Current Affairs – November, 2018

Government to refund employers for seven weeks of maternity leave to employees: WCD Ministry

Union Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) has announced that government will pay employers salaries for first seven of 26 weeks of maternity leave for women earning more than Rs 15,000 month.

The announcement comes in wake of complaints that many companies were reluctant to hire pregnant women after maternity leave was extended from 12 to 26 weeks and some were even firing women employees. The decision covers both the government as well as private sector. This decision was taken after WCD Ministry had talks with Union Labour Ministry that 7 of 26 weeks of maternity leave for all women employees in private and government sector getting more than Rs 15,000 a month will be paid from that fund. For paying employers, Government has decided to utilise funds lying in labour welfare cess with governments to pay employers.


Government had increased maternity leave for pregnant women was extended from 12 weeks to 26 weeks in 2017 after Parliament had passed Maternity Benefits (Amendment) Bill, 2016. This law had paved way for doubling of the maternity leave from 12 weeks to 26 weeks for two surviving children. This benefitted about 1.8 million women in the organised sector and raised India’s position to the third place in terms of the number of weeks given for maternity leave after Canada (50 weeks) and Norway (44).

Sri Ramayana Express flagged off from Safdarjung railway station in Delhi

Shri Ramayana Express, a special tourist train to run on Ramayana circuit to cover major spots related to Hindu epic was flagged off by Indian Railways from Safdarjung Railway Station, New Delhi. The pilgrimage circuit of Shri Ramayana Yatra will have two travel components — one each in India and Sri Lanka.

Shri Ramayana Express

In India, after leaving New Delhi, 800-seat Shri Ramayana Express will make its first stop in Ayodhya followed by Hanuman Garhi Ramkot and Kanak Bhawan temple. Then it cover important destinations of Ramayana circuit such as Nandigram, Sitamarhi, Janakpur, Varanasi, Prayag, Shringverpur, Chitrakoot, Nasik, Hampi and Rameshwaram.

It will complete its journey till Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu in 16 days covering all important destinations associated with the life of Lord Shri Ram. The railways has decided the fare for 16-day trip at Rs. 15,120 per person.

The Sri Lanka leg of the tour will be charged separately as passengers opting for Sri Lanka leg of Ramayana Yatra package can take flight to Colombo from Chennai. Railways is currently offering five-night/six-day Sri Lanka tour package at  cost starting from Rs. 47,600 per person.