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5th March Current Affairs

‘Voter islands’ after J&K delimitation exercise

(GS-II: Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure)

In News:

Political leaders participating in the delimitation process in J&K as well as independent observers have raised fears of “islands” being formed.

What’s the issue?

The Delimitation Act, 2002 says that apart from population, the constituencies have to be geographically compact areas and contiguous. Observers say this principle is not being followed in the ongoing Delimitation exercise.

For example, a village in one tehsil would be completely surrounded by villages in another Tehsil. Geographical connectedness is not being considered here. This gives rise to the voter islands.

It is being said that the Commission “has carved out geographical islands and joined with the other Assembly segments without any proximity or connectivity”.

Delimitation exercise in J&K- a timeline:

The first delimitation exercise, carving out 25 assembly constituencies in the then state, was carried out by a Delimitation Committee in 1951.

The first full-fledged Delimitation Commission was formed in 1981 and it submitted its recommendations in 1995 on the basis of 1981 Census. Since then, there has been no delimitation.

In 2020, the Delimitation Commission was constituted to carry out the exercise on the basis of 2011 Census, with a mandate to add seven more seats to the Union Territory’ and grant reservations to SC and ST communities.

Now, the total number of seats in Jammu and Kashmir will be raised to 90 from the previous 83. This is apart from 24 seats which have been reserved for areas of PoK and have to be kept vacant in the Assembly.

What is delimitation and why is it needed?

The Delimitation Commission for Jammu and Kashmir was constituted by the Centre on March 6 last year to redraw Lok Sabha and assembly constituencies of the union territory in accordance with the provisions of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019 and Delimitation Act, 2002, passed by the Centre in August 2019 along with other J&K-specific Bills.

What is Delimitation?

Delimitation literally means the process of fixing limits or boundaries of territorial constituencies in a state that has a legislative body.

Who carries out the exercise?

Delimitation is undertaken by a highly powerful commission. They are formally known as Delimitation Commission or Boundary Commission.

These bodies are so powerful that its orders have the force of law and they cannot be challenged before any court.

Pradhan Mantri Jan-Aushadhi Yojana

(GS-II: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation)

In News:

Janaushadhi Diwas week to be observed from 1st March to 7th March 2022.

Theme:

Theme of 4th Janaushadhi Diwas: “Jan Aushadhi-Jan Upyogi”

Details:

Pharmaceuticals & Medical Devices Bureau of India (PMBI) is the implementing agency of Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP).

Performance of the scheme:

All the districts of the country have been covered under the scheme.

Effective IT-enabled logistics and supply-chain systems for ensuring real-time distribution of medicines at all outlets have also been introduced.

Product basket of PMBJP presently comprises 1,451 drugs and 240 surgical instruments.

About PMBJP:

It is a campaign launched by the Department of Pharmaceuticals of the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers.

It seeks to provide quality medicines at affordable prices to the masses through special kendra’s known as Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Jan Aushadhi Kendra.

Initially launched in 2008, the scheme was rechristened in 2015.

Key features of the scheme:

Ensure access to quality medicines.

Extend coverage of quality generic medicines so as to reduce the out of pocket expenditure on medicines and thereby redefine the unit cost of treatment per person.

Create awareness about generic medicines through education and publicity so that quality is not synonymous with only high price.

A public programme involving Government, PSUs, Private Sector, NGO, Societies, Co-operative Bodies and other Institutions.

Create demand for generic medicines by improving access to better healthcare through low treatment cost and easy availability wherever needed in all therapeutic categories.

Data protection Bill

(GS-II: Government policies and issues arising out of it)

In News:

The government has said that it is studying the inputs received on the draft data protection bill, and will carefully ensure that any legislation in the digital ecosystem will act as an enabler, fuelling the growth momentum.

On December 16, 2021, the Joint Committee on Personal Data Protection Bill had tabled its report in both the Houses of Parliament, giving its views on various provisions.

Background:

Nearly two years after it was constituted on 11 December 2019, the Joint Committee on the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019, headed by BJP MP P.P. Chaudhary, presented its final report on the upcoming bill in both Houses of Parliament on 16 December.

Key recommendations:

Remove the word ‘personal’ from the existing title of ‘Personal Data Protection Bill’. This is intended to reflect that the bill, in order to better ensure privacy, will also be dealing with non-personal data, such as personal data that has been anonymised.

Amend the section restricting the transfer of personal data outside India to say “sensitive personal data shall not be shared with any foreign government or agency unless such sharing is approved by the central government.

No social media platform be allowed to operate in India unless its parent company, which controls the technology powering its services, sets up an office in the country.

It proposes a separate regulatory body to be set up to regulate the media.

Jail term of up to 3 years, fine of Rs 2 lakh or both if de-identified data is re-identified by any person.

The word ‘personal’ ought to be dropped from the name of the Bill.

Central government may exempt any government agency from the legislation only under exceptional circumstances.

How do these recommendations compare with EU regulation?

The JCP recommendations on the Personal Data Protection Bill are in some aspects very similar to global standards such as European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation.

Similarities:

Consent: Users must have informed consent about the way their data is processed so that they can opt in or out.

Breach: Authorities must be notified of a breach within 72 hours of the leak.

Transition period: Two-year transition period for provisions of GDPR to be put in place.

Data fiduciary: Under EU law, a Data fiduciary is any natural or legal person, public authority, agency or body that determines purpose and means of data processing. In India, it also includes NGOs.

The committee has recommended the formation of a Data Protection Authority (DPA):

The Data Protection Authority (DPA) will be dealing with privacy and personal data as well as non-personal data.

Composition of DPA: The Chairperson and the members of the DPA shall be appointed by the Union government based on the recommendation of a selection committee chaired by the Cabinet Secretary.

Other members of the committee would be the Attorney General of India, the IT and law secretaries.

Nominated members: An independent expert and a director each from the IIT and the IIM will be nominated by the Centre.

Other Highlights of the Bill:

The bill proposes to specify the flow and usage of personal data, protect the rights of individuals whose personal data are processed, as it works out the framework for the cross-border transfer, accountability of entities processing data, and moots remedies for unauthorised and harmful processing.

It also seeks to provide the government with powers to give exemptions to its probe agencies from the provisions of the legislation, a move that has been strongly opposed by the opposition MPs who had filed their dissent notes.

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights

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

In News:

National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) celebrated its 17th Foundation Day, recently.

About the NCPCR:

NCPCR was set up in March 2007 under the Commissions for Protection of Child Rights (CPCR) Act, 2005, an Act of Parliament (December 2005).

The Commission began operational on 5 March 2007.

NCPCR is a statutory body under the administrative control of the Ministry of Women & Child Development, Government of India.

Mandate:

The Commission’s Mandate is to ensure that all Laws, Policies, Programmes, and Administrative Mechanisms are in consonance with the Child Rights perspective as enshrined in the Constitution of India and also the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Definition of a Child:

Under the CPCR Act, The Child is defined as a person in the 0 to 18 years age group.

Functions of NCPCR:

Under the RTE Act, 2009, the NCPCR can:

Inquire into complaints about violation of the law.

Summon an individual and demand evidence.

Seek a magisterial enquiry.

File a writ petition in the High Court or Supreme Court.

Approach the government concerned for prosecution of the offender.

Recommend interim relief to those affected.

Composition of NCPCR:

This commission has a chairperson and six members.

Of which at least two should be women.

These are appointed by Central Government for three years.

The maximum age to serve in commission is 65 years for Chairman and 60 years for members.