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SM Current Affairs APRIL 2021 Set 07 Miscellaneous

SM Current Affairs APRIL 2021 Set 07 Miscellaneous

Diksha Sharma 15 MINUTES

MISCELLANEOUS

TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. INDIA’S HEALTHCARE SECTOR
2. INDIA’S MARITIME DOCTRINE
3. WORLD’S 1ST COVID VACCINE FOR ANIMALS
4. MARITIME EXERCISE LA PEROUSE
5. SHANTIR OGROSHENA
6. WORLD HEALTH DAY
7. BRAITAIN PRINCE PHILIP PASSED AWAY
8. DGCA APPROVED SPUTNIK-V VACCINE
9. SUSHIL CHANDRA AS NEW CEC
10. 12TH NATIONAL PANCHAYATI RAJ DAY

#INDIA’S HEALTHCARE SECTOR TO REACH USD 372 BN IN 2022

• According to the latest report released by Niti Aayog, healthcare has become one of the largest sectors of India and is expected to reach USD 372 billion in the year 2022.

• The report by Niti Aayog outlined a range of investment opportunities in the healthcare sector of India across pharmaceuticals, hospitals, medical devices, areas of new-age technologies, and home healthcare solutions.

• The report mentioned that the healthcare industry in India has been growing at a compound annual growth rate of around 22% since 2016 and at this rate, it has been expected to reach 372 billion dollars in 2022.

Report by Niti Aayog: key Highlights

• The Niti Aayog report titled ‘Investment Opportunities in India’s Healthcare Sector’ mentioned that the healthcare sector in the country has the potential to create 27 lakh jobs between 2017 and 2022. It means over 5 lakh new jobs every year.

• The FDI inflows in this sector in India have increased from USD 94 million in 2011 to USD 1,275 million in 2016. In the hospital segment in India, the expansion of the private hospitals to tier-II and tier-III locations has offered an attractive investment opportunity.

• The technology advancements such as wearables, artificial intelligence, and other mobile technologies have offered several avenues for investment in key segments.

Hospital industry in India:

• The Indian hospital industry accounts for 80% of the total healthcare market. In 2016-2017, the hospital industry was valued at USD 61.79 billion and is now expected to reach USD 132 billion by the year 2023.

• As per the latest report, around 65% of the hospital beds cater to almost 50% of the population which is centered in Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, West Bengal, Telangana, and Kerala.

• While the other 50% of the population in the remaining states and UTs has access to only 35% of the hospital beds. The report suggests that there is a potential to grow hospital beds, by at least 30%, to ensure equitable access to healthcare for citizens all over India.

Healthcare industry perfect for investment:

• According to Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant, the pandemic has not only given challenges but has also provided several opportunities for India to grow and all these factors make the country’s healthcare industry perfect for investment.

• While mentioning the home healthcare solutions in India, on the account of the rising elderly population, enhanced demand for personalized care, increase in chronic disease as well as emergency of nuclear family structures, home healthcare has tremendous potential for growth in the near future.


#INDIA’S MARITIME DOCTRINE

 Recently, soon after Joe Biden became the president of the US, the new US secretary of defense visited India. The interesting takeaway of this visit was the specific mention to pursue enhanced cooperation between the Indian armed forces and the US maritime forces.

 This underlined the strategic importance of India in US foreign policy, especially Indo-Pacific engagements. Since Independence, India has enjoyed an advantageous position in the Indian Ocean, primarily accorded through its geography.

 Moreover, the lack of direct competition after the end of the Cold War allowed India to continue with its limited maritime approach while retaining the role of a key Indian Ocean player. However, there are many challenges in India’s maritime policy.

