Haryana passes Bill to Award Death Penalty for Raping Minors

The Haryana Assembly on Thursday passed a bill seeking to give capital punishment to those found guilty of raping girls aged 12 years or below.

Earlier the government gave its nod to the proposal to bring in a legislation that would award death penalty to those guilty of raping girls of 12 years or less.

It decided to amend the legal provisions like section 376 A (Intercourse by a man with his wife during separation), 376D (rape by one or more persons constituting a group), 354 (Assault or criminal force against woman with intent to outrage her modesty) and 354 D(2) (stalking) of Indian Penal Code (IPC).

In January, the Haryana government was severely criticised after five incidents of sexual assault were reported in the state in five days.

Rajasthan passed a similar law on March 9, and Madhya Pradesh in December 2017.

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India’s first ever Highway Capacity Manual

The Minister of Road Transport & Highways, Shipping and Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Shri Nitin Gadkari released India’s first ever Highway Capacity Manual in New Delhi today. The manual, known as Indo-HCM, has been developed by CSIR – CRRI on the basis of an extensive, country-wide study of the traffic characteristics on different categories of roads like the single lane, two-lane, multi-lane urban roads,  inter-urban highways and expressways and the associated intersections on these roads. The study involved seven academic institutions including IITs at Roorkee, Mumbai, and Guwahati, School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi, Indian Institute of Engineering and Science and Technology, Shibpur, Sardar Vallabhai Patel National Institute of Technology, Surat and Anna University, Chennai.

About Indo- HCM:

The manual has been developed by CSIR-CRRI on the basis of an extensive, country-wide study of the traffic characteristics on different categories of roads like a single lane, two-lane, multi-lane urban roads, interurban highways and expressways and the associated intersections on these roads. It will guide road engineers and policymakers about road expansion.

The manual lays down guidelines for when and how to expand or manage different types of roads and their intersections and the level of services to be put in place. It has been developed based on the unique nature and diversity of traffic on Indian roads.

Benefits of this manual:

India was among the very few South Asian countries which did not have the practice of having a country-specific HCAP manual. The US and Danish authorities had pioneered the practice of having a key document to set highway construction standards all across their countries. This manual would now help in the scientific planning and expansion of road infrastructure in the country.

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DASTAK Campaign

It was inaugurated by the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Mr. Yogi Adityanath in Lucknow.

‘DASTAK’ is a door to door campaign to eradicate deadly Acute Encephalitis (AE) Syndrome and Japanese Encephalitis (JES) disease from the state.

The tagline for DASTAK is “Darwaja khatkhatao, AES aur JE ko bhagao”.

In DASTAK campaign, the state with the help of UNICEF will now literally go door to door in 38 JES and AE affected districts which mostly fall in the Tarai region of the state. This region contributes to about 60% of the total AES cases all over the country.

For this campaign, many departments of the state especially health, rural development, primary education will work together to spread awareness about the diseases through mass media communication, provide clean drinking water, initiate sanitation drive, ensure vaccination and early treatment so that disease should be nipped in the bud.

Children of 600 schools in the affected areas will also be part of this campaign.

Dastak is a part of the comprehensive Social and Behaviour Change Communication (SBCC) strategy embraced by the state government to beat encephalitis.

The exercise would be undertaken in encephalitis affected districts of UP including Gorakhpur.

Encephalitis, on an average, affects more than 4000 persons besides claiming the lives of over 500 each year in the state.

The encephalitis affects children up to 15 years of age. This campaign is an effort to protect them from this deadly disease so that these children too can play an active role in nation building.

A detailed programme has been prepared to combat Encephalitis. The vaccination work will be completed by March-April 2018.

As this disease is vector-borne so besides vaccination a sanitation drive will also be launched. People will be made aware to keep their surroundings clean. The educational institutions, as well as NGOs, will be asked to join hands.

Mal-nourishment is another cause of the spread of this disease. Therefore, pregnant women, lactating mothers, and infants would be provided with nutritious food.

The Anganwadi workers will also be involved in this work. The school children will also be taught about this dreaded disease.

