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06 Aug, 2021

67 Min Read

Rashtriya Mahila Kosh to be discontinued

GS-I : Social issues Women

Rashtriya Mahila Kosh to be discontinued

  • The Government had set up Rashtriya Mahila Kosh (RMK). It was established in 1993 as a national-level autonomous body for socio-economic empowerment of women, especially those in the rural and unorganized sector, by providing them concessional, collateral free micro-credit.
  • The operating model followed by RMK has been of extending loans to Intermediary Micro-Finance Organizations (IMOs) which further on lend for entrepreneurial activities of women.
  • However, as per recommendations in the report on ‘Rationalisation of Government Bodies’, prepared by the Principal Economic Adviser to the Government of India in November 2020, the Government has decided to close down RMK as it has lost its relevance and utility in the present scenario with substantial alternative credit facilities becoming available to women through various government initiatives and efforts such as Jan Dhan Yojana, PM Mudra Yojana etc and also to avoid duplicity of efforts.

The detailed objectives for setting up the Rashtriya Mahila Kosh (RMK) have been

  • To promote or undertake activities for the promotion of or to provide credit as an instrument of socio-economic change and development through the provision of a package of financial and social development services for the development of women.
  • To promote and support schemes for the improvement of facilities for credit for women :

  1. for the sustenance of their existing employment,
  2. for generation of further employment,
  3. for asset creation,
  4. for asset redemption and
  5. for tiding over consumption, social and contingent needs;
  • To demonstrate and replicate participatory approaches in the organization of women’s groups for effective utilization of credit resources leading to self-reliance;
  • To promote and support experiments in the voluntary and formal sector using innovative methodologies to reach poor women with credit and other social services;
  • To sensitize existing government delivery mechanisms and increase the visibility of poor women as a vital clientele with the conventional institutions;
  • To promote research, study, documentation and analysis, including provision of fellowships and scholarships, of credit and its management and of successful experiences at various levels in order to promote replication and dissemination of successful credit extension and management methodologies;
  • To promote the federation and networking of women’s organisations for shaping & exchange of experience and information and to develop skills in response management & social mobilization;
  • To promote and support the expansion of entrepreneurship skills among women;
  • To cooperate with and secure the cooperation of the Central Government, State Governments and Union Territory Administration, credit institutions, industrial and commercial organisations and non-government, voluntary and other organisations and bodies in promoting the objects of the Kosh;
  • To accept subscriptions, grants, contributions, donations, loans, guarantees, gifts, bequests etc. on such terms and obligations not inconsistent with the aims and objects of the Kosh; and
  • To do all such lawful acts and things as may be necessary or conductive for furthering the objects of the Kosh.
  • There shall be no discrimination on the ground of religion, community, caste or class, creed or race in carrying out the aims and objects of the Kosh.

Source: PIB

MPLAD Scheme: Critical Analysis

GS-II : Governance MPLAD

MPLAD Scheme: Critical Analysis

  • Virtually half of the belated 2,200 crores allotted for completing the ongoing MPLADS projects in 2020-21 simply lapsed, as the Finance Ministry granted “barely a week” to the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI) to release the funds — inviting the ire of the Standing Committee on Finance.
  • The resultant funding crunch would have hit several local area development projects under implementation across the country, especially in the five States that went to polls this year as no funds were released for these States and constituencies citing the model code of conduct (MCC).
  • Spending under the Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) had already halved before the government suspended the scheme for two years in April last year and diverted the funds for managing the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • From 5,012 crore spent during 2018-19, an expenditure of just 2,491.45 crores were taken up under the scheme in 2019-20.

Unfinished projects

  • Each MP has been granted 5 crores under the scheme, adding up to 3,950 crores a year for 790 MPs, to undertake development projects in their respective constituencies. After the scheme’s suspension, several MPs and parliamentary committees, including the Standing Committee on Finance (SCF), had asked the government to release MPLADS funds due from previous years for projects already sanctioned.
  • On March 16 this year, an SCF report on the Statistics Ministry’s demands for grants pointed out that many MPLADS projects that began earlier were “left unfinished midway despite the sanction letters being issued and funds for the same were withheld”, citing the suspension of the scheme. The panel had sought the release of funds for these projects so that MPs could fulfil their promises to the public.

