1. ‘BIS certification mandatory for footwear’
Awareness programmes held as manufacturers have to apply online for licence
The Bureau of Indian Standards, Chennai Region, has started reaching out to footwear manufacturers across the State as BIS certification has been made mandatory for various kinds of footwear from July 1.
Officials of the BIS, Chennai, said most kinds of footwear, including leather, rubber slippers, PVC sandals, sports footwear, industrial boots, ankle boots, canvas shoes, protective footwear used by miners and those used for municipal work, would now need to conform to quality control order.
It applies to footwear made from all rubber and polymeric material and its components. Manufacturers have to apply online for a mandatory licence and the products have to bear ISI standard mark from July 1, officials said.
Nearly 27 different Indian standards related to footwear, including IS 15844:2010 for sports footwear and IS 3735:1996 with specifications on quality of materials in manufacturing, are being made mandatory now. However, medical footwear is not covered under the quality control order or mandatory ISI mark, officials added.
G. Bhavani, Head, Chennai Branch office-1, BIS, said awareness was being created on the online application procedure and need to clear existing stock in the next few months. Customers may begin to look for ISI mark in footwear.
“We are coordinating with various self-help groups and footwear manufacturers to spread awareness on quality control order. We are organising programmes with SHGs in Chennai and Andhra Chamber of Commerce for the footwear manufacturers of Vellore and Tirupattur districts,” she said.
There are about 150 footwear manufacturers who have a voluntary BIS licence. Of these, nearly 87 licences are held by manufacturers of safety footwear as per IS 15298: 2016. But, more manufacturers need to be brought into the BIS ambit, she added.
Once the quality control order with mandatory certification comes into force, such footwear cannot be sold or imported without an ISI mark. The compulsory use of standard mark would have to be followed by manufacturers, officials said.
The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS)
- The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) is the National Standards Body of India under Department of Consumer affairs, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution
- It is established by the Bureau of Indian Standards Act, 2016.
- The Minister in charge of the Ministry or Department having administrative control of the BIS is the ex-officio President of the BIS.
About Other Certification Marks
What is a certification mark?
- Certification marks on a commercial product are usually called as a mark of validity or an assurance of the fact that the manufacturer has tested the product and it has ensured that it meets the given quality standard.
- It also helps to specify the location of the origin, materials of construction, mode of production, characteristics of the good etc.
- Some of these marks are mandatory while some are advisory.
- A certification mark certifies the nature or origin of the goods or the services to which it has been applied.
Who sets these marks?
- A special body which is called as Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), which comes under the aegis of the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO standards), govern all the industrial standardization and the industrial product certifications in India. It is thus a national standards organization of India.
- ISI Mark is a certification mark used for industrial products in India.
- This mark assures that the product conforms to Indian Standards and is issued by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS).
- This mark is both mandatory and voluntary.
- Mandatory ISI certification products consist of electrical appliances, medical equipment, steel products, stainless steel, chemicals, fertilizers, cement, LPG cylinder, batteries, and packed drinking water.
- The BIS Hallmark is a marking system, set up to certify the purity of gold jewelry and gold.
- This mark was introduced for gold in the year 2000 and for silver jewelry in 2005.
- It verifies that the jewellery conforms to the standards which are set by the Bureau of Indian Standards.
- BIS certified gold jewelry comes with a BIS stamp.
- AGMARK is a certification mark used for agricultural products in India.
- This mark assures that the product conforms to a set of standards approved by the Directorate of Marketing and Inspection of the Government of India.
- Currently, AGMARK standards cover quality guidelines for various products like essential oils, vegetable oils, pulses, cereals, fruits, vegetable and semi-processed products like Vermicelli.
- It is compulsory to have an FPO Mark on all processed fruit products sold in India.
- The example of processed fruit products are fruit jams, packaged fruit beverages, crushes, squashes, pickles, dehydrated fruit products, and fruit extracts.
- The FPO mark confirms that the product was manufactured in a hygienic ‘food-safe’ environment and is fit for consumption.
Green and brown dot
- The green or brown dot is a common mark, printed on almost all food products.
- The brown dot on the packed food item indicates that the food is non-vegetarian.
- On the other hand, the green dot indicates that the food in the package is vegetarian. These symbols should be placed at a prominent place on the package.
India Organic Certification
- The India Organic Certification is a label provided to farm products processed in India.
