- India submitted a nine-point agenda for dealing with fugitive economic offenders at G-20 summit.
- Actions included under the nine-point action agenda:
- i) Strong and active cooperation across G-20 countries to deal comprehensively and efficiently with the menace fugitive economic offenders.
- ii) Cooperation in the legal processes such as effective freezing of the proceeds of crime, early return of the offenders and efficient repatriation of the proceeds of crime should be enhanced and streamlined.
iii) A joint effort by G-20 countries to form a mechanism that denies entry and safe havens to all fugitive economic offenders.
- iv) Principles of United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime (UNOTC), especially related to “International Cooperation” should be fully and effectively implemented.
- v) Financial Action Task Force (FATF) should be called upon to assign priority and focus to establishing international co-operation that leads to the timely and comprehensive exchange of information between the competent authorities and Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs).
- vi) FATF should be tasked to formulate a standard definition of fugitive economic offenders.
vii) FATF should also develop a set of commonly agreed and standardized procedures related to identification, extradition and judicial proceedings for dealing with fugitive economic offenders to provide guidance and assistance to G-20 countries, subject to their domestic law.
viii) The common platform should be set up for sharing experiences and best practices including successful cases of extradition, gaps in existing systems of extradition and legal assistance etc.
- ix) G-20 Forum should consider initiating work on locating properties of economic offenders who have a tax debt in the country of their residence for its recovery.
- Background: In November last year, the Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London ruled against India which was trying to extradite bookie Sanjeev Kumar Chawla and an Indian couple, Jatinder and Asha Rani Angurala. India has suggested a nine-point action plan for strong and active cooperation across G-20 countries to deal comprehensively and efficiently with the menace fugitive economic offenders.
- Other challenges highlighted at the G-20 summit:
- The threat of increasing financial vulnerabilities, mainly arising from monetary policies of advanced economies and oil price volatility.
- Unsynchronized policies of advanced economies and the uneven pace of revival of economies of various countries.
- Escalating trade tensions and its resultant and collateral damages it caused to the least developed countries and other emerging economies.
- Reformation of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and dialogue on trade and service in promoting global value chain in the agricultural sector.
About FATF: The FATF is an inter-governmental body established in 1989 to combat money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.
- Formed in 1999, the G20 is an international forum of the governments and central bank governors from 20 major economies.
- Collectively, the G20 economies account for around 85 percent of the Gross World Product (GWP), 80 percent of world trade.
- The G20 has no permanent staff of its own and its chairmanship rotates annually between nations divided into regional groupings.
- It aims to preempt balance of payments problems and turmoil on financial markets by improved coordination of monetary, fiscal, and financial policies.
- The forum seeks to address issues that go beyond the responsibilities of any one organisation.
- The members of the G20 consist of 19 individual countries plus the European Union (EU) which are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union.
- The 2018 G20 Buenos Aires summit will be the 13th meeting of Group of Twenty (G20). It is being held in 2018 in the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina. It will be the first-ever G20 summit to be hosted in South America.
- G20 Argentina has put forth three agenda priorities for the G20 dialogue in 2018, i.e., the future of work, infrastructure for development and a sustainable food future.
- India will host the G20 Summit in 2022, the year New Delhi celebrates its 75th Independence Day.
- Maharashtra government has taken a step forward for citizens seeking data from the government under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, by allowing them to study the relevant files at the concerned office on Monday afternoons.
- RTI applications have been on the decline for the last two years since a citizen finds that the system is obscuring and blocking the information.
- About the directive:
- The directive is aimed to reduce the number of first and second appeals.
- Under this all government offices ranging from district level to lower level, and municipal corporations, municipal councils, and zilla parishads will make files available for applicants to inspect between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. every Monday.
- In case there is a public holiday on Monday, information can be accessed on the next working day.
- This step will smoothen thee access to information for the citizens.
- The move is also expected to help curb the rising number of pending appeals with the Maharashtra State Information Commission from applicants against departments denying or withholding information.
- By the end of September 2018, 39,709 appeals and complaints were pending since 2014.
