Govt. ‘watching’ WHO alert on airborne spread of virus
Why in news
- After earlier denials, the World Health Organisation has said that there is evidence emerging of the airborne spread of the coronavirus.
- Over 230 scientists across the world urged the WHO to update its guidance, pointing to the evidence showing that smaller particles can infect people.
- According to the technical lead on the COVID-19 pandemic at the WHO, there is a possibility of airborne transmission and aerosol transmission as one of the modes of transmission of COVID-19.
- Droplet Transmission: Occurs when a person is within 1 metre of the infector, who coughs or sneezes and so is exposing their mouth, nose or eyes to potentially infective respiratory droplets. Such droplets are >5-10 μm in diameter. Being heavy, the droplets fall to the floor soon.
- Airborne Transmission: It refers to transmission via aerosols (smaller droplets <5 μm) which can be transmitted to others over distances greater than 1 m. Aerosols may get released when infectors breathe heavily or talk, apart from coughing and sneezing. Aerosols contain fewer virus particles than larger droplets.
1.Digital Accountability and Transparency Act: DATA
Why in News
- Recently, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has suggested three-phase transition to mandatory digital payments, accounting, and transactions for the Central government under a proposed project and law called Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA).
- The suggestions recognize the need of digital public utilities. It not only includes e-services but makes all government revenue and expenditure data electronic, machine-readable, purpose linked, non-repudiable, reliable, accessible and searchable.
- Requirement for Digitisation, i.e. 100 % end-to-end electronic data capture. This includes all receipts and expenditure transactions including demands, assessment, and invoices should be received, processed, and paid electronically.
- Data governance for standards across all government entities. Data standards are rules for describing and recording data elements with precise meanings and semantics that enable integration, sharing, and interoperability.
- Technology architecture: Under this all IT government systems should conform to a prescribed open architecture framework while ensuring robust security and maintaining privacy.
- Benefits of Digitisation: It has many advantages, it recognises off-budget transactions, business continuity (e.g. electronic records cannot be lost or misplaced like files or paper records), and an incontrovertible audit trail.
- It will also enable Parliament and legislatures to draw assurance that each rupee due to the government has been collected, and each rupee has been spent for the purpose it was allocated.
- Prescribing data elements for all transactions will ensure standardisation, clarify ambiguity, minimise redundant data, and create protocols for integration across different databases.
- It will enable the use of cognitive intelligence tools like analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, which in turn will support the establishment of budget baselines, detecting anomalies, data-driven project costing, performance comparisons across departments and agencies, and benchmarking.
Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
India to take call on Australia’s inclusion in Malabar exercises
Why in news
- India will take a decision on whether to include Australia in the Malabar exercises with Japan and the U.S.
- After years of reluctance, India said it was open to Australia’s inclusion in the Malabar as an observer. Japan and the U.S. have been keen on Canberra’s inclusion and have been pushing India to consider it.
- Australia’s inclusion would be seen as a possible first step towards the militarisation of the Quad coalition, something Beijing has opposed in the past.
- The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or Quad is an informal strategic forum between the United States, Japan, Australia and India.
- The move comes in the midst of the ongoing stand-off with China on the border.
- Malabar began as a bilateral naval exercise between India and the U.S. in 1992. It was expanded into a trilateral format with the inclusion of Japan in 2015.
Australia ends HK extradition treaty
Why in news
- Australia said that it was suspending its extradition treaty with Hong Kong in response to a new security law imposed there and announced measures to attract businesses from the Asian financial hub.
- Australia’s Prime Minister has said that the law introduced in Hong Kong was a fundamental change of circumstances and Australia would suspend the extradition agreement.
- By doing so, Australia has offered an immigration pathway for residents fleeing Hong Kong, after several Western countries aligned with the US, including Canada and Britain, introduced similar measures to confront China’s security crackdown in the city.
Country of origin tag a must
Why in news
- The Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs has sent out a reminder to all e-commerce portals to ensure that the “country of origin” of the products being sold by them should be mentioned as part of mandatory declarations.
- The Government of India is pushing for ‘Made in India’ products and Atmanirbhar Bharat in making India a self-reliant nation.
- There is a clamour to ban China-made goods, in the backdrop of the India-China standoff along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
- It is a part of a concerted effort by the government to have ‘country of origin’ declarations for products on e-commerce portals. The Ministry invoked the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011.
- These rules make it mandatory for all manufacturers to declare the package name and address of the manufacturer, common and generic name of the commodity, net quantity, month and year of manufacturing, MRP and consumer care details.
- In addition to these, in 2017, new provisions were added for e-commerce websites, making it compulsory for them to display this information along with “declaration of country of origin or manufacture or assembly” and a clear mention of the expiry date. There are punitive provisions in the law including fines and also a jail term of one year.
Capital Infusion for the Insurance Companies
Why in News
- Recently, the Union Cabinet has approved the capital infusion of Rs.12,450 crore in the three Public Sector General Insurance Companies (PSGICs) namely Oriental Insurance Company Limited (OlCL), National Insurance Company Limited (NICL) and United India Insurance Company Limited (UIICL). The primary regulator for insurance in India is the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI).
- Capital Infusion: The capital infusion of 3,475 Crore will be allocated to three PSGICs as the first tranche in the current financial year and the balance amount will be released in one or more tranches.
- To give effect to the infusion, the authorised capital of NICL has been increased to Rs. 7,500 Crore and that of UIICL and OlCL to Rs. 5,000 Crore respectively.
- The capital infusion will enable the three PSGICs to improve their financial and solvency position. It will also help to meet the insurance needs of the economy and enhance the capacity to raise resources and improve risk management.
- The government has dropped the process of merger, which was proposed, in the 2018-19 Budget, of these three PSGICs in view of the economic crisis created due to Covid-19 pandemic. Instead, it has decided to focus on the profitable growth of these three PSGICs.
- The aim of the merger was to augment capital by listing the merged entity on stock exchanges, which would have brought down government equity (share).
- As of the third quarter of 2019-20, NICL had a solvency ratio of 1.01, against the regulatory requirement of 1.5. The solvency ratio examines a company’s ability to meet its longterm obligations.
- Its combined ratio stood at 173%. If the ratio is below 100%, it indicates that the firm is making underwriting profits. The combined ratio is a measure of profitability used by an insurance company to gauge how well it is performing in its daily operations.
- Underwriting profit consists of the earned premium remaining after losses have been paid and administrative expenses have been deducted. OICL had a solvency ratio of 1.54 and reported a combined ratio of 132%. UIICL had a solvency ratio of 0.94, much below the regulatory requirement, with combined ratio at 127.62%.
- Public Sector Insurance Companies are under the Department of Financial Service, Ministry of Finance. Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) is the largest insurance company in India.
Govt. notifies draft rules on wages Act
Why in news
- The Union Labour and Employment Ministry has published the draft rules framed for the implementation of the Code on Wages Act, 2019, that guarantees minimum wages to all and defines how the wages will be calculated.
- The Code on Wages is the first of the four codes proposed by the government, as a part of its labour law reforms that was passed by Parliament in August 2019; Code on Industrial Relations, Social Security and Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions being the other three.
- In the new draft rules, the Centre has reduced normal working hours in a day to eight hours from nine proposed in the earlier version released in November 2019.
- Net intake of 2,700 calories per day, 66 metres cloth per year per standard working-class family, housing rent expenditure as 10 percent of food and clothing expenditure, three adult consumption units are some of the factors that would determine the fixation of the national minimum wage.
- The draft rules state that the Centre shall constitute a technical committee which would advise on the skill categories, while an advisory board may recommend the minimum wage.