Insights Daily Current Affairs, 17 October 2017
Topic: poverty and developmental issues.
Universal social security plan
In an attempt to improve the life of the extremely poor people of India, the government has drafted a Rs 1.2 lakh crore plan to provide universal social security coverage for the poorest people of the country.
About the scheme:
This broader programme envisages three categories — the poorest 20%, who will get a government payout; those who subscribe on their own and formal sector workers who will need to set aside a fixed proportion of income toward the scheme.
The scheme will have two tiers. The first of these comprises mandatory pension, insurance (both death and disability) and maternity coverage and the second, optional medical, sickness and unemployment coverage.
Funds collected under the universal social security scheme will be divided into sub-schemes and be ringfenced, meaning the benefits and the contribution will be commensurate.
Need for the scheme:
India’s total workforce currently stands at 450 million. Though the statistics make it sound that a large fraction of the Indian population is employed, it is rather saddening that only a little over 10% are in the organised sector and get to enjoy the basic social security.
In fact, among the 10 million people who add on to the workforce every year, most of them don’t receive the minimum wage and lack any kind of social security coverage, the reason being that most them belong to the unorganised sector.
While funding the scheme will be a challenge for the government, which has pledged to stick to the deficit target, it is seen as one that will gain broad popular support. The new policy will be part of the social security code, one of four codes that the labour ministry is finalising and will subsume 17 existing items of legislation governing social security coverage in the country.
Topic: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
47.5 lakh domestic workers set to get legal status and minimum wages
Ministry of labour and employment is considering to formulate a national policy for domestic workers under which part-time, full-time and live-in workers, employers, private placement agencies will be clearly defined.
- With this, the ministry is set to give legal status to domestic workers in the country by formulating a national policy that will ensure minimum wages and equal remuneration for around 47.5 lakh domestic workers in India including 30 lakh women.
The policy aims to promote right to fair terms of employment relating to minimum wages, protection from abuse/harassment and violence, access to social security benefits such as health insurance, maternity benefits and old age pensions as provided by existing and upcoming schemes of central and state government, which may include contribution from employer/workers.
An institutional mechanism will be set up to provide for social security cover, fair terms of employment, grievance redressal and dispute resolution for domestic workers. Besides, the policy will seek to regulate recruitment and placement agencies to avoid any harassment.
Placement agencies charge a certain proportion of domestic workers’ salary every month, over and above one-time fees they charge from the employer for providing such help. The new policy, though, is likely to make it mandatory for placement agencies to charge a one-time 15-day salary from domestic workers and in turn provide them with social security cover, including medical and health insurance.
Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
NIIF gets first investor, Abu Dhabi fund brings in $1 bn
The National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) of India has signed an investment agreement worth $1 billion with a wholly owned unit of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA).
- As part of the partnership agreement, ADIA will become the first institutional investor in NIIF’s Master Fund and a shareholder in National Investment and Infrastructure Ltd, NIIF’s investment management company.
- This agreement marks the culmination of an extensive process of collaboration with ADIA to develop an investment structure that is attractive to international investors, while remaining closely aligned with NIIF’s objectives.
NIIF was set up in 2015 as an investment vehicle for funding commercially viable greenfield, brownfield and stalled projects in the infrastructure sector.
- NIIF will invest in areas such as energy, transportation, housing, water, waste management and other infrastructure-related sectors in India.
- The corpus of the fund is proposed to be around Rs40,000 crore, with the government investing 49% and the rest to be raised from third-party investors such as sovereign wealth funds, insurance and pension funds, endowments etc.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.
World Food Day
World Food Day is celebrated on October 16 every year to raise awareness on the issues of poverty and hunger. World Food Day was established by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in November 1979 and since then the day is celebrated worldwide by many organisations that are concerned with food security.
Theme: “Change the future of migration. Invest in food security.”
Significance of this event:
- World Food Day is a chance to show our commitment to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 – to achieve Zero Hunger by 2030.
- It’s also a day for us to celebrate the progress we have already made towards reaching #ZeroHunger.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is a specialised agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger. Serving both developed and developing countries, FAO acts as a neutral forum where all nations meet as equals to negotiate agreements and debate policy.
FAO is also a source of knowledge and information, and helps developing countries in transition modernize and improve agriculture, forestry and fisheries practices, ensuring good nutrition and food security for all.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country, different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers.
Boosting horticulture through remote sensing
Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh has announced March 2018 as the deadline to complete the ambitious project of developing the horticulture sector using remote sensing technology and geo-informatics.
In a bid to develop India’s horticulture sector and help states identify suitable areas and crop types, the agriculture ministry is already working on a project which uses satellites and remote sensing technology. The project is known as CHAMAN.
