E-commerce rules do not allow foreign investment in multi-brand retail: DIPP

The FDI rules for e-commerce have not allowed foreign investment in the inventory-based model or multi-brand retailing, the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) .

It also stressed that the provisions are also not against the interest of consumers, noting that only fair, competitive and transparent business practices would be beneficial for buyers.

These clarifications have come against the backdrop of new provisions announced by the DIPP related to FDI in e-commerce sector last month.

Background:

E-commerce companies can operate under two different models in India.

The first is the marketplace model where the e-commerce firm simply acts as a platform that connects buyers and sellers. FDI is allowed in e-commerce companies in this model.

The second model is inventory-based where the inventory of goods sold on the portal is owned or controlled by the e-commerce company. FDI is not allowed under this model.

What has been happening is that large e-commerce companies such as Amazon and Flipkart, while not owning inventory themselves, have been providing a platform for their group companies such as CloudTail and WS Retail respectively.

Some see this as skewing the playing field, especially if these vendors enjoyed special incentives from the e-commerce firm, over others. These controlled or owned vendors may then be able to offer discounts to customers that competitors may not be able to match.

The thrust of the DIPP policy is directed at protecting small vendors on e-commerce websites. It seeks to ensure small players selling on the portals are not discriminated against in favor of vendors in which e-commerce companies have a stake.

The new set up will ensure a level playing field for all vendors looking to sell on the e-commerce portals. Smaller marketplaces that do not have a stake in any vendors will also be able to now compete with the big daddies.

The small traders were complaining that deep discounts offered by the likes of Amazon and Flipkart are driving them out of business. The new norms aim to tackle the anti-competitive behavior by e-commerce entities and to ensure that there is no wrong subsidization and the marketplace remains neutral to all vendors.

The main players to be affected will be group companies and affiliates of the biggest e-commerce platforms, Amazon and Flipkart.

The provision that bars companies — in which e-commerce firms have a stake — from selling on their portals will hurt start-ups as well since many of these will be barred from selling due to minor equity stakes being held by the e-commerce companies.

Small vendors will not be as affected because most of them do not purchase more than 25% of their inventory from a single source and so they will be allowed to sell their items on the e-commerce platforms.

Please follow and like us:

Guidelines issued to ensure transparency in Selection of Sportspersons

The development and promotion of various disciplines of sports including the selection of players for various national and international sports competitions is the responsibility of the concerned National Sports Federations (NSFs). The NSFs work in an autonomous environment and the Government is not directly involved in their functioning, including the selection of sportspersons. However, to ensure transparency in the selection process Government has issued guidelines according to which selection of sportspersons for major international events is to be done by a Selection Committee.

The NSFs work in an autonomous environment and the Government is not directly involved in their functioning, including the selection of sportspersons.

To ensure transparency in the selection process Government has issued guidelines according to which selection of sportspersons for major international events is to be done by a Selection Committee.

Implementing Various Sports Promotional Schemes:

Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports (MYAS) through Sports Authority of India (SAI) has been implementing various sports promotional schemes to tap sports talent across the country irrespective of their financial status.

Under the Schemes – SAI Training Centers (STC), Special Area Games (SAG), sports talents belong to rural, tribal, coastal, hilly and backward areas of the country are selected.

The selected trainees are provided financial support in the form of expert coaches, sports equipment, boarding and lodging, sports kit, competition exposure, educational expenses, medical/insurance and stipend as per the approved scheme norms.

Under the Scheme of Assistance to National Sports Federations, the Government supports the identified sportspersons, including those from weaker sections of society/teams for intensive coaching through national coaching camps, foreign exposures/competitions etc.

Customized Training:

Under Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS), customized training is being provided to identify sportspersons at the state-of-the-art sports institutes/academies within the country and abroad.

National Sports Federations –

National Sports Federations (NSFs) are autonomous bodies registered under the Societies Registration Act 1860.

Sports Authority of India (SAI) –

Apex national sports body of India

It is established in 1984 by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports for the development of sports in India.

Please follow and like us:

New Manufacturing Policy to Create 100 Million Jobs in India

The Government of India has announced a national manufacturing policy with the objective of enhancing the share of manufacturing in GDP to 25% within a decade and creating 100 million jobs.  It also seeks to empower rural youth by imparting necessary skill sets to make them employable.  Sustainable development is integral to the spirit of the policy and technological value addition in manufacturing has received special focus.

