18 April, 2020
67 Min Read
|GS-II||Centre releases 7,300crore rupees to states and UTs under MGNREGA||Governance|
|WHO welcomes joint effort with India to fight CoVID -19|
|Forest Rights Act, 2006|
|GS-III||RBI to infuse Rs 1 lakh crore – LTRO – RBI Reforms||Economic Issues|
|INDIAN scientists have developed low cost diagnostic kit for COVID -29|
|Earth Day and Earth Hour|
|Agriculture labour problems and solutions|
|PT Pointer||Indian railway creates history||Governance|
|Government dismiss false news alarm that UPSC exams have been cancelled due to COVID -19||Governance|
|Pool testing of corona virus|
|Ways and Means Advances (WMA)||Economic Issues|
|Special Drawing Rights: IMF||Economic Issues|
|Important GS Topics||Analysis of farm loan waiver||Economic Issues|
Centre releases 7,300crore rupees to states and UTs under MGNREGA
Rural Development Minister conducted a detailed review of all flagship schemes of the Rural Development. He desired that MGNREGS works in Non-Containment Areas with adequate focus on social distancing, must be resumed in an efficient manner. The Minister said, the focus should be on creating durable assets relating to irrigation and water conservation.
Minister expressed satisfaction that over 93 thousand Self Help Group members are engaged in manufacturing of cotton protective face covers as well as sanitizers and are also running community kitchens across the country.
Under Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana (Gramin), over 800 crore rupees has been released to the States. He advised that around 40 lakh beneficiaries of this scheme who have received second and third instalment of funds must be assisted in a proactive manner to quickly complete their housing units.
In 1991, the P.V Narashima Rao government proposed a pilot scheme for generating employment in rural areas with the following goals:
This scheme was called the Employment Assurance Scheme which later evolved into the MGNREGA after the merger with the Food for Work Programme in the early 2000s.
Objectives of MGNREGA:
The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) has the following objectives:
MGNREGA differentiates itself from earlier welfare schemes by taking a grassroots-driven approach to employment generation. The programmes under the act are demand driven and provide legal provisions for appeal in case, work is not provided or payments are delayed. The scheme is funded by the central government which bears the full cost of unskilled labour and 75% of the cost of material for works undertaken under this law. The central and state governments audit the works undertaken under this act through annual reports prepared by CEGC (Central Employment Guarantee Council) and the SEGC (State Employment Guarantee Councils). These reports have to be presented by the incumbent government in the legislature.
A few salient features of the scheme are:
Ever since the scheme was implemented, the number of jobs has increased by 240% in the past 10 years. The scheme has been successful in enhancing economic empowerment in rural India and helping overcome the exploitation of labour. The scheme has also diminished wage volatility and the gender pay gap in labour.
WHO welcomes joint effort with India to fight CoVID -19
The WHO has said it will work with India's Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to leverage the strategies that helped the country eradicate polio to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a tweet, WHO Chief said, WHO's national polio surveillance network will be engaged to strengthen COVID-19 surveillance and its field staff will continue to support immunization and elimination of tuberculosis and other diseases.
The combined meticulous work, done with full sincerity and dedication, India was able to get rid of polio.” India eliminated polio in 2014.
World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations’ specialized agency for Health was founded in 1948.
It began functioning on April 7, 1948 – a date now being celebrated every year as World Health Day.
Recent judgement and Forest Rights Act, 2006
Part of: GS-II- Forest Right Act – Tribal Rights (PT-MAINS-PERSONALITY TEST)
Recently Supreme Court asked states to free tracts of forest land in possession of people whose claims have been rejected under the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006. The judgement has triggered protests from forest rights groups, who contended that wildlife conservation cannot overcome natural justice goals.
Preface: In the colonial era, the British diverted abundant forest wealth of the nation to meet their economic needs. While procedure for settlement of rights was provided under statutes such as the Indian Forest Act, 1927, these were hardly followed. As a result, tribal and forest-dwelling communities, who had been living within the forests in harmony with the environment and the ecosystem, continued to live inside the forests in tenurial insecurity, a situation which continued even after independence as they were marginalised. The symbiotic relationship between forests and forest-dwelling communities found recognition in the National Forest Policy, 1988. The policy called for the need to associate tribal people in the protection, regeneration and development of forests. The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, was enacted to protect the marginalised socio-economic class of citizens and balance the right to environment with their right to life and livelihood.
What did the order say?
On February 13, the Supreme Court ordered the eviction of lakhs belonging to the Scheduled Tribes (STs) and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (OTFDs) categories across 16 States, whose claim as forest-dwellers has been rejected under the Forest Rights Act. A Bench of Justices Arun Mishra, Navin Sinha and Indira Banerjee ordered the Chief Secretaries of many of these States to evict those whose claims were finally rejected. The court directed that the eviction be carried out by July 24, 2019.