CHAMAN, or Coordinated Horticulture Assessment and Management using geoinformatics, is being implemented by the Delhi-based Mahalanobis National Crop Forecast Centre and is likely to be completed by March.
- Under the project, the ministry will use remote sensing and geoinformatics data to integrate information on weather, soil, land-use, and crop mapping to prepare horticulture development plans. The idea is to use space technology to identify crops suitable to different areas and raise production of horticulture crops.
- The project will help states develop horticulture clusters and related infrastructure like cold chains. It project will also help in accurate forecasting of area and production of seven major crops in about 185 districts across India. These crops are banana, mango, citrus, potato, onion, tomato and chilli.
Need for special focus:
Driven by consumer demand, farmers across India have rapidly adopted horticulture crops which ensure a quicker cash flow and can be grown in very small plots. In 2016-17, production of horticulture crops like fruits, vegetables and spices touched a record high of 300 million tonnes, outstripping production of foodgrains for the fifth year in a row. Currently, India is the second largest producer of fruits and vegetables in the world, and a top producer of crops like banana, mango and lemons.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: indigenization of technology and developing new technology.
INS Kiltan (P30), third Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) stealth corvettes built under Project 28 (Kamorta Class) was recently commissioned into the Indian Navy.
- The ship gets her name from old INS Kiltan (P79), a Petya class ASW ship that served the nation for 18 years before being decommissioned in June 1987. It is named after the coral island belonging to the Lakshadweep group of islands.
- Regarded as a very prestigious acquisition, INS Kiltan is one of the most potent warships to have been constructed in India.
- More than 80 % of the ship is indigenous with state of the art equipment & systems to fight in Nuclear, Biological and Chemical (NBC) warfare conditions. INS Kiltan is the first major warship with superstructure entirely of composite material.
- The sleek and magnificent ship is propelled by ‘Combination of Diesel and Diesel (CODAD)’ propulsion system of four diesel engines to achieve speeds in excess of 25 knots and has an endurance of around 3,500 Nautical Miles.
- The ship has enhanced stealth features resulting in a reduced Radar Cross Section (RCS) achieved by X-form of hull and superstructure along with optimally sloped surfaces.
- The very low under water acoustic signature makes it a ‘silent killer on the prowl’. The ship’s advanced stealth features make her less susceptible to detection by the enemy and help in effective employment of soft kill measure like the Chaff.
Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
Graded plan to combat air pollution
The Graded Response Action Plan, Delhi-NCR’s answer to combat air pollution that assumes apocalyptic proportions during this time of the year, will come into force for the first time from October 17th.
How it will be implemented?
The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) will monitor air quality from various stations located across Delhi-NCR. Daily reports will be sent to the Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA), the implementing authority of the plan, which will take a decision on the future course of action.
- If data of any station shows a sudden spike in pollution level, a team will rush to the spot and try to analyse the reason. Accordingly, action would be taken and instructions issued.
- The CPCB has directed all state pollution control boards of NCR states to form teams that will fan out and flag violations. The CPCB has formed around 40 teams that are visiting various parts of Delhi alone.
- The chief secretaries of NCR states have been designated as nodal officers. We will direct them to take immediate action if any particular area shows a spike in air pollution.
As per a Supreme Court order, the Graded Response Action Plan for the NCR involves stringent measures against burning of waste, industrial pollution and transport sector emissions. Notified by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest in January.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Security challenges and their management in border areas; linkages of organized crime with terrorism.
‘Free movement’ along Myanmar border
The Centre is putting in measures to facilitate free movement of Indian and Myanmarese citizens within 16 km along the Myanmar border. In this regard, the Home Ministry recently held consultations with four States — Mizoram, Nagaland, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh — on the Free Movement Regime (FMR).
- The move comes in the wake of large-scale displacement of Rohingya people from Rakhine State in Myanmar.
In June, the Ministry had constituted a committee to examine various methods to curb the misuse of free movement along the Myanmar border, a friendly country, with which it shares unfenced borders and unhindered movement of people across the border.
Free movement regime:
India has a 1,643-km border with Myanmar and it is unique in many ways as it has a visa-free movement regime for people living within 16 km on either side of the border. “Free movement regime” is a bilateral agreement with Myanmar that allows free movement of Indian and Myanmarese citizens within 16 km of the border
- They can stay up to 72 hours with effective and valid permits issued by the designated authorities on either side. This regime has been in place keeping in view the traditional social relations among the border people. It helps genuine people living in close proximity of the border.
- This regime has been in place keeping in view the traditional social relations among the border people. It helps genuine people living in close proximity of the border. However, it is misused by militants and criminals who smuggle weapons, narcotics, contraband goods and Fake Indian Currency Notes (FICN).
Sources: the hindu.