Indian Polity - Current Affairs for August, 2017
Indian Polity Current Affairs for August, 2017Month wise coverage of Indian Polity Current Affairs helps you improve your general knowledge and prepare for all competitive exams like IBPS, Bank PO, SBI PO, RRB, RBI, LIC, Specialist Officer, Clerk, SSC, UPSC, Railway etc. This section is updated daily with the most important events.
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▼ ECI enters into MoU with foreign nations [08-31-17]
The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the proposal of the Election Commission of India to enter into Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on cooperation in the field of electoral management and administration.
This is with the Election Management Bodies of other countries/International Agencies.
These are as follows:
i. The National Electoral Council of Ecuador;
ii. The Central Election Commission of Albania;
iii. The Election Commission of Bhutan;
iv. The Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan;
v. The National Independent Electoral Commission of Guinea;
vi. The Union Election Commission of Myanmar; and
vii. The India International Institute of Democracy and Election Management (IIIDEM) and the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA).
These MoUs contain standard articles/clauses which broadly express promotion of cooperation in exchange of knowledge and experience in the field of organizational and technical development of electoral process.
Also important is support in exchanging information, institutional strengthening and capacity building, training of personnel, holding regular consultations etc.
These MoUs would promote bilateral cooperation, aimed at building technical assistance / capacity support for the said Election Management Bodies.
Cooperation with ECI: Background
- The Election Commission has been participating in promoting cooperation in the field of election matters and electoral processes across the world with certain foreign countries and agencies.
- This is by adopting the mode of MoU signed by the concerned parties.
- The Election Commission, a constitutional body, conducts the largest electoral exercise in the world.
- It is the responsibility of the Election Commission to organize free and fair election in the country of about 85 crore voters with diverse socio-political and economic backgrounds.
- In recently years, the role being played by the Election Commission ensures greater participation of people in political affairs.
India, today, is considered as the world’s largest democratic country.
- The success of democracy in India has attracted the attention of almost every political system around the world.
▼ New Metro Rail Policy approved [08-17-17]
The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi on Aug 16, 2017 approved a new Metro Rail Policy that seeks to enable realization of growing metro rail aspirations of a large number of cities but in a responsible manner.
The policy opens a big window for private investments across a range of metro operations making PPP component mandatory for availing central assistance for new metro projects.
Private investment and other innovative forms of financing of metro projects have been made compulsory to meet the huge resource demand for capital intensive high capacity metro projects.
The policy envisages private sector participation in O & M of metro services in different ways. These include:
1.Cost plus fee contract: Private operator is paid a monthly/annual payment for O&M of system. This can have a fixed and variable component depending on the quality of service. Operational and revenue risk is borne by the owner.
2. Gross Cost Contract: Private operator is paid a fixed sum for the duration of the contract. Operator to bear the O&M risk while the owner bears the revenue risk.
3. Net Cost Contract: Operator collects the complete revenue generated for the services provided. If revenue generation is below the O&M cost, the owner may agree to compensate.
Metro Projects at Present
- At present, metro projects with a total length of 370 kms are operational in 8 cities viz., Delhi (217 kms), Bengaluru (42.30 kms), Kolkata (27.39 kms), Chennai (27.36 kms), Kochi (13.30 kms), Mumbai (Metro Line 1-11.40 km, Mono Rail Phase 1-9.0 km), Jaipur-9.00 kms and Gurugram (Rapid Metro-1.60 km).
- Metro Projects with a total length of 537 kms are in progress in 13 cities including the eight mentioned above. New cities acquiring metro services are; Hyderabad (71 kms), Nagpur (38 kms), Ahmedabad (36 kms), Pune (31.25 kms) and Lucknow (23 kms).
- Metro projects with a total length of 595 kms in 13 cities including 10 new cities are at various stages of planning and appraisal.
- These are; Delhi Metro Phase IV- 103.93 km, Delhi & NCR-21.10 km, Vijayawada-26.03 km, Visakhapatnam-42.55 km, Bhopal-27.87 km, Indore-31.55 km, Kochi Metro Phase II-11.20 km, Greater Chandigarh Region Metro Project-37.56 km, Patna-27.88 km, Guwahati-61 km, Varanasi-29.24 km, Thiruvananthapuram & Kozhikode (Light Rail Transport)-35.12 km and Chennai Phase II-107.50 km.
▼ M. Venkaiah Naidu is 13th Vice President of India [08-7-17]
Over 98% voting was recorded in the 2017 vice-presidential election.
98.21% polling was registered for the election with 771 out of 785 MPs casting their votes. 11 votes were found to be invalid.
381 votes was the quota set to win the polls. M. Venkaiah Naidu emerged victorious 516 votes, whereas opposition nominee Gopalkrishna Gandhi has secured 244 votes.
