Government Schemes & Policies
- Cabinet approves code to allow fixed-term employment
- Parliament passes Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial (Amendment) Bill 2019
- Cabinet approves proposal for Recycling of Ships Bill, 2019
Issues related to Health & Education
- Cabinet approves establishment of the National Institute of Sowa Rigpa (NISR) at Leh
Science & Technology
- Cabinet approves the Patent Prosecution Highway programme
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Government Schemes & Policies
Cabinet approves code to allow fixed-term employment
The Union cabinet approved the Labour Code on Industrial Relations 2019, allowing companies to hire workers on fixed-term contract of any duration.
ABOUT THE LABOUR CODE ON INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS 2019
- Labour Code on Industrial Relations is one of the four labour codes.
- The code on Industrial Relations will combine Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, the Trade Unions Act, 1926, and the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE LABOUR CODE ON INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS 2019
- Allows companies to hire workers on fixed-term contract of any duration. Fixed-term employment means a worker can be hired for any duration, three months or six months or a year depending on season and orders.
- Retained the threshold on the worker count at 100 for prior government approval before retrenchment. It also means that all workers will be treated at par with regular workers for benefits. However, it has provision for changing such number of employees through notification.
- Provide for setting up of a two-member tribunal (in place of one member) wherein important cases will be adjudicated jointly and the rest by a single member, resulting speedier disposal of cases.
- Vested powers with the government officers for adjudication of disputes involving penalty as fines, thereby lessening the burden on tribunal.
The industrial relations code is the third out of four labour codes that have got approval from the cabinet. The Labour Code on Wages has already been approved by Parliament in August while the Labour Code on Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions has been referred to the standing committee of labour.
In June 2019, the central government has decided to merge 44 labour laws under four categories:
- Labour Codes on Wages
- Labour Codes on Industrial Relations
- Labour Codes on Social Security
- Labour Codes on Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions
The Labour Code on Wages has already been approved by Parliament while the Labour Code on Occupational Safety and Code on Social security are not been approved yet.[Ref: PIB, Economic Times]
Parliament passes Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial (Amendment) Bill 2019
Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial (Amendment) Bill, 2019 which seeks the removal of the Congress president as a trustee of the memorial was passed by the Parliament.
ABOUT THE JALLIANWALA BAGH NATIONAL MEMORIAL (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2019
- The Bill amends the Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial Act, 1951.
- The Act provides for the erection of a National Memorial in memory of those killed on April 13, 1919, in Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar. In addition, the act creates a Trust to manage the National Memorial.
FEATURES OF THE BILL
Composition of Trustees:
- Under the 1951 Act, the Trustees of the Memorial include: (i) the Prime Minister as Chairperson, (ii) President of the Indian National Congress, (iii) Minister in-charge of Culture, (iv) Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, (v) Governor of Punjab, (vi) Chief Minister of Punjab, and (vii) three eminent persons nominated by the central government.
- The Bill amends this provision to remove the President of the Indian National Congress as a Trustee. Further, it clarifies that when there is no Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, then the leader of the single largest opposition party will be the Trustee.
Trustees nominated by the central government
- The Act provides that the three trustees nominated by the central government will be trustees for a period of five years and will be eligible for renomination. The Bill allows the central government to terminate the term of a nominated trustee before the expiry of his term without assigning any reason.
CHANGES MADE IN THE BILL:
- The 2019 amendment bill removes the President of the Indian National Congress as a Trustee.
- It clarifies that when there is no Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, the leader of the single largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha will be the Trustee.
- The 1951 act provided that the three eminent persons nominated by the central government will have a term of five years and will be eligible for re-nomination. The 2019 bill added a clause to allow the central government to terminate the term of a nominated trustee before the expiry of his term without assigning any reason.
Cabinet approves proposal for Recycling of Ships Bill, 2019
The Union Cabinet has approved the proposal for enactment of Recycling of Ships Bill, 2019 and accession to the Hong Kong International Convention for Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, 2009.
ABOUT RECYCLING OF SHIPS BILL, 2019
- The bill aims to provide for the regulation of recycling of ships by setting certain international standards and laying down the statutory mechanism for enforcement of such standards.
- When the Hong Kong International Convention for Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, 2009 comes into force, its provisions will be implemented under the provisions of the Recycling of Ships Bill, 2019.
Prohibits hazardous material
- The proposed bill restricts and prohibits the use or installation of hazardous material, which applies irrespective of whether a ship is meant for recycling or not.
- For new ships, such restriction or prohibition on use of hazardous material will be immediate, while existing ships shall have a period of five years for compliance. Restriction or prohibition on use of hazardous material would not be applied to warships and non-commercial ships operated by Government. Ships shall be surveyed and certified on the inventory of hazardous material used in ships.
- Ship recycling facilities are required to be authorized and ships shall be recycled only in such authorized ship recycling facilities.
Ship-specific recycling plan
- Ships shall be recycled in accordance with a ship-specific recycling plan. Ships to be recycled in India shall be required to obtain a Ready for Recycling Certificate in accordance with the Hong Kong International Convention (HKC).
WHAT IS HONG KONG INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION?
- The Hong Kong International Convention for the safe and environmentally sound recycling of ships is a multilateral convention adopted in 2009.
- It has not entered into force yet.
- It is aimed at ensuring that ships, when being recycled after reaching the end of their operational lives, do not pose any unnecessary risk to human health and safety or to the environment.
- The Convention was developed with input from International Maritime Organization, International Labour Organization and the Parties to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal.
- Regulations in the Convention cover the design, construction, operation and preparation of ships.
- Upon entry into force of the Hong Kong Convention, ships to be sent for recycling will be required to carry an inventory of hazardous materials, which will be specific to each ship.
