30 April, 2020

48 Min Read

Only 30 lakh found MGNREGA - Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act work

Only 30 lakh found MGNREGA - Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act work


Although the Centre gave explicit instructions to reopen its flagship rural jobs scheme from April 20, only 30 lakh people were provided work under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) in April, about 17% of the usual, government data show.

Imp Points

  1. In mid-April, only 1% of the usual number of workers had found employment.
  2. The figures for this April are the lowest in five years, and show an 82% drop from the previous year’s figure of 1.7 crore workers.
  3. Some States had zero workers as on April 29, showing they had not restarted their work sites at all.
  4. Only 1,005 people got work in Haryana, along with 2,014 in Kerala and 6,376 in Gujarat, showing very low rates of employment.
  5. Andhra Pradesh, on the other hand, has provided 10 lakh jobs, though it is still lower than the 25 lakh jobs provided last April.

Why Important

In the light of government failure to provide sufficient work at a time when the loss of livelihoods due to the lockdown and returning migrant workers have increased the need for work in Indian villages, there is a rising demand for compensation wages to be paid to workers instead.

On April 4, activists of the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan had filed a petition in the Supreme Court, asking for full wages to be paid through the lockdown to the scheme’s 7.6 crore active job card-holders. On April 20, an intervention application was filed asking that as an interim measure, unemployment allowance be paid to all who were at work on March 24, when the lockdown was announced. Almost 1.6 crore workers found employment under the scheme in March.

What to do?

“MGNREGA families should be given at least ten days’ wages as free cash for the loss in the month of April,” said economist Reetika Khera, who teaches at the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad. “The government asked the private sector to pay workers. Shouldn’t they lead by example?”

The scheme stipulates that if workers register for work, but are not provided employment, they are eligible to an unemployment allowance amounting to a quarter of their wages in the first month, half in the second, and full wages thereafter.

“An unemployment allowance is the very least that should be paid to these workers,”


The scheme was introduced as a social measure that guarantees “the right to work”. The key tenet of this social measure and labour law is that the local government will have to legally provide at least 100 days of wage employment in rural India to enhance their quality of life.

Key objectives:

  1. Generation of paid rural employment of not less than 100 days for each worker who volunteers for unskilled labour.
  2. Proactively ensuring social inclusion by strengthening livelihood base of rural poor.
  3. Creation of durable assets in rural areas such as wells, ponds, roads and canals.
  4. Reduce urban migration from rural areas.
  5. Create rural infrastructure by using untapped rural labour.

The following are the eligibility criteria for receiving the benefits under MGNREGA scheme:

  1. Must be Citizen of India to seek NREGA benefits.
  2. Job seeker has completed 18 years of age at the time of application.
  3. The applicant must be part of a local household (i.e. application must be made with local Gram Panchayat).
  4. Applicant must volunteer for unskilled labour.

Key facts related to the scheme:

  1. The Ministry of Rural Development (MRD), Govt of India is monitoring the entire implementation of this scheme in association with state governments.
  2. Individual beneficiary oriented works can be taken up on the cards of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, small or marginal farmers or beneficiaries of land reforms or beneficiaries under the Indira Awaas Yojana of the Government of India.
  3. Within 15 days of submitting the application or from the day work is demanded, wage employment will be provided to the applicant.
  4. Right to get unemployment allowance in case employment is not provided within fifteen days of submitting the application or from the date when work is sought.
  5. Social Audit of MGNREGA works is mandatory, which lends to accountability and transparency.
  6. The Gram Sabha is the principal forum for wage seekers to raise their voices and make demands.
  7. It is the Gram Sabha and the Gram Panchayat which approves the shelf of works under MGNREGA and fix their priority.

Role of Gram Sabha:

  1. It determines the order of priority of works in the meetings of the Gram Sabha keeping in view potential of the local area, its needs, local resources.
  2. Monitor the execution of works within the GP.

