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GS 2

Probing an amendment

Article:

  1. N.K Singh, former Joint Director, CBI, discussed that recent changes to the anti-corruption law are very worrying.

Important facts:

2. Recently, the Parliament passed certain amendments to laws on corruption with focus on two aspects:

  • Prior approval for initiating investigation into allegations of corruption against public servants.
  • Requiring prior sanction for prosecution of public servants.

3. Need for approval

  • Section 6A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act has been amended, reinterring the requirement of prior approval for initiating investigation of corruption cases against Joint Secretaries and public servants.
  • The only exceptions to this are cases of traps in which public servants are caught red-handed while taking bribe.
  • Till now, under Section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, previous sanction of the competent authority was required to prosecute public servant. This safeguard has been extended to retired public servants.

4. Hurdles:

  • The amendment requires prior approval of the government to even initiate an investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into allegations of corruption against public servants.
  • The police has unfettered jurisdiction to initiate investigation into a crime or acts of corruption, once it gets credible information.
  • Under the scheme of the criminal justice system and rule of law, the police and the CBI are bound by the law and the Constitution to investigate a crime reported to them, if there is credible information.

5. But even after the Directive was set aside, the political class brought it back in the Central Vigilance Commission Act of 2003.

6. This led to protests and was challenged before the court.

7. In 2014, the Supreme Court set aside this provision of the Act.

8. The court had observed:

  • The very power of CBI to enquire and investigate into the allegations of bribery and corruption against a certain class of public servants and officials is subverted and impinged by Section 6A.
  • The scheme of Section 155 and Section 156 CrPC indicates that the local police may investigate a senior Government officer without previous approval of the Central Government.
  • However, CBI cannot do so in view of Section 6A.

 

 GS 3

PM healthcare scheme from Sept. 25

News:

  1. On the occasion of 72nd Independence Day celebration, PM Modi announced ambitious schemes.

Important facts:

2. PM Modi  during his Independence day speech highlighted  the achievements of his government.

3) Related to health sector:

Mantri Jan Aarogya Abhiyan (PMJAA)

  • PM announced Pradhan Mantri Jan Aarogya Abhiyan (PMJAA) was announced.
  • The scheme is also known as Ayushman Bharat or the National Health Protection Mission (AB-NHPM).
  • The scheme will be launched on September 25.
  • This is government-sponsored health insurance scheme.
  • The scheme aims to provide free coverage of up to Rs 5 lakh per family annually, benefiting more than 10 crore poor families.
  • It meant to help the poor and the economically deprived.
  • The scheme is expected to raise the ratio of people availing primary and secondary healthcare.
  • The scheme has potential of creating a cost-effective digitalized health economy.
  • Presently, around 80% of the healthcare in India is provided by the private healthcare system.
  • The beneficiaries under the scheme are chosen through the Socio-Economic Caste Census, mainly rural poor and identified urban workers.

Loopholes in the scheme:

  • The current framework of the scheme will not be beneficial for people who need tertiary care as the remunerations under the scheme will not be sufficient to avail value-based healthcare.
  • Under the scheme, the territory healthcare service providers will be forced to cut cost at every level.
  • They will not be able to avail the necessary medication, technology and clinical expertise to get the best outcome and will soon lose confidence in the system.
  • Majority of the families will be rural, and the secondary and tertiary public hospital infrastructure suffers from severe efficiency and accountability problems, State governments should upgrade the administrative systems.

Suggestions:

  • Reaching a consensus on treatment costs through a transparent consultative process is vital for a smooth and steady rollout.
  •  A large-scale Information Technology network for cashless treatment should be set up and validated.
  • Reducing the cost of universal health coverage is imperative, and it requires parallel investments in the neglected public sector.
  • An ombudsman to deal with complaints from NHPM users should, therefore, be a priority.
  • The Centre should extend the scheme to all children and senior citizens, and cover out-patient consultation and essential drugs to sharply reduce out-of-pocket spending.
  • Women related initiatives:
  • PM lauded fast-track courts dealing with rape cases handing out the death penalties in several cases.
  • Permanent Commission for women officers:
  • Permanent commission for women officers on short service commission in the uniformed services and plans for a manned space mission.
  • The women officers in the military would get permanent commission on a par with their male counterparts.
  • Permanent commission exists for women in select areas in the military.
  • Women officers who have been selected through the short service commission in defence forces will get the opportunity for a permanent commission.
  • Till now, women officers are recruited mostly on short service commission for 14 years and permanent commission is allowed in select streams, which means they are not eligible to pet pension.
  • Permanent commission is currently limited to education, legal branches apart from medical and dental services.
  • These two streams were opened for permanent commission in all three services in 2011.
  • On Triple Talaq Bill:
  • The Bill banning the practice of triple talaq among Muslims was passed.
  • Apart from above Bill, he also refereed the passage of the SC/ST and OBC Bill.

 

Cosmos Bank fraud due to malware in system: NPCI

News:

  1. According to the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), the recent incident of cyber attack in Pune-based Cosmos Cooperative Bank is due to a malware attack on the bank’s system.

Important facts:

2. Hackers transferred money through the malware attack on the bank’s server by cloning debit cards of the bank’s customers.

3. The transactions were carried through automated teller machines (ATMs) in 28 countries, including Canada, Hong Kong and India.

