Union Government declared NSCN-K as terrorist organization under UAPA, 1967
The Union Government on 6 November 2015 declared militant outfit National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang (NSCN-K) and all its formation as a terrorist organisation. It was declared so under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), 1967.
The NSCN-K was declared a terrorist organisation after the outfit killed innocent civilians and security forces and engaged in other violent activities including the 4 June 2015 attack on the Army convoy in Chandel district of Manipur.
Earlier on 15 September 2015, NSCN-K was banned for five years under the same Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.
According to a Gazette notification, the NSCN-K is a militant outfit which came into existence in 1988 and is active along the Indo-Myanmar border.
About National Socialist Council of Nagaland
• The NSCN was established in 1980 with an aim of establishing a sovereign state of Nagalim by unifying all the areas inhabited by the Naga people in Northeast India and Myanmar.
• It was founded by Isak Chishi Swu, Thuingaleng Muivah and SS Khaplang opposing the Shillong Accord of 1975 signed by the then Naga National Council (NNC) with Union Government.
• In 1988, Naga nationalist Military group had split into two factions- NSCN-K led by SS Khaplang (a Myanmarese Naga) and the NSCN-IM jointly led by Isak Chishi Swu and Thuingaleng Muivah.
• In 2001, both factions had settled a ceasefire agreement with the Union government.
• NSCN-K has its headquarters in Taga in Myanmar and is estimated to have around 700-800 cadres and the same number of sophisticated weapons including rocket launchers.
First AMRIT outlet opened at AIIMS Delhi for selling affordable drugs
Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on 15 November 2015 launched the Affordable Medicines and Reliable Implants for Treatment (AMRIT) pharmacy outlet at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi.
The purpose of the first of its kind outlet is to reduce the expenditure incurred by patients on treatment of cancer and heart diseases by 50 to 60 percent and has the following features
• It is a retail pharmacy outlet that sells drugs and implants for the two ailments-cancer and heart diseases-at highly discounted rates.
• It would be selling 202 cancer and 186 cardio-vascular drugs and 148 types of cardiac implants at very affordable prices.
• It has been floated in a tie-up with government-owned HLL Lifecare Ltd (HLL).
Based on the outcome of the AIIMS outlet, this initiative will be taken to other central government hospitals and Regional Cancer Centres in partnership with the HLL.
Significance of AMRIT
The AMRIT initiative has been launched amid statistics that peg Indians diagnosed with cancer at 7 lakh every year. About 2.8 million people have cancer at any point of time and 5 lakh die of the disease each year.
Further, the annual figure of women being diagnosed with breast cancer in India is 145000, as per the WHO. Further, a significant number of patients (nearly over 50 per cent) stop visiting hospitals after two or three cycles of chemotherapy due to unaffordable costs.
Ministry of Railways issued Letter of Award to GE Global Sourcing India Pvt Limited
Ministry of Railways on 9 November 2015 issued a Letter of Award (LoA) to USA-based GE Global Sourcing India Pvt Limited for setting up of Diesel Locomotive Factory (DLF) at Marhowra, Saran district, Bihar and for procurement and maintenance of mainline Diesel Electric Locomotives.
With this, a Joint Venture Company between Union Ministry of Railways and GE Global Sourcing India Pvt Limited will be formed soon to construct and run the factory. The factory will manufacture modern diesel electric locomotives of 4500 HP and 6000 HP to Indian railways.
The Railways Ministry will hold 26 percent equity in the JV Company subject to a maximum of 100 crore rupees. The factory is expected to be established within a period of three years at a cost of about 1000 crore rupees.
Union Government signed Loan Agreement with Asian Development Bank
The Union Government on 9 November 2015 signed 273 million US dollar loan agreement with Asian Development Bank (ADB) to continue improving rural roads in the States of Assam, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal.
The loan agreement was signed by S Selvakumar, Joint Secretary (Bilateral Cooperation), Department of Economic Affairs and Teresa Kho, Country Director of ADB.
