Daily Current Affairs for 24th May 2022

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Inter-State council

Why in News:

The Inter-State Council, which works to promote and support cooperative federalism in the country, has been reconstituted with Prime Minister Narendra Modi as Chairman and Chief Ministers of all States and six Union Ministers as members.

What is Inter-State Council?

The Constitution of India in Article 263, provided that an Inter-State Council (ISC) may be established “if at any time it appears to the President that the public interests would be served by the establishment of a Council”.

Establishment of ISC

• The constitution itself did not establish the ISC, because it was not considered necessary at the time the constitution was being framed, but kept the option for its establishment open.
• The ISC was established as a permanent body on 1990 by a presidential order on recommendation of Sarkaria Commission.
o The Commission on Centre-State Relations under the Chairmanship of Justice R. S. Sarkaria had recommended that a permanent Inter-State Council called the Inter-Governmental Council (IGC) should be set up under Article 263. The ISC has been established pursuant to this recommendation of the commission.

Can it be dissolved?

• It cannot be dissolved and re-established.

Status of ISC

• The current status of ISC is that of a permanent constitutional body.


• Decentralisation of powers to the states as much as possible.
• More transfer of financial resources to the states.
• Arrangements for devolution in such a way that the states can fulfil their obligations.
• Advancement of loans to states should be related to as ‘the productive principle’.
• Deployment of Central Armed Police Forces in the states either on their request or otherwise.


• The Inter-State Council composes of the following members:
• Prime Minister [Chairman]
• Chief Ministers of all states.
• Chief Ministers of the union territories having legislative assemblies.
• Administrators of the union territories not having legislative assemblies.
• 6 Union Cabinet Ministers, including Home Minister, to be nominated by the Prime Minister.
• Governors of the states being administered under President’s rule.

Standing Committee

• Home Minister, Chairman
• 5 Union Cabinet Ministers
• 9 Chief Ministers
The devastation in Dima Hasao and its after-effects
The story so far: Disaster struck Dima Hasao, central Assam’s hill district, in mid-May after incessant heavy rainfall.
How severe has the rain been in Assam?
• Assam is used to floods, sometimes even four times a year, resultant landslides and erosion.
• The pre-monsoon showers this year have been particularly severe on Dima Hasao, one of three hill districts in the State.
• Landslips have claimed four lives and damaged roads.
• The impact has been most severe on the arterial railway
• The disruption of train services has cut off the flood-hit Barak Valley, parts of Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura.

The devastation in Dima Hasao and its after-effects

The story so far: Disaster struck Dima Hasao, central Assam’s hill district, in mid-May after incessant heavy rainfall.
How severe has the rain been in Assam?
• Assam is used to floods, sometimes even four times a year, resultant landslides and erosion.
• The pre-monsoon showers this year have been particularly severe on Dima Hasao, one of three hill districts in the State.
• Landslips have claimed four lives and damaged roads.
• The impact has been most severe on the arterial railway
• The disruption of train services has cut off the flood-hit Barak Valley, parts of Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura.

Why is the railway in focus post-disaster?

• Dima Hasao straddles the Barail, a tertiary mountain range between the Brahmaputra and Barak River basins.
• The district is on the Dauki fault (the prone-to-earthquakes geological fractures between two blocks of rocks) straddling Bangladesh and parts of the northeast.
• British engineers were said to have factored in the fragility of the hills to build the railway line over 16 years by 1899. The end result was an engineering marvel 221 km long.
• The Commissioner of Railway Safety had in 2015 observed that the track was unsafe for passengers after nine derailments and the sinking of the track four months after the route was opened for goods trains.

Is only the railway at fault?

There is a general consensus that other factors have contributed to the situation Dima Hasao:
• Roads in the district, specifically the four-lane Saurashtra-Silchar (largest Barak Valley town) East-West Corridor, have been realigned or deviated from the old ones that were planned around rivers and largely weathered the conditions.
• The arterial roads build over the past 20 years often cave in and get washed away by floods or blocked by landslides.
• Shortened cycles of jhum or shifting cultivation on the hill slopes and unregulated mining have accentuated the “man-made disaster”.
• Massive extraction of river stone, illegal mining of coal and smuggling of forest timber… has led to the disaster.
• These activities have increased water current besides weakening either side of riverbanks.

