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11 October Current Affairs

Competition Commission of India

In News:

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has amended the Combination Regulations. This amendment inter alia provide certainty & transparency and expedites faster disposal of combination cases before CCI.

Latest amendments:

The provisions of the Competition Act, 2002 (“Act”) relating to the regulation of combinations as well as the Combination Regulations have been in force with effect from 1st June 2011.

A key change brought about by the present amendments is that the parties to combinations can now submit remedies voluntarily in response to the notice issued under Section 29(1) of the Act. If such remedies are considered sufficient to address the perceived competition harm, the combination can be approved. This amendment is expected to expedite disposal of such combination cases.

In another significant amendment, where the notice is found to exhibit significant information gaps, parties to combinations are allowed to withdraw the notice and refile the same. With this amendment, the parties could address the deficiencies without facing an invalidation by CCI. Further, fee already paid in respect of such notice shall be adjusted against the fee payable in respect of new notice, if the refiling is done within a period of 3 months.

Apart from these, certain consequential and other clarificatory changes have also been made in the Combination Regulations.

About Competition Commission Of India:

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) was established under the Competition Act, 2002 for the administration, implementation and enforcement of the Act, and was duly constituted in March 2009. Chairman and members are appointed by the central government.

The following are the objectives of the Commission:

  • To prevent practices having adverse effect on competition.
  • To promote and sustain competition in markets.
  • To protect the interests of consumers.
  • To ensure freedom of trade.

Functions of the commission:

It is the duty of the Commission to eliminate practices having adverse effect on competition, promote and sustain competition, protect the interests of consumers and ensure freedom of trade in the markets of India.

The Commission is also required to give opinion on competition issues on a reference received from a statutory authority established under any law and to undertake competition advocacy, create public awareness and impart training on competition issues.

The Competition Act:

The Competition Act, 2002, as amended by the Competition (Amendment) Act, 2007, prohibits anti-competitive agreements, abuse of dominant position by enterprises and regulates combinations (acquisition, acquiring of control and M&A), which causes or likely to cause an appreciable adverse effect on competition within India.

Source: The Hindu

National Council for Vocational Education and Training (NCVET)

In News:

The Union Cabinet has approved the merger of the existing regulatory institutions in the skills space – National Council for Vocational Training (NCVT) and the National Skill Development Agency (NSDA) into the National Council for Vocational Education and Training (NCVET).

Functions:

NCVET will regulate the functioning of entities engaged in vocational education and training, both long-term and short-term and establish minimum standards for the functioning of such entities. The primary functions of NCVET will include:

  • Recognition and regulation of awarding bodies, assessment bodies and skill related information providers.
  • Approval of qualifications developed by awarding bodies and Sector Skill Councils (SSCs).
  • Indirect regulation of vocational training institutes through awarding bodies and assessment agencies.
  • Research and information dissemination.
  • Grievance redressal.

Composition:

The Council would be headed by a Chairperson and will have Executive and Non-Executive Members.

Benefits:

This institutional reform will lead to improvement in quality and market relevance of skill development programs lending credibility to vocational education and training encouraging greater private investment and employer participation in the skills space.

This in turn will help achieve the twin objectives of enhancing aspirational value of vocational education and of increasing skilled manpower furthering the Prime Minister’s agenda of making India the skill capital of the world.

Being a regulator of India’s skill ecosystem, NCVET will have a positive impact on each individual who is a part of vocational education and training in the country. The idea of skill-based education will be seen in a more inspirational manner which would further encourage students to apply for skill-based educational courses.

This is also expected to facilitate the ease of doing business by providing a steady supply of skilled workforce to the industry and services.

Need:

A need was felt for an overarching regulatory authority which could tend to all aspects of short-term and long-term skill-based training. In view of this, NCVET is envisaged as an institution which will perform the regulatory functions so far vested in NCVT and NSDA. Regulatory functions currently being carried out by the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) through the Sector Skill Councils (SSCs) will also be housed in the NCVET.

Facts for Prelims:

The National Skill Development Agency (NSDA) is an autonomous body under the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship. It coordinates and harmonizes the skill development efforts of the Indian government and the private sector to achieve the skilling targets of the 12th Plan document and beyond.

The NSDA’s role is also to anchor the National Skills Qualifications Framework (NSQF) and facilitate the setting up of professional certifying bodies in addition to the existing ones.

Source: PIB

International Court of Arbitration

In News:

The NITI Aayog and ICC International Court of Arbitration had recently organised a Workshop on Best Practices in International Arbitration in New Delhi.

Details

The workshop is part of on-going efforts to institutionalize and streamline dispute resolution to make India a hub for doing business. It encourages and highlights the need for understanding and implementing arbitration across the spectrum of commercial contracts.