- A study of Maternity benefit act by Teamlease Services highlighted that poor legislation remains the main reason behind India’s persistently low female labour force participation rate.
- When the provisions of the amendment to the Maternity Benefit Act came into force effective 1 April 2017, it was lauded by industry as a progressive step towards improvement in securing the employment rights of women.
- TeamLease conducted a study in May on the effects of the amendment on women’s employment and on representation of female workforce in India by surveying employers across 10 key sectors.
Findings of the study
- The amendment had led to higher caution on the part of the employers, leading to lower levels of hiring of women.
- According to the study, there could be significant job losses for women in India in the short to medium term.
- India offers one of the world’s most generous maternity leave policies.
- But India is also probably the only country where the entire financial burden of the maternity leave is supposed to be borne by the employer.
- In most countries, the cost of maternity leave is shared across the government, employer, insurance and other social security programmes (Singapore—eight weeks employer and eight weeks public funds; Australia and Canada—100% public funds; France—social insurance scheme; Brazil—mixed contribution from the employer, employee and government).
- Remedial measures suggested in the TeamLease study for addressing and mitigating this issue include
- cost sharing between employer and government by way of reimbursement once the employer furnishes the proof of payment of maternity leave wage,
- slab-based tax rebates offered by the government on actual maternity wages paid,
- setting up a government insurance scheme to pay for maternity wages,
- leave sharing in the form of 13 months maternity and 13 months paternity to negate any possibility of gender bias.
9. Drawbacks in the Ministry of Labour proposal
- 7 weeks wages reimbursed- wages equivalent to only seven weeks shall be reimbursed by the government of India to employers who employ female workers and provide maternity benefits of 26 weeks’ paid leave.
- Incentive to the entity if the female employees working in the entity concerned should be earning wages less than ₹15,000.
- Member of EPFO but not ESIC – Female worker has to be a member of Employees’ Provident Fund Organization (EPFO) for at least one year and must not be covered under ESIC.
- The conditions set forth above lack logic or reasoning considering
- a) entitlement to maternity benefits kicks in once an employee completes 80 days (less than three months) of continuous service, and
- b) an employee is entitled to the benefits under the proposed incentive only if she has been a contributing member of EPFO for at least a year and is not covered under ESIC.
- Lack of clarity in providing creche facility- The added provisions such as crèches with certain prerequisites (caretakers, visits by mothers, suitable location) that are mandatory for commissioning mothers lack clarity.
- The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, as amended from time to time, is a state government legislation, implying thereby that state governments may amend the Act from time to time to extend benefits higher and incremental to the benefits recommended by the central government.
10. What needs to be done
- The seven weeks reimbursement limit must be extended to a minimum of 13 weeks.
- The period of wages of 13 weeks could also stand to be extended to all female employees who are not covered under ESIC, without any preconditions on wage ceiling or membership of the provident fund organization for one year, etc.
- Further, the government must set up crèches with all the attendant facilities proposed in the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017, and allow employees eligible for such benefits to use these crèches at a very nominal cost.
- Bringing the Maternity Benefit Act under central legislation will also help maintain uniformity.
11. Way ahead
- Such changes in the Act will likely encourage employers to provide employment opportunities to women without any gender discrimination and thus bring women into the mainstream of India’s progress.
- Also, hiring and employee retention will no doubt improve.
- With such active steps, we have genuine hope of raising India’s overall female labour force participation from the present 26% to a competitive level like China’s 60%.
Government and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) are in talks to allow use of ‘offline Aadhaar’ that relies on QR codes, instead of the biometric eKYC, for opening bank accounts, operating payment wallets and purchasing insurance covers.
- The step is taken to address fears over surveillance, breach of privacy while sharing the Aadhaar number and the biometric verification.
- These methods will not require sharing of biometrics or involve UIDAI servers for Authentication.
- The offline KYC process will not need users to reveal their Aadhaar numbers.
- A service provider can download a QR code reader from the UIDAI site or get scanner that can read the code on an Aadhaar number printout.
- The offline processes will fulfil Supreme Court’s order ruling out Aadhaar authentication for private firms.
