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Type: Govt. Schemes


Direct Benefits Transfer: The Big Reform Developmental Issues

NITI Aayog on PDS

  1. NITI: The Public Distribution System suffers from substantial leakages and there is an urgent need to look into avenues to eliminate them
  2. Solution: Aadhaar platform is one such avenue which can eliminate multiple ration cards held by the same household and also weed out ghost ration cards
  3. Give choice: In the longer run, an even more effective instrument would be to give households the option to choose between subsidised purchases and equivalent cash
  4. Such an approach will give the beneficiaries the option to buy their grain from private shops, thereby putting competitive pressure on public distribution shops
  5. A key element in the success of this approach, however, is to ensure access to banking
  6. Beneficiaries receiving cash transfers into their bank accounts have to be able to withdraw that cash to effectively use it

Note4students:

An innovative solution for PDS leakage issue and enlarging the choice of the public.

Primary Education Issues and Policies

Niti Aayog calls for review of RTE Act

  1. Review no-detention: The Niti Aayog has called for a review of the no-detention provisions of the Right To Education Act
  2. Why review? It said the good intention behind the norm is detrimental to the learning process
  3. No-detention: It stipulates that no child can be held back in a grade, regardless of his performance, all the way up to the eighth grade
  4. This means that a child is entitled to an eighth grade diploma even if he cannot recognise a single letter or a number if he has spent eight years in school
  5. Well-intentioned: Purpose behind this provision is to minimise the drop-out rate, since demoralisation resulting from failing a class leads to children withdrawing from school altogether
  6. Detrimental: But despite this good intention, the provision has a detrimental effect on learning outcomes, since it takes away the pressure to learn and to compete
  7. Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2014, one of the largest non-governmental household survey points out to the following:
  8. The proportion of children aged 6-14 years enrolled in school in rural areas has been above 96 per cent for the past six years
  9. Quality of education, a real problem: More than 50 per cent of the fifth graders cannot read second standard level text
  10. Even more disconcerting, the trend between 2010 and 2014 has been worsening instead of improving performance

Note4students:

The debate around RTE and quality of education is raging with recent TSR Subramanian Report and New Draft Education Policy. Make note of this NITI point for mains answers.

Ministry of Railways: Schemes, Policies & Missions Governance

Railways tunes in to revenues with music, films

  1. Non-fare revenues: Railway Minister unveiled the Railways’ first non-fare revenue policy, out-of-home advertising policy, train branding policy, content-on-demand and rail radio policy along with an ATM policy
  2. The railways will put up ATMs on platforms in stations, offer music and movies in trains and ‘brand’ trains to boost advertising revenue, opening up new revenue streams
  3. Background: Railway Minister had said in his Railway Budget 2016-17 speech that Railways earned less than 5% of revenues from non-tariff sources
  4. In Japan, 25-30 per cent of revenue comes from non-fare sources
    We aim to reach that level in seven to eight years and it will be a new revenue stream for the Railways

Note4students:

A good solution to tackle revenue crunch in railways. Note it down for mains.

Environmental Conservation and Mitigation strategy Conservation & Mitigation

[pib] Know about World’s largest Street Lighting National Programme (SLNP)

Street Lighting National Programme (SLNP):

  1. Street Lighting National Programme (SLNP) is currently running in the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) area
  2. It is the World’s Largest Street Light Replacement Programme
  3. Implemented by the Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), a joint venture under the Ministry of Power, Government of India

Progress so far:

  1. A total of 15.36 lakh street lights have already been replaced in the country with LED bulbs
  2. This results in energy savings of 20.35 crore kWh, avoiding capacity of 50.71 MW
  3. Reducing 1.68 lakh tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per annum

Role of EESL:

  1. In the SDMC Project, EESL is addressing complaints from various sources
  2. EESL is putting stringent complaint redressal mechanism and Centralized Control and Monitoring System (CCMS) to enable remote operation and monitoring of the street lights
  3. CCMS provides real time information on energy consumption and remote monitoring of the street lights

Note4Students:

This is a good government initiative to cut down on harmful emissions. Make a note of the points for both Prelims and Mains. Take note of ‘what is EESL?’ for prelims.

