Insights Daily Current Affairs, 08 December 2017
GS Paper 1:
Topic: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.
The Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage under UNESCO has inscribed ´KumbhMela´ on the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity during its 12th session being held at Jeju, South Korea.
This inscription is the third in two years following the inscriptions of ´Yoga´ and ´Nouroz´ in December.
About Kumbh Mela:
Kumbh Mela is the largest peaceful congregation of pilgrims on earth. The festival, held in Allahabad, Haridwar, Ujjain and Nasik, represents a syncretic set of rituals related to worship and ritual cleansing in holy rivers in India. As a religious festival, the tolerance and inclusiveness that Kumbh Mela demonstrates are especially valuable for the contemporary world.
What is intangible cultural heritage?
The UNESCO Convention for Safeguarding the Intangible Cultural Heritage, adopted in 2003, defines intangible cultural heritage as the practices, representations, expressions as well as knowledge and skills that communities, groups and, in some cases, individuals recognise as part of their cultural heritage.
Sources: the hindu.
GS Paper 2:
Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance Bill 2017
The Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance Bill, 2017 (FRDI Bill), was introduced in the Lok Sabha on August 11, 2017. The bill is presently under consideration of the Joint Committee of Parliament. The Joint Committee is consulting all the stakeholders on the provisions of the FRDI Bill. The committee is now set to invite the RBI governor Urjit Patel to brief the members. It is noteworthy that the bill was opposed by the bank unions who have also requested the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to withdraw this legislation.
About the FRDI Bill:
The Bill would provide for a comprehensive resolution framework for specified financial sector entities to deal with bankruptcy situation in banks, insurance companies and financial sector entities.
- The Bill when enacted, will pave the way for setting up of the Resolution Corporation. It will also result in the repealing of the Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation Act, 1961 to transfer the deposit insurance powers and responsibilities to the Resolution Corporation.
- The Resolution Corporation would protect the stability and resilience of the financial system; protecting the consumers of covered obligations up to a reasonable limit; and protecting public funds, to the extent possible.
- It would lead to repeal or amendment of resolution-related provisions in sectoral Acts as listed in Schedules of the Bill. The proposed Bill complements the Code by providing a resolution framework for the financial sector.
Merits of Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance Bill, 2017:
- The Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance Bill, 2017 seeks to give comfort to the consumers of financial service providers in financial distress. It also aims to inculcate discipline among financial service providers in the event of financial crises by limiting the use of public money to bail out distressed entities.
- It would help in maintaining financial stability in the economy by ensuring adequate preventive measures, while at the same time providing the necessary instruments for dealing with an event of crisis.
- The Bill aims to strengthen and streamline the current framework of deposit insurance for the benefit of a large number of retail depositors.
- The Bill seeks to decrease the time and costs involved in resolving distressed financial entities.
Sources: the hindu.
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.
Universal social security payments
Labour ministry’s proposal for universal social security payments is facing resistance from other government sections because such a programme would raise overall wage costs.
What’s the concern?
Central ministries and the states have increasingly been hiring contract workers to save on costs as minimum wages are not mandatory in such cases. However, a social security programme would require the employers of contract workers to help pay for it.
India’s total workforce stands at 450 million, out of which a little over 10% is in the organised sector, enjoying social security of some sort.
Contract workers in the country:
The government appoints contract workers in three categories. First, for work of a routine nature such as housekeeping, maintenance and data entry that’s bundled and entrusted to staffing agencies. Second, contractual appointments for select posts, particularly those that need high professional skills. The third category comprises retired government employees whose skills and expertise acquired during their tenure in government are found useful.
According to Seventh Pay Commission data, the union government is one of the biggest users of temporary staff or contract employees, including scheme workers, and spends around Rs 300 crore a year on their wages. The scheme workers refer to the six million who are employed in flagship social sector programmes.
‘Draft code on Social Security and Welfare’:
The Centre, in March 2017, proposed a labour code on social security which will provide social security cover to the entire workforce in the country, including self-employed and agricultural workers.
- According to the code, even households employing domestic help will also have contribute towards schemes including provident fund and gratuity for the worker. Factories employing even a single worker will have to contribute towards social security benefits, as per the proposal.
- Every working person in the country will be covered under the social security code whether she belongs to the organised sector or the unorganised sector. For the first time, cover to agricultural workers is being provided along with self-employed people. The target is to provide social security benefits to 45 crore workers.
- The proposed code seeks to cover “any factory, any mine, any plantation, any shop, charitable organisations” and all establishments or households employing casual, part-time, fixed-term, informal, apprentice, domestic and home-based workers. All such establishments or factories will be liable to pay compensation if they fail to contribute towards the social security schemes of the workers.
- The total contribution to be made by employers towards Employees’ Provident Fund and Employees’ State Insurance Scheme is proposed to be capped at 30% of the workers’ income. At present, employers contribute 31.5% of the workers’ income towards these schemes.
- According to the proposed code, self-employed workers will contribute 20% of their monthly income towards provident fund, pension and other related schemes. Self-employed workers will also include “a person who takes land on share cropping or any other form of rent, and tills the same using his own or family members’ labour.”
