Climate Smart Cities Assessment Framework (CSCAF 2.0)
Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has launched the Climate Smart Cities Assessment Framework (CSCAF) 2.0, along with the ‘Streets for People Challenge’.
What is CSCAF?
- The objective of CSCAF is to provide a clear roadmap for cities towards combating Climate Change while planning and implementing their actions, including investments.
- In the last decade, an increasing frequency of cyclones, floods, heat waves, water scarcity and drought-like conditions have had adverse impacts on many of our cities.
- Such extreme events and risks cause loss of life as well as impact the economic growth. In this context, CSCAF initiative intends to inculcate a climate-sensitive approach to urban planning and development in India.
- The framework has 28 indicators across five categories namely; (i) Energy and Green Buildings, (ii) Urban Planning, Green Cover & Biodiversity, (iii) Mobility and Air Quality, (iv) Water Management and (v) Waste Management.
- The Climate Centre for Cities under National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) is supporting MoHUA in implementation of CSCAF.
Streets for People Challenge –
- The Streets for People Challenge is the response to the need for making our cities more walkable and pedestrian friendly.
- The Challenge will support cities across the country to develop a unified vision of streets for people in consultation with stakeholders and citizens.
- Adopting a participatory approach, cities will be guided to launch their own design competitions to gather innovative ideas from professionals for quick, innovative, and low-cost tactical solutions.
- It aims to inspire cities to create walking-friendly and vibrant streets through quick, innovative, and low-cost measures. All cities participating in the challenge shall be encouraged to use the ‘test-learn-scale’ approach to initiate both, flagship and neighbourhood walking interventions.
- The interventions can include inter alia creating pedestrian-friendly streets in high footfall areas, re-imagining under-flyover spaces, revitalising dead neighbourhood spaces, and creating walking links through parks and institutional areas.
States borrowing to make up for GST revenue shortfall
The Covid pandemic has played havoc with the economy. Revenue streams of the government, the private sector and individuals have been severely impacted while the expenditure, particularly of the government, is shooting up with a rise in commitments.
The arguments –
- One significant area of loss of revenue to both the Centre and the states is GST. But “while the states have the comfort of assured 14 per cent growth through the compensation mechanism, the Centre has no such guarantee,” says Sushil Kumar Modi, the deputy chief minister of Bihar.
- Former Finance Minister, the late Arun Jaitley had said that “in case the amount in the GST Compensation Fund fell short of the compensation payable, the GST Council shall decide the mode of raising additional resources including borrowing from the market which could be repaid by collection of cess in the sixth year or further subsequent years”.
- The Council had agreed to this suggestion. Quite clearly, the sense of the house and, consequently, the decision of the Council, was that it is the Council (and not the Government of India) that shall decide the mode of raising additional resources in the event of a shortfall.
- Additional resources could be raised by increasing the tax or the cess but in the present difficult times it would not be advisable to raise the burden of either the tax or the cess; if anything, it is the time to mitigate the burden on the common man. Hence, the only way out of this difficult situation is borrowings.
Way forward –
- Modi asserts that it would be “financially imprudent for the Centre to borrow since large borrowings by the Centre would push up the bond yield rates, which in turn would push up the bond yield of the states setting off a spiral leading to hike in the interest rates for businesses and individuals. The states’ borrowing would become costlier if the Centre were to borrow for this purpose”.
- He writes that the Centre has already breached the budgeted borrowing limits for the current year in the first four months itself. Thus, he believes, it makes sense for the states to borrow.
- “I think the states should come forward and work with the Centre in the true spirit of cooperative federalism that the Council has come to be known for these past few years,” he concludes.
US Foreign Agents Act
The BJP has become the first mainstream political party from India to have named itself as a foreign principal of an organisation in the United States, after the Overseas Friends of the BJP (OFBJP) registered under the 1938 Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) under the U.S. Department of Justice.
What is FARA?
- The Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) is a United States law passed in 1938 requiring that agents representing the interests of foreign powers in a “political or quasi-political capacity” disclose their relationship with the foreign government and information about related activities and finances.
- The FARA requires “agents representing the interests of foreign powers in a political or quasi political capacity [to]disclose their relationship with the foreign government and information about related finances.”
- Following the registration, the OFBJP will have to declare any meetings with U.S. legislators, organisation of events and funding from U.S. groups.
- It will also not be possible for OFBJP members to use organisational help during the U.S. elections as it would then be seen as foreign interference.
- Most other entities from India registered under this Act are legal, lobby or public relations firms engaged by the Indian Embassy or the Tourism Department.
Some well known registrations –
An unknown political party from India, (Democratic Party of India) and a TV channel are also registered. Pakistan’s ruling Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League (N) as well as Bangladesh’s opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) are some of the political parties from the South Asian neighbourhood with FARA registration.
In April this year the U.S. Department of Justice had announced that it would conduct an FARA enforcement drive with wider scrutiny of all consultants and organisations and sent a number of “deficiency notices”, asking suspected foreign agents to register or stop activity on behalf of foreign entities.
India-Japan sign logistics agreement
India and Japan signed a logistics agreement that will allow the Armed Forces of both sides to coordinate closely in services and supplies.
India-Japan logistics agreement –
- A statement from the government informed that the agreement on ‘Reciprocal Provision Supplies and Services’ will “increase interoperability between the Armed Forces of India and Japan” and assist in maintaining regional security.
- The agreement establishes the enabling framework for closer cooperation between the Armed Forces of India and Japan in reciprocal provision of supplies and services while engaged in bilateral training activities, United Nations Peacekeeping Operations, Humanitarian International Relief and other mutually agreed activities.
- It will help both sides coordinate on medical requirements, supplies, maintenance, airlifting and communication.
- Significantly, the agreement signed on Wednesday is mainly aimed at greater maritime cooperation and can dramatically upgrade India-Japan naval exercises as the participants are expected to share maritime facilities for mutual benefit.
- With the signing of a logistics agreement with Japan, India now has a logistics support agreement with all the QUAD member countries i.e. Australia, Japan and the USA.
What is mutual logistics agreement?
- The MLSA is a bilateral agreement between the countries that allows reciprocal access to military facilities in terms of logistics support which generally include food, water, petroleum (fuel), spare parts and other components.
- The agreement will be useful during joint military exercises, peacekeeping operations, Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief operations, scheduled deployments of military platforms, and any other exigent situations that may arise.
- It will help in improving interoperability between the involved parties.
Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha
Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla has said that if there is a provision for the post of Deputy Speaker in the Lok Sabha, then it was only obvious that there should be one, but it was not the Speaker’s job to appoint one, and that the Deputy Speaker was chosen by the House.
His comments come against the backdrop of renewed efforts by Opposition parties in urging the government to fill the Deputy Speaker’s position, which has been vacant for the past 15 months.
About Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha –
- Article 93 of the Constitution provides for the election of both the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker. For the election of Deputy Speaker, there is no need to resign from their original party though as a Deputy Speaker, they have to remain impartial.
- He acts as the presiding officer in case of leave or absence caused by death or illness of the Speaker of the Lok Sabha. Usually, the Deputy Speaker is elected in the first meeting of the Lok Sabha after the General elections from amongst the members of the Lok Sabha. It is by convention that position of Deputy Speaker is offered to opposition party in India.
- They hold office until either they cease to be a member of the Lok Sabha or they resign. They can be removed from office by a resolution passed in the Lok Sabha by an effective majority of its members.
- However, it should be noted that there is a constitution-mandated panel of 10 members to preside over the proceedings of the Lok Sabha in the absence of Speaker.