PIB
Black Money & The Economics Around It Economic Planning

[pib] Know what the government did on black money

Steps against Black Money:

  1. The government constituted SIT under the directions of the Supreme Court to fight against black money
  2. The Prime Minister had proposed to the G-20 at Brisbane that international cooperation in sharing information with regard to base erosion and profit shifting should be expedited
  3. The arrangement with the United States furthered this object
  4. The Black Money Law dealing with illegal assets outside India opened a window for disclosure with 60% tax and provides a ten year imprisonment
  5. The Income Declaration Scheme (IDS) 2016 was launched with a 45% tax
  6. The PAN card requirement for cash transaction beyond rupees two lakhs put hurdles on expenditure through black money
  7. The Benami law legislated in 1988 amended and has been put into action
  8. The GST, which is scheduled to be implemented this year, will provide for better indirect tax administration and being a more efficient law will check tax evasion
  9. The demonetisation of high denominational currency notes was the big step in the same direction

 Crime using paper currency:

  1. Paper currency is a zero interest anonymous bearer bond
  2. Having no name or history attached to it, crime can take place easily
  3. Crime can happen with or without cash but excessive cash as a medium of exchange is favoured by the underground economy
  4. It results in non-compliance in the matters of tax payments which creates an unjust enrichment in favour of the evader as against the poor and the deprived
  5. Mountains of cash money reach tax havens through the hawala route from the original paper currency
  6. Cash facilitates real time untraceable payments
  7. Cash is the medium which funds bribery, corruption, counterfeit currency and terrorism

Digital Economy:

  1. Ethical and developed societies aided by technology have consistently moved towards banking and digital transactions as against the excessive use of cash
  2. Reducing cash may not eliminate crime and terrorism but it can inflict serious blow on them

Note4Students:

The PIB release is a good insight into what measures the government has taken regarding black money. Indians need to be seriously educated regarding corruption so as to fight this menace. Note down the points for your Mains answer.

Back2Basics:

What is benami property?

  1. Benami is a Hindi word which means ‘without a name’
  2. Benami property or assets, therefore, is a reference to property/assets whose actual owner is not the person in whose name it is
  3. That is, property or shares, fixed deposits, debentures and bank accounts held by someone for someone else
  4. The person who lends his or her name does not get any beneficial interest in the property or asset and is called a benamidar

Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act 1988:

  1. In May 1988, the government issued an ordinance, Benami Transactions (Prohibition of the Right to Recover Property) Ordinance, which was then enacted as the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act 1988
  2. The Act defined benami transactions, prohibited them and made them punishable with a jail term and fine
  3. It also prohibited the recovery of property from the benamdar by the real owner

Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act, 2016:

  1. The term `property’ is not confined to a piece of real estate. The definition covers assets of any kind – moveable or immoveable, tangible or intangible, corporeal or incorporeal
  2. The Act does not allow the re-transfer of benami property to the actual owner; any such transfer will be termed null and void
  3. The Act clarifies that benami property that has been declared as part of the Income Disclosure Scheme of 2016 will not be acted against
  4. Any benami property will be confiscated by the central government
PIB
Ministry of Commerce and Industries: Schemes, Policies & Missions Economic Planning

Export infrastructure scheme on the anvil

  1. Source: Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman at the Council for Trade Development and Promotion
  2. What: The Centre will tie up with the States to soon roll-out a new scheme called ‘TIES’ — or Trade Infrastructure for Export Scheme — to boost export infrastructure
  3. She said the States must develop their own export strategy in alignment with the national foreign trade policy
  4. They should also enhance co-operation with Central agencies to set up common facilities for testing, certification, trace-back, packaging and labelling
  5. She said that about 150 Sanitary & Phyto-Sanitary (SPS) measures (or norms on food safety and animal & plant health standards)
  6. And a similar number of Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) notifications (including mandatory and voluntary standards) were being issued by WTO-member countries each month
  7. Around 50-60% of these measures have the potential to impact India’s trade
  8. Therefore, she said the States should cooperate with the Centre for setting up common facilities like testing labs and training institutes as well as to ensure packaging and storage support to the Indian industry
  9. So far only 17 States (of the 29 States and seven UTs in the country) have prepared their export strategy
  10. On services, she said IT and ITeS had an overwhelming predominance in India’s services exports but were largely restricted to the U.S. and EU markets
  11. This makes them vulnerable to changes imposed by these two trading blocs
  12. There is a need to diversify our services exports
  13. Areas like medical tourism, nursing and healthcare, education, audio-visual media have an excellent potential that can be harnessed
  14. For this, we need to develop the right competencies like language skills for the East and North East Asian markets
  15. Other measures: Meanwhile, the Centre has decided to soon bring out a Logistics Performance Index to rank states on steps taken to facilitate trade and improve logistics
  16. Measures in the pipeline include expediting the proposal for a north east corridor to improve connectivity with south east Asian countries and exports to that region

