Polity & Governance
- Extension of tenure of the Commission constituted under Article 340
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- India bans toxic chemical hydrochlorofluorocarbon
Bilateral & International Relations
- Cabinet clears decks for more seafarer jobs
Art & Culture
- KVIC seeks international trademark for khadi items
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Polity & Governance
Extension of tenure of the Commission constituted under Article 340
The Union Cabinet has approved the extension of the term of the Commission to examine the issue of Sub-categorization of Other Backward Classes till July 2020.
- The Commission was constituted under article 340 of the Constitution with the approval of President in 2017.
- The Commission has since interacted with all the Stats/UTs which have subcategorized OBCs, and the State Backward Classes Commissions.
- The Commission has come to the view that it would require some more time to submit, its report appearing in the existing Central List of OBCs need to be cleared.
Objective of commission:
- To examine the extent of inequitable distribution of benefits of reservation among the castes/communities included in the broad category of OBCs, with reference to the OBCs included in the Central list.
- To work out the mechanism, criteria, norms and parameters, in a scientific approach, for sub-categorisation within such OBCs.
- To take up the exercise of identifying the respective castes/communities/sub-castes/synonyms in the Central List of OBCs and classifying them into their respective sub-categories.
Article 340 of the Constitution of India:
- Article 340 calls for the appointment of a Commission to investigate the conditions of backward classes.
- The President may by order appoint a Commission consisting of such persons as he thinks fit to investigate the conditions of socially and educationally backward classes within the territory of India and the difficulties under which they labour.
- They can then make recommendations as to the steps that should be taken by the Union or any State to remove such difficulties and to improve their condition.
Need for such Commission:
- Sub-categorisation of the OBCs will ensure that the more backward among the OBC communities can also access the benefits of reservation for educational institutions and government jobs.
- The Commission is likely to make recommendations for benefit of marginalized communities in the Central List of OBCs.
Benefits of Commission:
- All persons belonging to the castes/communities which are included in the Central List of SEBCs but which have not been able to get any major benefit of the existing scheme of reservation for OBCs in Central Government posts & for admission in Central Government Educational Institutions would be benefitted.
- The Second Backward Classes Commission or Mandal Commission (headed BP Mandal) was established in 1979 to investigate the conditions of socially and educationally backward classes within the territory of India.
- The commission’s report stimulated a section of the Indian population, known as OBCs, and instigated a fierce debate on the policy for underprivileged and underrepresented groups in Indian politics.
- It recommended 27% reservation for OBC candidates in central government services and educational institutions.
Indra Sawhney and others vs Union of India (1992):
- In this case, the Supreme Court observed that “there is no constitutional/legal bar” to a state categorising backward classes as backward or more backward and had further observed that “if a state chooses to do it (sub-categorisation), it is not impermissible in law”.
- The First Backward Class Commission was set up under the chairmanship of Kaka Kalelkar in January 1953.
- So far, nine states, namely Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Puducherry, Karnataka, Haryana, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Bihar and Tamil Nadu, have carried out sub-categorisation of OBCs.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
India bans toxic chemical hydrochlorofluorocarbon
With an aim to combat climate change, India has banned import of toxic chemical hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC)-141b used in the production of rigid polyurethane (PU) foams by foam manufacturers from January 1, 2020.
- Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) are a large group of compounds, whose structure is very close to that of Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) but including one or more hydrogen atoms.
- Under normal conditions, HCFCs are gases or liquids which evaporate easily. They are generally fairly stable and unreactive.
- HCFCs do not usually dissolve in water, but do dissolve in organic (carbon-containing) solvents.
- HCFCs are chemically similar to Hydrobromofluorocarbons (HBFCs), Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and Halons and therefore display some similar properties, though they are much less stable and persistent.
- HCFCs are also part of a group of chemicals known as the volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
- At present, HCFCs are used in various sectors like refrigeration and air conditioning (RAC) and foam manufacturing.
- HCFCs are a group of man-made compounds containing hydrogen, chlorine, fluorine and carbon and do not occur naturally anywhere.
- The production of HCFC began to increase after countries agreed to phase out the use of CFCs in the 1980s.
- Unlike CFCs, most HCFCs are broken down in the lowest part of the atmosphere and pose a much smaller risk to the ozone layer. However, they are still very potent greenhouse gases.
Environmental impacts of Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs):
- As VOCs, they may be slightly involved in reactions to produce ozone, which can cause damage to plants and materials on a local scale.
