The Cabinet has approved the draft National Commission for Indian Systems of Medicine (NCIM) Bill, 2018, which seeks to replace the existing regulator Central Council for Indian Medicine (CCIM) with a new body to ensure transparency.
- This is on the lines of National Medical Commission Bill that is meant to regulate allopathy medicine system.
- The NCIM will promote availability of affordable healthcare services in all parts of the country.
- The Cabinet has also approved the draft National Commission for Homoeopathy Bill, 2018, aimed at replacing the Central Council for Homoeopathy, which is the current regulatory body for homoeopathy.
- The Bill provides for the constitution of a National Commission with four autonomous boards entrusted with conducting overall education of Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha & Sowarigpa under the Board of Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha and Sowa-Rigpa respectively.
- In order to ensure transparency the draft bill also proposes a common entrance exam and an exit exam that all graduates will have to clear to obtain their license to practice Indian medicine.
- Further, a teacher's eligibility test has been proposed in the Bill to assess the standard of teachers before appointment and promotions.
- Establishes two common boards— board of assessment and rating to assess and grant permission to educational institutions of Indian systems of medicine; and a board of ethics and registration of practitioners of Indian systems of medicine to maintain a National Register and deal with ethical issues.
Indian Systems of Medicine
- India has recognized six systems of medicine viz. Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and Yoga, Naturopathy and Homoeopathy.
- The Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) was formed on 9th November 2014 to ensure the optimal development and propagation of AYUSH systems of healthcare.
- Earlier it was known as the Department of Indian System of Medicine and Homeopathy (ISM&H) which was created in March 1995 and renamed as Department of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) in November 2003, with focused attention for development of Education and Research in Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy.
Unani System of Medicine
- Unani system originated in Greece and its foundation was laid by Hippocrates.
- However, the system owes its present form to the Arabs who not only saved much of the Greek literature by rendering it into Arabic but also enriched the medicine of their day with their own contributions.
- It was introduced in India by the Arabs and Persians sometime around the eleventh century.
- India has the largest number of Unani educational, research and health care institutions.
- The word ‘Ayurveda’ has derived out of fusion of two separate words- ‘Áyu’ i.e. life and ‘veda’ i.e. knowledge. Thus in literal meaning Ayurveda is the science of life.
- It aims to keep structural and functional entities in a state of equilibrium, which signifies good health (Swasthya) through various procedures, regimen, diet, medicines and behavior change.
- Siddha system of medicine is practiced in some parts of South India especially in the state of Tamil Nadu.
- The term ‘Siddha’ has come from ‘Siddhi’- which means achievement. Siddhars were the men who achieved supreme knowledge in the field of medicine, yoga or tapa (meditation).
- “Sowa-Rigpa” commonly known as Tibetan system of medicine is one of the oldest, living and well documented medical tradition of the world.
- It has been originated from Tibet and popularly practiced in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Mongolia and Russia. The majority of theory and practice of Sowa-Rigpa is similar to “Ayurveda”.
- Sowa-Rigpa is based on the principle that bodies of all the living beings and non living objects of the universe are composed of five Cosmo physical elements of Jung-wa-nga (Prithvi, Jal, Agni, Vayu and Akash).
- When the proportion of these elements is in imbalance in our body, disorder results.
- It was recognized by the Government in 2011.
- The word ‘Homoeopathy’ is derived from two Greek words, Homois meaning similar and pathos meaning suffering. It was introduced in India in 18th Century.
- Homoeopathy simply means treating diseases with remedies, prescribed in minute doses, which are capable of producing symptoms similar to the disease when taken by healthy people, i.e.principle of - "Similia Similibus Curantur” which means "likes are cured by likes”.
- It takes a holistic approach towards the sick individual through promotion of inner balance at mental, emotional, spiritual and physical levels.
The Union Cabinet has approved amendments to the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 to make punishment more stringent for committing sexual crimes against children.
- The earlier amendment allowed the death penalty only in cases of sexual assault of girls below 12 years but now it will be applicable to boys also.
- Gender neutral: The amendment will include the death penalty in all cases of aggravated penetrative sexual assault against children, both boys and girls, below the age of 18, thus making the Act gender neutral.
