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Burning Issues

[Burning Issue] Hunger and Poverty in India

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India, with a population of over 1.3 billion, has seen tremendous growth in the past two decades. Gross Domestic Product has increased 4.5 times and per capita consumption has increased 3 times. Similarly, food grain production has increased almost 2 times. However, despite phenomenal industrial and economic growth and while India produces sufficient food to feed its population, it is unable to provide access to food to a large number of people, especially women and children.

In recently published the Global Hunger Index (GHI), India has slid down, falling behind its South Asian neighbors to rank 101 out of 116 countries. The government has dismissed the report’s ‘unscientific’ methodology.

Poverty and hunger have been a universal and increasing menace to humankind. Let us learn about these issues in detail.

Hunger

  • Hunger is the condition where both adults and children cannot access food constantly and have to decrease food intake, eat poor diets, and often go without any food. (Dillon and Marquand, 2011).
  • According to Amartya Sen, the real cause for hunger is the lack of ability to pay for food.

Root causes of hunger

  • World hunger has many annoying factors and major causes, such as insufficient economic systems, misinformation, and climate changes.
  • But the main unbearable factor is poverty as poverty always has led to people going without regular meals because they cannot afford to eat.
  • There are majority of people in developing countries such as Kenya, Uganda, and Ethiopia that are in desperate need of food. With the growth of population, the number of hungry people also increases at an uneven rate.
  • Climate change is also a major issue for world hunger.
    • With the amount of rain that a country gets increases, it can possibly lead to serious flooding. Flooding adversely affects how much food is produced and available to the impoverished and raises the costs.
  • Among numerous issues, Hunger and malnutrition are closely associated in Indian scenario.
    • The Global Study revealed that 42% children in India are underweight and 58% of children are stunted by two years of age.
    • Malnutrition occurs when a person’s body receives little or no nutrients. People who are malnourished get sick more often and as a result in many cases die.
    • Malnutrition is consequently the most important risk factor for the problem of disease in developing countries.
    • It is the direct cause of about 300,000 deaths per year and is indirectly responsible for about half of all deaths in young children.
  • It can be said that world hunger must be taken seriously and should be approached with all deliberate and instant policies.
  • There are different issues of world hunger but the three main ones are poverty, climate changes, and also feeble economies.

Poverty

  • In India, 21.9% of the population lives below the national poverty line in 2011.
  • In India, the proportion of the employed population below $1.90 purchasing power parity a day in 2011 is 21.2%.
  • For every 1,000 babies born in India in 2017, 39 die before their 5th birthday.
  • Poverty is a condition characterized by lack of basic needs such as water, health care, foods, sufficient access to social and economic services, and few opportunities for formal income generation.
  • Poverty is often described in terms of the income level below which people are unable to access sufficient food for a healthy working life.
  • Hunger and food insecurity are the most serious forms of extreme poverty.
  • Progress in poverty reduction has been concentrated in Asia and especially East Asia. In other areas, the number of people in extreme poverty has increased especially in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Poverty in India is primarily due to improper government policies and the misuse of the financially weaker section by the wealthier community.
  • The main outcome of poverty is hunger. Hunger’s seriousness can be understood easily from the fact that every year, 5.8 million children die from hunger related-causes around the world (FAO Hunger Report 2008).
  • Poverty involves more than the lack of income and productive resources to ensure sustainable livelihoods. Its manifestations include hunger and malnutrition, limited access to education and other basic services, social discrimination and elimination as well as the lack of participation in decision-making.

Poverty in India and other developing countries

Reports of the World Bank revealed that India is one of the poorest countries in the world.  Some of the main issues associated with prevalent poverty in India are poor health services, and insufficient education and training. Almost half of India’s population drops out of school by the age of thirteen and only one in ten people receive some form of job training.

  • Poor health services: It has been observed that People of India have less access to good health services as compared to industrialized nations. The relationship between poverty and access to health care can be seen as part of a larger cycle, where poverty leads to ill health and ill health maintains poverty.
  • Child malnutrition: The occurrence of under-nutrition in India is amongst the highest levels found in any country in the world and in spite of the development in food production, disease control and economic and social development; India is facing an acute problem of child malnutrition.
  • Insufficient education and training: In developing countries, children do not have access to basic education because of inequalities that originate in sex, health and cultural identity. It has been revealed in reports that illiteracy and lack of education are common factor that lead to poverty.
    • Governments of developing countries often cannot have enough money to provide for good public schools, especially in rural areas.
    • Poor people also often sacrifice schooling in order to concentrate on making a minimal living.
    • Additionally, developing countries tend to have few employment opportunities, especially for women. As a result, people do not want to attend school.
  • Corruption and warfare: Political power is unreasonably centralized. This often causes development problems. In these situations politicians make decisions about places that they are unaware with, lacking sufficient knowledge about the context to design effective and appropriate policies and programs.
    • Another issue related with poverty is corruption often accompanies centralization of power, when leaders are not accountable to those they serve. Corruption hinders development.
    • Warfare also lead to entrenched poverty by diverting scarce resources allocated for reducing poverty to maintaining a military.
  • Environmental degradation: It is also a major issue in increasing poverty.
    • In the developing world, the poor communities depend on natural resources to fulfill their basic needs.
    • Therefore, the depletion and impurity of water sources directly impend the livelihoods of those who depend on them.
  • Inequality: One of the more deep-rooted sources of poverty around the globe is social inequality that stems from cultural ideas about the relative worth of different genders, races, ethnic groups, and social classes.
  • Other causes include:
    1. Population Rise
    2. Low Productivity in Agriculture
    3. Under-Utilized Resources
    4. Low Rate of Economic Development
    5. Price Rise
    6. Unemployment
    7. Shortage of Capital and Able Entrepreneurship
    8. Social Factors

Global Hunger Index (GHI)

The Global Hunger Index is a peer-reviewed annual report, jointly published by Concern Worldwide and Welthungerhilfe.

  • It determines hunger on a 100-point scale, where 0 is the best possible score (no hunger) and 100 is the worst.
  • It is designed to comprehensively measure and track hunger at the global, regional, and country levels.
  • The aim of the GHI is to trigger action to reduce hunger around the world.

For each country in the list, the GHI looks at four indicators:

  1. Undernourishment (which reflects inadequate food availability): calculated by the share of the population that is undernourished (that is, whose caloric intake is insufficient)
  2. Child Wasting (which reflects acute undernutrition): calculated by the share of children under the age of five who are wasted (that is, those who have low weight for their height)
  3. Child Stunting (which reflects chronic undernutrition): calculated by the share of children under the age of five who are stunted (that is, those who have low height for their age)
  4. Child Mortality (which reflects both inadequate nutrition and unhealthy environment): calculated by the mortality rate of children under the age of five

India’s (poor) performance

  • India is among the 31 countries where hunger has been identified as serious.
  • Only 15 countries fare worse than India.
  • Some of these include Afghanistan (103), Nigeria (103), Congo (105), Mozambique (106), Sierra Leone (106), Timor-Leste (108), Haiti (109), Liberia (110), Madagascar (111) and Somalia (116).
  • India was also behind most of the neighbouring countries.
  • Pakistan was placed at 92 rank, Nepal at 76 and Bangladesh also at 76.

Reasons for such poor performance

  • Poor maternal health: Mothers are too young, too short, too thin and too undernourished themselves, before they get pregnant, during pregnancy, and then after giving birth, during breast-feeding.
  • Poor sanitation: Poor sanitation, leading to diarrhoea, is another major cause of child wasting and stunting.
  • Food insecurity: Low dietary diversity in India is also a key factor in child malnutrition.
  • Poverty: Almost 50 million households in India are dependent on these small and marginal holdings.
  • Livelihood loss: The rural livelihoods loss after COVID and lack of income opportunities other than the farm sector have contributed heavily to the growing joblessness in rural areas.

Issues with GHI

  • The GHI is largely children-oriented with a higher emphasis on undernutrition than on hunger and its hidden forms, including micronutrient deficiencies.
  • The first component — calorie insufficiency — is problematic for many reasons.
  • The lower calorie intake, which does not necessarily mean deficiency, may also stem from reduced physical activity, better social infrastructure (road, transport and healthcare) and access to energy-saving appliances at home, among others.
  • For a vast and diverse country like India, using a uniform calorie norm to arrive at deficiency prevalence means failing to recognise the huge regional imbalances in factors that may lead to differentiated calorie requirements at the State level.

Understanding the connection between stunting and wasting and ways to tackle them

  • India’s wasting prevalence (17.3%) is one among the highest in the world.
  • Its performance in stunting, when compared to wasting, is not that dismal, though.
  • Child stunting in India declined from 54.2% in 1998–2002 to 34.7% in 2016-2020, whereas child wasting remains around 17% throughout the two decades of the 21st century.
  • Stunting is a chronic, long-term measure of undernutrition, while wasting is an acute, short-term measure.
  • Quite possibly, several episodes of wasting without much time to recoup can translate into stunting.
  • Effectively countering episodes of wasting resulting from such sporadic adversities is key to making sustained and quick progress in child nutrition.
  • Way forward: If India can tackle wasting by effectively monitoring regions that are more vulnerable to socioeconomic and environmental crises, it can possibly improve wasting and stunting simultaneously.

Low child mortality

  • India’s relatively better performance in the other component of GHI — child mortality — merits a mention.
  • Studies suggest that child under nutrition and mortality are usually closely related, as child under nutrition plays an important facilitating role in child mortality.
  • However, India appears to be an exception in this regard.
  • This implies that though India was not able to ensure better nutritional security for all children under five years, it was able to save many lives due to the availability of and access to better health facilities.

Initiatives by Government to Curb Poverty in India

Ending poverty in all its forms is the first of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The government of India took several initiatives to eradicate poverty from the country.

  1. Saansad Aadarsh Gram Yojana (SAGY)Ministry of Rural development initiated the scheme in 2014. The scheme aims to develop five ‘Adarsh Villages’ or ‘Model Villages’ by 2024.
  2. National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM)Ministry of Rural Development started NRLM 2011 to evolve out the need to diversify the needs of the rural poor and provide them jobs with regular income on a monthly basis.
  3. Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) – In 2005 Ministry of Rural Development initiated MGNEREGA to provide 100 days of assured employment every year to every rural household. One-third of the proposed jobs would be reserved for women.
  4. National Urban Livelihood Mission (NULM) – In 2013, NULM was commenced by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs focusing on organizing urban poor in Self Help Groups, creating opportunities for skill development leading to market-based employment, and helping them to set up self-employment ventures by ensuring easy access to credit.
  5. Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) – the Ministry of Finance in 2014 initiated PMJDY that aimed at direct benefit transfer of subsidy, pension, insurance, etc., and attained the target of opening 1.5 crore bank accounts. The scheme particularly targets the unbanked poor.

Hunger and Poverty are the biggest challenges for good governance in India still today. Evaluate how far successive governments have progressed in dealing with these humongous problems. Suggest measures for improvement. (250 words)

Post your answers in comments below.

Initiatives by Government to fight against Hunger in India

The Government of India took several initiatives to fight against hunger across the nation.

  1. National Nutrition Mission (NNM), Poshan Abhiyan – NNM was started in 2018 by the Ministry of Women and Child Development to reduce the level of under-nutrition and also enhance the nutritional status of children in the country.
  2. National Food Security MissionMinistry of Agriculture initiated NFSM in 2007 to increase the production of rice, wheat, pulses, and coarse cereals through area expansion and productivity enhancement in a sustainable manner.
  3. Zero Hunger Programme – launched on October 16, 2017 with the aim to make farm inventions, organizing the farming system for nutrition, setting up genetic gardens for biofortified plants and initiating zero hunger training.
  1. Eat Right India Movement: An outreach activity organized by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) for citizens to nudge them towards eating right.
  2. Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana: A centrally sponsored scheme executed by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, is a maternity benefit programme being implemented in all districts of the country with effect from 1st January, 2017.
  3. Food Fortification: Food Fortification is the addition of key vitamins and minerals such as iron, iodine, zinc, Vitamin A & D to staple foods such as rice, milk and salt to improve their nutritional content.
  4. National Food Security Act, 2013: It legally entitled up to 75% of the rural population and 50% of the urban population to receive subsidized food grains under the Targeted Public Distribution System.
  5. Mission Indradhanush: It targets children under 2 years of age and pregnant women for immunization against 12 Vaccine-Preventable Diseases (VPD).

Global Initiative against Poverty and Hunger

Food is at the core of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Goal 2 of SDG deals with Zero Hunger. Given below are some global level initiatives to fight poverty and hunger-

  1. The End to Poverty Initiative – This Centenary Initiative is designed specifically as the vehicle to take forward the ILO’s work in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to alleviate poverty.
  2. Zero Hunger By World Food Programme – with humanitarian food assistance, provide nutritious food to those in urgent need. Meanwhile, the complementary programs address the root causes of hunger and build the resilience of communities.
  3. Fight Hunger First – With a vision to have a world without hunger and poverty, Welthungerhilfe- WHH has been implementing several initiatives in rural areas of India and Bangladesh. It was set up by a UN agency FAO.
  4. Zero Hunger Challenge (Save Food) by FAO – The 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, also known as Rio+20, launched the Zero Hunger Challenge which includes addressing the sustainability of all food systems and the vision of zero food loss and waste (FLW).

Conclusion

Food insecurity remains an alarming issue due to such entitlement failures in India. While the government has rejected the findings of the Global Hunger Index as “unscientific”, we cannot ignore the dismal ground realities. India faces a malnutrition challenge that is not only large but worsening. It is time for the government to face up to these inconvenient truths and pursue the means and mechanisms needed to improve the situation. A safe and bright future for our children will translate into a safe and bright future for the country. And that’s the message we want every fellow citizen to internalize — Sahi Poshan, Desh Roshan.

There is a growing divergence in the relationship between poverty and hunger in India. The shrinking of social expenditure by the government is forcing the poor to spend more on non-food essential items squeezing their food budget. Elucidate. (250 words)

Post your answers in comments below.

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Announcements

Webinar starting in 45 minutes – seats filling out || Why Essays are Game – Changer in UPSC Mains? || Free Webinar by Arpit Sir || Limited slots available

The Essay Paper in Mains makes or breaks your dream of becoming an IAS officer. Do you know a well-structured essay uplifts your rank by more than a 100 notches?

While the performance of students is more or less the same in GS papers (especially 1,2,3), but in the case of essay the variation of marks is rather huge (in 60s to 160). Yes, a single Essay paper can create a gulf of 100 marks. 

If you have not yet started writing essays or if you’re confused on how to write quality answers within a short duration, then this webinar is for you!

Open to All, Attend the Webinar Essay FLT.

The orientation session is about learning the basics of essay writing. We welcome all the sincere and serious aspirants who understand the value of scoring 120+ in the essay paper. This is the only paper where mere management of time and thoughts will fetch you marks more than any other paper. 

Who must join the webinar?

  • One who is attempting Mains in 2021.
  • One who is going to attempt Prelims 2022.
  • Anyone who has a basic understanding of the UPSC syllabus.

What can you learn from this webinar?

1. Right sources to prepare Essay Paper for Mains. Is just reading GS Subjects and Current Affairs enough for Essay Paper?

