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Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2019

Paper: General Studies 2

Topic: mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

Why in the news?

  • The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2019 was introduced in Lok Sabha on July 19, 2019 by the Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment.

What are the major provisions of the bill?

  • Definition of a transgender person: The Bill defines a transgender person as one whose gender does not match the gender assigned at birth.  It includes trans-men and trans-women, persons with intersex variations, gender-queers, and persons with socio-cultural identities, such as kinnar and hijra.  Intersex variations is defined to mean a person who at birth shows variation in his or her primary sexual characteristics, external genitalia, chromosomes, or hormones from the normative standard of male or female body.
  • Prohibition against discrimination: The Bill prohibits the discrimination against a transgender person, including denial of service or unfair treatment in relation to: (i) education; (ii) employment; (iii) healthcare; (iv) access to, or enjoyment of goods, facilities, opportunities available to the public; (v) right to movement; (vi) right to reside, rent, or otherwise occupy property; (vii) opportunity to hold public or private office; and (viii) access to a government or private establishment in whose care or custody a transgender person is.
  • Right of residence: Every transgender person shall have a right to reside and be included in his household.  If the immediate family is unable to care for the transgender person, the person may be placed in a rehabilitation centre, on the orders of a competent court.
  • Employment: No government or private entity can discriminate against a transgender person in employment matters, including recruitment, and promotion.  Every establishment is required to designate a person to be a complaint officer to deal with complaints in relation to the Act.
  • Education: Educational institutions funded or recognised by the relevant government shall provide inclusive education, sports and recreational facilities for transgender persons, without discrimination.
  • Health care: The government must take steps to provide health facilities to transgender persons including separate HIV surveillance centres, and sex reassignment surgeries.  The government shall review medical curriculum to address health issues of transgender persons, and provide comprehensive medical insurance schemes for them.
  • Certificate of identity for a transgender person: A transgender person may make an application to the District Magistrate for a certificate of identity, indicating the gender as ‘transgender’.  A revised certificate may be obtained only if the individual undergoes surgery to change their gender either as a male or a female.
  • Welfare measures by the government: The Bill states that the relevant government will take measures to ensure the full inclusion and participation of transgender persons in society.  It must also take steps for their rescue and rehabilitation, vocational training and self-employment, create schemes that are transgender sensitive, and promote their participation in cultural activities. 
  • Offences and penalties: The Bill recognizes the following offences against transgender persons: (i) forced or bonded labour (excluding compulsory government service for public purposes), (ii) denial of use of public places, (iii) removal from household, and village, (iv) physical, sexual, verbal, emotional or economic abuse.  Penalties for these offences vary between six months and two years, and a fine.
  • National Council for Transgender persons (NCT): The NCT will consist of: (i) Union Minister for Social Justice (Chairperson); (ii) Minister of State for Social Justice (Vice- Chairperson); (iii) Secretary of the Ministry of Social Justice; (iv) one representative from ministries including Health, Home Affairs, and Human Resources Development.  Other members include representatives of the NITI Aayog, and the National Human Rights Commission. State governments will also be represented. The Council will also consist of five members from the transgender community and five experts from non-governmental organisations. 
  • The Council will advise the central government as well as monitor the impact of policies, legislation and projects with respect to transgender persons. It will also redress the grievances of transgender persons. 

Unlawful Activities Prevention (Amendment) Bill, 2019

Paper: General Studies 3

Topic: Security challenges

Why in the news?

Lok Sabha passed the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2019 on Wednesday.

What are the major amendments introduced in the Act by the bill?

  • The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2019 was introduced in Lok Sabha by the Minister of Home Affairs on July 8, 2019. The Bill amends the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.  The Act provides special procedures to deal with terrorist activities, among other things.
  • Who may commit terrorism: Under the Act, the central government may designate an organisation as a terrorist organisation if it: (i) commits or participates in acts of terrorism, (ii) prepares for terrorism, (iii) promotes terrorism, or (iv) is otherwise involved in terrorism.  The Bill additionally empowers the government to designate individuals as terrorists on the same grounds.  
  • Approval for seizure of property by NIA: Under the Act, an investigating officer is required to obtain the prior approval of the Director General of Police to seize properties that may be connected with terrorism.  The Bill adds that if the investigation is conducted by an officer of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), the approval of the Director General of NIA would be required for seizure of such property.  
  • Investigation by NIA: Under the Act, investigation of cases may be conducted by officers of the rank of Deputy Superintendent or Assistant Commissioner of Police or above.  The Bill additionally empowers the officers of the NIA, of the rank of Inspector or above, to investigate cases.
  • Insertion to schedule of treaties: The Act defines terrorist acts to include acts committed within the scope of any of the treaties listed in a schedule to the Act.  The Schedule lists nine treaties, including the Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings (1997), and the Convention against Taking of Hostages (1979). The Bill adds another treaty to the list.  This is the International Convention for Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (2005).     

