IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 23rd August, 2016
TOPIC:General Studies 2
Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation
Eyeing regulation of quality of tap water
FSSAI overlooks domestic and international private food companies.
It is now eyeing regulating water utilities controlled by the government.
Food regulator FSSAI is examining possibility of holding municipal authorities, state water supply boards accountable for the quality of water they supply.
Central Consumer Protection Council
Expressed concern over quality of drinking water supplied through the pipeline
Recommended mandatory standards for drinking water, irrespective of its source
According to it, FSSAI should formulate standards for water through the pipeline and should monitor quality.
CCPC is an apex body that advises the government on the consumer-related issues
However, FSSAI is yet to take a call on how to bring water supplied by municipal authorities and other government authorities such as Delhi Jal Board under its purview.
32% of India’s households have access to treated tap water (pipeline supply)
5% of India’s households get untreated water
16% of India’s total population lives in urban areas. Out of it, about 62% households have access to treated tap water which is supplied mainly by municipal corporations and other government agencies.
World Health Organisation
WHO guidelines on drinking water quality are accepted worldwide.
They prescribe development and implementation of risk management strategies to ensure the safety of drinking-water supplies through control of hazardous constituents in water.
FSSAI may follow WHO guidelines to regulate water quality in India
Delhi Jal Board
The safety and quality of drinking water supplied by Delhi Jal Board has been questioned.
Union consumer affairs minister has said that drinking water supplied by Delhi Jal Board was not safe for consumption.
The residents of New Delhi also think they cannot drink water supplied by Delhi Jal Board.
As per residents, dirty water is a regular feature. There is an additional expense of water purifier as water supplied is not fit for drinking.
Residents are of the opinion that FSSAI brings the drinking water quality under tis ambit, it would benefit them and also ensure that the municipal authorities are brought under the scanner.
However, Delhi Jal Board maintains the stand that they follow required standards to provide safe water.
Associated Chambers of Commerce of India study (2012): The water purifier market is estimated to exceed Rs.7,000 crore in 2015
Packaged drinking water
Since April 2016, FSSAI has been strict with companies selling drinking water in packaged form.
There are 5,842 registered water packaging units in India.
Of the total, 1,495 packing units have license from FSSAI and certificate from the Bureau of Indian Standards
The remaining 4,347 units only have BIS certification.
Now, FSSAI has asked all drinking water packaging units to procure a licence from FSSAI to continue operations.
As per FSSAI order, “No person shall manufacture, sell or exhibit for sale, Natural Mineral Water and Packaged Drinking water, except under the BIS Standard Mark”
FSSAI recently expressed desire to regulate the ‘prasadam’ of several popular places of worship to follow safety standards it prescribes
It allows imports of special food items meant for children with “Inborn errors of Metabolism”
These food items are manufactured by only a few companies such as Swiss packaged food company Nestle SA, American healthcare company Abbott Laboratories and French dairy firm Danone SA.
Treatment of these metabolic disorders requires early intervention including dietary control.
FSSAI is taking expedient actions to provide a unique platform for parents to find timely medical support and treatment.
Hospitals like AIIMS will be engaged
FSSAI has asked these companies to offer these food products at a subsidized price.
Also, the companies will offer a subsidy of Rs.5 crore a year for these food items. However, the government has no plan to bring these food items under its own subsidy schemes.
FSSAI is celebrating its 10th anniversary
It has taken 10-point agenda to ensure safe food across the country which involves educating consumers, educating those involved in production of food, ensuring safety at point of manufacturing etc.
It has taken initiatives on food safety
Creating negative list of foods served in schools that contain high fat, sugar and salt
A project to clean up street food
Ensure hygiene at corporate canteens, restaurants and religious places
Colour coding: The companies in food business will be required to put up colour-coded food safety display boards on their premises. It will include
FSSAI license number
Instructions for food hygiene and safety practices
Consumer feedback details
It will partner with leading companies to set up corporate training centres, embed food safety training in their entire value chain including marketing campaigns and also participate in research, surveillance and survey activities.