2. Understanding the type of questions asked. What are the 8 broad themes of essay?

3. Brainstorming the topic before writing. What are the 10 parameters by which your essay will be evaluated?

4. Organising your thoughts into paragraphs. How to write 1200 words and maintain the flow with well linked paragraphs?

5. Framing the correct thesis statement. How to sound persuasive yet logical?

6. Different types of introduction you can write for your essay. What kind of anecdotes work and how to remember them?

7. Developing balanced main body arguments. How to be less biased with an interdisciplinary approach?

8. Concluding the essay perfectly. How can you score additional marks over here?

Arpit Sir will also hold a Q&A Session where beginners and veterans can clarify their doubts.

So attend this webinar and start the very first step of essay writing in the right direction!

Webinar Details

Date – 22nd October 2021(Friday)

Time – 4:00PM-5:00PM

About Arpit Sir

Arpit Sir has the experience of attending all the stages of UPSC CSE – prelims, mains and interview. He has been mentoring aspirants for the last 8 years. According to him, enjoying the process of preparation will prevent the fear of the end result.

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Announcements

Why Essays are Game – Changer in UPSC Mains? || Free Webinar by Arpit Sir || Limited slots available

The Essay Paper in Mains makes or breaks your dream of becoming an IAS officer. Do you know a well-structured essay uplifts your rank by more than a 100 notches?

While the performance of students is more or less the same in GS papers (especially 1,2,3), but in the case of essay the variation of marks is rather huge (in 60s to 160). Yes, a single Essay paper can create a gulf of 100 marks. 

If you have not yet started writing essays or if you’re confused on how to write quality answers within a short duration, then this webinar is for you!

Open to All, Attend the Webinar Essay FLT.

The orientation session is about learning the basics of essay writing. We welcome all the sincere and serious aspirants who understand the value of scoring 120+ in the essay paper. This is the only paper where mere management of time and thoughts will fetch you marks more than any other paper. 

Who must join the webinar?

  • One who is attempting Mains in 2021.
  • One who is going to attempt Prelims 2022.
  • Anyone who has a basic understanding of the UPSC syllabus.

What can you learn from this webinar?

1. Right sources to prepare Essay Paper for Mains. Is just reading GS Subjects and Current Affairs enough for Essay Paper?

2. Understanding the type of questions asked. What are the 8 broad themes of essay?

3. Brainstorming the topic before writing. What are the 10 parameters by which your essay will be evaluated?

4. Organising your thoughts into paragraphs. How to write 1200 words and maintain the flow with well linked paragraphs?

5. Framing the correct thesis statement. How to sound persuasive yet logical?

6. Different types of introduction you can write for your essay. What kind of anecdotes work and how to remember them?

7. Developing balanced main body arguments. How to be less biased with an interdisciplinary approach?

8. Concluding the essay perfectly. How can you score additional marks over here?

Arpit Sir will also hold a Q&A Session where beginners and veterans can clarify their doubts.

So attend this webinar and start the very first step of essay writing in the right direction!

Webinar Details

Date – 22nd October 2021(Friday)

Time – 4:00PM-5:00PM

About Arpit Sir

Arpit Sir has the experience of attending all the stages of UPSC CSE – prelims, mains and interview. He has been mentoring aspirants for the last 8 years. According to him, enjoying the process of preparation will prevent the fear of the end result.

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RSTV Archive

[Sansad TV] Billion Dollar Club: India’s Unicorn Era

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Context

India has the second-largest number of unicorns and is only behind the United States (US). It is now home to 71 unicorns.  

World’s biggest investors, including SoftBank, Tiger Global and Falcon Edge, are pouring money into Indian start-ups, churning out unicorns at a record speed and valuations.

Unicorns: A Backgrounder

A unicorn is a start-up with a valuation of at least $1 billion.

  • The term was first coined by Aileen Lee, founder of Cowboy ventures when she referred to the 39 start-ups that had a valuation of over $1 billion as unicorns.
  • The term initially was used to lay emphasis on the rarity of such start-ups.

Some of the successful Indian unicorns:

  • Lenskart
  • Cred
  • Meesho
  • PharmEasy
  • Licious
  • Grofers etc.

Unicorn boost in India

  • The growth of Unicorns in India has been phenomenal in the past two years.
  • From 17 Unicorns in 2018 the number went up to 38 in 2020 and it’s 71 and counting in 2021.
  • Many of these unicorns, which have cumulatively raised more than 9 billion dollars till date, have also seen a surge in valuations.

Features of a unicorn Start-up

To be a unicorn is no cakewalk and each unicorn today has its own story with a list of features that worked in its favour.

The few pointers that are commonly seen across all the unicorns is as under:

  • Disruptive innovation: Mostly, all the unicorns have brought a disruption in the field they belong to. Uber, for example, changed the way people commuted.  
  • ‘Firsts’: It is seen that unicorns are mostly the starters in their industry. They change the way people do things and gradually create a necessity for themselves.
  • High on tech: Another common trend across unicorns is that their business model runs on tech. Uber got their model accepted by crafting a friendly app.
  • Consumer-focused: Often, theirgoal is to simplify and make things easy for consumers and be a part of their day-to-day life.
  • Affordability: Keeping things affordable is another key highlight of these startups. Spotify, for example, made listening to music easier to the world. 
  • Privately owned: Most of the unicorns are privately owned which gets their valuation bigger when an established company invests in it. 
  • *Mostly software based: A recent report suggests that 87% of the unicorns’ products are software, 7% are hardware and the rest 6% are other products & services.

Entrepreneurship today is ‘survival-driven’ self-employment, formed out of necessity, as well as opportunity motivated, largely because poverty and lack of formal employment opportunities rear their ugly head in striving economies.

Reasons for sudden success

  • COVID pandemic: The pandemic accelerated adoption of digital services by consumers helping start-ups and new-age ventures that typically build tech-focused businesses delivering an array of offerings to customers.
  • Boost in online services: Many Indians who had traditionally been subscribers of brick-and-mortar businesses moved online and explored a host of services ranging from food delivery and edu-tech to e-grocery.
  • Work-from-home culture: This added significant numbers to start-ups’ user base and expedited their business expansion plans and attracting investors.

Inherent challenges to Start-ups in India

  • Financial scarcity: Availability of finance is critical for the startups and is always a problem to get sufficient amounts.
  • Lack of Infrastructure: There is a lack of support mechanisms that play a significant role in the lifecycle of startups which include incubators, science and technology parks etc.
  • Regulatory bottlenecks: Starting and exiting a business requires a number of permissions from government agencies. Although there is a perceptible change, it is still a challenge.
  • Compliance hurdles: For example, earlier Angel tax, which stands removed no, falls under corruption and bureaucratic inefficiencies.
  • Low success rate: Several startups fail due to shifting away the focus on the fundamentals of business grows.
  • Lack of an Innovative Business Model: To be successful a start-up must be innovative. Unfortunately, Indian startups are less innovative than startups elsewhere.  
  • Non-competitive Indian Markets: Too many startups serving too few consumers are saturating the Indian market.  Most startups serve the fraction of Indians who live in urban India.
  • Digital divide: The majority of Indians who live in rural areas and small towns remain untouched by most startups.

Various initiatives by the Govt.

There are numerous government initiatives to assist start-ups:

  • MUDRA Scheme: Through this scheme, start-ups get loans from the banks to set up, grow and stabilize their businesses.
  • SETU (Self-Employment and Talent Utilization) Fund: Government has allotted Rs 1,000 Cr in order to create opportunities for self-employment and new jobs mainly in technology-driven domains.
  • E-Biz Portal: It is India’s first government to business portal that integrates 14 regulatory permissions and licenses at one source.
  • Credit Guarantee Fund: launched by the GoI to make available collateral-free credit to the micro and small enterprise sector.  
  • Fund of Funds for Start-ups (FFS): 10,000 Rs corpus fund established in line with the Start-up India action plan under SIDBI for extending support to Start-ups.
  • Tax Sops: Tax exemption on Capital gain tax, Removal of Angel tax, Tax exemption for 3 years and Tax exemption in investment above Fair Market Value.

Roadmap for the future success of start-ups

Start-ups can judiciously take cues from unicorns in understanding the ecosystem and building a business model that adds value while being sustainable.

  • New-age startups should devise a customer-centric business model.
  • Through proper branding and strategy, they should make sure that this value proposition reaches the end-user.
  • What brings startups closer to success is the execution and customer acquisition strategy, where all the action occurs.  
  • Notably, technology (rather deep-technology) has played a key role in the making of pioneer business models.

Attracting venture capitalists

  • VCs are actively looking for investment opportunities in early-stage startups.
  • They possess the selection ability to effectively screen startups having a higher potential to succeed.
  • VCs primarily look for a mindset alignment with promoters and companies where they, as investors, can add value by leveraging their industry experience, expertise, network and reputation.

Conclusion

  • The current economic scenario in India is in expansion mode.  Indian Startups are now spread across the length and breadth of the entire country.
  • The word ‘unicorn’ has come a long way from just being a mythological creature to a regular feature in business and finance discussions.
  • Innovation and economic growth depend on being able to produce excellent individuals with the right skills and attitudes to be entrepreneurial in their professional lives.
  • The Indian government’s policies like Make in India, Digital India, Atmanirbhar etc. shows the enthusiasm to arrest this talent.
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Yojana/RSTV

[Yojana Archive] Gender Justice

September 2021: “Nari Shakti”

  • In the mid-twentieth century, the French social philosopher Simone de Beauvoir wrote the magnum opus Second Sex’.
  • Here she elaborated the secondary position of the women because of social-cultural factors.
  • She famously written that ‘one is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.’
  • She mentions that the ‘sex’ (biological difference between male and female) in the course of time becomes gender’ (a socio-cultural construct).
  • It happens due to primary (family peer groups, community) and secondary (school, college, club, public library, offices, sports, etc.) socialisation.

Recent Judicial Orders for Gender Justice

  • Marriage of IFS Officers: In IFS Services Rules, the permission of Govt. was required before the marriage of women officers, and married women were not allowed to join IFS. Hence, the Supreme Court (SC) quashed it outright.
  • Quashing of punishment for adultery: In Joseph Shine v Union of India case, the Section 497 of IPC (punishment for adultery) was struck down as unconstitutional, being violative of Articles 14, 15, and 21.
  • Ban on Triple Talaq: The SC had declared Talaq-e-biddar (triple talaq at the same time) unconstitutional & arbitrary (violative of fundamental right to equality).

Factors attributing Empowerment of Women

The Fifth National Family Health Survey (2019-20) talks of the following factors for the empowerment of women:

  • Ownership of physical assets: Mobile phones, bank accounts, land & housing;
  • Access to menstrual hygiene: Products such as sanitary napkins etc.
  • Participation in household decisions: Healthcare for herself, household purchases, visits to family relatives)
  • Employment: in formal sector
  • Gender violence: Emancipation from femicide
  • Marriage: under the age of 18 years
  • Educational attainment: More than 10 years

Success of Policy Imperatives in this direction

Sex Ratio: at birth in 2020 increased to 942

Hygienic methods: Share of women using hygienic methods increased from 60% to 78% (2015-2020).

Access to banking facilities: Due to PMJDY, women’s bank accounts increased by 28% (2015- 2020).

Decision making: Participation in household decision-making increased marginally to 85%.

Child marriage prevention: Share of women marrying before 18 years is about 30% (both in 2015 and 2020).

Domestic violence: Domestic violence stagnating but during the Covid-19 lockdown it surged to 60%.

Budgetary grant: Share of Union Budget spent on women-related schemes has stagnated at about 5.5% since 2009, and less than 30% of which is being spent on 100% women-focused schemes.

Enhanced the maternity period: The Govt has increased the maternity period to 26 weeks under the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017 to benefit 18 lakh women workers in the organized sector.

Conclusion

  • Sometimes economic development leads to gender equality but other times, empowerment (especially in decision-making) leads to gender equality, hence both are necessary.
  • However, as the Nobel Laureate Esther Duflo rightly points out, there should be a continuous policy commitment to equality for its own sake.
  • Hence, multidimensional efforts are needed.

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Categories
RSTV Archive Yojana/RSTV

[Sansad TV] Plastic Waste Management

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  • Recently a report on Plastic Waste Management was released by Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.
  • Also the Environment Ministry has issued draft rules on Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) that mandate producers of plastic packaging material to collect all of their produce by 2024.

Introduction

Plastic is ubiquitous, it’s visibly the backbone of globalisation. Plastic, without doubt, is the miracle commodity that has uses ranging from increasing shelf lives of eatables to medical equipment and automotive.

  • Plastic products have become an integral part of our daily life as a result of which the polymer is produced at a massive scale worldwide.
  • Its broad range of application is in packaging films, wrapping materials, shopping and garbage bags, fluid containers, clothing, toys, household and industrial products, and building materials.

Why is Plastic so popular?

  1. Durability and low maintenance
  2. Low material replacement
  3. Low weight
  4. Cheaper availability

Plastic Consumption in India

  • The CPCB Report of 2019-20 states that 3.4 million metric tonnes of plastic waste is generated in India annually.
  • The global average of plastic per capita consumption is 28 kg and India has a per capita plastic consumption of 11 kg.
  • India recycles over 60 per cent of its plastic (a/c to MoHUA), which was way higher than the recycling capacity of any developed country.
  • Only nine per cent of the plastic waste produced between 1950 and 2015 was recycled globally, according to a study by researchers from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and others.

Hazards of Plastic

[A] Solid Waste generation

  • The disposal of plastics is one of the least recognized and most highly problematic areas of plastic’s ecological impact.
  • Ironically, one of plastic’s most desirable traits: its durability and resistance to decomposition, is also the source of one of its greatest liabilities when it comes to the disposal of plastics.
  • A very small amount of total plastic production (less than 10%) is effectively recycled; the remaining plastic is sent to landfills.
  • It is destined to remain entombed.

[B] Ecological Impact

(i) Groundwater and soil pollution

  • Plastic is a material made to last forever, and due to the same chemical composition, plastic cannot biodegrade; it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces.
  • When buried in a landfill, plastic lies untreated for years.
  • In the process, toxic chemicals from plastics drain out and seep into groundwater, flowing downstream into lakes and rivers.
  • The seeping of plastic also causes soil pollution and have now started resulting in presence of micro plastics in soil.

(ii) Water Pollution

  • The increased presence of plastic on the ocean surface has resulted in more serious problems.
  • Since most of the plastic debris that reaches the ocean remains floating for years as it does not decompose quickly, it leads to the dropping of oxygen level in the water.
  • It has severely affected the survival of marine species.
  • When oceanic creatures and even birds consume plastic inadvertently, they choke on it which causes a steady decline in their population.
  • In addition to suffocation, ingestion, and other macro-particulate causes of death in larger birds, fish, and mammals.

[C] Health Hazards

  • Burning of plastic results into formation of a class of flame retardants called as Halogens.
  • Collectively, these harmful chemicals are known to cause the following severe health problems: cancer, neurological damage, endocrine disruption, birth defects and child developmental disorders etc.

Plastic Waste Management (PWM Rules) in India

These rules first rolled out in 2016 were amended and named as ‘Plastic Waste Management (Amendment) Rules, 2018. Its salient features include:

Applied to: These rules shall apply to every Waste Generator, Local Body, Gram Panchayat, Manufacturer, Importer, Producer and Brand Owner.

