Shekatkar Committee


  • Recently, the Defence Ministry has approved the proposal of Engineer-in-Chief of Military Engineering Services (MES) for optimisation of more than 9,300 posts in the basic and industrial workforce.
  • It is in line with the recommendations of the Committee of Experts, headed by Lt General Shekatkar, which had recommended measures to enhance combat capability and rebalance defence expenditure of the Armed Forces.
  • The recommendation was aimed at making MES an effective organisation with a leaner workforce, well equipped to handle complex issues in the emerging scenario in an efficient and cost effective manner.

Background

  • The 11-member committee, appointed by the late Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar in 2016, had made about 99 recommendations, from optimising defence budget to the need for a Chief of the Defence Staff.

Key Recommendations

  • According to a 2017 report, the Shekatkar Committee had recommended that India’s defence budget should be in the range of 2.5 to 3 per cent of the GDP, keeping in mind possible future threats.
  • It had suggested the establishment of a Joint Services War College for training for middle-level officers, even through the three separate war colleges — Mhow, Secunderabad and Goa — could continue to train younger officers for their respective services.
  • It had also recommended that the Military Intelligence School at Pune be converted to a tri-service intelligence training establishment.
  • The report also focuses on optimisation of Signals establishments to include radio monitoring companies, corps air support signal regiments, air formation signal regiments, composite signal regiments, and merger of corps operating and engineering signal regiments.
  • It included restructuring of repair echelons in the Army to include base workshops, advance base workshops and static/station workshops in the field Army.
  • It also called for the closure of military farms and army postal establishments in peace locations, which is among the recommendations already implemented.

National Commission For Indian System Of Medicine Bill, 2019


  • On 30th January, 2020, the Union Cabinet approved the draft National Commission for Indian Systems of Medicine Bill, 2019.
  • The Bill seeks to repeal the Indian Medicine Central Council Act, 1970 and provide for a medical education system which ensures:
  • adoption of the latest medical research by medical professionals of Indian System of Medicine
  • periodic assessment of medical institutions
  • an effective grievance redressal mechanism

Impact

  • The proposed legislation will ensure necessary regulatory reforms in the field of Indian System of Medicine education.
  • The proposed regulatory structure will enable transparency and accountability for protecting the interest of the general public. The Commission will promote availability of affordable healthcare services in all parts of the country.

National Commission for Indian Systems of Medicine (NCISM)

  • The main objective of establishing NCISM is to promote equity by ensuring adequate supply of quality medical professionals and enforce high ethical standards in all aspects of medical services in Indian System of Medicine.

Composition

  • The NCISM will consist of 29 members, appointed by the central government.
  • A Search Committee will recommend names to the central government for the post of Chairperson, part time members, and presidents of the four autonomous boards set up under the NCISM.

Autonomous Boards

  • The Board of Ayurveda and the Board of Unani, Siddha, and Sowa-Rigpa: Responsible for formulating standards, curriculum, guidelines for setting up of medical institutions, and granting recognition to medical qualifications at the undergraduate and post graduate levels in their respective disciplines.
  • The Medical Assessment and Rating Board for Indian System of Medicine: It determine the process of rating and assessment of medical institutions and have the power to levy monetary penalties on institutions which fail to maintain the minimum standards It will also grant permission for establishing a new medical institution.
  • The Ethics and Medical Registration Board: It will maintain a National Register of all licensed medical practitioners of Indian System of Medicine, and regulate their professional conduct. 

Functions of the NCISM

  • Framing policies for regulating medical institutions and medical professionals of Indian System of Medicine
  • Assessing the requirements of healthcare related human resources and infrastructure
  • Ensuring compliance by the State Medical Councils of Indian System of Medicine of the regulations made under the Bill
  • Ensuring coordination among the autonomous boards set up under the Bill

Advisory Council for Indian System of Medicine

  • The Council will be the primary platform through which the states/union territories can put forth their views and concerns before the NCISM. Further, the Council will advise the NCISM on measures to determine and maintain the minimum standards of medical education.

Indian System of Medicine

  • Initially, India System of Medicine recognises six systems of medicine Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and Yoga, Naturopathy and Homoeopathy.
  • The Sowa-Rigpa medicine system has been recognized by Government of India (GoI) by amending the Indian Medicine Central Council (IMCC) Act, 2010.
  • The Ministry of AYUSH was formed on 9th November 2014 to ensure the optimal development and propagation of AYUSH systems of health care. Earlier it was known as the Department of Indian System of Medicine and Homeopathy (ISM&H) which was created in March 1995 and renamed as Department of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) in November 2003.
  • The government, in 2018, included Sowa-Rigpa into the acronym of AYUSH where the alphabet ‘S’ represents both — Siddha and Sowa-Rigpa.