Challenges in India’s Maritime Doctrine

 Silos Approach in the Indian Ocean: India’s political class has divided the Indian ocean into many sub-regions.
 Traditionally, India draws a line with Mauritius and Seychelles as its areas of strategic collaboration in the Indian Ocean.
 In terms of sub-regions, the priority is in the northern (Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal), and eastern Indian Ocean (the Andaman Sea and Straits of Malacca).
 Due to this, the western Indian Ocean and the eastern coast of Africa still continue to be in the maritime periphery in India’s foreign policy.
 Lesser Hold on Strategic Chokepoint: China’s first overseas military base was set up in the western Indian Ocean, in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa.
 Russia too recently acquired a base in Sudan, on the Red Sea coast, between the Suez Canal and Bab-el-Mandeb — a strategic chokepoint in the Indian Ocean.
 However, beyond the anti-piracy mission, India’s presence and maritime engagements with the African coast have been largely ad hoc.
 Increasing Chinese Assertiveness: Through the Maritime Silk Road, China engages with littorals and islands across the Ocean.
 China has consistently aimed to improve its diplomatic, political, and military engagements in the region from Sri Lanka to Comoros, spanning the Indian Ocean in its entirety.
 Continental Bias: India’s reorientation toward the maritime domain has not been easy, with generations of foreign and defense service officials focusing and training on continental issues.
 Further, the Indian Navy is allotted approximately 14% of the defense budget speaks clearly to the defense establishment’s priorities.

Conclusion

 Synchronizing Foreign & Defense Policies: With the establishment of the Indian Ocean division in the ministry of external affairs (MEA) in 2016, MEA appears to be undertaking a more active approach.
 However, the defense establishment has to match foreign policy engagements.
 Holistic View of Indian Ocean: The Indian Ocean as China is emerging as the key competitor to India’s interests in the Indian Ocean Region.
 Thus, there is a need to view the Indian Ocean as one continuous space and understand regional dynamics better.
 Collaborating With Important Players: India should supplement its partnership with the US with a network of multilateral groups with other middle powers, such as the India-Australia-Japan forum and the trilateral dialogue with France and Australia.
 While this is not to discount India’s continental troubles, seen in recent crises such as Doklam and Ladakh, there is a need to understand the importance of maritime geography and its link to India’s strategic interests and growing competition in the region.

 

#WORLD’S FIRST-EVER COVID VACCINE FOR ANIMALS

• Carnivac-Cov, the world's first-ever COVID-19 vaccine for animals was registered recently by Russia. According to the country's agriculture safety watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor, the vaccine will provide immunity to animals from coronavirus for at least six months after vaccination.

• However, the developers of the vaccine are continuing to analyse the immunity provided by the vaccine.
Rosselkhoznadzor also informed that mass production of the vaccine could start as early as April.

• Significance:So far, Carnivac-Cov is the world's first and only vaccine for preventing Covid-19 in animals.

Carnivac-Cov

• Carnivac-Cov, a sorbate inactivated vaccine against the coronavirus infection has been developed by a unit of Rosselkhoznadzor (Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance).

• The clinical trials of the vaccine had begun in October 2020 and they had involved various animals such as cats, dogs, minks, foxes and Arctic foxes. According to Russian scientists, the use of the vaccine can prevent the development of virus mutations.

Is the Carnivac-Cov vaccine safe?

• According to Konstantin Savenkov, the deputy head of the Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance, the outcome of the research shows that the vaccine is safe and has a strong immunogenic effect, as all animals that were vaccinated developed antibodies.

• Russian scientists are continuing their research of the vaccine to determine how long the vaccine's effects last in the animals.

Does COVID-19 spread from animals to humans?

• As per the World Health Organization, though COVID-19 is believed to have originated from bats, there is no evidence showing significant role of animals in spreading the virus to people.

• WHO, though did stated that the virus can spread from people to animals in situations of close contact. The health body had stated that there have been reports of animals contracting COVID-19 worldwide. It acknowledged that cats, dogs, big cats, minks, gorillas and few other mammals can get infected by the virus.

Background

• Denmark had killed almost all 17 million mink on its farms last year after it concluded that the virus had passed from humans to mink and that mutated strains of the virus had then returned to infect few people.