FSSAI will also come out with guidelines if companies can use its name in advertisement campaigns. (Some companies highlight that their product is approved by FSSAI)
Last year FSSAI was in news because of its crackdown on Maggi noodles which were suspected to contain excess lead
FSS Act 2006
A mechanism to revamp the FSS Act is already in process
A performance audit of FSSAI is being undertaken
A Parliamentary Standing Committee has been set up to give its views to the Centre
The legislation is expected to bring forth
Better co-ordination with States and various ministries
Simplifying the process of setting up standards
Setting up cleaning, sorting and grading mechanisms for raw products at mandis
FSSAI is established under FSS Act, 2006
It is a statutory body for laying down science based standards for articles of food and regulating manufacturing, processing, distribution, sale and import of food so as to ensure safe and wholesome food for human consumption
Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India is the Administrative Ministry for the implementation of FSSAI.
Chairperson and CEO of FSSAI is appointed by Government of India
The Chairperson is in the rank of Secretary to Government of India
Connecting the dots:
Hygienic food and drinking water will determine the health standards of India’s young population which is considered as it’s divided. Examine the role of regulator in maintaining the superior food and water quality standards.
What is FSSAI? Discuss its role in maintaining food standards in India.
Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
The Need for Introspection in India’s Diaspora Policy
In recent years, the government of India, along with a number of state governments, has been making efforts to reach out to the Indian diaspora.
The bond between India and its diaspora has been considerably strengthened over the past decade.
It is not just the contribution of the diaspora through FDI, remittances and the transfer of knowledge and entrepreneurial means. It is also the positive contribution the diaspora has played in contributing to the rise of the services sector in India, especially in the IT and ITES sectors.
Most importantly, the Indian diaspora is also active in local politics in countries like the U.K. and Canada, while the Indian lobby has begun to assert itself in cases such as the Indo-U.S. nuclear deal.
Even though there has been positive change, a number of problems persist.
Problems with India’s diaspora policy
First, there is often a perception that the Indian government gives greater importance to the more affluent sections of the diaspora, consisting of businessmen and those with white collar jobs.
Second is that while NRIs are given attention, individuals who migrated from India generations ago, known as persons of Indian origin, or PIOs, and who are often keen to establish links, are not given much attention.
For example, PIOs in Myanmar from states such as Bihar, Tamil Nadu and Punjab. A number of these PIOs are stateless and are keen to connect with their roots.
Third, the diaspora diplomacy is less active. For instance, PM Modi made the diaspora a centrepiece of his foreign policy and, during his foreign visits, addressed mammoth meetings of the community to project India’s priorities and needs. However he did not address any of their demands or announce any new plans for removing their grievances like travel issues and protection of their properties in India.
Fourth, there are many inadequacies in the Indian system for the diaspora to collaborate with India or to invest in the country. Grievances like red tape, multiple clearances, distrust of government in fulfilling promises were addressed through hesitant reforms and promotional measures.
The recent merger of the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs with the Ministry of External Affair and irregularities in conducting diaspora conferences and awards has also caused some concern in the diaspora.
New fears and concerns
New fears and concerns among and about the overseas communities:
The volatility in West Asia, together with the fall in oil prices, has caused fears of a massive return of Indian nationals, curtailing remittances and making demands on the job market.
(In Kerala, for instance, workers from other States have bridged the demand-supply gap in various sectors.)
The Gulf countries will require foreign workers for some more time, but India’s relations with many of them remain in the employer-employee mode.
However, Indian government should be ready for the eventuality of Indian workers returning (Indexit)
What India has to do?
India could make a strong beginning by either considering granting these PIOs citizenship, or any other right that makes them socially and politically involved with their country of origin.
The government should ensure that the demands of sections of the diaspora who lack political and economic clout are also given attention, and that they do not feel neglected.
It is imperative to include overseas Indians in India’s economic development, take care of their needs and aspirations.
States must be prepared with plans for rehabilitation of Indians, with the possibility of offering the same kind of jobs they were doing abroad.
Both the Centre and the States should design a comprehensive plan to invest the remittances intelligently and to find alternative ways of livelihood for those who return.
Connecting the dots:
The Indian diaspora is a neglected lot especially the blue collar workers. Do you agree? What steps can be taken to improve their living standards and security in their countries of residence/ job? Discuss.
The diaspora of India perhaps is one of the most dynamic lot in their countries of residence. They range from blue collar workers to CEOs of high value MNCs. How can the potential of this vibrant lot be tapped by India? Suggest a roadmap.
The Indian diaspora is spread all over the world. For Indians working in war zones and sensitive areas, there is a need to set up facilitation centres and also have evacuation plans ready for times of crisis. Discuss in light of the problems faced by the Indian diaspora.