- All the entities – whether factories or households – will have to register their workers through an Aadhaar-based registration system, according to another proposal, and self-employer workers will be required to register themselves.
- A National Social Security Council, chaired by the Prime Minister, has been proposed to streamline and make policy on social security schemes related to all the Ministries. Other members would include: Finance Minister, Labour Minister, Health and Family Welfare Minister along with employer and employees’ representatives.
Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
In a significant development, elite export control regime Wassenaar Arrangement (WA) has decided to admit India as its new member, which is expected to raise New Delhi’s stature in the field of non-proliferation besides helping it acquire critical technologies. The decision was taken at the recently held plenary meeting of the grouping in Vienna.
About Wassenaar arrangement:
The Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies, commonly known as the Wassenaar Arrangement, is a multilateral export control regime established to ensure regional and international security and stability promoting transparency in transfer of arms and dual-use goods and technologies.
What do the participating nations do? The participating nations make sure that the export of ammunition does not contribute to the development or enhancement of military capabilities undermining regional security. In order to achieve the aim of stable defence deals, the participatory nations apply export controls to all items listed in the List of Dual-Use Goods and Technologies and the Munitions List.
How will this membership help India?
- India’s entry into the export control regime would enhance its credentials in the field of non-proliferation despite not being a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
- The WA membership is also expected to build up a strong case for India’s entry into the 48-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
- Further, since India has low reserves of uranium required for its civil nuclear energy programmes, the country entry to the Export Control regimes will help secure the supply of nuclear fuel more easily.
GS Paper 3:
Topic: money laundering..
The Income-Tax Department is scrutinizing all unexplained credits and investments in personal as well as corporate income-tax filings and is looking to invoke the Benami Act in many cases. Unexplained credits, in the books of a company or bank accounts of individuals, have so far been treated as black money, attracting a higher tax of up to 80%.
About the Benami Act:
The Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act, 2016, designed to curb black money and passed by parliament in August, came into effect on November 1, 2016. The new law amends the 1988 Benami Transactions Act.
Highlights of the Act:
- The law provides for up to seven years’ imprisonment and fine for those indulging in such transactions.
- The law prohibits recovery of the property held benami from benamdar by the real owner. As per the Act, properties held benami are liable for confiscation by the government, without payment of compensation.
- An appellate mechanism has been provided under the act, in the form of an adjudicating authority and appellate tribunal. According to the government, the four authorities who will conduct inquiries or investigations are the Initiating Officer, Approving Authority, Administrator and Adjudicating Authority.
What is benami transaction?
A benami transaction is one where a property is held by one person and the amount for it is paid by another person. Therefore, in a benami transaction, the name of the person who paid the money is not mentioned. Directly or indirectly, the benami transaction is done to benefit the one who pays.
Topic: Security challenges and their management in border areas; linkages of organized crime with terrorism.
Border Protection Grid (BPG)
The Union Home Minister recently highlighted the importance of having Border Protection Grid (BPG) in the country. The concept was highlighted during the recently held meeting of the Chief Ministers of the Indo-Bangladesh Border (IBB) States, in Kolkata.
What is it?
Border Protection Grid (BPG) is a multi-pronged and foolproof mechanism to secure border. The grid will comprise of various elements namely physical barriers, non-physical barriers, surveillance system, Intelligence agencies, State Police, BSF and other State and Central agencies.
Supervision: BPG will be supervised by a State level Standing Committee under the Chairmanship of respective Chief Secretaries.
Need for BPG:
Border security is important to facilitate legitimate trade and commerce between the countries. India has friendly relations with Bangladesh and there is a need to facilitate genuine trade and legitimate cross-border movement of people while curbing radicalization, illegal migration, and smuggling of cattle, fake Indian currency notes and drugs etc. BPG will ensure greater help for the States in the overall border security.
Secure borders are also necessary to prevent entry of illegal migrants some of whom have links with extremist groups for furthering anti-national activities with ulterior motives and posing threat to internal security.
The Indo-Bangladesh Border covering 5 states of India including Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Tripura and West Bengal is 4096 km long. So far in 3006 km border security infrastructure of fence, roads, floodlights and border out posts (BOPs) are in place and works in the remaining 1090 km are yet to be started. Out of this, 684 km will be secured with fence and the related infrastructure, and the balance 406 km with the non-physical barriers. Although bulk of the infrastructure is in place or under construction, construction in some parts is yet to commence mainly due to land acquisition issues.
Facts for Prelims:
What is it?
It is the First International Conference on Sports Medicine and Sports Sciences. It is being held in New Delhi. Organized by Sports Authority of India, the 3-day conference is being attended by about 1000 national and international delegates.
It aims to promote scientific temperament in the country and inspire students, researchers and educationists alike to take up sports science and research to the next level.
Time person of the year 2017:
Time has chosen its 2017 Person of the Year: the Silence Breakers, the women and men who have come forward to shed light on sexual harassment and abuse in America. “The Silence Breakers” is the vanguard of a global movement by millions of women to share their stories of sexual harassment and abuse.