The tribes of Nagaland celebrated the Hornbill Festival in Naga Heritage Village Kisama in Nagaland:
- It is organized at the Kisama Village located at a distance of 10 Kms from the state capital, Kohima
- Hornbill festival, also known locally as the “Festival of Festivals, is organized by State Tourism and Arts and Culture Department, to encourage inter-tribal harmony and promote colorful local culture and traditions.
- Festival is named after the Bird Hornbill.
- It takes place between the 1st to 7th December, which happens to be the Nagaland Formation Day
- This festival is the grandest, most colorful and sparkling carnival in the whole of north east India.
- The celebrations are attended by all the major tribes of Nagaland who present themselves with various arts, folk songs, dances and games.
- Most attractive event at the festival is Naga chilly eating competition and pork eating festival
Major Festivals of North East , India
- Nagaland – Moatsu Mong
- Assam – Bihu Festival, Ambubachi Mela, Jonbeel Mela, Dehing Patkai
- Sikkim – Saga Dawa
- Arunachal Pradesh – Losar, Ziro Festival, Dree Festival and Mopin Festival
- Mizoram – Anthurium
- Meghalaya – Wangala and Nongkrem Dance Festival, Monolith Festival
- Manipur – Kang Chingba,
- Tripura – Kharchi Puja
- News: Acting on a proposal from scientists of IIT Kanpur, CPCB had planned artificial rains through cloud seeding in the city.
- Cloud seeding is a weather modification technology to help create rain.
- It includes injecting chemicals such as silver iodide, dry ice and liquid propane in the clouds.
- These chemicals reduce the temperature of water vapour molecules, thus helping in precipitation, and provide a platform on which water droplets can coalesce. When they become heavy, they come down as rain.
- Scientists use aircraft or rockets to inject silver iodide or another substance into the atmosphere to mimic ice nuclei.
- Additional facts:
- Central Pollution Control Board
- CPCB, statutory organisation, was constituted in 1974 under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974.
- Further, CPCB was entrusted with the powers and functions under the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981.
- Principal Functions of the CPCB-
- (i) to promote cleanliness of streams and wells in different areas of the States by prevention, control and abatement of water pollution, and
- (ii) to improve the quality of air and to prevent, control or abate air pollution in the country.
- Central Pollution Control Board
- WhatsApp is seeking regulatory clearance from the RBI to launch full-fledged payment operations in India.
Payment service provider
- Payment service providers (PSPs) connect merchants to the electronic financial system so they can accept credit and debit card payments.
- They act on behalf of merchants and are paid by merchants for their services.
- The payment methods that PSPs accepts are: direct debit, credit card, bank transfer, and real-time bank transfer.
- WhatsApp is currently piloting WhatsApp payments, and it has now written to the RBI urging that a formal approval be granted to take the payments product to all its users in the country.
- The WhatsApp In-Chat Payment feature will allow users to make payments to anyone from their WhatsApp contact list.
- The new option will enable WhatsApp users to both send and receive money.
- The social media messaging application has tied up with some of the largest banks in the country to make this service available to consumers.
- The payment system will work on the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) method, where fund transfers can be initiated without having to provide bank account number and IFSC code.
- The UPI interface allows customers to make instant fund transfers through a virtual address, also known as, Virtual Payment Address (VPA). The fund transfer process is fast, easy and can be done on a 24/7 basis on all 365 days in a year.
- Features and Benefits of WhatsApp In-Chat Payment
- 24X7 service- Make payment to anyone on WhatsApp contact list from anywhere and at anytime
- User-friendly ‘pay’ feature– It makes transferring funds as simple as sending a photo or a message
- The payee/beneficiary will receive a payment notification on their chat window once the fund transfer has been made
- Transfer through virtual address- There is no need to ask the payee for account details such as account number or IFSC code. All you need is a virtual address to make payment
Unified Payment Interface (UPI)
- UPI is a system that powers multiple bank accounts into a single mobile application (of any participating bank), merging several banking features, seamless fund routing & merchant payments into one hood
- It also caters to the “Peer to Peer” collect request which can be scheduled and paid as per requirement and convenience
Benefit for end customers
- Round the clock availability
- Single application for accessing different bank accounts
- Use of virtual id is more secure no credential sharing
- Single click authentication
- Raise complaint from mobile app directly
Benefits for merchants
- Seamless fund collection from customer- single identifiers
- No risk of storing customer’s virtual address like in cards
- Tap customers not having credit/debit cards
- Suitable for e-com & m-com transaction
- Resolve the COD collection problems
- Single click 2FA facility to the customers seamless pull
- In App payment (IAP)
- The Sahariya tribal community of Shahbad region in Baran district, Rajasthan which recorded 47 starvation deaths during the 2001 drought, has been waiting for concerted welfare measures that could take them out of poverty, unemployment and malnutrition.
