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Insights Daily Current Events, 27 April 2016

Insights Daily Current Events, 27 April 2016


Paper 2 Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.

Panel suggests fine or jail for celebs in misleading ads

In its report on the Consumer Protection Bill 2015, a parliamentary panel has suggested legal teeth to make celebrities accountable for misleading advertisements.

  • The panel has suggested legal teeth to the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) to curb misleading ads, besides proposing severe penalties, jail and cancellation of licence of those involved in food adulteration.

Details:

  • According to the committee, the existing laws are not deterrent enough to discourage manufacturers or publishers from using such personalities for misleading ads. Therefore, it recommends that stringent provisions may be made in the bill to tackle misleading advertisement, as well as, to fix liability on endorsers/celebrities.
  • The committee recommends that for first time offence, the offender may be penalised with either a fine of Rs 10 lakh or imprisonment up to two years or both. For second time offence, a fine of Rs 50 lakh and imprisonment of five years. For subsequent offences, the penalties may be increased proportionately based on the value of sales volumes of such products or services.
  • The panel also suggested the government to clearly and comprehensively define the word ‘endorsement’ in the bill so that there is no room for any misinterpretation or ambiguity.

Background:

Some celebrities have come under fire for endorsing brands misleading consumers. Recently, Indian cricket captain M S Dhoni had to resign as brand ambassador of Amrapali after residents of a housing society started a protest against the builder and the cricketer on social media.

About Consumer Protection Bill 2015:

Consumer Protection Bill 2015 seeks to replace the old consumer protection law and proposes to set up a regulatory authority which will have powers to recall products and initiate class class suit against defaulting companies, including e-tailers.

  • The key features of the new bill include establishment of an executive agency ‘Central Consumer Protection Authority‘ (CCPA) which will protect and enforce the rights of consumers.
  • The authority will intervene when necessary to prevent consumer detriment arising from unfair trade practices and to initiate class action including enforcing recall, refund and return of products.
  • The bill has provisions for “product liability” if product/services causes personal injury, death or property damage and will take action against defaulting manufacturers or service providers.
  • For speedy disposal of court cases, the bill proposes “mediation” as an alternative dispute resolution mechanism. The mediation will be under the aegis of consumer courts.
  • The bill also has a provision for setting up of a ‘circuit bench’ to facilitate quicker disposal of complaints and there is an enabling provisions for consumers to file complaints electronically and file complaints in consumer courts that have jurisdiction over the place of residence of the complainant.

Sources: bs.


Paper 3 Topic: Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.

PMO asks NITI Aayog to widen ambit of DBT

The government is considering expanding the ambit of Direct Benefits Transfer (DBT). The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has asked the NITI Aayog to explore all government services and delivery schemes for this purpose.

  • The idea is to try and provide all subsidies through an Aadhaar (the citizen identification scheme)-enabled DBT by 2017-end.

Present scenario:

DBT, at present, encompasses various government schemes including directly crediting Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme payments to bank accounts. At present, about 30% of DBT is through Aadhaar; about Rs 4,000 crore is paid monthly for 57 such schemes.

  • The government has met success in using the mechanism for transfers in cooking gas (liquefied petroleum gas, or LPG) and foodgrain. DBT in LPG has enabled the Centre to eliminate duplication in these accounts.
  • For beneficiaries of the Public Distribution System in foodgrain, there’s an option of getting the allotment directly or being paid cash directly into their accounts, especially the new accounts under the Jan-Dhan Yojana.
  • Some new transfers, such as those for kerosene, are also planned to be through DBT, this financial year.

Sources: bs.


Paper 2 Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.

FSSAI expansion plans shelved by government

The plan to expand the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is proposed to be shelved by the government.

  • In contrast, the FSSAI is expected to wind up its regional offices and leave enforcement of safety laws to state governments.
  • With the Rs 800 crore support to states under the central scheme being shelved, it has also been recommended to amend existing regulations, allowing state officials to monitor food safety as an additional duty and not necessarily on a full-time basis.
  • Also, instead of setting up government labs to test food samples, as was previously planned, FSSAI is expected to depend on private labs.

Background:

In 2014, the government had mooted a draft cabinet note for a Rs 1,750 crore-central scheme for strengthening of FSSAI, e-governance, food safety surveillance and expansion of states’ capacity.

About FSSAI:

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has been established under Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 which consolidates various acts & orders that have hitherto handled food related issues in various Ministries and Departments.

  • It was created for laying down science based standards for articles of food and to regulate their manufacture, storage, distribution, sale and import to ensure availability of safe and wholesome food for human consumption.
  • Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India is the Administrative Ministry for the implementation of FSSAI.
  • The Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer of Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) are appointed by Government of India.
  • The Chairperson is in the rank of Secretary to Government of India.

Important functions performed by the authority:

  • Framing of Regulations to lay down the Standards and guidelines in relation to articles of food and specifying appropriate system of enforcing various standards thus notified.
  • Laying down mechanisms and guidelines for accreditation of certification bodies engaged in certification of food safety management system for food businesses.
  • Laying down procedure and guidelines for accreditation of laboratories and notification of the accredited laboratories.
  • To provide scientific advice and technical support to Central Government and State Governments in the matters of framing the policy and rules in areas which have a direct or indirect bearing of food safety and nutrition.
  • Collect and collate data regarding food consumption, incidence and prevalence of biological risk, contaminants in food, residues of various, contaminants in foods products, identification of emerging risks and introduction of rapid alert system.
  • Creating an information network across the country so that the public, consumers, Panchayats etc receive rapid, reliable and objective information about food safety and issues of concern.
  • Provide training programmes for persons who are involved or intend to get involved in food businesses.

Sources: bs.


Paper 2 Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.

Shyam Benegal committee submits recommendations on film certification

A committee chaired by eminent filmmaker Shyam Benegal has submitted its recommendations to the government.

Background:

The committee had been set up by the Ministry on January 1 this year to lay down norms for film certification that took note of best practices in various parts of the world and gave sufficient and adequate space for artistic and creative expression.

  • The committee was also asked to lay down procedures and guidelines for the benefit of the CBFC to follow and examine staffing patterns with a view to recommending a framework that would provide efficient and transparent user friendly services.

Important recommendations made by the committee:

  • The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) should only be a film certification body whose scope should be restricted to categorizing the suitability of the film to audience groups on the basis of age and maturity.
  • The CBFC should refuse certification only when a film contains anything that contravenes the provisions of Section 5B (1) of the Cinematograph Act, 1952 or when its content crosses the ceiling laid down in the highest category of certification.
  • The categorisation of films should be more specific and apart from U category, the UA Category can be broken up into further sub-categories – UA12+ and UA15+. The A category should also be sub-divided into A and AC (Adult with Caution) categories.

The recommendations broadly cover the areas related to Film Certification Process and its simplification, Restructuring staffing pattern of Central & Regional censor advisory panels and Recertification of films for purposes of telecast on television and measures to preserve the identity of Indian Cinema.

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 2 Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Heart of Asia conference begins today in New Delhi

The Heart of Asia (HoA) conference has begun in New Delhi with the objective of bringing peace and stability to Afghanistan and speeding up its reconstruction with a focus on enhancing investment and connectivity to the country.

  • The conference will be attended by officials of a number of countries including Pakistan.
  • The key elements of HoA process have been to devise a sustained, incremental approach to implementation of the confidence building measures (CBM) in Afghanistan and the officials are set to deliberate on them during the conference.

About the conference:

The Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process presents a new vision of cooperation and confidence building for the region with Afghanistan at its centre.

  • The Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process articulates a set of principles, such as respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, and promoting cooperation in the areas of common challenges and shared interests in the region.
  • It provides a platform for discussing key regional issues among participating states.
  • Since its inception in 2011, the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process has been lead by two co-chairs: Afghanistan as a permanent co-chair, and one of the Heart of Asia countries hosting the annual ministerial meeting as the co-chair.
  • As permanent co-chair of this regional process, Afghanistan has been recognized as the main focal point/ coordinator of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process.

The 14 participating countries in HoA process are Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, China, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and UAE. The supporting countries include Australia, Canada, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Iraq, Japan, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, U.K., U.S. and the E.U.

Sources: the hindu.


Facts for Prelims:

Scientists have confirmed the presence of Himalayan wolf — the most ancient wolf lineage known — in Nepal’s largest protected area- the Annapurna Conservation Area. It has been listed as Critically Endangered in the National Red List.