Prime Minister’s Office : Important Updates

Prime Minister’s Office : Important Updates

SPG protectionPriority 1

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : SPG

Mains level : Security issues associated with VIPs



  • The Union government is expected to take away the security cover by Special Protection Group (SPG) being provided at present to Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi.
  • They will, however, continue to get a Z+ security cover, where they will be provided commandos belonging to the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).

How are security levels decided?

  • The Union Home Ministry takes this call after evaluating the inputs from all the intelligence agencies such as the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).
  • However, since none of the intelligence agencies is accountable to any external statutory body, barring internal oversight by ministries of Home and Foreign Affairs, the issue of security cover is open to manipulation.

What are the various levels of protection?

  • There are largely six types of security covers: X, Y, Y plus, Z, Z plus and SPG.
  • While SPG is meant only for the PM and his immediate family, other categories can be provided to anyone about whom the Centre or state governments have inputs about facing a threat.
  • X category: This on an average entails just one gunman protecting the individual;
  • Y category: It has one gunman for mobile security and one (plus four on rotation) for static security; Y plus has two policemen on rotation for security and one (plus four on rotation) for residence security;
  • Z category: It has six gunmen for mobile security and two (plus eight) for residence security; Z plus has 10 security personnel for mobile security and two (plus eight) for residence security.
  • There are various kinds of covers within these levels as well.

Who are the SPG? Whom do they protect?

  • The SPG is an elite force, specifically raised for the protection of the country’s PM, former PMs and their immediate family.
  • The force is currently 3,000 strong. If the Gandhis lose the SPG cover, PM Modi will be the only one under the SPG’s protection.
  • The SPG is highly trained in physical efficiency, marksmanship, combat and proximate protection tactics and is assisted by all central and state agencies to ensure foolproof security.
  • SPG Special Agents assigned to the PM security detail wear black, Western-style formal business suits, with sunglasses, and carry a two-way encrypted communication earpiece, and concealed handguns.
  • The SPG also has special operations commandos who carry ultra-modern assault rifles and wear dark-visor sunglasses with inbuilt communication earpieces, bulletproof vests, gloves and elbow/knee pads.

When was SPG raised? What is its history?

  • The SPG was started in 1985 in the wake of the killing of PM Indira Gandhi in 1984.
  • When V P Singh came to power in 1989, his government withdrew SPG protection given to his predecessor Rajiv Gandhi.
  • But after Rajiv’s assassination in 1991, the SPG Act was amended to offer protection to all former PMs and their families for at least 10 years.
  • In 2003, the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government again amended the SPG Act to bring the period of automatic protection down from 10 years to “a period of one year.
  • It is from the date on which the former PM ceased to hold office” and beyond one year based on the level of threat as decided by the government.
  • During the Vajpayee regime, the SPG cover of former PMs such as H D Deve Gowda, I K Gujaral and P V Narasimha Rao were withdrawn.
Prime Minister’s Office : Important Updates

Explained: The PM’s Economic Advisory Council — role and evolutionExplained

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : PMEAC

Mains level : Role and functions of the EAC



  • The government has reconstituted the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister (PMEAC or EAC-PM).
  • Bibek Debroy, who was appointed Chairman of the Council in 2017, continues in his post.

PMEAC

  • The PMEAC was set up “with a view to provide a sounding board for inculcating awareness in government on the different point of view on key economic issues”.
  • Its functions included analysing any issue, economic or otherwise, referred to it by the PM and advising him thereon.
  • It aimed at addressing issues of macroeconomic importance and presenting views thereon to the Prime Minister”, either on its own or upon reference; and presenting to the PM from time to time reports on “macroeconomic developments and issues with implications for economic policy”.

