Daily Current Affairs and MCQs for UPSC - March 26, 2020 (The Hindu, Economic Times, PIB)

Germany’s Kurzarbeit scheme, for payment of staff hit by lost work hours

Focus: GS3.                           

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

Context

Germany’s use of Kurzarbeit during the 2008-2009 economic crisis has been cited as one of the reasons why the country was able to hold its unemployment rate to within 7.5 per cent even during the recession.

Background

  • Amid the all-round disruption caused to the economy by the novel coronavirus outbreak, a concern across the world is the possibility of loss of jobs.
  • Various governments have unveiled various measures to address such concerns, and one of the most talked about is Kurzarbeit, Germany’s existing scheme that provides for partial compensation for a worker’s earnings in such situations, and now modified to account for the current crisis.

About the scheme

  • Kurzarbeit is German for “short-work”.
  • The policy provides for a short-time work allowance, called kurzarbeitgeld, which partially compensates for lost earnings during uncertain economic situations.
  • The policy was rolled out during the 2008 economic crisis while its origins date back as far as the early 20th century, before and after World War I.
  • When companies face a loss of earnings due to unforeseen economic situations, they often need to cut back on their working hours or send some of their employees home.
  • The Kurzarbeit scheme aims to address workers who are impacted by loss of income due to shortened work hours during such times.
  • They can apply for short-term work benefits under the scheme, with the government stepping in to pay employees a part of their lost income.
  • This helps the companies retain their employees instead of laying them off, and allows the latter to sustain themselves for a period of up to 12 months.
  • The German cabinet is planning to extend the benefit of short-time work allowance by the first half of April through legislation.
  • As of now, if a company sees a decline in orders as a result of the current economic situation, it can announce short-time work, provided that a minimum of 30 per cent of its workforce will be affected by lack of work.
  • With the new legislation, the ceiling will be revised to 10 per cent of the workforce.

About the quantum of payment

  • Payment under Kurzarbeit is calculated on the basis of net loss of earnings.
  • As per Germany’s Federal Agency for Work, short-time employees generally receive about 60 per cent of the flat-rate net wage, In case there is at least one child in the house of the short-time worker, he/she receives 67 per cent of the flat-rate net wage.

Source: Indian Express.

National Forensic Sciences University bill introduced in LS

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

Context

  • A bill seeking to establish a National Forensic Sciences University as an institution of national importance by upgrading the Gujarat Forensic Sciences University in Gandhinagar was introduced in Lok Sabha.
  • The National Forensic Sciences University Bill, 2020 was introduced by Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy.

Objective of the bill

  • The statement of objects and reasons of the bill states that forensic sciences, criminology and applied behavioural sciences play a critical role in criminal investigations and prevention of crimes.
  • Criminal justice covers the entire gamut of processes through which crimes are investigated, criminals identified and apprehended, judged, punished and steps taken to prevent recidivism.
  • It says that augmentation of machinery and equipment in the forensic facilities in several states is done through procurement and there is paucity of trained and qualified manpower to use the information for criminal investigation.
  • "An infusion of academic knowledge, professional skills and the requisite orientation at national level is required to attract talent into this sector.
  • To address this gap, it is proposed to establish a National Forensic Sciences University by upgrading the Gujarat Forensic Sciences University, Gandhinagar, Gujarat, established under the State Act, that is, the Gujarat Forensic Sciences University Act, 2008 and the Lok Nayak Jayaprakash Narayan National Institute of Criminology and Forensic Sciences, New Delhi, as an institution of national importance," read a statement.

Highlights

  • The proposed National Forensic Sciences University will promote studies and research in forensic science in conjunction with applied behavioural science studies, law, criminology and other allied areas for strengthening criminal justice system in the country.
  • It would be a teaching, research and affiliating university and may affiliate colleges and other institutions in states and union territories.
  • Apart from imparting education, the proposed university would also set up centres of excellence in the area of forensic sciences and provide modern facilities in these areas.

Source: India Today.

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Bill to upgrade Rakha Shakti University as institute if national importance introduced in Lok Sabha

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate.

Context

The government introduced a bill seeking to upgrade the Gujarat-based Raksha Shakti University as an institution of national importance and also change its name.

Objective of the bill

  • The objective of the bill is to declare the Rashtriya Raksha University as an institution of national importance.
  • At present, there are only few institutions in the country which provide the environment, infrastructure and specialisation for imparting education in police sciences and internal security to meet the demands of modern, citizen-centric policing.
  • Hence, there is a need to develop perspectives, undertake research and impart knowledge in the domain of policing and allied areas to the youth aspiring to join police and security forces at national level, the bill says.
  • To address the aforesaid, it is proposed to establish the Rashtriya Raksha University by upgrading the Raksha Shakti University, Gandhinagar, Gujarat, established under the State Act, that is, the Raksha Shakti University Act, 2009 by the Government of Gujarat as an institution of national importance, it says.