Fair and Remunerative Price

Paper: General Studies 3

Topic: Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices; Public Distribution System

Why in the news?

  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved the proposal in respect of Determination of ‘Fair and Remunerative Price’ (FRP) of sugarcane payable by sugar mills for 2019-20 sugar season.
  • The FRP is based on the recommendation of the Commission of Agricultural Costs & Prices (CACP) as per its report of August 2018 on the price policy for sugarcane for the 2019-20 season. The CACP has recommended the same price for the 2019-20 sugar season as it was for the sugar season 2018-19.

What is the Fair and Remunerative Price?

  • The Fair and Remunerative Pricing is used in sugarcane industry to replace the MSP. This is based on the Rangarajan Committee report of reorganising the sugarcane industry. The committee found that in the production of sugar 70% of the input cost is sugarcane.
  • In FRP the farmer is paid 70% of the total turnover of the company if only the sugar turnover is considered and 75% of the total turnover if other products like bagasse and molasses etc are also considered.
  • The final FRP is arrived by taking into account various factors such as cost of production, domestic and international prices, overall demand-supply situation, inter-crop price parity, terms of trade prices of primary by-products and its impact on general price level and resource use efficiency.

Global Innovation Index

Paper: General Studies 3

Topic: Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

Why in the news?

Union Minister of Commerce & Industry and Railways launched the Global Innovation Index (GII) 2019 in New Delhi. India jumped five places to improve its position from 57th last year to 52nd in 2019.

What is the Global Innovation Index?

  • The GII rankings are published every year by Cornell University, INSEAD and the UN World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and GII Knowledge Partners. 
  • This is the 12th edition of the GII rankings of 129 economies based on 80 indicators ranging from intellectual property filing rates to mobile-application creation, education spending and scientific and technical publications.
  • Switzerland remains number one is the GII index followed by Sweden, the United States of America, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Finland, Denmark, Singapore, Germany and Israel.
  • The theme for GII 2019 is ‘Creating Healthy Lives- The Future of Medical Innovation’.

Intellectual Property

Paper: General Studies 3

Topic: issues relating to intellectual property rights.

What is meant by intellectual property?

  • Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce.
  • IP is protected in law by, for example, patents, copyright and trademarks, which enable people to earn recognition or financial benefit from what they invent or create. By striking the right balance between the interests of innovators and the wider public interest, the IP system aims to foster an environment in which creativity and innovation can flourish.

What are the types of intellectual property?

  • Copyright:Copyright is a legal term used to describe the rights that creators have over their literary and artistic works. Works covered by copyright range from books, music, paintings, sculpture and films, computer programs, databases, advertisements, maps to technical drawings.
  • Patents: A patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention. Generally speaking, a patent provides the patent owner with the right to decide how – or whether – the invention can be used by others. In exchange for this right, the patent owner makes technical information about the invention publicly available in the published patent document.
  • Trademarks: A trademark is a sign capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one enterprise from those of other enterprises. Trademarks date back to ancient times when artisans used to put their signature or “mark” on their products.
  • Industrial Designs: An industrial design constitutes the ornamental or aesthetic aspect of an article. A design may consist of three-dimensional features, such as the shape or surface of an article, or two-dimensional features, such as patterns, lines or color.
  • Geographical Indications: Geographical indications and appellations of origin are signs used on goods that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities, a reputation or characteristics that are essentially attributable to that place of origin. Most commonly, a geographical indication includes the name of the place of origin of the goods.
  • Plant variety Protection: Protection granted for plant varieties developed by farmers and breeders to encourage the development of new varieties of plants.

What steps have been taken by India to strengthen Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) regime in the country?

  • The National IPR Policy, 2016 was adopted on 12.05.2016 as a vision document to guide future development of IPRs in the country.
  • The administration of Copyright Act, 1957 and Semiconductor Integrated Circuits Layout-Design Act, 2000, along with their associated Registries, has been transferred to the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT).
  • Subsequently, under the Finance Act, 2017, the Copyright Board has also been merged in the Intellectual Property Appellate Board.
  • The Patents Rules, 2003 and the Trademarks Rules, 2002 have been amended whereby the IP processes have been re-engineered to streamline them and make them more user-friendly.
  • Manpower in the Intellectual Property offices has been ramped up significantly with fresh recruitments. This augmentation of manpower has already had a salutary effect on the examination and disposal of patent and trademark applications. The examination time for trademark applications has come down from the earlier 13 months to just 1 month. The disposal of patent applications has increased by more than twofold in 2018-19 vis-à-vis 2015-16.
  • IPR awareness and training programmes are held for academic institutions, industry associations and enforcement agencies. 
  • Special provisions have been made for startups and MSMEs.
  • The Government has entered into an agreement with World Intellectual Property Organisation for establishment of Technology and Innovation Support Centers (TISC).
  • The Commercial Courts set up under the Commercial Courts, Commercial Division and Commercial Appellate Division of High Courts Act, 2015 also deal with IP disputes.
  • India has acceded to a number of multilateral treaties and agreements in the past two years, such as the WIPO Copyright Treaty, WIPO Performance and Phonograms Treaty, Nice Agreement concerning the international classification of goods & services for the purposes of registration of marks, the Vienna Agreement establishing an international classification of the figurative elements for marks and Locarno Agreement establishing an international classification for industrial designs.

