Current Affairs 23 November
Kartarpur Sahib pilgrim corridorIn a significant decision, the Union Cabinet approved the building and development of the Kartarpur corridor from Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district to the international border, in order to facilitate pilgrims from India to visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur on the banks of the Ravi river, in Pakistan, where Shri Guru Nanak Devji spent eighteen years. Pilgrims would then be able to visit the holy shrine throughout the year.
The Kartarpur corridor will be implemented as an integrated development project with Government of India funding, to provide smooth and easy passage, with all the modern amenities.
Government of India will put in place suitable facilities for smooth passage of pilgrims. Government of Pakistan will be urged to recognize the sentiments of the Sikh community and to develop a corridor with suitable facilities in their territory as well.
The gurdwara in Kartarpur stands on the bank of the Ravi, about 120 km northeast of Lahore. It was here that Guru Nanak assembled a Sikh community and lived for 18 years until his death in 1539. The shrine is visible from the Indian side, as Pakistani authorities generally trim the elephant grass that would otherwise obstruct the view. Indian Sikhs gather in large numbers for darshan from the Indian side, and binoculars are installed at Gurdwara Dera Baba Nanak.
Access to gurdwaras in Pakistan:
Sikh jathas from India travel to Pakistan on four occasions every year — for Baisakhi, the martyrdom day of Guru Arjan Dev, the death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, and the birthday of Guru Nanak Dev. These Indian pilgrims are given access to all gurdwaras in Pakistan.
The “corridor” would bring Pak infrastructure right up to the Indian border. Over the past year, gurdwaras in Pakistan have been used for a pro-Khalistan campaign. Earlier this year, a gurdwara displayed posters and distributed pamphlets for the so-called “Sikh Referendum 2020”, and Pakistan denied permission to the Indian envoy and diplomats to visit it. Pakistan’s intent also remains suspect, and Indian officials are wary of the corridor being misused by both state and non-state actors in that country.
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: Location and significance of the corridor, issues involved in its construction.
SHe-BoxThe Ministry of Women and Child Development has linked SHe-Box, the online portal to report complaints of Sexual Harassment at Workplace, to all the Central Ministries, Departments and 653 districts across 33 States/Union Territories.
For prompt disposal of complaints on SHe-Box, each case goes directly to the central/ state authority concerned having jurisdiction to take action in the matter. Cases on She-Box can be monitored by the complainants and Ministry WCD, reducing the time taken in case disposal.
What is it? It is an online complaint management system for registering complaints related to sexual harassment at workplace. It was launched by the Ministry of Women and Child Development. The complaint management system has been developed to ensure the effective implementation of Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act (the SH Act), 2013.
How it works? Once a complaint is submitted to the portal, it will be directly sent to the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) of the concerned Ministry/Department/PSU/Autonomous Body etc. having jurisdiction to inquire into the complaint. Through this portal, WCD as well as complainant can monitor the progress of inquiry conducted by the ICC.
Significance of the portal:
This portal is an initiative to provide a platform to women working or visiting any office of Central Government (Central Ministries, Departments, Public Sector Undertakings, Autonomous Bodies and Institutions etc.) to file complaints related to sexual harassment at workplace under the SH Act. Those who had already filed a written complaint with the concerned Internal Complaint Committee (ICC) constituted under the SH Act are also eligible to file their complaint through this portal. It is also an effort to provide speedier remedy to women facing sexual harassment at workplace as envisaged under the SH Act.
Sub-categorization of Other Backward ClassesCabinet approves extension of the term of the Commission to examine the issue of Sub-categorization of Other Backward Classes in the Central List till 31st May 2019.
Terms of references of the Commission are as follows:
To examine the extent of inequitable distribution of benefits of reservation among the castes/ communities included in the broad category of OBCs, with reference to the OBCs included in the Central list.
To work out the mechanism, criteria, norms and parameters, in a scientific approach, for sub-categorization within such OBCs.
To take up the exercise of identifying the respective castes/communities/ sub-castes/ synonyms in the Central List of OBCs and classifying them into their respective sub-categories.
Is sub-categorisation permissible under the law?
The Supreme Court in its order in Indra Sawhney and others vs. Union of India observed that there is no Constitutional or legal bar to a State categorizing backward classes as backward or more backward and had further observed that if a State chooses to do it (sub-categorization), it is not impermissible in law.
How are OBC reservations offered at present?
At present, there is a single Central OBC list, with entries from each State. People belonging to all of these castes can seek reservation from within the single 27% OBC reservation pie for Central government jobs and Central educational institutions. Nine States, however, have already sub-categorised OBCs. These are Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Puducherry, Karnataka, Haryana, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Bihar, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. OBC reservation became a reality after the implementation of the Mandal Commission report, which categorised many castes as constituting backward classes and deserving of quotas. New castes have been added to the list over the years.
Need for subcategorization:
Sub categorization of the OBCs will ensure that the more backward among the OBC communities can also access the benefits of reservation for educational institutions and government jobs.
At present, many feel that the more advanced OBC castes corner the lion’s share of the benefits and have become influential. Not only will such a move offer more opportunities to the most backward castes among the OBCs but also give the government and the ruling party an opportunity to carve out a new political constituency.