Thickness of virgin plastic: Carry bags made of virgin or recycled plastic, shall not be less than 50 ( now 120  after Amendment in 2021) microns in thickness.

Waste Generators including institutional generators, event organizers shall not litter the plastic waste, shall segregate waste and handover to authorized agency and shall pay user fee.

Local Bodies shall be responsible for development and setting up of infrastructure for segregation, collection, storage, transportation, processing and disposal.

State Pollution Control Board (SPCB)/ Pollution Control Committee (PCC) shall be the authority for enforcement of the provisions of PWM Rules, 2018, relating to registration, manufacture of plastic etc.

The draft Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2021 has necessitated a few changes in the country’s handling of its plastic waste.

Expanded applicability: One, the amendment has extended the applicability of the rules to brand-owner, plastic waste processor, including the recycler, co-processor, etc. 

New definitions: It will also include new definitions of:

  1. Non-woven plastic bag
  2. Plastic waste processing
  3. Single-use plastic (SUP) item
  4. Thermoset plastic
  5. Thermoplastic

Increased thickness: The ministry has proposed increasing the thickness of carry bags made of virgin plastic to 120 microns from 50 microns.

Ban on certain items: The draft also proposes a ban on the manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of specific single-use plastic from January 1, 2022. These include plastic sticks for balloons, plastic flags, candy sticks, ice-cream sticks, and thermocol (extended polystyrene) for decoration.

Strategy for PWM

Issues in Plastic Management

Recycling here means ‘Down-cycling’

  • Most plastics that we claim can be recycled in India are rather down-cycled to some other material.
  • They are recyclable but recycled products are more harmful to the environment as this contains additives and colors.
  • The recycling of a virgin plastic material can be done 2-3 times only, because after every recycling, the plastic material deteriorates due to thermal pressure and its life span is reduced.
  • Hence recycling is not a safe and permanent solution for plastic waste disposal.
  • A classic example is that of PET bottles being recycled to t-shirts.

Way Forward

Given the broad range of possible actions to curb single-use plastics and their mixed impact, UN Environment has drawn up a 10-step roadmap for governments:

  1. Target the most problematic single-use plastics: by conducting a baseline assessment to identify the most problematic single-use plastic.
  2. Consider the best actions to tackle the problem: (e.g. regulatory, economic, awareness, voluntary actions), given the country’s socio-economic standing.
  3. Assess the potential social, economic and environmental impacts (positive and negative) of the preferred short-listed instruments/actions, by considering how will the poor be affected.
  4. Identify and engage key stakeholder groups – retailers, consumers, industry representatives, local government, manufacturers, civil society, environmental groups etc.
  5. Raise public awareness about the harm caused, by clearly explaining the decision and any punitive measures that will follow.
  6. Promote alternatives: Before the ban or levy comes into force, the availability of alternatives need to be assessed.
  7. Provide incentives to industry by introducing tax rebates or other conditions to support its transition.
  8. Use revenues collected from taxes or levies on single-use plastics to maximize the public good, thereby supporting environmental projects or boosting local recycling.
  9. Enforce the measure chosen effectively, by making sure that there is clear allocation of roles and responsibilities.
  10. Monitor and adjust the chosen measure if necessary and update the public on progress.

Best strategies:

Adoption of ‘Circular Economy’

  • A circular economy aims to eliminate waste, not just from recycling processes, but throughout the lifecycles of products and packaging.
  • A circular economy aims to maximize value and eliminate waste by improving the design of materials, products and business models.

Extended Producer’s Responsibilities (EPR)

  • State/ ULB to introduce ‘Buy back Depository Mechanism’ with a predefined buy back price printed on plastic products.
  • A national Framework on EPR is proposed where the producers/importers/brand owner is required to contribute to the EPR corpus fund at the central level.

Plastic Credit Mechanism

  • A producer is not required to recycle their own packaging, but to ensure that an equivalent amount of packaging waste has been recovered and recycled to meet their obligation.  
  • Producers are mandated to acquire evidence of recycling or recovery called the Plastic Credit from properly accredited processors.

Conclusion

Managing plastic waste requires effective knowledge, not only among those who produce the plastic, but also among those who handle it.

Brand owners, consumers, recyclers and regulatory authorities need to take long strides in ensuring that we first inventorize the total amount of plastic waste that we generate by means of proper calculations.

Best step would be to identify the avenues where the use of plastic can be minimised.  The brand owner and manufacturer should try and understand the fates a plastic packaging material would meet after its purpose of packaging has been served.

Last, as consumers, we should ensure that all plastic waste leaving our homes is segregated and is not contaminated with food waste.

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Categories
Burning Issues

[Burning Issue] Rural Electrification

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India has achieved its long-pending goal of 100% electrification of its villages. But there is still a long way to go in providing electricity to all households in the country. According to Central Electricity Authority (CEA), a village is considered electrified only if the Gram Panchayat certifies that the basic infrastructure has been provided to the inhabited area, including Dalit hamlets, and 10% of the households are electrified.

Rural Electrification in India

  • Rural electrification is considered to be the backbone of the rural economy.
  • The electricity generation capacity in India is the fifth largest in the world.
  • India is the sixth largest consumer of electricity and accounts for 3.4 percent of the global energy consumption.
  • The year 2022, has been earmarked for achieving the target of ‘24×7 Power for All’.

Rural electrification has five major facets:

  1. Setting up of Rural Electricity Infrastructure
  2. Providing connectivity to households
  3. Adequate supply of desired quality of power
  4. Supply of electricity at affordable rates
  5. Providing clean, environmentally benign and sustainable power in efficient way

When a village is called an Electrified Village?

Prior to October 1997

A Village should be classified as electrified if electricity is being used within its revenue area for any purpose whatsoever.

After October 1997

A village will be deemed to be electrified if the electricity is used in the inhabited locality, within the revenue boundary of the village for any purpose whatsoever.

As per the new definition, a village would be declared as electrified, if:

  • Basic infrastructure such as Distribution Transformer and Distribution lines are provided in the inhabited locality as well as the Dalit Basti hamlet where it exists.
  • Electricity is provided to public places like Schools, Panchayat Office, Health Centers, Dispensaries, Community centers etc.
  • The number of households electrified should be at least 10% of the total number of households in the village.

What is Rural Electrification provides for?

  1. Increase in agriculture yield.
  2. Business of Small and household enterprises shall grow resulting into new avenues for employment.
  3. Improvement in Health, Education, Banking (ATM) services.
  4. Improvement in accessibility to radio, telephone, television, internet and mobile.
  5. Betterment in social security due to availability of electricity.
  6. Accessibility of electricity to schools, panchayats, hospitals and police stations.
  7. Rural areas shall get increased opportunities for comprehensive development.

Energy source and Percentage Share in installed capacity

National Electricity Policy 2005

  • In compliance with section 3 of the Electricity Act 2003 the Central Government notified the National Electricity Policy.
  • The National Electricity Policy aims at laying guidelines for accelerated development of the power sector, providing supply of electricity to all areas and protecting interests of consumers and other stakeholders keeping in view availability of energy resources, technology available to exploit these resources, economics of generation using different resources, and energy security issues.
  • The National Electricity Policy was evolved in consultation with and considering views of the State Governments, Central Electricity Authority (CEA), Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) and other stakeholders.

The aims and objectives of the policy

  1. Access to Electricity – Available for all households in next five years
  2. Availability of Power – Demand to be fully met by 2012. Energy and peaking shortages to be overcome and adequate spinning reserve to be available.
  3. Supply of Reliable and Quality Power of specified standards in an efficient manner and at reasonable rates. Per capita availability of electricity to be increased to over 1000 units by 2012.
  4. Minimum lifeline consumption of 1 unit/household/day as a merit good by year 2012.
  5. Financial Turnaround and Commercial Viability of Electricity Sector.
  6. Protection of consumers’ interests.

National Rural Electrification Policy, 2006

  1. Goals include provision of access to electricity to all households by the year 2009, quality and reliable power supply at reasonable rates, and minimum lifeline consumption of 1 unit/household/day as a merit good by year 2012.
  2. For villages/habitations where grid connectivity would not be feasible or not cost effective, off-grid solutions based on stand-alone systems may be taken up for supply of electricity. Where these also are not feasible and if only alternative is to use isolated lighting technologies like solar photovoltaic, these may be adopted. However, such remote villages may not be designated as electrified.
  3. State government should, within 6 months, prepare and notify a rural electrification plan which should map and detail the electrification delivery mechanism. The plan may be linked to and integrated with district development plans. The plan should also be intimated to the appropriate commission.
  4. Gram panchayat shall issue the first certificate at the time of the village becoming eligible for declaration as electrified. Subsequently, the Gram Panchayat shall certify and confirm the electrified status of the village as on 31st March each year.
  5. The state government should set up a committee at the district level within 3 months, under the chairmanship of chairperson of the Zilla Panchayat and with representations from district level agencies, consumer associations, and important stakeholders with adequate representation of women.
  6. The district committee would coordinate and review the extension of electrification in the district and consumer satisfaction, etc.
  7. Panchayat Raj institutions would have a supervisory / advisory role.
  8. Institutional arrangements for backup services and technical support to systems based on non-conventional sources of energy will have to be created by the state government.

National policy for renewable energy-based micro and mini-grids

  • Introduced by Ministry of New and Renewable Energy
  • It targets setting up of at least 10,000 projects with a minimum capacity of 500MW by 2021
  • The draft policy proposes to extend energy services beyond lighting

Draft National Electricity Policy 2021

  • NEP 2021 covers multiple areas– grid operation, power markets, regulatory process, energy efficiency, optimal generation mix, transmission, distribution and many more.
  • The draft talks about the creation of Electric Vehicle charging stations, Smart meters, power markets, environment and more.
  • Ministry of Power has created a committee of experts to submit suggestions to the draft NEP 2021 within two months of the release of the draft.
  • The members of the committee include members from state governments, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), NITI Aayog, and the Central Electricity Authority.

Areas of improvement:

  • It lacks a fair and coherent approach to energy transition from coal to renewable.
  • It mentions the addition of coal capacity, despite the clear writing on the wall that thermal power is becoming unviable.
  • New coal capacity should be considered only if shown essential based on rigorous modelling studies.
  • Since many coal plants are going to retire, NEP should give policy directions to generating companies to take responsibility post-retirement for waste management as well as restoration of the land, water bodies and air quality in their project areas.
  • Prevention of electricity accidents requires focus, the current NEP has provisions for efforts to build consumer awareness, but this is sadly missing in the new draft. 

What is the actual scenario of rural electrification?

  • Recently Union government announced it has achieved 100% rural electrification.
  • The definition of electrification was limited to the provision of basic infrastructure such as transformers, of electricity in public places like schools and panchayats, and electrification of at least 10% households in the village.
  • India continues to harbour energy poverty with 31 million rural households and about five million urban households still unconnected to the electricity grid.
    • A significant portion of connected rural households are yet to get adequate quantity and quality of supply.
What are the plans of the government on electrification?
  • Union government under Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY) and Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS) planning to provide universal electrification.
  • By which it has an ambitious target of connecting all remaining households by the end of March 2019 and made budgetary allocations to cover the cost of electrification.
  • As part of a Centre-State joint initiative on 24×7 ‘Power for All’, State governments have already committed to ensuring round-the-clock supply to all households from April 2019.

What are the challenges for India’s electrification target?

  • Regional imbalances in electricity access is persisting in seven States namely Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha, Jharkhand, Assam, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, which account for 90% of un-electrified households.
  • Coincidentally, these States are ranked poorly in social development indices and house about two-thirds of the population living below the poverty line.
  • There are a range of implementation shortcomings in universal electrification by state governments due to sluggish finance structure of the union government.
  • Most of the Indian power distribution companies (discoms) in these states are bankrupt and are unable to purchase power and provide it to consumers.
  • As a result, discoms don’t have the capacity to sign power purchase agreements (PPAs).
  • Add to this the issue of aggregate technical and commercial (AT&C) losses, heightened by the rampant problem of power theft.
  • Given the context, it is uncertain whether the goal of electrifying all ‘willing households’ by March 2019 would translate into universal access to electricity.

Related Schemes

(1) Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY)

Aim

  • To ensure electrification of all the un-electrified villages by 2017 in mission mode
  • The Scheme draws its inspiration from the similar pioneering scheme implemented by the Government of Gujarat
  • It will enable to initiate much awaited reforms in the rural areas

Objectives

  • To provide electrification to all villages
  • Feeder separation to ensure sufficient power to farmers and regular supply to other consumers
  • Improvement of Sub-transmission and distribution network to improve the quality and reliability of the supply
  • Metering to reduce the losses

 (2) Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana –“Saubhagya”

  • The Saubhagya is a scheme to ensure electrification of all willing households in the country in rural as well as urban areas.
  • It was launched in September 2017.
  • The Rural Electrification Corporation Limited (REC) is the nodal agency for the operationalization of the scheme throughout the country.

Objective

  • To provide energy access to all by last mile connectivity and electricity connections to all remaining un-electrified households in rural as well as urban areas
  • To achieve universal household electrification in the country

Beneficiaries of the project

  • The beneficiaries for free electricity connections would be identified using Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC) 2011 data.
  • However, un-electrified households not covered under the SECC data would also be provided electricity connections under the scheme on payment of Rs. 500 which shall be recovered by DISCOMs in 10 installments through electricity bill.
  • The solar power packs of 200 to 300 Wp with battery bank for un-electrified households located in remote and inaccessible areas, comprises Five LED lights, One DC fan, One DC power plug.
  • It also includes Repair and Maintenance (R&M) for 5 years.

Expected outcomes of the scheme

What are the issues involved?

  1. Definition: Only 1 in 10 households need to have electricity supply for the village to be officially electrified. According to 2011 census, only 55.3% of all rural households had access to electricity
  2. Quality: Around 67% of electrified villages suffer from erratic and unreliable power supply. Low voltage was widely reported.
  3. The distribution transformers catering to villages had the capacity to support the load of only 10% of the households and thus the instances of overloading and transformer breakdowns are significant.
  4. Only 7%–10% rural locations receive supply during the full evening hours (5 pm to 11 pm).
  5. In Bihar, Jharkhand and UP, more than one-third of electrified households received less than four hours of supply during the day and voltage fluctuations are also common.
  6. Metering: More than 28% electrified villages reported overcharging and ad-hoc billing. One-time connection charges also differed from village to village.
    • There are also instances of billing delays, particularly in issuing the first bill after connection. This increases the likelihood of payment defaults leading to disconnection of supply.
  7. Accountability: 52% villages face issues with contractors, repair persons and power distribution companies. Either no one turns up to address complaints or repairs are done after paying bribes or residents get repairs done at their own cost.
  8. Inaccessibility: Geographical terrain is posing a problem to grid expansion in at least 13% of all villages.
  9. NPA: Banks do not lend to mini-grid developers due to poor recovery of loans
  10. Kerosene dependence: Despite having electricity connection.
  11. Affordability: Among the most energy deprived states, while most villages and more than two-thirds of the households had electricity connections, less than 40 per cent had meaningful access to electricity.
  12. Financial Issues: High upfront cost is the major reason behind consumer disinterest in taking up and sustaining  an electricity connection.
  13. Implementation and operational roadblocks: Network investments for rural electrification have been slower than planned. Lack of timely network investments jeopardizes the provision of reliable, affordable power supply.
  14. Operational issues: In the first phase of RGGVY, rural franchisees were expected to manage distribution operations in newly electrified areas. However, most of them are not operational and DDUGJY does not envisage such franchisees.

