Saturday, September 28, 2013

Heads of Important Offices - World 2013

● Ban Ki-moon : Secretary-General, United Nations Organisation.
 Jan Eliasson : Deputy Secretary-General, UN.
 Dr. Jim Yong Kim : President, World Bank.
● Christine Lagarde: Managing Director, International Monetary Fund (IMF).
● Ms. Irina Bokova: Director-General-UNESCO.
● Dr. Margaret Chan: Director-General, WHO.
● Jose Graziano da Silva : Director-General, Food and Agricultural Organisation. 
● Guy Ryder : Director-General, International Labour Organisation.
● Anthony Lake : Executive Director, United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF).
● Antonio Guterres : UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
● Ms. Helen Clark : Administrator, United Nations Development Programme.
● Mr. Mukhisa Kituyi : Secretary-General, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
● Jose Angel Gurria : Secretary-General, Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
● Peter Tomka : President, International Court of Justice. 
● Takehiko Nakao: President, Asian Development Bank.
● Donald Kaberuka : President, African Development Bank.
● Jacques Rogge: President, International Olympic Committee.
● Kamalesh Sharma: Secretary-General, Commonwealth.
● Hailemariam Desalegn : Chairman, African Union Assembly.
● Ms. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma : Chairperson, African Union Commission.
● Roberto Azevedo : Director-General, WTO.
● Ms. Navanethan Pillay : High Commissioner, UN High Commission for Human Rights.
● Herman Van Rompuy : President, European Union
● Alan Isaac: President, International Cricket Council.
● Jose Manuel Durao Barroso: President, European Commission.
● Li Yong : Director-General, UNIDO.
● Abdul Latif bin Rashid Al-Zayani: Secretary-General, Gulf Co-operation Council.
● Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu : Secretary-General, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. 
● Abdallah Salem El-Badri: Secretary-General, Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
● Jose Miguel Insulza Salinas: Secretary-General, Organisation of American States.
● Hifikepunye Pohamba : President, South-West African People's Organisation (SWAPO).
● Mr. Yukiya Amano : Director- General, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
● Anders Fogh Rasmussen : Secretary-General, North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).
● Hashim Abdul Halim : Chairman, Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.
● Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin : Executive Director, UNFPA. 
● Le Luong Minh : Secretary-General, ASEAN.
● Ahmed Saleem : Secretary-General, SAARC 
● Lamine Diack : President, International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF).
● Charles F. Bolden, Jr. : Chief of NASA (USA).
● Salil Shetty: Secretary-General, Amnesty International.
● Lt.-Gen.Chikadibia Obiakor: Military Adviser to UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations.
● Hosni Mubarak: Secretary-General, Non-Aligned Movement.
● Burchell Whiteman, O.J. : Director, Commonwealth of Learning.
● Mireille Ballestrazzi : President, INTERPOL 

