Workplace sexual harassment is an important issue that deserves more than the intermittent attention it receives when high-profile cases are in the news. This is particularly true in India where legal protection for victims was lacking in statutory cover until a few years ago. Some progress has been made since then—but there is still a considerable distance to go.
India’s response to workplace sexual harassment rests on two pillars –
- The first is guidelines issued by the Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI) in 2012. These guidelines mandate that listed companies must file a Business Responsibility Report annually that lists details of the sexual harassment complaints the company has received.
- The second is the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013. The Supreme Court-issued Vishaka Guidelines in 1997 that outlined procedural guidelines to be followed by establishments where a case of sexual harassment had occurred. The latter was finally put in place a decade and a half later with the Act, which drew heavily upon the Guidelines.
Reviewing the 2013 Act –
There is a sharp rise in the number of complaints (since 2013) which indicates that cases that would have been overlooked earlier are now being reported. That, in turn, shows that companies are making some progress when it comes to putting Act-mandated processes and frameworks in place.
- The Act mandates that employers must constitute a four-member internal complaints committee (ICC) in any branch or office that employs more than 10 people of any gender. The ICC must include a member of a non-governmental organization working for women’s causes—something that may not always be easy due to a paucity of such organizations and individuals.
- The Act also lays the onus for sensitizing employees to sexual harassment issues, and creating awareness of redressal mechanisms, on employers. By all accounts, this has been observed more in the breach.
- When it comes to implementation and accountability of SEBI guidelines, the preponderance of small and medium enterprises—not to mention the size of the informal sector—creates a conundrum. Women in domestic and informal sector have little recourse to institutionalized redressal mechanisms.
- State governments should take on the responsibility of enforcing implementation.
- The Act’s provision that complainants dissatisfied with the ICC’S recommendations can approach the courts is of little practical use in light of delays in judicial process and the harassment women continue to face at the hands of the police in filing such complaints.
- The single best solution to harassment is greater gender diversity at the workplace—an area where India lags conspicuously. How this can best be achieved—improving pipelines is always preferable to hiring quotas—is an important debate.
Tackling workplace sexual harassment is an ethical imperative; such harassment infringes on an individual’s right to freedom of profession and occupation and undercuts the ideals of a modern democracy. And it is an economic imperative; getting and retaining more women, who are disproportionately targets of harassment, in the workforce has the potential to be a major growth driver. The Act is a beginning—but currently, only that.
The Government has launched the ‘Test and Treat Policy for HIV patients’ in April 2017. As per this policy all people living with HIV (PLHIV) are to be treated with Antiretro Viral Therapy regardless of CD4 count, clinical stage, age or population. The National Strategic Plan for HIV/AIDS and STI 2017-2024 has been approved in June 2017.
- Accelerating HIV prevention in key population and ‘at risk group’.
- Expanding quality assured HIV testing with universal access to comprehensive HIV care.
- Elimination of mother to child transmission of HIV and syphilis.
- Addressing the critical enablers in HIV programming.
- Restructuring the strategic information system to be efficient and patient-centric.
Facts and figures –
- As per HIV estimation 2015, India is estimated to have 21 lakhs people infected with HIV and 15.2 lakhs PLHIV know their HIV status through the strategy of scaling up of HIV counselling & testing services in 23,019 health facilities.
- A total of 536 Anti-retroviral Therapy (ART) centres are providing ART treatment across the country.
- The National Guidelines on HIV Counselling & Testing Services (revised in Dec 2016) include the HIV screening through trained ancillary health care provider in community based setting for priority population including High Risk Groups, TB suspect & patients, STI/RTI attendees, sexual partners/ spouses of PLHIV, prison inmates, pregnant women, adolescent age group etc.
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As per latest data, IMR has reduced by 58% in India during the period of 1990-2015 which is more than to Global decline of 49% during the same period. The full immunization coverage also improved from 43.5% in 2005 to 62.0% in 2015 and mortality due to Tuberculosis has reduced from 76 per 1,00,000 in 1990 to 32 per 1,00,000 in 2015.
Steps taken to combat IMR and increasing vaccine coverage under National Health Mission –
- Promotion of Institutional deliveries through cash incentive under Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY) and Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakaram (JSSK) which entitles all pregnant women delivering in public health institutions to absolutely free ante-natal check-ups, delivery including Caesarean section, post-natal care and treatment of sick infants till one year of age.
- Strengthening of delivery points for providing comprehensive and quality Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health (RMNCH+A) Services.
- Newborn Stabilization Units (NBSU) and Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) units for care of sick and small babies.
- Early initiation and exclusive breastfeeding for first six months and appropriate Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) practices are promoted in convergence with Ministry of Women and Child Development.
