Current Affairs 27th September 2018

edited October 2018 in Daily Current Affairs

National Digital Communications Policy-2018

The Union Cabinet has approved the National Digital Communications Policy-2018 (NDCP-2018) and re-designation of the Telecom Commission as the “Digital Communications Commission”.


Impact:

The NDCP-2018 envisions supporting India’s transition to a digitally empowered economy and society by fulfilling the information and communications needs of citizens and enterprises by establishment of a ubiquitous, resilient and affordable digital communications infrastructure and services.
The ‘Customer focused’ and ‘application driven’ NDCP-2018 shall lead to new ideas and innovations, after the launch of advanced technology such as 5G, IOT, M2M, etc. which shall govern the telecom sector of India.

The key objectives of the policy are:

Broadband for all.
Creating four million additional jobs in the Digital Communications sector.
Enhancing the contribution of the Digital Communications sector to 8% of India’s GDP from ~ 6% in 2017.
Propelling India to the Top 50 Nations in the ICT Development Index of ITU from 134 in 2017.
Enhancing India’s contribution to Global Value Chains.
Ensuring Digital Sovereignty.
These objectives are to be achieved by 2022.


The policy aims to:

Provide universal broadband connectivity at 50 Mbps to every citizen.
Provide 1 Gbps connectivity to all Gram Panchayats by 2020 and 10 Gbps by 2022.
Ensure connectivity to all uncovered areas.
Attract investments of USD 100 billion in the Digital Communications Sector.
Train one million manpower for building New Age Skill.
Expand IoT ecosystem to 5 billion connected devices.
Establish a comprehensive data protection regime for digital communications that safeguards the privacy, autonomy and choice of individuals.
Facilitate India’s effective participation in the global digital economy.
Enforce accountability through appropriate institutional mechanisms to assure citizens of safe.
Secure digital communications infrastructure and services.


The policy advocates:

Establishment of a National Digital Grid by creating a National Fibre Authority.
Establishing Common Service Ducts and utility corridors in all new city and highway road projects.
Creating a collaborative institutional mechanism between Centre, States and Local Bodies for Common Rights of Way, standardization of costs and timelines.
Removal of barriers to approvals.
Facilitating development of Open Access Next Generation Networks.


Background:


As the present world has entered the era of modern technological advancements in the Telecom Sector such as 5G, loT, M2M etc., a need was being felt to introduce a ‘customer focused’ and ‘application driven’ policy for the Indian Telecom Sector, which can form the main pillar of Digital India by addressing emerging opportunities for expanding not only the availability of telecom services but also telecom based services.

Accordingly, the new National Digital Communications Policy – 2018 has been formulated, in place of the existing National Telecom Policy-2012, to cater to the modern needs of the digital communications sector of India.

What to study?


For Prelims: Highlights of the Policy.
For Mains: Need and significance of the policy.

Ordinance To Supercede Medical Council Of India

An ordinance seeking to replace the existing body running the Medical Council of India or MCI with a government-appointed committee has been signed by President Ram Nath Kovind.

The committee or the ‘Board of Governors’ has now been appointed by the government in “supersession of the MCI”. The Board members include persons of eminence in the medical field.

Background:

Pending parliament’s approval to the bill, the government has chosen to go for the ordinance since the term of the existing committee running the MCI ends in November.

A bill to replace the MCI with a National Medical Commission (NMC) has already been presented in parliament. A parliamentary standing committee has also made its recommendations, but due to time factor, the bill “has gone into an area of uncertainty.”

National Medical Commission Bill:

The bill provides for the constitution of four autonomous boards entrusted with conducting undergraduate and postgraduate education, assessment and accreditation of medical institutions and registration of practitioners under the National Medical Commission.
According to the draft bill, the commission will have government nominated chairman and members, and the board members will be selected by a search committee under the Cabinet Secretary. There will five elected and 12 ex-officio members in the commission.
As per the Bill, the government, under the National Medical Commission (NMC), can dictate guidelines for fees up to 40% of seats in private medical colleges. This is aimed at giving students relief from the exorbitant fees charged by these colleges and is a standout feature of the bill.
The bill also has a provision for a common entrance exam and licentiate (exit) exam that medical graduates have to pass before practising or pursuing PG courses. For MBBS, students have to clear NEET, and before they step into practice, they must pass the exit exam.
Recognised medical institutions don’t need the regulator’s permission to add more seats or start PG course. This mechanism to reduce the discretionary powers of the regulator.
Earlier, medical colleges required the MCI’s approval for establishment, recognition, renewal of the yearly permission or recognition of degrees, and even increase the number of students they admitted. Under the new bill, the powers of the regulator are reduced to establishment and recognition. This means less red tape, but also less scrutiny of medical colleges.