Condition attached

  • The very same day, the Department of Expenditure (DoE) conveyed its intent to allot 2,200 crores for such projects to the Statistics Ministry.
  • However, the actual allotment of funds by the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) took place on March 22, with the condition that the funds must be spent or allotted further for eligible projects “within the financial year 2020-21 itself so that the amount does not lapse”.
  • The Statistics Ministry said it cleared eligible proposals received till March 31 at noon, amounting to 1,107.5 crores, leading to a balance ? of 1,092.5 crore lapsing.
  • In a fresh report tabled in Parliament on Tuesday, the SCF headed by BJP MP Jayant Sinha sharply criticised this “ad-hocism” and noted: “The Committee are unable to comprehend the reason as to why ?2,200 crore were allotted to MoSPI barely one week before the end of FY 2020-21… This constitutes a serious lapse in fiscal management with negative consequences for communities across India.”
  • “Only those proposals which were not found eligible due to lack of documents and non-fulfilment of eligibility criteria as per MPLADS guidelines, and in those districts where the model code of conduct was under implementation due to Assembly elections in five States/UT and by-elections in some constituencies, the Ministry was not able to release pending instalments,” MoSPI informed the committee.
  • The Statistics Ministry said it wrote to the Finance Ministry on April 7 to allot the remaining funds towards MPLADS this year so that the pending instalments as on March 31, 2020 may be released.

‘Tighten norms’

  • The Finance Ministry also asked the Statistics Ministry to further tighten the scheme’s guidelines by September this year, so that “if a work sanctioned by an MP is not used for five years, it will automatically lapse even if there is a committed liability for the work to be completed”.
  • Currently, funds released to district authorities under MPLADS is not lapsable, while funds not released by the government in a particular year are carried forward.

Source: TH

Air Quality Commission Bill for NCR Delhi cleared

GS-III : Biodiversity & Environment Air Pollution

Air Quality Commission Bill for NCR Delhi cleared

To read complete news on Air Pollution in Delhi: click here

  • The Lok Sabha passed the Bill to formalise the Commission for Air Quality Management For National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas.
  • The body has a full time chairperson and a range of members consisting of both representatives from several Ministries as well as independent experts and will have the final say on evolving policy and issuing directions to address air pollution in Delhi and the adjoining regions.
  • The Centre, facing flak earlier this year from farmers protesting the farm laws, had committed to removing a clause in the Air Commission Bill that would penalise farmers for burning stubble, an important contributor to noxious air quality. The text of the Bill does away with this clause.
  • The body first came into being in October, 2020 on the back of an ordinance — a temporary measure — and the law requires that a formal Bill be presented to Parliament within six weeks of it reconvening — in this case — January 29 when the Budget Session began. Before a Bill is tabled in Parliament, it needs to be approved by the Union Cabinet. However, in spite of several Cabinet meetings since January, it wasn’t taken up for discussion due to which, the tenure of the body expired, without ever making it to Parliament.
  • As The Hindu had reported in March, members who were part of the Commission said they were taken aback by the sudden dissolution of the body. The dissolution happened despite the nodal Union Environment Ministry submitting the paper work to the Union Cabinet Secretariat, required to give legal backing to the Commission. The Commission was revived on April 13 after another ordinance was promulgated by the President.
  • The Centre had said the new organisation would be a ‘permanent’ body to address pollution in the National Capital Region Delhi and address sources of pollution in Delhi, Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. The all-powerful body assumed several powers to coordinate action among States, levy fines — ranging up to ?1 crore or five years of prison — to address air pollution.
  • While the Central Pollution Control Board and its State branches have the powers to implement provisions of the Environment Protection Act for air, water and land pollution, in case of dispute or a clash of jurisdictions, the Commission’s writ would prevail specific to matters concerning air pollution.