- Universal Immunization Programme (UIP) is being supported to provide vaccination to children against many life threatening diseases such as Tuberculosis, Diphtheria, Pertussis, Polio, Tetanus, Hepatitis B and Measles.
- Name based tracking of mothers and children till two years of age (Mother and Child Tracking System) is done to ensure complete antenatal, intranatal, postnatal care and complete immunization as per schedule.
- Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK) for health screening, early detection of birth defects, diseases, deficiencies, development delays including disability and early intervention services has been Operationalized to provide comprehensive care to all the children in the age group of 0-18 years in the community.
- Iron and folic acid (IFA) supplementation is being done for the prevention of anaemia among the vulnerable age groups, home visits by ASHAs to promote exclusive breast feeding and promote use of ORS and Zinc for management of diarrhoea in children.
- Capacity building of health care providers – Various trainings are being conducted under National Health Mission (NHM) to build and upgrade the skills of health care providers in basic and comprehensive obstetric care of mother during pregnancy, delivery and essential newborn care.
- Low performing districts have been identified as High Priority Districts (HPDs) which entitles them to receive high per capita funding, relaxed norms, enhanced monitoring and focused supportive supervisions and encouragement to adopt innovative approaches to address their peculiar health challenges.
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A sub-committee had been constituted by the Drugs Consultative Committee (DCC) to examine issues relating to Online Pharmacy Business and sale of drugs. The Sub-Committee has submitted its report to the Drugs Consultative Committee.
The Sub-Committee has inter alia recommended
- Creation of a National Portal to act as the nodal platform for transacting and monitoring Online Pharmacy Business and sale of drugs.
- Necessity of evolving a mechanism to register e-pharmacies.
- Geographical restrictions for operation of e-pharmacies.
- Existing licensees involved in retail sale of drugs could also register on the National Portal for carrying out online sale of drugs.
- Requirement of registration with CDSCO under the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945.
- Certain categories of drugs viz. the Narcotic and Psychotropic drugs, tranquilizers, habit forming drugs and Schedule X drugs that are prone to being abused or misused be excluded from sale through e-pharmacies.
- Online pharmacies laws in India are still in nascent stage and there are no dedicated online pharmacy laws in India. The Information Technology Act 2000 governs some of the legal issues pertaining to online dealings but it is silent on the aspect of online pharmacy. As a result, illegal online pharmacies have been increasing in India. If properly regulated, Online pharmacies in India could prove beneficial to various stakeholders.
- The Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, and the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945, have guidelines on the sale of Schedule H and Schedule X drugs. These can be sold only on prescription and there are specific rules, including for labelling. As most of the online pharmacies in India are not complying with Indian laws and the laws of other jurisdictions, they have been facing regulatory sanctions.
The Government has issued a notice seeking public comments on regulation of sale of drugs including introduction of an electronic platform for regulation of sale of drugs in the country.
Details of Defence Agreements signed with Russia over the past five years is as under
- Defence Agreements for training of Indian armed forces personnel in the military educational establishments of the Defence Ministry of the Russian Federation. (Date of signing 11.12.2014).
- Agreement between the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of India and the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation on cooperation in Aircraft flight safety. (Date of signing 21.01.2015).
- Agreement between the Government of the Republic of India and the Government of the Russian Federation on cooperation in the field of Helicopter Engineering. (Date of signing 24.12.2015).
- Agreement between the Government of the Russian Federation and the Government of the Republic of India on supply of S-400 Triumph Air Defence Missile systems to the Republic of India. (Date of signing 15.10.2016).
- Defence Agreements between the Government of the Russian Federation and the Government of the Republic of India for construction of follow-on-ships of project 11356 in Russia and in India (Date of signing 15.10.2016).
India-Russia defence relations
India and Russia have several major joint military programmes including –
- BrahMos cruise missile programme
- 5th generation fighter jet programme
- Sukhoi Su-30MKI programme (230+ to be built by Hindustan Aeronautics)
- Ilyushin/HAL Tactical Transport Aircraft
Additionally, India has purchased/leased various military hardware from Russia
- S-400 Triumf 12.
- Kamov Ka-226 200 to be made in India under the Make in India initiative.
- T-90S Bhishma with over 1000 to be built in India.
- Akula-II nuclear submarine (2 to be leased with an option to buy when the lease expires).
- INS Vikramaditya aircraft carrier programme.
- Tu-22M3 bombers (4 ordered).
- US$900 million upgrade of MiG-29.
- Mil Mi-17 (80 ordered) more in Service.
- Ilyushin Il-76 Candid (6 ordered to fit Israeli Phalcon radar).
- The Farkhor Air Base in Tajikistan is currently jointly operated by Indian Air Force and Tajikistan Air Force.