Heads of Important Offices in India 2013

Dr. Manmohan Singh: Chairman, Planning Commission.
Ms. Meira Kumar: Speaker, Lok Sabha.
Mohammad Hamid Ansari: Chairman, Rajya Sabha.
Mr. P. J. Kurien: Deputy Chairman, Rajya Sabha.
Mr. Karia Munda: Deputy Speaker, Lok Sabha.
Mrs. Sushma Swaraj : Leader of Opposition (Lok Sabha).
Mr. Arun Jaitley: Leader of Opposition (Rajya Sabha).
Dr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia: Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission.
Mr. V. S. Sampath: Chief Election Commissioner
Mr. Harishankar Brahma : Election Commissioner.
Syed Nasim Zaidi : Election Commissioner.
Mr. Shashi Kant Sharma : Comptroller and Auditor-General of India.
Mr. Justice K. G. Balakrishnan : Chairperson, National Human Right Commission (NHRC)
Mr. K. M. Chandrasekhar: Cabinet Secretary.
Mr. T. K. A. Nair : Principal Secretary to Prime Minister .
Mr. Justice M. N. Rao: Chairman, National Commission for Backward Classes.
Ms. Shanta Sinha: Chairperson, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights
Dr. Buta Singh: Chairman, National Commission for Scheduled Castes
Ms. Urmila Singh: Chairman, National Commission for Scheduled Tribes.
Prof. D. P. Agrawal: Chairman, UPSC.
Dr. M. S. Swaminathan : Chairman, National Commission on Farmers (NCF).
Mr. Shiv Shankar Menon: National Security Adviser and Special Adviser to PM (Internal Security).
Mr. S. C. Sinha : Director-General, National Investigation Agency (NIA).
Mr. Vinay Mittal: Chairman, Railway Board.
Mr. Shumsher K. Sheriff : Secretary-General, Rajya Sabha
Mr. T. K. Viswanathan : Secretary-General, Lok Sabha.
Mr. Syed Asif Ibrahim : Director, IB.
Mr. Ranjit Sinha: Director, CBI.
Mr. Alok Joshi : Director, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).
Mr. Arvind Ranjan : Director-General, NSG.
Mr. Dilip Trivedi : Director-General, CRPF.
Mr. Subhash Joshi : Director-General, Border Security Force (BSF).
Mr. Rajiv : Director-General, Central Industrial Security Force (CISF).
Mr. P. K. Mehta: Director-General, Railway Protection Force. (RPF)
Mr. Ajay Chadha: Director-General, Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP).
Mr. Arun Chaudhary : Director-General, Sashastra Seema Bal.
Vice-Admiral Anurag G. Thapliyal : Director-General, Indian Coast Guard.
Lt. Gen. Avtar Singh: Director-General, Defence Intelligence Agency.
Prof. Ved Prakash : Chairman, UGC.
Dr. Avinash Chander : Scientific Adviser to Defence Minister and Secretary, Defence Research and Development Organisation. (DRDO)
Dr. R. Chidambaram : Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government.
Mr. K. Radhakrishnan: Chairman, Space Commission and ISRO.
Mr. Ratan Kumar Sinha : Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission and Secretary, Dept. of Atomic Energy.
Mr. Wajahat Habibullah: Chairperson, National Commission for Minorities.
Mr. Deepak Sandhu : Chief Information Commissioner.
Mr. Amitava Bhattacharya : Chairman, SSC.
Dr. Vishwa Mohan Katoch : Director-General, Indian Council of Medical Research.
Mr. C. Chandramouli : Registrar-General of India and Census Commissioner.
Justice D. K. Jain : Chairman, Law Commission.
Mr. Baldev Raj : President, Indian National Academy of Engineering (INAE).
Mr. Justice (Retd.) B. N. Kirpal: Chairman, National Forest Commission.
Dr. Amrita Patel: Chairperson, National Dairy Development Board (NDDB).
Lt. Gen. M. C. Badhani : Director-General, Border Roads Organisation.
Dr. Raghuram Rajan : Governor, RBI.
Mr. Justice G. N. Ray: Chairman, Press Council of India.
Mr. Shailesh Gupta : Chairman, Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC).
Dr. (Ms.) Poonam Kishore Saxena : Chairperson, Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT).
Mr. A. K. Singh: Chairman, Central Board of Excise and Customs.
Mr. Ashok Chawla : Competition Commission of India
Justice Syed Rafat Alam : Chairman, Central Administrative Tribunal
Mr. G. Sai Prasad : CMD, NHPC.
Mr. R. S. Sharma: CMD, ONGC.
Mr. U. D. Choubey : CMD, GAIL.
Mr. S. Behuria : Chairman, IOC.
Mr. Sunil Kumar Srivastava: CMD, Oil India Ltd.
Mr. Ashok Ganguly: Chairman, CBSE.
Mr. U. K. Sinha: Chairman, Securities and Exchange Board of India.
Mr. Prakash Bakshi: Chairman, National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD).
Mr. Pratip Chaudhuri : Chairman, SBI.
Mr. V. P. Shetty : Chairman, IDBI.
Mr. S. Balasubramanian : Chairman, Company Law Board.
Mr. Hardeep Singh Puri : India's Permanent Representative to UN.
Mr. T. S. Vijayan : Chairman, LIC
Mr. A. K. Bajaj : Chairman, Central Water Commission.
Ms. Mamta Sharma : Chairperson, National Commission for Women.
Dr. Y. V. Reddy: Chairman, 14th Finance Commission.
Prof. Suresh D. Tendulkar : Chairman, National Statistical Commission.
Ms. Shafmila Tagore : Chairperson, Central Board of Film Certification.
Dr. Gautam Sengupta : Director-General, Archaeological Survey of India.
Ms. Naina Lal Kidwai  : President, FICCI.
Mr. J. S. Sarma: Chairman, TRAI 
Mr. R. N. Das : Director, Enforcement Directorate.
Mr. Yogesh Agarwal: Chairman, Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority.
Mr. Pradeep Kumar: Commissioner, Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC).
Dr. Ratan Kumar Sinha : Director, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre.
Mr. Suresh Kalmadi : President, Indian Olympic Association.
Prof. Krishan Kumar: Director, NCERT.
Mr. Mr. S. Gopalakrishnan : President, CII. 
Mr. Sam Pitroda : Chairman, National Knowledge Commission.
Mr. Rajiv Takru : CEO, Prasar Bharti Board.
Mr. Ratan Tata : Chairman, Investment Commission.
Mr. Jagmohan Dalmiya : President, Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
Mr. Krishnakumar Natarajan : Chairman, NASSCOM.
Mr. Rajkumar Dhoot : President, ASSOCHAM.
Mr. Ramesh Sippy : Chairman, National Film Development Corporation (NFDC).
Mr. Ravindra Kumar: Chairman, United News of India.
Mr. N. Ravi : Chairman, PTI.
Mr. K. N. Tilak Kumar : President, Indian Newspaper Society (INS).
Mr. Dilip Modi : President, The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM).
Mr. Vinod Rai : Chairman, Asian Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (ASOSAI)