- Definition: The definition of ‘sexual assault’ in POCSO has been amended to include administering hormones to children expedite their sexual maturity for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation.
- The existing definition covers 20 categories of penetrative sexual crimes against children and the Cabinet has approved adding sexual assault of children who are victims of calamities or natural disasters, taking it up to 21 categories.
- New category: The Ministry of Women and Child Development has cited reported rapes of young girls in the aftermath of Kedarnath floods and that children constitute 50-60% of victims of calamities to make a case for including rapes in course of natural calamities as the 21st category.
- List of perpetrators: The 21 categories under aggravated penetrative sexual assault cover child victims who have been subject to penetrative sexual assault by a police officer or a member of the armed forces or security forces, by a public servant, a relative, the staff of a jail or remand home or protection home, staff of a hospital, educational institution, or religious institution among others.
- More stringent punishment: The amendments extend the punishment for aggravated penetrative sexual assault from a minimum of 10 years to a minimum of 20 years, up to a maximum of life imprisonment and even the death penalty under Section 6 of POCSO Act.
- Punitive measures have been made more stringent in cases where children are used for pornography as well as for storing such content.
- It also includes the gangrape of a child or use of deadly weapons during penetrative sexual assault, a sexual assault that incapacitates the child physically or mentally, makes a girl child pregnant, inflicts the child with HIV or any life-threatening disease.
- The maximum punishment of death will also be applicable when sexual assault victims are children with mental or physical disabilities, in cases of repeat offenders, rape and attempt to murder, and rape during communal violence.
- The amendments may protect the interest of vulnerable children in times of distress and ensure their safety and dignity.
- The amendment is expected to discourage the trend of child sexual abuse by acting as a deterrent due to strong penal provisions incorporated in the Act.
- However data shows that less than 3% of all POCSO cases end in convictions and experts warn against the chilling effect the death penalty may have on reporting the crime.
- Systemic changes in law enforcement and prosecution hold the key to tackling child sexual abuse.
Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012
- The POCSO Act, 2012 was enacted to Protect the Children from Offences of Sexual Assault, Sexual harassment and pornography with due regard for safeguarding the interest and well-being of children.
- The Act defines a child as any person below eighteen years of age, and regards the best interests and welfare of the child as matter of paramount importance at every stage, to ensure the healthy physical, emotional, intellectual and social development of the child.
- The Act defines different forms of sexual abuse, including penetrative and non penetrative assault, as well as sexual harassment and pornography.
- The Act deems a sexual assault to be “aggravated” under certain circumstances, such as when the abused child is mentally ill or when the abuse is committed by a person in a position of trust or authority like a family member, police officer, teacher, or doctor.
- The Act also casts the police in the role of child protectors during the investigative process.
- The Act stipulates that a case of child sexual abuse must be disposed of within one year from the date the offence is reported.
- Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) e-Box launched in 2016 is an online complaint box for reporting child sexual abuse.
- It is an National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) initiative to help children report such crimes directly to the Commission.
- The online complaint management system enables easy reporting and timely action against the offenders under the POCSO Act, 2012.
- E-Box is very simple to operate and will help to maintain the confidentiality of the complaint.
The Union Cabinet has approved the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification, 2018 which were last reviewed and issued in 2011.
- CRZ Notification 2018 is based on the recommendations of Shailesh Nayak committee.
- The notification was released after a series of representations received by the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEFCC) from various Coastal States/UTs for a comprehensive review of the provisions of the CRZ Notification, 2011.
Coastal Regulation Zones
- Coastal stretches of seas, bays, estuaries, creeks, rivers, and backwaters were declared as CRZs under coastal zone regulation notification in 1991.
- CRZs have been classified into 4 zones for the purpose of regulation:
- CRZ-I: includes ecologically sensitive areas, where no construction is allowed except activities for atomic power plants, defense.
- CRZ-II: includes designated urban areas that are substantially built up. Construction activities are allowed on the landward side only.
- CRZ-III: includes relatively undisturbed areas, mainly rural areas. No new construction of buildings allowed in this zone except repairing of the existing ones. However, constructions of dwelling units in the plot area lying between 200-500m of the high tide line is allowed.
