SC on fire crackers
- The Supreme Court on Wednesday said a preliminary enquiry by the CBI into the firecracker industry, including in Tamil Nadu, revealed rampant violation of its ban on use of toxic ingredients like barium and its salt.
- raw materials taken from the manufacturers showed barium content.
- The court said loose quantities of barium were purchased from the market. Firecracker covers did not show the manufacture or expiry dates
- “We have to balance between employment, unemployment and the right to life and health of citizens.
- We cannot sacrifice the lives of many for a few.
- Our prime focus is the right to life of innocent people.”
India and Australia sign ‘’terms of reference’’
- The Indian Navy and the Australian Navy on Wednesday signed the ‘Terms of Reference’ (ToR) for the conduct of the navy to navy talks under the framework of the ‘Joint Guidance for the India-Australia Navy to Navy Relationship’ document, signed by the two Navy Chiefs in August.
- This is the first such document signed by the Indian Navy with any country.
- The document set the navy to navy talks as the principal medium for guiding the bilateral cooperation, the Indian Navy said in a statement.
- “The document would be pivotal in consolidating the shared commitment to promoting peace, security, stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region,”
- The highlights of the document included close cooperation in regional and multilateral fora, including Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS), Western Pacific Naval Symposium (WPNS) and Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA)
- The Nipah virus is classified as an ‘emerging zoonotic disease’, meaning that it is caused by germs that spread between animals and people.
- It was first recognised in a large outbreak of 276 cases in Malaysia and Singapore from September 1998 to 1999.
- Prior to the Kerala outbreak of 2018, there have been several outbreaks in Bangladesh with spillovers into India, particularly in 2001 and 2007 at Siliguri and Nadia in West Bengal
- The Nipah virus (NiV) is classified as a “highly pathogenic paramyxovirus”, and handling it requires the highest grade of facilities called BS-4.
- The natural reservoir for the virus is large fruit bats of the Pteropus genus.
- From here the virus may pass on to pigs which may be infected after eating fruits that are bitten on by infected bats
- Currently, there is no known treatment or vaccine for either people or animals.
- Ribavirin, an antiviral, may have a role in reducing mortality among patients with encephalitis caused by the Nipah virus disease.
PM CARES FUND AND RTI
- A statutorily constituted National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF), which was established under the Disaster Management (DM) Act of 2005,
- The NDRF is mandated to be accountable, and answerable under the RTI Act, being a public authority, and auditable by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India
- PMCARES FUND-the Government has conceded it to be a public charitable trust, but still maintains that it is not a ‘public authority’.
- PM-CARES fund to be declared as the “State” under Article 12 of the Constitution.
- In another plea, he had sought for the fund to be designated as a “public authority” under Section 2(h) of the RTI Act
- The point is that the PMO operates the Fund, but says it cannot supply any information about the PM CARES Fund because it is not a public authority
About PM CARES
- The PM CARES Fund was neither created by the Constitution of India nor by any statute
- The amount received by the Fund does not go to the Consolidated Fund of India
- This Fund is not audited by CAG
- If the PM CARES Fund is unconnected with the Government, then the Fund could become an office of profit.
- The Prime Minister’s Office administers the activities.
- This is ‘substantial control’ which is the test to determine its character as a public authority under the RTI Act as highlighted in the landmark judgment of the Supreme Court of India in Thalappalam Service Coop. Bank Ltd. vs State of Kerala.
- An ordinance was promulgated to amend Income Tax Act, 1961 and declare that the donations to the PM CARES Fund “would qualify for 80G benefits for 100% exemption”.
- Donations to PM CARES Fund will also qualify to be counted as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) expenditure under the Companies Act, 2013…
- PM CARES Fund has also got exemption under the FCRA [Foreign Contribution Regulation Act] and a separate account for receiving foreign donations has been opened
National digital health mission
- The National Digital Health Mission, the most salient aspect of which is that all citizens will have the option of voluntarily opting for a Health ID, a 14-digit health identification number that will uniquely identify every citizen and will be a repository of their medical history.
- Illustratively, it will contain details of every test, every disease, the doctors visited, the medicines taken and the diagnosis.
- The portability this offers implies a person will, in theory, never have to haul around their reports.
- The doctor who is examining the patient can give more well-informed advice because it is possible that patients may not consider aspects of their medical history relevant to share with a doctor, or sometimes may forget about them, but which may be valuable for a better diagnosis.
- This id can be created by using a person’s basic details and mobile number or Aadhaar number, and there will presumably be an app acting as a convenient interface
- A digital health id right now is really a solution looking for a problem.
- There is no clear justification that the immobility of medical records is an insurmountable obstacle to the provision of affordable, high-quality health care in India.
- There are too few hospitals with trained staff to cater to all Indians. But expanding the health-care system will not be easy.
- India’s federal structure, the size of its population — and a large rural one at that — the cost of researching, finding and buying appropriate drugs and treatment, competing systems of medicine and the very challenging nature of health itself, mean that the issues are manifold.
- The graver problem is that the technocratic sheen of a digital health id hides a mammoth store of personal data, which in the absence of a privacy law and little public awareness and control over their data, could be open to misuse.
- There is the danger that any large private insurance company could use sophisticated algorithms across the health and other databases to construct risk-profiles for people and make access to affordable insurance difficult.
- Also, data mining can prioritise certain rich demographics for their services and direct public and private resources to people who can afford a high premium for their services rather than to those who need them but cannot pay as much
Social security and gig workers
- On September 20, 2021, the Indian Federation of App-based Transport Workers, on behalf of gig workers, filed a public interest litigation in the Supreme Court demanding that the Union government provide succour to workers affected by the pandemic.
- The petition has asked for ‘gig workers’ and ‘platform workers’ to be declared as ‘unorganised workers’ so they come under the purview of the Unorganised Workers Social Security Act, 2008.
- In short, the petition demands social security benefits from food delivery platforms such as Zomato and Swiggy and taxi aggregator apps such as Ola and Uber.
- For 27 days in 2020, close to 3,000 delivery workers from Swiggy went on strike in Hyderabad to protest the slash in remuneration from ₹35 to ₹15 per order.
- The strikes disbanded only after the Joint Commissioner of the Labour Department called a hearing with the platform’s operations manager and the workers’ union.
- It was the first time in India that such a negotiation was taking place, that too on the street
- In the U.S., a gig workers collective has urged customers to delete the Instacart app as a show of solidarity until demands for better working conditions are met.
- Indians could make an effort to be better informed about the way platforms work by seeking out delivery workers and asking about their work conditions and the pressures they face