Cabinet approves Women Reservation Bill granting 33% seats to women in Parliament
On September 18, the Union Cabinet took a historic step by approving the Women Reservation Bill, which mandates a 33 percent reservation for women in both the Lok Sabha and state assemblies of India. This monumental legislation aims to ensure equal representation for women in the highest legislative bodies of the country.
Key Provisions of the Women Reservation Bill
33% Reservation for Women
The Women Reservation Bill mandates that one-third of the seats in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies will be reserved for women candidates.
This provision aims to promote gender equality and increase women’s representation in India’s legislative bodies.
To ensure fairness and equitable distribution, the reserved seats will be rotated after each general election.
This mechanism prevents the monopolization of reserved seats by specific political parties or individuals.
Sub-Reservation for Marginalized Groups
The Bill also proposes sub-reservation within the 33 percent quota for Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs), and Anglo-Indians.
This sub-reservation recognizes the importance of addressing intersectional inequalities and promoting diversity in political representation.
A Long and Turbulent History
The Women’s Reservation Bill has a tumultuous history, dating back to its initial introduction in 1996.
Subsequent attempts were made in 1998 and 1999, but the bill faced significant opposition and challenges.
A breakthrough occurred in 2008 when the bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha (the upper house of Parliament) in 2010.
Unfortunately, the bill lapsed due to the dissolution of the Lok Sabha, leading to years of continued debate and discussions.
With the commencement of Parliament’s special session, the Women Reservation Bill has once again taken center stage.
Its approval by the Union Cabinet marks a significant step towards achieving greater gender equality and political empowerment of women in India.
CM Pramod Sawant Launches Griha Adhar Scheme To Empower Goan Homemakers
In a significant move aimed at bolstering the financial independence and well-being of homemakers in Goa, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant distributed Griha Adhar sanction orders to a multitude of beneficiaries across the state. This proactive step not only acknowledges the invaluable contributions of homemakers but also seeks to uplift their socio-economic status.
A Boost for Women: The Griha Adhar Initiative
The Griha Adhar initiative, orchestrated by the Directorate of Women and Child Development, represents a significant stride towards women’s empowerment. By providing financial support to homemakers, this initiative aspires to make them self-reliant and enhance their overall quality of life. The sanction orders distributed during this event are a testament to the government’s commitment to the welfare of women in Goa.
Chavath-e-Bazaar: A Digital Leap for Goan Entrepreneurs
In addition to the Griha Adhar initiative, Chief Minister Sawant unveiled another transformative program – the Chavath-e-Bazaar. This digital endeavor, launched under the Swayampura Goa Programme, is designed to empower Goan entrepreneurs and self-help groups. By harnessing the potential of e-commerce, Chavath-e-Bazaar aims to provide a platform for local artisans and entrepreneurs to showcase their products to a wider audience.
A Commitment to ‘Vocal for Local’
Chief Minister Sawant reiterated his government’s commitment to uplift both the common people and local entrepreneurs, aligning with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of ‘Vocal for Local.’ This commitment reflects a steadfast dedication to promoting indigenous industries and empowering grassroots-level businesses.
Support for Women Beneficiaries
A noteworthy outcome of this initiative is the distribution of 11,500 newly sanctioned orders across the state, with a substantial allocation of 6,000 orders to the North Goa district alone. This distribution has significantly increased the number of women beneficiaries, with the count now reaching an impressive 1.5 lakh.
Empowering through Training
Furthermore, Chief Minister Sawant highlighted the government’s proactive approach in providing free-of-cost training to women at their respective panchayats. This training encompasses essential skills related to packaging food items, selling, and other relevant aspects, fostering self-reliance among women beneficiaries.
Annual Increments for Griha Adhar Beneficiaries
Vishwajeet Rane, Minister for Women and Child Development, shared that Griha Adhar beneficiaries have already received their financial support directly into their accounts on the same day. Furthermore, the scheme is structured to provide annual increments, ensuring continued financial assistance for homemakers.
Chavath-e-Bazaar: Boosting Entrepreneurial Dreams
Minister Rane emphasized that the Chavath-e-Bazaar, an online portal integrated with the Swiggy app for seamless ordering, holds great promise for women entrepreneurs. This digital platform will not only facilitate their businesses but also propel them towards realizing their dreams of becoming successful entrepreneurs.