Source: TH

Grants for Urban Local Bodies

GS-II : Governance Decentralized governance

Grants for Urban Local Bodies

  • The Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance has released an amount of Rs. 685.80 crores to 4 States for providing grants to the Urban Local Bodies (ULBs). Out of this, an amount of Rs.494 crore has been released to Uttar Pradesh, Rs.110.20 crore to Gujarat, Rs. 74.80 crore to Jharkhand and Rs.6.80 crore to Mizoram.
  • Grants for Urban Local Bodies have been released as per the recommendations of the 15th Finance Commission.
  • They are aimed at improving basic civic services including fulfilling location-specific felt needs. These grants are intended for smaller (Non-Million Plus) cities including cantonment Boards.
  • The 15th Finance Commission has divided the urban local bodies into two categories:
  1. Million-Plus urban agglomerations/cities (excluding Delhi and Srinagar), and
  2. all other cities and towns with less than one million population (Non-Million Plus cities).
  • Out of the 15th Finance Commission recommended grants for Non-Million Plus cities, 50% is basic (untied) and the remaining 50% as tied grant.
  • Basic grants (untied) can be utilised for location specific felt needs except for salary or other establishment expenditure.
  • The tied grants are to be utilized for
  1. Drinking water (including rainwater harvesting and recycling) and
  2. Solid waste management.
  • The grants are meant to ensure provision of additional funds to urban local bodies over and above the funds allocated by the Centre and the State for sanitation and drinking water under the Centrally Sponsored Schemes.
  • The States are required to transfer the grants to the ULBs within 10 working days of receipt from the Union Government. Any delay beyond 10 working days requires the State Governments to release the grants with interest.

Source: PIB

Development of Northeast India

GS-II : Governance Northeast Development

Development of Northeast India

Various Central Sector Schemes/ Centrally Sponsored Schemes are implemented by Central Ministries/Departments under 10% Gross Budgetary Support (GBS).

Besides, the Ministry of Development of the North Eastern Region in coordination with Central Ministries/Departments is focusing on the development of physical and social infrastructure in order to improve connectivity and socio economic development in North Eastern Region.

Some of the new infrastructure schemes/projects approved during the last five years for the development of North Eastern States under the Central Sector Scheme of Government inter-alia include

  • Greenfield Airports: new Greenfield Airport at Holongi, Arunachal Pradesh; Dibrugarh Airport in Assam; Imphal Airport in Manipur; Barapani Airport in Meghalaya;
  • Rail connectivity: New Rail line in Assam such as Sibsagar – Jorhat (62 Km); Salona- Khumtai (99Km); Tezpur- Silghat (25 Km); Mahisasan (India)- Zero Point (Bangladesh) New Line (3 Km); Doubling Rail line in Assam such as Saraighat Bridge doubling line (7 Km); Kamakhya-New Guwahati Quadruppling (21 Km); Doubling of Lumding- Tinsukia Jn-Dibrugarh (381 Km);
  • Connectivity: Bharat Net and Wi-Fi Connectivity for Village Panchayats in North Eastern Region;
  • Development of National Waterway-2 (River Brahmaputra, 891 Km) Sadia to Bangladesh Border and National Waterway-16 (River Barak, 121 Km) Bhanga-Lakhipur Stretch Including Indo-Bangladesh Protocol (IBP) route;
  • Indradhanush Gas Grid Project covering all North Eastern Region States; https://www.aspireias.com/daily-news-analysis-current-affairs/Northeast-Gas-Grid
  • Bio-Refinery Plant, Numaligarh, Assam;
  • AIIMS at Guwahati;
  • North Eastern Region Power System Improvement Project (NERPSIP) in six North Eastern Region States of Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Tripura and Comprehensive Scheme for Strengthening Transmission and Distribution System in Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim.
  • Ministry of DoNER has commissioned the Sector Specific, State-specific holistic development plans in sectors like (a) Bamboo (b) Oil Palm (c) Horticulture (d) Handicrafts and Handlooms.
  • The Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region, through its schemes of Non-Lapsable Central Pool of Resources (NLCPR), schemes of North Eastern Council (NEC), North East Road Sector Development Scheme (NERSDS) has also taken steps to bridge the social and physical infrastructure gaps in North Eastern Region (NER).
  • North Eastern Development Finance Corporation Ltd. (NEDFi) under the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (MDoNER) set up the North East Venture Fund (NEVF) in September 2017, with a view to encouraging entrepreneurs and Start-ups in North Eastern Region. The prime focus of the fund is to act as an enabler to stimulate enterprise building in the North Eastern Region and thereby contributing towards creation of the ecosystem required for nurturing and developing enterprises in the North Eastern Region.

