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19th March Current Affairs

Prevention of sexual harassment or POSH Act

(GS-I: Issues related to women)

In News:

Kerala High Court has asked organisations associated with the film industry to take steps to constitute a joint committee to deal with cases of sexual harassment of women, in line with the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act of 2013.

Did you know about the Vishaka guidelines?

The Vishaka guidelines (legally binding) were laid down by the Supreme Court in a judgment in 1997. This was in a case filed by women’s rights groups, one of which was Vishaka.

The guidelines defined sexual harassment and imposed three key obligations on institutions — prohibition, prevention, redress.

The Supreme Court directed that they should establish a Complaints Committee, which would look into matters of sexual harassment of women at the workplace.

The 2013 Act broadened these guidelines.

About the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act of 2013:

The law against sexual harassment is commonly known as the prevention of sexual harassment or POSH Act, passed by Parliament in 2013.

Definition of sexual harassment:

Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition And Redressal) Act, 2013 defines sexual harassment:

It includes “any one or more” of the following “unwelcome acts or behaviour”committed directly or by implication: Physical contact and advances, Sexually coloured remarks, Showing pornography, A demand or request for sexual favours, Any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature.

Key provisions of the act:

This Act lays down the procedures for a complaint and inquiry and the action to be taken.

It mandates that every employer constitute an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) at each office or branch with 10 or more employees.

It lays down the procedures and defines various aspects of sexual harassment.

A woman can be of any age, whether employed or not, who “alleges to have been subjected to any act of sexual harassment”, that means the rights of all the women working or visiting any workplace, in any capacity, are protected under the Act.

Need for stricter provisions:

The 2013 Act has entrusted the powers of a civil court to the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC)without specifying if the members need to have a legal background. This was a major lacuna given that the ICC formed an important grievance redressal mechanism under the framework of the act.

The 2013 act only imposed a fine of ₹50,000 on employers for non-compliance with respect to the constitution of the ICC. This proved to be insufficient in ensuring that the employers constituted the ICC in a time-bound manner.

RSS resolution for labor-intensive economic model

(GS-III: Employment Related issues)

In News:

The RSS has passed a resolution calling for a labour-intensive Bharatiya Economic Model in view of rising unemployment in the country.

What does the resolution say?

Society must come forward and participate in building an Atmanirbhar Bharat where the economic model is based on Indian values.

The model should be human-centric, labour intensive, eco-friendly and lay stress on decentralisation and equitable distribution of benefits.

It should augment village economy, microscale, small scale and agro-based industries.

Thrust areas as rural employability, unorganised sector employment and employment of women as solutions to unemployment.

It also urged the youth to come out of the mentality of seeking only jobs. An environment conducive to encouraging entrepreneurship should be created by educating and counselling people, especially youth.

Need for:

India’s unemployment rate has been rising, and when the effects of demonetisation and the pandemic have hit the economy and dried up opportunities.

The unemployment rate went up to 7.91% in December 2021 from 6.3% in 2018-19 and 4.7% in 2017-18.

The manufacturing sector is said to have lost 9.8 million jobs between 2019-20 and December 2021.

What needs to be done?

By pushing the government to support small and medium enterprises in the manufacturing sector.

By working with the youth at the grassroots to “help them engage into entrepreneurial ventures through agri-allied activities and other self-employment opportunities”.

There are ample opportunities for creation of jobs in rural India through industrialisation, food processing, agri-allied activities such as animal husbandry, bamboo farming, pisciculture etc.

‘Meri Policy Mere Haath’ campaign

(GS-III: Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices)

In News:

‘Meri Policy Mere Haath’ campaign was launched recently in Hassan, Karnataka.

About the Campaign:

The campaign is part of the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana.

It is aimed at motivating all farmers in the country to insure their crops.

Under this program, every farmer who has taken insurance under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) will get the policy documents at their doorstep.

Significance:

The campaign empowers the farmers through crop insurance awareness and by bringing the insurance policy to their doorsteps.

The campaign will also help in increasing the direct communication between the farmers and insurance companies.

About PMFBY:

The Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) has successfully entered its seventh year of implementation with the upcoming Kharif 2022 season, completing six years of its implementation since its announcement on 18 February 2016.

Performance of PMFBY:

Till date, the scheme has insured over 30 crore farmer applications (5.5 crore farmer applications on year-on-year basis).

Over the period of 5 years, more than 8.3 crore farmer applications have benefited from the scheme.

Moreover, Rs.95,000 crores claims have been paid as against Rs. 20,000 crore farmers share.

About Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana:

It is in line with the One Nation – One Scheme theme- It replaced National Agricultural Insurance Scheme (NAIS) and Modified National Agricultural Insurance Scheme (MNAIS).

Launched in 2016.

Coverage: All food & oilseed crops and annual commercial/horticultural crops for which past yield data is available.

Premium: The prescribed premium is 2% to be paid by farmers for all Kharif crops and 1.5% for all rabi crops. In the case of annual commercial and horticultural crops, the premium is 5%.

