Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maan-dhan (PM-SYM) will be rolled out by the Ministry of Labour and Employment tomorrow i.e. 15.02.2019. The scheme announced in the Interim Budget was notified by the Ministry recently. As many as 42 crore workers are estimated to be engaged in the unorganized sector of the country.
The unorganised workers mostly engaged as home based workers, street vendors, mid-day meal workers, head loaders, brick kiln workers, cobblers, rag pickers, domestic workers, washer men, rickshaw pullers, landless labourers, own account workers, agricultural workers, construction workers, beedi workers, handloom workers, leather workers, audio- visual workers and similar other occupations whose monthly income is Rs 15,000/ per month or less and belong to the entry age group of 18-40 years are eligible for the scheme. They should not be covered under New Pension Scheme (NPS), Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) scheme or Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO). Further, he/she should not be an income tax payer.
Following are the salient Features of PM-SYM: Minimum Assured Pension: Each subscriber under the PM-SYM, shall receive minimum assured pension of Rs 3000/- per month after attaining the age of 60 years. Family Pension: During the receipt of pension, if the subscriber dies, the spouse of the beneficiary shall be entitled to receive 50% of the pension received by the beneficiary as family pension. Family pension is applicable only to spouse.
(iii) If a beneficiary has given regular contribution and died due to any cause (before age of 60 years), his/her spouse will be entitled to join and continue the scheme subsequently by payment of regular contribution or exit the scheme as per provisions of exit and withdrawal.
Matching contribution by the Central Government: PM-SYM is a voluntary and contributory pension scheme on a 50:50 basis where prescribed age-specific contribution shall be made by the beneficiary and the matching contribution by the Central Government as per the chart. For example, if a person enters the scheme at an age of 29 years, he is required to contribute Rs 100/ - per month till the age of 60 years. An equal amount of Rs 100/- will be contributed by the Central Government.
Enrolment Process under PM-SYM: The subscriber will be required to have a mobile phone, savings bank account and Aadhaar number. The eligible subscriber may visit the nearest CSCs and get enrolled for PM-SYM using Aadhaar number and savings bank account/ Jan-Dhan account number on self-certification basis.
Later, facility will be provided where the subscriber can also visit the PM-SYM web portal or can download the mobile app and self-register using Aadhar number/ savings bank account/ Jan-Dhan account number on self-certification basis.
Enrollment agencies: The enrolment will be carried out by all the Community Service Centers (CSCs). The unorganised workers may visit their nearest CSCs along with their Aadhar Card and Savings Bank account passbook/Jandhan account and get registered themselves for the Scheme. Contribution amount for the first month shall be paid in cash for which they will be provided with a receipt.
Facilitation Centres: All the branch offices of LIC, the offices of ESIC/EPFO and all Labour offices of Central and State Governments will facilitate the unorganised workers about the Scheme, its benefits and the procedure to be followed, at their respective centers.
In this respect, the arrangements to be made by all offices of LIC, ESIC, EPFO all Labour offices of Central and State Governments are given below, for ease of reference:
All LIC, EPFO/ESIC and all Labour offices of Central and State Governments may set up a “Facilitation Desk” to facilitate the unorganised workers, guide about the features of the Scheme and direct them to nearest CSC. Each desk may consist of at least one staff. They will have backdrop, standi at the main gate and sufficient number of brochures printed in Hindi and regional languages to be provided to the unorganised workers.
Unorganised workers will visit these centres with Aadhaar Card, Savings bank account/ Jandhan account and mobile phone. Help desk will have onsite suitable sitting and other necessary facilities for these workers. Any other measures intended to facilitate the unorganised workers about the Scheme, in their respective centers. Fund Management: PM-SYM will be a Central Sector Scheme administered by the Ministry of Labour and Employment and implemented through Life Insurance Corporation of India and CSCs. LIC will be the Pension Fund Manager and responsible for Pension pay out. The amount collected under PM-SYM pension scheme shall be invested as per the investment pattern specified by Government of India.
