Polity & Governance
- Ministry asks RBI to examine Workers’ Bank proposal
- Legal system too expensive for most: Study
- Central Research Institute opens cGMP-compliant vaccine facility in HP
- National corridor body plan shelved
- Panama disease stalks banana cultivation in Kerala
Art & Culture
- ‘Pulakeshin’s victory over Harsha was in 618 AD’’
Also in News
- President honours brave sons of Manipur on Khongjom Day
Polity & Governance
Ministry asks RBI to examine Workers’ Bank proposal
The Labour Ministry has asked the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to form a panel headed by a former Deputy Governor of the central bank to look into a proposal of creating a Workers’ Bank using Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF).
- The Labour Ministry has also sought the opinion of Department of Financial Services in the Finance Ministry on the proposal.
Aim of the Workers’ Bank:
Workers’ Bank aims to improve the earnings of Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) by investing its corpus in various instruments.
- The proposal was mooted by the trade unions about a decade ago and has been discussed by Labour Ministry and Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) for several years now.
- A theme paper to the government was submitted in 2004 on setting up ‘Workers’ Capital Trust’.
- The idea was modelled on similar experiences in countries like Canada, Netherland, Switzerland and South Africa where a collective pension fund system invests worker’s savings in equities of domestic and global markets.
Legal system too expensive for most: Study
According to the nationwide “Access to Justice” survey, by a civil society organisation DAKSH, legal system in India is too expensive to access for most citizens in the country.
- The survey was conducted across 305 locations in 24 States to hear the voice and explore the profile of people making use of judicial system in India.
Key points of the survey:
- The results of the survey reveal that 90% of the litigants earn less than Rs. 3 lakh per annum and the median expected cost of litigation for this group is around Rs. 16,000.
- For most, the judicial system of our country is shut because they cannot access lawyers in the first place and the quality of legal aid is poor.
- Though legal aid aims to provide free legal services to the weaker sections who otherwise can’t afford it, the survey found that that just 1% of the respondents make use of this service.
- Accountability of legal aid lawyers towards their clients and lack of communication between the two are serious concerns plaguing the system.
- The financial barrier is not just limited to accessing courts. The main reason individuals could not meet the conditions of bail was found to be lack of funds. Also, around half the litigants cited expense as a major deterrent for filing appeals in the High Court if their cases were not resolved in their favour.
Central Research Institute opens cGMP-compliant vaccine facility in HP
Union Ministry for Health and Family Welfare has recently inaugurated the first of its kind Current Good Manufacturing Practise (CGMP) compliant facility within the Central Government for manufacture of DPT and TT vaccine at the Central Research Institute (CRI), Kasauli in Himachal Pradesh.
- This makes CRI the first Central Government Institute to have cGMP compliant infrastructure for vaccine production.
Need for creation of cGMP:
- Recent advancements in regulatory requirements and introduction of cGMP concept in vaccine manufacturing had led to the need for creation of cGMP compliant infrastructure and processes.
- CGMP refers to the Current Good Manufacturing Practice regulations enforced by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
- CGMPs provide for systems that assure proper design, monitoring, and control of manufacturing processes and facilities.
- Adherence to the CGMP regulations assures the identity, strength, quality, and purity of drug products by requiring that manufacturers of medications adequately control manufacturing operations.
Importance of cGMP:
- A consumer usually cannot detect (through smell, touch, or sight) that a drug product is safe or if it will work. While CGMPs require testing, testing alone is not adequate to ensure quality. Therefore, it is important that drugs are manufactured under conditions and practices required by the CGMP regulations to assure that quality is built into the design and manufacturing process at every step.
- This formal system of controls at a pharmaceutical company, if adequately put into practice, helps to prevent instances of contamination, mix-ups, deviations, failures, and errors. This also assures that drug products meet their quality standards.
National corridor body plan shelved
The Centre has decided to shelve its plan to set up a National Industrial Corridor Authority (NICA).
The Authority has been put on the back burner due to the delay foreseen by the Prime Minister’s Office and the Cabinet Secretariat in getting Parliamentary approval for it to be conferred ‘statutory’ status on the lines of the National Highways Authority of India.
