2ND NOVEMBER CURRENT AFFAIRS

1. Star Campaigner

News: The Election Commission (EC) has revoked the status of a veteran leader and former Madhya Pradesh CM as a star campaigner for the party.

Impact:

  • Now, the entire expenditure on any campaigning by Mr. Nath for the November 3 by-election would be borne by the candidate in whose constituency he campaigns.

Who is a Star Campaigner?

  • A star campaigner can be described as persons who are nominated by parties to campaign in a given set of constituencies. These persons are, in almost all cases, prominent and popular faces within the party.
  • There is no specific definition according to law or the Election Commission of India. Star campaigners for a party will not exceed 40 where it is a recognised political party. For parties that are deemed unrecognized, the number of star campaigners will not be more than 20.
  • Actors, celebrities and senior political party members are the ones who are nominated to be star campaigners. This is based on the premise that a popular face, someone that the common voter can immediately identify and side with, can rake in more votes for that political party.

Benefits:

  • The expenditure incurred on campaigning by such campaigners is exempt from being added to the election expenditure of a candidate. However, this only applies when a star campaigner limits herself to a general campaign for the political party she represents.
  • Recently, the Election Commission has revised norms for star campaigners for polls during the pandemic. As per the revised norms:
  • Maximum number of star campaigners reduced from 40 to 30 for a recognised party.
  • For unrecognised registered parties, the number of star campaigners has been reduced from 20 to 15.
  • Besides, they now require permission from the district election official 48 hours prior to campaigning.

2. Sexual Harassment and Code on Wages

News: There is a Provision in the Code on Wages that says those indulging in sexual harassment of any form could run the risk of losing out on bonus dues from their employers. The new Code is expected to become operational once the government notifies the rules.

Details:

  • The Code lays down norms for annual bonus dues that accrue to employees, replacing the Payment of Bonus Act, 1965,which bars bonus dues only in case of fraud, violent conduct and theft or sabotage.

Payment of Bonus Act, 1965:

  • The minimum bonus payable is 33% of the salary or wage earned by the employee during the accounting year subject to a maximum of 20% of such salary or wage and is applicable to all employees earning a salary of up to Rs. 21,000 a month.
  • Section 29 of the Code states that “Notwithstanding anything contained in this Code, an employee shall be disqualified from receiving bonus under this Code, if he is dismissed from service for fraud or riotous or violent behaviour while on the premises of the establishment or theft, misappropriation or sabotage of any property of the establishment or conviction for sexual harassment.” The salary and bonus payment limits are yet to be notified under the Code on Wages.
  • Other disqualification triggers are explicitly restricted to actions on an employer’s premises, the trigger referring to conviction under sexual harassment does not include such a condition about the location of the incident.
  • As of now, it is not clear if sexual harassment incidents or related crimes against women outside the workplace could lead to dismissal of employees with loss of bonus payments but it should come under the purview irrespective of where it is done.

Significance:

  • The prospect of losing one’s benefits may make employees more careful of their conduct, and they should be made aware of this provision.
  • This serves as an additional deterrent apart from the Prevention of Sexual Harassment (PoSH) law of 2013.
  • Firms are required to form an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC)to inquire into complaints.
  • The Committee is required to make recommendations to employers on the action required pursuant to its inquiry in such complaints.
  • If the ICC upholds a complaint, it could be construed as a conviction.
  • ICC has the powers to decide if someone is guilty and report it further to the police, though not all sexual harassment cases translate into a police case.

Code on Wages Act, 2019

  • The new wage code removes the multiplicity of wage definitions, which can significantly reduce litigation as well as compliance cost for employers.
  • It links minimum wage across the country to the skills of the employee and the place of employment.
  • It seeks to universalise the provisions of minimum wages and their timely payment to all employees irrespective of the sector and wage ceiling.
  • It seeks to ensure Right to Sustenance for every worker and intends to increase the legislative protection of minimum wage.
  • A National Floor Level Minimum Wage will be set by the Centre and will be revised every five years, while states will fix minimum wages for their regions, which cannot be lower than the floor wage.
  • It subsumes the following four labour laws:
  1. Payment of Wages Act, 1936
  2. Minimum Wages Act, 1948
  3. Payment of Bonus Act, 1965
  4. Equal Remuneration Act, 1976