 

#MULTILATERAL MARITIME EXERCISE LA PEROUSE

Indian Navy Ships INS Satpura and INS Kiltan alongwith P8I Long Range Maritime Patrol Aircraft are participating, for the first time in multilateral maritime exercise La Pérouse, being conducted in the Eastern Indian Ocean Region from 5th to 7th April 2021.

 Post conduct of La Perouse, the Indo-French Naval exercise “Varuna“ is scheduled in the Western Indian Ocean, wherein UAE too shall be participating.

About the Exercise:

 The first edition of La Pérouse joint exercise, initiated by France in 2019, included ships from Australia, Japan and the US.
 The exercise is named after the eighteenth century French Naval explorer.
 India's participation in 2021 completed the QUAD force representation in the French led Naval Exercise.
 QUAD is a grouping of India, USA, Australia and Japan which aims to safeguard the interests of democratic nations in the Indo-Pacific region and address global challenges.
 It will witness complex and advanced naval operations including surface warfare, anti-air warfare and air defence exercises, weapon firing exercises, cross deck flying operations, tactical manoeuvres and seamanship evolutions such as replenishment at sea.
 It will provide an opportunity for these five like-minded, high-end naval forces to develop closer links, sharpen their skills, and promote maritime cooperation throughout a free and open Indo-Pacific.

Naval Significance of Indo-Pacific:

 The Indo-Pacific is slowly but surely turning into a serious Naval Theatre for multi-national activities with a vision to establish a free, open, inclusive and a rule-based ordering of the Indo-Pacific to support the freedom of navigation and peaceful cooperative use of the seas.
 The goal is to respect and adhere to the international laws like the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and peaceful resolution of territorial sea disputes.
 The role of the QUAD navies in the IOR (Indian Ocean Region) has been well illustrated by the effective cooperative engagement capabilities of the multi-national Naval powers through naval exercises like formation sailing, live fire drills, Search and Rescue (SAR) operations etc.
 Navies of member countries of QUAD participated in Malabar wargaming exercise in November 2020.
 On the other hand, China endeavours to establish a defensive perimeter around its seas (Yellow Sea, East China Sea and part of South China Sea) by following a sea denial policy in these regions.

QUAD+ France Pacific Ocean Concerns:

 The region of Pacific Islands stretches from Hawaii in the north to Tonga in the south, and Easter Island in the east to New Caledonia in the west.
 US interest in the Indo-Pacific region has always been well illustrated with the fact that US Indo-Pacific Command established after World War II is the largest unified command.
 France has a direct strategic and economic stake in New Caledonia, French Polynesia, and Wallis and Futuna. France is a member of the Pacific Community and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).
 Japan although has trade ties with China but has always been suspicious of China’s growth as a military power. China’s assertiveness closer to Japanese waters and airspace have been a testing time for Japan.
 Indian Navy has always maintained a tactical advantage over the IOR to ensure compliance to the internationally established Rules of the Road (ROR) for the seas.
 This has been respected by the world (like declaration of warships transiting IOR etc.), but Indian Navy has observed and reported multiple sightings of undeclared Chinese ships and submarines suspiciously lurking within the IOR.

 

#MULTINATIONAL MILITARY EXERCISE ‘SHANTIR OGROSHENA’

• On April 4, 2021, the multinational military exercise “ShantirOgroshena, 2021” was begun at Bangabandhu Senanibas, Bangladesh. The exercise is being held to commemorate the birth centenary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. He is the Father of Bangladesh.

ShantirOgroshena

• The exercise is to be held between April 4, 2021 and April 12, 2021. Indian Army contingent of thirty personnel are participating in the exercise. The other participants in the exercise are Sri Lankan Army, Royal Bhutan Army, Bangladesh Army.

• Also, military observers from UK, USA, Turkey, Kuwait, Singapore and Saudi Arabia are to participate in the exercise. The main objective of the exercise is to enhance interoperability among neighbourhood. This will help in peace keeping operations.

• The armies of the participating nations are to share their experiences in peace keeping during the exercise. The theme of the exercise is: “Robust Peace Keeping Operations”

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman

• Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was a Bangladeshi politician. He was the first president of Bangladesh. He is popularly called as “Bangabandhu”.