Sunday, September 22, 2013

National Project on Climate Resilient Agriculture

Climate Change, caused by the increased concentration of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere, has emerged as the most prominent global environmental problem. Most of the countries including India are facing the problems of rising temperature, melting of glaciers, rising of sea-level leading to inundation of the coastal areas, changes in precipitation patterns leading to increased risk of recurrent droughts and devastating floods, threats to biodiversity, an expansion of pest and a number of potential challenges for public health.

Realizing that the climate change is likely to have major impacts on agriculture, the Government through Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has assessed the impact of climate change on Indian agriculture under different scenarios using crop simulation models. 

The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has conducted climate change impact analysis on crop yields through various centres in different parts of the country using crop simulation models (INFO-CROP and HAD CM3) for 2020, 2050 and 2080.

The results indicate variability in temperature and rainfall pattern with significant impacts on crop yields. These studies projected reduction in yields of irrigated rice by about 4% in 2020, 7% in 2050 and 10% in 2080. 

The Government through Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has initiated a network project on ‘National Initiative on Climate Resilient Agriculture’ (NICRA) to enhance resilience of Indian agriculture through Strategic Research on adaptation and mitigation (covering crops, livestock, fisheries and natural resource management), Technology Demonstration, Capacity Building and Sponsored/Competitive Grant Projects. 


 To enhance the resilience of Indian agriculture covering crops, livestock  and fisheries to climatic variability and climate change through development and application of improved production and risk management technologies
  To demonstrate site specific technology packages on farmers’ fields for adapting to current climate  risks
 To enhance the capacity building of scientists and other stakeholders in climate resilient agricultural research and its application.

XII Five Year Plan objectives related to the project are: 

 Strengthening the existing network research on adaptation and mitigation (food crops, horticulture, livestock and fishery) with more infrastructure and capacity building.
 Setting up of high through put phenotyping platforms and temperature, CO2, ozone gradient facilities at identified locations/ institutions including North East region.
 Strengthening research on  climate sensitive crops like cotton, maize, sugarcane, onion, etc. which are critical for India’s farm GDP/exports but not covered in the XI Plan.
 Projected impacts on water availability at the river basin level and participatory action research at large number of sites on evolving coping strategies through water saving technologies.
 Evolving a national level pest and disease monitoring system to assess the changing pest/disease dynamics under changed climate (both in crops and livestock).
 Strengthening crop simulation and climate scenario down-scaling modeling capabilities at major Institutes and a dedicated unit at IARI, New Delhi.
 Piloting the operationalization of the district/block level agromet advisory services through KVKs/district line departments and contingency plans during droughts and floods.
 Expanding the technology demonstration and dissemination to 130 vulnerable districts of the country.

S.R Hashim Report on methodology for identification of poor in urban areas

With the objective of putting in place a uniform criterion to identify the BPL households in urban areas so that objectivity and transparency is ensured in delivery of benefits to the target groups, the Planning Commission constituted an Expert Group under the Chairmanship of Professor S.R. Hashim.