Roles of Gram Panchayat:

  1. Receiving applications for registration
  2. Verifying registration applications
  3. Registering households
  4. Issuing Job Cards (JCs)
  5. Receiving applications for work
  6. Issuing dated receipts for these applications for work
  7. Allotting work within fifteen days of submitting the application or from the date when work is sought in the case of an advance application.
  8. Identification and planning of works, developing shelf of projects including determination of the order of their priority.

Responsibilities of State Government in MGNREGA:

  1. Frame Rules on matters pertaining to State responsibilities under Section 32 of the Act ii) Develop and notify the Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme for the State.
  2. Set up the State Employment Guarantee Council (SEGC).
  3. Set up a State level MGNREGA implementation agency/ mission with adequate number of high calibre professionals.
  4. Set up a State level MGNREGA social audit agency/directorate with adequate number of people with knowledge on MGNREGA processes and demonstrated commitment to social audit.
  5. Establish and operate a State Employment Guarantee Fund (SEGF).

Source: TH

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GS-II : Governance Policies and Programmes
MHA issued guidelines to allow inter-State movement of stranded migrant workers

MHA issued guidelines to allow inter-State movement of stranded migrant workers


More than a month after the countrywide lockdown owing to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) issued guidelines to allow inter-State movement of stranded migrant workers, tourists, pilgrims, students and others.

Important points

  1. Public transport, including trains and buses, continue to remain suspended and the State governments have been asked to appoint nodal authorities to register such stranded persons and facilitate their movement.
  2. The MHA said such persons should be kept in home quarantine for 14 days unless an assessment by a medical team recommended institutional quarantine.
  3. For individuals who wanted to travel in their private cars, permission should be taken from the State authorities, an official said.
  4. “If someone has to cross multiple States to reach their destination, then the State authority where the travel will originate, will coordinate with the respective State authorities and issue a pass accordingly,” a senior Home Ministry official stated.
  5. The Uttar Pradesh was one of the first States to arrange for the return of stranded migrant workers to return to their homes.

The guidelines issued by the MHA on April 19 asserted that there would be no inter-State movement of labourers. Following U.P., States like Punjab, Odisha, West Bengal and Maharashtra were coordinating inter-State movement of migrant workers. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had requested the Centre to change its guidelines and allow students and workers living outside to return home.

“All States and Union Territories [UTs] have been asked to designate nodal authorities and develop standard protocols for receiving and sending the stranded persons. The authorities shall also register the stranded persons within their States and UTs. In case, a group of stranded persons wish to move between one State to another State, the sending and receiving authorities may consult each other and mutually agree to the movement by road,” the MHA guidelines said.

The moving person would be screened and those found asymptomatic would be allowed to proceed. “Buses shall be used for transport of groups of persons which will be sanitized and shall follow safe social distancing norms in seating.” The States falling on the transit route would allow the movement of such persons.

“On arrival at their destination, they would be assessed by the local health authorities, and kept in home quarantine, unless the assessment requires keeping a person in institutional quarantine. They would be kept under watch with periodic health check-ups. For this purpose, such persons may be encouraged to use Aarogya Setu app through which their health status can be monitored and tracked,” the MHA said.

The country was initially placed under lockdown on March 24 and it was extended till May 3. With all forms of public transport, including railways, suspended and State borders sealed, lakhs of migrant workers in urban areas started walking hundreds of kilometres to reach their homes. On March 28, the MHA asked the States to stop their movement and arrange relief camps.

Note: The first set of guidelines by the MHA were issued on March 24 under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, invoked for the first time in the country in the wake of the pandemic.

Source: TH

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GS-II : International Relations
Dams in China

Dams in China

Part of: GS-II- International relations (PT-MAINS-PERSONALITY TEST)

Recently, a US-funded study has highlighted the possible impact of China’s dams on the Mekong river (known as Lancang river in China) and countries downstream. The study was published by the Sustainable Infrastructure Partnership in Bangkok and the Lower Mekong Initiative. The Lower Mekong Initiative is a US partnership with all the downstream countries of Mekong besides Myanmar. The Mekong flows from China to Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

Important Points

  • Key Findings of the Study
    • It also raised questions on other Chinese dams on rivers which originate in China like Brahmaputra and their similar impact on neighbouring countries like India.
    • China’s southwestern Yunnan province had above-average rainfall from May to October 2019. However, there was severe lack of water in the lower Mekong in 2019 in comparison to 1992, based on satellite data.
    • The Mekong River Commission has emphasised on the need of more scientific evidence to establish whether dams caused a 2019 drought.
      • The Mekong River Commission comprises of Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam,
    • According to the study, six dams built since the commissioning of the Nuozhadu dam in 2012 had altered the natural flow of the river.

