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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 25 March 2021 | Legacy IAS Academy

Contents

  1. Credibility of the 2020 Oxfam inequality index
  2. National Commission for Allied & Healthcare Professionals Bill
  3. Bankruptcy courts await a flood of default filings
  4. Parliamentary panel: Define unfair trade practice for e-com

CREDIBILITY OF THE 2020 OXFAM INEQUALITY INDEX

Context:

Indian Labour and Employment Minister accused that the 2020 Oxfam inequality index lacked clarity and did not take into account provisions of the four new labour codes.

In response the non-profit group Oxfam India said that the methodology adopted in the index is in the public domain as is the basis of India’s scoring.

Relevance:

GS-II: Social Justice (Issues Related to Poverty, Hunger and Employment, Important reports regarding those issues)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Commitment to Reducing Inequality (CRI) Index 2020
  2. Highlights of the Oxfam Commitment to Reducing Inequality (CRI) Index 2020
  3. How did the other countries fare?
  4. Way Forwards suggested by the Oxfam report

About Commitment to Reducing Inequality (CRI) Index 2020

  • The Commitment to Reducing Inequality (CRI) Index 2020 is developed and delivered through a partnership between Development Finance International and Oxfam International, with inputs from independent experts.
  • The index doesn’t aim to measure inequality, instead it focuses on what each government is doing to fight inequality.
  • It shows how governments are performing in relation to each other, and how each country is improving (or not) in fighting inequality.
  • The 2020 index ranks 158 governments on their policies on public services, tax and workers’ rights, the three crucial areas to reduce inequality.

Highlights of the Oxfam Commitment to Reducing Inequality (CRI) Index 2020

  • India was ranked 129 among 158 countries overall, in the 2020 Commitment to Reducing Inequality (CRI) Index.
  • As per the index, India is among the world’s worst-performing countries in tackling inequality going into the pandemic.
  • India’s health budget is the world’s fourth-lowest and only half of the population has access to even the most basic healthcare services, and more than 70% of health spending is being met by people themselves, one of the highest levels in the world.
  • India spent less than 4% of its budget on health and was ranked 155th on the health spending, the fourth lowest in the world.
  • Only about 10% of the workforce in India is formal, with safe working conditions and social security.
  • Most workers earn less than half of the minimum wage and more than 70% do not have any written job contract and more than half of the workers do not get paid leave.
  • Several states had passed laws that increase daily working hours from 8 to 12 hours a day and suspend minimum pay legislation, which was devastating the livelihoods of millions of poor workers now battling hunger during the COVID-19 pandemic.
HOW THE SAARC NATIONS FARE 
Bangladesh 
Nepal 
Bhutan 
Afghanistan 
Sri Lanka 
•Health + eduatjm • 
141 
148 
142 
124 
153 
106 
19 
n 
32 
16 
130 
6 
91 
151 
116 
109 
130 
141 
113 
86

How did the other countries fare?

  • Most of the countries near the top of the index are countries with higher gross domestic products (GDP) with a greater scope to spend those revenues on public services and social protection.
  • Norway took the top spot followed by Denmark, Germany and Belgium.
  • At the bottom of the Index is South Sudan, along with Nigeria, Bahrain, Chad and Liberia.
  • Amongst the SAARC countries, in the overall rankings, India was placed below its neighbors Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka. Bhutan was placed below India at 146th position.

Way Forwards suggested by the Oxfam report

  • Governments must adopt strong anti-inequality policies on public services, tax and labour rights, to significantly reduce the gap between rich and poor.
  • Governments, international institutions and other stakeholders should work together to rapidly improve data on inequality and related policies, and to accurately and regularly monitor progress in reducing inequality.
  • The most urgent policy measures include a global commitment and funding to ensure that COVID-19 vaccines will be free to all countries.
  • In response to the pandemic, countries must increase their efforts towards National Inequality Reduction Plans under Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 10.
  • [SDG 10 calls for reducing inequalities in income as well as those based on age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status within a country.]

-Source: The Hindu


NATIONAL COMMISSION FOR ALLIED & HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONALS BILL

Context:

The Lok Sabha cleared the National Commission for Allied and Healthcare Professionals Bill, 2021, after the Rajya Sabha had passed it earlier.

Relevance:

GS-II: Social Justice (Health related issues, Government Policies and Interventions)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Who are Allied and Healthcare Professionals?
  2. National Commission for Allied and Healthcare Professionals Bill, 2021
  3. The Statutory National Commission under the bill
  4. Who will be able to practice as an allied and healthcare professional?

Who are Allied and Healthcare Professionals?

  • The allied and healthcare professions include a wide range of workers for diagnosis, evaluation, and treatment of acute and chronic diseases. These professions also work to optimise patient outcomes and attend to the overall prevention, promotion, wellness, and management of diseases.
  • Doctors, nurses, frontline workers, security staff, CT scan and lab technicians, radiographers, dieticians, etc., who served during the Covid crisis as frontline warriors are allied and healthcare workers.

