GS Paper I–  Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc.,

SC summons nine Chief Secretaries

What’s Happening-
The Supreme Court summoned Chief Secretaries of nine drought-affected States, including Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat, for having failed to implement the National Food Security Act.

Key Points discussed were:

Supreme Court Verdict:

  • A Bench led by Justice Madan B. Lokur said the above nine States had failed to implement the food law despite the fact that considerable time had passed since the statute came into force.

Laws Violated:

  • “It is a matter of concern that a parliamentary statute is not being given importance. Article 21 [protection of life and personal liberty] of the Constitution is also involved. State Food Commissions, as mandated under Section 16 of the National Food Security Act, have not been appointed,”
  • The Bench Said the Chief Secretaries to required appoint the State Food Commissions and the details should be furnished. Details should also be given with regard to Section 15 of the National Food Security Act by which State governments have to frame rules for the appointment or designation of the District Grievance Redressal Officer.

Social audit

  • The court directed the Chief Secretaries to inform whether a social audit can be conducted, as provided under the Food Security Act.
  • Besides Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat, other States whose Chief Secretaries have been summoned include Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Bihar, Haryana and Chhattisgarh.
  • The order came on a petition filed by NGO Swaraj Abhiyan seeking various relief measures for farmers in the drought-affected States.

 

MNREGA:

  • The bench told that not a single state had fully implemented the apex court verdict on drought relief and the poor were still suffering because of lack of employment under MNREGA and the governments were providing food to affected people at higher price.
  • “The practice of delayed payment to workers beyond the statutory limit of 15 days continues despite the court’s orders.
  • Only 46% payments were generated within 15 days in 2016-17, less than what it was in 2013-14 and 2012-13.

GS Paper I Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism

Cabinet approves new commission for socially, educationally backward classes

What’s Happening-
The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved setting up of National Commission for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (NSEBC) as a Constitutional body.
The Union Cabinet has approved setting up of a NSEBC by making amendment to the Constitution, mainly by insertion of Article 338B.

Key Points discussed were:

  • The Bill will be introduced in the Parliament.

The Cabinet has approved the following:

  • Creation of a National Commission for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes under new Article 338 B;
  • Insertion of provision after Article 341 and 342 viz. 342 A to provide for Parliament’s approval for every inclusion into and exclusion from the Central List of Other Backward Classes;
  • Insertion of a new Clause (26C) under Article 366 to define Socially and Educationally Backward Classes;
  • Repeal of National Commission for Backward Classes Act, 1993 and Rules framed there under;
  • Dissolution of the Commission constituted under the Act of 1993;

Composition:

  • Composition of the new Commission I.e. National Commission for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes, with a Chairperson, Vice Chairperson and three other Members.

Background-
The National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) was set up in pursuance to the Supreme Court judgement in the Indra Sawhney case as per the NCBC Act, 1993.
(I) Section 9 (“Function of the Commission”) of the NCBC Act, 1993, states as under:
(ii) The Commission shall examine requests for inclusion of an any class of citizens as a backward class in the lists and hear complaints of over-inclusion or under-inclusion of any backward class in such lists and tender such advice to the Central Government as it deems appropriate.
(iii) The advice of the Commission shall ordinarily be binding upon the Central Government.
Demands:
There have been demands in the Parliament and by the General Public for grant of Constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes to enable it to hear the grievances of OBCs in the same manner that a National Commission for Scheduled Castes (constituted under Article 338) and National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (constituted under Article 338A) hear the grievances of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

GS Paper III  Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

Bill amends the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009

What’s Happening-
The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (Amendment) Bill, 2017 was introduced by the Minister of Human Resource Development, Mr. Prakash Javadekar in Lok Sabha.
The Bill amends the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 by extending the deadline for teachers to acquire the prescribed minimum qualifications for appointment.

Key Points discussed were:
Under the Act, if a state does not have adequate teacher training institutions or sufficient number of qualified teachers, the provision to possess minimum qualifications is relaxed for a period not exceeding five years i.e. till March 31, 2015.
The Bill further adds to this provision by stating that those teachers who do not possess the minimum qualifications as on March 31, 2015 will acquire the minimum qualifications within a period of four years i.e. by March 31, 2019.

Background-

  • The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009, is effective from 1st April, 2010.
  • It envisages free and compulsory elementary education to every child in the age group of 6-14 years.
  • The Provision to Section 23(2) of the Act specifies that all teachers at elementary level who, at the commencement of this Act, did not possess the minimum qualifications as laid down under the RTE Act, need to acquire these within a period of five years i.e., 31st March, 2015.
  • However, several State governments have reported that out of a total number of 66.41 lakh teachers at the elementary level, 11.00 lakh are still untrained (of this, 5.12 lakh are in Government and Aided Schools and 5.98 lakh are in private schools).
  • In order to ensure that all teachers, in position as on 31st March, 2015, acquire the minimum qualifications prescribed by the academic authority, it is necessary to carry out appropriate amendment in the RTE Act, 2009 to extend the period for such training for four years up to 31st March, 2019.