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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 8 July 2021

Contents

  1. SC: File status report on vacancies at CIC, SICs
  2. India – EU Cooperation in Agriculture sector
  3. More than 50% didn’t get nutrition under ICDS in Jharkhand

SC: File status report on vacancies at CIC, SICs

Context:

The Supreme Court sought status reports from the Centre and states on vacancies and pendency in the Central Information Commission and State Information Commissions.

Relevance:

GS-II: Polity and Governance (Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Central Information Commission (CIC)
  2. Functions of CIC
  3. State Information Commission
  4. Issues Highlighted by the SC
  5. Way Forward

Central Information Commission (CIC)

  • The Central Information Commission has been constituted with effect from 12-10-2005 under the Right to Information Act, 2005. Hence, CIC is a Statutory Body.
  • The jurisdiction of the Commission extends over all Central Public Authorities.
  • It was constituted to act upon complaints from those individuals who have not been able to submit information requests to a Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer due to either the officer not have been appointed, or because the respective Central Assistant Public Information Officer or State Assistant Public Information Officer refused to receive the application for information under the Right to Information Act.

Functions of CIC

  1. Order enquiry into any matter on reasonable grounds only.
  2. Secure compliance of its decisions from any public authority.
  3. Receive and inquire into a complaint from any person:
    1. Who has not received any response to his request for information within a specified time.
    2. Who deems the information given to him/her incomplete, false or misleading, and any other matter related to securing the information.
    3. Who has been unable to submit a request for information due to the non-appointment of an officer.
    4. Who considers the fees so charged unreasonable.
    5. Who was refused the information requested.
  1. The commission has the power to examine any record under the control of the public authority. All such records have to be given to the Commission during examination and nothing shall be withheld.
  2. During inquiries, the CIC has the powers of a civil court, such as the powers to:
    1. Summon and enforce the attendance of persons, and compel them to give oral or written evidence on oath and produce documents or things
    2. Require the discovery and inspection of documents
    3. Receive evidence on affidavit
    4. Requisition public records or copies from any office or court
    5. Issue summons for the examination of documents or witnesses
    6. Any other matter that may be prescribed
  3. The CIC also submits an annual report to the GOI on the implementations of the provisions of the Act. This report is then placed before both the Houses of Parliament.

State Information Commission

  • State Information Commissions (SIC) are constituted by the State Government.
  • It has one State Chief Information Commissioner (SCIC) and not more than 10 State Information Commissioners (SIC) to be appointed by the Governor on the recommendation of the Appointments Committee headed by the Chief Minister.

Issues Highlighted by the SC

  1. Delays and Backlogs: On average, the CIC takes 388 days (more than one year) to dispose of an appeal/complaint from the date it was filed before the commission. A report released last year has pointed out that more than 2.2 lakh Right to information cases are pending at the Central and State Information Commissions (ICs).
  2. No Penalties: The report found that the Government officials hardly face any punishment for violating the law. Penalties were imposed in only 2.2% of cases that were disposed of, despite previous analysis showing a rate of about 59% violations which should have triggered the process of penalty imposition
  3. Vacancy: Despite repeated directions from the court, there are still three vacancies in the CIC.
  4. Lack of Transparency: The criteria of selection, etc., nothing has been placed on record.

Way Forward

  • Democracy is all about the governance of the people, by the people and for the people. In order to achieve the third paradigm, the state needs to start acknowledging the importance of an informed public and the role that it plays in the country’s development as a nation. In this context, underlying issues related to RTI Act should be resolved, so that it can serve the information needs of society.
  • The role of information commissions is crucial especially during Covid-19 to ensure that people can obtain information on healthcare facilities, social security programs and delivery of essential goods and services meant for those in distress.
  • By its 2019 order, the apex court had passed a slew of directions to the Central and State governments to fill vacancies across Central and State Information Commissions in a transparent and timely manner.
  • Urgent digitization of records and proper record management is important as lack of remote access to records in the lockdown has been widely cited as the reason for not being able to conduct hearings of appeals and complaints by commissions.

-Source: Indian Express


India – EU Cooperation in Agriculture sector

Context:

Virtual meeting between Union Minister for Agriculture & Farmers Welfare of India and Member of European Commission-Agriculture was held recently.

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations (Foreign Policies, Treaties and Agreements affecting India’s Interests)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the European Commission (EC)
  2. Highlights of the India – European Commission meet
  3. India’s Points highlighted during the meet

Click Here to read more about the European Union

About the European Commission (EC)

  • The European Commission (EC) is an executive body of the European Union (EU), responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions, upholding the EU treaties and managing the day-to-day business of the EU.
  • The Commission is divided into departments known as Directorates-General (DGs) that can be likened to departments or ministries headed by a director-general who is responsible to a commissioner.
  • It operates as a cabinet government, with 28 members of the Commission. There is one member per member state. These members are proposed by member countries and European Parliament gives final approval to them.
  • One of the 28 members is the Commission President proposed by the European Council and elected by the European Parliament.