• He was a leading figure in Awami League political party that was founded in 1949. He later became the leader of the party. The party played a major role in the Bangladesh Liberation war in 1971.

• His daughter Sheikh Hasina is the current President of Bangladesh. In 1975, Rahman and most of his family members were killed by a group of young Bangladesh Army. On March 17, 2020, the Bangladesh Government celebrated the 100th birth anniversary of Bangabandhu.

• The Indian Government conferred the Gandhi Peace Prize for the year 2020 to Bangabandhu.

• Other MilitaryExercises between India and Bangladesh

• SAMPRITI is a joint military training exercise held between India and Bangladesh.
• India and Bangladesh Navies hold CORPAT exercises annually.
• In October 2020, the countries held BONGOSAGAR Naval exercise.

 

#WORLD HEALTH DAY: APRIL 7TH

• On the occasion of World Health Day on April 7, 2021, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that it is a day to “reaffirm our gratitude and appreciation to all those who work day and night to keep our planet healthy.”’

• PM Modi also urged on keeping the focus on fighting COVID-19 by taking all possible precautions including wearing a mask, regularly washing hands, and following other protocols. He is also insisted on taking all possible steps to boost immunity and stay fit.

• He mentioned that the government is committed to supporting innovation and research in healthcare. He highlighted that the Government of India is taking numerous measures such as Ayushman Bharat and PM Janaushadhi Yojana to ensure people get access to top quality and affordable healthcare.

What is World Health Day and why it is celebrated?

• Since its inception in 1950, World Health Day is celebrated on April 7 each year.

• According to the World Health Organization, the day aims at creating awareness around specific health themes and issues that are a priority area of concern. People across the world take part in activities and campaigns which serve as an opportunity to focus on various important aspects of global health.

World Health Day Theme 2021

• The theme for World Health Day 2021 is ‘Building a fairer, healthier world for everyone.’

• In the wake of the pandemic, WHO stated that our world is an unequal one. Some people have better access to health services than others. Hence, the organization has called on leaders to monitor health inequities and to ensure quality health services to all.

• Each year, WHO devises a new theme. Last year, the theme was ‘Year of the Nurse and Midwife.’


#BRITAIN’S PRINCE PHILIP, PASSED AWAY

• Britain's Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh passed away at the age of 99 years on April 9, 2021. The Buckingham Palace confirmed the same through a statement that read, "It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen has announced the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh."

• Prince Philip had been admitted King Edward VII's Hospital in London on February 16 for treatment of an infection. He had been later transferred to a specialized cardiac care hospital, St. Bartholomew's. He had returned to King Edward VII's Hospital shortly after and was discharged on March 16th.

• UK Prime Minister's official twitter account released a statement saying, "Prince Philip lived an extraordinary life-as a naval hero in the Second World War, as the man who inspired countless young people through the Duke of Edinburgh's Award and above all, as Her Majesty The Queen's loyal consort."

 

Prince Philip: All about his Life Journey

• Prince Philip had married Queen Elizabeth II in 1947 when she was known as Princess Elizabeth. She became the Queen of England five years later. Prince Philip was the longest-serving royal consort in British history, being by his wife's side throughout her 69-year reign.

• The Prince and the Queen have four children- Prince of Wales Prince Charles (1948), Princess Anne (1950), Prince Andrew (1960) and Prince Edward (1964). They also have 8 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren .

• Philip was born in Greece on June 10, 1921. He was born into the Greek and Danish royal families, as his father was Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark, the younger son of King George I of the Hellenes.

• His mother was Princess Alice, who was the daughter of Lord Louis Mountbatten and a great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria. His family, however was exiled from Greece when he was a small child. After receiving education in different countries including the United Kingdom, Germany and France, he joined the British Royal Navy in 1939 at the age of 18.

• He had met Princess Elizabeth for the first time in 1934 and began corresponding with her from 1939. He had served Britain's Mediterranean and Pacific Fleets with distinction during the Second World War.

