The Consumer Protection Act, 1986, has been enacted to better protect the interests of the consumers. It covers all goods and services and all mode of transactions including e-commerce. Under the provision of said Act, a three tier quasi-judicial mechanism, called Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission/ Forum, has been set up at the district, State and National levels to provide simple, quick and inexpensive redressal to consumer disputes. E-commerce activities are governed by number of Regulations/Acts of the Government like the Shop and Establishment Act, Sales of Goods Act, Companies Act, Income Tax Laws, Information Technology Act, the Competition Act, the Consumer Protection Act, etc. A Committee has been constituted to examine various issues relating to e-commerce under the Chairmanship of CEO, NITI Aayog. The Committee inter-alia comprises representatives from Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion, Department of Economic Affairs, Department of Electronics & Information Technology, Department of Consumer Affairs and certain State Governments namely Assam, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha and Punjab. The Consumer Protection Bill, 2015, already introduced in Parliament, seeks to provide for establishment of a Central Consumer Protection Authority to look into, inter alia, unfair trade practices and take remedial action.
Government of India has initiated several steps to enhance the income of farmers including:-
• Soil Health Card (SHC) scheme by which the farmers can know the major and minor nutrients available in their soils which will ensure judicious use of fertiliser application and reduce cost of inputs and improve soil fertility.
• Neem Coated Urea is being promoted to regulate use of urea, enhance its availability to the crop and reduce cost of fertilizer application. The entire quantity of domestically manufactured and imported urea is now neem coated.
• Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) is being implemented with a view to promote organic farming in the country. This will improve soil health and organic matter content and increase net income of the farmer so as to realise premium prices.
• The Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY) is being implemented to expand cultivated area with assured irrigation, reduce wastage of water and improve water use efficiency.
• The National Agriculture Market scheme (e-NAM) was launched on 14.04.2016. The Scheme envisages initiation of e-marketing platform at national level and will support creation of infrastructure to enable e-marketing in 585 regulated markets across the country by March 2018. So far, 455 markets of 13 States have been integrated with e-NAM. This innovative market process evisages better price discovery, transparency and competition to enable farmers to get improved remuneration for their produce and move towards ‘One Nation One Market’.
• Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) is being implemented from Kharif 2016 season and is available to the farmers at low rates of premium. This scheme would provide insurance cover for all stages of the crop cycle including post-harvest risks in specified instances.
• The Government provides interest subvention of 3% on short-term crop loans up to Rs.3.00 lakh. Presently, loan is available to farmers at an interest rate of 7% per annum, which gets reduced to 4% on prompt repayment. Further, under Interest Subvention Scheme 2016-17, in order to provide relief to the farmers on occurrence of natural calamities, the interest subvention of 2% shall continue to be available to banks for the first year on the restructured amount. In order to discourage distress sale by farmers and to encourage them to store their produce in warehouses against warehouse receipts, the benefit of interest subvention will be available to small and marginal farmers having Kisan Credit Card for a further period of upto six months post harvest on the same rate as available to crop loan.
• Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) enables Governments to further implement the scheme in the State as per its requirement in areas which requires focused attention for increasing production and productivity in the State. The States have been provided flexibility and autonomy for selection, planning approval and execution of projects/programs under the scheme as per their need, priorities and agro-climate requirements.
• Under National Food Security Mission (NFSM), a Centrally Sponsored scheme, NFSM-Pulses is being implemented in 638 districts of 29 States, NFSM-Rice in 194 districts of 25 States, NFSM-Wheat in 126 district of 11 States and NFSM-Coarse Cereals is being implemented in 265 districts of 28 States of the country for increasing the production and productivity of Rice, wheat, pulses and coarse cereal crops. Under NFSM, assistance is provided to farmers for distribution of Seeds (HYVs/Hybrids), production of seeds (only in pulses), INM and IPM techniques, resource conservation technologies/tools/farm mechanization, efficient water application tools, cropping system based trainings to farmers and also assistance for value addition.
• National Mission on Oilseeds and Oil Palm (NMOOP) programme, is being implemented since 2014-15. The objective of NMOOP is to increase production and productivity of oilseeds for meeting the domestic requirement of vegetable oil. The various interventions of this mission are implemented through the State Department of Agriculture/Horticulture.
• Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH), a Centrally Sponsored Scheme, is being implemented w.e.f. 2014-15, for holistic growth of the horticulture sector covering fruits vegetable, root and tuber crops, mushrooms, spices, flowers, aromatic plants, coconut, cashew, cocoa and bamboo. The Mission subsumes National Horticulture Mission (NHM), Horticulture Mission for North East & Himalayan States (HMNEH), National Horticulture Board (NHB), Coconut Development Board (CDB) and Central Institute for Horticulture (CIH), Nagaland. All States and UTs are covered under MIDH.