- The certification mark guarantees that an organic food product adheres to the National Standards for Organic Products.
- The certification is issued by testing centres accredited by the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) under the National Program for Organic Production of the Government of India.
- It assures that the product or the raw materials used in the product, were grown through organic farming, without using any chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or induced hormones.
- This mark is issued by the BIS to those products which conform to a set of standards aimed at causing the least impact on the ecosystem.
The Non-Polluting Vehicle Mark
- The Non-Polluting Vehicle mark is a mandatory certification mark required on all new motor vehicles sold in India.
- The mark certifies that the motor vehicle conforms to the relevant version of the Bharat Stage emission standards.
- But then the validity of this mark is only valid for six months and after that, a fresh check is needed.
2. Regulation, not prohibition
The online skill gaming industry hopes that a reform-oriented policy structure will soon be in place
The Karnataka High Court’s verdict on February 14 declaring as unconstitutional certain provisions of the Karnataka Police (Amendment) Act, 2021, which prohibited and criminalised the offering and playing of online games, is the third significant judicial validation for the sector in the last seven months. This decision comes close on the heels of verdicts by the Madras and Kerala High Courts. All three High Courts have reaffirmed the Supreme Court jurisprudence that games of skill and games of chance (gambling) are two distinct legal concepts of constitutional significance, and that the former are legitimate business activities protected under our fundamental rights.
Bans despite precedents
The Stare Decisis goes back to the famous Chamarbaugwala cases (The State Of Bombay v. R.M.D. Chamarbaugwala and R.M.D. Chamarbaugwalla v. The Union Of India), wherein the apex court held that in any game, if the element of skill is dominant over the element of chance (a yardstick known as the preponderance test), it is a game of skill and cannot be construed as gambling. Over the years, using this standard, the Supreme Court and various High Courts have held several games including rummy, fantasy sports, bridge, chess and horse racing to be games of skill. This position is also reflected in the Gambling Acts of most State governments, which often state: ‘Nothing in this act shall apply to any game of mere skill’.
However, a few years ago, southern States started banning any game played for stakes, without making a distinction between games of skill and games of chance. Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and more recently Karnataka came with their respective embargoes. These decisions were appealed against, and the High Courts in the latter three States set aside the ban decisions as unconstitutional. The matters are sub judice in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
Despite clear precedents of the Supreme Court and the various High Courts, why did these State governments issue these bans? One persistent argument is that the Chamarbaugwala cases, which go back to the 1950s, are outdated now; that technology has progressed significantly and most games are played online. The Madras and Kerala High Courts have held that games of skill do not metamorphise into games of chance if played online. The Karnataka High Court has gone a step further and held that it is fallacious to argue that Chamarbaugwala jurisprudence needs a relook, because it has been reaffirmed by a series of Supreme Court and High Court decisions since then.
The courts have also held that the government’s argument that exposure to games of skill is leading to certain social evils such as addiction and financial distress is only anecdotal. It is pertinent that the courts have objected to the total ban of the sector and have left it to the governments to effectively regulate it. The online skill gaming industry too has urged the respective State governments to regulate the sector and come out with a policy structure that is based on checks and balances. A blanket ban is not only arbitrary, but also leads to untoward situations such as proliferation of illegal syndicates.
Reform-oriented policy structure
With the judicial validation, as well as Central government in the Union Budget announcing that an Animation, Visual Effect, Gaming and Comics promotion task force will be set up, it is important that the State governments work towards introducing a reform-oriented policy structure in this sunrise sector which has immense investment, revenue-generating potential, and creates employment. The sector currently employs 40,000 people. Gaming also has multiplier benefits to several sectors that have been identified as focus areas by the Government of India, including semiconductors, telecom, fintech and animation/graphics.
Another positive economic dimension is that the sector has received massive foreign investment. In the last five years, the online gaming sector has received around $1,700 million in venture capital and private equity. Global investors feel confident about the sector not only because of India’s favourable macro-economic and demographic indicators, but also because of unequivocal jurisprudence that differentiates games of skill from gambling. An attempt by some State governments to sidestep or ignore the judicial decisions may not only be impractical, but may also send a poor message to the international investor community about governments in India not respecting the sanctity of the judiciary. Having repeatedly won judicial validation, the online skill gaming industry and its investors hope that situation this time is different, and the sector and government can work together to create a policy structure based on principles of light touch regulation and not prohibition.