Way forward

  • Metering and data management using ICT: Use information technology to monitor metering at feeder and distribution transformer levels to allow proper auditing of power supply.
    • Parameters such as DT failure rate, hours of supply (especially during evening hours), metering and billing information, information on consumer disconnections, new connections for entrepreneurial use, electrification of rural institutions., could be tracked and reported on the national dashboards on a monthly basis for every district or division.
    • With usage technology to monitor hours of supply, the duration of supply and interruptions can be recorded without manual intervention and tracked at a disaggregated level. This information can be used by SERCs and consumers to make DISCOMs more accountable for power supply.
  • Expansion:
    • The first step towards the target would be to provide new connections to un-electrified households and legalising existing illegal connections.
    • Improving uptake of connections by addressing financial hurdles and awareness barriers is to be taken up.
    • Financial constraint: While BPL households already receive a free connection under the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY), APL families could be given a low-cost EMI based connection.
  • Awareness: Empowering and encouraging local authorities to organise awareness campaigns and enrolment camps in habitations exhibiting limited awareness are also essential.
  • Best practice: Bihar has currently evolved a good model both awareness campaigns subsidy for APL families.
  • Supply situation: Improving the supply situation for already electrified households is to be done.
  • DISCOM reforms: DISCOMs need to better plan for their infrastructure, factoring in near-term increase in demand, strengthening maintenance, and improving supply.
  • Innovative Business: As managing rural customers, particularly in remote areas, is a challenge innovative business models need to be explored.
  • Accountability: There is a need to hold DISCOMs accountable for monitoring of supply quality and operation and maintenance efforts in rural areas in order to ensure uninterrupted supply.
  • Tariff changes:
    • In many states, small industrial and commercial consumers pay tariff rates comparable to large industrial units and commercial complexes. There needs to be innovation in tariff design to encourage home-based or small enterprises in newly electrified villages
    • Currently, supply of one unit of power costs the DISCOMs about Rs. 7 and this cost will most likely increase at a rate of more than 4% per unit in the coming years. As such costs will be unaffordable for many consumers, and with the contribution of cross-subsidies reducing, substantial subsidy support will be necessary.
  • Research:
    • Even after the targets of connections are met, there is a need for a national institution, with rural electrification as its key focus.
    • Its mandate need not be to operate the rural distribution businesses but to provide knowledge and financial support to DISCOMs for maintaining and strengthening the rural network and ensuring supply.
    • Success mainly depends on curbing DISCOM losses and ensuring consumer honesty. It is hoped that electrification would lead to improved consumer satisfaction, as electricity truly becomes an enabler of prosperity in rural India.
    • Concerted efforts to monitor supply hours for rural, remote and newly electrified households are needed.

Discuss how the rural electrification has the potential to become a driver of rural economic growth. (250 words)

Post your answers in comments below.

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Categories
Burning Issues

[Burning Issue] India’s Coal Crisis

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With rising power demands in the domestic sector, Indian utilities are facing a severe shortage of coal, which is the primary fuel powering 70 percent of India’s energy consumption. More than half of the country’s 135 coal-fired power plants are running on fumes – as coal stocks run critically low. India’s thermal power plants currently have an average of four days worth of coal stock against a recommended level of 15-30 days, with a number of states highlighting concerns about blackouts as a result of the coal shortage.

Coal has become a priceless commodity of late in a white-hot market with an over 100 percent jump in prices, which is driven mainly by China and India – the two largest consumers of thermal coal globally.

What is the extent of the current coal crisis?

A number of states including Delhi, Punjab, and Rajasthan have raised concerns about potential blackouts as a result of low coal inventory at thermal power plants and have already reported load shedding. India is the world’s second-largest importer of coal despite also being home to the fourth-largest coal reserves in the world.

Increase in power demand

  • The shortage in coal is a result of a sharp uptick in power demand as the economy recovered from the effects of the pandemic.

Global factors

  • A sharp increase in the international prices of coal due to a shortage in China have also contributed to the coal shortage.
  • Unseasonal rains in Indonesia, Covid-induced production cuts in Australia have ensured a once-in-a-lifetime bull run in coal prices.
  • A balance is possible if and when the global supply chain – both in terms of prices as well as availability – improves.
  • China consumes nearly half of the coal produced globally and Indonesia and Australia happen to be two of the largest exporters.
  • India sources 43 per cent of its imported coal from Indonesia and 26 per cent from Australia.

Low accumulation of stocks by Thermal power plants

  • Low accumulation of stock by thermal power plants has contributed to the coal shortage in India.
  • Heavy rains in coal bearing areas had also led to a slowdown in the supply of coal to thermal plants.
  • Coal and lignite fired thermal power plants account for about 54 per cent of India’s installed power generation capacity but currently account for about 70 per cent of power generated in the country.

Increase in the price of the other fuels

  • Incidentally, the demand for coal has also gone up because other sources of generating power – natural gas, for instance – have become even costlier.
  • The price of natural gas, too, has increased nearly 100 per cent in 2021 alone.
  • This has hampered the plan to grow the share of renewable energy as well.

Legacy issues

  • Legacy issues of heavy dues of coal companies from certain states viz., Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, UP, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh also contributed to this coal shortage.
  • Power plants that usually rely on imports are now heavily dependent on Indian coal, adding further pressure to already stretched domestic supplies.

Why is the demand for natural gas surging?

  • Nations across the world are committed to reducing carbon emissions. China has committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2060.
  • To reduce its emissions, China needs to give up coal, reduce consumption of other dirty fossil fuels and adopt cleaner energy such as natural gas and renewables.
  • The country is also taking harsh measures to reduce pollution in Beijing before the February 2022 Winter Olympics and thus display its commitment to decarburization.
  • The targets China has set for itself is seen to have escalated the current energy crisis in the nation where two-thirds of the electricity was generated from burning coal.
  • European Union has targeted to become carbon neutral by 2050 and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030 compared to 2005 levels.

Why are prices between domestic and global coal widening?

  • Domestic coal prices in India are largely decided by Coal India. An increase in coal prices generally has a knock on effect on power prices and inflation..
  • Coal India has kept prices steady over the last year despite global coal prices rising steeply in the same period.
  • Meanwhile, Asia’s coal price benchmarks have hit record highs in the recent times, buoyed by global demand for power generation fuels as economies open up.
  • A major power crisis in China is the latest event driving global demand for the fuel.

Why are utilities unable to pass on higher costs?

  • India’s power tariffs, set by the respective states, are among the lowest in the world as state-run distribution companies have absorbed higher input costs to keep tariffs steady.
  • This has left many of these companies deeply indebted, with cumulative liabilities running into billions of dollars.
  • This triggered delayed payments to power producers, often affecting cash flows and disincentivising further investment in the electricity generation sector.
  • Indian power producers locked in long-term agreements with distribution utilities often cannot pass on higher input costs unless clauses are included in their contracts.

What does the deepening energy crisis mean for India?

  • The sharp rise in global coal prices came as a boon for domestic suppliers such as Coal India.
  • As the supply crunch in the key overseas markets grew and prices soared, the demand for coal from domestic sources climbed. Coal India and other producers increased output, yet supply remains quite tight.
  • Over 70% of India’s power is generated from burning coal while the share of natural gas is just about 5%. Thus, rising natural gas prices had a limited impact on the cost of power generation in India.
  • India, however, suffered a scare when the inventory of coal with power plants reached critically low levels, as demand surged about 11%. The situation was resolved by diverting coal away from non-power uses.
  • The power demand is set to climb higher when more restrictions are eased, including those on cinema halls and multiplexes.
  • While efforts are on to provide an uninterrupted supply of coal to power plants, non-power users are likely to suffer.
  • Indian households were more affected by the rise in prices of petroleum products as consumption of cooking gas, petrol and diesel grew.

What does it mean for global recovery?

  • Higher fuel prices are only one part of the problem. Temporary closures of factories in China will slow the repair of global value chains that broke down last year when countries locked down their economies.
  • These shutdowns will lead to another round of disruption in the supply of parts to makers of various goods across the globe.
  • The temporary shutdowns also mean missed deadlines for delivery of merchandise ahead of the November-January holiday season sales in many parts of the world.
  • When power rationing was ordered, factories in China were racing to meet the global and domestic demand for everything from apparel to mobile phones and other gadgets.
  • Higher fuel prices and shortages will add to inflationary pressures in the global economy and hurt the recovery of demand in lower-income economies.

What are the recent Reforms in Coal Sector?

  • Commercial mining of coal allowed, with 50 blocks to be offered to the private sector.
  • Entry norms will be liberalized as it has done away with the regulation requiring power plants to use “washed” coal.
  • Coal blocks to be offered to private companies on revenue sharing basis in place of fixed cost.
  • Coal gasification/liquefaction to be incentivized through rebate in revenue share.
  • Coal bed methane (CBM) extraction rights to be auctioned from Coal India’s coal mines.

Challenges posed

  • The desire to cut its reliance on heavily polluting coal burning power plants has been a major challenge for the government in recent years.
  • The question of how India can achieve a balance between meeting demand for electricity from its almost 1.4bn people has to be answered.

Way Forward

Ramp-up domestic coal production

  • The efforts are being taken to fill the shortage of coal from domestic mines and to do so the government is working closely with coal producing companies to ramp up domestic production of coal.

Reduce demand-supply mismatches

  • Load shading is not new to India. Rationing of power supply in rural and semi-urban areas will be the immediate solution for the power distress in industrial areas.

Rationalize the coal imports

  • India will need to amplify its imports despite the financial cost. The gap in the coal demand after domestic production has to be filled by the imports from Indonesia and Australia.

Focus on Hydro-power generation and natural gal

  • India has the immense potential in the Hydro-power generation and is among the most important sector for generating electricity after thermal power plants.
  • The sector performs at its peak around the rainy season which typically extends from June to October.
  • There could be a larger role for natural gas to play, even with global prices currently surging.

Increasing the share of Renewable energy

  • Experts advocate a mix of coal and clean sources of energy as a possible long-term solution.
  • It’s not completely possible to transition and it’s never a good strategy to transition 100% to renewables without a backup.
  • Long term investment in multiple power sources aside a crisis like the current one can be averted with better planning.

Increased coordination

  • There is need for closer coordination between Coal India Limited – the largest supplier of coal in the country and other stakeholders.
  • For now, the government is working with state-run enterprises to ramp up production and mining to reduce the gap between supply and demand.

Decentralized power generation

  • The main issue is that we are dependent on large, centralized power generation.
  • The only way our power sector can absorb shocks better is if large power plants are augmented by decentralized generation sources at village level.
  • This can be a template for better resilience to future power crises.

Coal stocking norms

  • To avoid such a crisis situation in future, the Ministry of Power has worked out a strategy which includes tweaking the coal stocking norms. If the power plants do not follow them, then there will be a penal provision.
  • To overcome the storage issue in the generation of electricity from renewable sources, the government is working on a provision for creating more storage facilities in the grid.

Conclusion

India can learn a lesson from Europe’s power crisis. While Europe has gas power plants to stand in, India doesn’t have similar options. As we move more towards greening our power sources, we need to provision for paying for standby thermal generation to avoid a mega-crisis. Adequate liquidity for backup reserve capacity needs to be planned and provisioned for.

Probably, the present situation is a good opportunity to rethink and fine-tune the energy policy without further delay. Bits and pieces reforms will not work anymore, as the chain has to been broken and a complete overhaul is required.


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Yojana/RSTV

[Yojana Archive] SHG-led Women Empowerment

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September 2021: Nari Shakti
  • The Government of India has drawn several policy measures to achieve “gender equality” and “gender empowerment”.
  • One of such measures is the promotion and economic activation of Self-Help groups (SHGs).

What are SHGs?

  • Voluntary associations: SHGs are voluntary associations of economically poor, usually drawn from the same socio-economic background.
  • Community action: They often resolve to come together for a common purpose of solving their issues and problems through self-help and community action.

SHG-led Women Empowerment: A timeline

  • ‘Grameen Bank’ model: In 1984, for the first time, the concept of social mobilisation and business development through organising of SHGs was introduced based on Prof. Yunus’s ‘Grameen Bank’ model.
  • NABARD intervention: Initially, the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), along with NGOs designed and developed the promotional ecosystem, including the SHGs-Bank linkage programme.
  • RBI recognition: In the year 1990, the RBI recognised SHGs as an alternate credit flow model.

Thus, SHGs were accepted as group-based clients of banks for both deposit and credit linkages, collateral-free lending, and lending to groups without specification of purpose/ project.

Various committees related

[A] Prof. S. R. Hashim (1997) committee

  • It reviewed the poverty alleviation and employment generation programmes of the Ministry of Rural Development.
  • It recommended shifting focus from an individual beneficiary approach to a group-based business development approach.
  • Hence, Integrated Rural Development Programme (lRDP) and its associated schemes were merged.
  • A new scheme called ‘Swamjayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana’ (SGSY) was launched to provide self-employment to below the poverty line households through the formation of SHGs.

[B] Prof. R. Radhakrishna (2009) Committee

  • It reviewed the performance of SGSY and suggested changes in its design from a ‘top-down poverty alleviation’ approach to a ‘community-managed livelihood’ approach.
  • Emphasis was given to linking SHG members to social welfare programs.
  • SGSY was restructured into National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM) to provide sharper focus on poverty alleviation.
  • Now, the NRLM has been renamed as Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana — National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM).

DAY-NRLM & Women Empowerment

DAY- RLM has a twin objective

  1. Organising rural poor women into SHGs; and
  2. Constantly nurturing and assisting them to take up economic activities.
  3. It aims to reduce poverty by enabling poor households to access gainful self-employment and skilled wage employment opportunities, through building strong grassroots institutions for the poor.
  4. The programme aims to ensure that at least one-woman member from each rural poor household (about 9 crores) is brought into women SHGs.

Principles of SHG movement: The Dashasutras

The SHG movement follows five principles or ‘Panchasutra’ viz:

  1. Regular Meetings
  2. Regular Savings
  3. Regular Inter-Loaning          
  4. Timely Repayment of Loans and
  5. Up-to-date books of Accounts

In addition, five additional principles now followed by SHGs are

  1. Health, Nutrition and Sanitation
  2. Education
  3. Active involvement in Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs)
  4. Access to Entitlements and Schemes and
  5. Creating Opportunities for Sustainable Livelihoods.

These taken together are called – ‘Dashasutras’ under DAY-NRLM.

Women Entrepreneurship and Economic Progress

  • There are mainly three central aspects of entrepreneurship:
  • Uncertainty and risk
  • Managerial competence and
  • Creative opportunism or innovation
  • Hence, promotion of entrepreneurship through SGs would require empowerment of millions of SHGs.
  • If women SHGs are empowered they can ensure job opportunity by effectively utilising available resources into profitable products as per the local need and the acceptability of consumers.

