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Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 21 November 2019


Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 21 November 2019


Table of contents:

 

GS Paper 2:

  1. National Register of Citizens (NRC).
  2. Recycling of Ships Bill, 2019.
  3. Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial (Amendment) Bill, 2019.
  4. Labour Code on Industrial Relations 2019.
  5. New Code on Wages.
  6. Smart Safety Surveillance, or 3S, programme.

 

GS Paper 3:

  1. Patent Prosecution Highway programme.

 

Facts for prelims:

  1. Indian Performing Right Society (IPRS).
  2. Idris Elba.
  3. MK-45 naval guns.
  4. Sowa-Rigpa.

 


 

GS Paper 2:

 

Topics Covered:

  1. Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

 

National Register of Citizens (NRC)

 

What to study?

For Prelims: Particulars of NRC.

For Mains: Update of NRC- issues associated including ethical concerns.

 

Context: Union home minister Amit Shah has said that India shall soon introduce a nationwide National Register of Citizens (NRC).

 

How it would be carried out?

Details of how such an exercise will be carried out are not yet known.

In the case of Assam, there was a cut-off date — March 25, 1971 — after which all foreigners as per the Assam Accord were to be “detected, deleted and expelled in accordance with law”.

Presumably, the Centre will come out with a cut-off for the nationwide NRC, but it will be an arbitrary one.

 

Why this is worrisome?

Assam’s example: This is an exercise fraught with risks, as the example of Assam shows. The process in the state has been mired in inaccuracies, with low but worrying odds of legal citizens being declared illegal residents in their own country.

 

Need of the hour:

  1. Any such exercise demands a robust process that minimizes data infirmities.
  2. This would mean a complete rehaul of the methods used in Assam.
  3. Also, those who don’t make it to the list should get adequate legal recourse.

 

What is NRC?

The NRC is the list of Indian citizens and was prepared in 1951, following the census of 1951.

The process of NRC update was taken up in Assam as per a Supreme Court order in 2013.

In order to wean out cases of illegal migration from Bangladesh and other adjoining areas, NRC updation was carried out under The Citizenship Act, 1955, and according to rules framed in the Assam Accord.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


Topics Covered:

Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

 

Recycling of Ships Bill, 2019

 

What to study?

For Prelims: Overview of Recycling of Ships Bill and HKC- features and significance.

 

Context: The Union Cabinet has approved the proposal for enactment of Recycling of Ships Bill, 2019 and accession to the Hong Kong International Convention for Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, 2009.

 

Key features of the bill:

  1. It restricts and prohibits the use or installation of hazardous material, which applies irrespective of whether a ship is meant for recycling or not.
  2. For new ships, such restriction or prohibition on use of hazardous material will be immediate, that is, from the date the legislation comes into force, while existing ships shall have a period of five years for compliance.
  3. Restriction or prohibition on use of hazardous material would not be applied to warships and non-commercial ships operated by Government.
  4. Ships shall be surveyed and certified on the inventory of hazardous material used in ships.
  5. Under the Bill, ship recycling facilities are required to be authorized and ships shall be recycled only in such authorized ship recycling facilities.
  6. It also provides that ships shall be recycled in accordance with a ship-specific recycling plan.
  7. Ships to be recycled in India shall be required to obtain a Ready for Recycling Certificate in accordance with the HKC- Hong Kong International Convention for the safe and environmentally sound recycling of ships.

 

What is Hong Kong convention?

The Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, 2009 (the Hong Kong Convention), was adopted at a diplomatic conference held in Hong Kong, China in 2009.

  1. It was adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in 2009.
  2. The Convention is aimed at ensuring that ships, when being recycled after reaching the end of their operational lives, do not pose any unnecessary risks to human health, safety and to the environment.
  3. It also addresses concerns raised about the working and environmental conditions at many of the world’s ship recycling locations.
  4. The Convention is yet to come into force because it has not been ratified by 15 nations, representing 40 per cent of the world merchant shipping by gross tonnage (capacity) and a maximum annual ship recycling volume of not less than 3 per cent of the combined tonnage of the countries.