• Massive extraction of river stone, illegal mining of coal and smuggling of forest timber… has led to the disaster.
• These activities have increased water current besides weakening either side of riverbanks.

How vital are the rail and highway through Dima Hasao?

• Meghalaya aside, Dima Hasao is the geographical link to a vast region comprising southern Assam’s Barak Valley, parts of Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura.
• This region has an alternative, less disaster-prone highway through Meghalaya linking the country beyond and may not thus be impacted by any damage to the four-lane highway through Dima Hasao, once it is completed.
• The Lumding-Badarpur railway line has been the lifeline for this region since goods trains started operating in March 2015.
• This track is vital for India’s Look East policy that envisages shipping goods to and from Bangladesh’s Chittagong port via Tripura’s border, the last railway station near the Feni River that serves as the India-Bangladesh border.
• The Dima Hasao line also links the ambitious 111 km Jiribam-Imphal railway project in Manipur being built on similar, landslide-prone terrain.
o There are plans to extend the Jiribam-Imphal line, which will have India’s tallest railway bridge and the longest railway tunnel, to Myanmar and beyond.

ASHA workers

Why in news: The World Health Organisation has recognised the country’s 10.4 lakh ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activist) workers as ‘Global Health Leaders’ for their efforts in connecting the community to the government’s health programmes.
Who are ASHA workers?
• ASHA workers are volunteers from within the community who are trained to provide information and aid people in accessing benefits of various healthcare schemes of the government.
• They act as a bridge connecting marginalised communities with facilities such as primary health centres, sub-centres and district hospitals.
• The role of these community health volunteers under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) was first established in 2005.
• ASHAs are primarily married, widowed, or divorced women between the ages of 25 and 45 years from within the community.
• They must have good communication and leadership skills; should be literate with formal education up to Class 8, as per the programme guidelines.
Genesis & evolution
• The ASHA programme was based on Chhattisgarh’s successful Mitanin programme, in which a Community Worker looks after 50 households.
• The ASHA was to be a local resident, looking after 200 households.
• The programme had a very robust thrust on the stage-wise development of capacity in selected areas of public health.
• Many states tried to incrementally develop the ASHA from a Community Worker to a Community Health Worker, and even to an Auxiliary Nurse Midwife (ANM)/ General Nurse and Midwife (GNM), or a Public Health Nurse.
• The idea was to make her a part of the village community rather than a government employee.
Building of a cadre
• It is a programme that has done well across the country. As skill sets improved, recognition and respect for the ASHA went up.
• It became a programme that allowed a local woman to develop into a skilled health worker.
• The process, along with the strengthening of the public infrastructure for health with flexible financing and innovations under the Health Mission and Health and Wellness Centres, led to increased footfall in government facilities.
• The Community Worker added value to this process.
• Incentives for deliveries of services and the setting up of emergency ambulance services across most states built pressure on public institutions and improved the mobility of ASHAs.
• Overall, it created a new cadre of incrementally skilled local workers who were paid based on performance.
• The ASHAs were respected as they brought basic health services to the doorstep of households.
Issue of compensation
• There have been challenges with regard to the performance-based compensation.
• In many states, the pay out is low, and often delayed.
• The original idea was never to deny the ASHA a compensation that could be even better than a salary — it was only to prevent “governmentalisation”, and promote “communitisation” by making her accountable to the people she served.
• Some states incentivised ASHAs to move up the human resource/ skilling ladder by becoming ANMs/ GNMs and even Staff Nurses after preferential admission to such courses.
Debate over status
• There is a strong argument to grant permanence to some of these positions with a reasonable compensation as sustaining motivation.
• The incremental development of a local resident woman is an important factor in human resource engagement in community-linked sectors.
• This should apply to other field functionaries such as ANMs, GNMs, Public Health Nurses as well.
• It is equally important to ensure that compensation for performance is timely and adequate.
• The important public policy lessons are the need to incrementally develop a local worker keeping accountability with the community, make performance-based payments, and provide a demand-side push with simultaneous augmentation of services in public systems.
• An ASHA should be able to make more than the salary of a government employee, with opportunities for moving up the skill ladder in the formal primary health care system as an ANM/ GNM or a Public Health Nurse.
• Upgrading skill sets and providing easy access to credit and finance will ensure a sustainable opportunity to earn a respectable living while serving the community.
• Strengthening access to health insurance, credit for consumption and livelihood needs at reasonable rates, and coverage under pro poor public welfare programmes will contribute to ASHAs emerging as even stronger agents of change.