The terms of reference of the Expert Group are as follows:

a) To recommend appropriate detailed methodology with simple, transparent and objectively measurable indicators, to identify Below Poverty Line (BPL) Households in urban areas for providing assistance under various schemes targeted at the urban poor;
b) To recommend periodicity for the conduct of BPL Survey in Urban Areas or the mechanisms to review such a BPL list;
c)To recommend institutional mechanisms for the conduct of BPL survey, survey questionnaire, processing of data, training, validation and approval of urban BPL list at various levels;
d) To recommend suitable institutional mechanisms to address the grievances of public on exclusion/inclusion in the urban BPL List;
e) Any other suggestions/recommendations to make the exercise of Urban BPL survey simple, transparent and acceptable.

The methodology recommended is as follows:

the Expert Group decided that poverty in Urban areas could be best captured by identifying three categories of vulnerabilities, i.e., residential vulnerability, occupational vulnerability and social vulnerability that the urban poor is subjected to. It was agreed to evolve a methodology to identify urban poor based on the various dimensions of these three areas of vulnerabilities to be qualified by a number of indicators which would also give an idea of the depth/intensity of the vulnerability.

Based on the above broad approach, the Expert Group recommends a three stage identification process (i) Automatic Exclusion ; (ii) Automatic Inclusion ; and (iii) Scoring Index.

Stage 1: Automatic Exclusion: If the number of dwelling rooms exclusively in possession of the household is 4 and above, that household will be excluded. Secondly, the household possessing any one of the assets, i.e., ‘4 wheeler motorized vehicle’, ‘AC Set’ and ‘computer or laptop with internet’ will also be excluded. Besides the households possessing any three of the following four assets, i.e., refrigerator, telephone (landline), washing machine, two wheeler motorized vehicle will also be excluded.

Stage 2: Automatic Inclusion: households facing various kinds of deprivations and vulnerabilities viz. residential, social and occupational vulnerabilities would be automatically included in the BPL List.

a) Under residential vulnerability, If the household is ‘houseless’ or the household has a house with roof and wall made of plastic/polythene or the household having only one room or less with the material of wall being grass, thatch, bamboo, mud, un-burnt brick or wood and the material of roof being grass, thatch, bamboo, wood or mud, then that will be automatically included.
b) Under occupational vulnerability, the household having no income from any source; any household member (including children) engaged in a vulnerable occupation like beggar/rag picker, domestic worker (who are actually paid wages) and sweeper/sanitation worker /mali); and all earning adult members in a household are daily wagers or irregular wagers, then that household should be automatically included.
c) Under social vulnerability, if there is no member of the household aged 18 years and above (Child-headed household) or there is no able-bodied person aged between 18 and 60 years in the household or all earning adult members in a household are either disabled, chronically ill or aged more than 65 years, then that household should be automatically included.

Stage 3: Scoring Index: In the third and final stage, the remaining households will be assigned scores from 0 to 12 based on various indicators of residential, social and occupational vulnerabilities. Those households with scores from 1 to12 are to be considered eligible for inclusion in the BPL List in the increasing order of the intensity of their deprivations meaning thereby that those with higher scores are more deprived.

National Mission for Green India

The National Mission for a Green India, as one of the eight Missions under the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC), recognizes that climate change phenomena will seriously affect and alter the distribution, type and quality of natural resources of the country and the associated livelihoods of the people. The Mission (henceforth referred to as GIM) acknowledges the influences that the forestry sector has on environmental amelioration through climate mitigation, food security, water security,biodiversity conservation and livelihood security of forest dependent communities.

The objectives of the mission are three-fold:

• Double the area to be taken up for afforestation/eco-restoration in India in the next 10 years, taking the total area to be afforested or eco-restored to 20 million ha.(i.e., 10 million ha of additional forest/non forest area to be treated by the Mission, in addition to the 10 million ha which is likely to be treated by Forest Department and other agencies through other interventions).
• Increase the GHG removals by India's forests to 6.35% of India's annual total GHG emissions by the year 2020 (an increase of 1.5% over what it would be in the absence of the Mission). This would require an increase in above and below ground biomass in 10 million ha of forests/ecosystems, resulting in increased carbon sequestration of 43 million tons CO2-e annually .
• Enhance the resilience of forests/ecosystems being treated under the Mission enhance infiltration, groundwater recharge, stream and spring flows, biodiversity value, provisioning of services (fuel wood, fodder, timber, NTFPs, etc.) to help local communities adapt to climatic variability.