Highlights of the India – European Commission meet

India-EU Summit in July, 2020

  • The strong momentum of the India-European Union (EU) relations especially since the last India-EU Summit in July, 2020 was acknowledged in the meeting.
  • Indian Prime Minister had participated in the India-European Union (EU) Leaders’ Meeting in July 2020 and it was the first time that the EU hosted a meeting with India in the EU+27 format.
  • During the meet, India and EU agreed to relaunch free trade negotiations by resuming talks that were suspended for the Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA).
  • India and EU had launched talks for having a wide-ranging Free Trade Agreement (FTA), officially called broad-based BTIA, long ago in 2007.

 

EU Common Agriculture Policy (CAP)

  • The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), a common policy for all EU countries, is a partnership between agriculture and society, and between Europe and its farmers.
  • It aims to support farmers, improve agricultural productivity, ensure a stable supply of affordable food, safeguard EU farmers, tackle climate change and the sustainable management of natural resources etc.
  • It is managed and funded at European level from the resources of the EU’s budget.

EU Farm to Fork Strategy

  • The EU Farm to Fork Strategy aims to make food systems fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly and it is one of the key components of the European Green Deal. It aims to accelerate transition to a sustainable food system.
  • Reforms were undertaken by the EU in the CAP as well as the Farm to Fork Strategy to make agriculture green as well as sustainable.

United Nations Food System Summit 2021

  • The United Nations (UN) Secretary General has called for the first ever UN Food Systems Summit to be held in September 2021 to strategize the actions for positive change in Agri-food systems in the world to realize the vision of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

India’s Points highlighted during the meet

  • 70% of its rural households still depend primarily on agriculture for their livelihood, with 82% of farmers being small and marginal.
  • Agriculture Infrastructure Fund with a corpus of Rs One Lakh Crore for development of farm gate and agriculture marketing infrastructure in rural areas.
  • Scheme of formation of 10000 Farmer Produce Organizations (FPOs) to help small and marginal farmers in marketing of agricultural produce.
  • India raised the issue of fixing the Maximum Residual Limit (MRL) of Tricyclazole used in rice crop which has been a concern for India and is affecting India’s Basmati Rice Exports to the EU.

-Source: PIB


More than 50% didn’t get nutrition under ICDS in Jharkhand

Context:

  • More than 55% did not receive Supplementary Nutrition under Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) in Jharkhand even once in the first six months of 2021.
  • As per National Family Health Survey-4 data, every second child in the state is stunted and underweight and every third child is affected by stunting and every 10th child is affected from severe wasting and around 70% children are anemic.

Relevance:

GS-II: Social Justice (Welfare Schemes)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) – Govt. Schemes
  2. Six Schemes under Umbrella ICDS:

Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) – Govt. Schemes

  • Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), a Centrally-Sponsored scheme, is an Indian government welfare programme that provides food, preschool education, and primary healthcare to children under 6 years of age and their mothers.
  • The scheme was started in 1975 and aims at the holistic development of children and empowerment of mother.
  • The scheme primarily runs through the Anganwadi centers and the scheme is under the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
  • Objectives of ICDS are:
    1. To improve the nutritional and health status of children in the age-group 0-6 years;
    2. To lay the foundation for proper psychological, physical and social development of the child;
    3. To reduce the incidence of mortality, morbidity, malnutrition and school dropout;
    4. To achieve effective co-ordination of policy and implementation amongst the various departments to promote child development; and
    5. To enhance the capability of the mother to look after the normal health and nutritional needs of the child through proper nutrition and health education.
  • Services Provided by the ICDS are:
    1. Supplementary Nutrition (SNP)
    2. Health & Nutrition Check-Up
    3. Immunization
    4. Non-Formal Education for Children in Pre-School
    5. Health and Nutrition Education
    6. Referral services

Six Schemes under Umbrella ICDS:

  1. Anganwadi Services Scheme: A unique programme for early childhood care and development which benefits children in the age group of 0-6 years, pregnant women and lactating mothers.
  2. Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana: Provides cash incentive amounting to Rs.5,000/- in three installments directly to the Bank/Post Office Account of Pregnant Women and Lactating Mother (PW&LM) in DBT (Direct Benefit Transfer) Mode during pregnancy and lactation in response to individual fulfilling specific conditions.
  3. National Creche Scheme: Provides day care facilities to children of age group of 6 months to 6 years of working women for seven and half hours a day for 26 days in a month.
  4. Scheme for Adolescent Girls: Aims to empower and improve the social status of out of school girls in the age group 11-14 through nutrition, life skills and home skills.
  5. Child Protection Scheme: Aims to contribute to the improvement and well-being of children in difficult circumstances, as well as, reduction of vulnerabilities to situations and actions that lead to abuse, neglect, exploitation, abandonment and separation of children from parents.
  6. POSHAN Abhiyaan: Targets to reduce the level of stunting, under-nutrition, anemia and low birth weight babies by reducing mal-nutrition/undernutrition, anemia among young children as also, focus on adolescent girls, pregnant women and lactating mothers.

-Source: Indian Express

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