Exit and Withdrawal: Considering the hardships and erratic nature of employability of these workers, the exit provisions of scheme have been kept flexible. Exit provisions are as under: In case subscriber exits the scheme within a period of less than 10 years, the beneficiary’s share of contribution only will be returned to him with savings bank interest rate. If subscriber exits after a period of 10 years or more but before superannuation age i.e. 60 years of age, the beneficiary’s share of contribution along with accumulated interest as actually earned by fund or at the savings bank interest rate whichever is higher.
If a beneficiary has given regular contributions and died due to any cause, his/ her spouse will be entitled to continue the scheme subsequently by payment of regular contribution or exit by receiving the beneficiary’s contribution along with accumulated interest as actually earned by fund or at the savings bank interest rate whichever is higher.
If a beneficiary has given regular contributions and become permanently disabled due to any cause before the superannuation age, i.e. 60 years, and unable to continue to contribute under the scheme, his/ her spouse will be entitled to continue the scheme subsequently by payment of regular contribution or exit the scheme by receiving the beneficiary’s contribution with interest as actually earned by fund or at the savings bank interest rate whichever is higher.
After the death of subscriber as well as his/her spouse, the entire corpus will be credited back to the fund. Any other exit provision, as may be decided by the Government on advice of NSSB. Default of Contributions: If a subscriber has not paid the contribution continuously he/she will be allowed to regularize his contribution by paying entire outstanding dues, along with penalty charges, if any, decided by the Government.
Pension Pay out: Once the beneficiary joins the scheme at the entry age of 18-40 years, the beneficiary has to contribute till 60 years of age. On attaining the age of 60 years, the subscriber will get the assured monthly pension of Rs.3000/- with benefit of family pension, as the case may be.
Objective of the bill: To offer more protection against the exploitation of Indian citizens, mostly Indian women by their NRI partners.
Key provisions: Amendment of the legal framework to act as a deterrent to the erring NRI spouses and creating more accountability and offer protection against exploitation of Indian Citizens, especially women married to NRIs.
Registration: Under the new bill, a marriage between an NRI and an Indian citizen will have to be registered in India or Indian missions and posts abroad within 30 days from the date of marriage. If the marriage isn’t registered within 30 days, the passport of the NRI will be revoked, summons and warrant be issued.
Section 86A: After the bill’s passing, the necessary changes would be carried out in the Passports Act, 1967 and Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 by insertion of Section 86A. The bill would amend the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, solving a major problem of serving judicial summons for court proceedings in India.
Significance and impact of the legislation: The Bill would offer great protection to Indian citizens married to NRIs and serve as a deterrent to NRIs against harassment of their spouses.
Need for a legislation on this: The bill has been introduced with the hope of restricting NRI husbands from using marriage as a tool of exploitation and making money and providing better enforcement of rights for the deserted woman under the family laws. The introduction of the Bill was necessitated due to numerous complaints received from Indian nationals mostly women, who were deserted or harassed by their Non-Resident Indian Spouses. Since marriage takes place outside India, there are no records or legal documents for further procedures to be initiated against the offender.
The publication mentions the key initiatives undertaken by India under various sectors towards combating and adapting to climate change.
Major initiatives of the Government towards combating climate change: National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC): The Action plan covers eight major missions on Solar, Enhanced Energy Efficiency, Sustainable Habitat, Water, Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem, Green India, Sustainable Agriculture and Strategic Knowledge on Climate Change.
International Solar Alliance (ISA): ISA was jointly launched by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and the then President of France, Francois Hollande in Paris on the side-lines of CoP 21 in 2015. The vision and mission of the alliance is to provide a dedicated platform for cooperation among solar resource rich countries that lie completely or partial between the Tropics of Capricorn & Cancer.
State Action Plan on Climate Change (SAPCC): State governments have drafted climate strategies aligned with the eight National Missions under the NAPCC. The strategies focus on issues ranging from climate mitigation, energy efficiency, and resource conservation to climate adaptation. FAME Scheme for E-mobility: Union Government in April 2015 launched Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric vehicles (FAME) – India Scheme with an aim to boost sales of eco-friendly vehicles in the country. It is a part of the National Mission for Electric Mobility.
Atal Mission for Rejuvenation & Urban Transformation (AMRUT) for Smart Cities. Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana: The scheme provides LPG connections to five crore below-poverty-line beneficiaries. The connections are given in the name of women beneficiaries to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels and conventional fuel like cow dung for cooking food, thus reducing air pollution.
