Quality Standards of Products
Why in News?
- Government of India has taken a number of steps to improve the quality standards of products manufactured under the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan.
Steps taken by the Government to improve Quality Standards of products
- Quality Control Orders (QCOs): For ensuring availability of quality products to consumers, Quality Control Orders (QCOs) are issued by various Ministries/Departments of Government of India in exercise of the powers conferred by section 16 of the Bureau of Indian Standards Act, 2016 stipulating conformity of the products to Indian Standards.
- Standard mark (ISI mark): BIS grants licence to manufacturers to use the Standard mark (ISI mark) on the product conforming to the relevant Indian Standards.
- Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme: To provide a major boost to manufacturing, the government has launched Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme for 13 sectors with an outlay of Rs 1.97 lakh crore over the next five years.
- Public Procurement Order: In order to provide purchase preference to domestic manufacturers, Public procurement (Preference to Make in India) Order on Industrial Steam generators/ Boilers dated 29 September 2020 has been issued.
- Identification of focus sub- sectors: 24 focus sub- sectors have been identified under Make in India 2.0 to enhance competitiveness and exports of the manufacturing sector.
- Empowered Group of Secretaries (EGoS) and Project Development Cells (PDCs): Government has set up Empowered Group of Secretaries (EGoS) and Project Development Cells (PDCs) in Ministries/Departments to fast-track investments by coordination between the Central Government and State Governments.
- Udyog Manthan: First of its kind brain storming exercise to enhance productivity & quality in Indian industry to realize vision of an AatmaNirbhar Bharat for all major sectors of manufacturing and services.
- Strengthening of IPR Regime: Infrastructure upgradation, digitisation of workflow in IP offices, manpower augmentation; Bolstering IP protection for MSMEs and Start-ups through dedicated schemes
- New definition of MSME: The definition of micro manufacturing and services unit increased to Rs. 1 crore of investment and Rs. 5 crore of turnover.
- The limit of small unit increased to Rs. 10 crore of investment and Rs 50 crore of turnover.
- Similarly, the limit of a medium unit increased to Rs 20 crore of investment and Rs. 100 crore of turnover.
- The limit for medium manufacturing and service units was further increased to Rs. 50 crore of investment and Rs. 250 crore of turnover.
- It has also been decided that the turnover with respect to exports will not be counted in the limits of turnover for any category of MSME units whether micro, small or medium.
Make in India
Why in News?
- Make in India initiative was launched on September 25, 2014 with the objective of facilitating investment, fostering innovation, building best in class manufacturing infrastructure, making it easy to do business and enhancing skill development.
- The initiative is further aimed at creating a conducive environment for investment, modern and efficient infrastructure, opening up new sectors for foreign investment and forging a partnership between government and industry through positive mindset.
- Make in India initiative has made significant achievements and presently focuses on 27 sectors under Make in India 2.0.
- Steps taken to improve Ease of Doing Business include simplification and rationalisation of existing processes.
- As a result of the measures taken to improve the country’s investment climate, India jumped to 63rd place in World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business ranking as per World Bank’s Doing Business Report (DBR) 2020.
- This is driven by reforms in the areas of Starting a Business, Paying Taxes, Trading Across Borders, and Resolving Insolvency.
- Government has taken various steps in addition to ongoing schemes to boost domestic and foreign investments in India.
- These include the National Infrastructure Pipeline, Reduction in Corporate Tax, easing liquidity problems of NBFCs and Banks, policy measures to boost domestic manufacturing.
- Government of India has also promoted domestic manufacturing of goods through public procurement orders, Phased Manufacturing Programme (PMP), Schemes for Production Linked Incentives of various Ministries.
- Further, with a view to support, facilitate and provide investor friendly ecosystem to investors investing in India, the Union Cabinet has approved constitution of an Empowered Group of Secretaries (EGoS), and also Project Development Cells (PDCs) in all concerned Ministries/ Departments to fast-track investments in coordination between the Central Government and State Governments, and thereby grow the pipeline of investible projects in India to increase domestic investments and FDI inflow.