Protection of Culture and Tradition of North-East

  • To protect and promote the rich and diverse traditions and culture of NE Region, the Government of India has set up North East Zone Cultural Centre (NEZCC) at Dimapur and Eastern Zonal Cultural Centre (EZCC) at Kolkata (autonomous organizations under the Ministry of Culture).
  • In addition, there is one autonomous organization namely the Central Institute of Himalayan Culture Studies, Dahung (Arunachal Pradesh) and the following three grantee bodies located in the North Eastern States which are engaged in preserving and promoting folk art and culture of the NE Region:
  • Centre for Buddhist Studies, Tawang Monastery, Arunachal Pradesh;
  • Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, Gangtok; and
  • GRL Monastic School, Bomdila, Arunachal Pradesh.
  • As per North Eastern Council (NEC) General Guidelines 2020, the promotion of the North Eastern Region (NER) is one of the focus sectors under ‘Schemes of NEC’. Projects relating to the art and culture of the region are supported under the scheme. During the last five years, 10 projects costing Rs.36.40 crore and three tribal festivals costing Rs.0.34 crore were sanctioned under the scheme.
  • NEC has been supporting various festivals organised by State Governments of NER and NGOs including state festivals like Sangai Festival (Manipur), Behdienkhlam Festival (Meghalaya), Hornbill Festival (Nagaland) etc. across the region to ensure greater participation of the people from various parts of the country, promote tourism as well as enhance cultural connection with other parts of the country.
  • OCTAVE is a festival of the North East that is organized by all Zonal Cultural Centres to promote a folk culture of the North Eastern States and connect these States with the rest of India.

Source: PIB

Administrative Reforms in India

GS-II : Governance Civil services reforms

Administrative Reforms in India

Administrative reforms are a continuous process and the Government follow the maxim “Minimum Government - Maximum Governance”. Government from time to time brings administrative reforms, to encourage greater efficiency, transparent and corruption-free governance, accountability and reduce scope for discretion.

Some of the major steps are as follows:

  • Launch of “Mission Karmayogi”- National Programme for Civil Services Capacity Building (NPCSCB), a new national architecture for civil services capacity building has been launched. It is a comprehensive reform of the capacity-building apparatus at individual, institutional and process levels for efficient public service delivery;
  • e-Samiksha- A real-time online system for monitoring and follow-up action on the decisions taken by the Government at the Apex level in respect of the implementation of important Government programmes/projects;
  • e-Office Mission Mode Project (MMP) has been strengthened for enabling Ministries/ Departments to switchover to paperless office and efficient decision making;
  • Self-certification of documents for appointments- From June 2016, recruiting agencies to issue provisional appointment letters based on the submission of self-certified documents by the candidates;
  • Discontinuation of interview in the recruitment of junior level posts- From January 2016, the interview has been dispensed with for recruitment to all Group ‘C’, Group ‘B’ (Non-Gazetted posts) and other equivalent posts in all Government of India Ministries/ Departments/ Attached Offices/ Subordinate Offices/ Autonomous Bodies/ Public Sector Undertakings to curb malpractices and for bringing objectivity to the selection process;
  • Appointment at senior positions- Multi-source feedback for empanelment for the posts of Joint Secretary and above has been introduced;
  • Citizen Charters-Government has mandated Citizen Charters for all Ministries/Departments which are updated and reviewed on a regular basis. The Citizen Charters of Central Government Departments are available at the respective web-sites of Ministries/Departments and https://goicharters.nic.in/public/website/home;
  • Intensive review for weeding out inefficient and Officers of doubtful integrity by premature retirement;
  • Use of Integrated Government Online Training Programme for online module based training;
  • Good Governance Index 2019- was launched, which assesses the Status of Governance and impact of various interventions taken up by the State Government and Union Territories (UTs). The objectives of GGI are to provide quantifiable data to compare the state of governance in all States and UTs, enable States and UTs to formulate and implement suitable strategies for improving governance and shift to result-oriented approaches and administration;
  • Comprehensive restructuring of the Scheme for ‘Prime Minister’s Awards for Excellence in Public Administration’ in 2014 and thereafter in 2020;
  • To promote e-Governance in a holistic manner, various policy initiatives and projects have been undertaken to develop core and support infrastructure;
  • National Conference on e-Governance - provides a platform for government to engage with experts, intellectuals from industry and academic institutions to exchange experiences relating to e-Governance initiatives;
  • National e-Governance Service Delivery Assessment - aims at assessing the States, UTs and Central Ministries on the efficiency of e-Governance service delivery;
  • Centralized Public Grievance Redress and Monitoring System (CPGRAMS)-The Government is undertaking CPGRAMS reforms in the top grievance receiving Ministries/ Departments by enabling questionnaire guided registration process and providing for automatic forwarding of grievances to field level functionaries thereby reducing the redress time;
  • Increasing efficiency in decision making in Central Secretariat by reducing the channel of submission to 4, adoption of e-Office version 7.0, digitization of central registration units, greater delegation of virtual private networks under the Central Secretariat Manual of Office Procedure 2019, and adoption of desk officer system.

Source: PIB

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