About National Industrial Corridor Authority (NICA):
Announced by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his maiden Budget speech in July 2014, the NICA was the proposed nodal body to oversee work relating to all national ‘industrial corridors’, in the face of hurdles in implementation.
- The centre had planned to go in for a Constitutional amendment and ensure passage of ‘NICA Act’ in Parliament. The Constitutional amendment was to remove doubts on whether the topic ‘industrial corridor’ falls under the ‘State List’ or ‘Union List’ of Constitution.
- The aim was to grant NICA overarching powers including primacy over State bodies on all aspects of ‘industrial corridors’ thus allowing it comprehensive operational freedom.
- To fill the gap, the government has decided to make the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor Development Corporation (DMICDC) the coordinating bodyfor corridors, to move ahead with proposals relating to corridors in the works.
- As per the new plan, DMICDC head will have the powers to approve proposals relating to corridors. These will then be forwarded to the DMIC Trust for final clearance.
- The Trust — currently managed by the Secretaries of Department of Economic Affairs, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion and that of NITI Aayog — could be expanded to include the Secretaries of Shipping, Road Transport and Urban Development (for including ‘smart cities’ in these corridors).
Meanwhile, discussions are on to get the NICA registered as a Society under the Societies Act (without any statutory status) so that it can at least start functioning without delay.[Ref: Hindu]
Panama disease stalks banana cultivation in Kerala
The Panama disease caused by a soil-borne fungus is threatening banana crops across Kerala, posing a potential crisis for farmers.
About Panama disease:
- Panama disease (also called Fusarium Wilt of banana) is caused by the soil-borne fungus Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. Cubense (Foc).
- The fungus enters the plant through the roots and goes on to colonise the plant through the vascular system.
- It causes discoloration and wilting of leaves, and eventually kills the plant.
- The fungus spreads through infected planting material, soil and water.
- Scientists have recommended soil treatment with fungicides for control of the disease.
Agricultural scientists are concerned that the sporadic cases of infestation in the State would turn into an epidemic. Most of the popular cultivars have shown signs of infestation.
- In the 1950s, Panama wiped out the Gros Michel banana, the dominant cultivar. Over the years, it spread from Panama to neighbouring countries.
- A new virulent strain of the disease known as Tropical Race 4 (TR4) is now threatening banana crops in Asia, Australia, Africa and the Middle East.
Art & Culture
‘Pulakeshin’s victory over Harsha was in 618 AD’’
Researchers from the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute (BORI) claim to have fixed the date of Emperor Harshavardhan’s defeat to the Chalukya King Pulakeshin II by decoding a copper plate.
- The date of Pulakeshi’s great triumph over Harsha in a battle fought primarily with elephants, on the banks of the Narmada, can now be fixed at 618 AD
- The copper plate also records the grant of 50 ‘nivarthanas’ (a unit of land) by Pulakeshin from the village Brahmana-Vataviya to a Vedic scholar, Nagasharma.
- Pulakeshin, who ruled from the Chalukyan capital of Badami, challenged Harsha’s conquests. The former had established himself as ‘lord paramount’ of the south, as Harsha had of the north.
- Unwilling to tolerate the existence of a powerful rival in the south, Harsha had marched from Kanauj with a huge force. The battle was fought primarily with elephants, on the banks of the Narmada.
- After the defeat, Harshavardha was compelled to accept the river as the demarcation and retire from the battlefield after losing most of his elephant force.
Also in News
President honours brave sons of Manipur on Khongjom Day
President Pranab Mukherjee has recently visited Manipur to attend ‘Khongjom Day’ celebration and also inaugurated the war monument cum-Tourist Centre at Khongjom in Manipur on the occasion of the 125th anniversary of the last battle of independence of the Manipuris against the British army.
- Khongjom Day is observed on April 23 every year by the Government of Manipur to pay tribute to the brave sons of Manipur, who made supreme sacrifice for the cause of their motherland in the Anglo-Manipur War (1891).
- Battle of Khongjom marks one of the last battles of the Anglo-Manipuri War of 1891 in which the British Army registered a decisive victory.