The Mission targets can be classified as:
• 2.0 m ha of moderately dense forests show increased cover and density.
• 4.0 m ha of degraded forests are regenerated/afforested and sustainably managed.
 0.10 m ha of mangroves restored/established.
 0.10 m ha of wetlands show enhanced conservation status.
 0.20 m ha of urban/peri urban forest lands and institutional lands are under tree cover.
 1.50 m ha of degraded agricultural lands and fallows are brought under agro-forestry.
•  0.10 m ha of corridor areas, critical to wildlife migration are secure.
• Improved fuel wood use efficiency devices adopted in about 10 million households (along with alternative energy devices).
 Biomass/NTFP based community livelihoods are enhanced that lead to reduced vulnerability.

Some key highlights of the Mission strategy are listed below:

1. Holistic view to “greening” (broader than plantations):

The scope of greening will not be limited to just trees and plantations. Emphasis will be placed on restoration of ecosystems and habitat diversity e.g. grassland and pastures (more so in arid/semi-arid regions), mangroves, wetlands and other critical ecosystems. It will not only strive to restore degraded forests, but would also contribute in protection/enhancement of forests with relatively dense forest cover.

2. Integrated cross-sectoral approach to implementation:

The Mission would foster an integrated approach that treats forests and non forest public lands as well as private lands simultaneously, in project units/ sub-landscapes/sub-watersheds. Drivers of degradation e.g. firewood needs and livestock grazing will be addressed using inter sectoral convergence (e.g. livestock, forest, agriculture, rural development, energy etc.)

3. Key role for local communities and decentralized governance:

Local communities will be required to play a key role in project governance and implementation. Gram Sabha and its various committees/groups including JFMCs, CFM groups, Van Panchayats, etc. would be strengthened as institutions of decentralized forest governance. Likewise, the Mission would support revamping/strengthening of the Forest Development Agencies. The Mission would support secured community tenure, capacity building for adaptive forest management and livelihood support activities e.g. community based NTFP enterprises.

4. Vulnerability' and 'Potential' as criteria for intervention:

An overarching criterion for selection of project areas/sub-landscapes/sub-watersheds under the Mission would include vulnerability to climatic change projections and potential of areas for enhancing carbon sinks.

5. Robust and effective monitoring framework:
A comprehensive monitoring framework at four different levels is proposed. In addition to on-ground self- monitoring by multiple agencies, the Mission would support use of modern technology like Remote Sensing with GPS mapping of plot boundaries for monitoring at output/ outcome level. A few identified sites within the project area will be selected for intensive monitoring using additional parameters like ground cover, soil condition, erosion and infiltration, run-off, ground water levels to develop water budgets as well as biomass monitoring indicators. The Mission would also commission a comprehensive research needs assessment in support of Mission aim and objectives. The Mission would set up a cell within Mission Directorate to coordinate REDD Plus activities in the country.

Jawaid Akhtar Elected Chairperson of International Coffee Council

Jawaid Akhtar, the Chairman of Coffee Board of India, was elected as the Chairperson of the International Coffee Council at the meetings of the International Coffee Organization which took place on 9 September 2013 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. The 111th session of the Council and the meetings took place from 9 September 2013- 12 September 2013. 

At the same time, Conradin Rasi of Switzerland was elected as the Vice-Chairperson of the International Coffee Council. The Council also appointed Juan Esteban Orduz of Colombia as the Chairperson of the Consultative Forum.

About the International Coffee Organization (ICO)

• The International Coffee Organization was established in 1963 in London. 
• It was initiated with the United Nations (UN) to increase cooperation among the nations which produce, distribute and consume coffee. 
• The International Coffee Organization was formed as a result of the five-year International Coffee Agreement signed in 1962 at the UN in New York.
• Till the year 2011, it comprised of 39 members, which included 33 exporting nations, 5 importing countries and one importing community, i.e., the European Union. 
• The highest body of the ICO is International Coffee Council. It meets two times a year and the Private Sector Consultative Board of ICO includes 16 representatives from coffee production and consumption industries. 
• The members of ICO represent 97 percent of the world coffee production and more than 80 percent of the world consumption.

MPLADS guidelines revised

According to the revised guidelines Government has allowed the Members of Parliament to grant funds under Member of Parliament Local Area Development scheme, MPLADS to purchase furniture for schools and create infrastructure for cooperative societies with certain conditions. Earlier, MPs were allowed to recommend purchase of furniture for new school buildings and registered trusts and societies under the scheme.
Thus an MP can recommend for purchase of movable items such as furniture, equipment, etc, for primary and secondary schools belonging to Central or State or UT governments and local bodies and government- aided schools.

