Insights Daily Current Affairs, 01 March 2018
Topic: Role of women and women’s organization.
Trafficking of Persons Bill, 2018
Context: The Union Cabinet has approved the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018 for introduction in the Parliament.
Highlights of the Bill:
Forms of trafficking: The Bill identifies various forms of trafficking, including for the purposes of bonded labour and begging. Listing out the ‘aggravated forms of trafficking’, the bill also speaks of offences such as intimidation, inducement, promise of payment of money, deception or coercion. It mentions trafficking after administering any drug or alcohol or for the purpose of marriage or under the pretext of marriage.
Punishment: Whoever commits the offence of aggravated form of trafficking of a person shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than 10 years, but which may extend to life imprisonment and shall be liable to fine that shall not be less than Rs 1 lakh. For repeat offenders, it suggests imprisonment for life “which shall mean imprisonment for the remainder of that person’s natural life”, apart from a fine that will not be less than Rs 2 lakh.
Anti- trafficking bureau: The bill proposes the establishment of a national anti-trafficking bureau, which shall be entrusted with the gamut of issues aimed at controlling and tackling the menace under various forms. Functions include coordination, monitoring and surveillance of illegal movement of persons and prevention. The bureau will also be entrusted with increasing cooperation with authorities in foreign countries for boosting operational and long-term intelligence for investigation of trafficking cases, and driving in mutual legal assistance.
State level measures: The bill also aims at having state-level anti-trafficking officers who shall also provide relief and rehabilitation services through district units and other civil-society organisations.
Relief and rehabilitation: The bill also spells out measures towards relief and rehabilitation for the victims of trafficking, and seeks the formation of a committee for this purpose. The committee is proposed to be headed by the women & child development secretary and would have members from the ministries of home; external affairs; labour and employment; social justice and empowerment; panchayati raj; and heath and family welfare.
As per data released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), human trafficking numbers rose by almost 20% in 2016 against the previous year. NCRB said there were 8,132 human trafficking cases last year against 6,877 in 2015, with the highest number of cases reported in West Bengal (44% of cases), followed by Rajasthan (17%). Of the 15,379 victims who were caught in trafficking, 10,150 were female and 5,229 males.
Currently, there is no single law dealing with human trafficking and the crime is covered under different acts administered by at least half-a-dozen ministries, including WCD, home, labour, health, Indian overseas affairs and external affairs. More often than not, this results in lax enforcement.
Significance of the Bill:
Trafficking in human beings is the third largest organized crime violating basic human rights. However, there is no specific law so far to deal with this crime. The new Bill addresses one of the most pervasive yet invisible crimes affecting the most vulnerable persons especially women and children. The new law will make India a leader among South Asian countries to combat trafficking. Trafficking is a global concern also affecting a number of South Asian nations.
- For Prelims: Highlights of Anti- trafficking bill.
- For Mains: Anti- trafficking- issues, challenges and prevention.
Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
Income Tax Appellate Tribunal
Context: A recent decision of the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal’s Pune bench allowing pharmaceutical companies to account for their spending on doctors as a deductible expenditure has sparked off a fresh debate on ethics.
What’s the concern now?
Since the companies are out of the purview of the Medical Council of India (MCI), money spent on promotions, which in some cases could be gifts, travel, hospitality and so on for doctors, besides medical conferences and samples, can be claimed as deductible expenditure. Doctors accepting such promotions may be violating the code of ethics of the MCI.
ITAT is a quasi judicial institution set up in January, 1941 and specializes in dealing with appeals under the Direct Taxes Acts.
- It was set up by virtue of section 5A of the Income Tax Act, 1922.
- The orders passed by the ITAT are final, an appeal lies to the High Court only if a substantial question of law arises for determination.
- It functions under the Department of Legal Affairs in the Ministry of Law and Justice.
How can ITAT’s performance be enhanced?
- Commonly suggested remedies include increasing the number of judges or the number of benches to deal with increased caseload.
- Additionally, solutions to delays in ITAT lie in prioritizing and scheduling the workload properly. Although ITAT is a specialized court, there are variations in the complexity and urgency of the cases that come before it. Therefore, it may be useful to frame rules on how different types of cases would be prioritized.
- Qualitative aspects of rulings, factors influencing them and most frequently litigated subject-matters will also be useful in deciding the policy strategy for improving India’s tax environment.