DAY-NRLM & Empowering Process

The nucleus of DAY-NRLM has been built around a basic human nature of the feeling of self-worth and self-help. Following four pillars of the scheme ensure the empowerment process in DAY-NRLM:

(1) Social Mobilisation, Formation and Promotion Of Sustainable Institutions Of Poor:

  • These community-based organisations adhere to core principles of democratic governance and financial accountability.
  • It participates effectively in local governance and development, mediate livelihood concerns and social issues affecting the poor members, facilitates access of the poor to entitlements and public services.

(2) Pillar of Financial Inclusion:

  • Here focus is laid on both demand and supply-side interventions.
  • Demand-side interventions ensure the promotion of effective book-keeping: provision of capital support to SHGs; creating a culture of prompt repayments of loans etc.
  • Supply-side interventions confirm the formation of sub-committees of State-level Bankers Committee in all states; bankers’ sensitisation on concept, practices, etc.

(3) Livelihood:

  • The focus is on strengthening existing and new income sources, promotion of opportunities. The scheme empowered women SHGs to take up non-farm livelihoods activities too.
  • Start-Up Village Entrepreneurship Programme (SVEP) promoted rural start-ups in the non-farm sector.

(4) Social Inclusion and Convergence:

  • Platforms established by SHGs are leveraged for better implementation of multiple public welfare schemes/programmes.

Issue & Challenges

The SHG movement traversed from the “thrift and saving” in the 1980s to the “livelihood” based economic empowerment method. Despite such progress, it is suffering from many challenges, as discussed below:

  • Universal social mobilization: Identification and inclusion of the poor remains a challenge. There is need to develop community resource persons for participatory identification of poor.
  • Training, Capacity Building & Skill Upgradation: There is lack of appropriate training plans, quality training and availability of expert training institutions.
  • Universal Financial Inclusion: Lack of uniform financial management systems at all tiers of SHGs has impacted the growth in bank accounts, improvement in financial literacy, and absorption capacity of community members.
  • Multiple & Diversified Livelihoods: There is lack of progressive leadership for inclusiveness of small-sized enterprises at the federal level. Market/ forward linkages, is largely missing.
  • Support Structure at the Community: Creation of business environment, enhancement of skills, and identification of value chains with proper clustering across the state along with positioning competent human resources in the SHGs ecosystem are required.
  • Schematic Convergence: Field level schematic convergence is the need of the hour to bring synergies directly or indirectly with the institutions of poor.

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RSTV Archive Yojana/RSTV

[SansadTV] Silver Economy: Challenges & Opportunities

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Context

  • India’s elderly population is on the rise.
  • As per surveys, the share of elders, as a percentage of the total population in the country, is expected to increase from around 8.6% in 2011 to almost 12.5% by 2026, and surpass 19.5% by 2050.
  • Given this sharp rise there is an urgent need to create a more robust eldercare ecosystem in India, especially in the post-COVID phase.
  • The government is exploring various ways to promote the idea of silver economy.

Silver Economy: An Explainer

  • The Silver Economy is dedicated to the elderly in our societies.
  • It is the system of production, distribution and consumption of goods and services aimed at using the purchasing potential of older and ageing people.
  • It seeks to satisfy their consumption, living and health needs.
  • It impacts every market and industry, such as: home accommodation, transport, food industry, insurance, robotics, health and e-health, communications, internet, sports and leisure.

Why focus on senior citizens?

  • Drivers of economy: Older people are no longer at the periphery of the economy. Seniors are now significant players in the economy and their role will get even bigger.
  • High income/savings: Since older people tend to have both high incomes compared to younger populations and high needs, they are major consumers.
  • High population: There are currently 750 million seniors in the world, and that figure will cross the 1 billion marks by 2030.
  • Wealth accumulation: Seniors are the wealthiest age cohort in the world, together with older professionals (45-64 years).

Issues

  • Many of the world’s “new seniors” will be in Asia and less wealthy than the current average.
  • Burden of diseases
  • Still, because they are relatively richer and relatively older, Western economies will remain the top “silver economies” into the next decade.

Issues in India

India is a young country with elaborate socio-cultural intricacies and an aging population.

  • Dependency: A large section of the senior population in India is still dependent on the joint family set up for their senior care and post-retirement needs, with financial planning for retirement taking a back seat.
  • High population: An increase in the number of seniors in India will reduce the percentage of India’s human resource capital and its ability to drive economic growth.
  • Increased retirement age: Many seniors in India expects to work beyond retirement age to raising the retirement age in India as longevity, expanded social benefits, increased homeownership, etc.
  • Second-life income: In developed economies a major share of the retirement income comes from social security. While in emerging markets like India, people rely on their personal savings as a primary source.
  • Low insurance penetration: This highlights the inadequacy and underscores the critical need to streamline retirement planning schemes and strengthen the pension programs in the country. There is a lacks of social security framework.

Key initiatives

As the senior population grows in size, India will need to look at them both as an important consumer segment as well as an essential part of its ambitious growth plan.

An understanding of their needs, preferences, and lifestyles will be critical in unlocking the economic potential of this segment.

[1] National Policy for Senior Citizens

  • The government of India has already taken steps in this direction with the introduction of the Draft National Policy for Senior Citizens 2020.
  • The Draft NPSC seeks to create a strong silver economy that caters to the new and evolving needs of seniors in the country.

[2] SAGE Project

  • A scheme has been launched to promote private enterprises that bring out innovation in products and processes for the benefit of the elders.
  • This project is known as Senior Aging Growth Engine or SAGE.
  • It will identify, evaluate, verify and aggregate the needs of elder persons to deliver products, solutions and services.

[3] SACRED Portal

  • Another portal SACRED- Senior Able Citizens for Re-Employment in Dignity, recently launched will connect the senior citizens with job providers in the private sector.

Way forward

(1) Universal pension program:

  • Income security in later years stems from multiple sources such as pensions, insurances (medical and life), investments.
  • This provides an opportunity for India to create a universal pension program for its 1.3 billion people.

(2) Financial incentives:

  • There is a pressing need to promote and facilitate fiscal planning in the early years and supplement it with senior-friendly tax structures and integrated insurance products.
  • Such measures can help provide multiple income options to seniors to help them embrace a lifestyle of their choice.

(3) Regulatory mechanism:

  • Income generated from savings is the go-to for most elders.
  • A regulatory mechanism will set a viable base rate for the interest accrued on senior citizen deposits and ensure market dips don’t affect retirement income and senior-specific saving plans.

Conclusion

  • As the demography undergoes changes of such massive proportions, we need to figure out ways to supplement the impending deficit.
  • Seniors can help elevate the economy by being active participants in both the income generation and income expenditure side of the market.
  • Keeping senior citizens meaningfully engaged, will also help them lead fuller lives and help achieve a healthy work-life balance.
  • This necessitates robust policy support to implement programs that encourage and simplify the process for seniors to opt for post-retirement employment.
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Burning Issues

[Burning Issue] Pandora Papers Leak

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Global elites continue to exploit the cracks in tax laws and the lax jurisdiction in tax havens to ring-fence their assets, through complex offshore structures, from scrutiny by authorities. The leak of financial documents, called the Pandora Papers, follows similar such exposés in the past, for instance, the Panama Papers and the Paradise Papers. While the earlier revelations had forced governments to tighten the regulatory architecture, owing to worries over these channels being used to launder money and evade taxes, the uncovering of this trove of 12 million documents now only underlines the challenges that the authorities continue to face.

There are at least 300 persons of Indian nationality in the Pandora Papers. The papers consist of as many as 12 million documents from 14 companies in offshore tax havens with details of ownership of 29,000 offshore companies and Trusts.

Let us look at the issue in detail.

What is Pandora papers leak?

  • The Pandora Papers show that over 300 Indians have set up such offshore structures. It is the largest trove of leaked data exposing tax haven secrecy in history.
  • It includes over 11.9 million leaked files from 14 global corporate services firms which set up about 29,000 off-the-shelf companies and private trusts in not just obscure tax jurisdictions.
  • Such structures are typically used to not pay taxes, to launder money gotten through illegal means, and to sequester assets.
  • They provide a rare window into the hidden world of offshore finance, casting light on the financial secrets of some of the world’s richest people.
  • Businessmen, who have declared themselves bankrupt before recovery tribunals, hold billions through such offshore entities. Some have set up offshore trusts to hold assets.
  • The use of such structures may not necessarily be illegal; they do raise questions over the nature of the transactions.
  • These documents relate to the ultimate ownership of assets ‘settled’ (or placed) in private offshore trusts and the investments including cash, shareholding, and real estate properties, held by the offshore entities.

What do these papers reveal?

  • They reveal how the rich, the famous and the notorious, many of whom were already on the radar of investigative agencies, set up complex multi-layered trust structures for estate planning.
  • This is particularly in jurisdictions that are loosely regulated for tax purposes, but characterized by air-tight secrecy laws.
  • The purposes for which trusts are set up are many, and some genuine too.

But a scrutiny of the papers also shows how the objective of many is two-fold:

  1. Tax Avoidance: to hide their real identities and distance themselves from the offshore entities so that it becomes near impossible for the tax authorities to reach them and,
  2. Tax Evasion: to safeguard investments — cash, shareholdings, real estate, art, aircraft, and yachts — from creditors and law enforcers.

How is Pandora different from the Panama Papers and Paradise Papers?

  • The Panama and Paradise Papers dealt largely with offshore entities set up by individuals and corporates respectively.
  • The Pandora Papers investigation shows how businesses disguised as Trusts have created a new normal with rising concerns of money laundering, terrorism funding, and tax evasion.

What is a Trust?

  • A trust can be described as a fiduciary arrangement where a third party, referred to as the trustee, holds assets on behalf of individuals or organizations that are to benefit from it.
  • It is generally used for estate planning purposes and succession planning.
  • It helps large business families to consolidate their assets — financial investments, shareholding, and real estate property.
  • A trust comprises three key parties:
    1. Settlor — one who sets up, creates, or authors a trust;
    2. Trustee — one who holds the assets for the benefit of a set of people named by the ‘settlor’; and
    3. Beneficiaries — to whom the benefits of the assets are bequeathed.
  • A trust is not a separate legal entity, but its legal nature comes from the ‘trustee’.
  • At times, the ‘settlor’ appoints a ‘protector’, who has the powers to supervise the trustee, and even remove the trustee and appoint a new one.

Is setting up a trust in India or one offshore/outside the country illegal?

  • The Indian Trusts Act, 1882 gives legal basis to the concept of trusts.
  • While Indian laws do not see trusts as a legal person/ entity, they do recognize the trust as an obligation of the trustee to manage and use the assets settled in the trust for the benefit of ‘beneficiaries’.
  • India also recognizes offshore trusts i.e., trusts set up in other tax jurisdictions.

If it’s legal, what’s the investigation about?

  • There are legitimate reasons for setting up trusts — and many set them up for genuine estate planning.
  • A businessperson can set conditions for ‘beneficiaries’ to draw income being distributed by the trustee or inherit assets after her/his demise.
  • For instance, while allotting shares in the company to say, four siblings, the father promoter set conditions that a sibling can get the dividend from the shares and claim ownership of the shares.
  • This could be to ensure ownership of the enterprise within the family.
  • But trusts are also used by some as secret vehicles to park ill-gotten money, hide incomes to evade taxes, protect wealth from law enforcers.

Why are the trusts set up overseas?

Overseas trusts offer remarkable secrecy because of stringent privacy laws in the jurisdiction they operate.  From the investigation, some key tacit reasons why people set up trusts are:

(1) Maintain a degree of separation

  • Businesspersons set up private offshore trusts to project a degree of separation from their personal assets.

(2) Hunt for enhanced secrecy

  • Offshore trusts offer enhanced secrecy to businesspersons, given their complex structures. The Income-Tax Department can get information only with the financial investigation agency or international tax authority.

(3) Avoid tax in the guise of planning:

  • Businesspersons avoid their NRI children being taxed on income from their assets by transferring all the assets to a trust.
  • Further, the tax rates in overseas jurisdictions are much lower than the 30% personal I-T rate in India plus surcharges, including those on the super-rich (those with annual income over Rs 1 crore).

(4) Prepare for estate duty eventuality

  • There is pervasive fear that estate duty, which was abolished back in 1985 when Rajiv Gandhi was PM, will likely be re-introduced soon.
  • Setting up trusts in advance, business families have been advised, will protect the next generation from paying the death/ inheritance tax, which was as high as 85 per cent.

(5) Flexibility in a capital-controlled economy

  • India is a capital-controlled economy. Individuals can invest only $250,000 a year under the Reserve Bank of India’s Liberalized Remittance Scheme (LRS).
  • To get over this, businesspersons have turned NRIs, and under FEMA, NRIs can remit $1 million a year in addition to their current annual income, outside India.

(6) The NRI angle

  • Offshore trusts, as noted earlier, are recognised under Indian laws, but legally, it is the trustees — not the ‘settlor’ or the ‘beneficiaries’ — who are the owners of the properties and income of the trust.
  • An NRI trustee or offshore trustee taking instructions from another overseas ‘protector’ ensures they are taxed in India only on their total income from India.

Can offshore Trusts be seen as resident Indians for tax purposes?

  • There are certain grey areas of taxation where the Income-Tax Department is in contestation with offshore trusts.
  • After the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, 2015, came into existence, resident Indians — if they are ‘settlors’, ‘trustees’, or ‘beneficiaries’ — have to report their foreign financial interests and assets.
  • NRIs are not required to do so — even though, as mentioned above, the I-T Department has been sending notices to NRIs in certain cases.

What are the grey areas of Indian taxation

  • There are certain grey areas of taxation where the Income-Tax Department is in contest with offshore trusts.
  • After the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, 2015, came into existence, resident Indians have to report their foreign financial interests and assets.
  • NRIs are not required to do so.
  • The I-T Department may consider an offshore trust to be a resident of India for taxation purposes if the trustee is an Indian resident.
  • In cases where the trustee is an offshore entity or an NRI, if the tax department establishes the trustee is taking instructions from a resident Indian, then the trust may be considered a resident of India for taxation purposes.

What are the government initiatives on Indian Taxation?

(1) Legislative Action

  • The Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018

It seeks to confiscate properties of economic offenders who have left the country to avoid facing criminal prosecution or refuse to return to the country to face prosecution.

  • The Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017

Uniform SGST and IGST rates will reduce the incentive for evasion by eliminating rate arbitrage between neighboring States and that between intra and inter-state sales.

  • The Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act, 2016
    • It is designed to curb black money and passed by parliament in came into effect.
    • Persons indulging in benami transactions may face up to 7 years’ imprisonment and fine.
    • Furnishing false information is punishable by imprisonment up to 5 years and fine.
    • Properties held benami are liable for confiscation by government without compensation.
    • Initiating Officer may pass an order to continue holding property and may then refer case to Adjudicating Authority which will then examine evidence and pass an order.
    • Appellate Tribunal will hear appeals against orders of Adjudicating Authority. High Court can hear appeals against orders of Appellate Tribunal.
  • The Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, 2015
    • It penalizes the concealment of foreign income and provides for criminal liability for attempting to evade tax in relation to foreign income.
    • The Act gave a one-time opportunity to Indian residents to declare undisclosed foreign income and assets.
    • The concerned person had to pay tax at the rate of 30% and an equal amount by way of penalty if found having undisclosed overseas wealth.
    • However, in case of non-declaration, the provisions included slapping of tax at the rate of 30% along with a penalty equal to three times the amount of tax evaded or 90% of the undisclosed income or the value of the asset.
    • The Act provides for punishment of jail for 3-10 years for the willful evasion.
  • Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002
    • The PMLA was enacted in 2002 and it came into force in 2005. The chief objective of this legislation is to fight money laundering, that is, the process of converting black money into white.
    • The Act enables government authorities to confiscate property and/or assets earned from illegal sources and through money laundering.
    • Under the PMLA, the burden of proof lies with the accused.

