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26th Eastern Zonal Council Meeting: Key Highlights

Context:

The Union Home Minister and Minister of Cooperation chaired the 26th meeting of the Eastern Zonal Council in Patna, Bihar.

Relevance:

GS II- Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. 26th Eastern Zonal Council Meeting: Key Highlights
  1. What are Zonal Councils?
  2. Composition
  3. Objectives of the zonal councils

26th Eastern Zonal Council Meeting: Key Highlights

Increased Frequency of Zonal Council Meetings:

  • Over the last 9 years, from June 2014 to the present, a total of 56 meetings, averaging 6.2 meetings per year, were conducted despite challenges, including the Covid-19 pandemic.

Resolution of Issues:

  • The Zonal Council meetings, along with their Standing Committees, have successfully resolved 1157 issues, demonstrating their effectiveness in addressing regional challenges.

National Importance Agenda:

  • Zonal Council meetings have addressed various issues of national significance, reflecting a comprehensive agenda.
  • Key topics include initiatives like Poshan Abhiyan to combat child malnutrition, strategies for reducing school dropout rates, operationalization of Fast Track Special Courts for prompt handling of rape cases, ensuring the presence of Banks/India Post Payment Bank branches within 5 km of each village, and the establishment of two lakh new Primary Agricultural Credit Societies (PACSs) with a focus on strengthening existing ones.

What are Zonal Councils?

  • Zonal Councils are advisory councils and are made up of the states of India that have been grouped into five zones to foster cooperation among them. These were set up vide Part-III of the States Reorganization Act, 1956.
  • The Zonal Councils are the statutory (and not the constitutional) bodies.
    • They are established by an Act of the Parliament, that is, States Reorganization Act of 1956.
  • The act divided the country into five zones (Northern, Central, Eastern, Western and Southern) and provided a zonal council for each zone.
  • The Union Home Minister is the common chairman of the five Zonal Councils.
  • Each chief minister acts as a vice-chairman of the council by rotation, holding office for a period of one year at a time.
  • While forming these zones, several factors have been taken into account which include  the natural divisions of the country, the river systems and means of communication, the cultural and linguistic affinity and the requirements of economic development, security and law and order.
  • In addition to the above Zonal Councils, a North-Eastern Council was created by a separate Act of Parliament i.e. the North-Eastern Council Act of 1971.
  • These are advisory bodies that will discuss and make recommendations with regard to any matter of common interest in the field of economic and social planning between the Centre and States.
Each zonal council consists of the following members
  • Home minister of Central government.
  • Chief ministers of all the States in the zone.
  • Two other ministers from each state in the zone.
  • Administrator of each union territory in the zone.

Composition:

  • The Northern Zonal Council: It comprises the States of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan, National Capital Territory of Delhi and Union Territory of Chandigarh,
  • The Central Zonal Council: It comprises the States of Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh,
  • The Eastern Zonal Council: It comprises the States of Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, Sikkim and West Bengal,
  • The Western Zonal Council: It comprises the States of Goa, Gujarat, Maharashtra and the Union Territories of Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli,
  • The Southern Zonal Council: It comprises the States of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and the Union Territory of Puducherry.

Objectives of the zonal councils:

  • To achieve an emotional integration of the country.
  • To help in arresting the growth of acute state-consciousness, regionalism, linguism and particularistic trends.
  • To help in removing the after-effects of separation in some cases so that the process of re- organisation, integration and economic advancement may synchronise.
  • To enable the Centre and states to cooperate with each other in social and economic matters and exchange ideas and experience in order to evolve uniform policies.
  • To cooperate with each other in the successful and speedy execution of major development projects.
  • To secure some kind of political equilibrium between different regions of the country.

-Source: Indian Express


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