Highlights

  • The Rashtriya Raksha University (in place of Raksha Shakti University) will be a multi-disciplinary institution to create new knowledge through research and collaboration with different stakeholders. While the Raksha Shakti University was a state university, the Rashtriya Raksha University will be a central institute.
  • It will also help to fulfil the need for a pool of trained professionals with specialised knowledge and new skill sets in various wings of policing, criminal justice system and correctional administration, it said.
  • The Rashtriya Raksha University is proposed to be a multi-disciplinary university to create new knowledge through research and collaboration with different stakeholders and help to fulfill the need for a pool of trained professionals with specialised knowledge and new skill sets in various wings of policing, the criminal justice system and correctional administration.
  • The university will have linkage with world class universities in other countries, which will be need based, for the purpose of exchange of contemporary research, academic collaboration, course design, technical know-how and training and skill development.
  • The university will promote global standards and provide dynamic and high standards of learning and research; working environment dedicated to the advancement and dissemination of education, research, training and scholarship of the highest quality in the domain of policing including coastal policing, security, law enforcement, criminal justice, cyber security, cyber crime, artificial intelligence and related areas of internal security; and public safety. Foreigners, Overseas Citizens of India cardholders, Non Resident Indians, Indian origin people living in Gulf and South East Asian countries can enroll in the university.

Source: India Today.

Cabinet okays extension of tax rebate scheme for export of garments

Focus: GS2.

Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Context

  • The government approved the continuation of the scheme for Rebate of State and Central Taxes and Levies (RoSCTL) on export of garments and made-ups from beyond March 31 till it is merged with the Remission of Duties and Taxes on Exported Products scheme.

Background

  • The continuation of the RoSCTL scheme beyond March 31, 2020, is expected to make the textile sector competitive by rebating all taxes/levies which are currently not being rebated under any other mechanism.
  • The rebate of state and central taxes and levies on export of garments and made-ups (RoSCTL) scheme for apparel and made-ups will be continued with effect from 1April, 2020 without any change in scheme guidelines and rates as notified by Ministry of Textiles till such time that the RoSCTL is merged with remission of duties and taxes on exported products (RoDTEP).

Highlights

  • The RoSCTL scheme provides rebate on all embedded taxes on exports.
  • Under the scheme, maximum rate of rebate for apparel is 6.05 per cent, while for made-ups, this goes up to 8.2 per cent.
  • The made-ups segment comprises home textiles products such as bed linen, curtains, pillows and carpets.
  • Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had in September last year approved the Remission of Duties or Taxes on Export Product (RoDTEP) to incentivise exporters at an estimated cost of Rs 50,000 crore to the exchequer.

Source: Business Standard.

Scientists of ARI, Pune develop biofortified, high protein wheat variety

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Food processing and related industries in India- scope and significance, location, upstream and downstream requirements, supply chain management.

Context

Scientists from Agharkar Research Institute (ARI), Pune, an autonomous institute under the Department of Science & Technology, Government of India, have developed a biofortified durum wheat variety MACS 4028, which shows high protein content.

Background

  • The wheat variety developed by the ARI scientists group on Wheat improvement, shown high protein content of about 14.7%, better nutritional quality having zinc 40.3 ppm, and iron content of 40.3ppm and 46.1ppm respectively, good milling quality and overall acceptability.

Highlight

  • MACS 4028, the development of which was published in the Indian Journal of Genetics and Plant Breeding, is a semi-dwarf variety, which matures in 102 days and has shown the superior and stable yielding ability of 19.3 quintals per hectare.
  • It is resistant to stem rust, leaf rust, foliar aphids, root aphids, and brown wheat mite.
  • The MACS 4028 variety is also included by the Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) programme for United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) to alleviate malnutrition in a sustainable way and can boost the Vision 2022 “Kuposhan Mukt Bharat”, the National Nutrition Strategy.
  • An endeavor to tackle the hidden hunger in the rural areas of India is being continued using traditional plant breeding approach to achieve “Kuposhan Mukt Bharat.”
  • The wheat variety MACS 4028 has been notified by the Central Sub-Committee on Crop Standards, Notification and Release of Varieties for Agricultural Crops (CVRC) for timely sown, rainfed condition of Peninsular Zone, comprising Maharashtra and Karnataka.
  • Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has also tagged this variety under the Biofortified category during the year 2019.

Source: PIB.

Test your Knowledge

  1. Consider the following statements wrt Invest India Business Immunity Platform:
    1. Invest India is India’s national Investment Promotion & Facilitation Agency.
    2. It is under the Ministry of Home Affairs.
    3. It is designed as a comprehensive resource to help businesses and investors get real-time updates on India’s active response to Coronavirus.

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 1 and 3 only
  3. 2 and 3 only
  4. 1, 2 and 3

Solution: B

2. Consider the following:

  • It is under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
“Kurzarbeit scheme” is an initiative of which of the following countries?

    1. China
    2. Italy
    3. Germany
    4. France

Solution: C
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