NIMZs are envisaged as large areas of developed land with the requisite eco-system for promoting world-class manufacturing activity.

The objective of Special Economic Zones –

To promote exports, while NIMZs are based on the principle of industrial growth in partnership with States and focuses on manufacturing growth and employment generation.

NIMZs are different from SEZs in terms of size, level of infrastructure planning, governance structures related to regulatory procedures, and exit policies.

For the Financial Year 2016 – 2017, Rs. 3.35 crores has been earmarked under the ‘Scheme for Implementation of National Manufacturing Policy’ for ‘Master Planning of NIMZs’ and Technology Acquisition and Development Fund (TADF).

Please follow and like us:

Centre gives 6-month extension to complete update of NRC in Assam by June 30

The Centre has given an extension of six months to complete the ongoing exercise for updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam by June 30.

In a notification, the Registrar General of India said the decision has been taken as the exercise to enumerate citizens in the NRC, a list of Assam’s residents, could not be completed within the specified date of December 31, 2018.

The decision was taken as the exercise to enumerate citizens in the NRC, a list of Assam’s residents, could not be completed within the specified date of December 31, 2018.

On December 6, 2013, the government issued the first notification setting a deadline of three years for completion of the entire NRC process. Since then, five extensions have been given by the government. The draft NRC was published on July 30 and included the names of 2.9 crore people of the total 3.29 crore applicants.

Why is NRC being updated in Assam?

Officially, the NRC process will address the issue of illegal migrants, specifically from Bangladesh. The National Register of Citizens was first published in 1951 to record citizens, their houses and holdings. Updating the NRC to root out foreigners was a demand during the Assam Agitation (1979-1985).

There have been several waves of migration to Assam from Bangladesh, but the biggest was in March 1971 when the Pakistan army crackdown forced many to flee to India. The Assam Accord of 1985 that ended the six-year anti-foreigners’ agitation decided upon the midnight of March 24, 1971, as the cut-off date.

Who is a citizen in Assam?

The Citizenship Act of 1955 was amended after the Assam Accord for all Indian-origin people who came from Bangladesh before January 1, 1966, to be deemed as citizens. Those who came between January 1, 1966, and March 25, 1971, were eligible for citizenship after registering and living in the State for 10 years while those entering after March 25, 1971, were to be deported.

Please follow and like us:

The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2018

The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2018 was introduced in Lok Sabha by the Minister of Law and Justice, Mr. Ravi Shankar Prasad on December 17, 2018. It replaces an Ordinance promulgated on September 19, 2018.  Note that a Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017 was introduced and passed in Lok Sabha on December 28, 2017.  The 2017 Bill is listed for withdrawal.

The Bill makes all declaration of talaq, including in written or electronic form, to be void (i.e. not enforceable in law) and illegal. It defines talaq as talaq-e-biddat or any other similar form of talaq pronounced by a Muslim man resulting in instant and irrevocable divorce.  Talaq-e-biddat refers to the practice under Muslim personal laws where pronouncement of the word ‘talaq’ thrice in one sitting by a Muslim man to his wife results in an instant and irrevocable divorce.

Offense and penalty: The Bill makes the declaration of talaq a cognizable offense, attracting up to three years’ imprisonment with a fine.  (A cognizable offense is one for which a police officer may arrest an accused person without a warrant.)  The offense will be cognizable only if information relating to the offense is given by (i) the married woman (against whom talaq has been declared), or (ii) any person related to her by blood or marriage.

The Bill provides that the Magistrate may grant bail to the accused. The bail may be granted only after hearing the woman (against whom talaq has been pronounced), and if the Magistrate is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for granting bail.

The offense may be compounded by the Magistrate upon the request of the woman (against whom talaq has been declared). Compounding refers to the procedure where the two sides agree to stop legal proceedings, and settle the dispute.  The terms and conditions of the compounding of the offence will be determined by the Magistrate.

Allowance: A Muslim woman against whom talaq has been declared, is entitled to seek subsistence allowance from her husband for herself and for her dependent children.  The amount of the allowance will be determined by the Magistrate.

Custody: A Muslim woman against whom such talaq has been declared, is entitled to seek custody of her minor children. The manner of custody will be determined by the Magistrate.

What’s the issue all about- A brief history:

The case dates back to 2016 when the Supreme Court had sought assistance from the then Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi on pleas challenging the constitutional validity of “triple talaq”, “nikah halala” and “polygamy”, to assess whether Muslim women face gender discrimination in cases of divorce.