4. Visa and Rupay debit card were cloned.

5. On failure of banks to upgrade their software in ATMs despite repeated reminders, RBI has directed them to complete the process in a phased manner by June 2019.

6. The banking regulator pointed out that many ATMs were still running on Windows XP and other unsupported software.

7. According to banking industry sources, at least 30% of the 2.2 lakh ATMs across the country could still be running on old software.

8. Suggestions to address these incidence:

  • Continuous monitoring and surveillance required to prevent such attacks.
  • Incidence response teams need to be deployed on standby. It will be beneficial in preventing large-scale attacks.

 

Questioning a crackdown

Article:

  1. Prashant Reddy T. , Assistant Professor, National Academy of Legal Studies and Research (NALSAR), discussed about the  impact of oxytocin on human as well as animals.

Important facts:

2. Recently, the Ministry of Health restricted the manufacture of oxytocin only to the public sector unit.

3. On this decision, Karnataka Antibiotics and Pharmaceuticals Ltd. (KAPL), has sparked fears of shortages and a disruption of supplies of this drug.

4. Oxytocin, which is considered to be a critical drug in maternal health care-is made primarily by the private sector.

5. It required in the treatment of both humans and animals.

6. The restrictions were imposed because of alleged misuse of the drug by dairy farmers on milch cattle to stimulate milk production.

7. Using in cattle, it may cause addiction, in which case cattle do not react to normal milk ejection stimuli.

8. However, studies conducted by the Central government, by the Indian Council of Medical Research and the National Diary Research Institute, concluded that the use of oxytocin does not have an adverse effect on either people or animals.

9. The apex court in 2016 judgment blamed oxytocin for a number of diseases, including breast and uterine cancers, male impotence, excessive hair growth in women and balding for men.

10. While the State government have ignored these directions, the Central government, decided to adopt the judgment as the basis of its order restricting manufacture to the public sector.

11. In the Union of India v. Pfizer(2017), the apex court concluded “ If the power under Section 26A is exercised on the basis of irrelevant material or on the basis of no material, the satisfaction itself that is contemplated by Section 26A would not be there and the exercise of the power would be struck down on this ground.”

12. The Delhi High Court is hearing a challenge against the government’s order should signal to the government that regulation of drugs has to be rigorous and reasoned.

 

The currency turmoil in Turkey

News:

  1. The Turkish lira lost a fifth of its value against the U.S. dollar recently.

Important facts:

2. The currency has lost over 40% of its value against the dollar this year.

3. Reasons :

  • The U.S. Treasury had recently sanctioned two Turkish Ministers in response to Turkey’s continuing detention of America pastor Andrew Brunson on spying and terror charges.
  • S. President Donald Trump recently said that he would double import tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum.
  • The Turkish economy has been in overdrive, centred on a construction and consumption boom; inflation was more than 15%. The country has had a high current account deficit and soaring foreign debt.
  • A strengthening dollar and higher interest rates in the U.S. have compounded the lira’s troubles.

4. Turkey’s reaction:

  • Lira would stabilize as there was no “economic basis” for its fall.
  • The President urged Turks to boycott U.S. electronic goods, and slapped retaliatory tariffs on American cars and alcohol.
  • The Turkey’s Interior Ministry is also probing 346 social media accounts for undermining confidence in the economy.
  • Recently, Turkey’s central bank promised to provide the liquidity needed by banks.
  • Turkish regulators also stepped in to curb foreign accounts from placing bets against the lira.

5. Financial ramifications:

  • Recently, the Indian rupee breached the 70 mark against the dollar for the first time, largely caused by the lira’s fall.
  • European banks that own significant stakes in Turkish lenders are also at risk.
  • For now it looks like the lira is recovering but, longer term, Turkey will likely raise the already high interest rates or it may even look to the IMF for financing.

 

With human space flight, India to push frontiers

News:

  1. Space suits developed by ISRO for Indian astronauts.

Important facts:

2. Gaganyaan, the human space flight programme green –flagged set for 2022.

3. V.R. Lalithambika, a specialist in advanced launcher technologies, will helm the project as Director of the Human Space Flight Project.

4. Most of the critical technologies and hardware required for the project are ready.

5. ISRO would now stitch them up into a complete project and present a comprehensive project report to get a formal approval of the government.

6. ISRO has tested the necessary critical technologies required for the Human Space Flight Programme(HSP) .

7. After achieving the mission, India would be the fourth nation to circle Earth after the Soviets, the Americans and the Chinese.

8. This year, ISRO also conducted an experiment for emergency escape for astronauts called the Pad Abort Test.

9. The most critical elements of the human mission are the Environment Control and Life Support Systems that make the crew capsule liveable and the flight safe for the astronauts.

10. The spacecraft will be monitored 24/7 from the ISRO Telemetry Tracking and Command Centre in Peenya.

11. A new dedicated control centre for HSP would be set up at ISTRAC. It must be tracked globally through ISRO stations or of other countries.

12. The Space Applications Centre which makes electronic devices and instruments for ISRO missions will also get refurbished.

13. Various defence labs will be tapped for crew support systems.

14. ISRO will collaborate with the Indian Air Force and its Institute of Aerospace Medicine, Bengaluru, to train astronauts.

15. Much of the work related to ramping up of infrastructure and supply of hardware would be outsourced to industry in a major way and academia would be involved.

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