Government Schemes & Policies
- Draft Social Security code is out
- Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana Reaches One Crore Beneficiaries
Issues related to Health & Education
- World Patient Safety Day: Making patient safety a global health priority
- Government portal to offer education technologies using AI for personalised learning
- Malnutrition leading cause for death among children under 5
- What You Should Know About Teaser Loans
Bilateral & International Relations
- No scope for third party role in Kashmir, says India
- PoK and Gilgit Baltistan, parts of J&K under Pak occupation
Defence & Security Issues
- Army conducts exercise in Ladakh, runway reopened in India’s eastern-most village
- With Samudrayaan, India to dive a league under the sea in 2022
Art & Culture
- Sangam civilisation older than thought, says new report
Key Facts for Prelims
- Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders delivers second Scorpene submarine “KHANDERI”
- DSCI, MeitY and Google India join hands for ‘Digital Payment Abhiyan’
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Government Schemes & Policies
Draft Social Security code is out
After years of deliberations, the union government finally circulated the draft social security code, a key labour law proposal that seeks to amalgamate a clutch of existing laws and proposes several new initiatives including universal social security for unorganized sector workers.
Highlights of draft Code on Social Security, 2019
Existing labour laws that the code will merge
The Code on Social Security, 2019 will merge eight exiting labour laws including
- Employees’ Compensation Act, 1923
- Employees‘ State Insurance Act, 1948
- Employees‘ Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952
- Maternity Benefit Act, 1961
- Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972
- Cine Workers Welfare Fund Act, 1981
- Building and Other Construction Workers Cess Act, 1996 and
- Unorganized Workers‘ Social Security Act, 2008
Insurance, PF, life cover for unorganized sector employees
- The draft code says the Central Government shall formulate suitable welfare schemes for unorganised workers on matter relating to life and disability cover; health and maternity benefits and any other benefit as determined by the central government.
- As per draft, the states may also formulate suitable initiatives for unorganized workers, including schemes relating to provident fund, employment injury benefit, housing, educational scheme for their children, old age and funeral assistance.
- Bulk of India’s labour force is in informal sector and this move looks forward looking but most of key initiatives it suggests may be the decision of the states with little contribution from the centre.
Corporatization of EPFO and ESIC
- The pension, insurance and retirement saving bodies including Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) and Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) will be body corporate.
- At present, EPFO and ESIC work more like autonomous bodies run by trustees and board, respectively under the administrative control of Ministry of Labour & Employment.
- The draft also talks about appointment of chief executive officers (CEOs) in these organization indicating that the labour minister, labour secretary, the central PF commissioner and Director General of ESIC will not be by default the head of such organizations.
- It means, the EPFO may become a more structured national body with its entire corpus under the responsibility of a central government-appointed chairman.
Benefits for Gig workers
- It proposes provisions social security schemes such as life and disability insurance, health and maternity benefits for gig workforce (freelancers, independent contractors and temporary/part-time hires) in India.
- Nearly one out four gig workers in the world are from India. The draft proposal comes as California recently approved a law for wage benefit and protection for gig workers such as those working in taxi aggregating companies.
- The draft says, every woman shall be entitled to, and her employer shall be liable for, the payment of maternity benefit at the rate of the average daily wage for the period of her actual absence (the period immediately preceding the day of her delivery, and any period immediately following that day).
- It defines average daily wage as the average of the woman’s wages payable to her for the days on which she has worked during the period of three calendar months immediately preceding the date from which she absents herself on account of maternity.
Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana Reaches One Crore Beneficiaries
Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY) has achieved a significant milestone by crossing one crore beneficiaries.
About Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY)
- It is a Maternity Benefit Programme that is implemented in accordance with the provision of the National Food Security Act, 2013.
- It was previously known as Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana (IGMSY).
- Providing partial compensation for the wage loss in terms of cash incentive s so that the woman can take adequate rest before and after delivery of the first living child.
- The cash incentive provided would lead to improved health seeking behaviour amongst the Pregnant Women and Lactating Mothers (PW& LM).