What has happened in the Quad meetings so far?

• The March 2021 virtual summit gave rise to the main objectives of the Quad, outlined actionable goals, and formed expert working groups in multiple areas.
• The other areas of immediate focus were the pandemic through strengthening equitable vaccine access for the Indo-Pacific, combating climate change, sharing critical technologies, cyber security, supply chain resilience, and infrastructure and connectivity projects.
• Quad leaders launched the Quad Vaccine Initiative (QVI) with the aim of manufacturing and distributing at least a billion COVID-19 vaccines for the Asia region by the end of 2022.
• As for emerging technologies, the four countries aimed to work on the development and diversification of 5G telecommunications and the creation of supply chains for critical minerals and technologies for making semiconductors used in smartphones, another area where China is a leader.
• Quad nations had also agreed to build joint connectivity projects and transparent infrastructure funding for countries in the region.
o The emphasis on connectivity saw the Quad challenge China in another sphere: a coordinated effort to provide financing and sustainable alternatives to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which has led many nations to take loans and accept infrastructure bids from Beijing.
• The Quad also created a working group for combatting climate change which would oversee efforts to foster green shipping by decarbonising maritime supply chains and promoting the use of clean hydrogen.

• South Korea has expressed interest in joining the Quad
• The group has held “Quad-plus” meetings that have included South Korea, New Zealand and Vietnam, which could form the basis for future expansion or partnership in the region.
• entrusted with the responsibility of earmarking industrial space for e-waste dismantling and recycling facilities, undertaking industrial skill development and establishing measures for protecting the health and safety of workers engaged in the dismantling and recycling facilities for e-waste.
Do you know? 60% e-waste recycling likely by 2023
Why in News: On May 19, 2022, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has published the E-Waste (Management) Draft Rules which shall apply to every Manufacturer, Producer, Recycler, Refurbisher.
Key Highlights:
• Consumer goods companies and makers of electronics goods have to ensure at least 60% of their electronic waste is collected and recycled by 2023 with targets to increase them to 70% and 80% in 2024 and 2025 respectively.
• The rules also lay out a system of companies securing Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) certificates.
o These certificates certify the quantity of e-waste collected and recycled in a particular year by a company and an organisation may sell surplus quantities to another company to help it meet its obligations.
• Companies will have to register on an online portal and specify their annual production and e-waste collection targets.
• The chief entity that will coordinate the trade of EPR certificates and monitor if companies are meeting their targets is the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
• The EPR also requires producers to set up e-waste exchange facilities to facilitate collection and recycling, and assign specific responsibility to bulk consumers of electronic products for safe disposal.
The State governments have been
• The e-waste produced in India as per the data provided by the government is lower than estimates by international agencies.
• According to the Global E-Waste Monitor 2017, India generates about 2 million tonnes (MT) of e-waste annually and ranks fifth among e-waste producing countries, after the U.S., China, Japan and Germany.

Ayushman Bharat Health Account app

Why in News: The National Health Authority (NHA), under its flagship scheme of Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM), announced the launch of a revamped Ayushman Bharat Health Account (ABHA) mobile application.
What was the previous version?
The ABHA app, previously known as the NDHM Health Records app.
What is new in the new App?
• The app has a new user interface (UI) and added functionalities that enable individuals to access their health records anytime and anywhere.
• The existing ABHA app users can also update their previous app versions to the latest one.
• The ABHA app enables an individual to create an ABHA address (username@abdm), an easy-to-remember username that can be linked with the 14-digit randomly generated ABHA number.
• It also enables users to link their health records created at an ABDM-compliant health facility and view them on their smartphones.
• It allows self-uploading of physical health records in the ABDM-compliant health lockers, along with sharing of digital health records such as diagnostic reports, prescriptions and CoWIN vaccination certificate after the consent of an individual through the ABDM network.
• The app has new functionalities such as edit profile and link and unlink ABHA number (14 digit) with ABHA address.
• Other functionalities such as login via face and fingerprint authentication and ability to scan QR code at the counter of the ABDM-compliant facility for express registration shall also be released soon.