The Bench, in a 19-page order, cautioned the States that if the evictions were not carried out within the stipulated time, “the matter would be viewed seriously.” The Chief Secretaries of the States were asked to file affidavits by July 12, explaining why the rejected claimants had not been evicted. It ordered the Forest Survey of India (FSI) to make a satellite survey and place on record the “encroachment positions.”
What is the problem?
The February 13 order is based on affidavits filed by the States. The affidavits, however, do not make clear whether the due process of law was observed before the claims were rejected. The Centre argues that the rejection of claims is particularly high in the States hit by Left-Wing Extremism, where tribal population is high. The forest land claims of these tribes and forest-dwellers are mostly rejected by the States. Being poor and illiterate, living in remote areas, they do not know the appropriate procedure for filing claims. The gram sabhas, which initiate the verification of their claims, are low on awareness of how to deal with them. The rejection orders are not even communicated to these communities.
Related Acts and Provisions
Features of the Act
Who can claim these Rights? PT SHOT
Jai Hind Jai Bharat
RBI to infuse Rs 1 lakh crore – LTRO – RBI Rreforms
Part of: GS-III- RBI reforms (PT-MAINS-PERSONALITY TEST)
RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das announced new measures to maintain adequate liquidity in system, facilitate bank credit flow and ease financial stress. RBI announced ?50,000 crore worth of targetted LTRO and a cut in reverse repo rate.
As India entered into the second phase of a nationwide lockdown to combat coronavirus, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Shaktikanta Das announced new measures to boost liquidity, expand bank credit flow and ease financial stress. To benefit NBFCs and micro-financial institutions, the central bank said it will conduct targetted long-term repo operations (TLTRO) 2.0 worth ?50,000 crore. After cutting the benchmark lending rate by 75 bps three weeks ago, the RBI today cut the reverse repo rate to 25 basis points to 3.75%. The central bank has also asked all banks to not make any dividend payments to shareholders keeping in mind the financial challenges during the Covid-19 pandemic.
-RBI will monitor evolving situation continuously, use all its tool to deal with pandemic fallout.
-Loans given by NBFCs to real estate companies to get similar benefit as given by scheduled commercial banks.
-LCR requirement of banks brought down to 80% from 100%; to be restored in phases by April next year.
-Inflation is on a declining trajectory, could recede even further.
-Banks shall not make any dividend payments until further orders.
-NPA classification for banks will exclude the moratorium period.
-Economic activities have come to a standstill during lockdown.
- ?50,000 crore special finance facility to be provided to financial institutions such as Nabard, Sidbi, NHB.
-No change in repo rate which is decided by MPC.
-Reverse repo rate cut by 25 bps to 3.75%.
-New measures aimed at maintaining adequate liquidity in system, facilitate bank credit flow, ease financial stress.
-TLTRO 2.0 operations of ?50,000 crore will be conducted.
-To maintain adequate liquidity in the system, we have decided to take additional measures.
-Redemption pressures faced by some mutual funds have moderated.
-Automobile production, sales declined sharply in March; electricity demand has fallen sharply.
-Covid-19 impact is not captured in IIP data for Feb.
-ATM operations stood at 91%, no downtime on internet and mobile banking.
-India is expected to post sharp turnaround in 2021-22, says RBI Governor quoting IMF projection. IMF projection of 1.9% GDP growth for India is highest in G20.
-Banks, financial institutions have risen to occasion to ensure normal functioning during outbreak of pandemic.
-RBI governor cites developments that bode well for rural demand.
-Financial market situation has deteriorated in some areas.
-Rupee rises 29 paise to 76.58 against US dollar in early trade.
-Sensex rose over 1,000 points before RBI's announcement.
1. Long-term Repo Operations
Objectives of LTRO
2. Monetary Policy Committee
3. About RBI
1. Monetary Authority:
An amendment to RBI Act, 1934, was made in May 2016, providing the statutory basis for the implementation of the flexible inflation targeting framework.
Section 45ZB of the amended RBI Act, 1934, also provides for an empowered six-member Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) to be constituted by the Central Government by notification in the Official Gazette
Monetary Policy Committee
Current inflation target is pegged at 4% with -2/+2 tolerance till March 31, 2021.
2. Regulator and Supervisor of the Financial System:
3. Manager of Foreign Exchange:
4. Issuer of Currency:
5. Developmental Role:
6. Financial Inclusion:
7. Related Functions:
Independence of RBI
RBI’s Important Publication (half yearly)
4. ‘Operation Twist’
The Reserve Bank of India has announced that it will carry out US-style 'Operation Twist' to bring down interest rates.
Open Market Operations
Source: ToI/Live Mint/RBI
INDIAN scientists have developed low cost diagnostic kit for COVID -29
Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology in Thiruvananthapuram, under the Department of Science and Technology, has developed an innovative diagnostic test kit named, Chitra Gene LAMP-N for the diagnosis of COVID-19.
This detects the N-Gene of virus using reverse tranase loop-mediated amplification of viral nucleic acid or RT-LAMP technique. This new kit is considered as one of the first few confirmatory diagnostic test for N-gene of COVID-19 virus using the RT-LAMP technique in the world.
