News: The Parliament has passed Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Bill, 2020
- The bill amends the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 which provides for the prevention of the spread of dangerous epidemic diseases.
- The bill includes protections for health care service personnel combating epidemic diseases.
- It also expands the powers of the Central Government to prevent the spread of such diseases.
News: The government has announced an increase in the Minimum Support Prices (MSPs) for all mandated Rabi crops. MSP of six Rabi crops including Wheat, Chana, Masoor, Mustard, Jowar and Safflower has been hiked in the range of 50 to 300 rupees. The hike is in accordance to the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission’s report.
- MSP is the minimum price paid to the farmers for procuring food crops. It is announced by the Government at the beginning of the sowing season.
- There are two objectives of the Minimum Support Price system (a)To prevent distress sale by the farmers in case of a bumper crop and (b)To procure the grains for public distribution by fair price shops.
- They are recommended by the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) and approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs. Food Corporation of India (FCI) is the nodal agency for procurement along with State agencies.
- In India, there are two major cropping seasons: a) Kharif and b) Rabi. Another cropping season Zaid i.e. summer season (March to June). Examples of Zaid cops are watermelon, bitter gourd etc.
- The kharif cropping season is from July –October during the south-west monsoon. Major Kharif crops include rice, maize, sorghum, groundnut etc.
- Rabi cropping season extends from October-March (winter). Major Rabi crops are wheat, barley, oats etc.
News: The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has advised the States and Union Territory administrations to stamp International Convention of Road Traffic on the first page of International Driving Permit, IDP issued by them.
- Convention on Road Traffic, also known as the Geneva Convention on Road Traffic, is an international treaty promoting the development and safety of international road traffic.
- The convention addresses minimum mechanical and safety equipment needed to be on board and defines an identification mark to identify the origin of the vehicle.
- It was concluded in Geneva on 19 September 1949. India is a signatory to the Convention.
News: Against the backdrop of the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, International Energy Agency (IEA), in collaboration with NITI Aayog, presented a ‘Special Report on Sustainable Recovery’.
- The report is a part of IEA’s flagship World Energy Outlook series. It proposes a number of actions that could be taken over the next three years to revitalize economies and boost employment while making energy systems cleaner and more resilient.
- The report mentions key sectors for creating jobs: electricity, transportation, buildings, industry and sustainable biofuels and innovations.
- The International Energy Agency (IEA) was founded in 1974.It is an autonomous intergovernmental organization established under the OECD framework.
- It is headquartered in Paris, France.
- It has 30 member countries and 8 association countries.
- It has four main areas of focus namely (a)Energy security (b)Economic development (c)Environmental awareness and (d)Engagement worldwide.
- India became an associate member of the International Energy Agency in 2017.
News: The Parliament has passed The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020
- It amends the Essential Commodities Act, 1955.
- Aim: The bill seeks to increase competition in the agriculture sector and enhance farmers’ income. It also aims to liberalise the regulatory system while protecting the interests of consumers.
- The bill removes cereal, pulses, oilseed, edible oil, onion and potatoes from the list of essential commodities.
Essential Commodities Act,1955:
- It aims to ensure smooth and easy availability of essential items to consumers.
- Under the act, the Government regulates the production, supply and distribution of certain commodities it declares ‘essential’ in order to make them available to consumers at fair prices.
News: Against the backdrop of the government’s push to reform India’s agriculture sector, the article discusses some basic facts about Indian agriculture.
- Agriculture’s contribution to national output: At the time of Independence, agriculture and allied activities accounted for around 54% of India’s national income. As of 2019-20, it is less than 17% (in gross value-added terms).
- Employment in Agriculture: the proportion of Indians engaged in agriculture has fallen from 70% in 1951 to 55% in 2011. The Committee on Doubling Farmers’ Income (2017) observes that the dependence of the rural workforce on agriculture for employment has not declined in proportion to the falling contribution of agriculture to GDP.
- Proportion of landless labourers: It has increased from 28% (27 mn) in 1951 to 55% (144 mn) in 2011.
- Size of Landholding: 86% of all landholdings in India are small (between 1 and 2 hectares) and marginal (less than 1 hectare). The average size among marginal holdings is 0.37 ha.
- Terms of Trade between farmers and non-farmers: It is the ratio between the prices paid by the farmers for their inputs and the prices received by the farmers for their output. If the ToT is less than 100, it means farmers are worse off. ToT rapidly improved between 2004-05 and 2010-11 to breach the 100-mark but since then it has worsened for farmers.
News: The government has cleared The Indian Institutes of Information Technology Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020, The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020, The Banking Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2020, The Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2020, The National Forensic Sciences University Bill, 2020, The Rashtriya Raksha University Bill, 2020 and The Taxation and Other Laws (Relaxation and Amendment of Certain Provisions) Bill, 2020.
- Indian Institutes of Information Technology Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020: It amends the Indian Institutes of Information Technology Act of 2014 and Indian Institutes of Information Technology (Public-Private Partnership) Act, 2017. It grants statutory status to five IIITs in Public-Private Partnership mode at Surat, Bhopal, Bhagalpur, Agarwal, and Raichur.
- Taxation and Other Laws (Relaxation and Amendment of Certain Provisions) Bill, 2020: It aims at relaxing time limit on compliance with tax laws, GST payment and filing in view of the pandemic.
- Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2020: It proposes to amend 48 Sections of the Companies Act, 2013, by decriminalising various non-compoundable offences in case of defaults, but not involving frauds, omitting imprisonment for various offences that were considered procedural.