Back2basics:

Council for Trade Development and Promotion was constituted in order to ensure a continuous dialogue with State Governments and UTs on measures for providing an international trade enabling environment in the States and to create a framework for making the States active partners in boosting India’s exports.

It’s composition is as following:

[pib] Helpline for Handloom Weavers ‘Bunkar Mitra’ starts functioning

  1. Context: “Bunkar Mitra”, the Government of India’s Helpline for Handloom Weavers, went live
  2. The helpline is a great mix of technology, youth and tradition
  3. Textile Minister told the officials of the Ministry to monitor issues on which maximum complaints are received, so that corrective actions can be taken
  4. The helpline provides a single point of contact to handloom weavers across the country for addressing queries and providing guidance
  5. The following services are available through this helpline: Assistance on technical issues, guidance for:
  6. Raw material supply, Availing credit facility, Quality control, Access to marketing linkages, Information about various schemes and procedure to avail benefits

Note4Students:

An important initiative for the weavers of the country, remember the term for Prelims exam.

PIB
UDAY scheme for Discoms Infrastructure & Energy

[pib] ‘UDAY’ Web Portal and Mobile App launched

  1. Context: Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana (UDAY) Web Portal & Mobile App launched
  2. Aim: To track and monitor the progress of DISCOMs on operational and financial parameters under the UDAY scheme
  3. The portal/app will ensure transparency, enhance accountability of various stakeholders and facilitate view of near real time progress, enabling consumers to demand better services for themselves
  4. It will bring about an ethos of ‘Competitive Federalism’ among different States to achieve best progress in public schemes, especially in the power sector

Note4Students:

UDAY is an important part of the ‘Digital India Initiative’. Make note of the terms for your Prelims exam.

Back2Basics:

  1. Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana (UDAY): financial turnaround and revival package for electricity distribution companies of India (DISCOMs)
  2. Intent to find a permanent solution to the financial mess that the power distribution is in
  3. Scheme comprises four initiatives: Improving operational efficiencies of discoms, reduction of cost of power, reduction in interest cost of discoms and enforcing financial discipline on discoms through alignment with state finances
PIB

Modi thanks people for enduring note ban pain

  1. What: PM Modi on Saturday unveiled a relief package for farmers, senior citizens, small enterprises, women and the rural poor
  2. Why: As a return gift of sorts for enduring the pain caused by the Centre’s decision to scrap the legal tender nature of old ₹500 and ₹1,000 notes
  3. Senior citizens: He announced a guaranteed 8% return on bank deposits up to ₹7.5 lakh made by senior citizens for a period of 10 years
  4. Housing sector: Mr. Modi announced a special scheme under the Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana
  5. It will provide an interest subvention of 4% on loans up to ₹9 lakh and 3% on loans up to ₹12 lakh for urban housing
  6. A similar scheme would be rolled out for the rural poor to get a house-building loan of up to ₹2 lakh at a 3% lower interest rate
  7. Schemes for farmers: He promised to convert 3 crore Kisan credit cards to Rupay cards in the next 3 months
  8. Why: The PM flagged the inconvenience posed by Kisan credit cards which require farmers to go to the bank to withdraw cash against their credit limit
  9. With a Rupay card, they will be able to make transactions for farm inputs without visiting the bank
  10. He also announced a virtual doubling in the credit flow to the farm sector via district central co-operative banks and primary societies
  11. The Centre will bear the interest cost for 60 days on existing loans availed by farmers
  12. This interest subvention will be credited to farmers’ accounts and an additional ₹30,000 crore is being provided by the Centre to NABARD to lend to co-operative banks and societies at a lower interest rate
  13. Business loans: Mr Modi also raised the credit guarantee for small businesses from Rs 1 crore to Rs 2 crore and said this will help boost job creation
  14. Banks have also been directed to raise the cash-credit limit from 20% to 25% for such businesses
  15. The working capital loans will be raised from 20% to 30% to the extent that such traders transact in a cashless mode
  16. Maternity benefits: The PM also enhanced the maternity benefits given to pregnant women for pre-natal care to Rs 6,000 from the existing level of Rs 4,000
  17. He declared that this benefit will now be available for women in all 650 districts of the country
  18. Currently, the scheme is only working as a pilot project in 53 districts

Back2basics:

Read more about the housing schemes here and here.