UJALA scheme: The scheme was launched by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi in January 2015 with a target of replacing 77 crore incandescent lamps with LED bulbs. The usage of LED bulbs will not only result in reducing electricity bills but also help in environment protection.
Swachh Bharat Mission: Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Movement) is a campaign that was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 2, 2014. The campaign seeks to clean the streets, roads and infrastructure of the country’s 4041 statutory cities and towns.
Objectives of the bill: To uphold the rights of people with leprosy as the disease is curable. To amend five personal laws- the Hindu Marriage Act 1955, Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act 1939, Divorce Act (for Christians) 1869, Special Marriage Act 1954 and the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act 1956- to remove leprosy as a ground for divorce.
Various efforts in this regard: The first attempt towards eliminating the bias against people suffering from the disease was made in 2008 when the National Human Rights Commission had underlined the need to make amendments in certain personal laws and other legislations.
In 2010, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a Resolution on the ‘Elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members’, which was signed and ratified by India. Subsequently, the 20th Law Commission of India in its 256th Report titled “Eliminating Discrimination Against Persons Affected by Leprosy” had recommended repeal of laws and provisions that were discriminatory against leprosy-affected people.
In 2014, the Supreme Court had also asked the Centre and the state governments to take the necessary steps for rehabilitation and integration of leprosy-affected people into the mainstream including the steps to repeal the provisions where leprosy has been treated as a stigmatic disability.
Need for a legislation in this regard: Over 110 Central and State laws discriminate against leprosy patients. These laws stigmatise and isolate leprosy patients and, coupled with age-old beliefs about leprosy, cause the patients untold suffering. The biased provisions in these statutes were introduced prior to medical advancements. Now, modern medicine specifically, multi-drug therapy (MDT) completely cures the disease.
Leprosy: Leprosy is a chronic infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae. It usually affects the skin and peripheral nerves, but has a wide range of clinical manifestations.
The disease is characterized by long incubation period generally 5-7 years and is classified as paucibacillary or mulitbacillary, depending on the bacillary load. Leprosy is a leading cause of permanent physical disability.
Timely diagnosis and treatment of cases, before nerve damage has occurred, is the most effective way of preventing disability due to leprosy.
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved the continuation of the scheme with a total outlay of Rs 2,900 crore.
Credit Linked Capital Subsidy Scheme: The objective of the Scheme is to facilitate technology up-gradation in MSMEs by providing an upfront capital subsidy of 15 per cent (on institutional finance of up to Rs 1 crore availed by them) for induction of well-established and improved technology in the specified 51 sub-sectors/products approved.
The major objective is to upgrade their plant & machinery with state-of-the-art technology, with or without expansion and also for new MSEs which have set up their facilities with appropriate eligible and proven technology duly approved under scheme guidelines. The Scheme is a demand driven one without any upper limit on overall annual spending on the subsidy disbursal.
Nature of assistance: The revised scheme aims at facilitating technology up-gradation by providing 15% up front capital subsidy to MSMEs, including tiny, khadi, village and coir industrial units, on institutional finance availed by them for induction of well-established and improved technologies in specified sub-sectors/products approved under the scheme.
Background: The NCSK was established in the year 1993 as per the provisions of the NCSK Act 1993 initially for the period upto 1997. Later the validity of the Act was initially extended upto 2002 and thereafter upto 2004. The NCSK Act ceased to have effect from 2004. After that the tenure of the NCSK has been extended as a non-statutory body from time to time. The tenure of the present Commission is upto 31.3.2019.
Role of NCSK: Recommend to the Government regarding specific programmes for welfare of Safai Karamcharis, study and evaluate the existing welfare programmes for SafaiKaramcharis, investigate cases of specific grievances etc. Also as per the provisions of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, the NCSK has been assigned the work to monitor the implementation of the Act, tender advice for its effective implementation to the Centre and State Governments and enquire into complaints regarding contravention/non-implementation of the provisions of the Act.
Major impact: The major beneficiaries of the proposal would be the Safai Karamcharis and persons engaged in manual scavenging in the country since the NCSK will work for their welfare and upliftment.
