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Government of India

Date

January 30, 2017

National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme

*Rajiv Pratap Rudy  i201712704.jpg

Since the early ages, the transfer of skills has been happening through the tradition of apprentices. A young apprentice would work under the tutelage of a master craftsman to learn the craft, while the master craftsman would get an inexpensive form of labour in exchange of training the apprentice and basic amenities. This tradition of skill development through on the job training has survived the test of time and found its place in the skill development programs of various nations around the world.

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The key benefits of apprenticeship as a mode of skill development are that it is a win-win model for both the industry and the apprentice, and it leads to the creation of an industry-ready workforce. Most countries around the world have implemented the apprenticeship model – Japan has over 10 million apprentices, Germany has 3 million apprentices and USA has 0.5 million apprentices, while India has only 0.3 million apprentices. This number is relatively low considering the huge population and demography of India with more than 300 million people in the age group of 18 -35 years.

In order to realise the potential of the favourable demographic dividend of India, Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi launched the Skill India campaign and subsequently, download.pnga separate Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) was formed in November 2014 with an ambition to convert India into the Skill capital of the world. Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship.pngThe young and start-up ministry in a very quick time has covered good ground in terms of putting together policy frameworks, launching and scaling up the flagship skill development scheme – Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY), revamping the ITI ecosystem, launching new schemes for entrepreneurship development, etc.

Similarly, Ministry has taken two key steps to increase the adoption of apprenticeship model in India:

  1. Amendments to the Apprenticeship Act, 1961
  2. Launching of National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme (NAPS) to replace Apprentice Protsahan Yojna (APY)

Apprenticeship Act, 1961

The Apprentices Act, 1961 was enacted with the objective of regulating the programme of training of apprentices in the industry by utilising the facilities available therein for imparting on-the-job training. The Act makes it obligatory for employers to engage apprentices in designated trades to impart apprenticeship training on the job in industry to school leavers and ITI pass outs, Graduates engineer, Diploma holder and Certificate in 10+2 vocational stream to develop skilled manpower. During the past few decades, the performance of Apprenticeship Training Scheme (ATS) was not in line with the growth of the economy of India. It was found that a large number of training facilities available in the industry going unutilized depriving unemployed youth to avail the benefits of the ATS. Analysis and interaction with stakeholders revealed that employers were not satisfied with the provisions of the act, especially the penal provision of imprisonment of 6 months. These provisions were considered too rigid by employers to encourage them to engage apprentices.

 Based on these inputs the Apprenticeship Act, 1961 was amended in 2014 which came into effect on 22 December 2014. The key changes brought about by the amendment are as follows:

  1. Imprisonment is no longer a penalty for violations under the Apprentices Act. After the Amendment, any non-compliance would be punishable only by a fine.
  2. The definition of worker has been broadened and the method of determining the number of apprentices to be appointed has been amended. These amendments would ensure that employers engage a larger number of apprentices
  3. The amendment also made provision for setting up a portal leading to electronic management of records, contracts and returns.

The motive behind these amendments was to ensure that employers engage a larger number of apprentices and to encourage employers to comply with the provisions of the Apprentices Act.

National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme

The government has launched the National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme (NAPS) on 19th August 2016 to promote apprenticeship training and incentivize employers who wish to engage apprentices. NAPS has replaced Apprentice Protsahan Yojna (APY) from 19th August 2016. While APY provided sharing of 50% of the stipend as prescribed by the Government only for the first two years, NAPS has provision for sharing of expenditure incurred in both providing training and stipend to the apprentice as follows:

  • Reimbursement of 25% of prescribed stipend subject to a maximum of   Rs. 1500/- per month per apprentice to all apprentices to employers.
  • Sharing of the cost of basic training in respect of fresher apprentices (who come directly for apprenticeship training without formal training) limited to Rs. 7500/- per apprentice for a maximum duration of 500 hours/3 months.

NAPS was launched with an ambitious objective of increasing the engagement of apprenticeship from 2.3 Lakhs to 50 Lakhs cumulatively by 2020. We have received an encouraging response from 1.43 Lakh students who have registered since the launch of the scheme in August. Ministry of Defence has also shown support for NAPS, by asking all PSUs under it engage over 10% of total workforce as apprentices. Hon’ble Prime Minister recently distributed reimbursement cheques to 15 establishments under NAPS in an event on 19th December in Kanpur.