• After the war ended, he recieved permission from George VI to marry Elizabeth. He abandoned his Greek and Danish titles and adopted his maternal grandparent's surname Mountbatten before the official announcement of their engagement.

• Philip married Princess Elizabeth on November 20, 1947. He was granted the titles- His Royal Highness and Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth and Baron Greenwich.

• Philip left active military service when Elizabeth became the Queen of England in 1952. He was made a British Prince in 1957.

• Prince Philip was the longest-lived male member of the British royal family till he was alive. He had retired from his royal duties on August 2, 2017 at the age of 96 years.


#DGCA APPROVED SPUTNIK V FOR EMERGENCY USE

• India's Subject Expert Committee has approved Dr. Reddy's application for emergency use authorisation to Russia's Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine.

• This is the third vaccine to receive emergency use approval in India after the two locally manufactured vaccines- Bharat Biotech's Covaxin and Oxford-Astrazeneca'sCovishield.

• The move follows concerns raised by several states across India over the shortage of COVID-19 vaccine doses.

India to manufacture 5 more COVID vaccines by October 2021

• The central government has decided to speed up COVID-19 vaccine production in the wake of shortage concerns. As per government sources, India is expected to get vaccines from five additional manufacturers by October 2021, which includes Russia's Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine that has already got an emergency nod.

• The five more vaccines that are expected to be locally manufactured in India by the third quarter of 2021 include:


• Sputnik V: The Russian vaccine will be locally manufactured in India in collaboration with Dr. Reddy's.

• Johnson & Johnson vaccine: The vaccine that has received emergency approval will be manufactured locally in India in collaboration with Biological E.

• Novavax vaccine - The vaccine will be manufactured in collaboration with the Serum Institute of India.

• Zydus Cadila's vaccine

• Bharat Biotech's Intranasal Vaccine.

Key Details

• The union government is primarily focusing on the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine before granting it emergency use authorisation (EUA).

• Almost 20 COVID-19 vaccines are at various clinical and pre-clinical stages in the country. Russia's Sputnik V vaccine has become the first among them to get the emergency nod.

• The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) has collaborated with many local Indian pharmaceutical players such as Hyderabad based Dr. Reddy's Laboratories, Hetero Biopharma, Gland Pharma, Stelis Biopharma and Vichrow Biotech to locally manufacture the vaccine doses.

Significance

• With a production capacity of 850 million doses in the country, Sputnik V is expected to provide a major boost to India's fight against COVID-19. Sputnik V is the world's first registered vaccine against COVID-19 virus. It was registered in August 2020.
• When will the Sputnik V vaccine be made available in India? Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine is expected to be available for use in India latest by June.
• When will other vaccines be available?
• Johnson and Johnson's vaccineis expected to be available by August, Zydus Cadilla's vaccine is also expected to be available by August, while Serum Institute's Novavex is expected to be available by September and the Bharat Biotech's Intranasal Vaccine is expected to be available by October.

Background

• The Indian government is making all the efforts to ensure that Indians have equitable access to the highest quality vaccines in the world. It is attempting to accelerate vaccine production and availability without cutting any corners in research, development and clinical trial stages.

• The government has decided to ensure all steps are taken to help domestic manufacturers to scale up vaccine production manifold. It is encouraging all COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers to come to India, promising the required manufacturing assistance, financial support and partnership in running and designing clinical trials.

• India is currently facing its second wave of COVID-19 pandemic, which is deadlier than the first one with over 1.5 lakh new coronavirus cases being reported each day.

 

SUSHIL CHANDRA APPOINTED AS NEW CEC

Recently, the President appointed Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra as the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC).

 He replaces Sunil Arora who has retired.

About the Election Commission of India:

 The Election Commission of India (ECI) is an autonomous constitutional authority responsible for administering Union and State election processes in India.
 It was established in accordance with the Constitution on 25th January 1950 (celebrated as national voters' day). The secretariat of the commission is located in New Delhi.
 The body administers elections to the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, and State Legislative Assemblies in India, and the offices of the President and Vice President in the country.
 It is not concerned with the elections to panchayats and municipalities in the states. For this, the Constitution of India provides for a separate State Election Commission.