- It is a direct benefit transfer (DBT) scheme under which cash benefits are provided to pregnant women in their bank account directly to meet enhanced nutritional needs and partially compensate for wage loss.
- Under the Scheme, Pregnant Women and Lactating Mothers (PW&LM) receive a cash benefit of Rs. 5,000 on fulfilling the respective conditionality, viz. early registration of pregnancy, ante-natal check-up and registration of the birth of the child and completion of first cycle of vaccination for the first living child of the family.
- The eligible beneficiaries also receive cash incentive under Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY). Thus, on an average, a woman gets Rs. 6,000.
- It is implemented by the Ministry of Women & Child Development in collaboration with State Governments.
- Implementation of the scheme is closely monitored by the government through PMMVY-CAS (Common Application Software), a web based software application.
- The application is interoperable with UIDAI and Public Financial Management System (PFMS) for authentication of unique beneficiaries. These features have helped in quick implementation of the scheme and eliminating duplication of benefits.
- Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Rajasthan are the top five States/UT in the country in implementation of PMMVY.
- Odisha and Telangana are yet to start implementation of the scheme.
- Under the scheme, the cost sharing ratio between the Centre and the States & UTs with Legislature is 60:40, for North-Eastern States & three Himalayan States, it is 90:10 and 100% Central assistance for Union Territories without Legislature.
Issues related to Health & Education
World Patient Safety Day: Making patient safety a global health priority
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared September 17, 2019 as the first World Patient Safety Day.
World Patient Safety Day
- To mark the importance of patient safety, the first-ever World Patient Safety Day is being observed on September 17, 2019.
- It is launched by WHO as a global campaign ‘Medication without Harm’.
- The day aims to create awareness around patient safety and urge people to show commitment to making healthcare safer.
- The theme for 2019 is ‘Patient Safety: a global health priority’ and the slogan is ‘Speak up for patient safety’.
Need for celebrating Patient safety day
- According to World Health Organization (WHO), up to four out of 10 patients are harmed in primary and ambulatory care settings.
- 134 million adverse events occur each year in hospitals in low middle income countries (LMICs) contributing to 2.6 million deaths annually. However, about 80 per cent of harm in these settings could be avoided.
- 15 per cent of hospital expenses can be attributed to treating patient safety failures in OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries. The most detrimental errors are related to diagnosis, prescription and the use of medicines.
The six International Patient Safety Goals are:
- Identify patients correctly
- Improve effective communication
- Improve the safety of high-alert medications
- Ensure correct site, correct procedure, correct patient surgery
- Reduce risk of health care-associates infections
- Reduce the risk of patient harm resulting from fall
What is patient safety?
- Patient safety is the absence of preventable harm to a patient during the healthcare process and reduction of risk of unnecessary harm associated with healthcare to an acceptable minimum.
- Safety of patients during the provision of health services is a prerequisite for strengthening healthcare systems and making progress towards effective universal health coverage (UHC) under Sustainable Development Goal 3 (ensure healthy lives and promote health and well-being for all at all ages).
- Investments in reducing patient harm can lead to significant financial savings and more importantly better patient outcomes.
Government portal to offer education technologies using AI for personalised learning
Ministry of Human Resource Development has announced a new Public–private partnership (PPP) Scheme, National Educational Alliance for Technology (NEAT) for using AI technology for better learning outcomes in Higher Education.
Salient features of the project
- MHRD would act as a facilitator to ensure that the solutions are freely available to a large number of economically backward students.
- MHRD would create a National NEAT (National Educational Alliance for Technology) platform) that would provide one-stop access to these technological solutions.
- All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) would be the executing agency for the NEAT programme, under the guidance of an Apex Committee constituted by MHRD.
- EdTech companies would be responsible for developing solutions and manage registration of learners through the NEAT portal. They would be free to charge fees as per their policy.
- As their contribution towards the National cause, they would have to offer free coupons to the extent of 25% of the total registrations for their solution through NEAT portal.