Background:

The Medical Council of India was first established in 1934 under the Indian Medical Council Act, 1933. This Act was repealed and replaced with a new Act in 1956. Under the 1956 Act, the objectives of MCI include:

Maintenance of standards in medical education through curriculum guidelines, inspections and permissions to start colleges, courses or increasing number of seats.
Recognition of medical qualifications.
Registration of doctors and maintenance of the All India Medical Register.
Regulation of the medical profession by prescribing a code of conduct and taking action against erring doctors.

What to study?

For Prelims: Key features of the National Medical Commission bill.
For Mains: MCI- issues, performance, concerns and need for superseding.

Mobile Application “Jan Dhan Darshak”

Department of Financial Services (DFS), Ministry of Finance and National Informatics Centre (NIC) has jointly developed a mobile app called Jan Dhan Darshak as a part of financial inclusion (FI) initiative.

About Jan Dhan Darshak app:

As the name suggests, this app will act as a guide for the common people in locating a financial service touch point at a given location in the country.
The app will be in a unique position to provide a citizen centric platform for locating financial service touch points across all providers such as banks, post office, CSC, etc. These services could be availed as per the needs and convenience of the common people.


Some of the salient features of this App are as follows:

Find nearby Financial touch points, based on current location (Branches/ATM/Post offices).
Search by place name.
Search by place name also available with Voice Interface.
Phone number of bank branches available in app, with the facility of call button for integrated dialing.
Users’ feedback will go directly to the concerned bank for carrying out the necessary updation in data on financial touch points.


What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Key features and significance of the app.


Supreme Court allows live streaming of cases

Ushering in more transparency in the judiciary’s work, the Supreme Court has given its nod to live-streaming of court proceedings, saying this will bring more accountability and enhance the rule of law.

Pilot project:

As per the court’s order, the project must be implemented in a progressive, structured and phased manner, with certain safeguards to ensure that the purpose of live-streaming of proceedings is achieved holistically and that it does not interfere with the administration of justice or the dignity and majesty of the court hearing the matter and/or impinge upon any rights of the litigants or witnesses.

As a pilot project, only cases of constitutional and national importance being argued for final hearing before the Constitution Bench be live-streamed initially. For this, it said, permission of the court concerned will have to be sought in writing in advance.
Consent of parties to the proceedings must be insisted upon, and if there is no unanimity between them, the court concerned can take the appropriate decision in the matter. The court concerned will also have the power to revoke permission at any stage of the proceedings.
There must be a reasonable time-delay (say 10 minutes) between the live court proceedings and the broadcast, in order to ensure that any information which ought not to be shown, as directed by the court, can be edited from being broadcast.
Till a full-fledged module and mechanism for live-streaming of the proceedings of the Supreme Court over the internet is evolved, it can be live-streamed in designated areas within the court via intranet.

What necessitated this?

Although courts in India are ordinarily open to all members of the public, sometimes they are denied the opportunity to witness the proceedings due to logistical issues and infrastructure restrictions. By providing ‘virtual’ access of live court proceedings to one and all, it will effectuate the right of access to justice or right to open justice and public trial, right to know the developments of law and including the right of justice at the doorstep of the litigants.
It will “reduce the public’s reliance on second-hand narratives to obtain information about important judgments of the court and the course of judicial hearings”. Society will be able to view court proceedings first-hand and form reasoned and educated opinions about the functioning of courts. This will help reduce misinformation and misunderstanding about the judicial process.

Significance of the move:

This is a giant step by the Supreme Court to move towards a regime of transparency.

Live streaming will deal head on with the problem of distance. Given that the court is located in New Delhi, many people cannot afford to be present physically in Supreme Court to follow the arguments, even if the case directly affects them in some way. In fact, even litigants are often unable to travel to court because of the cost and distance involved, leaving it entirely to their lawyers to run the case.
A live telecast of proceedings also has the potential to reduce unwarranted delays in the cases caused by the occasionally cavalier attitude of lawyers. With the client’s eye firmly on them, lawyers are likely to expedite cases. Further, this will provide an opportunity to young lawyers to showcase their talents to the world and has the potential to break the stranglehold of a select few over the legal profession.
Live streaming could act as a welcome check on the judiciary. With the public watching, there is every chance that there will be a reduction in the sometimes unnecessary oral comments that cause much controversy but have no judicial bearing.

What next?

Supreme Court Rules, 2013, will have to suitably amended to provide for the regulatory framework to incorporate the changes.

Besides, live telecast comes with some drawbacks. As seen in the Parliament, there is a tendency to grandstand among lawmakers, who want to show their electorate that they are indeed working hard. The court has to make sure proceedings are unaffected by the introduction of a new technology.

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Key features of the pilot project and significance of the project.

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