- At a global level however, releases of HCFCs have serious environmental consequences. Although not as stable and therefore not so persistent in the atmosphere as CFCs, HBFCs or Halons, they can still end up in the higher atmopshere (stratosphere) where they can destroy the ozone layer, thus reducing the protection it offers the earth from the sun’s harmful UV rays.
- HCFCs also contribute to Global Warming (through “the Greenhouse Effect”). Although the amounts emitted are relatively small, they have a powerful warming effect (a very high “Global Warming Potential”).
Hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC)-141 b:
- It is a chemical used by foam manufacturing enterprises and one of the most potent ozone depleting chemical after Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).
- HCFC-141 b is used mainly as a blowing agent in the production of rigid polyurethane (PU) foams.
- HCFC-141b that damage the earth’s ozone layer, was not produced in India, all the domestic requirements were being met through imports.
- The use of HCFC-141 b by foam manufacturing industry has also been closed as on 1st January 2020 under the Ozone Depleting Substances (Regulation and Control) Amendment Rules, 2014.
- Nearly 50 per cent of the consumption of ozone-depleting chemicals in the country was attributable to HCFC-141 b in the foam sector.
- The complete phase-out of HCFC 141 b from the India in the foam sector is among the first at this scale in Article 5 parties (developing countries) under the Montreal Protocol.
- Under the HCFC Phase-out Management Plan (HPMP), the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change also adopted a structured approach to engage with foam manufacturing enterprises for providing technical and financial assistance in order to transition to non- Ozone Depleting Substances and low Global Warming Potential technologies.
Bilateral & International Relations
Cabinet clears decks for more seafarer jobs
The Cabinet approved the model memorandum of understanding (MoU) for unilateral or bilateral recognition of certificates of competency of seafarers, which will help Indian seafarers find opportunities on ships under the flag of other countries.
- The MoU has been approved pursuant to Regulation International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) of Seafarers, 1978 to be signed between the Directorate General of Shipping, Government of India and its counterparts in foreign countries.
- The unilateral MoU would facilitate unilateral recognition by another country of the certificates issued by the Directorate General of Shipping to Indian seafarers, without seeking similar recognition by India of the certificates issued by that country.
- The proposed bilateral MoU will enable India and another country to mutually recognize maritime education and training, certificates of competency, endorsements, documentary evidence of training and medical fitness certificates, issued to the seafarers.
- India being a seafarer supplying nation with large pool of trained seafarers will stand to be benefitted.
- Indian Seafarers will be eligible to be placed on ships under the flag of that country for employment, thus leading to increased employment opportunities.
- International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW), 1978 sets minimum qualification standards for masters, officers and watch personnel on seagoing merchant ships and large yachts.
- STCW was adopted in 1978 by conference at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) entered into force in 1984.
- The Convention was the first to establish minimum basic requirements on training, certification and watchkeeping for seafarers on an international level.
- It applies to ships of non-party States when visiting ports of States which are Parties to the Convention.
- The Manila amendments to the STCW Convention and Code were adopted on in 2010, marking a major revision of the STCW Convention and Code.
Art & Culture
KVIC seeks international trademark for khadi items
State-owned Khadi Village Industries Corporation is eyeing international trademark for ‘khadi’ under the Paris Convention for protection of industrial property to prevent any product from masquerading as ‘khadi’ nationally or globally.
- KVIC is fighting cases in several countries including Germany for violation of the Khadi Mark regulations.
- The Regulations issued in 2013 by the ministry of micro, small and medium enterprises, empower KVIC to grant ‘Khadi Mark’ registration and take royalties from any producer using the Khadi mark.
THE PARIS CONVENTION:
- The Paris Convention is a multilateral treaty dealing with the protection of industrial property in the widest sense.
- It is administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
- Paris Convention protects armorial bearings, flags and other State symbols of the States part to the convention, including official signs, and hallmarks indicating control and warranty adopted by them.
- As of January 2019, the Convention has 177 contracting member countries.
KHADI AND VILLAGE INDUSTRIES COMMISSION (KVIC):
- It is a Statutory body formed by the Government of India under the Act of Parliament, ‘Khadi and Village Industries Commission Act of 1956’.
- It is an apex organisation under the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises.
- In April 1957, it took over the work of former All India Khadi and Village Industries Board.
- World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is one of the specialised agencies of the United Nations dealing with the protection and promotion of intellectual property rights.
- In an initiative to prevent misuse of trademark and symbolsof Khadi, KVICseeking International Trademark protection of symbol of ‘Charkha’ under the Article 6 of the Paris Convention.