Ayurveda

  • The word ‘Ayurveda’ has derived out of fusion of two separate words- ‘Áyu’ i.e. life and ‘veda’ i.e. knowledge.
  • The philosophy of Ayurveda is based on the theory of PanchaMahaBhutas(Five Primordial Elements) of which all the objects and living bodies are composed of.
  • The doctrine of Ayurveda aims to keep these structural and functional entities in a functional state of equilibrium which signifies good health (Swastha).

Yoga

  • The word "Yoga" comes from the Sanskrit word "yuj" which means "to unite or integrate."
  • Yoga is about the union of a person's own consciousness and the universal It is primarily a way of life, first propounded by Maharshi Patanjali in systematic form Yogsutra.

Naturopathy

  • Naturopathy is a system of natural treatment and also a way of life widely practiced, globally accepted and recognized for health preservation and management of illnesses without medicines.
  • It advocates living in harmony with constructive principles of Nature on the physical, mental, social and spiritual planes. It has great promotive, preventive, curative as well as restorative potentials.

Unani

  • As the name indicates, Unani system originated in Greece. The foundation of Unani system was laid by
  • The system is holistic in nature and takes into account the whole personality of an individual rather than taking a reductionist approach towards disease.

Siddha

  • The Siddha System of medicine is one of the ancient systems of medicine in India having its close bedd with Dravidian culture.
  • The term Siddha means achievements and Siddhars are those who have achieved perfection in medicine. The system is largely therapeutic in nature.

Homoeopathy

  • Homoeopathy was introduced as a scientific system of drug therapeutics by a German Physician, Dr. Christian Frederick Samuel Hahnemann in 1805.
  • Its strength lies in its evident effectiveness as it takes a holistic approach towards the sick individual through promotion of inner balance at mental, emotional, spiritual and physical levels.

Sowa-Rigpa

  • The term ‘Sowa Rigpa’ means ‘Knowledge of Healing’.
  • It has been originated from Tibet and popularly practice in India, Nepal, Bhutan, China, Mongolia and Russia.
  • The principle medical text “rGyud-bZi” Chatush Tantra-a textbook of fundamental principles of Sowa-Rigpa is in Sanskrit language which was further translated into Bhoti language around 8th – 12th Century and further amended by Yuthok YontanGombo and other scholars of Trans Himalayan region according to the socio-climatic conditions.

 

Committee Of Secretaries (CoS)


  • On 29th October, 2019, the government constituted aCommittee of Secretaries (CoS) to study financial stress being faced by the telecom sector in the country.
  • The Committee, headed by the Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba and representatives from the ministries of finance, law and telecom, is expected to submit recommendations in a time-bound manner.

Objective

  • To examine the financial stress of the telecom sector and recommend measures to mitigate it.
  • To look at ways of creating a favourable investment environment for the sector.

Background

  • The Government’s move came in the backdrop of Supreme Court’s order on the calculation of Aggregate Gross Revenue (AGR) in favour of the government.
  • Following the order, the telcos may have to pay the government Rs. 1.42 lakh crore within three months. This came as a huge blow to the industry that is already reeling under a debt of about Rs. 4 lakh crore.
  • The top court rejected the definition of adjusted gross revenue (AGR) proposed by telecom operators that excluded revenue from non-core telecom operations such as rent, dividend and interest income, marking the end of a 14-year-long legal tussle between the department of telecommunications (DoT) and operators.
  • While the dispute over the definition of AGR has been on since 1999, the important aspects are the Annual License Fee (LF) of 8 percent and Annual Spectrum Usage Charges (SUC) of about 1-6 percent of AGR payout to be made by the TSP (along with interest and penalties), which are likely to throw the TSPs into a debt trap.

Current Issues in Telecom Sector

  • Noting the gross revenue of the industry had fallen between 2017-18 and 2018-19, the price of data for the customer at an average of Rs 8 per GB, the lowest in the world.
  • Additionally, the average revenue per user per month has declined from Rs 174 in 2014-15 to Rs l13 in 2018-19.

Source: ET

Issues to Consider

  • The Committee will work out a relief package for the telecom sector in order to mitigate the impact of the more than Rs.1.4 lakh crore that the telcos may need to pay the exchequer.
  • Will look into the demand of telcos for deferment of spectrum auction payment dues for the years 2020-21 and 2021-22 in order to ease cash flow.
  • Will review various demands made by the industry, reduction in spectrum usage charges and the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) charges.

Aggregate Gross Revenue(AGR)

  • AGR is the usage and licensing fee that telecom operators are charged by the DoT.
  • It is divided into spectrum usage charges and licensing fees, pegged between 3-5 percent and 8 percent respectively.
  • As per DoT, the charges are calculated based on all revenues earned by a telco– including non-telecom related sources such as deposit interests and asset sales.
Spectrum Usage Charges (SUC)
  • SUC is payable by the licensees providing mobile access services, as a percentage of their AGR.
  • It is payable as per the spectrum slabs/ rates notified by the Government from time to time.

Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF)

  • The National Telecom Policy (NTP), 1999, provided that the resources for meeting the Universal Service Obligation (USO) were to be generated through a Universal Access Levy (UAL), at a prescribed percentage of the revenue earned by the telecom licensees to be decided in consultation with the TRAI.
  • USOF was established in 2002, under the DoT, to provide subsidies to ensure information and communication technology services being provided to everyone across India, especially in the rural and remote areas.
  • The Indian Telegraph (Amendment) Act, 2003gave statutory status to the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF).
  • As per the Indian Telegraph Act 1885 (as amended in 2003, 2006 and 2008), the Fund is to be utilized exclusively for meeting the Universal Service Obligation.

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Suggestions

  • TRAI is expected to examine prescribing a minimum charge for voice and data services to ensure long-term viability and robust financial health of the sector.
  • It has suggested that USOF charges - paid to make telcos take their services to rural areas- be 3 percent, and not 5 percent.

Suggestion by Telecoms

  • Telcoshave suggested that both sides- the government and telcos -enter a bipartite agreement about the amount to be paid and a plan on how it can be paid. It offered to pay only the disputed dues without the high penalty and interest.
  • It suggested a staggering payment schedulewhich is more than three months.
  • To provide relief in the future by reducing the license fee.
  • To adjust the input tax credit is available with the government in order to provide relief as for now.

Source: Business Standard

Way Forward

  • The government has fast-tracked reforms in the telecom sector and continues to be proactive in providing room for growth for telecom companies.
  • Considering the current situation, faced by the telecom sector, the government is considering a floor price for telecom services as part of the relief measures proposed for the industry.
  • Further, help and support extended to telecom service providers (TSPs) with regard to duties, levies, and installments will enable them to have better cash flows and investible surplus for the orderly growth of the sector.
  • The newly constituted panel can give an immediate relief package to ensure financial viability of both the operatorsas well sector.

Suresh Mathur Committee


Why is it in News?

IRDAI (Insurance Regulatory & Development Authority) has formed a panel under Dr. Suresh Mathur to look into the Microinsurance Framework.

About the Committee:

IRDAI has constituted a 13 member committee under IRDAI Executive Chairman Dr. Suresh Mathur to look into the regulatory framework of microinsurance and recommend measures to boost the demand of such microinsurances.

Composition of the Committee:

It will have members from IRDAI, insurers’ representatives from life, general and health insurance companies in the public and private sectors, NGOs etc.

What will this Committee do?

The 13-member panel has been tasked with suggesting product designs with customer-friendly underwriting, including easy premium payment methods and simple claims settlement procedures. It will also look into the Microinsurance Framework within India and abroad and suggest the changes that can be incorporated.

Central Information Commission (CIC)


Why is it in news?

Recently, Supreme Court has noted that there exists an official bias in favor of government employees in the appointment of Chief Information Commissioner and other Information Commissioners (IC)

Composition of CIC:

As per the RTI Act, CIC consists of the Chief Information Commissioner and not more than 10 Information Commissioners (IC).

Appointment:

Section 12(3) of the RTI Act 2005 provides for the appointment of CIC & other ICs:

(i) The Prime Minister, who shall be the Chairperson of the committee;

(ii) The Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha; and

(iii) A Union Cabinet Minister to be nominated by the Prime Minister will look into the appointment process.

Duration of the Office:

Section 13 of the RTI Act 2005 provides that the Chief Information Commissioner shall hold office for a term of five years from the date on which he enters upon his office and shall not be eligible for reappointment: MPs, MLA etc. are not eligible for the office of CIC.

Powers of CIC/ICs:

CIC has the power of a civil court (like summoning etc.) when it deals with the matters related to code of civil procedure, and its decisions are final and binding on the party.

Dr Anoop Satpathy Committee


Why is it in News?

Expert committee headed by Dr. Anoop Satpathy has submitted its report on the methodology adopted for determining the National Minimum Wage for the Country

Need of fixing the Minimum National Wage:

At present India has no National Minimum Wage and the economists are of the view that India does not have the problem of jobs but has a wage problem (i.e.- people do get jobs, but are not paid as per their skills).

Recommendations of Committee:

  • The committee has recommended different minimum wages for different regions of the country seeing the local socio-economic factors.
  • It has recommended the minimum wages keeping in mind the need of 2400 calories along with 50 grams of proteins and 30 grams of fat requirement.
  • It has recommended that minimum wages must be adjusted with the CPI (Consumer Price Index) every 6 months.
  • The committee has recommended Rs 375/day as minimum wage.