Its inception

  • PM Indira Gandhi, who had returned to power in 1980, faced formidable economic challenges.
  • The global oil shock and drought had led to a decline in the national income, and soaring prices.
  • In this situation, Finance Minister R Venkataraman stressed to the PM the need to arrest the slide and set the economy on the path to stability and growth.
  • Indira decided to rope in Prof Sukhamoy Chakravarty, a man who had taught alongside Amartya Sen and Manmohan Singh at the Delhi School of Economics, and who had, in the mid-1970s, headed the Policy Perspective Division in the Planning Commission.

Early years

  • In the initial years of its existence, the members of the Council included the famed economist K N Raj, besides C Rangarajan, who would later become the Governor of the RBI.
  • Vijay Kelkar was the first Secretary of the PMEAC during 1982-83.
  • Chakravarty who briefed the Prime Minister occasionally on the state of the economy, continued in the post after Rajiv Gandhi succeeded Indira in 1984.

First case of reference

  • Around 1986-87 the government had opened up the economy a little and allowed liberal foreign borrowings while spending to boost growth.
  • The Council made a presentation to the PM flagging emerging faultlines, and warning of an emerging fiscal imbalance.
  • Rajiv acknowledged the input, and announced that the government had decided to accept the report of a committee appointed in 1985 by then RBI Governor Manmohan Singh to review the working of the monetary system and Budget deficit.

The 1990s

  • Manmohan Singh himself headed the Council briefly when Chandra Shekhar was Prime Minister, before moving on to become Advisor to the PM in the months leading to the balance of payments crisis of 1991.
  • Bimal Jalan, who was finance secretary in the V P Singh government and, for a while in the Chandra Shekhar government as well, was moved to head the Council.
  • When P V Narasimha Rao was Prime Minister, and Manmohan Singh his Finance Minister, the Council held only a few meetings.

The Vajpayee years

  • Things changed after Vajpayee became PM for the second time in 1998.
  • The economy was again in trouble after the Asian crisis, and the PMEAC was expanded with the Prime Minister himself at its head.
  • A 12-member Council for Trade and Industry was also appointed. Vajpayee’s PMEAC had heavyweights such as I G Patel, the former RBI Governor; P N Dhar, a former Secretary in Indira’s PMO; and noted economists.
  • At a meeting of the Council in July 2002, Vajpayee unveiled an economic agenda for 8% growth — featuring plans to provide 10 million job opportunities annually, re-target subsidies and spending.
  • Through this period, the Finance Ministry remained dominant in economic policymaking.

The Manmohan years

  • After he became PM in 2004, Manmohan Singh, conscious that he could no longer afford to focus on multiple economic issues, got his former RBI colleague Rangarajan to head the PMEAC.
  • The EAC by this time was more compact, with fewer than a half-dozen members. The Council was seen as the advisory group best equipped to provide independent advice to the PM.
  • During the 2004-14 decade, the Council often brought out its own review of the economy, besides reports on a range of issues.
  • Singh’s Council was the most influential in the over three-decade history of the institution.
  • It drew its strength, most importantly, from the confidence and trust that the economist PM had in the head of the Council.

Revival in 2017

  • One of the early decisions that the new government under PM Modi took was to dismantle the Planning Commission.
  • However, the PMEAC was not restructured under the new government.
  • The Council was later reconstituted during first Modi government, with Debroy, then a member of the NITI Aayog, as chairman.
  • The revived PMEAC had economists Surjit Bhalla, Rathin Roy, and Ashima Goyal as members, and former finance secretary Ratan Watal as Secretary.
Prime Minister’s Office : Important Updates

Special Protection Group (SPG) CoverPrelims Only

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : SPG

Mains level : Not Much



  • The government is likely to withdraw the Special Protection Group (SPG) from a former Prime Minister’s security detail.