3. India sends first batch of aid to Afghanistan
It marks an end to months of bureaucratic wrangling between Islamabad and New Delhi
Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla flagged off a convoy of 50 trucks carrying 2500 tonnes of wheat as humanitarian aid for Afghanistan at the India-Pakistan integrated checkpost (ICP) on Tuesday, the first of about 1,000 truckloads which will head for Jalalabad over the next few weeks.
The wheat is expected to be sent across Afghanistan to help people deal with the crisis caused by food shortage and an economic collapse after the Taliban takeover of Kabul.
The assistance was made “in response to appeals made by the United Nations for humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan”, the Ministry of External Affairs said.
Traders and truckers in Amritsar also welcomed the trans-shipment, which is taking place after being suspended for nearly three years, and expressed the hope that the opening for Afghan aid would also lead to a reopening of India and Pakistan trade, whose closure has caused massive economic losses in the border town.
“The wheat assistance will be delivered in multiple consignments and will be handed over to the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) in Jalalabad, Afghanistan,” an MEA statement said
World Food Program Country Director Bishaw Parajuli, who had helped complete the negotiations with India, and Afghan Ambassador Farid Mamundzay were also present at the ceremony. According to officials, the wheat, procured by the Food Corporation of India (FCI), has been specially “double bagged” to protect it from contamination along the 500-km journey from Attari to Jalalabad, and then to other centres for distribution.
The wheat shipment, which was packed in special bags stamped “Gift from the people of India to the people of Afghanistan”, marks an end to months of bureaucratic wrangles between New Delhi and Islamabad. The consignment had been originally offered to the Taliban leadership in October 2021, but was held up due to objections from Pakistan.
Once Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan announced he would allow the trans-shipment as an “exception”, and other permissions were secured from Islamabad, it was further delayed by Punjab election, and trucks from Afghanistan finally came to Attari on Monday to be loaded, a day after Punjab polling. Afghan trucks will ply the route, not Indian trucks, as per the Pakistani stipulations, and the drivers are given permits instead of visas by India.
4. Russia faces sanctions after Putin move
U.S. terms Russia’s troops deployment in eastern Ukraine ‘invasion’; West to announce new sanctions
Russia faced the prospect of harsh new Western sanctions on Tuesday after President Vladimir Putin recognised two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine and ordered the deployment of troops there, deepening Western fears of a major war in Europe.
Ukraine said two soldiers had been killed and 12 wounded in shelling by pro-Russian separatists in the east in the past 24 hours, and reported new hostilities on Tuesday morning.
A military convoy of more than 100 trucks with soldiers was seen heading in the direction of the Ukrainian border in Russia’s Belgorod region, a witness told Reuters on Tuesday. Western leaders are trying to work out what Mr. Putin will do next, and whether Russia plans a full-scale invasion of Ukraine after massing troops near the borders and demanding a redrawing of security arrangements in Europe.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said his country may break off diplomatic relations with Moscow.
Russia’s Parliament ratified treaties with the two separatist regions on Tuesday. It also approved deployment of armed forces abroad for what it described as a “peacekeeping mission” in the breakaway regions. The developments pushed oil prices to a seven-year high.
Mr. Putin’s announcement on Monday, and his signing of a decree on the deployment of Russian troops to “keep peace” in the two breakaway regions, drew international condemnation.
U.S. President Joe Biden signed an executive order to halt U.S. business activity in the breakaway regions.
The White House began referring to Russian troop deployments in eastern Ukraine as an “invasion” after initially hesitating to use the term — a red line that President Joe Biden has said would result in the U.S. levying severe sanctions against Moscow. Britain on Tuesday imposed sanctions against five banks and three individuals — Gennady Timchenko and two other billionaires with close links to Mr. Putin.
The EU agreed to impose new sanctions that will blacklist more politicians, lawmakers and officials, ban EU investors from trading in Russian State bonds, and target imports and exports with separatist entities.
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, said the description of the Russian troops as peacekeepers was “nonsense”.
“We can, will and must stand united in our calls for Russia to withdraw its forces, return to the diplomatic table and work toward peace,” she told reporters after an emergency meeting of the White House Security Council late on Monday
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov brushed off the threat of sanctions, saying the West would impose them regardless of events.
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