States asked to use Rs 31,000 crore balance from  building and construction workers’ fund 

#GS2 #Polity #Governance 

The Centre has asked states to use funds of around Rs 31,000 crore in their respective state construction worker welfare funds under the Building and Other Construction Workers’ Welfare Cess (BOCW) Act to mitigate the impact of COVID-19pandemic for 3.5 crore registered workers. 

About BOCW Act 1996 

According to the Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996, a cess is levied and collected at the rate of 1 per cent of the cost of construction by the state governments. 

  • The states, through their respective State Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Boards, constituted under the BOCW Act, utilise the cess fund as per Section 22 of BOCW Act, 1996.
  • Section 22 of the BOCW Act states that the Building and Other Construction Workers’ Welfare Board can provide assistance to a beneficiary in case of an accident; 
  • Give pension to those who have completed the age of 60 years; 
  • Sanction loans and advances to a beneficiary for construction of a house not exceeding such amount and on prescribed terms and conditions pay premia for group insurance scheme of the beneficiaries; 
  • Give financial assistance for the education of children of the beneficiaries, for medical expenses for treatment of major ailments, payment of maternity benefits and make provision and improvement of such other welfare measures and facilities as may be prescribed.
  • Further, the Board may grant loan or subsidy to a local authority or an employer in aid of any scheme approved by the respective state government for the welfare of building workers in any establishment.
  • Every construction worker who has completed eighteen years of age, but has not completed sixty years of age, and who has been engaged in any building or other construction work for not less than ninety days during the preceding twelve months shall be eligible for registration as a beneficiary under this Act.

Source : Indian Express 


Just 35% Indian homes wash hands with soap, water before  meals 

WHILE THE government and experts recommend washing of hands with soap and water as one of the basic protective measures against coronavirus, a survey done by the National Statistics Office (NSO) shows it’s not a habit that comes easily to most Indians. According to the survey, while members of most households (99 per cent) wash their hands before a meal, only those in 35.8 per cent households do so with “water and soap/detergent”. 

  • The survey, the results of which were made public in a report titled ‘Drinking Water, Sanitation, Hygiene and Housing Condition’ in November last year, covered 1,06,838 households (63,736 in rural areas and 43,102 in urban areas).
  • The survey revealed a wide gap in the hand-washing practice in urban and rural areas – while members of 56 per cent urban households reported washing their hands with water and soap before eating, only 25.3 per cent households in rural areas did so.
  • The report also revealed that the percentage of households whose members practise hand washing ‘with water and soap/detergent’ before a meal to be lowest in Jharkhand (10.6 per cent) and the highest in Sikkim (87.1 per cent).
  • Apart from Jharkhand, Bihar (14.3 per cent), Odisha (15.1 per cent), Uttar Pradesh (23.8 per cent) and Tamil Nadu (27.3 per cent) made it to the bottom 5 states which fared poorly on hand-washing.
  • Sikkim is followed by Himachal Pradesh (86.2 per cent), Chandigarh (81 per cent), Punjab (77.5 per cent) and Delhi (73.5 per cent) as states where most people washed their hands the recommended way – with water and soap.
  • The NSO, which comes under the Union Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, conducted the survey between July and December 2018.

Source : Indian Express 


India market underperforms; have Sebi’s short-selling curbs backfired? 

#GS3 #Economy  

Stock markets have done well this week, the world over. The US markets were up about 6%, at the time of writing, while key European markets were up 5-7%. Most Asian markets rose, too, although India is a bit of an outlier with a drop of 5% in the Nifty 50 so far this week. 

Short Selling : 

  • Short selling refers to a strategy by which traders bet on a decline in prices and try to profit at a time when the markets are falling.
  • Indian indices have fallen more than 25% from their record highs reached in January. In market parlance, a fall of over 20% is looked upon as a sign of the markets entering a bear market.
  • Regulators in a few countries like Spain, South Korea and Italy have banned short selling amid huge volatility and a fall in stock prices.
  • During the global financial crisis of 2008, the US Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) had banned short-selling in financial stocks. 

Source : Live Mint 

Project ISSAC 

IIT Gandhinagar launches Project 'Isaac' to engage students in creative projects during Corona lockdown. 

  • The project is inspired by Sir Isaac Newton, who was similarly sent home by Trinity College, Cambridge, because of the Great Plague of London in 1665. 
  • During this year, Newton, then a 22-year-old college student developed some of his most profound discoveries, including early calculus, as well as his theories of optics and gravity.
  • As part of the project, four different competitions are being organized by IIT, Gandhinagar to cultivate new skills among students regarding writing, painting, coding, music, creative expression, and so on. 
  • Students can take part in competitions online. Nearly 40 per cent of IITGN students are already participating in various activities, which are entirely voluntary. 
  • Project Isaac is a model for academic institutions worldwide to explore ways to engage students in the midst of the pandemic. 
  • The Project Showcase will culminate in a massive talent contest once students return to campus. 

Source : AIR 


Sensex climbs 5% on stimulus 

#GS3 #Economy   

FM’s announcement of package calms investor jitters amid lockdown  

  • Equity benchmarks surged for the third straight session, after the government’s much awaited stimulus measures for COVID19  lockdown hit segments lifted sentiment.  
  • The BSE gauge Sensex surged 1,410.99 points, or 4.94 %, to settle at 29,946.77, while the NSE barometer Nifty shot up 323.60 points, or 3.89%, to 8,641.45. 

Rupee climbs  

  • The rupee appreciated 57 paiseto 75.37 against theU.S. dollar in intraday trade. 
  • In positive news for India’s fiscalhealth,crudeoilpricescontinued to trade below $30 a barrel amid a steep fall in demand due to COVID19led lockdowns in major parts of the world. 
  • The international oil benchmark, Brent crude futures fell 2.15% to $26.80 per barrel. Bourses in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Seoul ended significantlylower.  
  • BenchmarksinEuropewere alsotrading in the red. 

Source : The HIndu 


Ensure smooth transfer of funds to Jan Dhan accounts, banks told 

#GS2 #Welfare 

  • Banks to ensure smooth transfer of  ₹500 per month to Jan Dhan accounts of all women account holders, announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to support families due to the nationwide lockdown to halt the spread of COVID19. 
  • The Finance Ministry also asked the banks to ensure adequate liquidity with the bank branches and also with business correspondents. Banks have been asked to regularly replenish automated teller machines, and arrange mobile ATMs withsufficientcash,whererequired.  
  • The Ministry also asked the banks to inform beneficiariesregardingthetime schedule of the withdrawal via SMS. 

Source : The Hindu 


Promoters up stake in firmsas markets drop  

#GS3 #Economy 

Tata firms,Bajajgroup,Godrejseebuyingeitherbypromotersormanagement  

  • Indian promoters are using the drop in equity markets as an opportunity to consolidate their holdings in group companies.  
  • This comes at a time when the Indian markets have witnessed an unprecedented correction over the last month and ahalf  Niftyis down 36% from recent highs and many stocks have seen significant correction. 
  • The largest quantum of buying by promoters or top management was witnessed in the Tata Group (Tata Chemicals, Tata Steel, Indian Hotels, Tata Motors, Tata Power and Tata Consumer) and the Bajaj Group (Bajaj Finance, BajajFinserv, Bajaj Holdings and Bajaj Auto). 

Source : The HIndu 

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