Opposing the practice of triple talaq, the Centre told the top court that there is a need to re-look at these practices on grounds of gender equality and secularism.

The Supreme Court later announced the setting up of a five-judge constitutional bench to hear and deliberate on the challenges against the practice of ‘triple talaq, nikah halala’ and polygamy.

The issue gained political momentum on March 2017 when the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) told the Supreme Court that the issue of triple talaq falls outside the judiciary’s realm and that these issues should not be touched by the court.

However, on August 22 this year, the Supreme Court set aside the decade-old practice of instant triple talaq saying it was violative of Article 14 and 21 of the Indian Constitution.

In September, the government had proposed the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill in the Parliament and sought to make triple talaq a punishable offense under the law.

At first, the Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha but it failed to secure a majority in the Rajya Sabha. The Bill was postponed till the winter session of Parliament. Following this, an ordinance was issued by the government after the bill failed to get cleared in Rajya Sabha amid protests by the Opposition.

Please follow and like us:

Cabinet approves setting up of the National Commission for Homoeopathy (NCH) Bill, 2018

The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the draft National Commission for Homoeopathy, Bill, 2018, which seeks to replace the existing regulator Central Council for Homoeopathy (CCH) with a new body to ensure transparency.

The draft bill provides for the constitution of a National Commission with three autonomous boards entrusted with conducting overall education of Homoeopathy by Homoeopathy Education Board. The Board of assessment and rating to assess and grant permission to educational institutions of Homoeopathy and Board of ethics and registration of practitioners of Homoeopathy to maintain National Register and ethical issues relating to practice are under the National Commission for homoeopathy.

It also proposes a common entrance exam and an exit exam which all graduates will have to clear to get practicing licenses. Further, a teacher’s eligibility test has been proposed to assess the standard of teachers before appointment and promotions.

It further aims at bringing reforms in the medical education of Homoeopathy in lines with the National Medical Commission proposed for setting up for Allopathy system of medicine. The CCH had been earlier superseded by Board of Governors through an Ordinance and subsequent amendment of Act.

Please follow and like us:

MoU signed to develop a mobile Audio Guide App for five iconic sites

The Minister of State (I/C) for Tourism, Shri. K J Alphons handed over a Memorandum of Understanding under the ‘Adopt a Heritage’ project to M/s Redbird Technologies for development of a mobile Audio Guide App for five iconic sites here, today. The five iconic sites for which the mobile Audio Guide App is to be developed are Amer Fort (Rajasthan), Kaziranga (Assam), Colva Beach (Goa), Kumarakom (Kerala) and Mahabodhi Temple (Bihar).

The five iconic sites are as follows:

  • Rajasthan – Amer Fort.
  • Assam – Kaziranga.
  • Goa – Colva Beach.
  • Kerala – Kumarakom.
  • Bihar – Mahabodhi Temple.

The shortlisted agencies would become ‘Monument Mitras’ through the innovative concept of ‘Vision Bidding’, which will give them the opportunity to associate their CSR activities with a heritage site if the Vision Bid is selected.

Adopt a Heritage Project:

The ‘Adopt a Heritage Scheme’ of Ministry of Tourism was launched on World Tourism Day i.e. 27th September 2017.  This project is a key initiative of Ministry of Tourism in close collaboration with Ministry of Culture and Archeological Survey of India (ASI), to develop the heritage sites/monuments and making them tourist-friendly to enhance the tourism potential and their cultural importance in a planned and phased manner.

The project plans to entrust heritage sites/monuments and other tourist sites to private sector companies, public sector companies and individuals for the development of tourist amenities. The project aims to develop synergy among all partners.

Successful bidders selected for adopting heritage sites/monuments by the Oversight and Vision Committee shall be called as Monument Mitras. The basic and advanced amenities of the tourist destinations would be provided by them. They would also look after the operations and the maintenance of the amenities. The ‘Monument Mitras’ would associate pride with their CSR activities.

Adopt a Heritage project is meant to address the challenges that the Archaeological Survey of India and other government bodies are facing in operating tourism infrastructure at heritage sites. By allowing private players to build, operate and maintain “tourist-friendly” and “world class amenities at these sites, the expectation is that the project will boost domestic and international tourism.