CONDITION FOR THE ENFORCEMENT OF THE CONVENTION
- 15 ratifications by countries that represents 40% of the world merchant shipping by gross tonnage (Currently, out of 15, 14 countries are member of this convention including India).
- During the preceding 10 years, the combined maximum annual ship recycling volume of those States must constitute minimum 3 % of their combined merchant shipping tonnage.
WHY SHIP RECYCLING IS HAZARDOUS TO ENVIRONMENT AND WORKERS?
- Ships sold for scrapping may contain environmentally hazardous substances such as asbestos, heavy metals, hydrocarbons, ozone depleting substances and others.
- Shipbreaking is carried out mainly in the informal sector and is rarely subject to safety controls or inspection.
- Large amounts of carcinogens and toxic substances not only intoxicate workers but are also dumped into the soil and coastal waters.
- An average size ship contains up to 7 tonnes of asbestos which is often sold in the local communities after scrapping. Asbestos, particularly used in engine rooms because of its thermal insulation, when breaks into fine fibres, suspends in the air for long periods of time and can lead to fatal diseases such as lung cancer if inhaled.
- Majority of shipyards have no waste management systems to prevent pollution.
- India is the leader in the global ship recycling industry, with a share of over 30% of the market.
- The ship-recycling industry is a labour-intensive sector, but it is susceptible to concerns on environmental safety.
- 90 % of ship-breaking in the world is carried out in Bangladesh, China, India, Pakistan and Turkey.
- India handles around 5 million ship gross tonnage (MnGT) annually, which is around 25% share of the world’s ship recycling industry. The Indian government plans to nearly double this by 2024, at around 9 MnGT.
Issues related to Health & Education
Cabinet approves establishment of the National Institute of Sowa Rigpa (NISR) at Leh
The Cabinet approved the establishment of the National Institute for Sowa-Rigpa in Leh as an autonomous organization under the Ministry of AYUSH and to create the post of Director in Level -14 to oversee implementation of the project from the construction stage itself.
ABOUT NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR SOWA-RIGPA
- It is an as an autonomous organization under the Ministry of AYUSH.
- It is located at Leh.
- It aims to promote Sowa-Rigpa system of medicine and to promote interdisciplinary research & education of Sowa-Rigpa.
- It will also aim for possible co-relation with bio-molecular western medicine in providing health care facilities.
- It will facilitate quality education, standardization and safety evaluation of Sowa-Rigpa products, standardized Sowa-Rigpa based tertiary health delivery.
- Sowa-Rigpa is a Traditional Medical system of the Himalayan belt in India.
- It is commonly known as Amchi system of medicine and is one of the oldest and well documented medical tradition of the world.
- It originated in Tibet and popularly practiced in countries namely, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Mongolia, and Russia.
- Yuthog Yonten Gonpo from Tibet is believed to be the father of Sowa Rigpa.
- It has been popularly practiced in Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Darjeeling (West Bengal), Himachal Pradesh, Ladakh and now all over India.
- Dharamshala in Himanchal Pardesh and Ladakh region of J&K are the main Centers for Sowa-Rigpa in India.
- Bachelor in Tibetan Medical System (Amchi Chikitsa Acharya) is presently conducted in four Institutions in India.
The basic theory of Sowa-Rigpa may be adumbrated in terms of the following five points:
- The body in disease as the locus of treatment
- Antidote, i.e., the treatment
- The method of treatment through antidote
- Medicine that cures the disease
- Materia Medica, Pharmacy & Pharmacology
Principles of Sowa-Rigpa
- Majority of theory and practice of Sowa-Rigpa is similar to Ayurveda.
- Based on the principles of Jung-wa-nga (panchamahabhutas) and Ngepa-Sum (Tridosa).
- Bodies of all the living beings and non-living objects of the universe are composed of Jung-wa-nga (Prithvi, Jal, Agni, Vayu and Akash). When the proportion of these elements is in imbalance in our body disorder results.
- In drugs, diet and drinks exist in the form of Ro-dug (Shast-rasa) Nus-pa (Virya), Yontan (Guna) and Zhu-jes (Vipaka).
Science & Technology
Cabinet approves the Patent Prosecution Highway programme
The Union Cabinet has approved the proposal for adoption of Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) programme by the Indian Patent Office (IPO) under the Controller General of Patents, Designs & Trade Marks, India (CGPDTM) with patent offices of various other interest countries or regions.
ABOUT INDIAN PATENT PROSECUTION HIGHWAY (PPH)
- The programme will initially commence between Japan Patent Office (JPO) and Indian Patent Office on pilot basis for a period of three years.
- Under this Pilot programme, Indian Patent Office may receive patent applications in certain specified technical fields only, namely, Electrical, Electronics, Computer Science etc while JPO may receive applications in all fields of technology.
- Reduction in time to dispose patent applications.
- Reduction in pendency of patent applications.
- Improvement in quality of search and examination of patent applications.
- An opportunity for Indian inventors including MSMEs and Start-ups of India to get accelerated examination of their patent applications in Japan.
ABOUT PATENT PROSECUTION HIGHWAY (PPH)
- The Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) is a set of initiatives for providing accelerated patent prosecution procedures by sharing information between patent offices.
- An updated PPH 2.0 system under the program name “Mottainai” (a Japanese word meaning “wasteful”) began among several national patent offices in mid-2011.
WHAT IS A PATENT?
- A patent is a right granted to an inventor by the government that permits the inventor to exclude others from making, selling or using the invention for a period of time.
- Patents provide an incentive for companies or individuals to continue developing innovative products or services without the fear of infringement.
- Large pharmaceutical companies can spend billions of rupees on research and development. Without patents, their drugs and medicines could be duplicated and sold by companies that didn’t research or invest the needed capital for R&D.