R&D Expenditure Ecosystem

Paper: General Studies 3

Topic: issues relating to intellectual property rights.

Why in the news?

India’s R&D Expenditure Ecosystem report, prepared by the PM Economic Advisory Council (PM-EAC) was released at the launch of the Global Innovation Index.

About the R&D Expenditure Ecosystem Report

  • The objective of the report is to address the data gaps in compiling R&D data so that up to date data on R&D is available in order to reflect India’s true rank globally. The second objective is to examine expenditure trends in various sectors and their shortcomings. The final objective is to lay down the road map for achieving the desired target of R&D spend by the year 2022.
  • The EAC-PM said that the line ministries at the Centre could be mandated to allocate a certain percentage of their budget for research and innovation for developing and deploying technologies as per the priorities of the respective ministries.
  • It pointed out that India’s public investment in R&D as a fraction of GDP has remained stagnant over the last two decades. It has remained constant at around 0.6 per cent to 0.7 per cent of GDP and this is well below the major countries such as the United States (US) (2.8 per cent), China (2.1 per cent), Israel (4.3 per cent) and Korea (4.2 per cent), the report said.
  • To ensure that India leaps into a leadership role in innovation and industrial R&D by stimulating private sector’s investment in R&D from current 0.35 per cent of GDP, it is suggested that a minimum percentage of turn-over of the company may be invested in R&D by medium and large enterprises registered in India – the report stressed.
  • It also recommended that to help and keep the industry enthused to invest in R&D, there is case for not enforcing the complete withdrawal of weighted deduction provisions on R&D investment by April 1, 2020.
  • According to the report, it will be appropriate that states partner with the Centre to jointly fund research and innovation programmes through socially designed Central Sponsored Schemes(CSS).
  • Current tax laws already favour CSR investment into R&D, the report said, adding that but the types of R&D activities eligible can be expanded.
  • Noting that government expenditure on R&D is undertaken almost entirely by the central government, the report said, “There is a need for greater participation of state government and private sector in overall R&D spending.”
  • It also emphasised that wealth must be increasingly invested in building strong foundation that increases new knowledge. “Our metrics therefore should assess impact of R&D both on discovery and the knowledge economy,” it said.
  • The report also pitched for creating 30 dedicated R&D Exports Hub and a corpus of Rs 5,000 crore for funding mega projects with cross cutting themes which are of national interest.

North Eastern States Road Investment Programme 

Paper: General Studies 3

Topic: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

Why in the news?

The work of “Barpeta to Kalitakuchi” (58.5 Km) road is going on in the State of Assam under ADB assisted North Eastern States Road Investment Programme (NESRIP) project.

What is the North Eastern States Road Investment Programme (NESRIP) project?

  • The Scheme, North Eastern State Roads Investment Programme (NESRIP) was approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on 19th May 2011 at estimated cost of Rs.1353.83 crore ($298.2 million @ $1=Rs.45.4). The scheme envisaged construction/up-gradation of total 433.425 km long roads in 6 North Eastern States of Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Sikkim and Tripura.
  • Asian Development Bank (ADB) is providing loan assistance of upto US $ 200 million (Rs.908 crore @ $1=Rs.45.4) under Multi-tranche Financing Facility (MFF), in two tranches. Tranche I – Loan Agreement for US $74.8 million has been signed on 9th July 2012 which became effective from 22nd October, 2012. Tranche II – Loan Agreement for US $125.2 million has been signed between GOI and ADB on 17th Feb., 2014 which became effective from 20th May, 2014. 
  • Five roads (Length-197.30 Kms.) Roads are to be taken up in Tranche- I and 6 roads (Length – 236.125kms) are to be taken up in Tranche-II. Project is to be executed during the period of 5 years as per approved CCEA dt. 19th May, 2011. The last date on which any disbursement under any Tranche may be made will be 30th June, 2021.

Prelims Specific

  • A new species of dragon tree have been discovered in the Dongka Sarpo area of West Karbi Anglong in Assam named Dracaena cambodiana. It oozes a bright red resin which is used in medicine, body oil, varnish, incense and dye.