News: The stand-off on the border with China in eastern Ladakh is likely to go longer and the Army is prepared for the long haul through the winter, Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat told the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), a defence source said on Tuesday.
About the Public Accounts Committee (PAC):
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is a committee of selected members of parliament, constituted by the Parliament of India, for the purpose of auditing the revenue and the expenditure of the Government of India.
They check that parliament exercises over the executive stems from the basic principle that parliament embodies the will of the people.
This committee along with the Estimates committee (EC) and Committee on Public Undertakings (COPU) are the three financial standing committees of the Parliament of India.
It serves as a check on the government especially with respect to its expenditure bill and its primary function is to examine the audit report of Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) after it is laid in the Parliament. C&AG assists the committee during the course of investigation.
None of its members are allowed to be ministers in the government. The main function of the committee is to ascertain whether the money granted by parliament has been spent by government within the scope of the demand.
The Public Accounts Committee consists of not more than twenty-two members, fifteen elected by Lok Sabha, the lower house of the Parliament, and not more than seven members of Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Parliament.
The members are elected every year from amongst its members of respective houses according to the principle of proportional representation by means of single transferable vote.
The chairperson is appointed by the Lok Sabha speaker.
The term of office of the members is one year.
At present, the 16th Lok Sabha has no designated leader of opposition, however the Indian National Congress (INC) being largest opposition party has gotten the responsibility of heading the PAC.
2. NATIONAL FOOD SECURITY ACT, 2013
News: Union Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan has appealed to State governments to carry out doorstep delivery of ration to those eligible under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) and the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana in flood-affected areas.
About National Food Security Act, 2013:
The National Food Security Act, 2013 (also Right to Food Act) is an Act of the Parliament of India which aims to provide subsidized food grains to approximately two thirds of India’s 1.2 billion people.
It was signed into law on 12 September 2013, retroactive to 5 July 2013.
The National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA 2013) converts into legal entitlements for existing food security programmes of the Government of India.
It includes the Midday Meal Scheme, Integrated Child Development Services scheme and the Public Distribution System. Further, the NFSA 2013 recognizes maternity entitlements.
The Midday Meal Scheme and the Integrated Child Development Services Scheme are universal in nature whereas the PDS will reach about two-thirds of the population (75% in rural areas and 50% in urban areas).
Under the provisions of the bill, beneficiaries of the Public Distribution System (or, PDS) are entitled to 5 kilograms (11 lb) per person per month of cereals at the following prices:
Rice at ₹3 (4.2¢ US) per kg
Wheat at ₹2 (2.8¢ US) per kg
Coarse grains (millet) at ₹1 (1.4¢ US) per kg.
Pregnant women, lactating mothers, and certain categories of children are eligible for daily free cereals.
About Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana:
Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana is a food security welfare scheme announced by the Government of India in March 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic in India.
The program is operated by the Department of Food and Public Distribution under the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution.
The scheme aims to feed the poorest citizens of India by providing grain through the Public Distribution System, to all the priority households (ration card holders and those identified by the Antyodaya Anna Yojana scheme).
PMGKAY provides 5 kg of rice or wheat (according to regional dietary preferences) per person and 1 kg of dal to each family holding a ration card.
The scale of this welfare scheme makes it the largest food security program in the world.
The scheme has been affected by widespread corruption and failure to distribute grain to the intended recipients. Two states failed to distribute any grain, and 11 distributed less than 1%.
3. DEFENCE ACQUISITION COUNCIL
News: The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, on Tuesday approved defence procurements worth ₹8,722.38 crore, including 106 HTT-40 Basic Trainer Aircraft (BTA) for the Indian Air Force (IAF) built by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), the Ministry of India (MoD) said.
About Defence Acquisition Council (DAC):
Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) accorded approval for capital acquisition of various platforms and equipment required by the Indian Armed Forces.
As an overarching structure, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), under the Defence Minister is constituted for overall guidance of the defence procurement planning process.
DAC is the highest decision-making body in the Defence Ministry for deciding on new policies and capital acquisitions for the three services (Army, Navy and Air Force) and the Indian Coast Guard.
The objective of the Defence Acquisition Council is to ensure expeditious procurement of the approved requirements of the Armed Forces in terms of capabilities sought, and time frame prescribed, by optimally utilizing the allocated budgetary resources.
It was formed, after the Group of Ministers recommendations on ‘Reforming the National Security System’, in 2001, post Kargil War (1999).
4. AMMONIUM NITRATE
News: Lebanese security officials warned the Prime Minister and President last month that 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored in Beirut’s port posed a security risk and could destroy the capital if it exploded, according to documents seen by Reuters and senior security sources.
About Ammonium Nitrate:
Ammonium nitrate is a chemical compound with the chemical formula NH4NO3.
It is a white crystalline solid consisting of ions of ammonium and nitrate. It is highly soluble in water and hygroscopic as a solid, although it does not form hydrates. It is predominantly used in agriculture as a high-nitrogen fertilizer.
Its other major use is as a component of explosive mixtures used in mining, quarrying, and civil construction.
It is the major constituent of ANFO, a popular industrial explosive which accounts for 80% of explosives used in North America; similar formulations have been used in improvised explosive devices.
Many countries are phasing out its use in consumer applications due to concerns over its potential for misuse.
Ammonium nitrate is found as the natural mineral gwihabaite – the ammonium analogue of saltpetre – in the driest regions of the Atacama Desert in Chile.