Though the Government has taken many steps for the upliftment of the SafaiKaramcharis, the deprivation suffered by them in socio-economic and educational terms is still far from being eliminated. Further the practice of manual scavenging is still prevalent in the country and its eradication continues to be an area of the highest priority for the Government.
Context: Ministry of State (IC) for AYUSH, launched the e-AUSHADHI portal, for online licensing of Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and Homoeopathy drugs and related matters.
Key facts: e-AUSHADHI portal is intended for increased transparency, improved information management facility, improved data usability and increased accountability. Timelines will be fixed for processing of application through this portal with SMS and e-mail status updates at each step of the process.
It will provide real-time information of the licensed manufactures and their products, cancelled and spurious drugs, contact details of the concerned authority for specific grievances.
The Budget session was the last Parliament session of the present government. The 17th Lok Sabha has to be constituted before June 3.
When Does a Bill Lapse in Indian Parliament? Articles 107 and 108 of the Indian Constitution deal with these provisions. When the Lok Sabha is dissolved, all business including bills, motions, resolutions, notices, petitions and so on pending before it or its committees lapse. They must be reintroduced in the newly-constituted Lok Sabha to be pursued further.
Cases when a bill lapse: A bill originated in the Lok Sabha but pending in the Lok Sabha – lapses. A bill originated and passed by the Rajya Sabha but pending in Lok Sabha – lapses. A bill originated and passed by the Lok Sabha but pending in the Rajya Sabha – lapses.
A bill originated in the Rajya Sabha and returned to that House by the Lok Sabha with amendments and still pending in the Rajya Sabha on the date of the dissolution of Lok Sabha- lapses.
Cases when a bill does not lapse: A bill pending in the Rajya Sabha but not passed by the Lok Sabha does not lapse. If the president has notified the holding of a joint sitting before the dissolution of Lok Sabha, does not lapse. A bill passed by both Houses but pending assent of the president does not lapse. A bill passed by both Houses but returned by the president for reconsideration of Rajya Sabha does not lapse. Some pending bills and all pending assurances that are to be examined by the Committee on Government Assurances do not lapse on the dissolution of the Lok Sabha.
Key facts: Adjournment (of a sitting) does not affect the bills or any other business pending before the House and the same can be resumed when the House meets again. Prorogation (of a session) does not affect the bills or any other business pending before the House. However, all pending notices (other than those for introducing bills) lapse on prorogation and fresh notices have to be given for the next session.
About National Board for Wildlife: It is a “Statutory Organization” constituted under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. Its roles is “advisory” in nature and advises the Central Government on framing policies and measures for conservation of wildlife in the country. Primary function of the Board is to promote the conservation and development of wildlife and forests.
It has power to review all wildlife-related matters and approve projects in and around national parks and sanctuaries. No alternation of boundaries in national parks and wildlife sanctuaries can be done without approval of the NBWL.
Composition: The NBWL is chaired by the Prime Minister. It has 47 members including the Prime Minister. Among these, 19 members are ex-officio members. Other members include three Members of Parliament (two from Lok Sabha and one from Rajya Sabha), five NGOs and 10 eminent ecologists, conservationists and environmentalists.
Various studies suggest that an unhealthy diet with a high TFA content is a significant factor that pushes up metabolic syndrome and the burden of its associated complications. The Health Department is being supported in this initiative by Vital Strategies, the nutrition wing of the World Bank; the WHO; the FSSAI; and the State Food Safety wing, which will be in charge of enforcement.
What are Trans fats? Trans fatty acids (TFAs) or Trans fats are the most harmful type of fats which can have much more adverse effects on our body than any other dietary constituent. These fats are largely produced artificially but a small amount also occurs naturally. Thus in our diet, these may be present as Artificial TFAs and/ or Natural TFAs.
Artificial TFAs are formed when hydrogen is made to react with the oil to produce fats resembling pure ghee/butter. In our diet the major sources of artificial TFAs are the partially hydrogenated vegetable oils (PHVO)/vanaspati/ margarine while the natural TFAs are present in meats and dairy products, though in small amounts.