ACKO Launches “Health Insurance ki Subah ho Gayi Mamu” Campaign for Platinum Health Plan
ACKO, a leading insurance company, has unveiled its latest health insurance offering called the “ACKO Platinum Health Plan.” This comprehensive plan boasts several notable features, including 100% bill payment, no room rent capping, and zero waiting periods. To promote this new product, ACKO has reintroduced the beloved characters of Munna Bhai and Circuit from the iconic Bollywood movie series. The campaign is aptly titled “Health Insurance ki Subah ho Gayi Mamu” and has been directed by renowned filmmaker Rajkumar Hirani. Sanjay Dutt and Arshad Warsi reprise their original roles in the campaign.
Revolutionizing Health Insurance:
Ashish Mishra, EVP-Marketing at ACKO, explained that Munna and Circuit’s character traits align with the company’s goal of challenging the conventional norms of health insurance. The Platinum Health Plan has been designed to simplify health insurance and eliminate common customer pain points. The campaign leverages Rajkumar Hirani’s storytelling prowess to convey complex issues in a comprehensible manner.
Key Campaign Highlights:
The series of advertisements within the campaign focus on educating the audience about several critical aspects of the ACKO Platinum Health Plan:
Zero Waiting Period: The campaign highlights the plan’s unique feature of zero waiting periods, ensuring immediate coverage for policyholders.
100% Bill Payment: ACKO emphasizes its commitment to covering 100% of the medical bills, alleviating financial burdens during health crises.
Full Disclosures for Stress-Free Claims: The campaign encourages policyholders to provide full disclosures of their ailments. This transparency simplifies the claims process, leading to a stress-free experience.
Ease of Filing Claims: ACKO emphasizes the ease of filing claims, making it a hassle-free process for customers.
Vikram Pandey, National Creative Director at Leo Burnett India, expressed that the idea of Munna and Circuit challenging traditional health insurance norms was met with enthusiasm but seemed unachievable. However, securing the participation of Sanjay Dutt, Arshad Warsi, and Rajkumar Hirani to create the next episode of the Munna Bhai series for an advertising campaign was a remarkable achievement.
Government Launches Three Transformative Initiatives for Farmers
In a significant move aimed at revolutionizing agriculture in India, the government has announced the launch of three game-changing initiatives. These initiatives, which focus on agri-credit and crop insurance, were unveiled by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Union Minister of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare, Narendra Singh Tomar. The initiatives are set to amplify financial inclusion, harness technology, and improve the livelihoods of farmers across the country.
1. Kisan Rin Portal (KRP): A Digital Leap in Agri-Credit
Developed in collaboration with multiple government departments, the Kisan Rin Portal (KRP) is poised to transform access to credit services under the Kisan Credit Card (KCC) Scheme. This digital platform provides farmers with a comprehensive view of their data, loan disbursement specifics, interest subvention claims, and facilitates efficient agriculture credit. It promises to simplify and streamline the borrowing process for farmers.
2. Door to Door KCC Campaign: Ensuring Universal Financial Inclusion
The Ghar Ghar Kisan Credit Card (KCC) Abhiyaan is an ambitious campaign that seeks to extend the benefits of the Kisan Credit Card (KCC) Scheme to every farmer in India. With a total of 7.35 Crore operative KCC accounts and a sanctioned limit of 8.85 lakh crores rupees as of March 2023, this campaign aims to ensure that every farmer has unhindered access to credit facilities. It envisions universal financial inclusion, empowering farmers with the financial resources they need.
3. Weather Information Network Data Systems (WINDS) Manual: Data-Driven Insights for Farmers
The Weather Information Network Data Systems (WINDS) initiative is a groundbreaking innovation that leverages advanced weather data analytics. By providing stakeholders with actionable insights on weather patterns, WINDS aims to assist farmers in making informed decisions about their agricultural activities. This data-driven approach will enhance crop management and help farmers mitigate the impact of adverse weather conditions.
14th World Spice Congress: Celebrating India’s Spice Heritage
The 14th edition of the World Spice Congress (WSC) commenced in Vashi, Navi Mumbai. This three-day event is being meticulously organized by the Spices Board India, a subsidiary of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, in collaboration with several trade bodies and export forums. India, often referred to as the ‘Spice Bowl’ of the world, is known for producing high-quality, rare, and medicinal spices. The World Spice Congress (WSC) aims to create new opportunities for the international trade of Indian spices.
The event is not limited to traders; it also welcomes policy regulators. Special business sessions have been dedicated to promoting spice trade among G20 countries. Participants include policymakers, regulatory authorities, spice trade associations, government officials, and technical experts from key G20 nations.
Maharashtra: The Ideal Venue
Maharashtra was chosen as the venue for WSC due to its significant spice production. The state is a leading producer of turmeric and boasts two GI-tagged turmeric varieties and one GI-tagged chilli variety. Additionally, coastal areas of Maharashtra are known for producing GI-tagged Kokum. The state serves as one of India’s largest exporting hubs for spices.