China’s Stand

It has called the study groundless and highlighted the drought faced by Yunnan because Lancang only accounts for 13.5% of Mekong’s flows. China has maintained that the dams, it is building, are run of the river dams which store water for power generation.

India’s Stand

According to Indian experts, the study is not conclusive because it only considers the water flowing into the lower basin at one station in Thailand. It did not consider other dams and water-use along the course of the river. The lower basin is not entirely dependent on flows from China, but also receives water from tributaries in all other countries it flows in, which the study did not account for.

India’s Other Concerns

India has been expressing concerns on Brahmaputra since 2015 when China operationalised its first hydropower project at Zangmu. Currently, three other dams at Dagu, Jiexu and Jiacha are being developed.

For India, quantity of water is not an issue because these are run of the river dams and will not impact the Brahmaputra flow.

More importantly, Brahmaputra is not entirely dependent on upstream flows and an estimated 35% of its basin is in India.

However, India is concerned about the Chinese activities affecting the quality of water, ecological balance and the flood management. India and China do not have a water sharing agreement. Both nations share hydrological data so it becomes important to share genuine data and have continuous dialogue on issues like warning of droughts, floods and high water discharges.

Source: TH

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Global Report on Internal Displacement 2020

Global Report on Internal Displacement 2020

Part of: GS-II- World reports (PT-MAINS-PERSONALITY TEST)

The ‘Global Report on Internal Displacement 2020’ revealed that conflict, violence and disasters led to 50.8 million internal displacement across the world at the end of 2019.

  • Internal Displacement refers to the forced movement of people within the country they live in due to conflict, violence, development projects, disasters and climate change.
  • Report is published by Norwegian Refugee Council’s Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC).

Important Highlights

  • Displacement due to conflict
    • All regions are affected by conflict displacement, but it is highly concentrated in a few countries. Of the global total of 45.7 million people displaced due to conflict and violence in 2019, three-quarters or 34.5 million, were in just 10 countries
    • Top Five countries with highest displacement by conflict and violence are: Syria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso and Afghanistan.
  • Displacement related to disasters
    • Nearly 1,900 disasters sparked 24.9 million new displacements across 140 countries and territories in 2019.
      • This is the highest figure recorded since 2012.
      • Out of the 24.9 million displaced due to disasters, 23.9 were weather-related, and “much of this displacement took place in form of pre-emptive evacuations”.
  • Noted efforts to prevent and respond to internal displacement
    • Countries such as Niger and Somalia improved their policy frameworks on internal displacement.
    • Others, including Afghanistan, Iraq and the Philippines, incorporated displacement in their development plans, in their reporting on the Sustainable Development Goals, or when updating risk management strategies in line with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.
    • The combination of official monitoring of disaster displacement in the Philippines with mobile phone tracking data and social media analysis helped improve planning for shelters, reconstruction and long term urban recovery.
    • Improvements in the quantity and quality of data available also enabled better reporting and analysis, which in turn informed more effective responses and risk mitigation measures.

Data Related to India

  • Nearly five million people were displaced in India in 2019
    • It is the highest in the world.
  • Reasons: The displacements were prompted by increased hazard intensity, high population and social and economic vulnerability.
    • Southwest Monsoon: More than 2.6 million people suffered displacement due to the southwest monsoon. 2019 was the seventh warmest year since 1901 and the monsoon was the wettest in 25 years.
    • Cyclones Fani and Bulbul also led to huge displacements.
      • Evacuations save lives, but many evacuees had their displacement prolonged because their homes had been damaged or destroyed.