But the cooperative society should be in existence for the preceding 3 years and, in the opinion of the district authority, based on an objective assessment of performance and records, etc., should be well-reputed and dedicated to community / public good.

Further the structure constructed with MPLADS funds will be the property of the State / UT Government.  The recommending MP or any of his family members should not be an office-bearer or member or having patronage of the cooperative society. Mutual funding by MPs will not be allowed.

What is Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS)?

It was introduced by the Narasimha Rao government to help MPs execute small works of a local nature to meet the urgent needs of their constituencies. It began with an initial annual grant of Rs 50 lakh per MP. The amount was increased to Rs 1 crore in 1994-95 and to Rs 2 crore in 1998-99. The allocation has increased to Rs 5 crore per MP in view of cost escalation.

Under the scheme, each MP has the choice to suggest to the District Collector for, works to the tune of Rs.5 Crores per annum to be taken up in his/her constituency.

The Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament can recommend works in one or more districts in the State from where he/she has been elected.

The Nominated Members of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha may select any one or more Districts from any one State in the Country for implementation of their choice of work under the scheme.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Standing Committee Report on Implementation of the MGNREGA

The Standing Committee on Rural Development Chaired by  Sumitra Mahajan submitted its report on the  implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural  Employment Guarantee Act, 2005.
The MGNREGA was enacted in 2005 to guarantee 100 days of employment per year to rural households.

The Committee highlighted several achievements of the MGNREGA in the seven years of its implementation; especially (a) ensuring livelihoods for people in rural areas, (b) large scale participation of women, SCs/STs and other traditionally marginalised sections of society, (c) increasing the wage rate in rural areas, (d) strengthening the rural economy through the creation of assets, (e) facilitating sustainable development and (f) strengthening Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) like the gram sabha by involving them in planning and monitoring of the scheme.

However, the Committee found several issues with the implementation of the scheme including (a) fabrication of job cards, (b) delay in payment of wages, (c) non payment of unemployment allowances, (d) a large number of incomplete works, (e) poor quality of assets created, (f) several instances of malpractices and corruption, and (g) insufficient involvement of PRIs.

The Committee made the following recommendations, based on its findings:

• Offences such as missing entries in the job cards and unlawful possession of job cards with elected PRI representatives and MGNREGA functionaries should be made a punishable offence under the Act.

• Since studies have shown that the income of female workers raises the standard of living of their households to a greater extent than their male counterparts, the participation of women must be increased through raising awareness and forming self help groups.

• Special works must be identified, meeting the specific needs of disabled people. Special job cards must be issued and personnel must be employed to ensure the participation of persons with disabilities.

• The Department of Rural Development must analyse poor utilisation of funds and take steps to improve utilisation of funds. In addition, it should initiate action against officers found guilty of misappropriating funds under MGNREGA.

• Since states are at various stages of socio-economic development, they may have varied requirements for development and therefore, state governments should be allowed to undertake works that are pertinent to their context. There should be more emphasis on skilled and semi-skilled work under MGNREGA, possibly through greater coordination with the National Rural Livelihoods Mission. The Committee recommends convergence with other schemes such as the National Literacy Mission and Mid Day Meal Scheme.

• Dated receipts for demanded work should be issued so that workers can claim unemployment allowance. Funds for unemployment allowance should be met by the central government.

• Frequency of monitoring by National Level Monitors should increase and appropriate measures should be taken based on their recommendations. Additionally, social audits must mandatorily be held every 6 months. A nodal officer should be designated to ensure this. Vigilance cells must be established at the state and district level and vigilance and monitoring committees must be established at the local level.

• Training and capacity building of elected representatives and other functionaries of PRIs must be done regularly

Parivarik Mahila Lok Adalat

The concept of Parivarik Mahila Lok Adalat (PMLA) has been evolved by the National Commission for Women (NCW) to supplement the efforts of the District Legal Service Authority for redressal and speedy disposal of matters pending in various courts related to marriage and family affairs. 

Objectives of Parivarik Mahila Lok Adalat:

 To provide speedy and cost free dispensation of justice to women.
 To generate awareness among the public regarding conciliatory mode of dispute settlement.
•  To gear up the process of organizing the Lok Adalats and to encourage the public to settle their disputes outside the formal set-up.
 To empower public especially women to participate in justice delivery mechanism.

