Daily Current Affairs : 27th July

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

  1. Private Members Bill on State Poll Funding
  2. Public Accounts Committee
  3. mCessation programme
  4. Facts for Prelims

1 . Private Members Bill on State Poll Finding

Context : Equating the expenditure limit on election expenses with prohibition, Congress MP Rajeev Gowda on Friday moved a private member’s bill in the Rajya Sabha that seeks removal of the limit and state funding of elections as part of reforms to the way polls are financed in India.

What is State Poll Funding

  • State Poll funding means the government funds political parties or candidates for contesting elections.

Current Limits on Expenditure for Election

  • A candidate can spend between Rs 50 lakh and Rs 70 lakh, depending on the state they are contesting the Lok Sabha election from.
  • For all states, except Arunachal Pradesh, Goa and Sikkim, a candidate can spend a maximum of Rs 70 lakh on canvassing. The cap for Arunachal Pradesh, Goa and Sikkim is Rs 54 lakh. And, it is Rs 70 lakh for Delhi and Rs 54 lakh for other Union territories.
  • For the assembly elections, the ceiling is between Rs 20 lakh and Rs 28 lakh.
  • This includes the money spent by a political party or a supporter towards the candidate’s campaign. But, expenses incurred either by a party or the leader of a party for propagating the party’s programme are not covered.

Issues with the current System

  • Expenditure limit puts black money into the system. It also leads to quid pro quo kind of arrangement between the elected and the person putting blackmoney into his campaign, once elected, the representatives try to reward those who contributed to their victory.
  • Candidates who can raise white money openly cannot spend more than ₹70 lakh in parliamentary elections. Hence, compared to those who spend money covertly, clean politicians are crippled by the system
  • An amount of ₹70 lakh was not enough even to send postcards to 20 lakh odd voters in each constituency, 

About the Bill

  • The Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill, makes two key proposals.
    • One, the current per candidate expenditure limit of ₹70 lakh should be lifted
    • There should be state funding to ensure a “cleaner polity”, which is a public good.
  • The bill proposes a National Election Fund, under which each political party could be allotted funds according to their recent electoral performance.

2 . Public Accounts Committee

Context : Congress floor leader in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury has been appointed Chairman of the Committee on Public Accounts

About Public Accounts Committee

  • Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is constituted every year.
  • Its main duty is to ascertain how the money granted (budget) by Parliament has been spent by the government.
  • The PAC scrutinises the accounts of the government on the basis of CAG reports.
  • The composition and functions of the committee are governed by parliamentary procedures.
  • The PAC can consist of 15 to 22 members. Not more than 15 members can be from the Lok Sabha, and the representation from the Rajya Sabha cannot exceed 7 members. A minister cannot be a member of the PAC. 
  • The Committee on Public Accounts is the oldest Parliamentary Committee and was first constituted in 1921.  
  • The Speaker is empowered to appoint the Chairman of the Committee from amongst its Members. Chairman of PAC by convention is now appointed from opposition

Functions of the Committee

  • The Committee on Public Accounts scrutinizes   the Appropriation Accounts of the Government of India  and the reports of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India thereon.  While doing so,  it is the duty of the Committee  to satisfy itself:-
    • that the moneys shown in the accounts as having been disbursed were legally available for, and applicable to, the service or purpose to which have been applied or charged;
    • that the expenditure conforms to the authority which governs it; and
    • that every re-appropriation has been made in accordance with the provisions made in this behalf under rules framed by competent authority.

Other duties of the PAC

  • to examine the statement of accounts showing the income and expenditure of State Corporations, trading and manufacturing schemes, concerns and projects together with the balance sheets and statements of profit and loss accounts which the President may have required to be prepared or are prepared under the provisions of statutory rules regulating the financing of a particular corporation trading or manufacturing scheme or concern or project and the report of the C&AG thereon;
  • to examine the statement of accounts showing the income and expenditure of autonomous and semi-autonomous bodies, the audit of which may be conducted by the C&AG of India either under the directions of the President or by a statute of Parliament; and
  • to consider the report of the C&AG in cases where the President may have required him to conduct an audit of any receipts and to examine the accounts of stores and stocks.

3 . mCessation Programme

About mCessation programme

  • mCessation programme is an initiative using mobile technology for tobacco cessation.
  • The National Tobacco Control Programme and the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, with support from the WHO and International Telecommunication Union’s ‘Be He@lthy, Be mobile’ initiative, implemented the programme
  • India launched mCessation using text messages in 2016 as part of the government’s Digital India initiative. It uses two-way messaging between the individual seeking to quit tobacco use and programme specialists providing them dynamic support.
  • The programme allows people who want to quit tobacco use to register by giving a missed call to a dedicated national number. The programme’s progress is monitored in real-time through an online dashboard that details the number of registrations.
  • Government has recently released version-2 of the “mTobaccoCessation” platform, which can deliver content through SMS or interactive voice response in 12 languages.

Evaluation of Programme

  • An evaluation conducted by the Health ministry found an average quitting rate of 7 per cent for both smokers and users of smokeless tobacco six months after enrollment, the report notes. When 12,000 participants in the programme were asked about their tobacco use, more than 19 per cent said they had abstained over the previous 30 days, it states.

4 . Facts for Prelims

  • Global Adult Tobacco Report – World Health Organisation
  • First Bamboo industrial Park – It will be set-up in Northeast, in Dima Hasao district of Assam

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