Polity & Governance
- FSSAI launches platform to use leftover food
- Ministry WCD launches campaign on ‘women for women’: #IamThatWoman
- Call Swachh Bharat toilets ‘Izzat Ghar’: Centre to states
Government Schemes & Policies
- 5 lakh domestic workers set to get legal status and minimum wages
Issues related to Health & Education
- FDDI gets ‘National Importance’ status, can now award degrees
- MCX to unveil first commodity options trading with gold
- Against job reservation in private sector, says Niti VC
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- Sawfish more threatened than tigers, say scientists
Defence & Security Issues
- More check-posts to come up on Bangladesh border
For IASToppers Current Affairs Analysis Archive, Click Here
Polity & Governance
FSSAI launches platform to use leftover food
In a bid to reduce food waste, the Food Safety Standard Authority of India (FSSAI) in collaboration with food recovery partners in the country launched an integrated web-based platform, Indian Food Recovery Alliance (IFRA), which will allow people to share their surplus meal with those in need.
Key features of the platform:
- The Indian Food Recovery Alliance (IFRA) initiative will guide citizens and food recovery agencies on ways to prevent food loss and also how to safely recover the surplus food.
- Through this initiative, several food recovery agencies will be able to work uniformly towards one common goal of saving food and distributing it to the needy so that India is able to eradicate hunger problems.
- The platform allows donors, individuals, and volunteers to register themselves under the initiative.
- The main platform and mobile applications will be accessible to the registered people to donate food, and the food recovery agencies will ensure proper distribution of the food.
- The donors will be able to track the status of the food they had donated, using personalised logins.
- This platform will also provide guidance to citizens, food businesses and various food recovery agencies on prevention of food loss and wastage and safe recovery of surplus food.
Significance of this platform:
- Wastage of food and loss is recognised as a global challenge also there is significant food loss and food waste in India. This initiative is an effort to recover surplus food that is lost and wasted at various stages.
- In India, multiple food recovery agencies, such as No Food Waste, Feeding India, Indian Food Banking Network, Roti Bank, Annakshetra, Giveaway India and Robin Hood Army among others, are functional. They feed an average of over a lakh people per day in more than 70 cities.
About Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI):
- The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is an agency of the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India.
- The FSSAI has been established under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 which is a consolidating statute related to food safety and regulation in India.
- The FSSAI is led by a non-executive Chairperson, appointed by the Central Government.
- The Chairperson is in the rank of Secretary to Government of India.
- The agency also has 8 regional offices, 4 referral laboratories and 72 local laboratories located throughout India.
Ministry WCD launches campaign on ‘women for women’: #IamThatWoman
In an attempt to end Gender bias in women against women, the Ministry of Women and Child Development is undertaking an online campaign #IamThatWoman.
About the campaign:
- Through the campaign, the Ministry seeks to highlight the various aspects of women standing ‘by’ and ‘for’ women.
- Ministry of WCD has urged people to shun stereotypes associated with women harming other women.
- Twitter and Facebook users have been encouraged to tag and share stories of women helping women with a photograph and post online with the hashtag #IamThatWoman.
Significance of this campaign:
- When a woman has the support of her womanhood, she can be unstoppable. Through this campaign, the Ministry of WCD aim to shed light on the enormous contributions made by women for women.
Call Swachh Bharat toilets ‘Izzat Ghar’: Centre to states
By following a directive from the Centre to the states, every toilet constructed across the country under the Swachh Bharat Mission could now be called ‘Izzat Ghar’, or something equivalent in a local language that means house of dignity.
- The Centre has written to all states in this regard, advising Hindi-speaking states to call a toilet an ‘Izzat Ghar’ while urging other states to come up with other terms in the regional languages with the same meaning.
- This move aims to instils a sense of dignity and pride in the entire family for their toilet, and will also have a positive impact on usage.
About Swachh Bharat Mission:
- Swachh Bharat Mission is a massive mass movement that seeks to create a Clean India by 2019.
- The father of our nation Mr. Mahatma Gandhi always puts the emphasis on swachhta as swachhta leads to healthy and prosperous life. Keeping this in mind, the Indian government has decided to launch the swachh bharat mission on October 2, 2014.
- The mission will cover all rural and urban areas.
- The urban component of the mission will be implemented by the Ministry of Urban Development, and the rural component by the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation.
Major components of the goal:
- Elimination of open defecation, conversion of insanitary toilets to pour flush toilets, eradicating of manual scavenging and Municipal Solid Waste Management (MSWM).
- Construction of individual sanitary latrines for households below the poverty line with subsidy (80 percent) where demand exists
- Conversion of dry latrines into low-cost sanitary latrines
- Construction of exclusive village sanitary complexes for women providing facilities for hand pumping, bathing, sanitation and washing on a selective basis where there is not adequate land or space within houses and where village panchayats are willing to maintain the facilities.