Over 19,000 conflicts and violence also prompted the phenomenon. Political and electoral violence, especially in Tripura and West Bengal, led to the displacement of more than 7,600 people.

Source: IE

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GS-III : Economic Issues India-USA trade relations
India continues to be on the ‘Priority Watch List’ of the United States Trade Representative (USTR)- Intellectual property (IP) rights

India continues to be on the ‘Priority Watch List’ of the United States Trade Representative (USTR)- Intellectual property (IP) rights


While India made “meaningful progress” to enhance IP protection and enforcement in some areas, it did not resolve recent and long-standing challenges, and created new ones, the United States Trade Representative’s report said.


India continues to be on the ‘Priority Watch List’ of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) for lack of adequate intellectual property (IP) rights protection and enforcement, the USTR said in its Annual Special 301 Report, released.

  1. India remained one of the most challenging economies for IP enforcement and protection, the report said, using language it has used previously.
  2. Algeria, Argentina, Chile, China, Indonesia, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine and Venezuela are also on the Priority Watch List.
  3. While India made “meaningful progress” to enhance IP protection and enforcement in some areas over the past year, it did not resolve recent and long-standing challenges, and created new ones, the report said. The same assessment was made in the 2019 report.
  4. These long-standing concerns were about innovators being able to receive, maintain and enforce patents particularly in the pharmaceutical sector; concerns over copyright laws not incentivising the creation and commercialisation of content; and an outdated trade secrets framework.
  5. “India also further restricted the transparency of information provided on state-issued pharmaceutical manufacturing licenses, continues to apply restrictive patentability criteria to reject pharmaceutical patents, and still has not established an effective system for protecting against the unfair commercial use, as well as the unauthorized disclosure, of undisclosed test or other data generated to obtain marketing approval for pharmaceuticals and certain agricultural chemical products,” the report said.
  6. The report also mentioned high customs duties on medical devices and Information and Communications Technology. These goods categories were have been persistent challenges in trade talks between the two countries last year — the language used in the 2020 report in this context is the same as in the 2019 report.

“Despite India’s justifications of limiting IP protections as a way to promote access to technologies, India maintains extremely high customs duties directed to IP-intensive products such as medical devices, pharmaceuticals, Information and Communications Technology (ICT) products, solar energy equipment, and capital goods,” it said.

Online IP enforcement in India has improved, the report said, but progress is undercut by factors including weak enforcement by courts and the police, lack of familiarity with investigative techniques and no centralised IP enforcement agency. The USTR also noted that India was ranked among the top five source economies for fake goods by the Organization of Economic Development and Cooperation (OECD) in 2019.

Not good for online rights

The government’s 2019 draft Copyright Amendment Rules, if implemented, would have “severe” consequences for Internet-content rights holders, the report said, as the proposed rules broadened the scope of compulsory licensing from radio and television broadcasting to online broadcasting.

Trademark counterfeiting levels were “problematic”, the report said and there were “excessive delays” in obtaining trademarks due to a lack of examination quality. The U.S., the report noted, continues to urge India to join the Singapore Treaty on the Law of Trademarks, a treaty that harmonises trademark registration.

Analyis- Priority watch list (Mains shot)

What is priority watch list?

Priority Watch List” and “Watch List” countries are identified by the annual Special 301 Report. “Priority Watchlist countries” are judged by the USTR as having “serious intellectual property rights deficiencies” that require increased USTR attention. “Watch List” countries have been identified by the USTR as having “serious intellectual property rights deficiencies” but are not yet placed on the “Priority Watchlist”. The USTR can move countries from one list to the other, or remove them from the lists, throughout the year.

Why India is placed under this? (PT SHOT)

Lack of sufficient measurable improvements to its Intellectual Property (IP) framework on long-standing and new challenges, which has negatively affected American right holders over the past year. India remains one of the world’s most challenging major economies with respect to protection and enforcement of IP.