Efforts by Government of India in this regard- Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Bill, 2018:

The Lok Sabha has passed the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Bill, 2018. It will amend the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996. The Act contains provisions to deal with domestic and international arbitration, and defines the law for conducting conciliation proceedings.

What is Arbitration?

Arbitration is a settlement of dispute between two parties to a contract by a neutral third party i.e. the arbitrator without resorting to court action. The process can be tailored to suit parties’ particular needs.

Arbitrators can be chosen for their expertise. It is confidential and can be speedier and cheaper than court. There are limited grounds of appeal. Arbitral awards are binding and enforceable through courts.

Way ahead:

Moving towards a New India in 2022, ensuring legal reform is a key and critical priority. Complementing ‘Make in India’ vision with ‘Resolve in India’, strong alternate dispute resolution mechanisms are important levers in encouraging the Ease of Doing Business and Ease of Living in India.

Facts for Prelims:

The International Court of Arbitration is a branch of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and one of the world’s leading institutions for providing international arbitration services. The International Court of Arbitration is known for resolving international commercial and business disputes, administering more than half of all arbitration disputes worldwide. The ICC seat is located in Paris.

The International Chamber of Commerce is an international business organization with hundreds of thousands of member companies in over 130 countries spanning virtually every sector of private enterprise.

Source: PIB

Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI)

In News:

Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) will be starting a new Roll on-Roll off (Ro-Ro) facility in collaboration with the Government of Assam to provide the much-needed connectivity for Majuli Island.

Benefits:

This Ro-Ro facility will cut down the circuitous road route of 423 KMs that trucks take from Neamati to Majuli Island via Tezpur Road Bridge, by limiting the distance to only 12.7 KM with the use of river route.

About Majuli Island:

Majuli is the first island district of the country. The island is formed by the Brahmaputra river in the south and the Kherkutia Xuti, an anabranch of the Brahmaputra, joined by the Subansiri River in the north. Majuli is the nerve centre of neo-Vaishnavite.

Majuli Island was also declared the largest river island in the world, toppling Marajo in Brazil, by Guinness World Records in 2016.

Know about IWAI:

Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) is the statutory authority in charge of the waterways in India. Its headquarters is located in Noida, UP. It does the function of building the necessary infrastructure in these waterways, surveying the economic feasibility of new projects and also administration.

Source: PIB

‘Minimum river flows’ for the Ganga

In News:

In a first, the National Mission for Clean Ganga has mandated the minimum quantity of water — or ecological flow — that various stretches of the Ganga must necessarily have all through the year.

Implications:

The new norms would require hydropower projects located along the river to modify their operations so as to ensure they are in compliance. Power projects that don’t meet these norms as yet would be given three years to comply and “mini and micro projects” would be exempt from these requirements.

Flow specifications:

The upper stretches of the Ganga — from its origins in the glaciers and until Haridwar — would have to maintain: 20% of the monthly average flow of the preceding 10-days between November and March, which is the dry season; 25% of the average during the ‘lean season’ of October, April and May; and 30% of monthly average during the monsoon months of June-September.

For the main stem of the Ganga — from Haridwar in Uttarakhand to Unnao, Uttar Pradesh — the notification specifies minimum flow at various barrages: Bhimgoda (Haridwar) must ensure a minimum of 36 cubic metres per second (cumecs) between October-May, and 57 cumecs in the monsoon; and the barrages at Bijnor, Narora and Kanpur must maintain a minimum of 24 cumecs in the non-monsoon months of October-May, and 48 cumecs during the monsoon months of June-September.

Designated Authority:

The Central Water Commission would be the designated authority to collect relevant data and submit flow monitoring-cum-compliance reports on a quarterly basis to the NMCG, according to the notification.

Background:

The notification is issued in the backdrop of ongoing ‘fast unto death’ by environmentalist and former IIT Kanpur faculty member GD Agarwal at Haridwar on issue of Ganga conservation. The 87-year-old Agrawal has been observing hunger strike since June 22 for pollution free and uninterrupted flow in the Ganga.

Facts for Prelims:

About CWC: Central Water Commission is a premier Technical Organization of India in the field of Water Resources and is presently functioning as an attached office of the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Government of India.

Functions: The Commission is entrusted with the general responsibilities of initiating, coordinating and furthering in consultation of the State Governments concerned, schemes for control, conservation and utilization of water resources throughout the country, for purpose of Flood Control, Irrigation, Navigation, Drinking Water Supply and Water Power Development. It also undertakes the investigations, construction and execution of any such schemes as required.

Source: PIB

National Environment Survey (NES)

In News:

India’s first ever National Environment Survey (NES) will be launched in January, 2019 to map environment data of 55 districts across 24 states and 3 Union Territories.