Constitutional Provisions:

 Part XV (Article 324-329) of the Indian Constitution: It deals with elections, and establishes a commission for these matters.

 Article 324: Superintendence, direction and control of elections to be vested in an Election Commission.

 Article 325: No person to be ineligible for inclusion in, or to claim to be included in a special, electoral roll on grounds of religion, race, caste or sex.

 Article 326: Elections to the House of the People and to the Legislative Assemblies of States to be on the basis of adult suffrage.

 Article 327: Power of Parliament to make provision with respect to elections to Legislatures.

 Article 328: Power of Legislature of a State to make provision with respect to elections to such Legislature.

 Article 329: Bar to interference by courts in electoral matters.
Structure of ECI:

 Originally the commission had only one election commissioner but after the Election Commissioner Amendment Act 1989, it has been made a multi-member body
 The Election Commission shall consist of the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and such number of other election commissioners, if any, as the President may from time to time fix.
 Presently, it consists of the CEC and two Election Commissioners.
 At the state level, the election commission is helped by the Chief Electoral Officer who is an IAS rank Officer.

 


Appointment & Tenure of Commissioners:

 The President appoints CEC and Election Commissioners.
 They have a fixed tenure of six years, or up to the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier.
 They enjoy the same status and receive salary and perks as available to Judges of the Supreme Court (SC) of India.
 Removal: They can resign anytime or can also be removed before the expiry of their term.
 The CEC can be removed from office only through a process of removal similar to that of a SC judge by Parliament.

Procedure of Removal

 Judges of High Courts and SC, CEC, Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) may be removed from office through a motion adopted by Parliament on grounds of ‘proved misbehaviour or incapacity’.
 Removal requires a special majority of 2/3rd members present and voting supported by more than 50% of the total strength of the house.
 The Constitution does not use the word ‘impeachment’, for the removal of the judges, CAG, CEC.
 The term ‘Impeachment’ is only used for removing the President which requires the special majority of 2/3rd members of the total strength of both the houses which is not used elsewhere.
 Limitations: The Constitution has not prescribed the qualifications (legal, educational, administrative or judicial) of the members of the Election Commission.
 The Constitution has not specified the term of the members of the Election Commission.
 The Constitution has not debarred the retiring election commissioners from any further appointment by the government.

Powers and Functions of ECI:

 Administrative: To determine the territorial areas of the electoral constituencies throughout the country on the basis of the Delimitation Commission Act of Parliament.
 To prepare and periodically revise electoral rolls and to register all eligible voters.
 To grant recognition to political parties and allot election symbols to them.
 Election Commission ensures a level playing field for the political parties in election fray, through strict observance by them of a Model Code of Conduct evolved with the consensus of political parties.
 Advisory Jurisdiction & Quasi-Judicial Functions: Under the Constitution, the Commission has advisory jurisdiction in the matter of post election disqualification of sitting members of Parliament and State Legislatures.
 The opinion of the Commission in all such matters is binding on the President or, as the case may be, the Governor to whom such opinion is tendered.
 Further, the cases of persons found guilty of corrupt practices at elections which come before the SC and High Courts are also referred to the Commission for its opinion on the question as to whether such person shall be disqualified and, if so, for what period.
 The Commission has the power to disqualify a candidate who has failed to lodge an account of his election expenses within the time and in the manner prescribed by law.


#12TH NATIONAL PANCHAYATI RAJ DAY

India commemorates the 12th National Panchayati Raj day on 24th April 2021.

 The Prime Minister has launched the distribution of e-property cards under the SWAMITVA scheme on the Day.