 

Implications:

  1. The Bill, when enacted by the Parliament, requires ship recycling facilities to obtain authorisation to operate and only authorised yards will be permitted to import ships for recycling.
  2. Ship-specific Ship Recycling Plans (SRPs) will need to be prepared for incoming vessels and incoming ships will need to obtain a “Ready for Recycling Certificate” in accordance with the HKC.
  3. When India accedes to the IMO’s treaty, after the approval by the Parliament, it will become the 14th contracting state to ratify the Convention.

 

Need for legislation:

India is the leader in the global ship recycling industry, with a share of over 30% of the market.

  • As per UNCTAD report on Review of Maritime Transport, 2018, India had demolished 6323 tonnes in 2017, of known ship scrapping across the world.
  • The ship-recycling industry is a labour-intensive sector, but it is susceptible to concerns on environmental safety. 

 

Sources: pib.

 


Topics Covered:

  1. Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

 

Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial (Amendment) Bill, 2019

 

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Key provisions in the Bill and its significance.

 

Context: Parliament has passed the Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial (Amendment) Bill, 2019.

The Bill seeks to amend Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial Act, 1951 to change provisions related to composition of Trustees of memorial and termination of trustee.

 

Background:

Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial Act, 1951 provided for the erection of a National Memorial in memory of those killed or wounded on April 13, 1919, in Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar.

The 1951 Act also provided for a Trust to manage the National Memorial.

Composition: The Trust as per the 1951 Act included the Prime Minister, as Chairperson, (ii) the President of the Indian National Congress, (iii) the Minister in-charge of Culture, (iv) the Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, (v) the Governor of Punjab, (vi) the Chief Minister of Punjab, and (vii) three eminent persons nominated by the central government.

 

Changes:

  1. The 2019 amendment bill removes the President of the Indian National Congress as a Trustee.
  2. It clarifies that when there is no Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, the leader of the single largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha will be the Trustee.
  3. The 1951 act provided that the three eminent persons nominated by the central government will have a term of five years and will be eligible for re-nomination. The 2019 bill added a clause to allow the central government to terminate the term of a nominated trustee before the expiry of his term without assigning any reason.

 

Sources: pib.


Topics Covered:

  1. Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

 

Labour Code on Industrial Relations 2019

 

What to study?

For Prelims: The labour code- key features.

For Mains: Need for and significance of the code.

 

Context: The Union cabinet has approved the Labour Code on Industrial Relations 2019.

The code will combine Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, the Trade Unions Act, 1926, and the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946.

 

Key features of the bill:

  1. It seeks to allow companies to hire workers on fixed-term contract of any duration.
  2. The code has retained the threshold on the worker count at 100 for prior government approval before retrenchment, but it has a provision for changing ‘such number of employees’ through notification.
  3. It also provides setting up of a two-member tribunal (in place of one member) wherein important cases will be adjudicated jointly and the rest by a single member, resulting speedier disposal of cases.
  4. It has vested powers with the government officers for adjudication of disputes involving penalty as fines.

 

Implications:

While this means workers can be hired seasonally for six months or a year it also means that all workers will be treated at par with regular workers for benefits.

 

Background:

The industrial relations code is the third out of four labour codes that have got approval from the cabinet. The Labour Code on Wages has already been approved by Parliament in August while the Labour Code on Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions has been referred to the standing committee of labour. 

Sources: pib.

 


Topic covered:

  1. Schemes for the vulnerable sections of the society.

 

New Code on Wages

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: Key features of the new code, need, significance, need for uniform wage across the country.

 

Context: The Centre will soon notify the rules that will create the mechanisms to fix a floor wage that would then undergird the minimum wages for different categories of workers — unskilled, semi-skilled, skilled and highly skilled — that the States and Central government would have to set and enforce.

This is in accordance with the Code on Wages, 2019.

 

Overview of the new code:

The new code will amalgamate the Payment of Wages Act, 1936, the Minimum Wages Act, 1948, the Payment of Bonus Act, 1965, and the Equal Remuneration Act, 1976.