Indian tax administration and adjudication needs urgent reforms. For this, a comprehensive performance analysis of ITAI is necessary. Also, more studies should be conducted to identify the exact institutional weaknesses in tax administration, improving which could help improve India’s abysmally low ranking on the “Paying Taxes” parameter in the Ease of Doing Business Index, and ensuring that citizens have access to an independent and impartial appeals mechanism.
- For Prelims: ITAI- functions and composition.
- For Mains: Need for reforms.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
Rare Disease Day
Context: 28 February 2018 was the eleventh international Rare Disease Day coordinated by EURORDIS.
Theme: In 2018 the theme is Research. Research is key. It brings hope to the millions of people living with a rare disease across the world and their families.
What is Rare Disease Day?
Rare Disease Day takes place on the last day of February each year. The main objective of Rare Disease Day is to raise awareness amongst the general public and decision-makers about rare diseases and their impact on patients’ lives.
The campaign targets primarily the general public and also seeks to raise awareness amongst policy makers, public authorities, industry representatives, researchers, health professionals and anyone who has a genuine interest in rare diseases.
What is a rare disease?
A rare disease, also referred to as an orphan disease, is any disease that affects a small percentage of the population.
Most rare diseases are genetic, and are present throughout a person’s entire life, even if symptoms do not immediately appear. In Europe a disease or disorder is defined as rare when it affects less than 1 in 2000 citizens.
Rare diseases are characterised by a wide diversity of symptoms and signs that vary not only from disease to disease but also from patient to patient suffering from the same disease. Relatively common symptoms can hide underlying rare diseases, leading to misdiagnosis.
Need for awareness:
Building awareness of rare diseases is so important because 1 in 20 people will live with a rare disease at some point in their life. Despite this, there is no cure for the majority of rare diseases and many go undiagnosed. Rare Disease Day improves knowledge amongst the general public of rare diseases while encouraging researchers and decision makers to address the needs of those living with rare diseases.
- For Prelims: What are rare diseases?
- For Mains: Need for awareness, international cooperation in this regard.
Context: The government has approved the continuation of Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP) beyond the 12th Plan period for three years to 2019-20 with a total outlay of Rs 5,500 crore. The scheme will create sustainable estimated employment opportunities for 15 lakh persons in three financial years.
What is it? PMEGP is a major credit-linked subsidy programme being implemented by the Ministry of MSME since 2008-09. The Scheme is aimed at generating self-employment opportunities through establishment of micro-enterprises in the non-farm sector by helping traditional artisans and unemployed youth in rural as well as urban areas.
Implementation: The Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) is the nodal implementation agency for the PMEGP at the national level. At the state/district level, state offices of KVIC, Khadi and Village Industries Boards (KVIBs) and District Industry Centres (DIC) are the implementing agencies.
Targets: The scheme’s targets are fixed taking into account the extent of backwardness of state; extent of unemployment; extent of fulfilment of previous year targets; population of state/union territory; and availability of traditional skills and raw material.
- For Prelims: PMEGP, KVIC.
- For Mains: Employment generation- challenges and solutions.
Sources: the hindu.
Action Plan for Champion Sectors in Services
Context: The Union Cabinet has approved the proposal of the Department of Commerce to give focused attention to 12 identified Champion Services Sectors for promoting their development, and realizing their potential. The Cabinet has also directed the Ministries/Departments concerned with these sectors to utilize the available draft sectoral plans to finalize and implement the Action Plans for the identified Champion Services Sectors.
A dedicated fund of Rs. 5000 crores has been proposed to be established to support initiatives for sectoral Action Plans of the Champion Sectors.
Champion service sectors:
Champion service sectors include Information Technology & Information Technology enabled Services (IT & ITeS), Tourism and Hospitality Services, Medical Value Travel, Transport and Logistics Services, Accounting and Finance Services, Audio Visual Services, Legal Services, Communication Services, Construction and Related Engineering Services, Environmental Services, Financial Services and Education Services.
This initiative will enhance the competitiveness of India’s service sectors through the implementation of focused and monitored Action Plans, thereby promoting GDP growth, creating more jobs and promoting exports to global markets.
Employment Generation Potential:
Services sector in India has immense employment potential. The proposal will enhance the competitiveness of India’s service sectors through the implementation of focused and monitored Action Plans, thereby creating more jobs in India, contributing to a higher GDP and exports of services to global markets.
As the Services sector contributes significantly to India’s GDP, exports and job creation, increased productivity and competitiveness of the Champion Services Sectors will further boost exports of various services from India. Embedded services are substantial part of ‘Goods’ as well. Thus, competitive services sector will add to the competitiveness of the manufacturing sector as well.
