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21 November, 2019

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Paper Topics Subject
GS-II Smart Safety Surveillance (3S) programme
New Code on Wages
GS-III NASA completes first Geological Mapping of ‘Titan’
India climbs the EM League tables Economic Issues
GS-II :
Smart Safety Surveillance (3S) programme

Syllabus subtopic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

 

News: The central government is planning to expand the reach of the Smart Safety Surveillance, or 3S, programme.

  • This is being done to optimize post-marketing surveillance of priority drugs and vaccines, and ensure the vaccines distributed under the universal immunization programme are safe.

 

Prelims focus: About 3S programme

Mains focus: Its significance, challenges in implementation and their redressal

Context: According to WHO, access to medicines and vaccines in low- and middle-income countries has improved in the past two decades. However, there has not been a proportionate improvement in pharmacovigilance infrastructure and activities to monitor adverse events and address safety issues.

About 3S project

  • The 3S project was recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), considering the limited safety data on vaccines introduced in India.

 

  • As part of the 3S project, India is evaluating the recently-introduced rotavirus vaccines. It is also trying to strengthen the collaboration among key stakeholders, such as ministry of health and Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO), to ensure high levels of vigilance.

 

Need for and significance of this programme for India:

  • According to the ministry of health and family welfare, new medical products often enter the market with limited safety data from clinical trials, which evaluate small controlled populations. Therefore, for immunization programmes, post-marketing safety surveillance is essential to monitor the risk-benefit profile of a product in the wider population.
  • WHO has been prodding countries to adopt the 3S programme, with the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to strengthen pharmacovigilance systems in developing nations.
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GS-II :
New Code on Wages

Syllabus subtopic: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections

 

News: The Centre will soon notify the rules that will create the mechanisms to fix a floor wage that would then undergird the minimum wages for different categories of workers — unskilled, semi-skilled, skilled and highly skilled — that the States and Central government would have to set and enforce. This is in accordance with the Code on Wages, 2019.

 

Prelims and Mains focus: Key features of the new code, need, significance, need for uniform wage across the country.

 

Key features of the new code:

The new code will amalgamate the Payment of Wages Act, 1936, the Minimum Wages Act, 1948, the Payment of Bonus Act, 1965, and the Equal Remuneration Act, 1976.

  1. Coverage: The Code will apply to all employees. The central government will make wage-related decisions for employments such as railways, mines, and oil fields, among others. State governments will make decisions for all other employments.
  2. Wages include salary, allowance, or any other component expressed in monetary terms. This does not include bonus payable to employees or any travelling allowance, among others.
  3. Floor wage: According to the Code, the central government will fix a floor wage, taking into account living standards of workers. Further, it may set different floor wages for different geographical areas.  Before fixing the floor wage, the central government may obtain the advice of the Central Advisory Board and may consult with state governments.   
  4. The minimum wages decided by the central or state governments must be higher than the floor wage. In case the existing minimum wages fixed by the central or state governments are higher than the floor wage, they cannot reduce the minimum wages.
  5. Payment of wages: Wages will be paid in (i) coins, (ii) currency notes, (iii) by cheque, (iv) by crediting to the bank account, or (v) through electronic mode.  The wage period will be fixed by the employer as either: (i) daily, (ii) weekly, (iii) fortnightly, or (iv) monthly.
  6. Deductions: Under the Code, an employee’s wages may be deducted on certain grounds including: (i) fines, (ii) absence from duty, (iii) accommodation given by the employer, or (iv) recovery of advances given to the employee, among others.  These deductions should not exceed 50% of the employee’s total wage.
  7. Gender discrimination: The Code prohibits gender discrimination in matters related to wages and recruitment of employees for the same work or work of similar nature.  
  8. Advisory boards: The central and state governments will constitute advisory boards.  The Central Advisory Board will consist of: (i) employers, (ii) employees (in equal number as employers), (iii) independent persons, and (iv) five representatives of state governments.  State Advisory Boards will consist of employers, employees, and independent persons.  Further, one-third of the total members on both the central and state Boards will be women.  The Boards will advise the respective governments on various issues including: (i) fixation of minimum wages, and (ii) increasing employment opportunities for women.