Why in news: Recently the West Bengal has announced appointments to key posts in West Bengal Human Rights Commission, Information Commission and Lokayukta.
• The Lokayukta ( “civil commissioner”) is the Indian Parliamentary Ombudsman, executed into power, through and for, each of the State Governments of India.
• It is brought into effect in a state, after passing the Lokayukta Act in respective state Legislature
• The post is created to quickly address grievances against the working integrity and efficiency of the government or its administration (public servants).
Removal and transfer
• Once appointed, Lokayukta cannot be dismissed or transferred by the government, and can only be removed by passing a motion by the state assembly, making it a powerful deterrent against corruption and mal-administration of the governing system.
• The 1st Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC) headed by Morarji Desai submitted a special interim report on “Problems of Redressal of Citizen’s Grievances” in 1966. In this report, the ARC recommended the setting up of two special authorities designated as ‘Lokpal’ and ‘Lokayukta’ for the redressal of citizens’ grievances.
• In 1968, the Government of India on the basis of the Administrative Reforms Commission report and its recommendation established the institution of Lokayukta on the pattern of the Ombudsman Institution and introduced a Bill which provided for appointment of Lokpal and his deputies at National level and included Lokayukta for the States.

• As other existing systems to handle these issues, namely courts, departmental authorities and other avenues were not sufficient to deal with issues of corruption other malpractices by public servants and therefore, an alternative and efficient system machinery was needed.
• To investigate complaints against administrative actions
• To improve the standard of public administration in India through investigation of complaints against administrative actions, which includes complaints of corruption, favouritism and indiscipline
You should know
• The Lokayukta, along with the Income Tax Department and the Anti-Corruption Bureau, mainly helps people publicise corruption among the Politicians and Government Officials.
• Many acts of the LokAyukta have resulted in criminal or other consequences for those charged.
• Maharashtra was the first state to introduce the institution of Lokayukta through The Lokayukta and Upa-Lokayuktas Act in 1971.
• Powers of Lokayukta in each state are different and efforts are being made to make them uniform.

• The Lokayukta is appointed by the Governor of the State, through nomination by its Chief Minister in consensus with:
o Chief justice of the State High Court
o Leaders of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council
o Speaker of the Legislative Assembly and Chairman of the Legislative Council.
• Any person who is a judge or a retired Chief Justice or a retired judge of the High Court is eligible to be appointed as Lokayukta.
Role in combating corruption and maladministration
• The Lokpal and Lokayukta Act 2013, makes it compulsory for each state to appoint Lokayukta similar to Lokpal at central level for investigation into complaints of corruption against government officers in public offices.
• As per the Act the institution should have both Judicial and Non-Judicial members.
• Lokayukta investigates cases of corruption committed at state level, and once proved recommends action.
• It is a great check on corruption, brings about transparency in the system, makes administrative machinery citizen friendly.
• He provides for inquiry/investigation into complaints of corruption against public servants.
• He protects Citizens’ Right against mal-administration, corruption, delay, inefficiency, non-transparency, abuse of position, improper conduct etc.
• To keep the powers of Lokayukta neutral and non-biased provision for fixed tenure is made.
• He is representative of Legislature, powerful friend of citizens to act against officials’ action, inaction or corruption. But not anti-administration, rather helps in humanizing relations between the public and the administration
• A step forward in establishing an ‘Open Government’ securing respect for the rule of law, an educator aiming at propagating the prevention of corruption, inefficiency and mal-administration in governance. He is, therefore, a check on corruption.
Reforms suggested
At the 11th All India Lokayukta Conference, sixteen Lokayuktas sent the following recommendations to the Indian government:
• Make the Lokayukta the central clearinghouse for all corruption charges; Give the Lokayukta jurisdiction over state-run investigation agencies;
• Bring bureaucrats within the Lokayuktas’ jurisdiction;
• grant search and seizure powers, as well as the ability to launch contempt procedures;
• To improve the Lokayukta’s performance, provide it administrative and financial autonomy;
• Bring government-funded non-governmental organizations (NGOs) under the Lokayukta’s authority.

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