Harmful effects: TFAs pose a higher risk of heart disease than saturated fats. While saturated fats raise total cholesterol levels, TFAs not only raise total cholesterol levels but also reduce the good cholesterol (HDL), which helps to protect us against heart disease. Trans fats consumption increases the risk of developing heart disease and stroke.
It is also associated with a higher risk of developing obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, infertility, certain types of cancers and can also lead to compromised fetal development causing harm to the yet to be born baby.
Why they are increasingly being used? TFA containing oils can be preserved longer, they give the food the desired shape and texture and can easily substitute ‘Pure ghee’. These are comparatively far lower in cost and thus add to profit/saving.
Permissible limit: WHO recommends that trans-fat intake be limited to less than 1% of total energy intake and has called for the total elimination of TFAs in global food supply by 2023. FSSAI has proposed to limit TFA limit in foods to 2% and eliminate trans fats from foods by 2022.
Context: Ghumot, an indigenous earthen drum will soon be notified as a heritage instrument of Goa. Ghumot is an indigenous earthen drum fashioned as a designed clay pot, with the skin of the monitor lizard stretched taut across the pot’s mouth, forming a drumhead. It is a percussion instrument widely played during Ganesh Chaturthi Aarties.
The instrument was banned due to the use of the skin of the endangered monitor lizard for the drum membrane. In recent years, ghumot makers have started using goat skin instead. The ban is applicable to the use of any animal listed in the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, and that the goat is not one of them. Monitor lizard is listed under this.
‘Exercise Topchi’: What is it? It is an annual exercise held by Indian Army to showcase its artillery firepower, aviation and surveillance capabilities. The latest edition was held at Deolali Camp near Nashik.
Cobra Gold Military Exercise: Context: The United States and Thailand are hosting the multi-nation Cobra military exercise this year. The exercise is taking place in the northern Thai province of Phitsanulok. This is the 38th edition of this exercise.
About the exercise: This is a Thai-American initiative with an aim to improve coordination between the armed forces. It is one of the Asia-Pacific region’s largest multinational military exercises that is held in Thailand every year. It was first held in 1982 and its headquarters is in Bangkok, Thailand.
India joined this exercise for the first time in 2016 while China was admitted for the first time in 2015 but was only allowed to participate in humanitarian assistance training.
What’s the issue now? A ready supply of safe blood in sufficient quantities is a vital component of modern health care. However, in 2015-16, India was 1.1 million units short of its blood requirements. There were considerable regional disparities, with 81 districts in the country not having a blood bank at all. Yet, in April 2017, it was reported that blood banks in India had in the last five years discarded a total of 2.8 million units of expired, unused blood (more than 6 lakh litres).
Concerns over safety and quality of the blood being received: Blood is received through professional donation (who accept remuneration) and replacement donation (which is not voluntary). Blood is also donated voluntarily and without remuneration and it is considered to be the safest. To prevent transfusion-transmitted infections (TTIs), collected blood needs to be safe as well. Due to practical constraints, tests are only conducted post-collection. Thus blood donor selection relies on donors filling in health questionnaires truthfully.
In the case of professional donors there is a higher chance of there being TTIs in their blood, as these donors may not provide full disclosure. In the case of replacement donation, there could be a higher chance of TTI’s because replacement donors, being under pressure, may be less truthful about diseases.
Even the conducted test may not be fool-proof. These tests may not be fool proof as there is a window period after a person first becomes infected with a virus during which the infection may not be detectable. This makes it crucial to minimise the risk in the first instance of collection. Collecting healthy blood will also result in less blood being discarded later.
How is it regulated? Blood is considered to be a ‘drug’ under the Drugs & Cosmetics Act, 1940. Therefore, just like any other manufacturer or storer of drugs, blood banks need to be licensed by the Drug Controller-General of India (DCGI). For this, they need to meet a series of requirements with respect to the collection, storage, processing and distribution of blood, as specified under the Drugs & Cosmetics Rules, 1945.
Blood banks are inspected by drug inspectors who are expected to check not only the premises and equipment but also various quality and medical aspects such as processing and testing facilities. Their findings lead to the issuance, suspension or cancellation of a licence.