Please follow and like us:

Review petition in Supreme Court against its Aadhaar verdict

A review petition was filed in the Supreme Court on Monday seeking a re-examination of its verdict by which the Centre’s flagship Aadhaar scheme was held as constitutionally valid.

Senior advocate Indira Jaising said the review petition has been filed against the September 26 verdict of the five-judge constitution bench which had said there was nothing in the Aadhaar Act that violated right to privacy of an individual.

The bench headed by the then Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra had also upheld the passage of the Aadhaar Bill as a Money Bill by the Lok Sabha.

The review petition has been filed by one Imtiyaz Ali Palsaniya, who had also filed interim applications when the apex court was examining the validity of the Aadhaar scheme.

The petition has also sought an open court hearing in the matter.

While declaring the scheme as constitutionally valid, the apex court had struck down some of its provisions including its linking with bank accounts, mobile phones, and school admissions.

The constitution bench had held that Aadhaar would remain mandatory for the filing of Income Tax returns and allotment of Permanent Account Number (PAN).

It claimed that the Aadhaar program, which had been in existence prior to the enactment of the Aadhaar Act, 2016, had itself become an “instrument of transfer of sensitive personal data” belonging to citizens to foreign entities acting as biometric service providers at a time when the UIDAI in 2010 had no cyber or technical infrastructure to store such information.

This, the petition claimed, poses a massive national security risk, more so when, according to a Press Information Bureau notification, 100 crore enrolments had already taken place before April 4, 2016.

In its verdict, the apex court had said that Aadhaar would not be mandatory for school admissions, as also for the examinations conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Examination, National Eligibility cum Entrance Test for medical entrance and the University Grants Commission.

The bench had also struck down the national security exception under the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016.

Please follow and like us:

Another olive ridley nesting site soon

The Odisha forest department is all set to add another olive ridley mass nesting site to its wildlife map.

It has started preparing the beach at the Bahuda river mouth in Ganjam district to lure the endangered turtles to come over for mass nesting next year.

Around 3-km stretch of the beach from Sunapur to Anantpur at Bahuda rookery is being developed as a possible olive ridley mass nesting site. The Bahuda rookery is located around 20 km to the south of Rushikulya rookery coast, a major mass nesting site of olive ridleys on the Indian coastline.

Berhampur Divisional Forest Officer Ashis Behera said the Bahuda rookery coast has been cleaned up once already and it will be thoroughly cleaned up again before the start of the mass nesting season in February. “The forest department has decided to fence off around 2-km stretch of the beach near Bahuda river mouth to protect the turtles during the nesting season,” the DFO said.

This year, a few hundred olive ridleys had nested at Bahuda river mouth in February. This encouraged the forest department to develop it as a second mass nesting site for the turtles on the Ganjam coast. At present, mating olive ridleys are being sighted near the Bahuda rookery. It is being hoped that the turtles will find the beach conducive and their mass nesting number at Bahuda will increase in 2019.

Marine fishermen in the area have been requested to refrain from using gill nets during fishing as that can kill the turtles. Fishermen near Rushikulya rookery do not use such nets. With the support of local residents, efforts are being made to reduce polythene pollution caused by tourists and picnickers at Bahuda river mouth to keep the sand clean for mass nesting.

Local fishermen say around two decades ago thousands of olive ridleys used to nest at Bahuda coast, which for some reason diminished with time.

Please follow and like us:

Now, Coal India Jumps On To ‘Make In India’ Bandwagon; Uses A Dumper That Is Manufactured By BEML

Coal India Ltd (CIL) has decided to support Make In India by starting to use an Indian- made 205-tonne electric dumper, manufactured by BEML (Bharat Earth Movers Ltd.), a state-owned undertaking. The electric dumper is on trial at one of the largest CIL subsidiaries – Northern Coalfields (NCL).

NCL chairman and Managing Director PK Sinha said that the basis of NCL’s success stories lay in the upgrading and use of technology related to coal production and dispatch.

A senior official from NCL has said that the successful completion of the six-month trial by the dumper will prompt BEML to participate in future tenders floated by CIL. He cites an example of 10 dumpers being procured for Eastern Coalfields. The requirement for dumpers and shovels is also expected to rise.

The current equipment supply to CIL is dominated by Russia’s Belaz, Tata Hitachi and Caterpillar. These high-capacity dumpers come at prices upwards of Rs 15 crore each.

Please follow and like us: