(1) Amendment made in the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011 to safeguard the interest of consumers and ease of doing business came into force w.e.f. 01.01.2018. Goods displayed by the seller on e-commerce platform shall contain declarations required under the Rules. Ø Specific mention is made in the rules that no person shall declare different MRPs (dual MRP) on an identical pre-packaged commodity. Ø Size of letters and numerals for making declaration is increased, so that consumer can easily read the same.
Ø The net quantity checking is made more scientific. Ø Bar Code/ QR Coding is allowed on voluntarily basis. Ø Provisions regarding declarations on Food Products have been harmonized with regulation under the Food Safety & Standards Act. Ø Medical devices which are declared as drugs, are brought into the purview of declarations to be made under the rules.
Ø On the representations of Industries and their Associations on the huge inventory of packaging materials with them, permission was given by this Department for making declarations under these amended rules by affixing sticker or by stamping or online printing or using a tag upto 31.7.2018. Further, to facilitate smooth transition and for ease of doing business advisories have been issued to the Controllers of Legal Metrology of State Governments not to take coercive action against the industry upto 31.7.2018 for font size.
(2) Permission to display revised MRP due to reduction of rates of GST up to 31st December, 2018: Ø On account of implementation of GST w.e.f. 1st July, 2017, there may be instances where the retail sale price of a pre-packaged commodity is required to be changed. In this context, the manufacturers or packers or importers of pre-packaged commodities were allowed to declare the revised retail sale price (MRP) in addition to the existing retail sale price (MRP), for three months w.e.f. 1st July 2017 to 30th September, 2017. Declaration of the changed retail sale price (MRP) was allowed to be made by way of stamping or putting sticker or online printing, as the case may be.
Ø Use of unexhausted packaging material/wrapper was also been allowed upto 30th September, 2017 after making the necessary corrections.
Ø Considering the requests received to extend the permission for some more time it was extended to display the revised MRP due to implementation of GST by way of stamping or putting sticker or online printing further up to 31st March, 2018.
Ø When Government reduced the rates of GST on certain specified items, the permission was granted under sub-rule (3) of rule 6 of the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011, to affix an additional sticker or stamping or online printing for declaring the reduced MRP on the pre-packaged commodity. In this case also, the earlier Labelling/ Sticker of MRP will continue to be visible.
Ø This relaxation will also be applicable in the case of unsold stocks manufactured/ packed/ imported after 1st July, 2017 where the MRP would reduce due to reduction in the rate of GST post 1st July, 2017.
Ø The above permission/ relaxation were extended upto 31stMarch, 2018. Ø As the Government has further reduced the rates of GST on certain specified items, permission has been granted to affix an additional sticker or stamping or online printing as the case may be, for declaring the reduced MRP on the pre-packaged commodity upto 31st December, 2018. However, the earlier Labelling/ Sticker of MRP will continue to be visible.
Ø This relaxation is also applicable in the case of unsold stocks manufactured/ packed/ imported where the MRP would reduce due to reduction in the rate of GST w.e.f. 27th July, 2018. Any packaging material or wrapper which could not be exhausted by the manufacturer or packer or importer, may also be used for packing of material upto 31st December, 2018 or till such date the packing material or wrapper is exhausted, whichever is earlier after making corrections required in retail sale price (MRP) on account of reduction of G.S.T. by way of stamping or putting sticker or online printing.
(3) Support to State Governments: Ø Grants in aid were released for the construction of Laboratory Buildings to States / UTs Governments for effective enforcement of weights and measures laws.
Ø Legal standard equipment have been supplied to State Governments for calibration, verification and stamping of weights and measures and weighing and measuring instruments to ensure the correct quantity delivered to the consumers. Ø Training programs at National Physical Laboratory, New Delhi were organised for the enforcement officers of the State Governments.
(4) Initiatives taken for Regional Reference Standards Laboratories at Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Bhubaneswar, Faridabad, Guwahati and Indian Institute of Legal Metrology, Ranchi Ø All RRSLs and Indian Institute of Legal Metrology, Ranchi have been accredited by National Accreditation Board of Laboratories (NABL).
Ø Two new Regional Reference Standards Laboratories are being established at Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh and Nagpur, Maharashtra. The land for both the laboratories has already been purchased from the respective State Governments and the construction work is yet to start. Ø The up gradation of Regional Reference Standards Laboratory, Bangalore is in progress to make it at par with the best International Laboratories in the field of Legal Metrology.
(5) Advisories issued: (i) In the interest of consumers advisory has been issued to the Controllers of Legal Metrology of all States/UTs to enforce overcharging and dual MRP, for which actions have been taken by the State Governments. (ii) To safeguard the interest of consumers advisory has been issued to all State Governments to ensure all declarations including MRP on all medical devices.
(iii) The permission relaxing the manner of declaration of the retail sale price was granted vide order No. WM-10(54)/2016 dated 04.12.2017, in respect of Single Brand retail trading entities, which has been extended upto 31.07.2019.
(iv) Advisory was issued to the Controllers of Legal Metrology of all States/ UTs for compliance of Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011 for sale/ distribution of edible vegetable oil including blended edible vegetable oil.
Action taken to stop fraudulent practices in Petrol/ Diesel dispensers: (1) E-sealing: To prevent the manipulation in petrol/ diesel dispensing units, e-sealing has been introduced at petrol/ diesel retail outlets on pilot basis with the officers of Legal Metrology of State Governments, representatives of Oil Marketing Companies, Original Equipment Manufacturers and Central Government Legal Metrology Officers.
The OMCs are also asked to upgrade the existing Dispensers for the following features: (i) To have the facility of generating OTP for any Hardware Change, Pulser validation and Calibration. (ii) To change the existing pulser with non-openable, self destructive potted magnetic pulser (iii) To have family integrity (iv) To upgrade the software encryption.
The permission was granted to install the Vapour Recovery System for green environment and to reduce the petrol vapours at the Retail Outlets.
Time Dissemination: Ø To enable dissemination of Indian Standard Time in the country, budget provision has been made by this Department for the dissemination of the same through the five Regional Reference Standards Laboratories located at Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Bhubaneswar, Faridabad and Guwahati with the cooperation of NPL.
ØThere are seven base units for any quantitative measurement, which in the international systems of units (SI unit) are kilogram for mass, meter for length, second for time, Ampere for electric current, Kelvin for temperature, Candela for light intensity and mole for amount of substance. Provisions for units of weights and measures are provided under the Legal Metrology Act, 2009.
Ø In India, dissemination of Time, one of the seven base units, is being maintained at only one level which is at NPL, New Delhi. The Group of Secretaries on Science & Technology, constituted by the Cabinet Secretariat in 2016, recommend that, “Presently, Indian Standard Time (IST) is not being adopted mandatorily by all Telecom Service Providers (TSPs) and 'Internet Service Providers' (ISPs). Non-uniformity of time across different systems creates problems in investigation of cybercrime by the law enforcement agencies (LEAs). Hence, synchronisation of all networks and computers within the country with a national clock is a must, especially for the real time applications in strategic sector and national security.
Ø Accurate time dissemination as well as precise time synchronization has significant impact on all societal, industrial, strategic and many other sectors like monitoring of the power grid failures, international trade, banking systems, automatic signalling in road & railways, weather forecasting, disaster managements, searching for natural resources under the earth’s crust requires robust, reliable and accurate timing systems.
Buffer stock of upto 20.50 lakh tonnes of pules built through domestic procurement and import for effective market intervention to stabilize their prices.
As on date, 3.77 lakh MT of pules are available in the buffer after disposal of 16.73 lakh MT from 20.50 lakh tonnes, of which 3.79 lakh tonnes was imported and 16.71 lakh tonnes was procured domestically. Of 16.71 lakh tonnes procured domestically, 13.67 lakh tonnes was procured at MSP during 2016-17 and 2017-18, benefitting around 8.49 lakhs farmers. Procurement and import of Onions undertaken through NAFED, SFAC and MMTC for stabilising prices of onions.
Domestic procurement of 13,508 MT of Onions took place under PSF in 2018-19. Domestic procurement of 5,131 MT onion took place in 2017-18 Pulses from the buffer are being utilized for supply to States for distribution under their schemes; Ministries/Departments of Central Government having schemes with nutrition component as well as those providing hospitality services either directly or through Private Agencies.
In addition, pulses from the buffer are being utilized to meet the requirement of pulses by Army and Central Para-military Forces. Food Aid has also been provided to Afghanistan as well as towards Flood-relief measures undertaken in Kerala. Pulses are also being disposed through auction in Market. These interventions, inter-alia, ensured that prices of pulses and onions remain at reasonable level throughout the year.
Strengthening of Price Monitoring Cell(PMC): From financial year 2018-19 onward, for Strengthening of Price Monitoring Cell (PMC) at State level, new items of funding support have been added. These comprise remuneration for a contractual employee at the level of Data Entry Operator (DEO) and provision of a handheld device with geotagging facilities for price collection along with a simcard for the said device.
The Consumer Protection Bill 2018 has been introduced in the Parliament on 5th January, 2018 in the Parliament. The bill provides for the following:-
i) Strengthening the existing Act ii) Faster redressal of Consumer Grievances iii) Empowering Consumers and iv) Modernizing legislation to keep pacce with ongoing change in market.
Various festivals being celebrated across the Nations: Makar Sankranti: The festival of Makar Sankranti is being celebrated today when the Sun enters the Makar zodiac and the days begin to lengthen compared to nights.
Pongal: In South India and particularly in Tamil Nadu, it’s the festival of Pongal which is being celebrated over 4 days at harvest time.
Magha Bihu: In Assam and many parts of the North East, the festival of Magha Bihu is celebrated. It sees the first harvest of the season being offered to the gods along with prayers for peace and prosperity. Uttarayan: Gujarat celebrates it in the form of the convivial kite festival of Uttarayan.
Maghi: In Punjab, Makar Sankranti is celebrated as Maghi. Bathing in a river in the early hours on Maghi is important. Saaji: In Shimla District of Himachal Pradesh, Makara Sankranti is known as Magha Saaji. Saaji is the Pahari word for Sankranti, start of the new month. Hence this day marks the start of the month of Magha. Kicheri: The festival is known as Kicheri in Uttar Pradesh and involves ritual bathing.
Outside India: Shakrain is an annual celebration of winter in Bangladesh, observed with the flying of kites. Maghe Sankranti is a Nepalese festival observed on the first of Magh in the Bikram Samwat Hindu Solar Nepali calendar (about 14 January).
More than thirty-six years after the Karnataka Devadasis (Prohibition of Dedication) Act of 1982 was passed, the State government is yet to issue the rules for administering the law.
Concerns- highlights of the study: Vulnerable population: Special children, with physical or mental disabilities, are more vulnerable to be dedicated as devadasis. Girls from socio-economically marginalised communities continued to be victims of the custom, and thereafter were forced into the commercial sex racket. The devadasi system continues to receive customary sanction from families and communities.
Reporting of cases pertaining to the custom under the Karnataka law is very low, with only four cases filed between 2011 and 2017. The law is used sparingly, and focuses on prosecution (including of the victims themselves) with no framework for rehabilitation.
Loopholes: Despite sufficient evidence of the prevalence of the practice and its link to sexual exploitation, recent legislations such as the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act 2012, and Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act of 2015 have not made any reference to it as a form of sexual exploitation of children. Dedicated children are also not explicitly recognised as children in need of care and protection under JJ Act, despite the involvement of family and relatives in their sexual exploitation.
India’s extant immoral trafficking prevention law or the proposed Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill 2018, also do not recognise these dedicated girls as victims of trafficking for sexual purposes. The State’s failure to enhance livelihood sources for weaker sections of society fuels the continuation of the practice.
What is Devadasi system? Devadasi system is a religious practice whereby parents marry a daughter to a deity or a temple. The marriage usually occurs before the girl reaches puberty. In recent decades, the practice has been used to push young girls into prostitution. While various state governments have enacted laws to stop such practices, the tradition remains entrenched in some parts of the country, especially some southern states.
Laws prohibiting its practice: The practice of Devadasi system in any form is in total contravention of the provisions of Section 370 and 370A as amended through Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 as well as Section 372 of Indian Penal Code. It is also against Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act.
Need of the hour: Enhance livelihood sources for weaker sections of society. More inclusive socio-economic development. A legislative overhaul and a more pro-active role from State agencies.
About DMFs: DMFs were instituted under the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) (MMDR) Amendment Act 2015 as non-profit trusts to work for the interest and benefit of persons and areas affected by mining-related operations.
The objective of District Mineral Foundation is to work for the interest of the benefit of the persons and areas affected mining related operations in such manner as may be prescribed by the State Government. Jurisdiction: Its manner of operation comes under the jurisdiction of the relevant State Government.
The various state DMF rules and the Pradhan Mantri Khanij Khestra Kalyan Yojana (PMKKKY) guidelines stipulate some “high priority” issues for DMFs, including:
Drinking water. Health Women and child welfare. Education Livelihood and skill development. Welfare of aged and disabled. Sanitation
Pradhan Mantri Khanij Kshetra Kalyan Yojana (PMKKKY): The programme is meant to provide for the welfare of areas and people affected by mining related operations, using the funds generated by District Mineral Foundations (DMFs).
Objectives of the scheme: To implement various developmental and welfare projects/programs in mining affected areas that complement the existing ongoing schemes/projects of State and Central Government.
To minimize/mitigate the adverse impacts, during and after mining, on the environment, health and socio-economics of people in mining districts. To ensure long-term sustainable livelihoods for the affected people in mining areas.
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.
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.
“Fair Value for Innovation”: The United States Chamber of Commerce’s Global Innovation Policy Center (GIPC) launched a new innovation initiative at the Raisina Dialogue in New Delhi.
The initiative, titled “Fair Value for Innovation”, would enable breakthrough innovation, and explore how policymakers can harness innovation capital in India and around the globe through research, advocacy, partnerships, and programs.
About the Raisina Dialogue: This is an annual geo-political event, organised by the Ministry of External Affairs and Observer Research Foundation (ORF). It is designed to explore prospects and opportunities for Asian integration as well as Asia’s integration with the larger world. It is predicated on India’s vital role in the Indian Ocean Region and how India along with its partners can build a stable regional and world order.