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Swadhar Greh Scheme

Recently released government data shows that there are 559 Swadhar Greh presently functional in the country with 17231 beneficiaries.

About Swadhar Greh Scheme:

The Swadhar scheme was launched by the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development in 2002 for rehabilitation of women in difficult circumstances. The scheme provides shelter, food, clothing and care to the marginalized women/girls who are in need.

The beneficiaries include widows deserted by their families and relatives, women prisoners released from jail and without family support, women survivors of natural disasters, women victims of terrorist/extremist violence etc.

The implementing agencies are mainly NGOs. An Evaluation Study conducted through Centre for Market Research and Social Development to assess the performance of the scheme observed that the scheme is successful for which it was formulated/implemented.

Way ahead:

Women and girls represent half of the world’s population — but inspite of the progress that has been made in bettering their lives, the road ahead remains long. As the famous saying goes, “Women’s rights are human rights.” Women are equal members of society and have a right to live free from violence and discrimination, to be educated, own property, vote and fully participate in economic activities. When women have full access to their rights, all of society prospers. Experts claim that female empowerment and gender equality are two of the most effective ways for the global community to achieve every one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

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NITI Aayog releases “Healthy States, Progressive India” Report

Kerala, Punjab & Tamil Nadu ranked on top in terms of overall performance Jharkhand, Jammu & Kashmir, and Uttar Pradesh ranked top three States in terms of annual incremental performance

NITI Aayog released comprehensive Health Index report titled, “The Healthy States, Progressive India” at a function in the capital today. The report ranks states and Union territories innovatively on their year-on-year incremental change in health outcomes, as well as, their overall performance with respect to each other. The report has been developed by NITI Aayog, with technical assistance from the World Bank, and in consultation with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW),

States and UTs have been ranked in three categories namely, Larger States, Smaller States, and Union Territories (UTs), to ensure comparison among similar entities. The Health Index is a weighted composite Index, which for the larger States, is based on indicators in three domains: (a) Health Outcomes (70%); (b) Governance and Information (12%); and (c) Key Inputs and Processes (18%), with each domain assigned a weight based on its importance.

Among the Larger States, Kerala, Punjab, and Tamil Nadu ranked on top in terms of overall performance, while Jharkhand, Jammu & Kashmir, and Uttar Pradesh are the top three ranking States in terms of annual incremental performance. Jharkhand, Jammu & Kashmir, and Uttar Pradesh showed the maximum gains in improvement of health outcomes from base to reference year in indicators such as Neonatal Mortality Rate (NMR), Under-five Mortality Rate (U5MR), full immunization coverage, institutional deliveries, and People Living with HIV (PLHIV) on Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART).

Among Smaller States, Mizoram ranked first followed by Manipur on overall performance, while Manipur followed by Goa was the top-ranked States in terms of annual incremental performance. Manipur registered maximum incremental progress on indicators such as PLHIV on ART, first-trimester antenatal care (ANC) registration, grading quality parameters of Community Health Centres (CHCs), the average occupancy of key State-level officers and good reporting on the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP).

Among UTs, Lakshadweep showed both the best overall performance as well as the highest annual incremental performance. Lakshadweep showed the highest improvement in indicators such as institutional deliveries, tuberculosis (TB) treatment success rate, and transfer of National Health Mission (NHM) funds from State Treasury to implementation agency.

The Health Index report notes that while States and UTs that start at lower levels of development are generally at an advantage in notching up incremental progress over States with high Health Index scores, it is a challenge for States with high Index scores to even maintain their performance levels. For example, Kerala ranks on top in terms of overall performance but sees the least incremental change as it had already achieved a low level of Neonatal Mortality Rate (NMR) and Under-five Mortality Rate (U5MR) and replacement level fertility, leaving limited space for any further improvements.

However, the incremental measurement reveals that about one-third of the States have registered a decline in their performance in 2016 as compared to 2015, stressing the need to pursue domain-specific, targeted interventions. Common challenges for most States and UTs include the need to focus on addressing vacancies in key staff, establishment of functional district Cardiac Care Units (CCUs), quality accreditation of public health facilities and institutionalization of Human Resources Management Information System (HRMIS). Additionally, almost all Larger States need to focus on improving the Sex Ratio at Birth (SRB).

