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NATIONAL AFFAIRS - November 2019

Nov 2019

Nov 30, 2019

Rural ministry sanctions over 18,000 houses for Tripura under PMAY-Gramin

  •   Union Ministry of Rural Development  sanctioned additional houses under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Gramin (PMAY-G) for Tripura for the financial year 2019-20.
  • The Ministry sanctioned 18,338 additional houses for the state.
  • In accordance with the sanction, the first installment of the Central share of Rs 109.10 crore was also released for the construction of the additional houses.
  • The PMAY is a housing initiative of the Government of India launched in 2015 to provide affordable housing to the urban and the rural poor.
  • The target of PMAY is to build 20 million affordable houses by March 2022.

Srinagar-Jammu metro project to start operations by Sep 2024

  •  The Jammu and Kashmir government has set a September 2024 deadline to start operations on the Rs 9,590 crore metro project for twin cities of Jammu and Srinagar, an official spokesperson said on Friday. Lieutenant Governor Girish Chandra Murmu chaired a meeting to review the proposed Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS) and the Light Rail Projects for Jammu and Srinagar. 
  • Dheeraj Gupta, principal secretary, Housing and Urban Development department gave a detailed presentation on the Light Rail Projects in Jammu and Srinagar.

Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal Flags Off 100 Standard Floor Buses

  •  Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal flagged off 100 standard floor buses equipped with hydraulic lifts, CCTV cameras and panic button under the cluster scheme.Earlier this month, the Delhi government had rolled out another 100 standard buses.
  • With the addition of 100 new buses on Thursday, the cluster bus fleet operated by the Delhi Integrated Multi Modal System (DIMTS) has gone up to 2,000.

Nov 29, 2019

Trinamool Sweeps W. Bengal Bypolls

  •  West Bengal's ruling Trinamool Congress defeated the BJP in all three assembly seats to which by-elections took place on November 25, 2019 claiming that the outcome was a vote against the National Register of Citizens (NRC) championed by the BJP-led government at the Centre.
  • The by-elections were the first held in Bengal since the BJP made inroads into the state in the Lok Sabha elections.

Uddhav Sworn in as Maharashtra CM

  • Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray took oath as the 19th Chief Minister of Maharashtra in Mumbai's Shivaji Park, bringing the curtain down on over a month of political uncertainty that saw a rival government collapse barely 80 hours after a dramatic swearing-in ceremony.
  • He also announced the first decision of his government – Rs. 20 crore to conserve legendary Maratha king Chatrapati Shivaji's capital at the Raigad Fort – and said a comprehensive relief package for farmers was in the works.
  • Along with Thackeray, six ministers – two from each party – took oath but their portfolios were not specified: Sena's Eknath Shinde and Subhash Desai, NCP's Jayant Patil and Chhagan Bhujbal, and Congress' Balasaheb Thorat and Nitin Raut. The government has to prove its majority on the floor of the assembly by December 3, 2019.

Emblem Misuse to Be Punished by Jail, Rs. 5 lakh Fine

  •  The government has proposed increasing the fine for illegal and improper use of national emblems for commercial gains from Rs. 500 to Rs. 1 lakh — the suggested change also includes jail time and a fine of Rs. 5 lakh for repeat offenders — in an attempt to crack down on misuse.
  • The Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950, restricts the use of the national flag, the coat-of-arms used by a government department, the official seal of the President or governor, the pictorial representation of Mahatma Gandhi and the Prime Minister, and the Ashoka Chakra.
  • The other change being considered is that in case of a prosecution, the onus to prove that the alleged contravention was lawfully authorised shall be on the violator. Right now, the onus is on the state. 

Parliament Clears Chit Fund Bill

  •  The Parliament passed a bill which seeks to raise the monetary limits for chit funds and commission for foreman.
  • The Chit Funds (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was passed by voice vote in Rajya Sabha. The bill got Lok Sabha's nod earlier this month.
  • The maximum chit amount is proposed to be raised from Rs. 1 lakh to Rs. 3 lakh for those managed by individuals or less than four partners, and from Rs. 6 lakh to Rs. 18 lakh for firms with four or more partners.
  • The maximum commission for foreman, who is responsible for managing the chit, is proposed to be raised from 5 per cent to 7 per cent. The bill also allows the foreman a right to lien against the credit balance from subscribers.
  • The bill also introduces words such as fraternity fund, rotating savings and credit institution to make chit funds more respectable.

Nov 28, 2019

AP to Raise Income Limit for BPL Category

  •  In a major decision which is likely to impact welfare schemes and programmes, the Andhra Pradesh Cabinet decided to enhance the income limit for the Below Poverty Line (BPL) category. A family with an annual income of Rs. 1.20 lakh in rural areas will now fall under the BPL category and in urban areas, the upper limit is Rs. 1.44 lakh per annum. The government will issue new ration cards in line with the new BPL criteria.
  • Information and Public Relations (I&PR) Minister Perni Venkataramaiah (Nani) said that the Cabinet decided to bifurcate the Andhra Pradesh Southern Power Distribution Company Limited (APSPDCL) into the Andhra Pradesh Southern Distribution Company Limited and the Andhra Pradesh Central Power Distribution Company Limited.

NCP to Get Deputy CM Post, Speaker to be from Congress

  • The Nationalist Congress Party will get Deputy Chief Minister's post in the new Shiv Sena-led Maharashtra government.
  • The Congress will get Assembly Speaker's post while the NCP will get Deputy Speaker's post.
  • Along with Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, who will be sworn in as Chief Minister, one or two members of each of the three parties will take oath as ministers.
  • There will be only one Deputy CM's post in the government.
  • Maharashtra can have a maximum of 43 ministers as the size of council of ministers cannot exceed 15 per cent of the total number of MLAs, which is 288 in the state.

