Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 21 September 2023

First reservation for women in elected bodies

GS Paper - 2 (Polity)

The government introduced The Constitution (One hundred and Twenty-eighth Amendments) Bill, 2023, to reserve 33% seats for women in Lok Sabha and state Legislative Assemblies. The quota will be applicable to the reserved seats for SCs and STs as well. Several years before the Bill was first brought in Parliament by the government of Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda, two breakthrough amendments to the Constitution had resulted in reservation for women in rural and urban local bodies.

More about amendment

  • The Constitution 73rd and 74th Amendment Acts mandated the reservation of one-third of seats for women in Panchayati Raj institutions and offices of the chairperson at all levels of Panchayati Raj institutions, and in urban local bodies respectively.
  • Both The Constitution (Seventy-third Amendment) Act, 1992 and The Constitution (Seventy-fourth Amendment) Act, 1992 were passed by Parliament in December 1992, and took effect on 24 April 1993 and 1 June 1993.

Background to the amendments

  • Back in 1957, the Balwantrai Mehta Committee recommended that an agency should be set up at the village level, which would represent the village community’s interests, and carry out the government’s development programmes.
  • The Committee suggested the early establishment of elected local bodies and the devolution of necessary resources, power, and authority to them.
  • In 1977, the Asoka Mehta Committee suggested changing the concept of Panchayati Raj to a political institution.
  • The Committee observed that Panchayati Raj Institutions had failed to live up to their promise, and suggested measures to strengthen the system.
  • The Committee identified an unsympathetic bureaucracyabsence of political will, and lack of clarity over the institution’s role as the reasons for its undermining.
  • KarnatakaWest Bengal, and Andhra Pradesh passed new laws based on the Asoka Mehta Committee report.
  • An attempt was made to strengthen Panchayati Raj Institutions across the country through The Constitution (Sixty-fourth Amendment) Bill at the far end of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s term in 1989, but the attempt was defeated in Rajya Sabha.

New local self-governance laws

  • The 73rd and 74th Constitution Amendment Acts established local self-governance in rural and urban India respectively.
  • The two amendments were added to the Constitution’s Part IX, titled “The Panchayats” and Part IXA titled “The Municipalities” respectively.
  • Following the two amendments, panchayats and municipalities were termed as “institutions of self-government”.
  • The gram sabha became the basic unit of a democratic system in villages. In municipalities, the term “ward committees” was used. These bodies consisted of all adult citizens registered as voters, and the panchayat or municipality was made accountable to them.
  • Direct elections for all three tiers of governance — gram panchayat at village level, taluka or block panchayat at the intermediate level, and zila panchayat or parishad at district level — were introduced. States with a population of less than 20 lakh were exempted.

‘UPI moment’ for insurance sector

GS Paper - 3 (Economy)

The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) claims that the proposed Bima Sugam is a “game changer” and a “UPI moment” for the insurance segment, with ambitions of becoming the largest online market for insurance products and services which has not been practiced anywhere in the world. The proposed platform is expected to help customers identify the right scheme from a maze of hundreds of products and services, with reduced paperwork.

What’s Bima Sugam?

  • It’s an online platform where customers can choose a suitable scheme from multiple options given by various companies. All insurance requirements, including those for lifehealth, and general insurance (including motor and travel) will be met by Bima Sugam.
  • This platform will help in the settlement of claims, whether it’s health coverage or death claims, in a paperless manner on the basis of policy numbers.
  • IRDAI has appointed a committee for the creation of the platform and now plans to go for requests for proposals (RFPs) soon to appoint a service provider for the platform.
  • The service providers will be the technological partners for creating and running a platform to provide all the services in one place.

What’s its role and utility for customers?

  • The proposed platform would act as a single window for the policyholder to manage his/her insurance coverage.
  • It will provide end-to-end solutions for customers’ insurance needs i.e., purchaseservice, and settlement in a seamless manner.
  • It will facilitate insurance companies to access the validated and authentic data from various touch points on a real-time basis.
  • The platform will interface for the intermediaries and agents to sell policies and provide services to policyholders, among others, and reduce paperwork.
  • Currently, there are hundreds of insurance schemes in the life and non-life sectors.
  • Customers have no idea who is offering the best deal and the pros and cons of different schemes. Bima Sugam will enable them to identify a suitable scheme for the customers in a single platform.

What does the IRDAI say?

  • IRDAI says Bima Sugam is an electronic marketplace protocol which would universalise and democratise insurance.
  • This protocol will be connected with India Stack which is a set of APIs (application programming interface) that allows governments, businesses, startups, etc. to utilise the unique digital infrastructure to enable seamless delivery of services.
  • It is envisioned that this e-Market place would enable and empower all insurance stakeholders across insurance value chain.

Planetary boundaries framework

GS Paper - 1 (Geography)

Human activities are increasingly impacting the planet and, thereby, increasing the risk of triggering dramatic changes in overall Earth conditions, a study that updates the planetary boundary framework shows. The nine 'planetary boundaries' represent components of the global environment that regulate stability and livability of the planet for people.

More about the News

  • The degree of breaching of the safe boundary levels is caused by human-driven activities impacting the components.
  • The planetary boundaries framework applies the newest scientific understanding of the functioning of the Earth system to identify a 'safe operating space' for humanity.
  • It proposes limits for the extent to which human activities can be allowed to impact critical processes without risk of potentially triggering irreversible changes in the Earth conditions that support us.
  • The researchers noted that, for the first time, metrics for all boundaries are presented.
  • Six of the boundaries are found to be transgressed, and transgression is increasing for all boundaries except the degradation of the Earth's ozone layer.
  • A global focus on climate is not enough. Development of Earth system models that accurately reproduce interactions between boundaries, especially Climate and Biosphere Integrity, is an urgent priority, according to the researchers.
  • The study, published in the journal Science Advances, represents the third update of the framework carried out by 29 scientists from eight different countries.
  • The trend of increasing transgression of the boundaries is worrying, explained Katherine Richardson, professor at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, and leader of the study.

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