(2) International cooperation

  • Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements (DTAAs): India is proactively engaging with foreign governments with a view to facilitate and enhance the exchange of information under Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements (DTAAs)/Tax Information Exchange Agreements (TIEAs)/Multilateral Conventions.
  • Automatic Exchange of Information: India has been a leading force in the efforts to forge a multilateral regime for proactive sharing of financial information known as Automatic Exchange of Information which will greatly assist the global efforts to combat tax evasion.
  • Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act of USA: India has entered into an information sharing agreement with the USA under the act.

Way Forward

  • In the current running economy, the measures taken by the governments are not sufficient enough to solve the problems of over growing scams and other economic crimes.
  • There is need of strict provisions to deal with such problems.
  • The governments are required to bring out certain reforms to overcome these issues such as to govern the crimes of economics the government should revamp the laws since the existing laws are not so harsh.
  • Also the enforcement agencies should try to keep bars on the benefits arising out of such crimes by the offenders or scam.
  • Side by side, all the private or public agencies such as income tax department, custom offices, police departments, SEBI, etc. should work in a coordination to quickly get rid of these economics crimes.

Conclusion

  • It is clearly evident from the aforementioned cases that the occurrence and re – occurrence of such scams can only be attributed to the weak financial regulations and a failure of corporate governance in finance.

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Announcements

Last Minute Revision Modules for UPSC CSE Prelims 2021

Revision and practice of the mock test have incomparable importance in the UPSC Prelims examination. Considering this year’s prelims being just a week ahead, it’s high time that all of the appearing aspirants should go through the important and most repetiting topics being asked in the exam.

Looking at the demand of the examination, we have started the “Mission Nikalo Prelims’ initiative for better coverage of the syllabus. We have cherrypicked the ‘60 most important topics‘ from where a maximum number of questions have been asked by UPSC in the past 10 years. We have accompanied the mock tests so that the practice angle should also get covered.

It’s the best time to give the final touch to your preparation and cover the topics which have left due to a dearth of time. The link to the initiative is given below:

Mission Nikalo Prelims (Click here)

All the best!

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Mission Nikaalo Prelims

Schemes, Project, and Policies Regarding Science and Technology

09th Oct 2021

 

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1. SATHI

The Department of Science & Technology has launched a unique scheme calledSophisticated Analytical & Technical Help Institutes(SATHI)”.

Objectives of the Scheme

  • SATHI will address the problems of accessibility, maintenance, redundancy and duplication of expensive equipment in the institutions.
  • This will also foster a strong culture of collaboration between institutions and across disciplines to take advantage of developments, innovations and expertise in diverse areas.

2. National Mission on Quantum Technologies & Applications (NM-QTA)

The Finance Minister in budget 2020 has announced a National Mission on Quantum Technologies & Applications (NM-QTA).

About NM-QTA

  • The mission will function under the Department of Science & Technology (DST).
  • It will be able to address the ever-increasing technological requirements of society and take into account the international technology trends.
  • The mission will help prepare next-generation skilled manpower, boost translational research and also encourage entrepreneurship and start-up ecosystem development.

3. Project MANAV: Human Atlas Initiative

  • For the first time, Indian scientists will be mapping every single tissue of the human body to have a deeper understanding of the roles of tissues and cells linked to various diseases.
  • Department of Biotechnology (DBT) launched MANAV: Human Atlas Initiative towards improving knowledge on human physiology.
  • It is a project funded by DBT, which aims at creating a database network of all tissues in the human body from the available scientific literature.
  • It is a project that involves scientific skill development for annotation, science outreach along with handling big data.
  • It will involve gaining better biological insights through physiological and molecular mapping, develop disease models through predictive computing and have a holistic analysis and finally drug discovery.
  • The student community, who will be the backbone on assimilating the information, will be trained and imparted with skills to perform annotation and curation of information that will ultimately form the online network.
  • DBT has invested funds shared between two institutions in Pune – National Centre for Cell Science (NCCS) and Indian Institute of Science, Education and Research (IISER), Pune.
  • Besides, Persistent Systems Limited has co-funded the project and is developing the platform.

4. Project Cosmic Microwave Background-Bharat

  • CMB stands for Cosmic Microwave Background, and the scientific space project CMB-Bharat has been presented as a proposal to ISRO and is under consideration.
  • In the workshop, project CMB-Bharat, which could help us listen to the faintest murmurs of the early universe, was discussed.
  • CMB-Bharat is a proposal for comprehensive next-generation Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) mission in international collaboration with major Indian contribution.
  • This referred to quantum gravitational waves, which are different from what LIGO detectors had observed that were classical in nature.

5. Phyto-Pharma Plant Mission

Objectives

  • Rs 50 crore Mission aimed at conservation and cultivation of endangered and threatened endemic medicinal plants, and discovery of new botanical drugs for unmet medical needs using the rich traditional ethnobotanical knowledge and biodiversity of these states and at the same time also improve the availability of authentic and quality botanical raw material on a sustainable basis for a boom in the phyto-pharmaceutical industry
  • Nodal Ministry –Ministry of Science & Technology

6. Brahmaputra Biodiversity and Biology Boat

Objectives

  • B4 will establish a large barge on the river with a well-equipped laboratory for analysis of all components of the entire ecosystem of the river and surroundings. The B4 will link to all the local research institutions along the river, as well as national and international laboratories
  • Nodal Ministry –Ministry of Science & Technology

7. INSPIRE (INNOVATION IN SCIENCE PURSUIT FOR INSPIRED RESEARCH)

Objectives

  • To attract talent to Science.
  • To communicate to the youth of the country the excitements of creative pursuit of science, attract talent to the study of science at an early age and thus build the required critical human resource pool for strengthening and expanding the Science & Technology system and R&D base.
  • It does not believe in conducting competitive exams for the identification of talent at any level.
  • It believes in and relies on the efficacy of the existing educational structure for the identification of talent.
  • INSPIRE has three components:
  • i. Scheme for Early Attraction of Talent (SEATS)
  • ii. Scholarship for Higher Education (SHE)
  • iii. Assured Opportunity for Research Careers (AORC)
  • The Inspire Awards have been renamed as MANAK

8. JIGYASA –

Objectives

  • Student-Scientist Connect Programme
  • Connecting school students and scientists so as to extend student’s classroom learning with that of a very well planned research laboratory-based learning.
  • CSIR + Kendriya Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS).

9. VAJRA

Objectives –

  • The Government of India recently launched VAJRA (Visiting Advanced Joint Research) Faculty scheme by the Department of Science and Technology which enables NRIs and overseas scientific community to participate and contribute to research and development in India. The Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB), a statutory body of the Department will implement the Scheme.
  • International Faculty / scientists/technologists including Non-resident Indians (NRI) and Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) / Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) are offered adjunct / visiting faculty positions in Indian Institutions / Universities for a period of 1-3 months under this scheme. The faculty can also undertake the role of teaching /mentoring apart from R&D.
  • Public funded institutions and national laboratories are allowed to host the VAJRA faculty.
  • Nodal Ministry –Ministry of Science & Technology

10. National Initiative for Developing & Harnessing Innovation (NIDHI)

Objectives

A programme to address the complete chain of innovation ecosystem right from scouting to mentoring to scaling up innovations. launched by DST. Establishment of a research park at IIT Gandhinagar has been supported at a cost of Rs.90 cr.

11.Surya Jyoti

Objectives

  • In order to capture daylight and concentrate the same inside a dark room, particularly in the urban slum or rural areas which lack electricity supply, a low cost and energy-efficient Micro Solar Dome (Surya Jyoti) has been tested and developed. -Potential users of this device are10 million households.
  • According to preliminary estimates, if this technology is adopted in 10 million households only, it has the potential of saving 1750 million units of energy.
  • It would also lead to an emission reduction of about 12.5 million ton of CO2 equivalent, hence giving a fillip to the mission of ‘Clean India, Green India’.
  • The manufacturing process, being labour-intensive, would also generate huge job opportunities in the economy.
  • Nodal Ministry – Department of Science & Technology.

12. Rashtriya Avishkar Abhiyan

  • Rashtriya Avishkar Abhiyan is running successfully to motivate children to learn Science, Maths and Technology through observation and experimentation.
  • It was launched on 9th July 2015 by Late Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Former President of India.
  • Nodal Ministry-HRD Ministry.

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Mission Nikaalo Prelims

Important Schemes Regarding MSME Sectors

06th Oct 2021

 

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Credit Guarantee Trust Fund for Micro and Small Enterprises (CGTMSE)

What is CGTMSE?

  • CGTMSE is a fund which provides a guarantee for loans given to MSEs i.e. in case borrowers fails to give back loans, the bank will get their money from this fund.
  • It is a Central Government program to promote MSMEs.
  • Government has increased corpus of fund from Rs 2500 crore to Rs 7500 crore
  • Now loans given by NBFCs can also be covered under this fund

Udyami Mitra’ portal

  • Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) has revamped its Udyami Mitra with enhanced features.
  • The portal was launched to improve the accessibility of credit for the MSMEs.
  • It helps MSMEs for submission of loan applications which can be picked up by multiple lenders.
  • It aims at bringing in transparency in the processing of loans by the banks.
  • Now non-banking finance companies and small finance banks are being on-boarded on the platform for enhancing the flow of credit to MSMEs.
  • Under the new capitalisation plan, banks will have to compete for loans through the revamped udyamimitra portal.

A Scheme for Promotion of Innovation, Rural Industry and Entrepreneurship (ASPIRE)

  • ASPIRE has been launched on 16.03.2015 with an objective to set up a network of technology centres, incubation centres to accelerate entrepreneurship and also to promote start-ups for innovation and entrepreneurship in the rural and agriculture-based industry with a fund of Rs.210 crores.
  • The planned outcomes of ASPIRE are setting up Technology Business Incubators (TBI), Livelihood Business Incubators (LBI) and creation of a Fund of Funds for such initiatives with SIDBI.

Prime Ministers Employment Generation Programme, PMEGP

  • Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) is a nodal implementation agency at the national level.
    At State and district level, State offices of KVIC, Khadi and Village Industries Boards (KVIBs) and District Industry Centres (DIC) are the implementing agencies.

Objectives

  • To generate continuous and sustainable employment opportunities in Rural and Urban areas of the country
  • To provide continuous and sustainable employment to a large segment of traditional and prospective artisans, rural and urban unemployed youth in the country through setting up of micro-enterprises.
  • To facilitate the participation of financial institutions for higher credit flow to the micro sector.

Eligibility

  • Individuals above 18 years of age
  • VIII Std. pass required for the project above Rs.10.00 lakhs in manufacturing and above Rs. 5.00 lakhs for Service Sector
  • Self Help Groups and Charitable Trusts
  • Institutions registered under Societies Registration Act- 1860
  • Production-based Co-operative Societies

Salient features of the scheme

  • The Scheme is implemented through KVIC and State/UT Khadi & V.I. Boards in Rural areas and through District Industries Centres in Urban and Rural areas in ratio of 30:30:40 between KVIC / KVIB / DIC respectively.
  • No income ceiling for setting up projects.
  • Assistance under the Scheme is available only to new units to be established.
  • Existing units or units already availed any Govt. Subsidy either under State/Central Govt. Schemes are not eligible.
  • Any industry including Coir Based projects excluding those mentioned in the negative list.
  • Per capita investment should not exceed Rs. 1.00 lakhs in plain areas and Rs. 1.50 lakhs in Hilly areas.
  • The maximum project cost of Rs. 25.00 lakhs in the manufacturing sector and Rs. 10.00 lakhs in Service Sector.
Credit Linked Capital Subsidy Scheme (CLCSS)-CLCSS aims at facilitating technology up-gradation of Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs) by providing 15% capital subsidy (limited to maximum Rs.15 lakhs) for purchase of Plant & Machinery.   -Maximum limit of eligible loan for calculation of subsidy under the scheme is Rs.100 lakhs. Presently, more than 1500 well established/improved technologies under 51 sub-sectors have been approved under the Scheme.

UDYAM SAKHI

It is a network for nurturing social entrepreneurship creating business models revolving around low-cost products and services to resolve social inequities.

Mission

  • Udyam Sakhi seeks to encourage women entrepreneurs and to aid, counsel, assist and protect their interests. It also preserves free competitive enterprise and to maintain and strengthen the overall economy of our nation.
  • The Udyam Sakhi helps Indian women to start, build and grow businesses. It recognises that women entrepreneur in the industry is critical to economic recovery and strength, in building the nation’s future, and to helping India compete in today’s global marketplace.
Samadhan PortalThe portal aims at empowering micro and small entrepreneurs across country to directly register their cases relating to delayed payments by Central Ministries, Departments, CPSEs, State Governments.The Samadhaan portal will give information about pending payment of MSEs with individual CPSEs/Central Ministries, State Governments, etc.   The CEO of PSEs and Secretary of Ministries concerned will also be able to monitor cases of delayed payment under their jurisdiction and issue necessary instructions to resolve the issues. The portal will facilitate monitoring of delayed payment in more effective manner. The information on portal will be available in public domain, thus exerting moral pressure on defaulting organisations. The MSEs will also be empowered to access portal and monitor their cases.

Zero Defect, Zero Effect

  • ZED Scheme aims to rate and handhold all MSMEs to deliver top quality products using clean technology.
  • It will have sector-specific parameters for each industry.
  • ZED Scheme is meant to raise quality levels in unregulated MSME sector which is an engine of growth for the Indian economy.
  • The scheme will be the cornerstone of the Central Government’s flagship Make in India programme, which is aimed at turning India into a global manufacturing hub, generating jobs, boosting growth and increase incomes.

National Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribes (SC/ST) Hub

  • Ministry of  Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) is implementing a scheme of  National Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribes (SC/ST) Hub.
  • The Hub is set up to provide professional support to SC/ST entrepreneurs to fulfil the obligations under the Central Government Public Procurement Policy for Micro and Small Enterprises Order 2012, adopt applicable business practices and leverage the Stand-Up India initiatives.
  • The functions of Hub include collection, collation and dissemination of information regarding SC/ST enterprises and entrepreneurs, capacity building among existing and prospective SC/ST entrepreneurs through skill training and EDPs, vendor development etc.
  • Four special subsidy schemes/programmes have been approved under National SC/ST Hub namely
    • Single Point Registration Scheme
    • Special Marketing Assistance Scheme (SMAS)
    • Performance & Credit Rating Scheme and
    • Special Credit Linked Capital Subsidy Scheme.