[Ref: The Hindu, PIB]
Malnutrition leading cause for death among children under 5
Malnutrition continues to be the leading cause for death among Indian children under the age of five, according to a study led by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
- The study was conducted by the India State-Level Disease Burden Initiative, a joint initiative by the ICMR, Public Health Foundation of India, and Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, in collaboration with the ministry of health and family welfare.
Highlights of the study
- The death rate attributable to malnutrition in under-5 children in India has dropped by two-thirds from 1990 to 2017. Malnutrition is, however, still the underlying risk factor for 68% of the deaths in under-five children in India.
- The Disability-Adjusted Life Years (DALY) rate is highest in Uttar Pradesh and lowest in Kerala. Other states with a high burden are Bihar, Assam and Rajasthan followed by Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Nagaland and Tripura.
- The proportion of under-5 deaths attributable to malnutrition, which is 68 % across India, is highest in Bihar (72.7%) and lowest in Kerala (50.8%). Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh are states with a high such proportion, while Meghalaya, Tamil Nadu, Mizoram and Goa have the lowest proportions of such deaths.
- Among the malnutrition indicators, low birth weight is the largest contributor to child deaths in India, followed by child growth failure which includes stunting, underweight, and wasting.
- Focus on improving the overall nutritional status of girls and women during the preconception and pregnancy period and providing quality antenatal care will improve the low birth weight indicators.
- States should have implement an integrated nutrition policy to effectively address broader determinants of under nutrition across the life cycle. These improvements include providing clean drinking water, reducing rates of open defecation, improving women’s status, enhancing agricultural productivity and food security and political will and good governance.
What You Should Know About Teaser Loans
As the October 1 deadline for banks to link all retail and MSME loans to an external benchmark is nearing, SBI has started the discussion around teaser loans again.
What is a teaser loan?
- Teaser loan is an unofficial term used for loans that offer low, fixed interest rates in the initial few years, but switch to floating rates thereafter.
- This term was first used in 2010 when State Bank of India (SBI) launched a housing loan that charged 8% interest rate in the first year, 9% in the second and third years and changed to a regular floating loan fourth year onwards.
- The scheme was discontinued in 2011 after repeated pushback from RBI.
Why RBI had close the teaser loan scheme?
- A borrower after paying a fixed EMI for 2-3 years may find it difficult to manage unpredictable EMIs later as it can disturb his budget.
- Teaser loans would expose banks and lenders to a high incidence of default as customer might take loan, due to low interest rates, beyond their capacity.
- In 2009-10, RBI’s worries teaser loan was aggravated by the US housing and credit crisis in which several US mortgage lenders had gone bust after extending low-priced home loans to borrowers.
Bilateral & International Relations
No scope for third party role in Kashmir, says India
Announcing the details of Indian Prime Minister’s upcoming visit to the U.S., Foreign Secretary said the Prime Minister will meet U.S. President and pitch for a greater role for India and said that there is no scope for third party intervention in the Kashmir issue.
Significance of upcoming US visit of Indian Prime Minster
- The visit will allow Indian PM to interact with a large number of the smaller countries of the world that have the potential to expand India’s global support base.
- Accordingly, India will host the leaders of CARICOM (Caribbean Community) and FIPIC (Forum for Indo-Pacific Island Cooperation). This will be a continuation of India’s engagement with the smaller countries and island nations of world.
- India will also launch Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) during the visit.
- After India abrogated the Article 370 and remove the special status of Jammu & Kashmir, US President said that he would like to mediate the Kashmir conflict. However, India rejected the US interventions on peace talks between India and Pakistan.
- India argues that mediation has no chance of working better than bilateral agreements, like the Simla Agreement of 1972 that both sides agreed to respect.
- Moreover, in the event of a third-party mediation by the US, it could use its power to impose a solution on Kashmir that might go contrary to India’s stated position.
History of third-party mediation between India-Pakistan
- There have been precedents when India and Pakistan have allowed a third-party to help resolve their issues.
