National Current Affairs

Government finalising Electoral Bonds Scheme

The Union Government is finalising electoral bonds scheme in order to bring greater transparency in funding of political parties. The scheme was announced in 2017-18 Union Budget as part of certain electoral funding reforms. It will make India first country in the world to have such unique bonds for  electoral funding.

Need for such Scheme

According to Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), most political parties use lax regime on donations to accept cash donations from anonymous sources. Nearly 70% of Rs. 11,300 crore in party funding over an 11-year period came from unknown sources. The electoral bonds will prompt donors to take banking route to donate, with their identity captured by the issuing authority.

Electoral Bonds Scheme

Under the scheme, proposed electoral bonds will resemble promissory note and not an interest-paying debt instrument. These bonds will only be issued by notified authorised bank and can only be bought using cheques or digital payments. These bonds purchased by donor will be given to political party for fixed period of time.

The electoral bonds will not carry name of donor and routing of money through banks will ensure that only tax paid money comes into political system. To avail benefit of this scheme, it is mandatory for all political parties to notify their bank account to the Election Commission of India. Political party using their notified bank account can convert these donated electoral bonds into money.

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India and Norway sign Letter of Intent to bilateral extend health cooperation

India has signed Letter of Intent (LoI) with Norway to extend cooperation within health sector through Norway India Partnership Initiative (NIPI) for period of three years starting from 2018.

Through this LoI, cooperation between both countries will continue to be aligned with development goals of India as outlined in its National Health Policy, 2017 for achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Key Facts

The cooperation will also focus on global health issues of common interest. It will include areas related to reproductive, maternal, child, new-born, adolescent health and health system strengthening to be build based on experiences from NIPI phase I and II.  The cooperation will continue to focus on innovative, catalytic and strategic support, taking India’s Intensification Plan for Accelerated Maternal and Child Survival in country as starting point.

Background

The Governments of Norway and India had agreed in 2006 to collaborate towards achieving MDG 4 to reduce child mortality. The partnership was based on India’s health initiative, National Health Mission (NHM) and aimed at facilitating rapid scale-up of quality child and maternal health services in four high focus states – Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Rajasthan.

The main activities in NIPI Phase I (2006-2012) were home-based new born care (HBNC), establishing Sick Newborn Care Units (SNCU), Yashoda through State health system, techno managerial support and providing strategic support for immunization and Public Private Partnership (PPP) initiatives. India and Norway had decided to extend the partnership to coincide with Phase II of NHM plan for period of five years (2013-17). Besides four states supported by NIPI, Jammu & Kashmir was added as fifth state with NIPI.

NIPI through its work in last decade (2007-2017) has resulted in newer initiatives. It has also supported NHM by providing credible technical support in five states and at national level. It has resulted in development and release of multiple policies and guidelines for NHM.

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