• The Government has drafted a new model Agricultural Produce and Livestock Marketing (Promotion & Facilitation) Act, 2017, which was released on 24.04.2017 for adoption by the States through legislation of their respective Acts. The Act provides the options of alternate markets beyond the existing APMC regulated market yards including private markets, direct marketing, farmer-consumer markets, special commodity markets, declaring warehouses/silos/cold storages or such structures as market sub yards and Market Yards of National Importance (MNI) so as to reduce the number of intermediaries between producer and buyer and increase the share of the farmer in consumer’s rupee.
• The Government undertakes procurement of wheat and paddy under its ‘MSP operations’. In addition, Government implements Market Intervention Scheme (MIS) for procurement of agricultural and horticultural commodities not covered under the Minimum Price Support Scheme on the request of State/UT Government. The MIS is implemented in order to protect the growers of these commodities from making distress sale in the event of bumper crop when the prices tend to fall below the economic level/cost of production.
• MSP is notified for both Kharif & Rabi crops based on the recommendations of the Commission on Agriculture Costs & Prices (CACP). The Commission collects & analyses data on cost of cultivation and recommends MSP. To incentivise cultivation of pulses and oilseeds in the country, Government has announced bonus for Kharif 2017-18, over & above the approved MSP. Even during last year, Government had offered bonus over & above the MSP, in the case of pulses and oilseeds.
• Government led other market interventions such as Price Stabilization Fund and Food Corporation of India operations also supplement efforts to enhance the income of farmers.
• Apart from the above, the Government is also focusing on ancillary activities like Bee-keeping for increasing of farmers’ income.
A lawyer, veteran political representative and long-time advocate of egalitarianism and integrity in Indian public life and society, Shri Ram Nath Kovind was sworn in as the 14th President of India on july 25, 2017. He was born on October 1, 1945, in Paraunkh, near Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh. His parents were Shri Maiku Lal and Smt Kalawati. He served as the 36th Governor of the state of Bihar from August 16, 2015, to June 20, 2017. He his school education in Kanpur and obtained the degrees of B.Com and L.L.B. from Kanpur University. In 1971, he enrolled as an Advocate with the Bar Council of Delhi. He was Union Government Advocate in the Delhi High Court from 1977 to 1979 and Union Government Standing Counsel in the Supreme Court from 1980 to 1993. He became Advocate-on-Record of the Supreme Court of India in 1978. He practiced at the Delhi High Court and Supreme Court for 16 years till 1993. He was elected as a member of the Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh in April 1994. He served for two consecutive terms of six years each till March 2006. Shri Kovind served on various Parliamentary Committees like Parliamentary Committee on Welfare of Scheduled Castes/Tribes; Parliamentary Committee on Home Affairs; Parliamentary Committee on Petroleum and Natural Gas; Parliamentary Committee on Social Justice and Empowerment; and Parliamentary Committee on Law and Justice. He was Chairman of the Rajya Sabha House Committee. He also served as Member of the Board of Management of the Dr B.R Ambedkar University, Lucknow, and Member of the Board of Governors of the Indian Institute of Management, Kolkata. He was part of the Indian delegation at the United Nations and addressed the United Nations General Assembly in October 2002. He married Smt Savita Kovind on May 30, 1974. They have a son, Shri Prashant Kumar, and a daughter, Miss Swati. An avid reader, the President has keen interest in reading books on politics and social change, law and history, and religion.
As per information provided by the Ministry of Law and Justice, Department of Justice, the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) has developed and launched a web application in New Delhi on 29.6.2017 for legal services to under trial prisoners/convicts. The web application facilitates to know the unrepresented under trial prisoners, and the Legal Services Institutions can provide them free legal services. The under trial prisoners or their relatives can also send their request to the Legal Services Institutions for getting free legal aid.
Improved Cultivation and Advanced Retting Exercise for Jute (Jute – ICARE) was launched in 2015 to popularize/introduce some of the better agronomic practices and recently developed microbial assisted retting among farmers intensively in a few blocks in West Bengal and Assam on pilot basis. The improved agronomic practices include — line sowing of jute using seed drill to increase yield by 10-15%; weed management in jute by wheel hoeing/nail weeder instead of hand weeding for reducing the cost of weeding; and distribution of quality certified seeds at 50% subsidy.
Central Research Institute for Research in Jute and Allied Fibers (CRIJAF) developed a microbial consortium called SONA, to enhance the quantity of fiber yield by 20% as well as its quality in terms of grade by at least 1 ½ grades. Also, under the project, regular SMSs are sent in regional languages on improved practices in jute cultivation, to registered farmers. On an average over 50 SMSs are sent to each farmer at various intervals during the project. Supply of Seed drills and Nail weeders is undertaken for demonstration purpose. As a result of these interventions, the earnings of jute farmers have increased by more than Rs.10000 per hectare.