  1. Long-standing IP challenges facing US businesses in India include those which make it difficult for innovators to receive and maintain patents in that country, particularly for pharmaceuticals, insufficient enforcement actions, copyright policies that do not properly incentivise the creation and commercialisation of content, and an outdated and insufficient trade secrets legal framework.
  2. India also further restricted the transparency of information provided on state-issued pharmaceutical manufacturing licenses, and expanded the application of patentability exceptions to reject pharmaceutical patents.
  3. India also missed an opportunity to establish an effective system for protecting against the unfair commercial use, as well as the unauthorised disclosure, of undisclosed test or other data generated to obtain marketing approval for certain agricultural chemical products.
  4. Last year it engaged with India to secure meaningful IP reforms on long-standing issues, including patentability criteria, criteria for compulsory licensing and protection against unfair commercial use, as well as unauthorised disclosure, or test of other data generated to obtain marketing approval for pharmaceutical products.


  1. Countries under priority watch list will be the subject of increased bilateral engagement with the USTR to address Intellectual Property (IP) concerns.
  2. USTR would be reviewing the developments against the benchmarks established in the Special 301 action plans for countries that have been on the ‘Priority Watch List’ for multiple years.
  3. For countries that fail to address US’ concerns, the USTR will take appropriate actions, such as enforcement actions under Section 301 of the Trade Act or pursuant to World Trade Organisation or other trade agreement dispute settlement procedures, necessary to combat unfair trade practices and to ensure that trading partners follow through with their international commitments.

What needs to be done- demands by USTR?

To maintain the integrity and predictability of IP systems, governments should use compulsory licenses only in extremely limited circumstances and after making every effort to obtain authorisation from the patent owner on reasonable commercial terms and conditions.

Such licenses should not be used as a tool to implement industrial policy, including providing advantages to domestic companies, or as undue leverage in pricing negotiations between governments and right holders. It is also critical that foreign governments ensure transparency and due process in any actions related to compulsory licenses. India has yet to take steps to address long-standing patent issues that affect innovative industries.

Special 301 (PT SHOT)

The Special 301 Report is prepared annually by the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) that identifies trade barriers to United States companies and products due to the intellectual property laws, such as copyright, patents and trademarks, in other countries. By April 30 of each year, the USTR must identify countries which do not provide "adequate and effective" protection of intellectual property rights or "fair and equitable market access to United States persons that rely upon intellectual property rights".

The Special 301 Report is published pursuant to Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 as amended by Section 1303 of the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988. The Special 301 Report was first published in 1989.

Priority watch list countries: USA uses “carrot” policy to incentivize IPR reforms e.g. funding, training, capacity building, bilateral exchanges and conferences.

Priority foreign countries: “sticks” policy to force IPR reforms e.g. putting trade sanctions, approaching WTO dispute resolution.

Past News

The office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has taken off India from the list of developing and least-developed countries that are eligible to claim benefits for preferential treatment with respect to Countervailing duties (CDs) investigations.

  • The preferential treatment with respect to CVDs investigations falls under the US’ Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) scheme.
    • Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) is an umbrella that comprises the bulk of preferential schemes granted by industrialized nations to developing countries.
    • Countervailing duty (CVD) is an import tax imposed on certain goods in order to prevent dumping or counter export subsidies.
  • Along with India, USTR has also eliminated other countries including Brazil, Indonesia, Hong Kong, South Africa, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and Argentina from getting preferential treatment.
    • The new lists consist of 36 developing countries and 44 least developed countries.
  • The move comes ahead of US President Donald Trump’s visit to India to talk and potentially sign a trade deal.


  • The USA had come up with lists of countries classified as per their level of development to harmonise the USA preferential treatment laws with the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Subsidies and Countervailing Measures (SCM) Agreement in 1998.
    • The WTO Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures disciplines the use of subsidies, and it regulates the actions countries can take to counter the effects of subsidies.
    • Under the agreement, a country can use the WTO’s dispute-settlement procedure to seek the withdrawal of the subsidy or the removal of its adverse effects. Or the country can launch its own investigation and ultimately charge extra duty (“countervailing duty”) on subsidized imports that are found to be hurting domestic producers.
  • The classification of the countries (developed, developing and least-developed) is done according to the following criteria:
    • Per capita Gross National Income or GNI.
    • Share of world trade.
    • Other factors such as Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) membership or application for membership, EU membership, and Group of Twenty (G20) membership, etc.
  • Thus the country with per capita GNI above $12,375 or Rs 8.82 lakh, the share of more than 0.5% to the world trade and membership to the above-mentioned organisations is considered as a developed country by USTR.

