* Part 1

The Centre on Monday accepted the recommendation of the Central Board of Trustees (CBT) of the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) to increase the interest rate of deposits in Provident Fund (PF) to 8.15%. The new rate will be applicable for last financial year.

The CBT had recommended an increase to 8.15% from 8.10% interest to the deposits on March 28, 2023. The Labour Ministry had forwarded the CBT’s recommendation for the Union Finance Ministry’s approval.

The EPFO, through an official order, has instructed its field offices to credit the interest into the accounts of members.

In the last financial year, trade unions had complained of delay in crediting the interest into the accounts of employees. The EPFO had cited technical reasons for the delay. The unions had also complained that the rate of 8.10% was the lowest in recent past and had demanded an increase. In 2020-21, the rate was 8.5%.

Israel’s hard-right government on Monday pushed through Parliament a key clause of its controversial judicial reform package despite months of mass protests and concerns voiced by foreign allies.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his coalition allies approved the Bill in a Knesset vote boycotted by Opposition lawmakers.

Critics charge the judicial revamp will undermine Israel’s liberal democracy by removing checks and balances on the executive, while the government argues it needs to curb judicial overreach.

The Bill, passed with 64 votes in the 120-seat chamber, aims to limit the powers of the Supreme Court in striking down government decisions which the judges deem “unreasonable”. The reform package has triggered one of the biggest protest movements in Israel’s history since it was unveiled by the government in January.

The Bill was passed hours after Mr. Netanyahu, 73, returned to the Knesset — only a day after undergoing a surgery to have a pacemaker fitted — as police outside the legislature used water cannon and mounted officers were deployed against protesters.

President Isaac Herzog, who had tried but failed to broker a compromise after half a year of mass street protests, earlier warned that Israel faced a “national emergency”. Opposition leader Yair Lapid said the country was “heading towards a disaster”.

Assembly passes Bill; after becoming an Act, this will be the first legislation in the country outlining welfare measures for platform-based workers

The Rajasthan Assembly on Monday passed a Bill extending social security to gig workers and creating a regulatory framework for aggregators along with the setting up of a welfare board for the unorganised segment not covered under existing labour laws. After becoming an Act, this will be the first legislation in the country outlining welfare measures for platform-based workers.

The Rajasthan Platform Based Gig Workers (Registration and Welfare) Bill, 2023, was passed in the House with a voice vote without any debate amid noisy scenes. There was a rumpus as sacked Minister Rajendra Gudha confronted Parliamentary Affairs Minister Shanti Dhariwal and other Congress MLAs. The Bill was taken up for consideration after an adjournment during Zero Hour.

Through the new legislation, the Congress government in the State intends to establish a welfare board and set up a welfare fund for gig workers, register these workers and aggregators and facilitate the guarantee of social security to them.

The Bill has also made provisions for charging and collection of gig worker welfare fee from the aggregators.

Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot had made an announcement on the Bill during his budget speech earlier this year.

Mr. Gehlot pointed out that while the gig economy was continuously growing in the State and the number of gig workers had increased to nearly 4 lakh, aggregators had not made any arrangements for their social security. Young workers were engaged on contract on per transaction basis, he said.

Amid loud protests by Opposition BJP MLAs following Mr. Gudha’s eviction from the House, the Speaker and the ruling party rushed through four legislations, including the Bill for gig workers. Minister of State for Labour Sukhram Bishnoi first proposed a debate on the Bill in the House and later its passage, when the debate could not take place.

The three other Bills passed amid the din included one on the establishment of Gandhi Vatika Trust for promotion of Gandhian thought and activities and two on the creation of Development Authorities for Udaipur and Kota cities.

In addition to making provisions for welfare measures, the Bill seeks to create an effective dispute resolution mechanism for conflicts between gig workers and platforms. The welfare board, comprising State officials, five representatives each from gig workers and aggregators, and two others, will take up various tasks and ensure action for social security. It will submit an annual report to the State government, which will be tabled in the Assembly.

The Bill mandates charging of a welfare fee for gig workers from the aggregators, which will be a percentage of the value of each transaction. The value of each transaction will not include any tax paid or payable.

Penalties clause

The Bill also allows for penalties. If the aggregator violates any of the clauses, the Bill empowers the State government to impose a fine of up to ₹5 lakh for the first contravention and up to ₹50 lakh for subsequent violations.

The Suchana Evum Rozgar Adhikar Abhiyan, which staged a prolonged dharna in the State capital on public issues recently, welcomed passage of the Bill, saying it would protect the workforce of the new digital economy.

The launch vehicle is configured in its core-alone mode, similar to that of C55; it will launch DS-SAR, a 360 kg satellite into a near-equatorial orbit; the Synthetic Aperture Radar payload in the satellite will provide all-weather day and night coverage

The Indian Space Research Organisation on Monday announced that the PSLV-C56 carrying Singapore’s DS-SAR satellite will be launched on July 30 from Sriharikota.

The PSLV-C56 carrying DS-SAR satellite will be launched along with six other satellites. According to ISRO, the PSLV-C56 is configured in its core-alone mode, similar to that of C55. It would launch DS-SAR, a 360 kg satellite into a near-equatorial orbit at 5 degrees inclination and 535 km altitude. It added that the satellite is developed under a partnership between DSTA (representing the Government of Singapore) and ST Engineering. It will be used to support the satellite imagery requirements of various agencies within the Government of Singapore.

DS-SAR carries a Synthetic Aperture Radar payload developed by Israel Aerospace Industries. This allows the DS-SAR to provide for all-weather day and night coverage and is capable of imaging at 1m resolution at full polarimetry.

The other satellites are VELOX-AM, a 23 kg technology demonstration microsatellite; Atmospheric Coupling and Dynamics Explorer (ARCADE), an experimental satellite; SCOOB-II, a 3U nanosatellite flying a technology demonstrator payload; NuLIoN by NuSpace, an advanced 3U nanosatellite enabling seamless IoT connectivity in both urban and remote locations; Galassia-2, a 3U nanosatellite, which will be orbiting at low earth orbit; and the ORB-12 STRIDER, which is a satellite developed under an International collaboration.

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