National Commission for Allied and Healthcare Professionals Bill, 2021

  • The National Commission for Allied and Healthcare Professionals Bill, 2021 is aimed at fulfilling long-pending demands of the sector, and enhance employment opportunities for professionals.
  • This bill is passed on the background of the highly commendable role played by paramedics and allied healthcare workers lab technicians, radiographers, dieticians during the COVID-19 pandemic – recognising the contribution of allied healthcare professional, giving them dignity and establishing the respect long due to them.
  • The Bill will set up a regulatory structure for 50 categories of allied healthcare and try and shift the treatment of patients from being doctor centric to team centric.
  • The standards for regulation, training, eligibility and service have been coded by international yardsticks and according to International Labour Code (ILO) codes.

The Statutory National Commission under the bill

  • The bill seeks to set up a commission to regulate the allied healthcare sector, standardize training and qualifications across the country.
  • The Bill aims to establish a statutory body or commission that frames policies and standards, regulate professional conduct and qualifications for allied healthcare professionals, besides providing uniformity of service standards across institutions.
  • The chairman and vice-chairman of the body will be selected for two years and they would be eligible for renomination for further two terms.
  • State governments will be represented in the commission, 12 seats have been set aside for them, and State-level commissions are also to be set up under the Bill.

Who will be able to practice as an allied and healthcare professional?

  • Under the legislation by the government, only those who are enrolled in a National Register or the State Register as a healthcare professional or a qualified practitioner will be allowed to practice as an allied and healthcare professional.
  • The Allied and Healthcare professions that have been mentioned under the latest bill include the professionals working in trauma and burn care, life sciences, physiotherapists, surgical and anaesthesia-related technology, and nutrition science.

-Source: The Hindu


BANKRUPTCY COURTS AWAIT A FLOOD OF DEFAULT FILINGS

Context:

In order to provide relief to Covid-19 pandemic-hit companies, the government temporarily suspended the initiation of corporate insolvency resolution processes in 2020.

The government is expecting a flurry of default cases in the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) now and preparing a framework so that the lender and the borrower could settle the matter outside the tribunal.

Relevance:

GS-III: Indian Economy (Economic Development of India, Macroeconomics, NPAs)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT)
  2. What is the need for intervention to resolve mounting NPAs?
  3. What is the government doing regarding surge of NPAs?
  4. What can be done for better resolution?
  5. National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT)
  6. Differences between NCLT and NCLAT

National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT)

  • The National Company Law Tribunal is a quasi-judicial body in India that adjudicates issues relating to Indian companies.
  • The tribunal was established under the Companies Act 2013 and was constituted on 1 June 2016 by the government of India.
  • Hence, NCLT is a Statutory Body.
  • All proceedings under the Companies Act, including proceedings relating to arbitration, compromise, arrangements and reconstruction and winding up of companies shall be disposed of by the National Company Law Tribunal.
  • The National Company Law Tribunal is the adjudicating authority for insolvency resolution process of companies and limited liability partnerships under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
  • No criminal court shall have jurisdiction to entertain any suit or proceeding in respect of any matter which the Tribunal or the Appellate Tribunal is empowered to determine by or under this Act or any other law for the time being in force and no injunction shall be granted by any court or other authority in respect of any action taken or to be taken in pursuance of any power conferred by or under this Act or any other law for the time being in force, by the Tribunal or the Appellate Tribunal.

What is the need for intervention to resolve mounting NPAs?

  • According to the latest Financial Stability Report (FSR) of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the gross NPA ratio of all scheduled commercial banks may increase from 7.5% in September 2020 to 13.5% by September 2021 in a baseline scenario and may escalate to almost 15% under a severe stress scenario.
  • Delays in disposal of IBC cases were having an adverse impact on efforts by banks and financial institution to recover non-performing assets.
  • According to the officials, the number of total pending cases in the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) has mounted to over 20 thousand.

What is the government doing regarding surge of NPAs?

  • Lenders are free to initiate new insolvency and bankruptcy proceedings against financially stressed companies as the one-year moratorium period has ended and as per the law, the moratorium, cannot be extended beyond one year.
  • In order to reduce the burden on the NCLT, the government is working to provide a framework to save small and medium firms from the lengthy legal hassles.
  • The framework will have a provision of pre-pack mechanism, which can be used by lenders and investors to resolve the matter amicably.

What can be done for better resolution?

  • Government should look to expedite bringing provisions around pre-pack which can facilitate consensual resolution of case between corporate debtor and lenders.
  • The government needs to enhance the entire NCLT infrastructure and simplify admission procedures so that stressed companies referred to the NCLT can be resolved faster.

National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT)

  • The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) is a tribunal which was formed by the Central Government of India under Section 410 of the Companies Act, 2013.
  • Hence, NCLAT is also a Statutory Body.
  • The tribunal is responsible for hearing appeals from the orders of National Company Law Tribunal(s) (NCLT), starting on 1 June, 2016.
  • The tribunal also hears appeals from orders issued by the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India under Section 202 and Section 211 of IBC.
  • It also hears appeals from any direction issued, decision made, or order passed by the Competition Commission of India.