- About Sahariya tribal community:
- This is a 70,000-strong community has been classified as a particularly vulnerable tribal group because of its low development indices.
- It is the only primitive tribe of the Rajasthan.
- They follow Hindu religious practices and speak a dialect influenced by Hadoti.
- The main business is gathering and selling of forest wood, gum, Tendu leaf, honey, fruits and vegetables.
- Sahariya tribal have been preserving and conserving the traditional white chalk on red background Mandana drawings, seen on the walls and floors of rural houses.
- Tribal art of mandana:
- Mandana paintings are one of the oldest forms of tribal art in India that has survived over the ages.
- Famed for warding off evil and acting as a good luck charm, the tribal paintings are derived from the word ‘Mandan’ referring to decoration and beautification and comprises simple geometric forms like triangles, squares and circles to decorate houses.
- The art is typically passed on from mother to daughter and uses white khariya or chalk solution and geru or red ochre.
- Twigs are used to draw on the floors and walls of their houses, which are first plastered with clay mixed with cow dung.
Mandana art work on the walls of Rajasthani mud huts from Shilpgram, Udaipur.
- A new study offers hope for wild tiger populations across countries by showing that under optimal conditions, tiger numbers can triple in 18 sites across the world, including eight in India.
- About the study: The study, published in PLOS ONE, was conducted by 49 conservationists of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) across 10 tiger-range countries.
- The best available information was compiled including the occurrence and abundances of tigers and their prey from available scientific studies, the connectivity of the protected areas and availability of protected buffer forests nearby as well as human disturbances including fragmentation through the Human Footprint Index.
- This information was used for developing site-specific and ecologically realistic targets and timelines for the recovery of tiger populations in 18 tiger global “recovery sites”.
- The eight “recovery sites” in India with potential for increasing tiger numbers are the following:
- Anamalai-Vazhachal (in Tamil Nadu-Kerala)
- Sathyamangalam (Tamil Nadu)
- Balaghat (Madhya Pradesh)
- Achanakmar (Chattisgarh)
- Western Rajaji and Nandhaur (Uttarakhand)
- Manas (across Assam-Bhutan)
- Valmiki (across Bihar-Nepal)
- Currently, these regions support an estimated 62 tigers which could rise to 287 over the next 30-50 years, an increase of more than four times in India alone.
- Tackling growing incidents of human–tiger conflict in these areas would be crucial to aid this increase, according to the study.
- The goal of doubling tiger numbers from about 3,200 to about 6,000 by 2022 may have been an “ambitious goal” that the signatories of the Global Tiger Recovery Program took on.
- This new assessment could guide planning for tiger recovery globally and help inform more effective, integrated approaches to tiger conservation.
- This study affirms the need for tiger-range governments to take a holistic, long-term view towards tiger recovery which must include plans for revival of prey animals and other wildlife at the site- level.
The GTRP has been developed, with the shared goal of doubling the number of wild tigers globally by 2022 through actions to:
(i) Effectively manage, preserve, protect, and enhance tiger habitats;
(ii) Eradicate poaching, smuggling, and illegal trade of tigers, their parts, and derivatives;
(iii) Cooperate in transboundary landscape management and in combating illegal trade;
(iv) Engage with indigenous and local communities;
(v) Increase the effectiveness of tiger and habitat management; and
(vi) Restore tigers to their former range.
- The 13 Asian Tiger Range Countries (TRCs) are Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russian Federation, Thailand, and Vietnam.