Military Ranks by Retired Short Service Commission Officers
Why in News?
- Ministry of Defence (MoD) has decided to allow the retired Short Service Commission (SSC) officers of the Army to use military ranks as applicable.
- This decision of the Government will not only remove dissatisfaction and discontentment among the retired SSC officers, but will serve as a big boost to the young aspirants.
- The demand for use of military ranks by Short Service Commission (SSC) officers after release from service has been pending since 1983.
- The SSC officers serve for a period of 10-14 years to make up the deficiency of young officers in units.
- Unlike in the past when SSC officers used to serve for a period of five years, now they serve for a tenure of 10 years, further extendable by four years.
National Livestock Mission
Why in News?
- The details of projects undertaken under the National Livestock Mission in the State of West Bengal.
- Government of India is implementing various Centrally Sponsored Schemes to complement and supplement the initiatives of West Bengal state to promote Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying.
- In Dairying sector, Rashtriya Gokul Mission, with the objectives of development and conservation of indigenous bovine breeds, genetic up gradation of bovine population and enhancing milk production and productivity is operating in West Bengal.
- National Livestock Mission is another centrally sponsored scheme operating from 2014 onwards in order to ensure quantitative and qualitative improvement in livestock production systems especially in Sheep, Goat, Pig, Poultry, Feed and Fodder sector.
- Capacity building of stake holders, strengthening of infrastructure in the related sectors and Livestock insurance are also covered under the Mission.
- Livestock Health and Disease Control Scheme (LH&DC) is also being implemented in the state with the objectives of disease prevention and improvement of livestock health.
- In the Fisheries sector, 2 schemes namely “Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana” (PMMSY) and Fisheries and Aquaculture Infrastructure Development Fund (FIDF) with an outlay of Rs.20050 crore and Rs. 7522.48 crore are applicable for all the states including West Bengal.
Productivity of Dairy Animals
Why in News?
- As per Integrated Sample Survey average annual productivity of cattle in India during 2019-20 is 1777 kg per animal per year as against the world average of 2699 kg per animal per year during 2019 (as per FAO Statistics).
- Average productivity of cattle has increased by 27.95% between 2013-14 and 2019-20 which is highest increase in productivity in the World.
In order to complement and supplement the efforts made by the States and Union Territories Government of India has been implementing following schemes to enhance milk production and productivity of bovines:
- Rashtriya Gokul Mission.
- National Dairy Plan-I (continued upto November, 2019).
- Breed Improvement Institutes comprising of 7 Central Cattle Breeding Farms and 4 Central Herd Registration Units.
- In addition, Government is also implementing National Animal Disease Control Programme for control and eradication of Foot and Mouth Disease and Brucellosis in the country and Feed and Fodder Development under National Livestock Mission to enhance availability of feed and fodder in the country.
National Anti-Trafficking Bureau
Why in News?
- The Government of India amended the National Investigation Agency Act, 2008 in 2019 to inter-alia include Section 370 and 370A of the Indian Penal Code in the Schedule of the Act.
- The NIA has been given the mandate to investigate cases of human trafficking, including those having inter-state, national and international ramifications.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has taken the following initiatives for the safety of women:
- The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 was enacted for effective deterrence against sexual offences. Further, the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2018 was enacted to prescribe even further stringent penal provisions, including death penalty, for rape of girls below the age of 12 years.
- Emergency Response Support System provides a pan-India, single internationally recognized number (112) system for all emergencies, with computer aided dispatch of field resources to the location of distress.
- To promote use of technology to aid smart policing and safety management, Safe City Projects have been sanctioned in eight cities namely, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Lucknow and Mumbai in the first Phase. The projects have been prepared by State Governments taking into account the need for identification of hotspots for crimes against women for development of critical assets in urban areas including infrastructure, technology adoption and capacity building in community through awareness programmes.
- A cyber-crime reporting portal was launched on 20th September, 2018 for citizens to report obscene content.