  1. Coverage: The Code will apply to all employees. The central government will make wage-related decisions for employments such as railways, mines, and oil fields, among others. State governments will make decisions for all other employments.
  2. Wages include salary, allowance, or any other component expressed in monetary terms. This does not include bonus payable to employees or any travelling allowance, among others.
  3. Floor wage:According to the Code, the central government will fix a floor wage, taking into account living standards of workers. Further, it may set different floor wages for different geographical areas.  Before fixing the floor wage, the central government may obtain the advice of the Central Advisory Board and may consult with state governments.   
  4. The minimum wages decided by the central or state governments must be higher than the floor wage. In case the existing minimum wages fixed by the central or state governments are higher than the floor wage, they cannot reduce the minimum wages.
  5. Payment of wages:Wages will be paid in (i) coins, (ii) currency notes, (iii) by cheque, (iv) by crediting to the bank account, or (v) through electronic mode.  The wage period will be fixed by the employer as either: (i) daily, (ii) weekly, (iii) fortnightly, or (iv) monthly.
  6. Deductions: Under the Code, an employee’s wages may be deducted on certain grounds including: (i) fines, (ii) absence from duty, (iii) accommodation given by the employer, or (iv) recovery of advances given to the employee, among others.  These deductions should not exceed 50% of the employee’s total wage.
  7. Gender discrimination: The Code prohibits gender discrimination in matters related to wages and recruitment of employees for the same work or work of similar nature.  
  8. Advisory boards: The central and state governments will constitute advisory boards.  The Central Advisory Board will consist of: (i) employers, (ii) employees (in equal number as employers), (iii) independent persons, and (iv) five representatives of state governments.  State Advisory Boards will consist of employers, employees, and independent persons.  Further, one-third of the total members on both the central and state Boards will be women.  The Boards will advise the respective governments on various issues including: (i) fixation of minimum wages, and (ii) increasing employment opportunities for women.

  

Significance:

  • This is expected to effectively reduce the number of minimum wage rates across the country to 300 from about 2,500 minimum wage rates at present.
  • Codification of labour laws will remove the multiplicity of definitions and authorities, leading to ease of compliance without compromising wage security and social security to workers.
  • It is expected to provide for an appellate authority between the claim authority and the judicial forum which will lead to speedy, cheaper and efficient redressal of grievances and settlement of claims as that of earlier.

 

Need for a national minimum wage:

One argument for a national minimum wage is to ensure a uniform standard of living across the country.  At present, there are differences in minimum wages across states and regions.  Such differences are attributed to the fact that both the central and state governments set, revise and enforce minimum wages for the employments covered by them. The introduction of a national minimum wage may help reduce these differences and provide a basic standard of living for all employees across the country.

 

Sources: the Hindu.

 


Topics Covered:

  1. Issues related to health.

 

Smart Safety Surveillance, or 3S, programme

 

What to study?

For Prelims: What is 3S programme?

For Mains: Need for implementation in India, significance, challenges and ways to address them.

 

Context: The central government is planning to expand the reach of the Smart Safety Surveillance, or 3S, programme.

This is being done to optimize post-marketing surveillance of priority drugs and vaccines, and ensure the vaccines distributed under the universal immunization programme are safe.

 

What is 3S project?

The 3S project was recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), considering the limited safety data on vaccines introduced in India. 

As part of the 3S project, India is evaluating the recently-introduced rotavirus vaccines. It is also trying to strengthen the collaboration among key stakeholders, such as ministry of health and Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO), to ensure high levels of vigilance.

 

Need for and significance of this programme for India:

  • According to the ministry of health and family welfare, new medical products often enter the market with limited safety data from clinical trials, which evaluate small controlled populations. Therefore, for immunization programmes, post-marketing safety surveillance is essential to monitor the risk-benefit profile of a product in the wider population.
  • WHO has been prodding countries to adopt the 3S programme, with the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to strengthen pharmacovigilance systems in developing nations.

 

Sources: the Hindu.

 


 

GS Paper 3:

 

Topics Covered:

  1. IP related issues.

 

Patent Prosecution Highway programme 

 

What to study?

For Prelims and mains: Key features and significance of the programme.

 

Context: The Union Cabinet has approved the proposal for adoption of Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) programme by the Indian Patent Office (IPO) under the Controller General of Patents, Designs & Trade Marks, India (CGPDTM) with patent offices of various other interest countries or regions.