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A user-friendly online portal (www.apprenticeship.gov.in) has been launched in order to facilitate the easy processing of entire apprenticeship cycle and for effective administration and monitoring of the scheme. The portal provides end to end service for the employer from registration and mentioning vacancy to submitting claims, and for the apprentice from registration to receiving and accepting offer letters online.

MSDE is working towards promoting the skilling ecosystem through its initiatives to provide the incentives to employers and creating a regulatory framework to promote compliance. I strongly believe that our initiatives such as NAPS will enable us to create an industry-ready workforce and help us transform India into the ‘Skill Capital of the world’.

*Author is the Minister of State (I/C) for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Government of India.

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NEW INITIATIVES OF THE DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS

Consumer Protection in the light of new IT interventions

*Ram Vilas Paswan  i201712701.jpg

Consumer advocacy

One of the mandates of the Department of Consumer Affairs in the Government of India is consumer advocacy. The Department is laying greater emphasis on consumer education and working with the goal of reaching the next level, from Consumer Protection tojago_grahak_jago_logo.png consumer empowerment. To achieve this goal the Government is offering a range of services such as National and State Consumer Helplines, Publicity Campaigns through Jago Grahak Jago, funding of academic institutions and voluntary consumer organisations in conducting Consumer Awareness Programmes, and involvement of Industry Associations and Chambers of Commerce in policy consultations and joint campaigns.

Consumer markets

Consumer markets for goods and services have undergone profound transformation since the enactment of the Consumer Protection Act in 1986.  The modern marketShopping_7 -k5pH--621x414@LiveMint.jpg place contains a plethora of increasingly complex products and services. The emergence of global supply chains, rise in international trade and the rapid development of e-commerce have led to new delivery systems for goods and services and have provided new opportunities for consumers. Equally, this has rendered the consumer vulnerable to new forms of unfair trade and unethical business practices. Taking note of these aspects, in addition to the strengthening of legal framework to address the new challenges faced by the consumers, the Department has taken several other initiatives.

INGRAM

The Department of Consumer Affairs has launched an Integrated Grievance Redress Mechanism (INGRAM) portal for bringing all stakeholders such as consumers, Central and State Government Agencies, private companies, regulators, Ombudsmen and call centers etc. on to a single platform.csm.JPG The portal is creating awareness among consumers to protect their rights and inform them of their responsibilities. Consumers can register online their grievances through this portal. The National Consumer Helpline is also accessible now through this portal.consumer_helpline.jpg

As value added services, a mobile application and easy to remember five digit short code 14404 have also been launched for consumers from across the country to access National Consumer Helpline.

Smart Consumer App

The Department in association with GS1 India has launched a mobile applicationmaxresdefault.jpgSmart Consumer”  to enable the consumer to scan the bar code of the product and get all details of the product such as name of the product, details of manufacturer, year and month of manufacture, net content and consumer care details for making complaint in case of any defect.

Online Dispute Resoluion

Online dispute resolution uses technology to facilitate the resolution of disputes between parties. In this respect it is often seen as being the online equivalent of alternative dispute resolution(ADR). technologyanddisputeresolutioninurbancontexts7638.jpgODR is a wide field, which may be applied to a range of disputes including Business to Consumer disputes (B2C). It seems to be particularly apt for these disputes, since it is logical to use the same medium (the internet) for the resolution of e-commerce disputes when parties are frequently located far from one another.

Online Consumer Mediation Centre (OCMC)

The Online Consumer Mediation Centre (OCMC) has been established at the National Law School of India University, Bengaluru under the aegis of Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Government of India. 22.JPGThe Centre aims to provide for a state-of-the-art infrastructure for resolving consumer disputes both through physical as well as online mediation through its platform. The Center will provide innovative technology for consumers and organisations to manage and resolve conflicts and to propel online mediation as a first choice to resolving consumer disputes. This is an innovative tool that affords consumers better access to justice through quick and easy redressal mechanism and at the same time provide opportunity for businesses to maintain good customer relations.

As a result of the Government of India’s mission to encourage public to adopt the digital payment system, in the near future, several crore of hitherto digital non literate consumers are going to use internet for the first time for buying goods and services and pay for the same. In order to protect the consumer on the online environment, a comprehensive one year campaign for raising awareness about internet safety amongst Indian consumers is being run in partnership with Google. The campaign will integrate the internet safety message into everyday tasks that Indian consumers undertake over internet – whether it be doing financial transactions, using emails, doing e-Commerce or simply surfing the internet for information in collaborate with Government of India in the Jago Grahak Jago campaign.

