2nd November 2020

National Medical Commission – Notified

The National Medical Commission (NMC) has notified its first major regulation. Titled as “Minimum Requirements For Annual MBBS Admissions Regulations (2020)”, the notification replaces the “Minimum Standard Requirements for Medical Colleges, 1999 of the erstwhile Medical Council of India (MCI)”.

  • The new Regulation has deleted the quantum of land required for setting up a medical college and its affiliated teaching hospitals (all buildings are expected to conform to existing building bye-laws). The notification defines the minimum requirements of space for all student centric areas in the institution and the functional areas required.
  • Under the new Regulation, a well-equipped “Skills Laboratory” for training students is essential now.
  • It also defines a Medical Education Unit for training medical teachers in educational pedagogy. Student counselling services has been mandated recognising the increasing stress observed amongst medical students and residents in recent times. 
  • The human resource of teaching faculty has also been rationalised in the new Regulation. Over and above the minimum prescribed faculty, provision for “visiting faculty” has been made to enhance quality of training.
  • Two new teaching departments have now become mandatory in all medical college hospitals for the training of undergraduate medical students. These include the Department of Emergency Medicine (which has replaced the earlier Casualty Department) and will ensure access and prompt, appropriate response to emergencies particularly trauma; and the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation which shall fill a large gap for those in need of comprehensive rehabilitative care.

National Medical Commission

It is responsible for the medical accreditation of all medical education institutions within the country as well as maintaining a national registrar of all certified allopathic medical practitioners within the country.

Key functions of NMC –

  • The key functions of the NMC will be further streamlining regulations, rating of institutions, HR assessment, focus on research.
  • Besides they will work on modalities of the common final year exam after MBBS (NEXT- National Exit Test) to serve for both registration and PG entrance; prepare guidelines for fee regulation by private medical colleges; and developing standards for Community Health Providers to serve in primary healthcare with limited practicing licence.
  • It may be recalled that the National Medical Commission Act, 2019 was passed by the Parliament in August, 2019.


Strategic Policy and Facilitation Bureau – AYUSH

Ministry of AYUSH and M/s Invest India will form a collaboration to set up a strategic policy unit called “Strategic Policy & Facilitation Bureau (SPFB)” to facilitate planned and systematic growth of the Ayush Sector.

‘Strategic Policy and Facilitation Bureau’

  • It will support the Ministry in strategic and policy making initiatives that shall help pave the way to reach the full potential of the Sector and stimulate growth and investment.
  • As a partner in the project, M/S Invest India would collaborate extensively with the Ministry to frame the work plan of the Bureau and define its short-and long-term targets. 
  • Invest India would deploy highly trained and expert resources to implement and execute the plans of the Ministry of AYUSH.
  • The activities to be undertaken by the SPFB would include –
  • Knowledge Creation and Management,
  • Strategic & Policy-Making Support,
  • State Policy Bench marking: Undertaking State Policy bench marking to formulate uniform guidelines/regulations regarding AYUSH sector in India,
  • Investment Facilitation: Follow up and facilitation of investment cases and MoUs, and coordination among different Department, organisations and States.
  • Issue Resolution: Invest India would work with companies and other institutions on issue resolution across States and among various sub-sectors.

‘Invest India’

  • Set up in the year 2009, Invest India is a not-for-profit, single window facilitator, set up as a joint venture company between the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), Ministry of Commerce & Industry (35% equity), Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) (51% equity), and State Governments of India (0.5% each).
  • As the national investment promotion and facilitation agency, Invest India focuses on sector-specific investor targeting and development of new partnerships to enable sustainable investments in India.
  • In addition to a core team that focuses on sustainable investments, Invest India also partners with substantial investment promotion agencies and multilateral organisations.
  • Invest India also actively works with several Indian states to build capacity as well as bring in global best practices in investment targeting, promotion and facilitation areas.


Army Aviation Corps – 35th Corps Day

The Army Aviation Corps (Army Aviation Corps), the youngest Corps of the Indian Army, celebrated its 35th Corps Day recently.

  • The origin of the AAC can be traced back to the raising of the Army Aviation wing of the Royal Air Force in India in 1942, and the subsequent formation of the first Indian Air Observation Post in August 1947.
  • The Air Observation Post units primarily acted as artillery spotters – which are the elements that help the artillery in directing the fire and also giving air support to ground forces. In the wars of 1965 and 1971, the Air Observation Post helicopters played a key role in the battlefields by flying close to the enemy lines and helping ground assets spot targets.
  • The Corps was raised as a separate formation on November 1 in 1986. The AAC now draws its officers and men from all arms of the Army, including a significant number from the artillery.
  • Immediately after raising, the units of the Corps were pressed into action in Operation Pawan by the Indian Peacekeeping Forces, in the mostly jungle areas of Sri Lanka against the Tamil Tigers. Ever since, AAC helicopters have been an inseparable part of fighting formations in all major conflict scenarios, and a life-saving asset in peace times.

Significance in modern warfare

  • In the modern-day battle formation, elements like infantry, short and long artillery, armoured formations and Army helicopters are closely linked with each other. These use information and data points collected from ground and airborne surveillance assets and satellites. Helicopters are a key element of this battlefield, which is going to become even more technology-intensive in the future.
  • These battle machines, which can perform both observation/recce and attack functions, are an ideal choice for CI-CT operations to tackle difficult terrains, and also avoid ground-based threats like Improvised Explosive Devices and ambushes.
  • With the motto Suveg and Sudridh (Swift and Sure), the youngest corps of the Indian Army is set to further grow in its tactical importance in the battlefield.