The Role of Climatic Conditions in Spice Cultivation
The climatic conditions in India, ranging from tropical to temperate, along with variations in rainfall, humidity, and altitude, play a pivotal role in shaping the spice industry. These diverse conditions allow for the cultivation of a wide variety of spices, contributing to India’s status as a global leader in spice production and trade.
Different spices have specific temperature requirements for growth and development. India’s varying temperatures across regions provide suitable conditions for a range of spices. For instance, spices like black pepper and cardamom thrive in warmer, tropical climates, while cumin and coriander prefer temperate conditions.
Many spices require a certain level of humidity to grow well. The warm and humid climate in southern and southwestern India, particularly in states like Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka, is ideal for spices like black pepper, cardamom, and cloves.
Rainfall’s Vital Role
Adequate and well-distributed rainfall is crucial for spice cultivation. Spices like ginger and turmeric, which are cultivated in subtropical regions, benefit from the monsoon rains in states like Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
The altitude of a region can impact spice cultivation. For example, the cultivation of high-value spices like saffron is often done at higher altitudes in regions like Jammu and Kashmir, where the climate is cooler.
Spices are often harvested at specific times of the year when climatic conditions are most favorable. For example, cardamom harvesting in Kerala is typically done during the monsoon season when moisture levels are high.
Microclimates: India’s Secret
India’s diverse landscape also includes microclimates within regions, which can create niche conditions for the cultivation of specific spices. Certain valleys or hilly areas may have slightly different climatic conditions that are suitable for unique spice varieties.
Adaptation Over Time
Over centuries, farmers in different regions of India have adapted to their local climatic conditions and have developed cultivation practices that are specific to their environment. This has led to the successful cultivation of a wide range of spices across the country.
Soil Requirements for Spice Cultivation
While well-drained, loamy soils with good organic content are generally preferred for spice cultivation, specific spices may have unique soil preferences. Understanding the soil requirements of different spices and the local soil conditions in a given region is crucial for successful spice farming.
Well-Drained Loamy Soils
Well-drained, loamy soils with good organic content are generally preferred for many spice crops. Loam is a balanced soil type that combines sand, silt, and clay, providing good drainage and moisture retention.
Organic Content Matters
Organic matter in the soil, such as compost or well-rotted manure, is beneficial for spice cultivation. It helps improve soil structure, water-holding capacity, and nutrient availability.
Specific Soil Preferences
Different spices may have specific soil preferences based on their adaptability and growth requirements. For example:
Turmeric and Ginger: These rhizomatous spices prefer well-drained sandy loam soils. Sandy loam allows for good drainage, which is essential to prevent waterlogging around the rhizomes.
Black Pepper: Black pepper plants thrive in lateritic soils, which are iron-rich and well-drained. The slightly acidic nature of lateritic soils is suitable for pepper cultivation.
Cardamom: Cardamom plants prefer loamy soils with good organic content. They are often grown in regions with high rainfall and well-distributed moisture.
Soil pH can also influence spice cultivation. Many spices grow well in slightly acidic to neutral soils. Soil pH levels can be adjusted, if necessary, through the addition of lime or other soil amendments.
Microclimates and Local Conditions
Local variations in soil types and microclimates can influence spice cultivation. Farmers often adapt their practices to suit the specific conditions of their region, selecting suitable spice varieties and adjusting soil management techniques accordingly.
Soil Preparation and Maintenance
Proper soil preparation, including soil testing, can help determine the pH and nutrient levels in the soil. This information can guide farmers in making necessary amendments to optimize soil conditions for spice cultivation. Crop rotation and soil health practices are essential to maintain the fertility and structure of the soil over time.
The Rich Tapestry of Indian Spices
India cultivates a wide variety of spices, each with its unique characteristics and regional significance.
Black Pepper: Grown in Kerala, Karnataka, and other southern states.
Cardamom: Mainly produced in Kerala, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu.
Turmeric: Cultivated in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Odisha.
Chilli: Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Telangana are known for chilli production.
Cumin: Grown in Rajasthan and Gujarat.
Coriander: Cultivated in states like Rajasthan, Gujarat, and Madhya Pradesh.
Export and Economic Significance
Spices are indeed a vital component of India’s agricultural economy. The spice industry provides livelihoods to millions of farmers, laborers, and traders across the country.
Foreign Exchange Earnings
The export of spices is a significant contributor to India’s foreign exchange earnings. India is one of the world’s largest spice exporters, and its spices are in high demand globally. The export of Indian spices includes products like ground spices, spice extracts, spice oils, and spice blends.