Cashless Society Economic Planning

BHIM app Narendra Modi’s latest tool to accelerate digital payments shift

  1. What: PM Modi launched BHIM (Bharat Interface for Money)—an app that can be used by citizens for making digital transactions and payments
  2. PM Modi said it was named after Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, while announcing its launch at the DigiDhan mela. The DigiDhan mela is an event to promote digital transactions
  3. It enables its users to make all forms of cashless payments using various digital modes
  4. It includes debit/credit cards, unstructured supplementary service data (USSD), unified payments interface (UPI) and Aadhaar-enabled payment system (AEPS)
  5. He also declared the winners of the first weekly draw of Lucky Grahak Yojana and the first draw of Digi-Dhan Vyapar Yojana
  6. The winners of these schemes, whose first draw took place on 25 Dec, are selected on a daily and weekly basis, respectively, leading up to a mega draw on 14 April 2017, the birthday of B.R. Ambedkar

Back2basics:

1. USSD,  is a protocol used by GSM cellular telephones to communicate with the service provider’s computers. USSD can be used for WAP browsing, prepaid callback service, mobile-money services, location-based content services etc.

2. More information on the lottery schemes mentioned in the news can be found in the Cashless Society story here.

Ministry of Rural Development: Schemes, Policies & Missions Developmental Issues

Allot land to homeless, Centre tells States

  1. What: In an unique initiative, the Centre has asked states to allot land to a female member of homeless families so that they can be provided with funds for construction of homes under a recently launched scheme
  2. Under the Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana (PMAY), the Centre is aiming to construct more than 2 crore houses by 2022 for families from lower income group or economically weaker sections
  3. They will also be supplemented with power, water and LPG connections
  4. Out of these 60% houses will be constructed for the homeless and those living in kachcha houses belonging to SC and ST communities
  5. Plain areas: The govt will directly transfer Rs 1,20,000 into the account of beneficiaries in the plain areas
  6. Besides this, they will also be provided Rs.12,000 for toilets construction and 90 days of work under MNREGA which is equivalent to Rs 18,000
  7. In hilly areas, beneficiaries will get Rs 1,30,000 for construction purposes along with Rs 12,000 toilets construction and Rs 18,000 from MNREGA
  8. To ensure transparency and checking diversion of funds, there will be geotagging of all houses which will be built under this scheme
  9. In Nov this year, PM Modi had launched flagship housing scheme ‘Pradhan Mantri Gramin Awas Yojna’
  10. It is designed entirely for the rural masses, the ambitious scheme aims to provide affordable houses to all those living below the poverty line by the year 2022
  11. It is under the Ministry of Rural Development

Note4students:

All such govt schemes are important for prelims and mains. The name of the scheme, its objectives, its provisions and which ministry it is under are important things to remember.

Back2basics:

Note that there are 2 schemes mentioned – Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana and Pradhan Mantri Gramin Awas Yojna. The Gramin scheme is part of PMAY.

There is an urban counterpart also. Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana- Housing for All (Urban), is being implemented during 2015-2022 and provides central assistance to Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) and other implementing agencies through States/UTs for affordable housing and rehabilitation of existing slum dwellers. It is under Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation.

Security issues – Internal & External Internal Security

CCEA approves road project for Maoist areas

  1. What: The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved a ₹11,700-crore project to improve rural road connectivity in the worst-affected left-wing extremism (LWE) districts
  2. The scheme, named Road Connectivity Project for LWE Affected Areas, will be implemented under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) in 44 districts
  3. The Centre will fund 60% of the road project and the rest will come from States
  4. However, in the north-east, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, the Centre will provide 90% funding

Back2basics:

To learn more about PMGSY, click here.

