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23rd October Current Affairs

How Election Commission decides on party symbols?

In News:

Bihar Assembly Election 2020: Voters can expect to see a myriad of symbols like chapatti roller, dolli, bangles, capsicum on the ballots.

What is the need for election symbols?

The symbols help the several unrecognised parties and independent candidates differentiate themselves from one another and help voters identify the party of their choice.

How many types of symbols are there?

As per the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) (Amendment) Order, 2017, party symbols are either:

Reserved: Eight national parties and 64 state parties across the country have “reserved” symbols.

Free: The Election Commission also has a pool of nearly 200 “free” symbols that are allotted to the thousands of unrecognised regional parties that pop up before elections.

How are symbols allotted to political parties?

As per the guidelines, to get a symbol allotted:

A party/candidate has to provide a list of three symbols from the EC’s free symbols list at the time of filing nomination papers.

Among them, one symbol is allotted to the party/candidate on a first-come-first-serve basis.

When a recognised political party splits, the Election Commission takes the decision on assigning the symbol.

Powers of Election Commission:

The Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968 empowers the EC to recognise political parties and allot symbols.

Under Paragraph 15 of the Order, it can decide disputes among rival groups or sections of a recognised political party staking claim to its name and symbol.

The EC is also the only authority to decide issues on a dispute or a merger. The Supreme Court upheld its validity in Sadiq Ali and another vs. ECI in 1971.

Centre allows additional borrowing by 20 States

In News:

The Finance Ministry has permitted 20 States  to raise ₹68,825 crore through open market borrowings.

Background:

These 20 States, the expenditure department said, had conveyed their acceptance of the first borrowing option offered by the Centre to meet GST compensation shortfalls.

Under this, States could borrow ₹1.1 lakh crore from the market with principal and interest payments to be paid out of GST cess collections whose levy has been extended beyond 2022.

Why states need centre’s permission while borrowing? Is it mandatory for all states?

Article 293(3) of the Constitution requires states to obtain the Centre’s consent in order to borrow in case the state is indebted to the Centre over a previous loan.

This consent can also be granted subject to certain conditions by virtue of Article 293(4).

In practice, the Centre has been exercising this power in accordance with the recommendations of the Finance Commission.

Every single state is currently indebted to the Centre and thus, all of them require the Centre’s consent in order to borrow.

Does the Centre have unfettered power to impose conditions under this provision?

Neither does the provision itself offer any guidance on this, nor is there any judicial precedent that one could rely on.

Interestingly, even though this question formed part of the terms of reference of the 15th Finance Commission, it was not addressed in its interim report.

So, when can the centre impose conditions?

The Centre can impose conditions only when it gives consent for state borrowing, and it can only give such consent when the state is indebted to the Centre.

Why are such restrictions necessary?

One possible purpose behind conferring this power upon the Centre was to protect its interests in the capacity of a creditor.

A broader purpose of ensuring macroeconomic stability is also discernible, since state indebtedness negatively affects the fiscal health of the nation as a whole.

Tech For Tribals launched

In News:

TRIFED, IIT Kanpur and Chhattisgarh MFP Federation E-Launch “Tech for Tribals” Initiative.

What is it?

It is a programme by TRIFED, in collaboration with the Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) under the Entrepreneurship and Skill Development Programme (ESDP) programme.

It aims at the holistic development of tribals with a focus on entrepreneurship development, soft skills, IT, and business development through SHGs operating through Van Dhan Vikas Kendras (VDVKs).

What are Van Dhan Kendras?

TRIFED under the Ministry of Tribal Affairs is establishing 1,200 “Van Dhan Vikas Kendra (VDVK)”, across 28 States engaging 3.6 Lakhs Tribal Forest Produce gatherers.

One typical VDVK comprises of 15 Self Help Groups, each consisting of 20 Tribal gatherers.

About Van Dhan Vikas Kendras initiative:

The initiative aims to promote MFPs-centric livelihood development of tribal gatherers and artisans.

It mainstreams the tribal community by promoting primary level value addition to MFP at grassroots level.

Significance: Through this initiative, the share of tribals in the value chain of Non-Timber Forest Produce is expected to rise from the present 20% to around 60%.

Electronic Vaccine Intelligence Network (eVIN)

In News:

The eVIN network is being repurposed for the delivery of the COVID-19 vaccine.

About eVIN:

The eVIN is an innovative technological solution aimed at strengthening immunization supply chain systems across the country.

This is being implemented under the National Health Mission (NHM) by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

It aims to provide real-time information on vaccine stocks and flows, and storage temperatures across all cold chain points in the country.

Benefits of eVIN:

It has helped create a big data architecture that generates actionable analytics encouraging data-driven decision-making and consumption-based planning.

It helps in maintaining optimum stocks of vaccines leading to cost savings. Vaccine availability at all times has increased to 99% in most health centres in India.

While instances of stock-outs have reduced by 80%, the time taken to replenish stocks has also decreased by more than half, on an average.