National Commission for Protection of Child Rights

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) was set up in March 2007 under the Commission for Protection of Child Rights Act, 2005, an Act of Parliament (December 2005). The Commission's Mandate is to ensure that all Laws, Policies, Programmes, and Administrative Mechanisms are in consonance with the Child Rights perspective as enshrined in the Constitution of India and also the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Child is defined as a person in the 0 to 18 years age group.
The proposed Commission have a Chairperson and six other Members, including two women members, a Member Secretary and other supporting staff. The Chairperson is a person of eminence in the field of child development. The members are the experts in the field of child health, education, child care and development, juvenile justice, children with disabilities, elimination of child labour, child psychology or sociology and laws relating to children.

The Functions of the Commissions are:

• Examine and review the safeguards provided by Constitution or any law for the protection of child rights and recommend measures for their effective implementation
• Present to the Central Government, annually reports upon the working of those safeguards.• Examine all factors that inhibit the enjoyment of rights of most vulnerable children and  children in need of special care and protection• Study treaties and other international instruments and undertake periodical review of existing policies, programmes and other activities on child rights and make recommendation for their effective implementation in the best interest of children.• Undertake and promote research in the field of child rights• Spread child rights literacy among various sections of the society and promote awareness• inspect any juvenile custodial home, or any other place of residence or institution meant for children for the purpose of treatment, reformation or protection and take up with these authorities for remedial action• inquire into complaints and take suo motu notice of matters relating to,a) deprivation of child’s rights;b) non-implementation of laws for protection and  development of children;c) non-compliance of policy decisions, guidelines or and to provide relief to such children, take up the issues arising out of such matters with appropriate authorities;• Such other functions as it may consider necessary for the promotion of child rights.

Damodaran panel report

A committee headed by former Sebi chairman M Damodaran has recommended scrapping of 'retrospective taxation' as a chief measure to make India an attractive destination to do business.
The committee, which had leaders of corporates and state-owned companies and officials of various ministries among its members, also recommended a system of advance ruling for all organisations tasked with framing regulations, encouraging arbitration to resolve contractual disputes and setting up of an overarching body to enable policy and process coordination of medium and small scale enterprises (MSMEs).

The 76 page-long recommendations titled 'Reforming the Regulatory Environment for doing Business in India' is currently under the study of the ministry of corporate affairs.

The report singled out retrospective taxation as a big obstacle to attracting investment. "Retrospective taxation has the undesirable effect of creating major uncertainties...constituting a significant disincentive for persons wishing to do business in India," the committee remarked. Last year, following the Supreme Court's verdict that British telecom major Vodafone was not liable to pay taxes to the Indian government on overseas transfer of Indian assets, the government had amended the tax laws with retrospective effect, bringing Vodafone's deal under its net. The amendment had caused a huge uproar in the international investor community. The Damodaran committee in its report noted that even though the legal powers of the government extend to giving retrospective effect to taxation proposals, it might not pass the test of certainty and continuity.

The ministry of corporate affairs had set up the committee to suggest ways to improve India's dismally low ranking on the World Bank's index ranking countries on the 10 parameters measuring ease of doing business. In the report, India had been ranked at 132 out of 183 countries, lower than its neighbours Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal.

Further the committee has lashed out at the orientation of debates to the backgrounds and personalities of regulators. It also slammed the practice of conducting interview-based selections of regulators by a panel. According to the committee such sterile debates didn’t help in understanding the organisation’s regulatory philosophy, which significantly influenced the content and scope of regulations. The committee recommended a transparent mechanism to appoint a watchdog. It recommended a system in which the head of a regulatory organisation and his board-level colleagues appeared before an appropriate parliamentary committee once every six months to report on various developments and discuss the broad plan of action for the next six months. The committee said the practice of inviting applications from interested candidates and asking them to appear for interviews by a panel comprising persons unfamiliar with the regulatory organisation led to loss of public confidence, not only in the process but also in the organisation.

It added the genuine functional autonomy of regulators would have to be reinforced with financial autonomy by putting in place a system in which regulatory organisations weren’t dependent on government departments for financial support.

The panel also suggested each regulatory organisation undertake self-evaluation once in three years and put the conclusions in the public domain. It recommended each government organisation or department responsible for framing regulations undertake a two-stage process of consultation, through which a revised draft was put up after the first round of stakeholder consultations. Typically, just one draft is put in the public domain for inviting suggestions.