About NES:

The NES will rank all districts on their environmental performance and document their best green practices based on various environmental parameters.

The first NES will be carried out by Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) through Environmental Information System (ENVIS) and its hubs and resource partners across the country. It will be done through grid-based approach, using grids measuring 9×9 km to collect comprehensive data on various environmental parameters.

The parameters include air, water, soil quality; solid, hazardous and e-waste; emission inventory; forest & wildlife; flora & fauna; wetlands, lakes, rivers and other water bodies. It will also assess carbon sequestration potential of all the districts across the country.

Significance:

The green data from this survey will provide important tool in hands of policy-makers for decision making at all levels – district, state and national. The survey will fully map and create emission inventory, provide valuation of ecosystem services and collate research in the field of environment. Initially the survey will be focusing on 55 districts and later will be scaled up to all districts in the country. The skilled manpower required for the survey will be provided from persons skilled and trained under MoEFCC’s Green Skill Development Programme.

Source: The Hindu

Citizenship status of Gorkhas living in Assam

In News:

Ministry of Home Affairs has issued a clarification to the Government of Assam on the citizenship status of members of the Gorkha Community living in the State as per the Foreigners Act, 1946.

Details:

Recently, some cases of members of Gorkha community living in Assam were referred to the Foreigners Tribunals. Following this, a representation from the All Assam Gorkha Students’ had approached the Union Home Minister Shri Rajnath Singh to solve the issue.

Directions by the Centre:

In a communication to the Government of Assam, MHA has listed various provisions to obviate the difficulties faced by Gorkhas in the matter of Indian citizenship. These include:

The members of the Gorkha community who were Indian citizens at the time of commencement of the Constitution, or those who are Indian citizens by birth, or those who have acquired Indian citizenship by registration or naturalization in accordance with the provisions of The Citizenship Act, 1955 are not “foreigners” in terms of section 2 (a) of The Foreigners Act,1946 as well as The Registration of Foreigners Act,1939, therefore, such cases will not be referred to the Foreigners Tribunals.

Any member of the Gorkha community holding Nepalese nationality and who has arrived in India by land or air over the Nepal border even without a passport or visa and staying in India for any length of time shall not be treated as an illegal migrant if he/she is in possession of any of the identity documents namely the Nepalese Passport, Nepalese Citizenship Certificate, voter Identification card issued by the Election Commission of Nepal, limited validity photo-identity certificate issued by Nepalese Mission in India when deemed necessary and for children between age group of 10-18 years, photo ID issued by the principal of the school, if accompanied by parents having valid travel documents.

No such document is required for children below the age group of 10 years, the communication added citing provisions of India-Nepal Treaty signed in 1950.

Exempt from Foreigner Tribunals:

The cases of members of Gorkha community falling within the parameters shall not be referred to the Foreigner Tribunals for opinion as to whether the person is a “foreigner” within the meaning of The Foreigners Act, 1946.

Only those individuals, who have come from specified territories i.e. territories included in Bangladesh immediately before commencement of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 1985, to the State of Assam, and are not Indian citizens, can be referred to the Foreigners tribunals.

What is National Register of Citizens (NRC)?

The NRC was introduced to identify illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and recognise the Indian citizens in Assam. It was first prepared in 1951 and Assam is the only state having this arrangement.

Source: PIB

Wing Loong II

It is a high-end reconnaissance, strike and multi-role endurance unmanned aerial system, capable of being fitted with air-to-surface weapons. It is designed for both reconnaissance and strike missions.

China has agreed to sell 48 Wing Loong II high-end armed drones to Pakistan.

National Council for Vocational Education and Training (NCVET)

  • Union Cabinet has recently approved the merging of two skill institutes to form National Council for Vocational Education and Training (NCVET).
  • The merged two institutes are National Council for Vocational Training (NCVT) and the National Skill Development Agency (NSDA).
  • NCVET is envisaged as an institution which will perform the regulatory functions so far vested in NCVT and NSDA.
  • It will regulate the functioning of entities engaged in short-term and long-term vocational education and training.
  • It will establish minimum standards for the functioning of such entities.
  • It will operationalize the National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF) to ensure that quality and standards meet sector specific requirements.
  • Regulatory functions currently being carried out by the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) through the Sector Skill Councils (SSCs) will also be housed in the NCVET.

Horizon 2020

  • It is a joint project by Indian government and European Union to develop a next generation influenza vaccine to protect citizens worldwide.
  • It aims to develop cost-effective and affordable influenza vaccine rapidly without compromising quality.
  • It is expected to contribute to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 3 to ensure health and well-being for all and boost the Indian National Health Mission
  • The project require minimum 3 applicants from European countries associated to Horizon 2020 and minimum 3 applicants from India.
  • It is also open to applicants from other countries.

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