Governance issues: The regulatory framework which governs the blood transfusion infrastructure in India is scattered across different laws, policies, guidelines and authorities. In 1996, the Supreme Court directed the government to establish the National Blood Transfusion Council (NBTC) and State Blood Transfusion Councils (SBTCs). The NBTC functions as the apex policy-formulating and expert body for blood transfusion services and includes representation from blood banks. However, it lacks statutory backing (unlike the DCGI), and as such, the standards and requirements recommended by it are only in the form of guidelines.
This gives rise to a peculiar situation — the expert blood transfusion body can only issue non-binding guidelines, whereas the general pharmaceutical regulator has the power to license blood banks. This regulatory dissonance exacerbates the serious issues on the ground and results in poor coordination and monitoring.
Need of the hour: The present scenario under the DCGI is far from desirable, especially given how regulating blood involves distinct considerations when compared to most commercial drugs. In order to ensure the involvement of technical experts who can complement the DCGI, the rules should be amended to involve the NBTC and SBTCs in the licensing process.
Given the wide range of responsibilities the DCGI has to handle, its licensing role with respect to blood banks can even be delegated to the NBTC under the rules. This would go a long way towards ensuring that the regulatory scheme is up to date and accommodates medical and technological advances. A collaborative regulator can, more effectively, take the lead in facilitating coordination, planning and management. This may reduce the regional disparities in blood supply as well as ensure that the quality of blood does not vary between private, corporate, international, hospital-based, non-governmental organisations and government blood banks.
Conclusion: The aim of the National Blood Policy formulated by the government back in 2002 was to “ensure easily accessible and adequate supply of safe and quality blood”. To achieve this goal, India should look to reforming its regulatory approach at the earliest.
Background: Objectives: Dam Safety Conferences are being organized as an annual event in different DRIP States in collaboration with the Implementing Agencies and leading academic institutes to provide a common platform for all stakeholders including non-DRIP States.
Dam professionals, academicians, scientists, as well as industries both from within the country and from around the world gather to deliberate on all aspects related to dam safety and the solutions that worked best in addressing dam safety concerns.
Why ensure safety of dams in the country? About 80% of our large dams are over twenty-five years old. About 209 dams are over 100 years old and were built in an era when design practices and safety considerations were much below the current design and safety norms. Several of these dams may be experiencing distress and are in need of attention for ensuring their structural safety and operational efficiency.
About DRIP: The Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR), Government of India, with assistance from the World Bank, is implementing the DAM REHABILITATION AND IMPROVEMENT PROJECT (DRIP), which would be a six-year project. The Central Dam Safety Organisation of Central Water Commission, assisted by a Consulting firm, is coordinating and supervising the Project implementation.
Goals: The project originally envisaged the rehabilitation and improvement of about 223 dams within four states namely, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, and Tamil Nadu and later Karnataka, Uttarakhand (UNVNL) and Jharkhand (DVC) joined DRIP and total number of dams covered under DRIP increased to 250. The project will also promote new technologies and improve Institutional capacities for dam safety evaluation and implementation at the Central and State levels and in some identified premier academic and research institutes of the country.
The project development objectives of DRIP are: (i) to improve the safety and performance of selected existing dams and associated appurtenances in a sustainable manner, and (ii) to strengthen the dam safety institutional setup in participating states as well as at central level.
Background: Globally India ranks third after China and the USA in terms of the number of large dams with 5264 large dams in operation and 437 large dams under construction. The total storage capacity of the impounded water by these dams is about 283 billion cubic meters (BCM).
About KUSUM scheme: What is it? It is a ₹1.4 lakh-crore scheme for promoting decentralised solar power production of up to 28,250 MW to help farmers. Benefits: It would provide extra income to farmers, by giving them an option to sell additional power to the grid through solar power projects set up on their barren lands. It would help in de-dieselising the sector as also the DISCOMS.
Components of the scheme: The components of the scheme include building 10,000 MW solar plants on barren lands and providing sops to DISCOMS to purchase the electricity produced, ‘solarising’ existing pumps of 7250 MW as well as government tube wells with a capacity of 8250 MW and distributing 17.5 lakh solar pumps. The 60% subsidy on the solar pumps provided to farmers will be shared between the Centre and the States while 30% would be provided through bank loans. The balance cost has to be borne by the farmers.