Prevention Of Sexual Harassment Law 2013

  • Under it, sexual harassment includes any one or more of the following unwelcome acts or behaviour (whether directly or by implication):
  • Physical contact and advances.
  • Demand or request for sexual favours.
  • Making sexually coloured remarks.
  • Showing pornography.
  • Any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature.
  • As per the POSH law guidelines, firms are required to form an Internal Complaints Committee(ICC) to inquire into complaints of sexual harassment at the workplace. ICC is required to make recommendations to employers on the action required pursuant to its inquiry in such complaints.
  • If the ICC upholds a complaint, it could be interpreted as a conviction and ICC has the powers to decide if someone is guilty and report it further to the police, though not all sexual harassment cases translate into a police case.

3. NAFED

News: The central cooperative NAFED will soon begin importing onions in a bid to tame soaring prices before the festive season.

NAFED

  • National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd (NAFED) is an apex organization of marketing cooperatives for agricultural produce in India.
  • It was founded on 2 October 1958 to promote the trade of agricultural produce and forest resources across the nation. It is registered under the Multi-State Co-operative Societies Act.
  • NAFED is now one of the largest procurement as well as marketing agencies for agricultural products in India. With its headquarters in New Delhi, NAFED has four regional offices at Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata, apart from 28 zonal offices in capitals of states and important cities.

Functions of the NAFED

  • To facilitate, coordinate and promote the marketing and trading activities of the cooperative institutions, partners and associates in agricultural, other commodities, articles and goods
  • To undertake purchase, sale and supply of agricultural, marketing and processing requisites, such as manure, seeds, fertilizer, agricultural implements and machinery etc. and to act as a warehouseman under the Warehousing Act and own and construct its own godowns and cold storages
  • To act as agent of any Government agency or cooperative institution, for the purchase, sale, storage and distribution of agricultural, horticultural, forest and animal husbandry produce, wool, agricultural requisites and other consumer goods
  • To act as an insurance agent and to undertake all such work which is incidental to the same
  • To collaborate with any international agency or a foreign body for the development of cooperative marketing, processing and other activities for mutual advantage in India or abroad

4. National Unity Day

News: Every year, the National Unity Day (Rashtriya Ekta Diwas) is celebrated on 31st October to commemorate the birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. The Prime Minister launched the seaplane service from Ahmedabad to the Statue of Unity, Kevadia.

Details:

  • The day was celebrated for the first time in 2014,when the Government of India decided to celebrate Patel’s birthday as the National Unity Day to recognise his monumental contribution and service to the nation.
  • On this day, several events like Run For Unity, a nationwide marathon to increase awareness about Patel’s contributions, National Unity pledge, Ekta Parade, etc. are organised.
  • In 2018,the Government unveiled the Statue of Unity in Gujarat in Patel’s honour. It is the tallest statue (182-meter) in the world. In January 2020, it was added in the ‘Eight Wonders’ of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and his achievements

  • Born:31st October 1875 in Nadiad, Gujarat.
  • First Home Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of India.
  • Headed various Committees of the Constituent Assembly of India, namely:
  • Advisory Committee on Fundamental Rights.
  • Committee on Minorities and Tribal and Excluded Areas.
  • Provincial Constitution Committee.
  • Integrated the farmer’s cause in Kheda Satyagraha (1918) and Bardoli Satyagraha (1928) with the national freedom movement.
  • Women of Bardoli bestowed the title ‘Sardar’ on Vallabhbhai Patel, which means ‘a Chief or a Leader’.
  • Known as the “Iron Man of India” for playing an important role in unification and integration of Indian princely states into the Indian federation and for convincing princely states to align with the Indian Union.
  • Requested the people of India to live together by uniting (Ek Bharat)in order to create a foremost India (Shresth Bharat).
  • This ideology still reflects in the Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative which seeks to make India self-reliant.
  • Remembered as the ‘Patron Saint of India’s Civil Servants’ as he established the modern all-India services system.
  • Death:15th December 1950 in Bombay.