India- As a USTR’s Developed Country

  • According to USTR, India’s share in global trade was 2.1 % for exports and 2.6% for imports in 2017.
  • Also India, along with nations like Argentina, Brazil, Indonesia, and South Africa, is part of the G20 bloc and G20 membership indicates that a country is developed.
    • As the G20 members account for large shares of global economic output and trade.
  • Further, being a part of G20 India can be classified as a developed country despite having a per capita GNI below $12,375.

Impact on India

  • India is the largest beneficiary nation under the GSP, with total benefits from tariff exemptions amounting to $260 million in 2018, according to the data from the USTR’s office.
  • In 2018, India exported goods worth $6.3 billion (as per USTR figures) to the US under the GSP, accounting for around 12.1% of India’s total export to that country.
  • India no longer in the list of developing countries allows the USA to hold a CVD investigation.
    • The CVD laws allow the US to hold an investigation into the trade policies of other countries to determine whether they are harming the US trade.
    • If the investigation finds that India’s policies allow exporters to sell their products in the US at a lower rate the US can impose a countervailing duty, to make the Indian goods more expensive in the US markets.
  • Despite having a minimal impact on India's overall outbound trade with the US, specific exports from India in a diverse set of sectors such as jewellery, leather, pharmaceuticals, chemicals and agricultural products may face higher costs and competition.

Source: TH

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GS-III : Economic Issues Infrastructure
National Infrastructure Pipeline

National Infrastructure Pipeline

Part of: GS-III- Economy-Infrastructure (PT-MAINS-PERSONALITY TEST)

Recently, the task force headed by Atanu Chakraborty (economic affairs secretary) on National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP) submitted its final report to the Finance Minister.

Imp Points

  • Revised Investment Need: The taskforce has forecast an investment need of ?111 lakh crore over the next five years (2020-2025) to build infrastructure projects and drive economic growth.
    • The final report has revised up NIP from earlier Rs 100 lakh crore in light of additional data provided by central ministries/state governments since the release of summary NIP report.
  • Bulk Share: Energy, roads, railways and urban projects are estimated to account for the bulk of projects (around 70%).
  • Measures Suggested:
    • Aggressive push towards asset sales
    • Monetisation of infrastructure assets
    • Setting up of development finance institutions
    • Strengthening the municipal bond market
  • Streamlining Process: The task force has also recommended to set up of three committees:
    • Timely Execution: Panel to monitor NIP progress and eliminate delays.
    • Follow Up: Steering committee in each infrastructure ministry for following up implementation
    • Raising Financial Resources: Committee in the Department of Economic Affairs for raising financial resources for the NIP


  • The task force was set up after the Prime Minister, in his Independence Day speech of 2019, promised to roll out an infrastructure push worth ?100 trillion over five years to make India a $5 trillion economy.
  • The summary report for, National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP), 2020-25 was released by the finance minister on 31 December, 2019.
  • Out of the total expected capital expenditure of Rs 111 lakh crore
    • Projects worth Rs 44 lakh crore (40 % of NIP) are under implementation.
    • Projects worth Rs 33 lakh crore (30 % of NIP) are at conceptual stage.
    • Projects worth Rs 22 lakh crore (20 % of NIP) are under development.

National Infrastructure Pipeline

  • NIP will enable a forward outlook on infrastructure projects which will create jobs, improve ease of living, and provide equitable access to infrastructure for all, thereby making growth more inclusive.
  • NIP includes economic and social infrastructure projects.
  • It also includes both greenfield and brownfield projects.
  • It will help in stepping-up annual infrastructure investment to achieve the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $5 trillion by 2024-25.
  • The Centre and states are expected to have almost equal share in implementing NIP, while the private sector contribution is expected to be around 21%.