Objectives:

To provide insurance coverage and financial support to the farmers in the event of failure of any of the notified crops as a result of natural calamities, pests & diseases.

To stabilise the income of farmers to ensure their continuance in farming.

To encourage farmers to adopt innovative and modern agricultural practices.

To ensure flow of credit to the agriculture sector.

Coverage:

The Scheme covers all Food & Oilseeds crops and Annual Commercial/Horticultural Crops for which past yield data is available and for which requisite number of Crop Cutting Experiments (CCEs) are being conducted under General Crop Estimation Survey (GCES).

PMFBY to PMFBY 2.0 (overhauled PMFBY):

Completely Voluntary: It has been decided to make enrolment 100% voluntary for all farmers from 2020 Kharif.

Limit to Central Subsidy: The Cabinet has decided to cap the Centre’s premium subsidy under these schemes for premium rates up to 30% for unirrigated areas/crops and 25% for irrigated areas/crops.

More Flexibility to States: The government has given the flexibility to states/UTs to implement PMFBY and given them the option to select any number of additional risk covers/features like prevented sowing, localised calamity, mid-season adversity, and post-harvest losses.

Penalising the Pendency: In the revamped PMFBY, a provision has been incorporated wherein if states don’t release their share before March 31 for the Kharif season and September 30 for rabi, they would not be allowed to participate in the scheme in subsequent seasons.

Investing in ICE Activities: Insurance companies have to now spend 0.5% of the total premium collected on information, education and communication (IEC) activities.

Why is PMFBY criticised?

Since the beginning, farmers, especially from Maharashtra, have criticised the scheme for various reasons.

One of the main arguments against it is that it helps insurance companies more than the farmers.

Farm leaders claim insurance companies have made windfall gains at the behest of the public exchequer and farmers.

Delayed payouts and denial of claims are other common complaints against insurance companies.

The insurance companies were also blamed for not conducting enough crop cutting experiments (CCE), which measure the total loss experienced by the farmers.

Which states have withdrawn from the scheme?

Gujarat, Bihar, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Jharkhand have opted out of the scheme.

Controversy over Bhagat Singh photograph at Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann’s office

(GS-I: The Freedom Struggle – its various stages and important contributors/contributions from different parts of the country)

In News:

A photograph of Bhagat Singh in Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann’s office has run into a controversy.

Details:

The new AAP Party CM has said that he dreams of creating an egalitarian Punjab that Bhagat Singh had dreamt of and sacrificed his life for.

However, the basanti (yellow) turban Bhagat Singh is seen wearing in the photo is being objected to, primarily for the photo’s lack of authenticity.

What’s the issue now?

According to experts, there are only four original photographs of him. In one picture, he is sitting with open hair in jail, another shows him in a hat and two others show him in a white turban. All other pictures showing him in yellow or orange turbans or even with a weapon in his hand are products of imagination.

Bhagat Singh was born in 1907 in Lyallpur district (now in Pakistan), and grew up in a Sikh family deeply involved in political activities.

In 1923, Bhagat Singh joined the National College, Lahore which was founded and managed by Lala Lajpat Rai and Bhai Parmanand.

In 1924 in Kanpur, he became a member of the Hindustan Republican Association (HRA), started by Sachindranath Sanyal a year earlier.

In 1928, HRA was renamed from Hindustan Republican Association to Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA).

In 1925-26 Bhagat Singh and his colleagues started a militant youth organization called the Naujawan Bharat Sabha.

In 1927, he was first arrested on charges of association with the Kakori Case accused for an article written under the pseudonym Vidrohi (Rebel).

In 1928, Lala Lajpat Rai had led a procession to protest against the arrival of the Simon Commission. The police resorted to a brutal lathi charge, in which Lala Lajpat Rai was severely injured and later succumbed to his injuries.

To take revenge for the death of Lala Lajpat Rai, Bhagat Singh and his associates plotted the assassination of James A. Scott, the Superintendent of Police.

However, the revolutionaries mistakenly killed J.P. Saunders. The incident is famously known as Lahore Conspiracy case (1929).

Bhagat Singh and B.K. Dutt threw a bomb on 8 April, 1929 in the Central Legislative Assembly, in protest against the passing of two repressive bills, the Public Safety Bill and the Trade Dispute Bill.

The aim was not to kill but to make the deaf hear, and to remind the foreign government of its callous exploitation.

Trial:

Both Bhagat Singh and B.K. Dutt surrendered thereafter and faced trial so they could further promote their cause. They were awarded life imprisonment for this incident.

However, Bhagat Singh was re-arrested for the murder of J.P. Saunders and bomb manufacturing in the Lahore Conspiracy case.

He was found guilty in this case and was hanged on 23rd March, 1931 in Lahore along with Sukhdev and Rajguru.

Every year, March 23 is observed as Martyrs’ Day as a tribute to freedom fighters Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, and Rajguru.