Cultural and Culinary Significance
Cultural Heritage: Spices have a rich cultural heritage in India. They have been an integral part of Indian culture for centuries, used not only in cuisine but also in traditional medicine, rituals, and ceremonies.
Diverse Flavors: Spices contribute to the diverse and complex flavours of Indian cuisine. Each spice has its unique taste profile, and the art of blending them in various combinations creates a wide array of Indian dishes, from mild and aromatic to fiery and robust.
Spice Blends: Spice blends like garam masala and curry powder are at the heart of Indian cooking. These blends are carefully crafted combinations of spices that lend distinctive flavours to dishes.
Regional Variations: Different regions of India have their own spice preferences and culinary traditions. Spices play a central role in defining regional cuisines and adding depth to local flavours.
Health Benefits: Many Indian spices are known for their health benefits and are used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine. For example, turmeric is valued for its anti-inflammatory properties, and ginger is used to aid digestion.
Gandhi Walk Resumed In Johannesburg, South Africa After Covid-19 Pandemic
The 35th edition of the annual Gandhi Walk, a cherished event in the predominantly Indian suburb of Lenasia in Johannesburg, finally returned after being postponed for three long years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The event witnessed the enthusiastic participation of over two thousand people who embraced the new format—a delightful six-kilometre walk, accompanied by an array of entertainment. This year’s walk was a departure from the traditional format, emphasizing enjoyment over competition.
A Pandemic Postponement
In 2020, barely a month before the scheduled event, as the pandemic began its relentless global spread, the Gandhi Walk Committee made a tough but wise decision to postpone the event indefinitely. This choice was made despite the Committee having already incurred significant costs in planning for an expected 4,000 registered walkers. The traditional format had catered to various fitness levels and interests, offering two distances—15km for serious athletes and 5km for families, senior citizens, and parents pushing prams.
A Shift Towards Joyful Walking
This year’s Gandhi Walk embraced a more casual six-kilometre format that prioritized the enjoyment of the participants over the competitive aspect. The change in format was well-received and allowed people to reconnect with the event in a new light, fostering a sense of togetherness that was much needed after the pandemic-induced isolation.
A Tradition Continued: Harivardan Pitamber
A noteworthy presence at this year’s walk was Harivardan Pitamber, a striking look-alike of Mahatma Gandhi. Pitamber has been an integral part of the Gandhi Walk for many years, and his presence once again drew much attention. Participants eagerly clamored for selfies with him. Pitamber’s involvement adds an authentic touch and a deep connection to Mahatma Gandhi himself, enhancing the experience for all participants.
Resilience and Unity
The resumption of community-based events like the Gandhi Walk serves as a testament to the resilience and unity of communities in the face of adversity. These occasions not only provide an opportunity for people to come together but also serve as a reminder of their shared heritage, values, and commitment to social cohesion.
OECD raises India’s growth forecast for FY24 to 6.3 per cent
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has revised its GDP growth projection for India in the fiscal year 2024, forecasting a growth rate of 6.3%. This upward revision represents a notable increase from the previous estimate of 6%. The OECD attributes India’s positive growth surprises to favorable agricultural outcomes driven by favorable weather conditions.
Global Economic Outlook
OECD raises India’s growth forecast for FY24 to 6.3 per cent
While India sees an improved growth outlook, the global economy is projected to grow at a rate of 3% in 2023 and is expected to slow down further to 2.7% in 2024, as indicated in the OECD report. Despite a weaker-than-expected recovery in China, the report highlights that a significant portion of global growth in 2023-24 is expected to originate from Asia.
Inflation Projections for India
The OECD has also revised India’s inflation projection, anticipating it to be 5.3%, an increase from the previous estimate of 4.8% made in June. The report points out that while headline inflation has decreased in many countries due to declining food and energy prices in the first half of 2023, core inflation has not experienced a significant slowdown. The report underscores the risk of persistent inflation, which could necessitate further interest rate tightening or an extended period of higher interest rates.
The OECD report suggests there is room for modest policy easing in several major economies, including India, Indonesia, Mexico, and South Africa, over the next year. However, it advises a cautious approach to monetary policy until clear signs of lasting relief from inflationary pressures emerge.
Furthermore, the OECD emphasizes the importance of fiscal policy in preparing for future spending pressures. It also highlights the potential benefits of reducing trade barriers, particularly in the service sectors, to boost productivity and growth. The report encourages governments not to be deterred by concerns about economic security when considering opportunities to lower trade restrictions.
Revised GDP Growth Projection for FY25
In a noteworthy adjustment, the OECD has revised its GDP growth projection for India in the fiscal year 2025 downward to 6%, down from the earlier projection of 7%. This revision suggests potential challenges or uncertainties in the medium-term economic outlook for the country.