Source: IE

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GS-III : Economic Issues Regulatory authorities
International Financial Services Authority

International Financial Services Centres


The central government has established International Financial Services Centres Authority to regulate all financial services in International Financial Services Centres (IFSCs) with headquarters in Gandhinagar (Gujarat).

Important Points

  • Functions:
    • The authority will regulate financial products such as securities, deposits or contracts of insurance, financial services, and financial institutions which have been previously approved by any appropriate regulator such as Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) etc., in an IFSC.
    • It will also regulate any other financial products, financial services, or financial institutions in an IFSC, which may be notified by the central government.
    • It may also recommend to the central government any other financial products, financial services, or financial institutions, which may be permitted in an IFSC.

Members: The International Financial Services Centres Authority will consist of nine members, appointed by the central government. They will include chairperson of the authority, a member each from the RBI, SEBI, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI), and the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA); and two members from the Ministry of Finance. In addition, two other members will be appointed on the recommendation of a Selection Committee.

Term: All members of the IFSC Authority will have a term of three years, subject to reappointment.

  • Possible Benefits:
    • Unification under one authority: The banking, capital markets and insurance sectors in IFSC which are regulated by multiple regulators - the RBI, SEBI, and IRDAI will be unified under the IFSC authority.
    • The single window regulatory institution would accelerate the development of India's first IFSC at GIFT City, Gandhinagar.
    • Both national and international institutions dealing with international financial services would utilise the IFSC platform for inbound and outbound investments with improved ease of doing business, thereby making GIFT IFSC a global financial hub.

International Financial Services Centre:

  • An IFSC enables bringing back the financial services and transactions that are currently carried out in offshore financial centres by Indian corporate entities and overseas branches/subsidiaries of Financial Institutions (such as banks, insurance companies, etc.) to India.
    • It offers a business and regulatory environment that is comparable to other leading international financial centres in the world like London and Singapore.
  • IFSCs are intended to provide Indian corporates with easier access to global financial markets, and to complement and promote further development of financial markets in India.
  • The first IFSC in India has been set up at the Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT City) in Gandhinagar.

Past news

The Union Cabinet has approved International Financial Services Centres Authority Bill, 2019 which seeks to establish a unified authority for regulating all financial services in International Financial Services Centres (IFSCs) in India.

International Financial Service Centre (IFSC)

  • An IFSC caters to customers outside the jurisdiction of the domestic economy. Such centres deal with flows of finance, financial products and services across borders.
  • An expert panel headed by former World Bank economist Percy Mistry submitted a report on making Mumbai an international financial centre in 2007. However, the global financial crisis in 2008 made countries including India cautious about rapidly opening up their financial sectors.
  • In India, IFSC has been defined in SEZ Act, 2005 (PT). As per the act:
    • The Central Government may approve the setting up of an International Financial Service Centre in a Special Economic Zone and may prescribe the requirements for setting up and operation of such centre.
    • The Central Government shall approve only one International Financial Services Centre in a Special Economic Zone.
  • Since India has many restrictions on the financial sector, such as partial capital account convertibility, high SLR (statutory liquidity ratio) requirements and foreign investment restrictions, an SEZ can serve as a testing ground for financial sector reforms before they are rolled out in the entire nation.

Special Economic Zone (SEZ)

  • In India, the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) Policy was announced in April 2000.
  • The Special Economic Zones Act, 2005, was passed by Parliament in May, 2005 and came into effect in 2006.
  • SEZs addresses the issue of multiplicity of controls and clearances, have world-class infrastructure, and a stable fiscal regime.
  • SEZs focus on economic growth supported by quality infrastructure complemented by an attractive fiscal package, both at the Centre and the State level, with the minimum possible regulations.
  • GIFT (Gujarat International Finance Tec-City), located in Gandhinagar is India’s first International Financial Services Centre.