Nov 27, 2019

Uddhav Thackeray Formally Chosen as New Maharashtra CM

  • Shiv Sena President Uddhav B. Thackeray was unanimously elected as chief of the 'Maha Vikas Aghadi', paving the way for his becoming the new Chief Minister of Maharashtra.
  • Thackeray's name was proposed by Nationalist Congress Party state President Jayant Patil and Congress state President Balasaheb Thorat at a meeting of all the parties in the 'Maha Vikas Aghadi'.
  • The fast-paced developments came barely hours after Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Deputy CM Ajit Pawar abruptly resigned, a day before the special session of Maharashtra Legislative Assembly was to be convened as ordered by the Supreme Court. 

Lokpal Logo and Motto Released

  •  Anti-corruption ombudsman Lokpal got its logo and motto after receiving over 6,000 entries through an open competition.
  • A total of 2,236 entries were received for logo and 4,705 for motto or slogan from people of varied age group and from different parts of the country in response to the open competition.
  • While the design of the logo was selected from among the entries, the personnel ministry said that none of the entries for motto or slogan were found suitable and it was selected by the Lokpal itself.
  • On the basis of a three-stage selection process, the design of Prashant Mishra from Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh was selected for adoption as the logo of Lokpal.
  • The logo is based upon the literal meaning of Lokpal -- 'Lok' meaning people and 'pal' meaning caretaker, i.e. caretaker of people.
  • The logo symbolises how Lokpal protects and cares for the people of the country by establishing justice as per law.

Government Plans to Merge 2 UTs

  • The government introduced a bill in the Lok Sabha to merge two Union Territories -- Daman and Diu, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli into one.
  • The bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha by Union Minister of State for Home G. Kishan Reddy.
  • The move comes three months after Jammu and Kashmir was divided into two UTs -- Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
  • The merged Union Territory is likely to be named as Dadra, Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu and its headquarters could be Daman and Diu.
  • The country currently has nine Union Territories after the creation of the UTs of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. However, with the merger of Daman and Diu, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli, the number of UTs will come down to eight.

I&B Ministry Plans Law to List News Websites with RNI

  • The Union Information and Broadcasting ministry is planning to bring in a legislation that will make it mandatory for news websites to get themselves registered with the Registrar of Newspapers of India (RNI).
  • According to a draft of the "Registration of Press and Periodicals (RPP)" Bill 2019 — put up by the I&B ministry on its website — "publishers of news on digital media shall register themselves with the Registrar of Newspapers of India in such manner and giving such particulars as may be prescribed".
  • The bill does not specify if it will require websites of newspapers registered with RNI to be registered separately. It defines "news on digital media" in a broad manner as any news content that "can be transmitted over the internet, computer or mobile networks and includes text, audio, video and graphics".
  • Among other provisions, the act mandates that there will be a Press Registrar General.
  • The Press Registrar General would empowered to obtain annual statements from a printer and a periodical to verify the circulation figures and also to revise, revoke or suspend registration of a periodical.

Nov 26, 2019

J&K Leaders Refuse to Sign Release Bonds

  •  The Jammu and Kashmir administration opened channels of communication with 32 detained political prisoners of the regional parties, but put riders on their release. Meanwhile, two leaders, Jammu and Kashmir People Democratic Front's Hakeem Yaseen and Peoples Democratic Party's (PDP) Mohammad Ashraf Mir, were released, indicating a move to release the leaders in a phased manner.
  • In the past 10 days, a Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM)-level officer visited senior leaders of the National Conference (NC), the PDP, the Peoples Conference (PC) and the J&K Peoples Movement (J&KPM) more than three times and discussed ways and means to ensure their release.As per Mr. Sagar and Mr. Akhtar, told the government point man that such bonds were aimed at "curtailing the rightful political space of regional players, discredit the local leadership in front of the eyes of the locals and were being publicised later only to add to the political vacuum post August 5."
  • The bonds, which the leaders were being asked to sign, reads: "He/she will not make any comment or issue statement or make public speeches or participate in the public assembly related to recent event for a period of one year from the date of signature of the bond."

Centre Introduces Bill to Amend SPG Act in Lok Sabha

  •  Minister of State for Home G. Kishan Reddy introduced the Special Protection Group (Amendment) Bill, 2019, amid din in the Lok Sabha as the House erupted in protests against political developments in Maharashtra.
  • The statement of objects and reasons of the Bill said that it is "considered to amend the Act to focus on core mandate, as the security of the Prime Minister, as Head of the Government, is of paramount importance for Government, governance and national security."
  • As per the Bill, "SPG shall provide proximate security to the Prime Minister and his immediate family members residing with him at his official residence."
  • The SPG Act was enacted in 1988 to provide for the constitution and regulation of the SPG as an armed force to provide proximate security to the Prime Minister and his/her immediate family members. The Act was amended in 1991, 1994, 1999 and 2003 to extend SPG cover to former Prime Ministers and their immediate family members for different periods of demitting office.

Jagan Launches Anti-corruption Helpline

  •  In a bid to encourage people to report corruption cases, Chief Minister Y. S. Jagan Mohan Reddy-led Andhra Pradesh government launched a dedicated call centre to receive complaints regarding corruption in the state.
  • Lauding the move, Anti-Corruption Bureau Director General, Kumar Vishwajeet, urged people to come forward with complaints and "make Andhra Pradesh a corruption-free state".
  • The Chief Minister launched a toll-free number -- 14400 -- to receive complaints related to corruption. Anyone in the state can call on this number and report about any corruption related activity in any government department.
  • The government has also taken a progressive step by roping in IIM Ahmedabad, which is going to do a study on several departments. Their procedural aspects will be taken into account and all the loopholes in the system will be closed so that corruption does not take place.
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