- For example, both nations were able to reach agreements through third party mediators in case of the Indus Waters Treaty and the negotiations on the Rann of Kutch dispute.
- While the Indus Waters Agreement, brokered by the World Bank, led to distribution of the water available in the Indus System of Rivers between India and Pakistan, the Rann of Kutch Accord (mediated by British Prime Minister Harold Wilson) persuaded the combatants to end hostilities and establish a tribunal to resolve the dispute.
- Similarly, during the 1965 Indo-Pakistan war, the then USSR led mediation efforts paved the way for India and Pakistan to withdraw forces from each other’s territories (to their positions before the military engagement) while agreeing to discuss all future matters. This was followed by signing of the ‘Tashkent Declaration’ in Uzbekistan.
PoK and Gilgit Baltistan, parts of J&K under Pak occupation
External Affairs Minister recently said that they expect physical jurisdiction over Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) one day. Defence Minister has also said that any talks with Pakistan would be over PoK and not J&K.
What is Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK)?
- Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) is that part of the Jammu and Kashmir which was invaded by Pakistan in 1947.
- PoK has a population of over 40 lakhs and is divided into 10 districts. The capital of PoK is Muzaffarabad, a town located in the valley of the Jhelum river and its tributary Neelum (which Indians call Kishanganga) to the west and slightly north of Srinagar.
- In 1963, through an agreement, Pakistan gave over 5,000 sq km of J&K land to China in the Shaksgam area, in northern Kashmir, beyond the Karakoram.
Pakistan occupied Kashmir is divided into two parts:
- Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK)
- Gilgit-Baltistan (referred to as the ‘Northern Areas’ till 2009)
Azad Jammu and Kashmir
- Azad Jammu and Kashmir in Pakistan is attached to the western part of Indian Kashmir.
- Gilgit-Baltistan is a hilly region to the north of PoK and east of the Pakistani province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. It is over five times the size of PoK. However, it is sparsely populated, with just under 20 lakh people.
- GB is divided into three administrative divisions and 10 districts.
Significance of GB
- The GB region is strategically important for many reasons as it is a source of vast glaciers feeding the Indus River system that meets Pakistan’s water needs and is a gateway for China to the Indian Ocean through the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
- It also shares borders with several countries – the Punjab and North-West Frontier Province provinces (now called Khyber-Pakhthunkhwa) in Pakistan to the west, the Wakhan Corridor of Afghanistan in the north-west and Xinjiang province of China to the north.
Background of GB
- The British sold Gilgit-Baltistan, along with the rest of Jammu and Kashmir, to the Dogra ruler of Jammu, Gulab Singh, after defeating the Sikh army in 1846.
- However, Britishers retained controlled over the area through a lease of 20 years from the Maharaja to snoop on Russia.
- In 1947, just four days before the British lease was set to expire, Raja Hari Singh acceded the entire state of Kashmir including GB to independent India. However, Pakistan, along with with the Britishers, illegally accede the GB to Pakistan.
- Pakistan got the possession but had no legality. The GB people want Constitutional Status of a province but accession to Pakistan of this disputed territory is not legally tenable hence people of GB were deprived of participation in representative institutions.
- The ‘Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Governance Order of 2009’ for the first time established a Representative Government and Legislature but neither allowed constitutionally guaranteed autonomy like other provinces.
- The GB Legislative Assembly adopted resolutions demanding status of a province till the settlement of the Kashmir dispute. The ‘Gilgit-Baltistan Order of 2018’ vested powers with the Prime Minister to legislate on 68 subjects that reduced the local council to an advisory body.
- The order was challenged in the Supreme Court of Pakistan, which in January, 2019 provided them with provisional representation in the Parliament, till the settlement of the Kashmir dispute.
- The timeline for implementation of the SC directives has already expired but the Pakistani Government has not repealed it so far and GB continues to be governed by an invalid legal instrument.