The loan represents the third tranche, which is also the last tranche of the 800 million US dollars financing facility under the Rural Connectivity Investment Program. The loan will help in constructing over 6000 kilometers of all-weather rural roads and will benefit over 4200 rural habitations.
The Union Ministry of Rural Development (MORD) is the executing agency of the project at the central level, while the State Governments of Assam, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, and West Bengal will be handling the overall implementation at the respective State level.
The third tranche is expected to be completed by December 2017. The implementing agencies at the State level will be the respective State Rural Roads Development Agencies.
This loan will also be used to make further investments as well as supporting improved road design, road safety and asset management measures and training with women actively involved in all aspects.
Union Government launched E-Pathshala, Saransh, Shaala Siddhi Portals
The Union Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani on 7 November 2015 launched the e-Pathshala, Saaransh and National Programme on School Standards and Evaluation Framework (Shala Siddhi) web portals/ mobile apps.
These portals were launched during the edNEXT, the National Conference on ICT in School Education that was held at New Delhi. During the Conference, Shala Darpan, MDM-IVRS and Ekta project from Alwar, Rajasthan were also show-cased.
E-Pathshala web portal
• E-Pathshala is a web portal which hosts educational resources for Students, Teachers, Parents, researchers and educators.
• It contains textbooks and other e-books as E-Pub 3.0 and Flipbooks in English, Hindi and Urdu.
• It is available through especially developed mobile app interface on Android, IOS and windows platforms for wider access.
Shaala Siddhi web portal
• Shaala Siddhi web portal is a comprehensive instrument for school evaluation which enables the schools to evaluate their performance in more focused and strategic manner.
• The web-portal will help all schools to assess themselves and the results can be seen by all enabling them to provide feedback.
• The initiative has already been successfully piloted in four districts of Tamil Nadu.
• Saransh is a tool which allows the schools to identify areas of improvement in students, teachers and curriculum to facilitate and implement change.
• The platform is presently available for classes 9th to 12th and provides a comprehensive overview of standard 10th performance since 2007 and standard 12th performance since 2009 till the current academic session.
• Presently, results of CBSE are available on this portal/app.
The event also showcased other ICT initiatives including the IVR (Interactive Voice Response) system to monitor the daily implementation of Mid Day Meal scheme and Shaala Darpan, an integrated platform to address all academic and administrative requirements of schools, teachers, parents and students.
Union Government issued notification for implementation of OROP
Union Government on 7 November 2015 issued the notification regarding implementation of One Rank One Pension (OROP) in respect of Defence Forces personnel.
The notification is in tune with the modalities for implementation announced on 5 September 2015.
Features of OROP scheme
• Pension will be re-fixed for all pensioners retiring in the same rank and with the same length of service as the average of minimum and maximum pension in 2013.
• The benefit will be given with effect from 1 July 2014 to the ex-service men of all the three forces.
• Those drawing pensions above the average will be protected.
• In future, the pension would be re-fixed every 5 years.
• Arrears will be paid in four half-yearly instalments.
• All widows, including war widows, will be paid arrears in one instalment.
• Personnel who voluntarily retire will not be covered under the scheme.
• The estimated cost to the exchequer would be 8000 to 10000 crore at present, and will increase further in future.
What is OROP?
In simple terms, OROP implies that uniform pension be paid to the armed forces personnel retiring in the same rank with the same length of service, regardless of their date of retirement.
At present, ex-servicemen receive differential pensions as it is calculated on the basis of their salary at the time of their retirement.
Differential payments occur as the salaries of personnel are frequently revised on the basis of pay commission’s recommendations.
For example, personnel who retired in 1990 receive fewer pensions compared to their juniors who retired in 2006 though they retired at the same rank with same length of service.
Union Government constituted Empowered Committee to approve schemes under Nirbhaya Fund
The Union Government on 4 November 2015 constituted an Empowered Committee to approve schemes proposed under the Nirbhaya Fund.
The Committee comprises officials from various ministries, including Women and Child Development, Home Affairs, Road Transport and Railways.
The Secretary of the Women and Child Development Ministry will be the chairperson of the committee.
