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April 10, 2021
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April 13, 2021
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12th April Current Affairs

Food sector incentive gets Cabinet nod

In News:

The Union Cabinet has approved a production-linked incentive scheme for the food processing industry with an outlay of ₹10,900 crore.

Objectives of the scheme:

  • Support creation of global food manufacturing champions.
  • Strengthen select Indian brand of food products for global visibility and wider acceptance in the international markets.
  • Increase employment opportunities of off-farm jobs.
  • Ensure remunerative prices of farm produce and higher income to farmers.

Applicability:

The scheme would cover ready-to-cook and ready-to-eat foods, processed fruits and vegetables, marine products and mozzarella cheese, organic products, free-range eggs, poultry meat and egg products.

The applicants selected for the scheme would be required to invest in plant and machinery in the first two years.

Background:

In all, 13 PLI schemes are being rolled out, including those for automobiles, pharmaceuticals, IT hardware including laptops, mobile phones & telecom equipment, white goods, chemical cells and textiles.

WEF’s global gender gap report

In News:

World Economic Forum has released the Global Gender Gap Report 2021.

India specific findings:

Overall Ranking: India has fallen 28 places- it is now ranked 140 among 156 countries.

Among Neighbours: It is now one of the worst performers in South Asia, trailing behind neighbours Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Myanmar.

Political empowerment: India has declined on the political empowerment index as well by 13.5 percentage points.

In the index of education attainment, India has been ranked at 114.

India has fared the worst on “Health and Survival”, which includes the sex ratio, and economic participation of women.

The estimated earned income of women in India is only one-fifth of men’s, which puts the country among the bottom 10 globally on this indicator.

Global Scenario:

For the 12th time, Iceland is the most gender-equal country in the world.

The top 10 most gender-equal countries include Finland, Norway, New Zealand, Rwanda, Sweden, Ireland and Switzerland.

Many countries have fared worse in this year’s rankings compared to last year’s, on account of economic performance.

The gender gap in political empowerment remains the largest: women represent only 26.1 per cent of some 35,500 parliament seats and just 22.6 per cent of over 3,400 ministers worldwide.

In 81 countries, there has never been a woman head of state, as of January 15, 2021.

Bangladesh is “the only country where more women have held head-of-state positions than men in the past 50 years.

The countries with the largest gender gaps in economic participation include Iran, India, Pakistan, Syria, Yemen, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

About the Global Gender Gap Report:

First published in 2006.

It benchmarks 156 countries on their progress towards gender parity in four dimensions:

  • Economic Participation and Opportunity,
  • Educational Attainment,
  • Health and Survival and
  • Political Empowerment.

Over the Index, the highest possible score is 1 (equality) and the lowest possible score is 0 (inequality).

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)

In News:

The U.S. and Iran will soon begin negotiations through intermediaries to try to get both countries back into an accord limiting Iran’s nuclear programme, nearly three years after President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the deal.

What’s the issue?

Trump pulled the U.S. out of the accord in 2018. Besides, he opted for a “maximum pressure” campaign by imposing sanctions and other tough actions.

Iran responded by intensifying its enrichment of uranium and building of centrifuges, while maintaining its insistence that its nuclear development was for civilian and not military purposes.

Iran’s moves increased pressure on major world powers over the Trump administration’s sanctions and raised tensions among U.S. allies and strategic partners in West Asia.

About the Iran Nuclear Deal:

Also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

The JCPOA was the result of prolonged negotiations from 2013 and 2015 between Iran and P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union, or the EU).

Under the deal, Tehran agreed to significantly cut its stores of centrifuges, enriched uranium and heavy-water, all key components for nuclear weapons.

What’s the concern now?

In January 2020, following the drone strike on Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Gen. Qasem Soleiman, Iran announced that it would no longer observe the JCPOA’s restraints.

The collapse of the JCPOA drags Iran towards nuclear brinkmanship, like North Korea, which has created major geopolitical instability in the region and beyond.

Significance of the deal for India:

  • Removing sanctions may revive India’s interest in the Chabahar port, Bandar Abbas port, and other plans for regional connectivity.
  • This would further help India to neutralize the Chinese presence in Gwadar port, Pakistan.
  • Restoration of ties between the US and Iran will help India to procure cheap Iranian oil and aid in energy security.

Haryana’s quota law

In News:

Haryana’s private job reservation law which provides 75 per cent employment opportunities in private sector for people belonging to the state will come into force from May 1.

About Haryana State Employment of Local Candidates Bill, 2020:

It requires private companies to set aside for domiciles 75% of jobs up to a monthly salary of Rs 50,000 or as may be notified by the government from time to time.

The law is applicable to all the companies, societies, trusts, limited liability partnership firms, partnership firms and any person employing 10 or more persons and an entity, as may be notified by the government from time to time shall come under the ambit of this Act.

What are the legal issues in such laws?

The question of domicile reservation in jobs: While domicile quotas in education are fairly common, courts have been reluctant in expanding this to public employment. It raises questions relating to the fundamental right to equality of citizens.

The issue of forcing the private sector to comply with reservations in employment. For mandating reservation in public employment, the state draws its power from Article 16(4) of the Constitution. But, the Constitution has no manifest provision for private employment from which the state draws the power to make laws mandating reservation.

It may not be able to withstand judicial scrutiny on the touchstone of Article 19(1)(g).

What is the government’s rationale in bringing such laws?

Public sector jobs constitute only a minuscule proportion of all jobs. Therefore, talks about extending the legal protections to the private sector to really achieve the constitutional mandate of equality for all citizens has been on.

Since private industries use public infrastructure in many ways — from accessing land through subsidised allotment to receiving credit from public banks, tax exemptions and in many cases subsidies for fuel etc, the state has a legitimate right to require them to comply with the reservation policy.

Do other countries take such affirmative action in employment?

Affirmative action is adopted in many countries in the context of race and gender.

For example, in the US, although there is no statutory requirement for employers to have quotas, courts can order monetary damages and injunctive relief, including “such affirmative action as may be appropriate”, for victims of discrimination.

The Employment Equity Act in Canada also protects minority groups, especially aboriginals from discrimination in federally regulated industries, even in the private sector.

Concerns and challenges ahead:

  • It poses challenges for industrial development and private investment in Haryana.
  • It could also provide a shield to some firms indulging in unethical practices to retrench the existing workforce.
  • Investors and businesses may start moving out of the state in search for best human resources.
  • Against the spirit of the Constitution, which gives citizens of India the freedom to work anywhere in the country.