Special Protection Group

  • The SPG was set up in 1985 after the assassination of PM Indira Gandhi, and Parliament passed the SPG Act in 1988 dedicating the group to protecting the Prime Ministers of India.
  • At the time, the Act did not include former Prime Ministers, and when V.P. Singh came to power in 1989 his government withdrew SPG protection to the outgoing PM Rajiv Gandhi.
  • After Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated in 1991 the SPG Act was amended, offering SPG protection to all former Prime Ministers and their families for a period of at least 10 years.
  • The SPG cover would only be reduced on the basis of threat levels as defined in the SPG Act of 1988.
Prime Minister’s Office : Important Updates

It’s Sankalp Parva on August 15: PM


Note4students

Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Social empowerment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims Level: Particulars of the Sankalp Day

Mains Level: Whenever PM says anything apolitical it is important


News

PM urged to Indians

  1. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has urged Indians to celebrate August 15 this year as Sankalp Parva , or Day of Resolve
  2. Why: PM announced this day for doing something constructive for the country, with a deadline of August 2022 as the time of Siddhi (attainment of that ideal)
Prime Minister’s Office : Important Updates

Cabinet strength to be increased


  1. Prime Minister will be undertaking an expansion of his Council of Ministers with 19 new Ministers from 10 States
  2. Aim: To improve the talent pool with ‘doers’, ie, with mostly junior Ministers
  3. The government will be expanding its cabinet for the second time since 2014
  4. The first major cabinet reshuffle was in November 2014
  5. At present there are 64 ministers, including the Prime Minister
  6. A maximum of 82 ministers can be accomodated, as per the law
Prime Minister’s Office : Important Updates

Govt admits sedition definition is wide


  1. News: Govt admitted in Rajya Sabha that the definition of sedition under the law was very wide
  2. Context: Law Commission is carrying out a review of this law. Govt asked them to submit the report as soon as possible
  3. Clarification on law: Commission, in its 42nd report, had noted that the sedition law was “defective” but did not favour its deletion
  4. Commission sought a change in the definition but did not favour the scrapping of the law
Prime Minister’s Office : Important Updates

PMO asks NITI Aayog to give report on stalled hydro power projects


PMO has asked NITI Aayog to prepare a report on stalled hydroelectric power projects as the govt aims to provide 24×7 electricity across the country.

  1. These stalled projects have held up large-scale investment and have contributed to rising NPAs.
  2. According to data by the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), the proposed hydro capacity addition during the 12th FYP is 10,897 MW.
  3. However, up to December 2015, the actual capacity addition is only 3,651.02 MW which is 33.5% of the proposed capacity addition.
  4. Hydro power projects are generally categorized in two segments—small hydro (upto 25MW) and large hydro.
  5. Power ministry is responsible for large hydro projects, while the mandate for small hydro power is given to the new and renewable energy ministry.
Prime Minister’s Office : Important Updates

PMO seeks welfare coverage for construction labour


PMO has asked the labour ministry to ensure that all construction workers in the country are covered under social security schemes such as the Employees’ Provident Fund.

  1. The biggest challenge in bringing millions of India’s construction workers under various welfare schemes is the seasonal and migrant nature of their job.
  2. Most workers in the construction sector are semi-skilled or unskilled and work at sites across the country for spells of a few months at a time.
  3. With low literacy levels, they are also prone to benefit cheating by employers or contractors they work with.
  4. Every state collects cess on the cost of construction incurred by employers to form a fund to be utilised for welfare of construction workers.
  5. To counter the issue of frequent changes in employer and location, the EPFO has decided to register construction workers on the Universal Account Number (UAN) portal.
  6. Thereby allocating them a universal number for easy transfer of PF funds while switching jobs.
Prime Minister’s Office : Important Updates

PM’s interaction through PRAGATI


  1. The Prime Minister Modi, chaired his ninth interaction through PRAGATI – the ICT-based, multi-modal platform for Pro-Active Governance and Timely Implementation.
  2. Taking strong exception at complaints and grievances from people, related to the customs and excise sector, the PM asked for strict action against responsible officials.
  3. He urged all Secretaries whose departments have extensive public dealing, to set up a system for top-level monitoring of grievances immediately.
  4. Among the significant projects reviewed today were the Mumbai Trans-Harbour Link, the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) and the Jal Marg Vikas Project from Allahabad to Haldia.

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