Significance of the scheme: Expected positive outcomes of the scheme include promotion of decentralised solar power production, reduction of transmission losses as well as providing support to the financial health of DISCOMs by reducing the subsidy burden to the agriculture sector. The scheme would also promote energy efficiency and water conservation and provide water security to farmers.
The proposed scheme provides for: Setting up of grid-connected renewable power plants each of 500KW to 2 MW in the rural area. Installation of standalone off-grid solar water pumps to fulfil irrigation needs of farmers not connected to grid.
Solarization of existing grid-connected agriculture pumps to make farmers independent of grid supply and also sell surplus solar power generated to Discom and get extra income.
Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2019: The Bill seeks to amend provisions of Cinematograph Act, 1952, in order to tackle film piracy by including penal provisions for unauthorized camcording and duplication of films. It aims to check piracy, particularly the release of pirated versions of films on the internet that causes huge losses to the film industry and the exchequer.
The bill proposes to make film piracy offences punishable with imprisonment of up to three years and fines that may extend to ₹10 lakh or both. The proposed amendment states that any person, who without the written authorisation of the copyright owner, uses any recording device to make or transmit a copy of a film, or attempts to do so, or abet the making or transmission of such a copy, will be liable for such a punishment.
Significance and Expected Outcomes: The film industry has been demanding for a long time that the government consider amendments to the law preventing camcording and piracy. The proposed amendments would increase industry revenues, boost job creation, fulfil important objectives of India’s National Intellectual Property policy. It will give relief against piracy and infringing content online.
Swachh Shakti Programme: The Swachh Shakti Programme is a national event which aims to bring in to focus the leadership role played by rural women in Swachh Bharat Mission. Launched in 2017, the Programme is a part of ongoing activities under the aegis of the Swachh Bharat Mission, launched on October 2, 2014 by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi to achieve a clean and Open Defecation Free (ODF) India by October 2, 2019.
The programme is attended by women panchs and sarpanchs from across the country. The first edition of Swachh Shakti programme was launched from Gandhinagar, Gujarat by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on International Women’s Day 2017. The second edition was launched from Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh.
About World Government Summit: The World Government Summit is a global platform dedicated to shaping the future of government worldwide. Each year, the Summit sets the agenda for the next generation of governments with a focus on how they can harness innovation and technology to solve universal challenges facing humanity.
It is basically a knowledge exchange center at the intersection between government, futurism, technology, and innovation. It functions as a thought leadership platform and networking hub for policymakers, experts, and pioneers in human development.
The Summit is a gateway to the future as it functions as a stage for analysis of the future trends, issues, and opportunities facing humanity. It is also an arena to showcase innovations, best practice, and smart solutions to inspire creativity to tackle these future challenges.
The matter has been referred to the larger bench to determine the correctness of minority status of AMU and to define the parameters for granting minority status to the institution.
What’s the issue? In 1981, an amendment was brought in to accord the university minority status, which was held as unconstitutional by the Allahabad High Court. The Attorney General had told the Supreme Court that the Aligarh Muslim University could not be categorised as a minority institution.
After the Allahabad High Court recognised the university as a non-minority institution in 2006, the Congress-led UPA government had filed a plea challenging the verdict. The NDA government in 2016 told the Supreme Court that it was withdrawing the appeal filed by the previous government saying that the university was set up by a Central Act, a five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court had held it as a “central university” and not a minority institution.
What is the ‘minority character’ of an educational institution? Article 30(1) of the Constitution gives all religious and linguistic minorities the right to set up and run educational institutions, including schools, colleges and universities. The law guarantees that governments will not discriminate in giving aid on the basis of their being ‘minority’ institutions, thus sealing in a commitment by the Government of India to allow minorities to flourish.
Why this provision was included in the constitution? This was done to assure minorities of being able to maintain and propagate their unique and special educational aspects.