  

Significance:

  • This is expected to effectively reduce the number of minimum wage rates across the country to 300 from about 2,500 minimum wage rates at present.
  • Codification of labour laws will remove the multiplicity of definitions and authorities, leading to ease of compliance without compromising wage security and social security to workers.
  • It is expected to provide for an appellate authority between the claim authority and the judicial forum which will lead to speedy, cheaper and efficient redressal of grievances and settlement of claims as that of earlier.

 

Need for a National minimum wage:

  • One argument for a national minimum wage is to ensure a uniform standard of living across the country. At present, there are differences in minimum wages across states and regions. 
  • Such differences are attributed to the fact that both the central and state governments set, revise and enforce minimum wages for the employments covered by them.
  • The introduction of a national minimum wage may help reduce these differences and provide a basic standard of living for all employees across the country.
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GS-III :
NASA completes first Geological Mapping of ‘Titan’

Syllabus subtopic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

News: The American Space Research Organization (NASA) has completed the first 'Global Geological' mapping of Saturn's largest moon 'Titan'. NASA's Jet Propulsion Jet Laboratory (JPL) has released this information.

Prelims and Mains focus:  About geological mapping of Saturn’s moon and its significance

 

Geological Mapping: Geologic mapping involves plotting the location and attitude of the various rock units, faults, and folds on a base map.

 

 

Key observations

  • This map includes sand dunes, lakes, plains, besides volcanic craters and other inaccessible locations.
  • There are many differences between Earth and Titan apart from temperature and magnetic fields, but there are many similarities in the surface of the right.

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GS-III : Economic Issues
India climbs the EM League tables

Syllabus subtopic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

News: Buoyed by an improvement in financial sector indicators, India rose several notches to the second position among large emerging markets in October

Prelims and mains focus: current slowdown in the Indian economy, its impact on various sectors and overall GDP

Context:

  • Reversing months of under-performance, India rose several notches to finish second among key emerging markets (EM) in October, improving its relative attractiveness vis-a-vis other markets. Only the Philippines ranked ahead of India last month, the data show.
  • These rankings are based on Mint’s Emerging Markets Tracker, launched two months ago to track seven high-frequency indicators across 10 large emerging markets, and help us make sense of India’s relative position in the emerging markets league tables.
  • India’s ranking rose because of improvements in India’s financial sector indicators. Emerging signs of weaknesses in several other large emerging markets have also helped India’s cause, making the country’s economic scorecard look better than its peers. However, it is uncertain whether the relative improvement will last, given that domestic demand conditions in Asia’s third-largest economy continue to be weak.

About the 7 high frequency indicators

  • The seven indicators considered in Mint’s Emerging Markets Tracker encompass both real activity indicators (such as PMI manufacturing and real gross domestic product or GDP growth) as well as financial metrics (such as exchange rate movements and changes in the stock market capitalization). The final rankings are based on a composite score, which gives equal weight to each of the seven indicators. (See chart)

 

  • The selection of the emerging markets in Mint’s Emerging Markets Tracker is based on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) classification of emerging and developing economies. The 10 emerging markets selected were the largest economies in this group for which consistent and comparable time series data were available.

 

Way ahead:

  • What happens to growth in the quarters ahead remains the trillion dollar question. That will ultimately shape India’s macroeconomic scorecard and its attractiveness among emerging markets.
  • Some economists expect growth to be better in the second half of the current fiscal year (October-March) while others expect a lacklustre performance and have cut back their growth projections. How India’s credit crunch eases in the coming months will likely have a large bearing on both financial and real indicators, given its central role in the growth slowdown.
  • However, the prognosis so far does not appear bright. The credit crunch only intensified in the September quarter as the slowdown in the non-bank sector was compounded by slowdown in bank loan growth, Credit Suisse said in an 11 November report. Given that the banks have not fully accounted for bad loans to non-bank financial companies (NBFCs), the outlook on credit growth remains clouded.
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