- For Prelims: Champion service sectors.
- For Mains: Champion service sectors- impact, benefits and challenges.
Topic: Food security.
1st Mega Food Park in Maharashtra at Satara
Context: The first Mega Food Park in the state of Maharashtra M/s Satara Mega Food Park Pvt. Ltd. has been inaugurated at Village Degaon, District Satara. This is the 10th Mega Food Park being operationalized in the country and the 8th operationalized during the tenure of present government.
Facts for Prelims: India’s first mega food park ‘Srini Mega Food Park’, sprawling 147-acre space, was opened in Chittoor in Andhra Pradesh in 2012.
About Mega Food Park Scheme:
To give a major boost to the food processing sector by adding value and reducing food wastage at each stage of the supply chain with particular focus on perishables, Ministry of Food Processing Industries is implementing Mega Food Park Scheme in the country.
- Mega Food Parks create modern infrastructure facilities for food processing along the value chain from farm to market with strong forward and backward linkages through a cluster based approach.
- Common facilities and enabling infrastructure is created at Central Processing Centre and facilities for primary processing and storage is created near the farm in the form of Primary Processing Centers (PPCs) and Collection Centers (CCs).
- The Mega Food Park project is implemented by a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) which is a Body Corporate registered under the Companies Act. However, State Government, State Government entities and Cooperatives are not required to form a separate SPV for implementation of Mega Food Park project.
- Under the Scheme, Government of India provides financial assistance upto Rs. 50.00 Crore per Mega Food Park project.
Benefits of the scheme:
The expected outcome is creation of high quality processing infrastructure, reduction in wastage, capacity building of producers and processors and creation of an efficient supply chain along with significant direct and indirect employment generation.
Challenges in the implementation:
Despite its huge potential, MFPS has failed to gain momentum due to several reasons. One, promoters have faced difficulties in selling the new concept to banks and, as a result, have failed to secure loans to build the parks. Two, acquiring the 50 acres of land, which is mandatory under MFPS, has been another challenge that most developers have failed to address. Three, convincing small enterprises to set up shop at these facilities has not been easy. And four, the overall economic slowdown, globally, and in India, did not help either.
Facts for Prelims:
What is it? It is a National Sizing Survey to develop a comprehensive size chart for ready-to-wear industry based on the body measurements of the Indian population. It is a scientific exercise where anthropometric data will be collected from a sample population in the age group 15 to 65 years to create a database of measurements that will result in a standardized size chart which is representative of the Indian population and can be adopted by the apparel industry.
How? The surveys entail measuring statistically relevant sample size pan country using human safe technology of 3D whole body scanner, a non-contact method of taking body measurements and analyzing the collected data to create size charts.
Need: A large percentage of shoppers face difficulty in finding clothes that fit perfectly according to their body measurements. The reason is differences in anthropometric built of people in different geographical regions across the country.
Who is conducting the survey? The survey will be conducted by the National Institute of Fashion Technology(NIFT), New Delhi, under the Ministry of Textiles, Govt of India.
Facts: Till date 14 countries have successfully completed national sizing surveys including USA, Canada, Mexico, UK, France, Spain, Germany, Korea, China and Australia.
Dr Harsh Vardhan App:
Context: Dr Harsh Vardhan App has been launched. It is named after the Union Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan.
Details: The App is intended, among other things, to promote the theme of ‘green good deeds’ and engage with the public at large.
“Green Good Deeds” campaign: The campaign has been launched by the Environment Ministry to sensitise the people and students, in particular, about climate change and global warming. The objective of the campaign is to restore and return the clean and green environment to the next generation.
Anti Tank Guided Missiles (ATGM) NAG:
Context: Successful Flight Test of ATGM NAG was recently carried out.
- The third-generation Fire and Forget ATGM Nag is equipped with many advanced technologies including IIR Seeker with integrated avionics, a capability possessed by few nations in the world.
- The missile is developed to support both mechanised infantry and airborne forces of the Indian Army.
- The missile incorporates an advanced passive homing guidance system and possesses high single-shot kill probability.
- It is designed to destroy modern main battle tanks and other heavily armoured targets.
What is it? It is the joint military exercise between the Indian Army and Seychelles People’s Defence Forces. This exercise is the eighth in the series of bilateral exercises being conducted in the beautiful island nation.
About Lamitye: The exercise is named “Lamitye” which in the local dialect ‘Creole’, means friendship. India and Seychelles have been conducting this joint exercise since 2001 with the aim of enhancing military cooperation and interoperability between the armies of the two countries.