Defence Agreements | Conclusion
The Government makes all efforts to encourage greater manufacturing of defence equipment in India through the ‘Make in India’ framework, including through transfer of technology arrangements. Several licensed production agreements have been implemented with Russian companies in India, such as for Sukhoi-30 aircraft, T-90 tanks, BMP-2 armoured personnel carriers etc. Divulging the texts of such Agreements will not be in the interest of national security.
Minister of Railways dedicated to the nation the first 1600 HP DEMU train with Solar Powered Coaches with a unique facility of Battery Bank.
- The entire electrical need of the coaches for Lighting, Fans and Information Display System will be met from the Solar Energy produced from the solar panels fitted in the roofs of coaches.
- While this train has been manufactured by the Coach Factory of Indian Railways namely Integral Coach Factory (ICF), Chennai, its Solar panels and Solar systems have been developed and fitted by Indian Railways Organisation of Alternative Fuel (IROAF) Delhi.
- This first rake has been commissioned and based at Shakurbasti DEMU shed in Delhi of Northern Railway. Twenty-four more coaches will be fitted with this system within the next 6 months. The first rake will be put in the commercial service over the suburban railway system of Delhi division of Northern Railway.
- Normally, DEMU trains provide power for its passenger comfort systems – lights and fans – from a diesel driven generator fitted on its Driving Power Car (DPC).
- IROAF has developed this system with a smart MPPT inverter which optimises power generation on a moving train to cater to full load even during the night.
- The unique feature of Battery Bank through storage battery ensures sufficient electricity when the sunlight is not available.
- The system helps in reducing Diesel consumption of the DPC and hence reduces carbon signature of these commuter trains by reducing CO2 generation by 9 Tonnes per coach per year.
A solar power DEMU train with six trailer coaches will save about 21,000 Litres of Diesel and thereby bring cost saving of Rs.12 Lac every year. Savings for a 10 coach rake with 8 trailer coaches will increase proportionately. These benefits will continue for entire 25 years’ life time of the rake. This will help in making DEMU commuter services better, more economical and environment friendly.
Other important facts
- Indian Railways is trying to increase use of non-conventional sources of energy. More solar powered trains may be inducted in future. Indian Railways has already made a target of 1000 MW Solar Plants in next five-years.
- Indian Railways is also taking several others environment friendly measures like Tea Plantation, Bio-toilet, Water-Recycling, Waste Disposal, using Bio-fuel CNG and LNG, Wind Energy etc.
The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Government of India, signed an Institutional agreement with the Punjab State Council of Science and Technology in New Delhi today to establish India’s first Technology and Innovation Support Centre (TISC) at Patent Information Centre, Punjab, under the World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO) TISC program.
The objective of the Technology and Innovation Support Centre is to stimulate a dynamic, vibrant and balanced Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) system in India to foster creativity and innovation, thereby promoting entrepreneurship and enhancing social, economic and cultural development by establishing a network of Technology and Innovation Support Centres in India.
Services offered by Technology and Innovation Support Centre include
- Access to online patent and non-patent (scientific and technical) resources and IP-related publications;
- Assistance in searching and retrieving technology information;
- Training in database search;
- On-demand searches (novelty, state-of-the-art and infringement);
- Monitoring technology and competitors;
- Basic information on industrial property laws, management and strategy, and technology commercialization and marketing.
- The Cell for IPR Promotion and Management (CIPAM) is designated as the National Focal Point for the TISC national network.
- As the national focal point, CIPAM shall identify potential host institutions, assess their capacities and support them in joining the TISC program.
- CIPAM will also act as the main intermediary between WIPO and TISC host institutions and coordinate all the activities of the national TISC network.
WIPO’s Technology and Innovation Support Centre program provides innovators in developing countries with access to locally based, high quality technology information and related services, helping them to exploit their innovative potential and to create, protect, and manage their Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs).
Over 500 Technology and Innovation Support Centres operate worldwide and establishing TISC in India will give the host institutions an access to the global network. In upcoming years, CIPAM is planning to establish TISCs in Universities, State Science Councils, R&D institutions etc. TISC will give an impetus to knowledge sharing, sharing of best practices among the TISCs, capacity building, generation and commercialization of IPs.
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for upgradation and widening of 65 kms of Imphal-Moreh Section of NH-39 in Manipur at a cost of Rs. 1630.29 crores.
SASEC | Details
- Manipur being a landlocked state with almost 90% of the area under difficult terrain presently has only road transport as a means of mass transport system within the state. Hence development of the road infrastructure is of paramount importance to improve connectivity and progress of the State and to ensure that the administrative set up reaches the isolated and remote habitats.