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: Constitutional provisions on Backward Classes, need for sub- categorization and its significance, issues associated.
Allied and Healthcare Professions Bill, 2018The Union Cabinet has approved the Allied and Healthcare Professions Bill, 2018 for regulation and standardisation of education and services by allied and healthcare professionals.
Highlights of the Bill:
It provides for the Establishment of a Central and corresponding State Allied and HealthcareCouncils; 15 major professional categories including 53 professions in Allied and Healthcare streams.
The Bill provides for Structure, Constitution, Composition and Functions of the Central Council and State Councils, g. Framing policies andstandards, Regulation of professional conduct, Creation and maintenanceof live Registers, provisions for common entry and exit examinations, etc.
The Central Council will comprise 47 members, of which 14 members shall be ex-officio representing diverse and related roles and functions andremaining 33 shall be non-ex-officio members who mainly represent the 15professional categories.
The State Councils are also envisioned to mirror the Central Council,comprising 7 ex-officio and 21 non-ex officio members and Chairperson tobe elected from amongst the non-ex officio members.
Professional Advisory Bodies under Central and State Councils will examine issues independently and provide recommendations relating to specific recognised categories.
The Bill will also have an overriding effect on any other existing law for any of the covered professions.
The State Council will undertake recognition of allied and healthcare institutions.
Offences and Penalties clause have been included in the Bill to check malpractices.
The Bill also empowers the Central and State Governments to make rules.
Central Govt. also has the power to issue directions to the Council, to make regulations and to add or amend the schedule.
Major Impact, including employment generation potential:
Bring all existing allied and healthcare professionals on board during thefirst few of years from the date of establishment of the Council.
Opportunity to create qualified, highly skilled and competent jobs inhealthcare by enabling professionalism of the allied and healthcare workforce.
High quality, multi-disciplinary care in line with the vision of AyushmanBharat, moving away from a ‘doctor led’ model to a ‘care accessible and team based’ model.
Opportunity to cater to the global demand (shortage) of healthcareworkforce which is projected to be about 15 million by the year 2030, asper the WHO Global Workforce, 2030 report.
Number of beneficiaries:
It is estimated that the Allied and Healthcare Professions Bill, 2018 will directly benefit around 8-9 Lakh existing Allied and Healthcare related professionals in the country and several other graduating professionals joining workforce annually and contributing to the health system. However, since this Bill is directed to strengthen the healthcare delivery system at large, it may be said that the entire population of the country and the health sector as a whole will be benefited by this Bill.
Need for this legislation:
Allied and Healthcare Professionals (A&HPs) constitute an important element of the health human resource network, and the skilled and efficient Allied and Healthcare Professionals (A&HPs) can reduce the cost of care and dramatically improve the accessibility to quality driven healthcare services.
Though such professionals have existed in the Indian healthcare system for many decades, a considerable gap in the allied and healthcare space is because of a lack of a comprehensive regulatory framework and absence of standards for education and training of A&HPs. The Bill thus seeks to establish a robust regulatory framework which will play the role of a standard-setter and regulator for Allied and Healthcare professions.
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: Key features of the Bill and Significance of Allied and Healthcare Professionals (A&HPs) and the challenges they face.
“Atmosphere & Climate Research-Modelling Observing Systems & Services (ACROSS)” schemeThe Cabinet Committee has approved continuation of the nine sub-schemes of the umbrella scheme “Atmosphere & Climate Research-Modelling Observing Systems & Services (ACROSS)” during 2017-2020.
The Ministry of Earth Sciences has a mandate to carry out research and development activities to develop and improve capability to forecast weather, climate and natural hazard related phenomena. Towards this direction, MoES has taken several initiatives to formulate specific schemes like weather and climate modelling, monsoon-research, climate change science & climate services etc.
These schemes involve multi-institutes wherein each unit has a designated role for accomplishing the aforesaid tasks. As a result, all these schemes with specific objectives and budget are implemented in an integrated manner and are put together under the umbrella scheme “ACROSS”.
ACROSS scheme pertains to the atmospheric science programs of the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES).
It addresses different aspects of weather and climate services, which includes warnings for cyclone, storm surges, heat waves, thunderstorms etc.
Each of these aspects is incorporated as nine sub-schemes under the umbrella scheme “ACROSS” and is implemented in an integrated.
The ACROSS scheme consists of nine sub-programmes which are multi disciplinary and multi institutional in nature and will be implemented in an integrated manner.
As the objective of the ACROSS scheme is to provide a reliable weather and climate forecast for betterment of society, the scheme will aim at improving skill of weather and climate forecast through sustained observations, intensive R & D.
Benefits of the Scheme:
The scheme will provide improved weather, climate and ocean forecast and services, thereby ensuring transfer of commensurate benefits to the various services.
It will also provide a sizable number of scientific and technical staff along with requisite administrative support, thereby generating employment.
To ensure last-mile connectivity of the weather based services to the end -user, a large number of agencies like the Krishi Vigyana Kendras of ICAR, Universities and local municipalities are roped in thus generating employment opportunities to many people.
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: Highlights and significance of the scheme.