The test is highly specific that it can detect two regions of the gene which will ensure that the test does not fail even if one region of the viral gene undergoes mutation during its current spread. Another major advantage of the new test kit is that it very fast. According to the institute, the detection time is only 10 minutes and the sample to result time will be less than two hours.
At least 30 samples can be tested in a single batch in a single machine. The institute has also developed the specific RNA extraction kits along with Gene LAMP-N test kits and the testing device. Another advantage is that it is much cheaper. The device presently used for detection of COVID-19 costs nearly 15 to 45 lakh rupees whereas the new test device amounts to only 2.5 lakh rupees and the test kit of the presently used PCR kit, costs around 2,500 rupees per test, whereas the newly developed test kit costs only 1,000 rupees per test.
National Institute of Virology, Alappuzha had found that the new technique is giving cent per cent accurate result and now the ICMR approval for the same is awaited. Once the ICMR approval comes, this could a major step in our fight against COVID-19 in the country, creating our own faster, cheaper and accurate detection of virus.
Earth Day and Earth Hour
Part of: GS-III- Environment (PT-MAINS-PERSONALITY TEST)
Earth Day is an annual event, celebrated on April 22.
Earth Day Network
The Earth Hour was observed on 28th March, 2020.
Points to remember
Agriculture labourer problems and solutions
Part of: GS-III- Economy-Labour (PT-MAINS-PERSONALITY TEST)
Problems of Agriculture Labour:
Measures taken by Government:
Indian railway creates history
Indian Railways has created history as its 88 coach freight train Annapurna carrying foodgrains covered 1,634 kilometres in less than 50 hours. Eighty eight coach Annapurna Freight Train travelled from Dhandharikalan in Punjab to New Jalpaiguri in West Bengal in 49 hours 50 minutes. The distance of 1,634 kilometres used to take 96 to 100 hours. The freight train has promptly transported food to ten needy states. This is for the first time Railways has transported foodgrains in such a large scale. It is 137 per cent more than last year.
Government dismiss false news alarm that UPSC exams have been cancelled due to COVID -19
Union Government has dismissed as false reports in a regional news channel that examinations held by UPSC have been cancelled in the wake of COVID-19.
In a tweet, Press Information Bureau clarified that the claim is false. It said, any rescheduling of UPSC examination if necessary, will be notified on the Commission's website
Watch this for UPSC PT 2020: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wfd6v9PSYZs
Pool testing of corona virus
Uttar Pradesh has become the first state in the country to start pool testing of corona virus samples. The move is aimed at speeding up the screening process and also brings down the cost of testing samples. State health department has also decided to carry out the audit of any death in state due to COVID-19. The death audit will help in providing better treatment to other COVID-19 patients. The Pool testing of corona samples started yesterday and 150 samples were divided into 30 pools of 5 each samples.
In the pool testing method, multiple swab samples are pooled together and tested. If the result of a collection of samples comes negative, then that means all the samples in that group are negative. However, if the result of one collection is found positive, then each of those samples is tested individually. Pool testing of a collection of samples is done during large outbreaks and invisible community transmission to fasten the screening process and bring down the cost.
Ways and Means Advances (WMA)
The WMA are short-term loan facilities which allow the Centre and states to borrow funds from the RBI to bridge their temporary mismatch between expenditure and receipts.
The interest rate on WMA is the RBI’s repo rate. Repo rate is basically the rate at which RBI lends short-term money to banks. The WMA loans have a three-month tenure. States are allowed an overdraft facility (to borrow in excess of WMA limit) of 21 days.
Special Drawing Rights: IMF
Recently, the Finance Minister of India opposed a general allocation of new Special Drawing Rights (SDR) by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) because it might not be effective in easing Covid-19 driven financial pressures.
Farm Loan Waiver
When there is a poor monsoon or natural calamity, farmers may be unable to repay loans. The rural distress in such situations often prompts States or the Centre to offer relief,reduction or complete waiver of loans. Essentially, the Centre or States take over the liability of farmers and repay the banks. Waivers are usually selective , only certain loan types, categories of farmers or loan sources may qualify.
For instance, in 2008, crop loans and investment loans were waived for marginal and small farmers (those with less than 2 hectares of land ownership); other farmers were only given a 25 per cent reduction.
Importance of Farm Loan waiver
In Favour of loan waiver:
Against Farm Loan Waiver
While loan waiver schemes are like a band-aid on a wound, it is the larger agrarian distress that demands urgent policy attention.
Unless there are steps ‘to raise productivity, reduce costs of cultivation by providing quality inputs at subsidised rates, provide remunerative prices following the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission, ensure assured procurement of output, expand access to institutional credit, enhance public investment for infrastructural development, institute effective crop insurance systems and establish affordably scientific storage facilities and agro-processing industries for value addition’, farmers will continue to be bonded to low-income equilibrium and repeated debt traps.
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