Vice president-elect M Venkaiah Naidu will be remembered for his contribution in some of the flagship schemes of the Modi government such as Smart City Mission and Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana that was undertaken by the housing and urban affairs ministry.
Besides Smart City Mission and Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban), Naidu will be remembered for floating schemes such as Atal Mission for Urban Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY) and Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban).
In a first in the country, Naidu also adopted a competition based selection of smart cities for the mission.
In another first, Naidu ensured preparation of five-year comprehensive action plans for urban infrastructure development.
He laid emphasis on putting a time frame for achieving the results as against the open-ended approach of the past, the official added.
With his efforts, as against about 13 lakh affordable houses sanctioned during 2004-14, over 21 lakh houses were approved when he demitted office in a period of fewer than three years, the official said.
Besides, AMRUT action plans of all 500 mission cities for 2015-20 already stand approved.
As against only INR 32,000 crore project investment approved for affordable housing during 2004-14, over INR 1 lakh crore investment has been approved during the period of Naidu.
In another first, Naidu introduced approving state action plans for three years (2017-20) under AMRUT, doing away with the need for states to come to Delhi every year for approval of annual plans.
The competition-based selection of cities under smart city mission and ranking of cities and towns under 'Swachh Survekshan' since 2016 has resulted in a spirit of healthy competitive federalism/
The historic Real Estate (Regulation and Development ) Act, 2016 was also passed, ending eight-year-long hibernation in Parliament.
Naidu is also credited with merging the two ministries of urban development, and housing and urban poverty alleviation, giving birth to the new ministry of housing and urban affairs.
Naidu was the urban development and housing and urban poverty alleviation minister since May 2014 till he demitted office on being declared the NDA's vice presidential candidate.
He had also held portfolios of parliamentary affairs and information and broadcasting for around a year.
Staying true to his love for acronyms, Vice President elect M Venkaiah Naidu on Sunday said that India stands for 'Integrated National Development Impacting All Indians'.
About Venkaih Naidu
- Born in 1949 in Chavatapalem in Nellore district, Naidu was a “swayamsevak” in the RSS and joined ABVP during his college days.
- He came to the spotlight for his role in “Jai Andhra” movement of 1972 and became the convenor of the anti-corruption Jayaprakash Chhatra Samiti in 1974.
- He held street protests against the Emergency.
- Naidu was Rural Development Minister in the Vajpayee government between 2000-02.
In Modi's government, first he was Parliamentary Affairs Minister as well as the Housing and Urban Development.
- From Parliamentary Affairs, he was shifted to Information and Broadcasting Minister which portfolio he held till he was nominated as the Vice-Presidential candidate.
▼ NRIs get proxy voting rights [08-4-17]
The government was earlier considering granting them postal voting rights similar to voters in the armed forces, who can receive ballot papers electronically and print them.
The Government on Aug 2, 2017 approved changes in electoral laws to permit Non-Resident Indians to cast their vote in assembly and Lok Sabha elections from overseas.
If the proposal passes political muster in Parliament, NRIs will be able to exercise their voting rights through “proxy”.
Currently, only service personnel are permitted to vote through proxy.
However, the facility for NRIs will not be the same as that enjoyed by service personnel.
For instance, voters in the armed forces can nominate their relatives as permanent proxy to vote on their behalf.
But the Union Cabinet’s approval for proxy voting by NRIs carries a caveat: they cannot nominate one proxy for all polls.
Overseas electors will have to appoint a nominee afresh for each election - one person can act as proxy for only one overseas voter.
With the Cabinet’s approval, suitable rules and guidelines will be framed to make this move effective soon.
Currently, voters residing abroad can only cast their votes in their respective constituencies.
This regulation is seen as restrictive as only a few thousand Indians living overseas have registered as voters, the maximum being from Kerala.
Of these, barely anyone has travelled to the country to exercise his or her franchise.
Service voters mark their preference on ballot printouts and send them through post after verification by station officers for counting.
However, the government felt this procedure will be too cumbersome to implement in case of NRIs who live all over the world — a team of Ministers were constituted to discuss this aspect, and a final decision is awaited.
NRIs and Voting
- According to rough estimates, there are about 1 crore Indians settled abroad, of which 60 lakh could be of eligible voting age.
- They could hold considerable sway in election results, especially in states such as Punjab, Gujarat and Kerala, where a number of expats hail from.
- The move to grant proxy voting rights to overseas electors is significant against the backdrop of BJP’s claims of enjoying huge goodwill among NRIs.
- The party sought to deepen its electoral appeal among them through Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s public outreach programmes during his foreign visits after coming to power in 2014.
- The proposal to permit NRI voters to cast their vote from overseas was taken up seriously by the election commission in 2014 after it received several requests regarding this matter.