Administrative status in Gilgit-Baltistan
- Though both PoK and GB are ruled directly from Islamabad, neither is officially listed as the territory of Pakistan, which has just four provinces: Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (which now includes the Federally Administered Tribal areas or FATA), Balochistan, and Sindh.
- PoK and GB are both autonomous territories because incorporating these areas into its Pakistani map would damage Pakistan’s international position in the United Nations.
- For India, on the other hand, as per the resolution passed by Parliament in 1994, PoK and GB are both part of the State of Jammu and Kashmir, which is an integral part of India by virtue of its accession to India in 1947.
Defence & Security Issues
Army conducts exercise in Ladakh, runway reopened in India’s eastern-most village
With an eye on China, the Indian Air Force inaugurated a resurfaced runway in Vijaynagar, in Changlang district of Arunachal Pradesh, the eastern-most inhabited locality of the country, while a massive Army exercise was held in Eastern Ladakh region involving integrated troops of all arms.
- The developments come days after a face-off between Indian and Chinese troops in Ladakh.
- Vijaynagar is surrounded by Myanmar on three sides and the fourth side comprises stretches of Namdapha National Park.
- In the 1960s, Gorkha families of retired Assam Rifles personnel were settled in the area by the Union government. These families and people from the Lisu tribe form the residing community in Vijaynagar.
- Vijaynagar is not connected by road. Construction on a proposed 157-km road connecting it to Miao, the nearest town, was stopped.
About Namdapha National Park
- Namdapha National Park is the largest protected area in the Eastern Himalaya biodiversity hotspot.
- It is located in Arunachal Pradesh.
- It is also the third largest national park in India in terms of area.
- The park harbours the northernmost lowland evergreen rainforests in the world. The area is also known for extensive Dipterocarp forests.
With Samudrayaan, India to dive a league under the sea in 2022
The National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT), Chennai, has undertaken Mission Samudrayaan and started placing orders for the sub-systems of the vessel.
About ‘Samudrayaan’ project
- The ‘Samudrayaan’ project is undertaken by the National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT), Chennai, in line with the ISRO’s ambitious ‘Gaganyaan’ mission of sending an astronaut to space by 2022.
- The project proposes to carry three persons in a submersible vehicle to a depth of 6000 metres under sea to carry out deep underwater studies.
- The ‘Samudrayaan’ is a part of the Ministry of Earth Sciences pilot project of ‘Deep Ocean Mission’.
- It will help India to join the league of developed nations in exploration of minerals from oceans such as manganese nodules which are a rich source of copper, cobalt and nickel. While cobalt is important for modern medicine, nickel is required for making steel.
About National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT)
- The National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) was established in 1993 as an autonomous society under the Ministry of Earth Sciences.
- To develop reliable indigenous technologies to solve the various engineering problems associated with harvesting of non-living and living resources in the Indian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
Art & Culture
Sangam civilisation older than thought, says new report
In a major turning point in the cultural historiography, the Tamil Nadu Archaeology Department has stated that the cultural deposits unearthed during excavations at Keeladi in Sivaganga district could be safely dated to a period between 6th century BCE and 1st century CE.
About the new discovery
- According to accelerator mass spectrometry dating results, carbon samples collected from Keezhadi, the Sangam-era site, have been found to belong to 580 BC.
- This suggests that the Keezhadi samples from could be dated between the 6th century BC and 1st century AD.
Tamil Brahmi script older too
- Recent scientific findings at Keezhadi also prove that the Tamil Brahmi script originated in the 6th century BC.
- People were either literate or at least knew the art of writing as early as the 6th century BC.
- A large number of inscribed potsherds next to a graffiti were found to be in Tamil Brahmi. Several Tamil Brahmi inscribed potsherds were recovered from the excavations.
- The Tamil Brahmi letters were found in shoulder portions of the earthen vessels. These letters were inscribed when the pot was wet or after the pot became dry. This clearly suggests literacy levels in the 6th century BC.