  • Currently, the banking, capital markets and insurance sectors in IFSC are regulated by multiple regulators, i.e. RBI, SEBI and IRDAI.
  • The dynamic nature of business in the IFSCs necessitates a high degree of inter-regulatory coordination. It also requires regular clarifications and frequent amendments in the existing regulations governing financial activities in IFSCs.
  • The development of financial services and products in IFSCs would require focussed and dedicated regulatory interventions. Hence, a need for a unified financial regulator for IFSCs in India to provide world class regulatory environment to financial market participants.
  • Further, this would also be essential from an ease of doing business perspective. The unified authority would also provide the much needed impetus to further development of IFSC in India in-sync with the global best practices.

Salient Features of the Authority

  • Composition: The Authority shall consist of a Chairperson, one Member each to be nominated by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI), the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) and the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority(PFRDA), two members to be dominated by the Central Government and two other whole-time or full-time or part-time members.
  • Functions: The Authority shall regulate all such financial services, financial products and Financial Institutions in an IFSC. It may also recommend to the Central Government such other financial products, financial services and financial institutions which may be permitted in the IFSCs.
  • Powers: All powers exercisable by the respective financial sector regulatory (viz. RBI, SEBI, IRDAI, and PFRDA etc.) under the respective Acts shall be solely exercised by the Authority in the IFSCs in so far as the regulation of financial products, financial services and FIs that are permitted in the IFSC are concerned.
  • Processes and procedures: The processes and procedures to be followed by the Authority shall be governed in accordance with the provisions of the respective Acts of Parliament of India applicable to such financial products, services or institutions, as the case may be.
  • Grants by the Central Govt.: The Central Govt. may, after due appropriation made by Parliament by law in this behalf, make to the Authority grants of such sums of money as the Central Government may think fit for being utilized for the purposes of the Authority.
  • Transactions in foreign currency: The transactions of financial services in the IFSCs shall be done in the foreign currency as specified by the Authority in consultation with the Central Govt.

Source: News

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International Labour Organization (ILO)

International Labour Organization (ILO)

Established in 1919 by the Treaty of Versailles as an affiliated agency of the League of Nations. League of Nations was disbanded in 1946 and powers and functions of ILO transferred to United Nations

  • Became the first affiliated specialized agency of the United Nations in 1946.
  • Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland

Received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1969.

    • For improving peace among classes.
    • Pursuing decent work and justice for workers.
    • Providing technical assistance to other developing nations.

The organization has played a key role:

    • Ensuring labour rights during the Great Depression of 1929.
    • Decolonization process.
    • The creation of Solidarno?? (trade union) in Poland.
    • The victory over apartheid in South Africa.

It is the only tripartite U.N. agency. It brings together governments, employers and workers of 187 member States, to set labour standards, develop policies and devise programmes promoting decent work for all women and men.

Source: Web

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Natural Product Based Alzheimer Inhibitor

Natural Product Based Alzheimer Inhibitor

Scientists from Jawaharlal Nehru Centre For Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR) have modified the structure of Berberine into Ber-D to use as an Alzheimer's inhibitor.

  • JNCASR is an autonomous institute under the Department of Science & Technology (DST), Govt. of India.
  • Berberine is a chemical found in several plants. It is a natural and cheap product similar to curcumin (a substance in turmeric). It is found in India and China and used in traditional medicine and other applications.

Berberine is poorly soluble and toxic to cells. So scientists modified berberine to Ber-D, which is a soluble (aqueous), antioxidant. They found it to be a multifunctional inhibitor of multifaceted amyloid toxicity of Alzheimer’s disease.

    • Amyloid is a protein that is deposited in the liver, kidneys, spleen, or other tissues in certain diseases.
    • In case of Alzheimer’s disease, Amyloid beta (Aβ) accumulates in the brain.
  • Ber-D inhibits aggregations of metal-dependent and -independent Amyloid beta (Aβ). Further, Ber-D treatment averts mitochondrial dysfunction and corresponding neuronal toxicity contributing to premature apoptosis (cell death).
  • These multifunctional attributes make Ber-D a promising candidate for developing effective therapeutics to treat multifaceted toxicity of Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s disease

  • Alzheimer's disease is a progressive disorder that causes brain cells to waste away (degenerate) and die.

Source: PIB

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