The Members of the Empowered Committee may nominate an officer not below the rank of Joint Secretary as representative to the Empowered Committee of Officers.
The Empowered Committee of Officers will take decision on the sanction of schemes/projects from Nirbhaya Fund within 15 days of the date of receipt of the proposal by the Ministry of Women & Child Development.
Earlier in April 2015, the Union Government made the Women and Child Development (WCD) Ministry as the nodal agency for the Nirbhaya Fund in place of Union Home Ministry.
The Nirbhaya Fund has a total of 3000 crore rupees fund as 1000 crore each was allocated to it in 2014-15 and 2015-16 on top of 1000 crore rupees initial corpus.
President Pranab Mukherjee launched research project Imprint India
President Pranab Mukherjee on 5 November 2015 launched Imprint India, a Pan-IIT and IISc joint initiative.
The project encourages the Indian technical institutions to develop a blueprint for research to crack major engineering and technology challenges relevant to the nation.
Imprint India is a 1000 crore rupees project, which aspires to:
• Identify areas of immediate relevance to society requiring innovation
• Direct scientific research into identified areas
• Ensure higher funding support for research into these areas
• Measure outcomes of the research effort with reference to impact on the standard of living in the rural/urban areas
The Imprint India will focus on 10 themes and each will be coordinated by one IIT/IISc. The themes are:
1. Health Care - IIT Kharagpur
2. Computer Science and ICT – IIT Kharagpur
3. Advance Materials – IIT Kanpur
4. Water Resources and River systems – IIT Kanpur
5. Sustainable Urban Design – IIT Roorkee
6. Defence – IIT Madras
7. Manufacturing – IIT Madras
8. Nano-technology Hardware- IIT Bombay
9. Environmental Science and Climate Change – IISc, Bangalore
10. Energy Security – IIT Bombay
On the occasion, Prime Minister Narendra Modi released the IMPRINT India brochure and hand over the first copy to the President Mukherjee.
Besides, an Inter Ministerial Group (IMG) is being set up as the single window mechanism. The group will shortlist research projects by leading research and technology institutes. It will also approve funds for the same.
IMG will comprise of members from multiple ministries, such as Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD), Ministry of Defence, Department of Science & Technology, Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Rural Development and so on.
Justice MB Shah-headed SIT on Black Money submitted its third report
Special Investigation Team (SIT) on Black Money on 3 November 2015 submitted its third report to the Union Ministry of Finance. The SIT is headed by Justice MB Shah and the report dealt with shell companies and beneficial ownership.
The SIT found that over 2600 persons are directors on more than 20 companies and at least 20 companies are operating from the same address at 345 places which indicate the violation of Companies Act, 2013.
To correct the situation, the SIT recommended for has suggested proactive detection of creation of shell companies and deterrent penal action against persons involved in such activities.
The Team has also requested the Ministry of Corporate affairs to take necessary action with respect to violation of the Companies Act.
About SIT on Black Money
The SIT was constituted by the Union Cabinet in May 2014 on the directions of the Supreme Court to go deeper into the cases of black money where Indians have stashed their assets abroad and also suggest policy measures to combat the illegal activity.
While 11-member committee is headed by Justice MB Shah, Justice Arijit Pasayat is its Vice Chairman.
Vikalp Scheme launched for confirmed accommodation to waitlisted passengers in alternate trains
Indian Railways on 1 November 2015 launched Alternate Train Accommodation Scheme (ATAS) called as Vikalp to provide confirmed accommodation to waitlisted passengers in alternate trains.
The scheme was launched on pilot basis for the tickets booked through internet on Delhi-Lucknow and Delhi-Jammu sectors of Northern Railway. It will be operational for six months.
The purpose of the scheme is to provide confirmed accommodation to waitlisted passengers and also to ensure optimal utilisation of available accommodation.
Under this scheme, wait listed passengers of a train can opt for confirmed accommodation in alternate trains.
However, ATAS opted passengers who remain fully waitlisted after charting will only be considered for allotment in the alternate train.