- MHA launched the “National Database on Sexual Offenders” (NDSO) on 20th September, 2018 to facilitate investigation and tracking of sexual offenders across the country.
- MHA has launched an online analytic tool “Investigation Tracking System for Sexual Offences” to monitor and track time-bound investigation in sexual assault cases in accordance with Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2018.
- MHA has notified guidelines for collection of forensic evidence in sexual assault cases and the standard composition in a sexual assault evidence collection kits. To facilitate adequate capacity in manpower, training and skill building programmes have been undertaken for Investigation Officers, Prosecution Officers and Medical Officers.
- In order to improve investigation, MHA has taken steps to strengthen DNA analysis units in Central and State Forensic Science Laboratories. A State-of-the-Art DNA Analysis Unit has been commenced in Central Forensic Science Laboratory, Chandigarh.
- MHA has released Rs 200 crores to States/UTs for setting up and strengthening of Women Help Desks in police stations and Anti-Human Trafficking Units in all districts of the country.
- Further, a national level communication platform – Crime Multi Agency Centre (Cri-MAC) was launched by MHA.
- Cri-MAC facilitates dissemination of information about significant crimes, including human trafficking cases, across the country on real time basis and enables inter-State coordination.
- The coordination mechanism available to Police Officers in all States and UTs through Cri-MAC is an efficient and fast enabling-tool for sharing information in a safe and secure manner, which helps in locating and identifying the victims as also in prevention, detection and investigation of crimes.
Social Security Schemes for Organised and Unorganised Sector
- As per the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) carried out by the National Sample Survey Organisation of the Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation, in the year 2017-18, the total employment in both organized and unorganised sector in the country was around 47 crores.
- Out of this, around 9 crores are engaged in the organized sector and the balance of 38 crores are in the unorganized sector.
The categories of the workers have been divided into three categories i.e.
- Establishments with 10 or more workers;
- Establishments with 20 or more workers;
- Workers engaged in unorganised sector
- The ESI Act, 1948 is Social Security legislation applicable to all factories & notified establishments employing ten or more persons, which are located in ESI notified areas and as such it does not apply to the unorganised sector.
- Employees earning wages up to Rs 21,000 per month (Rs 25,000/- in the case of persons with disability) are coverable under ESI Scheme and are entitled to all benefits available under ESI Act, 1948.
- ESI contributions @ 4% are paid by employers, of which the employees or workers contribute to the extent of 0.75% of their wages and the employers contribute to the extent of 3.25% of their wages. Such contributions entitle them to all benefits available under the ESI Act.
The benefits of social security to the workers employed in organised sector establishments with 20 or more workers under the Employees’ Provident Fund and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952 are extended through following three schemes:
- The Employees’ Provident Funds Scheme, 1952;
- The Employees’ Pension Scheme, 1995;
- The Employees’ Deposit Linked Insurance Scheme, 1976.
- The Employer and Employee both contribute @ 12% of wages towards provident fund. Out of this, 8.33% is diverted towards pension Fund. Employer also contributes to EDLI Scheme @ 0.5 % of wages.
Unorganised Workers’ Social Security Act, 2008
- For the workers engaged in the Unorganised sector, social security benefits are being addressed through the Unorganised Workers’ Social Security Act, 2008.
- The Act empowers the Central Government to provide Social Security benefits to unorganised sector workers by formulating suitable welfare schemes on matters relating to (i) life and disability cover, (ii) health and maternity benefits, (iii) old age protection and (iv) any other benefit as may be determined by the Central Government.
- The State Governments are also empowered to formulate suitable welfare schemes on the matters regarding housing, provident funds, educational schemes, skill upgradation, old age homes etc.
- Life and disability cover is provided through Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Yojana (PMJJBY) and Pradhan Mantri Surksha Bima Yojana (PMSBY).
- The health and maternity benefits are addressed through Ayushman Bharat-Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY) which is a universal health scheme administrated by the National Health Authority.