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The partnership will also extend to training of select VCOs, government officials and National Consumer Helpline counselors through a series of train the trainer’s programmes who will further conduct mass training programmes. Awareness generation is also going to be through a knowledge management portal which will be in the form of a micro site on the department website.

Online Consumer Communities

In association with the Local Circles, a social media platform, the Department has launched a platform ‘Online Consumer Communities’ for citizens to discuss and

opine about, consumer related issues. With Local Circles, a citizen can get connected with their Government, City, Causes, Neighborhood, Interest, needs and any other communities they are a part of. When citizens get connected and become communities, it leads to transparency, easy availability of trusted information, easier collective action to address common issues and an easier/better urban daily life. Using Local Circles, organizations can reach out to citizens and understand collective issues, challenges, solutions, opportunities, and pulse at macro or micro levels.

Price Stabilization Fund for Pulses

Pulses are important component of the food basket in India and is a major source of protein for the population. Despite India being the world’s largest producer and importer of Pulses, availability is not always sufficient to meet the requirement, which puts pressure on the prices.

Production, Imports and Demand of Pulses over time has been shown at the table below:

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Various initiatives have been taken by Government to enhance domestic production and productivity of pulses. However, the gap between demand and supply of pulsesPulses.jpg is likely to continue at least in short to medium term due to the increasing population, improved disposable income of the people, change in food preferences in favour of protein, etc. Taking cognizance of these facts, Government has been permitting import of pulses at zero per cent duty since June 2006 to improve availability at reasonable prices. There is also a ban on exports of pulses except for Kabuli Chana and up to 10,000 MT per annum for Organic pulses and Lentils since June 2006.  However, despite these measures, prices of pulses remained under stress during last two years.  This may partially be explained by insufficient imports of pulses during the last two years when domestic production fell due, inter alia, to adverse weather conditions. As imports were almost entirely through private channels, it was guided more by profitability than welfare concerns.

In view of recent experiences of price volatility of pulses due to its less than sufficient availability because of lower than desirable imports and the significance of pulses in consumption bundle Government considered and approved creation of buffer stock of 1.5 lakh MT of pulses in one of its landmark decisions in December 2015 which was subsequently revised upto 20 lakh MT of pulses in September 2016 to be funded through Price Stabilisation Fund Scheme of Department of Consumer Affairs.  Of this buffer of 20 lakh MT, 10 lakh MT was to be procured domestically and the remaining was to be  imported to improve domestic availability.   However, this distribution between domestic procurement and imports was tentative and could be suitably amended to extend support to farmers, if need be.

For building the buffer stock of pulses, domestic procurement is being undertaken throug

Food Corporation of India (FCI), National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd. (NAFED), Small Farmers’ Agribusiness Consortium (SFAC) while   imports is through Metals & Minerals Trading Corporation (MMTC) and State Trading Corporation (STC). In addition, State Governments have also been authorized to undertake the procurement of specified quality of pulses up to a specified quantity on automatic basis and beyond that level with prior concurrence of central government.

In view of the enhanced limit of buffer stock of up to 20 lakh MT the domestic procurement target of Kharif pulses from KMS 2016-17 stood at 5 lakh MT.  However, in view of the bumper Kharif crop of pulses and the reported distress sales by farmers Government decided to enhance the procurement target of Kharif pulses to around 9.5 lakh MT.  The designated agencies have been actively engaged in procurement of the targeted quantities and the KMS 2016-17 procurement would continue till March 15, 2017.  As on January 19, 2017 the domestic procurement during KMS 2016-17 stood at 3.37 lakh MT taking the total buffer of pulses, including procurement during previous marketing seasons and contracted imports, to 8.62 lakh MT. In view of the better production of Kharif pulses, it is expected that the procurement targets would be achieved for KMS 2016-17. Furthermore, additional 5 lakh MT for the buffer is to be procured domestically out of arrivals of Rabi pulses during RMS 2017-18 for building a dynamic buffer upto 20 lakh MT.

Government of India is creating a dynamic buffer stock of pulses with the objective of ensuring adequate availability of protein at reasonable prices. However, participation of States/UTs especially in distribution of pulses would be crucial for most effective use of the buffer. Distribution through States/UTs in may ensure channelization of the pulses directly to the consumers and minimize the scope of trade interests cornering gains from government’s operation. States/UTs were consulted on existence of distribution mechanism at the stage of formulation of plan for enhanced buffer. Most of them had indicated existence of channels through which pulses may be retailed directly to consumers. However, many States have not taken sufficient initiative for benefiting from the buffer by lifting pulses from it. The optimal use of buffer would be facilitated by improved participation of States/UTs, professional management of stock and making the stock dynamic.