Differences between NCLT and NCLAT

  • NCLT makes the judgement on the insolvency resolution proceedings. NCLAT makes judgement on the decisions made by the NCLT.
  • NCLT is the primary Tribunal and NCLAT is the appellate tribunal.
  • NCLT analyzes the evidences that are presented by the insolvent debtor or their creditors. NCLAT analyzes the decisions that are made by the NCLT.

-Source: The Hindu


PARLIAMENTARY PANEL: DEFINE UNFAIR TRADE PRACTICE FOR E-COM

Context:

A parliamentary panel, in its report on ‘The Consumer Protection (E-Commerce) Rules, 2020, has recommended that the government should offer a more clear-cut definition of what constitutes ‘unfair’ trade practice, along with practical legal remedy to tackle the issue.

Relevance:

GS-II: Polity and Governance (Government Policies & I Interventions for better Transparency & Accountability in Governance)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is Electronic Commerce (e-commerce)?
  2. About the Consumer Protection (E-Commerce) Rules, 2020
  3. Provisions of the new E-Commerce Rules
  4. What the new rules seek to achieve?
  5. Issues with the Consumer Protection (E-Commerce) Rules, 2020
  6. Lack of clarity in the rules:

What is Electronic Commerce (e-commerce)?

  • Electronic commerce or e-commerce (sometimes written as eCommerce) is a business model that lets firms and individuals buy and sell things over the internet.
  • E-commerce, which can be conducted over computers, tablets, or smartphones may be thought of like a digital version of mail-order catalog shopping.
  • Nearly every imaginable product and service is available through e-commerce transactions, including books, music, plane tickets, and financial services such as stock investing and online banking.

About the Consumer Protection (E-Commerce) Rules, 2020

The E-Commerce Rules issued by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, apply to:

  1. all goods/services bought or sold over digital or electronic network, including digital products,
  2. marketplace e-commerce entities (Marketplace Entities) and inventory e-commerce entities (Inventory Entities),
  3. all e-commerce retail, including multi-channel single brand retailers and single brand retailers in single and multiple formats such as single brand retailers who use multiple distribution channels such as offline retails stores in addition to e-commerce, and
  4. all forms of unfair trade practices (as defined under the CPA 2019) across all models of e-commerce.

The E-Commerce Rules also apply to entities which are not established in India but systematically offer goods or services to consumers in India.

  • The E-Commerce Rules specifically recognize and govern entities that are not established in India but systematically offer goods or services to consumers in India such as offshore online marketplaces.
  • In simple words, the Consumer Protection (E-Commerce) Rules, 2020 regulates all commercial transactions sold over a digital or electronic network.

Provisions of the new E-Commerce Rules

  • The Consumer Protection (E-commerce) Rules, 2020 are mandatory and are not advisories.
  • E-commerce entities are required to provide information to consumers, relating to return, refund, exchange, warranty and guarantee, delivery and shipment, modes of payment, grievance redressal mechanism, payment methods, security of payment methods, charge-back options and country of origin.
  • A manufacturer or product service provider or product seller will be held responsible to compensate for injury or damage caused by defective product or deficiency in services

What the new rules seek to achieve?

  • The country-of-origin requirement is significant as India and several other countries are currently re-negotiating their free trade agreements.
  • E-com rules prohibit unfair trade practices by entities and sellers on marketplaces and manipulation of price.
  • The entities are prohibited from manipulating the price of the goods or services to gain unreasonable profit by imposing unjustified price or charges on consumers.
  • The new rules also appear to be a move to ensure regulatory and enforcement control over foreign entities who offer goods and services in India and is in line with a similar classification under the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019, which extends its applicability to foreign entities who carry on business in India.

Issues with the Consumer Protection (E-Commerce) Rules, 2020

  • It remains unclear as to what would constitute price manipulation.
  • It also remains unclear how the e-commerce entities and sellers are expected to navigate these roadblocks without falling foul of such provisions.
  • Both the marketplace entity and sellers are now required to set up a grievance redressal mechanism, small businesses may not be in a position to comply.
  • The rules also prohibit an e-commerce entity from levying a charge for cancellation post confirmation.
  • While the provisions may be intended as safeguards that ensure a level-playing field, some of these conditions are impractical.

Applying identical rules does not convey a business-friendly approach.

Lack of clarity in the rules:

  • There is a lack of clarity regarding what activities may be classified as resulting in ‘unreasonable’ or ‘unjustified’ profits or ‘unfair’ practices.
  • This lack of clarity may result in consumer protection authorities scrutinizing pricing mechanisms used by e-commerce entities.
  • Data-driven pricing may also become an issue when it is used to provide offers or discounts to specific classes of consumers.
  • There is no clarity on what a ‘reasonable basis’ for such a classification may be, and this may lead to uncertainty with respect to the use of algorithms to customize offers or target specific consumers.

-Source: The Hindu

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