Agrarian society that reared cattle
- The skeletal fragments collected from the site showed that they were of cow/ox, buffalo, sheep, goat, nilgai, blackbuck, wild boar and peacock. The species such as ox, cow, buffalo, goat were used for agriculture.
- The cut marks found on the skeletal remains of goat and wild boar suggested that they were consumed and people mainly depended on agriculture and cattle rearing.
Good quality materials
- The bricks, lime mortar, roof tiles and binding materials collected from the structural remains showed that every specimen contained elements like silica, lime, ferrous, aluminium and magnesium.
- The brick and roof tiles contained more than 80% silica mixed with 7% lime while lime plaster possessed 97% of lime. The materials found at the site were strong and of a good quality.
High standard of living
- A 13-metre long wall was excavated from the site. Well-laid floors along with roof tiles in a collapsed state were found at the site.
- The iron nails were fastened to the poles and rafters proving that the wooden poles must have been placed over the roof. The roof tiles contained finger groove impressions to drain water. Such activities prove a high standard of living during the Sangam age.
About Sangam period
- The ‘Sangam’ describes a period in today’s Tamil Nadu, Kerala, the southern parts of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, and northern Sri Lanka.
- It is named for scholarly congregations in and around the city of Madurai.
- The period is noted for its Tamil literature and its literary output is closely associated with a significant politico-literary movement in early 20th century Tamil Nadu.
- There existed three Sangams (Academy of Tamil poets) in ancient Tamil Nadu popularly called Muchchangam. These Sangams flourished under the royal patronage of the Pandyas.
- The first Sangam, held at Madurai, have no literary work available.
- The second Sangam was held at Kapadapuram but the all the literary works had perished except
- The third Sangam at Madurai was founded by Mudathirumaran. It was attended by a large number of poets who produced voluminous literature but only a few had survived.
Key Facts for Prelims
Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders delivers second Scorpene submarine “KHANDERI”
India’s second Scorpene submarine Khanderi was handed over to the Navy by Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL).
About Khanderi Submarine
- Khanderi is a Kalvari-class diesel-electric attack
- It is designed by French company Naval Group (earlier known as DCNS).
- It will become 17th submarine of the Indian Navy after it is commissioned. It can stay out in the sea for 50 days.
- The submarine ‘KHANDERI’ is named after the wide snouted Saw fish, a deadly sea predator of the great Indian Ocean.
- The first Submarine Khanderi was commissioned into the Indian Navy in 1968 and decommissioned in 1989.
- It is capable of targeting surface ships as well as hunt enemy submarines with its torpedoes.
- It can also carry 30 anti-ship mines in place of torpedoes and missiles.
- It can also undertake intelligence gathering, mine laying and area surveillance
Kalvari class submarine
- The Kalvari class is a class of diesel-electric attack submarines based on the Scorpene-class submarine being built for the Indian Navy.
- There are six submarines under Kalvari class, out of which four submarines – Karanj, Vela, Vagir and Vagsheer are under construction.
- The other two are INS Kalvari (the first submarine of the Scorpene class, commissioned in 2017) and INS Khanderi.
- With the delivery of Khanderi, India further cements its position as a submarine building nation and MDL has lived up to its reputation as one of the India’s leading shipyards with a capacity to meet requirements of the Indian Navy.
DSCI, MeitY and Google India join hands for ‘Digital Payment Abhiyan’
Nasscom’s Data Security Council of India (DSCI) said it has collaborated with the electronics and IT ministry (MeitY) and Google India to launch a nationwide awareness campaign ‘Digital Payment Abhiyan’.
About Digital Payment Abhiyan
- It will educate end-users on the benefits of making digital payments and urge them to adopt security and safety best practices.
- The campaign has been created in seven languages and will make users aware of the dos and don’ts for different payment channels including UPI, wallets, cards as well as netbanking and mobile banking.
- Digital payments are shaping the financial ecosystem by providing citizens with new mediums to pay electronically and move towards a cashless society.
- Hence, all digital payment partners should work together towards providing better digital payment solutions for citizens which are safe, secure and respect user’s privacy.