  • PPH will initially commence between Japan Patent Office (JPO) and Indian Patent Office on pilot basis for a period of three years only.

 

Eligibility:

Under this Pilot programme, Indian Patent Office may receive patent applications in certain specified technical fields only, namely, Electrical, Electronics, Computer Science, Information Technology, Physics, Civil, Mechanical, Textiles, Automobiles and Metallurgy while JPO may receive applications in all fields of technology.

 

What is PPH?

The Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) is a set of initiatives for providing accelerated patent prosecution procedures by sharing information between some patent offices.

 

How it works?

This would allow a patent applicant to demand fast-tracking of his patent application by showing that his product or process has already been granted a patent in Japan.

 

PPH programme would lead to the following benefits for the Indian IP office:

  1. Reduction in time to dispose patent applications.
  2. Reduction in pendency of patent applications.
  3. Improvement in quality of search and examination of patent applications.
  4. An opportunity for Indian inventors including MSMEs and Start ups of India to get accelerated examination of their patent applications in Japan.

 

Sources: pib.

 


 

Facts for prelims:

 

Indian Performing Right Society (IPRS):

It is a representative body of artists, including music owners, composers, lyricists, and publishers of music.

  • It collects royalties due to the artists if their work is used anywhere from a wedding to a New Year function or on radio or TV — in other words, wherever music is played.
  • Set up in 1969, and re-registered as a copyright society in 2017, following which it started functioning actively.
  • The IPRS is responsible for collecting the 50% royalty that is due to artists involved in “literary work accompanied to music” — meaning lyricists, music composers, and publishers of music.
  • IPRS has both civil and criminal remedies available to it under The Copyright Act.

How is the royalty shared?

A 2012 amendment in The Copyright Act, 1957 laid down that artists would get 50% of royalties every time their work was used, even if the copyright remained with the production house or the music brand.

 

Idris Elba:

A species of wasp has been named Idris Elba.

  • The wasp, recently discovered in Mexico, was found living as a parasite in the eggs of another insect, known as the bagrada bug, which is a major pest of cruciferous vegetables.
  • This newly discovered wasp species could be the ultimate weapon in the battle against the stink bug — also known as the painted bug — by “parasitizing” stink bug eggs and thus preventing offspring from growing.
  • Genus Idris contains over 300 species.

MK-45 naval guns:

Context: The United States of America has approved the sale of thirteen MK-45 naval guns and related equipment to India.

Key facts:

  • The MK 45 is a naval artillery gun designed for use against surface warships, anti-aircraft and shore bombardment to support amphibious operations.
  • The gun mount features an automatic loader with a capacity of 20 rounds that can be fired under full automatic control, taking a little over a minute to exhaust those rounds at maximum fire rate.
  • It has a range of more than 20 nautical miles or 36 km.

 

National Institute of Sowa-Rigpa (NISR):

Context: The Union Cabinet has approved setting up of National Institute of Sowa-Rigpa (NISR) at Leh, Union Territory of Ladakh.

Key facts:

  • It will be an autonomous national institute under the Ministry of AYUSH with the mandate to undertake interdisciplinary education and research programmes in Sowa-Rigpa in collaboration with national and international institutes.
  • It will act as an apex institute for Sowa-Rigpa system. The existing Sowa-Rigpa institutions work under the Ministry of Culture.

What is Sowa -Rigpa?

  • It is a traditional system of medicine practised in the Himalayan belt of India.
  • It originated in Tibet and popularly practiced in countries namely, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Mongolia, and Russia.
  • The majority of theory and practice of Sowa-Rigpa is similar to “Ayurveda”.
  • Yuthog Yonten Gonpo from Tibet is believed to be the father of Sowa Rigpa.

The basic theory of Sowa-Rigpa may be adumbrated in terms of the following five points:

  1. The body in disease as the locus of treatment.
  2. Antidote, i.e., the treatment.
  3. The method of treatment through antidote.
  4. Medicine that cures the disease.
  5. Materia Medica, Pharmacy & Pharmacology.