The 15th Finance Commission concludes deliberations
- XV-FC was constituted by the Honourable President of India in pursuance of clause (1) of article 280 of the Constitution, read with the provisions of the Finance Commission (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1951 (33 of 1951) with Shri N.K. Singh as Chairman, Mr. Shri Shaktikanta Das, Dr. Anoop Singh, Dr. Ashok Lahiri and Dr. Ramesh Chand as Members and Shri Arvind Mehta as Secretary. Subsequent to Shri. Shaktikanta Das demitting his office, Shri. Ajay Narayan Jha was appointed as a Member.
- The Report of 15th Finance Commission will be tabled in the Parliament by the Union Finance Minister along with an Action Taken Report of the Government of India. The Report contains recommendations pertaining to 5 financial years, 2021-22 to 2025-26.
- The Report of the XVFC for the year 2020-21, presented to the Honourable President in December 2019, was laid by the Government in the Parliament along with an Action Taken Report.
- The Commission has finalized their Report after wide-ranging consultations with the Union and State Governments, local governments at different tiers, Chairmen and Members of previous Finance Commissions, Advisory Council to the Commission and other domain experts, academic institutions of eminence and multi-lateral institutions.
- Constitutional provisions:
- Article 280, Finance Commission.-
(1) The President shall, within two years from the commencement of this Constitution and thereafter at the expiration of every fifth year or at such earlier time as the President considers necessary, by order constitute a Finance Commission which shall consist of a Chairman and four other members to be appointed by the President.
(2) Parliament may by law determine the qualifications which shall be requisite for appointment as members of the Commission and the manner in which they shall be selected.
(3) It shall be the duty of the Commission to make recommendations to the President as to-
(a) the distribution between the Union and the States of the net proceeds of taxes which are to be, or may be, divided between them under this Chapter and the allocation between the States of the respective shares of such proceeds;
(b) the principles which should govern the grants-in-aid of the revenues of the States out of the Consolidated Fund of India;[(bb) the measures needed to augment the Consolidated Fund of a State to supplement the resources of the Panchayats in the State on the basis of the recommendations made by the Finance Commission of the State;] [(c) the measures needed to augment the Consolidated Fund of a State to supplement the resources of the Municipalities in the State on the basis of the recommendations made by the Finance Commission of the State;] [(d)] any other matter referred to the Commission by the President in the interests of sound finance.
(4) The Commission shall determine their procedure and shall have such powers in the performance of their functions as Parliament may by law confer on them.
- Article -281, Recommendations of the Finance Commission.-
- The President shall cause every recommendation made by the Finance Commission under the provisions of this Constitution together with an explanatory memorandum as to the action taken thereon to be laid before each House of Parliament.
Major step towards Medical Education reform
- In a significant step towards affordable medical education, the National Medical Commission (NMC) has notified its first major regulation. Titled as “Minimum Requirements For Annual MBBS Admissions Regulations (2020)”, the notification issued replaces the “Minimum Standard Requirements for Medical Colleges, 1999 (for 50/100/150/200/250 Annual Admissions)” of the erstwhile Medical Council of India (MCI).
- The new Regulation shall be applicable to all new medical colleges proposing to be established, and to the established medical colleges proposing to increase their annual MBBS intake from the academic year 2021-22. During the transitory period, the established medical colleges will be governed by the relevant regulations existing prior to the current notification.
- The new standards have been defined keeping the functional requirements of the institution(s). These allow optimization and flexibility in utilizing available resources, and harnessing modern educational technology tools to facilitate moving towards quality education, even when resources are relatively scarce.
- The key changes:
- 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. The space required for the Library and the number of books and journals have been rationalized and reduced.
- Recognizing that a well-functioning hospital is at the core of medical training, the new regulation now mandates the availability of a fully functional 300 bed multi-speciality hospital for at least 2 years at the time of application for establishing a new medical college (the earlier regulations did not specify the period of functionality).
- The human resource of teaching faculty has also been rationalized 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.
- The Regulation has also outlined “desirable” and “aspirational” goals beyond the minimum requirements stated in the standards so as to stimulate medical institutions to strive for excellence. These elements will be utilized by the National Medical Commission while rating the medical institutions in the country.
Strategic Policy Unit: One among the steps initiated by the Ministry of AYUSH to make the Ayush sector future-ready
- 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. This is among the various steps which the Ministry has initiated to chart future directions along which the stake-holding groups of the Ayush Sector can move.
- Setting up of the SPFB is a forward-looking step which will make the Ayush systems future-ready. At a time when the Covid-19 pandemic is leaving indelible imprints in the health-seeking behaviours of people around the world, such a strategy unit can be of immense support to the stake-holding groups of the Ayush Sector.
- 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.
- Some of the Specific Deliverables of the Bureau would include project monitoring for Inter-Ministerial Groups, Skill Development Initiatives, setting up a Strategic Intelligence Research Unit and initiating an Innovation Program.
- The Ministry of AYUSH would assist the Bureau in responding to investment proposals, issues and queries and fund Invest India for undertaking activities assigned. The Ministry will also support the Bureau in building links with various stakeholders such as industry associations, affiliate bodies of Ministry and Industry representation.
- The SPFB is the latest in a series of steps – like setting up the comprehensive IT backbone called Ayush Grid for the entire Sector, streamlining of Ayush Education on modern lines, evolving global standards for Ayush systems for diagnostics and terminologies in the ICD framework and setting up a vertical for Ayush Drugs Control – initiated by the Ministry to enable the Ayush systems to move into the centre-stage of healthcare activities in the 21st century, many of which have already progressed into the implementation phase.
Mission Sagar – II
- As part of ‘Mission Sagar-II’, Indian Naval Ship Airavat entered Port Sudan on 02 November 2020. The Government of India is providing assistance to Friendly Foreign Countries to overcome natural calamities and COVID-19 pandemic, and towards the same INS Airavat is carrying a consignment of 100 Tonnes of food aid for the people of Sudan.
- Mission Sagar-II, follows the first ‘Mission Sagar’ undertaken in May-June 2020, wherein India reached out to Maldives, Mauritius, Seychelles, Madagascar and Comoros, and provided food aid and medicines. As part of Mission Sagar-II, Indian Naval Ship Airavat will deliver food aid to Sudan, South Sudan, Djibouti and Eritrea.
- Mission Sagar-II, is in line with the Prime Minister’s vision of Security and Growth for All in the Region ‘SAGAR’ and highlights the importance accorded by India to relations with her maritime neighbours and further strengthens the existing bond. The Indian Navy is progressing this mission in close coordination with the Ministries of Defence and External Affairs, and other agencies of the Government of India.
- The 24th edition of the MALABAR naval exercise is scheduled in two phases in November 2020. Phase 1 of the Exercise MALABAR 20 involving participation by Indian Navy (IN), United States Navy (USN), Japan Maritime Self Defence Force (JMSDF), and Royal Australian Navy (RAN) is set to commence off Visakhapatnam in Bay of Bengal from 03 to 06 November 2020.
- MALABAR series of maritime exercises commenced in 1992 as a bilateral IN-USN exercise. JMSDF joined MALABAR in 2015. The 2020 edition will now witness participation of the RAN in this joint maritime exercise.
- The exercise, being conducted as a ‘non-contact, at sea only’ exercise in view of COVID-19 pandemic, will showcase the high-levels of synergy and coordination between the friendly navies, which is based on their shared values and commitment to an open, inclusive Indo-Pacific and a rules-based international order.