* Author is Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Government of India. 

 

Remembering Mahatma Gandhi

*Pandurang Hegde  i201712702

It was on 30 January 1948 Mahatma succumbed to the bullets while he was on his way to the daily prayers. Though he left us physically, his teachings, numerous experiments in his personal life, politics and philosophy is fresh among the minds of  people in India and other countries of the world.

Why is he remembered in every nook and corners of the world? What aspects of his philosophy are attractive enough to lure youngsters into Gandhian fold? His life has become a model for those who are keen to practice the non violence at various levels among individuals and governments.

The first thing that one remembers Mahatma Gandhi is that of a thin bespectacled man clad  with one piece of cloth walking confidently with his stick or sitting quietly in front of Charkha spinning. This simplicity is the signature of his living and teachings.

The most important aspect of his life is that there was no difference between what he taught and what he practiced. Therefore he said “be the change you want to see in the world”, which literally means that instead of dreaming or speaking about the change, it must begin from the individual.

One of the foundations of his thought was non violence. It was not just at the philosophical and mental level, but to be put into practice at personal and community levels in everyday life. It was not just a hollow principle to be followed by fellow human beings, but it meant to respect other creatures in nature like insects and animals.

Though he is remembered as a great leader to put the tools of non violent into use as a political strategy to win independence from the British rule, he felt that this needs to be part of common man’s life to end exploitation among the family and in the society.

Gandhi was the first modern pacifist, and he coined the word Pacifism, which means non violent opposition to war, militarism and violence. This is also known as ‘Satyagraha”, one of the main tools that led to winning the independence from colonial rule.

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To achieve this he asked for practice forgiveness instead of spreading hate. He said that “forgiveness is the attribute of the strong and those who are weak can never forgive”. Therefore he respected even his enemies, and appealed to the goodwill present among the enemies and gradually was able to win them with his persuasion. That is the reason for many British people were supporting Gandhi despite British Raj being the staunch enemy.

There was no hatred in his mind against his detractors or those who criticised his ideas and acts. For him taking revenge is like spreading the poison, to practice an eye for eye would make the whole world blind.

His life was an experiment with truth and non violence in which he was constantly learning form situations and people. His quote is “live as if you die tomorrow and learn as if you were to live forever”.  He learnt from his mistakes, improving on his strategies and making his ideas more effective.

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It is a phenomenal feat that he wrote 55000 pages, which is produced in 100 volumes of collected works by the government of India. We need to remember that he wrote this by hand, when there were no computers.

In remembering Gandhi the present government is trying to put his ideas into practice. The launching of the cleanliness campaign under the banner of Swach Bharat Ahiyaan(SBA)is inspired by his idea.swachh-bharat-abhiyan.jpg

It has created awareness among the masses and gradually the people are adapting, changing their age old habits and practicing the concept of cleanliness in daily life.

The emphasis on reviving the age old Khadi cloth among the younger generation is another area in which the Prime Minister has taken personal interest and he has appealed to people to support Khadi by purchasing it and wearing it regularly.

Gandhi’s philosophy of simple living is the basis for low carbon footprint life style to address the issue of climate change and global warming. Remembering this aspect of Gandhi the Central Government signed the Climate Change Agreement on Gandhi’s birthday.

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Thus, Gandhi is alive through his ideas both at national and international levels.

At national level the launching of non violent Chipko – Appiko Movement to protect the forest resources was inspired by Gandhi’s ideas and led by Sarvodaya leaders like Padma Vibhushan Shri Sunderlal Bahuguna.चिपको-आन्दोलन-6.jpg

At international level Nelson Mandela followed Gandhi’s philosophy to end the apartheid rule in South Africa. Similarly, Martin Luther King Jr in USA and many other practiced non violence are carrying forward their struggles for justice.

It will be appropriate to recall his words on the death anniversary” So long as my faith burns bright, as I hope it will , even if I stand alone, I shall be alive in the grave and what is more speaking form it”.

That is literally true, his ideas are resonating across the world and the creed is growing.

On his 69th death anniversary we need to remember Gandhi’s ideas by putting them into practice in our daily lives. This is the only way we can pay the due respects to the Father of the Nation.

*Author is an independent journalist and columnist based in Karnataka.

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