Rural Development Fund – Withheld

The Union Government’s decision to withhold rural development fee from Punjab, and letters asking the Punjab Government to explain its utilisation of the Rural Development Fund (RDF) that it gets largely from the Food Corporation of India (FCI) has enraged the state government.

RDF is the 3 per cent cess levied on the purchase or sale of agricultural produce under the Rural Development Fund Act, 1987 which is executed by Punjab Rural Development Board (PRDB) with the Chief Minister as its chairman.

Rural Development Board (RDB)

  • The RDB was incorporated in April 1987 under Rural Development Act, 1987 and is mandated with the promotion of better agriculture, and granting relief for the loss and damage to agricultural produce.
  • It also provides the facility of streets lights, dharamshalas, panchayat ghars, canals and drains, government health infrastructure, drinking water, sanitation, and government educational institutions in rural areas.

From where does Punjab get this fund and what is it used for?

  • It comes mainly from central government’s purchase agency, Food Corporation of India, which buys around 13 million tonnes of wheat and 16 million tonnes of paddy every year.
  • Usually Punjab gets Rs 1,750 crore every year — Rs 1,000 crore as 3 per cent RDF for procuring paddy and the rest for wheat. This year, some estimates had put the total at Rs 1,850 crore.
  • This fund is supposed to be used for the creation and maintenance of rural infrastructure in and outside mandis. But there have been charges in the past that it was diverted by the state for other purposes.

Why has the central government suspended this fund?

The central government, in a letter from the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, has observed that the fund is being diverted, and has asked the state government to explain how it is utilising this money. It has also not made any provision for this fund in the cost sheet that it has sent to the state.


Gilgit-Baltistan – Provinicial Status

India has slammed Pakistan for its attempt to accord provincial status to the “so-called Gilgit-Baltistan”, saying it is intended to camouflage the ‘illegal’ occupation of the region by Pakistan.

In a ruling earlier this year, the Pakistan Supreme Court allowed Islamabad to amend a 2018 administrative order to conduct general elections in the region. The Gilgit-Baltistan Order of 2018 provided for administrative changes, including authorising the Prime Minister of Pakistan to legislate on an array of subjects.

About Gilgit-Baltistan –

  • It is a picturesque, hilly region to the north of Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (PoK) and east of the Pakistani province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
  • The British sold it, along with the rest of Jammu and Kashmir, to the Dogra ruler of Jammu, Gulab Singh, after defeating the Sikh army in 1846.
  • However they retained controlled over the area through a lease extracted from the Maharaja. This lease was last renewed in 1935.
  • In 1947, a British army officer of the rank of Colonel imprisoned Maharaja Hari Singh’s governor in the region, and handed over the area for accession to Pakistan.
  • Gilgit Baltistan (GB) is spread over 72,871 sq km, and is five-and-a-half times the size of PoK. But it is sparsely populated, with just under 20 lakh people.
  • Gilgit-Baltistan is divided into three administrative divisions and 10 districts.
  • Though both PoK and GB are ruled directly from Islamabad, neither is officially listed as the territory of Pakistan.
  • Pakistan has just four provinces – Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (which now includes the Federally Administered Tribal areas or FATA), Balochistan, and Sindh.
  • PoK and GB are both “autonomous territories”.


Cybercrimes – Portal

The Union Home Ministry has written to all States to examine and register FIRs based on the complaints received on the National Cybercrime Reporting Portal, www.cybercrime.gov.in.

  • As per data available with the Ministry, only 2.5% of total complaints registered on the portal are converted into First Information Reports (FIRs).
  • Through the portal, the Ministry aims to raise a group of “cybercrime volunteers” to flag “unlawful content” on the Internet.
  • The unlawful content is categorised as content against the sovereignty and integrity of India, against defence of India, against security of the state, against friendly relations with foreign states, content aimed at disturbing public order, disturbing communal harmony and child sex abuse material. The volunteers will have to submit photograph, name and address proof to be enlisted as a volunteer.

Cybercrime statistics in India

  • Since its launch last year, the portal has received over 2 lakh complaints, but FIRs have been registered only in 5,000 cases. On an average, around 1,000 cybercrime complaints were received every month from across the country. The rate of conversion of complaints to FIRs is very low. In July, of the over 30,000 complaints registered, only 273 FIRs were registered, the data show.
  • According to data compiled by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), the number of registered cybercrimes increased by 63.5% in the year 2019 compared with the previous year’s.


China’s strategic vision – Revealed

China’s ruling Communist Party concluded a key annual conclave outlining new long-term targets for boosting innovation and military strength, eyeing what it called “an important strategic period” for fulfilling its ambitions at home and abroad.

  • The four-day plenum of the Communist Party of China’s (CPC) Central Committee announced three goals to be achieved by 2025, 2027 and 2035 — a 14th five-year plan (2021-2025) that emphasises boosting domestic consumption and innovation, a national security and defence modernisation plan ahead of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) centennial in 2027, and a ‘Vision 2035’ longer-term economic blueprint that calls for “big leaps” in economic strength and technological prowess.
  • The communique said China’s GDP would cross 100 trillion yuan (around $15 trillion) this year, and the new economic blueprint, which did not announce a specific GDP target, would broadly push for China to double its GDP and current per capita GDP of $10,000 by 2035. That would require a real GDP growth of around 3.5% annually.
  • While the communique mainly focused on economic issues, it also outlined China’s national security plans and a goal to establish the PLA as a modern force by 2027 to realise what it called “the unity of a rich country and a strong Army”. It stressed the importance of informatisation and to “strengthen military training and war preparation”.
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