- CRZ-IV: includes the water area covered between Low Tide Line and 12 nautical miles seaward. Except for fishing and related activities, all actions impugning on the sea and tidal water will be regulated in this zone.
Salient Features of Notification 2018
- Floor Space Index Norms Eased: In CRZ, 2011 Notification, for CRZ-II (Urban) areas, Floor Space Index (FSI) was frozen as per 1991 Development Control Regulation (DCR) levels.
- In the CRZ, 2018 Notification, it has been decided to de-freeze the same and permits FSI for construction projects to enable redevelopment of these areas to meet the emerging needs.
- New Categories for densely populated rural areas: For CRZ-III (Rural) areas, two separate categories have now been stipulated as below:
- CRZ-III A - These are densely populated rural areas with a population density of 2161 per square kilometer as per 2011 Census.
- Such areas will have a No Development Zone (NDZ) of 50 meters from the High Tide Line as against 200 meters from the High Tide Line stipulated in the CRZ Notification, 2011.
- CRZ-III B - Rural areas with a population density of below 2161 per square kilometer as per 2011 Census. Such areas shall continue to have an NDZ of 200 meters from the HTL.
- CRZ-III A - These are densely populated rural areas with a population density of 2161 per square kilometer as per 2011 Census.
- Tourism infrastructure in coastal areas: Temporary tourism facilities such as toilet blocks, change rooms, drinking water facilities etc. have now been permitted in Beaches. However, a minimum distance of 10 m from HTL should be maintained for setting up of such facilities.
- CRZ Clearances streamlined: Only such projects/activities, which are located in the CRZ-I (Ecologically Sensitive Areas) and CRZ IV (area covered between Low Tide Line and 12 Nautical Miles seaward) will be required to be cleared by Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. For, the CRZ-II (urban) or CRZ III (rural) areas, the CRZ clearance will be considered at the state level by the Coastal Zone Management Authority (CZMA).
- No Development Zone (NDZ) of 20 meters for Islands: For islands close to the mainland coast and for all Backwater Islands in the mainland, NDZ of 20 m has been stipulated.
- Ecologically Sensitive Areas have been accorded special importance: Specific guidelines related to their conservation and management plans have been drawn up as a part of the CRZ Notification.
- Pollution abatement: In order to address pollution in Coastal areas treatment facilities have been made permissible activities in CRZ-I B area (the area between the Low tide line and High tide line) subject to necessary safeguards.
- Defense and strategic projects are exempted from regulations.
- Economic Growth: The proposed CRZ Notification, 2018 will lead to enhanced activities in the coastal regions thereby promoting economic growth while also conserving the coastal regions.
- Boost to Tourism and Employment: It will result in significant employment generation and in better living standard and add value to the economy of India.
- Boost to Conservation Efforts: The new notification is expected to rejuvenate the coastal areas while reducing their vulnerabilities.
- Boost to Housing: De-freezing FSI Norms will add to creating additional opportunities for affordable housing. This will benefit not only the housing sector but the people looking for shelter.
- The notification has simplified procedures for environmental clearances and will open up fragile intertidal areas to real estate agents adding up to the coastal degradation.
- The notification fails to address the concerns raised by the fishermen.
- The union cabinet has approved the indigenous manned space mission called Gaganyaan under which a three-member crew will be sent to space for at least seven days.
- The testing phase of the mission is expected to begin from December 2020 and the mission will be undertaken in 2022.
- The mission, if successful, will add India into the elite club of three countries (the US, Russia, and China) that have sent a manned mission to the outer space.
- A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between ISRO and the Federal Space Agency of Russia ‘ROSCOSMOS’ on joint activities in the field of the human spaceflight programme during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to New Delhi in October 2018.
- Kashmir Stag locally known as Hangul is a subspecies of the European red deer, found in Kashmir. It is the only subspecies of red deer in India and the state animal of Jammu and Kashmir.
- First identified by
AlferdWagner in 1844, the species is believed to have traveled all the way from Bukhara in Central Asia to Kashmir.
- The animal is classified as ‘critically endangered’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
- Dachigam National Park near Srinagar is considered the last undisturbed home of the Hangul.
- The challenges that hangul faces include poaching, threats from insurgency and the border conflict between India and Pakistan.