The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee attended the launch of SWAYAM, 32 SWAYAM Prabha DTH Channels and National Academic Depository at the National Convention on Digital Initiatives organized by Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India in New Delhi. Speaking on the occasion, he said that the spread of technology, telecom penetration and internet has offered an opportunity to quell the divide in terms of access and quality. And, we should seize this opportunity with both our hands. Digital technology enables good teachers to directly teach large number of students who are not physically present in classes. ICT solutions offer an interactive learning experience through which students in remote parts of the country can benefit from lectures of the top teachers. The digital modes are cheaper, more easily accessible, interactive, and offer flexibility for people to learn at their own pace. We need to work together to ensure that they are widely adopted for teaching. He said that he was happy that the SWAYAM portal has become fully functional which enables one to take courses offered by the best teachers, remaining where they are. SWAYAM should be a call to the pioneers amongst teachers to put new courses in the upcoming areas on this platform in the MOOCs format. It is also a call to the other teachers to use this material and improve their own teaching capacity. Ultimately, it should lead to better attainment levels in the students. He said that the use of satellite technology to reach the unreached is time-tested. He was happy to note that the scale and reach of this technology has been raised manifold through the 32 SWAYAM Prabha DTH channels. These channels will help students in the rural areas and in the remote areas where IT infrastructure have not penetrated so well. The President said that the National Academic Depository would help in easy authentication of the credentials issued by the institutions. This would also help in increasing transparency and ease of operation. The several other digital initiatives taken up under the National Mission on Education through ICT (NMEICT) being showcased today should help all in going the digital way in order to improve the quality of teaching. The conferences at Rashtrapati Bhavan have also acted as platforms for nurturing ideas. Many initiatives and ideas like the GIAN, IMPRINT and GRIN have taken root here. He called upon participants present there to ensure that these initiatives are taken to their logical conclusion for the benefit of the nation.
Veteran Hindi and Bengali actress Sumita Sanyal has passed away at the age of 71. She was born on October 9, 1945. She was married to film editor Subodh Roy. She has a son. She is best remembered for her role in Hindi Classics ‘Anand’ in 1970 opposite Amitabh Bachchan. She made her debut in Bengali film – ‘Khokhababur Pratyabartan’ in the year 1960. She acted in over 40 Bengali films including ‘Sagina Mahato’ opposite Dilip Kumar and in the lead role in ‘Kuheli’ alongside Biswajit and Sandhya Roy. She also acted in a number of Hindi films. She also acted television serials, professional stage and in group theatre with the notable association with ‘Ranga Sabha’.
Late last week, India witnessed its biggest taxation reform Goods and Services Tax (GST). The GST provision, requiring any good more than Rs 50,000 in value to be pre-registered online before it can be moved, is likely to kick in from October after a centralised software platform is ready, a top official said. The provision, called the e-way bill, would be implemented after infrastructure for smooth generation of registration and its verification through hand-held devices with tax officials is ready. The full impact of GST on smartphone prices is still not completely clear, the government’s decision to impose 10% import duty on smartphones is sure to boost ‘made in India’ smartphones. The information technology platform for the e-way bill system is being developed by the National Informatics Centre (NIC) along with GST-Network — the company which has developed the IT backbone for the new indirect tax regime. The Centre has also decided to relax the timeline provision under which the e-way bill generated by GSTN for 20 days for goods travelling more than 1,000 km. Earlier, this was 15 days. As per the provision, GSTN would generate e-way bills that will be valid for 1-20 days, depending on distance to be travelled — one day for 100 km, 3 days (100 to less than 300 km), 5 days (300-less than 500 km) and 10 days (500-less than 1,000 km).
The Goods and Services Tax (GST) will boost the competitiveness of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), noted a recent joint study by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) and Ashvin Parekh Advisory Services (APAS). It will bring many positives compared to the current systems such as easy process of availing input credit, single point tax, elimination of cascading tax system, and simpler taxation. There is no doubt that GST is aimed to increase the taxpayer base and would put some burden of compliance and associated costs to MSME. But eventually, it will turn these MSMEs more competitive with a level playing field between large enterprises and them.
A lack of strong opening partnerships for India in the Women’s World Cup has become a worrying sign for the team as they succemed to the spirited South African Women as first taste of failure in the tournament. With the competetion growing more competetive and the tournament growing more professional with global exposure and media coverage like never seen before, a strong start is the needof of hour considering the brittle middle order and lac of strong stroke players in the middle line up. India’s openers Punam Raut and Smriti Mandhana scored 22 and 4 respectively as their partnership was broken in the second over of the chase. Since their dominating partnership of 144 in the first match against England, India’s openers have produced stands of 0 against West Indies, 7 against Pakistan and 21 against Sri Lanka. The bowlers have done a decent job of holding in the middle overs and defending any totals their batters have given. India, placed second with eight points, will face Australia and New Zealand in the remaining matches while South Africa, placed fourth with seven points, will take on Sri Lanka and Australia.