08, December 2017

1.Border Protection Grid (BPG)

Source: PIB

The Union Home Minister recently highlighted the importance of having Border Protection Grid (BPG) in the country. The concept was highlighted during the recently held meeting of the Chief Ministers of the Indo-Bangladesh Border (IBB) States, in Kolkata.

BPG:

  • Border Protection Grid (BPG) is a multi-pronged and foolproof mechanism to secure border. The grid will comprise of various elements namely physical barriers, non-physical barriers, surveillance system, Intelligence agencies, State Police, BSF and other State and Central agencies.
  • BPG will be supervised by a State level Standing Committee under the Chairmanship of respective Chief Secretaries.
  • Border security is important to facilitate legitimate trade and commerce between the countries. India has friendly relations with Bangladesh and there is a need to facilitate genuine trade and legitimate cross-border movement of people while curbing radicalization, illegal migration, and smuggling of cattle, fake Indian currency notes and drugs etc. BPG will ensure greater help for the States in the overall border security.
  • Secure borders are also necessary to prevent entry of illegal migrants some of whom have links with extremist groups for furthering anti-national activities with ulterior motives and posing threat to internal security.

Indo- Bangladesh:

  • The Indo-Bangladesh Border covering 5 states of India including Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Tripura and West Bengal is 4096 km long. So far in 3006 km border security infrastructure of fence, roads, floodlights and border out posts (BOPs) are in place and works in the remaining 1090 km are yet to be started.
  • Out of this, 684 km will be secured with fence and the related infrastructure, and the balance 406 km with the non-physical barriers. Although bulk of the infrastructure is in place or under construction, construction in some parts is yet to commence mainly due to land acquisition issues.

2.Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance Bill 2017

Source: PIB

The Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance Bill, 2017 (FRDI Bill), was introduced in the Lok Sabha on August 11, 2017.

  • The bill is presently under consideration of the Joint Committee of Parliament. The Joint Committee is consulting all the stakeholders on the provisions of the FRDI Bill.
  • The committee is now set to invite the RBI governor Urjit Patel to brief the members. It is noteworthy that the bill was opposed by the bank unions who have also requested the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to withdraw this legislation.

FRDI Bill:

  • The Bill would provide for a comprehensive resolution framework for specified financial sector entities to deal with bankruptcy situation in banks, insurance companies and financial sector entities.
  • The Bill when enacted, will pave the way for setting up of the Resolution Corporation. It will also result in the repealing of the Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation Act, 1961 to transfer the deposit insurance powers and responsibilities to the Resolution Corporation.
  • The Resolution Corporation would protect the stability and resilience of the financial system; protecting the consumers of covered obligations up to a reasonable limit; and protecting public funds, to the extent possible.
  • It would lead to repeal or amendment of resolution-related provisions in sectoral Acts as listed in Schedules of the Bill. The proposed Bill complements the Code by providing a resolution framework for the financial sector.

Key facts:

  • The Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance Bill, 2017 seeks to give comfort to the consumers of financial service providers in financial distress.
  • It also aims to inculcate discipline among financial service providers in the event of financial crises by limiting the use of public money to bail out distressed entities.
  • It would help in maintaining financial stability in the economy by ensuring adequate preventive measures, while at the same time providing the necessary instruments for dealing with an event of crisis.
  • The Bill aims to strengthen and streamline the current framework of deposit insurance for the benefit of a large number of retail depositors.
  • The Bill seeks to decrease the time and costs involved in resolving distressed financial entities.

3.Resistance within government to universal social security payments

Source: The Hindu

Labour ministry’s proposal for universal social security payments is facing resistance from other government sections because such a programme would raise overall wage costs.

  • Central ministries and the states have increasingly been hiring contract workers to save on costs as minimum wages are not mandatory in such cases. However, a social security programme would require the employers of contract workers to help pay for it.
  • India’s total workforce stands at 450 million, out of which a little over 10% is in the organised sector, enjoying social security of some sort.

Contract workers in the country:

  • The government appoints contract workers in three categories. First, for work of a routine nature such as housekeeping, maintenance and data entry that’s bundled and entrusted to staffing agencies. Second, contractual appointments for select posts, particularly those that need high professional skills. The third category comprises retired government employees whose skills and expertise acquired during their tenure in government are found useful.
  • According to Seventh Pay Commission data, the union government is one of the biggest users of temporary staff or contract employees, including scheme workers, and spends around Rs 300 crore a year on their wages. The scheme workers refer to the six million who are employed in flagship social sector programmes.

‘Draft code on Social Security and Welfare’:

  • The Centre, in March 2017, proposed a labour code on social security which will provide social security cover to the entire workforce in the country, including self-employed and agricultural workers.
  • According to the code, even households employing domestic help will also have contribute towards schemes including provident fund and gratuity for the worker. Factories employing even a single worker will have to contribute towards social security benefits, as per the proposal.
  • Every working person in the country will be covered under the social security code whether she belongs to the organised sector or the unorganised sector. For the first time, cover to agricultural workers is being provided along with self-employed people. The target is to provide social security benefits to 45 crore workers.
  • The proposed code seeks to cover “any factory, any mine, any plantation, any shop, charitable organisations” and all establishments or households employing casual, part-time, fixed-term, informal, apprentice, domestic and home-based workers. All such establishments or factories will be liable to pay compensation if they fail to contribute towards the social security schemes of the workers.
  • The total contribution to be made by employers towards Employees’ Provident Fund and Employees’ State Insurance Scheme is proposed to be capped at 30% of the workers’ income. At present, employers contribute 31.5% of the workers’ income towards these schemes.
  • According to the proposed code, self-employed workers will contribute 20% of their monthly income towards provident fund, pension and other related schemes. Self-employed workers will also include “a person who takes land on share cropping or any other form of rent, and tills the same using his own or family members’ labour.”
  • All the entities – whether factories or households – will have to register their workers through an Aadhaar-based registration system, according to another proposal, and self-employer workers will be required to register themselves.
  • A National Social Security Council, chaired by the Prime Minister, has been proposed to streamline and make policy on social security schemes related to all the Ministries. Other members would include: Finance Minister, Labour Minister, Health and Family Welfare Minister along with employer and employees’ representatives.

4.UNESCO declares Kumbh Mela as India’s ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage’

Source: Indian Express

The list describes Kumbh Mela as “the festival of the sacred Pitcher” where pilgrims bathe or take a dip in a sacred river.

  • The Kumbh Mela declared as India’s ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage’ by UNESCO.
  • The event was inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by the UN body.
  • The list includes forms of expression that testify to the diversity of the intangible heritage and raise awareness of its importance.

Kumbh Mela:

  • Kumbh Mela is the largest peaceful congregation of pilgrims on earth.
  • The festival, held in Allahabad, Haridwar, Ujjain and Nasik, represents a syncretic set of rituals related to worship and ritual cleansing in holy rivers in India. As a religious festival, the tolerance and inclusiveness that Kumbh Mela demonstrates are especially valuable for the contemporary world.



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