Citizens' Issues
Maggi noodles safe in Goa: FDA
Maggi noodles are safe for consumption in Goa, a senior Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) official said on Wednesday.
 
FDA deputy director Jyoti Sardesai told reporters in Panaji that tests conducted on Maggi products, both at the local production unit and retail stores, showed that monosodium glutamate (MSG) and lead levels were within accepted limits. 
 
"Both MSG (monosodium glutamate) and lead levels were within limits when we conducted the tests," she said.
 
She said that following the nationwide controversy over consumption of Maggi noodles, the department had conducted a series of tests, which did not show violation of food laws.
 
She also said that Maggi noodle samples were drawn from the Nestle manufacturing unit at Bicholim sub-district in North Goa as well as from five randomly chosen retail stores for the tests.
 

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India needs umbrella for social security schemes: Official
India needs to have an umbrella for social security schemes to check duplication of benefits for some beneficiaries while a section of people is left out of it, an official in the central labour and employment ministry said.
 
"Even today we do not have a social security umbrella. There are a lot of social security programmes run by the state government as well as the Centre but all of these are under different schemes," the official said.
 
Additional central provident fund commissioner for West Bengal, North-East and Jharkhand under the central labour and employment ministry, V. Vijaya Kumar, was speaking to the media here on the sidelines of an event organised by the Indian Chamber of Commerce.
 
Kumar said while the central and state governments come up with social security schemes, there is a duplication in this process as a section of people enjoy benefits from both the state as well as the Centre while another section of people is deprived of it.
 
"An umbrella will remove duplication of schemes," he said.
 
Kumar said while foreign countries have an umbrella for the employee benefit programmes, it is absent in India.
 
"During our first deliberations with the US over social security negotiations, the first question they (US) asked was over the presence of an universal social security," he said.
 
The official said social security schemes for the unorganised sector are on the top of the agenda of the Centre and sources of funds have already been identified to roll out such schemes.
 
According to the labour ministry official, the central government is also spending alike the states on the social sector and an umbrella will ensure smoother and efficient implementation of the schemes.
 
"Comparing the budgets of states and the centre, we (the Centre) are also spending an equal amount if not more for social security", he said.

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60 lakh UANs activated from 4.17 crore active PF users: Official
Citing a lukewarm response from companies in implementing Universal Account Number (UAN), the union labour ministry has said that only 60 lakh UANs have been activated so far from an active base of 4.17 crore provident fund subscribers.
 
Making it mandatory for the conversion of existing Provident Fund accounts into UANs was under consideration of the authorities, said V. Vijaya Kumar, an additional central provident fund commissioner for West Bengal, North-East and Jharkhand.
 
"I find that the employers are lethargic in converting their employees' provident fund (PF) accounts into UAN," he said.
 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had in October 2014 launched UAN for provident fund subscribers, which would enable them to link their PF accounts to this number. This would, in turn, ensure easier portability and ease in transfer of money directly to employees' bank accounts.
 
"The situation is particularly of concern in eastern India, where the conversion is low. In Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Bengaluru and other prominent cities, where corporate culture is well rooted, the response has been good," he said while talking to reporters on the sidelines of an event organised by Indian Chamber of Commerce here.
 
Only 1.75 lakh of the 35 lakh active provident fund users in West Bengal had opted for UAN till now, the official added.
 
He said that the Employees' Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) had been conducting several programmes to spread awareness about UAN and address concerns raised by employers.
 
Asked if the centre was considering signing more social security agreements with foreign countries, Vijay Kumar said, "Talks are on with another 22-23 countries, mostly in Europe, to conclude such agreements."
 
According to data from ministry of overseas Indian affairs, India has signed social security agreements with 18 countries, mostly in Europe. However, only eight of them have been implemented so far.

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