- The project will improve connectivity between Imphal with the eastern part of the state. Based on the existing and projected traffic requirements the NH-39 will be widened to 4 lane between Lilong village and Wanginj village, while the stretch between Wanginj village to Khongkhang will be upgraded to 2 lane with paved shoulder.
SASEC | Financing of the project
The project is being developed with ADB’s loan assistance under the South Asian Sub-Regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) Road Connectivity Investment Program which aims at upgradation of road infrastructure in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and India (BBIN) in order to improve the regional connectivity among BBIN nations.
SASEC | Significance
- The project corridor is also a part of the Asian Highway No. 01 (AH01) and acts as India’s Gateway to the East. Thus trade, commerce and tourism in the region will get a boost.
- The workers of Manipur who specialize in creating bamboo and wood based handicraft items and uniquely designed hand woven textile items will get a new market among the Myanmar’s customers.
- Small scale industries such as those making farm implements and tools, stationery, plastic extrusion items, carpentry units, could also develop markets beyond the border.
- Besides socio-economic development the project will also lead to reduction in average travel time along the project road by nearly 40%.
- In addition, the new features of road safety namely vehicular underpasses, crash barriers, road signs & markings, service roads for segregation of slow and high moving traffic, truck lay-by, bus-bays etc. will help in greatly reducing accidents.
- Improved highway and lesser travel time will lead to savings in terms of fuel cost.
SASEC | Background
For fulfilling India’s “Look East” Policy and to promote and enhance trade link with South East Asia, the Government of India has notified an Integrated Custom Post (ICP) at Moreh. The development of this project is essential in order to support the increased traffic volume due to coming up of ICP.
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The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the establishment of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), South Asia Regional Centre (ISARC) at campus of National Seed Research and Training Centre (NSRTC) in Varanasi.
ISARC | Details
- Under the proposal, a Centre of Excellence in Rice Value Addition (CERVA) will be set up in Varanasi.
- This will include a modern and sophisticated laboratory with capacity to determine quality and status of heavy metals in grain and straw.
- The Centre will also undertake capacity building exercises for stakeholders across the rice value chain.
- This Centre will be the first international Centre in the eastern India and it will play a major role in harnessing and sustaining rice production in the region. It is expected to be a boon for food production and skill development in the eastern India and similar ecologies in other South Asian and African countries.
Benefits from ISARC
- The Centre will help in utilizing the rich biodiversity of India to develop special rice varieties.
- This will help India to achieve higher per hectare yields and improved nutritional contents.
- India’s food and nutritional security issues will also be addressed.
- The Centre will support in adopting value chain based production system in the country. This will reduce wastage, add value and generate higher income for the farmers.
- The farmers in Eastern India will benefit in particular, besides those in South Asian and African countries.
Management of ISARC
- ISARC will operate under the governance of the IRRI Board of Trustees who will appoint an appropriate IRRI staff member as Director.
- A Coordination Committee will be headed by Director General, IRRI as Chair and Secretary, Government of India, Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare (DACFW) as Co-Chair.
- The other members of Coordination Committee are Deputy Director General (Crop Sciences), ICAR; Director, NSRTC; IRRI representative in India, representative of Government of UP and representatives of Governments of Nepal & Bangladesh and Private Sector.
Shri J P Nadda, the Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare launched the National Strategic Plan for Malaria Elimination 2017-22.
National Strategic Plan For Malaria Elimination | Details
- The Strategic Plan gives details about year wise elimination targets in various parts of the country depending upon the endemicity of malaria in the next 5 years.
- Recalling the launch of the National Framework for Malaria Elimination (NFME) last year, Shri Nadda had stated that NFME outlined India’s commitment for eliminating malaria by 2030.
- National Strategic Plan for Malaria Elimination (2017-22) gives strategies for working towards the ultimate goal of elimination of malaria by 2030.
- Encouraging results have been achieved in the North East India and the efforts are now focussed in other states such as Jharkhand, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.
National Strategic Plan For Malaria Elimination | Features of the plan
The strategies involve strengthening malaria surveillance, establishing a mechanism for early detection and prevention of outbreaks of malaria, promoting the prevention of malaria by the use of Long Lasting Impregnated Nets (LLINs), effective indoor residual spray and augmenting the manpower and capacities for effective implementation for the next five years.
- Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease affecting humans and other animals caused by parasitic protozoans (a group of single-celled microorganisms) belonging to the Plasmodium type.
- Malaria causes symptoms that typically include fever, feeling tired, vomiting, and headaches. In severe cases it can cause yellow skin, seizures, coma, and / or death.
- The methods used to prevent malaria include medications, mosquito elimination and the prevention of bites. There is no vaccine for malaria. The presence of malaria in an area requires a combination of high human population density, high anopheles’ mosquito population density and high rates of transmission from humans to mosquitoes and from mosquitoes to humans.