Participants: The conference is a multi-stakeholder, cross-sectoral meeting involving policy and decision-makers, including but not limited to Foreign, Defence and Finance Ministers of different countries, high-level government officials and policy practitioners, leading personalities from business and industry, and members of the strategic community, media and academia.
Significance of the event: The Raisina Dialogue was born in 2016, in the belief that the Asian century that the world was talking about was not about any exclusive geographical region. It was rather about the engagement of global actors with Asia and of Asia with the world. So this dialogue took birth as a platform, where the old and the new could work together, to discover their connections, their inter-dependence.
Findings: The population of the saltwater or estuarine crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) has increased in the water bodies of Odisha’s Bhitarkanika National Park and its nearby areas in Kendrapara district.
1,742 individuals have been recorded in this year’s annual reptile census. The increase in population was primarily due to the far-sighted measures of the government.
Back to Basics: There are three species of crocodilians—saltwater, Mugger and Gharial.
Mugger: The mugger crocodile, also called the Indian crocodile, or marsh crocodile, is found throughout the Indian subcontinent. It is listed as vulnerable by IUCN. The mugger is mainly a freshwater species, and found in lakes, rivers and marshes.
Gharial: The Gharial or fish eating crocodile is native to the Indian subcontinent. It is listed as a Critically Endangered by IUCN. Small released populations are present and increasing in the rivers of the National Chambal Sanctuary, Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary, Son River Sanctuary and the rainforest biome of Mahanadi in Satkosia Gorge Sanctuary, Orissa.
Saltwater Crocodile: It is the largest of all living reptiles. It listed as least concern by IUCN. It is found throughout the east coast of India.
Crocodile conservation programmes in India: The Gharial and Saltwater crocodile conservation programme was first implemented in Odisha in early 1975 and subsequently the Mugger conservation programme was initiated, since Odisha is having distinction for existence of all the three species of Indian crocodilians. The funds and technical support for the project came from UNDP/ FAO through the Government of India. ‘BAULA’ PROJECT AT DANGAMAL: ‘Baula’ is the Oriya term for Saltwater Crocodile. Dangmal is in Bhitarkanika sanctuary.
MUGGER PROJECT AT RAMATIRTHA: The Ramatirtha center, in Odisha, is meant for Mugger crocodiles. GHARIAL PROJECT AT TIKARPADA, Odisha. CAPTIVE BREEDING OF CROCODILES AT NANDANKANAN, Odisha.
Organised by: Cox & Kings Foundation in association with Humane Society International/India and Action for Protection of Wild Animals (APOWA).
Need of the hour: Odisha has half of the world’s Olive Ridley turtle population and 90% of India’s turtle population lives in the state. Despite that no actions have been taken for their conservation. Therefore, the government should develop some infrastructure near the turtle nesting sites at Devi and Rusikulya rivers, the two major nesting grounds.
Back to Basics: There are five species in Indian waters — Leatherback (Vulnerable), Loggerhead (Endangered), Hawksbill (Critically Endangered), Green (Endangered) and Olive Ridley. In India, sea turtles are protected under the Indian Wildlife Protection Act of 1972. The Olive ridley turtles are the smallest and most abundant of all sea turtles found in the world, inhabiting warm waters of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans.
The Olive ridley is the most numerous among the sea turtles found in India and is well known for its arribadas, or annual mass nestings when thousands of turtles migrate to the breeding ground to nest simultaneously. Recognized as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red list. International trade in these turtles and their products is banned under CITES Appendix I.
‘Operation Kachhapa’: Conservation of the Olive Ridley Sea Turtle was launched by the Wildlife Protection Society of India in collaboration with the Orissa State Forest Department and the Wildlife Society of Orissa and other local NGOs.
To reduce accidental killing in India, the Orissa government has made it mandatory for trawls to use Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs), a net specially designed with an exit cover which allows the turtles to escape while retaining the catch.
Context: George, the last known Achatinella apexfulva- a Hawaiian tree snail, died on New Year’s Day 2019, making his species the first to be declared officially extinct in 2019.
Delhi govt plans to start bird hospitals: Context: In a first, the government of Delhi has proposed a specialised treatment facility for birds in the National Capital Territory, as part of its Animal Health and Welfare Policy 2018. This setup would be developed in all the districts of Delhi in order to provide high-end specialized referral clinical support and treatment to the birds.
PM Narendra Modi receives first ever Philip Kotler Presidential Award: Context: Prime Minister Narendra Modi was awarded first ever Philip Kotler Presidential Award. He was selected for his outstanding leadership for the nation.
The Philip Kotler Presidential Award recognises and celebrates achievements of organisations, marketing teams, and individuals in different industries around the world. Philip Kotler is a world renowned Professor of Marketing at Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management.