Ministry of Science & Technology: Schemes, Policies & Missions Explorations in S&T

50 biotech labs to be set up in Arunachal

  1. Source: Union Minister for Science and Technology Harsh Vardhan
  2. What: A total of 50 biotechnology laboratories will be set up in Senior Secondary Schools in Arunachal Pradesh as part of a Rs. 75-crore push to encourage biotechnology research and start-ups
  3. The labs will be established as part of a Department of Biotechnology scheme, called Biotech Labs in Senior Secondary Schools (BliSS) to encourage students to consider careers in biotechnology
  4. The programme is part of a larger initiative to establish labs in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Tripura, Nagaland, Sikkim and Manipur
  5. According to the scheme, Rs. 15 lakh will be provided per school to set up basic facilities at biotech labs and infrastructure including computers, freezers and microscopes
  6. According to him, the govt is going to ensure that there will be a biotechnology innovation hub in Arunachal Pradesh
  7. It will also promote research into traditional dyes and banana fibre extraction
  8. A State-level biotech hub will be set up in the State for conducting advanced research and for training students in related careers
  9. There would also be an intellectual property cell at the State Science and Technology council, for protecting indigenous traditional knowledge

Note4students:

The scheme mentioned is important for prelims.

Cashless Society Economic Planning

NPCI schemes will reward digital payments

  1. What: The National Payments Corp. of India (NPCI) will launch two lucky draw schemes on 25 December to incentivise digital payments, as proposed by Niti Aayog
  2. Under the schemes, poor and middle class consumers and small businesses will be rewarded for conducting cashless transactions
  3. Only transactions processed through Rupay cards, USSD, UPI and Aadhaar Enabled Payment System (AEPS) will be part of the schemes
  4. The schemes are —Lucky Grahak Yojana for consumers and Digi Dhan Vyapar Yojana for merchants
  5. Under the Lucky Grahak Yojana, starting 25 Dec, every day for the next 100 days, 15,000 consumers will be awarded Rs1,000 each via a lucky draw
  6. There will also be weekly draws where 7000 winners will win a maximum prize of 1 lakh which will also continue till 14th April
  7. Under Digi Dhan, the weekly prize for merchants will be up to a maximum of Rs50,000, followed by Rs5,000 and Rs2,500 as 2nd and 3rd prizes respectively
  8. Winners will be identified through a random draw of the eligible transaction IDs to be automatically generated by a software developed by NPCI for this purpose
  9. NPCI is the umbrella organization for all retail payments systems in India and is charged with the responsibility of guiding India towards being a cashless society

Note4students:

This news is mainly important due to the govt schemes mentioned. Questions based on it can come in prelims. They can also be used as examples of innovative measures to promote digital payments.

[pib] Policy on Agricultural Labourers and more!


  1. Unorganised Workers’ Social Security Act, 2008 to provide social security benefits to the workers including agricultural labourers in the unorganised sector
  2. The Act stipulates formulation of suitable welfare schemes for unorganised workers on matters relating to:
  • life and disability cover,
  • health and maternity benefits
  • old age protection and
  • any other benefit as may be determined by the Central Government through the National Social Security Board
  1. Various Schemes, formulated by the Government to provide social security cover to the unorganized workers, which include agricultural labourers are listed in the Schedule I of the above Act are as under:
  • Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (Ministry of Rural Development)
  • National Family Benefit Scheme (Ministry of Rural Development)
  • Janani Suraksha Yojana (Ministry of Health and Family Welfare)
  • Handloom Weavers’ Comprehensive Welfare Scheme (Ministry of Textiles)
  • Handicraft Artisans’ Comprehensive Welfare Scheme (Ministry of Textiles)
  • Pension to Master Craft Persons (Ministry of Textiles)
  • National Scheme for Welfare of Fishermen and Training and Extension (Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying & Fisheries)
  • Aam Admi Bima Yojana (Department of Financial Services)
  • Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (Ministry of Health and Family Welfare)
  • Further, the Atal Pension Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana and Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana launched by the Central Government also provide social security coverage to agricultural labourers

Note4Students:

An important list of various schemes for the agricultural labour, make a note of them. We have covered this before as well. There is no better way to remember these schemes than frequent revision.

 

PIB
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