SFURTI

  • As per the revised guidelines, the following schemes are being merged into SFURTI:
  1. The Scheme for Enhancing Productivity and Competitiveness of Khadi Industry and Artisans
  2. The Scheme for Product Development, Design Intervention and Packaging (PRODIP)
  3. The Scheme for Rural Industries Service Center (RISC) and
  4. Other small interventions like Ready Warp Units, Ready to Wear Mission, etc.

Objectives of Scheme

  • To organize the traditional industries and artisans into clusters to make them competitive and provide support for their long term sustainability and economy of scale;
  • To provide sustained employment for traditional industry artisans and rural entrepreneurs;
  • To enhance the marketability of products of such clusters by providing support for new products, design intervention and improved packaging and also the improvement of marketing infrastructure;
  • To equip traditional artisans of the associated clusters with the improved skills and capabilities through training and exposure visits;
  • To make provision for common facilities and improved tools and equipment for artisans to promote optimum utilization of infrastructure facilities;
  • To strengthen the cluster governance systems with the active participation of the stakeholders, so that they are able to gauge the emerging challenges and opportunities and respond to them in a coherent manner;
  • To build up innovated and traditional skills, improved technologies, advanced processes, market intelligence and new models of public-private partnership s, so as to gradually replicate similar models of cluster-based regenerated traditional industries
  • To look for setting up of multi-product cluster with an integrated value chain and a strong market-driven approach for viability and long term sustainability of the cluster;
  • To ensure convergence from the design stage with each activity of the cluster formation and operations thereof.
  • To develop specific product lines out of the currently offered diversified basket of heterogeneous products based on the understanding of the target consumer segment. A brand unification exercise also needs to be done to maximize the value.

Trade-Related Entrepreneurship Development Assistance Scheme (TREAD) Women entrepreneurship programme

  • There is a provision of Govt of India Grant up to 30% of Loan/credit sanctioned subject to a maximum ceiling of 30 Lakhs to NGOs as appraised by Lending Institutes/Banks for undertaking capacity building activities such as Training, counselling, participation in exhibitions, the establishment of new SHGs etc and other components as approved by Bank/Steering Committee.
  • The non-farming activities taken up by women are Tailoring, Handicrafts, Embroidery, Toy making, Readymade garments, Candle making, Agarbatti making, paper cup and plate making, Masala powder making, Saree weaving, Coir mat making, Pickles making, Readymade garments, basketry and brooms making, Jute bag making etc.
  • The focus of the scheme is to promote self-employment and income generation activities for women mostly from SHG groups in the non-farm sector.

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Mission Nikaalo Prelims

GI Tags in News

08th Oct 2021

 

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Geographical Indications in India

  • A Geographical Indication is used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin.
  • Such a name conveys an assurance of quality and distinctiveness which is essentially attributable to its origin in that defined geographical locality.
  • This tag is valid for a period of 10 years following which it can be renewed.
  • Recently the Union Minister of Commerce and Industry has launched the logo and tagline for the Geographical Indications (GI) of India.
  • The first product to get a GI tag in India was the Darjeeling tea in 2004.
  • The Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 (GI Act) is a sui generis Act for the protection of GI in India.
  • India, as a member of the WTO, enacted the Act to comply with the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights.
  • Geographical Indications protection is granted through the TRIPS Agreement.

Two well-known products from Tamil Nadu — Dindigul lock and Kandangi Saree — have been given the Geographical Indication (GI) tag by The Geographical Indications Registry in Chennai.

Dindigul lock

  • The Dindigul locks are known throughout the world for their superior quality and durability, so much so that even the city is called Lock City.
  • Government institutions such as prisons, godowns, hospitals, and even temples use these locks instead of other machine-made ones.
  • The application for the lock was made by the Dindigul Lock, Hardware and Steel Furniture Workers Industrial Co-operative Society Limited.
  • More than 3,125 lock manufacturing units are limited to an area of 5 km in and around Dindigul.
  • The abundance of iron in this region is the reason for the growth of the industry.
  • There are over 50 varieties of locks made by the artisans using raw materials such as MS flat plates and brass plates procured from the nearby towns, including Madurai and Salem.

The Kandangi sarees

  • The Kandangi sarees are manufactured in the entire Karaikudi taluk in Sivaganga district.
  • They are characterised by large contrast borders and some are known to have borders covering as far as two-thirds of the saree which is usually around 5.10 m-5.60 m in length.
  • Worn in summer, these cotton sarees are usually bought by customers in bulk.
  • The Amarar Rajeev Gandhi Handloom Weavers Co-operative Production and Sales Society Limited filed the application for the Kandangi saree.

Palani Panchamirtham

  • PalaniPanchamirtham, an abishegaPrasadam, from Palani Town is one of the main offerings in the Abisegam of Lord Dhandayuthapani Swamy, the presiding deity of the Temple.
  • It is a combination of five natural substances, namely, banana, jaggery sugar, cow ghee, honey and cardamom in a definite proportion.
  • It is prepared in a natural method without addition of any preservatives or artificial ingredients and is well known for its religious fervour and gaiety.
  • This is the first time a temple ‘prasadam’ from Tamil Nadu has been bestowed with the GI tag.

Tawlhlohpuan

  • Tawlhlohpuan, a medium to heavy, compactly woven, good quality fabric from Mizoram is known for warp yarns, warping, weaving & intricate designs that are made by hand.
  • Tawlhloh, in Mizo language, means ‘to stand firm or not to move backward’. Tawlhlohpuan, which holds high significance in the Mizo society, is produced throughout the state of Mizoram, Aizawl and Thenzawl town being the main centre of production.

Mizo Puanchei

  • Mizo Puanchei, a colourful Mizo shawl/textile, from Mizoram, is considered as the most colourful among the Mizo textiles.
  • It is an essential possession for every Mizo lady and an important marriage outfit in the state.
  • It is also the most commonly used costume in Mizo festive dances and official ceremonies.
  • The weavers insert the designs and motifs by using supplementary yarns while weaving to create this beautiful and alluring textile.

Tirur betel vine

  • Tirur betel vine from Kerala is mainly cultivated in Tirur, Tanur, Tirurangadi, Kuttippuram, Malappuram and Vengara block panchayaths of Malappuram District.
  • It is valued both for its mild stimulant action and medicinal properties.
  • Even though it is commonly used for making pan masala for chewing, it has many medicinal, industrial and cultural usages and is considered as a remedy for bad breath and digestive disorders.

Panchamirtham’ of Palani temple gets GI tag

  • The famous Palani panchamirtham, given as ‘prasadam’ at the Murugan temple at Palani has been granted the Geographical Indication (GI) tag.
  • This is the first time a temple ‘prasadam’ from Tamil Nadu has been given the GI tag.

About the Panchamirtham

  • It is sweet in taste and one of the main offerings for Lord Dhandayuthapani Swamy, the presiding deity of Arulmigu Dhandayuthapani Swamy Temple, situated on Palani Hills.
  • The panchamirtham is a combination of five natural substances — banana, jaggery, cow ghee, honey and cardamom.
  • Dates and diamond sugar candies are added for flavour.
  • The panchamirtham is an ‘abhishega prasadam’ (food that is a religious offering), which is served in a semi-solid state.
  • Not even a single drop of water is added during the preparation of the panchamirtham.
  • This gives it its classic semi-solid consistency and taste. No preservatives or artificial ingredients are used.

Pashmina

  • Pashmina is a fine type of cashmere wool. The textiles made from it were first woven in Kashmir.
  • The wool comes from a number of different breeds of the cashmere goat; such as the changthangi or Kashmir pashmina goat from the Changthang Plateau in Tibet and part of the Ladakh region and few parts of Himachal Pradesh.
  • Often shawls called shahmina are made from this material in Kashmir and Nepal; these shawls are hand spun and woven from the very fine cashmere fibre.
  • Traditional producers of pashmina wool are people known as the Changpa.

About Kodaikanal’s malai poondu Garlic

  • Also known by its scientific name Allium Sativum, this particular garlic is known for its medicinal and preservative properties. It is grown in the Kodaikanal Hills, Dindugul district.
  • It has anti-oxidant and anti-microbial potential, which is attributed to the presence of higher amount of organosulfur compounds, phenols and flavonoids compared to other garlic varieties.
  • Its usually white or pale yellow and each bulb weighs 20-30g on an average.
  • According to the GI application, Kodaikanal Hill Garlic cultivation is done twice in a year, once around May and for second time in November depending upon the suitability of the climate.
  • The hill altitude, the misty condition and the soil prevailing in the Kodaikanal region are responsible for its medicinal property and the long storage shelf life of the garlic.

Kolhapuri Chappal

  • According to the GI application made by the two states, Kolhapuris can be traced back to the 12th century King Bijjal who ruled Bidar in Karnataka.
  • His prime minister Vishwaguru Basavanna wanted to create a casteless society and remove the stigma associated with the cobbler community.
  • The community embraced Lingayat faith and used its creative skills to start producing footwear known equally for its ruggedness and regal bearing.
  • Brand Kolhapuri came into being only in the beginning of 20th century when the footwear began to be traded in Kolhapur.
  • Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj (1874-1922) of Kolhapur encouraged its production and 29 tanning centres were opened during his rule in Kolhapur.

Kandhamal Haldi

  • Kandhamal in Odisha’s southern hinterland is famed for its turmeric, a spice that enjoys its pride of place in an array of cuisines.
  • The agricultural product also stands out for its healing properties and arresting aroma.
  • The GI tag was primarily developed with the purpose of recognising the unique identity connecting different products and places.
  • For a product to get GI tag it has to have a unique quality, reputation or characteristic which is attributable to its geographic origin. ‘Kandhamal Haldi’ has been placed under Class-30 type.

GI Tag for 5 Indian Coffee varieties

Coorg Arabica coffee 

  • It is grown specifically in the region of Kodagu district in Karnataka.

Wayanaad Robusta coffee 

  • It is grown specifically in the region of Wayanad district which is situated on the eastern portion of Kerala.

Chikmagalur Arabica coffee 

  • It is grown specifically in the region of Chikmagalur district and it is situated in the Deccan plateau, belongs to the Malnad region of Karnataka.

Araku Valley Arabica coffee 

  • It is coffee from the hilly tracks of Visakhapatnam district of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha region at an elevation of 900-1100 Mt MSL.
  • The coffee produce of Araku, by the tribals, follows an organic approach in which they emphasise management practices involving substantial use of organic manures, green manuring and organic pest management practices.

Bababudangiris Arabica coffee 

  • It is grown specifically in the birthplace of coffee in India and the region is situated in the central portion of Chikmagalur district.
  • Selectively hand-picked and processed by natural fermentation, the cup exhibits full body, acidity, mild flavour and striking aroma with a note of chocolate.
  • This coffee is also called high grown coffee which slowly ripens in the mild climate and thereby the bean acquires a special taste and aroma.

Sirsi Arecanut

  • It is cultivated in Yellapura, Siddapura and Sirsi taluks.
  • Totgars’ Cooperative Sale Society Ltd., Sirsi, is the registered proprietor of the GI.
  • The arecanut grown in these taluks have unique features like a round and flattened coin shape, particular texture, size, cross-sectional views, taste, etc.
  • These features are not seen in arecanut grown in any other regions.

Shahi Litchi

  • The lychee crop, which is available from May to June, is mainly cultivated in the districts of Muzaffarpur and surrounding districts.
  • Cultivation of litchi covers approximately an area of about 25,800 hectares producing about 300,000 tonnes every year.
  • India’s share in the world litchi market amounts to less than 1%.
  • The names of the litchi produced in Muzaffarpur are Shahi and China.
  • The fruits are known for excellent aroma and quality.

King of Mangoes gets GI tag

  • Alphonso from Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg, Palghar, Thane and Raigad districts of  Maharashtra, is registered as Geographical Indication (GI).
  • The king of mangoes, Alphonso, better known as ‘Hapus’ in Maharashtra, is in demand in domestic and international markets not only for its taste but also for pleasant fragrance and vibrant colour.
  • It has long been one of the world’s most popular fruit and is exported to various countries including Japan, Korea and Europe.
  • New markets such as USA and Australia have recently opened up.

GI Tag for Telangana

  • The Chennai-based GI Registry gave Geographical Indication certificate for Warangal dhurries
  • The shatranji carpets and jainamaaz prayer mats are made in Warangal

Specialty of carpets

  • Bright colors, geometrically repetitive patterns and interlocking zigzag motifs in cotton and jute are the signature styles of the carpets
  • One of the newest innovations by the weavers here is an adaptation of tie-dyed ikat techniques and hand-painted or block-printed kalamkari designs for the dhurries to save time and energy.

Kalamkari Paintings

  • Kalamkari or qalamkari is a type of hand-painted or block-printed cotton textile, produced in Iran and
    India
  • Its name originates in the Persian, which is derived from the words qalam (pen) and kari (craftsmanship),
    meaning drawing with a pen
  • There are two distinctive styles of kalamkari art in India – the Srikalahasti style and the Machilipatnam
    style
  • The Srikalahasti style of kalamkari, wherein the "kalam" or pen is used for freehand drawing of the
    subject and filling in the colors is entirely hand worked
  • The Pedana Kalamkari craft made at Pedana nearby Machilipatnam in Krishna district, Andhra Pradesh,
    evolved with the patronage of the Mughals and the Golconda sultanate

MP gets GI tag for a chicken breed

  • Madhya Pradesh has received the Geographical Indications (GI) tag for Kadaknath, a chicken breed whose black meat is in demand in some quarters
  • The protein-rich meat of Kadaknath, chicks, and eggs are sold at a much higher rate than other varieties of chicken.

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Announcements

Last Minute Revision Modules for UPSC CSE Prelims 2021

Revision and practice of the mock test have incomparable importance in the UPSC Prelims examination. Considering this year’s prelims being just a week ahead, it’s high time that all of the appearing aspirants should go through the important and most repetiting topics being asked in the exam.

Looking at the demand of the examination, we have started the “Mission Nikalo Prelims’ initiative for better coverage of the syllabus. We have cherrypicked the ‘60 most important topics‘ from where a maximum number of questions have been asked by UPSC in the past 10 years. We have accompanied the mock tests so that the practice angle should also get covered.

It’s the best time to give the final touch to your preparation and cover the topics which have left due to a dearth of time. The link to the initiative is given below:

Mission Nikalo Prelims (Click here)

All the best!

Categories
Yojana/RSTV

[Yojana Archive] Fighting Femicide

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

September 2021: “Nari Shakti”

Context: Violence Against Women (VAW)

  • VAW is a growing concern throughout the region and within South Asia, which is home to one-fifth of the world population, violence, or the risk of violence, permeates every aspect of women’s lives from birth to death.
  • It is estimated that one-third of South Asian women experience violence throughout their lives and VAW is institutionalised through family structures, wider social and economic frameworks, and cultural and religious traditions.
  • This violence is insidious, it is a widely accepted method for controlling women, is largely overlooked by law enforcement agencies, and is ignored by those in power.
  • The violence against women is more glaring as Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated the condition of women in every walk of life.

Definition of Femicide

  • The term femicide was originally defined as the killing of women but has been adapted over time to represent the act of killing women because of their gender.
  • In this sense, femicide is understood to be motivated by misogyny and prejudice against women.
  • For a case to be considered femicide there must be an implied intention to carry out the crime and a demonstrated connection between the crime and the gender of the victim.
  • Throughout India, several forms of violence against women fit within the definition of femicide including domestic violence, honour killings, dowry deaths, sex-selective abortions, infanticide, domestic violence, and witch-hunting.