Linking this Index to incentives under the National Health Mission by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare underlines the importance of such an exercise. The report also notes that rich learnings have emerged in the first year and these will guide in refining the Index for the coming year and also address some of the limitations. It notes that there is an urgent need to improve data systems in the health sector, in terms of terms of representativeness of the priority areas, periodic availability for all States and UTs, and completeness for private sector service delivery. This Index is expected to nudge States towards further achieving a rapid transformation of their health systems and population health outcomes.

Health Index has been developed as a tool to leverage co-operative and competitive federalism to accelerate the pace of achieving health outcomes. It would also serve as an instrument for “nudging” States & Union Territories (UTs) and the Central Ministries to a much greater focus on output and outcome-based measurement of annual performance than is currently the practice. With the annual publication of the Index and its availability on public domain on a dynamic basis, it is expected to keep every stakeholder alert to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Goal number 3.

The process of index refinement involved inputs from the States and UTs, national and international sector experts, and development partners. Data submitted by the States & UTs was validated by an Independent Validation Agency, following which index values and ranks were generated on the web portal (http://social.niti.gov.in), and certified by the Independent Agency.

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MSMED (Amendment) Bill, 2015

Medium Enterprises Development Act, 2006 to change the criteria of classification and to withdraw the MSMED (Amendment) Bill, 2015 – pending in Lok Sabha

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the change in the basis of classifying Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises from ‘investment in plant & machinery/equipment’ to ‘annual turnover’.

This will encourage ease of doing business, make the norms of classification growth-oriented and align them to the new tax regime revolving around GST (Goods & Services Tax).

Section 7 of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development (MSMED) Act, 2006 will accordingly be amended to define units producing goods and rendering services in terms of annual turnover as follows:

A micro-enterprise will be defined as a unit where the annual turnover does not exceed five crore rupees;

A small enterprise will be defined as a unit where the annual turnover is more than five crore rupees but does not exceed Rs 75 crore;

A medium enterprise will be defined as a unit where the annual turnover is more than seventy-five crore rupees but does not exceed Rs 250 crore.

Additionally, the Central Government may, by notification, vary turnover limits, which shall not exceed thrice the limits specified in Section 7 of the MSMED Act.

At present, the MSMED Act (Section 7) classifies the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) on the basis of investment in plant and machinery for manufacturing units, and investment in equipment for service enterprises. The criterion of investment in plant and machinery stipulates self-declaration which in turn entails verification if deemed necessary and leads to transaction costs.

Taking turnover as a criterion can be pegged with reliable figures available e.g. in GST Network and other methods of ascertaining which will help in having a non discretionary, transparent and objective criteria and will eliminate the need for inspections, make the classification system progressive and evolutionary, help in overcoming the uncertainties associated with the classification based on investment in plant & machinery/equipment and employment, and improve the ease of doing business. In addition, the amendment will provide flexibility to the Government to fine-tune the classification of MSMEs in response to changing economic scenario without resorting to the amendment of MSMED (Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises Development) Act.

The change in the norms of classification will enhance the ease of doing business. The consequent growth and will pave the way for increased direct and indirect employment in the MSME sector of the country.

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Centre’s plan may boost farmers’ solar power use

The Centre has announced a ₹1.4 lakh-crore scheme for promoting decentralised solar power production of up to 28,250 MW to help farmers, according to R. K. Singh, Minister of State for Power and New and Renewable Energy

About KUSUM scheme:

It is a ₹1.4 lakh-crore scheme for promoting decentralised solar power production of up to 28,250 MW to help farmers. It would provide extra income to farmers, by giving them an option to sell additional power to the grid through solar power projects set up on their barren lands. It would help in de-dieselising the sector as also the DISCOMS.

Components of the scheme: The components of the scheme include building 10,000 MW solar plants on barren lands and providing sops to DISCOMS to purchase the electricity produced, ‘solarising’ existing pumps of 7250 MW as well as government tube wells with a capacity of 8250 MW and distributing 17.5 lakh solar pumps. The 60% subsidy on the solar pumps provided to farmers will be shared between the Centre and the States while 30% would be provided through bank loans. The balance cost has to be borne by the farmers.