- Setting up of sanitary marts
- Total sanitation of villages through the construction of drains, soakage pits, solid and liquid waste disposal
- Intensive campaign for awareness generation and health education to create a felt need for personal, household and environmental sanitation facilities.
Government Schemes & Policies
47.5 lakh domestic workers set to get legal status and minimum wages
Ministry of labour and employment is considering to formulate a national policy for domestic workers under which part-time, full-time and live-in workers, employers, private placement agencies will be clearly defined.
- With this, the labour and employment ministry is set to give legal status to domestic workers in the country by formulating a national policy that will ensure minimum wages and equal remuneration for around 47.5 lakh domestic workers in India including 30 lakh women.
Highlights of the new policy:
- The policy intends to set up an institutional mechanism to social security cover, fair terms of employment, grievance redressal and dispute resolution.
- It provides for recognising domestic workers as a worker with the right to register themselves with state labour department or any other suitable mechanism.
- It also aims to expand the scope of existing legislation, policies and schemes to grant domestic workers rights that are enshrined in laws for other category of workers including minimum wage, equal remuneration etc.
- The policy will also promote the rights for them to organise and form their own unions/associations and affiliate with other unions/associations.
- It will also provide for model contract of employment with well defined period of work and rest.
- It also aims to regulate the recruitment and placement agencies by respective governments through formulation of a policy.
- It will also have a tripartite implementation committee at centre, state and district levels.
No mention of minimum wage in new draft:
- The new draft policy, however, does not prescribe a minimum wage for a domestic worker, although the earlier draft a couple of years ago had proposed a minimum salary of Rs. 9,000 per month for the skilled full-time domestic help along with a host of benefits including social security cover and mandatory leave.
Issues related to Health & Education
FDDI gets ‘National Importance’ status, can now award degrees
The Footwear Design and Development Institute (FDDI) has been granted the status of an ‘Institute of National Importance’ under the Union Ministry of Commerce & Industry by the virtue of the Footwear Design & Development Institute Act, 2017.
What does it mean?
- The institute can now grant degrees to students without requiring outside permission.
- The institutes now have the autonomy to design their courses as it is required by the industry.
- It will be allowed to develop and conduct courses of undergraduate and postgraduate students.
About Footwear Design and Development Institute (FDDI):
The FDDI is a premier Institute, serving as a one stop solutions provider in footwear, leather and allied industry.
- FDDI has its main campus in Noida and has a pan-India presence.
- FDDI is the only institution of the country, in its core area of expertise, to have certifications such as ISO 9001, ISO 1401 and ISO 17025.
- The institute is currently imparting UG and PG skill-based courses in the field of leather goods, footwear, management and retail.
- It has 2,500 students studying at eight campuses across the country.
MCX to unveil first commodity options trading with gold
Largest commodity bourse Multi Commodity Exchange (MCX) unveiled the country’s first commodity options trading with gold.
- The country so far allowed only futures contracts for hedging in commodities.
- MCX will be launching commodity Options on futures’ with MCX Gold 1 Kg futures contracts.
- This development comes exactly after 14 years of futures launch in the country that commenced in 2003.
- Given that Indians were big buyers of gold, the new product would be extremely successful. With appropriate policy measures, it helps to formalise the gold trade.
How does Gold Option work?
- Two types of options —call and put — will be available.
- Buying a call option means the buyer expects prices to go up, and buying a put option means the buyer sees prices falling.
- In both cases, if the expectation of price movements comes true, the premiums for options go up and the buyer benefits. Exactly the reverse happens in selling options.
- The settlement of options will be different from what happens in equities. In equities, options are settled in cash, but in commodities, since the settlement is also allowed in physical deliveries, options will also have that alternative.
- Hence, all options on maturity will devolve into futures or become futures contract, if not squared off before the given time-frame.
- After it becomes futures, all norms of futures will apply.
Against job reservation in private sector, says Niti VC
Joining the debate on job reservations, Niti Aayog vice chairman Rajiv Kumar has said he is against extending the policy to the private sector, while admitting that more efforts are needed to generate more employment.
What propels the demand for reservation in private sector?
- 60 lakh young people join the labour force every year. Many of them do not find any job. Many people used to find some kinds of jobs in informal sector but that has reached a point of saturation. However, the government is able to provide employment to 10 -12 lakh youths.
Therefore, several political leaders are advocating job reservation for SC/ST in private sector.
Pros of reservation in private sector:
- The main purpose of reservation is to allow the representation of backward classes in jobs. If reservation in private sector will be given, this motive seems to fulfill.
