Chief Secretary of Maharashtra.
The platform aims to accelerate water use efficiency programme in irrigated areas, along with agriculture growth and income enhancement. It will also develop public-private-community partnership models for implementation of the programmes. It will develop viable financing solutions, including blended finance models for promoting efficient use of water.
The 2030WRG is hosted by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group. It is a public-private-civil society collaboration for water resources reform in developing economies. Its ultimate aim is to close the gap between water demand and supply by the year 2030. It facilitates open, trust-based dialogue processes to drive action on water resources reform in water stressed countries in developing economies.
Green Climate Fund (GCF)
The GCF is a fund under the UN. It is guided by the principles and provisions of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. It aims to help developing countries to finance clean energy projects other mitigation efforts and adaptation to climate change.
|216.||India, Iran call for early operationalisation of Chabahar Port|
India and Iran have expressed commitment for early completion and operationalisation of Chabahar Port besides strengthening bilateral ties.
Both countries in a series of meetings held during the Union Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari two-day visit to Iran to attend the inauguration of Hassan Rouhani second tenure as President.
Both countries reviewed and assessed the progress in implementation of the decisions taken during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Iran in 2016, including the progress in the development of Chabahar Port. India also has conveyed its readiness to aid Iran in taking up operations in Chabahar Port during the interim period between the actual activation of contract.
India had requested Iran for an early submission of loan application for Chabahar Port Development to Exim Bank of India so that the contract agreement can be activated. The Iranian side earlier had requested India to provide up to $150 million credit and had made it a condition for activation of the Chabahar Port contract. The application for loan to Exim Bank of India is still awaited.
Chabahar port is strategically located in the southeastern Sistan-Balochistan province, on the Gulf of Oman, near Iran’s border with Pakistan. In May 2016, India and Iran had signed a bilateral agreement, under which India agreed to refurbish one of the berths at Shahid Beheshti port, and reconstruct a 600-metre long container handling facility at the port.
Significance of Chabahar Port
Alternative route to Afghanistan: The Chabahar port, intended to provide an alternative route for trade between India and Afghanistan, by bypassing Pakistan. It will also ensure in the establishment of a politically sustainable connectivity between India and Afghanistan which will lead to better economic ties between them. It will also ease connectivity to Zaranj-Delaram road constructed by India in 2009 which give access to Afghanistan’s Garland Highway. From a diplomatic perspective, Chabahar port can also be used for humanitarian operations in Afghanistan.
INSTC: It will boost India’s access to Iran, the key gateway to the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) that has sea, rail and road routes between India, Russia, Iran, Europe and Central Asia. It can significantly boost import of iron ore, sugar and rice to India from Afghanistan. It can also help to reduce import cost of oil to India.
Countering Chinese presence: It will be beneficial to India in countering Chinese presence in the Arabian Sea as China with help of Pakistan is developing the Gwadar port which is less than 400 km from Chabahar by road and 100 km by sea.
|217.||Entire Assam declared as ‘disturbed’ area under AFSPA for another month|
The Union Home Ministry has declared entire Assam state as a disturbed area under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act for one more month, citing various violent activities by insurgent groups ULFA, NDFB, and others.
The Home Ministry also declared 20 km belt along Meghalaya’s border areas adjoining Assam and three districts in Arunachal Pradesh (Tirap, Changlang and Longding) as disturbed under the AFSPA for two more months.
AFSPA has been continuing in Assam since November 1990. In 2016, there were 75 incidents of violence reported in Assam in which 33 people, including four security personnel, were killed and 14 others were abducted. The violence was perpetrated in Assam by insurgent groups like ULFA, NDFB and others. Similarly, continuing violence perpetrated by NSCN(K), NSCN(IM), ULFA, NDFB, and others were key reasons for continuing with AFSPA in Arunachal Pradesh. Meghalaya too has witnessed violence by ULFA, NDFB militants in the recent past.
About Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act
The AFSPA was enacted by the parliament in 1958. It grants extra-ordinary powers and immunity to the armed forces to bring back order in the disturbed areas. Some of these extra-ordinary powers include fire upon anyone after giving warning who is acting against law & order in the disturbed area, arrest anyone without warrant, stop and search any vehicle or vessel, legal immunity to armed forces personnel for their actions.
Note: Presently AFSPA is enforced in the 6 states of North East (Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland) and Jammu and Kashmir. It was lifted in Tripura in May 2015.
|218.||Government merges NCRB with BPRD|
The Union Home Ministry has merged three-decade old National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) with Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD).
The merger aims at improving administrative efficiency and optimal utilisation of resources for development works related to policing. It will also boost crime data collection and research efforts.
Now BPR&D will oversee all the data collection related to Crime in India, Suicides and Accidental Deaths, Prison Statistics and Fingerprints which was earlier done by NCRB. The BPRD Director General (DG) will be the head of the merged new entity, where the NCRB Director, an Additional DG rank post will report to the former.
Reasons for merger
BPR&D has been given charge of NCRB so that there is more research based and methodological data collection in future as data collection by NCRB as of now was that of taken from states and was sometimes inaccurate. It was also felt that if the researchers of BPR&D there will be more accurate and research based data collection.
About NCRB and BPRD
The NCRB was established in 1986 as the central police organisation to collect crime data, on various parameters, from across all the states of the country. The BPRD was established in 1970 as the national police organisation to study, research and develop on subjects and issues related to policing. Both the organisations were functioning under the aegis of Union Home Ministry.
|219.||India to MGC nations: Expand areas of cooperation|
India at 8th Mekong Ganga Cooperation Ministerial Meeting held in Manila, Philippines has called for expanding the areas of cooperation among the member countries of the Mekong Ganga Cooperation (MGC) bloc.
MGC countries have proposed to add newer areas of cooperation to the traditional areas on tourism, culture, education, transport and communication to further deepen mutually beneficial partnership and cooperation.
India and member states agreed to look forward to sustain this progress in the years to come and in further deepening our mutually beneficial partnership and cooperation. They also have shared the concept notes on formation of task forces on maritime connectivity and extension of (India-Myanmar-Thailand) trilateral highway into Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam
Mekong Ganga Cooperation (MGC) bloc
The MGC is an initiative by India and five ASEAN countries, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam for cooperation in tourism, culture, education, as well as transport and communications. It was launched in 2000 at Vientiane, Laos. It is named after Ganga and the Mekong which both are civilisational rivers. MGC initiative aims to facilitate closer contacts among the people inhabiting these two major river basins.
|220.||Government launches second phase of Measles-rubella vaccination campaign|
The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has launched the second phase of measles-rubella (MR) vaccination campaign to reduce measles morbidity and mortality,
The second phase of campaign will cover 8 states and union territories namely Andhra Pradesh, Chandigarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Telangana and Uttarakhand.
The Health Ministry has initiated MR vaccination campaign in the age group of 9 months to less than 15 years in a phased manner in the country. It was started across the country under the universal immunisation programme (UIP).
The campaign aims to rapidly build up immunity for both measles and rubella diseases in the community to knock out the disease. Under the second phase, more than three crore children are expected to be covered in these 8 states.
Under this campaign, MR vaccine has replaced two doses of measles vaccine provided in the routine immunisation programme in these states. For those children who have already received such vaccination, the campaign dose will provide additional boosting to them.
Measles is one of the important causes of death in children. It is highly contagious and spreads through coughing and sneezing of an infected person. It can also make a child vulnerable to life threatening complications such as diarrhoea, pneumonia and brain infection. Symptoms of the infection can include cataracts and deafness. It can also affect the heart and the brain.
Rubella disease is commonly known as German Measles (or three-day measles). It is symptomatically similar to measles. It is generally a mild infection, but has serious consequences if infection occurs in pregnant women, causing congenital rubella syndrome (CRS). CRS is characterized by congenital anomalies in the foetus and newborns affecting the eyes (cataract, glaucoma), brain (microcephaly, mental retardation), ears (hearing loss) and heart defects.