Old Age Protection
- For old age protection to unorganised sector workers including traders, shopkeepers and self- employed persons, the Government has launched two flagship schemes namely Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maan-DhanYojana (PM-SYM) and National Pension Scheme for Traders, Shopkeeper and Self-Employed Persons (NPS- Traders).
- Under the schemes, beneficiaries are entitled to receive minimum monthly assured pension of Rs.3000/- after attaining the age of 60 years.
- The workers in the age group of 18-40 years whose monthly income is below Rs.15000/- can join the PM-SYM scheme and Traders, shop keepers and self-employed persons whose annual turnover is not exceeding Rs.1.5 crore can join NPS – Traders scheme.
- These are voluntary and contributory pension schemes and monthly contribution ranges from Rs.55 to Rs.200 depending upon the entry age of the beneficiary.
- Under both the schemes, 50% monthly contribution is payable by the beneficiary and equal matching contribution is paid by the Central Government.
Why in News?
- Ministry of Power launched the GRAM UJALA programme today in Varanasi.
- Under this program Convergence Energy Services Limited (CESL), a wholly owned subsidiary of Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), will distribute high quality LED bulbs, at an affordable cost of 10 rupees per bulb in rural areas of Varanasi.
- Under phase 1 of GRAM UJALA programme 1 crore 50 lakh LED bulbs will be distributed which will have a significant impact on India’s climate change action energy savings of 2025 million kWh/year and CO2 reductions of 1.65 million T CO2/year.
- The programme will enable better illumination, at an affordable price of INR 10/bulb.
- This will usher in a better standard of life, financial savings, more economic activity, and better safety for rural citizens.
National Rail Plan
Why in News?
- Indian Railways have prepared a National Rail Plan (NRP) for India – 2030.
- The Plan is to create a ‘future ready’ Railway system by 2030.
- The NRP is aimed to formulate strategies based on both operational capacities and commercial policy initiatives to increase modal share of the Railways in freight.
- The objective of the Plan is to create capacity ahead of demand, which in turn would also cater to future growth in demand right up to 2050 and also increase the modal share of Railways to 45% in freight traffic and to continue to sustain it.
The main features of the National Rail Plan are:-
- Formulate strategies based on both operational capacities and commercial policy initiatives to increase modal share of the Railways in freight to 45%.
- Reduce transit time of freight substantially by increasing average speed of freight trains to 50Kmph.
- As part of the National Rail Plan, Vision 2024 has been launched for accelerated implementation of certain critical projects by 2024 such as 100% electrification, multi-tracking of congested routes, upgradation of speed to 160 kmph on Delhi-Howrah and Delhi-Mumbai routes, upgradation of speed to 130kmph on all other Golden Quadrilateral-Golden Diagonal (GQ/GD) routes and elimination of all Level Crossings on all GQ/GD route.
- Identify new Dedicated Freight Corridors.
- Identify new High Speed Rail Corridors.
- Assess rolling stock requirement for passenger traffic as well as wagon requirement for freight.
- Assess Locomotive requirement to meet twin objectives of 100% electrification (Green Energy) and increasing freight modal share.
- Assess the total investment in capital that would be required along with a periodical break up.
- Sustained involvement of the Private Sector in areas like operations and ownership of rolling stock, development of freight and passenger terminals, development/operations of track infrastructure etc.
SERB Women Excellence award
Why in News?
- Antara Banerjee, a scientist in Structural Biology Division of National Institute for Research in Reproductive Health, Indian Council of Medical Research, Mumbai,
- Contributed towards understanding the endocrinology in female reproduction that could be useful for assisted reproductive technologies, has received the SERB Women Excellence Award for 2021.
- The award instituted by Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB), Department of Science and Technology (DST), recognises and rewards outstanding research achievements of young women scientists in frontier areas of Science and Engineering.
- Study of the follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and its receptor (FSHR), proteins that play a central role in reproduction by bringing about formation of ova or egg in females.
- In her doctoral thesis, she probed this hormone receptor that played a crucial role in mammalian reproduction.
