Saraswathi Menon, an eminent Indian academician has been named on advisory panel to Review UN Peace-Building Architecture. She is among seven experts nominated by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to conduct a policy and institutional review on UN’s peace-building architecture and make recommendations. The other 6 experts are: Anis Bajwa (Pakistan), Funmi Olonisakin (Nigeria), Sahel Sahara Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah (Mauritania), Charles Petrie (France), Gert Rosenthal (Guatemala) and Edith Grace Ssempala (Uganda).
7 expert’s advisory group function: It will undertake studies in countries like Burundi, Central African Republic, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, and Timor-Leste in order to conduct a policy and institutional review of the UN peace-building architecture. It will also develop findings and recommendations based on this work. The group will submit a report to the General Assembly and the Security Council for further consideration through an inter-governmental process.
Earlier in December 2014, the Presidents of the UN General Assembly and the Security Council had asked the Secretary-General to nominate up to seven experts to form an Advisory Group on the review of the peace-building architecture. About Saraswathi Menon She is former Director of the Policy Division in UN-Women and has extensive experience as a researcher and academician as well as in the UN system. Earlier she was Director of UN Development Programme’s (UNDP) Evaluation Office. Her UN career includes experience in both policy and programme areas. She has served in UNDP as Resident Coordinator, Deputy Resident Representative in various countries. Before joining the UNDP, she was lecturer in sociology at the Madras University, Tamil Nadu.
Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has lifted ban on carrying Indian bank notes of Rs 1,000 and 500 denominations to and from Nepal, Bhutan. In this regard RBI has issued a circular that eased the restriction on export and import of bank notes of 1,000 and 500 denominations for Nepal and Bhutan. However, RBI has put a limit of carrying such notes at Rs 25,000 per person.
Earlier in May 2000, RBI had imposed ban following the request of Union government to curb smuggling of counterfeit currency.
Implication: It will provide a great relief to workers from both nations as well as Indian tourists travelling to Nepal and Bhutan.
On procurement related issues: FCI should hand over all procurement operations of wheat, paddy and rice to Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Punjab as they have sufficient experience and reasonable infrastructure for procurement. FCI procurement should focus on eastern belt, where farmers do not get minimum support price.
On stocking and movement related issues: FCI should outsource its stocking operations to various agencies such as Central Warehousing Corporation (CWC), State Warehousing Corporation (SWC), Private Sector under Private Entrepreneur Guarantee (PEG) scheme. It should be done on competitive bidding basis, inviting various stakeholders and creating competition to bring down costs of storage. Movement of grains should be containerized in order to reduce transit losses. While, railways should have faster turn-around-time by having more mechanized facilities.
NFSA and PDS related issues Restructuring the National Food Security Act (NFSA) by virtually diluting its scope and coverage from 67 per cent of population to about 40 per cent population. In order to curtail leakages in PDS, government should defer implementation of NFSA in states that have not done end to end computerization.
End to end computerization: It recommends end to end computerization of the entire food management system, starting from procurement from farmers, to stocking, movement and finally distribution through PDS. It will help for real time basis monitoring in order to curb leakages.
In August 2014, Union government had set up 8 members High Level Committee (HLC) on FCI restructuring. It was restructuring chaired by Shanta Kumar.
Other members are: FCI Chairman-cum-Managing Director C Viswanath, Electronic and IT Secretary Ram Sewak Sharma, Former Chairman of Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) Ashok Gulati, Chief Secretaries of Punjab and Chhattisgarh; and Academicians G Raghuram and Gunmadi Nancharaiah of IIM-Ahmedabad.
Thailand’s military-appointed legislature has voted to impeach former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. She was impeached for her role in overseeing a government rice subsidy program that lost billions of dollars. More than three-fifths i.e. 190 legislatures voted against Yingluck in the legislature of 220 members. It should be noted that, for this impeachment more than three-fifths votes of the legislatures was required. Most members of the legislature who voted against her are part of the military or political opponents her government and past governments allied with her brother Thaksin Shinawatra (former Prime Minister who was ousted in a 2006 coup). This impeachment means she will be banned from politics for five years. While, Thailand’s military government is also planning to indict criminal charges on her for negligence related to losses and alleged corruption in the rice scheme. If she is convicted, she could face 10 years in jail.
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