Background: AMU was founded as the Madrasatul Uloom in 1875 in Aligarh, and evolved into the Mohammedan Anglo Oriental College. The seeds of Jamia Millia Islamia were sown in Aligarh by a group of nationalist students and members who formed a camp there as Jamia Millia Islamia, which later moved to Delhi. Leaders like M A Ansari, Zakir Husain and Mahatma Gandhi encouraged the university to push nationalist values and ideas.
However, there was friction between JMI and AMU along political lines, as a significant section at AMU was said to be tilting towards the Muslim League, while the ‘nationalist’ JMI was wholeheartedly supported by the Congress.
Way ahead: Protection of minorities is the hallmark of a civilization. These guarantees are essential in a democratic and pluralistic country like India. The framers of the constitution showed utmost sensitivity to the needs and aspirations of the minorities. Accordingly, special safeguards were guaranteed to the minorities and were incorporated in the chapter on fundamental rights with a view to inculcate in them a sense of confidence and security.
Special rights enjoyed by religious minority institutions are: Under Art 30(1)(a), such institutions enjoy right to education as a Fundamental Right. In case the property is taken over by state, due compensation to be provided to establish institutions elsewhere. Under Article 15(5), they are not considered for reservation. Under Right to Education Act, they are not required to provide admission to children in the age group of 6-14 years upto 25% of enrolment reserved for economically backward section of society.
In St Stephens vs Delhi University case, 1992, SC ruled that these institutions can have 50% seats reserved for minorities. In TMA Pai & others vs State of Karnataka & others 2002 case, SC ruled that they can have separate admission process which is fair, transparent and merit based. They can also separate fee structure but should not charge capitation fee.
About Formalin: Formalin is a toxic, colourless solution that is derived by dissolving formaldehyde gas in water. It is a cancer-inducing chemical used to preserve fish and is used as a disinfectant. It is used in the manufacture of pesticides, fertilisers, glue, paper and paint, among other products.
Formalin causes irritation in the eyes, throat, skin and stomach. In the long run continued exposure causes harm to the kidneys, liver and can even cause cancers.
Formaldehyde is a highly reactive, flammable gas, which means it can become a fire hazard when exposed to flame or heat.
Why is fish laced with formalin? Fish is a highly perishable commodity. If it isn’t maintained at the proper temperature of 5 degree Celsius, it gets spoilt. To avoid that and increase its shelf life, the sellers now use chemicals such as formalin and ammonia. If the point of sale is far from the place of catch, formalin is used as a preservative. Meanwhile, ammonia is mixed with the water that is frozen to keep fish fresh.
Related facts- Operation Sagar Rani: In June 2018, Kerala food safety department officials seized nearly 9,600 kg of fish preserved in formalin at a border check post in Kollam district. The seized fish included 7,000 kg of prawns and 2,600 kg of other species. The seizure was part of ‘Operation Sagar Rani’ launched by the state.
Background: The MSP for MFP scheme was started by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in 2013 to ensure fair and remunerative prices to MFP gatherers.
Significance of MFP: Minor Forest Produce (MFP) is a major source of livelihood for tribals living in forest areas. The importance of MFPs for this section of the society can be gauged from the fact that around 100 million forest dwellers depend on MFPs for food, shelter, medicines and cash income. It provides them critical subsistence during the lean seasons, particularly for primitive tribal groups such as hunter gatherers, and the landless. Tribals derive 20-40% of their annual income from MFP on which they spend major portion of their time.
This activity has strong linkage to women’s financial empowerment as most of the MFPs are collected and used/sold by women. MFP sector has the potential to create about 10 million workdays annually in the country.
Need of the hour: While it has been more than five years since the scheme was launched, it has not been implemented properly. Improving the implementation of the scheme is the need of the hour to benefit the forest-dwelling and forest-dependent communities. Moreover, despite the MFP rights being given to tribal communities under the Forest Rights Act, many states have nationalised MFPs like tendu, monopolising their trade, which is against the law.
Related facts for Prelims- About Van Dhan Vikas Kendras initiative: The initiative aims to promote MFPs-centric livelihood development of tribal gatherers and artisans. It mainstreams the tribal community by promoting primary level value addition to MFP at grassroots level. Through this initiative, the share of tribals in the value chain of Non-Timber Forest Produce is expected to rise from the present 20% to around 60%.