Current Affairs – 16 December 2021

Raise Marriage Age of Women

Indian Express

GS 2: Issues Related to Women, Gender, Government Policies & Interventions

Context:

  • Recently,  the Union Cabinet passed a proposal to raise the legal age of marriage for women from 18 to 21 years — the same as men.

About:

  • The Government will introduce an amendment to the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, and consequently bring amendments to the Special Marriage Act and personal laws such as the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.
  • Section 5(iii) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 sets 18 years as the minimum age for the bride and 21 for the groom. The Special Marriage Act, 1954 and the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 also prescribe 18 and 21 years as the minimum age of consent for marriage for women and men, respectively.

Background:

  • The United Nations adopted the Convention on Consent to Marriage, Minimum Age for Marriage and Registration for Marriages, which came into force in December 1964.
  • Women’s age of marriage was increased from 15 years to 18 years in 1978, by amending the erstwhile Sharda Act of 1929.
  • This position remains the same even in the new law called the Prohibition of Child Marriages Act (PCMA), 2006, which replaced the CMRA.
  • According to the law, if a marriage had occurred between a boy aged between 18-21 years and a girl below the age of 18 years, it implied an imprisonment up to 15 days along with a fine of one thousand rupees.

Need of this step:

  • Recent data released by NFHS 5 (National Family Health Survey) have already shown that the Total Fertility Rate is decreasing and the population is under control. The idea behind it (the recommendation) is the empowerment of women.
  • According to data from NFHS 5, India attained a Total Fertility Rate of 2.0 for the first time, below the replacement level of TFR at 2.1, indicating that a population explosion in the coming years is unlikely. The data also revealed that child marriage has come down marginally from 27% in 2015-16 to 23% in 2019-21.

Positive impact:

  • It is important that girls are not pushed into marriage early; marriage should not be compulsory for them to gain social and economic status. Yet, an increase in the minimum age of marriage to 21 years will be counterproductive.
  • Minimum age of marriage does not mean mandatory age. It only signifies that below that age there could be criminal prosecution under the child marriage law.
  • This step will lower the Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR), improve nutrition levels, financial front opportunities will be opened up for women to pursue higher education and careers and hence, they will become financially empowered.
  • This will also improve the female labour force participation ratio.
  • Both men and women will gain economically and socially by marrying when they are more than the legal age, but added that the urge of the women is much higher as they always get a higher payoff by becoming financially empowered to take decisions.

Negative impact:

  • The elementary right that the child rights convention bestows upon minors — the right to be heard, the right for their views to be considered — will be denied to girls right up till 21, beyond adulthood.
  • It has become a tool for parental control and for punishment of boys or men whom girls choose as their husbands.

 

When ‘veg’ is ‘non-veg’

Indian Express

GS 2, 3: Statutory Bodies, Food Processing

Context:

  • Recently, Delhi High Court has directed the food safety regulator to ensure that food business operators make full disclosures on all that goes into any food article — “not only by their code names but also by disclosing as to whether they originate from plant, or animal source, or whether they are manufactured in a laboratory, irrespective of their percentage in the food article”.

About:

  • The operators must comply strictly with Regulation 2.2.2(4) of the Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labelling) Regulations, 2011 on the basis that the use of any ingredient — in whatever measure or percentage, which is sourced from animals, would render the food article as Non-Vegetarian.
  • Every person has a right to know as to what he/she is consuming, and nothing can be offered to the person on a platter by resort to deceit, or camouflage.
  • The court said the use of non-vegetarian ingredients, even in “a minuscule percentage”, “would render such food articles non-vegetarian, and would offend the religious and cultural sensibilities/ sentiments of strict vegetarians, and would interfere in their right to freely profess, practice and propagate their religion and belief”.

What are the labelling requirements under the 2011 Regulations?

  • The Regulations define non-vegetarian food as containing “whole or part of any animal including birds, fresh water or marine animals or eggs or products of any animal origin, but excluding milk or milk products”.
  • Every package of “Non Vegetarian” food shall bear a symbol and colour code. The symbol shall consist of a brown colour filled circle.
  • Where any article of food contains egg only as Non-Vegetarian ingredient, the manufacturer, or packer or seller may give declaration to this effect in addition to the said symbol.
  • Every package of Vegetarian Food shall bear a declaration to this effect by a symbol and colour code. The symbol shall consist of a green colour filled circle, inside the square with green outline having size double the diameter of the circle.
  • The regulations also require manufacturers to display a list of ingredients along with their weight or volume. Manufacturers must disclose which types of edible vegetable oil, edible vegetable fat, animal fat or oil, fish, poultry meat, or cheese, etc. has been used in the product.
  • Where an ingredient itself is the product of two or more ingredients and such a compound ingredient constitutes less than 5% of the food, the list of ingredients of the compound ingredient, other than food additive, need not to be declared.

 

Semiconductor Makers

The Hindu

GS 2, 3: Government Policies & Interventions, Growth & Development, Indigenization of Technology, Industrial Policy

Context:

  • The Union Cabinet approved a ₹76,000 crore scheme to boost semiconductor and display manufacturing in the country, taking the total amount of incentives announced for the electronics sector to ₹2.30 lakh crore.

About:

  • The comprehensive programme for the “development of sustainable semiconductor and display ecosystem in the country” was aimed at making India a global hub of electronic system design and manufacturing.
  • The semiconductor scheme also comes at a time when the world is witnessing a severe crunch of semiconductors, a key component used in cars to electronic devices.
  • The supply has been disrupted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced many production centres to close intermittently.

  • The programme will usher in a new era in electronics manufacturing by providing a globally competitive incentive package to companies in semiconductors and display manufacturing as well as design.
  • The scheme would provide fiscal support of up to 50% of the project cost for setting up semiconductor and display fabrication units.
  • In addition, the Centre would work with the States to set up high-tech clusters with the necessary infrastructure such as land and semiconductor-grade water.
  • In order to drive the long-term strategies for developing a sustainable semiconductors and display ecosystem, a specialised and independent ‘India Semiconductor Mission’ will be set up.
  • The India Semiconductor Mission will be led by global experts in semiconductor and display industry. It will act as the nodal agency for efficient and smooth implementation of the schemes on semiconductors and display ecosystem.

Significance:

  • Trusted sources of semiconductors and displays had strategic importance in the current geopolitical scenario and were “key to the security of critical information infrastructure”.
  • The approved programme will propel innovation and build domestic capacities to ensure the digital sovereignty of India.
  • It will also create highly skilled employment opportunities to harness the demographic dividend of the country.

Conclusion:

  • Electronics manufacturing in the country had increased to $75 billion over the past seven years and was expected to reach $300 billion in the next six years. The “chips to start-ups” programme would develop 85,000 well-trained engineers.
  • Semiconductor designers would be given the opportunity to launch start-ups. The government would bear 50% of the expense under the design-linked incentive scheme. The entire programme would lead to 35,000 high-quality direct jobs and 1 lakh indirect employment.