WCD Ministry launched initiative to spread awareness about Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Scheme
The Union Ministry of Women and Child Development on 29 October 2015 launched a new initiative to spread awareness about the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP) Scheme.
The initiative was launched in partnership with Celltick Mobile Media India Pvt. Ltd. to generate awareness about BBBP Scheme to an estimated 100 million mobile users in India.
Keeping in mind the steady decline in the Child Sex Ratio (CSR) across India, with 918 females born per 1000 males, as per the Census of 2011, Celltick will work towards improving the Child Sex Ratio in India and will promote the issue of gender equality and significance of educating daughters to mobile users in India.
Through the Celltick managed mobile services based on its patented Live Screen platform, available to over 100 million users in India, the users will get interactive messages on their device’s homescreen, which will enable ease of use in accessing information about BBBP. The platform will make sure to reach users based on their location as well as their language of preference.
The BBBP campaign will be the first time that Celltick teamed up with the Government of India for a social initiative.
The BBBP launched on 22 January 2015 aims at improving the Child Sex Ratio CSR through multi-sectoral interventions including prevention of gender biased sex selection and promoting girls’ education and her holistic empowerment.
Union Finance Ministry launched E-Sahyog Pilot Project to facilitate Taxpayers
The Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on 27 October 2015 launched the e-Sahyog pilot project of the Income-Tax Department to facilitate taxpayers by reducing their need to physically appear before tax authorities.
The e-Sahyog project is aimed at reducing compliance cost, especially for small taxpayers.
Highlights of the e-Sahyog project
• The objective of e-Sahyog is to provide an online mechanism to resolve mismatches in Income-tax returns of those assesses whose returns have been selected for scrutiny, without visiting the Income Tax Office.
• The Income-Tax Department will provide an end to end e-service using SMS, e-mails to inform the tax assesses of the mismatch.
• The taxpayers will simply need to visit the e-filing portal and log in with their user-ID and password to view mismatch related information and submit online response on the issue.
• The responses submitted online by the taxpayers will be processed and if the response and other information are found satisfactory as per automated closure rules, the issue will be treated as closed.
• The taxpayers can check the updated status by logging in to the e-filing portal.
Inauguration of drive to behold special PAN camps in remote areas
The Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley also inaugurated a drive to provide public service at peoples’ door step by holding special PAN camps in remote areas. Under this campaign, special PAN camps were held at forty- three remote, semi urban and rural locations across India.
More such camps will be held throughout the year. The camps will ease the burden of compliance for persons residing in remote, semi urban and rural areas who wish to enter into transactions of purchase or sale above rupees one lakh and will be required to quote PAN.
Financial powers of Health Institutions enhanced to 5 lakh rupees per patient under Rashtriya Arogya Nidhi
Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on 26 October 2015 enhanced delegated financial powers of designated Central Government Hospitals and institutes under the Rashtriya Arogya Nidhi (RAN) scheme.
After the enhancement, only cases for financial assistance beyond 5 lakh rupees would now be required to be referred to the Ministry from the earlier upper limit of 2 lakh rupees per patient.
The move is aimed at curtailing procedural delays for treatment, which would bring relief to thousands of patients annually.
About Rashtriya Arogya Nidhi
• It was set up in 1997 to provide financial assistance to patients, living below poverty line (BPL).
• Patients suffering from major life threatening diseases related to heart, liver, kidney and cancer cases, etc., are covered under the scheme.
• Patients receive medical treatment only at any of the designated super specialty Government hospitals / institutes or other Government hospitals.
• Revolving Funds have been set up in 12 Central Government hospitals/institutes and amount up to 50 lakh rupees is placed at their disposal for providing financial assistance.
India’s first AC double-decker Shatabdi train to run on Mumbai-Goa route
The Ministry of Railways on 23 October 2015 announced that India’s first AC double-decker Shatabdi train will soon run between Mumbai and Goa route.
As per the announcement, the proposed train between Mumbai and Goa will cater to growing demand by tourists that come to Goa from all over the globe.