Expected positive outcomes of the scheme include promotion of decentralised solar power production, reduction of transmission losses as well as providing support to the financial health of DISCOMs by reducing the subsidy burden to the agriculture sector. The scheme would also promote energy efficiency and water conservation and provide water security to farmers.

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Ayushman Bharat for a new India -2022

The Government has announced two major initiatives in the health sector, as part of Ayushman Bharat programme. These two health sector initiatives under Ayushman Bharat Programme will build a New India 2022 and ensure enhanced productivity, well being and avert wage loss and impoverishment. These Schemes will also generate lakhs of jobs, particularly for women.

The initiatives are as follows:

Health and Wellness Centre: The National Health Policy, 2017 has envisioned Health and Wellness Centres as the foundation of India’s health system. Under this 1.5 lakh centres will bring health care system closer to the homes of people. These centres will provide comprehensive health care, including for non-communicable diseases and maternal and child health services.  These centres will also provide free essential drugs and diagnostic services. The Budget has allocated Rs.1200 crore for this flagship programme. The contribution of the private sector through CSR and philanthropic institutions in adopting these centres is also envisaged.

National Health Protection Scheme: The second flagship programme under Ayushman Bharat is National Health Protection Scheme, which will cover over 10 crore poor and vulnerable families (approximately 50 crore beneficiaries) providing coverage up to 5 lakh rupees per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization. This will be the world’s largest government-funded health care programme. Adequate funds will be provided for smooth implementation of this programme.

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Eklavya Model Residential Schools (EMRS)

The government has proposed to establish Ekalavya Residential School in each block of the country where tribal people constitute a majority of the population. It has been decided that by the year 2022, every block with more than 50% ST population and at least 20,000 tribal persons, will have an Ekalavya Model Residential School.

Eklavya Model Residential Schools (EMRS)?

Eklavya Model Residential School Scheme was started in 1998 and the first school was started in the year 2000 in Maharashtra. EMRSs have been functioning as institutions of excellence for tribal students.

As per existing EMRS Guidelines of 2010, at least one EMRS is to be set up in each Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA) / Integrated Tribal Development Project (ITDP) having 50% ST population in the area.

The capital cost for setting up the school complex, including hostels and staff quarters etc. has been earmarked at Rs. 12 crores with a provision to go up to Rs.16 crore in hill areas, deserts and islands. Recurring cost during the first year for these schools would be Rs. 42000/-per child, with a provision of raising it by 10% every second year to compensate for inflation etc.

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Gift City gets unified regulator

The International Financial Service Centre (IFSC) at Gift City, Gujarat has received a major boost with the Finance Minister proposing a unified regulator for the special finance zone along with tax benefits for non-residents and non-corporate entities operating there.

This assumes significance as various government agencies and regulators, including the Reserve Bank of India and Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), have oversight on entities that operate in the zone.

The announcement of setting up of unified regulator for IFSC in India would help India achieve its full potential in the global financial markets. Globally, most of the financial centres host unified regulator in the same centre. This decision would help in establishing GIFT IFSC as a global financial hub.

An IFSC caters to customers outside the jurisdiction of the domestic economy. Such centres deal with flows of finance, financial products, and services across borders. London, New York and Singapore can be counted as global financial centres. Many emerging IFSCs around the world, such as Shanghai and Dubai, are aspiring to play a global role in the years to come.

What are the services an IFSC can provide?

1. Fund-raising services for individuals, corporations and governments.

2. Asset management and global portfolio diversification undertaken by pension funds, insurance companies, and mutual funds.

3. Wealth management.

4. Global tax management and cross-border tax liability optimization, which provides a business opportunity for financial intermediaries, accountants, and law firms.

5. Global and regional corporate treasury management operations that involve fund-raising, liquidity investment and management and asset-liability matching.

6. Risk management operations such as insurance and reinsurance.

7. Merger and acquisition activities among trans-national corporations.

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