- Backward students are yet deprived of high class education. To ensure this, private schools must have reservation for such students.
- Government jobs are not good enough to provide employment to the backward classes. Private sectors jobs and cover the major backward population if reservation is given to them.
- Many private sector firms get government aids and many other tax benefits. Then why not they must have a provision for quota in their jobs?
- Economic backwardness of the Dalits will make them helpless to acquire new skills to compete in the private sector. So, reservation can help them.
- In metro cities, the hiring rate of the Scheduled castes & Scheduled Tribes by the Multi National Companies (MNCs) is almost negligible because of lack of technical skills and English speaking abilities. If reservation is provided to them, they will get a fair chance of representation and learning.
Cons of reservation in private sector:
- Private sector runs on talent and ability. And it is a bitter fact that talent is compromised in reservation.
- Private sector is a profit making enterprise and it is least concerned with the representation of different castes in its workforce.
- This decision will create a huge rift between the upper and lower castes of India as general category people have been complaining about the troubles they face is getting a government job.
- Reservation policy has not yield the desired results and implementing a back fired policy is disastrous for the country.
- The private sector will lose its competitiveness and efficiency to function if people with less talent are hired only on the basis of the caste to which they belong.
- As of now, only private sector is somehow handling the unemployment issue of India. With reservation, even the private sector will explode.
- What if the reserved category personnel are not able to provide desired results? Why should a private firm bear the brunt of hiring incapable staff?
However, several industry associations have maintained over the years that introducing reservations could create hurdles in growth due to dearth in skilled labour and hurt chances of attracting investments in the state.[Ref: Economic Times, The Hindu]
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
Sawfish more threatened than tigers, say scientists
As per the scientists, the sawfish have been sighted off the Indian coast less than 10 times in over a decade and they appear to be more threatened than tigers and elephants.
- The sawfish has been included in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 enacted to save them from exploitation. Sawfishes thus have a protected status similar to tigers and elephants.
- Sawfishes, also known as carpenter sharks, are a family of rays characterized by a long, narrow, flattened rostrum, or nose extension, lined with sharp transverse teeth, arranged in a way that resembles a saw.
- The sawfish family has been assessed either ‘Endangered’ or ‘Critically Endangered’ in the International Union for Conservation of Nature Global Red List, considering their threatened status, high extinction risk and observed population decline.
- There are only five species of the sawfish ever identified — dwarf sawfish, knifetooth sawfish, smalltooth sawfish, largetooth sawfish and green sawfish.
- Sawfish are elasmobranchs, meaning their skeleton is made of cartilage.
- They are closely related to sharks and have shark-shaped bodies and, hence, are also called flat sharks.
- The smalltooth sawfish was once widely distributed, but available data indicate the range of this species has been reduced by about 90%, and population numbers have declined dramatically, perhaps by 95% or more.
Sawfish in India:
- The sawfish may be the most endangered fish species in India.
- They were once common along the Indian coast, especially in the northern Arabian Sea coast including Maharashtra but now has been declined drastically due to several reasons.
- Sawfish, considered “sacred”, were rarely seen over the last few decades.
- Under the guidance of National Plan of Action for Sharks (NPOA), specific plans have been chartered for the protection of sawfishes in India.
International Sawfish Day:
- On 17th October 2017, the first International Sawfish Day was observed globally.
- The aim is to generate awareness about the endangered and critically endangered sawfish species, to educate people on the threats they face and to develop strategies to conserve them.
Defence & Security Issues
More check-posts to come up on Bangladesh border
The Home Ministry moved a Cabinet note to construct seven integrated check-posts (ICPs) along the Bangladesh border to give a fillip to trade and business with the neighbouring country.
- The project was envisaged in 2007. A separate body the Land Port Authority of India (LPAI) was constituted in 2011 to boost trade via the land border points.
- In all, 13 such check-posts have been planned, seven of them along the Bangladesh border.
Need for ICP:
- ICPs help put in place a system to secure the country’s borders against hostile elements.
- It also facilitates trade and commerce and boosts revenue.
- There are many vehicles waiting to cross over to Bangladesh or waiting to enter India that are stuck for over 20 days due to lack of clearance from customs or immigration authorities. An ICP would help eliminate such unnecessary delays.
Facilities provided by ICPs:
- An ICP has several facilities such as passenger terminal building, currency exchange counter, Internet hubs, cargo process building, cargo inspection sheds, warehouse, cold storage, quarantine laboratory, clearing agents, banks, vehicle scanners, isolation bay, parking and cafeteria.
- Expenditure Finance Committee (EFC) was studying the proposal estimated to cost ₹5,000 crore.
- Once the EFC gives the green signal, the proposal will be sent to the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) for final clearance.