The first double-decker air conditioned train between Howrah and Dhanbad was flagged off in October 2011. Since then, the service is operational between many cities, including Ahmedabad-Mumbai, Chennai–Bangalore, Delhi-Jaipur and Delhi-Lucknow.
Shatabdi Express, which is considered prestigious by the Indian Railways, runs over short to medium distances.
The first Shatabdi, which means centenary in Hindi language, train was started in 1988 by Madhav Rao Scindia to commemorate the centenary of Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru's Birthday. The train operated from New Delhi to Jhansi, and was later extended to Bhopal.
Defence Ministry approved induction of women as IAF fighter pilots
Ministry of Defence on 24 October 2015 approved the induction of women into the combat stream of Indian Air Force (IAF). This approval clears the path for women to fly warplanes for the first time.
As per the decision, first batch of women pilots will be selected from the batch which is presently undergoing flying training at the Air Force Academy. They will be commissioned into the IAF in June 2016; thereafter they will undergo advanced training for a year and would enter the fighter cockpit by June 2017.
Earlier in first week of October 2015, the Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha at IAF's Hindon air base near Delhi on the occasion of 83rd Air Force Day parade announced a major policy shift in IAF, which intends to allow women to become fighter pilots.
At present, around 1500 women serve in the Indian Air Force of which around 90 as pilots and about 15 as navigators. IAF had women in seven areas of administration, logistics, meteorology, navigation, education, aeronautical engineering mechanical and electrical and accounts.
Earlier, the Air Force refused to allow women in fighter squadrons because of the fears of torture and rape, if they were shot down in combat.
Union Government cleared first batch of AMRUT projects for 89 cities worth 2786 crore rupees
The Union Ministry of Urban Development on 22 October 2015 gave its nod to the first batch of state level Action Plans under Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT). The approved Action Plans have a total of 143 projects in 89 AMRUT cities in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan.
The State Annual Action Plans (SAAP) worth 2786.28 crore rupees were cleared by inter-ministerial Apex Committee of AMRUT for 89 cities in the three states.
It is for the first time that the Urban Development Ministry approved state level plans unlike the past practice of appraising and approving individual projects.
The plans include 47 schemes relating to ensuring water supply connections and augmenting water supply. In addition, they also include 31 projects for expanding sewerage network services in identified cities and towns.
Key Points of the Action Plans
• Gujarat proposed SAAP entailed an investment of 1204.42 crore rupees, Rajasthan entailed an investment of 919 crore rupees and Andhra Pradesh proposed an investment of 662.86 crore rupees.
• Gujarat will take up sewerage projects in 25 AMRUT cities at a cost of 916 crore rupees and water supply schemes in 11 cities with an investment of 233.65 crore rupees.
• Rajasthan will take up sewerage schemes in 6 cities at a cost of 555 crore rupees and water supply projects in 10 cities at a cost of 344 crore rupees.
• Andhra Pradesh will focus on water supply in 26 AMRUT cities at a cost of 646.29 crore rupees and provision of green spaces and parks in 30 cities at a cost of 16.57 crore rupees.
• Union Government will provide an assistance of 50 percent of project cost for cities with a population of up to 10 lakhs each and one third of project cost for cities with a population of above 10 lakhs each.
SC declared National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) unconstitutional
The five-judge Constitutional Bench of Supreme Court (SC) in a collective order on 16 October 2015 ruled that 99th Constitutional Amendment Act and the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act, 2014 is unconstitutional and void.
It also upheld the Collegium system that existed before the NJAC as operative. Collegium System was established by the SC in 1993 for the appointment of judges to the higher judiciary.
Moreover, the apex court rejected the plea of the Union Government that the petition challenging NJAC Act be referred to a larger Bench in light of the two 'Judges Cases' of 1993 and 1998 and scheduling a hearing on November 3 to improve the Collegium system.
Although the NJAC Act was upheld by Justice J Chelameswar but he recused himself from passing any judgment on the NJAC statute as the majority of four had already held it unconstitutional.
The five-judge bench comprised of Justices JS Khehar, J Chelameswar, Madan B Lokur, Kurian Joseph and AK Goel.