About:

 Background: The first National Panchayati Raj Day was celebrated in 2010. Since then, the National Panchayati Raj Day is celebrated on 24th April every year in India.
 Awards Presented on the Day: The Ministry of Panchayati Raj has been awarding the best performing Panchayats/States/UTs across the country in recognition of their good work.
 Awards are given under various categories namely,
 DeenDayal Upadhyay Panchayat SashaktikaranPuraskar,
 Nanaji Deshmukh Rashtriya Gaurav Gram Sabha Puraskar,
 Child-friendly Gram Panchayat Award,
 Gram Panchayat Development Plan Award and
 E-Panchayat Puraskar (given to States/UTs only).
 For the first time, the Prime Minister will transfer the award money (as Grants-in-Aid) directly to the bank account of the Panchayats concerned in real time.

Panchayati Raj:

 After the Constitution came into force, Article 40 made a mention of panchayats and Article 246 empowered the state legislature to legislate with respect to any subject relating to local self-government.
 Panchayati Raj Institution (PRI) was constitutionalized through the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1992 to build democracy at the grass roots level and was entrusted with the task of rural development in the country.
 PRI is a system of rural local self-government in India.
 Local Self Government is the management of local affairs by such local bodies who have been elected by the local people.
 To strengthen e-Governance in Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) across the country, Ministry of Panchayati Raj (MoPR) has launched eGramSwaraj, a user friendly web-based portal.
 It unifies the planning, accounting and monitoring functions of Gram Panchayats. It’s combination with the Area Profiler application, Local Government Directory (LGD) and the Public Financial Management System (PFMS) renders easier reporting and tracking of Gram Panchayat’s activities.

About SVAMITVA Scheme:

 SVAMITVA (Survey of Villages and Mapping with Improvised Technology in Village Areas) scheme is a collaborative effort of the Ministry of Panchayati Raj, State Panchayati Raj Departments, State Revenue Departments and Survey of India.

 Aim: To provide an integrated property validation solution for rural India.

 It is a scheme for mapping the land parcels in rural inhabited areas using drone technology and Continuously Operating Reference Station (CORS).

 The mapping will be done across the country in a phase-wise manner over a period of four years - from 2020 to 2024.

Salient Features of the 73rd Constitutional Amendment

 The 73rd Constitutional Amendment added Part IX titled “The Panchayats” to the Constitution.
 Basic unit of democratic system-Gram Sabhas (villages) comprising all the adult members registered as voters.
 Three-tier system of panchayats at village, intermediate block/taluk/mandal and district levels except in States with population is below 20 lakhs (Article 243B).
 Seats at all levels to be filled by direct elections (Article 243C (2)).

Reservation of Seats:

 Seats reserved for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) and the chairpersons of the Panchayats at all levels also shall be reserved for SCs and STs in proportion to their population.
 One-third of the total number of seats to be reserved for women.
 One-third offices of chairpersons at all levels reserved for women (Article 243D).
 Duration:Uniform five year term and elections to constitute new bodies to be completed before the expiry of the term.
 In the event of dissolution, elections compulsorily within six months (Article 243E).
 Independent Election Commission in each State for superintendence, direction and control of the electoral rolls (Article 243K).
 Power of Panchayats: Panchayats have been authorised to prepare plans for economic development and social justice in respect of subjects illustrated in Eleventh Schedule (Article 243G).
 Source of Revenue (Article 243H): State legislature may authorise the Panchayats with
 Budgetary allocation from State Revenue.
 Share of revenue of certain taxes.
 Collection and retention of the revenue it raises.
 Establish a Finance Commission in each State to determine the principles on the basis of which adequate financial resources would be ensured for panchayats and municipalities (Article 243I).

Exemptions:

 The Act does not apply to the states of Nagaland, Meghalaya and Mizoram and certain other areas because of socio-cultural and administrative considerations. These areas include:
 The Scheduled areas and the tribal areas (under Schedule VI of the Constitution) in the states.
 the hill areas of Manipur for which district councils exist,
 Darjeeling district of West Bengal for which Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council exists.
 However, the Parliament has extended the provisions of Part IX to Vth schedule areas through an Act called the Provisions of Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996.
 At present, 10 States namely Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan and Telangana have Fifth Schedule Area.