Current Affairs – August, 2020

GoI scraps Powerloom Board after Handloom Board

The Ministry of Textiles has disbanded All India Powerloom Board after All India Handicrafts and Handloom boards. Also, all of the eight Textiles Research Associations in the country will now cease to be “affiliated bodies” of the ministry.

Highlights

The Textile Research Associations will now act as approved bodies to conduct tests, researches and development activities of textiles sector. The decision has been made to stick to the principle of “Minimum Government Maximum Governance”.

The board was first constituted in November 1981. Powerloom is a mechanised loom that was developed during early Industrial Revolution.

The Handloom Board was scrapped on the National Handloom Day (August 7).

Textiles Research Associations

The eight Textiles Research Associations in India are as follows

  • Textiles Research Association in Ghaziabad
  • Ahmedabad Textile Industry Research Association
  • Bombay Textiles Research Association
  • Man-made Textiles Research Association in Surat
  • Synthetic and Art Silk Mills Research Association in Mumbai
  • World research Association in Thane
  • Indian Jute Industries Research Association in Kolkata
  • South India Textiles Research Association in Coimbatore.

Textiles Sector in India

The domestic textiles contribute to 2.3% of GDP of India. Also, it contributes to 13% of export earning of the country and 7% of manufacturing production. Textiles industry provides second largest employment in the country providing employment to more than 45 million people.

The textiles sector is highly important to India as it generates huge employment to both skilled and unskilled labours after agriculture.

India is first in jute production and contributes to 63% of Global textile market. Most of the jute mills in India are located in the banks of Hooghly River. India faces tough competition from countries such as Brazil, Bangladesh, Philippines, Thailand and Egypt. The main markets of jute are Russia, USA, UK, Australia and Canada.

The textiles industry in India include silk, cotton, wool, jute and man-made fibres. Cotton contributes to 60% of Indian Textiles industry. The Cotton Textile industries are concentrated in the cotton growing belts of Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan.

FSSAI: No sale of junk food within 50 metres of schools

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India recently announced that sale of junk and unhealthy food should be restricted within 50 metres schools and education institutions.

Highlights

The FSSAI has made the announcement to provide safe foods and balanced diet to children in schools. The foods referred to as HFSS (High in Fat, Salt and Sugar) cannot be sold in mess premises and scool canteens.

The FSSAI operates under Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. It was established as statutory body under Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006.

Regulations

The GoI has brought in several regulations to make sure school children are provided with healthy food. The Mid-Day Meal scheme should receive license or registration from food regulating agency. Also, it should comply requirements of hygiene practices as specified under Schedule 4 of Food Safety and Standard Act.

The draft regulation against fast food within 50 metres of school premises was released in November 2019. It was titled as “Food Safety and Standards (Safe Food and Healthy Diets for School Children) Regulations, 2019” The regulations are as follows

  • The food companies cannot advertise or offer free foods within 50 metres of the school campus
  • The regulation prohibits companies from using their logos, product names and brand names on educational materials such as school buses, buildings or athletic fields.
  • The school campus should be converted into “Eat Right School”.
  • The schools should get advice from dietitians and nutritionists to prepare menu for children periodically.

Background

India has the second most number of obese children among 195 countries according to WHO. Also, western diet affects the diversity of gut bacteria and sets stage for metabolic diseases. Therefore, these regulations that reduce the intake of unhealthy foods should be welcomed.

In 2015, the Delhi High Court ordered FSSAI to regulate junk foods being sold in school canteens. After this, committees were set up to frame new guidelines to make sure school children get healthy meals.