Minorities Development in India

India is a democratic country where people of all community live in peace and harmony. All major religions of the world are found in India. As such, Hindus are the majority community and the minority community includes Muslims,  Sikhs,  Christians,  Buddhists and Zoroastrians (Parsis) as notified under the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992.

Minorities are playing a very vital role in India’s political and social upliftment, contributing significantly in the development of our country. Governments from time to time have formulated programmes and schemes for socio-economic upliftment of minorities.

For this purpose Government of India created the Ministry of Minority Affairs, which aims at empowering the minority communities and creating an enabling environment for strengthening the multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-lingual and multi-religious character of our nation. It also aims at improving the socio-economic conditions of the minority communities through affirmative action and inclusive development, so that every citizen has equal opportunity to participate actively in building a vibrant nation.

To facilitate an equitable share for minority communities in education, employment, economic activities and to ensure their upliftment, Prime Minister's New 15-Point Programme for the Welfare of Minorities was announced in June, 2006. It provides programme specific interventions with definite goals which are to be achieved in a time bound manner. The objectives of the programme are: (a) Enhancing opportunities for education; (b) Ensuring an equitable share for minorities in economic activities and employment through existing and new schemes, enhanced credit support for self-employment and recruitment to State and Central Government jobs; (c) Improving the conditions of living of minorities by ensuring an appropriate share for them in infrastructure development schemes; and (d) Prevention and control of communal disharmony and violence.

An important aim of the programme has been to ensure that the benefits of various government schemes for the underprivileged reach the disadvantaged sections of the minority communities. In order to ensure that the benefits of these schemes flow equitably to the minorities, the programme envisages location of a certain proportion of development projects in minority concentration areas. The schemes included in the New 15-Point Programme are as under;

  • Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme by providing services through Anganwadi Centres {Ministry of Women & Child Development}.
  • Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya Scheme (KGBV) {Ministry of Human Resources Development}
  • Aajeevika{Ministry of Rural Development}
  • Swarnajayanti Shahari Rojgar Yojana (SJSRY) {Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation}
  • Upgradation of Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) {Ministry of Labour & Employment}
  • Bank credit under priority sector lending {Department of Financial Services}
  • Indira Awas Yojana (IAY) {Ministry of Rural Development}

Also acting on the Sachar Committee report, the Government has initiated several measures as:

  • Universalization of access to quality education at secondary stage called Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA).
  • One model college each would be set up in 374 educationally backward districts (EBDs) of the country. Of 374 EBDs, 67 are among identified minority concentration districts.
  • Preference to be given by the University Grants Commission for provision of girls' hostels in universities and colleges in the areas where there is concentration of minorities especially Muslims.
  • Area Intensive & Madarsa Modernisation Programme has been revised and bifurcated into two schemes. (a) Scheme for Providing Quality Education in Madarsas (SPQEM). It was attractive provision for better teachers' salary, increased assistance for books, teaching aids and computers and introduction of vocational subjects, etc and the other scheme which provides financial assistance for Infrastructure Development of Private aided/unaided Minority Institutes (IDMI).
  • Academies for professional development of Urdu medium teachers have been set up at three Central Universities namely, Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), Jamia Milia Islamia University (JMIU), New Delhi and Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MAANU), Hyderabad.

Also, the Government has launched the Multi-sectoral Development Programme (MsDP) in 2008-09. The programme aims at improving the socio-economic and basic amenity facilities for improving the quality of life of the people and reducing imbalances in the Minority Concentration Districts (MCDs). Identified 'development deficits' are addressed through a district specific plan for provision of better infrastructure for school and secondary education, sanitation, pucca housing, drinking water and electricity supply, besides beneficiary oriented schemes for creating income generating activities. Absolutely critical infrastructure linkages like connecting roads, basic health infrastructure, ICDS centers, skill development and marketing facilities required for improving living conditions and income generating activities and catalyzing the growth process are eligible for inclusion in the plan.

The Ministry of Minority Affairs is also providing several scholarships to the minority communities to empower them educationally and socially across the country. These include: (a) The Pre-matric scholarship scheme. (b) Post-matric scholarship scheme. (c) The Merit-cum-Means Scholarship Scheme. (d) The Maulana Azad National Fellowship (MANF). (e) The Free Coaching and Allied Scheme. (f) Leadership Development of Minority Women scheme. (g) Grant In Aid Scheme to State Channelising agencies of National Minorities Development & Finance Corporation.

In this way the Government of India is making every effort for upliftment of minorities so that they can stand with others side by side in all spheres of life and live a dignified life.