- It later helped her identify residues in the extracellular loops of Follicle Stimulating Hormone Receptor (FSHR) that are crucial for FSH-FSHR interaction providing more information about the role of extracellular roles of G-protein coupled receptors in their function.
- Initiated studies on understanding the biological milestone known as puberty–the process by which a child’s body matures into that of an adult capable of sexual reproduction.
Juvenile Justice Act
Why in News?
- The Lok Sabha passed a Bill to amend the Juvenile Justice Act with the aim of strengthening the provisions on protection and adoption of children.
- Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2021 addresses several concerns that were flagged by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) while examining the earlier version of the Bill that was passed in 2015.
- Amended law made the District Magistrate (DM) a “synergising officer” for issues related to the protection of children by empowering DMs and Additional DMs with greater decision making powers on issues concerning childcare and adoption.
- The Bill also categorised offences wherein the maximum sentence was more than seven years’ imprisonment but no minimum sentence or a minimum sentence of less than seven years had been provided as “serious offences” under the Juvenile Justice Act. Serious offences include offences for which the punishment under the Indian Penal Code is imprisonment between three and seven years.
- The Bill also sets the minimum qualification to be a member of the child welfare committee. No person shall be appointed as a member unless he or she had been actively involved in health, education or welfare activities pertaining to children for seven years or was a practising professional with a degree in child psychology, psychiatry, law, social work, sociology or human development.
- The Bill also sought to terminate the tenure of a member of the committee if they failed to attend the proceedings of the Child Welfare Committee consecutively for three months without any valid reason or if they failed to attend less than three-fourths of the sittings in a year.
- What is happening inside your brain as you are reading this? Which areas and which neurons are active?
- A less-invasive technology called functional ultrasound has now shown the ability to map brain activity even from regions deep within the brain.
- It produces detailed images of the neural signals that could not be seen with other non-invasive techniques like fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging).
The giraffe puzzle
- The tallest land animal has kept biologists busy for years as they struggled to decode its peculiar anatomy and evolutionary adaptations.
- Now a study of the giraffe’s whole genome has shown that a particular gene known as FGFRL1 may be responsible for its unique features.
- This gene has undergone many changes in the giraffe compared to other animals.
Penguin blood study
- Penguins are known to contain more haemoglobin in their blood compared to other land-dwelling birds.
- A new study that looked at ancient and modern penguins found that the haemoglobin evolved such that it can increase the pick-up and drop-off of available oxygen.
- This is vital for the bird as it has to spend more than 30 minutes holding its breath while hunting.
- By studying the genomes of over 400 modern humans and ancient human cousins, researchers have now noted that two cousin species, Homo luzonensis and Homo floresiensis, were present in Island SouthEast Asia when modern humans arrived.
- Island Southeast Asia includes Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, Brunei, and the new nation of East Timor. Further studies revealed that there were no interbreeding events.
- DNA evidence for our mysterious ancient cousins called Denisovans from the region.
- These findings could tell us more about human evolution and migration across the globe.
National Commission for Allied and Healthcare Professionals Bill, 2021
Why in News?
- The Lok Sabha cleared the National Commission for Allied and Healthcare Professionals Bill, 2021, which seeks to set up a commission to regulate the allied healthcare sector, standardise training and qualifications across the country.
- It is aimed at fulfilling long-pending demands of the sector, and enhance employment opportunities for professionals.
- The Bill aims to establish a statutory body or commission that frames policies and standards, regulate professional conduct and qualifications for allied healthcare professionals, besides providing uniformity of service standards across institutions.
- The chairman and vice-chairman of the body will be selected for two years and they would be eligible for renomination for further two terms.
- State governments will be represented in the commission, 12 seats have been set aside for them, and State-level commissions are also to be set up under the Bill.
- The standards for regulation, training, eligibility and service have been coded by international yardsticks and according to International Labour Code (ILO) codes.
- The Bill had been pored over by the standing committee on health which had suggested 110 amendments of which 102 have been incorporated into the Bill.