A case severed by the Pandemic

  • A 53% rise is seen in crime against women in 2020 from cases rising from 1411 cases/month to 2165 cases/month after a lockdown was imposed.
  • In India, the mortality rate for women from Covid is 3.3 per cent compared to 2.9 per cent for men.
  • This paper will focus on domestic violence, dowry deaths, and sex-selective abortions.

[A] Domestic Violence

  • Domestic violence is prevalent across India and is widely accepted as a legitimate part of family life by both women and men.
  • The family institution is an extremely important aspect of Indian culture and is central to the country’s social and economic frameworks.
  • However, for many women the family does not represent a safe and protective unit, rather it reinforces wider patterns of gender discrimination and legitimises violence as a method for controlling and subjugating women.
  • The most recent National Family Health Survey found that in India 34% of women between the ages of 15-49 have experienced violence at some point since they turned 15 and that 37% of married women have experienced violence.

[B] Dowry Deaths

  • Dowry is a cultural tradition in which the family of the bride gives cash and presents to the family of the groom.
  • It was originally meant to support new couples beginning their married life.
  • However, India’s prevailing patriarchy as well as rising economic demands have turned dowry into a commercial transaction that is underpinned by socio-economic standing and reinforces the financial dependency of women on their husbands.
  • The dowry system also reinforces discrimination against women and dowry-related deaths continue to compromise women’s safety throughout India, Pakistan, Nepal, and Bangladesh.
  • According to NCRB reports, on average, every hour a woman succumbs to dowry deaths in India with the annual figure rising upwards to 7000.
  • Violence against women often increases when a family requests a larger dowry after marriage or shows dissatisfaction with the dowry they have received.

[C] Sex-selective abortions

  • The practice of sex-selected abortions throughout South Asia, particularly in India, highlights the extent of patriarchy and misogyny throughout the region.
  • It is a particularly insidious form of violence because it prevents girl children from being born purely because they are girls.
  • The practice of sex-selective abortions is growing throughout the region.
  • About 6.8 million lesser female births will be recorded across India by 2030 because of the persistent usage of selective abortions, researchers estimate.
  • The increasing availability of prenatal technologies means that families are able to determine the sex of the foetus and are choosing to abort female foetuses at an alarming rate.
  • An estimated 10 million female foetuses have been aborted over the past two decades.

Responses to Femicide

  • New laws and policies as well as growing support from law enforcement agencies and civil society groups are empowering women to seek assistance in the case of violence and abuse.
  • Furthermore, efforts are being made to improve the implementation of legislation that is helping to increase the rate of conviction and reducing the prevalence of gender-related crimes.

[A] Legal Protection

  • Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961:  It bans the request and payment of the dowry of any form as a precondition for marriage.
  • Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCIPNDT) Act, 1994: It prohibits the use of prenatal technologies to determine the sex of a foetus and several states have launched vigilance cells to curb incidences of female foeticide.
  • IPC and CrPC: There is no legislation directly addressing honour killings and currently, the crime is dealt with under the Indian Penal Code or the Criminal Procedure Code.

[B] Affirmative Actions

  • Women’s organisations have also worked to educate women on their rights and provide support to those who have experienced violence.
  • Many NGOs across the country provide counselling, legal support, and livelihood programmes for women so that they can become more empowered and financially independent.
  • This is paralleled by government initiatives to promote women’s social and political empowerment.

[C] Political Empowerment

  • The reservation of 33% of seats in India’s local government increased women’s political participation and has led to more gender friendly governance.
  • The development of further affirmative legislation in the State of Goa, which allocates nearly half of the state’s representative council seats for women.
  • However, in the year 2020, India ranked 142 among 193 countries in terms of the per centage of women in Parliament.
  • A total of 78 women MPs were elected in 2019 i.e., 14.4%.
  • The number of women voters had risen from 47% (2014) to about 48% (2019) while women MPs in the 16th Lok Sabha stand at 11.2% after more than 70 years of Independence.

Unaddressed Issues

  • In spite of these efforts femicide persists throughout India.
  • While legislation may protect victims of violence in theory in many cases the penalties outlined within the legislation are weak.
  • Furthermore, the implementation of these laws remains limited and, in many cases, ineffective in preventing femicide or prosecuting the perpetrators of this violence.
  • A lack of commitment to ending VAW at the political level is evident across India and is preventing substantive action at the legislative, policy, and programmatic level.
  • A lack of funding and infrastructure to address violence remains one of the biggest impediments to the effective implementation of this legislation and little budgetary allocations are directed towards the reduction of violence against women and the realisation of women’s rights.

Approaches Required to Address Femicide

  • Efforts must be made to encourage and support governments to develop effective and comprehensive approaches to femicide.
  • Legislation is also essential for addressing structural gender discrimination as well as cultural and social legitimisation of violence against women.
  • Tackling femicide is extremely difficult especially given that gender discrimination and violence against women are so embedded within India’s social, cultural, and economic structures.
  • Responses to femicide must be comprehensive and involve the development and implementation of strong legislation, gender-sensitive law enforcement policies and protocols.
  • There needs to be awareness-raising at the grassroots level, support for individuals and families experiencing violence, and the realisation of women’s social, economic, and political rights.

Increase in Support Services for Women

  • There is inadequate support available for women who experience violence and in many cases their lack of resources means they are forced to endure ongoing violence.
  • Support programmes can strengthen infrastructure by increasing shelter homes and improving medical facilities.
  • This infrastructure ensures that women who wish to leave violent situations have safe alternative accommodation, medical services, and social-support services.
  • Support services can also educate women on their rights and the legislation protecting them from violence and can assist them to make positive changes in their lives and to respond to violence.
  • Awareness-building programmes around women’s rights are essential to addressing the underlying causes of domestic violence.
  • Currently, only approximately 1% of women report incidences of abuse and many are not aware of their rights or legislation protecting them from violence and harassment.

Conclusion: Addressing Patriarchy

  • Femicide cannot be fully addressed without tackling the widespread patriarchy and misogyny that permeates much of Indian society.
  • It is vital that the overwhelming culture of patriarchy is taken into consideration when developing interventions so that outdated attitudes towards women are replaced with respect and gender sensitivity.
Categories
Announcements

Last Minute Revision Modules for UPSC CSE Prelims 2021

Revision and practice of the mock test have incomparable importance in the UPSC Prelims examination. Considering this year’s prelims being just a week ahead, it’s high time that all of the appearing aspirants should go through the important and most repetiting topics being asked in the exam.

Looking at the demand of the examination, we have started the “Mission Nikalo Prelims’ initiative for better coverage of the syllabus. We have cherrypicked the ‘60 most important topics‘ from where a maximum number of questions have been asked by UPSC in the past 10 years. We have accompanied the mock tests so that the practice angle should also get covered.

It’s the best time to give the final touch to your preparation and cover the topics which have left due to a dearth of time. The link to the initiative is given below:

Mission Nikalo Prelims (Click here)

All the best!

Categories
Mission Nikaalo Prelims

Major Tribes in India and PVTGs

07th Oct 2021

 

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Major Tribes in India: Arranged State-wise

Andhra Pradesh:  Andh, Sadhu Andh, Bhagata, Bhil, Chenchus (Chenchawar), Gadabas, Gond, Goundu, Jatapus, Kammara, Kattunayakan, Kolawar, Kolam, Konda, Manna Dhora, Pardhan, Rona, Savaras, Dabba Yerukula, Nakkala, Dhulia, Thoti, Sugalis, Banjara, Kondareddis, Koya, Mukha Dhora, Valmiki , Yenadis, Sugalis, Lambadis.

Arunachal Pradesh: Apatanis, Abor, Dafla, Galong, Momba, Sherdukpen, Singpho, Nyishi, Mishmi, Idu, Taroan, Tagin, Adi, Monpa, Wancho

Assam: Chakma, Chutiya, Dimasa, Hajong, Garos, Khasis, Gangte, Karbi, Boro, Borokachari, Kachari, Sonwal, Miri, Rabha, Garo

Bihar: Asur, Baiga, Birhor, Birjia, Chero, Gond, Parhaiya, Santhals, Savar, Kharwar, Banjara, Oraon, Santal, Tharu

Chhattisgarh: Agariya, Bhaina, Bhattra, Biar, Khond, Mawasi, Nagasia, Gond, Binjhwar, Halba, Halbi, Kawar, Sawar,

Goa: Dhodia, Dubia, Naikda, Siddi,Varli, Gawda.

Gujarat: Barda, Bamcha, Bhil, Charan, Dhodia, Gamta, Paradhi, Patelia, Dhanka, Dubla, Talavia, Halpati, Kokna, Naikda, Patelia, Rathawa, Siddi.

Himachal Pradesh: Gaddis, Gujjars, Khas, Lamba, Lahaulas, Pangwala, Swangla, Beta, Beda Bhot, Bodh.

Jammu and Kashmir: Bakarwal, Balti, Beda, Gaddi, Garra, Mon, Purigpa, Sippi, Changpa, Gujjar.

Jharkhand:  Birhors, Bhumij, Gonds, Kharia, Mundas, Santhals, Savar, Bedia, Ho, Kharwar, Lohra, Mahli, Parhaiya, Santal, Kol, Banjara.

Karnataka: Adiyan, Barda, Gond, Bhil, Iruliga, Koraga, Patelia, Yerava, Hasalaru, Koli Dhor, Marati , Meda, Naikda, Soligaru.

Kerala: Adiyan, Arandan, Eravallan, Kurumbas, Malai arayan, Moplahs, Uralis, Irular, Kanikaran, Kattunayakan, Kurichchan, Muthuvan.

Madhya Pradesh: Baigas,  Bhils, Bharia, Birhors, Gonds, Katkari, kharia, Khond, Kol, Murias, Korku, Mawasi, Pardhan, Sahariya,

Maharashtra:  Bhaina, Bhunjia, Dhodia, Katkari, Khond, Rathawa, Warlis, Dhanka, Halba, Kathodi, Kokna, Koli Mahadev, Pardhi, Thakur,

Manipur: Naga, Kuki, Meitei, Aimol, Angami, Chiru, Maram, Monsang, Paite, Purum, Thadou, Anal, Mao, Tangkhul, Thadou, Poumai Naga.

Meghalaya: Chakma, Garos, Hajong, Jaintias Khasis, Lakher, Pawai, Raba, Mikir.

Mizoram: Chakma, Dimasa, Khasi, Kuki, Lakher, Pawi, Raba, Synteng, Lushai

Nagaland:  Angami, Garo, Kachari, Kuki, Mikir, Nagas, Sema, Ao, Chakhesang, Konyak, Lotha, Phom, Rengma, Sangtam.

Odisha:  Gadaba, Ghara, Kharia, Khond, Matya, Oraons, Rajuar, Santhals, Bathudi, Bathuri, Bhottada, Bhumij, Gond, Juang, Kisan, Kolha, Kora, Khayara, Koya, Munda, Paroja, Saora, Shabar, Lodha.

Rajasthan: Bhils, Damaria, Dhanka, Meenas(Minas), Patelia, Sahariya, Naikda, Nayaka, Kathodi.

Sikkim:  Bhutia, Khas, Lepchas, Limboo, Tamang

Tamil Nadu: Adiyan, Aranadan, Eravallan, Irular, Kadar, Kanikar, Kotas, Todas, Kurumans, Malayali,

Telangana: Chenchus.

Tripura: Bhil, Bhutia, Chaimal, Chakma, Halam, Khasia, Lushai, Mizel, Namte, Mag, Munda, Riang,

Uttarakhand: Bhotias, Buksa, Jannsari, Khas, Raji, Tharu.

Uttar Pradesh: Bhotia, Buksa, Jaunsari, Kol, Raji, Tharu, Gond, Kharwar, Saharya , Parahiya, Baiga, Agariya, Chero

West Bengal: Asur, Khond, Hajong, Ho, Parhaiya,  Rabha, Santhals, Savar, Bhumij, Bhutia, Chik Baraik, Kisan, Kora, Lodha, Kheria, Khariam, Mahali, Mal Pahariya, Oraon,

Andaman and Nicobar:  Oraons, Onges, Sentinelese, Shompens.

Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups

The government of India follows the following criteria for the identification of PVTGs. 

  • Pre-agricultural level of technology
  • Low level of literacy
  • Economic backwardness
  • A declining or stagnant population.

Accordingly, 75 PTVGs have been identified in the country. 

State / UT NamePVTGs Name
Andhra Pradesh and Telangana1. Bodo Gadaba 2. Bondo Poroja 3. Chenchu 4. Dongria Khond 5. Gutob Gadaba 6. Khond Poroja 7. Kolam 8. Kondareddis 9. Konda Savaras 10. Kutia Khond 11. Parengi Poroja l2. Thoti
Bihar and Jharkhand13. Asurs 14. Birhor 15. Birjia 16. Hill Kharia 17. Konvas 18. Mal Paharia 19. Parhaiyas 20. Sauda Paharia 21. Savar
JharkhandSame as above
Gujarat22. Kathodi 23. Kohvalia 24. Padhar 25. Siddi 26. Kolgha
Karnataka27. Jenu Kuruba 28. Koraga
Kerala29. Cholanaikayan (a section of Kattunaickans) 30. Kadar 31. Kattunayakan 32. Kurumbas 33. Koraga
Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh34. Abujh Macias 35. Baigas 36. Bharias 37. Hill Korbas 38. Kamars 39. Saharias 40. Birhor
ChhattisgarhSame as above
Maharashtra41. Katkaria (Kathodia) 42. Kolam 43. Maria Gond
Manipur44. Marram Nagas
Odisha45. Birhor 46. Bondo 47. Didayi 48. Dongria-Khond 49. Juangs 50. Kharias 51. Kutia Kondh 52. Lanjia Sauras 53. Lodhas 54. Mankidias 55. Paudi Bhuyans 56. Soura 57. Chuktia Bhunjia
Rajasthan58. Seharias
Tamil Nadu59. Kattu Nayakans 60. Kotas 61. Kurumbas 62. Irulas 63. Paniyans 64. Todas
Tripura65. Reangs
Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand66. Buxas 67. Rajis
West Bengal68. Birhor 69. Lodhas 70. Totos
Andaman & Nicobar Islands71. Great Andamanese 72. Jarawas 73. Onges 74. Sentinelese 75. Shorn Pens

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Categories
Announcements

Last Minute Revision Modules for UPSC CSE Prelims 2021

Revision and practice of the mock test have incomparable importance in the UPSC Prelims examination. Considering this year’s prelims being just a week ahead, it’s high time that all of the appearing aspirants should go through the important and most repetiting topics being asked in the exam.

Looking at the demand of the examination, we have started the “Mission Nikalo Prelims’ initiative for better coverage of the syllabus. We have cherrypicked the ‘60 most important topics‘ from where a maximum number of questions have been asked by UPSC in the past 10 years. We have accompanied the mock tests so that the practice angle should also get covered.

It’s the best time to give the final touch to your preparation and cover the topics which have left due to a dearth of time. The link to the initiative is given below:

Mission Nikalo Prelims (Click here)

All the best!